ARTICLE AND VIDEO: Is the Church of Christ a Cult or just Heretical? by Damon Whitsell

Please watch both videos because I do not differentiate between the CoC and the hardline CoC in the first one.

I posted this article in a MSN group that I visit. The “Church of Christ” is not the “one true church”! It is a Cult. By Damon Whitsell, I was asked this question,,, “Why does the CoC rate the label “cult” over “heretical”?”, then the questionnaire ask a series of questions voicing his concerns about me referring to the “Church of Christ” as a cult.

What follows is my response.

I would be happy to help out. You said,

QUESTION: “Usually these revelations are presented as truth by a leader who is proclaimed to be a prophet of some kind and whose teachings and writings are considered to be an addition to Scripture and of equal or near equal authority.”

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Responce: The COC claims that all individual congregations are autonomous but in reality they have many “Scholars” that write manuals for them. That is why no matter where you go you here the same arguments and rhetoric from the majority of them. They do not have any extra biblical books such as the Mormons book of Mormon, Doctrine and covenants and the Pearl of great price. They do not have a “prophetical figure“ dispensing “new revelation from God”. But these manuals by COC scholars are considered a “New way” of understanding biblical truth.

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QUESTION: Usually said groups practice one form or another of shunning.

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Responce: The COC is authoritarian in that they claim to be the “only true Christ of Jesus” and only they have the way of salvation. The claim is made that the NT church of Jesus and the apostles ceased to exist and had to be “restored”. They are a part of the restoration movement. You can read more HERE. http://www.how2becomeachristian.info/restorationism.htm

If your not of the COC your shunned as not a real Christian. If you are COC and leave to go to another denomination you are shunned as having left the one true church and forfeited your salvation. This is demonstrated in Sissy’s thread The Church and the doctrine of Christ and many other threads and a considerable number of her post in other thread topics. Can we count the number of threads that have been hijacked by Sissy and her claim to be sinless and her claims that we too must be sinless to be saved?

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QUESTION: Usually said groups reject that salvation is possible by any other means than a strict embracing and adherence of/to their extra-biblical doctrines.

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Responce: This is the case with the COC. Their doctrine of baptismal regeneration (salvation by baptism as opposed to Grace) is thoroughly non-biblical. And so is their claim to be the “one true” or restored church. Their denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit rejects the biblical triune nature of God. I am glad you asked the next question.

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QUESTION: Usually said groups are legalistic and have strict codes of compliance.

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Responce; 2 COC members here have started at least a dozen threads promoting their doctrine of sinless perfection. According to them your not saved unless you sinless. The sinless perfection (or entire sanctification) is not exclusive to the COC. Many Christian pseudo-cults employ and advocate it. At the same time not many COC churches and believers adhere to it. But they do employ an overbearing attitude and practice of legalism. The practice of legalism is employed in all Christian cults. See my article CULT UNITY ? By Damon Whitsell

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Cult apologetics pioneer Walter Martin defined a cult as follows,, In his 1955 book The Rise of the Cults: An Introductory Guide to the Non-Christian Cults, Martin gave the following definition of a cult: “By cultism we mean the adherence to doctrines which are pointedly contradictory to orthodox Christianity and which yet claim the distinction of either tracing their origin to orthodox sources or of being in essential harmony with those sources. Cultism, in short, is any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.”

These “essential Christian doctrines” are alomost universally agreed among cult apologetics ministries to be 1. the Trinity 2. the full deity and humanity of Christ 3. the spiritual lostness (need for salvation) of the human race 4. the substitution atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ 5. salvation by faith alone in Christ alone

Link here— >>>>Watchman Fellowship’s 2001 Index of Cults and Religions (which list well over a hundred cult entries) states that a cult is Cult= “By its primary dictionary definition, the term cult just means a system of religious beliefs or rituals. It is based on a farming term in Latin meaning cultivation. Sociologists and anthropologists sometimes use the term cult to describe religious structure or belief patterns with meanings (usually non-pejorative) unique to their disciplines. In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous. Thus, cult can describe religious leaders or organizations that employ abusive, manipulative, or illegal control over their followers’ lives. In addition to these usages, Christians generally have a doctrinal component to their use of the word. Cult in this sense, is a counterfeit or serious deviation from the doctrines of classical Christianity. Watchman Fellowship usually uses the term cult with a Christian or doctrinal definition in mind. In most cases the group claims to be Christian, but because of their aberrant beliefs on central doctrines of the faith (God, Jesus, and salvation), the organization is not considered by Watchman Fellowship to be part of orthodox, biblical Christianity. Research material and Profile are available.”
This is their entry for the COC.

“Churches of Christ: The independent Churches of Christ movement was one of several associations and denominations that developed from Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott and Barton W. Stone’s restoration movement of the early 19th century, which was designed to promote unity among Protestants. Many (but not all) Churches of Christ today, however, differ from traditional Protestant doctrine in two key areas. Many maintain that water baptism and/or other commandments (rather than salvation by grace through faith alone) are a requirement for salvation (see Baptismal regeneration, Salvation by works). Some also believe that today’s Churches of Christ are the only true churches on earth and that they can literally trace their history to the first century church in Jerusalem. “

Not all COC congregations and COC members are aberrant or heretical to the point of apostasy that they are labeled a cult or cult members. From my reading of (“members who have left the COC”) these figures are stated between 20% and 70%.

From my article,,, Unity Within Diversity UNITY IN ESSENTIALS link HERE

UNITY WITHIN DIVERSITY

A few months ago I was engaged in debates at factnet ( a cult watch ministry ) with followers of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s Chapel. They can be called a Christian cult because they do not hold to essential doctrine. They cannot be called a denomination or a true church. They have nothing in common with others that call themselves Christian except for the name Christian. They hold an unorthodox view concerning the nature of God, man, sin and salvation. From non essentials such as the heresy of pre-existence to the heresy of anglo-Isrealism, to the essentials of God, man and salvation by grace not works or genetics, they are unorthodox to the core. They are not unified within diversity as real Christians are. They are isolated and don’t have unity with those who hold to essential doctrines. Let me explain what I mean by unity with in diversity.

My phone book list about 20 different local Christian churches. Among them are denominations and non denoms and Christian cults. I can go to most of those churches and have much unity in beliefs with them, especially concerning Jesus. In essentials unity, in non essentials liberty and in all things love. Some I could not attend at all because they are diametrically opposed to essential orthodox Christian beliefs, but we must remember that they are cults by virtue of their unorthodox teachings.

Christians churches and denominations enjoy a shared unity within diversity about beliefs concerning God, man, sin and salvation amongst all non cult denominations and non denominational churches. But a follower of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s chapel cannot enjoy that same unity with other local churches. To fellowship they have to travel to Arkansas or do their fellowshipping online with other Shepard Chapelers. They are isolated, exclusive and authoritarianistic because of their beliefs.

There are beliefs that are essential to orthodox Christianity. There are beliefs that are important but not essential. And there are beliefs that have no relevance at all concerning orthodoxy such as eschatology. Because most of these churches hold to essential doctrines they could be called essentially Christian but some would have to be called Christian cults because they are not Christian by virtue of the essence of their beliefs about Jesus Christ yet still apply the term Christian to themselves.

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About Damon Whitsell

In the last 18 years I have spent much of my time studying and doing Christian Cult Apologetics, and I spent 5 years studying, exposing and fighting Islam all @ DamonWhitsell.com. Since the five Dallas Police Officers were assassinated I have been fighting Black Lives Matter and studying it's related issues. It will be my passion and goal for years to come to fight and stop the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Posted on September 3, 2015, in Is the CoC a Cult and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Damon – Rather than use the term, “Christian cult” the cult-watch groups that I am aware of use the term, “Cult of Christianity.” This would be a much better term to use. As a Restoration Movement minister myself (Independent Christian Church) I am very well aware of the cultic nature of the church of Christ (they always use the lower case “c” on “church”). Having studied the cults for over 40 years, I cannot help but see the signs of cultism in the coC. One of their favorite terms for themselves is, “the Lord’s Church” – used in such a way to say that they are indeed the ONLY true church! I am shocked and appalled that what started out with good intentions (unity) has turned into nothing more than a cult, pure and simple. One word of caution: do not judge ALL coC’s by the actions of a few. There are coC’s that are not cultic.

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    • Hi Michael,, Thanks for the comment. I am careful to not lump all CoC together, that is why I use the “hardliner” distinction. I can fellowship with many of them and am always glad when I meet a CoC that is not hardline. I would go to a CoC church if I could find one close enough that was not hardline. The small c is their way of saying they are not a denomination so I always use a capital C. 🙂 And I have always used Christian Cult or pseudo christian cult.

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  2. michaelthepainter

    Something to consider is, Do you have scriptural evidence to back up your claims since what you said concerning the church of christ is not true. You said that the Church of Christ teaches (salvation by baptism as opposed to Grace). Do you know that the church of Christ does not teach this? The church of Christ holds to the scriptural authority of the Bible (Word of God). The Scripture teaches us that we are saved by the Grace of God through faith in the Son of God. Ephesians 2:8-10. Have you ever taken a look at the baptismal verses of the New Testament? Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:11-12; Galatians 3:26-27; 1Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5 “washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” You said the church of Christ denies The divinity of the Holy Spirit, do you know they don’t deny the divinity of the Holy Spirit, but acknowledge the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as God. All three are God. Colossians 2:9; Matthew 28:19-20. The last thing. You have (salvation by faith alone in Christ alone). Did you know that there is only one place faith alone is mentioned in the New Testament. In James 2:24 faith alone doesn’t save, but faith is expressed through deeds. A Christian relies upon the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for redemption. Ephesians 1:7; 1John 2:1-2. There deeds are an expression of there faith, their gratefulness toward what God has done for them. You mentioned legalism. Did you know that legalism is relying upon the law to be saved. The church of Christ does not teach this. (Galatians 5:4) if you are trying to be justified by law you have been alienated from Christ and have fallen from Grace. And lastly did you know that church of christ is mentioned in Romans 16:16 ” The Churches of Christ.” Church of Christ shows ownership. The church belong to Christ. Something to think about.

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