When a Cult Came to My Christian College

When a Cult Came to My Christian College

I was nineteen and naive to the ways of life when a cult came to my Christian college. At the time, I was fresh to my first out-of-home experience with university life.

Since I was out of my local town element, I knew I needed a community to plugin to. So I found a group of people that seemed fun-loving, mentioned God frequently, and hung around the cafe sipping espressos.

Ah, the quintessential college life.

And when you’re a young college student with a faith-based perception, this appears like everything you could want in a community. Oh yeah, and did I mention that most of these people had cars and I didn’t? Definitely a bonus.

After about two months of cafe trips around town and around the town excursions, I was invited to a meeting at a local Panera.

When the invite was thrown my way, I thought, what could go wrong? Panera sandwiches are amazing, the company was what I had grown accustomed to, and it seemed kind of exclusive. As in, not all of the people we hung out with as a group were invited.

The group was led by an attractive and charming man named Drew who was nearing forty, but most of us never paid attention to this critical detail, coupled together with the other critical detail that he didn’t actually attend our college as a student.

At the exclusive Panera meeting, Drew recounted the wonders of the somewhat mysterious leader, Jerry. I couldn’t help but get the impression during the meeting that Jerry was perceived to be more special than us. He survived a car accident that almost snuffed out his life and Jerry was the chosen one of God; or at least, so we were told. 

 

 

 

 

Assignments were then delegated to the participants at the meeting. We were told that Jerry’s work was of vital importance to the work of Christ. The Bible would always be there–but Jerry’s work–Jerry’s work needed a careful transcription process by us all to preserve his special words. I heard one of the participants say, “Studying his work is more powerful than reading the Bible.”

After the speel from handsome Drew and his couple of sidekicks, I got the drift that this was a cult.

Talk of living together in “community living” for the sake of serving Jerry onto God was the cherry on top of the heaping ice cream cone that screamed, “This is a cult!”

As my nineteen-year-old brain didn’t have a fully developed pre-frontal cortex yet, I spouted off whatever tongue and cheek barbs that floated into my mind at the time.

“So, when are moving to the commune?” And “When should I get my tattoo with my number on it?”

I know there were other similar comments I interjected into the cult recruitment meeting.

In case you were wondering, I was never invited back.

When I met up with my mentor in the car a week or two after the incident I said, “I think I went to a cult meeting.”

“Really? A cult meeting. What makes you think that?”

“Well,” I recounted the details. “They placed a figure in such a lofty position where they could do no wrong, almost as if he was a messiah figure. 

Their focus is on this guy Jerry who I haven’t met but I’m already supposed to love,

Jerry’s works are elevated above the Bible and taken with more authority, 

we all have to think the same way,

and we’re all supposed to live in a house together.”

My mentor at the time returned with her response, “ There’s a reason you thought that was a cult. It was one.”

PARENTS: I’m sharing this story with you so that you know that even if you send out your children to a Christian university, cults and competing worldviews can still slip in. Are we as parents equipping our children to reason well and discern what true Christianity is between counterfeits? 

Many of us are concerned about the fallaway rate where teens and young adults deviate away from their faith once entering college. Most of us fear of them turning towards agnosticism and atheism, which are valid concerns, but there are cult-like counters to Christianity that may be vying for your children’s attention as well.

TEENS: Do you know why you believe what you do? What makes a cult a cult and separate from Christianity?

For practical takeaways, we will have a featured post by our very own Cynthia Hampton who grew up in a cult background of Jehovah’s Witness. She was featured on Leah Remini’s Scientology and the Aftermath with an episode focused on Jehovah’s Witness. Cynthia will be discussing ways to detect a cult. 

Become equipped to recognize false teachings that lead to religious abuse:

We have a May 22nd conference centered around the topic of religious abuse. In part of the conference, we’ll tackle false teachings and how to discern what false teachings are that can lead to religious abuse and cult-like behaviors.

Why Did The Wise Men Bring Jesus Gold, Frankincense, And Myrrh?

Why Did The Wise Men Bring Jesus Gold, Frankincense, And Myrrh?

Why did the wise men bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus? We know from Matthew 2:11 that Jesus was visited by wise men who followed a star to the place where Jesus was born. We’re told from the nativity story that upon seeing Jesus with his mother, Mary, they bowed down and worshipped him and presented him with offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

Although the story filled me with enchantment as a child, I first heard of the story before the Young Living and Doterra days, before liquid amber bottles of frankincense and myrrh adorned medicine cabinets nationwide. So to me, frankincense and myrrh held little significance. And even now with frankincense and myrrh becoming household names that easily roll of the tongue, we can still be very confused about the significance. So, why did the wise men bring Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh?

Why Did the Wise Men Bring Jesus Frankincense?

Frankincense was used in in ritual ceremonies in ancient times. It represents Jesus’ priestly role in our lives that the author of Hebrews talk about. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Takeaway for us: We have access to our Great High Priest through Christ, and unlike the priests of old, Jesus suffered greatly yet is without sin. As Henry Nouwen says, “No one can save us except for a suffering God.”

 

Why Did the Wise Men Bring Jesus Gold?

Gold is a gift that represents Jesus’ honor as a king on earth and inaugurating the Kingdom of Christ on earth. It should be spectacular to us that the Magi from the east from most likely a faraway pagan location recognized the kingly status of a baby in a humble manger from impoverished parents. Although we may feel the social class disparity in the western world of our day, it was even more pronounced in the first century. 

It would be easy to recognize a messiah who came from wealth and who was the offspring of a king or someone of noble status. And it would be easier to spot a kingly messiah if you were raised in a Jewish home, familiar with the Torah. If you read the Torah, you would have a reference point, knowing of the prophecies concerning Jesus and how he was a descendent of King David.

 

Takeaway for us: We can give thanks to Christ for sacrificing His position on His kingly throne in heaven to become a king without an official title or position. 

Why Did the Wise Men Bring Jesus Myrrh?

Myrrh was an expensive fragrance used for burial purposes in the ancient world.  The gift of myrrh was a prophetic representation of one of the main reasons Christ entered this world–to become the final sacrifice for our sins. No longer would we need to slay goats, lamb, and doves to atone for our sin. We have One perfect life who came into this world and whose blood would be enough to atone for the sins of humanity.

 

Takeaway for us: We can have gratitude that Christ sacrificed His life once and for all for those who humble themselves and put their trust in Him.

Why Did the Wise Men Bring Jesus Gold?

Gold is a gift that represents Jesus’ honor as a king on earth and inaugurating the Kingdom of Christ on earth. It should be spectacular to us that the Magi from the east from most likely a faraway pagan location recognized the kingly status of a baby in a humble manger from impoverished parents. Although we may feel the social class disparity in the western world of our day, it was even more pronounced in the first century. 

It would be easy to recognize a messiah who came from wealth and who was the offspring of a king or someone of noble status. And it would be easier to spot a kingly messiah if you were raised in a Jewish home, familiar with the Torah. If you read the Torah, you would have a reference point, knowing of the prophecies concerning Jesus and how he was a descendent of King David.

 

Takeaway for us: We can give thanks to Christ for sacrificing His position on His kingly throne in heaven to become a king without an official title or position. 

Why Did the Wise Men Bring Jesus Frankincense?

Frankincense was used in in ritual ceremonies in ancient times. It represents Jesus’ priestly role in our lives that the author of Hebrews talk about. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Takeaway for us: We have access to our Great High Priest through Christ, and unlike the priests of old, Jesus suffered greatly yet is without sin. As Henry Nouwen says, “No one can save us except for a suffering God.”

 

Why Did the Wise Men Bring Jesus Myrrh?

Myrrh was an expensive fragrance used for burial purposes in the ancient world.  The gift of myrrh was a prophetic representation of one of the main reasons Christ entered this world–to become the final sacrifice for our sins. No longer would we need to slay goats, lamb, and doves to atone for our sin. We have One perfect life who came into this world and whose blood would be enough to atone for the sins of humanity.

 

Takeaway for us: We can have gratitude that Christ sacrificed His life once and for all for those who humble themselves and put their trust in Him.

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