Our last small group study was on New Religious Movements, perhaps the politically correct way to say “cults,” though several of the groups studied in the book would not normally be considered cults, but instead major religions. For instance, Hinduism and Buddhism are included, though Hinduism was pared with Yoga, and Buddhism was just Tibetan/Dali Lama Buddhism.
I was not always that impressed with the book. While the object was to teach Christians about each movement and possible ways to relate to any members of the movement, some of the articles were much more biased than others. Part of that is due to the fact that each chapter is written by a different author, so it is not always cohesive. Some articles glossed over any good actions the group participats in or funds, and some articles explored only the extreme or negative aspects of a given NRM. I found it best to supplement each chapter with other articles found on the Internet, at sites such as wikipedia, beliefnet, lifeway, and even the NRM’s own official site.
The book is not necessarily written for a small group study — there is no list of group discussion questions at the end. However, I suggest reading the 1st and last chapter before all the NRM specific chapters. I created a checklist based on the last chapter that you follow about each NRM to find out when and how it diverges from “orthodox” Christianity, where “orthodox” means following major agreed upon doctrine.
We also supplemented the book with our own study of a few movements not included in the book
for NRM’s such as Scientology, religions such as Islam, and major philosophies such as Taoism.