Halieus Media: jn14
Let us define our term,
1 A system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object.
‘the cult of St Olaf’
1.1 A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members.
‘a network of Satan-worshipping cults
1.2 A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular thing.
‘the cult of the pursuit of money as an end in itself’
2A person or thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.
‘the series has become a bit of a cult in the UK’
as modifier ‘a cult film’
Origin: Early 17th century (originally denoting homage paid to a divinity): from French culte or Latin cultus ‘worship’, from cult- ‘inhabited, cultivated, worshipped’, from the verb colere.*
Interesting the word is associated with cultivation, worship and related to anger.
Today happens to be the “Ides of March.” What is that?
In 44 B.C. on the 15th of March, Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Roman Senate. The Ides of March has since then been viewed as a portent of betrayal, treachery and evil. A further interesting bit.
In 63 B.C., Caesar was elected pontifex maximus, or “high priest,” allegedly by heavy bribes. Two years later, he was made governor of Farther Spain and in 60 B.C. returned to Rome, ambitious for the office of consul. The consulship, essentially the highest office in the Roman Republic, was shared by two politicians on an annual basis. Consuls commanded the army, presided over the Senate and executed its decrees, and represented the state in foreign affairs. Caesar formed a political alliance–the so-called First Triumvirate–with Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, and in 59 B.C. was elected consul. Although generally opposed by the majority of the Roman Senate, Caesar’s land reforms won him popularity with many Romans.
We can certainly fit the popularity of Julius Caesar into the definition of cult given the fact he was elected pontiface maximus.
Does Scripture give us any information?
Indeed it does. First let us revisit the hierarchey of rule on Earth in Genesis. In Genesis 2:15 we hear God (the Creator) speaking to undivided mankind (adam) just before God divides mankind into male and female for the purpose of companionship, friendship and reflection of His (God’s) love toward us by way of reflecting it to each other. He tells adam,
15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Does adam have a comprehensive concept of death, No. God has authority as Creator to define the terms and conditions of His relationship toward mankind and the authority to set boundaries for His creation. Fair enough.
Next we see the naming of created animals and dividing of mankind into male and female. Immediately in Chapter 3:1 we are introduced to the first created being who is not adam (mankind) a Serpent. The Serpent engages Havah (Eve, female of adam) in dialogue bypassing the hierarchical authority of God first and Adam (male of adam) second regarding the one thing God has put a ban or taboo upon. The Serpent asks a question, twisting the Word of God,
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Do you see the subtle to obvious twisting? Serpent questions the authority of God’s word. In an effort to re-enforce the importance of God’s word, Havah exaggerated or escalates. The Serpent declares a different doctrine in the word “not” and adds an enticement in the form of perceived equality to God as if something has been unjustly withheld from adam. All during this discourse, Adam is standing right there. It is his responsibility to correct Havah and the Serpent with the accurate word God gave them.(male and female in the undivided form, adam) The result? Their eyes were opened but not to themselves as demi-god beings, not even to the comprehension of good and evil; rather they saw themselves naked.(uncovered, exposed, vulnerable, without God’s spiritual presence.)
In an article published on The Apologetics Index website we find a list of 18 earmarks of a cult or cult characteristics. No 18 titled, “Supplementing Biblical Authority” describes what we have just witnessed in the interaction between the Serpent, Havah and Adam. Genesis 2 & 3 accounts help us understand a key and grossly overlooked point regarding our Adversary’s tactics; deception. In this author’s opinion, No 18 should have been listed as No 1. It is from this subtle twist, exagerate or escalate, declaration and enticement method we easily are deceived, exposed to danger and without the protection of both the Word and Spirit forefront in our actions.(naked)
Let us look at another vivid, dramatic scene where clearly there is a conflict of light and dark practices, fearlessness and agonistic fear, victory and humiliation.
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal: 1 Kings 18:1
This is a favorite among Old Testament readers. It reads like nothing short of any scene in Cecil B. Demille’s “The Ten Commandments.” Scene 1 The Lord speaks to his prophet/servant Elijah(El-ee-yah) Go find King Ahab of (the northern kingdom, not Judah) Israel. So our man Elijah goes. There has been a drought caused famine in the northern kingdom of Israel for three years. King Ahab and his wife the wicked Queen Jezebel are more than a little pinched financially as a result and tired of the whinging of their subjects.
King Ahab and Elijah meet, King Ahab asks if he is the “troublemaker of Israel?” To which our man, Elijah replies, “I am not the troublemaker, you are King Ahab because you forsook the wisdom/ways of your fathers.” Or Hey man, this is on your head, not mine. More bantering, er discussion.
Finally we get to the great scene; Elijah has called for a showdown between the prophets of God & the prophets of Baal to prove to the people, God is who and what He says He is, calling to the people of Israel to choose whom they will serve. (Parenthetical note: don’t do this; Elijah was commanded to do it) What follows is a tragic story for the Baalim prophets and triumph for the prophets of God in the seat of a wicked, wicked kingdom.(you really should stop right now and read it here; of course we will wait)
How far adam has fallen away from his Creator by the time we get to Elijah, Obediah, Ahab and Jezebel. The children of God have been reduced to those righteous living in Judah, and maybe a handful hiding from Ahab and Jezebel in the north. The original land mass God gave Abraham is divided; the Great King, David is cold in his grave. It is a dangerous, sorrow-filled time for His followers. And the worst is yet to come, but that is another story.
What about cults can we learn from these two vignettes? Cults involve the twisting of God’s Word, the dropping of the practice of God’s will. Cult leadership is what Jesus was describing when he talked of “wolves in sheepskins” among the flock. Their practices include;
- Twisting scripture to fit their narrative
- Charismatic person or persons in leadership, unquestioned loyalty to
- Redefining terms or long-held truths to seemingly outright debunking them
- Introduction of other “wisdom” from sources not ever referenced in Scripture including philosophies and practices God forbids. i.e. the murder of babies and children (Mollech worship)
- Elevating “science” over Scripture, in essence making science a religion. Scripture proves science, not the other way around.
- Demands for loyalty to a Person(ality) over the Principles of Righteousness
- Usurping the office and calling of the Prophet by claiming esoteric knowledge is only for the “enlightened”
- And the inverse: If you cannot understand what is being said, taught or written, you should be quiet and not ask questions. You clearly are not made of the right stuff.
- Tight group identification by means of symbolism known only to the “inner circle” or adepts; coded word patterns, graphic symbolism, hidden agendas, corrupted speech or texts from otherwise reliable sources, behaviors outside the “norms” of society.
This article only scratches the surface, please do read the source material. Cults are dangerous roads to travel. Few once divorced from a cult or cult practices have anything positive to tell of their experience However; at the time, they are oh-so-easy to fall into. What’s the harm in being open minded?
You will know them by their fruits.
- Define: cult – Oxford Dictionary
- Synonyms:sect, religious group, denomination, religious order, church, faith, faith community, belief, persuasion, affiliation, movement, group, body, faction, clique &obsession with, fixation on, mania for, passion for, idolization of, admiration for, devotion to, worship of, veneration of, reverence for
- French: colère
nf (=sentiment) anger
(=accès) fit of anger
trembler de colère to shake with anger – dictionary-reverso.net
- Latin: To till, farm, cultivate; worship – latindictionary.wikidot.com
- Gaius Julius Caesar & The Ides of March – History.com
- Top 10 Reasons to Beware the Ides of March – Smithsonian Mag
- Pontiface Maximus lit “the bridge builder” – britanica.com
- Apologetics Index on cult characteristics based on the book, “Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible” by James Sire.
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