Guest / Limited Access /

In his new book "Recovering from Churches That Abuse," sociologist Ronald Enroth devotes little more than 25 pages to Jesus People U.S.A. (JPUSA), an Evangelical Covenant Church and intentional community based in the tough Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.

But for a year, Enroth, JPUSA officials, top leaders of the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination, and mutual friends in evangelical countercult ministries have churned out many more pages of furious correspondence as JPUSA has worked to clear its name before publication of the book. Based on 70 hours of interviews with more than 40 former members of JPUSA, Enroth maintains that the community is authoritarian and ostracizes its departing members.

In his book, Enroth praises JPUSA's "wonderful ministry to the margins of society in the inner city of Chicago." He also says JPUSA "has had a positive impact on the Christian world through Cornerstone magazine and REZ band."

"Ironically, though, many of its own members have been marginalized in the interests of 'the ministry' and 'the community,'" Enroth writes. "I have done my homework and am willing to stake my reputation on it," Enroth has assured board members of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR), an umbrella organization.

JPUSA has held Enroth to those words, vigorously questioning his reputation and his methodology in a 96-page issue of Cornerstone issued before the book's release.

That issue of Cornerstone has divided EMNR board members, which includes JPUSA member Eric Pement, Elliot Miller of Christian Research Institute, and three other leaders in the countercult movement: James Bjornstad, Gordon Lewis, and Bob Passantino.

"Two board members called me and were upset about [the Cornerstone issue] and felt ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedKirsten Powers: The Rise of the Intolerant Left
Kirsten Powers: The Rise of the Intolerant Left
The commentator says we are in a new McCarthyist era—and that the Americans quashing free speech are the ones who have typically heralded it.
TrendingJosh Duggar of '19 Kids and Counting' Apologizes, Resigns after Reports of Molesting 5 Young Girls
Josh Duggar of '19 Kids and Counting' Apologizes, Resigns after Reports of Molesting 5 Young Girls
Police investigated sexual assaults in 2006, but no charges were brought against Duggar. TLC pulls program from its lineup.
Editor's PickThe Key to Prosperity
The Key to Prosperity
It's not knowledge or work ethic, it turns out.
Comments
Christianity Today
Conflict Divides Countercult Leaders
hide thisJuly 18 July 18

In the Magazine

July 18, 1994

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.