What are Family Integrated Churches?

"Every single day last week, I received letters from people who were wanting to know more about the family integrated church movement. Many of them had attended a homeschooling convention in recent weeks and, like Momma Knows, had been subjected to a heapin’ helpin’ of FIC propaganda disguised as 'encouragement for homeschoolers.' "

Karen Campbell (That Mom)

European Tapestry

(Taken by Deb)

Throughout Christendom there appears to be a growing number of believers who are dancing to a different tune. The family-integrated church (FIC) movement is on the rise and causing discord within the body of Christ. With the D6 Conference getting into full swing today, it is time that we investigate this movement more closely.

When a pastor is compelled to write a serious letter regarding the FIC movement, you can be sure that something is amiss. Here is what Pastor Andy sent to his congregation. (link)

"Dear Church Family,

Have you heard of the “family-integrated church” (FIC) movement? If you are familiar with classical Christian education resources like Vision Forum, you have probably encountered the influence of this growing movement. Or perhaps you have seen recent ads in World Magazine for an upcoming conference sponsored by the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC). Speakers at this conference include Ken Ham, Paul Washer, Andy Davis (First Baptist, Durham), Vision Forum’s Doug Phillips, and the director of the NCFIC, Scott Brown (a pastor in Wake Forest, NC).

What should we think of the FIC movement? I’m not writing to tell you just what you should think.

And I’m not writing to cast aspersions on the brethren promoting it. From all that I can tell, the leaders of this movement sincerely desire to promote church and family life regulated by the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. Surely that is a good desire.

But because this movement seems to be exerting a growing influence in circles that are familiar to many of our people, I am writing to urge you to think with careful biblical discernment about this movement. As with any so-called “movement” within Christian circles, we must be careful to test all things by the Scriptures, no matter how biblical they may sound or who may be espousing them.

Here are a couple of things we should keep in mind when evaluating the FIC movement:

1) Obviously, faithfulness to the Word of God is of first importance. But faithfulness to the Word means more than just holding a biblical view about a given issue. Biblical fidelity includes holding that view in due proportion to the weight it receives in Scripture and the place assigned to it by Scripture.

“Issue-oriented” movements like FIC often are reactions against some legitimate problem in society or the church at large. Reactionary movements sometimes (often?) overact and become biblically imbalanced. The proverbial pendulum swings too far, if you will. When I read FIC leaders describe age-segregated Sunday School programs as a serious threat to biblical family order and the authority of fathers, I wonder if they are taking their legitimate concern too far and finding enemies where they should be finding friends. Be careful to evaluate the legitimacy of such assertions according to the Scriptures.

2) “Issue-oriented” movements like FIC tend to so emphasize and so closely identify themselves with their one primary issue of concern that they unwittingly displace the one great issue for the Christian and the church- the gospel itself. I’m not saying the proponents of FIC are denying the gospel or even failing to preach and promote the gospel. I’m saying that issue-oriented movements have a tendency to displace the gospel from its place of first importance. Every local expression of the church of Jesus Christ should desire to be known and identified supremely for its commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, not by its distinctives. Whenever the church raises such issues to the level of first importance, we risk distorting our true identity and undermining our true calling and usefulness. When I read FIC leaders speaking as if America’s greatest need is the restoration of biblical fatherhood, I wonder if such a displacement is occurring. Be careful to evaluate the legitimacy of such assertions in light of the supremacy of the gospel in God’s plan and man’s need.

3) Lastly, “issue-oriented” movements like FIC tend to hold their particular convictions in such a way that almost inevitably promotes disunity within the body of Christ. This especially concerns me on the local level. The concern I have is this: FIC leaders speak and write much of the “truly biblical” way to order the church and family together. We want to be truly biblical in the ordering of our church and families. That’s a good desire. But care is needed.

We get into trouble when our efforts to define “truly biblical” take us beyond the Bible itself. Especially when we feel strongly about truth and the recovery of certain truths, we also need to exercise humble restraint and spiritual wisdom not only to go where the Bible goes but to stop where the Bible stops. We need the grace to acknowledge the difference between clear biblical principles and the cultivation of personal convictions based on those principles.

Numerous problems result from this all too common practice of going beyond the clear teaching of Scripture and making laws where God has not made any. Not the least is the damage it inflicts on the unity of the church. The basis of unity becomes agreement with the specific way those convictions are worked out, rather than like-mindedness on the more broad biblical principles behind those convictions. Seeking to order one’s family by the Word of God is not enough. It must look a certain way, or it is not “truly biblical.” And that’s where the problem lies.

Here’s an example of what I mean: One writer associated with the FIC movement essentially asked the question, “How could you sit under the ministry of a man who sends his kids to the anti-Christian government schools (emphasis mine)?” In the context, he equates a pastor sending his child to public school with the disqualifying sins of gluttony, failure to properly manage the home and marital infidelity. Now, in all honesty, that angers me. Not because I send one of my children to the local public high school. My conscience is clear on that one. It angers me because it draws a dividing line between brethren on an issue not explicitly addressed in the Bible. Here’s the effect in the local church: those who meet and perhaps agree with his definition of “truly biblical” are tempted to judge and even separate themselves and their children from those portrayed as “compromisers”. This may be an extreme example. We shouldn’t judge the whole movement based upon it. But we should be careful to evaluate such assertions according to the more clear and explicit revelation of the Word of God.

So what’s the point of all this? Simply to encourage you to examine the FIC movement by the clear teaching of the Word of God…"

How does one define a Family Integrated Church? The Wikipedia article on FIC, which is extremely well-documented, provides a concise explanation.  The article, along with references, can be found here.

"A family integrated church is one in which parents and children attend church services together, children stay all through church services (without attending Sunday school or children's ministries) and organized groups and activities for children and youth are non-existent. Timothy Paul Jones notes that in the family-integrated ministry model, "all age-graded classes and events are eliminated." Other terms used are family discipleship churches, family-centered ministry and inclusive-congregational ministry.

Family integrated churches emphasise inter-generational ministry and the "parents' responsibility to evangelize and disciple their own children." Some advocates base this on the idea that families are the "God-ordained building blocks of the church." In 2009, B&H Academic published Perspectives on Family Ministry: Three Views (ISBN 0805448454) which included a contribution by Paul Renfro in favor of "Family-Integrated Ministry." Renfro argues that in the Old Testament, children were part of the "gathered assembly of God's people" (Deuteronomy 31:12), while "in first-century churches the presence of children in the church assembly was assumed," since Paul directly addressed children in Ephesians 6:1-3. Scott Brown argues for family integrated churches on the basis of the sufficiency of Scripture, while advocates of the concept also argue that this is the practice of historic Christianity.

A movement of family integrated churches has formed among evangelical churches in the USA. Organizations that advocate family integrated churches include Vision Forum, the Alliance for Church and Family Reformation, and the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. The NCFIC lists around 800 affiliated churches."

Since the NCFIC plays such a prominent role in the family-integrated church movement, I decided to take a closer look at their affiliated churches. As some of you know, Dee and I live in North Carolina, so I decided to investigate the NCFIC-affiliated churches here in our state. Based on information I obtained from the official NCFIC website, here is what I discovered:

There are 37 FICs in North Carolina that are listed among the 800 affiliated churches on the NCFIC website.

Here is a breakdown of where these FICs meet:

Church Building (which may or may not be rented) — 9

Rented Facility — 22

Personal Home — 6

There are less than 500 families in North Carolina that gather in these 37 FIC churches, according to information obtained from the NCFIC website. That averages out to around 16 families per FIC.  I am assuming that the NCFIC statistics are up-to-date. Two churches do not have any families listed, so there may actually be only 35 active FICs in North Carolina.  The largest FIC church — Antioch Community Church — established in 1987, has 60 families.  Some on the list have just one or two families.  Only 8 of these FIC churches in North Carolina has over 16 families.

To back up these statistics, here is a detailed list of FIC churches in North Carolina that are affiliated with the National Center of Family-Integrated Churches. To understand this listing, the church name and location are mentioned first.  Underneath are the type of meeting location, year established, and number of families involved. (link)

Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (Arden)
Meeting @ Gentilini Allstate Insurance Agency (2004) 11 Families

Cornerstone Bible Church (Asheboro)
Rented Facility (2008) 15 Families

Simple Truth Bible Fellowship (Asheville)
Rented Facility (2009) 5 Families

Blanch Baptist Church (Blanch)
Church Building (1901) 12 Families (multi-generational)

Park Family Fellowship (Charlotte)
Rented Facility (2007) 3 Families

Holy Trinity Reformed Church (Concord)
Rented Facility (2008) 12-15 Families

Providence Church (Denver)
Rented Facility (2006) 40 Families

Grace Baptist Church (Durham)
Meet in Remodeled Church that is no longer a church (2007) 4 families

Antioch Community Church (Elon)
Church Building (1987) 60 Families

Liberty Fellowship (Fellowship)
Home Gathering (2008) 1 Family

Providence PCA (Fayetteville)
Rented Facility (2002) 26 Families

Southwest Wake Christian Assembly (Fuquay-Varina)
Rented Facility (2002) 24 Families

Legacy Community Church (Greensboro)
Rented Facility (2004) 15 Families

Providence Church (Greenville)
Rented Facility (2004) 6 Families

West Hill Baptist Church (Hillsborough)
Church Facility (1917) 12 Families (Older church transformed)

Heritage Bible Fellowship (Hope Mills)
Church Building – Meets Sunday at 3:00 p.m. (2004) 30 Families

Anchor Baptist Church (Louisburg)
Rented Facility (2007) 8 Families

His Kingdom Come Ministries (Marshville)
House Gathering (2006)   ???

Presbyterian Reformed Church (Matthews)
Rented Facility (1998) 15 Families

Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church (McLeansville)
Rented Facility (2011) 8 Families

Presbyterian Reformed Fellowship (Morehead City)
Board Room of Hampton Inn (2006) 2 Families

Chatham Christian Assembly (New Hill)
Home Gathering (2007) 10 Families

Wilkes Fellowship (North Wilkesboro)
House Gathering (2001) 7 Families

Living Vine Church (Pineville)
Church Building (2002) 30 Families

Word of Grace Community Church (Pineville)
Rented Facility (2006) 8 Families

Westminster Presbyterian Church (Reidsville)
House Gathering (2006) 5 Families

Calvary of Salisbury (Salisbury)
Rented Facility (2010) 3 Families

Heritage Fellowship Church (Shelby)
Rented Facility (2007) 6 Families

Heritage Family Bible Church (Snow Camp)
 House Gathering (2007) 6 Facilities

Moore Christian Assembly (Southern Pines)
Southern Pines Train House (2009) ???

Foundation Fellowship Church (Statesville)
House Gathering (2005) 8 Families

Hope Baptist Church (Wake Forest)
Rented Facility (2006) 40 Families

Wesleyan Pentecostal Church (Washington)
Church Facility (1994) 16 Families

River City Reformed Church (Wilmington)
Church Building (2008) 7 Families

Trinity Reformed OPC (Wilmington)
Church Building (1971) 14 Families

Pilgrim Bible Church (Winston-Salem)
Rented Facility (2003) 7 Families

Sovereign Redeemer Community Church (Youngsville)
Rented Facility – Hill Ridge Farms (2011) 15 Families

It is worth noting that Scott Brown, the director of the National Center of Family Integrated Churches, lives in North Carolina and leads one of these churches, though not the largest.  His church recently planted an FIC with 15 families.  

What is really going with this network of 800 Family Integrated Churches, and why should any of us care? That will be the topic of tomorrow’s post.

 

Lydia's Corner:   1 Chronicles 7:1-8:40     Acts 27:1-20     Psalm 7:1-17     Proverbs 18:22

Comments

What are Family Integrated Churches? — 153 Comments

  1. Paul Washer makes me ill. He is a grave danger to the body of Christ. His putrid legalism makes me want to projectile vomit. He is a major league Pharisee beyond compare. Shame on him for his false gospel.

  2. I’m glad TWW is addressing this movement. Honestly, I wish I’d known about over 5 years ago before I (unknowingly) ended up in it. My former church was semi-FIC (they didn’t call themselves FIC, were not affiliated with NCFIC, and did have Sunday School after the service; however, all children except infants sat in the services and the leadership and members essentially taught and followed the movement) and I also (unknowingly at the time) had some other encounters with NCFIC-affiliated churches. Thankfully, in the latter case I paid attention to my God-given “spidey sense” and got out.

    – What is it with their Gothard-esque authority fetish?
    – They idolize the (20th century American nuclear) family, without regard for anyone who doesn’t fit their little mold (singles, divorced parents, kids whose parents don’t attend church, and really anyone other than white middle class nuclear homeschooling “biblical” families)
    – In my experience, since they’re the only ones being “biblical” and getting it “right,” they tend to end up very cultic and isolationist. Point number 3 is dead on.

  3. So sad when a “way of doing church” — the structure of the church–becomes the defining characteristic — another instance of taking people’s eyes off Jesus and distracting them from the love and truth of Christ, and making them focus instead on an idol — in this case, the family. They’re not the first to make family an idol — many people do this personally without even realizing it.

    In Christianity, the pendulum tends to swing — wonder how long it’ll take this one to swing back?

  4. I liked how the author of the article presented the problems or issues as real concerns, yet, the church becomes issue-oriented and they can miss the fact that they should simply be preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Apparently, marriage and divorce are an issue in the church, as well as family life being in balance, etc… But like Amanda said, focusing on issues so much that they become idols is what we are seeing in the church. My church wasn’t a FIC but yet, these issues were certainly idols that need to be seen for what they are. Repeatedly, the singles are always being warned for their idolatry of marriage and family when the ones who are warning us/them are those who really need to hear that message. They are the idolators. The entire church is set up to cater to men, ministry (still men), marriage and family. It leaves out the greater single population, as well as the elderly who are widowed or whose children do not attend the same congregation, divorcees, and single parents, especially single moms. People in the stages of life that do not fit the mold will always feel ostracized, unwelcome, disenchanted, lonely and neglected. That’s what happens when you focus on an issue rather than simply focus on Christ and His love for the church. To go so far as to call singles ministry an abomination but yet have marriage conferences and ministry all the time lets you know where these men’s minds are, what they value and how they see life in general.

    Sometimes, I think if they’d have their way, they’d try to create a perfect society just like other totalitarian leaders have done in the past: everyone looks the same, acts the same, performs the same, but all with perfection. There really is nothing new under the sun. I’m young, but I think I’m learning a lot here as I read daily and participate. It’s helping me to see the same play written a thousand times, it just has different characters. It’s important to be able to recognize these recycled themes in Christianity and acknowledge them for what they are. At the end of the day, most of it is entirely unnecessary to live a life pleasing to God.

  5. Amanda

    Your comment is dead on, There are a number of churches who are developing this, but they do it quietly. For example, a youth summer camp is now turned into a “family” camp, and the kids go with their parents and their parents lead their devotionals, etc. Then, early marriage and large families begin to be encouraged.

    And yes, the movement freezes out anyone who doesn’t fit their cultish behavior. In other words, Mary Magdalene and Paul would not have “fit in.”

  6. Amanda: “Gothard-esque authority fetish” ROFL, i love that! I need some kind of folder in my computer for cool and useful phrases like this. 🙂

  7. Nickname

    I wonder if it is a pendulum that swings back and forth or one of those crazy carnival rides which spins up and down and all around.

  8. NLR

    What you said bears stating again. “Repeatedly, the singles are always being warned for their idolatry of marriage and family when the ones who are warning us/them are those who really need to hear that message. They are the idolators. The entire church is set up to cater to men, ministry (still men), marriage and family. It leaves out the greater single population, as well as the elderly who are widowed or whose children do not attend the same congregation, divorcees, and single parents, especially single moms.”

    The church is a body, and when we cut off arms and legs in order to emphasize another body part, we are crippled.

  9. NLR,

    Excellent observations! Just yesterday Dee and I were talking about the issues you bring up, and she remarked that Paul, as well as Jesus, both single men, would not have felt welcome in some of these “exclusive” congregations. Very sad indeed. Welcome to Stepford 21st century style.

  10. Pingback: What are Family Integrated Churches? | The Wartburg Watch - christianfamiliesnetwork.com - christian families network UNITED STATES

  11. Eagle,

    Your comment is very convicting. No wonder Christianity is declining in our culture. It’s just a social club where like-minded people get together to do whatever they do.

    Thanks for doing some of my research! Homeschooling / FIC is BIG in the South!

  12. Eagle

    However, this is insidious. I attended a local church in our city that began to implement some of these ideas but did not call it that. There is a very strong tie to Southern Seminary-think Al Mohler.

  13. Eagle

    There are some of us out there. Even in the Bible, reference is made to the Remnant which has upheld the Living Body of the Church throughout time. Man is essentially fallen and will use the church, as well as any other institution for his selfish purposes.But, in my travels, I have met those whose lives bear witness to the essential faith. Those who cut through the morass and uphold the truth. I highly recommend that you visit Apt to Teach-a blog link on our site. This man is one of those.

  14. “The church is a body and when we cut off arms and legs in order to emphasize another body part, we are crippled.”

    Well put, Dee.

    If everyone in a local church body has the same strengths and weaknesses, then how do they build each other up in the Lord? We are to complement one another, are we not?

    Like Amanda, I’ve had personal experience with these “family integrated” churches. I know Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist in Durham, and it is disappointing seeing him continue to align himself with this movement. He should know better.

    FIC pastors use Christ-centered language, similar to the way Mormons do, so that a newcomer initially believes the group is Gospel-focused, but once a person gets to know these people on a deeper level, their misguided focus on works becomes evident. The man-made rules and burdens they place on families show that in truth, they believe people must measure up to their man-made standards or they are none of Christ’s.

    In church little tots in strollers are supposed to sit forward and listen to long sermons. They are disciplined if they act like a normal child. The pastoral ignorance of early childhood development and pressure on parents to have perfect children is worrisome. My greatest concern is for the children in this movement. Performance is everything.

    The FIC is about illusion and grandiosity. You will notice that some of these pastors paint their marriages in their media productions as being very strong. It’s a front, a marketing ploy. It’s all about image.

    These people take something as natural as a child being taught by his parents and they turn it into the prime emphasis of the church. Parental pride is a big stumbling block. I support families worshiping together if they so choose and I believe all churches should accommodate that desire. I believe it is the duty of parents to teach their children Biblical truths. I believe that today’s church as a whole has dropped the ball in this area and too many parents do leave the teaching of their own children to other people. This is a big reason we’re seeing problems in families today. Parents do hold the responsibility to teach their own children. But the FIC distorts the Gospel message which is centered on Christ, not a man’s own family. True discipling of one’s own children is an outgrowth of God’s Spirit working in a true Christian’s life. It is not forced from without by man-made rules.

    The FIC is a cult of pharisees to be avoided and it is good news that more people are beginning to see it.

    As for “issue-driven” churches, Rick Warren’s empire and the Tony Campolo camp serve as potent offenders adversely affecting far more people than the FIC. Are they mentioned anywhere here at Wartburg Watch? If not, it would be great to see them included here as well.

  15. Ted

    i have found that strong Christians tend to teach their kids. It is the weaker Christians who tend to rely on others. My guess is that weaker Christians will not sign up for this role. And the parents, who would have been involved with their kids anyway, will get involved, skewing the results and perhaps creating an opposite effect within their own families. In other words, could such parents hound their kids to death?

    One church I visited did the parent based Sunday school. I have never seen such regimented joylessness in any church. Yes, the parents were teaching their kids. Their kids looked bored and prevailed upon.

    God has given each of us our own personalities and the kids to live in our home. Each family needs to feel out their kids so that they will be encouraged to seek the faith on their own terms. I enjoyed it when each of my kids began to disagree with me about various issues in the Bible. We sure had some lively debates.

    As of now, my kids, now young adults and college age, are Christians and go to church (different ones than I attend) and Bible studies, participate in some form of missions, etc. We did not do any sort of FIC model. My kids went to various youth oriented groups, retreats, and summer camps and enjoyed them. I taught them the Bible through fun discussions and they also overheard my own discussions with my husband and friends. They saw us attend Bible studies and, more importantly, saw us enjoy them.

    Now, they see this blog and know how much the faith means to me. I still remember when my son found out one of his friends in high school followed this blog. Suddenly, mom wasn’t so weird after all.

  16. Dee: I’d forgotten about the family camp thing. My old church (FIC in all but name) had a family camp, much like you described. They always wondered why none of us single adults ever attended. IMO the deception involved in trying to change a church into being more family-integrated and/or Calvinist is far worse than churches that completely open about what they believe and teach. Yet somehow the ends justify the means in their eyes.

    Eagle: “These movement seems to be among the local churches in the rural areas.”

    That’s been my observation as well. They tend to be in somewhat rural areas and draw mainly from even more rural areas. It makes sense, if you think about it. Large families tend to live in more rural areas and, face it; the cities are full of imperfect people who don’t fit the mold.

  17. Ted “FIC pastors use Christ-centered language, similar to the way Mormons do, so that a newcomer initially believes the group is Gospel-focused, but once a person gets to know these people on a deeper level, their misguided focus on works becomes evident. The man-made rules and burdens they place on families show that in truth, they believe people must measure up to their man-made standards or they are none of Christ’s.

    That’s it exactly. That’s exactly what drew me into the group, and it wasn’t until I was out that I realized just how messed up they really were.

  18. My family lived far from aunts and uncles. My Sunday School teachers, RA leaders, VBS teachers became aunts and uncles for me, and contributed to me coming to Christ, helping me with moral development and growing in faith. My Dad and to a lesser extent Mom did the same for my friends. I cherish the memory of some older widow ladies who always greeted me, asked about school, etc. — they had taught me in Sunday School at different times.

    When I was away at college, my friends still visited my folks, even continued the Thanksgiving tradition of the group, which was to play football in the afternoon late, and go to my house and clean out the frig, do the dishes and then do a movie. They would not let Mom in the kitchen until it was all cleaned up! My folks were a part of an environment that led to several of my friends, two of whom had lost their father to work accidents, finding faith.

  19. Ted

    I learned about a thing called mimetic personality identification which was described by a Danish psychiatrist. In this, the people who follow a certain leader begin to pick up his personality traits and physical attributes. While the leader they are mimicking enjoys this in the beginning, after a time, if the copycat begins to encroach on the popularity of the main guy, then the main guy feels threatened and gets rid of the competition. Hence, you have the CH Mahaney bald heads. However, one only needs to see the “degifting” of pastors at SGM to see that Mahaney will not put up with anyone who gets too close.

    A couple of years back, it is my understanding, there was an assistant pastor who mimicked Ed Young Jr (good night!) so well, that he decided to leave and start his won church and took a goodly number of church members with him. Ed busted a hissy and said this man was a thief! Ed liked him until the mimic actually took on all the attributes of Young.

    I still remember going to a Woman’s evening at a former church. The speaker used all sorts of gestures and even voice inflections that i had seen before. I suddenly realized she was doing a perfect Anne Graham Lotz. It was almost unsettling.

  20. Amanda

    It is vitally important, for these fringe groups, to convince you that they have the “secret” to doing church God’s way. This makes the participants believe that thy are somehow more spiritual than others. They are not-in fact they may be less spiritual but they are deluded into thinking they have an edge and that God is particularly pleased with their show of devotion. It is always interesting to watch such a group deal with a pastor who suddenly has been exposed , such as having an affair. Many cannot cope with such a thing because they had pinned all their hopes on following a formula that “guarantees” success and Godly approval.

  21. Dee/Deb–

    Thanks! ; ) I’m glad other people see this stuff and I am not crazy. If I hadn’t found these blogs, I’m not sure that I’d be sane at this point. I’m sure I’d be highly medicated. I love the no-nonsense approach on the blogs to get down to the bottom of things and see them clearly for what they are… I just posted over at Survivors (I hadn’t read there in quite awhile) regarding something that has made me uncomfortable since day 1 of finding out Mark Dever’s relationship with CJ, but I couldn’t just say it and now have the courage to. I hope that we will be talking about this more here as I have some things I would love to discuss and think about. Here’s what I said: Hi All,

    I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ve caught up on most of the posts in the preview column. Many of you know that I used to attend CHBC and left for many of the similar reasons that you would find in your SGM church. I left. After all this stuff came out about CJ and then him going to CHBC, I began to wonder. I’ve had a difficult time accepting the implications of Mark Dever’s involvement and his response to the situation because I have struggled with wanting to believe the best about him, especially after having dialogue with him on many occasions and at one time, trying to develop a relationship with him as my Sr. Pastor at the time. To me, CJ seems much like the narcissitic psycho that he appears to be, and with all his goodies exposed, espeically his discipleship/sheparding past, authoritarian beliefs and control etc… I’ve tried my best to separate him and Dever–even though I knew it was coming. I can no longer think the best about Dever, and as one still-CHBCer posted regarding Dever’s comments, what I thought was going to happen is happening. ANd I’m glad I’m gone.

    People have said to me that they are surprised that there isn’t a CHBC survivors blog. I have always said that CHBC isn’t half as bad as CLC/SGM but could definitely be on it’s way. Others have projected that this very well might be the case and soon. And I’m sad to say that I definitely see that in the making. CJ is preaching at CHBC. Mark makes his statements about the stiuation. And life will go on there. But like Pilgrim stated in the post above, I’d be worried too. Because as people leave CLC and go to other churches, they will bring these bad practices with them.

    CHBC does church planting and ministry in the same way through sending pastor’s and elders, and sometimes members out to local churches and others in the area to try and help them become “healthy” as per 9Marks. What I see isn’t some exchange where a little good goes in and changes the atmosphere, but the reverse–what appears to be “good” actually isn’t, and a little leaven goes a long way. I think ultimately, it will be bad for these churches and the members, especially if they dont have a strong stance on what they believe and allow for differences in the cultural and individual espressions of Christianity.

    Carolyn and CJ will taint CHBC in the same way. CJ will not become more like the majority there, which already isn’t far from where he is, but moreso, their ideals and visions will spread like unhealthy leaven through the congregation. Both churches are very similar in many of their practical ways of living and thinking patterns. Cognitivie dissonance is familiar for both. And even though they might disagree on polity, it doesnt quite matter when both pastors are hierarchial and authoritarian. I’d put money on it if I had some, because I believe firmly that the problems at CHBC that are apparent discipleship doctrinal patterns will become even worse and given some years time, they will have their own set of survivors. I am one of few that I know of–it’s not like many peopel around there are using discernment either. But birds of a feather definitely comes to mind, and it’s rather hard now to separate Mark from Mahaney without struggling to make it fit when it doesnt.

  22. Dee and Deb, the topic of “issue-driven” churches is at the top of this thread. I’m hearing some begin to discount Wartburg Watch because they suspect the focus is on right-leaning churches, as opposed to “issue-driven” leftist churches like those driven by Tony Campolo or Rick Warren. Some are saying it appears this is a hit site aimed at disenfranchising the right by people on the left. I’d like to answer these people with a reasoned response, but I don’t see any left-leaning churches covered on this site even though many of them also have cans of worms. I thought you might want to respond to this publicly and put concerns to rest.

  23. Ted, Your comment at 11:18 is right on. You echo so many of the concerns I have had for years.

    “These people take something as natural as a child being taught by his parents and they turn it into the prime emphasis of the church. ”

    And there we have ONE example of an issue driven church. And we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is not either/or. There is a total lack of balance in most churches these days because “issues” sell and bring in customers.

    They take something good and make it extrabiblical. That was my point on another thread about expecting your kid at age 5 to be able sit quietly for an hour or so. It is not about the sermon. It is about learning you are not the center of the world. It is about sitting quietly at a dinner, not just church…and listening to OTHERS for a change. Children are being raised expecting to be entertained. Learning HAS to be fun? At all times?

    Now, saying the above, I will be cast as like those in the FIC by some. But nothing could be further from the truth. We take good things and make them bad because some people go way overboard with them.

    I totally agree with you about Rick Warren and Tony Campolo. In fact, my contention for years is that the Calvinistas are taking strategies that worked so well for Warren to gain followers and implementing them in the Reformed movement. Warren was a pioneer in membership covenants, for example. And that is just one example. For those around the Saddleback movement from back in the 90’s knows that no one dared disagree with Warren. He would be very kind in public about it, but afterwards, you were dead meat….quietly of course.

    Don’t get me started on Campolo.

    BTW: The beards are patriarchal accoutrements

  24. “How could you sit under the ministry of a man who sends his kids to the anti-Christian government schools (emphasis mine)?”

    The question should be, why “sit” under the ministry of any man?

    The issue is not FIC or SBC or SGM or MH or CC or whatever brand you want to examine. If anything can be gleaned from reading the articles on this website is that whether small or large – the top-down, hierarchical, chain-of-command style of “church” is a huge part of the problem – if not THE problem, with hurting sheep strewn everywhere about the landscape of Christendom.

  25. Lin, your observation that many of the Reform Big Dogs are borrowing from the Rick Warren playbook is amazing. I think you’re right. I had not thought of that before.

    Last I heard John MacArthur is not liking any of their antics. That’s good news at least.

  26. Ted,

    “FIC pastors use Christ-centered language, similar to the way Mormons do, so that a newcomer initially believes the group is Gospel-focused, but once a person gets to know these people on a deeper level, their misguided focus on works becomes evident. The man-made rules and burdens they place on families show that in truth, they believe people must measure up to their man-made standards or they are none of Christ’s.”

    Yes, exactly. When I read or hear FIC leaders/proponents, they SOUND like humble, gracious people who want to follow God’s will for their lives and their families. They deceive people with their God-talk and Christ-centered semantics. On the surface, it sounds like truth, and I’m sure their message is inviting.

    As with many movements in Christianity, this one probably started as a response to parents abdicating their responsibilities to their children. We probably all know kids who lived in very ungodly homes but were dropped off at Christian schools every day and dropped off at SS on Sunday mornings. What began as a legitimate response has gone horribly awry.

    Unfortunately, the FIC model has become another way to exert ungodly or extra-biblical control and authority over vulnerable human beings – children. Women have their place too. Men are able to satisfy their lust for power and control by having supreme authority in their churches and in their families. Women and girls are led to believe that serving their husbands/fathers is necessary to have/maintain God’s favor, so they go along with it and promote it too.

  27. Thank you for this post!

    The pastor’s letter is incredible. It reminds me of some things that my pastor has said, but the letter is much more powerful.

    I have already emailed this to our church staff, the 2 churches we have planted in the last year, the elders and friends of mine who are on staffs at other churches, including Forest Hill in Charlotte, NC.

  28. Ted

    ” I’m hearing some begin to discount Wartburg Watch because they suspect the focus is on right-leaning churches, as opposed to “issue-driven” leftist churches like those driven by Tony Campolo or Rick Warren.”

    You know, this is the second time in about 6 weeks I have heard about some people beginning to say we are leftists. They should discuss it here on this blog so we can respond to it. Why are the contacting you instead of us? Weird.

    I live in an area that is replete with what I think you might mean by “liberal” churches. Yet i attend a nondenominational church which is well-known for its orthodox theology. We tend to cover churches that fall within the sphere of what I call evangelical. So, the chances of us covering Pullen Memorial are slim. In other words, I cover stuff within the subset of the faith into which i fall. I did do one review on the polygamist sects within Mormonism which clearly pointed out their devotion to certain Scriptures that the evangelical patriarchs tend to use as proof texts. Oh, I also do not discuss Catholicism in any in-depth fashion for that reason as well.

    At one point, we had readers writing on the fact that Piper invited Rick Warren to one of his conferences. I believe that was met with horror on the part of the Calvinista crowd. At this point, Warren is not making many waves and the Purpose Driven stuff has been replaced by the Neo-Calvinist stuff. So we go where the interest is. Do you know of something new on Warren? Next week I plan to discuss the new Barna poll which is in the newspapers.I haven’t read anything about Campolo recently. Has he said something that is in the news and worth discussing?

    Also, what do you mean by liberal? Are you referring to the Episcopal church or ELCA stands on homosexuality? Since I have already made myself clear on that subject (no non-celibate homosexuals in church membership or clergy), it seems to be a moot point. Or are you talking politics? the purpose of this blog is not political and I tend to shy away from that topic since I know devoted Christians on all sides of some political fights.

    Now, on this blog, we encourage people from all walks of life to comment. There are some here who are very conservative and others who reject the faith but like to dialog.We love to talk about the faith with everyone who wants to talk about it. Even though we disagree with one another, I love these folks. They challenge me to think deeply about my faith and how I can better communicate the faith. Everyone who visits here is created in the image of God and demands the love and respect we should show to all. In fact, some of my favorite people who comment here do not toe the line in the orthodox sense but their honesty and willingness to dialog brings me joy.

    This blog is also a haven for those who have been deeply hurt by the church. Spiritual abuse is a hot topic, as is pedophilia and domestic violence-both of which have gotten short shrift by both conservative and liberal churches.

    Ted, don’t knock yourself out defending us. We are startled by the number of readers that we have attracted. In the beginning, we hoped to get just a few people to discuss issues. My, how that has changed. It still startles us that so many wish to read the musings of two middle-aged, non-influential homemakers.

    Look at the categories on the home page. If someone is really, really concerned about us, tell them to read 2 1/2 years worth of posts. We have the guts to put ourselves out into the marketplace of ideas and to take the hits. How many of those who you claim discount us have the cojones to do that?? And if people discount us, that is fine. In the end, the only One I care about is Jesus and, from what I can tell, He never, ever discounts even one of us. And we never discount anyone who comments on this blog either. Everyone has something to say and we believe that they deserve the dignity of being heard.

  29. Ted said (in a nice way) “Dee and Deb, the topic of “issue-driven” churches is at the top of this thread. I’m hearing some begin to discount Wartburg Watch because they suspect the focus is on right-leaning churches, as opposed to “issue-driven” leftist churches like those driven by Tony Campolo or Rick Warren. Some are saying it appears this is a hit site aimed at disenfranchising the right by people on the left. I’d like to answer these people with a reasoned response, but I don’t see any left-leaning churches covered on this site even though many of them also have cans of worms. I thought you might want to respond to this publicly and put concerns to rest.”

    I think Wartburg Watch tends to go after conservative theologians and conservative churches giving a pass to churches or organizations that do not stand for the inerrancy of Scripture.

  30. Seneca(in typical fashion)
    I would expect nothing less from you. And we have the guts to put our real names on the blog.

  31. Dee (12:09 pm): Right on. And yet they turn around and deride others for thinking they have the “secret” to following God. It’s all about appearances and keeping a squeaky-clean image. They’ll deny that they’re following a formula, yet they are. It’s very deceptive, at least until you’ve been sucked in.

  32. Dee,

    A key difference between churches mostly called liberal and those mostly called conservative, is that the former have orthodoxies with very few elements to which one must agree to be in full fellowship, whereas the latter tend to have orthodoxies with many elements, including what TWW calls secondary or tertiary issues, to which one must agree or be excluded from the fellowship or suffer from “church discipline”.

    Secondly, it is the conservative churches that tend to insist on a literal, young earth reading of the Genesis accounts, and not those called liberal.

    I suppose that I belong to a church that someone could call “liberal” (not really) and “issue-oriented”. We have two issues, but they are not used to give people the left boot of disfellowship. One is that we are primarily but not exclusively egalitarian, based on extensive analysis of the scriptures and their context, and formerly had a female pastor, currently several women ministers on staff, and ordain women both to ministry and as deacons. Women preach about every fifth or sixth Sunday on average. The other is that we are seeking ways to engage the lower and lower-middle class neighborhood where our church has been located for over 80 years, in evangelism and social ministries, including social justice activities, with a goal of everyone being involved in some mission oriented activity, from meals on wheels, mentoring at the nearby elementary, supporting neighborhood associations, ESL classes, Zumba, tutoring, etc., as well as participating in our three foreign missions projects, in China, Lebanon and Ghana.

  33. Seneca said,

    “I think Wartburg Watch tends to go after conservative theologians and conservative churches giving a pass to churches or organizations that do not stand for the inerrancy of Scripture.”

    What a ridiculous claim. The same could be said about Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. I guess we should be going after them…

    Seneca,

    If you don’t like what we discuss here, why not go elsewhere?

  34. Oh, I dunno about “very few elements,” arce.

    What the supposedly “liberal” denom I belong to lacks: authoritarian enforcers. It seems to me that there are lots of those in the “conservative” denoms.

  35. Deb
    He has gone elsewhere and appears to have caused trouble all over the blogosphere. He supposedly tried to start a blog with little success. And he is reportedly embroiled in a terrible church conflict in which he is a chief participant. And he hides his real name-manly man that he is. However, another blogger tracked down his identity and has informed bloggers in general.

  36. Dee, make no mistake, I appreciate Wartburg Watch and the work you and Deb do. The two people who asked me why more leftist pastors aren’t mentioned very often also appreciate WW. They were not being critical; just observant. You asked if I have anything on Rick Warren, well yes, this is juicy.

    Rick Warren
    http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/5298615912.html

    And since Wartburg Watch does a great job pointing out odd connections between religious players like Al Mohler and C.J. Mahaney, your curiosity might be stirred by knowing that this coming Sunday, socialist Rev. Tony Campolo is speaking at a Southern Baptist church in Columbus, Georgia.

    According to the Ledger-Enquirer, “The Rev. Don Wilhite, senior pastor of Calvary, said he’s heard Campolo speak “dozens and dozens of times” and has read most of his books. He believes Calvary’s mission mirrors much of Campolo’s.”

    Uuuummmmm…..wonder what’s going on with the Southern Baptists on the left side of churchianity?

    You asked for my definition of liberal. I’m talking leftist as in pastors who also skew scriptures while supporting socialist agendas. I figure you wouldn’t support those pastors either, right?

  37. I’m wondering what happened to the FIC church I visited in Pineville back in 2005? There were probably five or six family, but since they were QF families that meant a full church. Racheal Carman, whose family bought Apologia texbooks, is the member who invited us. I don’t see anything like that on your list. I know they have moved; I heard they built their own building in Waxhaw.

    If so, the movement is a little bigger than your sources report.

  38. ps Tony Campolo spoke at our very conservative Wesleyan church in Oklahoma back in the ’90s. His most impressive story: he dedicated a car payments worth of extra giving to missions until his car, already paid for and old, gave up the ghost. It was still running years later, and he was still living by his promise. I am quite sure Tony Campolo is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I would hope that everyone would support a pastor who honors Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. I am not sure why his politics, even if you have accurately presented them, would be any reason not to support him. He is the brother you are commanded to love as Christ loved you, to accept as Christ accepted you, and not to argue over disputable matters.

    While I may disagree with his politics (I don’t know what they are myself) that would be no reason NOT to support him as a faithful brother in the Lord. Surely the ladies at WW are likewise disciplined in their acceptance of fellow believers.

    A socialist who loves Jesus is every bit as much a Christian as any of us. =D

  39. Ted

    I do not like to discuss politics. I am far from a socialist, having helped chair a conference for the NC Republican Women years ago. (That is also a matter of public record.)I am markedly pro-life and my family has donated to many such causes. In fact, Jack Graham and William F Buckley Jr., sung Happy Birthday to my daughter when we attended the Rose Gala in Dallas.(A major pro-life fundraiser).

    But, I have been very disappointed with politics on both sides of the aisle. Instead, I focus on the faith. I have a friend who I met before she was a Christian. One day she asked me why Christians were against abortion. I told her that such a stand is based on a belief that God alone is the Author of life. She said she didn’t believe in God so i told her it would be hard for me to convince her. One month later, she became a Christian. She then visited me again and I walked her through the Scriptures and she now volunteers for a Pregnancy Support Center. I learned that true change comes from an encounter with the Christ.And I want to expose the essential Christ-not one colored by our societal or political biases. Then the Holy Spirit can begin His convicting work.

    Now, if people are skewing the Scriptures, I am concerned. But, what does that mean? Ken Ham would accuse me of heresy for believing in an Old Earth. Some chick commenting over at the Gospel Coalition is now accusing egalitarians of being heretics with lots of Amens and no comments by the boys. However, I attend a church that does not let women be elders so I am hardly a revolutionary.

    So, to what Scriptures are you referring?

  40. Ted
    That is an interesting article about Warren. I will put it into the post lineup .

    But I want to warn you, I do think fat Christians are a poor witness. I am a member of the Christian Medical Dental Association. I know a Christian doctor who is promoting The Eden Diet. I may talk about that. She definitely does not do anything with Dr. Oz. I think it is the height of hypocrisy when fat Christians deride Christians who like a glass of wine.

  41. Shadowspring

    One would be hard-pressed to find a committed Christian in certain European countries who are not socialists.Once again, politics are not the faith. Jesus is the faith.

  42. “Ted, PS, If I do the post, and it meets certain “criteria” will you defend our honor?”

    Hah! Of course, with the hope that you will continue to post more articles on the Campolo and Warren types slithering through the tall grass. 🙂

    “I learned that true change comes from an encounter with the Christ. And I want to expose the essential Christ-not one colored by our societal or political biases. Then the Holy Spirit can begin His convicting work.”

    I heartily concur!! A critically important point.

    Shadowspring, I would have thought the same thing you do at one time. But after researching socialism, I now see the social justice/gospel effort as a way that some aim to merge Christians in lockstep with the state. Tony Campolo and Rick Warren are every bit as deceptive as C.J. Mahaney except their tentacles spread out much farther.

    I have a friend who grew up in Cuba. He has lived through a lot. He will tell you that in the end, socialism is the same thing as communism. Some time ago it entered into our institutions through the back door, so it’s harder to recognize than it used to be. My friend sees it better than most, and he’s concerned for our nation. This is the reason Campolo will be speaking in a Southern Baptist church this Sunday.

  43. Dee, one would be hard-pressed to find a committed Christian in Europe today precisely because of socialism’s influence. Europe has changed drastically.

  44. Dee,
    People confuse socialism and communism, and also confuse economic systems with governance systems. The first century church in Jerusalem was economic communism — everyone gave everything they had and were fed by the church — from each according to what they have and to each according to what they need. Dictatorship is not a requirement of economic communism, but other than the one example of the first century church, economic communism has not existed without dictatorship.

    The Soviet system was as much state capitalism as communism btw, as in the state owned the enterprises.

    The Nazi’s in Germany were National Socialists — a dictatorship from the right that worked to make the industrialists as profitable as possible as long as they cooperated with the regime and did its bidding without complaint. Again, a form of state control of the means of production (as in Soviet communism), just that a select few who already had wealth maintained some of it with the blessing of the state.

    Socialism is an economic system where there is an effort to meet the needs of people through societal systems, of which the largest and most powerful is the government. Most socialism in the world occurs in democracies.

    Capitalism and socialism can co-exist in the same society, and do in Europe.

    When people argue for absolute free market capitalism, as in deregulate, I usually respond that the criminal justice system is socialism to protect the wealthy — taxes (real estate and sales taxes, which all pay directly or indirectly) pay for the justice system and those with the most to protect are the wealthy. So are the roads that keep commerce moving (being cut), the weather service (being cut), the FAA (being cut), and, btw the military (also being cut).

    The recent health care law is not socialism, but regulated market capitalism.

    Whenever anyone starts calling people socialist, I quit listening, because they generally have no idea what the words actually mean and are talking totally out of their hat. Alternatively, they are willfully misrepresenting the situation.

    Btw, the best single sermon I ever heard preached was by Campolo and it was in part in opposition to abortion.

  45. Ted
    You will get no argument from me. I have some friends who come from Norway and we spent 3 weeks visiting with them in Norway and Sweden a couple of years back. This couple is not socialist and would vote very conservatively were they US citizens. Many of their family and friends are ardent supporters of socialism. If you were to spend time there, you would find a well run country with people who are well educated, well housed, and supported from cradle to grave. They are a pleasant people and are fascinated by our country and government. (They are also a physically beautiful group of people-it was quite intimidating actually).There is virtually no poverty but they do not let in undocumented immigrants. So, how do I start an argument about the evils of socialism?

    I preferred, instead, to discuss the faith and they were very open with me about how the faith has declined in the country. And that, I believe, has to do with a state sponsored church which then reflects the changing perspectives of the faith. While there, gay marriage was approved. The King stepped in, which is very rare, to demand that the state government not impose a mandate on dissenting pastors to marry gay couples. But, for the most part, said pastors will marry them because the pastors are appointed by the state.

    It is my perspective that the enforcement of a state sponsored church had just as much to do with the decline of the faith as socialism. Can you imagine our current legislators mandating what goes on in the churches? I believe that the reason faith is so lively in the US first has to do with the fact that we do not have state sponsored religion.

  46. shadowspring,

    The list of churches in this post are affiliated with NCFIC. Perhaps the church you attended does not associate with Scott Brown and Vision Forum.

  47. Ted

    What is your opinion of why Piper invited Warren to his conference? Piper is not known for his liberalism.
    Also, did you know that at least 50% of what we write is suggested to us by readers?

  48. BTW, I also believe that a lot of us have very loose meanings for the term “liberal” and “conservative”, to the extent that they are almost meaningless.

  49. Arce
    I agree with you. In fact, that is why I hate most labels. What do they really mean? I was accused of being almost reactionary in Dallas and now I am being accused of being liberal. Most of it is based on secondary beliefs that people use to bludgeon the faithful. So, to Ken Ham I am a sell out probably not even saved. For some it is political for others it is doctrine. For some, both politics and faith must be aligned perfectly.

    So, what happens when I, a conservative (at least i used to think so) spend 2 years working with the Navajo Indians and now believe that they deserve some land reparations due to a breach of contracts (aka treaties) by the US government? At the same time, I am prolife and am not happy with Obamacare. I am a believer in most evangelical statements of faith but have some differing perspective on the role of women. I believe in the Second Coming but am not so sure about the pretrib rapture.So, am I liberal or conservative? I think i like your MidRoad Reverend approach.

  50. ‘The recent health care law is not socialism, but regulated market capitalism”

    That is a good one! So, where is the ‘choice’? Well, I guess one could “choose” to pay the fine or not….with consequencs.

  51. “I now see the social justice/gospel effort as a way that some aim to merge Christians in lockstep with the state”

    Agreed!

  52. Ted and Seneca:

    I have found that people write about what interests them. Dee and Deb are interested in what they believe to be aberrations and abuses in the faith from their backgrounds. That’ pretty natural, really.

    I, and you, might like for them to write about other topics. But they probably don’t find Campolo (who makes completely ridiculous assertions like – Jesus would not own a BMW, or something like that) or Jim Wallis all that interesting.

    They come from conservative Christian backgrounds, so they tend to write about stuff from that perspective. That’s all it is.

    And there is really no merit in trying to claim one group is better or worse than the other etc. It’s just a matter of whether one wants to write about it.

  53. “A key difference between churches mostly called liberal and those mostly called conservative, is that the former have orthodoxies with very few elements to which one must agree to be in full fellowship, whereas the latter tend to have orthodoxies with many elements, including what TWW calls secondary or tertiary issues, to which one must agree or be excluded from the fellowship or suffer from “church discipline”

    I disagree with this. they just practice a different type of church discipline. In most liberal churches in my area you MUST accept homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. If you dare utter that it is sin, you are accused of not only hating homosexuals but of wanting to kill them. I am serious. The vitriol is that bad. And your beliefs are a means of fellowship.

    Another probem is insisting that you support government programs that you think enslave people. Again, they think Caesar is the best way to help people: Redistribution of money through the state.

    They are just as bad as the patriarchal churches with the ‘in your face’ vitriol. Anyone who does not believe it should listen to Jeremiah Wright’s sermons. Obama did for 20 years until he threw him under the bus because more and morepeople were becoming alarmed with his vitriol . it is just as much a “works” religion as FIC, etc.

  54. I have had concerns about Doug and Scott for years. Before Trinity Baptist, Scott was at North Wake Church. He was well liked and very popular. But when his “direction” departed from the path North Wake was following, he took his ball and started Trinity. When that didn’t go his way, he took his ball and started Hope. It seems like a pattern of division that is indicative of a problem.

    As for Doug and the whole Vision Forum style of ministry, like so many things, they have taken a good thing and twisted it into something sinful. There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling today’s men to lead instead of follow, to be qualified to teach the word, to be strong instead of weak. But when this becomes nearly father worship and a return to the patriarchy of the old testament, they have gone too far. The biblical accounts of patriarchy aren’t meant to be normative for behaviors today. They simply recount the social structures present (and required?) for safe development of future generations in those times. Those same people holding to a new patriarchy wouldn’t advocate a return to animal sacrifice or keeping kosher, but they’ve chosen the parts they really like, those that make them (feel) powerful and hold those out as moral absolutes.

    The biggest trouble I have is that my wife is enamored with the illusion of the pure, safe family Phillips holds out in Vision Forum stuff. It is an illusion of sorts, kind of like looking longingly at Norman Rockwell paintings or watching old movies. I will not play God and decide that my three daughters have anything less valuable to contribute to His world than my four sons. If God wants them to marry and parent children, hallelujah! If God wants them to become doctors or nurses and serve him that way, hallelujah! They can go places and meet people my sons will never be able to. Example: if all women are supposed to stay home and raise a Christian army, who will bring Jesus to Muslim women?

  55. Dee or Deb (can’t remember which of you above said this):

    If you are going to allow people to use names that are really not their names or to post annonymously (as I do), it is not fair to pick on Seneca because he/she uses that name.

    Almost all of your readers don’t use their real names.

    That’s just my two cents worth.

    I believe that blogs that allow people to maintain the annonymity are a good thing. And as long as that is maintained equally, I find that to be ethical.

    But chiding one writer for doing the very thing that the blog promotes doesn’t seem fair to me.

    You can always change the rules here and require that everyone use their real name. But it doesn’t seem right to protect and honor the annonymity of some but not others, especially if it’s on the basis of how they treat you or your opinions.

    Again, just my opinion.

  56. While I am not in agreement with Seneca’s point of view, I am also not in agreement with personal attacks. It is one thing to attack a doctrine, it is quite another to directly attack someone’s character and air their dirty laundry. Are we loving our enemies by doing that, or are we repaying evil with evil?

  57. Anonymous

    You’ve got it. However, Ted just proposed a topic of interest to me. I am involved in a Christian medical group. Ted brought up a topic of interest to me. Rick Warren has Dr Oz consulting on weight loss at Saddleback. I am interested in writing about this topic-Should a church invite a non-Christian to consult on issues such as weight loss? My husband, a cardiologist and a committed Christian, and I have just concluded a lively discussion on this matter. So, I shall give it a shot, sometime in the next two weeks.

  58. “When people argue for absolute free market capitalism, as in deregulate, I usually respond that the criminal justice system is socialism to protect the wealthy — taxes (real estate and sales taxes, which all pay directly or indirectly) pay for the justice system and those with the most to protect are the wealthy. So are the roads that keep commerce moving (being cut), the weather service (being cut), the FAA (being cut), and, btw the military (also being cut).

    This is so silly and part of the rhetoric that keeps people from talking. I have yet to meet a Free market capitalist that does not believe we need basic services from the government. Military, roads, protection, etc. But it is fun to pretend they are really anarchists.

    We have a bridge closed in our city for needed repair. One problem with the transportation budget is that there is money set aside for squirrel sanctuaries and some turtle habitat but we cannot use that to fix bridges. Now, there is plenty of money if the bridge falls down and people die.

    Arce and I have a different definition of socialism but he has made it clear he is not listening. 😮

  59. Anonymous

    You are 100% correct. But for the sake of argument, assume I know something more about this situation. My comment to Seneca was directed solely at him and it has to do with other places and other times. This is not meant as a general comment to any other reader. So, please put a parenthesis around the comment and ignore it.

    We have made a commitment on this blog to encourage anonymity. In fact, we came forward with out names after one year to defend those who wish to be anonymous.

  60. Lin:

    Good observation about how dogmatic liberals can be.

    Human nature isn’t really different because of one’s political convictions. Humans will always try to force conformity and see that their opinions rule the day.

    We really are not comfortable with people having their own opinions.

  61. Choosing to focus on a narrow topic is not a bad thing; in fact, some would say it is a good thing, since it allows you to learn more about it and do a more detailed analysis.

  62. Lin,

    So perhaps my church is not so liberal after all. We do not encourage homosexuality and there are no open homosexuals, other than one who was celibate and has since left, in the membership or leadership as far as is known. The church and its leadership do not make a practice of inquiring into anyone’s sexuality, and we are not on record as accepting or affirming gays, but we don’t spend time talking against homosexuality as a sin either. It seems more that we are busy trying to serve God and to share his love with those in our neighborhood and in three other countries.

  63. For the record, there is no such thing as a “communist” in practice…never has been. That is a utopian theory. There are only degrees of totalitarianism on that side of the continuum. The more socialism, the less choices…and the more totalitarian.

  64. “It seems more that we are busy trying to serve God and to share his love with those in our neighborhood and in three other countries.”

    Anyone who has been reading here for a while knows how godly you are since you constantly remind us of your works. Perhaps others just don’t like to brag about what they do and take Matt 6 seriously.

  65. Ted,

    TWW is known for its tolerance of a wide range of viewpoints. Everybody gets a fair hearing and no one is vilified for their views. Try commenting on any other blog if your views diverge from the crowd there. If you’re not a choir member, they will descend on you with a vengeance like Crusaders on the walls of Jerusalem.

    We’re not like that , we’re more like Al Andalus before the Jews & the Muslims got kicked out in the late 1400’s.

    I don’t think Dee would hesitate a nanosecond to expose a queer (oops! I meant gay) ELCA pastor who fondles little fellas behind the fellowship hall. So much for liberal left bias.

    The labels liberal & conservative have little meaning unless something or some idea is attached to them. More often than not, many folks will refuse to be stuck in any single category because they support views from both camps.

  66. Chris F,

    Thanks for your comment! Do you know how long Scott Brown was at North Wake?

    I know Trinity Baptist started in 2001 and folded about 5 years later, 2006 perhaps? I have thoroughly reviewed the documentation on the Ephesians 5:11 website. Also, I have driven by North Wake Church many times and know several congregants there.

    Blessings.

  67. Chris

    Thank you for that comment. I pray your daughters will be all that they were created to be. And life is never like a Norman Rockwell painting – no matter how hard we try.

  68. Posted for Eagle

    @ Deb and Dee. If I am generalizing please correct me. But I wonder if this can happen in the rural areas becuase they may have lesser access to education. I mean in cities and highly urban areas, there are universities, grad programs, medical programs, etc.. Those people (I think…) will not be as vulnerable to FIC becuase they can see through. Plus education has taught them to think for themself and scrutinize information.

    Maybe this could also be a replay or a twsit and the war that some fundgelicals have declared on science. It’s an age old problem and maybe it’s coming to light in a different way. Does that make sense?

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  70. The other is that we are seeking ways to engage the lower and lower-middle class neighborhood where our church has been located for over 80 years, in evangelism and social ministries, including social justice activities, with a goal of everyone being involved in some mission oriented activity, from meals on wheels, mentoring at the nearby elementary, supporting neighborhood associations, ESL classes, Zumba, tutoring, etc., as well as participating in our three foreign missions projects, in China, Lebanon and Ghana.

    Amen! The church is is a great venue for these social ministries, and more churches should do likewise.

    I’m not a fan of the phrase “social justice”, because true justice is by definition impartial, whereas social justice conveys (to me) the idea that some should receive special consideration by virtue of their lowly position in society, and because the phrase is so often associated with a liberal political agenda.

    I fully support individuals, churches, and other organizations attempting to address these social concerns — just not when government does so. Not only are such activities not the proper role of government under the U.S. Constitution (nor the proper role of government biblically speaking), the brutal truth of the matter is that government is not particularly good at them.

  71. The Nazi’s in Germany were National Socialists — a dictatorship from the right …

    The notion that National Socialism is a right-wing movement (rather than acknowledging that it is actually leftist ideology, like other forms of socialism) is a result of propaganda put forth during and after World War 2 by Communists and American Democrats, which both wanted to distance themselves from the Nazis as much as possible.

    … that worked to make the industrialists as profitable as possible as long as they cooperated with the regime and did its bidding without complaint. Again, a form of state control of the means of production (as in Soviet communism), just that a select few who already had wealth maintained some of it with the blessing of the state.

    Sounds a lot like the Obama administration.

  72. Dee said: It is my perspective that the enforcement of a state sponsored church had just as much to do with the decline of the faith as socialism.

    They are intertwined. The socialism of European nations is in no small part an outgrowth of their lack of separation of church and state. When the church and state are not kept separate, the state is naturally seen as having the role of carrying out the social responsibilities of the church.

    When the state takes on roles intended by God to be performed by the church, such as caring for the poor, this hinders the religious liberties of its citizens. The state has no right to tell me what to believe, or how to implement my beliefs. Government should not tell me that I can’t worship, or pray, or serve and give to the less fortunate. Likewise, government should not tell me that I must do any of these things, either. When they do, they have taken away my liberty to voluntarily practice my own religion by virtue of mandating it.

    Legalistic, authoritarian churches rob people of the joy of their faith and often end of damaging and destroying that faith. The same damage happens to people’s faith when governments, under the authority of law via taxation, implement social programs and redistribute wealth.

    So it is not one thing (socialism) or the other (state sponsored churches) that caused faith to decline, it is both — for socialism and state churches are inextricably connected.

  73. Oh, and by the way — I agree with all of the criticisms of this post and the commenters regarding the FIC movement. I was a part of a church that began a similar focus at one point, as part of an attempt to transition into a cell/small-group church model.

    The “intergenerational” aspect of cells was a huge focus, and part of the package included dropping age-segregated Sunday School in favor of home-based cell groups with all family members participating in cells.

    I actually think the small-group/cell model has much to commend it, and what goes on in well run small groups, with each member (including children) participating and exercising their gifts comes closer to New Testament church practices than what goes on in most church buildings on Sundays.

    But I did not like the spiritual elitism — the attitude that “we have it right and other churches who don’t follow this same model are not being obedient to God.” I also didn’t like the authoritarian requirements of the church elders that this was to be the new direction of the church, no questions asked (“If you don’t like it, you can leave” — what a horrible thing to ever say to a brother or sister in the family of God!). Nor did their spiritual pride in thinking that God gave them, as elders, the direction and vision for the church and that everyone else’s place was just to be obedient and submit to the leaders.

    Whether it be cells, or FIC, or tongues speaking, or Reformed theology, or any other focus on anything other than Christ crucified and resurrected, the danger of making an idol of a pet doctrine or practice is great.

    “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

  74. Social justice is a contrast with the criminal justice system. The idea is to meet the needs of those who are incapable of helping themselves, and to help, where possible, children to escape poverty by growing into productive members of society. Occasionally, it involves helping families solve problems that are disruptive and which can cause children to fail. Every once in a while, it involves paying a month’s rent or utilities for a family that we have been working with and that is experiencing unemployment and helping them identify resources for finding jobs, which it seems, we do fairly well at our church.

    BTW, from Constantine to today, with the exception of the United States, there has been a state church or state favored religious organization in nearly every country in the world. Even in Soviet days, the Russian Orthodox church was tolerated and all others were not. In the U.S., some states still practiced de jure favoritism to a single church body (denomination) as late as the Civil War. Keep in mind that the extension of the bill of rights to the states did not occur until after the Civil War, so that many states had laws or constitutions that favored a particular denomination. Now all we have are de facto favoritism, such as is practiced in much of the rural and small town South, including passing out Bibles and tracts at public schools, prayer time in classrooms, etc.

  75. Well said, Junkster!

    “Whether it be cells, or FIC, or tongues speaking, or Reformed theology, or any other focus on anything other than Christ crucified and resurrected, the danger of making an idol of a pet doctrine or practice is great.”

  76. It bothers me that churches think that to have small groups meeting during the week, they must give up the most effective small group ministry that has ever existed, Sunday School. Quite frankly, about half of the churches I have joined during my wanderings over the last 40 years or so, I joined and stayed because of a good Sunday School class, and not the preaching. And I will not stay in a church where I cannot find a Sunday School class that is discussion oriented, tolerates differing viewpoints on a particular passage or on the B, C, D, E issues, and occasionally has an outside of church social event. I have also been active in small groups, and led one in our home for several years.

  77. ‘It bothers me that churches think that to have small groups meeting during the week, they must give up the most effective small group ministry that has ever existed, Sunday School. Quite frankly, about half of the churches I have joined during my wanderings over the last 40 years or so, I joined and stayed because of a good Sunday School class, and not the preaching”

    It is funny that mostt people I talk to who are very upset with the direction of their church will not leave because they love their Sunday School class! I hear this all the time. Many do not even attend the service. Just Sunday School.

  78. Social justice is a contrast with the criminal justice system. The idea is to meet the needs of those who are incapable of helping themselves, and to help, where possible, children to escape poverty by growing into productive members of society. ‘Occasionally, it involves helping families solve problems that are disruptive and which can cause children to fail. Every once in a while, it involves paying a month’s rent or utilities for a family that we have been working with and that is experiencing unemployment and helping them identify resources for finding jobs, which it seems, we do fairly well at our church.”

    I have never heard it described this way. In practice, the churches here that preach social justice are in the news a lot protesting any cut in government programs or chastizing any elected officials who dare talk reform in the papers and letters to the editors. They are very political. They are also constantly advocating for lighter sentences for violent criminals.

  79. “BTW, from Constantine to today, with the exception of the United States, there has been a state church or state favored religious organization in nearly every country in the world. Even in Soviet days, the Russian Orthodox church was tolerated and all others were not.”

    There is a reason the Cathedrals all over Europe are for the most part tourist attractions now. In Germany, the Lutheran church is a joke. (One German family who attends told me they pay their “tithe” to the state who then gives a portion to the church). A good friend who emigrated here in the 90’s from Moscow gave me a run down of how the Russian Orthodox church operated in the USSR and it was totally subservient to the state. She said it was mostly attended by very old grandmothers. In other words, she said it’s message was never a threat to the state god.

    So, to try and paint a picture that church/state entertwinment did not affect belief is a bit disingenuous. It was not entertwined in the 1st to 3rd Century and it was quite vibrant. The Ana Baptist were outlawed during the Reformation days and they had the most vibrant faith of all as they hid in caves and moved from place to place because they were breaking the law by re baptizing adults. Reading about them makes Calvin look like the tyrant he was.

    In the U.S., some states still practiced de jure favoritism to a single church body (denomination) as late as the Civil War. Keep in mind that the extension of the bill of rights to the states did not occur until after the Civil War, so that many states had laws or constitutions that favored a particular denomination. Now all we have are de facto favoritism, such as is practiced in much of the rural and small town South, including passing out Bibles and tracts at public schools, prayer time in classrooms, etc.

  80. oops, forgot the cut off the last paragraph…but it made me think of Dearborn, Michigan and the favoritism that happened there last year at the ARab Festival when the Muslims (some were security) forced the Christians who were passing out tracts to leave.

  81. The issue in Dearborn was that the event was a closed event unless one paid for a booth. The passing out of any brochures without prior registration and payment of a fee was against the rules and the rights of the organizers. When Christians refuse to accommodate the the rules that apply to everyone else, they display an arrogance that is unbecoming and suffer consequences like anyone else behaving that way would.

  82. Not to get into an argument, but there are many Arab Christians in Dearborn and the greater Detroit area. A lot of them are recent immigrants, but by no means all – I think there is a tendency to misrepresent the reality of religious pluralism in the Arab American community as a whole…

    Some of the historic (ancient!) churches that Arab Americans belong to: Maronite Catholic (predominantly Lebanese); Byzantine Catholic; Syriac Orthodox; Coptic (primarily Egyptian); various other orthodox churches; the Roman Catholic church… and some Protestant churches as well.

  83. Lin.

    I am very tired of your assuming things about me. I reported what the legal media have been saying about the event, which usually is down the middle. I am aware of the large number of Arab Christians in much of the country.

    I do not defend Muslims. What I do is argue for truth and not bias, and a whole lot of fundegelicals instantly jump to dis Muslims in any situation, much as you did, and that is counter productive in reaching Muslims for Christ.

    Quit posting LIES about me with a little wiggle. It is a tactic that would make Joe McCarthy proud.

  84. Lin,
    Thanks for setting the record straight on what happened in Dearborn. The video and legal record makes it plan that these Christians were harrassed and persecuted without having violated the law for simply sharing their faith in a peaceful and respectful manner.

  85. I have a sneaking suspicion that walking into a festival in an Arab American community that is largely Christian already and proselytizing might not be the smartest idea. 😉

  86. “I have a sneaking suspicion that walking into a festival in an Arab American community that is largely Christian already and proselytizing might not be the smartest idea.”

    How sad such thinking is. Perhaps you should tell the Christians in prison in China they were not very smart to proselytize in their unfriendly environment.

    Would you give your source for saying the Arab Fesitval was largely Christian?

  87. Numo, Most of us are aware that not all Arabs are Muslims. Thanks. But it seems you are only trying to interject a red herring.

  88. “Thanks for setting the record straight on what happened in Dearborn. The video and legal record makes it plan that these Christians were harrassed and persecuted without having violated the law for simply sharing their faith in a peaceful and respectful manner”

    As many will find if they look closely into this whole matter concerning witnessing to Muslims the biggest problem are the shallow liberal Christians! What many who have not spent time with this culture are not aware of is that Muslims “respect” those who are bold about their faith. (Numo, I did NOT say mean…so please do not go there)

    If you are willing to play by their ridiculous rules (at Dearborn tht meant trashing the Constitution) they think you are a weak chump.

    I can promise you that those young men and women witnessing made an impression on some of them even if they did not show it.

    They actually disdain the mealy mouthed, ‘if you like me you will like my Jesus types’ and use them as a front. Jay Smith, a Christian Islamic Scholar in London, figured this out long ago. We would be wise to be more like Paul at Mars Hill when it comes to witnessing toMuslims.

  89. Dee, sorry just got back to the site. In answer to your question regarding why Piper is buddying up to Rick Warren, that’s a good question. It appears that a desire to pull all religions into one global entity underlies some of the networking we’re seeing.

    Caryl Matrisciana produced a 4-hour long DVD called Wide is the Gate: The Emerging New Christianity which I’m going to order. You can get a glimpse of how she’s tying all the threads together by scrolling down to the two Sept. 17th broadcasts. I think she’s onto something.

    http://www.olivetreeviews.org/radio/mp3/

  90. The Arab American community in the greater Detroit area is largely Christian.

    Perhaps Google could be of assistance? 😉

  91. Junkster

    I would agree with this statement. “Legalistic, authoritarian churches rob people of the joy of their faith and often end of damaging and destroying that faith. The same damage happens to people’s faith when governments, under the authority of law via taxation, implement social programs and redistribute wealth.”

    Here is my struggle. How do we deal with poverty? There are two responses, one by the government and one by the churches. So, let’s look at the 1950s. Many churches encouraged racism, believing in the separation of blacks and whites. The government reflected these values, creating two systems: an inferior school system for black and a better one for white. There was terrible poverty and going hungry was a fact of life for many. Then, the 1960s happened. Now, people of races were brought together in the same schools and colleges were forced to look at their admissions policies to account for few nonwhite.

    But ,the pendulum swung too far i the opposite direction, resulting in many children being born to unwed mothers and living in tough circumstances that tend to perpetuate the cycle. I worked as a public health nurse in these tough areas and was stymied about how to fix the problems.

    So, here is the eternally debated problem. How to fix it?

  92. Junkster

    My husband and I have been members of small groups for over 30 years . We have enjoyed the discussion and have used the groups for joint ministry and support to the members. We had two friends die of cancer in our group. We have seen people lose their jobs and struggle to survive. We have studied the Bible together and grown. The purpose of these groups were mutual growth and support. Having kids present would interfere with the growth of the parents. Parents need age appropriate discussion as well.

    You know what I think? I think that many people are so insecure in the relationship with God that they need to make a big deal out of these secondary issues in order to feel like God will think they are really, really “good” Christians. They claim grace but embrace legalism.

    On another note: Where is Peter?

  93. Arce and Lin

    One of the strongest small groups I was in was a Sunday School class. We had to leave the church due to profound disagreements with the church. There were quite a few in that class who came to the class but had given up on the church. Our class encouraged involvement in the church but at least they came to the class.

  94. Lin
    Thank you fro bringing up the persecution of the AnaBaptists by Calvin. That fact drives many Calvinistas nuts. They go into full-time mode defending the indefensible. BTW-same goes for Roger Williams and the Puritans (who Calvinistas love only secondarily to Calvin).

  95. Ted
    I will be writing about Warren on Friday. also, fyi-Rob Bell just resigned as pastor. I’m looking into the reason.

  96. Look forward to it, Dee.

    “Rob Bell just resigned as pastor.”

    Guess his hell on earth got too hot.

  97. Hats off to you! And since you said you appreciate reader contributions, I’ll do my part. I want to know why Rick Warren invited Dr. Amen, a tantric sex teacher, to speak at his church and why none of this bothers John Piper.

    http://apprising.org/2010/03/31/latest-details-on-rick-warren-speaking-at-john-pipers-desiring-god-2010/

    http://www.cicministry.org

    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/?category_name=rick-warren

    http://worldviewweekend.com/worldview-times/article.php?articleid=6820

  98. Pingback: What Are Family Integrated Churches?/ NCFIC, Vision Forum, and the Bottom Line ~ The Wartburg Watch « The Reformed Traveler UNITED STATES

  99. Dee said: So, here is the eternally debated problem. How to fix it?

    The debate will go on, but I am confident of this — what we’ve been doing for the last 50 years or so hasn’t worked.

    And Peter — the Observer interfered in Walternate’s experiment to cure Peter, then Walter brought Peter to this world to save him, but Walter and Peter fell through the ice and almost drowned, and the Observer interfered again and saved Peter. All this messed up the timelines in both universes, but the device that Peter used to create the bridge between worlds “corrected” the timelines, resulting in Peter having died by drowning after all.

    But it looks like he is somehow being pulled back into existence — by his connection to Olivia and/or Walter, perhaps?

  100. Junkster
    Thanks for the update. i was a bit confused as to why Peter was still showing up besides the simple observation that he is being paid to act this year.

    As for it having worked, i am becoming less and less enamored of politics. You are looking at a woman who led a local Republican women’s group, campaigned and helped a Republican get elected on the Navajo Indian Reservation ( a major surprise along with many other campaigns I have participated in giving many, many hours of time, sealing envelopes, calling, setting up meet and greets), donated money and met Mike Huckabee, my family has met Mitt Romney, etc. But somehow, I now find it all rather tiring.

    I have come to the conclusion that man is fallen and so are his politics. Instead, I am spending time volunteering with the down and out. I believe that people can be redeemed. I used to believe the system could be redeemed but am now quite cynical. Maybe its my age. However, I do still get a little buzz when a guy like Herman Cain, who was thought to be totally non-influential, wins a straw poll. It is meaningless in the big picture, I know, but i still am amused by it.

  101. “The Arab American community in the greater Detroit area is largely Christian.”

    Sorry, but you inserted a red herring into the discussion for a reason. I was discussing the Dearborn Arab Festival which should be renamed the Muslim Festival. Perhaps you should read outside your liberal media. It is a good thing to read both sides on all issues. What happened to the Christians witnessing at the Festival should concern all Americans who revere their Constitutional rights. It was NOT a closed Festival.

  102. Lin,
    At times you are only a bit less of a nuisance than the people who went to Dearborn for the explicit purpose of stirring something up. They are activists who seek to disrupt the proceedings and succeeded in getting themselves into trouble. It was totally unnecessary and totally counterproductive. Reminds me of Caner.

  103. Dee, Most of us are sick of politics. I certainly hope that does not mean they are sick of our Constitutional rights. As one cop told those jailed for witnessing…they know that Sharia law has been imposed on one woman in Dearborn by her family. We know this is happening all over Europe, too. So, when the police force, for the most part, is sympathetic to Sharia carried out in a community and others fear to speak up because they are accused of hating Muslims, we have a serious problem.

    It harkens back to the days when domestic violence was considered a private matter in the family. If we care about women as egals, we cannot ignore such things happening in our own country simply because we want to be seen as “loving” Muslims. One can love a person while being totally against what they do and calling them out on it.

  104. Lin
    I’m never tire of reading about our Constitutional Rights and am gratified when people stand up for what they believe in. I love to visit Washington DC.We are about 3 1/2 hours away. I am currently trying to convince my husband to take me up there for a Segway tour,

    In the end, our government protects us but does not save us. As I age, I tend to focus more and more on the faith end of things. It’s funny but, in the areas in which Christianity is persecuted (Rome+nascent church, China, the old Soviet Union) the church grows by leaps and bounds. Could it be that our focus on the American dream has made us all soft on the faith. It is something “nice” and the politicians play to our sentiments. Even as a new Christian up north where I knew few Christians, those who were faithful were out there evangelizing and sharing despite the smirks.

    I just pray that our softness and nod to the faith does not lead us down the path to “nice” religion.

  105. Dee,
    I agree about not seeking answers in politics. Which is exactly why I am oppsed to the social policies of political liberals.

  106. What happened to the Christians who attempted to share their faith at the Dearborn Muslim festival is outrageous, and anyone concerned about our constitional rights would not make excuses for it. The left-wing political correctness of some commenters on ths blog is nauseating.

  107. I have studied constitutional law and have represented Christians when it was clear that their rights were being abused. Even while in law school, I challenged and changed a local school district policy that did not allow Christian students to write and speak about their faith in appropriate contexts, including English class writing assignments, “Meet me at the Pole”, etc.

    There are some “Christians” who seem intent on causing confrontation. That is not effective evangelism, any more than the JWs who used to show up at my door, until I began meeting them at the door with my Bible. The group that went to Dearborn are of that ilk. Intent on seeking confrontation and causing trouble, they got what they went there to get. Their antics are counterproductive and stupid.

    If a Christian witness to Muslims is to be effective, it needs to start with respect. There are Arab Christians in the Detroit area who could be developing relationships with the Arab community in Dearborn and become a part of the Arab festival there, and could make an effective witness.

    And Arce is not pronounced as “arse”. And Junkster, you jump on the side of these stupid, confrontational Christians in knee-jerk fashion, with the emphasis on jerk.

  108. ” have studied constitutional law and have represented Christians when it was clear that their rights were being abused. ”

    Just as some seminarians study theology and come away as Patriarchs some study constitutional law and come away as liberals selling social justice. (The social being more government)

    I do hope those reading will check out the VIDEO of what happened at Dearborn and see for themselves. Seems there is some disagreement on what constitutes “confrontation”. Seems ARce thinks answering questions is confrontational and unconstitutional if it is about Christianity around Muslims. If you watch ALL the videos, you will get hear the otherside and not the lies and propaganda of the Dearborn government.

    http://www.answeringmuslims.com/p/dearborn.html

    If Arce is going to interject his brand of social justice (which is more government) into threads and numo is going to interject red herrings, I hope for balance we can hear the other side.

  109. The video may or may not have been doctored. But that does not matter. The whole approach to the matter is wrong, counterproductive and guaranteed to turn off the prospective converts they were seeking to engage. They went loaded for confrontation and that’s what happened. That kind of “evangelism” is of the lowest likelihood of having any success and is more likely to permanently turn people off to Christians and Christianity.

    If you set out to prove that Christians are discriminated against in this country, and confront people on that basis, guess what, you can created that.

    I have had people from the Middle East in my home, both Muslims and Christians. Most were students who needed a place to stay over the Christmas holidays when the campus dorms were closed. A couple of them expressed amazement that they were not continually confronted while in the home of Christians, because that’s what they thought that’s what all Christians do. Instead, they received a warm welcome, came to understand something about Christian hospitality and inquired about our faith, so we had an opportunity to share our beliefs about Jesus and learn their understanding of Jesus (Issa to a Muslim) as a basis for further conversation.

  110. I was not the one injecting Lin — YOU DID. And please quit calling me names.

    And my brand of social justice does not mean more government, but it does mean the Christians have to be active in their community, helping people in need. When they come to my door, they are fed and the gospel is shared. And I chose to live in a poor neighborhood with a high crime rate. We volunteer in the local elementary school, do Meals on Wheels, transport disabled neighbors to the clinic and grocery, and provide professional services for free or at a deep discount to help people when that is necessary; sometimes it involves clearing up a misunderstanding by a government office, as in getting an elderly woman the proper social security amount so she could pay the rent and utilities on her apartment.

  111. To commenters:
    I am back from reading to some profoundly handicapped children who are in a residential situation. I learned something from two of them. They are so severely affected that they need maximum assistance to even survive. Many cannot even respond to verbal cues. Yet, two of them gave me the biggest smiles I have ever seen. i almost starting crying. How is it possible to smile through that? In these smiles I see the image of God who gives them joy in the midst of terrible trials.

    That is what I hope for all of us whose lives are so much easier. Can we smile and love one another even though we often times have trouble understanding and communicating with one another?

    There is no place for names, ever! I cannot bear to hear Christians accusing other Christians of sounding like Hitler. Hitler attempted to exterminate the Jewish people, and even some Christians who hid the Jewish people. As a teenager I stood in the gas chamber at Auschwitz as the tour guide closed the door. A friend fainted and I started crying. I saw blankets made of human hair and lamp shades made of human skin. I saw pictures of the mass graves and watched films of the emaciated prisoners at the gates when the Allies came.

    Please stop this-I cannot bear it. It brings back very difficult memories for me.

  112. Dee wrote:

    I am back from reading to some profoundly handicapped children who are in a residential situation. I learned something from two of them. They are so severely affected that they need maximum assistance to even survive. Many cannot even respond to verbal cues. Yet, two of them gave me the biggest smiles I have ever seen. i almost starting crying. How is it possible to smile through that? In these smiles I see the image of God who gives them joy in the midst of terrible trials.

    Thank you for this, Dee.

  113. Dee, Arce said I reminded him of Caner…who is a pathological liar. I suppose that gets to stand? Because Arce said it?

    Today, I took 2 mentally disabled young adults to volunteer in a hospital so they can feel useful in society. I do this every Tue. They are full of love and promise. it never occurs to me to mention this on blogs except for here. But I feel dirty as if I just violated matthew 6!

  114. Dee,
    Did you remove my comment? Your blog, your rules. But there is no getting around the hypocritical double standard here.

    I used intentionally inflammatory language mirroring that which Arce used to make the point that Arce’s personal insult against Lin was uncalled for. And not only do you remove my comment and chastise me for having the audacity to make it, you don’t say a word about his insult that I was responding to.

    Arce,
    It was my intent to shock you into seeing the inappropriateness of your remarks, not to offend you. You can call me a jerk in response; I have been called worse, and, if fact I am much worse. I disagree with you rather often, but that in itself doesn’t bother me; I have some good friends whose views are far more different from mine than yours. It does bother me when you insult my friend just because they disagree with you, and it bothers me even more that Dee gives you greater leeway than others. But that isn’t your fault.

    You haven’t indicated that you were offended, and it seems to me that you enjoy arguing, so I didn’t think you would be upset. But if you were, I apologize. I ought to know better than to try to make a point about insults by stooping to the same level.

  115. Deb,

    I do not know how long Scott Brown was at North Wake. He had already gone off to start Trinity by the time we started worshiping there in December of 2002.

  116. I would agree with respect and authentic friendship as foundations to Muslims. I have a dear friend who is from Iraq.

    We discuss issues openly and there is an unspoken rule not to try to convert the other. She knows so much more about Christianity than I do Islam.

    At the very least, I have a friend I love, what I hope is that we could at the very least respect one another and create an environment for peace and reconciliation.

  117. My remark referencing Caner had nothing to do with his prevarication but with his absolutely counterproductive approach to Muslims. Jumping out against anyone or anything that tries to be the least bit fair to Muslims in this country, and jumping onto the side of anyone who is targeting Muslims. My remark regarding Junkster was to the strength of the reaction and the need to tamper it down. My intent in both instances was to allow two interpretations, and you proved my point by your reaction. You jump to a predetermined, by your own earlier choices, position that may or may not be aligned with the facts, but with your prejudices. I apologize for giving both of you the opportunity to over-react and display your prejudices.

    Following in the footsteps of Jesus is hard, and everyone of us will fail at it, no matter how hard we try. But it is counter-productive to stir conflict between Christians and Muslims.

  118. Unfortunately, movements hijack words and phrases. The NCFIC is not representative of all churches who desire their children to be part of worship and vice-versa. My family attends a church that desires and encourages parents to include children to be part of worship but would not preach things like you have mentioned here from the pulpit. The reason we choose to attend here is not because of its inclusive worship style but because it preaches the Gospel; period! Having our four children (ages 2,5,12,14) with us in worship is a great blessing.

  119. @ DB: what you are describing is something I have experienced, too – with quite a few people (of varying religious beliefs) from the Middle East.

    In fact… a number of Arab Muslims that I have known have been among the most encouraging and open-hearted people I have met, ever. And by “encouraging,” I’m including their feelings and attitudes about my beliefs. One friend felt that a Roman Catholic priest that she met via chemo treatment (he was scheduled when she was, usually) was critical to her attitude and recovery, re. what they talked about… and – I am not 100% sure of this – might have prayed about.

    There is an unfortunate tendency to mischaracterize all Muslims as rabid Islamists. It is not a true picture – but if you [plural] never meet and make friends with people from Muslim countries, the stereotype will probably stick in your [plural] mind. One Sudanese Christian woman that I met was adamant in stating that she wanted Americans to understand that at home (in Khartoum), Muslims and Christians were neighbors and friends – and, sometimes, family as well. There are many Muslim/predominantly Muslim countries that are NOT home to extremists, though (very sadly) that is changing… Mali, Senegal, Guinea, the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau are several (all in West Africa).

  120. Junkster and Lin

    I had a full day yesterday and am dealing with a health issue to boot. I started to read the comments and did not do so sequentially. It looks different in our dashboard than on the blog that you see.
    1. I spoke about the kids, not to toot my own horn, but to show how such profoundly limited and hurting humans can show joy in the midst of terrible trials and a life that, for most, would seem unendurable. I felt it was a good lesson for all of us and I failed miserably at my attempt.
    2. I saw the Hitler accusation which jumped out at me. Perhaps it is my history. Perhaps it is the number of people who are calling Tea Party members Nazis. Perhaps it is the loose accusations about the other political party (whichever) being like Hitler.I was tired and it struck me hard. Hitler was the worst monster, along with the likes of Pol Pot and others, this world has ever seen.
    3.I had to leave immediately to meet some friends who were in town from Norway and I was already late.
    4.Last night, due to my health problem, I was up most of the night. During that time, I decided that we needed to set up a new policy on the blog-one we have avoided for 2 1/2 years. We will flesh it out today and put it on the blog for all to read.
    5.I have removed the Ergun Caner comment as well.
    6.I do not want to sit around weighing the relative damage of each name. (Is calling someone a Barbie the same as calling them Morgan Freeman?). So, a new policy will be developed.
    7 As for me being a hypocrite, yep, at times I am. I struggle with authenticity and self preservation every day of the week. Writing a blog only magnifies it. I put myself out into the world and get lots of feedback as to my opinions and my various traits as they are perceived by others. One thing I vowed to do when I started this blog was to be willing to take the hits and, even harder, evaluate the hits for truth, something that I naturally would like to ignore.
    8.Finally, we will make decisions on this blog that may seem strange or not in keeping with fairness. Believe me, the two of us discuss this stuff and agonize over doing the right thing. But, know this, we pray for you guys and you mean lots to us, more than you can imagine.

  121. Arce,
    Your prejudice is of a more insidious nature, as it is that of the typical left-wing political correctness that places how things appear over the way they are. What you’ve proven about yourself is as bad as anything Lin or I have about ourselves — we’ve shown that we aren’t always nice; you’ve shown that your ideology isn’t aligned with reality.

    Yes, it is not always easy to walk as Jesus did (impossible for sinners, actually. But denying genuine persecution by Muslim extremists of Christians seeking to be faithful to Christ’s will just to appear “fair minded” is anything but.

  122. Dee,
    Sorry for your personal troubles; I hope things get better and you feel better soon. You can, and should, set whatever rules you feel are appropriate to maintaining the kind of discourse you prefer.

    I generally don’t bring up my negative church experiences because I prefer to focus on the issues being discussed in the blog posts and comments than on my own personal issues, but I will confess that, due to my experiences with churches and church leaders over the past decade, I have been discouraged and disillusioned, and haven’t been a regular church participant in many months now. So I have enjoyed being part of the discussions here at TWW. The stimulation and opportunity to freely and openly exchange thoughts, including differences of opinion, to encourage and challenge others, and to be encouraged and challenged by them may be the closest thing I have in my life these days to what I think church should be about.

    I have experienced more than enough heavy-handed authoritarianism, personal favoritism, and emotional manipulation in churches. As TWW has well pointed out, these things are damaging to a person’s faith, and I am no exception. But perhaps I need to just accept that such is the way things are in any collection of Christians, including those here at TWW. I’m not sure whether to thank you for that realization, or cry. I’ll probably do both.

  123. Junkster

    You know absolutely NOTHING about my ideology! My political ideology is based in my Christian faith, which is based in the Bible, plain and simple. It is to share the love of the Christ who died on a cross with the people for whom he died, and to try to live a life worthy of the calling he has placed on me.

    You and Lin have decided I am something that I am not, and keep calling me names and insinuating falsehoods about me.

    Please stop. You are not behaving as a Christian when you do that.

  124. Junkster

    Please explain how we are involved in heavy-handed authoritarianism and emotional manipulation. I am truly confused. I understand your opinion on personal favoritism. Perhaps our explanation of some underlying motivations on our part will help you to understand. I hope to have that brushed up and on the blog in the next day or so. Suffice to say for now, it is not dissimilar to Rush Limbaugh seeking to dialogue with those different than himself.

    As for personal favoritism, Junkster, perhaps you do not realize this, but you have been a personal favorite of ours for years. You have no idea how much we laugh over your humor and discuss your thoughts. We have even asked you to tell your story or write a post. That still stands. Perhaps it is the medium of the blog that does not allow us full expression of this, especially the type of blog we are attempting to create. We care about you and think about you often (and if you say this is emotional manipulation, I will kick a wall).

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  126. Dee,
    Sorry for the delay in responding — it was a busy week.

    I can understand that you would not view your actions as authoritarianism — just as I’m sure that Mac Brunson, Steve Gaines, and the neo-Calvinists you write about would not think they are being authoritarian. When you’re the one in power making the decisions about what others can and can’t or should or shouldn’t say or do, it’s easy to consider your own position and actions perfectly reasonable.

    I’ve read your new blog rules, and they seem pretty much the same, as far as controlling what others get to say or not, as the kinds of rules mega-church pastors like to set forth. Do you suppose that Brunson and his cronies would agree that they was being authoritarian by attempting to shut down what FBC Watchdog was saying? I’m pretty confident they would feel their actions were justified in light of their own judgment and feelings about what the Watchdog was saying.

    Emotional manipulation can also be difficult to see in one’s own actions, and may not always be intentional. When I disagree with someone and they respond with remarks about their desire to be compassionate, that sounds to me like I’m being told I’m not as compassionate as I should be. No one likes being made to feel that their emotional responses aren’t what they should be.

    I’m glad that you have enjoyed my comments, but having favorite commentors isn’t the same thing as favoritism. I’m referring to the tendency to be harsher with folks who agree with your basic view of scripture and Christian doctrine but whom you see as being too rigid or elevating secondary doctrines to primary importance than you are with those who claim to be Christians but deny or call into question primary doctrines.

    I believe that the reason some folks see you as left-leaning is because you have strong words of criticism of the errors of those with conservative theology, but you rarely confront or attempt to correct the not-so-conservative theology of some of your frequent commenters. I don’t see why it is important to demonstrate the errors of some persons or groups but treat others with kid gloves. It comes across as looking the other way on some errors just because the ones making them happen to be your personal friends.

    These are my opinions, and I don’t expect you to be converted to my way of seeing things. As I said, your blog, your rules. And you even get to decide when you will will be inconsistent in your use of that authority. But I don’t have to like it or the results of it. Nor do you have to like how I feel about it. We can still care for one another and try to show each other respect even when we disagree.

  127. Arce,
    Hello, Pot, nice to meet you; my name is Kettle. I probably don’t behave as a Christian nearly often enough in how I communicate with others. I also don’t feel it is very Christian behavior when someone calls orthodoxy doctrines “heresy”, or denigrates conservative political positions, or judges the motives of other Christians attempting to share their faith and defend their constitutional rights. But maybe that’s just me.

    Your progressive political ideology is a matter of considerable record in the comments on the blog, so I don’t see why you would think I know nothing about it. I understand that you, like many liberals, consider your politics an outgrowth of your Christian beliefs. But perhaps you should consider that conservative Christians may feel the same about the relationship between their beliefs and their politics. My views on personal responsibility, individual liberty, and limited, constitutionally defined powers of government are all a result of my understanding of the Bible and how God relates to us. My belief in separation of church and state also comes from my understanding of Scripture, and along with that my firm belief that government has no appropriate role in “social justice”.

    If I am insinuating falsehoods by taking your words at face value, you are free to set the record straight. But you’re no more likely to convince me that your political or theological views are correct than I am to convince you of mine, so why bother? Why not just accept that we disagree, and that when you say something I think is wrong, or someone like Lin thinks is wrong, we are within our rights to state our disagreement? Why make it personal and insulting?

  128. Yep, So please don’t. I did not make it personal or insulting. You did, as did Lin. I merely gave you the opportunity to take my remarks one of two ways, one absolutely innocent and the other otherwise. You chose and felt insulted. So you insulted yourself, as did Lin similarly.

    Absolute individual double predestinarianism is a willful misinterpretation of the scripture and is a heresy. That is the hyperCalvinist position. It is a heresy because it contradicts the words of Jesus. It makes God an Ogre who decided before creating them, that regardless of their actions, some people would be created for the purpose of eternal fire in hell. There are other interpretations that accommodate the scriptures that use the word predestined, but that retain the full sovereignty, justice, mercy and love of God for all of humanity. Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will will be done on earth, and also taught that God responds to prayer, both of which contradict the scripting of all events prior to creation, which is also a hyperCalvinist position. Since it contradicts the teachings of Jesus, it must be a heresy.

  129. One of the reasons I like this blog is: the comment section is for open discussion, not attacking other commenters and refuting their points of view.

    At least, I think that’s what Dee and Deb want here, and it’s one of the reasons I feel comfortable (for the most part) commenting here.

    The thing is… sometimes things escalate into (in my opinion) unwarranted attacks on others and their views.

    Junkster: I don’t think Dee or Deb are under any kind of obligation to “refute” the views of those with whom they disagree (speaking of commenters, not of Dee and Deb’s posts).

    I think a little common sense – and politeness in discussion – go a long, long way toward helping us step past our own personal prejudices to see where others are coming from, regardless of whether we agree with them or not. I don’t think anyone here has to agree with anyone else – nor do I think any single person here (very much including myself!) has THE inside line to God and the Gospel.

    As for the right of whoever hosts/runs/writes a blog to redact comments – it’s their blog, right? If you [plural] have your own blog, you might be faced with dilemmas, too – especially when the subject matter of posts is such that people tend to get into passionate discussions, even arguments.

    I think that’s unavoidable when discussing religion (passionate discussion), since it hits most everyone so close to home. But there is a huge difference between listening to someone with whom one disagrees and feeling like they have to be confronted – even told to stop talking, called names, etc.

    Please, let’s look at the bigger picture, OK?

  130. I’m also wondering if, instead of jumping on something/someone that we believe to be wrong, we could instead ask questions of them – like “Why do you see that as heretical?”

    It’s a good way to learn about – and from – others.

    What bothers me about some recent comments is the hostility and intolerance. (There, I said it.) An overall unwillingness to tolerate the views of others unless they square with one’s own.

    Where in the wide world are any of us going to find that? Differences and conflicts are givens in this life, but can we please act toward one another with love and a willingness to at least listen for a few minutes, instead of jumping down each others’ throats because we disagree?

    It would make life a lot easier for our wonderful, glamorous blog queens, for a start… 🙂

  131. Junkster, Arce, and everyone else.

    TIME OUT.

    Let’s all quit talking about each other and discuss the post and the points brought up in the posts and comments. Or quit taking.

    Everyone take a deep breath, count to 10, etc…

  132. Junkster
    I am sorry that you see me in the same light as Mac Brunson. I guess I have not done a good job of communicating my hopes for this blog. At least you will not have to worry about me outing anyone.

    I also want to assure you that when I speak about being compassionate, I am speaking for myself and myself alone. It is never meant as a dig at anyone else. I can only speak for myself. I do not speak thusly in order to put myself out there as a role model. The Lord knows that I have many, many faults.

    When I speak about things like compassion, it is usually about something i learning about. For example, the severely handicapped children who are able to smile in the midst of unimaginable difficulties. I see in them something i must learn to do and that is find joy in the midst of terrible trials.. I am seeking the Imago Dei in the lives of these kids and I am sharing with the readers my process of discovery. This has nothing to do with my judgement of anyone else. I would assume that many of my readers have done many more and greater things to help others in the service of God. I, for one, would love to hear about those things.

    Since i write this blog, i share these things with all of you because i believe that God wants me to write about these things.This blog is a compilation of my thoughts and experiences. If you had told me that 5 years ago, i would be writing a blog, I would have laughed and said that was the furthest thing from my mind. Yet here I am.

    You are, and have been, one of my favorite commenters. And I value your input even when you are not happy with me.

  133. GBTC,
    Your comments are the very form of heavy handed authoritarianism I am referring to. This blog has a long standing practice of letting conversations go where they may — but apparently the powers that be now only consider that acceptable when they and their pet posters are not being challenged or made to feel uncomfortable.

    This blog is going to become rather dull if conversations are restricted from commenting on comments made by previous commenters, or if people are instructed not to disagree with others or defend themselves or their positions when they have been misrepresented. If you guys really want to take that kind of stance, more power to you, but I’m not interested in that sort of stifling atmosphere.

    Wouldn’t you think it better for people in conflict to continue to communicate to try to achieve better mutual understanding, rather than being yelled at? It isn’t as if this thread still has people commenting on the main topic and we are sidetracking them. Those still interested in the FIC discussions have doubtless moved on to subsequent threads.

    Believe it or not, I am not the least bit angry. I am simply being direct in expressing my opinions. If someone can call me a heretic without a word being said about it, it seems appropriate to me for me to be allowed to comment on the opinions they have expressed.

  134. Numo,
    If you’ve read my comments, you’ve probably noticed that I prefer not to argue with another person’s point of view — I simply state my own and state when I disagree with theirs. But there can’t be much of a discussion without some differences of opinion and nuances of thought coming through, can there?

    I completely agree that things can escalate into unwarranted attacks. And Arce’s protestations otherwise, he made an intentionally snide and personally denigrating remark toward Lin (apparently the blog hosts agree with that assessment since they deleted it). I admit I responded in kind, but only with the intent of making it clear what Arce had done by way of the extreme. I even offered Arce an apology if he was offended, and he indicated he wasn’t — but Lin indicated she was, and I’ve seen no attempt by Arce to do anything but defend his indefensible acts.

    Why do you think it is acceptable for one person to call something “heresy” but unacceptable for another to respond by saying “no it isn’t, and it isn’t appropriate for you to say it is”? Wouldn’t it be better for the first person to avoid using the inflammatory, and factually incorrect, word to begin with? You didn’t chose to say that it would be better for the first person to say “How do you square your belief with such and such view or Scripture?”; instead, you chose to criticism my way of responding to being called a heretic. Your idea of tolerance seems selective. The hostility you see here is a result of the intolerance of some toward conservative opinions.

    And I’ve already violated GBTC latest edict, so I’d better stop there.

  135. Junkster – I would rather stay out of this, OK?

    And counting to 10, taking a chill pill or break, etc. is a good idea, imo. 🙂

  136. Arce,
    You insulted Lin. You know you did, because she said she felt insulted. And now you are arguing with me because you like to win arguments. I’m sure that trait makes you a good lawyer. But some of the things that make people good lawyers are things that cause so many jokes about lawyers not being in heaven. I’m sure you’re aware of this.

    You are wrong about what constitutes heresy. I have no desire to defend Calvinism, nor to explain to you the difference between double predestination and hyper-Calvinism. You’ve made it clear that your mind is made up, and not in any way open in the matter. And to me it is a secondary matter, but you want to elevate it to a primary one by calling it heresy. If you can make the false claim that it is heresy, I can assert that you are incorrect and also that I think it’s wrong for you to be allowed to do so without correction. Until I get deleted or banned or whatever.

  137. dee on Sat, Oct 01 2011 at 10:13 pm
    Junkster
    I am sorry that you see me in the same light as Mac Brunson.

    That is not the case. I said that Brunson likely felt justified in his actions toward Watchdog’s comments, just as you feel justified in yours toward mine. That is not the same as seeing you “in the same light”, which implies that I do not have a high opinion of you personally (since you’ve made known your opinion about him).

    Are you in agreement with GTBC command that I stop talking to people about what I disagree with them about and that we must only discuss the original topic? I can see it would be inappropriate for someone to suddenly interject an unrelated statement out of nowhere, but when once comment leads to another to another, conversations can meander a bit. That’s how it is around the table at my house, anyway.

  138. Numo,
    Didn’t mean to drag you in — was just responding to your comments about my comments. I’m perfectly calm. People can disagree, even passionately, and not be angry. Conflict isn’t always a bad thing; it can drive us to the truth. Expecting others to always say things “just so” so that no one has the potential to be unhappy with what was said or how it was said it a bit unrealistic. No response necessary.

  139. Junkster
    I am away visiting my son and have to make a long road trip today. I get what you are saying.
    -I am authoritarian, not unlike Mac Brunson
    -I am emotionally manipulative
    -I show favoritism

    Deb, GBTC and I are not monolithic although we agree on lots of things. Each of us has the freedom to state our opinions. He is stating his thoughts and my guess is, if he thinks that way, others do as well.

    This conversation has become very personal. That is not the intent of this blog. Such conversations leaves out everybody else out who do not have a dog in this hunt. This particular blog post is about FIC.

    I want to take this offline. If you wish, I can share emails for those wanting to continue this discussion. Please feel free to continue this conversation via emails. I will answer you. Promise.But I will be out of contact until tonight. In other words, let’s take this around the kitchen table and not over the blog.

    I outlined what I think you are saying at the start of this comment so people do not think I am running away from your comments. I am not. I just don’t think this conversation should continue in public view.

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