Reply To: Topix 2007-2009, Discussing: Financial Violations and Abuse at The Brooklyn Tabernacle

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#2461
Foundation
Moderator

Signs of Spiritual Abuse
10/9/2008
Comments #480, #482

“CAN SOMEONE SAY PASTOR CYMBALA AND PASTOR TOLEDO? Incredible; was this book written specifically about them?. Spiritual abusive symptoms of a church or group laboring under the heavy-hand of hyper-authoritarianism of their Pastor . That is to say, the leadership is dominating, controlling, and manipulating their followers, and exploiting them for their own personal gain and private kingdom-building. Wholesale abuse and misuse of authority is an integral part of the very foundation, fabric, and functions of such groups.
Exploitative abuse of authority occurring in groups where these hyper-authoritarian systems of governance are instituted come in various shapes and shades, ranging from members having to receive the approval (usually referred to as “witness”) of their spiritual leaders to date and/or marry, to virtual sole dependence upon the supposed superior spirituality of group-gurus..”In these groups, the “authority” of the “shepherds” is absolute, sacrosanct, and inviolable, that is, without reprisal. Any semblance of anything other than total and unquestioning obedience to the desires and counsel of the church’s leadership chain is considered rebellion and insubordination, and simply is not tolerated. Members live under the constant threat of being branded with the Scarlet Letter “R” for “rebel,” openly denounced and shamed from the (bully-)pulpit, and consequently shunned by the “covenant-community” for failure to comply with the unwritten, unspoken rules and expectations established by the leadership. An oppressive performance-based approval and promotion system keeps members in constant internal turmoil and fear as they jump through all the hoops the spiritual taskmasters put before them, in an attempt to seek their leaders’ approval and favor. Moreover, members are indoctrinated and compelled to accept the leadership-set agenda of the group, regarding which they have next to no real say, as their personal burden and responsibility, and thus to commit their time, talent, And most importantly, their tithe, to its successful completion. Sadly, most never see past the spiritual smoke and mirrors to realize that the so-called “church” to which they have sworn allegiance and promised their wholehearted and unflagging support, is nothing more than the personal “business” of its leaders, and not only are they free labor, but they actually pay out of their own resources for the privilege of being a participant, i.e., member….

Ignoring the wrongdoing of the leadership — exalting them to God-like status in and over the group;
Absolute authority of the leadership;
No real accountability of the leadership to the corporate body;
Hand-picked sub-leaders, based on their demonstration of submissiveness to the ultimate leader rather than on the basis of their leadership skills, spirituality, and anointing and appointment by God;
Pervasive abuse and misuse of authority in personal dealings with members;
Paranoia and insecurity by the leaders;
Abuse, misuse, and inordinate incidence of “church discipline;”
Personal materialism, covetousness, and self-aggrandizement by the leaders;
Members and/or sub-leaders must make a “spiritual covenant,” sometimes a signed covenant agreement, pledging their total commitment and financial support to the leadership and church/ministry;
Financial exploitation of the members;
Inordinate attention to maintaining the public “image” of the ministry;
Theological incompetency by the leadership, especially with respect to the rules of hermeneutics and Bible exegesis employed in the formulation of doctrine, giving license to twisting and adulteration of Scripture in order to provide proof-texts for unorthodox and invented doctrines;
Abuse and misuse of prophetic giftings as a means to dominate and intimidate;
Devaluation, disallowance, disregard, and displacement of the true Fivefold Ministry within the church;
De facto legalism, or works mentality, and its resulting loss of the “joy of salvation,” though “freedom” is forever preached from the pulpit and the church is constantly touted as being a “safe church” by the leadership;
Esotericism — hidden agendas and requirements revealed to members only as they successfully advance through various stages of “spiritual enlightenment,” i.e., unorthodox, unproven indigenous doctrines;
Isolationism — corporate and individual, especially with respect to exposure to outside ministry sources;
Performance-based approval and promotion system of members predicated on “proven” “loyalty” (i.e., submission) to the leadership;
Devaluation, suppression, and non-recognition of members’ bona fide God-given talents, abilities, gifts, callings, and anointing, as a means of subjugation;
Requiring members to perform menial tasks, such as cleaning toilets, setting up chairs, and acting as the leader’s personal valet or slave, as a supposed means to humble them and teach them to “obey their leaders;”
Constant indoctrination with a “group” or “family” mentality that impels members to exalt the corporate “life” and goals of the church-group over their personal goals, callings, and objectives;
Members are psychologically traumatized and indoctrinated with numerous improper fears and phobias aimed at keeping them reeling in diffidence and an over-dependence or co-dependence on their leaders and the corporate group;
Corporately, there eventually develops an inordinately high incidence of financial, marital, moral, psychological, mental, emotional, and medical problems. Lack of true personal spiritual growth and development, especially in terms of genuine faith and experiencing the abounding grace, forgiveness, goodness, blessings, kindness, and agape-love of God;
Members are required to obtain the approval or “witness” of their leader(s) for decisions regarding personal matters;
Frequent preaching from the pulpit regarding not getting out from under the “spiritual covering” of the leadership;
Members departing without the prior permission and blessing of the leadership leave the group under a cloud of manufactured suspicion, shame, and slander;
Horror stories frequently told by leaders about individuals or families who left the group without the prior permission and blessing of the leadership, and the terrible consequences and curses they suffered as a result;
DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR, BT/CT MEMBERS?”

Segments of the original Topix Discussion can be found on The Wayback Machine, HERE.