Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Christianity, Denominations, and Cults

I’ve had thoughts swarming over and over in my head concerning the various denominations of Christianity. Bare with me as I roam through my logic to get you to the point.

My degree was on religions and I studied denominations of Christianity, yet I once again find myself puzzling over an issue that makes me examine some denominations. Take, for example, the LDS, the church of Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormons). They call themselves Christian yet conservative Christians call them a cult. Why? Because there is something foundationally cracked in who they believe God is, who they believe Jesus is, who they believe the Holy Spirit is, who they believe we are, and how salvation is obtained. Who they say God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are does not match up with mainstream Christianity so they’re a cult.

Now I would agree with this. While at East Carolina University I spend a good portion of my time targeting Mormons (especially Mormon missionaries who were easily spotted) to share my faith with. It was a challenge because they believe they were Christians and that all other Christians were the ones following a flawed belief system. Nonetheless, I was able to leave those conversations helping them see that who we say God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are is vastly different from what they say they are. The personalities, goals, functions, etc. are all different.

Now, getting to my point, what I’ve been having a hard time with is Charismatic groups. Those who believe in the use of Tongues. Just to be clear, it’s not the use of Tongues that bothers me, but rather what always seems to accompany the usage of Tongues: teaching people how to pray in Tongues, believing a person must be Baptized by the Holy Spirit a second time, and a whole lot more that is very questionable. How did such a group ever get labeled as a denomination and not a cult? Sure they use similar “church” language that we use, but so do Mormons. Don’t these Tongue groups have a tendecy to also misrepresent the Holy Spirit and his function. What’s makes them so different from the Mormons in that regard?

Now I’m not saying lets go to war and make it clear Charismatics are not Christian. I’m just laying my personal thoughts out there for all to see.

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