Wednesday, February 13, 2008
You Might Be in a Cult . . .
What immediately comes to your mind when you hear the word, "cult"? Do you think of people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson or Rev. Sun Myung Moon? Do you think of things like: "killer kool-aid", "brain-washing", or hooded figures chanting around a pentagram? Do you think of Led Zepplin records played backwards revealing embedded satanic messages? Do you think of blue oysters?
These are just some of the things that come to mind when most people hear the word "cult" mentioned. But it would be a gross error to believe that these are the only flavors in which "cults" come. In my last post, "BooBoo's Daddy" declared that another gentleman was in a cult led by false teacher, Joyce Meyer. He made the key statement that people who are in cults don't realize that they are in cults. Certainly, cults don't use the word "cult" in their literature or on the sign at their front door. "World Changers International Cult", just wouldn't have the same ring to it! One reason why telling our friends and loved-ones that they are involved with a cult is ineffective; is that they only consider the extreme examples(like those listed above)to be actual "cults". In this, they make a huge mistake.
How should we define a "cult"? The Britannica Encyclopedia defines a "cult" in this way:
"Collective veneration or worship (e.g., the cult of the saints—meaning collective veneration of the saints—in Roman Catholicism).
In the West, the term has come to be used for groups that are perceived to have deviated from normative religions in belief and practice. They typically have a charismatic leader and attract followers who are in some way disenfranchised from the mainstream of society. Cults as thus defined are often viewed as foreign or dangerous".
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, in its three most typical uses, defines a "cult" as:
1: formal religious veneration : worship
2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
Dr. Walter Martin, in his classic work "The Kingdom of the Cults", defines a "cult" as "a group of people gathered about a specific person or person's misinterpretation of the Bible".
Throughout the history of this blog, I have endeavored to identify the various misinterpretations of Scripture by the purveyors of that atheology called Word of Faith/Prosperity/Triumphalism. I have also noted the fierce loyalty that these false teachers have engendered among their disciples. So do these facts lead one to the conclusion that the adherents of these teachings are members of a cult?
Let's see, what other clues do we have . . .
(1) they are sheepishly gathered around a charismatic personality.
(2) this charismatic personality's teachings are demonstrably unorthodox, abberant and spurious.
(3) to question or critique the charismatic personality's teachings is considered to be sedition and blasphemy.
(4) said charismatic personality is frequently found to be under(sometimes)armed guard.
(5) a great deal of ecclesiastical power concentrated in the hands of charismatic personality with little or no oversight or accountability.
(6) charismatic personality's image (rather than Jesus, the Bible, etc.)synonymous with the church/cult.
(7) charismatic personality's personal indiscretions, Biblical contradictions and/or arrests have no impact on his continuing leadership or hero status.
I think it was that great philosopher, Goofy, who once said, "if it walks like a duck, it talks like a duck and it looks like a duck; then, by gum, it must be a duck"!
The cults of Jones, Koresh and Manson were undoubtedly the most extreme and immediately dangerous; however, the cults of Dollar, Meyer and Osteen cause no less spiritual damage than the bloodiest cult you can imagine. The sway that these cult-leaders hold over their minions is no less powerful. No, they will probably never lead their people to mass suicide; but why would they when those people keep them in power and rolling in cold, hard, tax-free cash. Martyrdom looks good in the history books; but it won't buy you the latest Bentley! They'd be fools to cut of their own gravy train. Jones, Koresh and Manson were/are stark raving mad (which in a minute way might explain their actions); but for the current charismatic personalities it's just business.
I agree with "BooBoo's Daddy" that there is nothing we can say to convince a "Meyerite" or a "Osteenian" that they have been brainwashed. That is the province of the Holy Spirit alone. Let those of us who have been deprogrammed by the Word of God continue to pray and shout "wolf" from the rooftops!
Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!
You might be in a cult . . . if you believe that the U.S Congress' investigation of your preacher is persecution for righteousness sake!
You might be in a cult . . . if you believe that anyone who questions your preacher's teaching is an agent of satan!
You might be in a cult . . . if your pastor's picture upstages the name of Jesus on church advertisements!
You might be in a cult . . .
Have more? Send them in!