THE CES CRISIS AND PERSONAL PROPHECY
The Board of Directors of Christian Educational Services (CES)/ Spirit of Truth Fellowship International (STF) removed Mark Graeser from the post of President January, 2007 (reported by Greasespotcafe.com). The dramatic move followed months of controversy in the group, which is the largest splinter group of The Way International.
Graeser filed a lawsuit for defamation of character against several CES leaders including Jeff Blackburn, Dan Gallagher, John Lynn and Gary and Karen Theisen. John Schoenheit was appointed the new president (reported by Greasespotcafe).
The controversy gives insight into the practices and doctrine of CES and its newer offshoot STF, which was designed to establish CES as a full service church rather than as just an educational agency.
The CES controversy revolved around two main situations.
The first situation involved the efforts of some CES leaders to censure Elizabeth Lynn, the new wife of John Lynn who has been the main public face of CES. The second involved actions of President Graeser, who fired or prompted at least four CES staff members to resign. Graeser's wife Karen Anne who was regarded as CES's most influential prophet was the central character in both of these situations.
Greasespotcafe was the forum in which details of the controversy were published, both through posts on its forum (some of whom were active in CES at the time) and through CES documents posted on the site. The documents included:
+ a letter from Elizabeth Lynn to John Lynn dated December 2005, 17 pages
+ a report to CES Board of Directors by Prophetic Council Coordinators Tom and Susan Resner, April 22, 2003 which detailed scores of prophecies which were directed against Elizabeth Lynn, 5 pages
+ a letter by John Lynn addressed "To Whom it May Concern" which described his view and response to the overall situation, 10 pages, dated Dec. 26, 2006
+ a letter by Graeser to the CES board "Why I Cannot in Good Conscience take a Leave of Absence or Resign as President at this time and Under These Circumstances" written soon after September 25, 2006, 13 pages
+ a letter to four members of the CES Board from Mark & Karen Anne Graeser, Tom and Susan Resner and Nancy Berwid who identified themselves as the "clergy Majority" since they are five of the nine STF clergy, dated December 10, 2006, 28 pages
Everyone in the controversy, and especially the Graesers, generated a lot of paper in detailing their positions.
The two sides were clearly defined: "the Board Majority" who opposed Graeser's continuation as president, composed of John Schoenheit, Dan Gallagher, Gary and Karen Theisen (and John Lynn, though he is no longer part of the board); and "the Clergy Majority" composed of Mark & Karen Anne Graeser, Tom and Susan Resner and Nancy Berwid. But the real lightening rod in the crisis is Karen Anne.
THE DIVORCE OF ELIZABETH AND JOHN LYNN
This article will not address the divorce of the Lynns itself, which is a personal matter. (Elizabeth Lynn's letter indirectly suggests that there may have been more to the divorce than the meddling of CES prophets, as least from her husband's perspective.) However, Elizabeth Lynn herself made it public, and people examined it because it prompted much of the CES crisis and gives many insights into the beliefs and practices of CES. It includes some of CES's unique terminology for its practices, which are defined in the glossary at the end of this article.
Elizabeth Lynn blames her divorce primarily on the meddling of Karen Anne Graeser, who used her "prophecies" from the Lord to drive a wedge between John and her. Elizabeth says that the trouble began when she confronted Karen Anne for gossip at a CES board meeting in January 2003, only months after her marriage. She says that Karen Anne saw this as a threat and mounted a campaign of vicious attacks against her, which was a radical reversal because Karen Anne previously approved of their marriage by words and personal prophecy.
Parts of the letter sound like a down and dirty "catfight" between the two women, dressed up in pristine garments of "prophecy" and "ministry." But it is clear that Elizabeth believes Karen Anne's "prophecies" are ungodly, manipulative, in no way revelations from God, and intended to either subdue her or destroy her marriage. When she did not submit to Karen Anne the prophetess, Karen Anne manipulated John into divorcing her after being married only a year and a half.
Elizabeth apparently believes that prophecy was used as a wedge to force John Lynn to choose obedience to leadership over the marriage vows he made to his wife.
Elizabeth Lynn's letter details the mechanisms some CES prophets and leaders used to subdue and manipulate her (and John):
+ "accountability"-- this concept was used to censure Elizabeth for resisting the actions of some CES leaders. Leaders made "Accountability" phone calls to people leaders wanted to submit to them
+ letters were sent to CES fellowships which detailed the errors of Elizabeth Lynn in order to "protect the ministry"
+ leaders kept written prophecies from being seen by people who leaders think may disapprove- using secrecy as a tool of control
+ efforts to isolate her because she didn't submit to them
+ she was not allowed to question visions and prophecies which were approved by the Prophetic Council
+ a letter detailing Elizabeth Lynn's sins
+ they discredited people who did not submit to leadership
+ they threatened the jobs of some CES staff
+ many prophecies were collected and approved by Prophetic Council which censured her
These manipulative and self-serving tools of control destroyed Elizabeth's reputation in the eyes of hundreds of CES followers who looked to the CES prophets and president for leadership and examples of godly treatment of people. There are many parallels between this and The Way International's practice of claiming that individuals had devil spirits and stamping them "mark and avoid." They are also inconsistent with the STF Code of Conduct, number 3, "I will not be party to character assassination..." (STF web site).
KAREN ANNE GRAESER, CHIEF PROPHETESS
Why is Karen Anne at the root of the CES crisis? She and the "clergy majority" single out Karen Anne as the primary voice of the Lord for STF. The clergy letter (p. 11) describes three categories of prophets: Tier Three, the lowest tier, of prophets with less than five years' experience; Tier Two: developing prophets, not ordained; and Tier One: mature, ordained prophets which are the most credible. Only three people qualify for this highest tier- Karen Anne, and Tom and Susan Resner, all of whom are Graeser backers.
The letter singles out Karen Anne as the most credible of them all. She more than any "can see far ahead and speak true words from the Lord.... She is twice seen wielding a big sword, with fire coming out of her mouth. She is seen as a strong prophetic voice that brings judgement- not her own but the Lord's." Those who disagree with her prophecies are part of "a demonic assault on Karen Anne to shut down her voice" (p. 14).
Note that the clergy letter compares this image of Karen Anne to the image of Jesus Christ in Revelation 19:15, which most Christians would find blasphemous rather than affirming.
In her prophecies her husband "Mark is likened to David with a symbol of leadership" (p. 12). It doesn't take much imagination to then liken those who want Mark to step down as president to Absalom, who died trying to usurp David's office.
John Lynn's letter sounds like the voice of mediation (though the Graesers wouldn't agree). He credits Karen Anne as having had a strong and true prophetic voice. But then Lynn adds that her voice "has now become a weakness... meddling... relentlessly pushing her own agendas, and sowing seeds of division..." (P. 3).
THE CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECIES
The documents cited above describe scores of prophecies in detail. The Prophetic Council describes 26 prophecies directed against Elizabeth Lynn. The Clergy Majority letter describes at least 26 prophetic themes representing at least that many prophecies. These give us a picture of the character of the prophecies which are regarded as credible by the Prophetic Council and the First Tier Prophets.
Many of these are bitter, graphic, vitriolic attacks on individuals who the prophets consider to be resisting the leadership of the Graesers. They use graphic imagery to describe the sinful and evil nature of their critics. For example, the prophets described Elizabeth Lynn this way:
+ Elizabeth having a demon looking like a large slovenly bum with a large, nasty dog
+ Elizabeth's demon was a home intruder
+ a black widow spider crawling out of Elizabeth's nose and the words 'She devours those who love her'
+ Elizabeth appearing as a flirtatious woman seductively dressed
+ ... the back of her head turns into he face of a demon
+ there are worms or maggots in her hair
+ the word murder or murderous kept coming up
+ shooting up heroin... a woman of the night
+ Elizabeth is a spoiled child who has been allowed to indulge in temper tantrums
(Quoted from the letter of the Prophetic Council Coordinators to the BOD, April 22, 2003)
The overall effect of these prophecies was to batter Elizabeth, who was viewed as being opposed to the Graesers. The prophecies caused (not just revealed) shame, guilt, murderousness and hate, not solved them.
There is overwhelming condemnation, and grace or transformation is little in evidence.
Conspicuously absent from the prophecies are Biblical themes such as gentleness to the weak (Hebrews 12:12-13- "weak knees" and Isaiah 42:1-3- "not snuff a smoldering wick") and Jesus Christ's invitation in Matthew 11:28 "come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."
The prophecies are very similar to Chris Geer's "Passing of a Patriarch" which condemned all TWI leaders (other than Geer), which was also used to gain political power.
The Prophetic Council's summary of the prophecies against Elizabeth Lynn sometimes read like horoscopes with qualifications: "things are gong to get progressively darker..." "There is coming or may be a separation..." "There may need to be some outside help..." These sound more like self-fulfilling prophecies than like divine revelation.
POLITICAL POWER AND PROPHECY
Mark Graeser certainly used political power to exert his will and carry out Karen Anne's prophecies. Graeser fired (or prompted to resign) at last four people who had been CES staff, including the CEO Dan Gallagher, Jeff Blackburn, Rachel Collum Darr (all fired) and Matthew Johnson (resigned).
Prophecies given by Karen Anne and others were often directed against board members who opposed Graeser. For example, Graeser wrote, "... there are other clergy whose character and behavior should be evaluated in the process- even possibly found disqualified for ministry for a while. Dan, John, Gary and Karen have all had serious character issues revealed during this ordeal, both prophetically and experientially" (p. 8) and mentioned other "prophetic warnings" against board actions (p. 2).
While the Graesers may not recognize it, they were running and promoting a theocracy.
Graeser noted that when he described a prophetic dream he had about Gallagher, John Schoenheit said Graeser was "using prophecy like a club" (p. 3). Prophets used prophecies to instruct BOD on how to handle personnel and followers. The goal of prophecy was to "protect the ministry," but in practice it was actually used as a lever to protect the power of incumbent leaders. When prophecy drove away Elizabeth Lynn this was actually a political success, since some leaders saw her as a threat.
Ironically, CES seemed to have predicted this in their book Prophecy: Understanding and Utilizing the Manifestation of Prophecy. The chapter "The Gift Ministry of a Prophet" chided people for not constantly looking to prophets for direction in every situation in their lives, saying "Are we afraid that bold prophets would be dictators?" Perhaps if the CES board was more wary of prophets like Karen Anne becoming dictators, the crisis would not have mushroomed as it did.
While all this came to a head in 2006, the roots of it go back several years before. Other CES supporters left, or were pressured to leave in recent years. For example, two couples who were advisors to the board, Dave and Sue Carlson and Don and Laura Stone, were pressured to leave CES.
Theologically the crisis can be traced even further back- to 2000 when Mark Graeser attended an Advanced Deliverance Seminar and to1993 when Karen Anne and the board attended basic and advanced training in personal prophecy with Christian International. Both of these practices have done a lot of personal damage to individuals over the years, of whom Elizabeth Lynn is the most public example.
It is ironic that CES began partly as a reaction to the authoritarianism of The Way International-- yet it is just as authoritarian as TWI was. CES is run by the six member Board of Directors (BOD) much like TWI was run by the three (now five) member Board of Trustees. The BOD is not elected by CES members and is accountable to no one.
When Graeser was president he used his bureaucratic authority to fire staff he thought were a hindrance. He also used prophetical counsel and personal prophecies to exercise authority over individuals. They used the term "multitude of counselors" from the Old Testament to rationalize allowing power to be wielded by a small clique of only a half dozen people. It is hard to imagine how five or six could be considered a "multitude."
Graeser's house cleaning is much like the housecleaning TWI founder V.P. Wierwille did just after he started the first Way Corps. Wierwille decided that the love of God did not work, and he had to "put teeth into the ministry." He eliminated the first Way Corps and prominent early leaders such as Peter Wade, Steve Heefner and Dave Anderson. He introduced the "Way Tree" as a means to impose his control on everyone in TWI. Although Wierwille did not use personal prophecy as the Graesers do, he still claimed to work by divine revelation. He claimed God spoke to him audibly and told him he would teach the Word as it had not been known since the first century, and Wierwille said he taught the first Power for Abundant Living classes "by revelation."
CES involvement in MOMENTUS, a Large Group Awareness Training (other LGATs include est and Lifespring) also influenced how CES worked and how its leaders interacted. They acquired concepts rooted in pop psychology such as "boundaries" and "consequences" to manipulate people. Confrontation was also a key feature of Momentus and CES (Elizabeth Lynn says John Lynn called it "spiritual aggression"). Leaders also used the Momentus concept of "victim mentality" to pressure people to change behavior.
Both sides admit the problem of "dueling prophecies." Mark Graeser criticized the Board because "The Board Majority has devalued the prophetic input based on concerns about 'dueling prophecies...'" (p. 9). Lynn wrote, "...there are many prophetic words about his situation that have come in from various people during the past seven months, one group of which is obviously false, or at least off track, because they are pretty much the opposite of the words in the other group" (p. 3).
How do they deal with this problem of dueling prophecies? The Graeser faction dismisses opposition prophecies in two ways. First, they claim that the top tier of prophets are the most credible- and only Graeser supporters are in the top tier. Second, they claim that the great majority of prophecies sent in from CES supporters around the country back the Graesers. Mark Graeser wrote, "The Board Majority has submitted only two or three examples of prophetic material supporting their perspective, while there are over one hundred prophetic images from people all over our community, which do not support and even warn against the Board majority's actions" (p. 9). So the Graeser clan claims both quantity and quality.
Lynn on the other hand believes they can make "a rational judgement" based on Jesus words that "by their fruits you shall know them." He dismisses the Graeser prophecies because "the fruit in their lives has badly deteriorated in the past seven months." Lynn states that several faithful STF staff members were adversely affected by the Graesers and that Karen Anne "exerted undue and harmful influence" (p. 3). This included "a lengthy litany of incidents... involve the Graesers desperately posturing and maneuvering, distorting the facts, manipulating people, name calling, attacking other persons involved, refusing to be accountable..." (p. 6).
From a Biblical perspective, quantity of prophecy means nothing. In fact, prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah were vastly outnumbered by false prophets and false prophecies.
But bringing personal prophecy into the CES power struggle raises the stakes because opposing the other side means that they are opposing the Lord himself, who has put his stamp of approval on them via prophecy.
PROBLEMS WITH PERSONAL PROPHECY
There are several problems with STF's practice of personal prophecy from both the practical and theological perspective. The root of its bad practice is bad theology.
CES's practice of personal prophecy teaches or assumes several problematic things:
First, it assumes that personal prophecy amounts to divine inspiration of the prophets, and that this inspiration is practiced by every believer who wants to. In practice, they assume that every person is or can be a prophet, and every impression or dream a prophecy. Second, it assumes that demonic spirits are rampant in the lives of believers, and that personal prophecy identifies both the demons and those who are afflicted with them.
Third, personal prophecy assumes that believers must submit to the prophets on personal, spiritual and relationship matters. In practice, if not in teaching, the prophet is the intermediary between the believers and God. Submitting to the words of the prophet is submitting to the word of the Lord. There is no clear distinction, as least in the eyes of the prophet. Like a Roman Catholic Priest, the STF prophet stands in the place of God speaking for him and acknowledging the believers' submission. This is in stark contrast to the book of Hebrews, which states that Christ himself is the mediator, not a human prophet.
Fourth, STF frequently uses personal prophecy as a means of exposing sin in individuals and inducing them to submit to leadership. The practice is conspicuously absent from the New Testament.
The church at Corinth would have been the ideal setting for personal prophecy to be used to censure erring Christians. Yet, personal prophecy is glaringly absent from Paul's epistles to Corinth, even though Paul himself received revelations from God, and some of his traveling companions such as Silas are called prophets.
Paul mentioned factions among the Corinthians (some follow Paul, some Cephas, etc), yet he never once mentioned a prophecy directed at anyone in the factions, telling them to stop. Paul spoke against incest, promiscuity and use of prostitutes, but never described visions of individuals with spiders in their home, fungus under their nails, seductions, skirts hiked above their waists or their faces turning into faces of demons- all of which were used by CES's Prophetic Council to describe Elizabeth Lynn, even though she was never accused of incest or adultery.
Paul's letter never evoked personal prophecy to advocate removal of certain elders from office, to defend some embattled elders who stood for the truth, (as CES prophecies did for the CES president and CEO) or to warn any that they would be "taken out" if they continued on their present course. Paul didn't single out any drunks at the Lord's Supper or use prophecy to persuade any individual to undergo a deliverance session, as Elizabeth Lynn had been.
Paul said that "there must be heresies among you" (1 Cor 11:19) but doesn't identify any individuals by prophecy.
Paul did not cite hundreds of personal prophecies from churches around the Mediterranean which were directed at individuals or the situation at Corinth, as the Prophetical Council did regarding Elizabeth Lynn and the Board of Directors.
CES letters and reports are literally stuffed with personal prophecies, yet Acts and the epistles scarcely mention any, and never include the critical, threatening and demonic imagery prevalent in CES prophecies (even though the NT covers a 20 year span). CES has taken an almost unknown practice in the NT and expanded and given it purposes and prevalence never found in the New Testament..
Fifth, personal prophecy is a jackpot for people who love to boss other people around. We all know such people (and maybe you are such people?). Personal prophecy gives busybodies and opinionated people ammunition, because they present it not as advice or as meddling, but as revelation straight from the Lord. When you team "revelation" with the model of confrontation and manipulation seen in Momentus and the supposedly sanctified desire to transform other people, you have a volatile and often very harmful mix.
Sixth, personal prophecy fosters a bad relationship between leaders and the people they are supposed to serve. The book states that personal prophecy is given to build relationships (chapter, "Some Basics of Prophecy"), yet for several years now they have destroyed hundreds of relationships in CES. "Prophets" can easily puff up with pride because they are getting revelation from God. This is increased even more by the awe of their followers who put prophets on a pedestal because they speak the words of the Lord, not their own words. In practice (though not on paper) it becomes almost impossible to correct an erring prophet. To disagree with or disobey them is to contend with God himself.
FOUR FATAL FLAWS OF PERSONAL PROPHECY
CES's book Prophecy: Understanding and Utilizing the Manifestation of Prophecy is a tidy study of prophecy in the Bible. But it is the application of four unproven assumptions which prompted the CES crisis. The CES concept of personal prophecy does not take into account the weaknesses of human nature. John Lynn was quick to defend CES's practice of personal prophecy and referred to the CES book, though it would have been wiser to instead re-evaluate it because it not only failed, but also prompted this crisis. The book gives the convenient out, asserting that almost all personal prophecy is conditional, making it very hard to demonstrate that any prophecies were actually wrong.
The first weakness of human nature is that we want to hear the supernatural voice of God. People hunger for the supernatural, which leads to frantic search for it wherever it may be found- in occultic practices - or in Christian ones. Like Herod who wanted to see Jesus do a miracle, and rejected Jesus when he did not (Luke 23:8-9), we want to see miracles too. The CES book admits that humans have this hunger, but rather than reveal this motive as a weakness, they try to satiate it through personal prophecy.
We want God to tell us what to do because we want to please him- but also for less godly reasons. It is easier to get a quick prophecy than to depend on God through the foggy parts of life which test our faith and keep us dependent on Him. While CES mentions that sometimes revelation is purposely unclear so that we can deepen our relationship with God, it never occurs to them that this is one reason God doesn't follow us around ready to give us a personal prophecy whenever we seek one (chapter "The Gift Ministry of a Prophet").
A quick personal prophecy also hinders us from developing judgement and the discernment needed to apply God's Word to trying situations. It's easier to function like a six year old, saying "Daddy, what should I do," than like a mature adult who applies God's principles wisely. In fact, many who obeyed personal prophecies have sidestepped taking responsibility for their lives. When God delegated the care of the earth to Adam and Eve, presumably he didn't follow them around, giving them specific instruction through personal prophecy for every situation that arose. Free will is not just the ability to obey or disobey God's revelations, but also developing the process of applying this will.
Perhaps some in CES are also unconsciously trying to replicate the alleged experience of The Way's founder V. P. Wierwille who said his ministry was launched when he heard God's audible voice. With personal prophecy, everyone in CES can hear God's audible voice through their personal prophets.
The second human weakness, or should we say sin, is that we do not just want to hear the voice of God, but we want to be the voice of God. Like "Simon the Great Power" who asked the apostle Peter, "Give me also this power" (Acts 8:19), we also hunger to exercise supernatural power. This is the drive behind the popularity of occult practices. People want the feeling of power, of inside knowledge, of revelation. We see this as a sin in non-Christian circles, but is CES indirectly fostering this in their own? "Every Christian can hear from the Lord, and should push himself to do so," they write in the chapter "The Gift Ministry of a Prophet," but pushing people out of a reluctance to speak for God also fosters a sinful hunger for power. Better the reluctant prophet like Moses and Jeremiah than the anxious "prophets" of our day.
There are also two fatal theological flaws in personal prophecy. The first is that everyone can be trained to give personal prophecy (not just ordinary prophecy, which CES claims is different). This continues The Way International's teaching "all nine all the time," which asserts that every Christian can be trained to practice every "manifestation of holy spirit," including prophecy. This contradicts the foundational New Testament teaching that Christians have different gifts (Greek- charismata) or manifestations (Greek- phaneros). The apostle could have illustrated his teaching as The Way did, with a workman who uses different tools, but that would have been in error. Instead he uses the illustration of the body, in which each member has a different function. If everyone did all nine all the time, all the members would be the same rather than different.
The TWI and CES emphasis on training prophets also fosters error. As the chapter "The Christian and the Manifestation of Prophecy" says, "the whole Church can prophesy if they want to and are taught how to bring it forth (emphasis mine)." Prophecy without training is rare, they say. While they note an Old Testament incidence of a company of prophets, they assume this includes a CES-style training, something the Bible never describes or asserts. The chapter also subtly changes the meaning of Paul's statement "I would rather have you prophesy..." (1 Cor. 14:5) to "God wants every believer to prophesy." This changes the subject from Paul to God, and the context from desiring greater gifts to demanding that everyone learns to do all the gifts.
It's a lot easier to teach people to "prophesy" than to do miracles or healings, because it's easier to show that a healing did not take place than to prove that an alleged revelation from God is just a human production. The open secret among ex-members (who are more open about talking about their practice of the manifestations than current members) is that they recognize that they often "manufactured" prophecies according to the standard Way model, and that other people's prophecies sounded manufactured as well. This is what training does- it teaches people to duplicate an acceptable pattern.
A fourth fatal error of CES's version of personal prophecy is the assumption that everyone should seek - not just be willing to receive- personal prophecy. The chapter "The Gift Ministry of a Prophet" states "we in the church should be encouraging the prophets and looking to them to help us get direction from the Lord in our lives." Seeking prophecy puts pressure on other Christians to produce the prophecies, which leads to many prophecies in the "flesh" (of human manufacture) or from a demon. (The CES book asserts that even godly, well-meaning Christians may give revelation that is given to them by demons, not God. But this doesn't seem to have produced the wariness toward personal prophecy that it should have; chapter "Some Basics About Prophecy.") Although CES emphasizes that the current "Grace Administration" (an ultradispensationalism teaching also acquired from TWI) is radically different from the Old Testament, the CES chart of Biblical people who sought personal prophecies very conspicuously includes no New Testament examples (chapter "The Gift Ministry of a Prophet"). The insistence that everyone seek personal prophecy has predictable results- believers gather around one who seeks prophecy, and on command they say anything they want off the top of their head, claiming it is revelation from God.
These four fatal flaws of CES/STF's teaching on personal prophecy are the roots of this crisis, which is bound to repeat itself if the teaching is not changed. The crisis is the result of CES teaching on personal prophecy, not an anomaly.
WHY LEADERSHIP CRISIS HURTS EVERYBODY
This CES power struggle is very damaging to the rank and file CES follower. They key personalities in the fight are not renegades or hangers-on. They are all top level leadership-- the president and the whole BOD. In addition, every one of the nine clergy, all of the Top Tier prophets, the chief prophetess (and probably all the Tier Two prophets) are both being accused and accusing the others of gross error that should disqualify them from ministry and leadership. These are the people who are supposed to be truly spirit-led, mature and able to receive revelation from the Lord. Yet they are all steeped in accusation, counter-accusation, error, manipulation, bickering and inability to reconcile.. Followers may well think, if these leaders (who are not only spiritual leadership but also have been friends for decades) can't get it right, how can the organization they lead get it right? How can anyone? A kind of loss of trust and faith, as well as a feeling of hopelessness follow.
The Graesers noted that over one hundred prophecies had been accumulated which backed Graeser and opposed the BOD. This means that more people (they did not reveal how many, perhaps to make their side sound larger than it is) across the country are being involved in the fight, which will surely lead to more bad feelings and perhaps to Graeser forming a new splinter group out of the old CES splinter group. Splinters of splinters of The Way Tree.
A few years ago CES claimed to have a mailing list of about 3,000 addresses, or about 5,000 people. Most of these people joined CES because they were hurt by some of the same turmoil in The Way International. It is not known how many of these will also leave CES in disgust and disappointment.
The Graeser lawsuit alleging defamation of character increases the problem, because 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 clearly states that Christians must not file lawsuits against other Christians. The marriage problems of the Graesers, as well as John Lynn's two divorces and admitted promiscuity while CES president and board member further complicate matters because of the New Testament emphasis on marriage and stance against divorce. There have been reports that John Lynn was defrocked after his second divorce. If so, it appears that this is not generally known and that he continues to serve as a visible leader nonetheless. (Most conservative Biblical church bodies remove men from the clergy roster and from positions of spiritual oversight for extramarital sex and often for divorce.)
One thing that compounds this problem is that the Graesers and the BOD are following CES teaching and practice, not departing from it. Personal prophecy, testing prophecy, ordained clergy, accountability, confrontation, the Prophetic Council, and the like are all part of established CES doctrine structure and practice.
When CES leaders left TWI, they thought that the problem with TWI was its practice, not its theology. If they make the same mistake again, CES will continue to deteriorate.
Leaders lead by example more than by words. Their example is extremely troubling and disheartening to CES followers. It is even more troubling because many CES followers see the leaders as more focused on the organization, and the maintenance of their power more than on the good of the people.
Distinctive CES Terminology
These terms give insight into CES's beliefs and practices.
+ "accountability" - conference calls or meetings in which leaders or prophets quash dissent and enforce their instructions; may include bringing all one's sins "into the light" so as to "give no place to the enemy"
+ "BOD" - Board of Directors of CES, which are not elected by followers of CES; in 2006 it included: John Schoenheit, Mark Graeser, Gary & Karen Theisen, Dan Gallagher, Tom Resner
+ "deliverance sessions" - meetings in which minister attempt to drive demons out of other believers. These can bring to light troublesome behavior or incidents of the past which can be used by leaders against them in the future
+ "guardians entrusted with the truth" - unique role or power of top level leaders; also called the "inner circle"
+ "help and counsel" used to direct or manipulate people, which may include issuing ":consequences" for their disapproved behavior
+ "Momentus" - a LGAT which uses psychologically manipulative techniques like confrontation, consequences, victim mentality, boundaries and group pressure which were also used by some CES leaders
+ "multitude of counselors" - small clique of about a half dozen high level leaders who exert power over the group and its leaders; more accurately called "inner circle"
+ "Personal Prophecy" - individuals claim to receive words from God in the form of prophecies, dreams or visions which are specifically directed at individuals; the effect is often to intimidate or manipulate them to match the prophet's wishes; CES learned the technique particularly from Bill Hamon of Christian International in Florida who claims to be a trainer of aspiring prophets; prophets take authority over people's lives using prophecy as the method
+ "protect the ministry" - discredit or isolate certain people who dissent
+ "Prophetic Council" - a few individuals (PC Coordinators") who approve, disapprove or apply prophecies to individuals (ironically it's initials are "PC" and it is used to protect leadership from dissent; in effect they exercise a theocracy; in late 2006 was made up of Tom & Susan Resner and Karen Ann Graeser (four others left it earlier)
+ "spiritual aggression" - accusations in the form of prophecies which intimidate, hurt, isolate, humiliate and/or embarrass the people the prophecies and "counsel" are directed at (It can cause pain which is rationalized as "the wounds of a friend are faithful")
+ "STF" - "Spirit and Truth Fellowship International" - the church arm of CES
+ "submit to council" - obey inner circle of high level leaders; they have authority over not only spiritual issues, but also personal issues and relationship issues (such as marriages of followers)
+ "take him/her out" - eliminate someone from leadership or fellowship or influence someone to leave CES
Dr. John Juedes, 2007, www.abouttheway.org
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