Be Informed!

Be Informed!

Be Informed.

Father God, help us to understand and believe your word in its entirety in Jesus name, Amen. It’s a good day that the Lord has made so we must rejoice and be glad in it. Thank God for mercies.

How do religious cults and sects view God, Jesus, and the Bible?
We shall be looking at this text in Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”.
This was a warning the Lord Jesus himself gave to his listeners when He was physically here on earth. We can tell a lot about religious cults and sects by how they view God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. From my research and findings I have listed several cults and their views below:

  • Baha’I Faith views God as unknowable and unable to incarnate Himself. Jesus returned as Baha’u’llah. Religious truth is relative.
  • Christian Science believes that God is everything, Jesus is a highly enlightened Christian Scientist, and the Bible is able to be correctly interpreted by Science and Heath with Key to the Scriptures.
  • Church Universal and Triumphant views God as an impersonal energy, Jesus as a evolved spirit guide, and the Bible as historically unreliable.
  • Jehovah’s Witness claim God is unipersonal, Jesus is a created angel, and the Bible is only correct when interpreted by the Watchtower Society.
  • Freemasonry views God as Unitarian and pantheistic, Jesus as a supremely good man, and the Bible as a symbol of the divine will.
  • Mormons define God as an exalted physical man, Jesus as “Jehovah” of the Old Testament, and the Bible as authoritative only when it agrees with Mormon theology.
  • Religious Science views God as an impersonal mind, Jesus as a great man who became “Christ-conscious,” and the Bible is one of many sacred scriptures.
  • Scientology proclaims God as purposefully undefined, Jesus as One invented by the church, and the Bible is accepted as one of the world’s religious books, but nothing more.
  • The Unification Church views God as divine energy, Jesus as a special creation of God, and the Bible as one of God’s revelations. The Bible has since been replaced by Moon’s revelations.
  • Unitarian Universalism sees God as undefined and Jesus as a good man. The Bible is a fallible book.
  • Unity School of Christianity claims God is an impersonal principle and infinite mind. Jesus (The Christ) is the inner self of every person and the Bible (when interpreted by Unity) is the most advanced of mankind’s religious Scriptures.
  • The Way International sees God as one divine person, Jesus as the created Son of God (not God the Son), and the Bible as the Word of God (when interpreted by Wierwille).

For more detailed information of these cults and several cults not mentioned in this write up, please consult the following resources. Information in this content was taken from these sources:
Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, published by Harvest House Publishers.
Kingdom of the Cults, published by Bethany House Publishers.

What are some characteristics of religious cults?

It is important to understand the characteristics of religious cults in order to identify a cult when we encounter one. So how do we recognize a cult when we see one? Study the following questions regarding the characteristics of religious cults:

  • Does the group claim to be a Christian organization or a friend of Christianity, but their teachings misrepresent Christian theology? Most often, the doctrines of the Trinity and salvation by grace alone are misrepresented in a cult’s teachings.
  • Is the group characterized by authoritarianism? Are members who disobey to the slightest degree punished severely or excommunicated? Can a person think and study for themselves or must they rely on the group’s leader for all of their instruction?
  • Is the Bible misinterpreted in the groups teaching? They may claim to interpret the Bible correctly, but does their biblical interpretation stand up under close examination?
  • Are members of the group subject to psychological, physical, or spiritual harm?
  • When asked, can the group provide an accurate and detailed history of the founder(s) and origin of the organization?
  • Do you sense intimidation or deception within the group or toward outsiders? Are the members manipulated – either by time-manipulation or thought-manipulation?
  • Is there secrecy?

1 John 3:7 says, “Little children, let no man deceive you…”

What is a cult?
What is a cult? In our society, we often think of a cult as a group that practices Satan worship or sacrifices animals. In reality, cults often appear as innocent groups who provide physical and religious assistance to a community.

There are basically two kinds of cults. The first kind is a manipulative group who controls its members completely and demands complete commitment and loyalty. The second kind of cult is one who deviates from biblical Christianity.

The Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions defines a cult as: “A separate religious group generally claiming compatibility with Christianity but whose doctrines contradict those of historic Christianity and who practices and ethical standards violate those of biblical Christianity.”

Basically, what makes a religious group a cult is a denial of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. For example: denial of the deity of Jesus Christ or the Trinity, denial of Jesus’ resurrection, denial of salvation by faith, etc.

Another distinguishing factor of cults is the way they twist the Bible and interpret it incorrectly. Many cults take verses out of context, combine passages that are not relevant to each other, and use incorrect definitions of theological terms.

These theological teachings are presented to people slowly and the thinking process of the person is gradually changed. As an inquirer hears the doctrine presented repeatedly, they gradually accept points one at a time.

1 John 4:1-3 instructs us: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: (why so? ) because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world

Who are some religious cult leaders?
A study of religious cult leaders will help us understand how people are deceived into adhering to cultic philosophy or doctrine.

Here are some religious cult leaders from history and modern days.

  • The Bab (1819-1850) and Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) serve as the founders of the Baha’I Faith. “The Bab” stated that he was the greatest manifestation of God. He was followed by Baha’u’llah who supposedly brought even greater revelation to light. These leaders believed God to be ineffable and unknowable. Their history is filled with failed prophecy.
  • Charles Fillmore (1854-1948) is credited with founding the Unity School of Christianity. His writings are highly regarded, as is the Bible, when interpreted by Unity.
  • Joseph Smith (1805-1844) based Mormonism on supernatural revelations that he received.
  • Sun Myung Moon (1920- ), the founded of the Unification Church claims that Jesus visited him, charging him with finishing the work that Jesus came to do. Moon claims to succeed where Jesus failed.
  • Olumba Olumba Obu founded The brotherhood of The Cross and Star in Calabar, Nigeria in (1956- ) he claims to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Great Saviour and a helper lord redeemer on earth among men to dwell and to correct the two (2) mistakes of Jesus Christ. He cried and He made a whip to chase people from the temple. See their website
  • Temitope Balogun Joshua (T. B. Joshua) allegedly fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights. He wrote that in a heavenly vision, he had received divine anointing and a covenant from God to start his ministry. The Synagogue, Church of All Nation In (1989- ) T.B. Joshua cannot and does not say “JESUS IS LORD” see 1Corinthians 12:3 He only says “Emmanuel” See also the address below.            http://tbjoshuawatch.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/is-scoan-a-cult-an-expert-view/
  • David Keresh (1959-1993) led the Branch Davidians authoritatively. He has been accused of sexual abuse and of harming young children.
  • Victor Paul Wierwille (1917 -1985), founder of The Way International, claims that God audibly spoke to him, telling him to interpret the Bible in a whole new way.
  • L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) is listed as the founder of Scientology. He claimed his writings are the only source for solving the problems of mankind.

Religious cult leaders are often very charismatic and considered to be unique in some way. Often times, the leader claims to be a god, angel, or a messenger for God assigned for a specific mission. He or she is held in high reproach and gradually becomes the center of worship. It is often very dangerous to contradict or criticize the cult leader. Members who do so are often excommunicated or severely punished. Ultimately, the leader gets his way, no matter who he tramples in the process, including government authorities, etc.

You have been informed if you did not know before. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices”. 2 Corinthians 2:11

 

Today, I just want to share with you how you can tell if you are in a cult set up in the name of a Christian church. This is not an attempt to paint some groups ugly but rather to get you informed. And if you are involved or have someone who is involved to let them know. Titus 1:10-13 warns “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. …Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;”

Though the Bible does not use the word “cult,” the idea is there—at least in seed form. It is represented by the Greek word hairesis, translated “sect,” in five places in the book of Acts. It derives from a root meaning “to choose.” Meaning, a self-willed opinion that rejects the authority of truth, leads to division, and causes the formation of a sect.

Much study has been done in recent years with reference to the development of cults. How do these bizarre movements get started? How do cult leaders gain such strong control over their devotees? You can identify some key traits by which cultish movements reveal themselves.

Check these out:

(1)        You find cult members saying “Daddy said, Bishop said or Pastor said” more than “GOD SAID or the SCRIPTURES SAYS”.

(2)        Cult members are “focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.” The leader is a strong-willed, domineering character who rules the group with tight control. He lets it be known in very subtle but firm ways that he is in charge of the movement. He makes the plans; he orchestrates the movements of the group or groups (sometimes he exercises his sway over several groups). He dispatches the workers, assigns their chores, etc.

Frequently, they even begin to imitate his mannerisms in terms of voice inflection, language patterns, aggressive attitudes, etc. They become clones of their esteemed leader. It is not uncommon that the leader knows of weaknesses or past problems of people within his group. Thus, through subtle intimidation and fear he keeps them under his control.

(3)        “Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged,” and there can be pressure or social punishment when there is disagreement with the “boss.” Those who disagree are made to feel as though they are stupid or inept. They are brainwashed with the notion that they do not have the knowledge or experience to question the leader.

Younger people are particularly vulnerable to the leader’s gift of gab, and his feigned expertise. No matter how radical the leader becomes in his decisions or actions, the cult members will not criticize him. Even if there should be mild disagreement, no specific expressions are voiced. The members reason that though he may be mistaken in some of his judgments, yet the overall good he accomplishes outweighs any minor flaws.

Members are taught to “rationalize” the conduct of the leader in matters they have always “considered unethical before,” under the guise that the “end justifies the means.”

(4)        The leader “is preoccupied with (raising) money.” There is always a need for increasing finances. New projects are ever in the planning. Members are strongly encouraged to greatly sacrifice for the leader’s current pet enterprise. There is little pressure let-up; members of the group must be kept revved up on a continual basis.

The cult leader always takes the major credit for the movement’s accomplishments. Members become psychologically dependent upon him. “What would we ever do without our leader?” is the cult mentality.

(5)        The cult leader generates within his members “a polarized” mentality. His people evolve an us-versus-them outlook. Little by little, he criticizes other groups with which his members might tend to associate, undermining confidence in them, attempting to discredit anyone who could have influence over his flock.

Cult members become suspicious; they imbibe the critical disposition. “No one is really as sound as we are. We are an elitist group.” And so, seeds of isolationism are sown. The movement leader discourages reading any material, examining any ideas that he does not generate. He seeks to control the inflow of knowledge relative to his group.

Jehovah’s Witnesses generally will not read any literature other than that published by the Watchtower Association.

(6)        The cult leader has a clearly defined anti-authoritarian disposition. Within the context of the church, for instance, he would have an “anti-elder” attitude. Elders would be recipients of constant critical remarks. No cult leader would affiliate himself with a congregation having elders to whom he must be in submission. Control could not be maintained in such an environment.

The cult leader will constantly criticize preachers, particularly those whose knowledge of the Scriptures eclipse his own. Members must be made to feel that he is the chief authority in spiritual matters.

(7)        Cult members are seen occasionally to take on a new personality. They want to look and be like their leader.  They begin to act differently. They become increasingly antagonistic to family members and long-time friends. They may even boast, “I am not the old Bola or James you used to know; I am a new person now.” (They mention their name) And indeed they are. They have become strangers to those who knew them well. They have been transformed into the image of their leader and not the image and the love of Jesus.

(8)        Some times worship mode and salvation take on the style of the Old Testament temple worship of blood sacrifice, incense and candle burning. The Ten Commandments becomes their all in all. Not faith in the name of the Lord Jesus. Just like the Celestial Church of Christ and most white garment “churches”.

The Christian must always be on guard against cult-like figures who would control their thinking and life patterns. Our challenge is to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians. 10:5), and to none other.

This is just a bit for your information. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”. Matthew 7:15
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God Bless you

 

 

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