"The Discipleship Game"

(Related: 1, 2)

The following is the beginning of chapter 1, “The Discipleship Game,” from the book “Twisted Scripture” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar. A few chapters of the book are on-line. One of the editors of the book is a former member of UBF who was personally abused by Lee/Barry. The game described in chapter 1 reminds me of PECAS’ writing on “systematic obedience training” through which UBF tries to usurp a recruit’s right to make his own choices. It’s helpful to know that, in essence, UBF’s system and tactics are as old as the existence of cults themselves.

The Discipleship Game

Chapter 1

You agree to wait for confirmation from your discipler before initiating important decisions. This works out to be getting permission.

Let’s start by playing a game. Below are twelve items, six of which you are to pick:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

What you do not know is that I have decided I don’t want you to choose items 4, 7, or 10. On the other hand, I do want you to take items 2 and 5. The rest are of no consequence to me. What are the chances you will pick the ones I want you to choose and not choose the ones I don’t want you to? Not very good, are they? How could I get you to pick the ones I want without telling you? How could I control you to make my choices your choices but make you think that you decided?

Easy. I could play a manipulative discipleship game. First, before you started the game, I would teach you that, although this may be your first time playing, I have played this game a lot. In fact, I have spent so much time in prayer and study that God now inspires me to know the best choices (This often implies that God inspires me to know the best choices for you too). Then we would begin to play. After two choices, I would tell you that it is God who wants us to agree on each choice. This, I would tell you, is the kind of spiritual unity the Bible teaches. With this in mind, you would proceed with the remaining choices.

Suppose in those six choices, you only stumbled on one of the three items I did not want you to take. This is the only time I had to tell you that I did not agree with you. And, when you were on your last choice and you still had not picked item 5, I shared with you that God revealed to me the superiority of item 5. So you took it last. Five out of six times you got your choice, but you also benefited from my “divinely inspired wisdom” to make a good last selection.

You feel as though you are making up your own mind pretty well. You feel neither coerced nor controlled. In fact, you appreciated the help you got. In the end, however, I got what I wanted without your knowing it; and, of course, I was the one who told you had twelve choices and who directed you to select only six. I set up the rules of the game.

Abusive discipleship is played approximately the same way. Control over people is disguised as agreement with a discipler who, you are told, has your best interests at heart. Unlike the game, the choices are not trivial, but are more likely to be important (e.g., whom to marry, what vocation to pursue, and where to live). Unlike the game, however, abusive discipleship results in unnecessary fear, shame, and guilt—and, most importantly, the rules of abusive discipleship are not Biblical rules.

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