Is Evangelicalism a Cult?

I realize the title of this article may seem a little bit on the baiting side and it’s meant to be.  Mostly because it’s time to put the shoe on the other foot and see how that fits. And, just because Evangelicalism is so popular in America, doesn’t make it right on that aspect alone. If you go to other countries in other parts of the world, other religions are more popular, such as in the Middle East. Islam is most popular in some countries and even Hinduism in others or Buddhism in even other more Eastern countries. Evangelicalism is popular here but it isn’t in most other countries.

If we use some of the same criteria to judge Evangelicalism as we do maybe Mormonism or maybe another religion that Evangelicals consider cults, we might also consider Evangelicalism a cult too. For example, the idea that if you’re not Evangelical then you’re not a Christian; this in itself is a good sign of a possible cult when you exclude everyone who doesn’t belong to the group you belong to as being not of God or not Christian.

I was raised in a Pentecostal background and belonged to what was considered a Full Gospel church when I was a child. I was even a boy preacher when I was 11 until I was 15 years old. Now most denominations would not accept such a thing as a boy preacher. I wasn’t the only boy preacher though. There were even a couple of famous boy preachers in their day such as Little David and Marjoe Gortner and I was never that famous.

Some might consider the idea of a boy preacher as a cult also but that doesn’t make it so of course.

What would be the most telling aspect of what is considered a cult is brainwashing which some consider the Mormon Church; or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to do to their own members. But why wouldn’t some of the practices of Evangelicals also considered brainwashing? Surely dunking someone in water to save their soul might be considered unusual and maybe a form of brainwashing from those of another religion who’s not familiar with the practice. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in baptism too and I also understand that it’s only a symbol of salvation because salvation comes only through the repentance of sins as far as Christianity goes.

Pentecostals at one time would have been considered to be a cult by many outsiders as their practices can be quite different even if they are scripturally based, by many Protestants and even Catholics. But those practices aren’t considered unusual to anyone raised Pentecostal and in fact, they’re very normal to us. Speaking in tongues, dancing in the Spirit, falling out under the power of God; all these things are considered very normal in Pentecostal services. Though those kinds of practices are much more accepted among Evangelicals nowadays, even if they didn’t believe in them in the time when I was a boy preacher forty years ago.

Many Pentecostals in those days even thought of other religions as being false; and I speak from experience here because I heard many ministers or preachers preach against other faiths and denominations back in those days when I was a child. Some old-time holy rollers (as I might affectionately use as a term for Pentecostals) believed that if you didn’t speak in tongues, then you weren’t even a Christian. They basically considered other religions cults the same way many Evangelicals do now with Mormons and even some Protestant groups.

Now Evangelicals make up several denominations but I think it would be safe to say that most are Baptist but there are a few other denominations, even Pentecostals and Charismatics within the Evangelical movement. They all somewhat accept each other and their differences to some degree. That really isn’t that way in the Pentecostal movement entirely; there are Trinity Pentecostals and there are Apostolic Pentecostals and some of these two groups, even up to the present, doesn’t accept each other as true Christians.

Now I could get into explaining the difference between a Pentecostal and an Apostolic but it’s really about semantics and their differences really are not that important, at least not in the grand scheme of things, but some of them think so. They still believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that he died for our sins and rose the third day. But because of their different interpretations of the same Bible, they can’t fellowship together and even some believe that the other group is not even Christian.

I point all these out to show that just because one group doesn’t believe the same way as another group doesn’t make them a cult. Surely God is a many splendor being and many of us see Him differently and believe in Him differently. What is wrong is when we believe that our own religion is so right that other religions are entirely wrong and not Christian or should be held in some kind of suspicion because of their beliefs.

Right now we have a Mormon who is running for president; Mitt Romney and we have a Catholic, who is also an Evangelical also running for president; Rick Santorum. Now I don’t care for either of them but it has nothing to do with their religion. I don’t care what their religion is as long as they don’t think that I should be forced to follow their religion, as Rick Santorum seems to suggest in many things he has said since being on the campaign trail.

We’re at an important time in American history and because of the recent contraception issue that has come before our nation and because of the long fought battle over abortion and gay rights; there are questions that need to be answered. To me the most important question that needs to be answered is this:

If one religion is the largest religion in the land, does that mean that it’s also the right religion and all others are not?

I’m a Christian and I believe in Jesus the same way many Evangelicals believe. I don’t agree with many things they believe in but no; I don’t believe they’re a cult. But I do believe that it’s just as easy to call Evangelicalism a cult as it is to call Mormonism a cult. I also believe that it’s wrong and it’s judgmental and that none of us have the right to judge one group over another or one individual over another, simply because we’re a member of the largest group in the land.

We should heed the words of Jesus and “Judge not that ye be not judged” Matthew 7:1

For what’s most important is that we look within ourselves and we simply set an example of what Christian faith is all about and then by example we can lead others.  Respect everyone’s beliefs or non-beliefs because this is America and we have the right to be free from religion and a right to the religion of our choosing as much as we have a right to religion, even of the most popular kind.

2 Responses to Is Evangelicalism a Cult?

  1. avatar MJ says:

    I agree with you a great deal. It’s a tall order. I grew up among the denominations you speak of (on my father’s side) and orthodox Lutherans on my mother’s. I have never truly understood the division. Over 33,000 denominations out there. I can hardly fathom it. Sometimes I stand back and hear the words of Gandhi in my mind: I like your Christ but I don’t like your Christians.

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