Are you told not to question what is being taught because the leaders are honest and want the best for you so you must trust them? Has someone replaced your own choices in life?
Are you told not to ask questions why anyone left? Are you to accept the answers the leaders give you? such as: they fell into sin, they didn’t receive correction, they weren’t open or they had a bad heart and didn’t want to be disciples
Are you told that you must be with their certain church or group to be saved and not by Jesus Christ?
If you want to leave are you being told their is no other church that practices truth, you will go to hell?
Are you made to feel your failures and that your performance is not up to par for the bibles standard?
Are you being rebuked for things such as the way you say hello or how you respond to being asked to do something for a leader or disciple? Do they tell you its a matter of the heart how one complies?
Are they putting down other church’s and building themselves up? Do they sometimes use people as examples of what you are to be doing and others on what you are not to be doing?
Do they bring attention to what they do, and ignoring others that may be doing the same things outside their church?
Do they put down others to make themselves look better, calling themselves righteous and others unrighteous?
Do they call those who leave, fallaway and enemies, dogs returning to their own vomit, using the examples of Korah or Judas?
Do they stop you from reading anything negative about themselves calling it spiritual pornography or recommend you not to read it for your own spiritual protection?
Do they recommend for you to be around their people expecting you to be at all the group activities? If not your spirituality and dedication are questioned.
Do they defend all that they do even though it can be harmful or wrong?
Do they operate by humility or are they arrogant and demand you to obey if you are considering otherwise? Or is it done subtly by manipulating you into obeying by statements such as; real Christians obey their leaders, if you were following Jesus you would see what I’m saying is right, and true disciples did not question Jesus?
THINGS TO BE AWARE OF
People telling you how talented you are and saying you can really go places. (flattery goes a long way in cults)
An instant bonding of friendship without your knowing who they are or they really knowing you, they act as your best friend (love bombing still works).
When you ask questions about their history or the group they are vague in their answers or avoid answering them. (not answering or postponing it makes it go away)
Are you required to attend studies, going through the program before you are allowed to be a Christian? (this will attach you to the groups goals)
Are they emphasizing their church and who they are, more than Christ? They teach that one can only be a Christian by joining them. (exclusive spirituality appeals to our pride and works well today)
Cults will always divide the family unit instead of bringing them together. They will make you choose between God and their church. They use scriptures such as Jesus came to bring a sword not peace or one must give up brothers sisters wife and house for the kingdom and be a true follower Children often become the most hurt because of strict rules enforced on them. They lose their childhood and are deeply affected being unable to adjust later on in life. Religious systems that are not balanced can be socially and psychologically disastrous for innocent children. (click here to go to facts on Jehovah Witnesses and children)
What to do when confronted to join
Say you're not interested and do not put up with their badgering and phone calls. Tell them you want time to think about what they are teaching before you become committed to their group. If they pressure you for attendance or continuing in their studies then you know this is not something good.
If you are already a member, leave while it may be easy because it doesn’t get easier to leave later on.
KNOW THE RIGHTS YOU HAVE
You have every right to ask questions, lots of them in fact. Ask about what other churches they are affiliated with.
What is their history and the people involved and those they look up to for spiritual teaching? What books influenced them or what do they read?
What is their doctrine? Are their basic beliefs and philosophy of ministry on paper? If not, why not?
Can you review on paper their revenues, are they open to the people and public? Do they review who gives what to the Church? Are peoples finances monitored?
If others left can you find out why, or is mum the word? Do they allow you to speak to former members? If this is not allowed, this becomes the biggest check in joining quickly. Watch if they become uncomfortable in your asking about their origins or teachings.
Give yourself some time if you're seeking to know God or looking for a church he will give you warnings and lead you. Don’t ignore the warning signs or checks on how they conduct themselves no matter how friendly the people are. Love and emotional attachments are an old ruse to have you accepted without any strings attached. This doesn’t last long. Ask what they do on their spare time. Many times ones talent and creativity is smothered as all their time goes toward the group or church.
Where do all the people in cults come from?
Ron Rhodes writes in his book "The Culting of America," "It is a common myth that unbelievers join Cults." Percentages show that those who join these aberrant groups formerly attended Christian Churches.
Dr. Paul Martin of Wellspring Retreat (where cultists adjust from their harmful experiences) writes, "Twenty-five percent formerly attended evangelical, fundamental churches. Over 40 % had backgrounds in large, more liberal Protestant denominations."
Lately the International Churches of Christ probably have the greatest percentage of Church converts. Because their main goal is to go into the Christian Churches and remove people.
Their are 2 categories of cults one is doctrinally the other is sociologically.
1. Almost all cults deny the Apostles creed which consists of the virgin birth, deity of Christ, his resurrection, his atonement on the cross and the second coming. They have tendency to pronounce other groups as apostate and they alone have the truth.
3. They devalue or deny the deity of Christ.
4. They have Extra sources of biblical revelation. They may use Gods word with something else to interpret it
5. They have salvation by works -either denying God's grace or add performance. It will not always be easy to spot. Mormons say they are saved by grace-this means from death and not the penalty of sin.
6. They will deny a major doctrine. Cult like groups take a minor doctrine and make it a major. Ex: you must speak in tongues to be saved.
The following are basic patterns, or characteristics, found in almost all cults that one can easily identify.
Additions - Cults add to the Word of God by having additional writings they call scripture, or by saying that only the Bible is God's Word but you cannot understand it without their interpretation from their own teachers or books. The Bible is discouraged to be read alone.
Subtraction - Cults subtract from the Person of Jesus by saying he is something less than Eternal Deity. Or they will add their own teacher as deity.
Multiplication - Every false religion has works as part of their system of salvation. They also usually specify what works must be performed at a certain level for acceptance to their group and God.
Mediators- They will always have others involved for ones salvation by others. For the J.W.’s it is the 144,000. for the International Churches of Christ its discipleship partners. For Mormons it is to join their church for salvation and use their materials- Doctrine and Covenants, Journal of Discourses and the Melchizedek priesthood.
Divisive - Cults have people choose by dividing a person's loyalty. It's God through their leadership by claiming to be the only Spokesman or group for God. They also require obedience to their leadership to be in right standing with God. They do not tolerate another’s differing opinions and it is looked upon as being divisive or of the enemy.