From the late 1970's through the 1980's, my wife and I were members of an authoritarian Bible cult. Not only were we members, but we were full time, unpaid leaders. We were not supported financially in any way for our contribution, yet required to do full time service and pay our tithes for opportunities to minister within the system. We were trustingly blind to how the system was only interested in using us for the betterment of itself. That was our responsibility to see. We finally have.
My intent in writing this is not to bring an expose against a particular religious group, as many others have. The cult mentioned above has reaped its own reward, so there is no need to pursue it any further. More importantly, there is a matter of circular activity, of whirlpool proportions, that continues to plague those who have organized themselves into new forms of the same.
The old organization became oppressive with verbal and social abuse toward individuals with perceived errors. Many followers were so taken by the authority of ordained men and women who dished out this abuse that they would not stand up for their fellows when innocent. They were afraid that the same abuse would then be turned upon them, so they shunned the innocent and allowed them to languish.
There was a concerted effort toward the end, before the first big breakup, to make these leaders accountable for their oppressions. Months and months of accusations and apologies ended with the accusers being fired from their positions and nothing changing for the better. Those who stayed on with the old organization have reported just how greatly the oppression increased.
The impetus toward accountability has survived and is evident in some of the new organizations I have observed. It has become a plague so large that people are as much in bondage to one another as they ever were to oppressive leaders. Now there is talk of one new group going back to a top-heavy leadership structure of accountability in which leaders again have authority as before.
It is an amazing thing for me to behold. How is it that accountability starts in the hands of leaders, passes to the masses and returns to the hands of new leaders? I have watched this process for over 24 years now and have come to the conclusion that there is something terribly circular with the organized system itself. This circular process is not confined to religious organizations by any means, but covers all the relationships of mankind.
So that I am not completely misunderstood here, let me state that organization has a place and function as long as it remains within its parameters. There must be a place people can come to for a time of intense learning. We have colleges and vocational schools for this very purpose, but they do not out live their purpose for the individual who passes through them.
Unfortunately, some Christian places not only function in the intense learning category, but also endeavor to not allow their students to pass on to the next level, which is personal occupation and livelihood, as the secular places do. It is not a popular concept with these Christian places, because the sense of group identity is greater than the sense of individual occupation with the Lord he or she confesses. As a result, accountability to the group is also greater than accountability to the Lord they supposedly confess.
I have been criticized over the last ten years for leaving the group identity to pursue the Lord introduced to me through intense scriptural learning. I have gone to the next level of occupation, a real grownup job, if you will. Such criticism comes with the territory, so I expect more when people read this article. I also expect the criticism to get to me indirectly as such critics are not brave enough to write or speak to me personally. It has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the old organization's way of people assembling small groups in back rooms, talking about others and making judgments about them without ever talking to them first to give them an opportunity to speak for themselves. Judgment passes on individuals without justice being served and when the individual is finally confronted the group opinion is already set. It still goes on in new organizations. Nothing has really changed for the better.
Until these Christian places draw the line to establish a point of graduation, the group will be full of professional students, always learning but never coming to a personal, experiential knowledge of the truth. They will always think of themselves as children striving to grow up in the learning process, but will continue to be tossed back and forth between the teachings of their "parents."
There is another level of learning and teaching that comes apart from the group. It is a learning that allows the individual to grow up into the stature and maturity of the Lord confessed. It is an awakening from the hypnotism of nursery identity. It is an awakening into the identity of the Lord of maturity.
I write this in hopes of many others graduating and pursuing occupation and livelihood with their Lord. In doing so, one will find systems in place now, as in history, self-serving and completely opposite to what they represent themselves as, going beyond their parameters for the sake of self-preservation, sucking the resources and contributions of all into a whirlpool vortex.
For learning to be profitable, the institution must graduate students into the real world. If a Christian is still learning with the group after 20 years, there is doubt as to the viability of that institution in preparing the student for spiritual maturity.
As a return to leadership authority appears on the horizon, I encourage all of you to take time out to experientially learn Who the real authority is and give yourselves to Him totally and unreservedly, not with lip service and mere outward acts of group piety. Take time to listen to the voice inside you that proclaims "nonsense!" from time to time. It is telling you the truth.
If you don't believe me about the line of graduation, read the apostle Paul's limits on the gift ministries. If Paul was writing about graduation (come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ) as the gathering together at some unknown point in the future, then we should continue as a nursery of the immature until that time. But, if Paul was writing about graduation as something occurring in our time, we should take leave of the gift ministries at some point and become adults ourselves.
In considering the difference, you may have to reconsider what the oneness of the faith really is. What the experiential knowledge of the Son of God really is. What the mature man really is. What the measure of full content of Christ really is. I have.
Use your own research materials to find out what the scriptures really say. Why remain a child trusting what others say the scriptures mean? If you are really concerned about accountability, then take up your own responsibility to find out for yourself. If you don't know how to use the research materials available to everyone find someone who uses them and get familiar with them. Then, start using them in your personal study and prayer before the Lord. Then turn off all the other voices so you can hear His.
What would you reply to the Lord if He asks why you trusted and were held accountable to another man to tell you the truth instead of Him? Would you say, "we prophesied in your name Lord?" Would He say, "I never knew you?" Would you say, "we healed in your name Lord?" Would He say, "I never knew you?"
Is it really about what we know and what we do rather than Who we know and Who we do it with? If it's about what we know and what we do, then disregard this article. It is of no use to you. But, if its about knowing Him and doing with Him, prepare yourselves to go out from the group to meet Him and be taught by Him for a long time.
It is necessary to redefine what accountability really is and to Whom it belongs. Otherwise it's just nonsense and another vicious circle of whirlpool proportions using people to its own end at the bottom of the vortex.
You are welcome to read more articles at http://www.theboomerslife.com by Samual Sanders