Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Over the past 10 weeks we have analyzed a lot of different denominations and came up with bold statements to claim whether an organization was a denomination, a sect, a movement, or a cult. Surprisingly, I believe, based on the Biblical evidence, that we have a lot of cults out there, some of which are very large organizations. We based our discussion around a significant number of criteria. In many cases, I had to pare down the discussion for purpose of space and your time in reading it.
To conclude with this series, I will be posting 4 final conclusions posts that will take each point and discuss the basic belief of the organization. The first part of this conclusion will focus on two separate factors: that which speaks to the primary work and nature of Christ and that which speaks to the nature of God. Both of those are that which make us Christian. If we deny any of those key pieces, then we cease to be a Christian church and are proclaiming a worldly message.
The next part of the conclusion in 2 weeks will focus on the views on the Bible, church ordinances and the practices of being Christian. While these do not void one’s salvation, they are principals that are clear in Scripture and denying them shows apostasy.
The final section will deal with what many churches, unfortunately, get caught up in. This is the minor stuff. These are the items that are debated inside Christianity that does not affect one’s salvation. Belief or non-belief of these items does not suggest apostasy.
During the first two sections, I will color-code the organizations. A red color suggests apostasy. In this first section, a red color will suggest cult status as one cannot deny them and still be considered a Christian organization. Yellow designates a caution. The reason for the caution could be the simple fact that each individual church needs to be reviewed instead of the denomination. This is especially important in those nondenominational, evangelical churches out there. For every one of these they will always be yellow.
Alright, let’s dig in!
John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is both God and man (John 1:1, John 1:14, John 8:24, Colossians 2:9, 1 John 4:1-4)
Roman Catholic – “In the Father and with the Father, the Son is one and the same God.”
Eastern Orthodox – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man
Mormon – Jesus is the firstborn son of God, no different from each of us except that He was born first. This is why Mormons consider Jesus as Elder Brother.
Jehovah’s Witness – Jesus was created by Father God as God’s spokesman through The Word. The archangel Michael is synonymous with Jesus and therefore it was Michael who impregnated Mary and she gave birth to the perfect man.
7th Day Adventist – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man
Christian Science – They see a difference between Jesus the man and the “Christ principle.” According to Christian Science, Jesus only became Christ as He started to comprehend what being Christ was all about.
Anglican/Episcopalian – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.
Pentecostal/Charismatic – Jesus is the sole God, sometimes expressing Himself as Father and sometimes as the Holy Spirit. But He is fully divine.
Holiness/Holy – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.
Assemblies of God – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man
Disciples of Christ – The Disciples’ Confession states that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God … Lord and Savior of the world.” Belief in Christ as Savior is the only requirement for salvation.
Quaker – While Quakers beliefs say that God is revealed in Jesus Christ, most Friends are more concerned with emulating Jesus’ life and obeying his commands than with the theology of salvation.
Foursquare Gospel – The Son of God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. By shedding his blood on the cross, he redeemed from sin all who believe in Him as Savior. He lives as Mediator between God and man.
Salvation Army – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.
Christian Reform – the Son of God, is the center of human history. Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, and his life, death and resurrection are historical facts. Christ returned to heaven following his resurrection an
Full Gospel – Varies. Depending on leanings of whether more toward Pentecostal or more toward AoG.
Apostolic – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. However, this is more in the Pentecostal tradition that Jesus expresses Himself in various forms at various times.
Mennonite – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.
Brethren – All Brethren “affirm their belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” Living a life patterned after the life of Christ is of paramount importance to the Brethren as they seek to emulate his humble service and unconditional love.
Nazarene – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.
Church of God – That Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary. That Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. That He ascended to heaven and is today at the right hand of the Father as the Intercessor.
Church of Christ – We believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, the manifestation of God in flesh, who lived, suffered, and died for all mankind; whom we own as our only Leader, Witness and Commander.
United Church of Christ – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.
Presbyterian – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully human
Lutheran – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully human
Methodist – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully human
Baptist – Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully human
Evangelical/Non-Denominational – Varies
Luke 24:38-39 – “And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
Jesus rose from the dead physically (John 2:19-21)
Roman Catholic – A physical resurrection
Eastern Orthodox – A physical resurrection
Mormon – They do not believe Jesus died on the cross, but they do believe in a physical resurrection.
Jehovah’s Witness – They deny the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ
7th Day Adventist – Physical resurrection
Christian Science – They deny the physical resurrection.
Anglican/Episcopalian – A physical resurrection
Pentecostal/Charismatic – Physical resurrection
Holiness/Holy – Physical resurrection
Assemblies of God – A physical resurrection
Disciples of Christ – Physical resurrection
Quaker – Varies
Foursquare Gospel – Physical resurrection
Salvation Army – Physical resurrection
Christian Reform – Physical resurrection
Full Gospel – Physical resurrection
Apostolic – Physical resurrection
Mennonite – Physical resurrection
Brethren – Physical resurrection
Nazarene – Physical resurrection
Church of God – Physical resurrection
Church of Christ – Physical resurrection
United Church of Christ – Physical resurrection
Presbyterian – A physical resurrection
Lutheran – A physical resurrection
Methodist – A physical resurrection
Baptist – A physical resurrection
Evangelical/Non-Denominational – varies
Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–
Salvation is by grace through faith (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 5:1-5)
Roman Catholic – Not through grace alone, you must perform works.
Eastern Orthodox – Not through grace alone, you must perform works.
Mormon – Not through grace alone, you must earn your salvation.
Jehovah’s Witness – Only 144,000 people will go to heaven, as cited in Revelation 7:14. The rest of saved humanity will live forever on a restored earth. Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs include works-learning about Jehovah, living a moral life, witnessing to others, and obeying God’s commandments–as part of salvation’s requirements.
7th Day Adventist – This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters and delivered from the grip of sin
Christian Science – Salvation is achieved through progressive spiritual understanding. A person is not saved from hell – but from his or her belief in materiality.
Anglican/Episcopalian – Salvation through grace alone, not by works.
Pentecostal/Charismatic – Salvation comes by grace through faith based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Holiness/Holy – We believe that the atonement through Jesus Christ is for the whole human race; and that whosoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.
Assemblies of God – “Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life.”
Disciples of Christ – Disciples embrace the broad meaning of the term “Salvation” to include notions of deliverance from all threats of life, both now and hereafter. This explains their passion and unwavering quest for social, political, and economic justice.
Quaker – Some Friends (the formal name of the group) churches include rites of baptism and communion, but sacraments to God are most often considered to arise from inward experiences, a personal encounter with God, rather than church ritual. Salvation is found internally through union with Christ, the divine Light within all. Many Quaker churches, e.g. evangelical, believe similarly to Conservative Protestant, that salvation is a free gift from God, with faith, independent of good works. Yet moral behavior and good works are viewed as essential to showing faith and obedience to God. Good works, such as humanitarian service, social justice, and peace efforts, are an expression of Christian love. Simplicity and humility are viewed as essential to living a Christian life.
Foursquare Gospel – We believe that salvation is totally an act of God’s grace that is accessed through faith in Jesus Christ. No person can be good enough to earn salvation, and “being good” does not contribute to receiving God’s love and favor
Salvation Army – We believe that repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.
Christian Reform – God the Father refused to let sin conquer humanity. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem the world through his sacrificial death. Further, God raised Jesus from the dead to show that Christ has overcome sin and death.
Full Gospel – Salvation comes by grace through faith based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Apostolic – Salvation comes by grace through faith based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Mennonite- We are saved by God’s grace, not by our own merits.
Brethren – Salvation is both an event and a process: it is an accomplished fact, a continuing walk, and a future hope. Always the gift of God, salvation is received by repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, both witnessed to through water baptism. In faithfulness to His promises, God adopts believers as His children, forgiving their sins and giving them His Holy Spirit. They in turn demonstrate their faith by obeying the commands of Christ and following His example in daily living. Scripture uses various terms to describe aspects of salvation, but ultimately it means Christlikeness-conformity to the image of God’s Son by the work of His Spirit within us. To that end we are kept by the power of God, which operates through our faith.
Nazarene – We believe that the atonement through Jesus Christ is for the whole human race; and that whosoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.
Church of God – That justification, regeneration, and the new birth are wrought by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Church of Christ – We believe that through the atonement of Christ all men may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel; Faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ; Repentance and Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; Laying on of Hands for: (a) Ordination; (b) Blessing of Children; (c) Confirmation and the Gift of the Holy Ghost; (d) Healing of the Sick.
United Church of Christ – God destined us for adoption as God’s children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of God’s will, to the praise of God’s glorious grace that God freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of God’s grace that God lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of God’s will, according to God’s good pleasure that God set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.
Presbyterian – “Presbyterians believe God has offered us salvation because of God’s loving nature. It is not a right or a privilege to be earned by being “good enough,” … we are all saved solely by the grace of God …Out of the greatest possible love and compassion God reached out to us and redeemed us through Jesus Christ, the only one who was ever without sin. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection God triumphed over sin.”
Lutheran – “Faith in Christ is the only way for men to obtain personal reconciliation with God, that is, forgiveness of sins …”
Methodist – “We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith, only…”
Baptist – “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer … There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Evangelical/Non-Denominational – varies
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 – Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.