(Not in the church of Christ, bro)
A few years back, on national television, a denominational preacher declared that the church of Christ was a cult. Uninformed or hateful people (whichever they may be) took this as an opportunity to persecute members of the Lord’s church with something that is not true. The church of Christ is not a cult. We have three different evidences.
The church of Christ does not have a cult-type leader. We are led by elders or the men of the congregation. We never see an instance of one leader of a congregation, always a plurality (Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5-7). A cult will have a single charismatic person who controls everything a devotee practices and tells them what to believe. Unfortunately, many denominations have turned to a one-pastor system for expediency. This is an un-Biblical practice that should be studied diligently. The wrong man in a singular role of power could do much damage to a community falling in line with a cult-type of leadership.
Unlike cults, the church of Christ does not seek to brainwash its members. Brainwashing usually involves taking members from society and isolating them from non-members, and showering them with cult doctrine. This is not true of the Lord’s church because the Bible teaches us to be exactly the opposite. We are to go out (Mark 16:15-16) and be the light of the world (Matthew 5:16). We also have no man made laws or creeds, we strictly go by the Bible. Members of the church of Christ are not expected to blindly accept anything that is taught (Acts 17:2), rather we are taught to study and question. We do things as the original church did, holding to the apostles teachings (Acts 2:42). We have no need for brainwashing, only the ability to read and understand simple instructions from the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This is not true in many denominations. In many places whatever the “pastor”, or unbiblical creed book, says goes. Questioning members have their allegiance brought under scrutiny…so who is more like a cult?
Many cults claim to have top-secret knowledge. The church of Christ does not have any knowledge that someone couldn’t find reading their Bible. The Word of God teaches that anyone can come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). The Bible can be understood by anyone (Ephesians 3:3-5; Romans 15:4). The Bible teaches us to share the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20) and that we are to be prepared to honorably defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15-16). There is no room in the church of Christ for secret doctrine! Many denominational preachers say the Bible cannot be understood without their leadership or creed book, because the “spirit talks to them”. They will then speak things contrary to the Word of God and their adherents eat it up believing that a man has some "divine insight" or that there is another inspired book other than the Bible. The church of Christ does not claim secret knowledge. The knowledge for salvation, Christian living, and acceptable worship can be easily found in the pages of the New Testament.
Therefore, there is no valid reason to accuse the churches of Christ of being a cult. The only motivation for doing so is to cause prejudice and prevent them from hearing the simple truth of the Bible…much like the Sadducee’s did in Acts 4 to Peter and John…but they didn’t quit preaching (Acts 4:19-20). Let us not give up the fight because people hurl insults. Keep fighting the good fight.
(Written by J.J. Hendrix, taken from the outline of Charles Billingsly)