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rockfan's avatar

Do you think fundamentalist Christianity fits the definition of a cult?

Asked by rockfan (11013points) 1 week ago from iPhone

Christianity is a religion that says a person will experience eternal suffering if they question God. A God that is all perfect, but wiped out 99% of the population because he didn’t like his own creation.

At most, I think Christianity fits the definition of an abusive relationship. What are your thoughts?

By the way, this question is not meant to offend, asking because I’m genuinely curious what others think.

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23 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes,but why stop with Christianity?

Ultra-orthodox judaism is also VERY cult-like as well – special dress, unquestioning loyalty, a chief Rabbi who is almost mystical in his power.

And then you have the Taliban, and ISIS, and Boko Haram, and all sorts of nihilistic Islamic groups as well.

All religions (except maybe Ba’hai) have their share of cult-like believers and leaders.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Of course follow our doctrine and do not question it at all or you will go straight to hell.

zenvelo's avatar

No, most fundamental churches are not cult like, they don’t have individual leaders that demand loyalty to them only, along with giving them all one’s money.

Your question has a major flaw: it tries to ascribe certain characteristics to a general group of disparate elements. A fundamentalist church in one town may be very different from the one down the road.

Even your explanation if false.

This is not true:. ”... Christianity is a religion that says a person will experience eternal suffering if they question God.”

ragingloli's avatar

All religions are cults.

stanleybmanly's avatar

All organized religions.

zenvelo's avatar

Atheism is a cult.

rockfan's avatar

@zenvelo

Not sure if you’re joking or not, but the lack of a belief in a higher power is certainly not a cult…

rockfan's avatar

@zenvelo

I can see why Christianity may not be a cult, but I definitely think the philosophy of Christianity has elements of being in an abusive relationship. God creates humans, does heinous things towards them, but still expects us to worship him. And sends us to hell if we don’t.

zenvelo's avatar

@rockfan Atheists cannot veer from their rigid truth without being severely criticized for being apostates to the “truth”.

rockfan's avatar

@zenvelo

You do realize that most atheists classify themselves as agnostic-atheist right? Agnosticism has to do with what we know, and 99% of atheists admit that it’s impossible to prove or disprove God. Atheism has to do with what we believe, and atheists lack a belief in God, because of the lack of evidence for God.

It honestly seems like you know very little about atheism. Not believing in God is not a “rigid truth”.

LostInParadise's avatar

No, most Christian fundamentalism is not part of a cult. There is not the control and secrecy found in cults. Some say that religions start out as cults. Could Jesus be considered to have been the head of a cult?

A better case could be made for Scientology being a cult, even though it is officially recognized as a religion.

Yellowdog's avatar

I would not call atheism a cult, but ANY position about God is a religious position.

“Fundamentalist” Christianity is impossible to define.

zenvelo's avatar

@rockfan I was being a bit tongue in cheek, mostly in reaction to the statements before my first post. Many Atheists are so rigid in thinking (Bill Maher comes to mind) that anyone with any faith or agnostic outlook is criticized as deluded.

It happens a lot here on Fluther. Someone mentions a belief in a general cosmic force and they are lumped in with fundamentalists or Amish or Southern Baptists.

kritiper's avatar

As far as I know, Christians aren’t damned for their not recognizing “God.” Christians, by exact definition, are those that follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. That is all.
And, IMHO, all religions are cults, or cult like.

KNOWITALL's avatar

By definition, I guess so. Many non-believers ascribe a sinister aspect in many religions.

Of course not, although any religion you are ‘raised in’, to me, is for all intents and purposes, indoctrination from birth to a degree. Kind of like school, then later in life you dedicate yourself as a ‘believer’ if you are led to do so.

False premise, as God does not discourage questions, quite the opposite.

James 1:5–6 ESV
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

PS I was raised Southern Baptist and Fundamental Baptist, which are pretty hardcore. Kind of like the movie Footloose in some aspects.

LostInParadise's avatar

@KNOWITALL . ask in faith, with no doubting sure looks like indoctrination.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. They’re up there fundamentalist Islam for being over armed and bat shit crazy.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@LostInParadise “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11: 1. Faith is the connecting power into the spiritual realm, which links us with God and makes Him become a tangible reality to the sense perceptions of a person. (wikibooks)

All I can tell you is that without faith, I don’t think anyone can have a true communion with God, and I think that’s what that bible verse means. What would be the point in questioning a Deity you have no belief in? And if He answered, could you hear or even understand?

What you call ‘indoctrination’, I call being raised on how to interpret God’s word, the times the bible was written in, context, etc…

@Yellowdog is a preacher so he may have more insights into this for you, I’m just a regular old sinner saved by the grace of God, no theologian.

Yellowdog's avatar

Hey, @KNOWITALL you are spot on with what you are posting.

I am ordained, and still of course a believer, but I have not been the pastor of a congregation for a long time. There is too much on my plate right now, and the doors have not often been open. I struggle just to get by hour by hour, day by day. But I do believe things will eventually get better, as God leads.

Demosthenes's avatar

“Cult” is a word that is notoriously difficult to define. One thing is clear is that it is pejorative. A “cult” is bad, whereas a “religion” or “sect” is neutral. To me, “cult” has certain key elements: brainwashing, charismatic leader, isolation from greater society, difficulty leaving, etc. By this definition, “fundamentalist” (another difficult-to-define term) Christianity does not fit the bill. Scientology comes closer and there are certainly cult-like offshoots of Christianity, often under the leadership of a person who believes they’ve received a special revelation (a hallmark of the “cult leader”).

There are facets of Christian doctrine and dogma I take issue with (the threat of damnation as a motivator being a major one, the entire concept of exclusivity found also in Islam), but these debatable facets don’t constitute a “cult”.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Yellowdog Oh the older church didnt work out? Must be other paths in store, friend. Thanks!

Yellowdog's avatar

COVID pretty much shut everything down.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It is unfortunate that cult has acquired the stigma reserved for pejoratives. In reality, any group from a sewing circle through a boy scout troop can be legitimately regarded as a cult. The word has now been honed down to apply to worship or veneration, but when you think about the relationship between cult and culture you begin to wonder why it is that hearing the word cult triggers images of devil worship and voodoo rituals.

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