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 area

2.     A question or issue arises that requires an answer

3.     An incomplete answer or a false doctrine is developed.

4.     The false doctrine(s) influences other areas of a belief system.

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 system spreads.

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.


Word Definitions:

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 longer-established communion.

            Pharisees and Sadducees were called sects though they did not break away from Judaism.

            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:

            Eastern Orthodoxy                  Roman Catholicism                 Protestantism


  1. An abrupt break with historic Christianity and with its confessions.
    1. The cult believes that the entire Christian church has become apostate
    2. God has given the members of the cult new light on preserving truth.
    3. 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.
    4. They think they now are God’s only true group.
    5. Note: Christians groups break off with a main line church to start a new “pure” group frequently.


  1. A tendency to major in the minors.
    1. Cults tend to take certain peripheral “truths” and elevate them to a prominence far greater than they deserve. Important doctrine are played down.
    2. The theology of the cult becomes somewhat lopsided.
    3. Note: Groups within Protestantism are constantly forming groups around minor points

                                                     i.     Protestants in reformation reacted so strongly against Rome that many became one sided.

                                                      ii.     Nazarene Churches raise “entire sanctification” very high because the Methodist church had neglected it.


  1. A tendency to perfectionism.
    1. Cults have a feeling of superior holiness to those in other groups. This is particularly true when they compare themselves to established churches.
    2. Cults say the church is filled with hypocrites and nominal Christians.
    3. Cults claim to be a group of dedicated saints who sacrificially do God’s will.
    4. Note: Churches often have the same views.


(The following Character Traits are not normally found in churches.)


4.     An Extra-Scriptural Source of Authority

    1. The cults face a kind of dilemma with respect to the question of authority.

                                                     i.     To maintain the “Christian” link the cult must claim the Bible, but

                                                      ii.     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 teachings.      

    1. The cults find their ultimate ground of authority in some extra-Scriptural source.
    2. Thus, the scriptures are forced to bend to bow to this cults man made authority.
    3. 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.


  1. The Denial of Justification by Grace Alone.
    1. Grace is no longer considered the free gift of God, but a reward which has been earned by faithfully keeping various conditions and requirements.
    2. 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.
    3. 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)


  1. The Devaluation of Christ
    1. 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.
    2. They will not completely deny Christ’s mission and work but simply shift its emphasis.
    3. This is done in two directions:

                                                     i.     Devaluation of the Person of Christ

                                                      ii.     Depreciation of His work.

    1. Since grace is not recognized the cross is robbed of its unique soteriological significance.
  1. The cultic group is the exclusive community of the saved.
    1. The two sides of the cultic coin are:

                                                     i.     Anti-church

                                                      ii.     They possess the exclusive means of salvation

    1. The cult must show that the church is ether an apostate organization or an actual instrument of the devil.
    2. There is no recognition of the universal body of Christ composed of believers from all groups, nations and time through out the church age.
    3. 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)
  1. The Group’s Central Role in Eschatology
    1. The cult feels it plays a central role in the eschatological climax of history.
    2. 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.
    3. The birth of the cult thus marks the final climax of sacred history, the beginning of the last days.
    4. Eschatology plays a determinative role in the theology of the cult.
    5. The cult is God’s partner in the drama of the end-times.
    6. In the development of the cults eschatology they place themselves in the very center of it.
    7. 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.