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Would you consider the International Church of Christ a cult?

(18 Posts)
Frecklesandspecs Sun 21-Apr-13 16:55:50

Can anyone enlighten me please on the church and their theology.
I was brought up evangelical but not bothered with church too much recently as I didn't want to become too involved with anywhere too quickly.
Met someone who invited me, kept texting and inviting me to more stuff...calling me, asking me to go to bible studies ect.(in a matter of 2 weeks!!) Getting a bit fed up with all the pressure so soon.
I did go twice and it 'seemed' ok, although I have not read their doctrine yet.
I read on the interenet that some would consider it a cult.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 18:37:58

It depends what you mean by cult. The usual definitions would encompass most religions.

Italiangreyhound Sun 21-Apr-13 20:33:15

Hi Frecklesandspecs, I hope you find some help along the way on your journey.

Everything I have heard about the Church of Christ is that it is a cult.

This website may help. I can't vouch for it other than having looked at it, it looks interesting.

Here are a couple of dictionary definitions of cult, which may help you in thinking if this group is a cult.


"a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members"

A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.

Of course there are many who do not like all religions and would happily lump them altogether. But I think from your post you would make a distinction from mainstream Christian groups and cults, using the dictionary definitions above (and having a Christian friend who nearly joined this group many years ago, having been told by them she was not really a Christian, and having found it very hurtful etc) I would say they are a cult.

But I am sure you will do your internet research and make up your own mind based on what you see.

Just be careful, please.

I hope you find Jesus as a real part of your life, because he is great. But I would not want to pressurise you into it, and you may find that is one of the differences.

Meringue33 Sun 21-Apr-13 20:39:36

Definitely not for me, but a friend's dad was a minister there and they seemed just like nice people, probably not a cult just a bit earnest and literal.

AMumInScotland Mon 22-Apr-13 17:41:12

I don't know this particular denomination, but I think the questions you have to ask yourself are -

Do they allow/encourage genuine questioning of their beliefs and policies?

Is there a mechanism by which individual members get to express their concerns and views, or is everything decided from the top without any consultation?

And, crucially, do they discourage their members from associating with friends and family outside of their own organisation (except for specifically trying to convert them)?

Oh and is there a single very charismatic leader who is believed to have a far closer and more direct relationship with God than what any ordinary member of the congregation could hope to achieve?

There is a difference between cults and other religions, but it tends not to be obvious in the actual theology. It's more about how they are organised and where the balance of power lies.

itsatiggerday Mon 22-Apr-13 17:57:50

Please be careful. My friend's sister joined - was lonely in London, hadn't previously gone to church, they were VERY friendly. She is no longer in touch with any family because after a certain period of time when the family hadn't become supportive, she told them she had to cut all ties as they were pulling her away. My friend's family have tried various avenues to regain contact and have met with at least 2 organisations who help families where someone is affected by cult activity and they definitely consider this group to be one. One was Cult Information Centre if you want to look. Take care.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 18:32:45

Oh and is there a single very charismatic leader who is believed to have a far closer and more direct relationship with God than what any ordinary member of the congregation could hope to achieve?

The Pope?

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 20:40:41

I am not defending or attacking catholics at all but really pedro are you calling the pope charismatic??

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 22:17:11

I am not defending or attacking catholics at all but really pedro are you calling the pope charismatic??

Touche, Italian! No I'm not. But I've heard plenty of people say he is!

But anyway, my point was that actually, although there were some carefully selected definitions above, if you follow the link you see this:

1. a. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
b. The followers of such a religion or sect.
2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
3. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
4. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.
a. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
b. The object of such devotion.
6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.

These definitions can be applied to any organised religion.

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 22:35:21

I picked the definitions that I felt were best expressing what I understood by the term, I did include the links so people could check for themselves, as you have thougtfully done Pedro wink.

I would not say that in line with the OP's original questions (about a specific group) that 2 or 3 applies as all religions could be defined by this and the OP was not asking if all religions were cults but rather if this specific group could be called a cult.

Like wise number 4 is not refering speifically to this example, I did read that but chose to leave it out of my post because I don't think it is relevant to the OP's post.

(There would be other cult's that were specifically related to healing - for example).

Yes, 5 a could be included if the group has a very charismatic leader, which is I guess is covered by my later reference to 'charismatic leader'.

I don't know exactly what 6 means! I am not sure it applies to the group mentioned by OP or to the Catholic church.

I guess what I meant about charismatic leader is that the current pope is not very well known to me. The last pope was not (as far as I know, as a non-Catholic) a very 'charismatic' leader. The pope before did seem to be very well loved but I still would not say that the charismatic tag would fit. In the church we use the term 'charismatic' to mean gifts of the spirit and again this is not what I think this is refering to. It is refering to a certain type of human leader who gets a whole group of people on board and they all go along with that one person.

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 22:37:08

These definitions can be applied to any organised religion maybe some could maybe some could not, but that is not what the OP was asking about.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 23-Apr-13 08:20:28

Number 6, I think would apply to artistic things, for example, a cult film. That which has a smaller, more dedicated following.

In this case, I believe the OP is asking if this particular church is one which will turn them away from their family and friends and lock down control over their life. Since this doesn't get covered by any of the definitions above, I thought it worthwhile checking what the actual question was.

From what I've read on the websites that Italian Greyhound linked to it looks like ICofC is conservative theologically but the cult like bit is in where the power lies. itsatiggerday confirms this in her sister's friend's experience. Now that may be just that one church that was controlling and cult like as ICoC is congregational. Each church is self governing and they don't seem to have much of an overall structure with oversight. That raises a red flag for me but if you are looking for a Christian community why not do a bit of church shopping and check out the welcome, comfort of the chairs, after service coffee, worship band, social action and preaching and make a decision on whether this ICoC outfit is really right for you. have a mystery worshipper project so maybe you could check that out and maybe even join in if you are getting out and about!

Italiangreyhound Tue 23-Apr-13 22:37:48

Hey Pedro that does sound like cult film you are describing. Well worked out, or did you use another dictionary?? wink

Greenheart my friend was involved with the Church of Christ, in as much as they pressurised her to join, made her doubt her own faith as a Christian (of several years) and generally made her feel very unhappy I think.

I think it is understandable that Christians want to share their faith, it's good so we want to pass it on, like talking about a great restaurant you've just visited! But if anyone talks to me about God and I encourage them to visit my church etc, I don't pressurise them, or try and box them in, I'd never want them to lose touch with families or friends whatever they believed. I can only think of very extreme cases were people are genuinely better off without their families or friends!

* Frecklesandspecs* so the test is to see how you feel but I fear that with the Church of Christ by the time you get to the stage of saying no thanks, you've become already a bit involved and it is harder because pressure is being put on you. I'd get a wide range of experiences with different churches and see where the light shines best.

That mystery worshipper thing sounds fun!


Weegiemum Wed 24-Apr-13 06:46:52

I'm a mystery worshipper (different name on the Ship, though!). It's great fun!

HoneyandRum Sat 27-Apr-13 21:38:03

I read a definition for a cult recently that I liked.

A cult is easy to join but hard to leave.

A religion is hard to join but easy to leave.

I'm a Catholic, if you want to become Catholic as an adult you go through a process called RCIA - The Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults - which lasts about a year. It's so you go through a whole liturgical year so you see and experience what Catholics do, believe and celebrate. You obviously are part of a teaching and support group that meets every week to help Cathecise you. It is extremely important that your decision to join the church is a free one that is fully informed and understood. You are able to stop being a practicing Catholic at any time just by stopping to go to Mass, and by no longer praying and believing.

marymom123 Thu 15-Aug-13 02:25:29

I was a member of the group and it is without any doubt, a cult! Please stay very far from this group and teach your kids the same, especially your college-aged kids. There are many wonderful people in this group that are being manipulated.

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