Having been a police officer for over twenty-one years and a Christian for thirty, I’ve personally seen, and have had to deal with, various religious cults. I can tell you from experience that most share some very common traits, and all exercise an incredibly dangerous power over their members.
The term “Christianity” has unfortunately been given a tremendous black eye over the centuries. Christianity (meaning Christ like or “little Christs”) has indeed been the spearhead of much war and bloodshed, all because religious or denominational attitudes have over-shadowed the main principle of “love thy neighbor” and teachings of peace to the hearts of sinful man. Today, many who call themselves “Christians” do not at all follow the teachings and biblical instructions of Jesus Christ. Cults have formed which pervert the truths of Christ and lead people instead into the abyss of spiritual ignorance.
The first rule of cultism is to deprive converts of free thought. They want to manipulate and control, in that way; doctrinal debate is virtually eliminated. Their beliefs are extremely rigid, so that any in disagreement with, or outside of those beliefs become enemies. Cult members are taught that only those belonging to their particular denomination or congregation will go to heaven. They either build their entire theology around a select few, isolated, or “out of context” portions of biblical scripture; or, they use the writings of another “book” to replace or supplement the words of the Holy Bible to support their weak, contrived ideologies. Such distortions are forbidden by God’s words in Revelation 22:18-19, and earn God’s curse of eternal damnation,…. Hell (Galatians 1:8 and 9).
Sometimes, cult doctrines will accept certain teachings from the Holy Bible, yet ignore or diminish others (a violation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Revelation 22:19), in so doing, they deny God’s power and sovereignty over His word, insinuating that He could not, or would not protect the integrity of His words. They conveniently forget or even refute the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, so declaring as a lie the very words of Jesus in (John 14:26), again bringing God’s damnation upon themselves (Matthew 12:31).
There are other cults who avoid the writings of the Bible all together, or try to minimize it to the level of mere “literature”. They rely instead on the interpretation or thoughts of the cult leader, believing that he alone can interpret the meanings of scripture. This again denies (blasphemes) God’s Holy Spirit and His divine work (Matthew 12:32), as our personal teacher, guide and counselor (John 14:26, Acts 1:2, Romans 8:9 and John 16:7-13) on this earth. God purposefully made the message of salvation simple, so any individual (even the most primitive or uneducated) who could read, or after help to read, could then easily understand.
Following any person’s conversion to Christianity, God desires that person not only read, but also meditate daily on His words. Each new Christian is endowed with God’s own presence (His Holy Spirit) who teaches and leads the Christian into all truth, individually, in conjunction with his own freedom of thought. Granted, God does also speak through the ministry of Pastors and leaders to direct, encourage and guide topics and courses in Bible study, but not to the interference of free thought and never preferential to the personal and individual reading of the Holy Scriptures themselves.
Some cults further choose to manipulate the free thought of their members by restricting them to one preferred version of the Bible. Most usually, they select a version that has the most difficult terminology, making it easier to twist it’s words to accommodate their radical beliefs. As an example, the King James Version, although undoubtedly the most accurate to the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts, is somewhat more difficult to understand, especially to the new convert to Christianity in this modern time. The reality is, that at the time of any person’s sincere conversion to Christianity and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, he or she is indwelled with God’s Holy Spirit (teacher, counselor, instructor, conscience and guide), the very Author of the Bible, to guide them into all truth (John 16:13). God promised to never leave or forsake Christians (Hebrews 13:5), so His Holy Spirit will continue to guide and steer them from error as they sincerely seek God’s truth. Christians need to always remember, the divinity is not in the book, but in it’s Author! If God’s children (by prayer) seek the instruction of the Holy Spirit before reading any translation of the Bible, God will use that particular translation or wording to personally and individually teach and communicate with that Christian (right where they are) according to the degree of their spiritual maturity and reading comprehension (Romans 8:28).
It was never God’s intent for His holy words to be “nibbled” on, or picked at like a smorgasbord, but rather to be studied (Psalm 119:97) and meditated on day and night, it’s precepts incorporated into our lives. The Bible is one finished and complete whole, made up of many books. It is it’s own interpreter under direction of God’s Holy Spirit and should never be added to or subtracted from (Revelation 22:18-19 and 2 Timothy 3:16).
Most cults elevate one human person (pastor, leader, etc.) to a place of infallibility, proclaiming them to be above reproach (in conflict with Psalms 118:8 –9) and causing members to isolate themselves from any other information or viewpoint. They become exclusive, proclaiming to be the “chosen” in violation of Scripture in (Romans 2:11 and John 10:16). They then follow their leaders like lambs to the slaughter, stripped of free thought and ripe for the shearing.
In conclusion, let me just say, if you should visit ANY church and hear them proclaim their congregation or denomination to be the only way to heaven,…..my advice is for you to immediately head for the nearest exit because, Jesus declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6 –KJV). Salvation is not a matter of denomination,….it’s a decision of the heart (Luke 17:21),…. it’s not a doctrine, it’s a relationship!