“Christianity and the Cults” : an English overview of the Thai book
One of the projects that I have been involved with at Kanok Bannasan (OMF Publishers Thailand) this past year has finally been published. “Christianity and the Cults” (Thai title: รู้เท่าทัน) covers six cult groups that are operating in Thailand that Thai Christians may encounter. In the post, I want to give an English summary of what’s in the book so that missionaries and other English speaking Christians can knowledgeably recommend it to their Thai Christian friends and use it in ministry. This is not a translated book, but is an original Thai book that has been written “in-house” by Kanok, with the help of various contributors.
The introductory chapter addresses three areas that help set the tone for the book, and assist readers in preparing themselves to meet cult groups and false teaching in general.
First, why this book? For some people it may seem distasteful to label someone a false teacher or to say that such-and-such group is a cult, but these are things that we must do because the Bible makes such distinctions.
Secondly, how do we recognize a cult? There are four areas of Christian belief that cult groups usually deny, namely 1) Sufficiency of Scripture, 2) The Trinity, 3) Salvation by Grace Alone, 4) The Church Universal.
Thirdly, how do we prepare ourselves to meet these groups? We need to know the Bible. The best way to recognize a fake is to know the genuine article extremely well. We need to have the right attitude. We are not to attack and assume the worst about cult members, but treat them with respect and kindness because they are fellow human beings made by God. In our conversations with them, we must focus on matters of primary importance. For example, we should not let ourselves get unnecessarily sidetracked into talking about Joseph Smith’s polygamy, but should try to move the conversation to the person and work of Jesus Christ. We should ask questions and listen, not only talk.
Cult Groups in Thailand
The primary part of the book consists of six chapters covering six cult groups in Thailand, listed roughly in order of the size of their work in Thailand and the likelihood that you would encounter them. There are many smaller cult groups in Thailand that are not included here but it is too big of a task to try to cover every group that comes into the country (or rises up from within).
The groups covered in the book are:
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- The Family International (Children of God)
- Unification Church (Moonies)
- Manmin Central Church
- Church of God
The first three groups started in the United States and the last three groups started in Korea. In each chapter, one group is covered, including:
- A brief history
- Distinctive characteristics of the group and how they attract followers
- Point-by-point explanation of the group’s major teachings, followed by an explanation of what the Bible teaches on that point, together with supporting Bible texts written out in full.
Appendix: The True Core of Christianity
Because there is sometimes confusion about what makes a group a cult and not just another branch of Christianity, the final section of the book is a brief appendix containing the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. These two creeds are very ancient, dating back to the early days of Christianity, and are agreed upon by Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches everywhere. While there are certainly importance differences between these three major branches of Christianity, there is still a doctrinal core to which they all hold to that sets them apart from the cult groups mentioned in this book. If a group does not accept the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed, they are outside the bounds of the historic Christian faith.
It is my hope, and that of Kanok Bannasan, that “Christianity and the Cults” will be a helpful resource for pastors, Bible teachers, church members, and any Thai-speaking Christians who encounter cult groups and false teachings so that Thai believers will not only be equipped to defend their own faith, but also to help others who are being drawn into these groups so that they will find the true Gospel.