False faiths have 'their own dictionary'

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Christians can be deceived by "counterfeit Christianity," James Walker, president of Watchman Fellowship, said during a chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Watchman Fellowship, founded in 1978, is a nondenominational Christian research, apologetics and information ministry focusing on new religious movements, cults, the occult and the New Age movement. The ministry is based in Arlington, Texas.

Walker's Oct. 25 chapel appearance officially marked the transfer of some 20,000 books and 50,000 other documentary items to be held in special collections department of Southwestern's A. Webb Roberts Library.

"Except for God's grace, any one of us could be involved in Wicca, the occult or New Age spirituality," Walker said. "What we want to do is begin to understand and recognize what the difference between genuine and counterfeit is, but also to have a heart to reach out to those of other faiths."

Walker noted three specific deceptions prevalent in religious cults, referencing 2 Corinthians 11:3-4: They proclaim "another Jesus, another spirit or another gospel" from that of orthodox Christianity. He shared the Mormon and Jehovah's Witness views of Jesus, and also showed a video of Oprah Winfrey saying, "There are millions of ways to get to God."

A fourth-generation Mormon before becoming a Christian, Walker said people in cults often use terminology similar to that used by Christians.

"Counterfeits are going to use our words," he said. "They will use all of our vocabulary. But watch out, because they have their own dictionary." Christians must be prepared to ask cultists what they mean by the words they use, he added.

Watchman Fellowship materials housed at Southwestern's library, in addition to the organization's Fellowship's voluminous collection of books, includes files, periodicals and other media that provide original materials produced by groups such as the Church of Scientology, the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.

"It's a good match," Walker told Baptist Press, saying the collection "fits degree programs at Southwestern and gives access to original documents."

Significant to the collection is a replica of an original, out-of-print 1830s-era Book of Mormon which when compared to more recent versions evidences radical, textual redaction. Also included is pre-1975 Jehovah's Witnesses material which predicted Armageddon would occur in 1975.

Barry Driver, dean of libraries at Southwestern, said the Watchman collection is extremely valuable because "we live in an age where spiritual discernment is of paramount [importance] to us."


Keith Collier is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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