The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines indoctrination in this way:
To imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.
Vocabulary.com defines indoctrination as:
Teaching someone to accept a set of beliefs without questioning them.
I think most would agree that these are reasonable and accepted definitions of indoctrination.
What prompted the writing of this article was a discussion I had with a Seventh Day Adventist the other day. A very pleasant fellow who was newly connverted to the religion. He possess a definite zeal for his newly found belief and I admire such zeal. I know from experience that new converts into any religious system possesses such zeal and as the years wax on, that zeal wanes. By that time, the person has already been indoctrinated.
The formative years – the first days one has made the decision to join a particular religious following to that day or year one is unaware that they have been indoctrinated – is what I find an interesting study; and something I wanted to address in this article. Ones indoctrination and being made aware of it is extremely important because at the end of the day the question we all must honestly ask ourselves is, “Am I really loyal to and accepting the teachings of Christ or am I loyal to and accepting the teachings of a particular religious organization and/or their founders or leadership?”
The gentleman I was in discussion with – an unbaptized Seventh Day Adventist – desires very badly to get baptized as a Seventh Day Adventist. I asked him why.
But, This Is What God Wants Me To Do?
The above title was his reason. Then I asked, “Who told you that God wants you to get baptized as a Seventh Day Adventist?” His response was that “The Bible” says that he must get baptized. My response to that was, “The Bible says you are supposed to get baptized as a Seventh Day Adventist? Please show me where this is written in the Bible?”
At this point, I could see the strain and stress on his face because he was stuck and really thinking about how to answer that question. Then he opened his mouth and spoke something truthful; he said:
My Church told be that I have to get baptized if I want to join the Church and become a Seventh Day Adventist.
Then I tactfully and delicately explained to him that it was not God or Christ or The Bible that “told you” that you have to get baptized as a Seventh Day Adventist, it was the church itself who “told you” that you must.
Now here is the interesting thing: Even after explaining this, he still felt a strong desire that he must get baptized so that he could join the church and become a Seventh Day Adventist. I asked him the following question and it formed the basis of the rest of our discussion:
Does it not matter to you what God and Christ say you must do?
Yes, It Matters Very Much To Me
The above was his response. “OK,” I said, “If what God and Christ say really matters to you, then would you accept what they say over and above what any human or human agency says?” He said, “Yes, I would accept what God and Christ say over what anyone says but my church teaches what God and Christ says.”
But my church teaches what God and Christ says.
I explained to him that there are more than 41,000 so-called contending Christian denominations who all say that, yet they all teach Christ differently from the others, so why would he believe that his church teaches what God and Christ says and the others do not? He admitted that he did not know and did not really think about it.
I asked him:
If I can show you that what is called Christian religious organizations are NOT loyal to God and Christ and DO NOT REALLY listen to them but instead listen to humans and human agencies, would he at least consider the possibility that someone or something is prodding him to become a member of a religious organization and follow behind what they say and teach rather than what God and Christ say we must do?
Because my colleague knows me as a reasonable person who is not trying to recruit or convert persons into any particular religious organizations teachings; not a person who discourages belief in God and Christ but one who DOES believe in them; and a person who believes all desiring to please God must come before the person of Christ and attach and join themselves to him – apart from joining man-made religious organizations – allowed me to show him.
Note: This person always approaches me with questions he has concerning things he has heard in the Seventh Day Adventist church. I can only assume the reason is that what he is thinking on the inside and afraid to openly question his church leaders about, he can ask me and I ALWAYS point him to what God and Christ – not the Bible – says about the matter. I also believe the reason that he approaches me privately is that I puzzle him. He even asked me once, “How can you have such deep belief, faith, and knowledge about God and Christ but do not belong to a church? I simply told him, that “I belong to Christ as his disciple. It is men who are telling you and millions of others that you must join them and make yourself a member of a church? Show me where Jesus told anyone to join a church? Rather we are to be members of Christ NOT members of religious organizations. (1Cor 6:15, John 8:31-32 and Matthew 28:19-20)
Look At Your Baptismal Vow
To help my colleague see that it is humans and human agency that is leading and luring him to join THEM and setting up requirements for him, I used the example of the baptismal vow that I took when I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wanted him to see that all religious organizations claiming to be of God and Christ are more interested in getting persons to join THEM under some fancy name or title (in his case, Seventh Day Adventist) and adopting their particular set of beliefs, rather than one attaching themselves to and becoming members of Christ, a person, and accepting and adopting his teachings. (1 Cor 6:15)
I explained to my colleague that before I could become a Jehovah’s Witness and join that organization, I had to recite and accept the following baptismal vow. It is taken word for word from the June 1, 1985, Watchtower magazine, page 30:
On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
The second is:
Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?
Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism.
Notice the first part of the vow. It is a lure. The same type of lure Christ said would occur after his ascension back into heaven; that many would truthfully acknowledge that he is the Christ. It is the second part of the vow that speaks of membership to AND adopting the name and title ofan organization. The membership is what is called God’s spirit-directed organization and the title one is given is Jehovah’s Witnesses. Notice that the baptismal vow does not mention the Holy Spirit. Cleverly inserted instead is God’s spirit-directed organization.
At Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commanded:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
The vow all candidates must take to become Jehovah’s Witnesses is really an indoctrination into an organization that claims for itself to be God’s spirit-directed organization. No mention of the Holy Spirit in the vow. The vow is stating that unless one joins or attaches themselves (are in association with) to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, they cannot be for God or a worshiper of God. Thus, what we have here is a human agency saying that it is “The Way” to the Father. Yet, Christ says that he alone is “The Way.” (John 14:6)
The vow says that one must be in association with the organization.
In association with means also blindly adopting and accepting EVERYTHING the organization says WITHOUT questioning it. Thus, before persons reach the decision stage to become baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses, they will have already been FULLY indoctrinated by the intensive study of the many Watch Tower publications (masqueraded as Bible Study). I know, as this was my experience and the thousands of Witnesses I have met in my more than 25 years as a baptized Jehovah’s Witness. Yet, today, most Jehovah’s Witnesses never consider the details of their vow (contract) and if they did, would not question it because they will have already been primed and indoctrinated not to. Any raising to them the information I have presented here would be automatically dismissed as an apostate by the Watch Tower organization and apostates are NOT to be listened to or associated with. They are to be considered as trouble makers. The labeling of others as an apostate is a clever mechanism The Watch Tower Organization uses to prevent its membership from hearing or learning something it does not want them to know. It is a way to control information. In fact, any Jehovah’s Witness caught associating with who THEY label as an apostate; caught reading what THEY call apostate literature; caught visiting what they call apostate websites; or questioning Watch Tower teaching, will face a certain disfellowshipment (kicked out of the organization) if they do not cease and desist and do not allow themselves to be readjusted (re-indoctrinated). This readjustment involves counseling from the organization’s Elders and/or a study of one or more of the Watch Tower publications. One is made to feel that if they question “The Organization” they are doubting God and Christ and questioning them too. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses are afraid to even “think” within themselves anything different from what the Watch Tower teaches them because “God knows what we are thinking.” That is what I call power and control of humans by human agencies.
For sure, there are former Jehovah’s Witnesses who got kicked out (disfellowshiped) because they violated some Watch Tower policy and who become bitter, angry and disgruntled and make it their life’s mission to get even with the Watch Tower Organization. (A waste of time as far as I am concerned). Many of them – when you speak to them – appear lost and mentally dysfunctional. The reason for this – I believe – is because they were indoctrinated to believe that “The Organization” was EVERYTHING and all else was “IN THE WORLD” and one did not want to be outside of the organization. Yet, once one finds themselves out of the organization, they do not know how to function or even think for themselves. It was all done for them when they were on the inside. Many former Jehovah’s Witnesses have great difficulty functioning outside the Watch Tower organization. Many are empty inside and act and react at the base emotional level of anger. If what the WatchTower had taught them were the truth and Christ’s teachings, then they would not react in the way that they do. It shows that Christ’s teachings were not there from the beginning; and, if they were, never reached below the surface.
Baptismal Vow of Seventh Day Adventist
My colleague thought it was a terrible thing that a religious organization – such as The Watch Tower – would make persons recite a vow and that vow leaves out the Holy Spirit. He also felt it a terrible thing that a religious organization would punish persons by disfellowshipment simply because they had questions. He assured me that that was not the way of Seventh Day Adventism.
I asked my colleague if he has ever seen the baptismal vow he would take. To my surprise, he had not. In fact, he was not aware that there was a vow. He said that when the church saw that he has corrected some issues within his personal life and gets his life staright, the church would allow him to get baptized as a Seventh Day Adventist. (He still wasn’t getting it). He wanted to get baptized as a Seventh Day Adventist and he said that it was a matter of being immersed in water and that he was not aware of a vow.
I recall that when I was considering baptism as one of Jehgovah’s Witness, I was not told about a vow either. Just that I had to first study Watch Tower publications and learn what was in them and then get baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness.
I let my colleague know that all Seventh Day Adventist must recite and accept a written baptismal vow. I explained to him that I know this because many in my family are Seventh Day Adventist. The Seventh Day Adventist baptismal vow reads as follows:
In order to be baptized as a Seventh Day Adventist, a person must agree to this set of thirteen baptismal VOWS:
I believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit.
I accept the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary as the atoning sacrifice for my sins, and believe that through faith in His shed blood I am saved from sin and its penalty.
I renounce the world and its sinful ways, and have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and believe that God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven my sins and given me a new heart.
I accept by faith the righteousness of Christ, recognizing Him as my Intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary, and claim His promise to strengthen me by His indwelling Sprit, so that I may receive power to do His will.
I believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, and that it constitutes the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian.
I accept the Ten Commandments as still binding upon Christians; and it is my purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ, to keep this law, including the fourth commandment, which requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord.
I look forward to the soon coming of Jesus as the blessed hope in my heart, and I am determined to be ready to meet the Lord, and to do all in my power to witness to His loving salvation, and by life and word to help others to be ready for His glorious appearing.
I accept the Biblical teaching of spiritual gifts, and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church.
I believe in church organization, and it is my purpose to support the church by my tithes and offerings, and by my personal effort and influence.
I believe that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and I will honor God by caring for it, avoiding the use of that which is harmful, abstaining from all unclean foods, from the use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages, the use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption, and from the misuse of or trafficking in, narcotics or other drugs.
I know and understand the fundamental Bible principles as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is my purpose, by the grace of God, to order my life in harmony with these principles.
I accept the New Testament teaching of baptism by immersion, and desire to be so baptized as a public expression of faith in Christ and His forgiveness of my sins.
I accept that the Seventh-day Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy, and that people of every nation, race, and language are invited and accepted into its fellowship. I desire to be a member in this local congregation of the world church.
I showed my colleague the Seventh Day Adventist vow and explained to him that there is something very wrong with it to. (I said this respectfully)
Vow #2 – Did Jesus say that those accepting him (his teachings) would save them (present tense)? Or did Jesus teach that salvation comes after a period of endurance and at the end? (Matthew 10:22)
Vow #5 – Who is the Word of God? The Bible or Christ? Should not Christ be the ONLY rule of faith? Why is Christ not stood up as the only rule of faith in this vow?
Vow #6 – Why are the 10 Commandments said to be still binding upon Christians? When were they ever binding? Who where the 10 Commandments given to? Christ did not exist when they were given, so how could there be followers upon which they would be binding? Why just 10 of the Commandments? The 10 Commandments were the first ten of a larger Law Covenant (agreement) between God and ancient Israel. How does one explain what Jesus said at Matthew 5:17.
Vow #8 – Does “The Bible” teach or does Christ teach? Who is our ONLY Teacher, a book or Christ? Why is the Bible held up as being what Christ ONLY is? (John 13:13 and Matthew 23:8-12)
Vow #9 – Believe in God and Christ, not in ANY organization.
Vow #11 – Again, the Bible is held up instead of Christ as Teacher and as something one is to believe in.
Vow #12 – Did Jesus say his followers were to be baptized in water? Do we see examples of Christ baptizing his followers with water? Do we see disciples of Christ baptizing others who would be disciples in water? What kind of baptism would Christ baptize his followers? (Matthew 3:11-12)
I could see my colleague visible distraught at what I was showing him. He appeared a little upset at me but know that it was misguided. He was bothered because his belief system – in which he felt safe and comfortable in – was upset and being questioned. He could recede into a state of denial or even do all he could to forget that what I discussed with him, but he would not be able to. The truth cannot be wished away. It cuts deep like a long sharp two-edged sword.
The bottom line is that religious organization of all sorts has inserted itself and imposed itself between man and God and moved Christ out of the way. In his stead, it has introduced a book called the Bible that they place in a holy place and call The Word of God.
Nothing Should Separate Christs Disciples Frrom God
The Apostle Paul said at Romans 8:38-39:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The diagram shows an entity that presents a separation between man and God. It is religious organization; an enity that should not be there. This entity is gathering people into itself and giving them fancy sounding titles and names; titles and names neither God or Christ spoke of. This is all man’s doing. Not only that, they all teach that which Christ did not. In fact, many of those teachings go 180 degrees out of phase with what Christ did teach.
The indoctrination is heavy and its purpose is to take control and ownership of mankind. To be mankinds head and Master. Mankind, who Christ died for and therefore owns and is Master of. (1Cor 11:3)
Religious organization is a thief who came in undercover in the night and has stolen what does not belong to it and neither did it pay for (with its woen blood): Mankind.
To be fair, all of us are indoctrinated in some sense and to various degrees into something. May it be politcal, religious, or whatever.
The indoctrination I am referring to contained in the question: Is one loyal to religious organization and blindly adopts and accepts what it teaches or is one loyal to God and Christ and accept what they teach. Never should it be because a religious organization – no matter how large or popular – says it is of God and Christ means that it is true.
A tell-tale indicator that they are not is that they tell persons what one MUST do in order to join THEM and to be called by the fancy names and titles THEY have created.
No one of importance. A disciple (student) of Christ apart from the established religious systems who reasons, thinks and concludes matters for myself. Something is not right with the state of religion in the world. The real dichotomy is that we live in a world so full of religion, yet is an evil, immoral, and dangerous place to live. A mental and spiritual separation from this world that Jesus said his kingdom is no part of is the first step to a "break-through" to freedom and entry into a much larger spiritual world where God and Christ resides and the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God can be accessed.