Cast Away is a Robert Zemeckis movie in which Chuck Nolan, the title character played by Tom Hanks, has been left completely alone on a deserted island after surviving a plane wreck. In the movie, Chuck is confronted with the ever present
isolation and crushing loneliness that threatens to lead him to suicide. His answer to this dilemma is to inadvertently create an imaginary friend named Wilson, who is represented by a face drawn in blood on a aptly named Wilson sporting goods volleyball.
The question that this paper raises is what “religion”, to use that word in it’s broadest sense, can the character Chuck Nolan conceivably belong to, or practice, that will indeed bring him assurance of salvation as well as some semblance
of hope in what is left of his earthly existence. The purpose of this train of thought and how it relates to the general narrative, is to perhaps examine the underlying characteristic of what any and every “cult” must incorporate: community. What
we see in almost every single religion as well as cults, is the underlying foundation of acceptance and belonging, either to the kingdom of God itself, or the group in general. It is not this papers intent to present any kind of compilation of the vast array
of religions and cults throughout the world, but instead to show how Christianity specifically addresses this situation that a cast away would be confronted with. To put the question in a more general context; In what system of belief, or “religion”,
could any person, in any situation, find salvation and hope. Note that this is not addressing the question of what happens to the people who never hear about any particular doctrine of salvation, but what outlook best addresses any and all circumstances
one may find in life. In this scenario, our Cast Away is faced with an absolute minimal environment by which he needs to both survive and stay relatively well adjusted, or sane. And Christianity quite simply and succinctly answers the two concerns this
Christianity most assuredly and without question provides an absolute solution to this issue in the atoning death of Jesus as Savior, Messiah, and Christ. And though there are some sects of Christianity
that would attempt to attach certain “works” on man’s part i.e.; baptism, speaking in tongues, etc., the bible is quite clear on the issue of mankind’s inability to ever gain God’s approval through any and all good deeds,
or “works” as stated before. It is here one can see the unique position that Christianity holds that sets it apart from all other cults and religious beliefs. There is simply no set of actions or “deeds”, other than the acceptance of
salvation, that one must do to be saved. This also flies in the face of the popular myth that somehow Christians are supposed to “act” good to gain, or maintain, God’s favor and acceptance which can lead, of course, to the stereotypical
hypocrisy of “fake” Christianity that so many in the world find distasteful, to put it mildly. Note as well that this sets Christianity apart from all cultish and religious beliefs that some sort of community service, i.e.; prayer meetings, bible
studies, pilgrimages, etc., are fundamentally required to either again be “saved”, or necessary to advance in the hierarchal structure of gaining God’s favor.
2) General sanity.
In the movie Cast Away the writers
have decided to address the overwhelming problem that any human might encounter in this situation given the complete deprivation of personal contact one would be subject to, that is; loneliness, and it’s ability to drive one towards mental instability.
As noted before, the means by which Chuck Nolan eventually overcomes this obstacle in the movie is to create a false entity named Wilson. The severity of this problem is not overstated in this scenario, though as entertainment it could be easily discounted.
But the fact remains that as humans, we have an undeniable need for personal interaction which the creators of the movie have given thought to. And here again one finds that Christianity offers a unique and satisfactory solution to this problem. Indeed, one
of the basic understandings of Christianity is that humans are made in the image of God, who is thus presented as a personal being who relates personally within the framework of the trinity, and therefore endows His creation with that same attribute that He
himself exhibits. It is therefore satisfied, as has been mentioned before, by the personal relationship that every human in existence may partake of, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Himself that can indeed satisfy any humans need for personal interaction,
and can be witnessed, as many a Christian could testify, to be that very action that is in response to their own personal cry of pain, loneliness, and desire for love. Indeed, an argument could easily be made that this “indwelling” is the only
condition by which humans may find true satisfaction, though that is an argument for another place and time.
The question then is “so what”? What does this have to do with an article that wishes to explore the cult status of a group
called Xenos Christian Fellowship?
Barring the condition of winding up on a deserted island all alone, or some other form of isolation, it is clearly God’s desire that Christians should seek out group belonging, or “fellowship” with
other Christians. It has also been mentioned before in this paper that it has been the unfortunate practice of Christians to not only engage in the intolerant hatred of other non-like minded groups and individuals, but even those fellow Christians who
may share even the smallest differences of opinions or doctrinal beliefs. But seeing that Christianity was begun in a day and place when humans regularly had one another killed for simple sport, and the undeniable evil of the human condition, it has
also been this papers contention that Christianity has progressed exponentially, even in this last generation, from which the Catholic and Protestant unrest in Ireland is now but a distant memory. Indeed, given a mature and realistic outlook upon the ever
present condition of the evils in this world, it is with a joyous heart that Christianity can finally be seen to be a unified force of peace, love, and “good will toward men”.
Yet still it has been mentioned throughout this paper the
various uses and possible abuses that XCF has engaged in concerning it’s approach towards group behavior and manipulation.One concern that has been raised as well is the idea of recruitment among the younger population of Columbus, Ohio, and specifically
the high school to pre college age youth. And while it may be many a parents relief that their children have become involved in an organization that promotes upstanding Christian values and beliefs, others have expressed fear and alarm at the radical change
they have witnessed in their child’s demeanor.
It has been pointed out throughout this paper as well that it is here that XCF displays their most “cultish” behaviors in their practice of exclusivity that in turn leads to these many abuses
of group manipulations, and specifically the usage of group acceptance and rejection as well as the persuasion of overwhelming time demands. And while there seems to be no clear practices or beliefs of any anti or extra biblical ideas, it is undeniable the
many parallels XCF displays to cults of this nature in other realms as stated before.
It is and has been this papers contention that just like the current seven billion individual differences of personality that are present in humans throughout
this world, Jesus the savior can and will, if so desired, relate in His own unique and personal way to each and every one of them through His intimate knowledge of them as their creator, and again that all of these people could ideally find their specific
“brand” of corporate worship and fellowship that would suit their needs.
Perhaps one solution that would best serve XCF is, through humility, to look honestly at the issues that have been an ever present dissatisfaction with it’s surrounding
community, and thence seek out it’s part in the greater Christian commission that is shared by all true bible believing organizations in the world, as well as Columbus, Ohio, instead of this arrogant and dogmatic belief that it somehow represents the
truest embodiment of the Christian church and must then adhere to the standard stated maxim often heard amongst the leaders of XCF, “my way, or the highway”.
True Spirituality VS Cult Like Control