II Peter 2. Part Two. The Many Faces of the Opposition.

Key Notes: Defining terms for non-Christian religions. Differences between non-Christian religions and the Church in practice. The Trinity as a marker. The doctrine of Christ.

In addition to the partial list of non-Christian religions, most originating in the United States, there are 5–7 traditional religions going back to antiquity. This study focuses on the American non-Christian religions. and how they differ from Christian churches. It is an important distinction because the media sometimes refer to both Christians and non-Christians as "various sects."

Definitions:
*religion: a system of belief which relates a follower of God to other followers.
*schism: a breakaway religious movement, for example, the division between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
*sect: a smaller subset of a religion, usually used in a negative way, eg. "Protestant sects".
*cult: a new religion, usually thought of as bizarre, with false teaching. "Jews for Jesus" is considered a dangerous cult by some orthodox Jews. It is a term to be avoided.
*error: professing a wrong idea. For example, it is an error to say that black people were destined to slavery or that Jesus died as a revolutionary.
*heresy: selecting some central aspects of truth to the exclusion of others. The term is applied to major religious errors and may lead to ecclesiastical trials. "Christ died" is a true statement; that only His spirit arose is heresy.
*apostasy: renouncing one's faith.

What difference is there between the Christian Church and the new American non-Christian religions (NCR), usually called cults?

1. The Church makes membership a serious process, usually with several steps. It practices informed consent. In mainline churches this usually involves catechism, confirmation and first communion. In evangelial churches, it may involve a sequence such as the Alpha Course, Discovery Class, Membership Class and Baptism class, Baptism, and public acknowledgement before the congregation.
Churches help their members and the community, demanding a high, uniform moral standard.

2. Non-Christian religions depend on strong leadership, special literature, heavy recruitment and tight membership. It may use
     a. a recruiter, often of the opposite sex, appealing to deep personal needs.
     b. "love-bombing": the new recruit gets overwhelming immediate acceptance by the group.
     c. retreat weekends with human potential appeals, lectures, music, solutions to big problems; mind-numbing, repetitive chanting, little sleep and a lot of activity.
     d. split ethics; complete honesty with the leadership, planned deception of outsiders.
     e. cultivation of dependency.
     f. threats to anyone who wishes to leave.

When do people join a NCR? The vulnerable period is between 16–30 years of age. During the transition from leaving their family to forming their own new family, young people usually rebel against the ways of their parents. They are eager to avoid their parents' mistakes. The church of their childhood may have been dull and unattractive. They may not see another church until their own children are ready for kindergarten. They have new freedom which may be used in self-destructive ways--binge drinking, drug experiments, sexual exploration and political radicalism.
What do they want? Love, excitement, answers, peer approval, work, a clear view of the future. When they are looking, the NCR are recruiting.

The NCR are the "unpaid bills of the Church". NCR leaders start usually with a negative reaction to the Church. As Marxism arose in part because of the failure of the Christians to care for the poor, so the NCR are in part a response to the dullness, lack of clarity, and lack of conviction of the traditional Church.

How do we spot a counterfeit? The words are the same but the meanings have been changed.
*God is Creator. {We are all creator-gods. God is Our Ultimate Concern, The Cosmic Force, Father / Mother God. Krishna, etc.}
*Christ is the Son of God  {We are all sons of God.}
*Christ died for our sins. {He was a revolutionary, a martyr to his principles.}
*Jesus saves. {He can help you reach spiritual heights.}
*All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. {Sin is an error of mortal mind. It is an illusion.}
*We hope for the Resurrection. {Reincarnation is the destiny of the soul.}
*Death is separation from God. {Death is a illusion. We will ascend to a new cosmic realm.}

What test separates NCR, new or traditional,  from Christianity?
The Trinity! All NCR deny the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God in three Persons. Most NCR recruiters will deny the Trinity outright.

How should we interact with members of NCR who proselytize?
Warn visitors, especially international students, away from them.
Working with NCR recruiters may not be your gift. Listening to NCR recruiters gains them merit, regardless of your reaction. The success of Christians persuading recruiters has been dismal.

IIJn.7–10 has this advice. "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh....Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for....Anyone who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God....If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting, for he who greets him shares his wicked work." Proclaim Christ crucified. ICor.2:2

We understand the doctrine of Christ to have these five central points:

His immaculate conception by the Virgin Mary;
His sinless life;
His supernatural authority, as God in flesh, working miracles and expelling demons;
His vicarious atonement;
The resurrection of His body and ascent to Heaven.

Those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ do not have God.