I occasionally get asked this.
Well, I sort-of grew up in MCF (Melbourne Christian Fellowship). My Dad got sucked in when I was 10 years old. And, although I didn’t start going regularly until I was 17, I had become a firm believer in its Bible-based reformationist teachings because of Dad and the books he gave me whilst I was at the Lutheran Church with Mum.
Dad, somehow, was totally isolated from all the bad stuff.
MCF under Ray Jackson Snr
OK, but I myself, did gradually become aware of the pre-1992 hidden culture of MCF and its leadership:
- lording over
- lack of care
- closed finances
But had only ever heard rumours of womanizing in the eldership from supposedly unreliable sources.
So you gradually become aware of these things. You accepted some of these things as over-reactions to isolated statements in the Scriptures (eg shunnings of ex-members or isolationism). And, for others, (eg lording over, partiality or lack of care), you knew if you ever became a leader there is no way you would carry on like that.
And you also don’t expect perfection despite the place preaching perfectionism.
It was REALLY disappointing.
But somehow you assume that these things are minor or exaggerated. Tares and wheat. For now.
So, yes, I partly blame myself for not following up on those things.
MCF under Vic Hall
From around 1993 onward, Vic Hall very gradually started introducing his heretical ‘messenger word’ which I call ‘guru headship’.
But it was like being gradually boiled like lobsters.
At the start it was just Biblical headship.
But it got gradually crazier and crazier until we couldn’t do anything (invest your money, change job, start a relationship, start a business, go on holiday, buy/move house, start a para-ministry) without ‘working through it’ with an elder.
These deep and meaningfuls could take months and years.
Life kind of stopped. We only did things we were 100% sure God accepted.
And it was worse than that.
The teaching became that wanting to do almost anything was just plain evil. It was called ‘naming yourself’. And we were taught we would go to hell because the only thing that the Lord accepts is works done according to his naming. So everything in life was ultimately banned except playing sport and going on boating trips (what all the elders liked doing).
But by then, we had all become a community. We were all going through it together. We all talked about how ‘precious the word was’. How honoured we were to have this word. If we left we knew we would lose contact with friends and family.
And, to be honest, the world outside looked pretty deviant. And a lot of the othe churches seemed to be becoming very permissive. So we went along with it.
Leaving felt like leaving the Body of Christ. We always said, leave to what? But tha twas the cult, to make us think there was nowhere else.
And it got worse again and ended up looking like this:
No man can start a business unless he is asked to by an elderDavid Bonham to me (1997)
That is as good as never. All whilst all the elders’ younger kids than us are starting businesses left, right and centre.
Elders like Tim Maurice were banning marriages and shunning in-laws and so on.
I stupidly obeyed these types of ridiculous and presumptuous declarations and partialities for between 7 and 25 years depending on how you look at it.
Do I blame myself?
Yes. But for only for being too trusting.
From an accountability POV, in the end, ultimately:
Because we were manipulated.
We were tricked.
This was a leadership that took advantage of us as an isolated community and tested out selfish and demeaning teachings on us that they knew were only guesses. And they gave the impression that their declarations were like prophecies.
This word we are preaching is a proclaimed, fathered word. It has been tested by the presbytery. It is not to be debated or questioned but acted on. If we self-name ourselves there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those who name themselves will ultimately go mad. Their worm will not die.Vic Hall, Murray Wylie & company (1995-2010-ish). Every month or so.
Paul, didn’t you know that these teachings were all just theories?Murray Wylie (2018)
And they only tested us as far as they thought we – individually – would go.
They didn’t want us to leave so it was gradual, gradual until there was nothing of our humanity left.
I don’t blame myself for falling for deception and manipulation of this magnitude.