Someone kindly forwarded a list of questions that an ex-Restoration member emailed to a number of people requesting answers for a documentary they are making concerning their “9th anniversary of our escape/change in life”.
I think they were very good questions, and they brought to my mind some of the positive things I learned from the Guthrie and Restoration groups.
In a number of the questions below, I refer to both the Guthrie and the Restoration Groups. In my view, there was not a lot of change in the Chilliwack congregation from when it was part of the Guthrie group and when Ron Walter left the Guthrie group and took the Chilliwack congregation with him.
Between 1989 (the year Chilliwack left Guthrie) and 2000 (the year Chilliwack left the Restoration) the Chilliwack congregation became progressively more rule-centric and Danny Layne’s control of Chilliwack and the associated congregations of the Restoration moved more toward the papal authority model.
The papal authority model (an elected pope with authority over all other ministers) that currently was developing in the Restoration became stronger with Ron Walter leaving the Restoration in 2000. It is currently to the point where Danny Layne is now openly considered the chief minister and the one and only Apostle of the Restoration movement.
Both the Guthrie group and the Restoration hold they are the one true visible church. For my view on the one true visible church teaching, you may want to read my articles One True Visible Church (OTVC) Teaching and One True Visible Church (OTVC) Fruit.
Here are the relevant questions:
2. To what extent do you think being in the Restoration has made you who you are today?
To a very large extent; the views, practices, and doctrines I hold today have been influenced by the Guthrie/Restoration groups.
3. What is your strongest memory from the Restoration?
The sin-free living, entire sanctification, separation from the world, the plain clothes teaching, and the freedom of worship in their meetings: Five wonderful teachings that I strongly hold to and love, and which I learned from the Guthrie/Restoration groups.
Also, I would have to say the Restoration’s children school program is completely amazing and very touching. I would encourage everyone that is near a Restoration congregation to at least go once to their school program. These are just a few of the good things. Perhaps I will do a post some time on all the good things there are in the Restoration group.
4. What do you think was the funniest rule of the Restoration?
I can’t think of any “funny” rules, but their rule on brothers’ meeting clothes must be black and white only, what appears to be a move toward making black vests mandatory, and strongly advocating black, plain suits are the 3 rules I most disagree with.
I believe the Bible teaches an outward standard that is based on modesty, not on distinction. The humble Christian desires to not be especially taken notice of. Those in clear light will not dress to be noticed, nor rejoice and boast and brag about how all the heads turned and they were seen when they went through such and such a town.
Christians should not follow the example of the scribes and Pharisees whose outward standard was based on distinction by making broad their phylacteries and the enlarging of the borders of their garments “to be seen of men” (Mat 23:5).
Francis Asbury warned that practicing singularity in dress can cause pride and that Christians should do as others in all things that are lawful. “If it be to go in a meaner garb than others, and as some, not to put off the hat; or, as others to go barefoot, or in a distinguishing habit, that all men may see, and say, This is a singular person in religion; it is easy to see how this gratifieth pride. Humility desireth not to be especially taken notice of; and in all things lawful to do as others do, doth gratify humility” (The Causes, Evils, And Cures, of Heart and Church Divisions, by Francis Asbury, p.200).
This issue is one of the 16 objections to COGR practices and doctrines that I listed in my email to Henry Hildebrandt, which directly caused me to be banned from attending the COGR meetings. My position was that “teaching a standard of dress that is not based on modesty only, but also based on distinction for the sake of being distinct and noticed” is unscriptural.
I am currently researching the dress issue to see what the Methodists and the Holiness movement taught concerning Biblical principles that should be used to form an outward standard of dress. I hope to write an article on my findings.
5. If you hadn’t been part of the Restoration, do you think your life would be different now? How so?
Disaster. If I hadn’t been a part of the Guthrie/Restoration groups, I might not have learned about the sin-free message. When I met the Guthrie group, I held to sin-you-must and eternal security.
6. If you had stayed in the Restoration, what do you think your life would be like now?
Just fine. I didn’t leave; I was put out and told I was not a Christian because I didn’t believe the Restoration was the one true visible church.
7. Do you think you have integrated into mainstream society or do you still feel a little different than others?
I have not integrated into mainstream society, nor do I have any desire to.
8. What do you think is your biggest setback/hangup from the Restoration?
I have not setbacks from being part of either the Guthrie or Restoration groups nor do I have any hangups from either group.
9. Did being in the restoration have any good effects? What would they be?
Many. All the good doctrines — salvation from sin, entire sanctification, plain clothes, separation from the world, etc.
10. What do you think is your biggest accomplishment in the past 10 years?
To become established in my Christian walk on a level of practical Christianity.
11. Do you have any contact with people still in the Restoration? What is that contact like?
Besides the fact that my wife (Susan Mutch) is a member of the Restoration group, very little, other than seeing a few Restoration members from time to time. The contact is very brief.
12. What advice would you give to someone leaving an organization like the Restoration?
Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Hold on to all the good doctrines and practices they taught you. Don’t react against all the good conservative teachings from the Restoration and become liberal. I have been out of the Restoration 9 months, and other than dropping some teachings like their black and white meeting uniform that is based on sect distinction instead of modesty, playing chess online at the library and at the chess club, buying and driving a red bicycle, and watching youtube videos, I have not changed anything in my life.
13. Would you call the Restoration a cult? Why?
Of course not. They are just one of the many Christian groups that have an authoritarian ministry, are rule-centric, and think they are the one true visible church. While I hold they are bigoted and sectarian, use mind control techniques that are used by cults — like peer pressure and spiritual abuse to influence members to obey the rules, and macro-manage the members’ lives — they certainly are not a cult in my opinion.