Bill Zeller’s Suicide: Pedophiles Go to Heaven and Catholics Go to Hell

"If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molestors (sic) go to Heaven (as long as they were "saved" at some point), that's your choice…" Bill Zeller


Bill Zeller at Princeton, 2008-Courtesy of Wikipedia


Bill Zeller was, by all accounts, a computer whiz. He invented the application for my Tunes amongst other achievements. His future was bright but, at the age of 27, this doctoral candidate at Princeton committed suicide. What led this brilliant young man to end it all? Let’s just say it has to do with pedophilia and Christianity.

He wrote his final thoughts and sent it to friends so that his life and story would not be forgotten. Let his own words, 4000 0f them, speak for themselves. No changes were made to the letter. This was copied from Stop Baptists Predators. LINK . Special thanks to "numo" for alerting us to this story.



"I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I'll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it's true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can at least explain my reasoning. I considered not writing any of this because of how personal it is, but I like tying up loose ends and don't want people to wonder why I did this. Since I've never spoken to anyone about what happened to me, people would likely draw the wrong conclusions.


My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly. This has affected every aspect of my life. This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me, usually triggered by a distinct situation. In kindergarten I couldn't use the bathroom and would stand petrified whenever I needed to, which started a trend of awkward and unexplained social behavior. The damage that was done to my body still prevents me from using the bathroom normally, but now it's less of a physical impediment than a daily reminder of what was done to me.


This darkness followed me as I grew up. I remember spending hours playing with legos, having my world consist of me and a box of cold, plastic blocks. Just waiting for everything to end. It's the same thing I do now, but instead of legos it's surfing the web or reading or listening to a baseball game. Most of my life has been spent feeling dead inside, waiting for my body to catch up.


At times growing up I would feel inconsolable rage, but I never connected this to what happened until puberty. I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time by doing things that required intense concentration, but it would always come back. Programming appealed to me for this reason. I was never particularly fond of computers or mathematically inclined, but the temporary peace it would provide was like a drug. But the darkness always returned and built up something like a tolerance, because programming has become less and less of a refuge.


The darkness is with me nearly every time I wake up. I feel like a grime is covering me. I feel like I'm trapped in a contimated body that no amount of washing will clean. Whenever I think about what happened I feel manic and itchy and can't concentrate on anything else. It manifests itself in hours of eating or staying up for days at a time or sleeping for sixteen hours straight or week long programming binges or constantly going to the gym. I'm exhausted from feeling like this every hour of every day.


Three to four nights a week I have nightmares about what happened. It makes me avoid sleep and constantly tired, because sleeping with what feels like hours of nightmares is not restful. I wake up sweaty and furious. I'm reminded every morning of what was done to me and the control it has over my life.


I've never been able to stop thinking about what happened to me and this hampered my social interactions. I would be angry and lost in thought and then be interrupted by someone saying "Hi" or making small talk, unable to understand why I seemed cold and distant. I walked around, viewing the outside world from a distant portal behind my eyes, unable to perform normal human niceties. I wondered what it would be like to take to other people without what happened constantly on my mind, and I wondered if other people had similar experiences that they were better able to mask.


Alcohol was also something that let me escape the darkness. It would always find me later, though, and it was always angry that I managed to escape and it made me pay. Many of the irresponsible things I did were the result of the darkness. Obviously I'm responsible for every decision and action, including this one, but there are reasons why things happen the way they do.


Alcohol and other drugs provided a way to ignore the realities of my situation. It was easy to spend the night drinking and forget that I had no future to look forward to. I never liked what alcohol did to me, but it was better than facing my existence honestly. I haven't touched alcohol or any other drug in over seven months (and no drugs or alcohol will be involved when I do this) and this has forced me to evaluate my life in an honest and clear way. There's no future here. The darkness will always be with me.


I used to think if I solved some problem or achieved some goal, maybe he would leave. It was comforting to identify tangible issues as the source of my problems instead of something that I'll never be able to change. I thought that if I got into to a good college, or a good grad school, or lost weight, or went to the gym nearly every day for a year, or created programs that millions of people used, or spent a summer or California or New York or published papers that I was proud of, then maybe I would feel some peace and not be constantly haunted and unhappy. But nothing I did made a dent in how depressed I was on a daily basis and nothing was in any way fulfilling. I'm not sure why I ever thought that would change anything.


I didn't realize how deep a hold he had on me and my life until my first relationship. I stupidly assumed that no matter how the darkness affected me personally, my romantic relationships would somehow be separated and protected. Growing up I viewed my future relationships as a possible escape from this thing that haunts me every day, but I began to realize how entangled it was with every aspect of my life and how it is never going to release me. Instead of being an escape, relationships and romantic contact with other people only intensified everything about him that I couldn't stand. I will never be able to have a relationship in which he is not the focus, affecting every aspect of my romantic interactions.


Relationships always started out fine and I'd be able to ignore him for a few weeks. But as we got closer emotionally the darkness would return and every night it'd be me, her and the darkness in a black and gruesome threesome. He would surround me and penetrate me and the more we did the more intense it became. It made me hate being touched, because as long as we were separated I could view her like an outsider viewing something good and kind and untainted. Once we touched, the darkness would envelope her too and take her over and the evil inside me would surround her. I always felt like I was infecting anyone I was with.


Relationships didn't work. No one I dated was the right match, and I thought that maybe if I found the right person it would overwhelm him. Part of me knew that finding the right person wouldn't help, so I became interested in girls who obviously had no interest in me. For a while I thought I was gay. I convinced myself that it wasn't the darkness at all, but rather my orientation, because this would give me control over why things didn't feel "right". The fact that the darkness affected sexual matters most intensely made this idea make some sense and I convinced myself of this for a number of years, starting in college after my first relationship ended. I told people I was gay (at Trinity, not at Princeton), even though I wasn't attracted to men and kept finding myself interested in girls. Because if being gay wasn't the answer, then what was? People thought I was avoiding my orientation, but I was actually avoiding the truth, which is that while I'm straight, I will never be content with anyone. I know now that the darkness will never leave.


Last spring I met someone who was unlike anyone else I'd ever met. Someone who showed me just how well two people could get along and how much I could care about another human being. Someone I know I could be with and love for the rest of my life, if I weren't so fucked up. Amazingly, she liked me. She liked the shell of the man the darkness had left behind. But it didn't matter because I couldn't be alone with her. It was never just the two of us, it was always the three of us: her, me and the darkness. The closer we got, the more intensely I'd feel the darkness, like some evil mirror of my emotions. All the closeness we had and I loved was complemented by agony that I couldn't stand, from him. I realized that I would never be able to give her, or anyone, all of me or only me. She could never have me without the darkness and evil inside me. I could never have just her, without the darkness being a part of all of our interactions. I will never be able to be at peace or content or in a healthy relationship. I realized the futility of the romantic part of my life. If I had never met her, I would have realized this as soon as I met someone else who I meshed similarly well with. It's likely that things wouldn't have worked out with her and we would have broken up (with our relationship ending, like the majority of relationships do) even if I didn't have this problem, since we only dated for a short time. But I will face exactly the same problems with the darkness with anyone else. Despite my hopes, love and compatability is not enough. Nothing is enough. There's no way I can fix this or even push the darkness down far enough to make a relationship or any type of intimacy feasible.


So I watched as things fell apart between us. I had put an explicit time limit on our relationship, since I knew it couldn't last because of the darkness and didn't want to hold her back, and this caused a variety of problems. She was put in an unnatural situation that she never should have been a part of. It must have been very hard for her, not knowing what was actually going on with me, but this is not something I've ever been able to talk about with anyone. Losing her was very hard for me as well. Not because of her (I got over our relationship relatively quickly), but because of the realization that I would never have another relationship and because it signified the last true, exclusive personal connection I could ever have. This wasn't apparent to other people, because I could never talk about the real reasons for my sadness. I was very sad in the summer and fall, but it was not because of her, it was because I will never escape the darkness with anyone. She was so loving and kind to me and gave me everything I could have asked for under the circumstances. I'll never forget how much happiness she brought me in those briefs moments when I could ignore the darkness. I had originally planned to kill myself last winter but never got around to it. (Parts of this letter were written over a year ago, other parts days before doing this.) It was wrong of me to involve myself in her life if this were a possibility and I should have just left her alone, even though we only dated for a few months and things ended a long time ago. She's just one more person in a long list of people I've hurt.I could spend pages talking about the other relationships I've had that were ruined because of my problems and my confusion related to the darkness. I've hurt so many great people because of who I am and my inability to experience what needs to be experienced. All I can say is that I tried to be honest with people about what I thought was true.


I've spent my life hurting people. Today will be the last time.


I've told different people a lot of things, but I've never told anyone about what happened to me, ever, for obvious reasons. It took me a while to realize that no matter how close you are to someone or how much they claim to love you, people simply cannot keep secrets. I learned this a few years ago when I thought I was gay and told people. The more harmful the secret, the juicier the gossip and the more likely you are to be betrayed. People don't care about their word or what they've promised, they just do whatever the fuck they want and justify it later. It feels incredibly lonely to realize you can never share something with someone and have it be between just the two of you. I don't blame anyone in particular, I guess it's just how people are. Even if I felt like this is something I could have shared, I have no interest in being part of a friendship or relationship where the other person views me as the damaged and contaminated person that I am. So even if I were able to trust someone, I probably would not have told them about what happened to me. At this point I simply don't care who knows.


I feel an evil inside me. An evil that makes me want to end life. I need to stop this. I need to make sure I don't kill someone, which is not something that can be easily undone. I don't know if this is related to what happened to me or something different. I recognize the irony of killing myself to prevent myself from killing someone else, but this decision should indicate what I'm capable of.


So I've realized I will never escape the darkness or misery associated with it and I have a responsibility to stop myself from physically harming others.


I'm just a broken, miserable shell of a human being. Being molested has defined me as a person and shaped me as a human being and it has made me the monster I am and there's nothing I can do to escape it. I don't know any other existence. I don't know what life feels like where I'm apart from any of this. I actively despise the person I am. I just feel fundamentally broken, almost non-human. I feel like an animal that woke up one day in a human body, trying to make sense of a foreign world, living among creatures it doesn't understand and can't connect with.


I have accepted that the darkness will never allow me to be in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their hands around me. I will never know what uncontimated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give. I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility. I did try to minimize pain, although I know that this decision will hurt many of you. If this hurts you, I hope that you can at least forget about me quickly.


There's no point in identifying who molested me, so I'm just going to leave it at that. I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over twenty years ago would have much sway.


You may wonder why I didn't just talk to a professional about this. I've seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I'm positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever. More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. And I have no interest in talking about being raped as a child, both because I know it wouldn't help and because I have no confidence it would remain secret. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor/patient confidentiality, growing up in a house where we'd hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations. All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it's her right or responsibility to contact the authorities and have me identify the molestor (justifying her decision by telling herself that someone else might be in danger). All it takes is a single doctor who violates my trust, just like the "friends" who I told I was gay did, and everything would be made public and I'd be forced to live in a world where people would know how fucked up I am. And yes, I realize this indicates that I have severe trust issues, but they're based on a large number of experiences with people who have shown a profound disrepect for their word and the privacy of others.


People say suicide is selfish. I think it's selfish to ask people to continue living painful and miserable lives, just so you possibly won't feel sad for a week or two. Suicide may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it's also a permanent solution to a ~23 year-old problem that grows more intense and overwhelming every day.


Some people are just dealt bad hands in this life. I know many people have it worse than I do, and maybe I'm just not a strong person, but I really did try to deal with this. I've tried to deal with this every day for the last 23 years and I just can't fucking take it anymore.


I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery. I wonder who I'd be if things had been different or if I were a stronger person. It sounds pretty great.


I'm prepared for death. I'm prepared for the pain and I am ready to no longer exist. Thanks to the strictness of New Jersey gun laws this will probably be much more painful than it needs to be, but what can you do. My only fear at this point is messing something up and surviving.


I'd also like to address my family, if you can call them that. I despise everything they stand for and I truly hate them, in a non-emotional, dispassionate and what I believe is a healthy way. The world will be a better place when they're dead–one with less hatred and intolerance.


If you're unfamiliar with the situation, my parents are fundamentalist Christians who kicked me out of their house and cut me off financially when I was 19 because I refused to attend seven hours of church a week.


They live in a black and white reality they've constructed for themselves. They partition the world into good and evil and survive by hating everything they fear or misunderstand and calling it love. They don't understand that good and decent people exist all around us, "saved" or not, and that evil and cruel people occupy a large percentage of their church. They take advantage of people looking for hope by teaching them to practice the same hatred they practice.


A random example:


"I am personally convinced that if a Muslim truly believes and obeys the Koran, he will be a terrorist." – George Zeller, August 24, 2010.


If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molestors go to Heaven (as long as they were "saved" at some point), that's your choice, but it's fucked up. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist. If so, fuck Him.


Their church was always more important than the members of their family and they happily sacrificed whatever necessary in order to satisfy their contrived beliefs about who they should be.


I grew up in a house where love was proxied through a God I could never believe in. A house where the love of music with any sort of a beat was literally beaten out of me. A house full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who were experts at appearing kind and warm when others were around. Parents who tell an eight year old that his grandmother is going to Hell because she's Catholic. Parents who claim not to be racist but then talk about the horrors of miscegenation. I could list hundreds of other examples, but it's tiring.


Since being kicked out, I've interacted with them in relatively normal ways. I talk to them on the phone like nothing happened. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I like pretending I have a family. Maybe I like having people I can talk to about what's been going on in my life. Whatever the reason, it's not real and it feels like a sham. I should have never allowed this reconnection to happen.


I wrote the above a while ago, and I do feel like that much of the time. At other times, though, I feel less hateful. I know my parents honestly believe the crap they believe in. I know that my mom, at least, loved me very much and tried her best. One reason I put this off for so long is because I know how much pain it will cause her. She has been sad since she found out I wasn't "saved", since she believes I'm going to Hell, which is not a sadness for which I am responsible. That was never going to change, and presumably she believes the state of my physical body is much less important than the state of my soul. Still, I cannot intellectually justify this decision, knowing how much it will hurt her. Maybe my ability to take my own life, knowing how much pain it will cause, shows that I am a monster who doesn't deserve to live. All I know is that I can't deal with this pain any longer and I'm am truly sorry I couldn't wait until my family and everyone I knew died so this could be done without hurting anyone. For years I've wished that I'd be hit by a bus or die while saving a baby from drowning so my death might be more acceptable, but I was never so lucky.


To those of you who have shown me love, thank you for putting up with all my shittiness and moodiness and arbitrariness. I was never the person I wanted to be. Maybe without the darkness I would have been a better person, maybe not. I did try to be a good person, but I realize I never got very far.


I'm sorry for the pain this causes. I really do wish I had another option. I hope this letter explains why I needed to do this. If you can't understand this decision, I hope you can at least forgive me.


Bill Zeller


Please save this letter and repost it if gets deleted. I don't want people to wonder why I did this. I disseminated it more widely than I might have otherwise because I'm worried that my family might try to restrict access to it. I don't mind if this letter is made public. In fact, I'd prefer it be made public to people being unable to read it and drawing their own conclusions.


Feel free to republish this letter, but only if it is reproduced in its entirety."


Addendum: Shortly after posting this on FaceBook, Zeller successfully ended his own life on January 5, 2011.


Lydia's Corner: Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24 Luke 13:22-14:6 Psalm 79:1-13 Proverbs 12:26



Bill Zeller’s Suicide: Pedophiles Go to Heaven and Catholics Go to Hell — 100 Comments

  1. As an adult writing this, you can see the confusion, pain and darkness with the coping skills and intellect he now has an adult! Now, what about the child who is living through it? There is a “foreverness” when it comes to molestation. It never goes away. Even when one has forgiven and is saved. It is always there…the darkness, the evil. Makes one long for Jesus Christ to come back now.

    Even as an adult, he had given up on identifying the abuser.

  2. Perhaps the saddest part of his letter to me, besides ending with the taking of his own life, is his memory of his parents. We all try to look so sweet and happy and good and Christian on Sunday mornings, but you never know what really happens in other people’s homes. He saw Christianity as a total sham based on the hypocrisy of his parents; makes me wonder if his parents knew of his molestation, which would only make their unloving actions even more heinous.

    God is love. Jesus is God. Since we are to model our lives after Christ, seems to me that we should treat others with more love than we know we have – God’s love in us. Some folks don’t seem to understand, but it is possible to lead someone to repentance and faith in Christ without kicking them while they are down. I pray now for all the molested, unloved, friendless… my hope is in the Lord.

    Lydia – couldn’t agree more. Maranatha!!!

    PS Dee/Deb – Perhaps it was “Watcher” who sent you the link. Wasn’t me, although I would have. 🙂

  3. My heart is breaking for this man… Bill Zeller, I am SO sorry for what happened to you… I understand some of your pain, and it hurts me that for whatever reason you were never given any hope or love or anything good to make you see the value in your own life. I pray that you have found peace.

  4. More than a few people (elsewhere) have noted that Bill Zeller’s quoting and naming his father in this letter might be a significant clue as to the identity of the person who molested him.

  5. Numo

    By accident I put Trinity Watcher in as telling TWW about this. I have changed it to your name. Sorry.

  6. numo

    One thing is certain, it was a Christian if his concern about saved pedophiles going to heaven is to be understood. He also had some very strong feelings about his immediate family. It had to be someone close to the family to have access to a very young child. Frankly, I cried reading this and it is taking me some time to get over the sadness of it all.

  7. Sorry about the confusion. It was numo.

    I want to know how his former church has responded and plan to look in to the details and will post if I find out anything.

  8. @ Dee: oh hey, no worries! This letter has been posted in many, many places, and I feel like I’m just one of thousands who has seen it and remarked on it.

    And yes… someone very close to his family or a family member.

  9. btw… i have not reread this letter. once through (back in January or early February) was enough.

    I am not sure I want to go through the emotions again.

  10. I just finished reading Bill Zeller’s suicide note for the second time today and have so many emotions.

    You might be interested to know that Princeton University held a memorial service for Bill Zeller and this is how it was publicized.

    Memorial service planned for graduate student Bill Zeller, Jan. 15

    Posted January 6, 2011; 11:47 a.m.

    “A memorial service is being planned for Princeton graduate student William “Bill” Zeller, who died Jan. 5, 2011, at a local hospital as a result of injuries sustained in a suicide attempt at his home near campus. He was 27.

    A University service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, in the Garden Room of Prospect House with a reception immediately afterward. The service is open to members of the Princeton University campus community and Zeller’s family and friends.

    A native of Middletown, Conn., Zeller was pursuing a doctoral degree in computer science, having earned his master’s degree from Princeton in 2008. He received his bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in 2006. He was active in the Graduate Student Government and participated in an influential technology blog, among other activities.

    Zeller is survived by his parents, George Zeller and Anna Zeller, his elder brother, John, and his grandfather William Zeller, in addition to numerous aunts and uncles.

    “The University has lost a very promising computer science student and an individual with many close friends within his research group and across campus,” said William Russel, dean of the graduate school. “We in the Graduate School and others from University offices offer sincere condolences and continuing support to Bill’s family and his friends on campus and across the country. We are planning a memorial service to provide students and members of the Princeton family an opportunity to honor his memory.”

    Counseling services have been and continue to be made available to the campus community.

    The University offers a full range of student support services, including crisis intervention, mental health screenings and other counseling services, and students who would like to speak with counselors are encouraged to call (609) 258-3285 to reach Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS). University Health Services is open 24 hours daily, and clinicians at CPS are available from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. After hours and on weekends, a counselor is available on call to respond to urgent needs and can be reached by calling (609) 258-3139. Pastoral counseling also is available through the Office of Religious Life.

    Interment arrangements for Zeller are pending. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: William Zeller *08 Memorial Fund, Princeton University, Alumni and Donor Records, P.O. Box 5357, Princeton, NJ 08540. Gifts should be made payable to the Trustees of Princeton University, with William Zeller *08 noted in the memo line.”

  11. Another article that might be of interest (from Zeller’s hometown paper).

    “Bill Zeller, a rising star in the Internet programming community and a native of Middletown, died Wednesday in Princeton, NJ, from injuries sustained in a suicide attempt , according to several national media reports.

    Zeller, 27, was a 2002 graduate of Middletown High School. He attended Trinity College in Hartford, where he developed myTunes, a free program that allows users to download music bought at the iTunes Music Store to other computers. At the time of his death, he was a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, and earlier this year had also completed a software engineering internship at Google.

    Zeller’s father, George, is the assistant pastor at the Middletown Bible Church. He is also survived by his mother, Anna, a brother, John, and several other relatives.

    Zeller left a lengthy suicide note on his personal website that alleged a childhood marred by physical and sexual abuse. He did not name his attacker in the note, saying, “There’s no point in identifying who molested me … I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over 20 years ago would have much sway.”

    In the note, which he also e-mailed to friends, according to The Daily Princetonian, Zeller said he doesn’t mind if the letter is republished, but only in its entirety. The full text can be found on Zeller’s website.

    Zeller’s friends and colleagues are sharing their memories of him at Princeton is holding a memorial for him Jan. 15 and has set up a memorial fund, the details of which can be found on the school’s website.

    For more on how the Princeton community is reacting to Zeller’s death and note, see The Daily Princetonian.”

  12. Deb I must join you in sadness. I had not known earlier that the father was a pastor. He must be a “fundamentalist”. I am rather sure being familiar with the, evangelical point of view that the parents tried very hard to force-feed a doctrine that to some is set in stone and no other principle applies. I think this could have been over-come if the predatory practices had not been involved. It is horrific to think evil can happen in such unsuspected places.

  13. I thought this lyric passage from Don McLean’s 1971 song “Vincent” appropriate at this time:

    “…And, when no hope was left inside on that starry, starry night, you took your life as lovers often do

    But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you…”

  14. Muff

    ARe you purposely trying to make me cry? This is an indictment on certain members in the evangelical church and I hope they get it. TWW will look at this suicide more closely and fill in some details. The church must learn a hard lesson from Zeller. I can barely stand to think of a little boy playing with his Legos and being in such pain.

  15. Bojac

    I have seen profound evil rear its head in evangelical churches. The church must be willing to face it with strong conviction. Instead, the church lawyers up and throws the abused under the bus while expending much energy to “restoring” the pedophile.

    Here is a question for you. If you were his parents and truly did not know your son had been horrendously abused, would you not spend every dime you had in finding his abuser?

  16. No insensitivity intended Dee. In fact, it was looking at my repro-print of Van Gogh’s “Thatched Cottages at Cordeville” that got me misty eyed this morning, and then remembering McLean’s song, I commented.

    Please allow me to add at this time, that as humans we cry the same tears, laugh the same laughs, and bleed the same blood.

    One of my all-time favorite heroines was Hypatia of Alexandria. She taught that we should give serious assent only to what unites us as humans with a love for beauty in all of its forms rather than what divides us in the debatable points of religion. She was murdered by a mob of fundamentalist Christian monks in March of 415 A.D. at the goading of Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria at the time.

  17. I pray that all child molestors, murderers, thieves, rapists, liars, and lawyers and politicians will get to Heaven.

    Sure they don’t deserve to be there. I don’t either. Who does?

    But by the great love of Christ for the ungodly.

  18. Steve,

    You know not the large numbers of attorneys that are practicing evangelical Christians, who express that their career is a response to a call from their Lord. Many of us use our law education, training and license to help people fend off some of the evil that is out there, including abusers, scam artists, and those who hide in commerce to take advantage of the naive. Today I am representing a woman who has paid on a credit card account for four years and seen no reduction in the base debt that resulted from a scam. She lives on $500 a month, total income.

    Some have looked at the evil and believe they are called by God to elected office to work for justice.

    No one deserves heaven. God in his great grace and mercy provided a way through his sacrificial love.

  19. Steve Martin,

    Please help me understand how your comment applies to this post? You sound like an extemely compassionate soul… 🙁

  20. Yes Dee, I would have done everything humanly possible and of course prayed with the utmost intensity to uncover such evil. A life of great promise was lost because this was allowed to go unresolved. We don’t know all the circumstances but i have seen what can happen when someone’s evil desires are used to satisfy a lust than can never really be satisfied.

  21. Steve

    I think Bill Zeller was expressing an important point. There are a lot of Christians who preach a cheap grace. Zeller knew a pedophile who was molesting him over a long period of time. This man was professed a Christian faith. How do I know? Because of the statement quoted at the top of the page. Zeller was destroyed by a man who professed “salvation.” A molester destroying a child is also carrying the holy Spirit? A man who has not confessed and received punishment for his crime?! Sorry Steve. I don’t buy it.

    Meantime, Zeller hears his parents saying that devout Catholics will go to hell. How warped!

    Can a pedophile confess his sins, repent and be saved? Yes. But, I am not sure that is what happened in this situation.

  22. Arce

    Thank you for the work that you do. You represent the profession well. PS Thanks for the help you gave me with my questions about ankle bracelets.

  23. BOjac

    Why aren’t the parents pursuing this? They are strangely silent regarding the molestation.

  24. Muff

    Thank you for your sensitive comment. The moment we do not share tears over what happened to Bill Zeller, we have lost our humanity.

  25. The saddest letter I’ve ever read — my heart aches for the man, for his parents, for all who knew him and had no idea of his pain. Somehow, I have to believe that in the last moments of his life, he experienced the love and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Oh, Lord, help us. Lord, make some sense of this, because we can’t.

  26. Deb,

    I AM a real sinner. Some people have nothing buy contempt for poor souls like Bill Z.. I know what I have done. And what I have thought about doing but didn’t do. And I know how the world, the flesh, and the devil can grab hold of someone.

    But I also know what can happen when Christ grabs a hold of you, and I am very grateful. I pray each night for all those battered and gripped by evil that the Lord will have mercy on them and save them.

  27. I have been crying since I read this. As a parent, you try so hard to protect your kids and trust God that they will be safe. And evil happens in spite of everything. But then, the evil that happens isn’t enough. A darkness that won’t go away remains, like it did with Bill.

    This is why I absolutely have no compassion on church leaders who turn a blind eye to this evil. THEY NEED TO BE EXPOSED. SGM, your turn is coming.

  28. Steve

    I believe everything you say. I, too, have seen God change a life. Take John Newton, a horrible slave ship captain. Yet, he TURNED from his ways and wrote the hymn, Amazing Grace.

    Note how I emphasized the word “turned.” In Zeller’s particular situation, I have a hunch he was being molested by a man who was supposedly “saved.” And he was molested regularly and brutally over a long time. Yet, this man was supposedly “saved.” Do you get what I am saying?

    The evangelical church has been guilty of selling cheap grace. Walk the aisle, mouth the words, and bingo-eternity, brother.

    That is not how it happens. There is the element of turning.

    Can you imagine being a young child, being seriously hurt over and over again and being told your perpetrator is a Christian? To top it all off. You know a nice family who are devout Catholics and you are told they are going to hell? What does that do to the mind of a child? What happens to the mind of a child who is taught by deed and word that this foul purveyor of hideous pain is a Christian? Now this child links pain, day in and out, with Jesus. and then he is supposed to understand the faith? Oh, if he doesn’t, he is going to hell?

    So, going out on a limb, I will say that the man who abused Zeller was most likely NOT a Christian.And his actions caused Zeller to run from the faith and eventually commit suicide. The Bible talks about men like this. It clearly says it would be better from him to tie a cement block around his neck and be thrown into the abyss, Mafia style, rather than cause a little one to stumble.

    I echo a number of commenters by saying this. I believe in both a God of Mercy and Justice. And I trust Zeller’s soul into the hands of a God who understands.

  29. Ellie

    I have heard people claim that teens who were abused by pedophiles should just “get over it.” I have heard kids being blamed for the abuse, for not telling their parents, for not knowing it was “wrong.” Oh, I heard this from supposed Christians.

    I have something to say about this. Anyone, who does not have a heart for those harmed in such a heinous way, may need to look to see if they really have the Holy Spirit in their lives. Because the Holy Sprit should convict their souls and cause a wellspring of love. compassion and understanding for those abuse, many in the very church in which they are supposed to being seeing the “work of the Lord.”

    The longer I am a Christian, the more I begin to wonder what is up with many of these supposed teachers and leaders. Do they really know Jesus?

  30. Nickname

    I believe in a God of compassion as well as judgment. Think about it. Zeller was abused over and over again by a man who was supposedly a Christian. One can extrapolate that from his letter quite easily. We believe that God saves infants and those with a limited comprehension like a profoundly retarded individual. Do we think He has any less compassion for a man whose life, and mind, was broken by being abused over years by a man who was “saved.” Wouldn’t that cause Zeller to link the faith with terrible pain? How does a mind process that? I’m with you. In those last moments, I would not be surprised to know that a God of Mercy revealed HImself to a dying Zeller. And anyone who doesn’t hope for such a thing has not the heart of a Christian.

  31. “That is not how it happens. There is the element of turning. ”


    If one can rape children, never have godly sorrow or repentence for it and still spend eternity with Christ, then what was the point of the Cross? If that is the case, the Cross was not needed.

    26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[e] 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    Hebrews 10

  32. “So, going out on a limb, I will say that the man who abused Zeller was most likely NOT a Christian.And his actions caused Zeller to run from the faith and eventually commit suicide.”

    He was most likely a “professing Christian”. And he probably looked pious on the outside. That is usually how this works.

    But one cannot have the indwelling Holy Spirit and rape a child at the same time. It is not possible. But many will tell you it is possible.

  33. Lydia

    Not only that, this was not a one time deal. It happened brutally, over and over again. It was Bill’s earliest memories which place it around 2-3 years old when it began.

    After being startled by the activities of some supposed Christians in Texas, I met with an elder that I liked. I asked him about these folks. I said I felt like I was beating my head against the wall when I talked to these folks who supposedly walked the aisle and came to church. He said that, the longer he was a Christians, the longer that he worked in church leadership, the more he was coming to the conclusion that there are far fewer Christians than commonly perceived.

  34. “He said that, the longer he was a Christians, the longer that he worked in church leadership, the more he was coming to the conclusion that there are far fewer Christians than commonly perceived.”

    My belief on this has really changed. I once believed that anyone who professed Christ was saved. I no longer believe that after much study. Some will say I am legalistic and wrong. But what I saw in scripture is that salvation involves also the supernatural process of being Born Again. We are new creatures in Christ. We are growing in Holiness…without Holiness, we will not see God. If saved, we are constantly being sanctified…disciplined.

    We are born in corrupted bodies with corrupted minds and are constantly fighting the flesh if we are saved.

    Yes we sin. but we must understand sin. The way scripture describes it is “practicing sin”. (1 John, Hebrews, Galatians, etc). We cannot “practice” sin and expect that we are saved.

    In several places in the NT, we actually see lists. We must remember these passages are written to those who profess belief in Christ. In Galatians, 1 Corin 5 and Revelation, we see lists of sins that result in damnation if practiced, even by professing believers, with no repentance.

    8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Rev 21

    19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5

    11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 1 Corin 5

    6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

    7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 1 John 3

  35. This post is really sad.

    Am I supposed to know this family? Are the parents well known?

    Of course, all I know about this incident is this post. I have no idea about Mr. Zeller’s psychiatric history, the course and extent of treatment, if any.

    It is very hard to diagnose an individual from a suicide note. The note is only a record of his feelings and perspectives. Everything he says may be 100% correct. Or it may not be. Some or all of it may be the product of a mind severly affected by mental illness. There is no way we can determine that.

    We can only morn for him and his family, and pray for the repentence and forgiveness of the unnamed person that the letter mentions, assuming, again, that it is true and accurate.

    If it is true, here is a good example of where I depart from what Rob Bell purportedly believes. I believe in a judgment, and believe in a just judge to execute that judgment. I am not going to speculate about things I don’t know.

    I believe that Mr. Zeller might have been helped significantly from an embrace of that truth, as it would have place him in good company with those through the ages, and those today, who suffer from wrongdoing at the hands of others, rather than an apparent rejection of it.

  36. anonymous

    Zeller’s knowledge of the truth was gleaned at the hands of a sadistic monster. His parents appear to have contributed to his warped understanding the faith. Why shouldn’t he run from those who profess to know the truth? The truth he was taught led him down a path away from the faith and I do not blame him in the least.

    I think it would make everyone feel a whole lot better if this story wasn’t true because, if true, it forces us to face the ugliness that is alive and well within our churches. Instead, we would rather talk about pastoral authority and doctrinal purity while there are many who live in constant pain that many in the church would rather not see.

    I was a public health nurse and I can tell you that there is an important indicator that this story is true. And that is his description of his difficulty in using the bathroom that existed into adulthood. This is a syndrome well known to urologists, but less well known outside the profession and is often seen in those sexually abused.

    You are not supposed to know this man or his family. But, don’t you wish you had? However, he is now well known throughout the world precisely because of this note. Google it. However, you should know and feel his deep pain. If you did not feel a pang at this note, then I would urge you to do some soul searching.

    As for his note, have you ever heard about a thing called a “dying declaration.” For many years, our court system allowed this evidence to be introduced in court because it is thought the dying people have very little incentive to lie. In other words, whispering a name, while dying, could help in a trial to point fingers in the right direction.

    As for being placed in the good company of people who have been harmed, I have an observation. I have now seen churches, who supposedly know the truth, when confronted by those who have been abused by molesters, cover up the truth and point fingers of blame at the victims. I believe that the church has been negligent in this area and has contributed to the pain and suffering of those who are abused.

    So, forgive my cynical reply. There are far too many churches who abuse the abused.And I think, deep down, you and everybody else knows it. Just read a few of our blog posts. The church in America must face up to its share of responsibility in chasing people from the faith.

    As for Rob Bell, I have one thing to say about him. Although I disagree with his conclusions about judgment and hell, he is an honest man trying to make sense out of a very difficult subject. Frankly he shows more heart than many in certain circles who have no problem with declaring a God who sends little babies to hell. Such men exhibit a matter of factness that is, at times, cold. Committed Christians struggle with these issues and Bell has the honesty to show his struggle for the world to see instead of hiding it in some dark corner and refusing to deal with the obvious difficulty of the subject.

  37. “It is very hard to diagnose an individual from a suicide note. The note is only a record of his feelings and perspectives. Everything he says may be 100% correct. Or it may not be. Some or all of it may be the product of a mind severly affected by mental illness. There is no way we can determine that.

    We can only morn for him and his family, and pray for the repentence and forgiveness of the unnamed person that the letter mentions, assuming, again, that it is true and accurate.”

    This is exactly why he never named his accuser in all those years. You see the same pragmatic thinking from comments on Christa Brown’s blog by those questioning the victims experience.

    (Can anyone imagine that being molested STARTING at age 3 would not result is SOME sort of mental illness? I am amazed this guy was the programmer he was)

    And this comment also shows us why so few child molesters are ever charged and convicted. Note how this commenter subtly blames the victim for rejecting truth instead of declaring the wrongness of professing believers in how they presented truth.

    Why do you ask if you are to know the parents and if they are well known? What on earth does that have to do with anything?

    Anon, you are the pragmatic “Louis”?

  38. “I think it would make everyone feel a whole lot better if this story wasn’t true because, if true, it forces us to face the ugliness that is alive and well within our churches. Instead, we would rather talk about pastoral authority and doctrinal purity while there are many who live in constant pain that many in the church would rather not see.”

    You have nailed it.

  39. Methinks anon was baiting you guys with the Bell reference. I also disagree with Bell and believe in eternal judgement.

    If there is one thing I have learned in the past 10 years, it is that the visible church deep down hates victims. Victims get in the way of their man centered vision and how they view themselves. It also messes with their popular but wrong notion of a “Christian world view”. I have learned this by seeing it in person at quite a few mega’s and by reading many blogs where pastors and those in leadership comment.

    I would NEVER counsel a victim to take their problem to the church. On the contrary, I would counsel AGAINST it.

  40. Dee:

    I don’t disagree with a thing you have said. I think that you may be reading things into what I said.

    I do find it sad, as I wrote.

    I have not seen anyone on here express hate for Mr. Zeller as a victim, and I certainly don’t.

    There is no punishment too good for a person who did this to a child. I have not read Bell’s book, but it’s timely in circumstances such as this. This is exactly what Zeller complains about, I think. That some Christians peddle an “easy believism”. Bell takes it to new heights. One doesn’t even have to believe or act correctly because (apparently, I haven’t read the book) God is like a grandmother. Just all love. So, no matter what one has done, molested children etc., they are going to “make it” according to Bell. I reject that.

    It is logical to see why Mr. Zeller would not seek the same faith as his parents. I did not “blame” him.

    I only said that would have been helped greatly by embracing the truth. I know that you agree with that.

    I was not addressing why he did not embrace the truth, or who might have acted in such a way as to discourage him from doing so. I only said that he would have been helped.

    I suspect that others who have suffered abuse have been helped by a vibrant relationship with the Lord. Joseph is a good biblical example of that. I was commenting that it would have been good for Mr. Zeller, and I believe that.

    I am not health professional and have never been one. I don’t know what a competent health professional would want to look at to make any determinations in this case. Had Zeller received treatment over the years or had he not sought treatment? I can’t tell either way. What level, if any, was his mental illness? Would that affect his perceptions etc.? I have no idea.

    I have heard of dying declarations. I don’t know what the psychological or psychiatric state of a person would have on those. But, again, we are speculating on this anyway since we have no idea.

    I suspect that experiencing circumstances like this, alone, could cause mental illness, as you have noted, but I would not really know that either in this case.

    Thanks for your response. I hope this reply is helpful to filling out what I was trying to say so that there will not be any misunderstandings.

  41. Lydia

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!

    I read anon’s note and felt that he was cold fish but i thought I was being overly sensitive. You confirmed my initial reaction and I am so grateful you responded.

    I had personal experience with a church who blamed the victims and refused to get them counseling until embarrassed into so doing.

    On the Rob Bell thing, I sensed it was a bait. I think a few folks out there would like to marginalize me as some gullible liberal. They are soooo wrong.

    I have learned a thing or two in my current church.One is to look behind a doctrinal issue and see what is really being said.

    I think there are a lot of people who are sitting in the pews who can spout off perfect doctrine yet never question the path to get from there to here and also never admit how hard some doctrine is.

    I believe in the doctrine of eternal judgment and hell. However, it is difficult and I do not profess to having all the answers. Although I disagree with Bell, I get his honest struggle in the midst of this. Instead Piper tweets “bye, bye Bell” and signs off. This is thoughtful dialog from some guy who is the “it”

    Why do we do this?? Why not in kindness help Bell with his struggle or is he just another Piper on the other side? Let’s just lob grenades at one another instead of dialoging like grownups.

    I think there are so many teachers out there who do not know how to correctly handle this doctrine. And in so doing, they have spawned those who reject the entire idea. Instead, we need to carefully expose the Scripture and admit when subjects are hard.

    Why couldn’t Piper and gang have responded differently? Why not say “I disagree with Bell but we are going to have some discussions on the subject.”?

    Look, even Martin Luther got it wrong at times. Should he have been ostracized when he didn’t want James in the Bible?

  42. Anonymous

    OK, so tell me why you are not a cold fish. And don’t go heresy fishing. I disagree with Rob Bell but I think he may be more honest in his feeling than you are. Or, not only am I supposed to disagree with him, I am supposed to blow him off like Piper’s sweet tweet?

  43. Dee,

    We’ll never know (in this life)whether the man who molested Zeller was a Christian, or not. Real believers do commit real crimes. Look at David, the apple of God’s eye. ‘Simul ustes et peccator’ was the thing that really drove the Roman Church nuts. But we affirm that we are both saints and sinners, at once. Not to excuse sin. God’s law will not be mocked and He still pours out His wrath against sin (that won’t change).


  44. Arce,

    The tithe is NOT required of Christians. That would put us back under the yoke of the law.

    A tithe is calculated. It is not a gift fom the heart. Jesus told us himself what a true gift is. Everthing we have.

  45. “I have not seen anyone on here express hate for Mr. Zeller as a victim, and I certainly don’t. ”

    I did not say “you” expressed “hate”. I said the visible church hates victims. This is evidenced by how they treat them. Let us go back and repost your original comment about Zeller as you seem to be now distancing yourself from it:

    “Of course, all I know about this incident is this post. I have no idea about Mr. Zeller’s psychiatric history, the course and extent of treatment, if any.

    It is very hard to diagnose an individual from a suicide note. The note is only a record of his feelings and perspectives. Everything he says may be 100% correct. Or it may not be. Some or all of it may be the product of a mind severly affected by mental illness. There is no way we can determine that.”

    Your first inclination was to question Zeller’s honesty and mental state as if that would mean we should not believe the note. In other words, you would have to have ALL these things in order to believe Zeller.

    And my point is this is exactly why victims stay silent.

  46. Anonymous

    Actually, Bell isn’t saying “all love.” In fact, my understanding is that he isn’t a universalist. Did you know that John Stott believes in annihilationism? I have heard that Bell often toys with that as well. So, is Stottt just a dummy or is he a fellow struggler?

    Here is a link to a CT article looking at the history of this.

    I think Bell is a man in process. It must be nice for these New Calvinists who have the answer to every problem out there. I, on the other hand, struggle with these issues and come out on the side of traditional views but not without a fight in my soul.

  47. I am not sure that anyone posting here has read Bell’s book, and I think that it has been misinterpreted. His issue, according to some reviews, is that traditional thinking has said that moral people, good and kind and generous people, who have not accepted Jesus, have the same fate as abusers, vicious and mean people: an eternity of torment. That is troubling and he suggests some alternatives may be worth considering.

    I do not think Bell is advocating that everyone goes straight to heaven.

    Further, I understand that the book is more questions than answers.

  48. Steve

    I have a hard time believing that a true believer would brutalize a child over a long, long time. David’s sin was short lived. This sin went on for years. However, of course no one knows who is and isn’t a Christian except for God. Still having trouble with this one. Glad others are not.

  49. Arce

    You are correct if the more level headed reviews are to be believed. I intend to read his book. This is not an easy doctrine like some would have us believe. It is easy for those who do not think about the ramifications like so many on the current scene seem to be able to do. If Piper blew off Bell in a tweet as is reported by numerous sources, then shame on him.

  50. “Real believers do commit real crimes. Look at David, the apple of God’s eye.”

    David had true remorse. Look at how Nathan handled that one issue. David also lost sons over his sins. How many battles did David win after that? How did his life end? There were horrible consequences to his sins.

    In effect, we must be careful when we use OT examples because God is the Hero of the OT. Not David or Abraham, etc. David, today would be in jail as a polygamist! Abraham gave his wife to a king for sex!

    God worked through a people HE chose. They were horrible sinners and if you read the OT very closely, you will see instances of God saying He will only save a remnant.

    I fear many pastors today use David as an example to excuse sexual sin. I hear it all the time. They lack understanding of how God worked through “Israel” for His own purposes.

    It is a big mistake. For if we willfully sin knowing the truth then there was no sacrifice. Hebrews 10

    Jesus Christ has sent us a “counselor” to guide us in all things.

  51. Steve
    On the issue of the tithe, there are so many pastors who insist it must be done. There are also sub rules-all must go to the church (included the ones who are building ridiculously expensive edifices to their own glory. Then you must give a gross tithe instead of a net tithe.

    All of this is bunkum. I prefer a simple formula. How much should I give? For most of us, the answer is a bit more. Where should it be given? To some Christian enterprise.

  52. I have a different view of Bell and maybe that is because I was really watching and him and reading him many years ago when he first hit the scene. He was the it guy in many seeker mega’s with his Velvet Elvis and Nooma videos and I watched them all many times. What I came to see was a lot of cheap grace and easy believism in Bell. Of course he asks questions and it is good to ask questions. But I think scripture is pretty clear on some of this and Bell did not like that. This was back when the emergents were having a “conversation” that led no where.

    I agree that dismissing him as Piper does it not the way for a public teacher of the Word to “teach” or correct wrong doctrine. I think Bell presents them with a common enemy and rallies the troops. But I cannot figure out why Piper has such a big problem with Bell but not with Rick Warren or Mark Driscoll both of whom he promoted. Seems inconsistent to me.

  53. Lydia

    Thanks for the insight. You are always way out ahead in these things. You should be the trend predictor for he evangelical set! I am going to read his book so I understand better.

  54. Lydia,

    We all (believers) are lead to repent. And we ALL sin again.

    In God’s eyes, we are ALL murderers. In God’s eyes we have ALL broken ALL the Commandments. The Scriptures tell us (if we bellieve them) that if we have transgressed in one area, then we have transgressed the whole law. So, it is over. Our innocence is lost and can NEVER be regained…by what we do, or don’t do. But in Christ, we are made new. That’s the gospel.

  55. Dee,

    “Bunkum”…I like it!

    When it comes to giving, each Christian is free to give what and where his heart dictates to him/herself.

    And I’m sure we will all fall short of the glory of God. But hey, God knows us, and He loves us anyway. And to the extent that our giving does good, then it is a blessing…even if many times our motives in that giving may be less than stellar.

  56. Dee:

    You are giving me far too much credit for the Bell thing.

    I did not even know who Rob Bell was until the book flap. I saw the Bashir interview and have read one post, and that’s it. My younger pastor friends are talking about it.

    The one comment that I heard the other day was that Rob Bell was a Driscoll “knock off”. He copied what Driscoll does, even the name of his church (so I am told).

    From what I have read, Rob Bell fits nicely in the CJ Maheny/Ed Young Jr. category. Very little real theological training. Apparently good at PR. The book is a PR success, I suppose. Those kind of people do not do much for me. Given that, I am sure that he is a “man in process.”

    I am just not that interested in Bell, but the timing was uncanny. Zeller’s quote could be directed right at Bell, which is a timely topic.

    In my opinion, one of the significant and true things that Christianity teaches is the idea of justice and judgment. That’s why Marx called religion the “opiate of the masses” and wanted to get rid of it. It kept the masses complacent because they believed in justice at the end of the age. To all the downtrodden and martyrs we do say that God is a god of justice. To give up on that is a capitulation of the worst kind.

    I did not know that about Stott. I have read a couple of his books, which have been good. Do you have a reference on that? I have heard that Billy Graham is an annihilationist. I don’t know if that is true either.

    “Hell” is an important topic, not just among “New Calvinists.” My own sense of things, is that hell might even be a bigger deal among non-Calvinists. Go back to Finney, Billy Sunday, Bob Jones Sr., and today.

    I did not understand the “bait” comment, but now I do. The suspicion is that I was trying to get you to say something good or bad about Bell to somehow use it against you.

    Please disabuse yourself of that notion. I do not have it out for you. I enjoy your blog from time to time. That’s it. Promise.

    Cold fish? I am not familiar with that term.

    I took the letter that Zeller wrote to be true, basically. It would really be weird for someone to make up molestation at his age. I am sure that it has been done by someone, but I would not tend to lean in that direction. But some of his letter, especially the parent part, seemed really strange. We all have persectives of our parents. Some are true. Some are not true. Some are somewhere in between.

    I am sure that Zeller was terribly distressed, and from what I can see from the letter, it goes back decades.

    The reason I asked if we were supposed to know the Zellers was that I thought we were. Like Jim Jones or something. I thought maybe they were big, well known people. Famous in some sort of ministry.


  57. Has anyone commenting here actually read Bell’s latest book?

    (fwiw, I have, and i liked it a lot, while not agreeing with him on every point – however, i think he is right to ask questions and re-examine many things that seem to result from “received wisdom” – in other words, a particular reading of Scripture… )

    and that’s all I will say here; a lot of recent comments seem to be a dodge to get away from the real issues presented in Zeller’s suicide note and in this post.

  58. Anonymous

    Read the link I gave you to Christianity Today. It mentions Stott in that article.

    I just ordered Bell’s book for my Kindle and will get right on it. I will do a post or two going through what is in his book.

    One of the reasons that many victims of molestation do not speak of their situation is because, in the past, many would question such a horrendous story.This revictimizes them all over gain because it took tremendous courage to speak of it. I was a public health nurse and had many families involved in abuse.

    It is exceedingly rare for a story like this to be made up. Usually when victim makes up stories, it is for gain. Take, for example, a kid flunking at school. He accuses his teacher to deflect. Zeller had no benefit for himself in this story. He killed himself, for goodness sake.

    Bell is no Driscoll. I dislike Driscoll’s antics but he is believer in hell.

    Billy Graham says this” Will a loving God send a man to hell? The answer is — yes, because He is just. But He does not send him willingly. Man condemns himself by his refusal of God’s way of salvation. In love and mercy, God is offering to men and women a way of escape, a way of salvation, a hope and anticipation of better things. Man in his blindness, stupidity, stubbornness, egotism, and love of sinful pleasure refuses God’s simple method of escaping the pangs of eternal banishment.”

    However, I have heard the same thing as you.

    Sorry for being suspicious. There are some out there who would love to prove that I do not toe the line on certain issues in order to marginalize what I have to say about a number of issues that involve abuse.

    I guess the reason I had a hard time with what you wrote is that it seemed dispassionate. This was a deeply painful, emotional story. Think of the little boy playing with his legos and being in such pain. For parents, the idea of a little boy being brutalized and not having an outlet for his pain has to be one of the saddest things imaginable. My daughter had a malignant brain tumor when she was 3. She had a rough road but we were there along with friends, the church, counselors, etc. She is now healed,confidant young woman who wants to work with sick children.

    Zeller had no such help. It appears his parents ignored signals of his pain. They were very careful in his friendships so the abuser must have been in the family or even, worse, an immediate member. How such a thing could go on for years and the parents not now is beyond belief. My guess is that the parents knew and chose to ignore it for some reason, most likely to protect someone other than their son.

    I have had the misfortune to see children who have been horribly abused. There are images that will never go away.That is why I feel so passionately about this subject. The church has failed in many instances to protect our most vulnerable. When they are abused, the church hides and points fingers in other directions, not infrequently at the victims themselves. I have some experience with this as well. It has profoundly changed the way I view pastoral and elder leadership, believing now that they are capable of horrendous sin and that the church needs to become more accountable to its members.

    So forgive me if I have been impertinent. I am just deeply moved by this subject. I pray your church would never, ever cover up abuse, would take a child’s expressed concerns seriously and would call in the authorities as well as get intensive counseling for the victims.

    Finally, we all have views on our parents. Usually be the time we reach our 20s we begin to see them for who they really are. I think Zeller told us exactly who his parents are. And their silence is deafening.

  59. Steve

    My current pastor has a saying. “Even on my best days, my motives are mixed.” And, if we are really honest, our motives are never pure.

  60. Numo:

    As I stated, I have not read Bell’s book.

    What, briefly, did you agree with him on, and what did you disagree with? (And, no, I am not trying to bait you so that I can report you to the heresy police)

    I see the real issues presented in this suicide note, not in any particular order, to be the tragedy of young adult suicide and the need for good mental health, the horror of child molestation and its lingering effects (including the all too common effect on sexual identity issues), the need to report molestation and confront accusers (regardless of the chances of potential success).

  61. Numo

    Bell’s book is currently on my Kindle and I will start reading tout suite! Besides, if it is a book with a lot of questions, I will enjoy it more. There are far too many people who actually think they have doctrine down to an elegant equation except they have not gotten past Algebra One.

  62. “In God’s eyes, we are ALL murderers. In God’s eyes we have ALL broken ALL the Commandments. The Scriptures tell us (if we bellieve them) that if we have transgressed in one area, then we have transgressed the whole law. So, it is over. Our innocence is lost and can NEVER be regained…by what we do, or don’t do. But in Christ, we are made new. That’s the gospel.”

    Steve, first of all, I am a Gentile so I am not sure how the law comes into play with my salvation. I think I understand how you are using the law but am not sure.

    Also, we were never innocent. We are born into sinful corrupted bodies. So we cannot “lose” innocence because we never had it to begin with. That is foundational to the Gospel. Only Adam and Eve were ever once innocent. Maybe I misunderstood you and you were referring to Adam and Eve?

    If we are made “new” in Christ as you say, then how could we rape a child while “new”? Scripture also says to work out our salvation with “fear and trembling”.

    I really do have a different understanding of the doctrine of sin. I think that salvation is FREE but I do not think it is as easy as everyone wants us to believe. First of all, I believe the “changed life” is walking on a balance beam. Too far one way and it is easy believism. Cheap grace. No changed life. Just Jesus as an assessory.

    On the other hand, too far the other way and it is pure legalism. A religion of dos and don’t instead of abiding in Christ and being guided by the holy Spirit. (Teaching on the Holy Spirit is just about nill in many churches today)

    I tried to explain it earlier about how the scripture describes it as “practicing” sin that is the problem. Living in willful continual sin means there is no sacrfiice. Hebrews 10. I even gave lists in scripture as to what I was talking about and how sscripture describes in several places that we cannot ‘practise’ these things and expect to inherit the kingdom of God. John called it “walking in the light” which denotes a lifestyle. Yes, we sin but we do not live in continual sin because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit whose Grace gives us godly sorrow for sin. When saved we begin to hate the sin we once loved.

    This really hit home to me when reading Paul in Acts 20 years ago. Paul claimed he had ‘no blood on his hands” because he proclaimed the full will of God to them (The Gospel). What does he mean by “blood on his hands”?

    He means there is bad news or else there is NO good news. Without the bad news, the Good News is meaningless. He did not preach a Gospel of easy believism. He preached a Gospel that said we must take up a cross and follow Him. He preached a Gosple that said we are “Crucified with Christ” and I no longer live but Christ lives IN me.

    He KNEW wolves were coming into the Body from even among the leaders he was talking to. He knew the Gospel would be diluted by licentiousness (Jude) or legalism (See Galatians).

    What most people miss is that repentance is a work of Grace. Without repentance we cannot be Born Again. And repentance becomes a lifestyle for a believer.

    We do not know who will be saved in the end. But we can see fruit for today. And if we cannot make jugdements about fruit, then we cannot rebuke and help others work out their salvation with fear and trembling. There is a reason Paul told the Corinthians to kick out the sexually immoral member of their Body. Paul said it was so he could be “saved”.

    But what I am understanding from you is that Paul was wrong to suggest that person was not saved even though he claimed to be saved while living that lifestyle of sin.

    Paul was only going by what he was told. he was not even there and this was his counsel to that Body.

  63. Dee:

    Thanks. Again, I agree with everything that you say about abuse and its effects.

    Neither I nor our church would ever cover such a thing up. I think that may be more common in rural churches, homeschool, patriarchal or other social settings. (I hate to say that. I know it’s stereotyping, but that’s how I feel).

    I agree with you about the likelihood of abuse here.

    I am cautious, however, about agreeing to the narrative about the parents. I don’t even know these people. I can identify with what he is saying about them, and my inclination is to accept that. Still, however, I don’t feel that is fair. I really don’t think it is fair for me to draw any conclusions about the fact that they have not said anything publicly. I can’t blame them. They could be as bad as Zeller says in the note. But I have seen instances in working with teens over the years, especially really smart ones, that while they have an honestly felt perspective, sometimes it’s not accurate.

    I don’t think that Zeller is lying. That would be absurd. But it could be that his view of reality was warped.

    I have not problem, for the sake of discussion, assuming the truth of his parental portrait. But I have a hard time making any firm judgments about it. In fact, I feel (for me) that woudl be wrong based on the little bit of information that I have.

    Hope you understand what I am saying and the spriit in which I am saying it.

  64. Bell asks *lots* of questions… and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the content of the book.

    He certainly isn’t someone who claims to know all the answers, which I like very much!

  65. @ anonymous: I won’t get into an involved discussion of Bell’s book on this thread, and really, I think it works better (in general) for people to read and then bat comments around. 🙂

  66. “Steve, first of all, I am a Gentile so I am not sure how the law comes into play with my salvation. I think I understand how you are using the law but am not sure. ”

    Yikes, I can see where this might easily become misunderstood! I did not communicate this well at all. I meant to say that no one has ever been saved by keeping the law. Even in the OT. The law was a “tutor” to show people how sinful they were. (See Galatians 3)

    Hebrews teaches us that those saved in the OC were saved by Faith. Not keeping the law.

  67. Anonymous

    Perhaps it is the public health nurse in me. I was trained to look for clues because everything in life is a “he said, she said.” Of course no one knows for sure. That is why there are innocent men on death row. However, if I had been asked to evaluate this family situation, i would say there is high likelihood for abuse to be present and would ask for further investigation, involving police and court psychologists. If children were still at home, I would ask they be removed immediately until an investigation was completed. And I am sure a judge would agree with me.

    Also, I believe one should err on the side of the person making the accusation in this sort of situation. This is not something that most people can easily talk about and there is little reason for a lie.

    AS for this being in rural churches- I know three situations all too well. One is in a major university community. One is in a state capital and the other is in one of the largest cities in the south. All have pastors with advanced degrees from well known universities and seminaries.

    And yes, I take what you say in god spirits. But, I might add, you might feel differently if you see a baby with vaginal tearing. I am emotional about this. I admit it.

  68. I have an acquaintance who lost a mother at an early age, then was abused by a neighbor over an extended period of time, and as a result lives with HIV and other medical issues. He is a wonderful Christian, but does have issues of trust with people, sometimes putting trust in the wrong ones and other times not trusting the right ones. I suspect that the trust issues have their source in the abuse and in being raised without a mother.

    Some things are extremely difficult to understand. I have read Zeller’s letter more than once. Parts of it he wrote and rewrote, at least according to what was said. It shows evidence of organization and thought that suggests he edited parts of it more that once.

    I believe what he said about his parents, because I have seen that behavior more than a few times. I think it is rare for a suicide to not attempt to make amends if the estrangement due to mutual issues, thus he must have believed his parents to be culpable to a great extent.

  69. “Also, I believe one should err on the side of the person making the accusation in this sort of situation. This is not something that most people can easily talk about and there is little reason for a lie.”

    Absolutely. Because if we do not err on that side then there is little hope for a true investigation or helping the victim. The biggest hurdle for the victim is being believed. Mainly because the abuser is usually someone close or in the family. It rocks everyone’s world.

    Problem is, little kids have a hard time articulating the experiences. I learned this first hand while volunteering in a women’s shelter. We would know there was evidence of sexual abuse but even an 8 year old cannot articulate it well. To some, it was normal it had been going on for so long! But we knew it would NOT seem normal when they were 20.

    This has never happened to me but I think I have a responsibility to try and understand the victim. I must be tolerant that they did not speak up until 20 years later even though I do not really understand it. I must try to understand why.

    As believers we are to carry one another’s burdens. The pagans pointed to the early Christians and said: Look at how they love one another and care for one another! That goes a long way in showing the true love of Christ to those who are perishing. This is what it seems Zeller did not see from believers. He saw that a pedophile could go to heaven but Catholics were going to hell.

    Righteous anger (emotion) is appropriate in these situations.

    That is nothing to be ashamed of and anyone who tries to write this off as “emotionalism” has a hard heart.

  70. God’s law is not just the 10 Commandments, but every demand that existence places upon us. “Not one jot or tittle of law will done away..” with until Jesus returns.

    The law still applies to Christians, but it no longer can condemn us, because of Christ. It’s job is to accuse us and drive us to Christ, and that we may live together as best we can.

  71. Anonymous

    I think you are a different anonymous than the one before. I cant keep them all straight. You are very wise in what you have said. Most people, prior to a suicide, try to make amends. He was quite harsh, especially with his father. He did seem to soften a bit towards his mother and even seemed concerned about the pain should would suffer after his death. My guess is that, at the minimum, the father ruled the roost and she needed to submit in order to survive. However, there is definitely some blame aimed at her and I wonder if she was possibly aware of the abuse and turned a blind eye like some mothers I have worked with.

    Good for you for picking up that he edited this note over time. This was a long term plan and it seems to be have been finally precipitated by his realization that he could not have normal relationships with a significant other.

    I still harp on the issues he had with the bathroom. That speaks loud and clear to me about the abuse. So few people, except specialist, are aware of this problem that, in itself, this is almost 100% proof that abuse occurred. I am still so sad about his story and only wished I could have befriended him. I know many others wish the same.

  72. “…In God’s eyes, we are ALL murderers. In God’s eyes we have ALL broken ALL the Commandments. The Scriptures tell us (if we bellieve them) that if we have transgressed in one area, then we have transgressed the whole law. So, it is over. Our innocence is lost and can NEVER be regained…by what we do, or don’t do. But in Christ, we are made new. That’s the gospel…”

    I think it depends entirely on one’s own vantage point. If one chooses to believe what others (The Vatican, Calvin, Luther, Piper or whomever) tell them is the ONLY valid vantage point, then fine, have at it.

    For me however, the above citations are a mixture of hyperbole and poetic metaphor designed to illustrate the deeper truth of the darkness in every human soul.

    If I have no divine spark of goodness at birth in addition to the badness, then I have to find a work around for Romans 2:13-16 as well as the proposition that I am created in God’s image, and that I am born with the ability to choose between goodness or badness.

    In addition, I find not one shred of “good news” in the certainty held by some that a Chinaman who spits in the laundry deserves the same fate as Josef Mengele.

  73. “God’s law is not just the 10 Commandments, but every demand that existence places upon us. “Not one jot or tittle of law will done away..” with until Jesus returns.

    The law still applies to Christians, but it no longer can condemn us, because of Christ. It’s job is to accuse us and drive us to Christ, and that we may live together as best we can.”

    Steve, I know this is not the place to debate the law but your view is not even logical. It is the view the Judaizers had in Galatians that Paul was so vehemet about. How could the law apply to Christians when Christianity quickly became mostly Gentile? Did the law apply to Gentiles before they were saved, too? HOw could the law “accuse” Gentiles? They would have to be schooled in the law before they could be saved according to your interpretation. And this is exactly what the Judaizers were teaching!~

    As to ‘jot a tittle” passage in Matthew. You have greatly misunderstood this. Jesus “fulfilled” the law.

    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

    Matthew 5

    It was accomplished on the Cross. We are now under the law of love with an indwelling Holy Spirit sent to be our “counselor”. Believers no longer need the law. They have the Holy Spirit.

  74. The pastor of Middletown Bible Church in Middletown, CT had complete unfettered access to Bill and his older brother, John Zeller, and his family lived with the pastor and his family during the 5 or 6 years of Bill’s life.

    Jan 11, 2011 7:46 AM:
    ” I also grew up at MBC. I do agree that you cannot call everyone from MBC evil and that many children who grew up there are now healthy happy adults, but apparently not all of us had the same experiences. Growing up, what I felt from the church was coldness and judgement instead of love (which is what they preached from the pulpit, but obviously did not practice.) I saw them tell parents to kick their children out of the house instead of offering them help when they got into trouble. I saw them threaten to kick parents out of the choir because their child was being rebellious. I don’t know about you, but if God is love shouldn’t the church be? Instead of being so judgemental and cold? And influencing my parents to treat me the same way when I felt lost and alone and needed help? I agree that no one knew what happened Bill. I myself knew John better, who also suffered from depression. And I’m not saying the church had anything to do with it, but I am saying, I’m sure it didn’t help the matter any. RIP Bill, I pray (yes, I still believe in God though I’ll never trust a church again) that you found peace and I hope that your swan song helps someone else who’s struggling with ‘the darkness’. “

  75. Ellie

    Thank you for that awesome new item. I will be interested to see if his parents or the pastor seeks to bring the molester to justice. If not, then I will have my answer. If I was that mother, assuming that I wasn’t in on the abuse, I would spend the rest of my life finding this pedophile and using every penny I had to bring him to justice. Then, my church would have to hold me down so i wouldn’t cause serious bodily harm to the pedophile. But, that is a normal response and normal is not what happened in this strange church and family. Something was terribly wrong and I bet someone knows who is to blame.

  76. Muff

    What I like about you is that you ask the hard questions. So many people gloss over the issues and lose their humanity in their triteness. I struggle with these questions as well and I have some ideas on how to approach an answer to them but I want to read Bell’s book first. So, stay tuned.

  77. Muff Potter,

    “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

    There’s your Chinaman and your mass murderer.

    There’s only one way out, and that is Christ Jesus. It’s great that God has done something our sin problem.

  78. RE: Steve Martin says: @ Thu, Apr 07 2011 at 07:33 pm

    It’s true all have sinned Steve, but the real question then becomes: Do all sins require a death sentence?

  79. Yes.

    “The wages of sin is death.”

    A perfect and righteous God cannot have anything less than perfect abiding with Him.

    So Christ paid the penalty and took our sins upom Himself, and forgives us.

    That whoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

    I didn’t make any of that up. It’s all in the good book.

  80. … my bad – the rest of the verse.

    The part about God’s love, his gift of himself, and eternal life.

    (Not a fan of the whole “penal substitution” view of Christ’s atonement, really…)

  81. Thanks, numo.

    I take it all as a complete package. The fall, the love, the solution, the gift, the battle.

    It’s a great rescue story from a God who just have just as easily decided to wipe us out and be done with us.

  82. i cannot believe in a god who might consider wiping out his creatures, though… where’s the grace and mercy?

    i think God is *not* a temperamental being.

  83. He did it before.

    He may not be tempermental, but neither is He sentimental. One look around at this world and all the suffering and death that occurs each day ought to convince you of that fact.

  84. What’s wrong with being sentimental? He’s our Father, He sent Jesus to rescue us, He fearfully & wonderfully made us, He’s our strong tower…I could go on and on.
    Are you from SGM? They thought being “sentimental” was a defect also.

  85. Ellie
    God created us with sentimentality. Are you saying that SGM was against that, too? Good night!

  86. I was saying that God is not sentimental.

    He is just. He is righteous.

    But He pretty much lets everything happen in this fallen world.

    A children’s cancer ward is enough evidence of that.

  87. “i cannot believe in a god who might consider wiping out his creatures, though… where’s the grace and mercy?”

    What about the flood?

  88. Yes, Dee. They couldn’t “stand on sentimentality”. Even if you had been old friends, but didn’t go along with every non-essential SGM espoused, you needed to move along to a church where you would be “better served”.