Know the Marks of Cults

By Dave Breese

( the following is excerpted from the book/study guide on cults,

we highly recommend this book, due to the fact that it helps distinguish

cults & cult groups as they are in the process of apostisizing. This

is not intended to replace the Book, rather it is intended to encourage you

to GET IT and READ IT so you don't get sucked into some cult unknownly. )

Why do Cults Grow?

A cult is religious perversion. It is a belief and practice in the world

of religion which calls for devotion to a religion which calls

for devotion to a religious view or leader centered in false doctrine.

It is an organized heresy.

A cult is impossible to define except against the absolute standard of

the teaching of Holy Scripture.

1. Love of Darkness

One of the chief reasons people refuse to believe the true Gospel of

Christ after they hear the truth of God is its ruthless illumination

of sin and its call to repentance and faith in the Saviour.

Despite this fact, there are those who foolishly go on refusing to

recognize the moral law of God. They choose rather to embrace a false

doctrine that excuses their immoral or self-centered lives. They

foolishly prefer the ever diminishing pleasures of sin and self-willed to

the joy of Christ's forgiveness and life.

2. Spiritual Immaturity

One of the great needs in the church today is for Christian growth.

Nothing is more important than spiritual growth in the life of the

newborn Christian. The spiritual babies mentioned in Scripture are

called upon to "desire the sincere milk of the Word" what they may

grow as a result.

It is the study of the Word of God which produces the knowledge of

sound doctrine.

3. Spiritual Subversion

Another reason sincere people are drawn off into the cults is that

traveling religious carpetbaggers work industriously to subvert people

from the true faith in Jesus Christ into a religion that is contrary

to the Word of God.

They doubtless commended them for believing in the Gospel of the grace

of God but then proceed to insist that they must become obedient to the

law of Moses in order to be true Christians.

the subverters of the Corinthian church were advocating the heresy of

phenomenalism. That is, they were denying the Pauline thesis that the

just shall live by faith and rather insisting that the just shall

live by sight.

In Colossus, the troublemakers came preaching the mysterious gnostic

heresy. Therefore Paul said, "beware lest any man spoil you through

philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the

rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:18)

Intellectual pride has lead many to feel that Christianity is

"not sophisticated enough" or "too simple" for their perceptive intellects."

True wisdom consists in simple obedience to God and His Word.

The first responsibility each Christian has is not to be an expert on the

cults, but on the Word of God. Few pursuits are more exhausting than

an attempt to get to the bottom of the endless labyrinth of cult


A cultic religious point of view may be valuable in many ways and even true

in part. This is what makes it attractive to its followers. What makes

religious practice a cult, however, is not only the falsities which it

believes but also its fatal omissions of sound doctrine.


1. EXTRABIBLICAL REVELATION - How has God revealed Himself?

The Word f God, is therefore, God's final and complete revelation, and

this revelation can be supplanted by no other. The cults have no such

commitment, believing in the heretical doctrine of extrabiblical


They assert that God speaks or has spoken outside or apart from the

Bible. the first and most typical characteristic of a cult is that

it claims for it's authority some revelation apart from the clear

statements of the Word of God. Most cults claim to respect the teachings

of the Bible. Many even attribute divine inspiration to Holy Scripture.

many religions have invested divine authority in the person of a visible

individual who speaks infallibly, his words having the same or higher

authority than Holy Scripture.

After giving us 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, the Holy Spirit

directed the Apostle John to categorically close the verbal revelation of

God at the conclusion of the Bible. (Rev. 22:18-19)

Final truth is the Person, the Word, and the work of Jesus Christ.

No subsequent revelation as to the nature of truth can supersede the

revelation of Jesus Christ.

They place their arcane and mysterious writing on a par with the Word

of God. A word of admonition is therefore in order. The Christians

believes the Bible to be the final and only verbal revelation of God.

Believing the, he must give himself to the study of the Word of God

with a higher degree of intensity than ever before.

One is at least being inconsistent and perhaps hypocritical if he

professes a high view of Scripture but neglects to dispel his

ignorance of the truth of God through a serious program of Bible study.

The greatest single reason for the advance of the cults in our world today

is ignorance of Holy Scripture on the part of Christians. The second

greatest is unwillingness on the part of the people of God to transmit

divine truth by way of a testimony for Christ to others who need yet

to receive salvation in Christ.

The life of the Christian will be firmly anchored against all opposition

when it is grounded in a working knowledge of Holy Scripture.

2. A FALSE BASIS OF SALVATION - What must I do to be saved?

This longing for reality is the fuel that energizes the growth of most

cults in existence today. Because they are involved in some form of

exploitation, the cults without exception obscure the truth and offer

salvation on some other basis than that of a free gift that comes to us

by the grace of Jesus Christ. The clear teaching of the New Testament

Scriptures is that eternal salvation comes to a believer solely as a

result of faith in Jesus Christ.

By contrast, Scripture teaches that all other forms of supposed salvation,

based on human efforts, are cursed by God. "For as many are the works of

the law are under the curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is every one

that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the

law to do them.' but that no man is justified by the law in the sight of

God, it is evident; for, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Gal. 3:10-11)

When he comes in humble faith, he receives the gift of God which is

eternal life. And it is exactly this, a free gift. When he believes

the Gospel, he receives eternal life and is justified in the sight of

God. To be justified, of course, means to be declared righteous.

This is a legal change in the attitude of God toward the sinner and

depends on the saving act of Jesus Christ which is entirely independent

of the individual experience of the believer.

Eternal salvation comes to the believer because of imputed righteousness.

Imputed righteousness is righteousness that is placed to his account

in heaven. Personal righteousness is not, however, the basis of his

salvation. He is saved on the basis of imputed righteousness.

The total benefits of Calvary come to the believer on the basis of Grace.

No message is more viciously attacked by the cult promoters of our

present world than the Gospel of grace of God. It is absolutely

maddening to the professional religious promoters that god saves

individuals freely, by grace alone.

Nevertheless, the promoters of the cults continue to press their malignant

doctrines of some other way of salvation besides faith in the finished work

of Christ on the cross. One of the most popular alternative doctrines

of salvation is that of salvation by membership. Failure to keep this

membership intact incurs the damnation of the soul. In many of these

religious programs, what a person believes is of little consequence;

it is what he does that counts.

By contrast to all of this we need to hear again the finality of the

words of Paul, "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is

dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21). Few scenes are more tragic than that of

a benighted soul pursuing a false hope of salvation when Jesus Christ

offers all of this as a free gift.

3. UNCERTAIN HOPE - The soul that is in distress is also in bondage!

If a person's distress can be perpetuated by a religious promoter,

that promoter can be reasonably sure of keeping a distressed soul in

continued and ever increasing bondage. The religious charlatan,

therefore, must be very careful never to produce a final cure.

Rather he must push certainty up into an unreasonable future in

order to keep needy souls continually striving today.

We ought not to be surprised, therefore, that a nearly universal

characteristic of the cults of our time is their insistence that one

can never be sure of eternal life while in this world. The issue of

salvation is never settled. The follower lives in constant fear that

he has not done enough, given enough, prayed enough, worshiped enough

to be sure of salvation.

One suspects because of all of this that the cults are really not talking

salvation at all, but rather are pushing religious philosophies tied to

a set of unreasonable goals in the name of which they can extract every

kind of sacrifice from their hapless followers.

Because they are interested in producing perpetual obligation as

against spiritual freedom, they keep their followers in hopeless bondage

of a continually insecure relationship with God. A hope so uncertain

is hardly a hope at all.

A thoughtful person who examines the preaching and writing of the cults

carefully is almost certain to sense a frustrating indefiniteness. He

is being strung along, beguiled up a primrose path to nowhere. A common

characteristic of the cults is that they are devoid of a theological

structure that offers to anyone a sure salvation.

The reason is very clear: They traffic in anxiety.

The person who is anxious is also exploitable. To make him fearful is the

design of these religious leaders so that they may use fear to create

dependence upon the religious view that they are promoting. Cult gathering

places are populated by frightened people who live in terror of falling

into disfavor of their religious establishment.

4. PRESUMPTUOUS MESSIANIC LEADERSHIP - Only Jesus Christ deserves disciples!

This towering fact is ignored by most of the religions in the world today.

The cults are replete with the stated or implied suggestion on the part

of leaders as to some unusual divine capability that might well inspire

worship on the part of their followers. One of the marks of a cult is

that it elevates the person and the words of a human leader to a

messianic level.

Their (followers) easy mental acquiescence has led them to seek a leader

who can give them all of the answers and personalize or objectify their

religious needs. They want someone to speak to them with authority,

even finality. The temptation to change from a simple servant to an

exalted messiah can be very strong in the life of a charismatic leader.

Another form of presumptuous messianic leadership in the religious scene

of our time is the claim of some leaders to their own ability as special

intercessors with God. Their followers are asked by them to "believe

in my prayers" and to give me the opportunity to pray for you." There

is a general buildup of presumption that the leader, because of his

special gifts or deep spirituality, has some unusual powers with which

to gain leverage before the throne of God. This shameful doctrine is

false and foreign to the teachings of the New Testament. The clear

teaching of the New Testament is that each person who has been justified

by faith in Jesus Christ has access to the Father in prayer and needs

no human mediator. One of the great promises of the Bible to every

believer is found in Paul's words to Timothy, "For there is one God,

and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5)

Every believer in Jesus Christ is himself a priest and has access to

the Father because of the work of our great High Priest, Jesus Christ.

Distant hands laid on stacks of letters are as nothing compared to

present believers meeting in prayer with Jesus Christ before the throne

of God. The great relationship for the Christian is that personal one

which he has between himself and his Lord. This relationship continues,

made viable by the Holy Spirit who lives within the heart of every

believer independent of any human mediator.

The fearful contrast is apparent in the cult scene today as cult leaders

labor to produce idolatrous dependence upon themselves. This tragic

development is only possible because of the ignorance on the part of

many people as to the teaching of the Word of God. The message of Scripture

is that the individual must not commit himself to "infallible" human

leaders. Rather he must become a follower of Jesus Christ, who alone

is the head of the Church.

The cult leader also strengthens his presumptuous leadership by arrogating

himself the position of being the only repository of divine truth.

5. DOCTRINAL AMBIGUITY - If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall

prepare for the battle?

Doctrinal ambiguity is a mark of a cult. One of the very fascinating

characteristics of the cults is the interesting and sometimes hilarious

changes of doctrine through which they pass. Their doctrines are continually

altered in order to adapt themselves to new situation, arguments, or the

whims of their leaders.

The word "doctrine" has not meaning in the fever swamps of the mind which

are inhabited by the cults, for doctrine means a systematic presentation

and understanding of truth. The idea of doctrine is therefore virtually

unique to organized Christianity. By contrast what passes for doctrine

in the cult is really a sub-rational set of disconnected thoughts and

practices that only serve to confuse the mind and the emotions as well.

Emotions were never intended to be an end in themselves and are totally

untrustworthy as the custodians of truth. Any religion, therefore, that

deliberately bypasses rational doctrinal understanding and seeks to build

upon the emotions will inevitably deceive rather then enlighten.

This "mindlessness" of the cults is a most useful device. The cult

promoters are not truly appealing to the mind but rather are attempting

to set the mind aside and to appeal to a set of religious emotions.

The words of the cults are the products of a corrupted language. The words

themselves have no real meaning. They have become emotional triggers

connoting to you whatever they want them to mean. The cult promoters have

denied the doctrine of objective value as relates to the words they use.

Indeed, unlike the religions of the world, Christianity commits itself

to careful details of all kinds. Like no book in all of the world, the

Bible is a book of careful historic detail. In addition to this, important

theological propositions in the Bible are stated in many ways so that

there can be simply no question about the meaning.

The Christian who studies the Word of God becomes spiritually mature, a

defender of the faith, and able even to teach others. Fables, predicted

in Scripture, are one of the marks of a cult. One can listen endlessly

to cultic representatives on radio and television and never by sure what

they are talking about. They pose questions which they do not answer.

The answer cannot be found even by reading hundreds of pages of his

literature. Rather, the reader is led into an ever deeper labyrinth

of confusion. The tendency of cults is to more away from the objective,

categorical truth as taught in Scripture.

The great need in the religious establishment of our time is for the

candid preaching of sound doctrine as against the tantalizing sentences

of those who never do quite get to the point. Thank God for the faithful

Christian expositors of the Scriptures in our time. Ambiguity is the

devils gospel, whereas clarity is divine.

6. THE CLAIM OF SPECIAL DISCOVERIES - I have found the secret!

Religious fantasies that are presented as special spiritual discoveries are

dangerous. the careful teacher of sound doctrine is rarely as electrifying

as the mysterious religious promoter who, usually for a price, will let us

in on his "secret." Under the spells he casts, we are often tempted to

forget that the best things in life are not only free, but they are usually

obvious. It would be impossible to have a cult without mysterious, otherwise

unavailable inside information. In one way or another, each of these

dreadful religious traffics in such hallucinations.

The Christian must remember that there is no discovery in the entire

universe that anyone could possibly have that is superior to his discovery

of salvation in Jesus Christ. There is no higher information, no better

revelation, no deeper truth - nothing is greater than the knowledge of

Christ. The person who turns from this greatest discovery, this

ultimate revelation, to pursue the delusions of a cult leader is a fool.

Despite this obvious truth, the cults continue to beguile unstable souls

with their false claims to special discoveries. No discovery is more

special than Jesus Christ.

People willingly flock into the train of the religious leader who has

"discovered the secret" and is willing to pass it on to them. The claim to

special discoveries and "repeatable-on-demand" revelations from God is the

point where the cults tend to move off into the occult. Witchcraft,

spiritless, and Satan worship are nothing more than religions which claim

to be able to call for the incursion of the metaphysical in the realm of

the physical. This is surely on of the reason why the cults are often

but a stopping place where a disturbed soul lingers briefly before

dropping totally into the pit of the occult.

Nevertheless, the almost universal base of each cult religion is the

purported revelation that one person received. These persons claimed

divine authority for a private, unauthenticated religious event.

the fundamental characteristic of the faith of Christ is that it is

based on historical fact. There were hundreds and in some cases thousands

of witnesses to the open and public facts of the Gospel. Often those to

whom the Gospel was preached were reminded that they knew of their own

knowledge the truth of these things (Acts 26:25-26). the truth of

Christianity does not depend on private knowledge or secret,

unconfirmable relationships on the part of individuals.

we notice that heresies being brought in by false teachers are secret

and destructive. It is a fair generalization to say that it is the duty

of the true minister of the Gospel to take the mysteries of God and

make them plain. The normal direction of the cultic promoter is to

take the plain truth of the Word and turn it into as mysterious a

message as possible. Many deadly pitfalls lie along the path of the

dark and mysterious.

7. DEFECTIVE CHRISTOLOGY - Who is Jesus Christ?

In all the history of the Church, the most grievous heresies have been

those which have advocated a view of the person of Christ other than that

which is taught in the Word of God. A false view of the Saviour

produced a false religion which presented no salvation at all. Most of the

cults that are active in our time deny the true deity of Christ, the

true humanity of Jesus of the true union of the two natures in one Person.

It is clear then that the test of a true representative of the Gospel has

to do with his definition of the person and the work of Jesus Christ.

The central doctrine of Christianity is Christology, the doctrine of the

nature of the person of Jesus Christ. Many today who claim to be Christians

deny the true deity of Christ. Religious liberalism can be judged as

heretical on the basis of its denial of the sure deity of the blessed

Son of God. The thoughtful Christian will carefully analyze the

doctrine of a cult that is being pressed upon him, paying special

attention to the Christology of that alternative religious message. The

message that in effect declares Christ to be the automaton of the Father

and not a real person in Himself is a cult. The message that denies the

virgin birth of Christ, holding Him to be merely the natural son of Joseph

and Mary, is a cult. An examination of the doctrinal base of any religion

in the light of its views on the person and the work of Jesus Christ can

be most revealing.

Closely related to the fatal heresy of defective Christology is a denial

of the trinity of the Godhead. These critical doctrinal problems concerning

the nature of the Godhead should come to each Christian as a new reminder

of the need for Christian scholarship. The cults will have a field day in

exploiting experience-oriented saints who have no time for the study of

Christian doctrine.

8. SEGMENTED BIBLICAL ATTENTION - There is no book in all the world like

the Bible.

Variation and diversity are not marks of error. But herein lies a

potentially serious problem. they take some important but not critical

emphasis of Scriptural doctrine. It is easy to see how a religious group

can move from the true to the false by small steps of defection from the

teaching of Holy Scripture. Too often, however, this special emphasis

becomes the critical, all-important point. When a theological eccentricity

moves to the very center of the attention of a group of Christians, that

group, often without sensing it, becomes eccentric and potentially heretical.

Its attention to an interesting portion of Scripture has been carried to

the point where it has isolated this passage of the Word of God from the

corrective modifications found in other portions of the Word. Its

segmented biblical attention has cut it off from the body of divine truth.

Virtually every cult in existence today has followed the unwise course of

segmented biblical attention out beyond the pale of reason into the

production of a destructive heresy.

The lesson for all of us is very clear. While we may be fascinated with

the words of one of the personalities of Scripture and with the emphasis

of a given book of the Bible, we must not fail to pay attention to the

message of the entire Word of God.

It is of great importance that the doctrine by which a Christian orients

his faith and his life come from ALL Scripture. He remembers also that

revelation is progressive! God presented truth in a cumulative fashion,

moving from the basic theistic concepts of the Old Testament to the final

revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ. Christ brought life and immortality

to light throughout the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:10), and His doctrine was explained

to us by His apostles who wrote letters of the New Testament. We must also

never forget that the proper interpretation of the Bible must be based on

text, context, and greater context. The biblical interpreter must ask,

"What does this verse mean? In what setting is it given to us? How does

it relate to the whole Bible?"

Some who pretend to be experts on demonism fall into the same error.

Knowing of demon influence, the proceed to attribute all forms of

aberrative behavior to the presence of demons.

There are others who find a verse in the Bible about God having given to

some prophet a vision. They use this as the scriptural base for a notion

that all sound religion is therefore conducted on the basis of God revealing

Himself in vision and dreams.

Another leader may greatly encourage Christians by his emphasis on a

relaxed and positive mental attitude. While this message may be of value,

if taken as ultimate truth, it can cause a naive person finally deny

physical reality.

It is a grave temptation for any group to find a verse in the Bible about

holiness, the kingdom, law, grace, works, faith, or something else and use

it for a substitute for the whole counsel of God. Even zealous Christians

have frequently fallen into the trap of segmented biblical interpretation,

thereby creating a cultic influence in their system of doctrine.


Cults actually bring their followers into psychological and spiritual slavery.

So important to the writers of Scripture is the preservation of Christian

freedom that we are not only advised that we possess it, by we are carefully

warned never to lose it. The consequent emphasis of the New Testament is

that Christian leaders who have power or persuasive ability must be careful

never to overly control or dominate the faith of others. The Apostle Paul

never said that the strong should control the weak but rather that the

strong should support the weak.

Few passages are more indicative of the divine concern for the proper

pastoral attitude than his earnest words, "Neither as being lords over

God's heritage, but being examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3).

the word of God is clear; spiritual leadership is to be the leadership

of example. In simplicity and godly sincerity, the leader is to be an

imitator of Jesus Christ and pray that his very life will furnish, before

his onlooking flock, and illustration of the Christian life for all to

see. When the life of a Christian leader illustrates only arrogance,

groundless authoritarianism, and human imposition, he is representing

another Christ than the One presented in Holy Scripture.

The promoters of cults obey no such rules as Scripture lays down for

leaders. Indeed, they know that their success is directly dependent upon

their ability to trap followers into a permanent entanglement. This

association is almost invariably formed with the bonds of fear. The

leader's preaching, teaching, and efforts are dedicated, not to the

production of individual competence and freedom on the part of his

followers, but to create dependence. The leaders of the cults are working

to promote, not liberty, but slavery. Thus an almost universal

characteristic of the cults is the creation of a monolithic, merciless,

and entangling organizational structure.

"So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which

I hate" (Rev. 2:15). Who were the Nicolaitans? What were their deeds

and their doctrine? We have only one definite indication as to the nature

of this group and that comes to us from the meaning of the word itself.

The word Nicolatitan comes from two Greek words, "nicao" and "laos"

which means victory over or subjugation of the people. The exaggerated

distinction between "clergy" and "layity" had begun in the early stages

of Christianity. Some were already thinking it spiritually necessary or

practical to subjugate the people of God and become masters over them.

Power corrupts! This is not only true in the realm of politics. It is

tragically true in the area of religion. The religious ascendancy of a

group of spiritual elitists of the mass of People is a program and a

belief hated by God ... the subjugation of the people is a program

despised by God. We may note also that the Nicolaitan trend was merely

a set if deeds in the church at Ephesus. By the time we come to the

church at Pergamos, however, what had been deeds has turned into a doctrine.

Religious institutions today are filled with whole sets of catechisms,

disciplines, liturgies, and stated methods which are basically nothing

but the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The program of subjugation of the

people kills the true work of Christ. This kind of killing organizational

structure is one of the reliable indexes of the cults of our time.

The cult is usually represented to the captured devotee as synonymous

with the kingdom of God itself.

One of the normal connotations of the word "cultic" is that of passionate

devotion to a cause to the point of the irrational. The cult hopes to

bring its hapless followers to the place where they think of little else

except their involvement with the movement and its human leader. The

average cultist is as much a slave to his present religious involvement

as he ever was to the sin of his former life. Certain large religious

groups in the world, some of them thought of as legitimate, preach the

doctrine of damnation for all outside their particular organization.

It is a truism that the less truth a movement represents, the more highly

it must organize. Truth has its own magnetism producing loyalty. The

absence of truth makes necessary the application of the bonds of fear.

A cultic leader may present his wares by saying, "Come to Jesus," but

his real theme song is "You belong to me."

The only imperative membership which the true Christian recognizes is

membership in the body of Christ. Jesus Christ has set him free, and

no one is entitled to take this freedom from him.

10. FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION - The marvelous message of the Gospel of Christ

is that one may receive eternal salvation "without money and without price."

The Word of God makes it clear that the Christian is never put under

obligation to do, give, sacrifice, or expend himself in any way in order

to be more sure that he has the gift of God which is eternal life.

The Word of God, however, is clear that service for Christ is a voluntary

proposition on the part of the Christian, and nothing that he does will

increase his own guarantee of eternal life. He is saved by grace and

kept by the power of God. His eternal life came to him without payment

on his part. It is dependent on the work of Christ on the cross.

The Apostles taught that sacrificial Christian leaders thereby gave

evidence of their faithfulness to Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul, again

leaving us a shining example, was very careful never to accept gifts from

the churches for his own personal use. He did this for the purpose of

making the Gospel of Jesus Christ totally without charge.

What a strong contrast we see in the cultic practitioner of today!

He strongly implies that money contributed to the cause will buy privileges

or gifts or powers for the receptive follower. The follower of the the

cult is often promised that he can escape the many purgatories in this world

and the next through the investment of his money. In the financial

structure of the average cult, tithing is but the beginning. Then comes

the real pressure. Enamored of his new spiritual leader, the head of

the house forgets the clear teaching of Scripture, "If any provide not for

his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith,

and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8).

It is fair to say that an almost universal characteristic of the cults is

an insatiable financial appetite in the leadership. The false religions

of the world are characterized by lavish temples, overlaid with gold and

studded with diamonds. Most of them stand in the midst of a sea of poverty

which the cults themselves have caused. Their apparent prosperity is

nothing more than the shameful result of their cruel exploitation of

frightened people who seek their favors with financial gifts.

11. DENUNCIATION OF OTHERS - When one announces himself as the true

Messiah all others of course are false and must be put down.

Some of the most bitter imprecations in print are the scathing calumny of

cultic messiahs upon all who do not believe their views and join their

organizations. True Christians are forbidden to judge one another

(Rom. 14:13) and are given the liberty to be persuaded in their own minds

as to how to live unto the Lord (Rom. 14:5). They are even told to

"judge nothing before its time" (1 Cor. 4:5)

The cultic attitude is a fearful contrast. The sincere Christian will

conduct himself very carefully when it comes to criticism of others.

We are therefore reminded in Scripture that one is guilty of the most

forbidden kind of arrogance when he presumes to judge the activity of

his brothers who labor for the Lord. We are often warned in Scripture

to be very suspicious of those whose first calling seems to be to

produce divisions within the Church of Christ. Much unsettlement has

been caused in the ranks of Christians by those with pretended convictions

who demand a hearing and who are often purveyors of a new discovery of


12. SYNCRETISM - We must become all things to all men!

The loving concern for spiritual accommodation can be pressed to the point

where it compromises the Gospel of Christ, sometimes beyond recognition.

This kind of accommodation involves one in a grievous sin called syncretism.

Syncretism describes the attempt to gather together what some would call

"the best qualities" of various religious points of view into a new and

acceptable faith. It is the attempt to "synchronize" the otherwise

diverse religious elements currently believed by people so as to make

a new religion attractive. The definition of syncretism from a religious

point of view is "the process of growth through coalescence of different

forms of faith and worship or through accretions of tenents, rights, etc.,

from those religions which are being superseded" (Webster).

Syncretism is a favorite cultic device. Both the older and emergent cults,

almost without exception, have accommodated themselves to existing

religious points of view, incorporating older doctrines into their

systems of faith along with new and creative heresies. Few cults of our

time present much that is really new in the world of religion. Almost

invariably they are a rehash of existing concepts, orthodox and heretical.

They present warmed over elements of Protestantism, Catholicism, paganism,

pantheism, idolatry, local tetishes, and some pure idiocy.

Sensing some new, exploitive possibilities, the cultist glues together a

bewildering array of religious components, knowing that some of these will

strike a chord of response. Incorporating these in the same package with

a few theological terms, he is off and running with another cult.

A similar thing also happens on the mission fields of the world.

Missionaries, some of them merely para-Christian backgrounds, arrive in

an area already steeped in religion. Animism, ancestor worship, religious

paganism, or raw heathenism are flourishing. Hoping to minimize the

offense of their "Christianity," the missionaries accommodate themselves

to the local religious climate. Sometimes the resulting religion brings

together a regional god, an animal sacrifice, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus

Christ all in the same system. Syncretism on mission fields is becoming

one of the scandals of the religious world. A syncretistic religion is not

Christianity at all; it is a cult.

We hear talk in churches today that may open the door to acceptance of

a religious potpourri that is something other than Christianity.

The Gospel does not of itself promise to change the social structure, the

political climate, or the physical environment of those who, even after

faith in Christ, live in the midst of a fallen world. Many groups of

Christians today rejoice in the gospel plus a wonderful religious heritage.

The sacred traditions of many religious groups have been a significant

source of stability as they guide their way through the new problems

of this current generation.

Looking to the past, however, can produce subtle deceptions in our Christian

thinking. Surely what the Church needs today is not so much the "faith of

our fathers," but the faith of Jesus Christ as expressed in the changeless

Scriptures of the New Testament. Hertiage can become a dangerous element

in the thinking of Christians because it is almost always applied to a

human tradition which, at best, is only partially biblical. Indeed, great,

time-spanning religious traditions are ordinarily formed to protect by

custom certain theological propositions which are unvoiced in the Word

of God.

Another syncretistic tendency has been the movement of the great

denominations to include "the imperative of social action" in their

preaching of the Gospel. This has been true to the extent that they have

been legitimately accused of preaching a social gospel. The Gospel may

have indeed have social implications (fewer, I think, than are commonly

touted), but this is another, infinitely less important subject than the

death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His glorious resurrection. The

one produces eternal salvation; the other, endless discussion. The point

is that Christians need an understanding of Christian doctrine adequate

to discern the difference between what the Gospel IS and what the

Gospel implies.

Europe resembles a vast cemetery of Christian religion; it is now dead

but has left behind its grave markers. Little of Christianity remains

in the countries of its origins. As churches grew older, they seem to

have given themselves to the spirit of accommodation while forgetting

their heavenly calling. They set up ecumenical movements, national

conferences of Christians and Jews, and endless other movements to make

their situation more legitimate. The opted for political change, social

action, and worked with sincerity. Time, money and irreplaceable human

energy went into these "worthy causes" and salvation from sin seemed pale

by comparison.

Syncretism, the attempt to synchronize the Gospel of Christ with a godless

world, is a deadly virus from which almost no institution recovers.


1. Understand Christian doctrine.

The chief single reasons for the success of the cults is the spiritual

naivete' on the part of many. Too many Christians are content with a

superficial knowledge of the Word of God and think of themselves as

thereby being spiritually intelligent. Nothing could be farther from the


The Christian must give himself to a detailed study of Scripture and must

understand the Bible from a doctrinal point of view. He should have valid

biblical information that answers the questions: Who is God? What is

man? What is sin? What do we mean by biblical inspiration?

We live in a time when doctrine has been played down in favor of Christian

experience. This is the most foolish course imaginable because experience

has little or nothing to do with Christian truth.

2. Separation from spiritual subversion.

Many people ask whether they should not attend meeting of cultic religious

organizations and give themselves to an extensive reading of subversive

religious literature. With rare exceptions, the answer to this question

is NO, a thousand times NO! It is not true that we cannot speak critically

of false doctrine unless we have read everything that the leadership of

these cults have to say. The statement that says, "You cannot know what

it is until you have tried it" is a satanic doctrine, and it is the very

one that he used to subvert Eve and bring the terrible cancer of sin into

all the World.

3. Refuse profane points of view.

Scripture commands again and again that he must be careful, take heed,

watch, remember. He is called upon to be very sober because his satanic

adversary continues to go about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

4. Do not encourage cultic practitioners.

Those who do not believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ are in fact enemies

of the Lord. The Apostle John wrote: "Whosoever transgresseth, and

abideth no in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in

the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there

come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your

house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is

partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 9-11). This is the hard but

necessary course of action for one who would protect himself and his family

from spiritual danger.

5. Be willing to contend for the faith.

Scripture calls upon us to earnestly contend for the faith, which means of

course to be willing to defend the truth of the Gospel in the face of

satanic adversaries (Jude 3).

The true servant of Jesus Christ must be careful that his friendship with

Jesus Christ's the association that is absolute. by comparison to this,

all human associations are relative. This principle of the universe is

truth and this must be defended even at the cost of our lives.

Our spiritual sentiments, and this is the most sentimental age in the

history of the Church, would lead us many times to feel that contention

for the faith of the Gospel is somehow unspiritual or undignified. Nothing

could be farther from the truth. The world is described as a battleground

and the essential struggle on that field of conquest is the struggle

between truth and untruth.

These documents are free from , providing free webcontent for websites around the world!. copy freely with this link intact.