See “What to look for in a Biblical Church”
I. Sociological Perspective: Cx control
“Yet at times these traits can also be detected within mainstream faiths” WSJ 2/25/11 “What is common are the recruiting promises, influence agendas and group's coercive influence power that compromise the personal exercise of free will and critical thinking Cult methods of recruiting, indoctrinating and influencing their members are not exotic forms of mind control, but only more intensely applied mundane tactics of social influence practiced daily by all compliance professionals and societal agents of influence.” Andersen & Zimbardo 1984. http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html. Neopagan Wiccan Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame
Danger of a Cult or Culture Club: keeps people from experiencing the salvation, life, growth, and blessings God wants them to have.
II. Theological/Biblical Perspective
Acts 24:5 plague, creator of dissension, ringleader of the cult 14 acc to the Way which they call a cult NLTFundamentals: inerrancy of the Bible, Sola Scriptura, virgin birth/Trinity, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection of Jesus, imminent personal return of Jesus Christ. 1. Scripture Alone 2. Christ Alone 3. Grace Alone 4. Faith Alone 5. The Glory of God Alone
1. Authority/View of Bible
Cult leader preference or additional “revelation” (oral or written), inaccurate interpretation/exegesis; will of men
Club “tradition” creeds, indoctrination, catechism, booklets; self will; Church Bible, Sola Scriptura. Emphasized will of God (study)
Finite beings require authenticated Revelation; Revelational religions not cafeterias. Cultural stds (demonic) can't determine Biblical stds.
Mk 7:6 Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites: This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me 7 in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men 8 laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men Mt 28:20
Titus 2:14 redeem..purify..works 15 the things you should teach. Exhort and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you
2. Body of Christ
interdependent unity aids Lordship/growth/sanctification (tendency to independence) Eph 5:21 submitting to one another in the fear of God
Cult dependence; slavery; uniformity; Club independence; no submission; social union Church interdependence; mutual submission; Body unity
1Cor 1:10 all speak the same thing, there be no divisions among..you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment
Following Christ requires Discriminatory Allegiance Lk 12:51 Think I am come to give peace on earth? No; but rather division Mt 10:34 not peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter cx her mother, and a daughter-in-law cx her mother-in-law'; 36 and a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 who loves father/mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. Who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Mt 19:29 everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a 100x, and inherit eternal life. 1Cor 15:33
Cult illegitimate (unqualified), prohibitive; Club legal class (positional), permissive; Church legitimate (qualifications) persuasive 2Cor 5:9-12
Heb 13:7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 17 Obey/be persuaded about those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your soulsm/w/e, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Shepherd Acts 20:28
1Thess 5:12 pay attention to Thayer those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you cf 14; 1Pt 5:1-5 wise
2Cor 10:8 boast more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction Mt 6:33 seek first Rm 14:7
Cult external group std (conform to norm); Club external cultural std; what sin? Toleration acceptance (higher std than God) WorthValue
Church Biblical internal & external (God's) stds; Shepherd; admonish reprove rebuke reject/discipline shame?repentance acceptance
2Thess 3:14 if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.
1Cor 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother (spiritual phonies msg), who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or a cheat cev --- not even to eat with such a person. 12 Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person." Eph 5:11
Cult indoctrination; Club comfortable conformity; Church Christlikeness, Learn Truth, Live Truth, Love others w/ Truth
Eph 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. 17 therefore, you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 5:17 wisely do will
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
- Does the teaching emphasize what the Scriptures do? Produce Christlike reproductive disciples? Is practical holiness taught? 20 yr product?
- Are people called to interdependent Biblical Body life/community? Biblical submission (grey areas)? Tough love? Church discipline?
- Do the leaders have Biblical lifestyles and kids? Do they solicit input and shepherd the flock? Are they open to reason/challenge/debate?
- Is the church about money and expansion/proselytizing or the development/discipling/edification of the individual? Learn from each other?
- What should you do if you've been deceived and are in a cult or a culture club? Why would someone call NT Christianity a cult?