Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Walking Down the Christian Memory Lane

For the past three days, we’ve had the luxury of playing host to some long, lost friends. Actually it is the associate pastor and his wife (Keith and Linda) from the very first church that Denise and I attended way back in 1982. We were there for about five years.

Anytime you run into old friends, and have the time to discuss things, the conversation often moves to the “where are they now” segment. We had our segment yesterday while riding the ferry across Puget Sound. Keith and Linda are a great resource because they do keep up to date on many people we haven’t spoken to in 25 years.

This conversation was also a time-warp in another way. I would say, in a loving way, that Keith and Linda are probably still Evangelicals and they knew me when I was an Evangelical (compared to what I am now, somewhat as a "post-evangelical"). So this long and fun conversation with them (although there were some sad things too) was like a sampling of a previous life.

When I was in an intensive Navigator training center, in the late 70s, we were warned about the “isms” that many Christians can fall into. I think Dawson Trotman (the founder of The Navigators back in the 40s) coined this concept of being weary of the “isms.”

In summary, as we looked over the lives of about twenty of our old Evangelical friends, none of them were taken in by the “isms.” To define what we mean by “isms” is Mormonism, Jehovah Wittiness-ism, Buddhism, Communism and etc.

Several of our dear-old friends are not doing well, but it wasn't because of some ism. No, they were taken in by Evangelical Swindlers (con men). So, I think this does reveal a paradigm shift from the 1940s until the twenty-first century, where the danger is from within (Evangelicalism). I will have to share a few of the stories.

A & D, were great Christian friends of ours. They were frankly wonderful people and we loved them dearly. It appears that a Christian psychologist came to town (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and set up shop. He was very convincing about his approach to counseling. He was part of the “Repressed Memory” movement of the 80s and 90s. Besides seeing clients in his office, he did “marriage-enrichment” seminars in several churches and was very popular among evangelicals. A & D met him through our old church.

This psychologist seemed to have convinced “D” (the wife) that she needed more help. He persuaded her through his gift of “spiritual discernment” and maybe hypnosis that she had been sexually abused by a family member as a little girl. D had no memory of this, but that’s how this game is played. The “Christian” psychologist convinced her that it was true and that he could help her.

To make a long story, short (and to be rather direct) the jerk ran off together destroying this beautiful family.

Another movement that sweep through the church was an entire phenomenon with home "Bible study" groups about “Deliverance.” To read more, I suggest this great article by a group of Lutherans.

Several dear, old Christian friends, were convinced that they had some time of spiritual oppression because of something someone did in their families decades or even centuries ago. Several people were hurt by this crap.

I could go on to tell many other stories of spiritual abuse and damage that has occurred to our old Christian friends, both those from Michigan and other friends that we've known in other places, by the likes these groups or of Bill Gothard, or MLM Christian supplement "cures," or “God-inspired” weight-loss and health fads.

So it wasn’t the obvious “isms” that got these dear friends, it was the faddish, nut-jobs within the Church.

I, too used to be very involved with Bill Gothard, helping as an “Associate” at one of his “Basic Youth Conflict” seminars. He is a nut job. If you don’t believe me, watch this You Tube sound bite. In summary he says that all mental illness is the result of personal irresponsibility. That proves that he is an idiot, and a very dangerous one at that.

More to come . . .


terri said...

Several dear, old Christian friends, were convinced that they had some time of spiritual oppression because of something someone did in their families decades or even centuries ago. Several people were hurt by this crap.

UGH....this deliverance/spiritual oppression teaching tore our church in two and caused our family to leave our church home of 6 years. We are still recovering from the traumatic damage of having to abandon a church that we loved so dearly because the pastor had so deeply aligned himself with this. Marriage broke up, people disfellowshipped. It was truly awful and a scourge.

Hard to hear it's happening elsewhere.

terri said...

opps.."marriages"...not mine personally.

MJ said...

Some people suggest that I should not be such a critic. Really, if you knew me, you would know how much I really do enjoy life and the world that God has made for us, and the godliness that he has bestoyed on us in Christ.

The reason that I am a critic is this very thing . . . I don't like to see people getting hurt (like these couples). So I speak out harshly on this Evangelical nonsense that leaves a trail of hurt people in its wake. The craziness is not victim-less.

Sorry about the couples in your church