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Old 06-03-2018, 09:57 AM   #1
UntoHim
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Default How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

HOW NOT TO BE DECEIVED BY CULTS
(EVEN CHRISTIAN ONES)

By Todd Fishkind

Deception has certain telltale signs, which apply not only with cults like the Watchtower, the Mormons, the mind sciences, and endless others. These signs also apply for true believers, who are prone to get caught up in a mighty rushing wind of good-sounding, but deceptive doctrine.
The following checkpoints are by no means exhaustive, but here are some prominent signs to watch out for:

1) WHEN THERE'S ALWAYS A STUDY GUIDE:
There's always some study guide, a "key to the scriptures," or, some founder's writing, in order to provide the true interpretation, or the INSPIRED word (as opposed to the literal word), or to "complete the revelation" of the Bible. These guides lead you down narrow corridors of thought, and are intended to keep, (and often discourage), you from studying on your own. This is often reinforced with powerful group dynamics of fear, and an intensely loyal following. Not all study guides are bad, of course. But, be careful with special editions, which may highlight certain aspects of scripture, to the exclusion, or even negation, of others. Or which imply, in any way, that the standard versions are not enough.

Be especially careful of any remade version, bearing the instrumentality or image of an apostle, popular teacher or tele-evangelist.
Beware of too many private interpretations and novel opinions, which have the effect of alienating and isolating you, and your church, from the Lord's body at large.
Also, be careful with people who bear a theme of restoration, who sincerely seek to bring back a radical, pure, New Testament church life, but who have a spirit of exclusion; who regard all other ministries as "off", or "out to lunch", or simply less fortunate than they are, because, they do not have THE revelation.

2) AN UNTEACHEABLE SPIRIT:
An unteachable spirit with a popular leader whom you respect. Such a person will not receive correction from outside; and is seldom, if ever, approached from within, due to control, legalism, fear of man, and often an authoritarian, top-down style; intense loyalty for one's group, (an "us against all the world" mentality), political correctness, etc.
Suspect leaders are always "right"; and seldom, if ever, repent before their following; and are insensitive toward the consensus of father-figures in the Lord's Body. They do not recant their positions when proven wrong, but merely modify them, and cite persecution against the Lord's "true followers" when they are questioned or criticized.
One must be willing to give up being right; one must be willing to be found wrong, many times, along the path of life, in order to obtain truth, and to remain in truth. And, what is truth, but a person?... Jesus. "I am the way, the truth and the Life; no one comes unto the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)
And, what does He require but humility? (Micah 6:8)
God gives grace to the humble.

3) INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE WITH TEACHING, INSTEAD OF INTERPRETING TEACHING WITH SCRIPTURE:
This is the highway to deception. And it happens everywhere. Beware, when you are told not to question teachings, or that you are "out of your league", or too young a believer to understand.
Beware, if you are told that "you don't have the measure, insight or capacity to question such things." This is elitist thinking.
There's nothing wrong with honest questions, coming from pure motives.
Be careful when you are told to just trust leaders, when they are not willing to trust you. Be willing to walk the fine line, the tightwire of balance, even when it means social reproach, or falling out of favor with some.
Beware, when no one around you is exercising personal discernment before the Lord. Especially, beware, if such discernment is discouraged. The Bereans, in the book of Acts, were commended for testing apostolic teaching with scripture. Scripture also tells us, ALL of us, (not just an elite few), to try the spirits, to TEST ALL THINGS, and hold fast to what is true.

4) A STARSTRUCK AND SPELLBOUND FOLLOWING:
Watch out, when a charismatic (gifted) leader is SO popular, has such force of persuasion, and enjoys such a loyal following (especially the exclusivist kind), that people hang on to his or her EVERY WORD, as though it were scripture itself. Like the canonizing of saints, their every musing, out of their times of devotion, are assumed to be right from the throne of heaven.
This is especially suspect, because, this kind of leader ALLOWS his following to be so taken with him, and seems to enjoy being the center of focus. A true Christian leader does not continually cause a following to be awestruck over his teaching, incredible knowledge and uncanny giftings, but brings attention to Jesus.
Oftentimes, such leaders start out right, but due to unresolved root issues in their lives, drift further and further into peripheral teachings, private interpretations, or obsessions, which are not governed by love; and often, have an alienating and divisive affect toward the rest of the body of Christ. It's not wrong to enjoy the ministry, but the wayward leader LOVES the ministry, and loves the limelight. The ministry has him. He tends to see it all as "his" ministry, as he does his big thing before a crowd of spectators.

And, when problems arise within the ministry, rather than leveling with the people and opening his heart in repentance regarding the true issues, they are glossed over, all the damage control comes out, and a positive spin is put on everything. Any wrongdoing becomes blame-shifted to the outside, while reputation is preserved at all costs, even at the awesome cost of character.

5) USING SELF-INTEREST AS AN ALLUREMENT:
Beware, when good-sounding teaching is spear-headed and characterized by some selfish motivation like health and wealth. These are relative values in life, not absolutes.
Be wary of teaching that is popularized by some scintillating personality, promising you all sorts of blessings without suffering in this life, grace without cost, peace without pain, fruit without the process.

Beware, when teaching is primarily focused on your happiness, rather than your holiness. (True happiness, and great joy, is a result, a normal outflow of holy living).
Beware, when you are not given the "whole counsel of God"; when one body of scripture is played against the other, with the effect of negating the other.
For example, religious health-and-wealth hucksters promise you all blessing and no suffering, while some holiness preachers give you the cross and no healings, little prosperity, and no grace.

Beware of extremism which shows little regard for balance.
Pursue biblical faith without turning to extreme and imbalanced teachers for inspiration, as they seem to just 'go for the gold', without due regard for sound doctrine, the Spirit's tempering, nor the consensus and balancing of father figures in the Lord's Body.

6) EXCLUSIVISM:
A sense of "We are it," or "We are the ones," to the exclusion of others. Sometimes, this involves a sense of paranoia and suspicion toward all others, such as, "the world is out to get us," and an end-of-the-world sentiment which finds safety in our group alone. The feeling comes across as, "Everyone else is deceived. Everyone is under a spell. We alone are awake. We are the overcomers."

7) NO REGARD FOR SOUND DOCTRINE:
When there is no real hunger for truth.
When individuals are apathetic and indifferent regarding sound doctrine, in many cases, relying on their tradition, or cultural backround to keep and preserve them on the path of live.
When people are gathered together for what sounds good, feels good, looks good.
When people stop learning, they stop growing. The meaning of "disciple" is basically "a learner."
When people just settle in on "what they've been always taught," not knowing WHY they believe what they believe, they are often candidates for deception.
A high percentage of people in the cults actually came from traditional denominations. Growing tired with the same old same, not really getting the heart and life of the gospel (a personal relationship with Jesus), they hop on the first bandwagon that makes them feel good once again. It may be right on; something that leads them to life in Jesus. Or, it may be a cult. But, when you hunger and thirst for righteousness, as Jesus promised, you shall be filled!

8) THE FOCUS ON MAN, OURSELVES, OR OUR MINISTRY, NOT ON JESUS: Many forms of deception can be found right in the church, of course. And, though legitimate churches are not cults, sometimes the dynamics can be similar.
Measuring ourselves among ourselves, the standard in scripture is lost by which we examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith.
Seeing Jesus, and His life expressed through us, as we are conformed to His image, is real key here.
If we look at our favorite teacher or preacher, and pattern ourselves after him, taking on their characteristics, we will be fixing our eyes in the wrong direction. If we look to a committee, or a church or ministry staff for all of our approval, we could become seriously midlead.
Remaining teachable, is vital for ongoing growth. Only, test it against God's word, not merely against what is politically correct within a body of believers. Be respectful of others' positions, but don't compromise your convictions.

Also, watch out when a church IS holy, radical and right on in many ways. High and holy standards can get so elevated, and a ministry so performance and control-oriented, that the person of Jesus becomes subtley pushed out of His proper center.
A religious spirit can slowly take over, as legal experience and fear of man, more and more, creeps in.
When leaders become enamored with themselves, become high-minded and authoritarian, lose their servant hearts, and find it easy to exploit submission, that's a sign that the ministry is man-centered, and not truly Christ-centered.

The life in Christ is not primarily a code of externals, but His life flowing through us. Keep Jesus at the center, measuring all things against Him, tempering and characterizing all things after Him. Be cautious with those who claim to be apostles, but do not act like New Testament apostles. Paul, the greatest apostle of all, came in the Spirit of Christ, a servant of all, a tentmaker, even denying his apostolic rights to be supported by the churches.
He did not ride high over others, flushed with power, throwing his apostolic weight around. Nor did he take spiritual authority in the flesh, using control and manipulation to keep leaders in line. Rather than being 'a major player in the big leagues', grasping the spotlight and applause of men, he was tempered and governed by a servant heart under the mighty hand of Christ.

9) SELF-DECEPTION:
Guard your own heart. Often, the most difficult deception to see is that of self-deception. We are all vulnerable here. To the degree that we are not doers of the word, responding to revealed light, we may soon become forgetful hearers, deceiving ourselves.

10) AN INDEPENDENT SPIRIT:
Being a free-thinker does not mean being a 'free spirit' -- a wild, whimsical 'spiritual' gypsy who lives nomadicly, is never really broken, never trusts, and never really has the exposure that comes with normal growing in a close fellowship with brothers and sisters, whom the Lord would build together as lively stones in His temple. Such a person ultimately has an independent spirit toward God. Stay dependent and stay close, walking tenderly before Him. Stay open and teachable to others.
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Old 06-03-2018, 11:53 AM   #2
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
HOW NOT TO BE DECEIVED BY CULTS
(EVEN CHRISTIAN ONES)

By Todd Fishkind

The following checkpoints are by no means exhaustive, but here are some prominent signs to watch out for:

1) WHEN THERE'S ALWAYS A STUDY GUIDE:
There's always some study guide, a "key to the scriptures," or, some founder's writing, in order to provide the true interpretation, or the INSPIRED word (as opposed to the literal word), or to "complete the revelation" of the Bible. These guides lead you down narrow corridors of thought, and are intended to keep, (and often discourage), you from studying on your own. This is often reinforced with powerful group dynamics of fear, and an intensely loyal following. Not all study guides are bad, of course. But, be careful with special editions, which may highlight certain aspects of scripture, to the exclusion, or even negation, of others. Or which imply, in any way, that the standard versions are not enough.

Be especially careful of any remade version, bearing the instrumentality or image of an apostle, popular teacher or tele-evangelist.
Beware of too many private interpretations and novel opinions, which have the effect of alienating and isolating you, and your church, from the Lord's body at large.
Also, be careful with people who bear a theme of restoration, who sincerely seek to bring back a radical, pure, New Testament church life, but who have a spirit of exclusion; who regard all other ministries as "off", or "out to lunch", or simply less fortunate than they are, because, they do not have THE revelation.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In the world there is always a study guide.

It is a "short cut". Idiot's guide to everything. Cliff notes for every subject. "Broad is the way that leads to destruction".
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Old 06-03-2018, 06:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
HOW NOT TO BE DECEIVED BY CULTS
(EVEN CHRISTIAN ONES)

By Todd Fishkind

[COLOR="DarkRed"]Deception has certain telltale signs, which apply not only with cults like the Watchtower, the Mormons, the mind sciences, and endless others. These signs also apply for true believers, who are prone to get caught up in a mighty rushing wind of good-sounding, but deceptive doctrine.
The following checkpoints are by no means exhaustive, but here are some prominent signs to watch out for:
Untohim,

Where did you find this and who is this author? Every college student or parent of a college student being approached by the LSM should read this warning, really think of the implications of their choice into Witness Lee's ministry, and pray that God leads them to the truth.

One home meeting I was so overwhelmed by the Spirit telling me to "run" that I literally got up and left the house and waited by the car for my friends.
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Old 06-08-2018, 04:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

None of these points are biblical. I note the minimal use of Scripture. And there is no mention of any of the biblical tests for false spirits, prophets/teachers, that we have discussed in another thread. This is just the author's musings of what he thinks a cult looks like based on hollywood movies. His tests would make the Amish a cult, and Catholics too, and many other Christian groups.

And mention of the so-called "religious spirit" proves he does not know what he is talking about. There is no such thing as a religious spirit/demon in the bible, this term was invented by Pentecostals to characterize everyone who does not believe in receiving the power of the Spirit with signs of speaking in tongues and strange manifestations. It's a term used on charismanews and similar pentecostal sites, but there is no scripture which suggests that demons go around causing people to behave religiously. If there was then Jesus would have cast out that demon from the Scribes and Pharisees.

Use unbiblical tests like these and you're almost guaranteed to end up in a cult. Why? Because they don't test the spirits. A good place to start is a test of the spirits, do they confess Jesus or not according to 1 Cor 12:3. Do they confess Jesus is come in the flesh according to 1 John 4:2 and Jesus as the Son of God according to 1 John 4:15? Confession is a tried and true method of discernment in the church, more importantly, confession is biblical.
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Old 06-08-2018, 06:22 AM   #5
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None of these points are biblical.
1. When there’s always a study guide -- John made it clear we are not to add anything to the NT nor are we to take anything away from it.
2. An unteachable spiritIf any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 1Tim 6:3, For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 2Tim 4:3
3. Interpreting scripture with teaching — Peter says that no verse is of its own interpretation, but the Bible has to be understood in the light of many other Bible verses.
4. A starstruck and spellbound following16Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. James 1:16-17 If you are drawn away into a cult you are being deceived, one possible deception is that the good and perfect gifts are from the “man of God” rather than from God himself.
5. Using self interest as bait“each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust an enticed” James 1:14 — if you are in a cult you are “drawn away” and this is due to your “own lust” or self interest being used as the bait to draw you away.
6. Exclusivism -- Paul rebukes Peter of exclusivism in Galatians
7. No regard for sound doctrine -- quoted from Timothy
8. Focus on man, ourselves, our ministry — rather than Jesus -- based on the Lord's word in the gospels about searching the scripture but not coming to Him, and those that say "Lord, Lord, yet He never knew them".
9. Self deception 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. James 1:22 — Self deception in James 1 is in the context of “being drawn away” in verse 14 and “being deceived” in verse 16. Finally, in verse 26 it talks about a man that “deceiveth his heart” in the context of religion that is not pure or undefiled, i.e. a cult.
10. An independent spirit -- he defines this as "Living nomadically" -- which is condemned in Hebrews which tells us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the custom of some is.

Perhaps you meant to say "all of these points are scriptural".
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Old 06-09-2018, 06:37 AM   #6
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1. When there’s always a study guide -- John made it clear we are not to add anything to the NT nor are we to take anything away from it.
2. An unteachable spiritIf any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 1Tim 6:3, For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 2Tim 4:3
3. Interpreting scripture with teaching — Peter says that no verse is of its own interpretation, but the Bible has to be understood in the light of many other Bible verses.
4. A starstruck and spellbound following16Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. James 1:16-17 If you are drawn away into a cult you are being deceived, one possible deception is that the good and perfect gifts are from the “man of God” rather than from God himself.
5. Using self interest as bait“each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust an enticed” James 1:14 — if you are in a cult you are “drawn away” and this is due to your “own lust” or self interest being used as the bait to draw you away.
6. Exclusivism -- Paul rebukes Peter of exclusivism in Galatians
7. No regard for sound doctrine -- quoted from Timothy
8. Focus on man, ourselves, our ministry — rather than Jesus -- based on the Lord's word in the gospels about searching the scripture but not coming to Him, and those that say "Lord, Lord, yet He never knew them".
9. Self deception 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. James 1:22 — Self deception in James 1 is in the context of “being drawn away” in verse 14 and “being deceived” in verse 16. Finally, in verse 26 it talks about a man that “deceiveth his heart” in the context of religion that is not pure or undefiled, i.e. a cult.
10. An independent spirit -- he defines this as "Living nomadically" -- which is condemned in Hebrews which tells us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the custom of some is.

Perhaps you meant to say "all of these points are scriptural".
These interpretations are mostly out of context with some quite strange views such as the one that using study guides is 'adding to the bible'. If that is the case then the KJV is a cult bible because it has added so many words not in the original Greek or Hebrew. The fact is that the bible nowhere prohibits the use of study guides and for this reason Todds and your view is unbiblical.

None of these verses mentioned actually apply to cults. For example you have liberally extended James 1.22 to apply to cults which goes beyond the stated context of self deception. There is nothing in the text or context that indicates it should apply to cult deception which is about being deceived by others, not the self.

Point 6 is another failed attempt at testing for a cult because if I recall this was about hypocrisy, fear and Judaism...not cult exclusivity.

The last point about independence is puzzling because I would have thought that people who are attracted to cults would not have an independent free thinking mind but rather one that cannot think for itself and must rely on others to think for them.

Todd has merely pulled some ideas together and made some claims about them applying to cults.
Overall these points as presented are a false dichotomy because a person could meet all 10 criteria and yet not be in a cult. Each point should be considered as standalone and there is nothing in the bible that suggests they can be tied together as a test for cults.

Worryingly these 10 points fail to mention any of the biblical tests of spirits and fruit but instead replaces them with manmade opinions such as that study guides are wrong. If that were true then every theologian is in a cult if they always turn to their Greek concordance and other study guides.
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Old 06-09-2018, 06:27 PM   #7
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These interpretations are mostly out of context with some quite strange views such as the one that using study guides is 'adding to the bible'. If that is the case then the KJV is a cult bible because it has added so many words not in the original Greek or Hebrew. The fact is that the bible nowhere prohibits the use of study guides and for this reason Todds and your view is unbiblical.
I agree that the use of study guides is pretty much universal so it is a very strange criteria and also not very useful. I would prefer using the Bible prohibition about adding to or taking away. We use that today to identify a few cults.

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Originally Posted by Evangelical View Post
None of these verses mentioned actually apply to cults. For example you have liberally extended James 1.22 to apply to cults which goes beyond the stated context of self deception. There is nothing in the text or context that indicates it should apply to cult deception which is about being deceived by others, not the self.
I'll respond in a separate post

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Point 6 is another failed attempt at testing for a cult because if I recall this was about hypocrisy, fear and Judaism...not cult exclusivity.
On the contrary I understand the Judaizers to be the NT example of a "cult", "religion", "synagogue of Satan" and the book of James is the light he got to see through these deceptions.

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The last point about independence is puzzling because I would have thought that people who are attracted to cults would not have an independent free thinking mind but rather one that cannot think for itself and must rely on others to think for them.
I think we need to broaden our view, false prophets lead astray, if there is one narrow way that leads to life then there are an infinite ways that would lead you astray from that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evangelical View Post
Todd has merely pulled some ideas together and made some claims about them applying to cults.
Overall these points as presented are a false dichotomy because a person could meet all 10 criteria and yet not be in a cult. Each point should be considered as standalone and there is nothing in the bible that suggests they can be tied together as a test for cults.
All 10? I imagine a typical cult might not meet all 10, I would think that would be hard to find.

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Originally Posted by Evangelical View Post
Worryingly these 10 points fail to mention any of the biblical tests of spirits and fruit but instead replaces them with manmade opinions such as that study guides are wrong. If that were true then every theologian is in a cult if they always turn to their Greek concordance and other study guides.
I agree that many are not very useful. Study guide for one, interpreting scripture with teaching, etc. I doubt this would really help someone who is in a cult.
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Old 06-09-2018, 06:55 PM   #8
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None of these verses mentioned actually apply to cults. For example you have liberally extended James 1.22 to apply to cults which goes beyond the stated context of self deception. There is nothing in the text or context that indicates it should apply to cult deception which is about being deceived by others, not the self.
James explains why we are deceived.

1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.

God is not here finding fault, on the contrary our experience in being deceived showed we had some basic failings and if we pray God will provide the wisdom we need. Likewise if you are stuck in a cult or are unsure if you are.

1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

You can’t be in a cult without questioning the things you see. Did you question that without wavering, or when you were told that focusing on the negative things is “death” did you get driven by the wind and tossed?

1:7-8 For let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

You must decide conscience or cult. Those that are seduced into a cult are later ashamed because they know they ignored their conscience.

Referring to saints as being “rich” in the word, or in life is a major red flag. V.9-10

The reason people get ensnared into a cult is we were drawn away by our own lusts. Perhaps the idea that you were special or better than other Christians was the lure. Any discussion of special revelation, special blessing, or proper ground is a major red flag. V. 14-15

Those in a cult will ask “how could this be false if the teachings are good” know that “every good gift is from above”. The “truths” didn’t come from the cult leader, the truths came from God.

“Be ye doers of the word not hearers only” v. 22. Just as women are saved through child bearing, and it is through bearing fruit that you will be my disciples in deed. Being a doer of the word protects us from cults.

Pure religion is to visit the fatherless and widows v.27. If you are not doing that then your worship is not pure.

Pure religion is to keep yourself unspotted from the world. Many cults scam the members into business interests run by the leaders.

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. When you study cults there is always the respect of certain persons, the inner circle, the key brothers, etc. That is essentially the definition of cult.

James made mistakes because the other saints in the Body had faith in the Lord Jesus with respect of persons, James. As a result James can get the vision to say this word.

I imagine the early church may have also had the same opinion towards James that I had towards WL. He is the "brother of Jesus, surely we can trust his judgment".

James 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. Confusion and evil work are major warnings.

3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

The various business dealings that cults are involved in are obviously not "pure" and yet so many are willing to wink at that or ignore that. I appreciate how precise James is here.

Then peaceable -- we think of cults like Manson, Jim Jones and Koresh and it is striking how they are not peaceable.

Easy to be intreated -- wow, what a contrast with our experience with the LRC, or JWs or again the Branch Davidians. The minute they are intreated they lock up the doors and get the guns.

Full of mercy -- instead of full of lawsuits.

Partiality and hypocrisy -- the two hallmarks of any cult.
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Old 06-09-2018, 07:44 PM   #9
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Who's Todd Fishkind?
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“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous.” - Carl Sagan
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:19 PM   #10
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Todd was a musician/writer in the earliest days of contemporary Christian music. He was a good friend of Kieth Green, and co-wrote a number of Green's original songs. At some point, around 1974/5 Todd came in contact with the Local Church in Southern Calif area. He actually moved into a brothers house for a while. He also got Kieth & Melody Green to come to some LC meetings. His time in the LC was short lived. I had some contact with Kieth a number of years ago but he was not really interested in mixing it up with us yahoos on the forum. (and can you blame him?) Anyways, he has apparently penned some short papers about his cult experiences.
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Old 06-09-2018, 09:51 PM   #11
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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James explains why we are deceived...
The term "cult" is too broad to be able to extract some points "from the bible" and say "follow these 10 points and you won't be deceived by a cult". Cults can range from very strict Pharisee-like behaviors and top-down hierarchy to very care-free new age sorts. Some of the verses mentioned apply more to Judaism and would apply to any cults that have Jewish-like traits, but probably don't apply to a new age sort of cult.

I'm not saying it could not apply to cults, but I think the letter is primarily aimed at individuals within the church, not at warning them about outsiders in cults. Also, the instructions could be equally applied to any sect or religion, Judaism or Gnosticism, or any party of zealots. Partiality can be experienced in any denomination, as can respect of persons being the pastor, senior pastor or priest or Pope.

Being rich - this could be seen in the pentecostal churches, prosperity gospel, Catholicism etc.

There is also this concept of a "religious spirit" in Todd's list, which to me is unbiblical, but to your view a religious spirit (as one who takes care of orphans and widows) may be a positive thing?

"A religious spirit can slowly take over, as legal experience and fear of man, more and more, creeps in."
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Old 06-10-2018, 05:45 AM   #12
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

I used to take this position that the term cult is not biblical, and the definition in the dictionary is far too broad to be useful.

However, if we take the narrow definition of cult, "a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing" that is Biblical, that is what James refers to as "having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons" and that is useful.
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Old 06-10-2018, 06:50 AM   #13
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Todd has merely pulled some ideas together and made some claims about them applying to cults.
Overall these points as presented are a false dichotomy because a person could meet all 10 criteria and yet not be in a cult. Each point should be considered as standalone and there is nothing in the bible that suggests they can be tied together as a test for cults.
I agree that there is potential for groups to meet all these criteria and yet not be a cult.

I don't know the author's intent, but I didn't read this as a litmus test for cults, as you did. In the brief intro he mentions that it is "not exhaustive" and calls them merely "prominent signs". I think this is a great starting point for those entering a group (like the LSM churches) where they feel something is initially "off".

During my time with the LSM churches I could provide countless examples of "saints" who felt that something was just not right with the group - but persisted and end up staying (or getting sucked in). It may have been helpful for them to review a list, such as this, when their spirit was warning them of something being wrong. It doesn't make the list perfect or good, but potentially helpful.

For those in the LSM churches or exploring - please consult with other committed Christians. The best thing to do is have them read the words of Witness Lee first hand and invite them along to the meetings with you.
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Old 06-10-2018, 07:03 AM   #14
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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Todd was a musician/writer in the earliest days of contemporary Christian music. He was a good friend of Kieth Green, and co-wrote a number of Green's original songs. At some point, around 1974/5 Todd came in contact with the Local Church in Southern Calif area. He actually moved into a brothers house for a while. He also got Kieth & Melody Green to come to some LC meetings. His time in the LC was short lived. I had some contact with Kieth a number of years ago but he was not really interested in mixing it up with us yahoos on the forum. (and can you blame him?) Anyways, he has apparently penned some short papers about his cult experiences.
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Thanks bro Untohim. That explains it. I looked him up, but only found a musician. Then I looked up his name with Christian cults and found this thread on LCD.

For everybody else : Cults are about : conformity and compliance. And that was my experience in Lee's local church.
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Old 06-10-2018, 07:59 AM   #15
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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I used to take this position that the term cult is not biblical, and the definition in the dictionary is far too broad to be useful.

However, if we take the narrow definition of cult, "a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing" that is Biblical, that is what James refers to as "having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons" and that is useful.
There's no need to tie cults to the Bible. Not to mention that the word cult wasn't in existence until the early 17th century. So the Bible doesn't even mention the word cult.

Still, we should all be aware and concerned that cults exist today. I don't know why but cults are rampant today. The one in the news lately is Nxivm, the women sex slave cult that brands the women. The one made famous by the Smallville star, Allison Mack. Another one is The Children of God, or The Family, another sex cult, infamous for Flirty Fishing. I almost joined that cult before joining the local church. I had/have a friend that was in it.

Since I left the LC cult I've pretty much been obsessed with cults. And in an effort to understand why I joined one, have read many books about different and various forms of them.

Except for the Lee sons, and well Watchman Nee, the LC is not a sex cult. Neither is it a doomsday cult. I consider the LC a cult lite ; like the Jehovah's Witnesses, and LDS Mormons.

The local church is a personality cult ... and its personality cult leader is clearly Witness Lee. There's no denying that.

And we don't need the Bible to prove it. The Bible is used to support it.
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Old 06-10-2018, 11:12 AM   #16
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There's no need to tie cults to the Bible. Not to mention that the word cult wasn't in existence until the early 17th century. So the Bible doesn't even mention the word cult.

Still, we should all be aware and concerned that cults exist today. I don't know why but cults are rampant today. The one in the news lately is Nxivm, the women sex slave cult that brands the women. The one made famous by the Smallville star, Allison Mack. Another one is The Children of God, or The Family, another sex cult, infamous for Flirty Fishing. I almost joined that cult before joining the local church. I had/have a friend that was in it.

Since I left the LC cult I've pretty much been obsessed with cults. And in an effort to understand why I joined one, have read many books about different and various forms of them.

Except for the Lee sons, and well Watchman Nee, the LC is not a sex cult. Neither is it a doomsday cult. I consider the LC a cult lite ; like the Jehovah's Witnesses, and LDS Mormons.

The local church is a personality cult ... and its personality cult leader is clearly Witness Lee. There's no denying that.

And we don't need the Bible to prove it. The Bible is used to support it.
Alluding to the LSM as sex cult (in regards to Lee’s sons and Nee) is quite a stretch Awareness - I think that kind of name calling is more of an Alt-Views topic of discussion.
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Old 06-10-2018, 11:29 AM   #17
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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Alluding to the LSM as sex cult (in regards to Lee’s sons and Nee) is quite a stretch Awareness - I think that kind of name calling is more of an Alt-Views topic of discussion.
Did you misread my post? I think I said :

"Except for the Lee sons, and well Watchman Nee, the LC is not a sex cult."

I'm making a point about what type of cult the LC is, by saying what it's not.

And then pointing out it's cult lite, and is a personality type cult.
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Old 06-10-2018, 12:00 PM   #18
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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There's no need to tie cults to the Bible.
I agree. I think the verses in James are equally applicable to many situations whether full blown cult, cult lite, or simply whether you have been misled in your Christian walk. These temptations are common to us all, you don't have to be a member of the Manson cult to be profited from these verses.

If you have done something foolish,
If you have been tempted to act contrary to your conscience
If you have stopped being a doer of the word and instead have merely become a listener
If one day you realize you are in a place of confusion and evil works. A place of contention, where the ones you are surrounded by are impossible to be entreated, a place of partiality and hypocrisy.
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Old 06-10-2018, 12:49 PM   #19
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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I agree. I think the verses in James are equally applicable to many situations whether full blown cult, cult lite, or simply whether you have been misled in your Christian walk. These temptations are common to us all, you don't have to be a member of the Manson cult to be profited from these verses.

If you have done something foolish,
If you have been tempted to act contrary to your conscience
If you have stopped being a doer of the word and instead have merely become a listener
If one day you realize you are in a place of confusion and evil works. A place of contention, where the ones you are surrounded by are impossible to be entreated, a place of partiality and hypocrisy.
And then, those of Paul, not Judaizers, like James, that think the book of James is a book of straw ... including Lee.
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Old 06-10-2018, 04:47 PM   #20
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Default Re: How Not To Be Deceived By Cults (Even Christian Ones)

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I used to take this position that the term cult is not biblical, and the definition in the dictionary is far too broad to be useful.

However, if we take the narrow definition of cult, "a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing" that is Biblical, that is what James refers to as "having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons" and that is useful.
I think you are confusing the meaning of partiality (favoritism) with something else (idolatry). The description of "excessive admiration for a particular person or thing" is more like idolatry than partiality. The bible already addresses misplaced admiration of people or things as idolatry. The immediate context of the verse about partiality is wealth and wealthy believers mistreated poor believers (James 1:9–11). Similar ideas, but a little bit different.
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Old 06-10-2018, 04:58 PM   #21
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And then, those of Paul, not Judaizers, like James, that think the book of James is a book of straw ... including Lee.
Lee did not think it was a book of straw. That was Luther. Lee wrote a 14 chapter life study on it. Luther wanted to take it out of the Bible. Lee said that Luther was unfair and wrong.
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Old 06-10-2018, 05:14 PM   #22
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I think you are confusing the meaning of partiality (favoritism) with something else (idolatry). The description of "excessive admiration for a particular person or thing" is more like idolatry than partiality. The bible already addresses misplaced admiration of people or things as idolatry. The immediate context of the verse about partiality is wealth and wealthy believers mistreated poor believers (James 1:9–11). Similar ideas, but a little bit different.
9 But let the brother of low degree glory in his high estate: 10 and the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11 For the sun ariseth with the scorching wind, and withereth the grass; and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his goings.

Our high estate is that we are all kings, sons of the King, and heirs of the coming kingdom. Regardless of our position in this world we believers should have our conversation in this world as kings and heirs. Therefore, calling a particular brother "rich" is a red flag. We are all sons of the king and heirs of grace, so how then is this one brother "rich"?

Two possible ways: riches of this world which will fade away and are vanity, or rich with the good gift of God. But since all good gifts come from God it is God that is rich, not this brother. It is of God that you receive this good gift, so thinking that it came from "this rich brother" is an error.

Read the context.
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Old 06-10-2018, 06:22 PM   #23
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You correctly stated the context, being worldly riches, but then you diverge and offer your own out of context interpretation as "word" or "life" and falsely attribute it to "calling someone rich". There is no issue with calling someone rich or poor if that is what he is, even the bible makes that distinction between believers. The issue is showing favoritism because of that condition. Now a cult, may or may not fit that description. A cult which is based on sharing all things in common and each person having relatively few possessions does not fit that description. A cult , such as a "Hollywood cult" might value rich and fame and that verse might then apply to them, but only if they were in a church. The verse does not apply to outsiders, only believers in the church. The one major flaw in Todd's and your approach to "testing cults" is that you apply verses intended for the church, to unbelievers. The only real tests we can apply to unbelievers is the test of faith and test of spirits, to determine if they are genuine believers or not. Beyond that, we cannot apply 10 verses intended for believers to unbelievers, and then determine they are a cult on that basis.

I do not see a problem calling one brother rich in the word if he is, and another poor in the word if he is. The rich brother may spend 3 hours a day in the word and the poor one 5 minutes a week. We cannot call the poor brother "rich in the word" if he is not, that would be a lie. And it is not showing partiality to let the word-rich brother serve more in the church by preaching the word than the word-poor one who is unable to preach the word.
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Old 06-10-2018, 06:49 PM   #24
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Lee did not think it was a book of straw. That was Luther. Lee wrote a 14 chapter life study on it. Luther wanted to take it out of the Bible. Lee said that Luther was unfair and wrong.
See what happened after I left. Lee changed his mind about James.
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Old 06-10-2018, 08:00 PM   #25
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You correctly stated the context, being worldly riches, but then you diverge and offer your own out of context interpretation as "word" or "life" and falsely attribute it to "calling someone rich". There is no issue with calling someone rich or poor if that is what he is, even the bible makes that distinction between believers. The issue is showing favoritism because of that condition.
That is funny. You think referring to someone as "being rich" is not showing favoritism? It doesn't indicate a kind of enviousness which is the context of being drawn away by our lusts?

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Now a cult, may or may not fit that description. A cult which is based on sharing all things in common and each person having relatively few possessions does not fit that description. A cult , such as a "Hollywood cult" might value rich and fame and that verse might then apply to them, but only if they were in a church. The verse does not apply to outsiders, only believers in the church. The one major flaw in Todd's and your approach to "testing cults" is that you apply verses intended for the church, to unbelievers.
My approach to testing cults? Where did you get that? First, I have already pointed out that I do not see the Biblical value in the wider definition of cult referring to a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious. Therefore I do not have an approach for testing such a thing. However, if you take the narrower definition of a great religious devotion to a person, well that is not my test, that is James who warns us of this. I didn't write the book of James, I merely pointed that out.

I do not believe that the book of James is so narrow as to warn us not to get involved with Jim Jones. What I do believe is that it is very difficult to find the narrow road that leads to life and the book of James helps us with that and identifies the things that would lead us astray. Jim Jones is merely an extreme example of such a thing.
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Old 06-11-2018, 05:00 PM   #26
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That is funny. You think referring to someone as "being rich" is not showing favoritism? It doesn't indicate a kind of enviousness which is the context of being drawn away by our lusts?
I don't think it's showing favoritism if it's true and it depends on the context. If I referred to someone as rich and then treated them differently to a poor person that would be favoritism. But referring to them as rich or poor is not favoritism. Some people are richer than others, that's just a fact of life. The Bible, 1 Timothy 6:17-19 for example, has specific instructions to the rich.
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Old 06-11-2018, 05:40 PM   #27
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The point is that it isn't true. Why is this person rich? Because of possessions, title, position, etc? This world is passing away, like the flower that today is and tomorrow is not. All of that is vanity, it isn't real.

Are they rich because of the "rich word"? Every good thing comes from God, they aren't rich, they are a servant of a rich God. Why are they taking credit from God?

Saying they are rich indicates that you don't know that you are an heir of God.

Why do you add this term like it is a title: "rich brother"? Surely it is to make a distinction. Simply using the term is to treat them differently. Besides, who are you to judge?
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:44 PM   #28
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I'm not using it as a title but as a description of some attribute. If it's a title, then sure, it's favoritism or glorifying them. I might know so and so are rich, just like I know they are white or black, tall or short. It might have some relevance, and does not necessarily mean recognition of those facts is attributing to them any glory that would steal God's glory. For example, maybe I want to ask the tall ones to reach the top of the shelf and the short ones to crawl into a narrow space. I don't see it as an issue unless someone makes it an issue. Based on 1 Timothy 6:17-19, it seems he wants the rich brothers to do more giving and charity.
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