Cultists in Our House
2 John 10 says, “ If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting.
This verse prohibits us from giving cultists (people who are in cults) a platform from which to teach false doctrine.
Some people have misinterpreted this verse: They say we are prohibited from allowing cultists into our homes.
John was warning against allowing a false teacher into the church and giving the false teacher a platform from which to teach.
This prohibition guards the purity of the church.
To extend hospitality to false teachers would imply that the church accepted or approved of their teaching..
Then the imposters would be encouraged and interpret this action as an acceptance of their doctrine. This should never happen.
Beware of Cults
A cult is a religious group that has a system of beliefs regarded as unorthodox. They are usually not a part of a larger and more accepted religion. They may have beliefs that are regarded by many as extreme or dangerous.
They may be a religious group that derives from a parent religion but departs from that parent religion by denying some of its essential doctrines.
What are the essential doctrines of Christianity?
- The Bible is the inspired Word of God and is therefore inerrant and authoritative.
- The one true God is infinite, eternal, and revealed in 3 persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Jesus is the eternal God. He is the 2nd person of the Trinity. In the Incarnation, He took on a human nature, being born of a virgin. He died for humankind and 3 days later physically rose from the dead.
- People are created in God’s image and are morally accountable to Him. They are destined to live forever with God in heaven or suffer eternally in ell, depending on whether they have been saved.
- All human beings are born into the world in sin and estranged from God. They can do nothing to merit salvation before God. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, based solely on Christ’s atonement.
Denying doctrines such as these catapults people into the cults.
Characteristics of Cults
Most cults have similar doctrinal characteristics. Not every cult manifests every characteristic.
- Many cult leaders claim to receive new revelations and have their own holy writings. If the Bible conflicts with the new revelation, the new revelation supersedes the Bible.
- Cults espouse a distorted view of God. Some deny the Trinity, or teach pantheism (everything is God) or polytheism (there are many gods). God is irrelevant in some cults.
- Cults see Jesus as just a man or a lesser god than the Father.
- Cults usually deny that Jesus won our salvation on the cross.
- Cults often deny the Holy Spirit of Godhood and Personhood.
- Many cults deny that humans are fallen in sin. Some claim that humans are God or have the potential to become gods.
- Most cults deny salvation by grace.
- Cults often use words from the Bible ( God, Jesus, sin, salvation, the cross, the resurrection, ascension ) but not the same definitions that historic Christianity teaches.
Sociology and the Cults
Here are some sociological characteristics of cults.
- Authoritarianism. The word of an authority figure is consider ultimate and final. They are often alleged to be a prophet.
- Isolationism. They sometimes require members to break off past associations with parents and siblings. A cult then functions as a surrogate family.
- Exclusivism. Cults often believe that only they possess the truth of God and are saved. They warn new followers that Satan may use their friends and relatives to try to dissuade them from remaining with the group.
- Shunning. Minor infractions against a cult, such as not obeying the leader on a matter, might lead to shunning, in which members no longer interact with the offender for a time.
- Disfellowshiping. Some cults disfellowship (kick out) any member who questions or resists the teaching or instructions of the group.
Cults’ Moral Characteristics
Legalism, sexual perversion and physical abuse are common moral characteristics of cults. Not every cult manifest every one of these traits.
- Legalism. Many cults have a rigid set of rules by which cult members must live. These standards are usually extra-biblical. For example, Mormons forbid the use of coffee, tea, or any other drink with caffeine. The Watchtower Society for Jehovah’s Witnesses require followers to distribute literature door to door.
- Sexual Perversion. Joseph Smith and other early Mormon leaders had many wives. Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints remain polygamists today. David Koresh claimed to own all the women in his group, even the young girls. The Children of God cult, The Family, uses flirty fishing techniques to recruit people. Rev. Moon of the Unification Church has engaged in sexual purification rites with female members.
- Physical Abuse. X-cult members sometimes accuse their former leaders of engaging in beatings of both adults and children, sleep deprivation and food deprivation.
Talking to Cult Members
These 10 suggestions will help prepare you to talk with cult members.
- Know basic Bible teachings. You can learn the Bible well enough to recognize false doctrine.
- Don’t assume every cultist believes the same thing. Ask them what they believe.
- Recognize that cultists are trained to answer objections. Keep taking the discussion back to the Bible.
- Check Scriptures. Cultists often recite Scripture passages out of context.
- Define your terms. Cultists use many of the same terms we do, but redefine them.
- Ask strategic questions. Get them to think critically.
- Always be loving. No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
- Demonstrate the deity of Jesus. Use Old and New Testament verses.
- Emphasize the gospel of grace.
- Give your testimony. Tell them how Jesus has changed your life.