With the passage of humanity, various religious manifestations have arisen where different groups of people are affiliated to ideologically have a single religion or specific belief. We invite you to learn more about sects and new religious movements in this article.
We will begin our article with the question: what is a sect? We can define it as leadership with an authoritarian characteristic towards its followers, which means that the decision is solely the leader’s.
Characteristics of the sect
The sects have some particularities or characteristics that we are going to list so that the reader knows more about some of them, these are:
- Community life (not usually always).
- They have not many members or medium constitution.
- The time of creation of the same in terms of chronology is recent taking into account the new religious movements or great existing religions.
- Its spread is not very large but rather limited and the location is regional.
- It is not well recognized socially.
- They tend to have no record in relation to those who control the cults of the state.
- They have rejection regarding institutions, other religions and do not adapt to sociability.
new religious movements
They are congregations of spiritual, philosophical or religious groups that have been born in recent times and have a place within religious culture.
These new religious movements are usually, as their name implies, “new” in origin or are part of a larger religion which will be different from the existing or established religion. Some scientists share this denomination as a neutral alternative to the definition of the “cult” which they consider.
Various authors and social scientists now subscribe to this new definition as a neutral alternative to the word ‘cult’, which they often find offensive. Others also consider similar terms or synonyms. Sociology tries to achieve and establish limits or definitions.
The new religious movements can be constituted by a large degree of movements that have the characteristics of free affiliations, in terms of the content of spiritual or religious approaches.
This type of affiliation requires terms from the followers of such a group and an identification of a social type that differentiates them from the members of other currents of society.
The new religious movements do not generally share similar attributes, but are assigned or assigned according to the dominant religious culture, existing within a space, they necessarily share a set of particular attributes, therefore they have been assigned to the periphery of the culture. dominant religious community, and they exist in a relatively claiming space in society and as a whole.
There are no criteria that describe sects and new religious movements , this term requires that the group be of a recent nature and that differentiates it from existing religious groups.
Some studies focus more narrowly on what is considered different from existing religions. For these studies, the difference is about a faith, which can be considered a component of a religion that already exists, is compared around the rejection of the other religion because they do not share the same creed or ideology and declares itself independent of existing religions.
Likewise, other scholars define their expansion and verification of the difference, taking into consideration the new religious movements, framed within their cultural context of traditions, they begin in new places and modified forms.
Cults and new religious movements vary in authority, leadership, concepts of the individual, family, gender, religious teachings, organizational structures, etc.
These types of variations represent a challenge for scholars and scientists in terms of formulating broad and clear sets of criteria for classifying sects and new religious movements.
According to an interview in 2006, the Executive Director of the Institute of American Religions at the University of California, commented to the New York Times, that in the United States 40 to 45 new religious movements are started each year.
The Christian denominations that are a common part of mainstream Christianity are not considered new religious movements, however the different religions such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the Christian Science Church, Adventists, the Quakers, are studied as new religious movements.
The Catholic Church, the Orthodox, as well as the evangelical churches, consider these groups as “sects” since they do not share the same ideologies of what they consider to be Christian orthodoxy.
Due to World War II, the study of new religions emerged in Japan. This is a step-by-step translation of the Japanese term shinshūkyō, which according to Japanese sociologists they defined to talk about this situation.
The term was accepted by Western specialists as an alternative to the term “sect.” The modern concept of “cult” had emerged in the 1890s, but by the 1970s it had already acquired an offensive relationship, until it was later used by laymen to discredit opposing doctrines.
Thus, according to scholars Eileen Barker, James T. Richardson, Timothy Miller, and Catherine Wessinger, they asserted that the term “cult” had many negative characteristics, and they fought to stop its use.
Instead, the expression “new religious movement” was used, this is used especially in the sociology of religion, as well as in other religious studies. However, some still use the term “cult” or “destructive cult” when dealing with groups that are manipulative and exploitative.
Sects and new religious movements today
The issue of sects is treated in various ways in recent times, because it is of a particularity called “explosion”, so we can say that this has surprised some members of the Church in the last decade.
It is a phenomenon that could be treated from varied characteristics, a theological study on the meaning of sect can be carried out, as well as facing it from the very form of religion.
In fact, the extension of the sects and the beginning of the new religious movements refer to a special situation of undeniable fact, which is related to the process of the culture of the current century or rather since the middle of the last century.
Likewise, we can add sociological elements related to understanding this phenomenon, since there is a particularity in history, on the development of movements of this nature.
We can also explain a psychological study and there are works that deal with the issue of sectarian attitude and differentiate it from belonging to a specific organization.
Finally, we recognize this phenomenon that has political or geopolitical characteristics that were analyzed at the time.
We can say that such a classification of sects and new religious movements is quite complicated. As for the subdivision, it is not the same and on this there are many opinions that coincide with the same.
There is disagreement regarding this topic by researchers due to personal hypotheses, in relation to the difficulty of both dogmatic and ritualistic influences, confusion of doctrines and dissent. The most complete classification is considered to be that of syncretic current groups.
Within it you can see various types from unknown groups and other non-religious, etc.
In this classification, analogies between groups that appear to have little similarity must also be considered, as may be the case of groups of the Gnostic type, compared to Luciferians. There are also groups with similar names as in the case of “Christian Science” and “Church of Scientology” that have little or nothing in common, except for the emphasis placed on the supposed origin of diseases and their possible cure.
Like sects, religious movements have a series of characteristics that differentiate them from other groups, which we can determine as follows:
- Internal leadership is direct or indirect, which is exercised by several or one of the members, with the decision of one or several of the members.
- Life is individual, unlike the missionaries and other members.
- It has a high number of members.
- Its date of creation or emergence in terms of chronology is ancient.
- It has many ramifications and is located at a continental or global level.
- It is recognized at the level of society.
- They are based on controllers of state-type cults.
- They have the particularity of approaching philanthropists or people who seek to do good for the community. Likewise, they relate socially with organizations and dialogues with other members of the new religious movements or official religions.
- Another cause that calls them new religious movements is that it is a sect so that researchers do not have legal problems.
- Some unusual or well-known sects, although they have the characteristic of sharing doctrines with others or even with new religious movements, can function autocephalously or with their own thinking, within small groups or with little knowledge.
These types of sects are part of currents or groups that unfortunately have high growth grouping Christians, pagans and syncretics, all belonging to the new age.
For this reason in this type of sects there is a great syncretism or ideologies that can be shared between groups of different origins, this is one of the reasons why the classification of both new religious movements is difficult and is not usually definitive.
Between sect and new religious movements is perhaps within the terminology of classification, that is, there is no evidence to tell specialists to know for sure if it is a sect or a new religious movement, for example Moon sect or Unification Church .
There is the possibility of knowing it and the most used is the sum of characteristics that they possess, among which are:
The thesis or classification of these groups that are used in terms of the differentiation between one and the other, is a sum of conditions or characteristics determined as follows:
This type of group contains several particular ideologies and each one of them has its own characteristic rites, although the majority have the belief in a universal God.
- Free evangelical: they have a phrase that defines them as (Salvation Army).
- Evangelical Pentecostal: it is another group, being its phrase (Pentecostal Christian Alliance)
- Adventist characterizes the Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
Spiritism is characterized in terms of the doctrine from where it originates, such as France, this happened in the 19th century, its best-known exponent being Allan Kardec. As fundamental principles it deals with the immortality of the soul, the relationship of spirits with man, present and future life, moral laws, likewise it uses people called mediums who serve as a channel of communication between human beings and spirits.
Likewise, Kardec develops the concept of spiritism as the study of the nature, origin and destiny of the dead or spirits, apart from the existing relationship between the earthly world and philosophy, since through this moral consequences are defined that are the result of such relationships.
Likewise, and according to studies, spiritism originates in the home of the Fox sisters, in the year 1948, in which they claim to have communicated with the spirits already deceased, there are curious data that ensure that in the house of these sisters the months moved, cups, objects due to spiritual and even evil forces that were there.
However, Allan Kardec published a book on these issues called The Book of the Spirits and the Gospel. Kardec died at the age of 65, his tomb being attended by thousands of people a year.
Likewise, this doctrine affirms that the individual consists of three components: a material body, the soul and a cord that allows both to be united and which can be evidenced in spiritist sessions through mediums.
This same doctrine promotes the relationship of spirits only through mediums, this has been practiced frequently since the appearance of man on earth.
According to these practices of spiritism, three characteristics are shown to man, the first when God delivers the commandments to Moses, the revelation of Christ and the love of God and the Holy Spirit that does not come with the apostles at Pentecost.
In Allan Kardec’s Book of Spirits, the term “spiritism” appears as a word from the French spiritisme, from spirit “spirit” and isme “doctrine” specifically as the doctrine of spirits, the body of grouped and codified ideas.
As background information we can say that French and English spiritism correspond to two independent systems, which have similarities in terms of principles and definition, which are translated into Spanish differently as the term French spiritism.
The following are mentioned:
- There is an absence of priestly representation. There is no intermediary between God and man.
- There is no cult of images, they do not have altars.
- Absence of rituals such as baptism or marriage.
- Teaching is given and respect and tolerance towards other religions are encouraged. Due to this modality, spiritism is often taken as a second religion.
- Stimulation towards scientific, philosophical and moral instruction and studies. In this group of spiritualists it is important to read books as well as study.
- There is the practice of solidarity and improvement of the individual.
- This spiritualist practice is not for profit and is free.
- Healing, they practice the so-called Christian Science
- Mormon, Latter-Time Saints Believers
It is a group with a religious concept that originated from the Christians of the 6th century, during the Roman Empire, and have beliefs that do not belong to Christianity or Judaism. Below we will express some comments from three groups of this selection referring to these pagan ensembles.
With this term is known a legend of a secret order founded on the “Fama Fraternitatis”, this was published in 1614. This publication was made by the Divine Father, as its members call him, the enlightened Christian Rosenkreuz, who is known among the members of these groups with the initials Hermano CR
This was born in 1378. Several current esoteric organizations and so-called fraternities depend on the organization as such and use rituals in its forms, Freemasonry, and claim to be the heirs of the Rosicrucian Order of the 17th century.
The characteristic symbology of the term “Rosicrucian” is quite complex, however they are mostly made up of different roses (one or more quantity), which decorate a cross.
In other cases the cross is surrounded by a crown of roses, it may be that a double triangle or a star appears; other cases it may be a golden cross with another rose in the middle, or simply a cross.
It can also contain symbols of geometric shapes such as box, circle, triangle; they are all united in one mode. Likewise, the rose or the cross will be decorated with cabalistic or chemical motifs, as well as Egyptian symbols.
Metaphysist, believers in the great Brotherhood of Saint Germain
The so-called Brotherhood of Saint Germain was founded in 1945 by the metaphysicist Conny Méndez, and the scholars of this foundation of practitioners are grouped in it.
It has no place where it functions as such, nor legal personality, its purely spiritual functioning. The member who becomes a member of the Brotherhood of Saint Germain does so personally, only by reading books on metaphysics such as those by Conny Méndez, Master Saint Germain, or others.
By joining the Saint Germain Brotherhood, participants must fully share its way of thinking and the teachings that are given there.
This does not contradict any religion or spiritual groups, any person in particular since they are moved by the expression of the love of life, kingdom, religion, race, sex, society, etc.
Among these are the teaching on the law of mentalism and universal laws. They practice the belief in the “I Am” as a powerful verb and the presence of God.
Give knowledge to the members about what they call Ascended Masters of the great White Fraternity, the study of the New Age, which is also known as “The Golden Age of Saint Germain”.
They incursion to humanity and the members that compose it on the use of Seven Rays, especially the Violet Flame that they call the Sacred Transmuting Fire.
The intention also of this metaphysical group is that humanity knows of its seven bodies and seven planes of manifestation.
They make known the Law of Divine Love and Forgiveness for the rest of their lives, having “Love and Forgiveness” as their north.
They also apply that each person be happy and that this be in every sense home, locality, city, country and on the planet itself, in order to achieve the Ascension of the currents of life and the entire planet earth.
Other data of interest
This Brotherhood does not favor any type of extra activities such as black magic, rites, ceremonies, disciplines, diets, spiritualism, communications from another world, that are the ideology of other types of people.
Likewise, it does not offer titles, degrees either, since it is based on the recognition at a critical level that all human beings are equal.
It has coverage at the level of the entire planet and freely, because it can meet anywhere under its name and with any number of members without power of any kind. The only leader of the Saint Germain Brotherhood is the same called Master Saint Germain.
It has endless texts on metaphysics, among the best known are the series of books by its creator Conny Méndez Metaphysics, as well as books by Saint Germain, and the Ascended Masters.
Author and Metaphysicist Conny Mendez argues that the normal Metaphysical state of a member of the Brotherhood of Saint Germain is described in Psalm 91.
In this group of members belonging to the Brotherhood Saint Germain as well as their affiliation to it is totally free, and they can group themselves in workshops, foundations or metaphysical nuclei of the world, without the need to obtain permission from any specific person.
Likewise, both affiliation and exclusion happen by the member himself at the moment of abandoning the practices and their teachings.
In this group there is no expulsion of any of its members since the members themselves decide at what time to retire or stop belonging to the Brotherhood. She is not linked to a political movement and does not allow within her controversial functions, denigration, hostility or criticism.
It does not work or demand monetary value for the knowledge it develops. Its funds are obtained through the so-called “Loving Donation”, as well as through the legal sale of books, audios, photos, etc.
The Saint Germain Brotherhood as well as all its members worldwide are attached to exercising the work of World Goodwill that they have learned from the Masters themselves and whose purpose is to know them and serve others.
- Hinduism is based on practice and Krishna consciousness – Hare Krishna
Groups of syncretic origin
- Sufi – Gnostic
- Direct sale
Studies of the new religions
These began or had their origin in the 1970s. In a document that was presented at the CESNUR conference in the state of Pennsylvania by J. Gordon Melton, this perspective was used in an article published in Nova Religión and later in Teaching New Religious Movements.
Also the term is used by scholars James R. Lewis and Jean-François Mayer. This study is based on disciplines such as Psychiatry, Psychology, Anthropology, History, Sociology, Theology and religious studies.
They are based on charismatic leadership following the routine model of charisma, according to the German Max Weber.
The sects can be determined by means of four models, according to the Theory of Religion book by Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, these models are:
The psychopathological model: The founder of the sect presents problems on a psychological level, and develops the sect with the purpose of alleviating the problems, as a form of self-help.
Entrepreneurial: In this case, the founder acts as an entrepreneur, trying to create a religion where he thinks it is attractive for future members, generally through experiences of other previous religious sects to which they have belonged.
Social: The sect is formed through a social imposition, within which members intensely minimize the strength of emotional bonds with those who are not members of the sect, and increase the intensity of bonds with other members of said sect.
This allows through these intense emotions the formation of beliefs and rituals that are shared by them.
The normal model of revelations: In this case the sect is formed by the founder who decides the interpretation of supernatural phenomena as natural, likewise develops its own creativity in terms of cult to which it is formed when the founder decides to interpret as supernatural phenomena properly natural, as well as for attributing their own creativity in developing the cult of the gods.
Members of these groups join for spiritual and community reasons. According to the sociologists Stark and Bainbridge, they maintain that the concept of conversion is suggested as more useful in terms of affiliation to these groups.
As for the conference called Why do people join new religious movements? From Jeffrey Hadden, it summarizes a series of situations, namely:
Group membership is a natural human activity. People join these groups for the same reasons they belong to other groups.
Conversion is understood as the experience of emotions that lead to the reorganization of the life of the convert
This conversion is variable as a function of intensity of experience, and degree as to how life-altering the conversion is.
Conversion is one, however it is not the only reason members join religious groups.
Some scientists offer various ideological explanations for why people join these groups.
Some of these theories can be applied to explain why people join these types of groups.
There are no arguments that can explain the causes of the unions of people to these groups. The theories have in common the idea of union or conversion as a natural development.
It is the process by which the members of these groups want to disassociate themselves from them. There are three ways to leave the new religious movements, which are:
By the member’s own decision
By or through expulsion
Through exit counseling intervention
At the time of the disaffiliation of these groups, there is a concern regarding the most dedicated and main members of these movements, as expressed by Eileen Barker, since according to studies some former members cannot have new ideas of another religious movement after past a time.
Leaving is usually something difficult for some members and can create problems of a psychological nature. These traumas can generate conditions on the part of the religious movement itself, Barker mentions that some former members cannot take new initiatives even long after the disaffiliation of the new religious movement. In general, this does not refer to the many superficial, short-lived, or peripheral supporters of the new religious movement.
According to Barrett, leaving can be difficult for some members and can include psychological trauma. Reasons for this trauma may include: conditioning by the religious movement, escaping about the insecurity of life and its meaning, strong experiences about religion, fear or fear of losing salvation, thoughts that donated money and efforts were waste of weather.
The above reasons may be an impediment for a member to leave the group if the member realizes that some situations in the new religious movement are wrong.
According to Kranenborg, some of these groups have all their social contacts in the group, which makes it not very pleasant to disaffiliate and be unhappy.
There is no post-cult trauma on people who withdraw from new religious movements. Unlike the psychological and social problems about resignation, these are not strange, they will depend on the personal history and traits of the former members and ways of resigning.
Religious movements and the media
There is an article published in the United States that criticizes the print media because they do not recognize the efforts of the social sciences on the new religious movements.
This is due to the fact that the new religious movements have a tendency to use the term sect as well as anti-sect organizations, contrary to the definition of social scientific discernment where the failure of the printed media is mentioned due to the recognition of scientific and social efforts on the organizations of the new religious movements.
This is an impulse that adds a subject in the report or ballot in 1985 by Weis, which was built for the evaluation of media reports in relation to the social sciences.
Some have criticized the new religious movements, and others have also been described in several cases by the critics themselves as “sect”. It has become a subject of discussion on both sides, in relation to new religious movements, a subset of which have often been labeled “cults” by their critics, which has been a contentious issue on both sides at times with qualifiers such as “hate group” for the purpose of talking about the other.
The members point out attacks due to the use of methods with controversial, abusive, emotionally and verbally hostile characteristics. The investigative practice of critics is used by the Church of Scientology, it also brings to light the crimes of the past, including misdeeds not yet proven.
Such critics have presented credibility and character that has been subjected to impeachment. In the article by Massimo Introvigne, President of CESNUR, he defines the following: “Many evils: terrorism against sects through the Internet” can create an environment conducive to demonstrations about discrimination and hatred of people from groups of new religious movements.
The new religious movements are many in terms of practices, beliefs, organization, ideologies as well as acceptance by society. There are new religious movements in other countries that are accepted and there is a tendency to the formation of globalized subcultures, this is supported by Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe.
If we compare the members of the new religious movements in the world, it is small in relation to other main religions of the world. However, in the West, scholars determine that there is a significant growth rate of religious syncretism.
In this case, the supporters manifest different methods in terms of practices such as Buddhist meditation, yoga, Hindu methods, New Age visual models. As an example we can mention Celtic Christianity in countries like Ireland.
Due to the variety of new religious movements there has also been the birth of different groups in Africa, Melanesia, Japan. In Africa, there is a new figure of 6,000 new churches since the late 1960s.
Also in Japan there are a number of new religious movements that are characterized by the Shinto belief, as well as neo-Buddhist and new age groups. These arise in the nineteenth century in the Meiji era.
Approximately 25% of the cultures in the world are in Melanesia. These comprise the cultural regions of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.
In Fiji, a group of sects was first perceived by groups of anthropologists as well as other religious scholars. These sects were cataloged as new indigenous religious movements that emerged as a response to changes in culture, colonial and post-colonial.
Among these have emerged in response to colonial and post-colonial cultural changes, including the influence of modernization and capitalism.
During the foundation of the religious traditions considered at present as “established” or “mainstream”, they were cataloged as new religious movements. An example of this is Judaism, which is contrary to Christians and is seen as sacrilege by Roman culture.
Similarly, Protestant Christianity was originally analyzed as a new religious movement of separatist development. Similarly, various naturalistic religions evolved during Christianity and Judaism, using the term “God” as a metaphor.
There are others that have arisen according to a dominant type scientific perspective or because of atheism or belief in culture. Most of these groups know the rituals and spiritual practices and believe it is necessary for the acceptance of many members.
Among these we have religious naturalism, religious humanism, scientific pantheism, Rastafarians, Quakers, etc.
Cybersectarianism as a form of organization
They are small and scattered groups of professionals who exist anonymously within the larger social context and operate secretly. Although they remain linked to a number of believers who generally share practices in relation to a particular leader.
Supporters of the overseas group generate funds and support. Collectively, the members and professionals of these groups create virtual communities of faith, through the exchange of testimonies via email, online, chat rooms, among other means.
This phenomenon referred to the sects, has been developed in the last twenty years, manifesting the religious experience that has been studied since past centuries and that currently has become a form of exasperation.
We can say that this experience is related to the process of religious experience and is closely linked to a division issue over culture.
Recently, the issue of cultural crisis has been addressed, of a matter of replacing one culture with another; of a culture that is overshadowed, of another that is born, etc.
We believe that in terms of culture, religion occupies a central place, we should not undertake in such a way that we cannot discuss the issue of sectarian extension. Regarding this issue we must try to understand Western culture in recent times.
We can say that secularism is assumed by Christian communities that have allowed themselves to be influenced by it, finding a theory on Catholic issues in the 1960s, when the opinions of the masters Marx, Nietzsche and Freud became notorious in terms of theologians and members of church life.
It has also entered the minds of some Catholics. Regarding the situation of the Church and the problem of the sects, it is inevitable to bear in mind the secular accent characterized by today’s culture.
Regarding the advance of sects as well as of the new religious movements, an attitude towards the validity of secularism can be observed. In the year 1960 it was thought that the sacred was totally hidden from Western culture.
However, almost suddenly the sacred emerges such as new religions, reminiscences of ancient pagans, the beginning of sects based on specific foundations and spiritual waves coming from the East.
To understand this whole issue of sects, it is good to observe the relationship in terms of two factors: secularism, which suffocates the religious fact and organizes life as if the figure of God did not exist.
On the other hand, the heterodox forms of religion that have the meaning that the religious dimension of man continually returns to understand the phenomenon of sects and outline an adequate pastoral response, we have to carefully observe the complex interaction of two factors:
The secularism that tries to suffocate the religious fact and organize the life of society as if God did not exist and, on the other hand, those heterodox forms of religiosity that mean that the religious dimension of man continually returns to its domains.
Even in terms of the field itself, secularism based on criteria of the life of believers, it is precisely those who practice the Catholic religion.
The theme in the ecclesial magisterium
Regarding this, we can say that before the last twenty years, the magisterium of the Church has not interfered or they have not been very significant.
Unlike this, in the two decades there are direct references to the problem and a growing concern. The magisterium specifies the reality regarding the theological studies that deal with this subject. However, at the same time it motivates the pastoral proposals and investigations which deal with this matter.
The magisterium has an increasing attention to the problem of sects taking place during a Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America. The document warns of the difficulty of the situation faced by the bishops.
This document deals with sects, syncretisms in outside areas as well as pseudo-spiritual movements. Apparently the denomination of free religious movements was the final name.
A document from the city of Puebla in Mexico, refers to the relationship of growth of sects and social problems, in the face of deficiencies in the maturation regarding the faith of the people of God, and the formation of the laity.
We also have to mention the report of the Secretariat for the Christian Union, since it includes the Secretary for the aforementioned non-Christians, for non-believers and the Pontifical Council for the culture of sects or new religious movements.
In this previous case, sects of Christian origin and those dealing with other religions are observed. Likewise, some sects presented as humanitarian movements are named. Or in the opposite way, that is to say, humanitarian movements that have a characteristic sectarian disposition.
This issue of sects has been discussed at various times, including in 1992 during the IV General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate. In it, the Holy Father spoke as an opening theme on the pastoral problem of the Church, regarding the duality of secularism and bipolarity.
The Pope himself mentions in this conference the causes of the increase in sects and in relation to this he lists them there, and refers very insinuatingly to the lack of pastors offered by the Church in relation to human activity in our countries.
Likewise, the Supreme Pontiff has the thought that the faithful themselves have lost the sense of God in relation to the pastors, seeing themselves tempted to attend this type of sects or other religious movements.
He also thinks that the initiation into sects may be due to the weakening of Christianity, of Catholicism in Latin America. In this same theme he proposes ideas that can improve the pastoral program:
The renewal of the parish as a locality of the Church and the evangelization of the religious in society.
The same Pope in the document of Santo Domingo affirms that it can be thought that fundamentalist sects of Christian origin and free religious movements are marked by syncretism.
Many times these types of sects have been separated from main roots such as Christian Churches, or from what are called Protestant Churches. These types of sects of Christian origin tend to spread in the communities of faithful practitioners of religions. Sometimes these are mixed with superstitious elements, also raising the ecclesial problem.
With this, what happens is to put in crisis the faith of believers in the Church. A pastoral-type program should be agreed where the Catholic identity is insisted on in order to recover the faith of the faithful participants in the Church, as well as their relationship with it and finally the Catholic essence itself.
Other concepts of interest
If we take this into account at the level of the Christological point, this through the biblical text is a characteristic that these groups have their birth from the Christian fact, having as a characteristic of a Jesus close to us and the possibility of our affective bond with Him.
However, this closeness to Christology is often unilateral in terms of the humanity of the Lord, which obscures the characteristic of the Father and one of the Trinity, thus creating and compromising the great central mystery of the revelation of the New Testament discrediting it or leading to ambiguity.
As for free religious movements, they are framed within syncretism. We would have to name this and refer to it in relation to the New Age, which is a cultural movement, not exactly a sect or super-sect.
Rather, today we would have to refer this denomination to what has been called the New Age, that is, the cultural movement, unclassifiable, which is certainly not a sect, nor a super-sect, but a composition of spiritual content , religious or pseudo-religious.
This cultural movement is made up of a new concept between man and his relationship with the cosmos, as well as occultism and Gnosticism in terms of a kind of secret custom of humanity.
These are characterized by new techniques such as prayers, magic, witchcraft, divinatory arts, as well as many other particularities or ingredients, although most of them are extravagant in nature.
However, today it includes from a new conception of man and his relationship with the cosmos, to the old errors of Gnosticism and occultism prolonged throughout a presumed secret tradition of humanity.
The oriental contributions with their prayer techniques, the new manias or divinatory arts, elements of witchcraft and magic and many other ingredients, most of them extravagant, but which today are raised by the media themselves.
Within all this, what is questioned is the faith in that true God, Man and only Savior.
These types of sects are fundamental proceedings, it is also good to say that free religious movements are based on various revelations, including in relation to the scope of human industry such as channeling, spiritualism, and ideologies of communication with the Angels themselves.
According to the new teachings, Jesus Christ is like a kind of transformation of the spirit. Somehow we are in one way or another we are being sued in relation to faith, the life of the Church itself, also in terms of the divinity and humanity of Jesus, also the Catholic ideology regarding the place where the Spirit lives and where receive salvation.
We want to mention the February speech of Pope John Paul II, where a reference is made to the help issued by the magisterium, he addressed a group of bishops from Argentina who were visiting.
The Pope talked about sects and new religious movements and treated it as a problem at the pastoral level of what the Argentine Church and all of America are facing, referring to this issue.
In this regard, it is convenient to highlight the following sentence “It is important to deeply analyze the problem and find pastoral guidelines to face it”, he continues saying thus: “to see how the causes that push many faithful to leave the Church can be counteracted”.
In relation to these words, the Pope gives ideas and suggestions of what are the causes of the increase in sects as well as the option of giving them the proper solution. The only way to deal with this problem is to establish the causes that create it.
These types of causes are identified as the faithful who are baptized in the Catholic Church go to these sects due to false spiritual doctrines that affect the minds of some members, of a somewhat marginal nature of the Church.
Regarding this issue, we can also say that it is a big problem and it would be somewhat difficult to tackle in terms of its complexity. However, points of reflection are presented regarding the concern, being able to achieve a deeper study at the right time.
faith and religion
It is important to mention in order to understand the cause a little more and find the correct pastoral decision, the existing problem regarding faith and religion.
The relationship between these two constitutes a theological aspect, a sensitive issue with a long history in the West. Mention has already been made of the relationship between the validity of secularism and the beginning of sacred affairs, which are characterized by sects and new religious movements.
Such a situation leads us to the comparison between faith and religion. As for Catholic ideology, religion is defined as the attitude exercised with God, it is a special process of manifestation of faith in man.
For this reason, the acceptance of a logic regarding the Lutheran in relation to faith and religion is not possible, which invalidates religiosity as immersed in the law and works in a way that is alien to the faith that justifies.
This situation must be taken into consideration in a very careful way of reflection, since Pope John Paul II himself pointed out that in his speech in Santo Domingo when the faithful searched for sects they did so with a sense of experience with God , which is not witnessed in terms of the pastoral issue and the communities.
This is due to consequences of secularism itself, which also penetrates into the Church itself. The enlightenment mentality is peculiar to modern culture and leads to a minimization of the supernatural in Christianity and a variation of reality referred to as mystery.
As an example we can mention that it is very widespread in terms of ethical reduction, salvation, assistance as a horizontal form. Some believers seem to have their conscience hypnotized regarding the relationship with God since they live involved with the material and some with practical atheism.
The faith of these believers is a distant faith in relation to the realities of Catholicism or some principles of natural morality, lacking even the teaching of the spiritual and the sacramental life that should exist within them in terms of the intimate relationship with God.
These situations are about a positive assessment of the attitude of religiosity and expressions, however it is good to comment that the birth of the sacred and of the sects shows a disposition within the subjective and intimate mode and the expression of religion .
It can be said that religious manifestations deal with and seek contact with divinity, the vibrant experience in terms of the emotional and the direct.
As for the religion of sects, it seems that the relationship with God is minimized to feel saved. In relation to free religious movements such as New Age, it is about a relationship of the self with the divinity as well as the immanentism of gnosis, occultism, etc.
In this case, the search is the verification that God is the conscience, also that the self is God, and also that man is a light of the divine, a small particle of the living God or of belonging to the cosmos.
In this case, prudence is necessary in relation to the secularism that is observed within the current culture, because the absence of the sense of God is overcome, a divergence is not going to occur in relation to the sentimental, intimate, emotional of direct relationship with God.
In relation to the Catholic, it is characterized by objectivity, having its origin in the liturgy, development of baptism, it is nourished by the Eucharist, making it important for believers.
Catholic mysticism does not seek the gratification of feeling saved, but unlike it is an encounter with God through the experience of baptism, it also deals with conversion through baptism itself. So is renewal through repentance and a return to being right in spirit and faith.
Such an interpretation refers to two reasons:
In the first place importance of provision in relation to the formation of the faithful in the spiritual part, and manage to encourage them among themselves about the existence of God and achieve their Christian maturity.
It is convenient that activities be developed at the spiritual level in parishes, universities, the mystical tradition of the Church. Likewise, schools should encourage prayer within them.
In the second case, another way is through evangelization and popular religion, so that it is deep, simple in terms of faith in relation to the mystery of Christ.
Interpretation of faith
In this second concept it is convenient to refer to the interpretation of Christianity, and the meaning of having faith. What does the Christian fact mean? In relation to this there is the double relationship between transcendence and immanence.
The content in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s diary about:
“Christianity is not a theory about the human soul and its destiny after death, but it is the description of a real event in the life of man.”
The interpretation on Christianity is observed, it is not possible to avoid the fact that in recent times this situation has been criticized in the Church itself.
In the document of Puebla in Mexico, some characteristics of some religious movements that separate man from his neighbor were affirmed. The sects are based on an evasion regarding the obligation in the world that is totally separated from the Catholic ideology or the Christian fact.
As a third point we mention, as its name indicates, belonging to the church in relation to the core of reflection has to do with belonging to the Church and the characterization of the Christian.
Free religious sects and movements deal with the issue of ecclesial mediation. This is abhorred by Christian sects due to an inheritance and that the reform of the sixteenth century has affected the intervention of the Church, questions the continuity with Christ.
Free religious movements are born from the pagan movement and are characterized by the individualism of today’s culture, these are ideologies regarding the divine, help to feel good, improvement in one’s own situation, in terms of ecological conditions derived from the life of being human today.
At this point, it is about the Christian culture in terms of the rise of sects and the pastoral decisions that must be made appropriately. The advance of the sects can be mentioned in relation to this and it happens in an explosive way in relation to the fact that the faith is not properly established within the culture.
This happens when the culture is in crisis or shows signs of crisis in terms of the Gospel process, or when the culture becomes so extreme that it is attenuated and lost in terms of the origin of the faith.
Ecumenism and the political problem
This last theme touches on two problems namely: ecumenical and political aspects of the problem.
The sects represent a big problem in terms of the ecumenical movement, as we have already seen extensively. It is not possible to hide the rise of sects and the creation of new religious movements: this creates a problem for the path of ecumenism between Christians and non-Christians.
As for this, the sects refuse to share ecumenically. Free religious movements, because they are syncretic, try to integrate the Catholic as a broader element.
This must be achieved or overcome with patience, lucidity and courage. The recent interventions of John Paul II should be a reason for encouragement, so that this commitment continues with regard to everything mentioned.
This problem of the sects has been tried to lessen in terms of the political dimension. However this is not admissible. Despite the fact that the growth of sects is related to centers of economic, financial and even political power.
We have seen how there is a diversity of religious groups or how the main theme of this article is sects and new religious movements, which have been created over time through the years and decades.
The forms and rituals used in sects and new religious movements are diverse, although some of them have as their north the belief in God, with some exceptions that practice other totally different or contrary ideologies.
We hope that this article has served as an explanation, teaching the reader, this topic and can be clear about the origins, practices and rituals of each of the sects and new religious movements.
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