One man's view of theology, sports, politics, and whatever else in life that happens to interest me. A little bit about me.

Monday, March 24, 2014

How Cults are Born

This is something I wrote about three years ago. I have a few of these lying around. I will let you know when I post something that I haven't written about recently.

I try to stay out of theological debates, especially with people I don't trust. I don't feel like it's worth losing a friendship over, and I need all the friends I can get. But in the few I have been involved in, a tactic that comes up too frequently is when a person plays what he or she may think is the ultimate trump card: "No one who reads the Bible by itself would come to your conclusion." This seems to be a valid argument, but when you examine this argument more closely, it reveals a frightening lack of concern for the truth of the Christian faith.

We have a word for people who read the Bible for themselves without any guidance or help from other sources: cult leaders. Every aberrant religious system or idea since the time of the apostles has been the result of one thing: one person (or small group of people) reading the Bible for themselves. They "find" something no one else has come across, and they run with it. They do not heed the warnings of their elders or other faithful church leaders who try to correct them. They view themselves as being persecuted if they are put out of the church. This doesn't happen in every case, of course; sometimes egregious error is embraced immediately by a congregation or even denominations.

Our Christian faith was designed by God to be passed down from person to person. Ephesians 2:19-22 reminds us that we as Christ's body are a building built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Those who try to start a new building somewhere else are disobeying God's plan.

Of course we as believers have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and a major part of His work in our lives is to guide us in the truth. I am not denying that. But many times our sinful minds get ahead of God, and we may feel like God is leading us a certain way, when in fact it may be the opposite. We must always be accountable to our fellow believers and elders, and we should actively work to hold our fellow believers and elders accountable, as the Berean believers did in Acts 17:10-12.

Is it possible to create false doctrine "straight from the Bible?" Peter seems to think so. He gives his readers a solemn warning in 2 Peter 3:15-16. As he closes his epistle, he reminds his readers to remain true to the faith "as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." 

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