Some Christian reflections on Gloriavale

by | 29 Mar 2024 | 0 comments

Some Christian reflections on Gloriavale

by | 29 Mar 2024 | 0 comments

The current TV series Escaping Utopia is somewhat sensationalist and has its own biases, but it has usefully highlighted some serious issues in the Gloriavale Christian Community.

Many secular New Zealanders may wonder if Gloriavale is what all Christians are like.

Historically, there have countless examples around the world of separatist Christian communities, where a group of believers are moved by a vision of holy communal life and opt out of normal society. Monasticism was such a movement: it has had its problems, but along the way has also done much good.

Withdrawal from society always carries risks. Separatist groups can develop tunnel-vision, and can sometimes become cultish, coercive, and corrupted.

The biblical beliefs and sincere Christian faith and life of many people within Gloriavale are beyond doubt. Despite that, sadly, it does appear that the Community has in some respects gone wrong.

If Escaping Utopia has depicted matters at all fairly, some red flags about Gloriavale would include leadership that is highly controlling, cases of sexual abuse, limited freedom, reports of intimidation, subjugation of women, the way in which loyalty to the community can be prioritised over the marriage bond, and insistence that those who leave will be damned to hell (this implies that there is no salvation outside of Gloriavale). It needs to be understood that none of these things are normative Christianity, or biblically warranted.

‘…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor. 3:17)

‘For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control’ (2 Tim. 1:7)

Dr Stuart Lange
Author: Dr Stuart Lange

Dr Stuart Lange is the National Director of the NZCN and is a Senior Research Fellow at Laidlaw College, where he was formerly Vice Principal. Stuart wrote and presented the historical DVD documentary Te Rongopai: 200 years of the Gospel in New Zealand, 1814-2014.

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