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"The Discipleship Game" - commitment manipulation 
29th-Mar-2006 03:45 pm
Here is the conclusion of chapter 1 of "Twisted Scriptures" by Chrnalogar. It describes what is also called deceptive recruiting or the "staged" commitment tactic employed by cults, which I also witnessed in UBF. It also explains why people stay in cults as long as they do.


There is good reason why abusive discipleships do not reveal the rules up front—they would not get many recruits!

People are not exactly beating down the doors of monasteries that teach poverty, chastity and obedience. Commitments like that take time to make. But, unlike monastic orders, abusive discipleships use a "commitment manipulation" tactic: getting people involved first and then introducing them to all the rules. Once people are committed and involved in something, they are much more likely to accept such new information.

I remember a college professor telling me that if a person signs an insurance policy but later finds out it says much more in the fine print than he knew about, that person would still agree with it because he had made the commitment. This is similar to an abusive discipleship. The new disciple does not realize the involvement is the beginning of a long-term and intense commitment, nor does he know all that commitment will involve.

People get involved by participating and, over time, feel committed. Then, when they find out more of what is wanted of them, they go along with it because they have already made a substantial emotional commitment. In some cases, they have also made a financial investment. They have signed on the bottom line and the discipleship will fill in the blanks as they go along.

There is a tendency to justify, and cling to, whatever you are already involved in.
So you must take time to look at all the information in this book before you push it aside. If you are currently participating in a group, I know it will be difficult for you to look at this information objectively. If a group can get you involved first, form your friendships, and gain your trust, then begin to lay one rule after another on you, you will more than likely accept them without argument.

I have faced controlling disciplers and asked them: "Why don't you tell your people up front what your discipleship is all about?" Sometimes they answer that the Lord doesn't lead them that way or that the people are still babes as Christians and would not be able to handle it. This is discipleship code. What it really means is that few would join if they knew beforehand all that will be expected of them. These disciplers are not hiding "deeper truths"—they are hiding manipulation.

(Continues in comments.)
31st-Mar-2006 02:32 am (UTC) - No, Jesus was not an abusive discipler.
(Here's the rest of chapter 1 with a concluding checklist.)

You should wonder why a group would want to conceal the way it really
operates from newcomers or those on the outside. Jesus certainly did
not operate this way. Furthermore, Jesus made it clear he did not
teach something different to his inner circle than what he taught
outsiders (John 18:20).
The insiders even look at each other as more
committed than people not fully in the program of discipleship. In
this book, you will find out more about why some discipleship groups
follow a different practice toward their followers than did Jesus.

In a recent bulletin of a church that had discipleship, there was a
special notation that the discipleship class was by invitation only!
No other activity at this church had this requirement. I had to wonder
what secret Bible knowledge has to be by invitation only. My guess is
that they were teaching some ideas that were controversial to the
average person. They were going to make sure that the only people they
would teach would be those they thought could swallow this stuff
behind closed doors. Their excuse is that some people are not ready
for their lessons yet, and only the discipleship leaders can tell when
they are ready.


Check those that apply to your group:

  • Did not get my fully informed consent before I joined
  • Withheld certain teachings until I was more trusting
  • Wanted my commitment as soon as possible
  • Consistently makes new demands of me
  • Did not tell me that anything less than total obedience is unacceptable
  • Seems to create non-Biblical classes of sins (e.g., labeling people as "full of pride" if they do not agree with the discipler's decisions or advice
  • Leaders do not tell me "no," but instead ask me to "pray about it" and delay my decision
  • See themselves as "more committed" than those not in the discipleship
  • Want me to refrain from making decisions without the discipler's concurrence
  • I am frequently told to "pray about it more" when making decisions
  • Disciples are rebuked for actions that are not really sinful but which merely differ from the leaders' opinions
  • My leader/discipler makes no distinction between moral advice and non-moral advice

NOTE: If you have checked any boxes, it indicates a misunderstanding of Scripture and may represent the presence of abuse and excessive control.
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