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What Is A Cult?

I’ve always been critical of labels of any kind, (things like "Fundamentalist" , "Religiosity", "Liberal", etc.) where did we get the idea of a "cult" and who makes the rules for the label? What kind of relationship with a religion (or system of belief) is a "healthy" one? I think we all have the responsibility to challenge of any categorizations that we have in our minds, in doing so we give ourselves the opportunity to better define ourselves. What are some other thoughts on this?

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Cult? by smcbride

Anything other than a Southern Baptist!!!

From what I can tell, "cult" is a word used by mainstream Christians to describe anyone who believes differently than they do. A friend of mine in high school had a book called "The Big Book of Cults" and it had just about every religion in there – Buddhists, Catholics, Mormons, etc.

The dictionary definitions include:

  • a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
  • an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
  • the object of such devotion.
  • a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
  • a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
  • a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
  • the members of such a religion or sect.
  • any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

I guess the evangelicals are going by the first clause of the sixth definition…

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