Cult…a word that conjures images of suspicious glasses of Kool-Aid and black Nikes. But not all cults are centered around UFOs and pentagram tattoos. Many claim Christ as the motivation and foundation of their beliefs and organization. Some have claimed to be Christ returned. And nearly all claim the Bible as the holy text guiding their practices. Cults convince people to abandon their families, sell their homes, subject women and children to sexual abuse, give up technology, give up personal freedom, and in some cases, give up their lives.
The Branch Davidians believed David Koresh was the messiah, all women were his spiritual wives, and an armed compound was needed to prepare for the end of the world. It was at the compound that a 51 say siege with the ATF ended the lives of 77 followers.
Heaven’s Gate began with believing that founders Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles were the “two witnesses” prophesied in Revelation 11:3. It ended with 39 people committing group suicide in hopes of reaching a spaceship…their eternal resting place.
Unification Church was founded by Sun Myung Moon. He claimed that God sent him a vision when he was 16 that Jesus Christ did not finish his work of making “perfect children” and he was called to continue the work. He decreed that all spouses in his church had to be chosen by him and only after 7 years. His mass wedding ceremonies were notorious. He died in 2010 but the church continues on today.
World Mission Society Church of God believes the second coming of Christ already happened with the birth of their founder, Ahn Sahng-hong. They also insist there is also a “god the mother”, who they believe is currently incarnate as Zang Gil-Jah, the widow of the now deceased Ahn Sahng-hong. They have been accused and charged with everything from harassment to kidnapping by their ex-followers. The organization is currently reporting 1.7 million followers in 150 countries.
I know what you’re thinking…what’s wrong with these people? Who would follow these leaders and believe these lies? The answer. Anyone. Even you and I.
I have viewed and read numerous testimonies from ex-followers of pseudo-Christian cults and there is a recurring theme: people captivated by the lies of human philosophies and not the true words and person of Jesus Christ. For example, did you know Jim Jones, the infamous leader of the tragic Jonestown massacre, with his cult founded a racially integrated church in the 1960s Indiana (unheard of at the time), preached racial equality and justice, and operated free social and medical programs for the needy. My point is that any of us are susceptible to being drawn in to the sound and look of an appealing belief that is actually anti-Christ if we don’t take time to pay attention and study the Bible ourselves. It could even happen in our own churches. That’s why the Bible warns us to:
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)
Here’s a quick 2 min video about how to recognize a cult…
Sync a little deeper…
Why do you think Christians join cults?
If someone asked you, how would you explain the difference between a real Christian church and a cult?
How are you guarding yourself from being “captivated” by philosophy and empty deceit?
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