Cult-Watchers: Cult Watchers Adopt Guidelines

Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR) has adopted a comprehensive manual that establishes guidelines in theology and ethical conduct for member organizations of the countercult network.

"We want to set some standards for the people who are involved in representing the gospel of Christ to people who hold different gospels, to non-Christian groups," said James Bjornstad, president of emnr, which met in Saint Louis for its annual conference in September.

Leaders said the manual upholds adherence to an accountable Christian lifestyle and the essentials of the faith as outlined in the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974.

"We've developed ethical standards as well that deal with one's life, and with their relationship with the church," Bjornstad said. "We would like to see people in countercult ministries functioning and working within the church."

The manual includes hypothetical illustrations to guide members, along with procedures to resolve conflicts. Generally, EMNR would recommend a mediator for most disputes. However, EMNR would investigate charges of immorality or ethical misconduct against a member, Bjornstad said.

"This is a mechanism, a way in which we can police ourselves, to make sure we're not becoming what we're out to try to correct," said G. Richard Fisher, a board member for both EMNR and Personal Freedom Outreach (PFO), which cosponsored the annual conference.

Adoption of the guidelines comes after controversies involving several top evangelical leaders in the cult-watching community.

To date, EMNR has not addressed allegations raised a year ago against fellow cult watcher Hank Hanegraaff and the Christian Research Institute he heads in Irvine, California (CT, Nov. ...

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