Tarantulas molt. Who knew?
If you look closely at the picture, only one of the two spiders is real. The other, a discarded shell.
Have you ever noticed that cult religions are like this as well? At first glance, they look like the real thing. It’s only when you look closer that you realize what you’re dealing with. If you realize what you’re dealing with. To be able to spot real Christianity from fake Christianity, first you must have a foundation of true biblical teaching.
The first book in this series, For Time and Eternity, was one of the very first books I reviewed on this blog.
I recently finished the sequel, Forsaking All Others. I very much like this series. While I don’t normally read historical fiction, I enjoyed the books premise. A young Christian girl from a very strict family follows a charismatic young Mormon man on the Mormon pilgrimage to settle Utah. Not only do you get exposed to the history of the Mormon faith, but you get to see it through a girl who, deep down, knows what they’re teaching isn’t right. And we all know, or should, that Mormonism and Christianity mix together as well as oil and water.
The second book, Forsaking All Others, picks up the story where For Time and Eternity left off. While oil and water don’t blend, they can be difficult to effectively separate, especially where there are children involved. The end of the series is set against the Mormon desire to become a state, and the US governments refusal to allow polygamy.
My undergraduate degree was in Anthropology, so I very much enjoy learning about other cultures and what they believe. It’s one of the reasons my husband found me in bed last Saturday morning reading a JW tract. Once I assured him I wasn’t going to convert ;) I got back to research.
So what is a cult? Chip MacGregor gave an excellent definition of one today on his blog.
Let’s define a cult as a group of people with beliefs outside of orthodoxy, usually secretive, almost always exclusive, who tend to see outsiders as dangerous, and are led by one charismatic and authoritative leader who has a unique interpretation of truth, but who commands nearly every aspect of the lives of the followers.
Another definition, this one by Alan Gomes, quoted by Ron Rhodes in his excellent book, The Challenge of the Cults and New World Religions (Zondervan, 2001):
A group of people, which claiming to be Christian, embraces a particular doctrinal system taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization, which [system] denies (either explicitly or implicitly) one of more of the central doctrines of the Christian faith as taught in the sixty-six books of the Bible.
The important points are that in cults, what is taught in the Bible is brought under the authority of a human teacher. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young for the Mormons, the Watchtower Society for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And whichever group you speak with, on the surface their teachings seem no different than orthodox Christianity. Either they use the same terms but define them differently, or they use similar terms but the context is changed.
And then there are groups like this, identifying themselves as Baptist (Fundamentalists). I received this tract in the mail shortly after moving into our new house. You’ll notice that if you are a reader of the NIV, NASB, or other popular Bible translations, you are under the Antichrist. Personally, I’m safe, because my Bible is NLT. Just sayin’ ;)
Here, this church professes the King James Bible (not the original languages) to be the “infallible, inerrant, and inspired Holy Word of God.” The group is under the authority of one man to whom God gave a vision and a burden. Sounds like the definition of a cult, does it not?
My point is that just because a church claims to be of an orthodox denomination, you must check their doctrinal statements and teaching closely against Scripture. No one person or organization has special revelation of Scripture or from God. God gave His Word to everyone. Outside the truth of the gospel, the real Jesus, the God of the Bible, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must be ever vigilant.
Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. ~ Matthew 7:15
Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. ~Matthew 24:4-5
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. ~Galatians 1:8
But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. ~2 Corinthians 11:3-4
[Dismounts from soap box]. So, friends, let me hear from you. Have you read any good fiction out there that shows the difference between true Christianity and false teaching like the Sister Wife Series? Or do you have any experience with a cult?