Sunday, March 22, 2015

Christianity Vs. Cults

During the past few days I’ve exchanged emails with another blogger who’s tried to “unconvert” me. This man is a former born again Christian who now considers himself an agnostic. He equates Christianity with magic and even labels it “a cult.” 

There’s a clear difference between true Christianity and cults. One dictionary defines cult as “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious.” This wouldn’t describe Bible-believing churches and ministries who aim to preach the Word of God without intentionally distorting it. Examples of cults would include...
  • Church of Scientology
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
  • David Koresh’s Branch Davidians
  • Unification Church (Moonies)
  • Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) 
Most of these groups preach truths from the Bible but mix in other doctrines that pervert the gospel. Galatians 5:9 warns, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

One warning sign of a cult is members being told they must shun everyone that’s not part of their group. It’s true believers need to set boundaries when relating to nonbelievers. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors not to become like them but to minister to them. We can demonstrate the love of God to unsaved friends and family members without partaking of sinful activities they may be involved in.

Not long after I started attending a Full Gospel church in the early 1990s, my parents feared I had became part of a cult. Coming from traditional denominational backgrounds, they weren’t used to seeing someone in the family passionate about the Lord. What probably aroused their concerns was my temporarily distancing myself from them. This was in response to heated disagreements we had regarding decisions I made with my life. Eventually, we reconciled.

Another sign of a cult is members not allowed to question their leaders. Cult leaders often expect blind obedience from their followers. On the other hand, Jesus encourages us to ask for wisdom (James 1:5) and for confirmations if we’re uncertain it’s His will to do something. 2 Corinthians 13:1 says, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”

In his attempt to discredit Christianity, the agnostic blogger listed a couple of his own “hallmarks of a cult”...

“They lure you in with promises of love, security, and happiness.” 

It’s true cults make false promises to draw people in. Over the years I’ve met individuals who got deceived into being part of such organizations. This resulted in much pain and disappointment. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is entirely different. Walking with the Lord does promise love and security but will also attract persecution from individuals who don’t want to follow His commandments.

“If you even think about leaving, they threaten you with horrific consequences.”

A good pastor or ministry leader will bless departing members who believe God is directing them someplace else. Therefore, leaving a particular church or group isn’t always a bad thing. I avoid those that talk too much about God’s judgment and not enough about His mercy. 

At the same time, a true minister of the gospel will speak the truth in love about the reality of hell. Jesus warned in Luke chapter 13 verses 3 and 5, “...unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Just as there are consequences for breaking natural laws like gravity and the speed limit, there are consequences when we violate spiritual laws. It’s also worth pointing out Jesus didn’t beg or pressure the rich young ruler to follow Him after he walked away (Mark 10:17-27). The Lord gave us a free will and wants us to choose to love Him.

Another dictionary defines cult as “a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.” Worldly folks are often scared of believers they consider “fanatical” but see nothing wrong with sports fans extremely loyal to their favorite team. Christians who are doers of God’s word aren’t really a danger to anyone except the devil and his kingdom of darkness

Never let fears of being labelled a cult member squelch your enthusiasm for the things of God. He wants us on fire for Him.

“not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” - Romans 12:11

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