Ever see people who are constantly hunting down one heresy after another? They will tell you that this denomination is a cult. That denomination is a cult. They'll name every denomination except theirs.
Pastors often do this to protect their personal kingdom. Someone in the congregation leaves for another Church, and they feel like they have to preach against the cultic teachings of the denomination they went to for the next 6 weeks. Often it is because they are more concerned about building their own kingdom than building God's kingdom. Some pastors haven't really learned to trust God. They try to add their own human efforts into building their Church and they do more to mess things up when they do that than anything else.
We shouldn't feel the need to be the "Accusers of the Brethren". Someone already has that job. We shouldn't feel the need to label everyone that has a slightly different take on things as being in a cultic error.
Yes, there are a few denominations that teach things I would consider error. For example....
- Catholics - Prayer to saints, pergatory.
- King James Onlyism -> "Thou Shalt not read the Bible in the original language."
- That a Christian who converts to Islam will still be saved because "Once Saved is Always Saved."
- That the gifts of the Spirit have gone away and 1 Cor 12-14 is no longer valid.
- Church of Christ - similar errors to Baptists, plus that you must be baptized to be saved, etc. That Revelation is about past events.
- SDA - Soul sleep, etc.
I could go on and on about how these folks are teaching the doctrines of men and not Scripture. But I'd rather focus on the unity of the faith and the fact that these people are my co-laborers in the Gospel who are bringing the world to faith in the Messiah, irregardless of some disagreements over issues that are not going to keep anyone out of heaven.
Is there really a need to go heresy hunting and talk continuously about how bad those "other folks" are? To many pastors there is, because they don't trust God to keep the flock safe or keep their own Church filled, so they continuously give sermons about how bad all those other denominations are that one could leave to go visit. They are preaching out of self-interest. It is not that they are so concerned about the errors being taught - but that you will LEAVE THEIR CHURCH. So they go into automatic mode of flaming the competition to preserve what little flock they have.
The Scriptures tell us
- "there should be no schism" (1 Cor 12:25)
- "when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you" (1 Cor 11:18)
- 1 Cor 3:3 calls divisions "carnal"
We are causing division in the body when we engage in heresy hunting. We are making those walls that separate believers bigger. We should be focused on what unites us, not on what separates us. Occasionally there is a time and place and a need to discuss error. But when someone does it constantly, there may be a problem deep inside. We are supposed to spend our focus on talking about how right God is, not how wrong everyone else is.
Please do not take what I am saying to an illogical extreme. It is not as if it is wrong to identify a cult as a cult, or point out a cultic teaching. But if you find yourself feeling like you need to point out which of your Christian brethren - who also believe in Salvation through Yeshua - are in a "cult" and doing this on a regular basis, then there is probably a bigger problem with you than them. If you're a pastor and you're preaching sermons on what denominations are "cults" more than once every 6 months, the problem is probably with you. If you and your best friend talk about who is in once a month, the problem is probably with you. The issue needs to be addressed - every now and then - but most people with a continual need to always discuss who is in a cult and never focus on the unity of the faith are causing division.
If someone is teaching something that will cause folks to lose their salvation - or not find it in the first place - then perhaps we need to speak up. But when we criticize our brethren for small issues, we make Christianity look bad to the outside world. We make the faith appear as if it does not make a difference in the world. We should be focused on supporting each other, not tearing each other apart. Often it is better to just let an issue go than to argue about it. Or if there is an issue they propose that you think is wrong, at least address the issue without characterizing the entire denomination as "abusive" or raise a false allegation that someone supports bestiality when there is no foundation to it. Those types of things are nothing more than character assasinations. It is an attempt to smear someone's reputation. This is not how we should treat our brethren.
The proper way to deal with this is....
- NEVER attack the reputation of a denomination or person that is upholding the Gospel.
- If you disagree with what they teach, adress the teaching, instead of the people, as much as possible.
- Some issues aren't worth arguing over and do more to damage the Church in the eyes of the unbelieving world than what is worth arguing over.
- If you are a pastor, trust God to send the people to your church He thinks deserve to be there. Don't trust in your own ability to brainwash your flock into thinking the entire rest of the world is in error. That will only cause God to send fewer people to your Church. If He's not sending people to your Church, maybe you're doing something wrong and the problem is not with your competition your percieved need to bash them.
But attacking the character of other denominations as "abusive" or supporting bestiality is something I am sure satan laughs with delight in when he sees it. That type of talk does nothing but cause division and strife within the Church. We need more talk that unifies, not that divides. I'm not saying don't stand up for what you believe and argue your point, but do it without attacking your brother. If you want to destroy the argument your brother is making, have at it. but don't destroy your brother.