Ex Church of Christ support group

Home  *  Website Purpose  *  History  * UnBiblical Teachings  *  Spiritual Abuse
   Black & White Thinking  * Personalities *
 Stages of Faith  *  Recovery  *  Support Group

Jesus'  View of God  *  Faith & Works  *  New Covenant  *  The Pattern  * Romans 14
False Doctrine  * Five Acts  * Music  * Legalism  * Pharisees  *  Prooftexting  *  Divorce
Bibliography  *  Resources  * FAQs  Dialog  * Contact


Black and WhiteThinking


(About 20% of Churches of Christ are authoritarian.)

After World War II the American public was horrified to find out about the Nazi holocaust. They wanted as much information as they could find about how people could become as heartless as during the war.

Some researchers found that under certain situations the majority of people were willing to become quite cruel (see Miller and Zimbardo).

A group of psychologists (called the Frankfurt Group) at the University of Berkeley, California (many of them expatriate German Jews) decided to study the type of personality prejudiced against Jews and other racial groups, and that might be likely to join the Nazi party.

They quickly found they were studying the topic of authoritarianism.*

This group of psychologists interviewed as many volunteers as possible and divided them by how prejudiced they were against racial minorities. Then they took two subgroups: the ones who were extremely prejudiced and the ones who were the least prejudiced. Then they asked these two extreme groups many questions, trying to figure out what other differences the two groups had. They eventually came up with the California F scale (F stood for Fascist).

They found the two groups differed on these main personality traits:

1. Black and White thinking. The authoritarian is intolerant of ambiguity. He or she cannot tolerate gray areas or undecided areas. Everything must be clear, cut and dried.

2. Slavish obedience to authority figures. Extremely respectful, even afraid of the boss at work, or the elders at church.

3.Suspicious of authority figures. Even though they are extremely respectful or afraid of the boss at work, they do not trust the boss. They are more likely than others to believe that all politicians and CEOs are corrupt.

4.Competitive with peers. If an authoritarian sees himself as an equal to someone else, he will compete with that person to get the boss's attention, or to get a promotion. They do not work collaboratively.

5.Harsh on people below. If an authoritarian is in charge of someone else, he will be harsh with that person to get them to obey. They believe in obedience out of fear.

6. Projection. Authoritarians do not like to admit mistakes. In fact they have difficulty seeing their own mistakes. They accuse others of having the mistakes they cannot see in themselves.

7. Suspicion of Outgroups. Blind loyalty to one's own group. Suspicion and demonization of out-groups.

8.Fear of Sex and fascination with Sex. Sex is a much bigger issue for authoritarians than for other people.

9. Interest in Power, Control and Toughness.

As you can see this is not a pleasant way to experience life. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for picking specks of sawdust of their brothers' eyes when they had planks in their own eyes.

The hard-line Churches of Christ (about 20% of Churches of Christ as a whole) meet the criteria for authoritarian.

1. Their insistence on a blueprint for every item in the worship service (Sunday morning assembly), for every office-holder in the congregation, and for every work the church engages in. Many members have told me that going outside the blueprint is "spitting in the face of God."

2. Their attitude of "to be safe" we cannot have instruments of music, denominational hierarchy, must take the Lord's Supper every Sunday, etc. because to do otherwise might upset God. We don't know if instrumental music is pleasing to God in the New Testament, therefore to be safe, in the absence of a clear command, we are to imitate exactly what the early church did.

3. Their view of God as bad-tempered and not very accommodating in telling us what He wants, but making us search for the blueprint rules in a history of the early church in the book of Acts. This is evidenced by their constant references to the disobedience and deaths of Nadab and Abihu, Uzzah, the Israelites in the wilderness, etc.

4. Almost every Sunday the competing denominations are mentioned for all of their disobedience to God, as if they are in competition with them.

5. The practice of withdrawal [of fellowship] is used to keep people attending, obeying the elders, etc. (I Cor. 5 and other passages are used to justify this practice.)

6. They accuse others of being dishonest and cannot see the inconsistencies of their own doctrines.

7. All other baptisms outside the Churches of Christ are condemned as not saving baptisms.

8. Dancing, swimming and R-rated movies are banned, even though these rules have not been found to significantly lower the rate of fornication among members in the congregations.

9. Parenting issues center around extreme obedience from the children. Congregational obedience to the elders is emphasized. Coercion is used to get members to attend and obey.

Other Personalities in Sectarian Churches

Next Page




* Authoritarian: harsh leadership based on fear.

 Authoritative: flexible and collaborative leadership with high expectations, warmth and listening, and reasonable consequences.

Most people think the two terms "authoritarian" and "authoritative" mean the same thing, but they are actually opposites. The easiest way to remember the difference is that the word authoritarian contains the sound "tear" which is bad. And the word authoritative contains the sound "tate" which sounds like "tater" which, of course, is good!



Some people have theorized that the California F Scale actually is a measure for personality disorder or character disorder. For a website critical of the California F Scale click here.

Character Disorders:

Narcissistic Personality: Loses temper, insists on having own way, brags

Obsessive Personality: The rules are far more important than relationship, critical, complaining, stingy

Histrionic Personality: Sexy, dramatic, demanding, needs constant affirmation.

Borderline Personality: Impulsive, suicidal, demanding, manipulative, hot and cold

Avoidant: A loner




Some people see the churches of Christ teaching a black and white attitude toward divorce and remarriage that Jesus did not teach.

Other items found in authoritarians.

The Rick A. Ross Institute lists symptoms of abusive groups.



For a website on the Victim-Rescuer-Persecuter Triangle click here.




Ceramic sign in the
Royal Palace of Seville, Spain