Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bullenites vs. Holdemans

Recently I recommended to a reader that she possibly explore the Holdeman Mennonites.  She did her research and she came back with a very valid observation about The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.  It is true that many people that have left the Holdemans have the same complaints as those who have left Mark Bullen's church.

However there are some very big differences in the practices, attitudes, and even some beliefs of the two churches.  I will now compare and contrast Living Faith Christian Fellowship (Bullenites) and The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (Holdemans).

       Bullenites                                               Holdemans
  • Weekly Communion                                       Yearly Communion
  • Foot Washing Yearly, Member to Member      Foot Washing Yearly, Elder to Member
  • True Church (Most Biblical/Godly Church)      True Church (True Belief)
  • Ex-Communication Damns You                       Ex-Communication Damns You
  • Women do not speak or lead in church           Women do not speak or lead in service
  • Women silent in Sunday school                       Wmen speak in their own Sunday school facilitated by a man
  • Talk a lot about how awful everyone is            Talk about their own need for grace and forgiveness
  • Focus on how angry God is with world           Focus on how much God loves the world
  • Do not believe Eternal Security                         Do not believe Eternal Security
  • Claim to be apostolic                                        Claim to be apostolic
  • Teach women are property                               Teach submission, but women are respected
  • Come across as arrogant                                 Come across as humble
  • Lead by 1 man                                                 Brotherhood with elders
  • Believe coming millenial reign of Christ              Believe we are in the millenial reign of Christ
  • HUGE emphasis on clothing                             Have standards, but not mentioned often
  • Homeschool                                                     Church private school
  • Meet in Bishop's home                                     Meet in churches around the world
  • Allow Divorce & Remarriage                           Allow remarried couples to join
  • Smooch on cheek                                            Smooch on lips

The biggest difference I see is the attitude of the churches themselves.  Though they both hold themselves as true churches, how they go about it is very different.  Mark Bullen has made it clear that if you are not practicing your faith the way he teaches, you are in danger of hell.  He makes it clear that his church is the right way and you should do everything within your power to get there or risk losing yourself and your family to the devil or world.  He specifically has said that the Mennonites are the enemy.  His call to conversion is, and I quote, "Get in line."  Meaning obey God (and me) or you will be punished for your rebellion.  This attitude bleeds over into their relationships with one another, to their wives, and to their children.

The Holdemans believe they have the historic true belief held by Christians throughout the ages.  That being said, they do not believe all other professing Christians are damned or that you have to practice your faith like them to be saved.  There is much hope and grace in their fellowship and a genuine love for one another, and the world too.  They reach out to the unsaved with the love of God, then work on changing their lives to conform to the Bible.  They lead their households and businesses with care and respect for others.

It is true that the modesty standards of the Holdemans are not even close to that of the Bullens.  But if a person has a conviction about wearing subdued colors, no heels, and solid stockings, there would be nothing preventing them from doing so.  I have also noticed that some congregations are more conservative than others, but the actual standards are decided at convention and there is wiggle room within them.

Both churches believe that if you are a baptized member and you stop attending you will be damned because you are breaking a vow you made to God.  I have never officially been notified by Living Faith Christian Fellowship that I am excommunicated and there are two reasons for this:  One, I am a woman.  Two, they say my husband excommunicated himself.  Hmm. . . somebody find that in the Bible!  With the Holdemans, I knew a man who began attending another church on Sundays, just because the preacher was having some interesting sermons.  He received a letter, and I saw it, from his church stating they were the true church and he should stop attending other services.  The man originally had no intention of leaving the Holdemans, but after the letter he seriously considered doing so.  Funny how human nature works?

It may seem strange that I recommended a church that has some of the characteristics for which I fault Living Faith Christian Fellowship, but it basically comes down to that there just aren't many apostolic/anabaptist churches for couples that are remarried.  It is a decision of choosing the lesser of evils, sorry for the expression, if you are wanting an actual church fellowship to be a part of.  As for me, I'm quite content with my little growing home fellowship where everyone is treated with respect and we encourage one another to grow in our walk and dedication to the Lord.  But I would also be tempted to be a part of the Holdemans if they were anywhere near us, their quiltings are amazing!





  1. I have personally asked Mark the question, "Is living Faith the ONLY church that is right?" and his answer was... "It is the only one that practices what God demands from us in the Bible, and since I have found no others like it...yes, we are the only ones. If I were to find another of like faith and practice, then I would be happy to count them as brothers and sisters."

    1. That is almost word for word what I heard him tell Jason. Thank you for posting this Brian. Ironically, it is also the same thing the Holdeman church said to us.


    2. I forgot to add that this same question was asked of Mark before we joined and he gave the answer of "everyone is responsible for what they know" or "responsible for the light that they have." It was not until after we were members that it was ever said that his church was the only one doing things the right way.


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