How to tell if you are in cult #5 teaching by personal example is lost, biblical phraseology is lost to unique terms of the cult, authority is in people and organizations instead of the Bible. This is a study of some simple elements that are very common in cults, false religions, even bad political groups.
- 1 O. When leadership and public ministry have individuals that are not exemplary in their own lives, or their personal lives are hidden away from public examination.
- 2 P. When the doctrines and practices of the group are described and outlined using non-biblical concepts, structures, and definitions. Biblical words are typically redefined.
- 3 Q. When the absolute authority of the individual and the group moves from the Bible to anything else. When the practice of administrating, ministering, counseling, serving, etc. is not defined and constricted by scriptural principles at every turn.
One of the most obvious clues are when those in leadership and public ministry do not have their own lives in order. Divorces happen and people’s kids go wandering from God. None of that is new or out of the ordinary. But financially, morally, and otherwise, the leaders should be examples of the doctrine that they are preaching.
The first and most obvious mark that you are in a cult is when the membership is called upon to live a frugal and sacrificial life of donating to the group, and the leaders live the exact opposite lifestyle. When they live in palaces, have many vehicles, planes, and other luxury items, especially when they don’t have the common sense to even hide those things from public view, you are in a cult for sure.
A leader of the group, especially the top most leader should not be living better off than the richest of his members. And that is barring that they are not millionaires or something. If that is the case, he should be living at a level much below them.
Notice that cults use emotionalism to get what they want out of their people. A church may support a missionary that has an orphanage. Showing pictures of starving kids somewhere in the world, and asking the members to give up 2 or 3 meals a week to help them eat, is a great emotion pull. It gets money in the coffers. But look at the lavish meals of the pastor! When he spends 3x or 4x or even 10x more than what the membership would spend on a meal, how come he doesn’t buy a BigMac and send the rest of that money to the kids? You see a great disparity between what the members are called to sacrifice and what little sacrifice the leaders do in actuality. Usually when their hand is called, they make some “great sacrifice” but it is paraded before all. Jesus said let your alms be done in secret. But people know with time what is going on.
P. When the doctrines and practices of the group are described and outlined using non-biblical concepts, structures, and definitions. Biblical words are typically redefined.
This is always a problem with cults. They need to redefine, reorganize, and change in some major way what the Bible presents. For the Pentecostals, we do not have “churches” but small cell groups. Then these are presided over by “group leaders” which are women. When we complain that women should not be teaching men in the church, 1) that is for “pastors” and these are not pastors “technically speaking.” 2) This is not the church but cell groups or small group meetings. See how the intent of Scripture that women are not to exercise authority over men is bypassed. This is extremely common in cults.
Joseph Smith was a whoremonger. He had many wives because he was a sex maniac. This is so obvious from a study of his life. But when men in his group complained what Smith was doing with their wives (and because the US law was that polygamy is illegal), Smith changed his terminology. He had “a spiritual bond” and “a spiritual marriage” with them. Funny, if it was spiritual and not just simple adultery, why did these woman get pregnant from that relationship? The end effect is the same. They disobey Scripture, but they use redefinition to try to pull the wool over their people’s eyes.
Let me be specific and clear here. The Bible is our authority. Moreover, the Bible is limited by the rules of normal speech everybody everywhere in the world use. A glass of milk is not a hamburger no matter how you twist things. The rules of what is obvious in the meaning has to be our first interpretation of anything in the Bible. When something is used otherwise, there are verbal clues, “like” or “as” or other clues that would indicate not anything else that some crazy says, but there is a line along which the correct meaning is found.
The Bible says that in the future, the moon will be turned into blood. Literally, that is not what the Scripture is teaching. There are no humans on the moon, nor would there be enough to turn it into real blood. But blood is most notably red, and there are “blood moons,” moons that are shining thorough the lower atmosphere that has dust and it appears red. This is what it is talking about, a moon that represents something in prophecy, and the physical moon is as red as blood. The event is happening today, but God assigned that likeness (red) to an event. These normal rules of interpretation must be allowed to define things for us, not weirdos and crazies with logic that nobody can follow.
Marks of a Cult
- Cults: What is salvation? How does it change you?
- FP: False prophets worship other gods
- FP: Using Scripture or Following Scripture?
- FP: Unshackled from God’s Will
- Cults: Double Standards and Hypocrisy