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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 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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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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"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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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, 01:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

Jo S, while I understand the spirit of what you are saying, which maybe could summarized as "speak the truth in love, don't speak the truth out of vengeance or anger or retribution", I'm afraid what you've said so far implies too strongly that we have to be pure ourselves before we can say anything. In which case we'll be silent for a long time.

Okay, there are no explicit verses titled "steps to take before you speak up about destructive controlling groups", but there are verses relevant to the topic.

2 Corinthians 11:19-20
You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face.


Paul is giving the Corinthians grief that they would put up with the false apostles who treat them wrongly. He's almost mocking them that they would submit to mistreatment. Did he say the Corinthians need to be pure in heart before doing so? No.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15
And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.


In these verses just prior, Paul readily admits he is taking action to "cut the ground" from under the false apostles. He also is explicitly calling out the false apostles' presence and actions in this letter to the entire Corinthian church.

Ephesians 5:11
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.


Covering them up is having something to do with them. Knowing about them and doing nothing is allowing them to continue, and having something to do with them. Fruitless deeds of darkness are to be exposed.

Revelation 2:2
I know your deeds, your labor, and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and you have tested and exposed as liars those who falsely claim to be apostles.


This verse is to the church in Smyrna, against which the Lord had that they had abandoned their first love and had fallen to the depths that if they didn't do something about it, he would remove their lampstand.

I bring that verse up to make the point that we can still test and expose and call out liars and false apostles while not being perfect ourselves. Sure, we should not be hypocrites a la Matthew 7, but for the most part that's not hard because none of us are claiming to purveyors of the unique high truths or MOTAs or the head guy of the true church on earth or covering up abuses or spreading patently false doctrines that don't hold up against scripture.

The splinter/beam thing, at least according to the way I've always understood it, is not "clear up absolutely everything in your life first before you can say anything to others", but "clear up that same issue in your life first before you address it in others."

I just fear your stance makes it seem overly required for a fallen sinner to be perfectly pure before they feel they can say anything. The right way/wrong way seems a little too close to the favorite "proper/improper" categorization of the LC. Note that I don't disagree necessarily. I have seen people speak up about the LC that I wish with all my heart would zip their lips because their approach does more harm than good. But for those who are coming from the right place to start with, we don't have to be pure as driven snow to speak up. Although I think you did hit on that when you mentioned not criticizing them in the same way they have criticized. In other words, don't become what you are calling out. That is good advice.
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Old 05-20-2020, 01:08 PM   #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.

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 05-20-2020, 03:00 PM   #9
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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.
In the LC, verses like Matt 7:5 are often misapplied and used as a means to obstruct people from standing up for themselves or speaking out. Instead they want to keep people running around in circles wondering whether they are right with the Lord or not.

So many of the issues present in the LC and similar groups are related to things like deception, covering up, lying, etc. All of these types of problems are addressed not by remaining silent, but by speaking up. Remaining silent is what enables the abuse to keep happening, or for more people to become victimized by it.
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Old 05-20-2020, 04:30 PM   #10
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In the LC, verses like Matt 7:5 are often misapplied and used as a means to obstruct people from standing up for themselves or speaking out. Instead they want to keep people running around in circles wondering whether they are right with the Lord or not.

So many of the issues present in the LC and similar groups are related to things like deception, covering up, lying, etc. All of these types of problems are addressed not by remaining silent, but by speaking up. Remaining silent is what enables the abuse to keep happening, or for more people to become victimized by it.
Agreed.

I'm convinced that Matt 7.5 judging is related to hypocrisy, which Jesus regularly condemned. Today's virtue signaling comes close. It is the practice of condemning others for what you are doing yourself. It is the self-righteous judging Paul speaks to in Rom 1.5.

There are far too many verses in the Bible that exhort us to speak up, to not be silent, and to address the error we face. Especially the errors that hurt God's children.

If we must "judge not" at all times, then why didn't Peter condemn Paul in Antioch for judging him about who he ate with? (Gal 2.11-14) And why did John judge Diotrephes? (3 John 9-11) And why did Jesus Himself rebuke the Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers during His visit to Jerusalem?
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Old 05-20-2020, 04:33 PM   #11
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In the LC, verses like Matt 7:5 are often misapplied and used as a means to obstruct people from standing up for themselves or speaking out. Instead they want to keep people running around in circles wondering whether they are right with the Lord or not.

So many of the issues present in the LC and similar groups are related to things like deception, covering up, lying, etc. All of these types of problems are addressed not by remaining silent, but by speaking up. Remaining silent is what enables the abuse to keep happening, or for more people to become victimized by it.
Right, Matthew 7 is not commanding us NOT to judge, but HOW to judge. Judge, but not hypocritically. Don't judge others for the very things you do yourself. 7:5 TELLS us to take the speck out of our brothers eye! That's judging. We just can't judge someone for their anger issues while hiding the holes on our walls from the objects we threw at it in anger ourselves.

Absolutely more need to speak up. The problem with speaking up is they have tactics for that too.

If you are in the church and speak up, you are shunned, labeled, ostracized, ignored, shamed, told "you need to take life" and all the other controlling phrases.

And also you risk losing relationships with family members over your speaking up or even risk those family members enduring mistreatment themselves on your behalf even though they may not agree with you!

If you are out of the church and speak up, they announce you publicly and castigate you from their safe zone behind the microphone, call you evil and an opposer, and thus anyone left in the church who still speaks to you will then turn their backs on you out of fear.

The control is epically strong in that place.
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Old 05-20-2020, 04:42 PM   #12
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The control is epically strong in that place.
Yes, I agree. Terms like "perfecting" are successfully placed over shaming and even abuse. Control and manipulation is re-labeled as "taking the cross" and "restrictions". And there is a code of silence that the Mafia can only dream of. It is extremely powerful, multilayered, woven through with deceptive veils of coded language and culturally-reinforced expectations.
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Old 05-21-2020, 01:25 PM   #13
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Jo S, while I understand the spirit of what you are saying, which maybe could summarized as "speak the truth in love, don't speak the truth out of vengeance or anger or retribution", I'm afraid what you've said so far implies too strongly that we have to be pure ourselves before we can say anything. In which case we'll be silent for a long time.
Equating purity of heart to being “pure as the driven snow” is an exaggeration; I did after all use King David as the example to follow rather than walking on water as a prerequisite to exposing evil. Even so, if you think you are a Christian with the indwelling spirit of God, you’re already at an advantage to David. I would assume God expects even more from His children.

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Okay, there are no explicit verses titled "steps to take before you speak up about destructive controlling groups", but there are verses relevant to the topic….
If you’ve taken notice to what the majority of my posts here concern, they consist mainly of three things; the preaching of a false gospel, the preaching of a false Jesus, and refuting any doctrine that help support the those two. Knowing this you can conclude my overall view of the Local Churches; that being, just like the Mormons or JW’s, they are not a Christian group at all but one that veils their own ideology within a Christian worldview.

I agree we don’t have any verses telling us what steps to take before speaking up about “destructive controlling groups”, we only have the apostles addressing the Body of Christ, groups of believers that already adhered to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

This then leads me to the question; why do you hold the Local Churches up to scripture if they don’t even preach the true gospel in the first place? Aren’t you just working to validate them as a legitimate Christian group by doing so? Either they are led by “liars and false apostles” or they are a legitimate move of God. You have to choose. Or are you doing like they do and invoking scripture to justify your opposition by thinking you gain the moral high ground in doing so?


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I bring that verse up to make the point that we can still test and expose and call out liars and false apostles while not being perfect ourselves. Sure, we should not be hypocrites a la Matthew 7, but for the most part that's not hard because none of us are claiming to purveyors of the unique high truths or MOTAs or the head guy of the true church on earth or covering up abuses or spreading patently false doctrines that don't hold up against scripture.

The splinter/beam thing, at least according to the way I've always understood it, is not "clear up absolutely everything in your life first before you can say anything to others", but "clear up that same issue in your life first before you address it in others."

I just fear your stance makes it seem overly required for a fallen sinner to be perfectly pure before they feel they can say anything. The right way/wrong way seems a little too close to the favorite "proper/improper" categorization of the LC. Note that I don't disagree necessarily. I have seen people speak up about the LC that I wish with all my heart would zip their lips because their approach does more harm than good. But for those who are coming from the right place to start with, we don't have to be pure as driven snow to speak up. Although I think you did hit on that when you mentioned not criticizing them in the same way they have criticized. In other words, don't become what you are calling out. That is good advice.
Hypocrisy in the general sense of the term means claiming standards which do not meet up to your own behavior, but as far as the Christian faith is concerned avoiding hypocrisy entails much more than just that.

Jesus claimed that it wasn’t enough to not murder, he went deeper to the root or heart of the issue. In fact for a believer in Christ it means to even resist anger against your brother. If you thought that was hard enough, Jesus told us to go even further and to love those that persecute you.

By this the expectations for a Christian is higher than that of an unbeliever so when Christ speaks about hypocrisy it’s not enough that you don’t do what you are calling out. The question is; is your heart right and are you doing the right thing in its place by faith?

In a recent post you’ve claimed the Local Churches practice a damaging form of shunning. I don’t doubt that, but let me ask you this question; have you properly shunned them before speaking out against their practices (2 John 1:10)? Or do you still continue to meet with the group?

It's not enough that you choose not to shun anybody, it's whether you love God more than the group to the point you'd shun them biblically. If by staying you believe the Local Churches will change, then like you said, I’m afraid you’ll be waiting a long time…

Paul did in fact call out evil but this was only second to proclaiming the gospel. The local churches pointed out the faults of Christianity in self-righteousness while preaching a false gospel. The majority of posts here seem to be completely lacking the gospel. Which is better then, preaching a false gospel or no gospel at all?

In a greater sense does exposing evil matter if you do nothing to fill the void? Facts of abuse may lead someone out but it's God's truth that truly heals.

If you do leave by your own conviction then seek God and His forgiveness. Repent and believe in the Jesus you weren't taught in the LC's and then lead others out by example or you may find yourself years from now regurgitating the same things in vain all the while deceiving yourself into believing you are doing a service to others. The truth is without a heart transformed by the gospel your efforts will only work to poison others with your bitterness or at best validate each other’s own bitterness. Who benefits from that? It may help you but only for a little while until the pain resurfaces again...

If you do choose to go the social justice route, that’s perfectly fine, but then do like Steven Hassan does and examine the group purely from a psychological and sociological perspective. No need to appeal to scripture lest you risk misusing them. If you do, however, use scripture then make sure that you are living by its standards in preaching the gospel and loving your enemies in the process.

David prayed to have a new spirit and a new heart put in him so he could forgive his enemies but he never saw that day come to pass. The good news is that day is now here and it’s available to us yet so many reject that gift in favor of social reform because doing things the right way requires you to first take a good look in the mirror. More often than not the reflection staring back at you will be the very thing you're fighting against and that's too hard of a pill to swallow.
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Old 05-21-2020, 11:02 PM   #14
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If you are in the church and speak up, you are shunned, labeled, ostracized, ignored, shamed, told "you need to take life" and all the other controlling phrases.

And also you risk losing relationships with family members over your speaking up or even risk those family members enduring mistreatment themselves on your behalf even though they may not agree with you!

If you are out of the church and speak up, they announce you publicly and castigate you from their safe zone behind the microphone, call you evil and an opposer, and thus anyone left in the church who still speaks to you will then turn their backs on you out of fear.

The control is epically strong in that place.
Wow, that is evil. I didn't know this part was as bad as you've described. It helps explain the extreme stress on my 'link' to the LC at the time I stopped meeting, and that persons desperate attempts to retrieve me. So much fear and shame at stake for them.

I am disgusted afresh. Behind the facade is everything that would entrap, enslave subjicate and enslave. And I met with them for so long and they kept it so well hidden!!... for the most part. When I stopped I still had no idea how bad it ultimately is.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:44 AM   #15
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Wow, that is evil. I didn't know this part was as bad as you've described. It helps explain the extreme stress on my 'link' to the LC at the time I stopped meeting, and that persons desperate attempts to retrieve me. So much fear and shame at stake for them.

I am disgusted afresh. Behind the facade is everything that would entrap, enslave subjicate and enslave. And I met with them for so long and they kept it so well hidden!!... for the most part. When I stopped I still had no idea how bad it ultimately is.
In my case, I left over some things that had the potential for a simple resolution, but seeing the way that everything went down afterwards just showed me how toxic the whole thing was. I had two consecutive situations where people were being purposely disrespectful towards me. I had done what I thought was best as far as standing up for myself. Because the problem continued despite that, I felt that it was necessary to just leave abruptly, and I didn’t feel that I owed anyone an explanation. I did, however, mention a few things that I was upset about to a LC family member.

Because I never communicated anything to anyone else as to why I had left, there was obviously some discussion floating around about me afterward. Then that at some point the family member attempted to relay some of my concerns to people who were asking about me (unbeknownst to me). I think they did that probably because everyone was pressing them or questioning them as to why I left, even though any one of these people could have reached out to me directly if they wanted to talk.

So then what I found out later was that there were all these assumptions about me. Not only that, the family member who was in position of relaying ‘negative’ information to LCers probably had no realization that messengers tend to get shot.

It’s just crazy to see the outcome of some of these situations knowing there were so many opportunities for LCers to deescalate or work towards some alternative resolution. Even recently when Jo’s letter was posted, it basically represented a decision to go public right away, knowing that trying to go through all the normal ‘prerequisite’ steps would still have resulted in the same outcome. That is really telling, when members realize that if they speak out or leave, they already know exactly how the LC is going to react.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:40 AM   #16
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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If you are in the church and speak up, you are shunned, labeled, ostracized, ignored, shamed, told "you need to take life" and all the other controlling phrases.

And also you risk losing relationships with family members over your speaking up or even risk those family members enduring mistreatment themselves on your behalf even though they may not agree with you!
This just reminds me so much of what I've read and seen in documentaries about the Amish. But I don't know that even they would go so far as to shun or somehow punish a family member!!

If you could fast forward a hundred years (presuming this present age lasts that long) and the LC was still around (unlikely), it would be interesting to see what they would look like. I bet they'd give the Amish a run for their money!
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:50 AM   #17
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In my case, I left over some things that had the potential for a simple resolution, but seeing the way that everything went down afterwards just showed me how toxic the whole thing was. I had two consecutive situations where people were being purposely disrespectful towards me.
Perhaps a simple apology extended to you could have easily cleared up the two situations.

But, no, that would be impossible.

Why? Simple. They believe they are God's best, His sole testimony on earth. All others are pitiful and degraded. They can apologize, but not us!

Oh the arrogant pride coming from the top, and leavening the whole lump!
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:41 AM   #18
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If you’ve taken notice to what the majority of my posts here concern, they consist mainly of three things; the preaching of a false gospel, the preaching of a false Jesus, and refuting any doctrine that help support the those two. Knowing this you can conclude my overall view of the Local Churches; that being, just like the Mormons or JW’s, they are not a Christian group at all but one that veils their own ideology within a Christian worldview.

I agree we don’t have any verses telling us what steps to take before speaking up about “destructive controlling groups”, we only have the apostles addressing the Body of Christ, groups of believers that already adhered to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

This then leads me to the question; why do you hold the Local Churches up to scripture if they don’t even preach the true gospel in the first place? Aren’t you just working to validate them as a legitimate Christian group by doing so?
It's an interesting question you've asked. You are right that I'm treating them as part of the church and thus subject to Biblical principles. I'll just think out loud here, so give me a little grace as I work through it.

I suppose since they themselves are claiming to be a legitimate Christian group, and not only part of the church but THE church itself, then I would "play the game" by holding them up to their own supposed principles. This is kind of the approach Ravi Zacharias and other apologists take sometimes in disproving the materialistic worldview, for example. They would assume the opposing position as true and show how it crumbles by undoing it from the inside. Self-defeating. This way, they LC is undone by their own hand. Hoist on their own petard, as it were. That's just one approach. You take their own stance and dismantle them using their own stand. This appeals to the thinkers in the group, of which there still are some.

Another approach is to begin by taking the position that they are not a legitimate Christian group. If you start out by negating the very thing they think they are, though, you also may lose a lot of people who might otherwise be willing to listen, even if you are right to negate them.

However, go back to 2 Corinthians 11 and take a look again. Paul says in verse 4:

"For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough."

Paul is talking about the Corinthians who have received a false gospel, false Jesus, different spirit, and are putting up with it. I think this is an accurate comparison to the local church. He doesn't shun the Corinthians as you seem to be suggesting would need to happen.

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Either they are led by “liars and false apostles” or they are a legitimate move of God. You have to choose. Or are you doing like they do and invoking scripture to justify your opposition by thinking you gain the moral high ground in doing so?
It's a false dichotomy to say that the only two options are a legit move of God or led by liars and false apostles, so no, I don't have to choose.

I think God moves in individual people, not in the "this group of people is a move of God" type way.

The field of wheat has tares sown among the wheat. There is no field of only wheat and field of only tares, one or the other. This is why leaving the group is such a deep internal struggle for many. It's a mixture of light and darkness.

No, there's definitely no thought in me that I'm gaining some kind of moral high ground in anything. The thought in me is much more along the lines of "what is my responsibility here?" and "how, as a Christian, am I called to behave in this situation?"

I think it's a pretty good practice for one of the steps to be to ask "does Scripture have anything to say about this?" before doing something like speaking publicly and exposing certain things, whether a genuine church or not. I personally am not a rash person and would hope to have some solid Biblical footing before doing something like that. Even though I would be speaking the truth, the exposing of numerous things in the local churches would have incredibly detrimental and reverberating effects. Some people depend on the local church for their lives and social support, and genuinely have no clue what's going on on the inside, and simply don't have the complex thought processes to see past the controlling teachings. They just love the Lord and love the saints and have simply never had an experience to show them anything otherwise. They are naive, not malicious. None of that excuses the other stuff that's going on in the LC, and none of it means that what is in the darkness shouldn't come to light, but these are all things I would be highly aware of, and simply think it's good to start with the Bible. Considering the repercussions up front can shape your approach.

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Hypocrisy in the general sense of the term means claiming standards which do not meet up to your own behavior, but as far as the Christian faith is concerned avoiding hypocrisy entails much more than just that.

Jesus claimed that it wasn’t enough to not murder, he went deeper to the root or heart of the issue. In fact for a believer in Christ it means to even resist anger against your brother. If you thought that was hard enough, Jesus told us to go even further and to love those that persecute you.

By this the expectations for a Christian is higher than that of an unbeliever so when Christ speaks about hypocrisy it’s not enough that you don’t do what you are calling out. The question is; is your heart right and are you doing the right thing in its place by faith?
I think you are crossing two things here. Yes, Jesus has a higher standard than anyone was used to. Murder and lust, etc, are now heart matters as far as sin is concerned.

But hypocrisy and judging are not spoken of in those terms. Matthew 7:2 says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." In other words, if you judge someone for murder, you will also be judged if you have murdered. It doesn't say "if you judge a physical matter, then your corresponding deep heart matter will be judged in the same way". The example is also of a splinter in the other person's eye and a beam in your own. This means, for example, don't judge someone for their anger (splinter) when you have murdered (beam) yourself. This is a "don't strain someone else's gnat and swallow your own camel" kind of thing. If we were to analyze in the depth you are describing (which is take care of your own gnat before dealing with someone else’s camel), the splinter would be in our own eye and the beam would be in the other persons. But it's not. It's the other way around.

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In a recent post you’ve claimed the Local Churches practice a damaging form of shunning. I don’t doubt that, but let me ask you this question; have you properly shunned them before speaking out against their practices (2 John 1:10)? Or do you still continue to meet with the group?
2 John 1:7-11 speaks specifically of not welcoming people who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. To my knowledge, the LC does acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, therefore, there would not be the need to shun them in the manner you describe.

This is a different thing than the Corinthians receiving a "different Jesus". To me, 2 John 1 is a denial of Jesus Himself, His divinity, His sacrifice. The Corinthians (I am assuming here) received a different Jesus in the sense of He had still come in the flesh, but was then enslaving and oppressing them, rather than freeing them.

It's strange. It’s like they do preach Jesus, but then once saved, they feed the new convert the guiled milk of the word rather than the guileless milk of the word.

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It's not enough that you choose not to shun anybody, it's whether you love God more than the group to the point you'd shun them biblically. If by staying you believe the Local Churches will change, then like you said, I’m afraid you’ll be waiting a long time…

Paul did in fact call out evil but this was only second to proclaiming the gospel. The local churches pointed out the faults of Christianity in self-righteousness while preaching a false gospel. The majority of posts here seem to be completely lacking the gospel. Which is better then, preaching a false gospel or no gospel at all?

In a greater sense does exposing evil matter if you do nothing to fill the void? Facts of abuse may lead someone out but it's God's truth that truly heals.

If you do leave by your own conviction then seek God and His forgiveness. Repent and believe in the Jesus you weren't taught in the LC's and then lead others out by example or you may find yourself years from now regurgitating the same things in vain all the while deceiving yourself into believing you are doing a service to others. The truth is, without a heart transformed by the gospel your efforts will only work to poison others with your bitterness or at best validate each other’s own bitterness. Who benefits from that? It may help you but only for a little while until the pain resurfaces again...
Agreed. Christ set us free so we would be free. That is one of the facets of the gospel that is sorely missing in the local church. It is hard because the local church does preach the gospel, but then immediately negates it by putting handcuffs and shackles on those who were just set free. I think that’s why it’s hard for some people to speak up. Because on some level you know there are some salvations occurring within the group. Many saints, particularly the farther away they get from any proximity to the leadership, whether extra-local or local, simply don’t deal with or even have to swallow the deviated doctrines in their daily life. No MOTA, no deputy authority, no “head in the sand we don’t care about right and wrong”. They are saved Christians who sing hymns and “take the table” on Sundays and who are more free in Christ in their daily lives than many die-hard ministry bots. They are some of the ones who would be collateral damage if the thing is exposed. We are dealing with a lot of human lives.

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If you do choose to go the social justice route, that’s perfectly fine, but then do like Steven Hassan does and examine the group purely from a psychological and sociological perspective. No need to appeal to scripture lest you risk misusing them. If you do, however, use scripture then make sure that you are living by its standards in preaching the gospel and loving your enemies in the process.
There's a few possible approaches. I would need to consider what's best.

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David prayed to have a new spirit and a new heart put in him so he could forgive his enemies but he never saw that day come to pass. The good news is that day is now here and it’s available to us yet so many reject that gift in favor of social reform because doing things the right way requires you to first take a good look in the mirror. More often than not the reflection staring back at you will be the very thing you're fighting against and that's too hard of a pill to swallow.
I don't quite understand what you are saying here. You seem to say the good news is that the day is now here where we can choose to forgive our enemies (the LC?) but we reject it because....and then I just can't track you. Are you trying to say that we need to come to a place of forgiveness first before we speak up? What of my reflection is a hard pill to swallow?
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Old 05-22-2020, 12:12 PM   #19
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

Trapped - I think you should get the award for the longest, most detailed reply of the week!!!
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:53 PM   #20
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Trapped - I think you should get the award for the longest, most detailed reply of the week!!!
...and the best. JoS has met his match and has stumbled into his own trap...Trapped you might say.

Good job bro Trapped—

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Old 05-22-2020, 11:28 PM   #21
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...and the best. JoS has met his match and has stumbled into his own trap...Trapped you might say.

Good job bro Trapped—

Nell
Thanks StG and Nell, as you can see this topic is important to me and weighs on me heavily and often. I do appreciate Jo S's challenges and his questions. I may be wrong in numerous areas in my post, but at least he forced me to really contend with some the positions I was taking that I didn't even know could be considered differently. I certainly never considered viewing the LC as a non-legitimate Christian group when thinking of how to respond to them. I enjoyed having my perspective widened and being made to think a bit differently.
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:19 AM   #22
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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 05-23-2020, 01:53 PM   #23
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It's an interesting question you've asked. You are right that I'm treating them as part of the church and thus subject to Biblical principles. I'll just think out loud here, so give me a little grace as I work through it.

I suppose since they themselves are claiming to be a legitimate Christian group, and not only part of the church but THE church itself, then I would "play the game" by holding them up to their own supposed principles. This is kind of the approach Ravi Zacharias and other apologists take sometimes in disproving the materialistic worldview, for example. They would assume the opposing position as true and show how it crumbles by undoing it from the inside. Self-defeating. This way, they LC is undone by their own hand. Hoist on their own petard, as it were. That's just one approach. You take their own stance and dismantle them using their own stand. This appeals to the thinkers in the group, of which there still are some.

Another approach is to begin by taking the position that they are not a legitimate Christian group. If you start out by negating the very thing they think they are, though, you also may lose a lot of people who might otherwise be willing to listen, even if you are right to negate them.
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.

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.

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 believe that to accept the possibility 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.

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.

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However, go back to 2 Corinthians 11 and take a look again. Paul says in verse 4:

"For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough."

Paul is talking about the Corinthians who have received a false gospel, false Jesus, different spirit, and are putting up with it. I think this is an accurate comparison to the local church. He doesn't shun the Corinthians as you seem to be suggesting would need to happen.
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.


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It's a false dichotomy to say that the only two options are a legit move of God or led by liars and false apostles, so no, I don't have to choose.

I think God moves in individual people, not in the "this group of people is a move of God" type way.
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.

Trapped, you don’t have to choose but you’re lack of resolve will only work to delay the inevitable.

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The field of wheat has tares sown among the wheat. There is no field of only wheat and field of only tares, one or the other. This is why leaving the group is such a deep internal struggle for many. It's a mixture of light and darkness.
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. These kinds of groups represent thorns that choke off the seedlings.

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No, there's definitely no thought in me that I'm gaining some kind of moral high ground in anything. The thought in me is much more along the lines of "what is my responsibility here?" and "how, as a Christian, am I called to behave in this situation?"
It’s a good thing to ash such a question

I think it's a pretty good practice for one of the steps to be to ask "does Scripture have anything to say about this?" before doing something like speaking publicly and exposing certain things, whether a genuine church or not. I personally am not a rash person and would hope to have some solid Biblical footing before doing something like that. Even though I would be speaking the truth, the exposing of numerous things in the local churches would have incredibly detrimental and reverberating effects. Some people depend on the local church for their lives and social support, and genuinely have no clue what's going on on the inside, and simply don't have the complex thought processes to see past the controlling teachings. They just love the Lord and love the saints and have simply never had an experience to show them anything otherwise. They are naive, not malicious. None of that excuses the other stuff that's going on in the LC, and none of it means that what is in the darkness shouldn't come to light, but these are all things I would be highly aware of, and simply think it's good to start with the Bible. Considering the repercussions up front can shape your approach.
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.

Whether you’re seeking the moral high ground or not, statements like the ones above portray high-mindedness. 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.

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?

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?

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I think you are crossing two things here. Yes, Jesus has a higher standard than anyone was used to. Murder and lust, etc, are now heart matters as far as sin is concerned.

But hypocrisy and judging are not spoken of in those terms. Matthew 7:2 says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." In other words, if you judge someone for murder, you will also be judged if you have murdered. It doesn't say "if you judge a physical matter, then your corresponding deep heart matter will be judged in the same way". The example is also of a splinter in the other person's eye and a beam in your own. This means, for example, don't judge someone for their anger (splinter) when you have murdered (beam) yourself. This is a "don't strain someone else's gnat and swallow your own camel" kind of thing. If we were to analyze in the depth you are describing (which is take care of your own gnat before dealing with someone else’s camel), the splinter would be in our own eye and the beam would be in the other persons. But it's not. It's the other way around.
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 others? If the Local Churches teach the same, well good; then do as they say and not as they do. Or will you thrown the baby out along with the bath water?

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2 John 1:7-11 speaks specifically of not welcoming people who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. To my knowledge, the LC does acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, therefore, there would not be the need to shun them in the manner you describe.

This is a different thing than the Corinthians receiving a "different Jesus". To me, 2 John 1 is a denial of Jesus Himself, His divinity, His sacrifice. The Corinthians (I am assuming here) received a different Jesus in the sense of He had still come in the flesh, but was then enslaving and oppressing them, rather than freeing them.

It's strange. It’s like they do preach Jesus, but then once saved, they feed the new convert the guiled milk of the word rather than the guileless milk of the word.
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.

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Agreed. Christ set us free so we would be free. That is one of the facets of the gospel that is sorely missing in the local church. It is hard because the local church does preach the gospel, but then immediately negates it by putting handcuffs and shackles on those who were just set free. I think that’s why it’s hard for some people to speak up. Because on some level you know there are some salvations occurring within the group. Many saints, particularly the farther away they get from any proximity to the leadership, whether extra-local or local, simply don’t deal with or even have to swallow the deviated doctrines in their daily life. No MOTA, no deputy authority, no “head in the sand we don’t care about right and wrong”. They are saved Christians who sing hymns and “take the table” on Sundays and who are more free in Christ in their daily lives than many die-hard ministry bots. They are some of the ones who would be collateral damage if the thing is exposed. We are dealing with a lot of human lives.
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.
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:10 PM   #24
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Oh boy, I think Jo has now taken the lead in the longest response category! (it remains to be seen if it takes 1st place for the best however . . .)

Now St. Peter will probably let you into the gates of heaven a nanosecond before (before what, I'm not sure)!

All jocularity aside, I do have one question for you, Jo: Is the Roman Catholic Church a real Christian church?
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:20 PM   #25
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Oh boy, I think Jo has now taken the lead in the longest response category! (it remains to be seen if it takes 1st place for the best however . . .)

Now St. Peter will probably let you into the gates of heaven a nanosecond before (before what, I'm not sure)!

All jocularity aside, I do have one question for you, Jo: Is the Roman Catholic Church a real Christian church?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catholic ecclesiology professes the Catholic Church to be the "sole Church of Christ" i.e., the one true church defined as "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" in the Four Marks of the Church in the Nicene Creed.

Does this boast sound familiar?

If you believe the Local Churches can't be the sole Church of Christ on earth then neither can the Catholic Church.

My answer to your question is No.
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:57 PM   #26
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According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catholic ecclesiology professes the Catholic Church to be the "sole Church of Christ" i.e., the one true church defined as "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" in the Four Marks of the Church in the Nicene Creed.

Does this boast sound familiar?

If you believe the Local Churches can't be the sole Church of Christ on earth then neither can the Catholic Church.

My answer to your question is No.
Thanks for the clear answer (that you don't think the RCC is really a church)! Yes, certainly several apparent parallels between the LC and Roman Catholic Church. Many theologians (at least non-Catholic ones) think there is good cause to consider that the church in Thyatira represents the RCC. So considering your point that the LC and the RCC aren't really Christian churches because of their numerous bad teachings and practices . . . if the Lord calls the RCC a church (albeit a badly misbehaving one), shouldn't we?
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Old 05-23-2020, 03:19 PM   #27
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Thanks for the clear answer (that you don't think the RCC is really a church)! Yes, certainly several apparent parallels between the LC and Roman Catholic Church. Many theologians (at least non-Catholic ones) think there is good cause to consider that the church in Thyatira represents the RCC. So considering your point that the LC and the RCC aren't really Christian churches because of their numerous bad teachings and practices . . . if the Lord calls the RCC a church (albeit a badly misbehaving one), shouldn't we?
StG, I recall you mentioning you meet with the Catholic church and it's members? Is that correct?

I don't agree with your equivalency however. Thyatira had faults but they were not yet apostate. But where is the Church of Thyatira now? The city no longer exists.

The Catholic church is a church, it's even a Christian church in name but is it a genuine Christian church? No. The only genuine church will be the church gathered in the New Jerusalem at Christ's second coming.
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Old 05-23-2020, 03:26 PM   #28
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Default Re: Responsibility of Christians Responding to Aberrant/Abusive Groups

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You mentioned you meet with the Catholic church and it's members? Correct?

I don't agree with your equivalency however. Thyatira had faults but they were not yet apostate. But where is the Church of Thyatira now? The city no longer exists.

The Catholic church is a Church, it's even a Christian church in name but is it a genuine Christian church? No. The only genuine church will be the church gathered in the New Jerusalem at Christ's second coming.
So let's try a different angle - what makes a church - - believers with Christ in them constitutes a church (ekklesia: a called-out gathering), right? Does the LC or the RCC have believers in them? (Sure, you can argue the percentages of those actually with Christ in them at the LC or RCC, but that's the basic premise.)

What is your scriptural definition of the ekklesia?
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Old 05-23-2020, 03:49 PM   #29
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What is your scriptural definition of the ekklesia?
Born-again Christians that worship God in person and/or in spirit.
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Old Yesterday, 07:35 AM   #30
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Born-again Christians that worship God in person and/or in spirit.
Good. And to get more specific, a gathering of those born-again ones, right?
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Old Yesterday, 07:54 AM   #31
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Good. And to get more specific, a gathering of those born-again ones, right?
In the context of Christianity Ekklesia refers to those called out of the world and to God. It doesn't have to be a physical gathering to qualify. Every born-again Christian is part of the Ekklesia.
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Old Yesterday, 08:01 AM   #32
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In the context of Christianity Ekklesia refers to those called out of the world and to God. It doesn't have to be a physical gathering to qualify. Every born-again Christian is part of the Ekklesia.
Granted (though we are called to assemble together of course). So if regenerated ones make up the church, and there are regenerated ones in the LC and RCC (albeit likely not 100% of people there are regenerated), how do you say they are NOT a church? Where do you draw the line?
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Old Yesterday, 08:19 AM   #33
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Granted (though we are called to assemble together of course). So if regenerated ones make up the church, and there are regenerated ones in the LC and RCC (albeit likely not 100% of people there are regenerated), how do you say they are NOT a church? Where do you draw the line?
The term "Church" has multiple definitions and applications. It can be a physical place of worship or can be referring to the body of Christ. The RCC and LC's are churches, meaning public places of worship, however you asked whether the RCC is a "real" Christian church. To me there is only one real church and it doesn't have walls, that's the body of all born-again Christians spread throughout the world who worship God in spirit and in truth.
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Old Yesterday, 09:40 AM   #34
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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?
Well, the very foundation of the Local Church's claims are based upon secondary issues - Who is and who is not the one minister with the one ministry for the age, the ground of the church being based upon locality, various methodologies aimed at "enjoying the Lord" and "eating Jesus" by Calling of the Lord and Pray Reading, who is and who is not properly and sufficiently "blended" with the person (authority) and work (ministry) of Witness Lee.

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I believe that to accept the possibility 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.
Wow, you have already figured out what the members of this forum need to accept and what we need to confront! Darn, I wish I had met you about 20 years ago...you might have saved me a lot of pain, suffering and heartache!

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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.
Wow, and you are the only one around here who is speaking the truth, and are gloriously free of any of those ineffective and nonspiritual "outward approaches". Ya know, this sounds a lot like something Witness Lee said all the time - except that instead of "outward approach" he used other terms like "opinion" and "natural".

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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.
True this! Lord, cause us to see your truth, and then speak the truth in love. Set us all free! Amen.

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Until you see the Lord’s Recovery movement for what it really is, only then can you move forward with an effective approach.
Didn't you just say we should speak the truth and forget about any outward approach. I think you better do some proof reading of your own posts before you fire away there captain. Or maybe that was a freudian slip?
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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.
Jo, I'm not sure if it's from a speck or from log, but you, my friend, are seemingly blind to many things. One of the biggest is your delusion that you have a firm grasp on the disposition of the members of this forum in regards to the teachings, practices and history of the Local Church of Witness Lee. I think this may account for the reactions you are getting. I don't think you were in the Local Church long enough to know what the heck you're talking about. I know you probably mean well, but you really need to take a step back and reconsider your "approach". We are all in different places - different places in our relationship and walk with the Lord, and certainly in different places when it comes to our understandings, perceptions and realizations of what we are to do with the teachings, practices and history of the movement. This is not to mention the complexities involved for those of us with family members and close friends in the Local Church. You seem either oblivious or heartless. I hope it's the first, cause that one is a lot easier to fix.

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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.
Every move of man is only a partial move of God, and every church, church group, denomination, ministry or para-church organization is a move of man and is hopefully a partial move of God. This is so elementary I'm shocked that you would say such a thing. Were you there in the Local Church earliest days with Watchman Nee in mainland China? Where you there with the brothers and sisters who fled to Taiwan to continue on with Nee's vision? Were you there at Elden Hall in the earliest days of the LC movement in America? Or are you omnipresent and omnipotent like Witness Lee claimed to be? Maybe you picked up more from your short time in the LC than I thought!

The rest of your post here is just more of the same, so I won't bother to burden the rest of the members with the exposing of your abject ignorance of the what is happening on this forum. Again, you are decidedly clueless, and as the moderator I am speaking the truth in love to you. Finally, you must realize that this forum is not for individuals to get up on their personal soap box and preach, at least not the kind of preaching you are doing. Discussion is fine. Disagreement is fine. Testimonies are fine. Questions are fine. Even challenges are ok if done in the right spirit and right approach.
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Old Yesterday, 10:05 AM   #35
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..........
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Message received loud and clear, UntoHim. I will leave you to it then. God bless all of you.
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Old Yesterday, 10:40 AM   #36
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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 Yesterday, 10:57 AM   #37
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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 Yesterday, 12:27 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Trapped View Post
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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