In the 20 years Nelson Clark has been First Century Gospel’s head pastor, the church’s message has also changed very little, especially in its core beliefs. Pastor Clark later sums these up in an email: how “the divine power of God … is able to heal our body without drugs or medicine; supply our needs without laid-up cash for the future; protect our family without firearms or anti-theft devices; bring about justice without legal action or attorneys; and to save our soul by a believing faith that endures to the end of our life.”Why Did the Schaibles Let Their Children Die? - Articles
As to what may seem idiosyncratic or even absurd, such as not wearing seatbelts or correcting bad eyesight with glasses, the explanations get interesting. The problem with seatbelts, Pastor Clark says, is that “anyplace we are told to do something in case something happens is a breach of faith or denying of faith in God to protect you.” This same idea of trust applies to vision. “If God made eyes, obviously He can heal vision problems to see normally. We don’t use mechanical devices to make it better—it’s a matter of trusting God for normal vision.”
The pastor offers up anecdotes of answered prayers: a badly broken leg simply wrapped up that heals perfectly; a hand seemingly smashed to pulp in a work accident that returns to full use; any number of severe illnesses cured not in hospitals—which often, the pastor points out, fail to heal—but through the suffering congregant on his or her knees, hands clasped, praying for the grace of a cure.
The church has its own school for congregants that cuts off at 10th grade (although Clark says their education is equivalent to a high-school diploma); Herbie Schaible, who left after ninth grade, taught seventh and eighth grades there for almost two decades. Done with school, the boys get jobs and the girls tend to work either in their homes, helping out with younger siblings, or with other First Century families. No one goes off to college, to avoid the dangerous pull of the secular world. Simple work keeps congregants humble, for as Pastor Clark says, “Pride is the base of all other sins.” He concedes that outsiders would see the limits on education as restrictive.
Pastor Clark describes why Brandon Schaible, and Kent Schaible before him, died: “God’s healing power was somehow hindered, because of a spiritual lack in Herb and Catherine. It could be anything from a wrong attitude to adulterous thoughts, but something allowed Satan to take his life. Both Herb and Catherine are well aware of that.”
The Schaibles themselves, in other words, were to blame for their children dying—not for failing to doctor them, but because something was lacking in their relationship with God.
In the end, what’s most stunning about First Century members is the spiritual hardship they’ve chosen. No matter how wrong—or ludicrous—praying for a sick child instead of taking him to a doctor might be, the burden of that failure rests with Herbie and Cathy Schaible in a way that really is beyond the legal system: God failed to save Kent, and then Brandon, because of some spiritual roadblock in Herbie and Cathy’s relationship with Him.
Imagine trying to live with that—with the belief that your prayers went unanswered because there was, in fact, something wrong with the prayers. Something wrong with you. It’s hard for an outsider to make sense of that.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Why Did the Schaibles Let Their Children Die?
Although the Schaible case has been decided for over a year, I am still fascinated by the associated mind-set that went with the whole debacle. Ewo things standout in this 2013 article, both center around the cults leader. One, keep 'em dumb; and two, blame the supplicant for their lack of faith. It is never the teachings or the teacher fault.