What is a "CULT"?
In answering emails and letters we often receive general questions that are asked time and again. Here is my response to one received in early 2002.
Thanks for writing me at our web site.
You asked a great question...it was, "what is a cult? How do you know one? How can you tell, etc?"
As you can probably imagine, there are many different definitions for what a cult might be depending on your basis for ultimate truth.
This is the way I define a cult. It is based upon God's Word being the ultimate interpreter of truth. Keep in mind that there are separate definitions for the occult, the New Age Movement and for what are classified as world religions (Islam, Hinduism, etc.)
- A cult is a group that believes doctrines other than the central doctrines of Christianity as taught by the Bible. (Emphasis on "Central" doctrines such as the virgin birth of Christ, salvation by grace, the inerrancy of the Bible, etc.) I am NOT referring to doctrines such as methods of baptism, use of or belief in spiritual gifts or the different views on eternal security of the believer, etc. These are peripheral doctrines and having positions on these are not key to our salvation and relationship with God.
- A cult usually has a strong authoritarian leader.
- A cult usually has addition books besides the Bible that they claim are "inspired teaching." (Every book that a group claims came from God MUST be tested by the Bible for errors. For example, if every Mormon checked the teachings of the Book of Mormon by the Bible they would abandon the BOM immediately.)
- A cult always depends on good "works" for acceptance (into the group or cult), salvation, etc., leaving the weight of eternity upon man, instead of on the blood shed at Calvarys Cross.
I hope this helps you as you search the Scriptures for the truth and as you lean how to defend the faith (Jude 3)!
(c) copyright 2002, Eric Barger
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