In the following sections, we will briefly compare biblical Christian faith with the major false religions of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Also included is a brief summary comparing Christianity with less renowned false religions and cults. The size limitation of this magazine prevents us from giving every detail about each false religion. However, a brief history of each religion, with its significant doctrines and systems of belief, will be outlined in order to show the clear contrast between true biblical Christianity and false religions and cults.
Among false religions, there is a sub-classification known as cults. What differentiates cults from the major false religions is that cults will frequently claim to be Christian. Their doctrines may appear similar to biblical Christian doctrines, but they actually differ in significant and dangerous ways. Involvement with cults actually leads people away from a true, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Though this section is not a complete study of every cult group, we will examine the common characteristics and beliefs that define most cults.
- Cults twist Bible passages or Christian terms and give them a radically different meaning. Teachings about Who God is and what Christ accomplished for mankind are distorted from their true biblical meaning in order to suit the purposes of the cult or its leader(s). Biblical terms like faith, salvation, healing, sin and heaven is given definitions that are completely different from what the Bible actually teaches about them. This is one reason why it is essential to be thoroughly familiar with the Bible and the truth about the doctrines of Christianity, so that you will not be led astray by ‘‘every wind of [false] doctrine” (Eph 4:14).
For instance, in Mormonism (a cult also known as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”) it is claimed that a person can be saved by “faith in Christ”. Though that sounds similar to genuine Christian doctrine, it means something very different in Mormonism. Mormons teach that all people have received a “general salvation” from Adams original sin through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; however, once all people are resurrected, they will be judged according to their works. According to Mormon teaching, these works – and NOT faith in Christ – are what will allow a person to be forgiven of his personal sins and saved.
Among the eight works Mormons consider necessary for salvation are: membership in the Mormon Church; doing work in Mormon temples; belief in Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism) as God’s prophet. Without these works, the Mormons teach, a person will not be forgiven or saved on Judgment Day. This is, of course, COMPLETELY FALSE and contradicts what the Bible teaches about salvation.
Thus, even though Mormons use biblical phraseology, they apply a very different meaning to the words than what the Bible actually teaches. One of the purposes of this distortion is to deceive poorly trained or immature Christians into joining Mormon churches and performing works that will promote the Mormon cult.
The Mormon “church” – like many other cults – portrays itself as a Bible-believing, truly Christian church, but does not believe, teach or practice true biblical doctrines. Mormon teaching – and the teaching of other false religions and cults – leads people away from a genuine salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, and enslaves them to the deception of “salvation by works”.
- Cults reject the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, which affirms that God is One Being in essence, yet composed of three co-eternal, co-equal Persons. Specifically, cults (and all false religions) reject the biblical doctrine that Jesus Christ is God. Cults may acknowledge Jesus as a “moral man”, a “great teacher”, a “prophet”, or a person so good that He earned his way to “godhood”. But cults and false religion s do NOT recognize or accept Jesus Christ as God “taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7). They attempt to either bring Christ down to the level of men, or raise men up to the level of Christ. Some cults say Jesus Christ was just a gifted man; other cults teach that all men can become “gods” like Christ if they do enough good works. All cults and false religions deny that Jesus Christ was and is truly God. [Read “Exposing the Spirit of the Antichrist” for more detailed information.]
- Cults deny that man can be saved by faith in Christ alone. Cults teach “salvation by works” to their followers. This counterfeit form of “salvation” is based on obedience to that particular cult’s doctrines and requirements for membership. This allows the cult to control the behavior of its members – intimidating those who do not perform as required with the threat of loss of salvation.
Oftentimes, cult members are required to do things that the Bible does NOT teach – even things that the Bible forbids – in order to be “saved”. These can include: giving the cult leader all your money or possessions; performing immoral sexual acts with cult leaders or members; swearing secret blood oaths; rejecting basic medical attention for you or your children; marrying only those whom the cult leader appoints; being baptized on behalf of dead ancestors.