The Insidious Attraction of Cults
Unless we approach Scripture with great care and precision, it is easy to be led astray from the truth by subtle lies and exciting personalities. In this brief clip, W. Robert Godfrey explains the powerful influence that cults have had in the United States.
There are some people, I think, naturally attracted to the notion that the physical is the most real and other people attracted to the notion it is the spiritual that is the most real. In a country where there is freedom, people can exercise this kind of religion. Why do you think they exercise their religion in that way? I think, often, one factor is really powerful, charismatic leaders. It has to be the Joseph Smith as the first prophet and then Brigham Young as the next prophet who were powerful, charismatic (not Pentecostal), but just very effective communicators, dominant personalities, driven by their own vision in such a powerful way that other people are drawn in. Mary Baker Eddy must have had that same kind of leadership quality about her. And, of course, people are gullible. P.T. Barnum: “There is a sucker born every minute.” I mean, people want to believe certain things. It’s much easier somebody said to get people to believe what they want to believe than to get them to believe what they don’t want to believe. And, of course, ultimately, we believe this is a demonic strategy to lead people away from the truth. I was quoting Luther at the National Conference this year. Luther very wisely said, “Wherever God builds His church, the devil builds a chapel next door, and the chapel is always bigger.” It always has something more exciting. That is sort of the spiritual warfare we find ourselves in. And so, the gullibility of people is a real factor in the rise of cults, but also the fact that too many American Protestants were content not to have education or a real theological system. If you don’t have education and a real theological system, you are much more susceptible to someone opening the Bible and saying, “Now, look at that verse. Your denomination does not take account of that verse. I can explain that to you.” If you really don’t know what you ought to believe, if you don’t have a systematic approach to the Bible, it is much easier to be led astray. I think that has happened over and over again in the history of the American churches.