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What are the Characteristics of Cults?

Video from Bible Answer Man

What are the Characteristics of Cults?

"Hank Hanegraaff, the host of the 𝘉𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘈𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘔𝘢𝘯 broadcast and the 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘜𝘯𝘱𝘭𝘶𝘨𝘨𝘦𝘥 podcast, notes that common parlance the word cult connotes theological and/or sociological perversion. As such, cults run the gamut from theologically perverse Mormons to the sociologically deviant Heaven’s Gate cult, which ended with the largest mass suicide in US history (thirty-nine people) in 1997. Common cultic characteristics are easily remembered using the Hankronym C-U-L-T-S. COUNTERFEIT. You and I must be so familiar with essential Christian doctrine that when a counterfeit looms on the horizon, we recognize it instantaneously. UNBIBLICAL REVELATIONS. Another common cultic characteristic is unbiblical revelations. Mormonism is a classic case in point. In 1820, two celestial personages allegedly appeared to Mormon founder Joseph Smith revealing that all existing churches were wrong, all their creeds were an abomination, and all their professors were corrupt. Then they said that Smith had been chosen to restore a church that had disappeared from the face of the earth. Such new revelations are common to cults and undermine the main and plain teachings of Scripture. LINGUISTIC SUBVERSION. Cults are notorious for subverting biblical language by pouring their own unique meanings into key Christian words and phrases. Thus, we must prepare ourselves to scale the language barrier. Take the word Jesus, for example. Mormons render Jesus the spirit brother of Lucifer; Jehovah’s Witnesses, the archangel Michael; and New Agers, an avatar or enlightened messenger. THEOLOGICAL PERVERSION. From a theological perspective, cults are pseudo-Christian groups that compromise, confuse, or contradict the essentials of the historic Christian faith. Devotees become masters at taking texts out of context in order to develop pretexts for theological perversions. An apt example is Scientology. In place of resurrection they teach devotees the unbiblical notion of reincarnation. All too often such notions are buttressed by a distortion of the biblical text. For instance, John the Baptist is frequently hailed as a reincarnation of the biblical prophet Elijah despite the fact that John dismissed this absurdity with three short words. When asked by the Levites if he was indeed a reincarnation of Elijah, he replied, “I am not” (John 1:21). SOCIOLOGICAL DEVIANCE. From a sociological perspective, a cult is a religious or semi- religious sect whose followers are controlled in virtually every dimension of their lives. As such, devotees characteristically display displaced loyalty for the guru and the group and are galvanized together through physical and/or psychological intimidation tactics. Such cults display a “we/they” siege mentality and often cut off their devotees from former associations, including their immediate families. The Almighty God cult is a prime example of a socially deviant group that is diabolically dangerous and employs socially deviant behavior including sexual manipulation, kidnapping, and even murder. In sum, when imitations of authentic Christianity loom on the horizon, you can recognize them instantaneously by remembering the acronym C-U-L-T-S: counterfeit, unbiblical revelations, linguistic subversion, theological perversion, and socio- logical deviance. "I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!" (2 Corinthians 11:3–4 nkjv)." from video introduction

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