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THE COUNTER-CULT MOVEMENT (CCM)

Motivation; Quality control, etc.

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Topics covered in this essay:

bulletWhat motivates the CCM?
bulletQuality control within the CCM
bulletWhat the CCM believes that cults teach

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What motivates the CCM?:

People in the CCM seem heavily dedicated to their work of raising public awareness of "cults". Every group within the CCM that we have studied believes that:

bulletNRMs are a major threat to the eternal destiny of the unsuspecting public.
bulletThe natural destiny of humans is to be eternally punished in Hell after death. 
bulletIf an individual repents of their sin and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, then they will be saved. After death, their destination will be Heaven, irrespective of any evil acts that they committed before or after the time that they were saved. 
bulletMany NRMs teach either Universalism (that nobody spend eternity in Hell) or that salvation is earned by good works. 
bulletMembership in NRMs will often cause incorrect beliefs, and lead to an eternity spent in Hell.
bulletThe stakes in fighting NRMs are very high. If the CCM is successful, they view themselves as preventing tens of millions of people from eternal punishment in Hell.

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Sponsored link:

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Quality control within the CCM:

CCM literature varies greatly in quality, objectivity and balance. Some exhibit careful analysis and critique. Others appear to be poorly researched and filled with factual errors, and even hate. We have documented some really vicious hate sites directed against two groups: Wiccans and homosexuals.

The Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR) is "a consortium of Christians in North America, seeking to help people distinguish authentic from in-authentic Christianity and strengthen evangelical Christian ministries to new religionists and cultists." 1 One of their goals is to "Maintain worthy theological, ethical, and missiological standards" among its members. They are run by an all-male board of directors who are counter cult movement leaders and founders, seminary professors and authors. They publish a Manual of Ethical and Doctrinal Standards which requires its members to adhere to a high level of personal integrity. With reference to their descriptions of other faith groups, they recommend the following:

"In public criticism of non-Christian religions and systems, we must bear in mind that our goal is...to reach them in humility, not to repel them in haughtiness...We must avoid the use of "loaded language" or emotional terminology which will breed contempt in the audience rather than compassion. After our presentation of another religious movement, listeners should be incited to prayer and evangelism rather than moved to pity or revulsion by our manner of portrayal."

By "non-Christian religions and systems" they would apparently include many groups which consider themselves to be Christian, such as Roman Catholicism, the Mormon Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. Topics at their year 2002 conference include Astrology, Goth movement, Falun Gong, International Churches of Christ, Islam, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Neo-Nazism, Paganism, Postmodernism, Religious Pluralism, Scientology, Soka Gakkai, and Wicca.

After visiting many of the CCM web sites, it is obvious that CCM groups rarely if go outside their group to have their essays critiqued. Most articles on on the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) contain major errors that a quick review by a few active Unitarian Universalists (UUs) could easily correct. Without outside help, it is almost impossible for an author to write an accurate, balanced, and clear essay about a religion that is not her/his own. The results can be quite comical. Using the UUA example again, many CCMs:

bulletState that no UUs believe in the Trinity.
bulletList the UUA as a Christian denomination. 
bulletQuote beliefs by Unitarian authors and conclude that the UUA's congregations require their members to believe accordingly. 

All of these are false statements. Because CCM groups do not generally have their writings reviewed by outside authorities, the quality of their material suffers, along with their credibility. 

Many CCM articles about Wicca and other Neopagan religions are quite ludicrous. They often contain material that can be traced back to the Witch burning times of the 15th to 18th centuries, and which bears no resemblance to Neopagan religions as they are practiced today. 

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What the CCM believes that "cults" teach:

Counter-Cult groups frequently quote Biblical passages that warn of false prophets that will arise and confuse many. They believe that these warnings refer to present-day cults. Many religious liberals believe that at least some of these biblical references target Gnostic Christianity -- one of the main threats to Pauline Christianity in the early years of Christianity.

Among the CCM's favorite biblical verses are:

bulletMatthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (KJV)
bulletMatthew 24:11: "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."
bulletMatthew 24:24: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
bulletMark 13:22: "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."
bullet2 Peter 2:1: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
bullet1 John 4:1: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

The Darkness to Light web site contains an essay titled "The Characteristics of a Cult: Theological Characteristics." It states that a cult's teaching includes one or more of the following theological beliefs:

bulletDevaluation of the Bible; the nature of God; the person, life and work of Christ;
bulletDenial of the Trinity;
bulletFalse, non-Biblical teachings about the Holy Spirit, criteria for salvation, after-life. etc.;
bulletExalted view of humanity;
bulletEither the overemphasis or the denial of demonic activity. 2

An essay "What makes a church or group non-Christian?," at the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry specifies that a faith group is a cult if it denies any of the following:

bulletThe deity of Jesus or the nature of the Trinity.
bulletThe bodily resurrection of Jesus.
bulletSalvation by Grace alone.

Some "cults" are Christian groups, like the Mormons, who add an extra book or books to the Bible. At least one faith group, the Jehovah's Witnesses, has modified the text of the Bible to produce its own translation which agrees more closely with their theological beliefs. Others are accused of developing non-orthodox interpretations of Bible passages: they take passages out of context, pick and choose certain verses while ignoring others; mistranslate key words, etc.

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Reference:

  1. "Evangelical Ministries to New Religions" has a web site at: http://www.emnr.org/
  2. "The Characteristics of a Cult: Theological Characteristics," Darkness to Light web site at: http://www.dtl.org/cults/misc/characteristics.htm
  3. "What makes a church or group non-Christian?," Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry at: http://www.carm.org/cults/cults.htm
  4. The term "pluralism" is ambiguous. It is sometimes used to refer to religious diversity. Other times, it refers to the belief that all religions are true.

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Site navigation: Home page > Cult menu > Counter-cult movement > here

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Copyright 1997 to 2001 incl., 2003 and 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2004-JUL-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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