9Marks Attempting “Brand Enhancement”

By | September 18, 2016

Update: As of September 23, 2016, the brave leaders of 9Marx have removed all comments from Jonathan Leeman’s 9Marx article! I had a screen shot of 2 comments, which you can find at the end of this article.
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“Across the country, parishioners are now being challenged to take oaths, perform vows and sign covenants. These things would have been unheard of in generations past for one simple reason. These things used to be forbidden, or only permitted under the gravest of circumstances. A few decades ago churches founded their beliefs sturdily upon the rocks of historical creeds, documents that have withstood the test of time and human whim, and which have imparted to each new generation an understanding of the major tenets of the Gospel faith. Now, in our latter days of dumbed-down Christianity, a minimal number of people in the pews know the creeds, have studied them, or even know about them!

…Oaths and covenants are a new form of legalism entering the church like a flood. They require more of us than Scripture requires. It is a horrible new form of bondage, accomplished in the name of a new church for the 21st century. This is a “transformation” not a “reformation.” It would return the church to the dark ages of oppressive State Church. This movement did not arise from God, but from the rapacious desires of evil men.

There is a signature line and a date at the bottom of these covenants for people to sign, indicating their commitment to abide by this new church structure. Some churches require that their members sign the covenant yearly. Others only require it upon membership.

If you have been caught up in this whole extravaganza and are marching in this parade, it is time to slow down, stop and reflect. If you have taken an oath to one of these new covenants, you can repent. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ does not require so much of us.”
The Shepherding Movement Comes of Age” by Lynn and Sarah Leslie. 

“9Marks Ministries is excellent at training pastors to use cloak and dagger techniques to “reform” existing churches because they have come to be experts in the field….On the surface, 9Markers presents acceptable Christian principals, but to be fooled you must pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

9Marks Leadership Linked to Calvinism,” – Churchfight.com blog

2016-05-12 10th Mark of a Healthy Church is no conscience

It is evident that the 9Marx parachurch organization has been experiencing an increasing amount of push-back by the proletariat; well deserved I might add. Victims of their heavy-handed, authoritarian abuses (of which I number myself) are taking to social media in ever-increasing numbers to let their fellow pew-sitters hear about the outrageous abuses they have suffered in churches who have implemented the 9Marx manifesto. The video above was a made to advertise a break-out session at the T4G 2016 conference held this past April in Louisville.  The conference marked C.J. Mahaney’s return to big time “Christian” celebrity status and it attracted around 10,000 individuals, many of them pastors. Most of the conference-goers demonstrated no concern that Mahaney, credibly charged with blackmail and covering-up sexual abuse of children in his denomination, was returned to the stage with the blessing and aid of the celebrity preachers they all idolize.  9Marx leader Mark Dever and his trusty lieutenant, Jonathan Leeman, saw this as a perfect chance to indoctrinate the pliable young preachers into the 9Marx way while reassuring them that the horror stories of abuse they may have heard about were simply errors of  a few overzealous young preachers who lacked wisdom. (One might rightly wonder what this says about Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, ground zero for 9Marx indoctrination, and the institution of choice for many Mark Dever wannabees.) I give credit to Dever and Leeman for their video. They engage their critics head-on in the folksy, disarming manner that Dever is known for.

There is one problem with Dever’s narrative; the abusive, heavy-handed authoritarian mannerisms prevalent among some 9Marx pastors cannot be relegated solely to the young and inexperienced.

I quit United Christian Church of Dubai over matters of conscience. One major takeaway I gained from my time at the 9Marx United Christian Church of Dubai is that I will never again join a church that requires a “membership contract” or “membership covenant.”  You will find these covenants are being pushed by 9Marx and are becoming ever more prevalent among evangelical churches.  I do not believe that they can be justified biblically. The main purpose of these contracts seems to be to discipline members who have fallen out of the good graces of church leaders.  They particularly like to utilize the clause “We will, when we move from this place, as soon as possible unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.” I have had this used against me when I quit UCCD.  UCCD church leadership did not want to remove me from their membership roster because I chose to attend an Anglican church.  I was told by a UCCD elder that the Rector of the local Anglican church was not even a Christian and therefore I was not in compliance with this clause!

In the end, common sense prevailed and they backed down from this crazy accusation.  However, I have another friend who asked to be removed from the membership roster of UCCD because he no longer believed the institutional church model was biblically correct.  He chose to go to a home church.  It boiled down to an issue of conscience.  UCCD excommunicated him, essentially proclaiming they have the right to bind a man’s conscience.

The senior pastor of UCCD is not some young, inexperienced man. I would guess he is in his late forties, a former lawyer who worked for a powerful North Carolina Senator. He was converted by the direct efforts of Mark Dever, went to SBTS to obtain his M.Div and then returned to Capitol Hill Baptist Church where he served as an assistant pastor under Mark Dever for several years prior to accepting the senior pastor’s job in Dubai. Dr. Albert Mohler gave him an award for distinguished work as an SBTS graduate. He remains good friends with Mark Dever, talks to him frequently and has had him in Dubai on three or four occasions for seminars. All this to say that Dever’s characterization of problematic 9Marx pastors does not reside solely with the young, over-enthusiastic pastors short on life experience.  I, therefore, conclude there must be something systemically wrong with 9Marx teachings, particularly as it relates to church membership and discipline.

We are now six months removed from the T4G conference and the break-out session Dever and Leeman conducted on 9Marx doctrines. It would appear that many pastors who subscribe to the 9Marx doctrines are still not getting it right, as stories of abuse continue to surface. The 9Marx moniker seems to be gaining usage among the proletariat while the official 9Marks moniker is losing respect.  Time for Dever’s lieutenant, Jonathan Leeman, to spring back into action and attempt some “brand enhancement.”

This brings me to the impetus for today’s blog. As one who has been combatting both physical and spiritual abuse in the evangelical church, I have been privileged to make many new friends. Many of them are victims and/or family members of victims. One such woman wrote a book review on Amazon’s website on  Mark Dever’s “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church.” Below is a screen shot of her review.
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In theory, 9 Marks seemed like a viable plan for how a church should be run. I was a member of a 9 Marks church in Northern California, which I will never do again. In practice, 9 Marks creates an insufferable, authoritarian, rigid, legalistic, abusive, controlling, spiritually abusive church. Adult members are infantilized and have no say in the running of the church, power is concentrated at the top (and the leaders, pastors/elders have no one to make them tow the line), and legitimate questions to church authorities are punished with threats of being factious, deceived, unsaved, and finally with excommunication and shunning (akin to the Salem Witch Trials). “Church Discipline” is applied capriciously and to dissenters. A godly doctor at my church (married for 40+ years) was ordered to be excommunicated and shunned for raising legitimate questions to the pastors/elders about how the church was being run. It was heartbreaking and evil. He had done no moral wrong. Next, I was ordered excommunicated and shunned where I had been a member for 8+ years. My “crime”? I’d discovered a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List in our church while I was doing research for a prosecutor. My pastors/elders will not protect children from him, said he’s “harmless”, and did not tell all adults. They said he was “coming off Megan’s List”; the California Attorney General called that “total lies”.

Many of Dever’s own former church members, on the internet, have said that they were placed under “church discipline” and ordered to be excommunicated and shunned because they simply wanted to leave CHBC and CHBC wouldn’t let them. Dever has been crticized for giving shelter to Pastor CJ Mahaney instead of having him ‘face the music’ about the horrific abuses in his own congregation. After 9 Marks, you will need to buy a book on spiritual abuse, like The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen or Healing Spiritual Abuse by Ken Blue.

Note: I bought the earlier edition of this 9 Marks book.

Note: For a full description of what Grace experienced at her 9Marx church check out her blog here.

I would say she went easy on her ex-church.  She discovered a convicted sex offender is attending the church and questions why the pastors and elders have not brought this to the attention of the adults.  Their response is outrageous! They lie to her, saying he is harmless and coming off Megan’s list, refuse to alert the membership to the perverts presence, and then excommunicate her.  Are you kidding me?  They should be sued for reckless endangerment of  church members.  As a minimum, all the men who took part in this travesty of justice should be removed from their positions. This is not easy to do in a 9Marx, elder led church. Typically the senior pastor surrounds himself with a pack of yes-men for elders and the congregation has an impossible task of removing the tyrant.  This being the case the godly members have two options, walk away from their church or cease financial support.

Remember, in the video above, Dever and Leeman are attempting to sell us the narrative that the abusive leadership style is just with a few young, overly enthusiastic pastors.  Grace’s pastor, like mine, was in his late forties.

Leeman utilizes this book review as a teaching moment for the 9Marx faithful, after all, in the video above he states “We’re all going to be in a kind of a learning process about how to do these things well, and I think this is just a part of the growth process for all of us.” Dever then chimes in with a “Yeah, amen.”  Aside from the troubling fact that 9Marx church members are relegated to the status of lab rats while the 9Marx boys are engaged in their learning process, what type of learning process is required to know that, as a pastor, you must warn church members of a convicted sex offender in their midst?  If you don’t understand that you have no business being a pastor.

We suffer no shortage of men in the ministry that are sorely lacking any real world experience. Also sorely lacking is a lick of common sense. They have spent their lives in academia and once they graduate they want to write books and speak at conferences telling us how it’s all to be done.

“Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers.”  That’s Jesus speaking, not me. Check it out – Luke 11:46

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s examine what Leeman has to say. Below is a screen shot from his article.  I suggest you read the article, which can be found here.

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Let me begin with the positive.  The following are some comments Leeman made that I readily agree with.

“Something I appreciate about Mark Dever is that he’s not short on strong opinions, but if you spend any time with him, you’ll discover that he is one of the stronger advocates of Christian freedom I know. I’d even say he cultivates a sanctified irreverence toward so many evangelical false pieties. We’d do well to do the same.”

I like guys with strong opinions, I acknowledged this in an article I wrote two years ago concerning Dever’s views on baptism. Glad to hear he cultivates a sanctified irreverence toward so many evangelical false pieties. I don’t need to do much cultivating, mine are pretty much thriving!

“We want to cultivate the humility and freedom of honest uncertainty. The person who has difficulty saying, “I don’t know,” in the best case, will just come across as a know-it-all. In the worse case, they will give answers where Scripture doesn’t actually give them, and impose on people what should not be imposed.”

I wonder if Leeman gardens as a hobby?  He seems to like to cultivate! I agree with the statement above, just not sure I see much uncertainty emanating from 9Marx.

“The abusive use of authority, as much as anything, is about wanting control and respect. It roots in a kind of idolatry and godlessness.”

True statement. I and hundreds of others who formerly attended 9Marx churches can testify to this.

“Mark 10: Beware of giving more authority to your heroes than to the Bible.”

Amen to that Mr. Leeman. I know of at least 10,000 pastors that need to “cultivate” this truth.

John MacArthur at the 2016 T4G conference, surrounded by his worshippers.

John MacArthur at the 2016 T4G conference, surrounded by his worshippers.

 

“There’s a temptation young pastors and 9Marks-types are susceptible to: we can love our vision of what a church should be more than we love the people who comprise it.”

Yep, again, hundreds of hurting, abused former 9Marx members will attest to this fact.  This may be a good place to insert another 9Marx horror story that I have knowledge of.  A small baptist church I attended prior to moving to Dubai was doing well. There were about 150 members. After I had moved to Dubai the pastor left for a bigger church.  He was replaced by a young 9Marx devotee who shortly thereafter brought in an assistant pastor who was rabidly 9Marx. Within about 2 years they managed to decimate the church. Many people left, many deeply hurt.  Membership is now 25-30 people. The two pastors have moved on, where they can continue their learning curve at some other unfortunate church’s expense.  My old church is struggling to keep the doors open.

The following statements I have issues with.

“Anecdotally, most (or all?) of the unfortunate cases of church discipline I have heard about in recent years have occurred in non-congregational churches, where the elders are free to impose their will on the congregation. I’m sure congregational churches have failed in this area as well.”

I  disagree with you on this Mr. Leeman. Most I have heard about, including the two I have personal knowledge of, are congregational.  Of course, the definition of “congregational” varies greatly.  Your friend at UCCD claims to be congregational, but in reality, it is  (to quote a former member in my care group) a “benevolent dictatorship.” This from a guy who sincerely loved the pastor, but he called a spade a spade. At the time I agreed with his assessment, but I would now drop the first word of the two-word description.

“I don’t often hear criticism with language this strong; maybe one or two other times.”

I am not surprised Mr. Leeman.  You need to get out more.  Seriously, though, I would guess you spend the majority of your time with guys who treat you like MacArthur is treated above.  Additionally, many in your tribe don’t want to hear from people like me on social media. Tim Challies no longer allows comments on his blog. Albert Mohler probably never did.  And then there is this:

 

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Note: Check out this post to see why Thabiti Anyabwile blocked me. (Anyabwile is a Gospel Coalition Council member , frequent speaker at T4G conferences, and served as an assistant pastor under Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He now is senior pastor at Anacostia River Church.)

“We should be very reluctant to require anything not expressly set down in Scripture. For instance, the leaders of the Shepherding Movement of the 1970s were rightly concerned about the weak commitment, shallow community, and general worldliness characteristic of so many American churches. But they wrongly required things not required by Scripture, such as membership in a house-group or having life-decisions “covered” by their But they wrongly required things not required by Scripture, such as membership in a house-group or having life-decisions “covered” by their house-group leader, elder, or pastor. Decisions to be covered included where to live and work, whom to marry, or even whether to make a doctor’s appointment. They also adopted other unbiblical authority structures.

Now, you and I might disagree about what Scripture requires. Fine. But let’s agree that’s the standard.

Admittedly, a church might require a few things unspecified by Scripture. Our church requires membership classes and interviews and signing a statement of faith to join the church, for instance. It’s our judgment that these are prudential forms for implementing the biblical element of church membership. You have to adopt some form, after all. The Bible doesn’t quite say how to join a church. But beyond these few things, I cannot think of anything else we require not required in Scripture.”

Herein lies the crux of the matter Mr. Leeman. You and I agree that the standard is what Scripture requires. I also agree with your statement that “we should be very reluctant to require anything not expressly set down in Scripture.”  Your membership classes and membership contracts are very hard to justify Scripturally, I am of the opinion that they cannot be justified.  I would even say formal church membership in a local church cannot be justified. Membership contracts along with the misapplication of church discipline are where the majority of the problems within 9Marx churches originate.

A friend of mine wrote the paragraphs below.  He states much more eloquently than I could ever hope to do, the problems with church covenants/contracts.

“I’m not aware of a single instance in scripture where there is a covenant between individual men, whether monopleuric or dipleuric, that results in these men uniting and functioning as the people of God, worshiping in spirit and in truth.  The efforts to justify this practice scripturally are so poor in hermeneutical principal that it baffles the mind.  One of the primary justifications for this practice was the appointment of deacons, in Acts, to properly minister to the church’s widows in Jerusalem. The argument is that because they could identify the widows, this implies church membership; therefore membership is biblical and necessarily implies a man-made agreement. Additional arguments of a similar vein will be used (the appointment of elders, the expulsion of the sinner in first Corinthians, etc.). Each of these arguments requires a quantum leap in hermeneutics and exegesis that borders on the ridiculous.  All other attempts that I’ve seen as justifying this practice scripturally are equally unsupportable by any acceptable hermeneutical method.  I firmly believe that this is a fleshly attempt at making “covenant members” fulfill their biblical responsibilities towards one another and towards the lost world in which they live by working towards the pastor’s vision.  It is akin to the Judaizers in Galatians requiring circumcision, with even less justification, because there was at least a way to use the Old Testament scriptures to attempt to justify that practice.    No such scriptures exist that can be misapplied to justify this practice.  The true children of Abraham, the true circumcision, the true Israel, the true children of God will worship in spirit and truth through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, by God’s sovereign design out of a changed and thankful heart.

In my research of the current emphasis on the accusation of radical individualism if one dares question leadership’s strategy or disagrees in matters of conscience in the practice of one’s faith and the disturbing trend of many churches to require a membership contract as if somehow this will eradicate the dreaded individualism and enforce community, I’ve found two constants:

  1. Roman Catholic literature is filled with the similar terminology and consistently emphasizes the idea that the Reformation and the Reformers individualized the nature of faith, conscience, and practice; it considers this as an attack on the true nature of the church and as detrimental to the true practice of Christianity: a Christianity that they define as a faith that is wholly centered in and subject to the authority of the centralized church and its traditions.
  2. The same ideas and terminology are found throughout Marxist/Communist literature and in this literature, individualism is a detriment to the healthy function of a society and results in capitalism and greed.  Oh, and by the way, anyone who dares question the decisions of leadership in these systems are purged as well (run over by the bus?).

It appears to me that radical individualism/narcissism has been confused with the individualism of the reformers: Christians who dare use their mind, study the scriptures, the church fathers, and writings of old, daring to be the Berean, asking questions of authoritarian leadership when they are operating outside of scripture in faith and practice. It’s as if they are undoing the reformation, not by reuniting with Roman Catholicism, but by creating a new centralized, authoritative structure where pastors are “little popes” who speak ex-cathedra and establish divine direction and practice for the congregants.”
“Covenants, Contracts, Community, Catholicism, Communism and Extra-biblical Visions (or The Shepherding Movement: Alive and Well in 2014), solafivereformed blog, August 21, 2014

Below is a screen shot of two of the comments removed from the 9Marks website.  Typical of the M.O. of these boys. They cannot allow free discussion of ideas, but must be in control at all times.  When they don’t like the conversation they delete it.  This is a perfect example of how their authoritative, controlling culture starts at the very top of the organization.

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Additional Information:

Five Reasons to Say “No” to a Church Covenant

Is 9Marks the New Shepherding Movement?

9Marx Experiencing Pushback

Spiritual Abuse Masked as Spiritual Authority

39 thoughts on “9Marks Attempting “Brand Enhancement”

  1. Janna L. Chan (team member)

    Those are some interesting comments on Twitter, Mr. Leeman. Do you think that the 9Marks fans who comment on this blog, anonymously, are behaving irresponsibly/sinning?

    If so, will you subject them to Church discipline for sinning against others? If not, why not?

    Are you aware that most people publish comments anonymously on public blogs, so you should not/probably would not find such behavior strange or offensive if you spent more time outside your denomination’s bubble and got into the real world more often, as Jesus said we should?

    Do you know that many current or former members of your 9Marks cult/denomination are afraid to speak out publicly because some 9 Marks Churches have a long and documented history of stalking and harassing people who attempt to leave your fold/denomination/cult? If so, can you blame them for posting on your site anonymously?

    And Dee Parsons is right – obviously there’s no way to tell if people on a public blog are using their real names. Therefore your argument about deleting anonymous comments on principle is silly.

    If you can’t handle getting feedback about what you write, Mr. Leeman, that’s fine. Close your comments section but please don’t waste other people’s time by allowing folks to post thoughtful commentary and then deleting the messages they took the time to post.

    In other words, perhaps you should consider acting like an adult. Not necessarily a Christian adult, mind you. Just someone over the age of 18 who has a modicum of common sense and acts with some level of dignity and integrity.

    Thanks!

    Janna L. Chan (my real name)

    Reply
  2. Janna L. Chan (team member)

    Lots of new and returning visitors today! If you want to keep up with Thou Art The Man, please sign-up for blog updates using the form on the right side of the page under the Sucuri Security Badge.

    You will only receive an e-mail when new posts are published. Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Janna L. Chan (team member)

    Hi Guys:

    Janna here! Yes, I just want to clarify that I could only find a copy of the comments, on the 9 Marks article in question, through Sept. 17, 2016. I believe that the article was taken down on Sept. 22 or Sept. 23, so any comments posted between that time-frame aren’t listed on the page Todd is pointing everyone toward.

    Unfortunately, there’s also no way to “extend” the longer comments that the screenshot does not show. The good news is that we have evidence that most of the comments were thoughtful, not abusive. Therefore, 9 Marks should not have erased them if they’re claiming to possess any intellectual or moral integrity, regarding their blogging habits, in my view.

    Thanks all for your support of this blog!

    Reply
  4. Velour

    Information on Thought Reform, like what 9 Marx and other authoritarian groups use.
    https://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php

    Steven Hassan’s BITE Model of Cult Mind Control
    Many people think of mind control as an ambiguous, mystical process that cannot be defined in concrete terms. In reality, mind control refers to a specific set of methods and techniques, such as hypnosis or thought- stopping, that influence how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Like many bodies of knowledge, it is not inherently good or evil. If mind control techniques are used to empower an individual to have more choice, and authority for his life remains within himself, the effects can be beneficial. For example, benevolent mind control can be used to help people quit smoking without affecting any other behavior. Mind control becomes destructive when the locus of control is external and it is used to undermine a person’s ability to think and act independently.

    As employed by the most destructive cults, mind control seeks nothing less than to disrupt an individual’s authentic identity and reconstruct it in the image of the cult leader. I developed the BITE model to help people determine whether or not a group is practicing destructive mind control. The BITE model helps people understand how cults suppress individual member’s uniqueness and creativity. BITE stands for the cult’s control of an individual’s Behavior, Intellect, Thoughts, and Emotions.

    It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mindcontrolled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.

    We are all subject to influence from our parents, friends, teachers, co-workers… When this influence helps someone grow and maintain an internal locus of control, it is healthy. Influence which is used to keep people mindless and dependent is unhealthy. To download a PDF of the Influence Continuum graphic, click here.
    Destructive mind control is not just used by cults. Learn about the Human Trafficking BITE Model and the Terrorism BITE Model.

    The BITE Model
    I. Behavior Control
    II. Information Control
    III. Thought Control
    IV. Emotional Control
    Behavior Control

    1. Regulate individual’s physical reality
    2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
    3. When, how and with whom the member has sex
    4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles
    5. Regulate diet – food and drink, hunger and/or fasting
    6. Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
    7. Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence
    8. Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
    9. Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the Internet
    10. Permission required for major decisions
    11. Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors
    12. Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
    13. Discourage individualism, encourage group-think
    14. Impose rigid rules and regulations
    15. Instill dependency and obedience
    16. Threaten harm to family and friends
    17. Force individual to rape or be raped
    18. Instill dependency and obedience
    19. Encourage and engage in corporal punishment
    Information Control

    1. Deception:
    a. Deliberately withhold information
    b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
    c. Systematically lie to the cult member
    2. Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
    a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
    b.Critical information
    c. Former members
    d. Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
    e. Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking
    3. Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
    a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
    b.Control information at different levels and missions within group
    c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
    4. Encourage spying on other members
    a. Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member
    b.Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership
    c. Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
    5. Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
    a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other media
    b.Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
    6. Unethical use of confession
    a. Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
    b. Withholding forgiveness or absolution
    c. Manipulation of memory, possible false memories
    Thought Control

    1. Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
    a. Adopting the group’s ‘map of reality’ as reality
    b. Instill black and white thinking
    c. Decide between good vs. evil
    d. Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
    2.Change person’s name and identity
    3. Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words
    4. Encourage only ‘good and proper’ thoughts
    5. Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking and even to age regress the member
    6. Memories are manipulated and false memories are created
    7. Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts and allowing only positive thoughts, including:
    a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
    b. Chanting
    c. Meditating
    d. Praying
    e. Speaking in tongues
    f. Singing or humming
    8. Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
    9. Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
    10. Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful
    Emotional Control

    1. Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish
    2. Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt
    3. Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
    4. Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as
    a. Identity guilt
    b. You are not living up to your potential
    c. Your family is deficient
    d. Your past is suspect
    e. Your affiliations are unwise
    f. Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
    g. Social guilt
    h. Historical guilt
    5. Instill fear, such as fear of:
    a. Thinking independently
    b. The outside world
    c. Enemies
    d. Losing one’s salvation
    e. Leaving or being shunned by the group
    f. Other’s disapproval
    6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner
    7. Ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
    8. Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
    a. No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
    b. Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
    c. Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family
    d. Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
    e. Threats of harm to ex-member and family

    Reply
    1. Velour

      It seems that Todd’s partner has been able to retrieve a link with the comments that 9 Marx has suppressed. I have been waiting for 9 Marx to scrub the internet all week. Adult discussions aren’t permitted in their circles.
      So this comes as no surprise to me.

      I also posted the link on The Wartburg Watch and the deleted comments. Even though it says 0 comments if you click on it you can see all of the comments. I also posted them on the deleted comments section of TWW.

      Thanks for the heads up. Leeman wrote that story about my bad church experience and I’m the one who wrote the Amazon review.

      Reply
      1. 2samuel127 Post author

        Thanks, Velour. I am not surprised either. Leeman has done what 9Marx leaders always do when faced with uncomfortable truths – they delete comments. I am writing a blog right now to expose his cowardice and dishonesty. He should resign from his position of eldership immediately as he clearly does not meet biblical requirements for the job.

        As you stated, thanks to my blog partner Janna for locating the deleted comments. Here is the link. Click on the “0 Comments” section to see all the comments which were deleted. My new blog post will also have all of them.

        https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wPn2s9xNhI8J:https://9marks.org/article/dont-be-a-9marxist/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

        People need to cease their support of the 9Marks parachurch organization. Churches should be asked to be removed from the 9Marks church directory. (The church I formerly attended was ruined by 2 9Marks pastors and they have just requested their name be taken off the directory.) Good for them. (The church secretary and church members had no idea they were on the list until I alerted them to the fact.) Many more should follow suit.

        Reply
  5. A. Amos Love

    Hi Todd – Here is what I was about to post…
    Are WE, His Sheep, His Ekklesia, allowed to have this much fun?
    …………….

    Jonathan

    I have an idea…

    If 9Marks really wants elder/overseers, churches, who follow their teaching…
    To achieve the ideal of -“NOT being a 9Marxist.”
    “NOT being a church leader who abuses authority.”

    Maybe you need to know…
    If the 79 churches listed on your “Church Search” page…
    Are actually – NOT being a 9Marxist.”
    “NOT being a church leader who abuses authority.”

    I have an idea… “Here I am, send me.” To be a “Mystery Shopper.”

    I’ll visit, spend some time with the elders…
    Go through their “Chuch Membership” class…
    Inteview ex-members to determine, if why they left…
    Was because of a “church leader who abuses authority.”
    Was because elders do NOT meet the Qualifications in 1 Tim 3 and Titus.

    I’ll check out their “Chuch Membership” covenant they ask folks to sign…
    And make sure it is fair to all parties concerned…
    Both pastors in pulpits and people in pews…

    And “Generally” make sure they are, “NOT being a 9Marxist.”

    If they are “being a 9Marxist” I’ll make a report back to you, 9 Marks.
    And you can deal with them based on Your Authority.

    We can arrange for, negotiate, a proper ‘Compensation Package”

    After I visit Capitol Hill Baptist Church…
    And give you a FREE report about your elders…
    And make sure CHBC is “NOT being a 9Marxist.”
    And the elders are, “NOT being a church leader who abuses authority.”

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Thanks A.Amos. I have spread the news on Twitter. These authoritarian leaders have got to go. John Folmar, pastor at United Christian Church of Dubai, obviously learned from the “best” in regards to deleting comments. He went to even greater measures to silence me. You can read about it on this blog in the “About” section.

      Reply
  6. fiveonly

    The only way anyone would know that they were affiliated with the SBC would be the mission support, and even then it only showed up in the budget numbers that they released. As most know, these days it isn’t cool to identify with a specific denomination because millennials might be uncomfortable with traditional denominations.

    Even though I’m not a paedobaptist, I now attend a small, PCA church with a humble, low key pastor who stands out front every Sunday morning and greets every single person who walks out the door after the service. He’s a converted Jew who is probably the kindest, gentlest, most humble man that I know and truly makes every effort to be a loving shepherd. He’s not in in for the money either, he makes $57K a year in a city where the median home value is $691. Even with his housing allowance, which is relatively meager, he can’t afford to live in the city where he pastors. I’m sure that the church would pay him more but he doesn’t seem to be interested in raising his income, he would rather have the church invest their money in other ways.

    Reply
  7. Lydia

    I ditto Max! Congrats for being excommunicated from a thought reform cult! Wear it as a badge of honor.

    Reply
    1. A. Amos Love

      Velour

      Great Review of the 9Marxists.
      You even got Jonathan Leeman to address your book review. 😉
      ———–

      And – Velour – Todd – Anybody

      Was just about to post another comment when…

      Don’t know for sure –
      But for me the Comments section at 9 Marks just disappeared. 12:50pm EST

      Yeah – NO more comments – ALL the comments on ALL the articles – GONE.

      Maybe someone can check it out from your computer?

      Thanks

      Reply
      1. 2samuel127 Post author

        I just checked, you are correct A. Amos. All comments removed. I have a screen shot of two of them, one being mine. And they wonder why they are called 9Marx.

        Reply
          1. 2samuel127 Post author

            A bug – yes, one of the cockroaches that edits the 9Marx blog, undoubtedly operating under direct orders from Dever/Leeman. Dee from The Wartburg Watch said they also removed negative comments on their article about prosperity churches being the source of authoritarian preachers!

      2. Velour

        Thanks, Amos.

        Many people, myself included, are shocked that 9 Marks even reads Amazon reviews, let alone negative reviews.

        Because of all of the scrubbing of my reviews, including my ex-pastor’s books on Amazon (he’s the guy with the diploma mill Ph.D. for $299 and another fake advanced degree), I recently started blogging about the spiritually abusive Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley.

        Todd’s partner Janna was able to find this link to the 9 Marx comments. Even though it says “O”, if you click on it you can retrieve the comments. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wPn2s9xNhI8J:https://9marks.org/article/dont-be-a-9marxist/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

        I posted these over on The Wartburg Watch.

        Ken F. noted that this is the first 9 Marks article that has gotten a lot of traffic. Most get none.

        Reply
        1. 2samuel127 Post author

          >Ken F. noted that this is the first 9 Marks article that has gotten a lot of traffic. Most get none.< That's the way Leeman/Dever like it. Accept unquestioning whatever they spew out.

          Reply
  8. Bill M

    Chicken or egg, whether 9Marks produces authoritarian pastors or attracts them there is certainly a strong correlation. Unfortunately a 9Marks church just popped up in my locale that I will keeping an eye on. Too much power breeds corruption and abuse, and 9Marks continual emphasis on their authority and our submission is ready made for tyrants.

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Thanks Grace, I updated your review so it can be read easier on the site.

      Reply
  9. Velour

    Hi Todd,
    Thanks for writing this story about me (“Grace” on Amazon reviews). Many of us didn’t realize that 9 Marks read Amazon reviews.

    Here is my Amazon book review for 9 Marks of a [un] Healthy Church again for those that have a hard time reading the fine print of screen shots.

    “In practice 9 Marks is Like the Salem Witch Trials”
    “In theory, 9 Marks seemed like a viable plan for how a church should be run. I was a member of a 9 Marks church in Northern California, which I will never do again. In practice, 9 Marks creates an insufferable, authoritarian, rigid, legalistic, abusive, controlling, spiritually abusive church. Adult members are infantilized and have no say in the running of the church, power is concentrated at the top (and the leaders, pastors/elders have no one to make them tow the line), and legitimate questions to church authorities are punished with threats of being factious, deceived, unsaved, and finally with excommunication and shunning (akin to the Salem Witch Trials). “Church Discipline” is applied capriciously and to dissenters. A godly doctor at my church (married for 40+ years) was ordered to be excommunicated and shunned for raising legitimate questions to the pastors/elders about how the church was being run. It was heartbreaking and evil. He had done no moral wrong. Next, I was ordered excommunicated and shunned where I had been a member for 8+ years. My “crime”? I’d discovered a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List in our church while I was doing research for a prosecutor. My pastors/elders will not protect children from him, said he’s “harmless”, and did not tell all adults. They said he was “coming off Megan’s List”; the California Attorney General called that “total lies”.

    Many of Dever’s own former church members, on the internet, have said that they were placed under “church discipline” and ordered to be excommunicated and shunned because they simply wanted to leave CHBC and CHBC wouldn’t let them. Dever has been crticized for giving shelter to Pastor CJ Mahaney instead of having him ‘face the music’ about the horrific abuses in his own congregation. After 9 Marks, you will need to buy a book on spiritual abuse, like The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen or Healing Spiritual Abuse by Ken Blue.

    Note: I bought the earlier edition of this 9 Marks book.”

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Thanks Grace. I am going to attempt to redo that screen capture tomorrow because it is too hard to read. Middle of the night here and I need some sleep!

      Reply
    2. Velour

      Since I am the 1-star Amazon reviewer (“Grace”) that Jonathan Leeman is quoting, here is the new blog that I started about my former 9 Marks church, Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, located in California’s Silicon Valley. https://gbfsvchurchabuse.org/

      Reply
  10. Shy1

    I agree with all my heart to this whole post. I have come to identify all of these neo-Calvinist, T4G groups by their love for authority. I was reading the passage this morning where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and it really hit me, so many have no idea of the true Jesus. No idea whatsoever.

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Very cool, Shy1. I love reading the Gospels. I marvel at the things Jesus said and did. I don’t contemplate them (or Him) enough.

      Reply
  11. fiveonly

    Jonathan Leeman said:

    “We should be very reluctant to require anything not expressly set down in Scripture. For instance, the leaders of the Shepherding Movement of the 1970s…wrongly required things not required by Scripture, such as membership in a house-group…”

    then he completely contradicts himself:

    “…Admittedly, a church might require a few things unspecified by Scripture. Our church requires membership classes and interviews and signing a statement of faith to join the church, for instance. It’s our judgment that these are prudential forms for implementing the biblical element of church membership.”

    This is commonly referred to as double speak or speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth. This guy is truly unbelievable. What he’s really saying is that he and his buddies know so much more than the rest of us that it’s perfectly acceptable for them to “require things not required by Scripture” or as he tries to rephrase it “…a church might require a few things unspecified by Scripture.”
    How is “unspecified” any different than “not required”?

    Oh, by the way, the church where I was excommunicated, The Village Church (yes, the same Matt Chandler and The Village Church that horribly abused Karen Hinkley), not only requires that “covenant members” sing the covenant every year, but also requires that all covenant members be members of a house group. It’s specifically stated in the contract. Guess which book they recommend you read for their membership class? You guessed it, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.

    Oh, by the way, Chandler is the president of Acts 29 and of course, The Village Church is a member of Acts 29. Is it my imagination or are all the latest sexual abuse scandals occurring at Acts 29 churches?

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Hey fiveonly,
      I didn’t know you have been excommunicated! (Perhaps you had told me, but I forgot.) No wonder I like you.
      Acts 29 has definitely had some problems. Lots of churches to avoid these days. All SGM churches, all 9Marx churches, all Acts 29 churches. No wonder there are so many dones.
      Thanks for highlighting Leeman’s double speak. I felt like counting the number of times in his article he told us how great Dever is, but blatant brown-nosing seems to work with these guys.

      Reply
      1. fiveonly

        Yep, although they cut straight to the chase with me. I wasn’t a covenant member because I refused to sign the contract until someone was willing to address the concerns that I had raised. I was attending a “home group” and there arose a disagreement with the home group leader. To make a long story short, since they really couldn’t publicly humiliate me in front of the church, they had an associate pastor send me an email telling kicking me out and telling me to go think for myself some place else. I was told adios by the home group and then they lied to the home group members & told them that I had decided to go to a different church because of theological differences. Great folks, the Acts 29 people.

        Reply
        1. Max

          Congratulations re: excommunication from TVC! I’m sure it was an agonizing experience at the time, but over the long run it was the best thing for your spiritual health.

          Reply
    2. Max

      “The Village Church is a member of Acts 29”

      Just curious, fiveonly … during your time at TVC, was it clear that the church was also affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention? Or was Acts 29 emphasized over SBC?

      Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Ha! Good point Stan. Let’s just say I’m cultivating niceness! I need a lot of fertilizer.

      Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Did you notice the blog was an ESV free zone? I used the Holman translation for my one quote.

      Reply
      1. Max

        “an ESV free zone”

        I love that! Perhaps more folks in cyberspace will use this label, in an additional effort to get the word out about problems with the ESV.

        Reply

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