Nyssa’s Opinions on Theology and the Church–Page 2
conversion story here
Page 2 Topics:
—Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology, Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
—More about Pat Robertson
—Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
—Women in Marriage/the Church
Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology, Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it:
These doctrines suffer from the serious error of thinking God is there to make you rich and/or to make all your dreams come true.
God never promised he would provide us with a spouse, a fancy house, a wonderful career, perfect health, or even children. God never promised he would take away all our suffering, hard times, or poverty.
He did promise to keep us fed and clothed and to be with us as someone who can empathize. Suffering, hard times and poverty are seen as leading us to salvation.
“Name it and claim it” sounds like demanding God do something for you, rather than “humbly bringing all your requests to him.” Who are we to demand God give us anything?
(I also write extensively about Pat here, regarding Charismatic sign-gifts and their legitimacy.)
I believe that, mixed in with the true things he says, that he also says many false things, and sometimes even dangerous ones spiritually or politically.
In addition to what I wrote on page 1, here are more of my reasons why Pat Robertson should be dismissed as a charlatan and a liar both about politics and spiritual things, and why The 700 Club should be treated as a whacked-out religious far-right propaganda machine rather than a good, Christian show:
I watched The 700 Club from 1987 or 1988 until maybe 1993, plus occasionally around 1985 or 1986 when I was 12. That would be my late teens until my very early 20s. I heard many things that later turned out to be wrong.
- For example, Dungeons and Dragons is not a Satanic game that will possess you with demons and make you want to become a Satan worshipper.
- The existence of Satanic Ritual Abuse is highly questionable, though the occasional psycho may imitate it.
- We did not get the whole story on various news stories about liberal vs. conservative issues. They were more heavily biased on the conservative side than even the “liberal media” supposedly was on the liberal side. (They were like Fox News is today.)
- God has not been taken out of the schools with some sort of Nazi vigor, and personal prayer is not forbidden. Christian students are not being persecuted left and right by school systems. (It may happen, but probably not that often.) My high school allowed us to post Campus Life announcements and have a prayer group in a classroom after school.
- Operation Rescue is not necessarily doing the right thing with their “civil disobedience.”
- Liberals and Democrats are not the servants of the Evil One.
- Feminists did not cause the downfall of civilization.
- The government persecution of Christians in the USA is greatly overrated, and we do not need new laws to fight it (or to take rights from other groups).
- Celebrating Halloween does not mean you are corrupting children or worshipping Satan.
- Creationism has no business in a science classroom, unless you’re also going to include the creation stories of every other religion.
Pat Robertson would go off by himself every year to pray and fast and get prophecies from God about the coming year. On the show, the co-host would read over his predictions from the last year and say how they all came true. Then Pat would give his predictions for the coming year.
I believed in this for some time because I would write them down and they all seemed to come true. I taped the show, so I got his words exactly.
Of course, I have a copy of Pat’s Perspective from March-April 1992. It’s especially amusing how he congratulated himself on the first page for telling Perspective readers in advance about all the things that would happen during the war.
He may have been right about that, but more often than not, this copy of the Perspective is filled with things that turned out to be wrong.
For example, by now we’re supposed to be under New Age leadership in the New World Order and facing devastating consequences for our Christian freedom. We all know that hasn’t happened.
Also, George H.W. Bush ran for re-election with his sitting VP, Dan Quayle, not with Colin Powell.
Starting at the end of the Gulf War, Pat said God told him that Bush would ride the euphoria of a successful war all the way into re-election in 1992. He kept saying this, so there was no mistaking what he said.
He also blamed liberals and Democrats for society’s ills and for leading America down a path of unrighteousness.
So I supported Bush and, even when I thought maybe Clinton had a better position on some issue, I’d think, “What’s the point of supporting Clinton when Bush is going to win?”
So I wore the button and followed the Republican party line. I proudly stated who I was voting for, and expected all those misguided Clinton-supporters surrounding me to be sorely disappointed when the election finally came around. They said Clinton would win and how they did not like Bush; I secretly laughed.
When polls showed Clinton in the lead, I knew the polls were wrong and could not change what God proclaimed. When Bush won, I would hold my head high because I voted for the winner.
Well, we all know what happened in 1992. I watched the election returns in disbelief as Clinton decisively defeated Bush.
I watched The 700 Club every night afterwards for Pat’s explanation. Ben Kinchlow finally brought it up one day.
He said this guy came up to him with tears running down his face and said, “What happened?” Pat’s response: “I guess I missed it.”
Now there is a philosophy out there that these days, prophets can occasionally be wrong. Pat and such writers as Jack Deere hold to this philosophy, that sometimes prophets think they hear God but it’s really themselves, and that prophets should never say, “thus says the Lord.”
But where does the Bible say things have changed? It clearly states that if a prophet is ever wrong, that is a false prophet and not from God. And the biblical prophets surely must have known how to tell the difference between themselves and God’s voice, because they repeatedly said, “thus says the Lord.”
Benny Hinn is in this same category. He once came on The 700 Club and said he’d been taken into a trance by God, who took his spirit over various parts of the earth and showed him things that would happen in the 1990s.
In naïve gullibility, I wrote these things down exactly. I’m not sure where that paper is now, but I remember that few, if any, of those things came true.
- I remember him saying that two of God’s “great giants” would die in the 90s. I thought this meant Billy Graham (or even Pat Robertson).
- I remember there was supposed to be a wondrous revival in which people would be in the parking lot on their way into church, and get healed.
- One of the prophecies I remember distinctly: “Castro’s Cuba will fall in the 90s.” Well, that never happened.
- I remember a prophecy in the early 90s that there would be an economic collapse and only the givers in the church would survive. Was that Benny Hinn? There are accounts of him saying such things in 1999, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he said it on The 700 Club in the early 90s as well. Or it could have been Pat Robertson, giving one of his own yearly prophecies.
So Benny Hinn is also a false prophet who, like Pat Robertson, has lots of followers and tons of money coming in. And if they’re false prophets, then their faith healing, “words of knowledge”/prophecies, and religious teachings are also suspect.
This website lists many prophecies for the 90s, several of which sound like the ones on my missing paper. (Also note that God destroying the homosexual community with fire in the mid-90s is greeted with a round of applause.) He says that Fidel Castro will die in the 90s. Um, no.: Benny Hinn Prophesies for the Mid-90s
A simple Google search on “Benny Hinn prophecy 90s Castro” reveals many more websites exposing Benny Hinn’s false prophecies.
On faith healers in general, naming several well-known ones: The Hurt of Healing
Check out this video exposing fake evangelists: Marjoe Gortner Exposes Fake Preachers It’s about an “evangelist” who conned congregations for years, explaining how he did it.
I’ve found references to these allegations against Pat Robertson in various news sources: Pat Robertson’s Right-Wing Gold Mine by Bill Sizemore, Pat Robertson’s Gold by Colbert I. King
Wikipedia has three good articles on Pat Robertson, collecting various facts and references together in one place so you can research them further: The 700 Club, Pat Robertson, Pat Robertson Controversies
ABC exposé on Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing during the Katrina disaster: Some Question Robertson’s Katrina Charity
Quoted from Deception in the Church:
Gerry Straub, a former associate of Pat Robertson and his television producer, pointed out that in his book Salvation for Sale the astonishing fact that God seemed able to time miracles to conform with standard television format.
God would stop speaking to Pat and stop healing exactly in time with the theme music. He described his former employer’s “Word of Knowledge” performance:
“There was nothing ‘mystical’ to understand; it was simply ‘statistical’. Robertson’s little faith-healing procedure is a charade — he simply ‘calls out’ an illness and predicts its cure, and with millions of viewers the statistical probabilities are that someone will have the disease named and that they they will naturally recover. People put their faith in the belief that God speaks to Pat.” (James Randi, The Faith Healers, 1989, p.201)
(Gerry) Straub relates a nonmiracle he witnessed while still a believer in the ministry he worked for. He describes Robertson, at the close of a ‘700 Club’ videotaping, shaking hands with members of the studio audience:
“He stopped when he reached a man sitting in a wheelchair … Pat … laid hands on him as everyone prayed for healing … at Pat’s urging the man stood up. The people cheered as the man took a couple of very shaky, small steps.
“While everyone applauded God, I feared the man might fall. The next day we showed the nation the miracle (on the ‘700 Club’ broadcast). I simply wanted to know if the old man in the wheelchair was permanently healed by God or if he temporarily thought that he was healed.
“A few weeks later I had an assistant track down the man’s family in order to see if the cure had lasted. He had died 10 days after his visit to [the Christian Broadcasting Netwark]. We reported his ‘healing’ but not his death.” (James Randi, The Faith Healers, 1989, p.201)
“(Gerry) Staub sums up his experience with faith-healing in the Robertson ministry with these words:
“During my two and a half years at [Christian Broadcasting Network], I never saw one clear-cut, ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt’ type of healing; however, I did see a tremendous amount of faith in healing — cleverly created, I believe, by Pat Robertson …
“The prophet-turned-healer could have been described as prophet-turned-fake for the sake of profit.” (James Randi, The Faith Healers, 1989, p.202)
For many years, Pat Robertson’s book Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions had an honored place on my bookshelf. But on the night of June 14, 2005, I flipped through it and realized that it is full of errors, particularly prosperity theology.
There is the error of seeing spirits/demons in everything, even things that are easily explained by human nature.
And don’t forget his teachings that you can get words of wisdom/knowledge (prophecies) in your everyday life by following these simple steps.
Apparently these teachings come out of the charismatic traditions. The last two teachings in particular, on demons and prophecies, really screwed me up in college. Freshman and sophomore years would have gone a lot easier if I hadn’t seen demons in everything and followed words of wisdom that were not real.
Yet I did as Pat said when I got the “words,” and even tested them! Despite what some people might have thought, I was not going off the deep end; I was just misguided by a popular show and charismatic teachings.
By some accounts, The 700 Club is the “most respected” Christian TV show! And, after feeling like it was just me, I have since discovered that all sorts of people have done the same things I have, getting words about whom they’ll marry (and getting it wrong), seeing demons and spiritual warfare in everything, etc.
I’m told that young people are especially susceptible to these things, wanting to be special, feeling passionate about God, wanting to know God’s will as they make big decisions about careers and spouses, and wanting to see the supernatural in their lives.
This is a real-life demonstration for you of the harm that such teachings can cause. I shudder to think now of how this affected me in college and the actions I took because of it. I would have let go of my ex much sooner if I could’ve simply listened to friends who said he has either changed a lot, or he only pretended to be what you wanted.
If not for the deception of the “words,” I could’ve seen he was not right for me, and God did not “choose” him for me. Instead, I fought my “unbelief” and strove to “lean on the promise” even when I fell out of love and wanted to move on.
I don’t think we need to consult God on everything from breakfast to whether or not to accept a date to what career to choose. I don’t believe he is into micromanaging our lives; he has enough to do already. Instead, we should read the Bible and learn how to make these decisions ourselves in keeping with God’s principles.
In 200 Questions, Pat gave some reasons why someone would pray for healing and not get it:
- We do not “exercise true spiritual discernment” (for the cause of an illness),
- “[o]ur access to power is clouded by sin and unbelief, or earthly cares,”
- “many people have been taught that God does not heal today,”
- some people enjoy being sick (“an excuse not to face up to life”), they don’t want to be healed,
- “unconfessed sin,”
- demons are causing the sickness and need to be cast out,
- they are not receptive or do not appreciate the promises and the truth of God (p.238-239).
Basically, it all comes down to you. It apparently has nothing to do with God healing through medicine, God’s will, or natural forces. It ignores the fact that many devout Christians suffer from chronic illness, arthritis, even a disability.
But in the book of Job we are taught not to call sickness or calamity a punishment for sin. So if we are not healed, how does it follow that our sin is the reason? How about an easier answer: It’s because the faith healer is a charlatan!
In 200 Questions, there is a lot of stuff about moneymaking: If you invest this much for so long, you can end up with $50 million. Why does financial advice belong in a religious book?
Another page says you can do “anticipatory tithing”: “Consider the income that you anticipate receiving, and tithe as if you already had it” (p. 146).
There’s that old prosperity doctrine again! Tithing is supposed to be an offering, not an “investment” with expectation of returns! And how about this:
Thinking about [tithing] causes me to speculate on an ideal taxation system. It would be wonderful if 10 percent of everyone’s income would go toward religious instruction, teaching, and worship so that the whole population could be instructed in the Word of God.
Then, a second 10 percent could go for welfare, roads, harbors, various social projects, old age relief, and any other social needs.
Then, another 5 percent or so could be spent on personal vacations. Not vacations that were orgies of lust and personal pleasure, but vacations where people rested, worshiped and enjoyed God, thanking Him for what He had done.
This would be a time when people could go to pleasant places and eat good food. They could relax, praise the Lord, and acknowledge that He is in their midst.
This plan would require 25 percent of our national income. I believe that if we adopted the first 10 percent for religious training, our needs for welfare would be reduced dramatically as people began to look after their own elderly and their own sick, thereby reducing the burden on government (p. 145-146).
I’m not making this up. It’s right there in the book. It’s wrong on SO many levels.
Even your vacation plans have to be religious under this government taxation system?
Somehow I don’t think Congress and the many Americans of other faiths (and no faith) would go for that system! I wouldn’t because I have a bad feeling about what Pat means by “instructed in the Word of God.”
I don’t want to live in any sort of theocracy–fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Christian, fundamentalist anything.
(Though Pat speaks of a future “theocracy” under the reign of Christ on Earth, I lean more toward the interpretation that Christ’s reign is a spiritual one, not a political one. It is not limited by time or earthly systems; it does not have to wait for the “Millennium,” and does not have to end after 1000 years. I believe we are already in the Millennium.)
And maybe you don’t have even that 5% for personal vacations because you have a tiny income that hasn’t been properly “blessed.”
And maybe there are people who don’t “look after their own elderly and their own sick” because they can’t, not because they’re degenerates who don’t take responsibility. Sometimes getting a nurse is the responsible thing to do, because you’re already stretched to the limit by holding down a job and raising a family–or you’re sick yourself.
And 25% is pretty high; isn’t that more like the level of taxation that the wealthy get?
Don’t forget that after all those taxes, tithing 10 percent is an “irreducible minimum” (term used p. 146). There’s 35% of your income gone right there, no deductions, no progressive taxation levels.
If you made only $20,000 a year, you’d have $13,000 left to live on. And you’d be living in a theocracy based on a faith you may not even share.
Yeah, sure even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes. Sometimes Pat says things that are actually true.
But considering what Pat Robertson says about such things as prosperity theology–
and the way he makes the Republican Party sound like God’s Own Party and the Democrat Party sound like moral degenerates–
I would trust nothing that comes out of his mouth unless I can back it up in Scripture. That includes his teachings on words of knowledge/wisdom.
It’s scary to think of the influence this guy has, and the influence he once had on me. It took many years of progressively discovering the truth, to break out of his programming.
I have read webpages which charge Pat Robertson with not being a Christian. I will not go that far.
But I am convinced that The 700 Club is not just an innocent TV program giving God’s perspective and teaching God’s truth.
I believe it is being used not only to spread false doctrines that twist God’s word, whether out of Pat’s design or ignorance, but also to form a far-right political army to push its own agenda on the rest of the country.
I believe Pat is being treated as a prophet so that this “army” will not only listen to him, but send him money.
I believe that these things are poisoning the Evangelical church.
This columnist expresses what Pat Robertson-type teachings are doing to the Evangelical church, though he does not name Pat (who is probably not the only one teaching them): A Too-Thin Slice of “Moral Values” by Ed Scholl
I believed he told us the truth: That in 1972 he died from a head injury, went to Heaven, and was returned to Earth because it was not his time yet; that Christ had then shown him Hell.
One of the things Christ told him was that he would not die before Christ returned for His church. Since he was already in his 80s, that meant the Rapture could not be far off.
A few years ago, I checked up on this story, wondering if Richard Eby was still alive and waiting for the Rapture.
Richard Eby died on December 26, 2002.
His followers have, of course, tried to say that Christ’s words were misinterpreted, or used other explanations such as the ones here (Christ reincarnated) and here (reworking past claim to mean that Rapture will come right after his death).
Check out the false prophecies used to explain it here.
But it’s more likely that Christ never said any such thing to him, that Eby either wanted fame and money, or his severe head injury gave him hallucinations.
So I have to forget everything Eby told us about Heaven and Hell because it is speculation–just as everyone else speculates on what Heaven and Hell will be like.
His books can still be bought from Amazon.com; comments there claim that Eby was misquoted. But I read his books and I heard his account on TV: He was not misquoted.
Heaven Can’t Wait: A Survey of Alleged Trips to the Other Side by William M. Alnor critiques various accounts of Heaven and Hell, putting them through the grinder of biblical truth–including those of Richard Eby. It even describes a racist one from the turn of the century, in which all black people become white in Heaven.
I was once engaged to a guy who insisted I say “obey” in the marriage ceremony. I said I would not. He said, “I thought you weren’t one of those feminists.”
He was Catholic. My parents, who would pay for the ceremony, would hold it in our Nazarene church; neither “obey” nor “submit” was in the Nazarene marriage vows.
I never heard in church that I should be an obedient wife. I refused to have the pastor put “obey” into the marriage vows.
We sometimes argued about this; my fiancé seemed to think that if I didn’t promise to obey him, then if he told me not to go out and have affairs, I would go ahead and have affairs (for example).
The “obey” disagreement was only a symptom of his control issues and emotional abuse. Eventually he broke up with me, probably tired of my sticking up for myself and refusing to be a doormat.
(Why did I stay with him? It was probably a combination of, trouble getting dates and hoping he would change. I suppose I loved him, too.)
His next girlfriend was even more of a “feminist” than I was, so I’m surprised they lasted so long, but they did have a tumultuous relationship and finally broke up.
After finding and marrying a much better man who did not care about wifely obedience, we went to a church which preached a different meaning of submission.
It wasn’t about obedience; it was about the wife submitting to the husband voluntarily and the husband submitting to the wife. The wife was to respect her husband; the husband was to love his wife.
“Respect” also included “respect for the husband’s role as spiritual head of the household.” That meant, he would make the decision if there was an impasse, and he was in charge of the spiritual health of the household.
This was much better than how such people as my ex-fiancé interpreted it, because it allowed the woman to have her own opinions and influence decisions. However, she still seemed to have a second-class status.
I even read an article by Lisa Whelchel in Today’s Christian Woman which said the husband should take over the finances, no matter how bad he was at it! (I guess my own mother was a “sinner,” then.) My own childhood church never taught that! And I wondered how to explain Peter praising Sarah for obeying Abraham and calling him “master.”
Actually, when you take scripture as a whole instead of in bits and pieces, both the husband and the wife are to be totally equal. Christ explains that rulers in the Church are not to lord it over their followers as earthly rulers would–which he himself demonstrated by example when he went to the Cross to pay the debt to death which freed us from sin and death (Matt. 20:25-28).
St. Paul says that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. So if the husband is the head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the head of the Church, then he is to love her and give himself up for her, not act like “the king of the castle” who must be obeyed.
Here’s an Orthodox view: An Orthodox, Christian Perspective of Marriage by Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides
St. John Chrysostom wrote that “a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other, but of both partners obeying each other.” While “the husband giving orders, and the wife obeying them” is “appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage” (p. 72, On Living Simply). They are obedient to each others’ needs and feelings.
He also wrote that a harsh master, using angry words and threats, causes obedience but not attachment in a slave, who will run away the first chance he gets. “How much worse it is for a husband to use angry words and threats to his wife.”
Chrysostom went on to describe what, even in our modern age, still plays itself out every day: a husband shouting, demanding obedience to his every whim, even using violence. But this treatment turns wives into “sullen servants, acting as their husbands require out of cold fear. Is this the kind of union you want? Does it really satisfy you to have a wife who is petrified of you? Of course not.”
Such behavior may make the husband feel better for the moment, “but it brings no lasting joy or pleasure. Yet if you treat your wife as a free woman, respecting her ideas and intuitions, and responding with warmth to her feelings and emotions, then your marriage shall be a limitless source of blessing to you” (p. 74).
Catharine P. Roth’s introduction to St. John Chrysostom’s On Marriage and Family Life, published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press (Orthodox), says the Pauline epistles give the impression of much freedom and equality between the sexes. They were missionaries and church patrons; the husband’s body was owned by his wife, just as her body was owned by her husband.
But eventually, “the roles of women became restricted, probably to avoid provoking too much conflict with the surrounding patriarchal society.”
Pagan fathers, husbands or masters needed to know their daughters, wives or slaves would still submit to them if they became Christians; “otherwise life could become very difficult for the women.”
This is why some New Testament epistles tell the women to hold to their traditional roles. In time, this survival strategy became the norm even in Christian families, so rather than overthrow it, Christian teachers tried to “mitigate its exercise or at best transform it from within.” St. John Chrysostom, rather than trying to change the patriarchal tradition of marriage, taught couples to transform it with love (pp. 10-11).
This introduction–in a book published by an Orthodox press–suggests to me that we should look at marriage not so much in terms of who obeys whom, but in terms of how to love each other and meet each other’s needs. Outward customs can change from one culture or one century to another; what’s important is Christian love, respect and mutual submission.
Also read this article from the GOARCH website: Domestic Violence at Home: Cursory Observations by Kyriaki Karidoyanes Fitzgerald [Update 5/2/16: This link now appears to be redirecting to an erroneous link. I’ll keep it up in case it’s fixed.]
Now, of course, if you’re still not convinced that the husband and wife should submit to each other, not just the wife to the husband, then here’s a tip to get your wife to submit to you:
Act like you don’t care if she submits to you or not. Then, if she doesn’t, there will be no hard feelings between you. If she does, it will be willingly, with no resentment on her part.
Also note that yes, indeed, there were women apostles: Junia, Priscilla, Mary Magdalene, Thekla, Nina.
Phoebe was a deaconess (woman who ministered to women in ways improper for a male deacon) who got a personal recommendation from Paul: Apostolic Succession by Dr. Daniel F. Stramara, Jr. So when Paul says he does not allow a woman to teach, he can’t possibly mean that no woman can ever preach or teach men.
Even the Catholic Church, which at the present time is adamantly against women priests, recognizes “Fathers and Mothers of the Church,” or primary teachers of the Apostolic Tradition in the Early Church. Another class of teacher is called “The Doctors of the Church”; three were women. Teachers of the Church by Dr. Daniel F. Stramara, Jr.
St. Gregory of Nyssa held a lengthy dialogue with his learned sister in On the Soul and the Resurrection. He called her “The Teacher.”
Also see this article on Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles.
As for the Orthodox restriction against women priests: As explained to me by an Orthodox believer around 2006, there were women preachers in the Early Church, but not ordained women who distributed sacraments etc. Modern Protestant churches have preachers taking on the roles of priests, not just preaching but distributing sacraments and taking charge over a church, so we tend to lump the words together when examining the Early Church.
As the explanation continued, the Orthodox do not have a problem with women teaching men (though a layman who preaches is rare). They allow women all sorts of leadership roles, even the role of epistle reader in the Liturgy. The highest role possible for humankind in the Church, the Mother of God’s human incarnation, was given to a woman, Mary.
Who was the first apostle? As my priest explained it, it was not one of the Twelve Disciples–rather, it was Photini, the Samaritan woman at the well.
See Women’s Ordination by Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Orthodox writer who herself has preached in the Orthodox Church! She writes, “Non-sacramental ministry, such as preaching, is open to non-ordained people, as long as they are continuing in the faith and worship of the Orthodox Church, and in obedience to a spiritual father or confessor.” She also gives examples of Orthodox women evangelists, theologians, apologists, rulers, etc.
But Orthodoxy does have a problem with women distributing the sacraments, because the priest represents Christ giving Himself to the Church (the bride). The Eucharist is not just a memorial; it’s not just about Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross; it is also intimate communion with Christ, Christ and the Church (the bride) becoming one, a spiritual counterpart to marriage.
So in any church in which the Eucharist is seen as Christ’s real body and blood, if a woman distributes the sacraments, that’s vaguely homosexual (which is frowned upon in Orthodox marriage).
Is your church infected by spiritual abuse? The Apologetics Index has all sorts of links about this.
Also see Churches That Abuse and Recovering from Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth. These are full books on PDF. The guy who runs this website has a signed letter from Ronald Enroth giving him permission to scan these two books, both of which are out of print.
One practice, now widely discredited because it easily becomes spiritually abusive, was often used in the 60s and 70s: shepherding.
It’s giving yourself over to someone else, your “covering,” who makes all your decisions for you–even who to date or marry, how often to have sex, or what music to listen to.
If you disagree with your shepherd or suggest changes to the group rules, you just might find yourself out of the group, since the leadership makes all the decisions. Congregations may find themselves with no vote or voice.
In groups which decided the “shepherds” must be the opposite sex, shepherding has also led to adultery.
It has also led to broken people.
Unfortunately, shepherding seems to have re-emerged in many churches and Christian groups–ones which seem orthodox on the outside, so you must watch out for it.
I’ve heard of accountability groups, which seem to have come from this practice; take care that it does not match characteristics of shepherding.
I’ve also noted that talks about wifely submission sometimes use the same terms used in shepherding: i.e., the husband is the “covering” for the wife and she “submits to his decisions” no matter what.
Webpages on shepherding, what it is, how it’s abused:
The Shepherding Movement Comes of Age by Lynn and Sarah Leslie describes the practice of signing covenants, which exists in many groups and churches. It also implicates the Purpose-Driven Church model.
Willow Creek charges Promise Keepers and Willow Creek Church with shepherding. The writers are rather fundamentalist and I disagree with them on many points, but they still make interesting charges. Whether the charges are true or not, you be the judge.
Here and here, you can investigate whether Willow Creek practices shepherding. And here, you can check out Saddleback’s FAQ. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot on these sites. I’ve heard of restrictive covenants and the like, but don’t have proof of them.
Nowadays, you can also find blogs about spiritual abuse, on which you can share stories, find comfort and validation, and learn which churches to avoid. My favorites:
Healing from Complex Trauma and PTSD/CPTSD (includes posts about a spiritually abusive pastor)
Apologetics Index is an amazing resource. It covers many of the topics and people mentioned on my Theology Opinion pages.
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod gives its positions on various movements, including Word-Faith, the occult, and The Lodge, here.
Disclaimer: I am not a preacher, theologian, prophet or teacher. I’m just a Christian who loves to research theology and other subjects.
I used to be Evangelical and once I even watched “The 700 Club” religiously, but I’ve discovered there are many weaknesses in Evangelical theology and the applications of it. I believe in doctrinal truth, which ultimately led me to Orthodoxy.
I try to make my postings as accurate as possible, but there is always the possibility of error. These pages are, therefore, opinion–not theological dissertations–and a collection of links–a database, if you will, which I invite anyone to share with me.
Also, please note: In quotes, I try to follow the exact punctuation/grammar of the source. So if it’s wrong, blame the source.
This website is meant for informational and personal-musing use only, so no copyright infringement is intended.
Last updated 11/5/16
–End Times and Christian Zionism
–God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine
–Cat and Dog Theology
–Raising One’s Hands in Worship
–On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
–On church buildings
–The Message Bible
–The Purpose-Driven Life
–The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers
–The idea that God has someone in mind for you
–Literalism in Biblical interpretation
–Why do bad things happen?
–Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts? Or, how should we evangelize, then?
–Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
–Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
–Hell and the Nature of God
–Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday?
–Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
–How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?
–What about predestination?
–Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship
–An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God
–Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go?
–Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated)
–Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
–What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
–Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
–What is Worship?
–Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
–Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge
–Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
–Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week