Monday, 15 December 2008

Equipping the Cults to Deal With the Church - 11

What the Former Cultist Needs

In spite of all I have said, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others become Christians and the new believer coming out of a cult faces challenges of his own. He has made a huge decision, the magnitude of which the Christian surely fails to appreciate. He has left behind friends, often relations, has changed loyalties, lost status perhaps, as well as reputation and standing in the community that, until recently, was his world. He comes with a mixture of excitement about the Good News of Jesus Christ, questions and understandable doubts about his decisions and hope that they have been right.

The best advice the new believer can have is to spend the next few years establishing firm Christian foundations in his life. This is so vital and yet the new believer, perhaps flattered by invitations to ‘share your testimony’, is often tempted to throw Himself into “ministry” and help others come out. He doesn’t need this right now and it won’t help Him become a fully born again Christian, with a knowledge of Christ that will take Him through life. Much needs to be unlearned and much to be learned and the best place to learn and grow is not the public platform. There is also often a subconscious agenda behind this eagerness to minister and help others ‘come out’, i.e. it reinforces the decision he has made and proves Him right. If others agree with you it is so affirming.

The Christian attitude to the former cultist so often reinforces this ill-advised ambition as the former Mormon/JW finds he has to prove his bona fides to everyone he meets by taking every opportunity to tell his story, publicly reject his past and work against his former friends. He is cast into the role of an “ex-Mormon/JW” and is forever known by what he was and not by what he has become or what he is becoming in Christ.

To put his roots down and establish a firm Christian foundation he needs to be welcomed and encouraged as would any other convert. His views and contributions need not be constantly treated with suspicion. When he struggles with issues, disagrees with people, questions things, or otherwise proves increasingly confident in his new found freedom it shouldn’t automatically be attributed to his background for which Christians, all-too-often, and all-too-often inappropriately “make allowances”. He has simply discovered how to think about his faith, something we all need to do more.

If he speaks warmly of his old friends and associates he need not be treated with suspicion, as though he were an un-rehabilitated cultist. His old friends were probably very nice human beings and, in light of the role his new Christian friends have thrust on him, he might be missing just a tad his old friends who simply accepted him for who he was. Why can't we do that?

Previous posts:

If These are Christians
The problem with the Church
The Problem with Anti-Cult Ministry
The Fear is Irrational
The Prejudice is Petulant
The ignorance is Inexcusable
The Indifference is Frightening
Christians and the Magical World-View
Ambiguity Tolerance
When They Look at the Church

Future Posts:

What Good is it if a Man Claims to Have Faith?

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