First of all let me explain what I mean when I say “cults”: Cult = followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices. Ok, now that is out of the way…
I have found it interesting when looking at different religions and how they differ from the Christian beliefs. Many religious organisations can look as though they are in agreement with the beliefs of christianity, but when you look below the surface, you find that infact, the beliefs are very different. One good reason to look into what other religious organisations believe is that it leads you to the Bible, this is generally so that you can look up what scripture says and compare that to other beliefs. Some different religious believers go and knock on peoples doors to share their beliefs in the hope of converting others to lead them into their organisations, so it is useful for anyone to look at the depths of the believes so that people are not led in the wrong direction if their desire is to know the truth of the scriptures.
I came across a video today by a fella called Shawn McCraney. Shawn used to be a Mormon but is now a christian. He now has a heart to show the truth of scripture to Mormons who he believes have been deceived by a religious cult. He runs a TV show called Heart of the Matter where many of his videos are shown on his website. Today I came across this show on Geneology where he reveals many differences in what other cults believe in comparison to the beliefs of christians and decided to share a few of them here on this blog, so here goes. First of all, not all of what I will write here is the same for every cult, but you should spot some that you can identify with.
The authenticity of the Bible
Cults always deny the authenticity of the Bible in one way of another. Some will say that scripture has been manipulated by man therefore is not fully the true word of God.
Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and is 100% the Truth. The bible is also declared as the truth by Jesus as well as in the OT and NT. Scriptures to look up regarding this include: John 17:17, Eph 1:13, 2 Tim 2:15, Col 1:5, James 1:18, Ps 119:160, Hebrews 4:12
Alteration of Salvation
Many cults will subtly alter the truth of salvation. They will say that eternal life is based on something more than the atonement that was achieved through Christ on the cross. In other words, in order to gain salvation, some works and progression is involved which falls into line with the religious organisation, such as obeying the rules of the organisation or door knocking or even in some cases death for the cause of the organisation.
Christians believe that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. There is nothing we can physically or mentally do to achieve salvation, no works or deeds can earn us salvation. Salvation is a gift given to us by God made available though Jesus who died on the cross and through His resurrection. Scriptures to look up include: Acts 15:11; Ephesians 1:6, 7; 2:8; 1 Peter 1:3, 4
No assurance of Salvation
Many people who follow religious cults or organisations never have an assurance of salvation. They will feel that they have never done enough to assure a place in heaven, or if they do something which they think is wrong, i.e. speak a bad word, have a bad thought, they believe they have lost their place of salvation and need to make up for it through works. Christians infact can fully understand why people in these religious organisations would struggle to believe that their salvation is assured, this is because christians recognise that we could never earn a place in heaven which is why we acknowledge the truth that salvation is a gift. We would all fall short if we had to earn our way into heaven.
Christians believe that once we acknowledge the truth of who Jesus is and decide to follow Him then we receive the gift of salvation through grace and as believers we have the assurance of salvation through the knowledge given to us when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Scriptures to look at include: Romans 8:1, Romans 8:38-39, Romans 8:9, Romans 8:16, Eph. 1:13-14, (2 Tm. 2:19.
Cults have Gurus or Leaders
Almost all cults will have a Guru, leader or modern prophet who are looked upon as infallible interpreters of their doctrine or scripture. Whatever they say goes and their words cannot be challenged.
Christians believe that there is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus. There is no man who christians will look to as though they are infallible, only Jesus is 100% relied upon for the truth. We are told through scripture to test everything that we hear including ourselves. Scriptures to look at include: 1 John 4:1, 2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Ambiguous or Uncertain Doctrines
Many cults or religious organisations are not upfront about their beliefs. They tell only so much about what they believe and once you are hooked they eventually reveal the foundations of their beliefs. For example, they will not initially disclose the fullness of their cult until you become involved in their organisation.
Christians preach directly from the Word; The Bible and there are no hidden extras or laws or Gurus to follow. The foundation of the Christian belief is based on the Bible alone and there are no alternate books to follow as an extra book of the rules of the organisation or religion. Scriptures to look at include: Revelation 22:18, Dt 4:2, Dt 12:32, Pr 30:6,
Complete denunciation of other competing groups
All other cults and organisations will renounce the beliefs of anyone outside of their religion. They will deem anyone not involved in their organisation as not to be trusted. They will teach that it is impossible to know God unless they are a part of their organisation or group.
Christianity is non-denominational and accept everyone who believes and worships in the one true and living God. Scriptures to look at include: Mk 12:32, Dt 4:35, Dt 4:39, Is 45:21
Claims special revelation and discoveries
Many religious cults will claim that they have received divine revelation that no-one else has received.
Christianity is openly historical without any claims of new revelation or doctrine or alternate testimonies of the truth. There is no special information hidden until you reach a certain level of the organisation. There is only one truth and nothing further is necessary to add to it. The truth comes by revelation through the Holy Spirit to every believer, not just to men who claim they are at a higher spiritual authoritative level than others. Scriptures to look at include: 1 Cor 2:14, 1 John 2:20, 1 John 2:27, 1 Cor 2:4, 1 John 5:10.
Enforce a defective Christology
Many cults will dismiss the divinity of Christ and twist the nature of Jesus in one way or another. They will deny that Jesus the Son is God in human form and claim He is something else.
Christians believe that Jesus is God incarnate, that Jesus, the third person of the trinity was embodied into flesh. God became a man. Scriptures to look at include: John 1:1, John 1:14, John 1:9, John 8:56, 1 Tim 3:16, 1 John 1:1-2, 1 John 4:2, 2 John 7, Php 2:6-7, 2 Co 8:9, Heb 2:10.
Errant (wrong) description of man
Some cults will give wild ideas of what the nature of man is such as all men are animalistic and need to be in their organisation to become proper humans. Some also say that men are gods and need to join their organisations so that their godliness can shine through.
Christians believe that man was created in Gods image with a destiny to fulfill which is unique among the rest of creation. We are made from dust, we are not gods. Man has two natures; material (body) and immaterial (soul and spirit) and all men are corrupted by sin and can only be redeemed through Christ. Scriptures to look at include: Genesis 1:27, Mk. 16:15–18, Rom. 5:12,
Out of context scripture
Many religious cults and organisations will pluck out a scripture to justify a whole doctrine or belief and focus on that one scripture and exclude other scriptures regardless of the context.
Christians will use the whole bible when seeking the truth of the word and look at the context of scripture to understand the meaning with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Christians believe that the bible is the divine word of God and cannot be understood in human thinking, but we need to study and meditate on scripture and rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us the truth of the Word. Scriptures to look at include: Psalm 1:2, Colossians 3:2, 2 Cor 3:4-6, Jn 6:63, Ro 7:6
Life after death
Many cults or religious organisations deny that hell exists or that men without Christ will go to hell. Some will say that all are saved, and others will say that people outside of their cult will just burn up out of existence. Others say they will just live a lesser life in eternity than those who are involved in their organisations.
Christians believe that unless someone is under the blood of Jesus, they will spend eternity in hell. If someone does not accept and follow Jesus then neither will Jesus accept them when it comes to where they will spend eternity. Scriptures to look at include: Luke 16:25–26, Matt 10:28, Matt 25:41, Mark 9:43–44, Revelation 20:13–15, 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9, John 3:3
There are many other differences in beliefs such as:
- Abuse of finance such as financial exploitation
- History of some religious cults being involved in occults
- Thriving of persecution
- Little tolerance for questioning on enquiry if someone is unsure of the doctrine
- Unreasonable fear of the outside world and reading other materials outside of the organisation
- Followers never feel they are good enough
- The demand within the organisation that the leaders are always right regardless of evidence to suggest different
- Dependency on cult leaders for direction of life, problems or personal choices
- Increasing isolation of family or friends who are not involved in the organisation
This is just some of the differences of what other cults or organisations believe outside of christianity and it is wise to study the scriptures and test everything that you are told regardless of where they come from. Jesus tells us to study and test everything so that we will know the truth and not be deceived.