Sovereign Grace Ministries and the SBC – Is There a Merger in the Works?

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."       -C.S. Lewis

 

 

 

 

We are continuing our series on Spiritual Abuse Recovery, which has been inspired by Barbara Orlowski’s groundbreaking book on this topic. Orlowski affirms: (p. 19) Based on our research here at TWW, we believe spiritual abuse is escalating in the 21st century.
 

Here is a case in point. I follow the SGM Refuge blog, and over the weekend a young man (probably in his mid-twenties) who goes by the moniker “ByFaithAlone” posted his incredible testimony, which can be accessed here.
 

“ByFaithAlone” was introduced to a “reformed, conservative fundamentalist church” in Vermont by the guy who had been his college roommate. Apparently, this church is “associated with SGM”. Hmmm………
 

 

Mohler’s Favorite Homie – C.J. Mahaney
 

Yes, the SBC/SGM connection is getting stronger by the day. Need proof? Guess who delivered the chapel message at Southern Seminary just last Thursday (2/10/11). Here’s a hint… It was the person who believes Al Mohler is “the smartest man on the planet” and said so at Resolved 2010. Yes, the chapel speaker was none other than C.J. Mahaney. That morning Mohler sent out the following Tweet: “Come hear CJ Mahaney in chapel this morning at 10:00. Don’t miss it. Don’t even think of missing it. Can’t wait to hear his message.”
 

Mohler’s next Tweet gave the link to streaming video of Mahaney’s talk, which yours truly watched. It was the first time I had ever seen Mahaney in a coat and tie. He began by explaining to the students that he only has a high school education. Perhaps if he had revealed to them that he and Sovereign Grace Ministries combined have made contributions in excess of $200,000 to Southern Seminary, they would have understood why Mohler believes this high school grad is qualified to address them on the topic of “Deflating the Puffed Up Church” .
 

Then Mohler provided the link to Mahaney’s message on Twitter, along with a Tweet that he was eating dinner with C.J. and that the waiter is a SBTS student. Mahaney continued to be a popular topic in Mohler’s Twitter account the next day. He provided the link to streaming video of Mahaney’s talk at the Recalibrate Conference (for college students), and then tweeted “C.J. Mahaney knocked it out of the park. What a great message. If you missed it, download it. RECALIBRATE.”

 

The most surprising comment on Mohler’s Twitter feed was as follows:
“RT @drmoore. C.J. Mahaney just asked our server what she would guess he, @almohler, and I do for a living. She guessed ‘exotic dancers.’  It boggles the mind…

It really is amazing what you can learn through Twitter…

 

 

"ByFaithAlone’s" Testimony
 

Now let’s get back to the testimony of “ByFaithAlone”, who believes he was involved in a spiritually abusive church. Here are what I believe to be the highlights of his testimony:

 

“I found that I was busier with church than I was at work. Eventually I had very little time for myself. My life revolved around this group.”

“The teachings were very rigid. Black and white thinking.” (Remember, this church is located in ultra-liberal Vermont!)

“They preached that their church was a cornerstone in theology. They taught they were the crem de la crem of biblical teaching around. No one really preached the gospel, only they knew what the Bible really says.”
 

About a year ago “ByFaithAlone” (BFA) took interest in a young lady who attends the church. Apparently, she had embraced what Josh Harris wrote in his book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” as the gospel truth. He asked her out, and after their first date she became very concerned. He writes: “She said that by me asking her out, it may as well have been a marriage proposal. “
 

He explains that he calmed her down and that she agreed to continue the relationship, although she was still somewhat hesitant because she didn’t know him that well.
 

Then he explains: “After our second date she requested that we both start talking to an elder about dating advice. I almost laughed but reluctantly agreed. I started talking to my college roommate’s father, an elder, whose approach to dating I thought was a little absurd. Such advice came as, ‘Don’t start having feelings for her until there is a ring on her finger”, “Nothing good happens after 11:00”, “You should date in groups,” and “You should want to marry someone who is excited about the kingdom.” I was utterly confused to say the least. By the third week into the relationship I was approached by the pastor who mentioned that he knew we were dating and he’d like to meet some time. I agreed. I was somewhat confounded how he knew that she and I were dating less than three weeks in, especially since the only person I told we were dating was the elder I was seeking “advice” from.”

 

BFA then explains how things with the church leadership went south the more he met with them. It got ugly! They tried to break his spirit using a “demotivational technique”, and the straw that broke the camel’s back were these words spoken by an abusive elder: “I can’t think of anything good to say about you” and “I don’t see how any woman could ever be interested in you.”

 

Then this wise young man decided to seek counsel from his grandmother, who happened to be the wife of a pastor for over 30 years. BFA writes: “I told her my story and she immediately identified this church as exhibiting cult-like tendencies. At that point I had made my decision to run.” Way to go ByFaithAlone!!! It is the smartest decision you could have ever made.
 

BFA is obviously a quick learner because he surmises that “those who left are treated as the problem and the leaders are justified.” He ends his testimony as follows:
 

“Ever since then, I’ve thought that maybe I was crazy for thinking that this church was abusive. I thought that perhaps I’m the one with the problem and it was an isolated incident. This all happened seven months ago and It wasn’t until recently that I had discovered the line of people who came out of that church battered and bruised. If I was angry before, I was angrier now. Everyone who was abused was told not to tell anybody what’s happened. I wish to fight for those who have been hurt. I want to help them and remind them of Christ and His atoning work for salvation on the cross by faith alone!! Not by anything they can or ever will do!

 

The church that I attended was Christ Memorial Church of Williston, Vermont. I choose to reveal this name so that those who wish to find anything regarding that church will not only find the positive comments on the church’s website, but the harsh reality of what really goes on behind the scenes. If I had not known that I was not the only person to have been abused by this church, I would not be sharing my story.

 

My friend who has been a great help to me over the past couple months, had experienced abuse from this church introduced me to sgmrefuge and sgmsurvivors. I can’t tell you how encouraged I’ve been in hearing how others have fought the system and those who have overcome and moved on for the better. These sites, as well as my friends who have had traumatizing experiences with this SGM have described to me the reality of the abuse going on that I thought only I had experienced. Thank you for the work that you do. May God bless!”

 

 

The SGM / SBC Connection
 

What caught my attention in BFA’s testimony were his words “associated with SGM”. I assumed that Christ Memorial Church belonged to the SGM “family of churches”, so I checked their church directory. There are no SGM churches in Vermont. I then searched “Christ Memorial Church” and “Williston, Vermont” to find the church website. The internet is such a wonderful research tool! What would we do without it?

Here’s what I found on the church website under the heading “Our Beliefs”:
 

“Christ Memorial Church is a Baptist church within the evangelical tradition affiliated with both Converge Worldwide (formerly Baptist General Conference) and the Southern Baptist Convention. We hold to both the Affirmation of Faith (CW, 1951, amended) and to the Baptist Faith and Message (SBC, amended). In addition, our church officers are required to accept, in substance, the First London Confession of Faith (1646, 2nd revision).”
 

Yes, BFA was attending a BAPTIST, not an SGM church. Apparently, there are strong ties to SGM. For instance, quite a few young people attend Josh Harris’ annual conference called “Next”. Also, courtship appears to be highly endorsed as evidenced by BFA’s dating experience.

 

How about this church’s ties to Southern Seminary? Here’s what we found when we searched Christ Memorial Church and Southern Seminary:

 

“The Vermont Extension Center is an off-campus educational facility of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the largest Southern Baptist seminary in the world….All classes are held at Christ Memorial Church in Williston, Vermont…”

 

We believe ByFaithAlone’s testimony, along with the above information regarding the church he attended demonstrate that there is a growing alliance between the Southern Baptist Convention and Sovereign Grace Ministries. We have already made such a conjecture which can be accessed here.

 

With regard to the SBC, it’s important that you know that both Dee and I were faithful Southern Baptists. However, as we become aware and even personally experienced a number of issues going on beneath the surface, we decided to disassociate ourselves from the denomination.

 

 

Spiritual Abuse Recovery Resources

 

“ByFaithAlone”, if you’re reading here, welcome to the TWW family!!! We are happy to report that there are EXCELLENT resources available to help you recognize spiritual abuse and how to recover.
 

First, we believe the current book we are reviewing – Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness by Barbara M. Orlowski – is an excellent resource. It just came out in 2010, and Dallas Theological Seminary did a review which can be accessed here.
 

The DTS review of Orlowski’s book begins as follows:
 

“Spiritual abuse by the clergy happens in churches. It shouldn’t. But it does. And people leave their home church in grief and anger over it. What happens to these Christians? Where do they go, and why should church leaders care?

 

Barbara M. Orlowski’s doctoral research into the problem of disenfranchised believers is presented in her book, Spiritual Abuse Recovery. She defines spiritual abuse as “the misuse of spiritual authority to maltreat followers in the Christian Church.” Orlowski focuses on dedicated Christians who have served in their churches for years before making the difficult decision to leave after experiencing spiritual abuse. She follows them on their journey to find healing and wholeness.”

 

Dee bought Orlowski’s book several months ago and couldn’t put it down because it was chock-full of important information regarding spiritual abuse recovery. I have just begun reading it, and am amazed at how important her research is. It gets TWO THUMBS UP from us, and we get absolutely nothing out of our book recommendation other than knowing that we pointed someone in the right direction to having a healthy faith.
 

Here are some other resources Orlowski recommends in her book, which we happen to have reviewed here at TWW.
 

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse – David Johnson Jeff Van Vonderen - link here

We wrote several more posts related to information we found in this book, so check the articles that follow this one (go to May 2009 to access them easily).
 

Churches That Abuse – Ronald M. Enroth -link here

Toxic Faith – Dr. Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton - link here and here

 

We hope these resources will get you started on the road to spiritual abuse recovery.

 

Lydia's Corner: Numbers 16:41-18:32 Mark 16:1-20 Psalm 55:1-23 Proverbs 11:7



 

Comments

Sovereign Grace Ministries and the SBC – Is There a Merger in the Works? — 297 Comments

  1. So where does the merger stuff come in? There is no doubt a close connection between Al Mohler and C.J. Mahaney, but I’m still not seeing the mechanism for bringing SGM into the SBC.

    Nor do I see how it would benefit Mahaney. He’d go from being pope of a small denomination to a very small player in the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

  2. From my experience at Christ Memorial it seemed that it was the other way around, the SBC is starting to embrace the teachings of SGM. CMC initially began as a church within the Baptist General Conference (now called Converge Worldwide) and the SBC. What I think happened at this particular church is they started teaching about sin and that is all they focused on, dirty rotten sinful human beings, and teachings of grace went out the door. That coupled with an overwhelming number of worship songs by Bob Kauflin and Mark Altrogge warmly invited investigation into SGM. Then they started attending T4G, the NA conference (now called NEXT) and bam! You’ve got legalistic, authoritative leaders with elitist attitudes. I had only attended Christ Memorial for two and a half years before bailing. According to the others I’ve spoken with who had attended there longer than I, CMC wasn’t always so rigid.

    And yes, CMC doesn’t claim to be a part of Sovereign Grace Ministries. But I can tell you, there is virtually no difference in their teachings, having heard many from both.

    And on a side note, the girl that I dated was a means for God opening my eyes to the abuse going on in that church. And I am thankful He used that relationship to bring about my renewed faith in Christ! I want to state that she has a strong desire to honor the Lord, but that desire has been taken advantage of as it had for me.

  3. I agree that while it would probably be great for SGM to merge into SBC, it would never happen. The apostles and pastors in SGM would have to give up being in charge with no accountability, and go to a system of government where the congregation doesn’t just have some authority, but a lot of authority, this is not something I could ever see SGM giving up.

  4. ByFaithAlone,

    Isn’t it amazing how God opens our eyes to abuse in the church? Had you not gone through your frustrating dating experience, you’d probably still be attending CMC.

    There is a Southern Baptist church in our area that reminds me of SGM. In fact, the senior pastor readily admits that he and C.J. Mahaney are friends.

    Thanks for sharing your important testimony. I pray that God will use it to open blind eyes to spiritual abuse in the church.

    God bless you!

  5. presbyterian said:
    “I agree that while it would probably be great for SGM to merge into SBC, it would never happen.”

    To be clear, I’m not saying in this post that it would be good for SGM to merge into the SBC. To the contrary, I believe that the alliance between Mohler and Mahaney will prove to be extremely detrimental to the Southern Baptist Convention. We are already seeing the fallout, as evidenced by ByFaithAlone’s testimony. When the word gets out that congregants are being spiritually abused, there will be a stampede out of Southern Baptist churches just like is happening in some SGM churches. There have been reports that an SGM church near Richmond recently lost half of its congregation due to the lead pastor’s spiritual abuse. To read about it, just search “KingsWay” on our blog.

    You said that a merger would never happen because “the apostles and pastors in SGM would have to give up being in charge with no accountability, and go to a system of government where the congregation doesn’t just have some authority, but a lot of authority, this is not something I could ever see SGM giving up.”

    Perhaps you missed our article highlighting a recent change in SGM. They no longer have apostles (at least in title). You can read about it here:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/01/21/sovereign-grace-ministries-%e2%80%93-who%e2%80%99s-confused-about-apostolic-ministry/

    As far as Southern Baptist congregations having a lot of authority, that seems to be changing, too. Not only are the by-laws in SBC churches being amended to give the pastor more “authority”, but some congregations are moving to an elder-led form of government.

  6. Wow Deb you said it. The biggest issue that my friends and I have become aware of is the total lack of accountability on the behalf of the pastor at my old church. He was unapproachable in regards to calling him out on sin. That church is elder led, however, the elders there are “yes men” who will do whatever he wills. If this is present in other SBC churches, I don’t know. One of my friends went a step further than I did and presented a long list of complaints to the elder board about the abuse going on, they sent it back to him and his wife claiming that the pastor did nothing wrong. I won’t go into detail on what happened. If they wish to share their story I will let them do so on their terms. But as far as SMG and SBC, I pray they don’t hook up.

  7. ByFaithAlone

    I’ll do you one better. I personally know of a church that denied that the pastors did anything wrong . They denied that they had been told of something bad that was happening in the church. Well, some guys caught one of the pastors on a tape confessing that he had been told.

    That tape was played for elders and pastor protectors (known as impartial investigators-yeah right). They stared silently and when asked to comment said “no comment.” They put out a report and continue to pretend that such a tape doesn’t exist. In fact, they were “outraged” that they were recorded. However, the tape still exists and they have to live with it. I bet, late at night, they don’t sleep well.

    One must carefully investigate how elders obtain their position. If they are not independent, one must run, not walk, from such a church.

  8. R

    Call this a prophecy. SGM and the SBC will merge in one form or another.

    I believe that CJ and SGM have developed a serious image problem due the number of complaints regarding spiritual abuse that are found at some sites in the blogosphere. There are reports that some of their churches are losing members. The Pastors College appears to be on hold.

    There is one way to overcome these problems. They need to morph into a new entity that is large enough and respected (at least by some) to bury the problem.

    As Deb said, they have gotten rid of the ridiculous apostle designation. The next thing that will occur is the dissolution of the Pastor’s College. All pastor types will be sent to SBTS.

    The Catholic church does this all the time. They accept married men into the priesthood who were pastors in the Episcopal/Anglican faith.

    Mahaney offers something that the SBC leadership craves. Absolute, utter, heavy-handed control in which the pastor is a little dictator. I believe that deep down inside that people like Mohler, etc actually believe that they are like the apostles and patriarch and they admire Mahaney for having the guts to say it.

  9. Dee,

    Since you’re now sharing prophecy, here’s another.

    I prophecy that the prophecy mike will soon disappear from all SGM churches.

  10. This article really makes one think and a merger between SBC and SGM is not all that far fetched. Here’s why. The SBC is on the decline and has been for many years. Those millions of people they report as members come from some creative reporting of numbers at the local church level. They often report “membership” and “Sunday School enrollment” not weekly attendance to the SBC. I don’t think it would be a case of the SGM dissolving into the SBC but a case of the SBC slowly dissolving into the SGM.
    The other aspect of this is that, as we’ve read here and in other places on this site, the SBC seminaries are producing pastors with doctrinal leanings similiar to the SGM at an alarming rate.
    Finally each SBC church is autonomous and free to associate or disassociate with the SBC as they see fit. There would be nothing to prevent the church from associating with BOTH the SGM and the SBC because nothing in the SGM teachings is strictly in conflict with the Baptist Faith and Message.

  11. ByFaithAlone said:
    “One of my friends went a step further than I did and presented a long list of complaints to the elder board about the abuse going on, they sent it back to him and his wife claiming that the pastor did nothing wrong. I won’t go into detail on what happened. If they wish to share their story I will let them do so on their terms.”

    ByFaithAlone,

    Recently, we featured a guest post by someone who took the time to document what happened at his former church. He found it very therapeutic. You can find his story at this link:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/02/07/pastoral-abuse-one-man%e2%80%99s-difficult-journey-and-advice

    If you or any of your friends would like to submit a guest post, you can e-mail us.

    dee@thewartburgwatch.com or deb@thewartburgwatch.com

    If they are concerned about possible retribution, we will be glad to keep their identities, as well as the identity of their church, anonymous. This is a crucial time in Christendom, and silence is not the answer. We must warn our brothers and sisters in Christ about these hyper-authoritarian leaders before they wreak more havoc.

  12. Jerry, You have nailed it. Also, Mohler needs SGM more than some think. And the SBC gives CJ legitimacy he could not get otherwise. It sort of excuses his shepherding cultishness. CJ is concerned about his legacy at this point.

    “I agree that while it would probably be great for SGM to merge into SBC, it would never happen. The apostles and pastors in SGM would have to give up being in charge with no accountability, and go to a system of government where the congregation doesn’t just have some authority, but a lot of authority, this is not something I could ever see SGM giving up.”

    presbytery,

    Perhaps you are not aware of what is happening in the SBC. They ARE becoming more and more like SGM in polity and organizational operations..even in doctrine!. After 30 years of the hierarchical teaching and anti-priesthood teaching in the SBC seminaries, most of the pastors coming out of seminary identify with CJ and his brand of polity. They would not call themselves Apostles but even SGM is getting away from that to be more accepted.

    There is a big push in the SBC from the seminaries (and they set the tone for what eventually comes out of the churches) to make churches “elder led” which means a few selected sychophants run the show. And the changing of by laws by the leaders of the churches is becoming an epidemic of power grabs!

    You have no idea how many seminary people are sent to churches to make changes and take over for Calvinism, FIC, elder led, etc and they do it covertly even changing bylaws.. We used to trust our seminary…but now many do not.

    The SBC has changed and is changing. The autonomy of the local church is not what you think. That slogan is more of a bait and switch to passify the pew sitters because it is historical baptistic thinking and not easily changed.

    They disfellowship a church for having a female pastor but did not when the pastor is a pedophile or adulterer or the pastor coddled a pedophile by keeping him on staff.

  13. Deb

    Let’s move the prophecy mike over here to TWW. Everyone can write what they think is going to happen and we can allow all sorts of ideas unlike the vaunted Prophecy Gestapo at SGM.

    That whole thing is a pile of codswallop anyway. My guess is that if anyone had a “prophecy” that SGM is going down the wrong path, said person approaching the mike would be carried out of the church by the other office I have heard of over there – Church Bouncers.

  14. Lydia

    As you know, I had a rather unique experience at a former church. Recently, someone expressed concern about the current goings on over there. Thank God I am out of it, and it has nothing to do with us. When one of us tried to explain the big picture issues that we saw, said person said “But they have elders.” Needless to say, we hit the ground laughing.

    People are so gosh darn naive, and I am trying to figure out if it is intentional so they don’t have to deal with reality.

  15. For the last 30 years, there has been a shift from “priesthood of the (all) believer(s)” which is scripture based, to “pastoral authority” and elders, which is biblical only by a stretch of interpretation, of a couple of verses, that is based on a particularly bad translation in the KJV that has been retained in most subsequent translations. (read the foreword or notes to many translations and they say that they have attempted to maintain the sense of the KJV!). It also requires a politically driven exegesis to get there!

    And all of the misogyny, abuse, authoritarianism, etc. comes from the same sources, including the move toward extreme “Calvinism” (one that Calvin would not recognize or believe!)

    SBC transmogrified into SGM. I can readily see another modification of the Baptist Faith and Message in the next several years, resulting in a takeover of the SBC. Then why maintain a SBC organizational structure that appears to be democratic, particularly if you believe in God-called life-time pastoral leader (dictator) ship. Will Al Mohler or a henchman become “president for life” of the SBC? Don’t bet against it.

  16. Hey, I am in a congregational “one man, one vote church”. Adrian was a great pastor, and now Steve is.

    I would never belong to a church that had elders.

    All of the authority in our church is vested in the members.

  17. Anon 3:51, I agree. Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler both disagree strongly with Elders. I would never go to a church that has elders. First Baptist Dallas is my church. The congregation there governs the church and has since its founding.

  18. Anon 3:54, I am glad you see things that way. I frequent the 9 Marks Blog.

    Mark Dever is a big proponent against elder led churches.

  19. Elders are biblical. It is just what we call elders, isn’t. And there does not have to be elders for it to be the Body of Christ. It is too lengthy to get into here but a great resource of the entire early church process can be found below. I checked everything written in this piece which is time consuming to do.

    http://www.ptmin.org/straight.pdf

    The problem several anons above who go to mega churches in the SBC is that the pew sitters have no clue what is going on behind the curtain. They think it is one man one vote (where are the women?) but they don’t even know how the issues are brought forth and they have NO clue what issues have been hidden from them. In the mega world, deacons can be just as bad as elders in being starstruck.

    At Bellevue, Gaines protected a pedophile minister for 6 mos until it became public. That is the sort of thing that goes on in mega’s all the time. The pew sitter just believes that ignorance is bliss.

  20. “People are so gosh darn naive, and I am trying to figure out if it is intentional so they don’t have to deal with reality.”

    They have been taught to follow man thinking they are actually following Christ by doing so. It is horribly sad and why we see so much spiritual abuse and shenanigans in the institution some call a church.

  21. I think one thing that gets lost when we talk about movements within the SBC is that the SBC is made up of 45,000 churches. There are various movements and camps within the SBC. The camp that appreciates the ministry of C J Mahaney is smaller than you would realize, but seems more prominent because several Seminary presidents are in that camp.

    The major reason that you probably would not see a merger is that SGM is an unapologetically top-down organization and the SBC is (in theory) an organization that is committed to the autonomy of the local church. If I understand their polity correctly, the leaders of SGM can go in and make decisions for a local congregation. The SBC (in theory) cannot do that. They can choose to disassociate a church, but they are not allowed to violate the autonomy of the local congregation.

    I did want to mention one thing about the elder discussion. There is a middle ground where elders/pastors/overseers (they seem to be interchangeable in the NT) lead the church, teach the church, and care for the church; but then must receive congregational approval to make certain decisions. In this understanding of polity, the elders/pastors/overseers lead, but are ultimately accountable and responsible to the congregation. What I have just described is typically called the “elder-led” model, where what is practiced in SGM churches would be an “elder-rule” model.

  22. anonymous,

    Thanks for weighing in. I do have one question for you. Why are you pretending to be two different commenters? In your 3:54 comment you agreed with what you wrote in your 3:51 comment. Remember, I have the ability to check IP addresses…

    I do hope you will continue to comment. May I recommend that you come up with a creative moniker like “Free to be me in the SBC”.

  23. Oh my goodness. If Bellevue Baptist Church and First Baptist Church Dallas are examples of congregationally governed churches (and if Steve Gaines is an example of a great pastor), then I can officially declare pigs are able to fly, hell is now open for ice skating, and I fully expect monkeys to climb out on my backside any moment.

  24. So in this and countless other posts there’s been much discussion on the faults with the various types of church government. Seems every person you ask hates one type and thinks theirs is the ideal model to follow. I love to throw grenades so here’s a thought for everyone.

    I don’t think it really matters all that much what type of government a church has because they’re all messed up. The potential for abuse exists in each and every instance where there is power to be amassed and wielded.

    I will buy the argument that some systems of church government have a greater chance for abuse than others. Any kind that has power centered on a few people has a greater likelihood for abuse than the kind with power spread out among many. Highly democratic churches are not immune to abuse either because even their decision making and power are concentrated in a few that are very involved. The vast majority are “pew sitters” and don’t even show up to bussiness meetings. Kinda reminds me of our country right now. I do wonder sometimes though if we tend to project our modern pro-democracy views onto the governace of the church. I think history shows that highly democratic denominations sprang up in the U.S. and did not exist prior to that point in church history.

    We (my family) currently attend a pastor-led, elder advised church. I believe the current name for this is the Moses Model. This particular church works because I truthfully believe the Holy Spirit guides the leaders and their efforts bear fruit. Sometimes it rankles me, having attended a SBC church for a few years, that as a regular attendee I don’t have a vote in that church’s policies until I realize that I actually do. I can choose not attend there and not write checks to them if I like. I can “vote with my wallet”. If enough people get fed up with something that’s going on and do this, the church will either correct or die.

    So here’s the million dollar question and one that I’m sure will have lots of opinions on all sides. What is the proper, biblical, fair and non abusive form of church government? In answering that I would ask that people bear in mind we don’t live in a utopia and whatever form it takes will be flawed because we are flawed. I’m curious to read any responses.

  25. Jerry:

    Thanks for “getting it”. That was my point in 4 “anonymous” posts in 3 minutes.

    I was going to post a 5th on a small church that is controlled by 3 or 4 families.

    Abuse occurs in all contexts, sizes and polity arrangements.

    I have seen churches in different contexts with different sizes and polity and all were healthy in the way they operated.

  26. Anonymous,

    I had a feeling that’s what you were up to. Glad you confirmed it. I absolutely agree with your statement:

    “Abuse occurs in all contexts, sizes and polity arrangements.”

    We can no longer remain silent about spiritual abuse in the church. It’s time to SPEAK UP!!!

  27. Jerry

    Any system in which the congregation has a vote in what is occurring will lessen the chances of a closed system. In fact, every person should have the right to propose people for elder/deacon. I, too, attend an elder led church. However, there is maximum church input with member voting occurring on all major issues. There is debate and input at all levels.

    Anytime there is a closed slate of elders/deacons and this closed slate is proposed by former elders and/or pastors, the system is at high risk for abuse.

  28. I think the point would be that even though abuse is in all churches, it should be the last place it is propagated, tolerated, or swept under the rug. I can only speak for SGM as that was many years of my church attendance. The SBC was a Mohler free place when I was there.

    There is a problem in the way we do church here in America, and perhaps abroad.

    Here’s a post from SGM Refuge that summed it up nicely -

    “Religion is in the multibillion dollar business of managing sin. Jesus took away the sin of the world. He put religion out of business. To know him is to know the amazing truth that he no longer counts our sins against us. To know him is to know that he has made us to be as righteous and holy as he is. To know him is to know he is one with us and we with him. To know him is to know he calls us his beloved. To know him is life.”

    I would simply say that Christ came for people, not polity or brick and mortar facilities. (How many times does he Commend vs Condemn a religious leader in the Bible?)

    When it comes to Polity/Government, George Washington said it best:

    Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

  29. I’ve made some comments on Survivors about SGM being a business and not a ministry. To me, the decisions made by SGM don’t make much sense until you look at them strictly from a business point of view.

    My thought: The SGM PC is too expensive to sustain (pure speculation on my part) and it doesn’t produce a “legitimate” degree. At least nothing that will ever gain any respect from other, more established denominations such as the SBC. So the PC fades and SGM decides to either educate through the SBTS or begins to use SBTS grads as interns. Or a combination of both.

    This also smoothes the way for any possible merger (or at least alliance). Same with changing titles from “apostles” to “regional leaders”. It’s not that the title was confusing, it’s to make the title more palatable for merger/alliance purposes.

    And I’ve been listening to some of DH’s messages lately. During the Richmond mess, he gave a message entitled “Peter, Polity and Us”. In this message, DH says, “While I do formally serve this church on behalf of Sovereign Grace Ministries I have no authority in this church whatsoever. The elders are the final authority of this local church.”

    Autonomy of the local church separate from the sometimes heavy hand of SGM certainly seems different. Maybe this is another change to appear to be more acceptable for alliance purposes?

    ~ Roadwork

  30. Roadwork

    I think I remember reading about an SBTS grad who was made to go to Pastors College because it was required for SGM pastors. Oh how far the proud must fall.

    Your observation is fascinating. DH actually pretends he is subject to local rule. Oh good night, what a pile of codswallop.

    There is no question that something is up.Too many factors : lots of dough being flung at SBTS, Mahaney kissing up to “the smartest man in the world” (how Mohler doesn’t vomit is beyond me- maybe he actually believes it), the forsaking of the apostle designation-how does one become an unapostle anyway?, the toning down of the charismatic, the joint appearances at Reformed conferences which remind me of the debutante taking a bow before being introduced to society, and on and on.

    If the SBC does this thing, with all of the problems being reported on the internet then the SBC proves it is desperate and is willing to sink to new lows to bolster authoritarianism and control. I really like being nondenominational at the moment.

  31. Arce
    As usual, you hit it head on. I just read another alarming statistic today about the continued rise of unbelief in the US. It seems to correlate to the rise in hyperauthoritarian behavior on the part of pastors along with some of the megachurch nonsense. Mohler is definitely the “it” guy of the moment in the SBC. It is scary to think that this sort of trend will continue. I am a big believer in a democratic process in the church and I don’t see it happening in the SBC as it is currently being ruled.

    Today I heard about a talk that Piper gave which appeared to encourage women to stay in a home for at least one night while being abused then they can leave. I’d like to see any man stick around for more than one minute while being slammed around. We will be posting on this ASAP. This is the state the church gets to when patriarchy and politics substitute for Scripture. Thank God there are men like you who get it. It gives me hope that sanity will prevail in the church one day.

  32. I would caution against taking one Reformed Baptist church as indicative of the whole SBC. There is no doubt an alliance between C.J. and Mohler. There is no doubt that Mohler has scored quite the coup in the GCR. But I would not count on the 80% of Southern Baptists who are not Calvinists to remain passive forever. I also would not count on the entire 20% who are Calvinist remaining in Mohler’s pocket.

    I still don’t see SGM ever being absorbed into the SBC. I don’t see how that benefits either side. I also don’t believe Al Mohler would see any benefit in that. I think he’s happy to remain in T4G under its current structure because that maintains the image that he’s focused primarily on the Gospel. He’s got some people working for him who are good PR men but I don’t know how they’d spin Mohler welcoming SGM into the SBC. He’s got a lot invested into the “standing together, standing apart” idea and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Don’t see him sacrificing that for Ceej. Maybe if the others tire of him, he’d make such a move, but this theory has always struck me as unrealistic.

  33. R
    I realize that it would be a highly unusual move. There is too much featuring of Mahaney to think this is just a couple of good ol boys scratching each other’s backs. But, time will tell.

    As for the Baptist/Calvinist thing-People are hemorrhaging from the SBC. The current counts of actual membership appears to be in the 8 million range. Even the leaders agree that the 16 million number is way, way off. The people who stay are the diehards-my SBC right or wrong. This is the perfect opportunity for the Mohler faction to permanently change the direction of the SBC.

    I think Calvinism may win the day. However, the SBC will lose more members. That is why they are starting new churches all over. They can redefine Baptist in any way the wish. Except for baptism, the SBC will look very similar to the conservative Reformed crowd in other denominations. I think Arce is correct in his assessment.

  34. I will have to go to this -

    Plant! Church-Planting Conference
    March 24–26, 2011
    Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

    Plant! is about vision and action and ideas beyond the limits of the box. Sovereign Grace Ministries is gathering church-planting thinkers and doers from Acts 29, 9Marks, and the Southern Baptist Convention for conversation across the lines. It’s a conference, yes, but it’s so much more. Whatever your background, if you’re a church planter or ever hope to throw yourself into the mission of the gospel through church planting, you’ll love what you encounter at Plant!

    Found Here: http://sovereigngraceministries.org/events/default.aspx

  35. R, as I have stated on another past thread, I think this is more about SGM sending wannabe pastors to SBTS. The SGM “pastors college” has no credibility outside SGM. This move would benefit both Mohler and CJ.

    What you might not understand is that most Baptists in the pews have no clue about “Calvinism” and when the seminary sends a student or graduate to a church to interview preach, they never announce they are Calvinists. They are told not to. Some churches don’t figure it out for years.

    An example is Mohler’s church. People will swear up and down it is not Calvinist nor was Ezell. YET, Mohler taught SS there for years and now the teaching pastor is Russ Moore, Dean at SBTS (Yes, he is double dipping) along with other Calvinists on staff. Yet, most of the pew sitters will claim their church is not Calvinist. The Calvinists do not announce they are Calvinists. And the pew sitters are so biblically ignorant, they do not know.

  36. “So here’s the million dollar question and one that I’m sure will have lots of opinions on all sides. What is the proper, biblical, fair and non abusive form of church government? In answering that I would ask that people bear in mind we don’t live in a utopia and whatever form it takes will be flawed because we are flawed. I’m curious to read any responses.”

    After pentecost when the Christians were scattered, we see them forming small home type churches. I am not advocating home only church but I do think size matters. People knew one anothervery well and saw each other all the time. Their Lords Supper was an actual meal they had together. It was not formal and they were involved in each other’s lives. I can remember reading one archeological study years go about excavation in Ephesus where they found a 1st or 2nd century home remodeled to accomdate up to 70 people and them thinking it was for one of the Christian churches in that city to meet in.

    Does polity really matter as much when the Body is 30 people? We also forget that when we speak of the church in Corinth (or wherever) we are speaking of all the house churches in that city. If we think of elder/pastor/teachers in this venue, it is clear they were not formal offices or positions but functions in the church for those who were spiritually mature and had gifting from the Holy Spirit.

  37. Unassimilated,

    Thanks for your keen “observations”, and I mean that in the most positive way. I should have mentioned SGM’s Plant conference in the post because I commented to Dee about those alliances last week. The PCA will be there together with SGM, Acts 29, 9 Marks, and the SBC. Hopefully, they won’t have a communion service because that could get messy… Presbyterians and Baptist together…

  38. Deb

    Ah…Christian unity… it was supposed to a beautiful thing until the doctrinal Gestapo got involved. And all sides are convinced that they are all so right because the Holy Spirit told them Now, they can’t even commune together. Holy Spirit? yeah, right!

  39. Unassimilated

    I you know anything about the Conservative Resurgence at the end of the last century, you know that it was a bloody, take no prisoners war which left the battlefield littered with bodies. I used to think it was about people rejecting the Bible. Oh, there were a few. But instead, it was an all out war on differing perspectives on secondary issues. The leaders deny this but the ones harmed know it for sure.

    Mohler is only different from Patterson in Calvinism. He already got rid of the vast majority of the seminary staff who didn’t agree with him years ago. Now, he will get rid of all who do not march lock step in Calvinism and secondary doctrines with him. He is taking aim at OE/TE creationists, women who believe they can be elders, missionaries who speak in tongues (watch out SGM types, CJ will be canceling tongues), and so on.

    After he gets rid of all of those, then he will turn on his own-those who baptize infants. But for now, they are useful idiots in his campaign. Meantime, the number of people who now claim no religion in the US has doubled in 10 years. Why? Seems to go lockstep with these doctrinal Gestapo tactics.

    I have left the SBC and am now in a nondenominational church which doesn’t do this sort of thing, at least for now.

  40. Dee I realize close systems have a greater chance for abuse to occur and yes Lydia I agree that smaller groups are less prone to this than the big Mega-Churches that have become all the rage.

    What I’m wondering though Dee is this, are these highly democratic churches a biblically accurate form of church governance? Like I said before history shows that until the outbreak of democracy in the US churches like these did not exist. We Americans adjusted the governance of our churches to reflect our views with regards to our secular governments. i.e. “Everyone should have a say.”

    What I’m saying is that abuse can occur (and does) at even the so called democratic churches because there is still a relatively small group that votes and comes to bussiness meetings. The majority just show up and sit in the pews. For those churches with a highly centralized government the individuals still hold the power of the purse.

    Again I wonder what is proper form of church government.

  41. For me this is all distasteful, to say the least. With the spirit led charismatic resurgence of the 70′s, the change came through the people, leaving the churches and religious institutions to respond and adjust to what God was doing.

    Here we have a swell of self serving polity and man exalting practices leading the change.

    On another note-

    Lydia asks an interesting question. I wish I could answer it. My thoughs
    come to;

    Did Christ come for individuals that would believe in him, regardless of upbringing and affiliation? Does he care how, when,where,or why we
    assemble.

    or

    Did he come to facilitate your membership into a brick and mortar institution where a shepherd/apostle would lead you until your day of mortal death?
    (This is what SGM believes, the Cross is just a step in sanctification, and sanctification does not happen or exist outside the local church)

    In other words, is all we need found in him and the bible, or did he come to initiate a process with obligations and overseers?

    If the former is true, then what purpose is church other than an opportunity for
    fellow believers to gather?

    If the latter, then the Polity is everything, and SGM has it right as the sheep
    are not in a position to govern or assemble on their own.

    I know there are points in between, and I apologize for the oversimplification,
    it is more a reflection of where I am when pondering these things.

    Christ seemed to use most of his time with religious leaders rebuking, warning, confounding, and questioning them. He seemed to prefer the people of the streets, the poor, the needy, and the tax collectors to the institutions. Yet we continue to build things that Christ would have perhaps avoided.

    So for now I would say, any type of government where it’s leaders live christ example. One where popularity, sales, and exceptance are not part of a “Gospel strategy.” (That’s a SGM term)

    There is something to be said for a vow of poverty.

  42. Dee,

    Ahh yes, secondary issues. The beauty of the Gospel is it’s simplicity.

    Imagine if restaurants were on the decline, and things heated to battles
    where mans need to eat was not the issue, but what, from whom, where, and how he ate was the issue. Forgetting the diversity of creation and individualism, a victor emerges, and now all restaurants are Taco Bell.

    A great outcome for a business, but a tragic loss for mankind.

    I wonder what will a post, Al “Chipotle” Mohler, and CJ “Taco Bell” Mahaney world look like?

  43. Jerry’s comment, “The vast majority are “pew sitters” and don’t even show up to bussiness meetings”.

    It may be because people simply aren’t interested. (But they are interested in pursuing God.) Maybe people know deep down inside that things like salaries, buildings, and money matters are so far away from the point of what it means to pursue God. They go to the church in order to pursue God because there doesn’t appear to be any other alternative, and it’s can be a daunting mystery to know how to begin pursuing God. And so they put up with the ball & chain of governance and politics.

    I bet that if someone in a group of people pursuing God (I’m avoiding lables) said “Let’s build a house for a very poor single mother & join up with Habitat for Humanity”, or “Let’s raise money for a well for a village in a 3rd world country and join up with what World Vision is doing”, there would be great response.

    Or, “Parents, come over to my house and let’s pray for our kids. Let’s endeavor to roll off our burden of worry onto God and entrust them into God’s hands.” I guarantee you, great response.

    There are a whole host of other creative ideas that are focussed on true need & things that truly matter that require no titles, no salaries, no mortgage, no building with utility, gardening, and upkeep costs. And no governance or politics. They would be fun, energizing, relationship-building, and are right on target with what I think most people know deep down inside is what it means to pursue God.

  44. Dee:

    I agree with you on many issues, but could not disagree more with you about the CR. Thousands of common, grassroots Baptists, who had never been involved in denominational matters, became concerned about theological issues, primarily at the SBC seminaries and colleges (though the colleges were state institutions). These feelings had been building up for decades.

    They came to a series of convention to vote their concerns in probably the most politically democratic and open denomination in the U.S. The CR lasted from 1980 to about 1992 or so.

    For the last 19 years there have been many issues and developments in SBC life. Some that were “flash in the pan” matters that came and went. And others that have lasted.

    I understand that you probably disagree with some of the issues that have come up, but if you go back and read all of the CR history, you will see that it was not about “secondary issues”, as you have said.

    I realize that you feel differently. I am always willing to learn. Tell me which “secondary issues” the CR was really about, and please direct me to any material or discussion of these issues during the CR so that I can see what you are talking about.

    I was fairly involved in the CR, as were many Southern Baptists. I remember lots of arguments over the nature of Scripture and having seminary professors and SBC employees affirm the inerrancy of Scripture.

    I do not remember any debates, writings by Pressler, Patterson or others that emphasized secondary issues.

    Have you read Paul Pressler’s book, “A Hill on Which to Die”? The title is based on the idea that the CR would be about one primary issue and THAT was the hill to die on. Not a bunch of secondary issues.

  45. Lydia,

    Russell Moore is not the Senior Pastor of Highview Baptist Church. Highview is a multi-campus church. Russell Moore is the lead pastor of Highview East. The Senior pastor position is currently open: http://www.highview.org/feature/pastorsearch/

    Reformed churches in Louisville do not hide being Reformed. Emmanuel is Reformed. Clifton is Reformed. Sojourn is Reformed. Ninth & O is Reformed lite. This is clearly seen from looking at their websites. Their statements of faith and recommended reading list are undeniably Calvinist.

    Highview Baptist Church has some Calvinist pastors. A significant church of the upper leadership of Southern Seminary attend Highview, specifically Highview East. But relatively few Southern Seminary students attend there. If you want the authentic Reformed Baptist Church experience, you are not going to find it at Highview. What you will find is a very typical Southern Baptist megachurch with some pastors who teach from a Reformed perspective.

  46. I meant to say, “A significant portion of the upper leadership attended Highview Baptist Church.”

  47. dee,

    You said: “Mohler is only different from Patterson in Calvinism. He already got rid of the vast majority of the seminary staff who didn’t agree with him years ago. Now, he will get rid of all who do not march lock step in Calvinism and secondary doctrines with him.”

    One must be at least a 3.5 point Calvinist to teach at Southern. In theory this has been the case for all 152 years of Southern’s existence. In reality, it was not strictly enforced during the more liberal years, but it has been enforced since Mohler took over. A significant number of prominent figures at SBTS are 4 point Calvinists.

  48. Lydia,

    You also said, “What you might not understand is that most Baptists in the pews have no clue about “Calvinism” and when the seminary sends a student or graduate to a church to interview preach, they never announce they are Calvinists. They are told not to. Some churches don’t figure it out for years.”

    I understand the SBC fairly well, thank you. I have not ever heard of a student being told to hide the fact they are a Calvinist. I have heard them be told not to make an issue of it. Most Southern Seminary students that I know (and I know more than a few) have the integrity to say they are Calvinist and will say it up front in the interest of full disclosure.

    Mohler has far less control over SBTS graduates than your posts indicate. In 2005, he tried to lay the law down to his students about consumption of alcohol. He told them that if they drink, 99% of the doors in the SBC would be shut for them. The response was the near equivalent of a middle finger. Large numbers of graduates go with Acts 29, or start churches bi-vocationally because they do not want to be put on a leash.

    I personally believe that Joshua Harris is being propped up by Mohler & Co as an alternative to Mark Driscoll. If the young bucks want to work outside the SBC, then some measure of control can be exerted if Joshua Harris is the role model. If they follow Driscoll then Mohler has no power beyond intellectual influence.

    I also personally believe that the young bucks with a big set of… antlers… will prefer Driscoll over Harris. Say what you want about Driscoll but he is masculine. Harris wrote the book on courtship, which is anathema to most red-blooded American men.

    There may be something to the idea of shutting down SGM Pastor’s College in favor of the SBC. I don’t know enough about SGM to have a feel for that.

  49. Elastigirl,

    I think you missed my point a little. What I was trying to get across is that the vast majority of people in any given church just want to come to church and feel good about having been there. They want to be able to say “we attend church” but they don’t want to get involved in the messy, hard work of being truly involved.

    Look at just about any church and I think you’ll find that all those good things you talked about are happening, but guess what, it’s the people who do concern themselves with church budgets, salaries, mowing the grass around the building, maintaining the property……etc. etc. are the same ones that are organising the church mission outreaches, prayer groups, Bible studies, Habitat for Humanity and most of the other good things the church does. In most churches 10% of the people do 90% of the work. 90% of the people just sit in the pews and criticize what’s being done.

    You said “It may be because people simply aren’t interested.” in those things because in the end those things don’t matter. They are removed from what it means to pursue God. I call that being lazy, uninvolved and rationalizing an excuse for sitting on the fence.

  50. Hi, Jerry. I do agree with what you’re saying. Yes, 10% of the people do 90% of the work. And i’m sure you’re right, those 10% are also the one’s initiating and being involved in the other things.

    To continue to explore this… well, I think the whole visual of “church” is sitting down in a row of people, and observing. Passive participation. Like a movitavional or topical seminar on PBS. This is the only model there is. This is what film, television, and literature portray — because it’s truly how it is, historically up to now. I would love to investigate the exceptions to this rule, because I’m sure there are some in history up to present. But those exceptions are blocked by the overwhelming picture of sitting in a row and observing. Turn on any televised church and this is exactly what you see. This is the expectation. This is what church means.

    Unfortunatey.

    Perhaps it goes back to the time when the only people who had access to scripture (or perhaps reading abiltiy) were professional clergy. People sat and listened. Participation was a passive thing.

    Or state church / national religion. People went to church because that was what you did. I’m sure there were consequences for not going (social ostracism being one of them). Just a duty, something to cross of your list. More passive participation.

    Perhaps it is a product of professional clergy in present times, who are paid to know and do. This is their job, and people expect it just as they themselves are paid to do their jobs. Business. Products and services that are paid for and consumed.

    Perhaps people are just plain worn out. Most people work extremely hard. Or, are worn out from trying to find that job where they will work extremely hard. Are disillusioned with government, the economy. Threats of job loss, rising prices, terrorism, and the undeniable complexity & busy-ness of life. I have 3 shcool age children and when i compare life now to when i was a kid, it’s much much more complicated and busy. My parents would agree. There just isn’t much surplus time or energy.

    Not an excuse but and explanation.

    Perhaps the dysfunction of “church” can be bypassed altogether and a group of people who know each other can simply get out there and do things that really matter. Sounds like fun to me. Afterall, it’s fact of the action (& the fruit of it) that counts, not the label and packaging. (I see “church” as label and packaging).

  51. Jerry/Elastigirl

    Maybe people are sitting there uninterested because they are not engaged. The pastors show little interest in what the people think. They also show little interest in what the Holy Spirit might be saying to the pew sitters. The pew sitters are taught to stifle themselves and listen o what the pastor says, since, like Moses, he is the on who is the Holy Spirit filter.

    The only thing that matters is what the “leadership” thinks. In fact, it could be that the the pastors have created exactly what they want. A little kingdom in which the little guys do what they are told and throws them so dough to keep the process going. Frankly, it can all be rather boring.I know people in my last church who often sleep in on Sundays and are glad when they are on vacation because they have an excuse to skip church. Is it their fault? Maybe they have never read just how exciting it is to follow Jesus or maybe, they think that their boring church is what it is all about.

    Frankly, brunch with friends sounds more interesting.That is the reason for the 90/10 rule, IMNHO

  52. Anonymous

    I was not avoiding you question. i was on vacation and am trying to catch up-sorry.
    I, too, thought that it was about Scriptural integrity. But, that was not well-defined. This was, and is, about Biblical interpretation beyond infallibility. It now encompasses, prayer languages by missionaries, women teaching in seminaries (even languages), authority, etc. I highly recommend Wade Burleson’s book Hardball Religion which well defines what this movement, which may have started off with the right motives (I don’t know for sure) is really about. I feel like I was duped. We wrote a series on why we left the SBC when we started this blog. Type in Ta Ta SBC to get you started.

    I have met one too many people who left the SBC because they, too, felt duped, thinking it was about the authority of Scripture. Some of them are now Cooperatives and they ain’t liberal unless you define liberal as being against recalling missionaries if they weren’t baptized in the correct Baptist church.

    I have not read Pressler’s book but believe his premise is incorrect. It was about secondary issues masqueraded as Biblical integrity.

  53. “I understand the SBC fairly well, thank you. I have not ever heard of a student being told to hide the fact they are a Calvinist. I have heard them be told not to make an issue of it. Most Southern Seminary students that I know (and I know more than a few) have the integrity to say they are Calvinist and will say it up front in the interest of full disclosure.”

    Hi R,

    We are probably more on the same page than you think except you actually help me make my point in your comment before this one except for SBTS always being “Calvinist”:

    “One must be at least a 3.5 point Calvinist to teach at Southern. In theory this has been the case for all 152 years of Southern’s existence. In reality, it was not strictly enforced during the more liberal years, but it has been enforced since Mohler took over. A significant number of prominent figures at SBTS are 4 point Calvinists.”

    What has happened is that since all profs are “Calvinistic” or at least are closet Free willers, the young minds full of mush who attend are indoctrinated. This is even more prevelant since they started Boyce and get them real young.

    The older students who attend are not as suceptable and most I have met are startled at the narrow thinking environment after they get there and are looking forward to getting the work done and getting out. But these are folks who typically have a bachelors, masters before they come to SBTS. They are thinkers and have some real world experience.

    To be told not to make an issue of being Calvinist is the same thing as lying by ommission. It is a HUGE deal when a church is interviewing and hiring staff and pastors. Pulpit committees are getting smarter, though. A few years back, I know of a former associational person who was training pulpit committees on the questions to ask to see if they were closet Calvinists. That is how bad it is.

    “Mohler has far less control over SBTS graduates than your posts indicate”

    I am not talking about “control” over them as you seem to indicate. I am talking about career opportunities and who is recommended and who is not. In that respect Mohler, and others have a lot of influence and you had best be one of their sycophants.

    ” In 2005, he tried to lay the law down to his students about consumption of alcohol. He told them that if they drink, 99% of the doors in the SBC would be shut for them. The response was the near equivalent of a middle finger. Large numbers of graduates go with Acts 29, or start churches bi-vocationally because they do not want to be put on a leash.”

    i agree about Acts 29 (sadly) but not about the bi vocational part. Most are looking at ministry as a career and themselves as professional Christians to be paid. There are a few who believe in that but they are rare. Most are working as a means to an end to get a full time job in ministry. Example: Working at UPS is part of the metro college effort for partly paid tuition and benefits and many who do that call it “bivocational” ministry. But most want full time ministry.

    “I personally believe that Joshua Harris is being propped up by Mohler & Co as an alternative to Mark Driscoll. If the young bucks want to work outside the SBC, then some measure of control can be exerted if Joshua Harris is the role model. If they follow Driscoll then Mohler has no power beyond intellectual influence.”

    I had not thought of this! Very good point. Harris is much closer to the SBTS “ideal”. Some seminary students are losing their heads over the celebrity Driscoll.

    “I also personally believe that the young bucks with a big set of… antlers… will prefer Driscoll over Harris. Say what you want about Driscoll but he is masculine. Harris wrote the book on courtship, which is anathema to most red-blooded American men.”

    Scary thought on both. Both are authoritarians. Driscoll is horrible! Harris is the typical patriarchal water boy. It is shame how uncomfortable so many young men are in their skin that they want a Driscoll as a role model for “masculinity”. I am curious as to what they think were Jesus’ “masculine” traits. It would mean I cannot be Christlike because Jesus came as a male. I wonder who my biblical model is for “feminine” traits that are Christlike?

    “There may be something to the idea of shutting down SGM Pastor’s College in favor of the SBC. I don’t know enough about SGM to have a feel for that.”

    That is just my opinion. The SGM pastors college has NO credibility outside SGM circles. It is like going to an unaccredited trade school for a certificate. SBTS and SGM are so close in tertiary issues (which is their big focus) that it is a good fit. Mohler gets the students and CJ gains credibility for SGM and sheds the old image of being a shepherding cult. Mohler gives him street cred.

  54. Lydia,

    Some responses:

    1. I agree that the younger students at SBTS are more likely to be brainwashed. However, SBTS has the highest average and median age of any of the Southern Baptist seminaries. I would also point out that _all_ seminary students have bachelor’s degrees already. It is a graduate-level institution.

    2. By “not making a big deal” what I mean is something like this. Piper came and preached in chapel. He said that what people in the pew need is to hear the Word of God preached and to know their pastor loves them. They want to know that when they want to get married their pastor will marry them, and when their child is in a car wreck their pastor will be at the hospital, and when they die their pastor will bury them. He said there are old widows in his church that don’t even know what Calvinism is, because he has never made Calvinism the point of his ministry. He encouraged people to lay that aside and just be a pastor. THAT is what Southern tries to emphasize, as do most Reformed institutions, even Presbyterian ones such as Covenant, Westminster, and RTS. That’s not dishonesty, that’s an honest and well-intended attempt to focus their graduates on what is important.

    3. I agree that many at SBTS think of the ministry as a career. Some of them have zero work experience in a career job (UPS doesn’t count) yet expect these $70,000 salaries straight out of seminary. A lot of those guys are getting cut down to size by this recession. A lot of them take a hard fall when they follow Dr. Mohler’s advice to start a family early, and then realize that part time UPS ain’t gonna pay the hospital bills. I’ve had many ask me for help getting a job but there’s nothing I can do.

    4. Driscoll is in many ways the Fundamentalism the Next Generation, as are many of the Acts 29 guys. It is the same old American folk religion wrapped in a more contemporary face. There’s beauty in it and there’s ugliness in it. I’m just saying that as a man, I can relate to Driscoll the son of the union drywaller better than the homeschooled guy who wrote [i]I Kissed Dating Goodbye[/i]. I think this is where SBTS’s attempt to position Harris as an alternative to Driscoll will come up short. Harris might appeal to a certain demographic, but the majority of young Southern Baptist men grew up in blue collar families and went to public school and raised a little hell in their early years. They might see the error in hell-raising but aren’t overly sensitive to a girl who dated some guy and got her feelings hurt.

    See also: http://overcomingdarkness.com/2010/10/20/youtube-video-critique-church-needs-dudes-by-mark-driscoll/

  55. R,

    I appreciate your sincere responses to Lydia. It will be interesting to watch what happens in the next few years with Southern Seminary grads.

  56. Lydia

    Now, now, do not worry your pretty little head over this whole masculine trait thing. You just need to accept that the Father and Jesus are male figures and there is no need for a role model for females. You are fully covered and functioning under the authority of your pastor to whom ye shall submit for all eternity. See, all is well. Thank you, SBTS, for explaining ESS. Before that I always thought that women actually had equal standing. I was so gullible and easily deceived….

  57. ” I would also point out that _all_ seminary students have bachelor’s degrees already. It is a graduate-level institution.”

    Sorry, I was not real clear. I meant to communicate that SBTS has a bachelors program and that getting many that young is significant when it comes to indoctrination. As to the older ones…they come from other places with Bachelors and Masters. With different experiences outside the bubble.

    As to Piper, he is not being honest. Reformed theology is very important to him. He is teaching Calvinism theology whether he admits it or not to his pew sitters. In fact, I have family who went to work for Piper right out of Wheaton and I have never seen a more brainwashed young couple in my life from that experience. We hardly recognized them when they came home for the Holidays. And of course, we were all in error.

    Thanks for the link but I did a deep study on Driscoll a few years back and the man makes my skin crawl. He is a shock jock performer.I fear for the young men who follow him or look up to him. I wish more folks would simply follow Christ instead of all these celebrities.

    We certainly grew up in different SBC circles. I cannot relate to your description of the SBC and what is the normal background. And I was in a ton of SBC churches/conferences/conventions, etc growing up because of the work my mother did.

  58. Lydia:

    Concerning Piper, I agree that Reformed theology is important to him but I do believe he was sincere in advising the seminary students to prioritize real human beings over abstract theology. I don’t think he was being dishonest at all. Also, it is undeniable that Piper has an almost cult following among many Reformed people. However, I am not convinced that it is something he nurtures or desires. In fact, he took time off from the ministry to re-assess where he stood and what the fame was doing to him. I think he is on the whole one of the good guys.

    As for Driscoll, I wasn’t trying to defend him. I don’t really follow either Driscoll or Piper because I hate bandwagons. I’ve seen some very good stuff out of Driscoll. I’ve also seen some real ugliness out of him. I’m just trying provide some background color to my argument. I don’t think that the SBC and SGM are going to merge. I think there is a real unhappiness among young seminary students with the SBC. There’s an attempt to use SGM as an alternative trendy, hip church planting movement that’s more palatable to the SBC than Driscoll is.

    And I’m saying that I don’t think it’s going to work, for the reasons stated. I’m not glorifying masculinity. But the fact of the matter is church planting is almost overwhelmingly done by men, and the men who do it are more likely to overdose on testosterone than fall in line behind SGM.

  59. SGM is not a church planting movement…..they have been around for 30 plus years and have planted very few churches. They talk about planting churches a lot…they don’t do it very often. And Dave Harvey, whose supposed to be their church planting guru has never planted a church! Neither has CJ, he helped start CLC, but has never led a church plant…

  60. ” In fact, he took time off from the ministry to re-assess where he stood and what the fame was doing to him. I think he is on the whole one of the good guys.”

    I thought it was because he neglected his comp marriage while he was out speaking about how women should take abuse “for a season’. You know, the patriarchal marriage relationship with all the flowerly adjectives he constantly teaches about. Without the adjectives, it sounds like slavery for women.

    . Sorry, but I have listened to Piper for years. I do know what he teaches. One of the absolute worst was his and CJ’s “Scream of the Damned” messages a few years back at the Resolve. Even some like minds like Steve Camp had a HUGE problem with it.

    Personally, I think Piper is a bit of a crank. From his “Christian Hedonism” to his bizarre teaching at TW conference. He is another shock jock. And another very tiny patriarchal pastor. What is the deal with that?

    “And I’m saying that I don’t think it’s going to work, for the reasons stated. I’m not glorifying masculinity. But the fact of the matter is church planting is almost overwhelmingly done by men, and the men who do it are more likely to overdose on testosterone than fall in line behind SGM.”

    in most groups or movements, only men are allowed to church plant. We are not sure what is happening outside the “institutions”. In fact, I would not call most of what is planted the ‘ekklesia’ but a cultural movement focused on secondary doctrines. I view Acts 29 in this way.

  61. Here’s something interesting regarding my old SBC/CWW church. Christ Memorial Church started their own seminary called New England Theological Seminary (NETS), which is really a church-planting ministry. CMC has planted several churches in New England and one in Cameroon with another on the way. If you check out the NETS website, they readily admit they are pursuing partnership with SGM and other “conservative” denominations such as the PCA and Acts 29.

    http://www.netsem.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=225&Itemid=387

    Apparently D.A. Carson and Sinclair Ferguson have been supporting NETS for some time.

  62. John Piper addressing the following question: “What should a wife’s submission to her husband look like if he’s an abuser?”

    Here’s part of Piper’s response :

    Part of that answer’s clearly going to depend on what kind of abuse we’re dealing with here . . . .

    If this man, for example, is calling her to engage in abusive acts willingly – group sex, or something really weird, bizarre, harmful, that clearly would be sin. Then the way she submits – and I really think this is possible, it’s kind of paradoxical [sic]. She’s not going to go there. I’m saying no, she’s not going to do what Jesus would disapprove [sic], even though the husband is asking her to do it.

    She’s going to say, however, something like, “Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. I think God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership.” And so – then she would say – “But if you would ask me to do this, require this of me, then I can’t – I can’t go there.”

    Now that’s one kind of situation. Just a word on the other kind. If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OkUPc2NLrM&feature=player_embedded

    And this is just ONE example of his nuttiness. BTW: Does he make the distinction if the abuser is a professing believer or not? If not, why not?

    BTW: He took other, more damning videos off DG site after they were analyzed all over the internet and AFTER he announced to the world he was taking time off to work on his marriage. (Why would he tell the world that?)

  63. Here’s what I found at the link that By Faith Alone provided:

    “The NETS Institute for Church Planting is an interdenominational ministry. We agree with the First London Confession of Faith 1646, the Converge Worldwide/BGC Affirmation of Faith, and the Baptist Faith and Message. NETS is planting churches in partnership with conservative denominations including Converge Worldwide and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In addition, we are pursuing partnerships with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST), Sovereign Grace Ministries and Acts 29.”

    SGM will be hosting a church planting conference next month featuring the VERY SAME PLAYERS (except for WEST). Here’s the promo:

    http://www.sgmplant.org/

    “Plant! is about vision and action and ideas outside the box. Sovereign Grace Ministries is gathering church planting thinkers and doers from Acts 29, PCA,
    IX Marks, ahttp://www.sgmplant.org/nd the Southern Baptist Convention for conversation across the lines.”

    This reminds me of the synergy the Fort Lauderdale Five tried to create since each represented a different denomination. History appears to be repeating itself.

    BTW, who is footing the bill (conference fee, hotel, food, and travel expenses) for guys to attend all these conferences?

  64. John Piper: “she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.”

    Lydia,

    You are a prophetess! I have already begun working on an upcoming post on Piper’s LUDICROUS teaching. I am sick to my stomach! How would Piper like getting smacked around for one night? SHAME ON HIM!!!

  65. Here is one on Driscoll from John McArthur (a serious comp!) concerning his “BJ” doctrine. Sorry to be crass but that is how Driscoll himself characterizes it. The initials stand for a sexual act.

    I understand where R is coming from and do not think s/he is promoting Driscoll but I want readers here to know what “masculine” and red blooded American male “Christian” means when it comes to Driscoll. And this is only ONE example out of many of his false teaching and twisting scripture:

    Found the links to MacArthur’s repudiation of Driscoll’s Rape of Solomon’s Song. Please add a www. at the beginning. I want to avoid being deleted as spam for too many links

    shepherdsconference.org/pulpit/4168/the_rape_of_solomons_song/

    shepherdsconference.org/pulpit/4169/the_rape_of_solomons_song_part_2/

    shepherdsconference.org/pulpit/4172/the_rape_of_solomons_song_part_3/

    shepherdsconference.org/pulpit/4174/the_rape_of_solomons_song_part_4conclusion/

    The last of MacArthur’s critiques links to a transcript which contains the BJ evangelism bit:

    QUOTE: [In recounting the story about the man who started coming to Driscoll’s church because his wife began performing oral sex:]

    She [the wife] says, “I’ve never performed oral sex on my husband. I’ve refused to.” I said, “You need to go home and tell your husband that you’ve met Jesus and you’ve been studying the Bible, and that you’re convicted of a terrible sin in your life. And then you need to drop his trousers, and you need to serve your husband. And when he asks why, say, ‘Because I’m a repentant woman. God has changed my heart and I’m supposed to be a biblical wife.’” She says, “Really?” I said, “Yeah. First Peter 3 says if your husband is an unbeliever to serve him with deeds of kindness.” [Laughter from audience] How many men would agree, that is a deed of kindness. He doesn’t want tracts. Those won’t do anything. What we’re talking about here could really help.

    Does this really need to be taught in church? As my mom always said, whatever two married people agree to in the privacy of their home is NO one’s business. Driscoll is a sick boy and many young men are being pulled into his sick cult. This is where what passes for Christendom has gone, folks.

  66. Sorry R. I can find many more examples of abherrant teaching by both Piper and Driscoll. I cannot give either one legitimacy as teachers of the Word. I must warn about them.

  67. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/do-you-think-complementarianism-is-so-important-to-some-people-that-they-deny-women-more-opportunities-than-the-bible-denies-them#/listen/full

    Here, Piper only proves that we must have a standardized Christian Talmud in order to implement Comp doctrine. He answers no questions and does not tell us where the lines should be drawn. See, when we get into the details of comp doctrine, it does not hold water.It fast becomes a doctrine of works.

    Which is why all believers must submit to one another as is the overarching principal of Ephesians 5 in verse 21.

    . And why believers must consider others more important than themselves. Not by hierarchy (defined by some as “responsiblity” which women have also to Jesus Christ and their family) but by mutuality. We should focus more on the “one another’s” but instead, we focus on ‘roles” and who is in charge. A very “gentile” position. Focusing on roles only keeps us from focusing on Christ.

  68. “Now, now, do not worry your pretty little head over this whole masculine trait thing. You just need to accept that the Father and Jesus are male figures and there is no need for a role model for females. You are fully covered and functioning under the authority of your pastor to whom ye shall submit for all eternity. See, all is well. Thank you, SBTS, for explaining ESS. Before that I always thought that women actually had equal standing. I was so gullible and easily deceived…”

    LOL! In the meantime, if there is a fire, I would be more capable of carrying Piper out of the building, too. He is tiny! So, I would have to “cover” him in an emergency. :o).

  69. Lydia

    You go, girl. It is time to start calling these “leaders” in their toleration of abuse in the flock. This is a direct result of the patriarchal nonsense. Why? Because how could a patriarch be wrong? If your “head” or “covering” wants to beat you, so be it. But cap it at one night. Now, lets see…. what if its one night this week and 1/2 night in a month?

    I have heard of a local situation in which a pastor type, following his God given patriarchal rights, was whopping his wife. Her family came and got her and the kids out of the environment. Well, big brave church says she must return in order for the church to counsel and help her. Thankfully, her family told her to tell the church “counselors” to drop dead.

    Some churches have gotten so male dominate that they no longer see the needs of women and only focus on the needs of men-like smacking a wife around is one of the needs.

    Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “sin no more.” He did not tell her to go and get beat up but cap it at a night.

  70. Lydia,

    Wow. That’s some really serious stuff Driscoll is preaching. I’ve always wondered why MacArthur isn’t a member of the Gospel Coalition. Perhaps he doesn’t want to be associated with other pastors who preach such rubbish. I don’t think anyone else in TGC would endorse that sort of teaching. But I could be wrong.

    I’m curious though, I’ve heard mixed things about John MacArthur. I’ve not heard much other than what one of my friends would tell me as she used to be a member of his church. What are people’s opinion about MacArthur?

  71. Who can forget the IDIOTIC teaching of Bruce Ware on the topic of wife abuse?

    http://current.com/entertainment/wtf/89109622_women-who-dont-submit-to-husbands-are-to-blame-for-domestic-violence-says-baptist-scholar.htm

    “One reason that men abuse their wives is because women rebel against their husband’s God-given authority, a Southern Baptist scholar said in a Texas church recently.

    Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said women desire to have their own way instead of submitting to their husbands because of sin.”

    Please read the entire article, and take a look at the photo that accompanies it.

  72. Lydia/Deb

    That’s right. You tick off your husband and he gets to knock your teeth out.

    I recently spoke with a woman who claimed that she wasn’t severely abused-just had a few teeth knocked out. Her pastor said she couldn’t leave these disgusting excuse for a husband because he was her authority.

    These pastors/theologians who defend abusers, refused to protect the abused, speak up for those who use child pornography, hide pedophiles on staff or, better yet, can’t believe that pastors could be pedophiles, are stupid and are showing the long range sinful results of patriarchy and the spiritually corrupt belief in anointing/authority. These idiots actually think people are leaving the church because we don’t stand on these principles.Doubt it.

  73. Let me tell you a story of something that happened that really helped me to clarify my understanding of what these pastors are teaching women. (Paige Patterson himself tells a tall tale about counseling a woman to go back to an abuser and pray harder and because she did this he was saved. Patterson is known for his tall tales and his story was a bit “convenient” at the time.)

    What happened was a truly committed believing man (not a pastor or paid professional Christian…just a Christian) told an abused women he was going to speak to her husband. He went to him and told him that as a follower of Christ , he was convicted to take her abuse for her. He welcomed the husband with love to take out his anger on him and spare his wife.

    Of course, this man and his wfie were also sheltering the abused woman and her children. Her husband was a deacon in a church but the couple helping her were not members there.

    This man lived out the truth of following Christ and what it means. Isn’t it a shame that guys like Piper, Patterson, etc are all talk and no action? What if they told all husbands sitting in the room that if they are abusing their wives they want to take the abuse for the wife? That would change the whole dynamic in an abusive marriage where the husband professes Christ but is a bully caught up in his “role” and elevated position as a male.

    Isn’t this what Christ did?

  74. “I’m curious though, I’ve heard mixed things about John MacArthur. I’ve not heard much other than what one of my friends would tell me as she used to be a member of his church. What are people’s opinion about MacArthur?”

    I am not a big fan of McArthur. My point was that the patriarchal McArthur has a huge problem with Driscolls scripture twisting. McArthur recently changed his mind about ESS and now agrees with it. He has all sorts of bizarre teaching about women and roles. I could go on and on but to give you an example, he teaches that Adam was not there when Eve was deceived. This gives Adam a pass and shows that Adam was “seduced” by Eve. Not true.

    He also has made the point that if his wife is asked a doctrinal question by a man, even though she knows the right answer, it is a sin for her to answer it because she would be teaching a man. There is a lot more. Cheryl Schatz has some clips by McArthur on her DVD about women in ministry that she is able to refute in the Greek exegetically. See, these guys are never really questioned up close. Everyone assumes by their position they are always right.

    I guess I can only say that we must stop following humans and study for ourselves. And we must check everything they teach us. It is sad but that it just the way it is.

    McArthur gets a lot right, too but his recent flip flop on ESS is a huge red flag that he gets the big stuff wrong now. It is always a mixed bag with these guys.

  75. Lydia

    MacArthur appears to be doing a Sproul. He is an old guy and he wants to be considered a part of the in crowd. That means, of course, ESS. Frankly, this is all too predictable and boring. “Please, please ask me to speak at your conference. I believe!”

  76. Lydia said:
    “McArthur recently changed his mind about ESS and now agrees with it:”

    Lydia,

    As usual, you keep us on our toes here at TWW! I didn’t realize that after a long career of preaching over 3,000 sermons, John MacArthur has SUDDENLY CHANGED HIS MIND on an important doctrinal position.

    If anyone wants to read MacArthur’s explanation of why he changed his mind, here’s the link:

    http://www.gty.org.uk/Resources/Articles/A235

  77. Yes, it is all too predictable and boring. Which is why we must sound the alarm about following any human teachings and interpretations. Instead they should be teaching every believer to be a Berean.

  78. Most comps are embracing ESS because the exegetical arguments for comp are not working anymore. They sound more and more like the slavers hermenutics of Dabney, etc. ESS is the trump they need to try and prove heirarchy in the Trinity for eternity past and future and map that to believers in the Body and marriage. If you notice the language used: God ordained order.

    But look at what this teaching does to the Lord of Hosts, Jesus Christ for all eternity past and future. Interestingly enough, they all cannot agree on who the Holy Spirit “reports” to in the Trinity.

  79. “You go, girl. It is time to start calling these “leaders” in their toleration of abuse in the flock. This is a direct result of the patriarchal nonsense. Why? Because how could a patriarch be wrong? If your “head” or “covering” wants to beat you, so be it. But cap it at one night. Now, lets see…. what if its one night this week and 1/2 night in a month? ”

    If you analyze their words, what they are actually doing is putting the responsiblity on the wife for the abusers sanctification or salvation.

    But this is actually the opposite of what they say… that the husband is the spiritual leader.

    See the cognitive dissonance in their teaching?

    Another problem is that spouse abuse is against the law in all states. If they believe what scripture teaches about government then they would encourage the wife to call the authorities right away.

  80. When you know the individuals involved, or at least know their friends, it puts a human face on the matter.

    Many years ago I left a church where the pastor told a couple women they would be in sin if they left their physically abusive husband. In one of those cases a brother stepped in and let the pastor know that he would not speak that way toward his sister again. My own parents are divorced for good reason. I find the contemporary American churches views of divorce to be maddening, damaging, and dangerous.

    Piper’s views of divorce are as strict as they come, and his reasoning in support of them is really shabby. However, I do not belive he has no empathy or would ever tell a woman she had to stay in the house with a man who beat her. You are interpreting his words in the worst possible way. People go through moods and phases; it might be worth putting up with some verbal abuse for a while if you believe the person might come out of it. A wife might chose to overlook ONE physical assault. John Piper didn’t say she had to do so, and he put a limit on it, “perhaps one.”

    Ware’s statement is really bad, but likewise I don’t think he is saying women deserve abuse or justifying men who abuse. To an extent, it is even true: being catty with a man who is prone to abuse is asking for it. However, it’s just an unhelpful thing to say. In fact it is hurtful to any one who has suffered abuse, because victims tend to blame themselves. But these guys are often so intellectual and abstract in their thinking they cannot relate to the way real human beings feel. I’m not justifying him, but I am saying that he’s not as sinister as he is portrayed.

    The idea that God the Father has authority over God the Son is not really controversial. The problem is that people on BOTH sides try to attach their views of gender roles onto a secondary or tertiary matter. It’s disrespectful to the Bible to treat it as some kind of weapon to beat opponents with. Certainly there are people at Southern who get right up as close to saying egalitarians are heretics as one can possibly get. In fact, they pretty much do say it and then deny they say it. There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance there, I agree.

    I just see some dots being connected that shouldn’t be.

  81. Last paragraph contains a confusing sentence.

    I mean that BOTH sides try to elevate gender roles (a secondary or tertiary issue) to a primary issue by associating it with cardinal doctrines like the Trinity.

  82. “I mean that BOTH sides try to elevate gender roles (a secondary or tertiary issue) to a primary issue by associating it with cardinal doctrines like the Trinity.”

    You need to explain that one. How do mutualists associate gender roles with the Trinity?

    I am always amused when people tell me I do not understand what a PUBLIC teacher said in public They always say that is not really what they meant and I have to know them personally to understand. My only comment to that is then they should stop striving to be PUBLIC teachers of the Word if they always need friends as interpreters.

    This is even though I have listened to these public teachers for years and what they said matches what they have taught for years.

  83. “Ware’s statement is really bad, but likewise I don’t think he is saying women deserve abuse or justifying men who abuse.”

    Then what is he saying? That there is a good excuse for abuse if the wife is unsubmissive? That abuse is more understandable from a patriarchal point of view?

    Ware is another one that many have told us we simply do not understand and his words must be interpreted for us. Again, why are these men teaching in Public if they must always have interpreters? Over 1000 comments on Burkes blog shows that this is a huge problem with those who are questioned for what they say in public. They are simply not used to it. (Those comments were eventually taken down…,made the male supremists look bad)

  84. R,

    Sorry. I agree with Lydia. There is NO EXCUSE for these public pronouncements made by Piper and Ware. These guys know exactly what they are saying. I have not seen any public retractions of their statements.

  85. “I mean that BOTH sides try to elevate gender roles (a secondary or tertiary issue) to a primary issue by associating it with cardinal doctrines like the Trinity.”

    I just want to add that I think ESS is being embraced for more than gender roles. I think it is being used to affirm human authority positions in the Body and marriage.

    Gender roles is such an oxymoron anyway for believers. How am I to be Christlike since He came as a male? Who is my female model in scripture for female gender roles since Christ, as a male. cannot model specific gender roles for female believers.

  86. “The idea that God the Father has authority over God the Son is not really controversial.”

    Outside the Incarnation? Are you suggesting there is not a united will outside the Incarnation. One very telling passage the ESS folks us is the more recent translation of Phil 2 and how it has been changed in the last 500 or so years. Ironically, Calvin got it right but Ware and others totally twist it. I love what this blogger posted about this totally misused passage to prove ESS. As one who reads Greek…She does her homework:

    http://powerscourt.blogspot.com/2011/01/not-even-all-devils.html

    And why is Messiah referred to as “everlasting Father” in Isaiah?

  87. Dee said, “Today I heard about a talk that Piper gave which appeared to encourage women to stay in a home for at least one night while being abused then they can leave.”

    Dee, if that is true for one cotton picking moment, someone with a baseball bat and a really bad drunken temper needs to go spend a night in a locked room with Piper!!!!!!!!!!!!

  88. Unassimilated mentioned the church planting conference to be held in Glen Mills. That is Covenant Fellowship- the SGM church that was the first SGM (PDI) church to be started in the Philadelphia area (though it’s an hour away). This was the church where Dave Harvey became senior pastor after the two pastors above him had to step out of ministry because, basically, their kids became teenagers and stopped being perfect.

    That’s how Dave Harvey made his rise to senior pastor. The fact that this past year, Dave Harvey’s teen ager got so out of hand that he had to move to Pittsburgh area (5 hours away) to go live with another relative makes me sad as I actually gave a darn about that kid when he was little. The fact that Dave Harvey is still in ministry even though he supported the heave ho of the two men above him because their kids weren’t pefecet yet Dave Harvey is still in ministry makes me sick.

  89. R said, ” Driscoll is in many ways the Fundamentalism the Next Generation, as are many of the Acts 29 guys. It is the same old American folk religion wrapped in a more contemporary face.”

    And with some hair gel, too.

  90. As near as I can tell, the debate about the Trinity and ESS was ratched up by egalitarians. A complementarian, maybe Grudem or Ware, used the Trinity as an example of how their can be authority with equality and without dominance. Some time later egalitarians started accusing complementarians of being Arian. That one is on the egals.

    Since that time, some at the CBMW have tried to one-up the egals and turned the Trinity argument into evidence that gender roles were near to the heart of the Gospel.

    Again, I will say that some of these guys are very wrapped up in their heads, detached somewhat from their emotions and from normal society. They can say something like “women disobeying their husbands can lead to spouse abuse” without being aware of how hurtful that is to a woman who was abused. They’re also unaware of the dynamics of abuse because they’ve spent their lives in Greek books and systematic theologies. They don’t understand people.

    I think it’s necessary to point out the flaws in their reasoning and warn people not to follow all their advice. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to accuse such men of personally not caring about abused women. If Bruce Ware were confronted with an abused woman, I do not believe he would shrug it off and tell her God wanted her to keep taking it. He can’t imagine how his words open the door to abuse because he doesn’t think like abusers and maybe hasn’t been out in the general population enough to know how it goes down.

    I don’t believe that either complementarians or patriarchists, as a whole, condone spouse abuse. However, one of the first thing an abuser does is isolate the victim. Some patriarchal systems are an ideal environment for abusers to operate, and so they move in.

  91. Lydia said, “What happened was a truly committed believing man (not a pastor or paid professional Christian…just a Christian) told an abused women he was going to speak to her husband. He went to him and told him that as a follower of Christ , he was convicted to take her abuse for her. He welcomed the husband with love to take out his anger on him and spare his wife.”

    I’ve had similar thoughts. I figured that instead of letting children be sodomized, pastors should sign up for being put into prisons where the prisoners believe that they were child abusers. Let them stay in the general population wearing a sign that says, “Kiss me.”

    So far no one has signed up for this.

  92. Stunned:

    Piper said a woman who was hit by her husband might tolerate it “maybe one night” before leaving and getting help. He was talking about the bounds of submission and forgiveness. He did not say “at least.”

  93. Deb and Lydia,

    There are people in that camp who give me a creepy vibe. John Piper and Bruce Ware are not among them. I have substantial exposure to Bruce Ware in person and never heard him say anything like this. It’s documented, so I accept that he said it and I agree that it is a hurtful statement that serves to distract from the seriousness of spouse abuse.

    I just don’t believe it’s evidence he condones it or is intentionally creating room for abusive men to operate.

  94. R said, “My own parents are divorced for good reason. I find the contemporary American churches views of divorce to be maddening, damaging, and dangerous.”

    R, thank you so much for saying that.

  95. R, There is a chance we might know each other. Funny how you see Ware so differently. I am also familiar with Clifton and know that even my comp friends at SBTS found it stifling!

    Remember both Ware and Moore are advocating for more Patriarchy instead of comp. Moore says that comps are wimps. Ware is a big advocate of ESS.

    Ware is a public teacher responsible for what he communicates when teaching. You are not the first person who has said, Ware is a nice guy so he cannot possibly mean that it is ok to abuse women.

    But that is not what we are saying. I do not think Ware is advocating spouse absue. I think he was “excusing” it. And btw: did he distinguish as to whether the abuser who was responding to a lack of submission from his wife was a professing Christian or not? Since he did not and was talking to professing believers, we must ascertain that he is actually dismissing abuse as “understandable” because he thinks it was provoked by what he terms a lack of submission. So, who gets to decide what is a lack of submission? The abuser who has been taught he is the spiritual leader?

    As you can see, the problems with his words are wider and deeper and you want to dismiss them altogether with, “I know Ware and he is a nice guy’. Sorry, but he has a platform and what he teaches must be analyzed and critiqued.

    We are also thinking of all the immature spiritually men in the audience who hear his words and hang on every one of them. Ware’s teaching at Denton and a ton of other places makes his position hypocritical if anyone wants to take the time to actually think them through. In one breath, the woman is responsbile for the abuse for being unsubmissive but on the other hand, the man is the spiritual leader. We see the cognitive dissonance in what they teach.

    Ware is also known for saying that praying to Jesus Christ is a waste of time. He is a big proponet of ESS. He had an exchange with Cheryl Schatz a while back on this subject. that made my skin crawl. When he could not make his case from scripture, he blew her off.

    We must be Bereans even when it comes to nice guys. Mohler recently preached a sermon to pastors at a conference where he said that pastors are “God’s appointed agents to save His people from ignorance”.

    Yet, many preach things that benefit them such as ESS, gender roles and tithing in the New Covenant. The more I study with the BEST TEACHER, I find many pastors and leaders are the ignorant ones. Or perhaps they aren’t but that would make them wolves.

  96. maybe one night? Maybe!?!?>!>!

    NO! That is NOT the advice one gives to one being abuse. One says (and ONLY says!), “Get out! Now! Immediately!”

    There is NOT staying for one night. EVER. Get out. In the morning things can be forgiven or worked through or whatever the hell Piper was saying but never, never, never hsould he have ever said that even maybe one person might stick around for one night. EVER!

    Ever.

  97. “Piper said a woman who was hit by her husband might tolerate it “maybe one night” before leaving and getting help. He was talking about the bounds of submission and forgiveness. He did not say “at least.””

    Where is the teaching that any professing believer who hits his wife should be concerned about his salvation? Remember, violence is hate. And Jesus raised the bar…hate is now murder.

    Perhaps he should define “hit” while he is at it. One good hit can kill someone. That one night could mean death. What Piper taught is dangerous and proves his incompetence as a teacher of the Word. Spouse abuse is also illegal in all states.

    Sorry but Ware and Piper are not good guys when they teach such things. I fear for their hard hearts on this matter. The abuser must be told to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Not to be concerned with their wife’s submission.They are not the Holy Spirit for their wife. But I do know that many men are taught that they are the judge of their wife’s submission. Both Piper and Ware make this distinction, too.

  98. “Again, I will say that some of these guys are very wrapped up in their heads, detached somewhat from their emotions and from normal society. They can say something like “women disobeying their husbands can lead to spouse abuse” without being aware of how hurtful that is to a woman who was abused. They’re also unaware of the dynamics of abuse because they’ve spent their lives in Greek books and systematic theologies. They don’t understand people.”

    You are making my arguement for me that these people are not in the real world of most Christians. They live in a bubble and have no business teaching anything but languages. The paid professional Christian class has this problem. the only real world stuff pastors see are what people bring to them. I would love to see Piper, Ware or Moore report to a real job each morning to a woman boss. Or how about a Lesbian woman boss? How would they live out their faith in that environment that so many of us deal in every day? How could Piper, who has taught that women should never instruct men even in the secular workplace, take order from a woman boss? He could not. He would be lost.

    That is why he makes his living off ministry. And another reason why I cannot take these men seriously. I do not think NT scripture makes the case for paid “offices” in the Body. I think it makes the case for giving to missions and to help other believers in trouble. But I think scripture is speaking of “honor”. If it is a wage then how much is single honor worth?

    They have no business teaching us how to live as believers in the world because they do not. They are isolated in their church offices or ivory towers. We make a huge mistake following them or their teaching. Most go from seminary bubble to the church bubble. I call them “kept men”. (Oh, and they have no trouble taking money from women, I have noticed)

  99. I’ll just chip in, that the issue of women and submission, etc… is one major issue that led me to study church history, canonical issues, and the like. The Bible teaches the headship of men and the lesser worth of women, just look at the Old Testament laws about women. Women and slaves are property…..

    There is no “equality” of women until Paul, and even his letters are contradictory on the matter. It is only by inference and some teased out exegesis that one can arrive at a complimentary view from Scripture.

  100. Ok, now I’m going to flip over to the other side for a second.

    I do believe that Bruce Ware is an academic who is somewhat detached from real life. If you’ve ever been in a university or seminary, you know what I mean. It’s a bubble where reality checks are missing. I’m not defending his statement. I am saying he’s not advocating spouse abuse.

    John Piper is a pastor. He was a professor but he switched to being a pastor because he wanted more connection to the ministry. As a pastor, you have all kinds of situations come before you. As black and white as it seems from the outside, domestic violence isn’t as clear to pastors, cops, and others who have to work around it. Sometimes a woman or man loses their temper and shoves the other partner. Is that really grounds for divorce? Do you really question their salvation over that? Do you want to split up a marriage with children over something that could be a one time event?

    Sometimes people lie. Sometimes people provoke reactions. Often when you have a really bad, sustained abuse situation the victim refuses to ask for help. You can ask them but they deny it or hide. What do you do then?

    It’s not that simple. It is not that John Piper thinks women have to take abuse. He said she should leave the second time, maybe the first time.

    The bigger problem in my mind is not his complementarianism but his view of divorce. I would say that if your spouse is wanting group sex, then it’s time for a divorce. For whatever reason, he’s gone with the most rigid possible view of divorce and that puts him in situations where he has to balance what’s impossible to balance.

  101. ““Again, I will say that some of these guys are very wrapped up in their heads, detached somewhat from their emotions and from normal society. ”

    And this is a defense for them?! Sorry, but from what I just read, they sound like terribly repressed, very unhealthy individuals who should have no business advising people on anything, especially issues as complex as abuse.

  102. And I want to point out that under Piper’s view of divorce, a man being abused would also have to stay in the environment. I’ve seen men stay in really bad marriages where they were assaulted, slept around on, bankrupted, etc., because a preacher told them divorce was wrong. This really isn’t a female submission thing. It’s as bad or worse when the victim is a man.

  103. Heck, you know one reason i don’t practice medicine?

    It’s because I have no training in practicing medicine. I KNOW that i would kill people if ever I went near them with a scalpel. You see, I KNOW that I din’t know what the heck I’d be doing.

    Why is it these men think they have any ability to discuss these things at all?

    Talk about the arrogance.

  104. No, Stunned, it is not a defense. I personally left a similiar environment because of what it was doing to my head. I am just saying I don’t believe Bruce Ware or John Piper are justifying spouse abuse or intentially trying to create room for it.

  105. R, I actually like you (I think it was what you said about divorce) but the more you talk about Piper, et al, the more you talk about what they say, the worse you make them sound. Everything i am reading you quote or paraphrase them on is kinda (OK, terribly) horrifying. Are you just sneaking in and trying to make us think we were right along? ;-) If so, thank you, my brother/sister/gender neutral sibling.

  106. OK, I just read your last statement about what you believe their intentions to be. (My comment above was in regard to what you said about Piper telling a man to stay for abuse, too.)

    Thanks for sharing with me your thoughts. You are being more gracious to these men than I am. I don’t think they are intentionally creating abuse. I think they are two men who are extremely ignorant about what they are talking about. (What mental health professional on earth would encourage people to stick around for even a second? No, they need to get out THEN straighten things out later if they see fit.)

    I just wish Christians would see that most seminarians have no business dolling out mental health advice and would tell their preachers to stop doing so immediately.

  107. PS. Sorry for any confusion I may have caused above with my 3:11 statement. I think we were cross posting.

  108. Stunned,

    My interest here is not so much to defend John Piper or Bruce Ware. Although I do know something of both of them, and personally like and appreciate them both though I do not follow either. I am concerned that another person who is wrapped up in this kind of thinking would read this, know that Piper and Ware are not wife beaters, and discount everything else that was said.

    I don’t think that being an abstract thinker means a person is sick or repressed. God made us all differently. There is a place for the emotional person and a place for the intellectual person. Bruce Ware is a systematic theologian. He has done a lot of good in that role. He’s made for that role. Maybe he should stick to that and leave marriage counseling to someone else. He would probably agree.

    One of the problems with the Reformed community, and American evangelicalism in general except for the charismatic movement, is that the mind is worshiped. Some of them seem to honestly believe that God can’t be worshiped if people don’t have all this intellectual knowledge of Him. Reformed Baptist churches can be the most uptight organizations around. They over think everything, and frequently their conclusions are downright silly despite the hours of thought they put into them. Seminary students and many Reformed pastors try to solve with the mind what are matters of the heart.

  109. I will add that I think patriarchist men and pastors are often not the abuser, but the abused. If you’re a crazy woman, the patriarchal dude is a good target. He’ll always blame himself for whatever you do wrong (the man is responsible), he’l make excuses for you (the woman is weaker), and he’ll never, ever divorce you.

  110. I never said that they are repressed because they are an abstract thinker. I am myself. Am an Ivy League graduate who has been invited to study at Cambridge and has spoken on behalf of my school at a world conference and has even been sought out by the dean of one of the science schools (by FAR my weakest subject) at an Ivy and been asked to PLEASE enroll for my master’s. So in no way, shape or form do I believe that intelligence negates one from also being emotionally intelligent.

    YOU said they are removed from their emotions. That would indicate a very unhealthy individual. One who is in no position to lead other humans who by our very nature ARE emotional beings.

    I DO believe that having only one half of yourself in gear is terribly unhealthy and being wrapped up in one’s own mind without having taken the time and hard work (it is very hard work) to explore the depths of ones’ emotional side and to grow it is immature to say the least and frightening in any one who might speak to crowds, either through the written word or spoken.

    And dispensing the advice that both of these men did is grevious and they NEED to repent if they do not 100% believe their words to be true. In the day and age of the internet, this can be done in seconds. Neither of these men, to my knowledge, have posted statements recanting their evil (yes, that advice was EVIL- and you don’t hear me say that too often) advice.

    I agree God has made us all differently. Some of us are able to feel more easily than others while others of us have to do the very hard work of digging through our emotions, processing them, etc. These men have NOT done the work they need to do to be healthy individuals and have zero, zilch business giving advice out to those who are in the prison of abuse. None. They need to repent. Nothing short of that is OK.

    YOU are the one who said that they are more wrapped up in their own head than their heart. I just agreed with you.

  111. R, I suspect that I have not been as gracious to you as you are being to me. I truly do apologize for that. Thank you.

    There have been many things you said that I agree with so I want to respond to those as well.

    “There is a place for the emotional person and a place for the intellectual person.”

    Opps, OK, so this wasn’t one of the things I agree with, but I’ll get to the parts i agree with, but…. There is no place for anyone who is emotional who is removed from one’s intellect just as there is no room for one who lives in their intellect but is not just as fully in their heart. None for either. We would live in an even more messed up world if this existed.

    “Bruce Ware is a systematic theologian. He has done a lot of good in that role. He’s made for that role. Maybe he should stick to that and leave marriage counseling to someone else. He would probably agree.”

    I agree with you 100% that he should stick to that role. I hope Mr. Ware repents publically as his highly irresponsible statement has the potential to leading to great damage in the lives of individuals. Of course, he has also made us Christians look like the jerks we so often are. (I for one can barely hide my jerkdom. As seen above.) Heck, it was the site of an unbeliever who rightly mocked Christians for their sick views toward abused women who printed what Ware said. It is up to Ware to publically recant and do a search (it only takes minutes) for every blog that has discussed what he said and go on there and post a hearty apology. I’d imagine someone with his intellect (limited or great) could figure out how to do that. Same with Piper.

    If they didn’t mean what they said, men who are supposedly as smart as them could have figured out how to do a “take back”. So this still leaves me questioning their character or their intelligence. If you insist their intelligence is in tact…

    OK, so I swear there was a bunch of stuff you said that I agreed with. It’s just that your insinuation that one is either intelligent or emotional was somewhat, well, …. it seemed that you were insinuating that if one is emotional, then they may not be intelligent. Now I may not be the smartest person on earth (guess who just burned some beans while typing the above post) but I sure as heck don’t respect any line of thinking that pits those two gifts against each other as if they were on the opposite ends of a spectrum as I believe millions of people do. (Clearly all very illogical people as the intellect and the emotional world are not on opposite sides in the least and being strong in one does not indicate a lack in the other at all. Social intelligence can sometimes be found in, shall we say, limited quantity in some who are academically gifted but certainly not in all. OK, I went way too long on this one. Back to where I actually do agree with you which i am guessing is in far more areas than it seems.)

    “One of the problems with the Reformed community, and American evangelicalism in general except for the charismatic movement, is that the mind is worshiped.”

    Amen! How sad. Especially since the scriptures say, “And a little child shall lead them.” We are such arrogant puckers.

    “Some of them seem to honestly believe that God can’t be worshiped if people don’t have all this intellectual knowledge of Him.:

    Amen again. How many people who can neither read nor write, nor had even heard that the world was round, have loved God and taught that love to generations?

    “Reformed Baptist churches can be the most uptight organizations around. They over think everything, and frequently their conclusions are downright silly despite the hours of thought they put into them. Seminary students and many Reformed pastors try to solve with the mind what are matters of the heart.”

    Preach it, R! Once again, I think we’re more in agreement about stuff than it seems. And truly in spite of my responses above, I do appreciate what you said about your family and divorce. And in spite of my ‘tude towards most seminarians (every man that is married into my family is a seminarian so I kinda like them personally just not a huge fan of what they do which to me is nearly jack squat except start fights in the faith), I can tell you that God used one theologian to bring great encouragement to me in this very area. If you’re curious and if it would bless you or anyone else, here’s a link. I’d heartily recommend reading through all 31 slides. God used this to bring so much encouragement to me and healing over some of the false things i was taught in regard (s?) to the bible and divorce. I didn’t want to look at it, but after a day or so the Holy Spirit must have gotten to me cause there I was looking at it, reading it and going, “Wow, God knows what He is doing.”

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=418618&id=533841022

    So God bless Dr. David Instone-Brewer and Tyndale House and all the other responsible bible researchers out there!

  112. R said:

    I will add that I think patriarchist men and pastors are often not the abuser, but the abused. If you’re a crazy woman, the patriarchal dude is a good target. He’ll always blame himself for whatever you do wrong (the man is responsible), he’l make excuses for you (the woman is weaker), and he’ll never, ever divorce you

    R, that is so tragic. Man, this whole thing is so whacked! I think that you are right- that the attitude that one individual being “over” another (please forgive me if I am putting words in your mouth and please tell me if i am misunderstanding you) can so often lead to one somehow having more responsibility for the other, as if one is too feeble to be responsible for their own sinful behavior.

    That kind of thinking does no good for either gender.

  113. Stunned/R

    It’s been quite busy this Lord’s day and I just got to read your exchange. Me, I’m no intellectual but have read far above my pay grade. Also, I have practical experience as a public health nurse who saw one too many cases of domestic abuse and received quite a bit of training on the matter.

    First, although there is husband abuse, the statistics show it occurs far less than wife abuse. The reason for this is that abuse is usually from a stronger power to a less strong person. The reason for this is that the abuser is a weenie and has found, either actively or inactively, a relationship in which he is able to dominate and said relationship, because of the passivity of the wife will allow him to abuse. In other words, the abuser has groomed or found the right person to abuse.

    There are usually warning signs that one has an abuser on one’s hands. But, many ignore it-admiring the strength or the manliness of a man’s man. He is just the kind of man these particular comps like.

    Abusers tend to be charismatic individuals and that is why most people have a hard time believing that said person will abuse. They are smart-hiding their abuse by sucker punching the kidney, abdomen,etc.

    Such men are drawn to churches in which women are taught to be submissive. In fact, this sort of theology gives them an excuse for their behavior. The women, are cowed into thinking they are doing something wrong if the man is abusing them. if only they were more…..nice, kind, helpful, etc.

    TWW received a call by a woman who was being abused and was told to stay in the relationship. She said that she had only been punched really hard and that her pastor didn’t think that was too bad. We got her the help she needed to get out. This woman was abused by both her church and her husband.

    John Piper is no fool and my guess is that he has had to intervene in said circumstances. He is a complementarian through and through and he has a problem with men in these situations. According to his paradigm, they are the authority and it is hard to stop the abuse because he has to come down on the man who is supposed to be the patriarch-you know, the covering, the
    anointed one, etc.

    You will all get a chance to watch the video, In my opinion, his strange affect during his response leads me to believe that something is not right with him.

    Finally, men need to know just how strongly women feel about this subject. I, for one, am getting tired of listening to men who show precious little compassion for this subject pontificating like they are some authority. I would like to place Piper. Ware and Patterson in a simulation of what these women go through. i would have these wusses begging for mercy in about 30 minutes.

    Unfortunately, I believe he has bought into the excuse these abusers give-” She refuses to submit, if she did, I wouldn’t have done this.” Except there is no way for anyone to submit as much as these guys want-the demands just escalate.

    I have to admit that it gives me pause when Piper says this stuff. I wonder if there has been abuse in his background so that he is inured to the horrendous aspect of this problem.

    He is, at the least, an extremely insensitive man in regards to this issue and demonstrates extreme naivete at best.

  114. About emotions and emotionless people, etc…

    I see what I think are the same trends, but I find myself chewing on just why things are the way they are.

    First, as I mentioned on another thread elsewhere yesterday, people in the Reformed movement seem to have a desperate need to be seen and to think of themselves as intellectual. I think that a part of it is that so many people like me grew weary of the superficial nature of many churches and a lack of substance. I went Baptist for a short while in 1990, and I expected people to know the Bible and for Sunday School to be fairly advanced. People were spiritually starved and ignorant in many respects.

    For me, Calvinism in theory brings a balance to the name it and claim it stuff and it is good at things that are quite lacking in dispensational churches. But there is much lost, too. Perhaps this craving of intellectualism is a response to the anemia of previous years and larger church trends.

    I also see people that gravitate to reformed theology that tend to be Left Brained thinkers (analytical as opposed to Right Brained folk who are more relationship savvy). It is their natural tendency and personality to be less connected with their feelings, just because of how God put their brain together. (Note that higher testosterone inhibits communication between the Rt and Lt hemispheres of the brain which is why older men get mellow and wiser!)

    It could be true that more Left Hemisphere dominant people tend to gravitate to reformed churches merely because of their personality traits, something which is neither good nor bad. God makes more sense to them when approached from that perspective.

    But then …

    Traumatized people loose integration between the analytical Left side of the Brain and the more experiential and relationship and communication oriented Right side of the brain. In any very threatening situation, your emotions help protect you and respond more quickly to help preserve your life. If you stopped to think and consider in certain situations, you wouldn’t be able to act quickly enough. God built it into us to protect us.

    In PTSD, the cycle of excitement doesn’t stop and triggers can bring up memories of past threat that are relived in the person’s head, long after the event has passed. When this happens, people learn to avoid their emotions because they are too threatening. As a coping mechanism, they will shift over into what seems to them like thoughtfulness and intellectualism, because they don’t feel threatened. (They only think that they’re emotionless or gloriously analytical only, but they don’t realize that their avoidance actually communicates to others as very emotional.)

    There are many traumatized people in some of these churches. This past week, I corresponded with someone regarding a new commentary on something, and the reviewer never really read the material. The work contained a trigger word in complementarian circles, and they were so flipped out that I don’t think that they were even capable of reading beyond the trigger words which were seen by them as pejorative.

    I’ve had plenty of encounters with professed reformed folks who behave like wounded wild animals by way of their easily offended natures. I have not encountered this in any other kind of venue except when racism is discussed.

    People are also just generally angry. Look at Mark Driscoll and that NYTimes article a couple of years ago. I’ve spoken to many therapists, and anger and rage is now a problem, when 20 years ago it was not something someone needed to manage or sought therapy to fix. The zeitgeist is different.

    So is it just a perfect storm?

    There is also the general shift from the idea of ministry and sharing the gospel and love

    into

    the church which seems to exist to keep itself pure and holy, so they will hose you down with straight clorox to keep you clean, burning you from head to toe. The church now exists to exact discipline as opposed to minister. Perhaps it is a dying’ way’s attempt to survive.

    I don’t know that it’s just one thing that is a direct cause. I see it as a perfect storm.

  115. Lydia

    Check you email.

    i actually think something seems a bit “off” in Piper’s response. There is more to this story than a simple, inadequate response. It seems as if he is trying way too hard to downplay something that is indefensible. My guess is that he has had some personal contact with this issue and is very, very uncomfortable dealing with it.

  116. R
    The moment a man hits a woman, he has crossed the line and will likely go on to further abuse. In fact, the first “reported” hit is usually not the first one. Abuse has been happening for a while in that home. The church has done a terrible job in this area. Piper’s comment is naive, wrong, stupid, uncompassionate and seriously lacking in understanding. I, for one, am tired of these supposed “expert” pastors pontificating on subjects in which they have no training. It is just a bunch of old men sitting around and passing tidbits back and forth to each other instead of doing real research on this subject. There is no excuse. It’s called google.

    It is akin to a pastor saying to pray away the cancer and you will be healed. Piper is outright wrong in this instance and he should apologize for shooting off his mouth without some statistics to back him up and without consulting an expert in treating those who are abused.These guys hate abuse-it rattles their carefully guarded paradigms.

  117. Cindy K, I don’t know who you are, but if one of us were a man, I’d ask you to marry me!

    Your post was EXCELLENT! How exciting to have someone in a conversation that involves God and the brain!!!!! It just doesn’t happen enough. There is so much ignorance about the subject, so little we know compared to so much of what is “in there”. Share about this funny circuit board we have, any time.

  118. While I won’t go as far as Stunned (in being swept off her feet by Cindy K’s post), I find the argument about left brain/right brain very interesting.

    I had to stop reading some popular Reformed blogs a few years ago, because many of the commenters seemed to get enraged about any Christian viewpoint that was not as “Reformed” as their own – Emerging Church in particular. I made a comment to one blog’s slash-and-burn post about a Brian McLaren book – asking if they were really being fair to his thinking – and had my head handed to me on a platter.

  119. “I do believe that Bruce Ware is an academic who is somewhat detached from real life. If you’ve ever been in a university or seminary, you know what I mean. It’s a bubble where reality checks are missing. I’m not defending his statement. I am saying he’s not advocating spouse abuse.

    I will try again. I did not say he was “advocating” abuse. I said he was “excusing” the abuse based upon a wife’s lack of submission triggering it. In other words, it is understandable because she “triggered” the abuse with her lack of submission.

    This “parsing” is really the same thing who uses this teaching to decide what is submission and what isn’t.

  120. Again, I ask…were Ware or Piper speaking of “professing believers” who abuse their spouse for lack of submission. They do not make that distinction and it is an important one.

  121. “Sometimes people lie. Sometimes people provoke reactions. Often when you have a really bad, sustained abuse situation the victim refuses to ask for help. You can ask them but they deny it or hide. What do you do then?”

    As believers we start with what we are teaching people about hierarchy in marriage.One of the biggest problems we had in the abuse shelter where I volunteered were the pastors who came to talk the women into going back and submitting to their husband’s leadership. They would claim he was “real sorry”.

    We start with us. And we start with the total twisting of scripture that makes a female adult believer under the yoke of an earthly mediator between her and Christ. In the best marriages, both are under the leadership of Jesus Christ with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Not a depraved human saved by the same exact grace.

  122. “People are also just generally angry. Look at Mark Driscoll and that NYTimes article a couple of years ago. I’ve spoken to many therapists, and anger and rage is now a problem, when 20 years ago it was not something someone needed to manage or sought therapy to fix. The zeitgeist is different.”

    I read a comment on another blog where a gentleman told us his very old pastor was very concerned with the general “meanness” being displayed by so many pastors now.

    This struck me because reading blogs over the last 8 years has really brought this home to me. I have read many pastor oriented blogs including years ago, pastors.com (which the bad stuff is now passcode protected) and being astonished these were pastors not only strategizing how to get rid of folks but the very depravity of their words! Wolves! And those were the seeker pastors! The arrogance and meanness was unbelievable. From the blog posts to the comments pastors are displaying an attitude that is not what they display on stage. We are seeing the other side and it is not irenic. I have come to the conclusion that much we see on stage is performing to the audience.

  123. “I will add that I think patriarchist men and pastors are often not the abuser, but the abused. If you’re a crazy woman, the patriarchal dude is a good target. He’ll always blame himself for whatever you do wrong (the man is responsible), he’l make excuses for you (the woman is weaker), and he’ll never, ever divorce you.”

    Huh?

    In fact, if you read these guys close they ALWAYS blame the woman and the abuser picks up on that. She is unsubmissive. She is easily deceived. She is rebellious. She is emotional. She is never to teach you…….ad nauseum.

    In fact, they SAY the man is responsible for in the next breath they tell the women she must submit so he can be the leader. If she does not submit and help him, he cannot be successful. They actually put the responsiblity for the man’s success on her.

    As I said earlier, the entire comp doctrine is cognitive dissonance.

  124. “The moment a man hits a woman, he has crossed the line and will likely go on to further abuse. In fact, the first “reported” hit is usually not the first one. ”

    Something interesting to ponder. Would he hit his boss if his boss mad him angry enough? A few do. But most don’t. For some reason they restrain themselves at work but not a home. Why?

  125. “Would he hit his boss if his boss mad him angry enough? A few do. But most don’t. For some reason they restrain themselves at work but not a home. Why?”

    Lydia,

    That’s a very good point! The physical abuse takes place in a private place, where there are no witnesses (except perhaps children). Husbands who abuse their wives are cowards.

  126. BTW: cheryl makes a good point about Piper’s response to a husband who wants his wife to have group sex and how she can STILL submit to him without sinning!

    HUH? Are we to assume the guy is saved? She is to submit to a depraved monster?

    these guys are sicko…they are so immersed in this authority teaching and being on top, the miss the elephant in the room.

  127. Lydia,

    I’ll be writing a post later in the week on Piper’s ridiculous pastoral advice. Thanks for bringing up the ABSOLUTELY BIZARRE group sex remark by Piper. Perhaps he’s been hanging out with Mark Driscoll too much.

  128. It’s interesting that Piper seems to be more concerned about sin (which was covered on the cross) than about whether she is abused or not.

    No, Piper, the proper response is not your suggestion of a woman playing doormat. Speaking to a male friend (who I may some day marry) about what you said, he and I both agreed that the proper and healthy response to a husband pressuring his wife to sin would be, “Boy, what is your problem? You need some help and you need it now.” No man who is trying to pressure his wife into group sex should be treated with defference. Then again, no grown adult should ever treat anyone else with defference. Dude, we are all equals. I know you don’t get it. Possibly that is why you needed time to go work on your marriage- kinda crushes a woman’s soul if she is treated as lower and there is no way she is going to be happy long term like that. No way.

    Sorry, I just still can’t believe some good man hasn’t shown up at Piper’s front door with a bat to discuss the whole, “Maybe stay for a night of abuse” thing. Heck, who needs a man, I’m half tempted to go myself.

  129. I said, “It’s interesting that Piper seems to be more concerned about sin (which was covered on the cross) than about whether she is abused or not.”

    PS. Psst, Piper, I think you’ve been hanging out with CJ Mahaney a little bit too much. SGM is another place where they care more about pointing out your sin of leaving an abusive spouse than they do for protecting you and your kids FROm the abuse. If you’re a smart man (which some claim) then you need to pick better friends and associates, cause boy, you are being tainted and it’s getting pretty ugly.

  130. When I clicked on the link to Piper’s supposed laughing during his talk about abuse, it was not there. I mean, it took me to his website, but the video is not there. Does anyone know if it is still on his website and possibly the link is broken or if the video has been removed? If it is still there, please post a link to it for me so I can watch it myself. I have a difficult time believing anyone could even smile while discussing such a thing so I don’t want to believe he or anyone would.

  131. If Driscoll were standing up for every abused wife then that would make sense. But as the mother of a son who got pretty good at reading body language and male totem pole like power, that shot of Driscoll and Piper is like looking at a lion/dog making it very clear that he IS the top dog. Dang, what a bully.

    Look at Piper’s body, pulling away and feeling uncomfortable, with Driscoll’s being very dominant. Ah, these two men would be a body language expert’s field day.

    OK, so is this all just my imagination? I just showed that photo to someone who had absolutely no idea who those two mean are in the photo. I asked for a read of the photo.

    First thing: guy on the right is a bully. A practiced bully. The guy on the left is cowering. Right shoulder down, left shoulder up. Scared. Etc, etc. OK, I just needed to make sure it wasn’t me reading into it.

  132. He took the clip off the DG website back in 2009 after all the analyzing going on Christian blogs. Is the one on youtube the whole clip that was on his sife? I saw the original on his site back then but cannot remember if the one on youtube is the whole clip or not. It does not seem to be since the youtube clip is only 3.58 minutes long.

    The problem with these videos is that people copy them and post them all over so taking it off your site does not always protect you from yourself.

    As to the Driscoll pic…perhaps he was going “old Testament” on Piper. That is one of Driscolls favorite sayings about getting violent.

  133. In one of Driscoll’s sermons series he claims that while Grace (his wife) was in college, he went there and knocked on every guys room in the dorm and told them to stay away from her or else. He is proud of that.

    What does that sound like to you all?

  134. Lydia

    If Driscoll did such a thing, knocking on doors and telling guys to stay away from his girlfriend, then he is at high risk for becoming or being an abuser. This sort of threatening other guys for perceived or potential threat, is one of the signs that one is dealing with an abuser. I wonder if he gave his girlfriend the third degree as to whether guys were calling her or if she was calling other guys, This is MAJOR and I wonder if Driscoll has ever been evaluated mentally.

  135. I agree with your assessement. It is a sign. However, what bothers me even more are the thousands and thousands of young minds full of mush who hang on Driscoll’s every word and think this behavior is godly or even normal.

    And we must not forget that Piper gave Driscoll a stage at the DG conference where he promised not to be vulgar. he repents…then does it again…then repents…does it again….ad nauseum.

    And let us not forget Driscoll on his blog (He has since taken it down) when Ted Haggard was outed. Driscoll, ignoring this was homosexual sin, took pastors wives to task for ‘letting themselves go” and thereby tempting their pastor husbands to stray. (More blame the woman). The outcry to that blog post was huge and he took it down. My guess it might have hurt his pocketbook.

    But I could only feel for Grace. Can you imagine if that poor woman has to have a masectomy? What if she is in a disfiguring accident? How horrible to have your husband say such things as a public teacher of the Word. He is a very shallow man who is a bully.

    Oh and he also said in another sermon he filters her emails because the women in the church are gossips and he does not want Grace reading their emails.

  136. Driscoll held a coup at Mars Hill and changed the by laws and got rid of several leaders. Now Driscoll holds the power.

    This is happening more than people think.

  137. Lydia

    I have heard another, it may be Patterson but I am not sure, who thinks a woman who is married to a nonChristian and is being abused, should stay in the marriage and kneel beside their bed and pray for God’s protection. It is felt that, one day, after the abuser has beat his wife to a pulp,that he may understand God’s grace and repent. I swear these guys are nuts.

  138. Lydia

    Let me amend this-I swear these guys are nuts and one has to wonder if they are abusers or have abusers in their family history and they are being “protective.”

  139. Oh yeah, a “real” man stands back and let’s another man harm one hair on a woman’s head. I’m 5’4″ and not particularly big, but they’d have to kill me first before I ever let that happen to a woman, child or a man bigger than me.

    It isn’t the women emasculating the men. It is the men themselves with the scalpel in their own hands if they are not going to stand against this evil.

    Grace on them (cause they have enough shame coming their way.)

  140. Stunned,

    I can only imagine how Almighty God views so-called Christian men who will not come to the defense of an abused wife. May He have mercy on them!!!

  141. “I have heard another, it may be Patterson but I am not sure, who thinks a woman who is married to a nonChristian and is being abused, should stay in the marriage and kneel beside their bed and pray for God’s protection. It is felt that, one day, after the abuser has beat his wife to a pulp,that he may understand God’s grace and repent. I swear these guys are nuts.”

    yeah, it was Patterson and Ben Cole had an audio on his blog of him saying it which is now gone. It was one of his “tall tales”. He claimed the guy got saved.

    How much more effective would it have been for him to go home with the wife and tell the husband to hit him instead like my friend did for the abused spouse? Like Jesus did for us?

    But then, then the story is most likely not true. Patterson has a history for tall tales.

    And don’t forget he told the victims of Darryl Gilyard they needed 3 witnesses to his sexual molestation before he would listen to them. That is the kind of guy Patterson is. Who needs enemies when women in the SBC have guys like him teaching and leading?

  142. Lydia said:
    yeah, it was Patterson and Ben Cole had an audio on his blog of him saying it which is now gone

    I once found it on the way back machine ON AUDIO, but I don’t think I kept a link.

  143. I find Driscoll and Piper to be extremely disturbing, and honestly think Driscoll has some serious psychological problems.

    there are a few blogs focused on abuses at Driscoll’s church, but I think a lot of people are afraid to comment…

  144. numo said:
    “there are a few blogs focused on abuses at Driscoll’s church, but I think a lot of people are afraid to comment…”

    If those in his church spoke out, he’d “bust their nose” or fire them. What a great role model for future pastors…

  145. ““I have a heard another, it may be Patterson but I am not sure, who thinks a woman who is married to a nonChristian and is being abused, should stay in the marriage and kneel beside their bed and pray for God’s protection.”

    God gave them protection. It is called two legs and 911. Why do we teach people that it is only God when it’s an illogical miracle?

  146. @ Deb: I’ve heard rumors about some of the things that have happened to people who tried to stand up to him…

  147. Lydia

    Once again, filtering your wife’s emails is a symptom of a potential abuser. I am fearful for the health of his wife if he is doing this. Why don’t these men around him realize that this stuff is not normal?

  148. So HE is a big boy and can handle reading gossip but she is a small child and cannot? That is sick.

  149. PS. Yes, threatening off other men IS a typical behavior of controlling, abusive men. Just the thing my abusive ex did.

  150. @Stunned ~ You’re too kind (I think)! ;)

    A good book to start with is Henslin’s “This is Your Brain on Joy”
    http://www.amazon.com/This-Your-Brain-Joy-Revolutionary/dp/078522873X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298346877&sr=1-1

    There is great tension in the Evangelical world about what the brain is exactly and what is Spiritual teaching learned and processed by the brain which feeds the spirit. And spiritual change comes from within and works as we work to transform our minds. Some people find the idea of the mind in terms of how the brain can be limited to be intimidating.

    One of the first great studies in brain function came about when a man named Phineas Gage was working on the railroad laying rails. Dynamite went off and sent a railroad spike through the prefrontal cortex of his brain. He recovered, was functional, but his higher reasoning in terms of decision making and his ability to discern what was appropriate social behavior. He could do his job well and remembered everything, but that trauma wiped out his better discernment ability, very important to moral behavior. He lost his job and had barely any self-control. His family suffered, and it was a mess.

    Did Phineas Gage turn into a vile sinner and suffer spiritual problems, or did he have something wrong with his brain? If we admit that he had a brain injury that affected his behavior, are we saying that human beings are animals or that the Spirit is not powerful dunamas itself? Stroke patients often loose motor and speech ability, but those things aren’t seen as something related to spiritual maturity.

    Henslin’s book as noted above is a good starting place for understanding how our brain (our nutrition and our self care, even) affect us. It’s a lovely and balanced view of behavior from a Christian perspective — and it’s published by:

    Drum roll please: THOMAS NELSON.

    A good place to start. If you want to hear me talk for hours about the subject after that, hunt me up!

    Thank you again for your kindness. I appreciate it. (Barb Orolowski can appreciate it too!)

  151. @ Deb: I can get the blog URLs for you, yes… here’s one of them: http://freedom4captives.wordpress.com/ – it hasn’t been updated since 2009, but I’m glad the writer is keeping the blog up, because it’s good. Will round up the other URL as soon as I’m able.

    The rest (rumors, or perhaps facts) are things I wouldn’t feel OK discussing, since the information was given to me in confidence.

    I have to say that I keep waiting for certain names to turn up in the news, either in political and/or political-religious scandals and/or relating to cultic religious groups. Might be just a matter of time..

  152. numo,

    Thanks for the link on Mark Driscoll. I have already looked through the website and will be reading it very throroughly when I have some free time.

    In case you haven’t read my take on Driscoll, here’s what I had to say about him when he came to my daughter’s college two years ago and spoke at a large college ministry event:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2009/04/23/driscolls-sex-tips-and-the-tipping-point/

    Driscoll defenders would likely say that my words are “uncharitable” and the I should “believe the best” about Mark; however, I am still MAD about it!

  153. Cindy, Love the wayback machine!

    numo,

    Freedom4captives is a blog by a former member or attendee of Mars Hill. I conversed with this person for a while. This person saw the need to publisize what they saw there. I know they have moved on but I am glad it is still up.

    Yes, many are afraid of Driscoll. He is ruthless. How he treated the other leaders he forced out was a big shock. And instructive: They tried to be Christlike about the whole thing. And by doing this, they only gave Driscoll all the support he needed. Guys like Driscoll see true Christlikeness as wimpy and run right over it.

    So, the evil guy wins because Driscoll followers see Christ through Driscoll’s eyes. As Driscoll has described our Lord as a red neck from the wrong end of town. Some of his descriptions of Jesus Christ are insidious and blasphemous. Isn’t it amazing how many seminary trained pastors cannot see that?

  154. @ Deb: yeah… I’m all too familiar with Driscoll’s crassness about sex as well as his weird focus on proving his own masculinity. I think his comments about Jesus (not being able to follow a Jesus that he could beat up, for example) are just .way out there.

    That kind of thinking/speech, combined with the way Mars Hill squelches women + the way they broadcast Mark’s sermons on big screens in their satellite churches make me think he’s running a cult, not a real church.

    But I’d better not get started on my Driscoll rant… ; -)

  155. Numo,

    Unfortunately, I just don’t feel the Christian love when I think of Mark Driscoll.

    “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    (John 13:35 ESV)

  156. I am a young woman who once totally idolized the Driscoll, Cj, Piper packaged Christianity. Having come from an abusive childhood, I longed for that model of strong male protectiveness that is so often preached. Having had a poor example of an earthly father I thought this was the best way to understand a heavenly Father who could be strong and loving.

    I say this to really express my great disappointment and disgust at the way I see many in the church just ignoring these false teaching regarding women being subject to either anal sex per Driscoll or abuse per Piper or spirtual abuse per Cj…for what I perceive as greater glory for themselves and more money.

    I am a relatively new believer who was saved in one of their churches and once appreciated the candor of ‘modern’ pastor who spoke unabashedly of subjects that had been discussed w/o shame in schools or the MTV culture that many who did not grow up ‘christian’ are continually exposed to. I wish the real guardians of the faith would stand up and call these men out like Paul once did with Peter. Where is the outrage? Why should future generations of Christian young women have to choose between sicko men who believe that their bodies can be ‘used’ however a man wants but we’re ready to march to the Capitol because that same practice is forbidden between two men (Mark Driscoll, Will you teach this to your daughters?).

    At this point I don’t know where to turn. As a believer I don’t belong to the church that would process these abuses but I don’t feel the liturgical churches that are supposed to be more sound.

  157. I watched the Piper video. I do not see a problem in either what he presents or how he presents it. Those situations are difficult and difficult to navigate as Christians when there are seemingly conflicting principles of submission to a husband and submission to Christ and self protection. All in all, Piper has a good understanding of how to handle abusive situations. It is far better than the way these situations were handled by Sovereign Grace in recent years. In fact if Piper had overseen the situation in the Chesapeake Sovereign Grace church a few years ago, the wife would have been protected and the husband would have been disciplined.

    But if you are throwing out Piper and anyone else just because they are complementarian, then I think you are being a bit too hasty in your judgement.

  158. Looking Elsewhere,

    I guess it was the chuckle that some of our female commenters took offense to, including yours truly. Did that not bother you?

    Just out of curiosity… what is your gender?

  159. Looking Elsewhere, I do not give a rip who is comp or egal or whatever. There is NOTHING OK with telling a woman to stay maybe (or def) for a night once abuse has occured. Not one expert in spousal abuse would recommend or suggest such a thing. It is terribly unhealthy to leave the abused in the hosue with an abuser until (at the very least) things are worked out. I don’t know your experience in studying or experiencing abuse, but quite often after the abuse is over the abuser will spend the night twisting the abused ones thoughts- reframing truth and reality so that by morning the absued thinks that it was somehow their fault that they experienced the cruelty.

    NO, Piper was hyper irresponsible in suggesting such a thing. Abuse is a very complex issue but there a few very wise and fast and hard rules. Telling a spouse (man or woman) that staying during the night of abuse is never OK. It is foolish at best and dangerous. This has nothing to do with submission. Get out and go to counseling and the couple can work out things the next day, but a spouse should never, never, never stick around for a night of abuse.

    I don’t care WHO gave that foolish advice. They need to publically recant of the advice that will cause more harm than they in their inexperienced, ignorant brains can imagine.

    So unless you have more or better research than the experts who have spent decades dealing with this issue, please go ahead and share it.

    PS. I haven’t any idea of whether Piper would do a better job in that church than SGM did, but I figure he couldn’t have done worse.

    And yes, I am angry when ANYONE suggests that a person being abuse might stay for the night of abuse.

  160. “I wish the real guardians of the faith would stand up and call these men out like Paul once did with Peter.”

    Or like Paul called out the Judaizers saying he wished they would emasculate themselves.

  161. Looking for Heaven, welcome. Your words are so eloquent, while at the same time expressing such sorrow and pain. I am sorry you have suffered what you have, both in your childhood and in your church. The church is to be a refuge, a hospital for the sick and broken and ill. I am so sad to know you experienced it as a place of more pain and a place to experience more twisted thoughts about who God is. I wish you had found believers who want to offer God’s love to you, God’s care, God’s gentle and tender nature. His strength and faithfulness. He loves you more than you can imagine.

    He is enraged for what you suffered. He lets you feel when you feel the anger. He lets us experience when we are sick to our stomachs over the harm that is being done by these supposed ministers of the good news. We can hear it in the voice of the people who scream out, “No more! That’s enough! Stop!” We can see it in the faces of the protesters in the middle east who have spent decades fighting for a voice. We can see it in the man who stood before a tank in Tiamen Square, who wouldn’t let the tank advance without crushing his body. We feel God’s outrage and anger and wrath when we want to vomit over what has happened, when we shake over the pain that has gone on to us and to other. We sense His spirit grieved over these sins. And we watch the church, the very people we thought we could trust, rise up and tell us to sit down, that we are overacting, that we are wicked, that we have no idea what Godly rage is, that we can’t experience because we are clay vessels. And we are mere clay vessels. Clay vessels that the most Holy creator has chosen to dwell in. It’s amazing. This great big God, coming to live in this weak little being.

    He loves you so. Thank you for letting Him love you. He would miss you so terribly if you rejected Him just because us humans are such jerks to one another. I’ll be praying for you today. He really loves you so much.

  162. “In fact if Piper had overseen the situation in the Chesapeake Sovereign Grace church a few years ago, the wife would have been protected and the husband would have been disciplined.”

    Piper, by his own words, proves he does not have a clue how to properly handle any abusive situation. His lack of discernment and wisdom is by his own words as a public teacher on this issue. You are making assumptions that Piper’s own words, negate. I can understand you like Piper and want to believe otherwise.

  163. Looking Elsewhere

    Piper is speaking of something that he has little training in. In fact, I am very concerned about the number of pastors who think they are experts in all fields related to humans as well as God.

    When a pedophile who gets caught, the incident involved is not the first. The average pedophile has molested over 120 times prior to the first arrest.

    A women who is being knocked around for “one night” has probably been knocked around and abused in other ways for much, much longer. By the time pastors hear about it, it has gone on for a long, long time.

    Piper shows naivete on this subject. But what is most concerning to me is that he doesn’t know that he is naive. Because he is one of the “it” pastors, his words are eaten up by scads of earnest pastors who think this man speaks the inerrant word of god with every vowel he utters.

    Piper’s giggling is offensive. Far too many women have been seriously harmed or even killed at the hands of abusers. I wonder-would Piper giggle at Jesus dying on the Cross or giggle during communion? I wonder if he would giggle if someone kicked his dog.

    I don’t care if someone is comp or egal so long as they do not pretend they know something they don’t. BTW while we are on that subject I want to say something.No matter what perspective you take, the going term should be RESPECT. And from what I can tell, these men(Piper is not the only one) show precious little respect for the let down in the church.

  164. “would Piper giggle at Jesus dying on the Cross…”

    Piper described Jesus’ cries from the cross as the “Scream of the Damned”.

    The more I learn about Piper the more disturbed I am becoming.

  165. Longing for Heaven,

    I was so touched by your comment. Would you ever consider writing a guest post describing your feelings toward macho pastors? I think it would be extremely therapeutic for you, just as my article on Driscoll’s Sex Tips was to me.

    I am still terribly disturbed by what Driscoll said in the presence of my precious daughter. Sometimes I wish I had gone to that “Naked and Unashamed” presentation. I would likely have made a scene by confronting Driscoll… I’m glad I documented my outrage and made it available in the blogosphere for those like you who are utterly disgusted with Driscoll, Mahaney, and Piper. Personally, I’m not putting up with this good ole boy network any more.

    If you ever decide to write about your concerns, you can e-mail me at this address – deb@thewartburgwatch.com

  166. @ Deb: Re. your post on Driscoll, I actually think that one of the main things he’s trying to do is appeal to a generation of young guys who have grown up with the internet… and the p.o.r.n that is easily available as a result. (The straight kind, mainly.)

    To my ears, his MANY sermons that mention oral and anal sex are “about” that – telling guys that they can do anything they want, even as Christians.

    I do know (from correspondence with someone out in the Seattle area) that his incessant repetition of these subjects has been damaging to women who have experienced sexual abuse. It’s as if Driscoll is handing abusive practices to these guys on a platter (as you said in your post).

    I also really think that Driscoll’s insistence on hypermasculinity might be about more than just “compensating.” (As Stunned mentioned.) I know for certain that there are more than a few gay Christians who think so. (Hope that’s not an upsetting reference for you folks; I’ve been spending a lot of time talking with gay Christians over the past couple of years and man – the stories of church abuse that the people I know have experienced are among the worst I have ever heard….really vile.)

    Like you, I see and hear only anger and a kind of meanness (in Driscoll) that seems pervasive today – and it’s all coming from men. I don’t think any of it is excusable (in fact, it makes me feel both angry and sick to my stomach), but I do believe that there’s more to it than just mean guys in the church. Society as a whole seems much more tolerant – even accepting – of mean, bullying, verbally abusive behavior than it was 20-30 years ago. I think the misuse of internet communication is one of the reasons behind that, though not the only one. (Man, was the web awful until recently – until it became more user-friendly for “normal” people of both sexes!!!)

    But the “meanness” issue is a whole other (though certainly related) topic. I can tell you that I have experienced it personally in attempts to communicate with supposed Christians on issues that have little/nothing to do with anything controversial. It’s as if a whole generation (and a half) is steeped in thinking abusive words and meanness are OK – and it’s got little to do with lack of facial expressions, tone of voice (etc.) in text-only communication.

  167. Edited to add: I misstated something in my last post, re. anger “all coming from men.”

    What I meant was: it’s primarily coming from men who have visible positions as “Christian” pastors/leaders. I don’t want to sound like I think men are all evil/mean – far from it!

    But… the ugliness and rage that seems so pervasive today seems (to me) to get expressed by men a lot more than it is expressed by women – though I definitely have encountered some very angry women on the web. However, that seems relatively rare, given the way most (if not all) women are raised to try to smooth things over, etc. (The other half of this, of course, is that any woman who is assertive is almost automatically labeled as “aggressive” – on the web and face to face…)

    Either way, there’s a double standard being perpetuated by Piper, Driscoll and many others that I think is partly intended to keep women from speaking out (men, too, but…).

  168. numo,

    I agree with what you have shared. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this today.

    Husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Having said that, what a married couple does behind closed doors is no one else’s business, but when a husband expects a wife to perform sex acts that she’s not comfortable with, that is NOT loving her as Christ loves the church.

    Where are the pastors who are modeling this kind of agape love that Jesus demonstrated?

    We need to continue having this frank discussion for the benefit of young Christian women whom I fear are being forced our of their comfort zone even in the bonds of holy matrimony.

  169. Deb: Yes, mutually agreed-upon stuff is one thing; women (or men) feeling forced to do things they are uncomfortable with is another thing entirely.

    I’ve seen a YouTube clip of Driscoll’s bragging (I think) about telling the woman whose husband was not a Christian to “serve” him. He actually said “Christ commands it!” to her – or at least, in that particular clip, he made that claim. (He was in Scotland at the time, iirc…)

    Part of Driscoll’s shtick is (supposedly) being “relevant” – so, the tattoos, the Guy from the Wrong Side of the Tracks look, the cursing, the “edgy” talk (lots of crass talk about sex as well as the tough guy who’d punch out someone’s lights demeanor). People who defend him claim that Seattle was an “unchurched” city prior to his establishment of Mars Hill.

    I think that’s complete hooey. “Unchurched” seems to equal “not going to the Right Kind of Church” (in other words, Driscoll’s) to the people who keep using this as a defense. (On a personal note, I used to be in fairly close touch with a number of Christians in the Seattle area via our common involvement in L’Abri back in the 70s… it’s not as if the place was a spiritual desert prior to Driscoll, nor is it now if you look to other kinds of churches there…)

    I dunno. There are a lot of things going on in churches all over the country the scare me. Thanks again to you and Dee for this blog, and for allowing so many of us to have a voice!

  170. numo,

    Praise God there are other Christian women in the blogosphere speaking out against sexpert Mark Driscoll and his ilk.

    http://apprising.org/2009/01/14/evangelical-leaders-leave-women-to-fight-the-battles/

    “There are ‘mothers in Israel’ who are rising up to confront Mark Driscoll and his filthy mouth and materials. Why? Because the men in spiritual leadership today not only refuse to, but legitimize and endorse Driscoll’s “ministry”. If you wonder why there was a need for a Prophetess Deborah in the Old Testament, look to the times that produced her. Women only come to leadership when men abandon their biblical headship.

    But when it comes to threats to little ones, both literally and spiritually, the women will rise up to the job if men refuse. What Mark Driscoll is doing with his degrading sex columns and videos that are all over the Internet is causing harm to ourselves and our children. I received this email this morning from a spiritual “little one”… Because Driscoll is causing harm, I and Cathy Mickels and Deborah Dombrowski and any other women who would like to join us, are speaking out.”

    Let’s add our voices to theirs and make A LOT OF NOISE!!!

  171. Let’s add our voices to theirs and make A LOT OF NOISE!!!

    Amen to that, Deb!!!

    I’m fascinated to see how people from all over the spectrum (re. comp., egal, etc.) are reacting to Driscoll’s rants. Conclusion: a lot of women are very riled up, and with good reason!

    But I think the sex stuff is only one part of it… and maybe not the most important part, either.

    A day or so ago, there was a comment here about Driscoll’s blog post on women “letting themselves go.” I saw that soon after it was posted, and he also had something there re. women PROPOSITIONING him AT CHURCH – putting notes in his pockets (how’d they manage to do that?!!), etc. I found that part of the post to be FAR more upsetting – and revealing of what I think are some pretty serious psychological problems – than the mean-spirited comment that drew so much attention (“letting themselves go”).

    That part – about the women throwing themselves at him – disappeared pretty quickly.

    I should add that that was the 1st time I’d read anything Driscoll wrote (I’d only just heard of him) and I could not believe that anyone in their right mind would listen to him, let alone that he’d gotten to be the object of such adulation.

    (I felt like I needed to clean out my mind after reading his blog post.)

    He had something on either his Facebook page or Twitter feed a few months back about his wearing a v-neck shirt and getting hit on by a gay man – ??!!??!! (The words I’d like to use re. this and other things he’s said are words you would likely have to censor, so I won’t go there, but … I bet it’s not difficult to guess.)

    On the anger/nastiness thing, there’s a good book that was published back in 1999 titled The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words that might interest you. It’s by Georgetown U.’s Deborah Tannen, whom I respect very much (though I don’t always agree with her). She tracked changes in the way print and broadcast media deliberately started framing issues in language that evokes violent confrontations rather than dialogue. The 1st chapter alone is worth the price of the book – she lays out her whole thesis there, with examples that are hard to ignore.

    Definitely worth a read, imo!

  172. numo said, “the Guy from the Wrong Side of the Tracks look.”

    The thing that cracks me up, is that by the looks of most of his clothes and his style, he spends more on those sissy embroidered shirts than lots of women I know spend on an entire outfit.

    The last thing this hair gelled guy looks is tough to me.

    numo, this photo is for you.

    ok, so that didn’t work. if you go to http://missionsmisunderstood.com/2009/04/18/if-i-were-mark-driscoll/ and expand the photo a bit, I think you’ll find he looks just as precious as the next effeminate man. “Now boys, settle down.”

  173. About a month after we began our blog (almost two years ago!) we did a series on Mark Driscoll. Dee, who is a registered nurse with extensive work experience, wrote a post that we featured the day before my expose called “Mark Driscoll’s Sex Tips and the Tipping Point”.

    Dee’s post was appropriately called “Brother Mark’s Traveling Sex Show”. In that post, Nurse Dee provided important information about the health risks of anal sex. Here’s an excerpt:

    “Mark is no health care professional, yet he gives advice without carefully and fully discussing the possible health consequences. For example, he encourages husbands and wives to participate in anal sex so long as it is not coercive. That may sound well and good, but this shepherd fails to inform his “flock” that there are definite medical issues surrounding such a sexual act. One only has to look at the homosexual population to see the potential problems. We apologize up front for the graphic nature of the material we are about to present, but it is imperative that the truth be told. Lives may be at stake!”

    Here’s the link to Dee’s extremely informative article:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2009/04/22/brother-mark-%e2%80%98s-traveling-sex-show/

    Now for the rest of the story…

    About a week after I wrote about Driscoll and the tipping point, I was walking out of Moms in Touch with one of my good friends. She had been reading our blog and said: “I just heard on the Christian radio station that Mark Driscoll is coming to do a Song of Solomon conference at ________ Baptist Church (which just happened to be Dee’s former church). I was shocked! My friend goes to a different Baptist church in the area.

    Unbeknownst to Dee and me, someone who attended Dee’s former church had been reading our blog and was upset that Driscoll was coming to do the SOS Conference. She printed out the “Driscoll’s Sex Tips and the Tipping Point” post, made multiple copies of it, and handed it out to her entire Sunday School class in protest of Mark’s coming to the church!

    Within days after that, the SOS Conference was “postponed”. That was almost two years ago, and I don’t think the SOS conference has ever been rescheduled.

    I found out about all of this after the fact, and to this day I find the circumstances to be EXTREMELY PROVIDENTIAL…

  174. The infamous “Peasant Princess” series.

    Somewhere in the intro. section of the online (text) version, there’s a sentence to the effect that sex is one of the great problems of our time (loose paraphrase from memory; will have to doublecheck it to see if I got it right, but I’d really rather not bother…)

    Priorities all askew, imo.

    Stunned: he does try (too) hard to look tough but fashionable. The emphasis on appearances (physical and otherwise) is just… well. Unfortunately, it’s copied by lots and lots of guys in the MH circle. I suspect the overall anger/meanness thing is, too…

  175. numo, amen! I can’t help but giggle when I see how hard others mimic his dress.

    Dee and Deb, I was part of Mom’s in Touch for about 10 years! Whoop whoop for other mit-ers!

  176. Um, actually… the print (PDF) intro. to “peasant princess” says the following:

    “In sum, the greatest threat to Christianity is Sex.”

    Does Someone have One Thing on the brain?!!!

    If anyone is interested in reading this thing, Google will get you there, via “peasant princess” and the MH website. Click on the graphic with the antelope to read the PDF. (Other choices will inevitably result in vids of the sermons.)

  177. Numo

    I said this over a year ago. I believe there is something wrong about Driscoll and I fear there will be a scandal some day if he doesn’t tone it down.

  178. A couple comments about Driscoll…

    I believe that if guys were not exposed to pornography and its bleed-over into what passes for popular culture (including the graphic information released during Bill Clinton’s impeachment that seared the conscience of an entire generation), they would have few thoughts about oral s*x, and likely not this insistent demand. You don’t get that idea by watching animals.

    Second, violating a wife’s conscience, especially in this most sensitive area of life, is about the least loving, least manly thing I can imagine a Christian husband doing.

    Jesus the Bridegroom never violates the conscience of his Bride, in drawing us deeper into a loving relationship with him. He respects our integrity so much, that he defers his own desires until we willingly, joyfully agree with him based on trusting submission. Anyone having a real relationship with Christ will attest to this.

    How is a husband behaving like Jesus toward his Bride, if the husband demands his wife do something that pleases only him, while violating her conscience? How does that cherish and encourage her, as Paul instructs?

  179. Numo

    I was at David Platt’s church last spring. During the service he had several people get up who were going to Seattle to start a church.They said that Seattle was a most unchurched area. I told me husband that if Driscoll heard this, he would have a stroke.

  180. Don,

    Well I’m certainly glad to know that Jesus doesn’t want to violate our intellectual integrity, I fee so much better now about being an atheist.

    I don’t know where your idea of good sex comes from, but please, to anyone else listening, let’s not give up on oral sex just yet ok?

  181. Hi Karl

    No chance of that occurring with Driscoll and others around. Good night I am tired of it all. TV, Movies, Mags, and now…. in church.

    Hey, wait a minute, Karl, would you come to church for a chance to hear such a sermon? Could it be the key to unlocking the atheist heart????

  182. A lecture on sex in church … hmmm I think the Catholic church already has it’s hand’s full (pardon the expression) with alter boys, sex and priests…are we sure the protestant half want’s to follow in those footsteps?

  183. Karlton,

    Congratulations. You win the prize! You have just logged the 200th comment on this thread. Not sure what the prize is yet…

  184. @ Don: I think (as stated a bit upthread) that Driscoll is catering to young guys who’ve grown up with internet porn… telling them that they can be Christians and still get what they want. (At what cost, though?)

    I see nothing Christlike in that. Where is the respect, or the emphasis on mutuality and love?

    Nowhere.

  185. With all due respect, Karlton, if you are an atheist, you have no idea to what I’m referring, when I talk about the secret relationship of God’s Spirit with those of people who have entered his Kingdom.

    And to quote C.J. Mahaney, “please don’t hear what I’m not saying” – about oral s*x. It seems to have become an obsession with some men today – more important to them than their wife’s feelings. It appears to be starting even in middle school, that women are being trained to believe they should “service” men sexually in order to get/keep their attention. As the attorneys say, “Cui bono?”

  186. “Guys like David are well known for their ability to slaughter other men. I think these guys were dudes you know. Heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes and the problem in the church today is that it’s just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, womified church boys”. -Mark Driscoll

    Just sad….

  187. @Stunned : thank you for your own very gracious and healing words.

    @Deb: thank you for your very kind offer. I will definitely consider it.

  188. Don

    Karl was a dedicated Christian who was involved in some of these groups for a long time. he is now a atheist. Karl offers the readers at TWW a unique perspective. He knows our lingo, understands our beliefs, used to pray, witness, do deaf interpretation at a church. He is far more educated on the history of the church than many. To top it all off, he is a genuinely nice guy with a great sense of humor.

    We are so glad he visits us regularly. He has an uncanny ability to cut through the bull and challenge us to think more deeply. Of course, we pray he returns to the faith and he hopes we give it up. So far it is Christians 0 and Atheists 0.

  189. Deb/Numo

    “If you don’t get the young men you get nothing…” Driscoll

    What a jerky thing to say. I guess Susie doesn’t count since she is a “nothing” according to this “shepherd.” That let’s out all men above 30. Wait, does this mean that his buddy, CJ, is a nothing?? Double wait, I haven’t been drinking my coffee. This, of course, exempts all the anointed pastors at there since, as we all know, they are always cool.

  190. Dee,

    That’s funny! It seems I need to work on getting the first “score” .. wait! is that sexist? I meant “point”.

    Don,

    Born again Christian for 25 years, including several years at Gathering of Believers both C.J and Larry. I also spent many years in Christian apologetics, where I spent a great deal of time studying the teachings of Walter Martin, Francis Schaeffer, Josh McDowell, et. al. I also spent a some time in Freeville, NY with Scott Ross (the first, to my knowledge, Christian rock radio station back in the 70s), Bill Bright (campus crusade) and many others….none of which really matters because the argument that if you aren’t a Christian you can’t understand what I’m talking about, is about is nonsense anyway, it is, as I’ve pointed out many times before, nothing more than an excuse to not have to take seriously the claims of those who have left the faith or those who make logical arguments against faith, but have never themselves been Christian.

    If women are being trained to service men sexually to keep their attention, then I seriously missed out on some fun in High School. (j/k) :)

  191. “Unbeknownst to Dee and me, someone who attended Dee’s former church had been reading our blog and was upset that Driscoll was coming to do the SOS Conference. She printed out the “Driscoll’s Sex Tips and the Tipping Point” post, made multiple copies of it, and handed it out to her entire Sunday School class in protest of Mark’s coming to the church! ”

    This is key and what works to get the word out. At the 2009 SBC convention a resolution was brought up about Driscoll. I cannot even remember what it was about because I was so stunned that no messengers in my section had ever heard of him. They were all asking each other. I wrote down some sites for them to check out when they got home.

    This is why they had blogs.

    But I am confused as to what Christians did for so many years without indepth teaching on sex. This focus only proves to me, we are Laodicea. We are so rich (not spiritually) that we sit through oral sex teaching.

  192. Lydia,

    When I wrote that post way back in 2009, TWW was such an OBSCURE blog. I wasn’t sure whether anyone would read it, and it really didn’t matter to me because it was a therapeutic exercise.

    Recently, I received a private e-mail from a woman who attended Mars Hill Church. She expressed her gratitude for that post, and I think it helped to validate her own feelings toward Mark Driscoll. I am amazed at God’s providence in using this blog to minister to others.

  193. Lydia

    Since there seems to be young children in churches, it appears that folks got along purty well without Father Driscoll and the birds and the bees.

  194. Dee,

    You mean “Papa D”, as Driscoll is fondly called by his sycophants?

    Hey, you could go by the moniker “Mama Dee” !!!

  195. Deb I am one of those who is grateful for what you wrote.

    I for one do not know much about John MacArthur, but I totally agree with what he wrote in saying that “Enough is enough.” I thought it also telling that he writes how he “did inform John Piper and C. J. Mahaney of [his] concerns about this material several weeks ago. I itemized all of these issues in much more thorough detail than I have written about them here, and I expressly told them I was preparing this series of articles for the blog.

    To those asking why pastors Piper and Mahaney (and others in positions of key leadership) haven’t publicly expressed similar concerns of their own, that is not a question for me. I hope you will write and ask them.”

    Aren’t Piper and Mahaney always waxing poetic about complimentarian gender issues and males supposedly protecting the fragile sensibilities of the fairer sex? Why were they silent on this issue? Did they not feel any spiritual caution to endorse/support a pastor who is affecting the next generation of believers with interpretations of scripture that supposedly says that sodomy within marriage is okay?

    Driscoll just recently published this on his fb page about an article he did for the Washington Post on how to talk to your kids about s-x: http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/mark_driscoll/2011/02/talking_to_your_kids_about_sex.html

    I thought it might be the perfect and ironic topping for this discussion.

  196. Karlton, I respect but am not awed by your experience and training. Paul had better educational credentials than yours, but went to a martyr’s death defending his Jesus. If anyone had reason or excuse to reject Jesus, it was Paul due to his excruciatingly painful experience as Jesus’ follower. You have no excuse that I can see.

    It seems one of the two following statements must be true about you:

    1) You never had a true born-again experience that placed you in the Kingdom of God and revealed to you the true nature of his love and holiness. If so, then I stand by my earlier statement that “you have no idea to what I’m referring, when I talk about the secret relationship of God’s Spirit with those of people who have entered his Kingdom.”

    There is still a possibility that you may be saved and should receive prayer toward that end. However, until such time, you’re not qualified to pass judgment on the intimate spiritual relationship with God that I described earlier.

    2) You truly were born-again, and perhaps even Spirit-filled as were the believers at Pentecost. If you were such a person, then you should be able to confirm my description based on your own memories.

    If, however, you were such a person but later rejected Jesus and even belief in God through your own free will, then I can’t have Dee’s cheery belief that our prayers can return you to faith. That’s because I believe the statement in Hebrews 6, which appears to address your situation:

    “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

    That was NIV. Here’s New King James Version:

    “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”

    The Amplified Bible says the same thing, but even more clearly:

    “For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, and have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, if they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance — [it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace.”

    Hebrews 12 contains a final exhortation to remain in Christ, but also a final warning to anyone wavering in their faith:

    “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven….”

    If you have truly and finally rejected Jesus Christ, Scripture states that you are no longer God’s happy-thought, and there’s no way back.

  197. Cindy K, thank you for that book suggestion. I’ve read some pages from it and it looks like it’s worth buying!

    Stunned

  198. On the contrary, in my opinion, Numo, with all due respect to you, Don, and Karl.

    Don presented a respectful, well written, and timely exhortation to Karl for his benefit. I pray that God will use that post to speak to Karl’s heart and draw him to Himself.

  199. Stunned, I thought it was respectful, too. And it was the truth of the Word which can be quite negative which some view as disrespectful. It would be different if Karlton claims to never have been a believer. Have you ever asked yourself why Karlton wants to hang out with believers who are discussing spiritual abuse?

  200. Don,

    Didn’t expect any “awe”, just wanted you to know that I understand Christianity, theology and the mindset that goes along with it. Paul, is an interesting topic, while I don;t agree with everything written by this particular author, I find the hypothesis interesting…was he indeed what he described himself as… http://mainereason.blogspot.com/

    In response, I did not find your admonition offensive, although maybe a bit presumptuous and forward. I do find it offensive though when people try to hand-wave away the consul or opinion of others simply because they disagree.

    You made a rather bold statement when you said “you’re not qualified to pass judgment on the intimate spiritual relationship with God that I described earlier.”

    How do you then deal with people of other faiths who claim the same type of personal inner communion with their God or Goddess, do you afford them the same protection? What I mean is, do you realize and acknowledge that you also are not qualified to pass judgement on their beliefs until you have had the same personal experience with their Gods that they claim to have…or does the old “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” not apply in your case?

    I assume that you do not believe in Apollo or Vishnu or Thor as Gods, just as I do not…you see we are both atheists, the only difference being that I believe in one less God than you do.

  201. Lydia,

    I’ll gladly answer that one. I find abuse of any kind offensive and as a humanist I believe that all forms of abuse should be under attack. I also believe that you cannot have a very meaningful dialog with people if you do not at least try to understand their feelings and thoughts on a matter.

    Hence, my two reasons for spending time here on this topic. I also realize, having been a believer for many years, that dealing with doubt and questions, is a common issue and while many here may not agree with my feelings on the matter I do appreciate the ability to express them, knowing that at some of you may seriously take my ideas under consideration when not on here actively defending the faith…I know when I was a Christian, while I would fight to defend the faith in public, I always gave consideration and thought to contrary ideas when I was home in private surroundings.

  202. @ Lydia, Don (and everyone else): Like Stunned, I thought the tone of the post was… condescending. I’m sure it was not meant to come across that way, but – to me, at least – it really does.

    Karlton, you are where you are. If we try cutting you off or throwing Bible verses and doctrine in your face instead of respectfully talking with you, I think… we’re off-track.

    (Just my .02-worth… though I’m not where Karlton is, I’ve been having to learn to think for myself again after many years in abusive churches, and i’m finding that it all raises some very big, challenging questions… my feelings about a lot of “B issues” have changed profoundly over time, and even “A issues” are on the table – which is, imo, a good and freeing thing.)

  203. numo,

    I appreciate your honesty. I spent more than a few years in exactly the same spot. Please feel absolutely free to ask anything you like about my particular journey or thoughts, I’ll give you an honest answer and who knows, it might even help! (p.s. if past experience is any kind of guide though, it might make things more confusing :) )

  204. numo & stunned,

    Go back and read – carefully! – my recent statements, and Karl’s replies to them. Then read Dee’s 07.41am comment beginning “Karl was a dedicated Christian who was involved in some of these groups for a long time. he is now a atheist.”

    If you don’t get it — if you can’t read between the lines — then please read the lines written below.

    I presented, above, option #1 out of deference to the mercy of God and my human limitation to know another’s heart. Though possible, I find it highly unlikely #1 is true, based on Karl’s statements that I’ve read on TWW.

    If option #2 is true, then Karlton isn’t just a nice guy who made a free-will choice to renege on his acceptance of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. He’s someone we very rarely see plainly: a person who, according to Hebrews 6 and 12, has knowingly damned himself to hell with no hope of repentance.

    If you have personally *experienced* the mercy, love and holiness of God because of the blood of Jesus Christ, something in your spirits should be quaking and recoiling at this revelation. You should be experiencing the holy fear of God (as I am right now).

    According to scripture, if my option #2 is true, then Karl isn’t just a nice guy: Karl is demonstrating the spirit of antichrist speaking through a human being.

    How can I say such a thing? John the Apostle warned the early Church, and us, about this lying spirit. PLEASE read carefully his statements from 1 John 2:

    “…as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us…”

    If Karl has truly rejected Jesus Christ after having known him, then John has described him. Now look at John’s description of the character of the antichrist spirit:

    “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist — denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father…”

    Therefore, under option #2, since Karl has knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, he is interacting with TWW readers not as an unbiased observer, but through the spirit of antichrist that lies about the truth of Jesus.

    So, is the issue in my writing about Hebrews 6 and 12 above, my being “respectful” to Karlton — or being humbly obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ?

    I have nothing against the man personally, I wish him well. However, I can’t deny the statements of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, in order to be “respectful” to an apostate atheist — and neither should any other blood-bought saint of God.

    I want to say plainly:

    if Karl is a confirmed, former-Christian atheist, then he’s not a neutral player — not according to holy scripture written by the apostles who knew Jesus personally and were filled with his Spirit. Karl lives and acts under what Apostle John called the sprit of “antichrist.” Knowing the truth, he believed the lie, and rejected the blood of Christ that had transferred him from the enemy of God into the family of God as an adopted son.

    Having confirmed the lie, he has willingly left the Kingdom of God and lives in hostility toward Christ in cooperation with the spirit of antichrist. Let that thought sink in!

    Remember Paul’s warning to the Corinthians: “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?…For we are the temple of the living God.” (2 Cor:6)

    If this is the case, how can you look to Karl for any insights regarding our holy faith, which was purchased through the agonies, blood and humiliation of Jesus at the whipping post and on the cross? How can you trust anything he says regarding our faith and spirituality, or the workings of the Spirit of Christ in his Body and Bride, the Church?

    I really don’t want to write any of this — I’m a go-along-to-get-along guy! But my love and devotion to Jesus and his Word won’t let me ignore this — even if none of you “respect” me. Even if Dee and Deb ban me from this site. The loving sacrifice of Jesus — the unfathomable worth of his blood, is so worth me speaking out against antichrist.

    This is what John said at the end of the passage I quoted above:

    “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.” (1 Jn 2:26)

  205. Don, there was a time when I would have agreed with your approach, and with much of what you’ve said.

    But that’s past. I trust in God’s mercy, forgiveness, grace and love – and I do not believe that anyone here on earth is qualified to pass judgement on how God views anyone else.

    We are not him. We do not know what he knows, or see what he sees.

    I will get out of the way now; I might be muddying the waters a bit, but not deliberately. I don’t agree with a lot of Karlton’s views, but I really can understand why someone who has been in abusive church situations would make the choices he’s made.

    I know others (from my time in those abusive churches) who have been so deeply wounded that they’ve made similar choices. In some ways, I’m surprised that I haven’t gone there, too…

  206. Call me mean and hateful but I agree with every word that Don wrote. He is right and is teaching scriptural truth. He is exactly right about what Hebrews and 1 John teach. Many are not used to hearing it in context.

    And I do like Karlton and would never suggest he be run off a public blog site. But, I would expect to be questioned if I were a former Muslim now interacting on Muslim sites. There is abuse in all realms of life including among atheists..and “Christian” spiritual abuse has been around since Diotrephes. :o)

    “Thinking for ourselves” means knowing what scripture is teaching in context..even the negative truths. It also means the indwelling Holy Spirit…so to suggest that what Don writes is not thinking for himself is very condescending…exactly what you accused him of.

    Why not take him on concerning what Hebrews or 1 John is teaching on this issue instead of ad hominem? Unlike Karlton, I assume you believe the Word? Why not start there.

    Or, you could give us an example of a nicer way to present spiritual truth of Hebrews and 1 John to those like Karlton who claim to have experienced it and then turned away?

    The Word can be a sword.

  207. Clarification: I meant to say that I don’t think anyone here on earth is qualified to judge whether someone is “saved,” “damned,” somewhere in between – or much of anything else.

    I believe God is the final arbiter of all that, and that he knows the hearts, minds (souls) of all people.

    Who am I to shout him down?!

  208. OK, one more time: I have a real problem with the overall tone of some of Don’s posts.

    Upthread a bit, he told Karlton that he (K) could not possibly understand what he (Don) was talking about.

    ????!

    I think there’s a point at which we have to start talking with other people instead of talking AT them. And very often, using a lot of scripture in a convo (online or face to face) is one way of talking AT the other person who does not believe in the same things you believe in.

    Did Jesus do that?

    I kinda think not, even though he had strong words for various people.

    And none of us are Jesus, the sinless Son of God.

    I’ve been learning the hard way about tone, and also about thinking for one’s self. And Lydia, I truly believe that the latter is about much more than searching the Scriptures; I think it entails looking at other people and trying to put ourselves in their shoes.

    Listening to them. Trying to imagine ourselves in their place.

    I’m definitely not saying these things to blame anyone who posts here.

    But … maybe “mercy triumphs over judgment” is applicable here? (I think the answer to that is “yes,” but that’s just me.)

  209. And Karlton: thanks! I’ll probably take you up on the offer.

    Lydia: I love your contributions to this blog. And your perspective.

  210. Where to start, where to start… This is what I mean when I speak of the danger of religion. Look at how it causes people to interact in a very negative way with others. Instead of listening to what I might have to offer and taking it under consideration (not saying you need to agree with it), the response has been confrontational, accusatory and demeaning, wonderful traits to emulate certainly a precursor to making friends and improving the society we live in.

    There is no talking about thinking for ourselves or reason or logic when we immediately fall back on ideas and prejudices born in the iron age that relegates the words or actions of someone who disagrees with our theology to heresy and their source to the Antichrist. You know what that it…it’s the precursor to the inquisition, the Witch hunts or the crusades, to death, torture, mutilation and abuse on a massive scale.

    If Don feels that way, then he is truly deserving of our pity and empathy and is in serious need of some help.

    I think if Jesus were here, listening in on this blog which is examining and condemning abusive behavior in other churches, He might just be inspired to retell a certain parable And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

  211. “I think there’s a point at which we have to start talking with other people instead of talking AT them. And very often, using a lot of scripture in a convo (online or face to face) is one way of talking AT the other person who does not believe in the same things you believe in.

    Did Jesus do that?”

    Yes! All the time. It was because the OT pointed to HIM and He was always making that clear in every aspect…even the law…raising the bar to hate is now murder, etc. You seem to not believe that God speaks through His Word to people?

    “And none of us are Jesus, the sinless Son of God.”

    We are supposed to striving for His Holiness. We can never get there on earth because we are born in corrupted bodies with corrupted minds. Are we to believe that being Born Again and living in sin is the norm for believers? I would point us once again to Hebrews 10 and also to all of 1 John to correct this wrong thinking. As believers, we are to sin less and less as we grow in Holiness. We do have the indwelling Holy Spirit now to guide us in all things.

    “I’ve been learning the hard way about tone, and also about thinking for one’s self. And Lydia, I truly believe that the latter is about much more than searching the Scriptures; I think it entails looking at other people and trying to put ourselves in their shoes.”

    That sounds nice but what you are really saying is that Don’s scriptural truths were negative and not nice to say. How can we do anything when that is the standard? That is censorship for believers. I notice that Karlton is not censored here. Why should believers be censored for teaching scriptural truths? If you think there is a nicer way to teach them, then please do so. I can use all the help I can get! :o)

    “Listening to them. Trying to imagine ourselves in their place.”

    That is somewhat the point Don was making. Most of us cannot because Karlton claims the experience of salvation and even sanctification and then denounced Jesus Christ as Messiah.

    “But … maybe “mercy triumphs over judgment” is applicable here? (I think the answer to that is “yes,” but that’s just me.)”

    Speaking the truth of the Word is not judgement. It is mercy. What I find bothersome is that so many are more worried about offending people who have made their position clear about the Gospel than they are of offending Christ, His Sacrifice and Resurrection.

    You also say we cannot judge who is saved or not. Scripture does not teach this although many say it does. It teaches that we do not know who will be saved IN THE END. We are most definitely to inspect fruit and flee from evil.even kick out those who are immoral, liars, etc…and when scripture teaches this it means “professing believers”.

    Check out Matthew 7: Many will say Lord Lord and I will say, I never knew you. (Note: He does not say YOU never knew Me. It says “I” never knew you)

  212. “Where to start, where to start… This is what I mean when I speak of the danger of religion. Look at how it causes people to interact in a very negative way with others. Instead of listening to what I might have to offer and taking it under consideration (not saying you need to agree with it), the response has been confrontational, accusatory and demeaning, wonderful traits to emulate certainly a precursor to making friends and improving the society we live in.”

    Karlton, such irony! You sound like many preachers I have heard who do not like dissent or disagreement with what they say. They call any debate or questioning mean, hateful, divisive. You are calling it confrontational, demeaning and accusatory.

    I am starting to think both Christians AND Athiests want robotic shallow thinkers who debate nothing but only speak in platitudes accepting anything as truth.

    Thank God both the Founding Fathers AND certain figures in Historical Christianity dissented, argued and debated. We might still have a state church if they did not. And then, Karlton, you would be obliged to go or face the magistrate. :o)

  213. Lydia – I have a feeling that we come from very different (even divergent) church traditions.

    With that said, I really don’t want to get into a point-by-point argument/discussion regarding most of what you wrote immediately above. To my eyes… we’re coming from different (albeit Christian) approaches to many things re. Scripture, doctrine and more. (fwiw, I was raised Lutheran and have kinda gone back to that, though I’m not sure it matters what church I’m from… or if I’m of no particular church at all.)

    I think one of the main things I’m attempting to say is that there are things re. the way we talk with each other that could (maybe) change a bit – and it isn’t something we can put on the other person/people we’re trying to talk with; it has to begin with each of us.

    A lot of this relates to using less confrontational language and ways of framing ideas. For example, it might help to say something like “OK, my understanding of this is [fill in the blanks]” rather than “This is how it is!”

    That puts the onus on you [plural], not on the person/people you’re trying to talk with. And – given the parable Karlton referenced – I think there’s a lot of merit in it, in that we all make mistakes; no single individual on this earth has ALL the truth in their heads and hearts.. (You could maybe look up the Lutheran Small Catechism and the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds to see some of where I’m coming from… I think the creeds and the Catechism are largely about “A issues” rather than “B issues,” but I also have a feeling that the view of salvation in some of the older church traditions is quite different than it is in many evangelical churches – which is by no means a condemnation. I’m simply trying to point out some of the common ground as well as some of the differences…)

    Does that help clarify? In a nutshell, I think it’s good to drop our guard and be less confrontational as we attempt to speak with one another – especially knowing that there will inevitably be a difference of opinion on many issues…

  214. A quick add (but an important one, I think): I believe we can all learn a LOT from each other here.

    I do think our convos would be easier if we were all sitting around a table, sharing food, drink and talk, since we’d be able to see each other and consequently hear tone of voice, see facial expressions, catch the nuances of expression that are very hard to capture in text-only communication.

    Does that make sense?

  215. “:Lydia – I have a feeling that we come from very different (even divergent) church traditions. ”

    I despise tradition when it comes to Christianity. It is the reason for so much false or twisted teaching and worship of buildings, people, sacred furniture, etc.

    It is about “relationship” with Christ.

    I call what you are saying above the “Totalitarian niceness”. As in ‘a view only has validity if I like the way you say it’. Let us learn not to be so thin skinned if we are to interact. Otherwise, we have 100 people saying there is a certain way to say something the way they want it said in order to consider it.

    . Let us focus on the issue not the way it is presented. This is what the abusers do. They say, ‘you did not say it nicely as I define nice, so I will not respond but will admonish you for how you said it’. And that is even when you practiced being fair and nice before you dared approach them! For some reason they are allowed to admonish over their perception of niceness but you are not allowed to admonish for twisted biblical teaching or to question their position on certain issues. Strange how that works. But we do it, too!

    Why do we not value directness and truth? I just don’t get it. We value platitudes and shallow talk.

    I would like to hear your interpretation of what Don taught from scripture above and why it does not apply to Karlton based upon what Karlton has told us about himself. I would love to see someone focus on “what” he taught…NOT “how” he taught it. That could be a profitable conversation for us all.

  216. “There is no talking about thinking for ourselves or reason or logic when we immediately fall back on ideas and prejudices born in the iron age that relegates the words or actions of someone who disagrees with our theology to heresy and their source to the Antichrist. You know what that it…it’s the precursor to the inquisition, the Witch hunts or the crusades, to death, torture, mutilation and abuse on a massive scale.

    If Don feels that way, then he is truly deserving of our pity and empathy and is in serious need of some help. ”

    Numo?

  217. Numo, Let me say I have a cousin who reminds me somewhat of Karlton. He was totally sold out to Christ until age 30ish. very involved in Campus Crusade, Intervarsity, etc. He has 2 PhD’s one is in Theology and one in Humanities. He retired as a Dean of a well known University in NY.

    He uses many of the same arguments as Karlton uses here. Do I love this man? You bet I do and he is wonderful to me. Lets me swim in his pool in his new home in Fla and treats me as a queen when I visit.

    We have had great debates and he is unmovable. I quake in my boots for him and will always pray that he was never really saved before but will be in the end.

  218. Lydia,

    Ok, I’ll be the first… I think Don, for the most part is correct in his interpretation of what the Bible says…but that aside for the moment, there is a world of difference between communicating WHAT the bible says and in HOW you communicate it.

    When I said that the presentation was confrontational…it was a statement of fact, it was not a reflection either way on the content.

    My point was that even if this is what the bible teaches is that REALLY the type of person you want to be, do you really want to view the rest of the world that way? I don’t want to censor Don or anyone else. I just think it’s that mentality that will cause both the wars and hate and abuse to continue.

    Sorry Lydia, there was no “irony” in what I said…and I never dismiss WHAT a person says without consideration, but the delivery and in this case the content was exactly what I called it. If you don’t think calling someone the Antichrist is confrontational well you have a higher level of tolerance than I do.

  219. Lydia – I think directness must be generously salted with the grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, else it’s of no little value.

    I don’t think that actual conversation works when people are being confrontational. There is no possibility of dialogue when that happens, because everyone (or most everyone) is convinced that he/she is right, and all the other people (or some, or most) are wrong.

    I have experienced the use of “directness” in a very wounding way – in abusive churches and with some very unhappy people IRL.

    There are ways to speak the truth in love. I’m not saying that you don’t do that, but that a lot of us (me, too) tend to throw up defenses rather than let down our guard and actually listen to what the other person is saying.

    I think Jesus did that all the time – even when he was saying hard-to-hear things. (An example: the rich young ruler. “Jesus, looking upon him, loved him…”)

    I think there’s good tradition and bad tradition. Some things from church tradition are horrendous, while (imo) others are good. I believe it is up to each of us to decide on that for ourselves.

    Just as an fyi (or an aside, depending on one’s pov), you can read the text of the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed at the links I posted in this reply… they’re brief and pretty succinct. (Please note that there are variant translations – the ones I’ve referred to are common, but there are slight variations of wording in others.)

    Hope that’s helpful!

  220. And – like Karlton – I’ve been trying to focus on the HOW of communication, not the content of what you or Don or Karlton or I (or anyone else) is trying to communicate.

    There are ways to do that that come across as very direct but not confrontational – though admittedly, that’s NOT an easy thing to do, and I’m trying to learn how to do it myself. (Will likely mess this up many, many times during the remainder of my life – but still, it’s worth trying, and there’s grace for it, and for all of us, I believe.)

  221. numo,

    By definition, someone not regenerated and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit of God is outside the Kingdom and family of God, and not part of the living Body of Jesus Christ. They are not “in Christ.”

    Therefore, they *cannot* understand the ways in which the Holy Spirit works inside the spirits of the saints – any more than an inhabitant of Flatland can understand the experience of depth or volume. It’s literally impossible. That’s because true Christians are “new creatures” (2 Cor 5:17) — a type of physical-spiritual being that never existed before the resurrection of Jesus. Our spirits are open to the Spirit of Jesus and heavenly realities. Unbelievers simply cannot do this – they’re not equipped with spiritual senses attuned to the Spirit of Christ.

    What’s more, a Christian can never agree that spiritual experiences non-Christians have with their gods are equal in validity and quality with ours — any more than Elijah would let “mercy triumph over judgment” and learn, from a priest of Ba’al, how to improve his own spiritual life. Not only are the two unequal, they have different sources, and are actively hostile to one another.

    Christians can’t play-nice with other religions, because other religions’ ultimate father is the devil, whose goal is to kill us and besmirch the name of God before the angels. This is the plain teaching of scripture.

    While we don’t fight with swords, we must aggressively pray and work at the Spirit’s command, not only to bring unbelievers into the Kingdom of God, but then to help them mature into spiritual warriors. Mature warriors not only save others, but actively wage spiritual warfare anyplace God sends them.

    Can I give you the big picture?

    Since the completion of Jesus’ work on earth, and the sending of the Spirit of Jesus at Pentecost into his followers/friends, God has been waging active spiritual warfare on this earth against the Kingdom of Darkness. The Kingdom of God was planted in these few believers in seed form, and – as Jesus prophesied – has been growing like leaven or a mustard seed ever since. It will one day cover the earth, he promised. That means he will win, and the deceiving spirits of other religions (even the religion of atheism) will lose.

    Jesus didn’t come to bring peace among various religions, but a spiritual sword that proceeds from his mouth. And, he revealed to John that at the final end of this age, Jesus WILL answer the prayers of the martyred saints begging him for vengeance — read Rev. 19:11-21, which describes Jesus being anything but meek and mild. When he finally takes matters into his own hands, it won’t be pretty — Jesus will respond justly to those who choose against him, because he’s the God of Psalm 2 as well as the freshly slain Lamb.

    We are not at that point yet, but if you think the spirit of antichrist is content to live peacefully alongside the Spirit of Jesus, you’re mistaken. The Kingdom of God is forcefully advancing through forceful people (Matt 11:12) around the world, who love sinners but are lovingly saving them from the clutches of the enemy. This enemy who wants to keep sinners blinded and send them into the hell that God intended only for satan and his rebellious spirit army.

    At the same time, the enemy attempts to sow confusion in the Kingdom through people like Karlton, who are “nice” but follow the agenda of Darkness through smooth talk and logical arguments that subtly undermine the Word and reputation of Jesus. Just look at how he’s now trying, in this forum, to convince me that the spiritual experiences of non-Christians are equivalent to those of believers. He’s promoting a lie, and he knows it.

    numo, God intends to bring you to maturity in the Spirit of Christ, so you aren’t afraid to judge righteously. His goal is that you will be merciful to those who are blind to the schemes of the enemy — but speak boldly to and about those who are actively resisting the Spirit of Christ

    We have the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead — the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7, Phil 1:19) — who discerned the spirit of Pharisees who’d hardened their hearts against Jesus, and judged them righteously: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (Jn 8:24).

    Mercy triumphs over judgment — thank God, or there’d be no hope for us. But judgment is indeed reserved for those who absolutely reject Christ. Karlton tells us he’s rejected Christ. Isn’t he therefore a “blind guide,” like those Pharisees who Jesus warned would lead others into a pit ? (Matt 15:14)

    The Spirit will lead us into this discernment — it’s for all the saints, not just for superstars like Paul and John. Don’t you know that, one day, we will judge angels? Then you should expect to grow both into love and into righteous judgment about spiritual light and darkness, and speak/act accordingly. You shouldn’t shy from or be afraid of this. This is part of your inheritance as an adopted son of the living God!

    Paul instructs the Corinthians in 1 Cor 6:

    “Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!”

  222. Are we living under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant?

    If the latter, then, well… I believe that mercy does triumph over judgement, and also that God is the only one who knows what is in any given person’s mind, heart, spirit… We so often judge by appearances – at least, I do.

    Which brings to mind Samuel’s visit to see the sons of Jesse – OT stuff, but it works here. ;) (Ref.: what God said to Samuel about appearances versus how God looks at people…)

    We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, seeing “appearances” here, partly because we’re not talking f2f. Text-only communication is very hard, because it cannot carry tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, etc. – and little emoticons only go so far in their ability to properly express what any of us is trying to say.

    I think we all need to give each other the benefit of the doubt here.

    Again, I’m really not wanting to discuss doctrine or interpretation of Scripture here so much as I’m trying to address the actual way in which we frame our words to one another… the “tone,” if you will.

    There are volumes written about the difficulties of online communication (as well as f2f communication,!), but it really does – imo – boil down to respect of the others with whom we’re talking, regardless of what they say they believe – and whether they (or we) are “right” (or perceive ourselves to be in the right).

    It really isn’t about content – it’s about the WAY in which the content is stated.

    Make sense?

    [/takes off social worker hat and puts it away ;)]

  223. numo

    I really don’t understand. Have I said anything hateful or deliberately hurtful to Karlton, or anyone else? My tone has been matter-of-fact, but I haven’t called anyone names, used profanity, made ad hominem attacks or done anything aggressive that’s intended to stop discussion.

    All I’ve done is to respond to Karlton’s own statements questioning mine, with extremely focused and relevant scripture – which he has chosen to reject as authoritative in his life or the life of anyone else.

    He also seems to believe that the mere belief and expression of scripture inevitably leads to inquisitions and torture. That is not only untrue, it would surprise Paul, Jesus, Isaiah or any other author of scripture who were, themselves, tortured and killed by people violently opposed to scriptural revelation and the God of judeo-Christian scripture.

  224. yes, the agenda of darkness, logic, reason and compassion.

    Don, and I say this without one iota of sarcasm. I hope that someday you get some help. That is not intended as a put down or sarcasm. I truly think that people who think the way you do and actually take action based on those beliefs must be hurting inside, are deluded or have issues that require a professional.

    I don’t feel that this discussion is heading anywhere that’s going to be beneficial. Most of you who know me, know that I bend over backwards to try and be respectful of your beliefs. I do this because I was once a Christian, I understand what its like and I believe that most people have the capacity for reasonable and rational thought.

    But someone who would call another human being an Antichrist, accuse them of lying and deceit and helping to propagate Satan’s agenda…is a little too far over the edge in my opinion.

    This mentality reminds of a sweet young girl, a Marine, that I knew in the service. One day she didn’t show up for work so another corpsman was sent to her house, only to find that her brother, a deeply religious (Christian) man, was told by God, yes he honestly believed God was speaking to him, to kill his sister because Satan was controlling her (evidenced by her nightly exotic dancing to earn money for school). He went into her bedroom while she slept and stabbed her 13 times with a butcher knife. No remorse at all, just blindly following what he believed God wanted, incapable of allowing reason to guide him differently.

    I’ve seen religious fanaticism way too much in my life. No matter the form, no matter the pretext it has the potential for misery to all those who come to close to the flame.

    It seems, and I am at risk of putting words into Don’s mouth, that don thinks you probably shouldn’t allow me here….given I am the agent of Satan trying to turn you from the narrow path….anyone else feel that way? Just curious.

  225. Gosh. I’m not sure if I can explain what I’m trying to say any more clearly… and I know you haven’t been intentionally rude, used profanity, etc.

    I guess all I can do is refer folks to this guide re. online communication.

    Don, I respect what you’re saying and I do get where you’re coming from … I think this is all a huge learning curve, for all of us. I think the statement that bothered me was the one about Karlton not possibly being able to know/understand.

    But hey, I might be making wrong assumptions about you – and if I have done so, I’d like to stop!

    all the best,
    me

  226. @ karlton: no words.

    (Although I am certain that the murderer was having a psychotic break; “god” seems to figure in so many of the delusions that psychotics and schizophrenics experience…)

    *

    I think… there is something to be said for the kinds of churches that understand that people will screw up (sometimes very badly); that in the course of life, most all of us are going to experience times where we – at very least – have grave doubts about what we believe; also that many of us will experience periods of “un-faith.”

    personally, i believe that is part of the human condition, and something that God understands. I do not believe that a bout of “I’m not sure” is going to send someone to eternal punishment – quite the contrary.

    God, in the person of Christ, has actually felt. these things – in the agony in the garden; on the cross – thus, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    If God did not understand the depth of human pain and suffering (of which doubt is a part), then all the Psalmists would have written shiny, happy poems.

    But… they didn’t. Many of them wrote about what it’s like to be in the depths, to have been betrayed by trusted friends… and more.

    I just… think he understands. And that there is grace for all, no matter what they believe and where they are.

    After all, it’s the Holy Spirit who draws us to God, isn’t it? (I suspect most of you – with the exception of Karl – believe that; am certain that Karl understands this point completely.) So… are we called to denounce people who believe differently, or are we called to act with Christlike compassion toward them? (Remembering that if nobody had acted with love and compassion toward us, then…)

    Grace = “unmerited favor,” something that by its very nature cannot be bought, sold – or earned.

    “We love because he first loved us.”

    Conversely, I can’t help thinking about Gandhi’s statement – [my hopefully accurate quote] “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.” Why the 2nd part of the sentence? Because he had seen and heard people in a church speaking in a very unkind way about others.

    [/finis]

  227. Numo,

    so if it’s the Holy Spirit that draws you to God, who is it that draws hundreds of millions of other people to different Gods…I know, Satan right?

    Yes, only OUR God is real, only OUR experiences are divine, only OUR denomination is correct, only OUR interpretation of the Bible is accurate, only OUR morality is from God, only OUR people will be in heaven…does anyone besides me notice a repeating refrain here?

    is it just possible, even remotely, that just maybe all of this is no more than fiction, grand delusion, simply a need to be wanted and loved by the majority and a means of making money and controlling people for the rest.

    Without missionaries, be they people, radio, TV or internet blogs, would anyone who grew up in on the Ganges river magically become Christian instead of Hindu, When Columbus arrived here, did he find any Christians or did everyone have a different religion, when the Spanish invaded central and south America, did they find any Christians? The answer is a resounding no, apparently the only way people find “god”, whichever one it is, is through other people convincing them that the beliefs they were raised on are wrong and we have a better way…and it doesn;t seem to matter which way you are presenting either, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Catholics, The Moonies…you name em, they all have success in the mission fields.

  228. Umm… you’re asking the wrong person re. your “Satan” question, Karlton. Seriously.

    I wouldn’t say that now; I would have said that in the past.

    Can I take a “not sure” plea on this one? ;)

  229. … and: I believe lots and lots of American Christians have deeply superstitious fears about other religions – and the people who believe in them. Part of that (imo) comes from bad biblical exegesis – and lack of comparative religion studies; part of it from never having been in a situation where one’s neighbors (or one’s family members) might be jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, Muslim, Jain… whatever set of beliefs you’d care to name.

    A number of years back, I read a statement from some VERY horrified Indian Christians re. something a missionary had said about Hindus (et. al.) being involved in demonic practices because they were Hindu (et. al).

    These people (the Indian Christians) said that they would not tolerate the vilification of their neighbors, friends, relatives, business associates, students, teachers (etc. etc. etc.).

    Best “Christian” statement I’ve seen in a long, long time!

  230. Ok, now I can switch sides …. actually I think it’s a great humanist statement, but from a purely biblical theological standpoint I think you’re stuck with believing that, in the best case, they are naively being manipulated by Satan and in the worst case they are militantly fighting against the God of Christianity.

    Don’t you love it when I change sides in the middle of an argument :)

  231. @ Karlton: glad you liked it! :)

    Switching sides: I dunno, K. I really don’t believe that we humans are just unwittingly “manipulated” by a devil/adversary and/or following God.

    Though I *will* admit to this much: I think the interpretation you just mentioned is very consistent with what I believe to be a kind of dualist (almost neo-Gnostic) strain of thought that runs right through the whole charismatic encampment, and – now – much of American evangelicalism as well.

    The reason i say that: I’ve seen it at very close quarters. Too close!

  232. Don’s 4:15 pm comment is total truth. I was just writing a friend yesterday about Revelation 19 and the cries of the martyrs for justice and how this is rarely acknowledged today by many pastors. It does not fit the paradigm we have created.

    But the focus here is on “tone” instead of “truth”. But again, I repeat that this makes truthful communication impossible because the full truth is also negative. Numo wants us to say, “this is what I believe” or ‘this might be the case’, etc. instead of boldly proclaiming the words of scripture as truth. It seems it is considered not nice to be sure. In this respect, then simply copying and pasting the Words of scripture would be offensive.

    Karlton has lost no opportunity to interject the words “logic” and “reason” into his communications as if they cannot exist in true believers who speak the truth boldly. He speaks of the evils done in the Name of Christ as if the words of scripture only lead to such evils ignoring as Don pointed out the persecutions suffered by the authors and Christ Himself on the Cross. History is replete with people twisting and misuing the Word for their own benefit. That does not change the truth. It means there have been a ton of false believers throughout history. We must acknowledge that.

    Yet Karlton claims to be respectful while at the same time telling Don he needs professional help for his words of truth from the scriptures. So, Karlton thinks Don is sick in the head for his beliefs which are straight from the Word. And gets support for this from believers!

    Speaking the truth of the Word is not persecution. Don was matter of fact not hateful. Yet the irony is that the believer who spoke truth is considered hateful while the former believer who has denuonced Christ is given a pass by believers as being nice. Boggles the mind.

    What I find absolutely frightening is that a believer here does not want to discuss the content of what they find so mean in the Word… only the presentation that never once insulted anyone but was only a representation of what scripture teaches. That is truly frightening to me for what it portends.

    We are to live peacably with everyone as is possible. But we are also to boldly speak the truth. Scriptures speaks of both these things….families will be divided…Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword….yet we are to be a peculiar people full of love and truth. Seems contradictory but as I mature I see that it is the Words of truth that bring the divisions. The Cross and what it means is offensive even to many who profess Christ. So many will want to decide HOW the truth of the Word can be communicated so as not to offend. But that is impossible unless you dilute it. It has always offended those who are perishing.

    But the older I get, the more I see that many professing believers will, out of ignorance, be part of the coming persecution. They will see truth as mean and prefer to be liked by man rather than proclaim the full Counsel of God. (Acts 20) and be willing to die for it with no blood on their own hands.

  233. Lydia, in what may be a futile attempt let me see if I can clarify how I view the world or believers (of any religion). I’ll try to categorize them, while hoping that everyone understands that for any particular person, it is not a black and white judgement, and just like saying someone is a type “A” or type “B” personality does not imply that a person of one type can’t have attributes from the other.

    I am a believer because…(rhetorical)

    1. I use it to make money or I enjoy the control it affords me over other people.

    2. I truly believe it to be absolutely true, it is the only thing that matters in this life and my actions are in accord with my professed beliefs. I will do whatever God tells me to do, any evidence to the contrary is obviously wrong and of the devil. I already know what the truth is, there is no need to question any more.

    2. I enjoy the comfort it brings me to believe that ultimately all things will work out in the end, that I am loved and cared for, that there is justice, etc.

    3. I am truly afraid of dying and do not want to believe that this is the end.

    4. I guess it could be true, and I get to be part of a club, instant friends, people who “love” and will care for me just because of what I believe. Lots of activities, good social network.

    5. I was raised this way, I go to church, try to be a good person and hope to go to heaven when I die. Other than that, it has no real affect on my life.

    6. Constantly changing belief systems, new friends (till they get to know me or I get to know them), then on to something cooler.

    I guess that’s enough, there are a lot of ways to categorize the way a person “believes”. Most people, the vast majority do not act in concert with their professed beliefs and I have maintained that even when I was a Christian. People really don’t spend much, if any, time analyzing the implications or viability of what they believe. Their belief is based either on a personal emotional experience or or simply the result of parental/societal indoctrination.

    If I had a credible vision that made me truly believe that Dee would be killed in a car accident tomorrow (sorry Dee…) and that I could change this destiny by getting her to take a taxi instead, if I cared about her I would spend every last ounce of my energy starting with phone calls, taking a flight to talk in person to her, calling a cab for her myself, sabotaging her car so it won’t start and as a last resort nailing her door closed from the outside on the day in question in order to save her. Significantly more work than most people expend in a lifetime to “save” people who they “say” are going to hell for eternity.

    Let’s be honest, every decision that a person makes in terms of working a job, mowing the lawn, having a barbecue, going to the hairdresser, or watching a good episode of South Park, takes time away from rescuing human beings in danger of burning forever in flames. The hairdresser is more important than my soul, really?

    A person’s actions reflect their real beliefs far better than words or theology.

    I think most of the categories above, save number two, are normal responses to a variety of events in our life. I do not consider them to be dangerous, in fact I think they can and are, quite often, helpful, although as an atheist I think there are alternative options as well. Now, for those who fall strongly into category number two, I believe with all my heart that they are seriously self-deluded (since we are speaking truthfully here), and are in need of some help. I do not consider getting help a sign or weakness or something to made fun of, I think we all can use help from time to time, but for those who really truly believe they are in communion with an invisible deity who speaks to them directly and who’s actions are in concert with that belief, I think they are in need of some help and also represent a risk to those around them.

    I am sure many of you will disagree with me, but I’ve seen it many many times, it’s this type of extremism that drives people to fly planes into buildings, commit mass suicide, go on killing rampages or other less dramatic but equally self destructive types of behavior.

  234. Karl

    I made it to Birmingham safely with no car accidents! I was a little worried there.

    Let me address 2 A (There is a two 2s). 2 is the closest to me. None of the others fit. For example-#3-I am grateful for the comfort but that is merely a secondary benefit.

    My faith is the truth or, to make you less uncomfortable, I believe it to be the truth. However, I am always entertaining alternatives.I read the “it” atheists, I mosey on over to your blog, I read ExChristians. I read about other faiths and entertain their beliefs. I met with Mormons for 1 1/2 years . Conversed over years with a Hindu for over 5 years and read some of those works. Here is the bottom line. I am sure that I will not be dissuaded but I am not afraid to confront any perceived inconsistencies in my life.

    Also, God is afoot in my life. I do not need to work myself into a lather about how many people “I” need to save. God is present in all aspects of my life. Today i am with my daughter- we will shop, look at her studies, contemplate jobs for her and talk a whole bunch. The love between us is part of God’s plan. Her life and health is as important to him as anyone else. He gave us 24 hours to accomplish living which will involve all of life- not just “saving” another but that is always a part of who I am and what I do (So, Karl, Repent. :) ) OK done my witnessing for today. :)

    The whole story of the Bible is of a people who don’t always do what they know is true.Yet, as my pastor, Pete Brisoce, said: You know you are a Christian when you fall, and instead of laying in the dirt, you pick yourself up , brush yourself off and keep on until you fall again. In God’s economy, it is not the end result, it is the process one takes in getting to the end. God uses people in the faith to convict and exhort to encourage the faithful, who are lying in the dirt, to get up and continue. That is this blog which, I hope, challenges the inconsistencies. I think that many people who find their way to this blog are like me.

    Here is what I’ll give you There are far too many people in the faith who are so tenuous with the truth that they are afraid to look at any alternative. I know one man who was an ardent YE which is fine with me. One day he told me he had never read anything else. I encouraged him to go to some websites written by Christians who are OE/TE . The next week he told me he couldn’t handle it and stopped reading. Those folks are the type that never look beyond their nose and yet condemn those who can’t find the faith. His faith is a weak faith, mired in insecurity. Little does he know how, when looking at the world and universe, how big God really is.

    Karl, I know I frustrate you. But as I have said in the past, the more I strip away at all of the baggage that is imposed on the faith, the more I see the essential Jesus. In fact, my faith grows more profound the more I proceed.

    But I do thank you because you force us all to confront our inconsistencies and you reflect back to us what you hear. Some folks on this site have never had the chance to dialogue with a blue blooded atheist beyond a quick chat. I am grateful that you continue to challenge us. May you find blessings in this day.

    Now, I am going out in my car, avoiding all accidents.

  235. Dee,

    you don’t frustrate me at all, I know you aren’t going to “change” overnight, you have too much invested in your beliefs…maybe someday :), but I enjoy debating with you, because I know that you do consider other points of view.

    With regard to two 2s (or is it 2 twos?), anyway the first 2 is what I was referring to as bad.

    I want to comment more on what you said, but prefer to wait and see what others have to say

  236. Lydia… not sure I know how to reply, except to say what I have already said, which is that I am not referring to content, but to the way the content is expressed.

    Also… I am not a member of an SBC church, and I never have been. It’s like another world to me – one where a language is spoken that I don’t understand.

    I think many of us are expressing the same bedrock “A beliefs,” but … we don’t all word them in an identical way.

    I hope that makes sense; I honestly don’t know how else to say that we share “A beliefs” but (likely not) many “B beliefs.” (To use Deb and Dee’s way of putting it.)

    all the best,
    me

  237. “I am sure many of you will disagree with me, but I’ve seen it many many times, it’s this type of extremism that drives people to fly planes into buildings, commit mass suicide, go on killing rampages or other less dramatic but equally self destructive types of behavior.”

    The New Covenant Scripture teaches no such thing. Having firm beliefs in Jesus Christ would mean the opposite of the above…,it would mean laying down one’s life for another.

    And that is what this blog is about ultimately…what is the truth of the Word? It is not about those who twist the Word to have authority, position and place over others in the Body of marriage. They ARE also the humanists because they focus on man’s place and the concept of chain of being so prevelant in the world that they bring this worldly concept into the Body of Christ. Jesus warned about them.

    True Believers know better and are lowly servants not seeking place or position. That is why we look at fruit.

    But they boldly proclaim the truth and do not worry about the consequences of doing so. Perhaps if JTB had been nicer he could have kept his head. Or perhaps Stephen could have founda way not to offend the Pharisees? There are a ton of examples of how offended people are by the truth of the Word where no offense was meant. Only truth.

  238. Karl,

    There’s not a chance in (you know where) that Dee will ever renounce her faith; however, I’m enjoying the dialogue.

    Oops! I temporarily forgot that you don’t believe such a place exists. :-)

    Karl, I do enjoy your commentary because you help me understand how an atheist thinks. I am striving to understand…

  239. [mod editing - I had to fix some tags that were creating formmatting issues for all comments following this one. I'm fairly sure I didn't change any text or meaning. If I did please let us know so we can fix it.]

    Lydia,

    I’m afraid that historically that simply is not true and since you emphasized NT I’ll mention that while current theology maintains the NT supersedes the OT, it does so only in terms of keeping the Mosaic law as an mean to salvation, in no way can you dismiss the actions or laws of the OT based on that reasoning, and in fact, the early NT Church didn’t, especially groups such as the Ebionites.

    Slaughter
    And he brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes…” (I Chronicles 20:3)
    Chapters 17-19 (17-18-19) tells us that David killed 22,000 Syrians and that Abishai killed 18,000 Edomites. No one expresses shame at such slaughters. David, counted as a great leader of the Israelites, slaughtering captives after the cessation of hostilities. From what high moral ground should we admire this action?

    Decapitation
    And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.’” (Numbers 25:3-4)
    Those who worshipped other gods must die, and even more horribly, their heads displayed publicly. Either God never said anything so cruel, or we truly live in a cursed universe, ruled by a maniac Supreme Being. Millions of people, today, switch their religions. If God had any interest in this ongoing process, there appears no evidence of this.

    And Gideon said, Therefore when the Lord hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers” (Judges 8:7) Now Zebah and Zalmunna were Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.” (Judges 8:10)
    Some other of Gideon’s achievements…Gideon slaughtered thousands in battle by plotting with the “Lord” to use Treachery. Gideon murdered thousands more for worshipping “false Gods.” Gideon tortured and killed still more for daring to taunt him. Gideon plundered the bodies of his victims (to fashion a jeweled priestly vestment). Gideon fathered an offspring who killed 69 of his stepbrothers.

    Burried Alive
    And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense. (Numbers 16:32-35)
    Moses relays a sadistic threat that asks us to believe that God punishes members of families, including innocent infants. And again we have the Satanic fire coming from God burning his creations.

    God’s version of “No Child Left Behind”
    And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” (Exodus 12:29-30)
    The violent actions from the God described in Exodus cannot be a moral compass used to live our lives in a peaceful world.

    Pestilence
    “Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel…” (I Chronicles 21:12)

    “So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.” (I Chronicles 21:14)
    David made an offense against God in taking a census of the people, so God gave David a choice. Oddly enough, David ignores God and never actually gets around to making a choice; so the Lord makes the decision for him and sends pestilence upon Israel. It appears unclear as to why David committed a crime, but why shouldn’t God have punished individual offenders instead of killing an army of innocent bystanders? Atrocities such as this appear outrageous enough when perpetrated by Attila the Hun, Hitler or Pol Pot, but when it comes from a, supposedly, loving God, it should make one wonder if this represents a Devil instead of a God.

    Here comes the NAACP
    “And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots…” (II Chronicles 14:9) So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. (II Chronicles 14:12)
    The association of black with evil goes far back in Western Christian culture. The early Church fathers, Origen, Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo wrote about devils appearing as Ethiopians. In the story of Ham and Japheth, the word “ham” has connotations of “hot” and “dark” in Semitic languages. To the ancient Israelites, as well as some modern Jews and Christians, the “children of Ham” had dark skin and lived in eastern Africa. Thus they see the “Curse of Ham” as a link with black skin and sexual license.

    “And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.” (Exodus 11:4-5)
    After reading such verses, it would become apparent, even to a child, that this does not describe the actions of a loving Being. Anyone who reconciles the killing of innocent children with an intelligent and loving Creator can only come from great ignorance under the addiction of blind faith. And now, time for a quotation…”Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind. — Thomas Paine

    “But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such a one as goeth on still in his trespasses. The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea: That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same.” (Psalms 68:21-23)
    If anyone believes these sadistic words come from God, then it might serve prudence to stay away from such people. For anyone who holds to such beliefs may very well do the same to others.

    Mass Murder
    “And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.” (I Samuel 6:19)
    These verses should insult the intelligence of any person who thinks that God possesses a loving nature. One should not dismiss the Old Testament’s repeated demand for the vilest atrocities as something peculiar to the early Hebrews. Even today, our most atrocious wars, terrorism and hate crimes occur around the world based on ancient religious beliefs, many of them coming directly from verses in the Old and New Testament.

    Keeping the Kids in Line
    “And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God…” (Deuteronomy 13: 5) If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers (Deuteronomy 13: 6) Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. (Deuteronomy 13:8-9)
    These severe laws commanded the members of the Hebrew religion to murder even their own children if they did not worship Yahweh (God). These Bible words can justify, to a fanatical fundamentalist believer, the killing of friends or family simply because they may fail to change their beliefs.

    Gives a new meaning to “Women and children First”
    “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (I Samuel 15:2-3)
    No matter how one can justify possible crimes from adults, suckling infants have no means of acting out crimes. And what evil against God could the animals have possibly performed? Only an evil entity could kill innocent infants and animals, no matter what their parents and owners may have done.

    Kill the neighbor’s kids too
    “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:16-18)
    Moses commands the murder of approximately 100,000 young males and, roughly, 68,000 helpless women. Consider women and children of your own family: No matter how sick they may lay, or how they may go against a religion, how would you feel if a man named Moses, claiming to speak for God, sent men into your house and hacked to pieces the women and male children? Also, how would you react if they spotted a female child, dragged her off with them to do as they please with her? Note that these innocent virgins served for their own sexual pleasures. Midian, the land of the Midianites, did not reside in an area regarded as a natural enemy of Israel for centuries, and in fact lay hundreds of miles away from the Israelite encampment. Moses, himself, had lived in Midian as fugitive after committing his first murder. In short, Midian presented no threat to God’s “Chosen People.”

    She nailed it!
    “Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.” (Judges 4:21)
    In verse 16 the Israelites surprise Sisera’s army and that “there was not a man left,” except Sisera who deserts his army and flees, a deed punishable by court martial today. Sisera then goes to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber. Jael takes him in, hides him under a blanket, gives him milk to quench his thirst, and promises to stand guard at the door while he sleeps. Then Jael kills Sisera! We see no telling of the slightest shame, but rather, Jael proudly flaunts her kill. The author of this piece of Scripture makes it clear that the passage represents a deed, not only as grand and heroic but also consistent with the will of God (see Judges 4:23).

    The original Desert Storm
    “Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.” (Isaiah 13:15-16)
    These verses foretold the deaths of the people of Babylon. Fortunately not everyone in Babylon (now modern Iraq) fell by the sword or had their children dashed to pieces or their wives raped (just another instance of errors in the Bible). How some people who believe in an infallible Bible can accept these verses as God inspired, or morally uplifting can only give evidence to the blinding nature of belief. For if we believe these words as God inspired, then the killing of children and the raping of wives must also come as an inspiration from the Supreme Being.

    An Inspiration to murder abortion doctors
    “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made the man.” (Genesis 9:5-6)
    Some anti-abortionists have used these words to justify the killing of abortionists. As such, these words helped inspire Michael Griffin to kill Doctor David Gunn on March 10, 1993. Consider that the Bible never directly addresses abortion, much the less the condemnation of it. On the contrary, God himself has condoned, not only miscarriages, but has personally called for the killing of suckling infants and the bashing of children against the rocks.

    “And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain.” (Deuteronomy 2:34) “And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Hesbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city. But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities we took for a prey to ourselves.” (Deuteronomy 3:6-7)
    Such words helped give justification to mediaeval Crusaders who slaughtered men, women and children along their way to Jerusalem and stole the spoils of the cities. Even today, many Christian military men use Scripture to justify their actions. If any soldier harbors doubt about killing his fellow humans, he need only consult a military chaplain or read the Bible to calm their worries. Even George Bush (the First), with Billy Graham beside him, proclaimed the Gulf War as “moral.” George Bush (the Second) continued in his father’s steps by killing thousands of Iraqi civilians in the Iraqi war. Such moral wars result in thousands of “utterly destroyed” innocent men, women and children. (For a few more examples [but not all] see also Deuteronomy 3:3, 7:2, 20:16-17 , 25:19; Joshua 6:21, 8:26, 10-28-40; Numbers 31:17-18; I Samuel 15:3; Isaiah 13:16; and Hosea 13:16)

    I need God for Morals?
    “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and woman: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” (Ezekiel 9:5-6)
    These words, commanded by God, orders the slaying of not only women and the old, but of little children. These accounts of cold-blooded massacres occurred simply because people refused to accept Yahweh. These phrases should give warning to anyone who knows a person who believes every word in the Bible. For what sense of moral reasoning should we allow ourselves to admire such Biblical verses?

    Washing Feet?
    “The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance. He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” (Psalms 58:10)
    How many “good” Christians realize that such a verse appears in the Bible? Of course most preachers keep these bloodthirsty words away from their congregations, and the few Christians who do come across these verses, re-interpret them for their own purposes, not realizing the impact these words can have on others. Unfortunately the few that take these verses literally can justify atrocities against anyone who they wish to define as “wicked.”

    Utter Destruction
    “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.” (Deuteronomy 12:2-3)
    “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own– a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.” — Albert Einstein

    Before anyone says “but Jesus said…” please keep in mind, Jesus IS God, you cannot separate the two. There are no words there is no action which can wash away the stench, filth and immorality perpetrated and encouraged by the God of the OT. This is the being (if He exists at all, which isn’t likely) that you wish to model your life, philosophy and humanity after? You cannot dismiss it simply because the writer’s of the NT were kind enough to record the sermon on the mount. If this IS the same person…talk about a psychotic sociopath.

  240. “Don, and I say this without one iota of sarcasm. I hope that someday you get some help. That is not intended as a put down or sarcasm. I truly think that people who think the way you do and actually take action based on those beliefs must be hurting inside, are deluded or have issues that require a professional. ” ~ Karlton Kamerait

    “Take action”? I have taken action by showing what holy scripture says Christians must believe, about anyone who claims Christ and then rejects Christ. I’ve written what I did to show that if you have truly rejected Jesus Christ after knowing him, anything you say here about Christian experience, especially my Christian experience of the Holy Spirit, can’t be trusted, because you’ve believed a demonic lie and have rejected the revelation and salvation of Jesus Christ.

    Two New Testament epistles speak precisely to your situation, and I have shared them above in order to show why I can’t accept your remarks and why no born-again Christian should accept your remarks.

    I can’t imagine what other “action” you might be contemplating. Scripture gives me no further instruction on this, and I agree with Paul that my actions and words must flow from God’s love for you and the others reading here. You can’t legitimately draw any other conclusion about my thinking, based on my own words.

    Regarding whether I need “some help” that “require[s] a professional,” that must be your reaction to reading Spirit-breathed scripture about your own condition, and perhaps my scripture-based description to numo about the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth.

    If you think I’m losing mind for actually believing New Testament holy scripture as written, I refer you (and others) to the following scriptures. They shed light on what Christians should consider regarding a sound mind.

    1. [The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians]
    If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.” ~ 2 Cor 12.

    2. [Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God and heals many people.]
    Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” ~Mark 3
    [his family later repented -- changed their minds -- and became his followers.]

    3. [Rhoda, a servant, responds to knocking at a door, after Apostle Peter has been miraculously released from prison by an angel.]
    When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”

    “You’re out of your mind,” they told her….But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.” ~ Acts 12

    4. [The imprisoned Paul describes his open-heaven encounter with the risen Christ, on the road to Damascus, to the Roman governor, Felix. Then he continues speaking. Read carefully what Paul states is "true and reasonable"!]
    “I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen – that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

    At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

    “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

    Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

    Paul replied, “Short time or long — I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

    The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.” ~ Acts 26

    5. [The gospels and Acts teach that the preaching of the good news of Jesus, and the coming of the Kingdom of God, is accompanied/confirmed by signs and wonders, which push back darkness and expand the Kingdom of God by saving, healing and delivering (Greek: sozo) humans out of darkness into the Kingdom of God.

    [In Luke 8, Jesus travels to the region of the Gerasenes, and delivers a man made insane through the filling of many demons.]
    When the [Gerasene pig-herders] came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.”

    6. [Paul writes from prison to his protege, Timothy, to encourage him in pastoring his congregations]
    For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…. ~ 2 Tim 1:7-8

    [end]

    You question my sanity, Karl, but I stand on the Word of God: it says that:

    1) my status in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ gives me a sound mind when I submit my thinking and actions to Jesus’ commands, and especially when I properly recite the gospel from holy scripture.

    2) anyone who has known and rejected Jesus Christ absolutely, has done so through the spirit of antichrist, which has lied to that person and led them away from Christ with that person’s cooperation. By Jesus’ own words, one who rejects Jesus is a “blind guide” — unsuitable to offer reliable spiritual truth.

    You may have interesting things to say about humanistic philosophy or history, Karl, but scripture will not allow me to accept anything you say regarding the validity, or quality, of my own spiritual experiences with God.

    Nor can I ever accept any statement you make, such as you have made above, that would encourage me to equate Christian spiritual experiences with those of any religion that does not bow the knee to the authority of Jesus Christ.

    Karl, I request you respect the authority of Christian scripture on this blog — run and administered by Christians — by refraining from any further statements to the effect that if we adhere to the clear teaching of New Testament scripture, it is evidence we need “professional help.”

    If you continue to make such statements, I will have to conclude that your goal is not to help, but rather to accuse, confuse, divide and discourage the saints of God.

    I also caution Christians here not to take seriously any statements Karl makes regarding Christian scripture, doctrine and experience. He has rejected the truth and authority of scripture after knowing them for years. He has also stated that following the teachings of scripture inevitably leads to the oppression of others, which is an inflammatory lie that ignores the huge, almost incalculable, positive impact Christianity has made in the world since the First Century.

  241. Don,

    You are free to believe whatever you like, I may think you little off your rocker, you might disagree, that’s ok.

    But unless you have some standing I’m not aware of, then I don’t see where you have any basis for telling me what to say or not say on this blog. I have never been criticized by the people who run the blog, in fact quite the opposite. If you have a problem with what I say and think I shouldn’t be allowed then maybe you should take that up with Dee or Deb since it’s their blog not yours.

    I’ve never said anything about the quality of your experiences, I’m sure that to you, they are quite real, and if you think that because I’ve left the faith that somehow that translates into being unable to point out flawed logic or comment on what scripture says, then you are indeed sadly deluded.

    Did I make any statements in the post before yours with which you disagree on a theological basis, if so please point them out and we can have a nice discussion .. but like most people of your ilk, you prefer to just hand wave away the things which you don’t like and to to get others to do the same. All manner of discussion, reasoning, logic and critical thinking skills seem to have withered away from lack of use.

    I know you think I have lost my soul and will spend eternity in hell, while I on the other hand think that you have squandered away the only life you have, but at least, in an ironic twist or fate, when you die, you won’t realize what you’ve lost.

  242. A note to my friends, please read Don’s post above and see if you can 5 things that indicate and abusive relationship.

    1. I have taken action by showing what holy scripture says Christians must believe, about anyone who claims Christ and then rejects Christ.
    Really? The verse in Hebrews about someone who leaves being unable to return, has more than 1 or even 2 different interpretations…but apparently Don’s is the correct one.

    nything you say here about Christian experience, especially my Christian experience of the Holy Spirit, can’t be trusted, because you’ve believed a demonic lie and have rejected the revelation and salvation of Jesus Christ.
    No Comment needed.

    Come on, join in guys, I’ll print off a certificate of completion in the humanities for anyone who can find 5 things.

    :)

  243. Karl said: I think most of the categories above, save number two, are normal responses to a variety of events in our life. I do not consider them to be dangerous, in fact I think they can and are, quite often, helpful, although as an atheist I think there are alternative options as well. Now, for those who fall strongly into category number two, I believe with all my heart that they are seriously self-deluded (since we are speaking truthfully here), and are in need of some help. I do not consider getting help a sign or weakness or something to made fun of, I think we all can use help from time to time, but for those who really truly believe they are in communion with an invisible deity who speaks to them directly and who’s actions are in concert with that belief, I think they are in need of some help and also represent a risk to those around them.

    I am sure many of you will disagree with me, but I’ve seen it many many times, it’s this type of extremism that drives people to fly planes into buildings, commit mass suicide, go on killing rampages or other less dramatic but equally self destructive types of behavior.

    Karl,

    I realize that from an Atheist perspective, all true belief looks the same. But in the case of Christ, you have got it completely wrong. True faith in Christ results in people who give, and who give, and who give some more. They will be among those helping in a crisis, bringing food to your door. They will be the ones you can go to for comfort, the ones that will give till they have no more to give if that is what it takes.

    The Christian faith in no way allows for the taking up of arms in the name of the religion, or in defense of it’s God. When people do that ostensibly claiming Christ as their reason, they have missed it somewhere.

    Secondarily. And perhaps more importantly from your perspective, you are seriously misguided if you think that a lack of religion is any real safeguard against violent extremism. All one needs to do to see how that plays out is to look at the track record of the officially Atheist governments of the world.

    Human nature is the problem Karl. And though many claim Christ and do not live up to His calling, the reality is the ONLY way I know of to truly change that base nature is to be reborn through faith in Him.

    Zeta

  244. Karl,

    Though I understand, and struggle with, the kinds of violent and heinous (by our cultures standards acts) you mention in the OT, the Christian Faith is defined by the and in light of the New Testament.

    I think there are some things you simply ignore about the OT, and one of those is the time and culture in which the OT was written. For the most part, it was kill or be killed, and the OT is eye for an eye.

    In the NT, Christ frees us from the bondage of the law and brings us a NEW way to be right with God that carries with it none of the negatives of the Law.

    Zeta

  245. “I’m afraid that historically that simply is not true and since you emphasized NT I’ll mention that while current theology maintains the NT supersedes the OT, it does so only in terms of keeping the Mosaic law as an mean to salvation, in no way can you dismiss the actions or laws of the OT based on that reasoning, and in fact, the early NT Church didn’t, especially groups such as the Ebionites.”

    Karlton, I am a Gentile. The Mosaic law means nothing to me except that it points to our need for a Savior.

  246. Zeta and Lydia,

    On the OT problems…the point being, regardless of what type of culture existed, wholesale slaughter of women and children and the taking of virgins as war trophies, while it may have been common practice is still indefensible as moral or ethical behavior and even more so when those actions are commandments of God. That the NT portrays a kinder gentler God (well, if you exclude Revelation), in no way washes away the atrocities of the OT.

    For me, even if I believed in the supernatural, I certainly wouldn’t want to model my life or encourage anyone else to model their life after such inexcusable horror and I have yet to hear a justifiable excuse for doing so.

  247. Karlton,

    God had already wiped the earth clean except for a handfull of righteous people because of the wickedness. You make the mistake of believing people… were innocent. None of us are.

    And what did our mean wrathful God do? He hung on a Cross to take punishment for our sin. Why didn’t He just wipe us out?

    But first He lived among us to show us how we are to live. Who did Jesus Christ kill but Himself?

    But, if you think the Wrath of the OT is horrible then wait until Jesus Christ , Lord of Hosts, comes back.

    Only fools want to model themselves after any OT character. David would be in jail as would Solomon.Unfortuantly, many preach just that about the OT instead of it as a narrative pointing to Messiah. Like you, they claim the Mosaic law as part of salvation. Which is silly since the early church became mostly Gentile within a short time and Mosaic law would be meaningless to them.

    I know none of what I say convinces you and quite frankly, it is not really for you. Using the OT is the oldest trick in the book to try and convince folks to hate God.

    But what surprises me is that you give the OT any cred at all. Why would it offend you if none of it is true? Or are you just trying to convince immature believers here to doubt?

  248. It is not the people of the OT I have a problem with, per se, it is that God commanded these actions. I understand that people sometimes do terrible things, but if you believe what the Bible says is true then you have to reconcile the atrocities committed as a result of God’s command.

    Yes, I am sure that there were people who God killed or ordered to be killed that we might consider “bad” people or at least not be bothered by it so much, but come on, hundreds of thousands, and what about innocent children, animals, giving virgins over to be raped, how can you possibly condone those actions with any kind of rational thought?

    As to why it offends me, that’s easier to explain…you are right in the sense that I don’t believe there is any rational reason to believe in the supernatural, but that does not mean the things described in the Bible aren’t accurate in terms of describing human events and battles. What offends me is that people who are quick to embrace the God of the NT never really seem to spend any effort in reconciling the behavior of God in the OT, they seem to just shrug it off, almost as if to say, well that’s all in the past now.

    I do not understand how anyone can look at what God did or commanded others to do in the OT and think that this is someone to follow, worship or emulate.

  249. “I do not understand how anyone can look at what God did or commanded others to do in the OT and think that this is someone to follow, worship or emulate.”

    Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is not someone to emulate?

  250. Lydia,

    I do not understand how you can believe that God committed all those atrocities and at the same time think of Him as a role model.

    Please help me understand your reasoning on this.

  251. Lydia,

    It’s pretty clear to me now what Karlton’s agenda is. He’s obviously done a lot of research in atheist “apologetics” before presenting his accusations against the authority of scripture, God’s holiness and justice. I’d suggest you do some research of your own, before responding to him – if you even want to go down that path.

    I’m not here to defend God against an atheist’s charges, so I’m jumping off the merry-go-round.

  252. Lydia and Others,

    You (We) are not addressing Karlton’s question. And it is obvious. And I think I understand why, most of us don’t really know why God commanded those things. We can guess – we can trust there was a good reason, but explaining it is pretty much impossible.

    If what God is described as ordering in the OT is ok, then why is what Islamic extremists doing wrong? From their perspective, we are just as ‘ungodly’ as the philistines where to Israel.

    These questions can’t just be dismissed by telling Karl he is evil for asking the question.

    Now Karl, I ask the questions myself. And I have only partial answers. But I do believe I know God through Christ, yet I also believe God is a being beyond my true capability to fully understand. One of the things we must face when asking the question of why did God do what He did is that God allowed Satan to be in the Garden. And in allowing that He allowed ALL the evil that has come as a result of Adam’s sin. He has a plan that is unfolding, and in some cases this plan has an ugly side. It is a plan that allows mankind the ability to chose evil and implement evil upon each other, sometimes to whatever extreme we can imagine.

    But in the end, regardless of whether we can figure this stuff out ‘for sure’, most of us that are Christians accept that while God may have commanded these things for some purpose, He would not command them today. That is, I know of few if any true believers that would think it is our responsibility to wipe out unbelievers. In the NT, judgment for sin is left partially in the hands of Government, and Fully in the hand of God.

    I think most of the reticence you see in answering directly the question is that no matter whether we have a good answer or not, one can’t judge God. You think you can, but the creator of the universe, the one who defines what is right and what is wrong simply can’t be ‘wrong’ in the literal sense. He is the one who sets the rules.

    But we are told in scripture that He is a just God. And so that means that no matter what He does that appears unjust, in the end it really isn’t. And you and I, in the end, will acknowledge that fact.

    I would ask you to think of someone you’ve know whose intelligence was far vaster than your own. Does it not seem sometimes that the way they think seems arbitrary to your and my way of doing things? Doesn’t it seem that they just don’t seem to have enough information to make the conclusions they do, yet most of the time they are right and we are left trying to figure out how they were?

    I would say trying to figure out God is a bit like that, only about a trillion times worse. So while you or I may see no valid reason for what we see in the OT, that does not mean there is not a valid reason. Nor does it mean you or I or anyone else on the planet today would be justified in repeating the event.

    The danger is that fact can, and is, used to justify all sorts of evil. But that goes back to the unredeemed nature of man which will use whatever is available to get its way. In reality, this truth should never be an excuse for true evil. But often it is. That in and of itself does not make God, or belief in God, bad. But it does point out the scriptural truth that sin, being utterly sinful, will use that which is good to perpetuate its own evil. We see this in priest pedophiles, in abortion clinic bombers, in pastors who abuse their flock.

    Evil in the heart of man has only one solution. Christ. And we can only have the power to make sure we solve one of those 6+ billion problems with sin

    - our own -

    So the evil in my ‘heart’ I’m responsible to God (and man) about, and the evil in your ‘heart’, you are responsible to God (and man) for. And insomuch as we solve the problem of evil on our own ‘hearts’ (which I believe is only possible in Chirst), and present to others that availability of that solution for them, we have helped reduce the problem of evil over all.

    Zeta

  253. Don,

    No answer would be good enough for Karlton. His agenda has shown through in many threads.

    But then, one has to realize how lost they are to understand that the same One True God of the OT Who is Sovereign, full of mercy, grace, wrath and justice came in the person of Jesus Christ and hung on a Cross for our sin…to take the punishment we deserve.

    If that is not mercy, love and grace, I do not know what is.

  254. These questions can’t just be dismissed by telling Karl he is evil for asking the question.

    Exactly!

  255. Lydia,

    You made several statements about me that I’d like to correct.

    First, “atheist apologetics” I’m not even sure what that might be. I know these things because I spent 25 years as a believer who read the Bible back to front more than a few times. I was immersed in it, and theology and in witnessing to the Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons for quite a bit of time.

    Second, You say I have an agenda and “no answer” would be good enough for me. That is simply untrue and I am a bit surprised that you would make that assumption. As I have stated, I am more than willing to reconsider and change my position on anything, including the supernatural and evidence for God if ever sufficient objective evidence is presented. To date it never has been, but that’s not my fault.

    Thirdly, Zeta hit the nail on the head, you can’t simply ignore the questions, refuse to consider them, close your eyes and keep repeating “God is love, God is love.”, this isn’t the land of Oz and you’re not Dorothy.

    Whatever a human chooses to believe, they must make a decision at some point as to whether or not those beliefs have sufficient impact on their lives to warrant expending the time and energy to validate their truth. Based on your and Don’s and may other people’s claims I would think that your eternal future would be worth that time, but based on your actions of not wanting to discuss or sway me with your well thought out reasons, maybe I should conclude otherwise.

    I can respect a person’s faith, even if I disagree with the reasons that fuel it as long as they have obviously given it the time, thought, research and can articulate the reasons for their belief. I have no reason, however, to respect anyone’s belief when it seems that can’t even muster a minimal explanation of support.

    Since apologetics seems to be on the table here, let me close with the favorite verse of virtually anyone involved in Christian apologetics, the apostle Peter said it best..

    “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

  256. “But then, one has to realize how lost they are to understand that the same One True God of the OT Who is Sovereign, full of mercy, grace, wrath and justice came in the person of Jesus Christ and hung on a Cross for our sin…to take the punishment we deserve”

    Karlton,

    I gave you my answer above. And I am not one who says that God is ONLY love. I thought that was clear in my answer above.

    But there is something I have noticed not just with you but with even some celebrity Christians who get into the political arena….they
    avoid Jesus Christ like the plague. You have done this on many threads. You mention “God” even when my answer to you has been about the person of Jesus Christ within the One True God. You seem not to want to acknowledge Jesus Christ. I understand this fully.

    I have seen this in large venues and small ones. A few years back at the National Day of Prayer, the Dobsons along with apologist Ravi Zacharius, agreed to not mention the Name of Jesus so as not to offend people.

    I am uncomfortble helping you denounce “God”. You are not simply an atheist but claim to be committed former believer. If you really wanted an answer, you would have respected the one I gave you as sufficient since you claim to respect my beliefs. But we know this is not true because at the same time claiming such beliefs are abusive and those who hold them are sick.

    I have also noticed you are fine until someone starts really delving into the Word and teaching it.

    And the scripture you gave above is not about explaining God’s actions in the OT. It is about the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

    Here is the best explanation I can give about God in the OT:

    Romans 9

    10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”[d] 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

    16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

    19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

    22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:

    “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
    and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”[i]

    26 and,

    “In the very place where it was said to them,
    ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”

    27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

    “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
    only the remnant will be saved.
    28 For the Lord will carry out
    his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”[k]

    29 It is just as Isaiah said previously:

    “Unless the Lord Almighty
    had left us descendants,
    we would have become like Sodom,
    we would have been like Gomorrah.”[l]

    30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
    “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall,
    and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[m

  257. Lydia,

    First off, whether I said Jesus or God, I promise I am not uncomfortable with either one. I use God when speaking of the OT or in a general sense to cover not just Christianity but when I am speaking of religion in general, I use Jesus when speaking about Him in particular, something he said or something written about Him.

    Second, I understand and appreciate your answer. You basically are saying whatever God did was OK or acceptable because he says that he has the right to do it because He made us…the maker and the clay parable, am I correct?

  258. “Second, I understand and appreciate your answer. You basically are saying whatever God did was OK or acceptable because he says that he has the right to do it because He made us…the maker and the clay parable, am I correct?”

    Basically Yes, Karlton but there is more to it that I do not care to get into with you because you have made it clear you do not seek to know Jesus Christ but have denounced Him. Matthew 7:6

    Let’s just say I am a simple “fool” for Christ.

  259. To friends on this board: 1 Tim 6: 20-21

    20 Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. 21 Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. (NLT)

  260. Lydia,

    but there is more to it that I do not care to get into with you because you have made it clear you do not seek to know Jesus Christ

    Self-centered hubris masquerading as righteousness and humility using the Bible to justify it’s existence. This is the legacy of Christianity, this is what will bring even more injustice, conflict and intolerance into the world.

    Give me a humanist that is willing to have an educated dialog, put ideas on the table, leave no stone unturned in an effort to better himself and humanity. I’ll take that any day of the week compared to the rigid, blind and unexamined adherence to the ancient stories and philosophies of the iron age.

    a fool for Christ, maybe so, but personally I would never take pride in being anyone’s fool.

  261. Karl, Lydia and others …

    I don’t think name calling will accomplish much. Karl, if your goal is to disparage our faith, the Lydia is probably right, the discussion probably should move on. But I was taking some of what you were saying as honest questions about the faith, legitimate questions to ask, questions that do not have simple answers.

    I endeavored to address some of the content of those questions, but you seem more focused on those that would dismiss you as a crusader for humanism rather than a person with legit questions trying to understand.

    So are you interested in real discussion of the issue(s) you’ve raised? Or are some of those cutting you off correct in their assumption you are not particularly interested in discussion, but rather just disparaging our faith?

    If that is the case, then have you not joined the ranks of those with self – centered hubris using dogma to justify your own view and disparaging those that do not instantly acknowledge you as correct?

    At this point I’m not seeing a lot of difference between you and those you criticize and appear to consider yourself better than.

    But if you actually are interested in real discussion of the issue, I will be glad to continue.

    Zeta

  262. Jim (zeta, orion’s belt .. getting lost in the names here :),

    I think you know me better than that. My goal, if you want to call it that, is to challenge people to think about their faith. It is not faith that I have an issue with, but rather what I call “ignorant faith”.

    I think we all (myself included), owe it to ourselves to follow a path based on reason and sound judgement. I do not want to be, nor do I think I am qualified to be the arbiter of what constitutes sound judgement but I believe that faith should be an intelligent faith, a reasoned faith. I agree completely with what Peter said about being ready to give to every man an answer, a reason for the faith that lies within you.

    For 25 years while I witnessed to the cults the thing that upset me the most was that the vast majority of Christians do not understand their own religion, have no idea of the history, culture, and theological musings of both those who defended the faith, those who caused the great schisms and those who were cast aside as heretics or unbelievers.

    How can a person truly say that this is the most important thing in their life and not be able or willing to discuss it or be unable to articulate an intelligent reason for their faith, beyond saying “I believe because I believe, or I believe it’s true because I know it is”. How can people of good conscious dismiss those who disagree or those who want to at least discuss and find some middle ground on the issues which divide humanity and have potential to cause great harm.

    I harbor no ill will toward Lydia or Don, but how can we, as a society, have intelligent discussions when so many who profess faith and love, in the same breath would dismiss those outside of the faith as Antichrists, liars or unwittingly doing the work of the devil?

    That sentiment is straight from the great inquisitions, the witch hunts and more recently people like the members of the Westboro Baptist church, it is based in fear and ignorance. It is that which I want to illuminate and if possible, help others to recognize.

    I still have many people of faith in my life as friends, and for those of you that don’t know, my wife. I still have a large soft spot in my heart for many things from past. They may seem silly to you but I love the music, the ideals of love and compassion and I understand that believing in something greater than yourself can help many times in life.

    My wife and I disagree about many things regarding religion, but I love her dearly as she loves me. I respect her beliefs because we have had many long night conversations. I understand her reasons for believing and she understands why I am an atheist and cannot believe. I have a daughter who believes and a son who does not. If we cannot learn to dialog and examine our beliefs on both sides, then where are we?

  263. Karl,

    Sorry about the name thing. I like to tie my ‘name’ (orion’sbelt) and the posting identify (Zeta). Zeta Orionis is the leftmost, co-brightest, and to me the most interesting star in Orion’s Belt. So, though I try to be consistent, sometimes if I get wrapped up in what I’m writing, sometimes I forget. On more than one occasion, the M/WBTC is kind enough to help me stay consistent.

    Oh, and I’m not taking the ‘Zeta’ because I think I myself am a ‘bright star’, but rather just because Zeta is a very interesting star observationally, having both the flame and horsehead nebula in the same eyepiece view at low power. It also happens to be the brightest visible Blue supergiant star. So, by keeping them correlated, if anyone decides to look up to correlation, they’ll get a chance to learn a little about the heavens.

    I tend to agree with your post, with the idea that we should seek a rational understanding of our faith, or our worldview in general. But that is not always possible in the complete sense. Faith is not necessarily always a rational thing. Indeed, none of the ‘three greatest things’ in 1 Corinthians 13 is necessarily rational (though they have a rational component). Faith, Hope, and Love all clearly have both the irrational and the rational entwined. It is part of what makes us human.

    I guess at this time I’m thinking of Data and Spock on Star Trek. Here they become the objectification of all of our struggles to integrate emotion and faith with the rational. And though Spock was ultimately somewhat successful, one of the more fun aspects of TNG was watching Data struggle with and highlight those distinctly irrational components of who we are that make us not just a machine, and made it so difficult for Him to become ‘fully’ human. These aspects of who we are are not necessarily something that can be simulated by an ‘algorithm’.

    We’ve talked before about some of the subjective things that define my faith. And though I try to balance those with the rational, I would not trade or ever try to explain them away in some coo of the rational over the irrational. I need both sides to be ‘me’, to be the person I believe God created me to be. And I think when we tend too much to one side or the other, we can easily become imbalanced as people.

    Now the specific issues you raise. I’d like to start with the following – the slaughter of the children. While I do not understand that, it is clearly possible that in the grand scheme of things, in a scenario that admits, God/heaven etc, these acts where the ‘best’ solution available at the time.

    But that can NEVER be true if all one admits to the picture is the natural. If all there is is the natural, then it was indeed a bad thing, and likely the equivalent of what the Islamic fanatics do today strapping bombs to themselves.

    But if we admit the possibility of God, of the supernatural, then we realize death is not the end. It is possible that in that time, in that culture, in those circumstances, sending those children immediately to be with God may well have been the best decision.

    This does not then lead to the conclusion it is in general ‘best’ to slaughter everyone in a battle so the kids can go to heaven. We are not talking about a general case here. We are talking about a very specific situation, and even more specifically the absolute statement that IF God actually commanded these acts, then He is necessarily evil. And clearly, as I just outlined, If there is a God, and if Heaven exists, and if the innocent go straight to heaven, then your claim God is necessarily evil by having children slaughtered is clearly false.

    And that I think is the main point I’d like to make. You have made an absolute statement in response to a difficult to understand set of passages. And that is always a dangerous way to go. There will ALWAYS be aspects of God we can’t understand. If we demand we have the answer, or if we can’t have faith in spite of the appearance of things, we can’t continue to follow Him.

    Remember when Jesus told everyone that unless they eat His Body and drink His Blood and all but the 12 walked away? Well, we know now he was not advocating cannibalism. But the disciples didn’t. Though I guarantee you that by that time the probably suspected there was more to that statement than just the words themselves. They had developed faith to trust that this was not what it appeared to be on the surface.

    I’d be willing to bet that of the items you referenced, every one of them has a real component that we don’t know about that renders your conclusion about God false.

    But we can’t know what we need to know the pass judgment on these accounts. We can know that those actions can’t be under taken as part of Christ’s teaching, as part of the New Covenant, in this day and age. And that if a person today, under the New Covenant, says ‘God told be to slaughter everyone’, they are deceived, led themselves by evil and/or the Evil One.

    For me, my experience with God to this point, the faith that is taught IN CHRIST, and all the good in my life as a result of following Him allow me to trust that though I don’t really understand those passages, your conclusion they imply God is evil is just simply not true.

    Zeta

  264. While the man who shoots his wife may have had a good reason for doing so, if you don’t have any evidence to sustain that position then the only reasonable response is to conclude the man is a monster.

    I would actually reverse your logic when you said that “it may have been the best possible solution”…if it was a natural event, then I could attribute it to bad men or soldiers. When it is God, by virtue of being omnipotent, He was under no particular constraints that made one solution better than another, He could just as easily have brought their parents back to life and moved the whole tribe to a a valley far from harm or any one of a million other fanciful ideas we might come up with, one is not more likely or difficult than another…so I am still left with Him being an evil monster.

    So, when the person in the 21st century goes on a killing spree because he said God told him to, isn’t a bit hypocritical not to cut him the same slack as the OT patriarchs, why are they less crazy then the guy down the street?

  265. Actually Karl, the problem is you can’t apply reasoning oriented toward what a man would be toward figuring out who God is. That is called anthropomorphism.

    And it is something you Humanists complain about. But isn’t it odd – If you see something in the Bible that makes God kind of Human, you say “see, this is just somebodies imagination, a man’s idealization of what God should be like”. But then when you come across something God does you don’t get, you say “This can’t be a real loving and just God, because a real loving and just God would not do that”. Do you get the double standard there Karl? The logical inconsistency?

    So what is it that makes for a true revelation of God Karl? Which is the more likely to be something that actually tells us about a real omnipotent being that created all there is.

    1) A god who does everything just like you think he ought to. A god that looks more or less like just a more powerful version of Karl.

    2) A God that often can’t be figured out, but who does extraordinary things, things unexpected, things that don’t necessarily make sense on the surface.

    And which do you think is more likely – that we would just instantly get everything about this revealed God, or that it might take a lot of time to even figure out part of who He turns out to be, and that there would be aspects of what He reveals about Himself that will never make sense to us? Things He does that will forever seem ‘wrong’ to us.

    The bottom line Karl is this: We don’t get to define God. If He is real, He is something we will never completely get and likely very different that what we would necessarily expect.

    So starting with the Cross, with God’s supreme manifestation of His Love, we see the ruler of the universe lower himself and take on himself all we deserve.
    That is something that truly makes no sense … unless He does, after all, truly care for each of us.

    This he did so we could be free from the stain and guilt of sin. If we receive that gift from Him, our minds are transformed, our nature changed. We can not even really begin to understand God till that happens. But we NEVER fully understand Him.

    “Aslan is not a tame lion”

    Zeta

  266. Karl – to answer your last question:

    “So, when the person in the 21st century goes on a killing spree because he said God told him to, isn’t a bit hypocritical not to cut him the same slack as the OT patriarchs, why are they less crazy then the guy down the street?”

    No. Because we do not live under the same covenant nor in the same culture as did the OT patriarchs. As I said in my previous post, we live now in the revelation of CHRIST. Christ fulfilled the law, and we now have a covenant where God’s law is written in our hearts. Things are not the same spiritually NOW as they were THEN.

    Karl, let me try reasoning with you from what you do believe to be true. You believe mankind evolved. Ok, lets suppose there is a God, and He has chosen to develop mankind at least in part through natural processes. Would it not be expected that God’s revelation to man would change as man progressed? That we just were not ready for certain elements of the revelation of God until certain points in our history? So is it really all that surprising, based on what you believe to be true, that a God, if He exists, might interact with primitive man on an more primitive level? And that what was best 4000 years ago might no longer be best?

    Zeta

  267. “I am the Lord thy God, I change not!” Malachi 3:6

    Regarding anthropomorphizing – no contradiction at all, my questions are to someone who believes He exists and is loving, since I don’t find any evidence of his existence, the mass murders etc. are nothing more than a reflection of what was considered normal in that time. But since you believe in a God, which by His own declaration does not change, then the burden is yours to demonstrate under what conditions murder, rape and genocide are not evil.

    A wise old professor of mine once said “There are only two things you can know for certain about another person, what they say and what they do”. You say that God’s ways are a mystery to you, I would maintain that my ways are equally mysterious to you, you cannot know or discern my inner working, motives or emotions all you know about me, you learn by what I say and do. So, even though there are many things about God that you believe are beyond comprehension, certainly you must believe that there are things which you can know, based on His actions. For evidence I offer your argument that he is a loving God based on Jesus’ sacrifice, but if that sacrifice demonstrates His love, why don’t the atrocities committed and ordered by Him prove his evil nature?

    Why do you preferentially give more weight to one class of actions than the other?

    The last point, to me seems a bit of a dual standard on your part Jim. While I might argue that there existed many peaceful cultures with codification of laws, justice and in general peaceful societies even a thousand years before the time of King David (so obviously it wasn’t a case of capacity to understand). You have a more difficult position. In your case, you believe that God created Adam and Eve and that they lived peacefully in the Garden of eden, full formed mentally, so to speak, so what possible justification could there be for different behaviors in that case?

    Also, it is typically Christians that continually try to make a case for an objective, universal morality. In that case if murder is wrong it is always wrong, not just wrong for some cultures at some times…that’s the Christian argument, not mine, but it does create a problem.

  268. Your position and belief system certainly reflects a very loose and liberal posture. I am sorry you see everything “abusive” when it comes to Biblical standards of conduct taught or preached by a Bible believing teacher or minister. I grew up in a “legalistic” smaller Church environment which hindered by spiritual growth and understanding of salvation and sanctification, which are both received by grace alone and not by works as Galatians reminds us so cleaerly. However, I do not classify those folks as being abusive to me personally as if to try and stifle my life. They meant well as they understood the scriptures, but I consider their approach wrong and more harmful in terms of “spiritual” issues than any physical aspects at all. But again, they believed they were on the correct path and that is their right and I have no right to “start a huge campaign to stop them or change them” in a unlawful or coercive manner. We have so many cults out there today we would work day and night to get this straight and it would not work and even we ourselves have our own personal problems and weaknesses. You must realize none of us are perfect even if you think so and believe your position is 100% correct. Being that way makes one a abuser under your sites definition it seems to me. Think about Islamic Muslims who have a doctrinal dogma which is so abusive in so many aspects it is just plain absurd and actually evil in relation to human rights and life in general. Yet, we see no one getting real upset about them, perhaps a few, but not many in this pluralistic accept anything society! There is you know absolute truth and relativism doesn’t work when it comes to God’s word and so we study hard to understand what He says and not what we want or what we would like or what we may think. Coming down on His side is always safe even though you may not understand all of the ramifications or underlying point! I think it would be best if we all “got a life” and began to live for God as He instructs in His word, love other’s and that also entails pointing out at times dangerous things folks get entangled with to their spiritual destruction. Poor people and harmed folks need our love and care. But those issues which put them there should be considered in our love expressions in a kind manner so they can see the danger they have been in and/or heading toward. To do less reflects no love at all. Remember, Love others as you would love yourself or do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Would you want to have someone not tell you about the “fire” burning in a corner of your home or just let it get larger and burn the house down?

  269. L Carnes

    You know, it is rather amusing to me when I am called a liberal and/or loose. You see, for many years, I was thought too conservative by many Christians. When the occasional person is convinced that I am liberal, it helps me to see that, in all actuality, I am neither right or left, merely trying to find positions that hold to the Scripture.

    I am sure that you know the atheism is on the rise in the US. Kids are running from the faith as they reach college age. Far too many people have found their way to this blog, broken and bloodies by the very group, Christians, who were supposed to be their family.

    Just as I worked with children who were abuses and assessed families for abusive behavior, I am now doing this within the church. And sometimes it is messy and uncomfortable. However, the prophets confronted sin, the Apostles did the same. And I believe that there is deep rooted sin in the church which finds its expression in legalism and hyperauthoritarian control.

    And sometimes, in order to be heard out there, one must shout loudly.

    I love the church and I love Jesus. This blog is a way to help those who have missed the message due to the morass of nut jobs out there who preach a false Gospel. And legalism is a false Gospel.

    I agree with you. There is a fire burning and I am one who is trying to put it out. I am sorry that you do not understand me but, one day, in heaven, we may both understand each other better.