Did Charles Simpson’s “Covenant Theology” Influence Sovereign Grace Ministries?

"Badness is only spoiled goodness."  CS Lewis



The Shepherding Movement (aka Discipleship Movement), which began in the early 1970s, has proven to be one of the most destructive movements in recent church history. Bob Mumford (one of the Fort Lauderdale Five who is still living) has documented what transpired in an article entitled “The Five Teachers”, which can be found on his website.

Mumford begins with these words:

“In 1971 we became officially involved with New Wine Magazine and Christian Growth Ministries in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. There was a sense that among the five of us – Derek Prince (Assemblies of God), Don Basham (Disciples of Christ), Ern Baxter (Charismatic), Charles Simpson (Southern Baptist) and myself (Pentecostal) – there would be a diversification of teaching which would provide a unique balance. The five of us did not realize how important our initial commitment was or where it would lead us. Although we were all very different in personality, ministry style and background, God gave a unity born of the Holy Spirit. Three of these anointed leaders – Don Basham, Ern Baxter and Derek Prince – have since gone to their eternal reward….Like many other movements, it blessed and strengthened many, while injuring and disappointing others. The Fort Lauderdale Five disbanded in 1984.”


Mumford then explains that he issued a sincere apology for the harm the Shepherding Movement. Here’s what he has to say:

“In 1987, I wrote a national apology for the extremes and injuries that occurred, seeking to heal and restore the many that remained confused and concerned. This was well received by most and began to bring healing and reconciliation to many. However, the discipleship movement, travel, warfare and unrelenting pressures had taken its predictable toll on me personally….”


As you may remember from our article about Derek Prince, he issued a public apology about the harm caused by the Shepherding Movement. Has the other living member of the Fab Five ever issued a formal apology about Shepherding/Discipleship? Here’s what we found in an article published in Ministry Today Magazine.


“Charles Simpson, who leads a major segment of those who continue in the legacy of the movement, has said that human carnality won out all too often. While many were hurt as some leaders improperly exercised spiritual authority, mostly ignored are those who benefited from the movement and those who continue in its varied expressions today.


The Covenant movement, led by Simpson, maintains a commitment to many of the Shepherding movement's founding principles of accountability, covenant relationship, spiritual fatherhood and spiritual family–principles they believe have matured and moderated over time.”


Did you catch what Simpson said about the legacy of the Shepherding Movement? Let me repeat it for emphasis. “…mostly ignored are those who benefited from the movement and those who continue in its varied expressions today”. Hmmm….. So the Shepherding Movement continues today in its “varied expressions”…

Dee and I began investigating Sovereign Grace Ministries in the Fall of 2008. We have been following two blogs – SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge – in order to learn about the abuses that are taking place within this “family of churches”. On March 29, 2009 (TEN DAYS after our very first TWW post), someone published a comment on SGM Survivors which stated:

“I was wondering whether anyone knows or can flesh out the history of SGM in PDI and its association with the “Discipleship” or “Shepherding” Movement. I am aware of this history but am interested in whether there is written (or web-based) information about it.”

Kris, who moderates the blog, responded in comment #266, which you can find in the thread here:

“CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomczak (PDI’s co-founders) definitely had associations with the so-called Ft. Lauderdale Five back in the day. From what I’ve learned, they participated in some of the same conferences back in the heyday of the shepherding movement. PDI came within a hair’s breadth of succumbing to the gross errors of the shepherding movement, but somehow avoided the most dramatic stuff, like the mechanics of tithing to one’s “upline” (true shepherding had members paying tithes to their overseers, who in turn paid tithes to THEIR overseers, and so on). The Gothardite and shepherding concept of “umbrellas of authority” became embedded deep into PDI’s culture…If you search online for information about the “Ft. Lauderdale Five” and some of the key names from that movement, you will discover more information about what the shepherding movement stood for…and then you can see how such a movement dovetailed rather well with the sort of small group model that PDI was built upon, as well as what CJ Mahaney continues to teach about obeying one’s authorities.”


I was actively reading this thread two years ago and began wondering whether the horror stories that current and former SGMers shared were the result of abusive shepherding tactics. A few comments later, I read this:

“Charles Simpson, one of the founders of the Shepherding Movement, spoke at several Celebration East conferences as late as the 1990s. At that time he appeared to still believe in some form of Shepherding…”


As soon as I read that comment I theorized that Sovereign Grace Ministries (then PDI) must be one of the “varied expressions” of the Shepherding Movement that Charles Simpson mentioned in the Ministry Today Magazine article. I surmised that Charles Simpson must have “discipled” Mahaney and Tomczak in Covenant Theology, which they appear to have implemented in their Care Groups.

Dr. Steven Lambert has done extensive research on the Shepherding Movement, and his article “Charismatic Captivation” has been an excellent resource. You can find it here.

This is what Dr. Lambert had to say about Charles Simpson’s position on Shepherding (now called “Covenant Relationships” or “Covenant Theology” by Simpson):

“At present, of the original Fab Five, apparently only Simpson continues to stubbornly refuse to renounce and repent from the heretical Discipleship principles and practices. Simpson's admitted intransigence and explicit refusal to acknowledge the erroneousness of Discipleship teaching is reflected in the aforementioned Charisma & Christian Life article reporting Mumford's recantation:
Charles Simpson told Charisma that he supports Mumford's statement as it stands in that it comes from Mumford. But he warns against too much analysis and against dismissing discipleship principles as a result of this. Ern Baxter declined to comment about Mumford's statement.


Simpson said "individual actions" did need to be righted. "I have done things that I repent of and I do want forgiveness and I do want to see restoration," he said. "I say with Moses, who in Numbers 11 said, 'Lord, let me not see my wretchedness.' I think I have seen some of mine."

"My problem is not repenting; my problem is to continue leading…."


Simpson said he still believes in and teaches covenant relationships. "That's the only qualification," he said. "I put no qualifications on the fact that I did things wrong. But I CANNOT RENOUNCE all of the [covenant] relationships I have. I CANNOT DO THAT as a matter of CONSCIENCE." ”


Unfortunately, after the Fort Lauderdale Five split up due to the carnage from their abusive movement, shepherding went underground. I fear that the Shepherding Movement has reared its ugly head in PDI (now SGM). I am grieved for all the victims who appear to have suffered at the hands of abusive leadership in Sovereign Grace Ministries.

I am encouraged that one Christian leader may FINALLY be waking up and speaking out against abusive shepherding tactics. There is a pastor in Fort Lauderdale (of all places!) whom we have previously criticized that appears to be “getting it”. Tullian Tchividjian, D. James Kennedy’s successor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, recently wrote an interesting blog post entitled: “Reminders Are More Effective Than Rebukes”, which you can read here.

He begins the post as follows:

“Are you tired of being told that if you’re really serious about God, you must be in an “accountability group?” You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where you and a small group of “friends” arrange for a time each week to get together and pick each other apart–uncovering layer after layer after layer of sin? The ones where all parties involved believe that the guiltier we feel the more holy we are? The ones where you confess your sin to your friends but it’s never enough? No matter what you unveil, they’re always looking for you to uncover something deeper, darker, and more embarrassing than what you’ve fessed up to. It’s usually done with such persistent invasion that you get the feeling they’re desperately looking for something in you that will make them feel better about themselves.

Well, I hate those groups!”

Tchividjian then gets to the point of his post by writing:

“The real reason, however, that I hate the kind of “accountability groups” described above is because the primary (almost exclusive, in my experience) focus is always on our sin, not on our Savior. Because of this, these groups breed self-righteousness, guilt, and the almost irresistible temptation to pretend–to be less than honest. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in “accountability groups” where there has been little to no attention given to the gospel whatsoever. There’s no reminder of what Christ has done for our sin–”cleansing us from its guilt and power”–and the resources that are already ours by virtue of our union with him. These groups produce a “do more, try harder” moralism that robs us of the joy and freedom Jesus paid dearly to secure for us. They start with the narcissistic presupposition that Christianity is all about cleaning up and getting better–it’s all about personal improvement.”


I especially appreciated this “observation” (SGM lingo for pointing out someone’s sin) that Tchividjian also made in his February , 2011, post.

“Christianity is not first about our getting better, our obedience, our behavior, and our daily victory over remaining sin – as important as all these are. It’s first about Jesus! It’s about his person and subsitutionary work – his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, session, and promised return.”

I hope Tullian’s reformed buddies, Josh Harris and C.J. Mahaney, are taking notes…


Lydia's Corner: Numbers 22:21-23:30 Luke 1:57-80 Psalm 58:1-11 Proverbs 11:12-13



Did Charles Simpson’s “Covenant Theology” Influence Sovereign Grace Ministries? — 45 Comments

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    The title threw me for a bit. I first thought you were talking about what has historically been called “covenant theology,” which is simply the idea that God has continued expressing his covenant of grace with his people in many forms throughout redemptive history, from his covenant with Adam through the Mosaic, Davidic, and new covenants, among others.

    This “covenant theology” sounds like something totally different.

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    Interesting observation. Did you know that the shepherding movement had strong ties to covenant theology and combined it with the charismatic movement? This is the same stuff that is preached over at SGM, well, at least when they used to do the charismatic thing which they are slowly getting rid of because their new buddies are not real big on this stuff.

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    Bob Mumford of the Fab Five hobnobbed with Chalcedon, too. It was like a great big shepherding love fest. He is one who is also responsible for the overlap between charismatics and shepherding.

    I attended a Fab Five founded church, though because Mumford was so popular with people, I was really shocked when I first learned that it was Simpson who was instrumental in establishing what once grew to be more than thirty churches in Maryland. That denomination in MD had dwindled to about 7 churches when I moved there in the early ’90s. The origin of the group goes right back to Simpson, but we were also influenced by Gothard’s shepherding and by SGM. Those lines all used to be very fuzzy.

    There are Great Commission people (another shepherding group) who were Calvinists, and their denom does not have a policy (much like the SBC), Gothard is a unique and atypical blend with both Calvinistic features and dispensational features. I would say that in the early days, especially in Maryland, these groups all strongly influenced each other. There’s a church called Greater Grace in Baltimore, and we had people cycle in and out of there, from there, too. It used to be a big, interdenominational love fest when people like Mahaney were just putting their beliefs together. I don’t know if people knew that or remember.

    Our ministers loved Mahaney, and our youth groups within the system of churches loved, loved, loved their youth programs. You could stop a random church member where I attended with some history with our denomination (New Covenant Churches), and most of them had some knowledge or had participated in some SGM/PoD thing at some point. Folks used to go to some thing called “Care and Share,” if I remember it correctly. People loved it. And it was in a day when everyone was a little light on real doctrine and hard on the unspoken rules of shepherding. Mike Ratliffe would always make a trek through the DC area, stop at the White House and prophesy, go to SGM (I think), and then he’d trek up to our church near Baltimore/Annapolis.

    We had some older elders and older people, many of whom are now gone, who transitioned in and out of SGM, long before my time. Both our denom and SGM were charismatic, but our denom was kind of open ended about the Calvinism element. Our denom was predominantly semi-pelagian, and the Calvinists were tolerated and thought of as resident eggheads while I was there, yet there have been recurring church splits and the hard core Calvinists leave.

    The older elders who bounced into our denom were hush hush about why, but I was once told by a guy who I hope is now in heaven that there were sexual sin problems there. (But LOTS of Pentecostal churches out of that same era with similar origins also had sexual sin problems including the Calvary Temple churches.) There was an exodus at some point of some people from SGM, around the early ’80s? Everyone that I knew from the old days has died, and the generation that is just up and coming know Bob Mumford’s name but some of the young people have never heard of Simpson. But they know about SGM. And some don’t know that they (the New Covenant Churches) follow New Covenant Theology unless they went to the small seminary they had. All of these connections to the Fab Five and SGM are downplayed.

    Our services operated like SGMs. In many ways, we were like poor country cousins. I also wonder if the people from these 30 New Covenant churches that dissolved down into 7 ended up at SGM.

    All that said, I don’t know if you can trace very thick lines between Simpson and SGM. Too many people bounced around after church splits over doctrine and sex scandals and other things. Simpson and especially Mumford were involved at Chalcedon. I learned about Chalcedon from the New Covenant people. I learned about SGI from them too.

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    Correction of above about the Great Commission group

    — meant to say that some of them were calvinists but that the denom did not have a policy about what you were. You could be arminian/semi-pelagian.

    It is much like the policy in the SBC.


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    Cindy K,

    Thanks for providing a wealth of information about the interconnections in the Maryland Christian community when PDI was being established. Ironically, I worked in downtown Baltimore and lived 17 miles north of the city from early January til mid December of 1982.

    I wondered whether there were connections between Charles Simpson and SGM after it ceased to be PDI. Jim, who started SGM Refuge, posted the following comment at SGM Survivors:

    “After Hurricane Katrina, SGM gave funds to 3 churches-

    Their church in Louisiana, Lig Duncan’s church, and Charles Simpson’s church.”

    It’s comment #109 in this thread http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/?p=183&cp=3

    Does anyone besides me find this interesting?

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    Lig Duncan’s church is in Jackson, MS. Right? Must have been the T4G connection to funnel it through Duncan.

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    Always follow the money.

    It was a political move to give to Duncan’s church, clearly. So why would the gift to Simpson’s church be any different? If they were giving to churches in states contiguous with the Gulf of Mexico to distribute to where it was needed most in their state, doesn’t that tell you who their closest contact is in the area?

    With everything being a drama for public show, it does send a message. I’m not surprised though, considering how inbred all these groups are around DC. It used to be thick with Simpson churches there.

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    @ Cindy K: do you know Gary and Susan Bergel?

    Greater Grace/New Covenant… sheesh. I’d forgotten (or tried to forget) those names ’til reading your comments.

    What was the name of the church in Columbia, MD that was associated with Greater Grace – or was it just simply a branch of Greater Grace?

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    Edited to add: I guess I should say “DID you know…,” and I ask only because Bergel was (probably still is) a Big Wheel in some circles in the Baltimore-D.C. area – and beyond.

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    And… as Cindy K has said, there was a LOT more going on in the Balt.-D.C. area than SGM.

    (Too much more, if you ask me… a former attendee of a New Covenant church, “pastored” by Gary Bergel and a few others.)

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    I’ve been gone too long to recall names anymore. If there was bad blood between a pastor and someone who moved to a sister church or Greater Grace or Sovereign Grace, you never heard the names mentioned thereafter. I don’t remember the Bergels, but if he had a run in with Jack Cox who seemed to take things over, no one would utter his name. The Eastern Shore people would mention names to me (people who came from our church!) and used to be surprised that I’d never even heard of them, but if they there was a tangle with some *elder* (bow,scrape) or with Jack, it was “understood” that their names were not to be spoken.

    I don’t remember names anymore. Bob Wright comes to mind. Ron Carter who ended up at Calvary Temple, and he died a couple of years ago. We worked pretty closely with and I really liked the Eastern Shore’s pastor who was there in the mid-’90s, but I can’t remember his name. I can only recall Chris Peeler’s name (Arnold). We used to have ladies retreats with all sorts of people, too. Dorothy Schmidt used to come from Rockville to preach, but I can’t remember the church’s name. There was a wild woman pastor in Laurel, too, and she was all mixed up with Gwen Shaw and the End Time Handmaidens. Then there was the Beth Messiah crowd, and they were very cliquish. It was all so weird — a big shepherding cult fest, and people bounced around between and among them.

    People will say that there’s no Calvinist and Charismatic churches besides SGM, and I don’t get it because there are so many Simpsonesque independent churches that he planted. There are a bunch of them here where I live in Michigan. We even went to a Church of God here, and I found their name on the Simpson website listed as an affiliate. (We’d already quit going there by then!)

    There is also the blessing of forgetting — and it was I sign of healing for me.

    I hope that you’re doing well and I hope that perhaps the Bergels got wise and got out.

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    Note — Dorothy Schmidt used to come up from Rockville to preach AT LADIES MEETINGS

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    Charles Simpson was a keynote speaker at SGM’s Celebration 2001 and spent time speaking at Dave Harvey’s church the same year.

    My Post #46 –


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    End Times Handmaidens? Was that a joke or was it real?

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    Welcome to our blog. You have so much information and I am so grateful you are taking the time to share it with us.

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    Gwen Shaw was a big deal with my family and my local church. She made a trek every year to the Blue Mountain Christian Retreat in the Poconos which is how we knew of her. And I took her vows because I saw it as something that would help me cope with the Maryland cult, with my family’s encouragement. I came out of the Assemblies of God, but that was never enough for my circle of friends (mostly old ladies and most have passed on). I was taught to supplement with Word of Faith televangelists and parachurch groups like the ETHs. They have a convention in DC every year.

    I’m okay with traditional Church of God type ideals in terms of tongues, but I am unhappy with Word of Faith. I was taught by my wise old very holy lady mentors that the way to get closer to God was to get more signs and wonders and power. And to do that, you followed signs and wonders. They loved Gwen Shaw. I loved the Zionism and worship dance, and I would have done anything for God to use me. I once did everything anyone told me to do from Benny Hinn to whoever Mom told me to follow. The “vows” are very generic, and you just set yourself aside for God to use. They have no eschatology in them and the statement is not strange itself. But you must fast for 3 weeks to be eligible.

    I refused to have any more to do with Gwen, primarily, because she prayed for “strange fire” to baptize us there in the Poconos in ’97. Her preaching was entirely “off”, but I’d recently been exit counseled. I also thought I saw some holy roller spiritual things that were discomforting. The next time my mom went back alone the following year to hear Gwen, a stranger beside her in the pew said that “Gwen has a familiar spirit.”

    Gwen emulated Amy Semple McPhereson in many ways. Very long story short which you can link to from my link list at my website, Gwen is a theosophist. She, like the Kansas City Prophets who talk to “Emma”, speaks to spirits and interviews people who do in order to get ideas, per the testimonies of those who left her inner circle. Some of her books which I thought were just poorly written were largely plagiarized from a new age writer who had been a mormon. They are based near Jasper, AR. Basically, they follow the general message of dispensationalism to get everybody saved quickly before the end, and people get to feel important and special if they become an ETH.

    I wanted to get re-baptized after I learned all of this stuff!!!!

    It’s real, and I lived and likely live to some extent to tell about it.

    I said something to Gary DeMar one time, that “I used to be an ETH,” and he looked shocked. Perhaps he thought I was kidding, too.

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    @ Cindy: gosh, I really didn’t know any of the people you’re talking about, though I do recall hearing about weirdness at Beth Messiah. (You were in MD; I was in NoVA, and there’s a world of difference, apparently…)

    I wish I could tell you that the Bergels have gotten out of the shepherding cult-fest (great description!), but afaik, they’re still in pretty deep and running a “church” out at the very western end of the NoVA suburbs (of D.C., for those who aren’t from there and/or have never lived there).

    But this was ages ago – my last contact with any of these people (except for a couple of friends who migrated over the PDI) was in the late 80s. I do recall Don Basham speaking at the REston, VA Covenant Life church; also Mahesh Chavda (who was closely associated with the Princes). I even met one of Derek and Lydia Prince’s adopted daughters through a mutual friend who had worked with them at one time.

    And then… I moved to another church (in D.C., this time) which seemed to be very much *non*-discipleship movement … but which had underpinnings of it (as it turned out) as well as close associations with some of the worst excesses of Calvary Chapel, Third Wave and – crucial in this case – UK-style weird charismaticism coupled with an increasing emphasis on an OT-oriented Calvinism (though I should note that their theology was not identified as Calvinistic per se, at least when I was still there, which was almost 10 years ago…).

    @ Dee: oh, the End Time Handmaidens are quite real. (Though I’ve only ever heard of them; have never had any contact.) There are quite a few small groups in the D.C. area that have invested themselves deeply in a kind of cultic, mystical “propheticism,” for lack of a better word. One of them is embedded in the church that booted me (Christ Our Shepherd, in D.C.) – the prophetic/intercessory group is part of Lydia Fellowship International and is the brainchild of the “pastor’s” late mom (Shelagh McAlpine), but heavily promoted by both the “pastor” (Stuart McAlpine) and his wife, Celia.

    If you go to the church’s website (Google it), you will not see much of anything that points to weird Third Wave-ness, but… in my experience, the stranger things never make it to the ears of anyone who’s not sitting in church, because the speaker’s tie is generally draped over his/her lapel mike when those kinds of issues are being discussed. (So that none of what’s being said is picked up by the house recording machine – or anyone else’s.)

    There are a LOT of things that I never want to think about again, let alone remember! I think Cindy K is right: forgetfulness can be a great blessing and – imo – part of the process of putting harmful churches and parachurch movements behind us…

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    I peek in here now and then for a couple of years now, but all of you do quite a fine job tackling this stuff on your own. There’s rarely anything that I can add that you and the people who post here haven’t said by the time I read the threads.

    I’m honored to be listed over on your sidebar, too. (I think that’s how I found you.)

    I’m still chewing on and will likely be chewing on the significance of that Balt/DC experience for the rest of my life, and to this discussion, I had something to add. It’s a bit satisfying, too, because it might just be a way of squeezing some more greater good out of it all.

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    Gary Bergel was the executive director of Intercessors for America (IFA) for many years. There’s a lot of overlap with Chalcedon-style Reconstructionism there, as well as close, close ties to shepherding and the Ft. Lauderdale crew.

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    @ Cindy: I think we cross-posted. Please check the comment immediately above your last.


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    Numo mentioned Mahesh Chavda….

    He was a big favorite of the Simpson New Covenant Churches in MD the ’80s, before I got there. (And some of those guys were connected to John Reisinger of the Baptist NCT movement, too)

    Chavda — I forget — he may have taught some kind of personality typing or something based on something more Biblical than Hippocrates’ four temperaments. I think that’s how his name usually came up. He was a fancy of theirs for a time.

    Just as an example of how inbred the Charismatics are —

    For many years, Chavda was the keynoted minister at the National End Time Handmaidens Convention in DC, and he was a favorite of Gwen Shaw.

    Charismatic shepherding holy rolling inbreeding.

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    and folks, please excuse me while I holler, but I FINALLY NAMED THE CHURCH THAT BOOTED ME!!!!!!!!!!!

    And the sky hasn’t fallen on me yet – how about that?! (Nor have the curses listed in Deuteronomy, come to think of it, even though I was told many years ago that they would…) 😉

    More seriously, God really IS a good and loving God who is full of grace and mercy and who cares for each one of us.

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    Just as an example of how inbred the Charismatics are –

    For many years, Chavda was the keynoted minister at the National End Time Handmaidens Convention in DC, and he was a favorite of Gwen Shaw.

    Charismatic shepherding holy rolling inbreeding.

    Erk. so *that’s* how I heard about the ETH. I know Reisinger’s name, too, and probably heard it at Gary Bergel’s church in Reston.

    Cindy, the inbreeding diagnosis is *so* accurate. (Reston, VA was also linked to a number of churches in Western Michigan, including one in Kalamazoo, and…)

    What goes around comes around, I guess.

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    I must have been writing a comment about Mahesh Chavda when you were posting…

    The Intercessors for America does ring many bells. Lydia Fellowship people were usually in on the ETH group, too. I can’t remember the name of the woman up in Baltimore who held big prayer meetings and was affiliated with both. Vineyard people flocked to them. I went to one Lydia Fellowship thing with someone from the Schmidts church and Aglow for deliverance prayer as if that was going to fix the PTSD I had from leaving the NCT (before I found the exit counselor). Some person actually writhed around on the floor like a snake, and I’d been thankful that I could never manage to make it to those prayer meetings up in Baltimore. It’s a wonder that any of us are sane, and I think it’s a MIRACLE that we are free and healing.

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    Oh, I forgot to mention that those churches in Michigan + the Reston, VA church were very much “about” former Congressman (R-MI) Mark Siljander.

    In fact, Gary Bergel was Siljander’s “personal pastor” and the Reston, VA church was started and more or less framed around them.

    Bergel is an artist but has been looking and sounding like a weirdly modern, REconstructionist/charismatic-type OT prophet (complete with salt and pepper beard) for several decades now.

    Siljander and others in the Reston, VA church were connected with “the Christian mafia,” aka “The Fellowship” aka “The Family.”

    Let’s just say that nothing in Jeff Sharlet’s book on The Family surprised me… he confirmed a number of suspicions I’d had for years.

    I am SOOOO glad to be away from all that! (And no offense meant to anyone here – in terms of personal political convictions – but there are some VERY unholy ties between politics and religion in D.C. and the surrounding area… I felt relieved when I read Frank Schaeffer’s memoir “Crazy for God,” partly because his current understanding of some of the people involved is pretty much the same as my own – I didn’t know anyone who’s famous, but I knew a lot of behind the scenes types, during and after my time at the Reston, VA church.)

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    Lydia/ETH: ding ding ding ding DING!!!

    I didn’t know the Baltimore people, but one of my friends at Christ Our Shepherd was the head of the MD state Lydia leadership for a few years.

    If you visit the Lydia website, you’ll notice that it’s VERY generic – they won’t commit much of anything to print (conference and local meeting handouts excepted).

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    Numo! You named your old church!!!! Yay!

    After a while, they quit looking for you. 🙂
    (But my phone is still unlisted!)

    My husband just asked why I was laughing. People think I’m nuts when I say that I have reservations about Reisinger, just because he is on the long list of weird inbreeding. LOL with joy. (It’s also validating!)

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    I went to a sum total of one D.C.-chapter Lydia meeting and attended 2-3 small group meetings in VA.

    And even though I felt drawn to it, I thought it was weird. That one chapter meeting spooked me.

    People I knew were traveling all over creation in the early-mid 90s, prayerwalking Civil War battlefields and supposedly breaking generational curses – the latter was one of M. Chavda’s big things, as it was Derek Prince’s.

    I think you’re right about PTSD! 😉

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    Validating: yes indeed!!!!

    They “sent me” of into a kind of (as they saw it) punishment. There are other details of my story in comments made on some posts from (I think) last month. I won’t go into that here; no need, really. 😀

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    Well, I have obviously led a very sheltered and subdued spiritual life compared to what some of you have experienced, having spent time in the United Methodist denomination and then a decade in the SBC.

    Cindy K,

    Just want you to know that I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and am honored that you read our posts. Before we ever began The Wartburg Watch, I took the time to watch all of your YouTube videos of the now infamous presentation you made on Patriarchy. As I recall, I knew about Doug Phillips, but didn’t know much about Bruce Ware. Your talk really opened my eyes to what was going on with regards to Patriarchy. Thank you for all the work you put into that presentation and your website. I’m sure many have been blessed by your efforts. I certainly have!

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    Well, I have obviously led a very sheltered and subdued spiritual life compared to what some of you have experienced, having spent time in the United Methodist denomination and then a decade in the SBC.

    Probably because you never hung out with “charismaniacs.” ; )

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    @ Cindy: My apologies – I didn’t mean to make a jokey comment about very real PTSD.

    But ikwym, although I didn’t go through that, exactly. (For which I am deeply grateful to God.)

    You’re SO right about it being a miracle that many of us are not only free, but healing up.

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    You comment was fine about PTSD.

    Margaret Singer (anti-cult pioneer) coined the phrase “post cult syndrome,” People, and I’m sure she would say that all people experience the syndrome to various degrees when they leave a group. My experience was more complicated because of my upbringing.

    My identity as a person was wrapped around my mother’s Charismatic experience and what I was taught that it meant. (I was miraculously healed as a newborn. I had an APGAR of 2 and seized for days on end. I was delivered in the middle of the night, and my grandfather went out that morning and bought my burial plot as it would soon be needed. An old UPC lady prayed for me and called my godmother to say that the Holy Spirit told her that I would live, just about the time the doctor told my mother that I’d started breathing on my own and had come off the ventilator, showing all signs that I was a normal, healthy newborn.) To my mother, that meant that I was supposed to be the next Kathryn Kuhlmann. In Charismania, you chase the awe and the Spirit to gain spiritual prowess and gifts as you grow in holiness, and it just becomes a new kind of gnosticism that turns faith into a work. It’s just like Gothard’s redefinition of grace as something merited and collected like playing a game.

    My mom got saved in a Calvary Temple in the early seventies, around 1970, right in the middle of the Charismatic Renewal. Calvary Temples are the churches of the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministries out of Christ for the Nations. CFTN was founded by Gordon Lindsey, the former treasurer for William Branham’s crusades, and Lindsey started the college in Dallas/Irving when Branham got out of the crusade business. William Branham’s church follows shepherding, and Sierra’s saga about growing up under his form of shepherding and misogyny can be read at NoLongerQuivering.com.

    I had to go all the way back to [some] of the early lessons my mother taught me, taught to her at this CFTN affiliate when she was a baby believer. One year after getting saved, the church’s assistant pastor came to an unauthorized prayer meeting (they had no church leadership there as a “spiritual covering”), and he confessed to a homosexual affair with the single male pastor. My mother was told that it was sin to speak of the matter, given the laundry list of shepherding twists on the favored Scriptures which squelch dissent. She believes those things to be true today. We went to the Assemblies of God, but I started attending the Christian School that Calvary Temple had for high school, two weeks before my graduation, the story finally broke, as did the confessions of young men who were molested by this same man.

    I felt like every spiritual experience I’d had and every Scripture I knew became tainted, and I felt like I really didn’t know anything. To give you a picture of what it felt like, for those who have seen the Matrix film, I felt like Neo waking up in that pod of goo to find out his whole life had been a lie.

    I had post cult syndrome added to a host of other traumas, and as the treasure of my heart was serving God and loving God as I understood Him, I went into full blown PTSD.

    I fell on the Rock and shattered into many pieces, but that Rock remained the Rock of my salvation, by His grace and care.

    I’m glad you said something, because I get to tell my testimony about it. People like me who grew up all wrapped around garbage that they believed was the Word of God can get free and healed, just like God healed me. In telling it, I get to squeeze glory for God out of what would otherwise be a miserable mess. And that is a Miracle.

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    The quote from the other blog struck me…
    “PDI came within a hair’s breadth of succumbing to the gross errors of the shepherding movement, but somehow avoided the most dramatic stuff, like the mechanics of tithing to one’s “upline” (true shepherding had members paying tithes to their overseers, who in turn paid tithes to THEIR overseers, and so on).”

    In reality, if you are a tithing member of a Sovereign Grace church, ten percent of your tithe goes “upline” directly to Sovereign Grace Ministries. In fact, one number that was thrown around was $96,000 from KingsWay alone. Then you add the fact that 1/3 of Gene Emersons salary comes directly from Sovereign Grace and you end up with a spiritual shell game of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    At KingsWay, it is now business as usual after Gene used Peacemakers to disarm the ticking time bomb surrounding his poor leadership in the whole Roanoke/ Steve W. thing. The issue at hand is what authority does SGM have over its member churches. The answer is that the authority that SGM has is voluntarily given to them by the member church…in other words, by the leadership of the member church, more directly by the Senior Pastor Emerson in the case of KWCC. You see, the other “elders” have limited authority to counter Gene’s wishes, since their position as pastor/elder and their economic livelihood is, to a great degree, in Gene’s hands. So now with Keith gone to Charlottesville, and Aaron on his way from part-time to no-time, all they are left with is Gene, Matthew and Doug.

    I say all of that to point out that the leadership structure of KingsWay (and of SGM) is unhealthy. It puts way too much authority into the hands of one or two people and takes any authority out of the hands of the actual church body. For a better understanding, just go to your local SGM church book store, pick up a copy of Grudem’s Systematic Theology and read the section on church government. You will discover that he promotes a form of church government that is flatly rejected by SGM.

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    Thank you for sharing your testimony. It is very powerful. Do you have a direct link to it on your blog? I think it would be helpful to share your story with our readers. If not, could we move your comments up to a post?

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    Free from KWCC

    I am glad that you are free from that apparent cult-like situation at KingsWay which disguises itself as a church. I will never be a member of a church that uses SGM tactics unless I am going undercover to report on the abuse. Warning to SGM, one day, we may do just that. You are being watched more and more closely.

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    Cindy has the “go to Blog” to understand the tactics used by many in Christendom. Be sure and check out the list on the right side of her blog.

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    ” National End Time Handmaidens ”

    There is actually such a group? Sounds very Mormonish.

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    @ Cindy: “the next Katherine Kuhlman.” [shivers]

    You’re making me wonder about some of my old friends’ kids – they were raised in somewhat similar circumstances and all have to be in their 30s now. I’m sure *many* of them have gone through h*ll, given their religious backgrounds and all the weirdness that involved.

    @ Lydia: check some of the comments further up for End Time Handmaidens. There’s a lot of stuff on the web, too. (I was around people who were involved, but only knew about the ETH in a peripheral way, so Cindy’s info. + Google turned out to be a real eye-opener for me.)

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    @Lydia ~ All I do on my blog is quote what the experts in exit counseling teach. I am hopeful to do what my exit counselor did for me by giving people information that will help them find ways to get free from this kind of oppression.

    @Dee ~ You are more than welcome to use that testimony comment about PTSD as a post, and I have a longer testimony with more detail in it, too. It is interesting because of the process I went through to finally find someone who understood anything about the way I felt and how bad it was for me. I literally would wake up on weekdays that I had off, and I would lay in bed until the late afternoon weeping until my pillow was wet. Sometimes my husband would come home from work, and I was still laying there, praying and thinking and aching with a sick emptiness that I thought no one understood.

    Here’s a tease — I called evangelical ministers all over Baltimore and a few in DC, asking for pastoral counsel, because I did not know how I would be able to articulate so much of this to a secular person. I was told to go back “and repent” because they knew or knew of my pastor, a good man.

    All of us know good men never do anything that causes others distress…

    The general intro to why I am outspoken about these matters is here:
    http://undermoregrace.blogspot.com/search/label/Personal Testimony

    The detailed personal testimony can be found here:

    If you want to put that stuff about inbreeding in a post that will get picked up on RSS Feed,etc, I’d rather write something a little less frenetic that you could quote or post.

    I am honored.

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    And Numo,

    I have spent my whole life crawling out of what now seems like a pit of spiritual weirdness, but It is a good testimony of how the Word does take root in our hearts. For whatever weirdness, I was taught the Word. One of the first verses I remember learning taught me to hide the Word in my heart so that I would not sin against the Lover of my soul.

    God watches over His Word to perform it and it accomplishes everything that He intends for it in His time, and it does not return void. That is the glue that holds me together. The wheat comes up and the tares come along with it. I didn’t think that I had much of a choice about not going to that threshing floor to be sifted. But these momentary and light afflictions are nothing compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us through and in Jesus.

    And I hear that it beats having the Rock fall on you. Broken is better than crushed, though I felt like my bruised reed shattered into a million little pieces. It takes time sifting through the rubble to decide what to keep and what should blow away in the wind.

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    Tullian does a great job of saying really amazing, truth filled things. However, he is leaving a growing string of wounded people in his wake (which has been happening for many years). I have been following the “spiritual abuse” thread here for awhile and have to say that I believe he falls soundly in this categoy. He is an incredible speaker/preacher, but there is a frightening disconnect somewhere. I am praying for him and for those still under his influence. It has not gone well for many who were once there.

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    You might be interested in today’s post. We are posting another church’s membership rules. They are downright scary. TT does seem to have a gift for speaking. But, you are right there is a disconnect. Not just with him but many others. Tomorrow will be an eyeopening account of TWWs unexpected encounter with a famous megachurch pastor. Once again there is a disconnect and we will begin to analyze what we think it is. Perhaps this is the same issue with TT. In fact, I believe he is a friend of TT. Hmmmmmm…. that is most thought provoking.I tend to think that it has something to do with the “new” old boy pastors’ club.