Saturday, February 12, 2005

Exiting the Matrix
X-ers hold a unique place in Christianity. Whether one's background is IBLP or some other Christian subculture that emphasizes individual performance over Christ's grace, we've endured a level of spiritual scarring--a hardening of the soul. Some of us don't make it, and they become the spiritual washouts, the reprobates, the backslidden untouchables. Others of us realize the problem was in the system, and once we exit the system, we begin the rehabilitative process of discovering God's grace for the first time.

But leaving the program is not enough. The residual effect of the indoctrination controls our perception of God in unhealthy ways. Freeing yourself from years of harsh judgment and performance-based Christianity is a messy process; it is often accompanied by rage, substance abuse, moodiness and long nights of inner reflection. Exiting the Matrix is not pretty. At times, our suspicion of systems of thought makes it difficult for us to assimilate truth. Which, of course, provides plenty of ammunition for those still in the Matrix to condemn the X-er. "He has left us because he was not one of us."

God's love is powerful, though, and eventually we discover the joy of a life redeemed by Christ.

For those of us who have unplugged from the system, there's no going back. Supporters of the system label this abandonment as "rebellion," "anger," "pride," and "judgmentalism." If we speak out against the system, we're told to forgive those who have offended us--to go and share how we were damaged. We're advised to move on and get over our hurts. We're frequently told that we're bitter. But you're talking bitterness, and we're talking freedom.

We're told that unity in the Christian world is more important than individual suffering. But since when was the program we left interested in Christian unity? Systematic conformity is more like it.

Our intent is not to judge people, but to judge error. And we make no claims of a special insight into Scripture or a unique connection with God that sets us apart from other believers.

Have we been hurt, misled and damaged? Yes. Are we healing and experiencing God's grace? Yes and yes. That's the ethos of the X-er revolution.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes. i remember vividly that Mr. McWha said (in morning devotions or something), when one or two persons left Indy, "They went out from us, because they were not of us." ---I also remember that being quoted by a father to his 'rebellious' adult offspring. when i say 'adult' i mean older than 25--- In no way am I wanting to say bad things about Mr. McWha, God rest his soul. I am just sort of reminscing here. When he said it, it didn't seem appropriate for the situation at the time.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, when an individual drinks the sweet waters of liberty found in the cup of grace, he will never return to the broken cisterns of bondage, legalism, performance, etc. Christ did not call us to be obsessed with our image before others, but to enjoy fellowship with Him, not worrying about condemnation from God or others if we don't perfectly conform to the standard mandated by headquarters. Robert M. McCheynne said, "For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ." BG has turned that exhortation completely around. Thank God for deliverance from his village.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you said they call us "judgmental." Who's being judgmental? Whether we are or not, they are! Pot calls the kettle black!

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. Food for thought.

8:02 PM  
Blogger MichaelBates said...

I'm not an X-ATI guy, but I am an X-Campus Crusade guy. I deeply appreciate what you are doing with this website, and this entry is particularly excellent.

10:38 PM  
Blogger MichaelBates said...

I've posted some comments on my home page here.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post... I agree stepping out of the "Matrix" and healing is a road that takes time. They have a form of godliness yet deny the power thereof.

4:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was an excellent post, X guy. I have had the unfortunate experience of moving away from the IBLP system and going into a strict reformed setting where there was an entirely new set of thou shalt nots. After excaping that church, barely, by being excommunicated for the sin of recognizing spiritual abuse for what it was and leaving their system....oh my, what a story I have....I have come to realize that people are so much more concerned with systems and rules and laws and heirarchy, lording it over others, than they are about laying down their lives and serving each other. You can find it anywhere...in church systems, in parachurch systems, in families, etc. The truth of the matter is that it is all about relationships...loving God with you heart, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself. Jesus told us that all the law and the prophets hang on this one great truth!
Thanks so much for this site...it is awesome!

4:57 AM  
Blogger Canopy said...

"But you're talking bitterness, and we're talking freedom."

Thanks for this post, I think you're a great contribution to freedom.

But it makes me sad, because I know people who "didn't make it"...

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The worst part of the deal that makes me angry is the ammount of people who wash out and are turned away from God altogether after experiancing a corruption of faith that "ministries" like IBLP/ATI spew. I've been there myself. After I was reborn and taken out of the "Matrix" I had a long period of saying "screw this religion game" and left the church completely. By prayer from others and the grace of God I've returned but I still am sceptical of any ministry that pops up wanting me to join it. I guess these are scars in the back of my head... I'd give my right leg to go back to when I heard so much of the garbage that I was forced to hear that was "fact" and laugh in the face of Mr. G and company..

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree that the scars of an x-er run deep. I have been out of ATI's grip for several years now, but I still cringe whenever someone wants me to join their Christian group. I can't believe how brainwashed I was and I'm very much on guard lest it happen again. If only I could go back and say all of the things I thought but was too afraid to say. They told us if we said anything we weren't trusting God to work through authority and the pressures (i.e. the extreme amount of work that they dumped on us) was "God's way of drawing us closer to Him." How wrong.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessèd will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

I'm really thankful that I can come to JESUS and be free.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like that song (hymn) very much ... "Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I Come", & etc. ... The post before that ("but I still cringe whenever someone wants me to join their Christian group") reminds me of my own resistance to _joining_ any particular church. {Did Jesus say we had to? In His lifetime, did He ever recommend it?}

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Pepper said...

Here is a poem written by Lady Hoshi-I think we've all felt this at one point or another in our lives.

You act one way
Because the public expects it
Expectations that we meet
Just to seem alike
Just to be like clones
You have to act a certain way
To maintain our pride and dignity
The respect of other nations
Not wanting to offend the majority
Not wanting to cause a rebellion
Wanting to seem like a perfect Nation
Where differences can be accepted
And voices are heard
But when you hide behind a mask
Those words are misheard
We hide behind a mask of political correctness
That somewhere along that line it went berserk
Where we have to hide behind a mask
Afraid of what others might see
Afraid to be ourselves
Afraid for our real voice to be heard
Then when you come behind closed doors
Your mask falls off your face
Discarded until the next day
Then true words fall off your lips
Your actual thought
Your actual opinion
The political correctness you preach all day
Has suddenly disappeared
Fear of your view to be heard, has been swept away
The anger that had been hidden beneath the mask
Can be seen on the creases of your brows
The wrinkles that tighten in your skin
The intense look in your eyes
And your fists that clench at your side
The reality of the fake opinion we are suppose to have
Has suddenly registered into your brain
And you realize that when you just go with the flow
You really don’t have a voice
You merely exist
You exist with no meaning
Because you are hidden beneath a mask
A mask of no one
A mask of emptiness

~Pepper~

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forget. Which do I take? the red or the blue pill?

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cried and cried when I read this post... tears of healing and release. My family joined ATI the second year... my whole educational experience and our family life were ATI. Now, as a 20-something adult, I'm going back through everything I was ever taught and realizing that a lot of it was damaging. God is so good and has shown me that His love for me is unconditional, not based on anything I could ever DO, but soley because He is love. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this journey. I'm enjoying your site a ton. Keep it up!

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone else have the discussion with your parents over honor vs. obedience? I ran into this one at age 21 when I was dating my (now) husband. (of course they were opposed to us dating...but that's another story) They told me that honor in the biblical sense of course (!) meant unquestioned obedience even for an adult child....anyone have thoughts on this?

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I never connected my experience with scarring per se, but it makes a lot of sense.

I have difficulty getting involved in my local church, or feeling comfortable in group religious settings.

I'm always picking apart what is said, and forever worried about being "controlled."

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I am an x-ati guy, I grew up in an ati family of 7, it took an almost suicidal depression to make me seek God, the grace He gives is awesome! God isnt Gothard or my Dad waiting to pound you in the dirt if you arent perfect! Yeah I would agree though, there are scars which may never completly heal, But Gods grace is now sufficent for me!

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How ture about the scars. I've been out of it all for 2 years, and by now have even quit going to church. It all seems like brainwashing. And amazingly the most things they said were wrong turned out RIGHT. Now feel completely disoriented and don't know what to believe. would almost rather be an athiest and completely cross off everything that has to do with religion.

I wish they had just used us physically - you know all the work. But they damaged our souls and broke our spirits - don't know if that is restorable at all, or if those scars will remain for life and cause torture whenever you make a decision considered "wrong" by the old system.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How ture about the scars. I've been out of it all for 2 years, and by now have even quit going to church. It all seems like brainwashing. And amazingly the most things they said were wrong turned out RIGHT. Now feel completely disoriented and don't know what to believe. would almost rather be an athiest and completely cross off everything that has to do with religion.

I wish they had just used us physically - you know all the work. But they damaged our souls and broke our spirits - don't know if that is restorable at all, or if those scars will remain for life and cause torture whenever you make a decision considered "wrong" by the old system.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've been out of the "the institute" for several years now. at first, i was hateful and bitter towards everything ati. its taken me a long time to see the grains of truth amongst all the junk. being trapped in a legalistic society with no explanation for obedience is a crummy way to live! the road to heaven is not paved with red notebooks! :o) we have to be discerning, to not just accept everything we're handed. we cannot become a gengeration of lemmings.

6:10 PM  

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