From the Pastor's Pulpit
We love him, because he first loved us.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Candor Dispassion and I will be your moderator for this session of the Pastor's Pulpit. Today we have as guests two very well known pastors who represent opposing sides of the issue of cults and what a cult consists of. On my right we have Pastor Armando Archaic representing the traditional view. And with me on my left is Pastor Variant VanGuard representing the modern view. Gentlemen, thank you for being our guest."
"Our pleasure to be here Mr Dispassion."
"To begin this session of the Pastor's Pulpit, I would like to first identify just what a cult is. As it seems to me, from the way a cult is spoken of, a cult is the negative polar view of a religion such as Christianity. Pastor Archaic, I will begin with you. What in your opinion is a cult?"
"A cult Mr Dispassion, is a group of people who have taken on a form of an established religion such as Christianity, and have redirected their head to that of a mere man, following him rather than the one who originally established the religion, which in the case of Christianity, is of course Christ."
"Thank you Pastor Archaic. And now to you Pastor VanGuard. What is your definition of a cult?"
"I would have to agree with Pastor Archaic with this one proviso. All religions and Christian denominations are a cult. You see Mr Dispassion...."
"Christianity is not a cult Pastor VanGuard. It is the only true religion that is not in fact a religion. You must...."
"You didn't let me finish Pastor Archaic, I was going to say...."
"Gentlemen, gentlemen! Let us keep some form of decorum here. This is a formal debate, not a Sunday School picnic. Pastor VanGuard, you had the floor. Would you please continue with what you were about to say."
"Thank you Mr Dispassion, and I'm sorry for getting out of hand. What I was about to say is that a cult, by definition, is a group of people who follow an established ideology such as Communism, or who have given their leadership over to a person such as Buddha or Christ. Taking this as our understanding of a cult, we must assume that all religions are a cult. This being so, when we refer to a group of people as a cult, what we are really saying is that such a group does not agree with our ideology, or follow the leader we follow in the same fashion that we follow that leader."
"Thank you Pastor VanGuard for laying that clear groundwork for us. Back to you Pastor Archaic. Now you may give your rebuttal."
"Thank you Mr Dispassion. First I would like to point out that Webster does not establish rules of behavior or form. He only reports his findings. Society establishes a meaning of a word or a behavior. What is acceptable in one society may be punishable by death in another, regardless of what Webster says. Morality is a good example of this. In our country morality is nearly non-existent. We allow the most perverse of behaviors, and even herald it. Attempt this same attitude in a country such as Afghanistan, and you risk losing your head when discovered. It is the common view amongst all, if I may use such a broad statement, all people that a cult is a group of people who have deviated not only their head from the founder of the religion, but have altered the view and purpose of that religion so it no longer serves its original and intended function. I will give you an example of what I mean. Take the Moonies for example. The Moonies are a cult because they have chosen to fly the banner of Christianity. Yet as Christians, they do not live up to the Christian principals. They live up to Moonie's principals. Should they decide to sever their connection with Christianity, they would no longer be a cult, but rather they would be a new religion."
"An interesting concept Pastor Archaic. It being established what a cult is, I would like to throw out a point for discussion. The church, that is the umbrella church carrying the name of Christianity, has many different facets, that is, they have different essential doctrines they follow that separate them one from another. What I would like to have you discuss is what you think it would take for all churches, including those referred to as cults, to have a meeting of the mind. I will begin again with you Pastor Archaic, because I want to hear Pastor VanGuard's reply."
"It will never happen Mr Dispassion. That is the plain and simple fact. In order for all churches to agree, all churches would then have to agree that the Moonies, the Witnesses, the Mormons, and every other group in existance is just as correct as the Baptists, the Methodists and the Pentecostals. That obviously will never happen. They, that is the cults and other less acceptable denominations are ignorant of the purposes of Christ and of the Truth as is known and believed in the true church. As long as that intentional ignorance remains, there can be no meeting of the minds."
"Thank you Pastor Archaic. And now to you Pastor VanGuard."
"Rather than present a static conceptual statement Mr Dispassion, I would like to direct my comment to Pastor Archaic if this is acceptable with you."
"Go right ahead Pastor VanGuard. Only no insults please."
"Pastor Archaic, you speak of ignorance toward your understanding of what Christianity is. I agree that intentional ignorance is a big part of any religious organization, as it is with individuals within those organizations. Jesus Himself had to deal with this very same ignorance. The Pharisees, the priests and the scribes, all had their own very definite and very educated view of God's plan for them. They certainly could not be considered ignorant by any means. Yet, with all their understanding and knowledge of the Word of God, they were ignorant. They were ignorant because they were unwilling to give any consideration to anything outside their understanding and belief. Jesus tried, with all power of God, to show them the error of their ways. They were following the true path laid out for them, but over time they deviated from that path by misinterpreting the Word, and by adding their own clarifications to the Word. We, the churches of today and that of the past thousand years or so, have made this same mistake. We have deviated from the path. I do not exclude myself from this statement. Ignorance means to turn a blind eye to what might be truth, giving it no value or consideration. I assume this is what you had in mind when you said the cults and other denominations are ignorant of what you know and what you believe as truth as God intended it. My question to you Pastor Archaic is, what consideration and investigation have you given to the doctrines and the understanding of those you have labeled as cult or deviant denomination? I would like an answer if you please."
"I assume I may give a direct response to your question. Truth, Pastor VanGuard, does not have to be challenged. When a person is in possession of truth, they do not have to look into fallacy and fantasy to find more truth. Truth is in the Bible. And I have the Bible. My denomination follows the Bible to the T. In answer to your question to me, do I know about the doctrines of the cults and other denominations. Of course I do. I studied these in seminary. Of course it wasn't an in-depth study as was the one into the Bible, but these things are not foreign to me. I know enough about them to know I should not stick my toe in their boiling water. On the other hand, Pastor VanGuard, what do you know about true Christianity, that is, the doctrines of my church? Where does your ignorance lie?"
"May I answer directly mister moderator?"
"Be my guest."
"What do I know about your denominational views you ask. Where does my ignorance lie? My ignorance is extensive Pastor Archaic. There is a great deal I do not know, and even more that I wish I did know, and that someday I would like to learn. But the doctrines of your church are not part of that ignorance. I, Pastor Archaic, grew up in the very same denomination to which you belong. I went to a seminary school very similar to the one you attended. I may well know just as much as you do about your view of Christianity. You see Pastor Archaic, you and I are, in almost every case, talking cross-current with one another. You assume that I do not believe in the same God and the same Christ you believe in. You believe I do not follow Christ because I do not follow you. You are mistaken Sir. I follow Christ. I follow Christ while you have found a comfortable place to graze. The Lord is moving. You teach those who follow you to move no farther than the front door of the church. But like any door, the door you stand in is not the ultimate goal. It is but an entry. The principal of sitting in any stage of Christianity, and I do mean any stage, does not hold its own in any other facet of life. Try and explain to your teacher in seminary that you attended the meetings, and see if he will forgive you for not taking the test. Try the same in the military, or on any job, or for that matter as a family member, which as Christians we are. We are expected to grow, and to improve, and to do our best. If we fall short, we are penalized, or we are rejected off-hand. This is our area of contention Pastor Archaic. It's not whether Jesus is our leader, but to what degree we must follow Him as our leader. It's not a matter of if we are saved, but what we do because we are saved, and saved for what. It's not a matter of if God loves us. That is not in question. Where we disagree is in what we are to do with that love, and what we do because of that love He has for us and demonstrated to us. And even more, if we love Him. It's not in the beliefs we disagree Pastor Archaic, it's in the doing and the not doing where we stand apart."
26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:)
19We love him, because he first loved us. (1John 4:)