What is a Cult?

In our recent study of false teaching, (False Teaching) we spent some time talking about cults. One thing to understand is that the word “cult” doesn’t always have the negative connotation we tend to attach to it. It can be used as a technical, theological term which simply means religious practices and beliefs. In that sense, our church rituals such as the liturgy, communion, baptism, the creeds, and so on, are all part of our cult.

Mostly, though, when we describe a group as a cult, it’s because we consider their beliefs and behavior to be unacceptable and possibly dangerous. Here are three characteristics that describe this type of cult:

  1. There is a hierarchy with a leader who demands absolute loyalty
  2. There is a narrow set of beliefs which must be strictly followed
  3. A cult claims the existence of extra biblical revelation (usually received by the leader/s)

Some modern examples of cults are: Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, and Mormons. None of these groups are truly Christian, although they often claim to be. They all have incorrect views about the nature and attributes of God (especially the trinity and Jesus). They use texts which are not the Bible (book of Mormon, for example) or which have been taken from the Bible but altered (Jehovah’s Witnesses).

Your best defense against cults? Study the Bible. Know the creeds and understand them. Be a Berean.

 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11

For more about studying the Bible see:

The Greatest Bible Study

What Helps You Study?

Is the Bible Your Companion?

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