An oft-repeated exhortation growing up in this church was Jesus’ piece of wisdom: “By their fruits you will know them.” Of course, it was always recited using the King’s English, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Here is one such passage in context:
Matthew 7:15-20 – Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (KJV)
Jesus here was warning the flock against false prophets, people who would come in sheep’s clothing, but inside are ravening wolves. Such leaders were common in the first century, as history shows. People came into the church or into the Jewish community claiming to be the messiah long after Jesus had ascended to heaven. Some claimed to be a prophet of God. One led a revolt against the Romans in the desert and was wiped out along with his followers. So it made sense for Jesus to give his flock some advice: See if what they teach leads to something good. Watch for the fruits of their efforts.
It’s been over 45 years since the introduction of this sect into the Christian community–or should I say, it’s separation from the Christian community–and I think that’s ample time to examine its fruits. When I look at the fruit of the church’s divisive and authoritarian teachings, I see fear and intimidation used to maintain power over the flock, clearly lording power over the people, with a wake of carnage and crushed souls left in its path:
- Marriages dissolved over perceived unscriptural marriages, only for the teaching to be later recanted and the family told “We’ve grown in our understanding and you didn’t have to separate after all.”
- Husbands emasculated by their wives and by other female teachers.
- Reputations smeared by false and/or unscriptural allegations and speculations of a sexual nature. This, by the way, continues to this day.
- Wives becoming the de facto heads of household.
- Husbands estranged from their wives when one or both can’t take the church’s oppressive teachings anymore.
- Children estranged from one or both parents when someone is withdrawn from for dissenting from the prevailing group-think of the last May Meeting.
- Members, ex-members, and children of members and ex-members disenchanted with God because of the darkened view of God’s nature that is promulgated by the church.
- “Biting and devouring” of dissenting members and ex-members in various “witch-hunts” in order to silence dissenters.
- A culture of gossip, evil surmising, and slander against dissenting members and ex-members.
- Very little real Bible knowledge, with a culture of pulling scriptures completely out of context to justify unbiblical doctrines.
The weight of evidence from many, many sources who have experienced these things firsthand is undeniable and crushing. The fruits of this sect have not been the fruits of the Spirit we read about in Galatians 5:
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (KJV)
Instead, we have members being taught the following:
Those that you share a common bond with and like interest, are those that you most likely get along with and are able to share with, when that bond is broke it is because of some out side thing that make breaks up those like interest. IE differences in opinion such as pc or mac, Ford or Chevy.
Opinions and expressing them strongly is what will break that bond of brotherly love. As long as God is leading the way in my life and discussions then things will be alright with me and my brethren.
1) Original Source: http://whatisthedoctrineofchist.blogspot.com/2012/01/brotherly-love.html
2) The above anonymous blog was removed shortly after this article was posted. For several months, the site existed in Google’s cache, but as you can see by the broken link, someone went to great lengths to get it removed from there as well.
3) Fortunately, I anticipated this and saved an archive of the entire site. I wasn’t going to re-publish it, but since I have no other way to reference the material, here’s my own personal archive.
What an ungodly understanding of brotherly love! Having opinions and expressing them strongly are what breaks the bond of brotherly love? Where do you find that in the scriptures? Our bond is based upon what Jesus Christ has mutually done for us, not upon our shared opinions.
Is it any wonder that dissenters and unbelievers feel so little love, and often feel flames of hate, coming from those in the sect? Of course not, it’s to be expected. That’s what they’re taught. Love, to them, is not unconditional, as Jesus lived and taught. Instead, it’s very much conditional: If you’re in step with them on their opinions, “everything will be alright with the brethren.” If not, you better put your flak jacket on. Is this what Jesus and John taught about love?
1 John 4:11-21 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us: 13 hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. 16 And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him. 17 Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, even so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. 21 And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.
Where does this say that love is only for the brothers we agree with? Why is it okay to get out the long knives when we find that a brother doesn’t agree with us on something?
That is not my view of Christlike love, nor of the fruits of the Spirit. As I see it, we ought to be able to see God in our life by the love we express toward God and toward other people, especially those we don’t agree with. It’s easy to love the ones who march in lockstep with our own doctrines, who share our opinions. The true test of the Spirit is whether you love even the unlovable. That’s where the rubber meets the road in Christianity.
As testimonies from numerous sources have shown, the fruits of the Spirit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…these are not a common experience in the church. There is a song that used to be popular in Christian circles:
They will know we are Christians by our love
What fruits to do you see in the church’s 45+ year history? Are the fruits of the Spirit…patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness…evident in everyone’s lives, especially when challenged on anything, or do the knives come out from time to time? Let the record speak for itself.