Tag Archives: cult

13 Must-Visit Websites on Debunking Mormonism

In which you learn about 13 sites that debunk Mormonism.

Want a quick and easy way to learn about the differences between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity?

Then check out this list of must-visit online resources:

1. CARM rolls out a clean, systematic page for . Everything that makes Mormonism a heresy, that is.

2. Mark J. Cares at CRI shares an .

3.  . Find resources exploring the J. Smith claim that he discovered and translated a lost record by Abraham.

4. Of course, it’s always best to read the book everyone is critiquing. The official online edition of the .

5. An official– but frisky–Catholic article on the .

6. Writers from the Mormonism Research Ministry explore the , namely that their were ten versions.

7. A robust topical index of  finds just about every hole there is to poke in the Mormon faith. [Warning: Hideous, pre-1992 website.]

8. Bringham Young University writer Alan Goff reviews  by former Mormon Dan Vogel[Insightful reply.]

9. Wikipedia entry on  who wrote the Manuscript Story…which some believe Smith plagiarized to write the Book of Mormon.  

10. –a twisted website exposing the twisted doctrines of Mormonism. [If you can get through the wreckage you’ll unearth provocative stories of ex-Mormons.]

11. A robust .

12.  Not strictly a website…Matthew A. Paulson’s book  at Google books. [Read it free, baby.]

13. And last but not least, the BBC’s report on .

Did I miss any notable websites devoted to debunking Mormonism? Let me know.

**Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.**

13 Quick Facts on 13 Christian Cults and Sects

What’s the point behind this series? Intellectual pleasure? Satisfaction? An odd curiosity?Thought I forgot about this series, eh? Nope. Just let her simmer on the back burner.

Anyway, I still want to round her out with 13 posts.

So, I thought now would be a good time to pull all the articles out there into one tidy, little post…

And show you what’s on the horizon.

And just so you know, the point behind this series: Intellectual pleasure. Satisfaction. An odd curiosity?

See, until I started this series I knew very little about the differences between cults like Scientology or sects like Fundamentalism.

So, it’s good ground to cover.

Anyway, here’s where we’re at and where we’re going. Hope you’ll stay along for the ride.

Intro: Revising the American Religion Most of what you know as American Christianity is scarcely Christian in any traditional way.

Unitarians Secrets on Unitarianism–from what they think of the Trinity to famous Unitarians.

Rosicrucian File this under controversial. Conspiratorial. Bizarre. Trivial. Wherever you file it, know this: This is serious stuff some people lock-in on.

Fundamentalism Take a peek at this North American phenomenon.

Pentecostals Want to know who the 13 most famous Pentecostals of all time are? Read on.

Seventh-Day Adventists Why they observe Saturday as Sabbath and their connection to David Koresh.

Theosophy Their original purpose was to investigate, study and explain mediums and their claims. It’s changed a tad since 1875.

Scientology Quite likely the most ruthless, terroristic, litigious and lucrative cult the country has ever seen. [Good comments on this one.]

Spiritism 13 disturbing facts about this ancient religion.

Swedenborgians Founded in the 18th century after rationalist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, this cult enjoys a small, but exotic following.

World Wide Church of God Normally, cults crop up and just got creepier. The Worldwide Church of God, on the other hand, took a shocking turn for the better.

Mormons List of 13 must-read websites dedicated to exposing the differences between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity.

Jehovah’s Witnesses Thirteen key doctrines clothing store owner Charles Taze Russell taught through his religious society know as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

13 Quick Facts on the Worldwide Church of God

Normally, cults crop up and just got creepier. The Worldwide Church of God, on the other hand, took a shocking, dramatic turn.

For the most part, cults crop up and just get creepier.

Take Scientology or Theosophy for example.

The Worldwide Church of God, on the other hand, took a shocking, dramatic turn for the better. In just one decade.

You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

1. Oregon, late 1920s. , a newspaper advertising designer, accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

2. Armstrong launched the  radio program on January 7, 1934, broadcast in Eugene, Oregon. The 30 minute program amounted to a church service…complete with hymns and sermon from Armstrong.

3. Armstrong respected the Bible immensely and must be commended for his zeal to preach from it–no matter how difficult the topic.  Yet, he lacked the training or discipline to  with tradition and experience. Thus his dive into legalism.

4. Armstrong believed that Christians should celebrate Sabbath on Saturday–not Sunday–since the Bible gave no command to move the holy day.

5. Since traditional Christianity was wrong on such a major topic, Armstrong reasoned it was wrong on others, too. He jettisoned orthodoxy.

6. Armstrong claimed that Americans and Britains  and that God was a family–Father and Son–not a Trinity.

7. He taught that the Holy Spirit was an impersonal force, much like .

8. Armstrong taught salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, but also stressed obedience to keeping the Sabbath holy…a commandment he viewed as a  of a Christian’s salvation.

9.  Armstrong  from voting, serving in the military, marrying after divorce, visiting doctors, using cosmetics or observing Christmas, Easter and birthdays. This focus on rules eliminated grace from sermons. Members became legalistic and snubbed other Christians.

10. As God’s apostle leading the one true church, Armstrong demanded loyalty to his brand of doctrine and church governance. If anyone objected or rebelled,  they were .

11. Central to Armstrong’s teaching was prophetic speculation, namely when the  would occur. Each decade, from the 30s to the 80s, he warned of it’s imminent approach. The good news was that Jesus would appear shortly after the Tribulation.

12.  Shortly before Armstrong died in 1986, he appointed Joseph Tkach as successor. Tkach took to tweaking WCG doctrine, emphasizing faith in Christ and not laws, relaxing restrictions and realizing Armstrong’s prophecies couldn’t be back by Scripture. .

13. Tkach died in 1995. His son Joe became successor and finished the migration into mainstream evangelicalism. In April 2009, the Worldwide Church of God changed their name to Grace Communion International.

Question to ponder: If such a dramatic turnaround could occur with the WCG, could it also happen among the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses? Let me know what you think.

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.

13 Quick Facts about Theosophy

“When one sees eternity in things that pass away and infinity in finite things, then one has pure knowledge.” Bhagavad Gita

That’s the quote that greets you on the home page of The …

A society founded by one  and one  in 1875.

The original purpose behind the society was to investigate, study and explain mediums and their claims.

After several developmental stages, however, including a dive into Eastern religions, the nuts and bolts of the society came down to :

1. To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.

2. To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy, and science.

3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.

Here are ten more quick facts on the religion of theosophy:

4. Blavatsky said, “Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love, and wisdom reflecting its radiance upon earth. . . . The Theosophical Society was formed to show mankind that it exists.”

5. Theosophists believe One Life pervades and sustains the universe.

6.  The universe is the manifestation of an eternal, boundless and immutable Reality beyond the range of human understanding.

7 Matter and consciousness are the two polar aspects of ultimate Reality.

8. An intelligence that is both immanent and transcendent is the basis of all laws of nature. “Deity is Law,” said H. P. Blavatsky.

9. The visible universe is only its densest part. The entire universe is made up of invisible worlds that dictate the physical.

10. Both the visible and invisible universe are evolving to greater expression, awareness and unified consciousness–including you.

11. The human consciousness (spirit or soul) is in essence identical with the one supreme Reality. Our consciousness also connects you and I.

12. The gradual unfolding of this latent divine Reality within us takes place through . This is the law of karma, by which we weave our own destiny through the ages.

13. The human pilgrimage takes us from the One through experience of the many back to the One. When you reach that place, you are enlightened and can make sense of the Gita’s statement that kicked off this discussion.

Legend has it that Blavatsky told some Theosophical students that the real purpose of the Society was to prepare mankind for the World Teacher…

A statement like that brings into into the realm of fringe Christianity. In other words, a cult. I don’t know. Any theosophists out there who can identify the truth of that statement?

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.

13 Quick Facts about Scientology

A reclusive multimillionare who preferred to work all night. A man terrified of germs who fought his growing array of ailments with a variety of drugs and massive vitamin injections.

That’s how Time magazine described L. Ron Hubbard–founder of Scientology–back in 1983.

Later, in 1991,  as a cult thriving on greed and power.

Here are thirteen facts on quite likely the most lucrative cult in America.

1. In May 1950, Hubbard collected and published many ideas common to Scientology in an article for the magazine In the same year he published a systematic presentation of his quasi-psychoterapeutic and religious ideas in a non-fiction book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.

2. Influences on Scientology include philosophers  and , psychologist Sigmund Freud and religions such as Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism, even .

3. Hubbard insisted Scientology was a religion and in 1953 incorporated the Church of Scientology in New Jersey. To this day Scientology is recognized as a tax-exempt religion in the U. S.

4. From 1966 through 1975, Hubbard lived aboard the Scientology’s floating headquarters, the 300-foot boat Apollo.  at his ranch aged 74 on January 24, 1986, .

5. Scientology revolves around the idea of the “thetan,” a person’s essential self expressed in the universal force. Thetans existed in the primordial past, created the universe for their own pleasure and fell from grace when they identified with this creation. Thetans also reincarnate.

6. Scientology splits the mind in two: the reactive and the analytical. The reactive side is responsible for emotions while the analytical, consciousness. Think subconscious versus conscious.

7. Important to Scientology is the concept of survival, broken down into eight classifications, individual survival being the most basic. [Note of Maslov’s hierarchy of needs here.]

8.  and taught that the human population was 80% “social personalities” and 20% “anti-social personalities,” the Hitlers, Stalins, Pol Pots, unrepentant murders and drug lords.

9. Through a process known as “auditing” a Scientologists can solve his problems and free himself of engrams–painful and debilitating mental images that can accumulate and cloud a person’s true identity.

10. Scientologists develop spiritually through a process known as “the ” that involves progressively complex study materials. Donations are required for each course with higher-level courses costing in the thousands.

11. The Church hides higher-levels of mystical teachings to protect unprepared minds and fight against text twisting.

12. Scientology , charging it was responsible for World War I, Hitler’s rise, the decline of education in America, the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo and September 11.

13. Tom Cruise is an unequivocal Scientology fanatic, evident in this .

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.

13 Quick Facts on Swedenborgianisms

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.

If I was ever to bail on orthodox Christianity, this is where I’d land…just so I could have the name: .

Sounds so seductive.

Less like a cult and more like a retreat for exhausted celebrities.

It’s founder, , was a rationalist and mystic who absorbed the writings of Descartes, Locke and Kant…

He then interpreted the Scripture through their combined worldviews.

What emerged was a deeply speculative philosophical system of theology couched in redefined Christian terms and buttressed by visions, dreams and trances.

1. Emanual Swedenborg was born in Stockholm, Sweden on January 29, 1688. He died 85 years later in London on March 29, 1772.

2. Unlike most cult founders, Swedenborg was an intellectual powerhouse. He wrote a gazillion books. He invented a new stove, a magazine air gun and methods to manufacture salt. He drew plans for a  and water docks. He even tried to build a submarine.

3. In 1745 he received a vision to become “both seer and a revelator of the things of the spiritual world.” In fact, 1743 to 1749 proved to be productive in terms of dreams and visions.

4.  He debated theology with Cicero, St. Augustine, Luther, Calvin and St. Paul, whom he bitterly opposed.

5. In fact,  Swedenborg rejected the books of Paul, Peter, James, Jude and Hebrews…leaving only the Gospels and Revelations as orthodox.

6. The launch of  took place in London in 1788, 16 years after Swedenborg’s death.

7. Men have to be 21 to join The Church, women 18. But only after studying the writings of Swedenborg for about six months.

8. The ghost of a dead Dutch ambassador once told Swedenborg that a goldsmith he’d hired stole some money and hid it in a secret bureau drawer. This turned out to be true.

9. He butchered the historical view of the Trinity by rejecting Christ as God and relegating the Holy Spirit to mean “divine sanctity.”

10. Swedenborg wrote that angels in heaven doubled over and vomited whenever someone on earth mentioned man’s damnation and Christ’s death as what reconciled them to God.

11. He believed after death that only the soul continued on. The body remain in the grave.

12. Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, Swedenborg asserted, took place in the eighteenth century…thus, The Church of the New Jerusalem.

13.  claimed Swedenborg was a medium who practiced clairvoyance.

By the way, if you are a Swedenborgian, please say “hi” and let me know if I got my facts straight.

13 Quick Facts about Christian Fundamentalism

Not too long ago I picked on the Pentecostals, so I thought this Sunday I’d tease the Fundamentalists.

Christian Fundamentalism is a North America phenomenon. Born out of a late 19th and early 20th century reaction to liberalism, this movement was fueled by some serious intellectuals.

They’re all but gone now.

And unfortunately, Fundamentalism threatens to overtake evangelical Christianity in America.

This is a problem. Because what appalls some atheists is the Fundamentalist version of Christianity.

So, let’s pry open this box and see what’s inside.

1. The  were formulated around five core beliefs: inerrancy of the Bible, virgin birth, the atonement, Jesus’ bodily resurrection and the second coming.

2. In 1909 the brothers  were responsible for underwriting a series of twelve volumes entitled The Fundamentals.

3. Sixty-four people contributed to The Fundamentals, including scholars, Episcopalian bishops, Presbyterian ministers, Methodist evangelists and even an Egyptologist.

4. Early fundamentalists wanted to combat three trends in mainline Christianity: one, the weakening of the Gospel into a mere social and political agenda…two, the embrace of Darwinism…and three, the .

5. Central to Fundamentalist beliefs was the idea of inspiration and inerrancy expressed by Benjamin Warfield’s notion of .

6. Around 1920, journalists coined the term “Fundamentalist.” No pejorative sense…yet.

7. However, early Fundamentalist showman , who would announce sermon titles like, “The Ten Biggest Devils in Fort Worth With Names Given” and draw large crowds, began to change the meaning of the word Fundamentalist.

8. Baseball player turned evangelist  [who’s pictured] preached a masculine, muscular Christianity…equating salvation with manliness and believed Christianity and patriotism were one and the same.

9. At the famous , lawyer Darrow and journalist H.L. Menken helped to spread the image of the fundamentalists as backwards by mercilessly trouncing Bryan’s understanding of Scripture.

10. Some argue that it was actually the death of –the most public Fundamentalist figure–that created the movements retreat into the political and cultural background. That’s since changed.

11. Contemporary fundamentalists tend to love the Republican party and their moral agenda centered on abortion and patriotism.

12. In , Harold Bloom deems Billy Graham “the archetypal minister” of contemporary fundamentalism.

13. Finally, it’s bewildering to see the Presbyterian  and Pentecostal  lumped into the same movement.

I have to admit: Research on this one was hard for me.


If I identify with any movement, it’d be this one. And that disturbs me.

I don’t like the baggage it’s accumulated: narrowmindedness, intolerance and xenophobia. Things I’m prone to if not careful.

So…what do you think? Share your thoughts. Brutal and all.

**Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.**

13 Quick Facts about Famous Pentecostals

Want to know who the 13 most famous Pentecostals of all time are? Read on.

Pentecostalism, for nearly a century, has been a native American sect.

And it vies with Mormons and Southern Baptists as one of the most vital religious movements in our country.

This is the tradition I grew out of. So its close to home.

But for those of you who don’t know much about Pentecostalism and its people, here are 13 must-know personalities.

1. Joel

Around 800 BC  that God will pour out his spirit on mankind and everyone will prophesy, dream dreams and see visions.

2. Peter

In the second chapter of Acts,  to explain the tongues of fire, the ruckus and the strange words and non-words on the streets of Jerusalem.

3. Paul

Commands us to  at all times.

4. Charles Fox Parnham

On January 1, 1901, Parnham led his Bible school of Holiness followers in an ecstatic celebration of Baptism in the Holy Ghost.

5. Agnes Ozman

Parnham follower–and ignorant of Chinese–Agnes asserted that for three days after Parnham’s celebration she spoke Chinese and wrote Chinese.

6. William Seymour

About 1910, led his followers into a perpetual storm of Pentecost at the Azusa mission in Los Angeles where the Charismatic movement was born.

7. Jimmy Swaggert

Catastrophically passionate and charismatic, this televangelist shocked his audience with a confession of .

8. Jim Bakker

A shadow of his contemporary Swaggert, Bakker still managed to get entangled in sex and tax scandals.

9. James Watt

Prominent Assemblies of God laymen and Regean’s Secretary of Interior  because of the looming apocalypse.

10. Kenneth Hagin

The grandaddy of the  movement.

11. Benny Hinn

Regularly heals people of blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, and severe physical injuries during his Miracle Crusades.

12. Todd Bently

Flamboyant, cage-match style  preacher headed the Lakeland revival until his admission of adultery.

13. Holy Spirit

The misunderstood and often-neglected mastermind behind tongues, , faith healing and stadium-sized revivals.

So, did I miss anybody?

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.

Revising the American Religion

Did you know that most of what you and I know about Christianity in American today is scarcely Christian in any traditional sense?

Over 100 years ago, William James said the American sense of religion is almost wholly experiential.

Today, it’s much the same.

American religion is dominated by solitude, individuality and the pragmatism of feelings, acts and experiences over thoughts, desires and memories.

Faith for the typical American is the awareness centered on self. Each American makes up his own sect. Individualism marks the American spiritual life.

American Religion and Gnosticism

In , Harold Bloom argued that our national faith is like the ancient religious movement . We don’t believe or trust. We just know. Though we want always to know more.

That makes the American religion like information anxiety…and an improved infancy.

That means salvation for the American then comes through solitude and isolation…not community or congregation.

Experience is king. Loneliness is king. Freedom is king. Self is king.

American Religion and Revivalism

It can be seen in our hell-bent natures towards , which, in America, Bloom notes, tends to be the perpetual shock of the individual discovering yet again what he always have known: God loves him on an absolutely personal, and indeed, intimate basis.

At this point I hear some of you objecting. But before you bail, hear me out.

It’s interesting to note that our national religion flourished along side Emerson, Whitman, Melville and Hawthorn. That’s why you find a severely self-reliant and internalized romance dimension to our American religion.

Think  and the . Todd Bently and the . Clearly those involved were persuaded by the sincerity and authenticity of these seizures. Indeed, they retain a grotesque power.

You can trace this enthusiasm, emotionalism and fanaticism from the second century down to John Wesley and his followers to the American shore.

This can be seen in wholly American religious inventions like the Mormons, Southern Baptists and Pentecostals…creed less Christian sects. You can see it in events like Woodstock.

The American religion, paradoxically, is a doctrine of experience. An almost intoxicating, sexual individualism. It’s an unrestrained triumphalism that even shows up in our politics. But what’s missing in all this private, enthusiastic luminosity is most of historic Christianity.

The Problem with American Religion

Enthusiastic religion has few resources to protect itself from itself. This purely personal, violently emotional, totally experiential mode of salvation is appropriate for the exploitation of people.

 this 100 years ago.  today. [Bloom, as a Jewish gnostic, celebrated it.]

In the end, the reason I find this so intriguing is because so much of what unbelievers attack today is far removed from classical–even European–Christianity.

This makes for a steadfast, earnest defense of classical Christianity. Do you agree or disagree? I’m curious to know what you think. Brutal and all.

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.

Rosicrucians: 13 Facts about This Obscure Christian Cult

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.

File this under controversial. Conspiratorial. Bizarre. Trivial.

Wherever you file it, know this: This is serious stuff some people lock-in on.

In the last two weeks I’ve showcased the Adventists and Unitarians. Two relatively close cousins to orthodox Christianity.

This Sunday I thought I’d go out to the far branches of her family tree and snoop in on a sect that nurses secret knowledge.

So, without anymore pussyfooting, let me introduce you to the Rosicrucians.

1. Historically, Rosicrucians consider –a man who learned esoteric wisdom from Sufi or Zoroastrian teachers during a pilgrimage to the Middle East during the early 15th Century–to be their founder.

2. Rosenkreuz nurtured 8 disciples who were doctors and sworn bachelors. They promised to heal the sick for free, maintain secret fellowship and find replacements when they died.

3. Rosenkreuz’s legend emerged in three manifestos published in early 17th Century, the first being the .

4. This legend inspired a  who existed to advance inspired arts and sciences, including a spiritual and symbolic alchemy.

5. In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, some Christian groups styled themselves Rosicrucians, including Esoteric Christian Rosicrucians who professed Christ.

6. While in Germany in the fall of 1907,  understood his mission to prepare mankind for a new phase in religion after a visit from a highly evolved entity identified as an Elder Brother of the Rosicrucian Order.

7. Around 1910 Heindel founded the Rosicrucian Fellowship on Mount Ecclesia in Oceanside, California, teaching the mysteries Jesus spoke about in and .

8. RFs teach that man is spirit and body, but the body is improving through a series of existences as the power of God are opened to his life.

9. Man is also unfolding latent spiritual powers through multiple rebirths.

10. Consequently, death is viewed as rebirth into a larger sphere. And life as a school that prepares the man for this birth.

11. Important to the RFs is the doctrine of the , which evolves through multiple births.

12. Tucked into this philosophy is the idea of two Christs: One within and one without. The Savior Christ and the Cosmic Christ. The Cosmic helps the Savior emerge in our spirits.

13. Invisible Helpers–students of the Western Wisdom Teachings– continue Heindel’s work, namely preaching the gospel and healing the sick.

I had a lot of fun doing this because in a previous life I was a huge fan of  and his book . I’m serious.

Tell me what you think.