George Geftakys taught that the Assembly was superior to other churches, because it was an expression of the "Heavenly Vision." Events have shown that the Assemby was far from superior. G. Geftakys' excommunication from the group revealed major problems in the Assembly, in both teaching and practice.
For an alphabetical list of all articles on this topic see the Index of Assembly Teaching and Practice Articles.
Most evangelical Christians would agree that the following teachings contradict the Bible:
- Christians who are not "overcomers" will not be part of the Bride of Christ, will be hurt of the second death and be cast into outer darkness. This fear promotes a performance-based Christian life.
- Leaving the Assembly is synonymous with leaving Christ.
- Adam was created on the seventh day.
- Christ was not human, but superhuman (a teaching introduced by Timothy Geftakys).
- Christians will be resurrected (raptured) by rank according to their works and some believers will be left behind.
- According to their rank, there will be varying levels of the saved in eternity: some will be sons who will reign with Christ, some will be part of the Bride, some will be shut out of the marriage feast of the Lamb, some separated from His presence forever.
- In addition, rewards in heaven are confused with our inheritance in Christ (the birthright of the believer). The mistaken motivation also results in a performance-based Christian life.
Aberrant Assembly Practices
These practices are distortions of Biblical truth:
- The office of "Leading Brother" has been created, and the Biblical office of deacon ignored.
- The concepts of self and the flesh have been magnified into a huge preoccupation, with the result that people constantly look inward instead of looking outward to Christ, and the inward perception of God is as a harsh judge, rather than a loving Father.
- The purpose of the Word has been diverted from being the source of objective truth, to being the source of subjective mystical guidance -- head knowledge versus heart knowledge.
These practices are extra-Biblical and tend in a cultic direction
- Unbiblical extension of authority, with power centered in leaders who are not accountable to the church, but to one man, who was completely unaccountable to anyone.
- A high degree of authoritarian control over many aspects of people's private lives; a list of legalistic rules, covering everything from dating to earrings to which car to buy.
- An unhealthy fostering of dependence on the leadership for major and minor life decisions, based on the belief that the leaders have the mind of Christ and must protect people from themselves, as well as from the outside world.
- A pyramid structure, with "the sheep" required to be subject to those above them, to imitate them, and to serve them as service offered to the Lord.
- The use of intimidation and coercion: "consequences", loss of privileges, labeling, public character assassination, shunning, threat of eternal loss.
- A totalistic life-style in which members' entire lives, apart from their jobs, were completely preoccupied with participating in and serving the group -- "available for anything".
- An elitist and suspicious stance toward other Christians except those long dead, resulting in isolation from the wider body of Christ.
- Isolation from relatives and friends who are not in the group, and from society.
- Isolation from outside ideas and information -- television, unapproved books and websites, contact with former members.
- Secrecy and unaccountability regarding finances.
It is important for people who have left to become informed on these issues, and not just walk away hoping these things will sort themselves out. Unexamined assembly beliefs will hinder recovery.
The article, Moving from Christian to Cultic, by Dave Breese of Youth For Christ, suggests certain tendencies that show a direction of movement away from Christian thought and behavior to cultic thought and behavior. The Assemblies that are still meeting should carefully consider the following:
We move from Christian to cultic when we make costly what God has made free.
We move from Christian to cultic when we confuse what God has made plain.
We move from Christian to cultic when we try to make visible what God has made invisible.
We move from Christian to cultic when we enslave whom God has made free.
We move from Christian to cultic when servants become messiahs.
We move from Christian to cultic when we coerce whom God invites.
We move from Christian to cultic when we trade thinking for feeling.
We move from Christian to cultic when we offer on earth what God promises only in heaven.
Examples of this kind of movement in the Assembly over time are George's introduction of the teaching that not all believers will be part of the Bride of Christ. This made costly what God freely gives us in salvation. The teaching that Adam was created on the seventh day confused what God has made plain. Although G. Geftakys deplored creeds, confessions and formal statements of faith, they have been a bulwark of the church to prevent such "creative theology."
The New England Institute of Religious Research uses the word "aberrant" to describe Bible-based groups with problems such as Breese enumerates.. The Institute concludes that these problems stem from an undue emphasis on minor doctrines and a tendency toward spiritual totalitarianism.
The Institute lists "transitional" as one of the eight distinctives of an aberrational Christian group:"Doctrines and practices tend to mutate further and further from healthy belief and expressions. Aberrational groups are never static but tend to devolve theologically. Many begin fairly orthodox, but over time become heretical in major doctrines. The practices and rituals of aberrational groups also tend to take on divine authority. Practices that were optional or conditional in the beginning become absolute standards whereby commitment and spirituality are measured. "
The rules multiplied, enslaving those whom God made free. For example, all-nights of prayer were established after several years, and attendance was required--coercion trumping invitation. Although the Assembly began with many hippies, after a few years short hair and shirts and ties were required for men, long hair and no earrings for women, etc.
This is a brief overview of problems with Assembly teaching, practice and tendencies. Many articles examining these issues in depth can be found in the Assembly Teaching and Practice section of the website. Anyone thinking about joining one of these groups, and those evaluating whether to remain "in fellowship", should look for answers to some important questions.