Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Understanding Cognitive Dissonance and Information Control

Before moving on to Part III of Understanding Cognitive Dissonance, I wanted to explain a bit more about what Steve Hassan describes as Information Control.

From Information Control as listed under "Mind Control: The BITE Model" under the Freedom of Mind website Articles and Links Section, authored by Steve Hassan:

1. Use of deception
a. Deliberately holding back information
b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
c. Outright lying
2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
b. Critical information
c. Former members
d. Keep members so busy they don't have time to think
3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
a. Information is not freely accessible
b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
c. Leadership decides who "needs to know" what
4. Spying on other members is encouraged
a. Pairing up with "buddy" system to monitor and control
b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
a. Information about "sins" used to abolish identity boundaries
b. Past "sins" used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution


Note About the Ethical Use of Confession

Hassan is not decrying all confession of sin before God for sins committed as unethical. He is referring to the thought reform practice of confession wherein information confessed is used to shame, berate and manipulate followers in order to attain compliance with the group standard. God offers us forgiveness when we repent. Spiritual abusers and Pharisees do not.

We are all very human, and God works a miracle, even with our sins. Somehow, he works even the events that we find to be quite hopeless into opportunities to minister to others. When we REPENT, God forgives us and gives us an opportunity to grow in holiness and change our ways. Sometimes, we forget about the Blood that was shed for us and easily become blind to our own sin. Consider how we are told in 2 Samuel 12 that Nathan went to King David, describing David’s own sin to him, yet he did not recognize them until Nathan pronounced God’s message of judgment. My own sins hurt those that I love and they hurt the body, just as all of our sins bring reproach upon the Lord. When we sin, we forget about the wounds of our Lord Jesus, those He suffered to buy our redemption. Our sins are inconvenient, we stop seeing them, but others do not.

One of the most Christ-like people I ever knew said something provocative in front of a group of people. He said "My life is full of sin." In context, he was lamenting the difficulties and seeming paradox of wanting to be pure and holy before God, desiring to do God's will always, yet inevitably realizing daily that we fail. That which we want to do, we do not, and no good dwells in our flesh to which all believers are somewhat subject until we leave this life (Romans 7). And we get this so mixed up because the key to being a Christian rests not in our ability to be sinless (something we don't have) but in our realization of the forgiveness that God offers to us. Our strength is not found in our ability to be without sin but in our remaining in Christ.

If we have sinned, God offers us a very simple solution: repentance. This differs vastly from what Hassan refers to as the unethical use of confession to men as a form of sacerdotalism, or as a human mediator. In cultic groups, leadership never forgive sins and use them for purposes of manipulation. This is something vastly different from confession of one's sins unto God, sins that He remembers no more. Glory to God for his new mercies every morning! He is full of compassion and of great mercy, giving us so many opportunities to repent. Our shame becomes His glory when we do (Ps 4), and his strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9).