The Market for New Religions

Paul Derengowski, ThM

This morning I read a comment from an author, Edwin Franden Dakin, who wrote long ago about the religion that Mary Baker Eddy created, Christian Science, but his comment was broadly speaking about “new religion.”

He wrote, “There is always an audience for a new religion, and always will be. It will be a large and paying audience if the creed seems to offer precious benefits not previously secured.”

Anyone who has done a cursory study of Mary Baker Eddy knows what kind of kook she was, as well as the kookiness of Christian Science.

Nevertheless, with enough trial and error, she finally managed to concoct a new religion that brought in thousands of people, as well as thousands of dollars, which for that day (the late nineteenth century) was big money.

Dakin, though, is correct. When it comes to “new religion,” anybody can become his/her messiah, throw on a toga with laurel leaves wrapped around his/her head, stand out on a street corner or do enough advertising on the Internet, making all kinds of crazy promises or insane comments, and by the end of the day, he or she will have a following.

For instance, in Mary Baker Eddy’s case, she taught that nothing was real, except God; all else was an illusion. God created man, but man is Mind and Mind is God. Hence, “Man is never sick, for Mind is not sick and matter cannot be” (Science and Health, 393).

About the same time Mary Baker Eddy’s “new religion” was starting, Joseph Smith, of Mormon fame, was already going strong with his “new religion.”

Joseph, after much trial and error, finally managed to sway a group of gullible people into not only believing that God was an exalted man, who lived with at least one (most likely several) goddess wife on a planet circling a star, somewhere in the universe, called Kolob, but also that the American Indians were descendants of some “reformed Egyptian” speaking Jews from the Old Testament Israel.

More recently, the airwaves are filled with one slick-talking charlatan after another, promising everything from great wealth to perfect health, but even longer life, if you will only follow their faith-promoting prescription.

Really, Joel Osteen? Where is your biblical reference to support your Tweet? Oh, that’s right, your Bible, like all the false prophets, is being used as a door stop.

The worst thing about all of the “new religions” is that they are not “new,” nor is what they have to offer consistent with the truth.

The Apostle Peter wrote, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” (2 Pet. 2:1-3).

The best way to prevent from being bought or exploited by a “new religion” or false prophet/teacher is to know what the Bible says.

It is the only objective safeguard that God has provided, whereby light is cast upon the claims of those propagating a lie and leaves them either convicted of their error or exiting from your presence.

Of course, knowing what the Bible says requires studying it, in its context, on a daily basis and most people, including most professed Christians, do not want to do that.

So, in place of people being informed on a daily basis what true faith and religion are all about, we have people on a daily basis falling for the lies, distortions, and misdirected guidance of the “new religions.”

Sadly, those same people falling for the lies are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money to be lied to, unless they become the liars themselves and start their own “new religion.”

That being the case, Dakin’s words are affirmed all over again. There will always be an audience for a new religion and some are going to pay for it—perhaps for eternity.

About the Author

President, Christian Apologetics Project PhD Candidate, Northwest University (2018) MA Apologetics w/ Honors, BIOLA University (2005) ThM, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2003) MDiv, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2000) BA Pastoral Ministry & Bible, Baptist Bible College (1992)

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