I was listening to a talk radio show today, and the subject of cults came up. “Cult” is often used in a derogatory manner, but the actual definition can be difficult to pin down. That is why I wrote an entire article on “What Is a Cult?” For purposes of this article, “cult” will mean destructive cults – those who do damage to people either emotionally or physically.
The one aspect brought up in the show was how a cult member becomes isolated. They are alienated from friends and family. The religious organization becomes the center of their life. The talk show spoke about how a cult tells a new member to sever ties with old friends and family. One set of parents had not heard from their son in over three years.
One of the signs of a cult that I wrote about was:
Totalitarianism and alienation of members from their families and/or friends. A sect that is destructive to the family is a destructive cult (Ex 20:12; Ge 18:19; Ge 2:23-24; Dt 4:9; 1Ti 3:1-5; Pr 31:21, 27-28; 1Ti 5:8, 16). This is different than if the family turns against you (Mt 10:36).
Obviously, the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) falls into this category. They have encouraged members to break the 5th Commandment to honor their parents and shun them. They have separated mothers and daughters, grandparents and grandchildren and even siblings.
They are also heavily totalitarian. One sign of a cult is one leader above everyone else whose word is law. That’s why the “one man” doctrine is rather dangerous, as most men cannot handle that sort of influence in a Godly manner. More to the point, though:
A powerful leader who claims divinity or a special mission entrusted to him/her from above.
Can you say the “Elisha that follows the Elijah”? Can you say “That Prophet”?
Revealed scriptures or doctrine. Unfortunately, we seem to have an abundance of “prophets” within the COG community.
Which church claims it has “been flooded with revelation”?
Misuse of funds and the accumulation of wealth for personal or political purposes at the expense of members. This especially means churches that require paying a third tithe that is supposed to be for the widows, orphans and poor but really go to build pastors’ houses.
Do I have to elaborate?
Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader’s authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group. Threats of consequences if you leave the group. “They are no longer part of the True Church!” “Only if you belong to [fill in destructive cult name], you will not go to the Place of Safety and have to go through the Tribulation!”
Unfortunately, there is more than one group guilty of that last one.
In fact, it has become evident over time that there is more than one COG group that may fit the notion of a destructive cult. The teachings are more about the leader than the Bible. The teachings are used to instill fear: Fear of disobeying the top leader, fear of disobeying the church, fear of being disfellowshipped, fear of not going to the Place of Safety, etc. They should rename themselves to the “Church of Saving My Behind”!
I kid you not that some have made an idol out of their form of government. They have made an idol out of their leader. They will listen to their “one man”, “apostle” or “prophet” more than the words of God.
It is quite a shame, and it may just cost some of them entrance into the Kingdom of God.