While packing away some old books recently, I flipped one open and saw this sentence, “The heart breaks with the thought, ‘If only I had spent more time with God, I would have had more power.'”
The writer was Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India who rescued hundreds of little girls from sexual slavery in Hindu temples (a practice which has since been outlawed in India). What she meant by “more power” was exactly what Mother Theresa would have meant – more power to love and help people.
In the Assembly, however, the term “more power” had an entirely different meaning. As Steve points out in his analysis of G. G.’s ‘Cycle of Devotion’, the purpose of spending time with God in the approved way was to make us powerful centers of divine authority.
Our cult leader was enamored with the concept of spiritual power. This is the nerve that was poked by the quote I ran across.*
G. G. wanted was us to become powerful communicators and enforcers of his vision, not individuals who had a relationship to God which enabled us to love one another. Mainly he wanted us to learn to boss others around with the backing of divine authority.
Within his hierarchy (which had absolutely nothing to do with clergy, mind you), he had the authority of apostleship over the whole shebang, “The Work”. Under him Elders, Leading Brothers and Itinerant Workers had authority over each local gathering. Under them, leaders of outreaches, training homes, etc. (most of them Workers) had various degrees of authority over individuals.
And of course, everyone under these people had to believe unquestioningly that their leaders had power and authority from God.
Aaack! I did not enjoy seeing that ‘more power’ quotation, but I’m glad I ran across it, because it’s helped me purge out just a bit more Assembly-think.
* Amy Carmichael, God’s Missionary, quoted in You Are My Hiding Place, p. 40, by David Hazard. Although Amy was staunchly Church of England and the Book of Common Prayer, she was strongly influenced by the Keswick movement and Andrew Murray. This made her meditations compatible with the Assembly ethos, but with an unswerving emphasis on love.