What is a Christian Cult?

Being labeled as a “cult” is one way people and political organizations attack traditional christian teaching and promote secularism.

Recently, the Christian Army Church has been slandered on social media as a religious cult because of our traditional stance on marriage, gay rights and advoacy for bible teaching in public schools. These values we have are not unique to other christian churches except we work hard to promote these values in everything we do, including on-line and print media.

Admittedly, our church does do things differently than other churches but one fact is universal. We follow biblical teaching as a way to live in God’s will, to spread the word as written and to help the needy within our community. If these characteristics are radical then we are worthy of the title.

Other churches who don’t consider themselves “Soldiers for Christ” like we do are just as worthy of Christ calling. These churches are considered a “sister” church if they follow sound biblical teaching, discipleship and care for those in need. However, because we stand out from the crowd makes us a juicy target indeed.

But what exactly is a cult? There are many definitions of a religious cult depending on who you ask or what organization is making the definition. For this question lets focus on how other christian writers and organizations define a religious cult.

The blog Christian Today gives us a basic outline of what a christian cult might look like when you step in the door. Here are some general characteristics of a religious cult that distinguish them from our church, the Christian Army:

All-knowing leadership. An individual or group of people claims to be sent by God to “rule” the one true religion—which only includes members of that particular cult.

The Christian Army leadership is based like any other church. We have a board of Directors and a Senior Pastor who come together and examine scripture to determine how best to lead our soldiers for Christ. If the elder board and the Pastor cannot determine a direction through prayer, study and discernment, they seek answers from other church leaders.

We may not have all the answers to problems within our church so we are not afraid to seek counsel from other church leaders who share our statement of faith.

No room for differences. Cult members must believe exactly the same way and in exactly the same things; there is no room for disagreeing with the cult’s rules or doctrines.

The Christian Army Church encourages its members to life according to the lessons found within the bible. Our statement of faith was written directly from God’s teachings and these are not debatable. However, other aspects of our doctrine (uniform requirements, volunteer hours, membership, community service) are open for debate. Some church goers don’t invest in a uniform because of the cost or because they are afraid to stand out in public as a servant of God. These differences have little to do with the bible or bible teaching and therefore disagreements are healthy in this area.

A new and better way. Cults often claim they’ve been given a “special revelation” from God that’s superior to the Bible, or explains what the Bible is really trying to say.

No, The Christian Army Church is not some “enlightened” group of christian’s who found a secrete elevator into heaven. Nevertheless, we strive to give members a mission to study biblical teaching and have their honest faith produce good works through community service, youth ministry or church service.

Down on Christian doctrine. Cults often depict basic Christian doctrines and beliefs (like the Trinity, deity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith) as “full of holes” and completely illogical.

We at the Christian Army Church fully believe the bible is the perfect will of God and complete in every way.

Scriptures get an added twist. Bible verses are often taken out of context or twisted to mean something very different than what was originally intended.

Our church seeks to gather a counsel of wise church elders to pray over issues of disagreement. When or if this fails we look at the writing and research of other theologians to discern the path to take or the correct interpretation of the bible Even as mature Christians we may not always have all the answers. However, our goals is to seek out the truth and come to a consensuses within our leadership team through prayer, discussion and study.

“Christians are wrong.” Cult members believe God has given their group the job of pointing out “heretical and evil” teachings of Christianity.

Yes, some Christian’s and churches are wrong. Churches that support gay rights, radical forms of marriage, abortion, feminism and a host of other social ills that the bible teaches against are “evil”. But this is not the job of a single Church or church leader to point out. It is the job of every bible believing, God following person to point out the error and help the fallen get back in step with Christ.

Works prove faith. Cult members often claim their good works are superior to those performed by Christians, and they say their works prove their religion is the one-and-only truth.

Nobody can go to heaven through works here on the earth. People who believe in Christ and have an authentic relationship with Him will produce good works through faith. False teachers will insist a believers must produce good works to get into heaven. This teaching alone is a sure sign that you are in a church cult.

Salvation is a big unknown. Since cults often teach that salvation is based on performance, cult members can never know if they’ve done everything necessary to get to heaven.

Christian’s know that if you give your heart and mind to Jesus and profess that He died on the cross for our sins is sufficient for us to be saved. However, Jesus desires us to have a direct relationship with Him, as a beloved family member. As we grown in faith we should also grow in our relationship with Jesus who gave His life for our sins.

No exit. Leaving the cult is not an option, and intimidation is often used to keep cult members from even thinking about getting out.

The Christian Army Church does not expect your first born son to be sacrificed in order to leave our church. In fact, many in our youth ministry attend our Cadet Program during the week while attending another church on Sunday. Our goal is to teach the word to everyone who comes through our doors.

As you can see, the Christian Army Church is not the “cult” some on Facebook claim we are. We are your average church that does things a little differently and with a sincere focus on life long discipleship and biblical literacy.

If you ever have any questions please feel free to email me at info@christianarmyusa.org.

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Richard Cassalata
Richard Cassalata is the founder and senior pastor of the Christian Army Church
http://www.christianarmyusa.org

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