Some followers of Jesus have become victims of Christian mind control without realizing it. I’m not talking about covens of witches or a cabal of satanists. The mind control I refer to is any system that involves unscriptural manipulation of a person’s beliefs and behavior. This happens when group-think psychological tactics are used to shape an individual’s ideology and theology.
An eschatological example would be Jehovah’s Witnesses and their obsession with the 144,000 witnesses of Revelation 7:4. Or the Mormon fixation with creating what they call a “forever family” that survives death and continues in a celestial heaven where good Mormons go to procreate children and populate other planets. Other forms of religious mind control are designed to perpetuate financial sway over the money of members. Spiritual mind control creates a framework that destroys personal autonomy, creating a moral vacuum which can be manipulated by a powerful religious figure.
You may think I’m referring to something like a bearded, Eastern religion ascetic who manipulates followers with meditation and mantras. Or a separatist sect like the David Koresh cult that ended in a fiery explosion in 1993. You may also think of the mindless Moonies of the late 20th century who seemed to stand on every street corner in America selling flowers and raising money. But the most dangerous mind control may exist in your own church or prayer group. Here is what to look out for:
- An either-or mentality regarding the Bible, insisting that only the leader of the church or group knows what God is really saying. Add to this strong emotional reinforcement by lengthy, intense prayer sessions accompanied by a succession of spiritual revelations. This system is fortified by theological isolation, such as an attitude that “we’re right and everyone else is wrong.” Ecstatic utterances and a succession of prophetic revelations may be used to suggest that one or more leaders are hearing from God about specific moral, cultural, or political events. These may include how to prepare for a coming financial calamity, who to vote for in the next election, or detailed events that indicate the coming of Christ is imminent.
- Cohesive pressure to give financial support so that you’ll automatically get a hundred-fold blessing, so long as the money goes to a preacher who hears directly from God on a regular basis. Adding to the financial control is a certain dress code, lifestyle, or rule of behavior that requires top-down approval. The not-too-subtle suggestion is that by following certain rules laid down by the leadership, there will be blessing. Disobedience will bring retribution and suffering. When a religious leader is long on emotionalism and short on rationalism, some degree of mind control may be at work.
- Personality cults are the most egregious example of mind control among professing Christians. In most cases the websites of such leaders are short on details about education, publications, and position papers on belief. Control is maintained by the revelations the leader gets which discourage dissent. Questions about doctrine and practices are quickly shut down. An example would be questioning the biblicism of teaching that there are heavenly legal jurisdictions adjudicating events on earth. If a certain belief or practice doesn’t have historical church precedent it may be spurious or trendy. Unwavering trust in such new revelations may foster a religious system which is inspiring but won’t stand the test of time.
Not all religious mind control is intentionally evil. Some religious practices fall into error because a particular system of belief leans heavily on the pronouncements of an individual who has no theological oversight. Caution — if you find yourself being irritated by what I’ve just said, that may be the first indication that you are a victim of a splintered Christian teaching that suspends critical thinking. In short, you may be affected by mind-control Christianity. Heed the words of 2 Timorthy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (NKJV).”