The book of Revelation describes a nightmarish vision of a power-hungry worldly power metaphorically described as a “beast.” This worldy power has a major propaganda master described as the “false prophet” who “works signs and wonders” to make people believe that the beast is the natural ruler of the world. The combination of military might and coercive persuasiveness makes this system very difficult to resist, yet believers are called upon to keep their faith in Jesus Christ in spite of everything the beast and false prophet can do to them.
In the context that the book was written, the mighty Roman Empire seems to have been the system John was describing. The Evil Empire’s propaganda master no less than Nero Caesar himself, who persuaded the Empire that Christianity was the ultimate evil in the world.
The Roman Empire has come and gone, but the game of empire-building is far from history. Every country has the potential to become an oppressive state.
It is not just nations that have the ability to be totalitarian systems. Any organization can become functionally a mind-controlling cult. Coercive persuasion can take many forms: religious, philosophical, even business organizations can take on totalitarian characteristics.
Researchers Susan Andersen and Philip Zimbardo have compiled a very good list of ways of resisting mind control in various forms in an article on the International Cultic Studies Association webite entitled “Resisting Social Influence.”
The information presented in our service Oct. 16 was from the section “Resisting Systems: Voice, Exit or Rebellion” from the article “Resisting Social Influence” linked above.