A Study of the Cults--a Christian Perspective #1


The best way to know a fake is know the original. I am told that in the banking business, tellers are often sent away to school to learn to distinguish between a counterfeit dollar bill and the real thing. This is accomplished, not by studying the counterfeit, but by studying the real dollar. They examine the print, the texture, the color. They get to know everything about real money. In doing so, they are able to spot a counterfeit right away. Money might be made counterfeit in a number of ways. But the real deal is real only one way thus making it easy to spot.

The important thing about studying cults is to realize that a cult is a counterfeit. Although we will examine some of the world’s most popular cults, the best way to see the real deal is to study the real deal. Some people find the study of cults interesting, and that it is, but never lose your desire to study the Truth, the Word of God. In doing so, you will be able to see a counterfeit “religion” for what it is—counterfeit.

That being said, realize though that it is important to understand other religious philosophies, at least to a certain point. You certainly do not want to major on the false teaching of the cults, but it does help to have an idea of what a particular cult believes especially for witnessing purposes. So let us get started.

Just what do we mean when we use the term “cult”? The American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th edition, 2002 says “A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living communally under an authoritarian charismatic leader”.

This would include David Karesh’s Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas. It would include Jim Jones and the People’s Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. It would include the Symbionese Lebanese Army responsible for the abduction and transformation of heiress Patricia Hearst. It would also include the Charles Manson Family who was responsible for the brutal deathsin the Tate-La Bianca murders. As you will see, this is not a good working definition because you may very well be living next door to a cultist and not even know it.

Before giving you our working definition of “cult”, I would like to recommend to you two books. The First, Larson’s Book of Cults by Bob Larson and the classic on cults, The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin.

Now what is the working definition for this class? While this definition may not be all inclusive, we will use this definition. throughout this series of articles. A religious organization is a cult when they ignore or purposely omit central Apostolic doctrines; or if they hold to beliefs which are distinctly opposite to Biblical Christianity.

There are five main areas that when in conflict with the Bible constitute a cult. 1.) The attributes of God (His person, His makeup, His sovereignty, etc.) 2.) The person of Christ (He is God in the flesh and holds all of His attributes. 3.) The nature of man (man is sinful and separated from God because of his sin). 4.) The requirements of the atonement (salvation is by grace trough faith alone in the shed blood of Christ). 5.) The source of revelation (God is revealed only in His Word with no extracurricular revelation).

Let us look at each one of these individually. The attributes of God. God is One God co-equal, co-eternal, and co-existing as three persons in the same substance. We will not take the time right now to look up the following verses, but there is ample Biblical proof for the above statement (John 1:1-3; 14:26; Genesis 1:26; I Corinthians 8:6; Isaiah 43:10; Exodus 3:14; I Timothy 2:5; Psalm 90:2).

Cultic doctrine would teach that God is unknowable and impersonal. This is a central teaching of Hinduism and Bahaism. God is a divine idea, example, or principle as declared by Christian Science. God is not trinitarian as taught by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.

Although I am not one to hold to creeds, concerning the above second point, the Apostles’ Creed states the following about our Lord. “Conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried; He descended into Hell; the third day He arose from the dead; He ascended into Heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” The Scriptures teach this, and again we will not look at each verse, but study them out on your own (John 1:1,3,14; I John 4:3; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 2:9).

Cults would teach that Jesus Chris was just a human being without divinity who attained God consciousness (The Church Universal and Triumphant, The International Community of Christ). They would teach that He is a created being as do the Mormon Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They may teach that Jesus is one of many avatars or revelations of God. This would be the Hindu position, as well as the Divine Light Mission. Notice how cults have a tendency to borrow Christian words to hide behind—words like “divine”, ‘Light”, “mission”, “Jehovah”, and the “Community of Christ”.

The Bible teaches concerning man that he was created by God without sin, but yet willingly chose to sin separating himself from the Creator making the New Birth necessary. Again, see Genesis 1:26, Psalm 8:5, Genesis 1:28, John 3:3, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 5:12, 19, Psalm 51:5 and Romans 1:21.

Typical cult teaching about man deals with his divinity, an emanation of the infinite Impersonal (Theosophy, Rosicrucianism). It deals with man being sinful, but capable of reaching the same “Christ Consciousness” that Jesus attained (Holy Order of MANS). Many cults also believe that man can attain Godhood. This fits in very well with the New Age Movement.

Biblical theology would teach us about the atonement. In a nutshell, the only way to cleansing and the only way to peace is through the blood of Jesus Christ (Revelation 13:8; I John 1:7; Colossians 1:20, II Corinthians 5:19; I Peter 2:24; Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12; Hebrews 9:22; I John 1:9).

To the contrary, the cults would teach that good works is the way to peace with God (Unity, Bahaism). Karma will work out all of life’s discontentment (Scientology, Krishna Consciousness, reincarnation). Some cults would teach that in the end all will be saved (Mormonism, Christian Science).

What about revelation? To sum it up, Christian doctrine states that the Word of God is complete, inerrant, infallible and inspired. It speaks of man’s origin and his destiny, and focuses on the person of Jesus Christ ((Revelation 22:18, 19;II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21; Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 40:8; Hebrews 4:12).

Cultic teaching would include the idea that the Bible needs added books or thoughts, a new written revelation (Mormonism, the Walk). The Word of God needs accompanying explanations (Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Way). The Bible is one of many equally divine, sacred books (Unity, Bahaism).

It is therefore necessary in a study of cults to compare the teaching of the “counterfeit” to the Truth of the Word of God. Let God be true…

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Comments 30 comments

GodTalk profile image

GodTalk 4 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

Good beginning. I'm ready to read more. Keep it coming!


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Great hub, I love your use of curency, in determining the counterfeit! Great introduction, I will be staying tuned! Voted up and useful!


Michael Adams1959 profile image

Michael Adams1959 4 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

Amen, you point it out well. Many think they have the truth but err in their ways not seeing the real truth. They want their comfort but not a commitment to the true God. So easy fro us as Christians to spot a counterfeit but the lost sometimes have no clue.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Thanks GodTalk,

I'll get the next one up shortly.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Josh,

Good to hear from you, Buddy. Thanks for the votes. They're always appreciated. Part #2 is on the way soon.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Michael,

It's so sad, but true. Most of those involved in cult activity will never know it. So keep on keeping on, letting your light shine, Brother! There's much work to do.


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

You are welcome lifegate! Anytime :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Interesting beginning! You are very brave to undertake such a project.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Thanks for stopping by MsDora. It always great to hear from you.


lifeandfaith profile image

lifeandfaith 4 years ago from Idaho

Great hub, lifegate! That is such an important priniple you are talking about to know the true teaching to be able to discerne the false. That is so vital and unfortunately many don't follow that advice and dive in to error. I'll be staying tuned!


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

lifeandfaith,

Thanks for the visit. It is so important that we base our beliefs on the Truth. There are absolutes even if we pretend there are not. Part 2 is on the way shortly so stick around!


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 4 years ago from Burlington

When some pastor talks about "truth" as if he's the bastion of it. That's one of the hallmarks of a cult leader. Especially when they believe and preach about a pagan place called hell.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

SwordofManticorE,

God is truth and He reveals His Truth in His Book--the Bible. Thanks for the visit.


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 4 years ago from Burlington

He reveals His truth to those who follow His commandments of love. Most Christians who are determined to believe in the pagan hell do not follow His Law of love. Like most cults, they follow what their hearts desire. The bible suffers more from its exponents that it does it opponents. As the reader does not read the bible as the bible should be read, they read as they want it to be read. They understand it as they want to understand it.


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 4 years ago from USA- Florida

Very Insightful Bro. Like your counterfeit example, my Mother used to tell that the best way to spot a lie was to know the truth. she told me become an expert at my own religion before I tried to argue against another.

Great minds think alike.

ABR


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Aaron,

Unfortunately I think many Christians make the mistake of not truly knowing what they believe, and when questioned we appear unknowledgaible--which often we are. We are told in Scripture to always be ready to give an answer of the truth that is in us. So that truly is the first goal. Thanks for the input.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 4 years ago from Southern Minnesota

So true that by studying the real thing we are better able to recognize the fake. My Bible Study teacher of 20 years taught us that. She taught me to love the Word of God with full passion and this truly has enabled me to recognize the false.

At our church a long time ago and they were participating in what I call regression therapy which is done in the New Age type counseling sessions. It was encouraged to relive past life situations and insert Jesus into the memory. I attempted to alert those in charge about what it really was but it went unheard. We left for a short time because of it but the Lord eventually corrected things but it was a long time and things fell apart for awhile.

So glad to be back on track. False religion can be sneaky and it is valuable to have a good solid ground on the truth.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

TJ,

Good to hear from you, but sorry to hear about the problems with your church, and glad to hear it straightened itself out. False religion truly can be sneaky making it necessary to constantly be on guard--glad you were!


cristina327 profile image

cristina327 4 years ago from Manila

Nice hub, very interesting topic. which provides great wealth of information. Thank you for sharing this great topic here at HUbpages. Blessings to you always and your family. Best regards.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Cristina,

You're quite welcome. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read!


Cher Anne profile image

Cher Anne 4 years ago from Earth

Yes! Posting this in Facebook group called Cult Awareness and Recovery(the OPEN page) thanks soo much...I was once in The Way! EKK EKK EKKKKKKKKKKKKK

Feel free to join the group and post too.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Cher Anne,

Thanks for stopping by and for the invitation. I'm on my way to teach at a Bible college right now, but I'll check it out later. Glad you lost the Way!


tim kenner profile image

tim kenner 3 years ago from Greater Orange County

Good work, I love exposing the lie with the light of truth in Christ, this is a good series and we are called not to preach what itching ears want to hear but what is true and what has life and can save and blessings to you for exposing the lies and deceptive practices of cults.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hey Tim,

Glad you could stop by. The lies of darkness dissipate when the Light of Christ is injected. Glad you are enjoying the series. Hope you can stop back for more.


Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 3 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

Thank you so much for writing this. Glad to be back and reading you hubs. There is still a lot I need to learn. You help me so much.

God bless you.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Michele,

Glad to see you back. You were missed.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Cults really reach further than I dreamed. Just yesterday I learned some things the Mormons believe and I was so shocked. Years ago I had some Jehovah Witnesses in my home a couple of times and a friend said you press them on this one thing for an answer and I did and well; it was the parting of our ways. These people are not monsters, they are some very good, kind people and I know some Mormons that live such good pure lives but that as we know is not what takes us to heaven but it breaks my heart. There will be some (well there already is) that will not be so pleasant about our Christ and God knows who their god is. Those days are at the door and I pray Jesus our Savior call for us soon for the Christian is being murdered in other countries and it is only a matter of time here.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Jackie,

Certainly these are the last days, so I guess a rise in the number of cults shouldn't surprise us. There are for sure a lot of good meaning people represented in many of these groups, but as Jesus said in Matthew 7:22, 23, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Thanks for checking in!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Yes I thought of that verse too.

If you have not heard of him I find Walid Shoebat a most interesting person to look at right now. A google will take you right to him. I think it is so important. You will not insult me if you wish to delete any of my comments.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Thanks Jackie,

I'll check him out!

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