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Captive Congregation: My Fourteen Years in the Church of Bible Understanding Paperback – June 27, 2015
About the Author
James LaRue was a young and impressionable seeker when he first came to the Church of Bible Understanding (COBU). He was a kid from the suburbs of New Jersey with a love for life and an interest in fitness, photography, art and nature. Several setbacks in his life caused him to search for answers about the meaning of life. He met many interesting people along the way, however, not all of these people had good intentions. One conversation with a guy in a mall, who James thought was a Jesus freak, led to his life being changed forever. He spent fourteen years in COBU, from ages 23 to 36, which means that for all intents and purposes, the early years of his adult life were molded by the influence of COBU, which is considered by many to be a dangerous mind control cult. The cult provided many benefits at first. He learned discipline and hard work, overcame shyness and learned how to talk to anyone. He began to learn foreign languages as a way to spread the Gospel message. But it would be only over time that he would become aware of the cost of any benefits he was receiving. This book chronicles his journey from true believer to his emerging awareness of the true nature of the organization he was in and how he finally left it. James lives in New Jersey now with his wife. He is a translator who works from a number of European languages into English. He is also a writer and illustrator. The common thread that runs through all of these abilities is his eye for detail. Foreign languages require the knowledge of a large vocabulary. He draws in the photorealism style and wouldn't know how to draw an abstract shape if his life depended on it. His writing style is also detailed, engaging and interesting. The aim of his writing is to portray events as they happened, in a way that might make you feel you had been there yourself. The source material for the book Captive Congregation, aside from James's long stay in COBU and the memories of his experiences there, are the journals he kept while in COBU, where he wrote down events as they happened and his impressions of them.
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Jesus came with a ministry of reconciliation that is the true Gospel. In John 3.17 it says He did not come to condemn. Do you feel condemned or depressed a lot even though you're trying hard to serve Jesus. Do you see an uplifting ministry of reconciliation, bringing people to Jesus' s mercy or are you observing something else?
As far as ex-members this is a great book to help you take a guided tour on what happened personally to you. As Jim explains his experiences it allows you to bring to light the things that seemed, at the time, unexplainable and not make any sense to you, only for you to forget about it, write it off, or file it away somewhere in some lost mental folder archive.
As far as for those who are just looking to find out about cults, excessive legalistic churches or things of this nature, this allows you to see into just how messed up things can get. This can happen in marriage or in business. It sheds light on the difference between an Old Testament based legalistic merit seeking system attempting to please God kind of view, as compared to the gospel of mercy and grace and the ministry of reconciliation good news of the gospel view.
This book will also create a sense of gratitude in you for the things you have and what God is doing for you in your life. I recommend this book also for any Christian High school or College as it really does explore this subject deeply and creates a lasting impact.
The reason I gave it a four star instead of a five star even though I consider it very well done is there were only a few typos or missing words which is minor. I also believe that the book would even have more credibility if the author included perhaps a bonus chapter or two eliciting several other testimonies thus firming up his argument even more. Other than that, I think the book was very well done as it caused me to spend some time to reexamine a few things in my own life.
I will say a couple more things finally in that had a member who did believe in Jesus not come to me with the gospel of salvation message I may be still very much lost and in the world. So I will give credit to where credit is due. I did get an opportunity to work at an orphanage in Haiti and help in a medical mountain clinic. It was not all bad. I believe that the Leader in his heart wanted to follow Jesus. That is what he spoke about all the time. This is not a personal attempt to speak against the leader as many subordinates do not realize the things that a leader goes through until they themselves sit in the same chair, to face the same things (many people complain about their bosses all the time), but rather this is an attempt to comment on a book that illustrates a process of how things that may have been started with the best of intentions later go awry. This same kind of thing has happened in some marriages as well. However, and very importantly, the Leader himself on audio tape did admit with remorse at one time that he had missed the doctrine of grace. This is important because the law came through Moses, Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ. So then this book will also show some types of detrimental effects that missing the doctrine of grace can produce. It states to us all the importance of building one another up as this produces and maintains an environment of hope, reminding us, as well, how important it is in how we treat each other, and how we behave inside and outside of Church and to the world, as we are the lights of the world.
But back to my main reason for writing: James LaRue, I am so thankful you were caring enough to write this. I know you wrote from a place of truth and not for any notoriety or such. Your observations of the cult and also life after the cult were so helpful and insightful, including the observations of a mans worth in modern day society and the small talk that goes on in 'churches'. I truly hope you have a close relationship with Jesus as you sound like a precious soul.
You are also a great writer and would love to see other non fiction books from you.
God bless you abundantly.