Characteristics of a Religious "Addictive" System
Thanks to Dr. Thomas Edgington for 90% of this.
- God is seen as impersonal and vindictive: members tend to have
a "grace- deficit" theology.
- (Their religion and experience are based totally on fear, not
- Emphasis on theological "correctness" to the neglect of relationships and
of loving others.
- Demonstrates a "spiritual arrogance" [considers those from "outside"
as less spiritual].
- You will hear comments like "I pride myself on my humility."
- Majors on minor theological issues and ignores or minimizes major
- Scripture is said to be of primary importance, but in reality it is the leader's
interpretation of Scripture that has primary importance.
- Traditions often overrule Biblical truth.
- Scripture is often misquoted, used out of context, or is degraded
to the level of trite, pat answers in order to prove a point or
to exact obedience to a system.
- Vocational emphasis is placed on full-time Christian service such
as pastor or missionary; so-called "secular" jobs are often looked
down upon as inferior.
- Intellectual development is limited to what fits the system; we
think the way we do because we are right; the thoughts and opinions
of others are not considered.
- Dogmaitism is common: the point under discussion is often explained
by the quotation of a Bible verse, again, usually out of context.
- Members attempt to impose their personal opinions upon "outsiders"
or upon those still within the system but under suspicion.
- Members who fail to conform to all major and minor doctrines or
opinions are "blacklisted", labelled as unsubmissive rebels, or
treated with suspicion.
- Harsh punishment can result and is often committed out of proportion
to the seriousness of the "crime" committed. Expulsion from group
occurs within this context.
- There is a lack of objective accountability: leadership is accountable
to itself ONLY. [Often explains why the "religious" fear and despise
psychology... fear of exposure by outsider]
- Leadership is viewed as infallible and beyond reproach.
- Undue/over-emphasis upon submission to authority.
- Conflicts are usually not allowed, since they threaten the peaceful
"power" that ultimately controls the system.
- Strong emphasis is placed on the development of volition -- "yield
your will to God (and to me!)" to the neglect of the emotional
life -- "we don't feel". [choices MUST = emotion...]
- Expression of certain emotions, particularly anger, is seen as
- Low self image, hyperactive conscience, undue guilt, and an inability
to forgive, either others or oneself is very common.
- Relationships are maintained superficially on an intellectual
or a cognitive level. [Women are allowed to emote, but because
of this, they are seen as sub-par, for their emotions are seen
to block their logic...emotional men are also seen as sub-par,
representing a threat.]
- Communication often centers around theological issues; personal
issues are rarely discussed. When they are, two phenomena find
- Shredding people,
- setting up and knocking down straw men.
- Interpersonal intimacy is often lacking.
- Personal/emotional boundaries are often violated in the name of
that which is "theologically sound".
- [In this context, love is defined as "putting you in your place".]
- Poor ability to relate to hurting people; offers pat answers instead
of demonstrating loving care