18 September 2005

Cultish Reads

I've been reading on cults this quarter in my minimally spare time for other-than-school-or-devotional reading. Of note is Edmond C. Gruss's Cults and the Occult which lends some strong research on various cults, particularly ones in America. What I found extremely interesting is that in 2 sources for cults, they don't know quite what to do with Seventh-Day Adventists. Various writers are included in Gruss's chapter on the SDA noting their controversy in deciding whether Adventists are in the same class of cults as Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons, or just whether or not the SDA church should be considered another denomination of the evangelical church.

I have also read the October 2005 issue of Tabletalk magazine which is titled Cults: Disguised as Angels of Light. Various articles discuss the history of various cults or radical sects that are not currently considered evangelical denominations. Edmond C. Gruss authored "No Other Gospel" in which he sets forth a rubric or matrix which can be used as a guide to determine whether or not a particular doctrine of beliefs is a cult. Very simply, the rubric refers to mathematical terminology: add, subtract multiply, or divide." Gruss went on to use only 2 cults to compare to the rubric, but one can easily apply it across the board:
  • ADD: Are extra-biblical revelations or other books needed to understand the Bible or cited as the source of doctrine?
  • SUBTRACT: Does the group devalue Jesus Christ by denying His deity (a denial of the trinity)?
    • See Deuteronomy 6:4, 2 Corinthians 1:3, John 1:1, John 20:28, Hebrews 1:8, Romans 9:5, Acts 5:3-4, Psalms 90:2, Habbakuk 1:12, Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6-8, 44:24-25, 45:5-6, 45:18-24, & John 2:24.
  • MULTIPLY: Does the group multiply the requirements for salvation? Is salvation that is dependent o nmembership in the organization and certain required rituals a denial of justification by faith? Is salvation either uncertain or merely a future thing?
    • See Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5, Galations 5:22-25
  • DIVIDE: Does the organization claim to be the only one that has the truth? Does it claim it is God's sole channel or only true church? As a result, are all other religious organizations to be rejected as false? If a person leaves the group, is salvation lost?
Additionally, Gruss discusses doctrinal ambiguity and false prophecy associated with cults as well as the difference of semantics between a Christian and a member of a cult. It may sound like you're agreeing or talking about the same thing, but when you dig down deep to the definitions, then it is evident that there are 2 very different beliefs for almost every "buzz word".

If you are confused about cults, have been witnessed to by members of cults, or desire to witness to members of cults, then I HIGHLY recommend the October 2005 Tabletalk Issue available through Ligonier ministries or Edmond Gruss's book. It's helped me grow stronger in my faith and stand firm in the truth.


Blogger Dolly said...

I think there are Adventists who are truly Christians; in fact, there are several in my family who bear the fruit and love Christ and live for Him daily. By citing Gruss's book, I'm highlighting something of interest. I didn't know a lot about Adventist history nor about a lot of the controversy surrounding it even though I was brought up in it. I thought it was time to see what others had to say about it since I only know of my perspective. Like various other denominations of Christianity, I don't think Adventists are excluded from being heirs to Christ, but I do think that most denominations that are not reformed make the process of sanctification far more difficult by reading things into the Bible that don't exist or taking things out of context--and become legalistic with their beliefs. Salvation is so easy: it is only through grace by faith ALONE.

19 September, 2005 20:31  

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