The Frustration of Talking to Hardline Members

When trying to discuss inconsistencies in the doctrines of the hardline Churches of Christ, it becomes frustrating. Many hardline members operate from a condescending attitude: We have the truth, we will never be proved wrong; everyone else is ignorant; if they would only follow our clear logic they would see the truth; they must be dishonest if they cannot see the truth.

The result of this attitude is that the person leaving the Churches of Christ feels misjudged and unheard. The amount of hard work that the leaver puts into the discussion is completely disproportionate to the amount of work the stayers put into the discussion. The leaver carefully thinks out the bible stories that show how the faith plus works doctrine is unbiblical, then combs over his essay repeatedly, correcting and polishing. Only to find a hardline stayer writing slapdash stream-of-thought replies that start out: “I am so glad you are willing to reason with the scriptures. We need to speak where the Bible speaks…” and ends with, “you are ignoring biblical authority, spitting in the face of God, and will pay for it in eternity.”

But stop for a minute and look at what is motivating that condescension. Condescension is always motivated by low self-esteem. The staunchest members have the most to lose by changing their understanding of God. They have found a way to be important. They may have been slapped around and knocked into obedience by their parents, made fun of for crying as children and told their opinions were stupid, but spiritually they are superior to every other church in town. Do you really expect you can take that away from them so easily?


About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
This entry was posted in Manipulation, Psychology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Frustration of Talking to Hardline Members

  1. Abnaxus says:

    I think what motivates condescension is often self-righteousness. And what creates self-righteousness is over-confidence (in something that can’t be proven with clear facts). A lot of members wouldn’t know what the Council of Nicea was or what they did. They just accept what they heard from the pulpit because the preacher listed a verse (which is vague, of course, and open to many interpretations/conclusions) and it ‘made sense’.

    The many churches of Christ I’ve been to practice spiritual abuse of some sort (backed up by some verse). Folks who have left or are considering leaving could benefit from going to ex church of christ dot com. Click on Personalities for some eye opening, yet familiar, descriptions of the personality disorders or types that come with churches like this. Click on ‘Spiritual Abuse’ to recognize the tactics (which may or may not be intentional – I always try to keep that in mind, esp when upset after interacting with them). On the right side of that page is a link to a forum where people can get support (by reading others’ stories or asking for help). Leaving is a big deal, especially if a large number of your friends/family were raised in it as well. It can create high anxiety and a crisis inside when you are ready to escape. G’day and Peace!

  2. garycummings says:

    Spiritual PTSD is a reality. I suffered from it for quite some time after leaving the COC in 1971. I had been in the Churches of Christ since 1965. So form 1971 till 1991, I had an ongoing battle with spiritual PTSD due to my time with the COC. Surviving spiritual abude is like surviving rape. The two have a lot in common. Rape is without consent, it is forced, and it is about power. I believe that spiritual abusers are spiritual rapists.

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