What Is A Cult? Are There Cults In The World Today?

What Is A Cult? Are There Cults In The World Today? August 26, 2015

Are there still cults around today? What is the definition of a cult and how can you know when from the read Christian church?

A Cult is…

There are cults of Satan, of magic, and of all sorts of human imaginations but these cults are obviously wrong to most of us. A church can look like a normal church from the outside but once you join them and see how they operate, you find out that many are cults. Some brainwash their patrons into believing that they are the only way to truth. A religious cult could be defined as an organization that conducts rituals or practices religious observances and has a body of adherents that have certain codes strictly enforced among their members. Some are fairly mainstream and widely accepted but many adhere to an extreme dedication to a certain leader and a set of beliefs that are often viewed as odd by others, or even as excessive by most. Cults are flourishing these days and the most dangerous cults are those that pretend to be Christian but mix truth with error but a half-truth is still a whole lie.


A Church Cult

Most church cults are self-introverts. They are exclusivists. They don’t like change. They don’t compromise on their beliefs. They also deviate from the fundamental teachings of historic, biblically based Christianity. Some believe that they are the one and only way and all other churches have people who are going to hell. Still others tend to brainwash their members. They like to control their lives and a few have compounds where the members must live and give up all their property and financial rights. They typically have one strong charismatic leader who the group adheres too, no matter what is asked of them. Others teach that we are under certain laws of the Old Testament like the dietary laws, the necessity of observing the holy days, and strictly enforce a Sabbath-keeping regimen. They either distort or deny essential doctrines of the faith that are clearly taught in the Bible. The main things are the plain things in Scripture but cults tend to cloud things up. They sometimes focus on non-essentials or strictly enforce “grey areas” where the Bible is silent. Most cults add their own rituals, rules, and ceremonies that the Bible does not teach.

Salvation by Works

Paul wrote that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9) but cults often add elementary things to salvation, creating a necessity of other “must-do’s” in order to be saved. They can distort or manipulate Scripture and make salvation anything but a free gift of God. They compromise the truth and they often proof-text certain verses to build their belief system around them. The idea that text taken out of context makes it a pretext doesn’t bother them. They don’t believe that context is king. They believe their leader is king and whatever he or she says is law and many cults today elevate their own books or writings as superior to the Bible.  Satan not only has his own ministers, he has his own churches and these are frequently cults (2nd Cor 11:4).


Sadly, the proverb is true, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov 14:12). Even “The way of fools seems right to them” (Prov 12:15) and to them, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov 16:25). Some have to be reoriented once they come out of cults and have to be “de-programmed” because their way of thinking has been so stilted by indoctrination that they don’t recognize the truth anymore. Only biblical truth can straighten them out again and we know where, or more specifically, Who that truth is: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • John

    “They also deviate from the fundamental teachings of historic, biblically based Christianity.”

    This would also include all denominations and sects of Christianity since they have deviated from the fundamental ground of oneness of the church that existed in the early days of Christianity. Unity of the Body of Christ is one of the most biblical and fundamental teachings (Ephesians 4:5, 1 Cor 3:4, 1 Cor 1:10).

    The majority of denominations are led by a single or few pastors or elders.
    Plurality of leadership and unity of the Body of Christ is a protection against cults, because there cannot exist a cult unless there is first a division/denomination. We could say that single-leader churches and denominationalism is essentially a step away from unity and a step towards exclusivity.

    • “church” “IS essentially a step away from unity and a step towards exclusivity”!

      For The Faithful ARE Family!

  • pud

    Ha! Kettle calling the pot black! You belong to a cult “pastor jack”! Cults are not rooted in reality. Cults follow a doctrine that cannot be supported by evidence. Cults resist change. Cults cling to their members making it nearly impossible to leave. Cults engage in psychological warfare instilling in their members guilt and shame while offering salvation if members strictly follow cult teachings and requirements.

    Cults brainwash children. YOU are a cult leader “pastor jack” YOU make your living lying to children!

    Cults dwell in the supernatural…things claimed that cannot be shown. You follow a book full of magic and spells, curses and cures no different than some alchemists cook book or some fairytale witches manual! No one is more exclusive than you “pastor jack”…it’s your way or hells highway! Believe or die with the only difference between you and “heavens gate community” perhaps being the locks on the doors. But you have solid mental and emotional locks “pastor jack” You hold the simple minded hostage and fight savagely against free thinking and rational enquiry.

    Magical creation, talking snakes, dead men rising, blood sacrifice, end of the world proclamations…Tell me “pastor jack” how you’re not a cult

  • WellDoneProductions

    Check out the book FORTNEY ROAD which is about one of the most brutal cults of the 1960s and 70s.

  • pud

    CULT: noun a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

    How are you not a cult “pastor jack”? Misplaced in that you worship a book written by primitive barbaric superstitious cults, devoid of reality, distanced from all fact and based upon the supernatural! Excessive in that you pump out these nonsensical essays 3 at a time day after day while your indoctrinated flock babbles in tongues and waves their arms in the air. A particular thing…yep, this invisible jesus fellow for which there is NO historical evidence what so ever. So how are you not a cult “pastor jack”?

  • Someone accused me of being a member of a “CULT”!

    Because i simply believe that The Messiah was Immanuel (For Our FATHER and GOD {HE WHO IS SPIRIT} was with us IN The Messiah)! And that Joshua was His GOD given Hebrew (The Messiah was not a roman nor a a greek) birth name in today’s bastardized english, and that Joshua (yet i prefer Yahshua) The Messiah WAS and IS The Only Begotten Son of Our FATHER and GOD! (II Corinthians 5:19, John 3:16-21)

    And Thankfully i believe The NEW “Promised Land” IS Heavenly! (Galatians 6:10)

    And i believe that The Faithful ARE Family, The Family of “Our FATHER and GOD”, “of WHOM the whole Family in Heaven and ON EARTH is named”! (Ephesians 3:15)

    “A Household of Faith” indeed and TRUTH……. (Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 2:19)

    And NEW “Jerusalem which IS above IS free, and IS !NOW! the mother of us all (sons of Our FATHER and GOD)!” (Galatians 4:26)

    Thankfully those who have experienced The Miracle that IS receiving “a love of The TRUTH so that they might be saved”, and are yet “on earth”, have REALized we have our portion !NOW! with The Faithful in The Family of Our FATHER and GOD, and so we rightly understand the testimony given in James 1:27! (II Thessalonians 2:10-13)

    Simply, The Only “PURE Religion and UNDEFILED before Our FATHER and GOD IS! To visit the fatherless (those who have no relationship with “Our FATHER and GOD”) and widows (those who bridegroom has died and has not yet risen again) in their affliction, and to keep themselves uncontaminated by the world (for “whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD” for those of this evil world and/or religion’s way crucified The Messiah)!” (James 1:27, 4:4, John 7:7, I John 2:15-17; 5:19)

    “Pure Religion and Undefiled” is not a system but the Active Faith of those who have been “Born Again” of The Holy, Set Apart, SPIRIT! Those who are “Sons of Our FATHER and GOD” indeed and TRUTH……. (John 3:3,7, I Peter 1:23, I John 3:1-2, Philippians 2:15)

    Simply, ALL other religion IS “IMPURE and DEFILED”, and ARE but CULTS!

    And Yes! atheism is a religion as well, for atheists see their version of a “god” each and every time they view their reflected “image”!

    Yet because of pagan catholicism and her harlot christian daughters “The Way of TRUTH IS evil spoken of”……. (II Peter 2:1-3)
    “Come out from among them and be separate”! (II Corinthians 6:17)

    For ALL religions, except the Only “Pure and Undefiled Religion”, are Cults! (James 1:27)

    “CULT”! ….. the noun …..

    1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.

    2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.

    3. the object of such devotion.

    4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

    5. Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.


    Exactly what pagan catholicism, her harlot christian daughters, and ALL religions (except for James 1:27) ARE!

    TRUTH IS! The Faithful will not create a CULT(religion)!

    Once again, The Faithful, both “in Heaven” and yet “ON EARTH” ARE “Family”! (Ephesians 3:15)

    The Family of The ONE and ONLY TRUE GOD(SPIRIT), HE WHO IS FATHER(CREATOR) of ALL (Messiah inclusive)! “Of WHOM the whole Family in Heaven and ON EARTH is named! (Genesis 1:3, Revelations 3:14, Ephesians 3:15, Galatians 6:10)

    And NEW “Jerusalem which IS above, IS free, and IS !NOW! the mother of us all(son’s of Our FATHER and GOD)!” (Galatians 4:26)

    And i believe that Immanuel (Our FATHER and GOD {HE WHO IS SPIRIT} was with us IN The Messiah! And Joshua would be His GOD given Hebrew birth name in today’s bastardized english) The Messiah, WAS and IS The Only Begotten Son of Our FATHER and GOD! (II Corinthians 5:19)

    Sadly, multitudes have chosen to remain but cultist clones of pagan catholicism and harlot christian daughters!

    Their wholly unholy “trinity(three headed pagan god{s})”, or their “jesus is god/father/son rolled into one”, or their “jesus was but an angel and/or messenger”, and/or ?, are all but doctrinal heresies that are the product of mankind’s “imag”ination! (John 17:3; 20:17)

    Sadder yet, mankind’s “imag”ination is destroying Creation (air, water, land, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is SPIRIT(TRUTH, Light, Life, Love, Peace, Faith, Grace,,,,,,, ALL that is Truly GOOD)!

    For mankind’s “imag”ination is truly the devil’s playground!

    Such was aptly demonstrated by Eve in the garden! (Genesis 3:6)

    “Behold ‘I(id,ego,pride,self)’ thought” has kept multiplied billions from experiencing The Miracle that is “receiving a love of The TRUTH so that they might be saved” from their own self (“I”, ego, id, pride) life!(II Kings 5:11-14, II Thessalonians 2:10-13)

    As for The TRUTH concerning The Messiah!

    Simply, The ONE and ONLY TRUE GOD and FATHER(CREATOR) of ALL, IS SPIRIT, and as Paul testified, “GOD(SPIRIT) was IN The Messiah”, just as HE was IN all the prophets and messengers (angels) who were servants sent by HIM……. (John 4:24, II Corinthians 5:19)

    Yet only The Messiah could receive The Fullness of The SPIRIT, that is Our FATHER and GOD, for He was born of The Seed of Our FATHER and GOD in “the likeness of sinful flesh”! Our FATHER and GOD was The FATHER of The Messiah both Spiritually and naturally! (Genesis 1:3, Revelations 2:14, Romans 8:3, Luke 1:35)

    So it was that The Messiah, “born in the likeness of sinful flesh”, was predestined to be that perfect sacrifice, the Spotless(sinless) “Lamb of GOD”! (Romans 8:3, John 1:29)

    And The Messiah, The Son of GOD, was “A Servant of, and sent by GOD”, for He testified that The Words He spoke, and The Works He did, were not His Words and Works! The Messiah testified The WORDS and WORKS were of His FATHER and GOD, HE WHO IS also The FATHER and GOD of The Messiah’s brethren! (Isaiah 53:11, John 5:19,30; 8:28-29; 12:49-50; 14:10,23-24; 20:17,21)

    It WAS, and IS as The Messiah testified, “i can do nothing of my own self”! And His brethren have REALized the same……. (John 8:28-29: 5:19,30)

    Simply, Our FATHER and GOD, HE WHO IS SPIRIT, “was *IN* The Messiah seeking to reconcile the world unto HIMself(Our FATHER and GOD)” indeed and TRUTH! (II Corinthians 5:19)

    Yet what did those of this evil world and religion’s way do? They crucified The Messiah! (John 7:7; 12:25, I John 2:15-17; 5:19, James 1:27; 4:4)

    So it is that “whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of Our FATHER and GOD”……. However, TRUTH will always RISE AGAIN, in spite of those who are of this evil world and/or religion’s way! (James 4:4, John 7:7, I John 2:15-17; 5:19)

    For The SPIRIT of TRUTH that IS The ONE and ONLY TRUE GOD, FATHER(CREATOR) of ALL, is also in the brethren of The Messiah, those “aliens and pilgrims while on the earth” who also seek and desire “The Will and Good Pleasure of Our FATHER and GOD above all else”, YES! their own life as well……. (Hebrews 11:13, I Peter 2:11, Philippians 2:13, Matthew 6:10, Luke 14:26)

    Simply, CULTists (religious ones) are not brethren of The Messiah for they are possessed by a spirit that is of “the father of lies”, the “author of dis-order” and “every evil work”! And so it is they but follow their own “vain ‘imag’inations” on that “broad way to destruction”! (John 8:44, James 3:16, Romans 1:21, Matthew 7:13)

    And the religious ones (CULTist’s) continue to deny The FATHER and The Son for they have not received of The Life, because pagan catholic and christian folklore yet has them bound in the chains of “strong delusion”! And so it is they have never received “a love of The TRUTH so that they might be saved” from their own self (“I”,ego,id,pride) life……. (II Thessalonians 2:10-13)

    Now if there are those who remain bound in the chains of “strong delusion”, yet have Truly received “a love of The TRUTH”? They will soon, and very soon, “Come out from among them and be separate”! (II Thessalonians 2:10-13, II Corinthians 6:17)

    For the religious ones (CULTist’s) are yet bound and held captive by that spirit that is of “the father of lies”, a spirit that has killed and enslaved (in physical chains at times, yet primarily in the chains of strong delusion that are the commandments and doctrines of men) multiplied billions in the name of the god(s) of this, or that religion!

    Proving the fruit of death and enslavement are bore of religion’s way,
    For life is but a pawn in the wicked game they play!

    Yet! Because of pagan catholicism and her harlot christian daughters “The Way of TRUTH is evil spoken”! (II Peter 2:1-3)

    Come out from among them and be separate!” (II Corinthians 6:17)

    “Come Out” of that which is of this evil world(babylon) and/or religion’s way!

    The WHOLE world, not just a portion……. (I John 5:19)

    ALL RELIGION(except The Active Faith of James 1:27)!

    And once again, YES! Atheism is a religion as well, for atheists see their version of a god each and every time they view their reflected “image”!

    TRUTH IS! The Faithful ARE Family and will not create a religion(CULT)!

    The Family of “Our FATHER and GOD “of WHOM the whole Family in Heaven and ON EARTH is named”!(Ephesians 3:15)

    “A Household of Faith” indeed and TRUTH……. (Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 2:19)

    And NEW “Jerusalem which IS above IS free, and IS !NOW! the mother of us all(sons of Our FATHER and GOD)”! (Galatians 4:26)

    So it is that the “BORN AGAIN” brethren of The Messiah choose to remain but “aliens and pilgrims while on the earth” for we have REALized that our “citizenship(Life) IS !NOW! in Heaven” and that soon, and very soon, we will taken Home, Home at last! (John 3:3,7, 1 Peter 1:23; 2:11, Hebrews 11:13, Philippians 3:20, John 14:2-3)

    Till then:

    While breath(spirit, air) is, HOPE IS!

    For TRUTH IS! and Miracles do happen…….

    Hope is there would be those who would experience The Miracle that is receiving “a love of The TRUTH”…… (II Thessalonians 2:10-13)

    For they will REALize how “poor and in need” of Our FATHER and GOD they Truly are! (Psalms 70:5; 72:13, John 20:17)

    And liken unto The Messiah they will also REALize “i can do nothing of my own self”! (John 5:19,30; 8:28-29; 12:49-50; 14:10,23-24; 20:17,21)

    And so it is we “cry unto Our FATHER and GOD day and night”……. (Luke 18:7)

    Evermore sounding and resounding a Declaration of Dependence:

    FATHER Help!

    HE DID! and HE does…….

    So Peace IS! in spite of the dis-ease (no-peace) that is of this evil world and/or religion’s way……. (John 14:27; 7:7, I John 2:15-17; 5:19, James 1:27; 4:4, Philippians 4:7)

    ALL Thanks and Praise Be Unto Our FATHER(TRUTH, SPIRIT, CREATOR, GOD, LORD, MASTER, LIGHT, LOVE, LIFE,,,,,,, ALL IN ALL That Which IS Truly GOOD)! (John 20:17, Mark 10:18)

  • SJ

    I suspect the word cult is a spinoff from the word ” occult “. A cult is a counterfeit family.

    The great spiritual family is the family of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Jesus says if you do God’s will then you are a member of God’s family.

    I suppose a cult are lesser human families that refuse to do God’s will and follow His Ways for a variety of reasons and deceptions. A lot of cult people are mentally imprisoned because only Jesus will set you free. Even atheism is a belief prison because without Jesus there is no one to set atheist adherents free from Satan, the jailor and ruler of this world.

    Everyone has a belief system…Everyone has a brain and it is impossible for a brain to work without cognitive biases and belief systems help form cognitive biases that make the belief system of the human being functional. We all decide which belief/brain system we will adopt although some people try to force their beliefs and wills on you like certain atheist posters in this thread.

    But God will never force you. God is only interested in free will offerings.

    This world is really proficient at producing counterfeits. But the real thing is always Jesus Christ. He is the pure costly gold, frankincense and myrrh that people are willing to die to receive while all the other cults are cheap wannnabe, imitations.

    From Mark 3, KJV
    31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

    32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

    33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

    34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

    35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

    Cults involve coercion….not so in Christianity….a disciple gives himself away freely from a love heart motive….no coercion is necessary at all as in many cults.

    I Give Myself Away, William McDowell

    Sheep follow a shepherd willingly because they know the voice of the Shepherd and that he cares for them and will risk himself to save them and even carry them on his back if necessary. We’re not heavy to him…we are no burden at all….we’re his brothers and sisters…

    • TRUTH IS! Your “imag”ined ‘jesus’ is the devil’s son in bland disguise,
      “imag”ined to make one wonder and less the wise!

      And the pic proves you to be of this evil world and/or religion’s way!

      Those who crucified The Messiah…….

      So it is, “whoever would be a friend of this evil world is the enemy of Our FATHER and GOD”! (James 4:4; 1:27, John 7:7, I John 2:15-17; 5:19)

      • SJ

        You don’t know anything about me. So you just passed judgment on me from a position of ignorance but I forgive you because you probably don’t know better.

        You better start to learn to ask questions before assuming things about people you don’t even know.

        God isn’t as ignorant as you are.

        God is divinely omniscient and He can read hearts.

        And you’re not sticking some man made interpretation on me. You don’t control me.

        I answer to God and I ask Him to create a clean heart in me.

        So there you old assumer.

        Read Proverbs 25:2…..God said the seekers are the kings and I only seek to know from The KIng and His Closest Advisors and I don’t recognize you at this time.

        So stop presuming to advise me when all you intend is to tear me down.

        God will build me up…..I can tear myself down without your help…..thank you very much.

        You better go get your own heart right with God while there is still time.

        Why in the world would you treat me as a bible illiterate when I can teach the bible if I want to off the top of my head?

        Work on obtaining that kind of expertise to build people up….that is a true act of mercy. Encourage people. Or aren’t you used to encouraging people in this awful, old, decadent, despotic world?

        • Simply sad for you, for you have your portion with the “imag”ined ‘jesus’ of pagan catholicism and her harlot christian daughters, and such proves you to be of the worldly and/or religious ones!

          And TRUTH IS! Your words, both spoken and written, are you, as well as the pics you post!

          However, it could be you have your portion with the “con”venient speakers(liars), which is worse yet!

          In either case, such is sad, very sad indeed…….

  • Doug Barron

    I was raised in the “Campbell-Stone” movement. I know what a cult smells like feels like and tastes like. Condemnation, works based doctrine and theology. Very warped.
    It took me 30 years to shed all of the indoctrination. My family is still trapped in it. But I am free! Thank God, I am free!!
    Blessing, shalom!

  • Doug Barron

    Wow! Everyone wee weeing on each others fence posts here!
    Are y’all proud of yourselves yet?

    • Words befitting one whom religion and/or this world has had it’s way with.

      Sad, very sad indeed…….