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Information on Cults

Introduction:

This section may provide information you already know but we felt it prudent to place it here anyways.
 
 

#1. False Cults : An Introduction by Dr. Johnson C. Philip & Dr. Saneesh Cherian

Bible-believing Christians have always been weary of teachings, doctrines, movements, and organizations that take people away from the Biblical faith. Thus all conservative and evangelical churches have given unusual attention to false cults and false teachings and also to methods needed to fight these movements. This kept Cults away most Evangelical churches for a long time, but now they have begun to attack the evangelical believers with a renewed zeal. 

In the last few decades the false cults have given much attention to fishing or people-trapping. Using the latest psychological information, they have discovered the causes for resistance and also the methods to overcome it. Many of the groups have been producing massive handbooks on people-catching. These books explain religious-salesmanship in the minutes detail. Even the strongest objection that can be raised by an evangelical Christian is mentioned, along with the cultist strategies to nullify this opposition. 

Thus the cultist who knocks at our door today is a person vastly different from his predecessors of yesteryears. In the past it was a battle only of doctrines, but today it has turned into a highly sophisticated doctrinal-psychological assault from them. Yet the war can be won, and we can defend our faith (and the spiritual balance of our family-members), provided we are armed with a single weapon: the Sword of the spirit. 

Using the Sword of the Spirit requires a bit of preparation on two fronts. First, we should be thoroughly acquainted with the sword itself. Second, we should be knowledgeable about the enemy and his strategies. The first part is done by a thorough study of the major Biblical doctrines, and that is not the aim of this book. The second part is done by studying the cults in some detail, and that is what we propose to do in the coming pages.  

A Cult is a religious group or movement that attacks or questions the major tenets of the historical Christian faith. Many minor subjects are also attacked, but these do not pose as serious a danger as the previous category.  The purpose of such attack is not to expose any genuine errors in our doctrinal understanding, nor to reform any failure, but to destroy the cardinal doctrines. The ultimate aim of this destructive work is to replace Biblically sound doctrines with  the petty, erroneous, and even blasphemous doctrines of the false cult. 

The Cultic phenomena has today become such a powerful means of gaining power and money that it is now seen even beyond strictly religious circles. Thus though originally cults were mostly of religious origin, today they can be of non religious origin too. Such divers is the origin of cults today that it has become necessary to classify them into four slightly overlapping groups. The details of this classification ate given in another part of this book. 

 Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, etc. are classified as major world religious. These world religions exist by virtue of their independent world-views, and not by denial/building upon the foundation of any other major religion. Cults are smaller groups formed primarily upon denial of some tenets of major religions. The deviating path embraced by the cults and the major religion with which they compete are often very clear. There might be some religious as well as cults that do not fit the above definition. However, there are other factors like historical background and conventions that help us to distinguish even such groups. 

One special aspect of the cults and movements discussed in this book is either their hatred for Christianity or for their competition with the true Christian faith. It is either this spirit of competition or their desire to eliminate the Christian faith that makes it important to study them. It is a battle in which there is no neutral position

In spite of all talk and discussion about False Cults many Christians are still not convinced that we need to be seriously concerned about them. Worse, many of them tend to ignore the widely seen sheep-stealing and loss of evangelical Christians to False Cults. Part of the reason is ignorance. 

Many people are ignorant of the scale at which False Cults are doing their work successfully. On the other hand others feel that just ignoring it all will automatically solve the problem. Both of these outcomes of ignorance can be fatal for us. 

As we write these lines there are many of our beloved friends who are blissfully ignorant that right now their children are playing with the fire of False Doctrines. These doctrines come to them from books, periodicals, their friends, hostel roommates, and also from determined Cultists who feel that these children are a promising target for their "fishing". We have been warning these parents for quite some time, but they have been ignoring the problem and patronizingly smiling at our ignorance about their family. They feel that even if the whole world turns to False Cults, their own children would never desert their parents. Usually the eyes of these parents open too late for them to do anything.  

Almost everyone has seen free-style wrestling at least on TV. There are almost no rules, and the wrestlers try to win by any method that they deem helpful. This often leads to much bloodshed and injury before one of them is declared the victor. 

Now let us assume a situation where one person attacks the other without being constrained by any rule. On the other hand, the other party has to fight back but only within rules. Obviously it is an unequal battle in which the `Free' wrestler has tremendous unfair advantage over his opponent who is rigidly controlled by rules. The first one can fight fair or foul while the second one cannot at any time cross the boundaries. The situation is so heavily loaded in favour of the first person and against the second person that the second wrestler can win only if a miracle takes place. 

We Bible-believing Christians are like the wrestler constrained by laws. Our integrity and ethics never permitting us to cross the boundaries of decency and propriety. Yet the cultists are often free to win converts at any cost. And they never spare any efforts to defeat us. 

Now consider a situation where the first wrestler (and his weapon) is totally invisible. Now even a miracle cannot conceivable help the second wrestler to win. Yet many times that is our situation. The cultists are already waging an unjust and unprincipled war against the Bible-believing people. On top of that they would become an "invisible" adversary if we remain ignorant about them and their tactics. Even the cleverest and most experienced war strategist cannot fight a battle when ignorance is coupled with inequality of rules. 

There is no question of neutrality here. Either we defend our territory or they come and enslave us. In such a situation, it is a must to know about the enemy. They are not going to play fair, and we cannot force them to change their ways. However, they cannot easily prevent us from knowing about them. So at least in this matter we should not put ourselves in a disadvantageous position.  
 
 

#2. Basic Characteristics of Cults by Dr. Johnson C. Philip

Every false Cult is a distinct group with a personality of its own. There is a wide diversity among these groups. Yet it is possible to discern many points of similarity among them. A knowledge of these basic characteristics can help one to recognize a Cult quickly. 

It must be noted that not all Cults have all these characteristics, and that also not in the same proportion. For example the morally degenerate Cult known as the Children of God taught salvation by grace through faith aggressively. This is contrary to the practice of most Cults, yet the Children of God happens to be not more than a Cult because of other characteristics. 

Thus no group should hastily be labeled as a Cult because of a single cultistic characteristic. Similarly, no Cult should hastily be pronounced as harmless because it has a few similarities with evangelical Christianity. Many small evangelical groups exhibit Cultistic characteristics, and many shrewd Cults exhibit characteristics of evangelical groups. Thus only careful evaluation of these groups would reveal their true identity. 

Believers should definitely be weary of evangelical groups that manifest one or more cultistic characteristic. At the same time, they should be very cautious about Cults that camouflage their true identity by adapting some characteristics of evangelical churches. The totality of the symptoms should be taken into consideration before a group is identified as a Cult or as cultistic. The following are some of the major characteristics of False Cults.  

1-Mixture of Truth And Error: Since most Cults multiply by catching people from outside, they need to hide their false teachings somehow lest people be alarmed before falling into their clutches. They do so by teaching a mixture of error with known truth.

2-Extra-Biblical Source of Authority: For a Bible-believing Christian there is only one final source of authority, and that is the Bible. This attitude is expressed through the statement: Sola Scriptura, the Bible alone. However, every false Cult rejects this principle and embrace other sources that are either equal to or greater than the Bible in ultimate authority.  

3-Rejection Of Justification By Grace: Justification by grace is that great doctrine that sets aside Biblical Christianity from all other world religions, Cults, and philosophies. It was the rediscovery and renewed teaching of this most fundamental doctrine that freed millions of Christian believers from Roman Catholic slavery. This is the Doctrine that resulted in the glorious and God-honouring Protestant Reformation. Yet all Cults reject this doctrine, or at least deny and suppress it.

4-Devaluation of Christ: Jesus Christ is not only the central focus of the Christian faith, but also the ultimate authority in all matters of faith and conduct. Further, He being God-man, is the only one person of this kind in universe. He demands total submission and obedience by virtue of His position and work. Cultists cannot run their heretical movements as long as Lord Jesus is acknowledge for what He is. They need to dethrone Him or devalue Him in some way or the other before Cult leaders can elevate themselves and their teachings above that of Christ.  

5-Exclusive Claim To Truth: In spite of the claim that salvation can be obtained only through Christ, true Christians recognize that this salvation is available to anyone and anywhere who is willing to accept Christ. Though a born-again person is expected to join a group of believers, this is only a post-salvation activity. Joining a group is not essential for salvation. The Cults deny this great truth.

6-A Central Role in Eschatology: Eschatology is an inseparable part of theology, and no Bible-believing group can neglect it. Biblically speaking, Christ is the center of eschatology. He is the author and finisher of history, and He does not need the help of humans to fulfill His plans. Nor can any human interfere with His escatological chronology or time-table. Most Cults deny this central truth of Bible. 

7-A God-Like Human Leader: Every Christian knows that only God is God, and no human can, or should, ever attain that position. Even the Cultists know this. In spite of this, all cults glorify certain individuals to such levels, and give them such absolute allegiance and control over members, that eventually these individuals rise even above God in the esteem of the followers.  

8-Missionary Zeal: Since the time that Jesus gave his Great commission, the children of God have been characterized by their missionary activity. Thus there is a possibility of misunderstanding when missionary zeal is mentioned as a characteristics of cults too.  

9-Suppression of Freedom: Freedom to know and think is the greatest enemy of all dictators. Consequently all such people deprive others of knowledge and their right to independent thinking. The Roman Catholics forbade reading the Bible and killed tens of thousands for the crime of possessing Bibles. The Children of God do not allow their recruits to ever have free and unsupervised time. The CPM uses peer-pressure to force people to speak in "tongues" and also not to use medicine.
 
 

#3. Mind Control Methods of Cults by Johnson C. Phillip

Gospel is the message of freedom, but the gospel preached by the Cults is the bait of slavery. By virtue of its origin in God, the Christian message is a message of freedom. There is no attempt at forcing or coercing people. But by virtue of their origin in man or in doctrines of demons, the Cults cannot preach anything except ultimate slavery. 

All Cults are large prisons where freedom of independent thinking is absent, Imprisoning such large groups for all their lives is not easy, and thus the Cults use very sophisticated and well-proved methods for mind-control. The basic aim behind all this is to thoroughly brainwashing people. Once the brainwashing is complete, the new recruit loses his discernment partially or even totally. The first and most important step in religious enslavement is complete, and the rest of the affair becomes rather easy. 

The brainwashed and discernment- deprived people are them manipulated throughout their lives through lectures, peer-pressure, and auto-suggestion or self- hypnotism. These techniques work very well for the rest of the victim's life, who is actually not much more than a Zombie.  

1. Love And Flattery: God created man to be a social being. Every person needs a cluster of strong relationships, uncritical acceptance, sympathy, and willing ears to listen to his pains, frustrations, and yearnings. Biblically speaking, one's family is the primary institution from which all these needs are to be met.  

2. Isolation And Insulation: Most converts won by the Cults already have a sea of beliefs embedded in their minds. Thus knowingly or unknowingly they tend to evaluate every doctrine and philosophy imposed upon them. Cults isolate and insulate their victims so as to suppress reasoning and critical evaluation.  

3. Indoctrination: While the Christian faith demands faith, this faith is neither a blind one,  nor a closed one. It is based upon historical events, and the Bible itself encourages believers to examine everything. The believers at Berea were labeled as better than other because they than others because they examined all apostolic teaching daily in the light of scriptures.  

4. Fear And Insecurity: Fear is a powerful force, paralyzing even the mightiest. Thus the almighty God made us free from fear when we were being taken away to everlasting death. Instead living in terror all life about our destiny, God gives us a destiny to begin with, removing all fear about future security. God wants people to love and obey Him out of love, and not out of fear, but the Cults turn this order upside down. 

5. Peer Pressure: In a previous point we mention man's inherent need for love, acceptance, and belonging to a group. Everyone unconsciously searches for such a peer-group, and becomes greatly attached to it on discovering it. However , the attachment with the peer -group most often turns into a dependence. Like drug-dependence, this person reaches a stage where he cannot live independently of the group. Peer-dependence often becomes so chronic that people are terrified at the mere thought of r ejection by the group. At this stage the group can manipulate this person in any way it wants merely by using a judicious combination of approval and disapproval.

6. Repetition And Reinforcement: Once a person passes through the first five stages, he is totally conditioned to blindly serve the group. He is safe for the group like a vaccinated person who now needs only periodical booster doses, and these come through repetitive teaching and preaching. The actual frequency of such teaching varies from Cult to Cult.  

While the previously mentioned methods are quite powerful for brainwashing and mind-manipulation, some Cults are not satisfied with that level of control. These extremist Cults take mind-control to unbelievable extremes. The number of such groups has been increasing as witnessed by mass suicides of cultists in groups ranging from ten to thousands all over the world. 

Since none of us today is safe from the reach of the never Cults, it is necessary for our sake and also for the sake of our children to study the bizarre mind-control methodologies of these abnormally extreme Cults.  

1. Control Over Food: Many of the smaller and more bizarre Cults encourage potential recruits to go and stay with the cult. Often the food and accommodation is free.  

2. Confessions And Control: Every person has some deep and intimate secrets which are not meant for sharing with others. Some of these might be trivial while others can easily control, manipulate, and even blackmail this person by discovering such secrets and sins in front of priests and counselors.

3. Sleep Deprivation And Fatigue: Every person needs periods of rest, relaxation, and sleep to keep him physically active and mentally alert. Since Cultic slave-makers need people in lethargic and mentally confused state, they often deprive people of rest, relaxation, sleep, and even food. 

4. Outright Drugging: Today a large number of mind-controlling drugs are known that can tame even a Samson. Many Cult leaders are quite knowledgeable in the use of these chemicals. Others leaders have access to people who can supply such information. Many mind-control drugs easily available today are colourless and tasteless and only small quantities are sufficient to control people. thus such medicines can be mixed with food or water-supply of the Cult communes without any fear of detection.

5. Elitism and Exclusivism: While all false Cults exhibit an attitude of elitism and exclusivism, the newer and extreme Cults overdo it.  

Conclusion:  Not all cults mentioned in his book are extremists of this type. Yet their numbers have been increasing dramatically in the past few decades. Since most of them have only a small number of adherents, they cannot easily be spotted by others. yet the mass suicide of over 900 Jim Jones followers, the mass suicide of the intellectual Heaven's Gate adherents, and the murderous attempts of the Aum Leader in Japan, and similar sects mushrooming all over is a cause of worry for all Cult-watchers. 
 
 

#4. Why Are Cults So Attractive ? by Dr. Johnson C. Philip

One questions that puzzles many people is, "why are the Cults so attractive". What they mean is that after all the Cults distort the truth and lead people into bondage. Thus why should man, who is a lover of freedom, be attracted to these groups. Further, once the cult-members experience the slavery there why don't more of them come out and join Bible-believing churches. 

The question assumes that man has a love for divine truth and freedom. While outwardly almost everyone pays lip service to these concepts, ultimately man loves neither God's truth nor divinely provided freedom. The human history is an adequate testimony to it. Much more authoritative that this testimony is the Bible, which also confirms that deep inside the heart humans are drawn more to error than to truth: "The light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not" John 1:5. 

Since False Cults are the expression of some sort or other of human rebellion against God, they are able to cater to all kinds of the needs of the rebellious mankind. This is the primary reason why the False Cults are so attractive in spite of their false doctrines and oppressive governments. Thus some of the reasons that make the Cults so attractive to people can be said to be the following: 

1-Man's Rebellion Against God: Right from the moment of his fall, man has been characterized by rebellion. The murder of Abel, the unequal marriages of Genesis 6, the building of the tower, repeated murmuring of the Israelites, the eventual rejection of theocracy by Israel, the appetite and frequent relapse of Jews into idolatry, murder of prophets, and finally the outright rejection and murder of the Messiah Himself are a testimony to man's rebellion against God.  

2-Man's Love For Darkness: Though humans talk a lot about light and also about their need to embrace light over darkness, most of it is only philosophical eyewash. The basic human inclination is towards darkness, and all the philosophical speculation about light is actually a cover for their ultimate love for darkness.  

3-Ignorance Of What Is Significant: Man's perception of truth has been so much affected by his sin nature that his entire approach to right and wrong, truth and error, are imbalanced. Thus what he often considers important might be trivial things while what he considers as insignificant might be most important. The Cults know this human tendency, and thus they exaggerate what the humans consider as important.  

4-Satisfaction Of Baser Instincts: Right from Eden, the baser instincts of mankind have become very powerful and dominant. While growing believers learn to control these base passions with the help of the Holy Spirit, most people do not even realize that there is anything wrong with these instincts. Nor are they conscious that these passions are controlling them. Thus deep in their hearts they keep looking for a group that caters to their hidden passions, and promptly join the group that seems to offer it.  

Conclusion:  Instead of being exhaustive, we have only hinted at some of the reasons that make False Cults attractive to people. The basic reason is human depravity and rebellion against God, which motivate people to accept anything except the truth. This attitude of rebellion is seen in many ways in the human hearts, and with full awareness of these things, the Cults have devised ways to offer to each one what he needs to remain away from God. Thus their attractiveness even to people who know that they are false.

How Are Cults Growing So Fast

Many sincere Christians are surprised and even shocked at the high rate at which False Cults are proliferating and growing everywhere. These believers feel that it is Bible-believing Churches that should grow so fast seeing that it is these Churches that teach and preach the Scriptures faithfully. However, numerical growth does not result automatically. 

People are not automatically attracted to the group or movement that teaches truth. Rather, Evangelical Christians ought to go out and draw people's attention to divine truths. Unfortunately most of us are very lax in this matter while most of the Cults consider this as the area that needs the greatest attention. Thus while most of the custodians and stewards of Truth continue in a state of coldness, the peddlers of error keep trapping people through their strategies. Many of these Cult strategies are unethical and unacceptable to Bible-believing people and we cannot use them. At the same time, plenty of acceptable strategies are still left.

1-They Exploit Spiritual Vacuum: Every Church passes consecutively through periods of revival and lethargy. During the latter stage the Church is not in a position to serve hope and joy to the struggling masses.  

2-They Offer Friendship And Fellowship: People struggling for answers need help not only orally but also practically. The Cults know this very well and they offer a good deal of personal attention to prospective members and also to the new converts. By the time these converts mature, they would change from care-receivers to care-givers, maintaining a continuity of personal relationship. Almost all False Cults exhibit this close-knit family relationship, making them very attractive.  

3- They Are Sensitive To Needs: Every person has needs, and more so when he is passing through the "struggle" stage of life. Further, the range and intensity of such needs have become great today because of the changing society and breaking families. Cults are quite sensitive to these needs of people and offer many kinds of helps.  

4-Every Member Is A Missionary: Almost all Bible-believing Churches stress the need for believers to share the gospel with others. This motivates many new believers to win others for Christ, but eventually most believers drop out of such practices. However, Cults ensure that all their members remain missionaries till the end of their lives.  

5-Sacrificial Giving Is Mandatory: While almost all Bible-believing groups encourage giving, very few of them have made it mandatory. Even in those Evangelical groups where systematic collection of gifts takes place, most of the moneys thus collected are spent only for the needs of the collecting local Church. Thus no central pool with large resources is built up. Cults have just the opposite practice.

6-They Have A Massive Literature Ministry: We all talk much about literature as an important component of Christian ministry, but it is the Cults who exploit this tool to maximum benefit.  

7-The Strategic Correspondence Courses: As mentioned in a previous point, to control a person it is necessary to control his mind first. Books, magazines and other publications are very effective for mind-control, but correspondence-courses have many advantages over them.  

8-They Effectively Use Mass Media: Though Mass Media can never take the place of personal contact, it can create a vast pool of faithful listeners: This in turn provides a very large number of people ready for personal contact and eventual absorption into the Cult. Thus almost all False Cults exploit Mass Media to the maximum.

9-They Have Numerous Institutions: Academic and social service institutions offer great opportunities for Cults to grow and multiply. Both of the above types of establishments can help them to brainwash people, and also to offer jobs to converts.  
 
 

#5. How To Recognize A Cult by Johnson C. Phillip

False Cults are very careful to camouflage themselves to resemble normal groups. Often this resemblance is so deceptive that it becomes very difficult to discern or believe that a particular group could be a False Cult. However, truth would dawn only when one is able to penetrate under this veneer of deception respectability. 

Christian Cults try their best to look as similar to Evangelical Christian groups as is possible. Non Christian cults try to present themselves as personality-development programmes, psychological societies, educational societies, or such socially acceptable movement. Just as it is necessary to sugar-coat bitter pills for making it agreeable, this deception is essential to make these groups safe from detection and isolation. 

The methods of camouflage are tried and tested, and they work very well in deceiving most people. However, even with a little discernment almost any Christian can recognize False Cults. Once this is done, they can then themselves study the errors of these groups, or can seek help from knowledgeable believers. Here are some of the characteristics using which one can begin to assess the standing of any group: 

1-Secrecy: Almost all Cultists know that the others brand them as Cults. They also know that Evangelical Christians have a vast network of people who regularly caution believers against involvement with these False Cults. Consequently, the Cultists know that if they reveal their identity in the beginning itself, then their potential "customer" would be alarmed and would resist all Cultistic attempts to trap him. This is one reason for secrecy.  

2-Evasion: Almost all False Cults try to keep their identity secret as much as possible. Thus they are not only secretive, but also try to evade answering straight questions.  

3-Inducement: A Bible-believing Christian never uses any kind of inducement (spiritual, material, or social) to encourage others to become Christians. On the other hand, the Cultists are here to "catch" unsuspecting people for his group. Thus he uses plenty of inducements that serve as baits.  

4-Appeal to extrabiblical authority: Bible is the only source for all matters related to faith and doctrine. However, most cults derive their bizarre doctrines from the books of their founders. Thus no sooner there is a doctrinal discussion, these books come into the scene.

Summary:  All Cult propagandists know that they are a group different from Evangelical Christianity. They also know that their potential customers have most probably been warned about False Cults by their leaders and teachers. Thus they know that revealing their identity would turn their "customer" cautious and even hostile, depriving the opportunity to trap him. Thus most Cultists project themselves as part of the great evangelical heritage. The art of this camouflaging has been perfected by many Cults, and thus it is often difficult to recognize them in the beginning. However, a probing mind along with a few probing questions would reveal the points mentioned above. From here onwards the believer can watch carefully and identify whether this group is a False Cult or an Evangelical Bible-believing Church.  
 
 

#6. Cult Classification by Dr. Johnson C. Philip

False cults, movements, and erroneous philosophies are no longer a simple picture. in the past few decided it has changed into a complex maze, with too many interconnections and interdependencies. Thus only a careful analysis would bring some sort of perceivable picture in front of us. 

But before one can develop any appreciation of the interconnections, one must know the broad categories into which cults can be divided. These are called "broad" categories because some cults are too complex to be put into a single category. These cults have borrowed philosophies and errors from may categories. Thus these types of cults have to be put into the category most closely resembling them. 

Since the classification is quite flexible, there would be some overlap. Also each cult might borrow some philosophies from other categories. With this in mind, the False Cultism and philosophies roughly divided into the following categories: 

1 Christian Cults 

2 Non Christian Religious Cults 

3 Occult Cults 

4 Secular Cults.  

1 Christian Cults: These are cults founded by people from Christian backgrounds. They give some respect to the Bible, gather in groups still called "Churches" and claim to teach all doctrines that the evangelical churches teach. Further, all of them claim that they are true Christians. All these reasons put together makes it necessary to call them Christian Cults. 

A note of caution must be sounded here. The title "Christian Cults" does not imply that they are Bible-believing Christian groups, Rather, it only implies that they are false teachers who have a lot of similarity with true Christians. Similarity does not mean identity of essence. Rather, similarity is often a powerful weapon to conceal the deceptive difference.  

2 Non Christian Religious Cults:   There are hundreds of large and small cults on non Christian origin. Many of them have remarkably copied and adapted techniques used by Christian missionaries. Many of them claim to pay high respect to Lord Jesus, or even that they worship Him.  

3 Occult cults:  Most Christians are ignorant of this fact that there are many secret as well as known cults that are partially or fully satanic in nature, belief, or affiliation. These are collectively labeled Occult Cults. 

The word "Occult" means hidden, and in the field of religious and allied studies it refers to any belief or practice where contact with the spirit-world is a component. Occult cults include Rosicrucians, witchcraft, Theosophy, Church of Satan, etc.  

4 Secular Cults:  Ideas, philosophies, and movements labeled secular cannot be classified as religions or religious. However, the twentieth century has either given birth to or brought to prominence many movements that claim to be secular, but that are both religious as well as cultisitc in nature. 

Secular Cults are very dangerous and harmful because of their deceptive claims and also because of their all-pervasive influence in society. Much of social vocabulary and practices are influenced by these movements, and even evangelical Christians have not been immune from these influences.  
 
 

#7. Read Your Bible: Protection against Cults  A Basic Christian Right and Responsibility

Now the [Bereans] were more honorable in character than the people of Thessalonika,

for they received the Word with great enthusiasm, while examining the scriptures for

verification of what [they were being taught]. Acts 17:11

Rather than criticizing these early believers for “checking out” the veracity of what had been

taught to them by the apostle Paul, this verse actually praises them for doing so. And while it is

clear from the Greek text that the Bereans are being applauded here primarily for their

enthusiastic acceptance of the Gospel, this verse also - so far from condemning them for a lack

of trust - actually commends them for their action. This verse plainly approves the practice of

taking the time and interest to consult the scriptures in order to establish the veracity of what is

being taught. We find this to be a most reasonable approach, for:

If what is taught is really true, then the scriptures will clearly confirm it.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we must

ultimately place our faith in God and in the Word of God - Jesus, the living Word, and in the

Bible, the written Word - not in man’s words.

Ideally, there will be no conflict between what your teacher teaches and what you read in the

Bible as you check out the scripture references given to support a principle or doctrine. It is also

true that there are many non-sinister reasons why you may feel there is some discrepancy

between what is taught and what you read, and no one is advocating that you part company on

the basis of minor discrepancies.

At the same time, however, if, as you continue with the daily

reading of your Bible, the “warning bells” begin to go off too frequently and too loudly, it is in

the interest of your spiritual safety that you not ignore them. The apostle Paul even goes so far

as to extend this warning to himself, establishing the principle that no track-record, even one as

illustrious as his, exempts believers from continuing to apply the test of scripture to all Bible

teaching

What source of truth do we have, if not the Bible? How do we expect to be

led to Jesus Christ, if not through the Holy Scripture? As the apostle Paul makes clear in the

passage quoted above from the epistle to the Ephesians, the point of “embracing the truth” is

twofold: 1) to avoid being taken in by false teaching, and 2) to develop a stronger relationship

with our Lord Jesus Christ. To put it simply, false teaching leads away from Christ, correct

teaching leads toward Christ. This, then, is essentially how the believer must discern whether

the teaching in question is correct or false. All teaching must pass the “Christ test”.

For just as Jesus Christ is the living reflection of the complete, luminescent

truth of God, so the Holy Scriptures are the concrete expression of the person and the mind of

Jesus Christ, given to us His saints that we might learn and know that truth:

-The Bible is God’s Word

-The Bible, God’s Word, is divinely inspired by Him

-The written Word of God is God’s truth and carries God’s authority

-Jesus Christ is both the truth and the living Word of God

-The written Word manifests Jesus Christ, the Living Word (through the Holy Spirit)

-Therefore the Bible is the only sure witness to Christ

Ignorance of the Bible = Recipe for a Cult: At the end of the age, a massive falling away from

the Christian faith will occur (the Great Apostasy: Matt.24:12; 2Thes.2:3), and at that time, many

Christians will be taken in by false and non-Biblical teaching (1Tim.4:1ff.; 2Tim.3:1ff.;

2Pet.2:1ff.). But it is not only at that undetermined future time when it will be important for

believers to have a firm grasp of the scriptures and the principles of truth they contain.

Ignorance of what the Bible really says has played a large role in making many Christians

vulnerable to the teachings and the tactics of the ever dangerous and ever more numerous cults.

Successful cults are always highly proficient at “mind control” techniques, and while most of us

feel that we are impervious to such things, there are enough case studies to show that relentless

group pressure preying upon our most basic fears, guilt and needs can be extremely effective.

Such pressure can cause even the most self-confident of people to surrender their will. As

Christians, we are most vulnerable to groups that style themselves as Christians (the wolves in

sheep’s clothing of Matt.7:15). Cult leaders of this sort are very good at appearing to be “angels

of light”, when in reality they are agents of the devil (2Cor.11:14). Our first line of defense

against such persons and organizations must be the Bible, for it is with the Bible that they will

attempt to win us over. So beware of any person or group that:

-downplays the importance of reading the Bible for yourself

-wants to supervise or take control of your reading of the Bible

-suggests you read only their “special version” of the Bible (other version are “wrong”)

-tells you not to read the Bible for yourself at all

Cult Characteristics: From the cults’ point of view, the Bible is a dangerous weapon in your

hands, because if it is read with even the tiniest bit of openness of mind, it will eventually

contradict their tenets. Cults inevitably share certain common characteristics that a firm

grounding in scripture will condemn every time. But for those whose grasp of scripture is less

than adequate, cult doctrine and cult methodology is frequently effective. While often

proclaiming the Bible and Christianity at first, cults are in fact anti-Bible and anti-Christian.

Despite their disparate origin, cults have nearly identical essential characteristics, as might be

expected when we take into account that they are all at their base dedicated to furthering Satan’s

plan. We are reminded of the similarity of the devil’s original anti-Biblical ploy when we

examine these four basic cult characteristics. Cults almost always profess:

-A Separate Society

-A Self-Righteousness

-A Secret Doctrine

-A Substitute for God

#8. Why We Left a Cult by Latayne C. Scott

In a recent conversation with a close spiritual mentor l

mentioned this book and made an off-the-cuff remark about us

ex-cultists." My friend. was shocked and told me so-he never

thinks of me as an "ex-cultist'"

'WeII, I spent ten years as a faithful Mormon"' I responded'

And we would both agree that it is a cult' right?"

He fidgeted for awhile before he replied' – oh yes Mormonism

is  a cult-but when I think of a cultist 'I think of someone

who wears a robe and burns incense or acts strange'"

My friend's reaction is not a bit unusual. In fact I imagine

that if you were to ask an average Christian to define a cult'

about the best he or she would come up with would be the conclusion

that cultists "are not like us'" In trying to define a cult, you can't say that

the major cultic groups don’t use the Bible. In fact, some of them study it more rigorously

 than a lot of Christians do, and they often base dis tinctive doctrines on specific Bible passages or phrases' Many of them have the name “Christ” or "God" in their group's name.

And, as for dedication and fervor, they often put most Christians

to shame.

Yet, they are not like us' Sometimes we feel that difference

more than know it. On the other hand, unless we are able to

identify exactly why they are not-like us' we have no basis other

than personal preference and background on which to condemn

their teachings. For a Christian, the standard against which we

judge error must always be the Bible, not our feelings.

Similarly, neither do cults just float around in the sea of truth

independently of each other. They all have a common heretical

base, which reflects their origin in the mind of the great liar,

Satan.

-A redefinition of God, either as a former human or an

impersonal force

-A redefinition of Jesus, either as merely human, or just

an illustration of the "Christ principle"' or as one of many

prophrts or holy men, or is the brother of Lucifer or

Michael the archangel

- A redefinition of the Holy Spirit, either as a force without

personality or as a commodity to which only the cult has

access.

-A redefinition of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity by claiming

that God, Jesus and the spirit are totally separate' or that

one or more of them is either inferior to or absent from the

others.

-Elevation of man to godhood, either by his earning that staus

or by his "becoming one with" God

-Devaluation of the Bible, either by claiming that it must be

translated or interpreted only by that group or by ranking

it below other writings of the cult

-A claim to exclusive revelation and guidance from God

-a proclivity toward prophetic predictions' most of which

do not happen when or how the group predicted

-Use of biblical terms with "new" meanings' derived neither

from context, original language sources' nor historical

usage.

-A flexible theology that changes according to circumstances

-A charismatic founder and/or leadership that can and often

do place itself above the teachings it imposes on the

group.

-A claim to "new truth," or unique revelation hidden from

the world until brought forth by the group or a leader of

the group

-A claim that pleasing God and going to heaven are

achievable only by being a member of the cult

-Measurement of salvation by works

-Overt rejection of orthodox or mainstream Christianity and

other churches

-Strictly regulated and harsh treatment of apostates

-A connection between the group and either national or

world government in the future

-Male-female dualism (teachings about a mother god or

that the organization or leader is "mother,, to Father God).

-Use of deceased persons as "spirit guides

-Teaching that death is illusory or neutral in nature, or that

the soul is reborn into a different form or body in new lives.

-Use of mind-control techniques by leaders.

-Use of special ritualistic ceremonies, mantras, or high doctrines"

for the elite

-Extreme dependence on subjective feelings or personal

experience as "proof” of the validity of the group’s doctrine

-Use of altered states of consciousness achieved through

fasting, drugs, meditation, or other techniques to receive

"revelation."

-Use of Bible terminology or verses out of context as the basis

for nontraditional teachings or practices.

-Emphasis on authority and connection to the past, which

is disavowed when these would make the cult look bad in

the eyes of outsiders

-Repressive "discipling" techniques that require submission to others in such tangible matters as activities and dress, as well as in such "spiritual" matters as amount of time spent

in prayer.

-Claims to special knowledge about the second coming or

end of the world.

-Aberrations of New Testament teachings on monogamy

and chastity: forbidding marriage, advocating polygamy,

or allowing unfettered sexual freedom.

-The teaching or implication that group leadership is “the

church" and that members thereof are merely a substructure

A cult is not biblical Christianity,

{you need to read this book}




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