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ARTICLE

"Is It A Cult?" - by Don Hill

A new type of cult has appeared on the religious scene. These groups begin as professed "evangelicals", in a burst of missionary zeal, experience phenomenal growth, but do unmeasureable damage. Often they end in spiritual, moral and financial disaster.

In the new cult, initially it is not the doctrine that is false. It is the motive of the founder! He is driven by a lust for power, a desire to control people, and a greed for money.

Once the group is organized, and a regular schedule of services is in motion, the leader will begin systematically to isolate his members from other Christians, and cut them off from fellowship with the Body of Christ. This assures that nobody else will have any spiritual influence on them, and also that they will not divide their financial support with another ministry!

First he will create within the group, such a mad whirl of activities that the members have neither the time nor the energy to visit another church. Most evenings there will be some kind of church service or religious function. On holiday weekends everything from fellowship suppers, to film showings, to picnics will be used to keep the flock together, and prevent the members from straying.

Early in the group's history, the leader will introduce a rally point. The purpose of the rally point is to convince the members that the group has something they could not find in any other church. The rally point can be a special message God has (supposedly) given the group, based of course on a "revelation" received by the leader, or it may be a stand the group takes against a particular evil in the world. The members are often heard to say things like "No other church around here has the message" or "I don't know of any other church that takes the stand our church takes". This prevents members from leaving. Even those who must move to another locality for employment can be convinced that they must come back and forth to the group's services. If they transferred their membership to a church in their new locality, they would be unfaithful to the "message", or unloyal to the "stand" their church takes.

At some point in time, the leader may hear that people are saying the group is a cult. If this happens, he usually becomes quite paranoid. He may trace the rumour, and have his lawyer send the person a letter, warning him or her that "...my client will sue..." The leader will then create a smokescreen. By this, we mean that he will begin what seems like an all out war on the cults. His congregation can expect to hear sermons against the older, better known cults. If he is in the habit of showing movies in the services, there may be a series of anti-cult movies.

Eventually, there will come changes in the beliefs and practices of the group, as the leader gains greater control over the members. From time to time he will receive a "word from the Lord" regarding the direction the church should take, and the congregation will rejoice in the "revelation", believing they are pressing farther and farther into Canaan land!

The members are admonished not to make a major decision without first consulting the leader for counsel and prayer. This enables him to gain almost total control over their lives. They soon learn that everything must be subjected to the interest of the group. Husbands have been told, "If your wife will not attend the service - leave her! God will have somebody else for you!" Young people, whose parents opposed them joining the group are told not to talk to their parents. We have known of cases where the leader has arranged to have young people removed from their homes, taken out from under the influence of their parents, and placed in the homes of senior cult members.

It is not unusual for a cult leader to set in place an internal spy system. Carefully selected members will be assigned the task of informing him immediately if they hear any backbiting, or learn of any disloyalty. Those who offend are confronted by the leader. He will not only chide them for the error of their ways, but also remind them of any help they may have received from himself or the group. And woe betide any member who tells him of plans to leave the church. If he or she has ever seen the leader for counselling and shared personal problems with him, he may threaten to tell the world.

To financially support a Biblically sound church is good and proper. But beware! Cults frequently encourage their followers to sign the ownership of their properties and investments over to the organization, especially if they are able to provide a commune where the members can live together, and share all things in common.

Members are forbidden to speak to those who have left their ranks, so they never learn the truth as to why they left. Former workers who leave the organization fare the worst. They are lied about, and every effort is made to destroy their credibility.

Those who exit a cult are often so psychologically damaged that they will not go to a church of any kind. It is one thing to escape. It is another thing to experience the inner healing that is required to function again as a normal human being.

There is only one way out, and that is to leave and never return. Any literature, CDs or DVDs from the group should be destroyed. There should be no further communication with the leader. It is recommended that the individual find a historical mainline church where he or she feels comfortable, and begin attending on a regular basis. This is an essential part of the healing process, and should be done quickly, even if they change later and go to a different church. It is important to begin immediately to form a new circle of friends.



PASTORS DON & SARAH HILL
Office: 705-325-8964
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 523, Orillia, Ontario Canada L3V 6K2
Website Address: www.livinghopeministries.ca
Email: PastorHill@livinghopeministries.ca


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