The Cult Challenge of the 1990's
A ritual accompanying all airline flights is a lecture given
by the stewardess concerning "additional safety features"
of the airliner. After explaining seat belt operating instructions, emergency
exits, and seat cushion "flotation devices," she gives
instructions as what to do if there should be "a sudden
change in cabin pressure." (This is a nice way of describing what happens if the plane
develops a hole in which everything that is not tied down along
with all the breathable air is sucked out in a less than 2
seconds!) She then tells what should take place "in the rare event
that such an event should occur": 1) an oxygen mask will
automatically drop from overhead; 2) you should extinguish
all smoking materials; 3) place the mask down over your nose
and mouth, and; 4) breath normally (???).
When flying I have often watched around me as the stewardess
gives these emergency procedures. Most never even look up from their books or magazines. Many
continue their conversations with traveling companions, not
even glancing up to see where the nearest emergency exit is
Why such apathy? I believe that most passengers are convinced
that this safety lecture doesn't apply to them. They have flown
many times in the past and never needed an oxygen mask or an
emergency exit. They feel safe - perhaps
too safe. How different would the same lecture be if, once airborne, the
stewardess preceded her speech by saying, "The Captain
has just radioed the tower that the plane has developed a serious
problem. We will momentarily be losing cabin pressure and we
will attempt an emergency landing followed by immediate evacuation."
Could you imagine the difference if she then shared the same
speech she normally gives before take off? She would have everyone's undivided attention. (I know I'd take
notes!) Each person would listen as if their life depended on it -
and indeed, it may.
I have noticed that, as with average airline passenger, there
is a subtle tendency among some Christians to ignore the cult
problem as something that doesn't apply to them or their family. Often our "safety instructions" go unnoticed or are
shrugged off as irrelevant trivia.
I believe that we are living in a day when every Christian family
faces a very real danger from the cults. The average Christian
can no longer afford to ignore the warning of the cults.
The 1990's are here and our "plane" is in trouble. Cults and the New Age Movement have seen tremendous growth in
the last few years in followers, favorable publicity, and finances.
This is a trend which needs to be reversed in the '90's. This decade is the battleground dictating the future of America
in the next century! Trends which have begun in the 1980's
will almost certainly continue if Christians are not able to
properly "contend for the faith" (Jude 3).
The 1980's saw Mormonism increase from a worldwide membership
of 4.6 to 7 million. Likewise, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has grown from
about 2 million to over 3.5 million in the same ten years.This represents a growth rate of about 75% for Jehovah's Witnesses
and 52% for the LDS Church.
The New Age Movement is more difficult to chart having no official
membership, but in the 1980's the movement gained national
attention with Shirley MacLaine's Out on a Limb book
and mini-series along with her subsequent books. We now have information on several thousand separate New Age
groups in our files - and this represents
only a fraction of the movement.
Who would have thought ten years ago that New Age Channellers
(Spirit Mediums) like J.Z. Knight (Ramtha) and Penny Torez
(Mafu) would be featured on national TV talk show programs?
Its growth in the last 10 years is documented by the fact that
entire "New Age" sections can now be found in most
major book stores in America.
The 1990's will see the major cults, along with many of the
smaller ones, continue to grow and influence millions. Christians in this decade can not look at cult apologetics and
evangelism as an option - it is becoming
a necessity. We sometimes conduct impromptu "surveys" in churches
and colleges where we are speaking. It now seems, generally,
that about 90% of the Christians raise their hands saying they
personally know someone in a cult or involved with the New
The cults are also coming to our homes. Show me someone who
has not had a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness at their door lately
and I will show you someone who needs their doorbell fixed. Seriously, the cults are reaching into almost every home in
America. The Mormon missionary force is now over 37,500 and
every Jehovah's Witness spends hours going door-to-door
each month. The Mormon influence is brought into the home through their
powerful TV specials and public service announcements. (It seems that the Mormons and the beer advertisers have the
best commercials on TV; but, this does not prove that either
is good for you).
Recent issues of the Expositor have shown the influence
of the New Age in all aspects of American life <158>
from well known entertainment personalities to the grade school
text books of some public school systems. Yes, the current cultic influence in the United States has in
many ways made the 1990's a pivotal decade. We at Watchman Fellowship promise to do everything possible
to rise to this growing challenge of the cults.
I ask you renew your commitment to join us in this vital work.
Remember that our teaching and writing is not like the stewardess's
speech - telling of a "what if" situation
that rarely happens. For those of you who have family or close friends in a cult
we know that you are keenly interested in the "emergency
procedures." I challenge the rest of you to listen up to those "safety
features." Be ready for that next Mormon or Jehovah's Witness at the door.
Know how to respond to the Moonie selling flowers at the corner
or the neighbor in the Worldwide Church of God. Learn the warning
signs of a friend or loved on becoming involved in the New
Age Movement. Flight 1990 has taken off - and it looks to
be anything but a routine flight!