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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 25, 2010
Cultic Oppression: The Errors of Man Based Theology
Introduction & Review
This morning we will continue in our series of messages of warning about false religions, philosophies and the cults. This is an expansion on the apostle Peter’s warnings to us about false teachers and mockers that seek to keep the unbelieving blind to the truth and hinder the Christian from being steadfast in walking with our Lord.
The Importance of Truth
We began this series by examining the necessity of following Biblically based theology because truth matters. Truth is that which conforms to actual reality. Perceptions of truth are not enough because an incorrect perception can easily result in disaster. The wrong medication can put you in the hospital. A bad investment can bankrupt the family. A faulty part can cause an airplane to crash. A wrong judgment can result in severe consequences. It was reported that written on one man’s tombstone were these simple words, “He called Jake a liar.” Even worse, a wrong basis for being reconciled with our creator will result in a destination of hell instead of heaven. Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7 about false teachers needs to be taken to heart. They may even think are serving God in Jesus’ name, but He will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
The Bible as the Source of Truth
There are many systems that claim to be the source of knowledge and truth, but only in God’s word do we find a system in which that is actually true. The Bible is the only ultimately reliable source of truth since it covers both the material and immaterial aspects of reality. Science claims to a reliable foundation for truth, but science can be fooled by wrong perceptions, incomplete knowledge and those who will lie about their observations. The global warming hoax of the last couple of decades is just one more example of these things happening. In addition, science cannot make any claim of knowledge about the immaterial realities of the spirit world. The Bible is reliable for the following reasons:
1) The Bible claims to be the Word of God.
2) The Bible is historically accurate
3) The Biblical writers were men of the highest integrity
4) The many fulfilled prophecies attest to a divine origin
5) The internal character and preservation of the Bible demonstrate God’s hand upon it.
6) The Scripture’s description of the physical world reveals what could have only been known at that time by the creator.
We have discussed each of these in detail before, so we will not be doing that again this morning. (See: A Faith Worth Believing; The Bible: God’s Revelation for Living; and Why We Believe The Bible).
Demonic Deception. A couple of weeks ago I pointed out that the main problem with religions and cults based on angelic revelation is that those angels can turn out to be demons. (See: Demonic Deception). Satanic and occult groups are usually fairly obvious in being from a demon, but other groups, such as Islam and Mormonism, claim genuine angelic revelation. Those claims have to be matched with what the angel teaches about God, Jesus and salvation. If it is a different God, a different Jesus or a different means of salvation from what the Bible teaches, then it is a demon disguising himself as an angel of light even as Satan does (2 Corinthians 11:14). God, Jesus and the means of salvation in both Islam and Mormonism are radically different from the teaching of the Scriptures, so they are false religions that are based on demonic revelation. It may be hard to identify the source of revelation as being directly demonic in other religions and cults, yet demonic influence can be identified by what is taught since it will include demonic doctrine. Jonathan pointed out some of this last week in his sermon.
Eastern Mysticism. Jonathan used the New Age Movement as an example of the nature and danger of all the eastern mystical religions from which the New Age Movement has sprung. At the heart of them is the lie that the devil used to entice Eve in Genesis 3 that you can become like God if you gain the hidden wisdom. That lie will be stated in many different ways and a wide variety of methods are promoted on how to gain that mystical knowledge, but the lie is still essentially the same. They claim that what God has revealed is not enough and not the whole truth, but if you gain the mystery knowledge that they have then you will know the truth and can become the being you want to be. (See: Experts in Enigmas).
The tragedy is that like Eve, those who seek out and follow any of these mystery based religions will find themselves ultimately damned by the very lies they thought would make them free. While God has not revealed everything to us (Deuteronomy 29:29, etc.), God has revealed to us everything we need to know in order to walk with Him in the truth. The Apostle Peter was very clear on this point in 2 Peter 1:2-4 stating, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” In short, God’s word is sufficient to know the truth. God has also given the believer the ministry of the Holy Spirit to enlighten his mind to understand and apply the truths of the Bible. (See: Power for Living).
If what is advocated is a hidden, mysterious or secret knowledge, then it is a teaching that will lead you astray and is very dangerous, so stay away from it from the start. If you are told the content of their special knowledge, check against scripture and you will find it advocates a different god, a different Jesus and a very different gospel. Give strong warning to those proclaiming the false teaching and pray God will grant them repentance before it is too late.
This morning we continue in this same vein of warning by exposing the heart of the error of the cults in man based theology.
The word “cult” has become hard to define. The word itself refers to those who “adhere to an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices.” Its early usage was even applied to what would now be considered evangelical groups. In the early twentieth century the term started taking on a negative meaning by its usage to refer to those religious groups that taught unorthodox doctrine or placed undue allegiance to an individual or small group of leaders, or both. The definition of a “cult” can still vary widely depending on who is using the term and the particular group to which it is being applied. There are both Christian and non-Christian cults. I will be using the term from the Biblical evangelical perspective on Christian sects. The non-Christian cults would be put into the category of false religions.
Alan Gomes in Unmasking The Cults defined a Christian cult as “a group of people, which claiming to be Christian, embraces a particular doctrinal system taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization, which (system) denies (either explicitly or implicitly) one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian faith as taught in the sixty-six books of the Bible.” I think this definition could be reduced to “any Christian sect that has a source of knowledge / authority that it considers to be superior to the Holy Scriptures.” It is this supposed superior authority to the Bible that results in the cults being heretical and having an authoritarian structure with power vested in either an individual or small number of leaders.
Foundational to any religious group is its source of knowledge and authority for its theology will arise from that source. The same is actually true of other types of groups for even a political party’s philosophy and practices are based on its authority structure and belief system. Demonic religions have their source of authority in demonic revelation. The New Age Movement has its source of authority in hidden knowledge and mysteries of dubious origins not clearly defined. Cults claim a source or sources of authority that they consider to be superior to the Scriptures. These are often the writings or sayings of a particular individual or a small group of leaders who also exercise authority over the group. This alternative source of authority may be used to supercede and replace the Bible, or be used as the only valid interpreter of the Scriptures for the cult. In either case, the authority is shifted from God’s word to the teachings of men. Jesus rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for this in Matthew 15:8-9 saying, “This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men .”
From an outsiders perspective, cults appear to have a man-based theology for what is cited as authoritative are the cult leader or his or her writings. Those inside the cult may believe they are following a god-based theology based on the claims of the cult leaders. This is why they are so dangerous. Their claim is to be one thing when in reality it is something quite different. In fact, an analysis of what they teach will often demonstrate demonic influence for they proclaim demonic doctrine and follow theological beliefs that are in opposition to Biblical revelation. This is not so say that the heresies found in cults always have a demonic origin, for man is quite capable of developing false theologies by himself, but it is to say there is often a tie to what is ultimately demonic.
Protection from the Cults
Know the Bible. How do we protect ourselves and those around us from the cults? As always, it begins by knowing the Bible well enough to recognize when something does not match it. That does not mean you will necessarily be able to pinpoint the heresy when something is taught that is false, but you will recognize that there is something wrong with it because it does not match the Scriptures. The commonly given illustration of this is training bank workers to know real currency so well that they can instantly recognize a counterfeit bill without having to analyze it. I am told that some can separate the real and counterfeit by feel while they are counting it.
Do you know the Bible well enough to recognize when a teaching does not match what it says? If not, then you need to become more knowledgeable of God’s word. Psalm 1 tells us that the blessed man delights in God’s word and meditates on it day and night. Follow the command that Paul gave to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). That is the verse upon which our AWANA program for children is founded. We want even our children to know God’s word well enough that they can distinguish between truth and error.
Exposing Cult Doctrine
The false teaching in some cults is easy to spot while it may be very subtle in other cults and not easily recognized. Since that means a cult could get by your first line of defense, you need to have a second line of defense and be prepared to use it. The second line of defense is to carefully examine what is being taught and compare that to the Scriptures. This is actually what we should be doing all the time even with those teachers that we trust.
In Acts 17 we find that Paul had left Philippi and had gone to Thessalonica to preach the gospel in that city, and then from there to Berea where he also preached in the synagogue. Acts 17:11 tells us that “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, [to see] whether these things were so.” This is the proper mindset that all men should have and especially Christians. Though they eagerly listened to what Paul said concerning Jesus, they also examined what he said and compared it to the Scriptures to make sure they were not being led astray from the truth. That has always been my challenge to those who hear me or read my writings. Check them against the Scriptures to make sure I am telling you the truth. Any man can err, but God’s word does not. We need to hold each other accountable to make sure we do not err and correct each other quickly when we do.
The Christian cults prey on those who have a background in some type of Christian church but are largely ignorant of the Bible themselves. That does not mean that they will not go after other people, but they are often the most effective in recruiting those with some type of Christian background because they will manipulate that background against their victim.
Some cults will strive to discredit the Bible and substitute themselves as the ones who really know God’s will. Those would be the gnostic type cults that claim a hidden or secret knowledge beyond the Bible. They usually have religious writings of some kind that they claim supercedes the Bible.
Generally, cults are experts at twisting the Scriptures and making it seem like they are the only ones that really understand it. Many even revere the Bible to some degree and may even encourage Bible study, but only according to the teachings of their group. They do not encourage a person to be like the Bereans and study the Scriptures on their own as we do here. They will want to direct each step of study to make sure the recruit comes to the conclusions of the cult.
Understand that the goal of a cult is to get the victim to trust the cult as the source of truth. This puts the cult in the position of being the one that makes the final determination on what the Scriptures mean. When that happens, the second line of defense is breached and the victim will cease thinking critically for themselves and yield themselves to the leadership of the cult and accept their authority structure.
This brings up an additional line of defense that should be in place. It is not a third line of defense, but another element in the second line of defense. Examine the authority structure of the cult.
Exposing Cult Authority Structure
First, let me acknowledge that even legitimate churches will at times abuse the authority structure that God has designed for the church. I personally know of churches where this has happened. However, you can still distinguish a cult by an authority structure vested in the cult leader or leaders that is without recourse to challenge it. In a legitimate church that abuses authority, there is always a means of challenging that authority to call it back to its proper Biblical role.
I have spoken on church structure in the past (See: Saints, Elders & Deacons), so I am only going to briefly describe it here. Jesus founded the church upon the Apostles, who then trained and established elders in the churches they planted. This was Paul’s common practice (Acts 14:23) and even the early church in Jerusalem established elders (Acts 11:30). The elders were given the responsibility of overseeing the church and shepherding its people. Elders are also referred to in the Scriptures as overseers/bishops and pastors/shepherds. Three different terms, but all refer to the same men serving in the same office carrying out the same God given responsibilities. Elders must have certain godly character qualities and meet the theological qualification of being able to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Assisting the elders in their duties are deacons and deaconesses who also have to posses particular character qualities (1 Timothy 3:8-12).
Peter instructed elders to “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to [the will of] God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3). Paul told the elders not only to be on guard against wolves that would come against the flock (Acts 20:28-30), but also that “the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses [and escape] from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Paul also gave many exhortations for others to follow his example and told Timothy and Titus to be examples of godliness even in their leadership. In addition, an elder can be rebuked, though the accusation should only be received on the basis of two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
These instructions to elders give balance to the command in Hebrews 13:17 which says, “Obey your leaders, and submit [to them]; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” This command can be abused when it is over emphasized and the passages concerning how an elder leads are not followed or ignored. It is common for cult groups to place the emphasis on the obedience of the people without consideration of the conduct of the leaders.
A mark of a cult is an authoritarian leadership structure. They do not usually suffer others to correct, rebuke or admonish its leaders. They demand obedience because of their position of authority rather than from the position of their example of godliness. The only real authority an elder has is their knowledge of the word of God and calling people to submit to and follow God. I do not have authority to tell you how to live your life – who to marry, where to live, what job you should take, what you should spend your money on – but I do have authority to proclaim God’s word to you and call on you to follow its commands and principles. There is also the godly wisdom that comes from years of study and walking with the Lord that should result in wise counsel. A godly leader is to look out for your soul and desire what is best for you, not for himself. Cult leaders will use their position of authority to exploit their followers for their own benefit and that of the cult. They end up being the source of authority instead of God’s word.
Tragically, those who become part of a cult are not only oppressed by its authority structure, but commonly they become enmeshed in a social structure from which it is extremely difficult to break free. The authority structure results in the victim believing only those leaders know God’s will, so to go against them is seen as going against God’s will. Within the cult strong relational bonds are formed which heightens the desire to please those within the group and refrain from doing anything that would disappoint them. In some groups these relational ties can quickly grow to be stronger than the ties to previous friends and even family. Cults are very dangerous.
To summarize how to protect yourself from a cult:
1) Know the Bible well enough to recognize when something is taught that does not match it.
2) Compare what is taught with the Bible and especially in the three areas of the identity, character and nature of God, of Jesus and the message of salvation. If it varies from the Biblical God, Jesus or the gospel, then it is a cult.
3) Examine the group carefully to determine its source of knowledge and authority. Is it the Bible or something else? If the group has writings that superceded the Bible, it is a cult. If the leaders of the group claim that only they can determine Biblical interpretation for the group, it is a cult. If the group’s leaders claim authority beyond the Scripture demanding your obedience simply because of their position, then it is a cult.
Let me conclude this morning by giving you a quick look at a few of the more common cults in America as examples of how to quickly identify any heretical cult.
Examples of Cults: Jehovah’s Witnesses
This cult was founded by Charles Taze Russell in the late 1800’s based on his own musings that Christ would return in 1874. When that did not happen he claimed it happened spiritually and be began a magazine in 1879 to promote his teaches which was entitled Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. This was later simply called The Watchtower. The group has made multiple predictions about other dates including the coming of Armageddon in 1914 and then reset to 1925. Their date setting shows them to be false prophets for they fail to meet the text of Deuteronomy 18.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have many other teachings that identify them clearly as a heretical cult.
Authority: They produced their own translation of the Bible, The New World Translation, in 1950 and revised it through 1984. It is a very poor translation and particularly designed to back up their theology, but the real authority is in The Governing Body. “All members are expected to abide by the doctrines and organizational requirements as determined by the Governing Body. Watch Tower publications strongly discourage Witnesses from formulating doctrines reached through independent Bible research. Members who promote privately-developed teachings contrary to those of the Governing Body may be disfellowshipped.” (http://www.watchtowerinformationservice.org/doctrine-changes/jehovah-witness-beliefs/
God: They reject the doctrine of the trinity attributing its origin to Satan. They deny the deity of Jesus making Him a lesser god who was the first and direct creation of Jehovah God. They deny the personhood of the Holy Spirit making Him “God’s active force.”
Salvation: Salvation is a combination of faith in Jesus’ atonement on the cross plus good works as defined by the society. They also believe that a person can fall away from salvation and be condemned by God. Their version of heaven is spilt between a select group of 144,000 that go to heaven and co-reign with Christ over the earth, and all the rest of the “saved” who survive the final test after Armageddon and Satan’s final rebellion who will be able to live forever on this present earth which will be restored to a paradise. They also teach the annihilation – cessation of existence – for sinners.
Summary: They have the wrong God, the wrong Jesus, the wrong Holy Spirit, the wrong gospel and the wrong source of authority – their elite leadership instead of God’s word. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a heretical cult.
Its name was changed to Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in 1997. This group is commonly referred to as the Moonies because it was founded by Sun Myung Moon of Korea in 1954. The “unification” part of its name reflects the group’s efforts to bring together disparate groups and try to reconcile various religious and political factions. His church expanded to Japan in 1958 and to the United States in 1959. Moon married Hak Ja Han in 1960, an event they describe as the “marriage of the Lamb” and the establishment of the “True Parents.” They even claim that their children were the first to be born without original sin. By the 1970’s they relocated to the United States where Moon presided over a growing church and worldwide business ventures. In 1991 Moon declared himself to be the Messiah.
Among its more bizarre teachings is that those who are married through a Unification Church wedding ceremony become part of the “true family” of God. These have takes place in mass ceremonies with the couples being chosen by Moon himself and some of them not meeting until the ceremony.
Authority. Sun Myung Moon wrote The Divine Principle in 1957. This is their scared text along with his transcribed speeches supposedly explaining the true meaning of the Bible.
God. Moonies believe God to be a dual masculine-feminine, positive-negative being and not triune, immutable or self-sufficient. They also deny the deity of Jesus, His virgin birth and His bodily resurrection. Their doctrine of the Holy Spirit is a confusing mix including being understood as the female spirit bride of Jesus and also as a divine energy and not a person.
Salvation. Moon teaches that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection were an unplanned mistake and that His death only removes original sin. Their salvation is dependent upon their works, but their goal is not reconciliation with God, but to become divine, like God, for this is Moon’s promise for the highest level of heaven
Summary: They have the wrong God, the wrong Jesus, the wrong Holy Spirit, the wrong gospel and the wrong source of authority – Rev. Moon, not God’s word. The Moonies are a heretical cult.
There are a host Christian sects in existence and these same tests must be applied in order to determine if they are a cult or a legitimate church of Jesus Christ. Here are a few more quick exposures.
The Way International
This cult was founded by Victor Paul Wierwille in 1942 in Ohio. Its sources of authority are the Aramaic (also known as the Syriac) Bible as explained by the teachings of Wierwille. In addition, it is hyperdispenstational and only the writings of Paul are considered relevant to current Christians. They deny the trinity, the deity of Jesus and the personhood of the Holy Spirit. The wrong God, the wrong Jesus and the wrong source of authority make it an heretical cult.
This “denomination” formed in 1961 in Boston from the merger of the Universalist Church of American, founded 1793, and the American Unitarian Association, founded in 1825. Unlike other cults, there is no hierarchal source of authority. Instead, they value inspiration from many religious writings but view ultimate truth being found by looking within one’s own heart, soul and mind. They deny the existence of a personal God and regard Jesus as only a wise teacher of ethics if he existed at all. They deny the concept of sin and the existence of hell and of heaven also. Wrong source of authority, wrong god, wrong Jesus, wrong gospel results in a heretical cult – though not authoritarian as are most cults.
This group was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879 following the publication in 1875 of her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which is the authoritative book for the group since it is the only recognized proper interpretation of the Bible. The god of Christian Science is an impersonal, all-powerful force. Jesus did not die on the cross or rise from the dead nor was he divine himself but only displayed the divine Christ as the “Way-Shower.” According to Eddy’s writings, salvation is not a personal deliverance from real sin and wickedness, but “boundless freedom and sinless sense,” and something man does not receive but just recognizes since “Man as God’s idea is already saved with an everlasting salvation.” Once again, the wrong authority resulting in the wrong God, the wrong Jesus, and a false gospel. Christian Science is a heretical cult.
There are many Christian cults and it would take quite awhile just to list them much less expose them. Some are large and widespread, some even international, but many are small groups occurring in only one place with one dominate leader. You can run into them almost anywhere and many have Radio, Television and internet outlets. They often arise out of or even take control of what would have been considered healthy churches. Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-30 to be on guard for the flock for “savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Peter warned each of us to be on guard lest we be carried away by false teachers from our steadfastness in following Christ (2 Peter 3:17). Are you prepared? Know your Bible. Run away from groups that have an authority above the Scriptures and from those that have an authoritarian structure. Be a Berean and compare what is taught with the Scriptures themselves.
The Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin
Handbook of World Religions, by Len Woods
Sermon Notes – 4/11/2010
Cultic Oppression – The Errors of Man-based Theology
The Importance of Truth
Truth is that which conforms to actual ___________. Faulty perceptions can result in ____________
The Bible as the Source of Truth
The Bible is reliable for the following reasons:
1) The Bible claims to be the Word of ________.
2) The Bible is historically _____________
3) The Biblical _______were of the highest integrity
4) Fulfilled ____________attest to divine origin
5) The internal character and preservation of the Bible demonstrate ___________________ upon it.
6) The Scripture’s description of the physical world reveals what could have only been ____________at that time by the creator.
Claims of angelic origin must agree with teaching that ____________Scripture or it is actually demoni
They claim you must know their _______knowledge to know the truth and become what you want to be
God has granted us all the knowledge we _________ to know Him and how to live – 2 Peter 1:2-4
Those who “adhere to an _____________ system of religious beliefs and practices.”
“Any Christian sect that has a source of authority that it considers to be _______to the Holy Scriptures”
That authority may claim to supercede the ___________, or just be the only means to rightly interpret it.
Cult members may think they are following God, but they are following either men or ___________
Protection from the Cults
Know the Bible well enough to ______________when something does not match it.
Psalm __________________________ 2 Timothy ________________________________________
Exposing Cult Doctrine
___________ doctrine may get by your first line of defense – be prepared to examine doctrine carefully
Be like the _______________- Acts 17:11 – at all times. Any man can err, but God’s word does not
Christian cults ___________ on those who have a some nominal Christian background
Cults are experts at ________________ the Scriptures to seem like only they that really understand it.
They do not encourage people to be Bereans, but only to study the Bible according to ____interpretation
The goal of a cult is to get the victim to trust the cult as the source of ____- and submit to their authority
Exposing Cult Authority Structure
Legitimate churches may abuse authority, but there is a means to _________it and call it back Biblically
Church authority is in _________as its head and then the elders as under-shepherds to oversee the flock
Elders must have certain _______character qualities and sound teaching ability (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)
Deacons & deaconesses ______the elders and must have certain godly character qualities (1Tim. 3:8-12)
1 Peter 5:2-3 – ___________ instruction to elders
Acts 20:28-30 – Paul’s ___________ to elders to be on guard for the flock
2 Timothy 2:24-26 – Paul’s __________to Timothy. _______________an elder – 1 Timothy 5:19-20
Hebrews 13:17 – Instructions to the congregation to ___________ its leaders – and the reasons why
Cults are _________________and generally do not allow correction or rebuke of its leaders
They demand obedience based on _______________ position rather than the example of godliness
Godly leaders look out for the flocks best interest while cult leaders _______________ their flock
Strong relationship bonds within the cult make it even more difficult to ____________ from it
Examples of Cults
The Way International
Be on guard – Acts 20:28-30; 2 Peter 3:17
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Write down all the verses mentioned. 2) Count how many references are made to cults 3) Talk with your parents what a cult is and how you can protect yourself from them.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is truth and why is it important? What are some of the reasons we can trust the Bible as the source of truth? How can we tell of a claim of angelic revelation is from an angel from God or from a demon? What are some of the lies common to the eastern mystical religions and the new age movement? What makes them “mystical” religions? How do we know that the Bible is sufficient? What does the word “cult” mean in general? How should it be defined when applied to Christian sects? What do cults share in common in their understanding of Biblical authority? How well do we need to know the Bible in order to protect ourselves and others from cults? What should you do if you do not know the Bible that well? What did Paul commend the Bereans for in Acts 17? What are some key doctrines we should always examine when evaluating religious teaching? What is the danger of placing your trust in a person or group of people as the source of truth? How would the abuse of authority in a legitimate church differ from the authoritarian abuse that occurs in a cult? What should be the authority structure in a church? What are the character and theological qualifications an elder must meet? What commands are given to elders about how they are to use their authority? How does this temper the command in Hebrews 13:17 for the congregation to obey its leaders? How do cult leaders abuse their authority? Summarize the ways by which you should be on guard and protect yourself from cults? What do the following groups teach about God, Jesus and the gospel? What it the source of authority in each group? 1) Jehovah’s Witnesses 2) The Unification Church (Moonies) 3) The Way International 4) Unitarian Universalists 5) Christian Science
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