Even though it happened over a year ago, I remember your words as if you just spoke them. I had just told you that we were leaving Virginia and moving to Lebanon, Tennessee to join LAMB Fellowship. “I’m just afraid that you might be joining a cult”, were your words. I was surprised, but not shocked, for you were not the first nor the last to use the “cult” word. “Sabbatarian”, “Judaizer”, and “Legalistic”, were some of the other labels that were hurled at us by Christian “friends”. I am sure that you did not realize that LAMB Fellowship was made up of a handful of local families who live across town from each other, along with the other regional families who travel a couple of hours to join us for our meetings. I explained to you that we were not moving into a commune where everyone shared their deodorant, toothbrush, wife, etc. Even though I was trying to reassure you that YHWH was leading us to be part of His body here, you needed a different kind of reassurance. You then asked the standard question that is the accepted litmus test of whether someone is involved in a cult or not: “Who do you say Jesus is?” “Wow”, I thought… “my mother actually thinks that we have joined a cult.” I answered with my understanding on what I was taught and/or led to believe in church about who the Christian Jesus was. I then explained to you how I came to realize that there were a lot of things that did not line up between the Christian Jesus and my Israelite Messiah, Yahshua. I wondered if they could possibly be the same being. I told you that I believe in YHWH Almighty as the creator and my Heavenly Father. I believe that He sent His son Yahshua to show us how to live, how to obey our Father YHWH, and then to die an atoning, sacrificial death for those who accept, believe, obey, and endure to the end. I believe that YHWH sends His Spirit to dwell in those true disciples who obey Him to empower us to live an obedient life, sometimes even seeing miraculous, supernatural gifts exhibited. I do not know if this satisfies your desire of belief that I must acknowledge “the trinity” in order to be saved, but this is what I believe the Scripture teaches.
Mom, this is the most difficult letter I have ever written and it hurts to write it. I remember some of the letters you wrote to me when I was a wild worldly young man (although I was a member in good standing at church… when I felt like going). You wrote letters because I would not listen to your words. They made me very uncomfortable so I only let you get so close while carrying on a somewhat pleasant, but shallow relationship. Please forgive me for not honoring you in the past. Although it may not seem like it, I am trying to honor you now. I am walking a path that is difficult; and I have not had the older men around to help lead me through. It is a path that I pray my children will not have to struggle with. It is very difficult, and almost ironic, to teach them to obey me and trust me and follow in my footsteps, when I am not following in the footsteps of my parents. I want to be honest while still compassionate, and that is sometimes difficult for me. But Mom, we now believe things quite a bit differently; and I am afraid for you. You are afraid that I am involved in a cult, while I am convinced that you are practicing a Christianity that teaches false doctrines. Can we believe things that are opposed to each other and both still be right?
Can you please tell me what do you mean by the word “cult”? Does it mean that I am simply believing some things in error? Or is it so serious that my damnable doctrines ensure that I will not inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of YHWH? If I am only in error about some things, I wish someone would point it out. If my beliefs are damnable, I really wish someone would point it out. You asked if I had talked to a Presbyterian Minister about my beliefs. Mom, I spent a good part of my life as a Presbyterian. But I did ask you to set up a meeting with my brothers or any minister or anybody. I welcome it, because I do want to be Scripturally correct. I am still waiting for that meeting… but you better hurry. As your other three sons are looking all over the continent for some place to try and live to survive Y2K, it may become more difficult to get together.
Have you ever looked up the definition of cult? Webster’s says: “a group or system of religious worship”. Great… thanks alot… we are all a cult! So I went to Walter Martin’s book, Kingdom of the Cults, to see how he defined it. He uses Dr. Charles Braden’s definition: “A cult, as I define it, is any religious group which differs significantly in some one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious which are regarded as the normative expressions of religion in our total culture”. Mr. Martin then adds to this that “…a cult might also be defined as a group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s mis-interpretation of the Bible”. Do you see what power these Christian leaders have? Whatever differs from what they consider normal religion can be labeled as a cult. It seems if you do things a little different from the masses (no Catholic cult pun intended), you can be labeled as a cult. Once a person or group is labeled as a cult, they are discredited and there is no reason to even listen to or consider what they believe or why they believe it. According to the Mr. Martin’s first definition, I guess I am in a cult. But I believe I am in good company because my Messiah was accused of not practicing the normal religion of His day. When a false teacher considers me cultic, should I take that as a compliment?
According to the second part of his definition, Christianity is a cult because they follow in the Catholic churches misinterpretations. No, I am not saying that everything Walter Martin or Christianity has taught is false. But not everything the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses teach is false either. Where do we draw the line? Who decides how much we have to believe correctly to inherit eternal life? I believe YHWH does. Whose doctrine are we to follow? Mom, please consider John 7:16-19: Yahshua answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me. If any man wills do to His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of Elohim, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?’ The Messiah said that His doctrine was from His Father YHWH; which is written for us in what is called the Old Testament. Yahshua showed us how to obey His Father’s commandments; not how to get away with disobeying them. True doctrine equals obedience. Mom, I am thankful that you introduced me to the Scriptures, for it is in them that I have come to believe what I believe. Sure I read other material and listen to other men teach. But how do I know if they are true, or deceitful? Isaiah had a word of warning and exhortation for us: To the law (Torah) and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20). Is anything I am saying making any sense? I desire so much for us to be able to walk this walk together. I want you to search the Scriptures and see if what we were taught is correct. How do I humbly say that I have walked the Christian walk that the Church teaches and I saw the error, so now I am walking in the truth? I have such a long way to go, but I would never get there in a Christian Church. I must work out my salvation with fear and trembling; worshipping in spirit and truth.
I am not sure at what point we crossed over the line in your eyes. You would sometimes attend services with us at the Messianic Jewish Synagogue when we first started walking this walk. You even joined us for a couple of Passover Seder meals. What was the turning point that caused us not to be able to discuss the Scriptures? Was it the Sabbath and Feasts… rejecting christmas and easter and the other pagan holidays… Annie being convicted to wear a covering and more modest attire… keeping a Scriptural diet… or was it that the newness and excitement had worn off and you saw that these were convictions, not just beliefs? Could it have been my zeal or did I antagonistically cause you to retreat in silence? If this is the case, then please forgive me. I had no right to do that.
Mom, you know me about as well as anyone and you know that I want to be right. But in the past, I wanted to be right so I could say I was right. Now, the stakes are much higher. I want my life to line up with Scripture so that I can teach my children to walk in His ways. Please tell me what we are doing wrong? What is it that keeps you from walking with us? We love His Sabbath and Feasts because they are a gift. Just as King David said: Oh, how I love Your law (Torah), we love His law. If David was a man after YHWH’s own heart why would I not want to learn from his example of loving YHWH’s law? If the Messiah obeyed the law perfectly and He is to be our example, how can we say we love Him and not obey Him? If Paul said: Be imitators of me as I am an imitator of the Messiah, how can people twist Paul’s words and teach that Paul showed us that we need not obey? It just doesn’t make sense. Who can improve on YHWH’s commandments? Has anyone come up with a better plan? How can Sunday church, lunch at a restaurant, shopping, and then watching T.V… how can it compare to a Sabbath dinner at home where we break bread and partake of the fruit of the vine while the children are all saying what they are thankful for… never forgetting to say “And you don’t have to go to work tomorrow”? How can it compare to a restful day at home, reading, singing, praying, taking naps, then getting together in the home of one of the families where we sing, read, share, teach, pray for each other, eat together, and enjoy real fellowship? We pleaded with you to stay with us, to experience it with us. It hurt when you went back home on Friday. But Mom, I am hurting more for you. Many years ago you wrote to me: “Tom, I know things are not right – I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voice. It is very difficult to talk to you at times like this but we must talk”. You also gave me a card that said “It’s been bothering me lately when… I didn’t talk about things with you as I should have… and as you so surely deserved. It’s not that I didn’t want to… it’s just that I sometimes get confused about what’s going on; and the more confused I get, the more silent I get and the more I retreat within to feel safe and secure”. Mom, I know things are not right. I can see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice. At times like this it is very difficult to talk to you, but this is no time to be confused, or silent, or to retreat to a false sense of safety and security in your church. Mom, we must talk. If my child was to join something to which I was not part of, you better believe that I would be right there next to him finding out what was going on.
You know that I am not very sentimental, but this is very difficult. I’m sure I could say more but maybe I have used too many of my own words and not prayed for His Spirit to lead you to His own words. Please pray about these Scriptures; I believe YHWH is leading me to share these with you. YHWH is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Thy word is truth (John 17:17). Thy law (Torah) is the truth, and, All thy commandments are truth (Psalm 119:142, 151). Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore, I hate every false way (Psalm 119:104). He that turns away his ear from hearing the law (Torah), even his prayer shall be an abomination (Proverbs 28:9). For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words? (John 5:46, 47). We use to sing the song Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of YHWH (Deut. 8:3 and Matthew 4:4). The remnant or saints as described in Revelation are those that keep the commandments of YHWH and have the testimony, or faith of Yahshua (Revelation 12:17, 14:12). But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says YHWH: I will put my law (Torah) in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people (Jer 31:33). Not everyone who calls me, Master, Master, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Master, Master, did we not prophesy by your Name, and by your name cast out demons, and by your Name do many mighty works? And then I will profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23). The law of YHWH is perfect (Psalm 19:7). Perfection can not be improved upon. The improvement comes when we follow Yahshua’s example of obedience.
Mom, please realize that I do not stand in judgement of your heart. Only YHWH can do that. I see the warnings of Scripture and it concerns me greatly. If you are walking in the truth, then there is nothing I could say or do to cause you to stumble. But if you are walking in the truth, I am not… I wish someone would love me enough to show me the error of my ways. I appreciate everything you did for me growing up; and even after. I know it was not easy raising us four boys by yourself after Dad died. I do not wish that on anyone. I always knew you loved me and for that I am grateful. Could it be though, that somehow you have pointed me towards this narrow path… but you are unwilling to join me? Please Mom, say it ain’t so. My tears are going to make this difficult to read so I better close. I love you, I wouldn’t have taken the time if I didn’t.