The Culting Of Christianity
recently had an interaction with a Christian that reminded me how important it is to recognize a phenomenon that virtually all counter-cult experts have documented. This is the simple fact that words and doctrines that seem to be universally understood in a Christian context can carry a completely different meaning to people who have been ensnared in a cultic mindset.
For example, a salesman at a Christian book publisher once called me in an attempt to get us to order more books from his employer. This publisher, known as Hearthstone Publishing, is associated with the Rapture Cult group known as The Southwest Radio Church out of Oklahoma.
I had previously purchased a respectable wholesale quantity of a single title from them because it critically examined the Preterist apostasy. I'll remind readers that Preterism is the doctrine that says the Tribulation already happened in 70 AD, with some preterists even saying that Christ returned invisibly at that time. Although I knew the book would come from a Rapture Cult perspective, I reasoned that at least some of the arguments against Preterism would be valid.
My own book refuting the false doctrine of Preterism (entitled Days Of Future Past: The Preterist Apostasy) could not possibly have covered every argument, and because Christian Media is committed to opposing Preterism, I wanted to add to our knowledge base on the subject. Unfortunately, very few have recognized the enormous threat of Preterism and, at the time, there were very few titles available exposing the subject. This might surprise the reader, but I would venture to say that for every published book criticizing Preterism, there are 20 promoting it.
Thus, like a fireman throwing everything he has against a rapidly spreading blaze, I was even willing to distribute a book written from the erroneous pre-tribulationist Rapture perspective in order to attack this deadly false doctrine. I’ve since learned you can’t fight error with a leavened truth, but that’s a subject to be pursued another day.
How Dare You Call Me A Cultist!
Now, a couple of paragraphs back, I used the phrase "Rapture Cult." Because some pre-tribulation rapture adherents are probably reading these words, it's very likely there are some who have never heard their own belief system referred to as a "cult." Furthermore, this term is virtually guaranteed to inflame the sensibilities of those "rapturists" that have never considered any form of what they subjectively perceive to be mainstream Christianity to be cultic in nature.
The fact is, the Rapture Cult is just that: a previously tiny cultic group that spread their perspective so effectively that they have emerged as the dominant party in what is presently called evangelical Christianity. In the process, they quietly shed various early doctrinal arguments of very dubious value, revised the record concerning their original historical roots, and criminally covered up the actual source of the cultic system.
But back to the episode with the rapture book salesman. After patiently listening to his pitch, I politely and diplomatically told him the only reason we purchased the single book from his group was because we are aggressive opponents of the Preterist doctrine; however, we won't be ordering any other titles from them because we are also firmly against the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine espoused by his employer. I did not use the inflammatory phrase Rapture Cult as I already had his attention, nor did I seek in any way to provoke the man. I simply and calmly stated that Christian Media is largely post-tribulational, as the Bible plainly teaches us that Christ will return and resurrect the believer "immediately after the tribulation..." (Matthew 24:29).
Sensing I only had a few seconds to make any scriptural point before the salesman’s conditioning kicked in, and hoping to at least plant some seeds for future thought, I quickly mentioned how Jesus said he would resurrect the believer "on the last day" in John chapter 6. Indeed, Christ repeated the statement FOUR times in that chapter saying those that believe in Him will be raised from the dead on "the last day." (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54). I then asked the young man 'If the dead in Christ are raised at the last day, how then can that "last day" happen 7 years before the 2nd coming of Christ, and still be the last day?' (I Corinthians 15:51, I Thessalonians 4:16).
That was the "last" full sentence I was able to get out, as the young salesman quickly exploded in rage, and would not allow me to complete a single sentence after that. He immediately launched into what could only be called a very aggressive diatribe of how the land of Israel belongs to the Jews! He rapidly grew angrier and angrier, and denounced those that want to take "dominion." He never cited a single verse in Scripture, and after about a minute more of a one sided conversation, he screamed at me and abruptly hung up the phone! Noting that he had called me to sell our ministry some books, and having some background in sales, I shook my head and said aloud "this was not a very good sales call!"
After the intense exchange, I thought a bit about it and, once again, tried to evaluate what had just happened. I had never even mentioned Israel, nor the Jews, or even voiced a statement relative to land rights in the Middle East. The only thing I mentioned was the order of the resurrection - and yet the man's practically hysterical statements were completely focused on the issue of Jewish versus Palestinian claims to the historic land of Israel!
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).
What this interaction illustrates is how we can become so programmed into a particular perspective that when we encounter opposition, we fall into a pre-arranged, virtually automatic pattern of response. The phenomenon is not dissimilar to an old married couple that fights the same fight over and over. They might have a spat over something relatively recent and inconsequential, but they frequently end up falling into the behavioral abyss of rehashing something they've already clashed on repeatedly many years before.
In this case, experiential and doctrinal conditioning has programmed the young book salesman to believe that anyone who opposes the pre-tribulation rapture must be a dominionist, and is therefore against the Jewish people laying claim to their historic territory. This is nonsense, but because he can't think 'outside of the box' as the popular idiom states, he immediately leaped to the fallacious conclusion of his position - that the real issue of the so-called "rapture" is the pre-eminent political position of the Jews in the Middle East.
This is religious brainwashing of the very worst kind, because it assumes an opponent’s position before any intelligent inquiry begins. Indeed, with rapturists, in most cases the subject is not even open for a scripturally centered presentation. The fact is, while we are not dispensational (the technical term for the pre-tribulationists), we are not against Jewish control of that hotly contested tiny tract of land that has become "a burdensome stone for all people...." (Zechariah 12:3).
In this person's perspective, the issue of Jewish pre-eminence is so crucial to his worldview that he simply defers any scriptural examination of the weak foundation his conclusion is resting upon. Very few Christians realize that the reason the Rapturists fight so fiercely for pre-trib is not only because they have grave difficulty envisioning actually being in the tribulation, the Spirit that directs their thought processes knows that the doctrine is the lynchpin to a crucial understanding of prophetic fulfillment, which manifests the power of Antichrist.
To say it another way, the Spirit found in the son of perdition was sitting in that salesman’s temple on that occasion.
The point is, vast numbers of Christians blindly accept the ultimate conclusions of a theological system without a thorough examination of the full implications of the position they hold. I submit this is a classic characteristic of a cult.
Indeed, one of the reasons the rapture folks argue so strenuously concerning the so-called "ancient origin" of the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is the fact that the historical record clearly places the doctrine as emerging during the period when almost every other American cult system was developed. For instance, the Mormon religion, the cultic group known as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mary Baker Eddy's Gnostic originated Christian Science, and virtually all the other modern American rivals to Biblical Christianity were formed around the same period.
Groups such as the 7th Day Adventists, and subsequent splinter groups such as Herbert W Armstrong's Worldwide Church Of God, as well as the pseudo-Pentecostal group known as Branhamites were spiritually birthed during the explosive cult creating 19th century. Although evidence suggests there were earlier historical figures positing some variation of the rapture concept, an unbiased appraisal of the Rapture Cult conclusively demonstrates the origin of the present version of the Rapture Cult is derived from an 1830 Scottish cult that was involved in various spiritualist practices - including levitation. By denying the truth of these facts in order to sustain the desired political result of the system, the proponents of the doctrine have built their house on the shifting sand of false doctrine, and given the great deceiver an enormous stronghold from which to continue his nefarious work.
Although the Rapture Cult claims there are multiple “dispensations” of the Gospel, with one version for the Jews, and another for the “Church,” the New Testament clearly establishes there is one faith, one blood, one Gospel, and one salvation.
“There is ONE body, and ONE Spirit, even as ye are called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6, emphasis mine).
The writer of Hebrews, after referencing the lives of multiple Old Testament saints, including Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel), noted how they all looked forward in faith to the ONE Gospel:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them...” (Hebrews 11:13).
Doctrinal Distinctives As Building Blocks
Thus we know that the Rapture Cult lie of "dispensations" (read eras, or appointed time periods) which segregates salvation between Jews and Gentiles, was engineered in the bottomless pit. We also know the Cult lie was part of a requisite wave of false doctrine which produces a portion of the components necessary for the process of bundling the tares of this world, which are scheduled to be comprised of Gentiles and Jews who erroneously believe they are on the right track:
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).
Having long ago established that no error is random, but specifically designed to provide modularized doctrinal components needed by the dragon for his end game, we further understand that in the Cult wars of the 19th and 20th centuries, the adjacent heretical groups which emerged (notably British-Israelism, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormonism), also planted the seeds required for the final rise of the Spirit of Antichrist.
The so-called "Witnesses" task was to mask the fact that the 144,000 are indeed a peculiar body of end-time's Christians; and this objective wildly succeeded, as most "believers" now associate anyone who recognizes the Spiritual identity of the group in Revelation as having a "cultic" orientation. In an irony of ironies, the cult of Jehovah's Witnesses has marred the truth of the 144,000, and caused it to be perceived as an aberrant doctrine.
To approach this same thought from another direction, while most "believers" recognize how Satan can wrap a poison pill of false doctrine in enough truth to make it palatable, they fail to see how that same Devil can surround a crucial kernel of truth with obvious layers of lies – easily refuted prevarications which were subtly charged with keeping the believers from considering the hidden core of truth. Both are dialectical mechanisms which consist of variations in the admixture of lies and truth known as the lukewarm center, as seen in Christ's words in Revelation.
Even as the JW's distorted the identity of the 144,000, the British-Israelite doctrine spread throughout Europe, with the idea the alleged "lost tribes" (the Northern ten tribes dispersed by the Assyrians around 756 BC), were first settled in trans-Caucasia, then moved through Britain, and ultimately most of Western Europe.
The Mormon manifestation of this doctrinal deceit is a North American variant of the British-Israelism which leavened significant portions of European Christianity, and that demonic principality quietly convinced millions of Mormons they are all descended from Ephraim, perhaps the premier tribe of the aforementioned ten Northern tribes.
At the top of this composting pile of doctrinal dung is the winner of the Cult sweepstakes we've dubbed the Rapture Cult.
Filled with love for everything but the truth, the Cult that kidnapped Christianity finally pierced the inner sanctuary of Spiritual truth, in which the body of Christ knew the elect of God were to be exclusively identified with the believers in JESUS CHRIST. As the various cult systems clashed with each other, the infernal Dialectical energy which empowers all of them provided fuel for the cancerous leaven, and it has progressively grown to the hideous monstrosity we call the "Church" today.
The Inevitable Falling Away
Ironically, thousands of preachers every single day, already long immersed in the prophesied "falling away" from the truth, continue to warn their respective flocks about the soon to come "falling away!" As the Rapturists form the largest single group, the dominant view of this apostasia (the Greek word rendered as "falling away" in II Thessalonians) says this phenomenon is a quantifiable period of 7 years – a convenient sequence since the Rapture Cult is then able to insert their fictional pre-tribulation rapture as the trigger to the prophesied departure from the truth.
Few have been able to even conceive of the fact that not only is there no verse anywhere specifying a 7 year period of apostasy, there is nothing to preclude this falling away coinciding with the Culting of Christianity – a process which has now been underway for a very long time – notwithstanding the fact that it has positively galloped onto the world scene in the wake of World War II. After all, logic dictates that in the two thousand years since the cross, if the last one to two centuries in history actually encompasses the prophesied "latter days" when this Spiritual departure from the truth of the Gospel is to occur, it still amounts to less than 10% of the entire period of Christian history. Indeed, the last two thousand years would even qualify as the last third of man’s 6 millennia sojourn in this realm.
The assumption that the prophesied falling away must be the fictional 7 year tribulation is roughly akin to the distortion of what the prophet Jeremiah called "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7). There is not even a hint this "time" is 7 years, or 3 ½ years, or even 10 minutes in the text. Furthermore, in the wake of what "Jacob" himself has called the signature event known as the black horse led Holocaust, it's singularly amazing that hardly any believers ever even mention the possibility that this hideous tragedy was the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy.
The answer to this enigma is found in the fact that the prophesied leavening of the Kingdom of God, as expressed in the body of Christ, has an ultimate destination; and by pushing "Jacob's trouble" into a future event identified with the tribulation, the perspective provides an additional support mechanism for the spurious idea that the end time's tribulation is focused on the Jewish people.
The fact is, a Scripturally astute researcher can trace doctrinal threads in every cult movement back to the Judaean rejection of Jesus Christ which occurred so long ago. For instance, most have heard of the Gnostics, but only a literate few are actually aware of how the mysticism which ravaged the first few generations of Christians was resurrected in Euro-American occult movements in the 19th century – the very period I've been addressing.
"Christian" occultism was directly related to the Jewish embrace of Egyptian mystery religion which emerged in the last two millennia before Christ. Explosively emanating out of a Jewish colony in Alexandria, Egypt, the falling away from the Israelite religion among the Jewish Gnostics in the late centuries before the cross, anticipated a repetition of the pattern in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The contemporary Culting of Christianity is comprised of a series of progressive steps, and the common denominator, while not always obvious, is an overriding inertia leading the entire world back to Jerusalem’s ground zero, in the nation's efforts to avert Armageddon.
It rarely occurs to Christians that the so called "Watchtower" society's emphasis on legalism has a clear relationship to a works oriented form of salvation – a theological tenet which originated with Israel. Although Mormonism is a bizarre blend of Masonic lore, coupled with a thoroughly fictional "Christian" series of traditions, the unwritten thread in the Latter Day Saints is their alleged descent from Ephraim – a tribe of Israel.
The 7th Day Adventist corporate cult, has undergone multiple doctrinal transformations, but in its most basic form, their undue emphasis on the Sabbath is clearly related to the 10 Commandments which, of course, originated through the family of Israel.
The Christian Science cult regurgitated by one Mary Baker Eddy, sought to separate Jesus the man from the Christ spirit (you too can be Christ!), and it is directly linked to the Gnostic lore imported from the Alexandrian Jews. Herbert W Armstrong's Worldwide Church Of God (now splintered into multiple smaller corporate cults), engineered a hodgepodge of Jehovah's Witness, 7th Day Adventist, and British-Israelite doctrines which, you guessed it, emphasize the resilient lost tribe myth, and how the Europeans and the North Americans are supposedly descended from the lost tribes of Israel.
The largest cult of all is the Rapture Cult, and in that particular abomination, all roads lead to the alleged Rapture, so God can supposedly correct His failure to redeem his “true” chosen people, the Jews.
Space precludes a dissertation on the cult of Mary which penetrated Roman Catholicism so long ago, and the various "Protestant" denominational structures are simply variations on a Pope-less incorporated hierarchy – as exposed in the power struggle between the English Presbyterians (presbyters denoting “elders) and the Anglicans, the latter whose Popish like head was the king of England, in the days of Charles I (1600-1649). As systemic theologies such as the Methodists clashed with the Rapture ridden Baptists, new hybrid cults have continually been generated, frequently known as the "Reformed" version of its predecessor.
Invariably, each cult at its very core is all about identity – even though some deviously attempt to mischaracterize their primary description via their respective cardinal doctrines. Furthermore, in addition to the fact that doctrinal threads from every cult system have a corollary of one type or another which is inexorably leading the world to the abyss, the very process of the Culting of Christianity is to diminish the finished work of Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all who are called to salvation in Him.
Ultimately, the Kingdom of God, as manifested in the body of Christ, was to be fragmented and fractured until the theologically pummeled body was exclusively composed of the metaphoric "salt" which has lost its savor. Very few have fully realized the Spiritual implications of Christ’s parable, as leaven is always seen as a symbol of sin, for it concludes that even the kingdom of God is to be compromised in the last days.
"The Kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Matthew 13:33).
Once this mad assortment of potpourri religion has reached its apex, and become a repository of every unclean and hateful bird, the only course of action is to come out of her – and it is self evident that time is now. However, that phase of the Culting of Christianity will have to wait for another day.
-- James Lloyd
[The previous essay is excerpted from the forthcoming book of the same name]