A Gaggle Of Groups

All God’s Children, by Carroll Stoner and Jo Anne Parke (Chilton [201 King of Prussia Rd., Radnor, Penn. 19089], 1977, 324 pp., $8.95), Youth, Brainwashing, and the Extremist Cults, by Ronald Enroth (Zondervan, 1977, 221 pp., $6.95 and $3.95 pb), The Mind Benders, by Jack Sparks (Nelson, 1977, 283 pp., $3.95 pb), The Mystical Maze, by Pat Means (Campus Crusade for Christ, 1976, 275 pp., $2.95 pb), Strange New Religions, by Leon McBeth (Broadman, 1977, 154 pp., $2.75 pb), Cults, World Religions, and You, by Kenneth Boa (Victor, 1977, 204 pp., $2.50 pb), and The Youth Nappers, by James C. Hefley (Victor, 1977, 208 pp., $2.25 pb), are reviewed by J. Gordon Melton, director, Institute for the Study of American Religion, Evanston, Illinois.

The new religious movements that grew up in America during the sixties are getting a lot of media attention in the seventies. Many of these movements come from Asia; they represent a major attempt by Hindus and Buddhists to return the compliment paid to their countries by nineteenth-century missionaries. Other groups are led by home-grown messiahs—modern-day versions of Joseph Smith, Madame Blavatsky, and Mary Baker Eddy.

The seven books examined here have three goals: to provide basic information on the new religions; to criticize them on their own terms; and, in most cases, to offer an analysis from a Christian perspective and a tool for witnessing to members of these groups.

The most useful for reaching the first two goals is Carroll Stoner and Jo Anne Parke’s All God’s Children. The authors, both investigative reporters, show an expertise built on long hours of first-hand study of several of the major new religious groups. They are able to give brief but accurate synopses ...

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