Is the New Church a Cult?

I’m not a huge fan of using the word “cult” to describe religions one considers heretical, for reasons similar to those outlined by Roger E. Olson. I’m even less of a fan of people calling the New Church a cult. I’ve talked to a number of people in my congregation who have been deeply hurt by people accusing them of belonging to a cult, an accusation that seems to come along with the contempt and fear that’s usually associated with that word.

Doug Webber has a good blog post up today addressing the “cult” accusations found scattered around the internet, which often include half-truths and complete misrepresentations of Swedenborgian doctrine.

I particularly like the way he addresses the statement on one website that the New Church teaches that “all religions lead to God”:

Yes and no.  First, it must be understood that Jesus Christ is the Divine Truth in human form.  There are many other religions that contains aspects of this Divine Truth; followers just do not know God has appeared in human form. Another way said: there are many truths that lead to God, but among all religions there is one Love. Loving others is what makes all religions common. There is one religion, however, which leads people away from heaven, and that is Arianism, the modern form of which is the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for they deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Islam is different, because they have no knowledge of the Word.  I may have to devote a separate blog for this item. It is from God’s Divine Providence that He will put bread crumbs here and there in this forest of darkness to lead us back to Him.

The whole post is worth reading.

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  • Doug Webber

    Hello Mary,

    I am not aware of the Principles of the Academy, but one correction in regards to this statement:

    “When I read all the links to your posting this was the definition of cults provided: “All cults have this in common; they deny the biblical doctrine of justification by faith”. That is a Swedenborg specific definition of a “cult” and ignores the volumes of materials available to broaden and expand one’s understanding of cults.”

    That definition of a cult is not a Swedenborg specific definition, it is a Protestant specific definition from a specific author,and thus ignore the real definition of a cult. Also the Protestants fail to realize that they are in the minority among Christians in this matter of doctrine.

  • dawesi

    Interesting it its mentioned in several places you see no need for denominations, however this by definition this is exactly that, a denomination, you can’t call yourself ‘the only’ true Christianity without first considering what else is ‘actually’ really in place, that there are other ‘denominations’ other than yours.

    Dictionary: “a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church.”

    I also notice that comments are only posted to the blog supporting it’s content.

    • Not sure where you see that I see no need for denominations; I’m personally a big fan of denominations. I’d like to see denominations get along better than they tend to, but I think they provide useful clarification about what beliefs a given group holds.

      As to only posting comments that support the content, please see Mary Thompson’s comment on this post as an example of a comment that fairly strongly disagrees with my content. I’ll approve any comment that doesn’t include spam or personal attacks.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • A3aan

    Personally I do not care what people call my church. As any child knows, negative attention is better than no attention.
    Our attention as a church and its member is inward, there is no outreach. Except finally by Offthelefteye. Our daughter always hated to be asked, Who are you?, meaning, where do you fit into the families of the church.
    Someone calling me a jerk would not upset me at all. I’ve been called worse, but it is usually based on a misinterpretation of what happened, or it is the state of mind of the person.
    If anyone complains about our religion being different, I ask them when was the last time you used the Creation Story in your life?? Which usually means the start of a good discussion.
    I feel sorry for everyone to first have to explain who Swedenborg is. Instead it would be nice, as it may start now because of Dr. Oz, that someone reacts as, Oh that is great because I saw this show on TV… etc.
    Hoping for the best