When there is secrecy involved

In this world there are lots of denominations in Christendom. Lots of Christians say that the non-trinitarian christians belong to cults or sects, but clearly than they forget what the characteristics of a sect or cult are.

The many non-Trinitarians who found one or another denomination in which they go to meetings are all free people with no obligations to that meeting, congregation or church except to live according to the commandments of God. In nearly all other Christian denominations of trinitarians we can find churches which dare to say they are the only church by which people can be saved or “go to heaven”. Nearly all of them are weekly asking money to their parishioners or even ask a tithing. Whilst in most of the non-trinitarian churches the parishioners are free to give or not to give any amount of money and are not pushed to do so. Never are they threatened by a so called burning in hell for ever, because such false teaching even does not exist by them.

Anna in Shadowland is a web-blog from a certain Andrea which represents the view of a disillusioned girl who left her own church to have an experience in a Charismatic church influenced by the New Apostolic Reformation. She writes

Every so often I receive testimonies from people who have read my “Leaving the NAR Church” series. There are more than 50 of them, and I am adding another. These stories are precious to me, and serve as a painful reminder that there is hope for the dear deceived ones caught up in this insidious movement. If you don’t know what NAR is, I hope you’ll take a moment and read What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement. {Leaving IHOP and the NAR: Sammy’s story}

She has a testimony about how the good and faithful God she loves and wanted to serve opened her eyes and removed her from the clutches of the deception, lack of discernment, and false teachings of a movement that has invaded the worldwide church on a massive scale. {An open letter to the church I left}

In Christendom and Christianity we may see many churches who claim to be adhering to ‘authentic New Testament practices’ but when we look closer at them we find all sorts of practices which are not according to the lifestyle of the first Christians (which we can come to know from the Acts of the Apostles and from civil writings of the first century CE).

Today there are several churches who love to attract people with their “Speaking in tongues” and all sorts of trance movements, even not minding to have people in hysterics, shaking on the floor to the very contemporary music of Hillsong and Bethel (not to be confused with the Bethels of the non-trinitarians), surrounded by all their technological advances, big screens, and coffee bars, and all the other comforts of modern convenience that they manage to accumulate around them.

Although it sure is a whole lot of fun and I have to admit, you had me fooled there for a while.  {An open letter to the church I left}

does the blogger says after her eyes were opened. Continuing

I was really starting to climb up that ladder to sit there with you because I’m sure the view is amazing. But thankfully I could never quite manage to get there, and these days I actually find it rather insulting that anyone can claim to be living ‘authentic Christianity’ just because they belong to a certain kind of church.  {An open letter to the church I left}

The blogger Andrea thinks

seeking after a truly authentic apostolic life and experience would be completely unattainable, because I currently live in 2017. {An open letter to the church I left}

but than she forgets we do have enough civic papers, next to the biblical account, to give us a fair image how life was by the first century followers of the Nazarene Jewish master teacher Jeshua (Jesus Christ).

Naturally she should also know that life 2000 years later is so different that we should take that into account too.

Today we see a growing amount of people loving the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ (NAR), a movement which seeks to establish a fifth house within Christendom, distinct from Catholicism, Protestantism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Some of that church, at the moment, say they are ‘Charismatic’ others say they are a ‘New Testament’ or ‘Apostolic Household’ church and do not belong to the Charismatic movement.

For sure all the modern Holly-Bolly-Woody-Booly modern entertainment forms a very attractive asset to lure people in the community. At several places in the United States certain movements took place which were noticed by C. Peter Wagner to fall under the same denominator. Unlike several sects or cults groups it is not some secret society or shadowy organization. They started to find like-minded people who had no intention to overthrow world governments or undermining the Church. For many of them the “New Apostolic Reformation” started off as a name giving for a movement that was going through the established church. Nothing more but a term used to classify a subset of people throughout denominational and non-denominational Christendom who seem to share some common characteristics.

In Christendom we may find lots of churches which not only worship a Trinity, but also believe that the Holy Spirit is with them and moving around in their church even in such a way that this spirit would choose special pastors, giving them a special role in the Church of God and/or in the Kingdom of God. They may come up with many different stories even telling that people got ‘gold dust’ on their hands.

One of them was the wife of one of your pastors/elders, and she very excitedly and animatedly told us how the ‘spirit had been moving’ in a certain meeting, because the people had seen ‘gold dust’ on their hands. {An open letter to the church I left}

Andrea remarks

it is easy to dismiss the ‘manifestations of the spirit’ thing when someone is interpreting a verse of scripture about ‘being filled with the spirit’ or ‘being drunk in the spirit’, while you are sitting under the cloud of false teaching. But when you realize that these kinds of ‘manifestations’ are actually completely absent in scripture, and had been completely absent in the church until only a couple of years ago, that is when you sit up and take notice. And then when you realize that during all that time it had actually been present in the occult and Eastern mystic religions, that is when you start opening up a whole can of worms. That is when you get up and walk out of a meeting before the end, leaving behind some dear friends who are violently convulsing on the floor, and shaking in fits of ‘holy laughter’. That is when you walk out of a large WOF centre from a Jesus Culture ‘revival’ concert, feeling like you had just walked out of the depths of hell, and all the while absolutely hating yourself for having such feelings and for questioning ‘the work that God is doing through the moving of His spirit’.
And you’re asking yourself ‘Is this really the God that I know?’, but still you are convinced that the problem lies with you because you are ‘not open to the spirit’, because that is what you’re being told over, and over, and over again. And then you get pushed, and pushed, and pushed to get baptized so that you can also ‘receive the spirit’, and you’re left scratching your head because you had thought that because you were already a believer, you had already received the Holy Spirit, but the word ‘obedience’ gets thrown at you over, and over, and over again. And this is when you start to see the indoctrination above the doctrine. {An open letter to the church I left}

People should come to see that at such point they do come in the danger zone. There it is, where we would differentiate between a through church and a cult or sect. Whilst non-trinitarians do keep to the biblical teachings and are not pushing people to come into their church, afterwards demanding all sorts of obligations, and not letting people easily go, this is typical for the cult groups we notice in the trinitarian churches. Also when people then want to leave such a church or group we notice the leaders of such community want to give a ‘guilt feeling’ to the person who wants to leave.

Andrea gives a nice example how such cults or groups work

Instead you preyed on my hurt and my weakness, and used it to set your trap, so that you could be the ones who avoided the issue. This leads me to believe that, despite the deceptive façade, you actually have no idea who you are or what you believe, and you are carried about by every wind of doctrine. If this was not so, you would have had no problem answering all the questions I had first, despite any other issues that might have been present. {An open letter to the church I left}

Backsliding term used within Christianity to describe a process by which an individual who has converted to Christianity reverts to pre-conversion habits and/or lapses or falls into sin, when a person turns from God to pursue their own desire. – The story of the Prodigal Son has become a representation of a backslider that repented. Engraving of the Prodigal Son as a swineherd by Hans Sebald Beham, 1538.

In most such dominating churches we can see that they try to put the guilt feeling by accusing that person who has objections of being a backslider. Saying that the faith is watering down because the person is going the wrong way, spiritually. They want to have the doubting person to believe all lies within him or her. Saying that he or she  is regressing rather than progressing and that there is no proof any more of a commitment to Christ or that a certain standard of behaviour is not there any more.

DivideTheWord.blog, a cloud-based ministry who claim to have as purpose to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world in such a way as to be available to all of God’s children, saying it is free from denominational judgmentalism, free from race, colour or creed stipulations, brings a testimony

Having been a member of an independent Oneness Pentecostal (Apostolic) church for fifteen years, gaining a 4-year degree from a Oneness Pentecostal Bible College, and being involved in many ministries within that church, to them, I am now completely backslid. I know the doctrines. I learned the dogma. I defended it ardently.

I justified foul behavior for the purity of the doctrine and I even considered, as they do, all other Christians, lost. According to Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals (the majority, there are personal exceptions) all other Christians, be they Baptist, Lutheran, you name the group, they will not be going to heaven, because they do not follow the Pentecostal doctrines.

And when I finally had enough of the stink of judgmentalism, elitism, self-righteous pomp, the hypocrisy of their holiness standards, I backslid. I left the church. I’ll never return, nor attend another Oneness Pentecostal church again.

But something miraculous happened to me, and to hundreds, and thousands of others I’m connected to via this blog, my YouTube channel and many recovery based online groups;

I backslid, right into Jesus {I Backslid Into Jesus}

Also Andrea writes

I can assure you that I am anything but a ‘lukewarm’ Christian. {An open letter to the church I left}

The woman who likes to think of the NAR as a ‘mega cult’ or an ‘out-of-control cult’ seems to have not such nice experiences, though at first it looked even so attractive she left her ‘old’ traditional church.

For her

Praise and Worship during a Catholic Charismatic Renewal Healing Service.

It is probably important, at this point, to also note its interconnectedness with the Signs and Wonders, and Word of Faith movements. And that it is also known or characterized by a bunch of other terms, like ‘Dominionism’, ‘The Third Wave’, ‘Kingdom Now Theology’, ‘Joel’s Army’, ‘Manifest Sons of God Doctrine’, ‘Charismania’, ‘The Seven Mountain Mandate’, and ‘The Fivefold Ministry’, to name only a few. And that its precursor was ‘the New Order of the Latter Rain’, a discredited movement out of which a lot of current day NAR teachings is derived. It seems to be an ever changing, constantly evolving and expanding movement, which is what makes it so hard to pinpoint and, I believe, is part of its deceptiveness. {Eighteen Months in a Cult: Prologue}

In Pentecostalism there may be found so many subgroups that often people can not see the woods any more because of the trees. Some of those groups evolve around one ‘spiritual leader’ who can have many people under his spell. Some groups have an end to their existence when the pastor dies, others have a longer life.

In the book ‘A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement’, Geivett & Pivec writes:

“Whereas the Latter Rain revival lasted only a few years, NAR has been around for more than thirty years – since the 1980s, when the office of prophet began to be restored. NAR teachings have gained enough momentum for an entire generation of young people to be raised in churches that promote them. For these people, NAR teachings are at the heart of Christianity.”

Andrea was raised Reformed, and writes

– that is, the other reformation. Whereas the NAR is a falling away from the authority of Scripture towards ‘experiences’, ‘encounters’, and ‘new revelations’, the Protestant Reformation was a return to the light of Scripture. To the eternal things that God has already promised and revealed in His Word, and to recognizing it as the only truth and authority to live by. Hence one of the battle cries was Sola ScripturaScripture Alone. And even though I do not remember the emphasis ever really being placed on the fact that we were Reformed, or being taught exactly what that even meant, this was very much the culture and mind set I had grown up with. {Eighteen Months in a Cult: Prologue}

For the Mega-churches and Pentecostal Churches youngsters are an easy prey because they are not so much interested in pure words of the Scriptures, but like more “ambience” with song and dance and special actions, like seeing people going in trance or watching unbelievable things like people nearly going mad.

Andrea also admits

when you are a young person, still searching for passion and a sense of purpose, it is very hard to disagree with those who say that the traditional church is ‘dead’. And hymns, structure and doctrine simply does not seem all that relevant and exciting anymore.
So for me, when the opportunity presented itself to become part of a young, vibrant, hip & happening church, suffice it to say that I did not hesitate for very long. Even though the circumstances of how I came to be introduced to this church was accompanied by a sense of hurt and rejection, I nevertheless grabbed the opportunity to join what seemed like a genuinely committed, and caring, community of believers. I was hoping, and expecting, to have my faith nurtured and strengthened in the process. {Eighteen Months in a Cult: Prologue}

Question is how much such attractive groups can nurture a person in the good sense. We should know it is really god’s Word that must give guidance to people. It is the Bible which can give us the most correct education and foundation for a good faith.

When not much attention is given to the text from the Bible, people shall miss out edifying material, for reproof and profitable for correction for building up a life according to the Will of God.

When to much attention is giving to the pleasures of life or to the human or natural flesh the real faith can not grow. Mike sojournerphoto remembers

I (was) removed from these organisations many years ago – initially with judgement in my heart – but have since watched the ‘Toronto ‘blessing’ and such stuff thrive. I became increasingly appalled at what was happening and now am amazed that it continues, ever more subtle. I remember a dark day sitting in ‘my church’ sometime around 1986 or 7 and the band deciding to play on after the service to ‘continue to seek God’ and as looked down it was a though there was a dark pit (not visual, so much as metaphorical) and I felt compelled to leave the building. I later came to recognise so much of this as seeking after ‘the flesh’ and to equate it with James observation on the ‘earthly, natural, demonic’.

Therefore let us remember that a true Christian church should be open, have no secrecy for its members nor for the outside world, and should give most attention to the Word of God, it is to readings from the Bible.

Eighteen Months in a Cult: Prologue

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Preceding

Lovers of God, seekers and lovers of truth

Some one or something to fear #3 Cases, folks and outing

All Souls’ Day

 

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Additional reading

  1. Ideas about Religiosity
  2. Religions and Mainliners
  3. Parish, local church community – Parochie, plaatselijke kerkgemeenschap
  4. Expenses, costs – Onkosten, uitgaven
  5. Contribution – Contributie, bijdrage
  6. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  7. A small company of Jesus’ footstep follower
  8. Matthew 6:1-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18 Continued 5 Matthew 6: 24-34: e) Anxiety and neighbor love
  9. Why we do not have our worship-services in a church building
  10. Why we do not keep to a Sabbath or a Sunday or Lord’s Day #6 Sunday or the Lord’s day
  11. Breaking up with a cult
  12. Evangelicalism in France on the rise
  13. Do those who want to follow Christ to be Jews
  14. What is the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI)?
  15. What Doctrines came out of the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement (SDM)?
  16. Place for a fifth and sixth house in Christendom
  17. History of the NAR cult infiltrating the marketplace.
  18. Wagner the NAR and new wineskins
  19. C. Peter Wagner – The Don Quixote of Evangelicalism (Part 1): Knighted as a General.
  20. A new bible translation from the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) group
  21. Using Alexander Dowie’s “altar call” system to suggest that they are God’s instrument to furthering the Kingdom of God here on earth
  22. Brian Simmons and The Passion Translation Deception

+++

Related

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  3. Cult…
  4. Cults around the World: Heaven’s Gate
  5. 049 :: Cult thinking
  6. Sects in the New Testament
  7. Q17: Sects and conflicts
  8. Cult Accusations Against the Body of Christ
  9. True Talk: What goes on within a sect?
  10. Same God – Different People
  11. #Tupper #Saussy PDF : Exposing the #Luciferan #Jesuit #Cult for what it is. #Catholic #Evil – YouTube
  12. Church of England downplayed extent of child abuse allegations, ritual abuse, padeophile cults, multiple personalities, FLDS – Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  13. What is the New Apostolic Reformation?
  14. New Series: The New Apostolic Reformation
  15. Churchwatchcentral create a boogie man
  16. Should James White be disregarded as a valid voice in the field of Christian apologetics?
  17. James Goll Is a Tricky Devil: He Deceives After Warning People About the Devil’s Deception
  18. Prophetess Stacey Campbell Participated in and Promoted Catholic Event that’s in submission to the Magisterium of the Church
  19. Make Your Marine Demon Tap Out Through Full Immersion: Jennifer LeClaire’s Spiritual Hacks to Drowning Marine Demons
  20. NAR Nonsens
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  22. When Church Invades Your Home
  23. Blame Cindy Jacobs for Terrorist Attacks and Tyrannical Leaders
  24. Psychic Fishing Expedition with John Edward and Shawn Bolz
  25. Cults on the rise in social media
  26. Cults of the World: Synanon
  27. Cults of the World: Aum Shinrikyo
  28. Cults of the World: Lundgren Cult
  29. Cults and sects – Jehovahs witnesses [702]
  30. Cults and sects – Christadelphians [703]
  31. Cults and sect – World Wide Church of God, Herbert Armstrong [706]
  32. Children Of God #Cult Was Hell On Earth. #Scotland
  33. Rating Cult Websites (and some background about the cults)
  34. I said #no ..’#In14ways #MercyfulGrace
  35. When Control Sets In – An Excerpt from my Book
  36. The Fall Rivers Cult
  37. A Bunch Of Rich White People From New York Are Being Arrested In Connection With A Sex Cult
  38. This Isn’t a Culture War — But a Patriotic Defense Against All Cults
  39. “Choose Freedom, Choose Happiness” – introduction
  40. Introduction – Prophet or Profit?
  41. My cult made me do comedy
  42. Card Catalog Review: Breaking Free: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult, and My Father, Warren Jeffs
  43. Bethel School Of Spiritual Drunkenness
  44. Drawning in mystery or Secrets with Courtney – a brief series on Scientology
  45. Video Comparison: Matt Chandler and Bethel Redding’s Shawn Bolz on the Same Page: Kooky Practices of Charismatic Things
  46. Are Phil Pringle’s ‘visions’ from God just as infallible as the NT Apostolic letters?
  47. Todd Bentley’s Vintage Heresy Oil and Prayer Cloths
  48. Experience Outweighs Scripture Implies Apostle Jennifer LeClaire
  49. Dr. Michael Brown Promotes Baby Throwing Evangelist Smith Wigglesworth
  50. Greater Works Epic Fail: Why Did Bethel Redding Need to Buy so Many Groceries for CARR Relief?
  51. I Backslid Into Jesus
  52. “Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid”
  53. Jesus The Way (2)

Trying to Get Rid of Holy Days for a Long Time

For real Christians it is clear that lovers of God should keep their hands of the many pagan feasts, like Christmas and Easter, which entered the Roman Catholic Church and several protestant churches.

Luckily we may come to see some changes in some protestant churches willing to debate the reason why to keep only to God given holy days.

*

To remember

Reformed churches historically opposed to observing man made holy days such as Christmas and Easter.

on the continent left some holy day observance to Christian liberty in some of their confessions < compromise with stubborn people for sake of further Reformation, or because civil magistrates forced them to.

Gisbertus Voetius, (delegate to the Synod of Dordt), relates Dutch Church had been trying to get rid of holy days for a long time, but allowance of holy days by the synod was “imposed from the outside, burdensome to the churches,

In Why are Ecclesiastical Feast Days in our Church Order? Rev. Dr. R. D. Anderson gives

Article 65 – Ecclesiastical feast days
On Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, and at Pentecost the consistory shall call the congregation together for church services. The sacred events which the congregation commemorates in particular on these days shall therein be proclaimed
Already in 1573 we see the topic coming to the floor of the Particular Synod of North Holland, that year held in Enkhuizen.
Also decided in respect of feast days, that in common no feast days are to be held other than Easter (Sunday) and the day thereafter, Pentecost (Sunday) and the day thereafter, Christmas, and similarly New Year’s day and Ascension day.
The churches in South Holland were somewhat stricter. A year later their Synod gathered in Dordrecht
making the following pronouncement:
Respecting the feast days which are in addition to the Sunday: it has been decided to rest content only with the Sunday. Nevertheless, the normal material relating to the birth of Christ shall be handled on the Sunday before Christmas day together with an admonition to the people not to observe Christmas day. If Christmas day falls on a Sunday, the same material shall be preached on that day. It is also permitted to preach on the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday, the which is left to the freedom of the ministers.
That seems clear enough. Behind the scenes, however, there was a political battle going on between the Roman Catholic forces and the Protestants. The celebration of these extra days came right in the middle of all that. It was the sort of thing that got people fired up. The Reformed churches needed to be careful to steer a righteous course between all manner of Roman Catholic superstitions which had become associated with these days and an over zealous extremism which could easily lead to political riots. We see that reflected in the decision of the Particular Synod of South Holland held in Rotterdam a year later:

As much as concerns feast days: The government shall be petitioned that they allow everyone to open his shop and to work 6 days in accordance with the 4th commandment of our Lord. And if the government desires to ordain any others besides the Sunday, the delegated ministers will petition parliament that they inform them in such a way that they may consider how much and how far one can permit in this matter, so that on the one hand people don’t fall into superstition as warned by Paul in Gal. 4, and on the other hand that people will not be led to fight too fiercely against the aforesaid government because of certain feast days.
Three years later a national synod was finally able to be held in Dordrecht. By this time it was slowly becoming clear that the political will to be rid of these extra feast days was weak.
On the 12th of July 1578 the government made a “declaration of religious freedom” in which the various Roman Catholic feast days were made compulsory for protestants. The synod in its response attempted to minimise the damage by steering the churches away from any special ways of celebrating these feast days, and keeping them as “normal” days.
1578 National Synod of Dort {Acta, Rutgers p.253 (art. 75, cap.4,23)}
It was indeed to be desired that the freedom from God to work 6 days be permitted in the church, and that only the Sunday be celebrated. Nevertheless since certain other feast days are maintained by authority of the government, namely, Christmas day and the day thereafter, likewise the day after Easter and the day after Pentecost and in some places new years day and ascension day; the ministers shall do their best to teach the congregation to transform unproductive and harmful idleness into a holy and profitable exercise by sermons especially dealing with the birth and resurrection of Christ, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and suchlike articles of the faith. The ministers of churches in those cities where yet more feast days are observed by authority of the government shall do likewise.
In the meantime all the churches shall work to make the use of all feast days except Christmas day (since Easter and Pentecost fall on Sunday) as normal as possible, and as soon as is fitting to abolish them.
By 1581 the goals of the churches had been reduced. It did not any longer seem possible to be rid of all the extra feast days.

 

Sadly, today, not only are many Reformed churches going back to observing Christmas and Easter, some are even beginning to observe Lent, Good FridayAdvent, etc. as well.

Exploring biblical worship from a Protestant Perspective “The Worship Blog” looks at

How little concern for the idea that what is done in the name of worship in so many churches has no warrant from the mouth of God! {About The Worship Blog}

Meg writes

The Scottish Presbyterians managed to remove observance of any pretended holy days other than the divinely prescribed Lord’s Day in their reformation. Indeed, the Reformed early on seemed ready to precede them in this; but due mostly it seems from desires of magistrates to preserve accustomed holidays, ie. days off for workers and servants, they retained various sets of days. This retained a set of other issues, and to ensure the riotous activities of the old days were not retained, the state churches prescribed that there be services and preaching at those times. {John Calvin and Holy Days}

In 1543–44 Calvin advised the church, that

“the observation of feast days was also to be rejected since it so easily led to superstition.”

“Calvin advised the ministers of Montbéliard to stand firm on these matters of principle but to yield wherever else their consciences would allow”. { Jill Raitt, The Colloquy of Montbéliard Religion and Politics in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 21.}

As an aside — The Reformed church of Montbéliard continued as best they could even when the rulers imposed Lutheran practices. Later, the oppressed Reformed churches of France, ruled by Roman Catholic magistrates which prohibited working on the pretended holy days,

“left unto the prudence of Consistories to Congregate the People, on such Holy-Days, either to hear the word Preached, or to join in common publick Prayers, as they shall find to be most expedient” (2nd Synod of Vitré, 1617).

American Presbyterians were opposed to the religious observation of Christmas and other ‘holy days.’  > Read more: https://www.naphtali.com/articles/chris-coldwell/the-religious-observance-of-christmas-and-holy-days-in-american-presbyterianism/

Read also: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/91380-Three-Books-on-quot-Christmas-quot-and-a-33-off-Black-Friday-Sale, Comment 25