Take a walk through Dublin city centre some fine weekend or bank holiday afternoon. You notice young men with clipboards taking surveys, talking to passers by and soliciting donations for drug rehabilitation centres. They especially seem to target young people. As you stroll on the semi quietness changes as the sound of drums, cymbals and chanting get louder until a procession of young men with shaved heads and women dressed in orange robes pass you by. They appear oblivious to their surroundings and out of place in Ireland, seeming more suited to a scene in new Delhi than Dublin!. As you continue to wander about a young girl gives you a leaflet advertising free evening classes in 'Practical Philosophy'. On pedestrian streets like Grafton st. and Mary St. there appear to be more noisier groups of people with information tables advertising Yoga and blasting out oriental music while live demonstrations of their techniques are taking place, they also protest persecution and ask you to sign their petitions. Further along clowns are making fun objects from balloons and selling them to kids and parents. A sign in front of them says they are raising money for Romanian orphanages. Another group further along the road have signs and petitions about human cloning, they all wear the star of David pendants. Ducking down Abbey st. you are invited to do a 'free personality test' outside a doorway that has a plaque stating 'Church of Scientology' on it. Further on in your walk as if from nowhere suddenly a tall young clean shaven well dressed young man thrusts out his hand to shake yours, "Hi!, I'm Elder Berry" he says and introduces another person dressed and groomed equally immaculately as his co worker "And this is Elder Flower". "We're from the Church of. Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" and this fact is confirmed by their black and white laminated badges with their names on them (in case you forget their titles and second names!). They try to arrange a time when they can visit you at home to give you a series of lessons on how to live a wholesome home life with all your family. You get rid of them with an alias and a false address resolving not to want to meet them again!.
You've got home, made a cup of coffee or tea and just as you are about to put your feet up and watch the television the doorbell rings. The Jehovah's Witnesses are on your doorstep with similar black briefcases stuffed with books and magazines. They enter polite conversation steering the talk towards the news and how progressively worse things in the world are getting to an almost apocalyptic state with worrying statistics about increases in earthquakes, wars, the latest plague or virus sweeping wherever at an alarming rate. Then they tell you all these things are forecasted in the Bible. You get rid of them by telling them you have some unfinished business in the house that is in need of immediate attention. They leave trying to arrange to visit at a more appropriate time, and give you some of their literature to read in the meantime, colourful magazines with apocalyptic scenes contrasted by smiling groups of people of all races gathering wholesome food and eating together in from a table weighed down with fruit the picture of a new paradise.
You put down the magazines and flick the TV remote switching about until you find something which seems remotely interesting, a TV talk show. The first guest is a healthy young lady who has written a book for Christians called "Christian Yoga" and she explains how Christian yoga is a blending of eastern meditation techniques and (obviously out of context!) Bible passages. Then the star guest of the show, an older lady with bright red hair then starts addressing the audience telling them their dead relatives and friends are present with messages to pass onto them, and that only she can hear and see them so she will channel the messages to them. Then after a while the lady reveals she is also a Christian and has written a couple of very successful books and there are 'study groups' springing up everywhere reading her revelations, new theology, messages from beyond, and forming 'churches' based on her revelations. You turn the TV off, enough false religion for today thank you!.
Congratulations, you have survived the spiritual obstacle course that has taken grip of many of the world's major cities and airwaves. Every group or individual alluded to (or mentioned by name!) in the previous paragraphs, no matter how innocent or genuine they appeared (even if they quoted the Bible and called themselves Christian) are religious cults that deceive unwary individuals into giving money to their groups or joining them. There are so many cults about in Dublin alone I could have made the paragraphs above about 15 pages long giving small clues to the groups and alluding to them only once without repeating one group!.
But There's no groups like that here in Ireland...?
I'm sure you are aware, but I just thought I would dispel the belief that all cults don't live in compounds surrounded by high walls and barbed wire. They don't all wear the same clothes and have glazed looks in their eyes. A cult member could be sitting next to you in your work typing away on a computer 9-5 daily. I once worked for 3 long years as a cinema usher and the chap who stood next to me, took tickets etc, and chatted all day with me was a Moonie. He lived in a flat in Rathmines and appeared to live a normal life. Our working relationship would go well until quiet or slack times when he would keep bugging me to come to 'parties' or weekends in the country every so often. Other times he would play mind games with me calling me small minded or prejudiced because I rejected Rev.Moon being the messiah. The problem was I read the papers and saw television news reports and was 'informed'. Just once I read Rev.Moon's 'Divine Principal' (their 'Bible') with him and was able to show the absurdity of it's teachings. This was a long time before I became a Christian, at that stage in my life I was living for drink and 'good times' with no thought for the future.
Cults don't always reach people through street work, door knocking, television, radio and books. For instance there are many doorways into cults that ensnare people through evening courses held in ordinary local schools. These would be classes of "Reki, Yoga, Meditation, movement and music (eurhythmy), Tarot card reading, and fortune telling techniques, Crystal Therapy, Chelation, Divination, 'Practical Philosophy', Natural Healing Techniques, Creative Visualisation techniques....the list goes on and on. (Note: the City of Dublin Vocational Educational Committee [C.D.V.E.C] are in no way responsible for these classes, they just let the rooms out during the evenings as a method of fundraising for school materials).
Then in the workplace there are groups that use deceptively named 'Management Training' courses and 'Team building weekends' usually unsuspectingly paid for by company employers and unfortunate employees are sent on these courses. These courses are usually the first introduction to a cult but it is usually referred to as 'New Technique Thinking'. The employees are harangued during long meetings, team building exercises, meditative techniques, thought patterns or processes confused and when all resistance is broken down new philosophies and thinking techniques are built in. Long sessions of discussions and sparse food help the breakdown process. You may think this is paranoia, but let past history speak. The now defunct Solar Temple which killed all it's members in suicide pacts went about recruiting in the workplace through management training, team building and better business weekends. This is also true of many other well known groups who hide their true names behind such titles as "Association for Better Living and Education", "Erhart Seminar Training", "The Forum" etc. They also approach Prisons and correctional institutions Showing false statistics and reams of charts showing how their techniques, classes and therapy can help reform criminals. Groups that have done this are 'Criminal and Narconon' (both front groups for the Church of Scientology) and Transcendental Meditation. or TM.
3 cults have schools in Dublin that teach the usual subjects required but in a slanted way along with their religious ideals and philosophies. Parents that put their children in these schools may not even be aware of what they are letting their children in for.
But they do no harm....
Many people are happy to live and let live, avoiding these groups, books and their leaders and are able to spot fakes better than an art dealer offered yet another 'lost Picasso'. They suppose these people are happy doing what they are doing and harming no one. Their life seems to drift along in this cloud of innocence forgetting quickly or oblivious to tragedies such as the Mormon church trying to cover up their dark past like the 'Mountain Meadows Massacres', the People's Temple's mass suicide in Jonestown, Branch Dividians at Waco, The Heavens Gate mass suicide, The Tokyo Underground murders of Aum Synriko, The Solar Temple death ceremonies which claimed many lives, the thousands of Jehovah's witnesses who have died over the years because they followed their leaders warnings against inoculations, blood transfusions and life saving operations, The Nigerian doomsday group that murdered anyone who tried to leave and eventually burned themselves to death, faith healers and Christian Scientists who tell people they are cured and to ignore the symptoms and throw away their medicines (if the victim dies the blame for the death is on the victim's lack of faith)...the tragic list goes on and on. Daily there are reports of individual group members or small groups committing suicide, killing family members by refusing them blood transfusions or medicines because 'their faith should heal them' etc. (If anyone doubts these claims, just look at THIS SITE which reports unbiased religious cultic activities worldwide daily straight from Reuters, Associated press, Cable Network News and other major press groups.) These groups don't recruit their members 'somewhere else', they recruit even in Dublin. As an example, months before the Waco tragedy I met members of the Branch Dividians handing out leaflets and recruiting in Dublin, no Irish people died in their compound but many English folks did.
"But I'm Safe from Cults and False Teachings!....."
Most people pay little or no attention to their spiritual side, going to church the odd time just to keep things squared up with the Man above. They don't encourage their children to study their beliefs, or even study them themselves!. The Priest / Rabbi / Pastor / Vicar / Archimandrite / schoolteacher or whatever does all that spiritual work for them. They just have to pop in every so often and let the Man above know they are still alive and trying to do the odd good work or two that will get them a good place in whatever comes after death. Also just because you go to a local church that has millions of members worldwide doesn't mean you're not safe from false teachings. Your religion may be the biggest one in your country, but does it mean it's true to God's Word? Think about it.
Imagine all is ok at home until one day your son / daughter comes home and reveals to them they have found a new joy by joining some group!. Soon tension and religious arguments ensue, family members refuse to talk to each other, your son or daughter starts using weird terminology (and that's not just teen language!) the home chats change to yelling at you and accusations that "You are under the control of 'Satan'" or some other alien terminology. Soon your child leaves home and is never or rarely heard of again, or is sighted looking thinner has their head shaved and has a glazed look as they seek donations for booklets, saying the money is for 'orphans'. You'd be broken hearted as you try to talk sense into your child, but your child tells you that you are counted as dead in their eyes. You run about trying to seek help from psychologists, priests, 'cult experts' and sometimes even the media. You blame everything and everyone but yourself for the state your beloved child is in. You panic wondering if the next time you hear or see your child will be just another statistic in a mass cult suicide you see on the news and forget about........etc. And the cycle goes on.
A word of warning, it doesn't just happen to children and teenagers. More cults are made up of middle age adults than young bright eyed teens who want to change the world. When a spouse gets involved in a cult and the other spouse can see through the thin veil of deception and warns their spouse, the spouse is usually counselled to 'Avoid negative or suppressive people'. This can end in divorce in many cases. There is a certain yoga teacher who has his own centres in many country towns in Ireland, selling his own products at highly inflated prices. A friend of mine who was in his group, who became a Christian has now left helps and counsels couples divided by this teacher. He says it's the same story all over Ireland, this guy moves in, opens his health food shop, advertises courses in Yoga and meditation. A wife or husband starts the course and within weeks they have split from their partners because of the teachings.
A guide to spotting Cults and False Teachers
The first sign of a cult is that it lies to gain converts. It uses a trick known as the 'Bait and Switch' method. Examples are they come to your door and say they are helping or encouraging family togetherness. They then start meeting you and your family regularly at home, meetings are usually at first pretty light hearted but seeds are planted with trick questions they ask the mother or father, which opens the way for the visitors to start a book of Mormon 'study' and before you know it, 6 weeks later you're being baptised by a man making Masonic symbols and claiming to hold the Melchizedek priesthood!. Another Bait and Switch method is the "Free Personality Test" mentioned above. You go into a room and fill out an answer sheet of 100 or so questions. Then you're brought into a room where you're built up, complemented and told you're special and very intelligent. Then following a lengthy but guided conversation where you give away a lot about yourself, and the hurts or tender points you have shared are repeatedly worked on by your inquisitor until you are harassed into signing and paying for expensive courses, or at least buying a thick book called 'Dianetics'. Remember, nothing is ever what it seems, 'bait and switch'.
Another thing about cults, false teachers or deceivers is that they're not new, they have been around since the beginning. Ever since Satan made Eve doubt God's Word, and made her believe she could become like God. The same teachings are promoted by many cults, 'You will become God' 'You are a God' 'You must get in touch with the Divine / Deity Within You' etc. Later Cain decided to invent his own way of following God, starting his own 'religion or following God by man's rules' instead of following God's way, which was known to him and all his family. One of the most obvious marks of a cult is saying God's Word (The Bible) is not true, flawed, contradictory or added to. (NB: [see 2Timothy 3:16-17] The Scriptures prove they are God's Word factually, historically, archeologically, theologically, philologically and scientifically (yes!)) . Making cult victims doubt the Scriptures or not read and interpret the Scriptures for themselves allows the cult / leader / false teacher to introduce their controlling ways. When it comes to God's Word (The Bible) cults and false teachers make some huge claims! they:
Claim their prophet/s or leaders have 'Later revelations which supersede the Scriptures'
Claim they alone can interpret the Scriptures by being 'Anointed' and have special revelation, or are God's only channel of truth
Claim you cannot rightly understand the Scriptures without their church, books and materials.
Claim their traditions are on par with Scripture, but where there's conflict, tradition wins out.
Claim by Divine revelation the Bible is untrustworthy because it's full of mistakes and will only believe it when it's 'translated correctly'.
Claim their version is the only true or correctly translated version (These 'versions' are usually "Perversions"!)
Claim that there are more books than the 66 in any normal Bible and 'suppressive' people have kept these books out
Add extra books to the Bible (again a perversion of the Scriptures).
It's not just the Bible that comes in for a hammering by cults and false teachers. The person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Son of God and in very nature God is diminished by cults and false teachers.
Cults say Jesus:
was just a wise man
was a man for 30 years then the 'Christ presence' came upon him, and left Him on the cross
was a little god, a created being, made by a 'Bigger' God
He was the Archangel Michael incarnated as a man
He the brother of Satan and he lives on a planet near the star kolob, he is just one of millions of gods, we too can be equal or better than him
He is just a 'self realised man' a person who 'realised the deity in him that all of us have'
He is just one of a long line of 'way showers', a list that includes Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Comte de St.Germain etc.
He was just a spaceman, someone way before his time with a message for all mankind.
He is a pitiful crucified being who gets crucified thousands of times daily and is under the control of men who can sacrifice him
He has to be obedient to Mary, His Mother
He has been reincarnated as 'Brother Julius, William Branham, Rev. Moon, Matreyia, Yahweh ben Yahweh take your pick there's thousands who claim to be him. The successful ones become rich, the unsuccessful ones end up in psychiatric wards!
He failed to get married and create the perfect family so now Rev. Moon has to do his work
He was a spirit with the appearance of man
Or that we are 'Little Jesus's and if we have faith enough we can do exactly what He did
He existed only as an idea in God's mind until he was spoken fourth and 'positively confessed' by prophets and God
I could list hundreds more examples of how Jesus Christ, God (John 1:1, John 8:58) in the flesh Himself (John 1:14, Colossians 2:9, 1John 1:1-3; 4:1-3) is made to be insignificant, less that the creator of the entire universe (Isaiah 40:28, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16) and the only one who lived a sinless life, though while in the flesh tempted in every way remained sinless to become the spotless lamb, the saviour of all who would put their faith in Him. I have even written just as an exercise in cult research an encyclopaedia of false Christ's on another website, you can visit it by clicking here, (Don't forget to click the back button to return here!).
But why do cults and false teachers demean Jesus? (John 5:23), simply put they put him down and raise themselves up to be god-men, reaping the rewards in this life of unconditional servitude from their unsuspecting victims, living a life of luxury while their followers pound the pavements for 16 hours selling flowers, magazines, booklets soliciting donations by deception (because they are taught the end justifies the means) etc. The Bible makes it very clear, that when Jesus returns, every eye will see Him (Revelation 1:7) Remember Who Jesus Really is:
Salvation is another way of spotting cults and false teachers. The Bible tells us emphatically:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9)
More to the point "What is Salvation?". Again false teachers and cults pervert this teaching. A brief description of Biblical Salvation is knowing and having personal assurance in this life your sins are forgiven and washed away by the blood of Jesus from the cross. That you have a living, walking, talking relationship with our Lord and Saviour through His Holy Spirit that indwells you and leads you into all truth inspiring you through God's Word. This is a free gift that is offered to all who will come to Christ Jesus with a repentant heart for their sinfulness, and trust Him for their Salvation which is given freely. For a more comprehensive explanation please click here
Grace is also perverted to mean something else. Grace means "Given freely" a good definition to help us remember what Grace stands for is: God's Riches At Christ's Expense. Cults say the opposite. They tell us we must earn grace by being worthy to receive it, get it in a sacrament or have to be and remain somehow sinless at all times.
Cults make works necessary for salvation:
You must pray certain prayers at certain times of the day for a certain amount of time
You must submit your wages slip to the church authorities in order that they can see you can pay your full tithe (whatever percentage they decide) to make you worthy
You must atone for your own sins after death in punishment by purgation in some fiery place between here and heaven.
You must reincarnate until you reach perfection
You must be baptised to be saved
You are told you can atone for your sins by climbing a rough mountain of jagged stones barefoot in Ireland. Or in Mexico crawl on your knees across half a mile of sharp rough gravel tearing at your flesh, additionally carrying heavy weights on your shoulders towards a painted white statue and give as much money as you can into the overstuffed collection box (emptied many times daily) of a large shrine made of jewels and gold (all the while watched in wonderment by the local peasants who are barefoot and living in sparsely furnished mud-brick pueblos trying to live from what they can hopefully grow on the parched land).
You must visit a holy shrine, wash yourself at the waters there
You must tell some priest / man / group your sins and he / they can give you 'temporal' forgiveness and recommend a penance
You must receive sacraments that will work towards your salvation
Finally one of the world's biggest cults says you cannot presume to have salvation, that is a sin........
Real salvation is the result of what we believe, not the result of what we do
(Romans. 4:5). Salvation is by grace through faith
(Ephesians. 2:8-9 see above). Good works result from a spiritually transformed heart because of salvation (see Ephesians. 2:10). Salvation is missed by those who, while having a zeal for God, try to win God's approval on the merits of their own right actions, good works, religion etc (Rom. 10:1-4). This is self-righteousness and it ignores Jesus' punishment and death for them. It's like saying to God "I don't want your free gift, I'm good enough to have earned my salvation, I don't need Jesus". Such flawed thinking only ends in disaster and eternal punishment for rejecting a loving God's sacrifice.
One of the Apostle Paul's warnings was recorded in the Bible in Acts 20:29-31
I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
The Apostle Paul knew false teachers would arise, even within the Christian church. Paul warned specifically they would distort the truth. This brings us to a final but important point on spotting cults and false teachers, look at the 'Leader'. They might not look like a wolf!, they are usually charming, have charisma and quite well spoken. Another danger sign is cults have a pyramid like structure, where one 'leader' is at the top (usually doing quite well from their elevated position!) and there are many 'levels' of leadership in the organisation below. The person at the top is might be seen as 'God's Mouthpiece', 'One Who Speaks for God', 'Interprets God's will', 'God's Modern Day Prophet', 'The Laodicean Angel', 'God's Anointed' or many other titles. They might even claim to be 'God incarnate' 'Jesus Reincarnated' or 'God's infallible representative on Earth'. There are many variations on that theme that are used. Usually this person is 'Infallible' and if their teachings contradict previous teachings, Scripture or Traditions then instead of being questioned (most are unquestionable!) then the new teaching supersedes old teaching. No thought is given to the fact that the Bible says "God is not a God of confusion", He doesn't contradict Himself ever. Remember Paul said they would "distort the truth" so when you hear people saying the leader is infallible, the Bible is secondary or flawed you know you're in a cult, get out straight away and find a church that teaches from the Bible (doesn't demand a certain version is the only correct one ) reads it in context, and believes it too!.
Shaun Aisbitt 2003
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