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Unmasking the Cults (Zondervan Guide To Cults & Religious Movements Series)

Alan W Gomes

Unmasking the Cults (Zondervan Guide To Cults & Religious Movements Series)

Alan W Gomes

$14.99

Paperback

People today are confronted with a bewildering array ofreligiousgroupsandisms.Inanincreasinglypluralisticculture,thosewhoseekspiritualtruthcaneasilybecomeconfusedordeceived.Bycomparingtheirteachingswiththoseof the Bible, these easy-to-read guidebooks point the waytowardunderstandinganddealingwithawiderangeofmovements.64pageseach,fromZondervan.Alan W Gomes This general guide explains how to recognize cults, how theyoperate,howtowitnesstomembersandhowtoprotectlovedones.

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About "Unmasking the Cults (Zondervan Guide To Cults & Religious Movements Series)"

People today are confronted with a bewildering array ofreligiousgroupsandisms.Inanincreasinglypluralisticculture,thosewhoseekspiritualtruthcaneasilybecomeconfusedordeceived.Bycomparingtheirteachingswiththoseof the Bible, these easy-to-read guidebooks point the waytowardunderstandinganddealingwithawiderangeofmovements.64pageseach,fromZondervan.Alan W Gomes This general guide explains how to recognize cults, how theyoperate,howtowitnesstomembersandhowtoprotectlovedones.
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In this introduction to the Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements, Dr. Gomes defines the characteristics of a "cult of Christianity" and why such a group subverts the search for spiritual truth. He explains the emotional and spiritual appeal of cults, who is susceptible, and the techniques cult leaders use to attract members. This book, in dealing with a wide range of issues relating to cults and religious movements in general, complements the other books in the series, all of which focus on specific religious groups. -- Why this series? This is an age when countless groups and movements, old and new, mark the religious landscape in our culture, leaving many people confused or uncertain in their search for spiritual truth and meaning. Because few people have the time or opportunity to research these movements fully, these books provide essential information and insights for their spiritual journeys. Except for this book, each book in the series has five sections: - A concis
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Unmasking the Cults Copyright 1995 by Alan W. Gomes Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan Publishing House Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gomes, Alan W., 1955- Unmasking the cults / Alan W. Gomes. p. cm. - (Zondervan guide to cults and religious movements) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-310-70441-3 (softcover) 1. Christian sects-United States-Controversial literature. 2. Deprogramming-United States. 3. Evangelistic work-United States. I. Title. II. Series. BR516.5.G66 1994 239-dc20 94-33438 CIPM All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Edited by Patti Picardi Interior design by Art Jacobs Printed in the United States of America 95 96 97 98 99 00 / ?DP/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 To Doug and Jean Gomes: parents who taught me to love the truth. Unmasking the Cults Copyright 1995 by Alan W. Gomes Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gomes, Alan W., 1955- Unmasking the cults / Alan W. Gomes. p. cm.-(Zondervan guide to cults and religious movements) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-310-70441-3 (softcover) 1. Christian sects-United States-Controversial literature. 2. Deporogramming-United States. 3. Evangelistic work-United States. I. Title. II. Series. BR516.5.G66 1994 29-dc20 94-33438 CIP All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Edited by Patti Picardi Interior design by Art Jacobs Printed in the United States of America 95 96 97 98 99 00 /?DP/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Part I: What Is a Cult? I. The Origin of the Word Cult A. Our English word cult comes from the Latin word cultus, which is a form of the verb colere, meaning "to worship or give reverence to a deity." B. Cultus was a general word for worship, regardless of the particular god in question. 1. The Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible, uses the word in the general sense of worship, regardless of the deity in view. For example, in Acts 17 it is used both of the worship of false gods (v. 23) and of the true God (v. 25). 2. The word is also used in Christian Latin texts that speak of the worship of the one true God. C. It is understandable, then, that the word cult would naturally be applied to a religious group of people, but this general meaning is too broad for the present purpose. II. The Preferred Definition of a Cult Throughout this book we will be using the word cult in a very specific, precise way. A. The Preferred Definition A cult of Christianity is a group of people who claim to be Christian, yet embrace a particular doctrinal system taught by an individual leader, group of le
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Meet the Author

Alan W Gomes

Alan W. Gomes (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is associate professor of historical theology and chairman of the department of theology at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.

Table Of Contents

  • Contents
  • How To Use This Book 6
  • I. What Is A Cult? 7
  • Ii. Statistics On Cults 18
  • Iii. Theological Characteristics Of Cults 24
  • Iv. Sociological And Psychological
  • Perspective On Cults And False Religions 47
  • V. Why Do People Join Cults? 81
  • Vi. Keeping People Out Of The Cults 86

Excerpt

Excerpt from: Unmasking the Cults (Zondervan Guide To Cults & Religious Movements Series)

Part I: What Is a Cult? I. The Origin of the Word Cult A. Our English word cult comes from the Latin word cultus, which is a form of the verb colere, meaning 'to worship or give reverence to a deity.' B. Cultus was a general word for worship, regardless of the particular god in question. 1. The Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible, uses the word in the general sense of worship, regardless of the deity in view. For example, in Acts 17 it is used both of the worship of false gods (v. 23) and of the true God (v. 25). 2. The word is also used in Christian Latin texts that speak of the worship of the one true God. C. It is understandable, then, that the word cult would naturally be applied to a religious group of people, but this general meaning is too broad for the present purpose. II. The Preferred Definition of a Cult Throughout this book we will be using the word cult in a very specific, precise way. A. The Preferred Definition A cult of Christianity is a group of people who claim to be Christian, yet embrace a particular doctrinal system taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization, which (system) denies (either explicitly or implicitly) one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian faith as taught in the sixty-six books of the Bible. B. Key Features of the Preferred Definition 1. 'A cult of Christianity. . .' a. A cult is a group that deviates doctrinally from a 'parent' or 'host' religion; that is, cults grow out of and deviate from a previously established religion. b. Although the focus of this book is on cults of Christianity, non- Christian religions (e.g., world religions) have had cults arise from them as well. (1) Cults of Islam include the Sufis and the Nation of Islam. While these groups claim to be Muslim, they deviate fundamentally from the teaching of Islam, from which they are derived. (2) Cults of Hinduism include Hare Krishna, Self-Realization Fellowship, and Vivekananda. c. I have deliberately chosen the expression 'cult of Christianity' in preference to the term 'Christian cult.' (1) Phrases such as 'Christian cult' or 'cultic Christian groups' are confusing because they send mixed signals. For most Christians, the word cult refers to a group that is non- Christian. Therefore, the expression 'Christian cult' is an oxymoron. (2) The expression 'cult of Christianity' makes a clear distinction between Christianity and cults as well as highlighting the derivative nature of cults. 2. '. . . is a group of people . . .' a. One individual with unorthodox views does not constitute a cult. An individual with unorthodox theology is a heretic, but he or she must gain a following before we can meaningfully speak of a cult. b. There is no other prescribed size, however, which must be reached before a group qualifies as a cult. (1) Some cults are quite small, having only a handful of followers, while other cults number into the millions. (2) Some cults that have started with very few members have grown into the millions (e.g., Mormonism), while others that at one time had significant followings have become all but extinct (e.g., the Shakers). 3. '. . . who claim to be Christian . . .' a. It is important to make a distinction between groups that claim to be Christian and those that make no such profession. (1) For example, it would not be meaningful to speak of Islam as a cult of Christianity since it makes no claim to be Christian. Indeed, Muslims are generally anti-Christian. Islam is a world religion that opposes Christianity, but it is not a cult. (2) Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, however, do qualify as cults of Christianity because they claim to be Christian---indeed, to be the only true Christian group on earth. b. Note: A group that admits it is not Christian is not somehow innocuous simply because it is not a cult of Christianity. (1) All belief systems and worldviews that deny the gospel are false, and therefore lead men and women away from the true God of the Bible. (2) The point is that not all false belief systems are wrong in the same way: Cults are false in their claim to be true representations of Christianity, while avowedly non-Christian religions are false in their denial of Christianity. c. The distinction between cults of Christianity and openly non- Christian belief systems is not merely academic. On a practical level, one approaches a member of a cult differently from a person who is hostile to the very notion of the Christian faith. 4. '. . . yet embrace a particular doctrinal system . . .' a. A group must hold to a set of religious doctrinal beliefs (e.g., about God, sin, salvation) to qualify as a cult. b. A group that makes no religious statements whatever---even if eccentric in other respects---is not a cult. For example, imagine a lodge whose members dress up each Thursday evening in moose antlers and lederhosen. The lodge president calls the meeting to order by blowing on an enormous curved horn. After reading the minutes from the previous week, members play a rousing game of bingo for two hours. The meeting closes with the lodge anthem ('a moose is kind, thrifty, and cheerful to everyone he meets'), and the members return home. Now, if our imaginary lodge makes no statements about God, sin, salvation, the afterlife, etc., then such a group is not even a religion, much less a false religion or cult. c. In saying that the group embraces a doctrinal 'system,' this does not mean that the system must be highly complex, sophisticated, or thorough. (1) The complexity of cultic belief systems varies considerably from group to group. (2) For example, the Watchtower Society espouses a relatively comprehensive system of doctrine, while the Children of God are less systematic and comprehensive in their belief system. Both groups, however, hold a belief system, and one contrary to the Christian faith. 5. '. . . taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization . . .' a. Some cults, such as the Children of God, the Unification Church, and the Branch Davidians, look to a strong, authoritarian 'prophet' as the source of truth. b. In other cults, authority resides in a group of leaders or an organization. For example, the Jehovah's Witnesses claim that the Watchtower Society's Governing Body is the 'faithful and discreet slave,' who dispenses 'doctrinal food in due season.'

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Product Details

Product in Series
Product Details
  • Catalogue Code 70945
  • Product Code 0310704413
  • EAN 9780310704416
  • UPC 025986704414
  • Pages 94
  • Department Academic
  • Category World Religions
  • Sub-Category General
  • Publisher Zondervan
  • Publication Date Apr 1995
  • Sales Rank #19041
  • Dimensions 215 x 139 x 7 mm
  • Weight 0.117kg

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