Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Breaking away, case study from Xenos

Xenos Christian Fellowship is a mega-church in Columbus Ohio which makes heavy use of strong "home churches" to create a large group / small group feel. The church is very well known and influential. Strange Things at Xenos gives one a feel for their outlook and their distinctives. It also, publishes on its website heavily on the issue of church discipline.

There was an extended discussion of Xenos on Byron Harvey's website and the following is
post 14

I was in the college Ministry.

Now, I would not classify Xenos as a cult per se, but in the college group at least, I saw quite a few cultlike elements in the social structure that the church structure fed. Let me take you on a journey. I will probably tip my identity in sharing this, but I am not too concerned with that.

I moved to Columbus Ohio in the fall of 1996. I was lonely, immature, and depressed, although at the time I would not have said it as such. It was not long till an acquaintance of mine told me about this meeting in one of the dorm study rooms where a bunch of Christians were having a discussion group. At first, I was against it, but he enticed me with the prospect of attractive young females. Being a young man of 18, I went of course.

Over the next few weeks, I became a regular attendee, debating points of the Christian faith, and giving the arguments that were presented to me more creedance than they were worth, for at the time I was not trained to spot logical fallacies. To an impressionable mind, they made extraordinary claims, claims of God’s perfect love, perfect justice and whatnot. Growing up in a blue collar catholic family, I ate this stuff up.

Meanwhile, my class attendance started slipping. I had a lot of evening classes, but was encouraged to attend first CT, and then a homechurch, both while skipping out on classes. My grades plummeted.

Now I do realize I had a choice here, I could have stuck to my studies, and surely my life would have been easier for it, but I was confused, empty, a lost soul, and one of the promises Xenos made to me about God is that with the spirit, you are no longer empty.

I accepted Christ on easter of 1997. A week later I was kicked out of school for failing to meet the conditions of my academic probation.

Now, I am grateful for what came next. Xenos took me in, provided a couch to sleep on till I got a job and an apartment, and when my sublet was up, moved me into a ministry house. By this time, I was attending a homechurch, CT, a cell group, along with myriad prayer meetings.

I was on a spiritual high at the time. I was learning all I could about God, about Christianity, and looking back was starting to be groomed for leadership. My house and homechurch leaders started referring to “when I would be a leader”.

Meanwhile, I was still as depressed and as empty as ever. When I talked about this with other xenoids, I was told to keep to the path, God would sort it out.

I also started seeing things that sat very uneasily with me. All other Christian sects were bashed to one form or another, but particularly Catholics, Jehova Witnesses, and to a lesser extant, Mormons. I won’t even go into the venom reserved for non-Christian religions.

I started missing meetings due to work, or just being too depressed to leave the house. One hear or there did not merit comment, but if you missed more than three in a month, leaders started coming to you to voice thier concerns for your spiritual walk.

Finally, a few weeks before Christmas of 1998, things came to a head. I had been neglecting some of my house chores for a few weeks (as had other members of the house, but I was singled out it seems) and was put on probabtion. No missed chores for a month or I was outs. Three days before the month was up, I had been out late with friends seeing a movie, and forgot to do some cleaning. I did it first thing in the morning, but the house leaders decided to make me leave. At first, they wanted me out immediately. I managed to get a whole week out of them.

Needless to say, a week later I was homeless. I was crushed. Everything I had built my adult life around was suddenly gone. I had no friends outside of the church, as outside friends were not forbidden, but they were not encouraged unless they were outreach. My only support network was two hours away, so I went home to my parents.

The next year and a half were hard. I was removed from any support network, and was slowly slipping into darkness. Only a handful of people kept up with me, I would thank them, but all but one have left that group.

I moved back to Columbus in mid 2000, a mental wreck. Like an abused spouse, I went back to the only thing I knew, Xenos. I puttered on for about 7 or 8 months, never regaining the acceptance I had enjoyed previously. I was a fringe member, and outsider. Being on the edge I saw the truly bad aspects of that group. The cliquishness, the social control wielded over members, the selective enforcement of morality and the unhealthy focus on “Sexual Sin”.

My end with the group came with a woman. We started dating, and she was not Christian. I tried to bring her around at first, but she was offended at the groups attitudes towards other religions. We ended up having sex. Knowing I was violating Xonos’ rules, I removed myself from the group. However, that was not enough. Even though I had left of my own accord, they still instituted their church discipline against me, and the few friends I still had in the group were forbidden from speaking to me “For my own good”.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Since then, I broke away from the false promises of my faith, and found my own way. I conquered my depression, have built true, lasting friendships, and have finally gotten my life back on track, all the things Xenos tells you are not possible without God, with the undertone that to be right with God you must be right with Xenos. Looking back, I see the broken people they pulled into their group, and some have gon on to lead rich, fulfilling lives, I can honestly say as of my last check, there were not that many in the college group that were.

I have overcome any resentment I had towards that group, a process that took many years. Through it I have become a better person, and in a way, am glad they treated me the way they did. I would not be the person I am today without Xenos.

I just hope for all those that go to them listening to false promises of fulfillment and meaning in their life, that they find what they are looking for.

I invite any and all comments to this on my own blog at gothic_oreo.livejournal.com. I will make a public post with anonymous comments aloud specifically for that purpous.

What's interesting about the story is that the person has clearly seperated from evangelical Christianity and is quite happy about the effects of the shunning.

If there are any Xenos people out there:

  1. Why discipline on a non member?
  2. Why shunning?
_________

Addendum: There is an interview with the lead pastor for Xenos on discipline at a later post Interview with Xenos on membership and discipline policies

233 comments:

1 – 200 of 233   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

I went to Xenos for a couple of years. The only good thing that came of it was that before Xenos I had never heard of salvation through Christ. During my time at Xenos, I accepted Christ. But yeah, I too left because of my sin issue with sex and my now fiance (very soon to be husband).

Luckily for me, I kept a rich life outside of church so it wasn't all that hard for me to leave. Sometimes I miss the friends I made there, sometimes I feel sorry for them, sometimes I miss fellowship. Sometimes I wonder why I care so much, we're only here for a short time anyway right?

Truth be told, I do miss fellowship, I just think Xenos is slightly misguided, with leaders who exercise too much power.

CD-Host said...

I have a much longer article on Xenos that should be ready in a few weeks. If only I had more time to blog :-)

Anonymous said...

Much of the active discussion on Xenos and their controversies surrounding discipline and shunning can be found here:
http://www.haloscan.com/comments/hypospeaks/113424581419292316/

*I was a Xenos member for several years. I did see some slight abuse of those discipline and shunning strategies that are otherwise biblical when used in moderation and rarity in clear and present morally dangerous areas.

*There were tale tail signs of paternalistic control in other ways too, but I do believe that many of these problems had their nexus and perhaps origin in the "Ministry houses" (situations where groups of Xenos college students would live together in order to sharpen each other's spiritual growth). I believe that there are contradictions/tensions with the ministry house setup and to a much lesser degree with the home church dynamic that may create or enable some of these problems. In short, it drills down to the problem of inexperienced young people attempting to mandate others' spirituality rather than shepherd it.

*These problems notwithstanding I chose to stay involved with Xenos; there were so many positives that overall outweighed the negatives. It was, so to speak, a spiritual "boot camp" or "graduate school" for me and many others.

~korienblueye

Anonymous said...

Shunning and excommunication are forms of manipulation. Cults use manipulation. Therefore, Xenos is a cult.

If the "message" you are preaching isn't strong enough to get you some followers and you have to use coercive tactics, then something must be a little "off". In my opinion, you should run.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said--“Shunning and excommunication are forms of manipulation. Cults use manipulation. Therefore, Xenos is a cult.”

Dogs have fur. Cats have fur. Therefore, dogs are cats.

What type of screwed up logic are you using?
~korienblueye

Anonymous said...

I repeat, O Great Xenos Defender, that if you have to use coercive and manipulative tactics like shunning and excommunication to get and keep members, that something must be a little "off".

Methinks the Great Xenos Defender doth protest too much.

CD-Host said...

Lets keep this polite. I have no problem with a debate on facts or theory but nothing is gained by sarcasm.

Lets try again.

1) It would help if you all registered a user name or at least both signed your posts

2) Present what you believe actually occurred (who, when, why, how...) and then explain why this is or is not appropriate in your opinion.

Sociological Zephyr said...

Xenos, like every other church (or social club), gets and keeps members through consensual relationships. People tend to join things b/c their friends are involved not b/c they're being coerced or shunned into it. Your logic is all wrong.

Coercion and shunning actually hurt membership--when it has occurred in Xenos it has not always been received well which is why there are ex-members making noise about it.

*I really think it's sensible to zero-in on the problems of an organization and rationally, constructively criticize it rather than call it names such as "cult" or insult it's members/supporters with personal attacks.
~korienblueye

Sociological Zephyr said...

I alot to say about Xenos, mostly good, and I've been reflecting on my Xenos experience lately.

So I do have a comment to make about "shunning" and "discipline."

I do recall one instance in my Xenos home group where a couple was asked to leave. They joined our little group as friends of another couple already established as members in the group. They were a kind and friendly couple, but they did not agree with a core tenet of Christendom (that Jesus is God). Moreover, the male believed he was a prophet (I do not lie) and that his goal in the group was to lead us to the truth. We tolerated them (and his periodic prophetic outbursts) for about a year or more. But after some soul-searching and the realization that they were not going to change their minds about our theology we decided to ask them to leave. The rationale was that they were dividing the group into two (with only themselves on one side) and thus were serving as a distraction to our overall group goals. They had also been warned gently about their stand repeatedly but to no avail. It was not an easy or fun decision as our group was very much into forgiveness and grace. And we all very much liked them! Yet ultimately we decided it was Biblical (i.e., what God wants) for us to separate from them.

*I believe this was entirely justifiable and not without precedent in Xenos, other churches and also in non-church secular institutions. In short, people get kicked out of groups all the time for not agreeing with the group's mission/goals/ideology.

*I have also seen other instances in which people were warned and disciplined through removal from leadership or group participation because of improper behavior both in Xenos and other churches.

The question is not whether this should ever happen in the first place, but what is the criteria being used as justification to do so and what is the degree/severity of doing so. Most reasonable people could see parallels to "shunning" and "discipline" in all situations, even the work place!

Anonymous said...

That is only one step away from justifying "removing" someone from the planet--- through genocide or ethnic cleansing. Those have been justfied as "what God wants".

CD-Host said...

Again its getting confusing with unsigned anonymous posts.

If people are going to keep going I should mention that I have posted a discussion on the policy.

Sociological Zephyr said...

"That is only one step away from justifying "removing" someone from the planet--- through genocide or ethnic cleansing. Those have been justfied as "what God wants"."

--Where does such extreme, slippery and black/white logic come from?

There is no biblical mandate applied as a one-time rule to either Jews or Christians to kill of the wayward.

*If this were true, why would a church lovingly ask a self-destructive member to simply leave and part ways?

Anonymous said...

there is no point in having a discussion with or arguing with a member or ex member for that matter of xenos. They are trained, and trained well to refute anything you say, ever. Their main agenda is to grow. To win a debate you must anticipate and have an answer for every question, this is a tactic they are taught and their skills are honed - it is people who succeed in this tactic that become leaders.

Think about it, when you are recruiting people, you are firstly telling them all about the facts, and then comes the questions, well what about this, and my mom said that, and i always thought x.....they are TAUGHT how to refute ANYTHING anyone might bring up.

so, it is useless to indulge this blue eyed something or other in a discussion, and the person is obviously highly involved in the church...they walk the walk and definately talk the talk of "gods word"


I will say the one positive thing of xenos is that they study in detail all the facts of the bible. Of any christians i have ever known, they know the bible better than all of them combined. Most churches leave it up to the leaders to read to them and decipher the bible, home groups actively discuss and disect the bible, especially well picked verses that "prove their point"


if you are asked to leave, or even choose to leave xenos, you can forget about keeping any friends you made there...and you WILL be shunned, what kind of friends are they then when they desert you as soon as you decide you have other things in life you want to accomplish?? i have heard "its for the leavers own good, to realize what they are missing" seriously?!?!? shunning is shunning, no matter the reasons - and you will be shunned, people that dont shun you, will be diciplined within their group for associating with you...even if it is your family.

they basically ensure that no one can complete college because they force you to have a full time job (a requirement to live in a ministry house) and they force you to come to meetings 5 nights a week.

do they do this to keep their members uneducated and therefore more complacent?


the crazy thing is that while inside the church, and in good standing, there is not one thing you can say that will make a member have one second of open mindedness. and they will not have a single bad thing to say about the organization...even if they leave, and then come back. if they are in, they are in. when they are out, they are all about bashing, for like 6 months...

the second they decide to leave, or are forced to leave (read :excommunicated)thye have a world of bad to talk about....for about 6 months, after that, the anger fades, life goes on; sometimes they are even swayed back into the church...

what i would like to see is more sites dedicated to the anti-xenos movement.
the xenoids, yes they call themselves that, are relentless in recruiting, they are actively "planting" new homes, yes they use that term. they are actively recruiting your impressionable teens

there NEEDS to be more outspoken people too help this virus from spreading so fast - it took some serious google searching and link following to get to this forum.

i would not call xenos a cult, but they do have several cult like qualities about them. i will refer you all to define cult: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cult

it is clear that xenos does not engage in all of the parts of what it takes to be a cult....but who knows, i can totally see a mis"managed"/lead ministry home completely going off the edge and doing something crazy that could qualify them as a cult!!


although, AA does fit into the definition! <--rabbit trail

there used to be a yahoo forum for ex xenoids to go to discuss their relationship with xenos, i would like to know what the hell happened to that group? did they give up, were they sued, were they reinstated into the church, like i said, it seems the anger fades and life goes on......KEEP IT ALIVE

help make resources to warn our children and lonely helpless college students of the dangers of being TOO involved with a group - any group, especially xenos

xenos is a church of the young - the older/more wise a person gets, the more likely they are to "drop out" a main reason is the fact that maybe they want to have sex, or get married, or socialize with people outside of the church, or have a family and are too busy to go to 5 meetings a night.
i think im done rambling for now


who knows, maybe ill repost with some supportive facts for my opinions and tangent experiences, i did see a useful list of sins that xenoids actively partake in, perhaps Ill share.


- signed -
- wife of a survivor with new family members that ignore her existence -

CD-Host said...

Some of the comments here are being responded to on the newer thread.

Sociological Zephyr said...

Hi CD: (I originally posted by mistake much of this response to Anonymous on the wrong site, but here it is correctly posted.

I received an email indicating an "anonymous" left a post, an incoherent ramble as it were. This person I believe is dishonest so I ask you post this response.

(1) One of the bizarre claims she makes is "if you are asked to leave, or even choose to leave Xenos, you can forget about keeping any friends you made there.....i have heard "its for the leavers own good, to realize what they are missing" seriously?!?!? "

a) I've known several individuals to leave Xenos; I kept in touch with them as did other Xenoids.

b) I left Xenos 9 months ago; I still keep in touch with Xenoids.

(2) Anonymous also suggests that Xenoids are trained to refute the church's critics; this is a lie. There is no such "training" at Xenos, merely bible classes as in so many other churches.

(3) She also lies when she says that when you're in the church you can't say anything bad about it. I've voiced in many public & private forms at Xenos some of my criticisms of Xenos. I was never censored or shunned for doing so. Some would agree with me, some would disagree and that was that. This level of dissent/debate is NOT a cult characteristic.

(4) Another lie she makes: "they basically ensure that no one can complete college because they force you to have a full time job (a requirement to live in a ministry house) and they force you to come to meetings 5 nights a week."

a). I'm not aware of 5 nights of meetings at Xenos. I certainly never went to that many in one week. In fact, we were discouraged from getting together too often with friends at Xenos b/c that would mean we would be too much away from the rest of the world!

b). As for not being able to complete a degree b/c of over-involvement, I finished a masters and Ph.D. at OSU while in Xenos, my wife finished her second BA and a nursing degree and I know many, many Xenoids who finished their Master's while in Xenos AND while in ministry houses. In fact, education is encouraged even among ministry house members.

3) She says “…do they do this to keep their members uneducated and therefore more complacent? “ In general I would say that Xenos appears to have a higher education rate than most other churches I've been a part of. Certainly the circles I was in in Xenos (several hundred folk) all had at least a college degree.

4) Also “xenos is a church of the young - the older/more wise a person gets, the more likely they are to "drop out" a main reason is the fact that maybe they want to have sex, or get married, or socialize with people outside of the church, or have a family and are too busy to go to 5 meetings a night.”
Actually Xenos is getting older with many members who have families with grown children.

*CD, I really believe many of these anti-xenoids are emotional and irrational people having had a bad experience with some unwise Xenoid or Xenoid group and thus are generalizing their experiences to the whole church. I've seen similar visceral reactions in racists, homophobes and other biggots.

Anonymous said...

heard the yahoo group was closed for personal reasons. don't know why. there might be another one around.

5 nights of meetings is/was quite common in college group. A typical schedule might include monday - home church, tuesday - meet w/ discipler, wednesday - take a class at xenos, thursday - CT and hang out after, friday - cell group. If you live in a xenos ministry house (in college group) add a house meeting once a week. So as you can see even 6 meetings a week is quite the norm for a kid in a xenos ministry house. On top of that home churches would often have group hang out night on saturday. factor in the travel time, ocasional dinners before meetings and it's a full time job. Not to mention finding time for "outreach" or one of xenos' other "ministries" eg volunteering at jr high or high school.

No offense but if you're not aware that the lifestyle for many (maybe hundreds?) of people in the xenos college group is jammed packed with xenos meetings then where were you for the last 10 years? That is a lifestyle that is just too busy to juggle serious academics and a job. Something has to give. some people probably can find balance amidst all that but I would guess they must be sacrificing something. Maybe they chose an easy major or something else. No responsible person has time for all that.

I think the unfortunate thing is that there is an atmosphere of pressure toward escalating commitment to xenos. There is not an emphasis on sensible balance. The xenos ministry house is something that people are led into gradually.

adult groups can be less consistent. not sure why but some of them don't do home church every week for example. Last I heard they wanted an adult membership drive. I'm sure the xenos leaders would love it if they could get the adults to be as active as the kids. But are adults ever as high energy as kids?

Clearly this is a subject matter that people have strong opinions on. That's no different than political issues like immigration, the war in iraq or any political or social issue. this is religion, what did you expect? I think it's perfectly natural to have emotions about an issue. And while some of the comments are strongly worded I do not think they are all "irrational" or fabrications.

All this aside xenos does have a controversial history. You can read about some of that on other blogs - Byron Harvey's for example. It seems to me these "bigots" (as you put it) are likely speaking out of experience. There's no shortage of stones to throw at xenos. I think a lot of these incidents (those that I have seen) are interpersonal conflicts that have gone too far.

Sometimes though, strong words are the expression of painful personal experiences - like being slandered or finding out your children were beaten by someone from church. Yet instead of responding with understanding all I see is argument (from both sides). You're throwing ad hominem attacks. You're even criticizing the way people are criticizing your church. All that and you missed the obvious - the pain.

You see, Jesus came for those who are suffering. The poor, the lepers, orphans, widows, blind, beggars... And the message left "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (John 13:34). Isn't that the greatest commandment of all?

Maybe you're right. Sometimes people do have emotional opinons as you say. They get inspired by something. They have a positive experience with it. They remain enamored. They focus their life around it. They share it with others. They get so impassioned about their opinions as to obscure the fundamental. Wouldn't some think that's irrational too?

-- pax

Sociological Zephyr said...

Anonymous:

You said “I think it's perfectly natural to have emotions about an issue. And while some of the comments are strongly worded I do not think they are all "irrational" or fabrications.”

*I think it’s fine to make pointed criticisms of Xenos based on logic & facts; I have my own, even of the ministry houses.

*However, I do not think it’s ok to make sweeping generalizations and fudge some facts just because one feels hurt from things that happened in one’s limited experience.

I would submit to you that your experience of Xenos ministry houses does not truly reflect the range or diversity of houses and groups at Xenos. Xenos is large and doesn’t easily fit simplistic characterizations.


One of the things you accuse Xenos ministry houses of doing is having excessive meetings that prevent work/education. I do not think this is generally true of all ministry houses as you suggest.
1. For several years I was affiliated with the college and career ministry led by Gary Delashmutt. Although I never joined a ministry house (for reasons that had nothing to do with myriads of meetings), I was very close to a large number of house members from multiple houses. I do not recall them having the large number of meetings you talked about—it’s hard to imagine how work and school schedules would ever permit 6 meetings a week.

2. Furthermore, people I knew in ministry homes did not have light or “easy major(s)” in college as you accuse. As I said, the vast majority of the ministry house folks I knew had a range of college degrees (many in nursing, business and the physical sciences) and some were working on masters degrees in the sciences or other fields.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You also said: “I think the unfortunate thing is that there is an atmosphere of pressure toward escalating commitment to Xenos. There is not an emphasis on sensible balance..”
….and… “I'm sure the xenos leaders would love it if they could get the adults to be as active as the kids. But are adults ever as high energy as kids?”

*You fail to note that certain trends at Xenos would seem to indicate otherwise.

1. The adult drive you’re talking about has meant that Wed. night classes were cancelled so that members could spend more time on evangelism out in the community.

2. Xenos’ emphasis on being culturally relevant and it’s criticism of Christian ghetto churches (e.g.,the Amish in the most extreme) has led Xenos to embrace secular music, smoking and drinking after bible studies and services….in short to engage the world rather than retreat from it. The groups I was involved in would purposely never meet on Friday nights b/c that would mean going to a Xenos related event twice in one weekend and thus steer us away from being in the world evangelizing.

3. Moreover, Gary and Dennis have been encouraging people as of late to get involved in volunteer work, hobbies such as book clubs (secular ones out in the world) and so forth so as to “go into” the world and live the gospel on a regular weekly basis.

**All these facts strongly suggest that your experience with Xenos is limited and thus cannot be generalized to the whole of the church.**

Anonymous said...

korienblueye---
When you attempted to refute:

"...there is no point in having a discussion with or arguing with a member or ex member for that matter of xenos. They are trained, and trained well to refute anything you say, ever. Their main agenda is to grow. To win a debate you must anticipate and have an answer for every question, this is a tactic they are taught and their skills are honed - it is people who succeed in this tactic that become leaders."

you overlooked the fact that on the Annual Home Group Evaluation form on Xenos' website, one of the stated criteria they use for evaluation, and I quote, is:

"Effective response to Satanic attack (e.g. temptation, OPPOSITION, ACCUSATION, deception, or seduction).

This is a clear indication that the previous speaker was correct in his analysis that Xenos members are highly trained in refuting any challenge to what they are doing, which is deceptive and aversive recruiting, based on sophisticated behavior modification techniques.

I invite readers to check out this form at http://www.xenos.org/homegroups/evaluate. htm

You can see the agenda of Xenos very clearly when you see what criteria they use to judge their own members.

There is another interesting form at:
http://www.xenos.org/homegroups/stnominate.doc

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Sociological Zephyr said...
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CD-Host said...

Facts, theory, logic are all OK. Personal attacks and ad homonym are not. Lets keep it civil and about issues.

Sociological Zephyr said...

Anonymous you said: "Effective response to Satanic attack (e.g. temptation, OPPOSITION, ACCUSATION, deception, or seduction)....This is a clear indication that the previous speaker was correct in his analysis that Xenos members are highly trained in refuting any challenge to what they are doing..."

*You fail to understand that the quote you took from the evaluation document refers to forms of attack from Satan not to the criticisms leveled at the church from humans (please see the Christian Principles course work on their website).

*Moreover, can you point to a single real class Xenos teaches its members that trains them to "refut(e) any challenge to what they are doing?" In what ways exactly does Xenos train for refutation of its critics? I would really like to know. Over 10 years of involvement in Xenos I never once knew nor took any such course. If such a course existed I would have had a problem with it.


*Also, I think you fail to appreciate or understand the importance/relevance of bureaucratic evaluation procedures in an org like Xenos. You should see the procedures my state university employer uses, much more detailed & exacting.

I have a theory here. I wonder if your criticisms of Xenos practices are but a smoke-screen for your dislike of Christian doctrine in general as I don't see any scriptural or theological reasoning refuting any of Xenos' ideas. That you seem to misunderstand Christian thinking on these issues suggests this. The personal attacks you posted (now deleted) also suggest you're more interested in fighting than in rational criticism.

Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting that MY personal attacks are deleted but YOURS aren't. Kind of makes it futile to say anything on HERE, doesn't it?

Sociological Zephyr said...

I think it's clear you don't understand what personal attacks are.

A rational and evidence based criticism of one's allegations/argument is not a personal attack.

Calling people names and attacking their credentials and knowledge or awareness rather than the logic of their arguments are personal attacks however.

Sociological Zephyr said...

CD-HOST. I read something recently that was posted from a review written by Dennis McCallum, co-pastor at Xenos. Although he doesn't say this you could see it as a theory as to why there are a handful of people (out of 4,400 Xenoids) out there who are aggrieved by Xenos.

Let's call it a theory of "relational addiction" on the part of some members. The basic idea is that there are relationally and emotionally dependent people who become too attached to a group leader or group at Xenos (in home churches or ministry houses) and experience emotional injury when their group leaders move on or reject such unhealthy dependence. Dennis admits that some groups may have (unintentionally) enabled this only to experience negative outcomes.

Here's a quote from the first part of the paper that nicely sums it up plus the url to the site:


by Dennis McCallum
I think the largest single source of complaints today come from those who depend on their group and leaders as though they were parents. This is also the least resolved area, and the least understood area. We know of many cases where people expected their home church to meet all their relational needs without any initiative from them. I have been confronted often with cases of people who are furious that others from their group (especially leaders) would not call them often enough. Many of the claims of abandonment, "neglect" and abuse we hear today are only compatible with addictive dependence.


http://www.culthelp.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=709&Itemid=8

After reading many of the anti-xenoid ex-xenoid accounts here and elsewhere I really do suspicion if they fit the pattern of the relationally addicted. They were too dependent on Xenos, in large part by their own self-victimizing tendencies.

From my experience this theory does seem to fit the handful of people I know who left Xenos disgruntled. They wanted Xenos to accommodate them and meet their every emotional need which it could not, but also in turn these persons weren't as willing to reciprocate. It doesn't explain all who leave Xenos angry, but it does ring more than one bell.

~korienblueye

CD-Host said...

I think it may be possible. But lets look at the original story more closely. Things like the live in houses are in effect structures to allow people to get heavily involved with Xenos. The sorts of people who would be attracted to that, in general, are likely disproportionately to have emotional or mental problems of one sort or another. What Xenos lacks is the sort of institutional depth to deal with the person's problems when the get worse. The catholic church with its monastic / convent system has that sort of structure in place.

So its possible that's what happens. Like if you read the original post you have someone who basically suffering from depression who was able to get a lift from Xenos short term but as the depression become more severe the Xenos house wasn't able to deal with it. So they kick him to the curb.

I think if you are going to recruit people to live in, you either need to screen carefully or you need to expect to have to deal with severe problems.

But yes, my experience is that people who suffer from spiritual abuse had preexisting problems that the spiritual relationship abuse was covering up. They were addicted and the reason they were addicted is that they had used the church as a coping mechanism for other severe problems in their life.

For example the reason right now I've had to turn moderation on, is that I'm having a serious vandalism problem with people from the Christian Recovery site, whom I encountered recently. And there I saw comments which would normally be associated with signs of profound mental illness being applauded as healthy behavior. Very similar to the anti-Xenos crowd none of them are able to articulate a cohesive theory of what exactly they are upset about. The emotion is real but is so sub-rational that they either unable or unwilling to state what they think is going on. Just like your problem with here with the anonymous poster who cannot actually carry through the argument.

Its almost as if he is having trouble seperating his emotion to an object from the external reality of the object. That's almost the textbook definition of a psychosis, i.e. I'd normally associated a failure like that with schizophrenic behavior. I don't think anonymous is schizophrenic but I am looking for theories that explain why he is having trouble understanding how deeply dysfunctional the thought process he is posting sounds to an external observer. I can see you are struggling with the same thing.

Relational addiction might explain part of it. My only problem is that many social structures play on and replace relational failings. So I'd think its a combination of relational addiction + intensity + inability to handle problem cases; or something along those lines.

Sociological Zephyr said...

HI CD-Host, thanks for your insight.

You may have hit the nail on the head when you said "I think if you are going to recruit people to live in, you either need to screen carefully or you need to expect to have to deal with severe problems."

I'm not certain if there is a well thought-out screening process that ministry house or home group leaders are taught at Xenos. Screening may simply occur at the leaders' discretion. It would be good to hear from a home group coordinator or elder at Xenos about this.

*I'm curious to know what policies or strategies you would recommend a social structure like a ministry house to follow to screen applicants so as to avoid dependency-abuse problems?

CD-Host said...

korienblueye --

I've been thinking about your question and what seemed obvious at first glance keeps getting more complex. For one thing the strategies the Catholic church uses just don't work at Xenos's scale. While Xenos is big there is a difference between four thousand and seventy million.

Moreover all the evidence points to that being liberal in admission is good for people. There have been studies of psychologically damaged people and joining a cult of any type is very therapeutic. That is while they may have a nasty experience they'll tend to have a less nasty experience then they otherwise would of and come out in better shape. I'd assume the same dynamic would play in a ministry commitment with people who are a little off. So it becomes harder to argue Xenos has an obligation since the evidence is that simple screening would be bad for people not good for them.

I guess in the end I'd say be very aware of the potential for spiritual abuse; but Xenos already is. I'm actually dumbfounded. I can't think of anything that Dennis can do from a practical level. Any ideas on your end?

WildernessWonderer said...

In the past I lived in several of these houses associated in varying degrees with Xenos home churches.

Two quick observations:

1) The goal is not to have a house free of conflict and potential problems. Rather, the goal is for the house members to minister to others and each other and therefore grow. Thus, the 'screening' process is left to individual houses, for the most part.

2) It seems typical that since all of the people living in theses houses are young single people, the leaders of these houses tend to be young single people who have shown constancy in several ways, but are unlikely to have much training in pastoral counseling. Leading a ministry house is often a stepping stone or proving ground for leading a home group later.

Yet these houses, because they may accept damaged people, and because the proximity to one another guarantees that conflict will explode, are probably harder to lead than home groups, where the leaders only see people once or twice a week.

So, maybe instead of scrutinizing the screening process, Xenos should look more at training leaders of these houses.

Sociological Zephyr said...

Hi CD-Host and Wilderness guy:

I've been thinking on this for a week or more.

I think that at the very least WW's suggestion that Ministry House leaders should be trained more would go far in preempting some of the problems that might emerge in these contexts.

My original thinking on this was a bit more radical. I started thinking a few years ago based on my own brushes with MH's and now after reading of complaints on the web that perhaps Xenos should disband the houses (or not sanction them). This is why:

1) They're filled with and run by young people. Young people are, by definition, inexperienced and moreover prone to radical, black/white thinking. Also, young people and their identities are more unstable and vulnerable than older, married people making them prone to quick and easy solutions to the exigencies of life. Radical and extremist organizations are filled mostly with people younger than thirty, for example for these and other reasons.

Similarly, the ministry house situation places people already prone to radicalism/extremism of varying degrees (& perhaps mental illness) into close contact where they are focused on improving one another's spiritual lives.

*The unfortunate potential is that when you put young (i.e., vulnerable, inexperienced and radical-thinking) people together in a living situation trivial & yet normal roommate issues can suddenly become grand spiritual issues.

Solutions to these issues can also become rigid and legalistic.
This sort of environment can lead to abuse and conflict where young people are telling each other what to do in even the small and insignificant things.


2) Since it's no secret that cults, terrorist groups and other extremist groups focus on and concentrate young people in often communal living arrangements, the Ministry houses can very much give the appearance of cult-like behavior, especially if it's widely known that there are high pressures inside the houses to do whatever it takes to "grow spiritually".


----------------------------------
I hesitate to make this case too strongly so I'll stop here. I cannot say I've seen many examples of this process yet I wonder if many of the xenoid burnouts I've encountered on the web were those who didn't survive the house experiences (for their own and other reasons) and when they left lost many of their friends in the process. This sort of radical break could lead some unstable few to (unfairly) designate Xenos a cult.

Thus the bottom line of what I'm saying is that the ministry house structure may unintentionally give Xenos (& Christ?) a black eye.

I don't think the same problems are as evident in Xenos home churches however...but that's another story.

CD-Host said...

I agree with your comments regarding the problems of youth. And its a good point. Its one thing to train a 60 year old abbot / abbess in how to screen its another all together to train a 20 year old. But the thing is part of what makes Xenos unique is that young people have real positions of leadership.

Maybe if their were two tiers: live in house supervisor and external house supervisor. And the external were a middle aged outside couple who had to be their for dinner for one night a week, heard about problems and just kept an eye on things. Of course that potentially creates the shepherding type problems that groups like Marantha had with their youth leadership.

But IMHO doing more than that (either disbanding the houses or putting in adult leadership) would be destroying something good about Xenos. I hate throw the baby out with the bath-water. As this blog shows I usually have strong opinions, and lots of ideas; on this one I'm really torn and don't have any idea for simple improvements. And that is what keeps impressing me about Xenos. There is very little if any low hanging fruit in making it a better church. A real credit to Dennis.

WildernessWonderer said...

If time and protecting confidentiality permit, I'd be interested in whether Soc. Zephyr could explain what he saw in Xenos that caused him to wonder about the legitimacy of ministry houses. I don't know if it is possible to lay out issues without referring to specific cases.

Thanks.

Sociological Zephyr said...

Hi WW guy:

I have to apologize and say again that I really hesitated to make the case for disbanding XMHs too strongly (or at all) because I don't have a lot of great examples of abuse at XMHs to throw out.

However, I did see some things that raised my eyebrows a few times in a couple of XMHs, I heard some rumors about some abuse issues in others and now I'm seeing on the web some more specific criticisms leveled at XMHs. Yet most of the above is hearsay!

Some things that bothered me as a witness to a few XMHs (but a forewarning some of this is thin when considered independently):

1. I'm aware that some XMHs had curfews even for post-college folks. I understood what they were for but it didn't seem the right spirit to me.

2. They did have a lot of meetings (not as many as one lady on this list claimed). I would say at most 4 a week. Yet I never had time even for that. I never was told I had to go to all these meetings (even as a XMH outsider), yet the pressure was there. Recent trends have diminished this pressure, I think.

3. I was never told I had to be in a XMH, yet I was told to consider it as a good idea. I said "no" and that was ok. Although the lure and periodic pressure was there.

4. The "admonishment" culture was a bit too much at times. I'm struggling for some good examples to recall at the moment, but I recall people being criticized (at times in front of a group) for being late (habitually). Also, I recall hearing about some nasty arguments that required intercession on behalf of the staff at Xenos. I recall some ordinary roommate issues becoming very oddly spiritual and requiring confrontation (I don't recall what they were about).

Yet I speak of vague memories and slippery examples here. Nevertheless, the whole picture of the XMH made me a bit nervous and I decided against it.

I don't believe I had anything to hide yet I felt anxious that living with other sinners such as my judgmental self could routinely fall into the habit of legalistic scrutiny. I reasoned it was one thing to take that periodic risk in a church (or other group), but another to live there being exposed to it daily.

Yet of course I realize that there is the daily dose of good friendship, camaraderie and Godly fellowship too. I saw much, much more of that.


Thus I will have to fall back on CD-host's observation that maybe some more "adult" oversight would benefit the XMHs rather than a full out banning (although I'm torn so I might change my mind tomorrow!).

One other thing: the appearance of the XMH structure bothered me a bit. If there's one that makes Xenos look cultic is the XMH with its intense concentration around young people, communal-appearing living and several weekly meetings. Even the phrase "Ministry House" sounds like something between a church and a half-way house!


Perhaps I'll think of some zingers later but this is it for now.

korienblueye

WildernessWonderer said...

Thanks, SZ.

Sociological Zephyr said...

Question about Church Discipline.

CD-Host: I have a question about a form of church discipline used against sinful leaders.

My church in Illinois (not Xenos-affiliated) has a policy that when a church pastor, elder or other teacher/staff member (those who are employed by the church) engages in a willful sinful behavior that they are to be compelled to confess their sin in front of the entire congregation during a weekend service. The intention is to hold the leaders to a higher standard of accountability as well as serve them as an example of what God wants of us.

I've yet to see this policy put into practice myself; however, I understand from a conversation with a pastor that a few years ago an elder was caught having porno on his church-owned laptop. He was led to confess his sin in front of the whole congregation and of course graciously allowed back into fellowship (probably under counsel). Yikes!

I really like the idea of holding our leaders' feet to the fire and keeping them accountable, but I wonder what are the unintended consequences of this policy? This policy does not apply to the average member.

Also, do you see any biblical, logical or other flaws in such a policy?


My wife thinks it's too stiff yet I'm uncertain about it.

Sociological Zephyr (korienblueye)

CD-Host said...

SZ --

That sort of policy isn't uncommon. The idea that is that a leader's sins reflect on the congregation and the congregation needs to reaccept them as a leader after any sin. In other words they could be removed from office. There are congregations that apply this standard to anything that a personal offensive even towards membership. It was very common 150 years ago among baptists.

The obvious unintended consequences are:

1) Such a policy encourages really good liars, or heavy cover ups. In other words leaders know they are going down if they get caught for a medium sized sin so it often leads to much more sin. A sort of Valerie Plame type situation.

2) It can often create uncomfortable situations where the leader wasn't sinning alone. Lets say for example he wasn't using porn but having affair.

But the main issue is that accusers are often held to a "prove it or be excommunicated" standard. At some point I'm going to cover Beecher Tilton church discipline case, where this features prominently, in that there were serious calls to excommunicate the people who had accused Beecher of adultery; and the congregationalist churches almost had a denominational split when other churches refused.

Anyway on balance it works pretty well. I think its a good policy, and in and of itself I wouldn't be concerned.

Anonymous said...

i'm not going to read any of the responses to this, but i do have a few things to say.

friends of mine at
have experienced church discipline here within my home group at xenos. they lied an manipulated us while they hid their lesbian relationship for several months. and we let them go for quite a while, during which time we encouraged them, rebuked them, and spent time trying to help them and get THEIR point of view so we best understood the situation.

In the end, the bible is very clear on what to do in situations like this. they were NOT repentant. they didn't want to change or follow god's will for their lives. they wanted to keep having sex with each other.

sex is great. i'll admit it. before i'd accepted christ i spent a lot of time in the extracirricular... but after accepting i read what the word had to say about it, and made the decisions i made because of that, not because of what someone told me to think.

you can hate the church. you can blame the people. but in the end, YOUR ISSUE IS BETWEEN YOU AND GOD. the bitterness you feel and all of that... let it go and look outside of yourself for a second.

our society is so engrossed and obsessed with "following our dreams," achieving on our terms, and getting fulfillment out of every situation.

IF JESUS HAD THAT KIND OF ATITUDE HE WOULDN'T HAVE DIED FOR US, HE'D HAVE FUCKED SOME HOE AND SAID, "SHIT, I'M THE SON OF GOD. I'LL DO WHAT I WANT."

Ed said...

I know exactly who anonymous is. I remember her and her fiance real well, because I used to live with him. We asked her husband to leave because he was manipulating people, he was getting drunk repeatedly, and he was stealing from other people. As a matter of fact, he was arrested and indicted on two felony charges. His trial is coming up here real soon. His former employer put a protection order on him, he's not allowed to come within 500 ft of his residence. This was after he was found prowling around the neighborhood spying on him and his wife. Also, he vandalized one of church leader's cars.

I Kissed SGM Goodbye said...

CD-Host..I stopped by the visit your blog and wow..what a shock. I'm not too pleased at the language used in some of these comments. Did you have to allow the comment two before this one with a curse word in a way that implies Jesus Christ could have said that? Reality is, he DIDN'T say that nor think it. And to try to make a point about His character by comparing his motives to mere men is, well, foolish to say the least.

I get the point the person was trying to make..but is that language really necessary?

I understand that many people "lose faith" after their spiritual abuse...believe me, I understand. But move through the bitterness and anger...while those emotions naturally follow leaving a cult-like church, anonymous poster, please don't spray the venom on everyone else. There are others out there trying to recover, and your anger doesn't help them.

And CD-Host, I like the intention behind your blog and have enjoyed reading it, until tonight. I wish you would have edited that last portion of his/her comment. It doesn't help me in any way to get past what I've been through, and doubtful it helps anyone else.

CD-Host said...

IKSG --

I don't have the ability to edit comments, I can delete or keep but not alter. As for bitterness, the Anonymous poster you are criticizing was approving of the discipline that is defending Xenos' actions. She is an evangelical Christian, still at Xenos defending Xenos.

Anyway I'm sorry you were offended by her comment.

If you read this and the other Xenos thread you'll see this is a group that is younger. I think she was using profanity there for shock value. In this case it was unsuccessful since as her case proved you couldn't get past the profanity to see the point she was making. Nikos Kazantzakis in Last Temptation tried to make the same point and he too was unsuccessful in getting to see the theological implication of Christ's being human and subject to temptation. I wouldn't be too hard on her. It is challenging. Marc Driscoll I think did do a good job of this in his "How human was Jesus" message.

Sociological Zephyr said...

Hi: there are a few reasons why you see here a Xenoid using profanity:
1. as Cd-Host says many xenoids are young and are new converts, many of whom by definition are newly growing and learning.
2. Xenos does not preoccupy itself with trivial and relatively unimportant sins such as foul language as legalists are apt to do. I know many churches and Christians who obsess about foul language but ignore materialism, a lack of concern for the poor and other more serious sins. Xenos challenges the bigger sins first, in short. Moreover, some churchs take a harder line against language because they've implicitly adopted a pagan magical view of the spoken word (i.e., words convey spiritual or magical power).

Mike said...

I partially agree with SZ. However, cutting someone down whether it be in person or online, is still misrepresenting Christ. That would be an issue that any bible-following Christian should address with another believer. The use of colorful words to emphasize a point in argument is not an issue at all. Your sixth-grade grammar teacher may disagree with me on that, but I wouldn't consider it a sin.

A church that admonishes an individual for real sin issues is just living out what the bible is telling them to do (Col 3:16, 2 Tim 4:2). Another thing, they are to correct that person carefully and lovingly. Admonishing someone unfairly is an issue that I believe is being addressed here. This is true, but is the church's concern not valid?

Anonymous said...

I've been going to Xenos meetings for the past eight months or so, and I've found this blog and subsequent responses (and links) to be very informative. Thanks to cd-host and others for this.

Before I ask any questions, I wanted to make something clear. First, it is very hard to hear that a group you support be called a cult, because the term "cult" has (obviously) negative connotations. However, Xenos IS a cult. The link given earlier to the definition on webster includes definitions developed by our culture over the past several generations. At its core, a cult is simply "a religious group devoted to a single person or deity". This is according to "An Anthology of Living Religions", by Fisher and Bailey. All other possible attributes of a cult, such as being centered around a charismatic leader, are not necessary to make a cult, a cult.

Finding this fact amusing because I'm a sick sad person, I tried to explain this to my discipler, and my amusement was not well received. Hehehe...

Um, anyway. I'm saying it's difficult to not offend someone with the truth when the truth has misplaced baggage attached.

So the reason I have found myself here is because I have heard that there are a number of people who have left Xenos because they have been psychologically damaged by Xenos, and I'm on the search to see the truth behind this. These people have had to seek counseling to be healed of their Xenos wounds...and I'm facing a personal issue with staying with a group that allows and encourages behavior that ends in this effect.

Too many times, I have heard personal stories from Xenos members include tales of depression, loneliness, and unhealthy habits before joining Xenos. And too many times, these same people state their reason for believing in the truth of Xenos is for the friends and fellowship they received from joining Xenos. In theory, these individuals could have been snatched up by another fellowship-centered group and found the same "truth" there. This is why I wasn't surprised to see theories that the disgruntled ex-Xenoids are disgruntled because of an unhealthy dependency upon relationships...it makes perfect sense.

However, if anyone has any personal stories where they or someone they knew were truly emotionally and spiritually abused and broken by Xenos, or if there are any other kinds of negative experiences, please share. I have a growing sense of things being somehow wrong, and there are several other issues that I have that, in the interests of keeping this under novel-length, I'll withhold until later.

Thanks in advance for any responses!


-Engine of Chaos

Ed said...

Sorry, but your definition of a cult is oversimplified. A cult is generally associated with a group that holds unconventional beliefs and exercises unlawful control over its members. Within Evangelical Christianity, a cult is even more explicitly defined. Here are the four areas of criteria for a mainstream church:

1) They must accept the doctrine of Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three persons make up the Godhead.

2) They must accept the Bible as the ultimate authority. No other texts can be accepted as scripture.

3) Eternal life is gained by God's grace through faith alone. It cannot be earned through good works.

4) As teachers, they must expound on scripture and not add onto it. They cannot take the place of God or be the final interpreter.

A classic example of a cult are the Jehovah's Witnesses. They deny Christ as God and reject the doctrine of Trinity. Christ is the human version of Michael, the archangel. They acknowledge the Bible as having authority, but have their own "edited" version of it. Eternal life is not gained through God's grace. They don't believe in hell, so everyone already has eternal life. Only the 144,000 will spend eternity in God's presence, the rest will live on a new Earth. The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has a governing body who serve as prophets. They have made hundreds of false predictions related to Armageddon. The group is also well-known for exercising extreme control over its members.

Xenos is a mainstream evangelical Christian church. It holds the same fundamental beliefs that other evangelical churches have. They pass all the criteria above with flying colors. They are highly regarded as a bible-believing church amongst other evangelical churches in the area. Essentially, the only people I have heard who are claiming Xenos is a cult are former members.

Anonymous said...

"Sorry, but your definition of a cult is oversimplified. A cult is generally associated with a group that holds unconventional beliefs and exercises unlawful control over its members."

It's not my definition; it is the definition, as I stated, by those who make a living studying religions. The authors of the book "An Anthology of Living Religions" are Mary Pat Fisher and Lee W. Bailey; read their book, and then I will welcome any dissent you may have with their definition, which I do agree with. To say that Evangelical churches have even more explicit definitions of a cult is to imply that they have the final say on the definition of a term, more so than a dictionary, and more so than those who study religions from a neutral point of view.

I am a current member of Xenos and I recognize it as a cult.

Yes, those who are former, disgruntled members refer to Xenos as a cult, but for the wrong reasons. It's like how "bitch" turned from a term referring to a female dog, to referring to a female human...they are not giving educated labels, they are slinging insults, and neither "bitch" nor "cult" were originally created with negative values attached.

But it's hard not to toe the line here. It's like when someone proclaims, "I'm a Luciferian!" for the shock value. ("Lucifer" means light-bringer, and in the Bible, Christ is referred to as "light-bringer", or "Lucifer". People who call themselves "Luciferians" are actually Christians who take advantage of our culture's reaction to the word "Lucifer".) But it is important to seek truth, not just what is "generally associated" with truth.

To say that P is generally associated with Q makes it clear that P is distinct from Q; it does make P identical with Q. P can include Q, which yes, cults can exemplify the quality you mentioned, but it is not always the case. The "oversimplified" definition is the best definition because it does not carry cultural baggage we attach to it because of negative experiences with cults.

I have had a mostly positive experience with Xenos. I love the people I have met, and a lot of what they have to say makes sense. When I disagree, I verbalize it, and I have never met with confrontation for the mere fact that I disagree.

But again, I DO have a feeling of something not being quite right. It's like strumming a guitar a few times, and slowly realizing that a string is out of tune. You're not entirely sure which string it is, or how out of tune the particular string is...but something is definitely amiss. What I'm looking for is an expert tuner, not an amateur identifier of the wood the guitar is made of. But thank you for your response, Ed.

-Engine of Chaos

Anonymous said...

*growls at self*

"To say that P is generally associated with Q makes it clear that P is distinct from Q; it does NOT make P identical with Q."

I did not include the "not" in the former incarnation of this sentence. I apologize.

-Engine of Chaos.

Ed said...

I'm not going to even bother trying to argue with you. You're just incredibly confused. You've read one book already about cults and now you consider yourself an expert? Please try to seriously consider this stuff before making any accusations.

Anonymous said...

I'm not making any accusations. To accuse is to assume that the claim being made is something with an intrinsic negative nature; I have made it clear that this is not what I am doing. You assume I've only read one book. You make no reference to any neutral source on the subject of the definition of a cult. You ignore the fact that the definition of a cult has nothing to do with my inquiry, therefore not contributing to the positive development of this discussion. If you have anything new to say on the definition of a cult with legitimate sources, please feel free to email me with them at arunima_x@hotmail.com. I do not feel that further discussion on this matter on this public forum with help it have a cohesive nature, because the nature of this forum, as I understand it, is determining whether or not Xenos is psychologically unhealthy for our community. I do regret bringing up the definition of a cult, because it has obviously deterred the conversation from its original purpose, and for that, I apologize to cd-host and to others who may stumble across this forum.

On a personal note, I have spent my life studying religions in general. I am fiercely passionate in the search for knowledge and truth when it comes to religion and spirituality, as I feel anyone should be when coming to a discussion such as this. Why not, instead of assuming that I am merely confused, instead of assuming that I come to a battlefield armed with a twig, test my knowledge? Email me.

-Engine of Chaos.

Anonymous said...

I'm coming to this discussion a bit late. My experience with Xenos was 20+ years ago. I moved to Columbus to be part of Xenos, and for about 10 months before I moved to Columbus I was making regular trips on the weekend to attend events at Xenos. From a distance-hanging out with home church members on the weekend and attending the Sunday night Central Teaching I was very impressed with the whole church. The teaching seemed solid and the people in the church seemed to be living the life they teached. Not perfect, but striving towards God.

My opinion changed after I moved to Columbus. There were a lot of things that caused me to change my opinion but I'll try to list a few of them in no particular order. Being in town and in one of the ministry houses during the weekdays was quite an eye opener. I found that some of the leaders of the home church I was attending were doing things that were quite unsavory. Like the HC leader that came running into the ministry house one night laughing and out of breath. He explained that he'd been over on the OSU campus tagging building and had been discovered by the police. A chance had ensued and he had made it safely back to the house.

Another thing that I found disturbing was that a lot of the events at the Thursday HC meetings were staged. The leaders in the home church would get together on Tuesdays and rehearse the meeting. The message would be read and then the group would work on the "spontaneous" responses that would be offered up during and after the message. I suppose you could argue that they were just making sure that the right points were being offered up during the meeting but why not make them part of the main message instead of making it seem like people were being moved by the message to comment and offer up questions.

I attended one of the Workers meetings one Saturday and was introduced to the Decision Timeline. Which was a timeline that workers were suppose to use in order to make sure they were being effective when witnessing to people. In essence it described the process of befriending people, bringing them around to the ministry house to be exposed to the church, inviting them to come to the church, witnessing to them and hopefully getting them to commit their lives to Christ. That's the good part. The bad part of it all is that they were saying that all of those steps should happen within a period of time-I think 3 months-after which the worker should move on and find another potential convert. I saw some of this going on in the time I was involved in Xenos but this meeting confirmed to me that I wasn't crazy when I saw people being dumped.

If you want to hear more, I'd be glad to share more of my experiences. I'm posting this anonymously not because I'm afraid-I just don't feel like registering at the moment. I'll do it if you would like me to do so.

CD-Host said...

Anonymous --

Welcome to the blog and thank you. You don't have to register but I'd love it if you included a name at the bottom to differentiate yourself from other anonymous posters.

Lots to comment on. I'm assuming "tagging" still means spray painting in which case I'd have to assume Xenos is rather strongly opposed. A church that caters to college students is going have those sorts of issues.

As for the 3 months are you saying there was actually a "love bombing" policy manual? Or rather that there was an outline of expected progress and goal time lines?

Anonymous said...

Yes tagging meant spray painting graffiti. The fact that he was one of the home church leaders made it especially disturbing. Our house was located just a couple of blocks north of campus, so it was "easy" for him to get back to it after that event.

The "love-bombing" was described as being a decision timeline. (It was over 20 years ago, so my memory of it isn't as clear as it was while I was sitting in the meeting the day they described it.) They had a graphic displayed on the screen at the front of the room showing a time line starting with the actual meeting of the person and ending with the decision of the person to give their life to Christ. The way it was described to the workers was that in order to be "effective" with people it was necessary to witness to as many people as possible. You didn't want to tarry in one place for too long because there were a lot of people that needed to know of God's love. This was also the meeting where they discussed the fact that they felt that Columbus was pretty much "fished out". (The meeting I attended was sometime in the first half of 1986.) By their estimate they had touched roughly 79,000 people and they felt the 3000 members at the time represented the number of people that could actually be saved in Columbus at that time, minus the annual influx of college students at Ohio State University. (No accident that there were a lot of ministry houses around campus.) They were looking to expand into Dayton and Cincinnati and had set up pilot churches in those cities. I left in August 2006 so I missed the great Xenos collapse that occurred towards the end of the 1980s.

Which brings up another point that doesn't get a lot of press. I was told by several people at Xenos during the year that I was actively involved with them that the original church, Fish House Fellowship, had apparently developed quite a reputation around Columbus back in the 1970s. At that time they were perceived to be somewhat cultish and had apparently been the subject of a series of news stories by the Columbus Citizen-Journal. They changed their name to Xenos in order to leave behind the Fish House reputation but the elders-Gary and Dennis in particular-had been in charge of both the old and new organizations. I personally would love to read the articles but finding them is on my list of things to do when I retire.

I would agree with the poster who stated that as far as the study of the Scriptures is concerned the Xenos is top notch. I remember that the time before I made the move to Columbus seemed like a golden age to me because I felt the teaching I was getting on Sunday evening was not only well-reasoned and deep but meaningful. I guess in retrospect I could sum up my experience with Xenos as one where I should "...do as they say, not as they do." since the execution of the teachings is where they seemed to fail so badly.

I'll set up a username for the next time I post. Look for NightHawk in the future-I hate being anonymous!

Anonymous said...

I am now invovled in a Xenos High School Home Church. I have had alot of worries about Xenos and being a cult. I just have been worried about this for about 6 or so months now because of things and words i see and hear in my Home church, at Ct and just the College Leaders.

CD-Host said...

Anonymous --

Would you mind picking a name at the bottom of your posts. This a thread with a lot of anonymous posters.

Anyway what have you seen or heard that is concerning you?

Night9Hawk said...

The only advice I would offer the Jan 5 2009 Anonymous poster is that I would be hesitant to call Xenos a cult. I know how you feel, given my own experiences with them. I think the feeling that they might be cult stems not from some systematic attempt on their part to be a cult but the overzealous actions of some of the home church leaders. I don't think the elders are fast enough to move in and take care of some of the problem home churches. Would you care to share what you've seen?

Timmy said...

I was almost kicked out of the church but I left before they had a chance I was there for 3 yrs almost 4 how it all started is. I meet a girl online starting dating her and of course got her to come to the new church that was split over on the east side well long story short she moved in with me. What dose not make since is there is someone who is drunk who had a DUI and is not being kicked out when is someone sin greater than an other. The answer is none it upset me and left a scar on me but I found a church who is welcoming me with open arms who's said they will never kick anyone out of church no matter what. If xenos is a calt idk the only thing I knew was I was confused. One of my friends said that it just didn't set right when ur friend (eric was disipling me) said u were stupid how r u going to learn anything when he calls u stupid all the time. I could tell u every ones name if u want to hear it. If u want to know what I think about xenos it is a upperclass church. They r stuck up snoobs that is what I think of the church.

CD-Host said...

Timmy --

Thank you for posting your story, and welcome to the blog. A few follow questions:

You seem like you were surprised by Xenos policy regarding establishing a long term non marital sexual relationship. During your almost 4 years at Xenos had you not seen other people disciplined for this? What about the various comments in Xenos literature about discipline?

You also made an interesting claim regarding economic class issues and Xenos. First off (if you don't mind me asking) where are you economically where do you believe the bulk of the membership was? What sort of class discrimination did you experience?

Finally which Eric is this? I looked through the staff list to find an Eric.

Night9Hawk said...

Where did you find the staff list? Does it include all the home church leaders?

CD-Host said...

The list I used was Xenos leaders.

Night9Hawk said...

I see that the list is just the elders-I was hoping they'd have information about the home churches as well. I'm curious to see of some of the people I knew are still in a position of leadership, but unfortunately I won't be able to find that information from your link. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CD-Host said...

Anonymous (latest one) --

If you are still following, have you had contact with Xenos after the splits of the 1990s? Your comments seem to go back quite a bit. Evidently there were some substantial changes in policies since then? If so can you give more modern examples of the sorts of behavior you are talking about?

For example the story about a leader threatening (it sounds like physically) a 15 year old girl, doesn't sound like the sort of behavior most churches would tolerate much less encourage. What was Dennis / upper leadership's reaction to this story?

CD-Host said...

I have to say I'm getting rather frustrated with anonymous posters posting comments about Xenos and then not answering followups about what specifically happened, who and when. With abusive churches I'm generally able to get a fairly clear story, and that is not the case with Xenos at all.


I appreciate E for sticking around on the other thread and making her point about informal group pressure. We disagreed but she defended her point of view and I respect that about her even if I believe she was wrong on the facts. But these accusations without follow up or even much clarity seem very very wrong to me.

So I'll repeat what I've said. So far in lots and lots and lots of conversation I have yet to see evidence that Xenos encourages or even tolerates misconduct with regards to discipline from 1991 on. I do not believe they are a cult. I don't think anyone would accuse this blog of mindless cheerleading for churches. I continue to say my feeling is that Xenos is not guilty.

Icy Mt. said...

I be only relatively anonymous. I'll also come back if anyone's interested. First of all, in any church, there will be knuckleheads. I've regularly attended Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Christian Church/Church of Christ, and Catholic "Churches". At every single one there were a couple of charismatic, overbearing, my-way-or-the-highway types. Of course, I've also found them in every workplace, club, society or whatever. It shouldn't be Headline News that these kinds of people are often in leadership. I also don't find it surprising that a certain percentage of people that come in contact with a leader of any group come away with a bad taste. I've led a few groups of 10, 50 or 100 and there were a few in each that probably don't have anything good to say about me because something went my way (or the majority of the group's way) and not theirs. I'm human. They're human. We're all human. So give Dennis or whoever(insert the particular knucklehead in your group here) a little grace, build a bridge, and get over it.

Speaking specifically to Xenos, this is a church group with a rather strict doctrine on right and wrong. It's called the Bible. See www.biblegateway.com for examples. They are also very big on encouraging their friends to serve God as hard as they can. I have been in a group at Xenos where I was exhorted to go to more meetings, attend more classes, be discipled by this one or that one, attend this teaching, do this ministry until I would have not had a single minute to do anything else outside of my full time job. I just didn't do it. I made it clear that there was a limit to my involvement in Xenos. One person actually told me, "Well, then maybe you aren't 100% committed to God." My answer, "Dude, maybe that's true, but Xenos and God aren't the same thing." I am still happily in a home group at Xenos and I am just ending a three year stint leading a junior high bible study group. I spend 2 or 3 nights a week in fellowship or ministry. Of course, I am about twice the age of the average college student. I understand that bucking the trend when you are living in a ministry house is far more difficult. When 95% of your deep personal relationships are in a church, any church, taking a stand that might cool their relations with you is a very scary thing. Having once been 21 years old, I know it is even scarier at that point in your life. Is it hard to make a decision to walk away from best friends and find new ones? Absolutely. That makes the decision difficult but not impossible. I personally know a ministry house full of young men that are getting a first class education at OSU and managing to maintain their grades, activities and relationships outside of Xenos as well. If it is hard to walk away, you are in the Body of Christ. If it is impossible, you are in a cult.

I have seen Xenos discipline first hand. We had a married lady in our group who was cheating on her husband. She was open about it but refused to stop. She was asked to leave the group. Let me ask you, both ladies and gentlemen, would you really want to spend regular time with an unrepentant, cheating spouse? (I'll bet I know your spouse's answer to that question!) Does it matter whether they are a member of your group or not? Can you imagine what that would do to a group of married couples who are trying to remain faithful to each other? Any organization has rules, bylaws, dues, etc. There is a group called the American Society for Quality. If you don't pay annual dues, you aren't a member. If you are not "Being honest and impartial in serving the public, their employers, customers, and clients" you will be asked to leave the group. Why would we expect a Christian group to be any less rigorous in their requirements? I would expect them to be more so than a secular group.

I've been kicked out of a few places. It's never fun to be the one on the wrong end of the stick. However, the vast majority of the time I listen to a story (including mine) where someone gets tossed out on their ear, they deserve it. Does it happen injustly in churches, businesses, clubs, etc? Yep. That doesn't mean you toss the discipline out, too. Take a stand people. Just because you won't beleive in everything doesn't mean that you have to believe in nothing.

Smooth Jazz said...

Hi there, CD & Co! My name is Keith McCallum, and I've been an elder, teacher, leader and church-planter for decades in various Xenos churches. I just wanted to stop by to say "Hi", and it's a very interesting discussion you've got going on here. It seems you're taking an objective and reasonable approach to these issues.

I would invite you to take a look at a couple of blogs I recently posted, inspired by your work here. I will also come back to provide more info & feedback here.

Keep at it!

See http://remonstrance.neoblogs.org/the-cult-thing/

Dennis said...

Hi, I'm dennis Mccallum. So, my brother told me about this thread, which I hadn't seen until now.
There were a couple of issues raised that I might be able to help with.
First, a question was raised earlier about screening people for ministry houses. What we do is have this ministry house covenant http://www.xenos.org/classes/papers/minhse.htm which defines what a ministry house is, and what the expectations are. Since ministry houses are a special arrangement for people who want to live at a high level of committment, it's different than the rest of the church. Also, we've had cases where people move in and won't work, expect others to pay their rent for them, steal, accost other members, etc. So you need something to refer to that they agreed to and that they aren't keeping.
Secondly, that one anonymous poster said a lot of thing about me, and I'd like to deny each and every one of her baseless claims.
Finally the post about the "decision timeline" was misleading. It was a "decision continuum" which is standard stuff taken from mainline books on evangelism. We didn't come up with it. And the teaching was not that people HAVE TO go through the decision making process in three months, but that students usually do. We also point out that some poeple need longer, up to years. You can see our teaching material and lecture notes on this at http://www.xenos.org/classes/christianministry/missionsandevangelism/index.htm
So, there's nothing strange here or unusual, but it just goes to show that by referring to something real, but altering one or two details, a nasty picture is created, when nothing nasty is going on.

E said...

Monitor this thread occasionally, and I can’t resist commenting. Both of the recent entries are interesting enough that I’ll comment on each in separate entries. A few points before:
+ CD, part of the reason people may stay anonymous (and for this reason I wouldn’t mind staying at least partially anonymous, though it appears google has failed to keep me all that anonymous) is the tendency for Xenos members to blast detractors. By no means is it as sinister as a group like the Church of Scientology, but the consequences could easily becomes real enough. I think I could survive a few ad hominem broadsides from people who knew me in Xenos, but I have family members who wouldn’t feel as comfortable with such things. I would like to respect their interests.
+ It is partly for this reason that those of us who, at whatever level, criticize Xenos (my criticism is limited enough) feel uncomfortable providing lots of details on events. Events reveal identity. I at times felt as if CD and Sociological Zephyr wanted several sworn affadavits followed by an FBI investigation with wiretaps to believe anything I or anyone else said. Any person I could point to as being treated unfairly would be subject to ad hominem attacks. I have leaders in Xenos tell me they thought people were treated unfairly. Any of these I could point to or quote might not want to be quoted, and might deny the conversation. Besides, there is A LOT OF EVIDENCE for what I’m saying in the writing of Xenos members.
+ I am aware little progress is probably possible in the argument. Nevertheless, reading Icy Mountain and Keith McCallum’s suggestions about what is actually going on and the implications about people who have left under frustrating circumstances made me so upset that I started trembling in a university library and dropped working on a major paper to write these responses.
+ As previously, my point in only to defend some of those who DARE criticize Xenos. Xenos members have here leveraged yet more nasty, albeit subtle, arguments against folks who have left. I am not committing myself to proving anything about Xenos per se, just defending former members criticisms. Certainly accusing any group of being a “cult” is going to carry little water anywhere. Cult is an enormously pejorative term, and I don’t feel comfortable pointing this finger at any group except groups that openly espouse violence. Xenos is a mixed bag – it does good things as well – but never doubt that people who have left have experienced some nasty things.
Which brings me to an argument brought against me by “Ed” and now furthered in a more sophisticated way by Icy Mountain. The argument goes something like “we’re all human. Xenos leaders and members are human. Maybe something difficult did happen to you. Get over it. Life is difficult for everyone.”
To quote Icy Mountain directly: “I understand that bucking the trend when you are living in a ministry house is far more difficult. When 95% of your deep personal relationships are in a church, any church, taking a stand that might cool their relations with you is a very scary thing. Having once been 21 years old, I know it is even scarier at that point in your life. Is it hard to make a decision to walk away from best friends and find new ones? Absolutely. That makes the decision difficult but not impossible.”
Lots of bad things happen to people in this world. People are poor, struggle at work, are treated unfairly by society, and have numerous other things happen to them. The “difficult but not impossible” criterion to accepting these things could be applied to any negative event. Been assaulted? Get over it, difficult but not impossible. Had a terrible time in high school? Get over it, difficult but not impossible. Been unjustly fired from a job? Get over it, difficult but not impossible.
Life itself is “difficult but not impossible.” When a “human” institution is engaged in something questionable, however, this does not preclude us from criticizing it. It also does not preclude someone who has been painfully treated from being angry.
As for the oft-leveled counter argument from Xenos members “we’re just human too.” True enough. Problem is you claim to be something quite beyond human. When a group claims to be the Truth about reality, encourages high levels of member participation accordingly, criticizes other churches accordingly, criticizes FORMER MEMBERS accordingly, and encourages group cohesion accordingly, I’m not sure it is fair for such a group to then withdraw into the “we’re human” argument.

E said...

Now, the blog entry by Keith McCallum. I don’t think I have ever met Keith. I won’t make any guesses at his motives, while allowing (to be fair) that it could be intended to be both rhetorical and slightly mocking at the newspaper articles he mentioned. I don't think it was intended to be entirely balanced. Trying to stick to what he wrote directly:
+ “He ran into some BIZARRE stories which led him to research Xenos”
- Par for the course, dismissive of former members. Why "bizarre?" Are all of these people liars?
+ “Actually, we get in trouble at Xenos with other churches because we’re too damn loose! Xenoids will cuss, drink, party, go to bars (even raves!), dance, smoke, and carry-on like heathens sometimes—they don’t seem strict in the least.”
- This is, I think, a disingenuous argument often advanced by people in Xenos. Actually, positioning yourself against many other churches in such a way is MORE predictive that Xenos would be cohesive by stint of the value placed in its specialness.
+ “The original practice of Shunning – and the term still carries that taint – arises from an irrational fear of the real world (i.e. modern world) by separatists and cultish-groups. I wouldn’t want to be called a “Shunner” by anyone—it means you’re close-minded, scared, uptight, and very coercive.”
- How about the definition of “shun” from a dictionary? From New American “persistently avoid, ignore, or reject.” Without any doubt Xenos will do this to members it does not like. I believe Dennis himself mentions this in his interview. He denies that it happens, but says “Members are urged to not fellowship in a way that would bring comfort to the one under discipline, causing him/her to feel no reason to return to fellowship. This usually means not going out socially, etc. unless it is to discuss restoration. No rules about not doing business with the person. Also, families are usually considered an exception. We realize they will have social contact in the context of their family activities.” Kind of the church to allow contact with families I suppose. People criticize this practice because psychologically this an enormously powerful weapon, and destructive. As I mentioned before, “denying fellowship” is a favorite weapon of teenage cliques.
+ “Why are religious groups singled-out as “Shunners”, but not the Democrats and Republicans? You can’t join both parties, you know, they won’t let you—Republicans can’t infiltrate Democrat headquarters.”
- Democrats and Republicans are political groups that advance specific agendas. They do not claim to be the whole truth of reality, nor do college members live in special houses together designed to actively foster more Democrats and Republicans.
+ “What’s bad is when someone wants to go their “separate way” and also demand that everyone else go that way too!”
- I agree with this statement, sometimes it just happens in groups. I don’t think anyone would deny this. What’s bad is when someone was brought into the church through social means (i.e. a person suddenly has a bunch of friends) then removed in exactly the same way (said friends are removed). When this happens it is destructive, and doesn’t usually require any formal steps. Do I think I think a person can recover from this? Sure. Nevertheless, a person also has every right to be angry about it too, and this is my main sticking point.
+ “It’s also a great way to trash whatever defense we might offer: “You’re talking like someone else is controlling you,” so there’s no need to listen or dialog rationally.”
- This is a tad ironic when you accuse detractors of being postmodernists, isn’t it?

Dennis said...

BTW, CD, on your case study, I find the story hard to believe, but am willing to investigate it. Disciplining a person who no longer comes is directly against our policy and instruction to leaders. If this did happen, which I doubt, it was wrong.

CD-Host said...

First off Dennis, welcome! And E welcome back! If you would like me to delete that other name I'll be happy to just let me know here or email. Given that this thread is now going on in about a 1/2 dozen blogs many having to do with Xenos Akron I'm thinking a separate post might make sense, so I started a new thread for Akron related issues. I'd like Keith to be able to address Keith's church and Dennis Dennis'.

CD-Host said...

E --

You are absolutely right that the details I was looking for might reveal identity. I'm not looking for FBI but enough that the information would be confirmable or deniable. There is a lot of church abuse out there (as you know from where we met). There is a tradition in the Christian community (including the x-christian, or recovery community) to engage in horrible false claims as a way of advancing arguments. I believe based on several years I'm seeing the 2nd being directed at Xenos by X-Xenos members for reasons so far I've been unable to determine.

This has always been my problem with the anti-Xenos people (as you know and we've discussed). I haven't had those problems with other churches. Pastor A at church B excommunicated C on data D on charges of E to achieve F,G,H as supported by I and J, would be perfect. But I'll settle for 1/2 or a 1/3rd of that. When I can't get any of it I get suspicious.

Take the claim of a leader corning a 15 year old girl. I can completely believe that happened. But that in and of itself doesn't reflect on Xenos. It only reflects on Xenos once other details are present: how did Dennis react when he heard, have other girls been intimidated (is it a pattern), is this a strategy for building cohesion in the group or weeding (for example looking for girls who respond to violence threats by getting affectionate or getting submissive or trying to weed out girls that responded aggressively or told an adult). It doesn't tell me anything about Xenos until I have details. So all I have right now is an anonymous poster telling me a story that at one of Xenos' countless meeting involving your people, one leader got ticked at a girl and yelled at her based on 2nd or 3rd hand knowledge.

I stand by not giving that a great deal of weight in declaring Xenos an abusive church, except in the negative, "that's the worst you got".

Every 5000 person institution has those kinds of problems.

There are religious groups that use threats of violence: rape and acid burings primarily to keep young women in line; I know of 0 groups of this type active in the United States. Xenos is a large institution if they were engaging in violent threats against teens I suspect they wouldn't still be in business. Even tolerating it would be very risky. But at least I want to know what anonymous is claiming Xenos attitude towards adult on teen threats are: policy, unofficial policy, encouraged, ignored, mildly discouraged but tolerated or strongly discouraged. If he isn't even willing to clarify the claim....

Well I'm just repeating our discussion from last year. So I'll stop.

As Icy Mountain said, people can lose their top with teenagers. At worst that what happened. And my guess if you asked the adult the cell phone went of 5 times, two people told her to sush it but there was cute boy texting her so she turned it back on and he didn't realize he let his anger show... And if it is that sort of story it doesn't really belong here.

I've also dealt with people from other church who don't want to be identified. Their stories are filled with details they just drop names.

CD-Host said...

E --

With regard to your second point on Keith and Dennis and shunning. First off all they disagree with each other nor do I think they are clear on the distinction between shunning and non shunning excommunications as practiced by many churches. That is I think they are incorrect in their definitions. Mind you I don't think they are lying, I think they genuinely believe they don't shun.

My personal take is that the evidence is pretty clear from both the critics and Dennis' interview. Xenos does shun, but they have a mild shunning policy. The "Degree of Punishment" answers by Dennis outline an understanding of policy that seems to be consistent with the claims made by the critics of Xenos. Many of the unpublished answers were in the same vein. Xenos is using social pressure to create a quick jolt. They aren't trying to tear families apart permanently. Additionally I think the most clarifying question was:


CD: Given that Xenos has a very young membership this one may not come up. How lasting are the effects of exclusion? For example, assume you discovered that a person who was a good quality member of a small church for 2 years had been disciplined 15 years earlier for a sin at the time (non reoccurring). Some church would excommunicate either on principle or for the deception. In others there would there be a general tendency towards restoration given that the underlying issue being so far in the past and that discipline in this case is likely to be harmful. Assuming you would go along with restoration what about things that might change within a decade. For example someone excluding as an undergraduate for persistent fornication that seeks to return during graduate school, now married to another woman.

Dennis: We would respect someone's change in lifestyle as fruit in keeping with repentance; and show them grace.
A Jehovah's Witness, Scientologist, Amish, right wing reformed baptist would never give that answer. They would be enraged the person hadn't gone through proper restoration, "fornication compared to a deliberate policy of subversion..." There are whole books of Catholic doctrine dealing with the wrongly excommunicated and their obligations. To answer that cavalierly requires a view of discipline which is short term, "we are going to try this and see if it works". And it seems to fit with Xenos' personality.

So that's my $.02.

CD-Host said...

Dennis --

2 follow ups.

First what is your feeling about the idea of a middle aged couple dropping in say 1x every 2 weeks to sort of check on house leaders?


Second, this came up somewhat in response to Keith's comments on his blog. I wasn't sure about this. If you had the chance for a meaty excommunication (hundreds of pages of testimony and argument about complex very borderline sins...) would you be excited "this is gonna be fun" or more of the "if I need 300 pages to figure out if they crossed the line then they are close enough to the line I'm not gonna worry about it". I'm pretty sure Keith is in the 2nd camp where would you be?

Dennis said...

I do think it's a personal attack and should be deleted. THanks

Icy Mt. said...

E:"I have leaders in Xenos tell me they thought people were treated unfairly. Any of these I could point to or quote might not want to be quoted, and might deny the conversation. Besides, there is A LOT OF EVIDENCE for what I’m saying in the writing of Xenos members."
It is absolutely undeniable that people have been treated unfairly at Xenos. In any organization of this size, constituted of fallible humans, unfairness will happen. I think that the only thing that anyone here has asked for was a chance to correct that unfairness. Sometimes you cannot correct your mistakes, only ask for forgiveness and put structures in place to prevent mistakes in the future. The only thing fair in my life is my car...fair to poor.

E: "...now furthered in a more sophisticated way by Icy Mountain."
Thank you, I think. Anonymity is illusory. I expect that I'll have made some new friends (wink, hi Keith, Dennis, CD, E) before the week is over. I don't discount your, our anyone else's, anger at all. I've been there. I just ask that you don't hang the cult label on this church because of it. By all means, express yourself. It allows us to make changes to assure that the kinds of mistreatment that have been brought up in this thread are prevented in the future. Neither I nor any of the other Xenos leaders have ever claimed to be "something quite beyond human." I, for one am all too aware of my human failings.

E "persistently avoid, ignore, or reject."
Please see my previous entry and tell me that you would willingly hang out with someone whose views are distinctly different from your own and injurious to your position in your community. This is not something that comes down from on high in Xenos but is a direct result of the activities of the person in question. From this definition, we can accuse Riverwood Chapel of shunning Xenos members after people protested a Xenos meeting and accused them of being a cult.

E: "Democrats and Republicans are political groups that advance specific agendas. They do not claim to be the whole truth of reality, nor do college members live in special houses together designed to actively foster more Democrats and Republicans."
I don't want to dismiss this casually but I'm feeling froggy. My college experience with the campus fraternites supports the opposite view.

CD" First what is your feeling about the idea of a middle aged couple dropping in say 1x every 2 weeks to sort of check on house leaders?"
Absolutely excellent idea. As someone whose 16 year-old son wants to live in a ministry house while attending college, I think that this is a great idea. If I'm not mistaken, oversight of this sort is already in place. Can we formalize this? I know that parents in my junior high group have my mentor's phone number. They can, and do, call him when we have issues. I have had parents sit in on our group meetings.

gothic-oreo said...

Dennis said...

BTW, CD, on your case study, I find the story hard to believe, but am willing to investigate it. Disciplining a person who no longer comes is directly against our policy and instruction to leaders. If this did happen, which I doubt, it was wrong.

April 24, 2009 5:47 PM
Oh, it did happen Dennis.

BTW, this is another petty standard Xenos tactic. Whenever somebody presents something that goes against what they say, they do their best to cast doubt on source. This is the reason I will not name names, or even homechurches. This is because I still live in the area, and I have seen the damage Xenos can do to ones reputation.

I remember a CT Teaching that Dennis gave around 99-00. Somebody asked him in the Q&A afterwards What if somebody mentions contradictions in the bible. Dennis then told them to shoot back with "What contradictions?".

There are other ways to work around issues like that in evangelism, but Dennis advocated to the college group at the time to use misdirection and deflection.

As I said, SOP.

stewicked said...

Dennis said...

BTW, CD, on your case study, I find the story hard to believe, but am willing to investigate it. Disciplining a person who no longer comes is directly against our policy and instruction to leaders. If this did happen, which I doubt, it was wrong.
Dennis, this did happen. I am the woman mentioned in the study. I watched my now husband have sit downs with first one member of the church, then two members, and then those two members and a member of leadership. He had stopped coming to home church and all the other meetings for at least a month at the time this happened.

After the third meeting he was told by people who were supposedly his closest friends that because he would not stop partaking in the sin of premarital sex with me the church would no longer allow them to associate with him.

He had already chosen to not attend the church for a multitude of reasons. The church went through the discipline and shunning process anyway. Rather than let him live his life and continue his relationships with people inside the church that were not solely based on his membership Xenos took that away from him by officially shunning him.

gothic-oreo said...

Here is a run in I had with a Xenoid online in 2006. I think it illustrates quite clearly Xenos methods, as well as attitudes for ex-members. I have it posted at http://gothic-oreo.livejournal.com/291928.html

I recently joined an e-group for ex members of Xenos Christian Fellowship to offer one another support. Apparently, a member of Xenos joined, and after a few exchanges, he finally revealed his hand on why exactly he was there. His mission was not understanding, as he had previously claimed, but to further the cycle of spiritual oppression Xenos has become so well known for in he Columbus Area.



From: "Chris Hogg"
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2006 11:00:58 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: [xenos_survivors_group] Re: About this groups settings

Hi -

I spend quite a bit of time on the Internet, and am exposed to quite a bit of information on a variety of topics, organizations, ideas, etc. And I find that I almost always have "questions and concerns" about myself, and others as well.

I think the issue here is to seek the truth, and to objectively evaluate what people say .

Because I am a follower of Christ, and because I am committed to the view that the Bible is in fact God's written word / record, I use the Bible, as best as I am able, as the final, defining authority in my life.

One can, and in my opinion should, run everything and every organization through a "biblical grid" on a rather consistent basis, else we are left to our own ideas of what is right or wrong and will be forced to live lives of nothing more than convenience and / or expediency.

To date, based on spending several hours reading all the posts on Byron's blog and in this group, and having what I consider to be a pretty good handle on what constitutes a group truly being a cult (in the religious sense), I do not see Xenos falling into that category.

I see a lot of hurt and feel a lot of pain by the folks who are posting here, but I see no biblical arguments / criteria being used to evaluate Xenos in particular or the Christian faith in general.

For example, when I attended Ohio State in the 1960s I became involved in the Army ROTC program and in an organization, Pershing Rifles, that is a national military honorary association. All my friends here were in ROTC. I lived on 11th Avenue in a complex of four apartment units that contained all ROTC / Pershing Rifle cadets. I hung out in the ROTC building on Lane Avenue when I wasn't in class. I partied with these folks. I gave up my spring breaks two different years to go to Fort Knox to help prepare ROTC cadets for their summer camp experience. We went to each other's weddings. Some of us now attend reunions together.

People live lives like this every day. My experience was probably no different than hundreds (thousands?) of other college students who were at the time involved in fraternities, sororities, clubs, academic groups, bird watchers, bowling / softball / football teams and etc.

So until someone can make a viable case for me being "in a cult" during my undergraduate years (before I was a Christian), or a biblical case for Xenos being a cult when its members do what others do in different fields, I am unconvinced that Xenos is or tends toward being a cult.

We need to remember two things, I think:

1) Groucho Marx is said to have quipped that he wouldn't want to belong to an exclusive country club that offered him membership, because it would allow people like him to join.

2) There is only one way to find or develop the perfect church: have it meet in my living room, and me be the only person who attends.

Certainly any group of people (families, office teams, sports teams, religious organizations, email groups, nations, etc) will have problems, will cause each other grief, and will wittingly and unwittingly hurt each other.

Such is the human condition.

Would you agree?

Thanks.

Chris
Columbus



After posting this, the moderator decided to rescind his membership. I decided to pursue a debate.



Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2006 16:33:53 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: [xenos_survivors_group] Re: About this groups settings


> I think the issue here is to seek the truth, and
> to objectively evaluate what people say .
>
> Because I am a follower of Christ, and because I
> am committed to the view that the Bible is in fact
> God's written word / record, I use the Bible, as
> best as I am able, as the final, defining authority
> in my life.

I for one would like to know how one objectively seeks
"truth" when they are only seeking through a filter of
what they consider truth. You say you are objective,
but then reveal your bias in the very next statement.

> One can, and in my opinion should, run everything
> and every organization through a "biblical grid" on
> a rather consistent basis, else we are left to our
> own ideas of what is right or wrong and will be
> forced to live lives of nothing more than
> convenience and / or expediency.

Heaven for fend we use our God given reasoning and
free will to make our own decisions without a two
thousand year old book to tell us how to use them.
Whatever happened to the law being written on men's
hearts?

Ecclesiastes 11:9
Walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight
of thine eyes.

> To date, based on spending several hours reading
> all the posts on Byron's blog and in this group, and
> having what I consider to be a pretty good handle on
> what constitutes a group truly being a cult (in the
> religious sense), I do not see Xenos falling into
> that category.

The fact that you are saying this in a cult survivors
group dedicated to your church should be telling
enough on it's own, but since the Bible does not deal
with this directly, I will continue to enlighten you.

> I see a lot of hurt and feel a lot of pain by the
> folks who are posting here, but I see no biblical
> arguments / criteria being used to evaluate Xenos in
> particular or the Christian faith in general.

I like this. It shows just how insensitive Xenos
leadership can be. Your pain and hurt is nothing
because you did not quote scripture to go along with
it.

> For example, when I attended Ohio State in the
> 1960s I became involved in the Army ROTC program and
> in an organization, Pershing Rifles, that is a
> national military honorary association. All my
> friends here were in ROTC. I lived on 11th Avenue
> in a complex of four apartment units that contained
> all ROTC / Pershing Rifle cadets. I hung out in the
> ROTC building on Lane Avenue when I wasn't in class.
> I partied with these folks. I gave up my spring
> breaks two different years to go to Fort Knox to
> help prepare ROTC cadets for their summer camp
> experience. We went to each other's weddings. Some
> of us now attend reunions together.
>
> People live lives like this every day. My
> experience was probably no different than hundreds
> (thousands?) of other college students who were at
> the time involved in fraternities, sororities,
> clubs, academic groups, bird watchers, bowling /
> softball / football teams and etc.

Did these organizations tell you what to believe? Did
they dictate your sex life? Did they dictate who you
were to spend time with unless you were trying to get
them to join? Did they expel homosexual members? Did
they denigrate the philosophies of those who did not
agree with them? Healthy rivalry aside, did they say
they were the only way to do whatever they were doing?


> So until someone can make a viable case for me
> being "in a cult" during my undergraduate years
> (before I was a Christian), or a biblical case for
> Xenos being a cult when its members do what others
> do in different fields, I am unconvinced that Xenos
> is or tends toward being a cult.

Until you can make a case for Xenos being a social or
recreational club, your "example" holds no water.

Now as far as biblical basis, how can you base
anything on so contradictory a document. There are
way to many to list here, but some choice ones are:

Does God destroy both the righteous and the wicked?

God destroys both the righteous and the wicked.
Job 9:22
He destoyeth the perfect and the wicked.

Ecclesiastes 7:15
All things have I seen in the days of my vanity:
there is a just man that perisheth in his
righteousness, and there is a wicked man that
prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

Ezekiel 21:3
Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I am againsth thee,
and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and
will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.

God destroys the wicked, not the righteous.

Ezekiel 18:8-9
He that ... hath walked in my statutes, and hath
kept my judgments, to deal truly; his is just, he
shall surely live, saith the Lord.

Ezekiel 18:19-20:
When the son hath done that which is lawful and
right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done
them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it
shall die.

Ezekiel 33:18-19
When the righteous turneth from his righteousness,
and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby.
But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do
that which is l awful and right, he shall live
thereby.

Is it OK to marry (or stay married to) unbelievers?
Is it OK to touch them or be friends with them?

Yes.

1 Corinthians 7:12-14
If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and
she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her
away. And the woman which hath an husband that
believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her,
let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is
sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is
sanctified by the husband: else were your children
unclean; but now are they holy.

No, they are unclean.

Is there an unforgivable sin?

Yes.

Matthew 12:31-32
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and
blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the
blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven
unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the
Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever
speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be
forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the
world to come.

Mark 3:29
But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost
hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal
damnation.

Luke 12:10
But unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy
Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

No.

Acts 13:39
And by him all that believe are justified from all
things.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17
Be ye not unequally yoked together with
unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness
with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light
with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with
Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an
infidel? ... Wherefore come out from among them, and
be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the
unclean thing; and I will receive you.

May Adam eat from any tree?

Adam may eat from every tree.

Genesis 1:29
Behold, I have given your every herb bearing seed,
which is upon the face of all the earth, and every
tree ... to you it shall be for meat.

There is one tree from which Adam may not eat.

Genesis .2:17
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
thou shalt not eat of it.

Can women be church leaders?

Yes, they can.

Acts 18:26
"Priscilla ... expounded unto him the way of God."

Romans 16:1
"I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a
servant of the church."

("I commend you to our sister Phoebe, a deaconess
of the church." -- The Revised Standard Version)

Romans 16:7
"Junia ... of note among the apostles"

No, they cannot.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for
it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are
commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their
husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak
in the church."

1 Timothy 2:11-12
"Let the woman learn in silence with all
subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to
usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

Is the law of God perfect?

Yes.

Psalm 18:30
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the
LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust
in him.

Psalm 19:7
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the
soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise
the simple.

No.

Hebrews 8:6-7
But now hath he obtained a more excellent
ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a
better covenant, which was established upon better
promises. For if that first covenant had been
faultless, then should no place have been sought for
the second.

If this id the divinely inspired word of the God of
the Universe, he is either schizophrenic, or changes
his mind a lot.

But all sarcasm aside, the Bible contradicts itself in
a lot of places, and we could both cherry pick till we
are blue in the face on whether or not Xenos is a
Church of God or a Synogoge of Satan.

> We need to remember two things, I think:
>
> 1) Groucho Marx is said to have quipped that he
> wouldn't want to belong to an exclusive country club
> that offered him membership, because it would allow
> people like him to join.

What exactly does this have to do with any of this?

> 2) There is only one way to find or develop the
> perfect church: have it meet in my living room, and
> me be the only person who attends.
>
> Certainly any group of people (families, office
> teams, sports teams, religious organizations, email
> groups, nations, etc) will have problems, will cause
> each other grief, and will wittingly and unwittingly
> hurt each other.

Most of those organizations also will not dictate your
life to you and tell you God is not happy with your
behavior if you do not listen.

> Such is the human condition.
>
> Would you agree?

Obviously not.



What comes next is really interested, confronted with tangible examples, he falls back on Dogma and circular reasoning.



"Chris Hogg"
Subject: Re: [xenos_survivors_group] Re: About this groups settings

Hello Miu -

Thanks for responding.

You've certainly listed a great number of Bible passages which deserve to be looked at . . . but I think this is probably not the forum to do that, for many reasons, not the least of which is that there is a tremendous amount of already published texts addressing these "contradictions" on both sides. And as you said, hours and hours (days and weeks?) could be spent making opposing lists of Bible verses.

You and I obviously disagree regarding the authenticity and reliability of the Bible, and whether or not it is from God or from men . . . an issue / argument that has been around since the beginning (see, for example, Genesis 3:1).

I would like to address one point you brought up, if I may.

You stated: "I for one would like to know how one objectively seeks "truth" when they are only seeking through a filter of what they consider truth. You say you are objective, but then reveal your bias in the very next statement."

This is a basic question, "What is truth?" and also relates to the issue of how you or I or anyone can know the truth.

I did not say I was objective. And I certainly am not objective if by that you mean I look at whatever is presented to me and then choose an option based on what seems right or feels right or I think might be right, at a particular time or in a particular place, without first applying some standard of evaluation.

What I said was that I believe the Bible to be God's Word, and that I use the Bible as a sieve or grid to evaluate what I am presented with.

Everyone approaches knowledge and what may be known in the same manner. You, for example, apparently do not use the Bible to evaluate your environment, but surely you use some other measure, such as your past experience, or some belief system, some other religious dogma, etc. Someone else may evaluate truth based on what their parents told them, what scholars say, what they can see or touch or smell.

Wouldn't you agree that we all bring everything in our past (nature and nurture) to bear on evaluating whether something is true or not? Doesn't each of us use *some* criteria and value system to determine what we will accept as truth? Can you think of any rational person who accepts everything as truth without any evaluation, or, rejects everything as a lie with no standard of evaluation?

Jesus Christ came into my life 26 years ago. Since then I have come to believe, based on both scholarship and personal experience, that, as I've said elsewhere, the Bible is reliable and sets forth knowable truth. I have commited myself to, as best I can, accepting and living, and when the time comes dying, by what the Bible teaches. To date, after 26 years, I have found that I have yet to be let down, led astray or otherwise abused by submitting to the authenticity and authority of the Bible. I have suffered significant physical and emotional pain in my life, have known failures and frustrations (some current at this moment), have experienced broken relationships, have followed biblical standards and suffered for it, and God has proven faithful to me (and to so many others) as I have gone through these things. A statement I've found to be true: life hurts . . . but God doesn't.

And we seem to be getting off track.

You raised some important questions regarding whether Xenos is or is not a cult, about people being forced to behave a certain way or being manipulated. Again, from a biblical point of view, based on what I've seen to this point, acknowledging that I have not spoken to every person who has been or is a member, have not visited every home church, have not done exhaustive research, I do not find Xenos to be or to lean toward being a cult.

I do plan on keeping that issue on my radar screen, along with many other things, as time goes by, because I am not discounting your and other's experiences (even though there are always at least two sides to every story). After all, people on this group are making reference to events that happened a long time ago and that are still unfolding today. I think that is legitimate, and I plan on doing the same.

I am beginning to wonder, though, now that several folks on this group have shared some of their backgrounds, if the "issue" with Xenos and friends and relatives who attend there might be less about Xenos being a cult and more about those friends and relatives confronting folks on this group with what the Bible says about belief systems and life styles.

The Bible lays out a moral system and moral imperatives. If someone confronts me about my lifestyle compared to those biblical teachings, I have several choices, to include: I can shrug my shoulders and say, So? I can tell those people that they are in a cult and are judging me by wrong standards, and, that because they are in a cult they are the ones in the wrong. I can attempt to refute the Bible with other religious systems or philosophies. I can submit to the standards of the Bible and live by them. I can push those people away from me.

There is no doubt that people in Xenos have behaved and do behave badly, make mistakes, and are often wrong. I say that because that is a picture of my life.

But how about people on this group? Are relationships perhaps broken and people hurt, not because a friend or relative is "in a cult," but because a friend or relative has confronted someone on this group with biblical truth and is not willing to compromise that truth even if it means the end of a relationship? Is it possible that some on this group are hurt because friends and relatives have chosen to follow God's way instead of some other way? Are there perhaps people on this group who have been convicted of their need for Jesus Christ and know that God is making demands on their lives, but are seeking reasons / excuses for not submitting to God through Christ? Is it possible that some here know they are wrong in their chosen lifestyle, but are unwilling to turn away from that lifestyle, and are using "a cult" as a smokescreen, as justification for continued wrong living?

Anyone have any thoughts on these ideas?

Miu, thanks again for taking the time.

Chris





--- Chris Hogg wrote:

> Hello Miu -
>
> Thanks for responding.
>
> You've certainly listed a great number of Bible
> passages which deserve to be looked at . . . but I
> think this is probably not the forum to do that, for
> many reasons, not the least of which is that there
> is a tremendous amount of already published texts
> addressing these "contradictions" on both sides.
> And as you said, hours and hours (days and weeks?)
> could be spent making opposing lists of Bible
> verses.

So you deny they are contradictions and dismiss them
out of hand? I did make the point we could go back
and forth for years citing this verse or that to back
up differnet position, after all, the church has been
doing it for almost 2,000 ears.

However, the reason this is possible is that there are
many verses that directly contradict each other, even
in the original launguage.

> You and I obviously disagree regarding the
> authenticity and reliability of the Bible, and
> whether or not it is from God or from men . . . an
> issue / argument that has been around since the
> beginning (see, for example, Genesis 3:1).

Well yes, how can I consider a document reliable when
it directly contradicts itsself time and time again.
I find it amusing you still insist it does not even
when given direct evidence. Didn't Dennis write a
book about accepting irrefutable evidence?

> I would like to address one point you brought up,
> if I may.
>
> You stated: "I for one would like to know how one
> objectively seeks "truth" when they are only seeking
> through a filter of what they consider truth. You
> say you are objective, but then reveal your bias in
> the very next statement."
>
> This is a basic question, "What is truth?" and
> also relates to the issue of how you or I or anyone
> can know the truth.

You misunderstand me, I was adressing the inherent
contradition in your statement.

> I did not say I was objective.

"I think the issue here is to seek the truth, and to
objectively evaluate what people say."

You were claiming it right there.

And I certainly am
> not objective if by that you mean I look at whatever
> is presented to me and then choose an option based
> on what seems right or feels right or I think might
> be right, at a particular time or in a particular
> place, without first applying some standard of
> evaluation.
>
> What I said was that I believe the Bible to be
> God's Word, and that I use the Bible as a sieve or
> grid to evaluate what I am presented with.

And I addressed that to you as well.

> Everyone approaches knowledge and what may be
> known in the same manner. You, for example,
> apparently do not use the Bible to evaluate your
> environment, but surely you use some other measure,
> such as your past experience, or some belief system,
> some other religious dogma, etc. Someone else may
> evaluate truth based on what their parents told
> them, what scholars say, what they can see or touch
> or smell.
>
> Wouldn't you agree that we all bring everything in
> our past (nature and nurture) to bear on evaluating
> whether something is true or not? Doesn't each of
> us use *some* criteria and value system to determine
> what we will accept as truth? Can you think of any
> rational person who accepts everything as truth
> without any evaluation, or, rejects everything as a
> lie with no standard of evaluation?

I do not see your point here, unless you have fallen
back to the position that the Bible is just as valid a
framework to judge "truth" contrary to the Xenos
positon that iot is the ONLY framework to judge it by.

> Jesus Christ came into my life 26 years ago.
> Since then I have come to believe, based on both
> scholarship and personal experience, that, as I've
> said elsewhere, the Bible is reliable and sets forth
> knowable truth.

I have addressed biblical reliability and discarded
that as a fact here already. The fact that you
continue to trumpet it undermines your credibility and
at best, makes you sound like a broken record. At
worst, it makes you sound brainwashed.

I have commited myself to, as best
> I can, accepting and living, and when the time comes
> dying, by what the Bible teaches.

And which version would that be? The version that
says go and commit genocide in the name of God? (1
Samuel 15:2-3). Or the version that says Love
everybody?

It seems to me that you view is moral relativism.

To date, after 26
> years, I have found that I have yet to be let down,
> led astray or otherwise abused by submitting to the
> authenticity and authority of the Bible. I have
> suffered significant physical and emotional pain in
> my life, have known failures and frustrations (some
> current at this moment), have experienced broken
> relationships, have followed biblical standards and
> suffered for it, and God has proven faithful to me
> (and to so many others) as I have gone through these
> things. A statement I've found to be true: life
> hurts . . . but God doesn't.

Then we experienced two totally different Gods. You
came to peace through surrendering your free will and
letting the consequences of your actions go as "man's
falen nature". I came to peace by embracing my free
will, rejecting spiritual tyranny, and accepting the
consequences of my action as my own and working to
rectify them.

> And we seem to be getting off track.
>
> You raised some important questions regarding
> whether Xenos is or is not a cult, about people
> being forced to behave a certain way or being
> manipulated. Again, from a biblical point of view,
> based on what I've seen to this point, acknowledging
> that I have not spoken to every person who has been
> or is a member, have not visited every home church,
> have not done exhaustive research, I do not find
> Xenos to be or to lean toward being a cult.

So you admit people's behaiviors are coerced and
manipulated, but as long as it is within your
interpretation of an incoherent Bible, it is okay.

> I do plan on keeping that issue on my radar
> screen, along with many other things, as time goes
> by, because I am not discounting your and other's
> experiences (even though there are always at least
> two sides to every story). After all, people on
> this group are making reference to events that
> happened a long time ago and that are still
> unfolding today. I think that is legitimate, and I
> plan on doing the same.

May the truth set you free.

> I am beginning to wonder, though, now that several
> folks on this group have shared some of their
> backgrounds, if the "issue" with Xenos and friends
> and relatives who attend there might be less about
> Xenos being a cult and more about those friends and
> relatives confronting folks on this group with what
> the Bible says about belief systems and life styles.

Ah, here we go, blame the victims. I was wondering
when we would get to this. Yeah, we have problems
with family and friends in Xenos merely because they
have become righteous and we are all sinners whose
hearts have been hardened to the message of God. I am
sure this is the case instead of people we know and
love acting in ways that are ultimate socially,
mentally, and spiritually self-destructive.

> The Bible lays out a moral system and moral
> imperatives.

Here you go again with your biblical moral relativism.

If someone confronts me about my
> lifestyle compared to those biblical teachings, I
> have several choices, to include: I can shrug my
> shoulders and say, So? I can tell those people that
> they are in a cult and are judging me by wrong
> standards, and, that because they are in a cult they
> are the ones in the wrong. I can attempt to refute
> the Bible with other religious systems or
> philosophies. I can submit to the standards of the
> Bible and live by them. I can push those people
> away from me.

I notice "I can agree to disagree with those I claim
to love like a civil adult" is strangley absent. I
like the false dichotomy you set up here.

> There is no doubt that people in Xenos have
> behaved and do behave badly, make mistakes, and are
> often wrong. I say that because that is a picture
> of my life.

"Man's fallen nature" you call it. I call it refusing
to take responsibility for your actions.

> But how about people on this group? Are
> relationships perhaps broken and people hurt, not
> because a friend or relative is "in a cult," but
> because a friend or relative has confronted someone
> on this group with biblical truth and is not willing
> to compromise that truth even if it means the end of
> a relationship? Is it possible that some on this
> group are hurt because friends and relatives have
> chosen to follow God's way instead of some other
> way? Are there perhaps people on this group who
> have been convicted of their need for Jesus Christ
> and know that God is making demands on their lives,
> but are seeking reasons / excuses for not submitting
> to God through Christ? Is it possible that some
> here know they are wrong in their chosen lifestyle,
> but are unwilling to turn away from that lifestyle,
> and are using "a cult" as a smokescreen, as
> justification for continued wrong living?

Ah, the last gasp of manipulation. We are not the
problem you are. You are a godless sinner that is
hellbound because you refuse to submit to the life
that God (Xenos) has planned for you. The only
excuses I see here are the ones you offer for your
coerciveness and your spiritual bullying. All your
arguments amount to we are right and you atre wrong,
because God says so in this book. However, the book
you wave around as truth is so chock-full of
contradictions that you can easily make it say pretty
much whatever you want it to say.

Xenos claims to be the one true way to god. They
claim to have all of the answers. Anybody who
questions that authority is shunned until they are
strongarmed into falling in line with the church line.
Any who disagree are subject to the spiritual
bullying you indulge in above.

If that is not the very definition of a cult, I do not
know what is.

> Anyone have any thoughts on these ideas?

You have them.

> Miu, thanks again for taking the time.

Gladly.



This is a perfect example of the coercion and doublespeak these groups will use to try and cow people. I particularly like how towards the end of the last letter he insinuates that anybody who does not live by his standards are wrong. "Is it possible that some here know they are wrong in their chosen lifestyle, but are unwilling to turn away from that lifestyle".

EDIT

It looks like he may begging off. I will continue to add updates.



Wed, 29 Nov 2006 07:37:50 -0800 (PST)
From: "Chris Hogg"
Subject: Re: [xenos_survivors_group] Re: About this groups settings

Hello Miu -

Ooops.

"You misunderstand me, I was adressing the inherent
contradition in your statement.

> I did not say I was objective.

"I think the issue here is to seek the truth, and to
objectively evaluate what people say."

You were claiming it right there."

Yes, I mis-spoke, and didn't take the time to remember / review my previous comments. I was trying to say that, because I use the Bible as my standard of determining what is true and false, I try to objectively evaluate things in light of the Bible and not my own, internal standards.

Perhaps like a carpenter who measures with a tape measure, and even though it seems like the board ought to be cut shorter, cuts it to the length according to the tape measure.

My apologies.

I appear to have been dropped from the group, so, more later....

Thanks for pointing out the above error.

Chris



The moderator made it very clear to him when they removed him why they removed him. I think he may be cutting his losses.

E said...

I apologize for the length of this piece after the onerously enormous email exchange above. Come on Gothic, you know no one is going to want to fight through that. I think you should delete it and write your own message.
CD:
“There is a tradition in the Christian community (including the x-christian, or recovery community) to engage in horrible false claims as a way of advancing arguments. I believe based on several years I'm seeing the 2nd being directed at Xenos by X-Xenos members for reasons so far I've been unable to determine.”
If there is exaggeration, or at least some overblown statements in anonymous messages, I think it’s such because their authors expect not to be listened to. I jumped on initially for this reason – I could see these authors were not able to articulate their points and were making a bad impression. Plus SZs suggestion that their inability to write with elegance meant they should be dismissed upset me.
I agree with you that Xenos does not engage in acid burnings or anything nearly so openly egregious, and we are in danger of getting back into our discussion of last year. I once again advance my suggestion that psychological influence can have just as powerful an influence as these types of egregious mechanisms. I don’t want to compare Xenos to this, so this is only in terms of explanation, but think of it in interrogation terms. If you want to exert control, interrogators suggest psychological mechanisms are much, much more powerful than are more obvious physical mechanisms.
Also, when psychological mechanisms are in place, people who try to prove their existence have a hard task in front of them. This is highly consummate with people not knowing what to do but lash out.
CD/Icy Mountain:
Lets start with me differentiating myself from anyone who sees Xenos as a cult. I don’t think this. I don’t think any of its leaders are sinister marionettes, manipulating members for some unknown agendas. They deservedly get upset when people suggest such things. I don’t doubt Keith believes in the creation of love ethics, that Dennis cares about members, that both would express and explicit desire to be fair to others, etc. They probably don’t intend to hurt anyone.
Nevertheless, people get hurt. It isn’t them, but the system, that hurts people. A fairly substantial group of people are vociferously angry. Why? Do you buy the Xenos argument – all of these people are crazy!?! That seems unreasonable to me – that there would be that many that are that angry. As for the inevitable byproduct of an organization of 5000 argument, this argument requires that you consider every angry person a sort of petulant adolescent unable to understand that human groups are never perfect, which I think is the base idea behind Icy Mountain’s argument. I’m not willing to make this leap either.
For me the better answer lies in the system Xenos has in place. It is indeed VERY human. Maybe it would be easier if I framed it as a case:
Some man or woman, troubled by whichever of the billion problems that haunt us in this world, is invited to a social gathering (often membership in Xenos begins like this). They receive massive amount of attention – more than is in any way normal in a human social group, and I saw people leave groups with stunned expressions during my time in Xenos – so they return. If they keep coming they are soon blessed with an immediate and substantial group of friends. Their problems abate - social attention is a powerful, powerful healer.
He or she find beliefs of the group a little esoteric though, and maybe even disagrees. His or her disagreement results in people backing away from them, people begin paying less attention. It is one of those things easy to notice but difficult to prove. Perhaps someone pulls them aside and “admonishes” them. They concede the position, suggest that they were misled, and the social attention is granted again.
It is a VERY simple mechanism, but VERY powerful. Agree with us and get the social drug, don’t and the drug will be removed. Agree again and the social drug will be restored.
It is also a great thing, for those who agree. It feels so good that the group would look for ways to increase the feeling, to build cohesion. Cohesion itself isn’t negative – we try to develop it for sports teams, psychotherapy groups, families, etc. Icy Mountain is right as well – groups are groups are groups – but it is a question of degree.
When a group gets out of control I think you end up seeing several predictable things (and I think all of these things are present):
+ The group will lash out at anyone who denigrates it (think Scientologists). I think Xenos members have substantially shown this to be the case on these boards. Apparently the Byron Harvey thread – though I wasn’t there – resulted in a college CT joke from Dennis. Note that Gothic Oreo, who I did know casually ten years ago, came to the same conclusions as I did. We did not collude in this. Naming any specific instances of this difficult to prove psychological mechanism will result in ad hominem attacks against whomever we point out and will destroy their credibility.
+ Usually people lashed out against will take on a very stereotypical set of characteristics. Say like “crazy, attachment disordered, troubled, petulant, criminal” – EXACTLY what we’ve seen here. Ed even told me I don’t care about poor people. HUH?!? He doesn’t even know me!!! [my whole career is focused on the poor, both in clinical work and in terms of research interests as a grad student] This is ONLY possible when a group becomes super-cohesive.
+ The group will consider itself superior to most other groups. Note the Keith McCallum thing about smoking! We’re not like other churches! Perhaps this has changed since I was in Xenos, but Xenos long judged other churches (members will undoubtedly deny this here). So much so that when I left I was shocked when I encountered and was impressed with other Christians. One of my best friends in grad school is a Catholic priest - he is a gentle, compassionate, God-fearing jewel of a human being. In Xenos he would have been just a stupid Catholic.
+ Finally, and most importantly, FOR PEOPLE IN GOOD STANDING IN THE GROUP IT WILL FEEL GREAT. The problem lies in some of this cohesion, this great good feeling, lies in the perceived uniqueness of the group. And THIS UNIQUENESS MUST BE PROTECTED. Else the social drug goes away.
Inevitably, to protect the uniqueness, some people will have to be removed, and the experience of these people will be profoundly painful, like being run through a psychological meat grinder. It is undoubtedly shunning, and it is meant to hurt, and meant to distinguish members from non members.
And I agree with all those who say “E, that’s just people.” It is, to almost a banal level. People create overly cohesive groups all the time. When you can predict the reactions of the group to critics, and when I could probably design a psychotherapy protocol for those who have to leave, I think there may some substance in what I’m trying to say.
Do I think such a group should be changed, eliminated, judged? No one has nor will anyone grant me such authority. But understand that in a highly cohesive group psychological abuses can easily occur, and they have in Xenos, over and over and over again for 30 years. But then it benefits people who stick to the party line. So who counts more, the people who are benefiting or the people who are being hurt? I shrug. Xenos will be there for years, and will help some and hurt others. But when the group lets its high cohesion get out of control - whether throughout the church or in just one division - people will be seriously hurt as predictably as clockwork – EVEN THOUGH THE ELDERS MIGHT NOT WANT PEOPLE TO BE HURT.
By wanting the cohesion drug they allow it to happen. And for this they are responsible.
And Icy Mountain, I have been through many different difficult interpersonal situations. Few have been as globally painful as the exit from Xenos, and I know other ex-members who would agree. It is not just any group, not does it claim to be just any group.
If there are questions for the church, were anyone to ask them, might be: does the church watch for conflagrations of cohesion? Are they even aware of them? Or do they just chalk them up to the Holy Spirit? Are they aware of why people who leave are treated like a joke? Are they at all of the boundary control mechanisms their members resort to? When people lash out at me at work I respond with compassion – why can’t Xenos, when they even actively espouse “love ethics? I’m sure the Spirit is active in Xenos, but much of Xenos’ power lies in profoundly human, psychological mechanisms.
CD: I think this is the key. Psychological abuses are considerably more profound than the obvious ones – they are plausibly deniable. Not only can they shun you, which is profoundly hurtful, they can then deny it and suggest you’re crazy for accusing them of it!!! I don’t think it’s that shocking that people lash out under these circumstances.

CD-Host said...

Gothic-oreo

I have no problem with raw evidence on one these threads. I can always create a consolidation thread and refer back here to the original. My last post Wayne Grudem and heresy is exactly that sort of consolidation thread for a longer series of posts on another board. That being said, E is right that keeping stuff more edited and more organized makes it more likely for you to be heard. You may want to try and organize information on your live journal and have me link off to it.

_____

E --

Good post. I agree that's the mechanism that I've heard people speak about. The problem seems to be the membership not the leadership. Which is what we were dialoguing on before regarding my feeling about Dennis' materials. I'm having a dialogue with Keith on his blog about a way for him to test the incidence of this statistically.

The big issue is that they might not want to change this. The strong social cohesion and immediate friendship are powerful things about Xenos' Christian community. To not have people go through withdrawal they might have to not have it and I'm not sure they want that. On the other hand they might be able to partially mitigate it by making clique leaders aware that they don't want an unofficial discipline mechanism. Alternately or possibly in addition, since this is seems to happen high school - college group, is for older members to provide some transition support. Their official discipline mechanisms seem very very good (given the sort of church they are).

Anyway I hope Dennis and Keith respond to you, gothic-oreo and stewicked here. I acknowledge you for having the courage to share once they showed up. They have expressed interest in having a discussion on "neutral ground" with x-members who feel this way, and x-members have expressed interest in being able to relate what happened to them; so hopefully everyone takes advantage of this chance meet up.

Dennis said...

On 2 follow ups by CD:
[dennis] Most ministry house leaders meet with home church leaders every other week or so. They need to check in with home church leaders on any major action taken. This is a group of 4 to 6 trained men and women, so I think the oversight is adequate. They, or people in their houses, also have access to sphere leaders (elders) to register any complaint about unfair treatment.
Also, There has been a lot of questioning of how bad ministry houses are, but while there may be cases where people leave unhappy, we should also consider the far more numerous cases where people feel their lives were changed and enhanced by living in a ministry house. Hear some of them and their parents at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFSzFwztjas
I'm not sure I understand your other question, about the 300 page case, but a scenario like that would never happen here. There are no written briefs or evidence. It's more of a family thing. If there is major doubt about guilt, we would not kick someone out.
E said:
"If there are questions for the church, were anyone to ask them, might be: does the church watch for conflagrations of cohesion?
[Dennis] I don't know about this terminology, but we do watch carefully for abuse of church discipline and for in-fighting.

Are they even aware of them? Or do they just chalk them up to the Holy Spirit? Are they aware of why people who leave are treated like a joke?
[dennis] We're aware of a lot of problems involving conflict, including unrighteous conflict, and it's not always easy to know what to do.

Are they at all of the boundary control mechanisms their members resort to?
[dennis] These are usually matters of interpretation and perception. Most cases I know of, people have said they quit hanging around a former friend, because they were always being told off, and having their church put down, and they got tired of the flack.
Also E and other said "The group will lash out at anyone who denigrates it (think Scientologists). I think Xenos members have substantially shown this to be the case on these boards."
[dennis] The problem I have with this is that based on this, any effort to by xenos members to defend themselves is dismissed as "lashing back" so it effectively puts an end to the discussion. It also makes attacks on Xenos unfalsifiable.

Dennis said...

stewicked, if you want me to investigate this and get back to you, email me your name and the group involved at mccallumd@xenos.org

stewicked said...

Dennis,

Thanks for the offer but right now I have no desire to give out my name or my husband's name. We work with people who are a part of Xenos. We do not discuss Xenos with them.

Neither of us have any desire to have our names dragged through the mud and possibly affect our working environments because of your church.

I have no faith that you will not take the information, if given, and not use it in your teachings or anything else.

I have seen too many times your church ruining people's lives to want any type of involvement with you. Between what happened to my husband, watching a friend being encouraged to stay with a husband who was physically abusive, and another friend being told that if she just had more faith in god she wouldn't have to take medication for bipolar disorder I have no trust that you would not use any information given to you against us.

I do not believe religious beliefs are things to be discussed with the masses. They are personal and private. The people involved with the situation that happened with my husband know my religious affiliations and I do not with to have them broadcast across my work place. With Xenos' penchant for proselytizing I do not want my work environment to become a battleground.

I have been on the receiving end of Xenos' proselytizing when I first started dating my husband. I did not change my beliefs then and I will not now. Luckily, at that time, that onslaught did not encroach on my work environment. Now, it could easily happen and I will not allow that to happen.

E said...

For Dennis:
Cohesion is a psychological term used in reference to groups. A conflagration is just my own addition to indicate a great deal of cohesion.
----------------
Are they at all of the boundary control mechanisms their members resort to?

[dennis] These are usually matters of interpretation and perception. Most cases I know of, people have said they quit hanging around a former friend, because they were always being told off, and having their church put down, and they got tired of the flack.

E – and our interpretations will be different, eh? I think if people are having “fellowship withdrawn,” this is (fairly explicitly) a formally endorsed control mechanism (see Xenos members other thread on these pages). Such formal endorsements are usually only the tip of the iceberg.
----------------
Also E and other said "The group will lash out at anyone who denigrates it (think Scientologists). I think Xenos members have substantially shown this to be the case on these boards."

[dennis] The problem I have with this is that based on this, any effort to by xenos members to defend themselves is dismissed as "lashing back" so it effectively puts an end to the discussion. It also makes attacks on Xenos unfalsifiable.
E – I am only working from what Xenoids have written, even just on CDs pages. Another Xenos person quotes you, in print, above on this page. Apparently you said “I think the largest single source of complaints today come from those who depend on their group and leaders as though they were parents. This is also the least resolved area, and the least understood area. We know of many cases where people expected their home church to meet all their relational needs without any initiative from them. I have been confronted often with cases of people who are furious that others from their group (especially leaders) would not call them often enough. Many of the claims of abandonment, "neglect" and abuse we hear today are only compatible with addictive dependence.

You couch this as analysis, but it is profoundly insulting to people who have left. It is NOT falsifying anything – instead it is suggesting that people who have left should not be treated as credible because they are “addictively dependent” and childish. Subtle, but very nasty. Once again, if you are saying this IN PRINT, one can (probably correctly) infer that this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the way people in Xenos treat ex-Xenoids. Ex-Xenos were also referred to here as bizarre, criminal, and uncaring. There aren’t falsifications either. They are credibility attacks.

As for your youtube video, should we really be impressed that the Himsworths or the Reeders are impressed with ministry houses? I know others on this website aren’t familiar with these families, so maybe you can tell them about them…Aren’t the Himsworths your relatives? And while I think it’s great Patrick Reeder is getting his PhD, how long have his parents been in Xenos? 25 years? This may not be intended to be deceptive, but it sure seems that way from the outside.

The bigger question I asked above is: is it worth it for a person to be thrown into the psychological gutter so three ministry house people can be successful? What’s the ratio that is ethical? 1:3? 1:5? 1:10?

For CD:
I agree with you wholly. I think some significant rearrangements would be necessary, and I doubt anyone would want to do them, and I don’t really blame them for that. It does feel good to be part of Xenos, and I said they do good in some arenas. I just wouldn’t mind some sort of acknowledgement that Xenos leaves a sort of detritus trail of hurt people, almost like exhaust from an engine. Some folk’s success is built on other’s hurt.

Barring this admission, at least some acknowledgement that there is substance in what people who left are saying rather than insinuation that they aren't credible followed by denial that such insinuations are made.

I expect neither of these are real likely. I do appreciate the chance to think over it here though – I have come to some understandings that I had not before. Thanks.

Dennis said...

Well, I guess we'll never know what the others had to say for themselves, just your story. And I guess you want to keep it that way. Suit yourself.

Dennis said...

E says:
You couch this as analysis, but it is profoundly insulting to people who have left. It is NOT falsifying anything – instead it is suggesting that people who have left should not be treated as credible because they are “addictively dependent” and childish. Subtle, but very nasty.
[Dennis] No, that's not what the article says. It argues that SOME people manifested this problem, and that's true. You've extrapolated it to include all who left, really twisting what it said.
The stuff I write is the same as the stuff I say. I like to write out everything, and we also post it publicly, which doesn't really square with the picture painted by some on this thread.

Dennis said...

E says:
"while I think it’s great Patrick Reeder is getting his PhD, how long have his parents been in Xenos? 25 years? This may not be intended to be deceptive, but it sure seems that way from the outside."
[Dennis] So what if his parents are in Xenos? I think it's ironic that you carry on about how people get lashed out at, but then turn around and say all these people are liars.
You must be amazed at how I can control all these people so much that they will say whatever I want.

On your other point, how many successes are worth "trashing" someone. Tell, me: What's your alternative? Just don't minister to anyone? don't take any chances that something might go wrong? Just make sure that 100% of everyone is satisfied all the time. Show me any sizable group where some people aren't P.O.d and I'll consider it. I don't know why you think a hundred disgruntled people count for more than the 5000 who think Xenos is awesome and is meeting their needs.

And don't come back with another distortion, saying I'm condoning abuse. We do everything we can to prevent it, and we do prevent it most of the time. If something wrong happens, all we can do is apologize and try to resolve things. That's the only option open to any group.

E said...

Actually I didn't extrapolate that quote to ANYONE at all. A member of your church did so, ON this board. I simply pointed this out, along with several other things Xenos folks have written, about me and others.

I say these people are all liars? Where did I say this? I am pointing out something I presume is pretty commonplace, perhaps not. If a lawyer's child trumpets how amazing that lawyer's law firm is, most people would consider it a conflict of interest. When you use the children of long term members of the church to celebrate church accomplishments, it is a similar conflict of interest. Does this mean they are lying? No. For them they are telling the truth. This is the whole point of a conflict of interest. Would most people consider it a little dubious in another context? Yes. Why do you get a free pass on this issue?

Dismiss this understanding of a conflict of interest as a failure of our society if you like, please don't accuse me of calling anyone a liar, and don't accuse me of insinuating anything, because what I pointed out is a commonplace understanding.

As the POd 100 of 5000, you aren't a corporation. People get POd after working for AT&T. That's expected, so don't present as if it's just the same at Xenos. Your goals and claims are a tad different, as is your involvement in people's lives. This is the whole point. Other people from Xenos have complained on this thread about being held to different standards - you are being held to different standards because you make radically different claims. I don't think anything is all that shocking about this.

I'm well aware nothing is perfect, and no I don't expect you not to minister. I am pointing out a byproduct of Xenos. YOU created the system, I didn't. I am not stupid; I am well aware you would not openly condone abuse, and have said so previously on this thread. But people do get hurt in your system, whether you like it or not, and people that experience it don't deserve to be trashed publicly. This was my whole point in the first place.

So, to not make extended inferences about your motives as you just did of mine, what is YOUR explanation of why people get on the internet to discuss their frustration at Xenos? Apparently members of your church do not represent your views correctly, so lets hear it. Why do people make these claims about "bizarre" things happening to them?

Dennis said...

E. says:
I say these people are all liars? Where did I say this?

[Dennis] You said it was "deceptive" which means a lie, and now you're trying to do a Mexican Hat-dance around the issue like you didn't say it.

This is the whole point of a conflict of interest. Would most people consider it a little dubious in another context? Yes. Why do you get a free pass on this issue?

[Dennis] So, anyone who has a relative or friends in Xenos can't be believed. That's a convenient dismissal. How are you going to dismiss all the others in the video who don't have relatives here?

please don't accuse me of calling anyone a liar, and don't accuse me of insinuating anything
[dennis] you didn't insinuate, you just came right out and said "looks pretty deceptive to me." If you're embarassed that you said that, why don't you just apologize? It's right there in writing.

As the POd 100 of 5000, you aren't a corporation. People get POd after working for AT&T. That's expected, so don't present as if it's just the same at Xenos. Your goals and claims are a tad different, as is your involvement in people's lives. This is the whole point. Other people from Xenos have complained on this thread about being held to different standards - you are being held to different standards because you make radically different claims. I don't think anything is all that shocking about this.

[Dennis] We don't make any claim different than any other church. We study the Bible, which people here respect. People get hurt here, sometimes because of their own fault, sometimes others. You completely didn't answer my point--how do you run a church where people don't get hurt? You've offered nothing.
And when I say institution, I'm not referring to AT&T, I'm talking about churches and ministries.

[E] people do get hurt in your system, whether you like it or not, and people that experience it don't deserve to be trashed publicly. This was my whole point in the first place.

[Dennis] I don't see anyone being trashed on this thread but Xenos.

E said...

Ah. I'm "doing a Mexican Hat Dance" and I'm the one that is lashing out. OK.

The conflict of interest point is perfectly legitimate. I didn't call anyone a liar, that is YOUR inference of my motives. You ignoring the conflict of interest is certainly deceptive, I agree. And I didn't dismiss everyone else in the video, this is another one of your extended inferences.

There is such a thing as distinctions in thinking, so how about you stick to more explicitly to my text, instead of playing a guessing game at why lies behind the text.

That you accuse me of "Mexican Hat Dancing" is something we can add to the labeling bin Xenos members have done throughout these threads as well. I could make an extended inference about YOUR motives, but I won't.

And finally we end the global assertion "the only one being trashed is Xenos." Um, OK. On CDs pages - Did I suggest that Xenos member you a criminal? No, Xenos members insinuated that about ex-members. How about being "dependent" and have psychological problems? No, you were quoted by Xenos members who insinuated that. And on and on.

As for running a church and institutions: several Xenos members have made the argument, over-and-over, on CDs pages and even on the Byron Harvey thread "we are just human." AT&T is a "human" organization. Xenos claims to be something more. The name itself carries that weight, right. "Alien" to the culture?

And as for churches, I was not talking about some global definition of "hurt", as I went to great lengths to explain clearly earlier today. The hurt from cohesive groups is particular - is not violent, sexual, etc. - and this is the hurt coming to ex-members of Xenos. How do you manage this compared to other churches? How about granting some legitimacy to people's hurts instead of pretending everyone who claims to be hurt by Xenos if somehow lacking in credibility department? Seems a good start.

Once again: to not make extended inferences about your motives as you just did of mine, what is YOUR explanation of why people get on the internet to discuss their frustration at Xenos? Apparently members of your church do not represent your views correctly, so lets hear it. Why do people make these claims about "bizarre" things happening to them?

Dennis said...

E says:
"How about granting some legitimacy to people's hurts instead of pretending everyone who claims to be hurt by Xenos if somehow lacking in credibility department?"

[Dennis] No. I'll never admit any blanket culpability for Xenos or validity for those complaining. The only way to handle this is on a case by case basis.

Example: One of the key groups of angry ex-xenoids are leaders removed from leadership because they were found guilty of abusive leadership. Now they're out there pointing the finger at Xenos. I'm supposed to this is our fault? I don't think so. I'm supposed to say their feelings are valid? I don't think so. And it wouldn't add to my credibility at all if it did. It would demolish my credibility and show I was nothing but a butt-kisser.

Why do I think people get on the internet and complain about Xenos? Depends on the situation. You make it sound like there's only one reason! Like it's all one syndrome. Anyone who has worked with people knows better than that.

The fact is that every large church in America has blogs like this pointing the finger at them, including horror stories from ex-members. Your assumption that just because people complain, something is wrong with the church, is baseless. CD has called on people to come forward with real events or facts. NOTHING.

You saw what "stewicked" said when I offered to look into her complaint. No, she doesn't want to resolve anything or have truth prevail. She just wants to tell her story and nobody can refute it, because nobody even knows what she's talking about.

In multiple cases, people have felt upset at Xenos, while in, or after leaving, and have approached me or other elders. Their cases were examined, people interviewed, and not infrequently, apologies were issued from Xenos people involved. In other cases, it turns out they left out most of the story, and spun it into a victimization story, when actually they were the perpetrators.

That's the only way to handle unhappy ex-members. Case by case. Your plea that they're all somehow alike, and onto something is wrong, and has no backing.

Dennis said...

To E...said
On your comments about us being deceiving, Everyone can read what you said, so there's nothing to argue about.

E said...

Suit yourself.

E said...

OK, fair distinction. I cannot speak to leaders being removed. It seems a fair point. I have previously argued that people who committing obvious sins should be removed, fine as well. I didn't question that there a legitimate motives on occasion to removing people. You will no doubt respond "yes you did" because you have not bothered to read all the entries on the two threads.

And thank you for explaining your opinion on the issue. I don't buy your idea that people who have anything of substance don't complain, here we part ways, and this has been the whole point of my writing.

I explained AT LENGTH SEVERAL TIMES, that my complaint lies with the mechanism, and I saw this mechanism in action with minor transgressions. I explained, at length, that because it is psychological in nature, it is hard to prove. When I have more time, I can write a mini-research essay. I do not have time at the end of my semester.

I have gone to great lengths to stick to the print, and print only. I do not want to make ad hominem attacks at you or any other individual, but I WILL attack the system. You appear to have few qualms attaching my character, at this seem par for the course. I even predicted this would happen.

You have insinuated that I am a liar as well. I did not do the same for you. Your video is deceptive, whether you like it or not. 95% of people presented with that evidence would say so. Sorry you don't like this. I don't think anyone in the video is a big, conscious, liar. Sorry if you don't buy the distinction. I did not say everyone in Xenos is a liar because this video is on the website. Call me a Mexican Hat Dancer or whatever name you like if it makes you feel better.

I am not on this board because I am looking to score rhetorical points. My attempt is an honest attempt to clarify this issue and argue for people who have made painful exits from Xenos. That's it. I don't believe you have acknowledged this. You appear to be here TO WIN. I am not. I could care less about winning an argument with you. I am here to protect people who have left. If it makes you feel good to call me liar, have at. If I fail in my mission then I fail in my mission.

As for Stewicked, she said she didn't feel safe telling you. Small wonder. I have made a very genuine, honest attempt to explore these issues. I may have failed at removing all ad hominem - I really have tried - or there may just be points I made that you don't like. But obviously you don't believe this - you see sinister whatever motive - and you're here to kick some tail and call people names. I know my own motives, and I am telling you, flatly, what they are. You don't seem to be listening - so WHY ON EARTH DO YOU THINK ANYONE WOULD FEEL SAFE BRINGING PERSONAL PAIN FROM XENOS TO YOU?

This is the point. Goodnight.

CD-Host said...

It seems this is starting to deadlock a little bit. The people complaining are asserting that Xenos has something resembling a policy like Scientology's Fair Game to go after people who criticize them (in Scientology terms "suppressive persons").

Gothic, E and Stewicked still live in the area and thus are concerned about details which reveal their identities. From Dennis' perspective he is being charged with something non falsifiable. One of the basic ideas (and a good one) in my opinion of western law is "no hidden evidence". There are critics claiming "X happened" where X is too vague to even be examined.

I can think of two ways that might push the conversation forward:

1) Can you guys name examples from friends which do include details? Possibly people that don't live in the area any longer, or better are willing to "go on record"?

2) E you mentioned objects to some of the things that happened during Central Teaching. That is things that would have happened when thousands were in attendance.

Otherwise what is going to happen is this discussion isn't going to be able to progress any. E, I know you think you can make the case without providing a who or a what but you can't.

Let assume you claimed that Xenos was inducing cancer. To prove this you would need to be able to show a number of people who contracted cancer while at Xenos far in excess of what would otherwise be expected, or to provide some details of the mechanism by which they were inducing cancer. Otherwise Xenos can rightfully dismiss the claim, despite the fact you make the claim over and over.

As someone who does this for lots of churches I can tell you it is rather rare that people with these stories get a chance to face off like this. Take advantage of it. Dennis and Keith are not going to hang out on my blog for 6 months, as details gradually emerge.

Dennis said...

CD
I didn't think E's example of what happens at CT was a valid critique at all. After teachings, the floor is open for comments, questions, or shared experiences. Anyone can raise their hand and make their point. Leaders are just as much allowed to speak as anyone else.

He implied that the whole thing was rigged, and that if leaders make affirming points, that's dirty somehow. In fact there is no rigging, hostile questioners speak up as well, and yes, there aren't as many of them. So what? That's exactly what you would expect in an open forum.

Nigh9Hawk said...

Actually Dennis your comments show how far out of touch you are with what's really happening in your own church. I would be the first to admit that with an organization as large as Xenos it's hard for you to know every little thing that's going on in every church. The problem is that the leadership isn't all that receptive to people who report problems. I know when I did, right before I left, I was told that I have a "love problem" since I couldn't seem to understand how physically hurting somebody was OK as long as it was done with love. If I thought that I could seriously sit down with somebody like you and tell you the things I witnessed while I attended Xenos I would. But I have a feeling that I would just be painting a target on my back.

One other thing. A friend of mine set up a meeting with one of the former leaders of the home church I use to attend a few years after I had left. She was concerned that I was still angry with what went on in the church. We met, I did almost all the talking-he didn't have much to say-and at the end he had nothing to say to me other than I should read several books from a list he wrote while I was talking. Some of the talk here about "shunning" and the sort of meetings between former members and current members makes a bit more sense to me now since he really wasn't interested in addressing any of the points I made.

E said...

I said something about ex-members from on the Byron Harvey getting mocked at a CT. I don't remember saying anything about post-CT questions. I know the argument over them, I remember listening to them, but I don't really care. Maybe you're confusing me with Gothic Oreo.

CD:
As for more evidence...what I would have to offer would be experiences of being shunned in various ways. My own experiences are personally painful, and i don't feel like putting them into the open only to have them rerouted into rhetorical tools for others. Nor do I want my name raked across a CT as an example. It just isn't safe, and the Xenos people aren't receptive to hearing they may have done someone wrong. And I can't think of any other ex-member who would feel comfortable with me sharing for them.

And I did test the waters a little last night, but Dennis did a fairly good job of showing me what would happen if one dares criticize his church, even by addressing what church members have put in print, which seems a pretty fair way to analyze. "Fair game" is apt. If I share I will become "Fair game." As Nighthawk says "I don't want a target on my back in Columbus."

I was even pretty careful last night, to the point that the convesation was very emotionally draining. Maybe at least you (CD) noticed this. I even tried to draw out some sort - any sort even - of empathy for those who left. I didn't see any. This does not make any real sharing inviting. I sure as hell am not going to offer my painful experiences in a supplicant's position to such a person. Plus, this is a crux point from our argument last year - this is to me is a type of evidence of maladaptive process, but I guess we've already covered this ground at length. I do re-recommend Galanter's book.

So I guess, in your (CDs) terms, I lose this debate. That's fine. I think my defenses will stand up in the eyes of the neutral and provide some solace for those who've received the Xenos boot to their face. I wish I could have gotten Dennis to acknowledge that his church does hurt people as a system - maybe then these hurts could be mitigated. But he is so interested in trying to prove how right he is, how much his church doensn't deserve any criticism (it's like Xenos is a hockey team or something), that it is an exercise in futility. I am satisfied that my writing may help other Xenos castaways.

Night9Hawk said...

I've started to write a follow-up post several times in the past day or so but I could not bring myself to push the Publish button. My problem is that my primary involvement with Xenos was more than a few years ago. I'm sure that Dennis or Keith-where's Gary on these boards?-will pounce on that statement and say that I don't know how much they've changed or matured since I was a part of Xenos. That's true on some level but from what I've seen posted here and other places I don't think the church has really changed all that much since I left.

(Being the curious sort of person I am I would be interested to see what happens when the McCallums and Gary are no longer a part of the church in about 30-40 years.)

Church discipline was at best unevenly practiced within the home church I attended. It was a younger group of people with the majority of folks in the 18-25 age group. So there were several young married couples and about 30 singles. There were 4 leaders, about 10-12 "workers", 5-6 unsaved people, while the rest of the people were people on the fringe of the home church. The rules were different for the first two groups than they were for the latter two groups.

But of course it's different for leaders and workers? They're held to a much higher standard, right? In some ways they were in terms of their responsibilities. They were not held to the same high standard when it came to their behavior. I was at the home church ministry house one evening talking to some of the guys. Suddenly one of the leaders burst into the house breathless and laughing his head off. He'd been chased by the OSU police because they'd caught him tagging some campus building. I'm not speculating or going on some rumor-HE TOLD US. He was quite proud of himself that he'd gotten away. I don't mean to keep picking on you Dennis-I've known you a lot longer than Keith-what would you have done if this situation had been brought to your attention? I tried to bring this and other things to the attention of the elders and ended up being told I didn't understand love. Certainly I don't think I could have gotten away with it.

Dennis said...

Night9Hawk said...

(Being the curious sort of person I am I would be interested to see what happens when the McCallums and Gary are no longer a part of the church in about 30-40 years.)
[Dennis] It won't take that long

Church discipline was at best unevenly practiced within the home church I attended....
But of course it's different for leaders and workers? They're held to a much higher standard, right? In some ways they were in terms of their responsibilities. They were not held to the same high standard when it came to their behavior.
[Dennis] They should be held to a higher standard in duties and in behavior.
[the leader] tagging some campus building... Dennis...what would you have done if this situation had been brought to your attention?
[Dennis] I would be outraged that a Xenos leader was engaged in this illegal and harmful activity. I actually had a situation like this presented to me (must be a different one, b/ more recent and different circumstances) and we went to the leader involved (and some others) and read the riot act to them. We warned them that if it ever happened again they would be removed without discussion. They were repentant and agreed to never tag anyone again, and I don't think they have.

Icy Mt. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Icy Mt. said...

oops, let's try again.

E, I don't think that there is empathy missing here. I, for one, can strongly empathize with those here who have been separated from fellowship and are understandably upset. I have also made it clear that it is undeniable that some have been treated unfairly or hurt by Xenos "people". I do not concede that it is the intent, or even an undesirable side effect, of the Xenos "system" to cause people pain. I don't think you are going to get Dennis to concede that this is a systemic problem, either. I am trying to understand gothic’s situation from the original post. There is nothing to be gained by debating the personal story he tells so I’ll just address the questions:
Why discipline on a non member?
You make this statement: “My end with the group came with a woman. We started dating, and she was not Christian. I tried to bring her around at first, but she was offended at the groups attitudes towards other religions. We ended up having sex. Knowing I was violating Xonos’(sic) rules, I removed myself from the group.”
If you were in my home church, or in the ministry house where the college guys mentoring my son live, we wouldn’t give up that easily. We would see a young man getting involved in a sexual relationship with a non-Christian. Whether you had removed yourself from the group, or not, we would spend quite a bit of time trying to convince a Christian brother that the sexual relationship was immoral, that you were making a bad choice, and that an intimate relationship with a non-Christian was a recipe for misery. That is probably the meetings that stewicked reported seeing later. These are basic Biblical principles that I was taught not just at Xenos but in Methodist, Baptist and Catholic churches. I am happy that this relationship turned out to be permanent for gothic and stewicked. I hope that they understand that any Christian church would have a problem with a couple in their early 20s having premarital sex.
Why shunning?
I don’t think that anyone had to issue an official decree for the members of your former group to make themselves scarce. You left the group so there would have already been a severe curtailing of your time together with your house church, prayer meetings, bible studies, etc.. As I explained earlier, I’ll bet most of the still celibate members of the group were plenty uncomfortable around you and your new pagan girlfriend. They wouldn’t know what to say; they would be suffering watching your new relationship. I sound way too goody-two-shoes here so I’ll say this. I had a lot of sex with a lot of women in college so I know the attraction. I wasn’t a walking Christian and I wasn’t surrounded by Christians who were living in community (and I know why). I did have a Catholic friend who reminded me of my sin and the damage I was doing every time he saw me. He wasn’t wrong and my wife will tell you the same thing.
Finally, I’ll tell another story from my own experience. We have a couple in our home church. The husband used to come with his wife to home church, bible studies, and attend our smaller men’s bible study. He currently has “problems with the concept.” (His words, not mine, I could write book on what that means but suffice to say that not all of the issues are with Xenos). He has removed himself from fellowship. He’s still a Christian, although, like the rest of us, he is not perfect, he’s not committing some huge sin by not attending Xenos meetings. While his lack of fellowship is hurting both us and him, it is not threatening to tear the fellowship apart. We don’t see him nearly as often as we did before but he is still welcomed whenever he chooses to associate with us, either at a backyard barbeque or a home church meeting.

@ stewicked: You said, "I do not believe religious beliefs are things to be discussed with the masses. They are personal and private. The people involved with the situation that happened with my husband know my religious affiliations and I do not with to have them broadcast across my work place. With Xenos' penchant for proselytizing I do not want my work environment to become a battleground.”

This may be off topic but it may be at the core of this debate. What we have here is a fundamental difference between normative Christian beliefs and your beliefs. It's not a Xenos issue and it's not going to be solved here. Christians are called to share our belief with the masses. Our relationship with God is personal but the fact that we have a relationship with God is certainly not supposed to be private. We are also called to encourage one another to maintain our faith in Christ. It is a seeming contradiction that you post your beliefs on the interwebs but are not comfortable discussing them in your workplace. I hope this doesn't come across as an attack because I am truly fascinated. Are you ashamed of your belief system? Or do you think that the Xenos folks (or other Christians) at your workplace would make your life miserable if you professed your beliefs? If you said, "I am a (insert belief here), and I really don't want to hear anything about your God or your beliefs, especially here at work," I wouldn't say another word to you about my faith. I think most Christians, and especially those in Xenos would leave you alone. If I then can't find any common ground other than "Here's some more work," would you consider that I am shunning you? Or that I am way too wrapped up in my religion?

Smooth Jazz said...

**Whew** Lots of heat from very unhappy people like "E" and "Gothic" -- I apologize for taking so long to get back here, and I'm sorry I don't have time to read everyone's comments. But CD, it's pretty clear you've got a few angry people who aren't willing to reason.

CD, for example "E"says: "CD ...wanted several sworn affadavits followed by an FBI investigation with wiretaps to believe anything."

Someone like this is so unreasonable, it's quite useless to dialogue. What reasonable person would demand the right to vent so virulently & do it anonymously & vaguely & without substantiation against good people & a great ministry which has helped 10's of thousands of people -- and if CD asks for a little substantiation, he's now the CIA?

E is particularly mean and unfair. E is into "Shunning", and E is a "Shunner", it's very clear. Unlike E with me, I'll extend him the grace to be a Shunner.

But when E says that people are "brought into the church through social means (i.e. a person suddenly has a bunch of friends)" - what a diabolical picture that is!

Since E is clear in this and the other descriptions of us that we're the "Xenos Zombies" who descend like flies on the unsuspecting, I simply would like to know one thing:

E, can you please produce any teaching, document, memo, or whatever which will help us understand how we at Xenos accomplish this Zombification? I mean, there really SHOULD be a policy, technique, training seminar or something which helps accomplish this morbid picture you paint of Xenos Zombies.

I'm not asking you to reveal your identity, nor your home address, OK? This isn't the FBI or CIA trying to spy on you. I think CD made a reasonable request, and I am too.

I would like some documentation which shows how Xenos Zombies are trained and taught to descend on people in such an overwhelming and suffocating manner, as you assert.

Thank-you kindly for your attention to the "Xenos-Zombified-Shunner".

Smooth Jazz said...

And CD, I would just like to add that if any of these grotesque images of Xenos as levied by Gothic & E were systemic or true, training would be required to accomplish this behavior. People don't naturally behave the way they describe. I'm sure you know that already.

That's why "Xenos Zombie" is a fitting description of the people they've "Shunned".

After 30 years of public ministry, with so many online teachings and documents available, and with supposedly such a vast throng of witnesses, as E claims to have hidden in his pocket, there should be a paper-trail leading right back to the top somewhere.

The smoking gun. That's what we need. Any takers?

Haha, I'll bet that's a real check-mate!! (Oops, shouldn't be so irreverent--that's another Xenos Zombie tactic, too.)

Smooth Jazz said...

@Nighthawk: "chased by the OSU police because they'd caught him tagging some campus building..."

What's "tagging" ?? And is it like "Shunning" too? I mean, were they writing the names of people who Xenos hates on buildings or something?

Just curious. Never heard of it before. (I wonder if I've done it?)

CD-Host said...

Keith (Smooth Jazz for lurkers) --

Tagging is a type of signature used by graffiti artists. It means the person was spray painting their graffiti logo onto buildings.

As far as central organization... there are two aspects people not being nice to people who are pulling out; and that doesn't require organization much the opposite. Informal rumor mills work fine, though this is generally with more experienced Christians. I'm not sure how well it would work with 1st generation Christians. Coordinated shunning and cruelty like Scientology, Jehovah's witnesses or the Amish do does require leadership.

And coordinated shunning that does require substantial organization and support.

Smooth Jazz said...

Thanks for the clarification, CD. I think I "tagged" at some point in my youth (but let's keep that between us).

The repeated problem in these comments are the countless "grand conspiracies" raised by E (e.g., "my complaint lies with the mechanism") and Gothic ("that's another Xenos tactic--they're sarcastic") warrant some documentation originating from the conspirators. Xenos is huge. Evidence for these "mechanisms" and "Xenos tactics" should be leaking everywhere.

What WOULD be helpful is to see what we're teaching or handing out which is creating so much "pain and suffering out there."

I know this for sure: while reaching out to help the helpless, predators come along, often on the trail of their victims. We've had to kick out violent and perverted people. For obvious reasons they're not interested in revealing their identities, and they're extremely angry about getting blocked and losing their quarry. (Put yourself in the predator's shoes.)

One of my earliest experiences was with a pedophile who would not stop stalking a 14-year-old girl at Xenos. Man was he was naaaasty! He finally left (thank God), but talking about all "the Grand Xenos Conspiracies", etc.

We had a guy who was involved in bestiality with his male dog. Do you think people like this want such information divulged? They leave "blowing smoke" about the Xenos Cult.

I could go on. But every time, without exception, when I've tried to find out the real reason why someone talks so violently & convincingly about our ministry (and remain unwilling to dialog, that is--even if mediated by a neutral party of their choosing), it turns out to be someone involved in very abusive and/or perverted activity. Over the course of 30 years, there's been quite a number of such people.

I can't even begin to describe how dirty and thankless this job is, especially when the abusers abuse you for doing nothing but helping 10's of thousands of people.

Our most-recent experience was with two kingpins in the porn industry were upset because one of their adult family members rejected the family business and became a Christian at Xenos. They were hyper-controllers. They tried desperately to shame & beat-up this person by attacking his friends and fellowship; they created the most convincing online persona's as "leavers", using the same hideous & conspiratorial overtones I read here. (Probably some copy & paste.) Fortunately, the press came to our aid and revealed who they were and why they were attacking us.

E said...

Wow.

I was advised by several people who have never been involved with Xenos and who don't live in Columbus to get off of this thread, and I tried to bow out, but it isn't possible when you respond like that.

I don't think I said CIA actually, you said that to score rhetorical points. I also believe I have provided a great deal of evidence for my thesis. I'll spell it out again:
+ I know Xenos has done good things, and said so above.
+ I know there are people that are happy in Xenos.
+ I never said there is an explicit conspiracy. In fact, I said I have no doubt that the elders care about the people in the church. It isn't a very conspiracy-ish thing to say.
+ I never said Xenos has explicit documents guiding recruitment.
+ I DID say that PARTS of Xenos are very consummate with theory on highly cohesive groups, and an inevitable byproduct of these groups will be people getting hurt. I stand by this.
+ Highly cohesive groups make people who are lonely feel VERY comfortable.
+ I EVEN said I believed the spirit was probably present in Xenos, but that in pieces the cohesion has gotten out of control many times over the years.

You aren't familiar with highly cohesive groups I think. To fill you in, in part:
+ No one in a highly cohesive group KNOWS that they are in a highly cohesive group as such. So there aren't going to be explicit policies.
+ I am NOT dismissing Christianity, but in a highly cohesive group the theology is almost totally irrelevant. So once again, nothing explicit is needed. What matters is whether or not people stick to the theology.
+ Cohesive groups make very automatic assumptions about outside groups, like clockwork. This board is rife with such assumptions by Xenos members. Even just on this board: Dennis assumed I said something I didn't because he normally expects it from people outside Xenos. Both of you called me names. Other Xenos members have suggested things about ex-members on this board and the other board on CDs site.

If I follow these, directly quoting from CDs boards and not making anything up, I am apparently a mean, lying, addictively dependent, Mexican Hat Dancer. Not only that, I am a "shunner" (huh? who do I shun?), I don't care about poor people (according to Ed on other board), there's a strong possibility I am a criminal since I left Xenos (according to you and Ed), and maybe even a pedophile!!! I am probably even a...hisssss... postmodernist! Wow! All that because I dared criticize Xenos. All this and I didn't even call any of you names, I said I think there are problems with the system! In fact I was super-cautious not to call anyone names because I decided you don't deserve it. I believe you when you say you want to create a group with a love ethic. But perhaps I'm pulling some creepy trick when I say I believe you, eh Keith?

Does this tell you anything at all about yourselves?

You say you have every right to defend your church. Really? You act like it is the most natural thing on earth to attack people in whatever way necessary when they criticize you. Other people in society cannot do this. Corporations, politicians, husbands, wives, friends, universities, police departments, and innumerable other groups are allowed to be criticized and must receive it. Sometimes they can avoid it - for a while. Why do you get a free pass? Most people consider criticism good - it help us see what is wrong. I would be fired if I lashed out when a patient criticized me. Do you WANT to be considered similar to Scientologists? I don't want to consider you that at all, but calling people who left criminals is very similar.

I came on because I believe people who left Xenos have been maligned by people who are in Xenos. Not only do you call us names, but you and others forward the following arguments:
+ we left because we're unstable
+ we left because it's natural that people leave groups
+ all groups have disgruntled ex-members, therefore Xenos shouldn't worry about theirs or why we left

I came on here as well because I am familiar with how much it has hurt me and other people I know to leave Xenos. You and friends have advanced the following arguments about this:
+ people who leave and hurt are petulant and adolescent
+ people who leave and hurt don't understand the natural order of things, it's just how it feels to leave groups
+ people who leave and CLAIM they hurt are probably lying to score points

I left and I hurt. So which of your claims about me should I take on board? Will you call me more names after this? Might be interesting to add to the list, though I don't see how it could become more colorful than it is.

Then we are blamed because we don't share our experiences. You call us all sorts of names, claim I am lying or adolescent, and then are like "why won't you share deeply painful experiences with us?" Huh? Would you do so in such a situation? If this a safe place to share? No, it isn't

A typical experience, around Columbus, is as follows. I won't even describe it myself, I'll borrow it from a psychological study of a cohesive group: "I felt myself to be nonperson, treated civilly but coolly, having become an outsider as rapidly as I had become an insider. The very people who had hovered around us...now found making conversation uncomfortable. People seemed to be looking through me and my colleague rather than looking at us."

I have experienced this many times from people I knew, FOR YEARS. Icy Mountain, I have been removed from other groups, have other things go south, and I have never ever felt like this feels. I don't know how to say it any plainer than that. I am not trying to score rhetorical points - I am REALLY TRYING HARD TO BE HONEST WITH YOU. I am saying EVERY member of Xenos is like this? No, I am not. I am saying enough members are that it forms a pattern. I am saying the elders have an explicit plan to make this happen? No, of course not.

I do, however, think there can be a tacit tolerance of high cohesion developing in Xenos because groups that do it APPEAR more Godly. I am also arguing that exiting from these groups and being treated like a non-human lies behind MANY if not most of the disgruntled ex-members. There is a reason, noticed even by CD-Host who is an outsider, that there is such a remarkable consistency between ex-members who don't even know one another about how it feels to leave.

Even IF the elders will not watch such cohesion carefully, then the least you can do, and why I jumped on in the first place, is NOT CALL EX-MEMBERS NAMES and attack them, whether explicitly or subtly. They don't deserve it, and they don't have any more right to call people names than I do. Besides, be the bigger person. If you are consistent with your own theology we're all burning in hell anyways, right? By attacking you really are making your own claims of high compassion seem hypocritical. I value compassion too - it's why I haven't directly attacked you as a person.

Please read this carefully before you hurl more insults at me. Thank you.

Smooth Jazz said...

See, this is what I'm talking about -- naaasty. Where you discredit yourself E is your story about how "abused" you were because "they were just too cohesive!"

I was following you until I read, "in a highly cohesive group the theology is almost totally irrelevant." It's evident you don't know much about Xenos, or you'd know why such a statement about Xenos is ludicrous. Probably you went to a CT once or twice.

The truth is the truth: these people include pedophiles, sexual predators, angry and bitter control-freaks and criminals. If that offends you, then you really don't understand the nature of the world very well. If that's "calling people names", then we're on different planets, because those terms are accurate and precise. What would you call a pedophile? Someone who "really cares about children?"

CD, here's what simply doesn't jive at all: all the above claim to be victims, but they're not wallflowers, and they're not faint-hearted at all. I read very aggressive and even mean-spirited comments. Am I to believe these people were "controlled" by some "cohesive" and invisible force at Xenos?

So far E, you're in check-mate because you simply can't provide the "smoking gun" -- that "Xenos mechanism" you're trying to tell the world about. Give me a URL. Give me something that proves something. Otherwise, we're just dealing with the typical hype and groundless slander.

Sorry I said "CIA" -- you actually said CD was like the "FBI" for asking you to cough up some evidence.

Smooth Jazz said...

Also, here's a URL to read an accurate report of what happens when someone "leaves" http://remonstrance.neoblogs.org/the-cult-thing/comment-page-1/#comment-413

E, by your own admission you don't even know me, nor my ministry-- So I really think you're way out of line trying to explain it to the world like this.

It's bigotry.

E said...

Ah. I am in checkmate. I didn't even know.

I'm sure people in Xenos will celebrate your victory, but to oustiders looking in things may appear a little differently. This is what you don't seem to realize.

Plus I am still satisfied some folks who used to be Xenos may read all of this and find some solace.

But then maybe that's fine with both of us?

I wish you luck at continuing to chase the pedophiles, perverts, and pornographers from your group.

Smooth Jazz said...

I would also like to point out that more than one of the above "victims" have been kicked out of multiple groups, by their own admission. (E says he's an expert at getting kicked out of groups.)

I can see why. Their language is bitter, and their bitterness didn't start at Xenos.

E said...

Indeed that is true, I don't know about NeoXenos. Nevertheless you are arguing alongside your Columbus brethern, and I do know them. Maybe you're different.

I recommend you read:
any number of excellent social psychology texts on exclusion. they're tough at first, but you get used to the writing.

easier and good is:

http://www.amazon.com/Cults-Healing-Coercion-Marc-Galanter/dp/0195123700/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241054456&sr=8-18

E said...

Wowser. Another cheap shot, eh Keith?

In the main I mean informal groups of friends, as did Icy Mountain. The only formal boot I have ever was from my ministry house once upon a time.

Smooth Jazz said...

I can't believe you just said that about such dangerous people. You're actually castigating us for removing pedophiles, criminals and predators? Wow.

Have you no compassion for the people they hunt? Are there no limits to your criticism of our work? Are we not allowed to protect even the children without your ridicule?

E said...

More cheap shots! Yes of course, I embrace pedophiles. I knew you could add more color to the Xenos insult list.

So which am I? A pedophile or just a pedophile tolerater? Which one goes with lying Mexican Hat Dancers?

I thought I was in checkmate. Why are you still calling me names?

I look forward to seeing the new names you come up with tomorrow. For now I need to leave the internet and go home to go to bed. Goodnight.

Night9Hawk said...

And yet I was told I had a problem with love when I brought it and other incidents to the attention of an elder. I had gone with one of the members of my cell group to talk to him and at the end of the the conversation he turned to my friend-never addressing me-and told him about my "problem" and that I needed to study certain verses in the Bible that talked about love since I seemed to have such a poor grasp of it. It wasn't too long after that incident that I left Xenos.

Church discipline was at best unevenly practiced within the home church I attended....
But of course it's different for leaders and workers? They're held to a much higher standard, right? In some ways they were in terms of their responsibilities. They were not held to the same high standard when it came to their behavior.
[Dennis] They should be held to a higher standard in duties and in behavior.
[the leader] tagging some campus building... Dennis...what would you have done if this situation had been brought to your attention?
[Dennis] I would be outraged that a Xenos leader was engaged in this illegal and harmful activity. I actually had a situation like this presented to me (must be a different one, b/ more recent and different circumstances) and we went to the leader involved (and some others) and read the riot act to them. We warned them that if it ever happened again they would be removed without discussion. They were repentant and agreed to never tag anyone again, and I don't think they have.

Smooth Jazz said...

Well E, that seems like a very cold-hearted way to treat some of the people who've been raped, and the kids who've been molested. One guy was raped by his dad for years until somebody found out and did something about it.

When you trivialize our responsibility to victims like this, I think you're losing sight of what really matters: people matter, not your "cause".

I've asked politely and repeatedly for any documentation that would prove what you're saying, that's all. I want to know specifically what we're teaching that's in any way causing all of the terrible mind-controlling and emotionally-manipulative things you name above.

Go on our vast repository of MP3 teachings, go on our Webs. It's all there.

Find anything? Even 1 document or teaching?

For a problem so extensive and universal, maybe you could find 1/2 a teaching.

Even 5 minutes -- can you find even 5 minutes in a teaching promoting all this terrible abuse?

Of course not.

You'd rather not talk about this, any further, I'm sure. So I'll leave you alone now.

Night9Hawk said...

Dennis said...
Night9Hawk said...

(Being the curious sort of person I am I would be interested to see what happens when the McCallums and Gary are no longer a part of the church in about 30-40 years.)
[Dennis] It won't take that long

Despite the tone of some of my posts I don't bear you any ill will and I do hope you continue to live for a long time. I liked your teaching almost as much as I did Gary's teaching while I attended Xenos. You might find a post I made somewhere else regarding Xenos where I mentioned that I always thought the teachings at Xenos were always well thought-out and consistent with what I read in Scripture. My problem is more with the application of it at the home church and cell-group level.

Smooth Jazz said...

So Nighthawk, you were the "tagger" that Dennis is talking about? Dude, where did you tag at? This is all new stuff to me, but I think it's funny.

Night9Hawk said...

I'll take a swing at the "Xenos Zombies" concept if you don't mind. When I was a member of Xenos I was told by several of the workers in my home church that one of the goals of our church was to grow big enough that we could split. I believe it had split several months before I had joined them. I'm not saying that it was the only goal or the most important goal but it was pretty important to the people I was talking with at the time.

I lived in a (non) ministry house with several other members of my home church and one of my roommates spent a lot of time talking to one of the people he was discipling so I had many opportunities to listen in on their conversations. This roommate was considered to be one of the workers in our home church and had on occasion taught at home church so he wasn't some marginal character in the group.

On one occasion he explained how to bring people into Xenos and witness to them. I don't know of any other way to describe it other to call it love bombing because it started with striking up casual conversations with people (students at OSU), inviting them to hang out at either our house or our ministry house, casually dropping hints about the Xenos brand of Christianity like "Sorry, I can't go to the movies with on Thursday because I have to go to church." or "I've got a full evening coming up tonight. First I have church and then afterwards a bunch of us are going to head over to the Blue Danube for some beers." All done to arouse the curiosity of the person. The questions are followed by invitations and then the rest of the group gets involved in making the new guy feel at home.

I'll interject here that up to this point I don't see very much wrong with what's going on because I think that it's good on one level that Xenos people act like normal people in some ways. The Bible doesn't preclude people from drinking beer for example so churches that have prohibitions against alcohol set up unnecessary barriers to people. (And sometimes appear to be a bit foolish.) So why do I call it "love bombing"? Because according to that worker I was paraphrasing and the decision continuum at some point several months down the road if this person doesn't give his or her life over to Jesus then it's time to move on. No more invitations to play chess or hang out. Move onto the next person.

You might be able to make an argument that I might have misunderstood that worker but that fateful Workers Meeting I attended one Saturday not only talked about the decision continuum but the fact that at the time the leadership in Xenos felt that Columbus had been "fished out" and that it was time to look to other neighboring cities for growth. By their estimates at the time Xenos had touched approximately 100,000 people and based on the demographics of Columbus at the time it was felt that there really weren't that many other people to reach in Columbus. Some had cold hearts, others were part of other area churches and the 100,000 had already seen Xenos and decided it wasn't for them. That was a remarkable number of people to have come through Xenos since this meeting took place in the mid 80s.

If anybody knows about a series of articles that ran in the old Columbus Citizen-Journal in the early to mid 1980s let me know roughly what year/month it ran. I heard talk of in my home church but was never able to find a copy of it.

Night9Hawk said...

Smooth Jazz said...
@Nighthawk: "chased by the OSU police because they'd caught him tagging some campus building..."

What's "tagging" ?? And is it like "Shunning" too? I mean, were they writing the names of people who Xenos hates on buildings or something?

Just curious. Never heard of it before. (I wonder if I've done it?)

The police saw him spray painting marks on buildings on the OSU campus. Our ministry house was within a few blocks of campus so he had easy access to the campus area.

Night9Hawk said...

Smooth Jazz said...
So Nighthawk, you were the "tagger" that Dennis is talking about? Dude, where did you tag at? This is all new stuff to me, but I think it's funny.
Me? Heavens no. I'm the guy who shows up the next morning to scrub other people's marks off the next morning. And still do to this day. Just ask the guy who keeps writing "piss porn is wonderful" on our elevator doors why he has to keep coming back to write it and he'll probably throw a few curses in my direction.

Smooth Jazz said...

@Nighthawk: "I don't know of any other way to describe it other to call it love bombing"

What we don't get to hear in the conversation you reported is what the other guy was saying, or how it started. Did he say something like, "I wish I knew how to socialize with other people, because I'm so shy."

Now I do know for a fact that leaders are trained NOT to do "love-bombing" -- you can look it up on our Web.

My question is, can you find any way that Xenos is actually TEACHING love-bombing, or anything like it.

I do know people get enthusiastic about their faith and perform "love bombing". Of course, it really happens all over the world, the way you describe it: namely, people want to meet other people, hoping they might be able to form a relationship. The fact that the relationship never deepened beyond chess-playing for whatever reason and became boring also happens all over the world, all the time.

I want to know why you're singling-out a few people at Xenos who may be relationally-impaired and then coloring all Xenos people that way.

Why be so harsh? Is it really a Xenos policy or teaching, or is it that maybe we don't have enough "oversight" to control everyone's conversations. I know we teach AGAINST love-bombing, so what do you want us to do?

I have to instruct my son on how to relate to people just like you described above. My son has Autism. He's handicapped. Otherwise, he would never have any relationships.

If someone overheard my conversations with Sean they could make it sound like a controlling thing, too.

All I'm saying is that if someone's having to "instruct" someone else on how to meet people and make friends, then that's really sad. It's probably a handicapped person. Nobody needs to tell me how to make friends (or enemies) -- I'm pretty good at it.

stewicked said...

Icy Mt.,

I was going to write a long reply to your comment but I realized it really wasn't worth the time. I will say, though, I am not and never have been ashamed of my beliefs. Just because someone does not believe that their faith is something to proselytize does not mean they are ashamed of it. Also, in the world I grew up in etiquette and common sense dictate there are three things that you never discuss at work: politics, religion, and sex.

You make several assumptions about me and I don't know where you are getting your ideas from. One, you state that I am pagan. I have never once said that I am anything other than not christian. Do you believe any one who is not christian is a pagan? Does that include Jews, Muslims, or Hindus? Also, you say that I will talk about my faith on the "interwebs" but not at work. Again, I am confused where you are getting this idea. I don't talk about my faith on the internet or at work. If my stating that I am not christian is considered discussing my beliefs then we have a major disconnect in our thought processes because I have not discussed anything about what I believe.

Smooth Jazz said...

Here is the kind of mean-spirited and harsh atmosphere which makes conversation impossible:

"E" says about me, "“He ran into some BIZARRE stories which led him to research Xenos...
- Par for the course, dismissive of former members. Why "bizarre?" Are all of these people liars?


Maybe it's "par for the course" and maybe it's definitive proof that we at Xenos don't take complaints seriously.

Or, maybe I don't get the benefit of the doubt, because the stories are truly bizarre.

Well, here's one such story which proves how truly bizarre these stories are:

About 2 years ago my friend, unnamed because of privacy, took me to one of their "camps" or "outings". When I went with my friend the Xenos group came along and I guess it was supposed to be some kind of initiation into their group. The first time I met them I like them and they used peer pressure to "force" me to join, which I did as I got baptized a month after meeting them...the 2nd time was nothing like the first howeve3r. When I got there we ate some sort of food I never heard of and honestly it tasted horrible. I now suspect we ate human. To drink the leader gave us all beers and he knowlingly knows most of us are underage. Now the rest of that night is a bit blurry as the leader got me a little drunk, but i suspect he took advantage of me. The next week I was still happy with this group as I was young and innocent to what was happening then. It was on a Tuesday night while I was over my friends house when things got wierd. My friend, unnamed, gave me his new virtual game or what I thought was a virtual game, but like the movie Zoolander it was a brainwashing thing. i don't remember the messages, but all i remember is that after wearing it all I cared about was Xenos and that they are my family and that my mother and father are just citizens to me now.

It goes on and on.

You can choose to listen to such garbage if you want, but please give me some grace to be skeptical.

Smooth Jazz said...

Stewecked -- you can't be serious, I'm sure. You actually think Christians aren't supposed to evangelize?

I'm sorry but that's one of the most astonishing things I've ever heard from someone in this culture. Christians are well-known for "proselytizing" as you call it, derogatorily.

stewicked said...

Smooth Jazz said...

Stewecked -- you can't be serious, I'm sure. You actually think Christians aren't supposed to evangelize?

I'm sorry but that's one of the most astonishing things I've ever heard from someone in this culture. Christians are well-known for "proselytizing" as you call it, derogatorily.
I never said you weren't supposed to evangelize or proselytize. That is a tenant of your faith. I said just because someone doesn't do this it does not mean they are ashamed of their beliefs.

Also, derogatorily? I believe you are seeing motivations in my statement that are not there.

Smooth Jazz said...

Well, to "proselytize" is a pejorative term. I'm sure you're aware of that fact, aren't you? Because you're also using the term negatively when you say, "etiquette and common sense dictate there are three things that you never discuss at work: politics, religion, and sex."

The Bible calls it "evangelize" because it means to "announce the good news!" When someone knows about the way to escape slavery and tells other slaves about freedom, it's not really "proselytizing" in any sense of the word.

Please read this young man's blog: http://tom.neoblogs.org/?p=54

He's found real life and he wants to tell the world about it! I think that's so refreshing to see out of the Millenial generation. Don't you think that's cool?

People talk about both politics and sex at work, but how many Web sites are opened up against their practices? Only Christians get a black eye for breaking the unspoken "rule of etiquette", it appears.

Jesus Christ is God, Christians claim, not just a "wise man". Either Christians are liars or God did, in fact, come down to earth, clothe Himself in flesh and blood, and died on the cross to save us from certain destruction.

No, it is not true that Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists are all the same. Nothing could be more wrong.

In Christianity, you're saved by God's work, not by your own self-effort. This is not true in all the other religions.

Self-effort, or trust God to save -- those are as different as night and day.

Are you saying I'm politically-incorrect or narrow-minded simply because I know there's a huuuuge difference between the two approaches to eternal life?

Smooth Jazz said...

@Nighthawk: "that fateful Workers Meeting I attended one Saturday not only talked about the decision continuum but the fact that at the time the leadership in Xenos felt that Columbus had been "fished out" and that it was time to look to other neighboring cities for growth."

I thought Dennis already clarified the "Decision Continuum" earlier. Was he incorrect, or are you ignoring him? Because his explanation sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Jesus Christ called his followers "Fishers of Men." If you don't like that term, your problem is with Jesus, isn't it? Why blame Xenos?

Just because they talked about being "Fishers of men" and the "Decision Continuum", which seemed perfectly reasonable, I can't see why you would call it "that fateful Worker's Meeting."

stewicked said...

Keith,

pros·e·ly·tize (prŏs'ə-lĭ-tīz')
v. pros·e·ly·tized, pros·e·ly·tiz·ing, pros·e·ly·tiz·es

v. tr.
To convert (a person) from one belief, doctrine, cause, or faith to another.

The definition of proselytize is what my experience with members of Xenos, specifically, and other christians has been. I am not being disparaging with the word. I am being clear and concise. Evangelize, by definition, is to preach the gospel to. I have not just had the gospel preached to me but pressure to convert to christianity. Take that as you will but my intent in using the word proselytize is not defamatory in the least.

I looked over the blog you linked and I do agree that it is cool for Thomas to have found a religion that he is happy with.

Yes, many people will discuss politics, religion, and sex in the workplace. These are conversations I do not partake in. I will be the first to admit that my sense of propriety and etiquette may be old fashioned in comparison to current society's but that is who I am.

Now, I never said that christians, jews, muslims, or any other religions were all the same. What I did ask was that in not knowing what religion I ascribe to and labeling me a pagan was Icy Mt. saying that any religion that is not christian, e.g. judaism, islam, or hindi are pagan religions.

I never said anything about your polticial correctness or if you were an outside the box kind of thinker and I most certainly have not said anything about how YOU choose to find eternal life.

I am starting to think that you might be mixing comments I have made with comments others have made because you seem to be reading much more into what I am saying than what I am really saying.

E said...

Keith, I think by trying to portray me as someone who tolerates pedophiles you have crossed the line in your rhetoricaL zeal. It's an ugly thing to do.

People will read this blog and draw their own conclusions. I am comfortable with what I have written, and I suspect that my earlier prediction will hold true. People in Xenos and NeoXenos will celebrate your and Dennis' argument while others may find your form of compassion and love (or at least your sense of fair play), at least as manifested here, a little curious.

I have said many times, I have no doubt you do some good work up in Akron. I wish us both well in working with people, there is certainly enough injustice that needs working on to go around. I am sorry about the crazy lady with the placards.

In the meantime I hope you become a little more receptive to criticism and broaden your perspective a little. One of the great things I learned when I left Xenos was that there is a depth and compassion and amazing diversity in both Christian and human thought outside Xenos. Even those "postmodernists" which you despise, perhaps without understanding them really, were deeply concerned about matters of oppression, though I also may not always agree with their conclusions.

I am really taking advice this time and signing off. Good day.

gothic-oreo said...

Well, I guess we'll never know what the others had to say for themselves, just your story. And I guess you want to keep it that way. Suit yourself.Dennis, you are being disingenuous here. I know who initially found this and forwarded it on within Xenos. If you do not know what they have to say for themselves you just have not asked them.

However, that is your concern, not mine. At this point, I really do not care what goes on within your church. I have no illusions that my testimony, or the testimony of anybody else is going to change Xenos. Doubly so when one takes into account how you will present such complaints at CTs and rip them apart (as was passed to me about a CT in 2004 or 05).

No, initially, getting my story out was just cathartic. Since then, I merely defend it as a warning to those who may be considering your church. What happened to me is not unique or uncommon. If you are not aware of this, then you need to look inward at what is going on in your own house.

gothic-oreo said...

[Dennis] No. I'll never admit any blanket culpability for Xenos or validity for those complaining. The only way to handle this is on a case by case basis.
Yes, all the better to divide and conquer.

Example: One of the key groups of angry ex-xenoids are leaders removed from leadership because they were found guilty of abusive leadership. Now they're out there pointing the finger at Xenos. I'm supposed to this is our fault? I don't think so. I'm supposed to say their feelings are valid? I don't think so. And it wouldn't add to my credibility at all if it did. It would demolish my credibility and show I was nothing but a butt-kisser.
I cannot say anything to this, as I don't know any leaders that were ever removed for abuse. However, this is a common enough problem that there is an entire group of these people that speak out against Xenos? If there are enough abusive ex-leaders from Xenos to constitute an entire subset of your accusers, then maybe you should examine your leadership vetting and training practices.

Why do I think people get on the internet and complain about Xenos? Depends on the situation. You make it sound like there's only one reason! Like it's all one syndrome. Anyone who has worked with people knows better than that.
Really cannot argue with you there.

The fact is that every large church in America has blogs like this pointing the finger at them, including horror stories from ex-members. Your assumption that just because people complain, something is wrong with the church, is baseless. CD has called on people to come forward with real events or facts. NOTHING.
As far as real events, I stand by what I said. As I pointed out in my previous comment to you, the people that brought the issue up in Xenos to begin with are some of those that were involved. You have everything you need to get their side of the story. Either you do not wish to because it is more convenient to stand here and call our claims baseless, or there is something embarrassing there.

You saw what "stewicked" said when I offered to look into her complaint. No, she doesn't want to resolve anything or have truth prevail. She just wants to tell her story and nobody can refute it, because nobody even knows what she's talking about.
See above. You are the one being disingenuous, not my wife.

In multiple cases, people have felt upset at Xenos, while in, or after leaving, and have approached me or other elders. Their cases were examined, people interviewed, and not infrequently, apologies were issued from Xenos people involved. In other cases, it turns out they left out most of the story, and spun it into a victimization story, when actually they were the perpetrators.
This has to be the most classic "blaming the victim" I have ever seen.

That's the only way to handle unhappy ex-members. Case by case. Your plea that they're all somehow alike, and onto something is wrong, and has no backing.
I can partially agree with you here. However, as I have said before, I know for a fact that my case is not unique. When you have similar cases, often there are similar underlying causes.

gothic-oreo said...

CD-Host said...

It seems this is starting to deadlock a little bit. The people complaining are asserting that Xenos has something resembling a policy like Scientology's Fair Game to go after people who criticize them (in Scientology terms "suppressive persons").

CD, like I told Dennis, it has gotten back to me that the people that brought this issue up within Xenos in the first place are some of the earliest players in my story. He can get all of the information from them he needs.

Smooth Jazz said...

@E: Here's ugly: "I wish you luck at continuing to chase the pedophiles, perverts, and pornographers from your group."

I know you're not sincere about that statement, and I know you're making fun of us just because we care.

People reading this will see you allow no room for any kind of excommunication or kicking anyone out of a group, no matter what their activities.

And quit saying I'm calling you and others here names. That's a lie. Please have the decency to attack me for what I am saying.

When you lie, it casts doubt on your story.

I'm sure you'll just say, "another cheap shot, eh?" That's the way you've been answering real objections.

I don't know you at all, but frankly if you were in my church, I can see why you make so many people very unhappy: you're very unkind and you're lying about me right here in front of everyone!

gothic-oreo said...

CD
I didn't think E's example of what happens at CT was a valid critique at all. After teachings, the floor is open for comments, questions, or shared experiences. Anyone can raise their hand and make their point. Leaders are just as much allowed to speak as anyone else.

He implied that the whole thing was rigged, and that if leaders make affirming points, that's dirty somehow. In fact there is no rigging, hostile questioners speak up as well, and yes, there aren't as many of them. So what? That's exactly what you would expect in an open forum.
Well, What I would see is the CT leaders often would stop calling on people who asked too many questions they did not like. Not to mention that person would more or less be descended on afterward and barraged by multiple people. It wasn't conspiratorial, just how members "circle the wagons" when questioned heavily. I can easily see how non-members or new members could see it as conspiratorial. Seeing it in action when I believed wholeheartedly in Xenos was still kind of spooky.

Smooth Jazz said...

@Gothic: Den said "apologies were issued from Xenos people involved..." and you said "classic example of blaming the victim."

I think you probably didn't mean that, or maybe you misread "apologies were issued" ??

Smooth Jazz said...

@Gothic: "Well, What I would see is the CT leaders often would stop calling on people who asked too many questions they did not like. Not to mention that person would more or less be descended on afterward and barraged by multiple people..."

Now if this happens in Columbus, I can only say that I'm truly shocked. I'm not disputing your story per se, but I am wondering if it was an anomaly, or if it was a younger/new teacher. I know that I, for one, LOVE to handle tough questions about Christianity, because it gives me a chance to demonstrate how easy it is to clear up the vast majority of objections. I know Den is that way, and Gary too.

But maybe this occurred with a more inexperienced teacher, and if so, I think I can sympathize.

I'll bet you would do the same thing in a public forum. I'm not sure why you have to get all bent out of shape about it. I'll bet 9 out of 10 public speakers wouldn't be good at handling open-floor debate like that. Even George Bush was pretty bad at it!

So this is supposed to prove what, exactly? That Xenos should have more-experienced teachers up there?

I'm also wondering what you think about the fact that WE'RE THE ONLY CHURCH IN TOWN THAT ALLOWS OPEN DISCUSSION OF THAT KIND AT ALL!!


At least we don't suppress ALL debate--just debate getting out of control.

CD-Host said...

Gothic --

What I would see is the CT leaders often would stop calling on people who asked too many questions they did not like. Not to mention that person would more or less be descended on afterward and barraged by multiple people. It wasn't conspiratorial, just how members "circle the wagons" when questioned heavily. When you say "questions they did not like" can you give some examples of teaching / question pairs? What is didn't like because:

1) They were rude
2) They were directed at a different theology than Xenos' (for example if Dennis were teaching credobaptism asking about the passages that support paedobaptism, or when Dennis is preaching grace question about theonomist readings)?
3) There were off topic?
4) There were either too easy or too complex for the crowd?
5) Outright heretical (arianist, modalist, marcionite...)

So what didn't they like? And you mentioned they were swarmed. What was the purpose of the swarm?

1) Intimidation
2) Discuss the topic
3) Create peer pressure

Smooth Jazz said...

Here, you guys will love this run-down on our cult activities: http://remonstrance.neoblogs.org/look-ma-im-famous/

It has lots of good cult-like info about us, and I think you'll enjoy it tremendously.

Smooth Jazz said...

If I could add 1 more question to your list, CD: did the teacher ignore the questioner because enough had already been said, and it was becoming an argument? This is where I would cut it off, I think, and make it a more-private discussion.

Night9Hawk said...

I refer to it as that "fateful Worker's Meeting" because it made a lot of things crystal clear to me regarding Xenos and in particular the home church I was a part of at the time. I came to realize behind the good teaching Xenos was nothing more than a scalp-hunting organization. People are not to be handled like objects, used to build power and discarded when they no longer are useful to you. THAT is why I refer to that meeting as fateful because my understanding of what was going on all came together. It's why I actively discourage people from being involved with Xenos, telling them to find another church home. I keep waiting to see some sign of change within Xenos but frankly from what I've seen here I don't think you've changed very much.

Night9Hawk said...

As far as cutting off debate/questions at CT and in the home churches, I wonder if Xenos is still planting "questions" in the audience that they've rehearsed ahead of time? Pretending to "ask" a question like that is at best disingenuous. It went on in the home church I attended and I'd have to wonder if it went on at CT.

Night9Hawk said...

To Dennis:

I don't think Xenos is a cult. I don't think the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security or Agent Mulder are involved in tracking down disgruntled ex-Xenoids. I don't even think you're performing on-the-spot lobotomies for people who wish to join the church.

The shunning does go on I believe. When I left the church almost everybody from my home church stopped talking to me. I received a single brief note from my ex-roommate telling me he regretted that I had done and that he wished me well in finding a new church home. Three other members who lived on the same block as I did wouldn't talk to me. Which included the guy who had been my best friend up until that time; he lived 2 doors away and would barely even say hello when we passed each other. Remember, I wasn't kicked out or disciplined I left on my own accord, so you could hardly say I was under some sort of sanction.

I wouldn't expect you to know individual cases Dennis-any good leader has to delegate. There are more than a few of us out here and that should be enough to get your attention.

Did any of you hear about the Xenos Survivors group that use to meet back in the early to mid 90s at the local Vineyard church? I received an invitation to it but declined to go. I was wondering how many people attended it.

Night9Hawk said...

Another question I would throw out to the rest of the group-minus Dennis and Keith who have a vested interest in defending their church-was another rumor that I heard around my home church. The rumor was that the fellowship had changed it's name from Fish House Fellowship to Xenos because there were persistent rumors of problems with excessive discipline at the original Fish House and the problems had eventually garnered bad press for the group. Does anybody know anything more about it? (I feel so old when I think back on these things-I must have been around for a LONG time!)

Smooth Jazz said...

@Blackhawk: "Xenos was nothing more than a scalp-hunting organization. People are not to be handled like objects, used to build power and discarded when they no longer are useful to you."

Wow, man. That really sounds like a lot of hatred built-up. You certainly haven't raised anything that justifies such venomous language.

"Build power" ?? What's all this power? Who's getting rich? Who's benefiting? Frankly, it's a PAIN to reach out into the secular world; it's a thankless job.

They wanted to reach other communities outside of Columbus, and that's their great sin? Wow. "A scalp-hunting organization" -- I'm unaware of any scalps collected by Xenos, nor any fees or rewards or anything. Scalp-hunters get some gain.

Blackhawk, you're going to end up hating lots of churches, because that's just not at all uncommon among Christian groups.

Smooth Jazz said...

"Another question I would throw out to the rest of the group-minus Dennis and Keith..."

Why hate me? You don't even know me!

I'm not even IN Columbus, and Xenos isn't even my church!

I can see you're not a man who cares much for the truth. Just because I disagree with you, everything I say is automatically disqualified?

Wow. Dude, have some integrity.

I could answer your question about the Fish House, but since you don't want to hear it, I'll be quiet now.

Smooth Jazz said...

@Nighthawk: "When I left the church almost everybody from my home church stopped talking to me"

I think that's because of the way you talk & castigate anyone who disagrees with you, like you just did with me.

Is that not a possibility?

Smooth Jazz said...

@Blackhawk: "Did any of you hear about the Xenos Survivors group that use to meet back in the early to mid 90s at the local Vineyard church?"

First of all, that's a lie. The local Vineyard church is on excellent terms with Xenos. Their Sr. Pastor taught at the Xenos Summer Institute, for God's sake! If Vineyard is harboring a "survivor's group", they sure don't know about it.

The truth is this: a number of people left Xenos to go to Vineyard. There was a disagreement over tongues and associated doctrines. These people left peacefully. To this day, one of my best friends who attended my 50th birthday party all the way up in Cleveland is one of those "Xenos Survivors" as you call them -- except he doesn't view himself that way at all.

His name is Jim Vagnier. He goes to the Vineyard. He's one of their leaders now. He was my roommate in a ministry house.

Please feel free to contact Jim and ask about the non-existent "Xenos Survivors Group". He loves our church and Jim feels indebted for the wonderful work the Lord accomplished in his life.

Or, contact Ken Harrah, another Cell bud of mine. He too is a leader at that Vineyard. He loves me & the work Xenos did in his life & marriage.

It's perfectly fine to have a parting-of-the-ways between people of different opinions, and both Jim and Ken would tell you I'm their friends.

Or Scott Hermann. He was another one who, according to you, would be "Snubbed" or whatever the term is. But Scott goes to Vineyard, loves it, and when he dropped his daughter off at school up here, he dropped by & we caught up with each other.

Does that sound like "snubbing" to you?

Night9Hawk said...

To Dennis:

I don't know if you're deliberately misconstruing what people are writing or just playing with people but you seem to fall back on this notion that if people write some criticism of Xenos or make a comment that's directed at somebody else other than you-which is what I was doing-that we're "hating" you. I don't think anybody here hates you. I don't think you have any reason to jump to that sort of conclusion.

To the rest of the people posting here: I'm beginning to wonder if the person who's posting here as Dennis is really him. Whoever it is seems to be taking more than a few liberties in provoking people here rather than having a dialog and perhaps learning something in the process. My evidence for my position is that whoever he is does seem to call people names, misconstrue their positions, and keeps referring to people as hating him or the the church. I wouldn't expect an elder of a large church to act that way, especially in a public forum. There's also the point that he seems to be spending a LOT of time quibbling with us the past couple of days. What do you guys think?

gothic-oreo said...

You know what I find hilarious here? That Keith and Dennis are working SO hard to discredit my wife and myself. I have not called Xenos a cult, merely accused it of being a cult like atmosphere.

Honestly, had my story ended when I left the group, I would not have had an issue. I expected some pursuance, as Xenos was always very headcount oriented. What I did not expect was Church discipline to be instituted against me and a "directive" (for lack of a better term) to come down from the HC leadership that I was not to be interacted with. It was the spiritual equivalent of "I am taking my ball and going home". It had nothing to do with correcting a brother straying away and had everything to do with behavioral control.

I don't want an apology, and I know Xenos is not going to change it's ways. The fact that Dennis and Keith are here comparing us to sexual and social deviants, doing everything they can to discredit us merely proves a lot of what I have said about Xenos. These are the leaders of the church behaving in such childlike and devious manners. Is it any stretch that their followers may be a bit off?

Smooth Jazz said...

@Blackhawk: "I wonder if Xenos is still planting 'questions' in the audience that they've rehearsed ahead of time?"

That's another lie. Can you name 1 person who was "planted", since you're in-the-know.

Or can you simply tell us where they "rehearsed" at? And exactly how much rehearsing was involved? Did they get all the questioners lined up in a special room in back and assign each one a special question?

I can see why nobody wants to talk to you. I don't blame them. If that's "snubbing", then I would be a snubber too!!

Why don't you try to be a little more nice to people?

CD asked you some very good questions, I think. And you answer with silly stories like this?

I also wonder: how do you get to be one of the "planted questions" at Xenos? Do you need to first get so-many-scalps, and then you qualify?

Also, how much $$ do they pay the "planted questioners"?

Also, can you get fired from being a "planted questioner"?

Icy Mt. said...

[E]"+ I DID say that PARTS of Xenos are very consummate with theory on highly cohesive groups, and an inevitable byproduct of these groups will be people getting hurt. I stand by this.
+ Highly cohesive groups make people who are lonely feel VERY comfortable.
+ I EVEN said I believed the spirit was probably present in Xenos, but that in pieces the cohesion has gotten out of control many times over the years."

I, for one, am glad that you didn't stay away because these are very good points. If I understand your use of "highly cohesive groups" as a pyschological term then you have hit the nail on the head. The body of Christ as expressed in any Xenos home church (or any small Christian church), knit together by the Holy Spirit, is going to be a highly cohesive group. I believe that Xenos leadership know this and watch for undesirable byproducts and that such oversight has improved over time. However, to eliminate the group would be to eliminate the very emulation of first century Christians that we espouse! I would welcome suggestions on how to have highly cohesive groups without the cohesion getting out of control. My psych classes are 25 years old, do you have any suggestions for readings about theory of highly cohesive groups?

[E]"Icy Mountain, I have been removed from other groups, have other things go south, and I have never ever felt like this feels."
I hope this is someplace where we could learn something without revealing anything that makes you uncomfortable. I hope you come back E, because I would really like to know why being being removed from Xenos was different? What felt different? I went through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults at a Catholic church, trying to find a church home with my wife, a born Catholic. I was plenty miserable when they wouldn't let me join because I could not believe in their take on communion. I didn't expect to ever hear from another person from that church, that I didn't meet outside the church, and I didn't. It sounds like your experience goes beyond that.

@stewicked: "You make several assumptions about me and I don't know where you are getting your ideas from. One, you state that I am pagan. I have never once said that I am anything other than not christian."
You have my admiration for the short reply. I'll give you a lot of credit for giving me the benefit of the doubt. The word pagan was not used pejoratively nor inaccurately. My American Hertiage Dictionary defines pagan as "1. One who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, especially a worshiper of a polytheistic religion. 2. One who has no religion. 3. A non-Christian. 4. A hedonist. 5. A Neo-Pagan" and I used the word in that sense. I may be picking nits but I believe that declaring yourself "not Christian" is discussing your beliefs. I spent a lot of time trying to frame my questions to you so they did not come across as anything more than questions. I was trying to determine why you don't dicuss your beliefs and you have answered the question.
@gothic_oreo: Sponge + Plowed = heavy rotation on my Zune, very loud.

Lastly, this is most definitely an emotionally charged issue for both sides: for the ex-Xenos folks this is painful and Keith and Dennis tend to come out blasting because of the history of "crazy lady with placards" to quote E. I have tried to choose my words carefully so that honest questions and plain language are not misconstrued. I am trying to learn something from those who left while at the same time defending my church.

Smooth Jazz said...

@Blackhawk: "Xenos was nothing more than a scalp-hunting organization. People are not to be handled like objects, used to build power and discarded when they no longer are useful to you"

That's the kind of vindictive language I'm talking about.

It's not "disagreement with Xenos" -- it's slander.

There is a big difference.

Smooth Jazz said...

@Gothic: "The fact that Dennis and Keith are here comparing us to sexual and social deviants"

Please give me the quote where I did that. If I did, I would like to apologize. If I didn't I wonder why you're saying this?

Smooth Jazz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Night9Hawk said...

As to the point regarding "building power" I would suggest to you Dennis-or whoever you are-that it's one of the areas that you were rather blind to during the time I was a part of Xenos. The home church I was a part of had a nasty side to it, where growth for the sake of growth was more important than people. And before you jump to the conclusion I'm referring to myself I'm not. I'd didn't leave because I was feeling ignored. I left because Christianity had become human to me. It wasn't about my salvation or the salvation of other but rather the petty machinations of the people in the church.

But I digress to some extent. Why would I make such outrageous statements? One of the women in our home church, who was considered to be one of the better "workers" since she had brought at least five other women into the home church, was attracted to me for a while. She suggested to me that I should get on the ball and get out there and evangelize a bit and build up a similar string of people so that we could be "leaders together". She was implying, of course, that we'd be able to date if I was packing them into the church. She told me later, after she'd left Xenos, that she'd been under a lot of pressure from the leaders in the home church to steer clear of me because I wasn't really a "worker".

If any of you haven't read "The History of the Church" by Eusebius I would recommend it to you. It was suggested to my ironically by the same leader who was tagging buildings on campus. (I'm indebted to him for his suggestion!) It really throws into question WHY some books of the New Testament are included in it. Maybe we'll bat that point around some other time, because I brought the book up because there's an apocryphal story in there regarding the Apostle John and a young boy whom John had taken an interest in spiritually. I don't think I can do it justice but if you look here

http://www.preteristarchive.com/ChurchHistory/0325_eusebius_history.html

for BOOK III, CHAPTER XIII, Narrative Concerning John the Apostle you'll find the story. So when I heard workers in Xenos giving people 3 months to make a decision for Christ before moving on to more "fertile fields", or decision timelines/continuums that codify that sort of behavior I don't really feel like I can do anything other than hold that sort of nonsense up to the scorn it deserves because not everybody fits neatly into that sort of timeline. Parents have to learn that sort of thing or else raising kids will be a very frustrating experience. The story of John that I mentioned may be apocryphal but it rings a lot truer than a decision timeline.

Nobody here expects you to put on sackcloth or cover yourself with ashes if you really are Dennis. At least I hope not-I just say that I have no desire to "punish" or bring anybody down. I would just like to see these problem addressed without all the nasty attitude that seems to be prevalent from members of Xenos. If you really are Dennis and you really want to talk then let's talk it out in this public forum. You may not like everything that's said to you here but then again I doubt I will either! I'm open to being proven wrong.

Night9Hawk said...

I think that using the word lie is inappropriate in this case. I don't know if any of the other posters here are "lying" since I don't know them. I know for a fact that the stuff I'm saying is true because I lived it. When I ask questions about things like Fish House I qualify it by saying "I heard this...". I didn't state it was fact but rather was asking around for more information.

Would I be "lying" if I asked about a concert that Xenos was a part of that included Larry Norman, for example, if I asked if there was any truth to the story that he was asked specifically not to include an altar call during his concert. The story goes that he did anyway and ran afoul of the elders. Heard it at a home church meeting one week and I've often wondered about it because it has a bit of a ring of truth to it since it tends to step outside the bounds of the continuum.

Would you call me a hater for asking? Or a liar? Or suggest that I have some sort of "love" problem because I can't see the beauty in the way things are done in Xenos?

Night9Hawk said...

I don't normally like to follow up a post with another one on the same topic right away but I feel compelled to do it.

Would you mind (briefly) explaining to the rest of the people here what the decision continuum is and how it relates to the members of the church. It is a sticking point with me since I was led to believe by people in my home church that it was a fairly rigid tool to guide workers in evangelism.

Am I lying when I say that there was a lot of pressure back in the 1980s to grow the church? Am I lying if I say there was a consensus in the mid-80s that Columbus was "fished out"?

Am I lying when I ask if there were some negative articles written about Xenos in the early 80s? I was told about them by other members of the church but I was never able to find them. (I did look.)

What if I mentioned all the nonsense that went on regarding the four temperaments? By nonsense I mean the pigeonholing and marginalizing that went on as result of assigning temperament labels to people. "He's a Sag-phleg-he can't be depended on" or "He's too melancholic to be a good leader-we need somebody that a bit more sanguine." I heard it and lived through it. You can call me a liar Dennis for bringing it up but from my point of view I don't blame you for not knowing what was going on in every home church during every meeting because unlike God you're not all-knowing or omnipresent. I can only tell you what went on in the church I attended during the time I was a part of Xenos.

For the record I hung onto my temperaments book-it's a reminder to me not to label people.

Icy Mt. said...

Google is my friend:
http://www.geocities.com/athens/forum/1650/htmlgroups18.html
Highly cohesive groups, including pros and cons.

Smooth Jazz said...

@Blackhawk: "Where growth for the sake of growth was more important than people..."

Well, if that's true, that doesn't sound good at all. Now what makes you say that?

gothic-oreo said...

Please give me the quote where I did that. If I did, I would like to apologize. If I didn't I wonder why you're saying this?

Gladly

I know this for sure: while reaching out to help the helpless, predators come along, often on the trail of their victims. We've had to kick out violent and perverted people. For obvious reasons they're not interested in revealing their identities, and they're extremely angry about getting blocked and losing their quarry. (Put yourself in the predator's shoes.)

One of my earliest experiences was with a pedophile who would not stop stalking a 14-year-old girl at Xenos. Man was he was naaaasty! He finally left (thank God), but talking about all "the Grand Xenos Conspiracies", etc.

We had a guy who was involved in bestiality with his male dog. Do you think people like this want such information divulged? They leave "blowing smoke" about the Xenos Cult.

I could go on. But every time, without exception, when I've tried to find out the real reason why someone talks so violently & convincingly about our ministry (and remain unwilling to dialog, that is--even if mediated by a neutral party of their choosing), it turns out to be someone involved in very abusive and/or perverted activity. Over the course of 30 years, there's been quite a number of such people.

You lump everybody who disagrees with Xenos into this group, and then give some pretty egregious examples, ergo associating us with those people and activities. This links directly to the reason I do not wish my identity known. All it takes a few such inferences in the right places, and entire lives can be wrecked.

You think you would be a little sensitive to things like this given the whole episode with the Akron Beacon-Journal.

Smooth Jazz said...

@Blackhawk: "For the record I hung onto my temperaments book-it's a reminder to me not to label people"

Maybe that's because you're a Mel?

Smooth Jazz said...

"ergo associating us with those people and activities"

Maybe you didn't paste enough, or missed part of the quote.

Which part associates you with "those people" please?

Smooth Jazz said...

"You think you would be a little sensitive to things like this given the whole episode with the Akron Beacon-Journal."

The subtlety eludes me. What do you mean?

Icy Mt. said...

Oh, ho, the four temperaments! Also known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. If you are asked to take this anywhere or share the results with anyone where you do not have a doctor-patient confidentiality agreement - don't. While there are many good uses for this test, most laymen will use it as Night9Hawk described: to pigeonhole or label you. This little bugger has been misused everywhere I've ever worked, it's not just a Xenos thing.

Topic, people: How do we eliminate or reduce the "cons" of "highly cohesive groups" (a.k.a. a home church) in Xenos? We can't get rid of the groups because we rely on the "pros".

Smooth Jazz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stewicked said...

Keith,

"I could go on. But every time, without exception, when I've tried to find out the real reason why someone talks so violently & convincingly about our ministry (and remain unwilling to dialog, that is--even if mediated by a neutral party of their choosing), it turns out to be someone involved in very abusive and/or perverted activity."

This statement is where you are correlating people like myself to the socially and sexually deviant.

Smooth Jazz said...

"Xenos was nothing more than a scalp-hunting organization. People are not to be handled like objects, used to build power and discarded when they no longer are useful to you."

Blackhawk, that's what I call a bold-faced lie. You claim you "lived it" -- bullshit. You don't even know what Dennis looks like! Haha, you think I'm Dennis!!

Smooth Jazz said...

@Stewicked: so you're someone who "talks so violently & convincingly about our ministry (and remain unwilling to dialog, that is--even if mediated by a neutral party of their choosing)" ???

Well, I was wondering, but if you say so...

CD-Host said...

I'm going to be gone for the next 6 hours but I'm getting closer to hitting delete here. Please, remember no personal attacks; that includes mocking.

dardrops said...

Night9Hawk said: Another question I would throw out to the rest of the group-minus Dennis and Keith who have a vested interest in defending their church

Geez, that's a little unfair, don't you think? I mean, Den and Keith were there when the name was changed, so wouldn't they be good people to ask "why the name change?" Or do we just rely on the rumor mill...who have a vested interest in mug-slinging?

I was just coming around when the name was changed. Frankly, the "Fish House" was a stupid name and we wanted a better one. The Body of Christ was asked to suggest names and then we all voted on it. It was very public and no secret. Or did we put out a secret "papal bull" to all members telling them not to let anyone know we used to be the Fish House? We had over 1000 people back then. Our fellowship was growing in leaps and bounds. Do you really believe that we were so naive to think that by changing our name we could escape bad press?? We didn't change locations, elders, or anything else. Believe me, we were and are easy to find. We merely wanted a better name. And frankly, Xenos has had a lot more "press" since then, and we're a lot more well-known. If we wanted to "escape" our reputation, we should change it now, don't you think?

Night9Hawk said: There are more than a few of us out here and that should be enough to get your attention.

I'm sorry, but many, many people who have had issues with Xenos as a whole, their home church leaders, or fellow members in Xenos have gotten plenty of attention, particularly from Den. Things don't always turn out the way people want - either for the unhappy ex-Xenoids or for the elders/leaders of Xenos. But to even suggest that no attention or concern is directed at the issues is wrong and biased. Den has elaborated on a few and has even solicited, in this blog and others, that if you have an issue, he wants to hear about it.

Either go deal with it directly as adults do and as Den has requested, even if you feel you've already gone the extra mile, or forgive and move on. The only other choice is bitterness which will eat you up from the inside out and eventually bleed into all others areas of your life.

Hebrews 12:15
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

And in the interest of being forthcoming, I'm Dar McCallum, Keith's wife. That may disqualify me in some of your eyes, but, there you go...

Smooth Jazz said...

Ok, I'm sorry CD. I was mocking Blackhawk there a little too much because he thought I was Dennis. I was outta line.

Sorry Blackhawk!

gothic-oreo said...

Smooth Jazz said...

The reason I'm "quibbling" with you guys is because of the amazing amount of lies you're spilling out here. I mean, have some decency.

Name one thing I have said that is a lie.

I'm just trying to "learn", I guess: why would someone would have to resort to such tactics, and whether or not you have a clear case.

What I've seen instead is some of the nastiest & most brutal lies I've ever heard before.

Once again tell me where I am lying.

And keep in mind, I'm not even the target of your lies. I'm not even a part of Columbus Xenos at all. I was just curious at what's going on here with Columbus, and boy did I meet some nasty people!!

But it is educational for me to see how you guys slander another church.
Isn't calling somebody a liar without any basis the slanderous action? All I have seen you do here is be sarcastic, conflate us with pedophiles and dog boinkers, and you have the temerity to accuse us of slander?

I could go on at length about some of the stories Buck used to tell about you, but I don't, out of respect for him and because I would hope you are not that person anymore. You, however, are sorely testing that theory

Whatever happened to not bearing false witness? Living your life as an example? Practice what you preach.

stewicked said...

Keith,

" Smooth Jazz said...

@Stewicked: so you're someone who "talks so violently & convincingly about our ministry (and remain unwilling to dialog, that is--even if mediated by a neutral party of their choosing)" ???

Well, I was wondering, but if you say so..."
I would not categorize how I speak of anything as violently but I would say that the stories I have shared about Xenos with others have been convincing. Also, I am one of the people that refuse to sit down with leadership from Xenos to talk about what happened.

If removing the "violently" portion of your statement thus excludes me from being enfolded into your assertion that "every time, without exception... it turns out to be someone involved in very abusive and/or perverted activity" then I apologize for being affronted.

Night9Hawk said...

To DarDrops:

I don't think it's unfair for me to direct questions at particular people. I've directed more than a few at people directly in order to get their opinions or answers to questions. It just so happens that the question you highlighted was directed at people other than leadership of Xenos. Based on some of the answers given in this group I don't think I would trust the answers they would give.

Smooth Jazz said...

Well, I'll stop pickin' at you folk. I just wanted to stop by & see this "cult-dropout" phenomena. Like I say, Xenos Cols hasn't been my church for over 15 years; and I "left" too, so I'm probably more of an "expert" at "leaving Xenos" than all of y'all combined.

I was also excommunicated by Xenos, so how do you like them apples? Betcha didn't know I'm an excommunicate, did ya?

Dude, if Buck told you stories about me, then maybe you know some things. But also, I'll bet he held back a lot too, out of some respect for me.

So one thing I'm sure you know by now is I'm no party-liner. I'm also no "Xenoid" by any Columbus definition of the term. Frankly, I think Cols Xenos is a bunch of pussies. So I'll bet that grabs ya where it feels good!

Y'all oughtta hop on over to read about Let the Shun Fun Begin!. That'll give you a good idea about NeoXenos.

We're called NeoXenos for good reasons. Think about it.

4Him said...

Oh, I get it "NEO" like derived from the Greek word "neo," meaning "youthful" or "new." That sure does fit cuz we are busting out of the seams with youth. YeeHaw!
As for new - well that does make for an interesting dialogue.

Smooth Jazz said...

Ok stewicked, apology accepted.

What I don't like is scoffing at "all your pedophiles and sex predators you have to kick out" like E did. E don't know nothin'. He don't know what it's like to have some kingpins of the porn industry tearing into you & the people you love; he don't know nothin' about what it's like to deal with the victims of these sex predators and liars and vile creatures that come crawling up out of the sewer to stink up civilized people.

4Him said...

By the way, I once attended Xenos in C-bus in the late 80's through 2000. For personal reasons, not associated with shunning, my family and I moved to the Akron area.
We first attended a large local evangelical church, where we really tried to serve the Lord and maintain a close knit fellowship. We were doctrinally close in beliefs, but the Body Life was a poor substitute for what I had experienced in C-bus. We tried to work within the structure of this mega-church through their adult Bible Fellowships - but the relationsips never clicked.

Imagine my joy when I discovered that their was this sister church to Xenos in Stow, Ohio. My husband and I checked out the group and were welcomed with open arms. That was in 2003.
Personally I have nothing, but respect for both the leaders and the workers and for that matter anyone who attends my home group.

Are we a tight group? I suppose many would say yes. In fact, I would say yes.
Are we coersive or did I ever felt coersed to attend meetings? No. The only pressure that I ever felt was self imposed - I compelled myself from a sense of duty and not from love. Those who attend or serve at the leadership level do so willingly and without compulsion. This is what I have both witnessed and experienced.

Smooth Jazz said...

[sorry, I hit the enter key too quick]

And when you guys act like none of that stuff matters, and it's all a bunch of bullshit, then I know you're not good people at all. Because I have to cleanup the mess from skunks like these. And I've got a helluva damn good point there which doesn't deserve to be trampled on.

Did you know that 1 in 4 girls are sexually molested by the time they reach adulthood?

Did you realize that the molesters are the predators I'm talking about? And I run 'em out when they're in predator mode, and there's nothing more heartbreaking than to listen to one of these girls--and now guys, too, these days--talk about churches that didn't care and didn't help them.

Then I see the indifference here towards that, and I just say, "Well there you go, there's another group of Christians just like I hear about who really wouldn't life a finger to help a woman like that."

One woman was told by a previoius church that she'd committed the "unpardonable sin" and they sent her packing. She has two small kids, and she & the kids were all victimized by a predator who tried to get his hands back on them. And that's some nasty business.

dardrops said...

Night9Hawk: "I don't think it's unfair for me to direct questions at particular people."

I agree with that, of course. It was this statement that I thought was unfair.

Night9Hawk said: "minus Dennis and Keith who have a vested interest in defending their church"

It isn't as innocent as "I was just directing a question to particular people."
It was intended and perceived as a slap. If someone else from Xenos answers your question, they, too, would be accused of having a vested interest in defending their church. So who qualifies as the "particular person" you are asking the question of? Who would have been in Xenos/Fish House at the time who could have answered the question?

Sorry. I don't think you were looking for an objective answer. Could you possibly have been looking for more dirt to throw? Mmmmm, maybe.

Icy Mt. said...

Would anyone like to discuss the pros and cons of "highly cohesive groups"? How to accentuate the positives and attenuate the negatives?

I'll put up the link again (let's see if I can make it clickable):
http://www.geocities.com/athens/forum/1650/htmlgroups18.htmlWhoohoo, I is a html genius!

Otherwise, this discussion is becoming banal.

CD-Host said...

dardrops and 4Him welcome to the blog!

Enjoy yourselves, but please no personal attacks. Feel free to disagree with other's arguments but not to denigrate their motives.

CD-Host said...

Icy --

I think that's an excellent summary of cohesive groups. I created a thread to discuss this topic since it really Xenos specific.

I figured I'd give you first post since this was your topic.

Smooth Jazz said...

So anyway, what I was saying before is that I can tell you guys are hurting pretty bad. And furthermore, I know exactly how you feel, because I've been there, "on the outs" as it were. You saw some things that turned your stomach. You saw some insincere faith. You saw some fakers, and some controllers, and over-reactors, and weaklings who didn't have the balls to look you in the eye. You saw some "tricks" being used to "make the meeting work" because it wasn't working. You saw some cowards, some party-liners and some people just "hiding" from reality.

You saw all this, and you also felt victimized, because it didn't turn out like you thought it would. Or, it changed.

You had some emotions that nobody was willing to understand, and instead they just gave you platitudes. They weren't willing to take the time to listen. They wanted to preach at you instead.

You felt like they didn't care about emotions and the way people felt about things. They just wanted to go back to their agenda. All the conversations were about their agenda, and you couldn't articulate the way you felt. So you had these emotions all bottled-up inside, and nowhere to go with them, nobody to talk to. It made you feel trapped. Finally, you had to leave and just "let loose" so you could be human again. You were tired of lying to everyone.

And it broke your heart because you really loved these people. So you're angry now at the people you loved, because they didn't love you, or so it feels.

Now you feel like you were controlled, because now you can be "genuine" or at least you can "unwind" emotionally, whereas before you felt like a hypocrite and like someone who was playing a game in front of everyone.

Sound familiar? Am I close?

I ended up excommunicated, I lost my job, my friends, my family, my place to live and everything all at once. I ended up living by the railroad tracks for 6 months in a little tent, without work or a car. And they didn't care. They treated me like I didn't exist.

They did that to me.

Does anyone have a story to beat that one?

Smooth Jazz said...

Part 2 of the saga...

Now, what I'm saying is this: if you keep focusing on how bad you got it, and let that dominate you, the only person you'll hurt is yourself. That's a fact, because Xenos Columbus sure isn't going to be phased by the way you're feeling. No sir. Not one bit.

And why should they get entangled in your struggles? (Or, for that matter, my struggles at the time I was struggling.) They don't have to blow the whistle, stop everything & declare a moratorium while they figure out why you're so messed-up & hurting.

So, you can do what I did: I tried to persuade people from going to Xenos, and I was successful at it. I brought them into my world, and together we commiserated. We had a little fun for a little while, and then of course problems began to break up our little "anti-Xenos group", as it were. We turned more and more to sin to keep things 'exciting', because we weren't really spiritually strong or healthy--none of us were--so the sin started eating us up inside and the group really became more of a pit than a "happy anti-Xenos group".

I ran across one of the girls from my "anti-Xenos group" not long ago; she was a single mom with 3 kids; living in poverty; kids all screwed-up; she was completely screwed-up, having been through several abusive relationships. She's old, worn-down, tired, beaten-up far worse than anything Xenos ever did to her.

And I can tell you this: I'm not at all proud of my "anti-Xenos work" at all. It wasn't godly. It was, in fact, ungodly.

So how do you make sense of all this? Over here is all this screwed-up Xenos crap & over there is all this screwed-up anti-Xenos crap.

Has anyone figured out how to resolve this?

Because this conundrum is definitely what I'm seeing here: on the one hand, there's expressions of gratitude for God's work in your life while at Xenos; on the other hand, there's this venting of steam & resentment about how Xenos screwed-up. And I don't think you guys really think you're unfair to Xenos at all; after all, whatever statements you make about Xenos seem small-fry in comparison to how they fried you.

What it means is that you're going to get "stuck", unless someone figures a way out of this. Dissing Xenos doesn't change anything.

And E, you're wrong that anyone will read this and have their minds changed. That ain't the way it works.

Night9Hawk said...

Nobody can stop somebody from making a comment about a particular posting-with the exception of CD. I was just making my preferences known upfront. I don't see anything wrong with making the point that somebody might have a conflict of interest in what they post. Like soliciting opinions on the TARP legislation from people outside the banking industry since the banks would benefit from the inflow of cash from passage of the legislation.

Smooth Jazz said...

So anyway, I'm not trying to lecture anyone here, and I'm sure we all have our different stories to tell.

But I did find out that ingratitude was a growing problem in my life. Not only did Xenos screw up, but a long list of people screwed up. And finally, through a very wise Katey Downs -- who still counsels at Xenos and is one of the wisest & kindest persons you'll ever meet -- I realized that I had a real problem with God. In particular, He truly was failing me, by my reckoning, because I had trusted Him, and look what I got? A bunch of trash instead of a bunch of treasure, like it should be.

Then I came to grips with perhaps one of the most profound passages in scripture: Romans 1, probably after around vs 20 or so, where Paul says, "Because they would not acknowledge God OR give THANKS..." then he lists a whole bunch of things that collapse because humans can't get a grip on how LITTLE they really DESERVE. At the heart of my problem, I felt I DESERVED better. What I didn't think about is that I DESERVED hell, if we're going to talk about justice.

That's where things took a decidedly different turn in my life, and I've found out that the secret to understanding God, this world, my past, and people around me is to first and foremost start from a grateful standpoint, and stand there and not to get moved off it. That's why Paul says in Phil. 4, "whatever is honorable, whatever is true, whatever is good...etc. set your mind on these things." It's the secret to making life work.

Now, I mention all this because it seems to me that I've seen everyone's perspective here get exaggeratedly negative, and there's been some very extreme statements made.

For example, I think it was Nighthawk or someone who said, "All Xenos cares about is scalp-hunting," or something to that effect. Well, it can't possibly be true that "ALL Xenos cares about is..." Because if this were true, Columbus Xenos would be such a decrepit and fallen world, nobody would be there anymore. I don't care how much persuasion or pressure is exerted, if that's ALL that's happening there, it would quickly dissolve.

So I'm saying, you don't have to go running back to Xenos, of course. But on the other hand, you should be able to extend the "right hand of fellowship" to those people; you should be able to thank God and see God's work in their lives and in our lives while we were there.

It means we can build instead of tear-down. And there's where real freedom and spiritual growth resides.

I've learned many times over that it isn't my job or responsibility to correct my brothers and sisters in Christ -- that belongs to God. I ican say something, but if they can't hear it, that's just not my responsibility.

And I have to trust that God loves them and me & you guys enough to come through.

Jesus Christ, when he died on the cross, was shafted by everyone and everything in the worse possible way. Yet God says that's precisely the path to victory: to pay the price for the sins of others, and learn forgiveness. That's why Jesus, it says, "Despised the shame of the cross, considering the Joy set before him." Forgiveness works. Love works, and it's far-stronger than anything else in this universe. Love wins. But we have to trust God and depend on Him and learn from Him on exactly how that works.

There, I've gone on enough.

Smooth Jazz said...

Oh, I left this out, and I dont' know why: forgiveness is the only route that wins, because the alternative is seen every day in everybody's life all across the world. Namely, revenge and war. The Bible is clear, "Them that live by the sword die by the sword," and I think that's very true.

In effect, I finally "let God deal with it," and trusted Him. And what I discovered was that God was well-pleased. He stood me back up on my feet again, and He's been blessing me with astounding joy ever since (well, as long as I avoid the salty-dog days, that is).

Now I see things a little more balanced: Xenos has its problems, but they ain't that bad. Especially compared to the problems everywhere else in the world. And believe me, there's some really, really screwed-up places & people out there.

Smooth Jazz said...

Nighthawk, I'm sorry for being so hard on you. Gothic, I'm sorry for being so hard on you. E, I'm sorry for being so hard even on you. (There may be someone else there, but I forgot.) Perhaps I got hard on you guys because you reminded me of me so much. But it's up to you as to wether or not I'm forgivable. Like I say, I'm not in that church, nor have I been in any way involved in your painful experiences.

Bill K said...

I am currently involved in a Xenos homechurch.

There are a wide number of reasons that cause a person and a group to separate. Some separations are initiated by the individual, and others by the group. CD-Host has many of the items specifically related with church discipline listed on another part of this site (I think some causes are given in the beginning of the “How to Leave a Church” thread). A non-exhaustive list of reasons particular to a church might look something like this:

Initiated by the person:
Too busy
No longer interesting
Unreasolvable and non-overlookable personality conflict
Unreasolvable and non-overlookable ideological conflict
Change of residence
Group change of residence

Initiated by the group:
Church discipline
Criminal activity

For any of these reasons, people and groups may part ways (and many of the reasons are not related to church discipline). Sometimes these partings are painful on one or both parties. However, I don’t think the presence of pain indicates that necessarily something was wrong about the individual or the group. An analogy for this “good pain” would be experiencing the death of a loved one. When you have great sorrow because a loved one has passed away, this does not indicate that there is something wrong with you, or something wrong with the way they related to you – instead it indicates that the relationship was close and important to you. At the same time, in dealing with death there can be much more than sorrow from loss; but also resentment, bitterness and anger at the deceased, at others who are seen as contributing to the death and/or God. And in the same way, some pain that comes from the parting of individuals and groups may be unhealthily caused by one or both parties.

But the topic of this particular thread was about discipline in Xenos. And the claim I specifically want to address is one advanced by E (sorry you didn’t stay on to participate – I really hope that I don’t misquote or misrepresent you: if I have please feel free to post here or contact me directly so that I can correct statements). The claim is that the personal pain that E and others have felt on leaving Xenos (or being removed) indicates that something is wrong with Xenos. In particular, E’s concern was for the personal pain she felt by the rejection you felt by your former friends in Xenos after you left. It is also claimed that the mechanism for this pain causing situation is the cohesiveness of Xenos as a group. The spoken suggestion (by E) to remedy this situation would be to have more oversight when groups are especially “tight”.

As an observer of this conversation, the unspoken suggestion would be to remove the cohesiveness (although E has acknowledged that this situation may not be wanted or warranted by Xenos).

My counter argument to this assessment and remedy is that the list of reasons groups and individuals part ways is large, and in many cases these leavings will cause pain for one or both parties. However, this pain does not necessarily indicate a problem with the group or individual, but could just be the natural pain that comes when close relationships are made less close (ex: death). At the same time, this pain could be the result of a problem with the group or the individual and/or the leaving/removal itself.

Going from a mild instance to the extreme, let’s examine two ways that a group and an individual might separate. 1) An individual moves away – When an individual moves away (family situation, job change, school change, etc), this will likely cause pain for the group and the individual if the relationship is close. This will happen regardless of the reason for moving away. And regardless of the desires of either party, the closeness of that relationship will suffer by a lack of proximity (I am much closer to my current co-workers whom I see 5 days a week than ex-coworkers whom I talk to once every few months). In this example, it would not make sense for the individual to be angry with the group because the relationship suffered. It is not something the group did or didn’t do – it is because the proximity has been changed! More than that, in this specific case, this proximity change was initiated by the individual and not the group. 2) An individual is removed by the group because of an ongoing, unrepentant and serious sin – This individual is removed from a group because of their refusal to accept a standard of moral conduct as described by God in the Bible. While they remain in the group the relationship is already pained for one or both parties (their presence suggests they share a common controlling interest, but their behavior suggests the opposite). The removal (after much pleading as in Matthew 18) is a finalization of the aforementioned situation. This commonly brings pain to both parties involved, for different reasons. Similar situations exist in the workplace when people are let go for not fulfilling job duties. The person may come to work, the may say they work there and want to do a good job, but under evaluation they fail to meet job standards and the employer lets this person go to finalize the condition that was already present. The pain in discipline situation does signify that something is wrong. The “wrong” could be from a number of sources. Dennis and Keith have cited from their own ministries many types of serious (and illegal) personal wrongs that could be the source of pain. CD-Host has compiled a list of inappropriate discipline where the church is wrong. But only in this second case (like wrongful-termination suits) does the presence of pain at discipline indicate the church is wrong. And it is for these investigations that I believe CD-Host has set up this site and I thank him for it.

Secondly, each person has to decide what values will be important to them. That being said the medicine is more dangerous than the disease if cohesiveness in groups is removed to protect individuals from the possibility of being hurt when they are separated from the group. Keeping everyone at a distance so that you are never deeply hurt also keeps away the deep joy of friendships/relationships. As a non-christian, teenage, loner I thought life was great on my personal adventures. However, when I began to let people in from school and the Boy Scouts later in high school I realized what I had been missing. Many years later, with the knowledge of and relationship with Jesus I am even more free to open myself to deep relationships knowing that I could be injured at a future parting – but that Christ is by my side and is my all in all.

CD-Host said...

OK looks like the discussion is about to die on what happened to whom and when. One thing I would like to throw out to this group....

Xenos is one the most left wing (in terms of politics) churches with a mainstream theology that disciplines for things like premarital sex that I know of. How did the politics play out in your experience of discipline? Was there any difference?

Anonymous said...

The CONTROLLING of other people's sex lives should be another clue (for those who are still able to think for themselves) that Xenos is a cult. All cults meddle in the personal lives of their recruits. If you control a person's sex life, you control the person. It's not about Jesus, it's not about religion or principles, it's about CONTROL. And MANIPULATION.

You cannot grow when you allow other people to make your decisions.

Bill K said...

CD-Host, could you rephrase your question? I don't understand.

As a rule I think Xenos is more removed from politics than many churches of which I am aware.

Night9Hawk said...

I really don't see any problem with the leaders in Xenos controlling the sex life of it's members, assuming you're talking about premarital and extra-marital sexual activity. They should be teaching on the subject and holding members to the standard that both practices are against the teachings of Scripture. Where I draw a line is when they stick their noses into who's dating whom, which I saw a lot of while I was a member.

dardrops said...

Anonymous said: If you control a person's sex life, you control the person.

Wow, that's sad. I would think that controlling what a person thinks is how you control a person. It's a sad world when one's sex life is what controls them. Very, very sad.

And hey, maybe that's why believing Christians are so concerned about premarital and extramarital sex. They realize that sex CAN be used as a weapon to harm and use someone. They realize that in our age sex is equated with love. They realize that the vast majority of those involved in pre- and extramarital sex incur more damage than those who keep sex within the bounds of a committed, married relationship. So when they see it going on, they step in to try and help that person realize that this behavior will only harm them - sometimes for the rest of their lives.

This is beside the fact that the Bible makes it clear those things are wrong BECAUSE they only bring pain and damage.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NASB)
18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Could it be that sexual sin is addressed by Christians for this reason and NOT because they are trying to control?

Of course, if you don't believe the Bible, this wouldn't be a very persuasive argument. You could, however, look at secular studies that demonstrate how these behaviors DO harm.

dardrops said...

Night9Hawk said: I really don't see any problem with the leaders in Xenos controlling the sex life of it's members

Um, really??? Xenos leaders control the sex life of its members??? That's quite a feat. Speak into someone's life that is involved in sexual sin, yes, but control it? No.

If the person is a Christian, involved in sexual sin, is perfectly aware it is morally wrong, and continue this behavior despite other believers speaking into their life trying to lead them to repentance, they are perfectly free to indulge in their sin - just not continue doing so in the Body of Christ.

Night9Hawk said...

To DarDrops:

The meaning of what I was saying was quite clear. If the church-Xenos is this case says that premarital and extramarital sex is a sin then I would expect the Xenos to hold it's members to that standard. Otherwise they look foolish and undermine their witness. The Christian church these days is held up to a lot of ridicule because they espouse values that the majority of them don't try to uphold.

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