Please see our new site, www.icsahome.com which has new material and a more helpful structure.

 

NEW! International Cultic Studies Association site has moved - click here

  Conferences | Donate  

 >  
ICSA resources about psychological manipulation, cultic groups, sects, and new religious movements.

 

 
 
 

Article

Our E-Library contains full text articles and other resources related to the information below.  Click here.

WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

Please note:

ICSA does NOT maintain a list of "bad" groups or "cults."  We nonjudgmentally list groups on which we have information.

Groups listed, described, or referred to on ICSA's Web sites may be mainstream or nonmainstream, controversial or noncontroversial, religious or nonreligious, cult or not cult, harmful or benign.

We encourage inquirers to consider a variety of opinions, negative and positive, so that inquirers can make independent and informed judgments pertinent to their particular concerns.

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

See:  Definitional Issues Collection; Understanding Groups Collection

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors

How to Talk to People Who Are Trying to Save You


Rev. Dr. Ross Miller

 

They stop you on campus, knock on your door, "waylay" you on the street. They just want a few minutes of your time ... to take a survey, or talk about their faith. How do you respond to these sometimes aggressive folk?

Be glad. They're trying to do you good. After all, they want to keep you from eternal fire on some other undesirable end. You may not like their methods or message, but most of them mean well.

Be careful. Although many of these persons will respect your privacy, intelligence, and freedom, others are not necessarily eager to know what you think, believe, or feel. Their inquiries are calculated a) if they are Christian, to assess your salvation state (and any response that�s halting or deviates from their pat formula will get you classified as "unsaved," even if you have Christian credentials like baptism, confirmation, church membership)-, and presuming you flunk their test, b) to make you feel spiritually inadequate and in need of what they offer. These persons are more like salesmen than ethical evangelists, who witness to their faith in a respectful, loving manner.

Don't expect dialogue. Dialogue means a two-way sharing of ideas in an atmosphere of mutual respect You'll soon learn that they have little interest in your views. They do not expect to find spiritual nourishment in your statements. (It is possible for persons of differing religious views to share ideas without attempting to trap or demean each other. Such an exchange can stimulate the growth of both participants.) Their goal is, as they say, �to win you to Christ," or to some guru or religious figure -- a very competitive concept! And they feel very strongly that they are the authorities on "Christ," or whomever.

Resist the temptation to debate! In the first place, unless you're "well-versed" in Scripture and theology, you'll come off badly. And if you're ready to debate, be assured that your superior arguments will rarely convince them to change. (They might be surprised at someone as sure as they are, having mostly encountered the unsure and ignorant. But they'll most likely assume that the Devil's got you or that you're stuck in ignorance.) Furthermore, though debating maybe fun, demolishing your opponent with argument may not be the outcome you want.

Don't feel your experience of God is deficient if it doesn't fit their pattern. For some persons, conversion (turning towards God) is sudden and emotionally overwhelming. Others experience a more gradual rebirthing and growth in faith. God's not stuck with a single strategy for changing humans. Christians and persons of other faiths -- from the first through the twentieth century -- testify to an amazing diversity of "divine styles."

Don't worry if you can't answer questions! Be wary of those who articulate a scheme of salvation or spiritual growth with the precision of an AAA map. All such simple �maps" must be taken for what they are-�attempts to make the Divine Mystery comprehensible. Though we continually try to communicate our faith in understandable terms, we are always humbled by the limits of language in trying to grasp the Mystery we encounter. If their questions baffle and bother you, don't assume they're right and you're wrong. Share these questions with our pastor, or campus chaplain, rabbi, or priest (like checking Consumers' Report before you buy an encyclopedia).

Ask questions of your own. One of the problems with these "encounters" is their offensive/defensive nature -- very offensive at times! Though debate or dialogue may not work, you can at least exchange information.

Important: Don't try to trip them � that's their game. Your questions must be genuine. But don't let them use your questioning as just another means of persuading you to do what they want.

Try to be kind and loving, without being foolish. Remember, these persons trying to corner you (for the sincerest of reasons) are persons whom God loves. Despite their apparent strength, they may be needy persons whose involvement in an authoritarian group satisfies a strong dependency need. An awareness of their common humanity can save you from the trap they're setting, and perhaps, help them see more clearly.

Witness to your own faith. You may not be able to support your testimony with scripture, but chances are you do have strong beliefs, which have been nurtured through the years by teachers, pastors, priests, rabbis, parents, friends, and your own study and contemplation. You don't talk about these deep commitments very often, but they are there. And you can witness to the values of your religious experience. Perhaps you appreciate its support in times of crisis, its involvement in making your community a better place, its serving real human needs, its music, etc.

Be thankful. This encounter will probably stimulate your spiritual search. It may encourage you to do more religious study. Perhaps you should thank your visitors for their help. But ...

Don't sign anything or agree to anything! These folks trying to save you have been trained, just like salespeople, to talk you into some kind of "follow-up." They'd love to get you to one of their meetings..."just so you can give it a try." (If they haven't "won you," they'd like to get some help from their veteran persuaders - the folks who �won" them.) It's best to bid farewell with no strings. You can always find them if, after much reflection and discussion with friends or clergy, you decide to explore their group further.

This essay has been adapted from an article written by the Reverend Dr. Ross Miller, former Campus Minister and Director of United Christian Fellowship, the Protestant Ecumenical Campus Ministry at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio. Dr. Miller, at the time this article was reprinted, was pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, Eugene, Oregon. His article originally appeared in the September 1983 issue of the Yellow Sheet, the United Christian Fellowship newsletter, and is used by permission.

_

 

Resources

 

 

 

________________________________________________________ ^ 

 
 
  
  

Related

http://www.culticstudies.org/_dwt_banner/banner_index.htm

_dwt_header_related_links_line03

� Academic Disputes and Dialogue
� children
� clergy
� conversion
� cults101
� Custody/Forensic
� dissociation
� educators
� false memory
� family
� former member
� free info
� intervention
� large group awareness trainings
� legal
� mental health
� press
� pseudoscience
� research
� students
� thought reform
� understanding groups

_________________________________________________________ ^

Help

Our E-Library contains full text articles and other resources related to the information below.  Click here.

WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

Please note:

ICSA does NOT maintain a list of "bad" groups or "cults."  We nonjudgmentally list groups on which we have information.

Groups listed, described, or referred to on ICSA's Web sites may be mainstream or nonmainstream, controversial or noncontroversial, religious or nonreligious, cult or not cult, harmful or benign.

We encourage inquirers to consider a variety of opinions, negative and positive, so that inquirers can make independent and informed judgments pertinent to their particular concerns.

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

See:  Definitional Issues Collection; Understanding Groups Collection
 

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

Help index

WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

ICSA/AFF - about

ICSA - contact

announcement

 article
 article abstract

Ξ book/video review

links
events

groups

? help

* index
news
products

   press

> profiles

resource org

study resources

topic ●▫∞▪Θ

_________________________________________________________ ^

 
About ICSA | Contact US  | Profiles | links

   | webmaster | search

Copyright �1997-2008 ICSA, Inc.