Apologetics Lecture 13 Cults Introduction

Cults

What is a cult?

Newer religions and cults that use the Bible are growing to an unprecedented degree. Christianity and Western culture is fading from the public scene and Jehovah’s Witnesses, the New Age, and Mormons are all devouring people. Like that blind men on the elephant, each religion professes to have the way of truth and the way to everlasting life.

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The estimates for the number of cults range from 700 to 3000. There are probably 40 million people involved in cults in one form or another in North America. There are over 5 million Jehovah’s Witnesses and over 9 million Mormons and 10 million people who hold to one new age religion or another worldwide.

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And of course all of these are in opposition to the truth. 1 billion Muslims over 1 billion Catholics and between four and 8 million Muslims in North America.

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So let’s learn some of the important characteristics of cults.

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Characteristics of Cults

While there is no universally agreed-upon definition, a non-Christian religion is basically a religion that does not hold to all of the fundamentals of the faith.

1. The Trinity: God is one essence in 3 persons, consisting of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

2. The Person of Jesus Christ: As the Son of God, Jesus is 100% God and 100% man forever.

3. The Second Coming: Jesus Christ is coming bodily to earth to rule and judge.

4. Salvation: Reception of eternal life is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

5. The Scripture: The 66 books of the Bible are entirely inerrant and sufficient for all Christian life.

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To be Christian, a religion must hold to each of these five fundamentals of the faith. Now, to be a cult, you could say that it must deny one, two, or four. Many cults would deny at least two of each of these five.

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Cult leaders will claim to have direct access to God and be able to give new revelation. And even after the cult is established, the successors will also receive these supposed “new revelations.” For example the Mormon president received a new revelation reversing their practice of racism when they would deny African-Americans from the priesthood. Jehovah’s Witnesses as well denied their followers from receiving vaccinations and organ transplants, but new revelation allowed them.

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And of course by nature of this practice, they must deny the sole authority of the Bible. We have the Book of Mormon, and Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science).

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Of course cult leaders as well will have a perverted view of who God is and that Jesus. Some Pentecostals, called “Oneness Pentecostals” deny the Trinity and hold to a form of modalism. They teach that Jesus is God and that the Father Son and Holy Spirit are simply names for Jesus.

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Cult leaders as well will deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses are among those that do, saying he was raised an invisible spirit creature. So all cults deny one or more of these basic doctrines found in Scripture.

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As well, many cults participate in legalism. For example, forbidding different foods or requiring distribution of literature as a work to receive salvation. Other cults will participate in some sexual perversion. Mormonism teaches polygamy, having more than one wife. And there are other lesser known cults that are practice this.

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Often cult leaders are deceptive. They will use doubletalk and lies in order to win converts. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, did this and it landed him in prison. They will also aggressively seek converts, but for the sake of gaining God’s approval. They do this, not because of their appreciation for what God has done for them, but out of the work in order to please God. And this is completely contrary to the spirit of Scripture as well as many explicit passages.

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So cults are growing, but why? There are many reasons, the most important reason for us is that Christian churches have failed to teach their people doctrine. Men in the pulpit are afraid of talking about theology or talking about what words like redemption and adoption and justification and propitiation means. And so people in the church fail to understand what the Bible teaches and either they or their children go off into these cults.

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So it’s really the fault of Christian people and leaders. We have failed to train other people to serve Christ as he would desire.

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Also, another reason that cults are growing is because there is an increase in relativism. These people say of course that this might be true for you but not for me you can have your religion all have mine. And so people view all religions as religions and it leads to an increase in the desire for different religions.

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There’s been an emphasis as well on going to the East and it seems so mystical to travel back to the East and all of these Eastern religions. So there’s an attraction to Eastern religion. There is also an attraction to emphasizing self. Some people might say that they have their own religion and they practice this or that. We can talk about how society is stressing our feelings and we could emphasize the social breakdown of the family and the influence that has had on people joining cults.

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So let’s talk about these cults and how to address them biblically.

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