Benjamin, Lyle

My story goes back to 2010 or so. I entered a period of profound doubt that lasted well over a decade. I didn’t share these doubts widely, because I come from one of the royal families, and such things simply weren’t discussed. Conversations with workers were dead ends. Workers were often scripturally illiterate, spiritually immature, or not willing to consider questions that may expose deeper truths than they were willing to accept.

After a decade of spiritual struggle, I became resigned to existing uncomfortably within the way. I didn’t feel comfortable discussing this with the people closest to me because I didn’t want my questions to interfere with their faith. Because of the doctrine of exclusivity, I felt I wouldn’t find God in any other church, so I didn’t even look at them. Via this same blasphemous doctrine of exclusivity, the worker church had framed itself as equal to God, and integral to God. God forbid.

What a lonely existence! I couldn’t even find Jesus because the methods the workers recommended did not lead to Jesus—they lead to The Way. As it later turned out, I was starting from the wrong end of the problem. I was attempting to justify the worker’s ministry to find God, rather than simply accepting God, and then finding a way to embrace His spirit in fellowship.

When news of Dean Bruer’s odd death broke, I felt a profound sense of relief—like a weight was lifted. I knew somehow that this was a good thing. My honest first reaction to the news was a simple prayer: “Thank God he is dead, many will now know peace”. Uncharacteristically, I expressed that to my wife. She didn’t feel the same relief, but it was good to share a feeling in an honest, direct manner.

As news later broke in public about the true nature of Bruer’s life and the unraveling of the ministries frayed threads began, the searching and pondering I had done for over a decade came into sharp focus.

It became clear to me that the serious questions I had were not actually doubting God’s reality and nature. The serious questions I had were actually about the structure, culture, business plan and practices of the workers’ ministry. Each question I had was satisfied when viewed through the following lens: God is real, true, and almighty. Given that premise, I then compared the workers’ teaching, doctrine and culture to what I find in the Bible, which is the distilled word of God—an owner’s manual, so to speak. I found that while the workers’ ministry has focused narrowly on a handful of verses, there is so much more in the Bible. I found that their unwritten, uncollected, and sometimes contradictory doctrines often had no scriptural backing, or had been unduly emphasized (or scripture had been de-emphasized). Of course, that has nothing to do with God.

What a relief to discover that my faith in God is well founded and actually never was in doubt! Once I discarded the corrupt worker doctrines, all that was left was God and His Bible. This is a major shift in world view and a most comforting one.

I don’t see people as “In” or “Out”—that is the corrosive language of exclusivity. Everyone is on a different mile in their walk with God, and there are many roads that God walks with people that eventually lead to heaven.

I don’t regret my time in the workers’ church—the long experience shaped me in important ways. However, I feel that I found God in spite of the worker church, and I can honestly say I developed a true relationship with God after leaving the workers’ church last fall. None of this was easy or simple, but it became simple when I looked for God first, in front of church or club.

I have found that hard, but honest conversations are the best ones to have. They lead to common ground that would never be found without the conversation. Much of workers’ church culture is based on implied agreement with poorly defined principles. Hard, honest, direct conversations get to the bottom of those assumptions that masquerade as principles or doctrine.

I will close with this. God is in you. Specific church denominations do not have sole access to God. Some have a cleaner understanding of God’s Grace and more coherent teaching about God, but none have an exclusive access plan. There is not a single church or person in the world that can deny you God’s presence and eternal life because you are not part of their group. That power is reserved to God alone.

Lyle Benjamin
Sunburst, Montana USA
April 12, 2024