This column first appeared in The Pathway, the official news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
The recent passing of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon ends a colorful chapter in the history of counterfeit Christianity. The founder of the Unification Church and self-proclaimed “Lord of the Second Advent” established a religious empire that enriched Moon and deceived millions.
He married followers in the name of the “True Family,” a sinless line of humanity that would complete the failed mission of Jesus, who died on the cross before He could marry and have children.
While Moon was a quirky leader to say the least, he also was typical of cult founders whose organizations fizzle when they die or are disgraced. The Unification Church today is a shadow if its former self.
The link above takes you to a study of world religions and cults, which some people call “alternative” faiths or other paths to God. Our stand will be on the truth of Jesus’ words in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Is this view narrow-minded and outdated, as some suggest? Quite the contrary. The words Christ speaks are “spirit” and “life” (John 6:63). To disregard them is perilous. Yet many do.
There are roughly 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide, 820 million Hindus, 400 million Buddhists, 13 million Mormons, 7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses, and millions more engaged in other false religions, or no religion at all. By all appearances, these people are sincere. They want to know the truth and believe they have found it. How can so many people be wrong? This study answers that question — and many others regarding people’s quest for ultimate truth.
Through this study, we will look at many belief systems, from Islam to Scientology. In each case, we’ll examine the background of the “alternative” faith and compare its beliefs to what the Bible says. We also will discuss effective means of witnessing to people who embrace these false religions.
Our purpose is not to condemn anyone or to assume God’s role as sovereign judge of the universe; rather, it is to compare the teachings of the world’s major religions and cults with biblical, historical Christianity so that we might be more effective in praying for and witnessing to the lost, and wiser in our ability to discern false doctrines. Every person, regardless of his or her religious beliefs, is precious in the eyes of God and is someone for whom Christ died. Our attitude as we study these false religious systems should be one of humility, love, and grace.
The words of the apostle Paul are clear: Those who are not grounded in the Word of God are subject to deceptive teachings about “another Jesus … a different spirit … a different gospel.” Every world religion and every cult that we study professes belief in Jesus and has an exalted place for Him in its theology. But without exception, each of these belief systems fails to correctly answer the key question Jesus asked in Matt. 16:15: “Who do you say that I am?” They also have false views of the Holy Spirit and without exception embrace a works-based doctrine of salvation.
Paul warned Christians in Acts 20:29-31: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. And men from among yourselves will rise up with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them. Therefore be on the alert …” Our prayer is that this study will help protect you, your family and your church from false teachers who proclaim “another Jesus … a different spirit … and a different gospel.”
Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips
Think you know a lot about the differences between Christianity and other belief systems? Here’s a chance to test your knowledge — and have a little fun along the way. The answers are at the end of the exam.
1. Which of the following is not a Hindu scripture:
a) Rig Veda
b) Sama Veda
c) Yajur Veda
d) Darth Veda
2. True or false:
Islam is the second largest religion in the world – and one of the fastest growing.
3. True or false:
Buddhism has its roots in Hinduism but differs in many beliefs and practices.
4. The great dividing line between Judaism and Christianity is:
a) Kosher foods
b) The Sabbath
c) Mel Brooks
d) Jesus as Messiah
5. Who founded Scientology:
a) Tom Cruise
b) L. Ron Hubbard
c) E. Buzz Miller
d) Stephen Hawking
6. Which of the following religions is best summarized by the statement, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become:”
b) Christian Science
7. A cult is best described as:
a) A blue oyster
b) A dead-end street
c) Merchandise at Big Lots
d) Counterfeit Christianity
8. Muhammad taught that Jesus (circle all that apply):
a) Was a great prophet
b) Was born of a virgin
c) Lived a sinless life
d) Died on the cross
e) Is coming back one day
9. The Jehovah’s Witnesses deny (circle all that apply):
a) Ever knocking on your door
b) The deity of Christ
c) The Trinity
d) Soul sleep
e) Eternal punishment in hell
f) Jesus’ invisible return in 1914
10. Who is Siddhartha Gautama?
a) Master of the pan flute
b) The explorer who discovered Guatemala
c) The founder of Buddhism
d) The real name of rapper Snoop Dogg
11. True or false:
Mary Baker Eddy, L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon joined forces in 1984 to form what they claimed was “perfect Christianity.” They called their new organization the Unification Church of Christian Scientology.
12. According to Mormon history, which of the following Jewish tribes crossed the Atlantic and became the ancestors of the American Indians:
a) The Lamanites
b) The Jebusites
c) The Parasites
d) The Kung Pao Buckaroos
1) d; 2) true; 3) true; 4) d; 5) b; 6) c; 7) d; 8) a, b, c, e; 9) b, c, e; 10) c; 11) false; 12) a
An article posted on the Web site 2spare.com profiles the 10 greatest impostors in history. Topping the list is Victor Lustig, the man who sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap and then fled the country with a suitcase full of cash; Frank Abagnale, who is best known for masquerading as Pan Am pilot Frank Williams, and whose life story was captured in the popular film “Catch Me if You Can;” and Christopher Rocancourt, who scammed affulent people by masquerading as a French member of the Rockefeller family. Also on the list are Mary Baker, the so-called Princess Caraboo from the island of Javasu; and pop duo Milli Vanilli.
But one name conspicuous by its absence is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, who claims to be the messiah. For more than 50 years, he has gathered followers in South Korea, the United States and other countries, promoting himself as the “Lord of the Second Advent” who has come to finish the mission that Jesus failed to complete.
Every Christian should reject the Rev. Moon’s claims — and should reject the teachings of the Unification Church because of its unbiblical views, specifically concerning God, the Fall, Jesus, the Rev. Moon, and salvation.
|What the Bible says about God:||What the Unification Church says about God:|
|There is one true and living God, who exists as three distinct, co-equal, co-eternal persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Deut. 6:4; John 10:30, 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 13:13; 1 Peter 1:2).||God is one person only, with dual characteristics (positive/negative; male/female). He is not omniscient. God is the author of all religions; each one is a part of His attempt at restoration.”If you want to understand what God is you have only to investigate Father [Moon] to find what God is … Father is visible God” (The 120 Day Training Manual).|
|What the Bible says about Jesus:||What the Unification Church says about Jesus:|
|He is the virgin-born Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-23; Luke 1:35). He is eternal, the Creator, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and Holy Spirit (John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 1:1-13). Jesus died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), rose physically from the dead (Matt. 12:38-40; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:4-8; 1 Peter 1:18-21) and is coming back physically and visibly one day (Matt. 24:29-31; John 14:3; Titus 2:13; Rev. 19:11-16).||Jesus was a special creation of God – a perfect man who was faithful to God and attained deity; not equal to God.”One of my most important revelations is that Jesus Christ did not come to die” (Rev. Moon, interview in F. Sontag, Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church, p. 154). Jesus was to restore the original relationship between God and humanity by marriage. His mission was incomplete because he was crucified before marriage. He is a spiritual, not a physical, savior.The second coming occurred with the advent of Sun Myung Moon.|
|What the Bible says about the Bible:||What the Unification Church says about the Bible:|
|The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God, and is His sole written authority for all people (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).||The Bible is one of God’s revelations, replaced by Moon’s superior revelations. The Bible is largely unreliable and interpreted symbolically. The Bible is authoritative only as it is interpreted in Divine Principle (Moon’s basic teachings).|
|What the Bible says about sin and the solution:||What the Unification Church says about sin and the solution:|
|Sin is the violation of God’s perfect and holy standards. All humans are sinners (Rom. 3:10) and are under the curse of sin – spiritual and physical death (Gen. 2:17, 3:17-19; Rom. 3:23). Only faith in Christ and His work on our behalf frees us from sin and its consequences (John 3:16, 5:24; Eph. 2:8-9).||Human beings broke their relationship with God through disobedience and misuse of love and are now related to Satan as a result of sexual sin in the Fall. Satan seduced Eve to have sexual relations, resulting in the spiritual fall of man. Eve then had intercourse with Adam, resulting in the physical fall of man. Everyone, then, has Satanic blood and is physically “possessed” by Satan.To be saved, followers must accept Jesus for spiritual salvation and the Lord of the Second Advent (Moon) for physical salvation. “Father [Moon] took responsibility for our sins…. Therefore, instead of me being tortured, the sinless Messiah was tortured by Satan (through the North Korean Communists)” (The 120 Day Training Manual).”I have the right to forgive another’s sins” (Master Speaks).”Do not believe in the Christ upon the cross…. The cross is the symbol of Satan’s victory” (Master Speaks).
“Christians believe they can simply believe in Jesus and go to church in order to go to heaven…. No one can take you there, you must do it yourself…. Our Leader (Moon) worked for the salvation of the world; you are only required to work for your own salvation. He paid the world’s debt, but you pay just yourselves….Nothing like salvation can come from the cross….By the crucifixion, everything was denied and lost” (Master Speaks).
|What the Bible says about the Holy Spirit:||What the Unification Church says about the Holy Spirit:|
|The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the triune Godhead (Matt. 3:16-17, 28:19-20). The Holy Spirit is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son (Acts 5:3-4).||The Holy Spirit is seen variously as a female spirit (a creature) and an impersonal element or essence. “The Holy Spirit who worked with Jesus was the element of the original Eve…. [a] female element of God…. When you are speaking of the Holy Spirit, it is all right to say ‘it.’ You don’t need to say ‘she.’ If it’s just wind or power, we can say ‘it'” (Master Speaks).|
|What the Bible says about life after death:||What the Unification Church says about life after death:|
|Physical and spiritual deaths come upon all people as a consequence of their sin (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1). A person becomes spiritually alive when he or she is “born again” by receiving Christ (John 3:3-6; Eph. 2:1-5). At physical death, our souls and spirits separate from our bodies [which go into the grave to await resurrection and final judgment] and enter an everlasting state of blessedness [for those born again] or torment [for those who die in their sins] (Matt. 25:46; Luke 16:19-31; John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:8; Rev. 14:9-11, 20:10).||All humans will become divine in an earthly kingdom of God. At that time, a perfect relationship with God will be restored.The existence of death was part of God’s original purpose in creation. “God created man to grow old and turn to dust; this would occur even if man had not fallen” (Divine Principle).|
|What the Bible says about heaven and hell:||What the Unification Church says about heaven and hell:|
|Hell is a place of everlasting conscious existence, where the unbeliever is forever separated from God (Matt. 25:46; Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 14:9-11, 20:10). As for Heaven, all believers have God’s promise of a home in Heaven, will go there instantly upon physical death, and will return with Christ from Heaven to earth one day (Luke 16:19-31; John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:8; Rev. 19:11-16).||These are various spirit realms and not eternal places. Everyone will be saved in the end, even Satan and his demons. “The ultimate purpose of God’s providence of restoration is to save all mankind. Therefore, it is God’s intention to abolish Hell completely…. The Bible infers that Satan will be cast out forever. Will he be restored completely? Of course. But … Lucifer will not be restored to his original position, but will serve in the lowest position” (Master Speaks).|
Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips