If religious truths are true, then they should be followed by all. But, if religious truths are relative in human devleopment, then they should remain 'in their place". I am no expert, but it seems to me that since there has been research that does not appeal to the religious realm for human developemnt, then religon is an apendage, a periforal, but unnecceary "extra", as there is "no truth but God's truth". There is no "special revelation, only general revelation. And general revelation is not defined necessarily within the relgious "confines" of church and religious community.
Religion gives meaning, defines values and give man an outside source of authority. But, modern man knows that humans develop apart from religion and traditon can be understood in many different ways, as cultural or familial identification factors.
I got an e-mail from a friend today that told me of her struggle ot overcome an abusive religous environment. She talked of moving away and thinking she would never recover. She revealed how protective she and her husband were toward religious environments and religious "purposes". She encouraged me to walk carefully in regard to "belonging to a religious community", or looking for affirmation within that sort of environment. She said that her healing came from outside of religion and the community of faith, from a friend that wasn't connnected to religion. I think she has fully recovered, as she sees things clearly, now.
In her book, "Twisted Scriptures", Mary Alice Chrnalogar, a international recovery counselor of abusive discipleship programs and abusive churches, has many "signposts" that signify an abusive spiritual environment. She develops the history of the discipleship/spiritual mentoring program and shows the ill effects upon the naive and trusting.
I find that most evangelical and all fundamentalist teaching that I have been exposed to, is prone to this sort of abuse. Many do not recover their individual identity and some have break-downs because of authoritarianism, and distorted views of spritiuality. I know many who have experienced such abuse and wonder how many suffer under thei ill-effects of such environments.
This friend's husband also compromised his career because of such "commitments". Commitments that are useful for leadership and their goals, use terms such as: "covenant", "total surrender", "consecration", "full commitment", "wholehearted", "sanctified", and many other such terms. The definitions of these terms, of course, are "understood" best by leadership. And one that wants to be so commited will do whatever the leader requires to be "approved" to have passed the test to recieve the "sanction' of the "special intiation" into the religous community of faith. This is a CULT! GET OUT!
Cults breed undue dependence, and demand obedience, as their authority is derived from God, not man, or so they assert. Cults do not allow independent thinking, critical analysis, or academic development. Such "outside sources" might challenge the 'status quo" that would change the very authoritarian structure, undermining the leaders power and control over others.
Individuals need to find thier unique gifts and interests and follow these. This will be a defense against those that wish to prey upon those who seek outside approval. Everyone should come to a place where they will be settled in 'who they are', as innately gifted and created. And say with me:
"I will be, who I will be, not who some else thinks I should be and I will do what I will do, not what someone else determines for me to do. I will be free."
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