There are at least as many critics of The Assembly as there are members. The attrition rate of members over the years is enough by itself to prove the preceding statement. In addition to the hundreds of former members who testify about how they were hurt and abused in the group, there are books written that specifically mention the Geftakys group and describe it as an "Abusive Church." These books also expose other groups which are given the same treatment as the Assembly, by the author, Dr. Ronald Enroth.
A curious observation is that Assembly members do not hesitate to label the other groups mentioned in Churches That Abuse as compromised, cultic, apostate, even Satanic! Yet, when they find themselves in the same pages that expose these other groups, The Assembly, in the exact same manner as the "cults" they speak out against, refuses to examine themselves. Instead, they immediately scream, "Persecution!" Churches That Abuse would not be offensive to members at all, if it didn't include information about their group that makes them look bad. The Assembly makes a big point of being Biblically sound and following the New Testament Pattern, but they never ask themselves why they must oppose a book that exposes false doctrine and what they readily admit is abusive practice. Shouldn't a Biblically sound church welcome such a book? Instead of listening to the hundreds of people who have been hurt by the group, The Assembly immediately labels any criticism as an attack from "the Enemy." Perhaps the reason for this blindness is a misunderstanding of what persecution really is.
The main purpose of this website is to break through to the many members who have questions or doubts and to get them to lift their gaze to realize the truth. The Assembly is not being persecuted, they are being admonished, exhorted, and rebuked! And this for good reason. The following is an excerpt from, Twisted Scriptures, by Mary Alice Chrnalogar, pp 135-137. Please keep in mind that the author was involved in a different group than The Assembly, one that is considered a cult by The Assembly. It is rather striking to realize that Assembly culture is so similar to a group that is widely regarded as a cult.
Persecution--Are You Kidding?
Controlling groups really make a big deal out of being persecuted. Perhaps your group does.
This conditioning produces a strong reaction when something negative has been said about your group or its leaders. This emotional reaction usually causes you to discredit those who speak out against the group, its policies, your leaders, or their teachings. "This is persecution," you cry. You don't think about it, you don't analyze it. You conclude it's persecution. This is the language of non-thought.
Once you believe that almost all criticism is a form of persecution, you won't be able to see that you are being manipulated to ignore reality.
If you are struggling to avoid even one negative thought about you group, because that means doubt and doubt is equal to sin in your mind, you will usually overreact to almost all negative information about your group. What if the group labels those who give you that negative information as "the Enemy," or tells you that these persons are persecutors? You can be persuaded to project hatred towards these people and to denounce outside influences. Under these conditions, it is nearly impossible for you to objectively evaluate the dissenting comments. You are on a merry-go-round, and you must get off in order to study the information away from the influence of the group.
But how can you realize you should get away? You've rejected all negative thoughts, thus hampering your striving toward independent judgment about the group.
Picture yourself standing in a group of Christians who are about to be thrown to the lions. Present are other Christians who had fingers or arms cut off or eyes gouged out because they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus. (Note: If you want to read more about the suffering endured by early Christians, see Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History.)
You don't want to be the only one not suffering so you mention that your Christian group has also been persecuted. They all hush in respectful silence. In fear and concern for their brothers and sisters and with chills running up their spines, they ask how you and your Christian friends have been persecuted. You cast your eyes downward and whisper that people criticize your leaders.
There is dead silence. You add that, "Parents have hired people to talk to my Christian friends." The audience doesn't seem to be properly horrified. They appear puzzled and begin to question you. They have been horribly tortured and they are preparing to die for their faith. They are obviously having difficulty understanding why you think your group has been persecuted.
"Have your friends been asked to deny Jesus?" they ask you. You don't know of anyone who was asked to do that. "No, no." you cry, "but there are all these other churches that don't have the correct Biblical beliefs! Some of our disciples have left our Christian group for those dead churches!"
"Do those churches," they ask, "believe that Jesus is God?"
"Well, yes," you reply, "but those other Christian groups are lukewarm because they don't believe in discipling or in rebuking like we do. Our church is on fire and we really care. Those other churches aren't committed to the hilt like ours."
About this time the bedraggled Christians are looking at you a bit oddly. A blind man, clad in rags, gets your attention and asks you, "Do you honestly believe you are being persecuted when no one has tried to force you to deny Jesus Christ?"
Again you mutter that other Christian churches are not as committed and they don't preach the whole truth. They even tell lies about your church.
The blind Christian reminds you that many of his contemporary churches didn't teach the whole truth either. The church of Corinth lived the gospel poorly and the people there were committing all kinds of sins you the Apostle still recognized the Corinthians as brothers and sister in Christ. Paul addresses this troublesome church, which was not following God's commandments, as "the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia" (2 Cor. 1:1)
"But," you tell the blind Christian, "these people are criticizing my leader."
The blind man turns his face toward your voice. "They are verbally criticizing you leader. Excuse me, but it is incredible to me that you think of that as persecution. Not one person has asked you to deny Christ. No one has tortured you! My brother, no one has cut off your arm, starved you, or gouged out your eyes. Do you really think mere words are persecution?"
His empty eyes look you in the face as he says, "Brother, let me tell you the meaning of Christianity. When people criticize you, love them, be kind to them. You are not to think that they are persecuting you when they criticize your church leaders. Peter and Paul were criticized by my brothers and sisters many times, but our mutual respect and love in Christ was never in question!"
Why do controlling groups and cults have to impress upon their members that criticism of leaders is persecution? To more fully control or influence members.
Please think about this short story the next time you hear about how The Enemy is attacking your group, or a leader. Ask yourself, "Is this an attack, or is there something I should know?"