"These people do not know that while Barak trembled, Deborah saved Israel, that Esther delivered from supreme peril the children of God … Is it not to women that our Lord appeared after His Resurrection? Yes, and the men could then blush for not having sought what the women had found."
–Jerome, after criticism for dedicating his books to women
Your glamorous blogger with plumbing supply line
As many of you know, I follow a blog called New ExChristians.net. Link. Why? The number of people professing no religion is on the rise in the United States. The New Atheism is gaining strength and their leaders, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Bart Ehrman are increasingly taking on Christians for the hypocrisy of their actions as well as their theology.
This blog is made up of many, many people who claim to have been committed Christians but have since left the faith. They give a variety of arguments for their loss of faith. Most frequently they cite the insistence on the dubious science of YEC. It is fascinating to read their anti-testimonies in which they recount their years in churches.
I think it behooves all churches to see why these folks are not only leaving a particular church but why they are leaving the faith. It is always difficult, yet most illuminating, to look at ourselves through the eyes of those who used to agree with us.
I found this recent comment most convicting. Frankly, the writer is absolutely correct in his observations. The church has an abysmal record in dealing with pedophiles.
"A few years later, (I) learned that one of the “golden boys” of the fellowship (who married a popular young girl there), was arrested and imprisoned for abusing children in his position as a school photographer"
It's amazing how welcomed and accepted pedophiles are by the xtian community! Any question of someone's motives of wanting to work with kids, and your (sic) being "judgmental"!
I want to make a controversial statement. I believe the willingness to cover up pedophile activity in the church is only one symptom of a larger and complex set of beliefs. Taken together, these beliefs are a predictor of church responses in issues of abuse. I will tie this together with a statement by Cindy Kunsman at the end of this post.
In the following segment of the 20/20 interview, we see various “doctrines” being preached from a number of the IFB pulpits. It is important to realize that not ALL IFB churches advocate these beliefs but there are a significant number that do. I also want to reiterate that the IFB is not the only church group to advocate these “rules. One of our alert readers told us of a term called neo-fundamentalism that spans all supposed conservative Christian groups. We will show some similarities between these groups after the video.
Pay close attention to the following issues.
- Advocacy of spanking and bruising of children as young as 2 WEEKS old
- Women cannot teach men about theology.
- A woman’s appearance contributes to sin on the part of a male.
- Advocacy of patriarchy
- Abdication of responsibility for other IFB churches due to “autonomy.”
Advocacy of spanking of children as young as 2 WEEKS old along with whacking other kids as much as 100 times.
We have already written a series on the Pearl form of discipline. Link. We found their methods to be heinous and now believe that any church that advocates this method should be investigated for child abuse.
They advocate spanking young children as much as possible to break their will. The Schatz family, spoken of in the video segment, ended up killing their 7 year old daughter by utilizing their recommended method of spanking with a plumber’s supply line. One other child was hospitalized in critical condition but is expected to survive.
The Pearl books and methods are often found, as well as advocated in IFB churches. However, there is a wide swath of folks from various denominations who follow the Pearls and extol their virtues. This is particularly seen in some homeschooling groups. Link
I found an interesting blog, IFB Survivors: Soul, Liberty, Faith, LINK, which is run by a former long-term IFB member. Here is her observation on the 20/20 special.
“Although I do not believe they (Schatz) were connected to any legitimate IFB church, the child ‘training’ book they used by Michael and Debbie Pearl is sold in the ‘church bookstore’ of many IFB churches, including the one I came out of. I can not comment on whether or not they still provide the book at the cult (her view of her former IFB church) I came out of, but when I left 2 years ago, it was still being sold in their church.”
Update for our readers:
Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz pled guilty as part of a plea bargain and their case will not go to trial. Kevin Schatz will serve at least 22 years of a life sentence and Elizabeth Schatz will serve 13 years. Link
Advocacy of the submission of women as well as patriarchy.
Although there is a strong patriarchal culture in the IFB, it is not isolated to this group of churches. One only has to read the materials of Council of (their interpretation of) Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), which is sponsored by just about any Reformed big dog one can imagine. Such groups routinely come out with statements such as “women being gullible and easily deceived. “
It is becoming evident that the term complementarian is being used to obfuscate, for many, their true view of the role of men and women. Although Russell Moore, at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, made the following statement which can be found on the ever “pro manly theology” Bayly Blog. Link
"Russell Moore: Gender identity and “complementarianism… I hate ….the word 'complementarian', I prefer the word 'patriarchy'…”
If one reads the comment section in that link, you will see that the readers of said blog agree with Moore.
Women have no place in theological discussions with men.
One of the IFB pastors in this segment makes a strong statement that a woman should not teach theology to a man. Listening to him, I can imagine why he feels this way. His theology is so bizarre that he probably feels the need to eliminate 50% of his potential detractors.
Once again, if you investigate groups such as Sovereign Grace Ministries, as well as many SBC and Reformed churches, you will find that women are not allowed to teach men, ever. Paige Patterson even fired a woman from the seminary for teaching Hebrew. I guess since Jesus spoke Hebrew, the language itself is now a theological matter.
Any guy who reads this blog, and believes that he should not learn about any theological issue from a woman, is potentially guilty of serious sin. I would suggest repentance to commence post haste.
Women are blamed for the straying of their patriarchs.
A woman who “lets herself go” is the reason that men are tempted to stray according to an IFB pastor in the video. Funny, nothing is said about how a poorly dressed, overweight guy might contribute to his wife's wish to go out clubbing. This theme is being picked up by none other than the “ever trying too hard to be hip” Pastor Mark Driscoll. Link.
"Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors' wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either."
As an aside, don’t you think that an overweight pastor with a penchant for tight Mickey Mouse t-shirts should be a bit more careful in pointing the finger at women? Also, to alleviate the fears of our readers, we may be discussing theology but we are always well dressed and coiffed while doing so.
The autonomy of churches excuse for not confronting sin.
Once again, no one is responsible for anything that happens within the IFB because all the churches are “autonomous.” Can you imagine the Apostle Paul refusing to chastise a pastor because of “autonomy?” What about the guy who was sleeping with his father's wife?
I believe that those pastors, who have kept their mouth shut in the face of serious wrong-doing within the SBC, SGM, IFB and others, will one day need to answer to God for their silence in the face of great evil. Such silence allows for wicked men to prosper and that, in anyone’s book, is wrong.
How do we tie these issues together.
There seems to be a bigger picture that can be understood when one looks at these issues as interconnected as opposed to separate problems.
Cindy Kunsman wrote the following assessment at her excellent blog Under Much Grace. Link.
“In a previous post, we mentioned that cultures which demand blind obedience and that operate under authoritarian styles displace critical thinking and even punish it, requiring that discernment be relinquished to a group, a system, or an authority. But this is just one piece to the puzzle – a group of conditions that create a perfect storm that dashed the Schatz Family against the rocks.
Moral disengagement creates yet another factor that causes perspective to dissolve into an alternate reality. Within complementarianism, religious leaders redefine women as creatures who are not only subordinate to men and of lesser essence than men, but they are said to be the natural and most dangerous adversary of men. Men are told that they are at war with them. In the Pearl's system of child training, parents are taught that their evil little domineering infants plot against them in a domestic war on the home front that will last for decades. The parent is taught to win at all costs, making grovelling (sic) peasants of their miserable rebel seed.”
Add to this assessment, a culture of silence and I believe we have the breeding ground for disaster. How many children will need to die, how many women will need to be blamed for their husband’s infidelity and beaten before these churches begin to understand that their insistence on certain doctrines may be the cause of violence, pain, and loss of faith? SBC, IFB, SGM, Acts29, PCA, whatever, you all have pastors and churches which are guilty of such deviant behavior. One day, you will answer to God.
Lydia's Corner: Joshua 16:1-18:28 Luke 19:1-27 Psalm 87:1-7 Proverbs 13:11