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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chris19 ()
Date: December 06, 2011 02:09AM

Just come across a very interesting website www.journeyfree.org. It is for those who are trying to recover from harmful religion. Never realised that in the past I had suffered from RTS - religious trauma syndrome!

Dr Marlene Winell (other interesting sites will come up if you google her name) has also written a book called "Leaving The Fold" which I wish I had read years ago. It is stange enough to read people's stories on this site and to realise how much we had in common with each other except we never knew, but quite another to have a professional describe many of the reactions and internal conflicts that I for one experienced when trying to leave and in the aftermath of so doing.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: December 07, 2011 08:16PM

Hi Chris

Had a look at the Dr Marlene Winell website. While I would agree there is some good information, there is also an element of anti Christianity. I do not know your stance on this. Speaking for myself I am still a Christian still serving God. I know full well you have been hurt and I can understand if you have backed away from Christianity; even more God understands too. There was a time when I had thought of giving up, but then I thought I won't let them win, for they are illegitimate children of God, people who follow men and not the word of God. The word says: "you will know them by there fruits" Matthew 7:16. If you are still a Christian, be careful you do not throw the baby out with the bath water. God bless you

susie

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: December 07, 2011 10:50PM

susie,

Yes - Marlene Winell offers support and counselling to people who are no longer christians, so not quite the same thing as Rick Ross.

Speaking as someone who is no longer a believer, the bottom line for me and most other ex-christians is that there are people and organisations with religious beliefs who’se actions and teachings are benign and there are those who’se actions and teachings are harmful. I think we all know which group the SMC belongs to.

I've actually read many articles by Marlene Winell and interviews with her it is clear she offer a valued and service to people who for many reasons are no longer christians. You need to be aware that the situation in America regarding how atheists are viewed is quite different to over here in the UK.

Regarding your talk of “anti-christianity”, which presumably refers to something you read that was criticising either christians or what christians believe. Please be careful not to resort to the same measures and tactics when you yourself end up dealing with people who no longer believe what you do - i.e. the kind of tactics used by Struthers people when encountering members who leave their organisation or now “think differently” to them.

SMC people would consider everything on this thread to be “ant-struthers” talk. I cannot count the number of times i’ve heard such phrase such as “well you never were a christian in the first place” or “you still believe deep down, you're just angry at god” or “you left the faith so you could go and sin”. Just like SMC people will use such talk or think such things to justify THEMSELVES and to try to come to terms with how someone could reject THEM - so the same applies to how christians come to terms with friends and others who have become "ex-christians”.

Atheists in the USA are the most loathed group by many surveys and in many areas of the USA atheists choose to keep their views secret. They talk in terms of “coming out”. Revealing to ones family that one no longer is a christian can often be devastating.

But to return to the matter at hand I have to agree that Winells site is not altogether appropriate for this thread. Yes - there are often similar issues faced by people who leave christianity
but my and our concern here is just to avoid believers getting involved in DAMAGING and cult-like churches - no more than that.

It also has to be said that I think - putting the USA aside, i think there is probably more vitriol found against believers who “switch churches” or criticise fellow believers while still being believers - than people who leave the faith altogether.

And speaking for myself personally - I encountered no problems with members or friends from the church I used to belong to after I stopped being a believer. They were very loving. Obviously they “wanted me back” but i never heard of any backbiting or nastiness concerning me after i left. But this was not the SMC. Instead this was what i regarded and still to regard as a basically healthy and loving fellowship. However it should also be said that I know of members from a splinter group from this church who claim that they were ostracised after they broke away. This was apparently a very hurtful time for many although i gather now they have tried to "heal the wounds” and be friendly. Both churches naturally felt they were following "gods will".


But - and this is where the Winell website DOES have relevance to this thread - I DO have to mention that the SMC and everything that has been discussed here definitely DID have a part to play in me leaving the faith but then so also did pentecostalism itself and fundamentalism in general.

And we see from another poster here ( forget the name ) that the SMC led to one member stopping going to church altogether, although he states he is attending another church which goes to show
that this thread really IS having a positive impact on people’s lives ( assuming of course that this new church is benign! ).

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: clare ()
Date: December 10, 2011 05:52AM

Clive , i didnt realise from your other posts that you had become a non-believer.

SMC and pentecostalism almost did that to me too, in fact for a very long time i have not been to 'church', and still dont. ( not that going or not going to church is the measure of my belief ) It took me a long time to realise that God didnt begin and end at Struthers and that hyped up wailing dancing and falling about " in the spirit" wasnt at all a hallmark of truth.

I am not sure ( but i would like to be told) how you can 'un-believe' in God........?
when you have known at one point in your life deep in your gut that he exists.

Despite how disappointed i am in religion in general, and how much science thinks it has prooved how the earth began , this still does not disproove God for me.
There are lots of things i have doubts about , but i dont doubt God exists.
He is bigger than science , further than the farthest universe , nearer than the next heart- beat.

About the bible, ..... why would the God of all creation only have ONE book, ONE way, to get to Him, when there are so many different peoples on the earth, i think there are some surprises in store. There are fanatics and evildoers in every religion , the muslims believe they have the "key" just as fervently as Christians do so why should Christians be right and muslims be wrong.

All I have wanted for quite a long time is to know the TRUTH , the whole TRUTH , and nothing but the TRUTH , and the longer I live the more I become convinced that no one group of people holds all the truth .
I doubt that God, in all his wisdom ,would trust one set of us measley humans with the whole truth.

I would like to think He has spread it out in all the worlds theologies and left clues in nature, etc. I am sure He has not given 'Christiandom' the whole set of keys so to speak.

I am still looking for truth, what i say here is my interpretation of it .
I am sure of only a very few things, and they didnt come from any revelation like a conversion experience, but from a quiet knowing that can only come with time, and noticing His intervention in my life in small ways , the little things that make me smile because I know its HIM.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: December 10, 2011 08:23AM

Hi Clare,

Although I DO think it matters what persons believe and how they go about determining what is “belief-worthy” my reason for posting here is specifically to do with the harmful effects of SMC and other similarly destructive churches and cults.

I should reiterate that MY experience in every charismatic church or fellowship that I was part of was pretty much all positive and I occasionally get nostalgic about much of the social and communal “fellowship” that went along with it. Everyone that I considered a close friend when I was a church attender STAYED a friend after I left, and it was only the fact that I no longer shared the same belief systems that stopped me from “fellowshipping” or meeting up with other church members. As ones interests change so does ones social circle. Its inevitable i think.

So my experience of leaving the last church I attended. or the onset i attended before that, is nothing like the bad experiences other people have shared here - who unlike me were members of SMC for a long time - some times more than 10 years apparently.

I dont intend to explain or justify my reasons for why I became an atheist here, but am happy to discuss things further with you via private message to answer any further questions you have, if you like.

But here I will just give you a link to a web site where ex-christians are encouraged to post their de-conversion testimonies. My story/reasons are on there too, but you’ll have to PM me and ask me which one of those "testimonies" is mine if you want more background:

[new.exchristian.net]

But here in this thread I don’t wish to get into any discussions about the matter. I think it would just be diversionary. Far as I can gather - Rick Ross and this thread - contrary to what posters may believe does not exist to promote any particular belief system( or non-belief systems for that matter ) , it is about preventing harmful styles of church leadership, cults and the like. No more no less.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/10/2011 08:29AM by Clive.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: December 10, 2011 09:13PM

Clive

Let me start by saying I did not realize some of the posters on this site were non believers. I have nothing against other peoples beliefs, what I am against is needlessly hurting people, who are trying to live out theirs no matter what they believe. I agree with Clare I do not belive that any church has the absolute truth, I believe God in his wisdom has let us know only what we need to know. The basics of Christianity are loving God and one another; when we as Christians stop loving one another, then our religion becomes a farce. I personally have learned so much more since I left SMC. One thing I learned to love and respect my fellow man who shares this planet with me, whether he is a believer or not. We all might be very surprised, who we will be sharing eternity with.



Susie

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: December 10, 2011 11:07PM

Hi sue,

I think that for reasons that should be pretty clear to us all, most posters - not just on this thread - but on the whole RR site - will be believers and church-goers of some sort- and given the country of the sites creators - mostly Christians. And of that group - probably mostly for the same reasons some kind of evangelical.

I am guessing that the amount of posters who have NEVER been xtians or theists of any sort is extremely small, but maybe a few non-believers who have family members involved in some cult have posted, and it would of course be of concern to them.

And of course there would be a few more non-believing posters that were at one time self professed christians of some kind or another - who have since changed their mind. Maybe a cult or destructive church played a major or minor part in that decision, maybe not. And it would seem to me not only pointless but in fact unhelpful for people to start “defending their faith” agains the “non-believers” here. Of course the temptation to do some “defending” of ones own “faith or non-faith position” is hard to resist sometimes - and that I include myself here too !. Mea Culpa!.

Its always good to remember that the definition of “cult” and “destructive church” that is used by the Rick Ross team is very clear - it is based on how the LEADERSHIP OPERATES, and not on whether any particular church is teaching the right “orthodoxy”. It is common of course to find christian books, apologetic ones for example - where they use the term “cult” to mean any church or religion that doesn’t share the same view on DOCTRINE
as themselves ( this comes mostly from evangelicals ) but that is not the kind of thing RR aims to be trying to prevent.

In fact a RR moderator even commented on this thread a while ago - just to clarify this point - that there are jehovahs witness churches and mormon church congregations/pastors who would NOT fit the term cult or destructive church, as used here by RR.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 12/10/2011 11:13PM by Clive.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: December 19, 2011 06:17AM

I would like to take this chance to wish all you MERRY GENTLEMEN AND MERRY GENTLEWOMEN


MERRY CHRISTMAS! GOD BLESS YOU ALL !

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susie

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: December 19, 2011 08:08AM

Thanks Susie.

May I add my voice to that

Merry Christmas everybody and have yourselves a happy new year.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: December 23, 2011 09:27AM

Most people who become a part of SMC for any length of time, I have found to be very committed and sincere Christians who are genuinely seeking to develop and grow in their Christian faith and to live sanctified and not worldly lives and follow the Bible. I do know people who have left SMC and are no longer believers in Christ, which I find rather sad, considering how they must have been whilst they were involved with SMC. It is indeed tragic if an experience in a controlling church has put them off any other form of religious belief or spirituality.
I also know people who have left SMC, who still hold to the Christian faith but are perhaps not as involved in church life as they were whilst in SMC. This is understandable because such an experience in an abusive church can make a person wary and anxious that it might happen to them again, and this can cause them to pull back from any church involvement, even within a healthy church setting.

Still others I know who have left SMC and who are now ardently committed in a right and true way to God in Jesus Christ and who are active in new church environments and busily engaged in ministering to others. And these people are happy, joyful and caring, and have peace of mind within themselves and freedom to worship and serve God according to the instruction of the Bible and in line with the leading of God in their own inner being and mind. They can think for themselves, make decisions and know true freedom within themselves.

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