TPM’s Claim to Elitism

What is elitism?

“Elitism — an elitist view on the part of the group members, who seem to feel that one is a substandard, unenlightened, or unspiritual person if they are not part of their particular group. If people seem to glorify a group or man more than God something is often wrong with the group. Groups that think they are better than other Christians are usually worse.” [1]

In his book Churches that Abuse, Ronald Enroth says
“The charmer will make his or her followers feel “special” . By constantly emphasizing how dramatically unique, important, and effective the group’s ministry is, he or she will make those who participate in the group feel that by being part of something superior to what any other ministry is doing, they are themselves superior to other Christians. Their identity with the group elevates their thoughts and feelings about themselves. The mixture of being charmed and made to feel special is a cocktail that intoxicates the followers. They will believe and do things they ordinarily would not.” [1]

It is human nature to want feel special and unique, while the word of God teaches us to stay humble and loving.  Instead, churches like TPM take advantage of this human tendency and enslave the believers into thinking they are better than those outside the church walls. Isn’t it ironical for a church that has published a book titled “Human Pride and Divine Humility”, pride and elitism seems to have permeated every crevice of our minds? The fact that when the words “God’s church” is heard from the pulpit, we equate it with TPM, speaks volumes of how far we have gone.

TPM’s Claim to Elitism

TPM Claim Elitism within the Christian brotherhood. To get an idea of what I mean by that, let’s look at some excerpts from TPM publications.

TPM Claim Elitism
TPM Elites
  1. “These Levites and priests are a type of the consecrated servants of God who forsake their all and sacrifice their lives for the sake of the gospel. Only such a group of servants of God, together with Christ, can prepare a glorious Church for His Coming” (Tabernacle, Page 89)
  1. “Peter was a married man. However for the sake of the kingdom of God he forsook everything viz, houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, etc” (Here’s The Answer, page 116)
  1. “A real servant of God is a born servant of God. He is not a self-styled preacher, neither is he the product of man-made institutions such as bible colleges and seminaries” (New Testament Ministry Part 1, page 14)
  1. “The servants of God….should not depend on salary, but should live by faith. Only such can help us prepare ourselves for His coming” (Here’s The Answer, page 101)
  1. If you ask an average TPM believer, he/she will say this church is better than the rest because we don’t wear jewellery, we wear whites on Sundays, we don’t keep a television in our homes, we don’t even touch wine, we don’t take medicine, our ministers are celibates, we don’t celebrate Christmas like “those worldly Christians” etc.

Straightening the TPM Twist

Now that we’ve got an idea from their own words as to how TPM sees the rest of Christendom, it is the time we look into the word of God to understand how the early apostles lived.

As for why believers consider TPM to be better than the rest of Christianity, the standards we use aren’t scriptural at all. Nowhere do we see a prohibition on medicine or wine, nor do we see any rules on white dress or celibacy. Instead what we see here is a church has made a bunch of unbiblical rules and then feel better about themselves because they follow those rules. That is utterly tragic.

So, what’s the big deal about elitism?

  1. Elitism is like cancer. It has a way of spreading to every fiber of our being without warning. It blinds us from realizing that eternal life is a gift that we receive freely because of God’s grace (Romans 6:23) and because of this, anyone who is saved is not better or worse than anyone else.
  1. Elitism destroys the love we must have for our fellow Christians. It makes us look down on other Christians. Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude (1 Cor 13:4). Instead, elitism has a way of making a believer look at themselves and boast, and feel better about themselves because of the number of rules they follow.
  1. Elitism makes one judge harshly and based on outward appearance. We judge whether a person is a true Christian or not, based on how they dress and on whether or not they’re worn jewelry. This is like the judgment of Pharisees during the 1st “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11).

A modern day rendition would sound something like this “God, I thank you I’m not like these worldly Christians who wear jewelry and take medicine”

  1. Elitism makes a church blind to its faults. It makes us love the approval of the church leaders more important than God’s approval. Look what happened during Jesus’ ministry. Even though the Jewish authorities believed in Jesus, they did not confess because they were afraid of being excommunicated.

“Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:42,43)

  1. We are to be the light of the world. Instead, what the world sees in an elitist Christian is the fact that he is trying to show himself to be better than the rest of Christianity. Elitism makes one point to ourselves and our church instead of God.

The Damage done by TPM

Someone once said, “There are no extraordinary Christians, but being an ordinary Christian is an extraordinary thing”.

“For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave the opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” — 1 Corinthians 3:4-7

Conclusion: TPM is openly elitist. TPM says non-TPM ministers aren’t “real servants of God” and non-TPM believers are not part of Christ’s bride (since to be Christ’s bride one has to follow all of the TPM rules like not take medicine etc). TPM has taught believers to think there is no better church in this world than TPM.

The cure for elitism is to go back to scripture and be rooted in it. Everyone who is saved by grace through faith is adopted by God into his family and are co-heirs with Christ (Eph 1:5, Romans 8:17). In the eyes of God, there is one church. That church is made up of every truly saved believer irrespective of the building they choose to gather in on a Sunday. Sadly, as long as unbiblical doctrines (which is the very reason for elitism and spiritual pride in TPM) are preached, there is little hope. I hope and pray TPM discards these unbiblical doctrines and goes back to scripture.

[1] http://www.apologeticsindex.org/3250-congregational-elitism

10 Comments on “TPM’s Claim to Elitism”

  1. Excellent Post. I have often wondered if Philippians 2:3 is expunged from the Bibles of TPM Elites and their followers.

    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,”

  2. Why does this article sound so familiar?? Ah yes, because till today, this is what I’ve been hearing and thinking (till a few years back). We are the true worshipers of God, rest all denominations are “name-sake” Christians or as the more popular term in Hindi goes, “naam-dhaari kalisiya” ke log.
    People boast about:
    * We fast 3 days before communion, unlike other churches
    * We sit on the floor and worship, unlike other churches
    * Our pastors don’t watch TV, unlike other church pastors
    * We are not called for evangelization. Everyone has a different office. We are the “pastors”.
    * We follow apostolic doctrines, unlike other churches.
    * We pursue self-perfection & self-edification, unlike other churches. (Contrary to 1 Cor 14:5)
    * We speak more in tongues than prophesying. (Again, contrary to 1 Cor 14:5)
    * We don’t pass the offering plate, unlike other churches. (But definitely preach about tithing and its grave consequences by quoting from Malachi 3 (http://www.tithing.com/blog/does-god-curse-us-if-we-dont-tithe/)
    * We and our church believers will inherit Zion & New Jerusalem, unlike other church pastors and believers who will be in new earth. They can never attain Zion or NJ.
    * We don’t have politics over position or accounts, unlike other churches.
    * We don’t have various positions like – Youth Pastor, Worship Leader, Secretary, Treasurer, etc., unlike other churches.
    * We always wear white dress, unlike other churches.
    * We don’t take medicines, unlike other churches.
    * We don’t keep moustaches, unlike other churches.
    * We don’t use music during worship, except for the big drum, unlike other churches. This keeps pride away.
    * We don’t let choir groups or believers to lead worship and only let our worker sisters lead in songs, unlike other churches.
    * From start to end of a service, our pastor/brother-in-charge will only lead all aspects of all services, unlike other churches.
    * We don’t let other pastors to speak or share the word at functions held by our believers, unlike other churches.
    * We don’t encourage youths to display their talents and thus keep them from falling in pride, unlike other churches.
    etc.
    etc.
    etc.

    The BEST church to be?

    1. TPM takes pride in its “humility”. There was a time I use to think this church was exceptional because they don’t pass the offering box on Sundays. But more I think of it, the only reason most give the 10% tithe is because they are scared God will punish them if they don’t. They believe their money is cursed and to rid themselves of the curse they tithe. That is a horrible enslavement even worse than TV prosperity preachers conning people by promising wealth from God.

    2. Brother Santosh

      Your comments were interesting to me, so permit me to comment on them.

      You said that TPM believers boast about the following

      * We fast 3 days before communion, unlike other churches
      Is there something wrong with fasting? I think it’s a great thing if one is able to do it.

      * We sit on the floor and worship, unlike other churches
      But, we also sit on chairs and benches in most places.
      I’ve attended services in the north and south of India where people sit on chairs.
      Outside of India, most places use chairs for services and event in conventions.

      * Our pastors don’t watch TV, unlike other church pastors
      Now, is that not a good thing?
      Considering all the junk that is on TV now, are you suggesting having TV in the faith homes?

      * We are not called for evangelization. Everyone has a different office. We are the “pastors”.
      So, we are not. That is not our calling.
      There are plenty of evangelists out there, but we are not.
      It’s as simple as that.
      If you don’t have a calling to be a doctor, can I force you to be one?

      * We follow apostolic doctrines, unlike other churches.
      Yes. We do. Nothing wrong in saying that.
      Doctrines of a church whose ministers have “forsaken” everything in the world – family, possessions, wealth, luxury – to live the way the apostles wanted to live, may be called apostolic doctrine.
      As a human being, I would find it hard to consider living one week or month without my family, my comforts of home, food and other luxuries.
      But these men and women have chosen to do so… And you mock that?

      Yes, St Paul did not say it was wrong to marry. In fact he may have encouraged it.
      But, he did not say that celibacy is wrong.
      He did not say that austerity is wrong.

      * We pursue self-perfection & self-edification, unlike other churches. (Contrary to 1 Cor 14:5)

      * We speak more in tongues than prophesying. (Again, contrary to 1 Cor 14:5)

      Are you saying speak in tongues is wrong?
      The NT says that some will speak in tongues, others will prophesy and yet others will interpret.
      Not all will have the same gifts.

      * We don’t pass the offering plate, unlike other churches. (But definitely preach about tithing and its grave consequences by quoting from Malachi 3 (http://www.tithing.com/blog/does-god-curse-us-if-we-dont-tithe/)
      Are you saying that tithing is wrong?
      Tithing was as per the law of Moses and something observed by the Pharisees and Jews of the day.
      I believe Jesus himself said that your righteousness should “exceed that of the Pharisees…”.

      So, if the Pharisees were giving one-tenth to God, should I not give more?

      * We and our church believers will inherit Zion & New Jerusalem, unlike other church pastors and believers who will be in new earth. They can never attain Zion or NJ.
      The segregation is based on the way you live your life on this earth and the level of holiness each one achieves.
      It is for God to decide what reward is given to whom.

      I have never heard a TPM minister state that only they will inherit Zion.

      Sounds like you are repeating hearsay.

      * We don’t have politics over position or accounts, unlike other churches.
      No we don’t, brother.
      Isn’t that great?

      I believe that a few years ago, the IPC in Kumbanad, Kerala were having an election at their headquarters.

      Apparently, with all the lobbying and campaigning for position, the local police had to be present to prevent the “pastors” from violence.

      Surely, we’re better off than that. Don’t you think?

      * We don’t have various positions like – Youth Pastor, Worship Leader, Secretary, Treasurer, etc., unlike other churches.

      No we don’t, brother.

      Are you here to seek God or to seek positions?

      * We always wear white dress, unlike other churches.

      Something wrong with wearing white?
      I think it’s a simple and modest color.
      Doesn’t draw much attention.

      When we come to church, we gather to pray and worship.
      Not to look at and admire each other’s sense of fashion, right?

      * We don’t take medicines, unlike other churches.

      We do, though.
      Most of our believers do.

      To stand for divine healing is very very difficult.
      Especially so for families with little children.
      To not take your child to a doctor when it is sick is heart breaking.

      So, divine healing is almost like the ultimate test of faith.
      To not just bear suffering, but to watch your loved ones suffer because you believe that God will heal as per his promise.

      But the bottom line is that most believers do take medicine.

      * We don’t keep moustaches, unlike other churches.

      A matter of personal choice.

      Depending on the culture of the place you are from, mustaches come and go.

      I personally, keep a full and thick beard, partly because of a medical reason that I can’t shave.
      Since I am not shaving, I do go to the barber and have it trimmed every few weeks to keep it neat.

      Some of our early pastors also kept mustaches – pastor Paul, pastor Alwin, pastor Philip Chandapillai, etc.

      But collectively none have kept them since those days as it became a bone of contention.

      Plus mustaches and hair styles require maintenance, which leads to pride and vanity, which could lead to further sin.

      So, if we can avoid them, why not? Right?

      * We don’t use music during worship, except for the big drum, unlike other churches. This keeps pride away.

      We do use music.
      We have keyboards, guitars, drums, violins, tambourines, maracas, etc.
      Depending on the faith home, what they have access to and what musical skills are available within the congregation, different instruments are used.

      * We don’t let choir groups or believers to lead worship and only let our worker sisters lead in songs, unlike other churches.

      This is something that I AM proud of.
      When believer brothers and sisters are brought in to lead the music or singing, it invariably leads to jealousy, envy and infighting amongst believers.

      I’ve used to wonder why our pastor would not allow believer sister A lead the singing when she is SO much better at it than worker sister B (who sounded like a dying cat).

      I later agreed with him – that he would rather listen to a dying cat than open the door for believers to commit the sin of pride and envy.

      * From start to end of a service, our pastor/brother-in-charge will only lead all aspects of all services, unlike other churches.

      See my comments above about singing…

      * We don’t let other pastors to speak or share the word at functions held by our believers, unlike other churches.

      I don’t agree with this.
      I have seen functions where our pastors and elders have spoken before or after those from other churches, including Catholic priests and other independent pastors.

      * We don’t encourage youths to display their talents and thus keep them from falling in pride, unlike other churches.

      What talent are you talking about?
      If you are talking about singing, dancing and playing musical instruments, these are not talents.
      They are skills that are acquired.

      Talents are abilities that you are born with.
      Show me how many kids are born with the ability to play an instrument, sing or dance.

      Now to answer your question, talents and skills should be used to spread the word of God.
      Not to be displayed so that people can take pleasure from them or the person displaying it can derive satisfaction for himself/herself.

      I believe that in all our faith homes, the youth use their time and skills – playing music, helping with the arrangements, etc.

      1. Thanks for taking the pains to respond to my comments, unfortunately, you missed the point my dear friend. There is nothing wrong in many of the things that I’ve mentioned above viz. fasting, not watching TV, wearing white, etc. The point is, why do you have to boast about these things time and again, repeatedly, from the podium?
        You have this knack of taking things out of context and writing a whole essay, i must admit. And why not, you have spent 30 years in the organization that has excelled in taking things out-of-context.
        I know this, it’s very difficult to come out of the influence of TPM that has clouded our minds. Even if you try to reason with yourself, you will want to accept their explanation. But, the Spirit of God is mightier than all and it can break every chain of darkness and liberate, only if you allow Him to.
        God bless you.

    1. Wow finally you could gather some words to make a sentence. Why Child? You are not able to contradict it? Need some basic Sunday School classes (ah..Not the fake TPM Indoctrination classes) ?

  3. Good post
    I too was once a TPM believer, I asked lot of questions still non of the pastor’s answered it but said it’s bad to do research and ask questions,
    I was considered As a devil or back slider wat ever they cal it,
    But I got every answer for my questions from a pastor from a AG church,
    That helped me to grow spiritually and understand spirituality and God
    To have personal relationship with God,
    Once I asked a TPM pastor how Will u make out the difference between holy spirit and evil spirit since evil spirit shows the same sign of holy spirit,
    Coz once I heard a devil was casted out of a believer sister who used to profesy in church,
    The pastor got irritated for my question and said it’s bad to question and I was into wrong track,and lot… etc,
    But no clear answer,
    But Bible says clearly to test the spirit and to make sure the spirit is from God,

    Lot of questions

    I like the job here
    Atleast let the believers blindness be opened and start reading Bible,

    Yet false Christianity and cult are a real curse for Christianity

    As a true Christian we have to fight against these heresy

    1. Thank you, Brother. These people are wriggly worms which have perfected manipulation. The best way is not to question them as that leaves an open door for them to explain. Rather corner them based on bible verses and Tell them Straight at their face that they are on the WRONG and they need to repent.

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