I’ve got a couple of small posts that have something in common: They are about someone being wrong.
The Fearsome Pirate himself, Josh Strodtbeck, wrote this brief post on Ten Ways To Know You’re Wrong. I thought it was excellent, and should have linked to it earlier. Nice work Josh.
10 Rules for Knowing You’re Wrong
1. If you’re not talking about Jesus, you’re wrong.
2. If you define a sin in such a way that it can’t possibly apply to you, you’re wrong.
3. If your doctrine leads you to cut yourself off from everyone but like 9 others, you’re wrong.
4. If your theology excuses you from doing something God commanded, you’re wrong.
5. If you believe in a way that allows you to inflict or ignore others’ suffering, you’re wrong.
6. If you’re talking about how thankful you are that you’re better than those jerks, you’re wrong.
7. If your case relies entirely on citation of authority, you’re wrong.
8. If you can’t defend your belief without lying about what it is, you’re wrong.
9. If you say you believe something and qualify the hell out of it, you’re wrong.
10. If your version of the Gospel isn’t actually good news, you’re wrong.
On another note, I’ve been reading some sources of “cult profiles” looking for how shame and intimidation regarding unapproved books, outside information, open questions and open discussion are perceived by cults. On one comprehensive list of cultic characteristics as described by various sources, the following statements appeared in various descriptions of cults and cultic behavior:
Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them.
Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
All The Answers – Provide simple answers to the confusion they, themselves, create. Support these answers with material produced or “approved” by the group
Attack Independent Thought – Critical thinking is discouraged as prideful and sinful, blind acceptance encouraged.
Motive Questioning- When sound evidence against the group is presented, members are taught to question the motivation of the presenter. The verifiable (sound documentation) is ignored because of doubts over the unverifiable (presenter’s motives).
Information Control – Group controls what convert may read or hear. They discourage (forbid) contact with ex-members or anything critical of the group. May say it is the same as pornography making it not only sinful and dangerous but shameful as well. Ex-members become feared and avoidance of them becomes a “survival issue.”
Coercion – Disobedience, including even minor disagreement with group doctrine, may result in expulsion and shunning.
Phobias – The idea is planted that anyone who leaves goes into a life of depravity and sin, loses their sanity, dies, or will have children die, etc. Constant rumors of bad things happening to people who leave. No one ever leaves for “legitimate reasons.”
No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as “persecution”.
Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
I have to wonder how many churches, ministers, schools and bloggers realize that their approach to these issues comes remarkably close to much of the behavior and attitude of cults? I am not calling these groups/persons cultic, and don’t say I did. I am pointing out that the discouragment of questions and discussion as contrary to the nature of Christianity is a characteristic of a cult, and ought to be called exactly that. It’s an attempt to control discussion, questions and independent thought.
There’s a lot more that could be said along this line, but I want to make it clear that when someone says, “The BHT-an open forum of diverse Christians- should not even allow a discussion of the nature of the resurrection,” that is an approach to the control of thought and dialogue that should be rejected and characterized as what it is: inappropriate intimidation and condemnation.