The eight marks of a mind control cult is important for a number of reasons, primarily it is preventative. What I mean by that is that the information in this series is designed to help readers become aware of the techniques cult and high control religious groups use in order to recruit and keep members. Secondly, it is a way of helping people who may be involved in these sorts of groups out of them and back to leading a normal life in society. Thirdly, these posts are a way for leaders in churches to become introspective and review the techniques they employ that are described in these posts and to end their use within the group they are leading. Of course, the big question, in relationship to church leadership, is whether or not they are willing to reform. My fear is that too many of these leaders are too proud or too attached to these techniques to change. However, that is another topic for another post, and now back to the eight marks.
I am not going to review the previous seven marks that I have posted. I ask the readers to go back and review the posts for themselves. As always comments, good or bad, are welcome, so long as they deal with the topic, and are not vulgar.
Doctrine over Person
What this mark means is that human experience is subordinated to the group’s doctrine no matter how profound or contradictory such experiences may seem. As long as the member submits to the doctrine of the group, the member is “protected.” Of course this is contrary to clear biblical teaching where Paul makes it clear that the believer is to be ruled by his/he conscience and not the peculiar doctrines of the church he/she attends (Romans 14). If a believer follows his conscience over the doctrine of the group, he/she is viewed as disobedient to the group. Further any tragedy that befalls this person is viewed as appropriate discipline from God for that believer’s disobedience. Lastly, the leadership will deflect any rightly deserved criticisms, or flip the blame back on the person. For instance, in the years just prior to 1975, the Watchtower leadership wrote a number of articles and books indicating that something apocalyptic would occur in 1975. When nothing happened, and a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses left the group in disillusionment, the Watchtower leadership painted these persons as the ones with wrong expectations. Of course the entirety of Watchtower history is a sad testimony to failed expectations.
Secondly, the history of the organization is constantly changed in order to fit current doctrinal thinking. I really can go on and on regarding this point based on my knowledge of the Watchtower history however that would be contradictory to the purpose of this post. The point is that the way the Watchtower changes its doctrine is eerily similar to the way Big Brother manipulated the thought life of the population of Oceania in George Orwell’s book 1984. In other words, what was once believed and was abandoned as official dogma was to not even to be remembered by the average Jehovah’s Witness. This phenomena is occurring again as the Watchtower is once again changing its view on the 1914 generation.
Lastly, conscientious objectors are told that it is easier for them to change to fit the organization’s doctrine than it would be for the organization to change. This is especially true within cults, but it is also sadly true within Christian churches. The problem with this occurrence within the realm of Christianity, and Protestant Christianity, is that this attitude flies in the face of the words of Martin Luther to the Diet of Worms,
Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted [convinced] of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [convinced] by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us. On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.
The cultic technique of doctrine over person is not Scriptural, and has no place in any church that names the name of Christ. Any church leadership that employs this conscience violating technique are not acting in accordance with clear scriptural teaching and are subject to God’s judgment. Regarding the cult’s usage of this technique, they do this in order to further dehumanize their membership and subject them to the whims of the cult’s leadership without suffering any negative backlash from the rank and file.
Next time on the Jude3blog: Dispensing of Existence.