I can't find any/many accounts of controlling cults that satisfy ALL of these 3 criteria:
1. An appearance of near civilised NORMALITY for CASUAL visitors and even to some congregation members after many years. Subtlety, careful choice of victim, gradual manipulation and horrific cruelty in private is a particular area of expertise at BCF/MCF.
2. A detailed, near-unique (unique?) theology that in fact BECOMES a theology of control. It was NOT: here's our teachings and, now we need to control you. It WAS: we need to control you and that's what the teachings are about! Vic created an entire exquisitely detailed theology about control that almost makes sense! Vic Hall has stated that he sought a mechanism to bring about perfection. He re-interpreted Scripture creating weird extreme teachings on Abraham & Sarah, headship, 'naming', elders as the face of Christ, 'sight', emptying, laying it down, laying it forward, suffering, moving from judgment to chastisement, slavehood, gospel of sonship, the seed, adoption, piercings in the house of your friends, the bowl of teachings from Zechariah, marriageability, imputation, 'the Rich Young Ruler', lampstand churches, don't steward your ministry, literal interpretations of the OT offerings for today etc etc all designed to bring people under control. Of course all these teachings were simply the harshest teachings of Christ mixed into one bowl and applied daily without love or wisdom or decency or mercy or justice and not by God but by men! These processes were never meant to be conducted by people. Towards the end I was able to predict Vic's next moves: just look for the next harsh word in Scripture and bastardize it.
3. An aim, at least under Vic Hall, that was NOT to gain sexual control (or even, I would argue, financial control, although it had that effect).
I know many of you suffered under the old system of Ray Snr and it had its fair share of nutty teachings. But at least most of them were not teachings about control and many were still solid, Scriptural, Pentecostal teachings with some potentially valid extensions re the Feast of Tabernacles for the end-times Christian era.
BUT what we experienced under Vic Hall for 25 years was 25 years of teachings ABOUT control! It was mind-numbingly boring and we had to apply it to our lives EVERY day and EVERY meeting and, for us men, submit ourselves to introspection and inspection once or twice a month in disgusting one on three sessions! We went to these sessions shaking in our boots and left crying with destroyed hopes and dreams regarding our roles in life, career, church and community. The ladies suffered at home under 'equipped' hubbies.
The perhaps secret agenda of control of Ray Snr was no longer secret! What loonies we were. And we thought it was the 'final move of God'.
My point is that there's a near-uniqueness about it despite similarities of methods etc. It felt mostly normal and friendly and only judgmental and controlling in secret after many years. And the teachings ended up only about control and that was it! And post-Ray Snr it wasn't sexual.
When I compare to friends that left harsh branches of eg Exclusive Brethren, there you find out about the controlling nuttiness on day one. And most of the teachings are normal Bible, just with a puritanical emphasis, no exquisite near-unique theology like Vic's. Other cultish, fallen charismatics and TV evangelists have preached all sorts of horrid distortions about prosperity, giving & their loftiness but it wasn't theology it was just charm and charisma and these did end up about financial or sexual gain. The most similar group to MCF/BCF is almost the crazy self-harming monks of the Da Vinci Code except there's no appearance of normality there.
And re-watching 'The Firm' had me squirming recently too, especially when Tom Cruise's wife gets told early on: 'The wife having a job isn't forbidden'. What do you mean 'isn't forbidden'? The implication and spookiness after all the kindness and lavish perks they were offered! (And of course they end up finding they are working for the mob and that everyone who's been there more than 5 years KNOWS! We lived that movie for 35 years without the perks.)
For us our discovery of the lengths the elders lied and manipulated and provoked and colluded when we tried to explain it to them was like discovering your mentor is the Emperor from Star Wars.
Even among some of the worst examples of the impact of the "Shepherding Movement", Vic has gone beyond them. If you can get hold of "Savage Shepherds" by Adam Harbison (has been available from Koorong) you'll see what I mean. Vic is far more subtle and insidious that Jim Jones or David Koresh, and representing the character of those deceivers who pose as wolves in Shepherd's clothing seeking to devour who they may (Mathew 7: 5).
Vic's theology of control is based on at least seven heresies, so knowing Vic's love of the symbolism of " 7 " it must be right!!!!'
You never know, perhaps Vic is really Melchizedek come amongst us????
I've recently loaned a great book 'Playing with Holy Fire' by Michael Brown, a wake up call to Pentecostals BY a still-Pentecostal:
https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/04/03/ ... ael-brown/
that puts down our (Pentecostal's) falling into control, presumption and sin to a mix of our desire to trust and believe + a lack of sticking to Scripture & scholarship + plain old being human. Nevertheless the wonders of Pentecostal moves - validated prophecy, healings, miracles & huge numbers of salvations - are accounted positively as well.
I can still remember the day that Vic Hall started preaching weird stuff (around headship) that seemed to be twisting the Scriptures and he would come back and point out how Jesus' interpretations of the OT often seemed a stretch and how we need to trust the 'proclaimed' word of 'present truth'. Warning bells did sound. 25 years later . .
Does that mean that we can't trust any 'new-ish' word that's not crystal clear in the Bible? As we perhaps move into the end days and the Book Of Revelation unfolds? The Book of Revelation is certainly not 'crystal clear' but must surely be a key to living in the ultimate last days. How then? And we can't trust miracles because of lying wonders.
Are we left with judging by their fruits and more carefully checking up their word? That's fine I guess. But it takes time.
Of course any 'new' word should not violate the gospel as Vic's stuff really did. In my leaving MCF I pointed out to them the numerous ways it violated New Testament teachings on love and justice and liberty and the way of life described in Acts.
Obviously the key to not falling for a false move in these last days is that it WILL NOT change the fundamentals. Yes, Luther changed some fundamental in the Reformation but Scripture was clear that the church had been way, way off target.
Here Vic was telling us that all the other churches were preaching a false gospel and the real gospel is PRIMARILY a gospel of headship!! That's simply not Biblically justifiable but we fell for it. The fundamentals will always be that Jesus died for us and we can be redeemed by His blood by trusting in Him as our Redeemer.
your first post above really focuses in on the issues. From my time at BCF I can only agree with your analysis. EVERYTHING that Vic Hall preaches and disseminates is totally focused on control in every aspect in a persons life. From what I can understand, this manipulation has not relented but is getting worse if anything.
"BUT what we experienced under Vic Hall for 25 years was 25 years of teachings ABOUT control! It was mind-numbingly boring and we had to apply it to our lives EVERY day and EVERY meeting and, for us men, submit ourselves to introspection and inspection once or twice a month in disgusting one on three sessions! We went to these sessions shaking in our boots and left crying with destroyed hopes and dreams regarding our roles in life, career, church and community. The ladies suffered at home under 'equipped' hubbies."
When I talk to people who are still in the CF, all I hear about is the topic of suffering. There is rejoicing in Christ or his Life or His Redemption - the only talk I hear is just purely about suffering and submitting to Elders. All this focus on "suffering" merely brings more genuine suffering and pressure to families.
The number of areas where activities actually practiced within the CF are completely contrary to biblical teachings are numerous.
Take the issue of tithing/giving as a good example.
What actually happens.
What is actually practiced within the CF for tithing/giving is that the givers (particularly as you move up the food chain) are required to tell their local elders exactly how much they will/have offered.
What the bible tells us to do.
Matt 6:1-3 "When you give to the poor, don't let anyone know about it" read v1-2 as well (not that the CF branches actively give to the poor anyway so it is a moot point!).
See the complete contradiction between what the bible says to do and what the CF demands you do? We can then conclude by looking at what the CF actually do, that they have wrong teachings.
This basic analysis can be carried out on lots of CF activities. Where-ever the CF teaching and activities differ from what is in the scriptures then we can easily see the wrong teaching.
Another example is the issue of respecting parents.
The bible commands children to be respectful of their parents.
However, we hear and see reports too numerous to mention, that the CF elders regularly sit down to counselling session with teens and young adults and then the elders proceed to tear down the parents to the child/in front of the child and point out all the faults (either real or imagined). Of course the objective of the CF elders here is to split the child away from the parents and bring the child under direct elder control. To do this, the elders disrespect the parents.
Can people see how the direct actions of the CF leadership are in contradiction to bible teachings? Conclusion: CF leadership have false teachings in this matter.
God wants us to have direct a personal relationship with Him. There is no middle man (pope/CF elder). I would encourage people to read the bible and pray and it will be self evident. God's Word is true and doesn't change. God wants to set us free, not brings us back under bondage. Ask God to take the scales off our eyes.
So, if we are part of His body we will suffer in the same sense (but rarely extent) as Christ did.Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my flesh WHAT IS LACKING in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, which is the church.
But of course at MCF/BCF your path of suffering was largely chosen by the elders 'nos'. We were told we had to hear the 'no' of CHrist before the 'yes'. But after 35 years I told them, 'I'm 49 now, when is there a yes'?
We realised we had been humoured and taken for a ride by quite selfish and nasty idiots for 35 years. I can't say it nicer than that. They would have let us rot into nothingness and not have batted an eyelid at the cruel waste of identity and energy and opportunity. It meant nothing to them. They would always make the harshest decision unless it was an elder's kid.
Because 'self-naming' was the worst (or at least most common) sin you could commit at MCF, you could never express what you really wanted to do. Having goals was anathema at MCF (remember my elder once said to his henchman while I was at their feet crying: 'That's a man with blocked goals'). So it ALL got lost! Everyone at MCF is crying deep inside at horrific loses (or finding sneaky ways to accomplish their goals) but they wont admit it. It's not as if we are crying just because we can't achieve our goals. Much of the loss is not even being able to TRY. Having even unrealistic goals is not pointless: we may get part of the way and likely be happy with that and the journey itself. Not EVEN being able to try is a form of death.
I stand by my premise: MCF/BCF is the cruellest and most Biblically convoluted non-sexual cult despite having some sense of normality when you walk in the door.
It is a death camp. Unless you are EXACTLY what they want you will die a slow, pointless death of nothingness your entire life. All determined on the whims of a bunch of nuts.
Thanks for raising this, and thanks for being very articulate about the practices of this cultish collective.
I believe you are correct in observing that it wasn’t necessarily sex or money being pursued, at least directly. But certainly empirical evidence points to power or control being a key element. The use of shaming and exploiting human frailty was a ‘house special’. And has been observed, on the back of Bro’s legacy of teaching and building the empire, BCF inherited the family estate and went on to build and mould it in the likeness of the cousin in the north (rather than it going to the living son and namesake of the disgraced father for example).
My take-out from the preacher-in-charge up north in Brisvegas when listening to him razzing up the crowd on a(nother) balmy night out at Enogerra (prior to inheritance) was of his profound disappointment at having to hold the fort while others did the work with the pointy sticks. His (almost) bitterness at having to ‘obey’ is testament to his frequent appearance of looking like a bulldog chewing on a wasp. Imagine his silver lining at seeing Bro being disgraced, there would have been whooping and hollering redneck style the likes of which would have been surpassed only by Hall’s Henchmen who now salivated at the idea that they were now in the big show.
Like begets like. So those who were already formed in the likeness of the big man, and those who were prepared to twist into his shape, naturally went about the business of ill-informed invasive control over peoples’ lives. Empirical evidence shows that those obedient to this regime would even abandon their own families to demonstrate their faith.
So, the message here is, Swampman’s personality was that of obedience and suffering, or at least the appearance of it. And so that was the prism through which life would be viewed. Life is pain and disappointment. Life is suffering. Life is obedience. And by golly, many thousands of hours went in to assuring the flock that there was only one road, Hall Highway. Get up to speed or get off. Even when that highway dwindled down to a goat track which ironically led to the festering sulphurous stench of a swamp, the message of obedience at all costs was pummeled home. A few executions in the street were all that was needed to keep the peasants from revolting. Stockholm syndrome took hold and everyone declared the goat track to be the stairway to heaven.
Regardless of what the shape of a cult or a cult leader is, the outcomes are eerily similar, people obey, people trust, people do what they believe is right. Perhaps it’s only looking at things in retrospect can people discover if their trust was well placed or not. It’s worth noting that a strong dynamic of things like BCF and MCF etc is that the system is set up to be binary, that is to say, you are in, or you are out. And if you’re in, you must comply. And the threat of eternal damnation is a powerful one.
As you point out, these guys gradually accepted the bizarre as normal and took on those traits themselves. Most of us plebs didn't get to see the full horror of it unless we were an extreme victim or got elevated up the chain. But that's the point, these guys got to see how much manipulation was required to make it work. To make that sort of control work requires manipulation. That's why they are highly culpable: they saw it and did it.
Honestly, for me, I was simply trying to live the Book of Acts. Pure and simple. No other agenda.
I got disappointed VERY early (like day one) but somehow accepted that we need to accept 'apparent' hypocrisy and 'apparent' partiality and 'apparent' inconsistency with the Word. The problem is that these weren't 'apparent' or out of the ordinary. They were systematic abuses and signatures of the move.
Paul your observations are spot on. Bagel, you had me chuckling with laughter at your turn of phrase, particularly the part where you said
"A few executions in the street were all that was needed to keep the peasants from revolting. Stockholm syndrome took hold and everyone declared the goat track to be the stairway to heaven".
This is so so true! And whats more it fits the mental profile of a true tyrant! All great dictators do it!
Vic would not have even blinked when he backstabbed Graham Harry, Steve Hall, Murray Wylie and David Falk! Just like Hitler, Stalin and Kim Jong Un, disposing of a few possible competitors, or not even competitors. A few public sacrifices were required to keep the plebs toeing the party line. I'll wager that Vic probably spent many nights in his study thinking up ways to get rid of the people who irritated him and probably had a wry smile when it all went down. Just like the wry smile that Vic would have had when Ray Jackson Snr fell from grace.
Bagel, you made me think with your comments about the festering sulphurous stench of the swamp. What is it about the Queensland CF branches. The Vicious Halls here in Brisbane chose a festering swamp (and it was indeed festering and a breeding ground of mosquitos), Der Falkster up there in Toowoomba chose the location of TCF/The Chapel in the Fields, immediately over the road from the town sewerage works with the fragrant smells being so thick some days you could cut the air with a knife.
What presence of mind, what thought processes and what spiritual inspiration drive both The Vicious Hall and Der Falkster to pick a fetid swamp and an equally foul sewerage works as immediate neighbours and regular meeting place for their cult meetings????? I defy you to find any other stream of Christian and non-christian religious organisations who would have made such choices!
One simple answer here - Brisbane picked that land at Swampford because it was CHEAP (at the time). I recall that Vic had poor old Sam Baird traipsing all over Brisbane for months looking for a suitable piece of property, and when Samford came along, it was all systems go. It was an overgrown, derelict piece of land (with a SWAMP in the middle) which nobody else wanted. Vic had several meetings with the local council over what use the church might use the land for. Some locals in Samford protested over the church's aquisition of the land because they believed there was some rare frog species living in the swamp.
What presence of mind, what thought processes and what spiritual inspiration drive both The Vicious Hall and Der Falkster to pick a fetid swamp and an equally foul sewerage works as immediate neighbours and regular meeting place for their cult meetings?????
Little did they know they were getting a RARER species moving in...
It was later joined by another Swamp Dweller who also had a long nose like Pinnochio !!
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