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THE CHARACTERISTICS
OF A CULT

Theological Characteristics:

1. Devaluation of the Bible.

2. Devaluation of the nature of God.

3. Denial of the Trinity.

4. Devaluation of the Person of Christ.

5. Devaluation of the life and work of Christ.

6. Non-biblical teachings about the Holy Spirit.

7. Exalted view of human nature.

8. False basis of salvation.

9. Non-biblical teachings about the after-life.

10. Demonic activity denied or overemphasized.

Sociological Characteristics:

1. Deceptive recruiting practices.

2. Dynamic and authoritarian leadership.

3. Elitism.

4. Cultic vocabulary.

5. Alienation from family and friends.

6. Legalism.

7. Induced fatigue.

8. Sanction oriented.

9. Anti-intellectual.

10. Thought stopping.

11. No professional clergy.

12. Doctrine in flux/ false prophesies.

13. Financial exploitation.

14. Mind control.

Note: The ten theological characteristics parallels the ten articles on our Confession of Faith. The Confession presents the historic Christian position; the characteristics list, the cultic digression.

Sources Consulted in Developing List of Cultic Characteristics

The links below are direct links to where the book can be purchased from Books-A-Million.

Arteburn, Stephen and Jack Felton. Toxic Faith - Understanding and Overcoming Religious Addiction . Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.
Ashe, Steven. Cult Induced Psychopathology. n.a.
Breese, Dave. Know the Marks of a Cult. Wheaton, IL victor Books, 1980.
Brooks, Keith. "The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error." revised by Irvine Robertson. Chicago: Moody Press, 1985.
Cult Awareness Network, leaflet. Princeton, WV: Conner Printing, 1987.
Enroth, Ronald. "What is a Cult?" Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1982.
Hassan, Steven. Combatting Cult Mind Control. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1988.
Knapp, Pat. Aberrational Christianity. The Shield, April, 1988, 1-3.
Lewis, Gordon. Confronting the Cults . Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.
MacCollam, Joel. Carnival of Souls: Religious Cults and Young People. New York, Seabury Press, 1979.
Martin, Walter. Essential Christianity. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1980.
  Kingdom of the Cults . Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1985.
 The New Cults. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1980.
McDowell, Josh and Don Stewart. Handbook of Today's Religions . San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1983.
Tucker, Ruth. Another Gospel . Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1989.

For additional books on cults, see Counter-Cult Books: Books-A-Million Recommendations.

The above characteristics list was originally developed for a Bible study class in 1991.
It was posted on this Web site in July 1996.

Cults and Aberrant Groups: General Information
Cults and Aberrant Groups

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