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
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
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