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"The Discipleship Game" 
23rd-Jan-2006 12:54 pm
The first comment following this post is the beginning of chapter 1, "The Discipleship Game," from Twisted Scripture by Mary Alice Chrnalogar. A few chapters of the book are on-line. One of the editors of the book is a former member of UBF who was personally abused by Lee/Barry. The game described in chapter 1 reminds me of PECAS' writing on "systematic obedience training" through which UBF tries to usurp a recruit's right to make his own choices. It's helpful to know that in essence UBF's system and tactics are as old as the existence of cults themselves. As I read through the book (I'm a slow reader) I'll try to post more from it in the future.
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23rd-Jan-2006 06:13 pm (UTC)
The Discipleship Game

Chapter 1

You agree to wait for confirmation from your discipler before initiating important decisions. This works out to be getting permission.

Let's start by playing a game. Below are twelve items, six of which you are to pick:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

What you do not know is that I have decided I don't want you to choose items 4, 7, or 10. On the other hand, I do want you to take items 2 and 5. The rest are of no consequence to me. What are the chances you will pick the ones I want you to choose and not choose the ones I don't want you to? Not very good, are they? How could I get you to pick the ones I want without telling you? How could I control you to make my choices your choices but make you think that you decided?

Easy. I could play a manipulative discipleship game. First, before you started the game, I would teach you that, although this may be your first time playing, I have played this game a lot. In fact, I have spent so much time in prayer and study that God now inspires me to know the best choices (This often implies that God inspires me to know the best choices for you too). Then we would begin to play. After two choices, I would tell you that it is God who wants us to agree on each choice. This, I would tell you, is the kind of spiritual unity the Bible teaches. With this in mind, you would proceed with the remaining choices.

Suppose in those six choices, you only stumbled on one of the three items I did not want you to take. This is the only time I had to tell you that I did not agree with you. And, when you were on your last choice and you still had not picked item 5, I shared with you that God revealed to me the superiority of item 5. So you took it last. Five out of six times you got your choice, but you also benefited from my "divinely inspired wisdom" to make a good last selection.

You feel as though you are making up your own mind pretty well. You feel neither coerced nor controlled. In fact, you appreciated the help you got. In the end, however, I got what I wanted without your knowing it; and, of course, I was the one who told you had twelve choices and who directed you to select only six. I set up the rules of the game.

Abusive discipleship is played approximately the same way. Control over people is disguised as agreement with a discipler who, you are told, has your best interests at heart. Unlike the game, the choices are not trivial, but are more likely to be important (e.g., whom to marry, what vocation to pursue, and where to live). Unlike the game, however, abusive discipleship results in unnecessary fear, shame, and guilt—and, most importantly, the rules of abusive discipleship are not Biblical rules.
6th-Feb-2006 04:41 am (UTC) - The program of bondage
Here's more from chapter 1, "The Discipleship Game." I've underlined the parts below that really stood out for me:




THE PROGRAM OF BONDAGE

The hidden agenda of abusive discipleship is that you should not make decisions without both you and your discipler feeling at peace about it. They claim this will ensure that you will make fewer mistakes on your Christian walk. At first this seems to make logical sense: more accountability, fewer mistakes. What you do not realize, however, is that slavery may soon begin to develop. Once you agree to play this discipleship game, your discipler will be a major deciding factor in many of your choices because you come to believe that you are likely to be in sin if you act without the discipler’s confirmation.

How nice of the discipler not to want you to make any mistakes in your new Christian walk. The discipler wants to help you. You probably feel grateful that someone cares about what you do in a world in which people often do not seem to care at all. This discipler may also say that he wants to make sure you find and follow God's perfect will, and that he is advanced enough to be able to help you with your decisions.

As long as all your decisions follow the discipler’s agenda, you will get all the confirmation you could possibly want. You do not feel manipulated because you are making many decisions and are allowed to follow through. You see no control because your decisions either follow the path your discipler wants you to take, or the discipler may have no preference in a particular instance. When you veer off the "path," the controlling discipler may first try to subtly persuade you (and, if that fails, tell you) that you are in sin.

...

There are terms a discipler may use to guide the disciple back onto the desired path:

* "I do not have peace about it"
* "I do not know if that is God's will"
* "Let's continue to seek God's will about that"

You are free to disagree if a non-controlling discipler uses one of these phrases. When they are used by an abusive discipler, however, these phrases are a kind of discipleship code that really means: "NO, NO, and NO."

...

Did your discipler actually tell you "no"? Of course not. Isn't that sneaky? So sneaky in fact that disciples who are being controlled will nearly always swear they are never told what to do. Rather, they only receive advice. While this is often true, these victims do not realize that, under psychological pressure from their discipler, they may be making many decisions against their own God-given wisdom.

There are times, however, when sneaky is not enough and the controlling discipler needs to use a heavier hand (remember, we are not discussing moral advice). This is called "discipline." A disciple who refuses to yield will be chastened, rebuked, counseled, or will have some other Biblical-sounding word thrown in his face to get cooperation. This frequently involves being told he is not broken, not submissive, not obedient, or not humble. The disciple might be accused of being rebellious, not dying to self, not trusting enough, or being hard hearted. This labeling game usually works remarkably well in abusive discipleships.

The result is that you are compelled not to change jobs, go to school, date, get married, or do other things without first clearing it with your discipler. If he or she does not "feel peace" about it, then you do not really have permission to do it and will probably feel guilty if you go against your discipler's opinion.

I invite you to ask yourself, "Would I have played this game if I had known all the rules?" If you had been told at the outset that to be a disciple meant to obey practically all the advice from your discipler in every area of your life, would you have become involved?
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