Monday, March 3, 2014

Avoid religious cults

This time, someone writes to Billy Graham unsure of joining a friends church because they fear it may be a cult. You don't say...
QUESTION: How can I know whether or not a group is a cult? A woman in my office keeps trying to get me to go with her to her religious assembly, but I don’t know anything about it. I didn’t come from a religious family, but I know I need God. — Mrs. L.F.H.
No, Mrs LFH does not 'need' God. She may think she does. But any purported benefits claimed to be received from religion can easily be found elsewhere. I will say that avoiding cults would certainly be a good idea though.
ANSWER: I’m thankful you know you need to have God in your life, and I hope you won’t let anything take away that desire. Jesus’ promise is for you: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). You’re wise, however, to want to avoid any group that might be a cult – because they will lead you away from God instead of toward Him. How can you tell? One way is to find out if the members think that they, and they alone, have all the truth about God. To put it another way, most cults teach that every other church is wrong, and they alone are right. Most cults, incidentally, are of relatively recent origin.

The real issue, however, is what a group teaches about Jesus. Do they see Him as both fully God and fully man? Most cults don’t, but the Bible does. Do they teach that because of His death and resurrection we can be saved as we put our faith and trust in Him? Most cults don’t , but the Bible does. The most important thing I can tell you, however, is that you can come to God right now! God loves you and sent His Son into the world to die for you. Ask Christ to come into your life today, and then seek out a church where Christ is central and the Bible is taught.
So a cult church thinks they are the are  right and all others are wrong? Cults also teach different things about Jesus and what the Bible says? Congratulations, but Graham has just described just about every Christian church there is. Every denomination differs from every other denomination one way or another. Remember, there are about 41,000 different 'versions' of Christianity. Some differences are minimal, and some are much larger.

Which of God's laws still have to be obeyed? Different interpretations of Bible passages. Was Jesus God and his son, or just his son? How is the proper way to worship? Bible only, or can they look elsewhere for inspiration as well? Who is it okay to associate with? Who is capable of salvation? Are gays welcome or damned? Can non-believers be forgiven? The list goes on and on. But one thing is the same with them all. They all think that their denomination is the only one that has all of it right. In short, every Christian sect meets Grahams definition of a cult.

But what is a cult really?
A cult is a religious group or other organization with deviant and novel beliefs and practices.However, whether any particular group's beliefs are sufficiently deviant or novel enough to be considered a cult is often unclear, and thus establishing a precise definition of cults is problematic. The term 'cult' was originally used to describe a group of people who worshiped a deity.
 A religious group with deviant and novel beliefs? Well, Christianity fits that bill in general. It's a religious group that celebrates and glorifies a bloody human sacrifice. I consider celebrating human sacrifice as quite deviant. It goes a step further with Catholicism. When I was a Catholic, we were taught that the wine and wafer in Communion literally becomes the blood and body of Christ. So you can also add vampirism and cannibalism to the list. If that isn't cult-like deviant behavior, I don't
know what is.

So I agree with Billy Graham on this one. Stay away from cults at all costs. By his definition, Christian churches are cults (as well as other churches), and the accepted definition doesn't help his case much either. So avoid cults by avoiding Christianity.

-Brain Hulk

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  1. mate, you need to do a liiiiiittle more research on what a cult really is. I just left a group that, within 10 years in my estimation, will be found out to be one. I was brought up in it, and it took an incredible amount of defiance, courage and bullheadedness to get out. Not only did I have no choice in joining despite the appearance of it, but I was forced to remain in it under the threat of losing my faith, the worst possible thing-- but worse than that, the certainty that upon leaving, I would see my life become utterly rubbish. I would be possessed by the devil without even knowing. So many times was I, and others in this community, subjected to nasty mind controlling practices that have left me emotionally scarred, and created massive divides in my family. Abuse was excused, and encouraged to be tolerated. Mainstream religions don't largely work like that. Trust me.

    1. I'm sorry to hear that you've had quite a bad experience with being brought up in a religious cult. But I'm glad that you have escaped.

      But do tell me where I went wrong in my reasoning. I started by pointing out that Billy Graham's definition of a cult would actually include the very religion he belongs to.

      Later I compared the book definition of 'cult' and showed that by that definition Christianity is also a cult. You really shouldn't have an issue with me, as I was just following the definitions and making logical comparisons/conclusions.

      Granted, some cults are worse and more obvious than others. Some simply fit the basic definition of a cult and the association goes largely unnoticed. Then there are cults like you escaped from that are much worse and much more obvious. You see, the kind of cult you escaped from isn't the only kind there is. So perhaps I'm not the one that needs to do a little more research.

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