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Huldah
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« on: March 31, 2018, 09:47:41 am »

I've been thinking about some of the doctrines and practices that, in my opinion, separate GCx churches from healthy churches. What would it take for GC to move past its historical errors and take its place among churches that don't qualify for the "cult" or "cultic" label?

My list of suggestions:

1) Publicly repudiate Jim McCotter as a false teacher.

2) Publicly admit to placing pressure on members to commit to membership for life; publicly repudiate this practice.

3) Publicly admit that they taught the false doctrine of "unity trumps truth," and that it meant exactly what it sounds like (that is, it wasn't taught in some context that softened it or explained it away as a harmless figure of speech). Publicly repudiate this teaching. Affirm that followers of Jesus Christ must have an absolute commitment to the truth, both in doctrine and in life. (My post on this topic as a historical teaching is here, but others on the same thread have confirmed that this teaching continued well into recent years.)

4) Admit that the elders have been much too involved in the personal decision making of families and individuals in the church. (I would like to add, "Make amends where appropriate," but how would they even start to do that?)

5) Issue a public apology for their false teachings, for the harm that has been done to individuals and families, and for accusing their truthful critics of slander. This should be a real apology that takes full responsibility for the things they've done wrong, not attributing those errors to "youthful zeal" (as in the 1991 statement of error) or taking jabs at the people they're apologizing to (also in the 1991 statement of error, and in the letter retracting the excommunication of Bill Taylor.

Frankly, I doubt that they could actually follow through on #1, repudiating Jim McCotter. The training and authority of the leadership go back in a short, direct line to McCotter himself. Without formal seminary education, the primary qualification of the leaders is (correct me if I'm wrong) that they all learned their Bible either from McCotter himself or from someone who learned it from McCotter. Doctrinally, McCotter is the cornerstone of GC theology.

Does anything else have anything to add? What would it take for you to consider GC no longer cultish in its practices and teachings?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 10:53:21 am by Huldah » Logged
Huldah
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2018, 09:52:28 am »

Just adding: when I say "publicly," I mean perhaps in the form of a paper that can be widely distributed on the web, with copies also hosted on non-GC websites. GC has a disturbing trend of posting pages and sound files and then making them disappear. I think we've all noticed that.

As someone else here has said (Linda, I think?), they don't correct bad teaching, they just quietly remove the references to it from their website.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 09:57:16 am by Huldah » Logged
GodisFaithful
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2018, 11:22:12 am »

I am no where near an expert in Cults/Cultish Systems, but I have done plenty of reading about them.

The problem with pinning it down sometimes is that there are not going to be neon blinking lights saying **look over here**. In other words, it may not be found in their doctrinal statements or leadership manuals, or maybe not even found in public teaching. But that does not mean that the system is not in place.  It would take some digging, perhaps, on the part of a researcher.

Here is my list of cultish practices I have seen or heard first hand about in GCx:

1. Secret teaching for core committed members.
          For example: Brent Knox used a Wednesday night core member meeting for when I first heard that he was in the place of Moses and we must
           follow and not even THINK of "grumbling" which seemed to imply questioning. 
          Another example: someone just shared on the forum that after a "plant your flag and die, commit for life" teaching, in the small group people
          were pressured to commit and weed out those not committed. Is that not cultish or what???

So Huldah, what is the remedy for this? I don't have a clue except for a researcher to dig into church practices, beyond pastors. Asking people who have left the "movement" might be a really good idea. And then GCx has to be able to admit they have done this.

2. If GCx teaches commit for life, or even the more subtle we are just the hottest and most biblical church you can find, there will as a direct result be
some degree of shunning when people leave or are asked to leave. And my personal belief is that this is so ingrained with pastors in this movement they honestly do not know how to keep their membership any other way. And they do not know how to allow people to leave in a comfortable way. I may be over generalizing so this would need to be looked into. Interview a large number of people who have left. And GCx leaders would have to see that this subtle pressure (or not so subtle) is wrong.

3. I think that GC national leadership should make a list of all individuals and families who have been excommunicated for slander or faction or that kind of silly thing which just meant they didn't agree with everything the pastor was doing or saying, and personally apologize, humbly and heart felt and listen to them about how this action affected their lives.  A lot of healing of deep wounds needs to take place.

4. Cults are known for love-bombing and I believe it happens in GCx, and then down the road a person finds out that the friendship was not genuine, as they are dropped off the list of people who are worthy of "building into".

5. Abuse of Power: telling people to leave the church who do not measure up to the current vision, the message to obey leaders even in areas of disagreement, rearranging leadership and small groups with no explanation, and now the possibility of sexual exploitation.

This is just a small list of things that I wish a cult researcher would look into if they were examining GC churches and practices.




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araignee19
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2018, 11:34:47 am »

This is a great list. Thanks for putting it together. I think each of these steps is critical, and would go a long way to making me think of this as a healthy church movement. I may add a few items to this list later. I want to ponder how to phrase it more.

And I agree, "publicly" does not mean say it at church, and then move on and never discuss it again. Many steps similar to what you call for here have sort of been taken already with the 1991 statement of error. But this paper has been forgotten by many and was not made widely available enough (nor did it address #1 or #2). It should be addressed enough that it is household talk by memebers of the church. In my opinion, #1 is the most critical. Until McCotter is addressed, I truly do not think GCx can be a healthy environment across the board. I do not think they can change, even if they want to, because his teachings are still woven in the DNA of GCx.
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Huldah
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2018, 03:24:19 pm »

The problem with pinning it down sometimes is that there are not going to be neon blinking lights saying **look over here**. In other words, it may not be found in their doctrinal statements or leadership manuals, or maybe not even found in public teaching. But that does not mean that the system is not in place.  It would take some digging, perhaps, on the part of a researcher...

So Huldah, what is the remedy for this? I don't have a clue except for a researcher to dig into church practices, beyond pastors. Asking people who have left the "movement" might be a really good idea. And then GCx has to be able to admit they have done this.

Yes, I agree. It's possible to preach ideas that individually look innocuous, but are actually setting the listeners up to connect the dots in a way that isn't good. It can be difficult for an outsider to pick up on that.

Here's an example of reading between the lines. When you tell young people to plant their flag and die, what are you implying about other churches? That other churches are inferior in some undefined way. That you can't serve the Lord as effectively outside a GC church. They may never say these things in a sermon, but it's implied. (In our day, it was said aloud, but only in private conversations. We were "God's best." If someone got saved but joined a different church, that was cause for sadness. This is part of the DNA that persists down to the present.)

Moreover, "plant your flag and die" reinforces the control of the leaders: the pastors are entitled to make certain decisions on your behalf; you aren't free in Christ to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit; you can't trust your own thoughts, ideas, and feelings if those happen to lead you in a different direction than the elders want you to go. Why are young people asked to pledge their lives to their local church instead of pledging themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ?

So how do you get leaders to admit to flawed theology and practice after they've spent twenty, thirty, or more years entrenched in the system? It would take a tremendous amount of effort on their part to re-examine their own teachings, attitudes, and assumptions.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 03:35:06 pm by Huldah » Logged
Differentstrokes
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2018, 05:31:49 pm »

Does anyone else remember hearing the pastors will have to give an account before God for their flock, so that's why you should obey them? I'm sure someone will say this is just as biblical as every thing else, but doesn't it seem weird???
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GodisFaithful
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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2018, 05:35:26 pm »

It might be more accurate to say they will have to give an account if they abused the flock. Maybe Huh
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Huldah
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« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2018, 06:02:18 pm »

This is a reference to Hebrews 13:17, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."

Of course, GC took that to extremes that were never intended. I'm pretty sure the writer of Hebrews never meant that our leaders could tell someone to stop having more kids and toting that stupid diaper bag to church all the time.

« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 06:04:05 pm by Huldah » Logged
GodisFaithful
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« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2018, 06:12:30 pm »

Thank you, Huldah, for that reassurance. I disobeyed and had two more children. They are glad I did (the last two).
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araignee19
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2018, 08:31:53 pm »

Does anyone else remember hearing the pastors will have to give an account before God for their flock, so that's why you should obey them? I'm sure someone will say this is just as biblical as every thing else, but doesn't it seem weird???

Yes, 100% I heard this, as recently as 2011 when I left. I very recently posted this in another thread so I'm just re-copying it here:

"In one of my many conversations with leadership at the Rock, Fort Collins, during the process of trying to address what I saw as false teachings, I was told by the leaders "if we don't lead them, these people won't grow." They took personal responsibility for the health of their "disciples." They said they believed they would be held accountable before God for my spiritual health when they die. I have a difficult time believing this false interpretation of their role in my spiritual didn't somehow stem from these, and similar, incorrect teaching being discussed here. And let me be clear, what they said is heresy. They put themselves in the place of God in my life.

"And to preempt the question that is likely coming, I challenged them at the time to clarify what they meant and gave an opportunity for them to take it back. They 100% stood by what they said. When I brought it up to other leaders, those other leaders defended them and their false ideas."

They did use this to say that I should obey them for their own sake, because I care about them as my leaders. I heard it in many other contexts, such as Sunday morning, Friday night Rock services, and Faithwalkers. But this instance I mentioned above was when I really realized how wrong this teaching was.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 08:34:09 pm by araignee19 » Logged
UffDa
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2018, 10:30:26 pm »

That they would have standardized formal theological training. I think itís the only way to prevent twisting and misinterpreting the Bible.
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Huldah
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2018, 07:17:45 am »

I totally agree, UffDa. I think it's the way to finally root out the Gothard/McCotter contamination.
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GodisFaithful
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2018, 08:15:04 am »

This idea that Araignee brings up that the leadership of GC churches are convinced that they are responsible for their flock's spiritual growth and health has got to be one of the most consequential things that they teach.

For one thing, that is a very heavy laden role for them to play. No resting there. It's also arrogant. (Kind of like taking on the role of God the Father and the Holy Spirit.) For many years I had the mistaken idea that "sanctification" (which I take to mean becoming more like Jesus, spiritual growth) was something that was up to me, how much time I spent in the Word, how willing and yielded my heart was, etc. But it was a big aha!! moment last year when I saw that in John 17 Jesus prays "sanctify them" to the Father. It is a work that God does in me. He will not let go of me. He will not forsake that which he has begun. I rest in him. I trust him for growth.

I'm thinking that this idea they have that they are responsible for our spiritual growth is at the core of some of the most twisted teaching. No wonder they teach commit to this church for life. No wonder they see themselves as Moses-types. No wonder they have told people when they leave that they will be spiritual orphans. No wonder they have said of people who leave that they are deceived and have listened to Satan. No wonder they do not mind being high and lifted up in the minds of their people. They think God put them in a very exalted place/role. No wonder they ask people to leave who are not following their lead whole heartedly. No wonder they think it is fine to tell people whether they are ready to get married or not, what small group to be in, whether they should avoid certain people in the church who they think are not sufficiently committed. It all starts to make sense.

This twisted idea leads to pride in the leadership. They have taken on a role that does not belong to them.

How sad for them and the people "under" them.

No wonder so many people on this forum have "free" or "clear" in their names. How wonderful to realize Who is truly responsible for our spiritual growth.
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Huldah
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2018, 08:19:03 am »

Exactly! There's a pervasive lack of trust in the Holy Spirit to do His work, and so the leaders try to function in the Holy Spirit's place.
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Rebel in a Good Way
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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2018, 06:53:45 am »

Finally have time to consider my "wish list."  I am going to copy some from others and then add mine



My list of suggestions:

1) Publicly repudiate Jim McCotter as a false teacher.

2) Publicly admit to placing pressure on members to commit to membership for life; publicly repudiate this practice.

3) Publicly admit that they taught the false doctrine of "unity trumps truth," and that it meant exactly what it sounds like (that is, it wasn't taught in some context that softened it or explained it away as a harmless figure of speech). Publicly repudiate this teaching. Affirm that followers of Jesus Christ must have an absolute commitment to the truth, both in doctrine and in life. (My post on this topic as a historical teaching is here, but others on the same thread have confirmed that this teaching continued well into recent years.)

4) Admit that the elders have been much too involved in the personal decision making of families and individuals in the church. (I would like to add, "Make amends where appropriate," but how would they even start to do that?)

5) Issue a public apology for their false teachings, for the harm that has been done to individuals and families, and for accusing their truthful critics of slander. This should be a real apology that takes full responsibility for the things they've done wrong, not attributing those errors to "youthful zeal" (as in the 1991 statement of error) or taking jabs at the people they're apologizing to (also in the 1991 statement of error, and in the letter retracting the excommunication of Bill Taylor.



And I agree, "publicly" does not mean say it at church, and then move on and never discuss it again. Many steps similar to what you call for here have sort of been taken already with the 1991 statement of error. But this paper has been forgotten by many and was not made widely available enough (nor did it address #1 or #2). It should be addressed enough that it is household talk by memebers of the church.


3. I think that GC national leadership should make a list of all individuals and families who have been excommunicated for slander or faction or that kind of silly thing which just meant they didn't agree with everything the pastor was doing or saying, and personally apologize, humbly and heart felt and listen to them about how this action affected their lives.  A lot of healing of deep wounds needs to take place.


I will add:

1. Doing a truly independent investigation (not using a church-hired attorney) in to the allegations against Mark Darling would be symbolic to show that they are no longer invested in protecting the institution but do actually care about abuse and victims and will finally love people in the self-sacrificial way that Christ modeled in this regard.  Even though I am not personally involved in this situation, seeing that shift would provide comfort to me because it be a step in the right direction.

2. I think they should find an outside group to look in to their practices to determine if there are elements that are spiritually abusive.  Converge did an investigation in to my previous local church, and did identify patterns of control, psychological and emotional abuse, false teaching, etc.  To clarify, this other organization should *not* be SGM or some other abusive denomination (as ECC supporters have used SGM's criticisms of GRACE to discount that agency).  Perhaps Freedom of Mind, a non-fundamentalist seminary, a panel of other church leaders, International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), not sure.  But it should definitely include input from people critical of the movement. That is the only way to have transparency and make sure concerns are actually investigated/evaluated.

3. They can offer healing to people in the form of paying for qualified counseling--maybe even through an online capacity if local counselors aren't available, providing spiritual abuse books to people, perhaps having some experts offer group education sessions/videos in GCC towns or online, send people to ICSA (ICSA has a special arm for spiritual abuse since that is a more acceptable terminology for church people) recovery conferences, etc.  And of course these resources would have to be managed by an outside source.

So...that's what I have for now.  And I realize if they can't do (my) #1, they certainly won't do #2, and they will see no need to do #3. 
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Rebel in a Good Way
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2018, 01:20:32 pm »

I also think they need to take a different approach rather than offering for anyone who has a criticism of GCC to "reconcile" with John Hopler. 

First of all, as a woman, I do not feel comfortable working things out with any man in GCC who automatically assumes authority over me.

Secondly, his whole priority is to lead the movement, not to provide healing for individuals or make any changes to GCC.  What healing would he offer them?  I have seen nothing from him but defensiveness or criticism.

Thirdly, how does one "reconcile" with an entire denomination through one person?

I know these points have been brought up before, but I'll add that to my wish list.
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PietWowo
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2018, 02:12:42 pm »

I also think they need to take a different approach rather than offering for anyone who has a criticism of GCC to "reconcile" with John Hopler. 

First of all, as a woman, I do not feel comfortable working things out with any man in GCC who automatically assumes authority over me.

Secondly, his whole priority is to lead the movement, not to provide healing for individuals or make any changes to GCC.  What healing would he offer them?  I have seen nothing from him but defensiveness or criticism.

Thirdly, how does one "reconcile" with an entire denomination through one person?

I know these points have been brought up before, but I'll add that to my wish list.

I can understand this, but how would you think that they would reconcile with you? You can't speak with every member? I'm confused, how would you picture a reconciliation?
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Huldah
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2018, 02:59:25 pm »

I don't think anyone from this forum has suggested reconciling with GC. That's a concept put forth by John Hopler, whose idea of reconciliation seems to consist mainly in getting the critics of GCx to agree to go silent.
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OneOfMany
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2018, 03:36:47 pm »

I also think they need to take a different approach rather than offering for anyone who has a criticism of GCC to "reconcile" with John Hopler. 

First of all, as a woman, I do not feel comfortable working things out with any man in GCC who automatically assumes authority over me.

Secondly, his whole priority is to lead the movement, not to provide healing for individuals or make any changes to GCC.  What healing would he offer them?  I have seen nothing from him but defensiveness or criticism.

Thirdly, how does one "reconcile" with an entire denomination through one person?

I know these points have been brought up before, but I'll add that to my wish list.

I can understand this, but how would you think that they would reconcile with you? You can't speak with every member? I'm confused, how would you picture a reconciliation?

Stop Trolling!!
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PietWowo
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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2018, 04:15:22 pm »

I don't think anyone from this forum has suggested reconciling with GC. That's a concept put forth by John Hopler, whose idea of reconciliation seems to consist mainly in getting the critics of GCx to agree to go silent.

I know John Hopler. I'm sure he would listen to you and work things out with you. But it has to be within reason. If you asked him for example to quit believing the Bible, he wouldn't agree with you. But part of any reconciliation would be that people would quit talking bad about one another.

If I speak bad of another person, whether justified or not, I'm not reconciled with that individual. That's common sense. I'm sure you agree with it. For instance Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are not reconciled to each other, because they talk bad about each other. I'm sure both Republicans and Democrats agree with that.
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