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Home Cults Introduction

Introduction

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Cults By Rev. Paul Seiler

1. Introduction


1.1 WHAT IS A CULT?

The Concise Oxford Dictionary, fifth edition, describes the word CULT as n. from F. culle or L. cultus - worship; system of religious worship; devotion, homage to a person or thing.

A cult is a religious perversion. It is a belief and practice in the world of religion which calls for devotion to a religious view or leader centred in false doctrine. It is an organised heresy.

The purpose of this book is to present the teachings and characteristics of most of the cults which exist in Australia today. The author has categorised the cults into three basic groups.

Group A: Cults deriving from a Christian basis.

The first section of this book will deal with the beliefs and practices of those cults which have been derived from a Christian world view. Such cults might loosely be termed "Christian cults," which does not mean that they are Christian, but only that they derive from Christianity and have beliefs which are a distortion of the orthodox Christian faith. A "Christian cult" may be defined as a religious group which claims to be Christian, but deviates in one or more significant aspects from the historic Christian faith.

Group B: Cults with an Eastern mystic basis.

The second section will be given to an examination of the beliefs and practices of those cults which derive from an Eastern religious and philosophical background. There are many such Eastern cults operating in the Western world today.

Group C: The Occult.

In this section the author will be examining the beliefs and practices of the various occult groups and practices common in the Western world today.

1.2 CULT SYSTEMS ARE NOT NEW:

From the commencement of the Christian church in the first century A.D. it has had a continued fight with various cults. In the first century, for example, the Ephesian Church had a problem with the "Nicolaitan" cult (Rev. 2:6 ). Little is known of this cult, other than the fact that the members of this cult followed the teachings of Nicolaus of Antioch, and they were given to immorality. There was also a problem cult operating in Colossae, as is evident from Paul's letter to the Colossian church. It would appear that certain members of the Colossian Church had broken away and formed themselves into exclusive groups, practicing a variety of mystical rites. During the second century the church had to trouble from a number of Gnostic cults, which significantly departed from the truth of the gospel. The members of these cults claimed to possess knowledge that the ordinary members of the church did not have. They believed that matter was evil, and they denied that God created the world. Among the more notable leaders of the Gnostic cults were Valentinus and Marcion. Like many cult leaders today, these men claimed to be instruments of God, through whom the Holy Spirit was working. They were responsible for leading many people astray in the second century.

1.3 WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CULTS?

Why are there so many cults? The apostle Paul answers this question in his letter to Timothy. He explained to Timothy that the cults are really the work of Satan, who works through evil spirits to deceive people into believing false teaching. (1Timothy 4:1) The Bible teaches that cults are Satanically inspired and their doctrines are the doctrines of demons. False doctrines, such as those taught by Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, are not simply the production of men. Millions of people are deceived by these doctrines, which leaves us with little question concerning their origin. As Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians,

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4 ).

One of Satan's most successful ways of deceiving people and blinding them to the gospel is through the cults. Presenting the gospel to people caught up in the cults is a very difficult thing. The author recalls a very frustrating time that he spent with some Jehovah's Witnesses, seeking to convince them of their error. Yet no matter how convincingly he presented the teachings of the Bible, these people were unmoved. The author's arguments seemed to make no impression at all upon them. When you are dealing with people in the cults, it is important to realise the control that Satan has on their minds. If you are going to effectively win them for Christ, then you need to be in much prayer for them. When you are dealing with the cults you need to be aware that you are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers of darkness. (Ephesians 6:12 )

1.4 THE CULTS TO SEDUCE CHRISTIANS AWAY FROM CHRIST.

The apostle Paul warned the elders of the Ephesian Church to be careful to guard the congregation from false teachers. He prophesied that false teachers would arise from among them and would seek to lead the saints astray (Acts 20:30 ). The author has seen the effects of the cults on members of the church and knows of one incident where a woman showed many signs of being genuinely converted, yet was led away into a cult. This is not uncommon, many have left the church to be caught up with cults. The Bible does teach that it is impossible for those who are God's children to lose their salvation. Jesus taught, it is impossible for the elect to be led away into total apostasy. (Matthew 24:24 ) Jesus will never allow anyone to pluck His children out of His hand. (John10:28). However, even though a genuine Christian cannot fall away from Christ, it is possible for a Christian to fall into error. A true believer may be deceived for a period of time and be led into some form of error. That is why it is necessary to be aware of these false teachings. It is the particular responsibility of elders to protect the congregation from error.

The apostle Paul stopped at Miletus in order to warn the elders of the Ephesian Church about false teachers. He told them that false teachers would actually arise from among them - from their own membership. The interesting fact is that many cult leaders have arisen from within the church itself. For example, Charles Taze Russell, who was the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, was originally a Presbyterian, and later he became a Congregationalist. He finally decided that there were too many problems in the various denominations and so he started his own cult. The founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, was a member in an orthodox Christian denomination, as was also Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. The apostle John warned of deceivers who seek to lead the saints astray. He wrote,

"Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the Antichrist." (2 John 7 )

The term "deceiver" means one who goes astray. The reference to these deceivers "having gone out into the world", appears to mean that they had originally been members of the church. The cults have been used by Satan to lead many away from the church. They are a great deception of the devil and once people get caught up in them they are very difficult to reach with the gospel.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 November 2010 16:20  

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