In the midst of this examination of the major branches of practice within the American Church, a word must be said about cults.
Ask any two cult experts what defines a “cult” and you will find a variety of answers. For me, the two most common beliefs of pseudo-Christian cults are:
2. “Jesus and…”
Denying the orthodox truth of the Trinitarian nature of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is a surefire way to get a cult label. This test alone weeds out your major pseudo-Christian cults: Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons (Latter Day Saints), The Unity School of Christianity, and others.
“Jesus and…” is a more critical test. Adding to the finished work of Christ is an enormous mistake. Many supposedly Christian churches fall down here, insisting that salvation only comes when something else (i.e. – a ritual, practice, a human leader, or additional extra-biblical theology) is added to Christ’s propitiary work.
The “Jesus and…” test traps the major cults above, too. Sadly, this test also culls the Roman Catholic Church (for more on what the RCC adds, click here.)
For this reason, pseudo-Christian cults will not factor into anything we discuss here.
Our basis will always be that the Trinity reflects the true nature of God and that salvation comes from Jesus’s finished work alone operating in the life of the believer.