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  • Writer's pictureKent Brandenburg

What Is a Cult?

You have heard the term “cult” used to apply to particular religious denominations. When someone says, “cult,” what word comes to mind? Maybe you think, “Mormons,” or “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” These are false religions, but what moves them into a “cult” category? I wouldn’t disagree they’re cults.

Certain dictionary definition emerges significant. Cult doctrine contradicts biblical, historical norms, as to divide from an orthodox trajectory. Also, its start proceeds from strong influence of a charismatic leader or leaders. It’s comparably new and appeared in a sudden way. Many contemporary cults started during the 19th century in the United States at a time of unusual mysticism. A leader reports that God revealed to him that all religion left the original belief, so God was restoring it right then.

Cult leaders depend on odd interpretations. They introduce novel positions contrary to a grammatical-historical reading of the Bible. What unique groups arose in the 19th century? Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientism, Seventh Day Adventism, Church of Christ, Christian Church, and all forms of Pentecostalism (1901 and later). They all conflict with Jesus’ promise of the perpetuity of His church (Matthew 16:18). All of them preach a different gospel.

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