Marks of a Cult

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Dr. Bob, May 30, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    [On the Freemasonry thread we were asked about why the Lodge is defined as a "cult". Here are the standard characteristics of a cult, summarized by Josh McDowell, Christian Apologist in Understanding the Cults.]

    1) NEW TRUTH - Revelation from God is continuing and THEY have it in their own writings

    2) NEW INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE - Cultic writing is key to understanding the mysteries of the Bible. Reinterpret Scripture to fit cult doctrine

    3) NEW JESUS - He is less than God or man is elevated to His level as "gods"

    4) NEW CHRISTIANITY - Church is fine but not enough. New organization with new knowledge, riturals and rites

    5) NEW LANGUAGE - Good sounding words for public consumption vs. a private language that is very different

    6) NEW GOD - replacing Triune Godhead with someone or something else; satan, spirits, gods or goddesses or even man himself

    7) NEW THEOLOGY - no absolutes, lip service to the Bible but reinterpret it

    8) NEW LEADERSHIP - strong leaders with unique access to God; total dependence on man, not God

    9) NEW SALVATION - emphasis on works/ritual to do or follow; salvation only in the cult
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    CULTS/RELIGIONS FROM CHRISTIAN SOURCES
    Jehovah's Witness
    Latter Day Saints (Mormon)
    Christian Science
    Adventism
    Unitarian
    World Wide Church of God
    Masonic Lodge
    Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostalism

    CULTS/RELIGIONS FROM PHILOSOPHICAL SOURCES
    Rosicrucian
    Theosophy
    Scientology
    Secular Humanism
    Existentialism

    CULTS/RELIGIONS FROM POLITICAL SOURCES
    British Israelism
    Moral Rearmament
    Marxism
    National Socialism
    Zionism

    CULTS/RELIGIONS FROM EASTERN SOURCES
    Hare Krishna & Krishna Consciousness
    Transcendental Meditation (TM)
    Black Muslim
    Ba'Hai
    Ekantar
    Unity
    Unification (Moonies) Church
    The Way International
    Children of God

    CULTS/RELIGIONS FROM OCCULT SOURCES
    New Age Religions
    Astrology
    Satanism/Witchcraft
    Pantheism

    CULTS/RELIGIONS FROM TRIBAL SOURCES
    Animism
    Indian Tribal Religions
     
  3. Ben W

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    When the Baptists came out of the mainstream churches, by his reasoning wouldent they be a cult based on their "new Teaching"?

    Consider the Charasmatic's the Adventists and the Worldwide Church of God. These are all Christian Churches that expouse the Trinity. Bapticostals have the very same Baptist Distinctives as other Baptists. Hence I think he is a little judgemental in his list.
     
  4. John Gilmore

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    Possibly, if their "new Teaching" came from new truth or new interpretations of scripture. But I doubt that the Baptists would admit that; whereas, the Adventists and the World Wide Church of God probably would.
     
  5. Major B

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    The Baptists most likely did not come of of mainstream churches. I am not a successionist nor a landmarker, but the evidence is that the Baptists arose from the roots of the medieval protests against the established church. Mosheim, the seminal protestant church historian ,Leonard Verduin, the 20th century Reformed historian, both have some vey interesting material.

    The Baptists and other free churches (churches whose predecessors did not at any time advocate church-state union) would say that the cults were the mainstream groups who added paganism to the Faith, and who tried to exercise state-church union by persecuting dissident groups with the sword of the state rather than in honest debate.
     
  6. Major B

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    And, the main marks of a cult are:

    Antitrinitarianism

    Extreme legalism

    Extrabiblical written revelation on a par with the Bible

    Baptismal regeneration

    Authoritarianism
     
  7. music4Him

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    CULTS/RELIGIONS FROM CHRISTIAN SOURCES
    Jehovah's Witness
    Latter Day Saints (Mormon)
    Christian Science
    Adventism
    Unitarian
    World Wide Church of God
    Masonic Lodge
    Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostalism


    Was that a list given by Josh McDowell? Sure looks to me like a few more cults/religions ought to be added to the list? huh? [​IMG]

    Music4Him [​IMG]
     
  8. Marcia

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    Watchman Fellowship, a ministry that has dealth with years for cults has a page that lists their articles on cults. It's at
    Links to Articles on Cults

    I think the article below from Cultwatch is a very good overview of cults
    HOW CULTS WORK

    Some groups are cultic but are not complete cults. There are destructive cults in the sense of physical and mental danger and the more benign cults (whose theology, however, is destructive).

    I disagree with part of McDowell's list. He has pantheism there but I would describe pantheism as a worldview that you can find in many religions. It is not a cult in itself. Dr. Norman Geisler talks about the main worldviews and their differences: theism, atheism, materialism/naturalism, pantheism, and panentheism. Those are categories that are separate from specific religions or groups or cults.

    Also, as a former professional astrologer and as someone who lectures on the occult, I would have to disagree that astrology is a cult or religion. I classify astrology as an occult practice. Astrology actually falls under divination along with tarot cards, numerology, palm reading, tea leaf reading, etc. Divination, spirit contact, and sorcery are the 3 forms of occult practice (which can overlap) but in themselves are not religions. They can be practiced and found in many beliefs so they in themselves do not have specific views of God, the world, etc. People practicing astrology may have differing views of God, for example, although you often find similar views. However, that is because people who become astrologers come to it already with those similar views.

    Otherwise, I think his list is pretty good (that not exhaustive, of course).

    I have done workshops on New Age and occult topics at many discernment and cult awareness conferences, and I know a lot of Christians in these kinds of ministries. It's hard to be in a ministry like that because the church is so often unaware of how pervasive these groups are and how destructive they are. People also don't realize how easy it is for people to get into a cult. As I've heard it said several times, people don't join a cult, they join a friendly group, or they are looking for answers.

    My focus is the New Age/occult areas, so I do not specialize in cults, but I've learned a lot at the conferences over the years, from reading, and from a seminary course, as well as encounters with people in cults and those who have come out of them.
     
  9. mioque

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    "(churches whose predecessors did not at any time advocate church-state union)"
    ''
    All currently existing churches originating in Western-Europe have the RCC hidden somewhere in their ancestry.
    The baptists wouldn't have existed in their current form without Menno Simons and he was a RC priest.
     
  10. music4Him

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    Really? That is very interesting information ~mioque~ [​IMG]
    Now I need to do some research on Menno Simons. [​IMG]

    Music4Him
     
  11. D28guy

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    Dr Bob,

    I'm curious why Roman Catholicism is not included on your list.

    Here is the list from the CARM(Christian Apologetics and Research ministry) web-site. Look who they group the Roman Catholic church in with...

    "RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS"

    Christadelphianism
    Christian Science
    How to have perfect faith
    Intern. Church of Christ
    Islam
    Jehovah's Witnesses
    Mormonism
    New Age Movement
    Oneness Pentecostal
    Open Theism
    Roman Catholicism
    Seventh Day Adventism
    Shepherd's Chapel
    Universalism


    (Link...www.carm.org)

    3 of the most common characteristics of cults are a denial of justification by faith alone, extrabiblical revelation, and an earthly leader who is a unique singular earthly "Christlike" figure.

    Faith alone:

    * We all know that Catholics vehemently deny the truth uf justification through faith alone, and teach a works justification system.

    Extra biblical revelation:

    * Just like the JW's Watchtower publication and the Mormons Book of Mormon(and Doctrines and Covenants), the authority the catholics give the Teaching Majesterium is in essence the same thing.

    Earthly "Christlike" figure:

    * The Pope seems to fill the same role that people like Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, David Koresh and Jim Jones played in their groups.

    God bless,

    Mike
     
  12. gb93433

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  13. Eric B

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    That list from McDowell is probably old. Worldwide Church of God has crossed over to orthodoxy. Although various splinter groups still hold to Armstrong's doctrines. The list should say "Armstrongism". That covers them all.
    Apologosts are divided as to whether Adventism is a cult. They do hold to the Trinity, which is unlike most others, as well as "salvation by faith", but people see sabbatarianism as compromising that latter doctrine. But to me, many Baptist fundies are worse, with their restrictions on music and Bible translations, and the extent they denounce others on "separation". At least the Sabbath was once commanded in scripture, whether or not it is still in effect.
    Then, as many apologists have done, the Church of Christ is left out was well. They do better than the Adventists, as they believe in both the Trinity, and Sunday/immortal soul, etc. So they kind of pass as orthodox. But their insistance that they are the only true Church, and that you must be baptized by them to me is the primary definition of a cult, even before you get to the Trinity and those other doctrines.

    How is Way International an Eastern" Cult? That was another typical American-based group founded by an American (or at least Western). Their doctrine from what I have seen is just a mix of unitarian theology, and a mechanical practice of speaking in tongues.
     
  14. Marcia

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    Eric, I agree that The Way International should not be under "Eastern." Their doctrine on Christ is similar to the JW's, denying the Trinity and the deity of Christ. Here's a good overview of the Way's history and beliefs for those interested:

    PROFILE: THE WAY INTERNATIONAL

    As far as the SDA church, what might make them cultic, if not a cult, is their belief that those who are not worshipping on Saturday when Christ comes back will have the mark of the beast and go to hell.
     
  15. DHK

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    The two main doctrines on which cults deviate from are: soteriology and Christology. Often they worship another Christ. That is they deny the deity of Christ, or do not believe in the trinity.
    Regarding salvation, any group that adds works to salvation puts themselves into the realm of a cult. The Churh of Christ for example believes that you must be baptized in order to be saved. That one belief alone would define the Church of Christ as a cult. They believe in a works salvation--not salvation by grace through faith.
    DHK
     
  16. Major B

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    We've been here before, and this is not the right forum for this, but you must acknowledge that there is no more evidence for Menno Simons being the father of the Baptists than there is for some form of baptist perpetuity, maybe less.
     
  17. Dr. Bob

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    A "cult" is not a "religion", but rather a deviation from religion.

    Catholicism is an orthodox Christian religion. Hinduism is not. But both are religions.

    United Pentecostalism denies the trinity so is NOT an orthodox christian religion. I agree that the Worldwide Church of God (Armstrong) has shifted dramatically from a cult to an orthodox christian religion.
     
  18. D28guy

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    Dr. Bob,

    But does an "orthodox" christian religion deny justification through faith alone, have extrabiblcal truth sources(like the book of morman, the watchtower and the "teaching majesterium"), and hold one man to be an earthly Christ like figure(like Jim Jones, David Koresh, or the Pope)?

    Yes they hold to the trinity, but so what? If they deny justification through faith alone they are preaching a false gospel. If they consider the "teaching majesterium" as a truth source, then of course we end up with goddess worship(Mary), a works justification system, the Pope kissing the satanic Koran and referring to sikhs, zoroastrians, buddhists and african voodoo practitioners as his spiritual "brothers", etc etc etc.

    If we view the RCC to be orthodox then dont you think we need to apologize to the Mormons and JW's?

    Sure, the one denies the diety of Christ and the other says we all get to become a "God", but are they promoting goddess worship or denying Christs 'once for all time" sacrifice, in favor of supposedly "daily" sacrifices of Christ on ungodly "altars"?

    I agree of course with our stance regarding false systems like the LDS and JW's, but why the double standard regarding the RCC?

    God bless,

    Mike
     
  19. BobRyan

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    Thanks to Bob for quoting this --

    These are the exact charges brought against Christ and His followers by the orthodox established (by God at Sinai) religion of His day.

    In fact they refer to them as "a sect" of Judaism even after the Cross.

    Here are the standard characteristics of a cult, as summarized and defined by the Jews of Christ's day.

    So... "throw those Christians out!"

    Which is exactly what they did.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  20. BobRyan

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    Here is the same list given by Dr. Bob - only as it applies to the rise of the errors of Catholicism centuries after the pure NT Christian church was launched by Christ.


    So... "them Catholics must not be Christian!" - which is in fact a conclusion drawn by some non-Catholics.

    Even if you refuse to see the blatant facts that really do apply to the RCC here - all are certainly in agreement that IF the RCC had waited a few more centuries beyond the 3rd and 4th century (like waiting until the 19th century) to arise with the exact SAME teachings - and a Pope etc... they would be regarded as "a sect" today as were Christians in the NT.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     

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