Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Considering the Biblical Model of Examining Behavior to Identify a Spiritual Abuser

Dr. Paul Martin

Dr. Paul Martin presented a workshop at the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions Conference on March 7, 2008 discussing why Christians should understand the dynamics of spiritual abuse.  (Dr. Martin was a former member of the cultic Great Commission, and after leaving, became one of the most respected psychologists in the study of cults but also in the area of Christian counter cult apologetics.  He also founded the first accredited inpatient treatment center for people who have exited cults and abusive relationships, the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Albany, OH.)  Along with impressive research concerning abusive religious groups that he presented at his workshop, Why Evangelicals Should Believe in Thought Reform (“Brainwashing”)," Dr. Martin also included some interesting information about what the Bible has to say about false teachers and wolves in sheep's clothing.

Today, in counter cult apologetics, the Christian Discipline of effectively articulating reasons for believing in the Christian faith, when it comes to identifying aberrant groups or cultic Christianity, most of the leaders teach that behavior and works are off limits. The focus primarily on identifying doctrine only, and it's not seen as proper to examine behaviors unless they are tied directly to false or questionable doctrine. As Paul Martin pointed out, the Bible teaches the Believer to identify problems with behaviors, not with doctrine. As the Apostle Paul stated about himself, and as the Book of James attests, the real test of what doctrine a minister follows (their faith) is notable not so much by what he says but is demonstrated by their conduct.

According to Paul Martin's analysis, the 210 verses found in the Bible that refer to false prophets, priests, elders and Pharisees deal with the following:

  • 99 verses (47%) concern Behavior
  • 66 verses (31%) concern Fruit
  • 24 verses (12%) concern Motives
  • 21 verses (only 10%) concern Doctrine

Only 10% of those verses concern doctrine!

According to the Scriptures, we should be very concerned with both the behaviors and the fruit of spiritual leadership in the church and in parachurch organizations. This is not gossip or mean-spirited critical abuse but what Scripture actually teaches us to observe.

The Necessity for Two Types of Fruit: Doctrine and Living Out that Doctrine

This information goes hand in hand with what Dr. Walter Martin, the author of The Kingdom of the Cults and one of the first and foremost counter cult apologists, once preached at Lee University in the late seventies. He taught that the Believer must have two types of fruit in their lives to be truly effective.

From Walter Martin in "Rise of the Cults," a 1979 lecture at Lee College Chapel:
Dr. Walter Martin
You will be able to identify them by their fruits. . .
Be careful, there are two kinds of fruit:
  • there is the fruit of the life lived, and
  • the fruit of the doctrine taught.

The Pharisees taught purity of doctrine, but Jesus said that they were whitewashed sepluchres. If you have pure doctrine and a corrupt life, you are condemned for it. If you have a pure life and a corrupt doctrine, you are condemned for it. . .

Because salvation does not come from the efforts of purity but by the gift of God. . .

But according to Christ, it is possible to look, act and sound like a believer and not be one. .

4 things that they do (deceiving even the elect):

1. They can say “Lord,” but they don’t mean “Savior.”
2. They can say that they speak for God and are prophesying in His Name.
3. They can even use the Name of Jesus to cast out demons.
4. They can use the Name of Jesus to work miracles.

And their sin is, having used the Name of Christ for their own purposes, they themselves have not believed.