In November 1994, my wife and I participated in a four-day training experience called Momentus. We were persuaded to take Momentus by John A. Lynn, head of a group called Christian Educational Services (CES). He said that Momentus was a Christian training that would help us "get closer to the Lord and to His people." It didn't. In the following testimony, I describe the training as accurately as I can and describe its nonChristian roots.
We can never cease to be vigilant in these last days, since the scriptures warn us that some will preach false teachings which would turn some of the flock away from the greatest revelation of all- God's Word. So we must test what that message against both the spirit within us and the Word of God and look for the fruits that result from the teaching. It is both the message and its vehicle that I see that is wrong about Momentus. And I believe that the Word instructs us to take a stand against those, so that others are not harmed, as were many of us.
I personally suffered as a result of my participation in the Momentus training, as did others I know who are close to me. That is why I struggled for more than a year with it, looking to God's Word for my answers, before I could be certain that I was not just judging the training carnally because of my own sufferings.
A pattern that I'm seeing very strongly is that most people who hear of or become involved with Momentus realize right off in some way that it is wrong, that it's not of God. Some pay heed and are spared the damage of Momentus. Others let themselves be talked into taking the training by men they respect- and suffering the consequences. Too many Christians have let other men talk them out of what the scripture can tell them regarding Momentus and have succumbed to its promotion.
One of the biggest problems I have with Momentus (other than its teachings and practices being derived from nonChristian sources) is the conspiracy of silence surrounding what it's really like. Just as secret societies such as the Masons and various other occult groups hide the truth of what they're really about until people are too deeply involved to easily see the truth, so does Momentus hide its true nature under a facade of Christianity. Before the training, all a prospective trainee hears about Momentus are the glowing reports of those who've taken it, who claim that it's "changed their lives so dramatically." That last part is often true, but the change is not always what it seems to be. But try to get details about what goes on within the training and you get evasion. None of the trainers or grads will give details.
I believe that this evasiveness is because the trainers, as well as most graduates of the training, even if they love Momentus, rightly know that most Christians would never take Momentus if they had any inkling of what went on in it. I know that I never would have. That's because what goes on in it has little to nothing to do with life and godliness as unveiled in the Word of God. But it does have a lot to do with psychotherapeutic practices (from Freudian to primal scream therapy), with indoctrination techniques and with visualization which is similar to New Age practices. Ridicule, mockery, and caustic language directed against the trainees by the trainers (and eventually, as they get into the "spirit" of Momentus, the other trainees) is par for the course, as they work to shock and break down the trainees into abandoning their own belief systems and accepting those of the training. The methods used in the training I participated in are not godly, even if some people believe the results to be so. (God's Word doesn't justify the worldly concept of the end justifying the means.)
But you don't hear any of that before you take Momentus. The material you receive in preparation for the training lists books to read by Christian authors and includes excerpts from other Christian writings. The only indication of what may be to come is a requirement that, if you're in therapy or have been in the past few years, you get a signature from your psychiatrist that it's okay for you to take the training. You also get a vague caution that the interactions with the trainer may at times become "intense." But you get this information only after you've sent in your nonrefundable $150 training fee (which you don't get back, whether the trainers or you decide you shouldn't take the training).
"Intense" is hardly the word I'd use to describe the caustic language (including profanity) the trainers used as they contradicted, mocked, and baited people during the training we sat through. I took several group dynamics courses in the Psychology department in college, and so I was no stranger to intense interaction- but those were a cakewalk compared to Momentus. (People coming out of Momentus often proclaim how close they feel to the other trainees. But we experienced similar feelings after our group experiences in those secular, a-biblical psychology courses-- which suggests that such feelings have no real bearing on the validity, or nonvalidity, of such training situations.) The material sent out beforehand in no way truly prepares anyone for what Momentus is really like. Coupled with the almost universal refusal of its adherents to give anyone a valid, even a balanced, view of what happens in the training, the practice of promoting Momentus as nothing but a 'Wonderful" "Christian" experience is inaccurate.
Based on ample documentation, I've discovered that Momentus is, in fact, merely a "Christianized" version of the mind dynamics training called Lifespring, which was an outgrowth of the human potential movement of the '70s. Many of the methods used in Werner Erhadt's est classes of the '70s were also used by Lifespring and, consequently, imported from Lifespring into Momentus. Est was a mixture of various occult influences, Eastern mysticism and Scientology, plus liberal does of humanist psychotherapy. Much has been written about est and Lifespring which make clear their anti-Christian nature. For more information, I recommend The Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, by John Weldon and John Ankerberg (the chapter on Est, Lifespring and other courses, which briefly discusses Momentus) and Straight Answers on the New Age by Bob Larson which briefly describes the Momentus Lifeboat exercise as one used in Lifespring. I also recommend a Invasion of Other Gods by David Jeremiah, with a chapter on New Age influences that have crept into the church. Except for a part about participants hearing "whisperings from God" (God and anything He says was largely absent from the training) and the current costs, it's a fairly accurate description of some of what we experienced in Momentus-- though it doesn't conveys the trauma of the experience.
Ankerberg and Weldon describe other aspects carried over from Lifespring into Momentus. For example, the class starts off with a manipulative introductory session in which you're plunged into darkness and treated to loud, swelling (and, ultimately, nearly deafening) music that seems designed to assault your senses and play with your emotions. (I think it was from the movie The Last of the Mohicans. Most of the music played was not godly music. The deafening volume, along with the lack of sleep and constant harassment we experienced, put us in a state of susceptibility.) Then comes a dramatic reading, interspersed with a few almost unrecognizable verses from the Message, a Bible version that I have been unable to reconcile with any other version of scripture. The opening was probably meant to unsettle us emotionally (as so much of the training appeared to do so to me). My "spiritual alarm bells" began going off like crazy- but as I'd already committed to sifting through the training, I continued to ignore them.
After this opening, the trainers ran us through the "ground rules" for the training (one of its holdovers from est and Lifespring) and required us to sign an agreement to abide by these rules. We were also required to sign a "hold harmless" agreement, asserting that we'd been "adequately informed" of what the training consisted of and that no matter what happened to us in (or as a result of) the training-- including death-we'd not hold the trainers and the sponsors liable. I've never see such an agreement before in any class I've taken through any church or ministry. Lifespring, on the other hand, does require such an agreement, as do other New Age courses--because several people have died as a result of taking that training. One girl we know who served on the training crew for a later Momentus told us how the trainers issued vomit bags to the crew--because they expected some people taking the training to become violently ill during some of the exercises. As I've discovered since, this "hold harmless" agreement is a fraudulent contract, because we were not adequately informed of what the training consisted of at that point. We were told, if we didn't sign the agreement, we either had to pay up an additional $300 to the trainers on the spot--or leave the training (and we wouldn't receive a refund of our original $150 fee). So, we signed--we had too much invested in the training at that point to do otherwise.
Then the training began in earnest--four days of what essentially consisted of psychological battering, seemingly designed only to break us down to the point that we would accept whatever the training wanted us to accept (though the trainers denied this throughout). The trainers spent the first two days tearing us down through verbal attack and running exercises seemingly designed take our focus off God and the Lord Jesus and put it onto ourselves. That, I believe, was the goal of Momentus: to get us to the place of self-government, as they call it; then we'd in essence be creating our own "realities" via our choices. The focus thus was taken off the things of the spirit as revealed by God's Word and put on things carnal. "The physical universe never lies" is one of Momentus's great mantras (though, of course, the physical universe lies daily in that it denies the spiritual).
We were required to make commitments to what we wanted to "cause" in others (a phrase that seems to me to be an apt definition of manipulation). Believing that something of value could be obtained, I committed myself to "causing" openness and honesty In so doing, I opened myself to subsequent torment at the hands of some "gung-ho" Momentus grads. I unwittingly set myself up to suffer whatever spiritual garbage its supporters threw at me. But it would be months before I realized that, thanks to the healing power of the Lord and the loving help of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
The first two days of the training ended with the "Lifeboat" exercise, in which we were forced to condemn our brothers and sisters to "life or death." Who "lived" and who "died" depended on who we voted into the lifeboat after a visualization session in which we were on a cruise ship that started sinking. It taught us that those who live the kind of life the world values- the loud, aggressive, pushy, hey-listen-to me-and-forget-about-you types of personalities, who attract lots of attention to themselves (as some had in the training thus far)--would end up in the lifeboat and be saved. Those exhibiting such godly traits as meekness, humility, self-denial--in short, any traits that failed to bring lots of attention to themselves ended up in the water, "dead." We then had to give our "epitaphs" from our watery graves about how worthless we were. This, more than anything else, revealed the true nature of Momentus to me--its focus on aggrandizing the self over anything else. People were worked up by the trainers to actually experience acute emotional pain over having to "condemn others to death" in what was a manipulative mind game.
I'd probably have left the training that night and not returned if I had not foolishly made a commitment to finish it. Plus, we were required early on to choose a buddy to 'Watch over' during the training. If anyone left, we were told, their buddy had to leave, too. This turned out to be untrue. Several people did leave the training and yet their buddies were always allowed to stay-- but not before being subjected to serious condemnation and verbal attack for not somehow forcing their buddies to stay through the entire training. I could not have allowed that to happen to my buddy-- or to anyone else-- if I could prevent it. So I stayed.
The "buddies must leave if you do" statement wasn't the only untruth. Another concerned the homework assignment. Because a few people didn't complete the first night's homework assignment as thoroughly as required- writing only a page and a half instead of two pages, for example-- the trainer, in what appeared to be a fit of anger, said that he was ending the training. The only way he'd let us complete it, he asserted, was if we all got together and pressured (or "persuaded," as he put it) those who hadn't done the homework to agree to finish it during that day. We did as he required, and the training continued. I later learned from the girl who served on the training crew for the next Momentus in Indianapolis that this charade was part of the "script" for the training. The trainer for that class did the same thing, but after he returned to the room, some of the trainees still hadn't agreed to finish their homework-- so he had to leave the room again to "give them more time." The training would have continued regardless-- this was apparently just another exercise to get the group to help the trainers control others in the training through peer pressure-- a deception. In fact, all on the crew were given copies of the script for the training, spelling out what everyone, including the trainers, was to do and say the entire four days. So one of the reasons often given by Momentus adherents for not describing the details of the training ahead of time-- to preserve the "spontaneity" of the class-- also is spurious.
The next day, the training took a different course. After hammering at us, the trainers suddenly became "best buddies," warm, lovable "nerds," which disoriented us. We were to learn that we're all nerds, always have been and always will be. By realizing this, we reach the exalted state of "Nerdvana." The sudden lessening of pressure had its desired effect. We continued with the training, thinking the worst was over. But more was to come, though the pressure was subtler, the manipulation less obvious. We grouped in circles in the darkness to "confess our sins" to the trainers as they ran down a litany of sins, to which we were to raise our hands if guilty, while weeping and wailing in the darkness. Never did the concept of the Holy Spirit convicting us of sins or of confessing to the Lord come into play. We were in effect "saving ourselves" by dredging up everything we could think of from our pasts and getting all emotional over it to "cleanse" ourselves through an emotional catharsis (rather than through any true, Godly repentance). We were even instructed to think back to our childhoods and dredge up things for which we, as Christians, already have the remission of sins. No matter. If we could get all emotional over it, that was fine-- we were pursuing the goal of Momentus' self-government approach, in taking our focus off the Lord and putting it solely on us and our sins. At the time, immersed in all that was happening, we never stopped to ask why we had to raise our hands so that the trainers could see what sins we were confessing to. It appeared to me that the one trainer was taking some kind of notes, though I can't confirm that.
We also were required to bring in pillows to beat on during a session in which we laid a good portion of our problems on our parents. As we beat on the pillows, shouting "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" and "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," this act was supposed to "free us" of hidden resentments we'd harbored for all the "evil things our parents had done to us" when we were little. (Regardless of whether our parents had actually done us evil or whether we harbored such hidden resentments.) The homework for that section even required us to determine whether we believed our parents really had wanted us and to describe how this affected us. This was Freudian psychotherapy, mixed liberally with primal scream therapy. The unstated idea of this session came across pretty clearly to me even then: to shift the blame for our problems onto our parents, further "freeing" us of guilt and somehow helping us farther along on the road to "self-government." But God's Word, on the other hand, admonishes us to honor our Fathers and our Mothers. This is another Lifespring exercise that was co-opted by Momentus. (A friend described this exercise to me after seeing it in an ABC 20/20 expose on Lifespring.)
Other exercises the final day included telling each other, one on one, our hidden, inner secrets--such as the worst betrayal we'd ever experienced. We were sometimes required to "share" these secrets by speaking in a "nonsense language." This was another example of the use of secular psychotherapy techniques, employed in a training that denies it even uses such techniques. The final day also consisted of us sharing our "nerd" traits (often mocking ourselves and others in the process) and putting on little vignettes in groups, apparently based on superficial readings of our personalities. My group hadn't actively participated in the verbal sparing with the trainers. We had another exercise in which we were lifted up in the air by others in the training, to feel the experience of "floating," while specific songs aimed at how the trainers categorized us played in the background. Our song was a Bob Dylan song designed to make us feel that we were worthless-- yet another way to break us down emotionally.
And at every chance offered, such as when I played my mandolin as part of our vignette that last day, all the crew, trainers--and then everyone--danced around wildly, furthering the emotional free-for-all the training fostered. If anyone didn't get into the excessive emotional displays encouraged to show that you were "getting it," one trainer misused the "conscience seared as by a hot iron" verse in Timothy. Using the verse and the movie Pulp Fiction as his example, he planted the suggestion that, if you didn't accept the training totally and be transformed by it- then you must have a "seared conscience," incapable of feeling anything, and so are worthless to yourself, to others, and to God. Self always came first in the training so that you could then, after taking care of yourself, help others. The Lord ran a poor third, and was rarely mentioned.
Even though the Holy Spirit had been warning me all the way through and I knew that this training wasn't right and wasn't of God, I'd still let myself get mostly sucked into it. The lessening of pressure and the "we're all buddies in this together" approach had worked as intended. But then, the trainer told the myth of the "hundredth monkey" as though it were a true story. This fable from a book of that title by New Age guru Ken Keyes, Jr. says that a group of monkeys were trained how to wash their food as part of an experiment. The monkeys, which were isolated on an island, trained other monkeys how to wash their food. When the hundredth monkey learned how to wash his food, all monkeys everywhere- even those they'd never come into contact with-- also suddenly just "knew" how to wash their food the same way. The stated reason for telling us this myth was that we'd know that, after enough people had taken Momentus and learned its ways, everyone everywhere would automatically become "enlightened," just as we now were, and would start using the same techniques with no one teaching them how to do so. So it was up to us to practice what we'd learned in the training and get others to do so, too, mainly by getting others to take the training. Grads of later Momentus trainings in Indianapolis told us how they were subsequently pressured to persuade their kids and at least five more people to take Momentus, too.
Sadly, many of those who decided that Momentus was a "good thing" did carry on that trainees' admonition, verbally ripping and tearing their dear brothers and sisters in Christ. They accused and tried to manipulate others in the fellowship in Indianapolis, which led to our finally breaking away. For more than a year Momentus grads treated me this way, leading me into depression and even thoughts of suicide.
Praise the Lord that He never gave up on me, though many Momentus "grads" did as soon as they saw that I hadn't wholeheartedly bought into their new doctrines. As I turned to God for help, I felt led to talk with another brother in the Lord who'd also taken Momentus and had seen it for what it was. We met with others who'd also seen the truth about Momentus, and I began again to see that I wasn't alone. I don't mean to malign any of the people deceived by Momentus, but pray daily for the deliverance of all those hurt by Momentus. I believe that God wants me to help warn His people about its dangers.
I realize that some people still think Momentus is the greatest thing ever and that they've been really helped by it. But grads of est, Lifespring, Scientology, Transcendental Mediation and other obvious non-Christian counterfeits say the same. Many of us who took Momentus went in asking God for spiritual blessings through that training, but came out with unquestionably bad things. Grads fall into three categories: Some think Momentus is totally wonderful, that anything about the training that's bad is worth going through to get its "benefits," and then go on to promote Momentus heavily to others, keeping its secrets and playing by its "rules." They hurt not only themselves by their actions, but others in the Body as well.
The second category consists of those who ask for bread and get a stone. They may have come out confused or may believe that the training contains some good amid all its wrong doctrine and abiblical practices--but in the end, they neither embrace Momentus nor are seriously hurt by it. They've just wasted their time, money, and effort on something that is at best spiritually barren.
The final category are those who go into the training asking for an egg but who receive instead a scorpion--those of us who were emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually damaged by the training, like me. One believer I know experienced such confusion as a result of Momentus that she nearly overdosed on medicine. Another Christian woman I know was driven into a psychotic state during the Momentus training and had to be carried out to the hospital. Others have been similarly hurt by the training. I know of at least two marriages that fell apart as a direct result of the training. Had my wife and I practiced what Momentus taught, I think our marriage also would have fallen apart. Churches nationwide (including the church where it originated) have been ripped apart by the division that descends on an area in the wake of Momentus. Having to oppose the false doctrines originating in Momentus was a factor that finally brought us to leave the Living Word Fellowship. Their misnamed "iron sharpening iron" inclinations (actually iron bludgeoning iron) and scripture twisting was used to justify the use of carnal accusations against us.
The real fruits of Momentus are division, disappointment, destruction, doctrines of demons. I've seen it happen here and I've heard of it elsewhere. Dissent over Momentus has been so great that CES finally had to issue a disclaimer stating that they'd no longer promote Momentus, in an attempt to lessen the backlash against them from so many supporters who'd been harmed or turned off by Momentus. Yet, CES leaders are still promoting Momentus individually. The disclaimer included such false claims as one that only 5 percent of those who took it didn't like it or had problems with it--and then laid the blame for their sufferings on those who took the training, of "their own free will."
But the truth is that we were robbed of our free will choice by the conspiracy of silence concerning the true nature of Momentus. What we chose to take was not what we received. Had we known the truth about what goes on in Momentus, we'd have been able to exercise our free will, and would have rejected it. Although CES claimed they'd no longer promote Momentus, a subsequent CES newsletter contained almost an entire page promoting Momentus and its spinoffs, including a book on Killing the Victim, which echoes another New Age theme-- that "there are no victims--you always choose what happens to you." But after you kill "the victim" inside you, so that you "know" that whatever happens to you is "your choice," you've opened yourself up to be victimized again.
Now that I know Momentus for what it is, I refuse to stand by idly and let any more of my brothers and sisters be sucked into that quagmire. I'll help show what actually goes on in Momentus so that people get to hear both sides of the story and then can truly make a free will choice.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would never operate in such as way as to get people into taking something that can hurt some of his people! Jesus Christ is the good shepherd, a perfect gentleman--not a shepherd who sometimes has to "break the legs of the sheep" to get them to listen, as Momentus teaches. Momentus is not of God, but is earthly, sensual and does not deliver what it claims to.
BILL BARTON, 1998 www.empirenet.com/~messiah7
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