Comparing the One True Churches

Leaving a "one true church" is traumatic, and the healing process is slow. No matter which "one true" church a person leaves,  the expelled usually struggles with residual fear and legalism, shock, depression, and the shunning by family members. It is very helpful to learn that all  "one true" churches operate virtually the same to gain and keep extreme control over the behavior, thoughts, and emotions of their members.  Many of these groups listed were started by a single man who believed, often through dreams and visions, that he had been called to reform Christ's Church. All of the claims listed below are contrary to authentic Christianity.  NOTE: There are differing ideas on what constitutes a cult, but it is generally recognized that a group can be considered aberrant or cultic for (1) claiming to be the only true church,  (2) imposing the group's particular legalism as requirement for salvation, and (3) using intense indoctrination and control tactics (4) distorting major Christian doctrine. The Catholic church is  listed here because of  its one true church claim, but it does not fall into all of the other categories.

Introducing the Founders of the "One True" Churches

1. "One True" Churches Claim to be the Only One

2. "One True" Churches Claim to be the Restoration of Christ's "Failed" Church

3. "One True" Churches Claim to Have the Only Truth and Practice

4. "One True" Churches Claim to be the True Church Because of Their Unity

5. "One True" Churches Teach that either Salvation or Complete Christian Life is Impossible Outside Their Group

6. "One True" Churches Claim All Defectors Have a Bad Heart and Shunning Helps them Repent

7. "One True" Churches Claim Anyone Leaving Their Group is Lost

8. "One True" Churches Claim the Bible Must be Interpreted by Their Group

9. "One True" Churches Impose Commandments of Men and Extreme Legalism

10. "One True" Churches Encourage Submission, Not Questions

11. "One True" Churches Lull Members to Trusting Sleep



1. "One True" Churches Claim to be the Only One


 “This church is the only true and living church on the face of the whole earth.” Mormonism                              (D and C 1:30)

 “We acknowledge as the visible organization of Jehovah on earth the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society" Jehovah’s Witness (Watchtower, April 15, 1939 p. 125)

“There is one church! There is one God. There is one kingdom of God and this is it!" International Church of Christ  (The Great Commission, audio tape, Weger/Rock, Hodge/Hamann/Fulcher/Fields)

 "Since we keep all ten Commandments and have Ellen White as our prophet, we Seventh-day Adventists are The Remnant Church!" Seventh Day Adventists 

 “The True Jesus Church is the true church restored by God through the Holy Spirit of the latter rain. She is the revival of the apostolic church in the end times.” True Jesus Church  On 5. on the web

 “The “household” is God's Family or true church. It's the family that God rules. This is God's inner circle--His very elect...we are God's only true representative on this earth.” The Philadelphia Church of God   (The Philadelphia Trumpet, p.1 May 1995)

“LCOG is the true Church of God which teaches and practices Apostolic Christianity!" Living Church of God 

  "This is the only Way that was started by Christ." Cooneyites      (Post Falls, ID Conference 1957 REF #185

"We are not following some way founded in the early 1900's, but it goes clear back to Christ." Cooneyites  Tharold Sylvester 11/16/83

"Ours is the Church Christ founded." Iglesia ni Cristo


 “God has made no covenant with any other church”  Church of God in Christ, Mennonite              John Holdeman, A History of the Church, page 20

 “All sects organized alongside of His Church  have not been endowed with heavenly wisdom; otherwise they would not have been established to the displeasure of God and His Church.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite John Holdeman, Founder, Mittor of Truth page 30

 "If 10,000 persons should receive remission of sin and join in fellowship with each other by organizing themselves into a body without baptism, we could not acknowledge them as the church of God...before we could acknowledge them, they must be willing to unity with the truly organized Church of God baptism.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  John Holdeman, Founder, Mirror of Truth page 183

"We believe in one united Church of God, a true, organized, visible Church of God, which constitutes the true believers” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  Conference Reports 1896-1993 published by Gospel Publishers article 9

" Can we appreciate to be in a Church where it is a lone Church? We have many different denominations, we have many different so-called churches, but there was a lone Church, there, in the desert. Today, there is a lone Church, right here in Lone Tree Township [The original congregation in Kansas]….So that when we hear about other denominations, other so called churches, we think about Lone Tree.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite         Paul Swartly before a crowd of 2500-3000 at the centennial program recorded in Centennial of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite 1959 published by Gospel Publishers page 40-41

" There will be an unbroken lineage, or succession, of true doctrine unto the end of time. Therefore, there will never be a need for the church to be reestablished on a ground or foundation apart from that succession which reaches back to Christ” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite     Bible Doctrines and Practices published by Gospel Publishers page 181

 “The Church is careful to not be allied with other churches…The Church will not tolerate any effort of equating the churches. This would be considered heresy.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite    Reuben Koehn , a leading minister, Sixty-Five Years a Holdeman   page 26,27

“Wherever you find a Christian, that’s the church, we are told. That’s not John Holdeman’s teaching, it’s not the teaching of the Christian.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  Minister Frank H. Wenger in a speech in front of about 3000 members. Centennial of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite 1959


“Boasting to be the true church is akin to boasting of an endowment or inheritance of which we had no influence of power to bring about.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite    Article in The Messenger of Truth published by Gospel Publishers Sept 11, 2002



 2. "One True" Churches Claim to be the Restoration of Christ's Failed Church


"All of the doctrines of God were restored by Mr. Armstrong!" Philadelphia Church Of God

 “Thus the Church of Christ which was apostatized after the first century was restored to its pristine  Bro. Felix Y. Manalo Iglesia Ni Cristo:

 "William Irvine started this way; it was a divine revelation from God. He was raised up to revive the truth just like the Word of God was dormant for 400 years..." Cooneyites: (Sharon Williamson,  worker, stated in Rockport, Illinois gospel meeting, February 1994).

"The True Church will be a restored Church, (and was restored by Heavenly messengers in 1829!)" Mormon

“Together we resolved - on June 1, 1979 - to commit our lives to restoring the church that Jesus established in the New Testament." International Church of Christ :

“why would Yahweh need to establish another organization in order to get his way--the True Way of Salvation--taught? ...It should be very obvious why Yahweh had to establish His House in these Last Days" House of Yahweh:

"The Gospel of the Kingdom ceased to be proclaimed shortly after the death of the apostles. It was not preached again until after 1918.”Jehovah’s Witnesses (WT, 12/1/1928, pp. 363-64)

“The True Jesus Church is the true church restored by God ”True Jesus Church On 5. on the web

“We’re the last hope the world has.”  International Church of Christ  ( Gordon Ferguson, Radical Men, Radical Times Hosea Radical Love of God, Manila World Leadership Conf., Aug. 1994 )

 "We are earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints and trying to separate it from the traditions of men, because there is not a doctrine in the word of God that has not been corrupted by the professing church." Cooneyites:

"If the teachings held by its members had remained exactly as they were given by the first teachers, there is at least a chance that it would have continued to be one "sect" Berean Christadelphians



“That’s what John Holdeman did; he removed the debris of false doctrine and neglect of doctrines, and laid a new foundation, upon which we believed we could build and be safe for eternity.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite   Frank Wenger before a crowd of 2500-3000 at the centennial program recorded in Centennial of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite 1959 published by Gospel Publishers page 17

“the faith, as reestablished by Bro. John Holdeman and other church fathers” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite    MOT Vol. 101, No. 7 p. 2























 “Had the spirit of the early church after Pentecost prevailed, there would be only one church today” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  Bible Doctrines and Practice pg 179




3. "One True" Churches Claim to Have the Only Truth and Practice


“...that truth is in only one church today, God's church. Only God's Philadelphia Church has retained God's Law in this end time” The Philadelpia Church of God (The Philadelphia Trumpet , p.5 March 1994).

"Only Jehovah's people... have an organization that completely abides by what God's Word has to say on sexual immorality, abortions, drunkenness, stealing, idolatry, racial prejudice, and other worldly pursuits and practices. And they alone are the ones obeying the command to preach the good news of Jehovah's Kingdom." Jehovah’s Witness:

"There is nobody else in this country that That has the true gospel -- that is, trying to make disciples of Jesus. There is nobody else in this entire world. This is the movement of God! There is no place to go.” International Church of Christ   (Nick Young. Tulsa Reconstruction meeting, August, 1992, audio one, side two)

“Some will think the Christadelphians presumptuous in thinking they have "the truth." Berean Christadelphians:

"Only this church  gives meat in due season. Only this church is doing God's work!” The Philadelphia Church of God

“The House of Yahweh is the ONLY place where Yahweh's Complete Truth is taught." House of Yahweh:

”“All the doctrines of the Church of Christ are in complete accord with Biblical precepts. This Church therefore, passes the first test of the true religion given by the Prophet Isaiah: The teachings. Iglesia ni Cristo:

"In my books, the truth is stated, barricaded by a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ The Holy Spirit traced these truths upon my heart and mind as indelibly as the law was traced by the finger of God upon the tables of stone." Seventh-Day Adventism

"We preach and uphold the complete gospel of salvation in accordance with the Scriptures and have signs and miracles from above to testify to the truth." Iglesia ni Cristo



 “Outside the true organized Church of God [CGCM] the whole truth has never been found and neither will ever be found outside of it. God will not recognize any other church than His own organized Church; and therefore He will not reveal the whole truth to any other church or to any man who is not willing to be one with God through espousal with Him…” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite                        John Holdeman, Mirror of Truth, page 84.

 “This written lineage of the Church of the Living God is the place, pillar, or ground where God has always revealed the whole truth; it is contained alone as a whole in this Church [The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite], and He will never do it elsewhere.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite John Holdeman, A History of the Church of God page 189.

“Boasting to be the true church is akin to boasting of an endowment or inheritance of which we had no influence of power to bring about.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite   MOT  Sept 11, 2002


"She [CGCM ] is the greatest and purest fortification of truth and holiness in the world." Church of God in Christ, Mennonite



4. "One True" Churches Claim to be the True Church Because of Their "Unity"


"Just taking a look at the hundreds of Christian churches in existence today, it doesn't take much to notice all the disputes among beliefs, practices, doctrines, and authority that divide each denomination. It would be impossible to join all these churches, even the Protestant sects, into one church. Therefore, all of them do not make "one body without schisms". There can only be one, and I testify that the one is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Mormons

 "Today different churches proclaim different or even conflicting beliefs about salvation. They cannot be of the same body...How can they be of the same body with the True Church?” True Jesus Church  TFC Website

"The Church of Christ observes unity even in electing public officials…. in obedience to God's commandment. This unity is never betrayed by a true member of the church of Christ, even if some would be displeased." Iglesia ni Cristo:

“People who do not understand spiritual unity attempt to explain it away by calling us cultic and brainwashed. Yet, this unity remains.” International Church of Christ:

"The unity, we believe subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose.” Catholic Church

“Some people say there are other fellowships that can be alright. No, there can't be, because there is only one body that Jesus had." Cooneyites:

"Someone has said - but doesn't everyone in this way look alike; isn't that conformity? Well, God is our father. If you see 5 sons in a family and they all look like their father, that's not conformity - it's the family characteristics. Cooneyites



 “We find no justification for the proliferation of denominations, all claiming to be part of the church of God, when at the same time they subscribe to many different irreconcilable interpretations of God’s Word.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  MOT Vol. 101, No. 21


“There is a dimension of this doctrine of a united, undivided church that, to a large extent, seems to escape the majority of professing Christians.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite   MOT Vol. 101, No. 21

“Among Anabaptist writers, like Claes Ganlof, Menno Simons, Deitrich Philips, and later, John Holdeman, there is a great deal said about unity among believers and about a united, undivided church of God.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite    MOT Vol. 101, No. 21



5. "One True" Churches Teach that either Salvation or Complete Christian Life is Impossible Outside Their Group


"There is no salvation outside the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” Mormonism

"Outside of the organizational structure of the PCG there is no salvation." Philadelphia Church of God

"People can come to Christ only through us" Cooneyites:

"The only way to follow the  Lord absolutely is to go the way of the local church.” Witness Lee Local Church  Witness Lee, The Practical Expression...p.94)

"I saw that God has honest children among the nominal Adventists and the fallen churches, and before the plagues shall be poured out, minister and people and people will be called out from these churches and will gladly receive the truth....But the light will shine, and all who are honest will leave the fallen churches, and take their stand with the remnant” 7th day Adventists (Early Writings, p. 261 )

"When we were in the denominations, we were blind. I do not believe that any dear Christians who have really received sight from the Lord could still remain in the denominations.... But when he receives his sight, he will swiftly leave the fold for the pasture, for the sunshine, for the fresh air.” The local Church (Witness Lee) (Witness Lee, Christ Versus Religion LSM, 197,1 p.109-110)

“Outside the true Christian congregation what alternative organization is there? Only Satan’s organization…”Jehovah’s Witnesses ”(Watchtower 3/1/1979 p.24)

"Thus, outside the Church of Christ no one can be considered a true believer.'' Iglesia ni Cristo    (PASUGO, September/October 1981, p.9)

"one can receive eternal life only through the true church.” True Jesus Church On 5. on the web

"Only the golden lampstands, the local churches, are the testimony of Jesus....if you are not in the local churches you are not the testimony of Jesus." Witness Lee Local Church Witness Lee, The Stream magazine Nov. 1976, p.7)

“For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church ALONE, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.” Catholicism The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism

“We will lose out if we don't go to the sanctuary. God's Way is in the sanctuary. (place of prayer) Cooneyites:

"You can't have God without the fellowship and the ministry." Cooneyites:



 “There is no salvation where anyone will not unite with the Church of God against better knowledge.”  Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  A History of the Church of God, page 188.

 “It would seem that one cannot refuse the church and remain in the kingdom indefinitely.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite    Bible Doctrines and Practice, page 169


“If they will not obey the call when they hear and understand it, they will find that Christ will slay them with the sword of His mouth: therefore, we cannot comfort anyone to stay in such churches.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite      A History of the Church of God, page188



6. "One True" Churches Claim All Defectors Have a "Bad Heart" and Shunning Helps them Repent


"If someone is disfellowshiped, he must at the time have had a truly bad heart and/or been determined to pursue a God-dishonoring course. Peter said that the condition of such a person is worse than before he became a Christian; he is like 'a sow that was bathed but has gone back to rolling in the mire.' " Jehovah’s Witness

"We have people that, you know, all of a sudden they say, 'You know, I really, you know, I just question your church. I think there are other churches that are OK....' It has nothing to do with the church,...They have gone back to their worldly ways." International Church of Christ

"I feel that it is just a personal problem that they (ex-members) have.” The Potter’s House

"We noted Lynette's comment about her choice 'to cut herself off completely from all association' with her disfellowshipped sister Margaret. She and her Christian relatives 'believed that Jehovah's way is best.' And it is! Lynette's sister later told her: 'If you had viewed the disfellowshipping lightly, I know that I would not have taken steps toward reinstatement as soon as I did. Being totally cut off from loved ones and from close contact with the congregation created a strong desire to repent. I realized just how wrong my course was and how serious it was to turn my back on Jehovah.'" Jehovah's Witness  WT Sept. 15, 1981




"Sometimes those under discipline reject the church’s proving of their spiritual need. They may claim fellowship with the Lord. This only substantiates their fall from spiritual discernment.”  Church of God in Christ, Mennonite:      Bible Doctrines and Practice, page 190.


"Let us not kick against the pricks but recognize that if I say that I can't see anything wrong with it [something against church decisions], the problem is in my vision, not in the light of the whole church."  Church of God in Christ, Mennonite   MOT Vol. 101, No. 6, p. 6




7.  "One True" Churches Claim Anyone Leaving Their Group is Lost


"If you leave the church (the Local Church), you miss the mark of the Lord's testimony. You must be in the testimony of Jesus. Only the golden lampstands, the local churches, are the testimony of Jesus.” Witness Lee Local Church   ( Witness Lee, The Stream magazine Nov. 1976, p.7)

 “All who desire to draw away from God's remnant people  in order to follow their own corrupt hearts would throw themselves willingly into Satan's hands.” Seventh-Day Adventists:

“If we 'separate' from the One Body of Messiah: The House of Yahweh, then we succumb to Satan, then at that very moment we become worshipers of Satan...of if one LEAVES The Body - The only Prophesied, Established Work that Yahweh Himself has chosen, then that one does NOT partake, or is NO LONGER a partaker, with the rest of The body of Messiah” House of Yahweh

“if you leave the church, God is not going to bless you and you're going to be a sheep out of the flock... and the wolves are going to come out and get you.” 'The Potter’s House  Schoner Arizona Daily Sun/October 2, 1988

“Those who leave The Way are accounted as "apostates," for whom there is absolutely no hope! They cannot be renewed to repentance, and can only await "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries" Cooneyites

“your salvation is hanging in the balance. .... When you walk away from the movement of God, there is no where to walk. Walking out of the light into the darkness." International Church of Christ: (Nick Young. Tulsa Reconstruction meeting, August, 1992, audio one, side two)



 “it [is] imperative for any apostate wanting to find salvation again to reconcile with both God and the church.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite

 “Our church has been described as a huge ship sailing on the seas….But if you get on this ship, you cannot get off if you want to be saved."  Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  MOT Vol. 101, No. 7

“Excommunication is the church’s proving and declaration of the individual’s severed spiritual relationship with God.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  Bible Doctrines and Practice, page 189.


“Sometimes those under discipline reject the church’s proving of their spiritual need. They may claim fellowship with the Lord. This only substantiates their fall from spiritual discernment.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite      Bible Doctrines and Practice, page 190.





8. "One True" Churches Claim the Bible Must be Interpreted by Their Group


 "He has then established a Supreme Court, a Supreme Judge in the Church of the Living God. " Catholic Father Damen, author of One True Church

“Infallible guidance in interpreting the Bible comes from the church. " Catholic

“The world is full of Bibles…why then do the people not know which was to go? Because, they do not also have the teaching or law of the mother, which is light.” Jehovah’s Witness   (WT 5/1/1957, p.274)

“Those sent by God—His inspired messengers—are the ones exclusively given the understanding of His words. They speak the words of God.” Iglesia Ni Cristo:

 “As the only church that claims to have modern prophets who carry the same authority as Biblical prophets, it is the only church that can even claim that a particular ambiguous verse means this or that.” Mormon

 "No, it is beyond man's power and intelligence to study and understand the truth, which is God's word by himself, without the guidance of God's messenger." Iglesia ni Cristo (PASUGO, November 1973, p. 19

“God’s servants are the understanding Authority of the word of God." Cooneyites:  [Olympia Washington Convention, August 26, 1979]

. "In my books, the truth is stated, barricaded by a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ The Holy Spirit traced these truths upon my heart and mind as indelibly as the law was traced by the finger of God upon the tables of stone." Seventh-Day Adventists Ellen G. White



 "We believe that the Church of God is the supreme judge which God has here on earth for gospel matters." Church of God in Christ, Mennonite                          Confession of Faith and Ministers Manual, pg 38

 “The keys given to the church include the authority to interpret the Scripture” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite

"One’s personal interpretation of scriptures should always be proven with the understanding of the Scriptures which the united body of Christ has." Church of God in Christ, Mennonite



9. "One True" Churches Impose Commandments of Men and Extreme Legalism


"The Church is the ground and the pillar of the truth, and the moment you take away the authority of the Church of God you induce all kinds of errors and blasphemous doctrines.  Do we not see it?" Catholic Father Damen

"Sometimes we say that in God's Kingdom there are no rules, no regulations, no forms or traditions, but if we have a proper understanding of God's Kingdom, we will find to our advantage and benefit, that God hasn't left us without some guiding influences to govern and to guide our lives. If this were not true, where would we be? Everyone would go by his own thinking. God gave us this new nature first of all, then an understanding that made us want to be under the new rule. The point is, are we willing to walk according to this rule?" Cooneyites    [Olympia WA Conv 1957] REF #174



"This conference [where all the rules are made and recorded into a book called Conference Decisions] will give them a hands-on feeling for that operation of the church that has always been considered the final authority on faith and practice." Church of God in Christ, Mennonite     MOT Vol. 101, No. 7

"The matters considered in conference pertain to our prospects of an eternal home in heaven." Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  MOT Vol. 101, No. 7

"Without this Heavenly counsel, some may begin to entertain false notions and lose the way." Church of God in Christ, Mennonite MOT Vol. 101, No. 7

“Conference decisions are mandatory” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  General Conference 1974 #6


10. "One True" Churches Encourage Submission, Not Questions


 "If we have love for Jehovah and for the organization of his people we shall not be suspicious, but shall, as the Bible says, 'believe all things,' all the things that The Watchtower brings out, inasmuch as it has been faithful in giving us a knowledge of God's purposes and guiding us in the way of peace, safety and truth" Jehovah’s Witness

"How is such independent thinking manifested? A common way is by questioning the counsel that is provided by God's visible organization.” Jehovah’s Witness

“If you question the group, you are persecuting Jesus." The Potter’s House:

"We all have been diligently taught ...not to question God’s true ministers or authority.” Worldwide Church of God    An Open Letter to Our Acquaintances in Worldwide Church of God

“There must be no doubt in your mind that this is God's kingdom" International Church of Christ    Faith and Convictions, audio tape

 "We can always judge the state of a person's salvation by his attitude towards the Workers." Cooneyites  1985 REF #385

To lose confidence in the ministry would be losing confidence in all we believe…” Cooneyites

"Each member ... should submit himself to the Administration of the Church in order to be saved." Iglesia ni Cristo  (PASUGO, January 1976, p. 9)

"For opposing the Administration of the Church is tantamount to opposing not only Christ but also God." Iglesia ni Cristo:  (PASUGO, January 1976, p. 190

"So we should therefore demonstrate complete submission, obedience and loyalty to the Administration..."  Iglesia ni Cristo  (PASUGO, January 1976, p.1)

"To the extent I trust my discipler... I am in reality trusting God." International Church of Christ Boston Bulletin, 22 October 1989

"The Catholic has divine faith, and why? Because the Catholic says: 'I believe in such and such a thing.' Why? 'Because the Church teaches me so.' And why do you believe the Church? 'Because God has commanded me to believe the teaching of the Church, and God has threatened me with damnation if I do not believe the Church....So then, when I believe what the Church teaches I believe what God teaches." Catholic FAther Damen

"Until people are willing to ...become as a little child, they never will understand the Truth as taught by Jesus in word and deed. " Cooneyites: 1/17/71 REF #370

“I hope you have made an inward surrender to the Lord so that you can accept the teachings ...from His servants.” Cooneyites

"Now, what will you do if you are confronted with apostate teaching - subtle reasonings - claiming that what you believe as one of Jehovah's Witnesses is not the truth? For example, what will you do if you receive a letter or some literature, open it and see right away that it is from an apostate? Will curiosity cause you to read it, just to see what he has to say? You may even reason: "It won't affect me; I'm too strong in the truth. And, besides, if we have the truth, we have nothing to fear. The truth will stand the test." In thinking this way, some have fed their minds upon apostate reasoning and have fallen prey to serious questioning and doubt."... “Do you wisely destroy apostate material?"
Jehovah’s Witness: Watchtower March 15th 1986


“When we understand and agree with the direction of those taking the lead, obedience may come readily. But what if we do not understand the reason behind a particular decision? Here is where we may need to be submissive, or yielding. Why? For one thing, we need to trust that these spiritually qualified men have our best interests at heart. After all, they well know that they must render an account to Jehovah for the sheep committed to their care. In addition, we do well to remember that we may not know all the confidential facts that led them to an informed decision.” Jehovah’s Witness   Watchtower March 15th 1986




 "Having been brought up 'in the faith,'… many of us accepted without question the doctrines as they had been taught… Some are fortunate in that they have never had occasion to question the one united church of God."  Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  MOT vol. 101, No. 21

“We can see the effectiveness of a healthy, functional church where its members do not question her authority” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  MOT vol. 101, No. 21

"Like Pilate, many are asking, 'What is truth?' This sly, questioning spirit is confronting the church today, ..." Church of God in Christ, Mennonite  MOT Vol 101, No. 4, p. 3




11. "One True" Churches Lull Members to Trusting Sleep

"You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray.” Mormon     Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 9, p. 289, 1862




“Here the pulse of God—of the Truth—can be taken. Like a baby lying with its ear on mother’s bosom and hearing her heartbeat, we are comforted when we hear God’s heartbeat in the church.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite   MOT vol. 101, no 15






Quotes From Ex-Members

"One True" churches believe defectors are lost, and they try to convince them the depression they feel is the Holy Spirit warning them to come back. Defectors, brainwashed to believe this, suffer initial fear and doubt when they experience the normal emotional repercussions of cult withdrawal. These quotes demonstrate that all  who leave controlling groups or cults suffer damage--and sadly, many leave God in despair, and many fall into another cult or false doctrine. But with our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, there can  be  eventual healing and inexpressible happiness in His liberty.


[Cooneyites]  "I think the first thing we must realize when we look back is the state we were in when we started getting this information.   Many of us also believed totally what we'd been told ALL our lives that this way was started in New Testament times and had continued all the years until present.  I think our emotional condition during the time we got this information  was mass confusion.  Disbelief that those we'd had such confidence in could have possibly deceived us, bewilderment with what could we possibly do now, what do we tell our children, our elderly parents, who in the world could we talk to about this very controversial issues and where does God/Jesus fit into all this?  I think the first thought I probably had was fear that I was losing my mind, becoming unwilling, bitter, falling-away--all those things I had been warned against doing.  I'd wake up with my heart pounding about out of my chest, perspiring and the dream was some very strict, staunch worker telling me I'm going to Hell and taking my family and children there with me." Joetta Heiser

 [United Pentacostal Church] "I was a member of UPC  for 27 years.  I was disfellowshipped because my Pastor had (and these were his words) a "revelation from God" about my "sinful and rebellious heart"...After 27 years I was tossed into a world I did not know about.  There was and continues to be a tremendous struggle to integrate into this world--some five years later now!  There is not a day that goes by that I am not confronted with issues that I do not know how to deal with.  Depression is my constant companion these days....Words do not convey the inner turmoil and spiritual uncertainty that bubbles inside me...This church destroys lives...The doctrine and Name have become their gods and these gods do not care, nor can they genuinely love or have compassion for anyone who does not conform to their image." Snowflake December 1999

[The Potter's House] "After I left the church ...certain members continued to harass and pester me, ringing me up or whatever, trying to make me feel bad for leaving..."Oh, we're really missing you at the church, part of the body's missing," etc...I'm in a real transition point in my life right now.  I'm hurting like you wouldn't believe.  I'm totally out of whack regarding my Christian life--having given seven years of my life to a church that I thought cared about me, only to be hurt by them.  I've been suffering depression, loneliness, feelings of rejection and hurt, and also feeling like my life's been a bit of a failure.  It seems that nothing I've tried to do over the last several years has worked out.  I just can't believe the impact this has all had on me.  I can definitely vouch for the cult-like nature of the Potter's House.  I sometimes feel a powerful urge to return to the church--"they've destroyed me for everything else, so why not?"  But the memories of the pain and dominance frighten me away before I get past the front door." Former Member in Australia 1998

UPDATE: "I know there's a lot of Potter's House doctrine still burned into my memory that I have to dispose of and re-think.  It's amazing when I think back on some of the teachings the Potter's House forced on me.  Not to mention all the petty rules I was expected to live by--all condemned as hideous sins, even though a Scripture was never quoted to me in support of these stands.  It's a great relief now to be free of the Potter's House.  I feel a lot freer in life.  I still go through difficult times, but I'm coming out of it slowly." Former Member in Australia 1998

[Mormonism] "It takes a long time to recover from the deceptions of Mormonism.  There are immediate improvements in one's life, however, when one discovers what really happened historically and learns how the church, like other groups that deceive, manipulate people.  Bitterness and anger are normal though you must not let those feelings dominate your life....Your life changes dramatically for the better even though you simultaneously experience emotional pain because you have been lied to for so many years.  I have listed things that I have personally experienced and also verified that others have gone through these same feelings...: The most common feeling is the combination of the loss of arrogance and the closer feeling one has toward mankind. This is a great feeling.  I no longer feel like I am superior to other people because of the special knowledge that I thought I had possessed....I no longer have to measure everything to how it compares to the teachings of Mormonism...It is wonderful to be free of the burden of constantly imposed guilt. I begin to understand that my own knowledge and skills are sufficient without the need for a "superior" authority telling me what to think or what to do."

[Jehovah's Witness] "I met you a long time ago when you came to my house with your smiling faces, your neat clothes, and your soft voices, and a Bible tucked under your arm.  You told me many beautiful stories of a "paradise earth" and a "righteous new system" which would be established shortly.  You beguiled me; I listened and I let you teach me...I loved you, I devoted most of my life to you, I was loyal and obedient, never realizing that one day I would come to disagree with everything you had to say.  When I first met you and learned of the "paradise," little did I know that in order to get to that paradise, I would have to walk over the dead bodies of beloved family, cherished friends, and casual acquaintances, because they didn't want to be Jehovah's Witnesses.  With your soft, sweet voices, and gentle manner, you convinced me....I loved you so much that I raised my precious children as Jehovah's Witnesses.  I taught them that you were trustworthy, and true followers of God and Jesus.  I trained them to believe your every word.  How could I have known that in the future you would steal my own flesh and blood from my arms and prevent them from seeing me because I would come to disagree with you?  I never noticed the fangs of oppression and tyranny that lurked behind those gentle smiles.  I never knew that I would be expected to hand over my mind, soul, and spirit to you, and if I were to ever want them back, you would hold my children as hostages and no amount of begging and tears would release them from you firm grip because they had been raised to look at you as being God, rather than mere men....Through years of domination and manipulation, I began to accept the meager food that was being offered to me, and became willing to accept it as the true "spiritual food from the Master," while all the time feeling the gnawing at my body.  Finally, I discovered that I had been robbed of my joy, my love, my compassion, and my mercy, and it was replaced with legalistic, doctrinal formula which provided me with fear, guilt, and anxiety to fill my hungry heart.  When I said, 'I want more than this," you slapped me with your soft little hand, which had now turned into an iron fist of oppression.  Yes, you fooled me all along, your deception was because you had been fooled, too, a long time ago, by others who had taken you captive to their dictatorial reign of terror.  You convinced me that the words of men were the words of God because you really thought it was true.  I believed you because you were gentle, soft spoken, and carried the Bible under you arm.  You told me you had 'freedom' and it was only later, when I tried to escape your brand of 'freedom' that I discovered that the iron bars of the gate had been shut and I was at your mercy because, by this time, you had already gained control of my mind and my stripped me of my dignity, my self-respect, my honor, and my FAMILY. You told all my friends and family that I was demonic, evil, an apostate, a spiritual fornicator....Through my tears I cry out for my beautiful daughter and grandchildren, but you grip them tighter and tighter and tell them that YOU will be their mother...You lied about me, but no one will believe you lied because they trust you--that's because you are soft spoken, gentle, and carry a Bible tucked neatly under your arm." Gaila Nobel Arizona


[Mormonism] "After leaving the church, I had many emotions to work through...anger, fear, sorrow, betrayal, and finally...unspeakable joy!  At first I was afraid that I was walking away from God.  I can't begin to describe how that felt.  Then, as I opened my mind and began to read, I learned about the lies and deception of the LDS church.  This brought anger and betrayal.  As I began to talk about these discrepancies to LDS people, they would discount the information and tell me the problem wasn't the church, but it was me.  I was flawed, never had a testimony, if I did have one it was weak.  I wasn't praying, reading my Mormon scriptures, I was back-biting the leaders of the church, listening to the enemy...whatever....Family members would also turn away from us....The good news is that God did not abandon me.  Through Christians that He brought into my life, He showed me that His way was different than the LDS way.  He showed me His grace and love for me personally.  I found Him in the bible....Yes I lost a lot by leaving the LDS church, but I've gained more.  The relationship I so desperately wanted for years was finally gained, not through religion but by placing my faith in Him.  In His finished work on the cross.  He didn't die for me because I was GOOD...He died for me because I was BAD....I love Him even more because He also brought my husband and children out of the grips of the LDS church as well.  Tricia, a Sixth-Generation Mormon

[Jehovah's Witness] "I was raised as a JW since the time I was five years old....I had doubts about what I was being taught throughout my entire life, however, I didn't feel as though questioning the WTS within the congregation was allowed.  I didn't feel as though I could raise these doubts with my JW parents for fear of being punished in some way....When I first got on-line some 7 years after I became inactive, I found a web page written by some Christians who were running a countercult ministry aimed at JW's.  I wrote to them via email and begged them to correspond with me.  The gentleman who ran the website at that time corresponded with me and I asked him questions about the Bible and we talked about God and compared it to what the WTS taught....I discovered just how badly I had been deceived and I now have a support network that I will need in the near future when I am shunned by my parents and relatives that are still JW's.  Tony

[International Church of Christ]  "I can't say it was easy when I finally left the ICoC.  I found myself in great need of the highly energetic relationships that I had experienced in the congregation. I attended several churches trying to find one that had that energy but I couldn't. You see, the ICoC creates in sense the atmosphere of love and closeness one feels while attending the church. It does this by restricting who you can be friends with, what segment of the church you attend (at the time the Orlando Church of Christ congregation often met in three separate groups), who you attend Bible studies with, and finally who you can have romantic relationships with....I had a nervous breakdown from the stress and finally had to go to therapy. I still at times have that urge to return to the ICoC and I'll tell you sometimes it's very strong, but I know now that I can't- not because they wouldn't accept me back, they would, but rather because I now know what Christianity is truly about. For awhile I fell away from God, but recently have developed a new relationship with Christ, one that has been more powerful than anything I have experienced so far."  Aaron

[Cooneyites] "it is nearly impossible for an entire group to rise up and out of the pit. Those individuals that can and do rise out, then get labels applied to them!! Bitter!!! Unwilling!!! Enemies of 'truth'!! Spreading propaganda!!! On a mission to destroy and not edify!! Lost sheep!!" Cher

[Church of God in Christ, Mennonite] "The 'yokes' of slavery,' as Swindoll  so eloquently puts it, were thrown off when we were excommunicated from the CGCM.  However, let me assure you that if you are thinking of coming out, you will have times when you will doubt that it was the correct thing to do.  Be steadfast, however, and let me assure you that if you perservere in resisting the clutches of legalism (there will be a perceived safety in rules and regulations), you will be rewarded with fresh and new experiences, new Christian brothers and sisters, and you will come after awhile to want to help others escape the tyranny of "the Law."  I often think CGCM is much like the Jew in Jesus' time.  Their eyes, I believe, have a veil over them, a veil of laws of their own making that prohibit them from seeing Christ clearly, thus preventing them from accepting Him without proscribing manmade regulations governing behavior and dress.  My heart aches for these dear, loving people.  How wonderful it would be if they could be released from the bondage of legalism and discover freedom in Christ." John Unruh (complete story further on)

[Church of God in Christ, Mennonite]  As a young boy, I was afraid  the Lord would come and I wouldn't be ready. I heard the preacher say that Jesus would return in the clouds of heaven, so on clear days I felt there was nothing to fear. 

    Our church had revival meetings for three to six weeks each winter, and some evangelists had a gift of making eternity long and hell super hot.  This caused coerced decisions based on fear, not insightful decisions based on love, truth, and free choice. Everything was based on self-effort, which really is another gospel. The emphasis wasn't on Jesus as the first step to salvation, but on confession of sins in order to get right with the Lord.  In the special meetings where the congregation "proves" a genuine conversion experience, over and over I had heard converts being asked if they had made all their confessions. So my understanding was that peace with God could only be found at the end of a list of confessions or apologies to people I had wronged.

     So I confessed everything but Jesus Christ, the One who is  the author and finisher of our salvation! And I lived in that restless condition for 30 years as a member in good standing in the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.

      I now believe that the first step in becoming a Christian is a step of faith accepting and confessing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  Confession, restitution, and reconciliation are to heal relationships that have been broken because of our sins. Confession of sin is not the means of our salvation but the result of our salvation.  Sin to be sin is against God first.   In God's plan we bring our sins to Jesus who is our Advocate with the Father.  As a result of salvation, we "walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).  So walking in the light is a moment by moment, day by day life--no need for revival, but a daily abiding relationship. Every new insight into God's revealed will is a call to repentance and confession.  Repentance is turning from my way to God's way.  Confession is saying, "Yes, Jesus, I see Your way."  Turning from darkness by our confession and obedience to the light of God's word,  the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.

  The empowering of the Holy Spirit comes with the invitation of Jesus into our hearts.  So with God's peace in our heart and His empowering Spirit to help us, we can deal with those things that have broken relationships. 

   I was around fourteen years old when I was encouraged to join Church.  I did have a conviction of my lost condition and a desire to be saved.  I made this decision during a series of meetings that were held in our house before the first church building was built.

   I was baptized before I had made one last confession because I didn't know where the person had moved to.  This, along with Jesus not becoming real to me, left me restless.

I was in my mid forties when I discovered what had happened in my life.  It certainly was like a gentle rain after a long dry spell. Jesus became real and I experienced a joy, peace, and freedom I had never known.  I thank God for His patience.

   Previously in the self-expression part of the revival meetings, I would wait until the last opportunity before I would respond.  After the experience where Jesus really became real to me, I got behind the mike and shared my newfound joy.  The ministry took me to task for sharing with the congregation before they had a chance to discern if it was valid or not (as if they could tell a blind man if he could see or not!)

   Through the years, I have become aware of people who shared with the ministry their experience of  Jesus becoming real to them--only to be told it was not of the Lord.  Usually this was because their experience did not fit the usual pattern. This is sad to give the credit to Satan for an experience that brought so much joy and peace to the individual. It is also hard for an individual to have a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ   living  someone else's convictions.  Because members don't ground themselves in the Word of God,  living by the convictions of others happens a lot in the Holdeman church.

     We were put on repentance and began attending the Nampa Mennonite Church. A Holdeman minister called and was planning to bring four or five ministers for a final visit, but then I mentioned  we had taken communion with our new church. Now in the Holdeman church the Communion Table has become the church's table,  memorializing unity in belief and practice. But Christ instituted the Communion table as a memorial or a remembrance of what He did for us.  Jesus is always at the head of the Communion table, and we are His guests. In the Holdeman  self-examination meetings,  Jesus is somehow not even mentioned at His own memorial. Instead they recite: "I love this church and its doctrines.  I have peace with God and man, and I desire to go along to communion."

   So taking communion with another church is considered spiritual fornication, and the Holdeman minister said, "I'm sorry, Chet.  You have crossed a line we cannot tolerate."

   My response was that there was nothing I would rather be excommunicated for than having communion with Christ.

   Shortly after this we received our excommunication letters. My asking the ministry why Jesus isn't preached more was judged as criticism, and my freedom and joy were judged as self-confidence.

    We continued attending the Nampa Mennonite Church. The pastor  (who was also a bishop)  wrote a letter to our former church and told them of the continued growth he had observed in our walk with the Lord, and that they had received us into their fellowship.  Several years later I was called by God and the Church to serve as deacon.  I don't feel the call was one to power and authority, but a call to love, service, and responsibility. Servanthood. I know I am only an earthen vessel serving as an ambassador in the lovely name of Jesus. "For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

     We have been in this church for twenty-six years.

Sadly, we have also endured the avoidance by our former church and family members during this time. J.C. Wenger, a respected historian in the Mennonite Church said the avoidance was based on very good intentions, but very poor psychology. Jesus demonstrated agape love--a love that is based on the preciousness of every man, woman, and child.  You are loved, not because of who you are, for His love is extended to you without partiality. "It was Love that moved the mighty God and that love found me." John 3:16 is the greatest demonstration of that Love.

    I believe the greatest demonstration of our Christian life is in relationships more than practice. Love isn't a stationary thing, but a moving involvement.   God gave the Ten Commandments to His people.  This was a two-part relational law: The first part dealt with love, honor, and respect to God.  The second part dealt with the things that people need to respect to live in relationships together so personhoods aren't violated. Jesus' response to the lawyer who asked which commandment was greatest was, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

   Jesus prayed about the loving relationships between Christians when He said, "Holy Father, keep through your name those you have given me, that they may be one as we are" (John 17:11).  Markus Smucker, a teacher at the Seminary in Elkhart, spent a week at our Nampa Mennonite Church teaching about the different aspects of the church.  Although he had spent most of his life working for this particular organization, he said it was not the church.  He said the Church of Jesus Christ is never a denomination or organization but wherever people gather in the name of Jesus.

   I shared with Markus a copy of the Messenger of Truth but said nothing about its contents.  When he saw how the church was exalted, he shook his head and said, "What they are doing with their church is idolatry." 

     Anything we lift up higher than Christ becomes idolatrous.

 I believe on the final day of reckoning when Christ call forth His bride, the Church, it may not be those who say, "We are the Bride."  It's more individual than that. Each person must have his or her own unique encounter with Jesus that makes the Christian life joyful and real.  And as Christ was the Word become flesh, we need to flesh out the word in our daily life and relationships.  The bridegroom will call forth the Bride, for He knows who has been faithful. My heart's desire is to "walk in the Light as He is in the light."

    May God help us all.  With love, Chet Unruh

[Church of God in Christ, Mennonite] As I do my daily walk, I recall many memories of the past, some of which are sweet, others puzzling. I often think back to my girlhood, growing up in a Holdeman home and being raised in a conservative household. I was one of the fortunate ones. My parents created a loving home where the name of Jesus was mentioned often and held in high esteem. Perhaps that is why I cannot ever remember not wanting to be a Christian and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. I know that many others may not have enjoyed such a loving home as I did, where my parents not only taught us to love Jesus but to love each other. They also played games with us, read to us, took us on trips to various scenic spots, and were the kind of role models every child needs. They were not perfect, but certainly built strong Christian values in each of us three children.

    My parents loved the church and tried their best to be faithful to its doctrines and lifestyles. And yet, California in those early days, was not a particularly conservative congregation of Holdemans. For example, I grew up swimming in the canals and rivers, along with my mother and her family, the Esau family, and wore either a homemade bathing suit or the most modest one to be found in the Sears catalogue. As an only girl with two brothers, Mom did not have one standard for me and another for my brothers. If they could go swimming, so could I, and my cousins, too. Spending afternoons in the river close to our house made summertime a very special time in my childhood.

    When I became a member of the Holdeman church at the age of ten, my complete desire was to serve the Lord as instructed in the Bible. Bible story books had been an important part of my growing up years. I knew all of the great characters of the Bible. I also knew all the parables and other stories of Jesus, and of course, the letters written by Paul and other apostles were the topics of many of the sermons I listened to morning and evening, every Sunday. We also attended midweek services faithfully, even when we still were a part of the congregation in Winton. The Livingston congregation came into being sometime in the ‘40’s, and that is the church I attended as a teen.

    My parents were able to answer most of my questions as I was growing up, particularly regarding customs we followed that did not have literal scriptural references. Also, I was taught that while one might not understand every teaching, we needed to be obedient to the church whether we understood or not. However, I do remember asking questions, such as, "Why does Jesus say there is not much benefit in inviting only those who will in turn ask you back to their homes? Doesn’t that tell us we should be reaching out to friends and neighbors who are not members of our church?"

    I can remember the silence in our S.S. class after I asked this question, and after a pause, our teacher explained that if we interacted socially with others not of our faith, we would in fact be associating with "the world," and the Bible said we were not to be a part of the world. That is, we were "in" the world but not "of" it. I accepted that, but it didn’t actually answer my question about why Jesus would give us such an instruction if we were not to abide by it.

    I can also remember struggling with the ban against photos. I could understand why we should not focus on picture-taking, or on anything that might become more important than loving and serving Jesus, but there certainly was no Biblical basis for this doctrine. Even as a child, I knew that using the second commandment to support this rule was truly stretching it, or even limiting it. To refrain from idol worship could apply to houses, lands, cars, children, clothes, and on and on. I did not know of anyone who had photos who actually bowed down and worshipped them, but I did know of people who were mighty proud of their new homes and vast acres of land.

     When my husband and I married, we continued to follow the lifestyle we had been taught. It was not a problem, for after all, we had been raised to be "different," and since our differences were supposed to be a witness to the world, we were glad to be faithful to this teaching. In fact, we discovered that we were never called to share our faith in Jesus, only to explain why we dressed the way we did. We were known as an honest people, people who were trustworthy and stood by their word. My parents were respected in our community as dependable, friendly people who would lend a helping hand whenever needed. I do not remember ever hearing my parents share Christ or invite unbelievers to become Christians. Neither did my husband nor I find ourselves evangelizing in any way.

    One incident that stands out for us is the year we attended General Conference in Lone Tree, Kansas. We had three little children, and we had just turned thirty. Our confidence in our church was unquestioned, and we were eager to see just how conference decisions were made. Perhaps we were somewhat unrealistic as to how the church would function in its role as the body of Christ, but we knew that unity would prevail.

    Two issues discussed at great length that year were the tape recorder for use in mission fields for the purpose of language study, and whether it should be permissible to sew two seams in the covering worn for everyday instead of having to use many bobby pins to hold it together on the back of the head. As I remember, the delegates, those who had the right to speak and to vote, argued their cases for an entire day. There were other things on the agenda, but those two seams were discussed for hours. After we got back to our room that night, my husband and I shook our heads in disbelief. We knew that all around us people were going to a Christless grave while "the one true visible church" argued about two seams in a little black cap. How could we be so focused on trifles while our mission of sharing the Gospel didn’t even make the agenda!

      After each of our six children had been born, we knew our primary job was to bring them up to know the ways of God. Of course, we never missed a service, and we continued the Bible story reading my parents had practiced. Also, we were eager to answer any questions our children asked regarding doctrines, customs, and lifestyles of our church. We were not the kind of parents who thought "because, that’s just how we do it" was a good answer. We would search scripture to find our answers, and that’s when we ran into difficulty. There were some things that had no scriptural basis..

    When we began a home Bible study to find answers to our questions, we followed what we thought was the right method and asked our minister, Don Millsap and his wife, to lead the Bible study. They, along with us and two other couples, met on three occasions. At the last meeting, the questions got rather intense and our minister and his wife were greatly troubled. They canceled the meetings and reported to the staff that we were not as grounded as they had supposed we were. This put us on the "suspicious" list.

    One of the themes of next year’s revivals was that asking questions indicated a lack of faith and trust in the church and should not be accommodated. Blind obedience was promoted, and a general air of suspicion and lack of trust began to be felt.

    The following summer, my husband and I had an experience as we stood together praying in our own living room that has changed our lives forever. As we prayed together, Jesus took first place on the throne of our hearts, and the church became number two. This was not a conscious decision, but as we went through a sort of "Damascus road experience," this was the result. We had no idea the church in which we held our membership had been dethroned, but Satan did, and he immediately began to stir up great difficulties. Nothing about us had changed except our hearts. We had fallen in love with Jesus, and the Bible had come alive. We could not help but praise and glorify the One whom we now knew loved us unconditionally and without reservation. And how we loved Him--we simply could not express the joy that flooded our hearts as we stood in His presence, in our own living room, and began to utter words of praise and thanksgiving.

    There are other aspects to this experience, but almost immediately we were in trouble with the church. The ministers came to our home to hear what had happened, and they could find nothing to criticize except, if this was of God, why had it come when it did and not during revivals. We said that all our lives we had been singing, "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." We had prayed long and often for an assurance that we were truly saved, and when it came, in a way totally unexpected to us, it was more wonderful than we could imagine. To know, without a shadow of a doubt that our sins were forgiven and that we stood clean before Him, was what we had longed for.

    The local congregation soon called ministers from other congregations to determine what this "spirit" was that had afflicted us. First it was identified as "a foreign spirit," than a "sectarian spirit," and finally, "the West Coast spirit." Whatever it was, it was from Satan, we were told, and people began to keep their distance from us. We were relieved of our ministry duties in church and were told not to meet with anyone who might be contaminated with this "spirit." We continued to be faithful in church attendance and in following the teachings of the church. After all, we had six young children and keeping them in church was very important to us.

    Soon we were put on repentance, and about two years later, we were excommunicated. During this time we followed all the church rules and attended church regularly. We often studied the Bible, and we prayed constantly that Jesus would show us where we were in error. We had many ministerial visits, but interestingly enough, none ever brought their Bibles. We would always ask to have prayer together, and they would oblige, praying that we would be delivered from deception.

    A few weeks before we were excommunicated, we had an unusual experience in that our four-year-old son sang a song in his sleep in our bedroom. It was, "There’s a new name written up in glory--and it’s mine, O yes it’s mine." He sang those few words, then continued to sleep. The night before was the first time we had asked for a sign as to whether we were pleasing to God or not, and we could not deny this message He’d given.

    Many other answers to prayer were experienced, but I don’t want to make this too lengthy. The Lord led us to keep a respectful attitude to our ministers during the entire two years so that we were not excommunicated for a bad attitude. It was simply that the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, had taken first place in our hearts. This is still the case these many years later, and it is to Him that we give all praise and glory. And it is in His keeping that we trust our lives and the lives of our family, both here and throughout eternity. God bless you for reading this, and may we all honor Him, at whose name every knee will bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father. Amen.   Willis and Leona Nichols

[Church of God in Christ, Mennonite] I have never had any complaints about treatment I received [in CGCM ], and I have never felt the need to vindicate myself either.  However, it has never left my mind that we need to speak for up Christ and in as far as we have opportunity to give testimony, we are to vindicate what Christ does for those who put their trust in Him; especially to those who would withhold the blessings of gospel from others.

I can only tell what happened to me in the Holdeman church and the reader will have to decide whether to support such actions or whether he or she might have responsibility to speak up for the length and breadth of the love of God.

My wife and I were happily a part of the CGCM (were born to families in the church) since we were converted and baptized.  During a particular revival effort when we looked forward to a closer walk with Christ and keenly took steps to align our lives to the church, Jesus visited us in a special way with His presence.  On sharing this with church staff we were told that we “were communicating with someone, but it was not the Lord Jesus Christ.” This very unexpected event brought us to a place where we had to settle whether we met with the devil or with Holy Spirit on that occasion. This was a 10 month struggle for us and it came to this question:  Can an individual believe the Bible, that when one comes to Christ with an honest heart  Jesus does hear ? And does respond with His Holy Spirit? I always had complete trust in our ministry but it brought up this question: Must a believer in the church filter his communication with Christ through the ministry panel ?  Does Christ give them the mandate to decipher where Jesus speaks peace to a believer ? Or is this something that exists between a believer and God ?

There was only one answer for us and that is that the Bible is believable, and when one comes to Christ with an honest heart, Jesus receives any and all as He has promised in His Word.
Hank Wiebe

[Church of God in Christ, Mennonite] My testimony is some different than are many others but we are all unique I suppose.

   As we all know the Holdimans believe in a single work of grace limited to experiencing some freedom and peace of mind by numerous small freedoms that may come in the process of confessing one's sins to those transgressed against.

    The Holdimans believe from this point on God becomes active in one's life. They believe God becomes active in the lives of men and women with personal salvation, upon a decision we make and then confession of one's sins to others, rather than a decision to invite Jesus into our hearts as we repent unto Him!  The Holdimans believe that Jesus comes into one's heart and life first by a decision and then confession of sins to others with or without inviting Jesus into our heart, with or without repenting unto Jesus!

I began to see that process as awful flimsy when I compared this thing with the Bible. I saw that the Bible spoke of an empowered christianity, people who had a powerful and living Faith, a church where miracles became common, and the new births were powerful, dramatic, and caused spontaneous changes in their lives without any contrived measures added. In my own life I knew I was contrived to great degree. I suppose I wondered if other Holdimans thought that they were too. That is still a mystery to me. The secret cannot be revealed I suppose.

    My initial problem was with what they call the conversion experience. I began seeing it as far too shallow which then fosters and encourages the dependence upon church and the precepts of the church, rather than upon the living Christ Jesus for one's personal salvation.

    As a Holdiman Mennonite I began praying for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, I saw this in the Bible. Some of my neighbors [who were not Mennonites] were praying for the gift of God as well. I found out later you really are not supposed to do that if you are a Holdiman. Now I say this; don't pray that way if you are not serious about Jesus and the actual eternal Life He can give you!

Sometimes the contrived stuff must all go, and sometimes Jesus will work in and around these things and bring these things to honor and glory!

    When my farm bankrupted I was 29. My marriage utterly failed the same year. It became clear that it was all contrived and so long as the good times were there the things kind of held together in some way.

    Well, the law found in precepts judged me and I was discarded, the law used the term avoided or shunned.. It was hard times. I remember even getting out of food for a short while. The most important thing in my life had utterly failed and that was my marriage. The farm was next in line in my priority. At the time I still believed enough in the Holdiman church system that I judged and discarded myself as well in very real ways, in the next years which followed.

God called my name out loud [loudly] one morning in the house I was living in, and it really frightened me. I jumped up out of bed and checked the closets, checked under the bed and even went outside and checked under the house to make sure. All the while I somehow knew it was God though.

    Well the next few years I was in a very bad mood. At least the mood didn't swing, it was bad for about four years.

    As it turned out nearly everything in my life was contrived down to my finances, my church life, and my marriage. All failed. I was angry at religion, at the farm, and at my terrible mistake in marriage. The mirror is something I did not spend much time looking into for what I saw did me no good at all. I was in a dry thirsty land. The disappointment was complete! I could nearly taste it. I was whipped and remember telling this to my best man friend at the time.  What I was tasting was not good. It says in one place, taste and see whether the Lord is Good! I have and He is better than Good!

I met some christian people after nearly four years into my bad mood. These people completely overlooked my faults [which were many] and saw my deeper need! This is what pure and unconditional Love does, I found out later! I didn't know that! I was not taught that. Jesus overlooked our faults and saw our need, while on the Cross! He Loved us then and He still does!

    These people I met rarely or never spoke of church because they were simply too busy speaking  of the Jesus they had experienced! I saw great Hope in them! I saw a great Peace in them! I saw great a Faith in them! I saw and experienced great Love from them!  The latter was the best so far as I was concerned. I simply did not care if they spoke in tongues and openly glorified God which was somewhat unusual to me with my background! These people Loved when there was no reason to Love! Hope was something I had run out of and these people were full of a Living Hope! It seemed they went to church all the time but they never spoke of church! The church yard seemed to be running over with cars and I wondered if there were alot of weddings or something. There was alot of Jesus being experienced in the church, I found out later. People were getting saved at both weddings and at funerals, as it turned out.

Anyway Jesus gloriously and radically saved me! I repented utterly in seeing Him in His Love and Mercy! Deliverance from the womanizing immediately came to me, completely and spontaneously. That was a relief. There is bondage in that realm of things, one can forget who he is by being stretched so thinly around the county. These type sins are certainly against one's own self.. Deliverance from so much followed, I was free at last like I had never been free! Bad language went away. Tobacco went. Drink went. It all went away spontaneously by the power of God! I was finally connected with the source of Life itself!

    Jesus had become my Lord and Master! Living Faith was something I now had, which I had never before experienced so far as I could remember. This surprised me. Faith surprised me this was interesting to me at the time, because I had grown up in a church which thought of themselves as the only church with real authenticity.

    Seven months went by. God was graciously cleaning up my life; not by contrived measures but by the spontaneity of Himself in me! After seven months I received the empowerment of the Holy Ghost, i.e. the gift of God! I almost walked on the air for nearly five years after that, for everything that I had initially experienced, Freedom, Love, Faith, Hope, and Peace, were now greatly multiplied! I simply could not believe
it was happening to me. Jesus sent a man nearly 80 years old to father me in the Spirit, for which I will always thank God! This man Loved so freely and graciously! But he was tough on me at times. He has died and I miss him greatly.

    That was 25 years ago and the bad mood has never returned! Praise Him! I have never seen a place to turn around, so my face is toward the Son day by day! I choose to walk the high road whenever I see two roads ahead of me, which as long as we are in this life there will be many of these choices.

    There is victory in Jesus! There is room at the Cross! The gift of God is still freely being poured out upon all flesh! We do not have to walk ankle deep with Jesus, we can go under in Him! He will Baptize us! He is great! Jesus is absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me! He is alive! It is not about church, it is about Jesus! If it were about church then it would be about us for we are the church..We do well before God to get our priorities forever right!
Doug Dyck

   [Church of God in Christ, Mennonite] "I use to belong to CGCM many years ago and am so happy the Lord led my husband and me out. But when Gary and I first left, we were physically sick. I became depressed and yet had a "euphoric" attitude and feeling.  It was not to be explained.  I truly believe we were in an oppression that Satan had cast on us.  I see couples that weren't raised in the "church" being torn up leaving, but those who were raised in it truly have to break the "cult chain".  Outsiders don't understand that around here when I talk about leaving a cult. 

     I can remember as young as five, already wishing I hadn't been born into this family because of the church's belief.  I couldn't buy that these were the Only Christians living here on earth.  Also as young as I was I couldn't understand the non-resistance stance the church took because there was the Centurion that was a Christian, etc.  There were a lot of things I questioned but at eleven I came under the church's conviction and the questions asked me were:#1---had I made my confessions---#2---had I thrown away my school pictures--#3--was I willing to wear the head covering.  Wow--no one talked to me about Jesus---and how to pray--so I prayed to God and was scared to death of dying. 

    At twenty seven I started out on a search for a closer walk through the Holdeman church first--I was told you don't do Bible Studies away from church, and I questioned to much.  We happened to read the Book that was popular then---The Taste Of New Wine by Keith Miller, and God didn't allow me to sit back and keep quiet.  We ran across a "worldly" couple that was also searching for a closer walk with God and they happened to ask me, "Have you made Jesus Lord of your Life?". 

    I answered with a yes and then remember adding "I think so?"  That evening when I told Gary how uneasy I felt with saying yes,  he said just say the sinners prayer.  The rest is history.  It took us two years to get out, partly because we weren't ready, and the other part hoping we could be an influence.  But when each sermon was directed at us we decided to get out.  But we had taken a "Jesus couple", a Christian flower couple--this was in the early seventies when the drug children were starting to wake up to something meaningful like Jesus.  He was in overalls and corduroy suit coat and she in a long flowing dress with sandals.  Needless to say they didn't fit in.  I went to the bathroom with our young two year old and felt something drop off my shoulders.  It was so real that I looked and looked for what dropped,  thinking Jay had brought something in.  But I hadn't heard anything drop.  God let me see right there in the room, that was the denomination that had fallen off of me.  That was the last time we went as members.

    What to do with my head coverings kept hounding me---finally asked the Lord what to do with it.  And the answer came back---burn it,it's a curse.  So much of the denomination is built around the head covering and beard.  I did and felt so at peace. 

      Oh yes in our search for the Truth as Holdemans, we wanted a Bible Study, and we had four ministers and a mix of different religions coming.   If it hadn't been for these ministers explaining how God talked in a quiet voice, or not in a "you have to do it right now" feeling, we'd never have made it.  We'd run back many times through our two years of wondering "did we do the right thing?"  But I had put so much prayer into us leaving and wanting to know for sure that this was REALLY GOD LEADING US OUT, and had his promises over and over through Bible Verses and the help of the ministers that there was no way we could go back.    My plea to God was "I want to be so sure that you won't ask me to come back to this church or I won't leave until I know without of a shadow of doubt."

     We've known we've done right and it's over thirty years now.  We have never questioned God's leading except for maybe several hours of questioning at a time right after we left--during the two years---but we'd wait out the LOUD STORMS and then peace and quiet would come.  Oh the JOY that would follow the storm.

    My encouragement would be to stay in the word.  Keep searching who Jesus is and what he wants to do for you through the Word.  Some of the verses I read over and over were:
John 1: 1 & 2 & 14----The word becoming flesh and living among us.
John 10: 10-----------The Abundant Life in Christ.
Isaiah 9: 6------------God is Our Father and Counselor.
John 15: 26-----------Through the Holy Spirit check to see if it Testifies about Jesus.
1 John 5: 5------------Overcome the World by BELIEVING IN JESUS.(READ THE WHOLE CHAPTER)
1 John 2:27-----------The WORD needs to Teach US.  Man is fallible.
1John 4: 18------------Perfect Love Casts Out Fear.  JESUS IS PERFECT LOVE.
Hebrews 10:19-25-----Coming to Jesus Through His Blood.
Hebrews 4: 16---------Come to Jesus with Boldness.
Philippians 4: 4--------Always REJOICE IN THE LORD.  We don't always feel like rejoicing but that is the best Worship we can give our Savior and Father.  Live in the Psalms, it's full of Praises.  God understands our human nature like he did David's.

    My Christian work is in my local Church and I love it. There are always so many things to PRAISE THE LORD FOR if only you open your Hearts to what he's doing in our lives. Sometimes reminiscing helps to be thankful of where you were and where you are right at this moment.  Also having to think whether you are where the Lord wants you now. 

 God Bless

Lila Unruh



                As an ex-member of one of these groups said: "Pray for the people that are trapped in a system far removed from biblical teachings. Many are sincere seekers of truth that have been blinded by their own leadership that they trust and are told to obey."


Links to Sites on Cult Exposure and Recovery:

Intelligent People Become Victims of Religious Cults:                     

Patterns in the Cults:                                                                      

Aiding Exiters:                                                                                                  

There is Genuine Christian Life Outside:           

Post-Cult Trauma Syndrome:                                                           

Stages in Recovery:                                                                       

It's Too Perfect:                                                                            

Which is the One True Church?                                                        

There is no such thing as the One True Church:  (meaning the one true cult view of the church)                                                                                                           


For Members

Love letter to the Holdemans:



Why We Left

Who is My Brother in Christ

An Unbroken Lineage of Unchanged Faith?

Holdemans Calling Their Forefathers' Doctrines Blasphemous

The Forefathers Calling Doctrine Held by the Holdemans Heresy

Public Apology

Why So Many Doubts and Fears?

What Must I Do to be Saved?




Whether it be of God and No Proselytes in Zion--a Re-examination:  (this is the original pamphlet sent to 2,000 members of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite)



 Scare Tactics


Answers to Myths, Fears, and Misapplied Scriptures


About the Authors

For Non-members

Origin of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite

What does the Church of
God in Christ, Mennonite,
really teach?

Holdemanism VS Anabaptism

Comparing the
"One True" churches

Quotes from Ex-Members

Witnessing to Holdemans

For Ex-Members

Scare Tactics


Answers to Myths, Fears, and Misapplied Scriptures

Breaking the Chains

The Sin of Obeying Legalism

Finding the New Testament Church

Should Christians Dress Plain or Should They Follow Christ's Example Who Dressed "Just Like the World"?

Quotes from Ex-Members

Links to Other Sites on Cult Recovery

Audio and Video Testimonies

Our Spiritual Journey to Jesus by Leona Nichols

Quiet Things, Quiet Places -

Coming Out of Deception and Spiritual Bondage by Weldon Koehn

Canadian Television Broadcast on The Purge of the 1970's

NOTE: If your computer doesn't already have RealPlayer®, download it here for free.



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