The road to godhood is a terrible journey that destroys the man who walks it as completely as it destroys those who worship him. A man and his followers can move along it unaware of the deplorable direction they are headed in. In the pursuit of other things like money or power or both, a man may develop inclinations and habits that are as toxic to his soul as they are to the souls of those around him. What are the conditions that allow or promote such a terrible metamorphosis to occur? Is it the man alone who is flawed and prone to evil or do those who come to prop him up on a pedestal have some role in the process? What does this process of deification do to a man and his followers?
What kind of man wishes to become a god? What kind of man wishes to control and exert despotic power over those around him? Such a man needs to be charismatic and have no conscience. The public side of the man must be able to attract while the inner side must be able to mercilessly exploit and manipulate; “. . . having charisma is perhaps most useful during the stage of cult formation. It takes a strong-willed and persuasive leader to convince people of a new belief, then gather the newly converted around him as devoted followers. . . . Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret
.” (Captive Hearts Captive Minds by Madeline Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich pp. 67-79)
Not every charismatic leader is a psychopath but psychopaths are more common than we think; “Dr. Robert Hare, one of the world’s foremost experts in the field, estimates that there are at least two million psychopaths in North America.” (Captive Hearts Captive Minds by Madeline Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich pp. 67-79) Also psychopathic tendencies cover a range of severity so so individuals differ to the extent they exhibit cold-blooded behaviour. Their rage betrays them; “‘Their anger is frightening. Frequently they take flight. Their relations with others are highly problematic. When close to another person they fear engulfment or fusion or loss of self. At the same time, paradoxically, they desire closeness; frustration of their entitled wishes to be nourished, cared for, and assisted often leads to rage. They are capable of a child’s primitive fury enacted with an adult’s physical capabilities, and action is always in the offing.’ Ultimately, “the psychopath must have what he wants, no matter what the cost to those in his way.'” (Captive Hearts Captive Minds by Madeline Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich pp. 67-79) Such people become angry little gods.
The first thing needed on the way to deification is a source of willing followers who are desperate enough or vulnerable enough to be controlled.
Addicts , families of addicts and people who have experienced trauma especially in their childhood are all groups of hurting people who are potential ‘recruits’. In general, social predators looking for followers use this criteria; “Two main aspects seem to be predominant in making a person vulnerable to cult recruitment. The first is that they are between substantial life affiliations. These are times such as between college and a job, traveling for an extended period, arriving at a new location, recently rejected, fired, or divorced. Any time that a person does not have a compelling connection in their life, they are extremely vulnerable to the seeming familial-ness of cultic recruitment. The second aspect is that of depression. A person suffering from depression that is not completely debilitating, is very malleable and easily soothed by the honey coating of cultic deception.” (Cultwatch)
Setting up a framework for an exploitative organization to function in the ‘real world’ is necessary. It can come in the form of a church, a rehabilitation center or not-for-profit charitable organization. Whatever the form the organization takes, the charismatic leader shores up his power by choosing his inner group carefully. Charles Dederich the founder of Synanon followed this strategy; “Dederich became chairman of Synanon’s board, packing it with persons loyal to him whom he was sure he could control.” (David Gerstel, Paradise, Incorporated p. 36) In abusive churches, the same ‘cherry picking’ of willing ‘yes men’ occurs; “Abusive pastors also carefully select the leaders for their congregations. They choose men and women who are willing to give total and unquestioned allegiance to the pastor in return for positions of prominence and power in the church. These leaders become the abusive pastor’s agents for controlling and manipulating the congregation.” (Thugs in the Pulpit)
The end result is the leader becomes unaccountable to anyone and is always right. Should he be a prophet – he can never be wrong even when he is wrong because no one would dare to question a prophet who has God’s ear and tongue! Dissenters are quickly silenced; “Within cults there is immense pressure to conform. They use a combination of flattery, threats and guilt. A system of punishments and rewards is used to encourage group learning and reduce unwanted behavior. Punishments like isolation, shunning, ‘tut-tuts’ and humiliation are used to cause fear and obedience, while, alternatively, recognition, praise and ‘strokes’ are sparingly awarded by older members for obedience and loyalty to Groupthink by the newer ones.” (Cults)
The leader and his inner group become caught up in their own propaganda; “Their ego and sense of self-importance swells, and they lose all accountability to anyone else. They see themselves as the only ones truly doing God’s work.” and “The followers are indoctrinated with a persecution complex and a deep sense of paranoia towards the world. They will finally only trust and obey their one leader or organizational dictates. . . . and this becomes a drug that insures their continued obedience with a fanaticism that no logic seems able to dismantle. Like the heroin addict who needs his fix, the cause or leader is their drug that must be retained at any price, even to the point of death. (Religion can be a much stronger and more addictive drug than heroin.)” (Profile of a Cult Leader) By this time the world of the cult leader and his followers has become a kind of ‘little bubble universe’ with only a tenuous connection to the wider social reality. The birth of a small god of a small universe has occurred.
Once the infrastructure of exploitation is in place, an up and coming god must do everything possible to deepen his hold on the loyalty, love and commitment of his followers (victims). The predatory person will always seek to become ‘intimate’ with his mark. He will share some general negative characteristics about himself and encourage you to confess specific sins or shortcomings. As the leader, he has ‘overcome’ these problems and you are still struggling with them. Fear and guilt is nurtured; “Fear and Guilt: Induced by eliciting confessions to produce intimacy and to reveal fears and secrets, to create emotional vulnerability by overt and covert suggestion or threats, as well as alternation of punishment and reward.” (How to become a Successful Cult Leader) This is always a nasty kind of fake intimacy with the sole purpose of probing for weakness that can be exploited; “Learn everybody’s weaknesses. Not just those of certain people, those of everyone you ever encounter. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a good start. People need food and shelter. Someone who is cold and hungry is more easily manipulated, their rational mind is weakened. People under stress, . . . are a little easier to control.” (How to Control People)
Deception and manipulation provides the methodology of control within a cult. Every thing that is said and done serves to elevate the leader and subjugate his followers. Tre Taylor in his article on ‘How to become a Successful Cult Leader‘ writes; “Learn the value of Recruiting and Fundraising with hidden objectives and without full disclosure of the use of mind controlling techniques; use ‘front groups, or business opportunities’. Display behaviors reflecting integrity and honesty in regards to honor and commitment. Give your best speech on your philosophy. Promise money or favors, but never in writing. Change the rules when it comes time to deliver your end of the deal. Always make use of the ‘ Hand Shake Contract’. Learn the art of lying congruently at will. ” Often cult groups hide the shameless servicing of their leaders needs behind good works and socially positive contributions while their followers are harshly controlled and overworked to support the one ‘they owe it all to’.
A little god loves to control. The essence of illegitimate control is manipulation. Yet with every manipulative act more ground is given over to the spirit of Jezebel; “The Jezebel spirit releases witchcraft against your mind and emotions. The purpose of the witchcraft is to wear you down little by little in an effort to control your life. Witchcraft is one of the demon spirits in Jezebel’s network.” Francis Frangipane tells us that the spirit of Jezebel doesn’t just work in women only, it works in men as well. It is a spirit of manipulation and control. Paradoxically, as the predator moves towards ‘godhood’, his own spirit shrivels and is locked away by the very spirit he uses to control. As a man becomes a little god he corrodes others as he corrodes himself. In his desire to become what he should never become, a little growing god evolves ‘special powers’ of a supernatural kind weaving a terrible spell on his followers so that in the end; “He makes you conscious of himself and encourages you to rely on him as your guiding spirit. He guides and empowers you in life. He is a greater reality in your life than Jesus is.” (Religious Deception) Not only does this little god steal your life, he steals your salvation!
The followers are hollowed out – their emotional insides dissolved by the ravenous needs of their god. The leader becomes a pathetic shell of a man. He has to portray a false caricature of a brilliant wonderful leader dialed into the Divine 24/7 all the while having his actions controlled by Jezebel. The followers become eunuchs serving the Jezebel spirit of manipulation and deception by blindly servicing their little god.
Jezebel’s eunuchs want to be controlled. Eunuchs don’t want godly counsel or wisdom they want someone to make decisions for them. This is the fruit of Jezebel’s witchcraft because eunuchs have given up their wills to the Jezebel long ago. Eunuchs just look for another controller. Eunuchs surrender their will to Jezebel and allow her to make final decisions. As the witchcraft beats you down you slowly give ground. A Christian should surrender only to Christ not to Jezebel. Jezebel’s witchcraft releases confusion, loss of personal identity, and emotional dullness. The dullness is similar to a drunken stupor. (Read more: http://www.jonasclark.com/spiritual-warfare-prayer/witchcraft-loneliness-church-jezebel-spirit.html#ixzz2hXLJIHkm)
The final outcome of a man becoming a god is spiritual death – the spiritual death of the man and his followers This is the result of idolatry and to see it at work in a church or organization is a terrible thing. Many are hurt, many leave and many become so disillusioned their faith is shaken to the core. The horror of the process is that once started those involved in it – leader and followers – are on a path to destruction that is hard to stop.
For those who have faith, repentance is the only way. Yet for the cult leader/ little god; “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away,
to be brought back to repentance.” (Hebrews 6:4,5,6) For those followers who had faith, they have been blinded and their idolatry has cut them off from the One who can heal them; “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Idolatry gone too far is ruin for all!
If you suspect you are being conformed into the image of a false god by being taken in by idolatry, stop and repent now before it is too late!