DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: It seems like we used to hear a lot about cults a decade or so ago, but I hardly hear anything about them today. Why is that? Have most of them faded away? — M.L.
DEAR M.L.: A few cults do seem to have faded away or lost their appeal. Some, for example, are built around the strong personality of a domineering leader, and once he or she dies many followers drift away.
I can assure you, however, that other cults are still active and aggressively recruiting new members. Some claim to have Christian roots (although they reject the Gospel), while others draw their beliefs from a variety of philosophies or religions.
Almost all claim that they, and they alone, have discovered the path to spiritual enlightenment or the way to heaven. They often demand total obedience and may require a convert to leave their family or give all their money to the group.
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How can you recognize a cult? First, ask what they believe about Jesus. The Bible says he was the unique son of God, fully God and fully man, but cults deny this. Then ask what they teach about salvation.
The Bible says only Christ can save us, and we cannot save ourselves. But cults deny this, saying our salvation depends on our own efforts. Finally, ask what they believe about the Bible. Is it, and it alone, God’s word, or do they add to it or reject it?
Make certain of your own commitment to Jesus Christ, and don’t be deceived by the false teachings of those who deny the truth of God’s Good News in Christ. Pray, too, for those who might be misled by them. The Bible warns that in the last days “evildoers and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).
Tribune Media Services 8/22