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Oh Lord, Where Do We Go From Here? Current and former members (and anyone in between!)... tell us what is on your mind and in your heart.

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Old 05-19-2020, 11:21 AM   #1
UntoHim
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Default Responsibility Of Christians In Responding To Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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What is the responsibility of Christians in responding to aberrant or abusive groups, ministries and leadership, particularly those which abuse authority to bully and control believers?

Given the many Old Testament verses exhorting God's people to defend the defenseless, stand up to oppressors and seek justice, do such commands carry over into the New Testament age and, and if so, how to we fulfill them?
Trapped has requested we open a new thread with these questions posed by Cal. Let's discuss!
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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Wanting justice for others and even oneself is not necessarily bad, as long as you let God meet it out. Recall Rev 6:10:
"They called out in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?'"
These victims are pleading to God for justice. Are they partial? Are they unaccountable? Are they bitter? How do you know?

And the Bible is full of exhortations that we should seek justice for those who are oppressed and taken advantage of:
"Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow." Isaiah 1:17

"Thus says the LORD, 'Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor.'" Jeremiah 22:3

"Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute."
Psalm 82:3

"Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy." Ps 31:9

"Thus has the LORD of hosts said, 'Dispense true justice and practice kindness.'" Zechariah 7:9

"The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern." Prov 29:7
These are verses we NEVER studied in the LR. And frankly I think they make them uncomfortable. Their whole culture of allowing oneself to be abused by an organization ignores them, as does their indifference to social justice.

One reason I ask is that we've had LR sympathizers come on this board and halfway admit that people have been abused there, but then they are quick to effectively advise "Get over it." Now I understand the need for putting things in healthy perspective to promote healing. But these advisers are more interested in lightening the load of criticism on the LR than they are with the healing of those abused. Their first priority is that the LR be preserved, all else is secondary, including people.

I understand that God commands us to turn the other cheek. But there is also Matt 18:15-17, in which, in his only mention of the practical local church in his ministry, Jesus chooses to point out that it is a place a person can go to for JUSTICE. I find that very interesting.

This is why I feel good about being a sheep dog.
Appropriate verses/comments from Cal from the other thread.
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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"Thus says the LORD, 'Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor.'" Jeremiah 22:3Assuming this applies to those victimized by the LR, how do we obey the command to do justice and righteousness and deliver them?
"Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy." Ps 31:9
How do we obey this command and open our mouths? Posting on this board seems a good start I would think.
"Reprove the ruthless" Isaiah 1:17
I imagine that someone who reproves the ruthless might sound a little bitter to somebody or other.
Other verses from Cal from the other thread.
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

Also, consider these two verses;

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. -Matthew 7:5

and;

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. -Psalm 51:9-13

It's easy enough to pick out bible verses to justify one's position. Because of this, it's important to first know the difference in motive between seeking justice in righteousness and seeking justification for oneself before proceeding forward with your cause.

This fight is more yours than it is mine. I want to see everyone succeed but you have to do it the right way. Examine your own heart and then ask yourself; does my heart resemble David's?
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Old 05-20-2020, 10:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

I don't know if there are really any right answers to this question. The first thing that comes to mind though is that there is nothing wrong with speaking to one's personal experiences. The LC would stigmatize even that as 'attacking' them.

So when it comes to actually speaking out against the LC, I think a lot of it is related to what is the motivation for doing so. For me personally, I saw a lot of dishonestly - things the campus work trying to hide their affiliations. Having been there and participated in that dishonesty, it seems right to speak up about it and help set the record straight.
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Old 05-20-2020, 11:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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I don't know if there are really any right answers to this question. The first thing that comes to mind though is that there is nothing wrong with speaking to one's personal experiences. The LC would stigmatize even that as 'attacking' them.

So when it comes to actually speaking out against the LC, I think a lot of it is related to what is the motivation for doing so. For me personally, I saw a lot of dishonestly - things the campus work trying to hide their affiliations. Having been there and participated in that dishonesty, it seems right to speak up about it and help set the record straight.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12


There's always a right way and a wrong way. To be sure we need to test our hearts so we don't find ourselves criticizing the Local Churches as the Local Churches have been criticizing others.
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Old 05-20-2020, 01:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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I don't know if there are really any right answers to this question. The first thing that comes to mind though is that there is nothing wrong with speaking to one's personal experiences. The LC would stigmatize even that as 'attacking' them.

So when it comes to actually speaking out against the LC, I think a lot of it is related to what is the motivation for doing so
. For me personally, I saw a lot of dishonestly - things the campus work trying to hide their affiliations. Having been there and participated in that dishonesty, it seems right to speak up about it and help set the record straight.
I have a neighbor who is a believing Catholic. A real decent and sincere guy. He has a family law practice, and counsels people. I talked to him one time about the pedophilia, which btw hit his local parish and the prominent bishop in town. Personally, I think the root problem is the doctrine of demons forbidding to marry. (I Tim 4.2-3)

Yet with this one terrible issue, he doesn't see fault in his church. Like everyone else, they tend to protect what they belong to. He is convinced that the Communists have infiltrated their Catholic seminaries with gay men in order to destroy their reputation. I thought it was amazing how he could protect his church, especially when that verse spells it all out. But after living with the spin from LSM/DCP for decades, there's not much that can surprise me.
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:19 AM   #8
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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I don't know if there are really any right answers to this question. The first thing that comes to mind though is that there is nothing wrong with speaking to one's personal experiences. The LC would stigmatize even that as 'attacking' them.
Just like the MSM networks, the LC does a lot of spinning the narrative.
If you speak to one's personal experiences, on the surface, "it's your experience". By no means is t meant to imply your experience is a systemic problem. If you do say my experiences is due to LC practices, you're "attacking the ministry". For example if you say you've repented for having an elitist view and say the ministry had a role in fermenting that view; you're attacking the ministry. From personal account it could something as benign as having a building permit approved for the meeting hall. Any delay of the permit being approved is construed as "an attack of the enemy".
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Old 05-24-2020, 10:40 AM   #9
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

Jo S,

I think you have very valuable contribution so don’t leave, and interesting perspectives that force me to read and re-read Scripture and question my own assumptions about it, but your delivery can sometimes be unnecessarily accusatory.

It’s possible you are making statements and questions that you intend to apply generally to people, but it comes across as you yanking one of my eyeballs open while trying to accusatorily shine a surgical light directly into it, forgetting that the topic is not my eyeball but what color to paint the room, and it would be more helpful to just have a pleasant lamp shining from overhead. And no, it’s not because I’m trying to run from any light or avoid confronting hard truths. It’s just discussion decorum is all.

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Trapped, what I see is that you’re not just “treating” the Local Churches as part of the church, but like others here, it’s what you personally believe.
Well, my viewpoint is that we can’t look at any group as a whole as part of the church or not. Of course there will be some exceptions, but by and large within every group that claims to be Christian there are some who are genuine believers and some who are not. I don’t think we can make statements like “xyz church is part of the church” because within any xyz church there will be some true believers and some false. It’s the individual believers that are part of the church (or ARE the church), not xyz church that is or isn’t.

Am I assured that within the local churches there are at least some believers who are genuine, regenerated according to the gospel you espouse, children of God? Most definitely. Which means, for their sake, I need to at least start from the assumption that I’m dealing with a group that contains part of the church. I’d rather start from a position of respect and be shown I can go down from there, than start from a position of negation and have to repent. Like it or not, comments about the impersonal group are always translated as comments about the people in that group, so I’ve got to consider the individuals first.

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I understand you can assume their claims for the sake of argument but that’s not the same as assuming it’s true for yourself. Ravi and other apologists go into debates with the presupposition that their opposition’s premise is false and their worldview is true. Only then do they use their opponents own claims to argue against their position.
Well of course. I cannot imagine a scenario where I would argue against a position within the LC while not believing my own argument. I believe you are talking specifically about the legitimacy of the LC as a genuine church, while I am talking about specific doctrines they espouse.

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In the majority of arguments on the forum I notice a lack of challenge toward the very foundation of the Local Church’s claim but rather there’s more focus on secondary matters. Why is that?
I don’t know of anyone who goes about knocking down a building by starting with the foundation. They start with other “secondary” areas (roofs, walls, supports, etc), which causes the whole thing to crumble upon its foundation. Would you try to knock down the Sydney Opera House by hacking away at its foundation? It makes no sense. I realize I’m speaking of a physical building, but I think the comparison is strong enough that I don’t need to elaborate.

The other side is, you may be able to convince people that its foundation was bad, but they will just throw the “recovery” word at you and say initial beginnings or bad foundations don’t mean that God can’t come in to recover a bad start. It just won’t go anywhere. You have to show that the structure itself is bad too.

It’s also been around in the US for 60+ years or whatever. Many people within it now had nothing to do with its initial beginnings and that part is therefore mostly meaningless to them as a factor to leave. America had some sordid beginnings in its treatment and takeover of the Native Americans and their land, but does anyone de-legitimize America for that now?

I think knowing that the foundation was bad is one more ax-blow to knocking the tree down, but it seems to me that in itself is it not sufficient to affect people without the other stuff.

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I believe that to admit to oneself that the Lord’s Recovery was never a move of God and that they have always taught a different Jesus and a false gospel has personal implications many are not willing to confront. That’s especially true for those born into the movement and to those that lost decades to it.
You are speaking vaguely here. Are the “personal implications many are not willing to confront” that they may not actually be saved? That they had a false conversion? Or that they have wasted their life? Concrete examples would help here. If that’s what you mean, I don’t disagree with you on the implications side of things. I personally did pray to receive the Lord again as an adult after I realized more of how the LC brought up their young people, so I would be assured that I was really saved and not deceived by a false conversion.

I cannot comment on “TLR was never a move of God”. I’m not God and I don’t know the ways He moves. I’m not sure whether categorizing them as a move or God or not helps anyone. At least it doesn’t do anything for me. Because either way, there are some genuine believers within it.

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It’s best to speak the truth no matter whether it’s accepted or not as it’s the truth that sets people free and not the outward approach. Yet it’s only in love that truth remains truth and so you won’t be able to set others free unless you first are free. Until you see the Lord’s Recovery movement for what it really is, only then can you move forward with an effective approach. To see that, however, you first need to address your own walk and that’s a place where many refuse to go. Being lukewarm toward the Recovery and its doctrines only gets you stuck in the past and so at this point you’re resorted to picking at specks all while the log remains in your own eye.
Well…..angry truth is still truth. That’s why there is the phrase “truth in love”. It implies there can be “truth not in love”, which I think human life witnesses to each of us that there can be both.

Your first two sentences contradict each other. You say that it’s the truth that sets people free and not the outward approach. But then say it’s only in love that truth remains truth. “in love” is a heart matter but is expressed outwardly, no doubt. So outward approach (sourced inwardly) absolutely is critical. You say only then does truth remain truth, but I would rephrase that to say that only then does truth “land”. Does truth “hit its target”. I don’t like to point to negative examples, but the Texas Street Preacher comes to mind here. He can speak truths about the LC, he may claim it’s in love, but it can’t land very many places because of the caustic outward approach he takes.

I can assure you I am not lukewarm towards the Recovery’s doctrines. The Recovery is replete with false doctrines, false interpretations of scripture, and falsely controlling teachings. There’s probably over 30 of them that permeate the ministry.

Preceded by the gospel.

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It’s important to note that Paul starts off this chapter in hyperbole meaning rather than taking what he is saying as literal there’s an overarching principle that he’s teaching to the church.

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Paul uses the term “may” meaning he’s not speaking to a group that has already been led astray but to one that is being lax and passive toward false doctrine.

The message here is intolerance toward falsities by being bold in the truth.

Where your comparison of the LC’s to the church in Corinth fails is that Corinth was founded on the gospel whereas the Local Churches were founded on an ideology.
The Corinthians were already accepting false apostles, their teachings, and showing them deference. That’s why Paul is talking about not asking for money for what he’s doing, because the false teachers already were doing that. The chapter is not a hypothetical or theoretical.

I’m not going to get into whether we can call a group part the church or not. The church is not the group itself but the real believers in any group.

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Either the LC’s are as they claim or they are not. A movement cannot be a partial move of God, can it? If you claim that the LCs were a move of God at one point but were overtaken by so called liars, false prophets, and legalists then you’re questioning God’s ability to follow through and finish what He began. Because of that, not only is it not a false dichotomy, it’s the only dichotomy.
Can you be more specific about what you are saying the LC’s claim?

What comes to my mind is that they claim to be THE CHURCH, to the exclusion of everyone else. This is not true.

As I said in a previous post, I think God moves in individual people, not in a “move” in a “group”. Humans have been given free will to do any and all things they can dream up on this earth. God can move in anything. Is the Holocaust a “move of God”? Nope. But was God moving during and in the midst of the Holocaust? Yep. He’s always moving in individuals because He desires that no man perish.

It makes no sense to say that if the LC started out under God’s hand but then was taken over by false prophets that I’m questioning God’s ability to follow through and finish what He began. To be honest that conclusion sounds exactly like the kind the co-workers make in their posts on shepherdingwords.com. The “If you question us you are questioning God’s deputy authority!!!!!” type.

So of course, no, I’m not questioning God’s ability. Because look at Adam and Eve, man. The creation of Adam and Eve was most definitely, undeniably, unequivocally a “move of God”, but things went south. No one, however, is questioning God’s ability to follow through and finish what He began in that regard. It seems you are taking the short view of things. God finishes what He begins, bro.

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Trapped, you don’t have to choose but you’re lack of resolve will only work to delay the inevitable.
I don’t have a lack of resolve, and you are vague on what “the inevitable” is.

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If we are going to use garden analogies then let’s also include the seeds which fell among the thorns.

In Corinth, the group of believers were putting up with those preaching mistruths but the implication is that there was still a majority adhering to the gospel as Paul taught it. Because of this, Corinth would accurately portray tares among the wheat.

In the LC’s however what I’ve seen were a larger majority adhering to community centered around special revelation along with small minority of baby Christians whom became ensnared by the group for the purpose of furthering that ideology. This group represents the thorns that choke out the seedlings.
Yeah, while the thorn verses are said to represent the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches, I don’t have a problem with what you’re saying here, necessarily. The LC’s do choke the word.

I can’t speak to the maturity of the set of believers in any group. I also can’t speak to at what point the false vs genuine ratio within any given group determines its legitimacy or not. At what point does the saturation level of real believers in a group render that group “genuine”? Only God knows.

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I agree, it’s a great practice to refer to scripture just as long as you don’t use it solely for rebuking but also use it for personal conviction. Otherwise using the scriptures so one-sidedly you risk misusing them for condemnation rather than for encouragement.
Agreed. The nature of the topic of this thread just lends itself a little more to the rebuking side of things.

Can you use some scripture to encourage me please? I could use it, sorely.

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Whether you’re seeking the moral high ground or not, statements like the ones above portray high-mindedness.
Well, that’s very kind of you to say, Jo S.

But it’s not true. It’s not high-mindedness at all. I can say that because I myself am part of the very category you think I was condemning. I’m naïve myself. I spent many years in the local church thinking that the problem was me. Wondering why God hated me. I trusted what I had been told for my whole life. I didn’t know anything different. I was just naïve.

It was just a statement that there are simply different types of people on this earth. Some are born in the clouds. Some are born with both feet on the ground. Some are born doubting and critical. Some are born trusting and naïve. We all know this.

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No one comes to God unless He draws them. It’s only by God’s grace that we know Him and His truth and not through our own “critical thinking abilities” lest we should boast. Even the most brilliant individuals get caught up in these kinds of groups.
Agreed. One of Cal’s latest videos – I think the one showing Steve Hassan’s interview – noted this fact and it’s one that confounded me for some time. How are there brilliant, driven, intelligent, whip-smart people in the local churches? Well, because mind control is effective, and there are numerous controlling doctrines in the group that ensnare the gamut of people in them. It is truly by God’s grace that anyone can see through them and get out from their snare.

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With that said, did you know that Mormons also call each other ”brothers” and “saints”? They are after all the “church of latter day saints”. Would you consider them brothers and saints as well?
I don’t know enough about Mormons or JWs or many other similar groups to be able to make any informed statements.

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Please understand that groups use these kinds of terms as unifiers toward a common cause but outside of that specific cause this level of affection is non-existent. That’s a sign that the movement isn’t based on God’s love for His church but a love for group exclusivity.

A hard but necessary question to ask is; do these people really love the Lord or do they value community over the truth? If it's the Lord then do you believe His love would keep them in a "destructive controlling group"? Is it really critical thinking skills that people lack or could it be a lack of love toward God and His truth?
Great questions.

To be honest, some of what people lack is simply information. If you don’t know what thought-control is, you don’t even know to look for it. If you don’t know what spiritual manipulation is, you probably won’t know when you are being spiritually manipulated.

It is a hard question to ask. Your question actually touches slightly upon the problem of suffering or the problem of evil. Do I believe His love would keep them in a destructive controlling group? This kind of thing can keep me up at night. God can allow many things, even in love. One brother said to me that God might allow things to happen to us, even painful things, to show us that nothing else matters but His voice. We are looking at things at a snapshot in time, and I don’t know what plans the Lord has. God kept me in a destructive controlling group for a time, even one that made me hate Him for years. And at a certain point in time He ramped things up and ejected me outta there.

I think there is a valuing of community over truth, undeniably. I think they love the Lord within parameters, which isn’t a full love of the Lord, I guess. Don’t hold me over the fire on my answers on this one…..this is a question which I don’t have answers to. I have so many conflicting experiences in this regard from years in the church, I am still in the process of sorting it out.

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Jesus speaks of two things in judging, “ways” and “measures”. The manner in which you present your argument is that God will judge you for a specific sin only when you judge others for the same sin. That’s not true. God will judge your sins no matter if you’ve judged others for the same. This verse has nothing to do with what sin is being judged but by which manner and measure you are judging by.

So the question is; do you first properly examine your own heart before criticizing your brother? If the Local Churches teach the same, well good; then do as they say and not as they do. Or will you throw the baby out along with the bath water?
Well, that’s the manner you read into my argument, but it’s not what I meant. It’s just the nature of written forums is all. Obviously I don’t mean that God will only judge a sin when we judge others for the same sin. Of course God will judge each and every one of our own sins even if we never judge a single sin of another person. That seems too obvious to state but I guess I need to state it. One Bible commentary says this, which encapsulates what I meant to say but better than I managed to say it:

“…the severity which we have unjustly meted out to others, becomes, by a retributive law, the measure of that which is justly dealt out to us.”

Yes, examination of our own hearts is the point of those verses. Otherwise we are judging hypocritically.

I do think we are in agreement on this point but somehow managing to speak past each other.

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John mentions the heresy of Docetism but the main focus of this chapter when viewed in its entire context is “the teaching of Christ”. So what is the teaching of Christ? This cannot be referring to Christ coming in flesh as that was apparent to those which were with Jesus when he walked the earth so Christ did not need to teach he was a real flesh and blood human. Rather John is referring to the two commandments which Christ taught; love God and love you neighbor.

So now ask yourself; do the Local Churches love the Body of Christ or do they only extend their warmth to those within their group? The overwhelming consensus to that is that they do in fact lack love toward the Body of Christ in practice and in speech.

When you disregard one commandment you disregard the other. By this, shunning the Local Church does in fact line up with 2 John 1.
I can see where you are coming from on this one, and to be honest, it’s a fair point I’ve never considered. The implications are significant and I need to spend some time thinking about it as it applies to my own life. As a whole, resoundingly no, the local churches do not love the BofX or extend their warmth to those not within their group. On the individual level, there are some who do, but as a group, they are cold to those outside it. And what you do to others you do to God, so yes, the implications are weighty.

And if I bring in your angle of personally examining before taking action, this is a very hard one to do. I admit I don’t love everyone myself, and yet I would be judging the LC’s for doing the same.

Maybe that’s why I prefer to deal with their doctrines because I am not the hypocrite when going after their doctrines, but I am when going after their lack of love.

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People aren’t slaves to legalism, they are slaves to sin. Christ sets Christians free from condemnation but not from conscience. You’re still expected to honor the commandments. Legalism is a sign and manifestation of sin within a group collective. The goal isn’t to flee legalism, it’s to do something you were not taught in the Local Churches; that is, to repent and believe in the Jesus of scripture. That applies to abusive authority as well. This is the only way you'll be freed from legalism in good conscience.
Of course people are slaves to legalism, but that does not preclude being a slave to sin too. Legalism produces a false guilt within people where their conscience is actually silent, and I can tell you from experience that it is an absolute enslavement. Wherever it is in the Bible Jesus is given grief about not washing his hands or requiring others to do so is an example of that. Hand-washing isn’t sin. It’s a commandment of men. It’s legalism. You can absolutely be a slave to it. Although I supposed in that case, legalistic hand-washing becomes a sin because it denies the truth that Christ came to set us free?

Christ came to set us free from the condemnation of sin and death, but also from oppression, and not just the oppression of sin and/or death. All kinds of oppression. He proclaimed release to the captives, sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, freedom for those who are oppressed. This is the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom with His mouth, and then turned around and demonstrated it with His actions in healing people and releasing them. I understand all these oppressions are the result of the fall. But these oppressions are not sins in themselves. In other words, Jesus came to release people from their sins and condemnation eternally, but also from their afflictions and oppressions temporally.

While THE goal may not be to flee legalism, it’s a pretty good sub-goal. Jesus rebuked and was harshly critical of it in the Bible.

Don’t leave the forum or this thread. Just use pronouns like “we” rather than “you” sometimes. Or “my perspective is” rather than “your perspective must be”. Or when speaking of others, say, “it seems like” rather that “it is a fact”. That’s all. Your input is valuable.
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Old 05-24-2020, 10:57 AM   #10
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

Jo S,

Pursuant to the title of this thread, what is your view on the responsibility of Christians related to aberrant or abusive groups (specifically the LC)?

We've talked about the legitimacy of the LC as well as self-examination, both of which you have your position on. So based on your own positions and viewpoint, which I'm not asking you to change, what do you think the responsibility of those who leave the LC is, recognizing that some who leave the LC still treat it as a legitimate group and some who leave don't?

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Old 05-28-2020, 04:13 AM   #11
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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Pursuant to the title of this thread, what is your view on the responsibility of Christians related to aberrant or abusive groups (specifically the LC)?

Trapped
As a new believer, excited about Jesus for the first time in my life, I tried to help one of my younger brothers (I have 4 bros and 4 sis) who was visiting with the Jehovah Witnesses. I knew JW was off, and told my brother. I even read a book, something like, "When I was a WatchTower Slave," and was successful in helping him to be "set free." So I had become a "successful apologetic" in my first endeavor. I had rescued my brother, much to the joy of my dear mother, but I really had failed, since he never was brought to the Lord. My brother was freed, but not really free.

So many in those days were getting saved. I went to Ohio State, but my cousins went to Kent State, a hotbed of belligerant thought. Instead of rejoicing in our new shared love for the Savior, endless interrogations of the faith began. They embarked on radical apologetics and I was in the Local Church. Twice my cousin ruined the weddings of my siblings for me with his obsessions. He was like the dogs that followed apostle Paul around.

We were never called to set people straight. Our calling is to help others to know the Lord. Apologetics often lose sight of the gospel of God's love. Like Ephesus in Rev 2, the Recovery, me and my cousin, it is easy to become a zealot for truths, yet in the process miss God's love for actual people. I have often asked myself why am I here on the forum, and constantly must redirect my own course. It always comes back to this simple statement, people got hurt and need help.
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Old 05-28-2020, 10:05 AM   #12
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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We were never called to set people straight. Our calling is to help others to know the Lord. Apologetics often lose sight of the gospel of God's love. Like Ephesus in Rev 2, the Recovery, me and my cousin, it is easy to become a zealot for truths, yet in the process miss God's love for actual people. I have often asked myself why am I here on the forum, and constantly must redirect my own course. It always comes back to this simple statement, people got hurt and need help.
Great post Ohio! Unfortuneately, I didn't see it until right after I made aron's post the "featured post", otherwise this would have been in that slot. (not taking away anything from aron's great post!)

The thoughts you have expressed here reminded my of something Tim Keller wrote:

Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us, but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.

I can't remember the context of this excerpt, but I think I would alter it slightly for our purposes by saying: Love, expressed without the underpinning of truth, may be mere sentimentality, and may ostensibly affirm us, but leave us in denial about our ignorance and weaknesses. Truth, presented as mere information, and not as speaking the truth in love, may cause us to turn a deaf ear, and never be set free by the truth.

I heartily agree that part of our calling is to help people know the Lord, but we first must know the Lord ourselves, else we be found to be as "the blind leading the blind". Genuine theology should always lead us to know the Lord. Genuine apologetics should always lead us to know the Lord. I know this because I have observed this first hand, and I have experienced this first hand. Does that mean that the theologians and apologists have been perfect in their teachings and presentations? Of course not. The late Ravi Zacharias is a good example. He presented the Gospel in such an uncompromising, yet deeply compassionate way, that even the most hardened and steadfast critics were disarmed, and many were saved.


Again, I feel pressed to take us back to the opening post:
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What is the responsibility of Christians in responding to aberrant or abusive groups, ministries and leadership, particularly those which abuse authority to bully and control believers?
Given the many Old Testament verses exhorting God's people to defend the defenseless, stand up to oppressors and seek justice, do such commands carry over into the New Testament age and, and if so, how to we fulfill them?
My, my, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since this first post! Maybe Cal can come back and pick up where he left off here. Mr. Cal has a way of getting us back to making the main thing the main thing.
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Old 05-28-2020, 11:09 AM   #13
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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Great post Ohio! Unfortuneately, I didn't see it until right after I made aron's post the "featured post", otherwise this would have been in that slot. (not taking away anything from aron's great post!)

The thoughts you have expressed here reminded my of something Tim Keller wrote:

Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us, but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.
Three awesome posts in a row, by Aron, Ohio and you (UntoHim)! It makes me feel like I do with my Thursday bros, and often let them know that I am truly privileged to be amongst such ones . . . ones who are focused on speaking Christ and His love! (and please remind me of that when we're in the middle of the next food fight! )

This quote from Tim Keller is most telling and insightful, isn't it!? Love and truth - one without the other is an unturned cake (to use one of my favorite phrases of late). Scripture is so wise to encourage us to "speak the truth in love"! Having either one alone can produce harmful effects.

In terms of the LC (since we are on the LCD forum), the LC fell into the error of the later part of this saying, that is, "Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it." I think the fruit of that became evident in LC teachings and practice, which we experienced and are now testifying of on here.
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Old 05-24-2020, 12:27 PM   #14
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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Don’t leave the forum or this thread. Just use pronouns like “we” rather than “you” sometimes. Or “my perspective is” rather than “your perspective must be”. Or when speaking of others, say, “it seems like” rather that “it is a fact”. That’s all. Your input is valuable.
The prize for the longest, most detailed and thoughtful response goes to . . . . Trapped!

Really good responses from both UntoHim & Trapped. And let me say I hope Jo doesn't leave the conversation or forum either! Anybody can have a style of communicating that may grate on certain others. I'm sure that my most wonderful communication style might even be conceived of as (if this was really even possible) bothering someone else slightly on perhaps one or two occasions.

But Trapped, I liked that you gave some very practical examples at the end. For instance, one sure way to put someone immediately on the defensive unnecessarily is by saying "YOU think this!" or "YOU do that!" And stating things like, "It seems to me . . ." and "My opinion is . . ." is also really good coaching me thinks! Again, bravo and well said (in my most very humble opinion)
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:59 PM   #15
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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I don’t know of anyone who goes about knocking down a building by starting with the foundation. They start with other “secondary” areas (roofs, walls, supports, etc), which causes the whole thing to crumble upon its foundation. Would you try to knock down the Sydney Opera House by hacking away at its foundation? It makes no sense. I realize I’m speaking of a physical building, but I think the comparison is strong enough that I don’t need to elaborate.

The other side is, you may be able to convince people that its foundation was bad, but they will just throw the “recovery” word at you and say initial beginnings or bad foundations don’t mean that God can’t come in to recover a bad start. It just won’t go anywhere. You have to show that the structure itself is bad too.

It’s also been around in the US for 60+ years or whatever. Many people within it now had nothing to do with its initial beginnings and that part is therefore mostly meaningless to them as a factor to leave. America had some sordid beginnings in its treatment and takeover of the Native Americans and their land, but does anyone de-legitimize America for that now?

I think knowing that the foundation was bad is one more ax-blow to knocking the tree down, but it seems to me that in itself is it not sufficient to affect people without the other stuff.

I'd like to amend this part of my post a few posts back. I think Jo S's point about the foundation is more valid that I gave him credit for, but we were just looking at the situation from different "heights". I was viewing it as if I was someone still within it, or as if I was 100 feet above it, while Jo S was viewing it as from someone on the International Space Station looking down. All valid, but just different viewpoints. I think the ISS looking down is too far out from where the average LC-er is to render them meaningful help when they are in it. It's incredibly valuable, but would be like explaining the genome to a 2 year old. Those who are in it would have to come to another place before they can be taken that high up. Baby steps before putting them on a rocket ship.

I believe Jo S will not be returning, which is a big loss. But the thread is still here and is, at least to me, one of the most important topics on the forum. Any input from anyone else is greatly coveted. My question in post #37 stands for anyone to respond to.
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Old 05-27-2020, 01:20 PM   #16
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

My personal answer is that my responsibility as a Christian is to find the truth. So I confess Jesus as risen, then what? What is my course? My path? It's not about the LC or any aberrant group. What is my path? Where do I find the truth or reality of the wounded, slain, and risen Lord, now ascendant above all that is named, or can be named? That alone matters.

Now in that journey I may rebuke and expose. I may quietly bear with something yucky. But only the journey matters.

For me, since leaving the LC, it's come down to this. He left us with a few simple rules. Believe, pray. Love your neighbor. Take the least place.

I've told my story 50 times, but it's my story, what else can I tell. I was with the FTTA. The Trainer (whom I believe still runs the place) said, "Don't waste your time" on the aged and the sick. I raised my hand, and spoke. Scripture shows me something else. Do I pretend that I can't read the Bible? No, I spoke up.

Steve Isitt spoke up. Jane Anderson spoke up (not that I am comparing myself to them. My journey is mine and theirs is theirs. I can't wear someone else's) Jo and Greg Casteel spoke up. Everyone on this forum is trying to speak up. Max Rappoport spoke up. John Ingalls spoke up. Don Rutledge spoke up. And I am grateful for every voice.

But everyone has to speak their own portion of truth. God is wise, and distributes as He sees fit. Everyone has a part of the truth, equally precious. Nobody is despised in God's sight.

I've come to see, over the years, that the world probably isn't going to follow my truth, my journey of discovery. But I have to follow it. And I find that sometimes, in that journey, a voice says, Speak up.
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:33 PM   #17
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

I like what you said here . . . simple and real. Can't add much to that other than AMEN!
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Old 06-07-2020, 12:00 PM   #18
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Default Speaking up for Jo and Greg Casteel

At this time last year Joanna Casteel was in the process of communicating her deep and heartfelt concerns to local church leaders, full-time graduates, and other local church members.

She would soon make an announcement to them in a letter that according to her and her husband's conviction of there being undealt-with sins in the leadership and other egregious church matters, they could no longer meet with the Local Churches. They hoped to convey their concerns in a spirit of love and that love would prevail in the ensuing days, with meaningful dialogue and genuine fellowship issuing in fruitful gain for the church.


Albeit, this couple was aware of the history of Local Church authorities and their propensity to make the lives of those who speak out exceedingly unpleasant.


On June 9th, 2019 Joanna Casteel's letter went out by email both to the primary recipients and also onto a social media forum.


Before God and man, she shared responsibly and with a clear conscience about her church life experience,


Both she and Greg, her husband, had sensed the Lord's leading concerning her letter and together they signed it. Then they braced themselves.

But what they would face was even beyond the scope of their expectation. It was, in a word, A NIGHTMARE. And, I think its trauma and tragic results warrants our grave review today.

From what I understand, Jo initially was just going to send the letter to her parents and let them know of their plan to leave the Local Churches. I didn't know her at that time but thought to contact her and encourage her to talk things over first, with her parents and a couple of leading ones. And I also wanted to share with her my experience of writing a letter to leaders and how that was handled. (My letter was without any thought of leaving, rather it was to encourage bringing the matters of my concern into fellowship.) But I saw the next day she had gone ahead to post her letter publicly.

At that point, I still thought this could have a positive consummation through fellowship in the Body with those who love the Lord, including her parents, leaders, and certain other members of His Body, even those who were closer to her...


BUT the letter had ⁰hit like a bombshell and church authorities quickly went into damage control mode, "circling the wagons" and then launching an "offensive of their own that ultimately snuffed out the life of the sister, her family, and the "rebellion", so it was called. It also contributed very much to the fateful end of her husband's life by suicide.


Ron Kangas

On July 5 Ron Kangas warned of a new rebellion taking place "right now" and that it is being led by today's Miriam, a "leprous sister". His speaking was not of the Lord and was a great shock and a setback for Jo and Greg Casteel.

They had been already inundated with email, and heard Mark Raabe's message featuring death. So a tone had been set and RK's message would bring the whole approach to the Casteels to the lowest place, even their slide into Sheoul, if he could make it happen. This was his thought process in the words, spirit, and realm he operates in when executing "God's government" according to the darkened "local church" concept of spiritual authority.

He ministered no life whatsoever in his feigned assumption of being a deputy authority of God. He neither expressed God nor represented Him and therefore gave the false impression that his action against the Casteels was God's action against them. It was not of Him, for God does not seek to devour people, His Adversary does this and is always seeking someone to devour. It is his life and nature to do so, and the lives of Greg and Jo Casteel would spiral downward from that point.

Ron Kangas explains, in his superficial way, her case, and also mine - briefly, publicly, and erroneously early this year in the Philippines and in Phoenix.

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June 7, 2020
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Old 06-08-2020, 02:59 AM   #19
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Default Re: Responsibility Of Christians In Responding To Aberrant/Abusive Groups

Dear students of life. Put on your lab coats, pull out your clipboards and pens and checklists. Put on your magnification spectacles. What we are observing here through Indiana' testimony is some clear, real-life specimens of MALIGNANT NARCISSISTS in full bloom, expressed through their conduct in the LC.

Take careful note. The malignant narcissist cannot be crossed or doubted, or all hell will be loosed on one's head. Learn well, as the MN is the most toxic and harmful type in the human species.... No-one wants to have to learn this lesson twice.

There is only one unified expert opinion of this personality type amongst the professional community: KEEP AWAY from the malignant narcissist. LEARN the pattern so you can more easily identify them in future. DON'T try to reason, argue, fight with or change them. They will only try to destroy you... Just get away and keep away, and NEVER ever live in ignorance of their existence again. BE GRATEFUL for what you escaped with, rather than angsting about your loss, as their intention was to do worse to you than they got to. Dreadful but true.
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Old 06-08-2020, 05:41 AM   #20
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Default Re: Responsibility Of Christians In Responding To Aberrant/Abusive Groups

Wow! This is crazy. So out of character from your thoughtful posts in the past.

Taking cue from our toxic society, just tag them with the absolute worst smear you can dream up. Like screaming "racist" in a mob of angry protesters.

In the O.T. the worst label was "leper," then in the N.T. it was "heretic," but now we have moved into a new millennia labeling others "malignant narcissists." Not addressing one specific leader for some unrighteous behavior, but a broad brush characterization upon all LC opponents. Shall we do the same with the Exclusives, the Amish, and so many others? Do not they also practice their religion the same way?

I am not justifying any LC behavior, but you seem to have lost sight of Jesus' command to "love your enemy."
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Old 06-08-2020, 09:32 AM   #21
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Default Re: Responsibility Of Christians In Responding To Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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In the O.T. the worst label was "leper," then in the N.T. it was "heretic," but now we have moved into a new millennia labeling others "malignant narcissists." Not addressing one specific leader for some unrighteous behavior, but a broad brush characterization upon all LC opponents.
Ohio, your quote was that the LC turns brothers into bullies... "malignant narcissist" is a more scientific way of saying "bully".

From the DSM-5: "Delusions of grandeur are associated with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which is a mental health diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A narcissistic personality may cause people to greatly overestimate their own importance and believe in their own uniqueness."

Voila - "in each age, there is one person who is Deputy God, the Seer of the Divine Revelation..." who convinces others to do his/her will, and the One True Recovered Church is born.
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Old 06-08-2020, 11:59 AM   #22
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Ohio, your quote was that the LC turns brothers into bullies... "malignant narcissist" is a more scientific way of saying "bully".
You can't distinguish between a "bully" and a "malignant narcissist?"

Makes "Raca" and "Moreh" sound like sweet nothings between lovers. (Matt 5.22)

In today's virtue signaling culture you sure scored some points here.
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Old 06-08-2020, 06:03 AM   #23
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Default Re: Responsibility Of Christians In Responding To Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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Dear students of life. Put on your lab coats, pull out your clipboards and pens and checklists. Put on your magnification spectacles. What we are observing here through Indiana' testimony is some clear, real-life specimens of MALIGNANT NARCISSISTS in full bloom, expressed through their conduct in the LC.
Take careful note. The malignant narcissist cannot be crossed or doubted, or all hell will be loosed on one's head. Learn well, as the MN is the most toxic and harmful type in the human species.... No-one wants to have to learn this lesson twice.
Better to listen to Curious further.......Its not a subject that is going away.... It is not a matter of not loving your enemy, but of zeroing in on a huge mental problem!
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Old 06-08-2020, 08:49 AM   #24
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Default Re: Responsibility Of Christians In Responding To Aberrant/Abusive Groups

Curious's post actually has great merit, and is true. It is well known that narcissists (not the generic "looks in a mirror all the time", but as a known personality disorder/type with detrimental qualities) often gravitate towards jobs in church ministry due to the inherent status it affords them. I can absolutely 100% say I have encountered abusive narcissists in the local church leadership.

It is true that the majority opinion is that "nothing will help a narcissist". They are so manipulative, so controlling, so deceptive that they can even run rings around trained therapists and end up teaming up with them against their spouse who is on the verge of a breakdown due to their partner's narcissistic behaviors.

Traits?

No remorse. Can never admit to wrongdoing. Lies. "Everyone is out to get me". Blame you for the literal very harmful thing they themselves did to you. Deny reality. Charismatic and your best friend until they turn on you at the drop of a hat. They usually go after kind, empathetic, caring people and absolutely wring them dry. Uses you, abuses you, and loses you.

Of all the material I've watched on the topic and all the commentary I've read, every single one of them was this: "they made my life a living hell, I may never recover, run from them as fast as you possibly can. they will never, ever change."

Unfortunately, they match up quite well with the people described in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Have nothing to do with such people. Or, "from these turn away", as some translations put it.

There was only ONE comment that indicated any hope for an abusive narcissist (or someone with NPD - narcissistic personality disorder). Talking to them won't help. Logic won't help. Reason won't help. Literally recording their behavior and playing it back to them won't help them admit to something they did that is on literal record!

The one comment was "I know of one narcissist who changed for the better after coming to Jesus Christ. Only He could change them."

What this means for those who profess to be Christians but still display malignant narcissism, I'm not sure. A "blinding light to Saul on the road" type encounter with God may be the only thing we can pray for.

But what it means for this thread is that those who are speaking up and/or speaking out can temper their expectations. In other words, understand that the leadership might be a lost cause, but that you are not speaking out for their sake, but for those under their thumb who are NOT narcissists who can hear what you are saying.
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Old 06-08-2020, 11:57 PM   #25
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Default Re: Responsibility Of Christians In Responding To Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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Dear students of life. Put on your lab coats, pull out your clipboards and pens and checklists. Put on your magnification spectacles. What we are observing here through Indiana' testimony is some clear, real-life specimens of MALIGNANT NARCISSISTS in full bloom, expressed through their conduct in the LC.

Ok Curious - I put on my lab coat and my audio stethoscope and here is what I found to be the case with one of the major specimens in LC leadership:


Ron Kangas: a man after Cain's own heart? (or peek inside a black hole for 5min and live to tell about it)

https://youtu.be/afwjeLFuy8c


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Old 06-09-2020, 07:18 AM   #26
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Default Re: Responsibility Of Christians In Responding To Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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What is the responsibility of Christians in responding to aberrant or abusive groups, ministries and leadership, particularly those which abuse authority to bully and control believers?
Given the many Old Testament verses exhorting God's people to defend the defenseless, stand up to oppressors and seek justice, do such commands carry over into the New Testament age and, and if so, how to we fulfill them?
I believe the first paragraph above is inextricably linked to the second. Our responsibility, as believers, is to defend the defenseless, stand up to oppressors and seek justice at every turn...no matter the cost to us. And this goes for the defenseless among us in the Body of Christ. Who stood up to oppressors more than our Lord Jesus Christ? Who sought justice more than our Lord Jesus Christ? Is the slave greater than the master? Shall we not also stand up to the oppressors at every turn? Shall we not seek justice at every turn? The Father demanded justice, the Son fulfilled the demands of justice, and now "we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". (Romans 5:1) Our God has done his part, and now it is time for us to do our part with whatever time, resources and talents that God has given.

Our "responsibility in responding to" our brothers and sisters in the Local Church of Witness Lee may look different for each one of us. For some, it may be boldly and publicly speaking out on venues such as our forum here. For others, it may be working "behind the scenes" through intimate fellowship with those with whom we have a personal relationship. For some others it may be simply watching and praying. What is not profitable, for God or man, is for us to sit on our hands and "hide our talent in the ground". If we do this we are disrespecting the Master by shrugging off our responsibilities to God, and also to the other members of the Body of Christ - specifically to our brothers and sisters in the Local Church.

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