What is a cult?
Question: "What is the definition of a cult?"
Answer: When we hear the word “cult,” we often think of a group that worships Satan, sacrifices animals, or takes part in evil, bizarre, and pagan rituals. However, in reality, most cults appear much more innocent. The specific Christian definition of a cult is “a religious group that denies one or more of the fundamentals of biblical truth.” In simpler terms, a cult is a group that teaches something that will cause a person to remain unsaved if he/she believes it. As distinct from a religion, a cult is a group that claims to be part of the religion, yet denies essential truth(s) of that religion. A Christian cult is a group that denies one or more of the fundamental truths of Christianity, while still claiming to be Christian.
The two most common teachings of cults are that Jesus was not God and that salvation is not by faith alone. A denial of the deity of Christ results in Jesus’ death not being a sufficient payment for our sins. A denial of salvation by faith alone results in salvation being achieved by our own works, something the Bible vehemently and consistently denies. The two most well-known examples of cults are the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. Both groups claim to be Christian, yet both deny the deity of Christ and salvation by faith alone. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons believe many things that are in agreement with or similar to what the Bible teaches. However, the fact that they deny the deity of Christ and preach a salvation by works qualifies them as a cult. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and members of other cults are “good people” who genuinely believe they hold the truth.
Recommended Resources: The Kingdom of the Cults, revised and updated edition and Logos Bible Software.
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So we understand that in religion and sociology, a cult is a group of people (often a new religious movement) devoted to beliefs and goals which may be contradictory to those held by the majority of society. Its marginal status may come about either due to its novel belief system or due to idiosyncratic practices that cause the surrounding culture to regard it as far outside the mainstream. Source: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult
In traditional usage, the cult of a religion, quite apart from its sacred writings ("scriptures"), its theology or myths, or the personal faith of its believers, is the totality of external religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is the definition of impiety. Cult is literally the "care" owed to the god and the shrine. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_(religion)
A religious group that follows a particular theological system. In the context of Christianity, and in particular, CARM, it is a group that uses the Bible but distorts the doctrines that affect salvation sufficiently to cause salvation to be unattainable. A few examples of cults are Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, Christadelphians, Unity, Religious Science, The Way International, and the Moonies. (See also Cults)www.carm.org/dictionary/dic_c-d.htm
A religious group which denies the essential doctrines of Christianity. The term is usually reserved for groups founded after 1750.www.dtl.org/trinity/misc/glossary.htm
Extension Challenge: Many of you will be intrigued by the concept of cults and the manipulation that goes into luring people in. The video below gives a comprehensive psychological perspective of cults, their leaders and their adherents.
All have some of the characteristics listed, not all have all of the characteristics listed
- Authoritarian leadership
- Denial of Christian teaching
- Special revelations from God
- A committed lifestyle which isolates members from the outside world
- Opposition to society
Complete the 2 short EDPuzzle activities by clicking the links below.
Extension Challenge: Many of you will be intrigued by the concept of cults and the manipulation that goes into luring people in. The video below gives a comprehensive psychological perspective of cults, their leaders and their adherents. Create a pamphlet which could be available on a university and TAFE campus for Orientation Week, to help alert first year uni students of the dangers. Provide some keys to help them protect themselves against such lures.