Cults and the Danger

                I mentioned in my sermon a couple of weeks ago, that I had watched a program about cults.  While the cults portrayed were dangerous because at some point members were commanded to kill people, I hope everyone knows that all cults are dangerous because they lead you away from Christ. They are spiritually dangerous.  The cults that were featured were all small cults, anywhere from 30 to 300 people. However, when you look at the defining characteristics of a cult, you see that some majors religions are nothing but cults.  So…what makes a religious movement a “cult”?

My list isn’t comprehensive because some identify up to 12 characteristics.  What I am sharing are the most obvious and easily identified.

  1. They are birthed by a person who personally receives new revelation from God that drives their doctrine. This leader is infallible. Notable for our era is L. Ron Hubbard (Church of Scientology), Joseph Smith (Mormonism), Muhammad (Islam), Charles Russel (Jehovah’s Witnesses), and others.


  1. They have a book, or books, that they claim as being equal to or superior to the Bible. The Mormons have the Book of Mormon as well as “The Pearl of Great Price” and “Doctrines and Covenants”.  The Muslims, of course have the Quran.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses actually have their own version of the Bible called “The New World Translation”.
  1. They claim that only their particular group will be in heaven (and often their definition of heaven is different because of their “new revelation”). The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that only 144,000 will be in heaven, so that’s fairly exclusionary.  We pretty much know the Muslims believe you have to embrace Islam…even if by force. Mormons are a little more flexible.  Non-Mormons can’t populate their own planets, but if they are good, decent people they may inhabit a type of “heaven-like” experience on a much lower plane.
  1. They are not always up front about their beliefs often resulting in somewhat deceptive practices.  Mormons don’t just come out and ask you if you want to be god of your own planet or tell you that they have secret places only Mormons can see.  Jehovah’s Witnesses will introduce themselves now as a “Christian” religion even though they don’t accept Christ as having deity nor believe in the concept of the Trinity.  Scientologists don’t parade around their belief that an alien populated the earth millions of years ago by bringing spaceships loaded with other aliens.
There are a few other characteristics of cults, but these are usually the easiest to spot.  Yes, the smaller cults with charismatic leaders that make the headlines for their horrible practices and terrible endings are dangerous.  But I believe the biggest danger is found in the cults that I mentioned (and a few others) that are perceived not to be cults at all.  How do we combat the false doctrines of cults? First by being sure of the doctrines you know to be Biblical and true.  Then always pray for wisdom and courage to stand up for that truth.
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff

Bro. Tony