Those willing to tarnish

People should be very careful before calling a group a cult or a sect, certainly because in several countries (like Belgium) this would have very serious implications and would bring them under criminal law.

In Belgium and the countries around it, a group being called a cult or a sect shall be looked at as a group where people are following a (cult or sect-) leader who has everything in control, and shall have that group not sanctioned to be a ‘religion’ but considered as a possible treat being a group identity under law, going against the human rights of freedom.

A lot of counter-cult movement (CCM) or discernment ministries do like to go against anyone who is not thinking as they are, and do their utmost best to spread several untruths, not to say lies, about other religious groups, often without knowing much about them. The CMM are mostly composed primarily of conservative and fundamentalist Protestant Christian individuals, agencies, and para-church groups who attempt anything to bring other religious groups in discredit. They use anything what gets in their hands to bring a smudge or smear on those other groups. They like to be recognised as true Christians, though do not have the attitude of love Christ wanted his followers to have. As heresy hunters or heresiologists  they use everything on their way to bring a smirch on the other to damage that group with other ideas.

People too often forget that when we speak about a cult and/or a sect we should look at a group were a human leader (other than Jesus Christ) is followed and where that specific man or woman has the highest level of control. The followers in such a group are mostly convinced their leader is right, wise, their umbrella of protection, and more importantly for the religious groups, is the one bringing over God’s will. In certain cases the amount of control goes very far. The level of control the pastor/leader has over the individual lives of the people in such a cultist church goes very deep. They often control also the personal life, like who the people of their congregation dates, what kind of clothes they have to wear, what authorized hairstyles they could wear, some even dare to go as far as to have their say in their underwear. Often in such groups individuality and personal freedoms are shunned, and most especially, pride and individual opinion.

Too often people forget that in a sect it is all about censorship and control mechanism.

Perhaps it is that control mechanism which allows many to think about the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) that they would be a sect. But than they should consider all the assets of that group and should see that it is not at all easy to enter it, but very easy to get out of it. One just has to say one slept with some one or was guilty of some fornication to be put out of the group. The JW’s also do not have to bring in some money in to the organisation (like a lot of Roman Catholic monasteries demand) or are not obliged to give money every time at the services (like there is a collection in Catholic and Protestant worship services).

Ukrainian stamp, commemorating 60 years of European Convention on Human Rights

In the European Union the freedom of each individual is important and in a way sanctified. In the the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) the freedom of speech is embodied in two articles. Those who claim others to be a cult or sect because they do not think according to their ideas do forget Article 9 ECHR which claims that everyone has the right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” and that this

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1949)—Article 19 states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”

“includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

By calling the other groups names and by telling lies about them those attackers of other religious groups are going against Article 10 ECHR which states that

“everyone has the right to freedom of expression

and

“this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

Going against the freedom of speech those anti-groups are going against the civil law and commit an offence by showing their disgust for the twofold liberty: the freedom of thought and the freedom to express your thoughts.

Hell – detail from a fresco in the medieval church of St Nicholas in Raduil, Bulgaria

Many of those who call others sects or cults, they themselves create a cult-group around their personality or church, making their followers afraid of hell (by which they mean an abode, usually beneath the earth, of the unredeemed dead or the spirits of the damned where people get tortured by a continues fire).
Counter-cult movement ministries (CCM) also often tell others not to reason in the mind but just to obey in the Spirit, which they themself can explain best. They also tell their members it is Satan (a devilish person and prince of evil spirits who is the adversary of God) who shall be around to attempt to fill the minds of those who do not want to listen to them, with fear, anger, depression and all sorts of diseases. What they do not see is that they themselves are the satan, or adversary of God, often using a language God would not like to hear. Instead of concentrating to spread the Good News and the love Jesus showed for those around him, they want to spread discontent and hate.

It is also known that proponents of “cult specific counselling” often appear to be creating a money making niche. Such attitudes can create dependency upon a specific counselling approach which may not be necessary or useful.

It is known that several societies drive on religious values and ethics. They take religion as a tool for either good or bad, depending on the intentions behind the movement. For certain people, calling themselves pastors and a “man of God”,  religion is nothing more than a ploy to get money. They would do everything to get their mega-church growing, in a clever way trick off money from poorer people. In many groups preaching against non-trinitarians we find people who do not mind to take advantage of people’s hopes and fears to convince them to convert to their religious group. At the same time there are real sects which have then leaders who manage to bring people as far to end their life and that of their children. That are the real cults and sects the world should be afraid of.

We may consider religious and/or spiritual practices being the blueprint for most people’s ethical and moral values. And when looking at the different religious groups one should check in which way they live like they preach. That way one can find a lot of religious groups who do not fit the right etiquette of what one would expect from a Christian community, or for real followers of Jesus Christ.

To know if one group is a cult and/or a sect one should examine the teachings and behaviour of the people in that group. When you would notice absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability you should worry. When there is paranoia in the group that would be another reason to worry. Those who work heavy against non-trinitarians all have in common that they might try an aggressive tactic of blackening the other group and use that aggressive tactic for recruitment, saying that members who join can be “saved”.  Often they promote their church as the “only one church” one can be saved by.  Seemingly they do forget that salvation is by Christ, and not by one specific religious group.

Those CCM ministries most of the time fighting against cults, act as sects themselves, having their leaders trying to shame members for their shortcomings, and offering themselves as the remedy. When reading their many articles on the net we have the impression they are against a lot of main and small churches and we can not undo of the impression that their followers are pressed never to feel they to be “good enough”.

The people in charge of those anti-cult movements very often use a horrible language and place themselves above the law and do not operate on the code of conduct or set of rules. Ethics and Christian values are often hard to find in those group-leaders.

It should be noted many mainstream Christian groups in particular use the word “cult” freely to describe any group with what they consider to be the non conventional Christian beliefs, particularly any group which denies the Trinity, but people should clearly make a difference between a smaller and different denomination as well come to see if the group would fall under the description of a cult or under a sect, or be just a smaller Christian denominational religious active group.

People should know that throughout the ages several religious people wanted to base their faith on the Bible. One could say that

“In this sense it also reveals one of the flaws of the Protestant idea of “the Bible alone” and independence of thought. It has created thousands of churches all claiming the same basis but different interpretations and the historical idea has been it took a very unusual, exceptionally independent minded man to get to the real saving truths. {What exactly is a Cult? -Some Meaningful Definitions}

The Roman Catholic Church has always been the greatest group to call other thinkers “false teachers” and to move to impose censorship. In 1501 Pope Alexander VI went as far issuing a Bill against the unlicensed printing of books. The 1559 Index Expurgatorius, or List of Prohibited Books, presumed to be in authority over private thoughts and opinions, and suppressed views that went against its doctrines. It was administered by the Roman Inquisition, but enforced by local government authorities, and went through 300 editions.

Lollards, Waldensians, Anabaptists, Baptists, Arminianists, and other people who followed Jesus his teaching about only One God and as such were considered belonging to Unitarianism formed the greatest treat for that Roman Catholic church. But later those who also were persecuted by the Roman Catholic church as heretics, like the Lutherans, Calvinists within the Reformed tradition separated into specific subgroups, which at first were considered “cults” or “false teachers” like the Continental Reformed, Presbyterians, Congregationalist(s) and a variety of English dissenters, including the Puritans, though some of those groups now have become traditional churches. Funny enough some of them doing now the same as the Catholic church with them  in their first years of existence.

Today it are several protestants who love to bring out a list of “heretic” churches and would love a similar action against those “false teachers” as we have seen in the earlier centuries taken by the Catholics against the Protestants.

Some of the writers against other denominations do agree lots of denominations walk after human doctrines, though they themselves do not want to agree on what God says in the Bible and present their own teachings as the only valid ones, above Bible verses non-trinitarians present them as proof of the biblical sayings.

Some of the angry men against other religious groups do recognise the Bible doesn’t need any new things as it stands on its own quite well as it is, but resist to accept the words like they are written in the Book of books. They fight against groups, like the Christadelphians, Church of God, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other non-trinitarian groups and religious people, who keep to the teachings of the Bible and feel part of the body of Christ, which is for them the true Church. They might say

The Bible needs no additives or Corrections. The body of Christ has no connection to the Athenian Church. So why should you? {The Athenian Church Denomination}

So, why do they trample on so many feet? For the aggressive priggish writer Dave Norris, for example, every church, excepts his own seems to be a cult and a false religious group. Him and other counter-cult movement preachers are rebellious and stubborn to the word of God though often they themselves say a person doing so is in sin, but would consider themselves as the holy one to follow. Even the Catholics, Pentecostals, Bethel ChurchHebrew Roots Movement, just to name a few, can not escape the perky pedantical voice of Dave Norris.

He thinks a religious group can control people by telling them that Jesus is the son of God and not a ‘god son’. This would be a very easy way to have control. He seems to forget that it is God the Father Himself Who declared Jesus to be His only begotten beloved son. But Dave Norris seemingly does not want to accept this Word of God, telling at more than one place in the bible considering the position of this sent one and authorised one from Him.

He thinks himself so clever to know everything better than the organisations he speaks about. He even wanted his readers to convince that a person we would be following founded our faith-group even before that so called founder was born. He also writes

The creation of Belgian Bible students and Christadelphians came by way of the Commandments of men known as Arians and Socinians.{Socinianism, Arianism Created Christadelphians}

whilst we (Belgian Biblestudents) and the Christadelphians, do follow the words of the Bible and not of any individual, except Jesus whom we take as our leader and Messiah.

He ignores the words Jesus offers us, to know his position and says that those who follow those words

don’t abide in the doctrine of Christ they don’t have God either. You see this Doctrine wasn’t Christ’s to begin with as it came from his Father. {Socinianism, Arianism Created Christadelphians}

Which lets us wonder if he believes Christ was sent by his Father and would have spoken the words His Father wanted. Naturally in his idea, Jesus being God, Jesus would always have spoken the words of God.

Though when Jesus is God for Dave Norris, his god is not an all-knowing god, like our God is.  According to us God is an eternal all-knowing loving God Who never tells lies. But either the god of Dave Norris is not all knowing or is a god who does not want to tell the truth, because Jesus had to learn everything and at the end of his life could even not tell who would be seated next to him in the Kingdom of God and could not, or did not want to, tell when the end-times would come. According to us when knowing such an important date and not wanting to tell it, this does not present what one would expect from an all-knowing loving God.

Looking at the church according many it all started and still claims to be the only true church.
Roman or Orthodox Catholic church the True Church according D. Norris
D Norris exposing Roman Catholic error – finding Mormons on the Satanic aspect of the Roman Church correct

Those fighting non-trinitarians should look closer to the teachings of those groups and compare with what is written in the Scriptures. Those fighting against these non-trinitarian groups should know that even when for them Christianity is the one true religion, every person in the world should have the freedom to have any other religion of have deviant thoughts.
Bible Students, Christadelphians, Nazarene Friends and many other non-trinitarian groups believe what Jesus said about himself. For them Jesus said that he is the way to the Father (John 14:6). They want to follow that sent one from God who revealed the Father (Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22). As true followers of Christ Jesus or Jeshuaists, they are true Christians they who may be hurt by what others say about them, but do put their narrow-minded sayings aside, because they live in hope, trusting Jesus shall return to judge the living and the dead, and giving to those who lived according the wishes of God, instead of following human doctrines, the possibility to enter the Kingdom of God.
By that positive note we wish more people would come to see clear what is important and whom we have to follow (Jeshua = Jesus) and not (so much) what (a church).

According to David Barrett and team, there are 19 major world religious groupings in the world which are subdivided into a total of about 10,000 distinct religions. Of the latter, there were 270 religions and para-religions which had over a half million adherents in the year 2000 CE. Within Christendom and Christianity, they have identified 34,000 separate groups (denominations, sects, individual unaffiliated churches, para-church groups, etc) in the world.

Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations.

But being small does not have to mean being a cult or being a sect or being wrong, or being worthless.

People should always also remember that it is God Who calls His people and decide which path they may or shall run. Each individual may be at a certain age an other point in his life than an other person, but  in the end it is most important that they find God and come to worship Him as their God.

A church is only just a means and/or a possible helpline for finding the right way.

+

 

Preceding

Are the Christadelphians a Cult?

Not according to legal description of a cult

++

Additional reading

  1. Ideas about Religiosity
  2. When there is secrecy involved
  3. Some one or something to fear #3 Cases, folks and outing
  4. Those who call the Christadelphians a cult
  5. What Christadelphians believe
  6. About Brothers in Christ
  7. What are Brothers in Christ
  8. What Christadelphians teach
  9. A small company of Jesus’ footstep follower
  10. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  11. Being a follower of the true Jesus or as a Christadelphian being a Jeshuaist
  12. Hardships for choosing to follow the real Christ
  13. Christianity is a love affair
  14. Lovers of God, seekers and lovers of truth
  15. The Law of Christ: Law of Love
  16. Agape, a love to share with others from the Fruit of the Spirit
  17. The Greatest of These is Love
  18. Unconditional love
  19. Compassion and Discipline
  20. Integrity of the fellowship
  21. Fellowship
  22. Some one or something to fear #3 Cases, folks and outing
  23. Denominationalism exists because?
  24. Different wineskins
  25. The Development of Differences
  26. One Bible, many Churches
  27. Place for a fifth and sixth house in Christendom
  28. Dave Norris and his writings on the Belgian Bible Students
  29. An attitude taken to those who attack us and other unitarians
  30. The sent one from God
  31. The Nazarene master teacher learning people how they should behave
  32. The untiring response of some Christadelphians
  33. Belonging to or being judged by
  34. Looking for a biblically sound church

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Related articles

  1. A Cult?!?
  2. Cult…
  3. SectHistorical Church Series -The Early Heretics: Introduction
  4. How Can People Speak About Something They Know Nothing About?!?
  5. Q17: Sects and conflicts
  6. Cults on the rise in social media
  7. Same God – Different People
  8. Cults and sects – Christadelphians [703]
  9. How Cults Control YOU?
  10. Cults and sect – World Wide Church of God, Herbert Armstrong [706]
  11. When Control Sets In – An Excerpt from my Book
  12. Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006
  13. Liberty-human-rights – article 10 – freedom of expression
  14. Taking offence and freedom of speech
  15. Why are Cults so Dangerous?
  16. Mind Control Cults
  17. The Mathematics of Apostasy
  18. Freedom Of Speech And Expression inclusive Importance Of Freedom Of Speech And Expression
  19. Freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of assembly and petition
  20. The Paradox of Liberty: the Freedom of speech (re)considered
  21. Rebuttal to an Article by Open Minds
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