The Kingdom of the Cults – By Walter Martin

 

Comments by:  Robert D Brinsmead

Walter Martin is an evangelical who specializes in writing about what Christian sects qualify as “cults.”

This author appears to assume the role of the gate-keeper of Christian orthodoxy, judging what sectarian groups adhere to “the eternal verities of the Christian faith.”  The hallmarks of sound teaching, according to Martin, are things like belief in the absolute Deity of Jesus (that is the ‘holy of holies’ of the Christian religion), the Trinity, salvation by faith in Jesus Christ’s blood atonement for sin, and damnation in endless eternal torment in Hell for the rest of mankind who fall short of believing his list of essentials.

Martin does not see that his is the voice of an ever diminishing religious cult.  Our post-Enlightenment world has become the world of “the global village” in which the old time intolerance and condemnation of other religions is no longer tenable.  In our modern world, the State does not exist to support whatever the established religion happens to be.  In our global, multi-cultural village, it appears totally arrogant to claim that God is accessible only to those who believe what we believe, to say nothing about how the doctrine of the blood atonement might sound to a lot of modern, well-informed people.

There is one religion that still seems to claim that it is the only true religion on the face of earth, and that all others must eventually submit to its claims.  In a recent public Muslim rally in the city of Sydney, a little girl appeared on national TV holding up a large sign that read, “Our dead are in Paradise; yours are in Hell.”  This brutally simple Muslim statement shocked the great majority of people as being arrogant, insensitive and inhuman.  Yet when we think about it, Christians were saying something like this for 600 years before the birth of Islam.  The Gospel of Mark concludes by declaring that all who believe its message will be saved and all who do not believe will be damned.  The best loved NT passage of all – John 3:16-17 -says basically the same thing. And what about, “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” “There is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved.” “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.”  Perhaps this one takes the cake for exclusive religious arrogance, “Whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.”  While some Muslims still make exclusive claims like this, the mainline Christian movement has become more and more reluctant to claim, as it used to claim, that it is “the Church out of which no one can be saved.”

Maurice Casey (From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God) says, “Scripture is the Rheingold of Truth.  It offers us the whole truth, and exclusive salvation, but it leads us into the usual human muddle of truth and falsity, grasping greedily to make it true just at those points where it is false.  John’s misleading picture of Jesus is at the centre of this.  It makes him divine and infallible and has him condemn the Jews, to whom the historical Jesus preached, and from who he selected his apostles and accepted his disciples and supporters.  We cannot reasonably believe in all the results of that developmental process.  If Christianity is to remain a viable option for honest and well-informed people, it should surely undo that process of development, and emerge as something nearer to the religion of Jesus of Nazareth…

“If the standard picture of Jesus as incarnate and divine is too much a part of the churches’ identity to be shifted, official Christianity will become increasingly a matter of belief in the impossible, as its evangelical and catholic wings may already be thought to be.”   (page 178)

In that great movie called The Witness, a police officer who was assigned to gather intelligence from within a religious cult known as the Amish, said this to his department, “We too are a cult.”   That was the memorable one-liner of the movie.

Yes, Dr Walter Martin, “Evangelicals too are a cult.”