Jude 3, Contend…for the faith…once…delivered.
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3, emphasis added)
In recent year there has been great awareness brought upon the subject of non-Christian cults by Christian apologetic organizations whose mission it is to defend the “historic Christian faith” against teachings they consider to be contrary to the Bible and to traditional or normative Christian theology and tradition.
Many well-meaning and sometimes misguided Christians in their zeal to protect Christian beliefs from the onslaught of cult groups who are attempting to missionize those around them including Christians have developed a fortress-like mentality where they deem everything a cult that does not agree with their understanding of the “historic Christian faith”. Yet many of these same Christians would be hard-pressed to give a dictionary definition of the word cult or to define it in terms of the sociological, psychological and theological perimeters laid out by those Christian theologians who have been pioneers in the area of cult awareness, Christian apologetics to cultists and defining what a cult is.
The author has a unique perspective on the subject of cultism having been born and raised in a name-brand cult till age 30 where upon leaving the cult he became an ordained Christian evangelist in a major Christian (Protestant) denomination where he evangelized those bound up in cultism.
Let us first define from Webster’s Dictionary the word cult:
- 1) a particular system of religious worship;
- 2) an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing;
- 3) the object of such devotion;
- 4) a group or sect bound together by devotion to or veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc…
- 5) religion that is considered or held to be false or unorthodox (Webster’s Encyclopedia of the English Language, Random House, 1983).
How does the late Dr. Walter Martin, author of the famous book, The Kingdom of the Cults and founder of the anti-cult, Christian apologetic organization, The Christian Research Institute in southern California define a cult. In the above-named book on page 11, quoting a Dr. Braden, Martin writes: “A cult…is any religious group which differs significantly in some one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious groups which are regarded as the normative expression of religion in our total culture [emphasis added].”
To properly answer the question stated in the title of this article, Is the Hebrew Roots Movement cultic or is Christianity a cult? We must ask and explore the following questions: What is normative? No doubt, whatever the majority is believing at a particular point in history could be called normative. But is the majority always right? Who is the majority now? Was it always the majority? These are questions that need to be asked and addressed when defining the word “cult.”Continue reading