Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
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17-02-2014, 03:39 PM
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
(17-02-2014 03:31 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  
(17-02-2014 03:11 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Is there evidence Tacitus independently verified (by standards we would accept today as authoritative) that Jesus was in fact crucified by Pilate? Smile

Who? Angel

Quote:No, seriously, was there another religion you almost considered before you realized you were an atheist, and are there religions you respect?

Upon reflection, my deconversion was more of a decompression. After a childhood in the Watchtower Society and an adulthood affiliated with The Way and its offshoots, I began attending regular evangelical churches (never buying into their definition of the Godhead but always feeling that we were joined by more doctrines than we were separated by disagreements). My realization that I was an atheist came after a long process of trying to make sense of the Bible. Affiliation with a group never really factored in that decision.

I can't say there are religions I respect. I respect individuals' rights to embrace a religion, but the religions themselves... no.

Very cool. BTW: I read Mills' book, too, and I enjoyed its approach, especially the "interview."

Check out my now-defunct atheism blog. It's just a blog, no ads, no revenue, no gods.
Atheism promotes critical thinking; theism promotes hypocritical thinking. -- Me
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17-02-2014, 03:48 PM
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
(17-02-2014 03:34 PM)Anjele Wrote:  It's interesting that you came from the JWs and turned to something that has so many similarities.

Typical rebellion, when you think about it. You might say one primed me for the other.

After being a Jehovah's Witness, if someone tried to tell me Jesus was God, I would have looked at that person like he had a screw loose. Remember, I was never taught Jesus was God in the first place. I didn't even realize until I was an adult that the majority of Christianity accepted the Trinity. So when The Way made its pitch to me, I was already halfway there. I never needed to "unlearn" the main doctrine that most separated The Way from mainstream Christianity.

But The Way jettisoned every single doctrine that made the Jehovah's Witnesses so damn joyless. They celebrated birthdays and Christmas (although they recognized Christmas as religiously insignificant. They just enjoyed it). They weren't hung up on sin (too busy committing it, I think). The Way was everything the Jehovah's Witnesses would be if the Jehovah's Witnesses would take everyone's advice and lighten the hell up.

On the identity of Jesus, the big difference between The Way and the Watchtower concerned his pre-existence. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus pre-existed (before his birth) as an angel, and strongly strongly STRONGLY hints that he is the archangel Michael. The Way teaches that Jesus was not an angel at all, and that he had no existence prior to his birth.

I always felt that The Way had a perspective on Christ's mission, obedience and suffering that Trinitarian believers simply could not appreciate. He really WAS tempted. When he said "not my will, but Thine be done," he meant it. Seriously, how tough is it to refuse to sin and to follow through with the crucifixion when you are actually God? But a man, a man who had to be told who he was and what he had to do, and what was at stake? Would YOU have done it? I wouldn't. But he did!

The preceding was my perspective as a believer. Of course, now I see things differently.
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17-02-2014, 03:55 PM
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
Makes sense...having been preached and teached (yeah I know that's not a word) the Trinity angle, I suppose considering another belief base would have been difficult to grasp.

I have a good friend that went through a lot with the JWs. Left and was disfellowed, gave up her child for a while to the father...just layers and layers that she has spent the last 15 or so years peeling away the indoctrination.

Glad you are out! I appreciate the chance for a look into things I have no experience with.

See here they are, the bruises, some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. -JF
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17-02-2014, 04:09 PM (This post was last modified: 18-02-2014 01:58 PM by TwoCultSurvivor.)
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
Sample question:
Since you never believed in the Trinity, couldn't a "real Christian" make the case that you never gave true Christianity a chance?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer is a little more complicated.

Look, it's not like I never gave traditional Christianity a chance. As a Jehovah's Witness, I took the distinction between Jesus and God for granted. But as I was initiated into The Way, I considered every Trinitarian argument I could find. The debate over the identity of Jesus was a big deal to me, for several years. I finally came to the conclusion that the Trinity HAD to be wrong. It failed every logical test (starting with its definition: I defy you to scratch beneath the surface of ANY "definition" of the Trinity and come away with something that is not considered heretical. You can't. Every single time someone tries to explore the logical implications of the Trinity doctrine, that person falls into heresy. Every time. It's beyond comical).

Nonetheless, I learned a lot from Trinitarian Christians and felt that they had a deeper appreciation for the Lordship of Jesus than I did. I truly tried to incorporate that into my own faith. Not that I believed he was God, but I tried to exalt him in the way I felt the God of the Bible exalted him. I wanted to believe everything GOD said about him.

I believed that he lived. I believed that he died and that his death made my salvation possible. I accepted him as my lord and sought to do his will (which was always compatible with the Father's will: there is no distinction).

So you may argue that I was never "really" a Christian. But in doing so, you are saying more about the arbitrary way you define "real Christianity" than you are about the quality of my faith.

I abandoned Christianity -- all of it. Not one cult. Not two cults. I abandoned YOUR cult, whichever one it may be.
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17-02-2014, 04:19 PM
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
Did you ever consider other denominations "cults"?
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17-02-2014, 04:25 PM
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
(17-02-2014 04:19 PM)docskeptic Wrote:  Did you ever consider other denominations "cults"?


It was a self-defense mechanism. The Way was aware of its status as a cult, and we were fond of saying "Cult is what the Big Church calls the little church."

Of course, there are sociological cues that distinguish a cult from a typical religious group. It's not easy to pin down, but basically, the more "all up in your personal business" a group is, the more you can correctly label them a cult.

But I always felt that the "cult" label was unfairly applied to groups that mainstream Christianity did not agree with. To a Catholic, the Assemblies of God is a cult. And vice versa. It's nonsense.

But because "cult" is not a rigidly defined word, everyone considers everyone else a cult, depending on the definition being used.

Wiping the slate clean, I prefer to ask people what they mean by "cult" before answering whether I believe any particular group fits the definition. In many ways, my experience with The Way was not cult-like at all. In other ways, it was. But even in The Way, my experience was not typical. That's another story.
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17-02-2014, 04:29 PM
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
(17-02-2014 03:17 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  What is The Way?

The Way International is an obscure little cult out of New Knoxville, Ohio. Founded in the 1930s by Victor Paul Wierwille, it features a blend of charismatic evangelicalism and Jehovah's Witness-style theology. For example, The Way teaches that Jesus is not God and that the dead are unconscious awaiting the return of Christ. In those ways, they are similar to Jehovah's Witnesses. But The Way also teaches against legalism (we are not under the law, but under grace). They also teach that every believer is able to produce all nine manifestations of the spirit.

An explanation is required: Most of Christianity teaches that there are nine "gifts of the spirit" enumerated in I Corinthians. These are speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, working of miracles, gifts of healings and "faith." According to The Way, these are not nine gifts at all, but nine manifestations of ONE gift, the gift of holy spirit.

Unlike Trinitarians, followers of The Way believe the Father alone is God. Jesus is his son, whose existence began at his birth (or conception. Let's not quibble). The Holy Spirit is one of two things: another name for the Father, or the gift of divine essence imparted to believers once they accept Christ and become born again.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying EVERY Way believer is expected to speak in tongues (and does it), interpret and prophesy. And they are taught how.

At the time of my involvement, The Way ran a series of classes called "Power for Abundant Living," aka PFAL.

The foundational PFAL class culminates with each believer speaking in tongues.
By the end of the intermediate class, each believer learns to interpret and prophesy.
The advanced class (which I never took) goes through the remaining manifestations.

Unlike most Pentecostal groups, The Way teaches that the person speaking in tongues is the same person who should be interpreting. You don't interpret someone else's tongue. You interpret your own, by inspiration from God.

It's really a subject worth exploring on its own, but the short explanation is really simple:

Way believers are taught how to fake speaking in another language through a process known as free vocalization, which any first-year acting student can do.
Interpretation and prophecy are exercises in extemporaneous speaking. You are taught to speak without predetermining what you are going to say (SURE you are not predetermining what you are going to say). Nothing magical about it at all, but we were believers, so we gave the glory to God. Never mind that we faked every non-word in tongues and every real word in interpretation and prophecy.

hey,when i search "Free vocalization" or "Free vocalization" or similar,i only get biblical stuff and "VOCALISATION-wikipedia,the FREE dict". Can you point me to an article?

I don't really like going outside.
It's too damn "peopley" out there....
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17-02-2014, 04:32 PM
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
Please clarify your question.

Are you looking to connect free vocalization to speaking in tongues, or to learn about free vocalization apart from speaking in tongues?
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17-02-2014, 04:34 PM (This post was last modified: 17-02-2014 04:41 PM by docskeptic.)
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor
Two Cult:
A useful way of defining a cult includes the following:
1. A charismatic leader or leaders to which the group pays allegiance
2. A special interpretation or translation of an existing scripture which the group holds sacred
3. Denial by the group of one or more major tenets of the religion from which they split.
4. Recent foundation of the "cult" as opposed to the ancient origin of the parent "religion".

There are others, but that will do for now.

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17-02-2014, 04:41 PM
RE: Interview with TwoCultSurvivor

The Way and The Watchtower fit all those criteria. Other groups fit two or three criteria, but not all four. Catholics fit 1 and 3, but not 2 and 4. Not anymore. A long time ago, Catholics fit all four.
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