There was always something cultish about MCF.
For us plebs inside we rationalized it in two or three ways: (1) about the commitment level: as simply ‘taking a stand’ for Christ, or about the stories of control, shunning or womanizing, (2) we didn’t believe the stories or (3) just accepted that nothing’s perfect.
But pre-1992, these odd things about MCF always irked me.
They seemed so unnecessary and . . childish. Yes, deep down inside I saw a lot of their behaviour as childish. That’s why these days I refer to MCF as not only evil but delinquent. Delinquent in duty of care and scholarship. It was only Bible teachers like Jeff Hammond and Phil Baird that kept me there.
Why have five or six meetings a week (and expect people to be there)? For goodness sake! Let people live a bit.
And there must be some truth to the stories of shunnings of ex-members (especially if it was a family member of an elder).
And the control of people. Dear God, why are they like that? Investigate it and stamp it out. Take a stand.
And the aloofness of the elders? Do we just forgive them because they are gifted busy people?
And we’d all heard stores of the womanizing of some of the top dogs. Surely that just must be hearsay? Investigate it and stamp it out. It doesn’t matter who it is.
We forgave them because we didn’t really know for sure and the teaching and congregational culture was very solid and wholesome. I don’t subscribe to other’s views on the internet that there was little Scriptural basis for the restorationist teachings (apart from a few over-emphases).
It’s the opposite, as Jeff Hammond’s thesis points out and it was reviewed by a non-MCF theological college and even mainstream theologians couldn’t fault the core claims on multiple eldership, priesthood of all believers and restoration of all things.
But the elders who knew about the shunnings, control and womanizing? And that’s most of the older ones because three elders (Kevin Connor, Bob Holland & Tony Lyon) had exposed it before 1988.
For goodness sake! You guys are in trouble.
The damage was to everyone. Especially the affected women. But a betrayed congregation too. An unnecessarily tainted leadership. Pointless shunnings and control. Families ignoring their natural lives and other duties. Destroyed careers.
It was horrific for a small to moderate number, although everyone suffered due to over-zealousness. Even pre-1992 although 1988 cleaned up some of that.
But in 1992, Vic Hall sought to put his stamp on things.
And, it was to ignore the solid restorationist teachings, and instead, in effect, institutionalize and codify the random shunnings, control, partiality and psychological abuse of the past regime into a systematic theology that made the place horrifically abusive to every single member of the congregation! We all knew we had to give up everything an elder told us to and that became their official job.
Part II tomorrow,