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A Christian or Christianity-oriented new religious movement can be a "sect" or "cult" with a doctrine based on Christian scripture or Christian dogma, but deviating from mainstream Christianity by either additional elements (e.g. Lordship salvation, reincarnation, claims of independent revelation).

These minority Christian denominations fall outside the division of Christianity into the three major branches of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Mainline Protestantism. These sects or denominations often imply that mainstream Christianity has fallen into a Great Apostasy.

Numerous such movements emerged during the 19th century in Russian Spiritual Christianity and in the Anglo-Saxon Great Awakenings and Restoration Movement, Christian Science. More recent generations of Christianity oriented new religious movements include the Jesus movement of later 20th century counterculture, with offshoots such as the Children of God; Neo-evangelicalism, Charismatic Christianity and Pentecostalism such as Christ Gospel Churches International and groups of the Independent Sacramental Movement such as The Order of Christ Sophia.

Individual movements within these groupings typically emerge surrounding a charismatic leader figure, such as Apollo C. Quiboloy'sKingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name,.Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, Ikurō Teshima's Makuya, Vissarion's Church of the Last Testament, or Uriella's Fiat Lux, and they often dissolve or fragment following the leader's death. Founders will often add to basic Christian dogma via claims of direct revelation, or in some cases even of identity with Christ.

Contents

United States

Christianity in the United States in particular saw significant denominational upheavals during the 20th century. Pentecostalism, which had its roots in the Pietism and Holiness movements, arose out of the meetings in 1906 at an urban mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The 1950s saw a boom of Evangelicalism, culminating in a "Fourth Great Awakening" during the 1970s to 1980s. As a result, 26% of US Americans, or a third of the Christian population, adhere to a non-mainstream Christian denomination. The Southern Baptist Convention with 16 million members is the second largest religious body in the United States following the Roman Catholic Church. Other new Christian denominations with more than five million adherents in the USA are National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (since 1895), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons, since 1830), Jehovah's Witnesses (since 1870) and the Church of God in Christ (African-American Pentecostalism, since 1897).

Christian countercult movement

A group whose first characteristic was nominally Christian, but not fully based on mainstream Christian dogma, would be a cult as defined by the Christian countercult movement. [1] But if a group is genuinely based on the Christian dogma, it would be a sect (in North American English) or a mainstream denomination rather than a cult — unless it was also organized to practice thought-reform techniques.

Countercult ministries concern themselves mainly with religious groups that regard themselves as Christian, but hold beliefs which they consider to be unorthodox, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Unification church, Christian Science, and Jehovah's Witnesses, although some also target non-Christian groups, such as Islam, Judaism, Wicca and other Neopagan groups, New Age groups, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Eastern religions.

More specifically, conservative Christian authors, especially fundamentalist and evangelical Protestants, narrowly define a Christian cult as a group who claims their beliefs conform to Christianity, yet factually deviate from Christian "fundamental beliefs".[1]

Secular anti-cult movement

A group whose second characteristic was organization for thought-reform ("mind control"), would be a cult as defined by the secular anti-cult movement.

A cult in this sense is a societal organization that includes the totalitarian thought-reform and life-control techniques scientifically reported as characteristics of a cult (without consideration of beneficial or harmful member outcomes).[2]

Christian groups classified as "cults" in government sources

The following is a list of Christian or Christian-oriented groups that have been identified as "cults". See Christian new religious movements for new religious movements inspired by Christianity in general.

French parliamentary commission report (1995)
Berlin Senate report (1997) [3]
  • Fiat Lux
  • Parish on the Road Evangelical Free Church (registered association) (Gemeinde auf dem Weg Evangelische Freikirche e.V)
  • Parish of Jesus Christ (registered association) Boston Church of Christ (Gemeinde Jesu Christi e.V. (Boston Church of Christ))
  • Universal Life (Re-gathering of Jesus Christ) (Universelles Leben (Heimholungswerk Jesu Christi/HHW))
  • Unification Church (Moon movement) (Vereinigungskirche (Mun-Bewegung))
Project Megiddo (October 1999)

Project Megiddo was an FBI report, released on October 20, 1999.[4] Its analysis focused on apocalyptic religious groups, doomsday cults and (New World Order) conspiracy theories. The report stated that certain groups it called "biblically-driven cults" were potentially violent[4]. Groups singled out and analyzed in the report under the heading: "Apocalyptic Cults", included the Branch Davidians, and the Concerned Christians.[4]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Martin, Walter. The Rise of the Cults (1955), 11–12.
  2. ^ Robert J. Lifton, 1961, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (cited by Freedomofmind.com)
  3. ^ Rũhle (ed.), Anne; Ina Kunst (December 1997) [1994] (in German). "Sekten": Risiken und Nebenwirkungen: Informationen zu ausgewählten neuen religiõsen und weltanschaulichen Bewegungen und Psychoangeboten; 7.1. Gruppen mit christlichem Hintergrund [Cults: Risks and Side-effects. Information on selected new religious and world-view Movements and Psycho-offerings; 7.1. Groups with Christian background]. 1 (2nd edition ed.). Senatsverwaltung für Schule, Jugend and Sport. [Senate Administration for School, Youth and Sport]. http://www.ariplex.com/ama/amasenat.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-06.  
  4. ^ a b c Project Megiddo, FBI Strategic Assessment, October 20, 1999, retrieved 3/7/07.







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