I would rather post something light and encouraging to kick off 2016 but given the alarming rise in apostate religion, made virulent and so easily accessed by the World Wide Web, I believe a serious note is in order and the time has finally come that I should share this. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
On New Years Day 2009, I quit working for a web-based “Bible-based ministry'. The day of my resignation did not come suddenly but was actually two plus years in the making.
In 1999, I dived in to help what seemed to me to be a man who was all that he claimed to be, humble, simple, truth-seeking. Then, over time and by the fifth year of my involvement, cracks began to form in his teachings. Contradictions, reversals, and unbiblical interpretations emerged to reveal that the ‘anointed one’ was really just a very human control freak with his own personal weaknesses and strongholds.
What appeared in the beginning as fresh revelation became nothing more than cleverly crafted un-doctrine that sounded good but in practice was nothing more than legalism redefined–rules and laws for striving to perfection, devised and prescribed by one imperfect, flawed person who knew how to employ ‘signs, wonders, dreams and visions’ as mysterious, revelatory ‘secret other knowledge’ that is so attractive to so many nowadays. Unfortunately it is a subtle snare that promises great supernatural empowerment to followers even as it gently enslaves them to the persuasive power and mindset of the leader.
The undeniable tell is the fine-tuned skill that enables him to turn scripture and natural spiritualism into a weapon of psychological control with perfectly executed sincerity, self-denial and servility.
What amazes me, in the clarity of hindsight, is that I stayed so long after I could see something was definitely wrong. I can make excuses all day, I can claim I had formed friendships that I hated to upset or abandon. I can whine that I was brain-washed or rationalize that I needed the experience to make me a strong voice of opposition in the aftermath, to be able to sound the alarm when necessary.
While some of that might be true in part, I think it mostly came down to me being just too invested to let go. Even though it was a volunteer position, it was like a real job and I had put so much into it I hated to just give it up and walk away and admit I was a fool or that I had been so wrong. So, my feet dragging was likely just a human ego thing. That I eventually was able to break the ties that bound me can only be attributed to God’s intervention. For that I am truly grateful because I know some continue to stay for nothing more than fear to leave.
Fortunately, I was too naive to be subject to the fear thus I was never a full-fledged devotee. Perhaps because I lived in a different state and was not a part of the day to day operation, although I knew many of the inner workings that could be described as dirty secrets that all such organizations hide (think $$$) but my function was more mechanical than ministerial.
There was one individual close to the cult-leader (and that is what he was and still is) who later came out who eventually contacted me and told me how shocked he was to discover that I had been such an integral part of the ministry because the leader never mentioned me as anyone other than “the lady who prints my books”.
That he kept my existence minimized did not shock me. I knew he did not like that I often challenged him with questions, especially toward the end. Crazy me, I didn’t know that you can’t do that to a cult leader who requires unwavering devotion to his words and deeds. It’s easy to conclude he only kept me on board because I was useful to him in spite of being a thorn in his side. Turned out, according to him, I had a “Jezebel Spirit” that made me so contrary.
But again, hindsight is so 20/20. You see the big picture much more clearly when all the unrecognized or denied pieces are revealed and fitted together.
Sadly there are still many who are being drawn into this man’s religious delusion (and it is his delusion because he truly believes what he teaches) even as others have escaped. Which begs the question, why do some see and others do not? Is there a personality type that is attracted to fear-based religion? Can it be said there are those who desire to be controlled? And can this not also be said of the polar opposite kind of ‘just do what feels good’ religion that attracts even more devoted followers, that there is some fundamental weak spot in human makeup that makes us vulnerable so we can easily be drawn in to that which seems so right to us?
When I left I expected to be vilified in his website, as he had done to so many others (how is that Christ-like?) because he does not take kindly to people opposing him and/or leaving his lair (a classic cult descriptor). But for some reason, likely God’s intervention again, he chose not to, I have often wondered if he had of called me names and posted our private emails would that have opened some eyes to see this man for what he really is? A charlatan, a tyrant who demands undivided loyalty, respect and fear of him who adroitly uses Scripture like a whip to keep his herd in line–who some have actually come to believe is an equal to Jesus as he ever so humbly accepts the honor because, as he claims, God has already told him he was but he still needs the prayers of the brethren so he can fully rise to the position.
That’s not even a hidden snare.
The point of sharing this is to warn that there are all kinds of tricksters in the great wide world. Some are quite secular and operate successfully in all manner of positions of authority especially politics, but way too many hide under the sheep wool of religion and righteous sounding religious vernacular and behind the mask of false humility.
A good rule of thumb is: if it sounds good, it might be good but watch what it does first before you dive in, believe, follow, support or be involved with. Satan is prowling in overdrive now and he has all manner of ways to pull you away from the Truth and thus render you spiritually disabled. If one way is too obvious, he will try it another way. Never doubt that Satan can use signs and wonders too.
Going the extra mile to be discerning, to pay attention to even the smallest red flags, to measure the questionable things before dismissing them, might save some time, trouble and unnecessary grief, not to mention your life savings. For all its negatives the Web is an easy way to do a small amount of research. All one has to do is type in a name.
As is true of all who find they are trapped in a cult, waking up and admitting you’ve been had is the first step to escaping. But fear of leaving is a sure sign you surely need to escape.
Which means the most difficult extraction from any cult, especially apostate religion, is of those who have been duped but then, even when the truth is clear, consciously continue to choose to trust and fear the wrong one anyway.
One can’t help but wonder why.
Free pdf download - Signs and Wonders and Snares–Oh My! Finding the Road Back Home from Christian Mysticism