How do cult members act?

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This article is one in a series looking at the issue of whether the message of William Branham is a cult. You are currently in the article that is in bold:

William Branham holds meetings with Jim Jones
  1. What is a cult?
  2. How do cult members act?
  3. Are the followers of William Branham in a cult?

Who joins a cult?

What are the reasons people are attracted to a cult? What factors make some people more vulnerable to cult involvement than others?

  1. The target population for most recruitment efforts by cults is young adults. Persons in this age group are frequently experiencing changes in their lives and are in various stages of transition. Cult converts are usually ordinary people who are experiencing specific and transitory difficulties in life. They may be disenchanted with a sociopolitical cause, suffering from academic frustration, or encountering career uncertainty or job dissatisfaction. There may be a recent history of disruption in relationships, such as a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse. Typically they tend to come from middle- and upper-middle-class surroundings.
  2. Prospective cult members are also individuals who can be characterized as seekers—people who are searching for religious experiences and for truth. The person who joins a cult often has a nominal religious background or no religious background. People from a religious background that are attracted to cults are young Christians lacking in discernment skills or members of evangelical churches who become dissatisfied or disillusioned with their traditional church life.
  3. Emotional and interpersonal factors predispose some people to cult membership. Among the converts to cults are those individuals who show some evidence of developmental and emotional problems over time. This type of recruit also has frequently experienced some kind of disjuncture in family relations, such as conflict with parents.
  4. Cults appeal to persons who are experiencing a sense of personal inadequacy, loneliness, or disappointment with life. There are also those individuals who exhibit strong dependency needs and who are attracted to the totalistic and communal groups in which decision making is minimal and life’s basic necessities are provided. Contact with the larger society is regulated and the demands of conventional existence can be by-passed or at least deferred.
  5. Cults also appeal to people who have a strongly idealistic orientation. Such people sincerely desire to be a part of a group or organization that is focused on change—personal transformation or societal change. To join such a group is to affiliate with a cause, to become linked with a network of true believers who are determined to achieve their objectives.[1]

Most cults are groups that are outside the mainstream of the prevailing, established religious tradition of any given society. Cult members view themselves as a minority group who share a common vision and who are dedicated to a person, an ideology, or a cause.[2]

How do message followers act?

It's quite common for the followers of William Branham to claim that he simply pointed them to Jesus Christ. But if this is true, why does the focus remain on William Branham? In fact, why is he still in the equation at all?

If a preacher or an acquaintance shared the Biblical Gospel with you, leading you to Christ, this person would simply be a sign post pointing you to Biblical salvation. They would not be an integral part of your walk with God.

William Branham's followers claim that he was just a sign post pointing them in the right direction, yet they deem him necessary in their walk with God. If William Branham is essential in your walk with Christ, he didn't truly point you to Christ, he pointed you to himself and claimed it was Christ. He didn't point you to the Bible, he became your Bible.

Anything between you and God is an idol. William Branham perfectly fits the description of an idol and his follows are oblivious to it. This is the silent deception within a cult - the Cult leader is essential to his faithful followers. Everything revolves around him, not Jesus Christ. Every "truth" comes directly from him, not your Bible. This is one of the subtle powers of spiritual abuse.

Even in the face of blatant Scriptural error, cult members cling desperately to their cult leader. They refuse to consider that something might be amiss in their paradigm of Christianity. They cannot bear the thought that their "prophet" might have lead them astray.

Why aren't William Branham's followers willing to consider all the facts proving him wrong? The spiritual paralysis of the message movement makes it very difficult for them to look into the issues with his teachings. These issues are not simply a slip of the tongue, these are serious issues that must be addressed, i.e., lies, fictitious vindications, failed prophecies, unscriptural teachings.

Observing message believers attempt to justify the presence of everything "Branham" in their lives, without admitting he is an idol in their heart, is both sad and troubling. Sad because we fully understand the brainwashing that goes on in the message, and troubling because it's so difficult to break that cycle.

Can you say goodbye to William Branham and move fully into Jesus Christ? If not, then he did not truly lead you to Jesus Christ.

What beliefs are common to all cults

Cults thrive on people who know little or nothing of the Bible and who readily replace logical reasoning with emotional decisions. They willingly pledge allegiance to charismatic leaders who claim to have the key to deeper truths and the answers to all the details of daily living.

  1. They follow the cult leader blindly.
  2. They forfeit individual freedom.
  3. They forsake friends and family to have a new “family.”
  4. They fear punishment for not conforming to legalistic rules and regulations.
  5. They feel misunderstood and persecuted by the outside world.
  6. They forego reason for emotion.[3]
     “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
     (2 Timothy 4:3)


Footnotes

  1. R. Enroth, “Cults,” ed. David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 302.
  2. R. Enroth, “Cults,” ed. David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 302.
  3. June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Cults: The Truth Twisters (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 5–7.


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