Maranatha Campus Ministries Revisited – A Relaunched Website

"Maranatha came to the attention of cult-watching organizations in 1981. Inquiries were coming in from parents worried that their children had unwittingly become part of a cult. They reported that their sons and daughters had undergone radical personality changes. Typically, their grades were failing, and they were giving Maranatha large sums of money that had been earmarked for education. Some were refusing medical and dental treatment, believing it demonstrated a lack of faith. Members told parents who questioned Maranatha that they were being used by the devil."

culteducation.com

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Holy Bible

If you attended college in the '70s or '80s, you may remember hearing about a college ministry called Maranatha Campus Ministries (MCM).

"Maranatha" in Aramaic means "Our Lord, come" or "Our Lord is come". For those not familiar with this organization, Maranatha Campus Ministries was primarily an outreach to college and university campuses. It was founded by Bob Weiner in Paducah, Kentucky in 1971, and appealed to college students who felt disenfranchised as teens during the "60's" revolution. Perhaps the structure of MCM and the 'authority' of its leaders appealed to these students at first; however, as time went on more and more parents and students became concerned.

MCM was heavily influenced by leaders in both the charismatic movement and the shepherding movement. Because of that, it should come as no surprise that Maranatha Christian Ministries was accused by some former members of being a cult. You might want to read the Wiki article for an overview.

The Cult Education Institute website features a Christianity Today article (published in August 1984) that begins as follows:

Bobby and Jan Bonner found out in 1981 that getting out of Maranatha Campus Ministries (MCM) is not as easy as getting in. Maranatha is a charismatic Christian campus ministry based in Gainesville, Florida. When word reached MCM headquarters that Bobby wanted to leave the organization to return to school, on of Maranatha's top leaders prophesied that the departure wasn't God's will. The leader, Joe Smith, told the Bonners they would face death and destruction if they left.

"I was terrified," remembers Jan Bonner, and they stayed. But in the last two years the Bonners and some 30 other full-time Maranatha staff members have resigned, in large part due to perceived heavy-handed tactics in the group.

MCM was founded in 1972 by Robert Weiner, who serves as president. Weiner was reared in a legalistic church home. As a young man, he dropped out of Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, to join the air force. There he became a Christian through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. He and his wife, Rose, have since dedicated their lives to reaching young people with the gospel.

In 12 years, Weiner's organization has grown from a single ministry at Murray State University in Kentucky to some 100-campus chapters in the United States and in 16 foreign countries. Maranatha came to the attention of cult-watching organizations in 1981. Inquiries were coming in from parents worried that their children had unwittingly become part of a cult. They reported that their sons and daughters had undergone radical personality changes. Typically, their grades were failing, and they were giving Maranatha large sums of money that had been earmarked for education. Some were refusing medical and dental treatment, believing it demonstrated a lack of faith. Members told parents who questioned Maranatha that they were being used by the devil.

If you Google Maranatha Campus Ministries (which is now defunct), you will find some information about its cultish tendencies. And that information is increasing…

Thanks to several individuals who were exposed to MCM decades ago, we now have a better understanding of what really occurred in this college ministry. For example, one of our friends, Steve 240, felt compelled to start a website about MCM called mmireconsidered. TWW featured a post announcing it, and Steve 240 continues to add articles to this website.

Recently, we heard from someone who felt it necessary to re-publish a now shuttered blog that exposed the underbelly of Maranatha Campus Ministries. Years ago Tikie Tok (aka Tik Tok) wrote a series of posts about his MCM experience. The individual who contacted us sought out Tikie Tok, asking for permission to make those posts available once again, and Tik Tok is willing to have his blog posts repackaged on a new website (see screen shot below).

https://maranathaministriesrevisted.com/

Some of you may be wondering why a series of posts about a campus ministry that disbanded over 25 years ago might be relevant in the 21st century. Remember this saying by George Santayana?

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Here are two reasons why we must always remember what happened with Maranatha Campus Ministries:

(1)  Manipulative sociological cults, knowingly, or unknowingly, use the same basic tactics to entrap members and estrange them from their families and loved ones.  Thus this account could be of help for those who are trying to understand this phenomena and take action to help their loved ones or themselves.

(2) Maranatha Campus Ministries and its associated groups never actually went away. This is one of Tikie’s hypothesis. A quick search on google reveals numerous churches founded by former MCM pastors who continued the same pattern of abuse that plagued MCM.

Without further adieu, here is the link to Maranatha Ministries Revisited. We are republishing the first post below, and we highly encourage you to read all of the information featured at this website.

* Be sure to use the drop down menu on the right of the website to access the posts.

I have already scanned some of the posts and can hardly wait to read all of them! (They are gradually being uploaded.) Thanks to 'the editor' for pursuing Tik Tok in order to republish this important information.


# 1 PREFACE: THE EDITOR (link)

My interest in sociological cults came about because of my younger brother’s involvement and entrapment in the Way International in the early 1980s. Although my brother left the Way in the 1987 I was fascinated as to how a highly intelligent college student could be drawn into such an extreme group. I watched in horror as he devoted almost seven years of his life to their cause while almost destroying himself both physically and emotionally. He left the cult physically in 1987 but spent years breaking free mentally.

We both determined to understand what had happened to him and, just as importantly, the how and why.

We begin reading all we could about sociological cults including ground breaking books like Steve Hassan’s Combatting Mind Control and Michael Langone’s Recovery From Cults: Help For Victim of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse. I visited websites including Rick Ross’s website and (sadly) the now defunct FACTNET site to help my brother as he struggled for years to put his experience behind him.

I stumbled across Tik Tok’s writings in late 2006 through a link to his website everynationexposed (http://everynationexposed.blogspot.com/) on FACTNET. I devoured every sentence of Tikie’s account of his involvement in an apparent sociological cult called Maranatha Christian Ministries. I can recall reading his site for almost eight hours straight in a sitting. At the time I thought it one of the best personal accounts of cult membership, not just due to Tikie’s riveting writing and vivid descriptions, but also because of the way he plumbed the both whys and hows of sociological cult membership.

One reader wrote of Tikie’s blog in 2006 that it was the “Magnus Opus of sociological cults” and another that it was “A fantastic novel-like read minus the horrible punctuation”. A former member noted that “A better account of the leadership and their personalities involved [in MCM] could not be written.”

Numerous comments left on his blog testified to how his writing  helped others understand the cult phenomena and how they, or their loved ones, should respond to the cult. Tikie provided not only clear insight into how a sociological cult uses a person’s own mind to shackle them to a cult but, importantly, how one might break free of these mental shackles.

Tikie’s original writings have been copied and pasted onto numerous websites devoted helping those breaking free sociological cults.  The shuttering of Tikie’s blog removed a valuable resource to those who want to understand, and respond to, the cult phenomena.

Some may readers might ask “how could a story about a college campus ministry that disbanded over twenty-five years ago be relevant today?”

There first answer to this question is that manipulative sociological cults, knowingly, or unknowingly, use the same basic tactics to entrap members and estrange them from their families and loved ones.  Thus this account could be of help for those who are trying to understand this phenomena and take action to help their loved ones or themselves.

The second answer, a troubling one, is that Maranatha Campus Ministries and its associated groups never actually went away. This is one of Tikie’s hypothesis. A quick search on google reveals numerous churches founded by former MCM pastors who continued the same pattern of abuse that plagued MCM. One alleged cult-like church, Faith Christian/Resurrection Church, is thought to operate with MCM’s pattern of abuse to this day. Faith Christian church was founded by former MCM Pastors.

This recent article in the CU independent alleges many of the same abuses Tikie experienced at MCM in these churches founded by ex-MCM pastors: https://cuindependent.com/2017/04/17/parent-current-resurrection-church-member-speak-accusing-church-abuse-financial-manipulation-grace-faith-christian/

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/front-range/boulder/cu-boulder-student-resurrection-church-spiritually-abused-me

One particular quote in the article above that “We have lost our sons and daughters” is  an utterly heartbreaking one. Unfortunately, then, Tikie’s writings continue to be relevant today.

Through his blog, in late 2006, Tikie and I began a correspondence about my brother’s experience which developed into a friendship between us that outlasted his now shuttered blog .

After almost six years of pursuing Tikie (via email and Skype) I gained his agreement recently to allow me to edit and repackage his original posts that appeared between 2006 and 2009.

My editing consists of both cleaning up numerous grammatical errors and of changing the structure of his story. Tikie wrote his original blog from a strictly chronological viewpoint which allowed the reader to move through the  experience with him in time and experience how a bright and accomplished person can be entrapped in a cult.

Although there is much power in this approach; my view was that both a chronological and a thematic organization of his writings would serve the reader better. Thus our plan is to begin with a chronological account of Tik’s entrapment in MCM, then follow this account with thematic posts and finally to end with his dramatic account of how he broke free both physically and mentally from the group and his final conclusions.

I admit it is a bit frightening to try to improve on what I think is a genre masterpiece but I believe it is worth the try.

Tikie provided me with his original MS Word documents and agreed to give me complete editorial freedom as long as I did not alter his observations or conclusions.  Therefore any diminution in the power of his story and journey are all mine. But my hope is that this new version of Tikie’s story will affect the new reader as much as it affected me when I came across it some 9 years ago.

The Editor

Note: All materials in this site are copyright 2006 by Tik Tok and all rights are reserved by him. Tikie’s writings are used here with his permission.


Comments

Maranatha Campus Ministries Revisited – A Relaunched Website — 267 Comments

  1. Deb

    Glad you are featuring this new (reposting) blog.

    I didn’t see you meantiong your previous post that featured my blog about Maranatha on this group:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/02/10/maranatha-ministries-reconsidered-steve240s-new-blog/

    For those who have time you might find it of interest to read the comments in that blog post. I had quite the discussion with Thomas Cooper (now deceased) about Tom’s book that he wrote supposedly on the history of Maranatha. I find it Shocking Thomas Cooper titled this book “Raising Jesus.”

    Thomas Cooper’s tactics in his attempt to defend his book in that blog discussion certainly came to mind when I read this blog post:

    https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2016/06/20-diversion-tactics-highly-manipulative-narcissists-sociopaths-and-psychopaths-use-to-silence-you/3/?utm_source=manipulativearcissists&utm_medium=fb&utm_campaign=ad

    I don’t think the late Thomas Cooper could either see or at least admit all the issues with Maranatha if it bit him as the old saying goes. I am not sure if Thomas Cooper was just that deceived about Maranatha or that after producing a book that was incorrect he lacked the humility to admit his errors. With him now being deceased we won’t know the answer to that question this side of eternity.

    I am still baffled that someone who claimed to have researched and was now writing about the history of Maranatha could use the word “raising” to describe Maranatha. As one person said I am sure the leadership and some members thought they were “raising Jesus” but looking back shows that a lot of what Maranatha Leaderships did (especially at the end) was anything but raising Jesus.

    Similar to your comment on needing to learn from history what I like to quote is Psalm 78 where it says

    to teach their children,

    They would not be like their ancestors-

    a stubborn and rebellious generation,

    whose hearts were not faithful to him

    (Psalm 78:5, 8)

    What can be learned from the mistakes of the leadership of Maranatha that future leaders can take note of especially if Maranatha was originally a movement birthed by God but sadly became a sociological cult? Where did these men miss God assuming they were at one point truly doing God’s work? What do future leaders need to do to avoid these same mistakes.

    My blog posts and especially future blog posts will ask that question and hopefully provide some answers to this question while Tikie’s blog is his personal account of being in what he calls a sociological cult. This blog posting Tikie’s account of his experience in Maranatha motivates me to resume my blogging on Maranatha.

    The group claimed to teach the full Lordship of Jesus Christ though one wonders if many of these leaders were truly under the Lorship of Christ especially at the end.

    Hopefully your featuring this blog will lead to more people reading Tikie’s blog and revisiting Maranatha.

  2. @ Steve240:

    I definitely included your website, along with a link to the post I wrote introducing it. Sorry that I didn't provide a direct link to your blog, which I have now added it. 🙂

    Thanks for this additional info. Keep up the great work!

  3. GMFS

    Comment 1 of 2: a quick analogy

    If you build a tower of Lego™ bricks that’s, say, 30cm tall and around 6cm wide, it’ll be reasonably stable. A small push to one side at the top will tend to create a “restoring force” – that is, the centre of gravity will still be inside the base and its own weight will tend to push it back to vertical. It’s not exactly indestructible, but at least it’ll support its own weight reliably.

    If, on the other hand, you make that same 6cm-wide tower 6 metres tall, then even a very small push at the top will move the centre of gravity outside of the base. The result will be a stronger force pushing it over, and obviously it will topple. (Equally obviously, it’ll be next door to impossible to build it in the first place!)

    Comment 2 of 2: unstable organisations

    If you build a small organisation on a university campus in order, let’s say, to compete in a sport or pastime, or perform music, then there’s no particular reason why this would be dangerous. No group of people is perfectly immune from sociopaths and abuse, but none of the societies I was part of at Cambridge was marked by any cultic behaviour. That includes the university Athletics Club, Magdalene College choir, the university Music Society, and Clare College Climbing Club. Oh, and Cambridge University Dampers Club – the punt-jousting society. Their vision was to fall in the river, or not, according to preference.

    If, on the other hand, you want to “raise Jesus” – to change the world by turning it into heaven somehow – then you’re building very tall indeed. As Steve240 pointed out:

    Where did these men miss God assuming they were at one point truly doing God’s work?

    … it’s quite possible they did actually start out with a little something of the leading of God. (Same with the “Restoration Movement” over here in Blighty.)

    The trouble is that the vision and leadership of a small number of men (occasionally women) is not a big enough foundation. A movement like that rapidly becomes unstable, and collapses into legalism, hierarchy, authoritarianism, control and – inevitably – bullying and abuse. What’s so dangerous about it is that it doesn’t look like it’s collapsed – it looks like it’s a rip-roaring success. It’s large, influential and growing. It never noticed when the Lord departed from it.

  4. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    If, on the other hand, you want to “raise Jesus” – to change the world by turning it into heaven somehow – then you’re building very tall indeed. As Steve240 pointed out:

    Where did these men miss God assuming they were at one point truly doing God’s work?

    … it’s quite possible they did actually start out with a little something of the leading of God. (Same with the “Restoration Movement” over here in Blighty.)

    The trouble is that the vision and leadership of a small number of men (occasionally women) is not a big enough foundation. A movement like that rapidly becomes unstable, and collapses into legalism, hierarchy, authoritarianism, control and – inevitably – bullying and abuse. What’s so dangerous about it is that it doesn’t look like it’s collapsed – it looks like it’s a rip-roaring success. It’s large, influential and growing. It never noticed when the Lord departed from it.

    Excellent commentary!

    I'm not sure some folks have learned from the past. The young are so easy to target when a new 'move of God' is afoot.

  5. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    What’s so dangerous about it is that it doesn’t look like it’s collapsed – it looks like it’s a rip-roaring success. It’s large, influential and growing. It never noticed when the Lord departed from it.

    Excellent heads-up.
    In Matthew 13, Jesus describes:

    1 – birds eating up the seed (Word of God) before it takes root

    1 – a mustard seed, perhaps human wisdom or false teaching, not the Word, growing up out of proportion and providing a place for the birds to nest – birds that then eat the Word of God before it takes root. Noisy birds draw attention to the mega tree where they nest.

  6. Steve240 wrote:

    What can be learned from the mistakes of the leadership of Maranatha that future leaders can take note of especially if Maranatha was originally a movement birthed by God but sadly became a sociological cult?

    For one thing, overreach. When man tries to imitate or manufacture what God can do in changing another man’s heart, it is invasive.

  7. This is an open question to all-

    How big was MMI and SGM in the Seattle / U of Washington area in the 80’s?

  8. JYJames wrote:

    Steve240 wrote:

    For one thing, overreach. When man tries to imitate or manufacture what God can do in changing another man’s heart, it is invasive.

    Would it be fair to say that is when mere men usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life?

  9. I followed the link to read more of Tik’s story. I now know why and how so many people get drawn into cults. Thank you Deebs for posting this. I think every Christian should read it.

  10. @ Sam:
    Yes, thanks Deebs for posting, and thanks, Tik, for writing. Thanks in advance to TWW readers for comments, which are also very helpful. Discourse.

  11. Campus ministries usually employ and cycle in and out leadership and leadership recruiting of people way too young into what amounts to pastoral and authoritative-like roles over their peers who are not that much younger than them. There are a lot of different angles and layers to why this is a problem.

    ****

    I actually have a harder time thinking of someone I know who hasn’t had a bad experience or falling out with a campus ministry they were involved in. In my opinion it’s pretty widespread and common.

    You can take 5 people from 5 different ministries from 5 different colleges but they will all have almost identical stories. The themes and dynamics will essentially be the same.

    Spiritual abuse and typical cult patterns are easy to manifest and replicate in the college campus atmosphere.

  12. Nathan Priddis wrote:

    How big was MMI and SGM in the Seattle / U of Washington area in the 80’s?

    I mentioned this blog post to someone who was involved with Maranatha in the Northwest (Oregon?). I am sure she can answer the question.

    One major mistake the group made was their “unrestrained growth” in that they pushed to expand quickly. This lead to having a lot of young inexperienced leaders. A lot of people used this as the excuse for the ministries issues while at the same time not mentioning that it was Bob Weiner who caused this “unrestrained growth” and appointed inexperienced leaders.

  13. emily honey wrote:

    I actually have a harder time thinking of someone I know who hasn’t had a bad experience or falling out with a campus ministry they were involved in. In my opinion it’s pretty widespread and common.

    Well lets see in addition to Maranatha at aroun the same time there was a group “Great Commision” that somewhat similar to Maranatha. Great Commision was another group that didn’t allow dating.

    As you indicate I am sure there are issues at all campus ministries. With Maranatha I would say they were much more extreme in their shepherding methods I am sure if it was possible to do a poll on issues you would find a lot more with Maranatha than other groups.

  14. emily honey wrote:

    Spiritual abuse and typical cult patterns are easy to manifest and replicate in the college campus atmosphere.

    Also common in other movements: Hitler’s Brown Shirts, Khmer Rouge, Mao’s Red Guard, the Moonies, etc.

    Preying on a demographic: youthful, idealistic, available, seeking, open, emerging, embarking, inexperienced, naive, trusting, innocent.

  15. Steve240 wrote:

    Great Commision was another group that didn’t allow dating.

    The Way, mentioned in the post, was also like this, if I recall from recovering friends?

  16. @ Max:
    That is an excellent point: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12.

  17. JYJames wrote:

    Preying on a demographic: youthful, idealistic, available, seeking, open, emerging, embarking, inexperienced, naive, trusting, innocent.

    = New Calvinism

  18. JYJames wrote:

    Ephesians 6:12

    The early church had a better grasp on the spiritual world than the 21st century church. Demons go to church, too … often unhindered. There are controlling spirits at work in far too many places; they have been dispatched to distract the Body of Christ from the Great Commission to reach a lost world.

  19. JYJames wrote:

    emily honey wrote:
    Spiritual abuse and typical cult patterns are easy to manifest and replicate in the college campus atmosphere.

    Also common in other movements: Hitler’s Brown Shirts, Khmer Rouge, Mao’s Red Guard, the Moonies, etc.

    That’s because the SA, Khmer Rouge, and Red Guard were all Cults as well — POLITICAL/Ideological Cults. Cults don’t need to be based on a religion per se.

    And when Political and Religious Cults overlap, you the “Iranian Students” who overthrew the Shah (replaced with the Ayatollahs) and the Taliban (literally “Students”).

  20. The remnants of the Maranatha keep making news however.

    University of Arizona bans a religious group from its campus. They are from the Hope Church.

    http://tucson.com/news/local/star-investigation-tucson-ministry-a-cult-former-followers-say/article_8824efc5-f210-5041-8088-a654585e4673.html

    Hope Church was originally a Maranatha Campus ministry.

    http://www.hopechurchasucult.com/hopechurchasuculthistorymcm/september-02nd-2016

    Several years ago a pastor in Gainesville, Florida made news because he was going to have public burnings of the Koran. Terry Jones worked for Maranatha Campus Ministries and took over a Maranatha affiliated group in Gainesville, where Maranatha was headquartered.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dove_World_Outreach_Center_Quran-burning_controversy

    I was at Auburn when Maranatha was in its heyday. Almost all mainstream and evangelicals were leary of them and considered them a cult.

  21. I only know about this Maranatha Ministries from what I’ve read here at TWW. (Though it was a common name for not-a-church “fellowships” during the late Cold War, i.e. the heyday of Hal Lindsay, Christians For Nuclear War, Rapture Scare of the Week, and the like.)

    My own college days were 1973-78, before Maranatha apparently hit the scene. (And probably didn’t make it West to SoCal.) We had Campus Crusade (now “Cru”), The Navigators (who had a reputation for extremism), and a couple strictly-local borderline-Cult “Campus Ministries” who out-Naved the Navs. (“Koinonia House Christian Fellowship” at Rio Hondo JC — this was the EOTW/Shepherding group that messed me up — and “Studies in the Word of God” at Cal Poly Pomona — in retrospect, Fundy to Hyper-Fundy.)

    This Maranatha sounds like another, even more extreme version of the Navs (or a nationwide chain of the above two beyond-the-Navs). In either case, it’s gone over the line into Cult.

  22. Max wrote:

    Spirits never die – they just inhabit other ministries.

    Or like Dracula, they just keep rising from their graves. Won’t stay dead.

  23. Unrelated curiosity:
    Tik Tok’s choice of pen name — is he an aficionado of The Wizard of Oz?

    Because “Tik Tok” is the name of a character in Oz — a clockwork mechanical man who appears in Frank Baum’s later Oz sequels (and the 1985 movie Return to Oz, a composite of several of those sequels).

  24. Max wrote:

    = New Calvinism

    Actually, you contradict yourself with your logic in the recent comments. Spirits are free to try to gain influence wherever they can. They are ancient and personality cults with severe control issues are not “neo” but can be found throughout history, from Pharisees to Jesuits to a wide range of organizations today. While I am not a Calvinist, there is not a spirit that is exclusive to them. Should men doing wrong clean up their acts in Calvinism, these spirits will simply go elsewhere.
    However, there are multiple spirits involved in getting Christians to join the ongoing civil war raging in Christianity. Calvinists are brothers. My best friend is a Calvinist. The problem is the human heart. Anyone in any denomination or theological school can go astray in common human ways. Throughout history people get harmed in the civil war and take up arms against those who injured them. Then they start fighting with not just the guilty, but also the innocent in the other denomination(s). Thus the injured become a warrior replicating injury on innocents and the cycle repeats. Blessed are the peace makers and those who learn to forgive and spend more time praying for those who injured them then preying on them. Lets not choose to pick up machine guns and shot guns against other groups, but lets choose to use sniper rifles very carefully, with as few a shots as is actually necessary. There is much collateral damage that goes on in the civil wars. Watchbloggers need to watch out that they do not become part of the problem while desiring to be part of the solution. The reality is that good and bad go on everywhere and no church or denomination is immune. Putting Jesus’ teaching into practice and keeping it the priority is the rub. When that fails then church goes astray.

  25. JYJames wrote:

    Preying on a demographic: youthful, idealistic, available, seeking, open, emerging, embarking, inexperienced, naive, trusting, innocent.

    To that I would also add adolescent logic that takes the form of “different from parent therefore good” which can be exploited for evil purposes.

  26. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Gee, had forgotten all about,”Koinonia”
    groups. We met once with a couple we knew who were involved and invited us to their home. Way too spiritually intimate for our liking…..this would have been in the greater Boston area in maybe 75/76.

  27. Mae wrote:

    the greater Boston area in maybe 75/76

    Reminds me of the Boston Church of Christ, another very bad cult.

  28. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    JYJames wrote:
    emily honey wrote:
    Spiritual abuse and typical cult patterns are easy to manifest and replicate in the college campus atmosphere.
    Also common in other movements: Hitler’s Brown Shirts, Khmer Rouge, Mao’s Red Guard, the Moonies, etc.
    That’s because the SA, Khmer Rouge, and Red Guard were all Cults as well — POLITICAL/Ideological Cults. Cults don’t need to be based on a religion per se.
    And when Political and Religious Cults overlap, you the “Iranian Students” who overthrew the Shah (replaced with the Ayatollahs) and the Taliban (literally “Students”).

    On today’s campus, these kind of cults might be more prevalent, then the older pseudo Christian cults.

  29. Gram3 wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    the greater Boston area in maybe 75/76
    Reminds me of the Boston Church of Christ, another very bad cult.

    Yes, it was a real problem. I’m not sure but I believe it still exists but has lost its luster.

  30. While we’re enumerating 1970’s quasi-Christian cults, let’s don’t forget the Children of God, Moses David’s cult. I was recruited by them while in high school in the very early 70’s (71 or 72) via ‘flirty fishing’, where an attractive member of the opposite sex comes onto you like gangbusters in an attempt to reel you in, as it were.

    Luckily, I had a very special girlfriend at the time, and was immune. Though I would have been immune anyway – I read the stuff she gave me and it seemed absurd to me.

    HUG – I think we’re both HS class of ’73 – you on the West Coast, and me on the East… what times!…

  31. When you mentioned BOB WEINER… it all came back to me. First let me say that MCM had NOTHING to do with Maranatha Music. Totally two different entities.

    This brings back so many memories.

    In my late teens and 20’s just trying to do what is right, this guy came along….he was impressive in preaching BUT weird. I hate judging someone on looks, but his looks were a bit scary when he was in the pulpit. AT the time I knew something was wrong but didn’t want to question plus being a bit gullible I put things aside. I probably heard him speak maybe six times. He was radical… the big thing was no dating-PERIOD. Tell that to a hormone imbalanced guy in that age bracket. He believed that you would just be going and doing God’s work and BAM God will speak to you about who your wife would be. Then get married. BUT DON”T YOU DARE DATE!

    Gosh… this is so strange talking about this.

  32. Gram3 wrote:

    JYJames wrote:

    Preying on a demographic: youthful, idealistic, available, seeking, open, emerging, embarking, inexperienced, naive, trusting, innocent.

    To that I would also add adolescent logic that takes the form of “different from parent therefore good” which can be exploited for evil purposes.

    That was a big one in the Piper cult out of Wheaton many years ago. You see, none of us family members knew the “true Gospel”. Everything about our doctrine was wrong. I kept goading my brother to withhold tuition and see if that might magically change their minds. He thought they were so brainwashed they might just go work for Piper for free and not finish college. One hoped it was a phase.

    In the early days of the Neo Cal resurgence this was a big theme: Your parents churches are just feel good entertainment. Not serious like us. Not intellectual like us.

    That worked for a while. But then there was a lot of entertainment focus with Driscoll, Acts 29, etc. They started adopting a lot of the same marketing tactics to grow churches. Funny that.

  33. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And when Political and Religious Cults overlap, you the “Iranian Students” who overthrew the Shah (replaced with the Ayatollahs) and the Taliban (literally “Students”).

    I knew some of them who went back. A bit older than me but think of them often wondering if still alive. It was stunning when it happened as they changed on a dime. No words for it.

  34. Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    Actually, you contradict yourself with your logic in the recent comments.

    Actually, I moved from a discussion on the spiritual world to one driven by men in my reference to New Calvinism. When JY James said there are ministries “Preying on a demographic: youthful, idealistic, available, seeking, open, emerging, embarking, inexperienced, naive, trusting, innocent,” close observers of the new reformation will know that its primary converts are Generation Xers and Millennials who fit this description. This movement of aberrant belief and practice would not exist – Piper et al. would have no followers – if it weren’t for an audience of the youthful and idealistic seeking a different way to do church.

    That which comes against the Church can be lumped into categories: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world and the flesh trip up many Christians long before the devil gets his hand into it. Such is New Calvinism.

  35. Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    Putting Jesus’ teaching into practice and keeping it the priority is the rub. When that fails then church goes astray.

    Amen! Watchblogs, like TWW, provide a service to warn the Body of Christ to beware of ministers and ministries who do not raise the name of Jesus above all names.

  36. Steve240 wrote:

    My blog posts and especially future blog posts will ask that question and hopefully provide some answers to this question while Tikie’s blog is his personal account of being in what he calls a sociological cult. This blog posting Tikie’s account of his experience in Maranatha motivates me to resume my blogging on Maranatha

    Tikie’s posts on Maranatha Ministries Revisited seem to end with #24 My Troubles Begin. Will there be additional posts regarding how he escaped from Maranatha and what happened to Tikie and his engineering career?

  37. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Because “Tik Tok” is the name of a character in Oz — a clockwork mechanical man who appears in Frank Baum’s later Oz sequels (and the 1985 movie Return to Oz, a composite of several of those sequels).

    Stephen King’s Gunslinger Saga also has a Tick-Tock man. He’s one bad and unsavory hombre conjured up in book three (The Wastelands)

  38. Lydia wrote:

    In the early days of the Neo Cal resurgence this was a big theme: Your parents churches are just feel good entertainment. Not serious like us. Not intellectual like us.

    Al-Qaeda and al-Daesh used an Islamic variant of this in their recruiting a similar demographic, that “Your parents have backslidden and compromised, lukewarm. Not like us, on fire with the True Original Islam As It Was In The Days Of The Prophet.”

  39. From Tik Tok’s #1 post…
    ““Tik, I am very, very fearful for your eternal salvation and for your soul,” the voice drawled.

    It was Joe Smith, second in command of Maranatha Ministries and the  proclaimed chief prophet of the movement.

    “If you leave the ministry I will tell you that there is almost a one hundred percent chance that you will backslide into sin. But there is an even more serious matter that concerns me.”
    I grunted, and had now fallen face down into the shag carpet in my parent’s family room.

    “The Bible,” Joe continued with his deep voice now taking on the tone of Gospel preaching, “says that it is better to have a millstone tied around your neck and to be thrown into the sea than to lead the little ones astray. When you moved into full-time ministry, Tik, you became a leader with great responsibility. If you leave Maranatha it could cause those you are shepherding to lose their faith and then their blood will be on your hands! And you will be cut off from the both the vine and your spiritual family and in turn be thrown onto the fires of hell!””

    ———-

    Even now, ten years out of my former church, I sometimes wonder if I was too harsh in labeling them a cult. But here is the conversation I had in my pastor’s office the day I told him I was leaving (condensed & paraphrased – it lasted 2 1/2 hours).

    Pastor: I want you to stop talking to XXX about church business.

    Me: Well, I was going to wait to do this until I had trained people to take over my duties, but this brings it to a head. I’m resigning and leaving the church. (I was the leader of the department that handled audio/visual recording, editing, and production, among many other things.)

    Pastor: (Shocked look) What’s wrong? You can’t leave.

    Me: I can’t stay.

    Pastor: You know if you get out from under our covering, you WILL be deceived.

    Me: Perhaps, I still have to leave.

    Pastor: Well, what about all the sheep that are under our care. Think about what will happen to them if you leave. Your leaving will hurt the sheep.

    Me: What’s going on is already hurting them.

    Pastor: (Realizing he wasn’t going to win) we’ll just tell people you’re taking a sabatical and will be back.

    Me: I’m not coming back.

    Pastor: They don’t need to know the details.

    Me: (Resigned that he would, anyway) tell them whatever you want, but if they ask me, I won’t lie.

    ———-

    Very few people came and asked my friend and I why we left. Because I saw it in action with people that left before me, I knew that the congregation was encouraged to avoid ‘gossipping’ with us and, in effect, told to shun us. With some members, that is still going on ten years later. It is insidious and very damaging. I spent 7 years in that church and sadly, for a time, it turned me into a religious a**. Thankfully, I have gotten better. 😉

    But the residual effects of the teaching linger, still….

  40. I very nearly got sucked into Maranatha my first semester at UT Austin. I even got a prophecy from their “prophet” Joe Smith! I realized this was not a group I wanted to be involved with when one of the women from the group called me at home during Christmas vacation. Making a long-distance call to talk to someone you barely knew was a big deal in those days, because it cost money. It spooked me greatly that this woman called me. I made a point of staying well away when I went back to Austin after vacation.

    Along those same lines, I’d like to mention that a group similar to Maranatha Ministries, Hope Church at Arizona State University, has had its activities seriously curtailed. Hope has been accused of being a high-pressure organization. In April, five of the six “front clubs” for Hope Church were put on four-year probation because of violations of ASU’s policies, apparently in recruiting members.

    http://www.statepress.com/article/2017/04/spcampus-hope-church-update

    But more importantly, Hope Church was basically made into an off-campus organization when it was ousted from ASU’s Council of Religious Advisors for four years.

    http://www.statepress.com/article/2017/08/spcampus-hope-church-cora-update

    This is seriously going to hurt Hope Church. Because it was a campus organization, it was able to get free rent on Neeb Hall, which has a capacity of 438 people, for its church services. However, as a non-campus organization, Hope Church will have to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,500/Sunday to rent Neeb Hall. Also, and this is quite the sweet deal, what with tuition breaks, campus employee parking and an ASU ID for the three advisors who were in charge at Hope Church.

    The State Press at ASU has a long story about its investigation into Hope Church:

    http://www.statepress.com/article/2016/12/spcampus-asu-hope-christian-church-religious-cult-controversy-1-complaint

    Hope Church was founded as an offshoot of Faith Christian Church, which started at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Faith Christian Church has also been accused of being a cult. Hope claims it hasn’t been in contact with Faith for over a decade. That’s possible but I’m still suspicious.

  41. Lydia wrote:

    He thought they were so brainwashed they might just go work for Piper for free and not finish college.

    Not an unreasonable fear. Don’t know if she got paid, but a girl in my dorm freshman year quit to join the scientologists. More or less my first impression of them!

    I don’t remember anything but the generic Christian cross denim group at college. Don’t know if they were cultish, but they were definitely clickish. Which is another kind of problem.

  42. Everything about this Maranatha group sounds just like my former cult. Cut off all outside influences, label them “demonic” or “evil” or “worldly” or “wicked” or….pick a synonymous adjective – and you have a suitable subject ready to be conditioned and brain-washed. With regard to fear of dying if one left Maranatha Ministries, this was the common experience of many that left my former cult, The Forever Family later changed to Church of Bible Understanding. And if you didn’t die in a car, plane or train crash in the process of leaving, then you would surely become a prostitute or a drug addict or a derelict of some sort. Fear is what keeps people in these kinds of groups, and often fear is what causes people to return. One has to see that the fear is a lie to control and manipulate a person into staying in group. One of the most difficult things for a cult member to recognize is that they have been lied to and manipulated all for the purpose of fulfilling the agenda of the cult leader/s. Here is some info on my former shepherding cult. Just look at any number of the ex-member sites. The Wiki article is incomplete and in no way addresses the toxic teachings and practices of the FF/COBU.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=the+church+of+bible+understanding&rlz=1C1GGRV_enUS753US754&oq=the+church+of+bible+understanding&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.10312j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

  43. Steve240 wrote:

    What can be learned from the mistakes of the leadership of Maranatha that future leaders can take note of especially if Maranatha was originally a movement birthed by God but sadly became a sociological cult? Where did these men miss God assuming they were at one point truly doing God’s work? What do future leaders need to do to avoid these same mistakes.
    My blog posts and especially future blog posts will ask that question and hopefully provide some answers to this question while Tikie’s blog is his personal account of being in what he calls a sociological cult. This blog posting Tikie’s account of his experience in Maranatha motivates me to resume my blogging on Maranatha.
    The group claimed to teach the full Lordship of Jesus Christ though one wonders if many of these leaders were truly under the Lorship of Christ especially at the end.
    Hopefully your featuring this blog will lead to more people reading Tikie’s blog and revisiting Maranatha.

    Steve, I completely understand the need to process what happened when one has been part of such a controlling, abusive cult. Ex-members from my cult, Ex-Cobuers is one of the names we call ourselves, discuss the tactics that were used to control us and how we and why it was that we were so impressionable to such tactics. In the process of sharing our experiences, which I think is vital for ex-members of cults in order to understand just what happened to us, there is the desire to ascertain just what motivated the controlling leadership. Were they ever genuine Christians or were their motives and intentions dubious from the start? What was it that made us susceptible to their lies and manipulation? What sort of cult baggage do former members of cults carry with them and how do they identify such baggage? How does one shed the toxic thinking that these shepherding cults promote, and how does one recognize when that kind of toxic thinking seeks to rear its ugly head even long after one has physically left the cult? These, and other questions, are necessary to explore if one wants to freely extricate themselves from the harmful effects of a cult, especially one that is purportedly to have been ‘Christian.’

  44. @ Ken G:
    Hello
    We are currently editing and restructuring Tikie’s story and posting them as we go. Our plan is to take it all they through to Tikie pulls himself out of the muck, with some help from a good friend.

  45. Many thanks for the site owners Deb and Dee first for the valuable Christian Service they perform here and also for posting the kind article and link to our new website with Tikie’s.

    We are in the midst of editing and restructuring Tikie’s story and are posting them as we go.

    Many thanks again Deb and Dee.

    God’s Blessing to you
    The Editors MCMrevisted

  46. What Maranatha Ministries took advantage of, as well as my former cult The Forever Family/Church of Bible Understanding, and other groups like them – is the gullibility of young people, their interest in being part of social structures that are geared toward people of similar age and the propensity for teens and college-aged people to be drawn to altruistic beliefs. This was especially true in the 1970’s and 80’s when cults began and flourished at an alarming rate. One of the selling points of the shepherding movement cults was to cater to a desire to be part of a movement with a lofty, impressive purpose, and you could be part of contributing to that purpose. Add to that, the idea that it is a unique move of God in history and few people have been chosen to be part of such a movement, but you are special and God has chosen you for such a time as this. Who doesn’t want to feel unique and part of something greater than themselves and have God’s approval at the same time?

  47. @ EditorsMCM:

    We are grateful for your diligence in establishing a website with this helpful information about Maranatha Ministries written by Tikie Tok. May eyes continue to be opened regarding cultic behavior in Christendom.

  48. Max wrote:

    Such is New Calvinism.

    We remember the good old days when it was okay for SBCers to have different views on various things. The only thing we had to agree on was that we could only sing the first, second, and last verses of the hymns out of the Baptist Hymnal. Nobody asked anyone about Calvinism. Because no one cared about that. Until the Gospel Glitterati fanboys showed up about a dozen years ago and started running riot and demanding purity of doctrine for the Glory of God. Everyone needed to repent of being man-centered and man-fearing and gender-blurring and being rebellious and on and on and on.

    Mr. Jesperson is right about Calvinism itself not being the problem. MCM is not Reformed! But you and I are correct, I believe, that this feral new Calvinism is a work of the flesh in large measure that I believe is a reaction against their parents’ kind of church. Or at least what I have seen seems to me that way. Boastful, arrogant, proud, preening, dismissive, condescending, entitled, lazy. IMO some of the ones I know have adopted this ideology intentionally because it appeals to a certain market segment. I am convinced that some who teach it do not actually believe it, based on close observation.

  49. Darlene wrote:

    What Maranatha Ministries took advantage of … and other groups like them – is the gullibility of young people, their interest in being part of social structures that are geared toward people of similar age and the propensity for teens and college-aged people to be drawn to altruistic beliefs … cater to a desire to be part of a movement with a lofty, impressive purpose, and you could be part of contributing to that purpose. Add to that, the idea that it is a unique move of God in history and few people have been chosen to be part of such a movement, but you are special and God has chosen you for such a time as this. Who doesn’t want to feel unique and part of something greater than themselves and have God’s approval at the same time?

    Again, this all sounds very familiar regarding the appeal of New Calvinism to Generation Xers and Millennials. And there is no doubt that New Calvinist leaders target this demographic.

  50. JYJames wrote:

    Steve240 wrote:
    What can be learned from the mistakes of the leadership of Maranatha that future leaders can take note of especially if Maranatha was originally a movement birthed by God but sadly became a sociological cult?
    For one thing, overreach. When man tries to imitate or manufacture what God can do in changing another man’s heart, it is invasive.

    How about an innate defect/impulse to control others? The leaders in the shepherding movement cults satisfied a perverse longing to manipulate and control others’ lives while doing it in the name of God. God was their cover and defense to justify spiritually abusing others. Those who recognize this kind of motivation within their hearts should never be in a position of leadership because they will inevitably harm others.

  51. Gram3 wrote:

    The only thing we had to agree on was that we could only sing the first, second, and last verses of the hymns out of the Baptist Hymnal.

    Lol. Who decided that??? It is so weird to be singing the 3rd verse now 🙂

  52. Deb wrote:

    @ EditorsMCM:
    We are grateful for your diligence in establishing a website with this helpful information about Maranatha Ministries written by Tikie Tok. May eyes continue to be opened regarding cultic behavior in Christendom.

    Amen, Deb. I intend to post these links and this TWW article to all the ex-members sites of my former Christian cult.

  53. Max wrote:

    That which comes against the Church can be lumped into categories: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world and the flesh trip up many Christians long before the devil gets his hand into it.

    True. Even a single pastor can become predatory, if they are flesh- or self-motivated.

    i.e.: When my husband was gravely ill and our children were still in middle school, our pastor actually approached me and said that what I needed to do was throw myself completely into volunteering for his church in Christian education. No way. I was a care-taker of my husband and our children, deciding daily, moment-by-moment, who was the least of the least and who needed me the most: children or husband. It was never the programs of this pastor.

    [Sidenote: later this pastor divorced his wife for a younger woman, after many years of marriage. Affair? Don’t know. He is no longer a pastor nor a celebrity, but food-addicted, obese, with health issues.]

  54. Gram3 wrote:

    we could only sing the first, second, and last verses of the hymns out of the Baptist Hymnal

    I’ve always said that Southern Baptists will be greeted in Heaven by a hymn medley of 3rd verses, with familiar tunes but words they won’t recognize. 🙂

    Gram3 wrote:

    this feral new Calvinism is a work of the flesh in large measure that I believe is a reaction against their parents’ kind of church

    I actually had an SBC-YRR church planter tell me that.

    Gram3 wrote:

    Boastful, arrogant, proud, preening, dismissive, condescending, entitled, lazy.

    Apparent requirements for SBC-YRR church planters, since that describes most of the ones in my area.

    Gram3 wrote:

    I am convinced that some who teach it do not actually believe it, based on close observation.

    Oh, but it’s working! The same SBC-YRR church planter I noted above responded when I said his father and grandfather (both were SBC preachers) were not Calvinists “But, Max, the reformed churches are the ones that are growing these days!” (at least he learned from his ancestors that nickles and noses were important ingredients for a successful church)

  55. A.Tumbleweed wrote:

    JYJames wrote:
    Steve240 wrote:
    For one thing, overreach. When man tries to imitate or manufacture what God can do in changing another man’s heart, it is invasive.
    Would it be fair to say that is when mere men usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life?

    Most definitely it is a desire to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. The members in these kinds of controlling cults are made to think that they need someone else to reveal the truth to them about themselves. Voila! Who better than the self-appointed leaders who have special revelation from God? They are made to feel that they are susceptible to self-deception and so they need to be instructed and mentored by those who are wiser and more discerning than themselves. Soon, it becomes a co-dependent relationship in which the cult member seeks the approval of the leadership (as well as those who are in good standing with the leadership), for their self-worth and identity.

  56. emily honey wrote:

    Campus ministries usually employ and cycle in and out leadership and leadership recruiting of people way too young into what amounts to pastoral and authoritative-like roles over their peers who are not that much younger than them. There are a lot of different angles and layers to why this is a problem.
    ***

    Indeed! There is no one quite so zealous for a righteous cause as the exuberant young person who has God on their side! Convince them that you can never be zealous enough for a righteous cause and what you have is a virtual On-Fire-For-Jesus wrecking ball.

  57. Darlene wrote:

    Most definitely it is a desire to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.

    Paul exhorted Christians to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Cult leaders attempt to put their mind in you. It’s all about mind control. Only the Holy Spirit can protect you against such spiritual attack.

  58. Steve240 wrote:

    One major mistake the group made was their “unrestrained growth” in that they pushed to expand quickly. This lead to having a lot of young inexperienced leaders. A lot of people used this as the excuse for the ministries issues while at the same time not mentioning that it was Bob Weiner who caused this “unrestrained growth” and appointed inexperienced leaders.

    This was the exact same m.o. of the Forever Family/Church of Bible Understanding. The leader, Stewart Traill, was appointing 19 yr. olds to be fellowship leaders.

  59. Max wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    Most definitely it is a desire to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.
    Paul exhorted Christians to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Cult leaders attempt to put their mind in you. It’s all about mind control. Only the Holy Spirit can protect you against such spiritual attack.

    Max, I’m going to say something that might sound very unpopular, even heretical. But the Holy Spirit did not protect me, or the many other members of my Christian cult, from being abused and mistreated by the leadership. I would venture to say that is the case with Maranatha Ministries as well. That is one of the many troubling realities that those of us who have been in these kinds of shepherding cults must recognize. There are manifold reasons as to why people become victims of spiritual abuse, but the fact is God allowed it to happen. The is a hard reality to come to terms with.

  60. Ken G wrote:

    Steve240 wrote:
    My blog posts and especially future blog posts will ask that question and hopefully provide some answers to this question while Tikie’s blog is his personal account of being in what he calls a sociological cult. This blog posting Tikie’s account of his experience in Maranatha motivates me to resume my blogging on Maranatha
    Tikie’s posts on Maranatha Ministries Revisited seem to end with #24 My Troubles Begin. Will there be additional posts regarding how he escaped from Maranatha and what happened to Tikie and his engineering career?

    First of all realize that there are 2 separate blogs. The one that goes through Tikie’s experience with Maranatha is called Maranatha Revisited. It is also what this Wartburg Watch blog post is discussing. I am not the posting or controlling that blog though I have had discussions with the people managing that blog.

    The blog that I have is “Reconsidered” where I try and analyze. I am also going to point out a lot of details (mostly bad) that Thomas Cooper in his book claiming to be Maranatha’s “history” left out. Most of these significant details put Maranatha in a much worse light than Cooper wrote.

    With that said and to answer your question about posts for Revisited is that they are currently up to post 25 ( one more than you specified). I read the original Tikkie blog and he takes you through his whole experience with the group including his time being a pastor for this group. The people indicated to me that they are slowly revising his blog pages and posting them as they do.

    Thus for Revisited keep checking the blog for updates or subscribe and they will email you the posts as they do them.

  61. JYJames wrote:

    emily honey wrote:
    Spiritual abuse and typical cult patterns are easy to manifest and replicate in the college campus atmosphere.
    Also common in other movements: Hitler’s Brown Shirts, Khmer Rouge, Mao’s Red Guard, the Moonies, etc.
    Preying on a demographic: youthful, idealistic, available, seeking, open, emerging, embarking, inexperienced, naive, trusting, innocent.

    Yep, a demographic that can be easily controlled and brain-washed.

  62. JYJames wrote:

    Steve240 wrote:
    Great Commision was another group that didn’t allow dating.
    The Way, mentioned in the post, was also like this, if I recall from recovering friends?

    From what I remember of The Way, they were quite the hedonists. I encountered them many times back in the 70’s and 80’s and they were all about emphasizing the freedom they had in Christ. They interpreted those freedoms to be drinking to excess and premarital sex. I recall the first time I attended a Way prayer meeting/bible study. After it was over, just about everyone in the room lit up their cigarettes. I had to leave because of all the smoke. 😉

  63. Darlene wrote:

    There is no one quite so zealous for a righteous cause as the exuberant young person who has God on their side! Convince them that you can never be zealous enough for a righteous cause and what you have is a virtual On-Fire-For-Jesus wrecking ball.

    Hmm…these quotes come to mind…

    “I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.
    But then I sigh; and, with a piece of scripture,
    Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
    And thus I clothe my naked villany
    With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ;
    And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.” – William Shakespeare, Richard III

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ~ C S Lewis

  64. AUCPA wrote:

    I was at Auburn when Maranatha was in its heyday. Almost all mainstream and evangelicals were leary of them and considered them a cult.

    Auburn certainly wasn’t the only campus where they were considered a cult by other mainstream and evangelical Christian groups.

    One story I heard was that things became so bad at the Auburn Chapter and they thought that the culture was that bad there that Maranatha Leadership shut the chapter down with hopes that in a few years they would reopen it. With the group imploding that reopening never happened as far as I know.

  65. I finally found some time to read Tiks story and about Maranantha. I was astonished to learn it started at Murray State in the 70’s. I have four cousins who did their undergrad work there in the 70’s. I emailed them all and asked if they knew about it. So far, three have answered no. The other one is out of the country I learned. All were nominally involved with BSU but mostly socially. Too busy with rehearsals they all said to get involved with much more. All music majors. 🙂

    That is so weird to me about Murray State. I used to visit them there as an excited teen thinking it was so cool to spend the night in a dorm.

    His story is riveting. Don’t you find yourself yelling,” stop” at certain points? Does each cult look for a type? It is interesting to see how busy they kept college students to the point of grades falling. Much to ponder after reading it. I have had a lot of time to think about the efforts many of us have put into “church”. Not to that extent. But just thinking about what really pleases our Lord as I was reading it. My conclusion (and it’s mine only) is that it is not racking up hours at church meetings.

    I could not put it down. Ok, admit. How many were thinking….stay with Sheila!!! Very thankful he shared his experience.

  66. @ Darlene:
    If you read the story there were several times he willfully ignored red flags. Or, chose to dismiss them. Most of us have done that in certain venues. I still kick myself over it and I was not in this sort of situation. I willfully chose to rationalize it away.

    I honestly think many of us were not aware we have these instincts or “awarenesses” for a reason and to pay close attention to them. It’s something we need to talk about more with young people.

    But nothing is more convincing than someone who is already convinced. He mentions that the deceived (Bob’s workers) really believed and he believed them.

  67. Wow! Reading the stories about Maranatha brought back memories of Bob Weiner preaching at Covenant Life Church many years ago. As much as I was a kool-aid drinker back then, I had great difficulty getting into his style, which was very aggressive and harsh.

    I also thought back to when I attended Catholic University in D.C., which is where I met a group of folks from what became CLC. They formed a group on campus and held bible studies. I remember Steve Shank (shudder!) coming to talk, and I don’t remember what other leaders came, but the group was run by the church. Mostly I just went out to church on Sunday’s with friends, and I was eventually baptized by Che Ahn, although I had given my life to the Lord years earlier. Those were mostly good times; however, the folks from CLC did push for you to be discipled. Because I was on a college campus and physically removed from the focal point of the church, I was somewhat protected. I did move back a few years after graduation and join the church, though.

    Think of how invasive it was for this church to hold meetings at Catholic University. It did help me cement my commitment to following Jesus. However, they didn’t mesh with the school’s theology at all and were very secretive and intrusive. There was one horrible incident where a friend who worked at a coffee house on campus allowed a musician affiliated with the group to play there. He gave a very radical altar call right at the coffee house, and my friend was moritifed and thankfully didn’t lose his job, and I was mortified as well, since that wasn’t what they told him would happen.

  68. @ Jeannette Altes:
    I think many of us have had those kinds of conversations before we left our former places of worship. Strange how many years can go by and the incident seems rather fresh in our minds.

  69. Lea wrote:

    Who decided that

    Baptist Tradition. Which is totally not like other churches that have traditions that do not have rock-solid textual support.

  70. Darlene wrote:

    this was the common experience of many that left my former cult, The Forever Family later changed to Church of Bible Understanding.

    Strange… I remember the term “Forever Family” from the old Hollywood Free Paper in the early Seventies; it was their term for the Saved, “The Body of Believers”.

  71. roebuck wrote:

    HUG – I think we’re both HS class of ’73 – you on the West Coast, and me on the East… what times!…

    Yes I’m HS class of ’73. No COGs at my HS circa ’71; only thing resembling that were some Calvary Chapel-influenced student witnessers (and one teacher) and an on-campus “Spiritual Life Club”. HS really wasn’t the best years of my life.

  72. @ Lydia:
    Thank you Lydia. We are in the midst of publishing all of Tik’s work. It really is novel like in length. We have already heard from one person who is in Tik’s story- we are not sure how he found us (his real name is not used but he immediately recognized himself).

    We are so glad that you found the Tik’s story helpful.
    The EditorsMCMrevisted

  73. emily honey wrote:

    I actually have a harder time thinking of someone I know who hasn’t had a bad experience or falling out with a campus ministry they were involved in. In my opinion it’s pretty widespread and common.

    Yeah, I participated in several different campus ministries and had some pretty bad experiences. They were particularly cliquish and judgmental, and it was the student leaders that were the worst.

    Fairly recently, I had a friend from college come to me and ask why I didn’t tell her that I disapproved of what she wore back then. I said I never said such a thing, nor I did believe it. She said, “So and so said you had a problem…” This is years and years later. It wasn’t me who said that, but I’m pretty sure it got attributed to me because several of those people kept coming to me about their judgmental modesty culture on others and I kept telling them to stick a sock in it. Another friend still reverently tells me, about the same people, “So and so always thought you shouldn’t have done this or should have done that…” and the person she’s talking about never once made an effort to have a conversation with me, so I say so. Still comes up every couple of years or so.

  74. M.Stacey wrote:

    He believed that you would just be going and doing God’s work and BAM God will speak to you about who your wife would be. Then get married. BUT DON”T YOU DARE DATE!

    I’ve been reading some of the recovering grace stuff and this comes up a lot. I don’t know how much of this ‘god will send you a husband/wife’ thing sunk into my head when I was younger but at this point it seems like bunk.

  75. Steve240 wrote:

    One story I heard was that things became so bad at the Auburn Chapter and they thought that the culture was that bad there that Maranatha Leadership shut the chapter down with hopes that in a few years they would

    reopen it. With the group imploding that reopening never happened as far as I know.

    Steve, I was gone by the time it shut down. If you read the story at the link in the article above it is by a guy named Tic Tok who was at the Auburn Chapter of the Maranathas.

  76. Lydia wrote:

    If you read the story there were several times he willfully ignored red flags. Or, chose to dismiss them. Most of us have done that in certain venues

    I know I’ve done that. I’m trying really hard not to anymore.

  77. ishy wrote:

    They were particularly cliquish and judgmental

    I never got involved enough to see judgment (was busy doing my own other college things!) but definitely saw the cliques. High school church stuff too. I think some of it is just age, but I do wonder how much is promoted by teachings?
    ishy wrote:

    I had a friend from college come to me and ask why I didn’t tell her that I disapproved of what she wore back then. I said I never said such a thing, nor I did believe it. She said, “So and so said you had a problem…” This is years and years later.

    Ugh! I hate that dramatic stuff.

  78. Darlene wrote:

    Soon, it becomes a co-dependent relationship in which the cult member seeks the approval of the leadership (as well as those who are in good standing with the leadership), for their self-worth and identity.

    And when the member (now ex-member) leaves the “lovin’ on ’em” stops abruptly and the shunning begins. It feels like being cut lose from your mooring and set adrift. And then you begin to realize, in time, that what you were moored to was a garbage barge and that you just got used to the stench…

  79. I really appreciate the effort to preserve Tikie’s memories. They read like a novel, or maybe a movie. Like the polar opposite of Animal House. I keep wondering what happened to the characters, especially “Ellen.” Her instincts seemed really sharp, especially for a college kid.

    I can understand how Tikie overlooked some of his red flags. At that age, they just don’t seem as “red.” It takes some real pain and regret to get most of us to pay attention to the red flags in life. I certainly missed a lot of them.

    I didn’t arrive at Murray State until 1982, and I can’t recall a Maranatha House anywhere. I’m still wondering where it was. MCM seems to have had just disappeared in most places, leaving a lots of hurt people behind, and a few odd churches.

  80. Lea wrote:

    I never got involved enough to see judgment (was busy doing my own other college things!) but definitely saw the cliques. High school church stuff too. I think some of it is just age, but I do wonder how much is promoted by teachings?

    I think it’s all those things added to the assignment of big responsibility over others the same age, as Emily said.

    Most of this group came from tiny Christian high schools to a giant public university, and they thought it was their job to police everybody else. If they had wanted the security of extreme modesty culture, they shouldn’t have gone to a large public university. At the time, I wasn’t sure that friend they talked about was a Christian, but I still didn’t think her clothing was a big deal.

  81. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Darlene wrote:

    Strange… I remember the term “Forever Family” from the old Hollywood Free Paper in the early Seventies; it was their term for the Saved, “The Body of Believers”.

    If I had to give a name to my former local “church”, it would be “Forever Dysfunctional Family”. I can’t count how many times I hear “we are family”, and it was when the immediate response in my head started to say, “Yeah, one big dysfunctional family” that my feet started pointing toward the door.

    And yet, why do I feel the need to try, in some small way, to help them see the error of their ways? (I’m meeting with a member of manglement shortly) I still feel the need to tell someone that the ship is listing, badly.

  82. ishy wrote:

    If they had wanted the security of extreme modesty culture, they shouldn’t have gone to a large public university.

    Yeah. I’m glad that wasn’t really much of a factor in my high school or college life.

    It is amazing to me to read people talking about modesty and ‘purity’ (including ’emotional purity’ which was apparently another thing I’m so happy never to have heard of) with such obvious pride and looking down on others…there has to be some source to that feeling. I’m better than X because I never kissed till my wedding day. Do people not hear themselves when they talk?

  83. @ Lea:
    What I meant to say is this ‘we are like this, not like THOSE people over there’ contributes to the cliquish feels…and it makes the rest of the world extra ‘scary’ if you’re trying to break free if you think they are all terribly worldly awful people because they, say, go on dates and wear tank tops.

  84. But I saw cliquish behavior in groups that were not cultish or even particularly different from anyone else at school except that they went to one church thing a week.

  85. Steve240 wrote:

    This is Tiks post on their dating policy. They called it a revelation

    Funny how many people keep having these revelations? Gothard. Harris. A bunch of others I guess.

  86. Darlene wrote:

    One of the selling points of the shepherding movement cults was to cater to a desire to be part of a movement with a lofty, impressive purpose, and you could be part of contributing to that purpose. Add to that, the idea that it is a unique move of God in history and few people have been chosen to be part of such a movement, but you are special and God has chosen you for such a time as this. Who doesn’t want to feel unique and part of something greater than themselves and have God’s approval at the same time?

    Bingo!

    One of the things I had to come to terms with after leaving Maranatha is why I had such a hard time with doing it, and the answer was because I wanted to believe it. Realizing that was a major step in my healing.

  87. Steve240 wrote:

    They called it a revelation

    Another gimmick to control folks. If a leader claims divine revelation, he is saying he has a direct line to God about what ‘you’ should do. I once had a music minister tell me that God had revealed to him that I should take the lead in the Easter play. I declined, saying that God had not told me that. He wandered away to tell another person that God had told him that they should take the lead in the Easter play. Control and manipulation are not gifts of the Spirit.

  88. I came across Tikie’s blog about 8 years ago. At the time it only had a few posts on it, with other posts scattered on various other forums, but I had to track down as many as I could. I was in a Maranatha but never had dealings above the local level (somehow managed to avoid going to MLTS) and reading the inside stories about leadership was gripping, to say the least. I am glad they are being made available again.

    Reading about current problems in the SBC I am struck by how similar they are to Maranatha’s problems, even without the shepherding or the charismatic theology.

  89. Lydia wrote:

    I honestly think many of us were not aware we have these instincts or “awarenesses” for a reason and to pay close attention to them. It’s something we need to talk about more with young people.

    I certainly recall having these reactions to some of the “committed Christian” groups back in my days on a college campus in the 70s. Even though these feeling held me back from further involvement I felt guilty about it at the time. For all my reliance on supposed rational thought I’m finding good old “negative feelings” have kept me from harm.

  90. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Comment 2 of 2: unstable organisations

    If, on the other hand, you want to “raise Jesus” – to change the world by turning it into heaven somehow – then you’re building very tall indeed.

    What an interesting idea, sounds like building a tower of Babel and slapping the name of Christ on it.

  91. Steve240 wrote:

    emily honey wrote:
    I actually have a harder time thinking of someone I know who hasn’t had a bad experience or falling out with a campus ministry they were involved in. In my opinion it’s pretty widespread and common.
    Well lets see in addition to Maranatha at aroun the same time there was a group “Great Commision” that somewhat similar to Maranatha. Great Commision was another group that didn’t allow dating.
    As you indicate I am sure there are issues at all campus ministries. With Maranatha I would say they were much more extreme in their shepherding methods I am sure if it was possible to do a poll on issues you would find a lot more with Maranatha than other groups.

    I don’t know about “more with Maranatha”–I’m remembering friends who got caught up with The Way International, the Moonies, that looney Moses guy, at least a coupe of Eastern cults (I remember going to a “free” dinner and being love-bombed) and a local branch of Overeaters Anonymous that turned toxic. (I don’t know if the whole organization was toxic, or just that one branch.) I don’t remember if Maranatha was at our campus. It might well have been. The names I remember most clearly were Campus Crusade for Christ and the Navigators, and I don’t remember if they pinged my radar or not.

  92. Mae wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    You are not alone in that experience.

    Yeah. In my years in various fandoms (Lit SF, Gamer, proto-Anime, and Furry), I noticed most first-generation fans came out of abusive family backgrounds and/or school careers.

    Bronies seem to be an exception; there abusive family/school backgrounds don’t seem to be a majority. However, Furry…

    One of my writing partners (the burned out preacher – with background experience in horror, SF, Furry, and Brony) does online counseling of Furries. He has said that almost all he’s counseled had a high school experience he described as “literally hellish” (and he doesn’t use that word lightly). He considers the fannish obsession to be a survival refuge, exact quote: “Obsessing over upright talking animals beats sucking a load out of your father’s shotgun.”

  93. refugee wrote:

    The names I remember most clearly were Campus Crusade for Christ and the Navigators, and I don’t remember if they pinged my radar or not.

    Campus Crusade and the Navs were the biggies where I was, with one or two local even higher-commitment “Fellowships”. Campus Crusade was just THERE, the Navs had a reputation for lotsa flunkouts and burnouts, and the local “Fellowships” tried to out-Nav the Navs.

  94. Thersites wrote:

    I’m finding good old “negative feelings” have kept me from harm.

    Much of discernment is simply keeping your eyes and ears open. After having been bit by a religious snake or two in my younger years, I look carefully where I walk these days.

  95. A.Tumbleweed wrote:

    And then you begin to realize, in time, that what you were moored to was a garbage barge and that you just got used to the stench…

    And for a long time afterwards, you will associate that stench with God and Christ.
    A.Tumbleweed wrote:

    If I had to give a name to my former local “church”, it would be “Forever Dysfunctional Family”.

    “We’re One Big Happy Family, As Ozzie & Harriet as We Can Be…”

    Tumbleweed, both of these are really great lines.

  96. Max wrote:

    Thersites wrote:
    I’m finding good old “negative feelings” have kept me from harm.

    Much of discernment is simply keeping your eyes and ears open.

    Convenient how we have redefined it to mean seeing us under every bed when we’re not, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

  97. Lea wrote:

    Funny how many people keep having these revelations? Gothard. Harris. A bunch of others I guess.

    Funny how said revelation is always to the revelator’s personal advantage.

  98. Robert M wrote:

    Reading about current problems in the SBC I am struck by how similar they are to Maranatha’s problems, even without the shepherding or the charismatic theology.

    I think the shepherding movement had a big influence on the New Cals, though of course none of them would admit it. Didn’t Mohler start out as a charismatic?

  99. Lea wrote:

    M.Stacey wrote:
    He believed that you would just be going and doing God’s work and BAM God will speak to you about who your wife would be. Then get married. BUT DON”T YOU DARE DATE!
    I’ve been reading some of the recovering grace stuff and this comes up a lot. I don’t know how much of this ‘god will send you a husband/wife’ thing sunk into my head when I was younger but at this point it seems like bunk.

    It seems that in many Christian circles things are attributed to God that have little to do with God per say. Recently my husband happened to see a fella from our former Christian cult at a local restaurant. As they were speaking, the fella said that God had released him from X ministry and now he was pursuing X ministry. When one uses God has their stamp of approval you can do no wrong. God called me to….God spoke to me and….God led me to… and on and on it goes. Call me skeptical, but I think a lot of this sort of thing is Christianese.

  100. Lea wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    If you read the story there were several times he willfully ignored red flags. Or, chose to dismiss them. Most of us have done that in certain venues
    I know I’ve done that. I’m trying really hard not to anymore.

    Often when you are young – teens and early twenties – you haven’t been trained to look out for or know just what those Red Flags are. Often, your sensibilities and thought processes aren’t yet mature enough to recognize the tactics of manipulation, control, and mind conditioning.

  101. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Yeah. In my years in various fandoms (Lit SF, Gamer, proto-Anime, and Furry), I noticed most first-generation fans came out of abusive family backgrounds and/or school careers.
    Bronies seem to be an exception; there abusive family/school backgrounds don’t seem to be a majority.

    I ran a ministry to female geeks, gamers, and fans for 10 years and I found this common as well. Or they had overly churchy type families who wanted a sunny, cheerleader daughter who was the perfect church girl and they just couldn’t be that person no matter how hard they tried.

    There was so much drama in that community because several people constantly tried to take ownership over others, whether in leadership or by romantic relationships. People who called for calm discussion or common sense often were targeted or hurt by terrible false rumors. It’s not unlike the extreme insecurity I see in the New Cal leaders. The mentality was that if people don’t love you and hang on your every word, then you make them do so.

  102. Darlene, I complete agree with you about seeing red flags. You don’t have to be that young, even, just unfamiliar. I have learned loads in the last two years that I never had reason to learn before. And I think the way you are raised has something to do with what you pick up on, either because you don’t have good examples or alternately because you do, and so you miss the deception.

    Darlene wrote:

    When one uses God has their stamp of approval you can do no wrong.

    God told me to eat some cake this weekend 😉

  103. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    I can understand how Tikie overlooked some of his red flags. At that age, they just don’t seem as “red.” It takes some real pain and regret to get most of us to pay attention to the red flags in life. I certainly missed a lot of them.

    I can understand overlooking some of those Red Flags as well. For one thing, members in cults are conditioned to think that those Red Flags are Satan trying to pull you away from Jesus. You’re taught that doubts or questioning leadership are the devil’s sly tactics that if you listen to them, will cause you to leave and backslide into a wicked existence which will eventually lead you to hell. So, because you (the cult member) want to do the right thing (what Christian doesn’t desire to please God?), you ignore those Red Flags, or you push them away when they come to your attention. And then you double-down and convince yourself all the more that you are part of a godly movement. It’s cognitive dissonance at work, something I was clueless about back then as a member of a cult.

  104. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    You are not alone in that experience.
    Yeah. In my years in various fandoms (Lit SF, Gamer, proto-Anime, and Furry), I noticed most first-generation fans came out of abusive family backgrounds and/or school careers.
    Bronies seem to be an exception; there abusive family/school backgrounds don’t seem to be a majority. However, Furry…
    One of my writing partners (the burned out preacher – with background experience in horror, SF, Furry, and Brony) does online counseling of Furries. He has said that almost all he’s counseled had a high school experience he described as “literally hellish” (and he doesn’t use that word lightly). He considers the fannish obsession to be a survival refuge, exact quote: “Obsessing over upright talking animals beats sucking a load out of your father’s shotgun.”

    Adolescence for me, was a long , painful, confusing time. You couldn’t pay me enough money to relive it. The last place I’d ever go is to my HS reunion. ( ’69 )

    Sometimes at night when I’m drifting off to sleep, I express to God, my wonderment, amazement, I didn’t lose my faith in Him, or rather He didn’t forget me.

  105. Darlene wrote:

    Red Flags are Satan trying to pull you away from Jesus

    One thing that always throws me is the teachings that come around that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things…who can understand it’ passage in Jeremiah.

    It seems to be used constantly for all sorts of bad teachings and downright scary attempts to tell people they cannot trust themselves.

  106. @ Darlene:
    Muff Potter wrote:

    Darlene wrote:

    Call me skeptical, but I think a lot of this sort of thing is Christianese.

    You’re not the only skeptic.

    Christianese, would be one way of viewing it, a kind way.
    Whenever I hear, ” God called, led, spoke to me”, I interpret that as their license to do what they wish. It’s also part and parcel trying to manipulate me into accepting whatever it is they want to do.

  107. Darlene wrote:

    You’re taught that doubts or questioning leadership are the devil’s sly tactics that if you listen to them, will cause you to leave and backslide into a wicked existence which will eventually lead you to hell. So, because you (the cult member) want to do the right thing (what Christian doesn’t desire to please God?), you ignore those Red Flags, or you push them away when they come to your attention. And then you double-down and convince yourself all the more that you are part of a godly movement. It’s cognitive dissonance at work, something I was clueless about back then as a member of a cult.

    Wow. This sounds exactly like our exit interview with the elders of our former church.

  108. Darlene wrote:

    When one uses God has their stamp of approval you can do no wrong. God called me to….God spoke to me and….God led me to… and on and on it goes. Call me skeptical, but I think a lot of this sort of thing is Christianese.

    It’s also (according to Jewish sources) the original meaning of the phrase “Taking the LORD’s Name in Vain”. (Convenient how it’s been redefined to mean cussing and cussing alone, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?)

    An some time ago on one of these threads, someone commented that “God Led Me To…” should be spoken with the same caution reserved for “Please Castrate Me”.

  109. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “Taking the LORD’s Name in Vain”

    Any use of God’s name that brings dishonor on Him or on His character is taking His name in vain. That would be pretty much most of the organized church in America, particularly where Christian entertainment supersedes genuine worship.

    Since the aberrations of New Calvinist belief and practice come up a lot on TWW and other watchblogs, misrepresenting the love of God for ALL people is to misrepresent the very essence of His character … to take the Lord’s name in vain.

  110. Lea wrote:

    God told me to eat some cake this weekend

    I heard somewhere that you can only have your cake, butcha’ can’t eat it too.

  111. Lea wrote:

    One thing that always throws me is the teachings that come around that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things…who can understand it’ passage in Jeremiah.

    It seems to be used constantly for all sorts of bad teachings and downright scary attempts to tell people they cannot trust themselves.

    Jeremiah 17:9 is a classic clobber verse, one of the most abused in all of Scripture.

  112. Muff Potter wrote:

    Jeremiah 17:9 is a classic clobber verse, one of the most abused in all of Scripture.

    Which somehow always applies to the heart of the person being clobbered, and never to the person doing the clobbering.

  113. Lydia wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:
    Fav with Neo Cals. It’s an “end of discussion” verse.

    It doesn’t even make sense! One, your heart and your mind are different. Two, If you don’t listen to yourself who are you supposed to listen to? Some other man? Because in verse 5 it says NOT to do that. So I guess you are supposed to be listening to God. Um…how do you know if you are hearing god or your heart or your mind? Such a circle!

  114. @ Lea:
    Some of my research long ago pointed out that the “heart verses” are actually referring to our minds. In that era, they believed that decision making/thinking came from the heart. Your “head” was the “source” for your body as in eating, seeing, hearing, etc. it wasn’t until about 100 years after Paul, the physician, Galan, discovered that animals brains controlled their limbs (body)

    It really changes how we view some passages. Thinking is perfectly ok in Christianity. 🙂

  115. Lydia wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:
    Fav with Neo Cals. It’s an “end of discussion” verse.

    Not just the Neo Cals. Jeremiah 17:9 was our go-to verse in my former cult when evangelizing. I can’t tell you how many times I showed people that verse while street witnessing and while on college campuses. See here, right here is says that you have a deceitful, wicked heart. But it didn’t just stop there. We used it on each other even after we believed we had been given a new heart and mind from God. It seems we were always on the merry-go-round of self-deception with no way to get off.

  116. EditorsMCM wrote:

    @ Steve240:
    Thank you Steve- we appreciate your efforts on behalf of exposing behaviors that result in groups becoming sociological cults.
    The EditorsMCM revisited

    Thank you for updating and republishing Tiki’s traumatic story of being involved in what he calls a “sociological cult.”

    It is interesting to read this sad story but one that needs to be told.

  117. Darlene wrote:

    GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:
    I can understand how Tikie overlooked some of his red flags. At that age, they just don’t seem as “red.” It takes some real pain and regret to get most of us to pay attention to the red flags in life. I certainly missed a lot of them.
    I can understand overlooking some of those Red Flags as well. For one thing, members in cults are conditioned to think that those Red Flags are Satan trying to pull you away from Jesus. You’re taught that doubts or questioning leadership are the devil’s sly tactics that if you listen to them, will cause you to leave and backslide into a wicked existence which will eventually lead you to hell. So, because you (the cult member) want to do the right thing (what Christian doesn’t desire to please God?), you ignore those Red Flags, or you push them away when they come to your attention. And then you double-down and convince yourself all the more that you are part of a godly movement. It’s cognitive dissonance at work, something I was clueless about back then as a member of a cult.

    One thing that happens when you are told that even discussing or brining up your concerns is wrong (they will call it gossip or slander) is that you think you are the only one with questions about things when there may be a number of other regular members with similar questions. If you look at the Asch line experiment you will see a person’s tendency to go along with others even when they feel it is wrong.

    This broad definition of what “gossip” and “slander” is IMO leads a lot of people thinking they are the only one with questions.

    Another tactic used is what is called a “false dilemma.” Basically this tactic indicates there is really only two choices vs. a mulititude of choices. With those who promote “kissing dating goodbye” will paint such a bad picture of how bad dating is and will conclude that the only option is to “kiss dating goodbye.” They won’t admit that dating can be done with integrity or even that a lot of successful couples met and married through dating.

    Similarly if you leave their group they will paint a picture of how bad things are at all other groups and what can happen to you etc. and conclude that you only have two options. One is to stay in the group and be strong productive etc. or to leave and backslide having all kinds of problems etc.

  118. Lea wrote:

    Steve240 wrote:
    This is Tiks post on their dating policy. They called it a revelation
    Funny how many people keep having these revelations? Gothard. Harris. A bunch of others I guess.

    I would have to say that for the two others I have not heard their “alternatives” described as a “revelation.” Perhaps with Gothard where with courtship you will hear that this is what the Bible claims to teach.

    Use of the word “revelation” means a lot more than just saying you have a “policy” of no dating etc. You are claiming that this was something revealed to you by God etc. Bob Weiner was teaching quite a passive approach to finding a spouse. On another of my blogs I comment here on the passage of scripture Bob Weiner used and point out that rather than be passive it could be quite proactive:

    https://ikdg.wordpress.com/2008/01/12/issac-rebekah’s-story-proactive-or-passive/

  119. Every time I start thinking about Maranatha, and particularly about the dating policy and the shepherding, I say a prayer of thanksgiving that I don’t have to deal with that BS anymore.

  120. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    I really appreciate the effort to preserve Tikie’s memories. They read like a novel, or maybe a movie. Like the polar opposite of Animal House. I keep wondering what happened to the characters, especially “Ellen.” Her instincts seemed really sharp, especially for a college kid.
    I can understand how Tikie overlooked some of his red flags. At that age, they just don’t seem as “red.” It takes some real pain and regret to get most of us to pay attention to the red flags in life. I certainly missed a lot of them.
    I didn’t arrive at Murray State until 1982, and I can’t recall a Maranatha House anywhere. I’m still wondering where it was. MCM seems to have had just disappeared in most places, leaving a lots of hurt people behind, and a few odd churches.

    Around the beginning of 1982 Maranatha felt a “call” to nationwide. Before that they only had groups in the Southeast. They started in Paducah KY and then on to a number of college campuses. This push to all of a sudden go nationwide was what I would call their entering in the stage of “unrestrained growth.”

    When the group decided to go nationwide the would shut down some of the existing groups they had and the people would typically move to these other areas outside the south to where they were expanding.

    This may explain why you never saw them at Murray state. The group disbanded (some would call implode) in the early 90’s. A lot of their local groups closed. A certain number that didn’t close formed a new group eventually called Every Nation that some will say is how Maranatha continued and the group supposedly has many of the same practices that Maranatha had though they will claim they have changed.

  121. If you read read Tiki’s Post 29 “Heart of Stone” he says this at the end:

    You see, I have come to the realization that almost everything I did in MCM was for selfish and ungodly reasons, but done in the name of The Kingdom of God.

    That is quite something to say that his actions while in Maranatha were almost always for “selfish” or “ungodly” reasons.

  122. @ Steve240:

    A lot of what is patterned in campus ministries today (I am younger than most who typcially post here, I think :)) are more subtle, more covert expressions of residue leftover but still stirring from the Shepherding movement. I don’t think it has fully gone away as makes sense from a sociological/group cycle of how things take awhile to cycle out through “generations”. But as the beginning of this post reminds, history will repeat itself if we don’t learn!

    In some groups it is making a come back. There is enough distance for people to start forgetting how bad and damaging that movement was and what the root issues were. People my age or younger were born at the end of the Shepherding Movement or totally after its hey-day – so the timing makes a lot of sense for it to start resurfacing again. Though it will express itself and look different in response to the present times and cultural issues.

    When I read your’s/those who post here/Tik Tok’s I am slowly working through – your college experience in the 60’s-80’s, I am fascinated how much I and others I know in their 20’s and 30’s who can relate to the stories! But I also feel like I am on the outside peering in as I think about what was going on in the world at that time – how that manifested particular issues you all were facing.

  123. @ ishy:

    I agree. I think 9Marks and a lot of the Neo-Cal theological assumptions and sociology and their patterns as regurgitating and recreating the Shepherding Movement. (They would likely not be happy with me for saying that.)

    The Neo-Cal movement has a huge influence over many campus ministries. 9Marks is more oriented toward 20somethings/young professionals and older and focuses on churches of course. But it has some overlap and influence a bit into campus ministy and definitely church college ministry life. I see it all the time.

  124. @ emily honey:
    There are the get-rich-quick schemes, we know. Pyramids, ponzis, etc. “Follow me” to “the good life”, to the inner circle, to the power core, to the Beautiful People Crowd. Be elite, now.

    Is it possible some of these faith movements mimic, as get-spiritual-quick, springboard to the top, highest-ranking in Heaven schemes?

  125. Muff Potter wrote:

    I heard somewhere that you can only have your cake, butcha’ can’t eat it too.

    Well, if you are careful with how slice it, before you bite into it you can in fact halve your cake AND eat it too.

    Sorry for that…

  126. emily honey wrote:

    The Neo-Cal movement has a huge influence over many campus ministries.

    No doubt about it. In my area, New Calvinists target communities with colleges. They are planting churches near campus and have active outreach ministries to attract college students. You say, that’s nothing new Max – churches in college towns have always done that. True, but the New Calvinists are more aggressive in their efforts and present an exciting, new & improved way of doing church that is attracting youth. When you tell young folks that you have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the gospel that the rest of the church has lost, you get their attention.

  127. emily honey wrote:

    I think 9Marks and a lot of the Neo-Cal theological assumptions and sociology and their patterns as regurgitating and recreating the Shepherding Movement.

    A somewhat new movement to look at is 3DM and The Order of Mission – both organizations started by Mike Breen. He is becoming a big name in discipleship and the missional community movement. 3DM is not very big yet, but it seems to be gaining traction. My advice: run.

  128. Max wrote:

    No doubt about it. In my area, New Calvinists target communities with colleges.

    I posted this comment on the May 26 TWW post about The Founders:

    When I first started investigating New Calvinism a couple of years ago I was wondering if I was becoming some kind of a conspiracy theorists. Could all of the connections be true? Then I pulled a thread on Founders after learning about Founders here at TWW. Dr Stan Reeves is the Founders webmaster. He also founded Grace Heritage Church in Auburn, AL. That church is listed on the TGC and 9Marks church directories. He is one of two elders at the church, and has close ties with 9Marks (the church’s website has links to 9Marks articles). He is also one of the leaders and speakers for the Auburn University Christian Faculty Network. He is surprisingly public with his personal information: http://www.eng.auburn.edu/~sjreeves/personal/ (I’ve always been trained to not put so much personally identifiable information on the web). His personal philosophy link highlights his identity as a Christian Hedonist and his deep indebtedness to John Piper. The links among all these New-Calvinist ministries are very clear through “ministries” such as this. I wonder if the same thing is happening at other universities. In this case I just followed a very well laid out trail. I did not feel like looking into other universities – this one example gave me more info than I wanted to know. In any case, links like this make it easy to believe in the conspiracy.

    Yes, they are definitely targeting the college crowd.

  129. Max wrote:

    True, but the New Calvinists are more aggressive in their efforts and present an exciting, new & improved way of doing church that is attracting youth. When you tell young folks that you have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the gospel that the rest of the church has lost, you get their attention.

    Get them on-fire for the Big Mass Movement that WILL Reshape the World.

    “TOMORROW BELONGS TO ME…”
    — Cabaret

  130. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    the Navs had a reputation for lotsa flunkouts and burnouts

    I did not manage to flunk out of the Navs until after I was married. In hindsight, my wife rescued me.

  131. JYJames wrote:

    @ emily honey:
    There are the get-rich-quick schemes, we know. Pyramids, ponzis, etc. “Follow me” to “the good life”, to the inner circle, to the power core, to the Beautiful People Crowd. Be elite, now.

    Is it possible some of these faith movements mimic, as get-spiritual-quick, springboard to the top, highest-ranking in Heaven schemes?

    Not just “possible”, I’m certain of it.

    Amway (the best-known MLM/legal pyramid scheme) uses God-talk and Revival Meeting motivational shtick.

    And Campus Crusade had its “Multiplying Ministry” idea, which always struck me as structured just like a pyramid scheme. Especially when you added a common belief at that time and place that God would Judge(TM) you only on the number of converts you made.(Much later, I learned Bill Bright had started out as a salesman. I was not surprised.)

  132. Hello all, I am the ‘Matt’ of Matt and Allie in the story. If you have any questions I can piece some things together. It was not a time that was easily forgotten. Tik and I were, and are, good friends. I’m hoping we can meet him at an Auburn football game sometime in the future!

  133. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    3DM and The Order of Mission – both organizations started by Mike Breen

    under Mike Breen, wikipedia article:

    “In January, 2014 Breen spoke in a leadership event to the multi-thousand member North Heights Lutheran Church, which sparked concerns leading to the April, 2014 decision of the elder board to remove 3DM completely from the church, and publishing at length the reasons for their decision. Among those reasons attributed to 3DM were that, “worship attendance has dropped off dramatically,” and a corresponding drop in giving, along with staff cuts.[15]”

  134. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    they are definitely targeting the college crowd

    As opposed to traditional churches in a community, which reach out to all demographics and have ministries for multi-generations. New Calvinism is focused on a generational shift in the American church … the new reformation is all about making reformed theology the default belief and practice across the nation by reaching and indoctrinating youth. They don’t really give a big whoop about older folks – the 60+ are not the church of tomorrow.

  135. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    A somewhat new movement to look at is 3DM and The Order of Mission – both organizations started by Mike Breen.

    Did I mention before I actually knew that guy? babysat for his kids a bit. So this is fascinating.

  136. Steve240 wrote:

    Similarly if you leave their group they will paint a picture of how bad things are at all other groups and what can happen to you etc. and conclude that you only have two options. One is to stay in the group and be strong productive etc. or to leave and backslide having all kinds of problems etc.

    This was very true I’m the church I left. There was a huge ‘us and them’ mentality where every other church was off, one way or another, and if you left, you would miss what God was teaching and regress into spiritual infancy and be almost surely led into deception….oh, the irony. 🙁

  137. Max wrote:

    Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:
    they are definitely targeting the college crowd
    As opposed to traditional churches in a community, which reach out to all demographics and have ministries for multi-generations. New Calvinism is focused on a generational shift in the American church … the new reformation is all about making reformed theology the default belief and practice across the nation by reaching and indoctrinating youth. They don’t really give a big whoop about older folks – the 60+ are not the church of tomorrow.

    Absolutely. They got a jump on the youth too by being very savvy on the internet. They flooded it with neo cal websites, articles, sermons and so forth.
    Most older congregations were slow to realize how powerful a tool that would become. Speaking for myself, I didn’t own a computer until 1998, and constantly had to ask my children how to navigate it.

  138. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    I did not manage to flunk out of the Navs until after I was married. In hindsight, my wife rescued me.

    Sounds like you have an Ezer Kenegdo in her. A powerful ally. Mrs. Muff is the same to me.

  139. @ Steve240:
    Good friends of mine attend a Every Nation church and tried to get me “plugged in” to their campus ministry.

    Love my friends but that church gave me some weird vibes (granted I have a very sensitive radar to such things). But when I learned the link between Maranatha Ministries and Every Nation I wasn’t surprised.

    My other friend who knows part of the story calls them the “cult affiliate” church.

    Things like tithing and how they always spend all their free time with each other were the key alarm bells to me. Weird stuff.

  140. JYJames wrote:

    @ Mark:
    Thanks for sharing, connecting.

    Tik wrote a riveting story without exaggeration. I think what helped him piece it all together is a lifelong habit of keeping a journal. What makes his writing so interesting is that many lived with all these internal battles but were not allowed to express them.

  141. Mae wrote:

    very savvy on the internet

    Without cyberspace, the New Calvinist movement would not exist … and we wouldn’t have a vehicle to sound an alarm about it. Watchbloggers have come into the world for such a time as this!

  142. Mark wrote:

    Hello all, I am the ‘Matt’ of Matt and Allie in the story. If you have any questions I can piece some things together. It was not a time that was easily forgotten. Tik and I were, and are, good friends. I’m hoping we can meet him at an Auburn football game sometime in the future!

    Welcome Mark. Glad to see you here.

    A while back I corresponded with Tiki and since I knew “Rikki” he let me know who Rikki actually was. Nice reading the blog now and knowing who one person was at least.

  143. Mark wrote:

    JYJames wrote:
    @ Mark:
    Thanks for sharing, connecting.
    Tik wrote a riveting story without exaggeration. I think what helped him piece it all together is a lifelong habit of keeping a journal. What makes his writing so interesting is that many lived with all these internal battles but were not allowed to express them.

    My understanding is that Tiki tried to be as accurate as possible.

    What is something is that in a private Maranatha group the vocal people in that group scrutinized and tried to discredit Tiki’s blog. Then you have someone who wrote a book titled “Raising Jesus” about Maranatha with most of the bad about the group left out and that book was given little scrutiny.

  144. emily honey wrote:

    The Neo-Cal movement has a huge influence over many campus ministries. 9Marks is more oriented toward 20somethings/young professionals and older and focuses on churches of course.

    Tomzak brought Maranatha theology into SGM, Mahaney partnered with Dever to merge SGM theology with 9Marks theology. They are a theological odd couple, for sure, but there must be a good reason that Dever was willing to throw the entire 9Marks program overboard to shield Mahaney, and I think the only reasonable explanation is that they formed a partnership sometime around 1997 or 1998 when Mahaney had his conversion to Reformed theology and Dever started adopting the SGM franchise model for 9Marks.

  145. Steve240 wrote:

    Mark wrote:

    JYJames wrote:
    @ Mark:
    Thanks for sharing, connecting.
    Tik wrote a riveting story without exaggeration. I think what helped him piece it all together is a lifelong habit of keeping a journal. What makes his writing so interesting is that many lived with all these internal battles but were not allowed to express them.

    My understanding is that Tiki tried to be as accurate as possible.

    What is something is that in a private Maranatha group the vocal people in that group scrutinized and tried to discredit Tiki’s blog. Then you have someone who wrote a book titled “Raising Jesus” about Maranatha with most of the bad about the group left out and that book was given little scrutiny.

    Tik sent a number of his chapters to me before release, especially the ones concerning me and my wife. He was meticulous about getting things right. I rarely recall correcting anything he wrote, but if anything I might have added a bit to a certain incident.

  146. Lise wrote:

    calls them the “cult affiliate” church

    cult adjacent, cult approaching, cult proximity

    OTOH, there are dynasties with a single prince, plain and simple. The Gospel according to ….

    A key may be the spirit of overreach, in whatever form. Matthew 23, Luke 11: Jesus said, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders,” in contrast to, “My burden is easy, my yoke is light,” which Jesus also said.

  147. Muff Potter wrote:

    I heard somewhere that you can only have your cake, butcha’ can’t eat it too.

    That’s complete nonsense. Just what I’d expect on this site.

    Yesterday, I had cake. Then I ate it. It’s perfectly simple.

    You’re all rubbish.

    Up Yours,

    Roger Bombast

  148. Lea wrote:

    God told me to eat some cake this weekend 😉

    Cake was one of My better ideas, if I say so Myself. Bon appetit…

    Best regards,

    God

  149. A few other things about Maranatha.

    Maranatha was another “hotel California” where they would teach how wrong it was to leave the group. Bob Weiner would get mad at members still in Maranatha for talking with those who left the group even if those who left were attending other churches. Bob Weiner would call them “covenant breakers.”

    It was as if Bob Weiner had a right to people staying in the group for life. Sadly I doubt Bob Weiner ever considered asking himself why these people were leaving. I am sure Bob never considered his heavy handed shepherding might we why they left.

    It was one group leaving that one person compares to the shot fired at Fort Sumter that began the groups downfall. One regional leader gave permission for this group to leave and Bob Weiner was outraged that someone would allow this. This caused this regional leader to also retire.

    One person told me that use of the term “covenant breaker” sounded like he was going back to the Old Testament.

    Another item of interest is that the group would take up offerings from regular members to start churches at new locations. Corporate Maranatha would then loan This money to groups starting a local church. Corporate would demand that this money be paid back (probably so they could loan it to others to start other branches). In addition to loan repayment, corporate demanded that each branch “tithe” 10% of their income to corporate.

    These financial demands on their local churches was quite a heavy tax and burden.

    The Maranatha system sure sounds like quite the “franchise” system.

  150. @ Gram3:
    I could never understand the lengths they went to in order to protect Mahaney (and still do) except that T4G is big business for them. My guess is that it is a contractural issue and a source of income for Mahaney. His hotel church is certainly not raking in the dollars. Mohler made sure some of Mahaneys fleeing entourage had jobs/opportunities at SBTS. It is no small feat to get 6000 young men to come every two years to the gathering. The last one, they had to ignore the SGM protestors over child molestation. I could never understand the protection of the giggly, overly fawning, uneducated Mahaney by these guys. Arrogance? A business relationship? In too deep? It never added up for me.

    I have been a bit amazed at the enduring aspects of the shepherding cult strategy. Once it was mainstreamed and had the backing of long time and respected institutions wth a leader like Mohler, it became normalized. Group think works. Grab the young before their frontal cortex matures!

    Reading Tiks story this aspect jumped out at me when his parents and the BSU guy met with him. Today, the BSU guy would be part of the SBC Mohler/Dever shepherding cult apparatus….. although a lowly peon.

  151. Lydia wrote:

    I could never understand the protection of the giggly, overly fawning, uneducated Mahaney by these guys. Arrogance? A business relationship? In too deep? It never added up for me.

    I think there was business but it would have been easier and probably more profitable to dump him at that point. So I think it’s either personal or the sheer arrogance of not caring what others think and protecting gods anointed.

    The scary third possibility, which i can no longer discount, is that they are mostly all protecting or have protected so many molesters that they need to set a precedent.

  152. I read Tikie’s blog when he first posted it about 10 years ago. I agree that he did not exaggerate. Maranatha really was that controlling.

    I was never a member of Maranatha, but I was a student at the University of Florida when Maranatha arrived in 1978. My brother and many of my Christian friends joined and I saw up close what was going on. They initially drew people in with their good-looking and skilled musicians and the super-charisma of their leaders. After the members were hooked, they used fear and guilt manipulation to keep them.

    If you never experienced it, you probably don’t appreciate the huge power they had with the overwhelming emotional pull of their combination of over-the-top music, challenging idealistic preaching, and extreme love bombing in the tight knit community they offered.

    I have never seen anything quite like it anywhere else. They could have been an enormous force for good but they badly went astray.

  153. Here is a quote from Tikie’s story of meeting Bob Weiner:

    The short guy, Bob stared at me with those amazing blue eyes.

    Albert Spear, the young architect, and later Nazi wartime armaments Minister, described his first meeting with Hitler in his book “Inside the Third Reich” like this: “I don’t remember exactly what he [Hitler] said to me but I do remember the eyes; staring, cold blue, sizing me up, looking into my soul, captivating me, and freeing me at the same time.”

    I will not try to improve on Spear’s prose; but I will tell you that I had a similar reaction to this meeting and, like Spear, recalled it afterwards as a very important event in my life [I still do]. Years later when I read Spear’s description of meeting Hitler for the first time it rang true to me because I had the exact same reaction that day meeting Bob Weiner for the first time.

    I felt a primal powerful presence and the sense of standing in front of a very special person. This visceral reaction to Bob occurred in split seconds and I reacted immediately to the force I felt coming from him. I imagine that a rat must feel this way when confronted by a cobra: fascinated and frightened at the same time.

  154. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    JYJames wrote:
    @ emily honey:
    There are the get-rich-quick schemes, we know. Pyramids, ponzis, etc. “Follow me” to “the good life”, to the inner circle, to the power core, to the Beautiful People Crowd. Be elite, now.
    Is it possible some of these faith movements mimic, as get-spiritual-quick, springboard to the top, highest-ranking in Heaven schemes?
    Not just “possible”, I’m certain of it.
    Amway (the best-known MLM/legal pyramid scheme) uses God-talk and Revival Meeting motivational shtick.
    And Campus Crusade had its “Multiplying Ministry” idea, which always struck me as structured just like a pyramid scheme. Especially when you added a common belief at that time and place that God would Judge(TM) you only on the number of converts you made.(Much later, I learned Bill Bright had started out as a salesman. I was not surprised.)

    The group I was in, the Crossroads Movement (later the Boston Movement), did EXACTLY the same thing. You were “saved to save others”. The more people you converted, the more “spiritual” you considered. And although we gave lip service to “fruit” as also being “fruit of the Spirit”, “fruit” was defined as “converts”. The “fruit” of Christians was other Christians. And John 15 clearly states that God cuts off every branch that bears no fruit.

  155. @ Lea:

    I thought of the whole arrogance “no one can touch us” aspect. There was a fawning article in our local press by a pretty lazy religion reporter who simply parrots what SBTS always tells him. The article appeared in the midst of the SGM thing coming to the huge climax and before CJ fled to Louisville. Mohler is quoted as extolling Mahanys virtues and spiritual greatness and also blaming bloggers who ‘just did not like his leadership’. Within a year, the article was deleted online. I think because as things grew worse for SGM, people kept linking to it to show the Mohler quotes. It became an embarrassment. So it’s gone. Yes, Mohler has had that kind of power here.

    But that is changing. He is laying low and desperately trying to change the whole narrative from Neo Cal to SJW. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out at the next T4G.

  156. Lea wrote:

    Right? Especially buttercream. Whipped icing comes from the other place.

    Mom was a pastry chef. One thing she showed me was to replace the butter with peanut butter.

    I try not to eat bowls of it.

  157. Lydia wrote:

    @
    Grab the young before their frontal cortex matures!

    This! It’s important to remember. My friend brings this up all the time. “Our frontal cortex wasn’t even fully developed yet!”

  158. @ emily honey:
    It’s a huge factor. I know most say that there isn’t anything to combat that but I disagree. Teaching the young to politely question what they are taught, rethink ‘the concept of authority in a Republic and in Christianity, beware of group think, beware of shame censoring, seek independent thinking, etc.

    we do just the opposite today. Everywhere.

  159. I’m looking up the brain and trying to remember the terms/where everything is located. Can’t remember where’s where and what’s what up there and what it is all doing. 🙂

    The frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until age 25, and the *pre*frontal cortex is the anterior part of the frontal lobe?

    Prefrontal cortex: “the gray matter of the anterior part of the frontal lobe that is highly developed in humans and plays a role in the regulation of complex cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning”

  160. @ Tina:

    Was this group also known as, International Church Of Christ? I grew up in the area and thought they had a church in Lexington Ma.
    I know they are still very active in trying to recruit college students. Presently, at least in the Boston area, they are well known as a cult.

  161. @ Lydia:

    True. I agree.

    College students get taken advantage of by older adults all the time. They are not there to control and live vicariously through. A lot of learning from a liberal or conservative agenda is codependent and stifling in form. So much weirdness/Orwellian stuff going on at different campuses today because of this. But some are seeing it and trying to transform it. This joint statement from Cornell West and Robert George with a ton of signatures of support of people from different ideologies is refreshing:

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/16/ideological-odd-couple-robert-george-and-cornel-west-issue-joint-statement-against

    There is also ego stroking, as Tik)ies story keeps pointing out.

    I remember hearing this in the 90s as a kids, and then the 2000s to now as a teen and young adult, as well. Though I am now at the age where people stop paying attention to you and fawning over your untapped future.

    There has always been the “God has a special plan for you”, “You will do great things for God” “I have never seen a generation like this! This is *the* generation!” mantras in church and general history it seems. And it will continue and keep cycling.

  162. @ emily honey:

    I had not seen that statement. Refreshing, indeed. Thanks for the link!

    It’s amazing how much of it is based on group acceptance. On average, People are pretty much ok one on one. But in a group, the dynamics often change drastically.

  163. ishy wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    Right? Especially buttercream. Whipped icing comes from the other place.

    Mom was a pastry chef. One thing she showed me was to replace the butter with peanut butter.

    I try not to eat bowls of it.

    Ooooh! That sounds good. Too bad I’m trying to lay off sweets at the moment or I might make some!

  164. Lydia wrote:

    I could never understand the lengths they went to in order to protect Mahaney (and still do) except that T4G is big business for them. My guess is that it is a contractural issue and a source of income for Mahaney. His hotel church is certainly not raking in the dollars. Mohler made sure some of Mahaneys fleeing entourage had jobs/opportunities at SBTS.

    I don’t do crossword puzzles, but I do like to do people puzzles, and this one fascinates me because the facts which played out do not make sense within the 9Marks system. And, furthermore, Mohler’s joking behavior makes a mockery of common decency and, worse yet, of Southern manners. So I think that what happened goes back to the mid 90’s when they made their deal. Then things went south with SGM. The choices then became limited. I think they decided to hang together with Mahaney and hope that they could get him through it with minimal damage to them *personally* as well as to their enterprise (conflated with the gospel, of course.) If they cut him loose, he might tell some inconvenient stories (with documents) about the mid 1990’s and how it all go started with Dever and Mohler. That might prove very damaging to them personally. However, if there had not been any personal deal-making, then cutting Mahaney loose in the wake of the SGM scandal would *not* have affected their personal brands *or* their corporate brands nearly so much. One of the fatal mistakes they made, IMO, was the whole T4g band of brothers schtick. And, of course, there are the Crossway publishing contracts that have not seen the light of day which probably would explain a lot of this compromised behavior.

  165. BoughtTheField wrote:

    I felt a primal powerful presence and the sense of standing in front of a very special person. This visceral reaction to Bob occurred in split seconds and I reacted immediately to the force I felt coming from him.

    I browse The Atlantic site and came across this video about a non-Christian cult. At about the 1:25 mark, the description is remarkably the same:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/501413/life-and-death-of-a-cult/

    Incidentally, this is about smart, accomplished people who wonder how they got caught up in a cult. It is about 16 minutes long.

  166. Gram3 wrote:

    So I think that what happened goes back to the mid 90’s when they made their deal. Then things went south with SGM. The choices then became limited. I think they decided to hang together with Mahaney and hope that they could get him through it with minimal damage to them *personally* as well as to their enterprise (conflated with the gospel, of course.) If they cut him loose, he might tell some inconvenient stories (with documents) about the mid 1990’s and how it all go started with Dever and Mohler. That might prove very damaging to them personally. However, if there had not been any personal deal-making, then cutting Mahaney loose in the wake of the SGM scandal would *not* have affected their personal brands *or* their corporate brands nearly so much.

    I agree. And the fleeing to Louisville after being exonerated by Truman and others, then hanging with Dever suddenly took on an even more desperate tone as if CJ were owed something more than just a basic “he’s my brother”, defense. I wonder if they knew about his blackmail of Tomzak? Frankly, this is a situation that must never be forgotten as they try desperately to “move on, nothing to see here, old news”.

    Institutionalizing and normalizing corruption.

  167. BoughtTheField wrote:

    If you never experienced it, you probably don’t appreciate the huge power they had with the overwhelming emotional pull of their combination of over-the-top music, challenging idealistic preaching, and extreme love bombing in the tight knit community they offered.
    I have never seen anything quite like it anywhere else. They could have been an enormous force for good but they badly went astray.

    Now that is a very true statement. Had top leadership not been as arrogant as they were and if Bob Weiner followed most of his own teaching Maranatha would have been used for something quite good. It is a sad story.

    There certainly multiple warnings and signs that the leadership chose to ignore. “Hubris of success” is one way to put the group’s arrogance .

  168. Mae wrote:

    @ Tina:
    Tina, if you don’t mind me asking, where was the Crossroads Movement located in MA.?

    The Crossroads movement began in Gainesville FL around 1967 at the Crossroads Church of Christ (and the U of F) with leader Chuck Lucas. Then around 1979 his disciple Kip McKean (who’d taken over after some indiscretions on the part of Lucas) took over the Lexington COC and the Boston Movement eventually became the ICOC when they officially split from old-fashioned Churches of Christ in 1993. In 2001/2002 the ICOC tossed McKean out and he then began the new, improved Sold Out Discipling movement, or ICC.

  169. This is part of what Tiki said in his post on “False Prophets:”

    If a “sheep” or rank and file had spoken up they would have been labeled as “bitter” and/or “devisive” and before you could shout out “ Shaballaba” they would have been subject to having a “spirit” cast out of them and told to repent.

    And if that did not work they would have been declared apostate and thrown out of Maranatha and suffer the loss both participating in God’s end time mission and what for all purposes was their family.

    Sadly leadership in Maranatha were always quick to “turn the tables” when someone pointed out an issue or disagreed with with them. Rarely would a leader take it into consideration in my experience and even more rare for the leader to admit it was a problem.

    If nothing else if they were a lower level leader (like on a college campus) this leader trying to bring the same point up to those “over them in the Lord” would be subject to the same scrutiny. Hence they produced a very conforming non questioning type of group. People of that type were either attracted and developed and those who didn’t “conform” were forced out.

  170. BoughtTheField wrote:

    The short guy, Bob stared at me with those amazing blue eyes

    BoughtTheField wrote:

    I felt a primal powerful presence and the sense of standing in front of a very special person. This visceral reaction to Bob occurred in split seconds and I reacted immediately to the force I felt coming from him. I imagine that a rat must feel this way when confronted by a cobra: fascinated and frightened at the same time.

    What an amazing observation. It would be interested to hear your experiences/impressions when first meeting someone like Bob or another manifestation of spiritual deception. Specifically, I’d like to know about the little things where the feeling can’t be objectively supported, but may or may not have been confirmed by later events.

  171. @ Dave A A:
    My interest in this is due to having a daughter in the ICOC for close to a decade now. More tomorrow if you’re interested.

  172. Dave A A wrote:

    @ Dave A A:
    My interest in this is due to having a daughter in the ICOC for close to a decade now. More tomorrow if you’re interested.

    Yes, interested.
    Did not realize the Boston Movement had it’s roots in Gainesville, Florida. That makes sense though, as there were not many COCs in New England.

  173. Gram3 wrote:

    And, furthermore, Mohler’s joking behavior makes a mockery of common decency and, worse yet, of Southern manners.

    Here is the sticking point for me. There are ways to talk about this that would show sensitivity and still support cj. (I’m not saying they would be right, but there are clearly better ways to talk about this) They didn’t talk that way at all though. They talked about it like child abuse in church is a laugh riot.

    That is BEYOND the pale to me. There is no way I can reconcile it…without thinking they truly don’t care, are complicit, etc. maybe you could say they believe it’s all lies but it still wouldn’t be funnny. And since someone was actually arrested iirc that makes no sense.

    I am only left with thinking they are terrible and dangerous people.

  174. Steve240 wrote:

    Maranatha was another “hotel California” where they would teach how wrong it was to leave the group. Bob Weiner would get mad at members still in Maranatha for talking with those who left the group even if those who left were attending other churches. ,b>Bob Weiner would call them “covenant breakers.”….

    In addition to loan repayment, corporate demanded that each branch “tithe” 10% of their income to corporate.
    These financial demands on their local churches was quite a heavy tax and burden.

    All cults have labels for people that leave their group. For those who left my former cult and started attending other churches, we were called “game players and told that we were ?playing church.”

    Initially in the Forever Family (my former cult) each of us gave a percentage out of our paycheck that we could afford. Mind you, we were living communally so we each pitched in for the rent, heat, etc. However, when the name was changed to The Church of Bible Understanding, the leader decided that we should hand in our entire paycheck and from that we would get an allowance, which turned out to be a pittance. Special requests for clothing had to be written out and handed in to the financial office. Then the requests were either approved or disapproved by those who worked in that department. I’ll never forget the time when a brother, who was in the line ahead of me, had made a request for underwear and was denied. He was shamed for indulging in his flesh because the few pair of underwear he already had should have been sufficient. Yeah…they asked him how many pairs of underwear he had, and decided for him that he didn’t need anymore than a few pair! Believe me, ya can’t make this stuff up. I’ve got lots more stories where that came from. 😉

  175. BoughtTheField wrote:

    They initially drew people in with their good-looking and skilled musicians and the super-charisma of their leaders. After the members were hooked, they used fear and guilt manipulation to keep them.

    If you never experienced it, you probably don’t appreciate the huge power they had with the overwhelming emotional pull of their combination of over-the-top music, challenging idealistic preaching, and extreme love bombing in the tight knit community they offered.
    I have never seen anything quite like it anywhere else.

    Believe me, the modus operandi of Maranatha was used by quite a few cults back in that day.
    Every cult has its supposed unique calling, it’s niche. For some it’s the cool preaching, or hyped-up praise music For others, the unique understanding they have of the Bible that NO ONE else has but them, i.e. – esoteric knowledge. For others it’s prophetic revelations about the End Times. You name it, they all have a gimmick. But they all use love bombing, at least initially. That’s to get you hooked in. Once you’re hooked, as you stated, the next tactic to prevent you from leaving is fear. They all use pretty much the same playbook.

  176. Tina wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    The group I was in, the Crossroads Movement (later the Boston Movement), did EXACTLY the same thing. You were “saved to save others”. The more people you converted, the more “spiritual” you considered. And although we gave lip service to “fruit” as also being “fruit of the Spirit”, “fruit” was defined as “converts”. The “fruit” of Christians was other Christians. And John 15 clearly states that God cuts off every branch that bears no fruit.

    Yep, HUG. The same for my former cult. When we attended the large Big Meetings where all the local fellowships were present, we had to give an account of how many people were “saved.” Those fellowships that had low numbers were shamed, while the ones with high numbers were praised. While at the training center in Manhattan, at one point each person had to raise their hand if they had led someone to Jesus.. This was a tactic used to shame those who had been derelict in their duty of witnessing.

  177. Steve240 wrote:

    Sadly leadership in Maranatha were always quick to “turn the tables” when someone pointed out an issue or disagreed with with them. Rarely would a leader take it into consideration in my experience and even more rare for the leader to admit it was a problem.

    Well, of course. Sinful questioning. Rebelliousness. Insubordination. In one of our former churches, there were listening or feedback sessions. I do not believe that was because Leadership wanted to improve Leadership.

  178. @ Darlene:
    Playing church? That has been a big one used by the Neo Cal’s, too. Also church shopping. (What’s wrong with that, anyway?

  179. @ Darlene:
    Not just “cults” do that… Campus Crusade, now CRU, at least many years ago, kept track of how many people you “witness” to… or more comonly went through Bill Bright’s 4 spiritual laws track.. and they shamed people that did not do enough… People “on staff” had to report the numbers back to their “boss”

    my IFB did that also.. This is a very common behavior of IFB, and conservative evangelicals..

  180. emily honey wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    @
    Grab the young before their frontal cortex matures!
    This! It’s important to remember. My friend brings this up all the time. “Our frontal cortex wasn’t even fully developed yet!”

    And now consider why Quiverful folks and Patriarchalists want females to marry when they’re young, often at 18 yrs. old or before.

  181. Darlene wrote:

    Yep, HUG. The same for my former cult. When we attended the large Big Meetings where all the local fellowships were present, we had to give an account of how many people were “saved.” Those fellowships that had low numbers were shamed, while the ones with high numbers were praised.

    i.e. Who’s Got The Best Sales Records. The bigger your Sales, the better your bonus from your boss.

    “ABC — Always be Closing.”

  182. Darlene wrote:

    For others, the unique understanding they have of the Bible that NO ONE else has but them, i.e. – esoteric knowledge

    In Koine Greek, OCCULT GNOSIS.
    Occult = Hidden, Secret; Gnosis = Knowledge.

  183. Mark wrote:

    Hello all, I am the ‘Matt’ of Matt and Allie in the story. If you have any questions I can piece some things together. It was not a time that was easily forgotten. Tik and I were, and are, good friends. I’m hoping we can meet him at an Auburn football game sometime in the future!

    Mark

    I would be interested in corresponding with you. You could post a message on my blog and I would get your email address that way.

  184. Gram3 wrote:

    Well, of course. Sinful questioning. Rebelliousness. Insubordination. In one of our former churches, there were listening or feedback sessions. I do not believe that was because Leadership wanted to improve Leadership.

    So you think they had these sessions to identify who the people were with issues including the ones who would question? It wouldn’t surprise me if that was why those leaders did that.

    The more a group moves towards being a cult like group the more insecure the are about people who question. My guess is they will either see if ther is a way they can bully the person to stop questioning or force the person out of the group.

  185. Robert M wrote:

    Every time I start thinking about Maranatha, and particularly about the dating policy and the shepherding, I say a prayer of thanksgiving that I don’t have to deal with that BS anymore

    One thing to realize is that a fairly similar “dating policy” that SGM imposed and a lot of other groups imposed was “kissing dating goodbye” and “courtship.” It was a little different in what they taught but a similar controlling affect.

  186. Lydia wrote:

    @ emily honey:
    It’s a huge factor. I know most say that there isn’t anything to combat that but I disagree. Teaching the young to politely question what they are taught, rethink ‘the concept of authority in a Republic and in Christianity, beware of group think, beware of shame censoring, seek independent thinking, etc.
    we do just the opposite today. Everywhere.

    I agree that it seems like people are less apt to question and think for themselves. What a shame and I wonder what sad type of culture this is going to produce if it continues. In one of my blog posts I share a story written by someone on the need to think for yourself (not my story but I share it here):

    https://ikdg.wordpress.com/2007/12/31/a-favorite-story-about-the-need-to-think-for-yourself/

    Unfortunately we don’t have leaders who take this approach like this king did in this story. Sadly many times leaders want people to tell them what they want to hear.

  187. Steve240 wrote:

    Mark

    I would be interested in corresponding with you. You could post a message on my blog and I would get your email address that way.

    Will do.

  188. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I was taught to “close the deal” also….. if you did not get them to pray the “the prayer”, while not necessarily “failing”, it was not really “good enough”
    I find it ironic since allot of Christ’s teachings were parables that you had to go away and think about for awhile, or for some of us more dense ones, a whole lifetime….

  189. Steve240 wrote:

    they will either see if ther is a way they can bully the person to stop questioning or force the person out of the group.

    I think the purpose was to make sure the influencers were staying on track with the program of the elders and that any potential “problems” were promptly brought to the attention of the elders.

  190. __

    “Bob Weiner?”

    hmmm…

    TWW does an excellent job advocating on behalf of justice and compassion for victims of churches and ministries that perpetuate spiritual abuse. Many thanks to you Steve240 as well in this earnest heart-wrenching endeavor.

    “In August, 1984, Christianity Today made public the report of an ad hoc committee of six cult-watching specialists who had been monitoring Maranatha’s activities in response to complaints. The report said the organization’s ‘authoritarian orientation’ had ‘potentially negative consequences for members.’ ” (1)

    A Christian organization with identifiably potentially negative consequences for its members?!?

    What?

    As Steve240 has stated elsewhere, this group (MCM) apparently de-evolved into an arrogant, authoritarian and legalistic environment; a university campus religious fellowship group to be avoided at all cost.

    It is my understanding, that within this said group (Maranatha Campus Ministries) there was exhibited in an often manner, a visible confusion between what is revealed in the holy scriptures and the authentication and application of prophetic utterances. This lack of biblical discernment often lead to precarious individual actions not necessarily sanctioned by God’s Holy Spirit, nor the revealed word of God (scripture). Furthermore, soon after an individual being involved with this group, simple participation apparently gave its leaders permission to ‘speak into’ every aspect or area of a group individual’s life, which predictably often led to disastrous results.

    At its peak in the mid-1970s, the shepherding movement (which MCM was a part) is said to have had as many as 150,000 followers. But several of the movements leaders later publicly admitted to excesses, including Bob Mumford, who later said in a statement that was widely circulated among charismatics that there had been an “unhealthy submission resulting in perverse and unbiblical obedience to human leaders.” (1)

    On perhaps a semi-related note, as some of you TWW readers may recall, it was ‘once’ held that present day apostles were being restored in the person of People Of Destiny/Sovereign Grace Ministries leaders. Apparently, their authority was always final. Those that showed the slightest dissent were summarily marked, recorded, shunned, ostracized, and ultimately eliminated from said fellowship. I believe some who comment here witnessed these excesses first hand. We have most certainly seen the extent of that group’s graphic errors, yes? Notice, it too started as a ‘harmless’ weekday fellowship. In the beginning, the weekly District of Columbia fellowship (Take & Give) showed absolutely no signs of authoritarian, lording over cultic funny business. It was simply a Charismatic leaning Christian fellowship where believers gathered to fellowship, sing songs, worship, and hear a faithful message taken generously from the well-worn pages of an open bible. Upon disbanding the fellowship, both Larry and C.J. decried the absence of ‘accountability’ as one of the most disturbing aspect of the weekly gathering. ‘Absent’ accountability doubled down, was later to ‘de-evolve’, in their ‘skillful’ hands, into an isolating, secretive, controlling, massively abusive cult-like group of intelligent delightfully gullible prodigiously tithing individuals ‘apparently’ methodically and professionally scammed, soaked and led by the nose, all under the cloaked guise of a ‘legit’ tax free 501(c)3 Maryland incorporated ‘non-religious’ organization. Sounds a bit harsh? Well just ask its prolific publically documented abuse victims.

    “Every year dedicated Christian people leave churches because of spiritual abuse [this is epidemic in our day]. What factors contribute to dedicated and active believers in Christ leaving their churches and becoming exiting statistics? The stories of people who left their home church because of a negative and hurtful experience [more often they are shown the front door] paint a picture of a widespread occurrence, which beckons consideration by church leaders and church congregants alike.” -Barb Orlowski

    “The church should lead the way in uncovering any of these dark behaviors.  The local church has an opportunity to be part of the solution and not part of the problem regarding these covert and dysfunctional issues in the church today. As more people understand what spiritual abuse is and what it is not, then there can be an army of people who are able to help in clarifying many of the confusing topics that get intertangled with this issue.” (-Barb Orlowski: What Spiritual Abuse Is and Is Not).

    “Blogs made it possible for people to compare notes and connect dots. Suddenly, the pixelated events result into high definition and the picture shows a breathtaking consistency. The stories contain striking uniformity in pastoral conversations and actions. They contain profound similarities in the emotional, spiritual, and psychological pain of those who have suffered. That set me to thinking. How was it possible that from state to state, even country to country, people could recount similar life events with stunningly consistent conversations, outcomes, and backlash? What ideas could produce such underlying fear, anxiety, and spiritual frustration?  What ironclad logic could cause masses of people to act out similar conduct that produces such invasive outcomes? What thoughts that lurk under the titles of authority would lead average men to believe they wield unchecked control over people’s lives?” – John Immel, Blight In The Vineyard: Exposing the Roots, Myths, and Emotional Torment of Spiritual Tyranny

    Woe to the unsuspecting, huh?

    (sadface)

    The price of religious freedom is eternal vigilance?

    hmmm…

    Could b.

    Sòpy

    😉

    ___
    (1) http://articles.latimes.com/1990-03-24/entertainment/ca-667_1_charismatic-leader

    *

    Additional Notes:

    Bio: Robert T. Weiner- CNP Board of Governors, 1984,1988, member 1996, 1998; Apostolic Church leader and charismatic evangelical speaker for more than thirty years; Weiner Ministries International, “Our vision is to see a cell church planted on every university campus in the world.”; was president, Maranatha Campus Ministries, Christian Youth International; Editor/publisher, The Forerunner ; of the shepherding groups; planted over 100 campus and youth-related fellowships and churches throughout the world , “preaching of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His Dominion in the earth. Maranatha’s vision was to plant a New Testament Church on every major university campus in the world.”; Executive Board member of  International Charismatic Bible Ministries >http://www.oru.edu/icbm/index.html (ICBM), Accelerating International Mission Strategies (AIMS) >http://www.aims.org/, North American Congresses On The Holy Spirit And World Evangelism [Catholic Charismatic], The Executive Committee for Mission America, and China Harvest and China Campus Outreach. He is a member of The Council for National Policy and Paul Weyrich’s The International Policy Forum and is on Coalition for Revival’s (COR’s) Steering Committee. [http://www.reformation.net/cor/steeringcte.htm]  , member of Ed McAteer ‘s Religious Roundtable Council of 56.  > http://www.pir.org/gw/rrt.txt See: Religious Roundtable,Bob and Rose Weiner Ministries International, http://youthnow.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=29

  191. Just so everyone knows you can post comments to the revisited website being discussed here. You may need to click on the title of the blog a second time to be able to read and post comments to a particular blog entry.

  192. Mae wrote:

    Yes, interested.

    In my daughter’s experiences in the ICOC, discilpling AKA shepherding plays a big role, it doesn’t seem to be pyramidal with charasmatic leaders at the top. The thing which really affected her negatively until her marriage was the group control over dating, as with Maranatha and SGM mentioned above. Another thing which would be very traumatic will be if she decides to leave.

  193. Steve240 wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    The more a group moves towards being a cult like group the more insecure the are about people who question. My guess is they will either see if there is a way they can bully the person to stop questioning or force the person out of the group.

    Rick Warren gave church management the blueprint for this practice around here. “Assimilate or eliminate” is practiced, even in low level “Bible” churches. The minute you start questioning how and why things are done, or where “that thing” is in the Bible, the elimination process begins.

  194. @ Darlene:
    Darlene when I said that I hadn’t seen anything quite like Maranatha, I meant the effectiveness of their emotional persuasion. I agree there were others that used a similar playbook, but none of them compared to Maranatha in how powerful the emotional pull was. They were able to pull in strong, popular people who would never fall for another cult. Seriously, you would have to be there and feel it to understand. They made you feel like they had everything you ever wanted and nothing else mattered.

  195. BTW I speak from experience. I was in a church in Florida in the Shepherding Movement in the 1970s. I also attended Maranatha Campus Ministries. When my church fell apart in 1985 I moved to Maryland and joined CLC. I have also been to several other SGM churches.

  196. Mark wrote:

    Hello all, I am the ‘Matt’ of Matt and Allie in the story. If you have any questions I can piece some things together. It was not a time that was easily forgotten.

    Hi Mark! Good to run into you again. I haven’t been over on facebook for probably a couple of years now.

  197. @ Dave A A:
    Dave
    If you have not visited the Delphi Forum for ex ICOC you might find it of interest. Reading Tik’s account of discipleship and shepherding sessions in MCC and comparing these sessions to those recounted on the ICC board leaves on with a feeling that MCM and ICC must have somehow been connected in some fashion to the shepherding movement. This despite their theology being miles apart.

    The Editors

  198. BoughtTheField wrote:

    They made you feel like they had everything you ever wanted and nothing else mattered.

    Powerful. Seduction. “Love” bomb.
    That’s actually God Himself, not a ministry. Idolatry? Nothing, no one takes the place of God.

  199. A. Tumbleweed wrote:

    “Assimilate or eliminate” is practiced, even in low level “Bible” churches. The minute you start questioning how and why things are done, or where “that thing” is in the Bible, the elimination process begins.

    I hope that isn’t true of most Bible churches! Back before the turn of the past millennium, the ones I knew of were pretty easy-going. They had very detailed doctrinal statements and elders but no 9Marksy inquisitions or star chambers as far as I knew.

  200. A. Tumbleweed wrote:

    Rick Warren gave church management the blueprint for this practice around here. “Assimilate or eliminate” is practiced, even in low level “Bible” churches. The minute you start questioning how and why things are done, or where “that thing” is in the Bible, the elimination process begins.

    It has been my experience in both church and secular settings there are individuals who will ask questions, make a point, etc not to seek answers, but rather to “show-up” the instructor or try to impress the class with their knowledge. These individuals are disruptive and should be removed.

  201. Ken G wrote:

    It has been my experience in both church and secular settings there are individuals who will ask questions, make a point, etc not to seek answers, but rather to “show-up” the instructor or try to impress the class with their knowledge. These individuals are disruptive and should be removed.

    Well, in my view the issue is scrutiny and discernment. Management has the upper hand by default (in their own minds) when they think and act like a corporate pyramid is the Biblical structure of the local church. And when someone shines the light on their activities, using the light of The Word, then they begin a campaign of slander and abusive behavior against what is supposed to be a member of the “family”.

    In my experience, their ministry can’t stand up under even the most basic scrutiny. It’s easy to blame the questioner. Yet even us common folks can exercise discernment. We often do by walking out of the door.

    At that point, management calls his buddy in the next church to tell him about the people who just left, and how a couple of troublemakers are headed his way. And the cycle of abuse marches on. This is the blueprint of the Purpose Driven Church.

    Either you get on board with the vision casting man-o-gawd, or you get pushed off the train.

  202. Gram3 wrote:

    A. Tumbleweed wrote:

    “Assimilate or eliminate” is practiced, even in low level “Bible” churches. The minute you start questioning how and why things are done, or where “that thing” is in the Bible, the elimination process begins.

    I hope that isn’t true of most Bible churches! Back before the turn of the past millennium, the ones I knew of were pretty easy-going. They had very detailed doctrinal statements and elders but no 9Marksy inquisitions or star chambers as far as I knew.

    Sadly, it is around here. I have seen the same movie playing in several churches. All IFCA establishments. Generic Bible churches when the Bible has been replaced with the Purpose-Driven Church playbook. Sad.

    (And yes, I have often asked myself, and asked others for an honest evaluation, if I am the problem. I have been assured that I am not, and that they see the same things. Yet for some odd reason (Stockholm Syndrome?) they stay and I leave. Go figure.)

  203. Ken G wrote:

    It has been my experience in both church and secular settings there are individuals who will ask questions, make a point, etc not to seek answers, but rather to “show-up” the instructor or try to impress the class with their knowledge. These individuals are disruptive and should be removed.

    Actually, professors and teachers deal with this on a daily basis: move along the curriculum or syllabus and include discourse. Normally, no one is removed, but the professor is definitely on their toes in managing the discourse. It’s a high level skill – pastors would do well to learn such skills. A church, in theory anyway, is not a business. Assimilate or eliminate makes sense in a business culture but not education or church, it seems.

    Back in the day at L’Abri in Switzerland, Schaeffer always addressed the critical thinking of youth and no one was eliminated. That is why he established L’Abri. He said the church was not answering their questions. Church was my way or the highway.

    However, Schaeffer tells of when he would reach an impasse with a student over theological or philosophical semantics and they were having coffee. Schaeffer would ask, “Please pass the sugar,” and the student obliged. “There,” Schaeffer would say, “I knew we were communicating.” In the end, Schaeffer would say, were underlying issues, like morals, for example. “The student was interested in God but didn’t want to give up their lifestyle.”

  204. JYJames wrote:

    Ken G wrote:

    It has been my experience in both church and secular settings there are individuals who will ask questions, make a point, etc not to seek answers, but rather to “show-up” the instructor or try to impress the class with their knowledge. These individuals are disruptive and should be removed.

    Actually, professors and teachers deal with this on a daily basis: move along the curriculum or syllabus and include discourse. Normally, no one is removed, but the professor is definitely on their toes in managing the discourse. It’s a high level skill – pastors would do well to learn such skills. A church, in theory anyway, is not a business. Assimilate or eliminate makes sense in a business culture but not education or church, it seems.

    Back in the day at L’Abri in Switzerland, Schaeffer always addressed the critical thinking of youth and no one was eliminated. That is why he established L’Abri. He said the church was not answering their questions. Church was my way or the highway.

    However, Schaeffer tells of when he would reach an impasse with a student over theological or philosophical semantics and they were having coffee. Schaeffer would ask, “Please pass the sugar,” and the student obliged. “There,” Schaeffer would say, “I knew we were communicating.” In the end, Schaeffer would say, were underlying issues, like morals, for example. “The student was interested in God but didn’t want to give up their lifestyle.”

    Why is it that the student’s morals are always in question, but the management’s morals are not?

    Behind closed doors one usually hears the same things over and over again. “It’s just semantics”, or “there is hidden and unconfessed sin in your life.” Whenever the light is shined on a corrupt organization (Like Maranatha, Boston C of C, a local, two-bit, Podunk Bible church, et. al.) management likes to blur the issues and call the integrity, moral fiber, education, discernement, and eventually salvation of the questioner into question. Protect the organization is the mission of management.

    Pure corporate thinking.

  205. A. Tumbleweed wrote:

    Sadly, it is around here. I have seen the same movie playing in several churches. All IFCA establishments

    I think that the Gospel Glitterati is the Spirit of the Age now. Conformity is enforced out of insecurity or perhaps something worse.

  206. BoughtTheField wrote:

    They were able to pull in strong, popular people who would never fall for another cult.

    Exactly. As a young married couple, we were simply looking for a church in Auburn with folks our age who were ‘on fire’. The requirements for attendance, offerings, etc came with the package of being around all these ‘cool kids’. The ‘total commitment’ card was thrown often. Yes, red flags went off all the time, but we had never been around a group of people like this.

  207. Mae wrote:

    Did ICOC choose her husband? Is he also in ICOC. Was she brought up in a regular church of faith?
    Sorry, lots of questions.

    No. But she had to bring him into the church to study the Bible and be properly baptized before it was ok to date him. So he’s been in it just a couple years– after awhile once the group approved they could officially date. Unlike patriarchy my input was unneeded. He’s a good man and asked her parents before actually proposing, but the church wouldn’t have cared about that. She was brought up in regular churches and baptized by the wrong hands, necessitating re-baptism upon becoming an official disciple. Our son-in-law has a much wider circle of friends and family (including a new granddaughter, just to give you an idea that they’re not kids) and I hope this will help lead them out.

  208. Gram3 wrote:

    I think that the Gospel Glitterati is the Spirit of the Age now. Conformity is enforced out of insecurity or perhaps something worse.

    Couldn’t agree more.

  209. A. Tumbleweed wrote:

    “Assimilate or eliminate” is practiced, even in low level “Bible” churches. The minute you start questioning how and why things are done, or where “that thing” is in the Bible, the elimination process begins.

    Groupthink locks in and all Heretics and Dissidents are Purged from The One True Way.

    This usually happens around an 80% majority.
    (Which is why all the 80-81% majorities in various election polls last November disturbed me.)

  210. @ Dave A A:

    Thank you for sharing that.
    I’m so sorry your, not so young, daughter
    Has been hoodwinked by this group.
    Heartbreaking for you, I’m sure. Still, there is always hope with the Lord of circumstances changing. Perhaps it will be that baby which causes their mind, their heart, to open to the truth.

  211. JYJames wrote:

    Ken G wrote:
    It has been my experience in both church and secular settings there are individuals who will ask questions, make a point, etc not to seek answers, but rather to “show-up” the instructor or try to impress the class with their knowledge. These individuals are disruptive and should be removed.

    Actually, professors and teachers deal with this on a daily basis: move along the curriculum or syllabus and include discourse.

    Why is the professor bothered if students have knowledge? I agree there is a way to do it that is ‘disruptive’ but a good teacher will probably include a spot for dialogue and if the students knows something, they will not be threatened by that! Students are supposed to learn things. People in church ought to know things if they are adults, sometimes more than a teacher!

    No one is disruptive just because they know something, or have a different opinion, though.

  212. Lea wrote:

    Why is the professor bothered if students have knowledge? I agree there is a way to do it that is ‘disruptive’ but a good teacher will probably include a spot for dialogue and if the students knows something, they will not be threatened by that! Students are supposed to learn things. People in church ought to know things if they are adults, sometimes more than a teacher!
    No one is disruptive just because they know something, or have a different opinion, though.

    There certainly can be people that ask questions etc. only with intent to be disruptive vs. others that have different points of view that they wish to share and get someone with a different opinion to share their opinion. My experience with someone who is threatened by a person with a differing opinion is that they are insecure in their own opinion. My theory isn’t always right but certainly more the case than not.

    When I was in college a few decades ago and in a political science class I had a pretty liberal professor. We would have discussions and I would find myself many times not agreeing with him to upset the class but due to having a differing opinion. The professor welcomed hearing differing views and showed no signs of resenting my bringing a different view to his classroom.

    I received an “A” in the class so he obviously didn’t penalize me for speaking up and questioning his opinions. I have seen and am sure there are a number of professors that wouldn’t be the same and would resent questioning especially with the “politically correct” movement that sweeped most campuses a few years after I graduated.

    I am sure it would have been harder to disagree if the class was more about more volatile issues such as affirmative action etc. Also you have to read people and figure out what the real rules are.

    I have bosses of large groups tell me they thought anyone could tell anyone anything as long as it was with respect and the boss truly meant it. This boss if you told him something might not agree with you and might not adopt what you said but didn’t have an issue with your criticizing a certain plan though would expect you to follow the plan if that was decided plan. On the other hand I have had other bosses where you knew you couldn’t speak your min and thus wouldn’t point out the emperor had no clothes on and sometimes even had to say you saw them.

  213. Jus a reminder, Maranatha Revisited continues to add more posts of Tikie’s experience. I would suggest you subscribe to be notified but if not keep checking. It is an interesting adventure.

  214. BoughtTheField wrote:

    @ Darlene:
    Darlene when I said that I hadn’t seen anything quite like Maranatha, I meant the effectiveness of their emotional persuasion. I agree there were others that used a similar playbook, but none of them compared to Maranatha in how powerful the emotional pull was. They were able to pull in strong, popular people who would never fall for another cult. Seriously, you would have to be there and feel it to understand. They made you feel like they had everything you ever wanted and nothing else mattered.

    …but none of them compared to Maranatha in how powerful the emotional pull was.

    How would you know unless you were on the inside of all of those other manipulative cults? Believe me, the cult I was in used very powerful methods to persuade and intimidate people. When folks started leaving my former cult and going to Well Spring Christian Counseling Clinic, the counselors and psychologists that worked there were shocked at the methods used to control members. Well Spring has counseled people from many different cults and they came to the conclusion that my former cult was the most toxic of any they had ever encountered. Now, objectively I don’t know if that is true. But my point is that all cults are effective in persuading people emotionally and psychologically by using mind control techniques that work to entrap and deceive. In that regard, I don’t think that Maranatha is unique.

  215. @ Darlene:

    Hi Darlene

    We believe Tik would agree with you. In his post ” Bounded Choice” this is one his points- that these authoritarian groups use the same techniques. In fact we think one of his major underlying thesis in his writings is that theology is simply a tool used by these groups.

    Our experience with a loved one in the Way International suggests Tik is correct. We think his posts on bounded choice and special languages is a must read for ex cult members.

    The editors MMC Revisited

  216. Getting back to Tikie’s blog, what was such a revelation to me was that, even 20 years after leaving Maranatha, I still had this nagging feeling that I was the problem. If I could just have submitted more or worked harder or stuck with the program I could have had the blessings God meant for me. Reading about another person’s experiences, particularly one who had much more direct dealings with those in leadership than I ever did, was positively liberating.

    One way organizations keep control is by preventing the rank and file from communicating their discontents. I didn’t know for years that other people in the group had the same concerns as I did.

  217. Robert M wrote:

    One way organizations keep control is by preventing the rank and file from communicating their discontents. I didn’t know for years that other people in the group had the same concerns as I did.

    Robert basically they call “the rank and file communicating their discontents” especially with other “rank and file” gossip. That tactic has sadly worked well in a lot of these cult and cult like groups to keep the sheep in the dark and people thinking they were the only ones with issues.

    When the SGM Survivor Blog first started you would have numerious people indicating that they thought they were the only one with issues and were quite relieved to find that they weren’t the only person with these issues.

    So true. Just a few years ago I talked with another former member who was in my local group. He indicated to me that he had a number of run ins with an assistant pastor. I had wished we had compared notes at the time we were both having issues with the control maniac of an assistant pastor. Again their broad definition of what they consider “gossip” sadly works well to keep the sheep in the dark.

  218. Steve240 wrote:

    I had wished we had compared notes at the time we were both having issues with the control maniac of an assistant pastor. Again their broad definition of what they consider “gossip” sadly works well to keep the sheep in the dark.

    Jesus operated in the open with no secret agenda. He got in trouble with the religious leaders, publicly. His accusers and questioners confronted Him right in the streets where Jesus answered them back. Truth. Truth to power.

    In contrast, the religious leaders, scribes, pharisees, etc., operated in secret. Plotted. Collaborated with the tyrannical Roman government against those they proclaimed to be their enemies – including Jesus, God Himself. How telling! Covert. Sneaking around with secret deals and evil motives. Power. To murder.

  219. Steve240 wrote:

    Has anyone looked at the latest post:
    https://maranathaministriesrevisted.com/2017/08/16/39-i-hit-bottom/
    One person I was talking with said it made him want to vomit. Another sad account.

    I started to, but couldn’t finish it.

    Keep in mind that if someone had a problem with something someone higher in the Maranatha food chain was doing, the solution was to trust God to fix whatever was going on. And to repent of bitterness and gossip.

    Problems with people lower in the food chain were fair game. The pastor was concerned that I wasn’t fitting in with the rest of the people (no surprise, as I was an introvert, an intellectual, and not part of Southern frat boy culture) and discerned a curse of illegitimacy was on me. Now, I happen to know when I was born and when my parents were married, so I knew there was no chance, but the pastor didn’t back down. He figured someone in my line of ancestors must have been illegitimate (which, given the odds, he was probably right) so he engaged in spiritual warfare to break the curse.

    When I was in high school I played a little bit of Dungeons and Dragons. Looking back, there were a lot of similarities between that and my experiences with Maranatha.

  220. Robert M wrote:

    I started to, but couldn’t finish it.
    Keep in mind that if someone had a problem with something someone higher in the Maranatha food chain was doing, the solution was to trust God to fix whatever was going on. And to repent of bitterness and gossip.

    Robert I can understand not wanting to finish that blog post of Tikie. Totally disheartening.

    Interesting how you say that if a lower member “had a problem with something/someone higher in the Maranatha food chain” the only thing allowed as “to trust God to fix whatever as going on” and also “repent of bitterness and gossip.” That basically shut down any type of correction or pointing out of issues by regular members or those lower than them on the food chain. I would be curious how they could justify this using scripture.

    I am sure this is one of their significant traits that caused them to implode. After all leaders must have been perfect and if not they would hear from God and God would show them so they would correct. We know that the leadership in Maranatha (especially Bob Weiner) exemplified humility so could easily be shown by God NOT.

  221. Tikie’s blog post here had some additional applicable even to explaining why people followed/deified C.J. Mahaney who lead another group called SGM (sorry this comment is long and also posted a similar comment on SGM Survivors):

    https://maranathaministriesrevisted.com/category/36-leadership-and-control-in-mcm/

    Tikie said:

    The third reason MLTS was important is that it kept in place the feedback loop from the “flock” to the leadership, which in turn reinforced the charismatic authority of the collective leadership.

    Many studies of sociological cults have shown that the “charisma” of a leader, or a group of select leaders, does NOT RESIDE IN THE LEADER(S) themselves but in the feedback loop between the leader and the followers.

    We tend to think of charismatic leaders as perhaps good-looking, or eloquent speakers, or very outgoing.

    Frequently charismatic leaders do have these qualities, but these qualities are NOT the source of their standing and power as a charismatic leader in a sociological cult. [This idea is more fully explored by Janja Lalich in her book Bounded Choice True Believers and Charismatic Cults].

    The source of Bob’s power as a charismatic leader really resided in his unflinching (and if you spent any time with him, his irritating) hyperactivity and his ability to deliver results laid out in the grand vision and scheme he set for his followers.

    We could consider these behavior traits as the “engine” that drove Bob’s charismatic authority. The fuel for this engine was the affirmation and praise from Maranatha devotees that reinforced Bob’s own feeling of specialness (that he called for a divine special purpose by God as an apostle for the end times).

    There is a lot more posted but the part I quoted I thought extremely applicable.

    I will have to get Dr. Lalich’s book. Reading Tikie’s blog she certainly came up with what I feel is a sound theory on how charismatic leaders are “empowered.” As Tikie points out with Weiner there was quite the “feedback loop” say with all the praise heaped on him, long clap “offerings” to him.

    This is certainly a good theory on how people almost blindly follow these leaders like Weiner and Mahaney.

    I would recommend anyone purchase this book.

  222. Steve240 wrote:

    Interesting how you say that if a lower member “had a problem with something/someone higher in the Maranatha food chain” the only thing allowed as “to trust God to fix whatever as going on” and also “repent of bitterness and gossip.” That basically shut down any type of correction or pointing out of issues by regular members or those lower than them on the food chain. I would be curious how they could justify this using scripture.

    The usual scripture was about touching “God’s anointed”. Like criticizing a campus leader was equivalent to killing the King of Israel.

    I don’t know if it was like this everywhere (though I suspect it was), but in Boston everyone was so hyper-spiritual that people would get words about mundane matters in everyone else’s lives. It’s no wonder my guiding principle now is to always attempt to mind my own business.

  223. Robert M wrote:

    The usual scripture was about touching “God’s anointed”. Like criticizing a campus leader was equivalent to killing the King of Israel.
    I don’t know if it was like this everywhere (though I suspect it was), but in Boston everyone was so hyper-spiritual that people would get words about mundane matters in everyone else’s lives. It’s no wonder my guiding principle now is to always attempt to mind my own business.

    Unfortunately I know someone who experienced some of this same treatment by leaders in Maranatha. One was a person that traveled with Bob Weiner for a period of time as an assistant.

    This is another sad case of twisting scripture that Peter warns about (II Peter 3:16). I hope to do a blog post on this topic but here are some quick points.

    Yes they would quote the passages where David would not “touch God’s annointed.” Even though there were 2 times that Saul could have killed or harmed Saul David refused to do so. After all God had selected and annoited Saul as king.

    Maranatha leaders would consider themselves to be one of “God’s annointed” especially if leadership had laid hands on them. (II Timothy 1:6).

    Thus saying anything bad about a leader was considered wrong. Not sure how the concluded that saying something was the same as “touching.”

    The case I heard about the person said that people should be like David who wouldn’t touch and wanted it to be God who took down Saul. They were basically saying to be passive (and let the Lord handle it) if you saw a leader sinning or had issues. The “trust God to fix” that Robert M shared.

    At best using this analogy is a stretch and IMO a twisting of Scripture.

    – First of all there is no one “God’s annointed” like there was back in the day that God initially selected a king for Israel.

    – David was specifically referring to touching someone whom he considered “God’s anointed.”

    – David specifically did say things verbally about Saul including to Saul’s face. It wasn’t like David was silent. I think even some of the Psalms are about David’s sad dealings with Saul.

    Thus sadly another twisting of scripture.

  224. Robert M wrote:

    The usual scripture was about touching “God’s anointed”. Like criticizing a campus leader was equivalent to killing the King of Israel.

    Robert M.

    If you care, I would be interested in corresponding with you I would like that. You can find my email at my other blog:

    http://www.ikdg.wordpress.com

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