Is Christ in Me International a Cult? – A Response

Christ in Me International (CiMI) is a New Religious Movement developing in South Africa. We were alerted to its existence when we began receiving emails and requests for information: Is this a group that falls within the historic Christian faith but engages in some odd practices, or does the New Religious Movement fall outside the pale of orthodoxy? We have done two web casts on this subject with a concerned pastor from that area, Rudolph Boshoff who has done a great deal of research and is actively alerting others about the group. Our webcasts with him are: “Who is Christ in Me International and Why Should I Care?”  and “Was Jesus the Christ or Was He Just a Human Who Had the Christ?” For the record, we have attempted to dialogue with the leaders of the group and even invited them to participate in the webcast, but they did not accept our overtures. In late February, one of their leaders contacted us to request an opportunity to talk, and we again invited them to participate in a webcast. They have not responded but instead posted “Is Christ in Me International a cult?” The short answer is yes. We will explain our reason shortly.

I have to admit, reading CiMI’s piece was a bit reminiscent of similar material by Gwen Shamblin of Weighdown Workshop/Remnant Fellowship and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. CiMI, like these other groups, trots out definitions (or portions of definitions) of the word cult, and then attempts to prove that their group does not fit said definitions. They then conclude that if they are a cult then so is all of Christianity.

CiMI cites definitions from the Christianity Today website, which shows that the word cult, like most words in any language, has a range of meaning and that one would need the context of the usage to determine which meaning applies:

First of all, a cult can simply be a group that loves something. When people refer to an “Elvis cult” or “The O.C. cult,” the word simply denotes a seriously devoted fan base.

The second definition is that of a religion whose beliefs differ from the majority around them. In the Roman Empire, Christians were sometimes considered a cult because they worshiped Jesus rather than the Roman gods.

The third, and most commonly used definition, refers to a religious group that is

Exclusive. They may say, “We’re the only ones with the truth; everyone else is wrong; and if you leave our group your salvation is in danger.”
Secretive. Certain teachings are not available to outsiders or they are presented only to certain members, sometimes after taking vows of confidentiality.
Authoritarian. A human leader expects total loyalty and unquestioned obedience.

Individual words certainly do have a range of meaning, and the meanings often change or are expanded with usage over time. The context – who I was communicating to, what I was communicating about, and when I communicated it – determines the understanding of the word. For example, the 1890s were referred to as “The Gay Nineties,” and the word gay in those days meant happy and carefree. However, in our time the word denotes attraction to and engaging in sexual relations with members of one’s own sex. Hardly anyone in our time defines the word gay as happy and carefree. Likewise, the word cult does indeed have a larger variety of meanings than those cited in Christianity Today (CT), and the word has a considerably larger range of meaning since it first appeared in English in the 17th century. The “Cult” entry in Wikipedia is helpful on this issue. Sociologists, psychologists, government officials and religious researchers use the word differently, but each also provides the definition being applied.

CiMI compounds the problem by seemingly possessing a lack of understanding of history and orthodox Christian doctrine. They write:

My eye immediately caught that there is something ‘off’ with the second definition, that it should not be there. I would have thought that if you worship a human being as GOD or ‘GOD the Son’ (trinity doctrine) you would automatically fall under the third category that applies to cults? When did it become legitimate religious behaviour to worship a human being?

The first century Greco-Roman Pantheon was polytheistic and included many deities who were at one time fully human persons who had become gods. Romans had no problem adding a new god to their Pantheon – provided the worshippers swore allegiance to the Caesar as the supreme deity with the simple confession “Kaísaras Kyrios” (Caesar is lord). Early Christian believers didn’t worship “a human being as GOD” or a human being who became god, but rather the One True God Who took on human nature in the incarnation.

The Apostle Paul demonstrates this usage in Romans 10:9-13 by co-opting the confession and applying it to the Savior when he wrote, “If you confess with your mouth ‘Iēsoús Kyrios,’ you shall be saved.” The word kyrios simply means lord, but the context of that phrase when applied to Caesar was that he was the supreme deity. Paul’s use of the phrase carried the same meaning, denoting Jesus as the supreme deity rather than Caesar. Paul informs us Who this “Lord” is by applying Joel 2:32 to “Iēsoús” – Jesus – in Romans 10:13. The early believers were to declare and swear allegiance to “Iēsoús” as YWHW – the only true God – which is the very truth that CiMI denies! Paul’s substitution did not sit well with the Romans, of course, and openly declaring “Jesus is Lord” carried a death sentence from the Roman government.

To respond fully to the CiMI article will require one or more full-length articles, a task far too ambitious for this medium. It is our plan to produce a full article on the subject soon. It is important though to point out that the CiMI article cites Christianity Today’s third use of the word cult, which includes the terms Exclusive, Secretive, and Authoritarian then redefines the words to suit the author’s defensive purposes. For example, he ignores the supplied description of “secretive” and instead chooses to make it simply about closed door meetings. “Closed door meetings” was neither stated nor intended by the CT author. What was intended was a group’s practice of holding secret doctrines, often even withholding these deeper “truths” from the group at large and initiating them a little at a time. It would be kind of like the leader of a very large purportedly orthodox Christian denomination privately asserting that there is no hell, though his church has proclaimed the reality of hell for many centuries. What other essential doctrinal deviations may this leader be secretly holding to? The people in the pews should know. Or if an elite cabal in our local church secretly holds to the “truth” that Pastor Dan (our pastor) is the LORD Almighty, we really need to know that. Secrecy involving essential doctrine is a major indicator of unholy and cultic shenanigans. The CiMI author uses a similar bait and switch tactic with each of the three characteristics which describe the third use of the word cult.

In our article, “Weigh Down Workshop a Cult?” (we flesh out the characteristics of cults, as well as provide the definition most Christian theologians, New Religious Movements and cult researchers use which comes from Alan Gomes:

A cult of Christianity is a group of people who claim to be Christian, yet embrace a particular doctrinal system taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization, which (system) denies (either explicitly or implicitly) one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian faith as taught in the 66 books of the Bible. 1

Although CiMI affirms the human nature of Jesus, they deny that He was God by nature prior to the incarnation. He essentially came into existence at His supernatural conception and although a perfect sinless man was no more than that. We address the issue of His nature at some length in “Weighed Down with False Doctrine”  and “Should You Believe in the Watchtower or Is Jesus Christ Almighty God?

In short, we have abundant evidence in the Old Testament of at least two persons Who share God’s name, YHWH. For example, in Zechariah 2:7-13 we have a very interesting passage involving YHWH sending YHWH down to Earth, and YHWH going to dwell in the midst of the people at the direction of YHWH. Well, YHWH did come to dwell in the midst of the people at the incarnation – and, He was sent by YHWH! Hallelujah! In Zechariah chapter 11, YHWH is depicted as being valued for 30 pieces of silver – and the blood money would be thrown into the treasury in the House of YHWH. That is precisely what happened with Jesus at the hand of Judas, who was paid 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus, and he ended up throwing the money back into the treasury in a fit of revulsion. YHWH is the Father, and YHWH is also the Son. We find out later that YHWH is also the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18), There are indeed three distinct persons in the godhead.

Instead of affirming the nature of the Son, they embrace the heresy of adoptionism:

Adoptionism is a heretical theology that claims Jesus was God’s adopted Son. Adoptionism teaches that, because of Jesus’ sinless life, God chose Him and adopted Him. Adoptionism also goes by the name dynamic monarchianism; it was declared a heresy by the church in the second century. Scripture makes it clear that adoptionism is not true. Jesus Christ is not adopted; He is “begotten” (John 3:16, KJV).2

CiMI is simply adopting (pardon the pun) early church heresies which were rejected and refuted by the end of the Second Century. As a result of rejecting the deity of the Son, they also reject the physical resurrection, a doctrine on which the entirety of the gospel hinges. Jesus Himself said He would raise His physical body! John tells us that after the resurrection the disciples remembered that He had said this. (John 2:18-22) Paul cites an early church creed (in existence about 38 A.D.) in 1 Corinthians 15:1-7. Paul asserts that if Jesus was not physically resurrected, the believers have “believed in vain” and there is no hope of salvation. (see The Resurrection: Watchtower-Style).

As is often the case with cults, New Religious Movements and pseudo-Christian groups, there can be sincere people involved who are nevertheless deeply deceived. That should not really surprise us, for the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy:

…evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13)

Deceiving and being deceived is a hallmark of cult groups everywhere.Ω

Don and Joy Signature 2

© 2018, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

  1. Unmasking Modern Cults, Alan Gomes, Zondervan, 1995, p7
  2. ttps://www.gotquestions.org/adoptionism.html

Comments

Is Christ in Me International a Cult? – A Response — 13 Comments

  1. thank you so much for your explanation of a cult.it appears that the group that followed Jesus was also a cult, by your standards, and acts 5

    • Elzabe, Is jy in Xandre se kerk? Xandre is n con-artist of note.He thinks he is the best thing since sliced bread. He and his leermeesters. They are a racist cult and an afrikaner club who think their doctrine isthe only doctrine. Xandre uses witchcraf on his followers believe me i know dark witchcraft.

  2. I appreciate your comments and wonder if you might clarify something. When you write, “It appears that the group that followed Jesus was also a cult, by your standards” perhaps you might be able to let me know which of the essential doctrines Jesus was denying?

    • Very sincere people. Remember going to the same meetings helping with worship when Dawie Spies led TIme Out Ministries which Xandre took over. What I regard as my best and closes childhood friend which I will always regard as a brother is part of this group. A few of my friends which I thought were strong believers in Jesus Christ as The Son of God and as Jesus as Lord and Savior was persuaded by Xandre to believe their new doctrine which denies Jesus as God. But I am convince that some of these followers join because they have a place where they can belong. It is normal. People want to belong and be part of something. A religious club cant be bad right? It is for a good cause right? Xandre has never e-mailed or responded me back in regards to talking about certain versus in the Bible. They still believe that God needs to open my eyes to see that Jesus is not God’s only begotton Son. I just want to say that I beleve I am a son of God as well. I believe I was adopted into God’s family. I believe Jesus paid for my sins. I dont believe I am The Son of God. I believe Jesus is Devine and The Son of God. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I do agree with Xandre that our purpose is not to escape hell and to go to heaven. I believe our purpose while on earth is to reveal Jesus Christ which is living in us. I strongly belief our purpose on earth is simple. Love God with all your heart soul and mind and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. To Love God is to obey His Word. His Word is Jesus. Please study Jesus , read Jesus, invite Jesus. Eat and drink Jesus. Good works wont harm anyone! But I know that good works wont get me saved. I know God rewards people… but in scripture I read that people laid down their crowns(rewards) to Worship Jesus. Also there is a chance God give the same amount of rewards to someone that hasn’t work as hard as you did! Why are we laying down our crowns and bowing down? Jesus is not only the One who paid our massive debt… He is God. He is Wonderful, Counseler, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Everlasting Father. When you see Jesus, You see God! He is the promised one! Messiah! My desire for my friends surely is not to go to hell but denying Jesus as God is inviting hell. Good works or establishing a nice “kingdom on earth” is not a bad idea at all but life on earth will come to an end and we will go somewhere else.

      • Love this response. I know quite a few people who is adopting this doctrine now. People who have been good, solid, christian leaders for years. People who have started to get ‘bored’ in the local church are now grabbing at this ‘new’ theology of CiMI. They believe that they are following the narrow road, while the rest of us are walking on the broad. My BEST friend is choosing this route, and my heart is breaking!

        • Corlene. It is so sad. How is your friend’s family handling it? On my wife ‘s side a lot of her family is involved with Xandre and his cult.
          Surely their credibility with the Carte Blanche story and people like Rudolph Boshoff has been shattered.Thing is if evidence of their wicked ways is presented to their followers they will start doubting Strydom more and more. It is a private club where the ‘leermeesters’ share in the profits.

  3. Not You who wrote this article or the people who responded truly know what PAUL’S
    CHRIST IN ME message is all about.

    This message was given to PAUL THE APOSTLE BY JESUS CHRIST Himself and to no one else. The message from PAUL is the ONE and ONLY TRUE GOSPEL and is for us the GENTILES which means the people outside of the Israelite’s. Please note we fall in the NEW Testament after Christ was resurrected. We got a chance from GOD as the Israelite’s rejected JESUS as Messiah before the Cross and GOD made a plan for us to become SONS through JESUS CHRIST.

    Galatians 1 New King James Version (NKJV)
    Greeting
    1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me,

    To the churches of Galatia:

    3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

    Only One Gospel
    6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert[a] the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be [b]accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

    10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

    Call to Apostleship
    11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

    13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

    15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

    Contacts at Jerusalem
    18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see [c]Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)

    21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God in me.

    Please read your Bible’s correctly and especially PAUL’S Gospel starting from Romans. The first 8 chapters is where you will find where the CHRIST IN ME Message comes from.

    • The World famous Watchman Neé in the early 1900 talked about the concept of to be in Adam or to be in Christ(The book The secret to Christian living). Romans chapter 1 to 8 explain the gospel of in Christ. Nothing God did was outside of Christ everything for believers are stored in Christ. The moment you receive Christ as personal saviour you have all the virtues of Christ example all the blessing of God is in Christ etc. Gal 2:20 Paul says i have been crucified with Christ it is no longer i that lives but Christ in me.

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