A set of papers which came to our notice recently has changed the way we view the evangelical church. But perhaps that is too broad. It is our view of the movers and shakers of the evangelical church which has been changed. Then again if the ‘pillars’ of the church, those men and few women who have shaped congregations denominations and even generations of believers, suddenly lose their lustre and you see them not as godly mature teachers but secretive lying conspirators then it will in fact affect your understanding of the whole church. It is that grave.
We were reading on the website seekgod.ca a copy of the General Council Minutes of the Fort Lauderdale Elders, the men who began the Shepherding movement of the 70s and 80s and who had such a huge influence on the evangelical and charismatic church during that era. Literally dozens of denominations and congregations were involved in this movement which basically became a cult-like influence on people’s lives. These men, each of whom had their own very influential international ministries via books, tapes and conferences, became a massive force in American evangelical history not to mention in Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world.
*The seekgod.ca website appears to be down at the moment, I don’t know if this is temporary or not. However, for further reading and evidence you can go to this page which provides excerpts from the book “Spiritual Warfare: Politics of the Religious Right” by Sara Diamond. Diamond covers this issue in a section of the book on pages 122-123.
The Shepherding movement was at its heart a means by which a tyrannical pyramid shaped hierarchy was set in place to control and dominate the lives of those who submitted to its power. The five principal men involved were Don Basham, Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson and Ern Baxter. These men came from varying denominational backgrounds from Assemblies of God to Southern Baptist and were known as the ‘Fort Lauderdale Five’ or the ‘fab five’. You need only to go online to research the heresies and devastation that the shepherding movement produced. The very worst of this scenario is that these men never really repented of their heresies and most of them are now dead. The one man who actually publicly repented via a letter of repentance and refutation of these heresies, Bob Mumford, didn’t actually make a full acknowledgement that the movement and the errors they taught and practiced were not orthodox and were not healthy. If you read the letter in its entirety, (at this site) you will see that he manages to skirt round issues and rather than make specific and direct statements that he was wrong and he recognizes the extent of the damage he and the other men did to the body of Christ, he simply explains why he did what he did.
His opening statement that “I feel as though I have offended the Lord Himself, resulting in His resistance and continued conviction” is a classic fluffy non-statement. He only feels as though he offended God, he doesn’t acknowledge his actions as sin or the result of fleshly desires for power over others. Later in the statement he says “Accountability, personal training under the guidance of another, and effective pastoral care are needed biblical concepts”. Yet he doesn’t produce a bible verse to this effect. The whole point of the Shepherding movement, that we all need to be ‘accountable’ to another human being and that this accountability should include every little detail of life up to and including who you marry and where you live, is antithetical to the freedom, liberty from restriction, grace and power that is found in Christ himself. Yet these men literally controlled whole denominations and the pyramidal structure of ‘accountability’ was such that they were given pope-like adoration by many christians. And I don’t use the term ‘pope’ loosely.
Individually, men like Derek Prince who removed himself from the ‘Fab Five’ in 1983, still had a huge influence on the evangelical church. Even today, his dvd’s books and youtube videos are watched by tens of thousands and many consider his teaching to be biblical and authoritative. We ourselves were influenced by Prince’s teachings, many of which we hasten to add were not heretical in the slightest. This is often the way with teachers and pastors who end up damaging people’s lives. A large percentage of their preaching is biblical and orthodox. It is the percentage that isn’t which ends up damaging the body of Christ and in the end it is what they are known for rather than the good that they have done. Unfortunately, Derek Prince and his cohorts were not just guilty of false theology and praxis. They were guilty of much more that they did not ever publicly acknowledge.
Prince made a statement after Mumford read out his statement of confession regarding the Shepherding movement. He said “I never was involved in asking people to submit to me…I tend to let people go their own way…I don’t believe it was ever God’s intent to start a movement. All of us have to share the responsibility, however, of failing God and failing the body of Christ’. I think the phrase you were looking for Mr. Prince was ‘I sinned against God and the body of Christ’. Failure in scripture is not an option. Recognition of one’s sin is the means by which we are released from the wages of sin, that being spiritual death.
Neither Mumford nor Prince really made it clear in their statements at the annual pastor’s conference at The Church on The Way in November 1989 that they recognised the far reaching effects of their control and domination of the evangelical church. They could have been a great force for good on that occasion. “There were 1700 pastors and spouses in attendance. They represented 700 churches and 34 denominations in 41 states and 17 nations”. *It didn’t get very much bigger than that in that era. Yet they failed not only to fully understand the impact they had but to fully repent and acknowledge their errors and sin and make restitution to the millions of people whose lives they changed.
While all of this is bad enough, reading through the minutes of the General Council meeting of these men sheds a completely different light on their actions, intentions and agenda. For they did indeed have an agenda no less than setting up a world-wide movement which would include the Catholic church and every other denomination that existed at the time. They were well on their way to it if the minutes of these meetings in the mid-seventies prove. These are actual articles, they are not fiction and they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ‘fab five’ were intending no less than a world take-over of the evangelical church with their teachings. It is important then for all Christians, especially Christians who have been damaged and had their families destroyed by men like this to recognise that God is ever in control and these men did not get their way. We are not suggesting however, that the agenda of a one world religion has gone away, far from it. It will happen and be part of the final world government, there is far too much evidence of this both biblically and empirically for this to have been a one-hit wonder.
We will give you some quotes from these minutes which were taken from September 1974 to August 1977.
An interesting excerpt from the first set of minutes suggests that these men were only interested in working among themselves in terms of who they took orders from. There were no, at this point, outside authorities or groups who had input into their plans.
Bob Mumford was to be the presiding elder/head of the elders group, Derek Prince was to chair the meetings. The two men who basically admitted nothing about their own sins against God and the body of Christ were the ones with the most influence it appears. Prince stated in the pastor’s conference in 1989 that “I never was involved in asking people to submit to me” is a lie. He was accountable for a small group of men initially in this group which met regularly to table their intentions and plans for the future of evangelical Christianity. He was not only shepherding other men in that group, he was shepherding other larger groups as the minutes will prove.
Here is a very revealing statement:
“We will not make a public announcement about our commitment together. We can be open about the commitment between Don, Ern, John, Derek and Charles now. Steve and Ralph have to get the approval of their community coordinators and inform the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service Committee. We will discuss at our next meeting how to communicate about the full council”.
There are many statements like this throughout these sets of minutes which not only provide proof of their involvement with the Catholic Church but of their concerns about how their actions will be received by the larger protestant church. One statement urges Derek Prince to be cautious about how he presents himself to the leftist liberal churches and to be sure not to appear to be too conservative to them.
You can read through these sets of minutes yourself and come to your own conclusions. What this information has done for us is to make a huge impact on our understanding of what was going on among men who individually had a great deal of credibility and integrity as leaders and teachers in the body of Christ. They not only were involved in a conspiracy of the very worst kind, ie controlling not just congregations within their own influence, but planning to control congregations on whole continents and geo/political areas. The minutes prove that the Cardinal Suenens, a highly influential Catholic leader called “a major architect of 20th Century Roman Catholicism” in his New York Times obituary (see previous link) appeared to be wanting more control over what these men did than what they were comfortable with, but these minutes only cover a couple of years and are a snapshot of the inner workings of the sanctum of the ‘fab five’.
I find it interesting that the more we research about church history and the inter-connection of denominational leaders and the influence of various teachers throughout the centuries that a much larger picture becomes clear. It almost appears that nobody with a large international ministry can be trusted because as soon as they become leaders with influence and power, they become a part of a much larger global agenda which has been continuing through the centuries since the church of Jesus Christ was formed over 2000 years ago. These agendas are almost always secret and therefore conspiratorial. Paul was aware of wolves in amongst the flocks we was overseeing in the New Testament and so concerned was he that he prayed and urged others to pray ceaselessly. (Acts 20:29) His fight is now done and we are left to continue to pray unceasingly for the faith of the remnant of believers in this day and age who will need every strength and help to continue on in the face of worldly opposition and persecution and the efforts of the enemy Satan to infiltrate the body of Christ and steal our spiritual lives and destroy our walk with Jesus.
We urge you to read these minutes and familiarise yourself with what these men were really about. If you have ever been part of a church which has instituted Shepherding teaching, or any other kind of aberrant teaching which leads to overt control and micro-management of the lives of congregation members, you will be fascinated at how these teachings were actually part of a much larger agenda. In fact, the whole of the seekgod.ca website is filled with proof that this agenda has played out in all kinds of church and secular environments throughout history.
I have to say that these minutes have changed forever the way I see the religious world. Billy Graham is another stalwart who has been proven to have an ecumenical, one-world religion agenda. Not only do these men wish to see a joining of that which cannot possibly be joined, the world and the church, false teaching and biblical teaching, they are interested only in individual Christians having somebody they can be ‘accountable to’ so that they can be controlled.
With the advent of electronic communication and databases such as google and facebook, the governments of the world are keeping a watch on our activities and ensuring that no opposition will go unnoticed. Even now, Youtube and Facebook will block and in some cases remove any upload which contains viewpoints opposed to theirs. It is no longer a free society, we are not able to publish independently of these media giants. In the seventies and eighties, the Fab Five were able to hold their secret meetings with the Vatican and other powerful religious bodies and foment their plans. Those plans may or may not have come to pass at that time. The Shepherding movement may not be lead by the Fab Five any more, but vestiges of the movement are still in operation and still forcing Christians to submit to their leaders in every possible way. The damage is still being done in one form or another.
Of course, the Shepherding movement was only one way in which Christians were being controlled. The Brisbane Christian Fellowship which we were a part of was also affected by the teachings which influenced the Shepherding movement, specifically the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God teachings. Not only were we expected to ‘confess our sins’ to the various elders of this church, but unbeknownst to us, our confessions were being tabulated and filed for future manipulation. Our words were taken down and used as evidence against us if we looked like we were going to be a bit of a handful at a later date. When we left, accusations and snide comments were thrown at us proving that the elders we had trusted had been privy to every conversation we had ever had with any of them and then they twisted those words, made us look like evil villains whose every action proved us untrustworthy. The elders who controlled us were the ones who were untrustworthy. They used the classic bait and switch. They showed themselves to be genial, caring compassionate pastors and shepherds and then when we gave them our wholehearted trust, they broke that trust and used our vulnerability to control us.
There really are no words to describe the betrayal of men like this. Not only did the Fab Five betray the body of Christ with their carnal misuse of their positions of trust and authority, but they used their positions to secretively plan to control churches on other continents via the Charismatic and Pentecostal church groups in both Protestant and Catholic denominations. The catholic church was complicit in this and here is the rub. Who controlled who? Whose agenda was it in the end? We will never really know completely, but then we don’t need to.
For us, the event horizon, the point at which the whole picture becomes clear and we can see how everything links and where it is all going, was reading these minutes and recognising that trusting in any man wholeheartedly, even in the Christian church is dangerous. Yet churches everywhere, especially charsimatic churches, expect Christians to commit themselves to their leader’s vision, or their leader’s approval of their decisions or even their leader’s involvement in family and personal issues which have nothing whatsoever to do with them. Church covenants are a world-wide phenomenon which are growing more and more intrusive. Yet Christians continue to sign these ridiculous documents. We are NOT accountable to men, we are accountable to God through His Holy Spirit. We are free in Jesus Christ and have no obligation to the flesh, as Paul himself states in Romans 8; not our own flesh nor anybody else’s. When Paul wrote to submit to elders because they are responsible for our welfare, it was not a blank cheque for leaders to control and manipulate other people’s lives. Paul was making a statement about the responsibility leaders had to God, a much greater responsibility than anybody else had. They were not only looking after their own lives, they were caring for other people’s. This caring has NEVER involved expecting that people come to them as high priests to confess sins or look for acceptance or take the place of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Yet the control goes on.
As yet, we are not clear what this event horizon changes in our lives. It is a huge eye-opener, and all but completes the picture we have been piecing together since our exit from the cult. While we still accept the Bible as the word of God, we still see God’s truth as never failing or passing away, we recognise that nobody in public ministry is immune from the corruption of power. We still believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord and as the son of God and God himself. We still believe that the body of Christ belongs to Him and that He is the author and perfecter of our faith, not men. We everywhere see the failings of men in churches, and especially the failings of church leaders. We all sin, but some sins are worse than others, and the sins of leaders who use their positions to control others are not ignored by God. He is very very concerned about those who use their leadership to profit off the very sheep they are supposed to be protecting.