Gnosticism is defined as "a variety of second-century AD religions whose participants believed that people could only be save through a revealed knowledge. Gnostics held a negative view of the physical or material world. Early church fathers, such as Irenaeus, deemed Gnosticism heretical"
Firsthand experience and history clearly show that the wrong teachings of gnostisism is exactly what RFI/CF continue to do to this day. How many times have we been told by Vic Hall, CF elders and other leaders that what they teach is a special "revealed knowledge" and "we have a special word that no other church has" and "present word". This is backed up with intentionally controlling statements such as "people who leave the Christian Fellowship will lose their salvation".
Firsthand experience and history also tell us that the teachings of RFI are very changeable over the years. The focus is changeable. Of this is because the very foundations of RFI are not solid. The Word of God is unchangeable but the teachings of RFI change with Vic's mood.
The fact that Vic Hall would chose to focus on "present word" rather than the miracle of Eternal Life in Christ thru believing in the Resurrection is proof in fact that the RFI teachings are heretical.
Of course, it is very convenient, not to mention hypocritical, that Vic Hall would chose to teach a negative view of the physical or material world while he and his family live life high on the hog whilst a lot of the dedicated congregation members live in virtual poverty, struggle to pay bills whilst constantly being urged to give all to the church.
Just in case any readers were unaware, Vic Hall and the majority of RFI leaders have had absolutely no formal biblical education studies. They are self-appointed. As far as I know, Ian Barlow is the only surviving elder who may have formal biblical education but his actions show that he has chosen to stray from the taught path and come under the influence of the Vicster.
Of course, this isolation and lack of contact with the outside world is intentional and encouraged by Vic Hall because it supports his power base. As soon as any of Vic Halls teachings are examined by educated outside ministers, most of his teachings are exposed as rambling nonsense and at times heretical. It is to Vic Halls advantage to foster the isolation and the "Us vs Them" siege mentality because it makes him look like a mystical hero with great knowledge in the eyes of the congregation and consolidates his power.
Another deliberate ploy of Vic Hall is to push the teaching on "Gods Administration" and that the RFI elders are gods administration here on earth. They also push the very Roman Catholic/Exclusive Brethren teaching that when the RFI elders speak, it is actually God directly speaking to the congregation. This false teaching is also designed to increase and maintain Vicsters power base. The whole of Vic Halls focus is about control and power, pure and simple. It most certainly is not about teaching the Word of God/Salvation of Christ.
In summary BCF/RFI has taken the focus off the miracle eternal life thru the death and resurrection of Christ and the Great Commission and instead turned their focus on introspection, unhealthy group behaviours, group think and serving their skewed teachings of gods administration and administrators.
This writing might seem to be very critical of Vic Hall and the RFI elders, and it is. But my main purpose is to turn people back to worshiping God thru Christ and not worshipping men.
Thanks, good words.
It’s interesting that one can avoid scrutiny by a wave of the hand and subtle obfuscation. The declaration of ‘spirit led’ is powerful, it creates a sense of exclusivity, it frames things such as formal scholarship as dead works. It gives a blue sky framework to the whole concept of salvation, one which can be manipulated. Dangerous ground.
The exclusivity of ‘what would those ungodly people know’ as a premise, is part of the grip that cults have on those that are too scared to leave. It sets up a structure that defies people to question how special and privileged they are being in the presence and oversight of god’s very own ‘special’ or ‘chosen’ messenger. It’s a no-win position for those who are humble and seek direction from god’s word, they submit and believe.
Unfortunately many have to experience ‘fear and trembling’ before they can break free of this sad situation. And sometimes at great, great cost.
I can’t ever remember any real/actual biblical teaching on how salvation became so complex and convoluted. I thought the original individuals involved were pretty clear on how simply it worked.
And I have to ask this question, if you want someone to become a slave, aren’t you just diminishing their validity? Wouldn’t their belief now be diluted? I’d rather a king gratefully bowed to me than a peasant (being compelled).
Your observation about exclusivity framing formal scholarship as dead works is very very true. I remember hearing numerous BCF leaders and also business people opening mocking formal theological training and seminaries as "cemeteries", thus discounting any and all teaching that theologians might teach.
Of course it could be argued that theological seminaries are sometimes their own worst enemies by diluting and straying from biblical teachings at the more liberal "progressive" theological colleges during the 1970's and 1980's and this certainly fuelled the comments by the BCF leadership. However I would think that there are some very dedicated theological institutions whose focus is solely on teaching the word of god properly.
Getting back to the BCF culture - they have completely thrown out and cut themselves off from formal and historical biblical and theological scholarship of any form. Because they have cut themselves off, they have also cut themselves off from allowing any learned biblical teachers to speak into their teachings and bring correction when errors are obviously being taught. This isolation and exclusivity has allowed a misguided and theological uneducated man like Vic Hall to flourish and cast his controlling influence over many misguided and unwitting victims. The continued isolation has also allowed dreadful heresies to creep into and become a central part of Vic Halls and BCF teachings. BCF operates in an isolated echo chamber where they only hear their own voices and are completely cutoff from other christian churches and teachings.
An example of the outcome of this isolation is that BCF shuns and ignores the teachings of early church fathers and patriarchs. This attitude has infested itself into BCF teachings and culture where teens and young adults are deliberate turned against parents by BCF elders (even those parents in CF) and BCF also promotes shunning whereby family and children within BCF are encouraged to cutoff and completely shun relatives who have left BCF. Consequently BCF continues to break one of the ten commandments in the most basic way "honour thy mother and thy father".
Another negative of the continued BCF isolation is to allow unhealthy cult group behaviours to flourish and grow. BCF leadership does not allow any external person or body to speak into them and point out their unhealthy group behaviours. This situation is ironic considering the BCF leaders expound the teaching that all CF congregation members allow CF elders to speak into their lives!!!!
If any current Christian Fellowship attendees are reading this and are asking for proof, I would ask you this question. If a group of people has been the subject of a Four Corners investigation, been investigated by the Courier Mail and been featured on A Current Affair more than once, what can you deduce from this? What type of groups get investigated like this? (personally I don't have a great deal of time for ACA generally) But when the investigations happen in lots of different media outlets over an extended period of time then perhaps the old saying holds true "where there is smoke there is fire".
In our last 5 years at MCF (2012-2016) we were taught that we were a 'remnant group' and would be persecuted and never popular until the 'great ingathering'. They used that to explain our appearances in these investigative pieces and our dwindling numbers.
So it was further indoctrination that we are the only ones and that was why we were feeling the heat.
What were we thinking?
I personally thought (and said to many with little response) that those investigative reports were more than 50% correct and we deserved it.
We stayed at MCF (until 2016) because we were prepared to forgive 'imperfection'.
But I always hated the caginess and non-comment of the elders and non-explanation of anything to us plebs.
We were indoctrinated to accept that us plebs didn't need to know any of that.
But I hated it and asked God why many times.
Why we couldn't help. Why can't we help Lord? What's wrong with us?
Of course the truth of the matter is they were of the rails and God saw fit to leave us in there until we saw it.
And there were many good teachings there as well.
But mostly looney or fallen leaders.
Why do I say 'looney' or fallen ? Because they knew more than us plebs and kept accepting total garbage.
Even my lovely home group leader Rick Seltman kept accepting garbage (in the elders' behaviour and 'forgetfulness') from those above him.
Thank you Paul - do understand what you are saying here. I personally think that BCF teachings can cause some people to become "puffed up" with their own delusional thinking, about their own "self importance" in the whole scheme of things happening around them. Also, if anyone was singled out by the elders, seemingly to have 'leadership qualities', then they were treated with 'kid gloves'; given special privledges by eldership, so they were reluctant to give that all away.Why do I say 'looney' or fallen ? Because they knew more than us plebs and kept accepting total garbage.
Was only after I left (and quite some years later) that I began to see why this culture was fostered.
Vic would single out those whom he deemed 'worthy of leadership', because he could see that they were especially able to be manipulated or convinced them that he was 'special' to them. I would scratch my head, wondering why a particular person was given 'leadership', when I could not see one iota of leadership qualities in that person.
It had nothing to do with 'God's will', and everything to do with Vic Hall surrounding himself with 'Yes Men'.
"It had nothing to do with 'God's will', and everything to do with Vic Hall surrounding himself with 'Yes Men'"
that's really key . .
We beat our selves up so much because no matter how much we wanted to help it was impossible to 'get picked'! And we really weren't trying to be anything special. Just wanted to help!
Scene is an Adelaide Churches of Christ Sunday service. Visiting preacher suddenly switched to promoting Zionism.
The (visiting) preacher was Mrs Hammersmith, presenting the first episode of her series, and I was accosted in the foyer by a member of the congregation who approached me wearing a big smile, saying "Was that great? Or was that great?" or something similar.
It would have been fine if it had stopped there, but in my attempting to explain that while I was interested in the preamble, I suddenly realised the totally changed history being presented was part of the Zionist agenda but I was shouted down by this person, (who was someone important in the leadership hierarchy of the church).
I tried to explain, quietly, that the speaker had continually rewritten historical facts (known to many including me and my family because of military involvement in the region) concerning the establishment of the the new nation known since 1948 as Israel on land the United Nations had taken by force, many being existing occupants since 71AD, and dispossessing them.
Let me post from pages I wrote and published perhaps five or six years ago (as I'm now midway between 83 and 84!) about another variety of Gnostism.
Having been part of an active management team since 1997 on an IRC chat channel run by "real" evangelicals in the true meaning of the word, we continually promoted the admonition about gospel topics set in stone - "In all things essential (ie salvation), UNITY". "In all things non-essential (for example Zionism), DIVERSITY".
We must NEVER make an "-ism" necessary to accept in order to be acceptable ourselves. That is how I may disagree quite correctly with some stuff they publish.
Interesting, maybe, but someone else's personal ideas do not make me disobedient to a guru's gnostic directives. Nor do they make you disobedient either.
However after an interview that ran from 2pm to 6.45pm later, every attempt was made to coerce me into submitting to their "greater knowledge".
Hello! That is Gnostism as well, isn't it?
It is generally accepted by people who have studied Zionism with an open mind (do a google search) that Christian Zionism has a link to Jewish Zionism (for which the Jewish Zionists - while having little respect for Jesus Christ - are very grateful for pressure being brought to bear by an increasing number of Christians OUTSIDE OF THE MIDDLE EAST to support their ambitions - to provide both a moral and financial support for Jewish Zionism - with "political clout" in (initially just American) government lobby groups, although it seems few "religious" Jews have much truck with the movement.
One would think that if Jews were serious, they would all be in the Holy Land ensuring Hertzel's home-land ownership ideas were supported by them. But they aren't, are they?
Nor were they when Cyrus the Great allowed three waves of Jewish slaves in Babylon to return "home", were they? Something that Nehemiah and others found to their cost. --- copied from my page at www.marlene.hammersmith.southaust.net/
This is why, of course, that there were many Jews in Iraq at the outbreak of the first Gulf War, after all.
As for feeling special, Robocop ... Oh yes, special we were. Not. What a bunch of arrogant people we were. I still get embarrassed thinking about some of the things I said and believed and even preached. (We woman were allowed to do that before Vic sacked us all!) It is a typical cult thing tho to believe in having some special enlightenment - like the Gnostics.
Thanks for your thought provoking post, Faith ... Good to be reminded of the mind control methods of the mad manipulator!
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