“For we are not peddlers of Gods word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
Mr. Kluge reports some subjective experiences which are influenced by his negative expectations. The form a discussion takes depends on the particular person we happen to be talking with. The aim of every missionary talk can be nothing other than to offer the person the best possible help to follow Jesus. Just as there is no such thing as a “concept F” person, likewise there is no such thing as “concept F” evangelism.
When we are talking about what a godly community should be like, we cannot keep silent about injustices and pseudo-churches. It would be loveless not to warn someone of the deceivers who preach a distorted Gospel.
We do not “relish” in unfolding the dark pages of church history as Mr. Kluge supposes. On the contrary, it is very sad to have to see how many crimes have been and still are being committed in the name of Jesus.
In contrast to Mr. Kluge’s account we always place the emphasis in a discussion on the knowledge of the truth revealed by God, which is accessible for everyone in the Bible.
As for Luther, we refuse to descend to his level of mocking his opponents, a practice he held in common with many of his Roman Catholic contemporary opponents. What we can read in his teachings shows his godlessness enough. Most of us haven’t the faintest idea about the waistline measurements of Luther. If it happens to be true that Luther really “died a fat man” (something unknown to the author up till now), then this points to a lack of discipline, something certainly not worthy of a man of God, but our assessment of a person is based on the doctrines he holds to.
We also make a distinction between Luther and the “church” which bears his name, the “Lutheran Church”. It at least refused to adopt from him the abominable teaching of the Denial of the Free Will and the connected teaching about Predestination either to heaven or hell.
When we meet Christians we are glad to know them as our brothers or sisters and we don’t question their Christianity, as imperfect as it may have been. We only baptise those brothers and sisters who became Christians through meeting us.
“Sin” and “freedom” are certainly two important issues which are touched upon again and again in discussions with unbelievers. The very essence of the redemption in Christ is the freedom from sin.
“Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” – “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34,36)
The very fact that we have experienced this freedom in our own lives, is the reason we also want others to be able to share in it.
In 1st Century Christian scriptures (Didache and the Letter of Barnabas) we find the teaching of the two paths which Jesus had taught about in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:13-14). The path of Life and the path of Death both lie before every person who is called to make a decision. These early Christian texts don’t point to any abstract paths, but to concrete deeds according to which it can be seen which path someone is walking along. When we talk about the freedom we have found in Jesus we are referring to what is described in the early-Christian tradition as the path that leads to life.
We don’t want to try to delude people into believing that the prevailing consumerist attitude is real freedom, as Mr. Kluge does when he evokes the “liberating” sense of a visit to a cafe. We don’t want to belong to those who Peter speaks about:
“… promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved”(2 Peter 2:19)
The freedom that we experience in the middle of this consumer driven world, Mr. Mr. Kluge sees as a constriction. Of course this is a question of one’s approach to this matter. Every drug addict feels constricted at first when he doesn’t have access to his drugs. But the real chains that bind him are his drugs. For the person who is still enslaved by his sin, the freedom of the Christians appears to be a restriction, because all he can see is what he has to go without, but not what he would gain.
A remarkable reproach is that we enter into discussions with a clear concept in mind. A condition of every sensible discussion is that both parties have objectives. There is no “script” for evangelism, but we do have a clear objective. We are not interested in irrelevant chitchat, but in the knowledge of God and his Salvation.
The statement, “The members are trained not to listen to the arguments of other people” is pure slander. Supposing one of us really said, “What others say is not true, don’t even consider their ideas!” let it be known that this is against the very principles of our fellowship. We have nothing to fear from arguments. In an open discussion we have nothing to lose. It’s certainly necessary to distinguish between an argument about details and a basic direction. We fully agree when, for example, the Catholics prove that Peter was in Rome where he suffered martyrdom. But this is nevertheless not the least argument for the validity of Papacy, as this teaching cannot be derived from the Bible or from the early church history.
The truth is too valuable to make a sport out of looking for arguments. Common analysis of arguments is no sport for us, but an obligation for all truth-loving people who don’t want to ignore the thoughts of people who think differently.
On the one hand Mr. Mr. Kluge accuses us of “indoctrination” and on the other hand that we “respond with silence”. What do we have to do in order to please him? How terrible must it be in schools where the teacher “indoctrinates” (presents his teaching material) on the one hand, and on the other hand lets the students work hard to acquire an “already existing answer”! Mr Mr. Kluge simply tries again and again to use isolated observations to construct a system which firstly doesn’t exist and secondly is not logical. He has to reach his aim of defaming us as a “Psycho-cult” using all available means.
That’s why he uses the term “love bombing” especially tailored to fit all “Psycho-cults”. This term is a contradiction in itself, as love is not a weapon with which you can destroy someone. Our love is not a short-term emotional “mentoring”, but a long-term commitment.
Concerning the “reports from Poland” mentioned by Mr. Mr. Kluge, according to which “minors were brought in to the Group against the will of their parents”, the following points must be added, or corrected:
No one has ever been “brought into the Group” It was the personal decision of the juvenile siblings to spend their time in the community against the will of their parents. No one forced them and they were there of their own free choice. The “offence” committed by the sister who was put on probation for one year was that she did not send the youths, who were with us of their own choice, home to their parents against their will. A different court dismissed charges made in a similar case.
The youths were always brought home, although they had to put up with terrible conditions at home. Their parents beat them repeatedly. They tore up and even burnt the Bible numerous times before their children’s eyes and forced them to take part in a Catholic first Communion celebration. Then the siblings suffered an extended imprisonment in their parents’ house; For three months they weren’t allowed to go to school. Occasionally they were chained up by the legs and were threatened with a gun.
A later charge against the parents of the abused children was dismissed on the grounds that the parents had only undertaken certain measures for the protection of their children. False statements protected the parents from prosecution.
Their parents saw that even the strict restriction of the youths could not dissuade them from following their conviction. As they knew the address of the above mentioned sister they took her to court in the hope that the community would forbid the youths to meet with them because to do so would be a “punishable offence”.
Despite being violently separated from the community, the siblings remained true to their chosen path.
It is not only “new-comers” with whom we want to spend as much time as possible. We attempt to plan our lifestyle to ensure that daily community is possible for everyone (whether old or young), not so that we can “keep a check on each other”, but in order to take part in the fellowship which is important for all of us. This is, however, suspicious for people who don’t share this desire.
It is easy to throw around negative phrases such as “control of environment and information”, “mind control”, “consciousness control”. It is just as easy to completely distort positive statements, especially with such a negative attitude.
When a husband asks his wife what she did that day, his question may come from a loving interest in his spouse or it could be “social and information control”
We respect the privacy of correspondence and there is no ban on arranging a meeting with someone as was (and is?) common in various Catholic “monastic orders”
” Whether a Monk Should Receive Letters or Anything Else-Let it not be allowed at all for a monk to give or to receive letters, tokens, or gifts of any kind, either from parents or any other person, nor from each other, without the permission of the Abbot.” (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 54)
“And let no one presume to relate to another what he hath seen or heard outside of the monastery, because it is most hurtful. But if anyone presume to do so, let him undergo the penalty of the Rule. In like manner let him be punished who shall presume to go beyond the enclosure of the monastery, or anywhere else, or to do anything, however little, without the order of the Abbot.” (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 67)
Reading Mr. Mr. Kluge’s account of the psychological condition of a new-comer sends shivers down your spine (doubts, insecurity, contemplation of suicide, cold, losing interest in scholastic or vocational pursuits, weight loss, unsteady gaze…) The imagination knows no bounds. Of course, every serious decision a person makes leads him to greater earnestness. The fact that we don’t laugh at bad jokes and superficial chit-chat could well be interpreted as “loss of humour”, “animalistic” and “cold”.
Mentally unstable people experience deep decisions as stressful, while mentally stable people do not. It is the same everywhere, and has nothing to do with our kind of community. We need go no further than the written accounts of various catholic “saints” to see what “symptoms” were visible in their decision making process.
Both mentally stable and unstable personalities become Christians, certainly none of them without some kind of inner struggle. Every generalisation is unacceptable and bears the mark of Mr. Kluge’s ever present prejudice.
Mr. Kluge accuses us of psychological manipulation through a “clever selection of passages from the Bible”. Of course, we consider which passages can be helpful in a particular situation. We certainly do not want to just chat aimlessly. We are deeply concerned with the freedom of every person, so all we can do is to point out what we have realised concerning a particular situation from the Holy Scriptures. The decision to live with God is up to each individual.
We are, indeed, also used to considering not only one single aspect, but weighing up different statements from the scriptures as well as other arguments that appear to contradict our own opinion. Mr. Kluge implies that we consciously omit certain passages of the Holy Scriptures. However, that is altogether contrary to our attitude towards the Bible, because we do not want to simply read our own interpretation into the text, but we desire to understand the will of God as revealed in the Bible through objective discussions. Unfortunately not many people are prepared make the effort to enter into that kind of discussion with us.
Likewise, Mr. Kluge regards the participation in the community of goods – which, as he states “is not demanded” – merely as the result of “peer pressure”. It is simply impossible for him to imagine that among us something like that can come from love. He admits that there is no “overwhelming importance placed on collecting money for the leader which results in the exploitation of followers”. So it stands to reason that we share what we have out of love. But what is unimaginable must, of course, also be impossible.
If community of goods can only work by force in Catholic orders (as is evident in the aforementioned examples), then a functioning community of goods on the basis of love – outside the bosom of the Roman Church (in which alone is salvation) at that – is by definition impossible. But we know it does work as a result of love, whatever motives people may assume we have.
Regarding: “External criticism, which has a unifying and bonding effect”
Rejection by outsiders certainly also leads us to appreciate even more the value of each brother with whom I can share everything. However, rejection from outside is not a proof of correctness at all. The Jehova’s Witnesses have often been socially marginalised – by no means proof that their teaching is correct.
Mr. Kluge should not complain that we do not call ourselves something that we are not. As we are not and do not want to be anything other than Christians, we cannot pretend to be anything or anyone else. We are not “True Christians” or “New Christians” because we do not consider there to be different classes of Christians. Our distinctive mark is love and unity:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”.(John 13:35)
“…that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)