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Question:
Is GCx a Cult?
Yes - 12 (36.4%)
No, but cult-like - 11 (33.3%)
Seems to vary by location - 4 (12.1%)
No - 6 (18.2%)
Total Voters: 33

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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2021, 06:40:11 pm »


Is GCx a Cult?

A Former Member and Cult Experts Answer - Part 4



The remainder of Chapter 2 is an overview of 12 different well-known “Fringe Churches” who could be considered Christian but, deviate in conduct and activity. Dr. Paul Martin, in his 1993 book, also says they at Wellspring “received letters and phone calls constantly from concerned parents all over the country describing some new fringe churches in which their children have become involved.” He also highlights at that time Ron Enroth heard about new “fringe” churches on a weekly basis. The dozen Fringe Churches he outlines “have been accused by numerous former members and outside observers of manipulative techniques and authoritarian control.”

Though this is a significant portion to excerpt, I feel the information is vital to those reading here. It follows two years after GCx was called out publically as an abusive church organization by Ron Enroth in his book, “Churches That Abuse.” So, it is has been validated by an expert who was not a former member. I heard the National Evangelical Association also had thick stacks of files of complaints they received against GCx. Perhaps they along with Enroth were bamboozled into accepting that GCx had sincerely and heartily repented. This site contains testimony up until 2019 of many similar accounts of the very same conduct and activity they practiced in their earlier years. Not to mention that their “Statement of Error” (released on the heels of the first book that would expose them) was never made too public. Few received it. Some leaders even hid it from those inquiring.

After some excerpts I have added my comments in magenta to reflect more current history from this site of documented spiritually abusive experiences in GCx. See the links at the bottom to read more.

GCx was tenth on the “Cult Proofing Your Kids” Fringe Churches’ list. Below in black Garamond is Paul Martin’s text from the book.



Great Commission Association of Churches (formerly known as Great Commission International and originally called “The Blitz Movement”)

... When I was a member of GCI during the 1970’s, our leaders maintained that no other group had this same “vision,” and critics were expelled for questioning or challenging this vision of leadership. GCI was highly authoritarian, and demanded strict commitment from all followers.

When I was a member in the 80’s this still was the message and outcasting was practiced, though more through shunning.

Many ex-members have faced long years of therapy trying to recover from their experience in this group.

I, myself, required intensive therapy soon after I left in the very early 90’s, and most that I ran into also sought and received therapy to recover after they left.

Some have attempted suicide. Still others, some ten years later, sustained such psychological damage that they have been unable to get on with their lives, often taking jobs well below their educational and intellectual qualifications.

Some encouraging reforms have occurred in recent years after the founder, Jim McCotter, left the movement in the late 1980’s. However, the current leadership has not yet revoked the excommunication of its earlier critics. The admissions of error so far have been mainly confined to a position paper, the circulation of which has been questioned by many ex-members. Furthermore, Great Commission leaders have not yet contacted a number of former members who feel wronged and who have personally sought reconciliation.

Atleast one excommunication was “retracted” perhaps before GCx sought membership in NEA. Some have actually been contacted to retract criticism or remove statements of explanation (online) as to why they left when they were slandered by their local GCx leaders. Family members were contacted to try divide children from parents. Some were contacted but claimed it was insincere rhetoric. Seeking the good of the group’s reputation often seemed to remain the priority over the good of the member.

There has been some positive movement in that direction, but most ex-members that I have talked to are not fully satisfied with the reforms or apologies and feel that the issues of deep personal hurt and offense have not been adequately addressed.




Links to some Excerpted Ex-Members Experiences From this Site:

http://forum.gcmwarning.com/general-discussion/psychological-enslavement-to-lords-in-gcx-churches/

http://forum.gcmwarning.com/general-discussion/a-great-wounding-of-gods-people-in-gcx-churches/

http://forum.gcmwarning.com/jim-mccotter-gc-history/colliding-with-deceptive-and-abusive-leadership-in-gcx-churches/

http://forum.gcmwarning.com/jim-mccotter-gc-history/deception-denial-among-gcx-leaders/


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« Reply #41 on: September 28, 2022, 09:10:39 pm »


Very helpful video. Wish I had seen or heard these thought-provoking questions back when I was getting sucked into GCx’s captivy.



You Might be in a Cult - Avoiding Cult Thought  (2:24 min)

https://youtu.be/B_fDxj2Rj3k


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« Reply #42 on: February 04, 2023, 10:01:24 pm »


Reading about the controlling characteristics of another strange religious group makes it all the more creepy that GCx and it’s continuing culture stoops to the aberrant measures it does. These oppressive means in no way follow the Christ-like and respecting control of the Holy Spirit. If you read the abbreviated excerpt below, it almost sounds like GCx (Bold emphasis & italics mine):


He claimed to have heard from God, who supposedly told him, “I will teach you the Word as it has not been known since the first century if you will teach it to others.” This implies that, up until _________ revelation from God, believers throughout the centuries have not known the true meaning of God’s Word. This is another sign of a cult—only the founder and his followers have the truth and everyone else is wrong. Such a statement denies Jesus’ words in John 16:13, when He told His followers that the Holy Spirit would come and lead them into all the truth. ...

Various chilling accounts written by former members of ___________ describe brainwashing, manipulation and control of followers... Like many cults, __________ marks those who appear not to agree with the cult or who fail to obey unquestioningly and purges them. Those who are purged are avoided and escorted off ___________ campuses and utterly ignored, even by longtime friends.

Also as in many cults, the followers of __________ are lured into the group by the friendliness and acceptance they experience upon meeting __________ members. This is simply a marketing technique used by _____________ to gather followers, not genuine friendship. ...*



Perhaps when you’re propagating enough lies, you have to ruthlessly guard what comes in and what goes out so that you won’t be caught; and the main biblically unsupported premise for its existence crumbles. Public relations becomes one of its main tasks.

Anyhow, the group referred to above is The Way International. The author of the piece I read says, “The Way International promotes the two beliefs that are consistent with every Christian cult—they deny the deity of Jesus Christ and they believe in works righteousness...” The founder of this group later wrote a book called Jesus Is Not God.


*From:
https://www.gotquestions.org/The-Way-International.html




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« Reply #43 on: March 10, 2023, 09:00:04 am »


A Spiritual Recovery Ministry
Defines Abuse and Cult


This is an article worth reading as it provides some fresh perspective into the terrible problem of spiritual abuse. (This particular ministry, Barnabas Ministry, is different from the plural one, Barnabas Ministries which is for pastors.) Here is description from their website from which the excerpts below were taken.


The Barnabas Ministry was started in 1999 with the idea of helping those involved in a particular church movement. Over time, it has become a resource used by people around the country and the world from many different churches to understand and recover from negative church and spiritual experiences. This is the primary goal of the Barnabas Ministry.

Here are some interesting sections I have pulled from one article, “The Yeast of the Pharisees: Spiritual Abuse by Pastors and Counselors,” by Edward J. Cumella, Ph. D.


Spiritual abuse began in the Garden of Eden: Satan manipulated God's words and convinced our earliest parents to follow him instead of God. This event epitomizes all spiritual abuse. …

Christians believe that human beings have a spirit that connects us to God. As such, spiritual abuse consists of actions that distort or sever our relationship with God. Since identity derives from knowing who we are in relation to God, spiritual abuse harms self-concept and self-worth. Spiritual abuse also causes mental and emotional distress, and is therefore a form of mental/emotional abuse. …


Dr. Cumella goes on to describes 13 features of spiritual abuse of which this is the last:

Ensnarement. Rather than promoting maturity among believers, abusive leaders inevitably promote self-doubt, guilt, and identity confusion, since believers struggle with the contradiction between what their conscience and reason tell them and what they are being taught. This ambivalence, coupled with fear of condemnation and loss of direction and fellowship, make it difficult and painful for believers to leave abusive churches. …

And then explains a point worth consideration:

Think about a cult, for at its most severe, a spiritually abusive church is a cult. It has so diverged from solid Biblical teaching and grown so warped in the authoritarian rule of one man, that it has become a place of idolatry where God is no longer worshipped. "Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees." (Galatians 5:7-10, Matthew 16:6).





The Yeast of the Pharisees: Spiritual Abuse by Pastors and Counselors by Edward J. Cumella, Ph. D.

http://www.barnabasministry.com/recovery-yeast-cumella.html




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« Reply #44 on: May 16, 2023, 11:07:13 am »

Cult or not. They're very destructive to the body of Christ. Their "heirarchy" is bad for all individuals. We are all equal in God's eyes.
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« Reply #45 on: June 16, 2023, 06:22:30 pm »



In February this year, (2018), a new book was published by Jason Oakes called "Sharing Jesus With the Cults." This book lists Great Commission Churches as a cult along with many other organizations. The author goes further to define how he came to this conclusion.

An interesting read. The author has never formally been a member of GCC but has a plethora of knowledge and wisdom regarding organizations that can be defined as cults while bringing resources and direction on how to bring the entirety of the Gospel to those in cults while navigating common conversational loopholes.

-LiterallyFreed,   2018





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« Reply #46 on: August 09, 2023, 07:59:15 pm »

I found this closer look at churches to be quite astute. “10 Ways to Spot Spiritual Abuse” by Mary DeMuth describes key characteristics to examine if one is under such influence. GCx readily qualifies for all ten. Proof of that is “in the pudding” here on this website with thousands of such ungodly actions experienced by its former members. The following are just three very recognizable traits in most GCx Churches. Ms. DeMuth’s full list can be found here: https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/155481-10-ways-to-spot-spiritual-abuse.html/2


2. Demand allegiance as proof of the follower’s allegiance to Christ. It’s either his/her way or no way. And if a follower deviates, he is guilty of deviating from Jesus. …

4. Create a culture of fear and shame. Often, there is no grace for someone who fails to live up to the church’s or ministry’s expectation. And if someone steps outside of the often-unspoken rules, leaders shame them into compliance. Can’t admit failure but often searches out failure in others and uses that knowledge to hold others in fear and captivity.

They often quote Scriptures about not touching God’s anointed or bringing accusations against an elder. Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing critics. …

8. Buffer him/herself from criticism by placing people around themselves whose only allegiance is to the leader. Views those who bring up issues as enemies. Those who were once friends/allies swiftly become enemies once a concern is raised. Sometimes, these folks are banished, told to be silent or shamed into submission. …


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« Reply #47 on: August 10, 2023, 08:41:57 pm »


The excerpts from this Crosswalk article describe spiritual abuse very well. They are the antithesis of Biblical Christianity:


Spiritual abuse is using the Bible or your position as a spiritual leader to influence others for personal gain. This would likely be categorized as emotional and psychological and doesn’t exclusively happen within the church body. For instance, it can also happen in the home and in personal relationships.

Spiritual abuse might include: manipulation and exploitation, accountability enforced by threats, censorship of decision-making, coercion to conform, and the inability to ask questions or voice disagreement. The abuser might suggest they are in a “divine” position and therefore require your obedience. ...

In an unhealthy church, the pastor actually begins to take the place of Jesus in people’s lives. Commonly, people are told they cannot leave the church with God’s blessing unless the pastor approves the decision. The implication is that unless they receive pastoral permission, not only will God not bless them, but they will also be cursed in some way, resulting in sure failure. Controlling spiritual leaders use this kind of reasoning to manipulate people. ...

Pastors operating under a spirit of control are often convinced that they are the only ones who can accurately hear from God. Under the constant exposure to this spirit, members often become convinced that they indeed need their pastor to think for them. In essence, their personal fellowship with the Lord has been abdicated for a relationship with a man. As a result, they lose their confidence in being able to discern the will of God for their lives. ...

-Beth Ann Baus - “Recognizing Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse in the Church” - Crosswalk.com



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« Reply #48 on: August 11, 2023, 07:49:18 pm »


Bible-based Cults

Part I


Great Article!! Lots of very helpful info so will do excerpts in two parts. I would add to number six, ‘view themselves as persecuted by other Christians, especially those sounding a warning’.


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.

In his book Churches That Abuse, Dr. Ronald Enroth carefully examines several of these churches throughout the United States. He reveals the cultic methods these groups use and points out several distinguishing marks of abusive churches. ...

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.



-pzukeren - Evidence & Answers - Abusive Churches
https://evidenceandanswers.org/article/abusive-churches/


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« Reply #49 on: August 13, 2023, 05:12:14 pm »


Bible-based Cults

Part II


Really like this author’s practical summaries based on the characteristics described in Churches That Abuse. In case your new to that book, GCx (or Great Commission International) was one of church groups exposed by it after a great number of concerns and complaints were received from victims and their parents to Enroth and other cult experts. It appears as a result GCx issued a Statement of Error (1991) to act as a public relations response to “cover” their error. Many of the supposed repentances were never faithfully carried out, including the telling fact that most members never even received a copy of the Statement or so-called apology.

I would add to isolation below, “significant discouragement” of ties with family, friends, and others outside the church. Here are key excerpts that often apply to 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. …

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. …

A central feature of an abusive church is control-oriented leadership. The leader in an abusive church is dogmatic, self- confident, arrogant, and the spiritual focal point in the lives of his followers. … the leader’s position and beliefs cannot be questioned; his statements are final. … The leader of the movement often makes personal decisions for his followers. Individual thinking is prohibited; thus the followers become dependent on the leader. … Even if there is an elder board, it is usually made up of men who are loyal to, and will never disagree with, the leader. This style of leadership is not one endorsed in the Bible. …

Abusive churches are characterized by the manipulation of their members. … Here manipulation is used to get people to submit to the leadership of the church. The tactics of manipulation include the use of guilt, peer pressure, intimidation, and threats of divine judgment from God for disobedience. Often harsh discipline is carried out publicly to promote ridicule and humiliation. … requires every member to be personally accountable to another more experienced person. To this person, one must reveal all personal thoughts, feelings, and discuss future decisions. This personal information, is not used to help the member, but to control the member. …

Another means of control is isolation. Abusive churches may cut off contact between a new member and his family, friends, and anyone else not associated with the church. … Abusive churches require unwavering devotion to the church from their followers. Allegiance to the church has priority over allegiance to God, family, or anything else. … Members of such churches frequently drop out of school, quit working, or even neglect their families to do the work required by the church. …

In churches like these, people begin to lose their personal identity and start acting like programmed robots. Many times, the pressure and demands of the church will cause a member to have a nervous breakdown or fall into severe depression. As I reflect on these characteristics I think of Jesus’ words concerning the Pharisees who “tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger” (Matt. 23: 4) …

-pzukeren - Evidence & Answers - Abusive Churches


(All emphasis above is mine.)

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« Reply #50 on: August 27, 2023, 03:08:38 pm »



In examining the faith that was modeled for me in GCC, I see that so much of it was fueled by control and power. ... I have a lot of family and friends still in the movement, but I came to the realization that it was extremely unhealthy for me. I would not call it a cult, though I believe it was in the past. But it has significantly unhealthy patterns that have spanned decades that, in my opinion, go beyond 'normal' church problems.

-Free in Christ,   2018

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« Reply #51 on: September 15, 2023, 09:05:00 pm »



I cared about them [GCx elders] enough to confront them about their theological errors before we left, after we left, and now. I also care about the people who are sitting at their feet and are consequently being mislead about the nature of who our Master is. … I hope to never "heal" enough that I don't speak up for what I believe is right.

No one here is saying that all GCM leaders are bad people. The danger is the way the word of God is mishandled and people are deceived. To the extent that elders buy into bad teaching and perpetuate it, they are dangerous.

-Linda,   2008


I've participated in many GCx national events and all the same wrong and hurtful teachings were preached. GCx being "dangerous" seems to have less to do with individual leaders and more to do with flawed doctrinal DNA. …

-G_Prince,   2008


I think GCM is a dangerous group because it makes kids and young people give up the best years of their lives, the most important decisions of their lives (who they marry, where they live, occupations), their best resources, and then leaves them with the idea that they have never and will never do enough.  Then they say that they are doing God's work and God's bidding in making these demands.  They really are adding to the gospel, and distorting Jesus' message.

That's why I think it's a dangerous group.

-AgathaL’Orange,   2008


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« Reply #52 on: November 07, 2023, 06:31:10 am »



Cults operate under the principle of “ad hominem” argumentation,
a tactic by which disagreement is directed against the person
asking the questions rather than directly discussing the problem.

-Steve Hassan, “Cult Mind Control”


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« Reply #53 on: November 08, 2023, 09:43:19 pm »


Is the Church I’m Going To “A Cult”?

From The Gospel Coalition by Paul Carter

Excerpts


Does your church oppose critical thinking?


When you ask questions are you encouraged to take what the leader says on faith? Are Bible references displayed in support of statements made from the pulpit? If questions are suppressed and no forum is provided for dialogue or reasoned dissent, then you may indeed be involved in some kind of Christian cult. ...


Does your church isolate and punish dissenting or departing members?

When people question the direction of the leader are they isolated? Are other members of the congregation told not to speak to them? Is it possible to disagree with the leader on a secondary issue (something that wouldn’t show up in a historic creed or in the church’s doctrinal statement) and still serve in a ministry role? If the leader is never to be questioned and disagreement is punishable by exile, then you may be involved in some kind of cult. ...


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« Reply #54 on: November 09, 2023, 08:32:26 am »


Continuing excerpts from The Gospel Coalition’s 2021 Key Cult Questions from above:



Does your church require inappropriate demonstrations of loyalty to the leader(s)?

Are church staff required to sign non-disclosure agreements and forbidden to speak a critical word about the leader? … Are the sins of the leader swept under the rug so as not to detract from the respect he is owed by congregants and followers? …



Does your church encourage members to break ties with family members outside the group?

Are members encouraged to sever relationships with non-aligned family members, including older parents and adult children? …


Does your church engage in practices that contradict biblical behavioural norms?

… Does your church forbid what Scripture permits? Does it forbid marriage…  Does it mandate…a certain approach to dating and courtship? If so, you might be involved in some kind of Christian cult. …


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« Reply #55 on: November 11, 2023, 10:35:55 am »




“In 1988, the movement was classified as a cult by the American Family Foundation (AFF),[89] the (pre-Scientology) Cult Awareness Network,[90] and the Council on Mind Abuse.[79][80]”

-Wikipedia on Great Commission Churches



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« Reply #56 on: November 18, 2023, 08:45:34 pm »


Surprisingly, I found this on the “Women of Faith” Site. I’m guessing the frequency of Bible-based cults necessitates this topic on their website. I wish I had read something like this before I got swept into the perverted mindset of GCX. They taught they had the one true way to reach the world and to follow the New Testament. Many of their leaders have still taught or implied the rest of the list according to witnesses on this site.


What is the Message of Manipulation by Cult Leaders?

Characteristic of all cult leaders is the belief that they alone have the one true message from God.


    • They present themselves as infallible authorities, requiring absolute loyalty.
    • They persuade through their strong, charismatic personalities.
    • They prohibit individual freedom, expecting unquestioned obedience.
    • They promote themselves as divine or as God’s sole agent on earth.
    • They possess “new truth” from God, while perverting Biblical truth.They provide simplistic answers for complex problems.


    [/list]


    https://www.womenoffaith.com/cults


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    « Reply #57 on: November 20, 2023, 03:40:14 am »

    To this list, I would like to add that they denigrate other denominations or groups as inferior due to differences in their philosophy or practice. This raises themselves as the ultimate standard. ("Why go for 'good' when you can go for 'best'?")
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    « Reply #58 on: November 20, 2023, 09:50:35 am »

    Quote

    To this list, I would like to add that they denigrate other denominations or groups as inferior due to differences in their philosophy or practice. This raises themselves as the ultimate standard. ("Why go for 'good' when you can go for 'best'?")

    -margaret


    CRUCIAL ITEM to add to that list, Margaret. That is the VERY MANIPULATIVE HOOK victims cannot seem to escape. You are absolutely spot on!! A false but painful piercing to our conscience!
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    « Reply #59 on: May 11, 2024, 09:39:32 am »


    When I describe my former organization [GCx] I often say that on paper they were fine,
    but in practice they were like a cult.

    -margaret




    Very much agree, Margaret, especially the PR they publicly advertise. If you were privy enough to view the falsely enslaving and manipulative theology they occasionally printed themselves you would be suspicious if you had a solid Bible foundation. But most of us were new believers and were destructively taken advantage of.


    « Last Edit: May 11, 2024, 07:31:57 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
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