As with all cults, we did not “rightly divide” the Word of God. We took things literally where we shouldn’t have. Our main sticking point was the Second Commandment which warns about not making any graven images. We figured it meant what it said – or what we thought it said. We believed it meant no pictures of any kind – no art, no symbols, no illustrations, no photographs, no drawings, no images – zippo.
The balanced Christian life:
What should believers major in: zeal or knowledge? If you know anything about me, you will know that I see this as a clear example of a false dilemma. That is, it is not to be a case of either/or but both/and. We should seek to have zeal AND we should seek to have knowledge. One without the other just does not cut it for the Christian.
Many believers have plenty of knowledge, but they lack any real zeal for God. Head knowledge alone without passion, and life, and the Spirit is not what God is looking for. But the other error is just as bad. Many believers have plenty of zeal, but they have little sound knowledge or understanding of biblical truth and doctrine. They in fact often play down knowledge altogether.
Cults of course thrive on the latter – members often have zeal and passion and commitment, but they are woefully ignorant of basic Bible teaching. They may be really off on doctrine, and will often be told they should not think for themselves, but just go along with whatever their leader tells them.
I know this from first-hand experience, having been in a cult myself long ago. We sure had lots of zeal, but we sure had a lot of dumb ideas as well. In my four-part article discussing my Christian conversion I wrote about some of these weird things we did and believed. As I wrote:
One, a bad interpretation of Scripture – specifically a passage like 2 Corinthians 5:7 which says “we walk by faith, not by sight” – led to some radical first steps. This text obviously meant we see by faith and walk in the Spirit, and need not worry about mere physical sight. So my first task was to take a hammer or a rock and smash my glasses to bits. That I promptly did, and I spent the next five months or so stumbling around the mountains of New Mexico, even getting lost once or twice.
You see I have long had terrible eyesight, so this certainly was jumping in the deep end on day one – a real step of faith indeed. But I was ready to do anything in my newfound faith, and so this seemed reasonable to me at the time.
Two, given the hippy/Indian/cult nature of this group, we often got back to nature in more ways than one – including running around with no clothes on, at least on our own land – which got us in trouble with the New Mexico police on more than one occasion, including stints in jail.
Related to this, we reminded folks that Galatians 5:16 tells us that we walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. That was our explanation when asked why we walked around shoeless in the ice and snow for example.