Biblical hermeneuticsare elucidations of the Holy Bible of which Christians use. Knowing there aremultiple branches of Christianity makes it simpler to understand that any individualwhom belongs to a different denomination has a different interpretation of theBible and what they portray the text as.
When an individual hears the term cult,many stereotypes arise within context of the term. Cults reached their peak ofpopularity in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, carrying a huge negative connotationdue to the events and activities of some clans such as the “Ku Klux Klan” and “TheMovement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God”. The definition ofthe specific term is much more complicated than at first glance, due to thefact that there are numerous opinions on the matter. “The origin of the word’cult’ comes from the Latin word ‘cultus’, which is a form of the verb ‘colere’meaning ‘to worship or give reverence to a ‘deity’,” (Gomes, 1995). As defined by a separate author, JamesRichardson explains that cults are “usually defined as a small informal grouplacking a definite authority structure, somewhat spontaneous in its development(although often possessing a somewhat charismatic leader or group of leaders),transitory, somewhat mystical and individualistically oriented, and derivingits inspiration and ideology from outside the predominant religious culture,”(Richardson, 1978:31) thus beginning the controversial journey in determining whata cult is and how dissimilar the usage of explanations upon Christianity can be.It is important to understand how and why are cults are formed, who asindividuals join them, and why some end up becoming violent.
When looking atthe broad spectrum between the two categories, both are based off oftraditional religions but adapt to different civilizations and rituals withintheir communities. Cults use their own personal biblical hermeneuticsin order to create a radical interpretation of Christianity. Tobegin, one must understand how and why cults have been maintained over theyears. One reason for this is who they attempt to target. Doctor Adrian Furhamdiscusses in his article at there are specific “studies on those who havesigned up for all sorts of cults and extremist groups … have similar andsophisticated recruitment promises, induction techniques and social influenceagendas. They use methods of ‘indoctrination’ and ‘mind-control’ no differentfrom all groups, though they maybe a lot more intensely applied” (Furham,2014), resulting in the resemblance of why some scholars believe that cults andreligions are the same.
Individuals who join cults may partake for multiplereasons. Julia Layton states that although those who join cults are from allages, all walks of life, and all different personalities, there is oneparticular similarity being that “a majority of people who end up joining acult were recruited during a particularly stressful period. This could be thestress associated with adolescence, leaving home for the first time, … Peopleundergoing significant stress can be more susceptible when a person or groupclaims to have the answer to all of their problems.” Other prevalent factorsthat play an effect include those who are desperate to belong to a specificgroup, individuals who are unable to say no and are susceptible to what peoplesay, as well as those who believe they haven’t fulfilled their full potential. (Layton,2006).
Hermeneutics are even more influenced when a person is going throughsuch hardships within their lives, making those people even easier for cults totry and retrieve. Formed initially after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klanboasted nearly four million members at one time. Famous for their white robesand hoods, the Ku Klux Klan is a religious group of zealot Christians whosetactics of terror are directed at anyone who attempts to rise against them. Althoughover the years the cult is believed to have altered into less of a devout groupand into more of an intensified malicious group. Remarkably, many of the membersmaking up the cult were previously ordained ministers whom believe it is thereduty to fight for the greater good, as well as taking a literal interpretationof the Holy Bible. Researcher Michael Fisher looked into the church of ReverendBailey Smith in the 1980’s who described to his parish “the fact that God cannotpossibly hear the prayer of someone who does not believe Jesus Christ is thetrue Messiah,” (Fisher Maclean’s magazine released an article claiming that in2016, dozens of residences in Chilliwack, British Columbia received pamphletsfrom the clan stating multiple examples of white supremacy. Even causing JustinTrudeau, Prime Minster of Canada, to make a statement involving the fact thatCanada is not unrestricted of terror and cruelty (Sismondo, 2017). Although theorigins of the Ku Klux Klan are based off of what are believed to betraditional beliefs of Christianity, individuals within the community have comeup with their own biblical hermeneutics.
This has caused an unrealistic anddebatably incorrect view on Christianity, leading to the misfortunateincidences of the clan. The individuals whom succumb to these dangerous groupsof radicalism end up struggling through tremendous amounts of trauma if or whenthey get out of the cult, causing a particular difficulty for the loved ones ofthose effected by the horrific acts of the Ku Klux Klan. Comparatively,the New Religious Movement referred to as “The Movement for the Restoration ofthe Ten Commandments of God,” (MRTCG) based in Uganda, Africa, based theirhermeneutics off of the New Testaments in the Bible, leading to a mass suicideon March 17th, 2000. The MRTCG was officially legitimatein 1994, and a private school was certified by the leaders in 1998 as a branchof Catholicism. Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne discusses that selfproclaimed members of the MRTCG preached that they had visions of Jesus and theVirgin Mary in Uganda after “Specioza Mukantabana, a Rwandan girl … moved in1986 to the Ugandan diocese of Mbarara and later to the diocese of Masaka,starting MRTCG in Mbuye. Among the new Ugandan leaders were Paul Kashakuand his daughter Credonia Mwerinde, a barmaid with a reputation for sexualpromiscuity. Mwerinde later claimed to be a former prostitute … replicating therole of Mary Magdalene.
Kashaku had a past as a visionary and claimed to haveseen, as early as 1960, an apparition of his deceased daughter Evangelista.” Closeto five thousand members of the MRTCG were told by their leaders of the MRTCG,to not participate in any form of sexual conduct due to the commandment basedon not bearing false witness against their neighbours. The members of the cult understoodthat on March 17, 2000, the Final Judgment of Virgin Mary would begin, and shewould appear and take members of the MRTCG to Heaven. The organizers told theirfollowers they personally saw Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in variations of whichwere believed to be of Catholic history from the literal meaning of the wordsin the Bible.
On March 17, 2000, “the subsequent discovery, in variouslocations, of mass graves containing the remains of people believed to bemurdered (most of them stabbed) raised the death toll to 780 and possibly more,the largest such incident in recent history at that time,” including husbands,wives, grandparents and even young children (Introvigne, 2005). The leaders ofthis unique Catholic movement manipulated their followers into a specificsanction of beliefs and values in order to commit a violent act againstinnocent people who had been led in the wrong direction. This causesdifferentiation between the Ku Klux Klan and the MRTCG, but also causes them tobe interpreted much similarly, despite that they stand for differentreasonings, both became the group of zealots they are because of their ownpersonal explanations of what was said in the Bible. Nomatter what culture any individual lives in, religious or not, they aresubjected to various forms of hermeneutics. The religion of Christianity inparticular has developed into multiple different meanings to everyone withinthe community of Christianity due to hermeneutics. Comprehensively, theseviewpoints are given based on the understanding of how one decides to interprettheir beliefs and values. Although biblically speaking, it is strictly a textgiven to those who want to try to make sense out of the purpose of life as wellas a less complex way of explaining very complex situations in life.
Sometimes,this can be construed in negative ways that end up resulting in destruction andhatred such as the Ku Klux Klan. On other occasions, the members themselvesmany not even necessarily know what they are involved with, even if they dothey possibly do not know the extent of how dangerous the cult they are in is,such as the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. Comparatively,the two organized groups have caused tremendous trauma to those whom have beeninfluenced and effected by the consequences of these cults.