It was many decades ago that a young and idealistic, Southern Baptist preacher was approached by businessmen after one night of his tent preaching. They promised him the necessary money backing for his future evangelistic crusades. Naturally, I must assume at the time, that this young, eager-beaver of an evangelist would have considered this business offer as something coming directly from "God." But, as time became a reality over the course of his life, young Billy Graham must have come to see things differently. This money machine behind it all had to be obvious, even to the most mindless. The motivation and outcome of all these crusades were business and nothing more. The new theology would be most palatable. Billy was to be the mouthpiece, the salesman, a new cult leader of the new, syrupy organization, and the Billy Graham Crusade has since gone onto make billions for its investors.
Many have since followed in his footsteps, also with the same useless message - the message of salvation by Jesus. And it's amazing that people (even us) can believe something that, not only, doesn't exist, but also has no substantiation in any "sacred" book or manual. It is simply the profit making philosophy of businessmen, and has set the groundwork for the perpetuation of an incredibly lucrative empire.
The product? Absolutely nothing. It's nothing more than a vacuum in a pretty box. It's a lot of words, a lot of hype, and a very carefully organized way of graciously taking away money from people. It's a melodramatic performance with sugary words. It's a soft sell on the Jesus movement. It placates the guilty. It's a panacea - an opiate. It lulls people into a false sense of well being, and as a result, it has no growth value. It challenges nothing, and it advances nothing. It's not anything more than emotional words that simply make people "feel better." Other than that, it is of no worth. The bottom line is profit, much to the eventual chagrin of the believers.
In fact most, if not all, "religions" are that way. Herbie's cult gained us virtually nothing, even though the approach was different. It was a hard sell that imposed laws, and presumably, those of us who felt the "need" for such self discipline, went along with all the theological drivel - also, much to our eventual chagrin.
If anything, Herbie's cult could have possibly been said to do one thing, and this may have been the only good to have come out of the experience. It taught us to stay away from cults. It might have taught many of us the use of the clever traps, the sales gimmicks, the guilt trips, the con-game, and it might have taught us NEVER again to ever give our money to some cause like "preaching the gospel." Logic tells us that if "God" needed money, then "God" could materialize it. Countless thousands have learned these lessons, but it appears, that many have not.
During the years of crawling out of the physical, mental, and psychological bondage in the aftermath of Herbie cultism, I've talked to dozens of people who left the Worldwide Church of God. I've also had private and open correspondence with as many. Thankfully, most have learned the lessons of cult life - never to return. But many have simply leap-frogged from one cult into another. They've left Herbie's bondage, only to jump into a Jesus cult of some sort. And these people are as dogmatic, self-righteous, and they're just as militant about their beliefs as we were in our Worldwide Church of God cult days.
In fact, they've just exchanged one set of beliefs for another. Unfortunately, they've been content to sit back and let someone else do their thinking for them. As I've quoted Jim before, that a lazy person will be forever ignorant, many of these "escapees" from Herbieizm will forever be the sheep that needs a cultmaster. For some strange reason, they think that "God" is supposed to float down from somewhere, pick them up by their psyches, and lead them to the "Church of their choice."
However, the logic of the situation is not such. God - or Whatever - doesn't care. There's no God to stop us doing exactly what we want, and if we're diligent and not lazy, we'll prove that fact. God doesn't care if we go to this church or that. Our choice. God doesn't care if we join this or that cult. God doesn't care if we put a gun to our heads and pull the trigger. There won't be any angel to swoop down and stop us. We neither live in an Abraham scenario, nor are our lives a replay of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." Sorry folks. It just don't happen that way. If we pull that trigger, we'll have bits of head everywhere.
It's strange the type of convoluted thinking that some people jump into when leaving a cult. A couple of years after I'd left Worldwide Church of God's cult, I spoke to a woman who'd also left. I was floating free by that time, and doing my own research. While she shrugged off my research, she emphatically told me: "But John," she chided me, "you MUST first have a personal relationship with Jesus." When I told her that I was not homosexually inclined, she told me: "Don't be a wise ass."
Why Larry King wants to bother with the Billy Graham family on his talk show, I'll never know. It's news, I guess. So many people love that Graham mush and theological slop. Every so often over the years, Larry has had one or more of the Graham family on his talk show, and the rhetoric from the Grahams is always the same. "Just MUST believe in Jesus, accept Him as savior, confess your sins to Him, and then you're born again." Larry (who's Jewish) invariably asks the same question. What if you don't know, or have never heard of Jesus? The reverberant comeback is always the same - a repetition of the above quote. "You MUST accept Jesus," they say. I'd love to see Bill O'Reilly take on this family.
The Jesus group have no answers to the 99% of people who've lived and who have never heard about Jesus. Since, according to the Christian belief in the Bible, that "God is no respecter of persons," this leaves us with a confusing dichotomy.
It obviously makes NO sense that some "loving God" would mark out a salvation methodology that would be impossible for 99% of all mankind to ever achieve. Which brings us to the inevitable conclusion that the Jesus cults - as now marketed - are as inane, illogical, and as dumb as the tenants of Herbie. Why won't some learn this?
Thankfully, many have. Many have not. But it's certainly going to take open minded investigation and some hard work for some to find out the "plain truth."
Since the bottom line of all cults is money (and that includes the "Jesus" ones), then it's mandatory that these organizations ask, beg, and plead for people's money so that they can "Spread the gospel message." Aside from the fact that no one in these groups has the remotest idea of what the Biblical gospel message even is, they cannot even fathom a guess as to what happens to those who don't (or ever) get the Jesus message. But they still keep begging for money to "save" the unsaved. Check out the Telethons on CBN, and the incessant "Call to Pledge" beseechings from TBN. Etc.
Even Seventh Day (CG7) had their people who cried and blubbered during opening and closing prayers, and begged God for the unsaved, so their CG7 message could reach and redeem these unsaved and all those poooooooor folks. No one, it seems, ever had the common sense to question the whole approach as illogical. No one, it seems, had enough common sense to give God (or Whatever) enough intelligence to organize salvation better than some rinky-dink Billy Graham Crusade. Most members, it seemed, did not have enough drive to stand on their own feet, question all things, and do their own research. Anyone who did, simply left the CG7 fellowship.
For those who still think that a Jesus cult is the "new improved" way to God after leaving Worldwide Church of God, then may I offer some thots as to why another approach - and another thinking - might be better?
For those who are still Bible believers (or near believers), please read on. All these Jesus cults claim that the Bible is "God's Word." So if these cults come crashing down on Biblical beliefs, or if the Bible itself is erroneous, then what purpose is there in joining a Jesus cult? Why would any ex-WCGer go chasing a new cult simply because it has the attached name of Jesus? Aside from the fact that historically, there never existed a person that was called "Jesus of Nazareth," the name "Jesus" was simply a title that could have fitted virtually anyone at the time. This title and the surrounding legends were based on many "Christs" (or reportedly, anointed ones) who roamed throughout the Levant at the time. But, secular history shows that, the early NT Christian church honed in on one legendary person, amplified all the myths, exaggerated the happenings, and formulated a set of guidelines that became (by the late first century AD) the first Jesus cult. Please check out the Acharya S book: "The Christ Conspiracy," and it's references. There are also plenty of other references on this site relating to this matter.
The only reason we have Jesus cults today is because of the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and Constantine's edict to gather in all the outlying Jewish Christians, keep them happy, and let them all join the official "Church of Rome." Compromises had to be made on both sides. Since the Jesus cult had widely spread over the whole Roman empire, then an eradication of their beliefs would have caused hostility and eventual rebellion. Plus the fact, Constantine wasn't about to cut off the Christians (even with their wacky beliefs) because of one major reason. Taxes. Christians were profitable, and always "rendered to Caesar." So a mixture of "Christianity" and Roman paganism was concocted, globed into one formal church, and a fabled document was issued that outlined this whole chaotic mish-mash. That document became known as the Bible.
However, the modern doctrine of "Jesus saves," makes no more sense today than it did in the fourth century. I will challenge anyone who is a Bible believer, to show me in the words reportedly attributed to Jesus, where He says that salvation is based on His claims to be the Messiah, and where He claims that all who must be saved must come to Him, confess their sins, and be saved, and thus - born again. It simply doesn't exist, and all this is the work of businessmen who have fabricated a fictitious Bible thinking in the eyes of people who are too lazy to prove the truth for themselves . . . and all this is done for the sake of continuing corporate profits. And it's worked.
The only reason why Bible believing people believe all this "Jesus" nonsense, is because they've never checked out the book they claim is their reference. The Jesus rubbish that's now preached by the average church is simply NOT contained anywhere in the four gospels. Any such stretching of Jesus theology was added much later (in epistles) by redactors in the fourth century. A study of literary criticism shows that fact, as it also reveals many of the shortcomings in the Old Testament as well. For a literary criticism analysis, you can reference any scholarly work of "Introduction to the New Testament" from the Dallas school of New Testament theology or Fuller's Seminary in Pasadena, as well as Otto Eisfeld's "Introduction to the Old Testament."
Religious corporations rely on people's gullibility and/or laziness. They know people would rather just believe some whacko in the pulpit rather than check out all things for themselves. They know, full well, that people would rather " . . heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears . . . " than take the time to prove all things and challenge the snake-oil salesmen who spend their time vomiting "smooth" empty words all over a credulous congregation. People only remain dumb if they allow themselves to stay that way. Religion relies on this. Religion depends on laziness. Herbie did. And, Jesus cults have profited by all this.
If any wish to take the time and effort to "prove all things," then the Biblical theology of the modern day Jesus cults falls apart. It's illogical, stupid, and it certainly is NOT Biblical.
So what does all this have to do with us? Probably nothing, UNLESS some have been tempted to think that this new "Jesus" movement is something worth pursuing. Apparently the new, improved Worldwide Church of God under Joey Jr. thinks it does. It's a convenient theology. Jesus takes care of everything . . . yeah? Right!
If we've come out of a cult, then why should we seek another? The Jesus cult, as spreading today, could become the world's biggest cult. It's subtle, it's smooth, it will take our money, and in principle, it's just as bad as Herbie's. In the end, it may be even more dangerous.
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