Momentus- Enter At Your Own Risk
Why write this letter concerning Momentus?
First of all, it is my responsibility, as well as that of every believer, to examine doctrine being taught and compare it to God's Word (Acts 17:11) It has been stated that Momentus has nothing to do with doctrine, and nothing to do with the functioning of the body of Christ. However, there are exercises, perspectives and techniques within the class which can strongly influence both doctrine and Christian lifestyle. There is no way around the fact that behind every practice, there are beliefs (doctrine). Since Momentus seems to make quite an impact on people's lives, the doctrines behind it need to be examined with scrutiny. It is the Word of God which is our standard for right believing and living (II Tim. 3:14-17) and it is within the body of Christ that God sets the framework for growth (Eph. 4:11-16). Therefore, to produce genuine spiritual growth, the doctrinal basis for Momentus needs to be in alignment with God's Word, and the principles taught need to be those operative within the body of Christ.
Secondly, I am motivated to examine Momentus because of its impact upon my life. Having no personal or family history of mental illness, I spent four days in a hospital mental health unit after the training. I was admitted because my mind was racing from thought to thought making it very difficult to relax or sleep. I mistook unfounded and never before imagined thoughts concerning my husband, children and others as reality. I literally believed every thought that came into my mind was true. Once at the hospital I was given medication to rest and readjust the chemical imbalance in my brain and soon regained rational thinking processes. The hospital physician termed what I experienced as a single occurrence manic episode (excessive mental excitement). It was determined the episode was brought about by a chemical imbalance in the brain due to the abnormal stress of the Momentus training. I was told by Momentus staff my reaction was an isolated and rare occurrence caused by some big problem in my life I was afraid to face (neither they nor I have any idea what that might be). However, I learned later that two others in my own training experienced very similar extreme symptoms, one winding up in the hospital also. I have since heard of three additional situations where participants ended up in the hospital or attempted suicide following their Momentus training. This is far from being an isolated occurrence and is cause for concern.
Momentus Produces Emotional Trauma More Than Godly Sorrow
To begin, one of my concerns with Momentus is that the trainer and staff assume no responsibility for what occurs with an individual either during or after the training. I believe this attitude to be unscriptural (II Cor. 2:1-11; Eph. 4:15-16, 29-32) and leaves many who take the class adrift in condemnation and mental suffering resulting from the undue emotional and physical stress. I agree there is pain and discomfort in sin and acknowledging sin. The process of repentance is not necessarily a "pleasant" one in terms of what someone may need to go through to turn back to the will of God. However, Momentus goes beyond God's framework in helping others overcome unbelief and spiritual obstacles into something else. The Momentus training's psychological impact is very powerful and can bring about extreme emotional vulnerability and trauma depending upon the individual and how much they "get into" the training. Webster's dictionary defines trauma as: "a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress or physical injury." I'm not saying emotional vulnerability is necessarily wrong, but the trauma that occurs in some people's lives as a result of participating in the training is very much misunderstood by the trainer and staff. Just as they did with me, they attribute any "problems" during the training to the individual participant and totally exclude Momentus from any responsibility.
Godly sorrow and repentance are good and necessary at the appropriate times, but they are not brought about by intimidation, accusations and condemnation-- all of which are used often in Momentus. These are tools the adversary uses against the believer to rob him of his confidence in Christ Jesus. Godly sorrow and repentance are brought about by confrontation with the truth. It is the goodness of God that leads someone to repentance (Rom. 2:4), not pushes them against their will. It is clear from scripture that all Christians filled with goodness and knowledge should engage in confronting with the truth (Col.3:16,Rom. 15:14). This is normal, everyday activity within the body of Christ. In addition, this confrontation is to be an important part of the ministries within the body (Col.1:28).
However, we need humility towards God and other believers to keep from crossing the line from confrontation to condemnation and personal ego. Also, without accountability and responsibility much room is left for mistreatment of people in the course of the four day training. People are very easily influenced in this type of emotional situation which is the very reason why professional psychologists have such a strict code of ethics, standards and responsibility. It is also the reason why so many are leery of psychology. When confessions and admittance of guilt are extracted under conditions of emotional trauma brought about by interrogation processes, what the accused winds up "confessing" is unreliable.
Enter At Your Own Risk
This non-responsibility is also legally stated in the two-page "hold-harmless" agreement which all participants are required to sign within an hour of beginning the training, after reading it for the first time, and after they have already paid the $150 non-refundable fee. It is stated, in the same document, that "deep emotional stress, anxiety, tears, physical discomfort or exhaustion may occur" and that "physical or psychological injury is possible". Furthermore, the document states, you are not to expect the training to be "administered with the standard of care expected of trained mental health professionals," for neither the trainer nor staff are licensed psychiatrists or psychologists. The message is very clear: ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. When I first read this detailed legal document I was quite surprised, but decided the risk wouldn't apply to me since I considered myself by the grace of God a stable and strong individual. (So did my husband and various friends who had participated in Momentus trainings and staff positions, and my class "sponsor" who called and talked to me before the training.) I also believed, naively, that although I had some doctrinal differences with certain aspects of Momentus, whatever happened would be within the principles of God's Word and the body of Christ. However, after experiencing the class, I no longer believe this to be true.
Trainers Lack Responsibility For Their Actions
It is true that each of us is held accountable for our own lives. We are each responsible for the choices we make and the actions we take. However, there is additional responsibility on the shoulders of those who lead, teach or instruct others. Momentus is not responsible for the choices people make, but is responsible for influencing or leading people to make certain choices. The exercises, atmosphere and whole framework of the training is engineered by someone. There is a plan, there is an agenda, and someone is responsible for that agenda. Participants are told, "I request you be coachable for the next four days", "...I ask you to participate 100% and allow yourself to be open to experience your life ...", "...participate as if your life and sanity depends on it". They are asked to trust and not "hold back" and that the training is "God's provision" for their life. "Everything works here. There is no right or wrong way to participate. Show up and play. This is a provision of God". However, the training is set up by men who are responsible before God for it.
What accountability does the trainer have for what occurs in the training room? I saw very little personal accountability, but a very strong message that whatever he said or did was right, and his actions were beyond being questioned. If anyone objected to what was occurring they were instantly belittled or personally attacked. Any perspective other than the trainer's or what the trainer allowed was looked upon as wrong, or unimportant. All that mattered was what the exercises or interchange "revealed" about the participant, not the manner in which it was done. When speaking to an experienced and dedicated Momentus staff member about the discrepancies between how the training was run and how the body of Christ is to function, he replied, "The training has nothing to do with the body of Christ". That is quite an amazing statement. God does not use exercises, but life and walking with Him to reveal what we need to know about ourselves, others and Him. To say that the Momentus training can operated in an ungodly manner outside of the principles of the body of Christ is grave error. God has set up the principles with the body of Christ that are to be followed concerning renewing our minds (Rom.12:1-3, Eph. 4:20-5:2), edifying and encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ (Eph. 4:1-32), admonishing someone if they are overtaken in a fault (Gal. 6:1, II Tim. 2:24-26, I Cor. 4:14, II Thes. 3:15), walking in love and unity (Eph. 4:1-3, I Cor. 13), and the operation of our ministry of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:17-21). In these verses I see kindness, gentleness, meekness, tenderheartedness, humility, patience, lowliness, bearing with one another, speaking the truth in love and very specific instructions on how to confront one another that I many times did not see in the operation of Momentus.
Another point concerning Momentus is how psychological stress is used to involve and motivate people as well as break down their defenses. Some of the psychological exercises very similar if not identical to those used in encounter groups, healing and change-induction groups within the humanistic psychology movement are used as tools to supposedly "allow the Lord to reveal a person's heart". In contrast, in Acts, when God's Word was spoken, those who heard were pierced in their heart and they responded with either believing or unbelief (Acts 2:37, 4:1-4, 5:33, 7:54). The strong emotion evoked by the truth of the Word of God brought about commitment and action in those who heard, either for God or against Him.
However, emotions can be evoked by other methods also. For example, look at how just about any movie, TV show, stirring story or emotionally stirring song can advance someone's agenda of social indoctrination. The message becomes very suggestive even though it may be totally inappropriate, illogical or ungodly. We need to step back from the music, the story, the emotions being stirred and take a good hard look at where we are being led, for we are not to be led by our emotions, but by the word and Spirit of God. Psychological exercises, encounters, searching the past, music and other means common in the field of psychology are very powerful tools used in Momentus to evoke people's emotions, commitment and action. However, we need to carefully look to God's word as our standard for truth as to what is occurring and not just say everything is "OK" because there are "results". The humanistic psychology movement claims results also.
The only true transforming of an individual into the image of Christ takes place when he renews his mind to God's Word. The individual must decide to obey God's Word, motivated by his love for God to do His Will. The more he knows and believes the love God has towards him through the work of His son, Jesus Christ, the more he is motivated to love others (I John 4:15-17). It's knowing God that motivates the action to love. Actions taken outside of this love may look good to another man, but God looks upon the heart. I believe that is what I Corinthians 13 is all about. Our relationship with God comes first and foremost in all that we do or say. God does not simply look at results; the tongues being spoken, the prophecies , the knowledge, the mountains being removed, the giving, (though these are not bad things!). God looks not only at the end product, but how did you get there. What was your motivation? How did you function? What were the means to the end? Where was your heart? You can take the principles of God's Word, utilize them, see results and still not be doing the will of God and in fact be working iniquity. This principle is stated in Matthew 7:21-23:
"Not every one that saith unto Me, 'Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy have cast out devils: and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will profess unto them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.'"
God has set the procedures for fulfilling His purposes. The Word of God time and time again emphasizes the speaking and preaching and teaching of His Word to accomplish that which He has sent it to do (Isaiah 55:8-11, Romans 10:8, 14-17, Heb. 4:12, II Tim. 3:16, Matt. 13:9-23). "He who has ears to hear, let him hear". The Word and Spirit of God speak to us and we by our freedom of will choose whether or not to believe and obey God's Word.
Results are a Poor Test of How Well You've Done God's Will
In contrast, the Momentus training de-emphasizes that it is the Word of God and the power of God working in a man's heart that does the work. Participants are taught to determine what they are committed to cause in people's lives, and then bring it to pass. Self-government is taught as the way to lead what matters to you into existence. You are instructed to look at the impact you have made on people's lives to determine your success. However, if you look at results to determine whether God's will has been done or not, many of God's spokesmen would be termed failures, including Jesus Christ himself. Fruit is produced by abiding in Jesus Christ, not by self-willed or self-governed action. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is filled with accounts of men and women who stood for the truth of God and endured much hardship, afflictions, mocking, beatings, imprisonment, betrayal, temptations, even death, yet were within the will of God. It is God who gives the increase in every situation, not what I am committed to cause. I cannot base whether I am doing God's will or not upon results. My only commitment would be to humble myself to be obedient to His will. If what you are committed to cause becomes more important than doing the will of God, you will find yourself in much compromise and watering down of His Word. We keep His commandments regardless of how it may affect us or others. Look at the effect Jesus Christ had on people the very first time he taught in the synagogue at the beginning of his ministry-- they tried to throw him off a cliff! (Luke 4:28-29) His standard for loving was not how people received him, it was to do the Father's will. He did not seek honor from men, but from God. You cannot believe God yet put your trust in results. God's will will be done, but within His timetable, for He alone is God.
In John 5:39-44 Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me that ye might have life. I receive not honor from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?"
However, this perspective of looking at results for determining love and righteousness does agree with certain teachings of Judaism (which I believe is this instance are contrary to scripture). In the Sept./Oct. 1995 publication "The Restoration", a bi-monthly Jewish periodical from Jerusalem, there is an article entitled "Secrets from the Book of Genesis, Part II". The article discusses differences between Noah and Moses as taught in the Midrash and Talmud:
"... the Midrash concludes that Noah managed to save only himself from the wrath of God and the waters of the flood. Although he was fully aware of what was in store for humanity, he did not have the power to save anyone else. There Moses, who was community-minded, was certainly much greater than him. Moses, because of the results he obtained in leading Israel out of Egypt is said to be much greater than Noah, who was only able to save himself."
In other words, the article is saying that Noah was a failure because of his lack of results. This is faulty logic based upon results rather than simply obeying God. Both men believed God and did His will, but they were in different circumstances and their words brought about different results, according to what God had in mind. Indeed, this strong sense of the righteous being "community minded" is one of the reasons why Jews often reject Jesus as the Messiah (and why they continually rejected the prophets God sent to them). They say, "The state of the world must prove that the messiah has come; ...Don't you think that when the messiah arrives, it should not be necessary for his identity to be subject to debate - for the world should be so drastically changed for the better that it should be absolutely incontestable!" (pg. 5 same publication). They look at the results Jesus did not bring to pass, e.g., cause all the world to turn to God and His teachings, gather the Jewish people from all over the world and bring them home to the Land of Israel, restore the royal dynasty to the descendants of David, etc, and say, "Which of these requirements did Jesus fulfill: and if he is going to fulfill them the second time, why did he not attend to them the first time?" In other words, Jesus did not fulfill what the Jewish community had in mind for their messiah. They base their expectations on Old Testament prophecies, but expect the messiah to immediately bring all to pass. Here we are 2000 years later and there are still prophecies concerning the Messiah that have not yet been fulfilled!
The problem is, God holds the timetable of results in His hand. Jesus did fulfill what God had in mind. Man in his finite knowledge cannot determine what is to happen and when. If Jesus would have been "community-minded" he would not be our Savior but probably would have wound up as one of the false messiahs of the time leading the Jews in some military campaign. However, Jesus not only knew the scriptures, he realized he had to place his life within God's timetable, within God's will. The just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4, Rom 1:17, Heb. 10:38), not results. It is God who gives the increase in His own time. The question is not, "are you getting results?"; but, "are you fulfilling the will of God in your life, walking in His spirit, and obeying His will?"
Intimacy With God Supercedes Intimacy With Others
Finally, the stated purpose of Momentus is "...an opportunity for you to discover and realign the belief systems that govern your life, such that you experience a transformation in your ability to love others as Christ loves you, liberating your conscience to fulfill God's unique purposes for you with freedom, passion and power." The literature also says, "...transformation into the image of Christ is a process of revelation, seeing who He is in whom He loves, which is mankind. Intimacy with each other."
However, God's Word says that we see God by looking to His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). He is the glass that reflects the glory of God (II Cor. 3:18, 4:6). It is by beholding our Savior that we know the Father (John 1:18, 14:6-9). The new covenant accomplished through the blood of Jesus Christ; the sacrifice offered for our sins is what liberates our conscience to fulfill God's unique purpose (which is to serve the living God), as Heb. 9:11-14 and 10:12-24 states. ":Intimacy with each other" is not what Jesus Christ was all about. The essence of his purpose was, "my meat is to do the will of Him who sent me and finish His work". When Jesus said, "I wish that they were one even as we are one" he was speaking concerning unity of purpose concerning the will of God, being sanctified, dedicated or set apart for God's purpose (John 17:11-26). The ministry of reconciliation is not reconciling man to man, but reconciling man to God (II Cor. 5:18-21), which may or may not bring about reconciliation between men. This oneness of purpose with our Lord is what brings about the intimacy of fellowship within the body (Acts 4:24-35, Eph. 4:3-6). The more I walk in fellowship with God, the more I can love my brother. Therefore, how I love my brother is a barometer of my love for God. To grow in love I grow in my relationship with God through His Son. This then overflows into my relationships with people, not vice versa. My love, awe and obedience to God is the motivation to love my neighbor. If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (I John 1:7). The process of being transformed into the image of Christ does not start with intimacy with others, but begins with intimacy with God through our Savior Jesus Christ. It begins with faith and ends in love, as stated in II Peter 1:1-8:
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue; Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
In closing, I would like to reiterate that it is the Word of God which is our standard for right believing and living and it is within the body of Christ that God sets the framework for growth. We cannot step outside of those principles for a 4-day "training," claim it causes some kind of great growth and change in our lives which was not possible or too slow otherwise, then step back into the body of Christ a better believer. Only God's way causes genuine and profitable growth into the image of Christ. There are no shortcuts, and no substitutions. It is a lifetime, daily, moment by moment walk with our Heavenly Father that cannot be duplicated in any other manner.
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