“If the spiritual relationships you have in Jesus’ name don’t give you rest, but rather make you more tired as time goes on, then they aren’t representing Jesus’ purpose accurately. He came to lift from the backs of tired people the burden of trying hard to earn God’s approval.”
― The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church
Thank you for your kind notes regarding the death of my mother. It was a hard eight weeks as she went from being a vibrant and active woman to becoming confused as she was cared for in a hospice-like setting. I was holding her hand as she died, and for that, I am grateful. When I am able, I shall write about my experience in caring for four elderly members of my family who were dying.
Cooking the books by using weight as a measurement of one’s commitment to the Lord
In my discussions with the Hords, I embarrassingly laughed out loud when they told me the threats that were used against members who left the church. Kristy said, “They warn them they will become fat,” along with other threats such as being “cursed by God.” After reflexly laughing and remarking that most SBC pastors would be in peril, I apologized as I became aware that such a warning deeply concerned those invested in this movement.
Folks, think about it. Most people who enter(ed) this church do so through the Weigh Down Workshop and related Bible studies. Weight is their emphasis.
I thank a former pastor, Jim, for expressing the following thoughts in a class I attended. He remarked that many of us choose a sin we have conquered or don’t have problems with. That becomes the most important sin on the books. For example, I have never smoked. Within a church setting, I might declare that smoking is a heinous sin. I could go on and on discussing what a lung looks like when exposed to long-term smoke. I would then claim that smoking is indicative of a person who is “destroying the Temple of the Lord.”
If I ran a church, I could start classes on smoking cessation. I would tie it into the Bible and “prove” that God finds smoking a heinous problem. Of course, we might have some folks who join the church, hoping to kick the nicotine habit. I might smile at those who would fail time after time because, of course, I would never smoke.
On the other hand, I would be sure that no one knows that I have a problem with drinking (This is an example. I do not have such a problem.) I don’t care about my drinking because it is not as bad of a sin as smoking. And so, I have successfully “cooked the books.” Smoking is the worst sin, according to me, being God’s little Prophet and all.
Over time, I would add other sins to my cooked book on the hierarchy of sins in my new church. Interestingly, as a leader, I might claim that gossip about me is almost as bad as smoking. When I talk about a church member, I am doing so because I am in charge of the souls of my members, with an emphasis on MY members.
In the case of The Remnant, I agree with the Hords that weight is a problem in the US. It is my opinion that weight doesn’t come close to harming others like spiritual abuse, sex abuse, domestic violence, etc. My Lutheran church has been instrumental in helping me to see the depths of my sin and my need for confession and forgiveness of that sin, which leads me to the next point.
The Remnant was to be the only “pure” church, and the members would be able to be “perfectly obedient.”
I could write months of posts on this topic alone. Let’s start with the obvious. Everyone in the Remnant knows they are not “perfectly obedient” when honest with themselves. That is why there had to be a “pinnacle sin” to measure oneself against. For example:
Yeah, I may beat my wife but I am thin.
Once again, cooking the books was necessary to live in this system. It appeared that people would need to suspend any rational thinking and wait for the Prophet (which Shamblin was often called) to explain what that looked like to her.
Here is an example. At the end of many church services and festivals, alcohol was offered as part of the celebration. Some suggested they believe they observed that there was drinking to excess on the part of some. Shamblin/Lara must have justified that the people may have been drunk, but they were thin, so all was well.
Is it normal BMI or super thin?
I was feeling pretty good about my weight when talking with the Hords. I had been on a diet for five months and now had a normal BMI. But wait! Normal BMI is not good enough. One needed to be on the low end of BMI or underweight to be the correct weight. So, thinness was a moving target, allowing for Shamblin/Lara to be the authority in charge of the moving target.
All other Christian churches are false.
Under Shamblins’ leadership, the Remnant began to mimic the Mormons in this perspective. Joseph Smith told the Mormons that the Christian church wasn’t truly Christian since it had lots of mistakes. He “found” tablets that proved this concept. And so, the Book of Mormon and a couple of other books were written as a corrective to the mistaken Bible. Shamblin followed this technique by writing books and producing videos with her interpretation of the Bible.
I was told that Shamblin did not trust any seminary graduate unless they renounced their teachings or the 2,000 years of church history and councils. She did not want people with seminary training in the church unless. they renounced their teachings of “false grace.” She was the “prophet,” and only she could correct the multiple errors in the Scriptures.
For example, she produced ‘evidence’ that there is no such thing as the Trinity. Her reasoning was sadly simplistic. She said the word not being found in the Bible. Her reasoning was so weak that I know a group of 6th-grade Lutheran kids who could argue against her supposed ‘discovery.’
She appeared to be narcissistic in her approach to Scripture.
Think about it. Only she could interpret the Bible. Only she discovered errors and corrected them. Only she imposed mandates on the members based on her almost childlike approach to the Scriptures. She would not hear any suggestion or proof that she was mistaken and inaccurate. There were 2,000 years of theology and careful study, which she outright rejected in favor of an easily discreditable view of the Christian faith.
Shamblin didn’t debate. She was right, and those around her had to agree and obey her. She was in the center, and her world revolved around her.)
Grace is a dirty word in Remnant circles.
Shamblin was clear on this point. If grace is needed, then perfect obedience is impossible. Grace was sidelined. She correctly identified that grace had become a cheap word in Christian circles. She missed the big picture. If grace is meaningless, why did Jesus have to die on the Cross? The Hords intimated that Jesus and the Cross were deemphasized.
I need to look at another aspect of Remnant in the future. They had festivals during the year. Some of them were based on the Old Testament celebrations. I am guessing here, but the Law took precedence over the Cross and Resurrection. The Law is a set of rules men and women must follow to be right with God. The Pharisees wrote books on the subject of obedience. But… even they could not perfectly follow those laws. Hence, grace, in the form of Jesus on the Cross (and resurrected), was the solution to imperfect obedience.
Today, the Law exists to inform us of proper behavior. Grace exists to forgive us when we don’t (and no one does) perfectly obey the Law. It breaks my heart to think of a group of people who try to resurrect the Law as a means to salvation.
Any deviance from “perfect obedience” would lead to punishment from God.
When something terrible happened, family units were quizzed to see who “caused” the travesty to occur. The first example was Shaamblin’s daughter, Elizabeth, who had a child die of SIDS. Of course, this is a sad event. The CDC reports:
Each year, there are about 3,400 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in the United States. These deaths occur among infants less than 1 year old and have no immediately obvious cause.
But Shamblin, in what appears to be a narcissistic moment, declares that someone did not “perfectly obey,” and this caused her grandson to die of SIDS. Shablin’s uneducated and abusive theology blames some poor soul in the church. One can be pretty sure the blame never fell on Shamblin or her daughter.
What about the plane crash that killed Shamblin/Lara, her husband, Elizabeth’s husband, and other leaders?
If God punishes people when they are not “perfectly obedient,” what does this say about Shamblin/Lara? Is God sending a signal that Shamblin/Lara was to blame? Uh oh! Do they quickly decide that some guy named Fred gained 10 pounds?
Now we get to the moment, “What about the hair?”
It is somewhat painful to watch Shamblin/Lara evolve from a thin, good-looking woman with a decent hairstyle to her final ‘style.” (I watched the documentary. Her clothing style changed from conservative to what one person described as a bit ‘skanky.’ I thought about saying, “Well, bless her heart. Let’s move along.” Except, I decided it meant something more in the overall picture. The Hords had some insight. Shamblin/Lara used this as a way to control the flock. God used it as a sieve to filter out people who were unwilling to hear the truth. It was a subtle form of peer pressure. Apparently, “reporting gossip to Gwen” was a big deal amongst some of the faithful. The leaders were reportedly told to listen for criticism of her style and hair from the membership. Those people were to be reported to Gwen as disloyal or suspicious.
At the end of her life, Gwen looked like an old lady trying to look young and sophisticated in her dress, hair, and makeup. She didn’t. I would venture to guess that she might have drunk at the well of Botox as well. It would seem to me that Gwen lost sight of who she was. She started well. A friend of mine lost 100 pounds in her early workshops at a church. Sadly, this focus on her hair seemed to cause a distraction from power, control, silencing, manipulation, bullying, and abuse.
Shamblin/Lara’s life changed after those early days of helping folks lose weight. She appeared to turn into an odd-looking woman( in my opinion) who deviated from the historic, orthodox faith and built herself a modest-sized church, which seems to be a facility dedicated to worshiping something way different than the church of Jesus.