Identifying the signs of sectarian tendencies
For any religious group the danger of being reduced to an unhealthy sect is something that must be avoided. This series of questions, developed by reputable researchers, aims to find out if you are fellowshipping in a church which is exerting undue pressure to conform in a sectarian sense to unbiblical practices. Answer the following questions with a YES or NO.
Note down how many questions you have answered with a YES, and read on at the end of the questionnaire...
- Is your doctrine legislated rather than guided (you should be free to search things out for yourself)?
- Are you unsure of the background of your leader/s?
- Do you solely rely on information given to you by your group?
- Is there pressure to avoid all other information about your group?
- Is there pressure on you to agree with all that the group says?
- Are leaders or other members hostile to your questions?
- Do they often react emotionally and defensively to criticism?
- Are you fearful of your leaders?
- Are you allowed to look at the financial records of the group?
- Is there any obvious financial exploitation?
- Are members ever "disciplined" by threats, bribes, or other unpleasant pressures to conform?
- Are issues of obedience and submission overemphasised?
- Are you dependent on your leaders or on the approval of others for what you do?
- Do you stay on in the hope that things will one-day change?
- Do you tend to ignore the fact that other members are leaving?
- Are you afraid of leaving?
- Do people constantly leave amidst controversy, strife and bitterness?
- Do you ignore your friends'/family's comments about your situation?
- Do you now justify things, which you once considered to be wrong?
- Do you feel threatened by others' opinions?
- Do you use "God wants me here" as an excuse to avoid facing the issue of leaving?
- When your group uses the Bible, does it use it only with reference to another person's teachings?
- Are members dependent on a "revelation" in order to become fully-fledged members (those without the "revelation" being rejected)?
- Does your group derive its teachings from personal experience and then try to find Scripture to authenticate the experience?
- Where scriptural authentication cannot be found, is "special revelation knowledge" appealed to?
If you have answered YES to 5 - 10 questions, you should be very wary of the church you belong to.
If you have answered YES to 11 - 20 questions, you should be very concerned with some or all of the practices and teachings of the church you belong to. There is probably a high level of legalism being exerted upon the people involved with this church.
If you have answered YES to more than 20 questions, you should seriously consider leaving the church you belong to. This may prove to be a difficult thing to do for many reasons.