There’s a major difference between privacy and pretense. Such a distinction is even recognized in secular circles, for confidentiality has always had its limits, especially when it comes to situations that involve a criminal-level of collusion.
However, the implications are even MORE serious when it comes to spiritual issues that have eternal consequences. Jesus’ apostle’s even named names when it came to disclosing information that had eternal implications that were crucial for bringing out into the open.
“Open rebuke is better than secret love” (Prov. 27:5).
Apostle Paul openly rebuked Peter for committing the sin of dishonest dissimulation (pretending), for he was hypocritically hiding his ham sandwich, so to speak, from legalistic Jews (Gal. 2:11-21). The cause of Christ was being obscured by a cover-up scheme, so Paul exposed it for the sake of the gospel. As a result, he was “loving his neighbor as himself” by rebuking such sin before all (1 Tim. 5:20-22), so that Peter would repent and so that others would also fear committing the same sin of pretense.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
Imagine if Peter had been self-centered (like so many today), rather than God-centered. What if he had taken personal offense at Paul’s rebuke and tried to guilt-shame him for being so “disrespectful” of his public image? Worse yet, what if Paul had acquiesced to such an accusation and become a dishonest slanderer who disregarded truth and just began to bandy-it-about casually, instead of openly rebuking sin for the purpose of honoring God and His truth?
According to Scripture, it would’ve been considered hate for his neighbor and for God (e.g., Lev. 19:16). If Paul had succumbed to such false guilt manipulation and become a false flatterer (Prov. 20:19), he would’ve probably ended up having a grudge against Peter, and may have even become vengeful against him, for he would’ve incurred the same guilt and ended up having Peter’s blood and the blood of the others on his hands for not loving them and God enough to be open and honest about the truth.
But thankfully, by God’s grace, Peter seems to have humbly accepted Paul’s brutal honesty and must have recognized it as a blessing in disguise, for Peter never seemed to be portrayed as being resentful or bitter toward Paul for calling him out publicly. In fact, he seemed to respect him more than ever after that, for Paul was being a faithful friend (Prov. 27:6). Because, thanks to God’s glorious grace, Paul did not ignore or excuse sinful behavior that directly dishonored the gospel, but was obedient to God and His Word, which he obviously knew so well, for Leviticus 19:17-18 states the following:
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Although it is honorable to withhold many personal details for the sake of privacy, it is never honorable to disregard the cause of Christ by allowing it to be blasphemed without repercussions. We are never bound by honor to disobey God. For instance, honoring dishonorable parents cannot ever mean “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness,” for one commandment cannot be kept by breaking another.
“Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies” (Psa. 40:4).
So bearing false witness by keeping up a superficial front that obscures the cause of Christ cannot ever possibly be a way to honor immediate ancestors who are involved in cultic collusion. It’s also no way to live, for such demonic oppression leads to pent-up anger, bitterness, resentment, depression and anxiety, which is all par for the course in secret keeping cults.
Therefore, God’s people must follow the biblical precedent to:
“cause them to know the abominations of their fathers” (Ezek. 20:4).
And personally, facing the truth about my own cultic background has been one of the most difficult challenges that I’ve had to come to terms with while sharing my testimony in Christ as honestly and as openly as possible.
For in doing so, it has not only been necessary to share some of the personal details of my own life, but it has also been necessary to reveal how my own family of origin has been deeply embedded in CoC collusion for generations. And how there were severe consequences whenever one’s cultic conditioning started to crack under pressure, including the likelihood of being over-dosed with prescription drugs when CoC cultism was combined with the belief that “psychotropic solutions” could fill the spiritual void that the CoC created.
But despite pressure to please, perform and pretend, a God-given love for Jesus and His truth enabled me to finally face reality with authenticity, transparency and integrity, in order to expose such cultic collusion and how it has played out within the context of family, while maintaining a fair amount of discretion without compromising the truth.
Only after careful consideration, unceasing prayer and a diligent study of Scripture did I fully realize the necessity of disclosing information that was crucial for exposing just how spiritually dangerous and abusive false religion really is, so that others could be warned.
“For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad” (Lk. 8:17).
God’s Word also convinced me that it would be terribly wrong to waste the sanctifying afflictions that He has allowed me to suffer through, because they were meant to be set forth as examples and warnings for others, which is clearly exemplified throughout Scripture.
At the same time, I’ve discreetly withheld many details that were not absolutely necessary, for “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). So this labor of love has been a very delicate balance to try to maintain, and I’m sure I’ve probably not done it perfectly, but the Lord knows my heart.
Only by God’s saving grace have I been able to even attempt such a feat from a place of forgiveness and understanding. And, in light of such wonderful healing and insight, the disclosure of some very painful and bitter details has always been accompanied by biblical perspectives that have also helped others to excavate the important life lessons that are meant to be gleaned from such painful experiences.
But, even so, there will be some readers who are left with a bitter taste in their mouth, because not everyone will be able to spiritually comprehend those life lessons or to clearly see and appreciate those blessed biblical perspectives, especially if they’ve not personally experienced them for themselves.
CoC’s are especially notorious for denying what Scripture actually conveys, for they don’t want to be held accountable for the eternal ramifications of teaching the exact opposite. As a consequence, CoC captives often end up suffering under spiritual bondage, due to developing an emotional attachment to its heretical theology.
As a result, they grow so accustomed to it that they are no longer able to see things for what they really are. So, when faced with the truth, a biased prejudice can often cause them to become neurotic in their opposition to it, for they have not been spiritually equipped to handle it. But God does not want us to worship Him in ignorance (Jn. 4:23).
For years, my grandmother kept several CoC pamphlets and booklets (the CoC’s secret creeds that they claim not to have) tucked away in her desk, which I’ve had in my possession since her death. Ironically, on the very front cover of the October 2001 issue of “The Spiritual Sword” it states: “Things Most Surely Believed,” which happens to be the Bible passage that Reformed confessions of faith also base their creedal stance upon (Lk. 1:1).
Apart from the obvious hypocrisy, this particular issue also happens to reveal the CoC’s real reasons for trying to hide and distort the truth concerning what it falsely calls Calvinism, and the undeniable, historical fact that Alexander Campbell was indeed at the headwaters of the CoC’s water gospel, for he laid the groundwork for the very first “Church of Christ.”
Campbell openly expressed his hatred against the true gospel after realizing he was not truly born again by the Spirit, so he began to hope the truth wasn’t really true. As a result, he devised his own scheme of salvation. And, like other cult leaders, he even came up with his own version of the Bible, called “The Living Oracles,” in order to further his sinister agenda.
Instead of trusting in the power of the biblical gospel, which compels undone and desperate sinners to throw themselves upon the mercy of Christ as their only hope, Campbell grew impatient, angry and down-right rebellious against God. Subsequently, he invented a short-circuited way of salvation; a salvation that bypasses all of the humbling spiritual struggles involved in waiting upon the Lord and submitting to His way of dealing with guilty sinners.
This is why the CoC has been marked with an inbred authority structure based on Campbell’s man-centered, synergistic concept of salvation, which the Bible calls “another gospel.” It is so contrary to God’s way of salvation that He places it and those who promote it under a divine curse (Gal. 1:6-8), which puts those who are entrenched in such CoC collusion on extremely dangerous ground.
Though CoC’s fervently attempt to keep it a secret, Alexander Campbell was a prominent leader of the very Restoration Movement that has bred so many American grown cults, including Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostalism, etc., all of which initially claimed to restore “unity,” based on what was termed “the ancient gospel.” But what was actually “restored” was the Roman Catholic, sacramental concept of salvation, primarily, Baptismal Regeneration.
Consequently, this Campbellite collusion has secretly infiltrated many towns, churches and families, under the guise of “Church of Christ” (a misnomer) for over two centuries, which explains why these “keepers of secrets” will often display an irrational revulsion to being identified as Campbellites, because such clear category distinctions expose the CoC as being a full-fledged cult. So, they’ll try to save face by falsely accusing people of “name calling” if they point out these obvious and undeniable facts.
Though the CoC denies and tries to hide its history, or at least tries to revise it, (for it claims Christ as its founder), its literature proves that the CoC still holds its true founders in high-esteem and continues to teach their peculiar doctrines, which my grandma’s CoC pamphlets clearly revealed.
Although the CoC denies teaching baptismal regeneration, by trying to re-define it as something that only Roman Catholics do when they baptize babies, or when they ascribe saving power to the water itself. But despite its attempts to distinguish itself from Romanism, the CoC’s baptismal regeneration formula still dictates that one can only be spiritually born again through water baptism, just as Romanism does. Yet the CoC secretly glosses over these facts. It doesn’t want its captives to be “confused with the facts,” for it must deny what it has no excuse for.
Formerly well-known as Campbellism, this counter-reformation began to hide its true identity, for many Christians, especially those who were doctrinally equipped in the reformed Baptist camp, stood strongly against this Romanist system in the 1800’s. Because they could see it for what it really was…a heretical cult. But by claiming to have no formal creeds, the CoC managed to start flying more under the radar, so that it could spread like an undetected cancer.
Because, once its false doctrines are detected, they are easily destroyed by the power of the true gospel. As it has been demonstrated repeatedly, the CoC is embarrassingly incapable of defending itself against the onslaught of biblical exegesis which brings out the original and intended meaning of Bible passages that the CoC attempts to pervert with its own special brand of eisegesis.
No wonder so many CoC operatives seem to have the audacity to think that reality should conform to whatever they dictate it to be, which is why they’ve warmed up to other secret societies that also have sinister agendas. For in their mind, whatever is unthinkable to them must not really be true.
So, either they will have to continue to exist in a vacuum of cognitive dissonance; hoping the truth isn’t really true, or they will have to come clean, stop aligning with works of darkness, repent of all their damnable heresies and confess that the CoC’s baptismal regeneration formula is a false gospel.
Or else CoC captives will invoke the same dreadful judgment upon themselves as their false prophets, for “the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him” (Ezek. 14:10). Because once the CoC’s premises have been removed (and they have been, time and time again), its entire secretive sacramental system collapses.
But sadly, it seems that CoC collusion can get so deeply embedded, especially within the context of family dynamics, that the facts no longer have any bearing on its generational patterns of deception. So, when its operatives refuse to engage with Scripture and accept the reality that it presents, it’s no wonder when they begin to lose touch with reality in other aspects of their lives as well.
“Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? (Prov. 6:27-28).
Those who are involved in cultic collusions can only operate at the level they are so adapted to. But those of us whom God has given a strong sense of reality to, have been called to be peacemakers, “for the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (Jas. 3:18). Unlike CoC operatives, we’re not called to be “peacekeepers” who secretly keep peace with evil where there is no peace (Isa. 48:22, Jer. 8:11, Mt. 5:9).
Instead, we carry the message that corresponds to reality, for Jesus laid down His life to make peace between God and sinners. For, “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (Jas. 3:17). So that sinful CoC secrets do not have to be swept under the rug but can be openly acknowledged and brought to the forefront by the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only then can cultic sin cycles finally be broken, forgiven and healed, so that biblical generational patterns can be established.
If it’s possible, as far as it depends on us, we, as born-again believers, are called to pursue peace with all others (Rom. 12:18). But not everyone will cooperate, for there are those who have bitter envy and strife in their hearts, which is why they lie against the truth (Jas. 3: 14-16).
In such sad cases, we forgive them on a personal level, yet not to the detriment of truth by allowing them to continue in a sinful pattern of behavior toward us and the gospel, for they are still accountable to God for unrepentant sin (Jn. 20:23, 2 Tim. 4:14-15, Rev. 6:10).
Even in 3 John vv. 9-11 we find a biblical distinction between forgiving and forgetting, because forgiveness brings us freedom, NOT a mindless enslavement to ongoing trauma. The natural outworking of true honor toward a cultic family is a life of peace and joy in the Lord, NOT a life of blindly subjecting ourselves to their spiritual abuse.
…”he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured” (Prov. 13:18).
Honor does not mean compulsively subjecting oneself to sinful and toxic behavior or excusing it for the sake of “peace.” Honor does not mean blind obedience, pleasing or pretending. Honor also doesn’t mean having inordinate affections toward cultists by rescuing, enabling, excusing or hiding their cultic collusions. Such attempts at playing god would be idolatry, and God will not share His position with anyone or anything (Col. 3:5).
So, they must be allowed to incur the natural consequences of their cultic collusion (1 Cor. 5:5), in hopes that God will rescue them and restore their sanity. Only then can they learn to depend solely upon Him, rather than a wrongful reliance upon the CoC’s all-too-familiar-abuse-by-proxy, shaming and false guilt-manipulation tactics against those who reprove their heresies; those who refuse to blindly submit to heretical CoC cultism.
The Pharisees used the same cultic tactics against Jesus. So, in order for Christians to endure such persecution we must follow Jesus’ example, for He “despised the shame” that false accusers tried to place upon Him, for He was focused upon the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). Hallelujah!!!!
True honor does not mean keeping up a façade of enshrining a false family image, for that would also be idolatry and bearing false witness. Therefore, any relationships with CoC family must be based upon honesty, mutual respect, repentance and their acceptance of responsibility for any level of involvement in cultic collusions.
Whereas, if they maintain a position of excusing themselves and being deceitfully divisive, defensive, dishonest slanderers and gossips that are hostile toward the gospel, then a separation is in order (Titus 3:10).
Such biblical boundaries encourage them to be honorable by not allowing them the opportunity to replicate the same sinful CoC patterns of spiritual abuse. We can honor them without being compelled to accept their cultism or to remain in ongoing close relationships with them, especially when extremely abusive and horrific circumstances may limit and rule out certain ways of showing them honor.
In such cases, we can honor them by trying to help them to grasp God’s time-honored truth by modeling what it truly means to be a follower of Christ. For He commands our complete consecration to Himself and an alienation of affection toward anyone or anything that would restrain or hinder us from following Him in truth, for He plainly stated:
“If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:26)
Thankfully, this biblical alienation of affection is not the same thing as a worldly lack of natural affection, but rather entails God-given boundaries that protect God’s people from anyone or anything that would spiritually harm them, their testimony and the cause of Christ that they stand for. So we can rejoice in the fact that God still allows us the privilege of being good stewards of His blessings, and the wonderful privilege of still being allowed to love, bless and pray for those who persecute, abuse and hate us (Mt. 5:44), while withdrawing from any evil influences that would tempt us to lose faith in Christ alone as our all in all (e.g., Eph. 5:11, 1 Tim. 6:5).
Copyright©2022 by Lee Anne Ferguson