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Marks of Toxic Churches and Cults - (with comments by Slamo)

Leadership:

1) "Leadership is irreproachable. There is no accountability for their actions." This about describes CFM.  Instead of the leader being above reproach, he is irreproachable.  A big difference.  There is zero true accountability in CFM.

2) "Leadership is unapproachable. They form an elite spiritual class that demands blind obedience." - CFM pastors are definitely in an elite class of their own. If they couldn't sell the idea of an elite clergy, then they'd have a hard time trying to get men to go out to pioneer and live near the poverty level while giving it the old school try. All they have to offer is that status.  And, in the remote chance that you are in the 1% who are able to build a large enough, loyal enough following to build a large CFM church (150), you may even make a decent living off of it.  But that status is for the truly elite.

3) "Leadership has a lack of educational credentials."  ROTFLOL! Enough said.

4) "Leadership is extremely authoritarian and exercises extreme control over the lives of followers." - Give me an L. Give me an E...  Can anyone spell "legalism?" Give me an H. Give me an E... Can anyone spell "headship?"   Yes, CFM is legalistic, controlling and authoritarian.

5) "Leadership demands allegiance above and beyond family and friendship ties outside the group." - Once a person is truly indoctrinated into CFM, they come to understand that CFM is now their primary family.  All those other people are just related to you through fleshly genes.  Your spiritual family is what matters.  Too many families have been splintered by CFM. It is time for people to stand up and say, NO!" Healthy churches do not splinter families.  

6) "Members have no say on activities of group or where finances are used." -- Again, this is funny.  There are no CFM members that I know of who truly know where their finances are going.  They know what pastor tells them and of course they trust every word that God's representative utters. I don't know of anyone who has successfully asked to see the church checkbook and kept their good-standing in the church.  Who counts the offering?  Whose names are on the accounts? Pastor and his wife only? When was the last time a CFM church had a council that helped decide where the finances would go?..I'm talking about a REAL council here. Oh, I remember now. The church is not a democracy. We learned that in CFM 101.  (They don't realize it isn't run by a human dictator either). Hey, Ian Wilson thinks Wayman Mitchell is Moses and everyone has to follow him. Which three are going to get into the Promised Land (heaven)?

According to this article, CFM is definitely toxic.

Control of Group:

1) "Intimidation and spiritual threats are used to foster blind loyalty." - CFM to a T. "Satan will get you. You're out from under your covering. You are in sin and will pay a high price. You'll have a terrible accident. You'll get sick. You will backslide. You will lose your salvation. You will be cursed."  All of this will not happen to you as long as you do what pastor says. "Do everything I say and no one gets hurt." Sounds like an old movie.

2) "Shame, guilt and fear are used to control members." - Fear ties into the threats listed above. Guilt is a normal response to a godly conscience. Shame is what is experienced by people who have hyper-guilt feelings when there has been no sin.   Shame is the response to disobeying the pastor or not measuring up.   "Shame on you for not sacrificing during the offering when others do." "Shame on you for attending your son's soccer game instead of going on outreach. Your priorities are out of order." 

3) "Isolation from family, friends and world is encouraged." -- Let's make this clear.  Your church family is now your real family.  All your free time is to be spent with them. Others will just drag you down.

4) "Rigid lifestyle is enforced." -- Mitchell's standards come to mind. If I were a disciple in a CFM church, I certainly wouldn't want to show up for service without my tie and suit. Make sure all the men shave.  No tv for your little darling's Veggie Tales videos.  If they watch at church, that is ok because there are many true Christians around to make sure that no one sees anything they shouldn't. The internet? Forget it.  You couldn't possibly keep yourself from the porn sites. Only e-mail is acceptable.  It helps you keep in touch with other pastors around the world. (In some cases, it has helped pastors keep in contact with women other than their wives but we won't go there right now.) Now the schedule:   Sunday early morning - Set up for church. Sunday morning - Sunday school. Sunday late morning - church. Sunday afternoon - eat a quick lunch off the McDonald's $.29 burger menu because you gave that last 20 bucks in the offering for that special appeal to help pay for Wayman Mitchell's conference. Sunday about 5 p.m. - back to church for prayer and set-up. 7 p.m. - church.  Monday thru Friday - work your day job and hustle back to....you guessed it--CHURCH!  It's revival time!  Gotta be there at 6 for prayer & set-up and the fun starts at 7:30.  Saturday - Outreach in the morning and concert scene in the evening.  Followed by Sunday -- Oh No! Not again. I can't see where CFM would control your time.

5) "Decisions about personal life are made by the leadership." - Yes. Can I date this person?  Can I marry this person? Can I buy a new car? Should I buy a home? May I please have the third week on May off so I can attend my sister's wedding? Can I skip a day of conference to go to my daughter's high school graduation?

6) "Extreme service of members and extreme financial giving are required." - See comments on numbers 2 and 4. I have heard of some CFM pastors who have come up with the outrageous idea of counseling their members to take out loans to give the money to the church.  One pastor I know of has raised funds for the same project several times.   This is not righteous.

7) "Leadership is punitive to members who question authority." - Yes. Anyone who has been in CFM knows this is true.  There's no question about it. It is the highest form of sin to question headship. Obedience and submission is what you are called to.   Blindness helps.

8) "Disagreement with group is seen as rebellion or work of demons." - They are constantly under some attack of demons. Those who question are operating under the influence of a demon.  This is said in case anyone thinks the person complaining might have a point. Who wants to agree with a demon?

9) "Leaving group becomes very painful or fearful." - This is the saddest part of all. Because members make the church group their real family, all friends are a part of the group.  You have cut off old "worldly" friends and family at their counsel.  Now you realize that the group is aberrant and abusive and you no longer want to live under fear and domination but to leave means losing every relationship you cherish, sometimes even your spouse.  This is cult-like behavior. Shunning is not practiced by any healthy church.

Group's View of Itself:

1) "Group is found on religious fringe in society." - CFM is listed by almost every group that studies cults and aberrant churches.  The rest, I think, just haven't heard of them yet. Definitely fringe. Of course they think it is because they are the only ones doing it right and all others are either jealous or angry that CFM makes them look bad. Those jealous people then list CFM as cult-like and aberrant for revenge.

2) "Group sees itself as special, superior, elite from all other groups." - Duh! Cracked Pots has a great quote up there right now that epitomizes the attitude of CFM. "There's saved. And then there's Potter's House saved."  Or Tom Payne's quote from Prescott conference a couple of years ago: "We're not the only thing happening in the world. There I said it (Said mockingly followed by laughter).  But I know this, We are the best thing happening." 

3) "Persecution seen as proof of righteousness of group." - Persecution is so misunderstood by these groups.  When others respond to your bad behavior, it is not persecution, it is a natural reponse that you have earned.  For example.  A couple is walking in town hand in hand enjoying their evening. From who knows where, a group descends on them and a loud-mouth with a bullhorn screams in their faces that they are going to hell. The man who was calm and perfectly happy a minute ago now shouts back at the blowhard: "Go to hell yourself."  The shopkeepers in the area call the police and have the group moved and resisters are arrested.  What has happened here is NOT persecution.  It was stupidity with the predictable response.   Persecution is when you are told that you can't preach Jesus anymore without being arrested or something worse.  Being told you can't be obnoxious and disturb the peace is not persecution.

4) "Group blames responsibility of their sin on the activities of evil, as in "The devil made me do it". - Well, let's say that the sin of leaders can spiritualized away. 

5) "Love in group is conditional, based on the behavior of members." - Perform well = loved well. 

6) "Salvation is based on the works of members."  This one isn't as clear.   CFM preaches Jesus for salvation.  A case could be made that CFM's works-mentality makes salvation easy to lose of you don't jump through the right hoops.   In other words, Jesus saves and then you work to keep that salvation.

Group's Teachings:

1) "Teachings lack Biblical support." - Teachings are the parroting of leadership's ideas.  Not many CFM pastors know how to teach the Bible in it's context and without twisting.  Why would we be surprised? They don't exactly give them any training.  Discipleship training for wanna-be pastors consists of attending everything, helping with everything and obeying the pastor.   No lessons in studying are necessary.

2) "Biblical texts are taken out of context to form proof texts for strange doctrines." - All the time.  See number 1.  See Wayman Mitchell's book on healing. Listen to sermon tapes about sending curses.  Listen to any sermon on the topic of submission.

3) "Leadership interpretation of Biblical texts is the only accepted interpretation." - Of course. Just try and make a case that the New Testament teaches a plurality of leadership and see what happens.  Or, try saying that you're not sure that breast cancer is caused by hatred of husbands.

4) "Leadership publications of Biblical texts are seen as superior to other publications." - CFM doesn't really have many publications. The Healing Booklet is the most widely distributed one I can think of.

5) "Historical Christian doctrine is rejected or replaced by secret or special revelation." - For CFM, I wouldn't say replaced but added to.  WM's revelations have to be added in order for us to know what God really means. After all, God put WM as our Moses for a reason. He goes up on the mount and hears from God for us.  Look for the holy glow.

6) "Spiritual experience is held higher than Biblical revelation." - As long as it is Wayman Mitchell's experience, yes.

7) "Doctrinal statements are missing or vague." - Mostly they are just changeable. The esentials stay the same but the additions to them change.

8) "Leadership uses hard-to-interpret Scriptures to redefine clearly understood Scripture." - Anyone have a good example of this one?  My mind isn't thinking of one presently.

9) "Teachings demand blind loyalty." - Yes. Nothing else to say except, "Don't question the leaders."

10) "Teachings expect perfection." - The standard is high but unfortunately it is almost always majoring on the minors. 

I apologize for the sarcasm. I guess I'm in one of those moods.