House Church Talk - Cults and other illusions

jim sutton goodword at
Sat Aug 7 10:14:53 EDT 2004

Cults are always out there.  And they always do well in recruiting people, it 

But are cults the real problem?  Is drug abuse the real problem?  Is corrupt 
leadership the real problem facing believers today?  Is doctrinal perfection 
and purity the real answer?  Or is the whole idea of church perfection, and 
absolute purity in all doctrines, beliefs, and practices part of the problem?

I guess I see things differently than many in the church -- the body of Christ 
-- today.

It's common in civilized societies to have various kinds of religious wars and 
conflicts and competitions.  "My religion is better than your religion," 
someone might say.  Or, "My religion is right and yours is all wrong."

My question: What good is any religion at all, if that's all we have?

Is there a religion that gives us eternal life?  Is there a religion that 
makes us right with God?  Does it really matter to God that the tenets and 
practices of a religious group are essentially correct, if the lives 
themselves are lost to Him?

Did Jesus tell the Jews of the first century that as long as they were true to 
good Jewish traditions and beliefs, they were ok?  Or did He turn their eyes 
away from traditions, and away from conflicts with the Romans, and back to God 

I think we're mistaken to look merely to a style of leadership for signs of a 
problem.  The fact that a group has a single leader is not a sign of gross 
evil.  The fact that a group has plural leadership is not a sure sign of truth 
and guaranteed safety.  The fact that any group meets only in homes is not a 
sign of genuine spiritual life.  Participation in decisions and activities by 
the whole group  means nothing at all, if that's all we have.

If we fall for such ideas, then we've already passed from real life into 
another kind of religious tradition.  HC has then become just one more 
movement or cause or theological persuasion.  And I think there are already 
enough denominations.

What we each one need is a real walk with Jesus.  What every Christian group 
needs is Jesus Himself, not a better method.  Jesus keeps us.  Jesus corrects 
us when we stray this way or that.  Jesus will lead us all the way home to the 
Father's house.  And, need I say it?  Jesus saves us.

To me, the core of life, and the truly meaningful thing to any believer is 
Jesus Christ Himself.  Our faith, our lives, our devotion must be to Him, 
about Him, and always centered on Him -- not on anyone -- ANYONE -- else, or 
anything else.

We must not meet in homes because some guy, or any group, is telling us that 
we really need to do this in order to be spiritually and Scripturally correct. 
 We meet because we know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, and He Himself is 
directing us this way.  Yes, He will probably use the Bible to convince us. 
 He may even use some guy's book, an invitation, a friend, or anything else to 
get our attention.  But in every case, we should take any such move or 
decision back to Him for approval and direction.

Jesus Christ Himself must be the center of each believer's life.  Christian 
life is about being with Jesus.  It's not about sorting out good religion from 
bad.  Follow Jesus, and He will lead you in the way you should go.

I accept all Christians as my brothers and sisters.  I see only one church in 
this world, not many.  To me, a person is not made godlier or more orthodox 
(in God's eyes) by meeting this way or that way, by having only one pastor or 
a host of elders, overseers, or even by maintaining massive group 
participation.  Only as a person knows, loves and walks with the Lord is that 
person right or not.

Cults, then, as tragic as they can be, are not the real enemy at all, as I see 
it.  They're just one more inevitable symptom of the darkness that infects the 
whole world.

Anyone who is not following Jesus is already walking in darkness, whether they 
are in a cult or in a really good group of true believers.  And it does not 
really matter, what forms that darkness may take.  Spiritually speaking, 
everything that is not Jesus is darkness and false.  Only Jesus Christ is the 
truth, the life and the way.

I do not believe that a cult can snare someone who is obedient to God, paying 
attention to the Spirit of the Lord.  Nor do I believe a cult can insulate any 
lost human being from God's saving grace, or His power to rescue, deliver and 
teach.  Satan has many methods to steal wandering sheep, and to keep human 
souls in darkness and bondage.  But none of them are ultimately effective.

Everything the devil does is an illusion, and God is the big illusion-breaker. 
 Only those who absolutely reject God Himself and His truth, and willfully 
remain in that state, can be deluded to their own ultimate destruction.  God 
Himself sends them a delusion if they continually refuse the love of the truth 
(2 Thess 2:10,11).

If we're not walking as we should with the Lord, and if we're not in His Word 
each day, seeking and waiting for His direction in our own lives, then we're 
already in trouble -- and it doesn't matter what form that trouble may take.

God can use anything to wake us up, if we're willing to respond to Him.  But 
if we're not willing to be shaken awake by the Lord, then the outer form of 
our sin and unbelief is never the real problem.  The real issue is that we've 
turned back, as old King Saul, from following the Lord (see 1 Samuel 15).

The question, then, as I see it, is not which religious tradition, which 
religious forms, and methods are best and right and safest for our families. 
 No, the real issue is whether or not we're right with God, through a living 
faith in Jesus Christ.

Christian life not about religious wars and conflicts, or theological debates. 
 It's about who knows the Lord and loves Him for Himself.  Who will follow the 
Lord, and who will find some other thing or idea or person or group to follow.

Does this not make sense to anyone else?


House Church Talk is sponsored by the House Church Network.

House Church Talk has been renamed. These discussions, via the web, now occur at the Radically Christian Cafe.