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Proclamation Index

Crucial Answers from Great Minds: Walter Martin, Part 3 of a 3-part series

compiled by Daryl E. Witmer During this final quarter of 1998 the PROCLAMATION has been featuring excerpts from the teaching of three of the most highly revered definers and defenders of the Christian faith to have lived during the 20th century. This month's answers by the late Dr. Walter Martin are drawn from his classic work, The Kingdom of the Cults, ©1965, 1977, 1985, Revised and Updated Edition, Bethany House Publishers. For purposes of this series, Dr. Martin's writings are excerpted and presented here in interview format. There was, of course, no actual exchange. Dr. Walter Martin (1928 - 1989) was founder and director of the Christian Re search Institute based in southern California. During his lifetime, Martin became a widely revered authority on cultic and other aberrational trends effecting the Christian faith, lecturing and speaking in hundreds of colleges, seminaries, and local churches throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He authored dozens of books, booklets, and articles. For years he was known as "The Bible Answer Man" on a nationally syndicated radio talk show. OUR QUESTION The effort to accurately define and defend Christianity often seems to result in critical commentary about the cults. Is this always necessary and useful? Some might say, "Any religion promoting God is good, isn't it?" WALTER MARTIN'S ANSWER I must dissent from the view that "all roads that lead to God are good" and believe instead the words of our Lord, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). It should be carefully noted that Jesus did not say, "I am one of many equally good ways," or, "I am a better way than the others, I am an aspect of truth; I am a fragment of the life." Instead His claim was absolute, and allegiance to Him...was to take precedence over all.... OUR QUESTION Are cults & false doctrine really such a big deal today? WALTER MARTIN'S ANSWER A study of the cults is a serious business. They constitute a growing trend in America-a trend which is away from the established Christian churches and the historic teachings of the Bible-an emphasis upon autosoteric efforts, or the desire to save one's self apart from Biblical revelation. OUR QUESTION How do cults get started in the first place? Does someone just decide to invent a cult? What's behind it all? WALTER MARTIN'S ANSWER It may seem like oversimplification and naivetŽ to some people to suggest that Satan is the prime mover and architect of the major cult systems, but a careful consideration of the Biblical evidence will allow no other conclusion. OUR QUESTION How would you respond to those who might say, "But didn't Jesus teach tolerance? Didn't Jesus promote forbearance? Didn't Jesus pray for unity?" WALTER MARTIN'S ANSWER This is all well and good, if we are speaking about a firm foundation of doctrinal, as well as of moral and ethical truth, and if we are speaking about true unity within the Body of Christ. But if, as some suggest, this be broadened to include those who are not in agreement with the essentials of Biblical Christianity, we must resolutely oppose it. _________________________________________________ "Today, the kingdom of the cults stretches throughout the world...with over 20 million cult members in the United States alone." -Walter Martin _________________________________________________ OUR QUESTION What is needed to get to the root of cultic deception? WALTER MARTIN'S ANSWER Insistence of definitions of the terms employed in conversation, (particularly concerning the nature of God and the Person, nature, and work of Jesus Christ), would strip the cult theology of one of its most potent tools, that of theological term-switching. CONCLUDING COMMENT BY DR. MARTIN Cultists are souls for whom Jesus Christ died. Above excerpts taken from Kingdom of the Cults ©1965, 1977, 1985 Bethany House

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