Religious Books & Publications
Books and other writings held holy or highly regarded by various cults and religions, or material published by cults and religious groups.
Copyright © 1999-2022, NZ Cult List (Cults.co.nz)
The Books of the Main Cults
Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price. Also consider the Bible to be holy, but Mormons believe it only as far as they think it has been translated correctly.
Religious Books & Publications
Aid to Bible Understanding. Jehovah's Witnesses book. Teaches that lying is OK to non-JWs (people who do not deserve to know the truth).
All Suffering Soon to End. Jehovah's Witnesses pamphlet © 2005.
The Apology. By Robert Barclay. Classic reading for Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
Authorised Version. A version of the Bible more commonly known as the King James Version (KJV).
Basic Text book. Self-titled Narcotics Anonymous book first published in 1983.
Battlefield Earth. Scientology book, written by second-rate science fiction author L Ron Hubbard. We haven't bothered to rate it because it doesn't really rate with reviewers.
Believer's Voice of Victory. Newsletter (and TV show) of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, who are World Faith Movement preachers. Not screening in New Zealand any more. Most of the material was OK, but enough was seriously flaky to warrant a warning.
Bhagavad Gita. 700 verses supposedly spoken by Krishna to his disciple Arjuna.
Book of Abraham. One of the books of the Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Not all Latter-day Saints hold it as canonical.
Book of Mormon. One of the books held holy by Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Claimed to be another testament of Jesus Christ, it supposedly "... contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel." The Book of Mormon has undergone over 4,000 word and doctrine changes since the 1830 edition. Absolutely no archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon has been discovered (except for the part that was copied straight from the King James Bible).
Chrysalis. A magazine published by the Swedenborg cult.
Clear Body, Clear Mind. Scientology book.
The Clear Word. Originally called the Clear Word Bible, The Clear Word is a devotional paraphrase (not a translation) of the Bible published in 1994 which supports several Seventh-day Adventist false doctrines, including annihilationism and the crazy idea that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael. It has been described as "an 'Adventist' paraphrase, incorporating insights from Ellen White" and the author has made significant changes to many passages – see The Clear Word Bible and Annihilationism or The Clear Word Bible, Jesus, and Michael the Archangel for examples. Compare with the Bible:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.
– Revelation 22:18 (NIV).
The Australian South Pacific Seventh-day Adventist Church at one point distanced themselves from the paraphrase, but are reported to sell it in their bookshops, and have since removed the page. Emphasis in original (archived June 2007).
The Clear Word Bible is not produced, nor endorsed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but is the private enterprise of an individual.
The Adventist Church does not use the Clear Word edition, which includes passages from Ellen G. White’s writings, for its worship services and Bible studies around the world, but quotes from well known and well accepted Bible translations in the various languages. In the English language for example, the church uses the King James Version, the Revised Standard Version, the New American Bible*, the New International Version, and others[.]
* Very unlikely because the New American Bible is a Roman Catholic version and SDAs love to hate the Roman Catholic Church. It probably should have said New American Standard Bible.
The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control. By Steven Hassan, author of Combatting Cult Mind Control. Although written with American Republicans in mind, this is also a good book to read to understand why people in New Zealand are falling for the Cult of Trump. From the blurb:
Since the 2016 election, Donald Trump's behavior has become both more disturbing and yet increasingly familiar. He relies on phrases like, "fake news," "build the wall," and continues to spread the divisive mentality of us-vs.-them. He lies constantly, has no conscience, never admits when he is wrong, and projects all of his shortcomings on to others. He has become more authoritarian, more outrageous, and yet many of his followers remain blindly devoted. ...
In The Cult of Trump, mind control and licensed mental health expert Steven Hassan draws parallels between our current president and people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Ron Hubbard, and Sun Myung Moon, arguing that this presidency is in many ways like a destructive cult. He specifically details the ways in which people are influenced through an array of social psychology methods and how they become fiercely loyal and obedient.
In this review of the book in a Psychology Today blog we see in the BITE Model graphic that Donald Trump fits every characteristic of leaders at the Destructive/Unhealthy end of the Influence Continuum.
Daughter of Gloriavale: My Life in a Religious Cult. A book by Lilia Tarawa about her 18 years in the Gloriavale Christian Community. Published in August 2017. Reviews can be found on Goodreads. She also talks about her experience in this TEDx talk [the beginning is laid on a bit heavily, but her talk highlights how much of an idiot Neville Cooper could be – Editor] (warning, some strong language). Also see Sins of the Father below.
The Desire of Ages. By Ellen G White, founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Subtitled The Conflict of the Ages Illustrated in the Life of Christ. Said to be "perhaps the best loved of all her writings" – of which there are a lot.
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Scientology book, written by second-rate science fiction author L Ron Hubbard. It describes his ideas – called Dianetics – about a bogus form of psychotherapy he invented.
Doctrines and Covenants. One of the books held holy by Latter-day Saints (Mormons). "Compilation of alleged divine revelations given to the Mormon church." There have been over 2800 additions, deletions, and word changes since 1833. It also teaches polygamy.
The Epoch Times newspaper. The Epoch Times is an international newspaper first published by Falun Gong members in May 2000.
The Freedom Diaries, My Freedom Diaries. The Freedom Diaries and its sequel My Freedom Diary are heretical books written by Mark Holloway, the latter with his wife Miriam Holloway, in which he claims to recount conversations he has had with God, and teaches others to do the same. The books have been heavily promoted on Radio Rhema apparently without any discernment by Radio Rhema regarding its theology or New Age risks.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV).
How do we test what Mark Holloway is saying? Anything God says will never conflict with Scripture or His revealed character in the Bible. Radio Rhema has failed to apply this test to Mark Holloway's teachings, and consequently has not considered whether The Freedom Diaries and My Freedom Diary are appropriate books to promote. Let's look at an example from Mark Holloway's blog, where he quotes his "God" saying:
But when people get excited and demand scriptural backing tell them to ask me. If they're genuinely interested tell them to have their own conversation back and forward with me and ask me to expand on truth. I'm happy to talk to anyone.
Does Mark Holloway's teaching here have a biblical basis? No, completely the opposite.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
– Acts 17:11 (NIV).
The clear implication is that Mark Holloway is not of noble character when he tells his readers to not examine Scripture. Is there any biblical basis for God expanding on truth where a scriptural backing is lacking? Again, no.
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV).
God has clearly told us that Scripture is itself enough to thoroughly equip us. We do not need extra, non-biblical teaching from Mark Holloway's "God" to "be thoroughly equipped for every good work" or to know God's truth.
The Freedom Diaries and My Freedom Diary are rated Danger for containing teaching out of character with Scripture, contradicting Scripture, for teaching that a supposed conversation with God has greater authority than Scripture, and for downplaying the seriousness of sin. What Mark Holloway has written will encourage Christians to not discern, and not test against Scripture the things he writes.
Freedom magazine. Scientology publication.
Freewinds magazine. Scientology publication.
The Great Controversy. By Ellen G White, founder of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Full title apparently The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan – The Conflict of the Ages in the Christian Dispensation.
Harry Potter series. See Harry Potter in the main listing.
The Inward Journey. By Isaac Penington. Classic reading for Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
King James Bible. Also known as the King James Version (KJV) or the Authorised Version, it was first published in 1611 under the then King James I of England. However, the edition published in 1769 is the edition referred to today as the KJV. Some people falsely believe that the KJV is the only true English version or the most accurate English version. See Which Bible is the Word of God? for more information on that subject.
Kiwi Green, Health Researcher. Newsletter of Hope International.
Koran. See Qur'an.
Mankind's Search for God. One of the standard Jehovah's Witnesses books. First edition had a 3 million print run – possible only because it's required reading for all JWs.
Mastery of Life booklet. AMORC publication.
Megashift. Name of a book by James H Rutz promoting Dominion Theology, which basically says we shall rule and reign before Jesus Christ returns. James H Rutz is reported to have links to Peter C Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation, and Peter Wagner has endorsed the book. In a review Paul Proctor summarised the book thus: "Megashift.com is just more horizontally-focused, earth-centered, group-guided, psychology-based, therapeutically-managed, globalist gobbledygook, covered with a thick white sugary Christian glaze, forwarding the same old anti-traditional, amillennial, dominionist worldview that says WE are going to change this world and make it a better place for a largely unnamed “Christ” to return to and reign over someday."
New World Translation. Jehovah's Witnesses' wildly inaccurate version of the Bible. Bible scholar Dr Julius Mantey said "I have never seen any New Testament so badly translated..." Dr H H Rowley said "From beginning to end, this volume [NWT] is a shining example of how the Bible should not be translated..."
No Cross, No Crown. By William Penn. Classic reading for Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
Omega Times. Originally started by Barry Smith Family Evangelism (BSFE), now published by Brian Hay in Australia and no longer has any association with BSFE. Published monthly.
OT I ~ OT VIII. "Highly secret" Scientology manuals written by second-rate science fiction author L Ron Hubbard. People pay huge amounts of money to have these (science fiction-like) secrets revealed to them, such as the name of the galactic ruler Xenu in OT III. They also have New Era Dianetics OT IV (abbreviated NOT IV etc) and upward. Higher level manuals (up to OT XV) are rumoured to be in preparation.
The Passion Translation. A book by Brian Simmons. It is not a translation of the Bible, but could be categorised as a heretical commentary because it introduces New Apostolic Reformation teachings and practices to Bible verses which simply do not support them. This interesting blog post considers the Four Characteristics of a Trustworthy Translation.
Pearl of Great Price. One of the books held holy by Latter-day Saints (Mormons). There have been over 1600 word changes since 1851. It includes racism. Contains five sections including Selections from the Book of Moses (which itself includes the Book of Enoch) and the Book of Abraham.
(The) Plain Truth magazine. Before mid-1990s: After mid-1990s: Publication of the former cult Worldwide Church of God. Issues of this magazine before the mid-1990s are likely to reflect Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God cult theology, and there are still a lot of those issues around. Present issues are fine.
(The) Philadelphia Trumpet magazine. See Trumpet magazine.
The Physics of Heaven. Strongly New Age book from Bethel Church and the New Apostolic Reformation, published in 2012. Bill Johnson is one of the writers, as is his wife Beni Johnson and Ellyn Davis. The book teaches Christians to use New Age practices and the occult to regain secret practices supposedly lost to the church. One NZ Cult List researcher classes it as a satanic book.
The Power of Now. New Age philosophy written by Eckhart Tolle.
Qur'an. Also sometimes spelled Koran. Holy book of the Islam world religion, the name means "recitation". For information on what the Qur'an teaches see A Topical Study of the Qur'an From a Christian Perspective.
Raising the Ruins. Supposed history book published by the cult Philadelphia Church of God, written by Stephen Flurry, son of Gerald Flurry. This book is rated Danger because of the risk it poses to people doing an incomplete investigation into the history of the Worldwide Church of God and the reforms that group went through.
The Real News. A magazine of COVID-19 conspiracy theory propaganga (ie, garbage) delivered to some New Zealand homes in March 2021. Published by husband and wife Jonathan Eisen and Katharine Smith, and distributed by conspiracy theory groups Advance NZ and Voices for Freedom. Rated Danger for the real risk that following its anti-vaccination rhetoric could result in deaths.
The Real Truth magazine. Publication of the Restored Church of God.
Recovery New Testament. Questionable version of the New Testament freely distributed by Bibles for New Zealand. (The full Recovery Bible is available for a charge.) This version is not recommended reading. It is published by Living Stream Ministry, the publishing branch of the Local Church of Witness Lee, a Christian sect/cult. Unknown if the translation itself supports the Local Church's false doctrine, but it contains all Witness Lee's footnotes, which do support the Local Church's false doctrine.
Recovery Version. See Recovery Bible.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Book written by Robert Kiyosaki. See the Rich Dad, Poor Dad entry in the main list (there because of the personality cult based around it).
The Road Less Traveled. Book written by M Scott Peck in 1978, who also wrote a couple of sequels with similar titles – Further Along the Road Less Traveled (1993) and The Road Less Traveled and Beyond (1997). Although he claimed to be Christian, his books contain very non-Christian teaching and theology. For example:
If you want to know the closest place to look for grace, it is within yourself. If you desire wisdom greater than your own, you can find it inside you. To put it plainly, our unconscious is God. God within us. We were part of God all the time.
This contradicts biblical teaching about grace, wisdom, who we are, who God is, and what our relationship with God is. The Road Less Traveled is rated Danger because its teachings are so very non-Christian yet are so often mistaken as being Christian.
The Secret. A "positive-thinking" self help book written by Rhonda Byrne and promoted by Oprah Winphrey. The book contains much controversial advice – some serious, such as blaming victims of natural disaters for their own deaths.
The Shack. Marketed as a Christian book, written by William Paul Young (aka WM Paul Young), published in 2007. Concern has been expressed about the false doctrine the book is based on, including universalism. Christian apologist Dr Norman Geisler wrote a critical review (broken link, now available as an e-booklet) listing 14 theological "problems" with the book. He concludes:
The Shack may do well for many in engaging the current culture, but not without compromising Christian truth. The book may be psychologically helpful to many who read it, but it is doctrinally harmful to all who are exposed to it. It has a false understanding of God, the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, the nature of man, the institution of the family and marriage, and the nature of the Gospel. For those not trained in orthodox Christian doctrine, this book is very dangerous. It promises good news for the suffering but undermines the only Good News (the Gospel) about Christ suffering for us. In the final analysis it is only truth that is truly liberating. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). A lie may make one feel better, but only until he discovers the truth. This book falls short on many important Christian doctrines. It promises to transform people’s lives, but it lacks the transforming power of the Word of God (Heb. 4:12) and the community of believers (Heb. 10:25). In the final analysis, this book is not a Pilgrim’s Progress, but doctrinally speaking The Shack is more of a Pilgrim’s Regress.
Professor James De Young of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon, USA, had this to say about William Paul Young's teachings just three years before The Shack was published:
I have known the author of The Shack, Paul Young, for more than a dozen years. In 2004, Paul Young wrote a lengthy document in which he rejected his evangelical faith and embraced universalism. I expose these in my book [Burning Down 'The Shack' – review]. He said then: that evangelical faith and its teaching about judgment makes God “grossly unjust”; that “Jesus is a million times more vicious and vindictive than Pharaoh, Nero, or Hitler put together”; that Jesus Christ is “not the Savior from sins”; that Jesus died “a failure and in vain and never saved anyone”; thus Jesus “is not even a good man but a liar, a rogue, and a deceiving rascal”; that “Calvary is a farce, a travesty, and a sham.”
The [South Pacific] Signs of the Times. A periodical tabloid-newspaper-style pamphlet produced by Seventh Day Adventists, published by Patriotic Christian Distributors. Read it for entertainment value only, since it contains lies and half-truths. One 2011 issue, for example, explains how the now deceased Ron Wyatt proved a natural rock formation in Turkey is Noah's Ark (he did not prove any such thing) and claims the Turkish government has declared it to be Noah's Ark (they most certainly have not).
Sins of the Father: The Long Shadow of a Religious Cult. Book written by Fleur Beale. The story of a family torn apart by the power and control of Gloriavale founder Neville Cooper. Reviews can be found on Goodreads. Also see Daughter of Gloriavale above.
Sunday Law Times. A tabloid-newspaper-style publication of Patriotic Christian Distributors. According to Wikipedia The paper is based on the book National Sunday Law by A. Jan Marcussen, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor from Illinois, U.S. Unknown if Sunday Law Times was a one-off publication or a periodical. If the latter, it has apparently been discontinued in favour of The [South Pacific] Signs of the Times.
Tomorrow's World magazine. Published by the Living Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. Big on end-times prophecy articles.
(The) Trumpet magazine. Also known as The Philadelphia Trumpet. Published by the cult Philadelphia Church of God.
The Urantia Book. Very dodgy. It's a lengthy (almost 2100 pages) spiritual, religious and philosophical mishmash claimed to be from celestial super beings. The name "Urantia" is claimed to be their name for Earth. First published in Chicago, USA in 1955. Also called The Urantia Papers or The Fifth Epochal Revelation. In this detailed overview, "Michael Gleghorn takes a hard look at the claims of The Urantia Book and finds it lacking in substance and evidence."
If we compare the teachings of The Urantia Book with those of the Bible, we quickly discover that The Urantia Book, far from being consistent with biblical Christianity, actually denies or distorts almost every fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. For example, contrary to the testimony of Jesus in the New Testament – that the Scriptures are the word of God (Matt. 15:3-6), inspired by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 22:43), and completely true and accurate in all details (Matt. 5:17-18; Luke 24:44; John 17:17) – The Urantia Book has Jesus declaring to Nathaniel, “the Scriptures are faulty and altogether human in origin” (UB, 1767).
The Urantia Book is rated Danger because of the really bad theology taught in it, along with the likely consequences of taking it seriously.
Velvet Elvis. A book by Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, based on his strongly non-Christian theology. In it he teaches that the virgin birth and the Trinity are not essential Christian doctrines. They are essential. He also teaches that everyone is automatically saved – a false belief known as universalism.
Voice, The. The Voice is a (supposed) translation of the Bible produced for the Emerging Church by a collection of poets and songwriters led by Brian McLaren and Chris Seay. Researcher Chris Rosebrough says:
Unfortunately, not since the release of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation of the Greek Scriptures in 1950 has there been a bible published that so blatantly mangles and distorts God’s Word in order to support a peculiar and aberrant theological agenda. ...
I recently purchased a copy of this fresh “dynamic translation” of Bible and spent some time doing comparative work with key passages of the New Testament from The Voice, The ESV and the Greek text. Sadly I must report that this new Emergent “translation” is so far off the mark that I think one could reasonably argue that by producing their own distorted version of the Bible the Emergent church has crossed the line from being a ‘movement’ to actually becoming a cult.
... The Voice inserts peculiar teachings into the text that do not belong. The end result of these ‘insertions’ is a text that obscures the gospel, distorts Jesus substitutionary work on the cross, teaches Pelagianism and promotes a liberal form of works Righteousness.
Some of the changes introduced are very serious. Romans 3:22 is a particularly serious change, which replaces faith in Jesus Christ with the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. The Voice downplays sin, judgement, repentance, and Jesus Christ being the only way to God the Father, as briefly explained here.
Watchtower magazine. Published by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses).
The Way to Happiness booklet. Scientology evangelism booklet.
The White Booklet. "Narcotics Anonymous' earliest self-titled pamphlet."
Word of the Third Testament, The. Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg.
Zend Avesta. Holy writing of Zoroastrianism, supposedly written by their supreme deity (and creator) Mazda.