The Washington Post Investigates Sovereign Grace Ministries

“Every time a newspaper dies, even a bad one, the country moves a little closer to authoritarianism." Richard Kluger

 

The London Eye

 

Michelle Boorstein

The Washington Post

202-334-4451 (direct line).

 

Once again, TWW must apologize to the people who have asked us to write about the aversion to clinical psychology in today's post-evangelical church. Lord willing, we will start the series tomorrow.

TWW has received communication from several sources alerting us that the Washington Post is investigating the happenings at SGM. If the number of hits  at TWW are any indication, such a story would receive widespread interest..

Kris, over at SGM Survivor's posted the following comment yesterday  LINK:

"I received a request yesterday from a reporter at the Washington Post. She is interested in talking with those who are willing to go on the record, under their real names, and speak about their experiences with Sovereign Grace Ministries. This reporter and I have exchanged several emails, and we’ve come up with the following arrangement: if you would be willing to be interviewed, please email me, and I will forward your message on to her."

TWW decided to check with the Washington Post to verify if, indeed,  a reporter has been assigned to this story. Dee called the Post and was able to speak with Michelle Boorstein who is covering this developing situation.

Ms. Boorstein is particularly interested in how SGM handled the reported cases of sexual abuse. However, due to the serious nature of these claims, she needs to have people who are willing to go on record with their identities. Apparently, SGM is denying any wrongdoing.

So, this is the moment for courageous people to stand up for the truthfulness of their claims. Such a stance may be instrumental in preventing further tragedies of the kind that have been described on this blog and several others. Such stories of abuse are surfacing for other ministries. Lessons need to be learned and, unfortunately, many churches do not "do the right thing" until outsiders look in. Some might say that the media can be an instrument of God's reproof.

This blog is named in honor of the castle that concealed Martin Luther from the clutches of a murderous Pope. Luther freely used the newly invented Gutenberg Press to publish his dissent from the Roman Catholic Church. Was that a Matthew 18 solution? Yet it spawned a reformation that changed the face of the world. Maybe Matthew 18 doesn't always apply?

We know that it is very difficult to go on the record. It took us a full year before we were willing to divulge our identities on this blog. Many people, who have fled the SGM system, still bear the scars and pain of their experience. We want all of you to know that you are no longer "accountable" to heavy handed leaders. The worst they can do is hurt your feelings. And, for most of you, your feelings could not be hurt any more than they have been already.

Here is Boorstein's contact information. She gave us permission to post this.

 

Michelle Boorstein

The Washington Post

202-334-4451  (direct line).

 

Ms Boorstein is a professional and she knows how to handle these difficult stories. She is already aware of the basic elements of this story. The two of us encourage you to share your experiences. If you have questions, we are available by email and phone which can be found in our contact information.

Finally, the leaders at SGM have never shied away from putting their faces in the public eye. They have called to the world to "Look at us" by their books, interviews and conferences. Well, they got what they asked for. People looked. The only problem is this. The watching world may not like what it sees and no amount of fussing by frustrated leaders can change this. The system needs to change.

 

Lydia's Corner: 1 Kings 20:1-21:29 Acts 12:24-13:15 Psalm 137:1-9 Proverbs 17:16

Comments

The Washington Post Investigates Sovereign Grace Ministries — 157 Comments

  1. Numo

    Let us pray that some leaders will finally get their acts together. I just added a line. Apparently SGM is denying wrongdoing.

  2. Yes, I saw that over on Survivors (denial of wrongdoing).

    I cannot believe that anyone in charge there is going to get their act together, though… not after reading notes from the latest CLC “family meeting” in comments on Survivors.

    I wonder if anyone will end up going to prison? (Not as far-fetched as it might seem re. the sexual abuse stuff…)

  3. Anonymouse

    Go over to FBC Jax Watchdog and read today’s post. Trust me, his day may be coming, sooner than we might think.

  4. an aside: it seems like there is a lot of upset over the idea of people talking to the press, judging from comments elsewhere.

    Has the so-called “Christian” media done well with *any* of this?

    I personally believe the answer to that question is NO.

    The Post has done some excellent stories in the past re. abusive churches, in particular a long-form (magazine) article about the Mother of God Catholic charismatic community in Gaithersburg, MD some years back.

    Outside observers can be very astute. (Not always, but I’ve seen good things come of it before…)

  5. OMG (literally) – Driscoll “has visions” of violent sexual assaults? He’s certainly sounding like a man with serious mental health problems (among other things).

    now we “know” the source of his machete story.

  6. Numo
    The Driscoll video is about the worse I have ever seen. He is playing a post evangelical version of the Sixth Sense. Say in a whisper “I see women being raped.” He also sees the positions assumed by the rapist and rapee.(Is that a word?) Sick stuff.

    As for a machete…old Driscoll must overstate the case so he sounds more manly. It was a small knife and they didn’t get anywhere near him but it makes him sound soooo macho.

  7. @ Dee: yes, I saw the comments clarifying the supposed machete story, but who’s to say he hasn’t seen a man with a machete in one of his “visions”?

    And this is the same guy who called Avatar the most Satanic movie he’d ever seen… sheesh.

  8. Re. The Sixth Sense: the thing is, the kid was sincere. He did see things. (obvy, or there wouldn’t have been much of a plot!)

    What a sick power trip Driscoll is on. I can’t imagine why anyone would listen to a word he says, ever again, but that’s just me.

  9. I’ll just add that this kind of “vision” seems to be on the level of “cursing” people when done by a pastor. (And yes, that actually was said to me – not once, but twice! – by the same “pastor” who was responsible for getting me booted… all the curses in Deuteronomy! And if I kept using a cane – which I sometimes need when an injury flares up – I would die young!!!)

  10. Pingback: A chance for victims to get their story out | Civil Commotion

  11. The rod of man will judge the church if they are unwilling to live by Christian standards, or even just the requirement of the basic civil laws. It is a sad thing.

  12. I’ll be curious to see if the Washington Post can make a legal case against SGM’s handling of some difficult situations.

    Anonymous blogger comments will apparently not be used.

  13. Dee,

    I’m glad you called the Washington Post and spoke to the reporter yourself. Doesn’t sound like the reporter was reluctant to give you her contact info to share on the blog.

    Makes me wonder if the “arrangement” Kris at survivors made with the reporter involved her wanting to be the middleman rather than being asked to be the middleman.

    Maybe someone is getting too big for their britches. This story is going way beyond what any one person can hope to contain. And that’s a good thing!

  14. Dee said; “There is more to this story than “making” a legal case.”

    I’ve read at least one commenter wondering about the possibility of jail time.

    We KNOW there’s been a tremendous lot of smoke regarding SMG.
    Has Brent Detwiler uncovered any illegal activities? Has he suggested any felonious discoveries? Has he posted proof that SGM has purposely circumvented the law or have his allegations been basically that SGM staff acted in a less than Christian manner, according to his definition of Christian manner.

    Are we stuck with the Wartburg’s poorly defined “abusive neglect” as the worst thing that can be said about SGM.

    So far SGM seems to have avoided adultery, fornication, theft, pastors socking congregants and youth directors smoking dope with the kids.

    Maybe the W. Post will tell us if there is truly a fire. I look forward to it.

  15. Awesome post… I went over to Jax Watcdog. It appears that Seneca trolls there as well. I find it interesting that this person uses time each day to comment on specific survivor and discernment blogs and repeat one negative thing afer te other and people put up with him.

  16. @ Eagle: An “orgasm of excitement”?

    Seriously.

    I think a lot of folks who comment here have more than a little experience with abusive religious organizations (churches, parachurch ministries, etc.) and are inclined to be skeptical of “circle the wagons and rally the faithful” strategies.

    Ever read Jeff Sharlet’s article on Ted Haggard’s old church? Published in the Atlantic some years back.) Not only was he fair, he was able to observe – and articulate – things that those close to the organization were unwilling to admit to, or even, in many cases, see.

    Personally, I think Sharlet’s reporting on the charismatic/evangelical world has been excellent and, if anything, fair to all parties. (Alarming – yes, but Sharlet is *not* an alarmist, which is an entirely different thing.)

    I have hopes – based on some of the Post’s previous religion coverage – that this will work out reasonably well. If it brings justice for those whose children have been harmed by pedophiles, that would be a HUGE thing.

    One point that is (imo) important is that no writer – no matter how fair and impartial, no matter how gifted a reporter/writer – is ever going to be able to publish *all* of the relevant material that they gather. there are word limits, and there are editors – and something always ends up on the journalistic version of the cutting room floor. Some aspect of the story is always going to be shorted, because that’s how it works when you’re writing to deadline and there are only so many thousand words allowed per feature. (While not a journalist myself, I used to write music reviews – where the word limits are very severe – and it’s never, ever possible to cover *all* of the important points in a review. Just doesn’t happen – writers have to make compromises all the time.)

    I hope this all pans out, as I think it could be very helpful for people who’ve been through the storm with SGM as well as for those who’ve been in there kind of sleepwalking – and for those outside.

    Y’know, learning to figure out how to spot a cult… that nice shiny-looking church down the road might just be one.

  17. Eagle

    I look at this as God’s sovereign will. I have no idea who went to the Washington Post. However, we have been reading horrible stories about SGM for several years not only at the SGM survivor type blogs but on other sites.

    Meantime, Mahaney and the others who followed lockstep were forcing themselves into the public limelight via books, conferences, etc. They wanted people to come to their churches to “see” how church should be done.So, people came and noticed. But, some of them were noticing some issues and they turned to the Internet to wrote about them when the pastors in those churches pushed back when they asked questions.

    The other nonSGM leaders jumped on their bandwagon-Mohler. Driscoll, Duncan, Dever-inviting them to come speak at their churches and conferences. They endorsed their books and had Mahaney endorse theirs. All the while, seemingly ignoring the rather easy to discover information that things were not what they seems. Frankly, if they had taken about 5 minutes to see who they were dancing with, they might have been more cautious.

    For all the supposedly brilliant leaders out there, they have shown pure stupidity in dealing with hurting members . It is frankly an indictment of a system that practiced a shoddy faith in spite of their “proper” theology.

    So, I saw this coming for awhile now. Too bad they didn’t. They could have nipped this all in the bud but they went into a protect” SGM mode, never considering that SGM needed to radically change.

    I look at this stuff and shake my head. They have gotten what God apparently thinks they deserve.

    However, I would not want to be that reporter. The political strings are going to be pulled and there will be pressure brought to bear.

  18. NLR

    See my response to Eagle. As far as I am concerned, SGM leaders have been stuck on stupid for a number of years. This would have been so easy to remedy by paying just a little lip service to the hurting people in their churches. They couldn’t even break their self serving rhetoric to pretend to be concerned. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  19. Quote from Numo,

    “The Post has done some excellent stories in the past re. abusive churches, in particular a long-form (magazine) article about the Mother of God Catholic charismatic community in Gaithersburg, MD some years back.”

    Seems I read somewhere that in C.J. Mahaney’s early days he was involved in the Catholic charismatic movement in that area.

  20. Numo

    I believe that SGM will survive this. i also believe that some pastors may even attempt to be “nice” once in awhile. My guess is that there will be a change in culture within their non denomination denomination. And there may be some people who will stand up to stupidity in a more vocal fashion and some might even be heard.

    As a blogger who has a love for history, I believe this is history in the making for the post evangelical church. We are trying to keep accurate time lines in order to document the founding and history of SGM and its remarkable rise and the stunning accusations of heavy handed authoritarianism. How this turns out is anybody’s guess. You can bet that we will be watching.

    Yesterday I spoke with a woman who told me that when she was in a care group and had some women over to her house, she was criticized by her leader for not wiping off her side counters after serving coffee. Then she had to give her leader a tour and she as told she must put her marriage vows above her bed like “everyone else.” Yep-real Biblical counseling there.

    Whoever was in charge of this church and allowed this stuff to go on is naive and has substituted man’s ideas for the Bible. This is a major church in SGM. This stuff only serves to illustrate the abject stupidity of the supposed “Biblical” teaching of this church.

    In honor of that crazy care group leader, today i shall NOT wipe my side counters and instead pray for a spirit of grace for her and many others.

  21. I still have a copy of those (Children of God) Sunday magazine articles out of the Post.

    Dee, if feeling ambitious, the Montgomery County Sentinel was very helpful in exposing the Great Commission Ministries cult when they moved headquarters to Silver Spring so that they could try to overtake the government. The group ran a total of 21 candidates in local and national elections in 1986, part of their twist on Christian Reconstruction. They even had some members enter on the Democratic ticket.

    This is the group that Geoffrey Botkin was very involved with — the Vision Forum “Return of the Daughters” video Geoffrey Botkin.

    If anyone in Montgomery County who is working with or interested in contacting the post feels so inclined, I would also consider calling the Sentinel for additional media coverage to see if more interest could be stimulated. John Guerra who reported on this stuff in the ’80s doesn’t come op on their site anymore, so I assume he’s no longer there. But someone could contact them if the Post no longer expresses interest. Remind them of the articles in ’86.
    http://www.thesentinel.com/mont/contactus/

    Silver Spring Fundamentalists: Church Or “Cult”?
    The Montgomery County Sentinel, February 6th, 1986

    Jean’s story: Why she joined GCI, how she was deprogrammed
    The Montgomery County Sentinel, February 6th, 1986

    James McCotter: How he brought GCI to Silver Spring
    The Montgomery County Sentinel, February 6th, 1986

    Ex-members scorn, current members praise GCI
    The Montgomery County Sentinel, February 6th, 1986

    The Baltimore Sun reported on the group in ’92 as well:
    CULT CORNER: Student survivor of one sect’s manipulation and coercion tells her story in support group to help others escape cult clutches. The Sun (Baltimore, MD), February 21st, 1992. Jay Merwin
    Staff Writer

    It’s hard to get media attention after the Scientologists launched their hostile talkeover efforts and eventually bought out the Cult Awareness Network (created in the wake of the Georgetown, Guyana incident). Prior to ’96 when they bankrupted CAN with a lawsuit and then bought them, there was a national network and we had lots of media contacts. People then backed away from the subject after that.

    Pray for these agencies an the individuals that are willing to report on these matters. It’s important

  22. Ted,

    A couple of months ago, Dee and Deb posted an article and Numo and others and I talked in comments about the big interdenominational togetherness fests that took place in the Seventies in the midst of the Charismatic Renewal that birthed PDI. All of these Shepherding churches still have some ties and some still consider themselves as part of one another’s “unofficial presbyteries.” My own cultic group of origin as an adult (not tagging along on my parent’s coat tails) was also affiliated with SGM. They still share itinerant ministers like Mike Ratliffe and still participate in their youth ministries.

  23. Well, I am late to the party. Many interesting comments on the last few threads but little time to interact.

    One of the things that is bothering me really bad is this idea (mainly seen from the pro Christian celebrity people) that Christians cannot talk to the secular media about such things. That it “hurts” the cause of Christ.

    Are these the same people who go on and on about God’s Sovereignty? :o)

    TRUTH never hurts the cause of Christ. All truth. Even negative truth.

    At this point in the scenerio, I would trust the words of a pagan journalist swilling wine at Pomeroy’s Wine Bar and smoking cheroots MORE than I would ever trust the words of CJ Mahaney, Josh Harris, Al Mohler or Mark Dever….oh, and Challies, too.

    And that says a lot about where we are in Christianity. We have too many people believing and following the words and teachings of man instead of being led by the Holy spirit.

  24. “Now what if SGM used this to ralley the faithful? What if they react to this in the same manner a Mormon acts when confronted with evidence that Joseph Smith is a fraud? In a dualisitc manner SGM could claim that the attacks are spiritual, demonic in nature and that they are under attack for teaching and doing the “Lord’s work.” They could use God’s ass as cover and in the process rally those involved in SGM to say, “look we’re being persecuted for our faith!!!” In short they could respond and act like the Mormons do and make such a claim”

    Eagle, I would be stunned if they did NOT do some variation of this if there is a WaPo article. If you notice a variation of this was/is used by CJ and his Reformed defenders recently. (BTW; they WANT this to be about Brent and steer folks away from the blogs)

    This sort of response has been used for centuries. It is not new…we just know about it faster. Everyone from Mohler to Caner to Patterson has used a variation of it. (We stand for truth of the Word and people attack us…sort of thing…when what they have been standing on are secondary non salvic issues they want to make salvic)

    Look, there are always going to be masses of people who follow the guru’s. That is just the way it is. These celeb guru’s are referred to in Revelation as the Nicolaitians. (Conquerer of the people in the Greek)

    Those with the Holy Spirit are not going to be deceived for so long. But many will be and many are right now. Just go read survivors for the last 3 threads and look at how many put great hope in Josh for these last few weeks as if he was really changing. AGAIN. As someone said a while back: they want to be slaves to somebody.

    (I think they have missed the point that this is personal between Josh and CJ…they are still pawns in their big game.

  25. A couple of years ago, I spoke out and pointed out that the same weird things in extreme patriarchy among Calvinists was just as much at work in the SBC. Some within the SBC became quite angry that I made this connection and did their best to shut me up and wipe all history of my comments off the map (though it backfired royally).

    In their attempt to shut me up, someone suggested that I was actually pushing groups like Vision Forum together with the SBC (though they are doing that themselves through men like Scott Brown who is on faculty at SEBTS and Voddie Baucham who teaches as many SBC seminaries). I stated that I thought that this would be desirable because it would force the SBC out into the open to show the ugliness of what they scheme in private.

    Though we must certainly be Christian in the process, I believe that good only ultimately comes from exposing these kinds of injustices. If Jesus talked of how good shepherds left the 99 to rescue the one, the little ones, and if the penalty for hurting these little ones is worse than concrete shoes to be worn at the bottom of the sea, then I believe it is worth exposing.

    Do we really think that the world does not see our nakedness from afar? This is the rod of man judging the Church. It has been done throughout the history of the Church, and the OT is full of such examples. Let it come to save the little ones if the great men of God are not man enough to do it themselves. Shame on them. It will be better for all on the Day of Judgement.

  26. @ Eagle ~ //orgasm of excitement//??

    Uhm, as opposed to an orgasm of boredom? I mean, is there any other kind?

    Deb/Dee ~ Maybe I’m being obtuse here, but when Ms. Boorstein says she needs people who are willing to go on the record with their identities, does she mean go on the record with HER and just HER in the sharing of their story or does that also mean that their identities would be revealed in the story? I think there was some mention of this at Survivors. (Comment #92 on that thread about the Post.) Maybe the answer is obvious and the question is ridiculous; then again, some clarification here might help some people decide.

    Also, for anyone interested, it’s not hard to find Ms. Boorstein’s direct Washington Post email online.

    I found it as part of her byline on a recent Washington Post article here: http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/viewer.aspx

    It’s right at the top.

  27. Dee pointed out; “the stunning accusations of heavy handed authoritarianism.”

    So when the smoke clears the final diagnosis of SGM is “stunning accusations of heavy handed authoritarianism.?”

    That’s it?

    About 100 articles, thousands of comments and their final sin is “stunning accusations of heavy handed authoritarianism”

    That’s a colossal letdown.

  28. Seneca,

    The river of blood from broken hearts is the result of heavy handed authoritarianism. That river runs far, deep, and wide. Try swimming in it sometime if you feel letdown. Your comment shows unfathomable ignorance of the situation and incomprehensible insensitivity. Please repent of your heartless and thoughtless comments.

  29. Seneca,

    I would add to NBtT’s comment that the heavy handed authoritarianism is but one aspect of the greater process of the thought reform used against the membership there. The control of behavior, information, thought and emotion (and exploitation of those aspects of people) manifest as authoritarianism. Robert Lifton called it Ideological Totalism. David Henke called it spiritual abuse. It goes beyond just authoritarianism and includes other surreptitious manipulation tactics including tight social/milieu control, the manipulation of language, shame induction, sin confession sessions, “sin sniffing,” demanding purity and self-negation from followers, mystical/divine manipulation tactics, unquestionable doctrine/leadership, granting/denial of personhood, cursings when people leave, obsession with public image, forbidden criticism of leaders/doctrine, and an unbalanced focus on minor doctrine. The authoritarianism is just one small aspect of this greater, fully-orbed process and system.

  30. “The river of blood from broken hearts is the result of [SGMs] heavy handed authoritarianism.”

    Then [Seneca’s] “unfathomable ignorance..and incomprehensible insensitivity.”

    NTBTTruth; You’ll be glad to know that SGMrefuge has already found me to be incomprehensibly insensitive.

    They already tossed butt after quoting the Eagles song; “Get Over It.”

    (Google the lyrics if your of an interest.)

  31.  HowDee YaAll,

    According to the grace of God which was given to the Apostle Paul , in the New Testament times, as a wise master builder, he laid the foundation of Christianity…

    Sure, OK. what else is new…

    But he did so with a stern warning!

    Huh?

    -But let every man take heed how he builds on that foundation!

    Shreeeeech!

    For another foundation can no man lay than that which has already been lain, which is Jesus Christ. 

    What?

    Fast forward…

    …and in the times following the New Testament writings, others have built upon that foundation…

    O’ooo k. Watz yer point?

    Now if any man build upon this foundation (various building materials such as: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble…for example…)

    Well, every man’s work is gonna be shown for what it is. 

    a manifestation of a man’s work?

    Ya! For:

    A. the day shall declare it, 

    B. because it shall be revealed by fire,

    and 

    C. the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 

    So watz da bottom line?

    1. If any man’s work abide -which he has built there upon, he shall receive a reward…

    2. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but “he himself shall be saved”; yet so as by fire!

    Sozzzzzzz?

    Ahaaaa yea?

    Kirrrrrrrrk!  C.J. Mahaney, “Apostle” extra-ordinare, hello! excuse me Sir, …but do you smell smoke?

    hahahahahahahaha

    Sopy

    (…maybe, we can save you a door prize, how’s dat?)

    (grin)

    ——
    1Cor 3: 10-15 

  32. Seneca, well then? Are you going to repent or not? Do you like being unfathomably ignorant and incomprehensibly insensitive? What is you agenda? Why are you here? What is you purpose? Where are you coming from? Do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution? Do you care about anyone other than yourself, your feelings, your doctrine, your perceptions, your judgements, YOUR, YOUR, YOUR?

    To quote the old saying, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” You obviously do not care.

  33. You all keep giving heartless-cold Seneca what he wants and that is interaction. This person has repeatedly and consistently offered nothing but offensive, cold, and heartless comments and people are still trying to teach him. He is unteachable and a troll. I wish people would just ignore him. It really sullys the flow of otherwise wonderful conversation here.

  34. NLR

    Seneca is running around the blogosphere making his harsh comments and, in general, annoying most people who get it. He doesn’t and I am not going to spend time defining “it.”

    However, it is our prerogative to ignore him. We can also theorize what brought him to this point. In some way, Seneca has been hurt or has gone through an ordeal and his reaction is to scoff at those who are not as “strong” as he is. But the question is, what constitutes strong? Deep down inside, he is hurting and things are not going well.

    I am not a prophet like Driscoll but I have lived long and met folks like him. So, for Seneca, I pray and if he keeps upsetting folks I will institute “Where’s Seneca” which is not a ban from commenting, merely a small adjustment.

  35. Seneca,

    Yet another seriously pathetic attempt at an ad hominem argumentum circumstantial logical fallacy to disqualify my statement. Haven’t you learned yet that people don’t buy your comments.

    A fellow named Jakob Heine first identified the symptoms and condition of polio in the 19th Century. Perhaps because he never met FDR, maybe FDR didn’t really actually have poliomyelitis? Maybe that because the first polio vaccines were tested in Africa, it might mean that the vaccines would not be effective in the US.

    Or maybe, a neurosurgeon can’t treat a brain tumor because they’ve never had one themselves.

  36. As the old adage goes… “Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me!”

    While heavy handed, manipulative and/or abusive behavior can never be condoned, some of the responsibility for the many “refugee” stories from these churches belongs on the shoulders of those who willingly endured it, time after time.

    This isn’t Nazi Germany and the churches are not concentration camps. An individual is absolutely free to leave a church and never return for any reason.

    When a person is looking for comfort or consolation after spending months or even years in a twisted, authoritarian church, one HAS to ask the question…why did you stay?

    Unless they were dragged kicking or screaming into the pews I fail to see how they should not bear some of the responsibility for their own actions.

  37. Anonymous,

    I can tell that you’ve not spent much time reading anything on my blog.

    Individuals aren’t “absolutely free” to leave these types of churches. They are first conditioned to believe that not only is their church the only real church that is truly connected to God in the highest and best way, leaving becomes even more difficult. Leaving their church is like leaving the faith. Many of the shepherding churches pronounce curses on families when they depart, and the people who do manage to leave are sickened by this for a long time after they get out.

    I was told that it was a good thing that I didn’t have children, because my children could die if I left without the elders’ blessing. My husband would loose his job. We could get cancer. A PCA pastor told a friend of mine that she would be followed by Death, Disease, and Divorce. Bill Gothard’s followers are told that when they exit out from under their God ordained spiritual coverings that God will “get them” and punish them to destroy them.

    Numo and I have discussed these things concerning SGM on this very blog under previous threads. People are given “bounded choice” which seem like free reign to walk away from a group, but to do so, one risks their personal health, safety, their families, their eternal salvation, or sometimes, just their personal connection with God. It’s emotional and spiritual blackmail.

    If you read my blog, I do talk a great deal about one of the last phases of healing which involves a painstaking personal moral inventory that each person must ask themselves about what hook caused them to stay. In my own confrontation with my elders and pastor of my cultic group as an adult, I did take responsibility for my own part in playing in their game. But I was never given any kind of informed consent about the less pleasant and popular beliefs of the group until two years into my membership. If they had told my husband and I openly about the demands that the church placed upon their membership and the specific doctrines that called for those demands, we would have run from them. But outright deception is used to both recruit and keep people in these systems.

    Why do battered wives stay with their husbands? Why do molested children fail to report sexual abuse? And using your example, why did a whole nation become murderous Nazis? When the devil wants entry into your home, he doesn’t pound on the door, with guns blazing in full view, waiting for you to get a good look at him. He either disguises himself, hides in something else, or he gets in through a crack in the foundation or an open window.

    I was not dragged into my abusive church, and I remained there for two full years after the conflicts started and escalated. I stayed because the good things were very good. The bad were horrid, and that just doesn’t add up. I stayed for a long time, believing that I could be an agent of change and a vessel of use to the Lord to help others. And I realized after that two years that this was my fantasy and my hope, not God’s plan for me or for that church. But I stayed for the goodness and because of what Jeff VanVonderan calls “sweat equity.”

  38. To: Anonymous or Seneca?

    ARE YOU SERIOUS????? Do you have no wisdom and no insight into the seductive stages of being trapped in abuse? Have you not read the 1000’s upon 1000’s of people who were mind controlled, brainwashed, and held hostage by the deception that if they left, they would be leaving the Kingdom of God? Then they would be turned over to the Tormenter for their “rebellion”! I have been in cult like churches where I was scared to death to leave for fear of the wrath of Almighty God turning me over to Satan to destroy me. Who am I to stand against THE AUTHORITY from God in these leaders? This abuse was what I deserved because I was a slimy wretched sinner. That is the lie of these seducers and abusers. They know exactly how to control and manipulate people by twisting God’s word and making Him into a monster who will get you if you disobey and leave “the church”.

    And for many, that is all they know. They grew up in these spiritual prisons called churches. Their families are their and their entire lives have been devoted and invested into this Babylonian Whore church system.

    Are you really so blind to realize why so many don’t leave? It is MIND CONTROLLING FEAR! You REALLY need to wake up to the reality of the how these principalities and powers dominate, manipulate, control, and imprison the minds of so many Christians. You are terribly naive and you have an awful lot to learn about the realm of spiritual darkness and the forces of wickedness in these so called “churches”.

  39. Cindy K – WOW! I did not see your post before I replied. OUTSTANDING! You said it much better than I did! WOW!

  40. Virtually ALL religion is mind controlling fear, it’s just that some of them use contrasting images of human beings being shattered, broken vessels in need of redemption and forgiveness, while others use fear of hell, punishment and abandonment more directly.

    Here is an excellent, if short, video on battered women’s syndrome and it’s relationship to the church and belief in general. Thoughts?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXgnpuKoWhU

  41. NBTT; “And for many, that is all they know. They grew up in these spiritual prisons called churches. Their families are their and their entire lives have been devoted and invested into this Babylonian Whore church system.”

    My goodness. So it’s much more than SGM?

  42. Seneca, of course it is much more than SGM! There are 1000’s of mind controlling religious groups out there brainwashing and enslaving people. Are you and anonymous the same person? Are you posting both names?

  43. Anonymous, I never go to any churches anymore. NONE! You are obviously not able to separate Jesus from church, and neither could your video. You have thrown away the Baby (Jesus) with the filthy church bathwater. Jesus Christ is NOT any church. In fact the word “church” is a false translation of the Greek ekklesia. It is also a false concept and a false religious system that is not from God. It is all man made nonsense. Churches suck and religion sucks – but Jesus is 100% WONDERFUL! Go learn the difference.

  44. “About 100 articles, thousands of comments and their final sin is “stunning accusations of heavy handed authoritarianism”

    That’s a colossal letdown.”

    Authortarianism that led to protecting pedophiles and perverts. Even paying legal bills for the child rapist and telling the wife she had to get rid of one of the kids so the pervert would not be attracted to the daughter and the per could remain “head” of the home.

  45. “I was told that it was a good thing that I didn’t have children, because my children could die if I left without the elders’ blessing. My husband would loose his job. We could get cancer.”

    This is not just the shepherding movement. Charles Stanely said the same thing about those who would dare go against him at his church. He is quoted by Joel Gregory in “Too Great a Temptation” about the famous SBC big wig meeting he attended to deal with Paige Patterson.

  46. Anonymouse, Charles Stanley never said any such thing. That is an absolute lie. I have listened to his teachings for over 30 years and he NEVER preached or believed any such nonsense.

  47. The fact that Jesus himself said that few would enter into the kingdom of heaven doesn’t seem to stop Christians from having babies even though he made it pretty clear that most of them will not end up in heaven…so if you are willing to give birth to kids who, according to Jesus, are statistically far more likely to end up in Hell than heaven, why should the blustering of some preacher stop you from having kids?

    Cancer for leaving the church? surely you realize that people get cancer both those in the church and those outside the church in pretty equal numbers…same goes for unemployment.

  48. Anonymous, do you even know what the Kingdom OF Heaven is????? It is NOT Heaven itself! Please go learn basic Biblical theology before you make any more such ignorant comments.

  49. Nothing but…

    Just another way of escaping the question…the principle is sound, regardless of the verse used…or are you implying that the majority of humans will end up in heaven?

  50. Anonymous – ALL humans will end up in Heaven! Every one of them. No exceptions. Jesus Christ paid the FULL price for EVERYONE! There is no price left to be paid. IT IS FINISHED! – PAID IN FULL!

  51. NBTT

    Please do not get so upset at those who express their opinions. You are discussing theology here, not participating in WWW Smack Down.

    Also, this blog draws from a fair number of folks who hold to orthodox Christianity. I know you are a universalist. We welcome your opinion. However, ALL CAPS IS SHOUTING BLOGSTYLE AND WE PREFER A MORE SEDATE APPROACH WHEN POSSIBLE.

  52. Hi Dee,

    I apologize. I had let it be known in an earlier post that I NEVER use caps for shouting – ONLY for highlighting, emphasis, and good excitement! I should put that in all my posts where I use caps, just so no one reads it wrong.

    Sorry about that!

  53. Evie said,

    Dee,

    I’m glad you called the Washington Post and spoke to the reporter yourself. Doesn’t sound like the reporter was reluctant to give you her contact info to share on the blog.

    Makes me wonder if the “arrangement” Kris at survivors made with the reporter involved her wanting to be the middleman rather than being asked to be the middleman.

    Maybe someone is getting too big for their britches. This story is going way beyond what any one person can hope to contain. And that’s a good thing!

    For the record, my role as go-between happened at the reporter’s request. I’d suggested posting contact info, but the reporter expressed reluctance.

    As much as I care about SGM’s victims and have enjoyed interacting with our commenters, and as interesting as I find the many nuances of SGM’s weirdnesses, nothing could be further from the truth than the idea that I am somehow trying to make myself a part of this story. As I told Dee (or maybe it was Deb) back when they first broached the idea of starting this site, “watchblogging” by its very nature is an essentially unpleasant, negative endeavor. Nobody in his or her right mind would actively SEEK to run a site like SGM Survivors.

  54. Nothing but…

    In addition the question was directed at a person who obviously does believe that everyone goes to heaven, so again, your response is totally off target…

    The point was, if a person believes that only a minority make it into heaven (a traditional view), and yet that doesn’t prevent them from continuing to populate the earth, then why in the world should the rantings of some soapbox maniac from the pulpit have an even more powerful effect than the words of Jesus himself?

  55. KRIS

    For our readers, Kris is the intrepid head of the SGM Survivors site!

    I agree and welcome to our blog. I don’t know how you do it. At least we can run away from a particular subject as we did today. It is interesting to see what sets off people. No matter the topic, someone gets ticked! Have you gotten emails to throw people off your blog due to a theological stance? Usually I don’t and the complainers goes away.

    You deserve a round of applause for putting yourself on the line. I now know just how hard that can be. Your blog has made a difference in the SGM community. I don’t have emoticons here but if i did there would be lots of them applauding.

  56. Anonymous, You did not state who the target of your post was. Not many even truly understand most of what Jesus said. He spoke often in parables, metaphor, symbolism, simile, etc etc.
    So the soapbox pulpit maniac is no closer to the truth than Patty Pewsitter. He just thinks he is, and has convinced Patty that he is.

    And it is really God who populates the Earth. He just lets us have some fun in the process.

  57. From Anonymous:

    Cancer for leaving the church? surely you realize that people get cancer both those in the church and those outside the church in pretty equal numbers…same goes for unemployment.

    When you are in one of these groups and your spiritual authority (who by then you assume has a closer relationship to God than you do, hence their position), you cannot think clearly. As Harriet Braiker talks about in her book “Who’s Pulling Your Strings,” by this time, you are debilitated and lack confidence. It is like asking a man to get up out of bed the day after major abdominal surgery, expecting him to run a marathon. Few can do it.

    Under normal circumstances, if you have not been in an environment designed to get you do displace your critical thinking over to someone else, most people will say, “That’s a bunch of bunk.” When your pastor says it to you after you’ve been told that you’re deaf to God and they hear for you, a big part of you tends to believe your pastor.

    That is why I recommend that everyone who comes out of any of these kinds of churches read “Take Back Your Life” by Janja Lalich. It takes you through the process of “unmasking the guru,” those abusive leaders, so you can learn to trust yourself again and so you can see these people for the flawed human beings that they are. But when (and if you can) walk away, at first, this is a very difficult thing.

  58. @ Cindy K: fwiw, I was just amazed that anyone would pronounce “curses” on me – I mean, where on earth *is* that in the NT? (Well, Jesus cursing the fig tree excepted, but that seems to have been for illustration purposes, not because he didn’t like the tree. ;))

    Thankfully, those things had no impact on me at the time, or later, except that I couldn’t believe anyone would resort to such tactics.

  59. Kris,

    Welcome! As I have expressed numerous times on your blog, I am SO GRATEFUL for what you do over at SGM Survivors! I want to echo what Dee said — I don’t know how you do what you do. I have a hard time keeping up with our comments here.

    I hope some former or current SGMers will be brave enough to share their experiences with the Washington Post reporter. As far as I’m concerned, the abuses in SGM should have been reported on a long time ago.

    Thanks for ministering to so many who have been hurt by those who claim to represent Christ.

    Blessings to you and Guy!

  60. Numo,

    As I heard this from an elder over the phone, in the back of my head, I kept hearing “But ye have not so learned Christ!” I knew that was not written in the New Testament.

    But the other half of me was sick, just because these things were said to me. I must have repeated and read this a few hundred times:

    Proverbs 26:2
    As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

  61. @ Cindy K: well, I got it in person, 2 different times, and I’m grateful to God for enabling me to see it for the trash that it was/is, right at the time.

    The mystery is why I kept going to that church and listening to that person preach for so long – I simply didn’t hear the “Get out *now*!!!” alarm that must have been sounding in my head… even though I could see that this weird behavior and statement of “curses” was more or less the dizzy limit. (Even more shocking because I had never, ever seen or heard this person say anything like it before… although later, their allegiance to some in the “strategic-level spiritual warfare” movement came out – even a qualified endorsement of Benny Hinn, if you can believe it. It’s a *very* YWAM-oriented church, so this came up after Joy Dawson more or less teamed up with Hinn.)

  62. In fact, up until the moment I heard this “curse” stuff invoked, I would have bet money that the person who said it to me would have just laughed at the whole idea.

  63. Calvinistas believe that we do not choose to have children, but that God decided that, like everything else, before he created the world. So it is not the choice of the parents in Calvinista land.

  64. Numo

    I still remember telling Deb, riding down in an elevator in a church after attending a meeting in which we were told that it was Biblical to push teens to get married before college, “I must find a way to get out of here.” Needed to learn about one more problem and get abused by loving Christian leaders so that I had fodder to start a blog. Ah, twas the wind beneath my feet.

  65. Dee,

    Yes, I remember that. Remember the stack of articles on young marriages I left with the pastors? They likely went directly into the circular file. Seems like ages ago.

    We’ve come a long way baby…

  66. Dee and Deb,

    I’m glad you got out and that you did stick around long enough to learn what the process was like.

    Squeeze all the good that you can out of the bad experience. That’s what I try to do.

  67. Cindy
    They even chased my husband and I to a new church. Can you imagine? We applied for membership and the pastor called us in for the pro forma meeting. No word, no warning and said former pastor had told him some things and that we couldn’t join his church until permission for ex pastor! And these were to different denominations-one Anglican, one SBC. So the SBC does give orders to the Anglicans. Ah what tangled webs. We ditched both churches and are very happy now.

  68. Dee–

    Thank you. Your reply calmed me.

    What stack of articles on young marriage? What was their slant?

  69. “Anonymouse, Charles Stanley never said any such thing. That is an absolute lie. I have listened to his teachings for over 30 years and he NEVER preached or believed any such nonsense”

    If you read my comment closer, you will have read that Joel Gregory quoted Stanely in his book, “Too Great A Temptation” saying this at the SBC leaders airport meeting over whether to fire Paige Patterson or not.

    Thanks, but knowing how these guys operated the SBC in those years, I believe Gregory.

    BTW: Charles Stanley was in Amway for years, brought it into his church and knows all the Amway tactics of “upline worship”. He is the master, which is why he gets by with being a very famous SBC mega church pastor, SBC big wig AND divorced. That is quite an accomplishment considering what they teach about marriage.

    Maybe you had better do your homework on one of your idols before you go accusing someone of lying. After all, you only listen to his sermons and they all have a special stage persona.

  70. Nbtt,

    Another thing…you can listen to these guys for years and years on stage on never really know what they are like OFF stage. That is one of the huge problems. Many are experiencing it right now with CJ because they believed the stage and public relations persona.

    They are performers.

    btw: Stanley said this to his church leaders concerning another leader who went against him on something. you will NEVER hear them say such things from the stage. The airport meeting happened back in the 90’s.

  71. Anonymous, is that all you have is one man’s word? And Charles Stanley said the same exact thing? Verbatim? “If you leave without the elders permission your children will die”? What a coincidence that he spoke those same exact words, eh? Care to give us the page number from Joel Gregory’s book where this quote is?

  72. Anonymouse

    Tell me about this meeting with Paige Patterson. As you know, I am not a fan due to his unBiblical protection of Darrell Gilyard and telling wives to go back to physically abusive husbands. He should be ashamed of himself and step down.

  73. Anonymouse

    I am glad that the elders at my previous church had not learned how to curse departing members. I would have needed an exorcism. This curse stuff is bizarre. It is unBiblical. I would love to do a couple of posts about this. I think a little light on this nonsense might be embarrassing. Could you point me to some resources?

  74. NBTT

    Be careful with Charles Stanley. The Amway stuff is well known. He is divorced but has cleverly placed the blame on his wife. He is also a big time authoritarian. Whenever you see people who place such emphasis on the role of the pastor, be very, very careful. There is little Scriptural evidence for such centralized power so there needs to be a “gaming” of Scripture to make people toe the line. I intend to look into this curse stuff.

  75. Hi Dee, I am well aware of Charles Stanley’s divorce and his involvement with Amway. I am also well aware that people can be very different behind closed doors than they are behind the pulpit.

    But I also know that if someone believes the “coming out from under covering” doctrine of Gothard, there will be some hint of that in his teaching to keep the flock in HIS church to keep the tithes and offerings abundant. I do not remember any of these pressure type teachings from Mr Stanley. I do not listen to him anymore, and it has been quite a while since I have, so I could be mistaken.

    I am not a big Charles Stanley fan nor a supporter. But I just found it odd that he spoke about children dieing if someone left the care of the elders. Too coincidental for me. I need to see the exact quote from the book.

  76. “Anonymous, is that all you have is one man’s word? And Charles Stanley said the same exact thing? Verbatim? “If you leave without the elders permission your children will die”? What a coincidence that he spoke those same exact words, eh? Care to give us the page number from Joel Gregory’s book where this quote is?”

    You know, it is funny how these “stories” or snippets of stories floated around the SBC for years. The internet is changing all that and what is really incredible is we are finding out many of them are worse!

    The “great airport meeting” starts on page 229 of Too Great a Temptation.

    It is not about a “quote”, it is about their thinking. In fact, Charles Stanely told told Bo Sexton and the trustees at that meeting the horrible things that DID happen to the people who went against him at his church. Disease, Death, Divorce. The implication was clear: If you touch “God’s anointed”, God will get you.

  77. Hi Lin, if Charles Stanley said that or even hinted at it, then I stand corrected. We are ALL God’s anointed. It troubles me to hear that, but that is what happens in today’s Babylonian church system with their hierarchy of elitism. Very sad indeed.

  78. “I would love to do a couple of posts about this. I think a little light on this nonsense might be embarrassing. Could you point me to some resources?”

    Joel Gregory wrote this book in 1994. It is an excellent book for people to see behind the stage, the inner workings of mega churches. In this case, it was FBC Dallas and the Criswell regime.

    Gregory does not have clean hands either but he walked away from it all….huge salary, perks, etc, because he was to take over from Criswell but Criswell would not give up power. (Many tried to spread a rumor that Gregory was having an affair during this time and that is why he left abruptly. This is typical of how they do their rumor smear campaigns of those who go against them)

    The point of the book, from my perspective, is to look INSIDE the inner workings or the “belly of the beast” as I like to call it, of most megas. Since I worked in and with several, I recognized the same things that seem to be a by product in all these bad systems. It all starts with the cult of personality. And it is the rare person who can attain so much power and influence that it does not negatively affect them and they find themselves working to maintain and grow the corrupt system that provides them with fame, influence and power.. i came to see early on, by personal experience, that the person on stage is not the person off stage. And it was like this in every case where I was up close and personal. These men are insulated.

    The impetous for the Patterson airport meeting is that FBCDallas and the trustees at Criswell college were not happy with Patterson’s work performance as President of Criswell College. (He was hardly ever there…he was out politicing for the CR) Patterson has been one step ahead of the firing ax for most of his career…he had to leave SEBTS but they simply shifted him to SWBTS. Now that place is in serious trouble! Oh, but it has a “homemaking” degree for seminary wives.

    The SBC leadership Stanley, Rogers, Jack Graham (prestonwood in Dallas), Tom Eliff (now pres of the IMB) and Jerry Vines attended this meeting. These men dropped everything to fly to Dallas to save Patterson. (Patterson knows where all the bodies are buried from the CR in the SBC). Gregory says all these men, most former SBC presidents, knew they owed their positions to Patterson and the work he did on winning the CR.He also knows lots of secrets.

    It is all politics, power and position, friends. NOne of it has anything to do with Christ. These men think they represent Christ to us. They don’t. They represent corruption because they say one thing from pulpits and live another life behind the stage to have absolute control.

  79. NBTT,

    I happen to have had the book in my library and was able to look it up for you. But i do want to warn you, that when men attain power, position, celebrity, wealth, etc as “Christian Leaders”, it is wise to realize that the truly humble…we usually have never heard of….

    That is why we are better off to study on our own and SHARE the things of Christ with others as they share with usas the Holy Spirit teaches us…. instead of listening to one guy over and over week after week. We rarely grow past them when we do that.And the celebrity almost always has a personal agenda in maintaining his power, position and the income that comes with it. It is why so many of them have para church ministries WHILE they are employed by the church. It is quite the business.

    BTW: Stanley is not a universalist. Right?

  80. http://www.amazon.com/Too-Great-Temptation-Seductive-publication/dp/1565301412

    You can get this book, used, at Amazon for a dollar…too bad he did not write it when the internet was exploding. But I heard about it on the internet about 5 years ago when it was mentioned on a blog. For those who do not know, Criswell is the big granddaddy patriarch of the SBC. He was the touchstone for all things SBC for many years.

    BTW: One of my favorite parts of the book is when Gregory lays it out that Mrs. Criswell taught a MIXED SS class that was even on radio! Of course, it was OK for HER to do this in that patriarchal complimentarian church because she had “covering” from her husband…who was not in the same room while she taught!

    So, old Criswell allowed A woman to teach men at FBCDallas back in the 80’s and 90’s! They are such hypocrites!

  81. Hi Lyn, not that I know of. There are some closet uni’s though who are afraid to come out. 🙂

  82. “Calvinistas believe that we do not choose to have children, but that God decided that, like everything else, before he created the world. So it is not the choice of the parents in Calvinista land”

    You know what the real cruelty is? When they teach that 1 Tim 2 is about staying in your “role” of mother and the poor woman listening to this is barren and tried for years to have children. So, is their “Sovereign” God punishing these devout women?

    No, the truth is, we live in a fallen world where it rains on the just and unjust alike. But they use the “Sovereign” God to beat on people. Was the blind man born blind because of some sin he or his parents committed in John 9? Or how about Luke 13 where bad things happen and people want to know if it is because of some sin. Jesus simply says, repent and be ready.

    Yes, I believe God is Sovereign. But I think the neo Reformed teach an skewed position on this and turn us all into finger puppets wondering what sin we committed when our baby has cancer.

  83. “Just ordered it. Stop recommending books-I order everything you suggest and am backed up!”

    I know. I know. I feel the same way about you guys!

    But if you want to know what goes on behind the stage in these mega’s and cult of personality churches…this is a great reference. The systems are pretty much the same all over. No REAL accountability for the leader, rubber stamp elders or trustees, money pouring in, idolatry of the leader, insulation, cannot handle disagreement because they think they are specially anointed, etc. I believe narcissists are attracted to this career choice. We have to educate the pew sitters who support the corruption.

    And how can you beat a buck? There are some books I refuse to pay royalties on even if I want to review them for the bad teaching like Driscoll, etc, to warn others I know are reading them. Used books are a great resource for that….but you gotta wait a few months for them to appear after they are released.

  84. NBTT, We have all had our favorites. I just learned the hard way they are rarely what they seem on stage. The internet has opened this truth up to many others now. God is mightly using this medium. A “pure Bride” will be presented to Christ. Not a perfect one…but a pure one.

  85. Lin:

    I have just read the 20 or so posts you have written about various people and how insincere they are etc.

    I have no idea who you are or what your background is, but I am very sorry that you have been hurt and disappointed so badly.

    Still, do you ever wonder that your perspective is a little extreme? Even in the least?

    I have known some Christian men and women who were leaders. Sure, they struggled with things like everyone else has, but I have never come to see them with the perspective that you have.

    I have benefitted greatly from the ministries of many of the people that you are ragging on. I have never given them a dime of my money. I have heard them speak and have been blessed by them. I think that they must have the gift of teaching, exhortation or whatever.

    Many people in the church share my perspective, I think. That is why they enjoy these people and hold them in high regard. I am sure that their wives and children could tell us stories that would show these people to have feet of clay. That’s o.k. by me because I don’t expect anything other than that.

    I do agree that strong lay leadership in churches or on boards is really important to help people in the ministry. It helps the minister, too, but human nature often runs from that. We agree on that point.

  86. Hi Lin, God is not waiting for us to become without spot, wrinkle, or blemish – the bride of Christ is already without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. That was accomplished through Jesus Christ and His shed blood at Calvary.

  87. “Many people in the church share my perspective, I think. That is why they enjoy these people and hold them in high regard. I am sure that their wives and children could tell us stories that would show these people to have feet of clay. That’s o.k. by me because I don’t expect anything other than that.”

    I pray these people in churches will begin to hold CHRIST in high regard instead of humans.

    And I have never understood the concept of bragging about the “feet of clay” or sins of a Christian leader when they are paid to be Christians and have made a “career” of being a “Christian”. That has always amused me. It is cognative dissonance of the highest degree. And one reason following humans or allowing them to always teach you is so very dangerous. We were sent the Holy Spirit for a reason and that is not it. :o)

    “I do agree that strong lay leadership in churches or on boards is really important to help people in the ministry. It helps the minister, too, but human nature often runs from that. We agree on that point.”

    I do not believe in “lay leadership”. There is NO such concept in the New Covenant. All believers are “priests” in the Holy Priesthood. There is no laity/clergy distinction anymore. The veil in the temple was torn in two on the Cross.

    When we begin with such wrong foundational thinking we always end up with wrong beliefs and practices. Thinking there is a laity and clergy is a big problem. All believers are gifted to function in the Body. No gift is more important than another.

  88. I have met Joel Gregory and am familiar with his preaching. Heard him preach 4 sermons in two days in 1984 in Cleveland, Ohio. I have also heard him since and have met him personally. After time away following the debacle at FBC Dallas, he now teaches preaching at Truett Seminary at Baylor University. He once was a student at Baylor and preached (pastored?)in a predominantly poor black Baptist church while a student.

    He is a really good preacher, strives to preach the truth from the Bible. Sounds like the voice of God when he preaches — deep bass voice with very full tones. Some of his sermons contain a lot of alliterative passages, almost like poetry. Reports are that he is a good teacher.

    BTW, the Rev Meg has preached 1/2 of the Sundays since being ordained June 26. One UMC church, one UCC church, and one Baptist church.

  89. Paul and Barnabas had “hands laid upon them” as part of their being designated for their missionary travels. That is what many believe to be “ordination”. Legally, one has to be “ordained” to be considered approved for various functions, including performing weddings. Most denominations require ordination prior to employment in ministry in certain positions. For Meg it was important, as one of the churches would not have had her preach without it and another would have paid her 1/2 the stipend that they paid, which wasn’t much.

  90. Denominations are not in the Bible, therefor, I do not care one iota what they require, especially unBiblcal requirements like ordination. If Meg wants to preach, let her stand in a boat and preach to those on the shore like Jesus did. Or just gather a bunch of people in an upper room like Paul did. We do not need the approval of any so called church to preach God’s word. Go out into the highways and byways.

  91. Well, ordination is also an affirmation by the ordaining church that the person ordained is qualified, by their faith, life and knowledge, to serve in certain roles. In our local church, the process takes months, involves extensive questionnaires filled out by the candidate and reviewed by a committee, and a series of interviews with the committee and the deacons of the church. The church is putting a stamp of approval on the call to ministry and the preparation and life of the candidate for ministry.

  92. Arce, questionnaires filled out by the candidate, eh? Now that’s certainly Biblical. And then a series of interviews, right? Another totally Biblical process. He is evaluated by the committee and deacons, just like the apostle Paul was. Yes, it all makes perfect sense now. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

  93. It is a better process than a pastor deciding that their son, brother, brother-in-law, son-in-law or some other relative is qualified to preach in your local church. Or some uneducated yahoo starting a church and assuming they know the what the original Bible says, since they can read it in the KJV! At least there is some process that involves some standards and a vote by the congregation that knows the person for several years at least.

  94. So, you use flush toilets, a refrigerator, and an automobile, and a computer, etc., none of which are in the Bible. Get off the rot. If you really want to be biblical, then start using Aramaic as your written and spoken language.

  95. Arce, we are discussing how the members of the body of Christ function, not about modern day inventions. The gifts of the Holy Spirit do not change. Callings do not change. God does not change and the body of Christ does not change. The Bible is our guide line. It is not up for a vote. It is not what “works best”. It is not up to us to design our own church. “Unless the Lord’s builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Man made church structures do not glorify God.

    There are no SENIOR pastors in the Bible, nor ASSOCIATE pastors, nor YOUTH pastors. In fact, the Bible never says that “the pastor” is the leader of the local church. Today’s pastoral office is a man made office, not God made. The word “pastor” is found one single time in the entire NT, and it is not defined who these people are, not what their function is.

    And why so much attention given to this one man? What about the prophets, evangelists, apostles, deacons, bishops, elders, etc. Should we have “Senior Prophet” and “Head Evangelist”? We can make up just about any nonsense we so please. And the more Christians that do so, the more acceptable it becomes.

    “Tell a lie loud enough, long enough, and often enough, and people will believe it and accept it.”

  96. Im not surprised Kris responded to the criticism. Fact of the matter is she could have posted the reporters contact information. No need to play mother hen.

    SGM has become a big story and I can see why they feel like they need to protect people. They’ve certainly been schooled enough by survivors that they probably feel like a sgmsurvivor themselves, but that’s because they are survivors of a different church with similar problems. Maybe they could do a blog someday about that but that might be too risky. Someone might find out who they are.

  97. By the way I hope Kris has posted here before and didn’t just rush into the room to defend herself against a little criticism without so much as a hello or hi.

  98. Evie, if you are really looking forward a good long response from someone, all you need to do is criticize them, or their pet doctrine. Works on me every time. Go ahead and give it a try. Call me a name or something. I will certainly show you a thing or two or three, or four or….

  99. lol NBTT

    If you want a great example of people have been hyper-sensitive to criticism, and have spent a great deal of time scouring the internet looking for anything that didn’t cast them in a glowing light, look no farther than people like SGM’ers. They are only comfortable in their little bubble being fawned over by their sycophants who flatter them and make them feel like they’re awesome, for the most part. Not a bad way to spend one’s time. Hardly what most Christians would refer to as persecution!

  100. NBTT,
    Prophesying in the NT is really preaching, sharing the word. I agree with you about the role of the pastor — the one who should be servant of all in the church, and not its “leader”. But the caring for the people needs to occur, as does good biblical preaching, and in most modern communities, that means someone with education and training in biblical languages, interpretation of scripture, etc., to do those things necessary to building up the body of Christ in that location. That role has come to be called “pastor”. That a lot of other stuff has been added by the self-aggrandizement of men who are not humble does not mean that the basics are not needed, together with a large understanding of the necessity of humility in the role.

    There is a huge educational need in modern communities of faith about how to understand and interpret the Bible without falling into some of the traps that are out there, traps continually dissed on this blog and others. Devout believers who have been prepared by life and education and who sense a call from God to help others grow in faith, that is the appropriate source of preaching and teaching in the community.

  101. Hi Arce, I agree with much of your last post. I “went to church” for over 35 years, and not once do I remember the “pastor” doing a series on how to study the Bible. I had to learn NT Greek on my own. I had to study Biblical hermeneutics and exegesis on my own. Why are seminaries the only place that teach these courses? Why not teach them in the church so Christians can study God’s word for themselves? Instead “the pastor” TELLS them what HE thinks it says!

    While I have heard many good teachings, I would rather be able to understand God’s word for myself without someone having to hold my hand. There is a great debate amongst theologians on the subject genitive of pistis Christou (Faith OF Christ vs faith IN Christ). Never once did I hear about this in church. It is an absolutely wonderful study with entire books written about just those 2 Greek words and their meaning.

    I would like to hear more doctrinal debates. I never saw one in any church I was in. Why not let 2 teachers get up and present 2 opposing views, and then let the assembly ask them questions. Very few pastors even allow questions after their sermon. Why not? What would be wrong with a 10 – 15 minute question and answer period? Or people could write down questions for the pastor to answer the following week. Why are most pastors so opposed to answering critics? They would rather say, “Maybe you would be happier somewhere else that agrees with your views”. That was my experience.

  102. NBTT,

    Good points! And you’re right. If someone stands up in front of people and gives a message from the Word, there needs to be recourse people can take because it is our responsibility, as hearers of the word, to judge what we are hearing. Not only that, but if we hear something that we believe is wrong according to scripture, we have the authority to call that into question. There needs to be channels for doing that. Sermons are for the purpose of building faith, and part of that process needs to include interacting with the material and sorting things out.

    I think this is why it is important that people, who preach to others, need to be properly vetted and proven.

    I often think of the situation, for example, in the Ephesian church. According to my understanding, the church had become infiltrated with false teachers. We don’t know exactly what the problems were, but enough evidence points to it stemming from Judaisers who were teaching a false gospel.

    Consequently, the church was dealing with a serious crisis because what a church teaches determines whether it is an authentic community of believers or not. Paul had been specifically called and chosen by God to build sound doctrinal foundations within the churches he established. God used him mightily and he labored tirelessly to protect these communities and instruct them, by the power of God, backed up by signs and wonders, how to recognize and deal with false teachers and false doctrines.

    Much attention has been given to the reason why Paul instructed Timothy to choose men who were married, had one wife and children who were obedient to take charge of leading the church and work to purge the church of false teachers and clean up the mess. For the first time we see Paul calling leadership to the forefront, making them take charge of the situation, whereas elsewhere, and at other times, leaders were to play practically invisible roles where they worked to serve and equip others. Let’s not forget Paul’s letters to Timothy were written about the same church in Ephesis – the one the book of Ephesians is about where years earlier Paul wrote that the purpose of pastors, prophets, evangelists, apostles and teachers was to equip saints for their works of ministry. To promote and strengthen others.

    Now we see Paul in Timothy calling leaders to take center stage. To take charge. To be in control. This was a very unusual circumstance. Why? Because the church was in CRISIS. Paul’s instructions were REMEDIAL. The intention wasn’t for people to read what he wrote to Timothy and assume Paul was mandating how all churches were to function for all time throughout all eternity, being led only by married men with children, etc. That would contradict so much of what he wrote elsewhere, not to mention how he had completely severed his all his associations with Judaism and fought valiantly to oppose Peter and others who attempted to bewitch any of the new covenant communities with legalistic standards and practices. Including favoring anyone based on their social standing, their gender or their race. Paul knew that was what characterized Judaism and that had no business in the religion of Christ.

    So, only men of proven character were chosen. And why men only? I think what Arce was saying touched on the reason why this was the case. At the time, women were largely uneducated. I don’t recall the specifics (maybe someone can help me out here) but any land a woman owned became her husbands when she married. Only land owners were allowed to vote and give testimony in a court of law. Women were not given equal rights at all. Women were not recognized in the culture and society of that time as being competent. Some have said if Jesus had called women or gentiles to be his first apostles in the time and place He was manifest, His ministry would have been discredited from the beginning. But he knew the Kingdom would come and His will would be worked progressively within the church. And Paul had a clear vision of what the church was supposed to be.

    So, where was I? Oh yes, so I think it’s important to observe that in order to guard and protect the church against false teachers and false doctrine, its important that people who are proven be chosen to do the job? Does this mean that in every church, in every place, only married men can teach and have authority? No. Of course not. It means that in some cases, extreme measures need to be taken to throw the bums out and bring in good people who know how to properly exegete (sp?) the scriptures and teach sound doctrine.

    And today, I think we have numerous qualified women who can do just that. Whom God can use to cleanse the church of the filth left behind by some men who hoard the treasures of the gospel unto themselves and assume they are called by God to be served rather than to serve and give their lives. Like Paul did.

  103. Anonymous

    Here is where I draw my line. Everyone usually has some good qualities. I have seen the worst prisoners display moments of charity, etc. I call this the Imago Dei, the image of God and all med are created with it.

    Here is what I tend to focus on and, if I am correct, so does Lin. The victims of ministries are first and foremost in my mind. And when I see pastors who are heavy handed and cause those to walk away from the faith, when I see pastors who hide pedophiles on staff, when I see pastors who push multi level marketing which, as you probably know, have sucked in people who do not know of the concept of bottom feeding, when I see pastors who profit from such schemes, then I protest. In fact, is that not why they call us Protestants?

  104. As a footnote to my above post I wanted to say share my opinion about SGM. And I’d like some feedback about this from some of you people who have a vision for where God is taking the church in these days and what is going on. Who are looking ahead, down the path, to future reformations which will surely continue to impact the church.

    Talking again about, for example, the Ephesian church which Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians about and also much later in his life, his epistles to Timothy concerning. Same church.

    Earlier, in the book of Ephesians, we see a picture of a thriving community, one that was effectively functioning on the principles of freedom and true liberty in Christ which Paul had labored to establish.

    So, we see there evidence of a true, biblical community. One founded by a true apostle. Whom God had truly called to plant and build churches. An amazing community of believers which defied the world system. A city set on a hill. A beacon of light to the lost.

    And, like I said earlier, this same community of believers, had, over time, suffered from poison of legalism which threatended the very life of the church. Paul was writing to Timothy with his instructions as to how to bring her back from the death false teaching had caused and restore the church to the experience of the fullness of life promised in the Gospel.

    I entered into membership at the first SGM church assuming it was a legitimate community of believers, dedicated to living out together the fullness of the gospel. When CJ Mahaney said he was an apostle, I didn’t assume that to mean he could take the scriptures and work them over to as to invent his own version of Christian community. I assume the leaders there understood the bible was authoritative and any authority they assumed was only in and through their faith & belief in Christ, like all believers possessed. And together we would all be for the gospel. Not a four man group T4G. But as a whole. We were together because we were united in Christ.

    Much has been said about cognitive dissonance. I believed the community was authentic and I functioned on the basis of my belief. I saw clear examples of where I knew this wasn’t the case, and there were things I didnt yet know. Things like why it was wrong for CJ Mahaney to teach seeking psychiatric help or marriage counseling outside the church was wrong.

    Not to highjack the flow of discussion and distract from the original post, but I believe, based on my own experience, that the ministry of SGM was never founded on the principles of the true gospel. The whole thing is flawed. There might be some good people there and good things happening within the context of community life in SGM, but in terms of the way they have built (on the basis of belief that it was men called by God as apostles and specifically gifted to determine SGM doctrine and plant churches), I think the whole thing is standing on SAND.

    So, I get frustrated with people think its just a matter of polity. Or who freak out when people say “cult” or react when survivors, who know what I’m talking about, want to picket churches. They assume the solution lies in establishing a congregational style of church governance and filter everything people are saying regarding SGM’s systemic problems through their own personal beliefs, deciding what are pet doctrines and what aren’t, like they’re the experts. And offer to “dialogue” with SGM leaders. Because the leaders hold the key. What a joke. Anyway…

    I do think SGM is so fundamentally flawed that it cannot become an authentic christian community by helping it return to its roots. The roots were never good. Unlike the Ephesian church, which had good roots and was literally established by a true apostle, Covenant Life Church has bad roots and was established by a false apostle.

    But God is doing something. Things are being shaken. Do you feel it? Aslan is on the move. The ice is melting, people. The reign of the Witch that has cast her spell on Narnia keeping everything frozen in time is losing its grip. Father Christmas is coming. Hear the sleigh bells? The grass is becoming greener and people are ready to flock to good, rich, tilled soil where they can effectively be tended by good shepherds who will not fleece the sheep and mislead them down paths of danger.

    I’m encouraged about these happenings. Not in a way in which Im unaffected by the suffering SGM has caused thousands of people. I know, I’m one of them. But I’m even more encouraged as to how God has lead me further into this truth, and I know His truth shall march on. It has in my life, and I stand as a witness of how God delivers people out of deception.

    Farther up and further in!

  105. Lin

    The strangest thing about this are the umbers of pastors who rule with an iron fist and will NOT allow anyone in the church to even broach the subject of their flaws. This demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of their role and their Christian life.

  106. Arce

    This ordination thing is interesting. I talked with one Anglican priest about apostolic succession. They do not believe in it per se but he did say it was special to know that these blessings came down from generation to generation from the apostles. I quipped that it also went through some mighty poor Popes in ages past. And what about those in far away places that served without this special “passage?”
    There was someone on this blog who contended that no one can touch the elements in communion without ordination. When I asked specifically what occurred by this process, he couldn’t answer me. Thoughts?

  107. Arce
    You know what i like about your process? It is the involvement of the local church who is determining the qualities required for ordination.

  108. Arce

    The have no problem using insulin and other drugs which were invented by secularists. Isn’t the Bible all sufficient for heart disease?

  109. Evie

    I believe you hit the nail on the head. I spoke with someone who was somehow aligned with Peacemakers who kept trying to get me to agree that things that were happening in the KingsWay church could be fixed with simply understanding one another and seeking forgiveness. I said that I believed that there were entrenched institutional flaws that would prevent a long term solution if the institution itself was left intact. The institution was built on the dying breath of the shepherding movement and those teaching continue to this day in this supposedly new organization. I told him that any peace would be temporary because the real problem hadn’t been fixed.

    He said that Peacemakers does not intervene in how a church bases its polity. I then said that the effort was doomed to fail over any length of time because the root was not planted in good soil. Our discussion ended.

  110. Dee,
    I do not believe in ‘apostolic succession’. I do believe in a congregation setting aside individuals for ministry, individuals whose lives they have observed and investigated, whose understanding of and dedication to the Bible they are certain about, whose dedication and obedience to God they can attest to observing.

    BTW, because I do not believe in apostolic succession, I do not recite the creed which talks about an apostolic church. I am a congregationalist in the extreme, and believe that a congregation, in prayer and led by the Holy Spirit, makes the best decisions, particularly if they have developed an appropriate process for reaching a particularly significant decision, of which ordination surely is one.

  111. The Catholic Church long had a rule that the elements had to be blessed and distributed by one ordained, which they perceive to be in apostolic lineage through ordination through the popes, bishops, etc. (Bunk, in my opinion!). Some protestant denominations picked up that notion. In more recent times, the Catholic Church has allowed a lay person to participate in the distribution in some, limited circumstances, but the preceding process has to be by a priest.

    Baptists have been of several minds about this, like everything else. Most churches allow deacons (ordained, but not to the Gospel Ministry!) to serve under direction of the pastor. Some, ours included, allow anyone to officiate and serve if they are a member in good standing of the church, with most times the officiating is by a staff minister or deacon and the deacons actually serve. Our church usually uses intinction. Some of our life groups share communion many weeks, each person serving the person to their right, and passing the elements to their left to then be served, which is how we perceive the first century church may have observed it, given that it usually followed a community meal.

    What is important is not who officiates, but that the spirit of the event is a worshipful celebration of the memory of the first supper and the death, burial and resurrection it presaged.

  112. @ Arce: I may well be wrong about this, but to the best of my understanding, the phrase “one holy catholic and apostolic church” is NOT about apostolic succession – though some may interpret it as saying that.

    (I’m Lutheran and while there are bishops, etc., there is *no* “apostolic succession.” Bishops get voted in.

  113. But Lutheran ordination is by bishops and priests previously ordained, hence succession, as opposed to ordination by the laity.

  114. What about Matthew 23:10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.” (NASB)

    And Paul never says one word to any of the churches about any so called “leadership”. Why do you suppose that is?

  115. “Here is what I tend to focus on and, if I am correct, so does Lin. The victims of ministries are first and foremost in my mind”

    yes. My goal is to educate people about their salvation. If they are educated that this includes the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide them AND teach them the truth in the word, they will quit looking to the leaders to be the Holy Spirit for them. (And yes, in most cases tht is what they are doing)

    I want believers to become “adult” believers in all things…spiritually. The “church” the instutition is full of adults sucking on bottles of milk.

    When we have mature believers, we won’t have so many victims of the cult of personality…which is not of Christ. We won’t be “pastor centered” but “Christ centered”.

  116. Evie, I agree with your long comment above about sgm. When reading the sgm blogs I was reading “pastor centered” comments. I would say 90% over there are pastor centered. It was as if they are waiting with bated breath for their “leaders” to act like Christians! Itis like entering the matrix.

    My thoughts were: He has sent you a neon sign warning you to flee this false church. What more do you want? As the blogger at spiritualtyranny says: They want to be the slave of someone.

    And they think being the slave of some leader is the same as following Christ. It just isn’t. They need their rules and roles. It makes them feel Holy. My heart breaks for them to be so deceived.

    Thing is, it is doubtful they will ever see it. It is entrenched in their way of life. They need human shepherds. Cannot live without them. They think we are in sin because we do not see scripture teaching that…but instead a Holy Priesthood where the house maid can prophesy. They take the shepherd metaphor way too far as many do. They see their “shepherds” as appointed by God and somehow not another sheep (if that). It is cognative dissonance that they want their shepherds to act like Christians.

    I agree that it was built on a faulty premise. But so are many other churches. and many have these problems to a lesser degree but they are there. In the world of PDL it is all about human relationships and if you get them in and they like you, they might like your Jesus and get saved. But the teaching is so shallow and the gospel is half a picture, that few hear or see the real thing. They are also built on sand and are corrupt systems.

    We here, now, must pray for a move of the Holy Spirit. I am not talking about leaders but those in these institutions and corrupt systems to flee to the Arms of Christ. To know Him without the filter of the institution. To grow up and eat the meat the Holy Spirit is waiting to feed them.

  117. Lin, I would love for you to post your above comment over at SGM Refuge, SGM Survivors, and on Brent Detwiler’s blog. These people desperately need to hear your insights on being pastor centered.

  118. Lin, I agree with what you said about being “pastor centered.” It’s like when the children of Israel wanted a King. I think its one of the major manifestations of the carnal nature to be independent of God and so we’re always looking for a set of rules, a system, or some individual to tell us what to do instead of relying upon the Lord to individually guide us into His will and purpose. “For all who are being led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God.”

  119. “Lin, I would love for you to post your above comment over at SGM Refuge, SGM Survivors, and on Brent Detwiler’s blog. These people desperately need to hear your insights on being pastor centered”

    I did see a few people try over there…I think they were probably outsiders. They do not take to outsiders very well. They have this thinking that “our problems are unique” and you can only understaand if you were a part of it. I get that view but the truth is they desperately NEED outside thinking!

    But they continue to run them off. Of course, they do it with a smile and lots of explanation, blah, blah, blah. It is almost as if “nice” is a religion for them. I would love to tell them that ANGER is “Christian” when kids have been molested and your leaders have protected the molesters and called it ‘experimenting”. Sane people are ANGRY about such lies and corruption done in the Name of Jesus.

    Here is one thing I have learned. If people do not grow as a result of a crisis, if they cannot change their paradigm filter as a result of truth being exposed, then shake the dust and move on. Maybe they will wander over here and engage us? But notice post after post here on sgm and only a few had the nerve. Like our beloved NLR.

    The comments that blew my mind were the ones that going to the media was wrong. It would harm the Name of Christ, blah, blah, blah. Seriously? Better to hide evil in the Name of Christ? Truth is never evil. It might be negative. Embarassing. chilling, etc.

    There is a philosophy of dominionism over there. Better to “hope” our leaders stop protecting pedophiles after 15 years of doing it than go to the media about the corruption. I mean, how man centered and isolated from reality can you get?

    I never did think Josh “changed” at all. I think this has been a fight/power play between Josh and CJ, too. They have just cloaked it in sgmese. Josh was most likely using “openess” (as in “Head of household read the docs/blogs) to get at CJ. Many times protege’s end up not liking their mentor and you see all kinds of problems when the mentor wants them to still act like a protege. But notice, it quickly became a sin to read the blogs not long after that. They are all about control. But so many over there were waiting with bated breath and really putting their hope in Josh.

    Where is Jesus for these people?

  120. “It’s like when the children of Israel wanted a King.”

    This is exactly it, Evie! God was angry they wanted a king. He was their King. How much worse today when He has sent the Holy Spirit for us and we run to humans, instead?

    I map so much of the corruption and authoritarianism called “Christian church” today to the OT priests who were so corrupt and prophets railed against them. There is nothing new under the sun. It is the same stuff.

  121. Hi Lin,

    I understand exactly what you are saying. I was kicked off of both SGM Refuge and SGM Survivors a long time ago. They do not like being disagreed with, so it is easier just to block posters and delete their comments. They can be even nastier than the people they are confronting! And then they moan about abusive and controlling leadership! OH MY!

    FYI – I was in SGM for over 10 years. I called the Washington Post lady (Michele) and gave her my story. She was very nice and a good listener. She asked me a lot of questions and really wanted to understand what my family had been through.

  122. Lin, someone just posted on SGM Survivors and basically said that SGM Refuge had more integrity (my paraphrase). Then Jim P (the owner of the Refuge blog) comes over to defend Survivors! How did he even know this comment had been made? Did Kris or Guy yell for help? That would be my guess. How sad they need to run to Jim to come over and fend off flaming arrows. How dare anyone compare these two blogs! Jim let this person know that they were all on the same team. (Looking for my barf bag)

  123. uhhh…I bet you could ask Jim and I bet the answer is he reads over at Survivors and decided to speak for himself….my guess is you are Dennis. Dennis…everything you said about SGM was true, but you insisted on always turning the conversation back to your conviction of Universalism. Honestly, I could care less, being that I don’t think the Bible is the word of God….but you have a bad habit of hijacking threads and then getting all testy when people disagree with you

  124. doubtful,

    Who sent you over here? The blog police? Do you have some sort of authority that I need to know about?

    Jim’s response was almost immediate. So my guess is he was contacted by Kris or Guy. Go ask them and see if they deny it or not.

    You do not think the Bible is the word of God??? If you could really care less, then why are you even writing to me?

    I do not care for cowards who block posters and delete comments.
    As far as hijacking threads is concerned, no one can do that unless people CONTINUALLY respond to a person’s posts. If no one responds, then the so called hijacking is averted.

    This blog (TWW) actually believes in AND PRACTICES freedom of speech! No need to hijack anything over here! We are all having a great dialogue without fear of deletion or being blocked.

    Gal 5:1 “It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free. Stand fast therefore and do not yield yourselves again unto a yoke of bondage.”

  125. @ Arce: but it’s not *apostolic* succession.

    I was amazed when i 1st came across the concept via reading about some aspects of Anglican theology and practice.

    Lutherans are high, but not *that* high! 😉

  126. Er, I think this is going too far. It would normally be an affair investigated by local press; national press would then pick up the story if journalists with local knowledge found a story.
    Furthermore, there is a clear difference between a story and clear evidence of wrongdoing. It would be incredible if anyone could now discern the truth about SGM’s approach to these cases. Families will, naturally, have a different recollection of events than the Church Leadership. Both sides could be reporting the facts with a clear conscience and still produce contradictory reports.
    I would urge anyone dealing with the media to read “Flat Earth News” by Nick Davies to understand the media’s “rules of production”.
    I am not a fan of SGM, and I despise the “franchise” model of Church Growth. I would bet a considerable sum that some families have genuine grievances – it would be odd if SGM was the only denomination with Pastors who universally handled these situations well.
    I am also deeply concerned with the celebrity culture that dominates “The Gospel Coalition” (and many people, who like me support the doctrinal basis of TGC, have similar concerns). I generally find this blog helpful, even though I am probably count as a “Calvinista”. At the same time I worry that SGM critics might not be too keen to see SGM fall, whatever the means.

    Graham Veale

  127. Hi Graham, just to let you know, the lady from the Washington Post who is doing the story is from the religion section of that newspaper. This is not front page news.

  128. Graham

    Well written. We do not wish for SGM to fall.Out interest is to follow the emerging history of what happens when a church group does not respond to growing concerns within the group of difficulties.

    We are not affiliated win any way with SGM. Whether people like it or not, this is a lesson for many churches out there who elect to go down this sort of path. It is our hope that people will take heed to this and maybe reform their churches in such a way that this will not happen to others.

    Those who do not pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it.

    As for my thoughts, I predict that SGM will survive and CJ will return to prominence. I think a few things will change, they will lose some momentum but all will be status quo with a couple of years. This is just a prediction not a personal hope.

  129. NBTT,

    I think the watchdog groups are great. I’m glad sgmsurvivors was created. But when you take issue with them, they will tell you, “It’s our blog.” So, obviously, what they believe is something they interpose upon the issues. It’s certainly a forum which displays the skills and talents of the moderators as able analyzer and computer geek. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It just so happens that SGM became the perfect platform for them.

    I do think, though, that’s its disingenuous for Kris to say things like:

    ..nothing could be further from the truth than the idea that I am somehow trying to make myself a part of this story

    or

    I wrote what I wrote only to share MY opinion, MY feelings, about what Josh had said. I have absolutely no expectations about what the readers here will do with what I’ve written. I certainly don’t think that my opinions are that meaningful and influential!

    Whether she admits it or not, she has made herself a part of this story, and although it may be true she doesn’t care what other people think, she knows the blog has influenced change at SGM and realizes the things she’s written has played a part in that. She has to know that. And that’s ok. Nothing to be ashamed of if that’s your stated intention.

    Where some people take exception is when she filters comments through her own belief system and judges them to be relevant to her posts, or relevant to the SGM issue. She will control things as much as possible to reflect what she believes because it’s “her blog.”

    But by its very name, its a blog created for the survivors of SGM. I have no problem with people providing analysis about is happening with SGM, but when moderating a site for survivors, I think the moderators need to be careful about filtering things through their own minimal-SGM experience. Many people who have watchdog blogs have earned their opinions in the trenches, and developed firm convictions as a consequence.

    Kris and Guy have written about being involved in a charismatic church they were members of prior to their short jaunt in SGM. I think a lot Kris’ perspective stems from that experience which sounds like it was similar in many ways to SGM. Which is no doubt the reason why they thought about joining an SGM church. The only thing you hear her say is she has no ax to grind, her experience in SGM was positive, and (in my own words) they’re just here to provide a stage for the show to play out.

    There’s nothing wrong with having a blog and using it as a forum to express yourself and seek to influence the story with your own beliefs. That’s what most people do. Just don’t say you’re not doing that when you are doing that.

  130. HowDee YaAll,

     …The frankness with which the current Catholic Pope speaks about the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, “is particularly appreciated”:

    What?

    “It was really almost like the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything, so that above all the priesthood suddenly seemed to be a place of shame and every priest was under the suspicion of being one like that too.”

    “It is a particularly serious sin when someone who is actually supposed to help people toward God, to whom a child or a young person is entrusted in order to find the Lord, abuses him instead and leads him away from the Lord. As a result the faith as such becomes unbelievable, and the Church can no longer present herself credibly as the herald of the Lord.”

    “Insofar as it is the truth, we must be grateful for every disclosure. The truth, combined with love rightly understood, is the number-one value.”

    “And finally, the media could not have reported in this way had there not been evil in the Church herself. Only because there was evil in the Church could it be played off against her by others.”

    –Pope Benedict

    http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2010/11/21/selected-quotes-from-new-book-by-pope-benedict/

    So What?

    “Plain talk about the sex abuse crisis and humble acceptance of responsibility for the Catholic Church’s failings aren’t exactly the stuff that flashy news stories are made of.”

    “…But they are the stuff that justice is made of. And — dare we hope? — healing too. ”

    –DANIELLE BEAN, Catholic author, editorial directorof Faith & Family magazine and Faith & Family Live. See all her Blog posts on the Washington Post Website:

    http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/Danielle_Bean/

    see also: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/

    OK. Whatz  your point?

    Well… although these type of offenses within Sovereign Grace Ministries come from a different source (members as apposed to clergy), the same quotes could find some expression for concern with SGM Churches too! 

    (sad face)

    Sopy

  131. HowDee YaAll,

    As this Washington Post writer ponders the SGM abuse stories, she needs to realize that the harsh and hard-hearted responses of the pastors involved in those situations signify much broader root causes. 

    What?

    She needs to understand that there is a much, much bigger problem beneath the surface than just two (or a half-dozen or however many) badly handled cases of sexual abuse.

    OK.

    Yes, it is horrific to read about CLC’s “crazy and bass-ackwards” reactions to victims of sex abuse. 

    Absolutely horrific. No doubt it!

    (And sure  it’s important for SGM pastors to seek out those mistreated victims and make personal amends with them, if possible…)

    Clearly, there is actually something that needs to be done…

    Blazingly! Glaringly!

    (Where’s ma shades?) (No! not da three -D ones!)

    Yes…all SGM pastors involved, need to examine what motivated them to react to sex abuse victims (and perps) the way that they have. 

    What was going on in the organization that caused pastors to have such self-righteous and harsh and “downright icky” responses to victims? 

    Eeeuuuuuuu!  Yuk!

    What is it about what these pastors believe that makes them so “jacked up” when victims come to them for help?

    What teachings and beliefs do they need to ditch? 

    What was it (what IS it?) about SGM that has made the organization take such a “get over it” attitude toward victims while at the same time happily minimizing perpetrators’ deep-seated tendencies that (research tells us) almost never go away?

    What was it (or what IS it?) about SGM that has set up an atmosphere where known sex offenders are allowed to have their past misdeeds forgotten (and not just forgiven) while clueless parents continue to permit their children to freely mingle with these perps?

    See, while many believe that yes, it is important for SGM/CLC pastors to reach out to all victims of specific situations,

     …many actually think it is just as important for this Washington Post writer (or any writer, for that matter) to really examine the trends,and examine the root causes within SGM proper itself.

    For that matter, examine what it is about the SGM organization, that has trained them to believe what enabled these horrific things to happen in the first place.

    Until this is done “in-house” by SGM, something that it has been reluctant to do-and now with the need of now going to much brooder forum than the blogs, something more public and specific  and loud…encouraging recantation and repentance of all the hoopla of false beliefs and teachings (not to mention the abuses!)- those that have fostered such a crazy environment…

    (Zikes! …is crazy large enough to cover all this KoolAid?)

    …SGM churches will never be “normal…” (sad face)

    So madam (WP) writer, 

    Do us proud…

    Turn-Up-The-Volume!

    Da gangstas in da neighborhood are real loud…
    and dayz has real bad attitude…

    hahahahahahahahaha

    Sopy

  132. Sopy

    There is a heart problem of which the abuse response is only a symptom. It frankly shocks me that these men did not weep and protect the victims. Why? Maybe they are emotionally dead?

  133. For them, perhaps it is “there but for the grace of God, go I” or maybe “there but for the failure of a vic to speak up, go I”.

  134. I think for most people to face the reality of sexual abuse is to face the pit of hell and question the goodness and sovereignty of God

  135. Dee,

    You said:

    “It frankly shocks me that these men did not weep and protect the victims. Why? Maybe they are emotionally dead?

    A sixty-four thousand dollar question?

    No answer will ever be enough for the victims & their families…Their shoes, forever un-fillable.

    We are all at an absolute loss as to finding a adequate explanation to that question.

    Like Danielle Bean said, maybe the best we can all hope for is a measure of justice and healing.

    On bended knee…Lord! you know! Please come, render aid♥…Please bring all of heaven, with you!

    Sopy

  136. Dee said: I spoke with someone who was somehow aligned with Peacemakers who kept trying to get me to agree that things that were happening in the KingsWay church could be fixed with simply understanding one another and seeking forgiveness. I said that I believed that there were entrenched institutional flaws that would prevent a long term solution if the institution itself was left intact. The institution was built on the dying breath of the shepherding movement and those teaching continue to this day in this supposedly new organization. I told him that any peace would be temporary because the real problem hadn’t been fixed.

    I agree, Dee! Besides, what does “understanding one another” mean here anyway?

  137. Evie said: (Aug. 21 12:08)

    ” Women were not given equal rights at all. Women were not recognized in the culture and society of that time as being competent. Some have said if Jesus had called women or gentiles to be his first apostles in the time and place He was manifest, His ministry would have been discredited from the beginning. But he knew the Kingdom would come and His will would be worked progressively within the church. And Paul had a clear vision of what the church was supposed to be.”

    Good post, Evie! I think the way Jesus treated women says alot about how their role was to be in the church. He appeared to women first after He rose from the dead, He thought it was important for Mary to learn about the Kingdom & said it shouldn’t be “taken from her” – there are many other examples, but when I am unsure about anything, I go to what Jesus said, and what Jesus did & that makes everything clear.

  138. Pingback: Around Town: Week in Review (From Gothard, Patriarchy Movement, Sovereign Grace Ministry News to Spurgeon on Secondhand Windbags) « The Reformed Traveler

  139. To all those who have left SGM: “The monkey may be off your back, but that doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”