The Cult by John L.  Neel

I joined the cult back in 1974.

Having just become a believer, I began visiting churches throughout the Birmingham area, frantically looking for someone who would tell me what I needed to do and be as a Christian.  I was given a book by a good friend from a pastor out in Houston Texas.  It was amazing.  The Pastor was a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel.  His teachings were strong, serious, and patriotic.

In this little book, I saw a patterned and straightforward way of instruction.  It was a studious way of learning about Christianity.  There were tapes I could order, though on real-to-real, only.  They were FREE! I saved and bought myself a player at Radio Shack and began ordering and listening to tapes.  I began with the Basics series.  I became a “Taper.”

In this “Classroom of Christianity” I began learning "Doctrinal Thinking." I began building a specialized vocabulary, special Doctrines that only the “Doctrinal” or “Grace Believer” knew or, we were taught, could even understand.  We were taught in a special process called “ICE” teaching, Isagogics, Exegesis, and Categories...the only way you could truly know what the Bible was saying.  Isagogics was the study of the bible in it's “historical” context.  Exegesis was the word-for-word “translation” from the original language by self-professed experts in those languages.  Categories dealt with the whole of the bible on any given subject.

We were kept in line with scary words and terms like Carnality, Divine Discipline, Reversionism, Reverse Process Reversionism, and the final straw-The SIN UNTO DEATH!

Don't get out of fellowship! Confess! Or God will kill your ass.

We were told we were Special...the Pivot.  So goes the Pivot, so goes America.  Those not in the Pivot, those not in ICE Teaching were not, could not be, Grace Believers.  They were either Apostate or “Reversionists.”

I became Proud and Exclusive...argumentative...a zealot.  I was smart and dangerous.

I was introduced to a group of people who were meeting out in Tarrant City, listening to a young guy, an acolyte for the Colonel, teaching in the same ICE manner.  THIS was for what I had been looking for so long... ”Face-to-Face, “Pros plus the Accusative”, Teaching! Around this young man, a small group of college kids, young couples, and an older taper's group formed a church.

We took it slowly, this Forming of our Church.  We studied what a local church “Should Be” before implementing any system or group.  The Pastor-Teacher was the head of the local church, answerable only to God.  There were to be Deacons for administration.  There were special Spiritual Gifts given at the point of Salvation, for the service of the body of believers.  Through all of this we studied, believed, applied Bible Doctrine...under a divine system for perception.  We learned a special language, became more convinced of our special and exclusive position with God.

Happily, two years down the road, I decided to join the Army.  Service was highly encouraged in the church and I was told that I would have a great ministry there and when I returned, I would be a great leader in the church.

Of all the good things the service did for me the greatest was geographical separation from this group.

Every time I had Leave from the Army, I ran back.  Every time I came back, I was shocked at the changes in people and the place.  I was an outsider, treated with suspicion.  People asked me how my spiritual life was going? Was I studying every day? Did I find it hard to stay “spiritual” among all my heathen soldiers? Had I found an ICE church or Taper's group? They were all in my business and invaded my privacy in every conversation.  Many wanted to argue about the state of the Army or about places I had been.  People were In-The-Know there.  They had insider information.  They lived in a bubble.

My trips home to see Mom, Dad, and my Brothers never stopped, but my attendance at this place began to wane more and more each trip.  My last two times I went back to the place was when my parents-in-law passed away.  Though these people honored my wife's parents, their distaste for me was evident.  They actually looked scared of me, an OUTSIDER.

I will never darken the doors of the place again.

There are a lot of things I have to thank this place for: I came to believe in the need in my life for Military Training and found my life's calling.  I met my wife there.  Through her, I continued a great relationship with her mom and dad who were pillars of that church.  I met my two best friends there, though they, too have left the church.  And...I still adore the Pastor.  He is a fine man, but, as we all are, aging, and he has lost what promised to be an amazing ministry to the arrogance, pride, and zeal of the congregation.

So Goes the Pivot, So Goes America.

John is out of fellowship.

Intellectual Property Statement: Most everything on this site is mine.  When I use someone else's stuff, I always try to give them credit.  If you decide to use anything on this website, please do the same.  Don't be an asshole.
Home About Journal Stories Photos Family People Contact