Tag Archives: aberrant

The flawed reasoning of cults and controlling religious groups

This is the flawed reasoning within many cults and controlling religious groups:

Because you have flaws, you may no longer have boundaries.

-Colin Foote Burch

Association of Former Pentecostals not to blame

I have posted several times in the forums of the Association of Former Pentecostals, and I have read many posts from other participants.

I had never previously seen the kind of violent rhetoric that published reports allege had originated from Matthew Murray, the young man police say killed two people at a Youth With A Mission center in Colorado, and killed two more people at a community church, before taking his own life after being confronted by a security guard.

What I had read at the association’s Web site, ex-pentecostals.org, were difficult, personal stories written by people who were very upset or troubled by their present or past experiences in Pentecostal, charismatic, and Word-of-Faith churches.

It is true that people posting on the forums have expressed anger and frustration with pastors, prophets, fellow church members, and assorted self-styled ministers. Some posters have mocked public figures.

It is also true the people have expressed anger and frustration with every president in our nation’s history. Most public figures are mocked at some point in their careers.

Legitimate frustrations, properly expressed, have nothing to do with violent, anti-social behavior.

What I find interesting is that many people on the forums shared the experiences I had in the Pentecostal-charismatic movement: controlling ministers and laypersons, emotional abuse, outrageous claims of special knowledge, promises that one can manipulate God into granting material blessings, and — I cannot state this too strongly — a complete incapacity to express the Gospel in a way that Martin Luther, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Cranmer, St. John Chrysostom, or the Apostle Paul would have recognized it.

I say this after spending approximately 23 years in nondenominational charismatic churches; you can read about part of my journey by clicking here.

Furthermore, I’m completely baffled by the way some people have suggested that the Association of Former Pentecostals is an extremist group or an anti-Christian group. Based on my experiences while reading the forums and posting on the site, I would estimate that approximately half of the regular posters have remained Christians, while the other half were driven into atheism, agnosticism, or other religions solely by the craziness and unhealthiness of Pentecostal, charismatic, and Word-of-Faith churches.

The media and irresponsible commentators need to stop all attempts at guilt-by-association — Murray’s postings and actions have nothing to do with the tone that is common to the Association of Former Pentecostals’ forum.

And, perhaps most importantly, the administrators of the association’s Web site state in a long-standing note that that purpose of the forums is to share and to heal — and then to move on in freedom and in peace.

-Colin Foote Burch

Scandal at Oral Roberts University

By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS of the Associated Press
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Twenty years ago, televangelist Oral Roberts said he was reading a spy novel when God appeared to him and told him to raise $8 million for Roberts’ university, or else he would be “called home.”

Now, his son, Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts, says God is speaking again, telling him to deny lurid allegations in a lawsuit that threatens to engulf this 44-year-old Bible Belt college in scandal.

Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors’ expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter’s senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as “underage males.”

At a chapel service this week on the 5,300-student campus known for its 60-foot-tall bronze sculpture of praying hands, Roberts said God told him: “We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This lawsuit … is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion.”

Read the full article at http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j9XJtq8scoszIFZLWUjrR8mPuBFQD8S38PR80

Conferences to be like Pentecost!

We found this howler at MorningStar Fellowship Church’s Web site. It’s near the end of the “Word for the Week” (www.eaglestar.org/feature/wftw/index.htm) for July 30, 2007:

Make plans now to attend one or both of our most important conferences of the year—the Harvest Conference (Sept. 27-29) and the Worship & Warfare Conference (Oct.1-3). These conferences are attended by Christians from many nations and denominations. We hold them back to back because there is a dynamic and spiritual momentum created that seems to draw the Lord in a special way. It was at a gathering like this that the Holy Spirit was first poured out on the Day of Pentecost.

Did you catch that new ministry technique? You can summon the Lord by holding conferences back to back.

Unfortunately, with the phrase “at a gathering like this,” the Word for the Week does not make it clear which conference will be most like Pentecost, nor does it explain what it is about these conferences that makes them similar to a first-century gathering of Apostles.

Healing from cults, Christian fringe groups

I’ve been reading some books regarding cults and aberrant Christian groups.

Paul R. Martin has an excellent article, “Post-Cult Recovery: Assessment and Rehabilitation,” in the book Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse (Norton, 1995) edited by Michael D. Langone. The rest of the book is excellent, too. The asset of Martin’s article is its inclusion of details related to recovery from fringe Christian groups as well as cults.

Twisted Scriptures: Breaking Free from Churches that Abuse (Zondervan, 1997, 1998, 2000) by Mary Alice Chrnalogar includes this line: “The most common non-Biblical idea that is planted in members’ minds by abusive groups is that they are rebellious, hard-hearted, or prideful when they decide not to follow the group’s rules.”

By Hook or By Crook: How Cults Lure Christians (McCracken Press, 1993) by Harold Bussell offers this caution: “Do you ever wonder if you are useless to God because you have no great spiritual experience about which you can boast? Do you ever feel like a second-class Christian because you have some difficult habit, sin, or problem you can’t overcome? If so, you may be susceptible to a cult that will promise you ‘results.’ Cults and other aberrant groups always offer that something more that seems to be lacking.”

If you suspect you’re in a controlling or less-than-healthy church, please track down these books. You might find used copies at http://www.abebooks.com or http://www.alibris.com or http://www.half.com .

-Colin Burch