Over the years of teaching Torah and Messiah and all the interesting characters I have come in contact with the song by Living Color, "Cult of Personality" seems to be playing on repeat in my mind. 90% of those who believe like me, that we must keep Torah and that Yeshua is the Messiah, are a few sheets away from handing out flowers at the airport.....well for many it may not be roses but grenades.
I spent the weekend watching a few documentaries dealing with some of the big cults that have turned up in the past 40 years and I have come to a startling conclusion, is the behavior in the "Hebrew Roots" (never been a fan of that term) is like all of them wrapped into one and it is not only startling but disturbing. Now I am not here to attack the belief that we all share that is the foundation of our faith, which is the will of Hashem but I do need to address the spirit of divination within Netzari Judaism, the Messianic faith and the Hebrew Roots.
Go After the Unstable
A cult leader loves to prey upon the fear of others, they love to increase the fear of people and that causes them to gain more control over their congregants or followers. As many of you know I have worked with many of the big name teachers all over the spectrum and I was shocked 2 years ago when I was told by a group of two house teachers that what they like to do to increase their webpage views, subscribers, donations etc is they would go into conspiracy theory forums on web pages like infowars or other websites such as that and copy and paste their link to their website into the forums. When I asked why, they said, "well a majority of those people have disposable income and are young and still living with their parents, and they love to be scared so if you can reveal to them some kind of truth that they feel has been kept from them then they will be followers for life". I then showed disapproval of such things and I was then told, "well do you not agree they need Yeshua?" and I saw then that I was as well being played through having an "ends justifies the means" style of answer given to me. Did not Jim Jones and Doe Applewhite do the same thing? This is very dangerous cause this is not only preying upon the fear of people who have a mental unbalance or whom may be being oppressed by the Yetzer Hara/the Adversary but it is also increasing their fear thus giving more power to the Yetzer Hara because now they have new enemies and new people to fear and whom they are trained to see as evil and it is a vast majority of the people in the entire world.
When a person is drowning and they can't swim they flap their arms and they can cause someone else to drown with them by grabbing a hold of those around them thus increasing the devastation. I have seen this happen oh so often in the body of Messiah and it is not by a small fraction of our faith I am sad to say.
Secret knowledge is bright and shiny object to the B'nei Noach (young convert) and there is no shortage of "secret knowledge" found in the realm of the internet in terms of .wordpress.com extensions, YouTube accounts, social media etc especially in terms of religions. I have gotten the fortunate opportunity of looking at several scrolls and base texts that many tout as "the oldest" and because a leader says it is the oldest we tend to take their word for it and we rely only upon the internal evidence and not upon that of the external evidence to verify the claim. We tend to say, "well I saw this guy on tv or I heard him on the radio so that makes him and expert", the cult leader relies on this a great deal. I almost left Messiah Yeshua at one point in my walk because many base texts I have been able to see photocopies of or the actual scrolls themselves and I was able to prove they were forgeries within 5 minutes in most cases because of grammar, the instrument used to write the words, or the paper it was written on, or by looking for the main mistakes that are in older documents. I was beaten down to a point to where because I found the Shem Tob, the DuTillet, and the Old Syriac were obvious frauds I was afraid of any other text that came my way, until I found one I tried to prove as a forgery and couldn't and luckily I did which actually strengthened my faith in Yeshua and was grammatically accurate, historically accurate and there was external evidence that left no doubt that it has existed in the early 2nd Century. But every month I hear of, these new scrolls that have been found that no one has ever heard of and there is usually a really far fetched story that goes along with how one had obtained these supposed scrolls (some of which you are not allowed to see and no one ever has). This is a dangerous witness and it is used to often encapsulate people in order to control them.
The Sacred Name
This is a very touchy subject for those first starting out in their walk and I think there is really some bad scholarship (or fake scholarship) on the subject. Often times a cult leader will push a certain pronunciation of the sacred name that they propagate and they use this to elevate, not Hashem, but themselves. When questioned they will say "well I have seen a scroll that has the vowel markers for the sacred name of God" to try and checkmate the person who is challenging them. I have seen over a dozen different spellings of the sacred name of God and many convincing arguments yet, the guy who pronounces it another way has equally convincing arguments. So the question then becomes, "is Hashem going to strike me down for not saying his name correctly?". Let's look at the facts, there is not a single authentic scroll in existence that can be seen by a member of the public that has the sacred name with the vowel points, sorry it does not exist. Also, Hashem wants you to know who He is, He does not want us to engage in voodoo or witchcraft in thinking special favor is given to us by phonetically spelling or pronouncing His name in a way that has been hidden by Him. Do we think we are above God?
Now let it be known I have no issue with anyway a person spells or pronounces God's name, not single issue but when you propagate that if you do not say it this way but you do this way then you are either in His presence or apart from Him, that is a control tactic to put the congregants in fear. After years of study of the Chumash, the Torah scrolls, rabbinical Hebrew and Aramaic documents I have yet to find the proper way to say God's name. There are many things as well in Judaism in terms of this that there is not one but 72 sacred names for the name of God, not only that but those whom have studied for over 60 years and dedicated themselves to the Torah have concluded there are 219 names each a part of God's attributes and they convey certain attributes of the Creator.
This obviously plays into the ideal as well of "secret knowledge" as listed above cause not only is it trying to confide someone to a certain spelling that honestly cannot be proven does way with all but one of God's attributes. When one has a limited perception of the Creator of everything, they often try and limit the attributes of God by restricting Him to their spelling or pronunciation that may or may not be right, cause they are not looking at his 219 names that are within the Tanach. And when people are limited in the perception of God's attributes then there is obviously an agenda.
Now in terms of the name of the Messiah we can say that definitely we know the pronunciation of his name thanks to the Khabouris codex, and there is a long form and a short form, the vowel markers are even there in the Aramaic. Yet, even though we have this knowledge a cult leader feels that if a person uses another name then there is some other teacher who is above him who taught his congregant this thing and so therefore the cult leader will become threatened because of the standing he has and lash out at the person who pronounced it differently or whom spells it differently and his control over the person he feels is limited. I have seen many times congregants in "messianic" cults get ostracized for this very thing. Be wary.
Conspiracy Theory and End Times
Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Castro, all the tyrants of history used one thing with great efficiency and that is the element of fear. Many wonder how it is that Hitler could cause his soldiers to kill 6 million Jews. The reason is simple, fear. There is an old Twilight Zone film where the power goes out in this old rural neighborhood and at first the people are fine but they then see one house on the block has power and instead of being logical they conjured up this grand conspiracy about the people in the house because they are different from them and because they had power in their home. In 30 minutes of being without power they raided the people's home and set it on fire killing a family of 4. There have been many congregations I have attended where one of the first things done is to read articles in the news and the rabbi or pastor who does this always tries to relate it to prophecy. And there is a conspiratorial undertone, and we are then told not to rely on God, but to rely on guns, rely on a bomb shelter and stock piling food etc. This then is a psychological move by the cult leader and he will often times casually insert conspiracy theory into the reading of the news before a message to get you fearful to rely on him and cling to him and to make you tune in next week to know if something really bad is going to happen. One of the most effective things cult leaders do is to make their congregants fear the entire world around them and to say, "we are in the end times".
Now lets look at this....ummm the book of Acts says we were in the end times then as well, we have been within them or close to 2,000 years. And every generation has cult leaders who say "we are in the final hours and everything is about to go down very very soon". Lets see here, David Koresh told people to stock pile guns and food and these people were so fearful of the world that they went and allowed David Koresh to burn them all to death because of the fact they were brainwashed by this cult leader and they feared the very people who were trying to help them. Jim Jones did the same thing and gathered over 1,000 people in another country in an area they could not leave and no one could enter in, and he used the end times and conspiracy theory to do it. Then there is Doe Applewhite, there is no bigger of a conspiracy theorist than this guy and he cause 30 some people to castrate themselves and also to never go outside of the house they were living in and ultimately to kill themselves. If someone sources infowars or Alex Jones as a reliable resource, I would then have to ask how many times has Jones been correct in the things he said were going to happen? Not a single time. But people still listen to him on CBS Radio why? Because again cult leaders prey upon those who may be mentally unstable. Listen to the callers him and George Norry get for their conspiracy filled radio programs, they are people who obviously have mental issues and also who are searching out evil. The fact is, if someone is looking for evil (even though many say they are there to expose it) then they will find it and it will make it's way within them and within the spirit within that of their home. That is just fact, Yeshua said to be the light of the world and your light will expose darkness. And light in the original word "mussar" means wisdom, and does a wise man always talk about who is wrong? Does he always feel he needs to "expose" something or someone? No a man of wisdom brings people to him because he knows what it is he believes and people connect to the things he teaches in his belief. Is it written anywhere also that Yeshua will say, "Good job you figured out all these things" or is he gonna determine whether or not we are faithful or unfaithful to what it is he taught us? For even the book of Isaiah says to pay no attention to conspiracy.
To Be Continued.....................................
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah at Beit Geulah in Morganton, NC (www.BeitGeulah.com)