To one extend or another all belief systems are involved in boundary maintenance – the process of
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- determining the essential doctrines of a particular faith,
- discerning which doctrines fall outside the boundaries (of that faith’s scriptures or the interpretation thereof), and
- defending the faith against challenges or attacks on its central doctrines – from within and without the faith group.
In this context, ‘challenges and attacks’ include proselytizing efforts on the part of challengers to the belief system in question, but also the attempts of disssenting cults or sects to redefine that faith’s doctrines and practices.
For example, in his book Unmasking The Cults, Alan Gomes writes that the
“Central doctrines” of the Christian faith are those doctrines that make the Christian faith Christian and not something else.
Hence his definition of a cult of Christianity:
A cult of Christianity is a group of people, which claiming to be Christian, embraces a particular doctrinal system taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization, which (system) denies (either explicitly or implicitly) one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian faith as taught in the sixty-six books of the Bible.