Examining the Examiner
Mike's organization, Info Cult, strains at gnats while swallowing camels, providing safe cover for mainstream dangerous cults that devastate humanity through false religious pretense and authority. His criteria for identifying cults condemn the Lord Jesus Christ, because Mike cannot tell good from evil, which is a matter of heart and motive. We speak so that he might recognize his need, and then come to know the difference.
Paul wrote to Mike Kropveld:
It is time, not only to examine cults, but to examine those who examine cults, to see what is there according to the Master Assembler and the One by Whose blood all participants have been purchased; they rightfully belong to Him.
You appear to do a thorough and objective job of analyzing cults, given the parameters and tools with which you work to identify ones that are problematic and potentially harmful. The problem is that those parameters and tools fall entirely short of the Heavenly model and criteria. You end up with results that are greatly misshapen; the equivalent would be using a net that catches minnows and lets man-eating sea monsters through. I will proceed to illustrate.
If, instead of cults, I were to judge various soils to determine what constitutes unhealthy or bad soil, I must first begin by having an intimate knowledge and understanding of healthy soil. I must know what it looks like, how it functions, and what manner of beneficial interactions it has with its environment. Once I am on familiar terms with what is an ecologically balanced and proper soil, I will then have an objective standard by which I can identify deviations and unhealthy conditions.
If, on the other hand, all I know are sick soil conditions, then I might be able to identify some specific diseases, but I will be unaware of, and incapable of assisting in, restoration to true soil health. I will have no connection to, or idea of, what that is, or how it works. I will therefore deem acceptable what is, in reality, unacceptable.
What I am saying is this: All that you know, and that in a very limited way, is what is wrong. That is because you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ, Who alone is right. When trying to identify harmful cults, unless you are personally intimate with the “gold standard,” the gathering together of the saints in Christ Jesus, being part of His body, you cannot rightly assess and identify what are the crooked, poisonous, and unholy gatherings of men, which pose as His body. In other words, you must know the Real to identify the counterfeit. How can it possibly be otherwise?
You may, along with many others, be able to point out some gross examples of sick behaviour and assembling, such as Roch Theriault’s group, but you do not raise the alarm over the far more prevalent, devastating and strangely hidden, lethal works of men, those that come in acceptable and even highly respected forms. Jesus and His apostles warned of this:
“And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14 EMTV).
“And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15 MKJV).
Examples of such works: The Roman Catholic Church and her many “Protestant” daughters, the Mormons, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are highly esteemed among men, but abomination in the sight of God. I will provide you with more evidence from God that this is so in a link further on.
Mike, do you disagree with this assessment so far? Do you believe the Bible as the authoritative, documented Word of God? Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ, Who inspired the writers of Scripture, and gave them the prophecies regarding His coming? I am not speaking of knowing Him as a historical figure, but as the present, living, ascended Lord God, raised from the dead, Who now gives His Spirit to those who obey Him. Do you hear His voice? Does He inform you of what is right, and what is not? Have you forsaken all for His sake? Do you presently walk with Him, being hated by all men for His Name’s sake? If you cannot answer these things in the affirmative, then you do not yet know or have the Standard within as you ought, and need to, in order to judge what is a false and deadly cult. In fact, not having these things yourself, you do not have life, and are not able to see what is before you:
“He that has the Son has life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12 EMTV).
Not having the life of Christ, you are part of the problem, not the Solution:
“The one who is not with Me is against Me, and the one who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30 MKJV).
The Lord does not condemn you for being blind and dead in your sins. He laid down His life and took it up again to reconcile you to God and to bring you to life, raising you from this state of unknowing death. What is happening here is that you are being served notice that this is the way things are; this is reality. The first order of business in the Kingdom of God is the call to repentance, not only to the world at large, but for you, personally. He would not have you condemned, but turned to Him as your rightful Lord and Savior, to be reconciled to God and to be judged (corrected) so that you might then judge righteously, as He wills.
Condemnation does not come with the Light, but with the rejection of the Light:
“Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remains” (John 9:41 EMTV).
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the light, because their works were evil” (John 3:19 EMTV).
Jesus Christ is not about doctrines or systems of worship and men’s gatherings. There is no life in those things. Men’s systems breed self-righteousness and death. All of them are a dead-end. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the River of living waters that flow from the innermost being of those that believe on Him. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is what Truth and Reality are all about. There is no other Name given under Heaven whereby men must be saved. We know that He is true, and testify because of His faithfulness.
If you do not know that the Lord is alive, and that He is manifesting Himself as He began to after His resurrection, at Pentecost, and as He said He would continue to do to the end of this world, then you must necessarily conclude that all those claiming to represent or follow God according to this testimony are bogus. If you do not believe the recorded words of the Lord and His apostles, then you should categorize any that gather together using His Name, and the Scriptures as the holy Record of God, as deluded and possibly dangerous cults. This you do not do, do you?
However, if you do believe these words, you must differentiate between who has the reality of the Lord’s Presence, and who is faking it. And if you knew the Truth, you would know that you are identifying only the tip of the iceberg as to what truly exists of deluded and dangerous cults, which are that way not because they believe the Lord and the Bible, but because they say they do but do not. They are doing their own thing, not His.
While you do not know the Lord, if you are able to admit that there is such a thing as bedrock, knowable Truth, and that God is willing and able to cause one to know it by causing that one to know Him Who is the Truth, then there is some basis on which we can reason together. If you are not willing to admit as much, what is the point of anything, and how can one know anything for sure? Let everyone do as they will, which they are already doing. If any defraud others in the name of their religion, let the legal authorities, who are there to deal with criminals, punish the thieves, murderers and maniacs, such as Roch Theriault. Meanwhile, “let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” However, God says that we should awaken to righteousness; evil associations will certainly corrupt what is good. The question then remains: What is evil, and what is good?
The Bible is the one authoritative Book from God that has a record informing us of, and pointing us to, the Answer to this question. We do not need to rely on subjective and varying analyses, conjectures, “hope and a prayer.” We can have the real thing. If you read the Gospels you will see for yourself that Jesus was ever using the Scriptures to verify His words and teachings. There is a place of understanding and certainty. We can know and do the same as Christ because He is with us, as He promised, and we have done so.
In The True Marks of a Cult we give you to know what deviates from God’s standards of what is good and right in Christ by Scriptural, non-fuzzy, non-debatable, nonpartisan guidelines. We give the clear testimony of the Lord and His saints, not the opinions of men. Read this paper and you will have evidence, without being able to deny it, of what is a deadly cult in truth and reality. This testimony is given for the benefit of all. Here is how we introduce the paper:
“Many are the definitions and descriptions of a ‘cult.’ The determination of what or who is a cult is invariably subjective. We have taken the term as it is commonly meant and used today (as a condemnation of religion not perceived to be true or legitimate), and have identified the essence of it by contrast to the lives and examples of the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, as recorded in Scripture. This is a true definition and legitimate determination of the religious manifestations of good and evil in the world.”
Mike, I submit to you that your work, as much as it might help a few people, does far more harm by allowing everyone, beginning with yourself, to remain at sleep, unconscious and unaware of the cult of death perpetrated by the manifold religious organizations and works of men. Your criteria and judgments speak against the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior, and His ways, while providing refuge and defense for those that stand against Him. Though they profess His Name, they deny Him in all their ways. This is not good. You need to repent.
Here is an example, from your literature, of how your criteria judge the Lord Jesus Christ to be a potentially dangerous cult. Your characteristics are in blue, followed by my comments in black:
“Info-Cult listed criteria to identify cults with the potential to cause physical or psychological harm to their members. The following characteristics distinguish these groups:
“· The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.” The disciples continued to follow Jesus Christ after forsaking everything to do so, and even when all others abandoned Him because His sayings were too hard. By your reckoning Jesus Christ is therefore a dangerous cult of the first order, as He is still alive and commanding “excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment” to Himself to this day (as we are evidence).
“· The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act and feel. For example, members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders may prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline children, and so forth.” Jesus told Matthew to leave his job, as He did with Peter, John, and their brothers, even calling them to leave their fathers behind. They immediately obeyed Him. He has called us in similar fashion, and instructs us in all the things you mention. We likewise teach the same by Him to others that believe.
Furthermore, there are numerous denominations, like several Dutch, Christian or Netherland, Reform, and United Pentecostals, for just a few of many examples, that exercise the very dictations you cite here (though not in Christ). How is it they escape your attention? How is it you allow yourself to focus on small, sensational groups, thus unwittingly giving license to the greater, such as Hutterites, for another example?
“· The group is preoccupied with making money. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group (for example, collecting money for bogus charities).” This is difficult to apply to the Lord, or to the apostles, though some might accuse such a thing, as they have surely done, and of far worse. Why do you think Christ said that if they called the Master the devil, how much more will they do so with His disciples? That is how the saints, those testifying of the Lord in His righteousness and purity, ended up as martyrs.
Now what about the Roman Catholic Church? Have you red In God’s Name, by David Yallop, for example? Are you not judging petty thieves as criminals while ignoring the butchers that go about the streets daily devastating society? Perhaps you are Catholic, Mike?
“· The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities.” The religious authorities asked Jesus by what authority He spoke. His apostles were also not believed by the religious authorities and were told by them not to preach in His Name. The apostles did not listen to men, but were accountable and faithful to God in discharging their duties. So it is to this day. Jesus Christ has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Here is what Peter replied to those who presumed to exercise authority, by virtue of appointment by Rome, no less (read the complete report in Acts 4):
“But Peter and John spoke right back, ‘Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question–we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard’” (Acts 4:19-20 MSG).
At the same time, Jesus and His disciples did teach to honor the secular authorities of the day, provided they did not presume to interfere with, or contradict, God’s Law.
“· Members’ subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.” Jesus would not receive or talk to His mother and brothers when they came to persuade Him to leave His ministry and His walk with God (in other words, “Please quit Your cultic activities!”). Jesus warned His followers they would face the same thing, and that those of their own households would be their greatest enemies. He also said that those who forsook families would be greatly rewarded in this life and in the life to come. Peter, John, and their brothers left their fathers and their occupations to follow Jesus when He spoke to them, saying, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Do your criteria not condemn Him?
“· Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.” It was written in the Book of Acts that the believers sold all they had and brought the proceeds to the apostles, their leaders. It is also recorded that one couple, Ananias and Sapphira, tried to keep some money back for themselves, while presenting it as though they were handing everything over to God. For this lie God slew Ananias, who dropped dead on the spot, and then three hours later, when Sapphira came along not knowing what happened, Peter told her that she would be joining her husband after she admitted to conspiring to tempt God. She also died on the spot.
After that, it is written, the believers were all together with one mind, and no one else dared join themselves to them; through the fear of God being on all, the people did magnify the saints. Members of Christ are naturally separated from the world, though they freely interact with it (how else can we be sent to preach the Gospel?), but to those pretending at faith, they will, and do, certainly use your list of characteristics in order to accuse the saints of such things as requiring believers “to live and/or socialize only with group members.” Knowledge without wisdom or understanding is naturally at enmity with God and is deadly to man.
Mike, with the broad brush of your criteria, you paint both good and evil alike.
“· Questioning, doubt and dissent are discouraged or even punished. Mind-numbing techniques (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines) are used to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).” Jesus called those religious leaders who were offended by what He said “blind leaders of the blind” and counseled His disciples to “leave them alone.” Paul wrote that those who denied that the things he wrote were the commandments of the Lord were ignorant. While they did not punish doubt or dissent, neither did they have fellowship with darkness. They reproved it, which is another reason darkness accuses the Lord and His disciples of the things you list here.
An axe or the Bible can be used for good or for evil. Perhaps it is not your intention, but does it not appear that you fault, carte blanche, meditation and speaking in tongues, both of which are promoted by the Word of God?
Let it be known: There has been a purpose and place for darkness and the accuser. How will the Real and True be known, unless there is the false and the liar that comes against it? Light is shone into darkness. There has been a purpose and place for everything, including your work. However, having now heard the truth, it is time to get with the program, and be part of the Solution. Partway or false weights and measures do not make the grade, and though you may find receptivity and praise among men, these are totally unacceptable to God:
“Unequal weights are disgusting to the Lord, and false scales are not good” (Proverbs 20:23 BBE).
Read The True Marks of a Cult. Jesus has not taught us to pray in vain:
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10 MKJV).
The Lord our God has come for that very purpose:
“For this reason, go on waiting for Me, says the Lord, till the day when I come up as a witness: for My purpose is to send for the nations and to get the kingdoms together, so that I may let loose on them My passion, even all My burning wrath: for all the earth will be burned up in the fire of My bitter passion. For then I will give the people a clean language, so that they may all make prayer to the Lord and be His servants with one mind” (Zephaniah 3:8-9 BBE).
“The lion has roared. Who isn’t afraid? The Almighty LORD has spoken. Who can keep from prophesying?” (Amos 3:8 GW)