Monday, November 26, 2007

Sacred Science (Lifton 101)

The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. 

Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or all humanity, is likewise above criticism. Many such leaders have patterns of avoiding accountability and demonstrating aggression towards critics. Leaders and their religious followers often have the appearance of accountability to a presbytery and an internal church government, but often the systems have been designed to avoid all accountability. Presbyters are often friends, associates or subordinates of the group leader(s). 

The article “Authoritarianism in the Church” by Steve Martin that appears on the Battered Sheep website explains some of these aspects of the “sacred science.” (This article also appears in the Founders Journal 15 (Winter 1994). Martin states this specifically:
First, the sin of authoritarianism exists when pastors and other office holders speak with binding authority where God Himself has not spoken in His written Word. Second, the sin of authoritarianism exists when pastors and other office holders usurp the Lordship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the lives of God's people by deciding the will of God for them where Scripture is silent.
The excellent article examines the development of authoritarianism and offers resources to help Christians through the process of repentance and healing. Through the sins of idolatry, prayerlessness, unbelief, lack of love for the sheep and pride, shepherds fall into the trap of authoritarian patterns of behavior. Congregations also promote the development of the sin of authoritarianism through their own tendency towards idol-worship, unbelief and the fear of man (both of fellow congregants and the church leadership.

Adapted from and expanded upon from the original source, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brain Washing in China by Robert Jay Lifton. 

In chapter 22 entitled "Ideological Totalism," Lifton details the major defining techniques that hallmark surreptitious manipulation, formulated from his experience working with prisoners who survived a Chinese brainwashing program while serving in the Korean War.