Shepherding/Discipleship Movement Survivor's Blog

The present-day impact of the Shepherding/Discipleship movement from the perspective of a former member of Morning Star International (now Every Nation Churches and Ministries).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Test

Well, my first exam in my Cults class is this week... it's hard to believe that the semester is going by so fast. I am enjoying it immensely, although I am finding that since this is a 200-level class, and I've done a fair amount of reading and research on this topic already, that I'm already familiar with how most of the various cults we've discussed so far have emerged through history. And there were a few times when I've had to bite my tongue - one notable example was when the instructor lectured that the Rosicrucians were founded by Christian Rosencreuz, who changed his name to Rosy Cross. No, no, no, NO!!! While this accurately portrays Rosicrucian legend, in reality Christian Rosencreuz was most likely the mythical literary invention of Johann Valentin Andreae, who is generally credited with writing the Fama Fraternitatis and the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreuz. One cannot really claim that Andreae single-handedly "founded" Rosicrucianism either, since it was more accurately a movement among a like-minded circle of European intellectuals of that period, including himself, Comenius and several others, which was soon driven underground after the Battle of White Mountain sparking the Thirty Years War. However, since I had already promised that I wouldn't attempt to come off as any kind of cult expert in class just because I happen to be a former cult member, I'll see if there is an appropriate way and time to recommend that the instructor get a copy of Frances Yates' The Rosicrucian Enlightenment.

Anyway, despite a few glitches here and there, the class is basically confirming what I had already hypothesized... that modern-day Bible based cults didn't just arise out of a theological (or theosophical?) vacuum, and that their belief systems usually can be traced to their source, which typically are not limited to the cult leaders' private revelations, whether or not they are characterized that way to their followers.

I did ask the instructor after class on Friday what he thought of extremist movements in the present-day church that sought to put together opposing theological or eschatological systems into one neat little package (like, hmm, I saw in Morning Star International/Every Nation). He's at least 25-30 years older than me, which means that neither of us are postmoderns, which also means that neither of us believe it's possible to really pull this off. However, he thought it crazy that anyone would even attempt it, while I think, crazy or not, it hasn't stopped people from trying. Well, what about the resurgent Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God, and other forms of dominion theology, which are postmillennial to the extreme in that they tend to presume to act for God, arising within and taking root in what is in the US a predominantly premillennial Pentecostal, evangelical and charismatic church? He shook his head and said, "It won't work."

Well, yeah, I totally agree. But the big difference in the picture between 1949 when the Latter Rain movement was discredited by the Assemblies of God, and today, is postmodernism. Postmodern philosophy, and specifically deconstruction, which can trace some of its key roots to alchemy, teaches that it is possible and indeed preferable to put opposing viewpoints together... though not to create a system but to demolish meaning, to get at the truth, which isn't really truth but an abyss of meaning devoid of human "constructs."

I can't tell you how many times I heard this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote while I was in grad school - it was almost a postmod mantra...

"The test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

Though one could say that Fitzgerald was not able to do this, nor anyone else for any length of time, without destroying himself. At the time he wrote this, he was in the process of drinking himself to death, and knew full well this was exactly what he was doing, too. He wasn't a first-rate mind according to his own definition and was acutely aware of it, and I argue that if this is what the world more and more agrees is a first-rate mind, we're in big trouble indeed.

But for the Lord. He alone is our hope.


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