Continuing to look at characteristics of cults

More characteristics of a cult (from Why We Left A Cult — Baker Books): 8.  A claim to exclusive revelation and guidance from God. 9.  A proclivity toward prophetic predictions, most of which do not happen when or how the group predicted. 10. Use of biblical terms with “new” meanings, derived neither from context, original language sources, nor historical usage. 11.  A flexible theology that changes according to changes in culture and/or circumstances. (to be continued.  For previous list items, scroll down.)

On the completing of a book….

I read in Spurgeon today:  In deepest sorrow through conscious failure, or in trials and difficulties through faithfulness to his name, we can ever plead with God what Christ is. God is ever well pleased with him””ever occupied with him as risen from the dead and exalted to his own right hand in heaven; and he would have us also to be occupied with him as the heart’s exclusive object. True faith can only rest on God’s estimate of Christ, not on inward thoughts and feelings. That which may be called the faith of the formalist, rests on the ability of his own mind to judge of these matters. He trusts in himself. This is the essential difference between faith in appearance and faith in reality. — Things New and Old. I had a rush of insight...

More Cult Characteristics

This continues our look at cults. In a previous post (scroll down for that blog entry) we saw the first four — and essential — characteristics that define a cult. These two additional characteristics complete the list of those “markers” that all pseudo-Christian cults have in common: 5. Elevation of a person to godhood, either by that person’s own earning of that status, or by the “becoming one with” God. (This is a variant of the aberrant view of God: see previous characteristic # 1.) 6. Devaluation of the Bible: either by claiming that it must be translated or interpreted only by the group, or by the ranking of the Bible below other writings of the group. 7. The last essential marker of a cult is its claim to administer...

Cult definitions

Why is it so important to solidly and specifically define a cult? If you asked the average American, he or she would define a cult as 1) a religious group that has more “extreme” religious beliefs and practices than he or she would have and 2) they are “tight-knit” and “keep to themselves.” Guess what — that’s a good definition of early Christianity as it would have been voiced by observers in the first centuries!  It is a very subjective defintion — of what makes us religiously uncomfortable. That’s why Christians need a good working definition of a cult!

What’s A Cult?

You’ve probably seen the news about a previously-unknown cult in northern New Mexico, led by a man who claims to be the Messiah.  He was recently jailed on sex charges related to his practice of lying in bed with young girls who are virgins.  This man was also profiled last week on the National Geographic television network in a program about an inside look at a cult. In a previous post in the section “Why I Won’t Return to Mormonism,” I began a discussion of the characteristics of cults with this definition (from my book, Why We Left A Cult (Baker Books): In the sense that most Christian writers would use it, that of a pseudo-Christian cult, it would have the following characteristics: Such a group would humanize God, deify man,...