It is helpful for Christians to know the signs of possible problems when assessing a minister or ministry.
Is there a certain type of person who is more likely to join a cult? No. Individual vulnerability factors matter much more than personality type when it comes to joining or staying in a cult or abusive relationship.
The Bible teaches that Christians ought to grow in discernment, the ability to distinguish truth from error.
Cafeteria Religion -- also known as Salad Bar Religion, Spirituality Without Religion, or Believing Without Belonging -- is popular among so-called 'nones.' It is a form of religious pluralism, in which people pick and choose doctrines and religious practices to arrive at a customized, personalized spirituality. Many Christians actually take a similar approach when they fail to learn or practice spiritual discernment.
The late Robert Vaughn Young walked away from the Scientology -- only to be talked into returning. When he later left the cult for good, he rejected theories about 'brainwashing' and 'mind control,' but eventually found parallels between victims of domestic violence and those who leave other abusive situations.
Neopaganism has become one of the fastest-growing religious movements today. Christians are not immune from its influence. Witchcraft and occultism are knocking on the doors of American homes, gaining acceptance and prominence in media and advertising, and enticing people of all ages to dabble in deceptive and dangerous practices. In his book Witchcraft Goes Mainstream Brooks Alexander offers lucid and enlightening descriptions of witchcraft today and our culture's acceptance of it. He concludes by helping Christians formulate a reasonable response.
Research resources on Jehovah's Witnesses and their organization, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Watch Tower Society; Watchtower Society)
Although the Church of Scientology claims its beliefs are not incompatible with Christian faith, an evaluation of what Scientology teaches in the areas of God, man, the creation, salvation, and death proves this is not so. Scientology's teachings and practices are inconsistent with the beliefs of orthodox Christianity.
Unhealthy, authoritarian leadership encourages people to place their pastors on pedestals. This is illustrated by the comments of one ex-member of a church located in a major mid-western city. "Little by little this man became the standard by which we all sought to live. The wisdom that poured forth from his lips left us in awe."An ex-member of an east-coast fringe group commented that her tiny church was believed to be the full expression of God and had the mind …
Ruled by pastor Jane Whaley, the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, North Carolina, is theologically a cult of Christianity due to its unbiblical teachings and practices. Sociologically this church is a high-control, abusive cult as well.