the Spirit Watch
Who Holds Immanuel Ministries Accountable?
Discerning Immanuel Ministries
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (NIV) Ecclesiastes 4:10-11
Pastors need to be accountable to people both inside and outside the church. Pastor Paul Cedar explains in Christianity Today,
“Not only are churches accountable to others, but so are pastors. Biblically we are to be accountable to God, to the Christian community, and, in some ways, to civic government and the community in which we minister. The Lord has created us with the need to be accountable to him and to others. When we aren't, we're not only being disobedient to God's Word, we're likely to get ourselves into trouble, even scandal.” 
Paul Cedar continues,
“I choose to be accountable to our leaders, also, in the conduct of my personal and professional life. Specifically, this includes living up to the elder's qualifications in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus as well as the specific areas outlined in my position description.” 
As president of Immanuel Ministries, Miller is responsible for the teachings and vision. Members are under his authority and direction, which means he holds a position comparable to a pastor. Since he is in a pastoral position, he should be held accountable likewise. Other pastors are held accountable by the board members of their church as well as the pastors and/or ministries in the geographical area they are located.
But Miller does not have a board nor does he allow locals to hold him or his ministry accountable. Miller's stance is that he is only accountable to God. He has two IM colleagues in whom he confides, Peters who lives at IM, and a missionary who lives in India. However, numerous ex-members testify that Peters is Miller's subordinate and he does whatever Miller tells him to do. His missionary friend lives in India making accountability unrealistic.
All of the former members and Miller’s old friends we interviewed remarked that Miller considers himself too righteous to be held accountable. Miller has stated that there is nobody holy enough to meet him on his spiritual plateau.
An old friend of Miller’s recalled a conversation he had with Miller. The friend met with Miller to encourage him to consider accountability. The friend said, “I went back to talk to Larry (Miller) and he would have no part of it which I found odd because there is wisdom in the counsel of godly men. He was adamant - no. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t want accountability; he told me that he would love to be accountable; it was just that there is no one worthy. I mentioned a couple of avenues to Larry about being accountable both of which he gladly refused. I encouraged him to not only be accountable to a church but to a board of directors. I said Larry have you considered a board of directors? And that was when the statement came out who could I get? There’s no one I could trust there’s no one who I think is righteous enough or godly enough to lead me.” This attitude reeks of arrogance and pride, both of which are sinful in the eyes of the Lord. Proverbs 8:13 says, To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. (NIV)
After collecting all these findings, this author was compelled through scripture (I Tim. 5:19-20; Titus 1:5-16) and the Spirit to speak with Miller concerning his ministry. Following the scriptural mandate (Matt. 18:15-17) to have witnesses present, Rafael Martinez, director of Spiritwatch Ministries and Don Veinot, president of Midwest Christian Outreach agreed to accompany this author.
A meeting with Miller would provide the following:
1. A better understanding of his theology;
2. An opportunity for Miller to correct any misinformation and explain his methods;
3. An opportunity to encourage Miller to form a board or accountability group; and
4. An opportunity to rebuke the manipulation that he uses to control and over-work his members.
Miller has taught many unbiblical doctrines and has used guilt and fear to drive the members of IM. If after the meeting Miller had repented of his manipulative tactics and changed his behavior that also would have been documented in this report.
In an attempt to meet with Miller regarding his teachings, this author called and left a message on the IM answering machine and also e-mailed Miller. The call was not returned but an e-mail reply ensued. Below is a volley of e-mails made between Miller and this author. The author copied Rafael Martinez, Don Veinot, and Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR, www.emnr.org) to be kept accountable. 
From: Steve Hogel [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org}
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 8:55 AM
Subject: Meeting with Larry Miller
I have some questions about IM and would like to meet with you July 8th about 1:00 pm at IM. Please advise if this is a convenient time.
Miller responded with the following.
--- Larry Miller <Larry@imin.org> wrote:
Thanks for writing. Before I agree to meet with you it would be important for me to know what purpose you have for meeting and the nature of your questions. The work among the poor is very consuming. "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" Nehemiah 7:3 I hope you understand and are not insulted by my response.
Miller states the “work among the poor is very consuming”, insinuating he would not have time for a meeting. Miller cites Nehemiah 6:3 but mistakenly wrote 7:3. Miller is once again using scripture out of context. Nehemiah 6:2 says, Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: 3 "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" (NIV) Nehemiah feared physical harm or possible death was waiting for him if he were to meet with Sanballat and Geshem. His answer, which Miller quotes, is understandable considering the situation he was in. Miller had no reason to believe a meeting would cause him physical harm. The intent of the meeting was to discuss the teachings at IM, which is explained in the next email.
From: Steve Hogel [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 8:30 PM
To: Larry Miller
Cc: DAMIANXRAY@aol.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: RE: Meeting with Larry Miller
Thank you for your response. For clarifications sake, I think you meant Nehemiah 6:3, not 7:3. Secondly, I am not insulted nor do I mean you any
harm, Nehemiah 6:2.
My purpose of meeting with you is to clarify questions that I have. The questions are regarding IM teachings and I want to make sure that I understand them correctly. If you have unwittingly miscommunicated or I have misunderstood that would be very important to know. A face to face meeting seems to be the best way to address my concerns.
Larry Miller wrote:
Sorry for the type-o, I certainly did not mean to write the wrong reference down. You stated in your letter to me that I may have unwittingly miscommunicated or that you misunderstood our teachings. I do not recall ever meeting you. Did you sit in one of our services once? Are you part of one our Immanuel Fellowship Churches? Did you hear me preach somewhere? Up until this point you have remained very vague in your intentions to meet with me. Please let me know if you have a valid reason for even wanting to know what we believe. Are you interested in joining the work among the destitute, being one of our missionaries to the third world, working in one of our orphanages, supporting the work? If not, I am not sure why it matters to you what I believe. Your approach to me, speaks that you are bent on trouble, whether you are or not - I do not know. "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:20 Again I do not want to offend you but unless you can offer a more noble reason to meet than that you want to debate me on doctrine, I humbly decline. II Timothy 2:14 "Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before G-d against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen." Let me encourage you to clothe your life in good deeds. Find someone whose (sic) hungry today so you can feed them, give drink to those who are thirsty, defend the cause of the fatherless or plead the case of a widow. As for me, there are 35,000 children dying on the streets today because they have no food in their bellies. "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" Nehemiah 6:3
The L-rd bless you,
Since Miller is the main facilitator and president of IM, a meeting with him is the proper and biblical route to pursue. His teachings are not beyond reproof, nor are the teachings of any teacher or pastor for that matter.
Miller in turn accuses this author of being “bent on trouble” and quotes John 3:20. Regarding John 3:20 the reader must read verse 21 which says, But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (NIV) The one hiding in the dark is Miller, not this author. All truth is God’s truth and the intent of this report is to shine light upon the teachings of Miller at IM. If Miller has the truth as he claims he does, hiding is not an option. Yet Miller persists in hiding behind Bible verses twisted to suit his purposes. II Timothy 2:14 should not be used to avoid meeting about the one’s teachings. How many false teachers could hide behind this scripture and remain untouched on the grounds that their accusers are only “quarrelling about words”. Again, Miller misuses scripture to justify his position.
The following is one last appeal to Miller to discuss the teachings of IM.
From: Steve Hogel [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, June 25, 2004 5:48 PM
To: Larry Miller
Cc: Don; EMNR; email@example.com
Subject: RE: Meeting with Larry Miller
Yes, I have been to one of your services in Joliet (you quoted John 8:39-45; 48-59, Acts 5:17-42, and some others), I met John and Larry, and I have also read your book, "In Defense of the Poor".
In relation to, "Please let me know if you have a valid reason for even wanting to know what we believe." let me say this.
Acts 17:11 says "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and
examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
Again, as I said in my previous email, the purpose of the meeting is to clarify questions I have. The questions are regarding IM teachings and I want to make sure that I understand them correctly. If you have unwittingly miscommunicated or I have misunderstood that would be very important to know. A face to face meeting seems to be the best way to address my concerns. The Bible commends us to ask and examine and that is what I am attempting to accomplish.
Miller asks for a noble reason to meet with him and one is provided. This author was following the example of the Bereans and was searching the scriptures to determine if what Larry Miller taught was true. Miller’s teachings do not square with scripture which prompted the request to meet with him. Below is Miller’s final response.
-- Larry Miller <Larry@imin.org> wrote:
You are still not in the light. You have still not said what reason you have for wanting to talk. You are not under my authority in any way, what possible reason do you have for even wanting to know. I have clearly stated my position in the book "In Defense of the Poor" if you do not agree with it that's fine. There is no reason to debate - and I will not stop the work among the poor to meet with you to have a debate on doctrine. Please go find a noble work to do. Find a widow who you can take care of, bring a fatherless child in and care for him as your own, go preach the gospel in a place where Christ is not made know (sic), but please do not be a man who has an unhealthy interest in controversies and arguments that result in envy, quarreling, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction. As I have clearly said to you already, "I am carrying a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" Nehemiah 6:3 Humbly, I will not meet with you.
He states that the author is not under his authority. This suggests that according to Miller one must be under his authority to express concern regarding his teachings. This is hypocritical since he is not under any church authority or elder/deacon boards, but yet he condemns the western churches, albeit incorrectly. If he is not under their authority, why does Miller even care what they are doing or teaching? This is another double standard erected by Miller.
The author advised Miller twice as to the purpose of a meeting but he repeatedly refused. Miller has denied meeting with people in the past that had questions about his teachings and behavior. Miller twisted the request for a meeting regarding his teaching at IM into “a debate about doctrine”. It is true a discussion about doctrine would have ensued, but the focus would have been on the essentials of the Christian faith and how they are misunderstood and incorrectly taught by Miller. He later equates a meeting to better understand his teachings as “an unhealthy interest in controversies and arguments that result in envy, quarreling, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction.” This just goes to show that Miller has no intention of meeting with anybody who disagrees with him.
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
Paul to the Ephesian Elders (NIV) Acts 20:28-31
Not much has changed since Paul’s time when almost two millennia ago he warned the Ephesian elders that savage wolves (false teachers) would draw disciples for themselves. In contemporary times there have been the likes of Jim Jones of The People’s Temple, David Koresh of the Branch Davidians and more recently, Gwen Shamblin of Remnant Fellowship and Larry Miller of Immanuel Ministries. All of these leaders distorted the truth and developed followers as Paul warned.
An examination of Miller’s view of salvation and sanctification reveals a works based theology that centers on feeding the poor. His methods of interpretation are not based on sound principles of exegesis. Instead, his methods are more akin to what is called eisegesis or proof-texting.  Instead of letting the Bible speak for itself, Miller reads it with a predetermined theology and he finds verses that fit his purpose. This is how he determined that the real gospel is salvation by feeding the poor. Paul says in Galatians 1:8-9, But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (NIV) According to the Apostle Paul, Miller is preaching a different gospel and should be eternally condemned. Miller needs to repent for this false teaching.
From examining the evidence provided by ex-members regarding Miller’s prophecies to them, none of them have come to fruition. In Deuteronomy, the Lord tells us that a false prophet is one whose prophecies do not come true. Miller is clearly not a prophet of God since his prophecies do not come true. Miller has spoken presumptuously to numerous people, inside and outside of IM. He has hurt people with these false pronouncements from the Lord. He has manipulated people through his false words and shows no sign of stopping. Miller needs to repent of these false prophecies and disregard his status as a prophet.
Miller’s view of the western church is unhealthy and unbalanced. The terms he uses to describe the church, apostate and dead orthodoxy, are inaccurate and unbiblical. From the lips of Christ in Matthew 16:18 we read, And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (NIV) No doubt, there are some churches in America that have died spiritually since the gospel of Christ crucified is no longer taught or is watered down. But to broad brush all of the churches in America, with the exception of SEFC in Alta Iowa, as apostate and dead is untenable. Miller needs to repent of this false teaching of Christ’s bride, the church.
According to Miller, he is too righteous to be held accountable by anyone. This attitude reeks of human pride. Proverbs 16:18 says, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (NIV) Miller needs to repent of this prideful spirit and accept accountability from local pastors and ministries.
Miller’s treatment of his members is nothing short of totalitarian. The American Family Foundation (AFF) studies psychological manipulation, especially as it manifests in cultic and related groups.  According to AFF’s website, they classify a cult as,
A group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing, and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders, to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community. Unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control include but are not limited to: isolation from former friends and family, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.
This definition describes the way Miller controls the members at IM. His dedication and conviction to his gospel of feeding the poor is passionate and intense. His prophetic tactics are used to control and manipulate people for his desires. Current members have little or no contact with parents and siblings. The members of IM are over worked and have very little time to rest, which inhibits their critical thinking skills. Leaving the group is unthinkable. Departure from IM means leaving God and spending eternity in hell. As one ex-supporter said, “They (the members of IM) need permission for everything. They need permission to go to the store.” Miller’s control is absolute.
It is this author’s opinion that Immanuel Ministries is a cult of Christianity. It is a cult both theologically and sociologically. IM is in dire need of reform and accountability. Despite the apparent “good” IM has done for the community, too many people have been severely hurt - spiritually, mentally and physically. Pastors, deacons, elders and financial supporters of IM, consider what Jesus taught to his disciples about his sheep and reflect on the state of the sheep at IM and help them.
"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. (NIV) Matthew 18:12-14
The now closed Freestore in Joliet (July 04) The new IM operation in Chicago (May 04)
 “Accountability that Makes Sense”, Christianity Today Magazine (Online edition), 1991, Paul Cedar “Accountability that Makes Sense”, Christianity Today Magazine (Online edition), 1991, Paul Cedar
 One of EMNR’s purposes is to keep members accountable.
 A good treatment of how cults misconstrue the Bible is James Sire’s Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible.
 http://www.cultinfobooks.com/infoserv_aff/aff_about.htm http://www.csj.org/studyindex/studycult/cultqa1.htm
Comments and Questions may be e-mailed directly to
Steve Hogel at firstname.lastname@example.org