Christian Destiny Christian Destiny
The Marks of a Cult

by Dr. Dave Breese

7. Claim of “Special Discoveries”

It would be impossible to have a cult without mysterious, otherwise unavailable inside information. In one way or another, each of them traffic in this.

The fundamental characteristic of the faith of Christ is that it is historical Christianity. Talking of all of the events that centered around the life, work, death and resurrection of Christ, the Scripture says, “This thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). Luke declares that Christ showed Himself to be alive after His passion “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). There were hundreds and in some cases thousands of witnesses to the open in public facts of the Gospel. The Bible commits itself to literally thousands of dates, places, people, cities, lakes, streams, mountains, and historical events. Often those to whom the Gospel was preached were reminded that they knew the truth of these things (Acts 26:25,26). The witnesses to the facts of the Gospel were declared as being alive and responsible to testify of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:6). Nothing is more obvious in the writings of the Old and New Testaments than the fact of the public revelation and working of God in the presence of proofs and competent witnesses. The truth of Christianity does not depend on private knowledge and secret, unconfirmable relationships on the part of individuals.

The contrast of the cults is most apparent. The almost universal base of cult religion is the claimed revelation that one person received. These persons claimed divine authority for a private religious event. They saw a vision of a woman on a mountain, they heard a voice in a prayer tower, an angel came to them with some golden tablets and giant spectacles. The preposterous stories are endless that susceptible people are asked to believe as the basis for the truth of a cult. Why is it that we are to disbelieve and reject such stories? The answer is that they do not conform to the biblical rules of evidence. They may have been a hallucination, outright lies or even the result of indigestion or a sleepless night. We cannot know for we are without evidence.

The rules of evidence are clearly stated in Scripture, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). A person’s private word on any subject whatsoever is not to be taken as objective fact. In the Bible, there were four writers who are used of God to write the Gospels, the historic account of the events centering around the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The doings of the apostles of Christ were not private seances in which personal and unproven facts were recited as the substantive base of the Christian religion. Jesus Christ, the author of Christianity, and His apostles did not walk in mystery and darkness. Rather, they appealed for the truth of their faith on the basis of publicly acknowledged facts that simply could not be discounted.

The imaginative historical inventiveness of cult practitioners, by contrast, is almost endless. We are asked to believe that God spoke to them in some private manner with information that is supposed to up-date the teaching of Holy Scripture, thereby denying its finality. The Mormons have invented out of thin air and entire American civilization for which there is no evidence whatsoever. The Gnostics, out of philosophical speculation, created a hierarchy of angels that represented a series of steps to God. Visions, dreams, voices and mysterious sounds of all sorts may be interesting, but they must not be used as proving something about God. When so used, these reports have served to spiritually subvert millions, endangering the faith and the sanity of many.

The message of the Word of God, however, depends on no such poppycock. The coming of Christianity was not a private affair, but rather was announced by a sky full of angels, a star visible to all, a sinless life lived in the presence of thousands, and a public, sacrificial death, a public resurrection attested to by more than five hundred living witnesses, represented in a composite of sacred Scriptures which cannot be broken.


1. Extra-Biblical Revelation — False doctrine from outside the Bible

2. Salvation by works — Denial of salvation by faith alone

3. Uncertain Hope — Cultistis are never sure of heaven

4. Presumptuous Messianic Leadership — Arrogant religious rulers command others

5. Doctrinal ambiguity

6. Denunciation of Others — All others are infidels, reprobates

7. Claim of “Special Discoveries”

8. Defective Christology — Denial of the Deity or humanity of Christ

9. Segmented Biblical Attention — Ignoring the whole counsel of God

10. Entangling Organizational Structure — Membership equals salvation

11. Financial Exploitation — Money is the object


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