Some brilliant points made in the recent posts that really hit the nail on the head. I think the point about training and professional counselling is particularly relevant. Seems to me that the SMC leaders divide everything into two categories - things that have immediate observable outcomes and things that do not have outcomes that are easily observed.
Things in the first category include physical illness, a car breaking down or a roof that is leaking. In these cases, they recognise the importance of having someone who is trained and experienced in dealing with the problem. They do not quote many examples of simply praying over these sorts of issues. Of course they may pray as well, but they do recognise the benefits of “human learning” when an outcome is easily observable.
Things in the second category include advice about careers, relationships, stress, depression etc. In these cases, no human knowledge, experience or training is recognised. Leaders in SMC are not really allowed to undertake personal development in these areas. Seems to me this is because they think the outcomes cannot be as easily linked to their advice, so they can say what they like.
I do happen to believe that God speaks to us, but I also believe that he provides us with the opportunity to learn skills, whether roof-fixing skills or brain surgery. He also gives us the opportunity to develop things like leadership skills and counselling skills. Just as you do not normally ignore human learning when fixing a roof, you should not ignore it when developing leadership skills or counselling.
The thing is, the fact that it is hard to link some advice with outcomes is true in the short term, as you often do not know whether you have made a good career decision immediately - it may be years later that you realise it was a poor decision. Similarly, you will not know whether you are taking the right steps to manage depression within just a few days. These things do often become visible in the long term however, as people looking back over decades can see the impact of decisions about jobs, relationships, personal issues, mental health etc. When you apply that test to SMC, it is abundantly clear that the advice they give is a sham - advice about what job to take, what relationships to have how to spend time, how to manage mental health etc have NOT led to good outcomes. Many marriages have failed, lives have not managed things like stress and depression well, everyday decisions about friendships have led to isolation and despair, Christian commitment has not led to any serious attempt to address social justice (a key theme throughout the Bible) and, most important of all in the SMC hierarchy, the teaching and practice has not led to deep and effective spiritual life.
A quick review of the posts on this forum confirm all of that in spades, as do the lives of many of those still in the church. It simply is not a healthy organisation.
As others have said, that does not mean they are all bad people - many are kind and sincere, but they have been trapped in a world of make-believe rather than truly examining what they do in the light of the evidence. So, if you are still a member of SMC, why not try to develop some skills in these areas? There are good Christian materials and programmes available, as well as secular ones.
If anyone wants a starter for ten on leadership they could for example like some of the recent webinars at [www.essentialchristian.org
Seminar 6 in that series is quite interesting: an interview with Ian Coffey, an ordained Baptist Minister who has had responsibility like organising Spring Harvest and is now a Director of Leadership Training at a Christian College.
Webinar 5 is also worth a listen - a discussion with Elaine Duncan who is Chief Executive of the Scottish Bible Society.
Surely even the arrogance of the SMC leaders would not try to discredit people with that sort of experience so, if you are still involved in SMC, have a listen to these wise Christian leaders who have a lifetime of experience. Can you seriously make any sort of argument for not listening to things like this? You may not agree with all that is said, but you will benefit from listening.
I won’t quote extensively from these seminars, but do want to include just one line: “If Scripture completely agrees with us, the chances are we have domesticated it.”
That really resonated with me, as my experience over the years has been that scripture shocks and challenges me. I never saw that in SMC however, I always saw them picking the verses that fitted with their own experiences and perceptions - “domesticating” scripture is not a phrase I have come across before, but it seems to me that is exactly what they have done. As Mr Black would say - "If the shoe fits…"