Alan Vincent
"Have nothing to do with the 
 fruitless deeds of darkness, but 
 rather expose them." Eph 5:11


A Spiritual Discernment Ministry

Marks of a Cult

One must be careful to distinguish between the sociological position of what constitutes a cult (i.e., which states that whatever is normative to a given culture is not cultic) and the theological position (i.e., which states that only those groups that adhere to the Bible as the basis for all theology and practice are considered normative, and thereby, not cultic).

From the theological viewpoint, any group or religious system, whether it calls itself "Christian" or not, that offers other criteria as equal to or superior to the Bible, including but not limited to erroneous and/or exclusive interpretations of Scripture, should be considered a cult. From the theological position, then, a cult can be best defined as:

A system of religious beliefs and rituals with a body of adherents deeply devoted to an extrabiblical person, idea, or thing; it cultivates worship in a religion that, with reference to its basis for man's salvation, is considered to be unorthodox, spurious, or false, thereby insulating its members against true salvation in Christ. And inasmuch as the central doctrine of Biblical Christianity is the sacrificial death of Christ for man's sin (Eph. 2:8,9), all cultic deviations tend to downplay the finished work of Christ and emphasize the importance of earning moral acceptance before God through one's own religious works. ..... more information


Christian Science

The movement known as Christian Science is a religion "emphasizing divine healing as practiced by Jesus Christ." It is officially known as The Church of Christ, Scientist (CCS) (with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts), founded in 1879 by the much married Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy (1821-1910). It is one of the more sophisticated modern cults, attracting many intellectuals. Estimated membership was about 350,000 in the 1930s with approximately 2,500 branch churches, societies, and college organizations in more than 50 countries worldwide. Estimates suggest that membership has fallen to well under 100,000 at the present time. While the branches are democratic in government, they all conform to the rules laid down in Mary Baker Eddy's Manual of The Mother Church (1895); church affairs are now overseen by a self-perpetuating board of five people. ..... more information

Eckankar (ECK)

In 1964, a "new" religion made its appearance -- Eckankar, The Ancient Science of Soul Travel (Eck). Eck was founded by Paul Twitchell, a journalist, eccentric occult dabbler, and self-proclaimed soldier of fortune. In 1964 and l965, he wrote articles and gave lectures on his peculiar philosophy of "Biolocation," or supposed out-of-body travels. He evolved the philosophy and practice of Eck out of this experience and from studying the teachings of Ruhani Satsung, Scientology, and several other religious and occult groups. Twitchell, who was born in Paducah, Kentucky sometime between 1908 and 1912, and died in 1971, asserted that Eck did not actually begin in 1964, but rather was a timeless and universal Truth which had been "revived" for public dissemination at that time. ..... more information


Freemasonry refers to the principles, institutions, and practices of the fraternal order of the Free and Accepted Masons. The largest worldwide society, Freemasonry is an organization of men based on the "fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man," using builders' tools as symbols to teach basic moral truths generally accepted by persons of good will. Their motto is "morality in which all men agree, that is, to be good men and true." It is religious in that a belief in a Supreme Being and in the immortality of the soul are the two prime requirements for membership, but it is nonsectarian in that no religious test is used.1 The purpose of Freemasonry is to enable men to meet in harmony, to promote friendship, and to be charitable. Its basic ideals are that all persons are the children of one God, that all persons are related to each other, and that the best way to worship God is to be of service to people.  ..... more information

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses, also known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (with headquarters in Brooklyn, New York), was officially founded in 1884 [as the Zion's Watch Tower and Tract Society (originally the Zion's Watch Tower in 1879), officially adopting the name of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931], by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916). In 1870, Russell was exposed to the teachings of William Miller, one of the founders of the Second Adventist Movement and acquired an interest in end time prophecies. Russell originally denied  the doctrine of Hell, and would go on to reject nearly every other Christian doctrine, as well as add many physically and spiritually dangerous doctrines of his own making. Many of these unique and bizarre teachings were to be found in his six volume series titled, Studies in the Scriptures.  ..... more information

Mormonism / LDS Church

Mormonism, known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah -- a state that is now 70% Mormon), was officially founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844). Smith claimed to have had a personal visit from God the Father at the age of 15, who introduced him to Christ.1 Jesus then supposedly told him not to join any church because they were all wrong and all the Christian church's doctrines "were an abomination" (Joseph Smith -- History 19, Pearl of Great Price). After Smith's murder in 1844, Brigham Young took the cult to Utah, where there is now a major University named after him, and the number of Mormons exceed one million. The Mormon Church currently claims about 11 million baptized members worldwide (5.2 million U.S., ranking it 5th among the largest 25 U.S. denominations), up from about 2.5 million in 1970. 1970. Over the last decade, nearly 300,000 individuals over the age of eight have joined the Mormon Church every year. Membership is expected to grow to over 23 million over the next two decades. It is growing fastest in Latin America and Asia. Official publications include Church News, a weekly 16-page newspaper, and the Ensign, a monthly magazine. ..... more information

New Age Movement

The New Age Movement (NAM) is both a religious and a social movement. In fact, Western culture is currently experiencing a phenomenal, spiritual, ideological, and sociological shift. It is a religious world view that is alien and hostile to Christianity. It's a multi-focused, multi-faceted synthesis, in varying degrees, of the Far Eastern, mystical religions, mainly Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Western Occultism, adapted to and influenced by Western, materialistic culture. It sometimes appears in secularized forms.  ..... more information

Roman Catholicism

As this is a big subject, please visit Roman Catholicism for detailed information.


Scientology, officially known as The Church of Scientology, was founded in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard (1912-1986), and popularized through his 1950 book, DIANETICS: The Modern Science of Mental Health (over ten million copies sold). Dianetics was originally intended to be Hubbard's psychotherapeutic answer to the techniques of modern psychiatry. (The word "Dianetics" means "through the soul," and promises to reveal "the single source of all man's insanities, psychosomatic illnesses, and neuroses.") In addition to Dianetics, Scientology produces scores of other publications. A short list includes Source, The Delphian, Advance!, and The Auditor. ..... more information

Seventh Day Adventism

Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA) arose from the aftermath of the Adventist movement of the mid-1800s. "Seventh-day" refers to the focus on sabbath, or Saturday worship. "Adventist" refers to the SDA belief that they are the fulfillment of prophecies pertaining to the latter days remnant and the coming of Christ. The world was predicted to end in 1844 with the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, a New England Baptist itinerant preacher. Miller's followers condemned all the churches of the day as apostate and "Babylon," and warned Christians to come out of them. A great many did, and the "adventist" movement was born and grew rapidly (Melton, J. Gordon, Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. 2, pp. 21–22). ..... more information

Silva Method (Silva Mind Control)

Silva Method (formerly Silva Mind Control [SMC]) was developed by José Silva. Over six million students in 71 countries have taken the Silva International courses (formerly Silva Mind Control International). (One of Silva's goals is to have the Silva Method course taught to all school children, both in grade school and in college.) He claims that any person who will take his 48-hour (four day) course will develop psychic powers. A student is shown how to enter an altered state of consciousness, and in that state is taught how to tap into "higher intelligence in the universe." The student is taught how to function psychically and clairvoyantly, and how to invite counselors, or psychic guides, into his mind to help him with his problems. By the third day of the course, students are supposed to be able to operate psychically enough so that they can project their awareness outside of their bodies; i.e., have out-of-body experiences. Their minds are supposed to be able to tap into any source in the universe for the information, including the minds of other men, alive or dead.  ..... more information

Unification Church (Moonies)

The official title of the Unification Church is The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. It was officially founded in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon (which has led to the referring of his followers as "Moonies") and moved to America in 1959, where he established his international headquarters. Born in Korea in 1920, Moon claims that in 1936, when he was 16, Jesus Christ appeared to him on Easter morning on a mountainside in Northwestern Korea and told him that God had chosen him for the mission of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, a mission that Christ had only begun. Christ supposedly told Moon that he would be "the completer of man's salvation by being the Second Coming of Christ" (Sun Myung Moon and The Unification Church, James Bjornstad, p. 9). After World War II, Moon returned to Pyongyang, the capital of communist North Korea, where he set up his first church (1945).  ..... more information

Unitarian Universalists

Unitarian Universalism (UU), known officially as the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in North America (with headquarters in Boston, Mass.), was officially formed in 1961 with the merger of two separate religious groups whose roots date back to the early 1500s -- the American Unitarian Association (1825) and the Universalist Church of America (1793). Unitarian Universalism is one of the most liberal of the denominations, being more akin to a society of free thinkers than a traditional "Christian" denomination.  ..... more information

Unity School of Christianity

Unity School of Christianity, also known as Unity (with headquarters on a 1,400-acre campus in Unity Village, Missouri -- near Lee's Summit, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City), was "founded" in 1889 (with the publishing of a national monthly magazine called Modern Thought -- renamed Unity Magazine in 1894) by Charles S. Fillmore (1854-1948), a spiritist with no Christian background, and Myrtle (Paige) Fillmore (1845-1931), a Methodist; this was after Myrtle said she was healed of tuberculosis by repeating an occultic mind-over-matter affirmation, "I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherent sickness" (she had been dabbling heavily in Christian Science). It was later incorporated as a church in 1903 by the Unity Society of Practical Christianity. In 1948, the control of Unity was assumed by the Fillmore's two sons, Lowell and W. Rickert Fillmore, and has since experienced tremendous growth. Unity currently claims about 200,000 U.S. members and 1.5 million members worldwide. ..... more information

Way International, The

The Way International (also known as the Way Bible Research Institute), with headquarters in New Knoxville, Ohio, was officially founded in 1957 by Victor Paul Wierwille (1916-1985). (Although no significant growth occurred until the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s, others attribute The Way's beginning to October of 1942 to Wierwille's radio broadcast, the "Vesper Chimes," which first aired on WLOK in Lima). Formerly, Wierwille was a United Church of Christ minister who had studied at two liberal seminaries -- the University of Chicago Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary. [Although his followers referred to him as "Doctor," Wierwille had no earned doctorate. His bogus doctoral degree was purchased from Pikes Peak Bible Seminary, a diploma mill (see, From "Vesper Chimes" to "The Way International," pp. 10-11).] Though exposed to the Bible, Wierwille was a man who had rejected God's truth in utter rebellion. Putting the Bible aside, Wierwille exercised very little discernment in learning from others, readily accepting teachings from itinerant mystics, Christian Scientists, and spiritists. ..... more information

Worldwide Church of God, The (Armstrongism)

The Worldwide Church of God (WCG), with headquarters in Pasadena, California, was officially begun in Oregon in late-1933/early-1934 by Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986) (originally called "The Radio Church of God" -- changed to WCG in 1968). (The "original" WCG should not be confused with the organization "The Church of God International" in Tyler, Texas, founded in 1978 by Herbert Armstrong's "disfellowshipped" son, Garner Ted Armstrong.) Once a very large organization with a huge media impact, Armstrongism has waned in recent years. At its peak, Armstrong's radio/television broadcast, "The World Tomorrow," aired on more than 446 television and radio stations, but was eliminated in 1994 and replaced with spot ads and a two-minute time-slot radio program. Armstrong's grossly misnamed magazine, The Plain Truth, peaked at a monthly distribution of more than eight million, but has since fallen to less than 100,000 (and will probably decrease even further with its 1997 change from a free to a paid subscription basis).  ..... more information



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