The Rev Dr Harold Bussell wrote an article in the Cultic Studies Journal in 1985 called “Why Evangelicals are vulnerable to Cults”. Writing from an Evangelical perspective he saw something in the personality and orientation of his fellow evangelicals which made them more vulnerable to cults than other Christians.
Evangelicals were not usually drawn to cults because of doctrine, but because of other factors. Doctrine was affected after a church turned into a cult, but was not the cause of turning into a cult.
Some of the factors which caused Evangelicals to be attracted to cults were :
- A foundation in identity by opposition. Ie. we oppose Islamists, the Gay lobby, Liberalism etc. etc.
- Idealised images of the Pastor, leading to covering up of sin or shortcomings
- Over-emphasis on testimonies and experiences leading to the Gospel being confused with the effects or the experience of the Gospel
- Group sharing leading to conformity, manipulation and inappropriate authority over lives
- Development of a sub-cultural spiritual language
Although written over 20 years ago, I think these points are even more relevant today especially in mega-church and pentecostal circles. Interesting that he echos a point that Lance recently made about the experience of the Gospel replacing the Gospel. Bussell says: “ If you think you or your church is not vulnerable to these dynamics, you are most vulnerable.”
The article is well worth reading at :
Why Evangelicals are vulnerable to Cults.