Dear David and Caryn,
Thank you for your response to my article on Unity. I appreciate your candor. Let me attempt to answer your questions regarding my comments referring to Silent Unity and what I perceive as the church's cultlike system of belief.
Question: What is Silent Unity?
Answer: Silent Unity is practiced by individuals who are members of a variety of denominations (Methodist, Presbyterian, and others) who believe the teachings of the Fillmores. These individuals would likely be members of a Unity church, but because they live in a city where a Unity church is not present they affiliate or gain membership in a denominational church.
As a member of their respective churches they find areas of leadership: teaching a Sunday School class, working with youth, or some other role where they can subtly disseminate their beliefs. As an example, when I first became a Christian I knew an older woman in our congregation who would always greet me with the phrase, greetings to your Higher Self! Her comment caused me some hesitation but I did not understand why she spoke so unusually. I had never heard the concept of a Higher Self. Some years later I began to gain some understanding of the term when I began to study the occult/New Age worldview.
You may wonder why I would initiate a study of the occult, etc.! My sister had been subtly drawn into the occult (New Age) by a professor in college. She was/is the consummate spiritual seeker. As a result, I began to study in an attempt to help her understand the consequences of her decision to become involved in the occult. Ultimately she became a White Witch. I spent eleven years following her into and then out of dozens of occult groups and belief systems. She finally discovered Unity. When she began to understand its teachings she told me that Unity encapsulated everything that she learned in the occult. An added perspective was that it was an aspect of Christianity. She thought I would be pleased! I knew enough about Unity to know, in my own mind, that she had not made a good choice.
During her two years in Unity I spent that time studying as well. However, my study was to discern the differences between Unity and biblically orthodox Christianity. Her interest was to see how Unity might further deepen her sense of spiritual well-being and further open her intuitive sense of divinity.
After two years of involvement in the church she discovered that, ultimately, she was unfulfilled. Unity was, in her thinking, no different than all the other belief systems she had studied and had become involved in over the previous eleven years. The piece you read about Unity was in part my attempt to help her understand that the Christ of Unity is not the Christ of biblical Christianity. I trust that I did a decent job in pointing out the differences.
Question: What is a cult?
Answer: This is a somewhat difficult question to answer because there are many differing understandings of the term. However, I will attempt to offer you a reasoned answer.
A cult is often defined as an aberration of the norm. In our case, the norm would be Christianity. So the burden then is to determine whether a group (one considered to be a cult) is in agreement with Scripture or whether it is at odds with Scripture. The most fundamental question to be considered is the question, "Who do you say Jesus is?" This is, in fact, the very question I asked my sister for a dozen years. Ultimately, she adequately answered the question without using the occultic grid through which she usually viewed reality. Her doing so changed her life as the God of the Bible changed her perception of what was real and what was counterfeit.
The question of who Jesus is, is a part of the confusion that the occult world attempts to bring about when one desires to become acquainted with the Jesus of the Bible. Cults hold one of two views when it comes to Jesus Christ. They either devalue Him to that of a mere man, or they elevate man to that of equality with Christ (the Higher Self, the God Self, or True Self). Jesus stands as a unique individual among all others. He is the Christ, (not the christed-one) He alone is the redeemer of mankind. There is no other! He is the God-man - God who became man so that man could have a right-relationship with the God of all creation. (I suspect that you get the point; He is indeed different from all of creation.)
So, a cult can be determined by its view of Jesus. Cults are also known by their understanding or teaching regarding salvation (Is resurrection or reincarnation the ultimate end of man?), heaven and hell (Are they reality or are they illusionary?), grace and works (Does grace have a prominent place in my understanding of salvation, or is salvation determined by my good works or some other reality?). The final question we must consider is simply this: Who do I believe that Jesus Christ is? Is He truly the only True God (John 14:6) or is He just one of many whom I can chose from for my salvation?
The definition of a cult that I often use is as follows: A cult is defined by a group of people who follow the teachings of an individual, man or woman, who has a charismatic personality, who has their personal understanding of who God is, the person of Jesus Christ, heaven, hell, salvation, and eternity. Yes! I agree that Christianity is likewise a cult. It is a cult of Judaism. The issue that needs to be reconciled is this: Since the Jews denied Jesus as the Messiah - who then can claim that identity. Jesus is the only one who fulfills the requirements. The Jews missed it; they remained in their traditions and overlooked the Messiah.
David and Caryn, let me be bold in asking you to consider the Jesus of the Bible as your Savior, Redeemer, and the only one who holds the keys to your future in eternity. I would consider it an honor to hear from you in the near future.
Blessings on you both as you seek the truth of Scripture and relationship with God your Creator,
Russ Wise - with Christian Information Ministries
Check us out at: www.Christianinformation.org