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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: New Frontiers new apostolic spheres
Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Arminian:
St Peter - was he really head of the church?

There's a lot of talk about who's head of the Church, but ultimately this is Jesus. Nevertheless, Peter was given the keys to heaven. My understanding is that Peter is the first among equals (the Apostles) - because all eleven remaining disciples were charged with the Great Commission.
quote:
I don't think it can be said that one was in overall charge in the way Terry Virgo is in charge of NF.
But I'm sure Terry has never said he is head of the Church, just the founder of NF.

quote:
So how much does Terry Virgo earn?
How much do you earn? Why is it so important for us to know?

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"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

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FreeJack
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Because it is a requirement of company and charity law to disclose payments to trustees and directors.

CCK / NFI get round this because TV is officially a Director of NFI not CCK/Clarendon, and only an Elder/Leader and not a trustee of CCK/Clarendon, which is reimbursed for TV's salary and expenses by NFI. They deny that one body runs the other, or that TV is in effective control at CCK. Does anyone actually believe that?

One of these days I will ask the Charity Commission and ICAEW to investigate the auditor that signs that off! That's where the buck really lies imnsvho.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
But I'm sure Terry has never said he is head of the Church, just the founder of NF.

Terry presents himself as the leader of an apostlic movement dedicated to the restoration of New Testament christianity. As discussed ad nauseam here before, restorationist churches claim (or claimed) to be restoring a "definitive" christianity, not just creating another denomination.

They might not claim a monopoly, but they would certainly argue that their form of church government is inherently superior to any other.

Of course, when challenged they will put on another spin and claim to be just one among many different facets of the body of Christ, but I assure you this message outside the organisation is very different to the one inside.

With such serious claims should come equally serious accountabiltiy - but it doesn't.

Indeed, if lofty claims of this nature are no longer made, as argued on the 'Restorationism then and now' thread, NF and other restorationist outfits lose their entire raison d'être and their organisational rationale. Why go for all that heavy commitment when you can just nip down to New Wine every so often for a top-up of the Holy Spirit and then go back to the comfort of your MoR Anglican church?

quote:
How much do you earn? Why is it so important for us to know?
In addition to the excellent points made by FreeJack, I'd just like to say that throughout my tenure as a paid pastor, my payslips and expenses claims were available along with the rest of the accounts to any church member who asked to see them. I think this should be the rule, not the exception.

However, I can assure you that while this may be the case in individual NF churches, it is (or at least was) most certainly not the case if people ask to see the NF books, as related above.

To me this offers further demonstration of how NF leaders see accountability working - emphatically not towards the people they are supposed to be serving.

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Mark Betts

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You make NF sound like one of these Prosperity Gospel outfits, like Joyce Meyer - but I'm sure they're not like that. I think they just encourage tithing. If you object to that, why be a member?

As for their charitable status - it's really for the authorities to determine this isn't it?

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"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
There's an element of NFI-envy around in some charismatic circles in the older churches and denominations just as there is (or used to be) and element of Vineyard-envy).

It looks good from the outside ...

I think a lot of this is down to the perceived amount of energy in a lot of these churches - because they currently end up with a large number of young couples due to the way they are structured to evangelise.

I mean, at one point everyone wanted to be like Vineyard as you point out, and these days a lot of people in Vineyard want to be the NFI.

I suspect that like a lot of shorter lived movements, it'll turn out to be generational - especially as their current attendees think of church as cool.

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Snags
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Mark, it's not about the money, it's about transparency and accountability. That the leadership apparently obfuscate on matters that most other comparable organisations, secular or religious, do not is not generally a good indicator.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
You make NF sound like one of these Prosperity Gospel outfits, like Joyce Meyer - but I'm sure they're not like that. I think they just encourage tithing. If you object to that, why be a member?

They are not necessarily prosperity based, though some of those leaders tend that way. Like a lot of similar groups there is a lot of assumption of a certain set of middle class values.
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Niteowl

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quote:
Originally posted by Drewthealexander:
On Niteowl's point about boards of elders. Yes, NF churches have them. In the case I mentioned above, some churches members approached the elders to query the leader's behaviour. They were told a) he's the church leader (as if that somehow self-authenticated his decisions) and b) they 'had to trust their leaders.'

This is, I think, precisely the sort of evidence that supports Eutychus's observations.

What we need to remember here is that the behaviours described by Eutychus, Irish Lord, Aminian and myself all took place in different NF churches in different parts of this country and other countries. This suggests to me the issue is more cultural than individual.

Having said that I must say with Polly and Barnabas that there are many fine believers in NF. It is very much to Twangist's credit, for example, that he participates in these discussions.

I have no doubt that there are many fine leaders and individuals in the congregations of NF, but with the response you've said is given to those who appeal to the board of elders you have just the ripe conditions that have lead to abuse in every other ministry I've seen that takes that viewpoint. It is not good enough and does nothing to stem abuse in process.

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irish_lord99
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quote:
Originally posted by Drewthealexander:
Having said that I must say with Polly and Barnabas that there are many fine believers in NF. It is very much to Twangist's credit, for example, that he participates in these discussions.

I would agree with that as well, it's not as if i don't have good friends still attending NF or in leadership positions.

I suppose the reader can decide for him/herself if NF is more abusive than other denominations; I've no knowledge of statistics saying one way or the other (and even if I did, read my sig!).

The problem I see is that the potential for abuse is greater than in most denominations. Coming back around to the origins of this thread, it will be interesting to see if the new structure of NF will change this potential for abuse. So far, it doesn't feel like it's off to a good start to me; what with the incredible vagueness and opaqueness of the move etc.

It would be fairly simple for them to describe the establishment of the new 'spheres' and their leadership and give solid definitions of each of the leaders' roles (not to mention, name the leaders!): and yet they have chosen not to do that so far.

Maybe they're still getting organized?

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"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Mark Twain

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Edward Green
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

They might not claim a monopoly, but they would certainly argue that their form of church government is inherently superior to any other.

I suppose I could claim something similar for catholic order, however there is certainly room for questioning. How effectively does an Anglican Chapter work as a local gathering of Elders, what on earth have we done with the Diaconate, and how to Church Wardens & PCC's operate within this model as forms of lay eldership?

I would suggest that there is an apostolic model of Bishop's Priests and Deacons that is expressed imperfectly in a range of forms of Christianity, including RC, NF, CofE, Methodism, URC etc. However I work within Anglicanism because I see it as a valid and good expression of that ideal despite further work and renewal being needed.I am not sure NF would express it that way.

quote:
Originally posted by irish_lord99:


The problem I see is that the potential for abuse is greater than in most denominations.

There are two particular areas that can increase potential for abuse in NF. Strong Leadership and Charismatic Ministry. At times I exercise both, so it really is about the accountability structures that are in place and the culture of the community.

[ 16. June 2012, 10:27: Message edited by: Edward Green ]

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Arminian
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quote:
How much do you earn? Why is it so important for us to know?

Er, because I'm not standing up the front of a church telling you to give me 10% of your income, and that people who refused to give in the bible came under a curse, and also refusing to disclose clearly what I pay myself.

Of course NF will never tell anyone that the tithe was only on food producers, wasn't 10% but nearer 23%, that Levites couldn't own property, that tithes were only paid in food contributions not money, and that two of the three tithes didn't go to the priests at all. They will just keep quoting the text from Malachi out of context to justify bringing a local tithe to them (the scripture really refers to the tithe given to the poor kept in local storehouses not the tithe given to Levites). Our local NF church got tithes of many people, but the food bank located in the church had to pay them rent. If they stuck to the OT biblical principle they should have paid the food bank not the other way round !

The early church put up no buildings, had no one leader, never claimed the right to a tithe, didn't have professional paid orators up the front, and met in each others houses in small groups. NF are not in anyway restoring the NT church - but they are using the claim that they are to justify what in my opinion is an abusive system with the potential to have cult like overtones. Trying to use God as a justification for your system that just happens to benefit your own wallet, when no such justification exists in the Bible is wrong. Its SIN!

If you think this doesn't matter consider the case of friend of my wife's in the early 80's who was so scared that she had 'robbed God' by not paying her tithe, she was actually having to go round to others houses to find food to eat because she couldn't afford to tithe and buy food when made redundant. Is this the sort of result you want by telling people not to question NF ? More ABUSE !

Why should I give money to a church who can't tell us how much its leader earns ? It looks sinister. It may not be, but it looks it.

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Edward Green:
How effectively does an Anglican Chapter work as a local gathering of Elders, what on earth have we done with the Diaconate, and how to Church Wardens & PCC's operate within this model as forms of lay eldership?

Well, there is a rather Protestant view of Anglican polity that sees church wardens and PCC members as the local church eldership, something like New Testament presbyters; various lay church workers as mapping on to the Biblical structure as deacons; incumbents as equivalent to NT overseers or bishops (with ordained deacons as therefore a kind of assistant bishop - which is in fact what they seem to have been in the late first and second centuries); and our consecrated bishops as merely people appointed to some central bureaucratic or political job with no inherent distinction between their ordination and that of a parish priest. I think I have heard or read things like that argued (or at least hinted at) by some well-known charismatic-evangelical Anglicans. (As a mere Reader I couldn't possibly comment [Biased] )

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Edward Green
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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
Well, there is a rather Protestant view of Anglican polity that sees church wardens and PCC members as the local church eldership, something like New Testament presbyters; various lay church workers as mapping on to the Biblical structure as deacons; incumbents as equivalent to NT overseers or bishops (with ordained deacons as therefore a kind of assistant bishop - which is in fact what they seem to have been in the late first and second centuries); and our consecrated bishops as merely people appointed to some central bureaucratic or political job with no inherent distinction between their ordination and that of a parish priest. I think I have heard or read things like that argued (or at least hinted at) by some well-known charismatic-evangelical Anglicans. (As a mere Reader I couldn't possibly comment [Biased] )

I can agree with an element of that, but would suggest a more fractal view. In that the Apostolic ministry of Bishops and Priests and Deacons is seen at a smaller scale in the Parish or Benefice. Our Church Wardens certainly act in an eldership capacity.

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Gamaliel
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The tithing thing isn't unique to NFI, of course, Arminian, it tends to be taught that way across a lot of independent charismatic evangelical fellowships ie. completely out of context ...

Andrew Walker drily observed in 'Restoring the Kingdom' that whilst a lot of the 'giving' stuff from 2 Corinthians was taught in the restorationist churches, he'd yet to hear any of the 'apostles' cite the apostle Paul's contention that although he might be entitled to financial support he was prepared to waive it and work in a 'secular' capacity instead in order not to be a burden on anyone ...

I'm sure there are plenty of tithe horror stories.

In our network, very similar in ethos to NFI, we also used to have a 'heap offering' at the annual Bible Weeks. I used to call them 'hype-offerings' as people were worked up in order to give large sums. One year a student friend put all his money into it and spent the rest of the year scrounging food off the rest of us in our shared student house ...

When I mentioned this to the 'apostles' (many years later) as indicative of a flawed system they shrugged it off and suggested that I was to blame for 'lack of faith' ... [Roll Eyes]

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irish_lord99
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Ah yes, we had a young man here give his last 50cents in the offering basket. He had been unemployed and found a job the very next week, which of course was hailed as a triumph of faith as expressed through giving.

The inconvenient fact that his new employer worked him for three months without ever giving him a cent before he finally quit was quietly ignored.

Of course, shaky teaching concerning tithing has been around in Pentecostal circles for a long, long time; and are hardly unique to NF. In all fairness, I'd say that they actually buy into their own rhetoric concerning the whole matter: I don't think they preach this way just to get more cash in the offering plate.

The observed cognitive dissonance between expected and actual results might as well be added to the pile on top of prophetic words and certain beliefs about tongues.

It's foolishness, but within NF at least, I personally don't think it's malicious.

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Gamaliel
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I'd second that. There's wishful thinking and naivety rather than maliciousness, I'd suggest.

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Arminian
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I'd second that. There's wishful thinking and naivety rather than maliciousness, I'd suggest.

Up to a point. When I put these arguments against tithing to a pastor he couldn't refute them but carried on preaching it anyway. It does cause people to give out of guilt.

Anyone from NF want to invite speakers who will preach against tithing ?

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irish_lord99
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quote:
Originally posted by Arminian:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I'd second that. There's wishful thinking and naivety rather than maliciousness, I'd suggest.

Up to a point. When I put these arguments against tithing to a pastor he couldn't refute them but carried on preaching it anyway. It does cause people to give out of guilt.

Anyone from NF want to invite speakers who will preach against tithing ?

I agree with you, but you could say the same about almost anything they teach. I think it's fair to say that many NF branches can be bull-headed in the way they teach about tithing, but I don't think it's fair to say that they are doing so because they want to fleece the congregation like Benny Hinn or other prosperity kooks.

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Twangist
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I don't recognise this tangent at all - I've never ever heared tithing preached in a NF church.
We are a grace movement (in theory).

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
I don't recognise this tangent at all - I've never ever heared tithing preached in a NF church.
We are a grace movement (in theory).

"Should you tithe net or gross? Well, do you want God to bless you net or gross?" or words to that effect from one of the NFI big wigs around these parts.
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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
I don't recognise this tangent at all - I've never ever heared tithing preached in a NF church.
We are a grace movement (in theory).

"Should you tithe net or gross? Well, do you want God to bless you net or gross?" or words to that effect from one of the NFI big wigs around these parts.
It's important to know exactly what he said. The quote makes him sound like some televangelist (such as Joyce Meyer), but then you add "...or words to that effect."

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
I don't recognise this tangent at all - I've never ever heared tithing preached in a NF church.
We are a grace movement (in theory).

I'm sure you didn't intend this, Twangist, but I think this epitomises the kind of cognitive dissonance so prevalent in NewFrontiers.

I have definitely heard tithing preached (and indeed I know one leader who would encourage people to give by standing order and quiz those who didn't to see whether they were tithing). On the other hand, it's remarkably difficult to find anything about it on NewFrontiers pages, and there's all that stuff about grace.

However, this page from GodFirst, P.J. Smythe's outfit in South Africa (part of NF) helps to show why: tithing is considered as not enough.

First, the "grace" part:

quote:
In the days before Christ came, God’s people related to God essentially by obeying laws to show their love and devotion to him. This included obeying laws related to giving such as tithes (giving 10% of gross income to the temple) and offerings (ad hoc gifts over and above the tithe).

But once Christ came, the law fell away and the New Testament thunders out that we now relate to God through his grace not our works – we no longer have to obey laws to please him because we have already been made 100% righteous by Jesus’ death.

It follows that:

quote:
grace raises the bar not lowers it: Grace, when understood, is way more powerful and effective in our lives than the law was
So here's the killer (my bold):

quote:
So, we see that giving less than 10% per month would be a declaration that the law is more powerful than grace – how tragic that would be!
And just in case you were in any doubt about the contemporary application of that;

quote:
we would like all members to be comfortable and consistent in the principle of the tithe - giving at least 10% of gross income to Godfirst
The really devilish thing is how a "grace" argument is used here to make people feel guilty if (as they believe) they are doing less than what the law requires.

[ 17. June 2012, 20:07: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Eutychus
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And before anyone protests that this is just some African thing, here's what the membership manual of ChristChurch London, described on the Wikipedia page on Newfrontiers as "one of the largest NewFrontiers churches in the UK" has to say on the topic (my bold):

quote:
In the Old Testament, Scripture speaks of giving the first tenth (or tithe) back to God, and the New Testament develops this with a generous attitude that assumes a tithe as a starting point for our giving.

At ChristChurch, our goal is to encourage everyone to give a tenth or more of our income to the work of God in the local church

Note also something that was general practice in NF in the UK at least during my time in the movement (churches got into trouble with the apostles if they weren't doing this):

quote:
In turn, ChristChurch gives a tithe of all our income to the work of Newfrontiers
One of my ongoing musings amid these "new apostolic spheres" is what is happening to that 10% now that NewFrontiers' operations (such as a central office) have been wound up, and who gets to decide that.

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
I don't recognise this tangent at all - I've never ever heared tithing preached in a NF church.
We are a grace movement (in theory).

So what * does* your church teach about giving? And when people ask the question 'should we tithe' what does the leadership of the church teach?
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Arminian
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Well I'm having a look through my NF Church Life course booklet. There are three pages on tithing. Makes a similar grace/law argument that Eutychus references.

Gives 6 reasons to tithe ! Here are some quotes (my counter arguments in brackets):


1) Tithing honors an old testament principle of how God provided for the ministers he called and the expenses of their ministry.

(Not applicable because they weren't ministers, and they couldn't earn a wage by owning property).

2) When we release a tenth of our income and give it over to the ministry and mission of Christ in the world, we honor the rights of Creator God who owns everything, including all our income.

(Sounds religious but Jesus said sell your possessions and give to the poor. St Paul supported himself through part time work ! He did not require a tithe to become the most active apostle in the early church !)

3) Giving away a tenth of our income to the mission and ministry of Christ is an antidote to covetousness.

(Where does it say this in the Bible ? I can't find it. The Pharisees gave a tenth, but were covetousness. Obviously it didn't work for them !)

4) The fourth reason for going to the tithe and beyond in our giving is that this is God's way of bringing about many good deeds for his glory. (Quotes Paul from 2 Cor 9, forgets to mention that Paul states in the passage giving shouldn't be under compulsion (which tithing is)! Fails to mention that the passage wasn't talking about giving to ministers, but poor believers.)

5) The fifth reason for giving the tithe and beyond is that it is God's way of providing you, the tither, sufficient money for your needs. (Goes on to Quote Malachi 3.10. Fails to mention that the tithe in Malachi is the tithe of food for the poor held in the local storehouse by food producers, hence the promise of rain to compensate them. It was not about tithing to Levites let alone ministers).

6)Finally in our giving we should press toward the tithe and beyond because it will prove and strengthen our faith in God promises. There is an absolute connection between faith in the promises of God and peace of mind in giving away what we may think we need but don't...

(Total rubbish. How many people got healed or helped by Jesus because they paid him ?)

... Malachi also sends a serious note concerning keeping back what is God's as he declares that this is in fact robbing God and may bring a curse upon the individual. (This is spiritual abuse in my book. Very dangerous stuff.)

... We must be very careful we do not turn our unconditional act of giving the first fruits which itself is an act of worship into an opportunity to donate money to our favorite causes.
(So again its the local church. No basis in scripture for this at all.)

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
I don't recognise this tangent at all - I've never ever heared tithing preached in a NF church.
We are a grace movement (in theory).

"Should you tithe net or gross? Well, do you want God to bless you net or gross?" or words to that effect from one of the NFI big wigs around these parts.
It's important to know exactly what he said. The quote makes him sound like some televangelist (such as Joyce Meyer), but then you add "...or words to that effect."
That is more or less what he said, the wording may have differed slightly but not a lot.
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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Arminian:
Fails to mention that the passage wasn't talking about giving to ministers, but poor believers.

In fairness, as others have indicated, I don't think tithing in NF is particularly about the enrichment of ministers.

Of course, it depends what you think they should earn, if anything at all, but widespread practice in NF in my day was to peg full-time leaders' salaries to that of teachers in some way. I have stayed in Terry's former house in Hove and while it wasn't small, their lifestyle was not at all what I would call lavish.

I think "neo-tithing" of the kind described here is born more out of a conviction that christians should be giving a large part of their resources to the work of the restored church (ie NF) than something health-and-wealthy.

However, this (and the discouragement from giving to other recipients) illustrates their exclusivist message that NF is the church, not just one among many. And using a "grace" argument to coerce people into feeling obligated to give more than 10% (which may not be universal but of which evidence has been supplied above) is just insiduous.

<tangent/other thread topic>:

One of the enduring legacies of my departure from NF for me personally has been backing right off the whole "generous giving to my local church" argument. I don't take a salary from any form of ministry now and would hesistate to do so again, but trying to fund even basic operations of a church that doesn't have centuries' worth of assets without preaching some form of tithing is definitely a challenge.

</tangent>

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Arminian
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I was going to tell my NF minister if he demanded a tithe he could have 10% of my vegetable plot but had to sell his house and car first.

I came to the conclusion I wasn't exactly eldership material in NF (probably not anywhere else to be fair !).

What I disliked was that you could never really discuss theology with them. If you didn't agree with the 'vision' (ie Terry Virgo's views on pretty much everything) you were 'not one of us' as far as leadership was concerned. However they'd never say it, just more unwritten rules.

NF seems to operate on two levels. The 'we're all happy and chummy mates' on the surface, and 'submit or leave' if you want influence or leadership positions. (Lead, follow or step aside as PJ Smythe puts it !).

Is this the Iron fist of Calvanism in a woolly glove of charismatic happy clappyness ?

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Edward Green
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quote:
Originally posted by Arminian:

NF seems to operate on two levels. The 'we're all happy and chummy mates' on the surface, and 'submit or leave' if you want influence or leadership positions. (Lead, follow or step aside as PJ Smythe puts it !).

Is this the Iron fist of Calvanism in a woolly glove of charismatic happy clappyness ?

Neither. As a Priest I welcome disagreement and those who disagree onto our PCC's. I have heard other clergy say they have 'got rid of everyone who disagrees with them from the PCC' - even if said in jest it betrays an underlying attitude.

But then those second types of PCC's often seem to achieve more and sooner, rather than being bound up in debate and discussion, and that debate can in itself cause hurt and confusion. Which is the better path?

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by Edward Green:
quote:
Originally posted by Arminian:

NF seems to operate on two levels. The 'we're all happy and chummy mates' on the surface, and 'submit or leave' if you want influence or leadership positions. (Lead, follow or step aside as PJ Smythe puts it !).

Is this the Iron fist of Calvanism in a woolly glove of charismatic happy clappyness ?

Neither. As a Priest I welcome disagreement and those who disagree onto our PCC's. I have heard other clergy say they have 'got rid of everyone who disagrees with them from the PCC' - even if said in jest it betrays an underlying attitude.

But then those second types of PCC's often seem to achieve more and sooner, rather than being bound up in debate and discussion, and that debate can in itself cause hurt and confusion. Which is the better path?

I think there's a couple of dimensions to this. If leaders want to take decisions for which they are accountable, without taking account the views of others, that's fine as long as everyone knows the ground rules when you start. Churches are voluntary organisations and you can find out how things work before you join. If you don't like the leadership style, go somewhere else.

The problem is when leaders tell you decisions are made one way, when in fact they are made in another way.

The issue for me isn't so much whether leaders have the right to make decisions, as when they want to make decisions for which they are not accountable, exceed the bounds of their authority, or create a culture in which they themselves cannot be held to account for their behaviour.

The latter is my biggest concern about some NF churches. Ungodly behaviour doesn't become godly because you perpetrate it in your capacity as a leader.

Having said that I know of other NF churches where the leaders are almost paranoid about the need to avoid being controlling. They combine a clarity of leadership, with an openness to the Spirit, and strongly value their members. It's quite a feat if you can pull it off, but really this is the ideal we find in the New Testament.

I'm praying we see more of the latter in our churches and less of the former.

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'

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Eutychus
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[Overused]

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Twangist
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What R said

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Twangist
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quote:
Originally posted by Ramarius:
quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
I don't recognise this tangent at all - I've never ever heared tithing preached in a NF church.
We are a grace movement (in theory).

So what * does* your church teach about giving? And when people ask the question 'should we tithe' what does the leadership of the church teach?
Church membership involves supporting the church with your prayers, your gifts (i.e. doing stuff, getting caught up in the rotas (old joke - "why is church like a helecopter? - becasue if you stand too close you get caught up in the rotas")) and your money.
Giving should involve faith, is connected to investing in the vision of the church and is part of your worship. (God owns everything anyway).
Joyless legalism (I've given my 10% cos that's want God wants) isn't encouraged!!
It's a 2 way thing as well - church funds have frequently been used to support members in financial need.
Our also church fincncialy supports local Xtian charities which aren't directly anything to with us or NF.
Our Lead Elder does ask people if they are regular givers if he is bringing them into some form of leadership (small groups, youth work etc) but he doesn't know the figures.

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CSL1
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I was part of a U.S. church that converted from non-denominational to NF. I think I can speak to the contrast between the two approaches.

It was not a decision that rose up from the people, it was something the pastor soft-sold as a new "circle of friends" approach (this "circle of friends" jargon became something of a mantra, people in the church were within months saying it almost by rote). Pastor sold it along the lines of the people somehow having more power as we took down our rigid denominationally-influenced mindsets and got back to the First Century basics; NF was "just this group seeking to restore the original", that would "help us with resources and prayer support". Not a denomination at all. We had no idea what was about to happen--and shamefully, we didn't do much research--until the conversion to NF was a fait accompli.

First thing pastor set up a small group of elders--not chosen by the congregation and supplanting any leadership that had gone before, there was simply an elder's meeting announced for the new team and any existing leaders were not invited. One fellow, 60 year old father of the church type, when he confronted pastor about what happened to his eldership, was only told "We're moving a new direction" and said something about the directive coming from regional NF headquarters. Many of the new elders were very young, 20-somethings, all married, some quite new believers, but they were balanced out by a few of the older set, 40-somethings, who we thought would temper youthful passions. But within months they were all to a man removed, so far as I know, just as with previous leadership, no one was ever given an explanation, just one day you weren't invited to the elder's meeting. I was one of those 40-somethings who was removed. At a number of elder's meetings I'd raised objections to the complete takeover of the church by the pastor and a shadowy group of people a continent away, I was confronted almost always as follows: "But don't you trust me?" I told pastor "I trust no man, not even myself". Not long after I was removed from leadership, if you could call it that.

So with checks and balances removed, pastor had a team of about half a dozen men with a median age of maybe 26, most new or newer Christians, eager "Yes men".

Pastor then took over finances. Very quietly removed a person who in his day job functioned as CEO of a large non-profit organization. Pastor had no financial training. I only found out about this changing of the guard when a very young elder, a few years out of his teens, let the scheme slip in a conversation. When I confronted pastor in private about it, he admitted that regional NF HQ told him all finances must be "laid at feet of the apostles" per Acts 4, that he alone would now make financial decisions and that, also per NF directive, he would henceforth start checking into donation rates of members, that he wouldn't consider as valid anyone's opinion or anyone for any form of leadership who didn't give at least 10% to the church. Much of the church funds--thousands--started going towards sponsoring the leadership team and their families, all expenses paid so far as I know, to the National Conferences in St. Louis, this happened twice in the short time (months) that I continued attending under NF leadership.

Pastor then asserted his power from the pulpit. Hebrews 13:17 and the twist NF gives it came up repeatedly in sermons. We were told from pulpit that not everyone's opinion is equally valid here, but that we needed to "come under authority"--another catch phrase, along with "circle of friends", that came up repeatedly. He exhorted the young men of the church to start "getting in the faces" of these strange people in their midst with their strange ideas that ran counter to this maxim (presumably those of us who'd raised questions before being removed from leadership or brought up issues with pastor in public or private). At times he seemed to be dancing around the sanctioning of violence, or at least white glove thuggery where you destroy one's reputation by innuendo, which repeatedly occurred from pulpit.

The contradictions from the pulpit became impossible to take after the NF transition. They'd say A one minute, then non-A the next, then back to A, then back to non-A, and so forth, the record by my reckoning was 6 or 7 back and forth doctrinal contradictions in the same sermon. Wife and I'd look around to see if anyone else had a furrowed brow at this, some of the middle aged set usually did, a few of the youngers, but most would look

One thing that seldom came from the pulpit once the NF transition was complete was the name "Jesus". Wife and I started keeping track, at one stretch I believe 5 weeks went by without a mention (save for in the NF praise songs, which generally are good).

People didn't leave easily, when one young friend tried, they ambushed him, pastor and the members of the elder's team, and threated, among other things, to tell the pastor at his new church what an unsubmissive and rebellious young man he was.

The halmarks of NF, as I saw it take over my church, were:

1). Trust your leaders, come under their authority, we are a Hebrews 13:17-only church!
2). ...But they're not really your leaders, even though they're telling you how you should worship, believe, what you should do with your money, and how you should live your personal life, they are but one among a benign circle of friends.
3). Don't mind my contradictions, don't mind the want of Jesus in the sermons, "Trust Me".

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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
(old joke - "why is church like a helecopter? - because if you stand too close you get caught up in the rotas)

[Killing me] (a bit of light refreshment is much needed here!)

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"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

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Eutychus
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Welcome, CSL1. That all sounds sadly familiar and I think it shows what the likes of Ramarius and Twangist are up against.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
. I don't take a salary from any form of ministry now and would hesistate to do so again, but trying to fund even basic operations of a church that doesn't have centuries' worth of assets without preaching some form of tithing is definitely a challenge.

I appreciate that in many places even having a single building that is reasonably well looked after and one minister who is paid well enough that he can afford to raise a family can be a stretch - and a lot of the churches that are able to do this have had property handed down to them from a previous generation.

Part of the problem is that many NFI churches aspire to operate on a different scale all together. Taking their cue from the church growth movement, they see a large multi-purpose building, a calendar packed with programs and multiple staff working for the church as the only possible viable end goal.

So it's not surprising that the pressures to do this tends to dictate a lot of the praxis on tithing regardless of the actual teaching (which as you say manages to turn gospel into law). This happens even in the complete absence of any particular pastor trying to enrich themselves - which I'm guessing is very rare.

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Tubbs

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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
. I don't take a salary from any form of ministry now and would hesistate to do so again, but trying to fund even basic operations of a church that doesn't have centuries' worth of assets without preaching some form of tithing is definitely a challenge.

I appreciate that in many places even having a single building that is reasonably well looked after and one minister who is paid well enough that he can afford to raise a family can be a stretch - and a lot of the churches that are able to do this have had property handed down to them from a previous generation.

Part of the problem is that many NFI churches aspire to operate on a different scale all together. Taking their cue from the church growth movement, they see a large multi-purpose building, a calendar packed with programs and multiple staff working for the church as the only possible viable end goal.

So it's not surprising that the pressures to do this tends to dictate a lot of the praxis on tithing regardless of the actual teaching (which as you say manages to turn gospel into law). This happens even in the complete absence of any particular pastor trying to enrich themselves - which I'm guessing is very rare.

Most church groups have a set rate depending on experience etc and how much wiggle room there is to pay anything over and above that will depend entirely on the church. Larger ones are going to have more wiggle room over pay than smaller ones who may rely on central funds to help pay the stipend. Pastors are in the same boat as everyone else – the wage for the job is the wage for the job. Whether they can afford to live on that is another question entirely!

Rev T’s close family all go to NFI churches in different parts of the country. Both congregations have recently taken on purpose built premises or are just about too. With the best will in the world, those buildings are going eat up resources and need supporting. We’re talking congregations in the larger hundreds in these two instances. Large buildings need staffing, equipping, heating and lighting etc – which isn’t cheap. The building will have to justify its existence and support itself with community based programmes and outreach.

Tubbs

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Matt Black

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I would have thought, though, that given the typical numbers of an NFI congo, and their typical demographic (middle class upwards), that the funding of such buildings should not pose too much of an issue; I would have thought there would be fewer financial problems there than a struggling inner or outer city CofE gaffe trying to maintain a 19th century or older building with a couple of dozen or so active congregants.

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Arminian
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Eutychus you are restoring the NT church far more by not preaching tithing and not taking a salary than most of NF put together !

CLS1 that's interesting and very sad stuff. Might back up some of the odd things I saw happening at my old NF church. Seems to back up other horror stories I've read. How common is this ? They seem very good at hijacking existing fellowships, and importing their own 'preferred' management. This I regard as sinister !

Our fellowship originally began as a house church type set up. NF got involved and it grew and obtained a building. We got given an 'apostle' thousands of miles away. No discussion. Decisions on spending money, employing staff, were never made by the congregation, nor were selecting elders for training - who also happened to be 20's married males. Older members who had helped run other churches (non NF) were ignored ! All of a sudden the pastor started going off on endless foreign trips to conferences. The apostle turned up and several sermons followed about giving.

Double speak was aplenty. Here are some classics I remember :
We are not a denomination but a loose affiliation of churches. (However we have an apostle who is choosing your leaders. We are giving 10% back to NF HQ).

We don't tithe as this is law. But grace means we should be giving even more to the local church.

We are on a mission together. I'm the leader I choose the projects now go and do them !

God might curse those who are rebellious and don't give. We believe in a God who is loving and forgiving. We need to submit to the vision sacrificially and financially. We welcome all newcomers to our church, you don't have to put anything in the plate !

Its wrong to lord it over others. We are servant leaders. Obey your leaders or it is rebellion which is as bad as witchcraft (on NF website article - I kid you not !)

I believe this sort of stuff is actually a form of brainwashing. You make contradictory statements and try to use the 'wrath of God' to induce guilt for those who don't fall into line. Cults do the same thing. They seem to use it to shift ground to deflect criticism. It always has the effect of making those who criticize them feel guilty and out of step with the Bible. You have to be a mature believer with a good knowledge of scripture to stand up to it and realize the constant theological and historical howlers they make.

I should say that its a real shame. I do like a lot about NF and the people. Its the structure and some bad apples that are the problem. If they don't reform it has the potential for even worse spiritual abuse.

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Tubbs

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
I would have thought, though, that given the typical numbers of an NFI congo, and their typical demographic (middle class upwards), that the funding of such buildings should not pose too much of an issue; I would have thought there would be fewer financial problems there than a struggling inner or outer city CofE gaffe trying to maintain a 19th century or older building with a couple of dozen or so active congregants.

It'll be interesting to see where some of them are in a generation or so's time.

Tubbs

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Matt Black

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Well, indeed...

[ETA - I suppose to an extent it will depend on their success in keeping, catechising and training their children and young people.]

[ 19. June 2012, 15:56: Message edited by: Matt Black ]

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
quote:
Originally posted by Ramarius:
quote:
Originally posted by Twangist:
I don't recognise this tangent at all - I've never ever heared tithing preached in a NF church.
We are a grace movement (in theory).

So what * does* your church teach about giving? And when people ask the question 'should we tithe' what does the leadership of the church teach?
Church membership involves supporting the church with your prayers, your gifts (i.e. doing stuff, getting caught up in the rotas (old joke - "why is church like a helecopter? - becasue if you stand too close you get caught up in the rotas")) and your money.
Giving should involve faith, is connected to investing in the vision of the church and is part of your worship. (God owns everything anyway).
Joyless legalism (I've given my 10% cos that's want God wants) isn't encouraged!!
It's a 2 way thing as well - church funds have frequently been used to support members in financial need.
Our also church fincncialy supports local Xtian charities which aren't directly anything to with us or NF.
Our Lead Elder does ask people if they are regular givers if he is bringing them into some form of leadership (small groups, youth work etc) but he doesn't know the figures.

Pleasd to hear it - especially that your leader doesn't know how much people give. I've met leaders who make a point of finding out.

One specific you missed - when people ask the question 'should I tithe' what do you say?

@CSL 1 - sadly I've seen all these behaviours - impressionable young leaders, character assassination, and the 'we'll make it hard for you to join another church.' The last one is nothing short of spite. I too know a leader who adopted this tactic every time anyone left his church in a manner he didn't approve of. None of the 'importing' leaders took the blindest bit if notice.

Amusingly, I was given that line when I left an NF church. Within a month I had direct or indirect contact from no less than four other NF church leaders asking if I'd like a chat about joining their set up.

The odd bad apple is one thing - but with similar expereinces being shared across three continents it's hard not to conclude there's a problem in the gene pool.

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CSL1
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Arminian -

Yes, exactly, you brought some memories back. About 90% of what you related is exactly what I experienced, including the visit by the distant "apostle" that was then followed by a series of sermons on tithing. I believe we had four straight. The whole line about tithing being unbiblical also, but yet we were expected to give exceedingly. I'd thought that thing about tithing being unbiblical was the pastor's personal rebellion against NFI, had no idea it was just part of the same old strategy.

And to think that they all seemed so nice at first. Young, energetic people, lots of fellowship meals, nice home study groups (though oddly, we virtually never cracked a Bible if at all, just typically discussed the pastor's take on things from the previous Sunday or confessed sins (which I found out later were occasionally used against the flock to keep them in line). The pastor was an externally self-effacing fellow, had an endearingly bumbling personality. But once NFI stepped in, some flaws of his must have been exploited, because thereafter in private, if ever challenged, he became what I can only refer to as an unreasoning, yelling brute. Night-day compared to public persona. I was not the only one who experienced this--I spoke with him in private only after a small group of young men, none of them members of the elder's team, approached me and asked if I, as an older member, might be able to reason with him. At first, I thought they were being unreasonable themselves and didn't believe their stories--was I naive!

NFI seems nice until there's the slightest bit of inquiry or disagreement over their exotic interpretations of scripture and idiosyncratic views on church culture and polity, at which point--so long as it's private and the leaders know they have no particular reason to be nice--the mask comes off. It was a shock.

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Mark Betts

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Some of this stuff makes the "apostolic spheres" sound like the Gustapo!

"Are you paying your tithes?" (slap!)
"Answer me!" (slap!)
"Resistance is useless!" (slap!)

[ 19. June 2012, 20:20: Message edited by: Mark Betts ]

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"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

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Eutychus
From the edge
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Thank you for your informative contribution [Roll Eyes]

Although back in the day, I did at one point genuinely fear physical violence was imminent (see the sixth paragraph in this section of my story - this is the longer, older version, written not long after the events in question. But I still remember my feelings when I thought the guy was about to hit me).

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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CSL1
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# 17168

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Eutychus - Yes, the violence or veiled threats thereof... Once when engaging in small talk, no argument at all, with the pastor's right hand man on the elder's team ( a very stout, muscular fellow, I referred to him as the "enforcer"), we we laughing about pictures of ourselves back in high school, the long hair and all, and he said "You know, you have just the kind of face there that I used to like to smash in". Very odd comment, how do you take that?

Another bit of hinted violence occurred at a later date during my most contentious private meeting with pastor (who by the way, didn't technically refer to himself as "pastor", but "head elder", I don't know for sure if this is also a NF thing). When I questioned his belief that, per the NT and of course, NF, there must be a single head of the "local church" (evidently another favorite catch phrase), he first asked in a rather loud and angry voice whether I believed the Scriptures were authoritative, then he lunged across the table and grabbed me by the wrist, like he was ready to yank me out of my seat and have it out once-and-for-all, but he suddenly got a terrified look on his face (perhaps "What am I doing, what would be the consequences?") and let loose.

Those two incidents, coupled with his "Get in their faces" directive from the pulpit to the young men, made me very aware that violence might not have been out of the question if someone hung around long enough questioning their beliefs and refused to go quietly.

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CSL1
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# 17168

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quote:
Originally posted by Arminian:
I believe this sort of stuff is actually a form of brainwashing. You make contradictory statements and try to use the 'wrath of God' to induce guilt for those who don't fall into line. Cults do the same thing. They seem to use it to shift ground to deflect criticism.

That's my wife's theory, the brainwashing. It got hard to take, an exhausting Sunday listening to all the contradictions. The scripture twisting was actually easier to handle (you could that in a box and say "Well, he got that one wrong, that interpretation of Heb 13:17 turns Jesus' mandate in Matt 20 clean on its head" or the like), but the contradictions would really get you: "Didn't he just say the opposite?" You'd start questioning yourself, wondering if you were really hearing what thought you'd heard, your brain can go crazy trying to sort it out. You start questioning your sanity.
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Arminian
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# 16607

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Thankfully I never saw any threats of violence. I find it very scary that this may have gone on.

I suppose we were warned by Jesus to watch out for 'wolves in sheep's clothing'. Every denomination has them. Structures that lack proper accountability are potentially more at risk.

Wolves are hierarchical, obsessed with leadership, and constantly fighting for position in the pack. They intend to devour the sheep. However they look exactly like sheep on the outside.

I believe one reason for the double speak is that the motives are mixed. They can't get scripture to fit their agenda, so they take it out of context to try to make it justify an authoritarian controlling structure. The conflict is caused by knowing inwardly that something is wrong, but thinking that everyone in your peer group around you disagrees with you. By putting together contradictory statements it causes mental conflict and confusion. By adding the 'I'm right 'cause God anointed me' mantra it heaps guilt on anyone that tries to resolve that conflict by attempting rational thought. NF never encouraged me to do my own thinking or come to my own conclusions. I had to submit to them !

It took me the best part of a year to get free of this stuff to the extent that I can look at NF theology and laugh at it.

It is very difficult to leave NF without leaving God. My wife left and wouldn't go near a church for 10 years. We know of marriages that have disintegrated, people who have left the Christian faith, simply because in the minds of many who leave, NF is THE church. It takes a lot of time to separate NF and their erroneous theology from what is actually in the Bible. Believers tend to end up only knowing other NF members because of the many meetings during the week. That makes it even more difficult to leave.

If anyone in NF leadership reads this thread I ask you to take seriously some of these criticisms. Playing the 'I'm God's anointed so I must be right card' won't work with God. When Jesus warned believers not to cause others to stumble and loose their faith he was talking about spiritual abuse - the kind individuals within NF have been guilty of. Don't make the mistake of burying this stuff and not dealing honestly with it. You have a problem - deal with it. You need a structure that allows wolves to be identified and removed, that gives genuine accountability of leaders to the congregation, and please stop the double speak. Its called lying!

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Barnabas62
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# 9110

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quote:
Originally posted by Edward Green:
As a Priest I welcome disagreement and those who disagree onto our PCC's. I have heard other clergy say they have 'got rid of everyone who disagrees with them from the PCC' - even if said in jest it betrays an underlying attitude.

But then those second types of PCC's often seem to achieve more and sooner, rather than being bound up in debate and discussion, and that debate can in itself cause hurt and confusion. Which is the better path?

The first type of PCC, for Frank Herbert's reason. Avoiding divergent views and opinions may make business easier, but those divergent views may well be saying something both truthful and uncomfortable.

[ 20. June 2012, 09:43: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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