Saturday, 18 October 2008

In a nutshell, what admissions from the JA would satisfy me?

Circa's comment that there would never be any terms which would satisfy me made me wonder what three admissions would make me willing to let go. I think in essence, these three would do it:


In the past the Jesus Fellowhip taught openly and without shame, self-conciousness or embarrassment that they were the Kingdom of God on Earth and called themselves Zion. They regarded all other christian churches as worldly, compromising, backslidden, uncommitted etc. They believed that such Christians lived under grace alone and that the only excuse such people had for not being in Zion (in the JFC) too was the fact that they had not met the JFC. They believed that any person who met the JFC but did not join it, must be judged by God as disobeying the call to covenant community.


Any person who left the JFC was said to be en-route for apostasy, that leaving the fellowship was not merely leaving one church with the possibility of going to another, but was actually an act of rebellion against God and that such people must be judged by God accordingly; judged for breaking their life-long covenants. Noel taught unselfconsciously about people who left committing the sin against the Holy Spirit, with the danger that in the moment of rebellion that person risked God not only never being able to forgive them (the sinner having committed the unforgivable sin), but actually actively hardening their hearts against Him, himself. People who left, even if they claimed to be leaving with their faith intact, were encouraged to believe that they would forever live as spiritual orphans who would never find their spiritual homes. Some of us were even told that if we became sick, we would not recover because we would not have the covering of God.


People like me who spoke out about the JFC had some really horrible lies made up about us in order to blacken our reputations among people who might otherwise believe us. One sympathetic member of the press (now a very highly admired author and correspondent for the New Statesman, The Observer etc) rang me after doing a piece on the JA to advise me that they had suggested to him that I had been forced to leave the fellowship for trying to have sex with under-age members!

That was probably their worst mistake in dealing with me, for far from making me afraid to speak out, it made me more certain than before what sort of people I was dealing with; and more sure of just how spooked they must be by my efforts. Noel rang my minister and told him I was mentally unstable and unreliable. As I have said before, a sister was contacted this year and told that every churchman in her town would be contacted and told she was a treacherous jezebel. We are always painted as bitter misfits who never fitted in, who were always trouble-makers etc, even though two fellow critics in the 1980s had been elders and had lived in fellowship for many years.So, there you go. In essence, I would be satisfied if there was an admission that in the past the JA regarded itself as the Kingdom of God, that people feared losing their salvations if they left and that those of us who spoke out were blackened with the sorts of lies that could easily have destroyed weaker people.

Perhaps the scale of the things that trouble me most about the JA will help put in perspective just why leaving the fellowship had such a life-affecting impact on me, and why it is hard for me to let go.