WHAT IS A CULT?
With such an overwhelming
number of religious groups around these days, it is necessary to
understand the difference between a legitimate religious group and a cult.
What exactly is a cult?
There are two ways to define a cult. The
first way to describe a cult is popular in the secular media. From this
perspective, a cult is a religious or semi-religious sect whose members
are controlled almost entirely by a single individual or by an
This kind of cult is usually manipulative,
demanding total commitment and loyalty from its followers. Converts are
usually cut off from all former associations, including their own
families. The Hare Krishnas, the Family of Love led by Moses David Berg,
and Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church are some examples of this kind of
The second way to define a cult is popular
in evangelical Christian circles. From this perspective, a cult is any
group that deviates from the orthodox teachings of the historic Christian
faith being derived from the Bible and confirmed through the ancient
These groups deny or distort fundamental
Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and
salvation by grace through faith alone. Some cults that would fall into
this category are the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, The
Way International, and the Unity School of Christianity.
Most of these cults claim to be Christian,
and even consider the Bible to be authoritative. But they manipulate the
Scriptures to fit their own beliefs. Although they may claim to serve
Jesus Christ, and may even use the same terminology orthodox Christians
use, their definitions are vastly different.
These groups do not lead to the Christ of
the Bible, but to another Jesus and another gospel (2 Cor. 11:1-4; Gal.
1:8, 9). We must therefore reject these false teachings, and “earnestly
contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints”
(Jude 3). And, of course, remember the Bible also goes on to admonish us
that we must do this with gentleness, and with respect. Remember, you must
present the message, but you need to recognize that it is only the Holy
Spirit that changes the heart.
reproduced with permission
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