But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)
In my last post, I attempted to point out some broad characteristics that distinguish “True Religion.” In the article “I Am A Christian,” I went into greater detail on what it means to be a Christian, which is the only true religion. But in order to distinguish between true religion and false religion, one must be able to recognize false religion on sight.
First of all, a false religion denies the God of the Bible. Immediately that includes all pagan religions that worship multiple gods (polytheism), or believe that everything is god (pantheism). By the way, evolutionism or naturalism is a form of pantheism in that it attributes to nature creative abilities and intellect. Evolution/naturalism in turn gives rise to secular humanism that, for all practical purposes, bestows upon mankind a divine nature. They perhaps would not go so far as to call themselves gods (although some have), but the ideology attributes value to mankind apart from God, so in essence, man is God. Romans 1:23 encapsulates false religion this way: “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (emphasis mine). This list would include Hinduism (which is both pantheist and polytheist), Buddhism, and a variety of others (the list is too long for this post). Islam would also be included here. Although many may argue that Islam’s god, Allah, is the same as the God of the Bible, a close comparison reveals that they are not the same. See my article “God Is Not Allah.”
Second, a false religion rejects the deity of Christ. All those listed above fall into this category, but now the list broadens to include the Jewish religion. While the Jewish religion accepts the God of the Bible, their Bible ends with the book of Malachi. (Technically, the Hebrew Scriptures end with Chronicles; it is only a matter of how the books are arranged.) Jews reject the Messiah that was prophesied in their own Scriptures. The New Testament is clear: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). “Christ” is the Greek rendering of “Messiah” which means “anointed one.” John would say that the Jews who deny that Jesus is the Christ are liars. It is a false religion.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the LDS church otherwise known as the Mormons) while associating their religion with Jesus Christ, denies the unique deity of Christ. To the Mormons, Jesus is one of many “sons of God.” In their belief system, Jesus is brother to Lucifer. LDS adherents believe that they too will become gods and be in charge of their own worlds. Of course, when the young “Elders” come knocking on your door, they will not willingly volunteer any of this information. The Bible teaches that the “Word,” by whom all things were created (John 1:3), became flesh, and John testifies that “we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14, emphasis mine). “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18, emphasis mine). The moniker “only begotten Son” (see also John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) clearly indicates that there is no other. That automatically disqualifies Lucifer and all others that the Mormons might want to add to the list.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses also deny the deity of Christ. These too are fervent “evangelists” for their cause and they are very well trained in the use of Scripture taken out of context. They are not well trained in Scripture; they are trained in Watch Tower literature. One of the verses they like to use as proof text to deny the deity of Christ is John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In their mistranslation of the Scriptures the verse ends: “and the word was a god.” They attribute this to the fact that in the Greek, theos (god) is not preceded by the definite article. However, the same construct appears again in John 1:6: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John,” but here they render it correctly. So, why is there an inconsistency? They cannot tell you. They have other problems as well, but denial of Christ as God is their greatest problem.
Muslims, while they acknowledge Jesus as a great prophet second only to Mohammed, and even accept His virgin birth, also deny the deity of Christ. So, not only is Jesus not God, but He is less than the human prophet Mohammed.
Finally, false religion minimizes or altogether rejects the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Many pagan religions, like Hinduism, and Buddhism have their own holy books. Islam, while it acknowledges the Holy Bible and affords it some value, has the Koran (Quran). The Mormons accept and give verbal assent to the Bible, but in practice they prefer the Book of Mormon and The Pearl of Great Price. In doing so, they have overlooked Paul’s stern warning in Galatians 1:8-9 that even if an angel (like Moroni) preach any other gospel than what is preached in the Bible, that one should be accursed. The Jehovah’s Witnesses violate the Word of God by rewriting it to conform to their preconceptions. They ignorantly disregard the admonition from Scripture against tampering with the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:19). The Roman Catholic Church venerates the Bible, but in practice they prefer the edicts of the Pope over the teachings of the Bible. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Bible cannot be understood by the common layperson, or even the priests. Only the Pope has the authority to give proper interpretation and meaning to Scripture. Worthless as it may be, at least they claim some authority. Many mainline Protestant denominations with their liberal theologians have divested Scripture of all authority and set their adherents aimlessly adrift on a sea of relativistic humanism and existentialism. Recently I heard a Methodist minister base his sermon on Ephesians 6:3-4 (two completely unrelated verses regardless of their proximity). He never addressed the Scripture, but instead built his sermon on Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In the Cradle.” Build your theology on that!
The Bible tells us that God’s Word is eternally trustworthy. “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160). “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8). God says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). Any religion that rejects any part or the entire Bible has nothing on which to stand and has built a house on shifting sand (Matthew 7:26-27).
Any one or all of these characteristics identify a false religion. False religion will reject the God of the Bible. False religion rejects the deity of Christ. False religion rejects the authority of the Bible.