Doug Phillips Asks Me to Shut Down My Blog

From Doug’s blog today:

SBC President says Internet “Filled with Character Assassination”

SBC President, Frank Page says new considerations are necessary in the church to discern how to use the internet for the glory of God. This is evidenced by many uncharitable situations like this one: Southern Baptist Convention President, Frank Page was involved in a blog discussing controversial issues, and reports that “the blog degenerated quickly into a personal attack place”

The Greenville News reports, “The bigger issue, Page said, is that members of local churches have taken to using blogs to carry on bitter debates about problems within their own congregations”. Page pleaded, “For Christ’s sake, for the sake of the lost, stop!”

Do you think Doug is trying to send me a message?

Doug, I will stop blogging when you repent. This is not a personal attack against you. This is not a bitter debate that should have stayed within BCA. It should have been settled within BCA a long time ago, granted, but, Doug, you have a pattern of hurting and abusing fellow believers outside of BCA as well. To the extent that a public person’s influence extends in abuse, a public warning is also necessary to that same extent. Doug, your abuse and tyranny have extended around the globe, your false teachings have extended around the globe. This warning now goes out to that same extent. I would like nothing better than to shut down this blog. The ball is completely in your court, Doug. Help me shut this down by repenting.

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106 Responses to “Doug Phillips Asks Me to Shut Down My Blog”

  1. mary Says:

    You all might have a listen to Kevin Swanson’s broadcast for today. He is talking about Don Veinot’s book exposing Bill Gothard. I’m pretty sure Swanson takes marching orders, or at least is in substantive contact with his dear friend Doug (who is keynoting Chec’s 2008 conference) . His take seemed to be that Gothard, taken for what he is, a seminar leader, is not legalistic. Its those that listen to him and try to apply him as gospel that are like the pharisees. I’m guess that this swipe at Veinot is the beginning of discrediting him for using the “C” word about Phillips. Just a guess, but these guys are beginning to get a little transparent in their panic.

  2. Mike Says:

    Walter Martin, along with most apologists today, was careful to distinguish between “cults” and Christian groups that are “aberrant” in their doctrines. There was not always agreement over just which category some groups fit into.

    For example, Martin seemed to have been bamboozled by the Seventh-Day Adventists when he went and sat down and talked with their leaders. What they told him was quite different from what they teach their followers. Since that time, some Adventists have moved closer to orthodoxy, but for a long time, that group definitely fit the definition of “cult” — according to most other apologists.

    I believe Martin and most of today’s apologists would not call patriarchy, as defined and practiced by Doug Phillips and friends — as a “cult.” I believe they would designate it as an “aberrant” doctrine held by otherwise orthodox Christians. They might also use the word “cultic” — but not the word “cult.”

    I often refer to Gothardism as “cultic but not a cult” — because many of the sociological characteristics of a “cult” can be found in that system, but it does not deny the basic doctrines of the faith. I do see a lot of theological “aberrations” in Gothardism — as I see in the kind of “patriarchy” preached by Phillips.

    Based on this, and on his behavior, as has been so amply documented — I would hesitate to call his church a “cult,” but I would not hesitate to call it “cultic” and “aberrant.”

  3. Jen Says:

    Mike, I, too have hesitated to use the word “cult” in relation to Doug and BCA, although I did mention that BCA was becoming like a cult when Doug told me who to vote for in the presidential election. However, I don’t understand the difference between “cult” and “cultic.” I am assuming you mean that it is cult-like in a sociological fashion, but not a full biblically heretical cult. I did look up several definitions of “cultic” and couldn’t find any difference between “cult” and “cultic.” Could you please explain your meaning?

    As far as the theological aberrations found in Gothardism, you will find most of the same teaching from Doug as well. I am always amazed every time Lynn reminds me that Gothard teaches a certain thing that I learned from Doug, or when I read a certain interpretation of Scripture that is a Gothard interpretation, it is an extremely familiar interpretation to me.

    I once read something Brian Abshire wrote when he was in disagreement with another believer’s position. He said they were still true believers — but with error. I think that’s the category I still consider Doug to be in. I know that many will strongly disagree with me on this, but that’s where I currently stand.

    Having said that, I am willing to explore certain cult and cult leader characteristics. I’ll put up a new post about it and we will discuss the various “qualifications” for a cult. It really is such a loaded term that I think we should be very careful how we use it.

  4. Nathanael Says:

    I’ve been lurking here for a while… I found this site by accident when I searched for “Vision Forum” (or something) on the WordPress blog listings. I’m glad I did; this topic is very interesting to me, and the discussions even more so! I haven’t been directly involved with VF/Doug, but living in San Antonio, I’ve eventually been exposed/introduced to their theology.

    I visit Doug’s blog occasionally out of curiosity and find it interesting, if not downright hilarious, that there have been something like 6 new articles related to gossip/blogging/”infantile criticism” in the last 4 *days*. That’s pretty unusual, because I don’t recall ever seeing any articles similar to these on his blog in the past (though I don’t visit it religiously… I mean regularly). I wonder what could be causing this change…

    Cindy: Anyone who can insert a reference to Vogon poetry in a serious theological debate is really cool in my opinion. 🙂 I got a good chuckle out of that… LOL

  5. Corrie Says:

    “How on earth did we ever get HERE, from there?”

    Have you watched “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” lately? I just watched this again the other night.

    “A good many people have a low opinion of Christianity thanks to folks like Fred Phelps, Steve Wilkins, and Doug Phillips. There are a lot of people who have belonged to cultic churches and have so lost their faith, and even more who have never belonged to a church and won’t touch one with a ten-foot pole, because they think that we are all a bunch of racist, misogynistic, hypocritical nuts.”

    You are so correct. This truly breaks my heart. That is why I am so firm about not dismissing a person’s experience with abuse and thinking that just because a person was abused that it makes them unfit to render any sort of objective judgment.

    I have met more than my fair share of people who still believe in Christ but will not darken the doors of a church because of how they were treated or the treatment of others that they witnessed.

    I have watched Phelps’ daughter on TV a few times and she is simply a horrendous woman. If there ever was a Jezebel, well……..But, to really delve into all the game playing and abuse that went on in that family and how Phelps abused others in his church is really frightening.

    I like the Youtube video of the Australian that interviews the Phelps family as they were picketing. It is hysterical. I think the same guy somehow got into the Mormon place in Utah so he could be a pair of “magic underpants”.

    There is a biker club that has risen up to insure that a soldier’s funeral is held in great respect. It makes me cry to watch some of the video of these bikers and how they circle around the family so Phelps and Co. can’t get near them. Here are people doing something about the Phelps and their crazy whacky behavior.

    I also like to read the blogs of those who don’t claim to be Christians who keep an eye on us Christians. It is very eye-opening. So many Christians just dismiss what these blogs have to say and they blame their high standards and high morals for why these non-Christians are criticizing them. I just don’t see it that way at all. Yes, these sites can be harsh and there can be some pretty raunchy speech but if you want to see what the world thinks about some of these issues we have spent our time on, just Google. Also, these same people truly respect those Christians who are not hypocrites and who do resemble Christ. So, it is not a matter of the “world hating Christ”as much as it is a matter of many Christians causing the lost to blaspheme God’s name.

  6. Corrie Says:

    “You all might have a listen to Kevin Swanson’s broadcast for today. He is talking about Don Veinot’s book exposing Bill Gothard. I’m pretty sure Swanson takes marching orders, or at least is in substantive contact with his dear friend Doug (who is keynoting Chec’s 2008 conference) .”

    Mary,

    I don’t know if my sanity can take another Swanson podcast. It might be the straw that broke the camel’s back. 🙂

  7. Jen Says:

    Welcome, Nathanael. It’s nice to have a fellow San Antonian on board. Doug’s blog does look a little odd this week, doesn’t it? This must be his latest tactic on how to attack the messenger.

  8. Corrie Says:

    Well, I am listening to it, Mary, and it is not as bad as some other ones that I have listened to.

    Basically, Gothard isn’t teaching the Law, he is teaching “helpful suggestions and illustrations”. There is a difference between principle and application. “Remember these guys are just men, they are only transferring the word that they have heard from Christ Himself”. ” All they were trying to say is hear God and keep His commandments, don’t love me, love God first.” Gothard and others are not accountable for all those people listening to them. Only one’s own personal elders are accountable.

    I think they forget about the “non-optional principles” part? I think they don’t understand the incredible social pressure that bears down upon someone who dares to not apply one of these “non-optional” principles in their life.

    Mr. Swanson said that he thought that Abigail did the right thing. (Wow!) Gothard doesn’t agree and neither does Doug Phillips. The part that I had a question about is when he said that Abigail’s situation is a 5th commandment issue posed against a 6th commandment issue.

    The 5th commandment is “honor they father and they mother”. The 6th commandment is “thou shalt not murder”.

    “It just depends on how you take it…..It is not so much what a man does but what people do with it that makes the difference.” “If he is legalistic he is legalistic in the same way that James is legalistic.” That isn’t what scripture says. James says that those who claim to be a teacher incur a stricter judgment. And, YES, Gothard’s “non-optional” manmade teachings displace scripture!!! That is THE problem.

    “8 Qualities ESSENTIAL for Success”…….He read through a list like this of Gothard’s various teachings and he claims they are just teaching tools but just listening to the titles of Gothard’s “outlines” (that is what they called it) they will see that they are NOT optional and that they ARE essential. Gothard’s teachings are not “This is how I see it” sort of teachings.

    “Some people would accuse Bill Gothard of legalism by narrowing the application.” They don’t think that Bill does that, it is how YOU take it. Not how Bill teaches it. Are you saying that Gothard’s explanation is the only possible explanation of the principles of God’s word….

    I do believe that is exactly what Gothard is saying.

    I didn’t hear much about Don Veinot’s book specifically. But, then again, it was kind of loud hear tonight.

  9. Corrie Says:

    “loud hear”?????

    Should be “loud HERE”!!!

  10. CynthiaGee Says:

    “loud hear”?????

    Should be “loud HERE”!!!

    Huh? wha’d ya say? 😀

  11. sarah Says:

    You know, there is a fascinating difference between Jen and Doug.

    Doug does not link people to Jen’s site. He prefers oblique attacks that only those familiar with these issues and situation will recognize. In essence, he does not make it easy for us to hold him accountable and hear the other “side”.

    Jen, however, will link to Doug’s increasingly bizarre postings. Jen, unlike Doug, allows comments on her blog, even ones that are negative toward her positions. Jen tries to characterize Doug’s position’s honestly, and she offers you links to his own writings. Doug, of course, prefers to assault Jen without actually speaking her name or giving the uninformed, casual reader at least an opportunity to see where his thoughts are actually coming from. If you don’t know about the Epsteins and the BCA situation, you may honestly think Doug is just concerned with cults or slander in the church. Without the background story, one has no idea that these posts are actually a backwards attempt at defending himself.

    I could go on. But I think it’s clear which party to this conflict acts in openness, honesty, and has accountability.

  12. Mike Says:

    Jen wrote: “Mike, I, too have hesitated to use the word ‘cult’ in relation to Doug and BCA, although I did mention that BCA was becoming like a cult when Doug told me who to vote for in the presidential election. However, I don’t understand the difference between ‘cult’ and ‘cultic.’ I am assuming you mean that it is cult-like in a sociological fashion, but not a full biblically heretical cult.”

    Yes — sociologically but not theologically — at least not yet. I would reserve the label “cult” for those religious groups claiming to be Christian, but that contain serious departures concerning the most basic doctrines of the faith — such as the nature of God, the basis of salvation, the nature of Christ, the atonement, etc.

    Both Gothard and Phillips express agreement with you and me on those basic doctrines, and many others. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, unitarians, many Seventh-Day Adventists, and Oneness Pentecostals do not.

    But boyh Phillips and Gothard appear, to me, to teach a number of clearly “aberrant” doctrines, and elevate their importance to an unhealthy level. They do both exhibit several “cultic” characteristics, sociologically.

  13. Mike Says:

    Jen wrote: “I am willing to explore certain cult and cult leader characteristics. I’ll put up a new post about it and we will discuss the various “qualifications” for a cult. It really is such a loaded term that I think we should be very careful how we use it.”

    I agree with this caution. It is the same approach I take with the Gothard Discussion list. I am often asked if I think Gothardism is a cult — and I explain it the way I just did in my previous comments here.

  14. thatmom Says:

    Corrie said (regarding yesterday’s Kevin Swanson broadcast):

    “Basically, Gothard isn’t teaching the Law, he is teaching “helpful suggestions and illustrations”. There is a difference between principle and application. “Remember these guys are just men, they are only transferring the word that they have heard from Christ Himself”. ” All they were trying to say is hear God and keep His commandments, don’t love me, love God first.” Gothard and others are not accountable for all those people listening to them. Only one’s own personal elders are accountable.

    I think they forget about the “non-optional principles” part? I think they don’t understand the incredible social pressure that bears down upon someone who dares to not apply one of these “non-optional” principles in their life. ”

    Several glaring problems with the broadcast that caused me concern….

    Kevin and his co-host basically said that if a teacher misquotes or misuses Scripture (something Gothard and, dare I say, Kevin Swanson have done…remember his take on single women?) it is the listener’s problem rather than the teacher’s problem. What? Just imagine this….a teacher tells her class that the earth is flat rather than round. Is she responsible for that teaching or are her students for believing her? If we apply Kevin’s “logic” here, he had better not criticize the government schools for their teachings (isn’t that the purpose of his broadcast? To warn us against humanist teachings in the public school system?).

    Secondly, he said that, unless he is your elder, “I’m not accountable on the last day.” What? What about Matt. 12: 35-37: ” A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. ” How does this not apply to Bill Gothard or Doug Phillips or Kevin Swanson?

    Kevin also talked about Francis Schaeffer and said that Schaeffer had some good insights but offered no solutions. What? Is this man serious? A thumbs up for Bill Gothard and a thumbs down for Francis Schaeffer in the solutions department? The problem is that Schaeffer’s solutions are too simple to be boxed into homeschooling curriculum and marketed. They are too relevant and true and cannot be twisted to fit some patriocentric paradigm.

    Finally, Swanson tells us that “Christianity is basically dying.” What? If this is true, why does he bother getting up in the morning? The Jesus I serve is a Living Savior, His Word is true, and His Gospel message is changing lives every day.

  15. Jen Says:

    Mike, thanks for the clarification, but I am still unclear about the difference between “cultic” and “cult.” You say that you label Gothard as being cultic, but he does not have a cult. I think the two words have the same definition, so could you elaborate on the meanings, please? I do see what you wrote in agreeing that both Doug and Gothard lean toward a sociological cult, but not a theological one. Is that the difference you are meaning? If so, do you think it might be more clear to use those particular terms instead? Otherwise, it sounds to me like you are saying that they are a cult, but they are not a cult. 🙂

  16. Jen Says:

    Sarah: “You know, there is a fascinating difference between Jen and Doug. … I could go on. But I think it’s clear which party to this conflict acts in openness, honesty, and has accountability.”

    Sarah, thank you for the compliment. I think the difference is grace. I never knew grace at BCA, but God is teaching me now and I pray that His grace at work in my life is evident to those who see me. I know I have a long way to go still, but God has changed my heart so much in the last few months.

  17. Nathanael Says:

    It would seem to me that the difference is also about control and ‘intellectual honesty’, if you will. There is a *big* difference between having a blog (especially a potentially controversial one) and allowing comments, and having a blog without allowing comments. Essentially, allowing visitors to post comments means that someone can debate, criticize, or disagree with you, and they may even bring up some good points that could force you to re-examine your position. In other words, allowing relatively unmoderated free speech on a blog via comments means that you will be challenged. In my opinion, it takes a lot more courage to run a controversial(-ish) blog and let people post comments than it does to just post your opinions and be done with it. (Unless, of course, someone creates a new blog for the sake of examining your “locked-down” opinions… oops, maybe you can’t control that…)

    So anyway, kudos to you, Jen, for being transparent and courageous with this blog. 🙂

  18. Mike Says:

    Jen, I don’t know what else I can say that would be any more clear. I haver already answered the question about the difference between a sociological cult and a theological one. It’s a fairly common distinction among apologists — as is saying that while a group exhibits certain cultic characteristics, it is not [yet] a full-fledged cult.

    If you don’t like that distinction, then just use the word “aberrant” — which is common to use in reference to a group that is not considered a full-fledged cult, but which contains several false teachings that are elevated to huge importance, and that set the group apart.

  19. Brandon Giromini Says:

    I can hardly believe that I’ve created that much of a stir. That article has had only about 50 hit and I think half of those were mine while adding the formatting.

    Cindy, if anyone from Vision Forum is reading your site, they are most likely using a proxy server to hide their visits. They stopped visiting my personal blog some time ago and I have yet to see the IP address from VF show up in the dinodeception.com logs. (However I do know that someone at Ligioner reads dinodeception…) I find it hard to believe that VF would not be interested at all in the unfolding Allosaur story, since one of Bob Renaud’s jobs is to search the internet and see what is being said about Doug. So rest assured commenters, someone at VF is definitely reading these comments.

  20. CD-Host Says:

    I make it a policy to email to people mentioned in my articles if possible or post to a blog or… to notify them if mentioned. I’ve mentioned Doug in 3 different series (original Jen article, the FCA article and the defense of against patriarchy) so he’s gotten 3 emails. No response on any of them. The first 2 I can see him not willing to comment on, but the 3rd mentions his site quite prominently.

  21. theIronHare Says:

    Stacey Says:
    August 31st, 2007 at 12:20 am
    sarah: Doug, of course, prefers to assault Jen without actually speaking her name or giving the uninformed, casual reader at least an opportunity to see where his thoughts are actually coming from.

    Interesting observation. This is the same tactic RC Jr. did with Dennis Cochran in his Every Thought Captive magazine.

    Yup.

    – Dennis Cochran

  22. Nathanael Says:

    (Sorry, this is slightly off-topic, but I saw something that I really wanted to comment on)

    Corrie: “So many Christians just dismiss what these blogs have to say and they blame their high standards and high morals for why these non-Christians are criticizing them. I just don’t see it that way at all. […] Also, these same people truly respect those Christians who are not hypocrites and who do resemble Christ. So, it is not a matter of the “world hating Christ”as much as it is a matter of many Christians causing the lost to blaspheme God’s name.”

    Amen! I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen people complaining about why Christian people/principles are criticized or slammed, and sometimes it seems like it’s not so cut-and-dried “the enemy just hates Christianity, so there’s a lot of opposition!” like some people think. Yes, there are times when Christians are genuinely persecuted, and I don’t mean to belittle that at all. But there are also times when Christians are criticized or ridiculed because they simply said something dumb, or promoted a poor exegesis, or did something else wacky. This gives Christianity a bad name, and makes apologetics harder for people who *aren’t* hypocritical, or bible-thumpers, or what have you, because they have to work against an incorrect stereotype.

    Anyway, back on topic: a quote that I like a whole lot is, “If we all agree, one of us isn’t thinking.” (paraphrased) I heartily disagree with anyone who wants “unity” at all costs, especially when “unity” means agreeing with *their* point of view or *their* doctrine. Though having a bunch of “factions” in the church may be unfortunate, I’d rather have that than a “unified” church where there’s no room for critical thought or healthy debate.

  23. RR Says:

    Brandon maybe Doug hits Panera bread or another internet cafe with his laptop to hide his op address.

    Corrie excellent point. I find that some times “Prosecution” has nothing to do with being Christian and everything to do with being an idiot.

    I once had a brief discussion with a woman that shared a “word if testimony” in Sunday school about police brutality at a pro life protest. Apparently she was convinced that the officer sprayed her with OC gas and slammed her to the ground when she attempted to stand , because he hates pro lifers. I was shocked to hear that when another lady spoke up and said, “well Joan, you really shouldn’t have bit that cop. You were the only one that got sprayed.”

    A few years latter Joan was arrested again for dragging a wooden cross out in front of a city fourth of July parade. I guess she decided to be master of ceremonies. Sad thing is she believes herself to be a “Warrior for God” and has business cards that read , God chaser.

  24. Lin Says:

    “Secondly, he said that, unless he is your elder, “I’m not accountable on the last day.”

    Jeepers. These guys are soooo into hierarchy they cannot see truth. We do not have earthly priests. Elders are simply those mature men in the faith who we CHOOSE to learn from and submit. However, we must know truth to not be deceived. We have one teacher and that is Christ.

    I really believe as Christians we must take this teaching in 1 John 2 to heart:

    25This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. 26These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.

    27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

    28Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

    29If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

    All true believers are anointed and are taught by the Holy Spirit through the Word. These guys have their hierarchies all backwards.

  25. Jen Says:

    Nathanael: “There is a *big* difference between having a blog (especially a potentially controversial one) and allowing comments, and having a blog without allowing comments.”

    You are so right, Nathanael. I have learned far more from my commenters than what you all have learned from my articles. There are many who encourage me and keep me going. I love that! But I’m equally grateful for those who challenge me and make me re-think my position on many things as well. This has truly been an iron-sharpening-iron site for me.

    Mike, fair enough on the distinction between cult and cultic. I think there are so many different criteria floating around for determining what is and what is not a cult that we often use the word, but it has different connotations to different people. Right now, I prefer to differentiate between the sociological and heretical cults, as far as religious cults go. I definitely put Gothard in the sociological cult category, but that is only because of the criteria I have recently looked at, as seen in my newest post about cults. We shall continue to examine Doug in light of those criteria as well.

  26. LilyHill Says:

    More and more cult-watch sites, Christian and otherwise, are including Bible-based cult-ish groups as flat-out cults, if enough of the criteria for “cult” are met.

  27. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    What is the difference between cult and cultic? (Sociologically speaking) It’s a matter of degree. Defining terms is vital.

    Concerning things “cultic”If you’re the average guy (or gal) sitting in a church or a concerned significant other of someone in a group, the first thing you generally notice is that something bothers you about the group. This realization is true of any subtle deception or of insidious problems such as something wrong with your car. You hear an unfamiliar noise and the right side of your brain become sensitized and unconsiously starts putting things together (as a built in defense mechanism). It is a general, intuitive and a type of inductive reasoning. (Like my quote from the Morpheus character in the Matrix film noted in the “Marked” for using the “C” word thread.)

    So on this type of general level, the term “cultic” applies. There are very general similarities between the group in question and what is commonly believed about other well-known cults. It is informal and not based upon specific criteria or perhaps only one criterion. People tend to perceive “cultic” as softer and less threatening language than “cult,” connotating somthing like the Amish versus Jim Jones. A term that is perceived as synonymous with “cultic” is “Spiritually Abusive” (discussion of the same dynamics but with Biblical language vs secular) which is also softer langauge, especially more palatable to those who would not readily receive the message about the dynamics of a group if it were flatly declared to be a cult. Also consistent with the term “Spiritual Abuse” and “cultic” used in this sense, the term “aberrant” is often used, indicating that the core teachings are logical (largely consistent with Scripture as Mike has described) but do not represent mainstream, orthodox or conservative interpretation of either doctrine and/or practice.

    “High demand group” may also be used in place of “cultic,” “abusive” or “aberrant”, using secular language to describe a group that is highly legalistic and collectivistic; however, all these terms are often used interchangably. It also does not carry the stronger negative connotation of “cult.”

    A “cult” implies satisfaction of critera for inclusion within a group of religious movements that holds a much different, extreme social connotation essentially differing only by degree or a commentator’s preference for the term. Most people recognize the term “cult” as synonymous with those in the media and often attach the group with a morally reprehensible leader; however, few people actually know the criteria used to determine whether a group is a cult. The trouble is that many cults and cult leaders, meeting criteria, go unrecognized because their abuses do not extend to the extreme end of suicide on behalf of their followers. Also, their abuses may go unreported in light of the concurrent, very helpful and positive outcomes produced byt the group. This is probably true of multi-layer marketing groups and some of the new age oriented human potential groups. And then we have people like Doug who make very valuable contributions to precious causes, so the abuses and inconsistent behaviors and character traits are likely to be dismissed. Humans like consistency, so our desire to find and maintain consistency overrides our ability to recognize what may be obvious to others who have emotional distance.

    “Cult” then, versus “cultic” implies more left-brained, analytical processes and some process of deductive evaluation of specifics, indicating that some informed and expert party/board/conference has evaluated and determined that the group in question is indeed a cult. “Cultic” then preceeds “cult” in most cases. Lifton’s criteria, the psychiatrist who counseled and treated the Korean POWs who were subjected to Chinese thought reform technique provides the definitive standard, as it was the first standard. A group in question need not meet every one of the criteria, but depending on the degree of abuse and the behavioral effects (both through group behavior and through negative/common symptoms in those emerging from the group) all contribute to the applicability of the term. Spiritual abuse can and is used for both “cult” and “cultic” however.

    Another consideration is that of the artifice and intent of the group and/or leader. With Doug, in ’99, I considered him to be “cultic,” demonstrating that I recognized that he was “abberant” in his behavior (as was Gothard). I would also say that the church that I left was a “cult” but that the movements that influenced them were “cultic.” When Doug published his “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” and from his documentable behavior in response to the criticism he received as a direct result, I no longer considered him to be “cultic” but a well-documented, sociological cult. These additional factors demonstrated that his ideology met all the criteria put forth by Lifton in variying degrees. Initially, I only had the collectivisitic and somewhat gnostic characteristics to consider. Publication of the “Tenets” established the authoritarian component that was not readily apparent or well-documented prior to 2003. Jen adds to this growing evidence concerning Doug’s patterns of behavior as well as highlighting the gross lack of accountability on Doug’s behalf.

    Lilly Hill notes above: More and more cult-watch sites, Christian and otherwise, are including Bible-based cult-ish groups as flat-out cults, if enough of the criteria for “cult” are met.

    “Cultic” certainly connotates something of lesser degree and threat than does the term “cult,” but as our experience with the terminology concerning the modern concept has grown, the terms have become interchagable. Much also depends on the orientation of the person or organization making the declaration. We now have (validated, statistically solid) tools and inventories for evaluating former cult members that were not available even ten years ago in addition to the information from the field of neurophysiology and brain imaging to aid in the determination of these things. It is a more exact science, validated by empirical data, and not just soley determined by someone’s very subjective evaluation. It is also no longer governed by avoidance of negative and emotional connotation but has become more understandable. Our understanding of and successes in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, battered wife syndrome and the Stanford Prison Experiment has greatly contributed to our understanding of cults. Since the TM craze and the days of the People Temple/Jones, we have all the subsequent groups and their histories, some of which have spanned decades. Take for instance the Applewhite group/Hale Bopp cult. The surviviors have provided a twenty-year historical account of the development and decline of the group. A few weeks ago, the extensive study of the Boston Movement of the International Church of Christ was mentioned on this website.

    We have the recent Abu Ghraib accounts and history, giving us additional insight into the irresistable psychology of ethinic/religious/political idealism, isolated authoritarian groups and hierarchical systems in isolation. Not only do we have the activities at the prison to consider, we now have information concerning the responses to the serviceman who reported the abuses. He and his family had to enter wittness protection because of the opposition and emotional responses as they were seen as Anti-American. (Read Zimbardo.)

    The landmark cult-exit books have now required second editions and revisions. The science of exit counseling has grown into a discrete and well-established body of scientific knowledge, although most people will recall the “deprogramming” of the early seventies as their standard of comparison. Deprogramming (abduction and intense indoctrination) was in some cases as harmful as the cult and has been shown to be unnecessary. Once you get a person outside of the group and give them perspective/support, (as long as they read and educate themselves in their own recovery efforts), their minds and hearts and spirits heal themselves.

  28. Jen Says:

    Cindy, thank you very much for this explanation of cults and “cultic.” This was extremely helpful. I think it was the subjective analysis of stating that someone was in a cult, or led a cult, without any specific definitive behaviors annotated, was what kept me from even considering the possibility of Doug Phillips being a cult leader. Using a checklist (or a combination of such) helps me to be able to make a more accurate observation, rather than merely a personal judgment.

  29. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    Jen,

    There is a great deal written on the charismatic personality of those who lead hegemonic groups. Feel free to copy this from my site (from Lalich and Landau Tobias on the topic) if you want to examine the “Cult Leader” characteristics.
    http://www.undermuchgrace.com/view/?pageID=342775

    Here’s ONE SHORT LIST:

    * the tendency to hierarchy

    * the drive for power (and wealth)

    * hostility, hatred, prejudice (“Christian”, non-normatives, et al)

    * superficial judgments of people and events

    * a one-sided scale of values favoring the one in power

    * interpreting kindness as weakness

    * the tendency to use people and see others as inferior

    * a sadistic-masochistic tendency (You’re gonna pay?)

    * incapability of being ultimately satisfied

    * paranoia

  30. LilyHill Says:

    From REST Ministries: Recovering from Experiences of Spiritual Tyranny–
    http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/9575/charactr.html

    Spiritual Abuse in the Church–
    http://www.caic.org.au/zabusive.htm

    Stop Spiritual Abuse —
    http://www.spiritualabuse.org/articles.html

    The Signs Of Spiritual Abuse–
    http://www.slm.org/trtdigst/articles/abuse.html

    Spiritual Abuse
    http://www.watchman.org/profile/abusepro.htm

    What Religious Cults Have In Common:
    http://www.culthelp.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=193&Itemid=8

    How Cults Work:
    http://www.howcultswork.com/

    IDENTIFYING A CULT
    http://www.ex-cult.org/General/identifying-a-cult

    Cult Characteristics & Warning Signs:
    Characteristics, Definitions, Warning Signs —
    lots of links —
    http://www.cultfaq.org/cultfaq-articles.html

    ABOUT CULTS —
    lots of links and articles
    http://www.carm.org/cults.htm

    Cults! An outline analysis of them.–
    How Cults work and how to avoid them-
    very good information
    http://www.carm.org/cults/cultic.htm

    The following article is by a professional hypnotist. It is useful to this discussion in viewing how much of hypnotic technique is used in many worship services in many denominations, including, from my experience, SG. used intentionally or not, the effect is still the same.

    The Battle for Your Mind
    http://www.hiddenmysteries.com/freebook/neuro/sutphen.html


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