Today’s article is the letter that is now on the home-page of this blog.
For forty years since the 1950s, you as Melbourne-based MCF (Melbourne Christian Fellowship, previously, Immanuel), taught wonderfully about the Body of Christ, multiple eldership and Christian unity and unfolded Biblical truths with unprecedented clarity.
Then, shortly after recovering from the falling of two leaders, in 1992, under Vic Hall from BCF, your presbytery allowed my family’s home church to be turned into a dangerously abusive (although non-violent) cult.
Really? Yes, gradually, month-by-month, over a five year period from 1992-1996, MCF and BCF began embracing all the hallmarks of a pathetic, controlling cult, complete with your own twisted theology, books, lingo, hierarchies, control mechanisms, codes of silence, black-markings, labellings, shunnings and coverups.
Partiality became an art form. We were declared ‘In’ or ‘Out’. ‘Worthy’ or ‘Unworthy’. ‘Master’ or ‘Slave’, ‘Marriageable’ or ‘Unmarriageable’ and so on. It only took one question to be black-marked. So the important questions were never asked.
History was rewritten in a split-second. ‘It was only advice!’ I was told by Gary Worth when I told him that I had been psychologically abused for 25 years under David Bonham and his sidekicks, who were, actually, just putting Vic Hall’s ‘messenger word‘ into action.
No. You taught us that we had to obey eldership or else we were ‘naming ourselves‘, and would go to hell.
You taught it every week for 15 to 20 years.
Laurie Holland, while serving on the presbytery grabbed my arm after the pre-church elders’ meeting and told me that in black and white.
So I proceeded to obey and obey and obey and destroyed my life.
I got banned from every dream and plan I’d ever had. All declared ‘idols’. Not allowed to do an essential postdoc internship after my PhD. Banned from starting a business. Banned from commercialising my software. Imprisoned in a dead-end job I hated for five years longer than I wanted (and then they forgot!). Made unemployable. Lost our house. Banned from even thinking about technology.
I became a broken man. I cried every week for 20 years. They took advantage of my complying nature. And it was all a secret. You couldn’t talk about it.
It was preposterous. And presumptuously done in the hope God would resurrect it they would say. And it was known to the governing presbytery group.
And, similarly, so were the lives of at least 25 other families across Australia destroyed.
You locked up all of us in fact.
The same word every week. The same prophecies. The same angle. Not an independent thought or contribution. For 25 years. And it continues today going by your so-called on-line ‘devotionals’. And the same thing on Wednesday night home groups which used to be wonderful. Nothing but Vic Hall regurgitation now.
In the lies and cover-ups that followed Richie even claimed the Isaac play was suddenly only about the historical Isaac, not us giving up our prerogatives to elders. (Oh really?What’s next? A Noah’s Ark play?). I then reminded Richie of the words of his own songs about giving up ‘vain longings’. Silence.
Then Bob Stevens attacked me personally.
Betrayed by friends.
I appealed to Vic Hall, in Brisbane, who said (I quote): “Paul is a good brother, and if those leaders have gone beyond their mandate they should repent, apologise and make restitution”.
Richie read that to those men but because you, the presbytery, wanted to sweep it under the carpet nobody received a copy of Vic’s letter and 3 out of 4 of the perpetrators couldn’t remember what Vic had said.
The week I decided to leave in 2016 was the final straw. MCF showed its true colors. Your message to us at Easter via good ol’ Jona Wills was “Don’t steward your ministry, just do what your admin leaders tell you to do. Our lives are hidden in Christ.” You have chosen to shut down every ministry and every activity that is not a puppet of Vic Hall.
And, you make us think it’s because the leaders have ‘sight‘. But it’s natural sight. Soooo natural. You read us like the cover of a book, as Gary Worth says himself. So, someone who doesn’t present well is pigeon-holed forever to be useless!
As I suspected as a youth, MCF was a place for the extrovert, the showmen, those with the gift of the gab and the (dis)integrity of the Yes Man. But far worse than I ever imagined. MCF never listened to the umming and ahhing ones, or those who would question anything in scholarship. To their downfall.
What does it all mean? Well, when your leader starts talking abut multiple personal visitations from Jesus HImself, banning us from reading other Christian materials including commentaries and closing all links to other churches, we should have all been on the watch. Jesus said that close to His second coming do not believe those who claim exclusivity (those who say ‘look here’ or ‘look there’).
It means that Vic Hall has led us astray. The carnage of destruction from Vic’s messenger word is horrific in scale and nature. People locked up. Families separated. Financial ruins. Children lost. Divorces justified. Men! Women! Wake up. The MCF and BCF leaders are practising seance-like ‘sight’ but it’s just natural. It’s the same word for 30 years and the rest of the gospel is ignored. Control is not the way. Lead by example and diversity of expression.
Have you noticed that the men who brought us the word so ‘kindly’ but forcefully have all fallen in disgrace or depression? The man’s man, ‘Falky’. Kindly Tucker. Gentle Wiley.
Why? Because they forcefully proclaimed a word that is not backed by Scripture either theologically or narratively. Does life in the early church sound anything remotely like life at MCF with its focus on control and elders’ non-stop sessions with men? It’s nothing like that. The epistles and Acts speak nothing of judging people and controlling their specific business, career or ministry choices. Only of wholesome, godly living and commitment to Christ generically.
There’s not a hint of Vic’s messenger word in the life of the early church or their teachings.
It’s all made up by Vic! Year after year, with each new book, I became more and more suspicious and despondent as when the cultish statement was finally made in the book, and I looked up the footnote Scriptures, they barely, if at all, supported the statement, and certainly not the cultish sentiment.
Murray Wiley told me last year, “Paul, didn’t you understand that these were all just theories.” I told Murray: “No. We had trusted that you had got this from the Lord, and tested it in scholarship and spirit.”
My last words to Murray Wiley: “Your move has been the most destructive and bullying experience of my life”.
After Charles, my Dad left he finally, somewhat sheepishly, told me about the vision he had of MCF leadership in 2012. He saw you elders chained to each other, wearing flowing robes, long hair and inverted crowns thrust over your necks like millstones. And you were in coal carts hurtling down a tunnel into an abyss.
You took no warning from Charles in 2012. He is amongst the humblest men I know and was your biggest fan.
You have allowed yourselves to become misled bullies, strutting and judging everyone, holding them to impossible, nasty, selfish constraints as if you have Christ’s eyes on automatic beck and call.
And in 2016 Gary Worth said he was not going to take a warning from me.
I reminded him that, despite my lowly and trampled status in the church, Ray Jackson Jnr had prophetically declared me a ‘Pillar in the House of the Lord’. The only such pillar in Scripture is Jeremiah. And we know what his job was. To tell the elders and princes. And if they didn’t listen, to go into the courtyard and tell the people.
I was prophetically appointed one of your watchtowers and this is my last warning.
From such awesome beginnings.