“But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.” Act 28:22.
The early morning church was no stranger to persecutions and slanders. It has been the common lot of the followers of Jesus Christ to be spoken against. “There is nothing new under the sun.” If you are indeed a child of God, you need expect no less in this generation. Jesus faithfully forewarned us: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”
1 John 3:13. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18.
Not being above our Master, God’s true church in this day should not marvel when it is spoken against as some heretical sect, or, to use the verbiage of our day, cult.
We have self-acclaimed “cult experts” who, having no concept of the New Testament church, run about measuring by the mishmash of mainstream religion (thinking it the standard of Christian orthodoxy), rather than the Word of God, and come running with a ready shout of “Cult! Cult!” for that which deviates from the ecumenical flow. Hence, they only prove their unfamiliarity with the scriptures and confirm their spiritual blindness.
Oh, the irony of it all–while these “cult masters” think themselves defenders of the faith and protectors of orthodoxy, the very arguments they use incriminate the early morning church as being a cult! What, the New Testament church, a cult? Well, according to some of the common “marks of a cult” by professed experts, it is amazing how it fits the criterion. Let us consider a few.
Cults are little groups that have split off.
Jesus was presumed a rebel that split off of the established religion of His day. Paul split off from the Pharisees. Luther split off from the unbiblical Catholic sect. Are we to believe these were cultic actions? We all know better than that.
If someone were to leave a denomination after learning that their practices were unbiblical and then join with a body of believers whose practices were biblical, does this “split off” make them now a cult member? If so, the apostles never should have left traditional Judaism.
Furthermore, why does the Bible instruct those who find themselves where there is a mixture of light and darkness, righteousness and unrighteousness (this description fits denominationalism), to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 2 Cor. 6:17. “Little groups” through the course of church history have obeyed these biblical injunctions to “split off.” Rev. 18:4 also declares that God’s true people must come out (split off) of such places or be in spiritual danger of His judgments if they stay.
To say that cults are little groups that have split off is a sweeping statement which could label many groups or individuals.
And let us remember that Jesus Himself said that many would go in the broad way to destruction, while there would be few that find the narrow way which leads to life. In Luke 12:32, He refers to His people as a little flock.
Cults deviate from orthodox Christianity (Mainstream Christianity).
There is a problem here. I realize that “mainstream Christianity” is popular, but orthodox? Compare it to the New Testament church of the scriptures. It bears no resemblance. The divisions in the body that the Bible condemns, they promote, thus scattering the flock of the Lord who He prayed would be one. And not only one in their physical gatherings, but one in doctrine, faith, all speaking the same thing and of the same mind (1 Cor. 1:10).
People today have no vision of the biblical church. It is foreign to them. Hence, how can they judge what is orthodoxy? Just because the majority are blinded by sectism does not make them right or the measure to go by. An honest and careful reading of the scriptures will prove that it is actually “mainstream Christianity” that has deviated from orthodox Christianity!
Consider also that Jesus and His disciples were deemed a deviation from the accepted religious norm of their time.
Cults control and manipulate their people.
Well, the apostle Paul would be clashing today with our “cult experts.” Hear how “controlling” he was and how he “manipulated” the people with his teaching:
“And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.” 2 Thess. 3:4.
“These things command and teach.” 1 Tim. 4:11.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls…Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints…” Heb. 13:17, 24.
These few examples will suffice.
Any reasonable, thinking person understands the principle which works in any religious group or even a secular business or club. There is a set of rules, a mode of operation, and leaders who enforce them for the proper functioning of business.
Far too easily good people are slandered as deviate when they are following proper Bible rule.
Cults say that no one else has the truth.
Well, now the apostle John is in trouble with our cult casters! He showed no tolerance for other groups! “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19. Talk about being exclusive!
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 1:9-11. Could speech be any plainer?
The apostle Paul was just as exclusive: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Gal. 1:8. Were this “intolerant, narrow-minded” apostle to show up on the scene today, you could be sure he would make the list as a ringleader of a cult, just as it seems he did in his day (Act 24:5).
If any true minister of God today spoke as did these two brothers, we know what they would be classed as!
Am I saying there is no such thing as a bonafide cult? No. I believe there is such a thing. I’ve not forgotten Jim Jones or such like. I also realize there are religious groups that are indeed cults. I am only saying that there is a trend to throw about the epithet of “cult” very readily today, with no biblical claims to back it up, hence slandering many a sincere child of God. It would further seem that the more one resembles the biblical pattern of the early morning church, the more likely it will be they will receive the appellation of cult.