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Tag Archives: spiritual abuse

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For nearly forty years now, I have been doing all I possibly can to teach, preach, and warn believers about the prevalent problem of authoritarian abuse in the church-realm at large and in Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal streams in particular. I’ve preached sermons, published audios of sermons, written scores and scores of articles, authored and published books, conducted teaching seminars, counseled hundreds of victims, and basically talked to everyone about this dastardly device of the devil who would listen (or pretend to) for five minutes about it over the span of four decades. I wish I could report (if for no one else’s edification than my own) that there is evidence that my efforts have had a powerful impact or made strong inroads into combating this insidious and spiritually decimating activity of the kingdom of darkness in the collective church as well as in individual believer’s lives. I really do. But, sadly, I cannot.

Oh, hundreds of the thousands who have obtained (can’t say “read,” because the publishing industry’s own research indicates that less than 20% of all books purchased are read by their purchasers and less than half of that number read entirely) the two books I authored on the subject so far in their various published formats (print, ebook [PDF], epub, Kindle, Nook) — Charismatic Captivation and Charismatic Control — have corresponded via some medium to tell me how the books helped to them, and some that it most literally “saved” them from the destructive effects of victimization of authoritarian abuse upon their life. How could that not be extremely encouraging and edifying? After all, that was the primary motivation for spending three and half years writing the book (I guess I’m a slow writer).

Certainly, I’m grateful and exceedingly humbled that God would chose to use me and my paltry efforts to actually help someone with regard to their spiritual life, psychological being, and relationship with the Lord. Though the negative “cost” upon my own life and ministry for my has been extreme, in some aspects excruciating, and at times, from an earthly perspective, seemingly excessive, yet such temporal and transient afflictions are superseded by the real assurance that beyond the fleeting vapor of this mortal segment of life rewards — substantial and significant rewards — await. It is for those “joys of the master” that we toil, enduring the hardships inuring from our labors of evangelism and fulfilling our ministry callings (2 Tim. 4:5). Continue reading “Identifying Hyper-authoritarian Doctrines and Practices” »

Multitudes of sincere and trusting believers are caught in the virtually invisible web of religious captivation in the churches they attend, the ministries they are under, and the networks they are aligned with…and don’t know it!

These faithful followers of Christ are unaware victims of spiritual abuse, psychological enslavement, and exploitation perpetrated 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, manipulating, and exploiting their followers for their own personal gain and private kingdom-building.

Through systematic indoctrination, victims have been duped into accepting as biblical and beneficial the oppressive and abusive predominance imposed upon them by unscrupulous, tyrannical church-leaders.

Without realizing the spiritual effect of what they are doing, myriads of sincere and faithful followers of Christ, in submitting themselves and surrendering their God-given right to self-governance or personal autonomy unto their spiritual leaders, have become “slaves of men” in blatant violation of God’s explicit warning against that very thing: “DO NOT BECOME SLAVES OF MEN!” (1 Cor. 7:23). Continue reading “Recovering From Authoritarian Abuse” »

charismatic faux worshipAre you one of the many loyal and sincere church members who faithfully and cheerfully attend, support and participate in a local church, but have a nagging, persistent inward “thought” that “something is just not right here?”

Then, you begin realizing, somehow, somewhere along the line you began losing your joy, your zeal for the Lord. It used to be you could hardly wait for the services and to be involved; now it is drudgery to go at all. You used to have such a light and blissful feeling as you worshiped the Lord in the services; now you just go through the motions, feeling heavy, staring placidly toward the platform, sometimes wishing you were somewhere else. You used to be able to “look past” the leaders, and focus only on the Lord; now, all you see during the service is people, people behind the pulpit, people on the platform, and people in the pews. You used to feel God’s love and pleasure with you; now it seems all you feel is unworthiness, guilt, and that nothing you do is ever enough or pleasing to Him.

“What on earth has happened to me? What’s wrong with me?” you ask yourself. “Is it just me?” Then, you begin to look around the room and study other long-time members. You compare how they are now to how they were when they first came. Is their life, as it should be, appreciably better, or have they and their family experienced an inordinate share of tragedies, seemingly inexplicable difficulties, and reversals? By and by, you begin to realize that many of the other members have lost their “first love” too, their zeal, their enthusiasm, their joy in serving the Lord, and that, though Christians, like everyone else, certainly experience adversity, many of these members’ lives have been on a gradual, downward spiral, instead of advancement and blessing. Continue reading “33 Signs of Spiritual Abuse” »

Contrasting Healthy and Unhealthy Churches
By Joseph Mattera

As a leader who has been the senior pastor of a local church in a major urban context, I have observed a fine line between what many deem healthy and unhealthy churches.

I define a healthy church as one that is relationally functional regarding its top leaders (elders, deacons, trustees, pastors and ministers) and its regular attendees and membership. Also, a healthy church has organic growth based on a balance of outreach and in-reach, or pastoral and evangelistic ministry, as well as discipleship and organizational systems that perpetuate the vision of the church.

The challenge of differentiating between healthy and unhealthy churches is that much of Christendom has adopted outcomes and methodologies that conform to a worldly standard for what we define as success for any enterprise. Continue reading “Healthy vs. Unhealthy Churches” »

There is no matter more central and critical to spiritual knowledge and understand­ing than the matter of authority. That fact becomes even more apparent when one considers that the very term “Kingdom of God” actually connotes the Domain, Authority, or Government of God (cf., Rev. 12:10). The word, “kingdom,” in fact, is a compound word composed of two derivatives, king and domain, thus it connotes the domain of a king—in this case, the Kingdom of God or Christ. One cannot even begin to have a proper understanding of the realm of the Kingdom of God as well as the genuine Gospel of the Kingdom, which the Gospel writers expressly indicated Jesus preached during His fleshly ministry, without having an understanding of the matter of authority. Continue reading “Examining Biblical Authority” »

[Editor’s note: This article is adapted from the book, CHARISMATIC CAPTIVATION, by Dr. Steven Lambert, himself a Charismatic minister. The book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse in Neo-Pentecostal church-groups, and explains how it became infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church, emerging out of a false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). References to “Discipleship” or “Shepherding” (and variables) doctrines, teachings, proponents and participants, and so forth, allude to those pertinences that arose out of that movement. The content of this article is contextual to the entirety of the book, and is best understood by reading the book. A small portion of the book’s content is published in the posted articles listed and linked at the end of this article.
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This post is a continuation of the previous post, which you should read to understand the context.

The adulterated concept of “spiritual covering” itself is problematic enough. Yet, its negative effect is increased by the fact that it is the predicate for several other, related elements of error comprising the heretical Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines and practices, one of which is the matter of “personal pastors.” Indeed, this element has been the basis for at least as much excess, errancy, and authoritarian abuse as the others discussed in this series of articles concerning those doctrines and practices. To those who employ these practices for sordid purposes or with less than pure motives, the perverted concept of “spiritual covering” is sanction for a most insidious kind of unauthorized personal domination and control of their subjects under the auspices of this very delusive and destructive version of “personal shepherding.” Continue reading “The Fallacy of Personal Pastors (Part 2)” »

[Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from the book, CHARISMATIC CAPTIVATION, by Steven Lambert. The book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse in Neo-Pentecostal church-groups, and explains how it became infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church arising out of a false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). References to “Discipleship” or “Shepherding” (and variables) doctrines, teachings, proponents and participants, and so forth, allude to those pertinences that arose out of that movement. The content of this article is contextual to the entirety of the book, and is best understood by reading the book. A small portion of the book’s content is published in the posted articles listed and linked at the end of this article.]
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The adulterated concept of “spiritual covering” itself is problematic enough (for more on that subject, read the previous two posts). Yet, its negative effect is increased by the fact that it is the predicate for several other, related elements of error comprising the heretical Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines and practices, one of which is the matter of “personal pastors.” Indeed, this element has been the basis for at least as much excess, errancy, and authoritarian abuse as the others discussed in this series of articles concerning those doctrines and practices. To those who employ these practices for sordid purposes or with less than pure motives, the perverted concept of “spiritual covering” is license for a most insidious kind of unauthorized personal domination and control of their subjects under the auspices of this very delusive and destructive version of “personal shepherding.” Continue reading “The Fallacy of Personal Pastors (Part 1)” »

[Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from the book, CHARISMATIC CAPTIVATION. The book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse in Neo-Pentecostal church-groups, and explains how it became infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church arising out of a false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). References to “Discipleship” or “Shepherding” (and variables) doctrines, teachings, proponents and participants, and so forth, allude to those pertinences that arose out of that “movement.” The content of this article is contextual to the entirety of the book, and is best understood by reading the book. A small portion of the book’s content is published in the posted articles listed and linked at the end of this article.]

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in MY WORD, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will make you FREE.” (John 8:31,32; NASB)

It was for FREEDOM that Christ set us FREE; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a YOKE OF SLAVERY. (Galatians 5:1; NASB)

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of Me; and that COVER with A COVERING, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into EGYPT [symbol of captivity in Scripture], and have not asked at My mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh [symbol of Satan and autocratic dictators in Scripture], and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your CONFUSION. For his princes were at Zoan [aka, Goshen, where Pharaoh met with Moses and Aaron; Easton’s Bible Dictionary], and his ambassadors came to Hanes. They were all ashamed of a people that could not PROFIT them, nor be an help nor PROFIT, but a shame, and also a reproach. (Isaiah 30:1-5; KJV; emphases and parentheses added)

The second primary conceptual error on which the heretical hyper-authoritarian Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines are established, is the matter of “spiritual covering.” Indeed, so-called “spiritual covering” is the very centerpiece of these wholly unbiblical teachings and the authoritarian abuse they engender, which is absolutely endemic in Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal (Charismatic, “third wave,” and New Apostolic Reformation) sects. Over the course of the 20th Century it became institutionally infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of these groups, meaning in their protodenomination and network organizations. Virtually none of those in existence today are free from the influence and attitudes of domination and control over their adherents. It is witchcraft of the highest order for the basest of motivations—mammon—the love of money and self-aggrandizement. Continue reading “The Myth of Spiritual Covering (Part 1)” »

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.

Check out the book from which this article is excerpted, Charismatic Control!

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.

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 more than thirty 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 1970s 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. Continue reading “Charismatic Captivation” »