Frequently Asked Questions and Comments
regarding the Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion Website
Many questions received from Field Guide visitors are related to one specific group or teacher of interest to the individual visitor. Yet the same exact questions are asked by other visitors about other groups or teachers. Therefore the questions below are generic, and you can fill in the blank with the name of the group or teacher of interest to you. The answer will still apply.
My name is Pamela Starr Dewey, and this website is my personal project, not the production of an organization of any kind. I’m a Christian who is not affiliated with any specific denomination. There are more details in the brief autobiographical sketch on this site.
I have a BA with High Honor, and graduate work, from Michigan State University in education, with an emphasis in my studies on Social Psychology and related fields. I have done extensive research, writing, and speaking for over 30 years regarding religious movements. My special areas of focus have been:
1. Religious Individuals and groups throughout history that have claimed that the End was near, that they were unique spokesmen for God related to this circumstance, and that protection through the events of the End Times would only be available through becoming part of their effort.
2. Religious groups formed in the past 200 years through the use of spiritually abusive and deceptive methods to get and keep members.
You can read the details on this in the brief overview of the purpose, and in the more extensive answer to the question raised in that overview, "Why ‘one more site’ dedicated to evaluating religious groups and teachers?"
There are obviously unlimited possibilities for inclusion, so anyone attempting such a project must have a way to prioritize. My choices are primarily based on considering first those groups and teachers that have in some way affected myself, my friends and family, and others with whom I have come in contact through my outreach efforts. In some cases, this means that I may include some which are quite obscure and don’t affect a very wide proportion of the population. However, after that, I consider those which may be currently having the widest influences in the modern world of religion.
Absolutely. In fact, a number of profiles of individuals and groups that are currently on the website were first suggested to me by visitors to the site. However, although I appreciate and carefully consider all suggestions, I have many other projects that I am involved with on a regular basis in writing and public speaking. So I can’t guarantee that I will have time to pursue research and writing on any specific individual or group.
As mentioned in the answer to #4 above, the possibilities of groups and teachers to include are unlimited. Yet my time is not unlimited. I continually add material, and may sooner or later get to the person or group mentioned in this question. I am not attempting to be the sole source of information on this topic on the Internet.
As mentioned in several places on this Field Guide website, inclusion of a website link is not intended in any way to be an endorsement of all of the content of such a website. Nor is it intended to be an endorsement of the theology or opinions of the authors of such a website. It is, rather, an indication that some of the documentation and information on such a site may prove valuable to readers as input in coming to their own conclusions regarding the topic under consideration. I trust the common sense of Field Guide readers to be able to discern the difference between documentation and opinion, on my site and the sites of others.
I do not "attack" the people whom I profile on my website. I provide information about them which I may find troubling, and which I believe others have a right to know. I share my concerns. If a reader does not find that they agree with those concerns, after carefully considering the documentation and commentary on my website, then I am comfortable with that. If this person truly is a special "servant of God," then nothing on my website can thwart their service. He will see to it that they prevail in spite of anything that anyone says about them.
I do not "attack" ministries. I provide information about them that I find troubling. It is up to the readers to come to their own conclusion whether the documentation and commentary I provide establishes that my concerns are valid, and whether they will reject those concerns or ultimately share them. Good works and charity do not provide an endorsement of all the activities or teachings of any group or teacher. We are not admonished in the scriptures that we must listen to anyone just because they do humanly good works, nor even if they appear to do miracles. In Matthew 7, Jesus says:
21 Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’ (NIV)
It is entirely possible for a false teacher, a false prophet, or a spiritually abusive or deceptive ministry to do acts of charity. Those acts do not make those that do them either true servants of God ... or harmless.
I don’t attack anyone. I provide information with which others can evaluate whether
they should give their support or allegiance to certain groups or teachers. Sincerity
is not an endorsement of the activities or teaching of anyone. We are not admonished
in the Bible to support or endorse the teachings and activities of others just because
they are sincere. Paul was sincere when he persecuted Christians to their death.
We are not to examine sincerity, we are to examine the actions and teachings of others
in the light of the scripture.
The effort of gathering the information for this website, creating the profiles, and posting them on the site is only a tiny portion of my efforts in life, and takes up only a relatively small amount of time. But indeed, one of the "good works" that I do is corresponding with, encouraging, and comforting people whose lives have been troubled or even devastated by some of the teachers and groups I profile.
I am wiling to take my chances with God. If I am truly going against His will with any of my efforts, I certainly hope He does whatever it takes to stop me. So far, the threats like this that I have received have failed to come to pass, even though I did not act upon the demands of the writers.
I don't. I tell others my concerns. And I am the world's foremost authority on what concerns me, personally; the foremost authority on the reasons I've developed those concerns; and the foremost collector of documentation that substantiates my own concerns. If a reader concludes, after carefully considering the material in one of the profiles on my website, that he is persuaded that my concerns are valid, I hope he will act upon that conclusion. If he finds that he does not share my concerns, I am convinced I have accomplished my responsibility.
Every Christian is called to make judgements, which are merely "conclusions based on evidence." There is a difference between being the sort of official "judge" who can impose a sentence on someone, and making "judgements." I have no power or authority over the life of anyone, to condemn them to Hell or inflict punishment on them in any way. But I do have authority to come to conclusions, and share those conclusions with others.
The statement by Jesus, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," is not saying that we should not judge the righteousness or unrighteousness of the actions and teachings of others. It is saying that only God can do the ultimate judgment and pass sentence, for good or for bad, of individuals. In Revelation 2:2, Jesus commends the Church in Ephesus for making judgments: "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false." (NIV) To "test" someone means to come to a judgment by observation of their works and fruit, regarding their claims for themselves.
15. What about David? His sins of adultery and murder were worse than the faults and weaknesses and sins of most people, yet the Bible teps us he was a "man after God’s own heart." If David were alive today would you write about his sins and faults and weaknesses?
I have always found this a strange example to use to excuse the activities of those who claim to be servants of God in the 21st century. Indeed, David’s sins have been written about and preserved for us for the past 3000 years or so! God did not sweep them under the carpet even when David repented. The record is there for others to learn from. As is the clear record of David’s repentance. No, we don’t hear of the sins, faults, and weaknesses of the average Israelite. But David’s power and influence was so great that he was held to a higher standard than the average person.
Someone in this century who has power and influence over hundreds, thousands, or
millions is likewise held to a higher standard. As Paul put it, "Not many of you
should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we that teach will
be judged more strictly." It would appear from the scripture that this is speaking
particularly of those within the Church who claim the right to declare to others
what they should believe. The reason for this may be in part because new believers
must rely for a time on those who know the scriptures more in depth to help them
understand—and if those others deceive them, they have no defenses because of their
If a modern teacher claims a "special" relationship with God, and implies that others should listen to and support him—maybe even "obey" him—because of that special standing, then he is held by God to a standard that includes being open to "testing" by those over whom he is claiming influence or authority.
This phrase is not in the Bible. Yes, we must be ready to forgive people. If a man is a pedophile and attacks a child, and then says he is sorry, I can certainly forgive him. But that does not mean I will or should "forget" that he has exhibited this problem. I would not choose to allow him to babysit my children—not because I hadn’t "forgiven" him for his former action, but because it would be very foolish to assume that the propensity was eliminated just because he proclaimed he was "sorry."
Likewise, if a person has made false prophecies in the past (openly claiming special revelation from God) I can "forgive" them for misleading me or others. But that doesn’t mean that I should forget that the person is a false prophet. This problem would not have come up in the Old Covenant dispensation. Back then, he would have been stoned to death! False prophets didn’t even get a chance to make Mistake #2. But even though there is no physical penalty in our time for prophesying falsely, it is utter folly to "forget" that someone has prophesied falsely in the past, and continue to look to them as someone who is a "prophecy expert." The fact that they are embarrassed and "sorry" for their prophetic failure doesn’t change the reality that they failed. We are not required by the scriptures to "forget" what they have done, regardless of the apparent sincerity of their public apology.
In addition, when some Pharisees came to John wanting baptism, he confronted them with a demand that they "bring forth fruit meet for repentance." In other words, talk is cheap. Just because someone says "Oops! Sorry!" regarding his actions doesn’t give him carte blanche. Far too many teachers, preachers, and heads of religious movements have caused devastating spiritual, emotional, psychological—and even sometimes physical—harm to those over whom they have had power and influence. Some of them have committed gross sins and crimes. Others have been guilty of covering up greed and lavish lifestyles paid for by the sacrifice of the poor. And when caught in the act, and/or called to account for all these things, they have said, "Oh, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me." Yet there is precious little in their life that gives evidence of the depth of this "repentance." They have gone right back to using the same tactics. There is nothing in the scripture that indicates that observers of all of this should just "forget" what these people have done because they mouthed a few words of regret.
Kings in the Old Testament were anointed. High Priests were anointed. And yes, they had such special positions that it was accurate to speak of them as "God’s Anointed." But now we have only one High Priest, One King—and one "God’s Anointed." That is Jesus Christ. The term Christ comes from the Greek word for Anointed. It has the same meaning as the term Messiah, which is an English version of the Hebrew word Moshiach. Jesus Christ is "The Anointed One." To use such a term for a human now is disrespectful of our Lord at best, and blasphemous at worst. It sends chills down my spine whenever I get this question from a website visitor. They need to understand the folly of putting a mere human up on such a pedestal.
18. The Bible says, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Would you want others to treat you the way you have treated some of the teachers and preachers covered in the Field Guide by talking about their mistakes?
It is none of my business what anyone does in their private life that affects only their own limited family and circle of friends. That is between them and God, and they can work out their difficulties among themselves. But a person who would put himself forward as a "leader" of some sort in the Body of Christ, such as a pastor, evangelist, teacher, or preacher, is held by the Bible to a high standard of integrity and conduct. If his teachings and actions have the power to affect large numbers of people, then his qualifications for leadership are subject to public scrutiny and comment. And any of his teachings and actions that may harm those over whom he has power and influence are subject to biblical evaluation. If he claims authority from God, then he must be subject to the authority of scripture, and to the right of his followers to examine his ministry carefully and evaluate it in the light of scripture. As mentioned in #13 above, in Revelation 2:2, Jesus commends those who do this sort of evaluation, and act upon it.
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. (NIV)
And yes, if I should find myself some day in a position of power over others in this way, I would expect to be subject to the same scriptural standards.
Absolutely not. My efforts in putting this Field Guide material together and making it available on this website take up a small portion of my time. The larger profiles may have each taken a week or two of intense effort to compile and write up, but once that is done the issue is only maintenance. For many years I have written, and spoken to groups large and small all across the country, about many basic Christian living topics, basic Bible study concepts, and inspirational, motivational, and educational themes. I have over a dozen websites and several blogs, covering a similar wide area of topics. And beyond that, I invest the majority of my time being the best housewife, wife, mother, and grandmother I can be.
You can get a small taste of what I think about, write about, and talk about on my StarrTrekking blog. See the link below.
BLOGS by the webauthor of the Field Guide:
It’s a 3-
The Rapture! The Great Tribulation! The Second Coming! Could you be Left Behind??
According to many prophecy pundits, The End is Nigher than Nigh! Prophecy Panic
Button takes a closer look, evaluating the never-
Inspirational, motivational, and educational commentary from the webauthor of the Field Guide.
Cheerful, lighthearted, uplifting articles on popular culture topics.
Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this Field Guide website
is © 2001-
Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.