Definition of a Cult - From the Latin "cultus" meaning ritual, ceremony or liturgy. A teaching, group or movement that claims to represent the true faith while deviating from orthodoxy. Cult is used now by those who are not Christians as any "deviation from orthodoxy." The problem is that one person's definition of orthodoxy is not that of another. This has caused confusion as to who is a cult and who is not.
Cults offer a false or inadequate basis of salvation and works are also added to the work of Christ on Calvary which is sufficient and nothing can be added to that work according to the Bible. If we could work our way to salvation Jesus died in vain.
Cults offer a false basis or source of authority including extra-biblical documents or books. Mormons add The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines and Covenants. Jehovah's Witnesses add a translation of the Bible called the New World Translation which has plagiarized portions of the King James and changed verses to read so the Bible conforms to their own tenets. Christian Science, which is neither Christian or Science added Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and so on.
Cults dilute the Bible - especially in their beliefs about who Jesus is. They strip him of his deity and create a Christ of their own making.
HOW CULTS DEAL WITH THEIR ADHERENTS
Isolation and control of the convert's information. This even blocks out family members and friends from connecting with them.
Intensive indoctrination accompanied by constant supervision, drills, lectures, and personal study.
Taught to be willing to suffer persecution and to believe that they will be persecuted for their beliefs. Much of that is self-inflicted because they push too hard in their desire to make converts. Unlike Christians, they will not back down if someone doesn't want to hear what they say.
Cult followers are urged to reject all Christian institutions that attend church and even to put their families below the authority of the cult separating their adherents from their own families if they think it is necessary.
ECONOMIC EXPLOITATION AND ENSLAVEMENT
Leaders live in luxury while average converts work and sacrifice for the good of the organization. Converts have little to no possessions. Converts forsake their property and money and peddle for money when they are told to do so. Some groups require tithing and even multiple tithes.
Esoterism - Cults believe in the development of an inner circle. Those who convert are not told the true beliefs of the cult until they attain a higher level and make a commitment. Some us blood oaths to seal the commitment. Members are told to keep certain beliefs and even the real name of the organization secret while evangelizing. (ie; Mormons never refer to themselves as Mormons unless you ask. They will tell you they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The use of the name of Jesus Christ and the word church leads some people to believe they are Christians).
Virtually every cult has a strong human leader. The leader will have personal magnetism and will be very good at attracting new followers and inspiring confidence in the converts and other leaders. Cults will replace Jesus Christ and his authority with their leaders. Government in all cults is from the top down.
Converts are supposed to park their minds and believe their leader always knows what is true and what is best for them. Each cult thinks itself to be the chosen group to bring God's message. They believe that the present system is disintegrating and that they will be the restoration of that system or an entirely new system.
REASONS WHY PEOPLE GO INTO CULTS
Spiritual hunger is the primary reason. Human need also plays a strong role in joining a
cult. People want like-minded people and a group that makes them feel they belong. The spiritual corruption in their church drives believers out and into a cult (more often it is the young believers, those new in the faith, who feel betrayed). There is also the possibility of demonic influence for those who don't know Christ as their Savior and are unaware of the presence of demonic influence. In some cases it is people who are going through periods
of turmoil and deep questioning. These types of people are open to proselytizing. People at a time like this in their life have lost their ability to critically evaluate just what they are listening to and their allegiance to a cult.
The saddest reason people join a cult is the lack of power and authority in many churches. People come to church to hear from God, and sadly there are many pulpits that have forsaken the truth of the gospel or have watered it down or who allow things in their church that God is firmly against in order to appease their congregation and keep their paycheck and home and etc. They are afraid that if they stand up and speak truth boldly they will lose their people when it is the opposite that is true. People want to hear truth.
IT IS SAFE TO SAY THAT A LARGE PORTION OF THOSE WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN IN CULTS ATTENDED A CHURCH AT ONE TIME, AND BECAUSE THERE WAS NO LIFE GIVING POWER THERE, THEY CHOSE TO BELIEVE LIES AND MOVED AWAY FROM THEIR ONLY HOPE OF SALVATION WHICH IS FOUND IN JESUS CHRIST AND IN HIM ALONE AS EXPRESSED IN John 14:6 WHERE JESUS SAID; "I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE; NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT THROUGH ME."