Truth lost to the pressure of cults

Southern Cross: People Matter

People Matter was a regular column by Phillip Jensen in Southern Cross, the monthly magazine of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.

Originally Published:
Jensen, P 'Truth lost to the pressure of cults'. Southern Cross, December-January 2001-02.

Tagged: cults family

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Mik met the cult members only a couple of days before he moved out of home.

It was an astonishingly quick conversion. One day he was a student on his way through his course, happily commuting from his home in the suburbs to university. By the end of that week he had left home, was in the process of dropping out of university, and was on the streets raising money for the cult.

Mik had not been known to be in need or in any personal difficulty. His family had its pressures and difficulties, but would not be classified as dysfunctional or even unhappy.

Then he met the members of the cult. He went back to their flat and talked for hours—into the small hours of the next morning. For the rest of the week, he was kept in close contact with the group.

By the end of the week, he left his father and mother and moved into the cult household.

Stories like that of Mik are a great worry, not only to families but also to the society as a whole. For most families, to lose a child like this—even an adult child—is terrifying. Many people falsely assume that their family is too happy and their offspring too well adjusted for it to happen to them. The manipulative habits of cult evangelism are more powerful than most people imagine.

Yet did not Jesus himself call upon the fishermen to leave their father and their fishing career in Galilee to follow him? And did not Jesus say: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”

The other day I saw the opposite of the Mik saga when I shared the gospel with Kim.

It was a great conversation. Kim was interested in what the Bible had to say and asked intelligent, sensible, searching questions. It was not one of those pointless undergraduate conversations designed to show off intellectual superiority rather than search for any answers. Kim was earnestly trying to find the truth or falsity of Christianity.

There was no attempt to pressure Kim to join our ‘commune’, or to leave his home or course. We sat and talked quietly for an hour or so. I tried to avoid using my age and education to unfair advantage in debate. I encouraged him to go away and read for himself.

When I met up with him a couple of weeks later, he was less open and forthcoming.

“What's up?” I inquired.

“I have decided not to become a Christian.”

“Why is that? Have you worked out other answers to your questions?”

“No. What you said last time is right. I can see it is true. It's just that my family is against it. We have our religion and I am part of the family.”

Family is a very important, God-given, social structure. It was a great tragedy that Mik did not take into account his family when he was pressured to leave all and join the cult—that has used him for some years now.

But the family is not an absolute. It is not an infallible guide to truth. It is not always concerned for the best interest of its members. It can be cult-like in its control and manipulation of individuals.

How sad that Kim would choose family over truth. How clever of Satan to use something so good to deceive.