Cults are multiplying in Western culture. Due to post modern thinking the cradle of the Enlightenment has legitimatized every bizarre doctrine and practice that has ever occurred to mankind. Our culture only denounces strange beliefs and cultic activities if they prove to be detrimental to societal good. That attitude has produced a greenhouse effect in which the cults have flourished.
Even Christians stand in jeopardy of becoming involved in cult like activity. This usually stems from the sincere desire to obey God’s word without having a mature understanding of what the word teaches. It also is usually connected to a strong personality who either elicits deep affection or unexplainable fear in those that follow him.
With those thoughts in mind I offer the following.
You might be in a cult if the leader injects himself between you and Christ and demands that you relate to Christ only through him/her.
You might be in a cult if you are led to believe that everybody outside your little circle is suspect…either lost or deluded. They are the enemy.
You might be in a cult if, when the leader is present, you became distraught because you are afraid you might not measure up to his demands or please him.
You might be in a cult if the leader bases his actions and leadership on “God told me” rather than on a faithful and consistent exposition of Scripture, line upon line and precept upon precept.
A cultish leader always has a “second in command” who never questions his leadership and who influences other leaders to backup the main leader at all times. It is this structure that keeps the regular people in line.
A cultish leader may use the Bible to authenticate his views but he will not allow anyone to question his interpretations. Many times his interpretations fall apart under close scrutiny.
It seems to me that cults form and evolve. I doubt if anyone says to himself, “Hey, I think I will start a cult today!” But there is a certain personality type that can’t seem to resist the lure of power over others. Every evangelical cult has enough truth to cover up the falsehoods, and their leaders become very adept at using the truth to do that very thing. The sad thing is that the leader himself is deceived. Satan so blinds his heart that he actually believes that if the people will only follow him mindlessly that he can do them good.
Somewhere the leader crosses the line so that his will, thoughts, and desires trump the Bible. The worse thing that could happen would be for the people themselves to have a relationship with Christ that has nothing to do with him but is a result of their own discoveries in the word of God.
Over time, the leader gathers followers around himself who have followers of their own, and through those ‘friends’, power is gained over their followers. BTW…If you ever leave the cult, you are no longer a ‘friend’ but the ‘enemy.’ At the very least all references to you will be banned. It’s just as if you never existed. There is a reason for that. If the one who left is ever publicly referenced one of the more thoughtful followers might start asking questions and questions are anathema to groups like this.
You might be in a cult if the things I have said make you uncomfortable. Why do they make you feel so? No matter what anyone…anyone …tells you, you will stand before God for yourself. Only One qualifies to stand between you and God’s righteous judgement. Only One has the right to direct your life and command total obedience. Christ paid for that right on Calvary’s cross.
Christ! Seek Him in His word and look at everything in light of that word. One of the most dangerous things you can do is to farm out your spiritual life to someone else. Don’t do it. Ask God to open His word to your own heart, and then follow Him no matter what the costs.
After 40 + years of ministry I have observed this kind of thing over and over. What I have said comes from my heart and experience. If you are a part of a group like this just walk away. And if you can’t walk away physically because of family relationships (spousal/ mother/ father) then walk away in your heart, and pray constantly for those caught in the ‘group.’ There are still faithful Bible preachers and churches around that will encourage you in your personal walk with God. Don’t get marooned somewhere between the leaders and Christ. Go on to know the Lord and grow up in Christ yourself.