Is it a cult?

Posted: December 27, 2012 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Let’s be honest first off, anthropologically speaking every religion is a cult.

Dictionary.com provides these definitions:

cult

/kʌlt/ Show Spelled [kuhlt] Show IPA

noun

1.

a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2.

an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3.

the object of such devotion.
4.

a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5.
Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
Yet when we hear the term cult, we picture more nefarious ends ala Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (Jeffs/Blackmore pedophile bride ring); Jonestown (Jim Jones however started out as a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor); Hale Bop Suicide Cult; Raelians; David Koresh & Waco, etc.
Yet do these types of cults exist outside the realm of death and mayhem? Is it possible to be apart of a mainstream religious group but to have your local sect have become a cult?
This is a point to ponder, so for you dear reader here are some points to ponder about whether or not you have stepped into a cult (of celebrity; hobby group; political, and/or religious), and if you think you have, the best advice is to: R-U-N!!!!
  • Only one person, or a small circle are allowed to provide teaching/interpretation of the sacred (and/or ideology).
  • When one raises questions or makes others uncomfortable they are quickly asked to leave.
  • Weaker or most insecure members of family units are targetted with half-truths to create disharmony and to retain these targetted family members even if it means their own family units falling apart.
  • One (or a select few) are elevated to the point of veneration above or equal to that of the deity being worshipped. Thought such as “this wouldn’t be possible without so-so” as opposed to it being centered on the Holy.
  • Money sometimes becomes the target of obsession
  • No focus given to growing understanding, mentoring or discipling of followers. Rather having them frozen at the simplest of infancy stages in spiritual development as to stem the ability of critical thinking/engagement with the sacred.
  • Tend to be a place of rescue, that ties ones own victory over darkness to association with the organization/leader.
  • Indoctirnation over discipleship.
  • Leadership boards/councils are shrouded in mystery
  • No one has full picture of how the complete organization functions (this allows for easier ways to oust members who can be viewed as troublesome).
  • No one allowed to question the leaders.

Surely though, we are apart of a respectable denomination that does not allow for such lone wolf games to develop. Yet even within denominations with oversight committees local congregations can still develop a cult like following where the pastor becomes more venerated than Christ, or the Bible is raised up and above the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Those called to the vocation of the Pew can be the most effective in healing the church and removing these cancers by voting with their feet and finding healthier homes. But will we?

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