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How can I recognize a religious cult?

Writer: Billy Graham |

A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect. There are some features common to most cults:

→ They do not adhere solely to the sixty-six books of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. They add their "special revelations" to the Bible as equally authoritative.

→ They do not accept that our relationship to Jesus Christ is a reality "by grace through faith" alone, but practice instead a salvation by works.

→ They do not give Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, full recognition as the second Person of the Trinity, composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Some of these groups are Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.

"Cults can take many forms. Some cults are openly and clearly influenced by non-Christian religions (such as some that originate in the Far East). Others, however, claim to be Christian and may actually incorporate some of the teachings of Christianity, while they deny certain truths in the Bible. Cults substitute their own ideas for the truth which God has given us."

Although cults differ, they share several characteristics. For example, cults often do not accept the Bible alone as God's Word, and may even say that other books (usually written by the group's founder) are also God's Word and of more value. Cults also commonly claim that they alone correctly interpret the truth and that Christian denominations and churches are wrong in their teaching. Some cults have a strong leader and demand that members give their allegiance to him (even to the point of rejecting family members). If you have doubts about a group, ask several clergymen about it, or see if your local Christian bookstore has a volume that describes cults.

"Cults deny what the Bible says about Jesus: He was fully God as well as man, and He died on the cross so we could be saved from our sins by faith. Invite Jesus Christ to come into your heart by faith, then get involved with a church where Christ is preached so you can grow spiritually."