62-2“Free will is the most basic and inviolate spiritual principal on earth.” Indeed, even God Almighty does not violate our free will and “make” us come to Him, but desires we come to Him.
1The Sociological Section of the Analysis claims to be built around the premise that human being possess free will and that this gift comes from their Creator. However, the Calvinism of the Executive Director of the NEIRR does not allow such a premise. This theology, and much of Reformation theology, denies the freedom of the will. It is absurd to be accused of violating another’s free will, as this entire section of the Analysis does, by those whose basic presuppositions deny its very existence. It will also be easily shown, from teachings and Freepaper articles too abundant to quote, that the Messianic Communities teaches that men have free will and will be judged accordingly.
The authors’ espousal of the freedom of the human will in the above quote are completely undermined by their embrace of the double predestination theories of John Calvin. To quote the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology:
“Calvin’s early interest in predestination gave place in controversy, and under increasing influence from Augustine and Bucer, to the full-fledged doctrine of double predestination which has sometimes been regarded as the heart of his theology. Though he shudders at the decree of reprobation, he holds it an unavoidable inference from scripture.”2
One is at least able to have a measure of human sympathy for Calvin in spite of his inhuman doctrines (and their violent applications in the city of Geneva in which he exercised magisterial power3); at least he shuddered at them. The decree of reprobation states, simply put, that God has already foreordained those who will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Since both the saved and the lost are predetermined in Calvin’s and Augustine’s theology,4 it is ludicrous for someone on this foundation to speak of the free will of human beings.
The decree of reprobation would, as an interesting sidelight, seem to classify as an inner doctrine of Christianity. It is treated much like the doctrine of infant damnation5 because both, with good reason, are no longer publicly proclaimed. They are reserved for the well-indoctrinated.
Calvin, like other luminaries of the Reformation, had no use for the doctrine of free will. He said:
“We declare that by God’s providence, not only heaven and earth and inanimate creatures, but also the counsels and wills of men are governed so as to move precisely to that end destined by Him.”6
Free will did not conform to his theology. Luther’s position on it is even better known. He wrote books railing against the very concept, as well as those who taught it. This is well illustrated by the Encyclopedia Brittanica:
“Erasmus, in his De liberio arbitrio, or “Concerning Free Will” (1524), attacked Luther’s doctrine of the enslaved will and provoked a resounding reply in Luther’s De Servo Arbitrio, or “Concerning the Bondage of the Will” (1525), a one-sided, violent treatise...”7
So, one may choose to believe in free will, or one may choose to be a Calvinist, but one may not choose to do both, nor believe in free will and subscribe to the teachings of Luther, at least not on their terms. John Calvin’s theology and his entire view of God is fundamentally in error. Men’s choices in this life are of the utmost significance, to be rewarded with eternal life or punished with eternal — the second — death, as their deeds deserve.8 From the most fundamental principles and doctrines we teach that men and women have free will.
The following paragraphs are a very small sampling of what members of the Messianic Communities are taught about man, his actions, his thoughts, and their consequences.
From First and Second Covenant, March 20, 1991, pages 15-17:
“After all is said and done, all men should fear God and keep His commandments, for there will be a judgment.” (Ecc 12:13-14)
Every good or bad deed done in secret will be brought to judgment. If you broadcast your good deeds, they will be recorded as bad deeds.
After all is said and done, He will find two categories of man who are worthy of eternal life. All others are worthless. Revelation 22:15 calls them dogs — worthless people who love and practice falsehood. They are not worthy of the nations but of the second death. They didn’t live according to the highest knowledge they had — just like Satan didn’t.
Genesis 12:3 speaks of Abraham’s seed. We are Abraham’s seed according to Galatians 3:29. Whoever treats them well will be blessed; whoever treats them badly will be cursed (Mt 25:34-36). Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me. You can see in that whole list who is cast into the Lake of Fire and who is not...
From the teaching, First and Second Death, April 2, 1991, pages 1-3:
“Those who have done good will live. But what good deeds is our Master speaking of? Many people do good deeds (homosexuals do good deeds), but if they are not based on Genesis 3:16-19 and Genesis 9:5,6, they are only self-righteous. It is not the employers who have gathered great wealth while neglecting to treat their employees with fairness and respect (down to clean bathrooms) and who then can give away large sums of money (and put their name on it) who have done good deeds. No, it is the hard-working men and women who have abided by the covenants, who have done good deeds consistent with keeping the wonderful covenants of Genesis 3 and 9 who will be resurrected to life.
“It is these men and women who persevere in doing good (Rom 2:7) who will be granted immortal life. Their good deeds were not self-righteous endeavors to soothe their consciences for breaking the covenants of Genesis 3 and 9. All of Romans 2:6-16 is based on Jn 5:25-29. Verses 9 and 10 — to the Jew first and also to the Greek — this is the judgment of the nations, not the Edah. Verses 10 and 15 are those who will find life.
“He knew they would be amazed that all who are in the graves would hear His voice and some would find eternal life. It may have been that being Jews they couldn’t imagine Gentiles having eternal life — like Christians today think...”
The fundamental difference between Protestant Christianity and the Messianic Communities is that we teach, as our Master in Jn 5:28,29 and Matthew 25:31-46, that a man’s choices, apart from his ever having heard the gospel which could make him a disciple, have eternal significance. We believe in the dignity of man, and the greatness and goodness of God, not that He is as Bob Brooks wrote in our Billy Graham paper of the Summer of 1990:
“When I was seventeen, I had a Bible class on the book of Acts. Our teacher was a Calvinist. She taught us that one day God walked through a field of dead human beings, and according to His unfathomable reasoning, He chose some to live forever and some to go to eternal damnation; and since all were worthy of burning forever it didn’t really matter. I sat there wishing His reasoning was a little more fathomable because it left me feeling bad. Was God really that way? If all men deserved the sea of fire and He could save all, why didn’t He? I wasn’t too attracted or inspired by the idea.”
The NEIRR stands with Calvin and Luther on predestination and the human will; we do not. God is not that way. The NEIRR’s preoccupation with mind control reflects their view of God, not ours. They find common ground in the heart of their theology with militant secularists who deny God and free will completely:9
“All alternative religious groups are merely machines for pseudo-religious manipulation of persons who have lost their capacity to choose, and therefore participation in these groups is not to be considered an expression of an authentic religious impulse.” [Emphasis is in the original.]
Contrary to popular treatments, existing research by sociological investigators indicates there is no reason to believe that entry into an alternative religion evidences any different decision-making processes than entry into any other voluntary associations and activities common to a comparable population. One of the fascinating and disturbing aspects of this controversy is the manner in which some theorists — arguing from a deterministic mechanistic and/or positivistic philosophical anthropology — lament the alleged loss of the capacity for free will and free choice.
It is amazing that the rest of the Sociological Section finds us guilty of a control which our basic theology denies — a judgment made by those who espouse a freedom their theology denies!
62-2 With that in mind, we now consider how much of what does occur within the Messianic Communities is actually the result of uncoerced, well-informed, free choice.
In light of all that is written on in the Sociological Section, and especially in light of the authorities the Analysis cites, Lifton and Hassan, it is apparent that the authors believe that mind control exists. This is an amazing conclusion. It gives cult leaders, Chinese communists, deprogrammers, and exit counselors a greater access to the human soul than God Himself. He has to knock to gain access to the human heart (Rev 3:20). Neither God above nor the devil below have free access to the human heart — both must gain admittance through the consent of the individual. This upholds the dignity of humanity created in God’s image.
Further, how are the authors to find these things out, when they trust those who view Messiah as a hard task-master instead of those who see Him as a wonderful King? How are they to know that each individual makes his decisions to obey the Word or hold onto to his own life,10 when they trust the words of bitter ex-members over the testimony of happy, current members?
62-3 “?tremendous success of the advertising industry demonstrates a great susceptibility to being influenced. It is because of this influence people often make decisions they might otherwise have chosen not to make.”
As the following excerpts show, each with its responses, the Communities are portrayed as a totalistic environment where conformity of thought, action, and emotion is strenuously imposed on the unfortunate “average members.” However, to understand what is written in the Analysis, one must understand the sources which are drawn from. Steven Hassan’s simplification and application of Robert K. Lifton’s thinking in Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism is the principal one. Mr. Hassan is described on page 63 of the Analysis as “a fine researcher, excellent author, and former member of the Unification Church.”
On page 30 of his book, Combating Cult Mind Control, he puts these words in the mouth of Robert Lifton, “What you are saying is so much more sophisticated than what the Chinese did in the 50’s. It’s like a hybrid mutation of a virulent virus strain.” This was in response to Hassan’s description of workshops conducted by the Unification Church. After participating in some of these, Mr. Hassan voluntarily joined the church. Two years later he was forcibly removed through deprogramming. It is not surprising then, that he believes in mind control. Apart from the verified inability of these workshops to persuade more than one out of every 200 people who actually make it to one of the Unification Churches centers where they are held,11 the statement of Lifton is simply astonishing in the context of the things he himself wrote of in his study of Chinese thought reform techniques.
There he describes the massive physical and psychological assault these unfortunate men were subjected to. They lived with the continual undercurrent of the fear of execution. They were sometimes made to stand upright for days at a time, chained so tightly their ankles became open, infested, and infected sores. They were subject to beatings, haranguing, hopelessness and despair. The various responses of the men who had every reason to believe they faced a lifetime of this is compared — with a straight face — to what Mr. Hassan went through at teaching seminars where he could have gotten up and walked off any time he wanted to. It is worse than compared — the sufferings and the stresses on those imprisoned by the Chinese communists are actually belittled in Mr. Lifton’s words, by saying that these lectures were a more effective inducement to cooperation than the imminent fear of death and the unrelieved prospect of misery.
This is truly amazing. It is a good thing the Roman Empire did not know this, or they would have dispensed with the lions and brought on the ferocious lecturers of the anti-Christian movement. To echo the apostle Paul, I speak as one insane. This exalted concept of mind control is a slap in the face to the very people Mr. Lifton wrote about, not to mention the martyrs of the early Christian era, the victims of the Inquisition who would not recant, the Jews who would not convert, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses who would not cooperate — like the good German Christians did12 — with Adolf Hitler’s criminal regime, all these at the cost of possessions, life, limb, and often the most excruciating and humiliating physical agony. I think they could have taken a few lectures and retained control of their minds.
The success of the advertising industry does demonstrate a great susceptibility to being influenced. This is part of human nature, and everyone is accountable for the choices he makes — even the things he listens to.13 This aspect of men touches on the power of the gospel in Paul’s words. Paul was fully persuaded himself of the good news, “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor 5:11). If we’re not, then we won’t have the confidence to persuade others. Faith is the absence of doubt, and we speak from that faith.
62-5 What is of concern, however, is the extent to which one is expected to acquiesce in a totalistic environment.
14We are thankful to serve the Savior who spoke these words:
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mk 12:29-30)
Totalism is defined on page 63 of the Analysis as “behavior control ... (which) invades even the most insignificant areas of a person’s life.” The question for us is, in Mk 12, what did our Master leave out? We want to give Him everything. We cannot find the areas of our life He is not concerned about, but neither are we looking. The Savior we serve is worthy of a total commitment from His disciples, beginning with their possessions (Lk 14:31-33) and reaching down to their very thoughts (Mt 5:21-6:34; 2 Cor 10:5). We have seen His worth, and we can only respond by valuing Him higher than our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, even our own lives (Mt 10:37-39).
So the question is once again one of the will: whether we have had our lives invaded or whether we have voluntarily surrendered out lives. This cannot be determined by mere observation of whether we conform to certain standards. It can only be determined by our personal testimony.
We want to be like Him, coming to the place where everything we do, say, and think is what our heavenly Father wants us to be doing and saying and thinking (Jn 5:19 and 12:49). We want to be able to say, like our Master, that we do nothing on our own initiative (Jn 8:28). Those who think the New Covenant asks less of them have never known Him. Those who teach He asks for less are preaching another gospel (Gal 1:8).
62-5 An environment where all is proscribed and the member’s very salvation and eternal life are at stake.
To begin with, we believe and know to be the truth, “Whoever keeps My word will never taste death” (Jn 8:51), and that those who don’t keep His word will taste death. So one’s destiny is at stake in the issue of obedience to Messiah, for He doesn’t even give His Holy Spirit to those who do not obey Him (Acts 5:32).15 Nor does He save those who do not obey Him (Heb 5:9). In fact the wrath of God abides on them (Jn 3:36). Confessing His name as Lord will not allow a person entrance into the kingdom (Rom 10:9-10) if one does not do the will of His Father in heaven. On that day, He won’t even know who such a one is (Mt 7:21-23).
Romans 5:1-5 makes clear that those who are justified by faith are those who have His Holy Spirit. Therefore, faith is a gift from God which enables a person to obey our Master’s commands to give up his life, to die with Him and be given new life in Him by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The problem with Christianity is there is no environment, as Yoneq says the Edah is,16 where obedience to the many commands of Messiah and in the epistles is even possible. This is what the Dysfunction 3 teaching says about the process of decay which began in the early church:
“The church began to live by this counterfeit faith (Rom 1:17) of living by principles in the Bible but not obeying the new commandment — since there was no longer the environment for this kind of love to exist (Acts 4:32). Jn 5:24 was the doctrine but 1 Jn 3:14 was not, and could no longer be the practice (1 Jn 1:6). Jn 13:35 could not even be attempted to be obeyed, so no one else could be saved (1 Jn 3:23). The world went into utter darkness. It was utter darkness since the light of the gospel was counterfeit...
“Mt 5:14; Isa 49:6; Acts 26:7; and Mt 21:43 were ‘no where to be found.’ 1 Jn 3:22 was taken away from man’s conception. It was out of the question altogether, as was Jn 17:11 and 21-23. This was because the house built on sand could not stand; it could not stand against the world’s flood of deception. Heb 3:6, Lk 1:33 and Eph 2:22 were put off until another day, and for another people, Dan 2:44; Psalm 102:18; Jer 30:20 is the community (in the NIV), the Edah (Hebrew 5712,5713: the witness, the swarm).” (page 5, taught July 12, 1993)
The preaching of the gospel produced a “totalistic” life. This life was a common life in which they were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. Fellowship requires total immersion into the Body.
So, yes it is true we teach the disciples to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God in their lives (1 Pet 5:6), for it is only by so doing that they will receive the grace to do His will and resist the evil one (Jms 4:6-7). We further believe our brothers and sisters can speak His very word (1 Pet 4:11). We believe our shepherds are to watch over our souls, and that to resist them, is unwise and unprofitable (Heb 13:17). We love the Word, and if the New Testament word, spoken with faith on the earth once again, creates a “totalist” environment which others find objectionable; we find that we must obey God, for He has put it into our hearts to do so.
Secondly, if what the authors are saying about the Community is true, in the spirit they are saying it (not of a willing submission to a loving Savior, but of a subtly coerced obedience) then the fruit would be to stunt maturation and self-judgment. This is not what we have experienced and it is contrary to the needs of our King in His coming Kingdom. In every aspect of our life we want to let His Holy Spirit have free reign because Yahshua will not return until He has overcomers whom He can trust to rule over the nations in absolute righteousness (Rev 2:25,26). All of our personal enemies have to be put under our feet (Heb 10:13). So, the Holy Spirit is bringing us to self-judgment (2 Cor 10:5-6) in all things. He is causing us to grow up into the Head, which is the whole purpose of the five-fold ministry of Eph 4:11-16.
Contrary to the spirit the Analysis is written in, as soon as each disciple’s maturity permits we entrust him or her with increased responsibility, and will do so in increasing measure as the tribes are raised up in their fullness on the earth. The process of Isaiah 9:5-6, the never-ending increase of His government, has begun again on the earth.
Thirdly, it is obvious that the authors do not have eyes to see the freedom and range of choices continually before us every day. All day long we can choose to go to His throne of grace (Heb 4:14-16), since we have a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, or we can choose to do our own will in how we react to one another, to our children, to the people we meet. We are always called to bear the fruits of the Spirit.
Fourthly, the Old Covenant, whose vision of the dignity and freedom of man the proponents of thought control decisively reject, takes total acquiescence to God’s word as normative (remembering as well, that the Law was itself the most sweeping piece of social legislation in antiquity):
“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him” (Dt 30:19-20).
62-5 How much should a person be willing to “give up” for the sake of belonging to what someone else has determined is God’s “only” kingdom on earth.
Everyone has to make that decision based upon what he hears. Some people hear that everything means everything.17 If not everything, then how much? Where do you draw the line and of what value is Messiah to you? What does His word mean to you? It depends on what you see His kingdom to be — whether you see it to be a new social order on the earth or whether you see the kingdom of God to be something co-extensive with the culture of man (as Reinhold Niebuhr does). Is the church to be something that we are just hanging on in until Jesus comes back in some kind of mystical way?
We really do believe that Messiah came to establish a new social order.18 He was the first born of a new creation (Col 1:18), so what is that new creation? What is the New Covenant priesthood? What is the holy nation, the peculiar people of 1 Peter 2:9? What does that mean? What context is that in and what kind of light, what kind of demonstration is that supposed to be to the world? It’s really not what we want to give up, but it’s what social order do we want to be in? What social order do we want to give our strength to? Cultivating the Cursed Ground19 makes it really, really clear what we believe about that.
In summary, the reality is that a person will not give up one single thing to become part of the kingdom unless he himself has determined that it is the only way.
63-1 In an attempt to answer these questions with regards to Messianic Communities, we will use as our basis for consideration certain criteria developed by R. J. Lifton and further elaborated by S. Hassan.
First, this statement is misleading and deceptive. It presumes there was a search for the answers, when in reality, before they had any contact with us, they had come to these conclusions in detail (see page 2).20 This is because these conclusions stem from their fundamental presuppositions about Christianity and the world, which has always regarded as heretical any exclusive groups which sought to purify themselves from the defilement of the world. In this context, the terms mind control and brainwashing are simply effective propaganda tools, especially when coupled with the word cult, much as heresy and unorthodox were in times past.
The criteria developed and applied by Lifton and Hassan, including the negative statements made about various groups and individuals in the Analysis, present an extremely large section of society as practicing unethical mind control, especially if their thinking is developed to its logical conclusions. To begin with, Mr. Lifton equates fundamentalism with totalism by definition.21 We hope the authors are honest enough to let their readers know this because it would enlighten them to Mr. Lifton’s world view. Mr. Hassan calls Pentecostalism cultic,22 as well as groups like Amway and Shaklee, where, “Housewives attend ?pysch-up rallies’ so they can recruit friends and neighbors into a pyramid sales organization.”23 Included also are diverse political groups which have offended his church, the now-bankrupt Cult Awareness Network,24 as well as everyone else on their hit lists. This is not to mention such commercial cults as door-to-door sales companies, groups which advertise glamorous travel and benefits but which prove to supply difficult and often menial work (like the US Army, I suppose). The listings in these three sources are really extensive. For instance, Benny Hinn, the featured speaker at the nationally televised Washington for Jesus, 96, is called “highly controlling” in the Analysis, along with Kenneth Copeland. There are many millions within the ranks of American Christianity who qualify — many. Christianity is truly a house divided against itself.
63-4 This [totalistic and destructive behavior control] we have observed not only personally, but also in helping those who leave the Community.
This goes against their own words in the Introduction:
“We have spent many hours with these people and have always thoroughly enjoyed those times. They are, without exception, truly wonderful people who evidence a level of commitment, hospitality, and love that we do not encounter in many other groups we have worked with.”25
It also contradicts their words to us — part of the reason we trusted them enough to continue our relationship with them — of August 9, 1994, in their letter to Mr. Wiseman:
“First, we were impressed with the love and care that was evident between the many parents and children that we watched. We came expecting to possibly observe a systematic rigidness or abuse of children because of what we had in the media from years ago. We observed just the opposite. We saw a casual, loving familiarity that did not evidence a fearful child, nor a child who was anxious to please an excessively strict or abusive parent to win their love. The children obviously loved their parents and vice versa. The discipline was consistent, loving and firm, and the children readily responded to this. My associate has twenty years experience of working with parents and children in both a teaching and counseling capacity. Her assessment was that the children were very well adjusted and developmentally appropriate for their age group.”
There are other places in the Analysis which read the same way. Mr. Pardon and Ms. Barba deny the things they saw with their own eyes and voluntarily committed to paper. Perhaps it would be better to deny the conclusions they came to after talking to ex-members who are carrying a grudge against the Communities and reading the teachings in the light of such prejudicial views.
64-0 “It was clear when our Master prayed ... He was creating an environment for His people to be in — the Edah.” Saving our Soul, 11/8/92, p. 4-5. Thus the overall general environment of the Community is praised for its isolation from the world.
In place of the ellipsis should be the words, “to His Father in John 17,” which points to the kind of environment our Master died to establish, a place of love and unity.
The quote from the teaching Saving our Soul is no different in spirit than 2 Cor 6:14 - 7:1. This is the believer’s “Emancipation Proclamation.” By the authority of God’s word we exclude corrupting influences from our midst, voluntarily and gratefully. If we were not distinct from the moral corruption of the world and its lust (2 Pet 1:4), truly there would be nothing for the anti-cult movement, in either its Christian or secular arms, to talk about. We also would and could not ever be the Kingdom of God.
How, though, are we isolated at our cafés, on our crews, going to home shows to sell our crafts, walking (evangelistically), going on Grateful Dead tours with that bus, taking walks with our children and to pray, going out shopping, hiking, etc.? This comment in the Analysis which, in its spirit of presenting a fearful leader wanting to close his people off from human contact with the world, has no bearing on the Community’s actual life. This can be seen by simple observation at any of our Communities, which the authors themselves have made.
64-2 Dress is very tightly regulated in the Communities. All men must wear their hair in short ponytails with a long, trimmed beard... In any religious meeting the women are required to wear a head covering...
There is a lot of variation within the Community. It would be honest of the authors if they would compare the variety in our manner of dress to the Amish, to such organizations as the Armed Services, Boy Scouts, postal service, UPS, IBM, or even the dress codes of high schools in the ?50s and early ?60s.
We do have a common understanding about what modest dress is and about headcovering (1 Cor 11:3-8). It’s revelation that we’ve chosen to believe. We’ve also chosen that we want to have our own culture. We are a new social order. We are a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9), so we dress and wear our hair in a way that is appropriate to our priesthood. We want to find out what pleases Him (1 Jn 3:22), and we have come to see that our God is actually concerned about our whole being — even to our clothing, hair, and beards.
A priest would never “cut the corners of his head” so as to crop or tuft his hair on the sides, even because of the death of his most cherished loved one (Dt 14:1-2; Lev 10:6; 21:10), following the customs of the nations. At the most he would only let his hair hang loose ? which shows that he always had it tied back during regular times, or somehow bound to the head. We prefer to tie it back neatly, keeping it neither long nor short, but only trimming it. Only trimming means you never let it grow long, nor does it become too short. This is what only trimming means in Ezekiel 44:20. It is never too long or too short, but only like the hair of those who have heard from YHWH of Hosts about the hair of a priest (Lev 19:27).26 We want to be a distinct, set-apart (holy) nation of priests. We choose to live this way, for if we lose our distinction, we become common — just like the rest of the world.
64-2 No deviation would be tolerated from these guidelines.
This is not true. What we do is based on revelation. People are encouraged not to do anything that they do not have revelation of. If people came forward and said, “I don’t have any revelation of this; I’m going to wear this, that, or the other thing,” we would treat them the same way we treated Nitsan, Qatan’s father-in-law. He didn’t have any revelation about why we wear our beards as natural as possible, so he decided he would continue doing what he had done before baptism, until he had understanding. We shared our hearts with him, the revelation we had, answering his questions, being patient. In time he understood and he too had revelation. Then he started wearing a full beard, not before.
64-7 Food restrictions are also tightly regulated. This is not only true in regards to what a member can eat but even his enjoyment of food and fast he eats.
What is seen as regulation is received by us as necessary encouragement to have self-control. The point of the quotes is how any kind of selfish desire alienates you from your fellow human beings. So much so that Paul calls some people’s belly “their God” (Phil 3:19).
There are a lot of people, all these years after this teaching, who still eat fast in the Community. They don’t have much revelation about it. They are not excommunicated. They are not taken away from the table. A lot of these things that are said like this are things that we need to see if we can see. Eventually as we go along, we will see. It is really true that eating is the highest form of fellowship. Eating is centered on fellowship and this is what we teach. We say that a person should not eat for pleasure because it is greed. It’s referring to people who have a spirit about fine dining.
We are not taught that we should not enjoy what we eat or that we should not see eating as enjoyable. This is not what we teach. It is greedy to eat fast. It’s greedy to not consider others. That’s what we believe. If there are people in the Community who don’t believe that, we don’t kick them out. We bear with them.
The authors might have realized this from reading the teachings they quoted. It seems that they took pains to remove any sentences from the quotations that didn’t fit their view of what we teach, as this one which is replaced by the ellipsis in the Sexuality quotation on page 65, paragraph 1:
“Eating is social intercourse, a social event where you extend the conversation as long as possible, eating slowly, enjoying your food.” [emphasis added]
65-3 The regulation of where one lives is also a given in the Communities life...
The statement from the Reasoning teaching has to do with where people live and it means that we should be willing to go where we are sent and come when we are called. Imagine when Nehemiah came back to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and he thought the enemy was planning to attack, and he blew the trumpet and said, “Go over there and build the wall.” Do you think his men at that point were reasoning with him as to why he wanted them to go over there and build?
It doesn’t mean that there is not room for legitimate conversation and discussion and factors about one’s family and their needs, etc. But it’s that if our heart is toward what we are doing and we have revelation of what were are building, then we won’t have any qualms about coming when we’re called and going where we are sent. This is what we have always taught that a disciple does. We have vision for what were doing. We are committed about the life we live and the Kingdom we’re building.
It is still the same as in Dt 20. We teach that if you have something better to do, then go back. This is a foundational teaching from what Joshua told the children of Israel. If you’re going to be in this army, you going to come when you’re called and go where you’re sent because you have revelation about what you’re doing and you are absolutely convicted by your faith about it. That’s the foundation of what the authors mistakenly calls, “controlling where people live.”
65-4 “...no matter how good you may do in the flesh, you cannot go past that rebellion.”
Just one more sentence further after the end of the quote would have revealed the essense of the Reasoning teaching:
“If all His commands must pass through our reasoning, we are still operating under a satanic priniciple, setting ourself up on an equal place to God. Christianity says Lk 14:33 only means that you have to be willing to guve up everything, but that is reasoning, a satanic priniciple.”
The issue of Lk 14:33 gives the clearest example in the Scriptures, the verse more than any other where Christianity is clearly shown to be in thrall to the same voice as deceived Eve:
“Has God said, ‘You shall give up all your own possessions to be His disciple?’“ (See Gen 3:1)
65-5 Their explanation might be, “We are creating an environment ...
This is another example of the overwhelming tendency of the authors to take issue not with what we do or say, but with what they imagine that we do or say. This “quotation” is neither a theological nor a sociological analysis of our Community — it is merely fiction.
We are not trying to make an environment. We are obeying the word of God and the things that we do and the way that we live is supported by the word of God. We do believe that God is restoring all things, that he is restoring the gospel. We know these things have to happen or heaven is going to keep on holding onto Yahshua and this world is going to go on and on, and it doesn’t deserve to (Acts 3:19-21). It is so corrupt. We do believe that we should be living in a way that hastens the return of Yahshua (2 Pet 3:11-12). We do believe that elders are chosen. It better be by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes it isn’t. Such elders are taken out of their positions when they prove not to have grace. Elders are there to guide and direct the people. They do know what is best for the people and when they make mistakes they are called to account.
66-1 Nothing, essentially, can be done without permission. Numerous ex-members have told us of the need to have the “covering” ... to pursue some task outside of the community.
We love and respect authority, whose purpose is to shepherd our souls and cause us to grow up into Messiah, into the Head (Eph 4:11-16). Every individual is expected to grow up and take initiative in the areas where he functions. In doing so he is expected to be led by the Holy Spirit. Here are some examples in teachings:
“Phil 1:9,10 — We have to use our fullest potential. That’s why we have to cry out to our Father to get in there and restore it and use it.”27
“The final objective of child training is not to control a child, but to teach him what is right so that he will control himself. Teaching provides the explanation for rules for which the child then becomes accountable. What the-parent teaches the child ranges from manners to morality. The test will be in how the child behaves in conformity with his instructions. The well-trained child will learn to accept his parents’ standards... As he grows older he develops internal controls — which replace the need for his parents’ external controls.”28
Many other examples could be cited.
66-f6 At one point Edwards very insightfully writes, “Dear Ken, ... you’ve come from a movement that taught people to ?consult your covering.’ Now, how did anyone get that out of Scripture? ... I do not need to tell you that it is always easier to have someone else announce what the will of God is for your life that it is for you to find it on your own.”
Edwards merely shows he has no understanding of authority. One simple verse is Heb 13:17 — that we are commanded to obey our leaders. What does that mean? How much do you obey them? Does it say to obey your leaders every now and then, when you want to, when it’s convenient for you? It’s not just that someone else announces what the will of God is for your life, but there is a confirmation that comes in your heart because you have agreement in the Spirit.
What about Eph 4:1-6, which says that we are to make every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace? How do you do that when you’re going off on your own and you don’t even know whether your brothers have a concern about what you’re doing? How do you obey Eph 4 according to what Gene Edwards says in this quote and according to what the Analysis says. If what we teach and practice about covering is a horrific concept of totalism, then ultimately the Bible itself will have to be thrown out.
The real issue is the whether we want to walk the way our Master walked. That is where our concept of authority comes from — His relationship with our Father. That is how we want to be, not doing anything on our own initiative — the way He was (1 Jn 2:4-6). See also our response to 62-5, page 69.
66-2 One ex-member told us that three sheets of toilet paper were al that was allowed at one bathroom visit...
Hakam explained this at length to Mr. Pardon. We don’t understand why he uses this as an example of behavior control instead of understanding our desire to be frugal. We labored to explain that “three sheets” is not a law, but a standard that helps us to consider how wasteful we may be and the enormous expense of things we take for granted — like toilet paper.
If the authors keep this point in their Analysis, given what we’ve made clear to them, it will be further evidence of their agenda to present us in a light that will make a name for themselves, and lack of integrity in leading us to believe that they want to present our life as it really is.
66-2 Along this line, bowel movements are also regulated.
This is seemingly deliberately insulting language, saying bowel movements are regulated when the notes are talking about respecting our fellow man who may happen to walk in the woods after us.
The actual teaching of October 3, 1989, page 8, says:
“Note Dt 23:12,13 for the sake of verse 14. He sees everything, even how we deal with our bowel movements. He moves about in the camp, let Him not see anything that would turn Him away from you. What intimacy He has with us. This is how we must be with our children.”
However, the full import of what is written is only seen in light of the Word of God:
“You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement.” (Dt 23:12,13)
The reason for this is found in the next verse:
“Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you lest He turn away from you.” (Dt 23:14)
We see His heart in these verses. We are glad He is so intimately concerned with us. We no longer want to be Gentiles in our hearts. We teach that the God of Creation is not separate and opposed to the God of Redemption. The Son loved the Father and His word and did not come so we could ignore the word and the Spirit He loved (Mt 5:17-19). This teaching has nothing to do with the regulation of bowel movements, it has to do with the holiness we are to maintain before our God at all times and in all things. It has to do with the sightly and sanitary disposal of waste in situations where there is no indoor plumbing; hiking or traveling where there are no facilities.
The NEIRR’s Analysis does not evidence even an attempt to understand what the Spirit is saying. Mind control seems to be “proven” by our even being concerned about such matters. Moses would certainly have been viewed as a cult leader by these standards. The Boy Scouts of America would also be considered cultish, considering these directives in the Boy Scout Handbook:
“Find a secluded spot at least 200 feet (75 steps or more) from water, camp, and trails. Use your heel or a camp shovel to dig a shallow hole no more than 6 inches deep ... [use] small amounts of toilet paper. After you have used it, fill the cat hole with soil and replace any ground cover. Push a stick into the ground to warn others against digging in the same spot... always wash your hands when you are done.”29
67-1 Numerous times we have been told that permission has to be sought to receive medical care. In one instance, a member who had suffered for years under a particular imbalance and was taking medication for this condition, was encouraged to lay that medication aside. It was believed that if she exercised enough faith they would be healed. It wasn’t until their life was in jeopardy that they were then given permission to take the medication once again.
This reference to Joellen Griffin and her thyroid medicine is not true. Neither she nor Roger can honestly say that they were told they had to get permission to use the medicine that she was taking. This is just not true. Everyone has to judge his own conscience and stand on his own faith (Rom 14:22). We do teach Jms 5:14-15, however, concerning calling for the elders, and we do take note of the thing held against King Asa by our God (2 Chr 16:12). To do any less is to take away from faith and to ignore and subvert the full purpose and council of God (Acts 20:27).
67-2 It is also the case that the average member has to get permission to call outside the Community.
We do, from time to time, limit outside personal phone calls because of the enormous expense. We try to inform the members of our households of our financial situation so that each person can learn to be sensitive. We live together, therefore we must learn to communicate with one another. If we are in a hard place financially, we may ask people to check before they make toll calls, but this is not done to hinder contact with the “outside world.”
Also, there are other considerations in “being covered” about making phone calls. Each household sets up its policy and everyone chooses to abide by that policy. The standards are different from one community to the next. Sometimes it depends upon the financial situation.
67-2 Permission to see someone on the outside, even a parent, is also necessary.
For us, checking with the shepherds has to do with wanting to know what our Father’s will is, and consulting with your spiritual leaders because you trust them. The Proverbs are full of the concept of taking counsel; there is wisdom in many counselors (Pr 15:22). So we take counsel. We don’t seek permission, we take counsel. This is how things get distorted. Permission is not what we teach. It’s always concerning taking counsel; being covered means you took counsel with your brothers or your sisters and there is the peace of the Holy Spirit about what we are doing. This is the spirit of everything we teach about authority. We’ll be submissive to each other according to Eph 5:21, out of reverence to Messiah in each other.
The only time we discourage communication with particular members of families is when it is obvious that family members do not respect their adult child’s (or sibling’s) choice to be in the Community. We do not expect them to agree with it, or move in, but we do expect respect. The history we have had with the vicious crime of kidnapping has caused us to have a caution here we wouldn’t otherwise have.30 That is why our standard is one of respect for the free choice of the child or sibling living in the Community. This was carefully explained by Hakam to Mr. Pardon before the Analysis was written in regards to Michele Caprio, a young disciple from the Community in Hyannis whose parents had sought out the assistance of the NEIRR.
To sum up, our personal experience and what we have observed in the Community is entirely consistent with what the officers of the NEIRR witnessed with their own eyes:
“We also observed that family members outside the Community were encouraged to visit or call at any time. A parent even called while we were there, and we overheard other members speak of visiting relatives in other parts of the country.”31
Evidently our explanation with regards to Michele, and the authors own eyewitness observations, have been ignored in favor of the NEIRR’s doctrine of mind control and the poisonous lies of ex-members. This is condemned by their own authority: “This sterile language reflects another characteristic feature of ideological totalism: the subordination of human experience to the claims of doctrine.”32
67-3 The vast decision making power of the leadership is also consistent with extreme behavior control. This control is absolute and equated with God’s authority.
We do give weight to the greater grace of the elders who have greater wisdom. If they are just up there in a position and they’re not exercising wisdom and not exercising leadership qualities, then the fruit will be obvious and they are going to be asked to step down. This is something that the Analysis does not bring out.
Sometimes when the elders counsel with someone to be cautious what they do with their parents or advise them if they think it would be better not to go see them or things of that nature, the “child” in the Community ends up putting it on the elders. Instead of standing on their own faith, they say, “The elders don’t want me to, or the elders don’t think I should.” A lot of times it’s because they are intimidated by their parents from their past relationships with them, but sometimes they do not agree with their leaders. They do things out of principle. But whose fault is that? We teach the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5).33 They put it on the elders because they don’t have the honest relationship they need with their parents in order to be real. This is the sociological nature of our life and these are the things we have to address all the time.
We find people from one end of the spectrum to the other on how they relate to their parents, but really the intent of the elders is to give them wise counsel, not to control them. We don’t want to “talk” anybody into being “saved,” because we would have to talk them into everything else they would ever do. We want people to see who Yahshua is right from the start, as much as they can, and do the things they do out of the conviction they have. Every individual has to decide in his own heart what he wants to do.
Should we throw out the whole idea of authority because some people are afraid of authority, or they don’t realize that they have room to speak? Or should we throw out the concept of elders because some of the elders did need to increase? Should we throw the whole concept out or should we work through these things?
As the Body of Messiah we won’t divide over these things because we sense in our heart what the truth is and what faith is teaching us. We can sense what the word of God and the spirit of God is teaching us. How should we be on this? Should we go ahead and divide like the Christians do or should we stay together and work through things until we come to the absolute truth, to the reality of what our God wants in our lives?
It is true that if you have a problem with authority then you have problem with God. It is not true that if you have a problem with someone in authority who is not displaying the spiritual attributes of a leader, that you necessarily have a problem with God. But it is really true that the problems in the leaders bring out the rebellion in the people. They forget, they lose their communion with the Spirit that teaches them to abide (1 Jn 2:27) and work through these things because of the vision we have of what the Body of Messiah should be and of the grace that is available to us. We can’t throw out authority. God does nothing apart from His authority. What is quoted there from the Elders and Deacons teaching is absolutely true if we have our Father’s choice of elders. This has to be clear. Such an elder does not have to defend his authority. Those elders who do defend their authority in the Community probably aren’t elders. We also teach that.
The Analysis only presents one side of the issue of authority. We should stand on the side of authority always. If we divorce ourselves from authority in order to save our own life (Mt 16:25), we violate our Father’s heart. This is true, absolutely true. God hates divorce (Mal 2:16) and the breaking of a covenant. We have to help each other to come into the mind of Messiah and to grow up into the head. It takes a total effort on the part of the Body in order for there not to become this division between the clergy and laity that God hates — the deeds of the Nicolaitans (Rev 2:6,15).
68-2 Individualism that in any way is contrary to the group identity and its authority, whether intentional or not, is also discouraged. This takes on many subtle forms.
If we had been asked us about these things we could have said that the reason the brothers in Brazil did not have a good conscience about this man in Brazil (Zaccai) is the violence he had shown in the past. The connotation that we were watching everyone is not true. For the sake of our women and children we cannot tolerate people with violent tendencies. If they can’t resolutely come to an end of their sin, they have to leave. It can’t be any other way.
68-6 This emphasis on conforming to the “Body” also prevents the average member from challenging the leadership at any level. Thus the leadership is effectively insulated from any criticism. The non-conforming member of the “Body” is cut off.
It is our belief and our practice that these people are to find an outlet somewhere. We say that if you’re not received in your local community then you always have a place where you can be heard; that has been taught from the very beginning. The Analysis itself portrays a different picture:
“Regional meetings are held every couple of weeks or once a month, depending upon the need, where the Apostolic Workers deal with pertinent issues. Anyone who has something important to contribute can go if they are sent by the household. They can approach their household and make the request to attend the meeting.”34
People also write letters and make phone calls constantly to their friends and these apostolic workers about problems they are having a hard time finding peace about in their own community. Hakam gets letters all the time. Many leaders get letters. Yoneq gets letters from individual people in the Body about the apostolic workers. It’s just not true that the leadership is effectively insulated from any criticism. That has happened sometimes with individual leaders, but that is certainly not what we teach or practice. Defensiveness in certain leaders has caused them and their families suffering. We really work against that. It’s not that a non-conforming member of the Body is cut off. All things are considered.
We find out what the story is if there are extenuating circumstances as to why people act the way they do. Many, many times we find that there are extenuating circumstances and people are not cut off. The only reason people are cut off is because they really are in rebellion against the word of God35 — not just because they don’t conform or they don’t understand.
Life and government in such a complex thing as an interconnected, international community of faith cannot be fathomed by looking at the bare words on a teaching typed out on a page. It requires a depth of sensitivity and compassion to even begin to comprehend how things work, unless one is content to classify human beings and their relationships in terms of mere doctrinal insights.
68-6 [in the realm of an isolated leadership] “Let’s don’t ever be around someone who speaks about a brother, especially a prophet. God Himself says, ?Do no harm to my prophets.’ 1 Chr 16:22 If we speak against a brother God will hand us right over to temptation and you sin a sin unto death.” The Ten Commandments/Sowing Discord/Priesthood, 4/8/94, page 3
This is a twice-repeated injunction in the Scriptures, here and in Ps 105:15. The prophets in the Old Covenant spoke the very word of God to lead, correct, and encourage, even deliver God’s people. In the New Covenant their words are primarily seen in light of 1 Cor 14:1-5, of encouraging, consoling, and exhorting.36 Prophecy is the spiritual gift believers are to especially earnestly desire. Prophets are the first rank37 of co-workers under apostles in Eph 4:11-16 — essential in the raising up the Body of Messiah. The spirits of prophets are subjected to other prophets who observe their lives and listen to their words. If a prophet speaks and it is judged to be wrong, that prophet must repent publicly. We have seen this many times. But it is true that those outside the Body have no authority to judge anyone in the Body.
The absence of prophets and apostles in the Christian Church means Eph 4:15-16 can never come about in Christianity. Accordingly we value such brothers and their reputation, as the Word teaches us to value the reputation of all.
69-0 There is no room for anyone to complain against anyone or anything in the Body ... We do not tolerate a faction ... They go to the second death, the lake of fire. Titus 3:10-11. Breaking of Bread, 2/24/96, page 1
It is true that we don’t tolerate people who accuse the Body. There is a difference between accusing and people who are complaining all the time. You can look in 1 Cor 10. The children of Israel complained all the time. What did God do to them? Who is that written for? It was written for us, whom the end of the ages have fallen. We have to take that into consideration in our social life. There isn’t room for that. There is room for instruction, for correction, there is room for criticism, but not complaint. There is room for constructive criticism, but not to take it to the point of being factious and dividing and accusing. Titus 3:10-11 is the word of God and it is clear about factious people and accusers of the brethren. Such conduct reflects the nature of the evil one (Rev 12:10).
69-2 “Just like our physical bodies have many parts, all the parts of the Body are working in coordination to build up the Kingdom. If you’re not here to build up the Kingdom then go — leave! Don’t hold everyone else back. We’ll even give you bus fare to leave.” (Seeking First His Kingdom/Washings/The Narrow Road, 4/1/94, page 2)
It is logically impossible for us to be both encouraging the insincere to leave, as we have done since the beginning of our communities,38 and at the same time trying so hard to keep people here that we eavesdrop on their conversations,39 etc. (Dt 20:1-8). These contradictory accusations represent a breakdown in simple logic which is indicative of an ideologically-dominated attack on the Messianic Communities. We would like the NEIRR to explain their inconsistencies.
69-2 In order to enforce this kind of conformity there is great encouragement to inform on others who have negative thoughts or who voice such things. This is even encouraged at a young age.
Eph 5:11 states, “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” We don’t want corruption to flourish. In many of the Sociological criticisms leveled at the Communities, the authors of the Analysis betray either an ignorance of the Scriptures, or an antipathy to them.
The implicit criticism of informing on others fails to take into account the reality of the human condition today. We have to learn how to take a stand and how to teach our children to follow our example. If our children do not develop this inner sense of right and wrong, of proper and improper behavior on the part of others, they will be prey to the many perverts who dwell in society today, some of whom may don sheep’s garments to deceitfully gain access to the untainted children of the Community:
“If the child does not come to you when someone wants them to do something ungodly then you have lost your child. That is what Adam and Eve did and they had to leave the garden. They disobeyed their father and obeyed Satan. Let them understand by Adam and Eve’s example why they had to go out into the world. They should fear going out into the world where Satan would rule over them (1 Jn 5:19, Eph 2:1-3) and cause their death. Anyone trying to make you do something bad is not your friend. They hate you really. They might act like they like you but they hate you and want you to die. The child will come immediately to the parents on the first instance. (Child molesters will come in over the wall.) Anyone who touches one of your children to cause them to stumble it would be better if they had a millstone around their neck; there is no forgiveness (Gen 2:15-17). The stumbling part of doing something sexually to a child is that it will never leave them. Twenty years later they will remember since it is in their conscience. We cannot have a hint of sexual immorality among us. Eph 5:2-3 is how we and our children will be. We must be prepared.”40
69-6 “Like when a child is foolish, the other children are to shun him. If they don’t avoid the foolish child, they are just as foolish as he is. That is why the one can defile the many. They are to shun him.” (Members of Messiah, 4/15/90, page 22)
We do teach our children about the unchanging law of God. Lev 5:1 says:
“Now if a person sins, after he hears a public adjuration to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt” [emphasis added]
We teach them proverbs like:
“He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life; he hears the oath but tells nothing.” (Pr 29:24)
“Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; for their minds devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.” (Pr 24:1-2) [emphasis added]
These things are the word of God. These are just two of many such proverbs: Pr 23:20-21; 1:10-19; 2:11ff; 3:31; 4:14-17; 5:8-14; 6:23-26; 7:5, 24-25.
A fuller quote of the Members of Messiah teaching reveals why we want our children to shun those who do evil:
“Like when a child is foolish, the other children are to shun him. If they don’t avoid the foolish child, they are just as foolish as he is. That is why the one can defile the many. They are to shun him. If you don’t tell an adult, you participate in his sin. You don’t talk to a fool.41 That is the only act of love you can do for him. That is what the Proverbs say.”
We are just trying to teach them about true love. We want to positively affect their social behavior among one another. This teaching on Proverbs from October 3, 1989 puts it this way:
“We’ll have to train our children to avoid certain aspects in their friends. It’s good we can tell them, we do have authority, but it’s better to use proverbs. They are like a picture that is framed in such a way that make a definite impression. They are remembered. We should show them the wisdom in Proverbs. Sometimes it takes a lot of inquiry on our part to understand them ourselves to be able to teach them this wisdom.”
The authors of the Analysis relate things like this, “avoiding certain aspects in their friends,” to tightly controlled conformity to community life. They miss both our heart and the true import of the Scriptures concerning these things to say what they do about the Proverbs. It also misses the fact that these things are taught to the children primarily by their parents — not the Community. It is true that, by the wisdom of the Proverbs especially, we do want to direct and control and guide the social behavior of our children so they can develop properly. This is our commission as parents. We deal with foolishness as the Word teaches us. We certainly didn’t develop properly when we were growing up. There is a purpose for every word recorded in the Scriptures, and the purpose of these proverbs is so that foolishness will not spread through the community. Our Master put it as the capstone to His list in Mk 7:21-23.
69-4 “Don’t talk to those who don’t rest as much as he can on the Sabbath. We need to keep the Sabbath by resting as much as we possibly can. Don’t talk to people who don’t rest on the Sabbath.” (Breaking of Bread, 1/14/89, page 4)
What is meant about not talking to people who don’t rest as much as you do is that we should not go and correct them. It means we should not go around pointing the finger. It comes from Isaiah 58:13, that we have to remove the pointing of the finger. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ever talk to them, but it means if they are up and working, violating the Sabbath, just don’t enter in with them. Don’t enter in with them about their talk about work or whatever it is that’s not restful. We teach, don’t point the finger...
69-7 For those who leave because they do not conform to this tightly controlled community life, or the absolute authority of the elders, there must be some explanation to the “Body” that suppresses the real issues. Usually the explanation is simplistic and the offending party is held up derisively as an object to the “Body.”
Whenever a person leaves, he breaks the covenant he made with our Master and with His people. The anointing teaches us to abide (1 Jn 2:27-28) and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to maintain the unity of the Spirit (Eph 4:1-4). He also commands us to endure unjust suffering in the Body (1 Pet 2:18) and that if we do so, we will have the blessing of God. Love is perfected in unity, so we cannot obey our Master’s command to love as He loved (Jn 13:34) if we leave one another. So one who leaves does so in most cases because of sin in his own life that he’s not dealing with. We know this, so the “explanation” given when someone leaves addresses the real issue, causes us to examine ourselves and allows us to learn from how a particular person may have fallen. We hate the deeds of those who fall away (Ps 101:3). But that the person is held up derisively is a lie.
Sometimes a word of explanation was necessary in Paul’s day to explain how some brothers had to be treated, as well why others left or had to be sent away. This would serve the purposes of instructing and putting a right fear in the flock of God he shepherded (Dt 13:11; 19:20, etc.). Paul wanted the whole church to know how to think about these difficult things. Here are some examples:
“...keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regards to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.” (1 Tim 1:19-20)
“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.” (2 Tim 4:14-15)
The apostle John also exercised this authority in the churches:
“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does...” (3 Jn 1:9-10)
Are these simplistic explanations that skirted the “real” issue? Whatever they were, they probably satisfied those who loved Paul and appreciated his great labors on their behalf as an apostle (1 Ths 5:12,13). The following verses illustrate the authority Paul wielded in the matter of sending members away:
“And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame.” (2 Ths 3:14)
“For I, on my part, though absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 5:3-5)
70-1“If a person went out from us — made preparations to leave, left, and never came back, 1 John 2:19 says that person never was a part of us; he never received the Holy Spirit... (Members of Messiah, 4/15/90, page 10)
It should be noted that the whole context of the Members of Messiah teaching was people leaving and how their desire to repent and return should be judged. What is quoted here is the real issue — that those who went out and never came back never were a part of us.
70-3 [Concerning the lives of Zechariah Martin, James Howell, Michael Painter, and Bill Tiller, as reported in several teachings.]
The quote about Zechariah is absolutely true. That’s the way he was in the Body. It was a good example to teach from, but is heaven cut off from Zechariah? Can he come back to the Community? Hakam’s son visited him recently and was encouraged about the things he is seeing about the world. He has hope Zechariah will be able to repent.
All these things that are said about James Howell and people like him who claim to see, that their guilt remains forever, are true. Jn 9:39-41 will apply to them; that is, if they don’t repent, they will perish. If they think that they can just go along in the things that they do in their life apart from the LIFE of Messiah, then they will perish. God has to decide about that in terms of what their ultimate destiny is. 2 Ths 1:8 — There’s going to be retribution to those who don’t obey the gospel. Are these people obeying the gospel right now? Or is retribution going to come upon them? What is retribution? We have to understand this. We can’t just let go of these things as if God is going to turn his face the other way. It is really clear that people commit sins unto death (1 Jn 5:16). If you claim to see your guilt remains (Jn 9:39-41).
70-7 The presumption of such statements is almost beyond belief. Such tight behavior control and manipulation ultimately evidences a tremendous lack of grace and love. The real message of such destructive manipulation is “conform or die.”
This harsh statement on the part of the authors is evidence of their lack of understanding of the tremendous grace and love that was shown to these people for a very long period of time until they decided to leave. THEY decided to leave. They can decide to come back, and if they can repent, they can be forgiven and restored. The Body of Messiah is not like Christianity where a person can leave, go down the street and join somewhere else without any accountability for his actions. It’s really true — if we don’t repent, we will perish. It’s the word of God. We will either conform to Messiah or we’re going to perish. It has nothing to do with destructive manipulation. It is the word of God. Should we throw that out of the word of God? How about Paul, who made some strikingly strong statements, not just about people who left, but even in sending people away from the Community. Do his words evidence a tremendous lack of grace and love?
“But actually I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one... Remove the wicked man from your midst.” (1 Cor 5:10, 13b)
Again, the actual observation of our life should be trusted; it is in conformity with the high standard — as much as we can be now — which is recorded in the Scriptures, and which the authors saw with their own eyes as we freely let them talk with us:
“Third we did not detect any excessive emotional control. This is not something that can be easily hid. We did not sense any manipulation of fear in order to control. The group did not appear to have any sense of paranoia (‘people are out to get us’), or the outside world is persecuting us. We also did not detect any sense of terror or exaggerated fear of the leadership if one failed in their responsibilities or behavior. The Messianic Communities do have very high standards of behavior for all to live within, from the top leadership to the new member.”42
71-1 Steve Hassan defines information control in this way. “Information is the fuel we use to keep our minds working properly. Deny a person the information he requires to make sound judgments, and he will be incapable of doing so. People are trapped ... because they are not only denied access to critical information but also lack the properly functioning internal mechanisms to process it. Such information control has a dramatic and devastating effect.
The Leveling pamphlet gives a good idea of the effect of being glutted with information — nothing:
“Talk to any average individual in our society and you will find him to be a man of much diverse knowledge. By reading his daily newspapers, weekly periodicals, and National Geographic, along with watching the morning talk shows, the nightly news broadcasts, various “Specials,” plus hourly radio news reports, he has amassed a wealth of facts and figures (not to mention, a strong opinion about most every controversial question of the day). On most any contemporary subject he will be “full of sound and fury,” but as Shakespeare so aptly put it, it all “signifies nothing.” Though he is a product of years of media consumption, he will eventually die, stuffed full of it, deceived into thinking that he himself has lived a full life. Every bit of his own passion and potential were cleverly drained from him through devices ranging from comic books in childhood to complex documentaries in old age, leaving him worthless as far as accomplishing anything real and concrete. He is active in abstraction but passive in reality.”43
As a community, our favorite sources of information are the spiritual people who comprise the Community and who have the Holy Spirit, because each of us can judge and is accountable for what we pass on, however we have received it. This is how we received faith — by hearing (Rom 10:14-17). The spiritual are those who have enough spiritual power to abide, to remain in Him and to preserve the work of the Spirit in the bond of peace. All others are disqualified and are themselves judged already. They have lost their privilege or right to judge those in the Body.
71-3 The extent of information control first became evident to us when we visited the Community in Island Pond. During the course of our weekend with them we noticed there were no books, no magazines, no television and no radio.
Concerning the Community in Island Pond, when the authors visited there they never said anything about information control or how it became evident to them during the course of their visit. Nor did they say anything about it in their letter of August 9, 1994, the whole tone of which was positive. In it they freely said they witnessed no or very little emotion, thought, or behavior control in Island Pond. It concludes with the words, “However, we believe our initial assessments are accurate and portray a general sense of what life is like within the Messianic Communities.”
People in the Community choose not to receive information from worldly books, magazines, television, or radio. It is a conscious choice. The Community is a group of individuals who have a free will to choose how they want to live. To us this is freedom — not information control.44
We do teach in our communities about the ninth commandment:
“Pr 17:4 — They all alike pay attention to wicked lips, in order to get a good story. The one who reads a newspaper is a liar for they also pay attention and give heed to its information reported as fact.’ Anyone who has a desire to read a newspaper has a desire to break God’s commandment. An evil spirit in them compels the one to pay attention to its perverted report. Not even the truth should be circulated to the detriment of a person, how much less a lie. What standard of judgment do you have to distinguish between the truth and a lie? A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue, gives heed to a false witness.
“To receive or reject a report reflecting upon the honor and character of any man without the most careful investigation is to be a lawbreaker whose reward is death. “For the wages of sin is death.” Sin is any violation of God’s law. A talebearer excuses himself by saying there was no intention to deceive and that the rumor was believed to be correct.”45
We do not desire to control what people read and do. Not only is it impossible, it is oppressive. It does not bring anyone to the place of self-judgment that every member of the Body of Messiah will need to come to in order to fulfill 2 Cor 10:5-6 and Heb 10:13. Apart from bringing about Mt 24:14 we have no purpose in living. We have taught this from the beginning. We are like the early church, living in hope of the parousia, the bodily return of Messiah for His bride.
71-f11 It is difficult to convey in words the invective, the judgmental spirit, the harshness that permeates the very fabric of the hundreds of teachings of Spriggs...
It would seem, then, that the best thing for the authors to do would be to present what we teach, in context, without editorial comment such as this, and let the reader see for himself what sort of spirit permeates the teachings. This is what we have understood from the beginning was the intention in publishing the Analysis.
72-0 What was astonishing was the obvious intellectual malaise that seemed to have settled in on these interviewees. The individual often had a hard time focusing their thoughts, vocabulary had become limited, thoughts and concepts very simplistic. Consequently, it was very surprising to hear them state they have been to college. This malaise became particularly evident when called upon to think outside Community lines. The mind is like a muscle, and without exercise it soon begins to atrophy.
The first thing that must be said is that the knowledge of who Bob Pardon and Judy Barba were had a considerable affect on everyone who spoke to them. Of necessity we had to tell them what kind of work the NEIRR engaged in, that they judged the faith of others. Further, we had to tell them that they had reported the Community in Hyannis for child abuse. Since we all knew the inner suffering the parents there faced for many long months at the prospect of losing their children, it was somewhat incongruous to hear good reports of the people who had turned them in on this false charge — because we had also told them about the August 9, 1994 letter.
Since these contrasting reports produced in us a peculiar tension and unease, surely it did so in others. It was like we wanted to be friendly, but there was a reserve in us we couldn’t erase or deny. This is something the authors have never really faced up to with the Hyannis community, supposing a repentance to Hakam on a picnic in Island Pond was sufficient apart from facing the individuals they put through such unjust suffering.
So, in light of Rom 12:2, we would ask, what is the truth and what should we be conforming to? What kind of information should we be filling our minds with? What does it mean to be transformed by the renewing of your mind? How is our mind going to be renewed if the only information we take in is the same information we took in our whole life?46
72-2 Another reason for the control of information is the concern of the leadership regarding standard histories of the world, fictional and non-fictional works, etc. Since the true church has not existed for 1900 years there has also been no anointed people of God. This has colored all the writings, analyses, music, poetry, artistic expressions, etc...
We do not say and we certainly do not act as if there is nothing worth while to learn from the people who do and have followed their conscience. We are reluctant to learn from those who have violated it. We play music from people not under the anointing, including the folk music the authors have themselves listened to in our café in Boston. We learn all kinds of things about farming, gardening, midwifery, etc. from people not under the anointing. The statements in the Analysis in this area are really made from silence, that is, presuming to know what goes on in our communities. However, there is an even greater void when it comes to understanding the heart of our teachings.
We have learned things about government from people not under the anointing, because they are men of conscience. We have the Holy Spirit and we can tell the difference. We have to be able to do what Jer 15:19 says — extract the precious from the vile. We came out of a vile society and we have to be able to distinguish between the precious and the vile. We can make use of the world. We do make use of it, but we don’t make full use of it. This applies to every aspect of our life (1 Cor 7:31).
73-4 One ex-member told me that part of his “awakening” occurred during his time in the Community when he began to read Animal Farm, by George Orwell, a book he said he smuggled into his room. He said this book hit him “like a ton of bricks” because it revealed exactly what had occurred to the Communities. They very thing they hated in Christianity they had become.
For the sake of the gospel, in order to write articles about the search for true community, many of us read the book Utopia. But, it is obvious this person had a bad conscience about what he did because he smuggled the book into his room.
One of the primary problems with statements made from silence are that they are readily disprovable either by simple observation,47 or by testimony to the contrary. Racham read Animal Farm to his history class two years ago. They were a group of children aged 12-16, most of whom had already gone through a panoramic and often in-depth tour of American History which took four years to do. He chose to read them Animal Farm because of its telling illustrations of life in a totalitarian regime, and its rich use of metaphor. The children remember the lessons of totalitarianism quite well because of it, and it became the way most of them have categorized the things they were taught about the rise and nature of the totalitarian states of the twentieth century.
It is interesting that no one thought the Community in any way resembled totalitarian regimes. In fact, we condemn communism morally for forced sharing, a perversion of the Gospel where one voluntarily gives what he has out of the love of God in his heart. This love compels him to met his brothers need. And unlike communism, we teach that one is free, just like the Son of God was, to take up our lives again, and live for ourselves (Mt 6:31-33).
73, f18 This kind of information control has always been a dimension of closed, elitist communal systems.
That may be, but it is curious the authors of the Analysis leave out the single most powerful, long lasting, and consistent attempt at the “voluntary” internal censorship of a religious group — the proscribed list of books, and now movies, of the Roman Catholic Church. We wonder why such an obvious example would be left out. It is because the authors are afraid of offending the Catholics by comparing them to such people? Is it because the Catholic Church is their spiritual mother and they don’t want to offend her?
74-1 In reading history, Church history is one of the worst things that a member of the Community can be exposed to. “It is a proverb among us that whoever studies Church History will go off.” Literature Meeting, 3/5/92, page 8.
For those who put their trust in church history, it is quite likely they will go off in their understanding. This comment was made in regards to the New Covenant Apostolic Order — they studied church history and they arrived at the Eastern Orthodox Church in the third century as the standard of biblical orthodoxy. They went off. It is true that we can’t rely on studies of church history. We have to gain understanding of the Word of God so that we can obey it with revelation. This is what will keep us from going off.
74-3 This [going off because of studying church history] is because Messianic Communities is dependent upon a carefully reconstructed scenario of the early church. The issue of the Sabbath, living in community, giving up all material possessions to the Communities, and how these doctrines were “lost” in the life of the early Church are not supported by the early Church fathers and historians.
How shall we look at the Church fathers, then? Like Martin Luther perhaps?
“When God’s Word is by the Fathers expounded, construed, and glossed, then, in my judgment, it is even as when one strains milk through a coal-sack, which must needs spoil and make the milk black; God’s Word of itself is pure, clean, bright and clear; but, through the doctrines, books, and writings of the Fathers, it is darkened, falsified, and spoiled.”48
In fact, we find things of value in their writings, like the Didache, but we would stand in evangelically good company to disregard them.
Considering the whole sweep of church history there is no truth whatsoever to the statement that studying church history will cause us to go off by revealing things contrary to the anointing we have received — far from it. One would go off in his moral nature by trying to imagine, and then to internalize as true, that this great, often bloody, often hypocritical, and usually divided entity known as Christianity is what Messiah died for. This would ruin a man’s moral sensibilities and blind him to the truth about murder, justice, and respect for the rights and beliefs of others every man instinctively knows in his conscience, unless he suppresses it. One disciple, David Roth, on hearing about this report in some detail, asked, “Why would anyone want to defend Christianity?” At his father’s house in New Jersey are pictures of relatives, European Jews, whom he has never met. They did not survive the Holocaust.
74-3 ...the historical events have been altered to fit the theological bent of the particular Communities’ doctrine (the issue of the Sabbath being thrown out as a legitimate practice as the “Council of Laodicea” in 334 AD.)”
See response to 58-4 on page 62.