Eight Christian Scholars Defend the Faith/Program 4

By: Dr. Walter Kaiser, Jr. , Dave Hunt, Dr. Anis Shorrosh, Dr. Robert

Morey, Dr. John Weldon, Bill Cetnar, Joan Cetnar, Dr. Gleason Archer; ©1994

We have more than 5,000 cults in America. This program compares cults’ truth claims with what the Bible says.




Ankerberg: Welcome. Tonight we’re talking with eight experts on the New Testament, Old Testament, about theology – folks that have been greatly used in the Christian church. Most of them have Ph.D.’s; others, God has greatly used in writing books. And we’re asking them the hard questions that the skeptic usually gives to the Christian. And tonight, our topic is the cults. There are more than 5,000 cults in the United States alone. And they are making truth claims that contradict what we are talking about from a Christian point of view and we want to look at those tonight. Dr. Weldon, you have written a 7,000-page encyclopedia on the Eastern religions and the cults of the world. Let’s start out with a basic definition: What is a cult? And how do they deceive people spiritually in your opinion?
Weldon: Well, John, the issue of the cults today is a serious one because literally millions of people in this country and around the world belong to cults. It’s estimated that between 125 and 150 million people around the world are members of these religions.
A cult is something that is often wrongly defined. If you look at any dictionary definition, you will find multiple definitions for the term “cult.” The way we’re using that term is a religious organization that claims to be based on the Bible, to believe in the Bible; that claims to believe in Jesus Christ and claims to be Christian. But when you examine their teachings, you find that they are not Christian; they deny Jesus Christ, and they are not based upon the teachings of the Bible. So we’re dealing with something that is basically deceptive.
If you look at the names of many of the more well-known cults you can see how there is confusion in the minds of many people today. You find terms like Christian Science which claims to be Christian, the true science of Christianity. Jehovah’s Witnesses – Witnesses of Jehovah God. They call themselves Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses. The Mormons, who are known officially by the name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Unity School of Christianity. And you can go on down the line. They all claim to be Christian but none of them are Christian.
When I was doing the encyclopedia on the cults, I went over 70 different religions. Many of them claim to be Christian. Not one of them said that they were inconsistent in their teachings when compared with the teachings of Jesus Christ. And yet not one of them truly believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ. So the basic problem with a cult is one of deception.
Ankerberg: Alright. Let’s take them one at a time. Dr. Robert Morey, the Mormons today are talking a lot on television and they are saying that they have the Bible, but Jesus not only gave revelation in the Bible; what we don’t know and we need to know is that there is the Book of Mormon and He also gave revelation in that. And they want us to believe that they are Christians but they just got a little extra information. What do you think about that?
Morey: Well, I think it’s important that Christians realize there’s really only one issue that needs to be discussed with Mormons. Now, granted, there’s over a dozen Mormon denominations and there’s Reorganized and “disorganized” and all sorts of things. Usually you will meet with the Donny and Marie Osmond, the Utah type who comes knocking; the one at the Polynesian Center in Hawaii.
Now, these particular Mormons are the ones who are the fastest growing. And as you deal with these missionaries – and I have to deal with bishops and whatnot – I say, “We’re not going to discuss building temples, baptism for the [dead]. There’s only one issue that really matters: Who was Joe?” Now, Joseph Smith was either whom he claimed to be, God’s latter-day prophet, and we all then should become his disciples. But it’s not decided which Mormon denomination we should join because they all claim to be the church of Joseph Smith. So that still doesn’t get us in the Utah church. But was Joe whom he claimed to be – God’s latter-day prophet – or was he a nut case and they should have put him in a padded room and give him baskets to weave and pat him on the head now and then and say, “Good boy”? Or, he was a liar, a con man who was in it for what most cults want – money and women. So he was either whom he claimed to be, or he was a nut, or he was a liar. How can you find out?
Mormon missionaries are trained to give two answers: one is arguing in a circle which is like rowing with one oar. Now, where do you go when you row with one oar? You just go around and around and around. You don’t get anywhere. Joseph Smith, I had an experience, it’s in the book How to Answer a Mormon, but here I am in a convention and Mormons are jumping up and one said, “I bear my testimony that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God.” I say, “How do you know that?” “Because God spoke to him.” “How do you know that?” “Because he was God’s prophet.” “How do you know that?” “Because God spoke to him.” “How do you know that?” “Because he…” and everyone began to laugh and he woke up and I said, “You’re rowing with one oar.
I could say my dog Fifi is the prophet of God. “How do you know that?” “God spoke to him.” “Well, how do you know that?” “My dog’s a prophet of God.” Arguing in a circle proves nothing except that you can go in circles.
Secondly, they argue from subjective feelings. “I have this burning feeling and witness in my heart.” And I usually say, “Well, I bear you my testimony: I have a burning witness Joseph Smith was a fraud and the Book of Mormon is a farce.” And I said, “Forget all that. Every religion says ‘I know, I know.’” Deuteronomy 18 says, how do you know? If someone who claims to be a prophet gives a prediction and it doesn’t come to pass, just one false prophecy and he has struck out.
I found 64 false prophecies of Joseph Smith. I listed eight among them: men in the moon; the lost ten tribes living in a tropical valley in the North Pole; where the apostle John is still alive and if he’s collecting Social Security he’s just about getting his money back; the temple that was never built. In other words, you have predictions and prophecies in black and white, and I usually hold up the book. I said, “You don’t need to be a Christian, a Jew, this is black and white. Here’s the book. It’s from the Journal of Discourses. It’s what Joe said in Doctrines. He was a false prophet.
And in the name of the Lord, you tell the Mormon, Joseph was not whom he claimed to be; he was probably not a nut case, he was a liar. For Scripture says whoever denies Jesus is a liar and an antichrist. [1 John 2:22] And that is who Joe really was and that’s why the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants and the whole thing is false.
Ankerberg: Bill and Joan Cetnar, you were Jehovah’s Witnesses for, what? 20 years? And you actually worked in the Watchtower Headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. You actually answered questions for the Watchtower all across the country. And they claim that they are the only organization on earth that actually speaks for God; they are His prophetic organization to communicate divine truths and all the rest of us ought to listen to them. Have they, as the mouthpiece for God, ever given false prophecy? Just as Bob said. Deuteronomy 18 says if a prophet’s going to speak in the name of the Lord, what he says must come true. Have they said something in their own literature: their Awake! Magazine, the Watchtower, whatever, that shows that their leaders are false prophets?
Bill: Yes. Their first president wrote a book in 1889 and entitled it just what the Bible said he would: The Time Is at Hand. And the Bible tells me that if he says the time is at hand, do not follow them. And in that book he wrote these famous words: “The battle of the great day of God Almighty which will end in AD 1914 with complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership is already commenced.” That ended his rule. He died a year later. But 1914 was the end of a period of time. It started in 1889 and 1914 was the end. And then in 1919 they predicted the end of the world, and since that didn’t happen, most of the people left the organization. They backdated it to 1914 as the beginning. The end became the beginning. And now the end is today or maybe tomorrow or 1975. And they predicted the end of the world.
Ankerberg: Joanie, how many times have they actually predicted it in their writings?
Joan: At least eight times: 1874, 1914, 1918, 1925 was a big disappointment for them. 1932 they updated it to 1941. We were at a convention in St. Louis, Missouri.
Bill: I didn’t know you then.
Joan: No. We didn’t know each other then. But we were both there, and all the children were on the floor of the arena. And we were all handed a book called Children. It was the very first book I had ever read and studied through the Watchtower. And it said in there that these two people, Lois and John, were not to get married – they were in their teens – because within six months Armageddon would be here. And that was the atmosphere that I grew up in. I never expected to get through high school. I never expected that I would get married. I never expected to be a grandmother. But here we are. We’re still here.
And they’ve already gone through another false prophecy of 1975. And don’t let them tell you that they never said anything about 1975, because they didn’t write it on ice, they wrote it on paper and it’s there. We can read it and we can show it to you and we have it documented. So there is no doubt, using the same criteria that Brother Morey was using, that they claim to be a prophet of God. And don’t let them tell you they didn’t do that. They didn’t write that on ice either . And Deuteronomy says if they say a word in my name – and they do use the name of God, a false translation but still Yahweh – and if it does not come to pass or does not come true, you need not be afraid of him. [Deut. 18:22] So there’s no doubt that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is a false prophet.
Ankerberg: Right. Bob?
Morey: You can apply the same method to Herbert Armstrong who talked about 1975; to Rev. Moon who said the world would recognize him as the Lord of the Second Advent in 1982. I didn’t, did you? Or all those other cultic groups who get excited and predict the end of the world. Joseph Smith did it – 1892 – and it didn’t happen. And what you have to realize, as we get closer to the date, the year 2000, we’re not going to see fewer cults, we’re going to see more of them. And even pseudo-Christian cults setting dates in the name of Christ when He specifically denied and forbade such things.
Ankerberg: Yeah. Dave, today we’ve got, especially on the West Coast and in other of our big cities, Transcendental Meditation has come in a new light, kind of a new approach if you want. They’re saying that it’s really the latest in the scientific techniques of mind power and so on. And tell us, what do you think about Transcendental Meditation? Is it really scientifically based or is it something else?
Hunt: Well, first of all, it’s not transcendental, it’s sub-scendental. They don’t believe in a transcendent God, so how can they get into a transcendent state and how can they have transcendental meditation? It is really looking within. It’s a form of Yoga, self-realization, to look within. So it’s not transcendental meditation to begin with.
It comes out of the Hindu Vedas. It’s really basically Hinduism but they have some scientists on various university campuses who have said they’ve studied this and so forth and that it does benefit people, it lowers blood pressure, etc., etc. However, Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard, he calls it the relaxation response and he said you don’t have to use a mantra, a TM mantra – which, by the way, is the name of a Hindu deity, name of a Hindu god, all of them. And there are only 18 basic mantras. I don’t want to get into that. In fact, he tells you, “Don’t tell anybody your mantra,” because they tell you that you get a specific mantra chosen for you individually. If you told people your mantra you would find thousands of others that had your own special chosen mantra. But anyway, Dr. Benson found out if you just repeat “I, I, I” or something else and you go into a relaxed state, you get certain benefits. It will lower your blood pressure and so forth.
But the problem is that what you are doing is opening yourself up to a demonic spirit, because the experts, the yogis, the practitioners of Yoga, will tell you that the repetition of a mantra is a call to this entity to come and possess you. And every one of these mantras, remember, is the name of a Hindu deity. I’ve talked to former TM’ers who suddenly found themselves out of their body. They said, “Hey, I thought this was purely scientific, wasn’t religious, and suddenly I’m out of my body looking down or I’ve got a demon on each side of me trying to come in.” They become suicidal. They take their lives. They end up in insane asylums and so forth. It is a very dangerous practice.
Ankerberg: Dr. Kaiser, one of the questions that the cults always hit Christians with at Christmas and Easter is that we shouldn’t celebrate any holidays because, number one, every day of the year there was in the past a pagan celebration or a pagan ritual that took place and they usually hook it up to one or the other or those pagan celebrations. Do you think that Christians should observe traditional holidays?
Kaiser: Yes. I don’t see any problem with it, John. As a matter of fact, God is a God of celebration. He has festivals all through the Old Testament and doesn’t mind taking some of the very titles which often had lapsed with regard to the use in pagan form so long it was no longer a bridge to walk over.
You understand that our days of the week are Teutonic, but when I say that this is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I’m not worshipping Woden, the god Woden, or Thor on Thursday. I don’t want anything to do with them. But frankly, I use the days of the week. So if they’re going to be consistent, I would say they should drop dates, too, as well. And let’s go for the whole schmear. I mean, I’m a nine-yard person and I want the whole thing. So I would urge that.
But God I think wants us to have a day of festivity. The fact that sometimes they have fallen together like Eastre is the word from which we get Easter. Alright, if that’s an offense, drop “Easter.” Let’s talk about Resurrection Day. I can get by with that and that’s alright. And so you can have the Easter Bunny and the egg both. I will them to you. And they have nothing to do with Christianity.
But nevertheless, it seems to me, even in the book of Ecclesiastes you have there God saying that He has given eating and drinking and enjoying the benefits of your paycheck. This is the gift of God. That’s not Epicureanism in there. It’s not eat and drink and be merry for tomorrow we kick the bucket. It’s rather eat and drink and enjoy the benefits for it is the gift of God. Ten times over he stresses it is the gift of God. So those who are a little tight and need to flex a little bit, you need to celebrate the great days, the anniversary days in which God has marked history, because you ought to see when He comes back into town one more time – great big celebration! That’s going to make some of the celebrations we’ve had in the past look like peanuts. Talk about Superbowl – you ought to see this Sunday!
Ankerberg: Okay, Joan, while I’ve got you on this topic here, one of the things about the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that they forbid blood transfusions and we’ve got two professors that are experts on Hebrew sitting on the stage with you there. Tell us the verse that is wrongly used in the Old Testament that forbids the Jehovah’s Witnesses to have a blood transfusion and let’s get a couple of comments on that.
Joan: Leviticus 17 is the chapter and they pretty much go from verse 9 right to the end where God is giving the edict to Israel not to eat blood or to eat anything that is not properly kosher bled, and eat the flesh of that, but that the blood is to be given to God. And they take that command of God to not eat blood and interpret it to not take a blood transfusion.
Now, they have one in the New Testament too, and that’s Acts 15:28-29 where the instruction there is to the Gentile converts that they are to abstain from blood also and also from things sacrificed to idols and from fornication. So they use that once again to say that eating blood there means not to have a blood transfusion. It’s purely an interpretation.
The way that they link it is by saying, “Well, when you get an intravenous feeding, you’re feeding through the veins. Well, when you’re taking a blood transfusion, you’re doing the same thing – you’re feeding through the veins. So therefore your body is using that blood for sustenance.” However, in their own publication on blood they call a blood transfusion essentially a transplant. This is in their book, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Question of Blood, page 41, in case they want to check it. If that is true and they are allowed to have transplants now, there is no reason why they couldn’t have a blood transfusion.
But they also teach that in the Old Testament that they would be killed. They render “cut off” as killed. I would like to have my brothers explain that. Death would be a result of eating blood. Now, we have a case in 1 Samuel, I believe it’s 13 or 14, where Saul’s men ate animals that were not properly bleed. It says they ate them with the blood. It doesn’t give any record of them being killed or that being the penalty for doing that but that they should properly sacrifice and properly kill the animals. So, they have purely interpreted the whole thing, I believe, to do what Satan wants to do and that’s to kill and destroy.
Ankerberg: Alright.
Archer: May I add a word?
Ankerberg: Yes.
Archer: In that decree of the Jerusalem Council that was referred to in Acts 15, it’s part of a list of cautions that are handed out to Gentile converts to the Christian faith. And in there it says that they are not to eat blood or anything which has been strangled. And the implication here is that they are not to take into the mouth – in other words, you have no form of eating that’s referred to either in the Old Testament or the New Testament that does not involve eating through the mouth.
Now, if you are to use blood in order to save life, which of course is the purpose of the blood transfusion and many Jehovah’s Witnesses are dying or allowing their children to die because they refuse to let them have the kind of blood transfusion that would save their lives, what we have here is a violation of the rights of language. The verb akal that in Hebrew means “eating with the mouth,” using the teeth and masticating in the normal fashion. And same thing is true with the Greek verbs, esthio and so on that speak of eating. It’s always with the mouth. And so here you have an application that the people of God in ancient times would never have recognized as being pertinent.
Ankerberg: Okay. Dr. John Weldon, with all of these things about the cults, what would you say to the folks that are listening tonight that may be in the cults and would like to know how to come into a relationship with the real Jesus, how can they do that?
Weldon: Well, Jesus said that, “This is eternal life: to know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” [John 17:3] And the problem with any cult, no matter what it is, is that they have a false concept of Jesus, a wrong concept of Jesus. They do not believe in the Jesus of the Bible. They have a Jesus that is not the Jesus that lived and came to earth and died for our sins. And they have a wrong concept of God. Every cult group has a seriously flawed concept of who God is and who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us. And so they need to come to the true Jesus Christ. They need to seriously examine, do some real serious reality testing, in terms of their own beliefs and see whether or not they’re biblical. They need to get on their knees before the Lord and pray and ask Him to guide them and have the strength and the courage to ask some hard questions, to be critical, to think; to ask some Christians to study with them. And the basic thing is for them to receive Christ, the true biblical Christ, as their Lord and Savior and to become saved.
Ankerberg: Okay.
Shorrosh: May I say one word, John, sir?
Ankerberg: Quickly.
Shorrosh: Number one, isn’t it fascinating how human beings are incorrigibly religious? And if they cannot find the truth, they will find a substitute. Secondly, the matter of the cults. You look at the Muslim faith, because it is the Qur’an plus Jesus; the Qur’an plus the Bible; Muhammad plus. And today, I want to congratulate you because I believe we are right now involved in the greatest revolution the world has ever known: the revolution for truth. And I challenge the listeners, as believers in Christ, to remember the commission of Jesus to “go into all the world and make disciples.” [Matt. 28:19] We are responsible to share the light inasmuch as we are the light.
Ankerberg: Good. Next week we’re going to talk about, what is reincarnation? What do those in the New Age Movement believe? What’s the Human Potential Movement? What about the thousand different channelers in Los Angeles that are counseling the movie stars and so on? We’re going to talk about the occult and what the Bible has to say to those of you that are dabbling into occult systems. So please join us.

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