Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Date: June 06, 2022 07:54PM
Hi all, and good to see the comments over the last few months – including some from new contributors. Great to hear from you all!
Escapedtofrance, I really liked the article on warning signs of a cult that you posted in January – very apposite. I know some dictionaries might define a cult in terms of the doctrines and beliefs, but anyone who provides support to people who are suffering mental or spiritual abuse is more interested in behaviours, and will recognise the issues in that article. As the article is entitled “5 warning signs of a cult masked as a church” and ends with the line “your church may be a cult” I have no doubt at all that the author would define Struthers as a cult.
As well as the cult-like behaviours it exhibits, Struthers is very far from standard doctrine and practice. Sure, they use about a hundred standard passages that are also well-used in many other churches but, as I pointed out a page or so back, there are actually many more verses that they avoid, so they immediately fail the test of whether they detract from scripture or not – they do. As you pointed out Rensil, they also add to the Bible by making their own prophesies and visions more important than the word of God. Good point, and one I had not really thought of that way but, as soon as you examine it, it is pretty clear. Just take verses like 1 Cor 10v15 (see previous page). It says, “judge for yourselves” but the Struthers approach is “don’t dare to judge God’s anointed”, and the message from the pulpit is clear – you should give more weight to the teaching of the leaders than to the word of God.
On top of this, they have some very unorthodox doctrines that are not adopted by other churches. They for example believe that born-again spirit-filled Christians can be possessed by demons and need exorcism. I am not sure any other church believes that.
There are then things like the role of women. The two standard positions adopted by churches across the world are either “egalitarianism” (i.e. men and women are spiritually the same and can have equal roles) or “complementarianism” (i.e. men and women have different and complementary roles). Mr Black argued (in his books as well as from the pulpit) for a third position, which is that men and women are different, with complementary roles BUT if women wore a hat, then that overcame the difference and women could have roles that were otherwise restricted to men. That is a very unusual position doctrinally.
Then there is of course the money issue – the Rolex watches and Maseratis mentioned by regtree1234, and the comfortable houses all the leaders have (some, like the one in London, paid for by people’s donations by the look of it). That is not the experience of most men and women of God who have suffered hardship and want, sacrificing their own needs for the needs of others. I know of young Christian graduates today who are planning to work professionally but to live in a poor community and give 50% of their salary to that community. I am not saying everyone needs to do that, but it is interesting to compare that to the affluence and comfort of the Struthers leaders to the experiences of both past and future spiritual leaders who have sacrificed for their faith rather than spending their time in comfort and telling everyone else to give things up.
I could go on, but there is also the ultimate test in Matthew 7v15 onwards, that every good tree brings forth good fruit. Those of you still attending Struthers meetings do really need to ask yourself that question - is the Struthers approach bringing forth good fruit? Have a look around – how many of the people in the room would you want to emulate? Is the meeting packed with people who have grown and are fruitful, or people who have stagnated and have lost their energy and joy? That is possibly the best test of a cult - are the outcomes wholesome and building the Kingdom of God here on Earth, or are they destructive and sucking the life out of people? There are a number of previous posts that shed light on the answer to that question.
As Mr Black used to say, “My Word will not return to me void”. So, if it is returning void, I guess it is not God’s word then.