Seven traits of abusive churches (originally posted by "setfree")

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Seven traits of abusive churches (originally posted by "setfree")

Post  Admin on 20/02/10, 12:12 am

Seven Traits of Abusive Churches
1. Scripture Twisting.
The failure to read Scripture in its historical, cultural and textual context often results in fringe practices such as communal living, or refraining from dating or movie-going. Verses are artificially cobbled together to force the Bible to say something it doesn’t. It is through such misinterpretation that demands for total submission to authoritarian and abusive leaderships is supported.
2. Autocratic Leadership.
They stress the need for the “sheep” to submit to the authority of the leadership with no right to question him. This is especially true when it comes to making major decisions such as: changing jobs or college majors; planning vacations, moving to another city; selecting a life-partner
By enforcing submission to their authority in matters of conscience and opinion they are usurping the place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
Group members fall into an uncritical acceptance of whatever the leader says, and lose the ability to go directly to God for wisdom and guidance.
3. Isolationism.
Members are kept separated from the world outside the group to avoid worldly contamination, sinful temptation, doctrinal error, and flagging zeal. Such isolationism limits access to legitimate teaching which is often viewed as competitive and threatening.” Group members are encouraged to read only books by “approved” authors, often only those produced within the group itself.
This isolationism is carried into the realm of personal relationships. Most discourage dating, and some forbid it. Most teach a semi-mystical notion of divine match-making, and many require couples to obtain permission of group leaders before marriage or dating.
The match-making is done by narrowing the field to a select few within the group.
4. Spiritual Elitism.
These groups consider themselves to be “a special move of God”.
This attitude of elitism contributes to isolationism. Group members are discouraged from fellowshipping with non-member Christians. All Bible teaching originates within the movement or group out of fear that outsiders might “poison the minds” of group members with contrary ideas.
5. Regimentation of Life.
In their attempt to foster a high degree of commitment to Christ and holiness they create a hothouse environment in order to “force” this growth with regimentation that goes beyond the biblical standards of morality, ethics, and values.
Group members are given specific rules, regulations, and expectations, by which to live. Most are based simply on the leader’s personal opinions.
The result is a Galatian-style works righteousness: “Your faith in Christ got you saved, but to become spiritually mature you must submit to us and do whatever we tell you.” Paul wrote: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
6. Disallowance of Dissent.
These organizations regard uniformity or solidarity as the prime doctrine. Members are expected or required to adopt the same lifestyles, beliefs and interpretations of Scripture.
Disagreement and independent thinking is not tolerated. It is always construed as “undermining the authority” of the pastor. One does not try to correct a leader.
The leaders of these fellowships are adept at turning the tables on those who come to them privately with sincere concerns about the group’s teachings or practices. The leader will assert that the only problem is with the questioner. Persisting in such questioning, especially if shared with the rank and file, will ultimately lead to the 7th characteristic.
7. Traumatic Departure.
The individual who continues to raise concerns will undergo a stressful confrontation. Often the “rebellious” person is invited to the office of an elder or pastor to be granted an opportunity to air his grievances. Upon arrival, however, the dissident discovers several others in positions of authority have also been invited. What he thought would be a sincere and honest one-to-one exchange of views turns out to be a hostile and accusatory 3-to-one interrogation session.
These groups have been known to excommunicate people for simply not honoring the “discipline” of previously excommunicated members. They have dis-fellowshipped members for attending a gathering of former members. Others have been formally excommunicated and disgraced after they voluntarily withdrew from membership with members being forbidden to have any further contact with him.
Regardless of how a member leaves the group, it is almost always a very painful process. Whether he leaves voluntarily or is excommunicated, he finds himself disgraced and cut off from most those friends and relations who remain in the group. Families have been torn apart and marriages have been destroyed as one partner has become so desperate to escape that he has felt it necessary to dissolve the marriage to do so. The leaders will encourage the divorce and have the remaining partner to remarry a devout follower still in the church.
Conclusion
Some of these abusers earnestly desire is to save souls and build disciples of the Lord Jesus. Others are simply kingdom builders, building there own kingdoms for their own benefit and they have devised a system they believe will achieve those goals most quickly. They employ unscriptural methods and intrude into the ministry of the Holy Spirit, not allowing him to do his own work in his own way and in his own time. The Holy Spirit is supplanted in the member’s life by the group, its leader(s), and its teachings. God does not want us to rely on external guides or guidelines for spirituality; he wants us to rely on him and his written Word. He gives us teachers and pastors to help us sort out truth from error; but they are not to take his place in our lives.
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-. Paul calls Christian legalism “a different gospel” and says it is a distortion of the gospel of Christ. Jesus did not give his life on the cross in payment of the penalty of our sins just so we could exchange one bondage for another.

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Another thought on abuse... (originally posted by a guest contributor)

Post  Admin on 20/02/10, 12:14 am

You are told when you are at SCC not to tell anyone about your issues with the church, and even after you leave you are warned to not talk about it, yet if everything that was going on was right and proper, it wouldn't need to be covered up, right? Its sort of like people who have been abused are told not to tell anyone about the abuse so that the abuser is not exposed. Bringing things to light is what exposes the wrong, and that's why people should talk about what happened to them. If we are still afraid to talk about what happened to us because we are afraid of what "they" think, than we are still under their control and manipulation.

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