The religious landscape in America is a virtual source of confusion and misunderstanding. A cult is a religious group that uses the Bible, while at the same time distorting the “truths” of the Bible to fit their own anti-Christian theology. That is to say, they often look and talk like Christian Orthodoxy, but do not believe what orthodox Christians believe about the Bible or Historical Biblical Christianity. We begin this series with some general understandings about God, cults, and Christian Orthodoxy.
In USA Today, Thursday, October 2010 by Cathy Lynn Grossman, is a study about “How America Sees God.” Research was done by Baylor University sociologists. They identified 4 traits people believe about God:
• 28% see God as Authoritative-God judges human response to God
• 24% see God as Distant-God set forces in motion then “backed off”
• 22% see God as Benevolent-God does not judge humans
• 21% see God as Critical-God judges humans, but does not intervene
A person’s worldview determines how that particular person sees God. A Christian worldview sees God as the creator of the cosmos, truth, and all that is good. An atheist worldview sees life as an accident that could have come into existence in any number of ways. In between these two are the many different worldviews. One’s worldview also dictates their politics and behavior in all areas of life.
Now we examine what is a cult. A cult is not just a religion. The major religions of the world are not cults. From a Christian perspective a cult has distinctive characteristics. A cult will always look Christian, but deviates greatly in what Christian Orthodoxy teaches. Leadership in a cult is managed as a dictatorship and the leader claims some direct revelation from God to account for those beliefs. A cult always claims they have a new or unique understanding from God. Now, many organizations mirror these traits, but cults take them to the extreme.
Dr. Rich McGee says about cult’s techniques, “These techniques included efforts to undermine physical resistance, removal of all social and emotional supports, mortification exercises, and intensive indoctrination procedures. Moreover, the results are sometimes similar to brainwashing in that converts experience altered personalities, altered world views, and partial or complete loss of the ability to think clearly and abstractly.” McGee also says, “The greatest command in the Bible, according to Jesus Christ and the Jewish rabbis, is to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength. Don’t surrender your mind or soul to the undue control of a cult group. You have a choice; God created you with the ability to be responsible for your own actions and destiny.”
Finally, from a Christian Orthodox position, you are encouraged to find a Christian Orthodox Church to help (not coerce) you learn more about God and self, so that you can be assured of the hope you have in eternal life, here and beyond. Cults we will examine are Mormons; Scientologists, etc. in the next three weeks.