Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson and Jehovah's Witnesses

Paul Blizard has been a longtime friend of Watchman Fellowship. He is a former third generation ex-Jehovah’s Witness who today preaches the gospel as the pastor of one of West Virginia’s largest churches. His comments on the recent death of Michael Jackson are not only very interesting but also will give you insights into life as a Jehovah’s Witness.

"There but for the Grace of God go I”

This past week a great talent and a giant in the music industry died at fifty years old. What a tragic loss! Yes, I’m talking about Michael Jackson. Like many of you, I grew up with his music that spanned almost forty years. I realize that cable news is giving his death wall-to-wall coverage. But I also have some things to say about him. You may not know this, but those of us who are former Jehovah’s Witnesses have some insight into his life and know why he was so strange. The Jackson children were all taken to the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall when they were young. As far as I know, only his sisters, Latoya, Janet and Michael became official Jehovah’s Witnesses. If it hadn’t been for their mother Catherine they would not have been exposed to the religion. Their father, Joseph, was not a Jehovah’s Witness and was the driving force who pushed them into the music industry. They were torn between two worlds. Imagine the life. Jehovah’s Witnesses prohibit any kind of lifestyle or career in the arts, yet here they were, totally involved in the music industry. Their lives caused quite a stir in the Jehovah’s Witness religion. In fact, as teenagers we would always point to Michael and the contradictions of his life. On one hand, he claimed to be a Jehovah’s Witness on the other he was doing what we could not do. It was not only hard on the Jehovah’s Witness leaders; it was difficult for every family within the community. Parents were always trying to explain why we could not be recording artists and performers. Yet, Michael was the problem they could not escape from.

The Watchtower officially took no stand because of the notoriety of Michael and of course his money. I remember in the late 1970’s when Michael was a becoming a superstar. I was at the Watchtower headquarters in New York. He and his family came through the headquarters on a tour of the facilities. It was all the buzz. We were ordered not to ask for autographs, but many did. I only saw him from a distance as his group passed through our building. Years later, when I was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, she asked me during the commercial break about some of the things I was saying about the restrictions in the Jehovah’s Witness religion. Oprah asked me, “Paul, I know Michael Jackson, he is a Jehovah’s Witness, he gives birthday gifts and celebrates Christmas. What about that?” I said, “Well, Oprah, I wouldn’t say this on the air, but it has to do with his millions and what he gives to the organization. He lives by a different standard. That’s the hypocrisy of the religion.” As soon as we came back from the break, in front of millions, Oprah put me on the spot by asking me the same question. I framed my answer carefully and made a hand gesture about money rather than directly making that claim. I certainly didn’t want to be sued by the Jacksons. A few months later, Catherine Jackson, Michael’s mother, wrote a book, My Life With The Jacksons, where she made reference to my comments as being false.

The weirdness of Jackson came later. He never did have a childhood because of the religion and his contradictory life in the music business. Not many know this, but being a good Jehovah’s Witness, he would put on disguises and go from door-to-door selling Watchtower magazines and books. He had several outfits he would wear. On the set of “Thriller” he had a Watchtower elder present who would approve of every move. Of course the occult themes were certainly over the top and we protested. The original “Thriller” album had printed warnings stating, “I do not endorse or promote the occult. “ Again, the contradiction. Finally, because of the tremendous pressure, Michael resigned from the Jehovah’s Witness religion. I prayed for him often to find Jesus Christ as Savior, yet it did not happen. Contrary to the rules, he kept in touch with his mother and other family who were Jehovah’s Witnesses, again the hypocrisy. If any of us who have left the religion had contact with our families they would be disfellowshipped (shunned).

I have observed his life and have prayed for him often. Again, the weirdness was due to his involvement with the religion and the constant guilt he lived with. Without Jesus Christ we are empty. He is the only One who gives us fulfillment and peace. Michael did not have it. He gave millions to causes, probably trying to relieve the guilt of trying to please the God of his mother, yet could not. Last year, for whatever reason, he finally converted to Islam.

What would his life been like if he knew Jesus? We can only say he would be in heaven today. He also would not have had to live through the torment of trying to serve a god and a religion, which demands so much. He would have been able to live life knowing that God loved him just the way he was. Jesus makes all the difference.

Yet, we dare not judge…”There but for the Grace of God go I”

Paul’s is the senior pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley, West Virginia.


Paul’s testimony and many resources on the subject of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be read at his website. I highly recommend you read his testimony.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Scientology Getting Bad Press

In the early to mid 90’s Watchman Fellowship ventured into the subject of Scientology and caught the attention of that “church.” Reprinted below is an article outlining the resulting legal skirmishes with them.

Scientology Threatens Watchman with "OT" Lawsuit

In a letter dated 9 February 1996, Helena Kobrin, an attorney representing Scientology's "Religious Technology Center" renewed legal threats against Watchman Fellowship. Kobrin alleges that Watchman is in possession of, and thereby could theoretically distribute copies of, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's top-secret Operating Thetan (OT) literature. Thus, Kobrin claims, Watchman is in violation of the US Copyright laws, as well as "trade secret and unfair competition laws."

In her original threat dated 13 June 1995, Kobrin warned of immediate legal action including "damages, an injunction, and impounding of materials and equipment used in perpetrating the infringing acts."

Kobrin's February 9th letter is the latest of six letters written to Watchman Fellowship or attorneys representing our ministry concerning this issue. In one letter dated 29 June 1995, Kobrin gave a detailed description making it appear that Scientologists or agents of the church may have gained access to Watchman Fellowship's Texas office without our knowledge.

Watchman Fellowship has not violated any copyright or trade secret laws - nor do we have any plans to violate such laws. We are not engaged in "unfair competition" with the Church of Scientology or any of its corporate entities. This attack, we believe, is one more example of Scientology's long history of using the legal system to persecute those who disagree with their theology.

Perhaps Scientologists are trying to use this issue as a pretense to search and seize Watchman's files, computers, and confidential counseling correspondence. Or perhaps their motive is found in the words of their founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who said, "...beware of attorneys who tell you not to sue...the purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win." (Time, 6 May 1991, p. 38)

Earlier Lawsuits

Scientologists have already sued Watchman Fellowship on two earlier occasions. In 1992, Watchman Fellowship's Southeastern director Craig Branch, the Cult Awareness Network, and several others were named in a $9.5 million lawsuit filed by Sterling Management Systems (SMS). Sterling was named by Time magazine as one of Scientology's "front groups and financial scams." (Ibid., p. 54) Watchman's portion of the suit was quashed by a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge. Last year, Sterling Management System lost the whole suit. (Cult Awareness Network News, September 1995, p. 1)

Again in 1992 the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology filed another lawsuit against Watchman Fellowship. Among other claims, the suit accused Watchman Fellowship of involvement in a conspiracy of illegal activities including detaining a client of the Church of Scientology, Glover Rowe, against his will and forcing him to breach his contract with Scientology. Of course, no one at Watchman Fellowship endorses or engages in any form of kidnapping or involuntary "deprogramming." Ironically, Glover Rowe claimed that it was Scientologists, not Watchman Fellowship, that were guilty of falsely imprisoning him and his wife and intentionally inflicting emotional stress on his family. (Cherokee County Herald, 12 December 1990, pp. 1A, 5A)

As far as we know, the two lawsuits in 1992 represent the first time the Church of Scientology or its related businesses have sued a Christian organization.

Scientology's 1992 legal attacks against Watchman Fellowship were reported in Christianity Today. In their article, an attorney defending Watchman, Eric Johnston of the Rutherford Institute, stated, "this kind of case carries significant implications of censorship on the freedom of religion and freedom of speech guaranteed for religious organizations." He explained, "One of the questions is whether Christian organizations have the right...to publicly speak out against groups that are in conflict with their faith and/or who fraudulently represent themselves as compatible with Christianity." (Christianity Today, 24 February 1992, p. 60)

Speaking of lawsuits, here is a link to a segment from Boston Legal that will give you an entertaining explanation of Scientology beliefs.


The St. Petersburg Times has published a multi-faceted report of the recent exit of four high-ranking Scientologists. This is perhaps the biggest story to come out on Scientology since Time magazine ran their expose’ in the 90’s. You can read, or view, their stories at this link;


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Deliverance? Ministries, Not The Movie.

I was asked, “do you believe in deliverance/healing ministry?”

My reply was…

I think 90% of deliverance ministries are fear based, and devil-centered. Let me explain. Once we become Christians our focus thereafter is always on Christ. We are not given a spirit of fear of the devil, demons, curses, etc. We are to keep our eyes on Christ and keep our life moving toward Him. If we take our eyes off Jesus and start looking for demons and curses we become like Peter when he walked on the water. He took his eyes off Christ and sank.

Christ is our Protector. If we have any sin problem (curse, demonic oppression, etc.) He will address it in our heart through His Spirit and His Word.

Deliverance ministries lead to fear because they are not focused on Jesus. They are focused on the enemy and his ways. That is why Romans 16:19 tells us regarding evil “be simple." We should not be overly interested in the devil or his activities because we are not equipped to fight him. Only Jesus can fight that battle for us and that is why we must stay focused on Him.

I hope I answered your question.”

The emailer wrote back and said,…

This makes all the sense in the world. I have never heard this before. After I was saved 10 years ago, I felt freedom, peace, and joy I had never known. When I got involved in ministry at (church name withheld), my relationship with the Lord subtly changed into one of fear because of this very thing. We were constantly having prayer meetings... binding, rebuking, "casting out", yelling at the devil. I never had a pure feeling about this but was taught it was our "responsibility" and if you were being oppressed it was because you weren't "warfaring" as you should. This brought in a lot of fear and strife. You are right, now I see how much the devil was being glorified over the Lord. My eyes turned to the power of Satan and away from the power of the Christ.

Thanks again for your answer. The Lord has been so good to use your ministry to get me back on track and like Peter, when the Lord restores me, I will turn back and help restore my brother (and sister).

In my reading on the subject I found an article by Bob DeWaay describing the problems with deliverance ministries. Bob was one of them in the past, a deliverance counselor. He had “cast out” many demons from Christians but came to realize that he was addressing the wrong problem. He describes the problem as being one of worldviews. Is your view of spiritual realities one of warfare with evil spirits, or is it that God is sovereign and evil can’t touch you unless it is in God’s sovereign purpose? It makes a world of difference.

DeWaay described his work in deliverance counseling as being knowledgeable and proficient in the "rules" of spiritual warfare. As I read the article I had images in my mind of deliverance counselors being analogous to shamans and witchdoctors. In animist religions the shaman and witchdoctor knows the special rules, incantations, and potions that will fight off the evil spirits. Just as the Liberian children whose parents put the Juju strings around them to protect them, so the deliverance counselor prescribes practices, rules, and prayers that will protect the Christian from evil spirits.

Deliverance ministries teach that we open the door to demonic possession/oppression by our willing contact with evil things. Well, if that is the case what can I say about my library? I have hundreds of books from cultic, occult, and New Age sources. Also, our family brought back lots of souvenirs from Liberia. Among them are African masks which were probably used in animist religion. I saw those masks in my Dad’s back yard years ago and asked him about them. He said he put them out there because he was going to burn them. He said they represented an open door for Satan to attack. I told my Dad what Paul said about idols in 1 Corinthians 8:4, that “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.” My Dad said, “Well you take them then.” I’ve been fine ever since.

Here is the link to Bob DeWaay’s article. It is a bit long but worth every minute.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Doctrine Quiz

A test very similar to this was given to a class on Christian apologetics at a Christian high school. The results revealed serious misunderstandings at the most basic levels. Research in recent years by the Barna Research Group has shown many Christians hold views discordant with historic Christian orthodoxy. For example, they recently asked whether absolute moral truths change according to the circumstances. Only 22% believed in the existence of absolute moral truth. That is a significant drop from 38% at the beginning of 2000.


1. Is the word “Trinity” in the Bible? ___ Yes ___ No

2. Is the Father alone God? ___ Yes ___ No

3. Is Jesus Christ God equally with the Father? ___ Yes ___ No

4. Is the Holy Spirit God equally with the Father? ___ Yes ___ No

5. How many Gods are there? ______

6. Jesus today is…, ___ A man only ___ Divine only ___ Divine and human

7. Are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the same Person? ___Yes ___ No

8. Is the Holy Spirit a personage like the Father? ___ Yes ___ No

9. Which of the following is a correct statement?
The Trinity is defined as,
___ Three Gods in one?
___ Three Persons in one God?
___ Three Persons in one Person?

10. Which of the following are omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent?
___ Father ___ Son ___ Holy Spirit (Mark all that are correct)

11. Is the Father “greater” than the Son? ___ Yes ___ No

12. Is the Father “better” than the Son? ___ Yes ___ No

13. Did the Father create the Son? ___ Yes ___ No

14. Is Jesus Almighty? ___ Yes ___ No

15. When Jesus became man He…
___ Set aside His divinity ___ Added humanity to His divinity

16. How did Jesus rise from the grave?
___ In the same crucified body ___ A spirit ___ A different body

17. Who raised Jesus from the dead? (Mark all that are correct)
___ Father ___ Jesus ___ Holy Spirit

18. How important is the doctrine of the Trinity?
___ Most ___ Very ___ Somewhat ___ Not very ___ Not

19. Do you believe the Trinity can be proven from the Bible? ___ Yes ___ No

20. Can you show the Trinity from the Bible? ___ Yes ___ No

Bonus Question. Would you like to know more about the Trinity? ___ Yes ___ No

Answers and Discussion

1. Answer: No. However, it’s absence is irrelevant because the doctrine of the Trinity is there. The word was coined to express the concept of three within one. Many other words that express biblical doctrines do not occur within the text of scripture such as theocracy, millennium, and rapture.

2. Answer: No. See Isaiah 48:12-16 where Jehovah (speaking) says He is being sent by Jehovah (the Father) and His (Holy) Spirit.

3. Answer: Yes. If Jesus were not fully divine, or equal in His nature with the Father, then His sacrifice for us on Calvary would be insufficient. Also, Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). No finite, or created, being could ever compare themselves with the infinite God.

3 and 4. Answer: Yes. All three Persons of the Trinity are equal in their nature and attributes. Each is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. The Holy Spirit is a personal being, having the attributes of personality, and is also eternal (Hebrews 9:14). Example; If the Spirit is an eternal Person then He necessarily must be divine and equal with the Father for only God is eternal.

5. Answer: One. The ‘threeness’ of the Trinity refers to the Persons. The unity of the Trinity refers to the essence, nature, or, that which makes God be God. The essence or nature of God is not divisible into three parts which many of the analogies to the Trinity imply (i.e., egg, water, etc.).

6. Answer: Divine and human. Philippians 2:6 and 7 says of Jesus that He was, “…in the form of God…. But…took upon himself the form of a servant.” The word “upon” is a word indicating addition to what He already was. Also, I Timothy 2:5 says there is “one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” So, today in heaven our mediator is a man who is also eternal deity.

7. Answer: No. The three Persons of the Trinity exist simultaneously. This is illustrated in the baptism of Jesus described by Matthew 3:16,17 which says, “…and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son….” All three Persons are in this event proving they are not the same Person. Also, refer again to Isaiah 48:12-16 where all three Persons of the Trinity are represented in an Old Testament passage.

8. Answer: Yes. The Holy Spirit has the attributes of personality, intellect (I Corinthians 12:8), emotion (I Thessalonians 1:6) and will (I Corinthians 12:11) just as does the Father.

9. Answer: Three Persons in one God. Heretical groups teach three persons in one person (United Pentecostals teach modalism and Jesus Only), and three gods in one god (Mormonism).

10. Answer: All Three. Each Person of the Godhead is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present.

11. Answer: Yes. However, the term ‘greater’ must be understood in their positional relation to one another. The Father is the “first” Person of the Trinity, the Son is the “second” and the Spirit the “third.” However, each is equal in every attribute of deity. Just as a President is ‘greater’ than a Vice President so the Father is “greater” than the Son.

12. Answer: No. The term ‘better’ implies superior in some fundamental way as in a superior being. Jesus is “better” than the angels (Hebrews 1:4) because is a superior being to them.

13. Answer: No. The Father “begat” the Son which is an eternal relationship but He did not create the Son in any sense of the word.

14. Answer: Yes. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

15. Answer: Jesus added humanity to His divinity. Many Christians incorrectly assume that when Jesus left heaven to be born of Mary He set aside His deity for the time He was here. That is not the case. He “Made himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7) which means that He set aside the shekinah glory and His prerogatives as deity to relate to us on a human level. In that way we can follow His example because He relied upon the Holy Spirit as we are supposed to.

16. Answer: In the same crucified body. Jesus said at John 2:19-21, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up…. But he spake of the temple of his body.” When Jesus said these words the body He was referring to was the one He lived His life in, the one the disciples knew. Therefore, the term “it” in the above verse must refer to that same body. To interpret it otherwise would mean Jesus was lying to His disciples.

17. Answer: All Three Persons in the Trinity raised Jesus from the dead. In the verse cited above Jesus said He would raise His own body from the grave. Acts 2:24 says, “Whom God hath raised up….” Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

18. Answer: Most. The doctrine of God is the foundational doctrine in any religion. In Christian doctrine everything flows from the nature of God. Understanding any doctrine of the Christian faith begins with understanding the Trinity and the attributes of God. It is the foundation of our faith and Christ is the Chief Cornerstone.

19. Answer: Yes. The method to use to demonstrate the Trinity is fourfold. First, to show there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). Second, to show that the Father is called God (1 Peter 1:17). Third, to show that Jesus is called God (John 1:1). And finally, to show that the Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3,4). The conclusions possible are 1) That the Bible is hopelessly contradictory, or 2) That the three Persons are the One God.

20: Answer: You can now!

Bonus Question: Answer: YES.


Without a solid understanding of our doctrinal basics our ability to discern truth from error is severely limited. This is why so many “winds of doctrine” blow through the church and lead people into error and bondage.

Your comments on this quiz are very welcome. We believe such a quiz as this can be an instructive tool. First to learn about our foundational doctrines, and second to show us where we need to grow.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Motivating Power of Fear

When dealing with anyone from a cult it is important to understand that they are not as free as other people. They are under the bondage of fear. Their minds have been captured by techniques of mind control that allows them to declare black to be white apparently without seeing a problem. Dr. Robert J. Lifton described eight mind control techniques used by the communists against our Korean War POWs. Each of the eight criteria is based on some element of fear.

One might ask, “What is it that would cause a person to remain in an organization that produces so much tension, so many struggles, and frequent doubts? Why don’t they just get out?” Well, for many the answer is FEAR. The fear of losing everything that they hold dear to them, including their friends, family, and salvation.

For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Watchtower organization acts as the “voice of Jehovah” for them. The fear of being “disfellowshipped” threatens them with losing everything they have come to know as a way of life, and the thought of being ostracized by friends and family is simply too much for many of them to risk getting out.

The thought of turning one’s back on God and receiving His judgment for it because of some temporary struggles is too great a price to pay. They will resort to a form of equity rescuing to avoid that decision.

In his book Behind the Watchtower Curtain, David Reed, an ex-Jehovah's Witness, explains the effects of this fear. “There are also broken homes, youngsters deprived of a higher education, families separated by mistrust, and millions of people living lives of guilt and fear. There is a whole ‘nation’ of people living under a totalitarian ‘kingdom’ government that denies them freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of conscience."

Jehovah’s Witnesses, like all other cultists, will vigorously deny these allegations. Their reasoning is much like the 'doublethink' in George Orwell's book, 1984. The chains that bind them are fastened on the mind, instead of on the wrists. Mind control can function like the person put under a spell by a hypnotist, when they open their eyes they will be ‘wide awake, happy, and refreshed,’ not realizing that a mind controlling 'post-hypnotic suggestion' planted in their minds must remain there to control their conduct.”

Psychologists really are on target in pointing out fear as a motivator. Dr. Jay Adams in his pamphlet, “What Do You Do When Fear Overcomes You?”, says “…fear may get such a tight grip upon you that at times it may seem to be some powerful force from the outside that takes you captive. Because of fear, people have changed jobs, moved from one city to another, sealed themselves in houses, killed, and fled to mental institutions. Because of the fear of cats or bridges or elevators or other people, people have developed styles of life that are weird and unfruitful. Fear of this sort, fear out of control (or would it be better said, fear in complete control), is the fear that you have come to fear.”

It is necessary for Christians who witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses, or anyone in such a high control group, to remember that they are under such bondage. Unconditional love and a non-judgmental attitude will help to soften their heart to you as a person who is interested in them personally. Sharing information with a respectful attitude may give them reason to begin thinking for themselves again. But in the final analysis it is the Holy Spirit Who will open their eyes and heart. So pray for them as you “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Patterns In The Cults

In every religious group there are certain doctrines or practices that define the public’s knowledge of them. However, when discerning whether any group is orthodox or heterodox there are certain criteria that must be considered because they touch on the very definition of Christianity. Such issues as the Person and work of Christ, the authority of the Bible, and the place of grace in our relationship to God and man are determinative to our definition.

To address these foundational issues Watchman Fellowship associates the four basic functions of math, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, to the most common characteristics of the sect in question. This association will make recall at a later date far easier thus giving the definition a practical value when it comes time to discern or teach.

The association is that cultic groups will…

Add to the Word of God

Subtract from the Person of Christ

Multiply works for salvation, and

Divide their followers loyalties between God and man.

Before addressing these cultic errors Christian orthodoxy on these topics should be defined.

The Bible is the complete Word of God. It is sufficient for all knowledge of God as well as man’s sinful condition and must not be added to by man’s words (Proverbs 30:5-6, Revelation 22:18).

Jesus is the Son of God, and like His Father, He is eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He shares the same nature of deity with the Father and Holy Spirit.

Salvation is a free gift. As such it cannot be earned, merited, or received or kept based upon any qualification in man. Our works are performed as a response of love for the gift of God already received.

Our first, and foremost, loyalty belongs to God. There are lesser loyalties to family, friends, country, church, etc., but all must bow to the first. This loyalty must be given freely by the individual Christian and not demanded by outsiders for it to be genuine.

How Cults Add To The Word of God

There are three methods of adding to the Word of God found among cults. The first is by additional scriptures. The Mormons are the easiest example of this with their Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, and official statements by the General Authorities of the LDS Church.

Another group is the Moonies with their Divine Principle.

The second way in which cults add to the Word of God is by adding words to the Bible to change its meaning. The Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses are the best example. At John 1:1 they add the word “a” before “God” in clause C to make Jesus “a god” instead of simply “God.” Also, in Colossians 1 they have added the word “other” five times to change the message that Jesus is the Creator of “all things” to being the creator of “all other things,” hence implying He is one of the things created.

The third way cults add to the Word of God is by what could be called inspired commentary. Though not considered scripture this commentary on what the Bible says is considered binding upon everyone in the cult.

Individuals interpreting scripture according to their own knowledge and conscience as directed by the Holy Spirit is forbidden. To permit it would ultimately lead to the cult being challenged from within on doctrinal issues.

This inspired commentary is frequently the written work of the cult founder. Because the founders are held by the membership in great esteem their writings are also revered as a “message from God.” They frequently take on greater weight as time goes by because they gain the aura of tradition in the cult. However, sometimes these writings are dismissed or removed from circulation because a second-generation leader wants the reverence of the followers for himself. This happened when Judge Rutherford succeeded Watchtower founder Charles Taze Russell. Russell’s Studies in the Scriptures were eventually replaced with Rutherford’s writings.

The writings of Seventh-day Adventist founder Ellen G. White are considered to be inspired commentary. They are binding on Adventist doctrine. Among the SDA this belief is called “the spirit of prophecy” that allegedly resided upon White as she wrote.

It is interesting that Jesus found Himself frequently at odds with the “tradition of the elders” of Israel. Those “traditions” were the legalistic extensions of the Law developed by the Pharisees and others. Even though truth is just that, truth, it is intended by God to be constantly examined. By the process of objective examination and open discussion the inroads of untruth can be discerned and dealt with. Also, by continual application of scripture to ever-changing cultural conditions the trap of legalistic tradition can be avoided. It is we who become legalists, not the scripture. Such a process as this is anathema in all cults. The control of information and open discussion is therefore central to the way they operate.

How Cults Subtract From Christ

In the war between God and Satan the identity of the Person of Christ is one of the two most frequent battlegrounds.

The other battleground is His work on Calvary and how that works out for our salvation.

If Jesus is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal and infinitely perfect then nothing can be added to exalt Him greater than He deserves. Therefore, it is to be expected that the tactic of Satan will be to diminish Him in the eyes of potential believers. By that means their faith will be falsely based in someone other than the biblical Christ.

They will place their faith in “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4) who cannot save.
Various cults teach a “Jesus” who is a god, a prophet, an angel sent from God, even the “Son of God” if the term “Son” is defined by them as less than God in His nature.

The deity of Christ and the Trinity are fully affirmed in scripture. The cults are unfamiliar with the large volume of scripture that teaches on the subject. That is because the cult leaders have effectively controlled the information available to their members, or, they have provided guided tours through the Bible so as to avoid its clear teaching.

This practice is clearly seen in the Watchtower’s booklet The Trinity: Should You Believe It? The booklet is filled with scholastic dishonesty as illustrated in our witnessing manual, The Watchtower Strikes Again (available through our catalog).

Some doctrinally dangerous teachings have even crept into orthodox circles. One says that Jesus ceased to be God for the three days His body was in the grave. Another error by those who have not been taught assumes He laid aside His deity while on earth.

How The Cults Multiply Works For Salvation

The logical effect of subtracting from Christ’s deity is that the death on Calvary of this “other” Jesus is insufficient to save completely. Therefore, some works must be added to it.

The “works righteousness” mindset is consistent with the way man functions in almost every other area of life. “You don’t get something for nothing” is a cliché, but true, most of the time. However, it ruins the gospel when they are mixed (Galatians 3:1-6).

Cults are all about power and control of their members. They severely restrict what their followers are permitted to do. They leave little to conscience or personal conviction. To violate the restrictions is to risk salvation according to the teachings of most cults.

But the things the followers are required to do almost always involves money. Such things as going door to door with their literature (unpaid salesmen), selling flowers and trinkets on the streets, triple tithing, selling all you have and giving the money to the cult, and many more. Having a doctrine of salvation that requires works fits in nicely with the fleshly appetites of leaders.

Cult leaders are frequently people with psychological profiles that make them dangerous when they have significant control over other people. The more dramatic examples have been seen prominently in the news coverage of suicide cults in recent years. Jim Jones seemed to feed on the submission of the People’s Temple followers. To satisfy his need for control he required ever greater acts of submission until the ultimate act of suicide. Unaccountable power over others is ultimately self destructive both for the leader and the group.

How Cults Divide Their Followers Loyalty

Our highest loyalty can only, and must always, be to God. That does not eliminate lesser loyalties but it does qualify them. The result of such qualifying is a hierarchy of loyalties that can come into conflict with each other. Such conflict arose when the High Priest and Council commanded the Apostles to not teach about Jesus. Peter answered by saying “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

The authoritarians in cults will say that God has set up this religion, its system, and its leaders; therefore, you disobey God by disobeying the leaders.

The power of this argument is that it has an element of truth (Hebrews 13:17). The fallacy in the argument, however, is that it is not absolute. The duly constituted spiritual authority, the Council in Jerusalem, had ordered Peter and the Apostles to keep quiet. The Apostles, because of that hierarchy of loyalties, disobeyed.

During World War II should a German Christian have obeyed his legal authority and helped in genocide? Certainly not. However, the Nazi war criminals used this “legal authority” in their defense at the Nuremberg trials. It didn’t work for them at Nuremberg. Do we think it will work before God? We are all equally responsible before God for our obedience to the Truth.

The Apostle Paul not only condoned, but also encouraged, Christians to question, to challenge, his teaching. Paul was secure in the truth so he didn’t fear such an examination. It is the insecure that fear it and construct man-made doctrines to prevent examination.

Insecurity comes from many quarters. First, it comes from false doctrine and questioning will reveal it as such. Second, it comes from personal insecurity based upon ignorance of the truth and questioning will reveal that too.

Third, it comes from an attitude of authoritarianism where questioning is considered, ‘a priori’, as disobedience and disloyalty.
In the cults this authoritarianism is promoted by the use of subtle techniques which we now call mind control. It begins in the individual with the acceptance of a premise. That premise can say, “This is God’s organization, our doctrine is true, and God speaks to us through the organization.”

Once this is accepted the next step is to train the individual in the top down method of control. God controls the organization and its top leaders; the top leaders control the information and lower level leaders. The lower level leaders then impose the organizational and doctrinal system they received on the local congregation. The leaders at the lower levels become the enforcers for the top leaders.

In such a system the individual has no authority. He is at the bottom of the ladder and on the receiving end of the high control authority. He is periodically tested for his loyalty, not necessarily by design, but because the system is based upon falsehoods and issues of loyalty will necessarily arise. His only relief is to submit and adjust, get out, or go up the ladder and become one of the enforcers. Most submit and adjust and their loyalty to God is thus compromised, divided, and their conscience is seared and even more resistant to truth.


“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

People believe the false doctrines they are taught by false teachers because they don’t know enough about the truth to spot the error. They submit to abusive authority because they don’t know the grace and freedom for believers as taught in the Bible. Once in the mind-controlling milieu of a cult they are in a bondage from which they see no relief, and worse, like the frog in the kettle they don’t even know they are dying. Someone must help them. Watchman Fellowship exists for that purpose. Will you join us in holding out the Good News to those who are captive to the influence of False Spirituality?