Christian Destiny Christian Destiny
The Marks of a Cult

by Dr. Dave Breese

9. Segmented Biblical Attention

This is the dangerous practice of paying attention to one verse or a passage of the Bible to the exclusion of others.

The Bible declares about itself that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). It is therefore of great importance that the doctrine by which a Christian orients his faith and his life come from “all scripture.” He holds that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is vital in its entirety to his understanding of the faith. He remembers also that revelation is progressive and God presented truth in a cumulative fashion, moving from the basic theistic concepts of the Old Testament to the final revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ. Christ brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:10) and His doctrine was explained to us by His apostles who wrote the explanatory letters of the New Testament. The proper interpretation therefore of the Bible must be based on text, context, and greater context. The biblical interpreter must ask, “What does this verse mean? In what setting is it given to us? How does it relate to the whole Bible?”

It is always a danger to interpret any one verse in the Bible without reference to the whole. One group denies the immortality of the soul because of the statement about death in Ecclesiastes 9:5. They ignore the fact that the final light on the subject of immortality was given to us by Jesus Christ. Paul explains that “to be absent from the body” is “to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8). The Way, a cultic fringe of the Jesus movement denies the existence of the Trinity because of an undue emphasis on the personality of Jesus. It is a grave temptation for any group to find a verse in the Bible about holiness, the kingdom, law, grace, works, faith, or anything and use it for a substitute for the whole counsel of God. Even zealous Christians have frequently fallen into the trap of segmented biblical interpretation, thereby creating a cultic influence in their system of doctrine.


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