The pre-1992 period at MCF (Melbourne Christian Fellowship) and BCF (Brisbane CF) was characterised by a wonderful restorationist word, originated by William Offiler (USA) and tested academically by Jeff Hammond (Melbourne), albeit delivered to us by a less-than fully multiple eldership and a womanizing top dog whom was unmasked in 1988.
What happened next was a classic case of fruit begets itself.
With the fall of Ray Jackson Snr, all the failings of MCF, apart from the womanizing – that is the control, shunnings and partiality – were then magnified by Vic HAll from BCF as he systematically created a theology that codified . . control, shunning and partiality.
Probably without initially realizing it, Vic Hall, made official doctrine of all the bad aspects of MCF and BCF! He has said recently:
I sought to find an administration sufficient for the fulness of timesVic Hall, 2014-ish
That’s all very good if it’s Biblical!
But, what was really happening, is that Vic felt he needed to provide the revelatory ‘new word’ that MCF and BCF craves.
So, from 1992 onwards, in came his numerous new teachings, from nowhere, after supposed meetings with Christ Himself, all with a twisted ‘don’t’ do anything unless an elder tells you’ emphasis:
- Elders as the Face of Christ (I call this guru’ headship)
- Principle of the seed
- Gospel of You
- Laying it down
- Marred face of Christ
- Laying it back & forward
- Piercing one’s friends
- Farmer, not a prophet
- The Rich Young Ruler
- Master vs Slave in business
- Filling up the sufferings of Christ
- Literalism of the five offerings for today
- Zechariah’s vision of the twin palms
- The Blood of Christ
- Pathway of Holiness
- The Minas & Talents
- The 3 Witnesses in Heaven
- Hidden with Christ
- Don’t steward your ministries,
- Administration of the Lamb
- Worthy homes & the 70 disciples
- Judgment commuted to chastisement
- The other churches have all fallen
- Don’t read commentaries or other Christian books
We studied each of those (and another twenty) for 6 months to a year with an accompanying book or two.
What it meant was that not only did we live a life of control by elders (so that, eg, I and many others, became unemployable, depressed and/or lost houses) but that’s also all that got preached about!
We were controlled and learned a theology of control.
It bored us to tears.
It all vaguely made sense, seemed BIblical, and we thought it was Christ coming to clean us up.
- All boiled down to the same message: just do what your elder tells you to do or else you’re going to hell. You can’t originate anything. If you do, it will be given to someone else to do.
- And, crucially, the Scriptures didn’t back up the twist.
- Neither the teachings of the epistles or Christ
- Nor the demonstration of the way the early Church lived together in Acts or the epistles.
The teaching that elders have good advice is not cultish.
But the teaching that you must take your elder’s advice or else you are automatically ‘naming-yourself’ and will got to hell is cultish. And destructive. Debilitating.
How did it look?
Like this, said to me by the half-wonderful, half-crazed David Bonham:
No man can start a businessDavid Bonham, 1997
an elder asks them to
And it was brought in gradually so we got used to it like boiled lobsters.
The leaders in the New Testament just, simply, were never instructed to, nor did, control men’s lives on a systematic basis. The way we lived at MCF bore no resemblance to the early church.
And all the good things of pre-1992 MCF were done away with, especially including, priesthood of all believers.