Online Ministry

Our ‘family of web sites’ is doing well. In addition to our main sites, Apologetics Index and Religion News Blog, it includes CultFAQ.org (Frequently Asked Questions About Cults), GraceAndMercy.org (articles about God’s grace and mercy) and HouseChurch.nl (information about the church that meets at our home).

Combined, these sites include over 19,100 pages – visited this year by an average of 17,198 visitors a day!

And we aren’t done yet. Additional web sites are slated to be introduced in the new year (stay tuned…).

Following is information about each of our web sites:

Apologetics Index

Last September marked the ninth year that Apologetics Index has been online. As we have mentioned before, when we started the site, we had no idea it would grow anywhere near as big as it has. In the process, I (Anton) learned HTML as I went along – which explains all the different page styles you encounter on the site. It’s a good thing people visit the site for the content and not for the design!

Speaking of content, though: this year we have added and updated far fewer entries than in previous years. That is largely due to the fact that we have had to invest time and energy in other projects, including offline ministry. However, we have recently installed a new content management system that makes it much easier for us to add and update entries in Apologetics Index. You may already have noticed our new design that goes along with it, along with a spurt of recent entries. (That said, since it is near impossible to easily port the older pages over to the new design, most AI pages published before now will remain online in the old formats.

Examples of some recent Apologetics Index entries include:

We have a long list of additional entries that we plan to add. Click here if you wish to receive an email alert each time a new entry is posted to Apologetics Index.

Judging by the feedback we receive we ‘guestimate’ that some 65% of the people who use Apologetics Index come from a non-Christian background. Many of our guests express their appreciation of the fact that while we are opinionated – with a clearly stated viewpoint of our own – we also link to opposing viewpoints.

As always, the aim of Apologetics Index is to encourage research (Details).

That said, we have heard from dozens of people who – having searched and researched – have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior!

Religion News Blog

This year Religion News Blog has become one of the most popular web sites providing news with a specific focus on religious cults and sects, world religions, and various related faith issues. What sets Religion News Blog apart is the fact that it allows people to see stories in context. It is easy to find additional articles on the same topic or issue, and most news items include links to relevant research resources at Apologetics Index.

Used by Christians and non-Christians alike, this service results in lots of positive feedback from religion professionals, reporters, authors, academics, Christian ministers and many others.

Click here to subscribe to a daily email with direct links to the latest RNB stories.

CultFAQ.org

We started our Cult FAQ site due to the popularity of the cult and sect ‘definitions’ section that used to be part of Apologetics Index.

While still small, CultFAQ.org has become a handy and appreciated reference source.

We intend to further develop the site with additional resources. In the course of the new year, CultFAQ will be ported over to our new content management system, which will enable us to easily add and update entries.

The site will also be integrated with our soon-to-be-published database of cult experts:

CultExperts.org

Countless people are – or have been – caught up in manipulative cults, abusive churches, or destructive relationships (so-called ‘one-on-one cults’). Many make it out by themselves, or with the help of friends and family. Others need intervention and/or follow-up counseling.

When you need help, you’ll run into terms like: ‘cult expert,’ ‘thought reform consultant,’ ‘exit counselor,’ ‘intervention specialist,’ etcetera. We’ll tell you what those terms mean.

As in every line of work, among ‘cult experts’ one can find

a) effective, ethical professionals and other experts, as well as

b) loose canons, charlatans and well-willing incompetents.

We are currently in the process of setting up CultExperts.org. Once the site is fully up and running it will provide a handy guide to professional and lay cult experts, exit-counselors as well as ex-cult support organizations and individuals.

Incidentally, to those who have asked: Janet and I provide ex-cult counseling on a very limited basis – usually in the context of our house church. As a licensed mental health counselor, Janet – who works with Holland’s primary shelter organization for abused women – also provides professional counseling services on a limited basis. Her specific areas of expertise include – but are not limited to – dealing with abusive relationships (and other relationship problems), spiritual abuse, depression (and other personal problems). She is fluent in Dutch and English.

Note that, due to the nature and extend of our online and offline ministries – coupled with our health limitations – we normally refer people to other professional and lay counselors.

GraceAndMercy.org

Though GraceAndMercy.org is – for the time being – a small web site, the information presented there represents the core of our ministry. In everything we do, our desire is to share God’s grace and mercy with Christians and non-Christians alike.

As we wrote last year, whether we’re discipling new Christians, training older ones, or counseling people who have been hurt at church, in relationships or by life’s circumstances, Janet and I always make sure we teach – in word and in deed – about God’s gifts of grace and mercy.

We teach from experience, having learned – often the hard way – that God’s grace is sufficient for us. That we can not please God any other way than by living and walking in His grace.

The Bible puts it like this:

“[B]ecause of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:4-9

All Christians know this passage, and many have memorized it. And yet, many Christians do not fully understand what the passage actually means. Hence, much of our time is spent teaching those Christians who are caught up in legalism – the act of trying to please God by performance, including a rigid adherence to man-made rules – that the ‘victorious Christian life’ is not obtained on the basis of performance, but rather on the basis of grace. God’s grace continues to set us free from legalism, and instead allows us to become expressions of Jesus who lives in and through us (see Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:1, Romans 6:1-15).

The GraceAndMercy.org site results in much feedback from Christians who have been trapped in legalistic, performance-based ‘Christianity.’ Combined with an incomplete understanding of God’s grace and mercy, their very desire to please God to the best of their abilities tends to set them up for spiritual abuse. There are all too many churches, organizations and individuals who gladly make use of such a Christian’s need to perform.

Likewise, many non-Christians who have a ‘spiritual hunger’ and a desire to serve ‘God’ have experienced – or are still caught up in – spiritually abusive movements that, unlike Biblical Christianity, place a premium on legalism and performance while dismissing the grace and mercy freely available to all through Jesus Christ.

SpiritualAbuseFAQ.org

Last year we mentioned that we would add a website called SpiritualAbuseFAQ.org. Unfortunately we have not got around to doing so. We do prayerfully plan to put that site online within the next few months, though.

The site -which will take advantage of our new content management system – will highlight resources that deal with spiritual abuse and abusive churches.

HouseChurch.nl

HouseChurch.nl simply provides information about the church that meets in our living room. The biblical concept of ‘church’ is not a building, but rather two or more Christians who meet together in Jesus’ name. Hence we don’t ‘go to church,’ ‘do church,’ or ‘have church.’ Rather, as Christians we are the church – in our case one small expression of the body of Christ.

We look to the New Testament church as a pattern for our fellowship, providing a nurturing community centered around mutual love, accountability and shared life.

We also have relationships of mutual accountability with fellow Christians outside of our house church.