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This is exactly what the big tobacco companies have done. They have hidden for years the harmful effects of cigarette smoking and got people hooked by playing with the nicotine level of the cigarettes.
I think people should be protected from individuals who, like the tobacco companies, manipulate others. Such individuals shamefully use the Word of God for a self-serving agenda and with a divisive spirit. People should be protected from individuals that psychologically abuse other people by rendering them submissive, fearful and psychologically dependent.
This is the reason I have written this text. Having said that, after considerable study and personal experience I have come to believe that the ICoC is a religious group that uses deception in their recruitment, guilt and fear to retain and motivate members to behave in the way the leadership wants.
Finally, I believe that the leadership controls, for the most part, the informational, mental and psychological environment of most of their members. This is done, for the most part and for most of the leaders, from a real conviction that what they are doing is what God, as they understand Him from their particular way of interpreting the Bible, wants them to do.
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Most of the members are very sincere and want to love and serve God with all their heart. And I think that most of them are born-again Christians. However, that does not relieve them of responsibility for their actions, which are often psychologically abusive and very fanatical, i. One of the basic problem is that the leadership at the top, Kip McKean, the world sector leaders and most of the leaders under them, have the control and they are protecting their organization from changing from the bottom-up, i.
Of course, it is very rare that a group of members and lower leaders want to change things in the ICoC. But when it happens, the control exercised on the members by the more important leaders Kip McKean and the world sector leaders of the ICoC is undeniable.
I will talk about the Indianapolis incident later on and you will see what happens when a group of members and less important leaders proposes changes. After talking with a lot of members of the Montreal ICoC, I came to this conclusion: the average member does not necessarily hold the belief that their church is The Movement of God, nor that their church's doctrines on how to be saved or how to live the Christian life are the only valid and legitimate biblical truths.
Most members do not even ask questions about doctrine. For them, putting the Bible in practice is the most important thing. They do not understand that the way they interpret Bible doctrine affects the way they live their Christian life and the way they see other Christians and non-Christians. They do not make the connection between thought, or their particular way of interpreting the Bible and the actions that comes from that.
They do not question the "supposed" biblical teaching that they are getting from the leaders. The ICoC does not want the average member to really know and understand the implication of its beliefs about salvation and the other churches.
They know that their hard line doctrines are difficult to accept by the average member. They will not tell them what they really believe as long as they can. However, it is the average member's responsibility to examine everything and really and seriously study God's Word because they are individually responsible for their actions and words.
For most of them it is their first church that they are really involved in or their first church period. They like the dynamic preaching and the certainty the church provides about choices they have to make in their life. The mind control is done very subtly. There is a very good book by Mary Alice Chrnalogar - "Twisted Scriptures: a path to freedom from abusive churches".
It describes really well how you can control Christians by using the Bible and without them really knowing that they are not really free to choose what they feel God wants them to do or how He wants them to live. Of course, within the clear moral teachings of the Word of God.
It also talks a lot about the non-biblical conception of the discipling relationship and the danger of the abuse of power by the discipler in that relationship. Most of the members discover, as they go deeper in the organization, that the way they see the church changes.
Every time they start to ask questions, if they ever do, they learn that they are not welcomed by the leadership, and they start to think that something is wrong with them. They start to be less and less confident about discerning what is God's will and how to correctly interpret the Bible. Some choose to cave in or submit because of all sorts of reasons: self-interest, psychological needs, financial needs or real conviction that this is the way God wants it.
The discipling method is the way they keep members from talking with each other about the problems of the church. The member always has to talk to his or her discipler first, and after he does so, he is reprimanded for having doubts, questions or criticism.
The member never learns that other members may have the same concerns as he has, and thinks that it is himself that has the problem. I have tried to show you how I see the church in general and why I think it is more complex than most people want to admit and that things in life are never as black and white as some people would want us to believe.
I think we should try to understand, with compassion and love, why some people belong to the ICoC. I was a member once, and I should not judge too harshly. At the same time, we should denounce clearly unethical behaviours and unbiblical doctrines on the part of the leadership and, especially, Kip McKean. I definitely think that the ICoC is a religious group that fits the criteria used by Robert Jay Lifton to determine if a group uses mind control. I hope this text is not to disorganized or with too much spelling errors.
I tried to be as clear as I could, given that my mother tongue is French. To understand where I come from you have to know what was my first experience with a church that used guilt and fear to make members conform to a particular way of seeing and living the Christian faith. I was a member of a French evangelical Baptist church in Montreal for two years, between August and November During those two years, I experienced the joy of being a born-again Christian, being baptized and taking my first steps in the Christian faith.
But after one year of being an active member of that church, I began to feel that the pastor had too much influence on the decisions of the church and on the personal decisions the members were making about their private lives.
There was one pastor and three deacons for a congregation of members, but only one unquestionable leader - the pastor.
Also, the pastor used fear and guilt to get people to do what he said God wanted the church to do and how he wanted us to live the Christian life. The pastor seemed to know God's will for every member of the congregation and if you disagreed with him, your commitment to God and the church were put into question.
There was not a lot of grace in the church - it was legalism in a subtle form. It was always justified by the Bible, but as I learned latter on, Bible interpretation is not an exact science. There are rules that you have to follow to correctly interpret the Word of God, and even with those rules not every committed and spiritual Christian agrees on everything. At the end of the second year, the congregation learned that the pastor had an adulterous affair with a single woman in the church.
The church was then asked to make a decision about this situation. The minority, which I was part of, wanted the pastor to leave the ministry for at least one year and get counseling for that problem. We wanted a public repentance also. The majority was so dependent on the pastor and influenced by him that they just could not conceive of the church without him.
The majority carried the day and the minority could not accept the decision because of the obvious non-biblical way of treating this problem. I had to leave with the members who were part of the minority. I had given a lot physically, psychologically and financially to this church, and I was really frustrated that we were the ones who had to leave.
But that was nothing compared to the pain and sadness I felt about the fact that I thought I had made deep, strong and sincere friends whom I called brothers and sisters in Christ.
The ICC has strict standards of personal conduct, and regulates the dating lives and marriages of its members closely. Single members are expected to date on Saturday nights - the "Saturday Night Date" is an institution in the ICC. There are specific rules as to what behavior is permitted. Blind Dating at ICC. By Rachel Klein. The Studio at Illinois Central College is not only a place to find help when writing a paper, it offers fun ways to choose the next book to read! If you have ever considered going on a blind date, then this program is for you! Introduction. My name is Marc Malafarina and I was a member of the Montreal International Church of Christ (ICoC) from May until the 24th of March I am going to share here some of my thoughts about the ICoC on different subjects, like recruitment, discipling, dating etc., and try to be as clear and thorough as possible.
I was stunned to find out that those supposed friends were part of the majority who were talking about me, and the others who left, in an unflattering way.
They never called me once after I left the church. They believed the lies that the pastor was telling them about me and the others. They were completely controlled by the pastor.
If they had talked with me and listened to my side of the story, they would have felt disloyal to the pastor. He made them feel that way. I could not understand how my friends could drop me just like that. This heart wrenching experience contributed to make me loose my faith in God and the Christian Church, even if I knew deep down that God was not to blame.
It took me five years to start looking for another church. During the last three years, I started to study the cult phenomenon and the characteristics of the abusive church.
A book that helped me a lot to understand what I had experienced was Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth. I was slowly starting to trust God again, but I was still not going to a church regularly.
In January I decided to find a church that would be really committed to following the Bible and where the leaders were accountable to the church and most of all to the Bible. This time, however, I decided that if I ever found a church that I liked and that was biblical, I was going to go very slowly and ask a lot of questions before really getting involved.
As they say, "Once burned, twice shy". After visiting 10 to 15 different evangelical churches, and not feeling that God called me to anyone of them, I went to my first meeting of the Montreal ICoC in the middle of May For the remainder of the text, I will not share what happened to me during the ten months in the ICoC because I feel that it would be redundant and much too long.
My experience is so similar to all the biographies I have read about former members of the ICoC. I would rather talk about what I think of the ICoC on different subjects such as recruitment, dating, discipling etc I think that would be a different and better contribution. I hope this text will help actual members and former members understand what the ICoC really believes and how they operate.
From what I have observed during the ten months I was a member of the Montreal ICoC, the ways the church gets people to come to the meetings are varied and numerous. One of the key characteristics of a cult is deception during the recruitment process.
When you join the army or join a monastery, you know what to expect and you can ask any question you like before making a commitment to the group. If you ask difficult questions to answer, you are not perceived as arrogant or as having a problem with "trust" issues. They - the army or the monks - want you to know exactly what you're getting yourself into before you join them. They give you accurate information of what is expected of you and what their policies are on different subjects.
At least when you become a Jehovah witness it is very clear from the start that you join an organization that thinks they are the only ones that are truly saved. They do not dance around the question. I know this because I had a friend who joined that cult and they told him this right in the beginning, before he joined the church. The Montreal ICoC do not talk about that doctrine very much. They know it would scare people off.
They want to be attractive as a group and not be labeled as a cult. During the recruitment phase they give you only the information that they think you will be able to accept at that moment. They tell slightly different things to each recruit depending on what they can handle. In a non-cultic church you have meetings where all the people who want to become members of the church can come and ask any kind of questions about the church and with all the other future members being present.
When you do things that way, the leadership cannot answer a question one way to somebody and another way to somebody else depending on what they can handle. That is why you do not see those kinds of group meetings in the ICoC.
They only have leadership meetings. They certainly do not have informational meetings for people who entertain the thought of becoming members and where every question is completely answered, the detailed budget of the last year is gladly shown and their basic theology is clearly presented. The ICoC feels that there is nothing wrong with this way of doing things. They justify it by saying that you should not give meat to a child. You give him milk, and if he can digest it, you give him solid food.
But it's only a clever way of justifying the withholding of information that they deem not good for a young recruit to know or bother with. We can recognize the patronizing attitude that goes like this: "We know better than you what is good for you. Another way the ICoC deceives the recruit is when they invite strangers, friends or co-workers to an activity organized by the church for the main purpose of recruiting future members.
The problem is that they don't tell you it is organized by the church, and that most of the people present are members of the ICoC. You find out later on, if you become a member or if you ask questions, that the majority of the persons who were present in those innocent get-togethers were members of the church. The person who is invited thinks it is only an innocent gathering of friends for a special occasion or the celebration of a birthday. These social activities are organized for the main purpose of recruiting.
The members who are present at those social activities are strongly encouraged to go talk to non-members and shower them with attention and compliments. After a while, when you're at the receiving end of this attention and you notice they do that with all of the new recruits, you begin to wonder if they are sincere in their compliments. It seems more like a sales technique then anything else. They are selling the organization and what it can provide: friends not real friendship but a conditional one and group identity more like group conformity.
This way of doing things has been called " love bombing " by cult experts. This technique is very effective with people who are vulnerable and in need of affection and understanding during a difficult time in their life.
Most members have a somewhat sincere love for the persons they are trying to reach but they do not understand that the God of the Bible is the God of truth and that He completely hates deception and lies.
God wants his children to really and sincerely love every human being they encounter on this earth without considering their potential to become a member of the church or not. God's children should love unconditionally and always be frank, truthful, candid and always be ready to give as much accurate information as possible to anybody who asks questions about any cts of their church.
Again, they do not feel they deceive people when they do those things because the ultimate goal for the non-members is their eternal salvation. It's the "end justifies the means" mentality. That attitude is pervasive in the Montreal ICoC. I personally have been lied to and deceived at different times during my involvement in the Montreal ICoC. Also, I have seen and heard first hand the stories of many members who were recruited through the use of deception.
The pressure on the members to bring in new members is constant and great. Therefore, it is not surprising that most members hide information from recruits. They want to make sure that nothing drives them away from the church before they make a commitment to become a member through baptism.
Members are evaluated about their level of spirituality based on how many recruits they personally lead through the First Principles studies and into the waters of baptism.
The leadership of the ICoC is mostly responsible for that pervasive attitude in the church and they could change that if they really wanted to.
But the fact is, they do not see anything wrong with that attitude. Further, they will not let the members change the organization from the bottom-up. In the next section I will talk about the discipling mouse trap. As far as I am concerned, the discipling method used by the ICoC is what makes the whole organization work. It keeps the power of decision making in the hands of the leadership and keeps the members in a submissive state.
I have personally experienced the discipling relationship in the Montreal ICoC and I know what it means to be discipled. Therefore, I am confident that the information I am about to give you is accurate and that it represents what really goes on in the ICoC. The ICoC believes that the discipling relationship doctrine is based directly from the teachings of the Bible and particularly the Gospels.
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They believe that Jesus used the discipling method to teach His closest followers, His disciples. They also believe that the apostle Paul and the other leaders in the early church used that method to teach new Christians.
When you read the book by Gordon Ferguson, it is easy to understand why the ICoC considers this teaching to be essential to the success of the church. The goal of discipling is to train and transform God's children in order for them to become more mature and usable in the evangelization of the world for the glory of God.
After establishing the basic principles of discipleship, in p. I understand from this quote that, if I do not agree with Ferguson that discipling relationships as he understands them are absolutely needed for the evangelization of the world, I do not have a heart to obey God.
This is an arrogant attitude for a man that is supposed to be a humble servant of God. Wrongly judging the hearts of committed Christians who disagree with the ICoC on the absolute necessity of the discipling relationship as "reluctant to obey God" is clearly playing the role of ultimate Judge, which is reserved only to God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who will judge the hearts of his followers at the final judgemen,t when their works will pass through the fire. The ICoC has to have this arrogant attitude because it thinks it is the only church that correctly interpret God's Word.
It cannot accept the fact that equally or more committed Christians are doing God's will on earth and do not agree with its interpretation of the Bible on the subjects of discipling, baptism, authority in the church etc Following the lead of their leader, Kip McKean, the leaders of the ICoC have convinced themselves that they are the only ones who truly understand what the most important doctrines of God's Word are and how to correctly interpret them.
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That arrogant attitude always came up when I was not agreeing with my discipler about a decision or an interpretation of the Scriptures on basic subjects like submission and authority in the church. He always responded by saying that the interpretation is clear because it is right there in the Bible. He said that there is only one interpretation that is right and we cannot agree to disagree.
If I still did not agree with him, is first thought was that I must be in sin or I am not willing to obey God's Word. He could or would not accept the fact that I could be right and that maybe what he was taught what not quite right.
The ICoC cannot change its doctrines or policies unless it comes from the top leadership and it trickles down.
If you do not see the absolute necessity of being in a discipling relationship, as the ICoC defines it, you are seen has being prideful and faithless. Read this quote from page 65 of Ferguson's book:. We can clearly see from this quote that the ICoC considers those disciples who are humble and trusting to be a special delight for God. They put a derogatory meaning on the words "independence" and "pride. They cannot conceive of somebody being independent without being prideful, unsubmissive and distrustful.
For them, if you do not nearly completely trust your discipler and most of the time accept his advice, you are considered to be prideful, independent and distrustful of God's plan for your training. You have to distrust your own knowledge and intuition, even if it is knowledge of Scripture and God given intuition, to show that you have more faith in God's plan for your life.
Another statement concerning the extent of authority that leaders should have on the church and by extension that the discipler should have on the one being discipled is found on page of the same book:. These two conditions are often used in the ICoC to show that members will never be forced to do something against their conscience and forced to do something that violate Scripture.
But when you think about it, who decides if your appeal to conscience is sincere and biblically justified or just an excuse to do your own thing? The final decision still rests with the leadership or your discipler. The discipler should say to the one who is being discipled that he or she does not have to obey his or her instructions unless they are a biblical mandatenot that he or she has to obey unless it violates Scripture or their conscience. If the person who is being discipled accepts what the ICoC teaches, that person will feel undue pressure to accept most of the discipler's advice and instructions, even if that person feels it goes against its conscience.
Also, if they ask you to do something that for you is a violation of Scripture but not for them, which interpretation of the Word of God will be accepted as the right one? Certainly not the interpretation that contradicts the official one of the ICoC! These dilemmas have happened to me in the Montreal ICoC and my appeals to conscience were always seen as an excuse to do my own thing and demonstrating my lack of faith in the leadership. There is a great book that considers in depth the subjects of biblical discipleship, abusive discipleship, accountability, black and white thinking, control information and other authority issues.
It is written by a Christian who loves God and His Word. This book is available to order at her web site.
If you are a member or a former member of the ICoC, I highly recommend this book because it clearly shows how leaders can control members of churches in a way that are very subtle and without the member knowing that he is being controlled.
Dating in the ICoC is very different from dating in any other conservative Christian church. The ICoC believes that all the other Christian churches are very worldly and not pure in the area of sexuality.
They want to be radically different from the world and worldly churches. The Word of God says that God's children should only have sexual relations between man and woman and in the bond of marriage. This is what is taught in all the evangelical churches that I know. If a Christian persists in the sin of immorality he or she should be disciplined according to Mathew The difference between the evangelical church and the ICoC is that the ICoC will make sure, as much as possible, without physically controlling their members, that the disciples do not commit this sin.
For them it is so important that the church be pure on this subject. Therefore, they will set up guidelines, as they call them, so that man and woman in their church will not be put in a compromising and weak position so that they would fall into sin. And this is why they strongly recommend that when you go dating we were encouraged to date every Saturdayyou go on a double date or a group date.
They talk about the wisdom of that approach and they do not actually say that it is a sin to go on a single date. They know that it is not specifically prohibited by the Bible. But if the leadership of the church decides that we should, as a whole church, only go on double dates, because of problems with a couple of disciples who fell into sin and others who had bad marriages, what happens then?
I know what happens because I lived it. If you do not obey that man-made rule, imposed by the church leadership, you are in sin because you are not submitting to your leaders. This is where the leadership of the ICoC goes overboard. They do not have the right to take a man-made rule, even if it is partly defensible on a certain level, and make it like a commandment from the Lord.
I understand the wisdom of these guidelines. But if a member freely chooses, always according to the principles of Romans 14to go on a single date and be very discreet about it, the leadership should respect his or her right to exercise their freedom in Christ. They should not blast them for being rebellious, full of pride and unwilling to put the good of the church before their lustful desires. The leaders assume that those who want to go on single dates want to be free to sin or do things that are dangerous.
They always assume the worst of people - that is one of the ways they control them. And if you say that you will not take any chances and put yourselves in a dangerous situation i. That is what the Bible says - don't you believe the Bible? The ICoC leadership acts like parents in a family, usually with the best of intentions for the disciples in the church.
But if parents overprotect their children even out of a sincere, godly love and real concern for their welfarethey will end up crushing their spirit, their sincere enthusiasm, their sense of exploration, and their joy and love for life. And the leaders of the ICC certainly do not always act from such pure motives. I have seen personally the devastating effects, on the spirits of children and disciples of a controlling and overprotecting parent or leadership.
It is not a pretty sight. The child or the disciple becomes insecure, has no self-confidence, is scared of always doing the wrong thing, and is very sad that his or her parents or leaders have no faith in him or her to do the right thing. God does not treat His children like that. He gives us direction and wise advice on the things that are not completely clear or explicit in His Word and lets us go, trusting our individual judgement, to exercise our freedom with responsibility, maturity and discretion.
He - the all knowing God of the Bible - certainly understands that there is a risk that we will use this freedom to excess and fall into sin. But that is the only real way we will truly learn how to grow in maturity, discernment and wisdom.
God does not hold us in a prison to make sure we will not sin. Sometimes parents will act like controlling despots with their children to make sure that they will not be embarrassed by their actions.
This is also what ICoC leaders do to make sure that the image of the church is not tarnished and that it is what it should be, according to their interpretation of what God's church should look like or be like.
So what happens often times is that they will start imposing rules that are more and more strict or narrow, to make sure that the members of the church will not fall into sin and cause a scandal for the church. They feel that it is their responsibility to make sure God's church is pure and pleasing to Him.
This feeling is partly understandable, but it can easily interfere with the individual responsibility of each member to live a holy life according to their biblical interpretation of holy.
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To some disciples, going on a single date is playing with fire, but to another disciple it is perfectly holy. They just have to be wise about the choices they will make on that date. God does not ask that the leaders protect the reputation of His church by controlling the actions of the members through the implementation of strict rules of conduct.
We are not talking here about behaviours that are clearly spelled out in the Scriptures as being sinful, but about behaviours that are neutral.
What I am talking about is single dating, dancing, drinking a glass of wine, wearing certain type of clothing, eating different foods etc Person being prepared to replace Dhoni is serving water: Nehra slams team management over Pant snub.
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It is a pity, that now I can not express - it is very occupied. I will return - I will necessarily express the opinion on this question.16.12.2019|Reply