Back in 1994, a local newspaper published an article about the Philadelphia Church of God. The author titled the article, “Is It a Cult or ‘God’s Church’?” One subhead was about our unorthodox beliefs—as if that is bad. Webster’s Dictionary describes a cult as “a group with unorthodox beliefs.”
Jesus Christ had unorthodox beliefs! They were so unorthodox that they eventually got Him killed! And make no mistake about it, Christ was killed because of what He taught. The people liked Christ’s personality. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). But they hated His message—and they hate Christ’s message today. That condition never changes. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Which group hated Christ most of all? The religious people were the ones screaming, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” False religion continues to play that role today—all over the world. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world …” (Revelation 12:9). Satan has totally deceived this world. The world’s religions don’t know who God is! Spiritually, they don’t even know themselves!
The reporter had this to say in his article: “During the mid-1950s, he [Mr. Armstrong] published a pamphlet entitled, ‘1975 in Prophecy.’ It warned of a worldwide nuclear war in 1972 and Christ’s return three years later. … When the world didn’t end on schedule, Armstrong withdrew his pamphlet from circulation.” I was asked about this statement before the article was published. I told the reporter that not one of Mr. Armstrong’s critics could prove that statement about the book and they never have over the years! That is because Mr. Armstrong never said those events would occur on those dates. There was only speculation that those events could happen in that time period. I took the time to explain this in detail. The reporter still wrote the same statement without proof. And so the error is perpetuated without excuse! But reporters read such statements and often believe them because there are several critics making these claims. If people hear a statement frequently enough, they often believe it.
Religion today has a similar problem. They have heard false teachings for years and they believe these false doctrines rather than what the Bible actually teaches. It will take years for these people to unlearn the errors before they can be deeply taught God’s truth!
One religious author says a cult “is a perversion, a distortion of biblical Christianity and/or a rejection of the historic teachings of the Christian church.” But this is a great contradiction! “Historic teachings” of today’s “Christianity” itself pervert and distort “biblical Christianity”! Their “biblical Christianity” means mainstream Christianity, which is very unbiblical!
According to the world’s definitions of a cult, Jesus Christ was a cult leader. We must remember that making such statements can bring severe persecution! Christ proved that. He was killed for what He taught. But soon, this world is going to be severely tried for practicing such gross deceit.
Recommended reading: Mystery of the Ages