First of all, I would like to apologize to truthseeky for picking such a similar user name. I did not see your username on the postings until after I had already requested truthseek. I asked to change my username as soon as I saw yours but apparently that is not allowed.
I was thinking recently of my time at Berachah church and out of curiosity I looked on the web to see if anyone had any similar experiences to mine. When I found this website I was amazed to see how many people felt the same way as I did about Theme's teachings.
Some of my family is still listening to Thieme’s tapes and are very affected by his teachings. I am at a loss at how to deal with this. If anyone can help me with this I would be most grateful.
I grew up in Berachah Church. We went M-F and twice on Sunday. Sometimes we went to a Saturday movie that Thieme sometimes showed at his church. As a child I accepted every single word Thieme spoke as truth. My family idolized him and modeled their parenting on his personality and teachings. If anyone disagreed with Thieme I was outraged and would condescendingly correct the person and attempt to lead them to Thieme’s teaching.
My family had many problems and fought constantly. I had seen therapists before and had discussed my family’s behavior but no therapist ever could figure out where the problems were coming from.
However, when I read the email that Truthtesty wrote [forum.culteducation.com
] concerning Berachah’s cult characteristics and the effect that the mind control techniques used by Thieme has on the personality I was shocked. The complete disintegration and submission of personality mirrored the situation in my family exactly. Truthtesty’s description of people in the church who take on Thieme’s personality after he has broken down theirs shocked me. I just sat their staring at the email thinking “how did you know, how did you know?” For the first time in my life I understood what had been happening to my family.
I began to think back to my experiences at Berachah. I remember once that a family friend went to Thieme’s office before the service to ask a question on a point of doctrine from the previous sermon. Thieme had aggressively trashed my friend so badly that he was too traumatized to ever tell us exactly what had been said to him or what he had asked. My parents were shocked but they seemed to view it as – great men are allowed their eccentricities. Another time, a woman stood up in church and called Thieme a false prophet. The entire congregation had laughed in unison. Theme had then ordered the police in uniform stationed at every door to remove her from the church. If a person ever got up and left during the sermon Thieme would order the police to stop that person and find out why they were leaving.
Once when one of my family was told about a suicide at the church they remarked that there had been a lot of suicides at the church. I didn’t ask what was meant by this so I never knew who the other suicides were. A few of the children from families that I knew had learning, emotional, and social problems that were remarkably similar.
Thieme made many derogatory comments about other churches. The only church that taught the truth according to Thieme was Berachah. Thieme also made a number of racist comments about black people. He seemed to stop about the time a black couple started attending the church. Thieme said many horrible things about other people.
Throughout my childhood I tried obsessively to believe what Thieme taught largely to please my parents and gain their approval. I also believed that I would be cut off from God if I did not accept his teachings. I confessed my sins constantly. I had a feeling of panic all the time that I may have missed a sin. Then I became afraid that I had not confessed with the correct format and this would cause God to reject me. I could not remember whether I was supposed to pray to Jesus or God the father and which one was I meant to say amen to. It was many years before I realized that all members of the trinity must have heard me since they were all one being.
One thing I could not figure out was why God gave you peace, happiness, joy and love that did not feel like peace, happiness, joy and love. I could not understand what God actually did for people. Everyone I knew was cold, unloving, afraid, and depressed a lot of the time. I could not work out how the feeling of peace that church members talked about looked the same as anxiety and why people seemed depressed while they said they were in a state of joyful happiness and why were so many of the families around me did not get along while they claimed to be experiencing a feeling of brotherly love. I could not understand where the forgiveness and tolerance that Thieme would sometimes mention actually fit in to his teachings. Most of all, I wondered what the love was that I kept hearing about when I read the bible. I listened to Thieme’s tapes at home running the same sections over and over trying to force the belief to come. I felt a horrible feeling of desperation and guilt when I did this.
Eventually I admitted to myself that I did not believe most of the teachings about God that I had grown up with. It occurred to me that perhaps I was not the problem but that there was something wrong with Christianity. I reasoned that if God was so uptight, judgemental, intolerant and oppressive how exactly was spending an eternity with Him heaven? So I told God to drop dead with a few paragraphs of colourful language and cut myself off from anyone who mentioned God.
So I commenced on a life of “scar tissue of the soul and reversionism”. I did not confess one sin for many years simply because I actually forgot about the rebound process. But I did not die the “sin unto death”. It seems that although I had turned my back on God He had not left me.
In time I began to experience a desire to find the TRUTH. I developed a voracious hunger for it. I devoured every single piece of knowledge on God I could find regardless of what it was. I read cases against the existence of Jesus and cases for the existence of Jesus. I read writings from every spiritual belief system I could find including things that I had been taught would result in an eternity in hell. Slowly I discovered a God who came to me with embracing acceptance and patience without end. A God who did not judge me, restrict me, or leave me for not doing thing “perfectly”. I now realize that during my time at Berachah I had confused God with Bob Thieme.
If there is one thing I can see now as I look at Thieme’s teachings from a distance is that he removed love from his ministry. Since God describes himself as “God is love” over and over in the bible, Thieme has taken God out of his ministry. I can tell you from the personal experience of knowing Jesus “God is love”. The personal, emotional, heartfelt kind of love, not the in your head, anthropomorphism, we are the target of God’s justice kind of love taught by Theme. Also, another thing that stands out in my memory of Thieme’s teaching is the double talk he always used. He would teach 2 opposing views on many issues. One example is that he would encourage people to leave the church if they did not agree with his teachings. Then Theme would teach that anyone who leaves his church was in reversionism. This was his special term for being cut off from God and in a state of spiritual decline. Thieme would also teach about “turning the other cheek” while applauding the use of the atomic bomb on Japan in WWII. This habit of giving 2 opposite beliefs on so many issues confused me as a child. Also, I see that when Thieme’s teachings are challenged Thiemites often use the fact that Thieme has also taught the opposite view to defend Thieme.
Some of my family is still listen to Thieme’s tapes. I am at a loss at how to deal with this. If anyone can help me with this I would be most grateful.