NEW TO THIS SITE?

Welcome! If you are a BSSM student or involved with sozo and Bethel Church, please know this ministry loves you and prays for you. You are welcome here to browse this site. All the factual research on here has been conducted out of love for you with absolutely no financial gain. The research on this site is not merely anecdotal but research based on fact and careful study. Bethel Sozo Research does not hate any leaders or pastors at Bethel Church (no malice/ill-will toward them). We simply wish God's best for them - that they would change their deceptive ways and speak truthfully to people. If these leaders will not teach the Biblical truth about Christ's hypostatic union/divinity to the public, that is their free choice, but they must not call themselves 'Bible teachers' because that is not respecting the true Christian faith (Jude 1:3; Acts 4:12; 2 Cor. 11:4; Matt. 7:15; 1 John 4:1). This website has received comments from around the world from people who have suffered from Sozo - ruined individuals, marriages, families and entire communities. Enjoy this site and God bless you! With love and civility, BSRJ
Showing posts with label Christ's Two Natures (Hypostatic Union). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christ's Two Natures (Hypostatic Union). Show all posts

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A quick question: Is sozo more dangerous than scientology? A look at blatantly obvious vs. disguised falsehood...

Do you think sozo is more or less dangerous than Scientology?

Here is why I ask: Scientology has nothing to do with Jesus; as far as I understand, Scientologists do not really use the word Jesus or talk about Jesus at all.  They also do not claim to be Christians. 

On the other hand, sozo teachers and "sozoists" claim that what they are doing is of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  They claim that sozo is Christian, yet the followers of Bill Johnson deny Christ's divinity and hypostatic union before He was age thirty.  This disguise may prove to be particularly more enticing to others, you think? 

Which one is more dangerous, then?  The blatantly obvious cult or the disguised "Christian" cult?  "Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth" (Eph. 4:14; nlv).
 
What do you say?

"Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!" (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." (vs. 12-15)


Monday, July 11, 2016

NEW: A new booklet by Bill Randles called 'Beware of Bethel' examines some of Bill Johnson's unbiblical teachings

Hi there, friends!  Just wanted to let you all know there is a new booklet out by author and pastor Bill Randles.  I hope that this blesses you and may all who you share it with have a changed heart and changed mind, in Jesus's name.  Have a great week! 

Beware of Bethel: A Brief Summary of Bill Johnson's Unbiblical Teachings by Bill Randles


"And many shall follow their shameful ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." 2 Peter 2:2

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gnostic teaching that Jesus was not divine before baptism and an interesting find about 'fear' being taught at Bethel


Several months ago, I was flipping through a Bible.  It wasn't my Bible.  It was someone who has been very involved with Bethel Church, Bill Johnson, sozo, etc.  I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to flip open to 1 John 4:1.  Here is what that verse says: 

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world".

I thought that was interesting, and I wondered why God wanted me to turn to that verse. I started reading the side notes. The person (who will remain unnamed, of course) had written in their Bible some notes. These notes said that false prophets are always motivated and characterized by fear. Over and over again, it said, "false prophets are known by their fear".

This really didn't make sense to me. In scripture, false prophets are motivated by their greed (see 2 Peter 2:3), lies/deceiving (Matthew 24:11; 2 Peter 2), and sorcery (Acts 13:6). Even in the Old Testament, the false prophets were known for their false words (Jer. 29:9 and 5:31). 2 John 1:7 says that those who don't acknowledge Jesus coming in the flesh are antichrist deceivers. That would be a sign of a false prophet. When you think about it, if Jesus was really only divine in the flesh just at and after his water baptism, like Johnson claims, wouldn't that be teaching that Jesus did not come in the flesh? I mean, if Jesus really came in the flesh, which He did, He would always be divine, even as a child.

Anyway, so where did this idea about false prophets/fear come from? The idea that false prophets are motivated by "fear"? This really doesn't make sense to me. The Apostle Paul had "fear" - he feared for the church that they would be deceived (2 Cor. 11:3). The "fear" of the Lord brings wisdom... Proverbs 9:10. I guess there are healthy fears and not so healthy fears. Does this mean that someone suffering from a fear of spiders is a false prophet? What about someone who doesn't like elevators??? Really doesn't make sense, Biblically.

Anyway, I got to thinking...are the teachers at Bethel teaching this? Why would this be in this person's notes? I Googled it, and actually Kris Valloton DOES preach a sermon about this online. Here is what he says:

"1 John 4 reveals a test for a false prophet.  They don't acknowledge the redemptive power of God; they don't listen; nor do they love.  False prophets use fear and fear of punishment as a main motivation in their ministry to get people to do what they predict."
But, where is the teaching that false prophets are motivated by greed, lies, deceit, sorcery, false teaching, etc., etc.? John the Baptist warned the pharisees to flee from the coming wrath of God (Matthew 3:7). That sounds like using "fear and fear of punishment". Does that make John the Baptist a false prophet? Certainly not! The Bible says that John the Baptist was the greatest prophet in history. Besides Jesus, of course.

It is the false prophets who speak "peace, peace" all the time that God warned about (see Jeremiah 8:11). They speak of peace and prosperity when there is none. Therefore, God calls them false prophets. THOSE are the ones God warns about in His Word over and over again.

False prophets will be very popular with many people (Luke 6:26). True prophets won't (Matthew 5:12).

Here is the sermon that Kris preached, if anyone would like to listen to it to test it to the Word: https://shop.ibethel.org/products/false-prophets-11-00am-august-01-2010

The reason why this concerns me is that I have been accused before, when lovingly confronting (in a gentle manner) a Bethel Church follower, that I have "fear". The conversation went something like this...

(me) "Do you know that Bill Johnson preaches that Jesus laid aside his divinity? Those were his direct quotes from his books/articles."

(person) "What are you afraid of? Why do you have so much fear? You should not be afraid of deception. The elect cannot be deceived anyway. Bill Johnson is not false. False prophets and false people are known by their fear."

---

This concerns me because...I wonder if Bethel Church is teaching their followers to disregard what other Christians lovingly say to them because they must be "fearful", and "fear" is evil. I wonder. Not saying for sure! Just a thought. Isn't this what certain other groups do? They caution their followers to not listen to advice from others who might be cautious of the group or point out error? Isn't this a fear tactic? I believe this is what the cults do (try to shun or quiet outside voices who are trying to warn with love).

In the middle of the night last night, I do believe God woke me up and reminded me of a page I read in my study Bible. It's from 2 John. I believe He wanted me to include this in my post today. Gnostics taught that the divine Christ joined the man Jesus when he was baptized. Isn't this what Bill Johnson's books say? Yes! I have checked this out. For a list of direct quotes, view this article: http://blogs.christianpost.com/grace-under-fire/birds-of-a-feather-flock-together-10395/

Please check out the following photo from my Zondervan family reading Bible. Be alert and watchful!!





Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Good division or evil division? Division in the church....what did Paul teach? Bethel Church and Christianity and 1 Corinthians 1:12

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (1 Corinthians 11:19)

This scripture really stuck out today. This comes right after verse 18 in 1 Cor. 11 which speaks of divisions in the church. Paul was telling the Corinthians that when they come together, there are divisions. I checked the cross references for this, and the divisions Paul is speaking of is that in Corinth, some Christians were saying they followed Paul, others Cephas while others were saying they followed Apollos and some simply stated they followed Christ. Because of this they were separating into groups and not having unity. This can be found in 1 Corinthians 1:12.

Here I see two different kinds of division right next to each other in two verses (verses 19 and 18). Sometimes, people who follow Bethel Church will tell their confronters (who warn them about false teaching) that they are "divisive" and use the scripture from 1 Corinthians 1:12 to prove their point.

The problem with this is that Paul had an issue with the church being divided over the WRONG things. Here in this verse, we see that Apollos, Cephas, Paul and Jesus were all teaching the same thing about Christ. None of these men were teaching falsely!!! One was not saying "Christ was not divine at all times" while the other was saying "Christ was divine at all times". No! These leaders were all of one mind in their teaching. If one of them was a heretic, than Paul says that the Christians that are approved (by GOD) will be made manifest (will become obvious). That is, those who follow the heretic are unapproved by God. Those who separate from the heretic are approved by God. It would be manifest and evident who was REALLY following Jesus and His Word by who divided away from the heretic.

What Paul the apostle did not like about Corinth divisions is that they were being divided for a foolish reason. If pastor A and pastor B both teach correct sound doctrine from the Bible, but I am divided with you because you don't follow pastor A and I do, than that would be the unpleasing division that Paul was referring to. That is what was happening in Corinth. It was just stupid. It's like saying, my favorite color is blue and yours is red. Therefore I am not your friend. Totally immature. Paul says stop.

HOWEVER...

If Pastor A and Pastor B teach two totally different and contrary teachings about Christ, than only one is correct. God is a God of truth! He cannot be right and wrong at the same time. He cannot lie!

If Pastor A teaches correctly but Pastor B teaches heresy, and we are divided because of it, THAT IS THE KIND OF DIVISION THAT PAUL SPEAKS OF IN 1 CORINTHIANS 11:19. Paul explains that the very purpose of heresies is to see which Christians are approved by God!. It is those Christians who "mark and avoid" the false teachers who are mature and obedient followers of Christ (Romans 16:17). They are divided away for the right reasons. To not do so would be disobedience to the Lord Jesus.

Here are some supporting scriptures:


"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 (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’
you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

Heresies are a test, people!  God is testing us to see what our reaction will be with heresies.  Are we going to flunk and keep following the false teachings down the broad road to destruction, or are we going to study the Bible and get on the narrow path (Matthew 7:14)? 

Here, being divided is a command!  Again, there is righteous division and unrighteous division.  Check it out...

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." (Romans 16:17)

Marking and avoiding sounds pretty "divisive", yet it is a command straight from Jesus for His followers!


As you can see, not all division is a sin!  It is a sin to be divided for the wrong reasons.  There are also right reasons to be divided!  Jesus Himself said people would be divided:


Jesus Brings Division (Matthew 10) 
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.



If there can be true, righteous division and false, unrighteous division, can there also be true, righteous unity and false, unrighteous unity?  Would being divided away from true Christians who teach true, sound doctrine be good division or evil division?  Have a blessed day.  ~ ADMIN 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Updated: Gnostic heresy...an interesting find in a study Bible leads to further clarification concerning the public 'divinity' of Christ discussion and Bethel Church (pastor is Bill Johnson). A link found!

Here is the photo of the Bible page referred to in a post from June 7th, 2013.  


Look at the study notes on the left side where it says, "Gnostic heretics of his day who said that Jesus was born only a man and remained so until his baptism."

Do you see any eery similarities with Bethel Church's teaching on Christ's divinity?  BSR does.  How important it is to realize that the real Jesus was 100% man and 100% divine (the hypostatic union).  The false Jesus's are either 100% man and 0% divine, or 0% man and 100% divine.  Please browse the top of this site for helpful information on these topics.

In his book, When Heaven Invades Earth, Johnson explains that Christ is not part of Jesus's name (his last name): "Christ is not Jesus' last name. The word Christ means 'Anointed One' or 'Messiah'. It is a title that points to an experience. It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from Heaven to earth with a title. He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired".

Johnson says this "Christ" word relates to an experience.  What experience?  His baptism (age 30).  


The problem with this teaching is that even an angel of the Lord called Jesus "Christ" approximately thirty whole years before His water baptism (clearly, making it a part of His title at birth). Because Christ means Messiah, and Jesus was and is always the Messiah, He had that title before his age thirty water baptism "experience". 

Remember Luke 2:10,11 says, "Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'". Keep in mind, Jesus was only a baby at this point, long before His water baptism experience ('the smearing', as Johnson describes), yet the mighty angel of the Lord calls Him..."Christ the Lord"!
"Therefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3).
Johnson explains, "the word anointing means 'to smear'. The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism. The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit".
**Now re-read the Bible study notes in the photo**.  

Johnson preaches this about Jesus: "He laid his divinity aside" (When Heaven Invades Earth; chapter 7; page 110). Johnson also preaches that Jesus did His miracles as a man and not as God. Remember in John 10:30 when Jesus said, "I and the Father are one"? What about the immaculate conception and the virgin birth? That was divine, so Jesus had to be divine since conception, even before that - and forever for that matter! In an article from Charisma Magazine dated February 23, 2012, Johnson writes: "While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man...it’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God. If He did them as God, I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us. Jesus is the only model for us to follow". 

In the same paragraph from When Heaven Invades Earth, Johnson explains that Jesus was "powerless" as well (in addition to being a non-divine man): "The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb (powerless)".  When Scripture says Jesus was a lamb it does not mean He was powerless, but pure! 


Is this the Jesus you know, saint?
Please do some research to find out what else Johnson teaches about Jesus being a man until his baptism.  

Related: 

Bill Johnson's Non-Divine Jesus

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gnostic heresy: an interesting find in a study Bible leads to further clarification concerning the public 'divinity' of Christ discussion and Bethel Church (pastor is Bill Johnson)...stay tuned

Good morning!  Came across a very interesting blurb in a study Bible which pertains to Gnostic heresy.  Opened the Bible and looked right at it!  Looking forward to sharing it as it was eye opening and now some teachings coming out of Bethel Church are starting to make more sense (from a Gnostic viewpoint)!  In the near future, a photo of this Bible page will be posted for your information.  You will find it very interesting.  Until then, here is a blurb to ponder:

Johnson preaches this about Jesus: "He laid his divinity aside" (When Heaven Invades Earth; chapter 7; page 110). Johnson also preaches that Jesus did His miracles as a man and not as God. Remember in John 10:30 when Jesus said, "I and the Father are one"? What about the immaculate conception and the virgin birth? That was divine, so Jesus had to be divine since conception, even before that - and forever for that matter! In an article from Charisma Magazine dated February 23, 2012, Johnson writes: "While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man...it’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God. If He did them as God, I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us. Jesus is the only model for us to follow". (Blog entry found on the Christian Post domain dated June 16, 2012).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Only One Jesus Can Save: 100% Divine and 100% Human

Check out this great comment we found on a Jesus Culture forum from a believer 
who was attempting to warn the brethren!

The Real Jesus is 100% Divine and 100% Man (Jesus of the Bible)
Not 0% Divine for thirty years and 100% Man (Jesus of Bill Johnson)
* Research the Hypostatic Union *

This was just another great comment that BSRG has come across from a faithful Berean!  This comment emphasizes the importance of exposing the false teachers and testing the spirits.  When Bill Johnson denies the full divinity of Jesus when Jesus was under the age of thirty, doesn't Johnson fail the test of a Biblical teacher?  Please research Johnson's public books, sermons and articles.  As Christians, we must be discerning and only follow the right Jesus.  After all, there is only one Jesus who can save!  If we follow a different Jesus or a different spirit, isn't that worshipping a false God?  
"You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) 
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

* * * 

Below are two more comments we found in a Jesus Culture forum from a believer 
who was attempting to warn the brethren and admonish (edify) them with sound doctrine...  
False Miracles and False Christs
Some More Questions and Answers

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bethel Church Teachings: Bill Johnson's 'Born Again' Jesus, Part I

Hello!

Wanted to share this helpful article by CrossWise Ministry:


Bill Johnson's 'Born Again' Jesus, Part I


This article contains direct quotes from Bill Johnson's books and other official sources.  God bless your day as you study the scriptures like a Berean, testing all things!

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11)
"Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Proof: Three Pieces of Evidence that Bill Johnson Teaches a Non-Divine Jesus Walked this Earth

Often, when bringing up Bill Johnson's doctrines, many will say, "Bill didn't really mean that", "Bill didn't say that" or "he is a nice guy".  The irrefutable evidence shows that this teacher really does teach a non-divine Jesus walked this earth.  Bethel Sozo Research has seen these quotes directly from books, articles and a sermon.  There is no denying that this is what Bill teaches about Jesus Christ:
"He laid his divinity aside." (When Heaven Invades Earth; chapter 7; page 110) 
Direct quotations cannot be argued; they are fact.  Furthermore, when the same teaching appears in a number of places (books, articles and sermons), proof is further established - knowing that there was no mistake in speech.  When a teacher repeats the teaching and even precedes his or her teaching with the phrase, "it's vital to note", Christians can conclude that the teaching is not a mere "slip-up", but a vital teaching to the teacher:  
"While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man...it’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God. If He did them as God, I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us. Jesus is the only model for us to follow".  (In an article from Charisma Magazine dated February 23, 2012)
Elsewhere, in a sermon entitled When Heaven Comes dated May 6, 2012, Johnson teaches that Christ is eternally God, but then he explains how Christ was not divine on earth until his (age thirty) water baptism!  Is this consistent with the Hypostatic Union?  Wasn't the real Jesus Christ even divine at conception (i.e., born of a virgin)???  Yes, we are to follow the Lord's example.  But, emptying Jesus Christ of His divinity on earth to make Him like the "average Joe" is not acceptable.  Jesus was 100% divine and 100% human on earth without sacrificing either.  Being conceived by the Holy Spirit Himself (Luke 1:35) makes Jesus very different than the normal human being!  

What matters is doctrinal fruit.  
"For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him." (2 Corinthians 11:4)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Look at Doctrinal Fruit: An Article 'Character of the Cults' by Patrick Zukeran


Character of the Cults


Article contributed by Probe Ministries

Challenge of the Cults


This church is growing so rapidly, sociologist Rodney Stark predicts that by the year 2080, it will become the most important world religion to emerge since the rise of Islam.1 What church is Dr. Stark describing? It is not a Christian church but the Mormon Church, an organization labeled as a cult. The rise of the Mormon Church represents the growing challenge facing the church, the kingdom of the cults. 

What is a cult? The greatest authority on the cults, the late Dr. Walter Martin, described a cult as “A group of people gathered around a specific person’s misinterpretation of the Bible.”2 Cults are groups that claim to be in harmony with Christianity but deny foundational Christian doctrines such as the Trinity or the unique deity of Jesus Christ. 

In Matthew 7:15-17, Jesus gives us a warning about the coming of the cults. He states, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” What Jesus was warning was that cultists will look, act, and sound like Christians. However, that is only in external appearance. One can parade as a true believer for a time, but eventually one’s words, actions, and especially one’s beliefs--their “fruit”--will give one away as a counterfeit.

The growth of the cults can be attributed to several factors. First, it is a fulfillment of the warning given by Jesus and the apostles. In Matthew 24:23-26, Jesus warns us that as His return draws near, there will be an increase in false prophets who will ensnare many in their false teachings. In 2 Peter 2:1-3, Peter warns us that false teachers will arise from within the church.

The second factor in the growth of the cults is the breakdown of the family. Cults provide the family atmosphere many from broken homes long for; the cult leader often takes the place of a father figure.

Finally, we can attribute the growth of the cults to the failure of the church. As my mentor repeatedly stated, “The cults are the unpaid bills of the church.” The cults thrive because Christians are lacking in biblical and theological understanding. Dr. Martin stated, “The rise of the cults is directly proportional to the fluctuating emphasis which the church has placed on the teachings of biblical doctrine to Christian laymen. To be sure, few pastors, teachers, and evangelists defend adequately their beliefs, but most of them -- and most of the average Christian laymen - are hard put to confront and refute a well-trained cultist of almost any variety.”3 If the church engaged in solid and in-depth Bible teaching, the cults would not flourish as they do today.

Doctrinal Character of the Cults

How do you know if a religious group is a cult? Jesus said that you will know false prophets by their fruits. In stating this he was not only speaking of their words and actions but of their doctrinal beliefs as well. Cults deviate from biblical Christianity in several key areas of doctrine.

Cults promote false teaching on the nature of God. The Bible teaches there is one God revealed in three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The central feature that distinguishes cults from biblical Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity. All cults have a distorted view of this doctrine. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses condemn the doctrine of the Trinity, and Mormons teach tritheism, three gods who make up the godhead.

Second, cults teach a false view of Jesus. The Bible teaches that Christ is 100 percent man and 100 percent God. This has been called the hypostatic union. In 2 Corinthians 11:4, Paul warned about false teachers teaching another Jesus. A modern-day example of false teaching is Christian Science which teaches that Jesus was not God but a man who displayed the Christ idea. He neither died for sins, nor was He resurrected.

Third is a false teaching on salvation. All cults have a works-oriented Gospel. The death of Christ is believed to give followers the potential to be saved. So after believing in Christ, one must serve the organization to attain salvation. Salvation is found in the organization and one is never really sure if one has done enough to be worthy of salvation. In the International Church of Christ, for example, disciples are scrutinized by their discipler daily to determine if they performed as worthy disciples. Failure to meet the standards may result in discipline. Disciples can never be certain they have done enough for salvation.

Fourth, there is extra-biblical revelation and the denial of the sole authority of the Bible. Cults claim that extra revelation is given to the leader whose words are seen as inspired by God and equal to the Bible. If there is a conflict between the Bible and the leader’s words, the latter takes precedence. So in reality, the leader’s writings take precedence over the Bible. When interacting with cultists, I often hear them claim their teachings are consistent with the Bible. However, when I point out where their teachings deviate from the Bible, they eventually claim the Bible to be in error. In most cases, cultists claim the Bible has somehow been corrupted by the church.


Sociological Structure of the Cults


Not only do cults deviate doctrinally from biblical Christianity, they have distinctive sociological characteristics. The first is authoritarianism. The leader or organization exercises complete control over a follower’s life. The words of the leadership are ultimate and often considered divinely inspired. Going against the leadership is equivalent to going against the commands of God.

The second characteristic is an elitist mentality. Most cults believe they are the true church and the only ones who will be saved. This is because the group believes they have new revelation or understanding that gives them superior standing.

Third is isolationism. Due to their elitist mentality, cultists believe those who do not agree with them are deceived or under the influence of Satan. Therefore, many feel their members must be protected from the outside world, and physical or psychological barriers are created. Members are prohibited from communicating with those outside the organization who do not agree with the teachings of the group.

Fourth, there is closed-mindedness and the discouragement of individual thinking. Because of its authoritarian nature, leaders are the only ones thought to be able to properly interpret the Bible. All members are to turn to the organization for biblical interpretation and advice on life decisions. Therefore, individual thinking and questioning is discouraged. There is an unwillingness to dialogue and consider other viewpoints.

Fifth is a legalistic lifestyle. As mentioned earlier, salvation is not based on grace; cults teach a works-oriented gospel. This leads to a lifestyle of legalism. Followers must live up to the group’s standards in order to attain or maintain their membership and hope for eternal life. Followers are required to faithfully serve, and attend meetings, studies, and services. As a result, there is tremendous pressure to live up to the requirements of the organization.

Finally there is a difficult exit process. Since salvation is found in the organization, leaving the organization is considered by many to be leaving God. All former members who leave cults are shunned by members which often includes members of their own family. Many are warned that if they leave, they will be condemned to hell, or seduced by Satan. Many ex-members are harassed by the organization even after they leave. Exiting members often end up distrusting any religious organization and end up feeling isolated and alone.

Life in the cults is marked by fear of judgment, pressure, and legalism. This is a far cry from what we are taught in the Bible. Jesus and the apostles taught that the new life in Christ is one of grace, love, and freedom from the law. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” The peace and rest promised by Christ is seldom experienced by those in the cults.

Cultic Methodology


When you receive a knock on your door in the mornings, who do you assume it to be? A salesman? A Girl Scout selling cookies? For many of us, we assume it to be a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon missionary looking to tell us about his or her organization. One of the reasons cults have grown is their methodology.

The methods cults use to win converts are moral deception, aggressive proselytizing, and Scripture twisting. By moral deception I mean cults use Christian terminology to win converts. For example, New Agers use the term born again to support reincarnation. Mormons use terms like the Trinity and salvation by grace but these terms have different meanings than what the Bible teaches. Therefore, many untrained Christians are deceived into believing these groups are actually Christian.

Aggressive proselytizing is another method of the cults. Although many Christian groups use aggressive evangelism, they do so out of a love for God and a desire to see others come to know Christ. Many cultists proselytize for much the same reasons but added to this is the desire to win God’s approval. They work for grace rather than from grace. The cults require their members to evangelize. Many groups hold their members accountable for the number of hours they spend witnessing for the organization. Many members feel guilty if a day or so goes by without them proselytizing.

Scripture twisting is another method of the cults. Cultist quote verses in the Bible that support their position, but skip over the verses that do not. Often, there is gross misinterpretation of Scripture so that contradictory verses will better fall in line with their views.

For example, Jehovah’s Witness and Mormons try to use verses to show Jesus is a created being. However, their position is easily shown to be incorrect when you explain the context and correct meaning of the terms. Also, when you show additional verses that contradict their position, they are often surprised and realize they have never seen those verse before or that the organization’s explanations of those verses are unable to be supported.

To successfully engage in conversation and effectively witness to those in the cults, Christians must be prepared in the following ways. First Peter 3:15 states that we must always be “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” We must be prepared by knowing the word of God through diligent study of it. Second, we must be prepared to overcome our fears and lovingly reach out to cult members, exercising the fruits of patience and gentleness as we share the truth.

Danger of the Cults


The rise of the cults pose a serious challenge to the church because they present several dangers to the church and families involved. First, there is a spiritual danger. First Timothy 4:1 states “...that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Ultimately the spirit behind all lies and deception is the devil, so the ultimate force behind the cults is the evil one.

Galatians 1:8 states, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other that than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.” The false gospel of the cults cannot lead anyone to salvation. There are eternal consequences for false beliefs. For this reason Jesus and the apostles are very harsh on false teachers.

There is also a psychological danger. The mind controlling techniques used by the organizations can cause immense damage mentally and emotionally. Living under the pressure, guilt, and dependence on the organization has proven to have tremendous negative effects on individuals.

Third, there is domestic danger. Individuals are taught that loyalty to the organization is equivalent to allegiance with God. Therefore, loyalty to the organization supersedes loyalty to family. Thus, if a family member begins conducting himself in a way the organization does not approve of, the cult will often separate the family from the individual member. Isolation can be emotional or physical. Numerous families have been separated as a result.

In some cases there is a physical danger. The teachings of David Koresh cost the Branch Davidians their lives. Hobart Freeman taught that believers did not need medicine for illnesses, and told his followers to throw all theirs away. As a result, he and fifty-two of his members died from curable conditions.

In light of this threat, what are Christians called to do? First, we are called to study and know the Word of God. Paul writes to Timothy and all saints saying, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the world of truth.” Christians should master the Bible so that they will not be deceived by any false teaching. Second, Titus commands us to be able to confront and refute false teachers. Finally, in Acts 20, Paul exhorts the leaders of the church to protect their flock from the false teachers that will prey upon the sheep. Every Christian is called to know the truth so well they can confront false teaching, and protect their church and family from it.

Bibliography


Cults

Ankerberg, John and Weldon, John. Cult Watch. Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 1991.
Boa, Ken. Cults, World Religions, and the Occult. Wheaton, lll.: Victor Books, 1990.
Martin, Walter & Hank Hannegraph. Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1997.
Geisler, Norman and Rhodes, Ron. When Cultists Ask. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1997.
Rhodes, Ron. Challenge of the Cults. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing, 2001.

Mormonism

Ankerberg, John, and Weldon, John. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Mormonism. Eugene, Ore: Harvest House Publishers, 1992.
Blomberg, Craig and Robinson, Stephen. How Wide the Divide? Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997.
Oslting, Richard & Joan. Mormon America. San Francisco, Cal.: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Bowman, Robert. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1989.
_______. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1989.
Rhodes, Ron. Reasoning From the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 1993.
1 Richard Ostling, Mormon America (San Francisco, Calif.: Harper Collins Publishing Inc. 1999), p. XVI.
2 Walter Martin & Hank Hannegraph, The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, Mich.: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), p. 17.
3 Norman Geisler, When Cultists Ask (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1997), p. 15.
© 2003 Probe Ministries