A General Assessment of the Group
In the course of reading these pages, you may have noticed the lack of certain features which are otherwise often associated with the concept of a cult:
- a primary structure for the accumulation of the leader’s wealth by exploiting the members
- a founder or current leader, whose importance overshadows everything, who is ritually honored, and who presents himself as the mediator between his disciples and God
- a global empire (in the economic sense, too) belonging to the cult, including daughter organizations and deceptive ‘front’ organizations
- The expectation of an imminent end of the world.
These things are not found in the Holic Group (or not yet, anyway). Among the Holic Members, and also among the leaders themselves, a genuinely religious concern is detected. This, however, is discredited by the fanaticism with which they represent it.
Other typical cult characteristics, however, can easily be detected:
- the total rupture of the new member from his previous social world
- psychological manipulation of the new member, including use of phobias and guilt, which cause a psychological change and dependency within a short time
- emotional and material dependency of the member on the group
- the overarching importance of the group, the restriction of individuality and of the private sphere
- an exaggerated consciousness of being elite, the seclusion of the group from the outside world (“the boundaries of the organization are the boundaries of truth”) a dualistic worldview (clear division into good and evil), with a pronounced concept of an enemy
- an explicitly negative concept of the world
- the promise of a secure path to salvation, if one submits oneself to the rules of the group. The only path to personal salvation consists of completely adopting the lifestyle of the group. Any and every other lifestyle is rejected as absolutely false
- very rigorous moral demands and a strong emphasis on obedience
- the prediction of terrible consequences in the case of a “falling away”
- relationships to the outside world are formed by a collective ego. They facilitate the recruitment of new members. A selfless engagement for others (volunteer activities) is not present.
Based on these unmistakable symptoms, the Holic Group is certainly to be ranked among the so-called cults and psycho-cults.
On some points of their critique of the church and of the world, many will agree; as, e.g., in relation to the lax faith of many Christians, which hardly shapes their lives; the silence of congregations concerning serious sins; the empty ritualistic participation in worship by some Christians; the misdeeds which occurred in the course of church history; the often-lacking effort to share something of one’s own faith with nonbelievers; or the partial decline of values in sectors of society. In this respect, the Holic Group’s commitment and their seriousness in finding the right way seem thoroughly exemplary. In addition, there are very positive trends, like, e.g., the effort to form a close community, intensive engagement with the Bible, a willingness to tell others about faith, and an externally unpretentious lifestyle.
In spite of these positives, one can clearly detect that the system developed here moves into the opposite extreme. This is due to their fanatical exaggeration of these essentially good concerns, and the other points already discussed in the text above (lack of volunteer efforts, arrogance, intolerance, avoidance of close contact with nonmembers, exaggerated fear of sin, idiosyncratic Biblical interpretations, the destruction of families, aversion to sexuality, the destruction of one’s private sphere including private prayer, the obligation of all Christians to adopt their lifestyle, etc.). Their system promotes a type of legalism and has left the basis of Jesus’ message far behind.
Under closer examination, one finally recognizes that the things for which Jesus criticized the Pharisees of His time apply exactly to the Holic cult:
- strictly holding to rules and laws in order to assure salvation for oneself
- the ensuing arrogant behavior toward non-Pharisees and sinners, denying that they live according to God’s will
- the consciousness of being a chosen elite
- the consistent avoidance of interaction with non-Pharisees and especially the rejection of any gathering with sinners.
Perhaps the reader expected to find an examination of the doctrinal content of the group under this heading. But that would soon turn into a feud about proper interpretation of this or that Bible passage, the quoting of other passages, etc., which would quickly get out of hand, and go beyond the limits of this publication. Finally, the competing interpretations of the same Bible passages would simply stand next to each other. I think that the attentive and critical reader can form his own concept from the entire description given here and can recognize for himself the points at which the message and exemplary lifestyle of Jesus are perverted in the Holic Group.
Finally, for anyone who thinks to proclaim a unique message in the name of Jesus, His criteria for judgment apply: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15f)
The fruit are now clearly visible, and can be confirmed again and again by the affected parents, siblings, previous friends, and former members: By their entry into someone’s life, they bring pain into the families they destroy; the new member is robbed of his previous social environment and becomes dependent on the group – psychologically, religiously, and also in purely practical terms of daily living. There is no commitment by the group to changing the world or to advocating for the poor and oppressed. Life is reduced to purely religious aspects, and an allegedly Biblical lifestyle is imposed on all people – but which is in reality a lifestyle determined by the group. Therefore it is certainly not God’s Spirit which is at work there, but rather a spirit which sows discord and division.