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Cults and World Religions

Reflections



The [Christian] “doctrines” are translations into our concepts and ideas of that which God has already expressed in language more adequate, namely the actual incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.
C. S. Lewis, a letter
(1898-1963) 262

Christianity’s Relics

Here are some of the “relics” considered authentic in apostate Christianity:

Who is right and who is wrong? How is the answer determined?

A cult is a religion which does not recognize Jesus Christ as God and Savior of the world. This is a simpler definition than we started with, but it is an accurate definition of any religious group which does not accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God and Jesus Christ as the incarnate, crucified, resurrected God-man.

And, when one does not accept such a premise, false doctrines and religions arise. There is ample demonstration of this fact in the pages of the Bible. There are even more examples in history. The modern landscape is awash with false doctrine and views. Consider the following excerpts from World magazine:

Sekhmet, with the body of a woman and the head of a lion, is the Egyptian goddess of fertility. When Texas oil heiress Genevieve Vaughan visited Egypt with her husband, she came across a statue of Sekhmet and made a vow: If the ancient fertility goddess would help her have a baby, she would build a temple in her honor. . . .”Lo and behold, I got pregnant that very month,” said Ms. Vaughan. That was 35 years ago. . . . In 1993, the temple was finally built in Nevada on 22 acres, just off Route 95, the main highway between Las Vegas and Reno. Built by an all-female construction crew . . . along with images of other goddesses, is the idol of Sekhmet, made of fiberglass. There is also a full-time priestess – Wicca-devotee and former sex therapist Patricia Pearlman – who leads weekly rituals for 20 to 30 followers.

As Christianity becomes less of a presence in the culture, the ancient pagan religions are rushing into the void. Progressives had always assumed that once Christianity faded, people would do without religion entirely. But this was naive. Without an advanced religion like Christianity, people are reverting to what came before, to nature worship, neo-animism, and primitive superstitions. 264

But, fiberglass? The idols must be disappointed not to be made of studier stuff like gold and silver!

And what of the ancient past?

Isaiah 14:12-13
12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;

Lucifer fell trying to become God. Now, he has convinced millions over the ages that they, too, can become God. All, in the end, will follow the same path. Nothing has changed.

Consider the cults and world religions we have covered in this study –

Then, consider that in 1917, William Irvine’s book, Heresies Exposed 265 , covers 24 groups. Twenty-three of those groups match groups in our study!

The, consider that in 1949, Charles S. Braden’s book, These Also Believe 266 , has 13 groups. Twelve of the thirteen groups match groups in our study!

Truly, nothing has changed. The tricks of Satan remain constant during the centuries. He has just used new people and new packaging to present the same ideas.

As I indicated in the progression chart immediately preceding this chapter, I believe Satan has used the past four-to-five hundred years to create the structure for bringing all of the false religions into a single unit. In the East, the various look-alike sects of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism have taken on some Christian traits. Jesus has now become a part of their vocabulary and teaching.

In the West, the progression has been somewhat slower.

This does not mean that Christianity is dead. Elijah, both exhilarated and exhausted from his battle with the prophets of Baal, trembled at the words of Jezebel and ran for the hills. When God questions the prophet, Elijah rehearses his accomplishments and, then, pleads his exhaustion as the only man of God left on the planet. God’s response is “nonsense!”

1 Kings 19:18
18 “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

So, too, today, you have many brothers and sisters in Christ who have not bowed to Satan. Together, you represent the remnant of God! But it is only through the power of God that you may accomplish great victory. Only God can overcome the depths of sin. But, He depends upon our help, strange as that may sound.

John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

To abide in Jesus not only means walking in devotion and obedience, it means understanding what you read in the Bible. It means knowing doctrine. As we have hopefully emphasized in this course, to know doctrine provides the basis against which you may first detect a cult, and then, win the cult member to Christianity. While in times past this task was made easier by the fact that everyone was familiar with the Bible and believed it to be from God, today in Western society, such is, sadly, not the case.

“In one of his essays William Placher comments on a time when the theological use of the Bible presupposed a deep knowledge of what the Bible says.” 267 Today, ministers, evangelists, cultists, leaders of world religion, and the man on the street may quote the Bible, but none of them have the vaguest idea of the theological meaning behind the verses they are quoting. The knowledgeable Christian cannot appeal to the Bible for support since

It is difficult to fight against such a backdrop.

C. S. Lewis uses the example of a condemned man approaching the judge, knowing the judge is in control. In other words, ancient man approached God knowing God was God. Now, man has God as the accused and man is on the bench. 268 This is the theology of modern times. Man judges God. This has profound theological implications about not only religion, but life in general. Consider the following observation about the German response to the Nazi Holocaust.

Having imbibed a humanitarian and therapeutic gospel, ordinary German civilians “knew” that basically good human beings could not do such a thing. One of the great ironies of our century must be that in the era in which more “hell on earth” has occurred than ever before, doctrines such a sin, hell, and the wrath of God have lost their meaning in the church on an unprecedented scale. 269

This is pluralism and liberalism at work in the lives of the world. All roads lead to God. But, which God?

Doctrine says the God of the Bible is transcendent, 270 sovereign, and personal, all at the same time. But as Carson acknowledges, “in the rising press of religious pluralism, this understanding of God is never allowed.” 271

Cults abound, but Satan is attempting to pull all religions in a tightening grip upon Christianity. We see it in the cults and we see it in culture. Not only do the cults fight us, but the fight is also within the churches as doctrines are watered and the New Age concept that God is love (and not much else) has moved into the pulpits of Bible believing churches. The battle lines are formed. All other religions are moving toward the center and unity. The circle is almost complete. Now Satan will strive to make the circle smaller, stamping out Christianity in the process. Take heart – Satan has already lost!

On the other hand, the battle will become more and more difficult while we remain on earth. In philosophy, three new terms have been used – exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism. We have discussed pluralism throughout. Let me close with a quote from Carson on all three. Definitions in a nutshell –

Briefly, exclusivism is the view that only those who place their faith in the Christ of the Bible are saved; inclusivism is the view that all who are saved are saved on account of the person and work of Jesus Christ, but that conscious faith in Jesus Christ is not absolutely necessary; some may be saved by him who have never heard of him, for they may respond positively to the light they have received. And pluralism is the view that all religions have the same moral and spiritual value, and offer the same potential for achieving salvation, however “salvation” be construed. 272

This is the cult of the 2000s. It is a cult which says, everyone is a member, except those who believe Jesus is the only path to salvation. But Christianity is exclusive. You are exclusive. You are a child of God. And Jesus Himself said He is the only way to God.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Matthew 11:28-30
28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and will give you rest.29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, rest for your souls.30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

And if you have not found the way to God the Father through the path offered by the Son Jesus Christ, turn the page . . .

Footnotes:
262. Taken from email Christian Quotation of the Day, cqod-owner@lists.gospelcom.net, April 24, 2000.
263. Tan, Paul Lee, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, (Garland, Texas: Bible Communications, Inc.) 1996.
264. World, Gene Edward Veith, “A God in their own Image,” May 6, 2000, 16.
265. Irvine, William C., Heresies Exposed, New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., Bible Truth Depot, 1917.
266. Braden, Charles S., These Also Believe, New York: MacMillan Company, 1949.
267. D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God, Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House, 1996, 193, citing William E. Placher, “Why Bother with Theology?” Christian Century 111/4, February 2-9, 1994, 105.
268. C. S. Lewis, Walter Hooper, ed., God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.
269. Carson, The Gagging of God, 219, quoting Kendall S. Harmon, “Correspondence,” Expository Times, Vol. 105, 1994, 247.
270. Transcendence is the attribute of God which says He is above everything. He is in heaven and we are here on earth. God is outside of time and space, while man is inside of time and space. For example, Deuteronomy 4:39: Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
271. Carson, The Gagging of God, 223. The emphasis is mine.
272. Carson, The Gagging of God, 278.
273. H.S. Vigeveno, Jesus the Revolutionary, Glendale, CA: G/L Regal Books, a division of G/L Publications, 1966, 66.

 

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