X0613..........Earmarks of a Cult

 

When one thinks of a "cult" we have a picture of a certain scenario...

A young person is taken away from parents, spends a lot of time with a certain group, where they are somehow changed in their behavior and thinking, and follow a leader dogmatically.

How does this type of cult indoctrination work?

the first key is that it attacks a young person. It takes some one who is young and can be impressed, and gives them a certain experience which often goes something like this:

The young person is brought into a group. the group is friendly and loving and cares for them. the group meets their needs to find friendship nd love, and gives them a place to "fit in" which is a driving need for young people.

the group is lead by a charismatic leader. Group talks often occur, in which everyone listens with absolute obedience to the words of the leader. Often it is said that the leaders' words are from "god" or that this person has a special connection with a 'god". the leader speaks words of encouragement, but often spiced with subtle criticism of the outside world. the call for the group is to separate themselves from the world, and therefore not take any instructions from anyone but the leader. Monetary contributions are asked for by the leader, but not for himself but rather for the greater cause the group has been given (although n reality, the money is controlled by the leader alone)

Often music, in a repetitive manner is used. The leader presents a cause, to which the group members are told they should give all to--money, service, whatever the group leader instructs. the leader has authority over the followers, and it is accepted by all without question, since it seems as if all the other members of the group are obedient. These things are done ina repetitive ritualistic manner, and often the group member experience a "high" in doing these rituals, (whether ecstatic or peaceful). this high is attributed to the group leaders abilities and instructions and the group members become addicted to this "high".

 

Now lets' look at the ritual which is called "church". How many of these criterion does it fit?

1. Young people are indoctrinated.

It is viewed as a "must" by many christian parents to give their children the example of "church" (in fact this is how the church ritual is propagated). Churches work hard to have good sunday school programs, to attract parent who want their children to be raised "in church". There are many created rituals which have been designed fro children, such as baptism, confirmation and even the marriage ceremony. these rituals are not scripturally correct. "confirmation and the "marriage ceremony" are not found in the Bible, and "baptism" has been redefined as something that children need to do, when clearly only adults were baptized in the times of the bible.

2. A friendly Group that already has a ritual.

The theory behind most organized churches is that all he rules for function have already been established. that is to says that one person is already "in authority" over the others, and, it seems, that a large group of people have already been operating under the authority of this person and this ritual. People feel safe when they see other people doing something, good people, people they respect and admire and desire friendship of. People have a natural herd instinct. It feels comfortable and safe to be in a group. "All these people can't be wrong" is the thought that sustains this aspect. The group activities and functions are unquestionable, since individuals rarely dare to speak against a group, especially a group of friends.

3. A comfortable place to function in.

The meeting place must meet some type of existing criterion or expectation. The place of meeting must look the way experience tells us it should. It should be comfortable and inviting, a place that people will like to stay in, and support with their work and finances.

4. A charismatic leader.

the leader is a great speaker, a gift that only a small percent of people possess. Most people find speaking to a group to be one of the most stressful and difficult tasks. when one sees another person gifted in this are it is very impressing. The leader looks the part. He dresses differently, he speaks boldly, or perhaps ina way that is soothing or calming to others. he gives uplifting messages of hope and help, but the only way to receive these messages is to stay in and participate in he group. The charisma of the leader leads to deep devotion toward this person, and his words and decisions become unquestionable. He is the only one who can interpret Gods' instructions, he is the only teacher of the group and his words are respected to a much greater degree than he words of any individual group member.

 

5. The "sanctuary".

By teaching and simply by the repetitive meeting of the same group, self-righteousness comes forth. Subtle criticisms of other groups and the outside world enter into the doctrine of the group, since the group is separated from the world in it's functions.

6. Money.

The leader has the right to ask for money from the followers. From a "practical" standpoint, since they must build and maintain the sanctuary, as well as all operations the ritual requires. The leader has the right to control all the money and of course takes a pay for his work the amount of which is determined by him.

7. ritual of music.

an excited atmosphere is created by not only the surroundings and the group, but also music is a big part of the ritual. Music is a spiritual function, but the type of song and the duration of the song is controlled by the leadership, it is part of their authority.

 

What Christians seem oblivious to is the fact that Jesus directly spoke against this type of cult functioning. He clearly stated that among ourselves, we are not to exercise authority one over another. this is certainly the most ignored teaching of Jesus.....

42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45)

 

 

Multiple times, Jesus spoke against the idea of human authority operating the church. Jesus Himself stated that he did not exercise authority over others in His ministry function...

25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; (Luke 22:25-29)

Rather, He followed the instruction of the Father, who was not physically present but gave Jesus all His instruction..

Joh 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

The traditional cult format of "church" is based largely on the authority of one person. It gives tremendous authority to one person in terms of decision making, teaching, and monetary function.

We don't seem to realize that the new testament and the example of jesus guides us a format of meeting that is not a cult practice.

26 ¶ How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (1corinthians 14:26)

In the Christian meeting all may minster, teach or speak. the Christian meeting is meant to be in a small group (many small groups if there are a large number of believers in an area).

The only One who is meant to be in authority is Christ...

1Ti 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Col 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Ministry is supposed to be service gifts "anointings" that all operate in together, ministry is NOT authority over others....

42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
(Mark 10:42-43)

the Christian church has rather dogmatically followed old covenant principles as it's operational plan. these old covenant principles are clearly and specifically done away with in the new covenant, and in fact they represent failed human governments of Israel which were not God's first highest purpose for the nation of Israel. god only gave human government to Israel because they demanded it from Him, and the fact is that all the human governments of israel failed.

The Christian church has a definitive cult basis. What are the results? I believe the biggest result is a blindness to the example of Jesus. A blindness to what the new testament says about ministry and authority and church operation. the church is also blind to it's own history. the honest results of the Christian cult are the many wars and persecutions which have taken place over the centuries by the cultic institution which called itself the church. In our day and age, the results are not as dramatic, because, if we look honestly at Christianity we will see that slowly, as the Word of God pierces this blindness, people are beginning to come free of the cult-like practices of the past (although there is an inexorable drawing toward these familiar cult practices that is amazingly powerful and certainly Satanic).

Democracy has been put in place in many churches, in an attempt to control human authority. But democracy is not what the new testament calls for. the new testament calls for theocracy--the rulership of God. What so many seem oblivious about is the fact that the new covenant gives a plan for theocracy--it gives the outline of what we need to do in order to truly have God rule.

there are many aspects to this, and one of the most important is a flexibility and openness to gods' directions and plans. In our day and age there are many individuals who have realized that they ought to follow god directly and in fact there are some churches that teach this idea (yet at the same time continue to practice the same pre-ordained cult meeting that other churches follow). but there is meant to be a group following of the Lords instructions. A meeting of equals--brothers and sisters in the Lord, who respect one another, love one another, and invite and encourage all to minister freely. A small group meeting where the ideas and words that God might speak through a ll members bear equal weight.

Imperfect people following a perfect God. Taking on the mission and example that jesus demonstrated.

That is what the church should look like, not a cult.