From the perspective of Christian orthodoxy, the major sects and cults can be classified according to their attitude towards the authority of the Bible and towards the Trinity and the incarnation.
1. The Bible as the sole authority, but newly interpreted
Jehovah’s Witnesses – deny that the Bible teaches the full deity of Christ. They adopt the Arian heresy of maintaining that Christ was the first created being, and not the eternal Jehovah.
Christadelphians – believe that the Son came into existence only when the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. Previously, he existed potentially in the divine will. After his resurrection his humanity was transformed into divinity.
2. The Bible plus a further revelation
Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) – Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates in ancient Egyptian. They teach that God has a physical body. All humans, including Jesus Christ, were begotten by God in the beginning before being born on earth. Jesus has become God, and we also may become gods.
Christian Science – regards Science and Truth with Key to the Scriptures as supremely authoritative, and it is read alongside the Bible at services. The Trinity is summarised as ‘God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine science or the Holy Comforter’. A fundamental belief is that spirit and matter as opposites and cannot co-exist. Hence matter, ilness and even sin are errors of ‘mortal mind’. ‘Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God.’
3. The Bible with psychic or visionary interpretations
Swedenborgianism – Swedenborg saw visions of angels and the departed, but claimed that his revelations of spiritual truth came from God alone. There is one God, with three essentials that correspond to soul, body and action in man. Swedenborg denies vicarious atonement and justification by faith. Salvation comes through a life lived according to love. Certain books of the Bible, such as Chronicles, Song of Solomon, and Acts, are rejected because they lack ‘internal spiritual sense.’
Anthroposophy – Believes in God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but emphasises union with Christ. Believes in many rebirths. At Jesus’ baptism the divine Christ united with the human soul, and went on to deliver mankind from bondage to evil spiritual world rulers.
4. Fringe movements with secondary use of the Bible
The Church of Scientology – is hardly a church, but rather an approach to psychiatry with some reference to God. Jesus is only one of several great teachers.
Spiritualism – There are various groups, with differing beliefs. Some deny the deity and atoning sacrifice of Christ.
Based on J. Stafford Wright, in New Dictionary of Theology, 633f