Cults and False Doctrines
Cults grow wherever the church is negligent.
Cults and false doctrine are like weeds in the garden of Christianity.
If the garden is tended to properly the weeds will
always start, but are identified and removed.
The church can be negligent in these
areas that produce cults:
1. A geographical area
2. A social group
3. A doctrinal area
4. A lifestyle application area
Cults then develop through a process
of growth like a weed:
1. There is negligence and lack of understanding in an
2. A question or issue arises that requires an answer
3. An incomplete answer or a false doctrine is
4. The false doctrine(s) influences other areas of a
5. The belief system goes off center and a false belief
system is developed.
6. If there exist a community
that suffers from similar negligence and lack of understanding the belief
7. A community develops that embraces the false belief
system and encourages members who are likeminded. A cult has developed. The
weed has gone to seed.
Sect – from the Latin sequi
which means “to follow.”
Describes any dissenting or
schismatic religious body, which may or may not have parted
company with a
Pharisees and Sadducees were called sects though they did not break away from
Christianity itself has been called a sect of Judaism.
Protestant churches could be called sects of the Roman Catholic Church.
Christian Reformed Church is a sect of the Reformed Church.
Cult – A
religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious.
A minority religious group holding beliefs regarded as unorthodox or spurious.
General Characteristics of a Cult
All three major divisions of Christendom have
branched off into cults:
- An abrupt break with historic Christianity and with its
- The cult believes that the entire Christian
church has become apostate
- God has given the members of the cult new light
on preserving truth.
- Church history is an easy subject for a cult:
Nothing of significance has happened from the time of Christ until the
founding of the cult.
- They think they now are God’s only true group.
- Note: Christians
groups break off with a main line church to start a new “pure” group
- A tendency to major in the minors.
- Cults tend to take certain peripheral “truths”
and elevate them to a prominence far greater than they deserve. Important
doctrine are played down.
- The theology of the cult becomes somewhat
- Note: Groups within Protestantism are
constantly forming groups around minor points
Protestants in reformation
reacted so strongly against Rome
that many became one sided.
Nazarene Churches raise “entire
sanctification” very high because the Methodist church had neglected it.
- A tendency to perfectionism.
- Cults have a feeling of superior holiness to
those in other groups. This is particularly true when they compare
themselves to established churches.
- Cults say the church is filled with hypocrites
and nominal Christians.
- Cults claim to be a group of dedicated saints
who sacrificially do God’s will.
- Note: Churches often have the same views.
(The following Character Traits are
not normally found in churches.)
- The cults face a kind of dilemma with respect
to the question of authority.
To maintain the “Christian” link
the cult must claim the Bible, but
To justify their peculiar
doctrines they must:
1. correct Scripture,
2. reinterpret Scripture,
3. add other sources of authority to Scripture
iii. They have an apparent subjection to scriptural
authority while using an arbitrary manipulation of its
- The cults find their ultimate ground of
authority in some extra-Scriptural source.
- Thus, the scriptures are forced to bend to bow
to this cults man made authority.
- Note: Churches tend to do this to the writings
and teachings of men. This happened in Corinth (1 Cor.
1-3). Paul said not to hold allegence to a man,
for these men were servants of God sent to serve the people.
- The Denial of Justification by Grace Alone.
- Grace is no longer considered the free gift of
God, but a reward which has been earned by faithfully keeping various
conditions and requirements.
- Orthodox Christianity considers all to be the
work of the Spirit by God’s grace – the believers
faith, his conversion, his works, his walk. None are meritorious, but
fruits of God’s grace.
- A cult may speak of “grace,” but their theology
will make no room for it.
(“If by grace, then it is no
longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
Romans 11:6; also, Gal. 5:4; Titus 3:5)
- The Devaluation of Christ
- The tendency of a cult is to assume for itself
a determinative role in the distribution of salvation. The result is
bound to be a minimizing of Christ as the only Mediator.
- They will not completely deny Christ’s mission
and work but simply shift its emphasis.
- This is done in two directions:
Devaluation of the Person of
Depreciation of His work.
- Since grace is not recognized the cross is
robbed of its unique soteriological
- The cultic group is the exclusive community of the saved.
- The two sides of the cultic coin are:
They possess the exclusive means
- The cult must show that the church is ether an
apostate organization or an actual instrument of the devil.
- There is no recognition of the universal body
of Christ composed of believers from all groups, nations and time through
out the church age.
- The disciples said to Jesus, “Master, we saw a
man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he
is not one of us.” Jesus replied, “Do not stop him for whoever is not
against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50)
- The Group’s Central Role in Eschatology
- The cult feels it plays a central role in the
eschatological climax of history.
- The cult is convinced that it has been called
into existence by God for the purpose of filling in some gap in the truth
which has been neglected by the ordinary churches.
- The birth of the cult thus marks the final
climax of sacred history, the beginning of the last days.
- Eschatology plays a determinative role in the
theology of the cult.
- The cult is God’s partner in the drama of the
- In the development of the cults
eschatology they place themselves in the very center of it.
- In the end times drama God glorifies the cult,
its enemies are overwhelmingly defeated. The small insignificant cult
receives honor and rewards for its faithfulness.