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.