Religious cult founded by Gwen Shamblin sues countercult ministry

[Note: For updates to this information, visit this Apologetics Index entry]

The following statement, by Rev. Rafael D Martinez, is quoted from the website of Spiritwatch Ministries, a Christian apologetics and countercult ministry in Cleveland, Tennessee:

On December 21, 2006, I was personally served a summons by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department to appear and defend myself against a civil action filed against me by self-proclaimed “prophet” Gwen Shamblin and 66 other members of her cultic movement, the Remnant Fellowship based in Franklin, Tennessee. The case number 06448 was filed on November 6, 2006 in the Circuit Court of Williamson County, Tennessee. The civil action alleges that I have, in the course of my ministry here on the Spiritwatch website, “published one or more written false statements that were intended to impeach Plaintiffs’ honesty, integrity, virtue, and/or reputation” and that Shamblin and her following have incurred irreparable “damages to their reputations and potential incomes.” It ominously goes on to say that they “are not limited to the following ..” and cited three paragraphs from my critical writings on Remnant Fellowship, claiming they are “lies and falsehoods.”

So along with these allegations and the usual blackening of character someone being sued for slander will usually get, came the request for judgment against myself for damages exceeding 3.3 million dollars, alleging I have been wilfully and maliciously engaged in defamation

Aside from several unusual things about this lawsuit, I noted that I was not the only defendant. The suit names as a co-defendent one “Anonymous Blogger” of whom I have no connection with and who most of the lawsuit’s fury is directed against. This unknown person posted for several months on a personal blog a lot of negative information on many of these same plaintiffs in the lawsuit. However, it would appear that the pretensive posturing taken against this shadowy figure in the lawsuit provided for Shamblin and her flock an opportunity to file a lawsuit against me personally, alleging defamation. In essence, this absurd litigation is entirely aimed at myself, and by default, our ministry.

The allegations made against myself as having intentionally engaged in defamation and malice aimed at ruining reputations are entirely baseless, equally slanderous and will be vigorously defended against in a court of law. This is nothing less than an attack upon my freedom of speech, a faculty intolerable to cultic movements like Gwen Shamblin’s Remnant Fellowship. Each of the three paragraphs cited in the litigation contain truth claims I have made in the course of my research that are factual realities I unveiled to warn others against the damaging extremism that Remnant Fellowship’s veneer of public orthodoxy cloaks. They are hardly “lies” and “falsehoods.” The nature of our ministry is to warn the public about deceptive cultism, a ministration which Shamblin would desire to see silenced so she may continue her deceptive career. By the grace of God, we fully trust that this will never occur.

So who says Gwen doesn’t believe in Christmas? She sent me an early gift, one I took with humility and rejoicing (Matthew 5:11-12). The unvarnished truth is my defense, as well as the fortress of my One True God in Christ by the Spirit and it will be all established in a way beyond refutation .. thanks to this frivolous opportunism by a cultic movement finding itself increasingly under scrutiny.
– Source: Statement On Gwen Shamblin et al Litigation Filed Against Spiritwatch Ministries, by Rev. Rafael D Martinez, Co-Director, Spiritwatch Ministries

Comments by RNB:

Gwen Shamblin is a registered dietitian and has experience as an instructor of nutrition at Memphis State University. She is the author of the popular, but controversial, Weigh Down Diet.

In recent years, Shamblin has been in the news for her adamant rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity – one of the central doctrines of the Christian faith.

Shamblin is the founder of Remnant Fellowship, a church that – due to its rejection of a key doctrine of the Christian faith – must be considered to be, theologically, a cult of Christianity.

Sociologically, Remnant Fellowship has cultic characteristics as well.

Apologetics is the branch of Christian theology concerned with the logical presentation and defense of the Christian faith, and is aimed at challenges from both outside and inside the Church.

Apologetics ministry (sometimes referred to as ‘discernment ministry’ and/or ‘countercult ministry’) includes the application of spiritual discernment along with knowledge of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith.

Essentially all Christians should be involved in apologetics, but some who are especially gifted in this area are usually referred to as apologists.

One of the tasks of an apologist is to evaluate whether or not the teachings and/or practices of those teachers, churches and movements which identify themselves as ‘Christian’ violate the essential doctrines of the Christian faith – and if so, to what extent.

The term ‘cult of Christianity’ is used of a group, church or organization whose central teachings and/or practices are claimed to be biblical, but which are in fact unbiblical.

The term can also be applied to groups, organizations or churches whose statement of faith may sound orthodox, but who add aberrant, heterodox, sub-orthodox and/or heretical teachings to such an extend that the essential doctrines of the Christian faith are negatively affected.

See also: Sociological vs. Theological Definitions of the term ‘cult,’ published by CultFAQ (Apologetics Index).

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday January 7, 2007.
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