Apologetics, Mission and New Religious Movements: A Holistic Approach

Encountering New Religious Movements
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Richardson, Routledge, London, , pp. Some book titles use both terms. The different nuances in countercult apologetics have been discussed by John A. Kylne Snodgrass Darrell L. A Holistic Evangelical Approach. Practical Application Bridging the Divide: Proverbs John Phillips Commentary Series 27 vols.

John Highham described anti-Catholicism as "the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history". Countercult literature usually expresses doctrinal or theological concerns and a missionary or apologetic purpose. Christian countercult activist writers also emphasize the need for Christians to evangelize to followers of cults. The movement publishes its views through a variety of media including books, magazines, and newsletters, radio broadcasting; audio and videocassette production, direct mail appeals, proactive evangelistic encounters, professional and avocational Internet Websites, as well as lecture series, training workshops and counter cult conferences.

Christians have applied theological criteria to assess the teachings of non-orthodox movements throughout church history.

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The Apostle Paul wrote an entire epistle, Galatians , antagonistic to the teachings of a Jewish sect that claimed adherence to the teachings of both Jesus and Moses cf. The Apostle John devoted his first Epistle to countering early proto-gnostic cults that had arisen in the first century, all claiming to be "Christian" 1 Jn.

In the Protestant traditions some of the earliest writings opposing unorthodox groups like Swedenborg's teachings, can be traced back to John Wesley , Alexander Campbell and Princeton Theological Seminary theologians like Charles Hodge and B. Barrington, published in Quite a few of the pioneering apologists were Baptist pastors, like I.

  1. Encountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach;
  2. Christian countercult movement.
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Haldeman, or participants in the Plymouth Brethren , like William C. Irvine and Sydney Watson. Christian Science , [27] Bewitched by Spiritualism , [28] and The Gilded Lie , as warnings of the dangers posed by cultic groups.

Watson's use of fiction to counter the cults has been repeated by later novelists like Frank E. The early twentieth century apologists generally applied the words " heresy " and " sects " to groups like the Christadelphians , Mormons , Jehovah's Witnesses , Spiritualists, and Theosophists.

This was reflected in several chapters contributed to the multi-volume work released in The Fundamentals , where apologists criticised the teachings of Charles Taze Russell , Mary Baker Eddy , the Mormons and Spiritualists. Since at least the s, the approach of traditional Christians was to apply the meaning of cult such that it included those religious groups who use other scriptures beside the Bible or have teachings and practices deviating from traditional Christian teachings and practices.

Some examples of sources with published dates where known that documented this approach are:. One of the first prominent counter-cult apologists was Jan Karel van Baalen — , an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Christian countercult movement

His book, The Chaos of Cults , which was first published in , became a classic in the field as it was repeatedly revised and updated until Historically, one of the most important protagonists of the movement was Walter Martin —89 , whose numerous books include the The Rise of the Cults: He became well known in conservative Christian circles through a radio program, "The Bible Answer Man", currently hosted by Hank Hanegraaff.

In The Rise of the Cults [36] Martin gave the following definition of a cult:. As Martin's definition suggests, the countercult ministries concentrate on non-traditional groups that claim to be Christian, so chief targets have been The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints i. Various other conservative Christian leaders—among them John Ankerberg and Norman Geisler —have emphasized themes similar to Martin's. Dave Breese [40] summed up this kind of definition [41] in these words:.

New Religious Movements

Since the s the term "new religions" or " new religious movements " has slowly entered into Evangelical usage alongside the word "cult". Some book titles use both terms.

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The acceptance of these alternatives to the word "cult" in Evangelicalism reflects, in part, the wider usage of such language in the sociology of religion. The term "countercult apologetics " first appeared in Protestant Evangelical literature as a self-designation in the late s and early s in articles by Ronald Enroth and David Fetcho, and by Walter Martin in Martin Speaks Out on the Cults.

Gordon Melton, led the latter to place more emphasis in his publications on differentiating the Christian countercult from the secular anti-cult. The only existing umbrella organization within the countercult movement in the USA is the EMNR Evangelical Ministries to New Religions founded in which has the evangelical Lausanne Covenant as governing document and which stresses mission, scholarship, accountability and networking.

A comparison between the methods employed in the USA and other nations discloses some similarities in emphasis, but also other nuances in emphasis. The similarities are that globally these ministries share a common concern about the evangelization of people in cults and new religions. There is also often a common thread of comparing orthodox doctrines and biblical passages with the teachings of the groups under examination. However, in some of the European and southern hemisphere contexts, confrontational methods of engagement are not always relied on, and dialogical approaches are sometimes advocated.

A group of organizations which originated within the context of established religion is working in more general fields of cult-awareness, especially in Europe. Their leaders are theologians, and they are often social ministries affiliated to big churches.

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The phenomena of "cults" has also entered into the discourses of Christian missions and theology of religions. An initial step in this direction occurred in when the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization convened a mini-consultation in Thailand. Each essay ends with questions for discussion. This helps readers study the basic content of the beliefs of these new movements and also better understand them internally, that is, both historically and sociologically.

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