Saturday, January 7, 2012

First Things

The activities and behaviors described on this site result from the combined observations of many Christian people who are intimately familiar with New Testament Christian Churches of America Inc., it’s doctrines and methods, it’s leaders and governmental structure, and it’s general view of life and the world around us. We promise to scrupulously avoid obnoxious hyperbole, and to refrain from mischaracterization. That which you find described here represents the typical experience that you can expect to find once you have passed within the gravitational pull of the group. Once you have entered their sphere of influence, the decision to pull back is not difficult in the beginning, but be warned: the deeper an individual is pulled in, the more stressful and painful it is to extricate oneself. Sometimes, escape appears to be simply impossible.

  Part 1: How Did I Get Here?
  It is unlikely that anyone not fully aquainted with NTCC could begin to appreciate the dynamics that operate within the organization at the higher levels. Let us therefore begin at the beginning, with a detailed description of what the newcomer can expect to find upon her very first visit. Since there is variety within any organization, even one as monofacial as NTCC, there may be exceptions to the following generalities. But remember, we are only speaking of the typical experience, and it is highly probably that any first-time visitor will notice at least some of the following. So pay close attention, and you will be able to recognize some of the things that have perhaps caused you to ask “Where am I, and what is going on?” Keep in mind that if you have a spouse, a close friend or relative that is being pulled into the NTCC sphere of influence, we have not forgotten about you. Special mention will be made of what to look for and how to look out for the best interest of
your loved one.
  The Invitation
  In our world of conflicting information, we grow frustrated at the growth of pseudo-christian cults (those that pretend to base their teachings on the Bible and Christianity but are in reality far removed from all resemblance to anything Christian) and their influence in the lives of people that we love. It is an unwelcome event in the daily routine of most people when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking on our door, inviting us on a whirlwind tour of deception, arrogantly proclaiming the primacy of their bizarre doctrines and elevating their own importance in the scheme of history. The fact that they distort the identity of Jesus Christ is the primary reason for the label of ‘cult’ that they have long worn. Perhaps it has not occurred to you that there are those who teach correct doctrines specifically concerning the person of Jesus Christ, who nevertheless approach their responsibility to Christ in ways that are harmful to those who follow them. Maybe you never heard of a “Christian cult”. So perhaps you found it refreshing when a stranger knocked on your door and invited you to New Testament Christian Church.
  “Here is someone”, you might have thought, “who looks professional, dresses nice, is warm and friendly, and is actually a Christian instead of a Mormon, or worse. It’s high time the real believers started doing something active instead of letting the cults do all the work.”
  Maybe a co-worker or someone in you barracks has impressed you with their good-spirited leadership or gentle disposition. You wish you could emulate their characteristics and you know that religion has something to do with the way they behave. They invite everyone they meet to their church, this “wonderful, incredible” church where they “really get the Word of God” and which seems to be an almost tangible means of propulsion and positive force in their life. Or it may be that you are already a Christian, and are looking for a church to attend that will meet your spiritual needs and offer you a personal challenge. You’re not looking for the same old boring, stand-up-sit-down liturgy that you’ve suffered through most of your life. No, you’re looking for a place where you will be pushed to really do something for God. And that person, that stranger, that co-worker, seems to be offering just the thing you need. “Something different about that guy…” And so the hand was extended, the doorbell was rung, you were impressed, or just curious, and you went.
  The Mind Behind
  Behind the kind face of your friend, or that stranger at the door, is a mind that is calculating every possible means by which to secure your attendance at New Testament Christian Church. There is certainly nothing wrong with a harmless invitation, nor is it unusual for a salesman to believe in his product. But as you interact with these people, keep in mind that they are doing just that–acting in a salesmanship capacity.
  Jesus gave instructions to believers to go into all the world and preach the gospel “to every creature”. Yet if we examine the scriptural evidence, we find that evangelism is carried out in many different ways and in many different places. But the pastor of your friendly neighborhood New Testament Christian Church is teaching those who sit under his ministry that God wants them “in church”, that they have no business attending any other church, that the church building is where God does his work, that personal evangelism is not effective, and that they are wrong to take part in such activities. “We’re not here to do street witnessing; you’ll never get them in church that way. Just get them in church”, is the repeated command.
  The main point is the desire for attendance. The goal is not to win your soul for Jesus Christ; the goal is to win your loyalty, your full participation, and your financial support. The pastor himself believes that God speaks through him and he craves an audience. He is under a degree of pressure from his superiors to produce results in the form of numbers and cash. The members who attend the church are constantly reminded to “Get them in church, get them in church”. Under the guise of praying for you out of concern for your soul, your friend is consulting with the pastor about you. The pastor, having never met you, is psychoanalyzing you, pointing out your shortcomings and passing along salesmanship techniques to your friend, always making sure to apply plenty of pressure to “Get them in church”. The first thing that must be understood about New Testament Christian Church is this: They have no use for you until you walk through the doors.
  Does this seem odd? It certainly should. You will find your friend, your co-worker, or that person knocking on your door to be especially interested in everything about you as an individual. Everything they say to you, every facial expression you see, is an overture. This person seems to display a level of caring that is just somehow unreal. It is not necessarily phony, but it is calculated to achieve her ultimate end, which is to bring you to her church. She is not evil. She is simply sold on a very strong piece of faulty information: that her church represents the only hope you will ever have of making it into heaven. Even if you are already a Christian, this does not matter to your friend. She may treat you nicely and nod her head and say encouraging things when you talk about your own Christian experience, but she does not accept a word of it. In the mind of this seemingly loving person, your life is lacking something very important. Your whole problem is that you do not currently attend her church. In subsequent articles I will discuss the curious doctrines that compel them to place enormous importance on church attendance and upon the act of preaching from the pulpit.
  For Concerned Loved Ones
  If your spouse has become involved in the beginning stages of attendance at a New Testament Christian Church in your area, the danger is probably not great at this time. Perhaps you have attended together. Maybe your wife or husband has attended on their own. It is easy to detach oneself in the beginning. You must simply be careful not to take an adversarial position toward your spouse, because he or she has been prepared for it. If your husband, for example, has experienced a church service and enjoyed it, someone has probably encouraged him to “bring your wife next time; we’d love to meet her.” Do not be afraid to attend with him. You will stand a better chance of avoiding trouble if you know what you are talking about. It is not especially dangerous if you know what to expect. You may wish to encourage him to visit this site with an open mind before things become too serious.
  But perhaps the best thing you can do for your spouse is to sit down together and agree upon some personal spiritual goals for your family. You may want to decide in advance that you will attend church together, and that neither will attend an assembly of any kind without the approval of the other. Give each other “veto power” over these very important and eternal matters. This will give you a reason to feel influential rather than powerless in your relationship with your spouse, and it may defuse some otherwise tense situations. Remember: Even if you are a Christian couple, New Testament Christian Church does not believe your Christianity is real, will attempt to break your spouse free of your influence if you do not attend, and has no use for your loved one outside of complete dedication and participation in any and all church-related events. They are aggressive, but if you act early, the infection need not spread.
This article is part of a series entitled ‘The Circumnavigators‘.

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