Webster: “a religion that is considered or held to be false or unorthodox, or it members.”
Theological: “In the context of traditional doctrines and practices of biblical Christianity, a cult is a group that believes and practices beliefs that are contrary to the (1) Divinity, (2) eternal existence (3)incarnation, (4) virgin birth, (4) exclusive saviorhood, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Plus many other teachings and practices that contradict the Bible (e.g. 66 books).
21 CHARACTERISTICS OF A CULT:
A cult associated with “Christianity” may be identified, according to basic definitions, by one or more of the following characteristics:
- Usually identified by a human founder: (1) Joseph Smith, (2) Charles T. Russell, (3) Mary Baker Eddy, (4) Ellen G. White, (5) Sun Myung, (6) Jim Jones, (7) Ron Hubbard, (8) Hare Krishnas, etc.
- Members are taken though a psychological indoctrination (“brain washing”).
- Their belief system is characterized by closemindedness and a superiority complex.
- Members tend to be antagonistic and rejecting of others who don’t share their beliefs.
- A high level of intolerance toward any position, doctrine, or practice not like theirs.
- Most cults were founded by persons—men and women—who claimed to receive divine authority, revelation, and appointment by God or angels. Some claimed to be God or a god.
- Most cults are apocalyptic believing in the future there will be some cataclysmic, Armageddon, or other major event that only faithful members will survive, etc.
- A cult member will usually stop studying with you if you don’t readily accept their teachings or ask questions they cannot or don’t know how to answer. They are always right, you are always wrong.
- Most members accept organizations teaching without questioning. Usually afraid to question.
- There is usually a national headquarters that controls members and practices.
- There is usually a magazine, book, Bible translation, radio and TV programs to propagate teachings.
- Beliefs are propagated by outreach and “evangelism” efforts (door-to-door, street corners, etc.).
- Members are required to participate in various programs—disciplined if don’t.
- Members support with time, money and participation.
- Some cults emphasize a strong ethic and morality; some just the opposite. Some are inconsistent.
- Some practice “anti-government” and “anti-medical” behavior (Reject all holidays, blood transfusion).
- Have a form of discipline, shunning, and shaming of “unfaithful” members.
- They have members, like all groups, who aren’t faithful to teachings and practices.
- Members are isolated and prohibited from marrying or dating a “heathen”, “unbelievers”, etc.
- Bring reproach on the simplicity of the Gospel, worship, and Divinity of God, etc.
- Perpetuate behavior that brings “persecution” proving they are right and approved by God.
READ: Galatians 1:8, 9; 2 Corinthians 11:1-4; Romans 1:14-16.