I am a pastor in Colorado and have had the grueling task of “re-discipling” many whose lives (and families) were turned upside down by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum (Tit 1:11). I just wanted to drop you a line and say “keep up the good work.” Men like Phillips must be exposed before they do more harm. My first “red flag” with his organization came the moment I saw (or heard) one of their core beliefs, “the family is the foundational institution of society.”
Nowhere in the Scripture is that ever stated. As a matter of fact, it is blatantly against what the Scripture teaches. Jesus teaches us that it is the church (not the family) which is the foundational institution of society (Mat 16:18; 1Ti 3:15). “It is the city on the hill” which causes the world to sit up and take notice.
Once again–keep being faithful–you are an encouragement to many I’m sure. Men like Phillips rule by intimidation much the same way other cult leaders do, and therefore it takes strong courageous people like yourself coming out against them–before others will be freed also. And let me assure you that what you are doing is biblical. We (as Christians) are to be “exposing the deeds of darkness” (Eph 5). Though there are some things Phillips does which are good–it is the “leaven” mixed in which spoils the whole batch and makes him incredibly dangerous.
Pastor, Sovereign Grace Bible Church
Note: see Pastor Jarrett’s related article: The Church: God’s Foundational Institution
July 11, 2007 at 5:48 pm
RefCal, thank you for that history about Junia/Junias. Don Veinot actually took his information from “Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman’s ‘Misquoting Jesus’” by Timothy Paul Jones.
I am not at all disappointed to hear that Junia may not be a woman after all, since it does seem odd that a woman would be an apostle. You would think we would have more of a reference to it than this, if it were indeed true.
Did you leave this comment on Don’s blog as well? I would encourage you to do so.
July 11, 2007 at 6:18 pm
“Don Venoit has been decieved about Junia/Junias”
Well! That convinces me. Greek grammar is the foundation of society! I can see why this comment was posted here. LOL!
August 24, 2007 at 5:42 pm
I have been following your website and related ones — on both sides — for a time.
I have had very similar experiences over the past 35 years.
I can relate to your trauma, your confusion, your experiences to the reactions of people — especially from some Christians, to the character assassination and rampant criticism that’s happened to you — especially from some Christians, and your “stuck-ness” due to Doug Phillips’ not practicing what he preaches and refusing contact so you can reconcile as he has commanded.
Here are some things the Lord has taught me, if it will help you or any one else reading this. I’m sure you already know some or all of these.
1. You don’t always get justice from man. The Lord gives justice.
2. Christians don’t always practice what they preach or what the Bible preaches.
3. Some people call themselves Christians, but they are really wolves in sheep’s clothing. Only the Lord can really know if they are truly His sheep needing sanctification, or if they are goats.
4. Patriarchy teaching generally produces tyrants. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
5. Forgiveness sets you free: from the past, from the consequences of the sins and offenses that will come upon those who sinned against you, and from the sins themselves.
6. Forgiveness also lets God come in and heal, make it all up to you, give you good for the bad, take away the pain, make you happy– even happy it happened, and punish/give consequences to those who sinned against you, in little or big ways. (And only GOD has the power to do all that!!!)
7. Just because you’re a Christian, it doesn’t mean you can just get up and go on. Severe trauma takes a long time to overcome, even with the Lord.
8. Even if you’re a Christian, brainwashing and cult teaching, even though “Bible-based,” and cult communities, even though “Bible-based,” are hard to overcome, even with the Lord.
9. Forgiveness comes from a decision, not from feelings. Decision — “I choose to forgive.” And then you keep telling yourself that as the memories come up. But that’s not the end of it — God heals and restores and makes it up to you.
10. Forgiveness and healing and working through all this unto peace and joy and wholeness takes a long time. It’s a process. It is layer by layer by layer of bone-grinding, tear-streaked, fear-filled, depressed and depressing work. But it is worth it. The Lord is faithful, and His kingdom is the kingdom of heaven, and He carries the weak in His bosom. There is life beyond. There is light. There is joy. It just takes a lot of work and a lot of time time to get those hints of glory, until you experience them more and more. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. It’s worth it! Keep going! The Lord is faithful!
11. If someone doesn’t want to be reconciled to you, that’s their choice, and you can’t force them. AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, live at peace with one another. I would try to find a church that will accept you, since you’ve tried to reconcile with Doug Phillips and even Little Bear Wheeler.
12. The abuse in my home life didn’t change will I was under the teachings of Gothard, Powlison, Sovereign Grace, Bob Mumford, etc. They changed with the Lord and by my searching and thinking on my Bible, my counselor’s help, and from the book she recommended — Cloud and Townsend’s book, “Boundaries.” Check it out! What a world of difference! I’ve had some real help come out of that book. Cloud and Townsend are Christians, and my pastor said they clearly have their heads screwed on right.
13. You are not the only one to whom this has happened.
14. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.
15. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. The Lord will keep helping you as you keep asking him to.
16. There are a lot of Christian sites online for post-cult recovery, including post-“Bible-based” cults. Go to a search engine and type in Christian cult recovery, Christian cult watch, Christian cult abuse, etc.
I wish to name the men and churches under which I had similar terrible experiences, in the hopes that it will help any one else put 2 + 2 together and come out with 4, and to realize the red flags going up from their hearts aren’t “their flesh” or “the devil,” but God giving them warnings and checks from the Spirit.
The first was Bill Gothard’s seminar, the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts. Bad news. And 35 years later, I’m still suffering from the effects of his teaching, and the terrible trauma and his abuse that his teaching produced in my marriage and family. My Christian counselor is SHOCKED by the teachings in that big red binder. Why was I fooled? That’s a good question, especially I knew my Bible somewhat. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24 NKJV
From the NET Bible. (Free online. Free to share.)
“But woe to you, experts in the law 1 and you Pharisees, hypocrites! 2 You keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven! 3 For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in.
“Woe to you, experts in the law 1 and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, 2 and when you get one, 3 you make him twice as much a child of hell 4 as yourselves!
Next was a church led by Gordon Powlison. I came out of his church many years ago, I am still severely traumatized, and still have nightmares. I am not the only member of my family who has had that experience after exiting his church. Again, patriarchal teaching that has a lot of Scripture, but is so sick and twisted and so full of oppression and brainwashing that my counselor is SHOCKED! Why was I fooled? That’s a good question, especially since I knew my Bible pretty well. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24 NKJV And having had Bill Gothard’s teachings as a foundation didn’t help at all, since Powlison’s teachings take Gothard’s and run with them.
Next will surprise a lot of people, because the group has a very good internet and book review reputation. It was in a church from PDI, AKA People of Destiny International, AKA Sovereign Grace Ministries. Again, somewhat of patriarchal teaching, although not as bad as other two. But bad enough, according to my counselor.
It has taken me a year for my counselor and I to barely begin to put me back together from the effects of what happened to my family and me at that Sovereign Grace church — from the dynamics and relationships there, which included mind control, brainwashing, manipulation, guilt, put-downs, twisted death-filled teachings and interpretations of Scripture, the double standard between the pastors’ teaching and practice, from the love of rules made by men. They also turned on me as if it was my fault and from something wrong with me. (Not that I was sinless!) Even when each pastor involved heard the mistakes and failure of the previous ones, the failures and treatment of me got worse and worse.
The manipulative, guilt-ridden, hypocritical, double-dealing dynamics and death-filled Scripture teaching (also mixed with a bit of the gospel), comes from the top of the Sovereign Grace organization down. It wasn’t just from my local congregation, but also from my experiences with several families and their personal lives and their teachings from the apostolic team on down. Much of what happened in my local congregation filtered down from the top — from the apostolic team, the leaders of Sovereign Grace, and from how top people discipled other people who became pastors. I wish to say that although I found drastic error in the teachings of C. J. Mahaney and his wife, Carolyn Mahaney, I was not treated badly by them personally, other than to experience bad things from the filtering effects of his teachings and attitudes. And I’m finding more and more grievous error since I’ve left that church and that organization, and with the Lord and my counselor helping me to see again and to hear the voice of the Lord again.
Again, my counselor was SHOCKED at actual words from sermons and outlines, dynamics and conversations I described to her, and things said to me by leaders, including pastors and an apostolic team member and his wife. And it was often the TONES that things were said in that were the worst — guilt-trips, manipulation, downers, put-downs. I was definitely a black sheep, according to them. Why was I fooled? That’s a good question. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24 NKJV
When you mix a good batch of brownie dough with a little tiny bit of dog poop, do you have wholesome brownies, or toxic trash? When you mix a lot error, manipulative dynamics, and authoritarian policies and mindsets with a bit of the gospel, you get darkness and misery.
White paint with a drop or two of black added is not white anymore.
If you want to become a mindless and rigid drone, learning more and more how to pervert the light and life of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; if you want to hear and learn the twisting the Scriptures and living by lots of rules made by men; if you want to be constantly abused from dynamics and teachings; if you want to look a lot older than you did only a few years before; if you want to become more and more closed off from yourself and the voice of God; if you want to have eyes that show less spark and less of your soul than they did just a few years ago; if you want to hurt , trample, ignore, and offend the broken, sick, and downtrodden — then you would probably like the teachings and churches I’ve mentioned above.
Why am I putting in these details? Why am I naming names? Because I tried and tried to go through the same steps Jen did in contacting these people over and over, and sharing what my grievances and doctrinal concerns were, and I repeatedly got shoved around in the spirit for my efforts. Period. And it was getting treated worse and worse. I took it to the individuals, I took it to one or two more, and then to some in the church. I kept trying until my counselor said I was therapeutically too weak and frail to try any more. She also said, “Why bother? They’ve shown they have no heart to learn, and they’ve shown what they’ll do to you.”
When Christian or “Christian” people teach publicly, they are subject to public biblical critique, for the sake of the people of God. And the prophets did not mince words when the people of God were being injured, especially in the name of God, and most especially by shepherds of God’s flock.
Ezekiel 34 — the whole chapter is — is very good for showing the Lord’s feelings about unfaithful shepherds, and how He is faithful to gather the butted and plundered sheep, and find them a good and faithful shepherd like Himself.
From the NET Bible ( free online, free to share)
A Prophecy Against False Shepherds
34:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 34:2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds 1 of Israel; prophesy, and say to them – to the shepherds: ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not shepherds feed the flock? 34:3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the choice animals, but you do not feed the sheep! 34:4 You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost, but with force and harshness 2 you have ruled over them. 34:5 They were scattered because they had no shepherd, and they became food for every wild beast. 3 34:6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over the entire face of the earth with no one looking or searching for them.
34:7 “‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 34:8 As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, my sheep have become prey and have become food for all the wild beasts. There was no shepherd, and my shepherds did not search for my flock, but fed themselves and did not feed my sheep, 34:9 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 34:10 This is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand my sheep from their hand. I will no longer let them be shepherds; 4 the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore. I will rescue my sheep from their mouth, so that they will no longer be food for them.
34:11 “‘For this is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out. 34:12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy, dark day. 5 34:13 I will bring them out from among the peoples and gather them from foreign countries; I will bring them to their own land. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams and all the inhabited places of the land. 34:14 In a good pasture I will feed them; the mountain heights of Israel will be their pasture. There they will lie down in a lush 6 pasture, and they will feed on rich grass on the mountains of Israel. 34:15 I myself will feed my sheep and I myself will make them lie down, declares the sovereign Lord. 34:16 I will seek the lost and bring back the strays; I will bandage the injured and strengthen the sick, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them – with judgment!
34:17 “‘As for you, my sheep, this is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I am about to judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. 34:18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must trample the rest of your pastures with your feet? When you drink clean water, must you muddy the rest of the water by trampling it with your feet? 34:19 As for my sheep, they must eat what you trampled with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet!
34:20 “‘Therefore, this is what the sovereign Lord says to them: Look, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 34:21 Because you push with your side and your shoulder, and thrust your horns at all the weak sheep until you scatter them abroad, 7 34:22 I will save my sheep; they will no longer be prey. I will judge between one sheep and another.
34:23 I will set one shepherd over them, and he will feed them – namely, my servant David. 8 He will feed them and will be their shepherd. 34:24 I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be prince 9 among them; I, the Lord, have spoken!
34:25 “‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and will rid the land of wild beasts, so that they can live securely 10 in the wilderness and even sleep in the woods. 11 34:26 I will turn them and the regions around my hill into a blessing. I will make showers come down in their season; they will be showers that bring blessing. 12 34:27 The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the earth will yield its crops. They will live securely on their land; they will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 34:28 They will no longer be prey for the nations and the wild beasts will not devour them. They will live securely and no one will make them afraid. 34:29 I will prepare for them a healthy 13 planting. They will no longer be victims 14 of famine in the land and will no longer bear the insults of the nations. 34:30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, 15 and that they are my people, the house of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord. 16 34:31 And you, my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are my people, 17 and I am your God, declares the sovereign Lord.’”
20 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken. 25 “‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety. 26 I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 27 The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. 28 They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. 29 I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. 31 You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.'”
I have been praying for you and your family, and for ladies and families in similar situations, whether they realize it or not. I have also been praying for Doug Phillips, etc. I have also been continuing to pray for those who did similar things to me, and for others under their teachings and domination.
I hope this helps.
You are free to post and re-post this on any section of your site. Other sites are welcome to refer others to this posting, with the link.
January 16, 2013 at 2:09 am
Hello Lily, I don’t know if you will read this because I know it’s an old topic. But I heard today that Gordon Pawlison died Jan 13, 2013. I was looking for an obituary but didn’t find much on the internet and I ran across this site. I grew up in his church and while I was too young to know what was going on, I know Gordon Pawlison hurt a lot of people. I don’t think my dad has ever recovered. Anyways, I thought you might like to know he was dead. I sortof wish he was still alive because I want to punch him. In the face.
August 28, 2014 at 2:14 am
Alice, I am also very glad to hear of his passing, and I know this is an old topic, but Faith Fellowship impacted my family in an extremely negative way. Just wanted to offer some support.
August 25, 2016 at 12:10 am
Same here. I wonder if we were there at the same time? San Jose in the 80’s and early 90’s?
August 26, 2016 at 11:34 am
Amber and Alice, I’m so sorry for the great harm your families suffered.
I have never read anything by anybody else saying their families were harmed by him. That helped.
May God make everyone so affected free and healed.
May 15, 2022 at 1:05 am
I was born in 1985. I grew up in the church that seemed to be formed by all the members who left. North Valley Christian Fellowship. But my father and his siblings were deeply impacted.
June 28, 2017 at 6:13 pm
August 24, 2007 at 9:01 pm
About my comment above this one,
I was not even thinking of people already in those churches. I was not trying to put them down. But I guess I did. I was trying to warn outsiders. Well, I was trying to warn insiders, too, but I didn’t realize ’til after my comments were posted that I put a big put-down on them. I tried to have that part eliminated before it was posted, but it was already up on the board. I am sorry for any and all offense or hurt my comment caused.
Also, I heard Doug Phillips speak in person several years ago at a homeschool convention, and I was alarmed at his teaching, which elevated his opinions of how Scripture should be walked out by everyone up to the level of the Scriptures themselves; I noticed those opinions were rules made by men; and I was very disturbed by his arrogant demeanor.
It’s too bad, since the teaching of men rising up to love God and love and take care of their wives and children, and to love mankind; and of women loving God and loving their husbands and wives,and to love mankind, is fine. It’s the rest that he has added in that’s too bad.
August 24, 2007 at 9:12 pm
The comment above, to which I was referring as a put down, didn’t post. So, the “put-down” I was trying to “take back,” and explain my motivation for, is below.
“If you want to become a mindless and rigid drone, learning more and more how to pervert the light and life of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; if you want to hear and learn the twisting the Scriptures and living by lots of rules made by men; if you want to be constantly abused from dynamics and teachings; if you want to look a lot older than you did only a few years before; if you want to become more and more closed off from yourself and the voice of God; if you want to have eyes that show less spark and less of your soul than they did just a few years ago; if you want to hurt , trample, ignore, and offend the broken, sick, and downtrodden — then you would probably like the teachings and churches I’ve mentioned above.”
I experienced this. I saw this happen in the lives and faces of people in those churches, and I saw it more clearly after I left. I was SHOCKED at the changes in the faces of those I hadn’t seen for only a couple or so years.
August 24, 2007 at 9:51 pm
Lily Hill, thank you for sharing with us. I’m very sorry you’ve gone through so much hurt and false teaching as well, but I really liked your list of the things you have learned. Those are pretty much the same things I have learned as well. I couldn’t have learned them just by reading your list, however. I’m sure God felt that I needed to experience this to learn all those things as well. I pray that you will find the truth in God’s Word and His Word alone.
August 25, 2007 at 9:13 am
Is there a connection between this Sovereign Grace mentioned here and Doug Phillips “mentor”???? Ick.
From “From the President” at the Vision Forum Ministries website:
“As a young man, Doug was also discipled by Robert Gifford, a great preacher of the Word and pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, who communicated to Doug a passion for Christian apologetics and the sovereignty of God.”
August 25, 2007 at 9:45 am
No connection that I know of, except that there are many similarities in dynamics and teachings.
Sovereign Grace has had some connections with Vineyard.
Heavy-handed discipling, many cult or cult-like techniques, “thought police” giving bad vibes and emotional withdrawal if you indicate any disagreement with standard policy and thought, some of the patriarchy, but not as bad as at Phillips’ church.
I don’t know if it’s as bad at other Sovereign Grace churches as it was in mine, but I can tell you I heard terrible things being preached from the apostolic team and others in the high ups in that organization whenever they came around to preach, and I noticed similar things when some visiting pastors came to preach from other Sovereign Grace churches. The top trains the next-down level, which trains the next-down level, on down to the small group leaders and fathers and mothers in each congregation. So, I can’t expect that a lot of those things WOULDN”T be present throughout the organization, which is spreading worldwide.
In other words, what’s at the top is actively filtered down to all levels.
One of the reasons I’m submitting this is there is precious little negative online biblical feedback about Sovereign Grace cluster of churches, and I think there needs to be.
Yes, the gospel is preached. Some. Sometimes. HOWEVER, there is so much other that is emphasized and lived and promoted that it’s all the other stuff that receives the greater emphasis and the greater weight. The greatest things preached there is rules made by men, mind control (I mean that literally, and my counselor was the one to bring up the term “brainwashing” to describe what was done) guilt, emotional manipulation, and error — in other words, what is REALLY preached and lived is ANOTHER GOSPEL, which is no gospel at all. The overall word I would use to describe my experience there and what was preached is DARKNESS.
I began to see that people were made into clones from the top down.
August 25, 2007 at 12:07 pm
Thank you for your insights. Your comments sound strangely reminscent of my experiences with the New Covenant Churches in the Baltimore area, strongly influenced by Gothard and Shepherding. (My exit counselor knew of the history of my group– Chas Simpson was intrumental in its founding and was attended by Mumfordites. They had close ties to the Vineyard church and we caught fallouts from the Vineyard.
Sadly, whether talking about Sovereign Grace, Gothardism, Shepherding, Mumford, the Moonies, the JWs, Korean POWs, etc…. its all the same old story. It’s all about control and shame based manipulation. And if you dont trust people and give them liberty, you end up with tyranny and totalism on some level. So sad that this is done in the Name of the Author of Liberty.
August 25, 2007 at 1:38 pm
Further information about Sovereign Grace Ministries and some concerns and some testimonies of bad experiences and doctrinal concerns is found at:
August 25, 2007 at 1:46 pm
Cindy Kunsman —
I’m sorry you had anything similar to my experience. I guess more and more information and resources are getting on the web to help the Recovering Wounded like us, and to hopefully prevent anyone else from being mauled by false shepherds and teachings.
August 25, 2007 at 2:35 pm
By the way, it wasn’t just me who had that negative reaction to that Sovereign Grace church. A young Christian man, a friend of our family, said several years after he stopped attending that same church, “Your church left a bitter taste in my mouth.” Then after a pause, he said, “Actually, it wasn’t your church, it was your pastors that left a bitter taste in my mouth.”
After I learned more specifics about what the error in doctrine and dynamics was, I related these to him also, to try to help him overcome the effects of the toxins he had been exposed to there, especially since he had also been in counseling with some of those pastors (where what was bad in doctrine and dynamics was intensified).
He got a confused look on his face, YEARS after he had stopped going to that church, and said in a quiet and confused tone, “Oh. I thought it was only me being rebellious.”
That’s how things there are twisted so that bad doctrine and dynamics come off to you as just something wrong with you, not them.
The young man told me each time I told him something knew I’d learned or figured out or heard from my Christian counselor about that church, “Thank you so much. This helps me a lot.” He still looked so confused and helpless, that it was painful to watch.
Another woman who went to that same church told me in hurt and frustration, “Are those pastors TRAINED to be totally insensitive, crass, and to just give out trite phrases that are supposed to fix everything?!”
It wasn’t just me.
August 25, 2007 at 2:40 pm
Oops. “new” not “knew” in “something new I’d learned…
August 25, 2007 at 6:45 pm
The reason I posted my comments about Gothard, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and Gordon Powlison on a Doug Phillips page that Jen’s Gems is one of the best-read sites, and these people/groups use a lot of the same tactics and share a lot of the same kinds of teachings.
I have been searching for a long time for a way to go public about my experiences with them, in order that others might be spared or set free from the suffering that they cause.
So, that’s why I posted on this site on this page.
August 26, 2007 at 10:11 am
Cindy Kunsman — To be very specific, there is no connection that I am aware of between Sovereign Grace Ministries, led by C. J. Mahaney and their apostolic team, and that Sovereign Grace Baptist church you mentioned.
August 26, 2007 at 10:38 pm
Hi Lily Hill,
Thanks for looking into it. I’m half relieved and half disappointed. One starts to get a bit sensitive (or paranoid to the other extreme) about all of these things. You realize that you’ve been duped, and how do you then go about realizing just how much? You lose trust in your own abilities to accurately perceive things.
Some of the Florida Five affliated did not embrace all of the charismatic stuff (like tongues and “apostolic” ministry), and it was just too weird to recall that same church name.
Thanks for taking the time to look into it.
August 27, 2007 at 5:40 am
Thankyou for posting. I am sorry about what you went through. I can relate in many areas.
The link you gave was excellant on fcov blogspot. I have forwarded to a few people. I am not a cessionist but ‘kissed the charismatic movement goodbye ‘ about 7 years ago after two decades because of abuses. Books like “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” found there way into my hands in the late 1990’s. I can relate to most of the entries on fcov. Sounds like CJ’s coming to the party a little late , but he’ll show up.
There is a whole psycho-social dynamic in charismatic/pentecostal churches which can be difficult to explain to others unless they are familar with it. Leading by the Holy Spirit which is incredibly subjective can also be incredibly wrong if it is not supported by correct interpretation of the written word is the biggest problem. ( although Jesus spitting in clay to open my eyes is welcome any time.)
When that is coupled by “thus sayeth the Lord” coming from the mouth of big cheeses with big testimonies can make things worse. When people move around they take their doctrines with them. Like attracts like,so to speak .. until something happens that makes people start to question what they have been taught.
Very few pastors know how to effectively help people who are victims of DV. I know I used to be a cop. ( gasp … a woman I know) sigh..
Swallowing a jesus pill doesn’t make people all right and that includes pastors. There is alot of dysfunction in churches and lives of people as a result of our own sin and being sinned against. Church is supposed to be a safe place. People who get moved up in leadership to quickly is also a problem.
I attended SG a number of years ago for a short time. At that time women were not allowed to lead bible studies; women cannot attend their bible college; I didn’t see alot of networking with other churches around them leading to a type of exclusionism; they are not that charismatic (and this may be because of how women are treated and the Holy Spirit will not move until that gets straight IMO).
I spent many years in word of faith , while I don’t deny 5 fold gifting I no longer buy into people holding ‘offices’ in that arena. I just do not trust them exclusively,they have to much power and control. True servants give power away.
Basically I saw where all this was headed- ” been there done that” so I left.
I know all this is awkward to talk about and it hurts but it is serious business . Those who teach will bear a stricter judgement as they should. Also there is alot of drama when pastors change their positions they need to retract books, tapes etc. Money is lost. Fear of man etc. Lord help us all.
Am glad you are in a safe place now. Peace to you.
November 26, 2007 at 6:53 pm
This link posted by Lilly Hill has had all comments wiped clean. They were all there up until sometime around the middle of November (2007).
November 27, 2007 at 12:36 pm
Ellie, I noticed that too. But I happened to have copied and pasted the lengthiest comment from that site into an email. When I realized that site was down, I checked through my “archived items,” and whaddya know, I still had a copy of that email.
So I started my own site, where I posted the copied comment. My interest in SGM and my own experiences at that church are simply NOT as bad as those of Lily. But I agree with her in that there’s precious little out there other than glowing reviews of Mahaney’s books and SGM music…when I distinctly sense that SGM has some “irregularities” (for lack of a better word) that should be discussed and explored. So Lily, if you’re still reading this (and others), feel free to give the new site a look:
July 14, 2016 at 11:46 am
Alice and Amber —
I am so sorry. I have never seen anyone else post negatively about Gordon Powlison, et al. I am so sorry.
Please, folks, we need to pray — and KEEP praying — for survivors and those still trapped by Gordon Powlison (and those still teaching his beliefs) and SGM and Bill Gothard and similar people and places.
Kris — SGMUncensored and SGM Survivors has helped a lot of people start to recover.
When basic trust has been destroyed at such a deep level, when your heart has been destroyed by such dynamics was were/are in SGM, — especially by someone in authority, then EVERY belief and doctrine is inspected and rethought, even ones found in the Bible. It’s just a part of healing.
July 2, 1007 — last snaphot capture of the
page that was removed — has a lot of the history of TAG/CLC/PDI/ SGM —
Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet
Friday, November 18, 2005
I Accept the Challenge-Charismatics
Lately, after reading several blogs from “Charismatics,” I am majorly confused as to who they really are, and what they really believe. It seems to me that each group and even each individual has their own definition–whatever they want it to be.
How did the Charismatic movement begin?
For a short history of the Charismatic Renewal (how the movement began) in the 1960’s-1970’s, read my post, The Charismatic Renewal.
After the Mainline Protestant and Catholic Renewal, the Charismatic movement was mainly taken over (or hijacked–whatever your point of view is) by the Vineyard. Then in the 1990’s it was taken over by the Third Wave revivalists (see my post, The Third Wave Revivals. Think Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship minus the Vineyard title; Brownsville Assembly of God; Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican church in London–Alpha Course land; and so forth. Think Kansas City prophets, Dr. C. Peter Wagner and his crew–Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Pierce, the Longs and so on.
Now it seems other groups want to be “Charismatic.” CJ Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace folks; Terry Virgo’s Frontier people in the UK to name a few.
So, who exactly are the Charismatics?
By the way, I just HAVE to say this:
The WOF’ers (Hagin, Copeland et al) are NOT Charismatics. They are Pentecostals. At least they have maintained that all along unless they’ve changed and I haven’t heard about it.
Benny Hinn is….um….well……I don’t know. He is somewhere between the two IMO. But I think he is more on the Pentecostal side….kind-a sort-a. Perhaps a hybrid, but there anyhow.
Jack Hayford is a Pentecostal as is Matthew Barnett (the Dream Center)–They are NOT Charismatics. Foursquare and Assembly of God and Church of God in Christ and the Word of Faither’s (WOF’ers) are all Pentecostals.
Dr. Wagner made it very clear in his Sunday School class 10 years ago (of which I was a part of) that the Third Wave (which is the term he constructed) is NOT Pentecostal and that Pentecostals might have trouble with the Third Wave Charismatic theology. Boy! Was he ever right on about that. I did and I do.
Now, these Mahaney and Virgo groups are calling themselves Reformed Charismatics. Or if you will, Charismatic Calvinists. That should make the Third Wave folks choke a bit.
But I am getting more and more concerned about the “Charismatic” part of their theology. I don’t see the expectation I want to see from them about the gifts. It seems to be, “well IF God wants to.” I don’t see much difference at times between that and what most people are calling cessationists today. I mean after all, there are very few “pure” cessationists around. Who believes that God will NEVER heal; NEVER impart faith or knowledge or wisdom (a la I Cor. 12:8-10)?
I would also like to take the Charismatics to task on their weak postion on Healing in the Atonement. You can read my post two posts ago on this. Frankly many of them, in reading their blogs, don’t seem to be very different in their viewpoint from the so-called “cessationists” on the gifts except for prophecy. Tongues isn’t strong at all with most Charismatics.
So, here is my question again. What exactly is a Charismatic?
If I have erred tell me.
P.S. If you haven’t guessed, I tend to be on the Pentecostal side (although a more Reformational one).
posted by Diane @ 9:37 PM
At 9:35 PM, Don said…
I was in C.J. Mahaney’s home church (Covenant Life Church, nee Gathering of Believers 1978) from 1981-2000, and in its predecessor teaching-meeting, so maybe I can add something to this discussion.
CLC grew out of a full-blown charismatic teaching ministry called TAG (Take and Give) in the D.C. area, which ran from the mid-to-late 1970s. C.J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak became the young teachers, as TAG outgrew Lydia Little’s living room and moved from one school auditorium to another before maxing-out at over 2,000 participants & finding its Tuesday-night home at Christ Church on Mass. Ave. in Washington, DC.
Mahaney was a former high-school class clown, pothead and college dropout who was radically saved after being busted for possession of illegal substances. Tomczak, from an industrial immigrant family in Cleveland, had come to Washington DC with plans to become an AFL-CIO labor organizer. However, his life was changed after stumbling into a black church and being confronted about his spiritual condition by an elderly man.
At TAG there was enthusiastic worship, a wide mix of people ranging from high-school hangers-on to all denominations of the churched, including Catholics (I saw some dancing nuns back in those days of joyful worship). The Holy Spirit was present and did baptisms, healings and deliverances. There was excitement and tons of youthful energy. The centerpiece was the teaching, however, which was full of humor but focused on turning scriptural truth into real-life, everyday practice.
CLC was started because Mahaney and Tomczak were being given truths by the Lord that are now taken for granted in much of US Christendom: emphases on belonging to and ministering through a local church of committed believers; small groups as the core unit of the church; family-oriented focus including practical teaching of the Christian roles of husband, wife and child; personal holiness and integrity among leaders and laity; discipleship and development of spiritual giftings, as pastors train the members to do the work of ministry, rather than doing everything themselves. The existing churches had no such vision, so a teaching fellowship turned into a church.
CLC and Terry Virgo’s New Frontiers International have been close friends since those early days, with leaders visiting one another’s churches and conferences, and input from the late Arthur Wallis another strong influence on both streams.
As CLC became successful in the ’80s at pursuing its vision, cassette tapes spread Mahaney and Tomczak’s teaching literally around the world. People began coming to Maryland from around the USA to join CLC, which grew from a few hundred in the early 80s to over 2,000 around the year 2000. In the mid-to-late 80s, CLC started planting churches in other cities (Tomczak’s Cleveland being the first), and some churches began joining the church-planting ministry, called People of Destiny International (PDI, now Sovereign Grace Ministries).
During this time, CLC and PDI began writing their own worship songs, filled with scripture-based themes, to reflect the movement’s vision and understanding of the gospel. Though New Frontiers picked up on these songs, until just the last few years the rich & creative PDI music has been a hidden jewel.
The transition from charismatic to Reformed was gradual but real, as Mahaney and the PDI leadership (Tomczak, Brent Detwiler, Steve Shank and others who were pastoring PDI churches) continued to develop their theology. Over the years, PDI rejected the prosperity gospel, the word-faith gospel, the therapeutic-faith gospel and other fads that tended to diminish the authority and holiness of God, the inherently sinful nature of man, and the individual’s responsibility for his own actions and response to the gospel. By the early 90s, however, the Reformed element was beginning to kick in, with more emphasis on the Puritans’ and Jonathan Edwards’ teachings, and a sudden emphasis on the Puritan teaching of “indwelling sin” rather than a victorious, power-filled faith which had previously shaped the culture.
Also during this time, CLC became not only the home of the movement, but also the home of a new PDI pastors school to train pastors for current and future PDI churches. PDI also began publishing People of Destiny (now Sovereign Grace) magazine, and a series of small books on discipleship, small groups, and other topics. These publications got the movement’s ideas known to even more people, leading to more growth in the PDI churches and more established churches’ joining the movement.
As it grew, PDI’s focus seemed always to be on the utterly practical, rather than on impressing anyone outside the movement. When questions needed to be answered regarding how to build a church building, how to organize children’s ministry, etc., CLC pastors would visit other churches in other movements (Cho in Korea, Vineyard in Anaheim, CA, etc) to learn from the successful. It seemed that 20 years spent in obscurity, working out their message and methodology, made it possible to emerge in the last few years as something that suprised many people.
In the 90s came a chapter that I wonder if Sovereign Grace would even like to talk about today. In 1994, C.J. Mahaney visited a New Frontiers-related church in Missouri, which Terry Virgo was overseeing personally following a pastoral replacement. As Mahaney began to preach a sober message on the sad ending of Solomon’s reign, “holy laughter” began to break out in the church. Mahaney could no longer continue speaking, as the entire congregation was hit with the same renewal that currently was underway in Toronto, and being dispensed by Rodney Howard-Browne. The renewal affected both NFI and PDI, and throughout 1994 renewal — what PDI called “a time of refreshing” — held sway at CLC and other PDI churches. The high-water mark came at the Memorial Day 1995 Celebration conference in Indiana, PA (theme “Passion for His Presence”). In addition to prolonged periods of worship before the main evening meetings — punctuated by powerful prophetic songs — personal ministry was done after one evening meeting. As at Toronto or other renewal spots, the Holy Spirit came in power, and bodies were on the floor by the hundreds as prayer ministry produced laughter, tears, shaking in most of thoese receiving prayer (including myself).
Though there was never any official public pronouncement given, it appeared that PDI began distancing itself from the Toronto-associated renewal after John Wimber expelled TAVC from the Vineyard in December 1995. While in 1994 and 1995 Mahaney was defending the renewal from its critics, including Hank Hanegraff, within a couple of years a PDI pastor, Craig Cabaniss, stated in a public debate that PDI had chosen “Geneva” (i.e., the Reformation) over “Toronto” (the current renewal/revival, and all the negative connotations associated with it).
By 2000, when I left CLC for a smaller church that was more open to the ongoing move of the Holy Spirit, any participation in the 90s renewal had been officially forgotten, and there was a total emphasis on the Cross of Christ, the writings of C.H. Spurgeon, and on identifying and rooting out “indwelling sin” in each member. There was, to me, an unhealthy, guilt-producing, emotional reminder, nearly every week, of how awful our sins were that nailed Christ to the cross. What was unhealthy, to me, was that we were always left at the cross, whereas the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus rose again (having conquered death and sin) and now sits at the right hand of God — full of authority which he now shares with redeemed men and women for whom sin is not a continuing stumbling block, but something that should be less and less frequent in a maturing believer’s life.
So like the Vineyard, PDI (renamed Sovereign Grace early in the 2000s — after co-founder Larry Tomczak had been forced from leadership in a dispute over whether he had properly overseen his family) had been established following one charimatic renewal, but had then gone on to reject the following charismatic renewal, instead turning back to a 500-year-old foundation in the Reformation.
Yet PDI/SGM continues to want it both ways: to have charismatic “distinctives” such as believing in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and charismatic-style worship, while embracing Reformed theology and rejecting the charismatic wing of US Christianity. Today, SGM identifies with Baptist pastor and author John Piper (who, BTW, believes the gifts of the Spirit are for today), and anti-charismatic John MacArthur, while still maintaining contacts with Virgo’s NFI (which has maintained more openness to Toronto-associated signs-and-wonders ministry), and having nothing to do with any ministry clearly recognized as charismatic.
All this to say that C.J. Mahaney has not suddenly become a “reformed charismatic.” What *is* sudden is the SGM movement’s sudden appearance on the “radar screen” of the church, now that his and his wife’s books, plus those of grafted-in Joshua Harris, have become Christian bestsellers. In addition, areas in which PDI/SGM were once too out-there for many (local-church & small-group emphasis) are now popular, and SGM has over 20 years of experience to share.
What’s interesting to me is that in rejecting the Toronto-Brownsville style of renewal, PDI/SGM led to the birth of other very successful ministries. Lou Engle and Che Ahn, now leaders at Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena and other related ministries, were both part of TAG and CLC from the earliest days. They moved to Pasadena after Ahn had a dream in which a black man called him to California, much like Paul’s dream that led him to Macedonia. Ahn started a PDI church there but was eventually forced out of the movement — events that Ahn refers to obliquely in his 1998 book, INTO THE FIRE. Ahn and Engle continued to minister in the LA area, however, and when the 90s renewal hit the Vineyard churches, both were radically changed. Locating Harvest Rock Church at Mott Auditorium in Pasadena allowed Ahn to welcome the Toronto and Brownsville streams to California, and HRC hosted a number of Catch the Fire conferences since the late 1990s. Both men went on to found The Call and related youth/revival movements, including a new prayer-based ministry in Washington DC focused on social justice.
Meanwhile, after Tomczak chose to break with PDI rather than continue submitting to a potentially never-ending period of correction, he was welcomed at Brownsville AG and became a member of the teaching staff at their revival school of ministry. He now pastors Christ the King church in Atlanta, and has published books that explore themes he has been advancing since the 1980s — divine appointments and being a spiritual pioneer.
At 8:48 PM, Diane said…
Thank you so much for all of that information. Of course I have mixed feelings about you going in the Toronto direction. If you’ve read my blog for long you progbably realize that I am not a big fan. After really trying to do objective research over the last 11 years, I have more problems with the movement now than before even.
As for the Sovereign Grace people, I jsut am not seeing the Charismatic very strongly, although I do see the Reformed part clearly. But then I tend to be more Pentecostal where the gifts and Baptism of the HOly Spirit and tongues and deliverance and authority of the believer, etc. is VERY clear in most groups and denominations.
At 7:12 AM, Totem to Temple said…
I thought Che Ahn’s church was at one time affiliated with the Vineyard and at one time called the Pasadena Vineyard?
If I remember correctly, when Wimber kicked John Arnott / Toronto Airport Vineyard (now Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) / Toronto Blessing out of the Vineyard, Charisma Magazine reported that some churches immediately pulled out of the Vineyard supporting TACF and that Ahn’s church was one of the major churches that did so (the original St. Louis Vineyard was another major Vineyard church that pulled out).
Therefore, Ahn’s introduction to the TB was more due to the fact that the Vineyard churches were open to it and was implementing this from Anaheim on down.
I remember that Larry Tomczak was widely respected within the Vineyard when I attended a Vineyard years ago. I had not heard his name in many years until I came across a J. Lee Grady article in my e-mail entitled “Fire In My Bones: Ashamed and Outraged in Atlanta” available at http://forums.strang.com/viewtopic.php?t=7401
where Tomczak regrets for not reaching out to the female victims of the Paulk sex scandals.
At 5:10 PM, Don said…
Diane, I found that the way to understand Toronto is not to do objective research, but actually to participate in what the Lord is doing through that renewal. If you want to find problems, you’ll find problems — just as you will with any past revival, going all the way back to the original church of Corinth!
Just because there are problems associated with a revival, doesn’t mean the Lord is not at the source of the revival — or indeed the very source of the revival. In the end, we have to inspect the fruit. I now have 12 years of periodic participation in the Toronto revival, and I’m willing for anyone to inspect the fruit in my life.
RE Che — yes, he did have a Vineyard church after leaving PDI, and it was through the Vineyard that Che was immersed in the renewal. Che left the Vineyard when Wimber disfellowshipped TACV.
Che Ahn is another person you could ask regarding the validity of the Toronto revival — he has a doctorate in theology, and had a solid scriptural and doctrinal foundation laid while in PDI. If Ahn is still supporting the Toronto revival, you can be sure he’s got some solid reasons that have to do with the revival’s bringing people back to their first love, and empowering them to share that first love with others.
Also with Tomczak — he identified with the Pensacola revival, but just as strongly as Ahn has the Toronto one. You must understand that both of these men pastored churches for years while praying for revival, doing evangelism, and undergoing the very dry period of the 1980s and early 90s. Both are very solid guys, personally and professionally. If they believe that the spirit of Toronto and/or Pensacola is of God, then that should carry some weight.
Do I agree with everything that can be associated with either revival? No, and I doubt they do. But there’s been an amazing amount of guilt-by-association smearing done, with little examination of the fruit of these revivals.
Randy Clark, “firestarter” of Toronto, has been doing overseas evangelism for five years now. He reports that in last year’s trip to India, his team saw over 200,000 Indians make decisions for Christ, and over 100,000 healings performed by God. That’s just one of his many trips last year, and many more are planned for this year. Why hasn’t anyone examined this amazing, ongoing outcome of revival power?
At 3:33 PM, Geir Lie said…
Fascinating to read.
I am a Norwegian scholar of Pentecostalism and neo-Pentecostalism. I am also the managing editor of the Refleks journal, which carries academic articles (some in English, and some in a Scandinavian language)on this topic.
Unfortunately, Tomczak (and Mahaney) are almost ignored in the New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, and I’d like to be more informed re the history from the Gathering of Believers church (1977)through the various phases up till now. (I am kind of confused re when they took the name PDI, when they became Covenant Life and when they became/were Sovereign Grace. Maybe you could help me out?
Maybe you have the opportunity to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ?
At 3:26 PM, Geir Lie said…
I have not heard back from Dom. Are there somebody else out there who are able to increase my knowledge in this area? Either by emailing me or by posting your answer here.
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous said…
why don’t you ask God instead of asking people who you probably won’t listen to if you already have a stance in what you believe.
open heart. you don’t know everything. humans don’t know everything. so what’s the point in having a debate/conversation about it?
God knows everything. and if you truly seek, truly ask Him in prayer, i’m sure He will reveal to you the convictions out there.
At 1:45 PM, Anonymous said…
that was anonymous becuase i don’t have an account.
At 6:17 AM, jul said…
Just a thought, Newfrontiers, in my personal experience, is far more charismatic than Sovereign Grace. They openly and eagerly desire all the gifts , to my knowlege, and practise them too.
At 10:02 PM, Anonymous said…
Hard to believe Larry Tomczak and Che Ahn were leaders and part of the PDI movement which later became Sovereign Grace Ministries. From my understanding Tomczak’s arminian theology played a major role in his departure from PDI once Mahaney began to see Reformed Theology as essential to PDI’s identity. It would be interesting to see what relationship, if any, Mahaney currently has with Tomczak/Ahn and vice versus.
At 8:08 AM, Anonymous said…
Thanks for the history of CLC post 1981. I was in the Tuesday night TAG in 1977, which evolved into a saturday night fellowship called Gathering of Believers. This quickly became a Sunday morning church which took place at rented local school auditoriums. Attendees were encouraged to go throught the “commitment tapes”. The mantra then was that the emphasis was on people and that the leadership had no interest in owning real estate. The church had already planted several churches (one in PA) when I left in 1982. Must have been just before this that they changed the name from GOB to Covenant Life. In this brief time span the direction of the leadership had already changed considerably. I became aware of various abuses of “authority” in the church – particularly the way they were handled. This is one of the reasons I left in 1982.
At 3:28 PM, Don said…
Heavy-handed “shepherding” by overzealous, inexperienced young leaders led to a number of people leaving GOB/CLC in the early years — the period of the Shepherding Movement. While some of the problem was the leaders,’ there was also lack of balance on individuals’ part, in willingly turning over too much of their lives for others to advise/control.
At 12:43 PM, Bob said…
I wonder why you omitted from your history the terrible period when Gathering of Believers implemented the shepherding teaching of Charles Simpson,et al, with the disastrous results in the lives of dozens of people, including my family. CJ and other “elders” may not even know the damage that they did. While my family and I have forgiven them, none of them,except for Roger Dillon who left the church, have asked for forgiveness.
At 12:22 PM, Anonymous said…
Charles Schmidt I think was who you are referring. He came in to GOB and PDI as an “apostle” and I always thought it weird that those who lead this incredibly fruitful TAG ministry would turn over vision to a man who had little background. I knew a personal friend of Charles and we had him come to a Bible Study to discuss what they were doing – it was definitely the “man behind the cutain”. -mikes
At 3:59 PM, Luke Wood said…
Newfrontiers (led by Terry Virgo) was actually born out of a move of the Spirit – our coming together prompted by various prophetic words etc etc… so it is slightly unfair to give the impression that it’s a label we have lately been pursuing, when if we weren’t charismatics we would not exist as a movement!
At 11:23 PM, Anonymous said…
Don, thanks for the excellent synopsis of the charismatic movement and the evolution of the TAG, CLC, PDI & SGM. I would like to share some aspets of our experience in the charismatic movement, PDI, and another five fold ministry, MFI, led by Dick Iverson.
My wife & I were both saved during the heady days of the charismatic renewal and Jesus people movement, circa 1971 in Florida. It was not uncommon for us to attend meetings at a Catholic Charismatic gathering, AOG, Jesus people house ministry at the local Church of God, or just charismatic youth meetings where ever, all in one week!! Eventually, we got planted in an AOG church while frequently attending Full Gospel Businessmens meetings, Jesus festivals, etc. It was at the Jesus festivals we became familiar with the awesome ministry of Dereck Prince, Bob Mumford, and Larry Tomczak & CJ Mahaney, who quickly became our favorites.
The wonderful thing about the charismatic movement in the 70’s was the youthful enthusiam and freshness, intimate worship, and the lack of denominational imperatives. However, it was also fraught with potential problems as we all needed to mature in our understanding of leadership and commitment. Someone coined the phrase Crusin Charismatics, as we went from meeting to meeting, seeking fresh outpourings. But lest anyone think this is a condemnation of the charismatic renewal, I would take this experience any day over the critics of the movement, who were shackled in tradition that prohibited them from entering into the wonderful joy and power we experienced.
Along about the early 80’s we became aware of the need for more mature expressions of our faith and we had tired of the tradition laden pentacostal movement, desiring to continue in the current move of God. As you pointed out the ministry of Terry Virgo & Arthur Wallis, in England, were pioneering the re-establishment of the five fold ministry, especially the role of apostolic leadership. When I learned through a friend in Virgina of Larry & CJ embracing teh five fold ministry, we wanted in. This led to a visit to the DC area to visit Fairfax Covenant Life Church, pastored by Benny & Sherie Phillips, which was a early church planting of PDI. Long story short, we returned to Florida burning to be a part of this new move of God. Within years we were of the good fortune to become one of the first PDI churches in Florida, circa 1985.
I think you have really done a great job of documenting the evolution of PDI/SGM theology, so I will skip my personal experience as it parallels yours. I concur with your observations as to the wonderful contributions PDI/SGM has made, as well as some of the recent emphasis on indwelling sin.
Due to events that I now see as God ordained, I found myself in a situation where we moved to Albuquerque, and found a church that embraced the five fold ministry but was under the ministry of Dick Iverson and company, out of Portland, Oregon. Reading the writings of one of thier main theologians, Frank DiMarzio, I found a ministry that closely paralled my PDI experience. However, the Iverson organization, Ministers Fellowship International, had two major differences from PDI. First, they don’t focus on indwelling sin, but instead focus on the power of grace to motivate believers. Secondly, they only adopt the pastor, serving as a support/resource. Thier view of apostolic ministry is a father. PDI, on the other hand, emphasized the wise master builder aspect of apostolic ministry. Therefore, they adopt whole churches, not just the pastor.
Like Che Ahn, I learned a great deal of excellent things from my experience in PDI. I learned to embrace and understand the role of the five fold ministry. I learned the to respect and submit to leadership, and I learned to move with the Spirit as He unfolds new revelation, while remaining firmly anchored in the Word.
However, I am equally thankful for the MFI vision too. After struggling with the MFI vision, I eventually came to appreciate the wonderful ministry of grace and mercy which they emphasize. I desperately needed this revelation, largely because of personal penchant towards legalism.
At this point I have to admit that I have not adequately researched what the exact doctrine of indwelling sin is, but I could relate to the description about stopping at the cross and not moving on to the resurrection. My experience and study of the Word, as well as my exposure to the MFI ministry, has led me to believe that I probably don’t agree with some of the fundamental tenants of indwelling sin. I do believe in the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and our renewed man, and position seated with Christ in the heavenlies. I believe our victory grows as we focus our hearts and minds on Christ, not on sin. As we spend time with Him and in the word, our Spirit grows strong, eventually overpowering the flesh and obliterating the desire for things of this world as our desire for things of God grows.
I personally believe one of the most remarkable things is that an infalliable, perfect God trusts infalliable man with perfect truth. He knows the risks, yet He does it anyway. I have come to believe that every true movement of God, current and past, has specific areas of truth that they embraced and that God manifested Himself in. I believe we need to hear what God is saying to leaders in the church, even if we don’t subscribe to specific aspects of thier theology. But ultimately we have to be planted and submit under a local minstry, and I believe the Lord leads us to places where we can wholeheartedly submit and support the leadership, both giving and receiving.
Interestingly, in recent years we found ourselves in a seeker sensitive church. This lasted a short time due to the lack meat in teaching, and the over emphasis on the impression of the unchurched to charismatic worship and epxressions, while substituting appearence oriented expressions in its place. Whle I believe there are some important lessons that can be learned from the seeker friendly/sensitive movement, I have found it to be empty of the power of God. Eventually, we have ended up in a WOF church. I believe that this is a season that God has ordained to help us understand convenant, and the authority of the believer. However, as with all movements, there are areas where they have some great truth for the church, and areas that could be better. So we are learning what we believe the Lord wants us to understand and we have been quite blessed in the process. However, you are quite right in identifying WOF as a pentacostal derivative, and not charismatic. This is a problem for me, as the ministry style and worship is decidedly dated. I am too charismatic to feel satisfied with that, yet I am benefiting from many areas where they have revelation. My faith has grown, I am no longer pushed around by the enemy, and healing has become a reality in my life. That is good stuff.
At any rate, thanks for the great post. You really have done a great job!!
At 8:44 AM, Anonymous said…
If Larry Tomczak left PDI due to his differences with them over the Calvinistic theology that they moved toward then it is a shame that other reasons were given at the time for him leaving.
I would doubt that C.J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak talk that much or anymore than C.J. Mahaney does with Charles Schmidt.
It is sad that even people in the same move of God don’t have the unity of Christ.
At 2:13 PM, Tiber Jumper said…
I pray that you may be one….
At 10:54 PM, Joann F. Cervantes said…
Hi I’m the former Joann F. Emanuele, a core member of the original T.A.G., well that was my maiden name, my married name is Joann F. Cervantes.Core member meaning I went to once a week core meetings of the leadership of T.A.G. which were held at Lydia Littles home. I wrote Larry and CJ 7 years ago sharing some of my life and sending some art, they both graciously sent me a copy of one of their books and CJ sent me a copy of a music CD. I was very disappointed when I called CJ’s church and was told they didn’t know Larry’s address. I consider myself a recovering Catholic,(You can take the Jesus Freak out of the Jesus movement, but you can’t take Jesus out of the Jesus Freak) My faith has grown and never stopped since accepting Christ at l9 actually after watching a show called “God’s Good News” and later appearing on that show, the only woman ever I was told, appearing along with some T.A.G. men. I have much to share about my own spiritual journey which interestingly took me in another direction, but never away from Christ,,,,,as I have read these comments tonight I find it interesting, first, it’s thrilling to see all the original T.A.G. people to still be so devoted to God, A BIG PLUS,,,,,,I very much want to have a reunion. I remember Larry once at a core meeting saying in 30 years or more we need to have a reunion. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit around those same original core people and some original T.A.G. people and share our very different journey’s in the Lord. I have written and journaled prolifically my spiritual journey. I presently write for my Catholic Church edition of our diocese newspaper, taught CCD (catechism) for l0 years, and currently also bring communion to the sick in a local nursing home. I would love to hear from any old T.A.G. friends my email is JFC6Kid@aol.com I also have a myspace.com/momcervantes
and a website JFCervantes.com.
I plan to have my own book out someday, but in the meantime continue to rejoice and spend my life for God, through many recent trials. I really wanted to talk to CJ over this past Christmas and tried to contact him through his sister, but never received a return call. I have been in the biggest battle of my life, but will tell my story when the time is right.
Godspeed to anyone of my friends and I would love to hear from anyone. Sincerely, Joann F. Cervantes
July 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm
The Evening Independent – Jun 21, 1980
Sect’s Practices Baffle Even Its Members
That article, as bad as the activities reported are, doesn’t describe things even 1/1,000 as bad they were, especially for wives. And while I was not aware of some of what was reported, the things described were similar enough to what I knew about and experienced that I don’t doubt the article.
The Cincinnati Enquirer 28 Jun 1980
I think the title of news article is:
Sect Spanks Its Members in Exorcisms
The Cincinnati Enquirer: Archives -…
You can also try:
July 14, 2016 at 4:59 pm
June 28, 1980
A Publisher Extra Newspaper
The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 24
“Sect Spanks Its Members in Exorcisms”
Gordon Powlison is mentioned 8 times in the article, according to the page search and highlight function. “Gordon Powlision,” in quotes, is mentioned 2 times in the article, according to the page search and highlight function.
August 18, 2016 at 10:04 am
Amber and Alice,
I recently read your postings. I have never read anyone else say that Gordon Powlison et al had harmed, especially with lasting harm. Thank you so much for sharing.
I’m very sorry for your families’ experiences, especially since they are ongoing.
If you look up Robert Lifton’s Criteria for Thought Reform, and Margaret Singer’s Conditions for Mind Control and similar things, you will see the methods used to destroy and control in groups Powlison touched. Gordon Powlison and group were very skilled at using all of those methods. In fact, when I looked at the lists, the mist cleared a little for a time and I thought, “That’s exactly what they did to us!”
Gordon Powlision et al employed such heavy-handed toxic and abusive psychological, emotional, and spiritual weapons that came with such power from the devil that there is great need for everyone ever affected by them to be set free from those powers and to be healed from the destruction of personality and heart. The spiritual powers don’t just go away if people went away from him.
I have been praying all this time, and am still so bound and damaged. How terrible to have been so terribly harmed by someone supposedly preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a “Christian church”.
So, please, pray and continue to pray for your dad and your families, so God will heal them and set them free. I have been praying for them. They will need PERSEVERING prayer. .
Maybe we could also pray for ALL people damaged and destroyed by Gordon Powlison and his cronies. (And also by SGM and Bill Gothard and other similar places. It seems like the Church in America is more and more taken over by such doctrines and practices.)
I guess that means we raise the Church up to the dear heavenly Father.
August 18, 2016 at 10:31 am
Gordon Powlison. Faith Fellowship. Search: Sect’s Practices Baffle Even Its Members
It was even much worse than the news article said, especially for wives. And children.
August 18, 2016 at 10:36 am
Original article on fcov.blogspot —
Shapshot archive taken on July 2, 2007 at
Looks like some later comments didn’t make it onto this snapshot
May 15, 2022 at 1:10 am
Thank you Lily, for all your kindness.
The man I got my last name from is in that first article. My father’s “spiritual parent”
It’s so surreal sometimes, thank you for being present and empathetic.