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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Is Christianity a cult?

The purpose of this blog is by no mean intended to put Christianity down but rather, I am trying to take a closer look if the notion ‘Christianity is a cult’ holds any water or not?

Now you may ask who alleged ‘Christianity is a cult"?

Well, I must admit I didn’t hear it too often but I can tell you, the Jewish community generally thinks this is the case and as a matter of fact, this has been confirmed by a highly regarded Rabbi whose name I would rather withhold for professional reasons … basically for reasons I have mentioned in the previous blog as follows: -

1. Belittled Sabbath
2. Never Circumcise
3. Disregard Kosher
4. Idolate (The Lord)


and most important of all, guess the Orthodox Jewry was being seriously threatened by the exceptionally charming or ultra charismastic Jesus, back then.

So what is a cult? According to answers.com, cult (kŭlt) means

1.a. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
1. b. The followers of such a religion or sect.
2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
3. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
4. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.
5. a. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
5.b. The object of such devotion.
6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.

Well, it looks like it is and yet it is not exactly so … Let's take at look at an alternative site “Is Christianity a cult?” at RationalChristianity.net for some clues ...

Among others, they say “Unfortunately, there are Christian and pseudo-Christian individuals and groups who exhibit one or more of the following characteristics” but it also said “Biblical-based Christianity is not a cult and does not support the use of cultic practices”.

1. Overly aggressive evangelization
Granted, there are many Christians who are too aggressive in their attempts to share their faith, not to mention times in history when people were forcibly converted. Yet forced evangelism and/or conversion are not supported by the Bible.

Question: What I don’t understand is why our almighty Lord needs aggressive evangelists? Why can’t He just drop by when we are ‘dreaming’ to spread the gospel?

2. False teaching: Hyperexclusivism
Does Christianity make such a claim? It does claim that Jesus is the only way to God, but it also claims that this path is available to everyone and has been taken by people throughout all of history. It does not restrict membership in heaven to a certain number of people, people who belong to a certain race,[5] or those who joined a very specific church or denomination.[6] Nor does it claim that before the appearance of Jesus (or Abraham or Moses), no one had any access to truth or knowledge of God.[7]

Question: What about the statement ‘only Born Again Christians can go to heaven’?

3. Brainwashing
Does Christianity forbid asking hard questions about its doctrines?

Alright, then proof it by answering my questions (mine are not even that hard, I think) …

4. Financial exploitation
Unfortunately, there are Christian organizations whose primary focus is fundraising and who may even resort to deception in order to line the pockets of their leaders. This practice is directly opposed to the teachings of the Bible, which condemns greed and trusting in wealth,[13] giving under compulsion[14] and exploitation of the poor.[15] wouldn't think he was motivated by greed.

What do you say about the followings?

- “Never come to worship me without bringing an offering” (Ex. 23:15)
- “The Lord said to Moses, ‘When you take a census of the people of Israel, each man is to pay me a price for his life, …Everyone must pay this in an offering to me” . (Ex. 30:11-13)
- “The first born of an animal already belongs to the Lord … A calf, a lamb, or a kid belongs to the Lord, but the first born of an unclean animal may be bought back at the standard price. Plus an additional 20%” (Lev. 27:26,27).
- "One-tenth of all the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, belongs to the Lord.” (Lev.27:30).

- “…Lord’s permanent property; it shall belong to the priest” (Lev. 27:21)

- More at
“ Monotheism I : Judaism & Christianity were Polytheisms?”

5. Emotional exploitation
Do Christians target young adults, the elderly and others who might be vulnerable to exploitation? Christians often do focus evangelistic efforts on a particular segment of society …

You bet … please ask around under what circumstances do people normally found the Lord?

Before I touch on other faiths, I'dmost probably take a closer at the various so called 'disobeying God' factors from 'belittling Sabbath' to 'Idolating God' and why I said Christianity is probably better off without the 'disobeying God' factors?

Anyway, say what you like, Christianity is and will remain one of my favorite faiths, so for Christ sake, let’s say Christianity is NOT a cult!

24 Comments:

Blogger Creationism said...

"for Christ sake, let’s say Christianity is NOT a cult!"

That is the only sensible sentence you have mentioned so far ...

1:38 AM  
Blogger GorgeouslyGeorgina said...

uhmmm..you got me thinkin bout that huh?..well im just a newbie here..so im really hopin id enjoy the blogging and stuffs! visit me in my profile.. cheers!!!!!

5:04 AM  
Blogger -RM said...

I've been thinking about this for the longest time...especially since I've been fixated on death. My biggest quarrel with Christianity is that I wonder what the entrance to heaven before Jesus was like, must've been hard with a G-d that is relatively angry throughout the Old Testament. The other thing is, the constant hypocrisy of "love thy neighbor" and anti-homosexual and anti-nonbeliever, and anti-other religious following sentiments.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Chris Nystrom said...

The answer totally depends on who Jesus is.

11:38 AM  
Blogger ~*~Sarah~*~ said...

No, it's not.
A cult, by definition, doesn't even make sense in this entry.
Great conversation though-- it definitely opens some avenues of thought.
For those who are truly aware of what they believe, this will strengthen the convictions they have.
For the rest of us, it gives a little comfort to the fact that NOONE knows-- one must believe on blind faith if they truly are BELIEVERS.
Take that how you wish...

12:10 PM  
Blogger allison said...

i think people who bomb abortion clinics and want to "fry" everyone who commits a crime are nuts.

12:14 PM  
Blogger loren said...

You're kind of hard to figure out. The questions you've raised deserve fair answers but that would take a while.

'Cult' comes from the Latin word 'cultis' which simply means a group of people. It's the same root word we get 'culture' from. And everyone's culture is right in their own eyes - it becomes a circular argument.

Since you've offered a Jewish perspective on Christianity, I think it's fair to say that we believe Jesus is the Messiah their prophets foretold. Objectively speaking, if they would agree that the evidence matched this conclusion, they would see fulfillment and not conflict. So here's a link for anyone who would like to pursue that question from the Old Testament point of view:

http://sufferingsandglory.blogspot.com

Why does God need aggressive evangelists? Why not just send dreams? Not a bad question. Actually, God does a world of preparation in the life of each person just to prepare them to hear the gospel. The evangelist becomes a very junior partner at a crucial point, and then he becomes irrelevant again. Here's another link that would discuss this at length:

http://www.pold.blogspot.com/2005/05/links-for-pre-evangelism-module.html

That's probably enough for now, but I may return later and address some of the other questions on your list.

12:25 PM  
Blogger josh said...

1. Aggresive evangelization is on the way out in the church. Now the church is trying to get back to what it should have from the beginning relationship building, and using your life as evangelization.(see Jesus and His disciples.

2. The Bible does make the claim that Jesus is the only way to God. It's in John 14 around verse six. There is no time before Jesus, He is and was the firstborn over all creation and is an eternal "being", and eternity goes both ways..

3. Christianity does not forbid asking tough questions. Jesus repeatedly gets after His disciples for not looking deeper into things.

4. The Bible does not condemn giving under complusion. One is supposed to give no matter what, it's a discipline. some "Christian" organizations are run by greed, I'd argue they aren't very Christian.

-our lives are to be a sacrifice(Romans 12:1-2)
-the census that Moses took, isn't taken anymore, you can't take the Bible out of context.
-once again, taking the Bible out of context. EAch passage MUST be read in the context of itself and then in the context of the whole Bible.
-one-tenth of everything you make is supposed to go to the LORD, then organizations wouldn't have to ask for money.
-we don't have the priest system from the Old Testament, that was part of the point of Jesus dying on the cross in the first place.

5. I don't think there is any merit to this statement. Broad generalization.

good post though, brings up many good questions that many people think can't be answered. drop by and ask any more questions if you'd like. I won't say I have all the answers...but I do try and answer all the questions.

12:32 PM  
Blogger BLOODLESS said...

Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

1:05 PM  
Blogger funkysmell said...

HOly #@$%!
What's that picture?

1:52 PM  
Blogger Hunter said...

Christianity is not even close to being a cult!!

2:06 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Christianity-following Christ's teaching-isn't a cult. It is when the religion becomes its own Godform then it becomes cultish and damaging.

3:28 PM  
Blogger La Bona said...

email comment from NEPTUNE COMICS

I’d say it really depends upon ones concept of a cult. I checked out your blog and even from the definition you have there, depending upon which definition you choose, one could answer yes or no. Some would probably say any religion is a cult, as it is not based in scientific fact but rather in belief and ritual. Others say that if the rituals and beliefs differ from their own, the other groups are a cult, while theirs is “the one true faith.” I know someone personally who believes that anyone who belongs to a specific religion belongs to a cult because in the Bible there is no established religion. He doesn’t believe that being a Christian means you are part of a cult, only if you strictly follow a specific religion rather than the teachings of the Bible itself. I tend to agree with this on some levels, because often religious practices are someone else’s interpretations and rituals incorporated into basic biblical teachings. I grew up as a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, and was taught that I couldn’t pray with or go to church with people of other religions because their practices were false and basically I’d be risking my eternal soul if I did so. I couldn’t even be a girl scout because there are other religions in that and they all prey together. Now I look back at that and it does seem like a very cultish belief. But then again, don’t Roman Catholics teach that their religion is the one true religion? Yet where in the Bible does Jesus instruct people not to eat fish on Friday or to pray to saints? Members of these major religious groups often refer to smaller, “non-branded” religious groups as cults because they don’t see eye-to-eye. In your blog you discuss the Jewish interpretation of Christianity as a cult. That’s interesting too, because again it is a major religious group’s evaluation of another religious group whose beliefs and practices differ from their own. Jews tend not to proselytize or recruit new members, where many Christian faiths do. Judaism is a combination of religious beliefs and cultural heritage, where Christianity is belief based only—you don’t have to have genealogical roots from a specific area to be a Christian. I can see where Jews might see Christians as being members of a cult in that there are so many different sub-types of Christians compared to the Jewish religion. But I could see Christians seeing Jews as being a cult in that the roots of the religion go far deeper than just belief and tradition and that they tend to be seen as exclusionary to those who are not of the nation of Israel. So, Jews see Christians as a cult, Catholics see non-demonational congregations as cults, Christians see Muslims as a cult… basically it seems that it’s just a term one religion uses to negatively describe another. “If my religion differs greatly in belief and practice from that one, then they must be a cult.” In my opinion, I don’t know that any of them are a cult, or even that a cult can truly be defined unless you apply it to any group of people that shares a set of spiritual beliefs and practices, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, or other. So, an individual Christian would not be a cult, but the group of them would be. In the most general sense, this is the case. Today cult tends to have a negative connotation, but based specifically on its definition, I think that any religious group fits it. So, yes Christianity, as any other religion, is a cult. Yet are they a fanatical group? Do they deserve the negative connotation that’s implied from the word today? Most do not. That’s my take on it anyway. I tend to use the term cult to describe small fanatical groups who blindly follow a leader who seems to disregard religious teachings that others in the main version of their religion follow. For example, Al Quieda suicide terrorist group—cult spun out of Muslim tradition, the Branch Dividian group—spun out of Christianity. These groups use the main religion to bring people together, but then incorporate rituals and teachings that are in direct conflict with the main religion. I tend to see a cult as a group brought together under false beliefs, not based on my beliefs but when compared to the religion they claim to be following.

www.neptunecomics.com
the area's premiere source for comics, manga and related merchandise

4:17 PM  
Blogger La Bona said...

email comment from Mike (srlsummerhome@excite.com)

Christianity as preached by people like Jones definitely falls into the cult category.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Miss Eagle said...

Thank you for your comment at The Eagle's Nest. Your site is most interesting. I will be linking my site to yours. On the question of whether Christianity is a cult - here is the answer I posted on my site in response to you:
Yes, I do believe that Christianity shows many of the signs that indicate a cult:
1. It is counter-cultural
2. It takes what would be considered by many as extreme stands such as giving away your resources in expectation of much greater returns or rewards
3. Giving up family
4. Truth is embodied in one human being
5. It often promotes death as being a better thing and has encouraged martyrdom within its community
6. Has promoted exclusivism i.e. separating light from darkness
7. Turning around ones life to another direction
8. Rites of initiation and passage
9. Encourages depth of study in the sacred book of the community.
10. Encourages singlemindedness of purpose in following the teachings of the leader.

None of the above deter me from following my Lord, Christ Jesus

6:55 PM  
Blogger Kiwi Ana said...

Well, I'm going to take the advice of my father at this stage. He advised me never to discuss Religion or Politics. So I won't.

Good read though.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Maryellen said...

now this looks like an interesting site, guess I'll put it on my links for when I'm ready to get back into blogging.
just a quick comment to -rm about what entrance to heaven was like before Jesus...
there never was a before jesus time, and i believe you don't have to be a Christian to get in, you never had to be a Christian to get in, but you always had to pass by Jesus, it is and always has been his call on who gets in and who doesn't, and he looks at the heart not the religious affilitation of a person.
and technically speaking, Christianity is a cult as far as Judeism is concerned, and get a grasp of this...Lutherism, Protestantism is a cult of Catholicism.

7:54 PM  
Blogger The Wisdom of Wislon said...

Oh i've seen pictures of dead people but that was just gross. I have no strong beliefs to follow any particular religion but i'm interested in many. I'm interested in people generally.

Your site is somewhat different but gets a reaction which is a large reason for why we blog isn't it?

9:03 AM  
Blogger La Bona said...

email comment from Jared A

It is in my opinion that most, if not all religions, begin as a cult, Christian or otherwise. Most modern faiths can be called one or the other. The differences between the words cult and religion is slim. Their biggest distinction however, is that the word "cult" is seen in a negative connotation while "religion" is viewed in a more positive one. As I see it, a cult is called a "cult" when others view it as being so different from their own beliefs that they find it threatening. It should also be remembered that the word cult does not only apply to extremist groups since there are also extremists in many "religions." It is more probable to say that a cult becomes classified as a religion once it is widely enough accepted by a large number of people. So is Christianity a cult? I believe that it was once a cult with a few, maybe twelve, disciples, but has now become a full fledged religion with millions of followers throughout the world. Whatever you choose to call it, the difference is nothing more than pure semantics.

9:32 AM  
Blogger La Bona said...

email comment from Scott Tubman

A cult is classically defined by the following characteristics:

1. Cult's claim a source of authority outside of the Bible (and in this way break with Biblical Christianity)
2. They also devalue the person and/or work of Jesus Christ. He alone is not enough for salvation but you have to join their group, pray like them etc
3. The group teaches that unless you belong to their exclusive community you can't be saved
4. They can show certain obsessive tendencies (not allowed to visit your families etc)

Obviously there's a bit more to it than that but that's at least a start.

If that's the case, then Christianity isn't a cult at all. Even though the claims of Jesus are exclusive (I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me) it doesn't make it a cult, as there are thousands of churches all around the world from many denominations who teach this Biblical Christianity.

At it's core, Christianity is about Jesus Christ. That He is God's King who has come to rescue those living in God's world but who have rejected God's claim over their lives (you and me both La Bona!) His death on the cross took the penalty that our sin deserved and enabled us to have a restored relationship with God.

Let me know what you think, although I have a feeling we come from 2 very different worlds, I'm happy to chat some more.

NB: Thanks Scott, I'd try revert back to you ASAP.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Anything taken to its extreme is too much. Christianity and Catholicism as a whole aren't a cult. We don't force anyone to do anything. Any "initiations" or beliefs are taken and upheld through a person's own free will. La Bona hit it pretty much on the head. As humans we're imperfect beings, suceptible to sin and sin is the root of all pain if you really think about it. Starvation, war, crime, they all tie back to sin. When people say "cult" the first thing ou really think of is Waco Texas and groups that drink poisoned Kool-Aid to mass suicide together. While some religions may be a little more extreme than others (ie holy Jihads/wars etc) they really don't fit the technical definition of a cult.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Rob Wilkerson said...

La Bona,

Thanks for the post. And thanks for referring me here from your comments on mine. Well put. Concise, simple to understand. Case is pretty clear. Another item I consider to be an element of a cult is whether it requires us to give our sole allegiance to a human being or beings. Mormonism requires submission to the apostleship and Smith's works. JW's require submission to Russell's teachings. Catholic church requires submission to pope. Muslims require submission to Mohammed's writings. Etc. Etc.

Thanks again.

9:41 AM  
Blogger coralhei said...

This atheist's very sane and rational Christian wife would likely respond with, "That's not the right question to ask." Does the classification of Christianity matter? Maybe the real question is, "Does Christianity relate to truth?" or better yet, "What does Christianity tell us to do?" "What solutions does Christianity offer for the world's problems?"

10:53 AM  
Blogger Shattered Orb said...

All religions preach sedition and discontent in fellow man in some form, bacause all teach that those who do not follow their chosen path are unclean / less worthy. All religions are by definition cults, so give me clean aethism any day

Holly

7:06 PM  

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WARNING: Blind obsession with prophecy can be perilous or even fatal, reader discretion is advised! Submitted to God as His worldly Activist on a non-exclusive basis since June 15, 2005 1:00 am ET. “La Bona” is a professional name inspired by God; it means "The Righteous", “The Virtuous” or simply “The Good” in Esperanto (a neutral international language). DivineTalk® is an Open Commentary Forum dedicated to God for His Children to engage in dialogue, discourse and debate on laws, standards and values on morality, lifestyle, ethics, business and just about anything else related to their life. God enlightened to have His Words improvised and updated with the prevailing circumstances so that the divine guidance, dogma and policy will evolve with time and stay relevant to His Children in the very era they live in as the way forward. La Bona is a Truth Seeker, Myth Buster, Freedom Fighter, Cyber Activist, Liberal Animal, Good Samaritan, Messiah Wannabe and in order to serve His Children of diverse backgrounds, La Bona is motivated and aim to eventually multitask as Divine Representative, Contemporary Prophet, Celestial Executive, Deity Clairvoyant, Holy Spiritualist ...

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