Was Sovereign Grace Ministries a Cult or Cultic? An Old Comment at SGM Survivors Inspires this Quick Post

An old comment that I stumbled upon at SGM Survivors leads to a quick post. Was Sovereign Grace a cult or cultic? Or cult like? It was my conclusion at the time that Sovereign Grace was a cult, and that belief has not softened with the passing of time.

“Cult recruiting methods based on dosing victims with the brain chemicals released during capture bonding would make cults even more of a problem than they are now.”

Keith Hanson

“A cult is a religion with no political power.”

Tom Wolfe

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Eric Simmons at Redeemer Arlington

The other day I was researching a post on Harvest Bible Chapel and I came across an old comment on SGM Survivors that I think is interesting. It looks at Sovereign Grace and asks is it a cult, or cultic? While I may not agree with everything in the comment I do agree with many parts of the comment. In my own case I viewed Sovereign Grace as being a cult because of the intense loyalty it created and the problems coming from the system. Hands down it was deeply corrupt, it corrupted people and even as some of the churches broke away years ago such as Redeemer Arlington or Redeeming Grace Fairfax, they still deal with the same issues and some of them in my mind have only changed their name. Nothing else has changed and the problems that exist continue and will due to the culture.

When an Air Force Officer placed an intense amount of pressure on me to attend Redeemer Arlington I viewed it as a cult. Why? In addition to what I said above what struck me is how the individual pressing me to go almost became like a robot. Later on when I met with Jordan Kauflin for lunch in trying to resolve the situation I was dealing with I realized that Andrew was duplicating the behavior of his former Sovereign Grace pastor. Mannerisms, saying, and more that came from Jordan Kauflin I heard or witnessed over the course of time from Andrew White who tried to get me into Redeemer Arlington. Sovereign Grace is about growing into the system and that is what some cults do, they promote their own culture which results in some people disengaging from the world and cutting off family and friends. Honestly I don’t see what the point of being a Christian in that system as you lose in the end. But it was the pressure that I still remember. There was so much pressure to go from this individual from Sovereign Grace. That pressure came in emails, conversations, text messages, phone calls, over lunch and so much more. The pressure was strong and I was frustrated in having to deal with it. Years later and I still have not had any situation that has been like that in all honesty.

The other thing that remains with me is that Sovereign Grace had a way of beating people down. The system controlled and intimidated people. Over the years I have met a number of people from Sovereign Grace and a number of them seem to still struggle with their own identity, being assertive, and just conforming. Some people have been trained to follow and submit that when they are outside that system I get the feeling that many are lost. It baffles me as to why someone would want to enter a system like that and deal with the long term psychological effects. Maybe that is why some people go back or can’t leave. They can’t think for themselves and need someone to think for them. But that is creepy. Below is an old comment at SGM Survivors.

Sidney believes SGM is a cult. Kerrin say cult. Others loudly proclaim cult.

Kris says “cultic”. I say “cultic”. Others assert “not cult, cultIC”. Splitting hairs.

Some here say it’s neither. Oh wells. Whatevs. The issue is some SOME SERIOUS BAD FRUIT THAT NEEDS MORE THAN, “OH, LET’S GET TOGETHER AND TALK ABOUT THIS, I’D LIKE TO HEAR YOUR HEART” CRAP. ANd it’s CRAP and I’m so sick of it. No matter WHAT you choose to call it, cult or no cult, they’s some BAD FRUIT, folks. Let’s sin sniff that, a’ight?

My take after 10 years: great people, cultic SYSTEM. I feel it’s extremely important to separate the two. Bad system make good people go bad.

The messed up system doesn’t negate the great people (or even good/great experience) you can have there. God is kind and gracious to meet with us ANYwhere, even w/in SGM. He can even grow you and do great things in your life there: He IS LORD of all the earth. HIS grace is evident in the people, but man’s mess is there too. Oh, and boy what a mess. That’s why this blog (and others) exists, right? All the man-made mess, covered up by a facade of holiness or whatever.

My take is that there are great Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, people in SGM; but the organization (pardon, “family of churches”) is a seriously flawed, CEO-led, man-tweeked, cult-like SYSTEM that breeds spiritual, co-dependent adolescents.

For me, IT’S THE SYSTEM THAT’S WRONG. I personally could not follow God and remain. But that’s me.

It “served” me for a while, but now in order to grow, we outta there. I can’t stagnate in just the raise-my-family and that’s it, inward-focused blah blah blah stuff anymore. How duly BORING. There is SO MUCH MORE to following Christ than that. That is just the beginning! Spiritual milk! Gimme some meat! Ugh, I’m starvin over here!

The stinkin’ top-down, hierachical weird company-like system is what makes the mess with people. It quenches the Spirit, and I think AND HAVE SEEN it make good people do some weird even severly messed up and weird me out things. Fear of man is just all over the place. Ick.

That’s my take. Everyone has their own here, and they have all arrived at their own conclusions based on differing experiences. And there is validity in that. It’s still a free country where we can freely opine what we like, tis not?

I still say great people (I can’t beleive some of the amazing, godly people I know still that are still livin and lovin the SG way), one messed up system. I worry for my friends that stay. SO much potential to be doing so much MORE for the LORD, but just preachin the gospel over and over to themselves while billions fall into the flames of hell because, DOH!, we don’t do missions here, folks.

Okay, I’m in rare form and repeating myself, I’ll stop, thanks for listening.

One thought on “Was Sovereign Grace Ministries a Cult or Cultic? An Old Comment at SGM Survivors Inspires this Quick Post

  1. My take after 10 years: great people, cultic SYSTEM.

    Like the main characters in Harry Turtledove’s In the Presence of Mine Enemies (Alternate-history SF, “Germany Won WW2” sub-type.) Mostly-decent people stuck in an Evil system.


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