Posts com Tag ‘Maranatha Christian Church’

The following is a commentary, adapted from an article I was originally preparing to DEFEND Maranatha against it’s harsher critics (regarding it’s doctrine and practices). Times have changed, but I still strive to be fair and balanced here, and have adjusted the article accordingly:

* One practice people joining the group should be aware of is consulting the word. By this I mean, opening the bible and reading the first verse your eyes fall upon – as a kind of modern day “casting of lots”. In Maranatha we are taught that God can speak through a “positive” or “negative” verse to give a yes or no answer to a question. We are also given some helpful guidelines to avoid abuses, and even acknowledge that God is not obligated to speak. The casting of lots was something practiced in the early church, and therefore I cannot condemn this practice as “unbiblical”, “bibliomancy” or “diviniation” as some of Maranatha’s harsher critics have. God can speak through the scriptures, and opening to a verse gives Him an opportunity to put his “yes” or “no” into context, where the verse illustrates a similar that mirrors our own. I will not limit God by denying this practice as hersey or completely wrong. Where Maranatha falters in this, is the frequency of this practice, which in EFFECT obligates God to speak. God is NOT obligated to speak. Personally, I believe, that myself, and even other Christians in the past (Wesley, and others) have had some interesting experiences where we understood God was speaking through the scriptures this way. Despite the best intentions of the group, this practice can still be problematic, and not always reliable. It is a noble goal to give God an opportunity to speak and include Him in our decision.

* Another practice is Pleading the Blood of Jesus. In Maranatha we’re taught that the “Blood” is the “Holy Spirit” who circulates like blood in the “Body of Christ” (the Church, and it’s members) bringing pardon, life, peace, security, communion, joy, etc. This practice of using this vocabulary “Lord, I/we plead the blood of Jesus…” however has been weilded in a legalistic manner, in which we are led to believe that our prayers might not reach God. This for me is similar to catholics making gestures of the sign of the cross. Isn’t this superstition? Does every activity must begin with this prayer (the beginning of a service; before we drive in a vehicle; consult the word; etc)? Forgetting or ignoring this sentence is frowned upon in the organization. I believe this leads people to carry out this prayer legalisticly – I know it did for me. The bible however has no such practice in the New Testament. What is clear is that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive and to CLEANSE us, when we CONFESS our sins. He CLEANSES us with the BLOOD when we WALK IN THE LIGHT, having fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7-9). The only thing that should be obligatory in our prayers is that it is directed to the FATHER, and IN JESUS NAME. The sprinkling/application of Jesus, once and for all, shed blood – is AUTOMATIC for those IN CHRIST. Many in Maranatha seem to want to cling to this practice, citing “experiences” on account of “pleading the blood” (while not considering that God has answered their prayers out of His mercy and grace, and because they prayed to the FATHER in JESUS NAME – no more, no less).

I will continue to post more commentary on this thread in the future, as there is more people should be aware of.

Prophetic Services (Handling Of Spiritual Gifts) – Before services and other church activities, there is a “prophetic service” (pre service meeting) that happens. There any mature baptised member can participate. There they continue to seek and share what the Lord’s REVEALED will is, as manifested through the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit (as per 1 Cor 12). For example, someone might have a revelation/vision/dream about something God wants to direct the local group in. The purpose of this meeting is to bring all this revealed knowledge to the table. There it is to be discerned (e.g. – Does this gift come from God or not?); and handled with wisdom (e.g. How do we apply what God has revealed for today?). For example, the message (sermon) preached for a service (and song selection) should fit with what the Lord has shown. So if the Lord shown an item/issue/need/direction – then whatever is communicated to the church (message, songs, etc) should address that theme. Spiritual Gifts are discerned to be from the Lord, also by having 2 or 3 members have consult the word (see previous description). This is problematic however in a prophetic service where there is more than 2 or 3 people. What if only those who had “positive” (yes) verses from the Lord read? There will in theory always be the risk of false positives. All this said, I still believe Spiritual Gifts are something still for today, and that God has specific things to say every day for everything in our walk as Christians. This however should NEVER go against what God has revealed in the scriptures (which contain His general will). I also believe this system in Maranatha of handling the gifts corporately, has some safeguards, that other Pentecostal and Charismatic groups lack. Even so, there is a lack of realism among the members and leadership about the positive results of this. There is still plenty of room for abuses and error. It’s this system by which members look to when they claim that we do everything “by revelation”.

Permission For “Water Baptism – New members and converts are NOT to be baptised in the waters immediately. There is a waiting period where the leadership seeks the Lord as to whether or not so-and-so is ready. This goes against the pattern of the New Testament, which had no obligatory probationary period. When seeking the Lord, they implement the previously mentioned practice of “consulting the word” (e.g. using positive/negative verses in the bible to give a yes/no answer – similar to casting of lots).

Confirming The “Baptism Of The Holy Spirit” – Baptism of the Holy Spirit, is likewise confirmed via “consulting the word” at the end of a beginners seminar class (on the subject of “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”). If the Lord gives a positive verse in the bible, then “yes” you have been baptised with the Holy Spirit, if negative/”no” then not, etc. That said, the group does not deny that the Holy Spirit can baptise before or after that class. This class and consultation however lends itself to false positives, and comes across as rather mechanical in nature. No such practice in the NT, of confirming the Baptism of the Holy Spirit can be found.

“Orientations” which are “Revealed” by “God” through a centralized global “Presbytery”/”Hierarchy” – In Maranatha, there is a top-down chain of command, from God through a centralized hierarchy situated in Vila Vehla, ES, Brazil. From there come “orientations” (instructions that God revealed) on just about anything under the sun (messages to preach, announcements, flower arrangements details, prayer chains, dress code, final say on who gets “raised” to the “ministry”, etc). These are typically required for ALL of the LOCAL groups in the world to follow. There is no true autonomy for local groups – and to do so will very likely land the local pastor in a trouble. This in general is potentially very dangerous, as it lends itself to legalism and Spiritual abuse (e.g. it did not prevent the major scandal, nor the reported mistreatment of former members and pastors, etc). Many online in Orkut communities, blogs and others have reported discouraging reports about this. As for a centralized leadership, there was no such heirarchy in the New Testament. Meetings like in Acts 15, were the exception and not the rule, since no such setup of micro-managing was practically possible (nor needed) back then. Authoritarianism has been widely reported as well, and evidenced by the lack of freedom in expressing doubts, questions and concerns. Again, this lends itself to legalism, errors and abuses going unquestioned (e.g. – because the members are led to believe that EVERYTHING is done by revelation). I speak from experience here and have talked to numerous former pastors about this here and abroad.

Here are some things to search on Orkut, blogs and internet to get a flavour of what many are reporting. The Orkut communities contain the least edifying discussion, while one website by a former pastor contains many correspondences of former members, which are handled in a more fair and balanced matter. Ultimately, you should have your own experience with God about these things, and not rely on other people for this. This is however useful to know in general as a smoke test (because where there is smoke, quite often there is also fire). The Orkut groups and blogs contain links to articles in the media and are updated frequently. Again, I am not a harsh critic of the organization, and do not necessarily endorse everything written there. Solon’s letters is probably more edifying to read:

** Orkut Group: Igreja Cristã Maranata (Maranatha Christian Church): []

** Orkut Group: Já fui um Maranata (I Was In Maranatha): []

** Cavalerio Veloz (Swift Knight) Blog: []

** Solon (Website – Safer and more edifying): [] (Letters) and [] (Testimonies – including excerpts from a book that give a less romantic version of the organizations origins)

You can also research controversy and scandals about the group in the media in Brazil (Vitoria, ES, Brazil) by searching for “Maranata” on:

Please note: The above mentioned links are in Portuguese – but you can use [] to paste in the link (or text) to see it in English.


This is not the same “Maranatha” as others have wondered about. This group began in Vila Vehla, ES, Brazil a bit over 40 years ago. Most members speak Portuguese and not much information is available in English. I will begin by posting why I left. In future follow-ups I will comment on some of the doctrines and practices:

The group has not lived up to the continual reminders of us doing everything by God’s revelation. While this hasn’t been always stated clearly, it is something understood by many members based on criticism from their puplits (especially in seminars) about other groups, leading one to conclude, that this group is the exception. Most groups do not lead their members to believe this, and are more realistic and humble (which is why I’m not picking on them). Striving to do everything by “revelation” is a noble, goal, and I do believe many in Maranatha are committed to this goal, but are not realistic or open enough about the human factor, given their unwillingness or inability to hold their leaders accountable. Until this changes I cannot recommend this group any more.

I recognize the Body of Christ, and faithful Christians, are not only to be found in Maranatha. Again, while this is not always stated directly, it is something understood by many members. When backed into a corner, most members and pastors will freely admit that this can be found in other groups, although this admission rings hollow for me. I wanted to be free to gather with other Christians and groups without feeling judged or punished for it. This is something frowned upon, and has been reported to have limited people in what they could do in Maranatha (because they are “in religion” and have “not understood the Work”). Until this changes, in a meaningful way, I cannot recommend this group any more.

Former pastors, members have been treated as apostates and spiritually dead. While not all people leave denominations for noble reasons – this certainly is not true of all of them. While it is wise to exercise caution, I believe there is again an unwritten and unofficial code in place in Maranatha to shun former members regardless of what led to their departure. Until this changes, I cannot recommend this group any more.

In the media in Brazil, Maranatha is currently the subject of a major church scandal involving money laundering, and related crimes. The investigation into has touched the highest levels of leadership in the organization. Administratively, the organization has taken some positive steps to prevent future misuse of church resources. Spiritually, myself and many others have detected a lot of whitewashing in the preaching and seminars. There seems to be a lack of humility and realism among the leadership and members regarding this. When King David was caught in sin, he repented. Up until now I have seen no repentance from the leaders who have preached in the past that Maranatha is “The Work of David”. If there is even one sin to be repented of, it should be been long repented of by now. Unless they are 100% sinless in this matter, then they should repent. This scandal in my mind cannot be much different from all the other scandals in the Christian world. This plus other inconsistencies others have personally witnessed in the leadership do not give me any confidence to believe they have no reason to repent. Until this changes, I cannot recommend this group any more.


Letter Sent to Presbitery Portuguese

I write to the Presbitery of the Maranatha Christian Church and to all friends who prayed for me and my family
and those who collaborated when I was a worker, a deacon and, most recently, a pastor so that our work in the church
would be fruitful.
Our message comes along a profound sadness and disappointment that we are announcing our resignation in our membership in the Maranatha Christian Church effective today, September 3rd, 2012.
Our decision is personal, especially in a difference of opinion according to eh Bible relating to the measures and decisions taken by the current leadership body of the church.
Though during the period in which I was evaluating this decision there were several publications in Brazil regarding the scandals of the church, these did not influence our decision in any way.
Although we are certain of the operation of the Holy Spirit in the Maranatha Christian Church, we cannot allow ourselves to continue to be led by a sectarian leadership that is intolerant, ignoring the basic principles of the gospel, especially “love.”

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I John 4:8
I see today an agenda much different than that which nurtured the beginning of the church I partook in for forty-four years.
We have always taught and practiced faithfulness to those whom the Lord placed above us and overall to an effort so that the work of the Lord (which bears no official name) could prosper.
My family and I placed our efforts with all sincerity and devotion to the aid of the ministry of the time to begin the church in Boston in 1998 and we continue to work with this same dedication still today.
We are not, in any way, relinquishing the faith the Lord has placed in our hearts, nor are we denying any of what we have preached or lived in the past.

We are merely seeking an environment of peace, free from personal interests or hostilities.
The ministry that was entrusted to me by the Lord Himself, through his infinite grace, is irrevocable by the will of man and will never be undone by whoever it may be.
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself,[a] so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,” I Timothy 1:12
“But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.” Acts 26:16
“Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:15-16
“Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” I Corinthians 4:1
“of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:7
“And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” Colossians 4:17
I would like to thank all those with whom we walked throughout these forty-four years as well as those who collaborated with me and my family in prayers and assistance.
I also thank all once more for the fellowship we shared.
We would like all to know that we will continue to hold the utmost respect for those whom we know in the church and I will be asking the Lord to bring all back to a less political direction.
I will never demonstrate sentiments of joy or triumph in seeing such facts taking place in your midst, rather I will be hopeful that a new path is taken to ensure the prosperity of the Maranatha Christian Church.


Paulo Sousa
Carta de Paulo Sousa Portuguese>>    Next>> 


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