I was shown this list a little while back and I kept reading it. It made me think a lot. Many of us call other churches a cult, or we may even hear others call our church a cult. What is a cult? That is something we really need to check with because those who are in a cult don't even know they are in a cult. This does not apply to all who read this, but it is something we need to know to protect ourselves.
Growing in Grace Magazine also listed a wonderful article about the "Culture of Cults." CLICK HERE to read their article!
What do Churches and Cults Have in Common?
Adapted from The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen
[There are] seven characteristics which can be found in most spiritually abusive systems.
The leaders spend a lot of time focusing on their own authority and reminding others of it as well. This is a necessary trait in such a system because their spiritual authority isn't real or genuine so it has to be postured if there is to be any. The leader subtly replaces Christ or God over one's conscience. A church leader or pastor might say: "In this flock, I'm the chief shepherd!" Such an attitude really assumes the place reserved only for the King of Kings. Christ is the Chief Shepherd and the head of the church. Unhealthy, authoritative leadership encourages people to put their leaders on a pedestal. This type of leader is eager to place people under them and under their word, under their authority.
In an abusive spiritual system, those running such a system will be preoccupied with the performance of their members: worthiness = performance (often perfectionism).This system doesn't really foster holiness or obedience to God, it merely accommodates the leaders' interpretation of spirituality and his/her need for control. "Out of context, obedience to leaders looks like good theology. Add the larger context and you will see that it is only appropriate to obey and submit to leadership when their authority is from God and their stance is consistent with His" (The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, p. 66). It is not to be lorded over them.
These are rules which govern unhealthy churches or families but are not formally stated or written. Since they are not spoken verbally, you do not find out that the rule(s) exist until you have broken one.The unspoken rule may come across like this: Do not disagree with the church authorities, especially the pastor, or your loyalty will be suspect. Silence becomes the fortress wall of protection, shielding the pastor's power position from scrutiny or challenge. Of the unspoken rules, the “can't talk” rule is probably the most powerful. The thinking of this rule is: The real problem can not be exposed because then it would have to be dealt with and things would have to change, so it must be protected behind walls or silence (neglect or by assault, legalistic attack). If you speak about the problem out loud, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. In some way you must be silenced or eliminated. A good example of this “can't talk” rule would be the phrase, “touch not the Lord's anointed.” According to John Avanzini, Dr. Walter Martin (a cult apologetic expert) died because he spoke out against some of the Word-Faith teachers and their messages (John Avanzini with Paul Crouch, Spring 1990 Praise-a-thon, broadcast on Trinity Broadcast Network).Speaking up or against spiritual abuse is not the problem. The real problem is if a Christian who feels violated stops talking, then the perpetrator will never be held accountable for his behavior.
Lack of Balance
Many times this characteristic shows up in one extreme or another in trying to live out the truth of Christian life. The first extreme is that of extreme objectivism, which elevates objective truth to the exclusion of valid subjective experience. This can be seen in those whose religious systems theologically acknowledge the Holy Spirit's work but on a practical level appears to ignore Him. All too often this type of extreme limits God to act only those ways we can explain or understand. The second extreme is that of extreme subjectivism, which is deciding what is true based upon feelings and experiences rather than what the Bible teaches. In such a system, people are led to believe that they cannot understand Scriptural truths until the leaders receive them by spiritual revelation from the Lord and impart them to the people.
When the church or family is spiritually abusive, there will be a sense (spoken or unspoken) that "others will not understand what we're about so let's not let them know, that way they won't be able to ridicule or persecute us."In such a system persecution-sensitivity builds a case for keeping everything within the system. The reason is that the evil, dangerous or unspiritual people outside the system are trying to weaken or destroy "us." They go on to say, "This mentality builds a strong wall or bunker around the abusive system, isolates the abusers from scrutiny and accountability, making it more difficult for people to leave because they will then be outside too."
In a spiritually abusive system, a misplaced sense of loyalty is fostered and even demanded, loyalty, not to Christ but to an organization, church or leader. Because authority is assumed or legislated, and therefore not real, following must be legislated as well. Included in this is the attitude that "we alone are right,” something the leadership projects. So many groups have this in common. When Hobart Freeman began Faith Assembly (not associated with the Assemblies of God) loyalty to him and his teachings were to be accepted without question.
In such a spiritually abusive system, manipulation certainly takes place, especially in the area of dating and marriage. [Some] leaders of groups keep members in check by forbidding them to date [or controlling whom they may date and when and for how long, and whom they may marry].
There is no reason to hide what is appropriate, only what is inappropriate. When you see people in a religious system being secretive, WATCH OUT!Perhaps one reason spiritually abusive families and churches are secretive is because they are so image conscious. People in these systems cannot even live up to their own performance standards so they have to hide what is real.
Taken from Clete Hux’s adaptation, Posted on: 05/01/2003
Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics
This is the final conclusion of the little series I have about home churches. This is the third part. If you'd like to see the first, CLICK HERE or the second, CLICK HERE. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope it has only encouraged you to feel comfortable with home churches. It seems new and radical to many of us, yet I am here to prove that it is very old, but yes, still radical! Hah!
I am also recommending two books that are really informative and interesting concerning churches and "organized" religion. One is called Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and the other one is called Beyond Radical. It shows a historical depth of how each organized section of church originated, and it's true origins. Very eye opening.
Here, I begin and conclude with this:
Who is the Body of Christ?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
-There is one body, many members, different purposes.
-Jew, Gentile, Bond, Free, ALL in one Spirit.
-Each member needs to contribute, all is necessary.
(have churches become a one man show?)
-Members are to care for one another and suffer with one another.
-Each member has a gift from God to contribute.
*Question: Did God reveal his Word to one man to write one book, or many men into 66 books for the Bible?
"Now ye are the Body of Christ and members in particular." 1 Corinthians 12:27
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16
The Body of Christ needs to be a living sacrifice, holy and unconfirmed to this world. Read Romans 12:1-2.
There is ONE body, not by denomination or building. Read Ephesians 4:4-6.
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and in prayers." Acts 2:42.
There has been a struggle with Christians, and even myself, to grasp the whole concept of grace and how it is separate from the law. Many of us can get the wrong conception. We either think we receive salvation through Christ but seek righteousness from following the law, or we think that since we are saved, we can do whatever we want.
Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, and it was fulfilled once and for all (Matthew 5:17 and Luke 24:44). The law of sacrifices, sanctuary, tithes, mainly ceremonial laws focused on forgiveness of sins and that was fulfilled by Christ. Hebrews 9 is a great glance at that, with the old way and the new way. He became our high priest, created a sanctuary within us, shed his blood to cease the animal sacrifices. In fulfilling the law, he took it’s place instead of canceling it. When we receive him, we are also receiving the fulfillment of the law in Christ,without works of ourselves.The commandments are the standards of right and wrong, and they are not void. They are separate from the ceremonial laws, because Christ became our salvation. He was born under the law and walked in the law until the time came for his death to bring the fulfillment. He couldn't change the law until AFTER he died. He completed the law in perfection, and became the law. When we choose to live under the law, we will become bound by them. We have liberty in Christ, otherwise his death would have been in vain.
"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." Galatians 2:21
If you're still trying to be righteous through the law:
Remember, our righteousness are as filthy rags. There is nothing we can even present before God to be worth anything. Absolutely nothing. Our highest level of self- righteousness still puts a gulf between us and the righteousness in Christ.
The Bible says that if we seek justification through the law, then we are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4)
The Bible warns us to be entangled under the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:2 shows that if we follow the law, then Christ will profit us nothing.
And we are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, and by the works of the law, no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
The Bible warns us about the trappings of the enemy who tries to get us to believe we must follow the law to be righteous, and it is not from God. read Galatians 5:8.
Beware of legalism in seeking justification in the law. Even though many of us believe in salvation through the blood of Jesus, we may live otherwise.
Yet, do not abuse the liberty we have in Christ.
We are not called unto liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but to love and serve one another and all the law is fulfilled in this. Read Galatians 5:13,14.
*Big thanks to Mike for helping me with this!!! His blog is HERE.
I am writing segments at a time about home churches also known as the organic church. This is the second part. If you would like to go to the first part, then CLICK HERE.
I will share some of my new experiences. I have been meeting at two different homes for church. I go to one on Wednesday where there are about 15 to 20 adults gathered together (and children as well) and I also go to one on Saturdays because that is the day we rest and observe Sabbath. We also find ourselves eager to get into the Word more, and gather together Monday nights for Bible Study and fellowship.
I have also learned about how we are a body of Christ, and that there is only one head. The body is many parts, and members with a different purpose yet we all contribute. Every member is different, but none is above one another (1 Peter 5:3). The Lord has requested us to be examples and appointed Godly men to be Elders and for women to be examples and mentors as in Titus 2. We are all to be accountable to one another.
Yet, there is only one head of the church.
Who is the Head of the Church?
Jesus Christ (read Ephesians 1:22, 23)
-Jesus Christ is the head of all things in the Church
-We are his body.
We are his body. We are his flesh and bones. (Ephesians 5:30)
Christ is the Preeminence (Colossians 1:18)
*Also heed the warning of leaders who want to claim the preeminence for themselves in 3 John 1:9, 10.
Christ is the High Priest for us (Hebrews 4:14, 15)
* The veil was rent, so there no longer needed to be a man to stand before us to God, but Christ alone. Also note Hebrews 7:26.
Christ is the Chief Shepherd and Bishop (1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:4)
Jesus Christ is the head of our church, and he dwells in our bodies. Every man in Christ is a priest, and we are to go to the Father through his son, Jesus Christ. We do not need any other authority or "shepherd" but Christ alone. We are to be accountable to one another, exhorting one another and suffering with one another and the Bible says especially as we see the day approaching. Beware of any man who seeks to place himself higher than the body, high as if he was a high priest or a man with authority, and has no accountability but "unto God alone."
The first series I will do will be about home churching. Others also call it an organic church. It's a new concept for some of us, and may even seem radical but home churches have actually been around much longer than many of us ever thought.
Personally, this is the direction I have chosen for my life and my children. The more I researched it on the Bible, the more convinced I am that Jesus Christ has established liberty for us in the ways we assemble together and worship. So many of us associate the word "church" with a building, and I am here to show you that the true definition of church is not of a building.
I left the church I went to before, and it's organized and limited mold when I realized there was so much more. None of this is a condemnation for traditional churches that many of you may still attend. I only hope this enriches you and even broaden your horizons. For some of you, this may be exactly what you need to find.
I am writing the references and some key points, I strongly encourage all of you to find it in your Bibles and double check everything!
The Corner Stone and Living Stone
Jesus announced that he was going to destroy the temple and raise it up in three days (found in John 2:19-21). Jesus was in the grave for three days and when he rose, he established a new temple. It was not of bricks and stone, but of his body as seen in verse 21.
We are the House of Christ (Hebrews 3:6)
We are a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)
We are the living stones in Christ's new Church (read 1 Peter 2:4-7)
-Living stones in the spiritual house
-Chosen of God, disallowed of men.
-A holy priesthood.
-Jesus is the Cornerstone, (also in Matthew 22:42, Psalm 118:22, Acts 4:11)
There are to be NO Lords over God's flock, only examples (1 Peter 5:3)
In Our Assembly:
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:25
*Question to Ponder: Are these verses saying we have to assemble together in a physical building, or is it calling us to simply gather together?
Home Churches in the Bible
The Bible lists there were churches taken place in people's homes multiple times in the New Testament. Paul and the disciples visited people often in diverse places and taught them this new way of churching.
-1 Corinthians 16:19 (House of Aquila and Priscilla)
-1 Corinthians 1:11 (House of Chloe)
-1 Corinthians 1:16 (Household of Stephanas)
-Romans 16:5 (House of Epaeneties)
-Romans 16:10 (Aristobielus' Household)
-Romans 16:11 (Narcissus Household)
-Phillippians 4:22 (Caesar's Household)
-Phillippians 4:15 (Nympha's House)
-2 Timothy 4:19 (Household of Onesiphorus)
-Philemon 1:2 (Apphia and Archippus Church at thy house)
This concludes the first part of studying the roots of home church, and I will be writing about what is the body of Christ, who the true head of the body is, and the New Covenant with Jesus this week. If you have any questions or have anything to add, feel free to comment!
Hi everyone! So good to hear from all of you! I will start doing segments of this study I did a little while ago. I will type just pieces at a time. I'd love your feedback. What I'll write are references and some key points, but I encourage all of you to find it in your Bibles for yourselves. Also, I want to make sure that if I am wrong about anything and you can prove it to me otherwise with scripture, then please correct me!
This one today is about the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Many of us getting into this have experienced something that Paul describes as the Revelation of Jesus Christ. When Paul was on the road to Damascus, he was blinded by the light. God sent a man to remove the scales from his eyes and now he could see. Paul was blinded physically, as well spiritually. He was blind but now he could see.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Read Galatians 1:11-24.
-The Gospel was given by God, not man.
-Was taught and revealed to us by Jesus Christ, not by teachings of man.
-Paul was loyal to the Jewish Church and their traditions, now says it was wasted.
-God separates us and reveals his Son in us.
-Paul became an apostle through Jesus Christ alone without any outside influences.
-They will glorify God as they see him in us.
*Also note 1 John 2:27 and John 14:26 for further scriptures showing God's anointing of knowledge and direction that cannot be taught by men but by the Spirit of God.
Have you ever had an experience like that where suddenly God was allowing you to see things clearly? Are you going through a process where you're struggling to understand and God is showing you things and opening new doors? The Bible is consisted of layers after layers and the Bible says to rub it on as eyesalve. The more we rub the Word in our eyes, the more we see clearly.
"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see." Revelation 3:18
Hi everyone!! I am back! I got the internet turned on today! I was having problems with several internet providers and finally, my brother in law helped me find internet. Praise the Lord! I missed all of you and can't wait to catch up with everyone! Missed you all a LOT!
A lot has happened during those past few months! I can't even explain all of them at once, so I will over time what I have been learning. I can only describe it as a revelation. I've taken some steps that have helped me draw closer to God and understand his Word better! I am thankful he has answered my prayers for his truth to be clear to me.
Ive also changed directions in my life, seeking His leading. I have finally found a release from my decision to try to reconcile with my ex husband. I sought God deeply for these several months and wanted his will to be done. I was willing to do whatever he wanted me to do. Finally, I felt a release about a month ago and the verse of 1 Corinthians 7:15 was given to me several times in one day. I heard the verse before, but it was made manifest to me at that moment. It was hard to go through that, most definitely, and to go back to the past and face all these things, but if anything, it brought me great peace! Not only did I forgive, but I finally forgot. The resentment was gone and now there was friendship and respect. We also agreed to end the court nightmare and to work on making decisions about our children on our own. That is a miracle.
And there is someone I am seeing now who has been amazing to me for a long while. We have so much in common and we're going on the same road. He's been my wonderful friend and there are so many things about him that I adore. He makes me happy. We're just beginning our new affection for each other. I feel blessed with him.
And my faith and walk with God has been making some turns into some directions I have only recently discovered. I can't wait to write all about it! I will write several sections about these things. There's an overwhelming amount of things, so I will do it gradually and slowly.
I love you all and missed you all! So glad to be back online!!! _\m/