Church vs. Cult
Going to "Church"
Church vs. Man-made "Churches"
The Dumbed-Down "Church"
The Socio-Psychological Gospel
American Culture in the Pulpit
Spoiled and Ruined Ministers
What is a cult?
It is more often than not, that eventually all reform movements in the Church lose sight of their original ideal, compromise those ideals, and become more popular - "popular" meaning that which is more acceptable to the majority at any given time. They just might lack conviction.
Take for instance, the early Quakers. They did not practice ordinances nor religious holidays. Today they have lost conviction on those matters and today we cannot find a single Quaker meeting that hold to their original heritage of doctrine and practice. We found a meeting that came close in some aspects, and they didn't know why they didn't celebrate ordinances, but they didn't believe in the authoritative pre-eminence of the Bible; liberals who didn't believe in much of anything, and were mostly just big on silent meditation.
This site is an alternative that is not a breakaway but a return for Christians who want to get back to Bible basics. The Lord's church is pure and cannot be reformed nor restored. This site promotes the putting aside of learned prejudices that are contrary to the Lord's Word and His pure church. The attitude here may be sarcastic and with disdain for the sin of sectarianism. Here, "There is nothing new under the sun." "Anything true, isn't new, and anything new isn't true."
Going to "Church"
The casual reference of "going to church" is doctrinally incorrect. We are the Church and each one of us is part of the whole. We cannot go to ourselves. We can gather together or assemble, in various locations. The original Greek word, which was translated "church", is "ekklessia" which literally means "the called-out ones". It follows that they were called out for something.
How about, called out for discipleship - disciples of Christ; born again children of God? To bring glory to God. The church is the church even before it gathers. Perhaps the English rendering of "church" comes from an earlier German architectural word "kirk" for the similar designation. It would be better to use the word "ekklessia" instead of "church" just to make a clear impact of what we mean. But for conversation sake, please understand what is meant.
When the Lord looks to and fro across the face of the earth, who do you think he is going to acknowledge as His own, His elect, His called out ones? Have you studied enough to know that He judges our hearts? Only the Lord know our hearts, therefore he is the only one who knows the true members of His ekklessia; He must certainly see the mixed results of so-called altar calls.
Church vs. Man-made "Churches"
Today, that which tries to pass itself off a the "church", doesn't look anything like the church as it is represented and as it progresses through the Book of Acts and the Epistles. Paul does point out similar problems that are no different than today, but many who claim to be Biblical still don't catch on. The Pastoral Epistles of Timothy and Titus are mostly ignored. People pick and choose what they want out of the Bible. Sectarianism is the result of "the choosy spirit." A "sect", or section, is an portion of a larger group. To "denominate" means "to name apart".
The apologists who are trying to defend their little empires, try to accuse us of "tearing down" the Church. A typical barb they throw out is "Well, how could you get us all together under the same roof?" They don't get the point. Buildings are irrelevant. The church is not a house made with hands. The characteristics and marching orders for the one true church, to which all Christians belong, are found beginning at Pentecost in the Book of Acts and through to the Epistles.
Does the Holy Spirit lack anything for which we have to have a Charter, Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, and to register with "Caesar"? Oh, you say that the "church" is big today and we need to organize so that we can work together orderly. This is organization in the flesh. All our works are as filthy rags. Christ is still the Head of His church. Isn't the Holy Spirit our organizer and guiding force? The Holy Spirit moves and convicts our hearts to be "of one accord" and each part of the church "fitly joined together" "in the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace". You cannot pre-program or superimpose on a group of people a worldly program and expect the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Just who do you think you are and what better program do you have to offer than that which is in the Bible? Does God need your input or need your help? Our efforts to build carnal religion are pitiful, tragic, and so ridiculous that it is tearfully laughable. It's hype, circus maximus, big money, religious broadcasting, and a lot of phony baloney.
The Lord doesn't really need us or our help, His power is infinite. We need to yield to Him most reverently and humbly and not try to get Him to support our building-up of "strongholds". His truth endures throughout all generations. You need to trust the Holy Spirit to accomplish God's plan according to His big picture, and by the means that He is infinitely in control of, and according to His good pleasure - He certainly doesn't spin His wheels with guess work like we do. "My Grace is sufficient for thee." We need to drop our anxiety and let ourselves be used by the Holy Spirit according to the spiritual gifts described in the Bible for the church today. We are privileged to serve the Lord. We suggest that you let go, get debriefed, and become sensitive to the Lord's leading.
The Dumbed-Down Church
Some of the most flagrant examples of the dumbed-down "church" - I don't even want to call it "church", is the charismatic movement and prime time religion. It's circus maximus with it's ring masters and circus barkers, etc., putting people together and messing over their minds to seduce them into their big-money program. How ludicrous and hypocritical to use the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of such a carnal worldly platform of fancy adornment!
A dumbed-down "church" has a lack of Biblical learning and conviction. It might have a warm fuzzy universal Unitarianism or it might be stone cold dead formalism. It may offer artificial life by pumping up people emotionally with rock music. The main focus might be on entertainment. It's a program to make people feel good with cute stories so they'll come back and continue to place money in the coffers. The people respond according to what you have to offer and that's as far as it goes. And everything is geared to not offend the phony "christians" nor the carnal Christians. They have a form of bastardized "christianity". Can't you hear the phonyness in their voices when they declare, "There is going to be a miracle here tonight."; "Sunday school" gatherings are more like social encounter groups led by psychologists with touchy feely sweet sickening honey, spread thick, rather than by Bible teachers who declare the full counsel of God. And if you have been around awhile, you've heard endless stories of immorality and other excesses. Of course!!! Carnal people are more susceptible to sinful excesses. That's what you would expect from all this illegitimacy!!!
If you know your Bible, and have a sense of the persona of Jesus Christ and the apostles, can you honestly say that they would fit in with that crowd? Can you imagine the apostle Paul coming in dressed like some of those clowns wearing all that gold?
Satan has been "going to church" for the past 2000 years and is a wise old fox in getting Christians and others to compromise and to mis-represent Christianity. Satan has also gotten governments to pass laws and Presidential Executive Orders to render the Church impotent when it come to pointing out sin in society nor to be able to "cleanse the temple", as was the manner of Jesus, the apostles, and John the Baptist. Today, they would have our heads too, if we pointed out sin publicly.
The Socio-Psychological "Gospel"
Ministers who read too many psychology books or take psychology courses in an attempt to prepare themselves for counseling, are no more representatives of Christian counsel than rock musicians who become saved and change the lyrics of rock music and call it "Christian". It's the same old sensual stirings of of carnality in the rock music and the same old humanistic psychology of crowd control and manipulation.
Christians who discover that they have the gift of exhortation may feel [sic] obligated to pursue an education which seemingly prepares them for a ministry involving counseling. In so doing, they dilute their natural gift in exposing themselves to the humanistic philosophy - a religion in itself, which really hinders them from becoming the counselor they could have been if only they would have relied on the Biblical view of man's condition and the resolution of his problems. It's more than learning not the way of the heathen (Jer. 10:2), it's putting your confidence in God's ways.
There are many schools of psychological technique: Freudian, Rogerian, Jungian, etc. Each has a theoretical system of approaching therapy as well as theories as to what is wrong with a person and where to place the blame, ridding the subject of guilt because guilt if supposed to be garbage. Patients are usually in a vulnerable state when they go to these practitioners who are practicing on you, and in your naive faith, you are in anticipation of getting help. What you get is manipulation and the wrong reinforcements contrary to Biblical Christian values.
American Culture in the Pulpit
Is the ministry you attend something like a 4th of July picnic? Are the topics which are preached something like baseball, apple pie, and Mom? Or, is it like a ladies garden club?
Although the American way of life can be appreciated, is the pulpit used to redeem the time for which Christians come together, which is for the purpose being edified in the weightier things of the Lord? Just where do you find Mother's Day in the Bible? Christmas, New Years, and Lent aren't found there either!
What is the purpose of gathering the Church? The question is as to where to draw the line. For about 2000 years unGodly factions have been introducing paganism and all kinds of distractions into the Church. Christians need to find conviction in response to true Biblical teaching and use some wisdom and courage to take a stand for what's right.
Today, young Christians go to colleges and seminaries to learn [sic] how to become "ministers". They take preaching classes. Some have natural gifts and don't need the formal education but the religious establishment has pushed them there. Where inspired gifts are lacking, the institutions can still turn out warm bodies to preach from many books of outlines, such as the outlines that Spurgeon used. They are even taught to resort to giving sermon topics for Mother's Day, Veterans Day, and the 4th of July. This is bad because it robs God and robs God's people of time better spent in growth from studying the Bible.
Spoiled and Ruined "Ministers"
There are all kinds of spoiled "ministers" who abuse their position. Some "ministers" with their bully-pulpit and captive audience, abuse this privilege and use the pulpit with impunity to promote and defend faulty positions to which they are clinging. This pulpit is a one-man authoritarian ministry. It has the built-in liability of tempting the minister to fall into a carnal state of behavior as if he is omniscient or omnipotent. The congregation is intimidated by him. The people who hired him may even be intimidated by him. Or, the minister may know what he can get away with, as long as he doesn't get crosswise with the old guard that hired him.
The Lord's Church has it's built-in system of checks and balances according to the Pastoral Epistles: Timothy and Titus, and other examples in the Bible, where church leaders are disciplined. In our post-apostolic age, the church is in the care of elders, or older brethren in the faith, some who may qualify according to the Pastoral Epistles for "oversight" of the Church. We do not see any examples or indications in the Bible of the hiring and firing of ministers by the congregation. The Church wasn't denominated, and division was a hideous sin that was dealt with. (1 Corinthians 1:12).
What is a "cult"?
There are characteristics by which you can identify cults. The characteristics are generally the same but to various degrees; some flagrant, some very subtle that you hardly notice it at first glance.
First of all, in a cult, the leadership is centralized and exclusive in one person; sometimes an inner circle of a few, who may have unlimited power. Cults pay lip service to Jesus Christ. The "clergy" does your thinking for you and tells you "what we believe", or what form of discipline that is to be maintained. Your conviction does not come from you and the Lord getting together with His Word, but by how they abuse God's Word in pounding on you as if you were a heathen without possessing the Holy Spirit. And most likely, they have all but extinguished the Holy Spirit in you by their their cunning craftiness, rendering you impotent in what you could have been in service to the Lord, but simply being their mindless robot instead.
Contrariwise, in the Lord's church, those who have oversight are sincere [they better be sincere] when they say they want you to study and be convinced in rightly dividing the Scriptures and the Epistles for yourself in making doctrine "your own" in that you proved it out for yourself. This takes patience on the part of the brethren, of which some may be ahead of others in the knowledge of God's Word. Note the contrast here; between the cult and the Church. Some denominations and "church" groups are borderline cults.
Movements have been known to have been started with some cause, due to a distorted emphasis on some point of doctrine, and became a split off of a larger group or denomination, e.g., the Branch Davidians spliting off of the Seventh Day Adventists.
In a cult, a close rein is kept on people's lives. You are supposed to get permission for everything you want to do. The leadership suppresses initiative. Over the years you become non-thinking robots. Cults tend to be more into extolling the leadership. The leadership has more control over your wife and children than you do. To gain and maintain control over the cult, the almighty leader establishes fear in the people by using shock tactics in preaching a gospel that keeps you focused on a fearful terrifying enemy. They also scare people by claiming to have the authority to determine your eternal security and standing with God, whereby everyone is intimidated into submission. And guess what! They may even deny all of the above.
It is more easy to become a cult than it is to become a representation of the church which is a true and pure representation of the church which is Christ's Body, of born again children of God. This is because of all the prideful man-made traditions that have compromised Christians who pretend to meet in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Virtually all denominations claim to be Biblical.
In a cult there is a thin line between true participation and exploitation. The more flagrant cults will set up a communal living situation, have you claim poverty and turn over all your assets including your pay check. They might also forbid you to have a normal relationship to family, relatives, and former friends who are not a member of the cult. They may even choose your spouse for you.
There are phony "ministers" out there who seem to have to keep things stirred up. They are into crowd control and manipulation; again... by instilling fear of an enemy or fear of your loss of eternal security if you don't support their program of building an empire which is driven heavily by financial demands. People are very effectively controlled when they are in a state of fear and this keeps them from resisting phony charlatans. These potentates stirs up all kinds of frenzied activity and latch on to causes that include a concept of sacrifice and even "martyrdom". Despotic rulers; and even lesser rulers, throughout history have learned that if you shock and instill fear in the masses, you can control them. It is also a vital part of communist brainwashing.
Cult members are so brainwashed; they do not know they are in a cult. They believe they are separated as special in the eyes of God. It is difficult to debrief them. After all, who would consider anything else if they thought they were doing service to God
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The following was copied from "Definition of a cult" thread on FactNet -- do any of them sound familiar?
* Can you go to the leadership with questions and get valid, lucid answers, or are you rebuked for "questioning" God's anointed?
* Can you discuss your thoughts and feelings, both good and bad with other members without being rebuked later when the other person informs on you ?
* Can you talk to and be with former members who have left without the cult's blessing?
* Is the only pure reason for leaving moving to another city for employment purposes?
* Are you shunned and feared once you leave by people who have known you for years?
* Are you accused of slander when you try to explain to others what happened to you, so you can receive healing? Do you feel guilty when having to explain the (justified) reasons that you left the cult?
* Are you told to not question anything the authority does, and to let the leaders do your thinking for you?
* Can leadership use the money without any accountability or explanation?
* Are wives encouraged to leave/divorce husbands when the husband wants to leave the cult and the wife wants to stay?
* Are soul-ties and emotional dependence upon leadership so intense among the youth that a family has to remain in the cult because of the effect leaving will have on the children?
* Are your movements and conversations watched or listened to? Are you later rebuked when you said or did something not approved of?
* Is gossip spread in the guise of "pray for so-and-so, because they are going through......"?
* Have you been afraid to leave the cult, because you've been told that the rest of the Body of Christ is a mess, i.e. where can you go? We are the only ones with the truth? If your church or group practices these tactics, please seriously consider leaving.
- Cult awareness & Information Centre Directory
- Psychological and Recovery Issues related to Jehovah's Witnesses and other groups
- Adherents.com's comprehensive list of religious movements
- Secret societies and cults (links)
- Did Joseph Smith invent the Book of Mormon?
- Information about Cults and Psychological Manipulation
- Characteristics of Cults (Rick A. Ross Institute)
Link: CULT STUDIES RESOURCE BIBLIOGRAPHY
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