UNDERSTANDING THE CULTS
In this twelve-part series we are taking a brief look at some of the major cults, past and present, that have found adherents in the United States. Your pastor can help you if you’d like a more in-depth study of a particular group.
Imagine a world so ancient that even an evolutionist would blush. That world is trillions, perhaps quadrillions, of years old. And you, in one form or another, have been around for much of it. You may not remember your prior existences, but they left “engrams” deeply embedded in your psyche. These traumatic scars came from unpleasant experiences and are locked away in your subconscious mind. But there is a path to freedom. They can be prodded to the surface, confronted, and removed.
Welcome to the world of Scientology.
If it sounds like science fiction, it should. It originated in the mind of L. Ron Hubbard, a prolific sci-fi writer, who, with a P.T. Barnum flair for exaggeration and marketing, parlayed his imagination into a financial empire. In the 1950’s he published Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health. His claim: he had uncovered a new, unprecedented way of understanding the human mind. So groundbreaking was his work, he claimed, that it was on par with the discovery of fire. When properly used, it was more of a game-changer than the invention of the wheel. Hubbard had revealed “the single source of all man’s insanities, psychosomatic illnesses, and neuroses.”
Scientology teaches that man is “an immortal, all-powerful spirit (thetan) which is limited by the effects of past trauma, including past life experiences going back millions of years.” Health and happiness are achieved through “audits” (counseling sessions) using a special “e-meter.” Similar to a lie detector, an e-meter responds to electrical impulses on the skin. As the person being “audited” holds a metal tube in each hand, an indiscernible trickle of voltage is administered through the tubes. Questions are asked, and since thoughts contain “mass and current,” the delicate needle trembles and bounces in response to certain answers. In this way, previously unknown experiences are unearthed. According to Hubbard, “The e-meter is never wrong. It sees all; it knows all. It tells everything.”
The goal of Scientology is to free the thetan (the real you) of engrams that prevent you from entering into the highest state of being. The process of becoming “clear” generates unconscionable profits for the organization. The deeper the counselor probes, the more costly the treatments become.
Scientology became a “church” when Hubbard sought First Amendment protection while feeling pressure from the FBI (for fraud), the IRS (for tax evasion), the FDA (for false claims), and the American Medical Association (for stating that auditing could cure disease). He died on a secluded California ranch in 1986. Church leaders explained that his body had become a liability to his work. He chose to leave it behind on earth in order to advance his research on another planet.
As strange as Scientology is, it demonstrates the truth of Paul’s words, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious” (Acts 17:22). The natural, human heart is a religion factory. We enter this life spiritually blind and dead, with the ability to believe anything—except for God’s plan of salvation. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit creates saving faith through the Gospel.
Leaving the cult of Scientology is a good thing, but simply leaving is not enough. People need to hear that our biggest problem is not from traumatic engrams or previous lives. Our problem is our sin. Before they die, they need to hear that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
Instead of man becoming a god by reaching his full potential, the true God became Man so that He could take our place, conquer our sin and death, and truly set us free.
James Albrecht is pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Okabena, Minnesota.