One of the signs of these Last Days is the proliferating of false prophets, saviors, gurus, teachers and related bestiary. Whatever the inclination of one's heart, from starry-eyed mysticism to the most perverse and abominable doctrine, it will surely find its way home in some existing organization or group. In the very remote case of not being able to be satisfied by the present "religious" smorgasbord, one can of course, start his own "religion", complete with logo, PO Box, phone, fax, E-mail and the usual appeal for offers. The sky is not the limit. As somebody has said, "If you will not believe the truth, you will believe anything."
Although it all sounds quite ridiculous, this is the condition in which humanity finds itself right now. There have always been simpletons and fools falling by the wayside, but we are now dealing with educated, sophisticated and influential high level professionals who, with mindless and boundless enthusiasm, are lining up en masse to follow the latest pied piper, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that the piper in the end, must be paid.
A few years ago, the Rev. Jess Moody published in the Los Angeles Times, a simple tongue-in-cheek guideline. Here it is:
Q. How can I tell if a religion is a cult?
A. There are several ways:
(1) It has one person (mortal) as the final authority.
(2) It has another book to explain the Bible and that book will be given the same authority as the Bible.
(3) It may be the
enemy of the sciences.
(4) It will pervert the Trinity or the nature of Christ, calling Him a prophet, an archangel, a half-way house between God and man - but never God incarnate. It may deny His humanity.
(5) It will give undue emphasis to certain Scriptures and de-emphasize the rest.
(6) It will limit personal freedom -- in the name of submission to authority.
(7) It will get into your personal life with abnormal taboos.
(8) It will get much of your money.
Anyway, in the link below you will find scholarly definitions of what constitutes a "cult", plus a review of today's most prominent ones.