Mormonism Contrasted with Christianity

On the May 7th “Front Page,” Pastor Mike Thompson of Faith Free Church in Stanley helped us wrap up five straight Thursday broadcasts on “Cults,” focusing today on Mormonism. While Mike provided the historical background and a doctrinal comparison for folks to consider, Carla Wehe(Way) offered her perspective as someone fresh out of Mormonism after mor

 

A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine

by Matt Slick

“Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it and see if it will stand the test,” (Brigham Young, May 18, 1873, Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 46).

What does Mormonism Teach?

1.God came from another planet

2.God is a man with a body of flesh and bones

3.There is a mother goddess

4.God and his goddess wife are married

5.You can become gods

Following is a Comparison between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine:

1)GOD

CHRISTIAN

There is only one God. (Isaiah 43:11;44:6, 8; 45:5)

“And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light,” (Book of Abraham 4:3).

God has always been God. (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15)

MORMON

“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).

CHRISTIAN

God is a spirit without flesh and bones. (John 4:24; Luke 24:39)

“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s,” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22; Compare with Alma 18:26-27; 22:9-10).

MORMON

“Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).

2)TRINITY

CHRISTIAN

The Trinity is the doctrine that there is only one God in all the universe, and that He exists in three eternal, simultaneous persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

MORMON

The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man,”(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35).

3)JESUS

CHRISTIAN

Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. (Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23)

MORMON

“The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood–was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115).

“Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers” (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p. 547).

CHRISTIAN

Jesus is the eternal Son. He is second person of the Trinity. He has two natures.He is God in flesh and man (John 1:1, 14;Col. 2;9) and the creator of all things (Col. 1:15-17).

MORMON

Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, a creation (Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).

4) THE HOLY SPIRIT

CHRISTIAN

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is not a force. He is a person. (Acts 5:3-4; 13:2)

MORMON

Mormonism distinguishes between the Holy Spirit (God’s presence via an essence) and the Holy Ghost (the third god in the Mormon doctrine of the trinity).

5)SALVATION

CHRISTIAN

Salvation is the forgiveness of sin and deliverance of the sinner from damnation. It is a free gift received by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 6:23) and cannot be earned. (Rom. 11:6)

MORMON

Salvation has a double meaning in Mormonism: universal resurrection and . . .”The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 78-79).

CHRISTIAN

Salvation (forgiveness of sins) is not by works. (Eph. 2:8;Rom. 4:5; Gal. 2:21)

MORMON

“As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements–‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel,'” (Articles of Faith, p. 79).

6)BIBLE

CHRISTIAN

The inspired inerrant word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). It is authoritative in all subjects it addresses.

MORMON

“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. . .” (8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This is only a sample of many of the differences between Christianity and Mormonism. As you can see, they are quite different doctrines. God cannot be uncreated and created at the same time. There cannot be only one God and many gods at the same time. The Trinity cannot be one God in three persons and three gods in an office known as the Trinity, etc. These teachings are mutually exclusive.

This is important because faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Is the Mormon god the real one? Or, is the God of historic and Biblical Christianity the real one?

Mormonism is obviously not the Biblical version of Christianity. It is not Christian, and Mormons serve a different god from do the Christians–a god that does not exist. Paul talks about this in Gal. 4:8, “when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” Only the God of the Bible exists. There are no others. Mormonism puts its faith in a non-existent god.

Eight Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses

Eight Questions(and three scriptures) for Jehovah’s Witnesses

On the April 30th “Front Page” we continued our series on cults with Pastors Mike Thompson and Brian Cole of Faith Free Church(faithfreestanley.org) in Stanley, as we focused on Jehovah’s Witnesses. For a fuller discussion of these questions/verses adapted from Rose Publishing, check out our podcast of the April 30th FP.

1.Would you want a person translating a bible from Greek to English to be qualified in biblical languages? If so, how do you come to grips with the truth that the New World Translation was written by a team that was not qualified to translate the Greek text? Only one person on the translation team had ANY Greek training. And he had nothing more than the introduction class in college?

Food for thought: Could you translate a Spanish bible if you had only an introduction to Spanish class?

Question: Did you realize that in order to translate a bible from Greek to English it takes about 3 to 5 years of Greek training at minimum?

Question: Did you realize the watchtower translation team which had insufficient Greek training added words to your bible that do not exist in ANY Greek text?

Question: Did you realize that translating a bible from Greek to English is an exercise of linguistics and not an act of prophecy? God spoke in a language and he never changes the meaning of words or the rules of grammar. He spoke to us in known language and expects us to follow the normal rules of the language in which He gave us His word.

2. Are you okay with the Watchtower making up rules that are not in the bible?
1.Blood transfusions = consuming blood (really?)
2.Discourages too much education: Does it seem like they are trying to keep you unlearned so you won’t find out something?
3.Don’t salute the flag or serve in the military (our real biblical call is to worship God and not the countries’ leaders as they did in Rome)

3. If the Watchtower Governing Body claims to be the only mediator between God and men. They would be equal to a prophet, but have they passed the test of a prophet? (see 1 Kings 17) One book by the grandson of Franz portrays the watchtower as a group of men who are biblically illiterate. Further, did you know that bible claims there is ONE mediator between God and men? It is the Lord Jesus Christ. And each person approaches God through Him alone.

4. Are you okay with the fact that the Watchtower had to use a occultist to justify their changing the text in John chapter one? An occultist was the only person in the world they could find who did not see Jesus as God in John 1. This occultist is the only one who agreed that they should add (all other things) to John 1 giving the idea that Jesus was not the God of Genesis 1 who created “EVERYTHING.”

Johannes Greber, a Roman Catholic priest became interested in communication with spirit beings. These “spirits” often spoke through his wife, a spirit medium, and told him the Bible was full of errors.

Greber authored the book: “Communication With The Spirit World of God.” In this book, Greber claims the spirits helped him in his translation of the New Testament. Greber saw translations coming not by scholarship but by the words passing before his eyes. This is the way an occultists writes as he or she communicates with demons.

Greber claims that “Jesus was not God but one of the first of God’s sons.”

In 1956 the Watchtower admitted Greber was a spiritist. But in 1962 they began quoting Greber as a theological source. Why would they quote Greber (a known occultist) in their literature? Because they could find no one else that would render John 1:1-3 the way their own translation did.

Word for Word Greek to English Translation

by Mounce

John 1:1-3

1 Inen the beginningarchē waseimi theho Wordlogos, andkai theho Wordlogos waseimi withpros ·ho Godtheos, andkai theho Wordlogos waseimi Godtheos. 2 Hehoutos waseimi inen the beginningarchē withpros ·ho Godtheos. 3 Allpas things were createdginomai bydia himautos, andkai apartchōris from himautos notoude a single thingheis was createdginomai thathos has been createdginomai.

Dr Mounce is one of the top Greek scholars in the world. If he and every other Greek scholar translated the bible passages as the JWs do I would be a JW. But I trust the Greek scholarship of those who have actually studied the language. Again, why is the ONLY person is the world that agrees with the John 1 rendering (Jesus created “all other” thing) a known occultist?

5. Why do you deny the Trinity and the Deity of Jesus when they are both clearly taught in scripture?

(Jesus called Himself “I AM” which is the tetragrammaton of Yahweh)

(Act 5 says to those who withheld money, you have lied to the Holy Spirit, you have lied to God and not man. Luke is calling the Holy Spirit God. This is further proof for a trinitarian God)

(At the baptism of Jesus you see the Father, Spirit and Son appear in the same moment and in the same text)

6. The bible calls for the ministry of benevolence among God’s people. Yet the ministry of benevolence does not exist in the JWs. Why is this important biblical practice ignored?

Matthew 5:42 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

Matthew 25:35-45 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; …

Luke 3:11 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”

7. Why would the JWs require 2 witnesses to child molestation. Are you okay with a denomination that make child molestation predictable? Romans 13 tells us that God uses governments to protect us. Why hide child molestation information from the government? There are NEVER 2 witness. Perverts molest children only when they are alone and when there are NO witnesses to the crime. This is what happens when you make up rules that are not in the bible. People get hurt!

8. Why do your leaders discourage you from hearing other perspectives or having friends of other faiths? If your doctrine was solid it could stand any test or examination including input from outside sources. It is because they do not want you to find out about their total lack of scholarship background and the truth that they used Greber an occultist to confirm their mistranslation of John 1. If you know too much you may find the truth.

3 Passages for Witnesses

John 20:28

Vs 28 In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!” vs29 Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me have you believed? Happy are those who do not see and yet believe.

Isaiah 9:6

Vs 6 For there has been a child born to us, (Jesus) there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Name for the eternal God are given to Jesus, the “child born to us”). 7 To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.

Revelation Sequence

Revelation 1:8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”

Question: Who is speaking here? Who is Alpha and Omega?

Revelation 21:5-7 And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says: “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 And he said to me: “They have come to pass! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the spring of the water of life free. 7 Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Question: Do we still see that Alpha and Omega is Jehovah God?

Revelation 22:13 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Question: Do we still see that Alpha and Omega is Jehovah God?

Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet. And he laid his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last,

Question: Who is the “First and The Last?”

Hint: They will answer; “Jehovah God”

….Let’s continue reading…

Revelation 1:17-18 I am the First and the Last, 18 and the living one, and I became dead, but look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of the Grave.

Question: When did Jehovah God die? If this is not Jesus, who could it possibly be?

Question: Can you go back to your Kingdom Hall and ask your overseer when Jehovah God died? If this is not Jesus who is this? When you get an answer can you bring it back to me?

Characteristics of Christian Cults

On Thursday’s “Front Page,” Pastor Mike Thompson and Associate Pastor Brian Cole of Faith Free Church(faithfreestanley.org) in Stanley continued our series on “Cults, the Occult and False Teachers.” They began by dealing with the “Characteristics of Christian Cults”, and talked later about “Techniques Used to Control People in Cults or Abusive Churches.” The material they presented was adapted from Rose Publishing. The podcast provides a fuller discussion of lists below.

Christian Cult Characteristics

1.A leader who claims to hear from God like an Old Testament Prophet or an Apostle. Who can question a prophet? Who can check the prophet for errors unless the prophet is forced to compare his so called “word” with scripture.

2.This leader and the group rejects all other churches or minimizes that claiming that our church is more “pure” and “undefiled” than all others.

3.There is control over members activities and friendships. In some of the worst cases members are told to distance themselves from their families or those who disagree with the church / organization.

4.Special diets. Many churches make themselves stand out from others churches by claiming that they are holier because they abstain from certain foods. They are “serious” about their faith because they are willing to follow “the entire word.” This usually relates to following Jewish dietary laws that were a requirement of the temple system.

5. Special language is a common among churches that display cult like behavior. Their buzzwords are a summary of their special revelation that sets them apart as God’s only people. Words like; “full revelation,” “slave class,” or “truly chosen” are used to identify members. This special language functions like a secret handshake and tells you who is buying in and who is not.

6.Sleep deprivation is a technique used by many cults in induction phases. This cuts down peoples’ defenses so they will agree with just about anything. It is an interrogation technique used by some of the more dangerous cults.

7.No privacy. A false teacher does not want you to be apart from him and have time to think about what you are doing.

8.Overpowering demonstrations of love often directly follow abusive behavior. The craving some people have for love causes them to put up with the abusive indoctrination and systems corrections that immediately precede the outpourings of love. In addition love bombing is used to initiate or recruit people into a cult or false teaching.

9.Control over finances is typical of those who claim to be the only voice of God. They want you to “sew” into this exclusive ministry so that the only true teaching will grow. However, the money often goes directly into the pockets of the upper echelon of the organization.

10.Leadership of cults and false churches do not tolerate honest questions. They demean people often in public and force them to repent of questioning God’s prophet. Leaders must maintain the ruse that they alone hear from God. If this scam is broken their control over others may be broken. Thus all questioning must be met with extreme measures.

Techniques Used To Control People

In Cults or Abusive Churches

The following are psychological techniques used by many cults, codependent leaders, or control members (enforcers) to control others or protect themselves from exposure.

1.Spiritual abuse

Spiritual abuse is the act of using God’s name or unbiblical rules to “get bigger” than people so as to eliminate their questions or force their ongoing compliance.

2.Triangulation

When a leader is threatened or a parishioner wants to exert unbiblical influence, he or she will contact many people and solicit them to be against the person that is being singled out. This is a form of systems correction that keeps an unhealthy system in tact.

3. Refuse to acknowledge ANY good deeds, actions or beliefs until that person comes to agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

4. Withholding love and approval no matter how good or bad a person performs until the “non-aligned” person agrees with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

5. Sabotage various aspects of the “non-aligned” person such as relationships, work or ministry until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

6. Lie about the person (slander) until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

7. Fault find until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

These techniques have been used by abusive leaders and abusive non-leaders in order to control the behavior of other others within a religious system.

Fed Up

fedupThanks to Carol Banks in Menomonie for e-mailing me today about the new documentary, “Fed Up,” the movie the food industry doesn’t want you to see, but which she did see during a special screening Tuesday night at the Mabel Tainter theater. Check out the trailer and tell me you’re not interested in seeing the full  movie.

 

Woman Shares Story of Spiritual Abuse

On the Friday, Feb. 6th, “Front Page,” we continued to talk about spiritual abuse and dangerous religious groups. Rene Couture read the following lengthy testimony of the spiritual abuse faced by a woman attending a Wisconsin church:

In the scheme of life, there are things that matter and things that don’t really matter much. Knowing the difference between the two often requires wisdom. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Anyone who has experienced or is presently experiencing spiritual abuse needs to know that their story matters. It’s time to no longer be silent about something that has affected countless believers worldwide.

Spiritual abuse is not something I profess with flippancy. Nor is spiritual abuse something that happens to weak people who are looking for someone to control them. Spiritual abuse, typically, is something that happens slowly and subtly by a person in leadership in whom you have developed a deep level of trust.

Jeff Van Vonderen, co-author of “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” says it well:

“Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority–the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people more free–misuses that authority by placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly godly purposes which are really their own. Nothing about spiritual abuse is simple. Those who have experienced it know it is powerful enough to cause them to question their relationship with God, indeed the very existence of God. And it is subtle too! The perpetrators of spiritual abuse are rarely ‘Snidely Whiplash’ sorts of characters who announce that they are going to drain your spiritual energy. They may be people who seem like they are seeking to guide you to the deepest levels of spiritual maturity.”

Such was the case for me…

It took all of my energy to walk through the doors of my new church. It was my last ditch effort to be a part of a church that I hoped would be different from the last one. Our three children were all still living at home. Being committed to a local church was part of the rich spiritual heritage my husband and I wanted to give our children.

At the time my husband and I owned a successful business; we were both strong leaders looking for a place to grow deeper in our relationship with God.

My new pastor and I connected from the very beginning. I found that I could be candid with him and he was very authentic and genuine in listening to what I had to say. He was aware that I had been hurt by a pastor in the past and he encouraged me to meet with him one-on-one to share my story and to receive counsel. He was a very busy man, willing to make time to meet with me. I was honored.

One meeting turned into many meetings. Little by little he was able to convince me that I could trust him and that he was safe and that I was loved. I was flattered that in a church of substantial size I had caught the attention of–what at the time I believed–was a very charismatic, influential and dynamic leader. His biggest bend always came down to trust, until the day he knew he had fully gained my trust.

In retrospect, the day I gave him my full trust was a game changer.

The man who had been so patient and so kind and so giving of his time suddenly revealed another side of himself to me and I found myself needing his permission and approval on every aspect of my life. Slowly, the space between me and my husband grew further and further apart as I became dependent on my pastor emotionally. I unwittingly allowed my pastor to control me, unaware at the time how slippery and dangerous the slope had become I was scaling.

As our friendship grew stronger, I was rewarded with opportunities within the church. He elevated me in different areas of leadership and, of course, I was honored to have a pastor who saw my worth.

With each new privilege also entered a new level of accountability and I soon learned that nothing short of exclusive allegiance to my leader was acceptable if I wanted to continue to have a voice in ministry.

My strong personality seemed to be a challenge to him as we fought back and forth on many occasions regarding issues that we disagreed about. I also learned that he was able to call me out on anything and everything, but I dare not ever call him out on any areas of his life. He had a ready answer for anything that was happening, and his word and his counsel were taken as the gospel not just by me, but also those who were a part of the inner circle of the church. There was a special vocabulary used among the members of the church that became a part of the culture of only that specific church.

Our family became close friends with our pastor and his family, however we were not able to let anyone know of our secret friendship. He told me that no one needed to know how close we were because they would be jealous. Many people sought after this man’s approval and friendship. I felt special and lucky. My closest friends were all in the “winner’s circle,” so to speak–all on staff and/or in positions of authority and leadership.

As weeks turned into months, I learned how to navigate around what at times could best be described as a volcano waiting to erupt. He could make me feel like the most valuable woman in the church or he could make me feel like the stuff that lies just beneath pond scum. All power rested in his court. I learned what made him happy and I learned through experience what made him angry.

In the midst of what felt, at times, like the best days of my life, if I am honest, I would have to admit that there were red-flag moments that I chose to put in the back of my mind. One such instance was during one of our meetings when my pastor told me that I had no true friends besides him and his wife and that from now on I needed to only talk to them about everything. He also convinced me of people in my immediate family who I should no longer allow to be part of my life. I soon lost touch with friends who I had known for years who were not a part of the church, as my pastor convinced me how these friends were not healthy for me. Two dear friends, not members of my church, had somewhat of an “intervention” with me one day to share their concerns for the path I was walking. I didn’t listen.

As a point of clarity, there is something that I would like to elaborate on for a moment. My story is not about me falling prey to a man or of a man’s power to control me. This is the story about a man of the cloth, a pastor, who proclaimed the words, “God told me,” and “God says” and then would go into detail as to what a person must do to be in the will of God. The idolatrous part of our relationship was the extreme spiritual use of God’s name, will and power and the expectations of my pastor for me to obey him, in the name of God. Serving or worshipping something or someone other than the One True God is idolatry.

In the midst of my idolatry of placing another man on God’s throne, something unexplainable happened. God, in His great mercy and grace, gave me a heart for prayer and an insatiable appetite for His Word. I spent many hours in prayer and studying the Bible. As I look back now, I still shake my head in wonder at how my Father could give such a gift to an undeserving child.

One day in a meeting with my pastor he shared that God had shown him–and one of the other pastor’s at the church–that they were being called to something greater. He said that he knew that there was one other person that God was calling to this new ministry with them and that God had shown them that it was me. The three of us were going to do something great. I was honored at the thought of doing ministry with this giant of a man. We gave the project a secret name and agreed to not let anyone know what was happening until the time was right.

My husband and I committed to spending an extended amount of time in prayer about our future and the future of our family. In doing so God showed both of us something that I did not want to see–that He was asking us to move to a different state to be a part of a different ministry. A ministry apart from my pastor. Had God’s voice lacked clarity I would have probably refused to obey, but He showed us very clearly that we were to move.

In retrospect, I believe the move was a rescue mission that would eventually cost us everything, as God plucked our family out of the hands of danger.

As is often the case, time and distance have a way of helping us see life through a different lens.

God began to heal my eyes and the blinders began to fall off. I saw the danger of my relationship with my pastor and I sent him an e-mail apologizing to him for my sin of allowing him to have a place in my life that only God should have. I also warned him that there were others, like myself, who were looking to him for answers and affirmation instead of looking to God. He never responded to my e-mail.

Several dear friends who also started to question some of the happenings at the church, after years of being prominent members of the church community, were cast aside. After one particularly disturbing incident, I called one of the overseers who I had known for many years. Instead of considering my words, the overseer ran to the pastor and almost overnight I was cut off from everyone. Those whom I had thought were my friends would not return e-mails, texts or phone calls. No explanation. Overnight I became a dead woman.

Although this is not the happy ending anyone would hope for, this is where only part of my story ends. As I write this story, several years after the experience, I am still dead to these people, but not to my Maker.

Here’s the good news: after several attempts to reach out for answers, many sleepless nights, bitter tears and a heart gripped in the throws of rejection, anger and deep anguish, God is fully back on His throne.

Only God is Truth! There are no substitutes! There is no man who can be to any of us what only God was intended to be. The Tree of Life of Good and Evil was a gift to Adam and Eve. It allowed them the freedom to choose whom they would serve. In my own sin of choosing to unwittingly look to a pastor for affirmation, love and answers, God did not leave me nor forsake me. When I fell to my knees in repentance it was my Father who held me and loved me and told me that I was His beloved daughter.

In the years since this experience, our family has gone through great trials. We have also experienced great joys. People have stood beside us whom God has brought into our world because of His goodness. These days, I am much more cautious in friendship and much more in love with my husband. God has brought great healing and restoration to our marriage.

Although I do not know how long a healing process should take, I am finding that each new day is filled with beauty and wonder if I’m willing to seek Him.

Most days I do.

Some days, though, you might find me sitting in the back of the church, arms crossed, struggling to understand the mystery of the church and what church is supposed to look like in an imperfect world.

The effects of spiritual abuse remain and, while I am aware I can not make myself better, I also understand that keeping one of the deepest forms of abuse a secret is creating a speedy exit from our churches by many believers who have been abused as well. Where do these abused believers turn for healing before they give up and join the ever-growing population of “done with church”?

Listener Shares Her Journey out of Spiritual Abuse

What characteristics mark a spiritually abusive church? In his book, “Churches That Abuse,” Dr. Ronald Enroth writes:
     “Abusive churches, past and present, are first and foremost characterized by strong, control-oriented (often charismatic) leadership. These leaders use guilt, fear, and intimidation (extreme anger) to manipulate members (and staff and overseers) and keep them in line.  Followers are led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs and that God has singled them out (God favors them) for special purposes.  Other, more traditional evangelical churches are put down.  Subjective experience is emphasized (over Scriptural Truth) and dissent is discouraged (eliminated).  Many areas of members’ lives are subject to scrutiny (especially regarding relationships with those outside of the church, families of origin in particular).  Rules and legalism abound.  People who don’t follow the rules or who threaten exposure are often dealt with harshly (often involving public humiliation within the church community). Excommunication is common (and it is unacceptable to fellowship with those who have been while remaining a part of that church). For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult (and painful).”  (p.31)
On today’s “Front Page” Rene Couture read the below e-mail from a WWIB listener who shared her journey out of a spiritual abusive church:
  “I guess the first thing that comes to mind is:  I never saw it (a spiritually abusive church) coming nor did I think it would happen to us (partly because I had no idea what it looked like).  This had been our family’s church for the majority of our married life, where our children were raised and we all considered it our home church.  A once very godly (yet imperfect) church that unapologetically preached The Gospel of Jesus weekly, after a pastoral change ten years into our membership, it slowly began morphing.
This has been a most painful experience for our entire family.  Early on in our marriage, as you know, we experienced infidelity within our relationship and both my husband and I would agree that our experience with our abusive church was yet more devastating as it was damaging to our spirit…the part of us that is a sacred place meant only for our Creator and Redeemer.  Everything done and said to us over the years at this church, and especially when we tried humbly and respectfully confronting the pastors and overseers before leaving, was all under the umbrella of “God said so.”  It left us not being able to ask questions or rebuke a complete lack of integrity exhibited by leadership (which we do not take lightly as we are both submissive to authority) as well as instilling great doubt in our ability to wisely discern.
We finally left that church and all the people in it that we had considered dear friends and family for almost 20 years.  Probably one of the most painful experiences of that was when several of those close friends rejected us for disagreeing and/or leaving the church.  Many would not even listen, seek to understand, or even ask why.  Instead, they were told something by the pastor that led to a complete severance of relationship with our entire family, telling us that God told them to do so.  The thing is, I can hardly blame my once called friends for acting in this taught manner. In a church where the lead pastor has become the celebrity, the protected entity at all costs because without him there is no church (spoken by a once then overseer to us), where his word becomes God’s word, people don’t have the freedom to think for themselves, seek truth or agree to disagree with respect.  Instead, where the pastor becomes a god who is building his own kingdom, there is only one way and it is his way.  In a kingdom like this, all people but “yes” people are banished.
That has been another devastating effect of our involvement of a spiritually abusive church…our attention and allegiance was transferred (expectedly so) to the pastor and that specific local church.  Every week and all the times in-between there was great mention of and accolades given to the lead pastor as well as the church, exalting both above all others. At times, I thought I was at a pep rally, cheering for my favorite team.  Rather, we were proclaiming how special and favored our church was compared to all the others.  I seriously began viewing other people (and friends, no doubt) who attended any other church than mine at the time, to be somehow “missing it” with God because we had the church AND the pastor who had the unique tap into God.
What was most detrimental about praising man and institution over our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is I became caught up in a world and religion that was so idolatrous that it didn’t leave room for the real worship or The One True God to have His only place on the throne in my life.  Spiritually Abusive churches do not lead us closer to Christ.  They can talk a lot about God, use some Scriptures with partial truth and proclaim that all they do is in God’s name, but if Jesus and His Great Gift of Grace depicted by the Cross is not the central and primary focus of EVERY teaching, then The Message of our Christian faith becomes lost, misguided at best.  And my personal walk with Jesus suffered which has grieved me beyond words.
Mark, as I am writing here, I must admit my adrenaline is on the rise and my anger is also.  I believe some of my anger is okay as I believe My Father is nothing less than outraged as well.  However, I am reminded here, as much as I could fill pages full of what was done to harm me and my family and all the negative ways in which we have been deeply affected, I must state that out of God’s great mercy He gave us a way out of that place.  He rescued us and released us from the grip of wickedness.  For that, I am truly thankful.
Since the three years that we have been free from this institution, we have been on a path of great healing and redemption, but it has been slow and at times very painful.  I want to share this part as I desire to give someone else hope who may be in that really difficult place of not knowing if they can ever trust (or even believe) God again.  Or attend another church again. Or trust another pastor and congregation again.  Once someone has survived such abuse, it can leave one feeling hopeless, confused, outraged, alone and even leaving the faithful doubting the existence of God.  If I could say one thing to this person it is, “You are not crazy. What you experienced is real…it is not right…is was not validated by God…you are not alone…there is hope….people sinned against you in the name of God, but that was not God.”
We have since become members at a small local church, made up of imperfect people who are passionate about serving a perfect God.  We have made some new friends, gotten to know the pastor and his wife and have been involved in some small group bible studies.  All this has taken much time, not to mention a lot of patience for the process.  That is also one thing we have come to really appreciate and respect:  it DOES take time in relationships to build respect and trust.  No pastor should EVER demand complete trust from anyone nor should he demand authoritative respect without first humbly earning it.  In a relatively healthy church, we have learned and experienced some very different ways of relating as The Body.  We are ever so grateful for the pastors and churches that know they are only one step away from starting down the road of self glorification.  They seek and live daily in a stance of humility and with a heart of repentance because they know they are not beyond great sin.  This is biblical leadership that I can personally submit to.  I have learned a lot about church….about what The Church is really for and who it really serves.  If Jesus Christ Exalted is not the focus of both of those points, then it is not a church I am interested in.  The worship music, the charisma or how excited I feel about going are not my motivations any longer.  To meet together, pray together, fellowship together and worship God together….these are the reasons I attend.  We all learned things a really painful way and really, we are still walking our way out of it.  Bottom line, I am extremely grateful to be walking with my Savior once again, so intimately.  How I have missed Him.
Mark, I am seriously grateful you are reaching out to your listeners on this topic.  We are talking about people’s lives and their personal walk with Jesus.  How dare the person of the cloth not take that as serious as it is, rather turning a person’s spiritual growth or destiny into a personal narcissistic whim of puffing up their own pride and building for themselves their own kingdom. May God have mercy on them and may God have mercy on us all.”
Throughout 2015 on FP on WWIB and WWIB.com we plan to continue shine the light on cults and spiritual abuse. If you have a story you’d like to share, e-mail me at mark@wwib.com.
For those of you interested in reading more about spiritual abuse in search of help, hope and healing for yourselves, or others, our anonymous listening friend says she found these books helpful:
1.  “Another Gospel:  Cults, Alternative Religions, and the New Age Movement” by Ruth Tucker (Zondervan)
 2. “Toxic Faith” by Stephen Arternurn (Shaw Books)
 3. “Charasmatic Captivation” by Steven Lambert
 4. “Twisted Scriptures” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar (Zondervan)
 5. “Churches that Abuse” by Ronald M. Enroth
 6. “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by David Johnson
 7. “Recovering From Churches that Abuse” by Ronald Enroth (Zondervan)
 8. “Take Back Your Life:  Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships” by Janja Lalich and Madeline Tobias (Bay Tree Publishers, 2nd Edit)

Are you a “broken” Christian?

I’m so grateful to Nancy Leigh De Moss for including this powerful comparison and contrast of proud and broken people in her wonderful book, “Brokenness.” As we hunger for revival at the start of this new year, let’s remember what G.K. Chesterton said, that the biggest problem in the world is “me.” Revival starts with each of us drawing a circle around ourselves and making sure everything within that circle is right with God.

Proud vs Broken

ATTITUDES TOWARD OTHERS

1. PROUD PEOPLE FOCUS ON THE FAILURES OF OTHERS AND CAN READILY POINT OUT THOSE FAULTS.

Broken people are more conscious of their own spiritual need than of anyone else’s.

2. PROUD PEOPLE HAVE A CRITICAL, FAULTFINDING SPIRIT. THEY LOOK AT EVERYONE ELSE’S FAULTS WITH A MICROSCOPE BUT VIEW THEIR OWN WITH A TELESCOPE.

Broken people are compassionate – they have the kind of love that overlooks a multitude of sins; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.

3. PROUD PEOPLE ARE ESPECIALLY PRONE TO CRITICIZE THOSE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY – THEIR PASTOR, THEIR BOSS, THEIR HUSBAND, THEIR PARENTS – AND THEY TALK TO OTHERS ABOUT THE FAULTS THEY SEE.

Broken people reverence, encourage and lift up those that God has placed in positions of authority, and they talk to God in intercession, rather than gossiping about the faults they see in others.

4. PROUD PEOPLE ARE SELF-RIGHTEOUS; THEY THINK HIGHLY OF THEMSELVES AND LOOK DOWN ON OTHERS.

Broken people think the best of others; they esteem others as better than themselves.

5. PROUD PEOPLE HAVE AN INDEPENDENT, SELF-SUFFICIENT SPIRIT.

Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for God and for others.

ATTITUDES ABOUT RIGHTS

6. PROUD PEOPLE HAVE TO PROVE THAT THEY ARE RIGHT – THEY HAVE TO GET THE LAST WORD.

Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

7. PROUD PEOPLE CLAIM RIGHTS AND HAVE A DEMANDING SPIRIT.

Broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit.

8. PROUD PEOPLE ARE SELF-PROTECTIVE OF THEIR TIME, THEIR RIGHTS, AND THEIR REPUTATION.

Broken people are self-denying and self-sacrificing.

ATTITUDES ABOUT SERVICE AND MINISTRY

9. PROUD PEOPLE DESIRE TO BE SERVED – THEY WANT LIFE TO REVOLVE AROUND THEM AND THEIR OWN NEEDS.

Broken people are motivated to serve others and to be sure others’ needs are met before their own.

10. PROUD PEOPLE DESIRE TO BE KNOWN AS A SUCCESS.

Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others successful.

11. PROUD PEOPLE HAVE A FEELING – CONSCIOUS OR SUBCONSCIOUS – THAT “THIS MINISTRY (OR THIS ORGANIZATION) IS PRIVILEGED TO HAVE ME AND MY GIFTS.” THEY FOCUS ON WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR GOD.

Broken people have a heart attitude that says, “I don’t deserve to have any part in this ministry; ” they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

ATTITUDES ABOUT RECOGNITION

12. PROUD PEOPLE CRAVE SELF-ADVANCEMENT

Broken people desire to promote others.

13. PROUD PEOPLE HAVE A DRIVE TO BE RECOGNIZED AND APPRECIATED FOR THEIR EFFORTS.

Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.

14. PROUD PEOPLE GET WOUNDED WHEN OTHERS ARE PROMOTED AND THEY ARE OVERLOOKED.

Broken people are eager for others to get the credit, and they rejoice when others are lifted up.

15. PROUD PEOPLE ARE ELATED BY PRAISE AND DEFLATED BY CRITICISM.

Broken people know that any praise of their accomplishments belongs to the Lord and that criticism can help them grow into spiritual maturity.

ATTITUDES ABOUT THEMSELVES

16. PROUD PEOPLE FEEL CONFIDENT IN HOW MUCH THEY KNOW.

Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

17. PROUD PEOPLE ARE SELF-CONSCIOUS; THEY WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF THEM.

Broken people are not preoccupied with what others think of them.

18. PROUD PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT APPEARING RESPECTABLE; THEY ARE DRIVEN TO PROTECT THEIR IMAGE AND REPUTATION.

Broken people are concerned with being real; they care less about what others think than about what God knows – they are willing to die to their own reputation.

19. PROUD PEOPLE CAN’T BEAR TO FAIL OR FOR ANYONE TO THINK THEY ARE LESS THAN PERFECT. THIS CAN DRIVE THEM TO EXTREMES – WORKAHOLIC TENDENCIES, PERFECTIONISM, THE TENDENCY TO DRIVE OTHERS OR TO PLACE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ON THEMSELVES OR OTHERS.

Broken people can recognize and live within God-given limitations.

ATTITUDES ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

20. PROUD PEOPLE KEEP OTHERS AT ARM’S LENGTH.

Broken people are willing to take the risks of getting close to others and loving intimately.

21. PROUD PEOPLE ARE QUICK TO BLAME OTHERS.

Broken people accept personal responsibility and can acknowledge where they were wrong in a situation.

22. PROUD PEOPLE WAIT FOR OTHERS TO COME AND ASK FORGIVENESS WHEN THERE IS A MISUNDERSTANDING FOR A BREACH IN A RELATIONSHIP.

Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled, no matter how wrong the other party may have been.

23. PROUD PEOPLE ARE UNAPPROACHABLE OR DEFENSIVE WHEN CORRECTED.

Broken people receive correction with a humble, open spirit.

24. PROUD PEOPLE FIND IT DIFFICULT TO DISCUSS THEIR SPIRITUAL NEEDS WITH OTHERS.

Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.

25. PROUD PEOPLE TRY TO CONTROL THE PEOPLE AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES AROUND THEM – THEY ARE PRONE TO MANIPULATE.

Broken people trust in God – they rest in Him and are able to wait for Him to act on their behalf.

26. PROUD PEOPLE BECOME BITTER AND RESENTFUL WHEN THEY ARE WRONGED; THEY HAVE EMOTIONAL TEMPER TANTRUMS; THEY HOLD OTHERS HOSTAGE AND ARE EASILY OFFENDED; THEY CARRY GRUDGES AND KEEP A RECORD OF OTHERS’ WRONGS.

Broken people give thanks in all things; they are quick to forgive and those who wrong them.

ATTITUDES ABOUT SIN

27. PROUD PEOPLE WANT TO BE SURE THAT NO ONE FINDS OUT WHEN THEY HAVE SINNED; THEIR INSTINCT IS TO COVER UP.

Broken people aren’t overly concerned with who knows or who finds out about their sin – they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

28. PROUD PEOPLE HAVE A HARD TIME SAYING “I WAS WRONG; WILL YOU PLEASE FORGIVE ME?”

Broken people are quick to admit their failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

29. PROUD PEOPLE TEND TO DEAL IN GENERALITIES WHEN CONFESSING THEIR SIN TO GOD (“DEAR LORD, PLEASE FORGIVE ME FOR ALL MY SINS…”) OR EXPRESSING SPIRITUAL NEED TO OTHERS (“I NEED TO BE A BETTER CHRISTIAN…”).

Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin: “Lord, I agree with You that I love myself more than I love my mate; I confess that I am addicted to television; I’m a glutton; I have a critical spirit; I am an angry mother…”

30. PROUD PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR SIN. THEY ARE DISTURBED OVER THE PROBLEMS CAUSED BY THEIR SIN – FOR EXAMPLE, THE FINANCIAL BONDAGE CREATED BY THEIR OVERSPENDING, OR THE PROBLEMS IN THEIR MARRIAGE THAT HAVE RESULTED FROM SELFISHNESS AND IMMORAL CHOICES.

Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin. They are more concerned about how their sin has grieved and dishonored God than about the problems it has created in their lives.

31. PROUD PEOPLE ARE REMORSEFUL OVER THEIR SIN – SORRY THAT THEY GOT CAUGHT OR FOUND OUT.

Broken people are truly repentant over their sin, and the evidence of their repentance is that they forsake the sin.

ATTITUDES ABOUT THEIR WALK WITH GOD

32. PROUD PEOPLE ARE BLIND TO THE TRUE CONDITION OF THEIR HEARTS.

Broken people walk in the light and acknowledge the truth about their lives.

33. PROUD PEOPLE COMPARE THEMSELVES WITH OTHERS AND FEEL WORTHY OF RESPECT.

Broken people compare themselves with the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.

34. PROUD PEOPLE DON’T THINK THEY NEED TO REPENT OF ANYTHING.

Broken people realize that they need to maintain a continual heart attitude of repentance.

35. PROUD PEOPLE DON’T THINK THEY NEED REVIVAL, BUT THEY ARE SURE EVERYONE ELSE DOES. (IN FACT, RIGHT ABOUT NOW THEY ARE MAKING A MENTAL LIST OF THE PEOPLE THEY THINK NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!)

Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

from “Brokenness” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss