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Jane
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« on: April 30, 2017, 10:08:44 am »

Does anyone know about the Bible Churches that are associated with John McArthur?  We are going to one and I am starting to get nervous about it.
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Huldah
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2017, 06:28:47 am »

I've never attended his church. I used to listen to him frequently on the radio, and he always seemed like a good Bible scholar and usually quite sound in his doctrine. But I have no idea what the culture of his church is like, or whether he has become more hardline in recent years.

If you don't mind my asking, what in particular is making you uneasy?
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Jane
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2017, 07:10:43 am »

They keep asking us to join the church. When you join the church, you pledge to submit to the authority of the pastors and elders. They practice church dicipline according to Matthew 18. Now they are mentioning admonishment and accountability, a lot.
In my small group, we were discussing what is the purpose of a church and a few peeople said submission to elders.
I went to a woman's study and the pastor's wife was teaching on Titus 2:3-8. She emphasized two phrases "teaching what is good" and encourage younger women.  Encourage younger woman, she emphasized the New King James version which is the word admonish. The example she gave for admonishing were silly. With teaching what is good, she said you must teach biblical truth, and of course not everyone has biblical truth, but they do. But I did not agree with her biblical truth that day.
Now the pastor and his wife want to talk to us.  I haven't been able to sleep and am anxious. I want to find another church but my husband wants to talk to them.

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Ned_Flanders
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2017, 07:30:21 am »

They keep asking us to join the church. When you join the church, you pledge to submit to the authority of the pastors and elders. They practice church dicipline according to Matthew 18. Now they are mentioning admonishment and accountability, a lot.
In my small group, we were discussing what is the purpose of a church and a few peeople said submission to elders.
I went to a woman's study and the pastor's wife was teaching on Titus 2:3-8. She emphasized two phrases "teaching what is good" and encourage younger women.  Encourage younger woman, she emphasized the New King James version which is the word admonish. The example she gave for admonishing were silly. With teaching what is good, she said you must teach biblical truth, and of course not everyone has biblical truth, but they do. But I did not agree with her biblical truth that day.
Now the pastor and his wife want to talk to us.  I haven't been able to sleep and am anxious. I want to find another church but my husband wants to talk to them.

Hi Jane,
What would a healthy Church look like for you?  In other words, what are you looking for in whatever Church you join?  

Before we found our Church, my family and I visited a couple of different places.  One place was an Independent Baptist Church (IBC), which I could immediately see was very legalistic.  I did some research and found out they were very big on things like you could not do anything (buy stuff, take a vacation, etc) before paying your tithes.  And if you didn't have enough money left over afterwards, that's your problem.  I also noticed in this Church that all of the women wore dresses.  I believe that if a woman wants to wear a dress, that's fine but she shouldn't be shamed into doing so.  And while that Church was an overwhelmingly White fellowship, of the few African-Americans we saw there, none of them were in leadership positions.  As I recall, the leadership looked very much like Trump's cabinet.  Long story short, we went there a couple of times and left.  

My recommendation is to look for a place that preaches the Word of God; believes in freedom in Christ and accepts you for who you are.  A place where you can have a mind of your own.  A place that isn't sexist, racist, shame-based or politically one-sided like GCx was and, based on what I've read from people's posts here, still is.  Figure out what it is you're looking for and use that as your guide.  God Bless.  
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 07:49:52 am by Ned_Flanders » Logged
Huldah
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2017, 09:50:06 am »

Jane, pressure to join up sounds like a red flag to me.

Also: "what is the purpose of a church and a few peeople said submission to elders." Did the study leaders correct this answer, or did they let it stand? Because that is NOT the purpose of the church! The purpose of the church is to love, serve, and glorify the Lord, to help and encourage other believers, and to reach the lost. Any church that puts the elders in the place of Christ is committing idolatry.

One thing I've learned since my involvement with GC, and partly because of GC, is to trust my gut. Very often, our gut feelings are way ahead of our intellect when it comes to detecting threats. Of course, GC and its like will tell you, "Emotions are unreliable! Trust God's word instead!" But that's a false dichotomy. God gave us intuition for a reason. As long as our intuition doesn't lead us to reject or ignore God's word (which says nothing about formal church membership, by the way), then we should pay close attention whenever a church seems "off".


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Huldah
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2017, 09:56:36 am »

One other thought: I realize it's a delicate situation when one spouse is interested in a church and the other wants nothing to do with it. I would only caution you, and your husband, that it's far easier in the long run to stay out of a questionable church in the first place than to get out after you've become part of it.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 10:08:28 am by Huldah » Logged
Linda
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2017, 02:46:55 pm »

What you describe sounds like a "membership covenant" to me. These are very trendy in some of the more authoritarian churches.

Basically, you can't leave unless the pastors/elders say you can. They will come after you if you try to leave without their permission.

I would never, ever sign one.

A couple years ago there was a big issue over a membership covenant signed by a woman at The Village Church (Matt Chandler is the pastor. He's kind of a big shot in certain circles.)

A missionary was caught with child porn. He and his wife came back from the mission field. The couple attended The Village Church. The wife filed for divorce and withdrew her membership from the church. The church put the wife under discipline, but not the husband. They refused to let her leave because she had signed a membership covenant. They sent an e-mail to the 5,000 or so members telling them that the wife was being disciplined for not meeting with them, but not the husband who had a child porn habit that had been going on for many years.

It was all settled when Matt Chandler met with her and apologized for sending the letter and agreed to "let her leave".

Here is a link to more information on membership covenants.

http://thewartburgwatch.com/?s=membership+covenant&x=0&y=0


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Jane
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2017, 05:50:14 pm »

I just want a normal church I can go to every Sunday and worship the Lord. All this talk of submission and authority doesn't sit well with me after GC. My gut feeling tells me to run. 
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Huldah
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2017, 07:20:41 pm »

So this church isn't the real problem, per se, because you already know it's all wrong for you. The real problem is that your husband isn't seeing what you're seeing, and you feel like he may end up putting you both at risk of going down a destructive spiritual path. Am I understanding you correctly?
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 07:23:25 pm by Huldah » Logged
Jane
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2017, 07:54:46 pm »

Yes, I think that sums it up.
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Huldah
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2017, 08:24:07 pm »

Would your marriage be at risk if you told your husband, "I already know this church isn't for me. I won't be joining, I won't be going back, and I won't be talking to the pastor."? Nicely, of course. Not in a mean or confrontational way, but from the heart.

I realize that's a very personal question and maybe you'd rather not answer in public. If so, then perhaps it's one you could still answer for yourself.

In light of "wives submit yourselves to your husbands," I understand that some people would have a huge problem with you taking that stand. If you're one of them, then perhaps someone else here will have a better answer for you. (I don't mean to encourage you to do anything that's against your conscience or your best interests.) But as I understand Scripture, wives are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord. The Lord wouldn't ask you to give your allegiance to wolves; wolves are the very people we are ordered to avoid.

Just my two cents, and I know that not everyone will agree.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 08:50:23 pm by Huldah » Logged
Jane
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2017, 10:03:18 am »

I already told him, "this church is not for me and I am never joining."  Even though he does not agree with them on many issues he still wants to stay and talk to them. I don't think this will end well. Since we disagree on so many issues, I think eventually we wil become the problem. They will look at us as factous or contentious and I am afraid they will reprove us. They say it doesn't matter if you are a member or not, they can still use church discipline if you attend regularly.
Just the thought of talking to them, sends me into a panic. I think it's just a throwback from bad experiences in GC. My husband had a very bad experience in GC when three elders reproved him for almost three hours, finally breaking him down mentally. I even told him, " I can't believe we are in this situation after all we went through in The Church." 
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Huldah
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2017, 03:31:06 pm »

I can only imagine the panic you must be feeling right now. You aren't even a member, and yet you're losing sleep over these people!

I can't tell you what to do, of course. I can only say that, with decades under my belt of dealing with toxic people, both in and out of church, I've found that sometimes it's best to simply refuse to engage with them. Ever.

I'm married to a wonderful man. It pleases me more than I can say when we're on the same page about important issues, and it distresses me when we're not. But I would not follow my wonderful husband into an abusive evangelical church any more than I'd follow him into Mormonism or Scientology. A wolf is a wolf whether he quotes Scriptures or L. Ron Hubbard.

I hope others here will also have some words of wisdom or encouragement for you.
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Ned_Flanders
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2017, 09:53:38 am »

I already told him, "this church is not for me and I am never joining."  Even though he does not agree with them on many issues he still wants to stay and talk to them. I don't think this will end well. Since we disagree on so many issues, I think eventually we wil become the problem. They will look at us as factous or contentious and I am afraid they will reprove us. They say it doesn't matter if you are a member or not, they can still use church discipline if you attend regularly.
Just the thought of talking to them, sends me into a panic. I think it's just a throwback from bad experiences in GC. My husband had a very bad experience in GC when three elders reproved him for almost three hours, finally breaking him down mentally. I even told him, " I can't believe we are in this situation after all we went through in The Church."  

Jane,
Are you familiar with the counseling ministry New Life? I recommend you contact them because they have resources to help you with biblical submission and recovery from spiritual abuse.  

http://newlife.com/
« Last Edit: May 05, 2017, 05:49:57 am by Ned_Flanders » Logged
Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2017, 11:03:09 am »

Hi Jane !

I would guess we crossed paths since you were in Maryland in 80-82.  So GOOD to read a post from someone I might have known.  I personally think you would be following the Holy Spirit over your husband in your case of choosing not to attend a church that scares you.  I have found you have to be true to the Holy Spirit over all men including our own husbands.  They are not perfect, and certainly not God.  You have to be FREE to speak your mind with His divine help.  He can certainly lead us to be respectfully different!  

GCx did not encourage or tolerate women to have personal "leadings" from the Lord when it was different from their husbands.  Husbands were not encouraged to really trust or listen to what God might be saying to or through their wives.  Abigail (from the Bible) had this problem.  They were indeed sadly suppressed.  For that matter, even men in GCx were suppressed by strong persuasion and intimidation from speaking from the Holy Spirit to the leaders in the church.  The team of husband and wife was quite unhealthy and it seems, as a result, wives often became depressed (as we have often heard from testimony on this site).  [I even remember a brother in GCx telling me a wife should be submissive even if she is being abused (I believe he spoke from what he had been taught there).]  In general, the body of Christ in GCx was terribly crippled with only a few parts allowed to speak up, and others "smacked down" (so to speak).

It sounds like some of these same unhealthy, unbalanced and unbiblical elements are in play here at the "new" church you are questioning.  You have very valid concerns.  I have included a link to a great resource on this very matter.  Perhaps your husband may be interested in looking into it.  It doesn't matter how famous or well-known a pastor is, if he is violating or mandating personal choices and private space between you and your God, he is NOT to be leading God's people.  Don't follow him.  


This very helpful article by CBN can be found on this site under:

General Discussion, "Is GCx Good For My Faith?", "More From CBN on Signs of Spiritual Abuse",  Reply #2





« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 08:05:01 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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Jane
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« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2017, 07:46:03 am »

Did you know Kim?
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Jane
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« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2017, 07:47:39 am »

Janet, did you know Kim ?
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2017, 06:48:56 am »

Hi Jane.  Since I hopefully haven't mentioned any names of people I knew in GCx because most of them wish to remain anonymous, I'll private message you back.  

The name that needs to be public and with much denouncing is Jim (James D.) McCotter.  He is the bitter ROOT of this very sick "church" that needs EXPOSING.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2017, 07:28:50 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
XianJaneway
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« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2017, 08:38:57 pm »

Yes, this is actually a rehash of the shepherding movement, and MacArthur churches are chock full of it.

Someone mentioned "The Wartburg Watch," and that's one of the best blogs for documenting the abuses that come out of churches that embrace the "9 Marks" theology, along with hardcore Calvinism, and "church covenants." Go read them. <3

Those covenants are basically LEGAL DOCUMENTS that protect the church, but they don't tell people that. Sad TRUST YOUR GUT. <3
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Huldah
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« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2023, 02:01:32 pm »

Jane, I don't know whether you ever check back on this thread or not, but I've often thought about what you wrote here. Your posts stuck with me because of the cognitive dissonance I felt when I read them. It was hard to come to terms with the idea that a Bible teacher I had so highly respected, literally for decades, was involved any form of spiritual bullying. Not that I doubted anything you wrote, but simply that it was all so new and unexpected.

In the time since you first posted about John MacArthur, there have been reports of various questionable incidents at his church. I won't go into details here, since the information is easy to find online. As much as I wish it weren't true, MacArthur and Grace Community Church appear to have taken their authority too far, especially where women and children are concerned. I've even looked for the other side of the story, for any information that would show that the accusations are unfounded, but so far, I haven't found anything.

I still consider John MacArthur to be an excellent Bible teacher in many respects. Some of his books and sermons have been a huge blessing to me. All the same, I personally wouldn't be able to attend a church associated with him. I recognize that every believer has flaws, even serious flaws, and I can no more expect perfection from a pastor than I can expect it from myself. It's just that there are some flaws that can't be overlooked, namely those that put the physical safety of vulnerable church members at risk.

I hope you and your husband managed to find a good church where you both feel at home.
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