You have often posted comments that are evasive, talk and circles and are deliberately vague. But here is what I have come away with after this exchange.
Based upon your comments and others here and my own thirty years of experience working in the area of destructive cults, the IWWB appears to be a classic cult.
The group is exclusive and sees no other group, organization or denomination of Christians as legitimate. Members believe they are the spiritual elite chosen by God to judge and lead. This belief system is similar to the Waco Davidians, Unification Church, International Church of Christ, Exclusive Brethren, Children of God and other supposedly bible-based groups that have been called "cults". All the groups can cite and quote various scriptures, which supposedly prove they are right etc. However, the scriptures only prove those inside the group and are based upon the group's interpretation of those scriptures. This is done by spinning the scriptures in what can be seen as little more than "proof-texting", which is a discredited form of studying the bible.
The IWWB apparently has no meaningful accountability or financial transparency and therefore appears to be essentially a totalitarian organization run by Mike Vinson and "elders". The only check on the leadership's power is that members are free to leave if they don't like the way the group is run. But based upon posts on this thread they are made to feel fearful about leaving and that there is no other group to affiliate with chosen by God.
Please understand that your quotation of scripture is not what "God says" or what "God wants", but rather a reflection of how leaders can twist the bible to mean whatever they want.
Jesus warned that many would come in his name, but he would not know them (Matthew 24:5) and that there would be "false prophets" and "They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Matthew 7:15). Paul warned believers about bad leaders and condemned them in Galatians. Peter also said there would be "false teachers" (2 Peter 2:1-3). These scriptures are not subject to interpretation, but instead are self evident and quite explicit. What they say collectively is that groups like the IWWB have been around for a long time and believers should watch out for them.
Cults behave in a fairly predictable and consistent manne, which can be observed through their pattern of their behavior.
Certain psychological themes which recur in these various historical contexts also arise in the study of cults. Cults can be identified by three characteristics:
1. a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
2. a process I call coercive persuasion or thought reform;
3. economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.
In my opinion these themes are evident in the IWWB based upon the discussion and posts at this thread.
The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:
1. The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance
2. The use of an organized peer group
3. Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity
4. The manipulation of the totality of the person's social environment to stabilize behavior once modified
In my opinion the IWWB uses coercive persuasion to maintain control over members of the group.
"The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic dogma, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. This sacredness is evident in the prohibition (whether or not explicit) against the questioning of basic assumptions, and in the reverence which is demanded for the originators of the Word, the present bearers of the Word, and the Word itself."
This is one of the criteria for "thought reform" as explained by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton and would apply to the peculiar way that the IWWB quotes and uses the bible. This can be seen as the IWWB form of "sacred science" for the "ordering of human existence". That is, the Vinson/IWWB interpretation of the bible is not just an interpretation, but rather "what God says" and therefore cannot be questioned and is perfect. Any other understanding of the bible is wrong and condemned. Likewise all churches, denominations and Christians that disagree are always wrong.
Of course you probably feel that all this doesn't apply to your group. Other groups may be "cults", but not your group. But that's what they all say.
In my opinion if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it just might be a duck. And you should know that I have been qualified and accepted as an expert witness in court proceedings about groups called "cults" in 10 states including US. Federal Court.
I would strongly recommend that you take an IWWB vacation. Get out of the bubble you are in and seek out others for feedback. You might take a month off and stay away from anyone associated in any way, shape or form with IWWB. During that time talk with Christian clergy and other believers in your area to learn in-depth specifically why they would disagree with Vinson/IWWB doctrines. You might be surprised to find out how solid and biblical their explanations will be in an open discussion away from the group and its influence.
I realize that you probably won't do this in any meaningful way and that at this point you are probably deeply embedded in the group and its mindset.
But there it is.
Thank you for helping me to understand what's wrong with Vinson/IWWB. Often people that post at this message board to defend their group actually end up indicting it through their statements.
Even though you have attempted to avoid directly answering questions enough has come through anyway to indict your group, its practices and teachings.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2013 11:50PM by rrmoderator.