Child Sex Abuse Allegations Raised Against United Pentecostal’s Calvary Gospel Church, Wisconsin #metoo #churchtoo

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“One in four girls will experience sexual abuse by the time she is sixteen, and 48 percent of all rapes involve a young woman under the age of eighteen. It’s not surprising then, that in a society where sexual abuse of young women is rampant, many women never share their stories. They remain hidden and invisible.” ― Patti Feuereisen, Invisible Girls

#metoo #churchtoo #UPCItoo comes to Wisconsin.

Recently, Cap Times (Wisconsin) posted Stolen childhoods: Women allege they were sexually abused as kids at Calvary Gospel Church in Madison by Katelyn Ferral.

A Pentecostal church on Madison’s east side has concealed allegations of sexual assault among its congregants for over 30 years, and continues to perpetuate a culture of fear and control that fosters abuse, former members say.

The Cap Times interviewed 13 people, four of whom said they were sexually assaulted and manipulated as children attending Calvary Gospel Church. Nine others, including parents, siblings of alleged victims, members who witnessed sexual misbehavior and one pastor who was in leadership at the time of many allegations, corroborate the description of the church’s culture, numerous accounts of sexual abuse in the congregation and concealment by its leaders.

TWW will be posting the stories of some of these women who’ve bravely come forward in spite of the fear of being ostracized by their former religious community.

What is the United Pentecostal Church International and why isn’t it considered an orthodox Christian denomination? It has to do with the Trinity…of lack thereof.

I struggled with what to call this group of churches and have settled with the term *a religious sect.* Here is a link to the headquarters of UPCI. This organization does not view those outside of their group as Christian and they appear to believe that they alone hold the key to salvation.

Another name for this group is Oneness Pentecostalism which is a title they wholeheartedly embrace. So what is the difference between UPCI and what I might term orthodox Christian groups? Here is a good synopsis of how UPCI beliefs differ from orthodox Christianity written by the NAMB.

Only One God:

Oneness Pentecostals declare that the Godhead consists of only one Person and deny the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. They maintain that the only real “person” in the Godhead is Jesus. Thus, they are often referred to as the “Jesus Only” Movement. They maintain that God exists in two modes, as the Father in heaven, and as Jesus the Son on earth. Nevertheless, they are the same person, not two separate persons. The Holy Spirit is not regarded as a person at all, merely a manifestation of Jesus’ power or a synonym for Him. Several verses are quoted to establish this view, such as Colossians 2:9 (NKJV), “For in Him (Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Oneness theologians would argue that if the Father and the Son were separate, then the Godhead could not fully dwell in Christ. Matthew 28:19 also affirms their views that Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize in the “name” (singular) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is said to have two natures: human and divine. Thus, when He died, only His human nature died. Also, when Jesus prayed, it was His human nature praying to His divine nature-not to a separate Father in heaven.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the term *modalism?* Once again, from the NAMB:

The Oneness Pentecostal view of God is similar to the ancient heresy of Modalism. Modalism is the belief that one God existed in time in three distinct modes of being: first as the Father in heaven; second, bodily as the Son on earth; and finally as the Holy Spirit.

Salvation depends on what is termed a Four Fold Legal Requirement

SALVATION: FOUR-FOLD LEGAL REQUIREMENT

The Oneness Pentecostal movements generally teach that to receive and maintain salvation, a person must adhere to four essential requirements.

  1. Faith in Jesus Only:
    Oneness teachers would agree that salvation comes only by putting one’s full faith in the Jesus of Oneness doctrine, i.e. the Jesus who is the totality of the Godhead, who died on the cross as an atonement for sin and who rose again from the dead
  2. Repentance and Baptism in the” Name of Jesus”:
    Oneness teachers cite Acts 2:38 as evidence that the early church baptized only in the name of Jesus. They maintain that baptism in the trinitarian formula is invalid since it implies belief in three Gods. They claim Matt. 28:19 is not to be taken as a command to baptize in that formula.
  3. Speaking in tongues:
    Like most traditional Pentecostals and Charismatics, Oneness Pentecostals teach that speaking in tongues is a modern gift to be exercised today. However, unlike most of those traditionalists, the Oneness movements maintain that speaking in tongues is not just a post-conversion indicator of the filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit but an essential ingredient in the salvation experience itself.
  4. Adherence to Holiness Standards:
    Most Oneness Pentecostals teach that once salvation is gained initially by the preceding ingredients that it must be maintained by daily adherence to legalistic codes of personal behavior. Alcohol and tobacco are prohibited. Women are not allowed to cut their hair, wear short dresses or slacks, use make-up, or wear jewelry. Men are expected to dress conservatively (white shirts and dark slacks), be clean-shaven, and have short haircuts. Violations of these codes may result in a loss of salvation and exclusion from church fellowship.

There is no salvation outside of the UPCI church

As we explore the stories of these women who have come forward, it helps to put a few things in perspective.

First, Oneness Pentecostals believe that they are the only true church. They take this belief very seriously. If people leave this church, they will be highly likely to be judged as having lost their salvation. To make matters worse, they fear joining Trinitarian churches like the SBC, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc. because even attending a Trinitarian church means one has lost their salvation.

If one is raised in the UPCI, the fear of losing salvation is so ingrained that it is difficult to overcome. This can result in chronic anxiety and depression. 

I am hoping to have some time to discuss how the belief in the Tribulation and Rapture is used to further create mind numbing fear. This is the first time Ive heard it expressed to me in such vivid detail. There are many who claim that this fear is debilitating, lasting decades.

The local pastor has absolute control over the congregation. Each church is autonomous.

I spoke with Jonathan Mohr who is the Director of Communications for the UPCI. He explained to me that all of the churches who are members of this sect are autonomous. This means that the power to judge who is in and who is out rests in the hands of the local pastor. This can lead to the members being afraid of the pastor who has total control.

I live down the street from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. There are SBC churches galore from tiny to mega-sized. It’s quite easy to move from congregation to congregation. Not so in the UPCI. They claim to have 4.9 million members world wide. I did a search for churches in the greater Triangle area where I live. I found 4 churches, two of which appear to speak a language other than English. My guess is that these pastors speak to one another, making it difficult to stay within the UPCI if a person has trouble at one of the churches.

The pastor holds the keys to that salvation.

Before we get all judgmental on UPCI, I wonder if this sounds familiar to TWW readers? For example, 9 Marks and members of The Gospel Coalition also claim that the local church holds the keys to the kingdom and we sure know how they feel about pastoral authority…

Debbie McNulty, one of the victims, encouraged me to stress to our readers that there is terrible fear that one is going to lose their salvation when confronting a serious issue in the church. Also, there is only one person to speak to at the church about a serious issue and that is the pastor. That pastor has the ability to control members who fear they will lose their salvation.

The local church community is isolated since the holiness standards are strict. This leads to a closed community which can enforce onerous holiness requirements.

External features appear to signal that one is part of the club. These seem to revolve around gender specific fashion choices. Women were skirts. Men wear pants. Women have long hair which must be cared for in a certain way. If a woman cuts her hair, she could lose her salvation.

The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Churches (IFB) are often known for similar *holiness* rules. They may believe in the Trinity but members are encouraged to wear gender specific clothing. In other words, women wear dresses and skirts. They also practice some form of separation from the surrounding culture. Sadly, the IFB has been haunted by report after report of sex abuse. is there a tie in between these organizations which practice strict separation from the surrounding culture yet also have had a number of reports of sex abuse?

This is well outlined in Jeri Massi’s book Schizophrenic Christianity:: How Christian Fundamentalism Attracts and Protects Sociopaths, Abusive Pastors, and Child Molesters I believe that members exploring this subject in the UPCI could benefit from a number of observations in this book.

So, we are left with a church that functions almost like a cult or a commune with its own rules and regulations  as well as a means of enforcement which is tied into a person’s guarantee of salvation.

So why does this all matter when it comes to sex abuse in the UPCI?

Over the next week, I will be telling the stories of adults who were abused as children at Calvary Gospel Church, Madison, Wisconsin. I hope that describing the UPCI and its differences from Trinitarian evangelicalism  will help TWW readers to better understand the culture that these women experienced before, during and after their abuse.

Debbie McNulty will be looking in on the comments to help those who have questions about Oneness Pentecostalism.

I spoke with Jonathan Mohr at UPCI and told him I was going to be writing about sexual abuse in one of their churches. I learned the following:

  • I asked him how the UPCI looks at the sexual abuse of children ages 11-14. He says that he views that as a crime.
  • I asked him if children in the age range should be viewed as adulterers when they are molested. (This happens in the forthcoming posts.) He said that children of that age are not capable of understanding that possibility.
  • I asked him if there is a UPCI statement on child sexual abuse. He said he would look through their manuals. Since that time I’ve learned from one woman who has collected all the manuals that they do not deal with the subject of child sex abuse
  • Jonathan Mohr sent me two articles written about child sex abuse. However, they appear to be suggestions as opposed to enforceable standards. Here is a link to one of those documents: Child Abuse

I would like to point out one Q&A on the Calvary Gospel Church website that you might find confusing.

In fact, a number of UPCI churches will claim to have loose dress codes. According to Debbie, this is merely a come on. You may see a picture of women wearing pants but you will rarely, if ever, see any women in these churches dressing in any gender nonspecific clothing.

I look forward to your insights and questions.


Comments

Child Sex Abuse Allegations Raised Against United Pentecostal’s Calvary Gospel Church, Wisconsin #metoo #churchtoo — 178 Comments

  1. I’ve been saying on my Daisy blog for awhile now in a post or two that Christians say they agree on the essentials, but they don’t.

    Many Christians do not even the basic building block of the faith, such as who gets saved and how, and can that salvation by revoked by God, etc.

    As to this:
    “Men are expected to dress conservatively (white shirts and dark slacks), be clean-shaven, and have short haircuts.”

    Sounds rather Mormon-ish.

    I wear my hair short, sometimes medium length.
    No way in hey I am wearing it long or giving up wearing shorts or pants.

    The older I get these types of petty rules -and tying them to a person’s salvation! -sounds utterly ridiculous.

    Jesus says his burden and yoke are light, and he chastized the religious leaders who put heavy burdens on people’s shoulders, just like this UPCI church is doing to its members.

    Re:
    “This means that the power to judge who is in and who is out rests in the hands of the local pastor. This can lead to the members being afraid of the pastor who has total control.”

    Definitely sounds like a recipe for pastoral / spiritual abuse, and church cover-ups of abuse.

    – – –
    In other news, for anyone here who may have followed me on Twitter,
    I have created a new Daisy Twitter account this week: @Flower2Ms

    Twitter locked down my original account (I didn’t break their rules -I explain the deal on my Daisy blog).

    I made an appeal to Twitter, got tired of waiting for them to act (it’s been a bit over a week), so I made that new account.

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  2. I so appreciate your in depth look into the background. It is rare for an outsider to clearly get a picture, I think you’re off to a good start!
    I will say dress codes vary to some degree between congregations, again because of the autonomy of the pastors. The women have small differences from church to church but not a lot, men can be huge differences, conservative dress is not technically always important but encouraged and things like facial hair have phases in which they are acceptable or not.

    Other than that this is a good window inside and laying the groundwork for understanding the culture and I appreciate the work you did to make it happen. I see integrity in the writing and I look forward to future articles.

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  3. I look this as an Us and Them situation. Us is broad and enormous. It’s really hard to be categorized as Them. Oneness is not Us. They went out from Us. I understand this to make them Anti-Christ.

    There is likely no way of verifying the total Oneness numbers, but if they claim 4.9M, I would beleive it. I think it is thriving internationaly. Reform theology is a hard sell oversees.

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  4. My spiritual abuse website started in 1997 and has a secondary focus on the United Pentecostal Church because that’s where I experienced spiritual abuse. We have a great deal of information there on the organization. This will give you a summary of their beliefs: http://www.spiritualabuse.org/upcbeliefs.html There are many other articles available.

    It only takes a few seconds to look through a digital copy of their 2019 Manual to discover that they take no official stand on their ministers/pastors reporting child sexual abuse. The only place where such abuse is addressed is in Article VII and Section 9 where it deals with immoral conduct of its ministers. It states “Immoral offense shall include sexual molestation of minors.” That will, if they follow through on their rules, cause a minister to lose their license. Yet one man from Calvary Gospel Church, who the pastor had been told sexually abused a minor, received his UPCI license after this happened.

    This church has many skeletons and its closet is full. Debbie and I have been writing about it for well over a year. It is so good to see someone else willing to expose the darkness.

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  5. Nathan Priddis,

    The majority of the UPCI’s members comes from outside of North America. In North America they have been slow in their growth. They claim around 750,000 for members and constituents here and that is after they started changing how they counted their members. These figures are often taken from Easter Sunday services when there are many visitors who do not regularly attend their churches. Back in 1997 on their website, they estimated their North American constituency to be about 600,000.

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  6. I also wish to comment on the brief quotations that the UPCI sent to Dee that are from a book published in 1991 and another from 2015. The reading requirements periodically change through the years. Pointing out that prospective ministers would read ‘The Pentecostal Minister’ or ‘Spiritual Leadership in the Twenty-First Century’ doesn’t really address the issue and ignores the fact that a majority of their licensed ministers have not read either of these books. The pastor in question at Calvary Gospel obtained his license decades before either of those books were available or required reading. Once you hold license, there is no required additional ‘training’ unless you wish to apply for a different level of licensing. (There are three: local, general and ordination.)

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  7. In what the UPCI sent to you, I just caught that they stated: “General License is the level of ministerial credentials for pastors.” There have been, and still are, ministers in the UPCI who held a local license and were a pastor. So it isn’t accurate to state what he did without mentioning this. While what he shared is more often the case, it is not always true. As a for instance, William Hall in Louisiana holds only a local license and he is the pastor of an affiliated (there are two types of UPCI churches) church in Coushatta.

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  8. As to moving from congregation to congregation in the UPCI, yes, many pastors communicate with each other. Pastors have even tattled on people who just visited their church on a night that the person’s home church was having services. If one leaves under circumstances with which the pastor disagrees, he/she might call the other area pastors and warn them about the person who left.

    In addition, a pastor is not supposed to allow someone to join their church without a letter of transfer from the previous UPC pastor, though some of their ministers do not follow this rule. According to their written rules, a pastor is not allowed to refuse to write this letter unless the person has been proven guilty of misconduct. Despite this, I have received reports through the years from people who were denied one and there was no misconduct involved. See http://www.spiritualabuse.org/mywritings/transfer.html but note that the numbered rule has changed since I wrote the article. The rule, however, has not changed.

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  9. One additional comment this evening/morning. The article you quoted where they state, “Men are expected to dress conservatively (white shirts and dark slacks), be clean shaven, and have short haircuts.” isn’t fully accurate. While some UPC churches may push for the men to have white shirts and dark pants, the vast majority of their churches do not. (There are some other Oneness Pentecostals who do the white shirts/dark pants.) While beards have never been stated as disallowed in their Manual, there are churches where individual pastors forbid them. That has been starting to change in more recent years.

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  10. Warning: “If your 501c3 non-profit church organization is demanding, charging you, or possibly shaming you into giving 10% of your pre-tax earnings, and using the New Testament as a basis of their biblical requirement, they are misrepresenting God’s word. The requirement found in the New Testament is that God loves a cheerful giver. Nothing more, nothing less.” -Sòpwith

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  11. My dad was/is Oneness, the only way they can get a new pastor is if he does and then they often have already picked their successor. Growing up in UPC I saw a lot of what is mentioned here. Boyd has an excellent book on thks, pastors have complete control and yes it’s just like a cult.

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  12. Lois: United Pentecostal Church

    Regarding Oneness and the identity and role of Jesus: Does the United Pentecostal Church believe that God still honors the Old Covenant, or do they believe that Jewish people are eternally condemned?

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  13. Nathan Priddis: I look this as an Us and Them situation. Us is broad and enormous. It’s really hard to be categorized as Them. Oneness is not Us. They went out from Us. I understand this to make them Anti-Christ.

    Nathan, are you referring to the rejection of Trinitarian belief, or to UPCI’s insistence that they are the only saved Christians?

    The Venn diagram between Trinitarianism and Christianity is not a perfect circle. Christadelphians, Quakers, and other small traditions are not Trinitarian. Folks have lots of different views about which non-Trinitarian groups are heretical or going to h-e-double-toothpicks. My own practice is to take people at their word if they say they are Christian. I am expecting major food fights in heaven. 😉

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  14. Lois: We have a great deal of information there on the organization. This will give you a summary of their beliefs: http://www.spiritualabuse.org/upcbeliefs.html

    Thanks for the work you do, Lois. It sounds like it’s hard to break the culture of silence around these churches.

    I live down the street from a UPC church. It’s a small town, but they keep themselves fairly isolated from everyone else. The other church in town that isolates themselves is the New Calvinist SBC church. Both would probably say everyone else is unsaved.

    At least speaking for New Cals, as that is what I know, I think personalities and culture inform theology, and not the other way around. The people I know who are very interested in New Calvinist theology are generally male and desire some sort of acclaim. Some of them are also very open in their belief that they should be served by others and not be serving. It attracts people who would go along with the conditions that allow themselves or others to abuse. Add isolation factors to that, and it’s a deadly fire that will burn.

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  15. T. D. Jakes has long been suspected of being a modalist.

    I once asked a oneness pentecostal about Jesus praying to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane – who was He praying to? His response was (I am not kidding) – Jesus flew up to heaven and caught His own prayer.

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  16. Lois:
    While beards have never been stated as disallowed in their Manual, there are churches where individual pastors forbid them. That has been starting to change in more recent years.

    I used to work with a person who grew up in an area with a bunch of UPC people, and he told me about a high school friend of his in the UPC who always volunteered for the Christmas play, because if you were in it you were allowed to grow a beard for the performance and that was the only time an exception was made. My former coworker thought it was really funny that beards were somehow forbidden, but at the same time they fully realized that Joseph and Jesus would have had them.

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  17. Daisy: such as who gets saved and how, and can that salvation by revoked by God

    Or, even more fundamentally, “what salvation is “; saved from what ?

    Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.

    I would that the leaders of that group are not living the life of the age to come (1 Jn 5:13).

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  18. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    Sectarian at the very least…cult like at the worst.
    Have known a few UPC parishioners. Each one feared losing their salvation. ( from one infraction to another ) A few were insistent on tongues being required of everyone.
    The UPC pastor I knew, was domineering, bold. Pastor of the little congregation for 40+ years.As far as I know of, no sexual abuse
    occurred.

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  19. ishy: The people I know who are very interested […] are generally male and desire some sort of acclaim. Some of them are also very open in their belief that they should be served by others and not be serving.

    Sounds astonishingly like some corporate offices where I worked.

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  20. Anna: I once asked a oneness pentecostal about Jesus praying to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane – who was He praying to? His response was (I am not kidding) – Jesus flew up to heaven and caught His own prayer.

    O…Kay…?

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  21. Daisy: As to this:
    “Men are expected to dress conservatively (white shirts and dark slacks), be clean-shaven, and have short haircuts.”

    Sounds rather Mormon-ish.

    Remember: Mormons are Southern Baptist Zombies.
    They hit all the external metrics (including dress codes) of Real True Christians, only More So:
    https://baptistnews.com/article/mormons-southern-baptist-zombies/#.XVwAnvZFxaQ

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  22. Friend: The Venn diagram between Trinitarianism and Christianity is not a perfect circle. Christadelphians, Quakers, and other small traditions are not Trinitarian. Folks have lots of different views about which non-Trinitarian groups are heretical or going to h-e-double-toothpicks. My own practice is to take people at their word if they say they are Christian. I am expecting major food fights in heaven.

    Thank you for stating this. Although I see some major problems with this cult, I do not see that their non-trinitarian views have anything to do with them.

    Question for Dee:
    Are you suggesting that trinitarianism is the issue with this cult? Do you acknowledge that there are many who agree with the early church fathers, who allowed for varying viewpoints, until the institutional church declared the one and only ‘orthodox’ belief concerning the trinity? And promptly began murdering any who dared disagree.

    I am not so much non-trinitarian as I am anti-trinitarian – I do not believe any person or any institution, has the authority to determine what someone else must believe, or how they must interpret scripture. Could you address this, as your post appears to condemn all non-trinitarians as unacceptable. I hope the tent is wider here than that.

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  23. Amber,

    Thank you for clarifying that point. Debbie mentioned how one could pick a Calvary Gospel member just by their hair and clothing. If a person continued to attend the church wearing jeans each week, what do you think would happen? Would it be fine or would they eventually be told to stop?

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  24. dee,

    My experience was that you would not be considered fully saved until you were in obedience to the standard. You would not be allowed to serve in any ministry. My mother was always on the outside and gossiped about because she did not fully meet their standards.

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  25. TS00: Are you suggesting that trinitarianism is the issue with this cult?

    No. I am pointing out that their particular views on the matter contributes to isolating members from the broader evangelical community. They tie the belief into salvation. The stressing of this belief as bing an essential leads members becoming afraid if they do not stay within the *true* church.

    As for my view on the trinity, I sum it up like this. One “What” and Three “Whos.” Beyond that, I do not fully understand since there is nothing in this world that is a the same.

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  26. Debbie McNulty,

    I read quite a bit on Oneness Pentecostalism over the weekend. I’m so glad that I did. It helped me to better understand the difficulties you faced after you were sexually abused over time.

    I thought about my own ordeal (I was not abused, merely attacked for standing up against what I knew to be wrong.) My husband I sea creed for a church that was not sold out to the new Reformed deal. We visited 4 churches until we found our current church which is Lutheran.

    Last year, I had a person who graduated from Southeastern Seminary tell me that being a Lutheran was not Scriptural. I started laughing which annoyed her even more. I volunteered to go toe to toe with on on Scripture but she backed off.

    I had many choices of churches but even then, it was hard to find one with which I felt comfortable. For you the choices were far more difficult. You were either *in* or you were *out.*

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  27. TS00,

    I should say I’m, ‘a-trinitarianist’ not ‘anti-trinitarianist’. I am not opposed to the orthodox view – simply opposed to so-called ‘orthodoxy’. Each man must be allowed the freedom to believe as his conscience leads him, where scripture is not clear. There is no clear statement of the concept of the trinity in scripture, so men are forced to reason concerning the nature of God, Son and Holy Spirit.

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  28. dee,

    I agree that it is cult-like to demand people reject orthodox trinitarianism or be declared ‘unsaved’. I consider it equally cult-like to demand people accept orthodox trinitarianism or be declared ‘unsaved’. One of the many reasons I may never attend church again is because there are few to none who do not insist upon the ‘orthodox’ view of the trinity. I don’t begrudge anyone their view, I simply demand the freedom to not know, and say so. Few churches allow this.

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  29. I’d note that the current head of the UPCI is David Bernard. He holds a Juris Doctor (that’d be a law degree to most people) from the University of Texas at Austin. So he’s not some “ignorant of the law” person. If anything, he should be held even MORE responsible!

    I know, from looking on FB, that he’s been approached in the last couple of years regarding child sexual abuse in UPCI churches, but he and the organization have done next to nothing. This is, IMHO, *appalling*.

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  30. dee,
    Well, kind of…you see the UPCI dictates standards but each church has some wiggle room regarding how they enforce and the small details. So one church might allow a small slit in your skirt if it is below the knee, another church might say no slits period. My UPC pastor said a slit is worse than no slit, below the knee or not because it gives a man a taste of something he cannot have.

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  31. ..”expecting major food fights in heaven”…

    Lord have mercy. I have never heard anyone express that idea. I actually think it will be far worse then that, and anticipate ultra hard feelings amoung disparate factions. So, I believe war in Heaven is inevitable.

    Trinity.
    God never calls himself a Trinity. That word was created in early church political struggles. God uses the word Godhead.

    The Godhead is a structured entity, with more then one individual member/s. Trinity declares there are three, but God did not say this.

    Anti-Christ. It does not mean something spooky. It refers to another”Christ.” Meaning, another annointing. Lots of people say they are annointed.

    The issue with Oneness, beside going out from us, is the declarations of who is, and who is not, part of the Godhead, and in what capacity.

    Christianity is a question of who is Lord. We give the answers, wr do not get to alter the question because we don’t like the anseer it leads to.

    The Father, Son and Spirit are one, in agreement. They are not conjoined triplets.

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  32. TS00: I agree that it is cult-like to demand people reject orthodox trinitarianism or be declared ‘unsaved’. I consider it equally cult-like to demand people accept orthodox trinitarianism or be declared ‘unsaved’. One of the many reasons I may never attend church again is because there are few to none who do not insist upon the ‘orthodox’ view of the trinity. I don’t begrudge anyone their view, I simply demand the freedom to not know, and say so. Few churches allow this.

    One of the issues with Oneness Pentacostalism is the insistence on Jesus Name baptism. Under this view your salvation can be at risk if the baptizer didn’t utter the correct words. In this case I don’t think the issue is what one thinks of the nature of the Deity, but that they want to be exclusionary and an overemphasis on Acts 2:38 allows them to be so.

    The same goes for the “standards”. Mostly they are completely arbitrary. I can see interpreting 1 Corinthians 11 as saying a woman should have long hair (and I do not agree with the interpretation myself) this group often takes it much farther than that, insisting that women never even trim their hair. It’s all about being different.

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  33. Lois,

    Interesting. I went to their website and there are at least 8 churches close to me, but we also have an enormous pentacostal church so there may just be a lot of pentacostals in general? We also have a number of large AoG churches.

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  34. Debbie McNulty: My UPC pastor said a slit is worse than no slit, below the knee or not because it gives a man a taste of something he cannot have.

    He seems to have given this a great deal of… thought.

    I used to think men like this were staunchly moral. Now I think their minds are in the gutter, and their goal is to make women destroy themselves through constant questions questions questions.

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  35. And promptly began murdering any who dared disagree.

    Actually, it was the Arians who really tended toward violence. That’s why Athanasius had to go into hiding. 🙂

    Entire Eastern synods were stacked with Arian bishops. In the East, Trinitarians were the persecuted minority. Hence the famous epithet “Athanasius Contra Mundum.”

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  36. Friend: He seems to have given this a great deal of… thought.

    I used to think men like this were staunchly moral. Now I think their minds are in the gutter

    100%. (although I dont know if i ever thought them moral).

    that comment gave me the creeps. People, and especially men, who hyper focus on these things are suspect to me.

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  37. I’m not going to say that oneness, or apostolic as they prefer to be called, are unsaved because they happen to be modalists. The more I read about early Christian history, the more I realize how much sheer *dogma* has been placed upon the Good News. The earliest followers of Jesus and The Way were not arguing about trinitarianism–it was simply not part of their world. They said “Jesus is Lord.” They proclaimed “Christ crucified.” Both of these were challenges in their world. That’s because the only Lord among the Gentiles was the current Emperor and saying that a crucified criminal is Messiah and Lord would be a challenge to the then-current order.

    I’d also note something I realized recently–the vast majority of early believers were illiterate. We have some documents, written by a handful of people who were among the tiny minority of people in general who knew how to write at that time. I know I’m wondering how much the beliefs of the people were massaged by the elite who knew how to write? What I’m trying to say, and not very well, is that it’s quite likely there was quite a spectrum of beliefs among the early Christians. We can see shadows of it in the various canonical texts and even more in the non-canonical texts.

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  38. Friend: I actually don’t think so. Looking forward to seeing some shocked faces, though.

    Nor do I think so.
    Like John Lennon, I too am a dreamer…

    Imagine there’s no countries

    It isn’t hard to do

    Nothing to kill or die for

    And no religion, too

    Imagine all the people

    Living life in peace

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  39. Little cults everywhere…

    There are little cults everywhere. Some people are really into gaming, that can be a cult. I knew someone who “got lost” in Everquest for 18 months, just dropped off the map for a year and a half because she got caught up in that game. Even a job can be a cult. I still remember how devastated so many of us at my evil too big to fail employer were when it came out that our business side was up to *shenanigans*. Three years later and the *shenanigans* are still being uncovered. It’s doubly frustrating because we work on the tech side and there was really no way to know what the business was up to because what the biz was doing was outside of technical issues.

    I think belief systems can be like some addictions–done in moderation, an action can be benign or actually good for you, but there’s always the potential for it to become an obsession. So you have the little cult of one who has to go to spin class every day. It’s good for you, but it can get in the way of the rest of your life. I guess my point is “moderation in all things.”

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  40. Speaking of little cults everywhere…The first text believed to have been written by a woman is called the Acts of Perpetua and Felicity. It’s a martyrdom text, dated to 203 CE, and includes what is said to be writings from Perpetua herself. She unusual for her time, in that she knew how to read and write. Perpetua’s writings include her dreams and how she’s respected, even as a new Christian, as a prophetess in her community. Keep in mind, this was written at a time when the Roman authorities thought of Christianity as a dangerous cult that was a threat to the state.

    There are a number of (older, out of copyright) English translations going around, you can see them here. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/actsperpetua.html What I found useful when I dug deeper into the text was a book called “Perpetua’s Journey: Faith, Gender, and Power in the Roman Empire.” The first part of the book is the text of the Acts done in graphic art [comic book] form, then a series of small essays about various points in the text, then a straight translation of the text, and finally some additional commentary.

    If you want to get a feel for how much the same and how very different early Christianity was in Carthage, North Africa, in 203 AD, this is a book to read. Strongly recommended by me. I have many, many thoughts about this small text. I have to wonder what a Roman of the time, thinking Christianity was a dangerous cult, would have thought of it?

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  41. Lea,

    My former Calvi-pastor spoke of lining up his wimminfolk (in their dresses, of course) and inspecting them as they twisted, twirled and bent over at his command. Might as well just put them all in burqas so they don’t accidentally titillate any poor, innocent male they come across.

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  42. TS00: I am not so much non-trinitarian as I am anti-trinitarian – I do not believe any person or any institution, has the authority to determine what someone else must believe, or how they must interpret scripture.

    We would all benefit from reading the history of early Christianity to get a perspective on why the various councils addressed the various issues the way they did. For example, Christians were being martyred well before any of the councils met, and it was important for people to know where to draw the line on what beliefs one should die for. Whether or not the early church and the early councils got it right or wrong, they were stuggling with real human issues that had multiple sides and very real consequences.

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  43. TS00,

    I have long thought that the OT command (paraphrased from memory), “let him who boasts boast in this, that he knows and understands Me” might be a sort of back-handed way of advising to not boast about anything at all.

    Justice, mercy and humility — these three.

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  44. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: What I’m trying to say, and not very well, is that it’s quite likely there was quite a spectrum of beliefs among the early Christians. We can see shadows of it in the various canonical texts and even more in the non-canonical texts.

    Agreed. Scholars suggest that before orthodoxy was forced upon christianity by Constantine, there was a wide spectrum of views on many debatable issues. But those who wanted to retain their jobs – or their lives – kept their mouths shut. Undoubtedly, there was an even wider spectrum of viewpoints among the uneducated laity, until they were effectively catechized with the ‘truth’.

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  45. Samuel Conner: I have long thought that the OT command (paraphrased from memory), “let him who boasts boast in this, that he knows and understands Me” might be a sort of back-handed way of advising to not boast about anything at all.

    That’s how I always took it. Humbly admit you don’t know much, but you do know the One who does.

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  46. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    I suspect the concerns were more political than spiritual. Power and control appeared to be the driving concerns in the institutionalization of christianity.

    One can have a very simplistic understanding of spiritual things, or even have many uninformed and/or erroneous understandings, and not be at risk of losing trust in the goodness and mercy of God. I would even suggest that most of us fall into that category, seeing through the glass darkly.

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  47. Ken F (aka Tweed): it was important for people to know where to draw the line on what beliefs one should die for

    On this I must strongly disagree. No one should have been compelled to die for any belief, ever. Man does not have the authority to compel beliefs, and God, who does, grants men the freedom to believe wrongly.

    Hence my distaste for the very word ‘orthodox’. Nor do I have the slightest regard for councils of men or their judgments. Do men want to gather and debate disputable things? Let them. Just don’t tell me that majority opinion defines truth. I suspect that the majority of men always did, and perhaps always will reject the message of Jesus. That does not make it any less the way, the truth and the life.

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  48. Nathan Priddis:
    ..”expecting major food fights in heaven”…

    Lord have mercy. I have never heard anyone express that idea. I actually think it will be far worse then that, and anticipate ultra hard feelings amoung disparate factions. So, I believe war in Heaven is inevitable.

    Trinity.
    God never calls himself a Trinity. That word was created in early church political struggles. God uses the word Godhead.

    The Godhead is a structured entity, with more then one individual member/s. Trinity declares there are three, but God did not say this.

    Anti-Christ. It does not mean something spooky. It refers to another”Christ.” Meaning, another annointing. Lots of people say they are annointed.

    The issue with Oneness, beside going out from us, is the declarations of who is, and who is not, part of the Godhead, and in what capacity.

    Christianity is a question of who is Lord. We give the answers, wr do not get to alter the question because we don’t like the anseer it leads to.

    The Father, Son and Spirit are one, in agreement. They are not conjoined triplets.

    We all walk in all the light we have, if someone doesn’t hold to view of the trinity through a lack of understanding or a lack of knowledge is one thing, but it may be different to willful rejection.

    It seems that the dividing line of being a cult ( to most scholars anyway) is, in part how anyone views the trinity .
    Ask a oneness Pentecostal pastor to baptiize a new believer in the name of the Farther, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    ( I would advise you to then pull an Elvis, and leave the building.

    The view of the trinity cost Athanasius untold grief, but he would’nt budge

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  49. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I’m not going to say that oneness, or apostolic as they prefer to be called, are unsaved because they happen to be modalists.

    As you know, I do not judge the salvation of anyone, preferring to leave it that in the hands of the one who has a higher pay grade! I only judge actions (sex abuse) and I might disagree on theological issues (I am not a Calvinist for example.) but that is not a game changer.

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  50. TS00: I don’t begrudge anyone their view, I simply demand the freedom to not know, and say so. Few churches allow this.

    I believe the Almighty gave us free will and if that is good enough for Him, it’s good enough for me. he gave us the Bible and people are free to choose what they do with that as well.

    Besides I have enough to worry about when it comes to me. (There was the almost 6 car pile up I almost caused because I was late and tried to cut around a bunch of other people, totally concerned about myself and not a wit about others.)

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  51. Debbie McNulty: My UPC pastor said a slit is worse than no slit, below the knee or not because it gives a man a taste of something he cannot have.

    There are many articles online about cultures where women are forced to cover their bodies with the burka… and guess what, it doesn’t stop sexual abuse or rape. Until this pastor and others like him begin to admit that their sin problem comes from their own heart, they will continue to blame it on the externals of what women or children are wearing. Classic blame-shifting… I’m not responsible for my sin, you are!

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  52. TS00: I suspect the concerns were more political than spiritual. Power and control appeared to be the driving concerns in the institutionalization of christianity.

    And we’re seeing the same dynamic in play today.

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  53. TS00: My former Calvi-pastor spoke of lining up his wimminfolk (in their dresses, of course) and inspecting them as they twisted, twirled and bent over at his command.

    “DANCE, MONKEYS! DANCE!”

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  54. Debbie McNulty: My UPC pastor said a slit is worse than no slit, below the knee or not because it gives a man a taste of something he cannot have.

    Theiss Titillation Theory (named after the costume designer for “Old Testament” Star Trek):
    A suggestion of what you MIGHT see is often more effective than actually showing it.

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  55. Friend: Debbie McNulty: My UPC pastor said a slit is worse than no slit, below the knee or not because it gives a man a taste of something he cannot have.

    Good grief! For that matter a look at a woman’s face can give a man a taste of something he cannot have!!

    Their minds are continually in the gutter as far as I can tell.

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  56. Lea,

    There are certain states or areas where the UPCI has a very strong presence. Examples would be Texas and Louisiana. Then there are others, like Kansas with only 12 and two preaching points. When I was involved at my former local church in NJ, for the majority of that time there was no other UPC church nearby.

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  57. I have a friend who comes from this tradition and his wife is very trapped inside of it with his kids. This man had for a father the worst man I ever met in person. The father had a story similar to the movie “The Apostle” except that he was imprisoned for murdering his mistress and not his ex’s boyfriend. He married a woman who was “mentally slow” because, according to the son, she was easy to control. He abused the entire family and my friend was the only sibling who would have anything to do with the dad as an adult. The dad lived like a pastor, apostle and prophet all rolled up in one just to maximize his ability to exercise authority over people to abuse them anyway he wanted to. The most wicked men in the world are those that leverage God as their means of abusing others.

    Speaking of mental illness, my friend has bi-polar disorder (I was there in close when he had his last manic episode that I know about) and his wife has hoarding disorder. The whole family dresses in garb from the late 1800’s and look very out of place. The man will not have anything to do with these churches as he has been burned too many times. The atmosphere is pure legalism and sad. There is no alcohol, cigarettes or dancing, among other forbidden items.

    My impression of this Holiness Pentecostalism is that it is a very lifeless and dead substitute for the real faith. The beard thing might explain why his oldest grew one after turning 18. I hope all of his children leave it and actually find something with life in it instead of this dead legalism.

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  58. Friend: Does the United Pentecostal Church believe that God still honors the Old Covenant, or do they believe that Jewish people are eternally condemned?

    They teach that the Old Covenant has been replaced with the new. They would believe that any Jewish person must follow their ‘plan of salvation’ in order to be saved, just like anyone else.

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  59. TS00,

    Regarding the Trinity, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Athanasius all formulated ideas in response to Marcion and Gnosticism. Constantine didn’t foist Christianity on anybody as far as I have read. The Edict of Milan stated that Christians should be able to follow their religion without oppression but he also built a triumphal arch in 315 to celebrate a victory a few years earlier. It was adorned with images of the goddess Victoria and sacrifices were offered to Apollo, Diana and Hercules.
    According to the great Wikipedia “The reign of Constantine established a precedent for the emperor to have great influence and authority in the early Christian councils, most notably the dispute over Arianism. Constantine disliked the risks to societal stability that religious disputes and controversies brought with them, preferring to establish an orthodoxy.[227] His influence over the Church councils was to enforce doctrine, root out heresy, and uphold ecclesiastical unity; the Church’s role was to determine proper worship, doctrines, and dogma.[228]”

    [227] Richards, Jeffrey. The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476–752 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) 14–15; The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476–752 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) 15.
    [228] Richards, Jeffrey. The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476–752 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) pp. 15–16.

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  60. Tina: Lois, I checked your website and realized that I read it way back in 1997. I left a comment that is still listed under “old feedback”. I’m glad you’re still at your work.

    That is sure going back in time! 🙂 When I started the site I never, ever expected it would turn into what it has and surely never envisioned I’d be writing a series of articles on sexual abuse and the UPCI!

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  61. dee: If a person continued to attend the church wearing jeans each week, what do you think would happen? Would it be fine or would they eventually be told to stop?

    This one doesn’t have a simple pat answer, though it used to. While every UPCI minister must bi-annually sign their affirmation statement saying they believe, preach and teach certain things, some of their ministers sign but to not do it. There are individual churches that have let down on these standards, which has erroneously given some people the impression that the organization has changed. They have not. Eventually those churches will either leave the organization on their own or be removed. Many years ago when I was involved, you would be told to stop if you continued doing any of the things they teach against. They usually are more lenient with new people, especially if they haven’t yet spoken in tongues.

    David Bernard, the General Super of the org, is very much pro ‘Apostolic Identity’ and as long as he is at the helm, the UPC as a whole will not be letting down on these standards. This is information on their affirmation statement: http://www.spiritualabuse.org/issues/affirmation.html

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  62. dee,

    People coming to the church as new converts or yet to be converts are not judged on how they dress at all. This is a love bombing phase and they are expecting there to be a learning curve as well.
    If someone receives the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues and is baptized etc, then continues on for a few months or longer or if they try to join a ministry without changing how they dress on the outside they will be probably talked to about it. They will probably have someone say a loving word, then a stern word, maybe a “word from a god” for them, or taking it further if they don’t adhere to the holiness standards. If the holiness standards are not followed at that point it is considered a “heart problem” with the person.

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  63. TS00: On this I must strongly disagree. No one should have been compelled to die for any belief, ever. Man does not have the authority to compel beliefs, and God, who does, grants men the freedom to believe wrongly.

    I strongly agree with you here. Perhaps we are misunderstanding each other. In the first few centuries of Christianity the Christians were being tortured and killed by the Roman government in various waves of persecutions (ironically, for being athiests by denying the divinity of the emporer), not by other Christians. And the scriptures they had (pretty much the NT we have today) talked about things like counting the cost and the importance of not failing under persecution. This is why they had to know what beliefs were worth the persecution. In many areas of the empire it was not possible to be a sleuth Christian – it was truly costly. When the persecutions finally came to an end with the Edict of Milan the persecuted Christians had to decide what to do about the fairweather Christians who renounced their faith during the persecutions and then reclaimed it again once it was politically acceptable. And then there was the issue of Christians being repulsed by political Christianity, which led to the rise of monasticism with the desert fathers. In short, the “church” had to work through quite a lot of thorny issues and disagreements in the first few centuries, much like we do today. Whether or not we like how early Christians responded to the pressures they we under, we need to keep in mind that we are all contributing to Christian history just like they did.

    As far as whether or not the ancient decisions were political or spiritual, it was both. There were very spiritual people at odds with very political people. It’s always been like this in every human endeavor and always will be – those in it for the principle and those in it for the power.

    Reading the actual histories and biographies of early Christianity makes this discussion more human. It helps us to see that their struggles were real struggles and not simply academic exercises.

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  64. TS00: I agree that it is cult-like to demand people reject orthodox trinitarianism or be declared ‘unsaved’. I consider it equally cult-like to demand people accept orthodox trinitarianism or be declared ‘unsaved’.

    I disagree with both of these as well. If one must completely understand the nature of God, then we are all in trouble. Personally, I don’t care whether one believes in the Trinity or Oneness. Where this is a huge problem for some who leave the UPCI is that they have been repeatedly told that Trinitarianism is pagan and many are scared to death to even consider visiting a non-Oneness church. Since in most places these churches are few and far between, it leaves many initially without any churches to consider. That was pretty much my situation when I left my former UPC church. I knew I could no longer attend one of their churches and so it left me with driving 2 hours away to attend a former UPC church. That lasted less than a year.

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  65. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I know, from looking on FB, that he’s been approached in the last couple of years regarding child sexual abuse in UPCI churches, but he and the organization have done next to nothing. This is, IMHO, *appalling*.

    This is correct as I have seen it on David Bernard’s Facebook as well. There is a case I wrote about where it showed how Bernard promised a woman he would look into a situation at a church and then when I posted in my blog a letter she had written to a District Superintendent, Bernard removed that exchange as well as some others. Then he blocked her. She has never heard from him and in three months it will have been a year. See http://blogs.spiritualabuse.org/2018/11/20/jason-hubacek-upci-sexual-abuse-case-complaint-to-kevin-prince/

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  66. Amber,

    This might have changed over time. When my mother was there they were very judge mental of her right off the bat. I would say they gave her about a month to get herself in line before they started telling her about all of her problems were because of the way she dressed and her hair cut.

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  67. Friend,

    A college boyfriend once told me that skirts were sexier than pants because of the hint of “easier access.” After this, I started to see the irony in ultra-conservative groups requiring women to wear skirts.

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  68. Wild Honey: the irony

    Even the biggest prudes don’t have basic consensus about modesty for little girls. In some American schools, girls are now required to wear pants because skirts are immodest and the male teachers are uncomfortable.

    Elsewhere, of course, skirts are required, and pants are banned, for the same reason.

    It’s too bad these cantankerous men were not born with eyelids like most everybody else…

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  69. Ken F (aka Tweed): We would all benefit from reading the history of early Christianity to get a perspective on why the various councils addressed the various issues the way they did. For example, Christians were being martyred well before any of the councils met, and it was important for people to know where to draw the line on what beliefs one should die for. Whether or not the early church and the early councils got it right or wrong, they were stuggling with real human issues that had multiple sides and very real consequences.

    Amen and thank you.

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  70. Wild Honey:
    Friend,

    A college boyfriend once told me that skirts were sexier than pants because of the hint of “easier access.”After this, I started to see the irony in ultra-conservative groups requiring women to wear skirts.

    Sure that wasn’t a case of “Feature, Not Bug”?

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  71. Friend: It’s too bad these cantankerous men were not born with eyelids like most everybody else…

    I don’t know about “these cantankerous men”, but I’ve got better things to do with my time and energy than snoop around sin-sniffing. They need to Get A Life.

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  72. Ken F (aka Tweed): Reading the actual histories and biographies of early Christianity makes this discussion more human. It helps us to see that their struggles were real struggles and not simply academic exercises.

    And this is what we lose when we adopt a simplified and Mythologized Holy History.

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  73. Mr. Jesperson: The dad lived like a pastor, apostle and prophet all rolled up in one just to maximize his ability to exercise authority over people to abuse them anyway he wanted to.

    “When you encounter someone who has titled himself “Apostle” or “Prophet”, RUN!
    — my writing partner (the burned-out preacher-man)

    The most wicked men in the world are those that leverage God as their means of abusing others.

    “Nothing’s worse than a monster who thinks he’s right with God.”
    — Captain Mal Reynolds, Free Trader Serenity

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  74. Benn: It seems that the dividing line of being a cult ( to most scholars anyway) is, in part how anyone views the trinity

    The older I get, the more I’m convinced that the Almighty is way more concerned about what you (generic you) do than he is about what you believe.

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  75. I’ve never heard cultishness described in relation to the trinity. Usually it’s more like ‘charismatic leader, separated from others, control exercised, commune stuff, etc’.

    Now if you’re talking about a ‘what is Christianity really’ conversation, that’s a broader conversation.

    Many cults have odd theology, but I don’t think it’s really the important thing.

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  76. Muff Potter: The older I get, the more I’m convinced that the Almighty is way more concerned about what you (generic you) do than he is about what you believe.

    I totally agree. I mean, how mean people who claim to have “correct theology” aren’t loving their neighbors as themselves? Jesus did say that was the summary of all Scriptures. So if they can’t even do that, their conception of theology is worthless.

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  77. Lea: Many cults have odd theology, but I don’t think it’s really the important thing.

    One of the key signs of a cult is the belief that they are the only way to salvation. I think that many cults have distinguishing theology, or theology that is different in some way from the religion from which they derive. And it’s often that theology that they use to separate themselves as the only path to salvation. Not just Christian cults, but other religions’ cults, and things like New Age cults.

    So, I really don’t think the oneness theology is important, but the idea that if you don’t believe that, then you cannot be saved and you shouldn’t associate with those who aren’t “saved”.

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  78. Kez: Lois I attempted to visit your website but keep getting a 403 error message saying: It appears you don’t have permission to access this site…

    I just tried it and it worked.

    Yesterday the Internet went somewhat wonky for some of us including this site. I’m suspicious of one of the caching services that are used behind the scenes had issues but who knows.

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  79. Lea:
    I’ve never heard cultishness described in relation to the trinity. Usually it’s more like ‘charismatic leader, separated from others, control exercised, commune stuff, etc’.

    Now if you’re talking about a ‘what is Christianity really’ conversation, that’s a broader conversation.

    Many cults have odd theology, but I don’t think it’s really the important thing.

    Cult is a sorta useless term. It means different thongs to different groupings of people. I try not to use it.

    If archeologists say Cult, it means they are discussing are religious dig, as opposed to a trade or commerce site. Any religious practice devoted to divine being A B or C, is Cult.

    Somewhere in Evangelical/Fundamentalist history, Cult became a slur, especialy on Christian radio. I heard many times the three Cult redlines.

    1. Denial of Trinity.(big..big..asterisk) Denial is allways defined as any alteration of identity of Jesus Christ.
    2. Denial of Hell.
    3. Salvation is not exclusively faith.

    Examples of this radio propigation would be Bible Answer Man, and CSN Radio/ Calvary Chapel content.

    United Penticostal would be labeled as Cult, by typical Evangelical leaders. The same leaders who would not likely let out a peep over Complimentarianism, and its subordination structure.

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  80. “joining Trinitarian churches…. even attending a Trinitarian church means one has lost their salvation”

    The reverse of this is true as well, and it’s the standard playbook since the early church (before Luther and Calvin); those claiming to be of One True Doctrine (lit., orthodox) anathematized, excommunicated, and burned the work of those of those who might have been of different – if still Christian – doctrine (heterodox, ‘heretics’).

    Many Trinitarian churches of a conservative bent will have similar fences built around their own orthodoxy, though at the moment we know longer burn people at the stake over details of belief. Interestingly, when the Trinity was declared at Nicaea, most of the faithful shrugged their shoulders and went on about their business in their various, usually Arian, convictions.

    Thanks for your good work publishing and maintaining this site.

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  81. though at the moment we know longer burn people at the stake over details of belief

    But they will cut off all contact. And in a small town that can create all kinds of issues with earning a living when it involves things like real estate agents, lawyers, etc…

    And totally confuse some kids.

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  82. But they will cut off all contact

    Oh yes, that’s one of those ‘fences’ I’m referring to. My parents were mixed marriage (Protestant, Catholic) and eventually decided to move to a bigger town. I know whereof you speak.

    (correction: I know, I know! we no longer burn people at the stake over details of belief)

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  83. d4v1d: The reverse of this is true as well, and it’s the standard playbook since the early church (before Luther and Calvin); those claiming to be of One True Doctrine (lit., orthodox) anathematized, excommunicated, and burned the work of those of those who might have been of different – if still Christian – doctrine (heterodox, ‘heretics’).

    Um, sorry, but this sounds a lot like that Trail of Blood stuff, which has been discredited again and again.

    Please read *real* church history (including primary sources and secular sources). It’s much more complex than, much messier than, and very different from the standard mythology promulgated by so many fundamentalist churches.

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  84. Nathan Priddis: Cult is a sorta useless term. It means different thongs to different groupings of people. I try not to use it.

    This is actually not true in the context we’re using. Religious and social cults tend to have very similar characteristics that have very little to do with specific theology and everything to do with leadership control and social conditioning. They also tend to recruit in similar ways and target people who feel alienated.

    https://culteducation.com/warningsigns.html

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  85. Lea: So in this case I would say the odd theology is a means to an end, with the end being control and separation, basically.

    Yes, exactly. Theology in cults nearly always serves the purpose to control and isolate. But there’s innumerable ways to do that.

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  86. I appreciated all of the information shared in the above comments. UPIÇ churches tend to be very popular and strong in inner-city Hispanic neighborhoods. They appear to provide a more moral life (just like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who are also very popular) in a very dangerous world, especially for children. Unfortunately, since the churches are so insular, functioning within a culture that tends to hide sexual abuse (especially in the first generation; it tends to change the longer people are in the US), abuse is often never reported. The fact that the church in Wisconsin has made the news may also be good news for other victims in other UPIC churches.

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  87. Nathan:” Cult is a sorta useless term. It means different thongs to different groupings of people.”

    That just means you need to watch the context, not that the term is useless.

    It’s pretty easy to determine if you are talking archeology or manson.

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  88. GuyBehindtheCurtain:
    d4v1d and CGC

    Let’s make sure this stays civil.

    Also if either of you wants to debate conflicting history provide a link or few please.

    GBTC

    I have a T-shirt screen-printed with the message: “Warning: Irish Temper. Italian Attitude”

    But I always play nice. 😀

    Meanwhile, here is the Wikipedia article on Baptist Successionism / Trail of Blood. Again, not sure that’s what David was espousing, but it kinda sounded like it:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptist_successionism

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  89. ishy,

    ishy, looking at your link and Ten signs of a safe group/leader, i’m wondering if someone has done a compare and contrast between cultish leaders, and bad partners/spouses in a romantic relationship? Because I feel there is a lot of overlap here.

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  90. Lea:
    ishy, looking at your link and Ten signs of a safe group/leader, i’m wondering if someone has done a compare and contrast between cultish leaders, and bad partners/spouses in a romantic relationship? Because I feel there is a lot of overlap here.

    Would make a great doctoral thesis, wouldn’t it? I did a search and didn’t find anything, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it has been done.

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  91. Lea: I’ve never heard cultishness described in relation to the trinity. Usually it’s more like ‘charismatic leader, separated from others, control exercised, commune stuff, etc’.

    A friend from our old church (a Calvinist one with a charismatic leader which exercised more control than I was comfortable with) was recently telling me her husband angered some relatives on Facebook by calling another church a “cult” because of something said in a recent sermon. I observed that there are a number of Calvinist churches out there that display cult-like tendencies, too. Wishing I could be a fly on a wall should the comment ever be shared…

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  92. Friend: Even the biggest prudes don’t have basic consensus about modesty for little girls.

    Yes! I lived for a time in South Korea. Skirts that were short enough I’d be uncomfortable wearing them in public were perfectly acceptable on modest young women. But I was frowned at for wearing a tank top with 2 inch straps with my longer skirts.

    Not that I’m saying that either view of modesty is more “correct” than the other. Just observing that folks need to be careful calling cultural standards of modesty “Biblical.”

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  93. Friend,

    Oh man, flashback to old church. Kids ministry instituted a new policy that men could no longer change diapers. I heard a male volunteer explaining this to a new female volunteer he was training. She replied, “Well, it’s for your protection, of course.” Of course. Because grown men need to be protected from those lusty little babies who just might overpower them with their impure thoughts.

    Yes, it was a complementarian church. Only the men could be trusted to be pastors and elders, yet could not be trusted to change a baby diaper. Go figure.

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  94. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Um, sorry, but this sounds a lot like that Trail of Blood stuff, which has been discredited again and again.

    “Trail of Blood” is the exact same view of church history as the Mormons and JWs. To wit:

    1) When Christ founded the One True Church in 33AD, it was Perfect (just like ours).
    2) Then everything went off the rails after the original 12 Apostles and melted down into a Satanic Apostate False Church (Romish Popery).
    3) Then Our Founder was led by God to re-establish the Original New Testament Church (ours) exactly as it was in the Days of the Apostles.

    This is also the view on Islamic History as the Wahabi and similar Islamic factions which get in the news.

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  95. Well, this is just another example that nit-picking over precise doctrine is “of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Col 3:23)

    Isn’t it amazing how people can be enslaved to such a degree by nothing but fear of things which cannot be seen or known or tested? Anyone can say anything about your salvation! Their words have no power over your life unless you choose to believe them. You do not have to believe them. There are literally countless groups all claiming they have the only way to God and that all others are outside of his grace, yet they all disagree with each other on what that way is. And they all have followers who are convinced for some reason that *their* group is the only one with the “real” truth.

    The book of Isaiah says, and Jesus quoted this passage as referring to himself:

    “the Lord has anointed me
    To bring good news to the afflicted;
    He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to captives
    And freedom to prisoners”

    It is not his will that we be spiritual captives and prisoners like these kind of groups demand. He tore the temple veil in half, removing any doubt that we have to go through anyone else to reach God. He is near and accessible to every one of us.

    He also said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He also enraged the religious authorities of his day by proclaiming there were no persons outside of the grace of God.

    Jesus also said, “you will know them by their fruits.” Using peoples’ fear to keep them subject to abuse and control is terrible fruit.

    Be free.

    And may the truth be openly spoken and the guilty held accountable.

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  96. Nathan Priddis: United Penticostal would be labeled as Cult, by typical Evangelical leaders. The same leaders who would not likely let out a peep over Complimentarianism, and its subordination structure.

    During my time in-country in a cult-like “Fellowship”, Christianese cult-sniffers defined “Cult(TM)” entirely in terms of Theology and Doctrine, Not Repeat Not in controlling and abusive behavior to their people. While the Cult-Sniffers were parsing Theology letter-by-letter, all these abusive not-a-cults (oddly with the exact same Theology as the cult-sniffers — Fundagelical Pre-Trib Dispy) slipped past under their radar. And often used their clean bill of health as an additional weapon to beat down their people.

    While the escorts were depth-charging a whale on one side of the convoy, the real U-boat torpedoes bored in from the other side.

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  97. Friend: He seems to have given this a great deal of… thought.

    I used to think men like this were staunchly moral. Now I think their minds are in the gutter, and their goal is to make women destroy themselves through constant questions questions questions.

    Yes, definitely. He has let everyone know that it’s something he notices and obsesses over. Rather than “plucking out his eye” that is causing him to sin, as Jesus suggested, he wants to blame women for having legs. Believe me, covering them up will change *nothing.* The problem is in his own heart.

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  98. Linn: When I was a missionary in South America tight clothing on a woman wasn’t an issue, and I mean REALLY tight-but callout from the pulpit if a woman wore something sleeveless.

    At Liberty, there was a lot of calling out of collarbones. Like, to an obsessive amount and I remember one student going off in a class about how women should cover their collarbones so as to “not tempt men”.

    Creepy.

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  99. Lois: Do you happen to be in Australia? Periodically I hear from people there that the blog is inaccessible to them and I do not know
    why.

    Thanks, GBTC and Lois, for your replies. Yes, I’m in Australia and I’m still getting the 403 error: Forbidden. I did try across different browsers and phone and tablet but had the same error for all. For the problems with TWW I found the Duck Duck Go browser seemed to get around the issues there. But maybe that was a happy coincidence and everything on the TWW site had been sorted by then

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  100. Friend: Oddly, I’ve never heard anybody say, “I’m a collarbone man.”

    Neither have I. I can’t help but wonder if the constant discussion of it at LU actually convinced male students they should be lusting after them.

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  101. GuyBehindtheCurtain: Also if either of you wants to debate conflicting history provide a link or few please.

    For anyone interested in early church history, this book is very good: “Apostolic Fathers in English.” So is this one: “Eusebius: The Church History.”

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  102. ishy: Like, to an obsessive amount and I remember one student going off in a class about how women should cover their collarbones so as to “not tempt men”.

    I had no idea collarbones were considered to be so sexy.

    I had a boyfriend once who thought it was super hot when my hair was a little wet, which I didn’t really get.

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  103. i’m amused by the idea that collarbones are so alluring. But I had an ex who thought it was hot when my hair was half wet? Which i never really got.

    Just shows you men like different things, and it’s all cultural, and it like walking on quicksand for women (or little girls) to try to avoid everything they might like.

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  104. Kez: Yes, I’m in Australia and I’m still getting the 403 error: Forbidden. I did try across different browsers and phone and tablet but had the same error for all.

    There seems to be something on your country’s end that is causing that issue. Those who were not able to access via their phone in the past have shared they were able to do so on their computer.

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  105. Lea: Just shows you men like different things, and it’s all cultural, and it like walking on quicksand for women (or little girls) to try to avoid everything they

    It’s ridiculous to think that girls and women need to avoid any of these things. Those men need to grow up and get over it.

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  106. Muff Potter: The older I get, the more I’m convinced that the Almighty is way more concerned about what you (generic you) do than he is about what you believe.

    “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”

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  107. SiteSeer: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”

    Don’t we have to nail down ‘the orthodox truth’? Don’t we need entire Institutes to define christianity, and punish or murder any who dare dissent?

    Sorry, CGC, although I am sure there are distortions, there is also pretty consistent scholarship on the historical punishment, banning or killing of those who dared to depart from the Institutional Church’s claims of orthodoxy.

    I am aware that Calvin and friends were just as guilty, but one cannot deny that the early Catholic Church had a habit of dealing harshly with so-called heretics. Both groups have tried desperately to whitewash their more despicable history, but it is pretty difficult to erase, as so much was documented. Foxe was determined to point out the crimes of the Catholic Church, but the Anabaptists kept just as detailed of records on the martyrs created by the Reformers.

    Although society has decided burning and other forms of torture are not becoming to ‘the church’, tyranny does indeed continue in the disciplining and excommunication that some fundamentalist churches practice today against those who dare dissent from doctrine or even pastoral authority.

    Today, Protestants are more often guilty of spiritual tyranny, but we cannot deny the well-recorded past.

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  108. Wild Honey: Yes!I lived for a time in South Korea.Skirts that were short enough I’d be uncomfortable wearing them in public were perfectly acceptable on modest young women.But I was frowned at for wearing a tank top with 2 inch straps with my longer skirts.

    Not that I’m saying that either view of modesty is more “correct” than the other.Just observing that folks need to be careful calling cultural standards of modesty “Biblical.”

    Hi, Wild Honey! Where in South Korea? My older son lives in Gimhae, next to Busan. Loves it. He previously lived in Tianjin, China, an ugly industrial city. Gimhae is so much nicer. It reminds him of home (rural NC). There’s a mountain practically in his backyard!

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  109. Lea: ishy, looking at your link and Ten signs of a safe group/leader, i’m wondering if someone has done a compare and contrast between cultish leaders, and bad partners/spouses in a romantic relationship? Because I feel there is a lot of overlap here.

    I think you are right. I saw this dynamic with a couple in leadership in our old church.

    From the website:

    Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader… Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior [Certain phrases just handed down unquestioningly like “small groups multiply, that’s just how it is”]… Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement [Asked a simple question about governance and the husband answered on her behalf]… Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests [“Ladies, your primary ministry is to your husband!” I thought it was to Jesus…]

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  110. Headless Unicorn Guy: “Trail of Blood” is the exact same view of church history as the Mormons and JWs. To wit:

    1) When Christ founded the One True Church in 33AD, it was Perfect (just like ours).
    2) Then everything went off the rails after the original 12 Apostles and melted down into a Satanic Apostate False Church (Romish Popery).
    3) Then Our Founder was led by God to re-establish the Original New Testament Church (ours) exactly as it was in the Days of the Apostles.

    This is also the view on Islamic History as the Wahabi and similar Islamic factions which get in the news.

    Yep. Eggzackly.

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  111. Friend: Oddly, I’ve never heard anybody say, “I’m a collarbone man.”

    I remember a guy I was playing in a golf tournament with joking about how a woman that he had seen, may have had the nicest clavicle that he has ever seen..

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  112. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Hi, Wild Honey! Where in South Korea? My older son lives in Gimhae, next to Busan.

    Bucheon, between Incheon and Seoul. Pretty much a giant sprawling metropolis, but there was always something to do! The times I got out into the countryside were nice, there are many beautiful places there.

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  113. Child Sex Abuse Allegations Raised Against United Pentecostal’s Calvary Gospel Church, Wisconsin…

    CALVARY GOSPEL Church?

    It’s getting so if you see the word “Gospel(TM)” in a church’s official name, RUN!

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  114. Wild Honey: cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior [Certain phrases just handed down unquestioningly like “small groups multiply, that’s just how it is”]…

    Like a virus infecting cell after cell?

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  115. ishy: Neither have I. I can’t help but wonder if the constant discussion of it at LU actually convinced male students they should be lusting after them.

    Don’t think of Pink Elephants,
    Don’t think of Pink Elephants,
    Don’t think of Pink Elephants,
    Don’t think of Pink Elephants,
    Don’t think of Pink Elephants…

    P.S. COLLARBONE fetish paraphilia? 30 years in Furry Fandom and THAT’s a new one on me.

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  116. Lea: Just shows you men like different things, and it’s all cultural, and it like walking on quicksand for women (or little girls) to try to avoid everything they might like.

    And besides, who really wants that? Certainly not most men.

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  117. Nathan Priddis,

    I took this from the Gotquestions website.
    According to Mormonism, Jesus is a created being, the first spirit to be born of the Father (Mormon Doctrine, p.129) and a celestial mother (Mormon Doctrine, p.516). Therefore, Jesus could not be the eternal God or part of an eternal Trinity. Mormons also teach that both the Father and the Son are men with bodies of flesh and bone (Doctrine & Covenants 132:20; Articles of Faith, p 38); as two separate people, the Father and the Son cannot be considered “one.”

    Mormons also teach that Jesus is just one of many sons of God. Jesus is referred to specifically as “a son of God” in the Book of Mormon (Alma 36:17). Lucifer, or the devil, is another son of God in Mormon theology (Mormon Doctrine, p.163). Further, Mormonism teaches that the number of gods is increasing. Any man on Earth can one day become the god of another planet and populate it with children born to him from his eternal wife (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345-354). Any one of those children can later become a god in his own right (Doctrine & Covenants 132:20). Thus, there is not just One God, triune or not; there are many, many gods (Book of Abraham 4:3).

    Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, clearly rejected the Trinity. He wrote, “Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God. . . . All are crammed into one God according to sectarianism [the Christian faith]. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God—he would be a giant or a monster” (Teachings, p. 372). Other Mormon writers such as James Talmage have confirmed Mormon denial of the Trinity (Articles of Faith, p.35).“

    I suppose this makes them a cult. Their distinguishing “the Trinity” (not in the Bible) and the Godhead (in the Bible) is IMO a smokescreen.

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  118. Robert: “And besides, who really wants that? Certainly not most men.”

    I mean, creepy godthard sold all the young girls and their parents on the idea that what he personally liked best was actually the only ‘godly’ way to dress/style hair/etc. So.

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  119. Bridget: It’s ridiculous to think that girls and women need to avoid any of these things. Those men need to grow up and get over it.

    Those men have based their very lives on the absurd.
    Reason, moderation, and common sense are long gone from them.

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  120. Lea: Many cults have odd theology, but I don’t think it’s really the important thing.

    For a long time, the word “cult” was used as a doctrinal label. The seminal book “The Kingdom of the Cults”, published in 1965 (and yes, I had to look that up), which although I didn’t read from cover to cover, I did skim at a certain depth, defines all of its eponymous cults that way.

    I’ve since come to understand the word “cult” entirely differently. Some of the most toxic, evil, destructive, hell-feeding cults of the last few years have been churches. Our resident cranially-challenged unicorn laddie will perhaps wish me to quote Clive Lewis at this point: Nowhere do [demons] tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar. But all [generic] you need to do to pass muster among fundagelicals today is quote the biblescriptures a bit, keep women in the nursery with the babies and condemn those horrible gay homosexuals. It’s never been easier for cults to hide in plain sight.

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  121. Lowlandseer,

    At least they make an attempt to described the Godhead. And they also attempt to identify the Satan. You can also see where a 2019 Evangelical with any entry level knowledge, will assume a Godhead understanding, instead of Trinity language is frightening.

    What you posted, is at the core of my frustration with overseers in the Churches of God. Because I am angry, not with the delving into doctrinal minutiae of abberant groups, but a refusal to simply declare Ananthema.

    Leaders, it seems are loath to declare that when a person. communicates with one of the Heavenly Host, it is forbidden. That no visitation of angels is to be accepted, and their words are to be rejected. There is no need to evaluate the jingle jangle of their individual teachings.

    However, if such a position was adopted, it would trigger a crisis, and possible global collapse of the Faith.
    As was spoken in the Parable of the Tares, the Tares could not be uprooted, without uprooting the Wheat as well. It would have to wait until the time of the heat, and angels would be sent into the field to bind the Tares, for later burning.

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  122. ION: Cricket

    I haven’t been following the Third Test in detail, so I don’t – for instance – know who won the toss or who’s batted first. But I know that Australia established a commanding position. This will either mean a huge score for the loss of 3 wickets or fewer, or else that England were skittled for 230 or less, with Australia approaching 100 for the loss of no more than 1 wicket. Australia cannot achieve a 5-0 whitewash, as the Second Test was curtailed by rain; but they are marching inexorably to a 4-0 series win.

    IHTIH

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  123. Wild Honey: Bucheon, between Incheon and Seoul. Pretty much a giant sprawling metropolis, but there was always something to do! The times I got out into the countryside were nice, there are many beautiful places there.

    Cool! Did you like living there? If I may ask, what were you doing there? Did you like Korea in general?

    Gimhae has only 500,O00 people, so, by Asian standards, it’s just a village, LOL! But of course nearby Busan is much larger (and also a resort city), so it’s where my son and his colleagues go for nightlife.

    Tianjin (where older son used to live) has 14 million people. Yet it’s only the third largest city in China. Mind-boggling!

    My younger son is currently a graduate student in International Studies at NC State. He is living on campus this semester, and his roommate is from Hangzhou, a city of 7 million…but a scenic, beautiful spot with a semi-tropical climate and lots of green spaces. That makes all the difference! Tianjin was freezing cold, industrial, and ugly, with hardly any green spaces at all. Greenery is so crucial to mental health IMHO.

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  124. Lowlandseer: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Never said or implied that they (wrongs) do.
    I myself am a Trinitarian, but on my own terms.
    I believe in it not because ancient Church Fathers say that I must believe it, but rather because it makes sense to me.

    If someone else doesn’t believe as I do? So what?
    I guess in addition to being a Trinitarian, I’m also an Idontcareian.

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  125. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Cool! Did you like living there? If I may ask, what were you doing there? Did you like Korea in general?

    It’s complicated. 🙂

    I was teaching English to children at a private language school, pretty common over there. There were many things I liked, and when I walk into an Asian grocery store I still (10 years later) get a comfortable sense of “home,” oddly.

    I appreciated the deep family sense of family responsibility. People were also generally very welcoming. As a white Westerner I was “cool” and “exotic,” so it was great for my self esteem. And as a young woman, I was generally seen as non-threatening, so my experience may have been different were I different.

    My biggest struggle was adjusting to a culture where honor (which often translated into keeping up appearances) was valued more than honesty. And adjusting to what I perceived as a rigid hierarchy at my workplace.

    I think Korean culture also values green space, but when you’re trying to cram the population of Canada into a space the size of California (a very rough analogy), there’s only so much to go around.

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  126. Wild Honey: It’s complicated.

    I was teaching English to children at a private language school, pretty common over there. There were many things I liked, and when I walk into an Asian grocery store I still (10 years later) get a comfortable sense of “home,” oddly.

    I appreciated the deep family sense of family responsibility. People were also generally very welcoming. As a white Westerner I was “cool” and “exotic,” so it was great for my self esteem. And as a young woman, I was generally seen as non-threatening, so my experience may have been different were I different.

    My biggest struggle was adjusting to a culture where honor (which often translated into keeping up appearances) was valued more than honesty. And adjusting to what I perceived as a rigid hierarchy at my workplace.

    I think Korean culture also values green space, but when you’re trying to cram the population of Canada into a space the size of California (a very rough analogy), there’s only so much to go around.

    You were teaching ESL at a hagwon? That’s exactly what my son is doing. Unfortunately, he has to pretty much fight to get paid every quarter. But eventually they do pay him, so he sticks it out. He loves every other aspect of the job except the pay issue. But not getting paid is a pretty big issue!

    That’s also what he was doings in Tianjin — teaching ESL.

    When his South Korean contract expires next March, I hope he will return and get his teacher certification here in NC. He loves teaching. But he also seems to love living abroad, so who knows what will happen? I just have to trust and back off, because it’s his life, not mine.

    Talk about a small world, though! And yes, he has mentioned the honor culture thing to me. I think China has it, too.

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  127. Headless Unicorn Guy: “Trail of Blood” is the exact same view of church history as the Mormons and JWs. To wit:

    1) When Christ founded the One True Church in 33AD, it was Perfect (just like ours).
    2) Then everything went off the rails after the original 12 Apostles and melted down into a Satanic Apostate False Church (Romish Popery).
    3) Then Our Founder was led by God to re-establish the Original New Testament Church (ours) exactly as it was in the Days of the Apostles.

    This is also the view on Islamic History as the Wahabi and similar Islamic factions which get in the news.

    Certain branches of Churches of Christ think similarly. “We got it right in the 1st century, then the church went into a period of apostasy until OUR HERO, Alexander Campbell, showed up with the proper way to interpret the Scriptures!”

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  128. Tina: Certain branches of Churches of Christ think similarly. “We got it right in the 1st century, then the church went into a period of apostasy until OUR HERO, Alexander Campbell, showed up with the proper way to interpret the Scriptures!”

    Back in the day when I was a fundagelical, Papa Chuck (Calvary Chapel) was OUR HERO.

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  129. Tina: “We got it right in the 1st century, then the church went into a period of apostasy until OUR HERO, Alexander Campbell, showed up with the proper way to interpret the Scriptures!”

    You can substitute Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russel, Mary Baker Eddy, Sun Myung Moon, Mo David, Jim Jones, David Koresh, or half a dozen Trad Antipopes for Alexander Campbell without changing the meaning of that sentence.

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  130. I have a question…I attended a UPC church in Madison, Wi. near the UW campus around 1974. They were an amazing congregation. Are they caught up in any of this? thank you for any information you can give…

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