Hello dear Brethren,
Hello too to the ex-Brethren who were removed - or just saw the light - after decades of injustice and inhumanity. This is something that will forever haunt some members of the PBCC - well until our generations die out at very least. They got rid of people for no good reason and ruined the lives of thousands without another thought. Sure there were some genuinely evil people discarded like paedophiles and others. But in the main this bunch of so-called Christians acted like Judge and Jury for no other reason than to see people squirm or to pay homage to the false prophet writing the rules.
The first thing you must know is that the PBCC /Exclusive Brethren are not original. They use every trick in the book just like every other cult in the world today. A group called Cultwatch has been documenting these similarities since the 1980's and the concurrences between them is astonishing.
Take a look at these findings published by this group which I have edited down somewhat, so that those short on time and concentration can take it all in. (I have placed some alternative names the Brethren use and paraphrased certain sections.)
The Honor The Pastor (Man of God) Scam
Money focused churches tend to be run on cultic patterns. One of these cultic patterns is the division of the church into exclusive rings: the all-powerful pastor perched at the centre, the inner-ring of sycophants around him consisting of the leader’s 'lieutenants' and the church’s privileged class (the rich, the famous and the very pretty), and the outer-ring of the ordinary folk who would love to be in the inner-ring, but are not.
The power of those in the inner-ring is determined by the amount of favour the leader bestows upon them.
To get more favour the inner-ring will employ many favour-currying measures, one of which is a scam called “Honoringthe Pastor”. It works this way, the inner-ring will figure out what the leader would like and the inner-ringers will squeeze the outer-ringers for the money to buy what is required.
Using this method leaders have been “given” all manner of things including luxuries to enhance their lifestyle. (Like luxury jets for Man of God transportation, bodyguards and multi-million dollar homes.)
Are the pastors complicit in this game? Of course they are. They couldn’t demand the gift openly themselves, but seek plausible deniability by having their inner-ring lieutenants do the work. Of course they could refuse the gift when it is presented, and make it clear that they don’t want the Lord’s money spent on such things again, but they never do. These leaders exchange their favour, for cash from their congregation. (It's hard to refuse an assembly that has been sending you wads of cash in little envelopes for years.)
The Multilevel Marketing Pattern
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” -John 2:13-16
The proof the 'commercial direction' is embodied in the wealth of the dream’s leaders. Do you see how rich our leaders are? They made all their money by following the direction, proving that you can too. Except, that it’s a lie.
Coming up is the key to the pattern, are you ready? These leaders did not become wealthy by following the dream, instead they became wealthy by building up a group of people who believe passionately in the dream, and then selling dream-promoting wares to this captive audience.
Many became rich by hyping dream-promoting books, tapes, DVDs, and conferences to their own private market of dream believers. (BDH's business meetings are a perfect match.)
These leaders use their faked “success” to promote a distorted gospel which basically says: “toe the line obeying the leaders buying whatever we tell you to buy, and donate money whenever we tell you to donate, and then God will pour riches into your life.” They tell us that they became successful by following this dream, but in reality they became rich by sucking money out of those caught up in the buzzing environment where this distorted gospel seems real.
Tip: A clue that you are caught up in one of these churches is if you hear things like, “This is your spiritual home, you can’t go to another church. You must be loyal.” They are very jealous about protecting their market, and do not want to lose one of their paying customers to another church. Some even try to prevent their patrons leaving by making them sign contracts or “covenants”, like a mobile phone company locking you into a two year term. But the Bible does not teach that Christians are bound to their local church organization, this idea is foreign to Scripture.
The hype conferences (like BDH's Business conferences) start months beforehand. Other church members look at you strangely if you are thinking about not going. What, you can’t afford the huge entry fee? What’s wrong with you, don’t you love God? Don’t you want to be blessed? Don’t you want to be successful and wealthy? Don’t you want to be part of us? Because you won’t be, unless you go to THE CONFERENCE!
Each speaker is completely amazing. The next best thing to the second coming.
He’s built a church up with thousands of people. He’s the most Godly man in the universe who is the best man ever with the best kids and the best lifestyle. He’s from overseas. He’s a corporate CEO. Wow. It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be triple awesome! It’s going to be mega massive triply awesomely awesome!
The spiritual reward for going is implied to be life changing. The conference fees are nothing, compared to the blessings and wealth God will dump on your head from upon high.
And Jesus had conferences too, don’t forget, like the Sermon on the Mount, where He charged, oh, he didn’t charge anything for that spiritual teaching. In fact it was free wasn’t it? Hmmm. Well, often the first-movers can’t figure out how to monetize their success, we can’t blame Jesus for that, can we? Gosh, if only He had some books to sell at the back…
Understand, I’m not against conferences. I’m against overly expensive hyped conferences that deliver hardly any lasting value to their attendees; Conferences that are linked to your standing in your church, and supposedly what God thinks of your commitment to Him.
And why are they so expensive? Where does all that money go? Well, you’re going to find out…
Your Counter Strategy: Sit reading your Bible with a few Christian friends – trust me, spiritually you’ll get more out of it and it’ll cost less. Realize that you don’t need the sugar high of a conference to get closer to God. De-program yourself from the idea that conferences are like a spiritual hot-point you just have to be at. See the hype for what it is. Be led by the Spirit to conferences, not pulled by the fear of losing your church friends and God’s blessing.
Leader Owned Businesses that Feed Off the Flock
Another way bad pastors extract money from their captive market is to set up a business, and then get their congregation to patronize their business.
Businesses like: bookshops, (Ministry, Tracts, photo books) production firms, computer consulting, business coaching services, building firms, business interiors companies, music producers, real-estate firms, and many more. The bookshop is the most common, often located inside the church itself.(Stow Hill?)
Members in the church who show loyalty to their pastor’s businesses are rewarded, often with increased standing in the church. Members who refuse to use the pastor’s businesses are frowned upon. (Being chosen to attend the Universal gathering is a pretty good indication.)
Church Building Wars
Like the cathedral building, wars in the middle ages where cities and countries vied against each other to build the most impressive cathedral. The pastors of these money focused churches fight to own the most impressive church to top their rival pastors – their egos demand that they are the king of the heap. (Try this comparison - of the Sydney versus Melbourne PBCC halls.)
And just like in the days of old these self anointed church kings seek to tax their subjects to fund their private war.
Understand that these cultic churches ultimately exist to serve their pastor’s insecure egos, and their congregation suffer under their madness. This type of church culture breeds a harsh environment where people are discarded as soon as they are no longer useful. This is a dysfunctional ethos entirely alien to that of Jesus’s teachings.
Your Counter Strategy: Don’t help fund these monuments to the pastor’s pride and prestige, these pet projects, these grandiose visions. Realize that these churches are not focused on Jesus, but are centred around the narcissistic leader and what he desires most. Don’t be part of this game. Surely we are accountable to God to how we spend our money. Surely then it is our duty as Christians to give that money to true Godly works that bear real fruit for the Kingdom.
Siphoning Cash into Property
Is it ethical for the leader (or his company or family trust) to own property that the church is paying for? Of course not.
Another variation on this scam is the church trust being controlled by the pastor and his family, so they control both the church’s cash and property.
Some of these pastors are very clever in how they hide the money trail. But ultimately if church money is paying for an asset the pastor owns, except via his wages of course, then it is almost certainly wrong. Imagine the furore if a politician was caught siphoning off government money into property or assets owned by himself.
Your Counter Strategy: Check who owns your church’s property. If it is a trust or company then find out who owns and controls that entity. Then look at what your leader owns directly or indirectly, and who is paying for those assets. Stop giving to that church until any unethical dealings like these are stopped and the money repaid.
A church isn’t a family business you know; it is a 'family', but it’s not a business.
Are the pastor’s relatives high up in the church? Are they the ones with the most powerful positions? Then that is nepotism. A good church will choose the very best people for the job, while a bad church will reward those closest to the pastor with the lucrative positions of power.
If you see nepotism, then that is a sign that something is very wrong.
Your Counter Strategy: Yup, you guessed it – stop giving to that church until the pastor’s little family fiefdom is disassembled. (Sheeesh - I cannot think of a Hales relative who is not in a lucrative position.)
The Carrot and the Stick
These leaders are not only money hungry, but often power hungry too. They want to be both preacher and master. They commit the sin of the Pharisees and appoint themselves as middle men between God and you. They seek to replace the Holy Spirit in your life. They “lord it over” their flocks. (Read Cultwatch’s articles on the “Super Apostles” here if you want to find out more.)
Using the connection they claim to have with God they threaten you with the stick of spiritual curses if you disobey them, and dangle the carrot of spiritual blessings if you comply. They seek to dominate your life; often implying that they have say in where you work, where you fellowship, who you marry, and of course, when, where, and how much you should give.
This is a false spiritual authority not supported by Scripture. In fact I believe it to be quite devilish (the desire to control and dominate others).
In these pastor’s prosperity teaching, obeying the pastor and giving money are the two pillars necessary for a successful Christian life. If you sit back and think about it, you will quickly see what a con it is.
These men want to be at the head of everything, they want to dominate you, they want to be seen as the big man, and some even secretly desire adoration (almost worship). This is the opposite of true Christian leadership:
Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. – Luke 22:24-27
I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. – 2 Corinthians 1:23-24
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. – Mark 10:42-44
Threatening people with curses if they do not obey or donate is spiritual extortion. It is contrary to the nature of grace and the person of Jesus.
Your Counter Strategy: Don’t be afraid of these (great) men. Ignore their bluster. Grow a backbone and stand up to them. And if you give, then give to honour God and not out of fear of punishment or greed for financial gain. Memorize this verse: Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7