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 on relief.)
  • 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 ones.
  • 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 "unspiritual".
  • 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 expression:
    • 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

BACK to Tom Edgington's WebSite!