Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Leavng a Cult

I am not posting on a specific scripture today, but, rather, a collection of thoughts I've had and statements made by people both in and out of the UPCI. I don't honestly think that someone that has never lived, breathed, and absolutely believed in a belief system created by, and propagated by a cult can ever truly understand the complexity of emotions and feelings that a person leaving such an organization feels. Having been born and raised in a cult, I was indoctrinated from the very earliest possible days, with teachings and beliefs that go against everything the Bible says. Yes the Bible is the reference that was used, but in a twisted, non-Christian way.

As children, we were taught that we were going to hell (which is true) and that we had to receive the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance (absolute perfect statement of what the UPCI teaches). The problem with this is that we were taught the judgement and fear of God before we were taught the mercy and grace of God. This, coupled with the constant repetition of the impending return of Christ, creates a spirit and feeling of abject terror in the mind of a young child. Instead of fearing the monster in the closet, a child fears Jesus Christ Himself as the harbinger of eternal damnation. I can remember waking up in absolute terror that the trumpet had rang because we lived beside a highway when I was young and, occasionally, a truck would blow the air horn at an animal in the road.

Even church wasn't a pleasurable or exciting experience to be looked forward to, because I knew that I would be reminded of what was waiting for me when God came back. The UPCI pastor would talk about repentance and damnation without ever mentioning the word mercy. I can count on one hand the times I heard messages by UPCI preachers that were about God's grace and mercy without the inevitable stick of God's wrath and judgement. God was inevitably portrayed as the line in the movie Dogma says: a guy that lives thousands of miles away and is just waiting for us to do something wrong so He can spank us.

When I finally experienced the "UPCI" salvation, I was 14 years old, and I can remember thinking only hours later "there has to be more". I had been given an expectation of exceeding joy and peace and absolute empowerment that didn't click at that point. I spent the next 3 1/2 years attempting to live the teachings, standards, and beliefs of the UPCI, but without success. I was always on this never ending treadmill of sinning-repenting-sinning-repenting-repeat ad nauseum. To top it off, doctrines would change, standards would be loosened in some areas, tightened in others, and the pastor's family did things that were obviously against scriptures in the Bible (gossip, tale bearing, railing accusations without evidence, all out hypocrisy). In a situation like that, how do you know what's right and wrong?

My wife was raised LDS and she once said to me (about that cult): "If new revelations to the prophet do away with other revelations and scriptures, then how do you ever have assurance of salvation because the standard can change at any time?" The same can be said about the UPCI in that the "standard" changes from church to church, minister to minister, and even year to year under the same pastor in a church. I can give names of UPCI licensed ministers that set standards of dress as heaven or hell (everything is heaven or hell in a UPCI church because the pastor is the law and if you disobey him you are rebellious etc) and then changed those standards when their children grew up, when their wives put pressure on them, and even when circumstance forced them to do something against their own standard. These men then ended up looking silly and the people in their churches were still expected to obey and take everything they said as gospel truth. I can talk about men that preach that we are to hold fast what they teach us as "their" saints using the references of 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Timothy 1:12-14, but who also hold teachings contrary to what they were taught by their own pastors. If we are supposed to believe everything we are taught by these men, but they can't keep their family in line with the Bible and don't teach what they were taught (the UPCI claims to be the original church but their doctrines change from generation to generation...), then how do they justify even getting in the pulpit?

So being raised in this with the fear of judgement and the belief that we have to hold all the standards of men has left a very bitter taste in my mouth...especially when the organization I was raised in can't even agree among themselves as to what the standards should be. Since leaving, my wife and I have tolerated the comments and judgements of wilfully misled reprobates that refuse to acknowledge the Bible as the ultimate authority, preferring to accept the word of man as larger than the word of God. It's funny that people who have never attended a UPCI church are far more tolerant and Christian (in the true sense of the word, not just self proclaimed) than the people that claimed to be our spiritual "family". These people my wife and I proclaimed as wrong and misled and deluded while we were in the UPCI have been incredibly kind and forgiving even when we were still saying they were going to hell. They have shown incredible grace and compassion to us in spite of the judgement we heaped on them.

I was recently accused in a text from my ex-pastor's son (pray for him, he's a very nice young man) of having a very "critical spirit". I had sent him a couple texts trying to be friendly and was rebuffed. It's funny that a member of a UPCI church would accuse me of being critical in light of what goes on in their "services" every week. It's true, I am very critical of the UPCI. I have been for quite some time, even while I was still attending one. I had planned on leaving back in January/February, but my wife wanted to stay for a couple conferences and I was hoping that the one conference we went to would renew my faith and show me where I was wrong. So we waited till May to leave, but I was already studying and preparing for the day we left. I learned the critical attitude (one that I now have to pray about almost constantly) from listening to my pastors and other UPCI ministers at conferences and in "revivals". They constantly belittle and deride every other non-Jesus-only organization on the planet as deluded and false. I agree that there are many organizations that are heretical, but there are many many more within the Christian body that aren't. So when that critical attitude was turned against them and their extra-Biblical standards, why were they so upset?

I use scriptural exegesis and logic to show what is wrong with what they teach. I don't just spout off, but I actually examine what scriptures they use in light of the context and other parallel passages. My grandma called me the other night (she's been a huge mainstay in all this for me, and she reads all my posts so HEY GRANDMA, I LOVE YOU :D) and left me a message that said "criticism is the price we pay for moving out of mediocrity". It's true. Whenever someone leaves a false church to find God for real, they have to endure (pretty easy once you get past it) the criticism of people still in that false belief. There are snide comments, arrogant remarks, and the attempt to put down where you are in life. It's funny because they often refer to a "backslider" as a prodigal son, but instead of eagerly looking for the return of that person like the dad in the story, they criticize and attack them.

I was once asked by a member of a UPCI church how I "jump into God's lap so easy". As far back as I can remember, I have been totally in love with God and He is everything I want in life. I have always found it easier than some people seemed to, to talk to God and spend time with Him. There is really nothing more satisfying to me than to talk to God and know He is near. So many times I have been in tough situations in life and just talked to God while going through my day and seen those situations completely resolved within days. It's awesome. I have been so grateful over the past many months that when I asked God to show me the truth, He took me on a roller coaster ride of discovery to bring me to where I am now.

My grandma's pastor said something to me on Sunday when we were passing by about not finding fault. He's right, and I am trying to find the line between finding fault with people, and pointing out and proclaiming hypocritical false doctrine. If I cross the line sometimes, please forgive me in a Christian spirit as my intent is always to point out the wrong doctrines and practices rather than judge the people. The fear that was built into me as a child by the UPCI cult is the reason I sometimes lash out. In reading my Bible and praying, I have found that God really is love and that He doesn't give us a spirit of fear. I believe God will judge the wicked and sinful one day, but in this life I believe we are all called to serve Him and He leaves grace and mercy to lead us all into truth.

Tomorrow or Friday I intend to post on why Acts 2:38 is not the New Testament plan of Salvation, but a statement to the people that crucified Jesus Christ. It will be a pretty strong indictment of the UPCI fundamental doctrine, but it really goes to the root of why they believe they are superior to other organizations. {{{EDIT: I was studying a part of the argument against Acts 2:38 and have been distracted by another topic dealing with the Jewish law and the different sects of Judaism specifically related to John 1:1. I will be addressing Acts 2:38 at some point in the near future, but I intend to continue with the Godhead first as understanding Salvation is foundationally linked to the Godhead before everything else. For those of you that are looking for immediate gratification concerning Acts 2:38, I direct you to the following link for some of the info:}}}

God Bless you

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