(This comes from Chapter 9 of Apologist Dan Story’s book on “Christianity on the Offense”)
No book is exhaustive enough to cover every subject related to its field of inquiry. This is certainly true in the area of religion. I can’t begin to analyze every religion and philosophy competing with Christianity. There are at least twelve hundred organized religions in America alone. What I hope to adequately cover in this book are the religious and philosophical worldviews that the majority of Christians encounter at work, in the neighborhood, and among family and friends. But there are many others we could examine—some representing millions of devotees. Islam, for example, embraces many millions of devout followers worldwide. Between three- and four-million Muslims reside right here in the United States. Animism, the tribal religion of all primitive people, is still practiced in many parts of the world. There are also numerous cults vying for acceptance as purveyors of religious truth: Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, The Children of God (The Family of Love), and Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, just to name a few. Finally there is the occult: Satanism and witchcraft.
Even though space prevents an examination of these and other religions, the material presented in this book can still be useful as a guide for analyzing and testing their truth-claims. It can be applied equally well to all non-Christian worldviews.
Non-Christian religions simply do not have the kinds of objective evidence that supports Christian truth-claims. Most other religions do not even attempt to defend their beliefs. Let’s return to Islam for a moment as an example. Although there are Islamic apologists, apparently many—if not most—Muslims do not engage in a rational defense of the Koran as Christians do the Bible. Their claim that the Koran is fully reliable as divine revelation is not based on “a critical examination of its veracity and historicity. They accept its truth by blind faith. They assume that neither God nor Muhammad would lie.”
Likewise tribal religions. Animists, such as the Native Americans in their pristine state, have no interest in rationally examining their truth-claims. Rather “faith in these systems is blind faith—reason cannot condemn or deny any aspect of their spirituality, according to adherents. Most tribal religious views are accepted from early childhood as part of what it means to be a member of the tribe.”
There is one issue relevant to the cults, however, that needs to be mentioned and briefly examined. It is the tendency of some cults to associate themselves with Christianity and, therefore, to claim that they reflect a more accurate revelation of the Christian worldview.
These cults promote a counterfeit Christian worldview. We must not confuse the cults with Christianity simply because cults use Christian terminology and claim to be Christian. Think of all the cults as representing a single, distinct worldview—even though individual beliefs and practices vary from cult to cult. This can be done because all cults exhibit certain characteristics that set them apart from Christianity. We’ll look at the most important.
What Is a Cult?
First, let’s define what is meant by the word cult. According to Dr. Charles S. Braden, “A cult … is any religious group which differs significantly in some one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious groups which are regarded as the normative expressions of religion in our total culture.” Historically in Western civilization, the “normative expression of religion” has been Christianity. Thus Christians identify a cult more precisely as a group “which surrounds a leader or a group of teachings which either denies or misinterprets essential biblical doctrine.” James Sire added this observation:
Totally non-Christian movements like the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishna) and Transcendental Meditation (TM) are often not thought of as cults because they originate in another religious tradition. Still, their leaders often quote the Christian Scriptures as if they supported their own doctrine. So for this reason, I will not emphasize their distinction from the Christian-oriented cults.
To Christians, a cult can be defined as a perversion of biblical Christianity.
A characteristic of many cults is their claim to be Christian or a fuller revelation of Christianity. This is what makes them so dangerous and why I’m mentioning them in this book at all. Many Christians are seduced into a cult by mistakenly believing that they represent just another Christian denomination. And many non-Christians join a cult thinking they are becoming Christians. This confusion is made more hazardous because cults frequently use Christian words and terminology, redefined to convey an altogether different meaning than the Christian understanding. Thus a cult member can speak of Christ, the Holy Spirit, faith, and sin but mean something entirely different from the orthodox Christian understanding. This is nowhere more evident than in Christian Science.
In her book Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, founder Mary Baker Eddy included a glossary of more than a hundred biblical words whose meanings she presumptuously and unjustifiably altered. These new definitions took on “spiritual” rather than literal meanings, which Eddy declared better reflected their “original meaning.” For example, Angels: “God’s thoughts passing to man”; Baptism: “Purification by Spirit; submergence in Spirit”; Death: “An illusion, the lie of life in matter; the unreal and untrue”; Father: “Eternal Life; the one Mind; the divine Principle, commonly called God”; Jesus: “The highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea”; Mother: “God; divine and eternal Principle; Life, Truth, and Love.”
Logic demands that only one among competing religions can reflect divine revelation. They may all be false (including Christianity), but no more than one can be right. This same logic applies to the cults. Regardless of whether a particular cult claims to be Christian or even agrees with many Christian beliefs, if it does not adhere to essential Christian doctrines, it can’t be Christian. This is exactly what all cults do. Here are a few examples.
The most significant departure from Christianity that all cults are guilty of is rejecting Jesus Christ as God. No cult confesses Jesus as the Son of God, the second person in the triune Godhead, eternally coequal in essence, power, and authority with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Jesus of the cults is far removed from the holy Son of God revealed in Scripture. Members of the Unification Church, for example, view Jesus as a man whom people not only can equal, but also can surpass. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ believe Jesus is a unique, but still created, lesser god. To the Mormons, Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer. Christian Science speaks of Jesus as a human being who demonstrated “Christness” or the “divine idea,” but He is not the resurrected Son of God.
Any person or religious organization that denies Jesus as the Son of God as revealed in God’s inspired Bible is forever separated from the God of heaven’s religion Christianity (2 Cor. 11:4, 13; Gal. 1:8). All cults reject the Jesus of Scripture. On this evidence alone, no cult belongs in the Christian family. If Jesus is who He claims to be (fully God and fully human—1 John 2:22), the cults are wrong and are not Christian.
Another area in which the cults deviate from Christianity concerns their view of Scripture. Most Christian cults claim to accept the Bible as authoritative, but not exclusively so, and only in accordance with their own interpretation.
Many cults claim to have a high regard for [Scripture]. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, claim the Bible as their sole authority. The Mormons place it first in their list of Scriptures. The Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon also gives it an authoritative position, as does Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science. Even the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation, and other writers in the Eastern traditions quote favorably from the Bible.
Their interpretations, of course, are based on their own presuppositions and religious views. Also, the major cults, such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Scientists, have other “holy” books or writings that serve as an interpretive framework for the Bible. The cults reject both the inerrancy of Scripture as well as its singular and absolute authority.
Source of Authority
A third significant way in which the cults deviate from orthodox Christianity is their tendency to unite around and focus upon an individual or organization that becomes the ultimate source of authority. The authority and power held by these individuals is said to be supernatural in origin. Thus Mary Baker Eddy can claim that her interpretations of Scripture are the “absolute conclusions … [of] divine revelation, reason, and demonstration.”
Cult members are often fanatical in their loyalty—sometimes giving all of their money to the organization and even forsaking family and friends. The cults in turn demand complete obedience and submission, with the threat of damnation for failure to comply. Thus devotees frequently come under the complete control of their leaders in all areas of life.
Changes in Doctrine
A fourth characteristic of the cults that is quite different from Christianity is this. Doctrinal issues are frequently capricious and subject to change. Christianity, whose essential teachings are universal and absolute and have not been subject to modification among orthodox Christians through two millenniums, cultic doctrines change according to the need of the moment. New revelation freely supersedes old revelation. The Book of Mormon, for example, has “required almost four thousand alterations from its original publication in 1830.” Some of these alterations have been significant. Mormonism’s rejection of polygamy and their more recent dispensation of religious equality to African Americans reflect major and far-reaching doctrinal changes. Apparently, the gods of Mormonism (there are many of them) have a hard time making up their minds!
The following are remarks by this writer who separated this chapter for individual review:
If you don’t know God’s inspired Bible and God’s will you can be easily taken in by one of the cults. Please, go to some Christian outside the religious organization you may be participating in and seek someone whom you trust and can ask their opinion. You may go to any true Christian pastor and/or believer for this information. But know that there is only one living God, the living, loving, gracious God in heaven and scripture who created everything that was created. He also created His own religion now called Christianity on earth. He also created only one version of His will in His holy book we call the Holy Bible. He did not authorize any changes or misinterpretations of His will. His Word (the bible) is inerrant. If you say God’s Word which we know as the Holy Bible is not inerrant, then it is the same as calling God a liar and the wrath of God comes to the ones who call or imply that God is a liar. The religion He created is called Christianity and the Holy Bible was written on earth by His prophets and His Son’s disciples and their aides and they are the very words of God and Jesus. There are no other true words of God. No man, prophet or other living being can deviate, re-interpret, or make up any other versions of God’s word without creating an abomination in the eyes of God. And those who create an abomination or participate in an abomination will not come to live in God’s heaven.
Please, everyone who reads this should be very careful and go to great lengths to verify that the God, religion, church, and religious leaders are true and the things they teach are based on God’s will, His word and His religion. Otherwise, you will cut yourself off from the very God who wants you for His child. You will not experience all of the many wonderful things he has already made available, promised or will provide in the afterlife to His elect children.
Doesn’t it just make plain old common sense that there is just one living, loving, gracious God that created everything that was created and sustains it all, the same God who set down His religion, His bible, His process of becoming a child of His, and His way of getting into His heaven. How can common sense possibly say otherwise? IN REALITY IT CAN’T!!!
Those who choose to deviate from the path God has chosen for His children and refuse to believe everything God has provided in His bible and has had His prophets and teachers teach, portray, live out and relate to us will simply live a life on this earth without God, and forever without God in a very bad place in the afterlife that God will choose for you.
Are you real sure that the religion you participate in now is God’s religion only and it uses only God’s written word that He had written in his inspired bible and it is not changed or misinterpreted.
For those of you who do not believe in God or do not participate in a religion, it is your freedom of choice given to you by God either to believe in him and His will or to live without Him forever. Either way you will be judged by Him because He created you. You are a child from God. The only question is will you accept Him or forget Him.
For your sake, please seek the real living, loving God of scripture and His Son Jesus Christ and make the right choices to learn about Him and what He has to offer you now and forever. Also learn why you desperately need to choose Him as your Father and His Son Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is your choice but it could also lead to either your devastating way of life or your wonderful blessed life.
“A false religion is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.”
God in his mercy does not give us what we do deserve but God in his grace gives us what we don’t deserve.
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I praise You for Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your grace in sending us Your wisdom about “What About Other Religions.” Please bless each and everyone who read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding.
Please, help them understand in their hearts and minds the true things about You, Your religion and Your written Word found in Your inspired Bible. I pray that they will be guided to the right decisions in life and that they will become a child of yours because they want to not because they have to.
May God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights, our safety nets and our inspiration for loving happiness in all of Your kingdom. Father into your hands I commend my spirit. Not my will, but Yours be done. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit,
Christian thought: If there is only one God who made everything and since there are no other living gods wouldn’t it be a good thing to get to know God and all His Will? It is His heaven we all won’t to be able to go to, so why would anyone ever consciously want to go against His will?