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I saw a documentary about cults recently. As I watched all the craziness of their leaders, I was struck by one underlying common element. They all maintained a strong sense of control and manipulation. Sometimes the manipulation took the form of subtle suggestions in their teachings.
Sometimes the control was enforced with guilt over money. Sometimes the leaders used intimidation and ridicule of its members.Sometimes they struck fear in the hearts of their followers by predicting their destruction if any were disobedient. I was amazed with how similar the behaviors are in the wof teachings. I know that I may lose some of you here…you think I am calling wof a cult. Well…it is cultish in some of its teachings and behaviors.
John and I learned these ways of pastoring at bible school. We have said this to fellow classmates before and they said that they never learned such things in school with us. That is true, these things may not have been taught in a class called “Controlling the Vision 101″ but they were certainly demonstrated. It was often said that the ‘spirit is better caught than taught’ so maybe that is how we picked up on these things.
I have heard with my own ears pastors and teachers use techniques that are designed to illicit a predictable response. Even they may not be aware of the affect of their own behavior. I wasn’t and neither was John. Both of us have come to realize that we did some things terribly wrong. Not out of any malice but because we were taught to do it that way. I guess one of the worst things that I noticed about myself is how judgmental I had become.
Judging everyone’s motives (which is their heart and that is God’s job). I have seen good people leave a church and be ridiculed from the pulpit.
Bullied, called names etc. I have heard a well-known television teacher say that ‘occassionally even the Body of Christ needs a bowel movement” after a large group left his church.I have heard pastors have in guest speakers to ‘whip’ the congregation for him when he had lost control. The speaker went so far as to say the ones that left would be dead within a year because of their leaving the church offended. What do you think that does to the remaining members? Do you think they would ever have the guts to ask a question? or heaven forbid decide to go to a different church? When John and I came home from Bible school we were told that there was one wof pastor in our area and that he ‘had the vision’ for our town. We were told to go see him before we started our church out of repect. (Sounds like the mafia, huh?) We went to see him. After we poured out our heart with what we thought the Lord wanted us to do, he kicked back in his chair, put his feet up on the desk and said,”If the Lord wanted another wof church in this area he would have told me, and He didn’t”. How puffed up is that??
I have heard the ‘prophet’ say that the Lord told him that if someone didn’t receive a word he had for them then they were in danger.
I have seen tithing records and credit checks accompany job applications at some ministries. I have heard one minister that fires his employees if they hit a rough spot and don’t tithe. I have heard ministers ridicule poor suffering family members after they had buried a child. And they did it publically from the pulpit!
Some churches encourage you not to read anything but wof material.
Relationships with family members of other denominations are sometimes strained and eventually destroyed because of differences in doctrine. The wof has all the light therefore anyone else just isn’t worth hearing. I know of one person that wouldn’t even read a book that John had suggested because the author wasn’t ‘Spirit-filled’. Never mind that he was a respected professor at a major seminary with several published works. Instead of bringing the whole Body of Christ into fellowship, the wof has caused a huge rift.
I am writing all these things because I know that at some point in the past I too have been guilty. I have judged, bullied, ridiculed and hurt people. I have repented and I am truly sorry. The wof is very dangerous. The top leaders are becoming more and more outrageous with their teachings. I truly believe that this erroneous teaching is an end-time effort to deceive the very elect of God. It is devastating spiritually to those who have been a part and have come out of this group. There are people that have literally lost their lives and died ‘in faith’. The leaders will say that they have never told someone not to go to the doctor but there was suggestions through stories. Congregations want to live up to the example they see in their leaders. When a leader declares boldly that they have not been sick or have not gone to the doctor for symptoms, then the people try to mimick that behavior. It’s wrong!
Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Begin to ask the Lord to show you the truth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your responsibility and it is the only way to keep yourself safe in these very uncertain days.
To anyone I may have offended, I sincerely apologize. I pray for you to be healed and delivered from any false doctrine. Hold fast! Cling to what is good and run from evil!