Monday, October 29, 2012

Are You In A Cult?

Cult:   1. a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. 
             2. a person or thing that is popular or fashionable, esp. among a particular section of society.
               3. a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

Matthew 16:18, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
*Note: When the author renders the word 'Church' as seen, he is referring to our modern day, Main-Stream, Corporate Entity Institutional 'Church' System we are all familiar with. When he renders the word church in all lower case letters, he is referring to Christ's Authentic, Legitimate, Organic Home Based assembly, which He continues to build.

After fifteen years in an Institutional style of 'Church,' someone I know told me of a recent conversation he had with one of the elderly ladies whom he used to minister to. He had withdrawn himself and his family from this 'Church' to join with an organic home-based church for several reasons. The lady was a part of a Seniors Class of about thirty or more of which this man was the Teacher. He still loves these seniors and is a kind, giving and a true friend to them all. These are folks who have experienced the Golden Age of our American culture. They were raised to believe in God, the golden rule and the American way. They are often referred to as "the greatest generation." The 'Church' they belong to is an Independent Fundamental Baptist 'Church' (IFBC). These are good, hard working seniors who believe that the only way to heaven is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I say, "Amen to that!"

Understandably, these seniors were perplexed as to why my friend would leave them after five years of service as their teacher. The elderly lady spoke candidly with him after attending one of his home based church meetings and said, "Myself and others in our Senior Group at 'Church' think you're in a cult." In response, my friend said, "Ma'am, let me ask you some questions. Isn't a cult someplace one goes to that defines who they are as a member? If one were a Jehovah's Witness for instance, wouldn't he go to and follow the rituals and practices of the Watchtower & Tract Society? Wouldn't he embrace the characteristics of those he associates with? Wouldn't he blend in by becoming one of them, and wouldn't he have absolute blind obedience to his leaders?" She answered, "Yes. That sounds like a cult to me!"

He went on and said, "Now, you've been at your 'Church' for many years and you have been to only two of my home fellowships. When you go to your 'Church,' do they tell you when to attend class, when to go to the main worship service, when to sit, when to stand, when to sing, when to listen, when you can ask a question, what part you can play in participation, whom you're to listen to for instruction, who are in authority over you to obey, make sure that you are there every time the doors are open and where and how much you should give of your time, money and effort?" She replied, "Come to think of it, yes." He said, "In our American culture we have adopted a way that we experience 'Church' by doing all of the things I just mentioned, am I right? "Yes," came her answer.

"Now, you've been to two of my home based assembly fellowships. Did you see us do any of those things?" She said, "Well," He continued, "So, what we do in our Home church is a lot different than what you traditionally experience in your 'Church' format, right?" She replied, "Yes. It's a lot different. Things were still done decently and in order. The Scriptures are taught correctly. There is no 'One Man Show.' There were no collection plates passed around. No hustle and bustle to be somewhere and get a 'job' done. It was refreshing, actually."

He said, "So, in today's American 'Church' culture, people traditionally perform the same liturgy that is commonplace all across this country no matter the denomination, correct?" "Basically," she said. He went on, "So, the Main-Stream, Institutional 'Church' System we have come to know has become a major part of our culture, right?" "Yes. What are you driving at?" she replied. He said, "Do me a favor, won't you?" She answered, "Okay..." He said, "Out load, spell the word, 'culture." She began, "C,...U...L...T...," He interrupted her and said, "STOP! What did you just spell?" Her mouth dropped open and said, "Cult." He gently said, "That's right... Cult. Now, which of the two church models exhibits the characteristics of a cult; the Institutional model we've been a part of for so many years or the home based model?" It was as though she had been stunned.1

In our culture, the modern day, man made, traditional, business corporate entity, Institutional 'Church' of any flavor, by definition could be considered a cult. The Main-Stream 'Church' is widely accepted as a major thread in the fabric of our society. The key word to focus upon is, 'society,' which points us to look at 'social groups.' Another word connected to 'social groups' is 'culture.' The first word that make up the word for 'culture' is, of course, 'cult.' If we blend all of the activities we've seen above on a consistent basis, we may be engaging in a cult. I always thought that a cult was any teaching apart from those who teach anything other than salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and that this view came from a very small segment of our society. I always limited the definition of a cult within those parameters. Do you know something? I was mistaken. Even if a 'Church' teaches the Plan of Salvation correctly, it can still exhibit the earmarks of a cult.

Some might ask, "Are you saying that born again saints can be in a cult and not know it?" I'll give us a personal account of that very situation. I know a woman who got saved as a late teen and was faithful in 'Church' for about a year. She went off to the armed forces for awhile and came back in her early twenties. She soon met a young man, fell in love and married. He was a strong member in the Latter Day Saints cult. Not knowing her Bible very well she was easily swayed into Mormonism. Many saved Baptists who are disgruntled, lonely or just plain ignorant of sound doctrine slide into cults such as Jehovah's Witness, Mormonism and others. My point is that there are many saved people in many different denominational systems, even some cults, that are unawares that they are into something not approved by their Saviour. If we truly know the difference between Christ's authentic church model (Organic church) and the man made Institutional 'Church' System (an Organization), we'd see immediately that anything apart from Christ's design is not legitimate. He only created one church. He didn't give us a variety of styles to choose from. Anything other than His design is a deception and therefore a cult. The people within just may not realize it, because so many around them are in agreement with the deception. Sadly, its the old case of the blind leading the blind.

Every Institutional 'Church' has it's own way of doing things that are supposed to be Bible centered in some way; but, that doesn't mean that the Bible is presented correctly all or even most of the time. Many a pastor has steered his congregation into deep waters without a life jacket by leading the charge with a convicting, "Thus saith the LORD!" and then sail their ship into a tempest. They do so every Sunday when they preach about tithing or service. There is always a constant reminder of our responsibilities toward the 'Church.' As Mr. Spock once said to Captain Kirk, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,...or the one." Joseph Smith and Brigham Young steered their ships using the same line. Jim Jones and Charles Taze Russell did too. So do many fundamentalist pastors and preachers today. Some are correct on the Gospel, but many other denominations have added their own spin to it. Either way, both groups are guilty of leading a cult in one fashion or another.

Our society has been manipulated by the main stream media into thinking that a cult is a small group of crazies that Program their followers into blind obedience and service. The followers of these men have become Programmed and are in need of De-Programming. In the extreme sense, this is true. How many times have we seen the news sensationalize cultists like Charles Manson, Jim Jones and others as blood thirsty, perverse, self-appointed god figureheads? Did the media portray these men accurately? Yes. But do they always report accurately? No. They omit many a cultist from their stories. Other than Hinduism or Buddhism, the Roman Catholic 'Church' System is the largest cult in the world. See my post, 'I Was A Religious Drunk' for more on Catholicism. When is the last time we've read about the Roman Catholic Institution, or for that matter Hinduism or Buddhism as being referred to as a cult? The main stream media refrains from doing so because so many of its members belong to some of those groups, and those who are currently popular and have a following are known enthusiasts of one cult or another.

No one in the mainstream media would label Michael Jordan or his former NBA coach Phil Jackson a cultist even though they are well known Buddhists. It is common knowledge that singer Michael Jackson was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, Muhammad Ali is a Muslim, that Tom Cruise is a student of Scientology, and that Barack H. Obama had an upbringing in a combination of Muslim, Catholic, Buddhism and United Church of Christ (which is the first so-called Christian 'Church' to believe in same sex marriage). This piece is not an attack on these people, as I too am a fan of the First Amendment. But, I would like to point out that because I dare to use these people and their religions as examples, most in the media would consider a piece like this abrasive and in poor taste. I'm just stating facts of who they are and what they believe to illustrate a point, so if anyone is offended I offer up Psalm 119:165, "Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them."

Again, one doesn't have to be a Bible scholar to know that each of these belief systems are contrary to the Christ of the Bible. We would readily recognize each as a cult but are hesitant to place that label on them because they don't want to be perceived as being 'Politically Incorrect.' Most wish to avoid controversy. Even now people are fearful of placing the label 'cult' upon Mormonism, when just a few short decades ago the sect were widely considered a cult. But now they have a Presidential candidate in the running, which seems to bring a sense of legitimacy to the table. The MSM wouldn't dare ask him to reveal the Mormon's intimate practices of wearing "secret underwear" or what the planet Kolob is all about. Now, because of vast acceptance, they are established as a legitimate Christian denomination, even by hard nosed Christian fundamentalists! How can this be if the Mormon's beliefs are polytheistic in nature? The people who followed men like Manson and Jones were especially devoted to them but even now people in our society would say that their loyalties were grossly misplaced. You could say that the third definition listed for 'cult' above is a perfect description of them, but we can also claim the same distinction towards those who follow the Pope, Buddha, Confucius, Harikrishna, and L. Ron Hubbard.

What can we attribute to such a mindset with the Western Institutional 'Church' system? My thoughts are that it stems from the One Man Show syndrome. The 'One Man Show' idea was contrived in Heaven when Lucifer wanted 'to be the Man.' A Senior Pastor run 'Church' system has been around for about 1900 years, ever since Rome decided to counterfeit the organic church as an Institutional political power. Notice that I said, "counterfeit," not 'develop from one into another.' Why? Because the Institutional 'Church' is simply a knock-off of the organic church. Still, after creation, the idea of a One Man Show didn't really begin with Roman Institutional system, but way back when Israel clamored for a king. Before that, Israel was a theocracy. That means they had no king other than the LORD God. The nation was ruled by Him alone. Sure, Moses and Joshua were types of Christ in the early days of the Law, but they weren't kings. After them there were Elders and then Judges. Everything ran pretty smoothly until 1 Samuel when they sought Saul to be their king in place of their God.

They no longer wanted to walk by faith and not by sight, but rather live as the gentiles did and have a visible king instead of an Invisible One. God warned them that if they had an earthly king on a throne, their sons and daughters, lands and possessions would no longer be theirs. Of course they didn't care. They wanted to be as the world and they got what they asked for. The nation of Israel became a One Man Show with an earthly king at the helm. After Saul ruled 40 years, David ruled forty years, then Solomon forty years. You know what happened then? Israel split into two separate kingdoms. They became fragmented. Now they had two kings. Let me ask a question: Have we ever heard of a 'Church' split?

Let's suppose we use this O.T. scenario as an illustration. If we compare the One Man Show, monarch controlled Israel to the One Man Show Institutional 'Church' system of today, we'll see some telling similarities. Every Institutional 'Church' clamors for a pastor. It started with the Roman Catholic 'Church,' who elected a pope. He is known by most Catholics as "Holy Father." They want a visible man to lead instead of an Invisible God. Most pastors today even have their own little throne on the platform just like the pope, or a king. Cute, huh? In comes the 'Church' government and bylaws, acquisition of Properties and so on.

I know of a pastor who, ah-hmm, shepherds a very tiny 'Church' not far from me. The people there are so dedicated to this man that they overlook common sense. The 'Church' has a membership of just a few families and some poor widows. Its a struggle every month to keep the doors open and pay for the utilities. A lot of financial sacrifices are made to pay the pastor and keep things running. Their only Deacon does most of the upkeep which puts a strain on his family time. Just a couple of years ago the pastor and his wife inherited millions of dollars and even several office buildings in a metropolitan city. After the pastor inherited his millions he still insists on receiving his $600 each month from that tiny body of believers for the privilege of having him as their pastor! He thinks he has some divine right to demand and receive such homage. What's wrong with this picture? See my posts entitled,'The Hireling' and 'Should Pastors Be Paid?' for more on this subject. At any rate, its no wonder, when we see such poor judgment from those engulfed in the One Man Show, eventually we see a 'Church' split. Actually, from God's perspective, it could get worse. This fledgeling Institutional 'Church' could remain in tact, sapping more resources to keep itself alive while deceiving other potential members along the way.

Allow me to ask my reader some more questions: Are we unusually devoted to our pastors? Do we go to him for guidance on every little thing in our lives? Do we ask him where we should spend our money and how to raise our children? Do we obey him because we feel he is defined as "God's man?'' What's the difference in this scenario and a cult? [I] don't see any! God has always kept a remnant among the heathen, if for nothing else, as shining lights among the darkness and despair of this world. Christ's true organic home church is one of those lights today. We have been His remnant for the better part of 2000 years. While the Institutional 'Church' is clergy centered, God's authentic, organic  church is Christ centered. Jesus is our Leader. We have elders who help guide the congregation, not rule over it. There is no monarchy. We are a theocracy. Cults are ruled by a One Man Show. The culture that someone inside the Institute will find themselves in may seem normal, but it's still a cult by definition and practice.
There is a lay preacher on the Internet who writes against the Home Church Movement. He says that the Institutional 'Church' is losing members to the "Home-church movement" because they don't know their Bibles and they haven't been educated Properly toward recognizing false doctrine. First off, the organic home church is not a "movement." It's God's plan for church and has been since He started it. Secondly, the folks who are leaving the Institute because they don't know their Bible, or possess a lack of false doctrinal recognition, seems to be an indictment on the quality of education offered in the Institutional model in the first place.

Think about it: The Institute educates using Programs, such as Awana, ACE, and A Beka. They offer Pastor's School, Addictions Programs, Discipleship Programs, Teen Conferences, Ladies Conferences and so on. The Institute has written books and offer seminars, tools and resources. They have colleges and universities galore where sincere men and women enroll to learn truth. All of these are designed to educate us on knowing what is supposed to be legitimate so that if something false comes along it would instantly be recognized, labeled and averted. Yet, the Institutional model continually teaches erroneously on tithing, the church, pastors, deacons, communion, standards, and more! They don't know that the home-based organic church is the authentic model because they are teaching that the Institutional model is legitimate instead! And they're the ones who say folks are leaving because they don't know their Bible? Wow! You know, the funny thing about a cult is, those who are in one don't even realize it. A cultist doesn't realize he is in a cult because everyone he associates with is in it with him.

One might say, "Can't this apply to a home church?" It very well can, if that home based church is One Man Show driven. Let's examine the evidence if Christ's authentic, legitimate, organic church exhibits the characteristics of a cult. Here are some questions for us to consider:

*Is the home-based church's design 'main-stream' like the Institutional model? No.

*Is it so commonplace in our society that we can find one in the Yellow Pages and on almost any business zoned street corner? No.

*Does the home church segregate in participation and attendance? No.

*Does the home-based fellowship demand tithes from their congregants or demand that they obey their church leaders in matters of finance? No.

*Does the home church demand total allegiance, devotion and blind obedience to a senior pastor and his policies or decisions? No.

*Does it have committees and departments? No.

*Does it have a staff, budget, and Programs? No.

*Does it own community Property that requires utility, upkeep and maintenance dollars? No.

*Does it frown upon those who do not tithe and call them, "God Robbers?" No. 

*Does it exclude those who qualify to be a Deacon or Teacher because they don't believe in tithing? No. 

Hmmm, sounds to me that the home based church doesn't exhibit any of the characteristics of a cult, does it?

Okay, so what my point? Because of the very structural nature of the Main-Stream Institutional 'Church' today, it cannot escape from being considered a cult. The folks within may not worship the Devil or sacrifice animals during Halloween, but they do exhibit many of the characteristics of a cult, such as blind follow-ship and adherence to the traditions of men. Their intentions may be pure, but their understanding is askew. They are sincere, honest people. Many are saved, and they devote their lives towards their God, but refuse to adapt to His commands, which are clearly written down in His Word. Instead, they obey what a man tells them what they think God said from behind a pulpit of wood.

There are many 'camps' in fundamentalism today. One group follows one man's teachings and another group will follow a different man's doctrines. Both groups are sincere. Both are loyal and dedicated towards a common goal, but their focus may be on the wrong thing. Their attention, admiration and abilities can be (and many times are) centered on a 'Thing' instead of the One True God, Jesus Christ of the Bible. 'Church' (the Organization) is a 'Thing.' Christ's true home-based assembly is who we as a Christ centered body are. We're not the cult. We're the church! We're a living, local, physical organism. The Institute is the cult! It just so happens that those who are saved and within this cult-like matrix needs to be DE-Programmed so that they can withdraw themselves from this 'Thing' called 'Church.'

If Matthew 16:18 tells us anything, we know that Christ doesn't want His blood washed saints in a cult. He continues to build His church and Promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Cults, in any variation come straight from the gates of hell. He never intended us, as individual blood washed believers, to blend into a cult. Unfortunately, many unwittingly have. The parallels have been drawn between the two structures and the gauntlet has been dropped. What will we do with it? We implore everyone to take a hard nosed look into the structure of the Institutional model and see if it reflects the image of a cult. If it does, there is a way out and a method where one can be De-Programmed of it. If an Institute will only get rid of the building, it's name, it's bank accounts, it's One Man Show, meet in homes and let God be their King, then they will be out of debt, out of politics and out of a man made religious corporation. They will become something more: a part of God's remnant in the last days. The best part is, the only intervention we will need comes from Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit and His Living Word. So, are you in a cult? Here is hoping that the scales will fall from our eyes so that we might see what is truly around us. Grace to us all, and thanks for visiting.


  1. Hey I just read your blog post! Those are some good thoughts. Check out this sermon and see if it adds to what you're saying. I heard it a couple weeks ago or so. (I'd recommend watching the video, not simply reading the keynote.)


    1. Thank you Levi. I hope that this piece isn't offensive to some. I know that a post like this might turn some folks with a closed mind away. Let's hope that the Lord uses it for His glory and that truth seekers might see things in a new light. Thanks also for the link. I'll check it out. Grace. ~BK

  2. Hello Bobby,

    I enjoyed the post.

    In regards to the link above, I checked out there 'gospel video' and they have another Jesus, another Bible:


    1. Thanks for enjoying, Bill. I'm not sure where you saw this link. It wasn't published by me and I'm a little confused as to how it relates to my post. Anyway, I am not happy that folks try to spread another false Gospel or Bible around through film or other media. Please know that this other Jesus, gospel and bible is not endorsed by me.

  3. For those who may be wondering why I made the comment I made to Bobby above, in relation to the 'gospel video', here goes:

    If this was a video to share the gospel, the good news of God's Word (the King James Bible for us English speakers) you would think a 'gospel video' would have the gospel presented clearly as done in this video,,

    and in this video,

    and not just some poetic verbiage, as done in the video in question.

    And in fact, they don't even quote from the King James Bible but use some perversion in this video when they actually (which is rare) give a scripture reference.

    If a soul is to be set free from the wages of sin death (spiritual, physical) and to be liberated from going to hell then they need to hear the gospel and believe it:

    Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

    Acts 4:4

    1Corinthians 15:1-4

    Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

    1Thessalonians 2:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

    1Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

    And we know from the Word of God that a soul needs to hear and believe, the incorruptible, pure, undefiled, holy Word of God to be saved:

    James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

    1Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

    1Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    So the way I see it the video in question does not share the gospel, the Word of God, the incorruptible seed that a soul needs to hear and believe. Therefore the video is not of God. And since this English video doen't even use the King James Bible we know that it is the voice of the devil being spoken in it.

    I hope I conveyed clearly my position, without taking too long. And I am not one to hold back and mince words. Too many false prophets out there and these guys in the video are just another name on a way to lengthy list, sadly.

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