A Case of Global Manipulation? . . . (Sabbath)

March 17th, 2012

A Case of Global Manipulation?!

 

Created Free!

 
Our benevolent Creator has fashioned humankind as free moral agents. Among the most treasured gifts that He has bestowed upon His intelligent creation is our capacity of free choice. The Holy One of Jacob calls upon His people to exercise their God-given gifts of intellect, faith, sound judgment and free will. He has endowed us with a precious ability to think for ourselves and form our own studied opinions. The LORD says: “Come now, and let us reason together . . .” (Is. 1:18)


The freedom of human will presupposes a free conscious choice at any given moment. Ultimately our choices determine the consequences that make up our lives on this planet. What happens when we surrender these precious gifts of intellectual and spiritual freedom to the influence, charisma or even pressure of someone or something else? More often than not, when we neglect to form our own opinions based on the available information, experience and acquired knowledge, we find ourselves in the position of being manipulated by others.


We have all met people who may be called manipulative. Perhaps, even some of us have traces of this quality in our characters and need to ask the Almighty to set us free from it. We can also agree that being around manipulative individuals is not among the top things we would rather do on a day-to-day basis. Manipulation happens among family members, coworkers, friends, and in many other settings. It is common on personal as well as corporate and national levels.


Just like stronger or smarter members of the same team may try and exploit the weaker ones to their own personal advantage, so do the more powerful nations exert some undue influence over their less advanced partners as well. In rare instances manipulation may reach distorted proportions and grow to become abusive. Both phenomena, namely manipulation and especially abuse, are ugly and need to be addressed head on. They acquire special hideousness when found in the midst of purportedly spiritual entities such as churches, for example. Does spiritual manipulation or even abuse ever happen in the Church?


Boston Church of Christ


In 1972 the 14th Street Church of Christ (renamed the Crossroads Church) recruited a young freshman from the University of Florida named Thomas 'Kip' McKean. The son of an admiral, McKean was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is claimed to have been named after his ancestor Thomas McKean (a signer of the Declaration of Independence). McKean completed his degree program while training at Crossroads and afterward served as campus minister at several other mainline “Churches of Christ”. Seven years later, in 1979, he was offered the pulpit and position of campus minister at a struggling Boston-area congregation called the Lexington Church of Christ. Under McKean's leadership the church was renamed as “Boston Church of Christ” and soon witnessed rapid growth from 30 members at the time of his arrival to around 3,000 in just about 7 years.


By 1988 the Boston Church of Christ had become more of a movement than just a single congregation, with satellite churches in more than eight cities worldwide. Although the global Church of Christ could boast some great numbers of people joining their ranks each year, two existing church members were usually leaving its ranks per every three newcomers. In 1994, while the church grew by 40,000 members about 20,000 people left the Movement. Many ex-members could be found complaining about the heavy-handed authoritarian style of Church leadership that tended to be very intrusive into almost every sphere of the congregants’ lives. Some of them went so far as to claim that they had been spiritually abused by the Church.


As is often the case with cults and charisma-driven Churches, the high respect for authority granted to their leaders combined with the leadership’s fanciful interpretations of the Scripture produce dictatorial type of relationship between the sheep and their overbearing shepherds. Spiritual abuse often occurs and goes unquestioned as high respect is vested in the leaders' knowledge and ability to interpret various passages in the Bible.


Evangelical authorities on cults, like James Sire (Scripture Twisting, InterVarsity Press, 1980) and H. Wayne House (Doctrine Twisting, InterVarsity Press, 2003) indicate that spiritual abuse thrives on the erroneous or blatantly false interpretations of Biblical passages when they are read out of context, misread, and misapplied. The Boston Movement was not an exception from this rule by any means. In 2002 the great guru of the movement, Kip McKean, was forced to resign from his self-imposed role of the “Leader of the World Sector Leaders.” Since then the International Church of Christ (ICOC) has disintegrated into largely independent congregations that still maintain some connection among each other.


What is of interest to us is that a team of researchers conducted psychological and other field tests with members of the Boston Church of Christ. The head of the research, Flavil Yeakley reports that the members tested "showed a high level of change in psychological type scores", with a "clear pattern of convergence into a single type.” The results of his findings were pointing in the direction of the fact that all the tested members of the congregation were evidencing the tendency toward the same personality type.


In other words, by surrendering their God-given gift of freedom to think and make decisions for themselves and allowing the church to dictate their very thought patterns and beliefs, these individuals were becoming a convenient group of people for mass manipulation. They were all converging into the same type of personality. Aware of the research’s findings, Kip McKean retorted that Jesus Christ Himself must have had the same type of personality. Hence, in his opinion, every member’s transformation into the same personality type was the will of God. What do you think?

 

Worldwide Spiritual Manipulation


However sad and pathetic the case of the Boston Church of Christ may be, in my opinion, it pales into insignificance in comparison with the worldwide manifestation of the most brazen and longest lasting occurrence of mass manipulation. Do you want to know about it?


In our previous studies together we have touched on some of the more blatant cases of scripture twisting by the “well-meaning” church fathers and other people responsible for maintaining “a proper order” and single-mindedness in the Church. We saw that passages such as I John 5:7-8, Matthew 28:19 and others were simply inserted into the text of the New Testament manuscripts with the view of supporting various dogmas of the Church. Today we will briefly outline another instance of deliberate misapplication of scriptural texts that has flourished within Christendom for a long time indeed.


We know full well that in the spiritual realm of things, everything may be roughly divided as falling into two very distinct categories: (1) genuine articles created and endorsed by the Almighty and (2) their counterfeits, produced by the enemy of humankind, the Devil. According to the Good Book, the LORD of Heaven has a people separated by God for the express purpose of revealing His glory to the rest of the world. In “Isaiah” He calls them “My witnesses to declare the LORD’s glory to the ends of the Earth.” The intimate relationship that exists between God and His people is portrayed by means of an analogy of the ties that bind a loving husband and his wife, a beautiful and pure woman. Since God has a people, Satan must have the same. The devilish counterfeit, however, is depicted in the Bible as a profligate and unchaste woman, called “Babylon the Great.”


Ever since the ancient times, after the Church deliberately chose a path that would take her far away from her Jewish roots and faith in One God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, she has been working without stint trying very hard indeed to convince the world that she has now replaced God’s true monotheists as the chosen people of the Lord. In this prolonged spiritual warfare, the Church has spared no efforts, taken no prisoners and showed no pity either. Hundreds of thousands of Jews and their Messianic brothers have perished at the hands of Catholic Inquisition and Protestant pogroms.


When the French Revolution inflicted a deadly wound to the Mother Harlot in 1798, the mantle of leadership was picked up by the burgeoning world of Protestantism that continued in their Mother’s footsteps when it came to wresting the Bible to their own ecclesiastical ends. One of the passages that had to be “twisted” was the one contained in the Book of Revelation, chapter 12.


Revelation 12


Chapter 12 begins by describing two stunning signs that appear before John the Revelator’s eyes: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. . .” (Rev. 12:1-3) – Now, the identity of a scary-looking dragon is explained in the subsequent verses. We are given to understand that he is no other than “the Devil and Satan.” But who is the chaste and pure woman standing on the moon and clothed with the light of the sun?


Catholic Take . . .


Her identity has been interpreted differently by many theologians. The first ones to try their elucidating pen were the Catholics, of course. According to the Catholic understanding of this chapter, the woman is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, naturally, gave birth to Jesus of Nazareth. This interpretation is childishly inadequate and we will not spend too much time debunking it. There are a number of things that simply sweep this exegesis away.


(1) First the twelve stars around the woman’s head represent the leadership of the Messianic Jewish Movement organized by Jesus; Mary was not even part of the twelve disciples, let alone their leader. (2) Second, the text tells us that after the woman gave birth to a male child the Dragon was spewing a massive quantity of persecution against her, depicted by “a great flood” coming out of his mouth to engulf her. The Virgin Mary was never persecuted by the Devil, whose long arm of “injustice” was the Pagan, and later on, Papal Rome. (3) Third, the woman is then transported by God into a secluded place where she is nourished for the duration of a long prophetic period of 1260 days. This time period is mentioned in the Bible seven times and represents an actual time span of 1260 years. I don’t think you believe that Mary lived that long! (4) And fourth, the text speaks with undeniable clarity about the rest of the offspring of the woman. Our dear friends within the Catholic Kingdom staunchly maintain that Mary remained a virgin even after Jesus’ birth. The text, however, speaks in some unequivocally earthly, procreational terms in reference to her offspring. The word used here is, in fact, the one from which our term “sperm” comes from. Although our Catholic friends may have many crutches to prop their doctrines with, they have no real theological legs to stand on, especially when it comes to passages as this one!


Protestant Take . . .


According to Protestant understanding of things here, the chaste woman represents the Church. Whether it is their cherished denomination or the Universal Invisible Church, does not really make that much of a difference, - they are still firmly in! This exposition of the biblical text is also woefully inadequate!


To begin with, if we all concur that the male child, spoken of in the text, stands for Jesus Christ, then the woman simply cannot stand for the Church. The Church never gave birth to Jesus. If anything, it was Jesus Christ who gave birth to Church (this statement is also incorrect because it was never Jesus’ intention to establish anything that may be termed “church.” See our studies on Matthew 16:18). It was the people of Israel through whom the promised Messiah appeared on this earth. Therefore, if one is honest in his approach to the biblical text, the only entity that fits perfectly the image of a chaste woman in Revelation 12 is the people of Israel.


Secondly, the dragon is enraged with the “rest of the woman’s offspring.” Who are the rest of the offspring of the Jewish people? Are they pagans playing church, all the while worshipping a three-headed idol of Trinity, trampling on God’s immutable Law and persecuting His covenantal people? Are they? You can clearly see the absurdity of this question, and yet, this is what the Churchianity (Christianity) has been spoon-fed by their theologians for millennia.


The chapter concludes with the following statement: “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17)- Who are the people who keep the commandments of the Holy One of Jacob and testify to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel? Is not the most natural, logical, biblical and non-twisted answer is: the community of the Jewish monotheists who have embraced Jesus as the Messiah of Israel and the King of the Jews? That’s exactly what the Bible is seeking to convey to us! The great news is that the entrance into this community of faith is wide open to all those who worship the Rock of Israel and desire to walk in the light of His Torah! Where do you stand today?


Conclusion:


The truth of the Word of God is vindicated in the eyes of those who search for it. Instead of approaching biblical texts wearing thick horn-rimmed glasses provided by various church theologians, we are to come to the text without our own human agenda and receive its message just as the Lord intended. The text of Revelation 12 is among a number of other biblical passages that have been twisted by both the Roman Catholic and later Protestant churches in order to bolster their respective claims to legitimacy. They all would love to be seen by the rest of the world as a pure and chaste woman irrespective of the fact that for countless ages they have worshiped gods other than the God of the Bible and violently persecuted His true monotheists, the Jewish people and their Messianic brothers.

Our Messianic Jewish Ministries call on every thinking individual not to surrender their God-given ability to think and make sound decisions for themselves! The LORD does not desire anyone to perish, but longs for all of His children to come into the knowledge of His truth. Please, study the evidence and draw your own conclusions! This way you are almost guaranteed not to fall prey to manipulators thriving amidst prevailing ignorance and apathy of Christendom!


May God’s peace and blessings be yours in abundance! Thank you for enduring with us to the end! Shalom!

 

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[1] Flavil Yeakley (ed.), The Discipling Dilemma (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1988), p. 39