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Here Is How To Identify A Religious Cult

10 months agoFri, 28 Apr 2023 07:46:40 GMT
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Here Is How To Identify A Religious Cult

The discovery last week of mass graves, many housing the remains of children apparently starved by their parents, in Kenya has shocked many people not only in the East African country but around the world.

Kenyan authorities have so far discovered 95 bodies of people who starved to death at self-styled pastor Paul Mackenzie Nthenge’s ranch in the Shakahola forest near the coastal town of Malindi.

After closing his Good News International Church in 2019, Nthenge led his followers deep into the Shakahola forest, allegedly convincing them to starve to death to meet God.

Nthenge’s church has been described as a cult, a pejorative term for a religious group that falls outside the mainstream and, by implication, engages in questionable activities, according to Britannica.

Cults often have a charismatic leader who claims to have special knowledge or insight into spiritual matters, and they may require strict adherence to certain beliefs, practices, or lifestyle choices.

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Zimbabwe has witnessed the rise of cult-like religious movements in the past decades.

The Independent End Time Message Church has been identified by some commentators as a cult.

The church was founded by Robert Martin Gumbura, who was convicted in 2014 on multiple counts of rape and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Rodgers Atwebembeire who is the  East Africa Regional Director of the Africa Centre for Apologetics Research (ACFAR) identified three characteristics of religious cults that Christians, or believers, need to be aware of. These are:

  • Cults or false religious groups distort the central teachings of the Christian faith such as the doctrine of the Trinity (the belief that God has revealed Himself as one God in three persons), the dual nature of Jesus (the Bible describing Jesus as both divine and human), and the teaching that salvation is by grace alone.
  • Cults or false religious groups elevate secondary doctrines of the Christian faith at the expense of the primary ones. They teach one must eat certain particular foods as a Christian, and that becomes a basis by which one will either go to heaven or not.
  • Cults or false religious groups might do what we call inventing new doctrines. They invent new doctrines that are not found in Scripture. They claim that their Church is the only true Church and anyone else who is in another Church apart from this one is lost.

Several years ago, the founder of the International House of Prayer (IHOP), Mike Bickle, created a list of seven ways to recognize the difference between a religious community and a cult. These are:

  • Opposing critical thinking
  • Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
  • Emphasizing special doctrines outside of scripture
  • Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders
  • Dishonoring the family unit
  • Crossing Biblical boundaries of behavior (versus sexual purity and personal ownership)
  • Separation from the Church.

More: Pindula News

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