Was Jesus a cult leader?
In the Cult Syndrome / Conclusion
section, it was said,
The lesson is to mistrust the one who attempts to break the bonds of family, friends, and society, for it is in isolation that we are the most vulnerable.
By this definition, was Jesus a cult leader?
That's a tough quesion to answer, insofar as all that we know about Jesus is what got canonized in the New Testament hundreds of years later. Many sayings had been attributed to Jesus — surely he didn't actually say all of them — especially considering that many of them contradict each other. So we should rather address the words instead of the speaker.
When we do, we find that several significant passages are definitely characteristic of cult indoctrination:
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
27 Then Peter said in reply, "See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?" 28 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world,when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Such passages were taken as the inspiration for the creation of Christian monasteries, and have become the model for cult movements in western society. If a leader can get people to give up all of their worldly possessions (to the leader), they get to go to heaven — and the leader gets a whole bunch of free stuff! Some people think of such things not as spiritual beliefs, but as business models.
But in other passages, Jesus is portrayed as kind and humble, so it's difficult to determine, just based on literal interpretations of the NT, what kind of person Jesus actually was.