What is a Cult? – Essay Sample

Explore and explain the social psychological aspects of cults, with example

essay-sampleExplore and explain the social psychological aspects of cults, with examples. List 2-3 sources in the references :
To begin with, we need to figure out what term “cult” means. According to Josh McDowell – one of the most popular and influential American evangelical writer, the definition of term cult might differ depending in which field of knowledge it is used. McDowell in his book “Guide To Understanding Your Bible ”( San Bernardino, California, 1982)  gives three definitions of cult: 1) Psychological – cult is a group of people, which is able to change someone’s behavior and psychological point of view towards life. 2) Sociological – the group of people, which does not meet the expectations of the society where it exists. 3) Theological – (from Latin “cult” – to obey, to worship) cult – group of people, whose creeds (beliefs) are based on certain leader’s supremacy, who is interpreting the doctrine of cult so that it denies the central dogmas of Christianity or any other traditional religion (Buddhism, Judaism, Islam).

essay-sampleThe majority of cults are destructive in relation to natural harmonic condition ( spiritual, physical and psychological)  of personality. Walter Martin notices that cultic systems of beliefs have common psychological aspects: 1) narrow-mindedness and disinterestedness in rational and cognitive assessment of the facts. The cult organization gives the definition itself, pointing that the main authority for the cult is Bible and the founder of organization. Those beliefs systems are almost always isolated and are never prone to logic sequence. 2) initial enmity on people’s level, since the adept of cult almost always rejects the Christian moral basis, he spreads the non-admission on people who  share those basis, thereby occurs the problem of zero tolerance towards the people who do not accept the idea that: “ Durable chain binds the mind and emotions of a cult member, psychologically treated it as their own system, which limits its ability to distinguish truth from error, light from darkness”( the tragedy in Jonestown in 1978 where almost 900 followers of “reverend” Jim Johns committed a forced suicides, teaches a lesson of fanatic despair and isolation of cult adepts.) 3) Almost all cultic systems exercise the dogmatism in organization (authoritativeness and totalitarianism) and enmity towards any position, because they are willing to identify themselves with Christianity on supernatural grounds.


1)Argyle M., Beit-Hallahmi В . (2003)The Social Psychology of Religion, p. 60.

2)Herr V. Religious Psychology, p. 127.

3)Batson D., Ventis L. The Religious Experience. A Social-psychological Perspective, p. 256.

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