Last Updated on : November 23, 2014

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What Is A "Cult"?
By Julio B. Scaramastro




For quite a few years the evangelical churches have made every effort possible to define the word "cult" in a way which excludes them and includes everybody who disagrees with them. The sole purpose for doing this is to stigmatize these groups as those who one of their members should not get involved with. This in fact makes them more fanatical than the groups that they are stigmatizing. In a country such as our's (the USA) where free speech and free thinking is supposed to be followed at all times, this is a serious violation of these principles. It is an absolute effort to control the minds of their members to do exactly what they want them to do and to believe what they teach them to believe. It is felt that what should be advised is that every effort be made to understand where these groups stand relative to the Bible and to know why or why not they are wrong. Any effort to impede this process violates the tenets of this country, the process of logical thinking, and what the Scripture teaches when it says in Isa. 8:20:

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Here we have the advice that we must study the Word to find out whether the claims of someone is true or not. Thus it is stated in Acts 17:10-11:

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

This passage indicates how eager the people were to receive what Paul was saying (remembering he was the Apostle to the Gentiles) and checked and tested everything he had to say with the Scriptures. As a consequence to this studying, they were commended. Of course, Paul would remind us of an important principle when he would tell us in 2 Tim. 3:15-17:

And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Here we see Paul teaching that it is wise to train up a child in the way of the Scriptures which will give him life. He also makes it clear that all Scripture (emphasis -- ALL Scripture) not just some or part, but the whole of the Book that Yahweh has given us, is good to protect and admonish and edify us in all the ways that are necessary for full growth into adult spiritualhood. The Scriptures thus demonstrate the complete opposite to what the evangelicals are teaching. Thus they are clearly the antithesis (complete opposite) of the Scriptures. With this understanding of the evangelical movement's viewpoint, it is interesting to note what the definition of "cult" really is in Webster's Third New International Dictionary Unabridged:

cult \kelt\ n -s [F & L; F culte, fr. L caltus care, cultivation, culture, adoration, fr. cultus, past part. of colere to till, cultivate, dwell, inhabit, worship - more at WHEEL]

1.  religious practice: WORSHIP
2. a system of beliefs and ritual connected with the worship of a deity, a spirit, or a group of deities or spirits (the cult of Apollo) (the earth cult)
3.   a: the rites, ceremonies, and practices of a religion: the formal aspect of religious experience (dissent occurs in all three fields of expression of religious experience, in doctrine, in cult, and organization - Joachim Wach)
3. b Roman Catholicism: reverence and ceremonial veneration paid to God or to the Virgin Mary or to the saints or to objects that symbolize or otherwise represent them (as the crucifix or a statue) - called also cultus; compare DULIA, HYPERDULIA, LATRIA
4: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious (the exuberant growth of fantastic cults); also: a minority religious group holding beliefs regarded as unorthodox or spurious: SECT (provided a haven for persecuted cults)
5: a system for the cure of disease based on the dogma, tenets, or principles set forth by its promulgator to the exclusion of scientific experience or demonstration
6.   a:great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing (the cult of success); esp:such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad or fetish (the cult of art-for-art's sake)
b: the object of such devotion (square dancing has developed into something of a cult - R.L.Taylor)
c (1): a body of persons characterized by such devotion (America's growing cult of home fixer uppers - Wall Street Jour.)
(2): a usu. small or narrow circle of persons united by devotion or allegiance to some artistic or intellectual program, tendency, or figure (as one of limited popular appeal) (the exclusive cult of those that profess to admire his esoteric verse)
synonym see RELIGION

The first thing that we notice in the primary number one definition is that ALL religions are indeed a cult. This is reinforced in both the second and third definitions provided. Thus we can understand that the evengelicals are trying to utilize a very specific application from the fourth and on definitions. In this manner they totally ignore the primary definitions of the word "cult" for it would incriminate them if the word was used in a negative fashion as they are trying to do. Also notice in the discussion of the origins of the word "cult", one can see that the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed fall under these presentations of origins (cultivation, culture, etc.) when one looks at his parable called the Parable of the Sower. This parable is found in the first three of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). Here he discusses the work of a farmer or sower who is going out to plant (cultivate) his crop. Of course, the various sections of his field are described and the fruits are discussed. Obviously the Lord Jesus Christ knew and understood what it was to be a good sower or cultivator of his fields. We can also clearly state that the Lord Jesus Christ was the developer of the original christian cult. In fact, he was considered an unorthodoxed and spurious sect by the Jews (4 above), he was the object of his followers' devotion (6b), he was the center of a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing (6a). His followers would be described as a body of persons characterized by such devotion (6c1). In other words, everything that can be said about him and what he taught is exactly what the evangelical groups would be using to prove that he was the leader of a cult in a negative sense. In other words, they would have made excellent pharisees and sadducees of the first century! In fact, that demonstrates they would willingly have been his crucifiers!

It is very interesting that in this definition (3b) we have a specific application to the Roman Catholic Church which in their (the evangelical's) writings is not mentioned. Why do we ask that this is the case? It is because the Scriptures teach wholeheartedly that the Roman Catholic church is apostate and is referred to as a religious prostitute and that all of these churches are but her harlot daughters. Rev. 17:4-6:

And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

Without going into details on this subject, the explanation can be found on our website study center at:

The Thirteen Lectures of the Apocalypse

The Exposition of Daniel

We can see from this that since they have very similar major doctrines they could not attack the Catholic church without attacking themselves. We would advise all concerned that they study their Bibles instead of their church creeds, for it is in the Bible as demonstrated above that they will find the exact answer to what the Truth is.