analyzing the group

For so long in Columbus, the community has known that there is something special – or something strange – or something damaging about this group, but no one has quite put their finger on it. Explore how and why abuse arises within the church.

Abuse through Religious Dogmatism

Numerous claims have been brought against Xenos throughout the years related to various forms of abuse including high levels of control, violation of privacy regarding intimate personal details, and emotional and psychological abandonment. Despite these accusations, church leadership maintains that there exists no systemic issue of control, manipulation, or ill intent towards current or former members of the organization. Indeed, a careful review of church responses to allegations of abuse indicates that members and leaders themselves may be largely unaware of the origin and causes of such claims. Church leadership asserts that Xenos is an organization which adheres to mainstream biblical doctrines but with an emphasis on lay ministry and content-rich, biblical conviction. Members and leadership alike have defended their intentions as fundamentally positive and loving, though marked by the failures common to all imperfect people. Through God’s redemptive grace, individual members continuously strive towards a self-motivated spiritual life. How then do we reconcile the significant claims of abuse with the apparent, sincerely held belief that members and leadership have acted with the best possible intentions and – insofar as their imperfect humanity allows – have a clear conscience regarding their organization and actions? This question constitutes the central theme of this article in which I will seek to outline the systemic structures and endemic belief system which engenders an environment organically resulting in significant incidences of trauma with little sense of guilt or responsibility on behalf of church members themselves and without reliance on corrupt or evil intentions.

Dwell Community Church & Xenos Christian Fellowship:
exploring how well-meaning individuals cause significant abuse through religious dogmatism 

We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.

Slavoj Zizek

Self righteousness is the inevitable fruit of simple moral judgments.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Divorce and Remarriage

Given that the guidance on marriage and divorce in the New Testament is sparse and far from clear, we believe it is important to understand the underlying spirit of the passages in the greater context of grace that Christians have been granted by the blood of Christ and a new spiritual covenant with God. Marriage represents an important covenantal relationship between husband and wife which should be treated with the seriousness endowed by its reflection as the ultimate relationship between God and mankind. From Creation to Sinai to the Cross, the call of the marriage covenant has always been to protect and sustain, as God protects and sustains his people. The intention has never been to trap individuals in a painful and detrimental situation based on a legalistic adherence to arbitrary standards. In order to honor the true covenant of marriage, we have an obligation to recognize concessions for spouses who face serious harm under deeply flawed human marriages, and those concessions should be based upon the most fulsome understanding of harm that the modern era can provide us with. In a marriage that affords neither protection nor sustenance to either spouse, with little hope of such conditions being realized in the future, we are of the opinion that a divorce is justified under the spirit of biblical principles, that grace is sufficient, and that such decision may be guided by the individual heart devoted to God. Moreover, we believe that every individual should have a right to experience the benefits of a marriage where both parties strive to mirror the new relationship between God and his people that has been bought and paid for by Christ’s blood. To call Christian spouses to remain in dangerous and psychologically damaging marriages is to misunderstand the grace of God and the true meaning of an indissoluble covenant meant to faithfully protect and sustain.

Divorce and Remarriage:
Critical Commentary of Dwell Community Church

Dissertation: The Jesus Movement & Fundamentalism

This dissertation is an historical study of the Jesus People Movement (JPM) in central Ohio. At present, two of these groups exist as megachurches in Columbus, OH. Each would consider themselves as something other than fundamentalist. Their story owes its importance, in part, to their strong connection to evangelical leaders previously associated with Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC). This connection extends the narrative outside of Ohio to the West Coast. These mentors had set up a network of JPM experiments including alternative seminary, experimental forms of local church polity and community, other JPM groups (including the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley, CA), and experiments in communal living. In other words, this dissertation provides a helpful case study for answering an historically contested question surrounding the JPM: Was it anything new, or were the changes cosmetic? To be sure, these groups believed they were leaving fundamentalism behind, but it proved more difficult to escape than imagined.

"The Fish House, later Xenos Christian Fellowship, broke off from their mentors when the NCAO was formed. This chapter will examine the outcomes of a JPM group that remained fiercely independent while emphasizing the biblical authority and inerrancy stream and attempting to build their restorationist vision strictly on their reading of the New Testament. The subjective / experiential stream is not denied but is deemphasized and neglected. The result is intrusive authoritarianism. Over the years, accusations that they are a cult have plagued this church of 6000 in Columbus, OH."

Coming Home: The Jesus People Movement and Attempts to Escape Fundamentalism

Man's achievements in this world are but attempts, and a temple that comes to mean more than a reminder of the living God is an abomination.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Doubt remained in the background and had to be silenced again and again by an ever growing fanatic belief that the religious community to which one belonged represented the part of mankind which had been chosen by God.

Erich Fromm