Tag Archives: Cults

Religious Divisions [A Quick-and-Dirty Guide]

There’s certainly no shortage of divisions when it comes to Christianity–or religions in general.

So what’s the difference between Christianity and Islam?

Where does Mormonism fit into our faith?

What about the Amish?

And what makes a Presbyterian different than a Methodist?

All good questions. This little guide will help you hash the answers out.


Movements that differ on doctrinal issues but hold to a common core of beliefs about God, Christ and the Bible.

A multiplicity of denominations doesn’t imply a problem. It simply suggests agreement on the essentials and disagreements on non-essentials.


Movements that agree with denominations on these matters but often place emphasis on certain topics that move them to the fringe of Christianity. Think the Amish’s radical separatism.

Sects only become a problem if the emphasis conflicts with core tenets.


Movements connected to Christianity in that they use Christian Scripture and appeal to Jesus but they also differ from the traditional faith in core areas–denial of the Trinity, rejection of part or all of the Bible or novel views about Christ.

Cults typically reveal a perversion of the core of a religion due to self-indulgent embellishments. Think Mormons or World Wide Church of God.

World Religions

Historic traditions that include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism and share very little in common, especially when it comes to core tenets of the faith.

World religions suggest the existence of a native sense of the holy in man. And then we move to explain it. Christianity is the story of the source of that holiness redeeming, adopting and glorifying man.

So, how do you decide whether a religion is compatible with Christianity? Whether it’s a cult, sect or denomination?

Simple. It needs to pass two tests–doctrinal and experiential.

Doctrinal: Is it orthodox on the key issues?

Experiential: Does it see a faith encounter with Christ alone as the pathway to being right with God?

How a religion answers these questions will determine whether it falls inside or outside orthodox Christianity.

Let me know what you think.

Seven Religious Movements with a Weakness for Prophecy

Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the Charismatic-Pentecostal movement is their claim to new revelation from God–the claim that God is still speaking to them.

The claim that “Jesus told me.” Or “The Lord told me.”

This thirst for supernatural experience with God and fresh word from God is not anything new.

It has quite a historical past.

In fact, it goes back to the very early stages of Christianity and continues until this day in movements that have a soft spot for the subjective.


Montanus–a second century prophet–claimed he wrote the word of God. That he spoke the word of God. He claimed to have the final revelation of the Holy Spirit. This implied that something could be added to the teaching of Christ and the Apostle.

In other words, the Bible wasn’t sufficient.

Montanists also expected the imminent Second Coming of Christ. This belief, while not confined to Montanists, took a special form that gave their activities the character of a popular revival.

They also believed–via their prophets–that the heavenly Jerusalem was soon to descend on the Earth in a plain between the two villages of Pepuza and Tymion in Phrygia.

Roman Catholicism

Why do they believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary? Where do they find the immaculate conception? Where do they get praying for the dead? Purgatory? It doesn’t come out of Scripture. Comes out of their , a tradition equal in authority to Scripture.

It was decided by the church, the pope or the council. Not God’s word.

So, where does the Bible end? It doesn’t. Popes and councils can still bring in new doctrines. Individuals can have new revelation from the Holy Spirit. There is no end to it.

Neo Orthodoxy

This theology believes that the Bible is NOT the objective word of God, but the subjective. It’s like saying God is marching up and down Scripture waiting to make the words come to life when someone reads them.

Neo-orthodox theologian  said that the spirit of God is imprisoned within the covers of the written Bible and he is released in your experience. Mystical. And God is giving new revelation.

Another neo-orthodox theologian, , said the Bible is not the last word. God has more to say. In other words, the inspiration of the Bible depends on subjective experience.


A flesh and bones God. Universal resurrection. Jesus as the spirit brother of Lucifer. Where do you suppose they got these doctrines? Not from the Bible…

But from the Doctrine of Covenants. And The Pearl of Great Price. Where did these books come from? Joseph Smith said they were personally given to him by God.

Christian Science

Mary Baker Eddy–the founder of this cult–is considered the revelator of truth for this age. Her revelations come from God in addition to Scripture. This was written about Christian Science in the July 1975 : “Because it is not a human philosophy, but a divine revelation the divinity based reason and logic of Christan Science necessarily separates it from all other systems.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses Salvation by works. Negating the grace of God though Christ. Claim Jesus was a created being–not God’s son. How did they get this? They . Directly.

World Wide Church of God

This organization got it’s start from a vision by Mrs. Armstrong. An angel laid out the whole system for Mrs. Armstrong. She told her husband–Herbet W. Armstrong–and a new cult was born.

Listen. I do believe that the . Empowers us.

However, he doesn’t speak to us in audible words. He doesn’t give us specific commands. He isn’t breathing out anymore revelation.


Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Once for all. It was done. And the canon was closed.

Here’s the bottom line: You don’t need new revelation for directoin of your life. The Spirit will do that. And you don’t need new revelation for the virture of your life. The .

So, the only reason behind extra-biblical prophecy is so Satan can pollute the clear stream of Scripture and confound and confuse the otherwise discerning leading of the Holy Spirit in your life.

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 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 Things You Didn’t Know About Unitarianism

Secrets on unitarianism–from what they think of the Trinity to famous unitarians.

1. Unitarians believe that God is one person, not three.

2. Unitarians reject the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Christ.

3. A Unitarian believes in the salvation of character but views the doctrine of  offensive, unbiblical and immoral.

4. Unitarians trace their history to the  where Arianism was denounced.

5. Unitarians also repudiate the doctrine and dogma of the virgin birth.

6. Unitarians embrace the doctrine of biblical inspiration but abandon the doctrine of biblical infallibility.

7. Unitarians who uphold  are renamed .

8. Unitarians differ from  in only one regard–Unitarians believe in a personal deity who acts on creation, while Deists see God as holding aloof from creation.

9. Unitarians believe that Jesus and his disciples were Unitarian Christians.

10. Unitarians deny the doctrine of bodily resurrection.

11. However, most Unitarians believe in .

12. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale and  were famous Unitarians.

13. Unitarians believe human reason and experience should be the final authority in determining spiritual truth.

So what do you think? Is Unitarianism Christian or not?

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