Posted on Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 10:57 pm:
June 20, 2005
Greetings to all Christians,
After reading some of the postings on www.factnet.org concerning hateful treatment toward many individuals at the hand of Robert A. Grove and the apostate, religious organization he leads, I was prompted to add my story to that of others. My heart was greatly moved by the personal stories of abuse and suffering from the many postings that I read.
Some of the individuals who had written about their experiences I have known personally while there have been many others that I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing. However, I feel a connection with each person who has suffered at the hands of misguided, religious extremists such as Robert A. Grove.
My wife and I (along with our four children) became a part of the Fredericksburg assembly after moving to Virginia for employment and meeting some Christians there in the early 1970s. We had some good times and found that the simplicity of meeting only and simply as Christians had a remarkable appeal. Our association together continued for about 15 years until after Robert A. Grove moved back there and took control. Then the dogmatism and sectarianism previously recognized in a few individuals gradually became institutional as Robert A. Grove came to be the dominant, self-proclaimed leader.
Circumstances were staged to create the appropriate pretexts and fabrications to declare that I was “a proud person and a heretic.” I place that expression in quotes because it is simply an expression Robert A. Grove and his cohorts use to describe those who differ with them and who reject their authority.
It has been about 20 years since we left the Grove apostasy. Leaving that association as we did has been a blessing to us. Our relationship with other Christians, unconstrained by legalism and judgmentalism has been like a breath of fresh air to us. We now feel a oneness with all who have and show forth God’s Spirit without having to confront and indict every perceived difference. It is truly marvelous to be free, really free and to be at peace with others who manifest the fruit of the Spirit of God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I wrote a paper that contains more details and exposes more fully the key errors of the apostate Grove incorporation. It may be found at:
http://www.churchgrowth.cc/content_cult_RAG.htm, and click on my name under Studies, or
http://www.churchgrowth.cc/DavidMcConnellLetter.htm, to access the paper directly.
The paper includes my contact information should you wish to interact more. May the Lord bless you and keep you.
Yours in Christ,
David E. McConnell
Posted on Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 10:49 pm:
When to separate from a religious association (Part 1 of 3)
In prior postings and writings I have alluded to the difficulty (as others have) of knowing when a Christian association has become apostate to the point that continued collective relationship should be discontinued. I’d like to make a few comments about that. Although it has been over 20 years since having any relationship with the assemblies now led and dominated by Robert A. Grove and his appointees, I still have very vivid recollections of my perceptions of those days.
Over thirty-five years ago my family and I encountered and began an association with some Christians back in Virginia who were meeting outside of denominations. I was drawn to them not due to any doctrinal view they espoused, but because they appeared to embody the true freedom that is in Christ. Having grown up mostly in the Baptist denomination, it was refreshing to be free from the guided tour of what the Scriptures teach and to be able to read it for myself. I was glad to consider the views of others in advancing my own understanding, but with the freedom, in the final analysis, to prove for myself what the Scriptures taught. It was that which was so appealing and that prompted me to leave organized religious systems.
During this association that continued for about 15 years, I came to recognize widely varying maturity levels among those that I had association with. Some were very shallow in their understanding and very legalistic in their expectations of others while some seemed to have both maturity and understanding that was beneficial. In time those I judged to be the more worthy were ostracized while those who, in my mind, were among the least esteemed came to dominate the association. Eventually, as individuals that I respected were either silenced or shunned, the picture that came into perspective was that of an association that held to a rigid, institutional view of the Bible similar to that I experienced in organized religious systems.
Posted on Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 10:50 pm:
When to separate from a religious association (Part 2 of 3)
The newer association confused Christian unity with behavioral and doctrinal conformity, even carrying it further to the point that any perceived difference from their institutional norms was cause for confrontation and for judicial action. They distorted the scriptural principles “prove all things” (1st Thessalonians 5:21) and “every joint supplies” (Ephesians 4:16) to conform to their institutional perspectives. Everyone was expected to understand everything the same and to gain approval from their institutional authorities before stating or writing a view that might be at odds with the (current) institutional view.
The scriptural admonition to “prove all things” (1st Thessalonians 5:21) has no meaning when an institutional view may not be questioned. “Through a multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6) has no meaning when an authority figure provides the only acceptable answer. There is no need for a multitude when the only allowed counsel comes from an institutional authority figure. It is precisely because counselors are people, who are not infallible, that having the capability of cross-examining multiple views and insights is not only helpful, it is essential in reaching the truth. Any one alone may not have all truth or insight (authority figure not withstanding). Indeed, the counsel from some counselors may even be wrong or incomplete. Determining the rightness, wrongness, or sufficiency of the counsel is to be determined by the person receiving the counsel. That’s what proving all things is about.
Even wrong counsel concerning behavior or doctrine serves a better purpose than simply relying upon an authority figure or an institutional perspective. This is because even wrong counsel serves as a means of focusing attention so that issues are recognized and may, thereby, be considered. Adopting the authority figure or institutional perspective effectively closes off cross-examination of thought. I prefer the multitude of counselors approach even at the risk of getting wrong counsel on occasion because it is scriptural, and it is more likely to lead to truth than the authority figure and institutional approach.
Posted on Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 10:51 pm:
When to separate from a religious association (Part 3 of 3)
We should be thankful that we each may be lifted through the insight of others. Anyone attempting to close off ideas that they do not agree with is demonstrating great insecurity. They are also demonstrating a great lack of confidence in others, that others can’t judge matters for themselves, and great pride, that they can judge matters for others. This is precisely the attitude that came to characterize the Christian association usurped by Robert A. Grove and his legalistic followers. A legalistic, authority figure based association can only result in retarded spiritual growth because it denies freedom to those who have been set free. (Galatians 5:1)
Along with others, I tried to help by being patient and longsuffering, but that availed for nothing to those wanting to dominate and control others. As I came to see that the legalistic attitudes previously recognized in a few had ultimately become institutional I was left with no alternative, but to separate my family and myself from such a damaging influence and environment. The environment came to be characterized by fear; not fear on the part of those being silenced or being driven out, but fear on the part of the “leadership” fostering legalistic, hypocritical conformity as a counterfeit of Christian unity.
True unity only comes through having and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. Robert A. Grove, Robert D. Harrison and the like have great fear of losing their office and power over others. They fear the open examination of the Scriptures. They have become so warped that they see in the natural desire of all believers to serve others and to share as a coveting of an office—the very thing they are guilty of. So what they have is a religious camp dominated at the top by hypocrisy. During the time Moses led the children of Israel those who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle that was outside the camp. (Exodus 33:7). Likewise, to us the Scriptures admonish, “Let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13)
Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 - 7:00 am:
What is the reproach we are to bear? (Hebrews 13:13). The Lord Jesus was falsely judged by the hypocritical, legalistic Pharisees of having an unclean spirit. The very ones who so completely manifested an unclean spirit were the very ones who were so hateful against Him. They hated Him without a cause. (John 15:25) The unworthy falsely judged the Worthy. Even so today, we should not expect the situation to be different for those walking in the Spirit; the worthy will bear the reproach of the unworthy—the reproach of our Lord Jesus.
Posted on Monday, May 15, 2006 - 10:48 pm:
I would like to illustrate the difference between true Christian unity and false Christian unity—counterfeit unity. Let me give you two illustrations. First consider a piece of chalk. In a piece of chalk, no matter how finely you break it, each part is identical in substance to every other part; there is uniformity throughout.
Now consider a fountain pen. If you disassemble a fountain pen into its parts, you’ll find very dissimilar components. You might find a shinny plastic barrel, a highly refined metal tip, a less refined metal clip, a flexible ink cartridge, and a portion of liquid ink. All of the parts are different in shape, different in mass, different in texture, different in material, different in composition, and different in hue or color. Is there unity in a fountain pen? Absolutely! A fountain pen indeed contains dissimilar parts, but all of the parts support a common function.
The chalk is sameness or conformity, but the pen is Christian unity. No two parts alike, but each part contributing to a common purpose. The pen represents the inherent unity of Christians. The chalk is counterfeit Christian unity; nothing but conformity. Christian unity is not something we get by changing others to meet our image; it is something we have inherently as Christians by having God’s Spirit. However, it is very possible to walk contrary to what we inherently are when through pride we insist that others conform to our image. Rather we are responsible to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3) Requiring that others fit our image counterfeits Christian unity.
We each were created with differences in looks, differences in temperament, differences in abilities, differences in physical strength, differences in mental capacities, differences in artistic talent, differences in recall, differences in emotional expression, differences in language, and differences in dialect among many others. God saw fit to make us each different in many ways. There is never any hint in Scripture that we are all to be like chalk—to use a metaphor (again).
He gave believers one Spirit that we are to walk in the light of. As we do that we’ll have the only kind of unity that God wants us to have all of the differences mentioned not withstanding. The only possible unity among Christians is a unity of differences. We should appreciate those differences and benefit from those differences. A unity of conformity is one of the worst deceptions that ever befell believers and one whose source is pride and arrogance. Let us not fall prey to such a lie. Let us recognize the wisdom of God in making us different. Consider the wisdom of God in making one Bible, but with many diverse parts: psalms, proverbs, letters, history, prophecy,…, poetry, prose, genealogy lists, admonitions, praises, promises, warnings, and so on. Is there no unity since there is so much diversity? It is the diversity that demonstrates the unity! Let it be so with us.
Posted on Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 12:03 am:
Part 1 of 2
I would like to repeat several thoughts previously expressed and add some new ones for your consideration. Some things are sufficiently important that they merit repeating.
It is surely clear to most of you that those in the RAG, Inc. apostasy who covet “leadership” office use shunning, not as a means of helping others, but as a means of instilling and maintaining an atmosphere of legalism and fear. Such an atmosphere opposes open examination of issues—either behavioral or doctrinal. Such an atmosphere is very important to those claiming special insight into what others should do or should believe. The open examination of issues would be a threat to such carnal, covetous individuals. Do they not know that “it is the truth that shall set us free”? (John 8:32) Do they not know that we are to “prove all things”? (1st Thessalonians 5:21)
Anyone attempting to close off ideas that they do not agree with is demonstrating great insecurity. They are also demonstrating a great lack of confidence in others, that others can’t judge matters for themselves, and great pride, that they can judge matters for others. This is precisely the attitude that characterizes the Christian association usurped by Robert A. Grove and his legalistic followers. A legalistic, authority figure based association can only result in retarded spiritual growth because it denies freedom to those who have been set free. (Galatians 5:1) This is very important to keep in mind.
A few years ago I noticed such legalistic attitudes in a few. Today that attitude has become institutional in the RAG, Inc. apostasy as it continues to foster legalistic, hypocritical conformity as a counterfeit of Christian unity. We should keep clearly in mind that true unity comes only through having and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. It is a natural product of believing the gospel that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3,4) Anyone who truly believes that has a unity with all others who truly believe it. It is not an intellectual belief, it is a deeply moral belief that transcends the intellectual. Having Christian unity does not require having the same intellectual understanding regarding either behavior or doctrine; it requires only having the Spirit of Christ that comes through (need I say, truly) believing the gospel.
Posted on Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 6:42 am:
Part 2 of 2
I saw even years back that some individuals viewed “marking” and “avoiding” as the answer to all issues. They saw all failure to comply with their judgments as rebellion against God. Even in rare situations that justified individuals be avoided, it did not seem appropriate to me to invoke “domino markings.” Should we avoid someone who is weak and without the strength to avoid a son or daughter; a mother or a father—should such be simply cast out? I think not. I know not. Such a practice confounds weakness with rebellion. The practice of “domino marking” could only lead to such a situation as we now see: a travesty of justice, fairness, and Christian benevolence. It is impossible to know who, if any, have been avoided for sound reasons and who have been avoided simply because they were weak or because they were strong and valiantly opposed injustice. In such a camp as the RAG, Inc. apostasy, the testimony of the camp should count for nothing, but be deemed entirely suspect. The judgment of the so-called “leadership” is manifestly reprobate. "Domino markings" are defended through twisting and distorting the Scriptures.
What RAG, Inc. and those affiliated with it are building is not in accord with the Scriptures, it is not what God is building. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1) What RAG, Inc. is building is a religious camp dominated at the top by hypocrisy, pride and arrogance.
Return to Navigation