Various church leaders argue that any church that differs from their own is a cult. Why? Some find other churches as competitive and influential upon their own congregations. They perceive a threat as long as another church’s teaching continues to affect their members. Often the most influential churches are slandered as “cults” to strike fear and to cause doubt in associating with those churches and their members. Labeling churches as “cults” for such reasons is slander and defamation.
Some churches are spiritually harmful and may even cut off people from salvation. However, such churches are not necessarily abusive as a “cult.”Some church leaders defame almost every differing church from them as a cult. For matters of salvation, anyone who does not believe is the same as an unbeliever. The truth is that someone labels almost every denomination a “cult.”
Distinct Beliefs of Churches of Christ
According to some, every church that does not accept Reformed theology is a a cult, which would include various churches. The churches of Christ are slandered as a cult simply for teaching that Jesus died to save everyone (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9). Some defame the churches of Christ for believing the Scriptures that one can fall from grace (Gal 5:4; Heb 6:4–6). The churches of Christ believe the Bible that sin is an action and not inherited (Rom 5:12; cf. Ezek 18). Many perceive the churches of Christ as dangerous for obeying Jesus’s commands especially for teaching baptism for the forgiveness of sins and salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet 3:21).
What is a Cult?
What is a cult? Most people understand that a cult is a group of a specific and often peculiar belief being led by influential leaders who either trap, abuse, or allow abuse upon their members. Cults abuse socially, emotionally, physically and, or sexually. Cults often threaten and, or delude the thinking of their members into isolation from society and family.
Abuses of Cults
The abuses of cults are in opposition to Christ’s teaching. Most cults hide secret teachings outside the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Cults commonly record confessions of sins and even details of one’s intimacy within marriage for accountability by threat of exposing personal secrets. When a member rebels, the cult leaders believe it to be their responsibility to publicly tell of such “sins.” They justify such actions as necessary to defend the body of believers and to show some corruption for someone leaving them. This is not taught in the Bible. Opposing open sin within congregations is necessary and is the action is only withdrawing association (Matt 18:15–17; 1 Cor 5). For this matter, a small body of believers, a huge hierarchy, and even a society of agnostics can take on the abuses of a cult. In extreme situations, a leader will use such secrets to extort people for money, sex, or influence. Such abuses can consist of the extreme such as forced marriages, pedophilia, orgies, beatings, starving others, forced labor, and so on.
Following Jesus Christ
Did Jesus do this? Jesus walked and taught in the open. Jesus permitted people to come and go in following Him. Jesus lived in all purity of thought and without any abuse of His disciples. While Jesus established a new covenant, that new and different set of beliefs did not make His group of followers into a cult. Christ instructed punishment by withdrawing from those who openly lived sinful lives (Matt 18:15–17; cf. 1 Cor 5). Furthermore, Jesus said that families would be divided over Him and that parents would be against children. Christ instructed His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him and lose their lives to find them (Matt 10:34–39). This does not make Jesus’s followers a cult.
By the definition of a cult, most mainstream churches do not qualify as a cult. They are not abusive socially, emotionally, or physically. They do not isolate members. They have no hierarchy or central leader(s). They have no dictating leader(s).
Someone may disagree with the teachings of the churches of Christ, but God will judge those who misrepresent the positions of others. The churches of Christ have no creed other than the Bible. They rely on the words of Jesus given to the apostles and prophets (Eph 3:1–5). The practices of the church of Christ are open and apparent.
I don’t think the CofC is a cult; I think it is cult-like.
When people accuse your sect of being a cult, they are not using the definition that you are using. In other words, you are not listening to them, and are building a straw man.
What they mean, in my experience, is that the CofC is a cult in that it refuses to acknowledge reality, and binds people to that non-reality. Of course, you cannot see it because you are in it. I’ve proved it here and elsewhere several times in my very simple questions that I’ve asked you (such as “How are your elders legit?” “When did the apostasy begin?” “If the Catholic Church is apostate, then why do you use their Scriptures?”
You’re inability to address basic facts (reality) communicates to thinking people that you are more interested in self-preservation of a system (your self-interpretation is the “true” interpretation), and you and your fellow CofC ministers expect your members to obey–to accept, without thinking, your conclusions. And when they prefer to think, they are banished.
Cults cannot have thinking members, nor can the CofC.
You’re clearly not very familiar with the churches of Christ. Our church servants are mostly not pastors. The Head of the Church is Christ rather than 12th century invention.
Ha! I think I’m more familiar than you, friend. The head of your church is not Christ when the rubber hits the road–it is whomever is most influential as selling his private interpretation to the the congregation. Those who accept his private interpretation are “christian” and those who reject his private interpretation are not. If you actually speak and listen to people who call your sect a cult then you would know that, and you would not need to hide behind straw man definitions. But of course, you won’t.
Christ makes the Truth known not the Pope (John 8:32). Christ is Head not the papal anti-Christ, who makes himself equal to God in name. He and His Apostles interpret their own words over private interpretation, but the Pope interprets for his cult to follow and yet most catholics ignore the Pope when 28% of abortions are from self-proclaimed catholics. Truly, we can read and understand the Scriptures (Eph. 3:3-5) and thus be united (Eph. 4:1-7). If we could not be united, then Christ’s Spirit would not have commanded it (1 Cor. 1:10).
Thank you for proving my initial comment. You crack me up.
I take such a comment as conceding that you have no valid points.
Scott, your inability to stay on topic, and instead direct attention away, is interpreted by people outside your sect as a person who is brainwashed–in a cult. If you ever listened to those who leave your sect you would have learned that. And so I say again, thank you for proving my point.
It is like I am responding to a parrot.
A cult? Nah, just a fringe sect that teaches a false works-based gospel ala the Judaisers in the book of Galatians. The COC could use a fresh reading of Ephesians 2.
How can the Church of Jesus Christ be a sect of the Church of Jesus Christ?
No works-based gospel is taught in the Churches of Christ as you know that we are not obedient to the Law of Moses.
Consider Ephesians 2:4-6 says that we are saved when God has made us alive from dead works saving us by grace and raising us up with Christ. Likewise, Colossians 2:12-13 also speaks of that forgiving grace from all trespasses when we are raised with Christ from being buried with Him in baptism. Therefore, true faith produces works (Jas. 2:4ff), and thus we confess unto salvation and we are saved Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection – when by faith we have died to our sins, been buried with Christ in baptism, and raised with Christ by God’s grace to live in the newness of life (Rom. 6:1-7, 10:9-10). That is the saving Gospel by which we stand (1 Cor. 15:1-4).