Could Large Parts of Christianity Become Cults?

It was stunning to read the attached discussion of about churches and cults. Even though it is written in a dissident publication, it makes a point about both today’s Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

He quotes other scholars on the difference between a religion and a cult.  A religion has social status, is thought to be the repository of religious truths and has a vested interest in the success of the larger society.  A cult, on the other hand, is focused on the discipline of its members, pushes non-conforming members out and sees itself as separate from society at large.

The Pope has said he wants a smaller, more pure and conforming church.  Whether members leave over abortion, birth control or women in the clergy, no tears are shed.  As it becomes more strict,  it removes itself from the mainstream of society.

The Southern Baptist Convention has been losing five percent of its members a year for several years.  Nevertheless, its best known spokesman, Albert Mohler, seems proud it refuses to budge an inch on any matter of dogma.

Groups splitting from their parent denominations over gay pastors are also taking the mini steps of withdrawing from the broader society.  Long term stable relationships, which are in the national interest, are set aside for absolutism of the literal Bible.

Several Protestant denominations, in addition to the Southern Baptish Convention, prohibit women clergy.  They, also, are becoming islands adrift, separate from the general society.

http://ncronline.org/blogs/grace-margins/roman-catholic-church-downsizing-sect

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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38 Responses to Could Large Parts of Christianity Become Cults?

  1. entech says:

    You mean they are not?

  2. Bob says:

    Sorry, but they’re ALL cults.

    And all religions to me are really unbelievably dumb too.

  3. Bob says:

    Shared, again. :)
    Our Rational Thinkers

    “Our rational thinking,
    who art in science labs and freethinking individuals,
    hallowed be thy minds.
    Thy illumination come,
    our thinking be never done,
    on earth as it is in wondering minds,
    Give us this day our daily questioning,
    and lead us not into religious ignorance,
    and lets still be nice to those believers in fairytales,
    despite however nuts they are,
    For freethinkers have freethinking
    thus are not indoctrinated,
    for ever and ever,
    Right on

  4. The thinking gets pretty narrow in some of these groups like the baptists, independent baptists, and evangelicals. Looking beyond that, true progressive Christianity can be a positive that need not compete, argue with, or shout down anyone!
    As far as the need to prop up the ten commandments everywhere I wonder if it wouldn’t be far more appropriate if they were clamoring to have the story of the sheep and the goats from Matt. 25 34-46 displayed. But that will never happen hahaha!

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      upnorth 1:59 Thanks for the comment. Yes, Matthrew: He will separate the people like a shepard separates the sheep for the goats, sheep on the right, goats on the left.

      God meant for the races to be kept separate. And, don’t covet your neighbor’s slaves. Lot’s of wierd stuff in the Bible.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Jon; Your “races” comment while cute, has nothing to do with the allegory of the goats and sheep. I believe you know that, yet you continue to be provocative,,,,,,,,,as usual. Further diminishing your credibility.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wanna–”Your races comment while cute has nothing to do with the allegory of the goats and sheep.”

          As I recall, it was used by Baptists in the South to justify segregation and prohibit interracial marriage. If this is not what it is about, please share with us your take on what it means.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I am not aware of the Baptist’s misuse of it, and if they did, they were just as dishonest with it’s usage as yours. Two wrongs don’t make a right. You are free to compare it to the “wheat and the tares”. (another allegory of similar nature). Beyond that, you and yours just are not worthy of follow-up comment. Did I mention honesty and integrity?

          • Stan says:

            Matthew 25:31-46

            I had cut and pasted but it got to long. If you should read it it is obvious it talks about the judgement of the wicked.

            John, you do realize the abolitionists were probably 99% Christian right? So why do you never give them credit for freeing the slaves held in the British possessions and the US? Oh that’s right it doesn’t fit your agenda of making ALL Christians like mindless robots. It has to be the religion that allowed slavery here in the US not evil people perverting the scripture.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Stan 5:05 I have no reason to doubt your statement about the Christian abolitionists. The 99% applied to the slave holders and the slaves, I would guess.

            And, that’s my point. The Bible is full of contradictions and incorrect facts. It was not written for us to use today to figure out how we should live. It was written by people of that time for people living then. Now, if someone reads it today and it helps them feel good about themselves–that’s great. To say it has some great truths to be adopted by today’s government or society at large, that’s a different matter. At least, that’s the way I see it.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Jon; One last word to follow up; Upnorth’s reference should have started at vs.31. Read the entire chapter Matt 25 for context. When you come to “slave”, most translations use “servant”, ie. employee in today’s context. Even the KJV uses servant.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 4:26 “..should have started at vs. 31. Read the entire chapter Matt 25 for context.”

            You taught me I should do this, and you would be surprised to hear I did just that before I posted. Now, I read it quickly so I may have missed something. My impression is the reference to separating the sheep and goats is still that it refers to separating humans–different kinds of humans are not to eat together or sleep together. If the Southern Baptists thought that’s what it meant, I think it’s OK for me to think that as well. What that kind of stuff in the Bible means is anybody’s guess.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            And that is what is called—-eisegetics. Bias first, results predictable. Throw in hyper literalism, and the results are assured.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 8:53 I certainly would be interested in learning your completely and totally unbiased interpretation of the goats and sheep being separated, one on the left and one on the right.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            As I recall, it was one of those versus from Matt 24 Alabama Govenor Lester Maddox kept in his desk drawer and gave to people when they complained about his opposition to school integration. Before becoming governor, he ran a restaurant where he kept a baseball bat in sight near the front door to remind black people the place was not integrated.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; re-read the whole chapter s-l-o-w-l-y. Think of the seperation of the wheat and the tares if you need to. This has a spiritual and escatalogical context, and is not a social statement. It boggles the mind that you can’t comprehend, unless you are purposely evading the obvious, (which I suspect is the case). If it is, shame on you. I don’t know what verses Maddox used, but I’d be willing to bet he too was using hyper literal eisegetics to justify his position. Typical for the bias of the time.

  5. Pierre l'pleau says:

    This right here is a cult Jon. I can’t believe you are so ignorant. Do you think I exist? I don’t Okay, but yet you are still angry at what I type. Hmm, angry at something that does not exist. Typical!

  6. Pierre l'pleau says:

    Okay, you know what? There is no reason for me to be angry and about an hour ago I spoke too quickly without really thinking. It is just I get so angry quickly because Christians are the most attacked religion. Ian am glad that a genocide is not happen now. I must apologize to Jon, because I am just as ignorant as anybody here. You know, nobody really has the true answer and I wish we could get along. I love you guys, even when at times you really piss me off, I forgive you and hope you will do the same. Jon, your smart but I wish that I could find a way to show you about God! Blessings! By the way I not catholic and can agree that they may have a liitle cult going on. I am a methodist and they really dislike that LOL!!

  7. Pierre l'pleau says:

    One more thing and I know you are probably thinking get the hell out of here but when I commented on the ” when is it okay to disrespect religion” I was the one being a hypocrite on my comment on this page way above that Jon kindly responded too! So sorry for that guys. But to the one who said religion is dumb, really. You are really going to say that! That is very not okay with me. You are acting worse than the religion you are attacking. So you can see why when I saw this I was angered no??

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Pierre 4:41 Thank you for continuing to post–you seem like a fine and interesting person. In our discussions here, we have two things going on. One is we have diffenent faiths and different nonfaith views. Second, we have different ways of expressing what we think. Some of us are blunt and some are more reserved. And some are both, depending on the day.

      Your posts reflecting anger were just fine and those reflecting on it were fine as well. I am the administrator of the posts and can delete or alter them–mostly I don’t because they reflect the variety of people here and how they express themselves. I like that.

  8. What I was driving at was a reference to how we treat people. How are we treating those different than us? How are treating those who are sick? In prison? In poverty? Without any friends?
    It’s allegory and it’s a story. The lesson is to me that we are to love everyone and take care of everyone.
    the idea that the segregationists used this to justify their filth is sickening. A fundamentalist take on the bible will do that though. One must be willing to read and think. I thought it was ironic because those who are so quick to post the ten commandments are also the ones who dont seem to care much for the down and out among us….

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Upnorth; I’m sure your intentions meant well, but your Matt. 24 34-46 reference was out of context to the/your topic at hand. For your context, the sermon on the mount would have been more effective, and less likely to be hijacked and twisted by Jon. Thanks.

  9. Bob says:

    Telling Faithheads their religious beliefs are crazy and rediculous, is like telling little kids their really isn’t a Santa.
    Only its adults and its really unattractive and screwy that they are as gullible as children.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      When our children were little, we never told them that santa was real, and it was a household joke. In fact, in the 1st grade, our son told the whole class that Santa was a joke, and he was sent to the principal’s office because he made some girls cry. We were proud of him. Not because he made the girls cry, but that he stuck to his guns, and told the principal the same thing.

  10. Bob says:

    Religion (cults) Comedy for the intelligent.
    Reality for the ignorant.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Bob 9:17 Great reference. The internet allows, “Athiests can tell Christians the Emporer has no clothes.”

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Not to worry Bob, there is the principal of the remnant. When non-belief thinks it has the upper hand, and their common adversary is reduced, they will feed on themselves. It would most likely start with the anarchists. That is human nature, and unavoidable. Your utopia does not exist, nor will it ever.

    • entech says:

      Love the reference back to the Josh McDowell and the picture of a church front saying, “There are some answers that can’t be answered by Google“. This true but a reasonable and critical use can find sufficiently different answers to give you thought and impetus to look further. Look deep enough and the truth will emerge and set you free of indoctrination.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Google is not a source of any information. It is only a search engine.
      Click on anything you want to hear, or tickles your ears,- – - – or not.
      Google is also a good tool to use in Biblical studies. Fast and effecient in Biblical cross referencing. It is what it is. It is how you use it. I use it a lot in refreshing and expanding memory on many topics.

      • Stan says:

        I always worried because I couldn’t do chapter and verse from the Bible, some memory problems associated with a history of extreme sleep apnea. I do know what the verse says and am able to quote it well enough to use a search engine to find it for my posting or when writing a talk. In this day and age a lot of people don’t know you can do that.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Yes Stan, good for that. Also for key words, and key phrases on anything. If not sure about the credentials of any author/ writer/commentator, the name, alma mater, publisher, history , associations, etc. will give a pretty good picture as to where and what the individual is all about, and where he/she is coming from.

  11. Bob says:

    This is also true for government corporate education, Jon.

    The teacher is the State clergy, but kids can fact check all info, in seconds, it makes State education obsolete.
    No one, not parents, not the State, has the right to tell us what to learn, or when to learn, get over it Statists.

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