I am very sure that PCC is not a cult; but I am told that some members [in a particular local church] think that we are a cult, and that even some [Bible College] students think that we are. Can you please let us know what is the definition of a cult?

I am aware and saddened that many, whom we regard as brethren in Christ, have misrepresented us and labeled us as cultic and extremists. When we started off, we were labeled as hyper-Calvinists, neo-Puritans, neo-pharisees, etc. But I am told that the latest label coming from a woman of prominence is: ‘little devils.’ I debated quite a while whether to mention this last label, as it is not extremely edifying, but I think it would show you that the labels are generally spilled out of extreme and irrational emotions. None who are supposed to have accused us have approached me personally. But whatever the case, although we ought rightly to be angry that the name of Christ could be blasphemed among the gentiles by the intramural vilification against us, let us resist the temptation to judge the motives of our accusers or to retaliate in kind. Our Lord Jesus teaches us: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Mt 5:38–39). If we are wrong, we shall one day have to bear an account to the Lord, but if we are right, our accusers will have to answer to the Lord. But my hope is that in that day we shall all stand with our accusers on the right side of the throne of Christ, as His sheep, never to feel sorrow and pain for slander against us anymore.

What is a ‘cult’ or to be ‘cultic’? To be cultic is to be like a cult. But what is a cult? There are some liberals and unbelievers, who would define cults from a sociological perspective. Under such definitions any religious group which is a minority would be a cult. But I know of no honest, Bible-believing evangelical Christian who would use such a definition, for the Lord teaches us: "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Mt 7:14). No Bible-believing Christian would disagree with the common Christian cliché, "One with the Lord is more than a thousand against the Lord." As such, our definition must rather be theologically and biblically based. But since there is no clear biblical definition, to be fair, I will quote from a number of sources, at least one of which would be agreeable to our accusers even if they object to the rest.

Walter Martin, "a Baptist minister, an evangelical holding to the inerrancy of Scripture," who is also one of the best known authority on Christian cults, defines cults this way: "A group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s mis-interpretation of the Bible. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses are, for the most part, followers of the interpretation of Charles T. Russel and J.F. Rutherford. The Christian Scientist of today is a disciple of Mary Baker Eddy and her interpretation of Scripture. The Mormons, by their own admission, adhere to those interpretations found in the writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young" (The Kingdom of the Cults [Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers], 11).

Gordon R. Lewis, another recognised authority on cults, defines it thus: "A cult… is any religious movement which claims the backing of Christ or the Bible, but distorts the central message of Christianity by 1) an additional revelation, and 2) displacing a fundamental tenet of the faith with a secondary matter" (Confronting the Cults [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1975], 4).

The late historian-theologian John H. Gerstner writes: "Evangelicals generally use sect [same as cult] when referring to those denominations which do not hold to fundamental biblical principles—especially the deity of Christ and His atonement" (The Teachings of Mormonism [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1960], 5).

Hank Hanergraaff, well-known for his book Christianity in Crisis, defines cult theologically thus: "A pseudo-Christian group [which] claims to be Christian but denies one or more of the essential doctrines of historic Christianity; these doctrines focus on such matters as the meaning of faith, the nature of God, and the person and work of Jesus Christ" (Op. Cit. [Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1993], 43).

Pastor Jack Sin, a local author, adopts the definition of Alan Gomes, author of Unmasking the Cults: "A cult is a group of people, which claiming to be Christian, embraces a particular doctrinal system taught by an individual or group of leaders or organisation which denies (either explicitly or implicitly) one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian faith as taught in the 66 books of the Bible" (Examining & Exposing Cultic & Occultic Movements [Singapore: Maranatha BPC], 13). Pastor Sin goes on to list 9 characteristics of cults: (1) "Cults deny at least one central doctrine of the Christian faith"; (2) "Cults normally have a dogmatic leadership structure"; (3) "Denial of salvation by grace through faith alone"; (4) "Reducing the absolute authority and sufficiency of Scripture"; (5) "Redefining biblical terms"; (6) "Exclusive belief system and practices"; (7) "Rejection of the doctrine of eternal punishment"; (8) "Emphasis on direct revelation / vision from God"; (9) "Claim of miracles, signs and wonders" (Ibid., 14–16).

I do not believe anyone, who has visited us or cares to examine our doctrines and practices objectively, can honestly say before God that any of the definitions above, or the nine characteristics, describe us. Perhaps our accusers think that we have an "Exclusive belief system and practices." But this perception may have come about because we are trying to be honest to the Word of God and to our Confession, namely, the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1648, whereas very few in Singapore, even in churches that claim to subscribe to this same Confession, have so much as heard of the existence of such a document. In any case, if we are a cult for holding fast to our Confession, then the large number of Presbyterian churches in the world, not only today, but for the last 350 years or so, which are true and honest to their Confession would also be cults or cultic.

I can understand how ordinary members of a congregation who have been misinformed for some reason could consider us cultic or extreme; but for Bible College students to say that we are so,—even after considering the points where we may differ from many of the churches in Singapore, is amazing, to say the least.