Cults in Texas and other ramblings

19 Dec

Last night I joined about 20 other men praying over a brother whose son has run off and joined what appears to be a Christian cult.

I arrived at the meeting only knowing that we were going to pray for a brother and his family. When I first heard about the situation, my mind like it normally does, went into inquisitive mode. The initial things I heard were that this brother’s son had left his life behind in the middle of the night, taken his wife and young child and joined a small religious group in Texas. At this point many of us think of David Koresh, as did I. But I am always careful not to allow my worldly experience goggles cloud my thinking, so I asked more about the group.

They were described as living away from the world on a rural ranch because the members believe that environment allows them to set themselves apart and focus on Christ. They advocate that other Christians are all caught up in the world so much and that many people falsely believe that they are actually saved. The church leadership calls for a demonstration of more fruit in the life of the believer.

On the surface, these things don’t really seem too far off to me. I mean, the first one sounds similar to living a Nazirite life, which is echoed in Paul’s words to the Romans, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  I think all of us at times feel like we’re not living the way Christ would want us to. As for the second, there is no doubt that there are people who falsely believe that they are saved. Jesus talks about such people in Matthew 7:21-23. “I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” And for the third, who doesn’t think they couldn’t show more fruit in their life?

But these things need to be balanced on the whole of Scripture.

Not balancing these issues has at times even caused me to question my salvation. Do I do enough? Am I a good enough father? A good enough husband? A good enough friend? A good enough witness? Are my sins too great and is my soul too lost? Am I unworthy of God’s grace?

But that’s simply just a complete misunderstanding of the exhaustive nature of His Grace! It’s placing an over emphasis on these passages and ignoring countless others such as Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Perhaps that is what is going on with this group? God loving people who have a misunderstanding of Scripture. The sad thing is that they appear to have so many things right, but they are so intently focused on those errors, (as well as reports of false prophecy) that one has to question whether they are inside orthodoxy any more. (Here is an excellent post about this particular group.)

The main question that came to my mind as I was driving home was: what draws people to these kind of groups? What’s the appeal? The answer is probably different for different groups, and perhaps demonic activity should also be considered. But they all share one thing in common. They contain pieces of truth. I think Lewis used this as a point in The Screwtape Letters. Its the little bit of truth that’s in there which captures and pulls you in.

Even more so however, I’ve noticed that its not just truth per se. It’s specific truths which the modern church is often questioning itself on. In other words, these groups often have a ring of truth where the modern church is perhaps drifting from its core truths. Let me explain. In the case of this group, it is the holiness of the believer that seems to be most in question. I’ve recently been reading an outstanding book called The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung. He and many other recent authors have pointed out that perhaps the modern believer has become too lukewarm.

After reading his book, I certainly acknowledge that I often don’t live in accord with 1 Peter 2:11, as a stranger in this land. But the answer is not swing the pendulum the other way as this group has done. (DeYoung certainly does not advocate that.) Instead we need to pray to God, to search the Scriptures, to find the truth, and to live by it.  Or to paraphrase DeYoung on the issue of holiness, God wants us to be holy, through faith he counts us as holy, and by sanctification he intends to make us holy.

For me, this means that I took inventory of myself today, and once again I find myself lacking. I will try to do better. But I know that I am secured by His grace, and I am destined for eternity with our Savior.

Finally, returning to this particular group, I ask readers of this post to please join me in praying for the family, as well as for this group of people in Texas. May God comfort those in pain, and bring truth to those who are wandering.

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