Copyright 1994 - 2019 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
October 16, 2011
Last Updated :
October 16, 2011
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Disavowing Cult Leader's Teachings And Rewriting The Cult's History Are Protection Mechanisms And Self-Preservation Tools Frequently Used By The Cults, Deceiving And Being Deceived, Indelible Mark Left On The Internet For Many Years To Come, Be Slow To Speak And Save Yourself From The Embarrassment Of Being Wrong, Undergoing Mental And Spiritual Renewal Process Through Studying God's Word, Difficulty Of Leaving The Cult, Freed From Effects Of Cult Indoctrination And Brainwashing, Excerpt From "Heaven's Gate, Suicide And Other Death Cults", Anyone -- Regardless Of Age -- Can Become Trapped Within A Cult, Camping's Followers After October 21st, Is Camping's Group Really A Cult?, Doctrinal Disagreements Don't Justify Using Cult Label, Size Is Not Valid Criteria For Applying Cult Label, Majority Is Not Always Right, Articles Regarding Roman Catholic Church, Home Fellowships Versus The Powerful Denominations, Majority Denominations Engage In Psychological Manipulation, Dictatorial Pastors And Priests, Importance Of Doctrinal Unity, Freedom To Choose Our Own Christian Beliefs
However, I also suspect that once Harold Camping has made his departure from this current life -- he is quite elderly -- if his organization somehow manages to hold together, the members who remain within the group may gradually begin to disavow themselves of his more controversial -- and obviously flawed -- teachings. If they don't outright take that approach, then they may simply endeavor to rewrite the organization's history and claim that they were misrepresented by the media. In other words, they may possibly adopt the position that the media intentionally misinterpreted and purposely twisted what Mr. Camping actually said and taught.
Both of these approaches are self-preservation tools and protection mechanisms which are frequently used by cults. In fact, if the truth be told, they are used just as frequently by people, governments and organizations who have absolutely nothing to do with dangerous and deceptive cults. Let's face it; intentional deception is just part of the evil world in which we live. As we saw earlier, the Apostle Paul wrote:
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:13, KJV
There is a problem with these two approaches, however. If we consider the fluid nature of the Internet, and how quickly information propagates to the furthest corners of the world; not to mention the many archival websites which now exist; as well as the practice of many Internet users to download and store interesting information on their hard drives for future reference; it is going to be extremely difficult -- in fact, I would say impossible -- for Harold Camping's organization to completely erase the online history of their prophetic errors.
The same thing can really be said of any cult, organization, government or individual. Once information is out there in the wild, blue yonder of the Internet, it is out there, and it does not matter whether the information is true or false. Once we commit something to the Internet, we have left an indelible mark which will be very difficult to erase. In the case of misguided cults and false prophets, their own false prophecies and failed predictions will serve as a testimony against them for years to come, whether they like it or not.
This is one of the primary reasons why I always strive to be very careful regarding what I teach and write online. It is also why you won't find anything in my articles where I make any attempt to provide specific dates for prophetic events. Without an outright, unmistakable confirmation from the Lord, it is utter foolishness -- and auto-destructive -- to do so. I learned this important lesson many years ago. Sadly, some Christians -- such as Harold Camping -- still haven't managed to learn it, and Camping is just one of many individuals who continue to spout off their Biblically-unsupported nonsense on the Internet. If you really want to be smart, then consider the wisdom that is contained in the following verses:
"In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise."
Proverbs 10:19, KJV
"Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."
Ecclesiastes 5:2, KJV
"A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards."
Proverbs 29:11, KJV
"For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Matthew 12:37, KJV
"Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?"
Romans 9:20, KJV
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"
James 1:19, KJV
In a word, if you really want to spare yourself from some unnecessary future embarrassment, then simply follow the wise advice that is contained in the previous verses, and keep your mouth shut, unless you are absolutely certain that a prophecy or prediction is of the Lord, and not just from your own mind, ego, vanity or even from Satan the Deceiver and the Father of Lies himself.
For those people who do choose to abandon Harold Camping's fold, I feel very sorry for them; because while I do believe that they are making the right choice to do so, I also know from personal experience that such people may continue to be affected by Harold Camping's erroneous teachings for years to come; and they may be plagued with doubts and confusion which may prove to be very difficult to overcome. They will in fact be forced to forsake certain mistaken ideas and beliefs, and will also have to rebuild their faith in and understanding of God's Word from the foundation, through a careful examination -- or re-examination -- of the Scriptures.
As I have explained in previous articles, as we allow the Light and Truth of God's Word to penetrate the depths of our hearts and minds, the darkness of delusion, false teachings, etc., begins to melt and burn away. As the Apostle Paul so eloquently writes in his Epistle to the Roman brethren:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Romans 12:1-2, KJV
Undergoing this mental and spiritual renewal process will not be an easy task for some former cult members, because cult indoctrination and brainwashing is a rather powerful thing to have to overcome. It takes a very strong hold of one's mind, and it does not easily let go. In my case, it required a full ten years to really rid myself of my doubts, confusion and most of my mistaken beliefs. Of course, I was with a cult for fifteen years, so it really depends on how long a person has been exposed to and involved with a cult. Allow me to share with you a lengthy excerpt from my updated 1997 three-part series entitled "Heaven's Gate, Suicide And Other Death Cults". Hopefully, it will assist you in better understanding why it can be so difficult for a former cult member to fully break away from the influence of a cult:
----- Begin Quote -----
It is an established fact that in order for an individual to become a happy, successful and productive member of any type of regimented society, group or organization, such as the aforementioned cults, he must first be willing, or perhaps be induced, to surrender his free will for the supposed good of the whole. In other words, he must be transformed into an obedient member of the collective whole. One of the initial stages in this subtle process is to convince the new recruit that his former value system and/or frame of reference is wrong. To accomplish this, the new recruit is first made to doubt the validity of his old way of thinking by showing him its inherent flaws and weaknesses. To prove this point, the recruiter may point to the current dismal state of society, and attribute it to following the old way of thinking. Much of what the recruiter says will indeed be true, and the new member will find himself readily agreeing with much of the recruiter's words. At this point of the process, a bridge of trust has begun to form.
At the same time, the new member is made to question his own self worth. He will be constantly reminded of his own human imperfections in order to further weaken his resistance. The recruiter will paint himself as a friend whose only interest is to save the new member from the error of his old ways of thinking and doing things, and thus invoke appreciation from the new member. In short, a power struggle is underway in which the recruiter is slowly seeking to dominate the will of the new member.
While all of this is occurring, the new recruit is likewise being slowly bombarded with the new doctrine, so that the old frame of reference is forgotten, and replaced by the new. It is similar to a form of mental rewiring, or brainwashing, if you prefer. Any manifestation of doubt, or resistance, by the new recruit is looked upon as potential disobedience and even disloyalty and is immediately brought to the attention of the new recruit, usually in a subtle, intimidating manner. Being as he wants to please his new spiritual masters, and show his worthiness, the new member will amend his ways, thus further diminishing his ability to think on his own. Of course, so that the new member doesn't become overly discouraged by the constant reprimands during the initial stages of this subtle process, he is also constantly reminded that he is chosen and special, and a part of a small elite group called either by God, his country, or the superiors of his organization. In short, the recruit's desire to belong to something, and to be accepted, is fulfilled, and he acquires a true sense of loyalty.
Eventually, after days, weeks or months, depending upon the character of the individual, the process is complete, and the member loses all free will, and becomes totally dependent on the recruiter for both his spiritual and material needs. He has acknowledged his own lowly state, and is thankful to even be a part of the movement, society or organization. He's also aware that his continued participation in the organization is conditional upon his willingness to remain submissive. At the same time, a double-psychology is brought into play whereby the new member is made to feel that in spite of the physical privations or psychological hardships he may have to endure, (even though the leaders may actually live quite well off in some cases), to leave the group would be equivalent to total failure on his or her part.
In the case of religious cults and organizations, quite often the new member is made to feel that to fail the organization, or the group leader, is equivalent to failing God; and living with the conscience of having failed God, or at least with the belief of having failed God, is difficult for anyone to bear. Religious organizations and churches refer to this "betrayal" of the faith as backsliding. A person who has been a victim of heavy indoctrination by a religious cult, and then chooses to leave, or manages to escape, can sometimes take many years to overcome the influence of the group; and sometimes they never do. As I noted earlier, while most people have the impression that thirty-nine members of the Heaven's Gate UFO cult died as a result of their death pact, the truth is that forty-one members actually died. Two of them chose to take their lives later; apparently believing that they had failed their leader and missed the boat on March 26, 1997; which is the day that the thirty-nine bodies were discovered in Rancho Santa Fe.
So as I was saying, the new member becomes just another part of the collective whole, and would never doubt that his older brothers, elders, superiors or whatever they call themselves, have his best interests at heart. From this moment forward, and once the indoctrination and brainwashing process has been completed, the new recruit's entire objective will be to do as he is told, and to simply be an obedient submissive member who will do his best to please his new masters, and carry on the work of the organization. After all, he doesn't want to acquire the reputation of being a troublemaker, and face the danger of excommunication. If he proves himself, with time, he may even find himself moving up in the ranks and becoming responsible for other members below him. He may acquire the status of being an "older brother", or possibly a leader.
Given enough time, the desire to please and impress the cult leader can become excessive and reach a dangerous level. Cult fanaticism reveals itself in different ways. It may involve performing special deeds, such as having sex with the cult's leader, or engaging in heroic acts, such as being willing to die for the belief system of the group, or perhaps even to die in the line of duty in order to protect the cult leader himself. This has become known as the "martyr syndrome"; that is, being willing to die for a cause, or for a person, as a means to demonstrate one's worthiness, or even to convince oneself that one is truly worthy. In some cases, as we have seen, it stems from self-doubt and an inferiority complex which has been slowly instilled in the new recruit over the years by those who are seeking to dominate him."
----- End Quote -----
Having now read the previous paragraphs, perhaps you will be able to view cult members, and former cult members, from a more realistic and compassionate perspective. Similar to my own experiences of many years ago, as a result of a naive decision which may not have been properly and fully weighed and investigated, and which was perhaps made when they were rather young, many people have become trapped within cults of one kind or another, sometimes for many years; in fact, even for decades. As a result of their limited knowledge of the Bible, even older people can become mesmerized by and trapped within quasi-Christian and other kinds of cults. If you doubt that this is so, then consider the tragic story of Jim Jones and the People's Temple cult, which I discuss in the aforementioned series.
To reiterate, my main point is this: Anyone, regardless of their particular age, can become mesmerized by, deceived by, and trapped within a cult, if they are not careful. Young people are not the only victims of the cults. Some extremely bright minds have become members of cults. Conduct your own research if you doubt my words.
At this current time, we are now only five days away from October 21, 2011. As I have already stated, Harold Camping and his organization are convinced that wonderful things of Celestial Importance are going to occur on that day; namely, the Return of Jesus Christ. If we assume that they are wrong -- and I most certainly do -- it is only reasonable to also assume that on the following day, Camping's followers will be even more discouraged than they already are. I suspect that by that time, even more of his followers will be willing to leave his organization and disassociate themselves from it. At that time, they will require all of the spiritual support that they can get. If you feel so led, please pray for them.
At this point in our discussion, allow me to share with you a few personal observations I have made over the years, as well as offer a few thought-provoking questions for your personal reflection. While I have freely used the words "cult", "cults" and "cultist" in this commentary, let me draw your attention to the fact that at no point have I outright accused Harold Camping of actually being a cult leader, or his organization -- Family Radio Network -- of being a cult.
It is indeed true that I have amply described for you some of the subtle tactics which are often employed by cult leaders as a means of subjugating and controlling their members. Even so, having never been a member of Harold Camping's group, I honestly don't know anything about their internal workings, and I really don't care to find out. Therefore, I have no legitimate grounds for accusing Mr. Camping of being a cult leader. Maybe someone else will step forward and make such an accusation, but it won't be me.
But there is more. Stop and consider this: If we begin to accuse other churches, denominations, organizations or people with whom we do not agree in a doctrinal sense of being cults and cultists, where does it end? As I have stated before, if we put two dozen pastors or theologians together in the same room and ask them to interpret the meaning of the same verse, it is possible that we will end up with as many as two dozen different interpretations of that same verse. It should be clear then that doctrinal disagreements aren't necessarily sufficient grounds for launching the cult accusation at each other.
In my view, neither should size be used as a valid criteria in determining whether or not a group should be labeled as a cult. In a stereotypical sense, cults are usually defined as small, secretive groups which embrace strange and potentially dangerous beliefs, and which are usually led by a charismatic leader who exerts overpowering control over the group. Out of curiosity, I decided to refer to the dictionary application that is included with my operating system, in order to find out how it defines the word "cult". One definition states "a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister."
I must admit that my jaw dropped upon reading the previous definition, because it is so liberal, and so subjective. We must ask ourselves: Who is this "others" that the dictionary mentions? Furthermore, what makes their personal opinion of what is to be regarded as "strange or sinister" valid? The truth is that what may be considered strange to one person, may not be viewed as strange by another person whatsoever; and this doesn't just apply to religion either. As they say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". What may be viewed as fashionable and beautiful to certain tribes of Africa may be viewed as strange and ghastly to people in America.
It's also important to realize that, contrary to the commonly accepted definition, not all cults are small; and it is in fact due to this very reason that some cults may not even be recognized as cults by a lot of people. It may surprise you to learn how many modern churches and denominations started out as small groups of people who embraced beliefs which, in their day, were viewed as a bit strange and unusual by the majority. Is it possible that numbers have somehow magically transformed some former cults into respectable denominations today?
Of equal importance is this question: Exactly who benefits from the previous definition, if not the larger established churches and denominations? If there is one thing that the Scriptures teach us, it is that contrary to popular opinion, the majority is not always right. Jesus and the Twelve were right, while the Scribes and the Pharisees were wrong. The lone Prophet Micaiah was right, while the false prophets of the king of Israel were wrong. Elijah was right, while the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal were wrong. Noah and his family were right, while the rest of the world was dead wrong, and they soon ended up dead as well. And on and on it goes. It becomes clear then that just because the majority holds to a particular opinion does not necessarily mean that it is right. One man standing alone with God is the majority.
This very same principle concerning majority opinion applies to modern Christianity as well. For example, the largest and most powerful church in the world today is not always right either. In fact, there are plenty of things wrong with it. If you have examined a sufficient number of my articles, then you will know that I strongly disagree with a number of the Biblically-unfounded doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. If you wish to further explore this topic, then I encourage you to read the following articles and series:
 Cardinal Ratzinger's Rebellion
 Have You Read The New Scriptures Yet?
 History Of The Authorized KJV Bible
 Lies And Deceptions Of The Roman Catholic Church
 Lying Wonders Of The Endtime
 Mary Worship, Christianity And Roman Catholicism
 Our Pagan World: The Easter Myth Exposed
 Roman Catholicism, Water Baptism And The Trinity
 To Pray Or Not To Pray? That Is The Question
Taking the previous thoughts a step further, let's consider another related topic which I also recently discussed on the Bill's Bible Basics Blog. Let me ask you another question.
Why is it, that if a small group of dedicated Christians get together in the privacy of a fellow Christian's home in order to engage in Christian fellowship, perhaps participate in a Bible study, and share a potluck dinner, they are viewed with suspicion by their neighbors, perhaps suspected of being drug traffickers or some other danger to society, or perhaps even quietly accused of being some strange cult; yet if those very same people attend a church service on Sunday where there is likewise Christian fellowship, a Bible study before mass, and perhaps an after-service potluck or snacks as well, they are viewed as respectable members of society?
Let's take off the blinders. Can you see how our perspective has been purposely manipulated and warped by the majority denominations -- which are really government-controlled due to their tax-exempt status -- so that we have been trained to view any religious activity which occurs outside of a church building as strange and potentially sinister? Why is this? Is it right? Is this the freedom of religion that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution? Furthermore, who really gains when this kind of attitude is implanted in people's minds, if not the majority denominations themselves?
Taking these points into consideration, is it possible that persecution against private Christian fellowships -- such as home churches -- is at least partly inspired by, promoted by and supported by the "respected denominations", who are fearful that they will lose their members to one of these home fellowships?
I have already mentioned some of the traits which have been used to describe cults. Now it is time for a bit of honesty.
The truth is that the way that certain church members blindly follow the teachings and doctrines of their pastors, priests, ministers, bishops, archbishops -- and yes, even the Pope in Rome -- one would almost think that said churches are cults, and their leaders, cult leaders. Some of them certainly exert a great deal of power and control over their members. In many instances, these dictatorial leaders have their congregations believing exactly as they believe themselves; and if a person does not fully concur with their belief system, out they go! You simply cannot become a member of that church unless you become one of the pastor's doctrinal clones.
This type of dictatorial pastoral attitude appears to be particularly prevalent in some of the smaller rural churches. I personally experienced this kind of harsh attitude several decades ago in some of the Southern churches in the United States. Some of those churches are like cliques and pastoral fan clubs where the priest or pastor has his inner circle of devotees, and his word -- and teachings -- is law. Doesn't that sound very similar to brainwashing and cultic activity? I am reminded of the Apostle Peter's admonition concerning such overbearing, dictatorial pastors and ministers. Peter wrote:
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."
1 Peter 5:2-3, KJV
Now, please don't misunderstand me. I wholeheartedly agree that doctrinal unity is an extremely important part, and in fact a vital component, of any Bible-based church. No church will be able to survive for very long unless they're unified in word and doctrine. However, at the same time, people must be permitted to freely make up their own minds, after God's Word has been shared with them. A forced belief system is no belief system at all, if it is not truly felt and believed from one's heart. Whether one is a Christian living in the United States, or a Muslim who lives in Iran, true faith is where one's heart is at, and not just where one's mind is at. This kind of faith cannot be coerced by governments, or by religious bodies, or through violence. It must be freely chosen. But concerning the importance of doctrinal unity, consider the following verses:
". . . Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
Psalm 133:1, KJV
"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, KJV
"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are . . . That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
John 17:11, 21-23, KJV
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."
John 10:16, KJV
"That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Romans 15:6, KJV
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
1 Corinthians 1:10, KJV
"Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
2 Corinthians 13:11, KJV
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . . That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
Ephesians 4:1-3, 14-16, KJV
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;"
Philippians 1:27, KJV
"Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."
Philippians 2:2, KJV
Please go to part three for the conclusion of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .