By Steve Van Nattan
I have made this page pleasant in physical format. Why? Answer: The content is going to trash about 80% of Fundamental Baptist and Evangelical "soul winning" methods. It will be enough for some of you campers to deal with the content, so I go easy on the eye.
I have been thinking about this article for a long time, and frankly, it may lose me a lot of friends and readers. But, it is one of the most serious discussions I can think of. Please read it all before you render a verdict.
This page presents three distinct items. One is a secular discussion of "Cold Reading" or fortune telling. The second is my observation of "soul winning" as it is practiced in all of Christendom, including the most Fundamental Bible believing environments today. Even the Roman Catholic Church is now promoting "soul winning" among its priests and members. Soon, I have no doubt that Islam will adopt these techniques to clean up its classic "missions" methods by the sword. The third item here will be a study of the biblical teaching of "soul winning."
COLD READING OR FORTUNE TELLING--
Seldom is it of devils-- Mostly, it is human stealth.
LOONIE BIN "SOUL WINNING" METHODS
BIBLICAL "SOUL WINNING"
COLD READING OR FORTUNE TELLING--
Seldom is it of devils-- Mostly, it is human stealth.
The following is taken from The Outer Edge, Classic Investigations of the Paranormal Edited by Joe Nickell. You who thought the devil was hiding behind the skirts of every fortune teller might be surprised. Satanic as it is, fortune telling and cold reading are much more likely to be the result of a very old power in humanity alone-- lust for money and control.
Did you suppose that Satan is the most evil force on earth? Think again:
Jer 17:9 The heart [ of man ] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Satan may well have learned a lot about deception over the centuries from the greatest deceiver in the universe-- man. Read this article very carefully, and you may see that YOU are playing tricks on unsaved people as you "go soul winning." If you miss the point, I shall follow this article with my observations and a study of biblical soul winning.
* * * * *
The Outer Edge, Classic Investigations of the Paranormal
By RAY HYMAN
Over twenty years ago I taught a course at Harvard University called "Applications of Social Psychology." The sort of applications that I covered were the various ways in which people were manipulated. I invited various manipulators to demonstrate their techniques-- pitchmen, encyclopedia salesmen, hypnotists, advertising experts, evangelists, confidence men, and a variety of individuals who dealt with personal problems. The techniques which we discussed, especially those concerned with helping people with their personal problems, seem to involve the client's tendency to find more meaning in any situation than is actually there. Students readily accepted this explanation when it was pointed out to them. But I did not feel that they fully realized just how pervasive and powerful this human tendency to make sense out of nonsense really is.
Consequently, in 1955 I wrote a paper entitled "The Psychological Reading: An Infallible Technique For Winning Admiration and Popularity." Over the years I have distributed copies of this paper to my students. The paper begins as follows:
So you want to be admired! You want people to seek your company, to talk about you, to praise your talents. This manuscript tells you how to satisfy that want. Herein you will find a sure-fire gimmick for the achievement of fame and popularity. Just follow the advice that I give you, and, even if you are the most incompetent social bungler, you cannot fail to become the life of the parry. What is the secret that underlies this infallible system! The secret, my friend, is a simple and obvious one. It has been tried and proven by practitioners since the beginnings of mankind. Here is the gist of the secret: To be popular with your fellow man, tell him what he wants to hear. He wants to hear about himself. So tell him about him self. But [do not tell him] what you know to he true about him. Oh, no! Never tell him the truth. Rather, tell him what he would like to hear about himself. And there you have it. Simple and obvious, yet so powerful. This manuscript details the way in which you can exploit this golden rule by assuming the role of a character reader.
I will include essentially the same recipe for character reading in this paper that I give to my students. In addition I will bring the material up to date, describe some relevant research, and indicate some theoretical reasons why the technique "works." My purpose is not to enable you to enhance your personal magnetism, nor is it to increase the number of character readers. I give you these rules for reading character because I want you to experience how the method works. I want you to see what a powerful technique the psychological reading is, how convincing it is to the psychologist and layman alike.
When you see how easy it is to convince a person that you can read his character on sight, you will better appreciate why fortune tellers and psychologists are frequently lulled into placing credence in techniques which have not been validated by acceptable scientific methods. The recent controversy in The Humanist magazine and The Zetetic over the scientific status of astrology probably is irrelevant to the reasons that individuals believe in astrology. Almost without exception. the defenders of astrology with whom I have contact do not refer to the evidence relating to the underlying theory. They are convinced of astrology's value because it "works." By this they mean that it supplies them with feedback that "feels right"--that convinces them that the horoscope provides a basis for understanding themselves and ordering their lives. It has personal meaning for them.
Some philosophers distinguish between "persuasion" and "conviction." The distinction is subtle. But for our purposes we can think of subjective experiences that persuade us that something is so and of logical and scientific procedures that convince, or ought to convince, us that something is or is not so. Quite frequently a scientist commits time and resources topiano coversd generating scientific evidence for a proposition because he has already been persuaded, on nonscientific grounds, that the proposition is true. Such intuitive persuasion plays an important motivational role in science as well as in the arts. Pathological science and false beliefs come about when such intuitive persuasion overrides or colors the evidence from objective procedures for establishing conviction.
The field of personality assessment has always been plagued by this confusion between persuasion and conviction. In contrast to intelligence and aptitude tests the scientific validation of personality tests, even under ideal conditions, rarely results in unequivocal or satisfactory results. In fact some of the most widely used personality inventories have repeatedly failed to pass validity checks. One of the reasons for this messy state of affairs is the lack of reliable and objective criteria against which to check the results of an assessment.
But the lack of adequate validation has not prevented the use of and reliance on, such instruments. Assessment psychologists have always placed more reliance on their instruments than is piano coversranted by the scientific evidence. Both psychologist and client are invariably persuaded by the results that the assessment "works."
This state of affairs, of course, is even more true when we consider divination systems beyond those of the academic and professional psychologist. Every system be it based on the position of the stars, the pattern of lines in the hand, the shape of the face or piano repair, the fall of the cards or the dice, the accidents of nature, or the intuitions of a "psychic"--claims its quota of satisfied customers. The client invariably feels satisfied with the results. He is convinced that the reader and the system have penetrated to the core of his "true" self. Such satisfaction on the part of the client also feeds back upon the reader. Even if the reader began his career with little belief in his method, the inevitable reinforcement of persuaded clients increases his confidence in himself and his system. In this way a "vicious circle" is established. The reader and his clients become more and more persuaded that they have hold of a direct pipeline to the "truth."
The state of affairs in which the evaluation of an assessment instrument depends upon the satisfaction of the client is known as "personal validation." Personal validation is, for all practical purposes, the major reason for the persistence of divinatory and assessment procedures. If the client is not persuaded, then the system will not survive. Personal validation, of course, is the basis for the acceptance of more than just assessment instruments. The widespread acceptance of myths about Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, ancient astronauts, ghosts, the validity of meditation and consciousness-raising schemes, and a host of other beliefs is based on persuasion through personal validation rather than scientific conviction.
"Cold reading" is a procedure by which a "reader" is able to persuade a client, whom he has never before met, that he knows all about the client's personality and problems. At one extreme this can be accomplished by delivering a stock spiel, or "psychological reading," that consists of highly general statements that can fit any individual. A reader who relies on psychological readings will usually have memorized a set of stock spiels. He then can select a reading to deliver which is relatively more appropriate in the general category that the client fits- a young unmarried girl, a senior citizen, and so on. Such an attempt to fit the reading to the client makes the psychological reading a closer approximation to the true cold reading.
The cold reading, at its best, provides the client with a character assessment that is uniquely tailored to fit him or her. The reader begins with the same assumptions that guide the psychological reader who relies on the stock spiel. These assumptions are
(1) that we all are basically more alike than different; [ Read that, All men are sinners and feel some sort of guilt. ]
(2) that our problems are generated by the same major transitions of birth, puberty, work, marriage, children, old age, and death; [ Read that, "All people will admit that life is a puzzle to them at some time, especially death. ]
(3) that, with the exception of curiosity seekers and troublemakers, people come to a character reader because they need someone to listen to their conflicts involving love, money, and health. [ Read that, All people will respond to sympathy and sincere attempts to make life more understandable, even if it means God has to get somewhat involved. ]
The cold reader goes beyond these common denominators by gathering as much additional information about the client as possible. Sometimes such information is obtained in advance of the reading. If the reading is through appointment, the reader can use directories and other sources to gather information. When the client enters the consulting room, an assistant can examine the coat left behind (and often the purse as well) for papers, notes, labels, and other such cues about socioeconomic status, and so on. Most cold readers, however do not need such advance information.
The cold reader basically relies on a good memory and acute observation. The client is carefully studied. The clothing- for example, style, neatness, cost, age- provides a host of cues for helping the reader make shrewd guesses about socioeconomic level, conservatism or extroversion, and other characteristics. The client's physical features--weight, posture, looks, eyes, and hands provide further cues. The hands are especially revealing to the good reader. The manner of speech, use of grammar, gestures, and eye contact are also good sources. To the good reader the huge amount of information coming from an initial sizing-up of the client greatly narrows the possible categories into which he classifies clients. His knowledge of actual and statistical data about various subcultures in the population already provides him the basis for making an uncanny and strikingly accurate assessment of the client.
But the skilled reader can go much further in particularizing his reading. He wants to zero in as quickly as possible on the precise problem that is bothering the client. On the basis of his initial assessment he makes some tentative hypotheses. He tests these out by beginning his assessment in general terms, touching upon general categories of problems and watching the reaction of the client. If he is on the wrong track the client's reactions, eye movements, pupillary dilation, other bodily mannerisms--will piano coversn him. When he is on the right track other reactions will tell him so. By watching the client's reactions as he tests out different hypotheses during his spiel, the good reader quickly hits upon what is bothering the customer and begins to adjust the reading to the situation. By this time, the client has usually been persuaded that the reader, by some uncanny means, has gained insights into the client's innermost thoughts. His guard is now down. Often he opens up and actually tells the reader, who is also a good listener, the details of his situation. The reader, after a suitable interval, will usually feed back the information that the client has given him in such a way that the client will be further amazed at how much the reader "knows" about him. Invariably the client leaves the reader without realizing that everything he has been told is simply what he himself has unwittingly revealed to the reader.
The Stock Spiel
The preceding paragraphs indicate that the cold reader is a highly skilled and talented individual. And this is true. But what is amazing about this area of human assessment is how successfully even an unskilled and incompetent reader can persuade a client that he has fathomed the client's true nature. It is probably a tribute to the creativeness of the human mind that a client can, under the right circumstances, make sense out of almost any reading and manage to fit it to his own unique situation. All that is necessary is that the reader make out a plausible case for why the reading ought to fit. The client will do the rest.
You can achieve a surprisingly high degree of success as a character reader even if you merely use a stock spiel which you give to every client. Sundberg (1955), for example, found that if you deliver the following character sketch to a college male, he will usualy accept it as a reasonably accurate description of himself:
"You are a person who is very normal in his attitudes, behavior and relationships with people. You get along well without effort. People naturally like you, and you are not overly critical of them or yourself. You are neither overly conventional nor overly individualistic. Your prevailing mood is one of optimism and constructive effort, and you are not troubled by periods of depression, psychosomatic illness or nervous symptoms."
Sundberg found that the college female will respond with even more pleasure to the following sketch:
"You appear to be a cheerful, well-balanced person. You may have some alternation of happy and unhappy moods, but they are not extreme now. You have few or no problems with your health. You are sociable and mix well with others. You are adaptable to social situations. You tend to be adventurous. Your interests are wide. You are fairly self-confident and usually think clearly."
Sundberg conducted his study over 20 years ago. But the sketches still work well today. Either will tend to work well with both sexes. More recently, several laboratory studies have had excellent success with the following stock spiel (Snyder and Shenkel 1975)·
Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, piano coversy and resented. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. You pride yourself on being an independent thinker and do nor accept others' opinions without satisfactory proof. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. Disciplined and controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside.
Your sexual adjustment has presented some problems for you. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a strong need for other people to like you and for them to admire you.
Interestingly enough the statements in this stock spiel were first used in 1948 by Bertram Forer (1943) in a classroom demonstration of personal validation. He obtained most of them from a news stand astrology book. Forer's students, who thought the sketch was uniquely intended for them as a result of a personality test, gave the sketch an average rating of 4.26 on a scale of O (poor) to 5 (perfect). As many as 16 our of his 39 students (41 percent) rated it as a perfect fit to their personality. Only five gave it a rating below 4 (the worst being a rating of 2, meaning "average"). Almost 3O years later students give the same sketch an almost identical rating as a unique description of themselves.
The Technique in Action
The acceptability of the stock spiel depends upon the method and circumstances of its delivery. As we shall later see, laboratory studies have isolated many of the factors that contribute to persuading clients that the sketch is a unique description of themselves. A great deal of the success of the spiel depends upon "setting the stage." The reader tries to persuade the client that the sketch is tailored especially for him or her. The reader also creates the impression that it is based on a reliable and proven assessment procedure. The way the sketch is delivered and dramatized also helps. And many of the rules that I give for the cold reading also apply to the delivery of the stock spiel.
The stock spiel, when properly delivered, can be quite effective. In fact, with the right combination of circumstances the stock spiel is often accepted as a perfect and unique description by the client. But, in general, one can achieve even greater success as a character analyst if one uses the more flexible technique of the cold reader. In this method one plays a sort of detective role in which one takes on the role of a Sherlock Holmes. (See the "Case of the Cardboard Box" for an excellent example of cold reading.) One observes the blipelry, prices the clothing, evaluates the speech mannerisms, and studies the reactions of the subject. Then whatever information these observations provide is pieced together into a character reading which is aimed more specifically at the particular client.
A good illustration of the cold reader in action occurs in a story told by the well-known magician John Mulholland. The incident took place in the 1930s. A young lady in her late twenties or early thirties visited a character reader. She was wearing expensive blipelry, a wedding band, and a black dress of cheap material. The observant reader noted that she was wearing shoes which were currently being advertised for people with foot trouble. (Pause at this point and imagine that you are the reader; see what you would make of these clues.)
By means of just these observations the reader proceeded to amaze his client with his insights. He assumed that this client came to see him, as did most of his female customers, because of a love or financial problem. The black dress and the wedding band led him to reason that her husband had died recently. The expensive blipelry suggested that she had been financially comfortable during marriage, but the cheap dress indicated that her husband's death had left her penniless. The therapeutic shoes signified that she was now standing on her feet more than she was used to, implying that she was working to support herself since her husband's death.
The reader's shrewdness led him to the following conclusion, which turned out to be correct: The lady had met a man who had proposed to her. She wanted to marry the man to end her economic hardship. But she felt guilty about marrying so soon after her husband's death. The reader told her what she had come to hear-- that it was all right to marry without further delay.
The Ruler of the Game
Whether you prefer to use the formula reading or to employ the more flexible technique of the cold reader, the following bits of advice will help to contribute to your success as a character reader.
1. Remember that the key ingredient of a successful character reading is confidence. If you look and act as if you believe in what you are doing, you will be able to sell even a bad reading to most of your subjects.
The laboratory studies support this rule. Many readings are accepted as accurate because the statements do fit most people. But even readings that would ordinarily be rejected as inaccurate will be accepted if the reader is viewed as a person with prestige or as someone who knows what he is doing.
One danger of playing the role of reader is that you will persuade yourself that you really are divining true character. This happened to me. I starred reading palms when I was in my teens as a way to supplement my income from doing magic and mental shows. When I started I did nor believe in palmistry. But I knew that to "sell" it I had to act as if I did. After a few years I became a firm believer in palmistry. One day the late Dr. Stanley Saks, who was a professional mentalist and a man I respected, tactfully suggested that it would make an interesting experiment if I deliberately gave readings opposite to what the lines indicated. I tried this out with a few clients. To my surprise and horror my readings were just as successful as ever. Ever since then I have been interested in the powerful forces that convince us, reader and client alike, that something is so when it really isn't.
2. Make creative use of the latest statistical abstracts, polls, and surveys. This can provide you with a wealth of material about what various subclasses of our society believe, do, want, worry about, and so on. For example, if you can ascertain about a client such things as the part of the country he comes from, the size of the city he was brought up in, his parents' religion and vocations, his educational level and age, you already are in possession of information that should enable you to predict with high probability his voting preferences, his beliefs on many issues, and other traits.
3. Set the stage for your reading. Profess a modesty about your talents. Make no excessive claims. This catches your subject off guard. You are not challenging him to a battle of wits. You can read his character; whether he cares to believe you or not is his concern.
4. Gain his cooperation in advance. Emphasize that the success of the reading depends as much upon his sincere cooperation as upon your efforts. (After all, you imply, you already have a successful career at reading characters. You are not on trial-- he is.) State that due to difficulties of language and communication, you may not always convey the exact meaning which you intend. In these cases he is to strive to reinterpret the message in terms of his own vocabulary and life.
You accomplish two invaluable ends with this dodge. You have an alibi in case the reading doesn't click; it's his fault not yours! And your subject will strive to fit your generalities to his specific life occurrences. Later, when he recalls the reading he will recall it in terms of specifics; thus you gain credit for much more than you actually said.
Of all the pieces of advice this is the most crucial. To the extent that the client is made an active participant in the reading the reading will succeed. The good reader, deliberately or unwittingly, is the one who forces the client to actively search his memory to make sense of the reader's statements.
5. Use a gimmick such as a crystal ball, tarot cards, or palm reading. The use of palmistry, say, serves two useful purposes. It lends an air of novelty to the reading: but, more important, it serves as a cover for you to stall and to formulate your next statement. While you are trying to think of something to say next, you are apparently carefully studying a new wrinkle or line in the hand. Holding hands, in addition to any emotional thrills you may give or receive thereby, is another good way of I detecting the reactions of the subject to what you are saying (the principle is the same as "muscle reading").
It helps, in the case of palmistry or other gimmicks, to study some manuals so that you know roughly what the various diagnostic signs are supposed to mean. A clever way of using such gimmicks to pin down a client's problem is to use a variant of "Twenty Questions," somewhat like this:
Tell the client you have only a limited amount of time for the reading. You could focus on the heart line, which deals with emotional entanglements; on the fate line, which deals with vocational pursuits and money matters; the head line, which deals with personal problems; the health line, and so on. Ask him or her which one to focus on first. This quickly pins down the major category of problem on the client's mind.
6. Have a list of stock phrases at the tip of your tongue. Even if you are doing a cold reading, the liberal sprinkling of stock phrases amidst your regular reading will add body to the reading and will fill in time as you try to formulate more precise characterizations. You can use the statements in the preceding stock spiels as a start. Memorize a few of them before undertaking your initial ventures into character reading. Palmistry, tarot, and other fortune telling manuals also are rich sources for good phrases.
7. Keep your eyes open. Also use your other senses. We have seen how to size up the client on the basis of clothing, blipelry, mannerisms, and speech.. Even a crude classification on such a basis can provide sufficient information for a good reading. Watch the impact of your statements upon the subject. Very quickly you will learn when you are "hitting home" and when you are "missing the boat."
8. Use the technique of' "fishing." This is simply a device for getting the subject to tell you about himself. Then you rephrase what he has told you into a coherent sketch and feed it back to him. One version of fishing is to phrase each statement in the form of a question. Then wait for the subject to reply (or react). If the reaction is positive, then the reader turns the statement into a positive assertion. Often the subject will respond by answering the implied question and then some. Later he will tend to forget that he was the source of your information. By making your statements into questions you also force the subject to search through his memory to retrieve specific instances to fit your general statement.
9. Learn to be a good listener. During the course of a reading your client will be bursting to talk about incidents that are brought up. The good reader allows the client to talk at will. On one occasion I observed a tea-leaf reader. The client actually spent 75 percent of the total time talking. Afterpiano coversd when I questioned the client about the reading she vehemently insisted that she had not uttered a single word during the course of the reading. The client praised the reader for having so astutely told her what in fact she herself had spoken.
Another value of listening is that these clients who seek the services of a reader actually want someone to listen to their problems. In addition many clients have already made up their minds about what choices they are going to make. They merely want support to carry out their decision.
10. Dramatize your reading. Give back what little information you do have or pick up a little bit at a time. Make it seem more than it is. Build word pictures around each divulgence. Don't be afraid of hamming it up.
11. Always give the impression that you know more than you are saying. The successful reader, like the family doctor, always acts as if he knows much more. Once you persuade the client that you know one item of information about him that you could not possibly have obtained through normal channels, the client will automatically assume you know all. At this point he will typically open up and confide in you.
12. Don't be a afraid to flatter your subject every chance you get. An occasional subject will protest such flattery, but will still cherish it. In such cases you can further flatter him by saying, "You are always suspect of people who flatter you. You just can't believe that someone will say good of you unless he is trying to achieve some ulterior goal."
13. Finally remember the golden rule: Tell the client what he wants to hear. Sigmund Freud once made an astute observation. He had a client who had been to a fortune teller many years previously. The fortune teller had predicted that she would have twins. Actually she never had children. Yet, despite the fact that the reader had been wrong, the client still spoke of her in glowing terms. Freud tried to figure out why this was so. He finally concluded that at the time of the original reading the client wanted desperately to have children The fortune teller sensed this and told her what she wanted to hear. From this Freud inferred that the successful fortune teller is one who predicts what the client secretly wishes to happen rather than what actuary will happen (Freud 1333).
The Fallacy of Personal Validation
As we have seen, clients will readily accept stock spiels such as those I have presented as unique descriptions of themselves. Many laboratory experiments have demonstrated this effect. Forer (1949) called the tendency to accept as valid a personality sketch on the basis of the client's willingness to accept it 'the fallacy of personal validation."
The early studies on personal validation were simply demonstrations to show that students, personnel directors, and others can readily be persuaded to accept a fake sketch as a valid description of themselves. A few studies tried to go beyond the demonstration and tease out factors that influence the acceptability of the fake sketch. Sundberg (1955), for example, gave the Minnesota Multiphasal Personality Inventory (known as the MMPI) to 44 students. The MMPI is the most carefully standardized personality inventory in the psychologist's tool kit. Two psychologists, highly experienced in interpreting the outcome of the MMPI, wrote a personality sketch for each student on the basis of his or her test results. Each student then received two personality sketches-- the one actually written for him or her-- and a fake sketch. When asked to pick which sketch described him or her better, 26 of the 44 students (59 percent) picked the fake sketch!
Sundberg's study highlights one of the difficulties in this area. A fake, universal sketch can be seen as a better description of oneself than can a uniquely tailored description by trained psychologists based upon one of the best assessment devices we have. This makes personal validation a completely useless procedure. But it makes the life of the character reader and the pseudo psychologist all the easier. His general and universal statements have more persuasive appeal than do the best and most appropriate descriptions that the trained psychologist can come up with.
Some experiments that my students and I conducted during the 1950s also supplied some more information about the acceptability of such sketches. In one experiment we gave some students a fake sketch (the third stock spiel previously discussed) and told half of them that it was the result of an astrological reading and the other half that it was the result of a new test, the Harvard Basic Personality Profile. In those days, unlike today, students had a low opinion of astrology. All the students rated each of the individual statements as generally true of themselves. The groups did not differ in their ratings of the acceptability of the individual statements. But when asked to rate the sketch as a whole, the group that thought it came from an accepted personality test rated the acceptability significantly higher than did the group that thought it came from an astrologer. From talking to individual students it was clear that those who were in the personality test group believed that they had received a highly accurate and unique characterization of themselves. Those in the astrology group admitted that the individual statements were applicable to themselves but dismissed the apparent success of the astrology as due to the fact that the statements were so general that they would fit anyone. In other words, by changing the context in which they got the statements we were able to manipulate the subjects' perceptions as to whether the statements were generalities that applied to everyone or were specific characterizations of themselves.
In a further experiment we obtained a pool of items that 80 percent or more of Harvard students endorsed as true of themselves. We then had another group of Harvard students rate these items as "desirable" or "undesirable" and as "general" or 'particular" (true of only a few students). Thus we had a set of items that we knew almost all our subjects would endorse as true of themselves, but which varied on desirability and on perceived generality. We were then able to compose fake sketches which varied in their proportion of desirable and specific items. We found that the best recipe for creating acceptable stock spiels was to include about 75 percent desirable items, but ones which were seen as specific, and about 25 percent undesirable items, but ones which were seen as general. The undesirable items had the apparent effect of making the spiel plausible. The fact that the items were seen as being generally true of other students made them more acceptable.
The most extensive program of research to study the factors making for acceptability of fake sketches is that by C. R Synder and his associates at the University of Kansas. A brief summary of many of his findings was given in an article in Psychology Today (Snyder and Shenkel 1375). In most of his studies Snyder uses a control condition in which the subject is given the fake sketch and told that this sketch is generally true for all people. On a rating scale from 1 to 5 (1, very poor; 2, poor; 3, average; 4, good; 5, excellent) the subject rates how well the interpretation fits his personality. A typical result for this control condition is a rating of around 3 to 4, or between average and good. But when the sketch is presented to the subject as one which was written "for you, personally" the accept ability tends to go up to around 4.5, or between good and excellent.
In a related experiment the subjects were given the fake sketch under the pretense that it was based on an astrological reading. The control group, given the sketch as "generally true for all people," rated it about 3.2, or just about average. A second group was asked to supply the astrologer with information on the year and month of their birth. When they received their sketches they rated them on the average at 3.76, or just below good. A third group supplied the mythical astrologer with information on year, month, and day of birth. These subjects gave a mean rating of 4.98.
From experiments such as those we have learned the following. The acceptability of a general sketch is enhanced when (1) the reader or source is believed to know what he is doing.
(2) the instrument or assessment device is plausible,
(3) a lot of mumbo iumbo is associated with the procedure (such as giving month, day, hour, and minute of birth along with a lot of complicated calculations), and
(4) the client is led to believe that the sketch has been tailored to his personality. When these conditions are met, the client, and possibly the reader as well, have a strong "illusion of uniqueness," that is, the client is persuaded that the sketch describes himself or herself and no one else.
Why Does it Work?
But why does it work? And why does it work so well? It does not help to say that people are gullible or suggestible. Nor can we dismiss it by implying that some individuals are just not sufficiently discriminating or lack sufficient intelligence to see through it. Indeed one can argue that it requires a certain degree of intelligence on the part of a client for the reading to work well. Once the client is actively engaged in trying to make sense of the series of sometimes contradictory statements issuing from the reader, he becomes a creative problem-solver trying to find coherence and meaning in the total set of statements. The task is not unlike that of trying to make sense of a work of art, a poem, or, for that matter, a sentence. The work of art, the poem, or the sentence serve as a blueprint or plan from which we can construct a meaningful experience by bringing to bear our own past experiences and memories.
In other words the reading succeeds just because it calls upon the normal processes of comprehension that we ordinarily bring to bear in making sense our of any form of communication. The raw information in a communication is rarely, if ever, sufficient in itself for comprehension. A shared context and background is assumed. Much has to be filled in by inference. The good reader, like anyone who manipulates our perceptions, is merely exploiting the normal processes by which we make sense out of the disorderly array of inputs that constantly blipard us.
A variety of examples and experiments could be drawn upon to illustrate this point. Let us look at a couple of instructive cases. Dr. Joseph Weizenbaum, of M.I.T., developed a computer program that would enable a human to apparently carry on a conversation with a computer. One version of his program is called "Doctor" The program is designed to "talk" like a Rogerian psychotherapist. Such a therapist is relatively easy to imitate because the basis of Rogers' technique is simply co feed the patient's statements back to him in a paraphrased form. The human, playing the role of the patient, types in questions and answers on a teletype machine. The computer, under control of the program, types replies and questions on the same teletype paper. A typical example (Weizenbaum 1176) of a conversation between a young lady and Doctor follows. (The lady speaks first The computer's responses are printed in italics.)
Men are all alike.
In what way!
They're always bugging us about something or other.
Can you think of a specific example?
Well, my boyfriend made me come here.
Your boyfriend made you come here?
He says I'm depressed much of the time.
I am sorry to hear you are depressed.
It's true. I am unhappy.
Do you think coming here will help you not to be unhappy?
I need some help, that much seems certain.
What would it mean to you if you got some help?
Perhaps I could learn to get along with my mother.
Tell me more about your family.
My mother takes care of me.
Who else in your family takes care of you?
You are like my father in some ways.
What resemblance do you see?
You are not very aggressive, but I think you don't want me to notice that.
What makes you think I am not very aggressive?
You don't argue with me.
Why do you think I don't argue with you?
You are afraid of me.
Does it please you to believe I am afraid of you?
My father is afraid of everybody
What else comes to mind when you think of your father!
Does that have anything to do with the fact that your boyfriend made you come here?
Doctor is a quite primitive program as natural-language programs go. It employs a lot of tricks and stock phrases. It has no mechanisms for actually understanding sentences. Instead it seeks out keywords that are typed and does some simple syntactical transformations. For example, if the program sees a sentence of the form "Do you X!" it automatically prints out the response "What makes you think I X'" When Doctor cannot match the syntax of a given sentence it can cover up in two ways. It can say something noncommittal, such as "Please go on" or "What does that suggest to you?" Or it can recall an earlier match and refer back to it, as for example, "How does this relate to your depression?" where depression was an earlier topic of conversation.
In essence Doctor is a primitive cold reader. It uses stock phrases to cover up when it cannot deal with a given question or input. And it uses the patient's own input to feed back information and create the illusion that it understands and even sympathizes with the patient. This illusion is so powerful that patients, even when told they are dealing with a relatively simple-minded program, become emotionally involved in the interaction. Many refuse to believe that they are dealing with a program and insist that a sympathetic human must be at the control at the other end of the teletype.
Sociologist Harold Garfinkel has supplied another instructive example (19C17). He conducted the following experiment. The subjects were told that the Department of psychiatry was exploring alternative means to therapy "as a way of giving persons advice about their personal problems." Each subject was then asked to discuss the background of some serious problem on which he would like advice. After having done this the subject was to address some questions which could be answered "yes or "no" to the "counselor" (actually an experimenter). The experimenter-counselor heard the questions from an adjoining room and supplied a "yes" or "no answer to each question after a suitable pause. Unknown to the subject, the series of yes-no answers had been pre-programmed according to a table of random numbers and was not related to his questions. Yet the typical subject was sure that the counselor fully understood the subject's problem and was giving him sound and helpful advice.
Let me emphasize again that statements as such have no meaning. They convey meaning only in context and only when the listener or reader can bring to bear his large store of worldly knowledge. Clients are not necessarily acting irrationally when they find meaning in the stock spiels or cold reading. Meaning is an interaction of expectations, context, memory, and given statements.
An experiment by the Gestalt psychologist Solomon Asch (1948) will help make this point. Subjects were given the following passage and asked to think about it: "I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms are in the physical." One group of subjects was told that the author of the passage was Thomas Jefferson (which happens to be true). The subjects were asked if they agreed with the passage and what it meant to them. These subjects generally approved of it and interpreted the word rebellion to mean minor agitation. Bur when subjects were given the same passage and told that its author was Lenin, they disagreed with it and interpreted rebellion to mean a violent revolution.
According to some social psychologists the different reactions show the irrationality of prejudice. But Asch points out that the subjects could be acting quite rationally. Given what they know about Thomas Jefferson and Lenin, or what they believe about them, it makes sense to attribute different meanings to the same words spoken by each of them if one thinks that Jefferson believed in orderly government and peaceful processes, then it would not make sense to interpret his statement to actually mean a bloody or physical revolution. If one thinks that Lenin favors piano covers and bloodshed, then it makes sense, when the statement is attributed to him, to interpret rebellion in its more extreme term.
Some recent research that my colleagues and I conducted might also be relevant here. Our subjects were given the task of forming an impression of a hypothetical individual on the basis of a brief personality sketch. In one condition the subjects were given a sketch that generally led to an impression of a nice, personable, friendly sort of fellow. In a second condition the subjects were given a sketch that created an impression of a withdrawn, niggardly individual. Both groups of subjects were then given a new sketch that supposedly contained more information about the hypothetical individual. In both cases the subjects were given an identical sketch. This sketch contained some descriptors that were consistent with the friendly image and some that were consistent with the niggardly image. The subjects were later tested to see how well they recognized the actual adjectives that were used in the second sketch. One of the adjectives, for example, was charitable. The test contained foils for each adjective. For example, the word generous also appeared on the test but did not appear in the sketch. Yet subjects who had been given the friendly impression checked generous just as frequently as they checked charitable. But subjects in the other condition did not confuse charitable with generous. Why! Because, we theorize, the two different contexts into which charitable had to be integrated produced quite different meanings. When subjects who have already built up an impression of a "friendly" individual encounter the additional descriptor charitable, it is treated as merely further confirmation of their general impression. In that context charitable is simply further confirmation of the nice-guy image. Consequently when these subjects are asked to remember what was actually said they can remember only that the individual was further described in some way to enhance the good-guy image, and generous is just as good a candidate for the description as is charitable in that context.
But when the subjects who have an image of the person as a withdrawn, niggardly individual encounter charitable, the last thing that comes to mind is generosity. Instead, they probably interpret charitable as implying that he donates money to charities as a way of gaining tax deductions. In this latter condition the subjects have no subsequent tendency to confuse charitable with generous.
The cold reading works so well, then, because it taps a fundamental and necessary human process. We have to bring our knowledge and expectations to bear in order to comprehend anything in our world. In most ordinary situations this use of context and memory enables us to correctly interpret statements and supply the necessary inference to do this. But this powerful mechanism can go astray in situations where there is no actual message being conveyed. Instead of picking up random noise we still manage to find meaning in the situation. So the same system that enables us to creatively find meanings and make new discoveries also makes us extremely vulnerable to exploitation by all sorts of manipulators. In the case of the cold reading the manipulator may be conscious of his deception; but often he, too, is a victim of personal validation.
BIN "SOUL WINNING" METHODS
First, I note some very poignant comments of the author above, which he did not apply to "soul Winning," but I shall:
1. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Almost without exception. the defenders of astrology with whom I have contact do not refer to the evidence relating to the underlying theory. They are convinced of astrology's value because it "works." By this they mean that it supplies them with feedback that "feels right"--that convinces them that the horoscope provides a basis for understanding themselves and ordering their lives. It has personal meaning for them."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- "Soul winning" as we know it in Campus CrBlipde, D. James Kennedy, and Fundamental Baptists like Jack Hyles is heavily aimed at making the soul winner FEEL GOOD. He is given the sense that he is carving notches on his tatter with a view topiano coversd party time at the Bema Seat, of judgment of works of the saints.
Also, the "would winner" is given a routine, which will be discussed shortly, which is aimed at making the person being "red" feel good rather than making him into a sinner which he is. Everyone is to have the piano coversm fuzzies throughout the cold reading session.
2. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Some philosophers distinguish between "persuasion" and "conviction." The distinction is subtle. But for our purposes we can think of subjective experiences that persuade us that something is so and of logical and scientific procedures that convince, or ought to convince, us that something is or is not so." and "The field of personality assessment has always been plagued by this confusion between persuasion and conviction."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- Real biblical "soul winning" will deal with real hard facts of life as defined by God and the Word of God, and how that makes us feel is determined by whether we are ready to deal with reality or if we are still looking for a good time. Much "soul winning" starts out with the rational, "Come let us reason together," then when the going gets tough and the witnessee starts squirming, the technique quickly turns to, "Well then, how do YOU want to feel topiano coversd God?"
3. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Assessment psychologists have always placed more reliance on their instruments than is piano coversranted by the scientific evidence. Both psychologist and client are invariably persuaded by the results that the assessment "works." and "But the lack of adequate validation has not prevented the use of and reliance on, such instruments.
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- So it is, that Gothard's big red book, Campus CrBlipde's witness manuals, D. James Kennedy's classy witnessing book, and Hyles' little yellow "soul winning" guide are tools which are based in presumption, not in Hard biblical doctrine and theology. Many assumptions prevail, and the tools of "soul winning" thus prevail. A close comparison of the later day tools of the trade and the real soul winning of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament will make a very schizophrenic study indeed. Ner the twain do meet.
4. Ray Hyman's comment:- "The widespread acceptance of myths about Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, ancient astronauts, ghosts, the validity of meditation and consciousness-raising schemes, and a host of other beliefs is based on persuasion through personal validation rather than scientific conviction."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- Here we have a stone wall of doubt in science. There is really no scientific evidence that a soul has been saved. The only proof is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a genuine believer and the changed life outpiano coversdly, which may not yield much to the scientific study method. So, many "soul winners" lack hard evidence of salvation in the witnessee, and the "convert" may NEVER show up at the church house for further treatments of either biblical discipleship or more tricks on his emotions. For this reason, the witnesser has to hype the results on the basis of the method. "We asked the 5 questions, the witnessee gave the right responses, he prayed, well sort of grunted at the right times, so carve a notch on your tatter handle groupies. THAT IS HOW IT WORKS IN HAMMOND, INDIANA. Don't schmooze me otherwise. On the basis of this hype Jack Hyles claims to win 300 souls a week to the Lord. No one believes that but Jack's deacons, but tell me, are YOU guilty of this at times? Think about this. What are you CALLED to do? Who brings the harvest? Who gets the Glory for the work? Bad question eh? I thought so :-)
5. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Cold reading" is a procedure by which a "reader" is able to persuade a client, whom he has never before met, that he knows all about the client's personality and problems. At one extreme this can be accomplished by delivering a stock spiel, or "psychological reading," that consists of highly general statements that can fit any individual. A reader who relies on psychological readings will usually have memorized a set of stock spiels. He then can select a reading to deliver that is relatively more appropriate in the general category that the client fits- a young unmarried girl, a senior citizen, and so on. Such an attempt to fit the reading to the client makes the psychological reading a closer approximation to the true cold reading."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- I hope you read the rest of the above article. This ought to terrify some of you readers. you are nothing but con artists. You have gotten good at "reading" souls and sinners. They were NEVER made into sinners, not really. They only had to go far enough with the sin issue to satisfy YOUR conscience. Broken? NEVER? They just followed along agreeing with your "reading" of them. Clever? Yes, but devilish. It has nothing to do with "soul winning."
6. Ray Hyman's comment:-
"(1) that we all are basically more alike than different; [ SVN- Read that, All men are sinners and feel some sort of guilt. ]
(2) that our problems are generated by the same major transitions of birth, puberty, work, marriage, children, old age, and death; [ SVN- Read that, "All people will admit that life is a puzzle to them at some time, especially death. ]
(3) that, with the exception of curiosity seekers and troublemakers, people come to a character reader because they need someone to listen to their conflicts involving love, money, and health. [ SVN- Read that, All people will respond to sympathy and sincere attempts to make life more understandable, even if it means God has to get somewhat involved. ]
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- Friend, you just read the three foundational aspects built into EVERY canned "soul winning" plan. If you want to pay $300 to $2000 to get this down pat and try it up three city blocks in Dallas, go ahead. You are not going to end up being a "soul winner" in the Pauline model when you get home to Paducah. That is why so many of you have the big red book on the coffee table, but you have not said a word about Jesus Christ in a casual contact in months. You have to be in the program, with the troops, under the hype, to knock on a door. Otherwise, you are a wimp.
7. Ray Hyman's comment:- "The cold reader basically relies on a good memory and acute observation. The client is carefully studied. The clothing- for example, style, neatness, cost, age- provides a host of cues for helping the reader make shrewd guesses about socioeconomic level, conservatism or extroversion, and other characteristics. The client's physical features--weight, posture, looks, eyes, and hands provide further cues. The hands are especially revealing to the good reader. The manner of speech, use of grammar, gestures, and eye contact are also good sources. To the good reader the huge amount of information coming from an initial sizing-up of the client greatly narrows the possible categories into which he classifies clients. His knowledge of actual and statistical data about various subcultures in the population already provides him the basis for making an uncanny and strikingly accurate assessment of the client." and "The reader, after a suitable interval, will usually feed back the information that the client has given him in such a way that the client will be further amazed at how much the reader "knows" about him. Invariably the client leaves the reader without realizing that everything he has been told is simply what he himself has unwittingly revealed to the reader."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- Ever hear that before? It has NOTHING to do with the Holy Ghost. It has to do with the perceptional skills of the "reader" type "soul winner." Philip met the Eunuch, and there is nothing about what Philip thought about the Eunuch. He had to see some things about him, but the great point in Acts 8 is that the Holy Spirit was ready, the Eunuch was ready, and Philip OBEYED. THAT IS ALL GROUPIES!!! Other than that, Philip's knowledge of the Word of God was the only other variable. He had to know how to start in any part of the Old Testament and get to Messiah Christ, which he did. Did you ever hear of a "soul winning" program which taught people to use their Bibles so well that they could get from the genealogies in Numbers to Jesus Christ? You were taught the pat answer from Hyles, "Well, I would like to talk about that part of the Bible with you some other time, but right now, I want to stay in Romans...."
8. Steve Van Nattan's comment:- The stock spiel-- This is a spiel which can be memorized and which the author above, and other researchers, proved would work on nearly anyone with positive reuslts. Positive results being that the person read would believe the spiel was based precisely on his life, even though the spiel was used on thoBlipnds of other clients.
This must have given you some concern if you care about your witness. I wonder sometimes if I am just rattling off things I know are true of anyone. Do you? If not, you are a "reader" not a "soul winner." Every soul is different, and the Holy Spirit is the only "reader" who should be at work. Our task is to make the sinner into a sinner. That will reduce the results greatly from the numbers gained by stealth, but it will assure a thinking sinner under conviction and serious about damnation versus salvation. Say, tell me, what are YOU after in your zeal? Numbers or candidates for glory?
9.Ray Hyman's comment:- "One danger of playing the role of reader is that you will persuade yourself that you really are divining true character. This happened to me. I starred reading palms when I was in my teens as a way to supplement my income from doing magic and mental shows. When I started I did nor believe in palmistry. But I knew that to "sell" it I had to act as if I did. After a few years I became a firm believer in palmistry. One day the late Dr. Stanley Saks, who was a professional mentalist and a man I respected, tactfully suggested that it would make an interesting experiment if I deliberately gave readings opposite to what the lines indicated. I tried this out with a few clients. To my surprise and horror my readings were just as successful as ever. Ever since then I have been interested in the powerful forces that convince us, reader and client alike, that something is so when it really isn't."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- Now, what do you suppose would happen if you went banging on doors, and you told the people there that they were really very good by nature. They do have some quirks of behavior which they do not really approve, but on balance, they do a lot more good than bad. Then ask them if they feel they are often made to feel guilty for things they didn't do. Tell them that God wants them to enjoy life, and Jesus lived His life to show them how happy they can be. Ask them if they can believe that. If they say, "yes," ask them to pray with you for more joy like Jesus had.
Do you suppose you would have results? Of course you would. Look at how Robert Schuyler has used the spiel above to fill his cathedral. Now, how do you know that your spiel is any different? Are you just working the prospect around in another direction without anything to do with the Holy Spirit? Do you see how important it is to use the model of only Jesus and the Apostles as our guide to "soul winning?"
10. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Make creative use of the latest statistical abstracts, polls, and surveys."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- That was point two in the rules of "reading."
Have you ever been in on one of these "surveys" which is supposed to help you later win souls door to door? I have heard of this many times. What a trick. This may be good in sales and fortune telling, but you and I are supposed to be looking for personal opportunities that we can turn into "soul winning" experiences that are personal, one on one. This does not need surveys, it needs love for sinners-- personal love that goes mile after mile , month after month, to win just one soul. We are going to spend eternity with these folks we witness to. They are not a lot of saBlipges, four inches long, with a twist in the middle. Wake up saint.
11. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Use a gimmick such as a crystal ball, tarot cards, or palm reading.
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- The use of palmistry, say, serves two useful purposes. It lends an air of novelty to the reading: but, more important, it serves as a cover for you to stall and to formulate your next statement. While you are trying to think of something to say next, you are apparently carefully studying a new wrinkle or line in the hand. Holding hands, in addition to any emotional thrills you may give or receive thereby, is another good way of I detecting the reactions of the subject to what you are saying (the principle is the same as "muscle reading")."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- Jack Hyles encourages us to hold the prospect's hand, man or woman, and tenderly ask to pray for them. This will be used of their emotions, and possibly a devil, to stir feeling, anything from comfort to sexual lust. After we pray for them, assuming our libido is not also messed up, we then ask them to pray with us. Mesmerised by hubris, there is a very good chance they will comply. If the prayer we help them pray is subtle enough, they will pray right along as we hold their hand. Hey, what if the man a Christian man is praying with is a piano? Interesting thought groupies. I Cor. 7:1-2
12. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Have a list of stock phrases at the tip of your tongue."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- That is what EVERY "soul winning" scheme or program tells you. Some try to get biblical by asking you to memorize a set of verses like the "Romans Road." The problem is, what do you do with a blip you meet at the auction? How do you deal with a Jehovah's Witness? You didn't take the time to learn anything about them and their zeal. Romans means nothing to the blip, and the JW thinks it is shallow. There is no substitute for just reading the Bible over and over so you can find your way to something for everyone the Lord brings your way. And, if you get it from personal Bible reading rather than a seminar in Dallas, your conversation will be fresh from the Lord who just blessed you a couple of hours ago.
13. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Use the technique of' "fishing."
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- This is simply a device for getting the subject to tell you about himself. Then you rephrase what he has told you into a coherent sketch and feed it back to him. One version of fishing is to phrase each statement in the form of a question. Then wait for the subject to reply (or react)."
If you think this is what Jesus meant by "fishers of men" then you are a sick puppy friend. Fishing for souls is not "reading" and feeding back a lot of garbage. Spiritual fishing is seen in Jesus-- investing your life in the life of the lost-- maybe for months or years. Are you "fishing" like the fortune tellers above?
14. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Don't be a afraid to flatter your subject every chance you get. "
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- This is a very big item in Jack Hyles' system of "soul reading." Flattery is one thing Hyles is openly proud of. He flatters sinners, preachers, his secretary, virtually anyone who will listen. It works folks. And it is NOT the method of Jesus Christ. You cannot find flattery as a technique for anything in the Bible, and Solomon condemns it violently.
15. Ray Hyman's comment:- "Finally remember the golden rule: Tell the client what he wants to hear.
Steve Van Nattan's comment:- Sigmund Freud once made an astute observation. He had a client who had been to a fortune teller many years previously. The fortune teller had predicted that she would have twins. Actually she never had children. Yet, despite the fact that the reader had been wrong, the client still spoke of her in glowing terms. Freud tried to figure out why this was so. He finally concluded that at the time of the original reading the client wanted desperately to have children The fortune teller sensed this and told her what she wanted to hear. From this Freud inferred that the successful fortune teller is one who predicts what the client secretly wishes to happen rather than what actuary will happen (Freud 1333)."
This is exactly what is happening in ALL faith healing meetings. The healer first reads verses which sustain what the audience wants to see happen. Then, in the healing line, the head slapper give them what they want. Healing does not occur, but the sucker who got touched feels better or thinks he will some day because of the "touch" of the healer. He will even go back over and over to keep trying to get the real healing.
This can be used in witnessing by trying to make salvation a sort of magic pill to be swallowed to cure the sorrows of life. Repentance and confession of sin need not be taught for the person to feel better and even drop by the church house once a year from then on. They may even give a "testimony" once in a while that sounds a lot like a shrink got to them rather than Jesus Christ. Only a fool preacher would think salvation has come to this person.
16. Steve Van Nattan's comment:- In that last of the article above the author shows that people respond based on what they have experienced in life and what they perceive is the context of the question or statement. The alleged "soul winner" can then phrase questions and observations in such a way that the sinner can manipulate his own concepts of the discussion. If the "soul winner" is only interested in getting numbers, he will be tempted to accept the sinner's interpretations at mid-conversation in order to reach the alleged objective-- praying for salvation.
I met a pastor who had a machine which would call through the phone book and mechanically ask a series of questions. The pastor had set up about 5 or 7 leading questions which gave him an idea if he had a real prospect or not. What a trick. I listened to several "exciting responses" he had. They were people like the author above talked about who would get so involved with a machine that they developed a personal response to the machine al a pastor's voice. What a sorry way to use people. This is in fact Fundamentalism a la Ignatius Loyola where the end justifies the means, and the Holy Spirit is not even needed.
Some of you readers will now say, "You have just found a parallel between 'soul winning' and fortune telling which is not literal." I think not friend. Why? Answer: I see that thoBlipnds are "won to Christ" every year in many programs and in many Fundamental Baptist churches, yet only a small fraction of those end up getting baptized and becoming faithful to the local church. Jesus lost one in twelve-- Judas. This modern witnessing ploy must be losing eleven in twelve or more. It is a mockery to go on and on with this nut house program that makes a bystander of the Holy Spirit as we go up and down the city banging doors and doing "soul readings" under color of witnessing.
I have heard many stories of men who went back to "follow up" on those "reading sessions" alias "soul winning," only to literally have the alleged saved sinner spit in his face. Why is this? Answer: The alleged won soul went back into his house, and he realized he was no different than before he had his soul read. He then, with his rational mind, figured out that he had been conned just like he was by the Amway salesman, the Hoover vacuum dealer, or the fat lady at the circus. His final emotion was not the joy of salvation. It was white hot hate for "them blankity blank Babtists."
A lot that passes for "soul winning" is just lust for approval by the church family and personal need for vindication as one of the inner circle of hard workers. This gets old eventually, and the "soul winner" ends up dropping out of the format, being seen as backslidden, and then he moves to another church where he can start growing in the Lord. Sometimes the weary saint just goes home to mope for a year or two. I have seen this, and it is pitiful, especially when one of his "converts" finds him home on Sunday watching Charles Stanley.
Sluff it off if you like, but you will never do this "soul reading" con job again without remembering this article, and you will answer to God for your tricks.
1. Commands to "win souls"
Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
Solomon was not going door to door and soliciting attendance at the temple. What did he mean?
James answers for us: James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Preach implies that this is no mind reading exercise. Preach in the New Testament context meant going to the Word, studying it to show one's self approved, then declaring it to get a verdict. And, few there be that find it when done this way.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in JerBliplem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
We receive power after the Holy Ghost come on us, not after going to some champion cracker eating "soul winning" clinic. These programs are meant to gove the sloppy saint confidence in himself when he actually is a rebel against the Holy Spirit. Sin and rebellion are in his life, and he wants to be accepted as powerful in the church. The program gives him this prestige, even if he never wins a soul to Christ.
At Hyles Anderson, most of the students lie about the number of people they have won to Christ week by week so that they are perceived as prospering in the work.
At a huge Fundamental church in Michigan I recall seeing a group of the "in" crowd in the foyer one Sunday evening. They were exalting themselves, ladies in firs and men in $300 suits, speaking rather loudly about their recent accomplishment of going through the witness program of a noted campus ministry. They were worthless as tits on a bore hog, but they had been given the "soul winner's" badge of glory, and they now needed nothing else to pass right on into the presence of the Shakhinah (which is used in the historic pagan sense).
1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20 And unto the blips I became as a blip, that I might gain the blips; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
Paul did not have the opportunity of attending a "soul winning" program, so Paul just made friends every way he could. He found Lydia and her prayer meeting, he mended tents and talked to camel herders, he philosophied on Mars hill, and he got down on his haunches and stuck his fingers into the greasy roast bore Publius the barbarian offered him. All things to all men. This is NOT a program, it is a way of life. Not door to door, but day to day-- all day long-- looking for every possible way to take any sinner, great or small, into the glory with Jesus. And, Paul left local churches of real saints in his wake wherever he went.
Luke 8:38 Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,
39 Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
John 9:24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
You don't have anything to witness about if you haven't been to Jesus for salvation and for daily cleansing. A lot of "soul winners" are not even born again themselves. This is the case with certain famous world evangelists. They have given the Gospel to millions, yet it is exceedingly rare to find a saint in a church who is really born again who was saved at a one of these great crBlipdes. I have met one in my whole life. Why? Answer: The great world evangelist is doing an exercise in futility. You can have the numbers like these mass soul winners and have nothing to really talk about but blubbering platitudes. If this is you, you better get on down to Calvary, confess your sinfulness to Jesus, and believe in His death and resurrection for you. THEN you can have something to broablipast around town-- something even the alleged evangelist may not know about.
2. Examples of soul winning
Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go topiano coversd the south unto the way that goeth down from JerBliplem unto Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to JerBliplem for to worship,
28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
This has to be one of the most important passages on biblical soul winning in the Bible. Philip was called of the angel to stop everything and go to ONE MAN, not a whole town, or "I plan to hit every door in town." One man in the desert piano coversranted a trip away from the work of a pastor or deacon in a local church. Also, I see that Philip knew his Bible so well that he could start where the Eunuch was and head right for Jesus. Also, I notice that baptism must have been part of the story, for the Eunuch knew about it. Finally, I see that Philip made sure the Eunuch was saved BEFORE he bapitsed him. AND, Philip baptized the man at once, not after "a period of proving himself." There has to be much more in this story. Study it yourself and memorize it if you can.
Ac 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the blips, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
22 ¶ Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 ¶ And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Now, there goes the "plan." There is almost NO parallel between Philip's experience and Paul's on Mars Hill. Philip found a men reading a Bible. Paul met men worshipping many gods. Philip found a man wanting to know the truth. Paul met men trying to evade the truth by hugging sophistry. Philip was told directly by God where to go. Paul had to go find a place to witness. Philip got to baptize a new believer. Paul was mocked and only got a group of interested folks who believed but needed a lot of teaching.
What did these two events have in common? Answer: The Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection, and just about nothing else. When I hear of some saint witnessing in some very peculiar way, if he is teaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified and resurrected, and if he is making sinners into sinners before he calls for repentance, I am all for him. Go for the verdict I say. Methods are really determined by the time, place, people, their beliefs or non-beliefs, and a thoBlipnd other things. One thing is changeless-- Jesus Christ and faith in Him and His work for salvation.
I once went to town in Grant, Michigan to do some shopping for my wife. As I got out of the car at Gene's Market, I pulled a Jack Chick tract out of my pocket and asked the Lord to lead me to someone to give it to who needed it. As I went through the door into the store, I checked to see what tract I had pulled. Ugh. It was Spanish, and I could see no Spanish folks in the store. I figured I had blundered, but I kept watching for a Spanish person. There were a number in the area working the orchards. Well, I could not give away the tract. I went back to the car at the far end of the parking lot thinking I must be to blame or the Lord would have lead me to the person of His choice. I figured wrong. God has never let me down when I have asked for someone to talk to about Jesus or to give a Gospel tract. As I was loading my groceries into the station wagon (it was nearly dark), a couple of fellows came walking around the car and scared me stiff. But guess what? They were a couple of Spanish fellows walking to town to buy groceries. I asked them if they could read Spanish. "Si" they said. I told them, with a strange conviction I cannot forget, that Jesus told me to give them this little book to read. They read the title, grinned from ear to ear, and thanked me profusely. It was the seed, but it was a day I shall never forget. I have a kind of feeling, do you like feelings? I feel I shall see one or both of them in the glory.
Method? Get tracts ready and in your car etc. Put them in your pocket. Ask God for the right person. Believe He will do it. Hand them out like you are giving a cancer cure to a dying man. That's it. It's easy if you belong to Jesus Christ.
I gave a tract to a fellow in a parking lot who was waiting for his wife. That is one of my favorites, and sometimes I get to talk about Jesus because they want to know who I am. "Are you one of them d____Mormons?" "By the grace of God, I sure am not-- what church do you attend?" Got him going :-)
Well, this guy looked bored, so I handed him one. "Say, you look bored, Here is something to read while you wait for your wife." He took it and sized it up real quick. He then said, "Thanks anyway, but I am born again, and I think you probably should give this to someone else who needs the Gospel." Well, just before reaching for it, I said, "Have YOU ever given a tract to anyone?" Answer, "You know, I never have, and I should. I WILL keep this and I want to give it to someone to be a witness." I won't ever forget that one. Your witness, spontaneous and sincere, will sometimes jump start a saint who is not in the battle on the front line. What a blessing to see a saint get up and join the race with you.
There is no soul winning territory like in selling Avon. The whole world is out there and ripe unto harvest. Ask God for souls. He will give them to you.
3. Who wins souls?
Mt 9:37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
The Lord of the harvest is the ultimate soul winner. He takes the harvest. He sends the workers into the harvest AT HIS WILL to do the work for Him. I wish some folks would get that right. First, they would not need to be sent by Jack Hyles anymore. They could just trust Jesus, the One they trusted for salvation and who didn't let them down them. Second, soul winners who knew who was really in charge would stop worrying about how many they got-- how many notches on their tatter. A preacher named Jim White preached a sermon, after telling a line of stupid jokes for 45 minutes, about how he wanted to whip every other Fundamentalist in town at "soul winning." What a waste to time, his and everyone else's. He will win just as many as Jesus gives Him to win, and no more. To make "soul winning" into a contest of game is the sport of fools. I suspect this guy is using some "soul reading," as we saw above, to get his numbers up.
"Soul winning" is NOT a bass fishing contest. The Lord of the harvest is Jesus Christ. Let us look full in His wonderful face, so that the things of earth will grow strangely dim, and we will then see the harvest he has given us.
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Stop wasting your time with "good godly folks." Go look for dirty greasy sinners. That is who Jesus is going to win, and if you want to take the harvest with him, you better find some down and out losers. So many dummies go to the nice part of town to go "soul winning." Waste of time groupies. Try some tax collectors an whores. They KNOW they are sinners. They are easy to make into sinners in their own eyes too.
Acts 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
So you want some credit for "going soul winning" do you? Well, to get the credit, you first must be sinless, then get yourself crucified, and then raise from the dead at your own power. Then you must go to heaven with your sinless blood and offer it to Jehovah God on the heavenly mercy seat. Just do that, and you can take the credit for "soul winning." Otherwise, bow your knee and humble yourself in gratitude that God has chosen us worthless sinners to do anything for Him. The birthing of a saint into eternal glory is NOT my job. My job is to preach Jesus everywhere I go, then give God the glory. You see, if you get the credit for the witnessing, then when they cuss and reject Christ, you have to take responsibility for that too. Oh, they didn't tell you that at the "soul winning seminar" in Dallas did they? Give God the glory, and the verdict can be believe or reject-- either way, you are God's, and it is up to Him to get the glory, which He will.
Pitch that stupid red book from Gothard, the posh padded book from D. James Kennedy, and chairman Hyles' little yellow book. Stuff some Gospel tracts into your pocket, ask God for souls, and go talk about Jesus every chance you get. That is the whole of the "soul winning program."
If you can get this into your head, you have it in a nutshell :-)
Do it !!!!!
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SEMINARS DESCRIBED IN USE OF COLD READING AND SALES: http://www.irowland.demon.co.uk/talksbus.htm#coldread
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HERE IS A SELF-PROCLAIMED PSYCHIC FAKE WHO CLIAMS TO DUPLICATE THE PSYCHICS: http://www.irowland.demon.co.uk/index.htm AND http://www.irowland.demon.co.uk/repert.htm