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Sacred Tribes Journal

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Sacred Tribes Journal

Grey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey Sacred Tribes Journal


Sacred Tribes is an evangelical Christian e-journal concerned with mission to new religious movements. It has four main purposes. First, it operates as a forum for writers to explore, advocate and demonstrate contextual mission approaches to dialogue and evangelism with devotees of new religious movements. Second, it is designed so practitioners of contextual mission approaches can discuss the street-life realities of their ministries in reaching adherents of new religious movements. Third, Sacred Tribes will, from time to time, have special focus editions where missionary-apologists directly engage in outreach and dialogue to specific movements. These special editions will, by extension, provide readers with a practical demonstration of how the craft of contextual mission with new religions adherents operates. Fourth, this e-journal promotes healthy discussion and peer review of methodological issues where apologetics and missions intersect.

Co-edited by Jon Trott (of Jesus People USA), Philip Johnson and John Morehead.

This publication represents a controversial direction taken by some of its principals, who accept and promote the ideas and work of cult apologists.

For instance, in recent years John Morehead has become a vocal and active supporter of several cult apologists, claiming that evangelical Christian can learn from their allegedly 'missiological approaches.' In his capacity as the current president of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions has even invited cult defenders Douglas Cowan and J. Gordon Melton to speak at an EMNR conference - all the while refusing to discuss the faulty research, dishonesty, and offbeat world views they represent.

Note that the application of a 'missiological approach' to people involved in cults and new- or alternative religious movements is good. However, the notion that in doing so we can learn anything of value from noted cult defenders such as J. Gordon Melton and Jeffrey K. Hadden is foolish, to say the least.

Not only does common sense suggest that anyone interested in helping those trapped in cults reject the 'help' of cult defenders, but the Bible also specifically warns against such people (some of whom even claim, falsely, to be 'Christians'):

"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; {30} and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
(Acts 20:29-30 NNAS)

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. {15} Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
(2 Corinthians 11:14-15 NNAS)

Sadly, the Sacred Tribes Journal, co-edited by Morehead, prominently links to cult apologists organization CESNUR, and the sites of Jeffrey K. Hadden and Irving Hexham.

Jon Trott continues to attack Ron Enroth over the latter's book, "Recovering From Churches That Abuse."

It is telling that in its defense against Dr. Enroth's comments, Jesus People USA has relied on, among others, cult apologist Anson Shupe (See this interviewOff-site Link with Shupe in the special issue of Cornerstone magazine that includes pre-emptive rebuttals to Enroth's then forthcoming book).

In fact, Jon Trott, senior editor of JPUSA's Cornerstone Magazine, uncritically accepts the views of cult apologists - and actively promotes their work. In addition, like the cult defenders whose work he admires, Trott attacks those who use proper terminology such as ''cult'' and cult apologist. He also objects to the identification of the Church of Scientology as a ''hate group,'' even though hate and harassment activities are specifically condoned and encouraged in that organizations's scripture (and consequently evidenced in the cult's group's behavior)

Though he apparently has little practical experience in dealing with actual current and former cult members, and is not considered to be a cult expert, he vehemently defends his views.

Recently, Jon Trott also re-opened the attacks on Ron Enroth, with the inclusion of a chapter in cult apologist Anson Shupe's book, Bad Pastor: Clergy Misconduct in Modern AmericaOff-site Link. Enroth's response to Trott can be read here.

Pertinent questions and comments posted on the AR-talk and AR-forum mailing lists regarding these issues have been met only with evasive replies, and a marked refusal to interact with research resources documenting the words and deeds of various cult apologists.

For example, those involved in the publication have failed to show what kind of fruit the approach taken by the likes of Melton, Hadden and Cowan has produced. Have people left cults or new religions due to the alleged 'missiological approach' these folks are said to promote? Have others reconsidered their decision to join such movements based on their research? Or have these blind guides actually been responsible for encouraging people to join - and/or stay in - destructive movements?

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