I’ve recently lost a dear friend to Allience Church. Is this a “cult”?
She is a catholic, but started going to this church for Sunday Services, because she liked the preachers. Then she started to volunteer, then she started Bible classes and joined various groups and got her family involved in all aspects of church life. What concerns me the most are the changes in her personality. Since becoming more “religious” she has become more and more hateful, judgemental and intolerant towards others. She broke ties with me too, and it seems that her tendency is to replace her old friendships with new ones exclusively from this church. I used to know her as an open minded, intelligent, non-judgemental, loving person and now she just seems so brainwashed and behaves more and more like a pharisee…
I’ve recently lost a dear friend to Allience Church. Is this a “cult”?
Having been deeply involved in a similar “movement” I think of them, as others of their type, as cultish, if not outright cults because their members become so isolated and insulated from the real world that they no longer have any attachments to it except to bring in new members. It’s so sad your friend has been become so caught up in her new faith community that she cannot even be friends any more. She sees you as among “the lost” and if you will not listen to her and go to her church she will no longer have anything to do with you. So yes, she is caught up in a cult-like group. At some point she will become exhausted by it all–being overly zealous does that to people, and she will need a good friend to help her when she finally sees the damage it does to her and her family. So, pray for her and try to be a friend, if she’ll let you.
Is it a Christian Misisonary Alliance community? They are usually pretty mainstream, mildly Pentecostal–like a laid back Assemblies of God. A.W. Tozer was a preacher and writer who belonged to the CMA and is actually quite good. Their theology is basic “fourfold gospel” stuff (Jesus saves, heals, baptizes in the Holy Spirit, and is coming again). Since they have a congregational structure each community is self-governing.
What she is experiencing is typical for people who convert from one type of belief to another. Your friend was Catholic (thesis) she embraces Fundamentalist Protestantism (antithesis). To do this she probably feels she needs to reject all that she once was and to justify she will read anti-Catholic stuff. Eventually she will become comfortable in her new belief and not feel the need to attack what she was. This is called synthesis. I’ve seen this in Evangelicals who become Catholic and Eastern Orthodox too, so it goes both ways.
Just keep praying for her. Many times people who leave the Church find Jesus in a deeper way and develop a love for Scripture that for some reason they couldn’t do in a Catholic parish. When they do come back (revert) they are even stronger in their Faith, love for Christ and His Church.
Yeah, if its a Christian and Missionary Alliance church, it’s not a cult but pretty mainstream evangelical Christian.
The C&MA was started by a Presbyterian minister who got involved with the Holiness Movement, Albert Benjamin Simpson. He was very influential among early Pentecostals, especially the Assemblies of God. Today, they are pretty generically evangelical.
The best way to witness to her (if you even have the chance) will be to confound the stereotypes and bigotry she is likely absorbing (I’m trusting you when you say she’s exhibiting anti-Catholic sentiments).
Buy a copy of Keating’s “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” read it and take notes. It’s getting a bit old in terms of the names of hecklers, but the apologetic meat in the later chapters hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years. Get familiar so you can debunk incorrect claims.
But don’t try to argue her back. That’s just to have a ready answer. Keep your responses short and always remember to go back to Christ. It helps to learn to speak evangelical lingo. Have a “testimony” story ready that describes a major time in your life where you had a conversion experience of repentance and restoration to God through the mercy of Jesus. Be OK with her idea that you can “know you are saved” but go on to clarify that being saved is a lifetime of surrender to Christ, not a moment and that you’re not dead yet! Be ready to remind her that the Grace of Sacraments is not “magic” where men manipulate God, but manifestations of Grace given by God to man at the direction of Jesus. If anything will bring her back one day (presuming she had deep faith to begin with), it will be your testimony on the power and Grace of the Eucharist. You don’t have to be eloquent, just sincere. God’ll do the rest.
You don’t tell much about yourself, but I’d caution you to be careful to discern the difference between someone that is “judgmental” and one who has only recently been convicted of sin in her own life, repented of it and is now zealous to free herself of the bonds of sin via Grace. It’s easy for such people to react harshly to those who actively rationalize sin because it’s an all too recent experience they recognize in themselves (and recognize that they are still vulnerable to). It’s especially so in issues where groups publicly agitate to reclassify something Christianity teaches is a sin as something GOOD. It’s hard NOT to get worked up in such cases if you’ve only recently been freed from the hard consequences of sin and recognize evil’s sales job when you see it.
While this can hold true for many, it’s not a practice of the Church to tell people that everything they’ve experienced/learned before becoming a Catholic has to be rejected so they can begin a new life in Christ. Certainly sin has to be rejected, but not one’s spirituality. No one is encouraged to think of others as lost sinners in need of being saved by us and us alone. The Church recognizes the truth in all faiths and encourages belief not tries to negate it. I’m afraid the practice of rejecting everything in one’s past is a product of faulty theology, not just of people leaving one faith community for another. Many Protestants flow from one denomination to another with no real change in their beliefs or spirituality, so this alone cannot explain the radical change in attitude and behavior that the OP’s friend is experiencing. It has to be laid at the feet of her new church–it can’t be gotten away from, I’m afraid.
I’m a member of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, so feel free to ask me anything you like.
Take this for what it’s worth but we’re not a cult. Like was pointed out above, we’re pretty generically evangelical these days, but we’re somewhat older than the modern evangelical or even fundamentalist movements. We started as a missionary and holiness movement, kind of like the Salvation Army, back in the late 19th century. We established the world’s first Bible College in Nyack, NY in 1882.
The two names associated with us that you’re probably most familiar with are A.W. Tozer, who was a long time Pastor and editor of our official house publication, and Ravi Zacharias, who taught Apologetics and Theology at Nyack College for many years before going back to his full time job as an ordained evangelist of the C&MA. You may have also heard of Francis Chan, who’s been making waves within Evangelicalism for several years now.
We’re pretty “big tent” theologically. My old pastor was Wesleyan in his outlook. I am a Calvinist. Never caused us any problems at all. We have a few things that we see as “non-negotiable” (The Trinity, Virgin Birth, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, etc.) but beyond that we’re far more concerned with preaching the gospel to unreached people groups.
One minor correction: We are not congregational in our polity. We are a combination of congregational, presbyterian, and episcopal. Without going into too much detail: The congregation basically only gets to elect officers of the local church, beyond that all decisions are made by the Elders (and we draw a distinction between “teaching elder” and “ruling elders” similar to Presbyterian churches). Over and above the local congregation sits a District Executive who has the power, under certain circumstances, to hire and fire pastors, remove Elder boards, and even take legal ownership of the church property. There are additional levels of hierarchy above the District Executive, but there is no single person that leads the whole movement globally.
Anyway… again… feel free to ask me anything at all. If you get me the name of the particular Alliance church, I can also see if I can “dig up any dirt” with my inside contacts.
Perhaps it is a different “alliance” church than the one that several posters here think it is? Many churches have similar names except for a word here and there.
That’s why its always best for posters to include as much information about a church as possible instead of just throwing out a name like “alliance” and “cult.” Inevitably, you get people who’ve only ever heard of the mainstream Christian and Missionary Alliance who simply reply, “It’s not a cult.”
Perhaps the OP can tell us the full name, location, and give us a possible website url of this church?
I think they must be very like ‘the church of the Nazarene’ which leans to holiness as well. I was sent to a coftNazarene as a very small boy the C&M Allience church was just a block west on the same street. They did cooperate a great deal.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it, but I’ll just :gopray:say a prayer, then.
Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blest is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Thank you, All, for your comments!
Della, I think you hit the nail on the head, yes I do feel i have to agree with her or she does not want to know me. She tells me that she knows the Bible better, and I’ve sent her catholic material she refuses to even look at…I do hope you are right that she is just overzealous and will realize the flaws later on. On one hand I am happy for her, on the other, I do feel sad that she felt she had to go elsewhere…but my main concern is her personality as a friend…
Manualman, thank you for the advice! I don’t want to convert her back, I don’t want to convert or change any of her beliefs, that’s not for me to do. I’m not sure what you mean by “sin” in this case. Yes, she feels bad about a lot of things, and certainly not for the ones I would feel bad about…
BeProfOXS, I don’t know much about this church and reading their webpage does not tell me more either. They certainly seem true christians, and maybe they are…maybe it is my friend who is taking the teachings to the extreme…like the pharisees… I don’t wish to reveal my location, but I am happy to send the details of this church privately!
Perhaps you can ask her how does she know that the bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God? While you both share a common belief that it is, how does she know it is?
You can then discuss that it was the Catholic Church that compiled the canon, selecting the OT books and 27 NT books out of several hundred in circulation. Her bible is a Catholic book, written by for and about the Catholic Church, giving the Church a universal set of readings to be used at Mass. If she can not trust the Catholic Church on faith and morals, neither can she trust that her bible is all inspired and inerrant…and she may be missing some books that are.
That’s always a good question and discussion to plant a seed…
The C&MA is very close to the Church of the Nazarene. They are two primary differences: They are officially Wesleyan in their theology while we are officially neutral on Wesleyan/Reformed issues. They also ordain women. We don’t.
In my town, we don’t co-operate as much but that’s only the Nazarene church near us happens to be really small and on the other side of town. That having been said, my wife is their secretary, so… yeah… we’re pretty close.
The relationship between us extends so far as to allow our colleges in Canada (Alliance University College and Nazarene University College) to operate off of the same campus and to share faculty.
I do find it odd that this gal has become so hostile towards Catholicism if she joined the C&MA. It doesn’t sound like them at all. Whatever she’s gotten herself into, it’s just too bad she feels she has to abandon all she was taught and think of herself as superior to others. I do pray this phase of her conversion experience doesn’t last long–for her sake as well as those of her friends.
Well… It’s not that out of keeping. Simpson was vehemently anti-Catholic, but, in his defense, he was no more anti-catholic than any other protestants of his day.
Indeed, the entire reason that the Alliance exists is because Simpson started preaching to the catholic immigrants of 19th century New York and when they showed up at his prestigious Presbyterian church in Manhattan, the Elders pulled him aside and told him that while they thought it all well and good that these people were finding Christ, could he please very kindly find them a different church to worship in. And that’s exactly what Simpson did, but to the chagrin of the New York Presbytery, he went with them.
Now, today, that sounds anti-catholic. In that time and place, that was the opposite of the prevailing anti-catholicism that saw Irish and Italian catholics as being sub-human. So, yes… Simpson identified the office of the Papacy with Anti-Christ (as did both Luther and Calvin), but his willingness to associate himself with “reformed” catholics set him apart from other anti-catholics of his day. About the only less anti-catholic “proto-evangelical” you can find is D.L. Moody.
So… yeah… you can still find a pretty strong strain of anti-catholicism within the Alliance, as you can within all of Evangelicalism, but as we all get to know you all better and see the love of Christ in you, it’s getting better.
Thanks for the history. I too hope relations between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians is getting better. Considering the hostility towards faith we are seeing these days we all need each other, don’t we?
The same anti-Irish/anti-Catholicism that prompted Simpson to preach to them was what moved Fr. Michael McGivney to found the Knights of Columbus. Irish Catholics could not get insurance for their families nor join men’s clubs and suffered a host of other discriminatory actions by the prominent Protestants at that time. So Fr. McGivney started the Knights to serve the families who were being persecuted. But he was no anti-Protestant. He loved and served all who were in need. He’s been declared Venerable and we are hoping he will one day be canonized.
Hello! Very sorry to bump this thread by 2 months, but I feel that my input could be valuable here
I belong to a CMA church and have my whole life. I thought I’d list off the most important core beliefs of the denomination, and leave it to you to decide if we are in a “cult”.
We tend to believe similarly to Pentecostals, with one MAJOR exception in the Trinity. We believe in ONE god in three forms as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus was the son of God.
We believe salvation is found in Christ alone, not by works but through faith, and this is one of the main things that separates us from Catholicism. We do believe, however, after attaining salvation, one should have a desire to do good works, not TO save themselves, but BECAUSE they are saved.
We practice communion, but deny transubstantiation.
We do practice Lent, Advent, etc…
We fit more into a mainstream Evangelical description than anything else
So many people here seem to say we hate Catholics, and that is NOT true. It seems, quite honestly, that you are being more anti-Protestant than we are anti-Catholic. We don’t agree with Catholics, but we do not say anything about you usually. Just because we don’t line up on beliefs doesn’t mean we teach you are all mislead
I’m not angry there by the way, just feeling misunderstood.
Please forgive the late reply
God bless you!
Do you believe as your founder did, AB Simpson, that the Pope is the anti-Christ?
Also, do you believe that the Catholic Church aims for “World Conquest” as this article states from your church’s website?