The Marks of a Cult
by Dr. Dave Breese
One of the interesting and dangerous developments of our day is the rise of aberrant religions. The promoters of old and new religious cults are active and growing as never before. The result is that millions of naive Christians and untutored seekers after truth are being subverted into fascinating religions that are nothing but false and Satanic cults.
One tragic aspect of this development has been the attraction of the cults to new, immature Christians. In our time, many people have been converted to Christianity through the mighty resurgence of religious interest that is going today. Widely successful programs of evangelism have brought hundreds of thousands of children, teenagers, college students and adults to the place of making some kind of a decision or a commitment to Christ. We may rejoice in the marvelous reports of successful mass evangelism and individual soul winning across the world. One of the happy developments of our time has been the resurgence of Christian activity in evangelism.
At the point of our decision for Christ, we are justified by faith and consequently born into the family of God. The Christian is called a newborn babe and he is admonished in scripture to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). The Bible clearly points up the need for spiritual growth on the part of the sinner who has turned to Christ for salvation. The reason is clear, the newborn Christian is a spiritual baby and very vulnerable to the childhood diseases that stalk the convert in the nursery years of his Christian life.
One segment of these childhood diseases is the cult. A cult is a religious belief and practice calling for devotion to a segmented religious view centered in false doctrine. It is an organized heresy. The cults are expanding today. What is the reason for their late growth?
The cults that are now thriving in the western world are feeding on the pathetic spiritual naivety of people who have become interested in Christianity or who have even been converted to Christ through Christian evangelism. The victims of the cults are not hardened atheists who cannot be converted to anything, rather they are gullible people who are willing to believe anything that is spoken with a straight face in the name of God, Christ or the Spirit. The spiritual emergency of our time is the pressing need on the part of millions of new and naive Christians to learn the doctrinal basis of the Christian faith from a study of the Word of God. New Christians need Bible teaching! The scholarly teacher of New Testament doctrine is today the man whom the Church cannot do without.
Sincere but sentimental Christians who are ignorant of biblical doctrine are sitting ducks for the clever cultist who is pushing for a piece of the action in today’s religious scene. Many in the church today should hear again the burning words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians, “I am marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6,7).
The cultists had arrived in the province of Galatia and the Apostle Paul quickly moved to refute them in the strongest language. The cultists are on the move once again. What are the characteristics by which we may recognize the message of those who preach another gospel? The sub-Christian views which are being pushed today are many. They are a deadly poison that ruins the message of the Gospel of Christ. Some of the most obvious cultic views are worth noting. A knowledge of these may give us a warning which we do well to heed. The popular cults that are moving through our society today all believe one or more of the following pernicious points of view. They are anti-Christian and condemned in the strongest language of Scripture.
1. Extra-Biblical Revelation
2. Salvation by works
3. Uncertain Hope
4. Presumptuous Messianic Leadership
6. Denunciation of Others
8. Defective Christology
9. Segmented Biblical Attention
10. Entangling Organizational Structure
11. Financial Exploitation
This 1981 booklet is an early version of what later became the full-length book, The Marks of a Cult: The Warning Signs of False Teachings, published by Harvest House.
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The Marks of a Cult