Monday, March 15, 2010

Cults and False Religions, Part 1

For the winter quarter at church, we had a Sunday school class on cults and false religions. Everyone from 6th grade on up was in the same room and it was really interesting to hear what the older church members had to say and we all learned a lot. I'm going to post the notes on the different cults he taught on to provide better insight to what the different cults are really like. We also learned how to witness to them as some cults completely shut out Christianity.

Cults and False Religions

Some different cults were:

People's Temple
Led by: Jim Jones 1931-1978
San Francisco
914 died, including over 270 children by drinking poisonous flavored drinks, poisonous injections, and shootings.

Branch Davidians
Led by: David Koresh 1959-1993
Waco, Texas
76 died, including 26 children, by a siege and raid on April 19, 1993

Heaven's Gate
Led by: Marshall Applewhite 1931-1997
Mass suicide on March 26, 1997 leaving 39 dead.

It has been estimated that in America, there are 5,000 different cults and groups with 17 million members. Some groups have become mainstream, while others are quite strange and bizarre. Some are quite powerful, while others are barely known.

What is a cult?

1 Timothy 4:1-3
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing the spirits, and doctrines of devils,
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and now the truth.

False Teaching- something that is taught that does not line up with the truth of the Bible.
Heresy- False doctrine or teaching that denies one of the foundational beliefs of the church. It varies from the orthodox or accepted doctrine.
Apostasy- A "falling away" from the faith. A determined or willful rejections of Jesus Christ and His commands.

Cult- "a cult is a system of religious beliefs and rituals that is regarded as unorthodox or spurious, with a great devotion to a person, idea, or thing." Webster's Dictionary

" any religious group that differs significantly in one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious groups which are regarded as the normative expression in our total culture" These Also Believe by Dr. Charles Braden

Cults will deny one ore more of the basic Christian beliefs. The National and World Council of Churches have consistently denied membership to groups that are cults because they do not recognize Jesus Christ ans God or Saviour.

Common Characteristics of Cults
~An authoritative leader/founder
~ An authoritative writing(s) other than the Bible
~ Some semblance of truth, some appearance of good
~ Riddle of semantics- redefine the meanings of words and doctrines
~ A "we" versus "them" mentality
~ An entrenched isolation-separate from society
~ Intense indoctrination and psychological control
~ An emphasis on proselytizing
~ A denial of one or more basic foundational or doctrinal truths of God's word or practice of the church

Why Cults Have Appeal
~ The dominance of feeling over intellect (how one feels more important than what one thinks)
~Belief that everything is relative-that we cannot be sure of anything
~Need for community-people are lonely and want to be loved and wanted
~Rise of leisure time
~Freedom vs. Authority struggle. Complete freedom to believe anything often opens one up to definite notions of religious convictions.
Religious Factors
~Fuzzy religious understanding
*Lack of basic knowledge
*Lack of doctrinal teaching
*Lack of ability to apply the Bible
The Meaning of Life
~Fundamental question of existence
~Cults often have concrete answers that Christians refuse to give
The Need for Active Involvement-Participation
~Cults offer much activity

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