Posts Tagged ‘cults’

Has Someone You Love Had a Drastic, Unhealthy Personality Change?

July 29, 2018


Graphic:  passionate prayer dot org

Readers here may recall the estrangement story of Carey and Aurora that was posted several months ago.  Carey’s mom had requested to have the posts taken down.  She thought that there might be a chance at reconciliation.  So far, that has not happened.

It has been almost 8 months since that devastating estrangement from her son and daughter-in-law began.  That mom has gone through all the stages of grief.  Three months of crying almost every day and night.  Then, her grief was lifted when she showed up at their church and they rudely walked out of the church during the closing prayer time to avoid speaking with her.  Since then, she has been reading and  investigating what might have caused her son to have a 180 degree personality change that led him to completely abandon his family.

The son has also abandoned many of his friends (with whom he perceived as “siding with” his parents and sister).  Two of his three employees quit their jobs.  One said, “the last three months were not the same.”  That employee had spoken to Carey’s mom many months ago when she returned some items to her son’s office.  She purposely went there on a day when Carey usually isn’t working.  That employee admitted that Carey “wasn’t the same” and “was acting strangely.”  A few months later, Carey’s third employee also quit.

What is really sad is that Carey’s best man has also been rejected by him!  There is something really strange about all of this that probably goes beyond the original complaints given against the parents such as “unhealthy communication” and “crossing boundaries.”

Carey’s mom has suspected that there is cultish behavior behind it all.  However, Aurora and her parents consider themselves “devout Christians” (and appeared that way at first) so what kind of cult-like family members would encourage a newly married son-in-law to abandon his family, friends, and even his co-workers?

Cults are not always “so way out there.”   They can be very subtle; even non-recognizable as a cult at first.

However, they usually have one or more of the actions listed in the graphic below.

I recently recorded a People Magazine/ Investigation Discovery series on cults. [Note: Readers who are interested can view them at that link.]

So far, I have only had the opportunity to watch 2 of the episodes: Episode 5 – “The Army of God”, and Episode 6 – “The Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.”

Warning! Both are quite disturbing, especially that second one. The so-called “leader” got away with molesting children in that particular cult for over 7 years before a former member asked the FBI to investigate it! Truly awful!

Those types of cults are more recognizable (except to the victims) to outsiders.  They are more blatantly and  obviously wrong in their teachings.   In many cases, they can be seen as demonic.

However, there are cults that appear to be “good,” (at first), and are more subtle (at first) in their ways in order to hook people into them.

One of my favorite books to read and use as a reference in “So What’s The Difference” by Fritz Ridenour. I think that every Christian should read this book and have it on hand whenever questions come up regarding worldviews, faiths, religions, and cults and how they compare to Biblical Christianity.

I just happened to be re-reading chapter twelve “Nothing New Under the Sun” that exposes eleven more viewpoints that undermine, challenge or attack Biblical Christianity.

The section that describes “The International Churches of Christ (Formerly, The Boston Church of Christ)” (ICC Church) shares some details that possibly describe what Carey has gotten into through his marriage and the skewed beliefs that may have been taught to him.  Some details of the ICC Church (which has cult practices) could have been utilized by one or two persons in his life which could have possibly manipulated him to become estranged from family, former co-workers, and friends.

The chapter is too long to share everything, so I recommend getting the book! However, here are some important excerpts that reveal the typical manipulation techniques inherent in cults.

Briefly, the ICC Church is a relatively new, fast-growing and controversial church movement that has been accused by its numerous critics (many of the ex-members) of cultic practices, mind control and mental/emotional abuse. 83

As the church grew, the ICC church leader (Kip McKean) believed that all other churches were poisoned by traditions, compromised or apostate. Using an illogical interpretation of Revelation 2 and 3, he began teaching there should be only “one church in one city.” He also taught that churches not affiliated with the Boston church in each city were “not of God.” 89

Of course, biblical Christian ministries opposed McKean’s teachings. The ICC hired a church growth research firm which backfired on them because instead of showing the ICC to be a wholesome and healthy organization, the study revealed that the ICC was “producing in its members the very same pattern of unhealthy personality change” that had been observed in studies of other well-known manipulative cults, such as Hare Krishna and the Unification Church (the Moonies). 90

The study added that the data proved that a group dynamic operating in the ICC “influences members to change their personalities to conform to the group norm.” 91

Uh-oh!  That sounds exactly like what was done to Carey!

Of course, the church leader claims that the ICC was “making people over after the image of Jesus Christ.”  Mr. Yeakley’s (who did the study) reply to McKean was that Christ’s divine nature is reflected in individuals whose gifts differ, and their personality types should not change in such a way as to “become a copy of someone else.” 92

Was Carey convinced that he had to become similar to a copy of his wife, Aurora?

But there’s more very concerning issues!

New converts are not told to confess their sins directly to God, but also to their mentors who then pass the shocking and private details about their personal sins up the line to other officials in the church!  “A congregational ‘Sin List,’ if you will.” 104

Sounds more like a future blackmail list that could be used to prevent members from leaving.

Former members have reported that the typical experience for many converts is to be distanced from their old friends and even their families and drawn more and more into ICC church activities, ideas and priorities.

But there are even more lying, cult-like practices!

ICC members who tire of the constant pressure, badgering and demands to live up to ICC rules and regulations are told that, if they leave the church, they will go to hell. [HUGE LIE!]

Obviously, the ICC twists Scripture in such a way and harshly pressures members not to leave, that the victim recants the decision to leave out of guilt, fear and confusion. 105

Jesus taught His disciples to serve one another instead of “lording it over each other as the rulers of the Gentiles do” (see Matt. 20:25-28).

The Bible teaches the Christian to confess sins to God, who will cleanse and forgive (see 1 John 1:5-10).

The ICC’s skewed lessons on discipleship turns “salvation by grace through faith” into “salvation by faith plus works,” which directly contradicts Ephesians 2:8,9.

The system of one-over-one discipling and the control structures employed by Kip McKean are so fundamentally flawed and inherently corrupting that even good people with the best of intentions end up hurting others and being hurt themselves.” 113

Graphic:  Ex Church of Christ cult survivors

Carey’s mom thinks that his wife’s family practices some of the methods of the ICC church.  It doesn’t always happen in an established church environment.  Wrong-headed counseling by someone who may have just received a degree and may not be versed in the Berean way regarding discipleship, may tend to be the type to  “lord it over” someone who could be naïve or even deeply gullible.

Graphic:  hopcc dot com

H/T:  So What’s The Difference by Fritz Ridenour


83  Randy Frame, “The Cost of Discipleship?”:  Despite Allegations of Abuse of Authority, the ICC Expands Rapidly,”  Christianity Today (September 1, 1997), pp. 64-66, 88; Charles Anzalone, “That New Time Religion,” Buffalo Magazine section of the Buffalo News (March 26, 1995)

89  MacKean, subsections “Introduction,”  “Restoration in Boston,”  “The Twentieth Century Church” and “The Movement of God” in “Revolutions.”  Also see Upside Down Magazine (April 1994)

90  Flabil, Yeakley, Jr, ed., The Discipling Dilemma (Nashville, TN:  Gospel Advocate Pub. Co., 1988), p. 37.

91  Yeakley, Dilemma, p. 37.  See also Cannon, “Bean Town.”

92  Ibid., subsection “The Movement of God.”

104  Rick Bauer, Toxic Christianity — The International Churches of Christ/Boston Movement Cult (Bowie, MD:  Freedom House Ministries, 1994). n.p.

105  Joanne Ruhland, “Effective Evangelism:  Witnessing to Disciples of the ICC, Christian Research Journal (Fall 1996), p. 43.

113  Bauer, Toxic Christianity, p. 18.



Discernment Through Christ, With Love Incorruptible

May 3, 2018

On Monday, May 2, 2018, I watched a Dr. Phil show about a young woman who was brought into a cult group known as “The Church of Wells.” Readers can see several videos about this cult at YouTube.

Here is one video describing the two-part broadcast on this cult:

I saw the second broadcast which was mostly about the tragic story of the Grove family whose daughter has been there since 2013. She tried to escape four times.


A photo of their daughter before she was brainwashed and indoctrinated:

A photo after years with the cult:

It was truly heartbreaking and very sad to hear how desperately grieved the parents were over the mind control and indoctrination that made their daughter into a completely different person!  Apparently, she made it home one time but left and returned to the cult.  Sometimes, the mind control is so strong that it renders the victim helpless to break out of it.

The “church” building is creepy!

The “elders” are creepy!




Can “love” be corrupted?  I think so.  It can be corrupted,  by unregenerate people who utilize obviously extremely wicked, heinous and vile techniques and ideas on others, as well as those who are more sneaky and subtle in their “counseling” approach.  “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong.  It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”C.H. Spurgeon


You might think that Christians would know to avoid such obvious examples of cult behavior and severe indoctrination techniques (i.e. secretly drugging them through water given; plus food, bathroom and sleep deprivation, and the “deep dive” mind control methods) which were used on the victims at Wells.


But how about the more subtle cases of pulling someone away from their family and friends?


  1.  Through mind control
  2.  Anti-biblical indoctrination techniques (often disguised as “counseling”)
  3.  Making victims think that their previously good upbringing was somehow “bad” for them.
  4.  What about the churches who steer people away from the truth of the Bible?  There are so many of them!  And, the Bible warns us that the closer we get to the end times, many who aren’t discerning about such churches will be fooled.

That is where recognition of such errors is ESSENTIAL in order to avoid heresy and to utilize the discernment Scriptures in the Bible when any individual needs to, and should, evaluate what someone with possibly subtle nefarious intentions is doing to them!

Excerpt with some good advice and a warning:

Only the spiritual man (regenerate) possesses the knowledge of God’s will….because he has the mind of Christ.  Henry calls to our attention that it is through reading the scriptures that the spiritual man receives the knowledge of His will.

Before we move on we must add a word of caution from blogger and author Tim Challies.  Speaking on discernment in “How can I increase my spiritual discernment?” he wrote:

Some have mistakenly defined spiritual discernment as a God-given awareness of evil or good spiritual presences—the ability to tell if a demon is in the room. While some people may possess this capability, it is not the biblical meaning of discernment. Spiritual discernment ultimately has to do with wisdom and the ability to distinguish truth from error.

So – how do Christians grow in spiritual discernment?  Two ways.  By allowing the Holy Spirit to be their guiding light; likewise, thorough carefully studying the Bible.

What should we do to determine if a person’s teaching is unbiblical? We are commanded to test what’s being taught. In fact, Paul urges believers to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Likewise, John encourages us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” How does one test a spirit?  By reading the scriptures, in context, for that’s where Truth is found. Why is “testing” so important? “For many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) False prophets/teachers distort the truth….which is why the Bible refers to them as false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing.  It’s no exaggeration to say that a large number of charlatans knowingly—and without a smidgeon of guilt–lie through their teeth. Admittedly, examining someone’s teaching is no easy task.  But nowhere in Scripture are we told that it should be left to “professionals”; it is clearly our responsibility.

We mustn’t ignore the fact that any teaching that fails to line up with what the scriptures say is not from God.  And if the Bible’s not the source of his/her teaching, most likely its source is the “spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.”  Satan’s not called the father of lies because he’s a truth teller!

Far too many Christians rely on the discernment of other believers, like those of us involved in online discernment ministries. It’s okay to learn from each other (iron sharpens iron), but again, we must do as the Bereans did – test!  Regrettably, when it comes to testing for errors, a growing number of professing Christians deserve a failing grade.

Yes!   We must do as the Bereans did – test!

FYI, In a question and answer page at the Berean website, a pingback link to TalkWisdom’s post entitled “Syncretism Stew” is at the bottom of the page.

My prayer continues that through the leading of Jesus Christ in my life that I would be corrected when needed in my writings here and most of all, be led to write Biblically accurate and discerning posts for as long as I run this blog.

I also pray, dear readers, that you each would be led towards discovering the truth within God’s Word through diligent study of the Scriptures so that each of you can earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

In Jesus,

Hat tips to all links.

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