white chicken looking rightWe have heard from Jesus that those who judge will be judged by the same judgment with which they judge.

Fair enough.

In a thread where a commenter asked the chookhead for their definition of a cult, one of their go-to regulars came up with the Moriah Ministries version, which includes the following list.

1. Are you told not to question what is being taught because the leaders are honest and want the best for you so you must trust them? Has someone replaced your own choices in life?

2. Are you told not to ask questions why anyone left you’re to accept the answers the leaders give you such as: they fell into sin, they didn’t receive correction, they weren’t open or they had a bad heart and didn’t want to be disciples?

3. Are you made to feel your failures – that your performance is not up to par with the Bible’s standard?

4. Are you being rebuked for things such as the way you say hello or how you respond to being asked to do something for a leader or disciple? Do they tell you it’s a matter of the heart how one complies?

5. Are they putting down other churches and / or building themselves up? Do they sometimes use people as examples of what you are to be doing and others on what you are not to be doing?

6. Do they bring attention to what they do, and ignoring others that may be doing the same things outside their church?

7. Do they stop you from reading anything negative about themselves calling it spiritual pornography or recommend you not to read it for your own spiritual protection?

8. Do they recommend for you to be around their people expecting you to be at all the group activities? If not is your spirituality and dedication being questioned?

9. Do they defend all that they do even though it can be harmful or wrong?

10. Do they operate by humility or are they arrogant and demand you to obey if you are considering otherwise? Or is it done subtly by manipulating you into obeying by statements such as, “Real Christians obey their leaders.”, or “If you were following Jesus you would see what I’m saying is right. True disciples did not question Jesus.”?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, you may well be involved in a cult. 

‘Any’ of the above. Wow, so one of these listed attributes would be enough to qualify a group as a cult, according to Moriah, and, by association, the chookwatcher crew.

The measurement according to their measure

OK, so, let’s measure these things against the content of the chookwatcher sites. We’ll score out of ten.

1. Are you told not to question what is being taught because the leaders are honest and want the best for you so you must trust them? Has someone replaced your own choices in life?

Well, yes, this fits the chookwatcher sites perfectly. They will always tell you that they are the right people to listen to and that those they oppose are wrong. If anyone tries to question what the chookwatchers say they are subjected to a barrage of objection by the moderators and their supporters. Score as a cult = 8/10

2. Are you told not to ask questions why anyone left you’re to accept the answers the leaders give you such as: they fell into sin, they didn’t receive correction, they weren’t open or they had a bad heart and didn’t want to be disciples?

Of course, the chookwatchers often censure people they object to, especially those who question the nature of their claims or operation. They always tell those who enquire that the people they have moderated or censured are trolls, or disruptive, or in sin, or not Christians. Some have even been called goats or wolves. Score as a cult = 8/10

3. Are you made to feel your failures – that your performance is not up to par with the Bible’s standard?

We have noted many comments in the threads at chookwatcher sites that do indeed point out the dissenters’ many ‘failures’, ‘inadequacies’ and ‘lack of fitness to comment’ on their sites. There have been so many comments made by the chookwatchers and their supporters that confirm this point that it must be one of the most conclusive of all. People are always being told their understanding of Biblical precepts fall below par. Score as a cult = 10/10

4. Are you being rebuked for things such as the way you say hello or how you respond to being asked to do something for a leader or disciple? Do they tell you it’s a matter of the heart how one complies?

Indeed, the chookwatchers are constantly rebuking commenters who disagree with them for the way they phrase their sentences, the attitude they use in replies, and more than one of the supporters will pull the dissenter up on the standard of their writing or English if it doesn’t meet their requirements, even though some of the articles written by the chookwatchers are abysmally inadequate when it comes to sentence construction, evidential accuracy and clarity of thought. Score as a cult = 8/10

5. Are they putting down other churches and/or building themselves up? Do they sometimes use people as examples of what you are to be doing and others on what you are not to be doing?

The main aim of the chookwatchers’ sites is to put down a growing range of churches and movements. They have an extensive list of ministries they oppose whilst at the same time building themselves up. They are constantly citing people they oppose as poor examples of how people should behave, and applying these claims to the person they are addressing.  Score as a cult = 9/10

How are we doing? Only up to point five and the chookwatchers have scored top marks as a cult on every count so far. Remember, according to their source, it only takes one to be considered, potentially, a cult.

6. Do they bring attention to what they do, and ignoring others that may be doing the same things outside their church?

Well, on this point we have to say that, even though they are not a church, and some of their key contributors do not seem to regularly attend a local church (the price of being a ‘discerner’ – you always pick all the faults in the church you attend – it must be hard), they are a group, and they certainly bring attention to what they do, even boasting recently about numbers (which they criticise in their target groups), and, rather than ignore what others might be doing, they bring down the works of those they feature on their sites. Neither do they credit their target groups with any goodness or virtue whatsoever. Score as a cult = 7/10

7. Do they stop you from reading anything negative about themselves calling it spiritual pornography or recommend you not to read it for your own spiritual protection?

I don’t know about the term ‘spiritual pornography’, but they certainly do discourage any negative commentary about themselves, going to the extreme of censoring anyone who does criticise them, unless they allow comments that they can feed off with their own negativity or allow as a foil to create some kind of interest amongst their supporters whenever there is a lull in activity as a result of the sameness of their constant obsessions. They certainly discourage any engagement with their target groups. Score as a cult = 8/10

8. Do they recommend for you to be around their people expecting you to be at all the group activities? If not is your spirituality and dedication being questioned?

They definitely recommend their own press. They constantly question the spirituality and dedication of those who are adherents of the groups they oppose. There is, to them, only one righteousness, and that is the righteousness displayed by the guarded and secretive chookwatcher enclave. They are on a quest to pull people out of fellowship with the churches and ministries they strongly and persistently oppose. Score as a cult = 7/10

9. Do they defend all that they do even though it can be harmful or wrong?

Without question. They have no desire to be corrected or moved away form their processes, even though they claim they are willing to hear of any errors in their perspective or claims. Their main commentary on just about every thread is a defence of their opinions against people who write in to point out inconsistencies and poor motives. Score as a cult = 9/10

10. Do they operate by humility or are they arrogant and demand you to obey if you are considering otherwise? Or is it done subtly by manipulating you into obeying by statements such as, “Real Christians obey their leaders.”, or “If you were following Jesus you would see what I’m saying is right. True disciples did not question Jesus.”?

Again, the chookwatchers score highly as a cult faction with this one. There is no humility whatsoever shown in their threads, or in their articles. There is definitely a high level of pressure on dissenters to obey their opinions. They also apply the second option by justifying their self-professed permission to judge those they oppose and call on dissenters to repent for simply saying they like the chookwatchers‘ target groups in some way. They claim to have the scriptures on their side, and rebuke anyone with a counter argument, not because the argument is wrong, but because it is made. Score as a cult = 9/10

The chookwatchers score extremely high as a cult according to their own recommended definitions.

I would add that cult leaders who are so secretive that no one can know who they are, yet they feel they have the right to make judgments about people they name are pretty well declaring themselves to be sectarian.

What is a cult?

A cult, of course, could refer to any religious group, and is, in itself, neutral. The origin of the word ‘cult’ is worship, and refers to a group of people who worship together. It comes form the French ‘culte’, or Latin ‘cultus’, which means ‘worship’, and is from the prefix ‘cult-‘, which means ‘inhabited, cultivated, worshipped’, so it is far less sinister than is being portrayed by the chookwatchers, and could apply to any group that meets for common worship. We also derive ‘culture’ from the term.

A more accurate description would be ‘sect’, which is a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs and are typically regarded as heretical compared to those of a larger group to which they once belonged.

A sect is a following, from the Latin ‘secta’, but is also a faction, or a party.

The chookwatchers are certainly a faction. They have separated themselves off to form a dedicated group that opposes certain Christian ministries and ministers. they have gathered to themselves like-minded people and formed an online sect.

Rules

The Moriah Ministries piece ultimately meanders off into many tangents on what constitutes a cult, and simply goes on into the absurd with so many rules about what amounts to being a cult that one would have to come to the conclusion that Moriah considers everyone but Moriah to be a cult in some way. Honestly, the list is seemingly endless, and tediously boring to wade through. Perfect cure for insomniacs, actually.

Isn’t that just the way with discernment folk, though? They make up so many rules for other people as they develop heir ‘ministries’ that they isolate themselves as the only true something or other and everyone else surely falls short. I guess that by adding new rules as they go along they build themselves a bigger net by which to spread their legalism.

Thank God we are only subject to God’s grace through faith as we receive Jesus as Lord to be accepted in the Beloved.

Even God removed the constraints of His own law so that we could live free from it.

So why do the supposed ministries want to pile new laws on the Body when Jesus has gone to such lengths to bring us into the liberty of the Spirit?

Lord spare us from humanly contrived lists the writers say we have to follow, or their severe rules that take us down!

Oh, what’s that you say? He already has through the work of the cross and faith in Jesus! Praise God for that!

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