Have you ever wondered where many pseudo-Christian American cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christadelphians, Seventh-day Adventists, Christian Scientists, the Unity School of Christianity and others have come from? Most people have never really stopped to ask that question. Larry Wessels, director of Christian Answers of Austin, Texas/ Christian Debater (YouTube channel CANSWERSTV at https://www.youtube.com/user/CAnswersTV; see websites: http://www.BIBLEQUERY.ORG, http://www.HISTORYCART.COM & http://www.MUSLIMHOPE.COM) tackles this very seldom asked question & the answer he gives may surprise you.
The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther once said, “My dear pope, I will kiss your feet and acknowledge you as supreme bishop if you will worship my Christ and grant that through His death and resurrection, not through keeping your traditions, we have forgiveness of sins & eternal life. If you will yield on this point, I shall not take away your crown & power; if not, I shall constantly cry out that you are the Antichrist, and I shall testify that your whole CULT & religion are not only a denial of God, but also the height of blasphemy against God and is idolatry. – (“What Luther Says”, II:1069). It is obvious from Luther’s definition of CULT he means a religious group that is “a denial of God,” “a blasphemy,” & is considered “idolatry.” Cult expert & author Walter Martin defined “cult” as “a group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s misinterpretation of the Bible.” Authors John Ankerberg & John Weldon define “cult” as “a religious group having Biblically unorthodox and/or heretical teachings & which may fail to meet basic ethical standards of Christian doctrine & practice.” Author Bob L. Ross (one of world’s leading publishers of the works of Charles Haddon Spurgeon) defines “cult” as “a counterfeit of the true faith of the Bible.” The shortest definition of the word cult is “organized heresy.”
It is interesting to note that the American “cults” began in the 1800s (Mormonism – 1830, Christadelphianism – 1848, Seventh-day Adventism – 1861, Jehovah’s Witnesses – 1879, Christian Science – 1879, Unity School of Christianity – 1895) but why? What happened to cause all these sects to suddenly appear on the face of the earth? The answer is Campbellism which began in 1823. Campbellism (also know as Restorationism) is the theological “mother” spawning all these groups.
The religious movement known as “Campbellism” (Restorationism) and adhered to by groups known as “Church of Christ,” “Christian Church,” and “Disciples of Christ,” had its beginning primarily through the influence of two immigrants from Ireland. Thomas Campbell, the father, and Alexander Campbell (referred to by followers as the “Master Spirit”), the son, rebelled against Presbyterianism and ultimately created the Campbellite movement after coming to America in the early 1800s. To make a long story short, these two “Restorers of the Ancient Gospel” (as they were called by their followers) were joined by two other “Restorers” named Walter Scott and Barton W. Stone who discovered that the gospel message in the Bible had been lost & now they were going to restore it (Walter Scott actually claimed to have restored the gospel when he baptized a Baptist named William Amend on November 18, 1827). Utilizing a Campbellite interpretation of baptism verses found throughout the Bible (Acts 2:38, etc.) the “Restoration” of the lost gospel was water baptism “in order to the remission of sins;” i.e. water baptism (plus other obediences) was essential for salvation. Therefore, the Campbellite “Restorationist Plan of Salvation” meant an adherent had to do the following to be saved: hear + believe + repent + confess + be water baptized by immersion + local congregation + Lord’s supper + giving on first day + non-instrumental singing + prayer + benevolence + bible study + no creed + bible name + second law of pardon + obedience to elders + good morals + no Christians in other denominations + scriptural marriage (if married) + no indwelling of the believer by the Holy Spirit, only in the Word + believe whatever the evangelists preach as the Word of God. From this Campbellite religion then came its influence on the birth of other American cults such as Mormonism (Sidney Rigdon, for instance, a close associate of the “Restorers” left the Campbellite organization & joined up with Joseph Smith, Jr. to help begin the Mormon religion). The links between Campbellism & the various cults go on & on.
Those interested in further information on the various cults mentioned here can go to our playlist “Dealing with “Saved by Works & Baptism”, “Church of Christ”” with 85 videos at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBD55090718DA6D3D.