Daily Archives: June 13, 2014

Questions about Christianity: What Is the Difference between a Sect and a Cult?

 

The word sect comes from the Latin word secta, which means “school of thought.” It is a subjective term that may apply to a religious faith or denomination, or it may refer to a heretical splinter group. Sometimes, the connotation is one of disapproval, similar to the “destructive heresies” spoken of in 2 Peter 2:1, though there are no consistent or accepted exemplars to use to identify a sect.

Sects are found in all religions. Islam has Sunnis and Shias, Judaism has Orthodox and Karaites, Hinduism has Shiyaism and Shaktism, and Christianity has Baptists and Lutherans. These are all examples of religious sects, and they can be thought of as “branches” of different religions. There are also non-religious sects, such as capitalists and socialists among economists, or Freudians and Jungians among psychiatrists.

In contradistinction, the word cult always carries a negative connotation. There are specific criteria used to identify a cult. In Combatting Cult Mind Control, deprogrammer Steven Hassan singles out what he refers to as “destructive cults,” which he defines as “a pyramid-shaped authoritarian regime with a person or group of people that have dictatorial control. It uses deception in recruiting new members (e.g. people are NOT told up front what the group is, what the group actually believes and what will be expected of them if they become members).” Hassan also correctly points out that cults are not only religious; they may also be commercial or secular in nature.

Hassan developed the BITE acronym, which describes the components employed by destructive cults using mind control. BITE covers the following areas of control:

Behavior Control: An individual’s associations, living arrangements, food, clothing, sleeping habits, finances, etc., are strictly controlled.

Information Control: Cult leaders deliberately withhold or distort information, lie, propagandize, and limit access to other sources of information.

Thought Control: Cult leaders use loaded words and language, discourage critical thinking, bar any speech critical of cult leaders or policies, and teach an “us vs. them” doctrine.

Emotional Control: Leaders manipulate their followers via fear (including the fear of losing salvation, fear of shunning, etc.), guilt, and indoctrination.

From a Christian perspective, a cult is any group that follows teachings that contradict orthodox Christian doctrine and promote heresy. Under this definition, the Watchtower Society and the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are both cults.

Because not all cults are immediately recognized as such, and some people may easily confuse cults with sects or denominations, it is critical to follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:11: “Now the Bereans … received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Always research the beliefs of a group before committing to it, examine its behaviors and doctrines in light of the Bible, and beware of the methods listed in the BITE model. Talk to members, but refuse to be coerced by them. Importantly, if something doesn’t seem right, don’t do it.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Counseling Related Questions: What Is Christian Rehab? When Should a Christian Consider Going to Rehab?

 

Addiction is a serious issue with far-reaching effects. Many times a person’s behavior becomes so entrenched and so harmful that he or she needs treatment in a formal rehabilitation program to begin the process of recovery. Colloquially referred to as “rehab,” most treatment programs include detoxification, group therapy, psycho-education, introduction to outside support groups (generally 12-step programs), and individual counseling. Many treatment centers also provide psychiatric support for dual diagnoses (such as treatment for underlying depression or bipolar disorder), programs for affected family members, and training in life skills. Rehab is often thought of as an inpatient program, although outpatient rehab facilities do exist.

There are many similarities among treatment centers, but each has a unique mélange of programs and theoretical foundations. Some rehab facilities market themselves as Christian. Although specific approaches may differ, Christian rehabs generally consider God to be the primary healer in overcoming addiction, and they incorporate Christian tenets in the recovery process. Many Christian centers view addiction as primarily a spiritual problem, with biological, social, and emotional co-factors. Addiction is often linked to a desire to fill a void or to a fear of facing painful emotions. Christians understand that only God can fully satisfy and that He is able to carry our heartache (Matthew 11:28–30; 1 Peter 5:7; John 16:33). Christian rehab also views spirituality as an avenue of healing. The substance of abuse clearly cannot take God’s place; developing a person’s relationship with God will help him or her to stop using. In most Christian rehab, then, patients receive physical, psychological, and intellectual support, as well as spiritual guidance. Biblical truth becomes a key treatment tool.

Both the Bible and society speak against addiction, but this does not make Christians immune from the struggle. In Christ we are set free from sin (Romans 6:6–11; 8:2; John 8:36). However, we must also make an effort to live in that freedom. Paul talks about the Christian’s struggle against sin in Romans 7. In Ephesians 4:22–24 Paul writes, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” There is no shame in requesting help in putting off the old self. Not only do Christians have the power of the Holy Spirit to help them in overcoming addiction, they have the Body of Christ, which is designed to be a support system. Christians should be good stewards of the resources available to them. Most individual churches are not equipped to handle the complexities of addiction. But many Christian treatment facilities exist to function as the Body of Christ to an addict.

If a Christian finds himself ruled by an addiction, he may want to consider entering a rehab program. A Christian rehab program has the benefits of recognizing the true Healer and of addressing the spiritual heart of addiction issues. However, it should be mentioned that some “Christian” rehabs do not follow current medical and psychological standards in providing addiction treatment. Some may also have faulty theological beliefs. Some non-Christian rehabs offer poor programs or have faulty theoretical stances, as well. Before entering into any rehab program, it behooves a potential patient (or family member) to fully vet it. Ensure that the program addresses each aspect of addiction (spiritual, physical, psychological, and social), that competent medical staff is available, and that patients are treated with care and respect. Most rehabs have copies of their treatment plans available for the asking.

If you or someone you know is trapped in an addiction, you may want to consider possible treatment plans. A counselor, psychiatrist, or medical doctor in your area may be able to direct you to a facility. You might also consider using christianrehabs.com in your search.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Commentary: What Should We Learn from the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31?

 

Proverbs is a book based on metaphor. It is packed with word-pictures of universal truths. Throughout Proverbs, wisdom is anthropomorphized as a woman. As early as Proverbs 1:20, wisdom is compared to a woman who shouts in the streets, chastising fools and scoffers. Proverbs 31 provides a detailed metaphor of feminine wisdom in the context of a family and a community.

The most quoted section, verse 10–31, is a chiastic poem, that is, a poem that cycles through alternating thoughts. The chapter speaks of the worth of a good wife to her husband, the manual labor that she does, her fulfillment of responsibilities to those who need her, her ability to provide for her family, and her wisdom in caring for herself so she can share her strength with others. These ideas are presented in a kind of circular pattern throughout the section.

The chapter begins with King Lemuel recounting advice his mother had given him. She exhorted him to not fall to weaknesses that would compromise his position as king, but to care for the poor. One of the weaknesses she mentioned was the susceptibility of his strength—or “noble character” (31:10)—to be harmed by improper relationships with women. Although verses 10–31 do not directly follow this warning in the original, they do illustrate a fitting description of what kind of woman Lemuel should seek.

10An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. 11The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. 12She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.

A good, supportive, trusting wife is a blessing to a man. A woman who partners with her husband, who is reliable, and looks out for his interests, gives a man a security that is greatly lacking in the world. She is worth more than a substantial paycheck. To bring in the metaphor, wisdom provides the same benefits—it is worth more than money, you can always trust it to make the right decision, and it provides blessings for those who have it.

13She looks for wool and flax, And works with her hands in delight … 19She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle … 27She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.

The wife of Proverbs 31 isn’t afraid of work. She gets up in the morning and gets things done. In the time of Solomon, this involved making fabric and sewing clothes, but verse 27 certainly applies directly to us today—taking care of our responsibilities is a characteristic of wisdom.

15She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens … 21She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. 20She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

Another characteristic of wisdom is the grace to help others. The Proverbs 31 wife ensures that those under her care receive what they need—food, clothing, protection. And she is able to serve others out of the excess of her work and the leaning of her heart. She has so internalized her role as a provider that it extends past her immediate responsibilities and into the community.

14She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar … 16She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard … 18She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night … 24She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen.

Beyond that, she’s very savvy. She’s educated about the world and the world of business. She knows how to use her skills to provide for her family, and she’s not afraid to go interact with that world, whether it be as a merchant or a buyer. She knows how to use her strengths to her best advantage, and she fully realizes how valuable her efforts are.

17She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong … 22She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 25Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. 26She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

The Proverbs 31 woman not only knows her worth, she knows her responsibilities to herself. She would not be able to provide for others if she neglected her needs—both physical and spiritual. She makes sure her appearance reflects her respected position as an influence in her community. Her greatest strength is her wisdom—her accurate judgment about the world and her influence in it. And she is quick to share the wisdom she has gained to encourage others to reach their potential.

23Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land … 28Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29“Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” 30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.

She knows that, as a partner in her marriage, she has a tremendous influence on her husband’s ministry. She can integrate her life—both domestic and professional—with her ministry in such a way that her husband has the freedom to serve. In fact, her reputation is so established, that it bleeds off onto him.

The Proverbs 31 wife is a fierce provider and protector for those she cares about. She is wise to the ways of the world, but lives by the wisdom of God. As in the rest of the Proverbs, these specific examples provide a metaphor for the larger truth. How any individual woman exemplifies these characteristics will depend on her situation, gifts, and abilities. The key is in verse 30, just as it is in the beginning of Proverbs, in 1:7:

But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

End Times Prophecy Headlines: June 13, 2014

End Times Prophecy Report

End Times Prophecy Report Headlines: Bible prophecy in Today's headlines. Bible prophecy in Today’s headlines.

End Times Prophecy Report
HEADLINES
June 13, 2014

CommentaryAnd OPINION

===INTERNATIONAL

Republic of Iraq Former President Saddam Husse... Republic of Iraq Former President Saddam Hussein, following his capture by US Army (USA) Soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq. Hussein had his beard shaven to confirm his identity. ID: DDSD0501885 Service 031214X0000X002 Depicted: DoD or Joint Civilian Operation / Series: IRAQI FREEDOM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IRAQ: Baghdad Falling – But how can a band of militants take over Iraq?  Don’t all of the people in Iraq LOVE the USA for “liberating” their country from the tyrant, Saddam Hussein?  Wasn’t that what we were told?

IRAQ: Exodus of US troops as chaos spreads – Huh?

IRAQ: The Americans Left In Iraq

IRAQ: Was the Iraq War a complete waste? – No more than Vietnam or Afghanistan.

SAUDI ARABIA: Atheism explodes in Saudi Arabia, despite state-enforced ban – Atheists will be one of the first groups sacrificed on…

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Australia Seizes 360M From Dormant Bank Accounts And All 50 U.S. States Are Doing This Too

Do you have a bank account that you don’t actively use or a safe deposit box that you have not checked on for a while? If so, you might want to see if the government has grabbed your money. This sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true. All over the world, governments are shortening the time periods required before they can seize “dormant bank accounts” and “unclaimed property”. For example, as you will read about below, just last year the government of Australia seized a whopping 360 million dollars from dormant bank accounts. And this kind of thing is going on all over America as well. In fact, all 50 states actually pay private contractors to locate bank accounts and unclaimed property that can be seized. In some states, no effort will be made to contact you when your property is confiscated. And in most states, the seized property permanently become the property of the state government after a certain waiting period has elapsed. So please don’t put money or property into a bank somewhere and just let it sit there. If you do, the government may come along and grab it right out from under your nose. (Read More….)

Politically Incorrect Thought Persecution On The Rise – Will You Be Next?

Are you in danger of being reported to the authorities for expressing your ‘politically incorrect’ thoughts and behaviors while in the safety of your home, and in the privacy of family conversations? At least one journalist thinks so: Cheryl Chumley, a reporter for The Washington Times and the author of “Police State USA,” feels that a remark made by Michelle Obama reflects a growing trend in America to target and attack individuals for committing “thought crime.” …….. Click here for full story

Church Divisions Now Resulting In Those Holding To Biblical Truths Being Asked To Leave

Divisions seem to be emerging in Christendom within Scotland, over the positions taken by the Church of Scotland over certain scriptures relating to the role of women in church and the acceptance of homosexual clergy, with allegations of intolerance being made by the opposing parties towards each other in relation to these topics …….. Click here for full story