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Home Cults Characteristics of the Cults within group A

Characteristics of the Cults within group A

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Cults By Rev. Paul Seiler

Characteristics of the Cults within group A


2.1 THEY ADD TO THE WORD OF GOD.

One of the principal characteristics of the cults within Group A is that they add to God's word. They are not content to accept the Bible as God's complete and final word, entirely sufficient for every Christian. These cults characteristically add their own peculiar teachings to those of the Bible, and these teachings invariably conflict with the teaching of the Bible. The apostle John has something to say concerning such people:

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 9 ).

Most of these cults claim to hold to the teachings of the Bible and even pay lip service to the doctrine of inspiration. However, most of them are not happy with only the Bible, they invariably add to it in one way or another. They usually claim to have extra revelation from God beyond the Bible. When you get to the root of these cults you find that they really do not regard the Bible as God's authoritative word. Their real trust is in the various books and pamphlets, which they produce. The Mormons are a classic example of this, for according to them, the teachings of Joseph Smith were divinely inspired. They believe Joseph Smith received divine revelation in exactly the same way that the writers of the Bible did. According to them, God gave Joseph Smith further revelation. Mormons teach that Joseph Smith was visited by angels, who told him where to find certain golden plates, which had divine revelation written upon them. He was also given a pair of glasses in order to read these plates and translate them into English. So according to the Mormons The Book of Mormon was the result of this divine revelation. They hold that the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price are equal in authority to the Bible. According to the Mormons, the Bible is not enough, it must be supplemented by their own authoritative revelations. The Jehovah's Witnesses assert their commitment to the authority of the Bible, but in practice their authority is the Watchtower organisation. Indeed, the Jehovah's Witnesses have actually changed the Scriptures to fit in with their theology. They have produced a version of the Bible, which they have changed to fit in with their heretical views. This version is called the: The New World Translation, but it could hardly be called a translation. It is a perversion of the truth, twisted to make it conform to the teachings of Charles Taze Russell and Judge Rutherford.

2.2 THESE CULTS USE BIBLICAL WORDS INCORRECTLY.

One of the common characteristics of these cults is their practice of changing the meaning of Biblical terms. The cultist often causes confusion and surprise to the Christian by quoting Scripture and using language that has the appearance of being orthodox. The author recalls speaking with a Mormon and saying to him "As I understand, Mormons do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God". To the author's surprise, the Mormn absolutely denied this charge and said that Mormons do believe that Jesus is God's Son. The problem that the author encountered was a language problem. What the Mormon means by the phrase "The Son of God" is very different from what an orthodox Christian would mean by the same phrase. When a Mormon says that Jesus is God's Son, he means that Jesus Christ is literally God's spirit-son. Mormons believe that God has a wife in heaven and produces spirit children by His wife. They believe that Jesus was the first spirit-child to be born of God and His wife. In fact according to their teaching Jesus is our older brother and also brother of Satan. If the Christian is unaware of the teachings of the cults then he can be easily confused in speaking with them. Most cults have utilised the terminology of Christianity and have changed the meaning of Christian terms to suit their own ends. They borrow the language of the Bible, but almost always use it out of context. For this reason some Christians, who are not well grounded, have actually been led astray by them.

Whenever you encounter a member of a cult you should do all that you can to be clear about the meaning of the words. You need to get the cultist to explain what he or she means by the terms used. As an example of this principle we shall consider two imaginary people called Charlie and Malcolm. Charlie is a Christian and Malcolm is a Mormon. Charlie says to Malcolm, "Malcolm do you believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son"? Malcolm replies "Yes I do". Now, Charlie knows that Malcolm is not using the phrase "God's Son" in a Biblical way, so he wants to correct this error. So he asks Malcolm another more direct question "Do you believe that Jesus Christ has always existed and that there never was a time that He did not exist?" Malcolm would answer "No". This gives Charlie the opportunity to give the Biblical proof of Christ's eternal nature, and then to go on to prove that Malcolm is in error about the person of Christ. If you are going to effectively communicate with the cultist you must be thoroughly acquainted with his deceptive use of words. You must do all that you can to push for biblical meanings to biblical words.

2.3 THE DOCTRINES OF THESE CULTS CHANGE OVER TIME.

One of the characteristics of the cults is the way in which their doctrines change over a period of time. The cults have a marvellous ability to adapt themselves to new situations and arguments. Sometimes they simply change according to the whims of their leaders. For example, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science cult, republished her book, Science and Health With the Key to the Scriptures almost every year for over 20 years after the initial 1875 publication. These annual updates were found to be necessary in order to clean up the many glaring contradictions and preposterous doctrines that she had first written in her book.

The Mormons have also made some interesting changes to their doctrines over a period of time. One such change was due to pressure brought to bear on them by the U.S Government in respect to their practice of polygamy. In their earlier doctrinal statements, polygamy was greatly encouraged, but when the government threatened to outlaw the Mormons on account of this practice, they did a quick about turn on this issue. Now polygamy is clearly forbidden by the Mormons.

The Jehovah's Witnesses are not without their changes either. For many years they predicted that the world would end in 1975. Over many years their publications have suggested that Armageddon would take place in that year. Many Jehovah's Witnesses believed that 1975 would see the end of the world. However, when 1975 had ended and it was apparent to all that nothing had happened, the authorities started to play down their earlier predictions. Not, however, without many Jehovah's Witnesses leaving the cult.

2.4 DEFECTIVE CHRISTOLOGY.

Among the most common feature of these cults is a defective view of Christ. Defective views of Christ are not new, they go back to the early days of the church. One of the apostle Paul's principal reasons for writing his letter to the Colossian Church was to combat an heretical view of Christ that was being taught there. During the second century the church had to battle against the heresy of Gnosticism, which denied the true humanity of Christ. In the fourth century the church battled against the Arian heresy which denied the true deity of Christ. Most modern day cults follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. For example, the Jehovah's Witnesses are simply a modern version of the Arian cult. Like the Arians of the fourth century, the Jehovah's Witnesses deny that the Son is co-eternal with the Father. Like the Arians, the Jehovah's Witnesses regard the Son as being created by the Father. Christian Science is another cult which has a defective view of Jesus Christ. They do not believe in the existence of matter - to them the material world is an illusion. So according to their teaching Jesus Christ did not have a real body. In this they repeat the same heresy of the Gnostics, who denied the real humanity of Christ. The Mormons also have a very defective view of Christ in that, they regard Jesus Christ the first-born among the spirit children of God. They do not believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Rather they regard Him as the offspring of a mortal mother and an immortal father.

2.5 FALSE CHRIST'S AND FALSE PROPHETS.

Many cult leaders make exalted claims of themselves. Some set themselves up as prophets, and others claim to be Christ. For example, in 1954, Sun Myung Moon founded the cult, "The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity." The millions of followers of this cult believe that Moon and his second wife are the new Adam and Eve. They regard themselves as the first children of a new and perfect world. In like manner, Charles Taze Russell and Judge Rutherford, founders of the Jehovah's Witnesses, presented themselves to their followers as "God's chosen vessels." They also taught that the Watchtower organisation was the final dispenser of truth. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, claimed that John the Baptist had given to him the priesthood of Aaron; and later he claimed that priesthood of Melchizedek had been conferred on him by the apostles Peter, James and John. Ron Hubbard, of Scientology, presented himself as a higher authority than Jesus Christ; and Meher Baba of the Bahai cult has said, "There is no doubt of my being God personified, I am Christ."

2.6 ENSLAVING ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES.

Among the features of these cults is the questionable way that they bring their people into their organisations. Many cults seek to control their followers by brain washing techniques and psychological manipulation. The cult leaders know that their success depends upon their ability to exercise complete control over people and so have developed sophisticated ways of doing this. Many of the cults have enslaving organisations that require total commitment from their members. Cult leaders are usually super organisers. They endeavour to enslave their members to their organisation. Members in such cults are reduced to a state wherein they are incapable of thinking of anything other than their involvement with the cult and its human leader. For example, David Brant Berg, the leader of "The Children of God" demanded the complete submission to his teaching. Any member who did not accept his teaching was punished, shamed or even excommunicated.

Una McManus and John Cooper, in their book: Dealing with Destructive Cults, relate an incident that well demonstrates the frightening form of control. They tell of a young woman, a member of "The Children of God" cult, who was found by a Christian, bitterly crying. When questioned as to why she was so upset, she explained that she had a severe case of venereal disease. She had been told by the cult leader that it was due to her lack of faith. In fact, it was due to the perverse teaching of the cult which taught that sexual intercourse is a legitimate way of making converts. The cult leader told her that she should not see a doctor. When the disease became worse she phoned her mother, who insisted that she should see a doctor. When the cult leader found out, he accused her of spiritual weakness for seeking outside help. Fortunately, the young girl came to her senses and left the cult.1 As stated earlier, the disturbing features of these cults is their desire to gain absolute control over their members. They will do all that they can to beat their members into submission. They will use every psychological trick in the book to retain control over their members. People who get caught up in these cults and then break away, find that they have to go through a long healing process. This tyrannical rule is a clear indication of the Satanic nature of these cults. However, it should be recognised that not every cult is the same, and some cults do not exhibit this characteristic in the same degree as others.

2.7 CLOSE-MINDEDNESS.

Among the more prominent psychological traits existing among these cults is close-mindedness. No matter how convincing your arguments may appear to you, they will probably prove to be very unconvincing to the cultist. The cultist is thoroughly committed to the authority pattern of his organisation. He finds security in being told what to believe. If you threaten his belief, you threaten his security. These cults are fiercely antagonistic toward Christianity. Thus, if the cultists finds out that you are a Christian, he will probably feel an immediate antagonism toward you. If you are going to witness to people caught up in the cults then you must show them that you genuinely care about them.

1. Una McNanus and John Cooper Dealing with the Destructive Cults Zondervan Publishing House Grand Rapids Michigan, 1984, p.40

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 11:24  

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