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RottieGrrrl

What bothers me about The Way (and other groups) being called a cult

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The other thread about TWI being a cult got me thinking. Actually, this has been on my mind for ages, but I'm inspired to bring it up now.

The one thing that bothers me when people call TWI a cult, is when they bring their doctrine into it. And I mean the Trinity (yes, there's the unmentionable T word I swore I'd stay away from) and the "divinity, or pre-existance of Jesus."

It seems like in the "expert on cults" circles, that according to them, The sure fire way of identifyng a cult, is If they don't beleive that Jesus is God. Of course, these same groups are quick to point out that there are non christian cults too.

Excuse me? How does that work? From a Christian veiwpoint, since when is it worse to believe that Jesus is Lord, but not God, than to not believe in God at all or worship ...according to a so-called Christian perspective... a false God.

Can anyone see the hypocrosy here?

I know for a fact that if you ask the normal average Joe on the street, "Do you believe Jesus pre-existed." They'd go.."huh?" Or if you ask them about the trinity, they would say Sure! I believe in it! Just parroting what they've been taught without actually thinking about it. And certainly if you pressed them what it meant, they'd have different responses.

Then I see the mainstreamers, knock down other churches. The protestants attack the Catholics, the Mormons are attacked, (I wont even go into the Jehovah's) Pat Robertson has attacked the Methodists and Presby's before. Everyone is calling everyone else a false prophet because of doctrinal issues. I swear if I hear that one more time....Just who is safe here?

It seems to me that these same people who are accusing other groups of being a cult are just as narrow minded and bigoted as the groups they are attacking. I'm talking about when they attack the doctrine, not the behavior. And yes, if they preach bad doctrine, or twisted doctrine, that can manipulate people,that certainly is a factor. But that's not what I mean here.

BTW, I 'm just waiting for the day that these people start preaching that in order to be saved you must believe in the trinity. So far, I haven't seen that openly when they teach on salvation. They go by what scripture says. (Im talking about TV preachers and such) But I HAVE been told that I'm not saved because of it.

I'd like to hear others thoughts on this as well.

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...It's hard to be humble when you own a Rottweiler...

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Rottie...

I'm curious about your source of "authorities" who say that one of the factors of a cult is that they don't believe Jesus is God...

I just read an interview with an expert who said he doesn't judge a cult to be a cult based on any of it's doctrine, only on how the structure works and how it treats it's people. He said cults come in all sorts of religions with all sorts of teachings.

I'm just curious... maybe he's the exception.

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Hot damn! Great post Rottiegrrl. icon_smile.gif:)-->

This continues to show that the 'cult' term and concept isn't as 'objective' nor a 'science' as many people think. Many folks think that the term 'cult' has been either scientifically figured out, or a term introduced by Jesus Christ Himself.

Its more of a sociological term, often bandied about or used to try to describe a group that either 1) controls people through religious means, 2) preaches false doctrine and worship, 3) isn't mainstream enough to suit many people, so they become afraid of it, or other reasonable sounding or not-so-reasonable sounding reasons.

And yet you hear folks using that term as though it is THE definitive term, and like you have seen, many don't go any farther in thinking what or why or how a certain group is called a 'cult'.

Now groups like TWI & $cientology do bring that term upon themselves, and often justly so, from one angle or another. Others don't go around trying to control people like that, but do have their 'gurus' or 'spiritual masters', and thus also get nailed with that term.

There are churches that do preach that in order for you to be saved, you must believe in the trinity. One popular radio preacher here in Atlanta went so far as to say that unless you believed in the trinity, you were an atheist.

It runs the whole gamut from the reasonable to the totally insane.

icon_rolleyes.gif:rolleyes:-->

Prophet Emeritus of THE,

and Wandering CyberUU Hippie,

Garth P.

www.gapstudioweb.com

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Highway. Not ONE source. Just about EVERY source that considers themselves a Christian "authority" on cults. I'm not talking about a secular viewpoint on cults here. But from a so called "Christian" perspective. I"m sorry I didn't make myself clearer.

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...It's hard to be humble when you own a Rottweiler...

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PS Garth, thanks for your reply, totally agreed with you!

BTW Highway, CAN the cult awareness network, (who got sued to bankruptcy by the scientologists) claimed that they went by the behavior, and not the doctrine too. That was an out and out lie. I've seen there stuff on the Way. The doctrine was attacked as much as anything else

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...It's hard to be humble when you own a Rottweiler...

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TheHighWay,

It depends on what 'expert' you're talking about. (And yes, I put that term in quotes)

The 'anti-cult' movement is largely divided into two camps: the religious doctrinal 'anti-cult' movement, and the secular psychological 'anti-cult' movement. And they pretty much have a certain mistrust for the other.

The psychological side usually don't focus on the doctrinal content for determining a 'cult', altho' I have heard them use it as a one of their points from time to time.

The religious side usually focuses on adherance to the Official ("Biblical" they call it) church doctrine for determining 'cultness'.

And even there, they don't totally agree within themselves what being a 'cult' involves.

Prophet Emeritus of THE,

and Wandering CyberUU Hippie,

Garth P.

www.gapstudioweb.com

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The independent "anti=cult" groups, including the deprogrammers in my experience, would always insist that a group was a cult not because of its beliefs, but because of its practices (i.e. the Lifton "bible" of mind control). However, in practice, churches and church groups were, and I guess still are, big in the Trinity issue.

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quote:
It seems like in the "expert on cults" circles, that according to them, The sure fire way of identifyng a cult, is If they don't beleive that Jesus is God. Of course, these same groups are quick to point out that there are non christian cults too.

Rottiegirl,

I remember VPW saying in the early seventies, that the reason why TWI was labelled a cult was because we didn't believe Jesus is God. That was when I started believing that trinitarians loved to label us a cult, because its just another way to degrade the non-trinitarians. Would they call us a cult if we believe as they do? I doubt it.

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RotteGirl said:

It seems like in the "expert on cults" circles, that according to them, The sure fire way of identifyng a cult, is If they don't beleive that Jesus is God.

>>

Well I'll suggest that there is more to it than just that. If you look at sites such as:

http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm

http://surrealist.org/betrayalofthespirit/cult.html

http://www.refocus.org/charcult.html

one notes that there are a constellation

of dynamics and behaviors which typify "closed" or "absolute" organizations such as "cults".

Of course some note that these dynamics

can be found in civic organizations or

rabid sales clubs like amyway though I don't

buy it (no pun intended). No one at an amway

meeting or the local lions club tried to cast demons out of me or rebuked me in the name of JC.

Nor was I told that if I did't seel Amway that

my life would nosedive and I would be "a greasepot".

I don't think that the word "cult" is as difficult to define as it once was. Sociologists, clergymen, and medical health professionals have all been working for a better understanding of this phenomenon.

I've talked to people who claim you cannot define

the word "cult" but everyone seems to know of one

perhaps not by personal experience necessarily.

No offense intended to anyone but I notice that

the more vocal critics of the cult concept are those with cult experience. I've got a couple of friends from my Way daze who will deny till death that TWI was a cult. C'est la vie mon ami.

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Every evil or dark extremity in TWI either existed at one point in time, or exists now, in the Roman Catholic church, perhaps even tenfold. Why then do they label TWI a cult and not the RC church? Was the RC church ever called a cult? No. I think simply it's because we never believed in the trinity. Hey, they label Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Moonies, Scientologists, etc.. (who else?) a cult too. All non-trinitarians. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying matters but it makes the most sense to me anyway.

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Diazbro,

"Of course some note that these dynamics

can be found in civic organizations or

rabid sales clubs like amyway though I don't

buy it (no pun intended). No one at an amway

meeting or the local lions club tried to cast demons out of me or rebuked me in the name of JC.

Nor was I told that if I did't seel Amway that

my life would nosedive and I would be "a greasepot"."

So would those groups that do 'cast out demons or rebuke you in the name of JC' then fit with your definition of a 'cult'. Would a church or group that say that you are going to be a 'greasespot' or that your life would nosedive also fit with that definition?

That's getting into the doctrinal side of defining 'cultness', wouldn't it? From the same 'experts' that say that doctrine makes no difference in determining such?

What about a church leader that says that if you don't believe that Jesus is God, then you are an atheist? What about all the churches that say that if you do not accept Jesus Christ as your savior, you will burn in hell? Or how about many of the 'anti-cult experts' that often, out of hand, deride their critics as either 'cult apologists', 'brainwashed', or some other dismissive crack; without even hearing and considering what their critics have to say with their dissenting points.

Much like we used to do in TWI to critics of VPW. And for that we were called 'brainwashed'. Why doens't the same standard apply here?

Those 'dynamics' have indeed been practiced in groups that we don't normally think of as 'cults'. And that is one of the flaws in common 'cult' definitions. Ie., the definitions are often used and/or applied selectively. And dishonestly. Its much like terms like 'Liberal' or 'Staunch Conservative'. Usages like that have a lot less to do with objective definitions than emotionally based, and socially manipulative applications of the term.

Thus the skeptical distrust on my (and evidently Rottiegrrl's) part in our view of the term 'cult'. And we aren't gonna relent either.

Many 'anti-cult' people have indeed been trying to 'work together' to figure out and fight what they see as abuse on the part of the groups they criticize. But there is also sufficient participation of those who use the 'cult' issue to dismiss, and at times intimidate those who walk away from/defy that which is mainstream, orthodox thought.

And that has, and is still happening, regardless of your defense of the term 'cult' and whatever 'professional' objectivity theymight claim for themselves. So yes, that term is being used in a not-so-objective manner by people, and more often than you might realize.

And I don't have to be a 'Wierwille apologist' to know that.

Prophet Emeritus of THE,

and Wandering CyberUU Hippie,

Garth P.

www.gapstudioweb.com

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Lifted up. Thank you. I Think you summed that up very well. Though the trinity is a HUGE part in play, I also realize it's not always the only thing. I seem to remember a case where a Pentacostal man sued CAN (I think he had the Scientologists backing him with the lawsuit) for being kidnapped by a deprogrammer. Somehow CAN was involved, and it was another HUGE settlement they had to pay, which put another nail in the coffin for the organization.

oldies: Yes, I absolutely believe that the trinity was a huge reason the Way was picked on, which overshadowed much of the crap that actually went on. It was especially frustrating for me, when I was trying to break the chains of my mind and looking for help, only to find pages and pages of "Christians" with websites and help pages available, only to find that not believing in the trinity was somehow more dangerous (or at least as alarming) to them than the actual psychological damage that was inflicted.

As far as the Catholics go these Protestants who decide just who is and isn't a cult have to be careful. The Catholics have been around a long time. But you can bet people pick on them. On one hand, they do fit the "cult" definition as defined by "Christianndom" as they believe the sacrements of the church save you, and not grace? Am I right about that? I was raised Catholic but didn't pay attention in CCD. hee hee.

Just go to google and put in "signs of a cult" and I think that the first response you get is some guy trying to save all the Catholics from damnaton or something. In 1999, the Southern Baptists were going to send out some huge army of people to Chicago to try to witness to all the Catholics. They really were going to go ahead with this thing. It was all over the news. Then for some reason, (sanity perhaps?) they decided against it. Geez, I can't even imagine the trouble that could have been over here.

diaz: Thank you for the links, Very interesting reading. I hearted them (er, that's aol for put them in my fave places) and will look them over more.

Garth: What can I say, you said it all. I can't even add more. I am completely complete in agreement with you on this particular subject and appreciate you putting things into words that would be on my mind, but I wouldn't know how to word it!

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...It's hard to be humble when you own a Rottweiler...

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Hi y'all. I thought I'd weigh in on this since I attended the American Family Foundation's conference on Cult Awareness this past summer.

Amongst the professionals there, they prefer to use the terminology, "High Demand Abusive Groups" which I think is much more accurate than the word "cult." Many groups of "cultic" nature are not religiously motivated in the least...yet they are still abusive and highly demanding.

There are many political "cults" out there that have nothing at all to do with religion. They do, however, have a charasmatic leader who is controlling, abusive at times (remember the cycle of abuse is not always bad...there are the 'fairytale' times and the 'tension building' times). In fact, I have noticed that the nationally recognized sorority my daughter has joined is 'cultic' in nature...secret rules, secret sayings, meetings for this and that. Recruitment practices. The problem comes when a group becomes abusive and demanding of all of one's heart and soul.

The word "cult" is still used because it is more universally recognized. The phrase "High Demand Abusive Group" is definitely more accurate because it doesn't differentiate religious doctrines as much as it defines a group's harmful practices.

Hope that helps. Perhaps we should all try to eliminate the 'cult' word from our terminology but it's just so darned hard!

hugs,

Robi

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Garth said:

So would those groups that do 'cast out demons or rebuke you in the name of JC' then fit with

your definition of a 'cult'.... That's getting into the doctrinal side of defining 'cultness', wouldn't it? From the same 'experts'

that say that doctrine makes no difference in determining such?

>>

*laff* Well you asked a question and supplied

your own answer to it.. but I'll give it a

shot anyway.

One would have to experience and witness systematic and pathological behavior of the type described ("you'll be a greasespot if you don't do what I say") before its reasonable to consider that the organization might be a cult.

TWI leadership regularly employed such terminology to insure compliance. The distinguishing behavior is the qualifier here not the choice of words "you'll be a greasepot".

My original response in this thread was to point out that I don't think that the layman views the issue of JC is God as being the sole determinant for cult status. If they did then these web pages would be saying:

How to Tell if your church is a cult !

1) They claim JC is not god.

2) They reject the trinity

But those pages are far more concerned

with patterned behavior than any single point

of theology. In fact I did a web search on "cult characteristics" and out of the top 10 pages I pulled up *none* mentioned points of theology at all or even specific churches. Try it out.

Furthermore its interesting that the behaviors described on these various websites are amazingly similar and so well model organizations like TWI that one wonders how these disparate sources of information could so easily converge on these charactersitics unless the phenomenon actually existed.

Now. I've seen some christian bookstores offer

publications by so called authors who

debate various points of theology offerred by , for example, the unification church

or the jehovah's witnessess. And its these

authors who I find using the biblical approach -

"well this organization holds that the trinity

was a man made construct conceived to preserve

the tradtitions of polytheism. Of course the

dedicated christian knows in the fiber of his being that the Trinity is the cornserstone of

our foundation in christ and without it

our victory over satan and sin would not be complete... Therefore it is logical , not to

mention spirtually sound, to conclude that this organization can not be led by god and is therefore a cult".

I've *seen* critiques like this and they are

completely absurd. Maybe thats what R-Girl

was getting at. But I just don't see this type

of approach reflected at large in society.

There are social workers who are aware of

the cult concept and have seen the impact it has made on the family. This isn't an artificial

construct.

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I totally understand what diaz is saying about the pattern in abusive organizations. There IS a similar pattern. What I am talking about is the "Christian" definition that I find so bizzare and hypocritical.

This is an excerpt from www.ex-cult.org. From the link, "identifying a cult"

************************************************

CHRISTIAN DEFINITION

CULT - Any group which deviates from Biblical, orthodox,

historical Christianity. e.i. They deny the Deity of Christ;

His physical resurrection; His personal and physical return to

earth and salvation by FAITH alone.

This definition only covers those groups which are cults

within the Christian religion. It does not cover cults within

other world religions such as Islam and Hinduism. Nor does it

cover Psychological, Commercial or Educational cults which do

not recognize the Bible as a source of reality.

************************************************

This kind of stuff is all over the web.

What I'm saying is there IS a difference between the "Christian" definition of a cult, and the secular definition.

And I STILL think it's hypocritical. By there very own definition than the Roman Catholics would most certainly be the biggest Christian cult in the world. Since they (as far as I know) do not believe in salvation from grace alone.

And why is that the definition for a "cult" within the Christian realm, but not others? Even from a Christian standpoint? If other religions deny the deity of Christ (Jews,Hindu's Muslims etc.) than why is it they are not cults because they are not within the "Christian religion?" I think it's total doubletalk.

Okay, so let me get this straight. By those terms, if I believe in God, but don't believe in Jesus, I'm not in a cult. But if I believe in God, and I believe in Jesus, but I don't believe that Jesus is God, than I AM in a cult. OH! That makes sense!

icon_rolleyes.gif:rolleyes:-->

I don't know..maybe I'm not getting something here, but it doesn't sit right with me a'tall

PS. I should add here, that when they mean, denying the deity, they mean denying Jesus is God. They don't mean deity in the sense of the word that means "good" or "revered".

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...It's hard to be humble when you own a Rottweiler...

[This message was edited by RottieGrrrl on February 13, 2003 at 14:42.]

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From what has been posted here, it's evident that there are a number of opinions as to what the standards for cult status should be: doctrinal, behavioral, psychological. I suppose when you define "a cult" broadly as "something that has religous overtones, but is somehow bad" you're going to get a multitude of definitions.

After all, to certain churches, deviation from orthodox doctrine is as dangerous as controlling leadership and psychological manipulation. To some, doctrine is irelevant to the issue. Depends on the priorities of whoever is making up the definition.

What bothers me is people who pin the "cult" label on twi or anyone else for that matter, without a clear understanding of what really goes on inside. In my experience, people who thought that I was in a cult had the following rationale:

  • Wierwille taught a lot of things that are different than what "the church" teaches
  • Wierwille lives "high on the hog" off your money
  • You are changing due to Wierwille's influence
  • The Way is called a cult (Circular reasoning on this one)

In my mind these aruments held little water:

  • There is enough disagreement on doctrine out there, that doctrinal arguments did not confer cult status to me
  • Plenty of heads of denomination live well off their supporters money
  • Many of us changed for the worse under twi's influence; some of the change was facilitated by negative reinforcement by family, friends and church; some was the result of youthful ego-flexing; some probably was due to twi
  • If some periodical or some minister said you were a cult, that was all that some people needed to make up their minds, no examination of the issues, no looking at the evidence

Most people had no idea what went on inside the Way, and were basing their judgement on flimsy evidence, in my opinion. It's like the people who tried to get you to stop smoking pot by showing Reefer Madness, it was so crazy that you just discounted the whole argument; claims that we were in an evil cult didn't match up with our experience, so we laughed them off.

Oakspear icon_cool.gif

"We...know how cruel the truth often is, and we wonder whether delusion is not more consoling"

Henri Poincare

[This message was edited by Oakspear on February 13, 2003 at 15:17.]

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Oakspear, I see your point as well. Very well thought out. And your right. some people accusing others of being in cults were basing it on flimsy evidence, and being hypocritial as well. Absolutely on the money with that one. It's been so long I forgot I lived through some of this stuff as well.

PS just for the record diaz: I DO believe Amway uses mind control techniques, as other secular businesses do. I've had experiences with some of these sales programs in my younger years, and there is a similarity. But, that's just my opinion.

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...It's hard to be humble when you own a Rottweiler...

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Cult Is a Scare Word:

Rottiegrrl:

Good point. I have a friend (who was once in the Way and now follows Kenneth Copeland, Benny Henn and satellite ministries) who calls me ?cult-oppressed? because I still don?t subscribe to the Trinity (i.e., that Jesus is God, etc.). He says that NOT believing in the Trinity is considered by these guys as one of the major hall-marks of a cult.

What balderdash. Eh?

Meanwhile, the word ?cult? and other similar emotionally-charged words are really informal fallacies of debate in the form of name-calling. Whenever one cannot think of a real argument, they usually default to using insults to slander and defame the opponent.

Historically, the term ?cult? is used by a group that is in a politically stronger position against a weaker group whom they perceive as a threat to their power base.

Hence, ?cult? may be characterized as a term used by cowards who are on the defensive.

Bluetent

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Here is what the Watchman people say (not that I support them at all, just a FYI thing)

Some Definitions

By using the terms ?cult,? ?occult,? and ?New Age,? Watchman Fellowship is in no way implying that the followers or leaders are necessarily evil or immoral people. It simply means that such groups seem to promote doctrine or practices which may be considered outside the realm of historic Christianity.

Cult

By its primary dictionary definition, the term cult just means a system of religious beliefs or rituals. It is based on a farming term in Latin meaning cultivation. Sociologists and anthropologists sometimes use the term cult to describe religious structure or belief patterns with meanings (usually non-pejorative) unique to their disciplines. In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous.

Thus, cult can describe religious leaders or organizations that employ abusive, manipulative, or illegal control over their followers? lives. In addition to these usages, Christians generally have a doctrinal component to their use of the word. Cult in this sense, is a counterfeit or serious deviation from the doctrines of classical Christianity.

Watchman Fellowship usually uses the term cult with a Christian or doctrinal definition in mind. In most cases the group claims to be Christian, but because of their aberrant beliefs on central doctrines of the faith (God, Jesus, and salvation), the organization is not considered by Watchman Fellowship to be part of orthodox, biblical Christianity. Research material and Profile are available.

Occult

The term, ?occult? comes from the Latin occultus or ?hidden.? Generally the word is used of secret or mysterious supernatural powers or magical, religious rituals. The word ?occult? in this publication is used to describe any attempt to gain supernatural power or knowledge apart from the God of the Bible. Generally it refers to witchcraft, satanism, neo-paganism, or various forms of Psychic discernment (astrology, seances, palm reading, etc.). Research material available.

New Age

New Age is a recent and developing belief system in North America encompassing thousands of autonomous (and sometime contradictory) beliefs, organizations, and events. Generally the New Age borrows its theology from pantheistic Eastern religions and its practices from 19th century Western occultism. The term ?New Age? is used herein as an umbrella term to describe organizations which seem to exhibit one or more of the following beliefs: (1) All is one, all reality is part of the whole; (2) Everything is God and God is everything; (3) Man is God or a part of God; (4) Man never dies, but continues to live through reincarnation; (5) Man can create his own reality and/or values through transformed consciousness or altered states of consciousness. Research material and Profile are available

So, even without the abuse and strange sex doctrines, if TWI's only claim to fame was Jesus is NOT God -- we would still be on this list. (unfair)

But because TWI DOES have weird sexual practices, abuses power, lies and is a control freak, we BELONG on the list in my opinion.

Dot Matrix

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The word "cult" isn't as useful as it used to

be, since it's used so broadly.

Yes-one type defines cults by their techniques-

are they authoritative and insular? etc.

Another type defines cults by their doctrines-

do they teach what we teach? etc.

-------------------

Those of you who've read thru "Angels of Light"

(on the "recommended reading" list for the

Advanced class, and not even nearly as good as

"the Challenging Counterfeit") may recall that

among the various things it listed as having

evil origins was a denying of the trinity.

I've seen lists like that, too.

------------

Yes, often, "cult" is the brush that larger

groups use to tar and feather smaller groups.

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quote:
In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous.


Behind so much of everything is the desire to have control and that control so often boils down to who gets the money. Thus the good old standard denominations when they saw the youth that rebelled in the 60's in such masses were not returning to the churches of their parents and going with alternative choices had to do something, so the started screaming cult!

There were abuses, but really were there that many more in what the *standard* branded cults than with in their own walls? I really don?t think so. But larger groups had and have the ability to do good PR work and intimidate and keep abuses swept under the carpet. But from out of these abuses was born and grew anti-cult cults and for the right amount of money a loved one could be forced to change by experts.

Out of these barbaric and illegal methods while these self appointed experts operated mind bending control and yes the technics they describe as brainwashing they reprogrammed youth by deprogramming. Because the money was so dang good they had to adjust and give themselves legitimacy so they would not have to give all their new found wealth to that horrible cult known as lawyers.

What bothers me the most is what they seem to be is the police of the major denominations that want you either worshiping in their endless feel good ceremonies, which is the only power they really can claim is that of emotional drivel, or the other choice is no worship at all. If a person decides to get out of line and leaves orthodoxy, for the right amount of money by gawd they can get them back!

Now sit in our pew and behave, we have experts to get you back on track! And yes the T doctrine is a very important doctrine that determines who is allowed to play in the sand box of over controlled Christians that are allowed no power, or very little.................

Grizzy COLOR>SIZE>

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