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What is a Cult?

By Jeremy Cagle

When people think of cults, the name David Koresh comes to mind. Koresh was a cult leader in the 1980’s and 1990’s who believed that he was the Messiah and had unlocked the seven seals of Revelation. He also believed that the final battle of Armageddon was fast approaching, so he told his followers to stockpile weapons and build a military compound near Waco, Texas known as Mount Carmel. They called themselves the Branch Davidians. 

According to one member, “David is the Messiah and he is coming back . . . Now we just wait for the kingdom.” According to another, “The scriptures just flowed out of his mouth. He had the spirit of God in him.” Such a statement was telling as the “spirit of God” would lead Koresh to fight the FBI in 51-day stand-off at Mount Carmel. For more than a month, no one was allowed in and no one was allowed out of the compound due to the weapons and allegations of sexual misconduct. Koresh told the authorities, “I am willing to come out when I get a message from my commander.”

It got so bad that in February of 1993, federal agents raided the compound sparking a four-hour gun battle. When it was over, six Branch Davidians and four FBI agents were dead. Shortly thereafter, the Davidians set fire to the property and, afterwards, almost everyone inside Mount Carmel was dead including David Koresh.1

False teachers are dangerous. They can be deadly. Mess around with someone’s ideas about God and the after-life and you can make them do anything. Tell them the wrong things about Heaven and Hell and salvation and you can make them give up their lives. All one has to do is to repeat the names of David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson to prove it.

Which brings us to an important question: what is a cult? When has someone crossed the line from doctrinal error into doctrinal heresy? To ask this another way: what is a false teacher? When should we be concerned about a religious leader’s doctrines or ideas?

Jesus Himself told us to pay attention to such things when He said in Matthew 7:15:

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

The Apostle John echoed this in First John 4:1:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Second Peter 2:1 says:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

The Old Testament said similar things in the Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. In fact, Deuteronomy 13:1-5 told Israel to stone a prophet who led them astray. It says:

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us go after other gods and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams . . . But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt . . . So you shall purge the evil from among you.

All of this is to say that heresy is a big deal to God. The Lord told the Jews to execute false teachers in Israel, and He told the church to throw them out.2 He told the church in Jude’s day to hate even their garments,3 and He told the church in John’s day not to receive them into their homes.4 The Apostle Paul went so far as to say that anyone who preaches a different Gospel “is to be accursed!”5

But that still does not answer the question: What is a cult? It still does not tell us what we should be looking for in a false teacher.

This is not an easy question to grapple with, as there are several definitions for the word “cult” out there. For example, the well-known apologist Walter Martin says:

A cult might be defined as a group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s mis-interpretation of the Bible.6

Martin says that a cult follows one person’s misunderstanding of Scripture. They stockpile weapons because they believe the battle of Armageddon is near. They build a compound because their leader is the Messiah and they want to protect him. Yet there are lots of misinterpretations of Scripture that would not be considered “cultish.” There are many churches who have wrong views on creation, end times, and the spiritual gifts that do not belong to a cult.

So we have to add to this definition, and Gordon Lewis does so in his book, Confronting the Cults. He defines a cult this way:

A cult, then, is any religious movement which claims the backing of Christ or the Bible, but distorts the central message of Christianity by (1) an additional revelation, and (2) by displacing a fundamental tenet of faith with a secondary matter.7

Lewis says that cults add revelation to the Bible and they displace fundamental doctrines. To prove their ideas, they claim that God has spoken to them, and in doing so, they change fundamental components of the Christian faith. They redefine terms like “atonement” and “forgiveness” and “Spirit.” They create their own ideas about theology, salvation, and redemption, and they do it while claiming additional revelation (i.e., “I am waiting on a word from my commander”). They do it all under the “authority” of God.

Irving Hexham echoes this idea when he states that:

The term [cult] is generally used . . . of groups whose teachings are so heretical as to remain outside of historic Christianity.8

While that is a much broader definition, it brings up an important point: cults belong outside of historic Christianity. They cannot tie themselves into our history, the history of the apostles and the church fathers. They cannot trace their roots back to the Reformation or to the Bible or back to any orthodox group. At some point in history, they just sprung up.

So, with that said, each of these definitions gives us a better understanding of what a cult is, and it leads us to define the term this way. A cult is “any group that professes to be Christian and has a wrong view of Scripture, salvation, and the Savior.” To simplify things, we could put it all under this umbrella. Cults and false teachers have a wrong view in each of these three areas

I. CULTS HAVE A WRONG VIEW OF SCRIPTURE

Everything starts with a wrong view of Scripture. Cults get the Bible, the source of all authority, wrong. As Walter Martin says, they are built around a person’s misinterpretation of it. They spring up out of nowhere because their ideas are not based in the Word of God. They are based in something else.

There are several ways that cults demonstrate this. For one, they add extra revelation to Scripture. They do not believe the Bible is enough, so they add extra teachings to it. For example, the Mormons add three extra teachings to the Bible: The Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Book of Mormon. According to one Mormon author:

The Bible . . . is one witness for the truth. The Book of Mormon is another witness to the same effect . . . The sealed book, The Book of Mormon, is . . . additional revelation from God of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ, and of the covenants made with their fathers . . . It claims to be part of the new covenant to Israel.9

In other words, the revelation given in the Bible was not enough for the Mormons; therefore, they needed extra revelation. They needed more than what has been provided in the Bible. The rest of us only have the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments but they have all these other ones.10 They have “another witness to the same effect.”

The Christian Science cult claims the same thing as well. According to their founder, Mary Baker Eddy, “The material record of the Bible . . . is no more important to our well-being than the history of Europe and America.”11 She goes on to say:

The manifest mistakes in the ancient versions; the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament, and the three hundred thousand in the New – these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening, to some extent, the inspired pages.12

As a result of this darkening,13 Christian Scientists need another book to interpret the Bible for them, and they find it in Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It tells them all that they need to know about God and His will for mankind, to the point that Eddy writes, “The Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and my other published works are the only proper instructors for this hour.”14

In contrast to all of this, the Bible says that it does not need the help of Mary Baker Eddy’s books. It does not need the help of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures or The Book of Mormon or any other book. In fact, the Bible closes with a warning to anyone who would try to claim such a thing:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book (Rev 22:18-19).

Those words were written to anyone who wanted to add prophecy to “this book.” It was written to anyone who wanted to give “another witness” or claim to be “the only proper instructors for his hour.”

The Bible contains all that we need for life and godliness. It contains a faith that has been “once for all handed down to the saints.”15 It is enough to equip a man for every good work and make him adequate for God.16 However, cults do not understand this. They want to add revelation to the Bible and, in doing so, they demonstrate a wrong view of Scripture.

This leads to another way that cults demonstrate a wrong view of Scripture, and that is in their misinterpretation of it. Every cult misinterprets the Bible in a major way. They get it wrong in key areas. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses misinterpret the Bible’s teaching on who gets into Heaven. They believe that only 144,00 of the “Anointed Class” get in while everyone else stays out. According to their book, Let God be True,

Who and how many are able to enter [the Kingdom]? The Revelation limits to 144,000 the number that become a part of the Kingdom and stand on heavenly Mount Zion.17

They get that idea from Revelation 7:4, which says:

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.

The problem with their interpretation is that that number only refers to the tribes of Israel. It does not refer to everyone who would ever get in to the Kingdom. It is a specific number for a specific time in history, and it relates only to the Jews. Furthermore, the Bible never says that the kingdom of God is limited to any number of people. John 6:40 says, “Everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life,” and John 3:16 says, “Whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Eternal life is for anyone who believes; it is not restricted to 144,000. It is for anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ; it is not for a select few that adhere to the teachings of a cult.

Another key area where the Jehovah’s Witnesses misinterpret Scripture is in their teaching on Hell. According to them, not only do 144,000 people go to Heaven, but no one goes to Hell, because Hell does not exist. They do not believe that men have immortal souls and, consequently, they cannot suffer immortal punishment. In their book, Mankind’s Search for God, they write:

If, as the Bible says, man does not have a soul but is a soul, then there is no conscious existence after death. There is no bliss, and there is no suffering. All the illogical complications of the “hereafter” disappear . . .18

And, in their book, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, they state:

When a person is dead he is completely out of existence. He is not conscious of anything.19

How this relates to 144,000 going to Heaven is a bit of a mystery, but they get this doctrine from passages such as First Peter 3:20 and Joshua 11:11 which equate our souls with our bodies. The argument is that if our souls and our bodies are the same, then when the body dies, the soul dies, and there can be no Hell. The lost just cease to exist.

However, the Bible teaches the exact opposite. It teaches that Heaven and Hell are both eternal (and so are our souls). Isaiah 66:24 says that “their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched” in Hell. Jude 7 says that Hell will be a punishment of “eternal fire,” and Revelation 14:11 says:

And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.

Other passages teach the same thing concerning Heaven. First John 5:11 says,

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

And First John 5:13 says:

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

First Peter 1:4 says that in Heaven we will have “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.” First Thessalonians 4:17 says that “we shall always be with the Lord” there and Revelation 22:5 says that “we will reign forever and ever with Him.”

The point is that the Jehovah’s Witnesses misunderstand all of this. Like every cult, they misinterpret the Bible on key issues like Heaven and Hell. They mislead their people to think that there is no eternal reward for believers and no eternal punishment for nonbelievers. There is no eternal anything and, consequently, there is no hope, which leads to the next wrong view of the cults

II. CULTS HAVE A WRONG VIEW OF SALVATION

Cults get salvation wrong as well. From start to finish, they mislead people into thinking they are going into Heaven when they are not.

In the rainforests of Southeast Asia lives an insect known as the orchid mantis. Its key feature is that it pretends to be a beautiful flower to lure in its prey. When other insects come in to sniff the flower, the mantis jumps on them and eats them alive. Cults do the same thing with their followers. They pretend to be beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers but, when people come in for a closer look, they get eaten alive. They get taken and tricked.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in their teaching on salvation. In his book, The Four Major Cults, Anthony Hoekema says that there are five distinguishing characteristics for every cult, and three of them have to do with salvation. According to Hoekema, every cult denies justification by grace alone, they devalue Jesus Christ, and they believe that they are the exclusive community of the saved.20

To draw this out, cults add works to salvation. They teach that Jesus’ work on the cross was not enough, we also have to do good works to be saved. The Worldwide Church of God, which teaches Anglo-Israelism or the idea that white people are the true descendants of Israel, teach this. In the words of their founder, Herbert W. Armstrong:

Salvation, then, is a process! But how the god of this world would blind your eyes to that! He tries to deceive you into thinking all there is to it is just “accepting Christ” with “no works” and presto-chango, you are pronounced “Saved.” But the Bible reveals that none is yet “saved.”21

He goes on to write:

The blood of Christ does not finally save any man . . . It is only those who, during this Christian, Spirit-begotten life, have grown in knowledge and grace . . . who shall be given immortality.22

In other words, Jesus does not completely save anyone. He gets the process going, but we have to complete it. We have to do good works to gain immortality.

Unfortunately, this way of thinking was not limited to Armstrong but is taught in other cults as well such as the Unification Church, founded by Sun Myung Moon. The Unification Church teaches that Moon is the Messiah and peace can only be attained through “true families” or families that are spiritually connected to him. Concerning salvation, Moon states that:

We must realize that. . . there was no redemption; there was no salvation; and there was no beginning of Christianity [at the cross]. So there on the cross, salvation was not given.23

That is quite a thing to say but, according to Moon, the cross accomplished nothing. Nothing salvific, anyway. The cross did not ultimately pay for any of our sins against God; we have to pay for them ourselves. We have to finish or complete what Jesus started.

What does the Bible say about this? Does it believe that there was no salvation at the cross? Does it teach that salvation is a process and that only those who do enough good works can have immortality?

Quite the opposite. The Bible says that salvation is completely a work of God. It is nothing that we contribute to or add to in any way. Not only is the cross the beginning of Christianity, but it is the middle and the end of it as well. It is everything. In the words of John Stott, “The cross is the symbol of our faith . . . There is no Christianity without the cross.”24

To see this in the words of Scripture, First Peter 2:24 says:

And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

We are healed by His wounds. We die to sin and live to righteousness because He bore our sins in His body on the cross. The cross is a matter of life and death for us.

Galatians 6:14 says:

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Revelation 1:5 says that we have been released from our sins by His blood and Romans 6:6 says that we are no longer slaves to sin on account of it. Ephesians 2:13 says that we were once far off but Jesus’ death has brought us near.

You can add to this that the Bible says that our salvation is by faith alone and not by works. Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

This leads to another way that cults get salvation wrong: they teach that salvation can only be found within their group. In the words of Anthony Hoekema, their group is the “exclusive community of the saved.” As the argument goes, if you have to do good works to be saved, then they are the only ones who can tell you what those good works are.

It would be superfluous to include lots of examples of this, but a few would include the Mormon teaching that:

Every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are . . . and cannot go there without his consent.25

Joseph Smith himself said:

God . . . will make me to be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it!26

Another of Smith’s followers said:

The Book of Mormon claims to be a divinely inspired record . . . it professes to be revealed to the present generation for the salvation of all who will receive it, and for the overthrow and damnation of all nations who reject it.27

While that sounds belligerent, it is mild compared to these words from a former member of the People’s Temple. The People’s Temple is the cult that committed mass suicide in Guyana in 1978. 909 members, many of them children, died after drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide while following the teachings of a man named Jim Jones. Here is what a former associate of the cult said about him:

At first Jim Jones was very subtle in his brainwashing procedures. He started by getting us to question the accuracy of the Bible. Later I saw Jim Jones go up on the platform, throw a Bible on the floor, curse God, and shake his first in God’s face and shout, “If God is there, then smite me dead!” The fact that nothing happened to him (at that time) really impressed us. Jim Jones became the only God we believed in.28

Jim Jones was God, this cult member said. He could curse God, shake his fist in God’s face, and no one confronted him.

This is the attitude of the cults and nowhere does the Bible say that a spiritual leader should act like that. Nowhere does it tell us to follow the teachings of a man who contradicts Scripture. We do not go to Heaven with a man’s consent. We go to Heaven with God’s consent. We are saved by the teachings of Christ.

In John 14:6, Jesus said:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Those words were not spoken by Joseph Smith or Jim Jones. They were not spoken by Herbert W. Armstrong or Sung Myung Moon or Mary Baker Eddy or Charles Taze Russell. They were spoken by Jesus. If a man comes through Jesus, He can go to the Father. If He does not, then He cannot.

John 10:9 says:

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 11:25 says:

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.

Ephesians 2:18 says:

For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

And all of this leads to another wrong view that cults have.

III. CULTS HAVE A WRONG VIEW OF THE SAVIOR

It all boils down to this: cults have a wrong view of the Savior. They have a wrong view of the Son of God and what He has come to do for us.

Ever since the early days of the early church, people have battled over the deity of Jesus. They have battled over whether He was fully God and fully man. The Councils of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon all wrestled with this to one degree or another and came to the conclusion that He was both. He was fully God and fully man. In the words of the Nicene Creed, He is “very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”29

So it is strange that cults today draw so much attention to this, yet this is exactly what they do. They argue that Jesus is not fully God. He is a god but not God. He is God-like but not God Himself.

For example, the Jehovah’s Witness teach that Jesus is an angel, the first being God created in the universe. In their Watchtower magazine, they write,

There is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return.30

[In fact], “Michael the great prince” is none other than Jesus Christ Himself.31

This leads to several other wrong conclusions such as this one:

It is unscriptural for worshipers of the living and true God to render worship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.32

And this one:

No biblical evidence intimates that Jesus died on a cross.33

Jesus most likely was executed on an upright stake without any crossbeam. No man today can know with certainty even how many nails were used in Jesus’ case.34

And this one:

We deny that He was raised in the flesh, and challenge any statement to that effect as being unscriptural.35

These statements sound ridiculous but they are not unique to the cults. Other religions deny the deity of Jesus as well. On the walls of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem are found these words, “There is no god but God. He is One. He has no associate . . . Believe in God and His messengers, and say not ‘Three.'”36 In the Koran itself, Muhammed says, “Speak nothing but the truth about God. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle . . . God forbid that He should have a Son!”37

So the Jehovah’s Witnesses have created a view of Jesus that agrees wholeheartedly with Islam and every other false religion known to man. They have concocted an idea of God that has more in common with Allah than Jehovah but the difference, and the reason they are a cult, is that they do it in the name of Jehovah. The difference is that they do it and profess to be Christian, and they are not alone in this. Every cult rejects the Trinity to one degree or another.38

For example, Mary Baker Eddy says:

The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or tri-unity) suggests polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I AM.39

Joseph Smith says:

Many men say that there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God – three in one and one in three. It is curious organization. All are crammed into one God.40

Sung Myung Moon states:

We must understand that this (John 8:58) does not signify that Jesus was God Himself. Jesus, on earth, was a man no different from us except for the fact that he was without original sin.41

And Herbert W. Armstrong agrees:

Christ is God! God Almighty His Father is god. They are two separate and individual Persons . . . I suppose most people think of God as one single individual Person. Or as a “trinity.” This is not true.42

The Bible, however, could not disagree more. It says that Christ is God and He is one with the Father in every way. Colossians 2:9 says, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” and Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”43 Titus 2:13 says that we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” and Romans 9:5 says that “Christ . . . is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” The Gospel of Mark even starts out in 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

And this brings us to another way that the cults demonstrate a wrong view of the Savior. They do not believe Jesus is enough. They do not believe that He has done enough to bring us into Heaven. Since He is not fully God, then His work cannot be fully salvific. It can contribute to salvation but it cannot complete it, as we have already talked about.

Since we have already discussed this in previous paragraphs, there is no need to repeat any of it here other than to repeat what the Bible says on this subject. The Bible is very clear that Jesus took care of every sin at the cross.

Titus 2:14 says that Jesus:

Gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession.

Hebrews 10:12, 14 says:

But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God . . . For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

John 3:15 says that “whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” and John 5:24 says, “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment.”

Jesus’ death is enough for our sins. It is enough to cover every lawless deed and perfect forever those who are sanctified. It can give us eternal life and keep us from judgment. We have nothing more to pay. Our sin debt has been cancelled. To quote from Leon Morris:

Was there a price to be paid? He paid it. Was there a victory to be won? He won it. Was there a penalty to be borne? He bore it. Was there a judgment to be faced? He faced it.44

Jesus is enough.

CONCLUSION

False teachers are dangerous and deadly. Since the beginning of time, Satan has been prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,45 and he is doing it today through organizations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, Christian Science, and the Worldwide Church of God. He is presenting a wrong view of Scripture, a wrong view of salvation, and a wrong view of the Savior, all in order to deceive us and bring us to destruction.46

In fact, he is very successful at this. While it is impossible to estimate how many new cults have started in recent years, some time ago the Los Angeles Times estimated that the number was between 2,500 and 5,000,47 and currently there are 20 million cult members in the United States alone.48 Gordon Lewis warns that:

At the dawn of the twentieth century the cults were indistinguishable as a tiny atom, but exploding like atom bombs the cults have mushroomed upon the American religious horizon.49

The solution to all of this is for Christians to go back to the Bible. The solution is to be like the noble Bereans who were “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”50 The solution is to “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God . . . [and] be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”51 Satan has never come up with an idea that can stand up to the Word of God. He has never produced one single cult that can triumph over the Bible.

In his excellent book, The Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin says that, when a bank teller wants to point out a counterfeit dollar, he does not study the counterfeit. Instead, he studies the real thing and it is the same way with the cults.52 If Christians want to identify the cults, they need to study their Bibles. If they want to defeat the devil, they need to take up the sword of the Spirit.

It is my prayer that this article will encourage you to do just that. The Bible is sufficient. Jesus is sufficient. The cross is sufficient. It contains all that you need.

 

  1. All of this information can be found in the article “18 years after Waco, Davidians Believe Koresh was God,” April 14, 2011 at www.cnn.com. []
  2. Romans 16:17 says, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” []
  3. Jude 1:23. []
  4. 2 Jn 10-11. []
  5. Gal 1:9. []
  6. Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1985) 11. In Martin’s defense, this is only part of his definition of the word “cult.” In another place, he says, “Cultism, in short, is any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.” (Walter Martin, Martin Speaks Out on the Cults (Ventura, Cal.: Regal, 1983) 17). []
  7. Gordon R. Lewis, Confronting the Cults (Philadelphia, Penn.: P & R Publishing, 1966) 4. []
  8. Irving Hexham in The Concise Dictionary of Evangelical Theology, ed. By Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991) 125. []
  9. R. K. Saylards, The Book of Mormon (Independence, Miss.: Herald House, n. d.) 13-16. []
  10. For more information about the 66 books of the Bible and how they are the finished revelation of God, see the article “The Close of the Canon” in Issue 2 of JTST. []
  11. This quotation was originally from Mary Baker Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings but appears in Walter Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults, 144. []
  12. Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston, Mass.: Trustees under the will of Mary Baker Eddy, 1934) 139. []
  13. For more information on the “thousands of different readings in the Bible” and how ridiculous Mary Baker Eddy’s claims are, see the JTST Theological Question, “Was the Bible Copied Accurately?” []
  14. Christian Science Journal, March, 1897. []
  15. Jude 1:3. []
  16. 2 Tim 3:16-17. []
  17. Let God be True (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1946 ed.) 136. []
  18. Mankind’s Search for God (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1990) 128. []
  19. You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (Brooklyn, N. Y.: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1982) 88. []
  20. Anthony Hoekema, The Four Major Cults (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963) 377-378. The other elements are “an extra-scriptural source of authority” and “the group’s central role in eschatology.” []
  21. Herbert W. Armstrong, Why were You Born? (Pasadena, Cal.: Ambassador Press, n.d.) 11. []
  22. Herbert W. Armstrong, All about Water Baptism (Pasadena, Cal.: Ambassador Press, n.d.) 1-3. []
  23. Sun Myung Moon, The Way of the World (Washington, D. C.: HAS-UWC, 1973) 13. []
  24. John Stott, Basic Christianity (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1971) 86. []
  25. Journal of Discourses, Vol. III (Salt Lake City, Utah: Temple Hill Books) 289. []
  26. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Bellevue, Wash.: Desert Book Company, 1976) 363. []
  27. Orson Pratt, quoted in Ed Decker & Dave Hunt’s The God Makers (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 1994) 173. []
  28. Bonnie Thielman quoted in Dave Hunt’s The Cult Explosion: An Expose of Today’s Cults and Why They Prosper (Irvine, Cal.: Harvest House Publishers, 1980) 128. []
  29. Quoted in Philip Schaff’s The Creeds of Christendom, Volume I (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007ed.) 27-28. []
  30. The Watchtower Magazine, May 15, 1969, page 307. []
  31. The Watchtower Magazine, December 15, 1984, page 29. []
  32. The Watchtower Magazine, November 1, 1964, page 671. []
  33. Awake!, November 8, 1972, page 28. []
  34. The Watchtower Magazine, August 15, 1987, page 29 []
  35. Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7 (Brooklyn, N. Y.: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1917) 57. []
  36. This quotation has been taken from the website www.islamawareness.org as of 6/13/2017. []
  37. The Koran, trans. N. J. Dawood (Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Books, 1999) 4:171. []
  38. Let God be True, 101-102, 111. To see how passionate the Jehovah’s Witness are in their rejection of the Trinity, consider the following statement from them: “Satan is the originator of the Trinity doctrine . . . sincere persons who want to know the true God and serve Him find it a bit difficult to love and worship a complicated, freakish-looking, three-headed God . . . the plain truth is that the Trinity is another of Satan’s attempts to keep God-fearing persons from learning the truth of Jehovah.” []
  39. Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston, Mass.: Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, 1934) 256. []
  40. Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith’s Teachings, 372. []
  41. Quoted in The Kingdom of the Cults, 343. []
  42. Herbert W. Armstrong, Just What Do You Mean – Born Again (Pasadena, Calif.: Ambassador Press, n.d.) 16-17. []
  43. Douglas Moo, The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon in The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008) 120. Some cults take this phrase “firstborn” to mean that Jesus was the first human being born and argue that it does not refer to His deity. However, Colossians 1:16-17 go on to say: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” So, obviously, Paul is referring to more than just a normal human being here. The phrase “firstborn” refers to first in priority, not chronology as Douglas Moo explains: “It is clear that the word is used here in the sense of ‘supreme over’ . . . [This phrase] asserts his unique relationship to creation: he is ‘the acting subject who extends God’s activity to the creatures that follow him.'” []
  44. Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965) 405. []
  45. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” []
  46. Jn 8:44; Eph 6:11; 2 Tim 2:25-26; Js 1:12-15. []
  47. This figure is quoted in John Ankerberg and John Weldon’s Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1999) xv-xvi. []
  48. This number is cited in Kingdom of the Cults, page 16, but this edition of the book was published in 1985 so the number has probably gone up since then. []
  49. Lewis, 1. []
  50. Acts 17:11. []
  51. Eph 6:17, 10. []
  52. Martin, 16-17. []