FROM MY BOOK DREAMS AND VISIONS THE FIRE IN MY SOUL
In my book Dreams and Visions the Fire in my Soul I speak about harmful faith.
“Harmful faith?” isn’t that an oxymoron? The whole concept of faith is supposed to be one of healing, and hope, so how can it be harmful?
In a harmful faith system, one’s personality, growth, views, and ideas must conform to a set standard of behavior. Individual thinking and growth of the personality is not encouraged. Rather in a harmful faith environment one is encouraged to become a mindless spiritual robot, a homogenized blend of a corporate personality rather than an individual
I was speaking with a new friend a few days ago, and we were talking about corporate very large churches. She wanted to know my thoughts on these sorts of churches. While I can not fairly lump all very large churches together there are some caveats and issues that do concern me to keep an eye out on.
One of the things I've noticed is that many large mega churches are driven by one very charismatic man or woman who seems to be intense, spiritual, dynamic, driven, and often claiming a very special relationship with the Divine in some way. They often request donations using certain biblical scriptures especially if they are Christian oriented churches. The gist is that if you give, God gives back to you many times over.
There is a great focus on both physical healing, and as well exercising certain "gifts" of the spirit including speaking in tongues, interpretation, and words from "God".
In many of these cases the Pastors become enriched to the point of obscene. While their congregants are giving out of their need, these sorts of Preachers will live in the best homes, use corporate jets, and live a lavish lifestyle.
To look at things in the right light here are some quotes from my book:
1) The leader must always control: This is a number one red light. When a congregation revolves around a person it becomes a cult, and that is dangerous.
2) Blame: Both leaders and followers learn to blame others,
circumstances, and situations for the problems in their lives.
3) Illusion of being perfect: Often, believers in this system are taught that they are part of an elite group that can obtain perfection through their faith.
4) Denying Reality: Unfortunately, in this system, there is no interest in what is real. Instead, it becomes more important to maintain an illusion of reality. Anyone who doesn’t maintain this illusion or help perpetuate it is discounted or removed.
5) Positive Confession to the exclusion of reality: The group insists that you never express your feelings unless they are positive.
6) Loyalty: Questioning of any kind is considered resistance to the faith, and or rebellion.
7) Conformity and “cookie cutter mentality”: Personal growth is not permitted. These groups do not want individualism.
8) Mistrust: Instead of encouraging trust and openness, these groups encourage isolation, and alienation from human relationships.
9) Greed: Nothing becomes more important than giving to the organization. The manipulation here is that if you give to God you will get your investment back, and then some.
10) Maintaining the Leader’s image: The idea here is to maintain the image of the leader at all costs regardless of reality or abuses.
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