One night in the Fullerton Leading Brother's meeting sometime in the middle 1980's I made a suggestion. I suggested that we use a method during the Chapter Summary that had not been used before. George Geftakys sat there and listened quietly while a few brothers made comments, and then said, "There is a need for loyalty". That was that. No more discussion, no more mention of the subject, we had heard the word!
I recall having sat there and thought something like, "Well, there it is, another Attack of the Killer Yes Men". George had spoken, and the troops had snapped to attention. I was frequently odd man out in those meetings, because I never viewed the Assembly as merely an expression of the vision of George Geftakys.
During the following week, I mulled over this event, and decided to say something the following Sunday night. When the time arrived I said to the brothers, "Remember last week when George stopped my suggestion by saying, 'there is a need for loyalty'? Loyalty can be a virtue, or a vice depending on the circumstances. Adolph Hitler's SS troops were loyal to the death. Was that good? No, because the moral value of the loyalty is determined by the object of the loyalty."
As you can imagine, this did not make a big hit with the brothers. However, since it is so obviously true, and since I had not committed the sacrilege of having said George was wrong, they let it pass.
I have recounted this incident for a purpose. Many people are reading these articles and making up their minds about what to do in response to the revelations about David Geftakys' abuse of his wife and children, and the knowledge of and complicity in these events by many in leadership in the George Geftakys Assemblies.
Some are thinking, "The enemy is attacking God's testimony. We must stand together in unity and resist, for if we resist the Devil, he will flee."
Others might be thinking, "This is shocking, I trusted these men and looked up to them as godly examples and shepherds, and now I see that they are corrupt. I'm leaving, but where will I go?"
This is not an easy choice. Years of having been indoctrinated with the idea that the Assembly is the pinnacle of God's purpose in the earth, the true testimony, the followers of the heavenly vision, and so on, make it difficult to even consider leaving. Questions like, "If I leave will God punish me"? or, "What will happen to my family?", cause real anxiety and uncertainty.
I know. I have faced these questions myself.
Years ago, when I was facing these questions, I found some very wise thoughts in the writings of Francis Schaeffer, in his book, True Spirituality. I share those thoughts with you below:
"In a fallen world there is a need of organization, and there is also need of Christian leadership. But the leaders, as office bearers, stand in relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ, to the people of God, as brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as leaders. The Church as a whole, and the officers, are to function consciously on the basis of each one being equal as created in the image of God, and as equal in the sense of being equally sinners redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
In this way, believing in the priesthood of all true believers, believing in the supernaturally restored relationship among those who are brothers in Christ, believing in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each individual Christian-organization and Christian leadership do not stand in antithesis to true spirituality.
With such a mentality in the Church we can also say something about the attitude of loyalty. Loyalty in the Church of Christ should be in an increasing scale. To reverse this scale is to destroy the church. The primary loyalty must be to God as God, on a personal level. This is personal loyalty to the person of the Living God, and it is essential and first, above all other loyalties.
So strongly do I feel this that I would put the second loyalty in a decreasing scale; loyalty to the principles of revealed Christianity. It is not that I would separate these principles of revealed Christianity from the personal God, but rather that it is because they are from him that they have any authority.
Third in importance is loyalty to organizations, not because they have been called Church organizations and have had historical continuity for a certain number of years, centuries, or millennia, but only as far as they are biblically faithful.
Below this, in fourth place, must be that which is often put first, and that is loyalty to human leadership. It must be kept in its proper order. To reverse the order is to be totally destructive.
If loyalty to human leadership becomes central, we tend to show loyalty not even to our own organization (which would be horribly limited in itself) but to our own little party within the organization. But if, on the other hand, we keep our eyes on loyalty to the personal God, as our "first love," we will tend to love, on a practical level, all those who are Christ's."
Members of the George Geftakys Assemblies frequently call their groups, "The Testimony". By this they are saying that their groups are a manifestation of the mind and character of God, expressed on the earth through human vessels. Francis Schaeffer understood this idea, although his vision included ALL the people of God and not just one tiny group. He wrote:
"In words and practice the Church must also, as a corporate body, show that it takes holiness and love, and love and communication seriously. And how can it do this unless it consciously practices holiness and love, and love and communication, both toward those inside the church group and those Christians outside their group?"
For years, the inverted loyalty structure of the George Geftakys Assemblies has been destroying any hope of these groups being true "testimonies". Power abuse is rampant. If they were not so afraid to be open the majority of the "saints" could tell their personal stories of this. But they have learned not to be open, knowing that what they say will be reported to the leaders, men who support and benefit from the centrality of human leadership.
They know, and rightly fear, the rebuke of these leaders. They know the fear of having confidential information spread around, of having the important relationships of their lives poisoned by subtle revelations made out of "concern" for their welfare. And most of all they fear being cut off, permanently rejected by trusted leaders, old friends, even family members, and that they will lose the only life they have known since their young adulthood.
The inverted loyalty structure of the George Geftakys Assemblies has destroyed any hope of expressing the unity of the Body of Christ. The proud boast is that "we don't take a name because that would divide the Body of Christ". But their practice is the opposite. Their claim that the "Government of God" flows down through "His appointed leaders" de-legitimizes all other Christian groups and consigns them to second class status as compromised, unfaithful, backslidden and worldly Christians.
I have never observed any leadership group within these Assemblies reach out cooperatively to brethren in other churches. However, during my own tenure in the Assemblies I suggested that we could at least pray with brethren from nearby churches. It never happened.
Now many in the hierarchy of "God's Government" have been shown to be complicit in a hideous evil: the verbal, physical, and sexual abuse of a dear sister in Christ by her husband. Again and again she appealed to those she trusted for help. No one came to her defense, or to her children's defense. She found no shepherd to take up the rod and the staff and stand between the sheep and the wolf, and the wolf was among the flock.
Yes, some passed on the information to "God's Government". Many of those who style themselves by this term knew of this evil for many years, some for decades. But it went on and on. Sincere brethren wrote letters, made calls, informed workers and leading brothers. They were rebuked, put off, told it was lies, excommunicated.
Why did this happen? It happened in large part because of misplaced loyalty. The inversion of proper priorities of loyalty put men's perceived interests first. Men, who depended on those above them for their position and power, protected the source of their power. They were loyal, but their loyalty, although couched in Bible talk of God and "The Testimony", and "Standing together in unity", was to human leadership.
As Schaeffer said, "To reverse the order is to be totally destructive". Destructive of what? Destructive of the souls of God's people and to the reputation of His Church.
Abusive conduct is evidence of man's government, not God's. These men, (and women), knew they were doing wrong. They had qualms about it. But they had been trained to "never accept criticism of their brethren". They were loyal. They "stood together in unity".
In addition, while knowingly tolerating evil, they presumed to stand between God's people and the throne of God, as God's Government. They micro-managed the lives of God's people, telling them where to work, who to marry, where to live, how to treat their children, what to wear, and on and on, and God help the little one who did not comply with their dictates. All the while, the abuse went on.
Finally our sister fled her own home in desperation and fear for her safety.
Cover stories went out. "It is all lies. She is going through menopause and has become unbalanced." "There is no evidence." She had depended on this work for her livelihood for decades, but no help was offered.
Did "God's Government" intervene on this victim's behalf. No. It was only the constant clamor of concerned Christians outside their reach that finally pulled the cover off the garbage can and exposed the corruption to the light. Now some corrective action has begun. Do you really believe these men are "God's Government"?
Can men who have fallen into these evils be recovered? Yes, they can. A few of these men have now openly admitted their complicity in evil. Some admissions have been made and apologies given. One courageous sister stood alone against the torrent of lies. But the question is, does this come up to the Biblical standard of true repentance? It is not enough that those who have, in doing evil stumbled the sheep, be sorry. In 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 we read:
"I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging the wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter."
Many Christians, both current and former members of these Assemblies are praying and watching for sorrow to the point of repentance. They are hoping to see an earnest, genuine change of heart and behavior on the part of the leaders of these groups, particularly in Fullerton. They hope to see loyalty to man purged out and blessed loyalty and obedience to God become the object of every heart. May it be so.
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
Read more about misplaced loyalty in an adaptation of Michael Spencer's blog post, Group Loyalty »»