“Counterfeit Christianity” challenged
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Christians can be deceived by “counterfeit Christianity,” James Walker, president of Watchman Fellowship of Arlington, Texas, said during a chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oct. 25.
“Except for God’s grace, any one of us could be involved in Wicca, the occult or New Age spirituality,” Walker said. “What we want to do is begin to understand and recognize what the difference between genuine and counterfeit is, but also to have a heart to reach out to those of other faiths.”
A fourth-generation Mormon before his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ, Walker warned Christians of the signs of deception found in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 which are prevalent in alternative faiths. He identified three specific signs of religious cults, citing that they proclaim “another Jesus, another spirit or another gospel” from that of orthodox Christianity. He shared the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness views of Jesus and showed a video of Oprah Winfrey saying, “there are millions of ways to get to God (other than Jesus).”
Walker recognized that the majority of people in cults are nice people and often use similar terminology to that used by Christians. “Counterfeits are going to use our words,” he said, adding, “They will use all of our vocabulary, but watch out, because they have their own dictionary.” Christians must be prepared to ask them what they mean by the words they use.
Watchman Fellowship is an independent, nondenominational Christian research and apologetics ministry that focuses on providing information and Christian resources for understanding new religious movements, cults, the occult and the New Age movement. The organization recently agreed to reposit its unique collection of materials with Southwestern Seminary. The library was dedicated during the seminary’s chapel service.
Founded in 1978 by David Henke, Watchman Fellowship has built an extensive library consisting of books, files, periodicals and other media that are, for the most part, primary documentation produced by groups such as the Church of Scientology, the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, among others. With the transfer now complete, the seminary houses more than 50,000 of such items, including more than 20,000 books, in the special collections department of its A. Webb Roberts Library.
“We live in an age where spiritual discernment is of paramount corpus to us,” said Berry Driver, dean of libraries at Southwestern. Driver thanked the Watchman Fellowship for their contribution to aiding students in this area, noting that it will be a great resource for students.
The collection has been accumulated over the past 20 years and was obtained through a variety of legitimate means such as estate sales, used bookstores, donations or transactions with new Christians who saw the benefit of making these documents or errant teachings available for ministry purposes. “Word has gotten out about Watchman through the years. When people come across materials, they donate to us or allow us to buy from them,” Walker said. “Occasionally, we have paid top dollar for some of the harder-to-find books.”
The collection contains items such as a replica of an original 1830s-era Book of Mormon produced by the Mormon Church that has been out of print for more than a decade. Compared to more recent versions, it gives evidence of the significant and even radical changes Mormons have made to the Book of Mormon over the years as they have tried to make it more palatable to a broader audience.
There is also pre-1975 material produced by the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) which contains earnest prophecies that Armageddon will happen in 1975 and significantly impacts their credibility.
“We at Southwestern Seminary are grateful to become the repository of the amazing collection of monographs and other significant data relating to most of the cults,” said Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson. “As far as I know, this collection is the most unique of its kind in the world.”