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Wednesday, September 7 2011
Is Your Church A Cult?
Although some have assumed that "cult" is an abbreviated form of "culture," they are in fact independent words in literal usage. According to The Consolidated Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary, the English word "culture" originated from the Latin word cultura which means to till (i.e. to cultivate), while the English word "cult" originated from the Latin word cultus which means to worship, or a system of worship.
The WordWeb Dictionary by Princeton University defines a "cult" as "Adherents of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices; An interest followed with exaggerated zeal; A system of religious beliefs and rituals."
What is it that makes a "cult" unhealthy and unrighteous? Is the "to worship" part of the definition bad? No, not if it correctly and wholly (i.e. the entire Bible, not just a few selected verses, or some favorite doctrine that someone has started to idolize) adheres to the Word of God. Is "a system of religious beliefs and rituals" bad? No, not if it correctly and wholly (again, the entire Bible, not just a few selected verses, or some favorite doctrine that someone has started to idolize) adheres to the Word of God.
Genuine Bible-based worship and system of religious beliefs are not bad. But let's consider the extremist parts of the definition - "an exclusive system" and "exaggerated zeal." The Holy Bible (see also Holy Bible Reading Plan) definitely says that a "cult" of that sort is very wrong.
Has Your "Religion" Become Your Religion?
True Christianity is not a hidden or closed-door "exclusive system," as the apostle Paul encountered, for example, when the Galatians were becoming cultic - and therefore blinding themselves to the whole Truth:
"4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? 4:17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them." (Galatians 4:16-17 KJV).
The Gospel of The Kingdom of God is to be preached to the whole world (i.e. the genuine wholesome Gospel), to people of all nations, not just to a few people in the present day who claim to be "special," or to have some "new truth" (a doctrine invented by some human) - as though every Christian who ever lived before them, but "didn't have a clue" about their new or exaggerated doctrine, will not be saved. No one has the right to claim personalized righteousness.
"24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations" (Matthew 24:14 KJV)
True Christianity is not about "exaggerated zeal" i.e. swaggering (whether physically or psychologically) arrogance.
"1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God." (3 John 1:9-11 KJV)
As shown in the example above with Diotrephes, Christian cults are often created by people who have replaced Jesus Christ with some mere human, or some mere human's self-righteous ideas and interpretations - most of the time without even realizing that they've done it. The apostle Paul, who was one of the greatest Christians that ever lived, warned against "personality cults" - being led by the spirit of a man rather than the Spirit of God.
"1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Christian cults can also be formed from "strifes of words" - a wide-ranging term that can sometimes (if taken to unhealthy and unrighteous extremes) include anything from what "speaking in tongues" really means (see The Origin Of Speaking In Tongues) to the present-day "Sacred Name movement" that was started by a tiny group only in the 1930s (what about all of the true Christian people who lived before 1930?). Cults don't happen from honest and respectful disagreement; cults happen by people who haughtily put themselves and their ideas above everyone else.
"6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:4-6 KJV)
Cults are a product of carnal-minded people who seek greatness for themselves, by ignoring the greatness of God.
"3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Fact Finder: How does a religion become a cult?
This Day In History, September 7
70: The Romans under Titus occupied and plundered Jerusalem (see What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?).
1087: Norman King William I, known as "William the Conqueror," died. He was also instigator of the Domesday book, the first exhaustive survey of England.
1533: Queen Elizabeth I of England was born. The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, her reign began with the defeat of the Spanish Armada. During her time, Britain rose to international power and prominence, beginning colonization which led to its worldwide empire over the next 400 years. A golden age for Britain, Elizabeth's contemporaries were the likes of Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake, John Hawkins, Martin Frobisher and many others.
1543: Mary, Queen of Scots was coronated.
1630: The town of Trimontaine, Massachusetts, was renamed Boston.
1714: The Treaty of Badan was signed. It was one of the Treaties included in the Peace of Utrecht which ended the War of The Spanish Succession.
1812: Russian forces retreated from the army of Napoleon after the Battle of Borodino, near Moscow. Like Adolf Hitler 130 years later however, the invaders were eventually "stopped cold" by the Russian winter.
1822: Brazil declared independence from Portugal.
1860 "Red Shirt" forces under Giuseppe Garibaldi took Naples. The victory permitted Victor Emmanuel to become king of Italy.
1867: Adolphus abdicated as duke of Nassau and was granted 8.5 million thalers (origin of "dollars") and a few castles as compensation.
1940: During the Second World War, the Nazi "Blitz" of London began. The city was heavily bombed for 57 consecutive nights.
1953: Nikita Khrushchev became the leader of the Soviet Union.
1979: The Chrysler Corporation requested $1.5 billion from the U.S. government to avoid bankruptcy.
1986: Bishop Desmond Tutu was enthroned as Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. He was the first black head of South Africa's Anglicans.
1988: Abdul Ahad Mohmand, the first Afghan in space, returned to earth aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-5 after 9 days on the Mir space station.
1999: A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck Athens, Greece. Over 140 people were killed, 500 injured and 50,000 people had their homes destroyed.
2004: Hurricane Ivan killed 39 people on Grenada and destroyed 90% of the buildings on the island.