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Summary of Major Cults/Movements

December 26, 2008

MORMONS
1) Mormons (From their website) http://www.lds.org
-Even though you have forgotten it, you lived with Heavenly Father as a spirit before you were born.
-Your Heavenly Father knows you and loves you and wants to help you return to Him.
Jesus Christ taught that we should keep these important commandments (Matthew 5:21–37). So have prophets in our day.
– We are baptized for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16). We are also baptized to become members of the Church of Jesus Christ, and to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
Through the ordinance of baptism, we make a promise, called a covenant, with God. We promise to accept Christ, to become His followers, and to keep His commandments to the end of our lives. In return, our Heavenly Father promises to forgive our sins and let us return to live with Him, provided we keep our covenants
– The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. The same priesthood authority that existed in the original Church established by Jesus Christ exists in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today. The Church is directed and led through this authority.
All male members of the Church who are prepared receive the priesthood in order to help lead the Church and serve Heavenly Father’s children. A man with the priesthood might serve in some of the following ways:
Leading congregations of the Church
Performing the ordinances of the Church, such as baptism
Blessing those who are sick
Holy Ghost is reserved for those who have been baptized into Christ’s Church. This gift is the privilege of enjoying the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost conditional upon keeping the commandments.
How is this gift given? The gift of the Holy Ghost is given by someone who has priesthood authority from God. It is given by the laying on of hands after a person is baptized. Whether or not we receive this great gift depends on our keeping the commandments of God.
-Their order of salvation is : “The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are:
First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, repentance.
Third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.
Fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost”
Their statement on the purpose of life:
“You are a child of God.
Before you were born, you lived as a spirit with God, your Heavenly Father.
You came to Earth to learn to be more like God.
When your life on Earth is over, you can return to live with your Heavenly Father.”
Those who choose not to follow our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will receive a reward according to what they have done in this life, but they will not enjoy the glory of living in the presence of God.
But death does not need to be the end of our relationships with cherished loved ones. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that the “same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there [in eternity], only it will be coupled with eternal glory” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:2).
Restoration

The Apostle Peter prophesied of the “restitution of all things” before Christ’s Second Coming (Acts 3:19–21). Having been lost because of the Apostasy, Christ’s Church and His authority were to be restored to the earth. This Restoration would make available the opportunity for all to receive once again all of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith’s First Vision marked the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. In subsequent years, Christ restored His priesthood and reorganized His Church. He has continued to reveal truths to His prophets and to restore the blessings that were taken from the earth for a time.
On 15 May 1829, Joseph and Oliver prayed for direction concerning baptism. Their prayer was answered by a heavenly messenger. The resurrected John the Baptist appeared to them and gave them the priesthood of Aaron, or Aaronic Priesthood, which has the authority to preach the gospel of repentance and to baptize. Joseph and Oliver then baptized each other in the nearby Susquehanna River. This event marked the beginning of the restoration of the priesthood, which had been taken from the earth during the period of Apostasy.
The Apostles prophesied of the falling away or Apostasy. One example is Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3).
– Authority of Apostles

Not long after Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood, the ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John appeared to them as heavenly messengers. These Apostles gave Joseph and Oliver the greater, or Melchizedek Priesthood. This gave them the authority to organize Christ’s Church and direct the preaching of the gospel throughout the world. Christ’s ancient Apostles ordained Joseph and Oliver as Apostles and special witnesses of Christ in our day.
With this ordination, the same authority to act in God’s name that was enjoyed in Christ’s original Church was restored to the earth.
Continuing revelation – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by revelation from God to a living prophet, who receives God’s word just as Abraham, Moses, Peter, and other ancient prophets and apostles did.
When a man and woman are married in a temple, their family can be together forever.
-The Holy Bible contains accounts of His appearances to the people in the Holy Land after His Resurrection. The Book of Mormon contains accounts of His appearances to the people of the American continent after His Resurrection. In addition, Jesus Christ has appeared to modern witnesses.
– Question:
Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a Christian church?

Answer:
M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:
“There are many who say that Latter-day Saints believe in a ‘different Jesus’ than do other Christians and that we are therefore not ‘Christian.’ . . . We believe in the Jesus of the New Testament, and we believe what the New Testament teaches about Him. We do believe things about Jesus that other Christians do not believe, but that is because we know, through revelation, things about Jesus that others do not know. . . .
–    He (God) has a  body that looks like ours, but God’s body is immortal, perfected, and has a glory that words can’t describe.
-Their three main sources of teaching:
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a record of God’s dealings with the inhabitants of ancient America.
The Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the Church of Jesus Christ in the last days.
The Pearl of Great Price, a selection of revelations, translations, and writings of Joseph Smith.
SUMMARY: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The, Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, UT: (Latter-day Saints, LDS, Mormonism) Main body of Mormonism; recognizes Brigham Young as Smith’s successor. Smith claimed that the Father and Son appeared to him and called him to restore the true Church. LDS Church teaches that God the Father was once a man and was exalted to Godhood. God (and his heavenly Wife) begat billions of spirit children, the firstborn of whom was Jesus. Lucifer was the leader of God’s rebellious spirit children. Those spirits who did not rebel become human beings in order to begin process potentially leading to exaltation to Godhood. Jesus, however, became a God while only a spirit. He organized our world and is Jehovah, the God of Israel. He is a separate and subordinate God to Elohim, the Father. A distinction is made between the Holy Ghost, who is a personage of Spirit, and the Holy Spirit. The latter is a divine energy, force, or spiritual essence that fills the universe and is used by all three members of the Godhead in the exercise and accomplishment of their will. The Church rejects the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. It also redefines salvation by grace to refer simply to resurrection. Almost all humans will be resurrected into one of three kingdoms of glory, the least of which is far superior to anything known in this life. Entry into the higher kingdoms, and one’s rank there, depends not only upon the atonement of Christ, but also upon one’s good works. Achievement of the highest potential within the highest kingdom—Godhood—requires complete “obedience to all the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” The Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants are all considered scripture.
God – He was previously a man in a previous existence. Was exalted to Godhood and given his own universe. NO Trinity! He has literal flesh and bones! The Holy Ghost (not the same as the Holy Spirit!), Jesus Christ, “Heavenly Father” are 3 distinct gods. “Heavenly Father” begat spiritual children (preexistence) including Jesus and Satan (they are brothers!). [Cf. John 4:24/ Deut. 6:4 –there is only One God. They are really pantheistic, meaning many gods!]
Jesus Christ – Literally, God’s son/child. He is like us but only different in degree, which through eternity we can become just like him. Jesus has eternal life because he earned it!
Man – Basically, God in embryo form. Pre-existent soul. Will be deified and eventually have own ‘universe’ to rule like “Heavenly Father” and Jesus Christ.
Sin – All have eternal life, but only the faithful Mormons will attain to godhood. Jesus died in order to give us ‘salvation’ to be resurrected.
Salvation – The church disappeared/fell away until the restoration w/ the prophet Joseph Smith. [CF. Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.] Faith plus works. [cf. Eph. 2:8-10 we do works be/c we’re saved not in order to be saved.]
Scripture – Book of Mormon, Doctrines & Covenants, Pear of Great Price, use KJV of Bible  (so far as it is translated correctly, they say) [CF. Rev. 22- canon is closed!]
Show how Jesus is Jehovah (which they believe) and then show how Jehovah is also Elohim. They make a distinction between Jehovah and Elohim.
There is not one shred of archaeological evidence for the claims of Mormonism. Of all the elaborate cities, coinage, metals (there were none used prior to 1492 in America by the Natives), etc. there is a complete absence of archaeological evidence to sustain their claims. Even the Smithsonian institute will not use the Book of Mormon as a guide in looking for American antiquities. However, they (the Smith. Inst.) do use the Bible in archaeological hunts in Biblical lands.
Three main witnesses to Joseph Smith and the visions (Key leaders in the beginning stages of Mormonism – Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris) later all left the Mormon church. This is equivalent to Paul, Peter, and James leaving the Christian faith!
Contrary to Mormon teaching, we are all priests, not just a select few and Christ is the high priest. (1 Peter 2:9/ Hebrews 3:1)
Jesus is God ; John 20:28 “My Lord, and my God.” John 8:48 – Jesus claimed to be Jehovah!
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
2) Jehovah’s Witnesses – (from their website) http://www.watchtower.org
-What, though, is the holy spirit? It is not a person like God. Rather, it is God’s active force.—Psalm 104:30.
-He (Jesus) was God’s first creation, and so he is called the “firstborn” Son of God. (Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14) Jesus is the only Son that God created by himself.
Jehovah has also selected some faithful men and women from the earth to go to heaven. They will rule with Jesus as kings, judges, and priests over mankind. (Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:9, 10) Jesus called these corulers in his Kingdom a “little flock.” They number 144,000.—Luke 12:32; Revelation 14:1-3.
Trinity: Is Jehovah a Trinity—three persons in one God? No! Jehovah, the Father, is “the only true God.” (John 17:3; Mark 12:29) Jesus is His firstborn Son, and he is subject to God. (1 Corinthians 11:3) The Father is greater than the Son. (John 14:28) The holy spirit is not a person; it is God’s active force.—Genesis 1:2; Acts 2:18.
The human soul ceases to exist at death
Only a little flock of 144,000 go to heaven and rule with Christ. The 144,000 are born again as spiritual sons of God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses:  The Watchtower Society predicted that Armageddon would occur in 1914.  They now teach that Jesus Christ returned invisibly in 1914.  They also predicted that Abraham and others would be resurrected in 1925, and that Armageddon would occur in 1941 and 1975 (they deny the 1975 prediction).  They also predicted that Armageddon would occur with the “generation of 1914.”  They now say that “generation” is a figurative term for anyone who can understand the significance of 1914.
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Charles Taze Russell, Brooklyn, NY: Satan is the originator of the idea of the Trinity. The Father is the supreme God whose real name is Jehovah. Jesus is a created being known originally as Michael the Archangel; he is “a god,” not Jehovah. Jesus only rose spiritually, not bodily, from the dead. The Holy Spirit is the impersonal active force of God. Only the anointed class (or little flock) numbering 144,000 will go to heaven, while faithful “other sheep” will live eternally on a paradise earth; the lost will cease to exist (annihilationism). Publishes the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (their own version of the Bible), as well as numerous books. Originally called International Bible Students, followers today are called Jehovah’s Witnesses.
God –Denies trinity/ Holy Spirit is a force, not a person
Jesus Christ- God created Him directly. Spent ages w/ God before incarnation. His name is also Michael. Became Messiah at baptism. Rose spiritually, not physically.
Man –2 classes of saved people- 144,000 will be in heaven, others live on earth
End Times – strong focus on end time events
Salvation – works, membership, baptism,
Scriptures – New World Translation be/c it accurately reflects the best translation of the original languages. [cf. it actually reflects JW biases] Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is Jehovah’s source of authority for guarding against all errors. [key may be showing how Tract and Society have been wrong in prophecies, cover-ups, etc.]
-Show how Jesus is Jehovah and prove the trinity from Scripture. The Holy Spirit is only an active force, not a divine person.
_They espouse a works salvation. Live for Jehovah. Personal faith and repentance through Christ are not required.
-Jehovah is the German translation for YHWH (which is the real Hebrew name for God). -They teach in a postmortem opportunity for salvation. Contrary to Hebrews 9:27 -“Do they believe that they are the only ones who will be saved?
No. Millions that have lived in centuries past and who were not Jehovah’s Witnesses will come back in a resurrection and have an opportunity for life. Many now living may yet take a stand for truth and righteousness before the “great tribulation,” and they will gain salvation.”
-according to Deut. 18 one can be judged to be a true prophet only if what he predicts comes to pass every time…The watchtower society has great disappointments as far as predicting Christ’s return in 1917, 1918, and 1925.
-Christ supposedly came in 1874. ISLAM
Islam, Muhammad: Based on the teachings and life of Muhammad (570-632 AD) in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia (then Persia). Islam is the second largest world religion, and has recently become the third largest religious body in America with over 6 million adherents. Muslim-based sects such as the Nation of Islam (which appeals especially to African-Americans) and Bahá’í (which proclaims the unity of the human race) have special appeal to many Americans. Islam is composed of two major divisions — the mainstream Sunni (the largest) and the more radical Shi’ites. The mystical tradition of Sufism includes many Sunnis and some Shi’ites. The Arabic word Islam means “submission to the will of God” and a person who submits is called a Muslim. The Qur’an (or, Koran), the Torah, the Psalms of the Old Testament, and the Gospel of the New Testament are regarded as holy books. However, only the Qur’an is considered uncorrupted. Islam rejects the Trinity doctrine, the deity of Christ and His Sonship, claiming that Jesus was only a great prophet. Muhammad is considered to be the greatest prophet, whose coming was allegedly predicted by Christ. Islam adheres fiercely to monotheism. In addition to good works, salvation is sought though observance of the Five Pillars: reciting “there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger,” praying five times per day, fasting, giving alms (donations to the poor), and a pilgrimage to Mecca. Historically, Islam experienced tremendous growth often by forced proselytism — unbelievers (infidels) were offered conversion or death. While many Muslims exhibit tolerance towards other faiths, even today Islamic fundamentalism promotes jihad (holy war), against those of other religious and political views.
New Age – Generally the New Age borrows its theology from pantheistic Eastern religions and its practices from 19th century Western occultism. The term “New Age” is used herein as an umbrella term to describe organizations which seem to exhibit one or more of the following beliefs: (1) All is one, all reality is part of the whole; (2) Everything is God and God is everything; (3) Man is God or a part of God; (4) Man never dies, but continues to live through reincarnation; (5) Man can create his own reality and/or values through transformed consciousness or altered states of consciousness.
The Roots of the New Age
HINDUISM
Hinduism is a pantheistic religion which teaches, despite its plurality of gods, that all beings have within them the atman, or universal soul. The atman can merge with Brahma, the impersonal absolute that is the infinite of which all are a part.
Life is governed by the law of karma, the law of cause-and-effect which holds that all negative actions must be remedied through subsequent good actions. Because one lifetime is never sufficient for eradicating the residual bad karma that remains at death, beings are reincarnated until they achieve moksa and are released from the cycles of karma and rebirth.
BUDDHISM
Buddhism is a pantheistic religion that developed as a reform of Hinduism. While maintaining teachings that are similar to the Hindu understanding of Brahma, karma, and rebirth or reincarnation, Buddhism emphasizes a very different type of mysticism.
Buddhists believe that life consists of suffering brought on by selfish desire. Selfish desire is overcome by following the Eightfold Path, which includes correct mindfulness (an awareness that all is one) and correct meditation.
TAOISM
Taoism teaches that the tao, a life-giving energy that exists in all things. Part of the tao are the yin and yang, elements of light and dark (or good and evil) that are present in all beings. These elements, rather than existing as opposites or absolutes, exist in a universal harmony. Furthermore, because all things continually change, yin can become yang, and vice versa. Thus, the central focus of life is to recognize the continually evolving harmony of the universe.
GNOSTICISM
The Gnostics were a heretical offshoot of Christianity in the first and second centuries who taught that humans have a divine spark within them that, when properly nourished through increased knowledge or gnosis, can be ignited and leads the individual into union with the divine.
The New Age typically follows those Gnostics who believed that Jesus, rather than being the unique Messiah and God, was a normal man who became a Christ and taught his disciples the esoteric knowledge needed to unite with the divine (it should be noted that many Gnostics believed that Jesus was a god, but not the God of the Old Testament).

HomoSexuality and related issues – “conservatives are losing the same-sex marriage debate because the culture will eventually buy the argument that this is about civil rights, not about morality”
Boot points to a desensitization of the culture on issues of homosexuality in general. Once newspapers began carrying homosexual wedding announcements and television began featuring a plethora of homosexual characters, the homosexual lifestyle became mainstreamed and thus accepted.

the tragedy of AIDS also transformed homosexuals into a victim group, and public sympathy quickly followed.
In a day of rampant moral relativism and social experimentation, Americans have been engaged in a free-for-all exercise in cultural revolution. But when the experiment is directed at marriage, the fallout is sure to be uniquely tragic. The legalization and cultural acceptance of same-sex marriage will mean, ultimately, the destruction of marriage itself. Without a coherent vision of marriage, the entire society will eventually find itself completely unable to regulate sexual behavior or personal relationships.
Many believe unlikely that legalizing gay marriage will make not much difference to the lives of most people
Buddhism: World religion based on the spiritual teachings of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. There are a number of versions or sects of Buddhism generally teaching paths to Nirvana (enlightenment or bliss) though the four noble truths (recognizing existence and source of suffering) and the eightfold path (correct understanding, behavior and meditation).
Hinduism: The major world religion that originated from the ancient religions of India, which originally embraced polytheism. As a more unified world religion, Hinduism teaches pantheism; the ancient gods (especially the triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) are commonly interpreted as representations of the various aspects of the divine (Brahman). Human beings progress to the ultimate realization of their oneness with Brahman (often called Nirvana) through reincarnation according to the law of karma. Some of the concepts of Hinduism are incorporated, modified, and expanded upon in the New Age Movement.
Roman Catholicism – As a whole, however, the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are still seen most clearly in the issues of the Reformation. The 16th century reformers distinguished themselves from Catholicism in two key ways. First, they saw the Bible as the sole foundation for authority (sola scriptura) rather than the Pope, church dogma or tradition. Second, the reformers taught salvation by “grace alone” (sola gracia). They also insisted that sola gracia could be faithfully maintained only by understanding the gospel to be the message of a free pardon and righteous standing with God through “faith alone” (sola fide) in the imputed righteousness of Christ. The Roman Catholic Church claimed (and still claims) to affirm sola gracia, but anathematized (cursed) sola fide (solely by faith), teaching instead that grace is received and maintained by a combination of faith plus works (religious rites, sacraments, or human endeavor). Atheism: The assertion, to be taken on faith, that there is no God. Implicit in their claim is that they are omniscient (all-knowing) because they apparently know throughout the entire universe through all possible means (visible and invisible) that no god is hiding anywhere out there!! Scripture, despite how ardent they may be about saying there is no god, says they KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is One God (Romans 1f)!! We will listen to their claims or believe what God’s word has said about their hearts?!
Agnosticism: The claim (denied by Romans 1:18–20) that one has no knowledge of God or the origin of the universe. Some agnostics make the claim on a personal level, while allowing that such knowledge may exist but has never been known by themselves. Others assert that such knowledge cannot be had by anyone. Agnostics avoid the charge of dogmatic atheism by acknowledging the theoretical possibility of God’s existence. Yet virtually all live as if the non-existence of God was an established fact, and are thus practical atheists.
Federal Marriage Amendment – The Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which would define marriage in the Constitution as “only of the union of a man and a woman,” was introduced into the House on May 15. The two-sentence amendment (H.J. 93), drafted last year by the Alliance for Marriage, states that marriage is an exclusively male-female union. If the amendment becomes law, it would restrict state legislatures from using the word marriage to describe same-sex relationships. It would also disable courts from recognizing any same-sex marriage or determining the allocation of marital benefits. Under the FMA, the authority to decide on marital benefits would remain with each state. Many conservative groups favor a constitutional amendment defining marriage but say the FMA’s definition is too weak. They complain that the amendment still allows state legislatures to extend marital privileges to same-sex relationships and recognize homosexual unions. FMA supporters say that an amendment granting complete protection from the state legislatures would never make it into the Constitution. Instead, the Alliance for Marriage drafted the FMA to focus on stopping the courts from determining marital status or benefits. Gay groups take the marriage issue out of the hands of the people and to the courts,” he says. “This is why we need the Federal Marriage Amendment. If you take it to the people, we win. If you take it to the courts, the gay activists win.” In order for the proposed amendment to become law, it must first be approved by two-thirds of both the House and the Senate and then ratified by three-quarters of the states. What would the FMA do? The FMA protects marriage from redefinition by legislatures and the courts, both state and federal. It would also prevent the courts from giving away the legal benefits of marriage to homosexual couples. State legislatures would retain their power, as the U.S. Constitution prescribes, to make decisions on matters of family law including the legal status of non-marital relationships and benefits. Most importantly, FMA would take the precious institution of marriage out of the hands of judges, many of them unelected, and return it to the American people. Why is the FMA necessary now ? Recently, there has been a serious and coordinated movement to change the definition of marriage through an activist judicial system. Because homosexual activists learned they could not redefine marriage through legislatures accountable to the people, they began using the courts to impose their agenda.Marriage must be defined nationally. As President of Liberty Counsel Mathew Staver has said, “Whether imposed judicially or otherwise, marriage, in whatever form, will be, and always has been, national.” The only question is who will define it. It will either be the American people, acting through their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment, or homosexual activists and rogue judges through the courts. How does someone’s homosexual “marriage” threaten the rest of us? Marriage would become merely an emotional relationship that is flexible enough to include any grouping of loving adults. If it is fair for two men or two women to marry, why not three, or five, or 17? Polygamy and group marriage would be virtually impossible to prevent.
Parenthood would consist of any number of emotionally attached people who care for kids. “Mother” and “father” would become only words. Gender would become nothing. The same-sex proposition cannot tolerate the idea that any real, deep and necessary differences exist between the sexes. If real differences did exist, men would need women and women would need men. Our children would learn that sexual differences are like mere personality types.
Postmodernism – “Truth is constructed; not universal”. “What may be true and good for you, may not be true and good for me.’” EX. “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life for the Christian but not for me.” Philosophy has left the search for truth (be/c it does it believe there are absolutes) and has become more pragmatic and therapeutic.
Basic Tenets: 1) Objective truth/knowledge is denied. 2) Knowledge is uncertain 3) All meta-narratives (ultimate stories of meaning- Eg. The bible tells purpose, etc) are to be abandoned in favor of mini=narratives (what has been personally experienced, believed) 4) Truth is subjective and what you want it to be.

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