The Use of Loaded Language in Hyper-Charismaticism
March 14, 2011 38 Comments
[This is an excellent article with thought provoking observations. It was initially posted on a blog which is now inaccessible for unknown (by me) reasons. I have a suspicion that the author wishes to remain anonymous; however, I could not in good conscience reproduce this and put my name to it – even if I reworded it – as it is something I just would not have thought about or researched on my own. With this in mind, I will attribute this to “anonymous.” I’ve made some minor changes from the original, including the title, omitting one sentence which does not detract from the article (evidenced by an ellipse (…)) and updating the link contained therein. I’ve also added the term “hyper-charismaticism” or “hyper-charismatic” in parentheses.]
I want to begin this post by stating clearly that this is not going to be a theological discussion per se. It is primarily going to be the discussion of a sociological phenomenon that has been observed through the study of prisoners of war and those involved in cult movements. This post was prompted by the nearly universal lack of reasoning and independent thinking skills of those who continue to post on the blog in favor of the modern prophets (hyper-charismatics). This is one of the many parallels between the modern prophetic movement (hyper-charismaticism) and the world of the cults.
I am convinced that one of the primary reasons for this is the continual use of “loaded language” within the movement.
For those who may be unfamiliar with this term, please allow me to give a very brief and extremely oversimplified history. Robert Lifton did extensive study on the “reprogramming” techniques used by the Chinese on prisoners of war and other political prisoners. He identified several key elements that were nearly universal that were able to bring about “thought reform”. Later, Margaret Thaler Singer, Steven Hassan, and Ronald Enroth built on and modified Lifton’s model as they noticed many of the same techniques being used in cults and spiritually abusive groups to bring about a “group think” among their adherents.
One of these techniques is the use of “loaded language”. Loaded language involves a couple of practices. First, it involves the use of words and phrases that become a unique language to the members of the group itself. (See the International House of Prayer (IHOP) glossary of terms for an example. This is only a partial list.) These catch phrases or slogans are laced throughout the teaching ministry of the group. This language is difficult for those outside the movement to comprehend. In fact, I would submit that many of the members themselves would have an extremely difficult time giving any precise definition to these catch phrases as well. But it goes further.
Loaded language also has a thought-terminating effect on the individuals who use them…They are a type of mental boundary. They provide easy, simplistic answers to issues and questions. The main purpose they serve within the group is to stifle thoughtful inquiry. These clichés become so ingrained in the adherents’ mental processes that they are accepted without question or reservation and are advanced in knee-jerk fashion when any challenge to the group’s belief arises.
I have become convinced, primarily through the different members of the apostolic/prophetic (hyper-charismatic) movement who have posted on the internet that this movement abounds with this thought-terminating, loaded language. Let me give some examples.
Immediately when someone outside the movement asks where a particular practice is found in the Scripture the loaded language kicks in.
“This is part of the new wineskins that God is bringing forth in this generation.”
“God is doing a new thing.” (Or some variation of the same statement.)
Press further and begin to point out that a particular belief or practice is unknown in church or Biblical history or is contrary to the character of God and you get more loaded language.
“God can’t be put in a box.”
“God is tearing down the religious spirit.”
“You are stuck in your tradition.”
Dare to challenge a particular leader or call into question their doctrine and one runs into more loaded language.
“We are not to judge.”
“Why are you coming against him?”
“Love covers but judgment uncovers.”
“If it is not of God it will fail but if it is of God you can’t stop it.”
“Touch not my anointed.”
“Truth is a person, not a doctrine.”
“Jesus is more important than doctrine.”
Ask them to evaluate their seemingly out of control behavior and you get….
“God offends the mind to reveal the heart.”
“God doesn’t want us living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Push too hard and the ad hominem attacks begin.
“You have a jezebel spirit.”
“You have a religious spirit.”
“Satan is the accuser of the brethren.”
I could go on longer but you get the idea. There is a definite “group think” and “group speak” within the prophetic (hyper-charismatic) movement. The real issue to note however is that these phrases have VERY LITTLE REAL MEANING AND VIRTUALLY NO SUBSTANCE BEHIND THEM. Their sole function is to keep the person in the movement from taking a serious, thoughtful, reflective look at what they are involved in. It’s like mental insulation or blinders.
The real damage from loaded language, other than the fact that it keeps the user in the group, is that it stunts the adherents’ reasoning abilities. The person using the loaded language actually believes he/she has given an answer to the question raised! However, they have really never dealt substantively with the issues.
As an interesting side note, while the group member staunchly proclaims his freedom, his thinking has actually become very rigid, i.e. “Everything our group does is automatically ok. Anyone who disagrees is a devil.”
These clichés must be challenged. It is important to try to force the members past the slogans to actually thinking for themselves again. When this is done, the member may experience a “crisis of faith” in which he actually becomes open to looking at the Scriptures without the grid of the group.