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Poll
Question:
Is GCx a Cult?
Yes - 12 (35.3%)
No, but cult-like - 11 (32.4%)
Seems to vary by location - 4 (11.8%)
No - 7 (20.6%)
Total Voters: 34

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Author Topic: Is GCx a Cult?  (Read 39519 times)
Badger
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« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2018, 02:27:08 pm »

Peace - if I understand your pain it is that of any member of a church group that would find out that other locations of their church group are abusing members.

You asked about the impression on this forum that most of the churches in this group are abusive. How can we know that if we are not there in person. I think that becomes clear when one reads testimonies on this forum that come from locations all over the country, all saying the same or similar things are happening in their church location.

As I stated to Badger, I don't feel this connection to the other locations that some of you may be assuming I have. I can't control what is going on at ECC any more than I can control the church down the street from my house. I just don't feel connected or responsible for it. Now, I would be heartbroken and would get involved if I heard my pastor or leader was saying or doing some of these things, but thank goodness that isn't the case. I stated in another post, if my local church left GCx tomorrow, I highly doubt anyone would shed a tear and I doubt much would change besides a handful of conferences throughout the year.





Peace, I'm just curious how you feel about your church supporting regional and national GCC from just a financial point of view.
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« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2018, 02:33:13 pm »

I don't view GCx as a bad or corrupt organization so I don't have a problem with it. Like I said, there are some logistical benefits to being part of a greater association like costs for putting on conferences, materials, shared resources, etc. I don't fall into the camp of having to agree with 100% of what an organization believes to give them money.
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« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2018, 03:31:50 pm »

I don't view GCx as a bad or corrupt organization so I don't have a problem with it. Like I said, there are some logistical benefits to being part of a greater association like costs for putting on conferences, materials, shared resources, etc. I don't fall into the camp of having to agree with 100% of what an organization believes to give them money.

I guess it depends on if said organization believes, says or does things that violate your conscience. When you read what others experience are you comfortable financially supporting an organization that treats many of its members in a harmful manner?
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Peace
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« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2018, 05:55:14 pm »

It doesn’t violate my conscience because I don’t see myself inherently tied to other GCx churches where I don’t know the people and I don’t know both sides to the story (which there are always at least two). Again, I am not discounting anyone’s account of what they have experienced at another GCx church, I am just being honest of how I view my involvement or support of these other churches.

It’s not a great comparison, but I still often buy goods or services from Starbucks, Goodwill, Walmart, other organizations who I believe have hurt or abused people, or I disagree with some of their core “doctrine.” I think all of us indirectly financially support organizations that have intentionally or unintentionally harmed people. Yes, I know the Church, the body of Christ, is supposed to be above this, above reproach. But that’s exactly why I have chosen to stay. I saw my local church go through a lot of hard and messy situations,, but I also got to see beautiful repentance, change and reconciliation. That’s my hope for many of the situations at other GCx churches and anything that might happen in my local church in the future. I’ve seen it happen. So I still have hope.
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2021, 06:02:18 pm »

I just started skimming though “The Heresy of Mind Control” by Stephen Martin.  I’m sure I’m behind the eight-ball on this.  I read he was a workshop leader at Wellspring.  Is he related to Paul Martin, the founder?  ‘Rebel in a Good Way’ or someone else probably already discussed this book on this site, but haven’t found it yet.  

The bottom of page 12 of is really thought-worthy.  It describes the heresy of practice, namely mind control.  Stating that how groups, churches, and leaders treat people is equaling important to having correct beliefs.  

Thought it would be helpful to others in examining McCotter’s practices since he seems to be attempting to create a following again, now on YouTube (according to some, in Florida) after his short run “leading” a group in Englewood, Colorado.  Perhaps people did their research and word got out in Colorado.  According to another resource, exit counselors were involved in helping some (it seems) from that group.


The E-Book is available at:  https://recognizeheresy.com/donate-for-the-e-book/


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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2021, 08:20:05 pm »

Found it. Linda introduced it just after this site got started under ‘List o Links’:

We recently received the latest Wellspring newsletter. It contained two links that might be of interest. The first is to a new movie that premiered at the L A Film Festival last June entitled "Join Us". It is about 4 families as they leave an abusive and controlling South Carolina church and find help at Wellspring.

The movie's web site is:
www.joinusthemovie.com

The second link is to an online book by Stephen Martin entitled, "The Heresy of Mind Control".

The link to the book is:
www.recognizeheresy.com


Maranatha just mentioned the "Join Us" web page.

I came across it a few month ago. It was mentioned in a Wellspring newsletter.

Another thing mentioned in that newsletter was the online book by Stephen Martin. I thought the book was very insightful and helpful.

See the links in my previous post above.
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Huldah
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« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2021, 08:39:01 pm »

Thanks for re-posting the link, Janet. Remember the recent thread on errors of major doctrine vs. errors of teaching and practice? It was very interesting to see that same topic addressed right in the introduction of The Heresy of Mind Control:

"Whereas unorthodox doctrine can be labeled as heresy of belief, this book will focus on heresy of practice."

I'm looking forward to reading the ebook. It looks promising.
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« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2021, 08:44:52 pm »

Yes, ma’am!  Couldn’t be more appropriate to that thread.  Totally agree.
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« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2021, 10:19:23 am »

Here is the website’s official description of the book.  It seems it has been updated as late as 2015.


The Heresy of Mind Control – Recognizing Con Artists, Tyrants, and Spiritual Abusers in Leadership
Copyright © 2007, 2009, 2012, 2015 by Stephen Martin

“Could you be deceived? Scams and con artists abound in our day. Deception can lead to entrapment, which leads to loss of independence and freedom, and this can lead to tyranny which we see in certain nations and in all terrorist groups. There is even tyranny – often subtle forms of it – in certain religious groups that appear to be good and harmless to those on the outside. And for those on the inside, it is not easy to just leave the group.

When a leader and a group fall into the patterns of mind control, they pose a serious danger to those without knowledge about its dynamics. This book declares the truth about this insidious process so that those exposed to it can regain and maintain their own freedom of mind and spirit.”


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« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2021, 05:32:30 am »

Unfortunately the link to the movie is no longer active.
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« Reply #30 on: April 19, 2021, 09:22:51 am »

Hi Margaret!  I found it on Amazon Prime Video with a link below.  


While I was looking I came across an article about it from the Los Angeles Times.  I extracted and emphasized an interesting portion below.  The link to this article follows.


"Unlike most documentaries that take place after the fact, Timoner’s film hurtles the viewer into the experience of leaving the group, accompanying members as they receive therapy at Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center (described as the only accredited residential “cult-victim treatment facility” in the U.S.) and following as they try to rebuild their lives.

What’s surprising about “Join Us” is that the subjects aren’t wearing orange robes or sporting uniforms. They look like a batch of blond-haired suburbanites as they roll up to the Ohio treatment center in two SUVs and a BMW.

“They looked just like me,” recalls Timoner, a lanky woman in jeans and a pink T-shirt emblazoned with two six-shooters. “Their compound was a suburban subdivision. Like [one of the characters] says in the beginning of the film, he assumes the church is the safest place. Or temple. Any place of worship. [But] if your leader is suddenly putting themselves in the position that ‘You can’t get to God unless through me,’ there’s a problem.”"


Link to Article:
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2007-jun-25-et-joinus25-story.html


Link to Movie:
https://letterboxd.com/film/join-us/


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« Reply #31 on: June 09, 2021, 08:26:57 pm »

If you are currently attending a church which is led by GCx Leaders you will want to be aware of unhealthy and abusive church practices to protect your well-being and your faith. Though these churches have split into different regions and often change their names, the leadership was most often discipled by a spiritually abusive founder or his “disciples”.  The following 2020 article from PROBE Ministries outlines characteristics you should be alerted to. This article describes what many of us were once under in our GCx Churches:


What characterizes abusive churches is their cultic method of ministry. Although outwardly orthodox in their theology, these churches use abusive and mind control methods to get their followers to submit to the organization. In this article Dr. Pat Zukeran covers eight characteristics of abusive churches.

We are all familiar with traditional cults such as the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are, however, other groups with cultic characteristics that do not fit the same profile as the traditional cults. Sometimes called “abusive churches” or even “Bible-based cults,” they appear outwardly orthodox in their doctrinal beliefs. What distinguishes these groups or churches from genuine orthodox Christianity is their abusive, cultic-like methodology and philosophy of ministry. ...

First, abusive churches have a control-oriented style of leadership. Second, the leaders of such churches often use manipulation to gain complete submission from their members. Third, there is a rigid, legalistic lifestyle involving numerous requirements and minute details for daily life. Fourth, these churches tend to change their names often, especially once they are exposed by the media. Fifth, denouncing other churches is common because they see themselves as superior to all other churches. Sixth, these churches have a persecution complex and view themselves as being persecuted by the world, the media, and other Christian churches. Seventh, abusive churches specifically target young adults between eighteen and twenty-five years of age. The eighth and final mark of abusive churches is the great difficulty members have in getting out of or leaving these churches, a process often marked by social, psychological, or emotional pain.



From Probe Ministries Full Article:

https://probe.org/abusive-churches/


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« Reply #32 on: June 10, 2021, 07:47:45 pm »


What is the Health Status of Your Church?


The Health Status of your church is not determined by what the online advertisement says or what the leaders say about it. It is about what they actually do including how they speak to their people. It very much includes implied expectations as well as publically spoken ones. It addresses who is exulted there. It deals with the candor of it’s members. Are their responses canned or genuine? Do they pretend to be super-spiritual? (There is only One who truly is.) Do they seem to follow the leader’s or The LORD’s individual path for them?

Anyhow, here are some other excerpts from the above referenced article in “PROBE for Answers”. Sadly, many of these dangers were true for too many of us in GCx Churches.


Those involved in a church that seems to reflect these characteristics would be wise to evaluate the situation thoroughly and leave the church if it is appropriate. Staying may increase the risks of damaging your family relationships and multiplies the likelihood of losing your perspective. Members of such churches often develop a distorted view of reality, distrust everyone, and suffer from stress, fear, and depression. Some former members even continue to experience these things after escaping from an abusing church. ...

Some of these groups have networks of many sister churches. ...  Such groups often disguise themselves by frequently changing the name of their organization, especially following adverse publicity. This practice makes the true nature of these organizations more difficult to determine for the unsuspecting individual. Some abusive churches have college ministries all across the country. On some university campuses such student movements are among the largest groups on their respective campuses


Changing an organization’s name numerous times
does not mean abusive practices have been
rooted out.



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« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2021, 08:18:12 am »

I know this topic has been discussed for a number of years here, and when I voted, it was interesting to see the results. I do think that what I experienced was effectively the experience one has in a cult. Many on this forum are still believers, so the analysis of the GCM’s doctrine and teachings is the place you want to begin. If you have kept your foundational faith, this analysis is essential to processing what you experienced, both good and bad.

After I left, and was then kicked out, I had no roots and no real home, and I avoided Christians for a long time. All I experienced in that group was judgement and criticism, especially from my husband and the elders. That brings me right to the question. The most egregious feature of this group was a denial of the priesthood of the believer. In  GCM as I experienced it, before it had a name, the elders, who were men in their 20s, decided where we could live and with whom, whether to go to school and what major you’d pursue, what jobs we could take, whether and whom we married, and even down to daily micromanagement.

Given all that, it just seems reasonable to say it was a cult. That was my experience, but because the earlier churches’ had some degree of autonomy, a lot of you may have had different experiences, and happier ones, so you would be likely to have grabbed an entirely different part of the elephant. I really do I hope so. On this forum, I see an open kindness, good will, and gentleness that is much more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus. Even though I’m no longer a Christian, I still believe what I did when I was 12 years old. If we loved our neighbors as ourselves, a better world would be possible.
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« Reply #34 on: July 12, 2021, 08:57:12 pm »


The most egregious feature of this group was a denial of the priesthood of the believer. In  GCM as I experienced it, before it had a name, the elders, who were men in their 20s, decided where we could live and with whom, whether to go to school and what major you’d pursue, what jobs we could take, whether and whom we married, and even down to daily micromanagement.
- swampwitch



Swampwitch, thank you very much for your input on this topic. It still remains a very valuable question in that there are still a portion of GCx Churches remaining. It is a question those members should ask themselves; and examine the practices and teachings according to experts in the field, especially those that are believers. God’s Word does say to be more noble minded by comparing what they are teaching to his word. I heartily agree with you that GCx has cult-like practices. It’s ways were definitely toxic to one’s faith.

I am sorry for how you were treated, and rejected there. I will add more tomorrow. Right now, it’s hard to keep my eyes open.  

By the way, the administrator of this site did report that the “polling” feature does not work properly. So, the numbers we see are not an accurate representation of those attempting to vote.


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« Reply #35 on: July 16, 2021, 06:34:50 pm »

In  GCM as I experienced it, before it had a name, the elders, who were men in their 20s, decided where we could live and with whom, whether to go to school and what major you’d pursue, what jobs we could take, whether and whom we married, and even down to daily micromanagement.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Swampwitch. This describes my own experience, as well. Even when they didn't actually issue specific orders, the milieu of the church was such that you just sort of knew what kind of decisions were expected of you. I'm still surprised that I could be taken in by such false authority.
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« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2021, 05:39:03 pm »

When I explain the 'church movement' that we were a part of, I say that on paper, I think their doctrine was on point. In practice however, I think they were very cult-like.
I described it to a co-worker a couple weeks ago, and she was horrified, and could only respond with, "I'm so sorry that happened to you."
I think I'm finally getting to the point where I can put it into words that can be understood by an outsider.
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« Reply #37 on: September 06, 2021, 07:30:52 pm »


Is GCx a Cult?

A Former Member and Cult Expert Answers




A man who intensively studied that question at length addresses it in his description of the the GCx Church Organization (he refers to it as the “The Blitz”) he was involved in and the leadership he was under. The key elements he highlights are methods of manipulation and thought reform using outright deception. Many people tend to visualize manipulation of thought to involve chanting and obvious repetition of outlandish ideas while sitting crossed legged on the floor, but Martin explains how this “false teaching” can even enter into some “Evangelical Christian” groups right under our noses.

Here are some excerpts from the Preface of his book, “Cult Proofing Your Kids.” I have highlighted some words or phrases as it relates to the critical question.


By "cultism" here I refer not only to doctrinal problems but behavior ones as well. I will examine the tendencies in some groups to "use extreme and unethical techniques of manipulation to recruit and assimilate members and to control members' thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as means of furthering the leader's goals." And when I use the term "evangelical," I refer to the acceptance of various historic Christian doctrines, such as the full authority of the Bible, the triune nature of God, justification by faith alone and not by works, and the necessity for personal spiritual conversion.

... I was not prepared for the dangers of legalism within evangelical ranks. To me, legalism meant all the "don'ts" ― negative rules about the use of make-up, about dancing, going to movies, swimming on Sundays, dating, and other trivial things. Little did I know there could be a legalism of "do's" ― do read the Bible, share your faith daily, make disciples of others, study the Word, and constantly pray. As good as these things are in themselves, when placed in a context of duty and obligation with the resulting guilt from nonperformance, the "do" version of legalism can be just as deadly as the "don't." One simply never knows how much is enough.

... No one ever told me that there may be potential dangers where faith commitment is concerned. No one ever warned me of the subtleties of influence factors, and the tremendously powerful techniques used in thought reform. ...

... We must see the cult problem within the context of the re-emergence of totalitarianism. Such totalism (the attempt of an autocratic leader or hierarchy to control all aspects of people's lives) is utterly insensitive to boundaries in religion, and this includes the boundaries in evangelical Christianity.

- Paul Martin, “Cult Proofing Your Kids”




From the Web Library on this Site:

http://gcxweb.org/Books/CultProofingYourKids.aspx





To Be Continued . . .


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« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2021, 09:01:19 pm »


Is GCx a Cult?

A Former Member and Cult Expert Answers - Part 2



Paul Martin offers descriptions from the experts for what defines a cult; and proposes qualifying questions employing these definitions to clarify if a group is a cult. I have again made bold the author’s words or phrases to highlight critical information related to this topic thread. These are excerpts only. For the full chapter see the link below.



Chapter 1:  What Is A Cult?


... a strictly theological definition of the word cult is not enough. There also needs to be a psychological definition. Ronald Enroth points out that Christians have neglected the psychological aberrations of cults, and he quotes a concerned Christian layman who said, “I think there is merit for placing more stress on the other danger zones created by cults, such as psychological and moral injury, disruption of family ties, impairment of scholastic and professional careers.”

... cults can include groups and organizations that typically are not viewed as cults. These could be fringe churches, psychotherapy groups, New Age organizations, and various extremist political movements.


Aberrant Christian Groups

Some would argue that they are fundamental and evangelical, but these groups deviate by way of practice and belief from the standards of evangelical Protestant Christianity. ... This category includes ... the Boston Church of Christ, Maranatha Christian Ministries, and Great Commission International.


Evaluating A Group

If you want to find whether a certain group is a cult, ask yourself three questions.

First does this group deviate from orthodox Christianity; that is, are they cultic in the doctrinal sense?


Second, does the group practice such things as coercion, that is, are they cultic in the psychological sense?

Third, do they believe strange or esoteric things or engage in unusual or bizarre practices; that is, are they cultic in that they deviate from the socially accepted norms?

If the answer to any of the three questions is yes, the chances are you are dealing with a cult.*




*Excerpted from my copy of “Cult Proofing Your Kids” by Dr. Paul R. Martin (1993)




Link to Book:

https://www.google.com/search?q=cult+proofing+your+kidsby+paul+Martin&rlz=1C9BKJA_enUS741US741&oq=cult+proofing+your+kidsby+paul+Martin&aqs=chrome..69i57.18029j0j4&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8



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« Reply #39 on: September 08, 2021, 09:11:50 pm »


Is GCx a Cult?

A Former Member and Cult Experts Answer - Part 3



“Cult Proofing Your Kids” is a very well resourced book about cults. Chapter 2, Fringe Churches, relies heavily on an author who has substantially researched and reported on cults. Paul Martin makes great use of these books by Ronald Enroth: “Youth, Brainwashing and the Extremist Cults” (1977), “What is a Cult?” (1982), “The Lure of the Cults” (1987); and these publications: “Voices from the Fringe” Moody Monthly (October 1989), “Churches on the Fringe” Eternity (October 1986), “Churches That Abuse” (1992). For further reading find links to Enroth’s books at the bottom. Especially pertinent words, phrases, or sections excerpted from Chapter 2 are highlighted in bold.

It is important to note that many of the characteristics compiled and clarified in Paul Martin’s book published in 1993 were still practiced in GCx Churches until as late as 2019 according to the testimony of former members reporting on this site. Though it’s National Board disbanded in 2020, a number of these churches still remain; under the same leadership, but in nearly all cases -a new name.



Chapter 2:  Fringe Churches


... Because our definition of cults includes those groups that psychologically manipulate their members, there are some theologically orthodox churches that may actually be cultlike in their practices. ...

CHARACTERISTICS OF FRINGE CHURCHES

Ronald Enroth, ... author of Churches That Abuse, has written extensively on the fringe group problem. These “fringe” churches are generally orthodox in terms of doctrine, but they possess other characteristics that set them apart from mainstream evangelicalism, including:

1.  Control-oriented leadership. A great emphasis is placed on submission and obedience to group authority.

2.  Spiritual elitism. A “we” vs. “they” mentality. These groups view themselves as either the only “true Christians,” or as the only ones who really have the current “vision.”

3.  Manipulation of Members (environmentally and informationally). Members are frequently told where to live or work, who to date, what to read ...

4.  ”Siege mentality” and perceived persecution. Any criticism is viewed as “persecution” —others seem to be out to get them.
...

7.  Denunciation of other churches. Those outside are viewed as “lukewarm,” not “spirit-filled,” “dead,” lacking vision or dedication, and lost.

8.  Suppression of dissent. Criticism is viewed as faction, slander, rebelliousness, and evidence that one is lacking a teachable spirit.

9.  Harsh discipline of members. Those who question teachings or practices of the group are often shunned and their reputations ruined by public exposure of their “sin.”

10.  Painful exit process. Target members may be cut off without warning—this may include loss of financial support if employment is within the group; formerly close friends will break all ties.



Books by Enroth:

https://www.google.com/search?gs_ssp=eJzj4tTP1TdIsqg0TjJg9OItys9LzElRSM0ryi_JAABn8ghv&q=ronald+enroth&rlz=1C9BKJA_enUS741US741&oq=ronald+enroth&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j46i512l2j0i22i30.5904j0j7&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#wptab=s:H4sIAAAAAAAAAONgVuLUz9U3SLKoNE56xGjCLfDyxz1hKe1Ja05eY1Tl4grOyC93zSvJLKkUEudig7J4pbi5ELp4djGppaSmJZbmlMSXJCZZZSdb6Sfl52frJ5aWZOQXWYHYxQr5eTmVi1iFg_LzEnNSFFzzivJLMhTAUgCztRTNgwAAAA


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