I teach theology and world religions online for Grand Canyon University, now the second largest Christian university in the world. Public debate is healthy for society. I noticed in the opinion section of Pikes Peak Courier a similar debate from 1980 that I contributed to the English issue of the Korea Times as I was learning to communicate in Korean at the start of my 25 year career in Asia in as a Southern Baptist missionary.
The editorial writers of the two newspapers showed a misunderstanding of what a sect is. “Occults” are heretical offshoots of an Eastern religion; for example Hare krishna is an occult offshoot of Hinduism.
The “sect” is part of mainstream theology that believes all key doctrines, but emphasizes a minor part of theology at the expense of major doctrines. Charis Bible College alumni are traditional Christians who emphasize physical healing.
“Worship” is a heretical offshoot of a Christian religion; For example, Mormonism is a cult derived from Christianity, not accepting five non-negotiable beliefs about Jesus. The LDS Doctrine of God states, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man can be. “The first edition of the Book of Mormon and the current edition are quite different in 3,913 separate copies” (Walter Martin, “The Kingdom of Cults,” 1985, Bethany House, Minneapolis, p. 29). Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses have retranslated John 1:1 from “the Word was God” to “the Word was a god” to deny that Jesus is truly the God of the Bible. “A syndrome of abnormal behavior operating in the mindset of most cultists causes the cultist…to build his theological system on a preconditioned and artificially induced endpoint” (“Kingdom of the Cults, p.37).
Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted that Christ would return in 1914 to take 144,000 Witnesses to heaven and end 2,520 years of Gentile times. 2,520 years began in October 607 BCE, when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the Davidic king was removed from his throne. When 1914 passed, the WATCHTOWER REVISED THEIR TEACHING that Christ returned in spirit invisibly, but not physically, and reset their calendar. Cults often predict a date for Christ’s return, after which they lose many followers when the prophecy fails.
Southwestern Seminary theology professor Dr. William Hendricks taught in an unforgettable way: “Christian Science is like nuts in grapes; it is neither. Christian Science is not science, nor Christian, because it denies the five non-negotiable truths about Jesus. Christian Science is an ingenious blend of 1st century Gnostic theology, 18th century Hegelian philosophy and 19th century idealism. …a complete separation between the objective world of physical reality and the spiritual world. Mrs. Eddy taught that “man as an idea of God is already saved by eternal salvation”. It is a cult that is “a pantheistic abstraction; life, truth, and love constitute the divine Trinitarian principles” (“Kingdom of the Cults,” 20).
When you examine a religion, ask, “What do you think of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42) Christianity has five non-negotiable beliefs about Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, who became man to redeem us; virgin birth without original sin; a sinless life, a vicarious death to defeat the penultimate enemy of man’s sin; the resurrection from the dead to defeat man’s ultimate enemy, death; the ascension to heaven to intercede for believers; victorious return to end the story and establish his kingdom.
I can work with anyone who believes in these five non-negotiable truths about Jesus, but if any of these five truths are denied, it’s a cult. All who believe these five people are theologically Christian, including the Charis Bible College community.
I thank God for Charis’ influence in Teller County. Their excellent conservative political program “Truth and Freedom” champions the biblical worldview and brings in excellent speakers to teach this biblical worldview, which 6% of Americans currently share. Charis students have started more churches in five years than others started in the previous 15 years. Charis staff member Richard Harris leads Upstream Ministries, a network of house churches. I run Neighborhood Bible Fellowship to train house church leaders, the wave of the future, because government officials can’t control us so easily.
Dr. Marcus Bachhas (“They Found a Faith,” pp.19-21) wrote, “I must become a representative of the average absentee whose heart was with me in his search. If Jehovah’s Witnesses have any heavenly indication that the world is coming to an end in 1973, we want to tell our friends about it well in advance.”…I would settle for Gamaliel’s age-old verdict, “IF this work men, it will come to nothing, but if it is of God, we cannot overthrow it” (Acts 5:38ff).
Tom Daniel is a resident of Florissant.