Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Any group which deliberately and systematically controls or limits freedom of choice may come under the category of a cult, but the real identifying feature is a suite of ten commonly-used practices, for example the control of language, time, money, or relationships. Such practices pop up in all types of situations and not only religious ones; think of abusive personal relationships, political, even business contexts. In isolation or if just a few are used, they will be of concern, but when most or all are used to catch and keep people, then chances are high that it is a cult or a group which has turned cultic. Mind Control: Choosing between Truth and Deception, published in 1998, came originally from a thesis written for a Theology Degree, motivated partly by earlier personal experience, and partly from frequent random encounters with people connected in some way with cults, wonderful and precious people who had become diverted from what they could be in life due to the unethical influence of unscrupulous cult members or leaders. The book is about how and why people get involved in cults, how they may get out, how they might slot back into normal life without losing faith, and how they might be assisted. It shows the difference between how mind control works and how God works. It includes one hypothetical and two real life examples (including my own experience). This short, informative handbook will prove useful for anyone interested in the subject or who has had either direct or indirect involvement with a cult. The chapter “To Family and Friends of Victims” will help also any who have a family member or friend in a cult, or who have contact with someone struggling in life due to previous damage from cult involvement. The chapter ‘A Guide to Pastors & Christian Workers’ gives useful tips about how to look after ex-cultists and ideas for prevention, including how to protect a church from mind control. Written with respect for freedom of choice it offers a clear alternative, selecting just eight examples and ending with three relevant questionnaires: Are you under Mind Control? Are you susceptible to Mind Control? and How to identify a Cult.
My new books published this year, Living the Beatitudes Today and its Study Guide reveal how the Beatitudes encapsulate the law of the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus. Are the Beatitudes relevant and practical today? Absolutely! Living the Beatitudes Today explains why, and Living the Beatitudes Today Study Guide takes you further, looking at such things as text, location, the place of the Law, and practical applications. Living the Beatitudes Today describes how the Beatitudes are not skills to be learned but qualities of character to be received. We can’t will ourselves to keep them, but we can be guided and inspired by them through God’s grace. And knowing how they ‘work’ can bring new life. This book too will be helpful for those who may have been in cults or religious groups where the Beatitudes and other aspects of the Christian life were misrepresented or wrongly taught. Ultimately, these vital and poetic sayings of Jesus that He used to introduce His Sermon on the Mount, help bring us to the truth about who we are and who God is and how we are to relate to Him. As such, they are to be highly valued, treasured, and studied.