How Cults Deceive
By Chris Lawson (April 30, 2008)
Note: Please note that the inclusion of links herein does not mean that SRN gives a blanket endorsement to the linked ministry, author or website. These links are for research purposes only.
When we use the words "cult" and "cultic teaching," we are making reference to distorted teachings and abusive groups that redefine the biblical, historical Person of Jesus Christ and the essential doctrines of the historic Christian faith.
Dictionaries reveal, and Grammarians know, that words mean what they mean, by definition, and in context. To reject word definitions in any given culture inevitably leads to what could be termed grammatical suicide. Such is the case in the world of the cults! Cults and cultic systems always redefine biblical terminology. This is what Dr. Martin so aptly referred to as "The Language Barrier."
Due to this "language barrier," all cults end up attacking the historical Jesus of Nazareth. In some way shape or form they inevitably ascribe to Him that which is contrary to His character, nature and personal claims. To redefine Jesus Christ, biblical terminology and the essential doctrines of the historic Christian Faith in this way produces a form of what could be called doublethink perversion. Confusion, delusion and spiritual abuses are the end result of such Scripture twisting.
The Apostle Paul warned about those that would bring false gospels, which in actuality qualitatively different gospels. In fact, they are no gospels (good news) at all, they are bad news!
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:6-9)
Unlike cults and cultic teachings, the real gospel of Jesus Christ sets people free from sin and spiritual slavery.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Here is an excellent series of articles from Let Us Reason Ministries, on the subject of cults and spiritual abuse:
Cults - Let us Reason Archive
What is a Cult?
Common characteristics of Cults
How to recognize if you’re in a Cult?
What happens when you leave?
Beware of false prophets
Help my child has just joined a cult
How to find a good Church home
What works must I do to receive salvation?
The one true Church
What about James 2:17
Why do we find people in Cults
How do people end up in a Cult
Here are some links as well on organized heresy and cult apologetics:
As previously noted, every cult and false religious system under the sun ends up attacking the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whether it is through redefining Who He is (Jesus the Christ, Son of God, God Incarnate), what He is (Eternal, Self-Existent God), or what He came to do on behalf of sinful mankind (The Lamb of God as a Substitute for sinners), false religion will attack Him. The attacks can be seen through the doctrines taught, and human lives are oftentimes destroyed as a result of believing these attacks that come in the form of theological deception. If one attacks biblical theology in regards to the person, nature and work of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ Himself is personally attacked.
Christian Cults come in all shapes and sizes. They look Christian on the surface and they use the Bible and biblical terminology, however, they always end up - to some degree or another - twisting what Scripture teaches about the historic person, nature and work of Jesus of Nazareth, the person and deity of the Holy Spirit, the Triune nature of the Godhead, Christ's atoning work on the cross, the literal bodily resurection of Jesus, etc.
The following is a list of a few recognized cults or cultic teachers. These groups and teachers redefine the biblical Jesus Christ, pervert Biblical theology, and have their roots in some form of Eastern religion or philosophy. Transcendental Meditation, Hare Krishna, Theosophy, New Age, est, Erhard Seminars Training, the Forum, Order of the Solar Temple, Heaven's Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, Rajneeshism, Sri Chinmoy, Divine Light Mission, Vedanta Society, Krishnamurti Foundation of America, Eckankar, Bubba Free John, Hanuman Foundation, Sathya Sai Baba, Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy, Biofeedback, Self-Realization Fellowship, Shree Gurudev Siddha, Sahaja Yoga, 3HO Foundation, Sikh Foundation of Yogi Bhajan, Maitreya, etc. These groups and countless others have the wrong Jesus Christ.
Gurus and the East
Sadly, people jump headlong into Yoga, meditation, the Contemplative lifestyle, "centering" and "cataphatic" prayer, chanting, and a whole host of other Eastern occult methods and techniques, without even checking these things out first. Just for the record, those who reject the biblical prohibition against occultism and partake in occult techniques will pay a heavy price. Many Eastern gurus present teachings and techniques upon the undiscerning - all under the guise of enlightenment, spirituality and asceticism. Even undiscerning Christians are now following occult teachings that have been repackaged as Contemplative Spirituality.
For starters, we recommend that you look at our Hazards of the Occult webpage and that you read the following link pages. To blindly follow men and women who have steeped themselves in occultism and spiritistic practices is about as dangerous as thing as one could ever do.
The Language Barrier
As any dictionary or grammarian knows, words mean what they mean by definition and in context. If human beings cannot agree on this, then language is meaningless and all verbal communication is nonsense. In order to get anywhere in discussing the kingdom of the cults, we must vigorously do what cult apologist Dr. Walter Martin has so aptly clarified in his book Kingdom of the Cults, we must involve ourselves with "scaling the language barrier."
Simply put, we must at every turn define the words we use - by definition, and in context. To not do so while discussing theology with cultists will only leave a person in total confusion.
New Age Cults
New Age cults are everything but Christian. Their messages are anti-Christian, anti-Jesus Christ of the Bible, anti-interpreting Scripture properly. Once again, the cultic counterfeit "Jesus's" appear in all the New Age cults because New Age cults are rooted and grounded in spiritistic influences.
We recommend browsing the SRN pages on New Age and Occult as well as our Hazards of the Occult page. All New Age cults pervert the biblical Jesus Christ and they all have a counterfeit of the real Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of Scripture is God the Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Holiness, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of the Living God.
Jesus of the Cults
The Jesus of the cults is everything but the Jesus of the Bible. Read here about how the cults misrepresent the Jesus Christ of Scripture. We also recommend visiting Walter Martin's ReligiousInfonet (http://www.waltermartin.com) to listen online about the Jesus of the Cults.
One True Church Syndrome
Comparing The One True Churches (Series 1-11)
“One True” Churches Claim to be the Only One
“One True” Churches Claim to be the Restoration of Christ’s “Failed” Church
“One True” Churches Claim to Have the Only Truth and Practice
“One True” Churches Claim to be the True Church Because of Their Unity
“One True” Churches Teach that either Salvation or Complete Christian Life is Impossible Outside Their Group
“One True” Churches Claim All Defectors Have a Bad Heart and Shunning Helps them Repent
“One True” Churches Claim Anyone Leaving Their Group is Lost
“One True” Churches Claim the Bible Must be Interpreted by Their Group
“One True” Churches Impose Commandments of Men and Extreme Legalism
“One True” Churches Encourage Submission, Not Questions
“One True” Churches Lull Members to Trusting Sleep
Profiles of the Cults
The most effective way a person can protect himself/herself from the cults is by having a basic and balanced understanding of Biblical theology. It is also a tremendous help to know a bit about how cultic systems function. We have found that there are definite patterns of how cults work and there are also very clear ways to discern if a group is in fact a cult. We hope the following will help you discern so as not to be deceived.
Scripture Twisting of Biblical Hermeneutics
Biblical Hermeneutics is the science and art of interpreting Scripture. Hermeneutics provides a clear understanding of the basic rules of biblical interpretation and its proper application. If one interprets Scripture properly than one will not be deceived. Sadly the cults twist the Scriptures unto their own destruction. How do they do this? Because they do not use the proper rules grammar in their interpretation of Scripture.
Types of Cults
There are countless cults exploding across the landscape of the world. Eastern Mystical groups are infiltrating the Western world like never before. Hinduism, Buddhism and other pantheistic Eastern religions have produced a myriad of cults. There are also Aberrant Christian groups, Psycho-spiritual and Psycho-sexual cults. Self-Improvement cults, Eclectic/Syncretistic cults, 'secret wisdom' and 'lost truths' Psychic/Occult/Astral cults about too.
There are also well-established Bible-toting cults such as Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses the International Church of Christ, Christian Science, Spiritualism, etc. And of course there are Extremist/Political/Social Movements, many of which have cultic tendencies. It is a misnomer that ordinary people can't be manipulated by these abusive systems. Don't be caught in the 'It could never happen to me' trap.
How are we going to reach the cults for the real Jesus Christ? Statistically the cults are growing at an unprecedented rate. Approximately 80 percent of the people in the pseudo-Christian cults come straight out of mainline Christian denominations. The only way to effectively counter the flood of cultism is to meet the cultist's head-to-head with the love of Christ in our hearts and the Word of God in our hands. And don't forget, the following articles will also help you immensely.
Cult Recruiting Methods
Ever wondered how cults draw people in and then destroy them? The following articles should be studied carefully.
Cults on the Mission Field
One of the biggest tragedies in the world today is the fact that the world mission fields are rife with cultism. The Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormon alone are not only inoculating people against the truth of the real Gospel, they very effectively prey (no pun intended) upon undiscerning and weak Christians. How? They redefine Jesus Christ and the historic Christian faith and then foist their blasphemous teachings upon the masses under the guise of "True Christianity."
Missions related articles from CFAR (Various authors)
Patterns in the Cults
What are the patterns in the Cults? ADDING to the Word of God, SUBTRACTING from the Deity of Jesus Christ, MULTIPLYING the requirements for salvation, and of course, DIVIDING the followers loyalty to Christ. These are but just a few ways that cults deceive the undiscerning.
Warning Signs of the Cults
What does it feel like to be in a Cult?
What are the warning signs that we should be aware of?
What should we look for in order to protect my family, friends and children?
PRINT OUT these articles and keep them handy - you will need them!