Ex Church of Christ support group

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Spiritual Abuse

1) a religion that leaves you feeling discouraged and trapped. 

  • Judgment and Criticism: In the exclusive, hard-line Church of Christ I was trained to criticize and find fault. All other churches were wrong. Ask enough questions to find the wrong doctrine and then zero in on their false doctrine. Ruin every friendship and relationship. Criticism became automatic. Get married and criticize and fault-find--it was a religious feeling, the feeling of being self-righteous. They were wrong and I was right. Lonely, but righteous. The criticizing came back to bite me in the butt. I criticized myself, constantly, into the ground.

  • Authoritarianism: People who have left authoritarian churches often exhibit the same symptoms as people who have grown up asAdult Children of Alcoholics.

    The reason there are so many similarities is because authoritarian churches encourage rigid black-and-white thinking. This produces a lack of patience in its members. (This is not to say that there aren't also problems in non-authoritarian churches as well, but they are of a different sort. Authoritarian is very different from authoritative.)

    Authoritarians encourage a feeling of oneness and unity that is wonderful at first. No bickering, no fighting, everyone believes the same. Until you realize that it is what M. Scott Peck calls pseudocommunity.

    If you think your church might be authoritarian, look at this checklist. Authoritarians have:

  • rigid categories of thought,

  • don't like disagreement,

  • don't like batting around an unfamiliar idea,

  • don't like negotiating,

  • have stereotyped attitudes toward race groups and political parties,

  • are boot-lickers to those above them in the hierarchy,

  • competitive with their equals

  • and often mean to those lower on the hierarchy ladder.

  • They are typically very obedient to authority,

  • while at the same time very suspicious of authority.

  • Huge interest in Sex, because Sex is dangerous.
     

  • Isolation: Members of churches that believe they are the only ones who have the truth, generally throw suspicion on other groups. I have been a member of congregations whose main diet in sermons and Bible studies was how wrong other churches were.

    When encouraged to evangelize, evangelism consists of telling people from other churches how wrong they are. This results in almost no friends outside of the group. In fact Barna Research has found that after 5 years of church attendance as a new convert, the average Christian (of any stripe) has no non-Christian friends (but I can't find where I found that research).

    When someone leaves a cult one has been converted to as a teenager, one gets one's family back. When one leaves a sect one has been raised in, one loses one's family. Thus the need for this website.

    The apostle Peter was showing a new person around heaven when he came across a sign that read "Silence" and a door marked "No Entry". "What's in there?" the new person whispered. "Oh, that's for the Church of Christ," Peter replied. "They think they're the only ones here."
     
  • The Bible:  When the Bible and "Church" have been used to instill so much guilt and criticism, often people who leave don't want anything to do with churches, Bible studies, prayer or even God.

    We have heard Jehovah's Witnesses condemned for redefining biblical terms. But what if the Bible teaches something totally different to what the conservative hard-line Churches of Christ believe? What if Bible words have been redefined in these Churches of Christ to mean something they were never intended to mean?

    If Jesus were here he would hang out with the sinners and rebuke those Churches of Christ the same way he rebuked the Pharisees. Reading the gospels can be an amazing experience for someone just coming out of the Churches of Christ. Every time you come to the word "Pharisees" replace it with the words "Churches of Christ". Your heart may leap with recognition at Jesus' words of rebuke.

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The entire books of Romans and Hebrews were written so that people would know they are completely and absolutely forgiven, saved and going to heaven.

"Guilt was the only holy feeling."


See also The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church (1991) by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen.

For a website on the Victim-Rescuer-Persecuter Triangleclick here.

Authoritarians encourage a feeling of oneness and unity that is wonderful at first. No bickering, no fighting, everyone believes the same. Until you realize that it is what M. Scott Peck calls pseudocommunity.

When someone leaves a cult one has been converted to as a teenager, one gets one's family back. When one leaves a sect one has been raised in, one loses one's family.

To talk to other people in similar situations, go to our Bulletin Board.

What if Bible words have been redefined in these Churches of Christ to mean something they were never intended to mean?

Click here for a list of what we believe are Unbiblical Doctrines in the more conservative Churches of Christ.