The "Cult" Word

"Can the Assembly be called a "cult'?"

Dear Wounded Pilgrim,

The word "cult" is not really a Biblical word.This word has a secular understanding and an evangelical Christian use as well, the two senses being different. Arguments rage back and forth concerning the meaning of this term, as no group wants to be associated with the likes of Jim Jones or the Branch Davidians.

Christian Scholars use the word "cult" in it's classic use as describing a particular system of worship, and this has no negative connotations.  Evangelical Christians describe a cult as something negative, and this negativity has to do with the areas of both doctrine and practice.

The secular use of the word "cult" has to do only with the sociological aspects of the group (the world could care less about the orthodoxy of the teaching of a group). The world also reserves the use of the word "cult" in the most extreme sense of it's abusive and controlling application.

The sociological aspects have to do with the practices of the group.  Dr. Enroth, in his book Churches that Abuse, details ten criteria that can be used to decide whether a group's practices are cultish in the "practical sense" of the word. Since Dr. Enroth is a Christian, his study of the practices are often more subtle and less dramatic than a secular study would be. (I would recommend again the reading of the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, as this book was written about your normal evangelical church on the street corner and not about cults.)

The New Testament warns of false teaching and false practices and the need to constantly pay attention to these issues in the church. There is no need to detail the obvious again here, as I believe there was always one central key to the Assembly problems and that was resistance to entreaty (pride).

The defensive reactions of GG and his followers is what kept the Lord from reaching the hearts and minds of the members. However we label this attitude of resistance, it was what led to all the other abusive practices of GG and his loyal followers.

The suggestion that there were those who believed they were committed to the Lord in their loyalty to GG and his ministry is undoubtedly true.  They were sincere, but sincerely wrong. One can have a zeal that is not according to knowledge, and the need is not to defend the zeal of the deceived, but the attitude of the deceived to receive correction in this situation.

To try and justify individual leaders of individual Assemblies, or of specific Assemblies, is exactly the opposite of what our response to the Lord should be. To ask the Lord to help us examine what we believed and practiced in the Assemblies of GG is not an "attack" but an invitation to restoration and renewal. To listen to those desiring dialogue regarding these issues is not to face torment, but the wonderful blessing of God's healing grace.

God Bless,
Mark


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