While I did not attend the church in Texas, I did attend one as a child that elevated Thieme to sainthood as it was pastored by a disciple of Thieme. There was always a table full of booklets by Thieme free for the taking and the scructure of the church was modeled after Berachah. The pastor of my church was also a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.
While I do not have direct experience with Thieme; my experience may be relevant to your question.
As teenager I spent about 8 hours per week in Bible Study and like Thieme, my pastor taught from the original languages so I became somewhat literate in Biblical Hebrew and especially in Koine Greek. The congregation was free to come and go as they saw fit although there was some social pressure to attend as many Bible Studies as possible. My childhood church had some of the characteristics of a cult, but lacked the majority of cultish behaviors that would catergorize it as a cult. If anything, I was innoculated against cults because of the teaching I was exposed to. Doctrine from the Bible was emphasized over personal spiritual experience. This is in my mind a mechanistic approach to spirituality. That is, spiritual enlightenment is based upon knowledge of the Scriptures.
There was a great deal of taping of the sermons, so much so that a special room was dedicated to the tape recorders and after the services were over, anyone could retrieve their tape for later listening or distribution to anyone wanting one. Copies could be made from the archived sermons and sent anywhere for the cost of postage and the blank tape. No additional charges were made for handling etc
To my Pastors credit he left the church when it began to look more like a cult than he would have wanted it to be. There were quite a few people that seemed to want him to become more than what he wished to be and he took the honorable route and took another position elsewhere. He also never pressured anyone to give to the church and the offering was not part of the service. No plates were passed during the services. Donation boxes were locked near the entrances to the building and giving was not to be advertised. In short, I do believe that he trusted that God would provide for his every need.
I do revere the man for many reasons but perhaps the biggest was that he did not suffer from the lust for money or power. He did have his shortcomings, but all in all he was what I would call a decent human being. Perhaps his one concession to material wealth was that he drove an Oldsmobile rather than a Chevy. :shock: He did get by on what was a pitiful amount of money as he had 4 children to raise and while I don’t think they wanted for food and shelter, they did not live anything near an extravagant lifestyle. (I believe he got by on around 15k per year although his housing was paid for by the church. This was during the 70s and with 4 kids…well you do the math)
From what I understand about Thieme, he did not have some of the virtues I have written about my childhood pastor. Berachah does appear to have had many of the earmarks of a cult. I do know that Thieme was unable to maintain a sinless existence…of this I will not speak since I was taught that gossip is something I should refrain from whenever possible. A Google search for yourself should produce any dirt you wish to find. Berachah has an overly large and “dedicated” congregation, I also suspect that a great deal of profitable sales were made from tapes and booklets. I also believe that he has a great deal of influence on the U.S. military as a lot of men move from the church and become officers.
Currently R.B.Thieme suffers from Alzheimers and has retired from the ministry.
You can find out about many of the churches he has influenced by following the link:
I will post more opinions as they come to mind as this man has had a great deal of indirect influence on my life.