• Eastern Bankruptcy Article by Dan Iverson

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2012

    My son, Danny, came home from his Japanese baseball practice exclaiming, “Dad, coach is making us worship the ground.” The coach had required them to bow toward the ground in worship. I called a Japanese pastor who said that this was indeed false worship. He reminded me that Japan is pantheistic, like Eastern religions generally. Everything is “god.” There is no distinction between the Creator and creation. In that worldview, it is proper to worship your playing field. This later became a problem for Danny at practice when he would not bow.The first error in Eastern religion is that … View Resource

  • For the Love of God and Man Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2009

    When Paul called the elders of Ephesus to meet him at Miletus for a final opportunity of fellowship and instruction, he warned them of serious problems that would emerge in the church. “I know,” he said, “that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30). Though he himself had planted and nurtured that church for nearly three years, he knew it was not immune to potentially devastating false teaching. In fact, he recognized that … View Resource

  • Confusing Truth and Fiction Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2006

    If you do much witnessing to people these days, you have probably run into this phenomenon: You tell them about Jesus, and they say something like, “Well, the church has twisted around what Jesus really said.” You press them on what they mean and what makes them think so, and they start telling you about a really good book they read that opened their eyes about Christianity, namely, The Da Vinci Code. The book is a novel, you might point out, topping the charts for best-selling fiction. That means, by its own admission, the book is not true. And yet, … View Resource

  • The Cults as Theological Judgment Article by Albert Mohler

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2005

    Writing early in the last century, J. K. Van Baalen argued that “the cults are the unpaid bills of the church.” Van Baalen’s influential work, The Chaos of the Cults, represented one of the first comprehensive efforts to evaluate the various cults of the day — Spiritism, Theosophy, Christian Science, Rosicrucianism, Swedenborgianism, Mormonism, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, among others — from the vantage point of orthodox Christianity. In Van Baalen’s analysis, orthodox Christianity had opened the door for the cults to proliferate throughout the culture. Sidelined by pragmatism, distracted by divisions, and committed to a “smallest common-denominator faith,” the … View Resource

  • Angels of Darkness Article by Kent Heimbigner

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2005

    Christ warned His disciples, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt. 15–16a). Like every word uttered by the mouth of the Lord, He speaks these words purposefully: He would not have warned us against “wolves in sheep’s clothing” if they posed no danger. Quite to the contrary, cults would draw those who hear them away from the one true, saving faith in Christ. To understand the danger cults present, consider Martin Luther’s explanation to the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “lead us not … View Resource

  • Modern Cultic Tendencies Article by Keith Mathison

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2005

    Since the nineteenth century, the U.S. has proven to have a cultural soil that is particularly well-suited to the growth and spread of diverse cultic movements. The nineteenth century alone witnessed the rise of numerous small cults as well as several significant ones, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons. A number of factors — discussed in another article in this issue of Tabletalk — help us to understand why this happened when it did. But what of our own era? Is there anything in our contemporary way of thinking, or way of living, that is similarly conducive to the … View Resource

  • No Other Gospel Article by Edmond Gruss

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2005

    As I write about the theological characteristics of cults, I think of my own ten-year involvement in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Deliverance from the organization and salvation came when I acknowledged my spiritual condition (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1) and placed my faith in the Christ of the Bible (John 20:28). Assurance of eternal life was found in Him alone (1 John 5:10–13). I also am reminded of many friends who have been delivered from the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults. How many cults there are today cannot be stated precisely. It has been estimated that there could be as many as … View Resource

  • The Cult of Personality Article by D.G. Hart

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2005

    Religious liberty is one aspect of American life that almost every citizen of the United States cherishes. Common is the pastoral prayer in any Protestant congregation that includes gratitude for the liberties that Christians enjoy, which permits them to worship free from government oversight or regulation. Even more typical is the Thanksgiving Day service in which ministers and church members openly acknowledge the benefits of a system of government that guarantees individuals the right to worship God according to the freedom of conscience. Yet, the downside of religious liberty is not always noticed. This is not to say that Christians … View Resource

  • A Snare in Your Midst Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2005

    When is a church not a church? This question has received various answers throughout history, depending on one’s perspective and evaluation of certain groups. There exists no monolithic interpretation of what constitutes a true church. However, in classic Christian orthodoxy certain standards have emerged that define what we call “catholic,” or universal, Christianity. This universal Christianity points to the essential truths that have been set forth historically in the ecumenical creeds of the first millennium and are part of the confession of virtually every Christian denomination historically. However, there are at least two ways in which a religious group fails … View Resource

  • Sects of Seduction Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2005

    From time to time I get a knock on the door from two exuberant representatives of one of the local cult chapters. Although such visits have become less frequent in recent years, it is generally my practice to step outside for a nice little chat. The friendly couple always seem overjoyed at the fact that I am willing to take the time to talk with them, and usually, during our formal introductions, I am thinking to myself: “They have no idea what they’re in for.” After listening intently to their presentation and their questions, I begin to reply with concise, … View Resource

  • God’s Holy Love Article by Albert Mohler

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2005

    The notion of retributive justice — which has been the hallmark of human law since premodern times — has been under assault for many years in Western cultures. Led by utilitarian philosophers such as John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, many modern persons have determined that retribution is an unacceptable form of justice. This shift has had repercussions not only in legal practice, judicial theory, and penal law, but also in theology. For as justice has been redefined to mean rehabilitation instead of retribution, the idea of a penal substitutionary atonement has become to many persons simply unthinkable. The most … View Resource

  • Intolerable Tolerance Article by Robert Rothwell

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2004

    One of my seminary professors had a true story that he would tell in order to illustrate the false humility of postmodern relativism. While he was a professor at a state university, he had a student who was an evangelical Christian. One Sunday, this student was visiting a liberal church in the downtown area of a big city. The pastor, who had embraced relativism with enthusiasm, was preaching a sermon that began with the statement “all religious beliefs are true,” and it went downhill from there. Minute by minute, the preacher told the congregation that all faiths were equally valid … View Resource

  • The Temptation of Idolatry Article by Robert Barnes

    FROM TABLETALK | April 1998

    The temptation to pursue a new way of salvation, a new path down the road to righteousness, is an eternal struggle. The Puritans experienced it and warned us of the vanity and shear arrogance of creating our own custom-fit cult, which is codified clearly in various false religions. Question 108: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment? Answer: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God Himself, tolerating a false religion, the making of any representation of God, of all or any … View Resource

  • Drifting into Heresy Article by Michael Beates

    FROM TABLETALK | April 1994

    More than 120 years before the American Revolution, the charter of Harvard College was established. But the “Rules and Precepts” of the college adopted in 1646 show that the leaders saw education (and all of life) as an arena in which God was central, and theology they considered the crown jewel of the arts and sciences. Almost 350 years later, the professors of law, ethics, theology, and history at this esteemed institution hold convictions and teach perspectives that would chill the already cold bones of the school’s founders, not to mention those godly people who endowed the school with their … View Resource

  • Heresy and Those Who Fought It Article by Frank Farrell

    FROM TABLETALK | April 1994

    To murder the soul is worse than murdering the body, so the teaching of heresy should be punishable by death.” I have never forgotten this statement made to me 40 years ago by a monk in the Trappist monastery of Mount Melleray in the south of Ireland. Though I could not agree with the penalty, he had joltingly reminded me of the seriousness of heresy in a century which tends to take it very lightly. It has been said that the history of the church is the history of heresies. To forget or neglect them is to lay oneself open … View Resource