The 19th Century: The Spawning Ground of the Cults and the Occult

By Dr. Robert A. Morey

While secular humanism claims that history manifests only chaos, the bible teaches that history manifests order. Thus if you look closely at history, you will find that things do not happen willy nilly. There is always a reason why things happens. 

Why was the 19th century the spawning ground of the cults and the occult? To answer this question we must understand what influenced people at that time to leave Christianity and to embrace cultic and occultic teachings. 

As we do this, we will discover that the rise of the cults and the occult did not happen in a vacuum but in the midst of a mega-shift in western culture. 

A mega-shift takes place when a culture is radically altered by new advances in economics, politics, religion, information, war, etc.  The mega-shifts which took place in the 19th century created a situation which was conducive to the rise of the cults and the occult. 

The rise of the cults and the occult also happened because the Christian Church was not aware that mega-shifts were taking place in western culture.  Because the Church was not aware of the mega-shifts taking place all around it, it lost millions of people to the cults and the occult. 

  1. The industrial revolution was a mega-shift. The population centers moved from the farm to the city as society moved from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. The population mega-shift created the cheap labor force needed for the factories.
  2. This mega-shift was disastrous for the local church because people moved either to the big cities or they emigrated to North America. They no longer had the traditional ties to their local church.
  3. Because of the new economic base, the small farm was no longer needed. The new vast “single product” farms created famines which forced mass migrations from Europe to North America. Famines in Ireland, Italy, Germany, etc. , forced millions of people to emigrate.
  4. There was a mega-shift in philosophy and religion. The bible, Christianity, and religion in general came under fierce attack by secular thinkers . Religious liberalism joined secular scholars in attacking the bible. Christianity was discredited in most universities.
  5. There was a mega-shift in information technology. With the invention of the telegraph and the daily newspaper, news began to travel quickly from country to country.
  6. A mega-shift took place when the steam engine was invented. Not only did steam run the new factories but millions of people could now emigrate to America on huge steamships.
  7. There was a mega-shift in politics as the reign of kings came to an end and democracies began to flourish. Freedom of religion was allowed in many countries for the first time.
  8. There was a mega-shift in which the industrial/military complex introduced new weapons of mass destruction. The 19th century had more wars and battles than any century preceding it. Reports of these battles were in the newspapers daily. The end time “wars and rumors of war” seem to be fulfilled.
  9. On Nov. 13, 1833 a spectacular meteor shower hit the earth. On that one night over 200,000 brilliant shooting stars lit up the sky. People thought that these were “signs in the sky.”
  10. The dust from the eruptions of large volcanoes in 1815 and 1883 darkened daylight and turned the moon blood red . People began to think that these were definitely “signs in the sky.”
  11.  The “end of the world” became a popular topic . Date setting became the rage in religious circles .
  12. False prophets stepped into this situation with the claim that they alone knew the exact date for the end of the world and how best to prepare for it.
  13. The mega-shift in information technology meant that for the first time a false prophet could cheaply print and distribute magazines and books.
  14. The mega-shift in politics created the necessary freedom of religion which allowed false prophets to spread their teachings worldwide.
  15. The mega-shift in population centers gave them a “Churchless” audience.
  16. The grinding poverty, the abysmal  ignorance, the savage wars, the relentless crime, the filthy slums, the brutal factories, etc. , made it appear that things could not get any worse. The end is near!

The rise of the cults and the occult in 19th century was due to the mega-shifts and the natural phenomenon which together created a perfect climate for false prophets to win converts . 
Whether we like it or not, a mega-shift is taking place in our culture today. Will the Christian Church arise to the occasion and deal with the issues raised by this new mega-shift? 

The timeline of 19th century false prophets
1763 Thomas Campbell (1763-1854)
  1772 Charles Fourier (1772-1837)
    1782 William Miller (1782-1848)
     1788 Alexander Campbell (1888-1866)
       1801 Brigham Young (1801-1877)
         1802 Phineas Quimby (1802-1866)
           1805 Joseph Smith  (1805-1844)
           1805 John Thomas  (1805-1871) 
              1809 Albert Pike (1809-1891)
  1819 Mirza Ali Muhammad (1819-1850)
     1821 Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910)
       1827 Ellen G. White (1827-1915)
          1831 Madame Blavatsky (1831-1891)
            1836 Margaret Fox 
              1839 Kate Fox
                1845 Myrtle Fillmore (1845-1931)
                  1852 Charles T. Russell (1852-1916)
      1854 Charles Fillmore (1852-1948)
                      1877  Edgar Cayce (1877-1945)