The general definition of the word “cult” comes from the Latin cultus (colere), which means “worship of deity.” Many different religions of the world have cults, but we will talk specifically about the cults of Christianity. In Christianity, cults are those groups that claim to follow Christ but have unbiblical doctrines and practices. A cult may claim to believe that the Bible is the authority, but the right to interpretation and implementation of application falls under the cult leader’s control. Members then are at the mercy of the leader’s manipulation and authority concerning their belief system, what to wear, mindsets, lifestyle, and direction. It often puts the members’ lives at risk or into willful slavery.
Many of the Apostle Paul’s epistles contain a warning, reprimand, and defense against various deviant beliefs. In Galatians 1:6-9, he sharply admonishes any perversion of the Gospel that has already been preached, even if it’s from him, the other apostles, or an angel.
Cults violate most, if not all, of the essential doctrines of Christianity, such as through:
- An unbiblical or legalistic view about salvation – They add works to what Christ has already accomplished on the cross (Galatians 3:10-14). Most do not recognize that our salvation hinges exclusively on Christ, and it is only received through faith in Him.
- A heretical understanding of the Trinity – They pervert the nature and role of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; embracing either Arian subordinationism or Sabellian modalism. Others even believe in pagan tritheism or binitarianism—separating the Godhead into three or two divine and distinct persons. The Trinity should be co-eternal, co-existent, and co-equal but as one God, not three. (1 Peter 1:2, Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:)
- An erroneous belief about the divinity and humanity of Christ – This could be that Jesus is a created being, He is the brother of satan, He is half god and half human, or He is only a man or is a man that later obtained godhood. If Jesus is not fully man, then He cannot represent fallen man on the cross. If He is not fully God, then His sacrifice was not enough to wipe away all our sins. Jesus is fully God and fully man.
- Alterations of the Bible and faulty hermeneutics – They add or remove scriptures or books in the canonized Bible and have not properly interpreted the Bible based on its context. (Revelations 22:18-19, Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.)
- Cult leaders who, in some cases, claim to be the second coming of Christ – Jesus already warned us about these false Christs (Mark 13:5-6, 21-22) and that we should not be deceived by them. And He was also clear about how He will come back—it will be so obvious because it will be in great power and glory (Mark 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.).
The work of Christ on the cross for our salvation is finished, and it cannot be matched or substituted by anything else. His nature and identity are essential to our faith and cannot be perverted in any way. Every time we are confronted with a certain belief, we should test it according to the authoritative and exclusive claim of Jesus as THE only way, THE only truth, and THE only life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.).