Catching a Cult – Part 2
Now that we have an understanding of what a cult is and how to identify one, lets take a look at some cults and see if we can spot the cult-like behaviour.Gnosticism:
It is not easy to get objective information on these guys, because most of the information we have, was written by the early church who opposed them. We do, however, still have a basic understanding of what they believe in.
Gnostics believe that the Abrahamic God (YHWH) is a created being. They view Him as imperfect or evil and because He is imperfect, the world that He made is also imperfect.
They believe that “salvation” comes through divine knowledge or “gnosis” which is where the word gnostic comes from.
The Gnostics view Christianity as somewhat pre-mature. They view God as someone who should be ignored or shunned because they believe that He is ignorant of the fact that He is created. They view Jesus as one who received much divine revelation but he is not the Son of God and is definitely not God-Himself.
It is hard to point out where the origins of this movement started but it definitely started to take its full form shortly after the ascension of Christ and lead Christians away from the faith. Some Scholars believe that the first epistle of John was written to combat the influence that a gnostic sect had on Christianity.Spot the cult:
In this case, it is not hard to spot where the cultish behaviour lies. Gnosticism is a text book example of a cult. Let’s see if they have broken the two rules stated in the beginning.
Is God enough?
They believe that God is a created being and that He should be ignored, so clearly He is not enough. They do not believe in Salvation through Jesus’ work on the cross, again God is not enough. Is Scripture enough:
Because Gnostics believe that you can still receive divine revelation that God has not revealed in Scripture, they obviously believe that Scripture is not enough. They also have other sacred writings that Protestants do not believe to be scriptural which include the false gospels like the gospel of Thomas. These are additional manuscripts that are undoubtedly not the Word of God, so we see again that Scripture is not enough. Conclusion:
God and Scripture are most definitely not enough for this religious group. It is easy to spot the cult-like behaviour practised by these guys from a mile off.
While many people see Mormons simply as a denomination of Christianity, I believe that it requires a closer look.
Mormons do believe in the Abrahamic God, but there is a bit of a twist. The Mormon church shares the belief with Gnostics, that, God is a created being. They believe that He lives on a star that revolves around the planet Kolob with all His wives where they have spirit babies. These spirit babies are then incarnated on earth in the form of human beings. Everyone in the human race are all brothers and sisters according to Mormon doctrine. Not only are we brothers and sisters but Mormon doctrine teaches that Satan and Jesus are brothers to each other as well as brothers to us. The Mormon church therefore denies the Trinity because Jesus is only Gods child and not God Himself.
Mormonism teaches that there are three heavens, and what we would call hell, they would call outer darkness (although it is not nearly as scary as the Biblical hell). They believe that pretty much everyone is going to one of these levels of heaven and it is nearly impossible to land up in outer darkness. When speaking about eternal matters, such as salvation, a Mormon hopes to make it to the third level of heaven, which is where God lives. In the book of Mormon, Ephesians2:8-9 is slightly twisted. They say that “we are saved by grace after all we can do” where The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and not of our selves nor of works. Mormons believe that you get to the third heaven by practising good works and basically being a good Mormon. Another one of their teachings is baptism for the dead. You can get baptised on behalf of a dead relative or pretty much anyone to atone for their sins, they do this so that the person might end up in a higher level of heaven in the afterlife.
Mormonism came about in the 1820s when a young man named Joseph Smith.Jr was visited by God and Jesus who spoke to him. One of the things that Joseph Smith “received” was that Christianity was doing everything wrong and that all the creeds were an abomination. It was up to him to change the face of Christianity and teach the truth that was meant to be taught from the beginning.
A few years later he was led by extra-terrestrials to a place in New York. In New York there was a location that had golden tablets which contained extra Biblical information. How those golden plates got there is a long story on its own. The writings on these plates are what contributed to the writing of the book of Mormon. Mormons view the book of Mormon as the most accurate and inspired book on earth. In fact the Bible is only about number four on their list of holy books. They hold to the teaching that God still has apostles and prophets here on earth that can teach us extra-Biblical doctrine and practises.
Most people are unaware of the teachings that Mormonism holds to. I have only given you a broad outline of their teachings and I am sure that you can already see a cause for concern. Is God enough?
One teaching in Mormonism is that we too can become gods one day in heaven, if we are good enough people here on earth. We will become gods just as our heavenly father is a god.
If they think that man can be held with the same esteem as God one day, as well as all their other beliefs concerning Salvation and the person of God then it is clear that God is not enough. Is scripture enough?
By the time that Joseph Smith received his “divine revelation” the Bible had been well established for centuries. The Bible needs no extra information added to it. The Bible needs no modern day prophet to improve it. The Bible, for a Mormon, is not enough.
The examples that we have looked at are somewhat radical but now you can see how to apply these two simple principles to any questionable belief system.
While it is important to use these principles where ever we can, we must also remember to be gentle and loving. If you are using these principles to be mean and lord your knowledge over someone who is stuck in a false religion then I would rather you didn’t use them at all. We must be the light of the world and set an example of love that will attract people who are genuinely seeking the truth. Use these principles for your own wellbeing and to help reveal the light to someone else, but do so with compassion and love.
Let us be firm in doctrine, devotion and love.