An Introduction to Cults

By: Dr. Morey

I.   The Biblical Mandate
 All Christians are commanded by God to defend the Christian Faith (Jude 3).  Thus we should not to be ignorant of Satan's devices (II Cor. 2:11).  Jesus foretold the coming of false Christs and false prophets (Matt. 24: 4-5, 11, 23-27).  He said that we will be able to know them (Matt. 7: 15-23).  

II.  The Amazing Growth Of The Cults
One hundred years ago there were only five or six cults in the U. S. with only a few thousand followers.  Today there are over five thousand cults with over fifty million people involved.  New cults are being incorporated every day. 

Why did the major cults arise in the 19th Century?

  1. There was a crisis in religious authority.
  2. Unparalleled natural catastrophes occurred.
  3. An "End of the World" mania gripped the population.
  4. Prophets and prophetesses appear by the dozens.
  5. Occult beliefs and practices became popular.

Part One
I. Definition of the word "Cult":
A Religious Organization founded upon the authority and teaching of one or more individuals whose authority is viewed as being equal to or greater than the authority of Scripture and whose teaching contradicts the theology of Biblical and Historic Christianity.

II. Scope of the word "Cult"

  1. A cult is an organization whose authority structure rests upon some human authority.  This authority figure maybe viewed as a prophet, messiah or god.  He or she may even be called "pastor" or "elder.”  The crucial point is that in a cult, the authority structure does not allow for any disagreement or individuality.  The members must conform every area of life to the wishes of those over them.  The power of the authorities is absolute.
  2. In a cult, the authorities contradict Biblical truth by teaching things that are heretical in nature.  Most cults deny essential Biblical teachings such as the Trinity, the Deity and bodily resurrection of Christ, etc.

III. How To Identify A Cult
  There are thus two key elements in all cultic groups:

  1. Misplaced Authority
    In a cult, the authority of the leadership is viewed as being equal to or greater than the Bible.  The leadership speaks as God's "prophet" and has absolute authority over every aspect of life.
  2. Doctrinal Errors
    • In a cult, while they may claim to be "Christian" and even the true church, they actually deny historic Christianity.
    • Key questions to ask religious groups/churches:
    • Is the Bible the final authority in faith and practice?
    • Is God a personal "I AM" or an impersonal "it?"
    • Is there only one God?
    • Is man a god or a god-in-the-making?
    • Is God infinite, eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, perfect, incorporate, invisible, good, etc.?
    • Is God a Trinity?
    • Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?
    • Was He the Christ or only a Christ?  Was He born of a virgin?
    • Did He die on the cross for our sins?
    • Did He rise bodily from the grave?
    • Did He ascend to the right hand of the Father?
    • Is He coming back personally, bodily and visibly?
    • Is salvation by grace or by works?  Is Jesus Christ the only way of salvation?
    • Does man have an immortal soul?
    • Does this soul survive the death of the body? 
    • Do we go to Heaven or Hell at death?
    • Will all men be raised bodily at the Judgment Day?
    • Does eternal conscious punishment await the wicked?

Part Two
I.   How to Witness to Cultists

  1. Realize that the initial problem is the authority issue.  Until you can refute this authority, the cultist will be closed-minded.
  2. The use of the false prophecies made by the cultic leader or leaders has been used by God to bring many people out of the world.  Once this prophecy fails, they must be viewed as false prophets according to Deut. 18:21-22.

II. Application of Method

  1. Jehovah's Witnesses:  How to Answer a Jehovah's Witness, (Bethany House Pub.)
  2. Mormons:  How to Answer a Mormon, (Bethany House Pub.)
  3. Reincarnation:  Reincarnation and Christianity,  (Bethany House Pub.)
  4. Astrology:  Horoscopes and the Christian, (Bethany House Pub.)
  5. See charts on Seventh Day Adventists, Armstrong and Moonies.

These four steps can be quickly grasped, easily retained and readily used by the average person because they do not require a great deal of memorization or knowledge.  This method not only successfully cult-proofs a church but it has also been used by God to bring thousands of cultists to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.