(Part 3 in a series that just might be 4)
Simon’s Law: Everything put together sooner or later falls apart.
Whispered Rule: People will believe anything if you whisper it.
Cults and cult-like belief systems follow a specific formula, even before Jesus’ time. The leader is a charismatic person who often claims to have been revealed “more” about the Bible than any other religions because all of the other religions have become unfaithful and won’t go to Heaven. If there is a contradiction with the Bible, the material revealed to the leader, usually referred to as a prophet (but sometimes as an apostle or something else) is more correct. If the Bible is preached out of, it is usually old testament and often from the book of Job. (While it’s true Job’s friends said what they did, they were technically incorrect, if they weren’t God wouldn’t have set them straight!) If sacrifices are to be made, the believers are called upon to give up pretty much everything, but anything that is really nice is the prophet’s. The more cult-like the group, the more control over even the smallest details of the believers’ lives the prophet has.
Wallace’s Observation: Everything is in a state of utter dishevelment.
Manley’s Maxim: Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.
In the Boy Meets World episode in which Shawn joins a cult, he doesn’t realize that he’s in over his head. He wanted a place where he could be accepted, and they provided it. It even felt like a family that he longed for so many years. He moved in with the group, gave up any posessions, and was given a new name. The leader invited him into his chambers, to discuss how proud he was with his acceptance of the faith, which were well-decorated and comfortable, but he didn’t notice because all he wanted was to make the leader happy. He grew defensive around his friends who had become concerned about him. Cory was able to help him out, but Shawn lost the family that he had finally come to know. All along, Cory was family to him, but he never saw it that way.
Names, faces, and details of the faith differ, but the results are always the same: broken lives, broken relationships, and broken faith in anything that could be true. Granted, most of these cults won’t commit mass suicide, but they almost did in that Stargate episode. Most of these cults you’ll never hear about or know anybody who have fallen into the fold, but it’s possible. Most of these cults won’t become well-known, but they will be judged. It won’t be easy to get the message out, and for those of us who can’t lend a hand, we can lend prayers, for that is what these people don’t have but they could really use.