[Note: The first article that Todd Wilhelm/Thou Art The Man blog wrote was in response to Jonathan D. Leeman’s article at 9 Marks about my 1-star review on Amazon of Mark Dever’s 9 Marks book and the horrible abuses, excommunications and shunnings – akin to the Salem Witch Trials that I saw practiced by the pastors/elders at my former church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley. 9 Marks censored and deleted all comments from the article from other people, very good critiques of 9 Marks. Now 9 Marks has censored another article and deleted comments. So much for ‘adult discussions’ about serious topics. When the going gets tough, Mark Dever and Jonathan D. Leeman turn tail and run. – Velour/MtnShepherdess, Moderator/blogger]
Reblogged from Todd Wilhelm’s website Thou Art The Man ©.
Yesterday I wrote an article titled “Jonathan Leeman: Parsing Words and Deleting Comments.” The subject of the article was the removal of all comments on an article published on the 9Marks website and Leeman’s lame and dishonest reasons given for doing so. The article, written by Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director of 9Marks, is titled “Don’t Be a 9Marxist!”
Yesterday I was alerted to the fact that Leeman also removed all comments from another article on the 9Marks blog titled “The Abuse of Authority in Prosperity Gospel Churches.”
The article, written by D.A. Horton, began by stating the following”
TGC and BFFs may be contributing to ongoing child sex abuse problems in TGC churches.
Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley scrubs the internet of all negative reviews about their authoritarianism and spiritual abuse of church members. Negative reviews by former church members are repeatedly taken down. My negative YELP reviews (logical) have been taken down. Here is a good ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that was just released today on 9/12/16.
9th’s Ruling is here: 14-35487
Businesses can’t sue Yelp over bad reviews, 9th Cir. rules.
Here is my YELP review which was taken down, because GBF doesn’t like the truth. [I have added some resource links to the review since it is now published on my blog.] Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley scrubs the internet of all negative reviews. From YELP to Google to Amazon* and anywhere else.(*Note: After writing a negative review on Amazon beneath Cliff McManis’ book, and describing the abusive church he leads, the church had Amazon revoke ALL of my customer reviewing privileges, which I have given mostly 4-5 stars for other products, been a customer of Amazon’s for years, and have ordered many products for myself and as gifts for other people. I wrote the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, about the problems with GBFSV, the excommunications and shunnings, the Megan’s List sex offender. Jeff Bezos RESTORED my customer reviewing priviledges. And I just started this blog because I refuse to see that level of abuse that goes on at GBFSV, be subjected to it like they did to me, and turn around and be silent.)
“It was very disturbing to be a member of this church and to see the level of mistreatment shown by the GBF pastors/elders to adult Christians, an iron-fisted authoritarian control over adult Christians’ lives and demands for ‘obedience’.There were excommunications and shunnings ordered of dear Christians for any independent thought.
Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley is one of the growing number ofauthoritarian, NeoCalvinist churches spreading across the U.S. and it’s not *Biblical*.
*Heavy Shepherding. GBFpractices the 1970’s heavy-Shepherding movement’s un-Biblical control of Christians’ lives by the pastors/elders. The Florida founders repented for its abuses and un-Biblicalness. The GBF leaders have not repented and the damage is growing in the lives at GBF. GBF copies Mark Dever’s (Capitol Hill Baptist, Washington, D.C.) 9Marks organization. It is a heavily criticized model, including by conservatives, who have said that there is only ONE Biblical mark of a healthy church: Love. The other 9Marks are un-Biblical and it’s the Heavy Shepherding Movement all over again.
*Membership Covenants. Members are told to sign them because they’re *Biblical* and back to a Biblical basic. In point of fact they aren’t Biblical and are used to exert authoritarian control over members’ lives. Jesus required people to sign how many pages to follow Him? Correct answer: 0 pages. (Don’t sign!)
*Congregational vote. GBF wants your money but doesn’t believe in a true Biblical church honoring the Holy Spirit’s work in Christians lives and giftedness. It is more authoritarian control exerted by a few yes-men over the Body of Christ, hobbling the power of the Holy Spirit to truly work. I will never go to a church again that is run like GBF. I will never give money to one again.
*Women. GBF pastors/elders promote Complementarian/Patriarchy doctrine that women are to “obey” and to “submit” and be 2nd class citizens. At GBF they live under the old Covenant and not the new one in Christ. GBF pastors espouse the Council on Biblical Manhood Womanhood which teaches a Semi-Arian Heresy by Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem called the Eternal [a lie] Subordination of the Son to justify the subordination of women. It is untrue and is trinatarian heresy. GBF has put this man-made doctrine on par with The Gospel. If you reject Comp you reject The Gospel. Nonsense. Read: Wartburg Watch blog for more info. [Additional Note. 9/6/2016. Former church members who have a Complementarian marriage and are Calvinists pointed out to me today that despite their conservative views that they don’t support the practices of the GBFSV pastors/elders and the mistreatment of the flock, that it has nothing to do with Comp or Calvinism but with these GBFSV pastors/elders choices to harm the flock. They have said that Cliff McManis is into other people ‘obeying’ and ‘submitting’ and his ‘authority’. Chauvinism as well. That’s not what this nice,conservative Christian couple believes or practices. Fair enough. Duly noted.]
*Teaching. GBFSV does not permit Godly women to teach the Word of God. They base this on the writing of the Apostle Paul. Paul wrote Timothy about one woman — original text in Greek said “the woman” — teaching one man error. Paul wanted her to learn correctly first. The issue wasn’t her being a woman, the issue was error – and that would be true if it was a man in error. Manipulative anti-woman Bible translators conveniently changed the text to something Paul never wrote to prohibit all Christian women for all time from teaching. Paul never wrote that.
*Nouthetic Counseling. GBF leaders believe that Bible is sufficient counsel for everything. They have no training and licensing, do not follow Cal. law, and frequently cross over the line into the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine (a crime in California that can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony). This bogus form of non-counseling comes from the un-trained Jay Adams and his books. It is malpractice. GBF pastors/elders did not get an older woman alcoholic to the care of a physician to supervise her treatment and spent months with members discussing “gossip” and drawing pictures on the blackboard. In the end this woman, her adult children, and church members were harmed. [Note: According to the U.S. Department of Education the “college” where senior pastor Cliff McManis claims he earned his “Ph.D.” from and another advanced degree IS a diploma mill (Faith Bible College) in Independence, Missouri. Its only “accrediting agency”, not a bona fide one recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, was brought up on fraud charges by the Missouri Attorney General and banned from doing business in Missouri. The “accrediting agency” simply moved to near by Arkansas, renamed their business, and has done the same thing in Missouri again. I recently advised the Missouri Attorney General that the group was back in Missouri and to “go get them”. A real Ph.D. from an accredited university takes about eight years of hard work to earn.]
Additionally, the GBFSV pastors/elders held me responsible for the genetically inherited brain disorder – Dyslexia – of a woman church member who refuses medical care. She can’t remember entire events and accuses other people like me of lying. Dyslexia isn’t just a reading problem but a memory problem.
Excommunications/Shunnings/Stalking. A godly woman left GBF for a saner church and was harassed by church members on the orders of the GBF pastors/elders. A godly doctor was excommunicated for dissenting in private. I was excommunicated because the GBF pastors/elders blamed me for someone’s memory problems. A bizarre church!!!
*Credentials. Snr pstr’s *Ph.D*. is from a MO. diploma mill.
GETTING OUT: Don’t tell them. Send a certified/return receipt letter & resign, no details. Call 911 and contact an attorney if they bother you. Read: Wartburg Watch blog for details.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Women – call domestic violence shelters/support groups for help getting out. Call 9-1-1. Read: A Cry For Justice blog by pastor/cop.
Child Endangerment in California:
BOOK: Churches That Abuse, Dr. Ron Enroth (FREE online).
Recovering From Churches that Abuse, Dr. Ron Enroth (FREE below). [Note: I started reading this book first and I read Dr. Enroth’s other book second.]
SEARCH TERMS: Spiritual Abuse, Membership Covenants, Authoritarianism, NeoCalvinism, Homeschoolers Anonymous, Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board,Steve Hassan. [See links on the Blog Roll on the right side of this page.]
Steve Hassan. Psychologist/author/Thought Reform expert: https://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php
Brad/FuturistGuy (Christian blogger/researcher) article about Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, psychiatrist at Yale, former Air Force psychiatrist, researcher, studied Communist Chinese Thought Reform, which is also how other authoritarian groups work:
I learned that I know more than I thought I did & I will never listen to authoritarian men again!”
When gossip is righteous.
Note: Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Enid church in Enid, Oklahoma, a Baptist church. Wade has succinctly explained why Christians should say ‘no’ to signing Membership Covenants.
Five Reasons to Say “No” to a Church Covenantby Wade Burleson ©
simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
“…Karen filed for an immediate annulment of her marriage to Jordan apart from the counsel of the church… (by) signing the Membership Covenant, a member agrees … to receive our care…”
Karen had respectfully requested withdrawal of membership from Village Church, but the elders wouldn’t allow it because she had not sought their counsel. She refused to come “under their care,” so they put Karen under discipline. No Village Church member under discipline, wrote Village church authorities, can “withdraw” from membership. Therefore, Village pastors/elders “refused to accept” Karen’s request to withdraw from Village membership.
This is an ugly situation all the way around. Village Church leaders–regardless of the vocal criticism they receive–believe they are men of integrity. They are, in their minds, fulfilling their pastoral role and abiding by the church covenant they demanded everyone sign before they became members. Some who are not members of Village are blaming Karen for signing a church covenant. Nobody should blame Karen. She, like other evangelicals, probably had no idea of the ultimate consequences of signing church covenants. The guilt lies with church authorities who demanded signatures from prospective members that turned their spiritual formation and maturation over to mere men instead of the Holy Spirit.
Read Village’s Church Covenant. It’s chilling when it comes to the authority of elders and church leaders. Here are some of the phrases that the prospective member must read and then sign, vowing their allegiance to obey:
- I understand the importance of submission to church leadership
- I will submit to the elders and other appointed leaders of the church
- I will agree to walk through the steps of marriage reconciliation at The Village Church before pursuing divorce from my spouse
I’ve written several articles stating that the major problem in modern evangelical Christianity is theauthoritarianism of evangelical leaders. I have sought to explain how pastors/elders “twist the Scriptures” and demand “obedience and submission” to this alleged authority. Jesus tells us that that true ‘spiritual leaders’ are only servants, never masters. Yet, evangelical leaders seem not to be listening to Jesus.
With this in mind, I would like to give you five reasons why I would never sign a church membership covenant in order to become a member.
(1). A church covenant makes the Holy Spirit irrelevant in my life.
Used with permission.
A wonderful book that I bought and would recommend. – Velour
“Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that a Christian leader, because of title or position, has moral authority over another Christian. Pagans will seek offices that grant them power and authority in order to exert their leadership (lordship) over others. Jesus said that His people were not to seek to rule over others, but to serve others selflessly and love others unconditionally. When a church or home gives in to Fraudulent Authority, the people of Christ become more pagan in practice than Christian. Fraudulent Authority teaches you how to recognize this dangerous practice of Christians seeking to exert power and authority over people in evangelical churches and homes and what you can do about it.”
From the Author
From Amazon: “Biography
As the pressure mounts on the Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders, instigated no less by all of their wrong decisions, bad decisions, and ultimately bad theology, they haven’t humbled themselves. They’ve dug in deeper. They’ve claimed in emails to church members that they are now ‘being persecuted’ and need ‘prayers’ for protection for the GBF Body.
Is it Biblical or just one of the manipulative antics of an abusive church? Read The Wartburg Watch article on the “9 Marks of An Abusive Church.”
“Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.“ CS Lewis-Screwtape Letters”
How can you spot an abusive church? Do you know the “red flags”? Dr. Ronald Enroth, is a leading scholar on cults and cultism, and his special perspectives have proven beneficial to both the secular and the religious society. Dr. Enroth is a professor of Sociology at Westmont College (Santa Barbara, California) where he has taught since 1965, beginning as a sociology instructor. In 1992 Enroth wrote Churches That Abuse, and it continues to be an important resource nearly two decades later.
Margaret Thaler Singer, a clinical psychologist and emeritus professor of the University of California, Berkeley, provided her hearty recommendation on the book’s jacket. Here is an excerpt:
Churches That Abuse answers these and other important questions about abusive churches and groups that operate in this country – organizations and churches that are not necessarily characterized by doctrinal deviation but have particular traits that make them behavioral and sociological outsiders. It also helps readers identify and beware of abusive tendencies in more “normal” Christian churches.”
In his classic book Dr. Enroth identifies distinctive traits of abusive churches which should serve as “red flags”. Pat Zukeran, a research associate with Probe Ministries, has written an excellent review of Churches That Abuse, and we will be sharing excerpts from his article “Abusive Churches”, along with quotes from the book, to explain some of these identifying traits or “MARKS”.
To explain this identifying mark, Zukeran writes: “Because abusive churches see themselves as elite, they expect persecution in the world and even feed on it. Criticism and exposure by the media are seen as proof that they are the true church being persecuted by Satan. However, the persecution received by abusive churches is different from the persecution received by Jesus and the Apostles.