Create a fractured Jesus. Tell folks “Christ is All”, but make “all” your own existential perception of Christ to the exclusion of “all” He’s authoritatively revealed about Himself – including His scriptural imperatives, external commands, propositional truths and moral precepts. This allows you to create Jesus in your own image, so that your own sensibilities, objectives and idiosyncrasies then become normative for all.
cults almost always have a charismatic leader, an “us against them” or us against the world focus, and a rigid top-down chain of command – and as you point out, if christian, fracture the Body by focusing on some narrow, idiosyncratic interpretation of scripture.
Existentialists shouldn’t be looking to a man, but rather to the living Chirst within, so there is less reliance on some charismatic leader. Charismatic leaders appear in the old wineskin of performance related church services where the leader has a microphone and monologue as opposed to the dialogues we find characteristic of organic church groups.
I have seen this problem in both camps, frankly. It may be more subtle in the existential camp, but it certainly is there. All you have to do is influence – through charm, public persona, whatever – how folks subjectively “perceive” Christ so their perceptions then conform to your own image of Christ. Then the rest is easy.
The more legalist approach is to guilt folks into conforming to the leader’s concept of Christ through a selective appeal to scripture.
But the result is the same – the “leader” who controls by presenting a fractured Jesus who only exhibits the qualities that favor that leader and his own objectives.
Like I say, really, it’s easy…
This is why we need both a vibrant relationship with the Living Word, in submission to the discipline and authority of His written Word.
Otherwise, we are vulnerable to manipulative leadership who uses a fractured Jesus to promote their own agenda.
Reliance on any one human being – or any one place, book, blog, “stream” – for spiritual growth is a mistake. We are parts of Christ’s body, knit together by him for his purposes. If we seek truth together – with Bibles open – our Teacher will show us the truth.
We need to be discerning and leery of claims that anyone’s own sectarian perspective is “beyond” all the rest of the Body of Christ – even if they self-justify their views under the slogan that “Christ is All”.
I think part of the problem is the incredible gullibility of the sheep. Who will follow whoever sounds good or seems to fit their idea of what a good leader should be.
The number of Christians that I have EVER met who could rationally think for themselves and who had enough of a relationship with God so as to better discern truth – for themselves (as opposed to having others do the thinking and seeking of God for them) have been so very few relative to all those who profess to be Christians that it has seemed at times like they simply don’t exist.
The church of today spits out such “Christians”. All over the place.
It has trained us to be wonderful pew sitters. Who just watch and soak in whatever we are fed.
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