The Jordan River
The Wailing Wall
Sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane
The Chaos of Cults a Study in Present Day Isms by Jan Karel Van Baalen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My edition of this book was published in 1953. Baalen's writing style is a bit quaint, and can also be a little confusing when he speaks from the first person when describing the traits and doctrines of the various groups.
Baalen devotes 11 chapters to as many different cults, going into their history, founders, dogma and how they deviate from Christianity.
In the first chapter, Baalen defines the term, "cult". He explains that they are religious groups who claim to belong to the Christian religion while denying Christianity's essential beliefs. This excludes other world religions that make no pretense to being Christian, such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam or any other non-Christian belief system, for that matter, although he does include certain groups that claim to embrace all belief systems, such as Bahai and Unitarian/Universalist groups.
What are Christianity's essential beliefs? The divinity of Christ, his sinless life, death and resurrection, the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, salvation through faith, not works, works produced by faith, not vice versa; the inerrant, inspired word of God: the Bible. These are the essentials. Non-essentials can characterize various Christian denominations, but these essentials are non-negotiable.
After the first chapter, he then devotes the next eleven chapters to religious groups that claim to belong to the Christian religion. He describes each one, how specifically they deviate and why their doctrine is false.
These chapters include: Spiritism, Theosophy, and the Liberal Catholic Church; Rosicrucianism; Christian Science; The Unity School of Christianity: Baha'ism; Mormonism; Destiny of America; Seventh-Day Adventism; Jehovah's Witnesses; Buchmanism; and Unitarianism/Modernism.
I looked up some of the names I was not familiar with to see if they were still active. Buchmanism, also known as the Oxford group and, since 2001, Initiatives of Change is still around. Buchman was pro-Hitler because Hitler was anti-communism, because he equated communism with the anti-Christ.
Destiny of America is today known as British Israelism and was continued in American by Herbert Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God. This cult believes that the Anglos of England are the lost tribe of Israel.
The other groups still exist, although I'm not sure that Seventh-Day Adventism is still considered a cult. However, there are certain sects that have branched off Seventh Day Adventism that are legalistic and believe that not observing Saturday as the Sabbath will incur the wrath of God.
The chapter I found the most significant was : Unitarianism/Modernism because this cult has infiltrated most mainstream Protestant denominations where the Gospel of the Bible has been watered down to a "feel good about yourself and try to make good life choices" philosophy.
Even though the book is dated and has a stilted writing style, I found it informative and interesting.
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