Much of what has been written previously in this series has been foundational. Meaning, how can we share what we believe with others if we aren’t sure of what we believe ourselves. We have discussed the Bible, one Book, two testaments, three confessions, the four councils, and five centuries of Christianity. Basically, Orthodox Christianity. It is here in part four I will conclude with some non essentials, and identifying some cults. Because if we don’t know, we are sharing the unknown…
Let’s quickly touch on some of the more popular non essentials. Age of the earth. Prior to attending seminary I had never even heard anything other than the Genesis 1 account taken literally, six twenty-four hour days. Now it seems many debate this as much as they do the problem of evil. It is an important topic, but non-essential to salvation. Others include a harmonious local body such as church government, sign gifts, and the return of Christ. There are many other debates and discussion concerning the church. And sadly, many become upset and leave, or even worse, completely turn their back on God. Here in lies the most important reason we need to know truth. Truth causes much division. Some see apologetics in the same way. However, the point of the last portion of this particular blog is not only Biblical, but may be one of the most divisive topics of all; cults.
The reason it is so vital that we know and understand what and why we believe is to refute error and forewarn other Christians. It is here that apologetics get a bad name, well part of the reason anyway. We must let people know there are both true and false versions of Christianity. Thus the previous three parts of establishing a foundation to build on. Let’s start with the Biblical basis, what a concept, of this sometimes touchy subject. 2 Cor. 11:14 speaks of satan disguising himself as an angel of light, to appeal to people. Falsehood is always more appealing. Matthew 7:15-23 speaks of false prophets, those that appear to look Christian, producing false disciples, and the verse many seem to skip concerning people calling Him Lord, and Him telling them to depart from Him. Acts 20:26-31, Paul tells us false teachers will arise, and more importantly we are charged to warn them. Here is where most become angry. Strangely, people like what they believe whether it is true or not. Finally, 2 Cor. 11:3,4. An entirely different Jesus was being spread along with a different gospel and spirit. Many other pieces of scripture speak of the same things, Gal. 1:6-9, 2 Tim. 4:1-8, 2 Peter 2:1-3 all give a warning. There are many today dong the same thing. So how or what do we do? Name names! 2 Tim. 2:16, 17, Paul mentions names and even mentions the teaching itself. Something like calling out prosperity teachers, what they teach, and who they are. Yet people become extremely angry because of the unknown. The Bible!
The criteria for identifying a cult is pretty simple and to the point. They claim a doctrinal truth, have a leader, claim Christianity, but deny one or more essential doctrines! Typical characteristics include: emphasis on miracles and experiences over doctrine, and reducing Biblical authority. This is why I attempted to emphasize the importance of the Trinity. There are many false views on tis particular essential, TD Jakes being one example. Other examples of cults include Mormonism, Jehovah Witness, and Kenneth Copeland, (he thinks his teachings come from direct knowledge from God telling him what the Bible means). “All groups that deny Christianity are false. All cults are false religions. Not all false religions are cults.” Kevin Lewis
*Some of the material contained in the blog were obtained from “notes” at Biola University, Responding to Cults by Kevin Lewis