With an increasing number of Hong Kong believers settling in the United Kingdom, new churches are being established in various areas, which is a heartening phenomenon. However, concurrently, there are also other sects and even heresies that have begun to develop, attempting to work within the Hong Kong people. Why is guarding against heresy so important? Because it concerns matters of salvation. If what we receive is not pure doctrine, where might we be led? Can a deviant belief lead people to the path of eternal life? Therefore, I hope to outline the characteristics of deviating from orthodox Christian faith through the following points:
- Diminishing the Authority of the Bible
Since the time of the Reformation, Sola Scriptura (Bible alone) which means the highest authority has been upheld in evangelistic churches. Although many heretical groups also read the Bible or cite verses from the Scripture to propagate their false teachings, they often misinterpret certain passages to fit their own ideas or even establish writings outside the Bible, treating them as equally authoritative.
- Claiming that Jesus has Returned or Predicting the Exact Date of His Second Coming
We have entered the last days, but we still await the final end, during which a series of events will occur, including the Second Coming of Christ, great tribulations, the Rapture, the Millennium, and so on. However, Jesus Himself clearly stated that no one knows the day of the end times (Matthew 24:36). Anyone claiming that Christ has returned or predicting the exact year and day of His coming should be regarded as a false prophet.
- Manipulating the Thoughts and Daily Lives of Believers
In order to make followers unwaveringly believe their teachings, extreme or cultic groups leave no room for independent thought. Apart from intensive indoctrination (e.g. daily gatherings, constant supervision), they even intervene in various aspects of life, though they do not contradict the faith. Moreover, they use manipulative, psychological tactics, such as gaslighting, continuously pressuring believers emotionally or challenging them to the extent of extreme self-denial, making them doubt themselves in all aspects and forcing them to rely solely on the cults.
- Inciting Distrust in the Christian Church
Sects often consider their own beliefs as the pure truth and view themselves as the sole guardians of that truth, leading to intentional isolation from other Christian churches. Furthermore, they deliberately attack and defame other churches, fostering a lack of trust among the members of those churches. This tactic aims to draw people away from their own churches and towards them. While no church is perfect and each church’s development has its unique vision, we must be cautious against those attacking and damaging the unity of the church, focusing excessively on its shortcomings or less emphasized ministries. These gaps are where individuals with extreme or distorted beliefs can easily take advantage.
May the Lord help us remain vigilant, equip ourselves, and avoid falling into confusion of our faith.