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Old 02-24-2012, 09:42 AM
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Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

I found this article to be VERY interesting. If you choose to read this please share your thoughts...

The Marks of a Cult
One must be careful to distinguish between the sociological position of what constitutes a cult (i.e., which states that whatever is normative to a given culture is not cultic) and the theological position (i.e., which states that only those groups that adhere to the Bible as the basis for all theology and practice are considered normative, and thereby, not cultic).

From the theological viewpoint, any group or religious system, whether it calls itself "Christian" or not, that offers other criteria as equal to or superior to the Bible, including but not limited to erroneous and/or exclusive interpretations of Scripture, should be considered a cult. From the theological position, then, a cult can be best defined as:

A system of religious beliefs and rituals with a body of adherents deeply devoted to an extrabiblical person, idea, or thing; it cultivates worship in a religion that, with reference to its basis for man's salvation, is considered to be unorthodox, spurious, or false, thereby insulating its members against true salvation in Christ. And inasmuch as the central doctrine of Biblical Christianity is the sacrificial death of Christ for man's sin (Eph. 2:8,9), all cultic deviations tend to downplay the finished work of Christ and emphasize the importance of earning moral acceptance before God through one's own religious works.

From the theological viewpoint, all the groups/religious systems included in the Cult section of the Notebook are obviously cults. They are all centered in religious beliefs or practices calling for devotion to a religious view centered in false doctrine -- it is nothing less than organized heresy.

To be classified as a cult, not all of the following characteristics have to be present, but in most cases, in one form or another, all of them will be:

1. Extrabiblical Authority: All cults deny what God says in His Word as true. Cults have shifted their theological point of authority away from God's full and final written Word, the Bible, to their own unique, self-promoting opinions about the Bible; they generally will use parts of the Bible but will have their own unique scripture which is considered to be superior to the Bible. While some cult groups give token respect for the Bible and go through the motions of accepting the authority of Scripture, in reality, they honor the group's or leader's novel interpretation of Scripture as normative.

2. Works Salvation/Legalism: Cults teach that eternal life depends upon something other than the Atonement; i.e., faith in the atoning, finished work of Christ on the cross is deemed not to be sufficient (usually replaced with human works and human responsibility). Rather than relying on the grace of God alone for salvation, the salvation message of the cults always boils down to required obedience to, or abstention from, certain obligations and practices (some even including obedience to the Old Testament law).

3. No Assurance of Salvation: The issue of a cult member's salvation is never settled, but is constantly affected by the changing circumstances of life; in this way, cult leaders are able to produce continued obligation and spiritual bondage, rather than spiritual freedom.

4. Guru-Type Leader/Modern Prophet: The cult leader is looked to as the infallible interpreter of Scripture, specially appointed by God to be a special saint, guru, or contemporary messiah, and thereby, has divine authority that must not be violated. Cultists almost always quote their leader rather than the Bible. The cult's adherents often expound the virtues of the founders and seek to cover the founder's sins and wickedness.

5. Vacillating, Ambiguous Doctrines/Spiritual Deception: In order to gain favor with the public, and thereby aid in the recruitment of new members, cult "doctrine" tends to be characterized by many false or deceptive claims concerning the cult's true spiritual beliefs (e.g., Mormons are not quick to reveal their belief that God was a man, who has now become the God of planet Earth).

6. Exclusivity from/Denunciation of Other Groups: Each cult group, regardless of what other doctrines are taught, will all have this one common idea -- "The Only True Church Syndrome." The members of each specific organization have been taught that their church, organization, or community, is the only true group and that all other groups are false. The group's leaders will explain that it is impossible to serve God without being a member of the specific group. Moreover, when the cult leader announces himself as the true "Messiah," all others are declared to be dishonest, deceitful, and deluded, and must be put down; alternative views are denounced as being satanic and corrupt. Persecution is welcomed, and even glorified in, as "evidence" that they are being persecuted for righteousness sake. Thus, if a member decides to leave the group, they have been told that they are not simply leaving an organization, but rather they are leaving God and His only true organization. Hence, for a member of a cult who has been in a group for any length of time, the action of leaving the group is much more difficult than what most Christians understand. To leave the group is, in the minds of the cult member, tantamount to leaving God.

7. Claims of Special Discoveries/Additional Revelation: Acceptance of new, contemporary, continual revelations that either deny the Bible or are allowed to explain it. The fundamental characteristic of Christianity is that it is historical, not dependent upon private knowledge and secret, unconfirmable relationships, while the almost universal basis of cult religion is the claimed exclusive revelation that one person has supposedly received. Rather than conforming to Biblical rules of evidence (2 Cor. 13:1), cult leader revelations almost always emanate from hallucinations, visions, dreams, private discoveries, etc. These new revelations often become codified as official written "scripture" of the cults (e.g., The Book of Mormon), and are considered as valid as that of the apostles (and even more relevant because they are given in these end times).

8. Defective Christology: Cults always have a false view of the nature of the Person of Jesus Christ; a cult will usually deny the true deity of Christ, His true humanity, His true origin, or the true union of the two natures in one Person.

9. Defective "Nature of Man": Most cults do not see man as an immortal being; instead they see him either as an animal without a soul or as a being which is being perfected to the point of becoming a god. They usually do not see man as a spirit clothed in a body of flesh awaiting the redemption of body and soul.

10. Out-Of-Context Scripture Use as Proof-Texts/Segmented Biblical Attention: Cults tend to focus on one verse or passage of the Bible to the exclusion of others, and without regard for the context in which Scripture is given (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:29 used by Mormons to justify baptism for the dead). In addition, cults have made an art form out of using Christian terminology, all the while pouring out their own meanings into the words.

11. Erroneous Doctrines Concerning Life After Death and Retribution: Covering the gamut from soul sleep to annihilationism to purgatory to universalism to the progression to godhood, cults invariably deny the existence of a final judgment of, and a final "resting" place for, the unrighteous.

12. Entangling Organization Structure: The less truth a movement represents, the more highly it seems to have to organize itself; the absence of truth seems to make necessary the application of the bonds of fear. Cults often demand total commitment by their converts to an organizational involvement that entangles them in a complicated set of human restrictions, giving the impression of passionate and often irrational devotion to a cause.

13. Financial Exploitation: The cultic practitioner strongly implies that money contributed to the cause will earn the contributor numerous gifts, powers, and abilities, and in many cases, outright salvation.

14. Pseudomystical/Spiritistic/Occultic Influence: Occult influence is many times found in either the origin of the group and/or in its current practices.
As found @ http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/marksof.htm
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:49 AM
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KeptByTheWord KeptByTheWord is offline
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

Very interesting article indeed. I find the reference to number ten highlighting what I think is wrong with the majority of the OPs.

10. Out-Of-Context Scripture Use as Proof-Texts/Segmented Biblical Attention: Cults tend to focus on one verse or passage of the Bible to the exclusion of others, and without regard for the context in which Scripture is given (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:29 used by Mormons to justify baptism for the dead). In addition, cults have made an art form out of using Christian terminology, all the while pouring out their own meanings into the words.

One scripture I know for a fact they have based almost their entire movement on (women wearing dresses) is found in Duet. 22:5. They've taken that scripture out of the Torah, excluded all the other laws, and based a huge movement on that scripture. Then they take one chapter in Corinthians and base their doctrine on uncut hair out of that chapter, again, that kind of teaching not found anywhere else in scripture. I could go on... and I wouldn't even have a problem with people believing these things as a personal conviction, but then when it is taught as salvational, then that is where the road splits for me.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:05 AM
bbyrd009 bbyrd009 is offline
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

Yup.

Nice, Aquila. Speaks for itself. Hate to post below it!

Last edited by bbyrd009; 02-24-2012 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:20 AM
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Aquila Aquila is offline
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeptByTheWord View Post
Very interesting article indeed. I find the reference to number ten highlighting what I think is wrong with the majority of the OPs.

10. Out-Of-Context Scripture Use as Proof-Texts/Segmented Biblical Attention: Cults tend to focus on one verse or passage of the Bible to the exclusion of others, and without regard for the context in which Scripture is given (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:29 used by Mormons to justify baptism for the dead). In addition, cults have made an art form out of using Christian terminology, all the while pouring out their own meanings into the words.

One scripture I know for a fact they have based almost their entire movement on (women wearing dresses) is found in Duet. 22:5. They've taken that scripture out of the Torah, excluded all the other laws, and based a huge movement on that scripture. Then they take one chapter in Corinthians and base their doctrine on uncut hair out of that chapter, again, that kind of teaching not found anywhere else in scripture. I could go on... and I wouldn't even have a problem with people believing these things as a personal conviction, but then when it is taught as salvational, then that is where the road splits for me.
I'll be more extreme. lol

I can respect a person's personal convictions. But I still have a problem with even their personal convictions if they are spiritually dangerous. Paul wrote to the Galatians,
Galatians 3:1-4 (KJV)
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
It is a grave error to embrace the notion that one is now made perfect by the fleshly ordinances or standards of the law and/or the traditions of man. The Holy Magic Hair doctrine is occultism. Witchcraft. Why respect one's personal conviction with regards to practicing witchcraft? Paul was this hard on the Galatians for circumcision; imagine how hard he'd have been if they were practicing witchcraft like the Holy Magic Hair doctrine and/or voodoo dolls. And while I believe in modesty and decency, to legislate a certain style of dressing isn't commanded in the NT. Yes, we should have people cover themselves and not wear anything excessively tight. Enough said. We don't see Paul talking about "ankle length" or anything like that. So why should we? Modesty is modesty. Cover yourself respectfully and don't make clothing too tight or provocative. If someone asks, "How do I know if it's decent enough to wear?" Tell them it's obvious that if they're asking the question there is some doubt in their mind as to it's modesty. Explain how this is the Holy Spirit speaking to them. Teach them to listen to the Spirit!!!

Since modesty is a Christian discipline and not necessarily salvational, wait until the next gathering and make a few gentle statements about modesty. Mention things that you think are not necessarily modest. Explain how being modesty displays love for your neighbor. Because who would want to incite someone they love to lust? If in a small group, allow everyone to share their thoughts. Conviction will fall on those who have violated modesty. If someone continues to be immodest you might want to address them in private with a trusted brother or a sister by your side. If they continue to be immodest... bring it before the gathering and have a vote with regards to the individual remaining a member in good standing. The vote will reveal the body's desire. As an elder, it would be your responsibility to enforce their will, seeing that you are a servant to the congregation much like an elected official is a servant to their constituents.
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Last edited by Aquila; 02-24-2012 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:23 AM
RandyWayne RandyWayne is offline
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

Although this is not present in every cult it does seem to be the final end game when it comes to ALL of the extreme ones.

15. The cult leader ultimately demands that the married men either give or share their wives with him. He will often cry and claim that he doesn't want this to happen but that god told him as a test of his faith as well as the men he is leading.


Last edited by RandyWayne; 02-24-2012 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:27 AM
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Aquila Aquila is offline
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyWayne View Post
Although this is not present in every cult it does seem to be the final end game when it comes to ALL of the extreme ones.

15. The cult leader ultimately demands that the married men either give or share their wives with him. He will often cry and claim that he doesn't want this to happen but that god told him as a test of his faith as well as the men he is leading.

You're not right Randy. lol
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:28 AM
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyWayne View Post
Although this is not present in every cult it does seem to be the final end game when it comes to ALL of the extreme ones.

15. The cult leader ultimately demands that the married men either give or share their wives with him. He will often cry and claim that he doesn't want this to happen but that god told him as a test of his faith as well as the men he is leading.

If my wife looked like that I'd want him to take her! LOL (jk)
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:28 AM
RandyWayne RandyWayne is offline
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

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Originally Posted by Aquila View Post
If my wife looked like that I'd want him to take her! LOL
LOL
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:30 AM
RandyWayne RandyWayne is offline
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

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Originally Posted by Aquila View Post
You're not right Randy. lol
Once it gets to the stage the cult members have usually given up their homes and moved to a "farm" somewhere out in the wilderness.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:35 AM
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Re: Interesting Article: The Marks of a Cult

Once men really begin to believe they are hearing straight from God, and can be corrected by no one else, that is when you run.... run... run... as fast as you can .....
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