I’ve heard there are 3,000 times more cults in the world today. I do not know who calculated those stats, but it’s safe to say there’s a lot more cults now than ever before.
So, what are some signs of a cult? First of all, cults almost always distort the Gospel to deny the Deity of Christ. They do this because the leader is putting himself or herself in the place of God. The theology of a cult is usually works based and will deny the trinity, and salvation based on grace. A cult usually has an arrogant charismatic leader. Although these are extreme examples, think about Jim Jones or Charles Manson.
And there is always manipulation…
For instance, Scientology leaders do some sort of personality profile on new congregants. However, it is not done to help you grow, it is done so leaders can manipulate you and keep you in bondage to their teaching.
Keep in mind that the goal of a cult leader is to harm you not help you.
Do not EVER feel bad about walking away from someone who does not have your best interest at heart. In a healthy church they may do a personality profile or a test to determine your spiritual gifts. This is aimed at helping you grow and serve. Typically it is only done if you are interested in working or serving there and often times even then it is voluntary. A cult leader wants to find out about you so they can control you and have power over you.
In a cult there is usually negative consequences for leaving.
I heard some people were actually shot trying to leave Jonestown. Others who left Scientology were harassed with picketers outside their homes holding signs berating them. At the very least, you will often be ostracized or cut off from family and friends for your choice to leave.
As you might imagine, cults usually have lots of ridiculous rules about how you can dress or what you can eat. There is always a list of things women can’t wear or do! Often you will be told to cut off contact from friends and family. Cult leaders know you are easier to control if you are isolated from healthy people.
The Bible talks about false teaching constantly. In fact, the directive to know the Word of God and beware of false teaching is mentioned over and over again in the New Testament. Jesus never ever manipulated people. He always wanted what was best for people and there was always freedom to follow Him or not. Cult leaders usually pull a few concept from the Bible and twist them to create their own religion, or distort God’s Word to fit their own belief. This makes them God!
This ancient behavior is just Satan masquerading as a human being saying: “I want to be like God.”
If you want to dig deeper into this subject click here to listen to my latest podcast “Escaping a Cult-Christian Science, False Teaching and more.” I’m joined by author Lauren Hunter as we talk about cults and false teaching in the church. She will share how she escaped Christian Science; and tell of the long term emotional and psychological impact of being raised in a cult. Learn what Christian Science teaches and how it deviates from Christianity. Listen as I try to explain to HER what Christian Science is…poorly! We will also discuss the mental, spiritual, and psychological impact of invalidation. By this I mean the result of having our physical and emotional needs ignored or invalidated.
God bless you and thanks for reading.