The Difference between a Church and a Cult

2/10/99

The media have reported that some cultists are plotting disturbances during the year 2000, in the hope of forcing Christ to return. But I hope that you, the reader, would never confuse cultists with true Christians. A true Christian understands that he can do nothing to make the Lord come sooner, except to pray. And he has no doubt that violent methods are absolutely contrary to the law and spirit of Christ.

There are many important differences between a cult and body of Christians. A cult is authoritarian, whereas a Christian church is somewhat egalitarian, for the members view even the pastor as subject to group control and discipline. A cult sees its leaders as the fountainhead of truth, whereas Christians seek guidance from Scripture alone. With few exceptions, cult leaders are immoral and opportunistic, whereas the leaders of the true church are sincere and godly. Sooner or later, every cult repudiates one or more cardinal doctrines of orthodox Christianity.

Many of the cultists who seek the end of the world are psychologically troubled people, playing out a desire to escape from all their problems. But the Christian's hope of the Lord's imminent return rests not on psychopathology, but on faith—faith that a just and loving God will soon close down the present world system, with all its sin and suffering and senseless cruelty. While denying that the present world system is good or capable of becoming good, the Christian affirms that life itself, in its transcendent and eternal dimensions attainable only through Christ, is good.