We are told that there are about 2,500 cults in America today. Many are wondering about the phenomenon known as cults, especially in view of the David Koresh and his followers, tragedy. Many of you recall the Jim Jones (Peoples Temple) incident in 1978.
Cults are characterized by the anti-biblical elevation of their leaders. The term "cult", is elusive but the excessive exalting of a man is a common trait of cults. Many of the cult leaders claim to possess deity (cf. 2 Thes. 2:4). These men sinfully arrogate authority to themselves; hence, their followers are unnaturally devoted to these cult leaders.
Another common trait of cultism is the mind control which is exercised. Cults do not promote a healthy study of scriptures. When the scriptures are used, their interpretation must be supplied by the leader. The followers are not encouraged (not allowed) to objectively consider other teachings. The leader exerts psychologically damaging control over the followers (cf. I Jn. 4:1, Heb. 5:12,14).
Common to all cults is the claim of latter day revelation. Most, if not all, cult leaders claim direct revelation from God. David Koresh, you recall, changed his mind about surrender because "God told him not to surrender." This is a large part of the control these leaders have over others do not question them, they directly speak for God (see 2 Thes. 2:4, Jude 3). They must divert authority away from the scriptures and become the authority themselves (see Matt. 28:18). Beloved, submit to Jesus and his authority (his word, 2 Jn. 9-11) and you will not have to worry about cultic influence in your life (Lk. 6:46, I Cor. 3:4-7).
Why do the estimated 2,500 cults exist in America today? This question can be complicated, however, there are a few basic and simple answers.
First of all, cults exist because Jesus authority is rejected. Jesus said, "All power (authority, ASV) is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 38:18). We are commanded to " speak as the oracles of God " (I Pet. 4:11). Jesus is the head of his church (Eph. 1:22, 23), the savior of the church (5:23), and "the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn. 14:6). Jesus teaching constitutes the Christians only creed (2 Jn. 9-11). As you consider the various aspects of cults (their origin, nature, and goals, they are TOTALLY without Jesus authority.
Cults exist today because some want to worship a man instead of Jesus Christ. All true cult leaders have a single commonality, as seen, they make super-human claims which deify themselves to their followers. Jim Jones and David Koresh both claimed to be "Jesus Christ." The scriptures teach " that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written " (I Cor. 4:6). We must not worship men, whether they be David Koresh, John Wesley, Alexander Campbell, or the Pope of Rome (Acts 10:25,26).
Beloved, the Waco tragedy is a small prelude to what is going to happen in the Judgment Day. Make use of your present time, learn Gods will and do it (Matt. 7:24-27). There is a time coming when it will be too late (Matt. 25: 46). Do not listen to men (when they contradict the scriptures), go by Gods word, stand on Jesus authority and revere the Son of God who died for you.
The following sites contain studies of some of the most common cults today. I have not gone through these sites and checked every sentence for scriptural accuracy. However, for the most part I believe you will find the material reliable, especially the information regarding the addressed cults.
Jehovah's Witnesses The so called Jehovah's Witnesses are some of the most commonly encountered cult members. Read this material and see what they believe regarding Jesus incarnate and the resurrected Jesus. Also examined is their teaching regarding the second coming of Jesus and their failed predictions and their cultic dedication to the Watchtower Bible and Track Society.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Mormonism has every feature and requirement of a cult. This material looks into some of their basic cultic teaching. It also examines the Book of Mormon and compares it to the scriptures. I believe you will find that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are incongruous and exclude one another. (Be sure to also check out the section in Bible Truths on Mormonism, click on to visit.)
The Unification Church Moonies is another fast growing cult and have very dedicated members. Some of their beliefs are shocking. This material is brief but mentions some of the basic facts of this cult.
Christian Science Some do not think of the Christian Science religion as constituting a cult. However, when you consider the members dedication to their founder and her teachings, I believe you will agree it is a cult.
Christadelphianism Another cult to be reckoned with is Christadelphianism. One advantage of cults is many are not familiar with their doctrines. Most cults do not want their full teachings known but only incrementally introduce them to their members as they gain mind control over them. This material examines some of the teachings of Christadelphianism.
The Way International The Way International was begun by Victor Paul Wierville who claimed latter day revelation. There are approximately 100,000 members of this cult. Some of the ancient Gnostic tenets characterize their belief system.
Eckankar Eckankar was introduced by Paul Twitchell in 1965. There are an estimated 50, 000 zealous members. Eckankar is a combination of the occult, Hinduistic philosophy, and a little of the Bible. It has all the features of a cult.
Swedenborgianism Better known as The New Church or the Church of New Jerusalem, this cult has 150, 000 adherents. Just as cults in general, Swedenborgianism denies Jesus' deity, teaches salvation by works, and claims latter day revelation.
The Church of Scientology Scientology is the product of L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology is probably the most popular cult in America today, having many rich and famous promoters.
Roman Catholicism Some might not view Roman Catholicism as a cult. However, Catholicism has all the necessary characteristics to classify it as a cult (allegiance to Pope, etc.). Moreover, Catholicism appears to have been the ultimate falling away prophesied in the Bible (Acts 20: 28-30, I Tim. 4: 1-3, 2 Thes. 2: 3-12).
The Christian Identity Movement This cult is also known as Anglo-Isrealism. This religion is highly racist and often associated with the KKK. The group also has great interest in the so called ten lost tribes.
Unity School of Christianity Mr. Charles Fillmore is the founder of Unity. Fillmore believed and taught that he was the reincarnation of the apostle Paul. Unity is a mind cult religion. This cult is increasing in popularity, it already has over one million members in America.
Seventh Day Adventism Some do not view Seventh Day Adventism as a cult. However, just as Roman Catholicism, Adventism qualifies for cult status. Click on the external link and learn more about Adventism.