“He got an award??…good for him…how does that change anything….what our church does and what our church does not is left to God and the church…why don’t we leave the “judging” part to God???…Let me tell you something if you didn’t know…There are pastors in TPM who fast right from Thursday to get the message for Sunday Sermon…so whatever they speak…God puts the words in their mouth…So it is my understanding that 99.99% of what they say is correct…Whatever decisions they have taken are 100% by the counsel of God…Servants of God are next to parents…I know how much they pray for me…much more than my parents..So y don’t we stop making useless allegations against Church doctrines,servants of God..etc?“
That was me in 2008. A 19yr old, on fire for TPM.
My name is Ranjith Joy and I have been a staunch TPM believer for most of my life.
This was in response to a comment in Orkut’s TPM group which said “TPM kicked out Muttom Geevarghese and IPC welcomed him and after years of ministry he was presented with an award”. The thread itself was started by someone critical of TPM doctrines.
So severe was my brainwashing that nothing other than God’s irresistible grace would have pulled me out of this cult.
It is hard for me to blame anyone inside TPM personally because I know it is the institution that is guilty. The pastors are just a product that this cult produces. The ones who are really guilty of making TPM the way it is, are long dead and gone. The present ones are just slaves to the system because they don’t know any better. All their life, all they’ve been taught is this one thing, that “there is no better church than this. TPM alone has apostolic doctrines”. That being said, it is high time people of influence from inside the system that do know better take a stand for truth and for the sake of the gospel.
I’m from Bangalore and used to attend Frazer Town branch. I come from a family with strong TPM roots. Both my maternal and paternal great grandparents were TPM believers. My paternal great grandfather was the sunday school head master of Kottarakara once upon a time and few of my relatives are in TPM’s “ministry”. It goes without saying, that “the brainwashing was strong with this one”.
I happened to be the kid who just accepted everything preached by TPM pastors. I used to view TPM’s “consecrated servants” only second to God. When I was in my kindergarten (probably 4 or 5 years old), when TPM ministers used to come visiting, I would see them from my window and shout “dhaivam varunnu, dhaivam varunnu” translated as “God’s coming, God’s coming”. Such was my view of them.
TV and Medicine
We had a TV in our home when I was a kid. When I was 12 years old, I made my dad throw it out because TPM said those who own a TV will not go at the rapture (as a scared kid I even had nightmares where I would be left behind because I was watching TV). After a couple of years, my sister decided to stop visiting doctors and take medicine, I too followed suit. For the next 10 years I never visited the doctor or took medicine.
I once was stricken with typhoid when I was 16. Only God knows the heart, but TPM ministers did come and pray for me and they did take care of me during that period. That’s what makes this more tragic. There are well meaning people who have sold their souls to this denomination who are preaching man-made doctrines as if it were the word of God.
I completed all of my years in Sunday school, right from standard 1 to standard 11. So anyone claiming “I don’t know what TPM teaches” would be wrong. I own most TPM publications and have read most of them. Such was my dedication to this denomination. I don’t remember asking a single question during all the years of my Sunday school. I accepted it just because it was in the “syllabus”. After all, all these teachings were delivered to our “saints” directly from “Zion”, right? I was unbelievably naive.
Once the pastor from our local assembly came visiting. In our living room, in the showcase, there was an empty photo frame that my sister had gifted me as a kid. In the empty photo frame there was 2 little kids playing and a heart shaped symbol on it. When the pastor saw it, he asked me to throw it out and I obliged. It was supposedly sinful to keep anything with a heart symbol in the house (who knew, right?)
Speaking to the opposite sex was an absolute no-no. You could see TPM leaders giving disgusting looks when you happen to speak to girls.
TPM ministers would control who you have as your friends (even inside TPM). They are control freaks. This was certainly true in my sister’s experience with them.
My journey away from TPM
This is a little hard to explain. There is not one single day that I had an epiphany that TPM is a false church. It was a gradual process over a number of years (still reforming).
Ever since my late teens I got interested in theological debates and discussion. It started off with moderating a large TPM group on Orkut. I used to spend countless days defending TPM doctrines. I knew all the one liners when it came to defending TPM.
If anyone would question TPM’ divine healing doctrine, I would go to 2 Chronicles 16:12 and James 5:14-16. If anyone used Titus 1 and 1 Tim 3 and questioned celibacy of TPM ministers, I would laugh if off using a joke borrowed from TPM books (the umbrella joke). I was of the opinion that God would bring anyone who had the “gift of singleness” to TPM so that they can do full time ministry. If they questioned sinless perfectionism, I would quote verses from John 8 and Col 1:28. But of course, like my overlords, I had perfected the art of cherry picking verses and ignored all context.
From 2010 to 2013, I was in the UK and attended TPM there (called UPC there). I would sense some things wrong in TPM’s teachings but would brush it off as being unimportant. I also became actively involved in engaging with Roman Catholics online. It was during this time where I had to stop defending TPM and start using Scripture as my standard. You see, I couldn’t tell a Catholic that Purgatory was unbiblical because “my pastor’s divine revelation says so”. I had to dig deeper into the word.
During the same time I started listening to sound biblical preachers like John Piper, Matt Chandler, Francis Chan and James White. This was the first time in my life that the gospel became clear to me. All these years it was buried under a heap of manmade garbage. The true biblical gospel had no “New Jerusalem” and “Zion” and the “144,000” and the infamous “7 steps of salvation”. It was unapologetically biblical. It wasn’t about focussing on the “here and now” neither was it about our “health and wealth”. There was no focus on the “clergy”. It was all about God — Mankind was desperately lost, totally depraved. There was nothing man could do (neither was he willing to do since he was dead in his sins) to save himself. But because God loves us, by his sovereign grace regenerates this dead man and gives him eternal life. This was accomplished on the cross 2000 years back when the only begotten eternal Son gave his life as a ransom for all those who believe and on the third day He rose again!
But fear, unimaginable fear kept me inside. I would listen to these amazing sermons but then be so fearful of leaving TPM because of all the curses I grew up listening to. I couldn’t shake off the fear that something bad will happen if you leave TPM. Convincing my parents was another mountain to climb.
For 2 years from 2013-15, I attended TPM just because I didn’t want to hurt my parents’ feelings. I would go to church on Sundays but come back and listen to real teachings from other men of God – but still the fear never left. It was always at the back of my mind.
In early 2015 my dad sensed that it was pointless making me attend TPM when that was the last thing I wanted to do. So he told me to go wherever I was happy. I left TPM at once and started attending a non-denominational church.
Then in May 2015, my dad passed away in a road accident while trying to cross a road. But his last words before he left home that day stuck with me and always will. He said, “There are no coincidences, nothing happens accidentally. Give glory to God in everything”. What are the odds, right? Speaking of co-incidences and accidents merely hours before meeting with one? But yea, it bolstered my faith that God is in charge and that He is in control of everything. After the accident my dad was rushed to a nearby hospital and treated. The pastors and other workers knew about it since they came there. But during the funeral service they lied saying “God didn’t permit a single drop of medicine to enter his body”. They are opportunists. They would turn even a death to glorify their man-made doctrines. The two years following that was nothing short of a mess. I was without a job for over 2 years. Depression took center stage.
I had to go back to TPM because my mom was travelling alone every Sunday. So from 2015 to 2017, I attended TPM. The more I attended and the more I heard what was preached, the more I knew this wasn’t what Christ’s church looked or sounded like. This was a cult whose only talent was misusing the bible to enslave the masses. The people who are truly born again in TPM are so not because of TPM but inspite of TPM.
In June 2017, I had 2 choices in front of me, continue attending TPM for the sake of it or look for a sound biblical church where I can serve and grow. By God’s grace I chose the latter. I found a wonderful gathering of saints and have been a part of that church since then. God has given me the opportunity to listen to His word preached from the pulpit every Sunday. Something I should never take for granted after years and years of false teachings.
In September 2017 God exceeded my expectations and gave me a good job. He is also helping me grow as a Christian. I now can’t believe the things I believed in while in TPM. There were so many false doctrines that you can only see when you take a step back and look on it from the outside.
Red flags that made me aware of TPM’s false doctrines/practices
Over the course of my “journey away from TPM”, many red flags would pop up that God helped to make me aware of the errors in TPM.
- I found so many instances of TPM twisting scripture and proof texting to validate their man-made doctrines. I couldn’t reconcile any of TPM’s exclusive doctrines when I tested it against scripture. It held no water when reading scripture in context.
- Some of those doctrines were the seven steps of salvation, TPM’s zion, new heaven, new Jerusalem and new Earth, TPM’s divine healing doctrine, TPM’s teachings surrounding the gift of tongues, mandatory celibacy of elders, justification by faith and works etc.
- Pastor MT preached twice saying Daniel was sinless just like Jesus. There was no way someone who knew the bible could preach something so blasphemous. I think this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
- Communion was withheld from those who consumed medicine. I stopped taking communion in TPM when I heard that preached from the pulpit even though I was “medicine free”. There was no biblical basis for such a rule.
- One pastor preached saying the European Parliament has seat number 666 that is vacant and it will be filled by the anti-Christ. One quick search can tell you that it is false and that it is filled. This told me most TPM preachers have no clue what they preach. They just read some conspiracy articles and throw it all into a chart and call it a “bible study’.
- I took a glance at the TPM song books and could see so much of it was blatantly worshipping mere men instead of God.
- TPM’s doctrine that the pastors are the High Priest (A teaching so blasphemous that even the Roman Catholics know better)
- Seven steps of salvation riddled with works which was completely opposite to what the bible teaches.
- I researched into signs of cults and found TPM meeting most of its requirements (Sites like these helped https://crossexamined.org/10-signs-cultic-church/)
- I had a friend whose dad was made to apologize to the church in tears because his son got married in a different church – another behaviour of a cult. Around the same time a circular was read in church listing the rules and regulation regarding marriage and whatsapp.
- Judging people’s eternal state and assigning place for them in eternity when it is God’s job to do that. For example, TPM judges that Stephen who died as a martyr would only go to New Heaven (another place made up by TPM) because he wasn’t “perfect enough”.
- Because of TPM’s insistence on wearing white, it would only help in creating hypocrites and whitewashed sepulchres. A biblical church would address the ‘heart issue’ first and foremost, while also laying down the biblical teaching on “dressing modestly”. But TPM goes beyond the written text (or maybe butcher a passage from Revelation) to make us “look holy”.
- Chanting “praise the lord” like the pagans. One teaching I heard was that our chanting PTLs would be accumulated in our “heavenly bank account” and we could withdraw it when we needed a favor from God. There was nothing Christian about this doctrine.
- Threatening curses on those who didn’t tithe, when tithing wasn’t a NT concept.
- The pride and elitism and came with being a TPMite. You HAD to look down on other children of God as being inferior to you. I just couldn’t see how one could be a true “TPMite” without also being prideful and elitist. I knew God hated pride.
I write this testimony as an encouragement to those who are in the process or thinking of leaving TPM. You won’t regret it. There is true life outside those four walls that bind you. My advice is this. Don’t leave TPM because you see people sinning. Leave for the right reasons. Let the reason be – The Gospel. Hold scripture as your highest standard. Test everything you hear against the word of God. You will not have the clarity of the gospel inside TPM. You do not want your children growing up listening these false doctrines and in a cultish atmosphere. Take them to a church where they can be nurtured the biblical way. Way too many lives are destroyed because they don’t hear the gospel in TPM. I often thank God because he first showed me the false teachings of TPM and then the Pandora’s Box of rottenness inside TPM. By the time I saw the Pandora’s Box, I already knew TPM was a false church. The sins are the result of these false doctrines. Leave for the right reason.
Soli Deo Gloria.