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Author Topic: Identifying Toxic Churches and Leaders  (Read 15190 times)
arrogantcat
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« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2018, 04:04:11 pm »

Decency laws do not apply to wearing underwear. Asserting pastors are telling people how many children to have is a straw man.
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Linda
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« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2018, 04:14:43 pm »

Let's get to the point and stop with the ridiculous example of underwear.

Do you REALLY, truly think that is is perfectly good theology to teach that people submit to a pastor's unwise or hurtful command:

Typically, such submission, even to an unwise or hurtful command, will cause less damage to us, to others, or to the glory of God than would outright disobedience.  p 301
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HughHoney
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« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2018, 05:08:50 pm »

I think churlish cat’s underwear is too tight for this forum might want to stick to skimming seminary curricula
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Rebel in a Good Way
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« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2018, 06:04:45 pm »

10. Labeling Those Who Oppose   - naming those who oppose their system as "contentious", "bitter", "divisive", "probably never saved",  etc. in order to bring their good judgments  into question, and silencing them to squelch a viable revolt 


It would be interesting to do a word search to see how often the word "bitter" has been used about GCC critics on this forum. 
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Godtrumpsall
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« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2018, 07:10:05 pm »

Quote
"Disobedience to an authority should be limited to situations in which the authority
is requiring something that is in disobedience to a command of God. In everything
else, authorities ought to be obeyed, even when obedience may seem unwise,
a waste of money and effort, or threatening to our desires, hopes, and dreams."

This teaching comes to mind when people have said to me, “Why did the women go for long walks or car rides with their pastor?”

I know exactly why. They have been taught to obey their pastor, even if something seems unwise. “It’s not immoral to go for a walk with a pastor, it’s just unwise, guess I should do it because the Bible tells me to obey my pastor.”

Likewise, if a husband is told his wife needs some extra counseling, he needs to let her go spend time with the pastor because the pastor says so.

Teaching like this is what gets you on cult watch lists.




I have not been taught this, NONE of the women I have known over that past 20 years have not been taught this. I have not been taught to blindly follow and obey.  Not even close.  What I do believe, and have been taught, is that we need to trust our leaders, and pray for them, and support them.  Not a single married couple within my church would ever have the wife meet alone, in private, with a pastor for counseling....ever.   MD would have never in a million years asked a woman, married or single, to do one on one private counseling unless he met them at a public place, like a restaurant, or with the husband, or others present. 

My point being....this is not the "teaching" happening at GCx.   I know you want to believe this is true, but it is not.   You can't take a piece here and a tid bit there, and make your case.  There is so much context you are choosing to ignore to validate your feelings.  It is just false. 
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Linda
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« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2018, 07:25:10 pm »

So are you saying you disagree with GCCs teaching about obeying your pastor that is part of their GCLI pastor training program? Are you familiar with GCLI?

http://ae32b6f7a6ad6f5ae1f0-a966d7fcbad4fbcd7d1dccf3fbabbb92.r98.cf2.rackcdn.com/uploaded/g/0e4793197_1490123351_gcli-2017-b1-s2-9-god-honoring-authority.pdf
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Godtrumpsall
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« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2018, 07:30:06 pm »

I have posted this elsewhere, but wanted to use GCC's own training materials to show how they perpetuate

#2 Authoritarianism   - that everyone should submit to their rule without question and any challenge is perceived as a threat to the system

GCLI is the only training system for ALL GCC pastors.  Every single one is taught these materials, with no other counterbalance to the concepts.  And these materials were all internally created, inbred from the foundations of GCC.  I suppose it might depend on the personality of the pastor how he might apply these concepts.  Some might be more mild-mannered and not prone to control.  But how unlucky for the congregations who end up with a pastor or pastors who struggle with pride or insecurity and have the "God-given" responsibility to exert power over their parishioners.  Yikes!   

This is what Bovenmeyer writes in "God Honoring Authority": http://ae32b6f7a6ad6f5ae1f0-a966d7fcbad4fbcd7d1dccf3fbabbb92.r98.cf2.rackcdn.com/uploaded/g/0e4793197_1490123351_gcli-2017-b1-s2-9-god-honoring-authority.pdf  (page numbers as referenced on document)

"Authority, as expressed by the Greek word exousia, denotes “the right or power to rule and command
another…the right to exercise power…or the power of rule or government…the power of one whose
will and commands must be obeyed by others.”  p 286


THE RIGHT OR POWER TO RULE AND COMMAND ANOTHER  That is what GCC pastors think they have.  Cool, huh?

Side Note: None of the writers of GCLI materials attended seminary or studied biblical languages in depth.  You can't just look up the definition of a word without greater knowledge and create an entire theology around it. 

These are other quotes from the document that support pastoral control.  It proposes that relationships in general are subject to a pattern of submission/obedience by God's design.  I didn't go through the whole document.

"Disobedience to an authority should be limited to situations in which the authority
is requiring something that is in disobedience to a command of God. In everything
else, authorities ought to be obeyed, even when obedience may seem unwise,
a waste of money and effort, or threatening to our desires, hopes, and dreams."
(p 302)       


"Secondly, and perhaps more fundamentally, authority and submission seem to be part
of God’s pattern for relationship. In His nature and plan, the greatest
possible love seems to be expressed as one person sacrifices himself
to take responsibility for another’s welfare (loving, leading, directing,
protecting, bringing to good) and a second person sacrifices himself
to unite with the purpose of another (respecting, following, submitting).
When these are practiced according to God’s plan, God’s good
purposes are accomplished and love and relationship are enhanced."
p 289

"All in positions
of authority are to use their position of strength and power to love and
care for those they lead.
Because authority comes with the right to direct and perhaps even use force, God is particularly angry
with those who use their authority to exploit others or selfishly benefit themselves.
"   p 289   It looks like we agree on what makes God angry, David Bovenmeyer.

"In His contrast, Jesus does not negate authority in the kingdom, nor does
He lessen the power or diminish the position of those in authority."
  p 290

"And those under authority must not rebel against or remove themselves
from human authority, or they will lose a major means of God’s protection,
becoming vulnerable to the devil’s schemes"
p 291

"Finally, there are times when church leaders should use their authority without flinching and should
let no one disregard them
."
p 307

BUT, it's okay everyone because: "Within the church, pastors should not exalt themselves above those
they lead, but must place themselves on a level of equality"
p 295  So they can bust out their authority at a moment's notice unflinchingly and without being disregarded, but they're "equal."  Mmm...I don't think that means what you think it means, David Bovenmeyer   Wink

The word translated “submit” and “be submissive” is hypotassomai, and in
the middle voice means “to subject oneself,” “to be subservient,” “to submit
voluntarily.” Submission is yielding to the authority or will of another. It
is following the lead of another in obedience.
  p 298

The word translated “respect” is the Greek word phobos, which means (a) fear, dread, terror, or (b) reverential
fear . Such reverential fear comes from a respect for the place and role of the authorities that
God has ordained for us and from a healthy fear of the consequences that will come upon those who
disobey God’s commands.
Finally, Paul instructs believers to submit to their authorities “as to the Lord.”
  p 298

Lastly, if an appeal does not bring about a change of direction, we should submit to any command that
is not a clear violation of God’s will as revealed in His word, believing that God will use our submission
even to a command that we view as harmful. Typically, such submission, even to an unwise or
hurtful command, will cause less damage to us, to others, or to the glory of God than would outright
disobedience.
  p 301

As a student of theology, I can tell you that these translations, interpretations of biblical passages, and beliefs for church leadership fall outside the bounds of acceptable theology and practice.  No one earning their MDiv (at a non-fundamentalist seminary anyway) is being taught that they should instruct their church members to OBEY them.

A final thought that caught my eye in regards to ECC's current situation (accusations against Mark Darling and other leadership including Mark Bowen).  With this kind of belief, you can see how many feel the need to protect their leaders above all.  By protecting their leaders, they are keeping themselves safe.  And they protect their leaders as thanks for putting themselves in the position to be "attacked by enemies."

"The Biblical often uses the analogy of a shepherd in regard to both civil and religious leaders. Since
sheep without a shepherd are entirely helpless against predators, this analogy emphasizes the need for
leaders to protect those they lead. Often, a group’s enemies will target its leaders for this very reason,
knowing that if the leaders are neutralized, followers are vulnerable and defenseless.

“…Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little
ones” (Zechariah 13:7).

“But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the
strong man, and then he will plunder his house” (Mark 3:27).

The enemy of our souls targets leaders, seeking to make them fall or to undermine their authority so
that he can destroy the “little ones.” How many churches have been decimated by immorality in the
church’s leadership?"
p 290

I think without THE GOOD SHEPHERD we are helpless, not without pastors.  This is not to say pastors shouldn't have a protective role in their church; they should, as should all mature believers.  But sentiments like these undermine the power of Christ in the lives of all believers and puts pastors in the savior/hero position. 

So I feel strongly that you took much out of context to fulfill your beliefs about GCx, a church you no longer attend and have a long held grievances with.  Maybe you should have read the entire document so you could have some context in the quotes you used.  This quote was also in this paper "For any group to work
together or make progress, a unified goal and plan must be achieved. Someone must be given authority
to make the decision and others must follow that lead, or chaos will ensue." 
Authority is not a bad thing.  Authority is needed.   But like the beginning of this paper, American culture moves further and further away from any sort of authority, especially God's. 
Here are some things you left out that help bring some context into what GCLI guys are learning and being taught:

Because authority comes with the right to direct and perhaps even use force, God is particularly angry
with those who use their authority to exploit others or selfishly benefit themselves. Such will incur the
wrath and judgment of God, as Israel’s civil and religious leaders did when they exploited the flock and
did not shepherd it.
“Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not
the shepherds feed the flock?…Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you
have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor
have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. “They were
scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered
(Ezekiel 34:4-5).
Similarly, God warns that He will destroy those teachers and leaders who destroy His church (temple).
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man
destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you
are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
For this reason, those who accept the responsibility of care and leadership ought to soberly evaluate
their willingness and readiness to do so.  pg 289

Jesus sharply contrasted how authority is exercised in the world and God’s
requirement within the kingdom.
And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and
those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’” But it is
not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must
become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. “For who is
greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not
the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who
serves (Luke 22:25-27).
In His contrast, Jesus does not negate authority in the kingdom, nor does
He lessen the power or diminish the position of those in authority. Rather
He commands those in authority to adopt a different goal and attitude. The
world’s leaders tend to disregard the responsibility to love and care and to
use their authority for personal gain—to feed their ego, to seek security, or
to gain a life of pleasure and ease. They pursue these selfish ends while demanding
that people enhance their reputation by calling them “Benefactors.”
Leaders in the kingdom are forbidden to use their position for such selfish
ends, but rather must love, give, and serve. Jesus requires them to be the
greatest servants of all—with fewer rights, more responsibility, and a greater obligation to sacrifice.
Jesus demonstrated this attitude Himself. Authority in the kingdom, although no less powerful or
compelling than in the world, must be used for the good and blessing of others and for the purposes
of God and never for selfish ends.  Pg 290

6. How has the fall of man affected the arena of human authority?
When Adam and Eve sinned, human nature fell from its original state of perfection. Central to human
corruption is a sense of pride, independence, and rebellion against our Creator’s authority. This inner
corruption increases the need for human authority. For example, early civilization rapidly turned
to evil and violence (Genesis 6:5), prompting God to destroy the world with a flood. After the flood,
God strengthened civil authority by instituting the death penalty (Genesis 9:5-6), apparently to better
restrain and punish human wickedness. The Apostle Paul writes that one purpose of civil authority is
to restrain evil and promote good:
“For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of
authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to
you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is
a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (Romans 13:3-4).
Just as the fall of man increased the need for authority, it also increased the potential for sinful men to
abuse authority. History is replete with kings, churchmen, employers, husbands, fathers, and mothers
who used their authority to exploit, control, and demean others. Such abuse tends to make us suspicious
and skeptical of authority, and understandably so. Yet the problem is not with authority, per se,
but with selfish, abusive authority. One of God’s purposes for authority is to promote love, order, and
harmony in this fallen world. pg 291

Second, since God’s purpose for authority is love, care, and the fulfillment
of His good purposes, leaders should seek to help individuals achieve the
significance and potential that God desires for them. Leaders must recognize
that those they lead are created in God’s image and have great dignity,
worth, and potential. Therefore leaders should encourage individuals to express their God-given
uniqueness, perspectives, talents, and gifts. As individuals flourish, God’s purposes are fulfilled and
His kingdom is advanced. Although individual preference is not supreme—the good of the whole and
the will of God are paramount—we must acknowledge that individual creativity and expression are
important and glorify God. pg 294

So it is that a husband must treat his wife with dignity and respect as an equal before God, yet as an
equal that he has responsibility for—to love, protect, and lead. Peter instructs husbands to treat their
wives as equals—as partners and fellow-heirs.
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect
as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder
your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7, NIV).
In this verse, Peter appeals to a type of equality that goes even beyond basic human dignity. Wives are
fellow-heirs and therefore deserve respect as kingdom partners. So, all believers—male and female,
young and old, rich and poor—are sons of God and priests in the kingdom.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). pg 294

In other passages, both Peter and Paul affirm the need for human authority
structures within the Christian home, church, and community
(Ephesians 5:22-6:9, 1 Peter 2:13-3:7). Yet the fact that every believer is
a priest and son of God and the fact that we are all one in Christ Jesus
ought to shape and inform the use of authority in the kingdom. Christian
leaders are not leading people inferior to themselves, but equals
and fellow-heirs of the kingdom, who also have access to God and a
relationship with Him.
Within the church, pastors should not exalt themselves above those
they lead, but must place themselves on a level of equality.

“And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father,
and he is in Heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you
have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your
servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever
humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:9-12, NIV).
Jesus mandates that church leaders lead with humility and recognize that those they lead are their
equals—brothers and sisters in the family of God. pg 295

So it is in all our relationships. If we want to dance the dance of God, some must
have the courage to lead and others must have the courage to follow. To accomplish
the good purposes of God, every group and organization needs leadership. Sports
teams need coaches, armies need generals, families need parents, businesses need
bosses, churches need pastors, and nations need presidents and legislators. The
ability of any group to dance the dance of God will largely depend on the faith,
strength, and character of the leaders who lead and of the followers who follow.
Leaders whose hearts burn for the glory of God and to advance His kingdom must be willing and eager
to lead as God directs them to—to storm the gates of death and Hell and to bring in the glories of life
and the Kingdom of Heaven. They must lead with unwavering strength—yet in the fear of God, with
the humility that comes from understanding their own brokenness, and with the love that was so powerfully
demonstrated in the leadership of our Savior. And those who follow must do so with respect,
with confidence in God, and with the submission that our Savior showed towards His own Father. pg 308

I will stop here, because I doubt much of this will get read.  But sounds like just terrible and "sick" stuff future leaders of GCx churches are being taught??  You took a few quotes, and twisted them, and removed all other relevant context of the paper.   

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Linda
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« Reply #27 on: April 17, 2018, 07:37:31 pm »

Quote from: GTA
So I feel strongly that you took much out of context to fulfill your beliefs about GCx, a church you no longer attend and have a long held grievances with.  Maybe you should have read the entire document so you could have some context in the quotes you used.

What are you talking about? I didn’t write that. Or were you not speaking to me?
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Godtrumpsall
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« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2018, 07:53:44 pm »

Let's get to the point and stop with the ridiculous example of underwear.

Do you REALLY, truly think that is is perfectly good theology to teach that people submit to a pastor's unwise or hurtful command:

Typically, such submission, even to an unwise or hurtful command, will cause less damage to us, to others, or to the glory of God than would outright disobedience.  p 301

So you need to remember that this paper is written to very spiritually mature Christians, not the church.  This is a complicated issue, and I understand the point being made, however I don't think you can see this point because of your perspective. 

God cannot be put into a box, we cannot know how God is working through a difficult or painful situation.  Sometimes submitting to a person, or God, allows God to finish his good work, even in times when we may not agree with the person in authority.  We are not to be proud (pride=sin), as our pride can limit God's work in our own life, and others.  Who are we to limit God by our disobedience?  We are to obey what the word says, and what God says about obedience.  We need to allow the Holy Spirit to lead in very difficult situations like this.  I have heard many stories when someone had the strength and courage to submit to authority they did not agree with, and God did some huge things that may have not happened if that individual did not obey or follow a leader/husband, etc.  Submission is a sign of great maturity, self control, and patience and trust.  It is not a weakness.  I assume you are married, so you must understand the strength and wisdom it takes to submit to your spouse, even when you don't agree, or he is just plain wrong. 

Us people, we just don't want pain, we don't like being uncomfortable.  We want to make decisions and have things happen that will be the fastest way out of our pain.  But we lack eternal perspective in our feeble little minds. We need to stop and make decisions based on being obedient to God's word, and that might mean prolonging that pain vs. having it stop now because we are uncomfortable.  But God is using that pain for something so much bigger, and we need to trust in His work, and in His timing.  Holding onto His promises has so much more value than our pride, desires, and sometimes even our pain.   This is my interpretation of this, that our obedience is allowing God to finish the work He has started.  Is it better to trust God, or go our own way?  I believe this is what is meant by this statement.
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Digital Lynch Mob
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« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2018, 07:55:18 pm »

Wait, this is the "Healing Forum?" This is the description I read before clicking in here:

A place to discuss healing, forgiveness, and the struggles faced as we move on, engage in other churches, relationships, and our walks with God. This is a "no debate" forum.

How's that forgiveness coming Rebel, Linda, Agatha? Like everywhere else in this forum - there is no healing here. Just attacks on a church that is leading thousands to Christ.
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Linda
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« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2018, 08:04:04 pm »

You are correct. None of us (including you, arrogantcat, or GodTrumpsall) should be debating here.

That said, normally a friendly reminder that the thread is on the healing forum and starting a new thread in General discussion would be the kind thing to do.
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« Reply #31 on: April 17, 2018, 08:12:30 pm »

Oops!  I didn't notice it was the healing forum.

You're right about no debate in the healing forum.

Sorry your thread turned into a debate, Janet.  <3

It had such a gentle start 7 years ago. 

Peace, love, and light.
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Godtrumpsall
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« Reply #32 on: April 17, 2018, 08:14:51 pm »

You are correct. None of us (including you, arrogantcat, or GodTrumpsall) should be debating here.

That said, normally a friendly reminder that the thread is on the healing forum and starting a new thread in General discussion would be the kind thing to do.

I also missed that this was in the "healing" forum. 
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« Reply #33 on: April 18, 2018, 01:02:31 am »

To “reset” this as a healing forum post, here’s Janet’s original post.

 "I have spoken openly to the world," Jesus answered him. "I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple complex, where all the Jews congregate, and I haven't spoken anything in secret.                John 18:20                

One important step to healing from GCI was to actually identify the particular hurtful or harmful characteristics they practiced.  Because I had been continually admonished by the leaders or those under them with a "reason" (more of an excuse really) why things were a bit  'closed' and stricter rules applied than I'd heard of in churces before, I didn't outwardly question these rules.  That was not only frowned upon, it was rewarded with being labeled as 'rebellious', 'factious', 'devisive', and very possibly an 'outcast' after a secret meeting with everyone but you.  Methods and means were definitely not practiced openly.  If they were, few people would ever have visited and fewer would ever have stayed.  

Once early on when I did question a leader about something he personally decided was "sin"; and announced publicly that it would be sin for anyone who did this thing (the bible definitely did not call it sin), I was was looked down upon by that leader for the remainder of my years there.  Thus, I questioned no more.  I stayed in this system a long time, and because "the church" was the only group of people I was encouraged to spend much time with, I didn't realize so much was actually spiritual abusive.  I even taught others, myself, to take on this "holy" pattern  in order to be a "very dedicated christian".   I did want to please God.  

It wasn't until years later when I read a christian book about harmful church systems that I was awakened to the many problems with their teaching.  Later, I asked God to show me what He says about these matters in His Word.  I surprisingly discovered that pharisee-like or legalistic and authoritarian teaching has been a problem since the days of the New Testament (See Galations, Colossians, 2 Corinthians and many places in the N.T.).  In addition to that, the New Testament addresses men who are dangerously selfishly ambitious and zealously recruit many to their Christian "group", isolating them intentionally from other healthy churches, for their own personal gain, and twisting scripture to do so.  It warns us that these men have no concern for the needs or welfare of their "followers".  I believe this was sadly true of atleast one of the founders who established most of the "rules" even still followed today.  I think many of the "leaders" who were blindly taught by him did not realize that these rules were erroneous.  They, too, probably wanted to please God and be "very dedicated christians", and so never questioned his authority or his means.


    "Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us...Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers.  He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church".     3 John 9b,10b    

      "Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good.  What they want is to alienate you, from us, so that you may be zealous for them."     Galations 4:17
  

Sound familiar?  The problems and concerns many have voiced on this site are strikingly similar.  Many are similar to those listed in the book Toxic Faith by Arteburn and Felton (believers who care about the welfare of hurting christians).  The Forward was written by a doctor with New Life Treatment Centers which is a well respected Christian Recovery Program (see their site).  Some helpfully label churches that uphold Jesus as the Son of God, and part of the three-person God, but USE cult practices with their congregation, as "Christian Cults".   The ten very harmful or "cult-like" or "toxic" characteristics listed below are a personal paraphrase based on those outlined in the above mentioned book:

1. "Special claims"   - i.e. following the New Testament more closely than any other Christian group
  
2. Authoritarianism   - that everyone should submit to their rule without question and any challenge is perceived as a threat to the system
                                          
3. An "Us Versus Them" Mentality   - constantly protecting their territory to establish themselves as a unique higher level of  Christianity and to legitimize themselves as an acceptable Christian organization by perceiving those who question their ways as the enemy    

4. Punishing those who struggle or falter  - treating them harshly and even publicly attacking and removing those who would upset "their reputation"

5. Overwhelming Service   - sacrificing family, friends and much more to serve the system, not God, often leading to burn out, depression, and numbness  

6. Painful Perfection   - On the outside happy and peaceful, but on the inside emotionally drained and distraught, feeling empty and spiritually dead, inadequate and often hopeless of achieving "perfection".  As my friend astutely observed of the group I was in "Almost everyone was smiling on the outside, but crying on the inside"  

7. Closed Communication   - information is only valid when it comes from the top down or the inside out.  Much spiritual superiority ignoring others as equals who have individual gifts and who (Biblically) should be very important to them and to the body  

8. Legalism   - system of rules and distortions of God's truths leaving Him out of the relationship  

9. No Real Accountability   - those labeled as "accountable to" or "in support of" are perhaps doing so with a very edited or erased past and present history; and who very likely do not have real knowledge of the actual experiences   of those who were brave enough to leave and free to voice very serious abuses and controls.  A very controlled facade has been placed upon this organization to try to make it appear as a legitimate and 'superior' Christian organization.                                              

10. Labeling Those Who Oppose   - naming those who oppose their system as "contentious", "bitter", "divisive", "probably never saved",  etc. in order to bring their good judgments  into question, and silencing them to squelch a viable revolt  


Obviously, these toxic systems are not going to share openly their list of manipulative ways and biblical errors used to influence the thinking and actions of their "flock".  They use verses taken out of context to support their controlling ways.  Although they have produced a "Statement of Error", those affected who have left never received it, only a few "complainers" who were making noise.  I was offended by its lack of sincerity in "brushing over" very serious abuses, and leaving out those that were too hard to swallow.  It seemed to be a PR move to save face.  The only way one can get the real truth about what this group and others like them actually do is through someone who has witnessed or been part of these practices on the inside, and then later been brave enough to tear themselves out so they can be free to TALK on the outside.  This site provides a place to do just that.  

After leaving, they then progressively discover the errors that were taught them. It seems God does this one layer at a time so we don't go into shock.  It's very difficult to process in the beginning that you yourself have been under so much false teaching.  Denial is definitely easier than confrontation.  Again, I cannot over emphasize getting lots of support from others including mature strong Christians (in healthy normal churches) when confronting these errors.  It's rather shocking to discover just how much was biblically off.  I believe a source stronger than themselves is authoring the lies that keeps their system surviving, and makes not only their followers prisoners of the "toxic" deception, but also the leaders themselves.  They can't see the forest for the trees.  

These unhealthy churches deeply wound the soul and spirit and often the body (with pain from stress) with lasting effects, instead of nourishing it as good shepherds do. They steal the life God intended for you to have in very seductive and subtle ways so you almost don't even realize its happening.  Many are nice people with good intentions, and think they are serving God.  But they have been duped, deceived, and led astray from the one who thrives on deceiving God's own.  

I pray God will deliver those still in these toxic systems to feel the glorious freedom of a very personal adventure with our real Shepherd, Jesus Christ, in the context of a healthy church.

Thankful for His Clarifying Word,

Janet
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 01:04:49 am by Linda » Logged

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araignee19
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« Reply #34 on: April 18, 2018, 06:12:44 am »

Janet, thanks for posting this. I can relate, as the process of peeling away layer by layer the outright false or slightly twisted theology and interpretations I had believed for so many years was truly painful. Just admitting I was wrong and had been "duped," and had participated in duping others was a painful revelation. This time was probably the first time in my life I truly took a backseat and let God heal me. Learning about the experiences of others, reading about the movement's history, reading the Bible with new eyes, and finding a healthy, strong church to be a part of all helped a lot. And of course time. I am in such a better place now than I was when I left. I am no longer "smiling on the outside, but crying on the inside" as I was for so much of my time with Summitview.
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« Reply #35 on: April 18, 2018, 08:11:45 am »

This line caught my eye.  I know several people who have read spiritual abuse books after leaving their abusive church (not only GCC) and can only read a few pages or one chapter at a time because it gets so overwhelming.  They have to take in a few concepts, process them, and feel them before moving on.  Personally, I devoured and read everything I could as quickly as possible, but I was already in shock and trauma mode so this information was giving me footing.  It was a way to replace faulty teaching so I wasn't like "what does any of it mean?!?"  The books pointed out errors and then explained what the bible really means (and just because we shouldn't believe whatever we read, I have further verified and evaluated their perspective).  It also helped me understand why I had also been duped.

Funny, Toxic Faith is probably one of the only books I haven't read yet.  I'll put it on my list!



After leaving, they then progressively discover the errors that were taught them. It seems God does this one layer at a time so we don't go into shock.

--Janet

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Greentruth
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« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2018, 11:21:49 am »

Just something the Lord has put on my heart this morning about healing. I read in Judges 11,about Jephthah, who was chased out of his hometown by his half brothers, saying he was th son of another woman, saying his mother was a prostitute.  But he was a leader, and when a hostile tribe picked a fight with Gilead they wanted him back. He asked them didn’t you hate me and tell me to leave? They said it will be different,so he agreed to lead them. In Judges 11:29 it says the Spirit of the Lord came over him, and through faith he led them to Victory
This reminds me of the time when my first wife left me for someone else. I had a very strong anger, that eventually turned into sadness. I could have chosen to hold onto the anger quite easily, but knew it would be so negative and hurtful to our then young children.  At the time I believed there was a God, but had not sought Him. I got on my knees and prayed for God to help me not be negative, and not be selfish, but to love and help others. The Spirit of the Lord came over me like nothing I had ever experienced before. Sure I still had a lot of pain, not able to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. I joined a Church and sought positive fellowship, reading Gods word and positive books like Max Lucado. And when I moved to the twin cities I found Evergreen through a friend. Getting involved, serving, and reaching out to help others brought healing and a joyful strength I never thought I would experience at the time.

I’m not trying to be critical or judgmental, but how can you heal when you focus on what is negative, and what hurt you deeply that you spend years and years hatching over it again and again?  As others I saw who had their spouse leave them, hold onto anger and resentment, you could clearly see the consequences in their children and their lives. My one son asked me recently how I was able to stay positive, and thanked me for being a good example to him and my grandchildren. How that warms-the heart is beyond words. And only through daily seeking the Lord and asking for the strength was I able.
Forgive me if I have come across harsh, but when those you love, and what has helped me the most, Gods Church, is under attack, my flesh wants to fight back.  I have seen said that some stay on this site to warn others, but a short while ago, a thread asked what Church you currently attend. Only a few where even attending a Church, and some even saying they where atheists now. This is not healing my friends. We need to seek what is good, what gives us a bright outlook and hope in God. Getting up every day for years and absorbing what is negative has got to be so lonely and miserable. Only God can bring the REAL healing.
No matter wher you go or what you do, work, school,home or Church, you will have issues you disagree with, and some who would hurt you on purpose or not on purpose. How you react and what you do will define you, and effect everyone you are in contact with. I know, as I have to deal with some who choose negatively, family and work. Only you can change, and only you can decide how. That’s the cool thing about God, as He didn’t create robots, but so many different and wonderful people, who if you look past the flesh are quite awesome. My prayers for each of you is to find that peace that only comes through the Lord and His word!
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« Reply #37 on: April 18, 2018, 12:32:51 pm »

Greentruth,

Thanks for caring about the healing of others. I'll focus my response on the process of healing as I see it since this is the "healing" section of the site. I do not want to start an argument again.

So I'll just say that I firmly believe healing comes in many ways, and can vary a lot depending on what caused the hurt. I'm sorry to hear about your wife leaving you. I'm sure in some ways there are certain things that are analogous in that situation with people leaving an unhealthy church. But there is at least one very significant additional thing that needs to be considered with leaving a church with problematic, unhealthy, or untrue teachings. In order to move on and have a healthy walk with God in the future, you need to pinpoint false beliefs you have and learn what is actually true so you can replace those false teachings with that. You cannot do this by only focusing on "positivity" and such. You can't just move on and try to build your faith on what is a shaky foundation. You have to go back to the root and find the underlying issues, and fix them, or rather let God fix them. This is often a lengthy process. I feel like it took me years, and I'm certainly not done. Never will be.

In some ways, that is actually more analogous to a wife leaving than I first thought. When a human relationship ends, I think it is normal and healthy to look back and try to see if there was anything you did that contributed. You should try to learn what the root of the problem was, and try your best to fix whatever part you had in it. This is very different from focusing on how they hurt you, which I agree can lead to deep rooted bitterness and hurt.

But the careful rooting out of bad teaching is part of healing. It is part of becoming a mature Christian, no matter what your background is or where you got those false beliefs. There is emotional healing, but there is also theological and intellectual healing. Both are important.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 01:11:22 pm by araignee19 » Logged
wisemind
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« Reply #38 on: April 18, 2018, 02:13:49 pm »

Greentruth, that was a beautiful post and testimony about how God has been with you, and truly transformed you during an incredibly difficult time. I am so thankful you experienced His grace and peace. What I want you to understand is that your experience with your former wife and the emotional turmoil that turned you toward God is real and is your story.

I have a story as well. My story stems from a truly abusive church experience caused by the Great Commission.  Unfortunately for me, what you found helpful to your life -  the heavy involvement, serving, reaching out to others, and the twisted theology surrounding authority of God and men was incredibly damaging to me. Confusion, pain, sorrow, anger, sadness, inability to sleep and an actual diagnosis of PTSD is what I experienced because of the Great Commission. A key difference between our traumas is that you were able to turn toward God for help. I needed to turn away from the god I knew in the GCX and figure out who God really is, what is a healthy way to live, and how to heal emotionally and psychologically. This has been incredibly painful. For some of us that means leaving the church or becoming atheist. Church and the Bible can be very triggering for those who have been abused.  Even though they have "left God" I believe God has not left them and understands their pain and the scars they bear.

I believe you suffered terribly when your first wife left you. I do not think you are making that up, or being melodramatic. And I am so glad you are in a good place in your life. I would ask that you believe us as well when we share our stories here and not simply dismiss us as critical and judgmental. Our stories are all too real and painful.  Sometimes when you are too close to a situation you can only see the experiences that affect you personally. If those experiences are good and helpful it's really difficult to believe there are negative ones.  This forum exists partially to give a bigger picture and to help warn others of a movement that has hurt many, many people in the name of God...and to help us realize that we are not alone and make sense of what happened to us.
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Greentruth
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« Reply #39 on: April 18, 2018, 06:04:06 pm »

Araignee, you are right, I had to look and except my part in the divorce. I was away from home a lot and didn’t pay attention to the warning signs that my wife was unhappy. I was selfish and didn’t want to change jobs or lose the income we where accustomed to.  I learned the hard way that it’s not just about me, and when I try and be aware of others needs and desires I have to forfeit my own desires at times to show Gods love. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to work and home projects. Here is where I really have to die to myself. But I have also learned that everything doesn’t have to always be done to my level of satisfaction, bringing more peace with those around me.
I don’t agree that intellectual or theological pain(?) pain is different. I have read that over 50% of pastors struggle with internet pornography. The majority of these would have a degree, but only find healing by excepting Jesus healing grace. It’s just that simple. Jesus!  I grew up in a denominational Church with pastors with seminary, and I never felt I could be good enough to deserve forgiveness,from the teaching I heard. It was in MY DECISION to ask Jesus to take control of my heart that I found the spirit of joy. No Church or pastor gave me that, and no pastor or Church could ever take it away.  The first Church I joined after asking God into my life was small. I did Bible study with the pastor and became good friends. This was the Church my wife went to, and left after leaving me. After I moved to the cities the pastor friend was accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl, which he denied. Eventually he and his family moved to a different state. I kept in contact and he eventually left his family for someone else. I was having a hard time with this, and during a conversation with my xwife, she told me that this pastor had hit on her when she had asked him for council before leaving me. She said that is when she decided to leave. You talk about a kick in the gut!  But I never told him I knew, and still encouraged him to stay with his family. He didn’t, and he did leave the Church. I told my xwife that I was sorry she had to go through that. My not blowing my top or letting it take me down was a huge whiteness to her,I’m sure.  We ALL have the choice to hold onto, or to let go. I chose to hold onto Jesus, and let go of others sin. That’s between them and God. Just as some hold onto what they feel has been done wrong to them, it is only theirs only, to decide what to do with it. I became pretty good friends with the new pastor at the small Church, and I still have close friends there that I see from time to time.  I could very easily turned my back on the Church, but who wins? The Devil, who loves getting his claws into what is good.  There are thousands who are fed a joyful and loving experince at Evergreen. It saddens me that the devil has a foothold there.  But I also see the strength in the healing going on there, and they will be stronger in the end. Just as I was for not letting him win in my situation. Give Christ the steering wheel, and healing can’t help but happening.
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