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Hogarth judge

December 2017

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Hogarth judge

A screed of doctrine

> Especially I have become interested in information and discussion about
> Christian Cults, especially splinter-groups, widespread heresies, and
> the like. This might include the Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists,
> specific Baptist cults, etc.

> Does anyone here have personal experience of such things, or any
> pointers to sites exposing cult activity, especially where illegal
> activities of a widespread or pervasive nature are involved?

Back when I was starting to practice law, there was some of this going around. Anti-Semitic groups would target farmers with credit problems for recruiting. They called themselves "Posse Comitatus." As far as I could figure, this was not really an organised group but a confederacy grouped around a shared ideology.

They would try to recruit farmers in debt, by claiming that they shouldn't have to pay the mortgages --- which they all took out in the 1970s when interest rates were still through the roof --- because the money wasn't backed by gold, which they claimed the Constitution required. They would sell people kits that they said would prove the mortgages invalid, documents that were supposed to declare your independence from the United States, so you wouldn't have to licence your car and such. If courts rejected this bullshit, as they might be expected to, this was proof of the Jewish conspiracy that controlled everything.

You need to study the Christian theology called "dispensationalism." This is where it all begins in the USA. It was started by John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren. If you've read Aleister Crowley's autobiography you know something about them. Dispensationalism is an elaborate system of interpreting the Bible that divides sacred history into multiple "dispensations," each of which has a specific timetable. It was taught in the widely popular Scofield Reference Bible. In the 1970s, Hal Lindsey became the Erich von Däniken of dispensationalism with his book The Late Great Planet Earth and its many sequels. That's a good place to begin, and will get you a good idea of the typical right wing Christian's received ideas from the system, even if its original prophecies need updating.

What coastal Americans and the media seem clueless about is the extent to which dispensationalist assumptions are part of the general culture in the South and Midwest. Just about every churchgoing Protestant Christian out here operates under the unexamined assumption that the founding of Israel in 1947 lit a fuse that can only end in Armageddon, which now has become inevitable, yet a blessing: it means Jesus is coming back. Fortunately, good folks like us will be supernaturally rescued by the "Rapture" before the plagues break out. Even those Christians who express doubt as to whether the system has got it right or not don't have a better idea to interpret those texts by.

The natinal media -- either through "liberal" indifference or fear of the major ruckus that would be stirred up -- seem clueless about dispensationalism. You'd get the impression from their coverage that they imagine that only a handful of isolated kooks actually believe they're living in the End Times. I believe that impression is not only wrong but also dangerous. In fact, the main thing people with normal goals in life have to fear from "conservative Christians" has nothing to do with their position on abortion, homosexuality, or some other merely political issue. It comes instead from their immersion in a kind of Christianity awash in dispensationalist assumptions that make the end of the world both inevitable and desirable. Every politician ought to be quizzed about dispensationalist beliefs, and it ain't happening.

Comments

Boy, you'd be hell on some of those survivor groups....
According to my own reading, dispensationalism has been around for about 100-150 years, showing up post-Civil War in Baptist and Pentecostal circles -- which is not to say that all Baptists or Pentecostals are politically reactionary, though most are on the conservative side.

You might be interested in reading what I posted yesterday in my LJ concerning Dominionism. twistedchick.livejournal.com.