Multitudes of sincere and trusting believers are caught in the virtually invisible web of religious captivation in Charismatic and other Neo-Pentecostal churches, and don’t know it. They are unaware victims of spiritual abuse and exploitation under the heavy-hand of hyper-authoritarianism. That is to say, the leadership of the church-group of which they are a part is dominating, controlling, and manipulating their followers, and exploiting them for their own personal gain and private kingdom-building.
Horror stories of authoritarian abuse and exploitation and psychological enslavement in certified Christian churches abound. From time to time, particular isolated incidents have erupted in highly publicized news stories. However, those high-profile cases really are only the tip of the iceberg. The truth of the matter is, I know from my twenty years of ministry, ecclesiastical enslavement and exploitation is widespread in certain sectors of Christendom in this country. And, it is vital to understand, I am not talking about radical, fringe religious sects and cults, but well-respected church-groups espousing orthodox Christian beliefs, whose membership is comprised of a cross section of average Americans, individuals and families, of every race, education level, station, and walk of life.
Though religious predomination is certainly nothing new, and hyper-authoritarianism is by no means limited to the Neo-Pentecostal branch of the Church, it has, however, especially flourished in the Charismatic and so-called “second, third, and fourth wave” (i.e., Neo-Pentecostal) groups since it was infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of that branch of the Church in the early- to mid-seventies. Moreover, it is the Charismatic branch of which this ministry has been a part since its inception, which gives me not only the “right” but also the duty to bring reproof of error and errancy in that realm (2 Tim. 4:1-5, et al.).
This kind of “Charismatic captivation” is prevalent among Charismatic and other Neo-Pentecostal churches and groups primarily as a result of widely-taught and -accepted hyper-authoritarian doctrines and practices first introduced in the 70’s by an alliance of five ministers who rose to prominence, and spawned what became known as the “Discipleship/Shepherding Movement.” Those doctrines and practices remain an integral part of the governmental foundation of many churches and groups yet today.
This elite ministerial Quintumverate had somehow concluded that the newly-created and burgeoning branch of the Church generated by the Divinely-orchestrated Charismatic Movement birthed in 1960, was in disarray and needed to be “organized.” Somehow they also determined it was they God had appointed to accomplish the task of “organizing” the Charismatic church. The purportedly inspired and Bible-based organizational structure they advocated and eventually instituted was virtually identical to the modern pyramid marketing structure so popular and prevalent today. The “Fab Five” placed themselves at the top of the pyramid of interrelated Charismatic leaders, which quickly expanded into a “down-line” of thousands of “submitted” ministers.
In the mid-seventies the entire matter of this “movement” erupted into a highly-publicized international controversy. The result of the maelstrom was that the relevant doctrines and practices were repudiated and denounced by many well-known church-leaders, and the ministers who invented and promulgated them fell into disrepute.
However, despite the controversy and the public chastisement, those ministers and their followers initially remained unbowed and undeterred. They defended themselves, as well as the hyper-authoritarian teachings and practices and philosophies of church-government they advocated. For many years afterward, they continued to teach those patently false and unscriptural doctrines, and to develop what came to be an expansive multi-level “network” of ministers and churches. Though, it was now done less overtly, and there was a concerted and deliberate effort to take the whole matter underground to lessen as much as possible the negative effects of the controversy and to give the appearance of repentance.
The unfortunate consequence of that move toward covertness and esotericism was that instead of being eradicated, those patently false doctrines and Scripturally-prohibited practices were infused into the very fabric and foundation of the Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostal Church at-large, and are still espoused and practiced by many churches and groups in operation today. This stems partly from the fact that many of those ministries are headed by leaders who were a part of that network, and adopted or adapted many of the doctrines and governmental philosophies advocated by its principals.
Many church-leaders themselves do not realize their leadership methodology is actually a hybrid form of hyper-authoritarianism, and amounts to domination and control. The proper role of human under-shepherds is to lead people to the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and teach them how to be His followers, in submission to Him and His authority. Hyper-authoritarian leaders, instead, lead people to themselves, and indoctrinate them to be their followers, in total submission to them and their authority.
The mechanisms of psychological manipulation, domination, and control employed in these groups are virtually identical, to those employed by certified cults. Indeed, the stark truth is that many of the groups and churches who employ these techniques and mechanisms are themselves at the very minimum quasi-cults, and in some cases, bona fide cults.
So what are the consequences and effects we are talking about here, a scant few slightly disillusioned people with their feelings a little hurt? FAR FROM IT! We are talking about an immense number of broken and destroyed families, marriages, and friendships, multitudes of unpretentious, formerly trusting people who are now psychologically traumatized and marred, and spiritually shipwrecked, potentially for life. Added to that are substantial numbers of failed businesses, bankruptcies, lost fortunes, nervous breakdowns, contracted health maladies, suicides, and premature deaths by various related causes, and the like, just to name some of the consequences experienced by victims. Indeed, the details of the havoc and decimation wreaked upon victims’ lives is far too extensive and, frankly, morose to possibly be able to relate here, but suffice it to say it is sweeping, mind-boggling, and, sadly, in some cases, barring the miraculous, irreversible.
If you would you like to know more about this matter of spiritual abuse in the church, I have written a book, entitled, Charismatic Captivation, that has already been read by thousands of people as a source to help them understand the “schemes of the devil” and how he is able to gain control over their lives and severely limit their power over him.
Charismatic Captivation answers scores of the most frequently asked questions people have this matter, including the signs and symptoms of spiritual abuse, and the steps victims of this dastardly scheme of Satan need to take in order to recover from the psychological and spiritual damage they experience. I have published an entire page on what the book contains which I urge you to read right away. And, perhaps, the best news is that the book is available in E-book form for IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD.
Click here to discover what’s inside this amazing and anointed book that is setting the captives free!
There’s also a new book I wrote, Dunamis! Power From On High!, that is all about the mighty power available to every believer through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
All my books are available in print, epub, and ebook form, and are listed on the Real Truth Publications Website.
Dr. Steven Lambert was ordained in 1977 and holds several earned graduate/post-graduate degrees. Over more than four decades in ministry, he has served as a pastor, radio/TV host, adjunct-professor, Board Certified Doctoral Diplomate Christian Therapist/Counselor, and a speaker/commentator on a range of social, political, and theological issues, particularly as a recognized authority on the matter of ecclesiastical authoritarian abuse. He is the founder/Overseer of Ephesians Four Network (ephesiansfour.net) and its subsidiary, Ephesians Four Network of Deliverance Counselors (efndc.ephesiansfour.net). Dr. Lambert authored several books (catalog at realtruthpublications.com), many published articles, and is the founder/editor of Spirit Life Magazine (spiritlifemag.com). His bio, extensive blog, and scheduling information are available on his ministry website at: http://www.slm.org. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Thanks for reading this article! If you enjoy the spiritually enriching articles on Spirit Life Magazine, please sign up to receive new articles via email immediately when they are posted simply by entering your email address in the "Articles Via Email" widget located on this page toward the top of the right-sidebar. Just below that widget is another widget—"Newsletter Sign-up"—you can use to subscribe to our newsletter we send out periodically to inform you of all our new articles and occasionally other information as well. Please know that we do not bombard your inbox with emails, and we hate SPAM just as much as you do, thus we will never sell/share your contact info with anyone else—rest assured it's safe with us! We hope you will subscribe to both lists because it's by far the easiest, fastest, and surest way to notify you of new posts. Thank you!
Spirit Life Magazine does not necessarily agree with the totality of the opinions, beliefs or philosophies of the authors of articles posted on the website, nor does the posting of articles represent an endorsement of authors other than our own authors/editors. Spirit Life Magazine is a publication of Real Truth Publications.
If you enjoyed this or any of the articles on Spirit Life Magazine, please click on the PayPal® Donate Button below to make a donation to help us with the costs of maintaining this online magazine. A PayPal® account is not required to use the PayPal® gateway, you can pay with debit/credit card or an e-Check from your bank. It's fast and secure! Thank you!