I am currently reading a very interesting book, Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible by James W. Sire. Its actually not a guide to help you become a guru or Swami. Far from it. You see, “Jesus” is co-opted by almost every one who wants some one from the past to confirm their own vision of the ideal future. To Eastern –oriented religious groups, Jesus is an avatar – one of the may incarnations of the gods; to Christian Scientists, he is the great healer; to political revolutionaries he is the great liberator; to Spiritualists, he is a first rate medium; to one new consciousness philosopher, he is a prototype of a sorcerer who can restructure events in the world by mental exercise. It seems there is a “Jesus” for everyone.
One way in which almost any cult can have a claim to the Jesus of the bible is by misquoting scripture. For example:
Jess Stern in a book on Edgar Cayce quotes the following conversation he had with Eula Allen, one of Cayce’s followers. The topic was re-incarnation and Stearn suddenly thought of a problem:
A thought struck me. “Why, if people have lived other lives, don’t they remember anything from them?”
“But they do,” she said. “It’s just some times that they don’t remember that they are remembering. Jesus said, ‘I will bring all things to thine remembrance,’ but he didn’t say how.”
A number of errors are made here. First, this is not what Jesus said. Let us put the clause quoted into its immediate context. Jesus has been talking intimately to his closest followers in the Upper Room, just prior to his crucifixion. His remarks in this setting are profound and moving. Then he says, “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring them to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:25-26 KJV) As we see, Jesus did not say he would “bring all things to thine remembrance.” He said that the Holy Spirit would do that. So the quotation is itself inaccurate.
This illustration shows how easily one can get away with making an inaccurate quotation of the Bible. Especially if your audience is gullible. When confronted with a guru who quotes the Bible, always check to see if that basic claim is true.
Does the Bible say what the unblinking guru says it does?
I’m enjoying this book and I have not even reached the next principle which happens to be “Twisted translation” and after that “Ignoring the immediate context”. Believe you me, I am seated cross legged like a guru and enjoying my first book of this year. It was actually first published in….(wait for this) 1980!
Another faux pas, perhaps of even greater danger since it’s much more subtle, is reading things in the biblical text that simply are not there.