The majority of the cults, that most are likely to encounter, are what could be described as ‘Counterfeit Christian Cults.’ This means that when compared with evangelical Christianity they are seen to be bringing a message of salvation for the future life but are misusing the words, and misrepresenting the life of Jesus Christ.
As such these groups must be examined as much for their beliefs as the way they treat people.
There are many man made definitions of a cult but the one we will use here, for these counterfeit religious cults, is found on p.14 of Open the Door, Doug Harris, Kingsway, published 1996.
“A group whose message includes either the need of a spiritual change now, or gives false hope of eternal salvation, or encourages a relationship with God, without the reality of repentance from sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ as God the Son and Saviour.”
Most groups will be easily classified by this part of the definition. However if we need to look at the attitude and not just beliefs of the group we will need to apply a secondary definition too.
“Groups who employ methods of strict authoritarianism, or mind control, or insist that their group is the only true one, or who hold the threat of expulsion for any who do not accept leadership decisions without question.”
Some groups may not be completely cultic but would have cultic tendencies. In summary the things to look for would be: