Challenging the Cults



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Challenging the Cults

1. Essential Christianity

2. History of the Cults

3. Rise of Islam

4. Answering Muslims

5. History of Jehovah Witnesses

6. Answering Jehovah Witnesses

7. History of Mormonism

8. Answering Mormonism

9. History of the New Age

10. Answering the New Age

11. History of Buddhism

12. Answering Buddhism


Introduction to the Cults

Kim Il Sung 2nd, Leader of North Korea




What is a Cult

 Defining a cult can be a difficult task.  One person’s cult is another person’s truth.  To many Roman’s of the first century Belief in Jesus was considered a superstitious cult. Tacitus wrote about the first century Christians,


To dispel the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits, and treated with the most extreme punishments, some people, popularly known as Christians, whose disgraceful activities were notorious. The originator of that name, Christus, had been executed when Tiberius was emperor, by order of the procurator Pontius Pilatus. But the deadly cult, though checked for a time, was now breaking out again not only in Judea, the birthplace of this evil, but even throughout Rome,

Tacitus 109 AD


Today many Jews consider any Jewish person joining “Jews for Jesus” or becoming a Christian as joining a cult.   So just how do we know what a Cult is?


The word cult[1] is from the Latin word “Cultus” meaning to care or adoration derived from the word “Colere” to cultivate.  The word “Culture” is related to the same root meaning to cultivate.  The leader of North Korea, Kim IL Sung 2ND is worshipped by North Korea, even though the country is officially atheist. 

The question of what is a cult ultimately gets down to what is “Truth”. If someone feels hope in the worship of a statue, then to them the issue rescue or salvation.  People put there hope in where they feel they will have escape.  To the North Korean, who is faced with execution for not bowing to Kim IL Sung, he or she will gladly bow and cower before an image if it means they can live the next day.  But to the Christian in North Korea, who would rather be tortured and die then reject Christ, they know there is no hope in the state or the statue of a man.  What is real? Who is God?  And what is truth? Are all related questions.

            The early Christians were given a choice they could live and worship Caesar or be killed. Polycarp after he was taken by the Romans at an old age was asked by the Pro-council to reproach Christ and live. Polycarp answered,

 “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?”[2]

 Polycarp believed and trusted in Christ, he was burned at the stake.  He thought about the Jesus he served, he knew this life was not the end but just the start of eternity. The same is true with many Christians who choose death over submission to national cults and religions. 

Christianity and the Cults

Christianity is not a religion based on emotion or culture. Christianity is based on “Truth” what is real. This “Truth” is confirmed in logic, facts and history.  Jesus Christ was an historical figure who was crucified and rose from the dead. His death and resurrection were witnessed and attested to by over 500 at once. Paul writes,

3For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

I Corinthians 15: 3-6

The non-believing Romans even wrote about this belief in Christ’s resurrection that was spreading throughout the Empire, as Tacitus wrote in the first century.

The month and year of Christ rejection and death were also foretold in the book of Daniel, including the additional details of the Temple and Jerusalem’s destruction after his rejection by Israel.[3]  Jesus also fulfilled the prophecies regarding his identity recorded hundreds of years before his birth demonstrating to those looking for evidence about his identity recorded in the scriptures.


The Bible and Cults

 Anything where an individual put his or her hope and is willing to invest adoration from the Bible’s perspective is idolatrous.  The adoration of Idols is the same meaning behind “cult” in the Latin root, “Cultus" meaning to adoration.  Isaiah writes about the vanity in idol construction,

 10             Who would form a god or mold an image That profits him nothing?12    The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals, Fashions it with hammers, And works it with the strength of his arms. Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails; He drinks no water and is faint.13    The craftsman stretches out his rule, He marks one out with chalk; He fashions it with a plane, He marks it out with the compass, And makes it like the figure of a man,………..   He falls down before it and worships it,   Prays to it and says  “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
Isaiah 44:10-13,17b

 In a biblical sense, a cult is akin to “Idol Worship”, the worship of the man made. A cult is a man made religion, not according Biblical truth.  Since Biblical Christianity is the “Truth”, and the distortion of this truth is not of God, but man and ultimately Satan. Paul writes,

 13For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15

 Using orthodox Christianity as a standard of truth, Dr. Walter Martin defines a cult as,

 A cult, then is a group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ.[4]

 What are the characteristics of a cult?

 From a biblical perspective many of the “Things” the world’s puts trust and hope in are idolatrous in nature. The Bible consistently warns against putting hope in the vain things of this world.

In particular, cults derived from a perversion of the Gospel by false apostles are nothing less then Satanic in their source. Most of these cults have distinct characteristics which allow them to be identified[5].

  1. New Truth Mohammed introduced the idea that it was Ishmael and not Isaac was taken to the top of Mt. Moriah. Mohammed was born in 572 AD the event took place 2100 BC.  Twenty six centuries after the event “New Truth” has been introduced. 

The same can be said of Mormonism that introduced the idea that after Jesus’ resurrection that Jesus did not go to heaven but came to America and spoke to the Indians.

  1. New Interpretations of Scripture   Many cults will change literal meaning of scripture to apply to their own particular purposes. The Jehovah Witnesses for example claim the 144,000 spoken of in the book of Revelation is not speaking of Jews, even though it says Jews, but of Jehovah Witnesses who were gathered in NY most of whom are dead today.
  2. A-Non Biblical Source of Authority    One characteristic in many cults is the need for a non-biblical source of authority. Most time this is the current or founding prophet’s writings or saying.  These writing for the most part will give the Bible lip-service and place it secondary to their revelation which supersedes the Scriptures.

The Muslims have the Quran, and though many might say the Bible is God’s word they will claim it is corrupt and can only be used to support the Quran. 

The Mormons also have 3 additional books to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and the Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, all of which are considered superior to the Bible.

  1. Another Jesus The cults Jesus is always a different Jesus then in the Bible. The Jesus of the Jehovah Witnesses is a created Angel, Not God who is to be worshipped. The Mormon Jesus is the brother of Satan and the product of sexual relations between Elohim  and Mary.
  2. Rejection of Orthodox Christianity Another character of cults is their attack on orthodox Christianity. In their claim of “New Revelation” they will attack church as corrupt and departing from the “Truth”, hence the necessisity for their groups arrival.
  3. Double Talk The cults also disguise their real beliefs behind familiar sounding words with completely different meanings.  The word God in Mormonism is the belief in an endless multitude of gods, including a God over God the Father and God over the God of Father. 
  4. Non-biblical teaching on the nature of God (Trinity) The Trinitarian view of God is also a prime target for Cults. This often labeled as pagan in origin.
  5. Changing Theology The theology of Cults is in a constant state of change as new prophecies override old ones.  Polygamy was once considered a command by God for Mormon. But to be accepted as a state Utah needed to renounce the act and prophecy was revealed removing it.
  6. Strong Leadership Strong dictatorial leadership is another characteristic of cults where people are given instructions on what to wear and how to interact with the world by their leader.

     10.  Salvation by works All cults are works oriented.  They tend to focus on accepting the prophet and the organization as the source of all truth and the need to activity work in its promotion for salvation.  The Gospel, of salvation by “Faith alone” in Christ is totally absent.

      11. False Prophecy…One area that clearly demonstrates the false nature of “Cults” is their propensity for false prophecies.  Since many really believe God is speaking through them they have tendency to foretell and proclaim events that do not happen.   The Jehovah Witnesses under Rutherford’s leadership built a house called “Beth Sarim” (House of the princes) in the early 1930’s because the princes, (David, Abraham and Joseph) would be returning and they would live in this house in San Diego, where Judge Rutherford was living waiting for their soon return.

Joseph Smith had also prophesied about men on the Moon who looked like Quakers, were 6 feet tall and lived to be a thousand years old.

            By using the Test of a Prophet many of these false prophets and their organizations  can be exposed the lost freed.




[1] Etymology: French culte, from Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate— more at wheel

Date: 1617 1 : formal religious veneration : worship 2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents

3 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents


[2] Fox’s book of Martyrs, Chapter 2, The Ten Primitive Persecutions

[4]  Walter Martin, The Rise of the Cults, pg. 12

[5] Handbook of Today’s Religion, Chapter 2, Pgs. 20-25, Campus Crusade for Christ 1992