What is a Cult?

With the recent tragedy in Waco, Texas the minds of many Americans have been

centered on the many aspects of what a cult is. First let me start with a

simple definition of the word cult. A cult in the religious sense is any group

that claims to be christian, uses Christian terminology, but deviates in its

basic theology from the Historic Christian faith. This deviation usually cen-

ters around the person and work of Jesus Christ. This usually includes the

authority fo the Bible, the doctrines of God, the Holy Spirit, mankind, and


Since most cults appeal to the Bible as the source for most of it's

teachings, cults misuse the Bible in a number of ways. Some cults suppliment

the Bible with another authority or revelation. A good example of this is the

Mormons. They accept the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrines

and Covenants, and the "living prophet" as suppliments that superceed the

authority of the Holy Scriptures.

Another way that cults misuse the Bible is through misquoting scriptures and

passages. Edgar Cayce the founder of the Association for Research and

Enlighten- ment, misquotes John 3:3 to read "reborn again" to support his

belief and teachings on reincarnation.

Cults often have to come up with their own translation of the Bible in order

to support their abhorant theology. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

has produced their own translation of the Bible called the New World

Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and have made many changes in the text

such as: Genesis 1:2 "the Spirit of God" has been changed to "God's active

force" to reflect their belief that the "Holy Spirit" is God's impersonal

power at work in the world. Acts 2:4 The words "holy spirit" are never

capitalized in the New World Translation. John 1:1 is a classic example of

adding to the scriptures to give them a new and completely different meaning.

In the third phrase "and the Word was God" has been changed to "and the Word

was a God." This has obviously been changed to support their belief that

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but not God the Son.

At this point you have to ask yourself, why do they do this? The answer is

that they are not saved and do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.

So they feel compelled to change what they cannot understand or accept. In 1

Corinthians 2:14, it says "The man without the Spirit does not accept the

things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and

he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

This clearly tells us that without the Holy Spirits help in discerning God's

word we will never be able to grasp what he is saying, "they are foolishness

to him".

Cultic groups will often use the Bible as a hook to get you to talk with

them. One Saturday afternoon I was in my office when I heard the doorbell

ring. At the door were two nicely dressed gentlemen with brief cases. I

happend to be wearing a T-shirt that had a picture of the Four Horsemen of

the Apocalypse, that said "Revelation 6 The Coming Judgement." The first

words out of one of the young mens mouth was " I see that you also are a

believer in the Bible." They were Jehovah's Witness Pioneers. I asked them in

and I talked to them for several hours. The point is they will use your

belief in the Bible as a hook to get you to talk to them. This is how the

Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, and many others lure in unsuspecting


The Mormons are another example of a cult that will use the Bible as a hook.

They often quote James 1:5 to introduce the "story" of Joseph Smith Jr's

first vision in the year 1820. The Mormons claim that they believe in the

Bible, "but so far as it is translated correctly." Of course they claim to

have the correct translation.

Cultic groups will often refer to the Bible, but not cite a text. When

someone says to you "its in the Bible." Ask them to show you were its in the

Bible, ask them to be specific. The scriptures tell us to test all things and

see if they match up to scripture.(1 Thess. 5:21)

Often they will quote two or more unrelated text and combine them to prove a

single argument; conflicting passages are ignored or reinterpreted to give

new meaning. Some good examples of this are:

Mormons cite Jeremiah 1:5; Acts 17:26-29; and Hebrews 12:9. They use these

passages of scripture to support their teaching of pre-existence.(God is the

father of our spirits and we existed with him before our birth here on


The Way International uses passages such as Matt.26:39,42; Mark 13:32; and

Hebrews 4:15 to support its teaching that Jesus was a man, the Son of God,

but not God the Son.

The leader of most cultic groups are very charismatic and authoritive. He or

she is seen as the sole source of revealtion from God. This was the case with

David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. Koresh had absolute authority over his

followers. He controlled every aspect of their lives. He claimed to hold the

key to the seventh seal of the Book of Revelation. So in effect, he was once

again claiming to be the Messiah.

Salvation within the cult is usually obtained by following the leader who may

claim to be fulfilling the role of an apostle, a prophet, or the messiah. The

followers may be told by the leader that they are helping to bring about a

new world order, peace, or the fulfillment of a prophecy.

They usually believe in progressive revelation, or that God reveals new

truths through the cult leader. These are readily accepted as new teachings

from God. A good example of this is the Jehovah's Witnesses "new light." When

they want to make a change in doctrine, all they have to do is say we have

new light on this, and the doctrine can then be changed.

Often the Bible is not seen as the final record of the revelation of God. The

leader may claim to hold the "keys" to properly interpret the Bible. He or

she may claim to have found errors in the Bible that need to be corrected.

These corrections are given as keen insights or teaching's from God. These

are generally acepted in place of scripture as inerrant teachings of the


With the cults acceptance of a modern prophetic figure, new truth from God

and possession of the correct interpretation of the Bible, the cult will

claim it is the one true church. This will also include the rejection of

Historic Christianity as the one true faith (Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses,

the Cambellites, and many others to numerous to include.).

There are over 3000 cultic groups in America alone, and over 60 million

people are involved in cults and the occult. This number is growing daily,

every minute, every second. These people are lost and hurting, and are

seeking the answers to lifes questions.

We as believers and children of the most high God hold the truth in His Son

Jesus Christ. We should take every opportunity to share His Gospel Message to

the lost and unbelieving.


For more information about cults or the New Age Movement write:

Counter Cult Consultants

Executive Director: Jim L. Toungate Jr.

1704 ST. Williams St.

Round Rock, Tx 78681

Copyright 1993

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