Monday, February 6, 2012

Which Came First...The Berean or The Outcast?

I think most of us who find ourselves here can identify with both the Berean and the Outcast.  I was pondering the Bereans become Outcasts?  Or do Outcasts become Bereans?

Be·re·an  noun \bəˈən\

In the bible, the Bereans were the people who lived in the city of Berea (present day northern Greece).

Easton's Bible Dictionary describes Berea as:

“A city of Macedonia to which Paul with Silas and Timotheus went when persecuted at Thessalonica (Acts 17:10, 13), and from which also he was compelled to withdraw, when he fled to the sea-coast and thence sailed to Athens (14, 15). Sopater, one of Paul's companions belonged to this city, and his conversion probably took place at this time (Acts 20:4). It is now called Verria.”

In Acts 17:11-13 , Luke writes:
And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men. But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble. (NLT)
A Berean is simply a Christian that compares EVERYTHING they are taught to the Bible as the final authority.

Characteristics of the Berean:
  • She/he is eager for the Word of God (synonyms of eager: crazy, desirous, enthusiastic, excited, greedy, hungry, pumped, raring, thirsty, voracious)
  • He/she searches the scriptures daily (Doesn’t rely only on others for learning)
  • She/he uses discernment (He/she is not influenced by fame, prestige or influence of the preacher or leader, only the word, and judges things according to that standard)
  • He/she believes the Word, and influences others to believe the truth (v. 12)
  • She/he is willing to suffer for the faith (v. 13 and see below)

I recently read this old post, More Roles in a Toxic Faith System – Enabler, Victim, and Outcast, at  The Wartburg Watch  about the role of “The Outcast” in the book Toxic Faith by Stephen Arteburn and Jack Felton.

Outcast noun \out-kast\ defines outcast as:
  1. "a person who is rejected or cast  out, as from home orsociety: In the beginning the area was settled by outcasts,adventurers, and felons.
  2. a homeless wanderer; vagabond.
  3. rejected matter; refuse."
The Outcast (quoted from TWW which quoted the book):

"Of the five roles in the toxic-faith system, only one is not a religious addict or bound by toxic faith. In most toxic systems, someone can usually see the problem and confront it. Unwilling to play the games of the persecutors and co-conspirators, the person becomes an outcast.

The people who stand up for what is right and challenge the system lose their jobs, friends, and church. They become lone voices in the wilderness, crying out for change that will not come as long as the persecutor dictates power, the co-conspirators manipulate the system, the enablers allow it to continue, and the victims fall in line with blind faith. When outcasts surface, they are identified as TROUBLEMAKERS and pushed out of the system as soon as possible." (p. 201)

Characteristics of the Outcast: (p. 203)
  • Is not a religious addict
  • Does not possess a toxic faith
  • Willingly stands alone
  • Stands up for what is right
  • Is willing to be rejected by others in the toxic-faith system
  • Can discern right from wrong
  • Commits to leaders having integrity
  • Refuses to be victimized by false teaching and lack of integrity
  • Speaks out for truth
  • Usually loses a job within a toxic organization over concern for it
  • Suffers rejection by friends after challenging the leadership of those in the toxic-faith system
  • Often is treated as a leper
  • Is begged by others in the toxic-faith system to support the persecutor
  • Endures shame for actions
  • Refuses to respect or be manipulated by those in the toxic-faith system
  • Sees the truth and acts on it even if it produces great personal pain
  • Interprets reality for self
  • Is motivated to protect people from spiritual fraud
  • Is very dedicated to God and the people who seek a relationship with him
  • Commands respect of others for courage
"In a toxic faith system, no one is allowed to disagree.  If they ever try to speak out, they are labeled as complainers, negative thinkers, and not team players.  "Loyalty is equated with blind faith and complete agreement with the leader".  (p. 202) 
"Outcasts who challenge the delusion of the system are discredited immediately.  The toxic-faith system creates a lose-lose situation where the outcasts must give up perceptions of reality or be willing to face complete rejection.  Abandonment becomes the reward for trying to correct the ministry. 

Outcasts can interpret reality for themselves.  Even when their perception of reality contradicts that of hundreds and thousands of followers, they can clearly see the problems and press for solutions to those problems.  Outcasts are unimpressed by position or personhood.  They love God and want to protect his people and his institutions from spiritual fraud. 

Those who are so dedicated to God have little difficulty seeing others' dedication to ego and empires.  Yet they are forced to suffer for what they see because they refuse to watch people live a lie and abuse others.  No toxic-faith system can handle this keen insight and dedication to truth.  They must place their jobs and the church they love on the altar of sacrifice as they are forced to move on to a place free of toxic faith."  (p. 202)

I personally believe it can go either way.  My husband was a Berean first, and because he refused to submit to teaching that was not in line with the Word, he became the Outcast.  I think for me, it happened simultaneously!  As I began to question, I began to search the scriptures (Berean-ish), and soon became the Outcast as well.  I am forever grateful!  It is one of the most valuable life lessons I have ever learned, and I am a different (perhaps better) person because of it.

The authors of Toxic Faith offer this hope for us Berean-Outcasts:

"God honors those who are willing to sacrifice their comfort on the altar of what is right.  God has a special place in his heart for the heroes of a toxic-faith system.   Those who stand up for God and tell the world the emperor has no clothes will receive their reward sooner or later."  (p. 202)


  1. Thank you! Thank you! Though, I think what is sad in the process of healing is how to trust in my relationship with Jesus again without having it go through the abuser's lens. Like I said before, I continue to remind myself of monuments in my life, but the most humbling experience is that in my darkest days with Jesus (my walk not being "up to par"), the Holy Spirit has brought forth the Word to encourage and pray for other people that need Him. Using me when I am so not worthy; it's because of the miracle of His blood and the power of His Word! Amazing...

    1. Queen Momma,
      A couple of things popped out to me in your post. You spoke of your walk not being "up to par" and "using me when I am so not worthy"...The truth is is our walk is NEVER up to par and we are NEVER worthy, and that is the BEAUTY of GRACE. It is undeserved favor!
      I liken it to this, no matter how good of a parent you are, your kids WILL grow up and say "I'm not going to do that like my mom did". When we come to accept our real condition, His amazing grace, and stop trying to earn brownie points with works (good works go with faith but they don't earn girl scout badges) then we are truly FREE.
      I encourage you to get your hands on some good books about grace. There is definitely a balance, but understanding the grace of God and what a truly beautiful gift that is causes us to respond in obedience to His Word...we don't have to be manipulated or disciplined into it.

    2. the truth is, our walk is ALWAYS up to par. christianity isn't a chess game... it's about god's power and love transforming our lives. we are the message, yet we take credit - positive and negative - as if we were the messenger, the creator of the condition. how arrogant.

      the courage to be human within the definition of christianity is so hard, made harder by those who peer in from the outside in and "evaluate" our condition as correct or incorrect. by whose standards? god's?

    3. You two sound opposite but the same and give the glory to Jesus! I am amazed by being clothed in Christ. That I can walk around a princess to a King. I do worry about those human standards at times and how I will be accepted, but if I'm not a "problem to be fixed," but I person to value and love...I am who God made me to be.

      Redeemed: I did read that book years back and was very helpful at the time. But, you can repeat being sucked into something dysfunctional again, but hopefully, you'll catch on sooner the next time around. I'll have to read it again. There have been some books that have encouraged me at this time around: TrueFaced, Cry of the Soul, Christy, and a book by a Benedictine Monk (I read bits and pieces and can't remember the title at the moment).

  2. great post, redeemed. thanks for sharing it. i cannot tell you the respect i have for you and your husband!

    my only concern is WHERE are these ministries that aren't toxic? i haven't given up on Jesus and his Bride, but i would be lying if i said that i didn't have serious doubts of ever being able to find a "church" that was healthy or safe!

    i know there must be believers here in my community that are outcasts, that have seen behind the curtain and are unwilling to play the games of the typical "american church." but how can i find them?? when there are so few of us???

    i am so glad to have found some fellow outcasts on the internet. God truly is good. :)

    1. We're out here. As so many "biblical" churches are reactionary from another doctrine or church (such as Mars Hill, for example), my family has gone through a process of "let's just take church off the table" to "what about home church" (which is still bouncing around and somewhat happening from time to time, but not any different than being a family together while spending time in the Word together) to "what are we doing to our kids/do we just go for our kids?" to "let's just do things that we know are our gifts" to "maybe we'll check this church out..." But, there's no rush right now, and my kids love, love, love when we do "church." They ask questions and comments, and my eldest says he actually understands what is going on. How precious is that? Still a lot of healing for us, though...

  3. WOW! As am reading this tears are streaming down my face...This is so me! I have lost my daughters to Mars Hill "Church". Part of my story aka reality was shared on TWW. There are two pastors at one of the campuses that are directly involved with my daughter's in laws and helping in the brainwashing. They have convinced them this is what Jesus wants. They have told them lies and slandered me beyond belief! I have been totally and legally shunned and cast off! My grandchild was born over two weeks ago and these people have gone to every possible length to hide them from me and their father. These good "Christian" people allowed my daughter to suffer over 50 hours of labor at a home birth! No doctor would have let this happen. I need help on how to report this abuse. This IS emotional and spiritual abuse. Help!!!!

    1. Have you tried counseling with Bent Meyer? Maybe, his office can help you in the direction to go? Praying right now...

  4. Queen Momma,

    I actually did have a lengthly conversation with him about a week ago. It was comforting yet terrifing to receive conformation that I am not crazy on what I believe is going on and that indeed my daughter is being abused. With all of this dicipline and shunning that goes on at Mars Hill against members, ex-members, and outcasts I feel there has to be some pathway to bring about their own self dicipline. I will try him again! Thank you for your prayers....This place IS destroying so many families...

    1. Frankie
      I accidentally deleted your last comment. Please post it again!