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As found in our article Exposing the Gospel of Fear, denying your right to ask questions, or marking you as rebellious for asking questions is a real threat to faith, and it happens. Questions challenge the position of people who claim authority.
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Dictators, Cult leaders, and Abusers all use fear to control their victims. Fear of retribution, fear of being alone, or losing self without their presence, fear of the ‘outside’, fear that they are right and all else is wrong. Fear that without them, you are nothing. Fear is the most powerful driving force known to man, right next to love. It is no surprise then, that it’s the best tool of the enemy of your soul.
Knowing it has this power, men, and women who use it are then evil and workers of iniquity either by purpose, or ignorance.
So recently, I’ve had several #dyedinthewool Pentecostals attack me, mostly on Social Media for the things I write about, expressing my 15-year experience in an abusive Pentecostal church. And as I told one lady the other day who tried to claim I was nothing but a root of bitterness that was defiling the body of Christ, I can’t criticize her for her stock, religious response. No doubt it’s what she’s been trained to say her whole life. I was too.
My old pastor said ‘I don’t have time for people who question what I say.’ In recent services focused to discredit my writings, the pastor literally said, ‘If anyone tells you something other than what I say, just rebuke them in Jesus name and don’t listen to them.’
No really, in about 20 hours my journey from Oregon -> San Francisco, from San Francisco -> Hawaii begins, embarking on a much needed 12 days get away with family, and no work. Ok who am I kidding, I’m sure work will follow. But I am off to paradise!
My thoughts, however, linger on my dear mother, who passed from this life January 20th, 2017. I believe she is in the real paradise, and some of her last words to me were, ‘Ralph, you said I could go home.’ And she did!
Something I heard said repeatedly by the leaders of the former church should have been the noose that hung them out to dry, yet the blind, who are thus led by the blind, eat up the words of a charismatic leader like chocolate covered coffee beans. They always said, “You must judge an experience (such as a dream, prophesy, etc) by the Word, you can’t judge the Word by an experience.”
In the words of Frodo, “And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning of my heart.” The same people uttering those words taught doctrines, requirements, commandments of men and self-proclaimed levels of authority over man never to be found in Scripture. Hypocrites? They claimed to be the only judge of the experience, at the sacrifice of the Word.
I knew a church where there was an annual party, a celebration, pat on the back to the pastor, that usually netted him $7,000-$10,000 in money or gifts from the congregants, disguised as a preaching conference. In fact, there were teams who went around asking for the money.
An anniversary service celebrating the longevity and success of the church. In it, preachers are deified, given kingly treatment, eat the best foods while what remains is served to the little people on the last day of the event, they sit in the upper rooms and are elevated on platforms, treated to special events, etc.
If you’ve ever been in a legalistic church, such as UPCI/Pentecostal churches, you’ve no doubt heard two things about wearing Jewelry and Makeup: Jezebel, and 1 Timothy 2:9 which says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”
That is to say, don’t make yourself ‘flashy’, wearing metal, gold, pearls, gaudy and rich decorations, etc. Ignore all those ostentatious hair dews, purses, and shoes though…those don’t apply. Right?
Many things led me to leave the Apostolic Pentecostal denomination, but the most prominent reason was the dictatorial and cult leader control some pastors take over God’s heritage – the flock. They believe God gave them [pastors] authority over the daily lives of the saints in the Church. But did He?
Is this Biblical? What Scriptural evidence exists to support Spiritual Fatherhood or Delegated Authority?
The further and further I remove myself from my religious origins the clearer the Word becomes to me. For one with a 3-year degree from Texas Bible College, I humbly realize how little I knew and know of the Word’s real meaning. I’m wise in the dogmas and ambles of the Pentecostal religion but found wanting in the Faith of Jesus Christ.
Yet one thing has become utterly clear; the religious leaders teaching the things I once believed are the wolves in sheep’s clothing Jesus warned about, and the Scribes and Pharisees He told us not to become. So where does that leave me?