Poker players are pot committed when they’ve put too much money into a hand to let it go. Even if they have bad cards or know they’re going to lose, they can’t get out. They attempt to bluff their opponent into folding and saving them from a bad beat. The same method is used in cults to persuade members to stay even when they know it’s wrong. The leader(s) create a false narrative of future salvation and rely on groupthink to keep the outliers in line. Rather than risk the shame of being deceived, followers rationalize their beliefs to maintain the appearance that all is well.
Psychologists call this Cognitive dissonance. It occurs when a person is confronted with facts that invalidate their belief’s and they choose to rationalize the “dissonance” in their mind. In the realm of religion and cults, this can lead to indoctrination. The desire to rationalize false information is potent. To be proven incorrect is to be shamed. It’s impressive and sad to see the mental gymnastics undertaken to avoid shame. Imagine living a life that is wrong but impossible to escape because it’s it’s so ingrained in you. The other side is bleak and empty. It’s this isolation that feeds cultish behavior. Dissonance and rationalization are key to maintaining indoctrination.
This writing will be a more serious than my previous work. It needs to be. People are losing their lives and eternal security over false beliefs they are unable to escape. I sat with some people stuck in a state of dissonance. Indoctrinated, they relied on empty platitudes, repetitious testimonies, and emotional manipulation to feed their narrative. To them, the truth is revealed not by reason and exploration, but by blind faith. Faith in man, not God. Because to have faith in God is to allow yourself the opportunity to say, “I don’t know”. It grieved me to see their personalities fade away into ingrained repetitions. An angry look and a crying eye. Each attempt at manipulation a reflection of years of indoctrination. Every sentence claimed the prophets truth. Not the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit.
But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except for the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11
How arrogant to say that you know without admitting that you don’t know. What you know is the manipulation you endured from the moment on that Sunday morning when you stood at that podium and said, “I know this church is true”. Your seven-year-old mind knows nothing except that your friends followed suit with the same rote script. Say it with force or timidity; the words never change. The same repetitious words said at seven, eight, nine and every year thereafter. Until you are so indoctrinated with what “you know” that you’re sent off to a place you know nothing about to talk to people you’ve never met. What do you know then?
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
It is idolatry to revere a book over God. Even if you believe that book to be about Jesus in America. When you pick up your tablet to find out what John 3:16 says because you haven’t spent time in God’s revealed word in the Bible, your lack of knowledge is laid bare. Your platform rests on God giving a book, but my belief rests on God giving Himself.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23
I fear for those stuck in cults. I fear that when and if they leave, they will accept atheism or agnosticism rather than the truth of who God is. I fear that when they think of God they will flashback to lies they were told and the shame of being deceived. I fear this because it happened to me.