This week, a pastor friend of mine posted an excellent article that dealt with an issue that has been heavy on my mind over the past weeks. It is often hard to distinguish different churches and their beliefs and to know which ones are “Biblically Christian” or not. Here is what he posted. You can see the original post here.
People don’t often talk about “cults” anymore. But how do you know if a Church or denomination is a legitimate Christian Church or if it is not? Are they truly Christians with minor differences or are they not Christians at all?
Why would we say that a particular Presbyterian Church is a legitimate Church (even though we disagree on secondary issues), but a Kingdom Hall (Jehovah’s Witnesses) is not a legitimate Christian Church? Why are we ok with Baptists or Lutherans but not Mormons?
It may feel complicated, but here are three “tests” or criteria to determine if a group is part of historic Christianity or a false religion (This isn’t my list, but is from Nathan Busenitz):
1. A Wrong View of Salvation
False religions (whether they claim to be Christian or not) attempt to add good works to the gospel of grace (cf. Rom. 11:6). Rather than trusting in Christ alone for salvation, they seek to earn God’s favor through self-righteous works and human effort (cf. Acts 15:1–11; Gal. 1:6–9; Eph. 2:8–9; Php. 3:8–9; Titus 3:5–7).
2. A Wrong View of Scripture
False teachers distort, deny, and deliberately disobey the Scriptures (2 Pet. 2:1, 3:16). They add to or subtract from God’s revealed truth (cf. John 17:17; Rev. 22:18–19), looking to some other false authority for their beliefs (Mark 7:6–12; cf. 2 Cor. 10:5).
3. A Wrong View of the Savior
False religions twist the truth about Jesus Christ. They deny aspects of either His Person (e.g. His deity, humanity, eternality, uniqueness, etc.) or His work (e.g. His death, resurrection, ascension, etc.). Those who do not worship the true Christ are not truly Christian (John 4:24; cf. John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; 2:22–23; 4:1–3; 2 John 7–11).
Those are three excellent parameters to investigate a church’s or denomination’s theology.
You can read his original article HERE.