Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Date: October 24, 2017 11:48PM
Hi Henri, and welcome to the forum.
You make some valid points, but not really sure what the alternatives are.
In terms of the anonymous postings, yes, I am sure that you are right that both former and current members will speculate about who is posting. Not sure that the anonymous posters can be blamed for creating division in the church however. For a start, why would anyone in Struthers act any differently even if they knew you had posted messages on the forum? I would not act any differently if I knew you or someone from SMC was in a group I was talking to. What is it that members would talk about in secret (only in front of other members) and not talk about in public (for example, in front of people who post in this forum)?
Surely they should be gracious and honest whoever they are speaking to. Is that not basic integrity?
The one statement you make that I cannot agree with is, "they are not perfect by any means and they know that". Sorry, but there is absolutely clear evidence that is on record saying that they think they are perfect. A quick glance at things like the article about the last online sermon on the latigo site (www.latigo214.info) makes it totally clear that the leaders "only move on the explicit instruction of the Lord God of Hosts" and that to criticise them is to criticise God. Until they publicly retract that statement, they are on record as saying they are perfect (which is in my view the single biggest problem, and the cause of much of the trauma recorded on this site).
The question of the "dilution of the message" is one that intrigues me. When I have spoken to members, they have suggested that the current approach is the right one and the previous approach was wrong - that the behaviour is now less exclusive and insular, and that is better. I don't know whether it is or not, but I think it is interesting that you see this as a dilution of the message, while other seem to see it as a correction of an inappropriate message. I am not really sure whether one is better or worse than the other, but I do think there is perhaps a bit of confusion about these things. Even things as simple as whether women have to wear hats seems to be a point of controversy, as women wearing hats was Mr Black's key argument for allowing them to preach. Do you know if SMC now think they got this wrong in the past?
That is the kind of practical issue that reinforces their message that they are perfect. They will admit to a theoretical ability to fail, but they will never actually say, "we got that wrong" on any specific issue. They would rather take a Trump approach - anyone who criticises them will in turn be criticised twice as much. As the policy on hat-wearing has changed, should they not issue a correction to the doctrine included in Mr Black's books? If you read the books (still available in the SMC bookshops) you will see that current practice does not reflect the position outlined in Mr Black's books. If as you suggest, the leaders know they are not perfect, they simply have to admit that one or the other is wrong - either Mr Black was wrong at the time, or the current practice is wrong. They will not do this however, as they cannot bring themselves to admit they are not perfect. That is exactly the kind of religious arrogance that Jesus spoke strongly against.
The best example of this arrogance is of course the lack of any action in response to the hurt expressed in this forum. As you correctly point out, there will be speculation about who some of the posters are. Some may be quite difficult to identify, but others will be quite easy, and some have quite clearly identified themselves. In spite of that, no-one in SMC has taken any action to approach these people to apologise, see what they can do to help, or even say - "look, I am human and sometimes make mistakes - I was doing my best, but sorry if some of my actions caused hurt". Any person who believed they were capable of making a mistake would do that, but the leaders of SMC cannot bring themselves to truly believe they have ever made a mistake, so sit in their ivory tower doing the Trump thing of "doubling down" on any criticism, and equating honest questions and personal pain with criticising God.