Genez stated: My intent was to take some of the reasons given to make RBT ministries out to be a cult, and to show it has nothing to do with what a cult really does. If anything. Its teachings are a reversal of what cults do.
Well Genez here are some of the reasons, "show us it has nothing to do with what a cult really does". (I have more)
Per Dr. Wall's dissertation:
Finally, his differentiation between the "message" and the "man" is not completely a biblical view. It is true that honoring the teacher is not appropriate. However, God desires that the vessel he uses to communicate his message be one that does not detract from the message. [b:b6ad3604d7]The argument that the life of the teacher is irrelevant is one also used by some cult leaders to excuse their life styles.[/b:b6ad3604d7]However, James warns that teachers are to be judged more strictly than others (James 3: 1), and Paul demands high standards for the elders of the church (I Tim.3; Titus 1). Both Samuel (I Sam. 12) and Paul (I Thes. 2:1-12) were careful not to let their lives hinder the impact or proper understanding of their message.
In addition, it should also be observed that Thieme's statements concerning the "mastering of the details of life" disregard the biblical approach to one's priorities. [b:b6ad3604d7]Thieme makes family and friends secondary to Bible doctrine. This is an extremely dangerous approach (as illustrated in the cults such as the Children of God who define commitment to God in terms of commitment to their leaders' teachings, and then place the group above family and other relationships).[/b:b6ad3604d7]A healthy set of priorities should place one's personal relationship with God first (Lk. 14:26), family second (I Pet. 3:1-7; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Tim. 5:8; and John 15:13), and one's relationship to a teacher and his doctrine at a much lower level of priority (3 John 9, 10).
[b:b6ad3604d7]Seventh, an extensive emphasis on the doctrine of right pastor can produce a fear of leaving a local church. If Bible doctrine is defined in terms of that which one's pastor-teacher communicates, then leaving his authority, in the minds of many, is tantamount to leaving God or moving into reversionism. This is similar to the emotional slavery developed by the authoritative leaders of some of the newer, false cults.[/b:b6ad3604d7]
Thieme's position, as we have noted, is basically a form of Baptist polity:
the autonomy of the local church and congregational government with one pastor leading the congregation. Although the major problems in Thieme's ecclesiology stem from an abuse of the biblical role of the elder (which will be discussed in the next section), it should be observed that there are exegetical weaknesses in Baptist polity. Such [b:b6ad3604d7]weaknesses open the way more readily for the errors and abuses of Thieme's doctrine of right pastor.[/b:b6ad3604d7]
Congregational government (Baptist polity) was a reaction against the
hierarchal system of the Roman Church and the state churches of the Reform movement but it retained the Roman mentality toward having a priest in a local church. The Scriptures, however, imply a form of church government similar to that of the synagogue -- a church's being ruled over by, not one, but by a group of elders. The biblical evidence for this view is extensive. First, the very passage that Thieme uses to support his position (Heb. 13:7, 17) refers to the leaders of the Hebrew Christians in the plural. This is consistent in both verses 7 and 17, as well as verse 24. Notice also that there is some question as to whether or not one can identify the people in verse 7 with those in verse 17. Verse 7 uses past tenses in the Greek and the term mnemoneuete means "to remember" or "to keep something in mind" that has occurred in the past. Probably the author has in mind the early leaders of the church who established the church by the teaching of the Word of God. The emphasis of verse 17 concerning the present leaders is that their primary ministry is one of ruling. All elders are to be "apt to teach," and all elders are to rule the flock, but the Hebrew Christians are reminded of the special teaching ministry of the founders of their church. Whether or not this interpretation is accepted, it must be admitted that Hebrews 13 refers to the leaders of
the church in the plural.5 This is consistent with the rest of Scripture.
According to Acts 20:28, compared with Acts 20:17, the elders
(presbuteroi) are the same as the overseers or bishops (episkopoi), and this group of men is exhorted by Paul to shepherd or pastor (poimainein) the flock of God. This position of pastoring overseer-elder is referred to in the plural both in verse 17 and in verse 28. When Paul addresses these men at Philippi, he refers to them in the plural (Phil. 1: 1). Only when referred to generically is this position ever referred to in the singular (I Tim. 3:1, 2). 7 Also it should be noted that the term pastor and the term teacher are used to refer to spiritual gifts in the body, not to a ruling office. In Ephesians 4:11, these two terms are linked very closely and probably refer to a combination gift held by certain people in the body of Christ. However, in the context of Ephesians 4 the subject is not church government, but spiritual gifts in the body of Christ (note verses 4, 8 and 16). It is conceivable that a church could have a number of gifted pastor-teachers, as well as gifted pastors and gifted teachers, and that these would minister both as authoritative elders (dependent upon their spiritual maturity) and as non-authoritative members of the body in person-toperson relations. [b:b6ad3604d7]One thing is clear, the Scriptures do not single out one person with a particular gift and set him over a local body as an absolute ruler. One other observation concerning autocratic pastor rule is in order.[/b:b6ad3604d7] [b:b6ad3604d7]Government, whether it is church or state, is made up of people, and people are sinners by nature. The structures which God establishes recognize this truth. A system of checks and balances is necessary to control the sin nature even in a Christian, since no Christian always operates on the basis of a spiritual mentality all the time. A plurality of elders with opportunity for congregational participation in major decisions lends itself more readily to the control of the sin nature.[/b:b6ad3604d7]
[b:b6ad3604d7]At the heart of Thieme's doctrine of right pastor is a questionable concept
of church government. However, even if Baptist polity is accepted, Thieme has added some elements to the Baptistic view of the pastor which are clearly contrary to the biblical pattern and which produce some dangerous spiritual byproducts[/b:b6ad3604d7]. We will examine Thieme's three basic distinctive concepts first; then we will list a series of dangerous implications of such a doctrine. Basic view. [b:b6ad3604d7]First, he has an unbalanced view of spiritual authority. Pastoral or elder leadership authority extends to the overseeing of the operation of church ministries, the maintenance of sound teaching in the local church and the protection of the believers' souls from false doctrine (I Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28, 29; Heb. 13:17). It clearly involves leadership by example, not by lording over or "bullying" the flock (I Pet. 4:3; Heb. 13:7). Thieme has added to these clear biblical directions. He claims that he must be the final source of doctrine for all
in his flock, and that the individual believer cannot study Scripture for himself. Not only does the Scripture not teach such a view of doctrinal learning, but it teaches the opposite. Spiritual growth, Paul says in Ephesians 4, involves two major ingredients that are contrary to the Thiemite doctrine: first, the gift of 11 Thieme, Establishment, pp. 55-57.
12 Sharon Farmer interview, 29 September 1977. 13 Interview with Alice Blickle, Houston, Texas, 13 October 1977. Mrs. Blickle further stated that
her sister proved to be 'more grace oriented" than she was, since her sister continued to show love to her. pastor-teacher is an equipping gift (verse 12, katartismon) designed to prepare all believers (the saints) for doing the job of ministering and edifying; second, maturing takes place as all the members of the body minister the truth of God to one another in love (verses 15, 16), not just one select, gifted person. Second, he confuses faith in biblical truth with a faith in a particular teacher (i.e. one's right pastor). At no time does Scripture exhort the believer to single out one particular teacher as his final doctrinal authority. On the contrary,
there is precedence for diversity of teachers. At Antioch the thriving, missionary church was ministered to by five prophets and teachers (Acts 13: 1). Ephesus had both the personal and epistolary ministries of both Paul and John, and also had the ministry of Apollos and of the elders of Ephesus (Acts 18:24-28; 20:17-35). In 3 John, the apostle condemns Diotrophes for attempting to lord it over the flock, forcing division between his followers and other teachers in the body of Christ. Thieme's right pastor doctrine could very well be called the "Diotrophes doctrine."
Third, he gives a false impression as to the believer's personal
responsibility relative to testing the reliability of teachers and relative to his own personal study. For Thieme, once one joins a church fellowship, he is to unquestioningly respond to the pastor's authoritative teaching and rely on this pastor to do his study for him. This contradicts the biblical example of the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11) and the clear exhortations to test the doctrine of teachers (I Cor. 12:1-3; 1 John 4:1-3; Gal. 1: 6-1 0). It also contradicts the intent of the gift of pastor-teacher. According to Ephesians 4, it along with the gift of evangelist and the temporary gifts of apostle and prophet were primarily given to the church to prepare or equip the saints to minister and edify the body of Christ. It would seem strange indeed to think of one's being equipped to minister as a self-sustaining, contributing unit in the body of Christ, and yet unable to be selfsustaining in his own personal study of Scripture.[/b:b6ad3604d7]Implications. The implications of Thieme's teaching in this area are farreaching. Although the concept of right pastor does produce an efficient church operation and simplifies the believer's learning process,14 the negative results of such a teaching far outweigh the advantages.
[b:b6ad3604d7]First, Thieme's approach produces division.[/b:b6ad3604d7] Thieme's commendable
attempts to discourage division by his teaching notwithstanding, division
continues to develop. If one wants the product of Thieme's intellectual research and "breakthroughs," he must soon adopt Thieme as his right pastor, even if he lives in another city. This frequently results in either an emotional or physical separation from a local body. In fact in many cases, Thieme encourages people to separate from other churches if their appetites for doctrinal teaching of Thieme's type is not being met. Following is an excerpt from a form letter also quoted in part above:
14 William O. Menefee to Joe L. Wall, 20 October 1977. Menefee is a successful Houston businessman who expresses a deep appreciation for Thieme's ministry to him. Formerly he served as the lay director for the Houston area Campus Crusade for Christ. 133 Therefore, if you find the teaching of that church incompatible with your norms and standards concerning Bible doctrine, then only you can make the decision whether or not to separate yourself. As long as you are oriented to Bible doctrine
and understand the significance of the ritual of baptism any pastorteacher
can baptize you. As far as communion is concerned, church membership is not necessary to partake of the Eucharist, although some churches do limit communion to their own membership. Therefore, you can take communion anywhere if it is available to you or it may be possible that you will find other believers who are also listening to tapes to join with you in this most significant memorial. These are functions which will be
provided for you by the Lord in His own time.15 To assist groups that separate from local churches to form tape groups Thieme, through his executive secretary, distributes information on how to establish a tapers' church: The following information constitutes suggestions for organizing a tape class. It must be understood, however, that in the final analysis, each group must form its own discipline. It is advisable to stabilize a group of believers who wish to gather together and hold Bible classes and formal church services. These meetings may be held in a school, a large home, a funeral chapel, or any other location available and suitable for this purpose.... If you decide to incorporate as a church, it will be
necessary for you to draw up a Charter within the requirements of your state. You will need three male officers to act as Chairman, Treasurer, and General Administrator for your church group. Enclosed is a Berachah Church doctrinal statement for your information.
Biblically, it is perfectly legitimate for the believer to obtain doctrinal teaching which is vital to his spiritual growth by means of a tape recorder.... 16 Taper churches are strange indeed in the context of Thieme's ecclesiology. [b:b6ad3604d7]By extending his right pastor authority through his tape methodology, he has not only produced division in various communities, but he has produced numerous situations that contradict his own ecclesiology: churches having no authoritative pastor-teacher on the scene to exercise discipline and oversight, but which seem to carry some of the traits of a [u:b6ad3604d7]denomination.[[/u:b6ad3604d7]/b]Second, a combination of Thieme's authoritative methodology and the
doctrine of right pastor produces both a mentality and an emotional response that makes it difficult for many students to relate to any other teacher. [/b:b6ad3604d7]One former student related how she was saved under Thieme's ministry and how valuable those first two years of studying under Thieme were (1961-63). She confided, however, "I had a hard time hearing anyone else" who was ministering the Word after we moved to Dallas.17 Another student, who had spent his entire life until age 18 under Thieme's ministry, stated, "When I went to Stephen F. Austin (College), I had a barrier and a rebellious attitude against any other teacher of the
Word." He further observed that his attitude had been "a result of the teaching and ecclesiological viewpoint taught by R. B. Thieme, Jr."18
[u:b6ad3604d7][b:b6ad3604d7]This extreme emphasis on authority can also result in an irresponsible
submissive attitude. [/b:b6ad3604d7][/u:b6ad3604d7]Although Thieme may not directly encourage such an
attitude, [b:b6ad3604d7]his doctrine of right pastor and his authoritative methodology does.[/b:b6ad3604d7] Denny Rydberg quotes a member of Berachah Church as stating, "if the Colonel told us to build a whore house on the back lot of the Church, we would do it without questioning."19
[b:b6ad3604d7]Third, this doctrine and its accompanying methodology can easily produce
a man-centered mentality. [/b:b6ad3604d7]The manager of a Christian radio station in Houston states that he has a number of friends who say that they can only be taught by Thieme. No one else can teach them anything. He goes on to relate that "one active member says that at the end of each age God raises up a prophet or spokesman, and he believes that Bob Thieme is the man for this age."20 Fourth, the doctrine of right pastor produces an unhealthy situation for a local body. If the local body is exposed only to one spiritual gift, and that in the life of one personality, there will tend to be a one-sided mentality developed in the lives of the people.
[b:b6ad3604d7]Fifth, there are problems related to the basic humanity of the pastor.
Every pastor-teacher is a sinner by nature.21 Furthermore, no pastor-teacher is perfect in his interpretation of Scripture. In view of the fact that the Scriptures indicate that an elder-pastor is to be an example to the flock (I Pet. 5:3), if a given flock is restricted to the authoritative teaching of one man in the body of Christ, there will be a large gap in the example lived before that particular flock. Also, Thieme's concept of authority discourages a critical evaluation of his teaching, so his students are not only limited by having only one pastoral example, but 17 Interview with Judy Montgomery, Houston, Texas, 23 September 1977. 18 Dean interview, 22 September 1977. 19 Rydberg, "Sieg Heil," p.24.
20 Interview with Peter Steigerwald, station manager, KHCB-FM radio, Houston, Texas, 23 September 1977.
21 For example, Thieme's personal prejudices against blacks (described as “melanoderms”) and Chicanos comes out dogmatically in his teaching. Note magnetic tape reproductions of messages preached at Berachah Church: "Philippians 4:4," 22 February 1976; "Genesis 14:10," 21
September 1976; "Genesis 15:5," 8 October 1976; "Genesis 15:6," 10 October 1976.
they must accept the errors which he teaches along with the truth without any functional means for discriminating between the two.[/b:b6ad3604d7] [b:b6ad3604d7]Sixth, as much as Thieme emphasizes the importance of growing spiritually, the [u:b6ad3604d7]application of the doctrine of right pastor actually has a retarding effect on growth[/u:b6ad3604d7][/b:b6ad3604d7]. With the dependency upon one's right pastor, one is moved a step beyond "milk," but he isn't taught how to carve the meat and to chew it up. [b:b6ad3604d7]Students of Thieme who consistently apply the doctrine of right pastor easily get hooked on a "bottle of strained meat," that is, doctrine that has gone through the [u:b6ad3604d7]Thieme grid[/u:b6ad3604d7].[/b:b6ad3604d7] [b:b6ad3604d7]The job of the pastor-teachers in the body is to prepare or equip the saints (Eph. 4:12). This means that the individual believer should be trained so that he can be self-sustaining both in the spiritual combat of life and in his ministry to the rest of the body. Thieme, on the other hand, discourages personal Bible study22 and ridicules anyone who attempts it unless he is a trained pastorteacher. 23[/b:b6ad3604d7][b:b6ad3604d7]Seventh, an extensive emphasis on the doctrine of right pastor can produce a fear of leaving a local church. If Bible doctrine is defined in terms of that which one's pastor-teacher communicates, then leaving his authority, in the minds of many, is tantamount to leaving God or moving into reversionism. This is similar to the emotional slavery developed by the authoritative leaders of some of the newer, [u:b6ad3604d7]false cults.[/[/u:b6ad3604d7]b]
Eighth, we have already noticed that this extreme view of the pastor can
result in a warped view of separation. Biblically, separation is not related to the issue of a pastor-teacher. Separation is for extreme immorality, a rebellious spirit, the causing of division in the body, and doctrinal heresy. Students of Thieme who break relationships with friends and/or family over the Thieme issue are totally out of line biblically.[/b:b6ad3604d7]24
[b:b6ad3604d7]Ninth, this concept of the pastor can produce a false sense of superiority in
a pastor-teacher. It can also engender an independence that hinders interaction with others in the body and that makes his own personal spiritual growth difficult in many areas[/b:b6ad3604d7].
[b:b6ad3604d7]Tenth, a harsh, authoritatively demanding pastor-teacher can produce
some unwanted results in some students such as a cold, overbearing, aggressive attitude, that leaves little room for differences of opinion. [/b:b6ad3604d7]25
22 R. B. Thieme, Jr., "Phil 3 via 11 Timothy 4:8 Doc/Surpassing Grace (SG3),” Philippians, magnetic tape reproduction of message preached at Berachah Church, Houston, Texas, 26
December 1975. He says that if you read the Bible, "you're not going to get anything out of it ...
you'd better come to Bible class . . . or listen to a tape." See also Thieme, Super-grace, p. 1.
23 Thieme, Tape of "Phil 3: 15b."
24 See the passages on separation: I Cor. 5; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Gal. 1; 2 Thess. 3:6-15.
25 Telephone interview with Randy Price, student, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, 23 September 1977. Mr. Price a long time Thieme taper himself, indicated further that, while incollege, he noticed that those students on a steady diet of Thieme tapes became more narrow and unaccepting of divergent points of view, and unwilling to discuss openly spiritual things with other believers. Those tapers who had a balanced diet of tapes, books and church services under other pastors, he observed, tended to be more balanced and to develop true spiritual qualities.