THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD CHURCH: 100 YEARS OF SYSTEMATIC ABUSE

Posted on  by Jessica Guerrero 

The Light of the World Church. Photo: Google

By JESSICA GUERRERO

MORELIA, Michoacán — June 9, 2022, marked a milestone in the history of the Church of La Luz del Mundo (Light of the World), the most prolific Mexican cult that for almost 100 years has ruled the life and customs of at least 5 million people around the world (1.5 million in Mexico), all of whom witnessed the arrest and imprisonment of their leader Naasón Joaquín García.

The self-proclaimed “Apostle of Jesus Christ,” Joaquín García, finally fell. The hegemony of three messianic generations of alleged abuse, unlimited power and every manner of sexual aberration within this cult, founded by Joaquín García´s grandfather in the 1920s in Central México, reached its most vulnerable moment after its current leader’s detention in 2019.

To the faithful believers of La Luz del Mundo, Joaquín García is more than the cult’s leader. He is seen as the Messiah, the envoy of God and the last apostle of Jesus Christ on Earth. However, to the long list of former cult members and now-victims who are crying out for justice, Joaquín García is a twisted mind capable of perpetrating the most terrible abuses against innocent adolescents and children.

The circumstances in which these alleged sexual crimes against minors took place were within a power relationship exercised by Joaquín García over those young victims who saw in him a supreme being before whom they owed, not only their spiritual fidelity but their bodies as well, so that he could dispose of them at his discretion regardless of their childishness.

Sadly, according to the victims, most of these abuses occurred before the eyes of the community and the families of the victims themselves, who agreed to having their children accompany and serve Joaquín García at all times, encouraging them to do whatever was needed to please him, as he was basically seen as God’s representation on Earth.

According to allegations made by some of the victims and former members of Light of the World Church, the administrative structure of the church even had a group dedicated exclusively to the recruitment and grooming of young parishioners, who would later be prepared to serve, entertain and intimately pleasure Joaquín García.

The Unconditionals, as the women in that circle close to Joaquín Garcia were known, in addition to serving as escorts, recruiters and personal assistants to the so-called Apostle of Jesus Christ, enjoyed a privileged status within the church and carried out important activities, such as managing the cult’s internal media content and organizing mass events, having to travel from the United States to Mexico on a regular basis.

However, these women were also considered exclusive to Joaquín García, and he was the one who had to give his approval so that they could marry another member of the community.

It was not until 2019 that one of Joaquín García’s closest Unconditionals, Sochil Martín, gave him the kiss of Judas and exposed the recurring sexual children exploitation system within the cult to U.S. authorities, resulting in the arrest of the Apostle of Jesus Christ and two of his closest Unconditional servants, Alondra Ocampo and Susana Medina Oaxaca, both of whom were accused of complicity.

Despite the fact that it was not the first scandal of alleged sexual abuse within the Church of the Light of the World that has become known since its foundation, this time it had a great impact and serious consequences due to the first-hand evidence that the plaintiffs presented, as well as the enormous evidence that U.S. authorities found against Joaquín García in his personal electronic devices.

Although Joaquín García’s defense has been led by Alan Jackson, one of the most sought-after lawyers in the United States, the biggest turning point came when Ocampo pleaded guilty to charges of sexual crimes against three teenagers.

According to the lawsuit filed by the victims, Ocampo took three young womento Joaquín García, inducing them, through biblical texts, to dance naked and then participate in sexual acts with Joaquín García.

Ocampo was sentenced to four years in prison for these crimes and was released in early December 2022 for having shown repentance for her actions and for having collaborated with the California prosecutors in the investigation to prosecute the cult’s leader, Joaquín García.

On the other hand, Medina Oaxaca was saved from going to jail after reaching a plea bargain with the California prosecutor, being sentenced to one year of probation after paying a $150,000 bail.

Finally, Joaquín García was accused of 19 crimes, among which were: sexual abuse of minors, rape, possession of child pornography and human trafficking. However, the defendant, on the advice of his lawyer, admitted guilty to three of those crimes, for lewd acts committed with a 15-year-old girl, and for doing the same with another 18-year-old girl.

This strategy allowed the expected sentence for Joaquín García to be reduced to 16 years and eight months, which generated great discontent among the victims, who had expected a maximum sentence for the defendant given the seriousness of the crimes of which he was accused and the impact they have had on their lives.

However, the three accused, as well as the wife and children of Joaquín Garcia still face a civil lawsuit filed by the victims before the Superior Court of Los Angeles.

According to this lawsuit, Joaquín García and other members of the church systematically abused their victims, who were mostly young women, and used religion as a weapon against them. This lawsuit, filed last September, seeks payment for damages caused to the victims.

Nonetheless, in the meantime, the millions of members of this cult are demanding the immediate release of their still-leader Joaquín Garcia. They insist that he is an innocent victim who has been framed and unfairly accused by the California Attorney General’s Office with false evidence.


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RETRIEVED https://pulsenewsmexico.com/2023/01/27/church-of-la-luz-del-mundo-100-years-of-systematic-abuse/

Elite Sydney teacher Cody Reynolds jailed for child abuse cache

A teacher at an elite school viewed “sadistic” videos for sexual gratification, including children forced into sexual acts under gunpoint.

Nathan Schmidt@Nate_R_Schmidty

May 11, 2023 – 3:29PM NCA NewsWire

WARNING: Distressing

A senior teacher at one of Sydney’s most prestigious schools used his work laptop to access a stash of “depraved” child abuse images.

Cody Michael Reynolds, 37, will spend the next 18 months behind bars after being sentenced at Downing Centre Court on Tuesday, more than a year after he was stood down from a prestigious role at Moriah College in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, where parents pay about $35,000 a year. 

Police arrested Reynolds following a raid of his inner city home in March 2022. Officers uncovered a cache of child abuse material on multiple devices and online storage service Megalcoud, including at least 1000 child abuse images and 50 videos.

Investigators uncovered a further 111 images and six videos on Reynolds’ iPhone in a folder hidden on the phone’s camera roll as well as nine images and two videos on his work-assigned laptop.

Cody Michael Reynolds, the former head of English at Moriah College, arrives for sentencing on child abuse material charges. Picture: Simon Bullard

Cody Michael Reynolds, the former head of English at Moriah College, arrives for sentencing on child abuse material charges. Picture: Simon Bullard

Judge Phillip Mahoney told the court the material was “depraved” and showed mostly pre-pubescent males and females aged between 9-16 masturbating or performing sex acts, including with adults.

“The material included sadistic material where children are engaged in sexual activity under gunpoint,” Justice Mahoney said. “In another, a four year old was forced to put his hand on the penis of an older boy.”

The court was told Reynolds used multiple aliases to share child abuse material with users through a concealed WhatsApp application, including an explicit conversation with a user called Xavier about “playing with young boys”.

“The offender transferred videos to a like-minded user encouraging their own gratification,” Justice Mahoney said.

“He deliberately used a sophisticated method, including end-to-end inscription, to minimise detection.”

Cody Reynolds formerly served as head of English at Moriah College.

Cody Reynolds formerly served as head of English at Moriah College.

Reynolds pleaded guilty late last year to using a carriage service to transmit, publish, or promote child abuse material and using a carriage service to possess or control child abuse material.

At the time of his arrest, Reynolds was head of English at Moriah College, a coeducational Modern Jewish Orthodox private school, but was stood down by the elite school within 24-hours of his arrest at his Surry Hills home.

During sentencing, the court was told how Reynold went from being a high-flying teacher presenting his academic studies in Australia and overseas to consuming child abuse material.

“Reynolds would avoid going home to his partner and would instead sit in the storeroom of his apartment building drinking and viewing the child abuse material,” Justice Mahoney told the court. 

“He used it to cope with negative emotions (…) rather than develop healthy coping mechanisms.”

Justice Mahoney said Reynolds had “done everything” to seek out rehabilitation after being charged,

Cody Reynolds used his work laptop to access a stash of ‘depraved’ child abuse images. Picture: Damian Shaw

Cody Reynolds used his work laptop to access a stash of ‘depraved’ child abuse images. Picture: Damian Shaw

The 37-year-old was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder at 21 and later with PTSD following his arrest.

Reynolds “acknowledged in hindsight” the emotional harm that the offending had caused to children depicted in the videos.

The court was also told Reynolds had not met the criteria for a pedophilic disorder and co-operated with police following his arrest.

He was joined in court by his family, who had relocated to Sydney to support him.

Reynolds was sentenced to a total prison term of two years and 10 months.

But Justice Mahoney ordered that he be eligible for release from November 2024.

After that time, he will be required to pay $1000 and continue with rehabilitation treatment.


RETRIEVED https://www.news.com.au/national/courts-law/elite-sydney-teacher-cody-reynolds-jailed-for-child-abuse-cache/news-story/ffbc5feb9d1e2934d1b9f1f6a2844276

Sorry for mixed pages

As there’s finally the #Herculaneum article posted, all of Prof. Richard Carrier’s work appears. The links towards the bottom of these pages give the best low to the 1 of 3, 2 of 3 & 3 of 3 parts. It’s an eye-opening read, which can be ‘a head spinner’ as it questions much of what Christian churches force us to believe …

Twelve Books at Herculaneum that could Change History (2 of 3)

Here’s the remainder of Richard Carrier’s Twelve Books at Herculaneum (nearby Pompeii), that is changing the history our world’s been tricked into thinking. In his own recent words “There is a fabulous ancient treasure still buried at Herculaneum in the Bay of Naples.” continued on to explain much of it has been covered by Mount Vesuvius volcanic ash, since 79ad. Various other documentaries have been made, yet Italian Government restrict further works to be performed, for fear of safety/destruction/landslides.

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1. Pliny the Elder’s History of Rome

Pliny the Elder is so-called because he was the uncle (and adoptive father) of Pliny the Younger, who is the first pagan writer to definitely mention anything about Christianity. The elder Pliny wrote numerous books, from grammar and oratory to biographies and histories, even a technical manual on hurling the Roman battle-lance. But we have only one of his works, an encyclopedia of nature called The Natural History. Yet most famously he continued in thirty-one books a History of Rome begun by Aufidius Bassus, which ended abruptly on the latter’s death in the 30s A.D. Tacitus and other authors used Pliny’s History as a source. And yet Pliny continued the Bassus narrative up to around the year 70. Which indicates Pliny likely dedicated a whole scroll to each year. He also would have been a contemporary to those events, even an eyewitness to them in Rome itself. Yet the younger Pliny, who revered his father’s literary opus (and so cannot have failed to have read it), signals he knew nothing of Christians, either what they believed or what crimes they were prosecuted for, which assuredly tells us that his father’s History never mentioned them either—which would establish Tacitus’s purported account of Christianity, and its relation to the burning of Rome, almost certainly a later forgery or interpolation (see Blom on the Testimonium Taciteum). 

That makes this the single most important history book we could find at Herculaneum. And since Pliny was a renowned author and naval commander stationed across the bay from this very villa, it would be incredible if its host did not have his famous neighbor’s complete works. Of course, I suspect Christians never get mentioned in Pliny’s History, and that instead (as I have argued in two academic studies) the people executed by Nero as scapegoats for the burning of Rome were actually ordinary messianic Jews maintaining the memory of a completely different hero hated by that city for their previous riots: Chrestus of Rome. Tacitus’s volume on the Chrestus era is lost, so we don’t know what he said about it there (and Josephus conspicuously avoids even a passing mention of it). But if we had Pliny’s History, we’d have his account of those riots as well (and who or what was actually responsible for them), and not just his account of the 64 A.D. fire, which also would be earth-shattering to have. Needless to say, this is a book quite a lot of people today want to be found. It’s very likely to be waiting for us.

2. Ovid’s Complete Fasti

The famous Roman poet Ovid wrote a detailed epic poem about the entire Roman sacred calendar, called the Fasti(“Holidays”), describing in religious and ceremonial terms what went on each day and why. Only the first half of this survives (covering January to June). It is highly likely any Roman elite would have a complete edition. So the odds it’s at Herculaneum are high. Apart from the boundless general value of recovering a detailed description of the second half of the Roman sacred calendar, there is another reason finding this would have a profound impact today:

Another strange loss concerns the annual festival of Romulus in which his death and resurrection were reenacted in public passion plays … That festival was held on the 7th of July … It seems strange that the text cuts off precisely before the month in which a passion play is described that was the most similar to that of Jesus Christ. 

The fact that we have other descriptions of this festival (albeit none as complete as Ovid’s would have been) does mean there was no organized conspiracy to doctor the record … but this along with all the other cases [I survey many—ed.] indicates a common trend among individual Christians to act as gatekeepers of information, suppressing what they didn’t like. Which collectively destroyed a lot of information.OHJ, P. 303

So, it would be nice to have it back. We could then directly compare Ovid’s account of Romulus cult with the Christian legends about Jesus. (Until then, see Richard Miller, Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity.)

3. Celsus’s Complete Encyclopedia of the Sciences

As I wrote in The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire:

More impressive [than earlier encyclopedias of the sciences] was the Latin encyclopedia of Aulus Cornelius Celsus, written in the early 1st century A.D. His Arts covered multiple sciences in better detail, with many volumes devoted to each. Unfortunately only his volumes on the history and practice of medicine survive. What other subjects were surveyed in the lost volumes, and how many, is not entirely known, although it is certain rhetoric, agriculture and military science were among them, and that his work was highly prized for its excellence. Agricultural and military science were particularly suited to recently fashionable Roman interests and national character, while medicine and rhetoric were already [so]. His On Agriculture filled five volumes and was among the best surveys of the subject according to Columella, On Agricultural Matters 1.1.14. SCIENTIST, PP. 375-76 

Given that last fact, Celsus’s agro-volumes surely would have included discussions of what we know was then advanced yet common waterwheel technology (see my discussion in Ancient Industrial Machinery & Modern Christian Mythology), a treatment otherwise lost (we have to reconstruct their knowledge of automation from archaeology and indirect references; cf. Scientist, index, “waterwheel”). 

There may have been more subjects covered in the lost volumes (Science Education, p. 67 n. 155). The ones we have references to are the same treated by Varro in his own Encyclopedia of the Arts a century earlier (which was also famous, and also likely to be at Herculaneum, but less detailed and more out-of-date than we expect of Celsus). Hence as I wrote in Scientist (Ibid.):

[It] is conceivable that Celsus treated the same nine arts as Varro and added two or three others. His extant treatment of medicine is so excellent and incorporates such a quantity of first-hand reports that scholars still debate whether Celsus was himself a doctor. Though most conclude in the negative, all agree he was superbly educated in the field for a layman, and judging from the opinion of his peers he seems to have been as well versed in all the other sciences he wrote on.

Celsus began his section on medicine with a transition from the prior (lost) volumes on agricultural science … The logic of his transition from agriculture to medicine (as arts that nourish and heal the body) in his preface to the latter might suggest a twelfth and final topic was planned or completed, on philosophy (as the art that nourishes and heals the soul), although other subjects are possible (such as gymnastics or the graphic and plastic arts).

If that’s true, then we would also have a key source at last for an important period of ancient philosophy otherwise very poorly sourced: the turn of the era, when such massively famous personages as Posidonius and Musonius Rufus flourished, and an entire eclectic sect was developed that ended the dominance of philosophical dogmatism, importantly influencing subsequent Roman scientists (see Scientist, index, “eclecticism,” and my examples to follow). But even apart from that, any of Celsus’s encyclopedia would be valuable to have.

4. Varro’s Encyclopedia of Religion

We would still benefit from Varro’s more obsolete Encyclopedia of the Sciences, to be sure, and given how famous Varro was to Romans in the first century, it, too, stands a good chance of being at Herculaneum. Likewise any of his numerous other writings. But even more important a find would be his other encyclopedia, On Things Human and Divine, which was published in two sections, On Things Human in 25 volumes, and On Things Divine in 16 volumes (again, as I noted already, an ancient volume, scroll, also called a “book,” contained the equivalent material to a modern book chapter). Composed in the first century B.C., literally right before Christianity began, it would have to have had entire sections on the mystery religions and as much of their myths and rituals as could be made public—and possibly even material on Hellenistic Judaism. 

For example, as I explain in Historicity:

In [his essay the] Tabletalk, Plutarch is discussing the equivalence of Yahweh and Dionysus, and linking Jewish theology to the mystery religions, when suddenly the text is cut off. We have no idea how much is missing, although the surviving table of contents shows there were several sections remaining on other subjects besides this one.OHJ, P. 303

Plutarch will have written after the burying of Herculaneum, so that won’t be there. But Plutarch’s source might be; and the most likely known candidate is Varro’s On Things Divine. Many Christian writers cited it as a valuable source on pagan religion. Wouldn’t you like to know what it says?

5. The Flavian Memoirs or The Acta Diurna

Not only was there a sort of official newspaper of the empire called the Acta Diurna that any Roman elite, particularly in Italy, is likely to have many volumes of—which would be a priceless find, particularly for the years of our greatest interest, such as, again, the Chrestus riots under Claudius or the real targets of Nero’s persecution (these Acts most likely focused on decrees and events at Rome rather than the provinces, but you never know what provincial news might have found its way into them)—but we also know both Emperors Vespasian and Titus (Vespasian’s son and successor) wrote Memoirs, which would have included eyewitness accounts of their prosecution of the Jewish War and related matters.

6. Seneca’s On Superstition

As I explained in On the Historicity of Jesus:

Seneca the Younger wrote a treatise On Superstition sometime between 40 and 62 [A.D.] that lambasted every known cult at Rome, even the most trivial or obscure—including the Jews—but never mentioned Christians, an omission [that the Christian author] Augustine later struggled to explain. And that despite the fact that this Seneca was the brother of the same Gallio whom Christians are brought on trial before in Greece according to Acts 18.12-17 (he was the governor of that province in the early 50s). OHJ, P. 296

Seneca was a very popular and fashionable author, and a denizen of Rome, not that far from Herculaneum itself. The odds are good some of his Latin works would be there, and this important lost work among them. What might we learn from it of ancient religion? Or ancient Judaism? Or the mystery religions? And wouldn’t it be a curious thing if we confirmed it omitted any mention of Christians? We aren’t sure when Seneca wrote it, but he died the year after the burning of Rome. So it could be odd if we recovered it and determined it came out that year, yet had no remark upon the most famous tale of superstition Tacitus supposedly had pause ever to remark upon.


(Continued on from 1 of 3 and onto 3 of 3)

Twelve Books at Herculaneum that could Change History (3 of 3)

Here’s the remainder of Richard Carrier’s Twelve Books at Herculaneum (nearby Pompeii), that is changing the history our world’s been tricked into thinking. In his own recent words “There is a fabulous ancient treasure still buried at Herculaneum in the Bay of Naples.” continued on to explain much of it has been covered by Mount Vesuvius volcanic ash, since 79ad. Various other documentaries have been made, yet Italian Government restrict further works to be performed, for fear of safety/destruction/landslides.

7. Ptolemaïs of Cyrene’s Two Treatises on Science

Ptolemais of Cyrene was in her own day a renowned scientist and expert in acoustics, harmonics, and music theory, sometime near the turn of the era. Authors who quote her treatise on that subject, Pythagorean Principles of Music, consistently regard it as renowned and authoritative. That makes this a known important-yet-lost work of the only known female research scientist in the Hellenistic era. That alone would make it a prize worth rescuing and having. But what we also know is that in her highly respected treatise on harmonics she sought to bring disparate doctrines into a single unified science, and she actually wrote another treatise generalizing that method to all the sciences—arguing the importance of combining empirical with rational methodology, rather than treating them as at odds or as different inquiries—an achievement that was influential not just in her own field, but in others. Eclecticism (the opposite of dogmatism) and unification (combining the best of different theorists and methodologies and scrapping the worst) begin to appear in all extant scientists after her date, making hers possibly a major contribution to the modernization of science. 

Again there is no telling what else she may have done. But these two works alone suggest a trend seen also in Galen a century or two later in the life sciences: seeking to unify a scientific field’s disparate theories and ideas, and establish the correct methods for pursuing it. We see evidence of this (merging atomism with Aristotelianism, for example; likewise empiricism and rationalism, experimental and theoretical science, mathematics and table-top instruments, and the like) in Ptolemy and Hero as well, bringing it into the fields of astronomy and the rest of physics. See my discussion of all these points in The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire. Given the Herculaneum magnate’s clear and deep interest in matters of science, logic, and mathematics (from his shelf full of books on the subject), and Ptolemaïs’s works’ clear and influential fame across the sciences, I think there are reasonable odds we can find it there, making hers the first extant scientific study published by a woman.

8. Pamphila’s Historical Notes or Agrippina’s Memoirs

Speaking of women as authors, there were many in antiquity, yet almost none preserved by patriarchal Christians in the Middle Ages. But two come particularly to mind whose lost books we would very much like to recover: Pamphila of Epidaurus wrote thirty-three volumes of Historical Notes on events up to her own time, which was around 60 A.D. So once again, contemporary accounts of events right during the dawn of Christianity. She wrote several other works (on famous women; on sex; and various miscellanies and epitomes). But having the first known female historian’s treatise on history would be a great find. More so as she was probably also Black—and thus would the be among the first extant Black historians (since sources describe her as Egyptian by descent, and not merely a Greek from Egypt); though she wouldn’t be the first altogether (earlier Africans we know wrote books; Juba, for example). 

Given the wide use later historians made of Pamphila’s Notes, and her just having published it not two decades before, it bears a reasonable probability our Herculaneum collector would have had a copy. There are other famous works from women we would like to have, such as Leontion’s treatise Against Theophrastus, which could be the first feminist treatise ever written. Given that she was a famous Epicurean philosopher—indeed, she was a student of Epicurus himself, and companion of Metrodorus, whose books were in the Herculaneum cache—someone, in fact, even Cicero had read and also assumed his readers would be well familiar with, and given that our Herculaneum collector was fond of works from Epicureans, it follows that her book, too, stands a reasonable chance of being there. 

Another likely find in this category:

The memoirs of Julia Agrippina (Nero’s mother, Caligula’s sister, and Claudius’s wife), which Tacitus employed as a source. She was assassinated by Nero in 59, too early to report on events of 64, but her work must have covered events up to at least 54 (Nero’s accession). She was born in 15, and her close position to Caligula and Claudius makes it reasonable to expect she might have mentioned Christianity if it were at all significant (e.g. if the Chrestus event under Claudius really did have anything to do with Christ).]OHJ, P. 295

Agrippina was a famous and important personage of the time, and it was particularly popular to spite Nero in the years after his death by supporting causes and authors he opposed. Agrippina’s Memoirs thus also stands a reasonable chance of being found at Herculaneum.

9. Petronius’s Satyricon or Against Nero

Petronius is renowned for being a prominent member of the senate and imperial court of Nero. The latter forced him to commit suicide in 66 A.D. yet he composed and published a damning treatise against Nero in revenge before completing the deed, which was referenced by other authors like Tacitus. This could hardly omit reflection on Nero’s murders of scapegoats for the burning of Rome—and thus revealing whether indeed it was any such group as the Christians, as the text of Tacitus now says. Petronius is also regarded as the author of the infamous Satyricon, which bears eerie similarities to stories in the New Testament, and whose date and authorship has been importantly challenged, which dispute really needs a resolution, because it affects a great deal about how we see what the Gospel authors are doing (see my discussion in Robyn Faith Walsh and the Gospels as Literature). Either of these would therefore be an important find. And as they fall into the category of recently popular “rage lit” against Nero, in Latin, and composed by a nearby notable, there’s a reasonable chance either could be at Herculaneum.

Important Writers Likely to Be Found There

After those nine or so titles of particular interest and likelihood, there are also many then-famous writers who wrote numerous books on many subjects, any of which would be a prize to recover. I’ll just name the top three in my areas of interest…

10. Agathinus

Agathinus was one of the most important medical theorists in the 1st century A.D. He might post-date Herculaneum or pre-date it. But he is of considerable historical significance as a Stoic who nevertheless established an “eclectic” medical sect called the Episynthetics, which specifically rejected the splitting of medical theory into sects and sought unification of theories under a common empirical regime (so, possibly another scientist influenced by Ptolemaïs). Which is important to the history of science because this sectarianism had become excessive over the preceding century, reminiscent of the sectarian divisions within 20th century psychology, and it is notable that deliberate efforts were beginning under the Romans to end this. Indeed Agathinus’s efforts would later inspire Galen.

Agathinus wrote on numerous medical subjects, but most significantly including an empirical treatise on the dosage requirements of the poison hellebore, employed as an emetic (to induce vomiting) or (we also know) commonly as an abortifacient. Scholars argue his treatise was based on (and thus reported) his own dosage experiments performed on animals to tailor dose to body mass. This would reflect possibly the first controlled medical study; as well as the first formal medical study of chemical abortion and birth control. And the Herculaneum collector could have this, or other works of Agathinus, owing to his considerable fame and importance in that very century.

11. Posidonius

Posidonius was literally the greatest scientist of his century (the 1st century B.C.), with extraordinary fame and renown, yet nothing he wrote survives. As I wrote in Scientist:

Posidonius even built a machine that replicated the movement of the seven known planets. Cicero’s description of this device certifies it was a proper orrery (a luniplanetary armillary sphere)—a machine that represents the solar system in three dimensions, in rings that can be rotated to reproduce the actual relative motion and position of the seven planets over time. This was probably a significant improvement on a similar machine Archimedes had built over a century before; Posidonius would have known of important corrections and improvements to planetary theory developed after him. … 

It is also possible Posidonius constructed a dial computer, a kind of astronomical clock, which indicates planetary positions (and even lunar phases and other data) two-dimensionally, through a gear-driven dial readout [such as we actually found; in fact, its date and location are apposite enough that that might even be his; or one he built for a client].SCIENTIST, PP. 145-47

Overall, Posidonius wrote over thirty books on countless philosophical and scientific subjects, including books on astronomy, meteorology and climatology, earthquakes and lightning, seismology and volcanology, mathematics, geography, oceanography, zoology, botany, psychology, anthropology, ethnology and history, and beyond. He notably wrote up a study on flammable minerals (including varieties of petroleum and coal). He famously tried calculating the size of the Earth by a novel method—though erred, and his error was picked up by Ptolemy and eventually Christopher Columbus; though unlike Columbus, Ptolemy recognized its inaccuracy and developed the system of locating positions on Earth by degrees of latitude and longitude to overcome that problem. 

Posidonius also had some knowledge of lenses and magnification and may have begun research on the subject; but either way, he certainly had knowledge of lenses that magnify through refraction (as evinced in Strabo, Geography 3.1.5; Cleomedes, On the Heavens 2.6; Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 5.82; cf. Seneca, Natural Questions 1.6.5–7). Such work would bear comparison with later research by Ptolemy on exactly the same subject (Scientist, index, “lenses”). No scientific treatise on the subject survives from antiquity, although missing sections of Ptolemy’s Optics appear to have included it, and there is ample evidence its study predated Ptolemy (Ibid.). 

Given his fame and the importance of his books, recognized even in his own day, the probability is quite high that there will be works of Posidonius at Herculaneum. Any of them would be valuable to recover; but especially any that might have discussed the science of magnifying lenses, or petroleum or coal, or the sizes and distances of the planets.

12. Seleucus of Seleucia

Finally, of superlative importance would be recovering any of the lost works of the astronomer Seleucus, who lived in the 2nd century B.C. and was the student of Aristarchus—and actually the most famous heliocentrist in antiquity. We now enfame Aristarchus for being the first known heliocentrist, all but having forgotten Seleucus. But Plutarch, who read their works, says Aristarchus proposed heliocentrism as “only a hypothesis” but that Seleucus “demonstrated it” (Platonic Questions 8.1 = Moralia 1006c). That would actually make his work on the subject the more important; and ancient readers knew it. Plutarch does not say how Seleucus proved heliocentrism—indicating Plutarch could trust any reader already knew, which entails a rather considerable renown for the man and his achievement. We also know from elsewhere that Seleucus was famous for discovering lunisolar tide theory, recognizing that a form of universal gravitation from sun, moon, and Earth explains and predicts the behavior of ocean tides (e.g. Pliny the Elder, Natural History 2.99.212–218 and 2.102.221; Cicero, On Divination 2.34 and On the Nature of the Gods 2.7.15–16; Seneca, On Providence 1.4; Cleomedes, On the Heavens 156; Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos 1.2.3–6; Strabo, Geography 3.5.8 and 1.1.8–12). 

We might infer Seleucus put this together as an explanation of a heliocentric solar system as well; certainly, Galileo thought so (see Galileo’s Goofs: Lessons We Can Learn from Failure). And Plutarch hints as much (see Ancient Theories of Gravity: What Was Lost?). And regardless, many Roman authors were quite familiar with his work. Direct and indirect attestations range from Seneca’s Natural Questions (which does not survive whole and the lost portions could indeed be at Herculaneum as well) to Plutarch’s On the Face in the Moon. Given that even Seneca, a major Latin author from Rome, includes mention of heliocentrism and debates surrounding it just a couple decades before the destruction of Herculaneum, and given how readily ancient authors knew Seleucus’s work and assumed everyone else did, it seems reasonable to expect we could find Seleucus’s “proof” of heliocentrism at Herculaneum, or at least his treatise on lunisolar tide theory or universal gravitation, which would be extraordinary.

And Much More

As I said, there could be other books by these authors, and so many authors and books we don’t even have a surviving mention of. Recovering their lost names and works for posterity would be an inestimable honor to them and an achievement for humanity. But there will also be works there of greater magnitude. 

This includes countless scientific treatises. Almost all of that genre was destroyed by medieval Christians—more out of mere disinterest than hostility, but sometimes, yes, hostility (I document in Ch. 5 of Scientist that even the liberal-minded Origen commanded the shunning, and thus discarding, of all scientific and philosophical works by ancient atomists, and even Aristotelians, which will have encompassed the majority of ancient science). Just one subdivision of that subject, life and mineral sciences, illustrates the point (see my article The Sociology of Ancient Scientists Cannot Be Based on Medieval Source Selection); likewise gravitation and dynamics (see Ancient Theories of Gravity: What Was Lost?); and more. In Scientist I mention a great deal else, from lost treatises on combinatorics and permutation theory, to studies of air pressure and magnetism. Any of this, too, could be there.

This also includes countless historical treatises. Besides the many examples I already mentioned, there are more. As I wrote in Historicity:

Marcus Velleius Paterculus sketched a history of the Romans from their mythic past up to the year 29 [A.D.] (of which parts survive) and [the native African] King Juba of Mauretania did the same up to around the year 20 (none of which survives) … [Likewise] Marcus Servilius Nonianus, who we know wrote a dedicated history of the first century up to at least the year 41 [and he wrote it in the late 50s]. … [And] Cluvius Rufus, ex-consul and Nero’s personal herald in the mid-first century, having served in the Senate since the 30s, wrote a detailed history of events during the reign of Nero, beginning with the reign of Caligula in the year 37, and continuing past Nero up to the reign of Otho in the year 69. This surely would have discussed Nero’s persecution of Christians in 64, which would have required a digression on Jesus and Christianity, which in turn would likely touch on the relevant details of the appellate case of Paul before Nero in 62 (if that even happened) and what was claimed in that case, and how it degenerated into the execution of scores if not hundreds of Christians just a couple years later for the crime of burning the city of Rome, surely the single most famous event of that or any adjacent year … [Likewise] Fabius Rusticus wrote a history during Nero’s reign that covered events up to his own time, which may have gotten as far as his death or at least the persecution [of Christians], and at any rate covered events under Augustus and Tiberius (and Claudius) and thus would very likely have noticed Christianity if it was notable at all. 

And that’s just of lost histories we know about, because someone else mentions them. So whether your jam is science or history (or any other subject of poetry or prose), you, too, should want Herculaneum to finally be excavated, to rescue this treasure hoard unparalleled in human value.

(Continued on from 1 of 2 and 2 of 3)


About The Author

Richard Carrier is the author of many books and numerous articles online and in print. His avid readers span the world from Hong Kong to Poland. With a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia University, he specializes in the modern philosophy of naturalism and humanism, and the origins of Christianity and the intellectual history of Greece and Rome, with particular expertise in ancient philosophy, science and technology. He is also a noted defender of scientific and moral realism, Bayesian reasoning, and historical methods.


RETRIEVED Carrier, R. (2023). Twelve Books at Herculaneum That Could Change History. Retrieved via www.richardcarrier.info/archives/23380.

Twelve Books at Herculaneum that could Change History (1 of 3)

Alike the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls & how contesting divisions of churches-academic-historians continue to debate these: here will be the sharing of more of Richard Carrier’s Twelve Books at Herculaneum (nearby Pompeii) that could Change History. In his own recent words “There is a fabulous ancient treasure still buried at Herculaneum in the Bay of Naples.” continued on to explain much of it has been covered by Mount Vesuvius volcanic ash, since 79ad.

Here are the opening parts …

There is a fabulous ancient treasure still buried at Herculaneum in the Bay of Naples. It is an actual ancient library that has been locked under a veritable rock of volcanic ash since 79 A.D. It likely contains thousands of scrolls, comprising hundreds of books. As I’ll explain shortly, a few hundred were recovered in the 19th century. But many are probably still sitting there—waiting to be excavated. The reasons this hasn’t happened yet are complicated, and aren’t just financial, but political (no one can agree on priorities), though there are rumblings of late to try and go back in. What might we find if we do? I have often been asked this in interviews. Today I will spell out my answer.

The Herculaneum Library

It is important to note that this site wasn’t an actual public library. Nearly every significant city had one of those (one of the many public welfare programs of the Roman Empire and its societal regimes: see my discussion of this fact in Science Education in the Early Roman Empire, index, “libraries, public”). There was one at Pompeii. But its contents were vaporized by pyroclastic flow. The Herculaneum site is actually just the private estate of a wealthy magnate (possibly even a descendant of Calpurnius Piso himself, Julius Caesar’s father-in-law). But wealthy elites (the Elon Musks of their day) maintained impressive libraries of their own. Unlike Pompeii’s, this one was slowly cooked by falling ash and heat, leaving its books charcoal, but still otherwise intact. 

And we have the technology now to read their contents. Indeed, an official competition is now on to read the scrolls we already recovered. Some of them a century ago had been read the old-fashioned way: by smushing or breaking them into pieces and trying to puzzle our way into what was written on them. But this was inaccurate and destructive, so the process was halted; with our new and better tech, it’s back on. In actual reality we have not recovered any scrolls from the library itself. That remains unexcavated. Instead, as archaeologists dug into the courtyard of the villa in the 19th century, they found a bunch of hastily filled crates in a staging area, evidently mid-evacuation. The owner was apparently trying to ship the scrolls out last minute during the eruption, but gave up. 

We don’t know how many books they successfully made off with, or how many are still in the library; and some scrolls were accidentally destroyed by our archaeologists or their laborers. But the cache we recovered from the staging area still amounts to around 1800 papyri. That doesn’t mean 1800 scrolls (much less books; a single scroll is roughly one chapter of a book). Some 500 of that number are just charred fragments (which could belong to only a few scrolls, and in any case won’t get us even a whole chapter much less book), some 970 more are actual scrolls but so badly damaged that we won’t be able to recover their entire contents no matter what we do; and only about 340 are intact scrolls that we have a chance to fully recover. In all, this amounts to maybe 100-200 books (with 30-40 of them in recoverable condition). There were likely hundreds more. Of what we have, there is an Oxford Resource page, and an index that shows how few of these have even been identified, much less translated.

Most of what we have recovered appear to comprise one shelf in the magnate’s home library, containing numerous works of an otherwise little-known Epicurean philosopher, Philodemus of Gadara. And yes, that’s Gadara of the Gadarene swine. He hails from the very town Jesus supposedly visited (although Philodemus had already died the previous century). Much as the finds at Qumran did for Judaism, the Herculaneum texts of Philodemus changed a lot of what we think about ancient world, not just trivially (as I wrote about in a previous humor-piece), but even in weighty subjects like science and philosophy. For example, these works reference a lot more going on then in mathematics and logic than we knew about, including important studies of inductive logic and probability theory, even discussions of non-Euclidean geometry (see The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire, p. 60 n. 153). The remaining books in the cache are almost entirely from other Epicurean authors, and mostly on subjects in philosophy (Demetrius of Laconia; PolyaenusColotes and Metrodorus, all of Lampsacus; Polystratus and CarneiscusZeno of Sidon; even lost works of Epicurus himself). In fact many of these treatises are on logic and mathematics; and apart from one exception (which I will discuss shortly), the only non-Epicurean works identified in the cache so far are a few lost works of the famed Stoic Chrysippus, yet also touching on math and logic.

All of which confirms the library shelved books by subject—and that we have only found a small fraction of that library.

Thistle V of Herculaneum. (Wikipedia)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herculaneum

What Else Could Be There?

It’s unlikely the Herculaneum villa’s library only contained this stuff. It’s all too narrow and niche in subject, and by all accounts the ancient elite were proud of amassing diverse collections in their libraries, and embarrassed not to have succeeded (for a good recent account, see George Houston’s study Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity). What we have appears to merely be a couple of shelves of volumes, maybe just one bookcase, all from the same spot, probably swept directly into the crates we found them in and staged in the courtyard to await a wagon to haul them.

There would have been a great deal else. Literature, history, science. Epistolaries, miscellanies, essays. Memoirs, novels, biographies. Satires. The work of orators and poets. Philosophy and mathematics. Scientific studies and technical manuals. Dictionaries and encyclopedias; and more (I survey the kinds of books that existed in antiquity in Ch. 8 of On the Historicity of Jesus, and throughout both Scientist and Science Education). For example, a prominent Latin collector near to Rome is likely to have had the epistolaries (published letter collections) of Cicero. While we already have copies of those, finding editions scribed within decades of his death would still be of considerable use. More importantly, medieval Christians chose not to preserve almost all ancient literature; so there could be epistolaries from other authors here, famous and obscure. And even poets and orators and novelists, besides being priceless to recover just in respect to the history of art, would also have commented on various subjects of importance, such as popular religion and events (you can see, as just one example, that in both Scientistand Science Education I glean a great deal from all kinds of sources on matters of ancient science, technology, and economics). 

There was a great deal else. To illustrate with a single example: we know another popular genre of the era would also be informative to find more of, paradoxography, or “collections of wonders and miracles.” We have some of those (pre-Herculaneum, Pseudo-Aristotle; post-Herculaneum Phlegon of Tralles). But it was an enormously popular genre spanning every century from the fourth B.C. to well after Vesuvius erupted (e.g. CallimachusPalaephatusPhilostephanusAntigonusArchelausApolloniusHeraclitusMyrsilus, even the famous Varroand Cicero wrote such works, now lost; and those are just the ones we know about). Thus what we can expect to find under the ash of Herculaneum is not just lost books we know existed, but books and authors we never knew did. And no matter what we find, it will all teach us something we didn’t know about the ancient world; probably many things.

Consider the sole exception to the subject-theme of the books we recovered from the courtyard staging area: a lost history of Seneca the Elder (the then-famous father of the now-famous Seneca). Sadly, we can’t fully reconstruct it due to extensive damage. But it would have been nice to get it all, because that history ran up to the end of the reign of Tiberius, making it a text (heretofore entirely lost) recording Roman history during the very time when Jesus is supposed to have lived, which was written by a contemporary to those events. Since it began its narrative during the civil war of Julius Caesar, it only covered a single-century span of events, which could mean it was quite detailed. Could it have discussed Judean affairs in any important way? What about other things, unrelated to Christianity?

Needless to say, we can’t know what books are still there (or that we might yet decipher from the several hundred volumes we already have), but we can play certain probabilities, given what was popular, and where this library was located, and the family that curated it, and details we can glean from the books already recovered. For example, it’s quite unlikely we’ll find anything directly from Christian or Jewish authors or extensively on their affairs; in contrast to how likely it is we could find the works I shall list. I won’t survey every interesting possibility (I give a list of relevance to Christian history in OHJ, Ch. 8; and to the history of science and technology, in SERE, Ch. 3; and those surround just two areas of interest of easily dozens one might contemplate). But I will single out twelve authors whose books I think stand a high probability of being there, and that could contain material that would change history as we know it (at least in subject fields I’ve published in). I could also add many other possible ways we’d learn from these discoveries; but I’ll focus only on one top example of what they could contain that would draw the most worldwide interest.

… parts 2 & 3 will contain 12 predated alternatives + more: Part 2 of 3 and 3 of 3.

Past presumptions

In an unexpected ‘sports result’ & with numerous congratulations given, RCbbc can now post that 2 of the 3 ‘presumptions’ that were made in the 2013-17 Royal Commission of some other victims have now been admitted true. As devastating as that was, an unexpected leap in the victims/families/relatives/schools from other houses & years have also come forth. It’s motivation like these moments, that drive RCbbc on.

BBC Captain’s badge, including logo: “Sit Sine Labe Decus”

There’s no greater reward, than hearing that some of this info has helped ‘bridge the gap’ that was left by the ongoing effects of CSA. Unfortunately these same scenario continue, yet the level of protection is harder to break/sneak through than before. Abuse is a result of human nature, which can be taught out our society, which we still have to be ‘critical’ (suspicious) of. Sit Sine Labe Decus; let Honor stainless be.

Paedophile Offender: Brother Darcy O’Sullivan

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Brother Dominic

The Marist Brothers have a lot to answer for when it comes to Darcy O’Sullivan, otherwise known as Brother Dominic.

In the 1970s and 1980s, O’Sullivan taught at the Marist Brothers College in Hamilton, Newcastle, and St Mary’s High School in Casino, on the northeast coast of New South Wales. 

In 1996, O’Sullivan was almost appointed the principal of the Marist Brothers College.

This is all in spite of the numerous child sexual abuse rumours and claims circling O’Sullivan at the time. In this article, we expose O’Sullivan’s horrific crimes and share how he was brought to justice.

Other Marist Brothers knew O’Sullivan was abusing his students

Other Marist Brothers knew what O’Sullivan doing to his students. In fact, it was another Marist Brother who inadvertently turned O’Sullivan into the authorities in January 1997.

Brother Anthony Hunt — otherwise known as Brother Irenaeus — was Brother Superior of the Marist Brothers in Lismore in the mid-1980s. Like O’Sullivan, Brother Anthony was teaching primary and secondary students in the area.

At the time, the police were investigating another Marist Brother in Lismore, Brother Gregory Sutton. Sutton was a serial paedophile and had served 12 years in prison for 67 sex crimes committed against children. This included 23 instances of sexual intercourse, 46 indecent assaults, seven acts of indecency and one gross act of indecency.

Sutton had been extradited to Australia after fleeing to the United States.

In 1997, Brother Anthony came forward to police with a list of Marist Brothers who were working alongside Sutton in Lismore in the 1980s and O’Sullivan was on the list.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, O’Sullivan abused 27 students in Hamilton and Casino

O’Sullivan was in his thirties when he started abusing his students. He worked at the Marist Brothers College in Hamilton from 1971 to 1972 and abused more than a dozen students. 

As he walked around the classroom teaching technical drawing, he would touch the boys and slide his hands up their shorts. He would become aggressive when the boys asked questions.

He would begin to walk quietly around the classroom for most of the period, the time of danger. Brother Dominic had complete physical power over me,” a victim told Judge Kate Traill in the Sydney District Court in 2016.

Brother Dominic presented as very confident and urbane but would quickly descend into a deep and barely suppressed anger.” 

On other occasions, O’Sullivan would grope the genitals and buttocks of boys who were sent to his office for punishment, making them sit on his lap or bend over in front of him.

He would tell the boys they shouldn’t have been sent to his office in the first place and it was their fault they were being abused.

Another victim said the school was like a “smorgasbord” for O’Sullivan.

“He would take you out of the classroom into a storeroom and he’d just go for it. He’d do it on the veranda where anyone could see. He’d push you up against the wall and when he was finished he’d take you back in and take another boy out,” the victim said.

It was like he had open slather. After what we heard at the royal commission, we now know that was true.”

O’Sullivan’s victims were from good Catholic families, so the boys were afraid to tell their parents about the abuse. One victim had the courage to tell his devout Catholic father about multiple instances of abuse and instead of going to the police, his father beat him with a torch.

Another student from the Hamilton school told the principal O’Sullivan had been touching him. The principal told the student O’Sullivan was just being friendly or it was an accident, then told the child to go back to class.

The physical and psychological impact on O’Sullivan’s victims is immeasurable

Many of O’Sullivan’s victims are now living with mental health issues. 

One of his victims is now triggered by paper because O’Sullivan would touch students while they were doing their work in class, so he now hoards and has 20 years of mail tied up in bags.

Another student from Casino burnt his house down in a failed suicide attempt and told the Sydney District Court he’d experienced an intense mental breakdown at 19-years-old due to the abuse he experienced as a child. 

O’Sullivan faced the courts in 2013 and 2016 — he denied any wrongdoing

In July 2013, O’Sullivan faced the Newcastle Local Court on eight charges involving four boys from the Marist Brothers College in Hamilton. News of O’Sullivan’s court case attracted more allegations and in 2014, additional charges were laid against O’Sullivan regarding a victim from Casino.

In March 2016, O’Sullivan pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to a maximum of six years in prison for crimes against 12 students. However, two years later O’Sullivan did a complete backflip in the Sydney District Court. O’Sullivan showed a complete lack of empathy for his victims and denied ever touching them but instead claimed he had a “paternal interest” in them.

I absolutely deny to this court, to her honour, that I have ever indulged in that sort of behaviour in all of my life,” O’Sullivan claimed before Sydney District Court Judge Kate Traill.

O’Sullivan also agreed he signed a statement of facts detailing his criminal acts against the victims but said “in my heart of hearts I don’t believe all of that happened.”

He also claimed to be “stressed and fearful” in prison because another inmate hit him with a loaf of bread. Judge Traill said this incident was “relatively minor” and sentenced him to another eight years in jail for crimes against a further 15 students. 

In February 2019, O’Sullivan, now in his eighties, faced the Newcastle Local Court regarding further allegations from the 1970s, including two counts of indecent assault on a boy and three counts of indecent assault against another boy, both in Hamilton. He will face court again later in 2019.

Royal Commission found the Marist Brothers cared very little about the allegations against O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan was allowed to slip through the cracks in the Marist Brothers school system. 

In 2016, the Royal Commission found the Marist Brothers cared so little about the allegations against O’Sullivan that he was almost made principal of the Marist Brothers College in Hamilton.

Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Bishop Michael Malone received complaints within hours of the appointment and called the Order to cancel it. 

The Commission also heard from multiple Marist Brothers who claimed Malone knew about the allegations and moved O’Sullivan to other parishes to avoid trouble. In a Marist Brothers provincial council meeting, Malone claimed:

Brother Dominic O’Sullivan is unable to go to Hamilton next year because of health reasons. Discussion on the possible replacement for Brother Dominic took place.”

The commission decided Malone was attempting to hide the truth about O’Sullivan to protect the order. Malone claimed he had “no memory” of this, despite it being recorded in the council meeting minutes.

O’Sullivan was allowed to run rampant in New South Wales schools, even though the Marist Brothers knew full well what was going on.

O’Sullivan was allowed to traumatise and ruin the lives of scores of children and he wasn’t punished until he was in his autumn years. This kind of injustice cannot continue.

RETRIEVED https://kelsolawyers.com/au/paedophile-offenders/brother-darcy-osullivan/
Peter Kelso

Is your church behaving like a cult?

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Martin Saunders  13 May 2016 | 11:24 AM

Reuters

Do you ever worry that your church is exhibiting strange behaviour? Asking for more commitment than seems sensible; encouraging an unusual amount of devotion to the leader? Requiring your life and all be given to them, rather than directly to God? 

Mike Bickle, author of Passion for Jesus and founder of IHOP in Kansas, came up with a list of seven key ‘tells’ that suggest a church is behaving like a cult. Most churches could probably do better in one or two of these areas but for some, this checklist provides a dangerously accurate description of how things work. There are various ‘cult watch’ organisations which provide similar lists, but Bickle’s is especially pertinent because it comes from within the church, and recognises some of the nuances and grey areas involved.

Mike Bickle has identified seven signs of cult-like behaviour.

So here is the list, with some thoughts on how it might apply in practice, and what to watch out for. Because cult membership is dangerous, and can destroy your life; arguably the same could be true of a church which behaves just like one.

Sign #1: Opposing critical thinking

I remember a friend telling me that he’d finally become more comfortable at his charismatic church because he’d realised that he just needed to disengage his brain during the services and ‘go with it.’ To him this made sense because his intellectualism was making him overthink everything, but there’s a fine line between resisting your cynicism and disabling your critical functions entirely. The Bible and God both stand up to intellectual scrutiny; so any church which tells you to switch off your brain is probably trying to lead you into dangerous new territory.

Sign #2: Isolating members and penalising them for leaving

Some of the more mainstream cults are well-known for this sort of behaviour, even turning family members against those who try to leave. While there aren’t many churches which will go that far, there are examples of those which deliberately exclude those who appear to oppose or challenge the leaders from the rest of the community. This accusation was aimed at Mars Hill in Seattle by individuals who questioned the behaviour of the leaders and elders. If a church begins to close ranks against anyone, especially those who have previously been members of the community, they’re behaving just like a cult.

Sign #3: Emphasising special doctrines outside scripture

This is especially prevalent among churches which preach a ‘prosperity gospel’. Cults use extra-biblical ideas and wrap them up in biblical sounding language, in order to compel followers to practice certain behaviours which are usually nothing to do with the actual gospel. Infamously this often involves sexual or financial conduct, and while there hopefully aren’t many churches which encourage the former, there are entire church movements which appear to have created special new doctrines around the latter. From the seed-of-faith evangelists to the megachurches which take several offerings in order to finance a ‘professional quality’ worship performance, this is one of the easiest and most transgressed pitfalls on the list.

Another key area here is around End Times prophecies, which Scripture does talk about, but in no way to the levels emphasised by some churches and individuals. This line of thinking is exactly what leads cults into tragic suicide pacts; an obsession with the coming apocalypse runs counter to Jesus’ warning in Matthew 24:36 that only God knows the day and the hour of Judgment Day.

Sign #4: Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders

I wrote recently about the prevalent problem and of leader idolatry, and in particular the disgraced church leader who on returning from his prison sentence made every member of the church kneel at his feet and pledge devotion to him above the justice system. This might be an extreme case, but there are plenty of other churches which hold their leader in inappropriately high esteem, showering him with gifts (like the British church which bought its pastor an £80,000 Mercedes as a birthday present) and viewing him essentially as being above scrutiny. Unaccountable leaders, with devotees who love them perhaps even more than they love God, are a key feature of any cult… and some churches.

Sign #5: Dishonouring the family unit

God loves family: he’s crazy about children, and he’s not at all keen on family breakdown. So any church which encourages its members to put the church first, even ahead of their commitments at home, is behaving unbiblically. This is exactly how cults convince people to turn against their own non-believing parents, siblings or spouses; many churches also subtly request the same order of priorities, whether subconsciously or deliberately.

Sign #6: Crossing biblical boundaries of behaviour

Thankfully, this is an area where few churches will recognise themselves. But if your church starts encouraging lifestyle choices which don’t tally up with scripture, then start to worry, and fast. Scary examples might involve Westboro Baptist-style affirmation of prejudice or even the use of violence to accomplish supposed ‘kingdom’ goals. More subtly though, this could be seen in a deliberately permissive attitude to sex or other behaviours. If your church is actually preaching against holiness, it’s acting like a cult.

Sign #7: Separation from the rest of the church

Finally, and perhaps of most concern to the modern church, Bickle identifies that cults always promote the idea among their members that they’re the only part of the ‘church’ that has truly understood God’s plan for the world. For cults this often means not only cutting their community off from the rest of the church, but also wider society. Churches rarely speak with quite this level of arrogance, but they do often exhibit a related behaviour; claiming that God has given their particular church a specific mission and calling which means that it’s unhelpful for them to work in unity with others. And forget what they say, if your church stream behaves as if it’s the only true way, guess what: that’s exactly what cults do.

Take another look down that list. Hopefully you only vaguely recognise your own church, and others that you know. Try not to use Bickle’s helpful signposts as a means by which you can judge other churches though; but rather to note where yours needs to take care not to stray into cult-like territory. And if there’s a real red flag among the seven, then pray about how you might be able to help your church get back on to a straight path. After all, it was for freedom that Christ has set us free; cults offer the very opposite. It should be of the utmost concern to us when our churches begin to resemble them in any way.

Martin Saunders is a Contributing Editor for Christian Today and the Deputy CEO of Youthscape. You can follow him on Twitter: @martinsaunders

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RETRIEVED https://www.christiantoday.com/article/is-your-church-behaving-like-a-cult/86003.htm

2 Reasons Bully Pastors Rise Up in the Church


NOTE Some survivors of CSA attacks may be familiar with the ‘rougher than expected’ nature of their predators. Alike the identified ‘pastors’, these teachers may hide their outbreaks to whenever they’re exposed to their ‘hunting’: isolated youth.


September 15, 2020by: Paul David Tripp

https://www.crossway.org/articles/2-reasons-bully-pastors-rise-up-in-the-church/

The Church’s Leadership Crisis

There are two things that are at the heart of the leadership crisis in the church. 

The first is that we’ve backed away from a biblical definition of a leader—humble, gentle, kind, faithful, loving, servant. The kind of character qualities that are in the Timothy passage when it talks about qualifications for elder; the kind of character qualities that are in the fruit of the Spirit—we’ve backed away from these qualities. 

And our definition of a leader now is—strong personality, quick witted, forceful, domineering, able to win the day in a discussion or argument, can cast vision and collect people. I’m going to say this: no wonder we’ve produced a culture of ministry bullies who mistreat people

We’ve diminished and devalued the importance of a strong, watchful, comforting, confronting leadership community around a leader

These are leaders who look at staff not as a servant, but see those people as tools for his success; leaders who look at a congregation not as disciples that need his care—sheep that need a shepherd, loved ones who need nurturing, love, and comfort—but instead as consumers. And leadership success is now defined as collecting as many consumers as you can. 

We’ve backed away from the biblical definition of a leader, and we are paying the price for this new definition. 

Lead

Lead

Paul David Tripp

Best-selling author Paul David Tripp offers 12 gospel-centered leadership principles for both aspiring leaders and weathered pastors as they navigate the challenging waters of pastoral ministry. This resource shows the vital role that the leadership community plays in molding leaders.

There’s a second thing: we’ve diminished and devalued the importance of a strong, watchful, comforting, confronting leadership community around a leader. We have diminished the importance that every leader needs pastoring, every leader needs care, every leader needs watchful eyes, every leader needs, at points, to be rebuked, every leader needs to be protected, and every leader needs strong community in his life. 

The Christian Leadership Model

Now think about this. If we’ve forsaken the biblical definition of a leader for this brash definition, and if we’ve diminished the value of a leadership community, no wonder we’re in the trouble we’re in.

I’m shocked that the trouble isn’t greater!

You cannot walk away from God’s norms and be okay. Listen, we don’t need a new model of leadership. We already have one. It’s right in the pages of the New Testament. 

So as long as we’re changing the leadership definition, and we’re devaluing the importance of community, this crisis will continue.

Paul David Tripp is the author of Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church.


Paul David Tripp

Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor, award-winning author, and international conference speaker. He has written numerous books, including the bestselling daily devotional New Morning Mercies. His nonprofit ministry exists to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. Tripp lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Luella, and they have four grown children.


RETRIEVED https://www.crossway.org/articles/2-reasons-bully-pastors-rise-up-in-the-church/