Article Summary:

A 1977 booklet by Ron Kangas that examines the false accusation of mind bending in The Mindbenders by Jack Sparks in contrast with the biblical revelation regarding :

Mind Bending or Mind Renewing?

Thomas Nelson, Inc., has recently published a book called The Mindbenders. This book, which purports to offer “vital information on, and refutation of, seven of the most dangerous new cults of our day,”1 contains a chapter entitled, “The Local Church of Witness Lee.” According to this book, local churches, composed of blood-redeemed and Spirit-regenerated believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, are “a mind-capturing heretical cult.”2 In The Mindbenders, the local churches are classified with such devilish and satanic movements as Hare Krishna and the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon. Sprinkled throughout parts of The Mindbenders and concentrated in the chapter on the local church are a host of false accusations. We strongly protest against the charge that the local churches want control over men’s minds and that the goal of this supposed mind control is behavior modification or brainwashing.3 Because the presentation of the ministry of Witness Lee and of the testimony and practice of the local churches in The Mindbenders is so inaccurate, it is incumbent upon us to give public testimony so that the fair-minded, intellectually honest Christian reader may come to an unbiased decision. In this reply we are concerned, of course, only with the material on the local churches. Nothing that is said here should be construed as in any way a defense of the heretical, satanic cults with which The Mindbenders has so wrongly associated us. Furthermore, in this paper we shall be concerned solely with the charges relating to mind control, brainwashing, or mindlessness. Firstly, we shall state the charges made against us, relying primarily upon quotations of the writer’s own words. Then we shall give testimony to the teaching of the Scriptures regarding the mind of man, especially the mind of a Christian in its unrenewed and its renewed condition. Finally, in the light of the testimony of the Scriptures and the actual teaching and practice in the local churches, we shall show how unfair, unjust, and false are the charges made against us in The Mindbenders.

  1. Jack Sparks, The Mindbenders (Nashville and New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, 1977), p. v.
  2. Ibid., p. 15.
  3. Ibid., p. 16.

Allow me to give a word of personal testimony. In no way do I claim to be an unusually intelligent or intellectually gifted person. However, in all fairness I can say that I have a strong academic background. I graduated with high honors from Wayne State University and was awarded a prize for outstanding work in systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. Throughout my years of formal education I exercised my mind to study diligently. Probably it was unavoidable that the knowledge I accumulated made me proud. In 1962, out of a deep hunger for the Lord, I began to seek experiences of the Holy Spirit. Eventually I experienced the Spirit in a hitherto unknown way, but at the cost of humiliation and the breaking of pride. In the two years immediately prior to being led of God into the church life, the Lord humbled me again and again so that my being might be opened without reservation to the truth of His pure Word. I have been in the church life now for nearly eleven years. I can testify with a pure conscience before God, before man, and before Satan that I have never been subject to any form of mind control. Yes, I have changed my mind concerning many things, but not because a man, or a group of men, induced or coerced me to do so. Rather, it was through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the enlightenment of the living Word, and my repentance before the Lord. Hundreds and even thousands can give a similar testimony. We in the churches are not a mindless mass of believers following a dictator. We have not renounced the God-given faculties of thinking, reasoning, and considering. However, out of our experience with Christ we have come to receive and accept the judgments of His Word upon the unrenewed mind of fallen man. We have come to agree with Him when He said, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise” (1 Cor. 1:19). We agree with His Word regarding the vanity of our reasonings and the disobedience of our thoughts. It was no man who persuaded us; it was the Spirit who enlightened us. We do not now live in a mental wilderness, devoid of proper mental activity. Our minds are active and are daily being renewed, not through outward control, but through the inward working of Christ our life (Col. 3:4).

I do not know why the writer of The Mindbenders made the false charges he did. Perhaps it is because his mind is still in an unrenewed state and cannot adequately discern or receive spiritual things, especially those things which contradict preconceived or traditional concepts. Perhaps it is because he trusts the knowledge of psychology more than the leading of the Holy Spirit and the pure Word of God. Whether or not this is so, the Lord will decide, if not in this life, then when the secrets of all, including the thoughts and intents of the heart, are exposed and judged at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10). At that time, every idle word will be accounted for, and by our words we shall either be justified or condemned (Matt. 12:36-37).

We give our testimony and a word of reply on behalf of the local churches in the presence of the Lord. We thank Him for creating us a spirit, a soul, and a body. We thank Him for regenerating our spirit and filling it with Himself. We also thank Him for exposing the deplorable state of our fallen mind and for showing us the way, according to His economy, for our mind to be renewed and even to become the mind of Christ. We have experienced many humbling lessons and no doubt we shall experience more. We are willing for this, for we long to be fully recovered and possessed by the One we love, by the One who shed His blood on the cross that we might be redeemed and filled with His life so that, for His glory, we might be constituted into His living Body on earth today. No, we are neither mindbenders nor victims of mindbending. We are people, like all others, who were contaminated by the fall. And we are believers, like many others, who have been cleansed with the blood and regenerated by the Spirit. By the Lord’s mercy and grace we are learning to cooperate with Him in life to be renewed in the spirit of our mind so that we may put on the new man for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. We love the Lord our God with our heart, our soul, and our mind. We worship Him, we enjoy Him, and we serve Him with the spirit and with the mind also.

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