Tackling Religious Extremism & Cults

Religious extremism – where does it come from? I had a chance to watch some stuff on Meade ministries, House of Yahweh, and Jonestown last night and it’s tough to believe (a) people got sucked into those cults and (b) that people chose to ruin their lives for a faith so strange. But I want to examine this phenomenon.

What makes someone follow a cult…form what I have watched and from personal thoughts – here is my list:

(a) Acceptance – Wanting to belong and then finding you do

(b) Importance – Feeling special/unique about what you believe (ie: elect)

(c) Connection to God – Leader has some unique (or close) relationship with God (ie: prophet)

(d) Fear – Fear that if you do not follow the edicts – you will suffer for that – or may suffer in the future

(e) Faith – Feeling it is a requirement of your faith to do what it is you are doing

I find it funny but of the majority of cults on this planet – Christianity is the one with the most off-shoots. There is very good reason for this – our theology – when not meted out correctly – leads down a path of open interpretation on issues that people can run amok with. Here are few examples of those theologies that can be abused:

(1) End Times – Most cults actually play off of this idea – as both a control technique and as their core doctrine

(2) Prophethood – Gives the leader some authority and opens the door for ‘new scripture’

(3) Love God, not your family – If your family will not accept your new faith – they can be discarded as being ‘against you’

(4) True Church/Elect – The idea that the church is a spiritual entity can be abused with off-shoots or groups that can claim ‘they are thr true church – the elect’.

(5) Messiahism – This can lead people in to new diverse ideas where they become the current identity of that messiah and their group is part of this change

It is plainly obvious that Christianity allows this type of behavior – even on smaller scales. People leave churches and start their own churches – all because they cannnot work with someone or cannot believe something someone else does (ie: they split and start a new church). That ideal is pretty much the cornerstone of the cult identity – they usually leave and start their own ‘movement’. It truly is Christianity’s greatest flaw and weakness – it’s divisiveness and lack of unity.

Think of it, if some of you remember Timothy (Speedy) – the self proclaimed prophet who hears from Jesus and writes scripture – he is taking advantage of many of these open ideals and abusing them – all because what he says cannot be accepted in traditional churches or denominations. I also think some of the Messianic Jews fall into this same category – and use those open ideas to their advantage – as something both unique and more true that what you believe.

We can ignore this kind of talk – it’s easy to do – but should we? If anything Jonestown serves as a candid reminder of what can happen when people ignore these strange and ‘evil’ ideals.


2 thoughts on “Tackling Religious Extremism & Cults

  1. I would also like to state quite uncategorically that the strain of Messianic Judaism I have encountered on this site – and on others – does indeed play into a few of these ideas mentioned in this article – which is of true concern to me.

    This form of Christianity (Messianic Judaism) is not an accepted form of Judaism – but it is an accepted form of Christianity (so they start with a lie). These people add more to the texts – than is actually there – play loosely with interpretation and demand you become Jewish to be a Christian. They pretend they are unique and the only true path of Christianity (Christianity being a bad word) – unless you live like them you will not be ‘fully blessed’ (you will marginally blessed).

    This is a sort of fear tactic to ‘sell’ the idea to the masses – that without following this way you choose to be ‘the least in heaven’ – that you may not ‘love God’ – and in turn ‘you may be dishonoring God’. It’s tricky to decipher – but when I realize what true Judaism looks like and this fake version that tries to sell itself as a form of Judaism – you very quickly realize someone is lying here (or is very indoctrinated into believing a lie).

    Judaism is nothing like Messianic Judaism. Judaic law has changed and been re-interpreted over some 2600 years – and rulings have been made concerning many aspects of Torah Law – that Messianic Judaism does not adhere to. Also the fact that law has to be ruled upon and updated – means going back to original Torah and looking at passages literally – is not Judaism but a Christian viewpoint.

    Judaism also does not accept Jesus as Messiah – this is a very well known aspect of Jewish faith. Messianic Judaism tries to add this belief in and call itself a form of Judaism – it is plainly lying. If you want to accept Jesus as Messiah then you are a Christian – if you do not – you may very well be able to approach Judaism to ask to be converted to their faith. But you cannot have both and define the rules for 2600 years of Jewish tradition and religion…that is dishonest and trickery.

    Fact is Messianic Judaism – for Christians – tries to make them feel less than whole since they are not following Jewish custom and ritual – when they in fact do not even adhere to Jewish faith. What should flatter the Jewish faith – insults it because they try to speak for the Jewish faith – a horrible insult for any culture to have to endure (namely from a faith – Christian – that has made it rough on this faith for centuries – and now they usurp it and talk for it – that’s just mean).

    I am not saying Messianic Judaism is a ‘cult’ but it is leaning in that direction – think about it – it uses it’s disenfranchisement with Christian culture to being a new – more ‘truthful’ one – where more is required of you than previously – and without that adherence you are ‘not fulfilled’…even dismissing the Messiah (guilt). I would ask any Christian thinking of joining this denomination of Christianity to seriously consider your decision – it’s asking more of you than you think.

  2. “We can ignore this kind of talk – it’s easy to do – but should we? ” -SVS

    it is easy to do b/c we with rational minds think “no logical person would believe this person.” but people do! granted it’s a minority but it’s still no excuse. i think it stems from a lack of theological training. people are yearning for something and sometimes, the first thing to come along and accept them is what gets their vote. if we had philosophy and theology as part of the education system, people would be able to smell this crap a mile away.

    at least, that’s my completely uneducated guess.

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