Mark Dever / 9 Marks Edict – You Cannot Resign w/o “Permission”

"Just as freedom to worship is protected by the First Amendment, so also is the liberty to recede from one’s religious allegiance."

Guinn, 775 P.2d at 776

Statue of Liberty

It is hard to fathom in the land of the free and the home of the brave that CHURCHES ARE IGNORING THE LAW OF THE LAND in order to impose their will on members (and in some cases, regular attendees). 

Bobby Jamieson, Assistant Editor at 9 Marks, just posted an article entitled:

"Pastors, Don't Let your People Resign Into Thin Air".

Jamieson begins with these words:

"Does your church let people resign into thin air?

A church member simply submits a letter or has a conversation with a pastor, and then poof!—they’re gone. And your church couldn’t say whether the person has joined another evangelical church or dropped off the face of the earth.

My brothers, this should not be. . .

An encouraging number of evangelical churches seem to be regaining meaningful practices of church membership and discipline. But I’m concerned that even some of these churches, however unintentionally, are leaving their back doors wide open."

Doesn't it sound like he's talking about sheep or some other kind of farm animals that must be corralled?  Please take the time to read the entire post.  Truly, it's unbelievable!

Here are Jamieson's practical implications:

"1. The troubler of First Baptist Smallville needs to either reconcile with that church or join another one where he can be more content.

2. Churches’ membership procedures should reflect the fact that the church, not the individual member, has authority to accept and dismiss members.

3. Churches’ governing documents (constitution, by-laws) should reflect the fact that individual members do not have the unilateral right to terminate their membership.

4. The pastoral specifics of how churches handle individual resignations will vary."

Jamieson ends his article — directed at church leaders — as follows:


So pastors, just as you pay careful attention to the front door of your church, keep a close eye on the back door, too. Make sure that the sheep can’t simply open the gate themselves and disappear from sight. Refuse to allow people to resign into thin air, both for the sake of your church’s witness to the gospel and for the good of every single sheep—especially those who tend to wander off."

I hadn't come across Bobby Jamieson's name before, so I did a little investigation.  SBC Voices posted an interview with Jamieson last summer, which included this brief bio:

"Bobby writes new web and print material and helps edit the eJournal. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies, Bobby was a pastoral intern at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He is an MDiv student at Southern Seminary, and he lives with his wife and daughter in Louisville, Kentucky."

For those who might be curious as to how Mark Dever's 9 Marks of a Healthy Church came about, the following is offered at the SBC Voices link provided above:

"At Matt’s (Schmucker) prompting, Mark wrote the self-published booklet “9 Marks of a Healthy Church,” which several years later became the Crossway published book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. As more and more pastors found the conversations begun by Mark and Matt helpful, an organization was birthed in the late nineties, which has grown little by little since then."

Fascinating!  So Dever's 9 Marks started out as a self-published booklet…

Before we move on with this discussion, let's take a look at Mark Dever's associations, particularly those at The Gospel Coalition.  Dever serves as a Council Member along with Mark Driscoll, John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, the newly resigned James MacDonald, and others. 

Here is the first comment in response to this 9 Marks post.  Jaimeson wrote the following, which the commenter highlights:

"Churches’ membership procedures should reflect the fact that the church, not the individual member, has authority to accept and dismiss members. A member cannot unilaterally resign. A member can submit their intention to resign to the church, and the church will either accept or reject that intention."

The commenter stated:

"While I think this is the way it should be, there are practical problems. In the UK, this will not work – by law you cannot refuse the resignation and, I believe, churches have been sued for trying to do so.  Our church has a clause in the rules that people assent to on becoming members to say they will not resign to avoid discipline, but we were advised it may not hold up in law, even though the person agrees to it freely."

Jamieson responded:

"I was not aware of the situation in the UK on that point. Is your church Anglican? Or does that law even extend to dissenting/free churches? Thanks,  Bobby"

Folks, this is scary!  9 Marks is advising pastors regarding church by-laws and governance issues, and the advice they are doling out appears to fly in the face of recent civil litigation.  These guys are so worried about their "kingdoms" eroding that they are willing to take drastic measures, even to the point of being ignorant of the law.

H. Wayne House, a Council Member for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, discusses these matters in his book Christian Ministry and the Law.  On pages 73-74, he highlights the Guinn v. Church of Christ of Collinsville.  This case made its way all the way up to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Guinn.  House (a Juris Doctor) includes portions of the ruling made by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in his book, which are:

"Upon her withdrawal…the church was precluded from sanctioning her as if she were a current member.  By continuing to discipline her as if she were a practicing Church of Christ member, the elders are alleged to have invaded her privacy and caused her emotional distress…Just as freedom to worship is protected by the First Amendment, so also is the liberty to recede from one's religious allegiance…The First Amendment clearly safeguards the freedom to worship and the freedom not to worship." (p. 74)  

Although we are presenting one particular case, there are others which received similar judgments.

These brilliant scholars at 9 Marks could be setting churches up for a fall because if pastors follow their advice they could get their pants sued off of them!  Not only that, 9 Marks may be called to testify in a lawsuit.  Since Jamieson is working toward his M.Div. at Southern Seminary and Dever has been teaching there during the January term, we must ask the question:  What are they teaching at Mohler's seminary these days?!

Wake-up pastors!  This is a very serious matter.  Here is one resource we believe will provide lawful recommendations for how to write your church by-laws. 

The Alliance Defense Fund has published an informative article called Seven Things All Churches Should Have In Their By-Laws, which you can read here.  This is one of those seven things.


Just as the church should have a written policy for terminating membership, it should also have a written policy for how members can disassociate from the church. Indeed, courts have held that church members have a First Amendment right to terminate their membership. Once a member has rescinded her membership, she is no longer consenting to the church’s doctrine. This could limit a church’s legal protection if it is sued for disciplining someone after they have revoked their membership. With a formal revocation policy, it is easy for all parties involved, including the court, to identify when the membership was terminated – otherwise a court will decide on its own."

Leave it to two women, who aren't even "allowed" to read Scripture or pray in some Calvinista churches, to tell men how to run a church properly.   Oh, by the way, the sheep may not be as dumb as the shepherds think they are…  Case in point, we have copied and pasted this 9 Marks article into a Word document just in case it accidentally disappears, which appears to have happened before with certain 9 Marks resources.

Even though we have been focusing on Mark Driscoll (and related issues) in recent posts, rest assured we are still monitoring developments involving Sovereign Grace Ministries.  As we recently pointed out, C.J. Mahaney has been reinstated as President of SGM, albeit for a short "season".  C.J.' s BFF — Dr. "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church" Dever — wholeheartedly endorses his friend and is probably relieved that Mahaney has been restored as captain of the SGM ship.  

Now that the three panels appointed by the SGM Board have ruled in favor of Mahaney's reinstatement, Larry and Doris Tomczak have responded.

Larry and Doris Tomczak's Response to SGM Panels' Reports

The following excerpt from the Tomcak's explosive response ties in with today's post:

"Scripture calls us to “restore” struggling Christians in a “spirit of gentleness” (Gal.6:1). Although most of the leaders have come forward to repent and ask forgiveness for what was done to us (as the report reveals), what needs to be understood are the aspects of betrayal and levels of deceit that forced our departure from a ministry we co-founded and never intended to leave.

“Did you leave without the leaders’ blessing?”

Yes – we believe we had no alternative."


What is it about this video that speaks to us???



Lydia's Corner:    Isaiah 33:10-36:22   Galatians 5:13-26   Psalm 64:1-10   Proverbs 23:23


Mark Dever / 9 Marks Edict – You Cannot Resign w/o “Permission” — 249 Comments

  1. Sergius

    One of these days, I will tell my very own “we’re gone” story. A few silly pastors attempted that one with my husband and me. What are they teaching in seminaries these days???

  2. I was just thinking that the Fellowship of the Wounded (FOW) at TWW just “planted” (I know how you all love that word) its first blog 🙂

  3. Can you imagine if there were magistrates backing these guys up? And we wonder why they love the “Reformation” so much. The “elect” were forced to attend church.

  4. “Case in point, we have copied and pasted this 9 Marks article into a Word document just in case it accidentally disappears, which appears to have happened before with certain 9 Marks resources”

    Take a screen shot, too.

  5. Sophia

    You mean we have a satellite blog???? Frankly, you don’t need us. You were smart in your response to Mars Hill and you were smart in starting the blog. You were smarter than me.

    Hence – Sophia “The Wise.”

  6. Wow… there is a LOT to make me gag in this article. The snippet below is just one of the more smelly parts.

    3.Churches’ governing documents (constitution, by-laws) should reflect the fact that individual members do not have the unilateral right to terminate their membership. Instead, that prerogative belongs to the church.

    Yes, I’d agree that since this kind of protocol is NOT specified, or even imagined in the new testament, then, yep, spelling it out in the oh-so-friendly by-laws will be a necessity. Making those by-laws actually STICK in the real world (without a horribly expensive class action suit) is another thing. So which is worse: the fact that there isn’t really a shred of NT support (I mean, Heb.10 gives a church THAT kind of authority?, are you serious ?) or the fact that it is so bone headed and egregious, that even bible thumpers are not wont to go there ?

    General rule: the LESS real scriptural support an idea has, the MORE you will have to lean on heavy handed extra-biblical protocol, and the manipulation that goes with it, to pull it off. The whole thing is so….. mormon. Temple recommends, anyone ??

  7. GregR
    I am waiting for the day that some of these guys propose that we wear special underwear to show our allegiance to a dead system. Good comment, BTW

  8. I applaud the recent posts on MD. I never paid attention to him until recently. You have been peeling back layer after layer of tear inducing stories on this onion and I think you are getting close to the heart of the matter… Controlling, autocratic, dictatorial, “my way or the highway”, male-chauvinist attitudes which promote a cult-like following and members who aren’t truly free as Christ has promised us. It is a high-demand church.

  9. @Eagle: so you’re not falling for “give up your guns/blogging rights…. and all will be well…..” eh ?? Yes I admit to being a hack amatuer at calling out what is, and isn’t LDS practice, I should leave that one to Eagle and Co.
    As was said (maybe Aaron ???) on IMONK: thin gospel = bad church practices. Bet on it.

  10. Mark,

    Thanks for your comment. Here’s how I see Mars Hill Church.

    Come join us! We love SEX (ALL kinds as long as it’s monogamous), BEER, INDIE ROCK, and the BIBLE (probably in that order!) We do church so much better than everyone else – we’re “missional”!

    What they don’t tell their groupies is – WE OWN YOU!

  11. Gospel Coalition comment deletion is pretty normal. For an interview Mark Driscoll gave where he talked about how he was reformed no less than 22 comments (literally all of the comments made on a particular article) got deleted. Why? Well, because for folks who come from actual Reformed church backgrounds they pointed out that there’s nothing “Reformed” about Driscoll’s views on anything, he’s just a Baptist TULIP. As some posters here have noted some of the GC guys are more lenient about permitting dissenting opinions than others.

  12. Maybe a couple of more things that stood out to me in the article.

    1) Conflating being in the Kingdom of God with membership in a local church. Hate to break it to ya, Bobby, but Kingdom of God does NOT equal local church, or any collection of churches. Read some of George Eldon Ladd and get back to us, friend. hint: KINGDOM is like, WAY BIGGER.

    2) Conflating being a “brother” or “sister” in the LORD with local church membership. Sure , the local church is the natural “habitat” for brothers and sisters, but out being in the family comes FIRST, and is a product of regeneration/the HOLY SPIRIT. It’s a wee bit more mysterious than inking an agreement, evidently a LONG agreement, at your local baptist church, or any other church. It’s organic and spiritual: hence it can’t be “revoked” by said local church (though it CAN be fostered and helped or encouraged)

    This whole checking up on the ex-members is ONLY going to fly in a good direction is there was/is a healthy state of RELATIONSHIP between and among the “ex” member, or soon to be “ex” member, and the leadership. By “good direction” i mean one that points all parties towards Jesus and the gospel, whether or not membership is kept, or the sheepie moves on.

    I speak from experience, having just left a church after talking with not one , but TWO of the pastors, that this can be done. They didn’t try to talk me out of it (they had more confidence in the Holy Spirit and the church universal than Bobby evidently does), and I did not blow smoke up their…. well a body part that they sit upon. The whole thing does not have to be abusive and controlling; Christians CAN , on occasion, act like grown men and women.
    yes, Eagle, I’ve seen it…. and not in a vision, either.

  13. It’s situations like this that leave me, as a seminarian, caught on the horns of a dilemma.

    First, while interning for a church once upon a time, I made it a point to personally speak (either by phone or in person) with any members that dropped off the map, so to speak. It wasn’t to badger or harass them, but to see what had happened. Too often people in the church are hurt by something (many times unintentionally) and the church officers never get the chance to make it right. If I or any other elder had done something to wound one of Christ’s people, I needed to know! I never wanted someone to just leave without giving me the opportunity to repent if that’s what was needed. And I also understood that sometimes our church just wasn’t a good fit for some folks; if that was the case, I had a handy list of other local churches that I was aware of (many that didn’t share all of my theological commitments) that I was happy to refer them to.

    On the other hand, I have to say that given the heavy-handedness of many authoritarian pastors, having an “exit interview” is a horrible idea. If that describes the pastor of your church, just run – and don’t look back!

    Second, on the question of church discipline, I get tied in knots. Almost 5 years ago, a young gentleman joined a local church I worked for. Almost immediately we discovered that he had fled another local body to avoid a discipline proceeding. At the time, the staff thought it was another case of a young, creative guy who was getting shafted by another church. (Keep in mind that at this congregation, we jokingly called ourselves “The Island of Misfit Toys”. Imagine a church of 200 made up of folks that comment here at TWW. Every single member had been horribly hurt by the church at some point or another.) Our determination to overlook the “discipline situation” is something that I still regret to this day.

    This young man, whom we’ll call “Nicky”, was trouble from day one. Almost immediately he started giving us trouble. Then his kids started showing up to church with bruises. Then his wife did, too. The senior elder and I sat down to counsel him. After 10 minutes, we called the cops. He then threatened to sue us for breaching confidentiality. He couldn’t have won, but he kept us tied up with attorneys for 2 years. In the mean time, he left our church, and in the space of 2 years blew through 5 others. In 3 of the 5 he was the primary force behind subsequent church splits. In the other two, there were threatened lawsuits.

    “Nicky” was the one case where I wish we could have kept him from resigning, and protected other churches from the unmitigated evil that he spread in his wake.

  14. That is disturbing beyond words. So cultish I can hardly believe it.

    What is also disturbing is in a setup like MH, there are three or five men making all these membership decisions. It isn’t like your local Baptist church where the congregation votes on membership. In a congregational vote, if someone wants to leave you let them leave. Do you really want them hanging around if they don’t want to be there? That isn’t healthy for the church.

    This attitude displays a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit to guide individual believers. Even if the believer is making a mistake by leaving, it is up to the Holy Spirit to work in his/her heart and bring about the necessary change.

    Welcome to the Hotel California!

  15. I really like a lot of what Mark Dever has written. But I have thought that there was an over-emphasis on discipline.

    We helpled plant 2 churches last year. They were in charge of drafting their own charters and bylaws etc. The first draft I saw had lots of stuff relating to discipline. I asked about it and said that it seemed strange, and that if I were looking for a church, I would steer clear of a church who’s founding documents had so much about discipline. I asked what it was they were really afraid of.

    They kept it in because it’s all the rage these days. They have had no discipline problems, nor do I expect that they will. They are easy going, balanced guys. It’s just that their bylaws and such made them look strange on this topic.

    I understand the need for the traditional Baptist Church to address discipline. There wasn’t any for 150 years.

    But the remedy has been worse than the problem in some cases.

    Also, I like the fact the pastor and congregaton take some responsiblity for the souls under their care. If someone leaves, there should be an effort to help that person and help them transiition to another place.

    But to argue that a person cannot volutarily associate or quit an organization, that is going beyond the pale.

  16. Anonymous said,

    “But the remedy has been worse than the problem in some cases.”

    Agreed! What’s really SCARY is that Dever and Mahaney are so close. We saw what happened in SGM.

    These guys are control freaks!

  17. When we were looking for a church several years ago, we looked into a Reformed Baptist church. It was a depressingly somber service even for someone like me who prefers a more traditional and quiet service. But the real kicker was the membership requirement that if you were going to miss a service you were REQUIRED to call your elder to tell them not only that you would be absent but WHY you weren’t going to be there.

    I don’t think so. I’m not a child.

  18. Reformed
    You said “Then his kids started showing up to church with bruises. Then his wife did, too.” The church has a responsibility to report this to the police. You will not be held liable for doing so. A church is ill equipped to investigate child abuse and, in fact, is morally responsible for reporting this. Bag church discipline in abuse. Call the police.

  19. Deb –

    You might consider adding something about what I’m about to say to your article above.

    WHAT THE FLIPPING HECK – How can Dever support what is written about church membership in his own books when AT THE SAME TIME he let CJ MAHANEY (a truly errant sheeple-BTW) run out the backdoor of Covenant Life Church and into HIS WAITING and apparently ADORING ARMS?? I’m blazing mad. I hate hypocrisy!

    Dever, by his own actions, is saying it is acceptable for CJ Mahaney to blackmail the Tomczak family AND it’s acceptable for CJ Mahaney to leave CLC for another church (Dever’s church) without permission from his own church.

    Sorry – but these guys are all wacked!

  20. dee,
    “After 10 minutes, we called the cops. He then threatened to sue us for breaching confidentiality.”

    Sounds like Reformed Rebel did contact the cops. It also sounds like “Nicky” was used to figuring out how to avoid cops and threaten litigation against churches that contacted law enforcement.

  21. Anonymous
    I have no need of a pastor to help me transition anywhere. How does a pastor know how to help anyone transition? Most pastors are not involved enough in the lives of the members to know them beyond a superficial level.

    As for Dever’s thoughts on the matter, there have been some on this blog who were deeply hurt at CHBC by those men who think they know something about “authority” and use it to “counsel” members. There is a reason that the church has not grown in any significant way over years but maybe, as they like to say, people are just transitory.

  22. WTH
    This is a hot button topic for us. We were involved in the poor handling of a pedophile incident at a former church. I also did child abuse and neglect followup in a previous life and testified in many cases. The abuser cannot sue for a report. Surely the church had someone vet their procedures in this situation. Pastors are often the first ones who get the report. Sadly, many of them do not report because they either don’t believe it or think that “prayer” will heal them.

  23. Update at 9 Marks,

    Bobby Jamieson has posted the following comment in response to the numerous commenters who have challenged him:

    Bobby Jamieson | 2.2.2012

    “For those of you who have raised questions about the legal propriety of my counsel, I’d refer you to Ken Sande’s article on our website about informed consent, and to the relational guidelines Peacemaker Ministries has drafted to enable churches to practice discipline in a legally protected manner.

    Here’s a link to Sande’s article:



  24. Ken Sande and Peacemaker Ministries . . .

    Sorry, Ken, but you have ZERO accountability here at TWW. Your close alliance with C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries told me everything I need to know about you and your so-called ministry.

    🙁 🙁 🙁

  25. If a Christian’s first response is “Let’s go to court,” I’d be very concerned.

  26. I can believe Bobby wrote that… But it’s interesting. Just like Driscoll, Mark has a lot of young men around there who are trying to be little Marks but also, young men who ARE young and have very little life experience to be considered elders and “shepherding the flock.”

    I’ll write more later about how I exited and why but reading this you won’t find it a mystery or even surprising. But these particular rules or views I was not aware of but sensed because I had already started reading survivor sites and ones like TWW.

  27. I think, if I can remember, that I’m older than Bobby, BTW. He’s a nice and ambitious young man. Was kinda newly married and then new father. Anyways, regardless he drinks the Aide… But means well, for whatever that’s worth.

  28. “By updating your governing documents with these kinds of provisions, you can STRENGTHEN YOUR ABILITY TO OBEY GOD’S COMMAND TO RESTORE STRAYING SHEEP, while simultaneously reducing your church’s exposure to legal threats.” Ken Sande

    Scripturally speaking, how far is a church body to take restoring straying sheep? Isn’t the restoration process supposed to be based more on a relationship than on a contract? If a member is unreceptive to correction by his closest relationships in a body, wouldn’t it be better for the member to move on? If it is an issue of serious sin, then warning other churches might be called for. But, also, love covers a multitude of sin. If the sin is not horrific and not damaging to others, doesn’t love cover that as you continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to work in the person to reveal the sin?

  29. Bridget2 – are you familiar with the provision re. membership in SGM that states that if you leave “under discipline” and go to another church, the SGM Powers That Be will inform that church about you (if they find out) and more or less demand that they not allow you to attend new church but be sent back to SGM?

    I cannot believe anyone would willingly sign an “agreement” that cedes complete control to SGM, but… otoh, I belonged to several churches that come from the same discipleship movement roots as SGM and that employ similar methods…

  30. Should add that I never signed anything (anywhere), but that doesn’t stop authoritarian cult leaders from acting like they own you. (didn’t in my case, at least.)

  31. I remember growing up in the traditional Baptist church setting and the youth group may visit people who had not been in a while to tell them that we hoped to see them again. It was never high pressure and if anything we were just making contact.
    Also, before mega church mania, pastors visited their flocks on a regular basis. I remember pastors coming into our homes at least once every six months or so. Maybe more. All of that to say, growing up in that very traditional setting, no one every acted as if someone left they had to be given permission. I remember my parents left a particular church and the pastor came to visit them in order to see if something could be reconciled. I can’t really remember all the circumstances since I was nine but, no resolution was made. However, he did make the contact and they parted company. No one from the previous church attacked my parents. In fact, many years later one of the deacons from that church was my parents realtor and they had quite an amicable relationship.
    I don’t know when this attitude began but, I know of no church denomination that acted like this unless they were actually not a denomination rather a cult. The disturbing thing is the Calvinistas beliefs on the trinity and such do not have the marker of a cult; actually quite to the contrary yet, their polity is scary. It seems really cold and calculated. It seems that it is written in such a way that the leaders always have the upper hand and the lowly member is the punching bag.
    One thing that troubles me about church leadership especially in these churches talked about on TWW is the emphasis on preaching doubt to the Christian lay person about his or her salvation. Notice everything they emphasize has the belief that if you don’t agree with it whole heartily, you probably aren’t saved and they aren’t talking about what is recited in the Apostles Creed. I wonder what would happen if someone preached doubt day in and day out in the ears of the leaders? Would they quake in their boots or say “that only applies to the congregants because I have been bought by the blood of Christ.” ” I am a leader ergo I am the elect.” It troubles my heart greatly and makes me leery about joining any new church plant.

  32. Did anyone notice how Bobby refers to the leaving member as troubler or troublemaking? Oh Lord, thank you for warning me and letting me SEE!!!! I am so glad to be gone!!!

    I wonder if CHBC will change it’s membership I covenant now. I don’t have mine any longer so I cant make any comparisons if they revise it any.

    People who are there need to run like hell.. That post enraged me… Man, they are becoming more like a cult everyday. I’m not afraid to use the C word. You wouldn’t get it if you didn’t deserve it. But since they’re so free and loose about calling people who leave sinners and unrepentant, then I feel just as free to say that they are vpbecoming a cult.

  33. Here’s my response I posted on 9 Marks site. I wonder if it will get deleted:

    At best, I find this entire post laughable. I can’t believe Christians who actually have a Bible in their possession are this far off vase from Scripture. Proof text all you want, Bobby. But this is completely what Scripture warns us against–those wishing to exercise control and authority over us.

    The interesting thing is that a person who has the Holy Spirit can decide for themselves what is best for them. They do not need the local churches blessing or affirmation or confirmation about their standing in Christ. You seek to replace the judgement reserved for God and the place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and it is wrong.

    I am so glad I left your church when I did. I saw you heading down this path and it has become the very thing that I saw. Christ came to set the captives free; to set those free who were enslaved to bondage. And yet, your interpretation and view of Scripture seeks to undo the victory already won for us.

    I hope all churches like yours make this information clearly known, as you are doing now. It will help the rest of us who seek to know Christ in a community of free believers that much more easier.

  34. I’ll agree that heavy handed tactics are contrary to the spirit of Christ, but I think the opposite extreme can be equally harmful. I think that it is very important for churches to have a form of membership (even covenant membership) that means something. There has to be more to belonging than just showing up consistently. I was recently at a church where a new member was added. The pastor announced she wanted to join, she stood up and waved, and that was it. Her name wasn’t even added to the proverbial list. Her “membership” there was less than a vain formality.

    I think there can be a healthy in between. It is a valuable thing for like-minded individuals to commit to doing life together as a congregation of faithful. This commitment should not be extremely amorphous. I think it’s fair that if people are going to call a church their home, they should take ownership over its mission through consistent worship attendance, giving, and serving in the church ministries. These are hardly unreasonable expectations, and those which are easy to make exceptions for when they are necessary (i.e., shut ins don’t necessarily have to be removed from membership).

    The thing about the heavy handed approach is, that it functionally does nothing. Nobody can force you to “be” a member of their church. You can stop going, settle in somewhere else, and they can hee and haw till the cows come home, but they don’t control your actions. So what if they keep your name on the proverbial list? All that does is render their list obsolete and work towards undermining its meaning. A church should have the right to put whoever’s name they want on their membership list, because it doesn’t compel them to attend, it just makes a pointless list.

    Case in point: A french man recently sued the Catholic church for not annulling his baptism and won. Seriously? The Catholic church doesn’t do de-baptism, yet this man is trying to bend the law to get his name taken of a list he’s never even seen.

  35. Deb
    Oh yeah, that CJ Mahaney, the purveyor of hyper-authoritarian malarkey and self monikered head apostle.And now, reinstalled by his buddies. And good friends with Ken Sande.

  36. Yep Jimmy
    Especially those pastors and leaders who secretly consult attorneys to draw up the covenants and then hide that fact from those who are asked to sign them.

  37. Dee–
    When I signed, it never crossed my mind that these covenants and contracts are drawn up this way. It just shows the intent of the drafters as well as the fact that above all else, they want to be sure to cover their own asses if they eff up and jack you over. They want to be sure that you cannot old them liable.

    Church, IMO, is just unsafe. The actual leaders behave like swindlers, scallywags and scumbags and boy are they clever and strategic with their motives.

  38. It makes me sad because I never purposed in my heart to not go to church. I grew up in the church. When I didn’t go, it was beause I wasn’t really trying to walk the walk. But now… I am really afraid to admit that I have made up my mind. I have no desire to attend a church ever again. And something tells me that it might just happen that way. Isn’t that heartbreaking? I should be sad and heartbroken. But I’m just relieved. Overwhelmingly relieved. I’ve never felt this way in my life regarding NOT going to church. These sick people will not make me a victim of their abuse and control ever again.

  39. Numo –

    I am still in a church related to SGM. I have been there for 13 years. We were never asked to sign a membership covenant and I never would if asked. The pastor at that time had a saying, learn about us and take your time joining.” They required four two-hour classes so you knew the basics about what we believe and what you are joining. If you made a commitment to be a part of the body then you came to the front one Sunday and introduced yourself and your family, then we prayed for the new members. If you wanted to leave, the leaders asked that you come have a conversation to make sure there were no offenses and you were free to go. I never saw any policy for church discipline – don’t know how that was/is handled. I don’t recall hearing of any former members being harassed. There were some relational problems that weren’t resolved between some parties in our church. One of the parties did not stay. That was very unfortunate. My church is not in the hub of SGM central. We don’t know how or if a relationship will continue with SGM. I’m seriously doubting a continuation at this point. If our church decides to continue on with them, I will leave the church. I won’t be part of anything being led by any of those original board members. They should not be leading anything. They may yet repent, which would be good, but trust is gone and they have character issues that disqualify them in my book.

  40. Dee:

    Our church is not so large that the pastor and at least a couple of elders would know every member. If they leave, they usually tell us. If they have a place picked out, that’s great. If they don’t, we encourage them to go to another place and would try to help them. That’s what I meant by transition.

    We don’t want people dropping off the radar, maybe because they are having a hard time or struggling.

    We don’t ever want our church to get so big that we would not be able to help a church member like that.

    I hope this makes sense. It’s not meant to be patronizing. Someone who leaves with a clear intent, out of conviction, with a plan to continue strong in the Christian life would not need any help.

    But sometimes people leave because they are depressed, facing struggles, need a new place.

    That’s the kind of person we would not just let walk out the door without communication.

  41. Trina –

    I’m so sorry about the way you were treated at your former church. I hope there are believers in your life that you can have fellowship with. Church is not a place you go, but it is who you are. But, then, you know that I’m sure. I’ll be praying for God to bring you sweet fellowship with believers who will just love and respect you where you are at in you walk. Bless you!

  42. I just read Sande’s article on relational commitments and informed consent.

    He does make one good point – the church should have a procedure that is known, fair and applied consistently.

    I have seen courts abstain more from church disputes than become involved in them.

    We, fortunately, not had any discipline issues. The way we are set up, the elders could dismiss a member. I can’t see that ever being done, really.

    If it were done, there would probably be many meetings etc. If the member had to be kicked out, the elders would vote on that, inform the person, and that would be it. We would keep it a private process. There would be no potential for slander and libel.

    If the person was unbalanced, continued to come, made a scene etc., we would ask them to leave, and if they did not, we would not engage in ‘self-help” remedies. We would call the authorities to handle it.

    But I cannot imagine that ever happening, really. I have been a Christian for over 35 years. I have never seen it happen in any church I have been a part of.

    People, even crazy people, will leave if they are unhappy.

    Sometimes you make a bigger deal out of things by trying to force an issue.

  43. Back on 9-29-11 Bobby posted a question about how pastors should relate to ex-members who are attending new churches– not so bad as those resigning “into the world”, i suppose.
    On 10-1 Michael McKinley posted what I presume is the official answer, including point number 5
    ” When I  run into “ex-members”, I try to  be gracious.  Unless there is unrepentant sin, I generally ignore the church issue and simply try to seem warm and kind.”
    I commented, ” Michael, I hope you misspoke in #5 and you try to BE warm and kind, not SEEM that way.”
    He had a friendly reply, but hasn’t edited his post.

  44. Dave–

    No, Mike said it right. He did not get that one wrong. When I run into people, they try to seem warm and kind and usually fail, provided that they will even acknowledge me. Since I have NO tolerance for fake people, I usually try to BE very quickly dismissive.

  45. Trina

    “Just like Driscoll, Mark has a lot of young men around there who are trying to be little Marks…”

    Why do you think they call it 9Marks?

  46. You make me even more thankful to be part of the Aussie Anglican church. Voting requirements? Be over 18, have been baptised at some point in your life, and have been attending the church regularly for the last 6 months, and not be simultaneously a member of another congregation. That kind of membership is safe.

    I have even known a former pastor to sit down with people who were unhappy with some aspect of our church’s theology and praxis and suggest a local church of another denomination that might be a better fit for them. He would also regularly pray for all the local churches of different denominations in the service. It was one of the big things that attracted me when I first came as a refugee from a disastrous house church

  47. Anonymous
    You belong to a normal church. Unfortunately there are nutty churches out there who want to apply discipline for merely disagreeing with a pastor or questioning some aspect of the church. Before I attended my former church, I would not have believed such a thing. I do now. Take a look at SGM. Here is a group of churches with an incredible number of abuse claims. They never saw anyone that the couldn’t dream up a discipline for.

    Yet, Mark Dever and Ken Sande remain buddies with this guy. Why? Because Peacemakers markets their services to pastors. Oh, they try to make it seem like they are for both sides. But, it is the leaders who hire them. Do you really think they are objective when these same leaders invite them to paid speaking gigs, etc.? Mark Dever has never once expressed concern for the hundreds of people who have expressed painful experiences at SGM. Instead he allowed Mahaney to run to Dever’s church and hide out until his reinstatement. This is the same Mahaney who would not allow anyone else to do the same while they were “under his discipline.”

    This discipline stuff is focused on the sins of the congregation and is applied by the “pastors.” If one looks at Scripture one might find that many of these verses directly apply to leadership.
    I am all for discipline in instances of marital desertion, etc. That is not what these guys are interested in. Discipline is applied to anyone who does not march lockstep with the pastor.

  48. Can you imagine if there were magistrates backing these guys up? — Anon1

    No need to imagine. Just ask anyone from the Islamic Republic of Iran or anyone from Talibanistan. “Magistrates” as in Shari’a Courts.

    And we wonder why they love the “Reformation” so much. The “elect” were forced to attend church. — Anon1

    Again, Talibanistan. Except it was mosque instead of church. And the alternative was usually death.

  49. I guess this is where my Mormon knowledge and experience pays off!! 😛 I’m just waiting for Mark Driscoll, Deaver and crowd to preach and practice blood atonement. You want to read something really disturbing…read about the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 in the context of LDS teaching of blood atonement. — Eagle

    Has MD started recruiting Danites yet? He can start with his Young Restless and Truly Reformed proteges until his “raised in Mars Hill since age 2” generation come of recruiting age.

  50. Anonymous
    So, you actually have a real pastor at your church, not a speaking head. Many pastors today would be hard pressed to tell you the names of their regular attendees. When I left Pete Briscoe’s church,to move to NC he told me he was sad to see me go and encouraged me to keep teaching. He knew me and gave hoot.

    Now, the church that I attended next, decided to play a game and pretend we were under discipline and they caused trouble with a new church. We were not under discipline. They just didn’t like the fact we called them on a blatant problem in the church.We put them in line but I will never forget how absolutely evil they were, attempting to interfere with us joining another church. That same church is now struggling with a declining membership, most likely due to others seeing the same problem we identified.

    Funny thing, we only reported the truth to the pastors and elders about the awful way a young teen, who was pursued by an inchurch pedophile, was ignored. Guess what-we became the problem. Not the pedophile, not the pastor who fell down on the job, not the elders who overlooked the issue, but us. They are the reasons that I will never sign a membership covenant again.

  51. Trina,
    I figure Mike’s statement was a bit of a Freudian slip. Yes– “troubler” was the first word which lept out at me in today’s post. For benefit Bobby or other 9-marxists reading– a bible lesson.
    In the Bible exactly 2 individuals are specified as “troublers”. Neither of these was complaining about the music or the length of sermons, but involved in serious life-death of a nation issues.
    1: Achan son of Carmi (called a troubler by the author) who single-handledly caused Israel’s military defeat when he took devoted things from Jericho.
    2: The prophet Elijah. (called a troubler by a king) 17When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.
    There you have biblical teaching on troublers– one a real troubler and one called a troubler by a real troubler.

  52. HUG
    All authoritarians run the show the same way no matter the faith. So, CJ Mahaney looks no different than the islamic religious police except they have more hair.

  53. Dave
    Troubled. That is what these guys are when someone does not agree that their church is the best on the planet. They cannot abide anyone who disagrees with them so that person becomes the problem. The only ones who are troubled in those churches are the authoritarian pastors and the young men who adore them.

  54. Reg. Sande’s article: meh…. Imagine new members-to-be considering the possibility that THEY are squarely , and ‘justifiably’, in the bulls eye as UNREPENTANT SINNERS if they leave for ANY reason whatsoever… yeah, RIIIIIIGGGGHHHHT. Do you think most courts will connect those dots ?? Yeah, I don’t think so. Like the gov’t in Utah circa 1850’s and polygamy, anyone playing this whacko “discipline” card is going to have the courts/gov’t saying to them what Brigham heard: change your mind or we’re coming for your stuff, hahaha. And BEHOLD, Brigham got his holy self a new rev-eh-lay-shon….. amazing. I’m thinking Sande/Bobby will change their revelation as well.

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  57. HUG — that’s the real reason that Driscoll’s so into mixed martial arts and recruiting young men — he wantsw to train his own band of Danites! 🙂 How could we have missed that?

  58. Here are some disjointed thoughts on this issue. It’s probably tl;dr, but there may be some nuggets of truth in here.

    1. Guinn. As a precedent, the case is only truly on point in Oklahoma, but good attorneys from other states will take note of it and mention it in their own cases.

    2. Mormon excommunication. There was a time, up until the late 1980s, where the only way you could get your name removed from the Mormon church records was to be excommunicated. Period. Then a guy in Arizona, who simply didn’t want to be a member any more, decided that he wasn’t going to play that game, because here in some Arizona communities, getting excommunicated is like the social kiss of death. He had done NOTHING to deserve excommunication except that he didn’t want to be a member any more. So he filed a lawsuit. As a result, the Mormon church came up with the current system where one sends in a resignation letter. The stuff about how the resignation is effective with the sending of the letter came later, after some bishops and stake presidents thought that it didn’t legally matter if the person wanted out, but they found out that it did matter. It also helped that some people who were subjected to heavy-handed action by these bishops and stake presidents were less shy about letting the press know that the local church leaders were up to these shenanigans.

    Lavina Fielding Anderson wrote this up for one of the reports of the Mormon Alliance, and for her work on spiritual abuse, she ended up excommunicated. I can’t find the report online.

    3. Church covenants/contracts/whatever in general. Not that my opinion matters for much, but I wouldn’t sign one for love or money. They are not for your benefit, they are for the benefit of the church. It is strictly a one-way street. No church is worth that.

    4. Abused kids or other lawbreaking. You don’t need a church covenant to deal with that nonsense. Just drop a dime. That’s all there is to it.

    5. Tortious interference with contract. Just thought I’d point out that some aspects of church “discipline” could constitute a tort if they interfere with a business relationship. Courts are absolutely loathe to get in the middle of a religious dispute, but business contracts that go bad because some pastor tells party A that he can no longer be in business with party B because party B is under church discipline can open the church up to lawsuit. Even if there isn’t an explicit contract, ruining someone’s business because the pastor says that Brother X is no longer your brother and you can’t patronize his place is really opening the pastor and church up to a no-win lawsuit. No covenant is going to protect a church in a situation like that. And it’s not that a lawsuit is all that winnable, but the publicity can be killer.

    6. Scientology. Do you really want to be compared with the cult of greed and power? Here’s a contract story that is going to court today, Friday, February 3, 2012.

    a. Debbie Cook, who was, up until January 1, 2012, a member of Scientology and formerly “captain” of Scientology’s Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, sent a letter to fellow Scientologists complaining about how things were going south in Scientology. She cites her version of scripture, the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. (Letter and story: )

    b. Scientology goes absolutely crazy after this letter escapes from the people Cook sent it to ( also the Tampa Bay Times). Other Scientologists start cutting Cook off because she’s a Suppressive Person and being connected to her could endanger one’s own eternity. (See also: and

    c. Scientology sues Debbie Cook and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, for violating an agreement she made with Scientology when she left Flag. She and her husband were both paid $50K each for signing this agreement. (In light of the fact that she headed up an organization that took in over a million dollars a week, year in and year out for Scientology, $50K is pretty paltry, but more than the $500 that most Sea Org members get for leaving.) Tampa Bay Tribune article:

    * Here’s the original agreement (pdf):
    * Here’s the lawsuit:
    * Here’s a Tampa Bay Times editorial on the lawsuit and First Amendment protections. It’s probably as close as the newspaper (which has never been friendly to Scientology) is going to come to declaring war on the cult:

    d. Oh yeah, I forgot, there’s this temporary restraining order that Scientology got to keep Cook and Baumgartner from talking. According to Cook’s Texas lawyer, the TRO would prohibit her from discussing the case with her husband or her lawyer. ( The case was scheduled to be heard next Thursday on this TRO, but her attorney is taking the bull by the horns and there will be a hearing today to dissolve the TRO. Go Texas attorney!

    e. My opinion? Ms. Cook’s practicing Scientology, as much as I might disapprove, and the courts should just butt out and tell Scientology to take their non-disclosure agreement and fold it into a … you get what I’m saying.

    f. If you’re trying to figure out how this applies to a church covenant, imagine a covenant that doesn’t let you (for example) start a church in the same town….

    (So yeah, do you REALLY want to be like Scientology?)

    Like I said, tl;dr.

  59. Southwestern Discomfort said,
    “3. Church covenants/contracts/whatever in general. Not that my opinion matters for much, but I wouldn’t sign one for love or money. They are not for your benefit, they are for the benefit of the church. It is strictly a one-way street. No church is worth that.”

    I agree with this wholeheartedly! These legal documents are only benefiting church leaders who want to keep the sheep in line. My word is my bond, PERIOD!

    Great commentary!

  60. As a Pastor (retired) I can tell you that the 9Marks article only encourages pastors to abuse. It is nothing more than a power grab and it will end in the ruin of many lives.

    having lived through the “Shepherding Movement” of the 1970’s, this is clearly a move to revive such a heresy.

  61. Randall
    First let me thank you for being a (retired) pastor. We need more good guys who get it out there. You said “having lived through the “Shepherding Movement” of the 1970′s, this is clearly a move to revive such a heresy.” That is an important warning to all the people out there. The words “sheep” and” shepherding” are being revived by the Calvinistas and I predict that the subsequent abuse will mirror that of the 70s.

    One of Dever’s buddies, CJ Mahaney, who he sheltered from a justifiably angry group of SGMers, came out of that era and is now poised to continue everything he learned from all the “shepherds” of the 70s. Mahaney just recently dropped his self-appointed moniker of Head Apostle which eh kept for years. Says something, doesn’t it.

  62. Greg
    It is interesting that the vision to end polygamy coincided with the wish for statehood, etc… I think Ken Sande is functioning on a belief that the pastor and church leadership will do the right thing and never deliberately hurt, for their own gain (power, etc) a church member. In fact, pastors are just as prone to sin an anyone else. And they do hurt, deeply, people in the church.

    Courts will connect the dots. The signing of the membership covenant is one area that is the downfall of bad churches. These covenants are almost always carefully vetted by attorneys. Then, an individual is asked to sign it. note_ they are called covenants. It sounds so nice-kind of like something God would do, doesn’t it? If a church does not tell a prospective member that the document is a legal signing away of rights then the church could be sued.

    Funny thing about this…the church uses attorneys to draw up documents then the pull the “the Bible says you can’t sue your brother”verse when a member wakes up to the issue.Naughty, naughty!

    Sande has set up his organization to market to pastors. That is the fatal flaw of the system. His groups is dependent on pastoral referral.I am sure he believes that he is not biased but i say that it would be difficult not to be.

    You know, I think this is the year to preach regularly about membership covenants and their potential destructive use. Thanks for letting me ramble on yoru comment.

  63. Lynne

    I believe Driscoll is a coward. (he used it first). He hides behind his security team and acts like he is some street thug. He isn’t. I grew up in a town surrounded by streetwise immigrant families. My dad’s side were russian immigrants and he didn’t speak English until he started school. There were 2 types of tough guys. The ones who bragged and talked and the ones who were silent. The ones who mouthed off were laughed at. It was the quiet guys who were ones to fear.

    I have one thing to say: “The Machete Incident”

  64. Southwestern Democrat
    Wow. It was well worth reading. I plan to link to you comment in today’s post. Thank you very much!

  65. randall, agreed about your comment on 2 11:20 at Phoenix Preacher.

    “For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!”

    And earlier:

    “Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?”

    Of course Paul advised that though it was not a sin to marry it was still better for the unmarried to remain unmarried if they could exercise self-control and be as he was. Meanwhile somebody has claimed to not merely be an apostle (as though it were humility to say it with a small ‘a’) someone just said he’s more a prophet than a politician (which shows what he doesn’t know about Nathan, Gad the seer, Samuel, or just about any other prophet working in the vein of what Deuteronomy 16-18 prescribed).

    Psychologist Roy Baumeister once wrote that the usual “bad-ass” is someone who takes that stance so as to avoid fights, not so as to prove his mettle in fights. The actual fighters don’t necessarily advertise it because they know which fights they will and won’t win. The “bad-ass” trumpets his prowess at fighting, paradoxically, so he doesn’t have to fight most of the time and lets his reputation speak for him.

    baumeister also did research and wrote to the effect that the most violent men are those who have a very high but unstable self-esteem. They are legends in their own minds but they can’t back up the talk to a point where people agree to the hype. When this happens, you guessed it, they resort to physical and verbal violence to stabilize the attack on their self-perceived competence and influence.

  66. HUG — that’s the real reason that Driscoll’s so into mixed martial arts and recruiting young men — he wants to train his own band of Danites! — Lynne Tait from Oz

    Well, we’ve already seen Bobby on this thread, and MD cultivates young men who Adore Him; anyone want to hazard the odds that Bobby and/or similar Young Masculine MHers would take Blood Atonement from the Enemies of God and MD?

  67. Thanks a lot HUG!
    The Doughy Guy song sound reminded me of the Superman theme and now I CAN’T GET THAT ONE OUT OF MY HEAD!

    (This movie if from 1978, before many of you were born. So, for you, I link the theme song. John Williams at his best:
    And no, Superman, the Movie had nothing to do with Driscoll.)

  68. This is very scary. The first abusive church I came out of was a Christian International Ministries church. I think the ministry is based in Florida, but there are numerous CI churches in the US and other countries. I was a member there for a year and a half, and during that time, things got more and more bizarre. When I began complaining about all of the messages and hand-outs on submitting to and serving the pastors (a married couple), I was brought in for church discipline and accused of having a “spirit of pride”, “spirit of rebellion”, and “spirit of independence”. Eventually, I was told that to leave the church, I had to submit a request in writing and be granted permission. It was my first experience away from Southern Baptist Convention churches, and I’d never heard of anyone having to be granted permission to leave a church. There was serious brainwashing and control that took place there, and I believe I was vulnerable because I was a single woman going through a divorce from an abusive husband.

    Fast-forward several years, and I’m remarried with 4 children and an active member of an SBC church. I’ve told this story here before, but in short, I exposed a licensed minister/deacon/SS teacher who was sexually abusing one of the church’s youth. Over and over, I asked the pastor and leadership to refuse to allow him back as long as his victim remained in the church. I explained that the girl cannot heal, as long as the abuser continues to come to church to torment her with his presence. I also asked him to discuss the issue with other families in case there were other victims and to look into his minister’s license (since that would allow him to easily move to the next church and prey on other kids if he eventually left the church). NONE of that happened, and in fact, the pastor and deacon chairman lied to me numerous times. Then they just kicked my family and me out.

    At the last meeting I had with the pastor, he mentioned that he thought the abuser would eventually stop coming to church anyway. He said that the abuser had written a letter asking for his church membership to be revoked. Then the pastor said, “… but we can’t take anyone off the membership rolls in this church even if they want it, because of the way our by-laws read. The only way we can remove someone’s membership is if a sister church asks for the membership to be transferred to their church.”

    That REALLY troubles me. My husband, our two girls who were baptized there, and I will always be members of the church that kicked us out (since we’ll most likely never join an SBC church again).

  69. HUG
    The Doughy Guy?? Driscoll deserves it. He is the one criticizing the women for “letting themselves go.” Does he not see himself?

  70. Eagle
    The prophet’s visions seem to follow on the heels of cultural changes. Didn’t the President get a vision during WW2 that the soldiers did not have to wear their sacred underwear because they were getting teased. I hate it when people pretend it is a religious vision when it is cultural adaptation.

  71. Wendy
    Thank you for your story and I am sorry about the abuser who attends your church. So many churches are naive-they think they can “pray” the sin out of them.

    Here is how you have to look at that membership contact. They say you are a member, you say your are not. And you continue to say that you are not longer a member of said church. They are involved with serious hallucination if they think keeping you name on a list means you are a member. Some SBC churches do this as well. When you leave, they keep your name on a list and that is why some of these supposed 10,000 member churches only have about 1,000 showing up. It is a numbers game.

  72. @Dee; one slight historical correction, before Eagle does it for me: it was Wilford Woodruff, NOT Brigham (who was, i think mostly dead by this time), who repealed the polygamy thingie, with the now famous 1890 Manifesto. Wiki can give anyone at least a bare bones recap, if interested. SO, ooops, wrong guy and I was off 40 yrs, but HEY IT”S FRIDAY PEOPLE !!

    Reg. Sande and pastors’ referral….well, what do they say about living by the sword, and …what’s that last part again ?? Some careless Pastor Dewfuss is going to totally bet on the wrong pony (wrong metaphor….my bad) and think that Sande’s book lernin lawyers have this air tight…. lights fuse… and .. yeah, THAT. It won’t take long for church’s , even heavy handed ones to at least forgoe the written (and legall damning) document, OR, just not follow up so stridently the sheep who wander to greener….ahem.. I mean STAGGER INTO DEEP SIN. People will still be abused, maybe not as explicitly, IMO.

    FWIW: I’m faily sure, for now at least, that guys like Sande are well intended. But that doesn’t make it right when they step on your foot… or your throat, while dancing. Also, I’m pretty convinced that the great majority of pastors of EVERY stripe do NOT want the kind of legal contracts/entanglements that he is pushing. Most brothers and sisters can smell “going over the pale” or to put it in NT-speak, “exceeding what is written”, when they smell it. Or at least I’m hoping so.

  73. @Eagle: you’ve asked the “where are the Bereans” question a time or two..or three, and it is a very good question. But I can assure you, having been down the shepherding road a few times myself (as the sheepie in need of submission and MORE authority ..pleez) that there ARE Bereans out there. Let me ask you kindly what your expectation might be: after the inevitable confrontation(s), do you expect the errant leaders to topple like the Berlin wall, or the tank to stop in its tracks a la tiennamin (sp?) square ?? No…. my friend, guess what happens to GOd’s mouthpiece (very often at least) when confronting leadership gone bad ?

    Pick an OT prophetic book…. skim quickly and the verdict is: Wrong leaders typically go rolling along (for awhile) and the Berean either gets thrown out, or walks out (I guess with Sande’s lawyers trailing, sniffing for billable hrs 🙂 )

    My point: GOD HAS, and will continue to raise up MANY Bereans, they HAVE spoken, and GOD , being the Father of mercy and truth, is giving foolish leaders, and GregR, MORE TIME to repent. Weird, huh ?? Not very tidy, but GOD has this tolerance for ugly messes… apparently.
    Does this help ?

  74. The thing is, the Bereans are not in the spotlight…but we are here…probably similar to the disciples…My dad & uncle were commercial fishermen, and so I was raised around many of the sort. They are a salty bunch, not who you would expect Jesus to call along side him and use. And while we may not be the chief priests (who would want to), we speak out, and we are rejected and isolated and kicked out of church. But still we speak, and I believe, even if the masses don’t hear us, that some people hear what we are saying and meet the real JESUS for the first time.
    The saddest part of the whole thing, is that many well intended people are missing the very free gift of GRACE that He gave. They are jumping through hoops, minding their P’s & Q’s, all to fly under the radar and perform well. 🙁

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  76. Dee,

    I slipped up in my previous comment about Ken Sande and did not acknowledge his formal training.

    If I mention Sande in the future, I will be sure to reverence this “peacemaker” as ATTORNEY KEN SANDE.

  77. Just a Friday word of THANKS that GOD was so carefully ambiguous about so MAnY things in the Bible, yes I said ambiguous: not that HE doesn’t know or care, but that HE wanted, and wants, love to remain the highest of all summits to climb, the brightest testimony of WHO HE is. It’s one thing to believe and enact an exact plan of church polity, church structure, even church practice, it’s another to tighten the screws and make sure that YOUR sheep do it THIS way, 24/7, and other parts of the Body of Christ are viewed with suspicion for following a differing interpretation of scripture, the voice of reason, and the voice of experience.

    GOD sure knows how to major in the majors.
    “In essentials, unity, in non-essentials, diversity, in ALL THINGS, charity” Augustine.

  78. I continue to believe; when an atheist or agnostic stands before God in judgement they will stand without excuse.
    They will not be able to say; “It’s Mark Dever’s fault I’m an atheist.”
    God has no history of accepting excuses that I know of. They will stand before Him condemned of their own sins.

  79. @Eagle: your last paragraph sounds like a tune off of the IMONK “Coming Collapse of Evanglecalism” CD. You might well be right about BOTH 1)the collapse 2)the benefit to the world considering “it needed to happen”. HMMMM…. maybe just some really serious pruning from a Gardener Who knows better ???

    I know in my situation, my off the rails leader WAS confronted, and his house of stained glass cards DID come down, but it took a decade or so. Shoot , with the LDS it’s been since 1828 and on it goes, 8 to 14 million strong (depending on who you ask, 🙂 )
    My point is only that what you are asking for IS happening, it’s just that the results are not always neat and tangible and what we’d prefer.

    Some call this the “now” and “not-yet” of the Kingdom. Some of this stuff is filed under “not-yet”, but GOD is still doing HIS Kingdom thing, now and always.
    Glad to see you loving mercy, and doing justly over here @ TWW…. an agnostic spin on Malachi….. go,Eagle, go.

  80. Sermon notes from the Men and Marriage sermon in regards to 2 Christians living and sleeping together (unmarried):
    “The Bible says to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto the Lord. So, what we offer our body to is an act of worship. That means that they are pagans, that their bed is a temple, and when they are together, it is a worship act to a demon god. It’s not just an alternative lifestyle. It’s deep. It’s deep sin. It’s deep rebellion.”

    It’s not just sin, it is a pagan worship act to a demon god.

  81. Jimmy
    Do not forget that there will be some who think they are Christians while they are in fact Pharisees. I don’t think God will allow that to pass either. Why speak of the condemnation of the agnostic without speaking of the condemnation of the Pharisees? Do you like them better?

  82. GregR
    You are singing my song “In essentials, unity, in non-essentials, diversity, in ALL THINGS, charity” Augustine.

  83. As the lust for litigation has increased in these United States, the need for legal type memberships contracts has, sadly, also increased.
    Church discipline is clearly pointed towards in the New Testament.
    Forget the issue of adultery or sexual sins. There are many people who have attempted to destroy individual churches for their own ends. Without a discipline policy, how would you stop them. Big problem. So there is a need for church discipline (as there is a need for courts and judges). We are fallible humans and we require restraints. But church discipline can also be used unjustly. That has been true through-out the church age.
    Are you really shocked to find church discipline at times used sinfully? I’m not. But churches still need it and the New Testament still affirms its validity.

  84. James Brown–

    You cannot say that. The fact that you are here, posting on this blog, makes it impossible for you to know how God has judged all people for all time and what decisions he’s making in heaven, even as we speak. Dont speak for God. You’re not omniscient and you have no idea.

    Things in this world are not black and white. And God is both omniscient and genius enough and compassionate enough to know the difference. He might rule and judge fairly as he will, but he does not go without an overwhelming grace and compassion and mercy far beyond which we could ever imagine. You cannot limit God’s grace, mercy and compassion that sees and knows all hearts, minds and situations… Even the worst of them. And if God didn’t take such mercy, kindness, forgiveness and understanding towards situations such as this, then he wouldn’t be so harsh towards teachers who preach a false gospel. Even in the OT, Deuteronomy, we can see the harshness and anger towards false prophets and leaders. The warnings are all throughout scripture in concert with the overwhelming compassion and wound binding and healing we see from God towards those who have stumbled because of it.

  85. Dee wrote:

    “…Funny thing about this…the church uses attorneys to draw up documents then the pull the “the Bible says you can’t sue your brother”verse when a member wakes up to the issue.Naughty, naughty!…”

    Fortunately, we live in a nation where secular law derived from 18th cent. humanism (Enlightenment) trumps various “Biblical” laws or laws from the Qu’ran. Freedom of religion and latitude of conscience is one thing, but it ends where it attempts to infringe on the lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness enjoyed by others.

  86. Also, to add: You don’t know the stories of mankind the world and time over where people have suffered insane spiritual abuse from so called pastors and leaders. Things we cannot even fathom. God knows that how he is represented by those who are in “leadership” affects the way a believer might see God. In the same way, parents also affect the way a child may see God. There are many people who have rejected the faith and even believing in God because of heinous sin and abuse towards them by the church.

    If I am to be confident in God’s compassion adn love for me, and in Christ’s atonement being SUFFICIENT for all sin for all time, then I can be confident that God will show compassion to those who were abused, murdered, raped, scorned, shunned and made mockery of in his name. The Baals and Ashteroh’s now reside in the pulpit and many are being sacrificed upon those same altars…they just look different. But don’t be fooled, they’re there. Many are put upon the idolotrous altar’s within the local churches and some don’t come out alive. They experience a spiritual death. How can you say that God will not show compassion to such a precious one?

  87. “And God is both omniscient and genius enough and compassionate enough to know the difference. He might rule and judge fairly as he will, but he does not go without an overwhelming grace and compassion and mercy far beyond which we could ever imagine. You cannot limit God’s grace, mercy and compassion that sees and knows all hearts, minds and situations…”

    Oh I do absolutely believe that.

  88. Dee rightly said: “Do not forget that there will be some who think they are Christians while they are in fact Pharisees. I don’t think God will allow that to pass either. Why speak of the condemnation of the agnostic without speaking of the condemnation of the Pharisees? Do you like them better?”

    I hate Pharisees (though I see their shadow in my own being). But does God accept excuses if you willfully turn from him (and blame it on some Pharisee)?
    [ Quick answer: NO ]

    There will always be the Pharisees; a new generation pops up every day. But some one else’s sin doesn’t excuse mine.

    As R.C. Sproul said in answer to the question: “Will the innocent native be condemned?” His Answer in 2 parts. 1) “, No, the innocent native will not be condemned.” 2) “There is no innocent native.”

  89. The most damning verse in Scripture? “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

  90. James–

    You really continue to speak from both sides of your mouth. Either God will have mercy and compassion for the oppressed or he won’t. See, in your mind you seem to envision this excuse being “Oh Lord, but they hurt me and so I chose to turn away from you.”. I can’t help but to wonder if you even understand or have experienced deep enough suffering that either challenged your faith or ever caused you not to believe, even temporarily? You see, your life isn’t yet over and you may one day be the one struggling in tis way. Most Christians never expect that one day they just might not believe… That something so life altering can happen in ones life to challenge and destroy that belief. It’s apparent to me that you’re not there or have not been there. Because if you had, you would understand the mercy and compassion that I’m talking about, the depth of it, the profound awesome power of it. It seems to me that you speak from your theological framework but yet have not experienced God and unbelief in this unique way.

    I imagine tha there will be many who stand before God as ones who turned away whose responses will be Lord, I trusted and believed in you. I had given you my heart and And in your name I was abused, abandoned, shunned, etc… And I trusted that to be who you were and what you wanted…

    Again, there are many people whose only experience of God has simply NOT been him at all. I think you’re completely wrong. And I think what you consider a mere excuse, as in sorry mom and dad but the dog ate my homework, is the pain, grief, suffering and brokenness of a soul… THAT God will never despise. You would benefit to soak in Scripture that shows Gods overwhelming love towards his Creation. I hope that you don’t have a life altering circumstance that will teach you the hard way and have you begging for mercy in order to understand. But many here have and know what I speak of.

  91. Jimmy wrote:

    As the lust for litigation has increased in these United States, the need for legal type memberships contracts has, sadly, also increased.

    Well, yes this is true, but doesn’t tell the whole tale. Sande and friends are needlessly INVITING litigation where the NT is mute, or hushed. Where are the clear NT directives for elders to oversee all members comings and goings to another church, no matter the reason ? Clear verses on UNREPENTANT sin are being morphed into a liscence (backed up by specious “covenants”, no matter that they are voluntary) to oversee other kinds of situations and decisions that have ZIP to do with unrepentant sin. What is driving this crazy train ?

    And yes, though it’s problematic, I DO believe in some form applying church discipline even in the 21st century. Let’s just be sure that the “cure” of how we apply that process is not worse than the disease. And speaking of disease: we need to be just as wary, or moreso, of unchecked abuse of power as we do the sinful situations of SOME of the sheep. Authority run amok (and I would point to these ridiculous DETAILED contracts as just that) is no small thing, and entirely biblically not defensible.

  92. Funny, Romans 3:23 doesn’t make me feel damned at all. It humbles me and reminds me we’re all in the same lost state without His Grace. It points me to Him. It’s the great equalizer of verses. As for damning?

    “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” Romans 1:24-25.

    I think God giving up on me would be the most damning thing that could happen. May I never exchange the truth about God for a lie.

  93. “Think of theology like “Spiritual ADD” where they move from Prayer of Jabez, to Purpose Driven Life, to Neo-reformed theology. Many will get bored and move on, or a loved one will come down with cancer and they’ll have doubt or questions, etc… A lot of these people are young and haven’t had enough life experience”

    Eagle there is much truth to this for much of Christendom. I think Reformed is a fad that will pass to some extent much like PDL did. I don’t think it is about doctrine at all when it comes down to it. I think it is a rallying cry to muster troops and have large followings.

    And it adds in lots of authoritarianism, cult of personality and focus on secondary doctrines as salvic. We are seeing the cracks in it with SGM and Mars Hill. And the other Reformed leaders cannot say they have not supported both groups because they have.

  94. GregR said; “And yes, though it’s problematic, I DO believe in some form applying church discipline even in the 21st century. Let’s just be sure that the “cure” of how we apply that process is not worse than the disease. And speaking of disease: we need to be just as wary, or moreso, of unchecked abuse of power as we do the sinful situations of SOME of the sheep. Authority run amok (and I would point to these ridiculous DETAILED contracts as just that) is no small thing, and entirely biblically not defensible.”

    I agree

  95. Eagle said: ” I would like to know what happens to the person living in Wuhan, China in 300 BCE? I mean is someone going to go to hell for not knowing the gospel? Kind of hard isn’t it…? I mean the gospel never existed!!”

    I believe God is both just and merciful. I certainly don’t pretend to know how He sorts it all out. I do believe the Holy Scripture are indeed the Word of God and whatever it says is true. We all desperately need a redeemer.

  96. Jimmy is right in the sense that we all stand condemned without redemption in Jesus. However, until the day of judgement Christ’s time on earth was not one of judgement rather of mercy. He came to save those lost sheep not mow them down with an AK-47. Church discipline (if I understand it correctly) is to be used as a way of bringing the sheep back into the fold so to speak not isolate them in a corner and then turn a gun on them. I would like to see an example of a church that handled appropriate discipline and what the results were of such discipline. It seems that many people are leaving churches such as MH due to heavy handed tactics and manipulation. Let’s think about this for a bit, if you read Andrew’s story, for example, and you are a part of an organization such as SGM, MH, etc., are you going to be open about your sin with your “care leaders” or are you going to cover it up and hide it? I think that I would probably turn into the biggest pharisee on earth because honestly I don’t think I couldn’t handle the “gospel shame”. It reminds me of Jesus’comments to the pharisees concerning their converts. I can’t remember the verse but he tells them you travel throughout the whole earth to make converts and you make them twice the children of hell. When someone is in a religion that forces them to hide their sin, fears and doubts, that said religion will eventually cause a person to combust. When that occurs, that person is DONE with the stupidity of that institution and tells God no thanks. We all seem to have a hard time seperating mother church from the triune God. When the church burns us and those within those walls throw rocks at us instead of showing mercy, we seem to conclude that God did those things to us. Before we jump ship totally, might I suggest we find someone who will preach the gospel to the bruised reeds and smoldering wicks. God have mercy on us all because there are so many of us smoldering barely hanging on. Thank God in Isaiah, God tells us he won’t snuff us out even if some crazies that form new churches try to!

  97. “KEEP AN EYE ON THE BACK DOOR. So pastors, just as you pay careful attention to the front door of your church, keep a close eye on the back door, too. Make sure that the sheep can’t simply open the gate themselves and disappear from sight….

    Build a Berlin Wall so they can’t get away from your Workers’ Paradise One True Church.

  98. (This movie if from 1978, before many of you were born. So, for you, I link the theme song. John Williams at his best:
    And no, Superman, the Movie had nothing to do with Driscoll.)
    — Mara

    Though Superman would be an improvement over Mickey Mouse on MD’s T-shirt.

  99. thanks Jimmy.
    I have spent the past two years of my life working out what I believed. I was one of those pretending for too long because I was too scared to come clean. When someone finally gave me the gospel that in Christ we are reconciled and for free! It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.

  100. Deb and Dee – Check out this post outlining the events at SGM and referring to Larry Tomczak. Well written, succinct, rings true. Accountablity or confession sessions are cultish, unbiblical, Catholic and as we see “what you say can and will be used against you”. There is one Mediator between human and God and that is Christ Jesus. He alone disciplies “vengenance is mine says the Lord” and He alone forgives sin. Again I praise God we were rejected by Acts 29 churches! I had no idea.

  101. Eagle said: ” I would like to know what happens to the person living in Wuhan, China in 300 BCE? I mean is someone going to go to hell for not knowing the gospel? Kind of hard isn’t it…? I mean the gospel never existed!!”

    Wuhan, 300BC. Eagle’s type example. As I have replied to him before, this question has been worked on and argued over for some 2000 years without definitive resolution. However, the consensus (consensi, actually) I have heard are:
    1) Trust in God’s Mercy and Justice. A favorite radio preacher sound bite on the subject was “God will judge them according to the light they had.”
    2) The “Baptism of Desire”, where someone who is not exposed to the Gospel can come into it (or at least as far as is capable without it).
    3) The idea of “the Virtuous Pagan”, someone with no knowledge of the Gospel but who shows “The Law Written on their Hearts”.

    A fictional type example of all three of these closely-related memes is Emeth the Calormene from Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle.

  102. Mars Hill and Capital Hill Baptist are going to look more like Pyongyang, with a DMZ and in a few decades some dead bloated corpse stuffed like a deer on display(or Dear Leader) where the neo-reformed can sob hystrerically about…


    Re Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, there was a news item from there about two-three weeks ago. People’s Internal Security had mass-disappeared all traitors who did not grieve enough at Comrade Dear Leader’s passing.

    Wu’s Pigs are eating well in the DPRK.

  103. Yvonne
    We will do an update post for our readers soon. And be glad you were rejected. You would not have been able to sign on the line in which it says that churches must be led by masculine love.

  104. HUG
    I often use that example from the Last battle. It is one of the reasons that CS Lewis has fallen out of favor for some Calvinistas! Did you know that Calvinistas are God’s helpers in the judgment?

  105. Dee,

    It sounds to me like Lewis didn’t fully buy into classical (hellenist) and or medieval theology. True? Not true? I must investigate for myself though. ===> (smiley face goes here)

  106. What is this? The ‘blogosmear’, or thoughtful intelligent discussion? I have no idea what’s in the Capital Hill Baptist Church Covenant, but I bet ‘conditions of leaving’ is one of them, and that there are good reasons such things are established. It’s not always about ‘controlling’. Unless you have thoroughly examined the church covenant, and examined it in light of scripture, including the reasons it exists, you need remain silent.

  107. Dan
    Remain silent, eh? Sir, if you wish to make yourself heard, on the “blogosmear”, I would suggest that you do not start off in such a manner. But, I am a woman so what do I know?

    I was really hoping a CHBCer supporter would show. Your remarks declare that you are such. Now, assuming you have read the number of issues on this blog presented by thoughtful Christians, why do you think there is an issue? Do you think it is honorable to conceal the legalities behind a covenant?

    How do you know that I haven’t examined it in light of Scripture? How do you know that I don’t know the reasons such things exist? Are you so sure i have not examined it in “light of Scripture?”Have you read all of the posts that i have done on this issue. I assure you, there are many. You seem to be a man who carefully seeks to first understand, then to be understood so I will assume that you have.

    As for remaining silent, I won’t and I bet that annoys the heck out of you. Dang pesky Internet. It lets all of us yahoos express ourselves. Freedom is such an icky thing.Did you know that I could make you remain silent by deleting your comment but I won’t because I do not believe that God wants anyone to remain silent on issues of potential abuse? I will even read your “deep” comment.

  108. Muff
    CS Lewis was a lot like many of us. There are mysteries and that freaks out those who seek to control God.

  109. Muff
    Most of those folks think that God will consult them in the salvation of each individual. There will be many surprises, I imagine. Those that are there and those that are not. Me, I will be so excited to see lots of people that I have come to love in the blogosphere, including you. 🙂

  110. Good answer Dee. I have long thought (since leaving the institutional church) that God is far more concerned with how we treat each other than what we believe about him.

  111. Dan
    I’m up with indulging in a little intelligent discussion in the light of scripture. We can’t talk in such manner about something we’ve not read, but we could do so about Bobby’s article at 9Marks. What do you think about troublers in scripture, for example, as I commented last night? Or church discipline? On the prior post I asked how many cases of excommunication are specified in Acts 1-28 churches, and who carried them out? (double meaning to this last phrase)

  112. @Dan: You need to remain silent…. what ?? Hey, if Capital Hill Baptist, or any other church has a covenant on how to properly cook a goose, do I need to read that also to intelligently comment ? I’m not against reading the document, I gave Mr. Sande some of my time this afternoon, but my point remains, the burden is on THEIR supporters to give me clear reason from scripture to uphold the need for that covenant. Honestly, even the case for mandetory church membership is, in my estimation, not that good. you can read about that at the same Mark IX link above: lots of inferences and jumped to conclusions. Scant little about Paul or Barnabas or James making that a big deal.

    Instead of blustering a loud HUSH!, why don’t you enter the conversation and show us where we need to heed GOD. That’s not a taunt, it’s an invitation, BTW; welcome to the weekend, brother.

  113. Dave
    She who will not be silent agrees with you. Also, how many churches in Acts had written membership covenants vetted by attorneys?

  114. GregR
    I believe that Dan’s “remain silent” comment was a direct dig at my gender. But, then again, he probably has been brainwashed by the Calvinistas whose commitment to secondary doctrine overshadows any potential for love.

  115. Randall
    Your post hits the Mark on this issue. Little play on words with the pastor Marks and 9 marks involved.
    I wonder if Bobby will get back to us about our comments over there — I tried a little different approach hoping he’ll at least want to spend some time talking about what he wrote and defend his ideas a little from the scriptures.
    Your brother and fellow member in Christ

  116. MRRev Dee. Hmm searching the goggle must not have searched hard enuf not finding those covenants
    If Dan doesn’t answer my excommunications in Acts1-28 churches question by tomorrow evening, feel free to– especially the “who carried them out” part.

  117. Yvonne — from what I’ve read, the sin used for the blackmail was a sex offense, but haven’t ever seen the name of the son.
    GregR. Have enjoyed and agreed with all your comments.

  118. Sophia wrote:

    “It’s not just sin, it is a pagan worship act to a demon god.”

    It’s kind of like that argument I heard pitched in chapel at the religious college I worked at 20 years ago, where the professor told the students that they were married to every person they’d ever slept with. I don’t know that it changed any minds about sex before marriage. If it did, it was not permanent, rather like the Texas Department of Health’s VD slide show in the mid-1970s. The pictures of diseased body parts put people off sex for a little while, but caused no permanent decline in the amount of nooky going on.

  119. Hi guys.

    I read this site quite often. It keeps me up to date on things and I appreciate that.

    I just wanted to say that Dan isn’t saying that anyone should be silent because of gender. Promise. He comment wasn’t cloaked. I suspect he said exactly what he meant. I also would like to say that he does research things when he finds out about stuff. Though he might not agree, I can tell you in my experience, Dan gives people the benefit of the doubt. I’m not saying I agree with Dan…and there are issues we don’t agree on, but I understand where he is coming from and I just hope that until he responds, that his comment will be taken for what it says. Just giving some background is all.

    I’ve known him for years, and he would never tell a woman to keep silent just because of gender. I’m a big mouth and if that were true, he would have told me to shut up long ago and banned me from his blog. He’s not like that.

  120. Dawn
    Perhaps you need to tell Dan to read out blog more in depth. This is not the only time we have written on this subject. Let’s see-blogosmear…very well researched and thoughtful, right? Telling a blog written by women to remain silent without fully reading what we have written (rather extensively) on the subject is dismissive. Frankly, he was rude and he did not give us the benefit of the doubt that you ask us to give him. I’ll leave it up to him to show that he thoroughly researched the subject. In the meantime, we stand by our assessment. He’s lucky he has you for a friend. He needs it.

  121. Dan should heed his own words since two sentences earlier before he said this-“Unless you have thoroughly examined the church covenant, and examined it in light of scripture, including the reasons it exists, you need remain silent.”. He said he had no idea what’s in the CHBC church covenant. How arrogant of him to assume there are no current or ex CHBC members here, such as myself, who knows what’s in the covenant. This dude is a trip. He fails to see that he’s the one that doesn’t have a freaking clue. Man I love arrogance (insert snark).

  122. He should also know that the general church covenant-which is online as well-is renewed by creepy chant (haha) every communion Sunday with the members of the congregation. It says NOTHING about someone NOT allowing one to leave at free will. What it does say is something along the lines of entreating one another and admonishing as occasion may require as becomes the members of a healthy church… And then further to say that should I decide to depart from this place that I should endeavor as soon as possible to unite with another body of believers.

    Dan’s hypothetical “reasons” for their “covenant” aren’t even identifiable by Dan beause apparently HE was NEVER a member of CHBC, and neither has read or signed such agreement. Therefore, he should remain silent…permanently.

    Dan should also know that In light of Scripture there are NO church covenants and the only covenants that exist are between The Creator and His People; which cannot be broken, mind you. Otherwise, let your yes be yes and your no be no. So Rev. Dee would not have to closely examine such a covenant to determine that for whatever “reason” it exists, that in light of Scripture, it is wrong and unnecessary.

    Sorry Dawn, but your boy gets no respect here with that type of ridiculousness.

  123. Trina: Here is my church before MH statement on church membership (I want to go home!):

    we have frequently been asked why we do not have “church membership” by those in the body who wish to be faithful to any pattern of church structure given in Scripture. I think that search is very noble, as we should test what we do against Scripture, and not simply traditions of men. It is for that very reason, that this particular church staff (myself included), has departed from “church membership” as it is traditionally defined, because we have deemed it an invention and precept of men. It is also my stance that this is a non-essential doctrine, that is, it is nothing to divide over, and if it weren’t for the honest questions that are asked regarding membership, I would have preferred to leave it be. However, it is an important issue for many people, so allow me to explain my position for your information:
    First, I want to clarify what you probably mean by “church membership.” Many churches require those who call themselves a part of the local body to “become” members of that church, by going through a series of requirements, like a believer’s class, counseling, baptism, and then usually followed by signing a paper, in which they are then pronounced “members.” Whatever the process may be, we do not distinguish in this way for the reasons below.

    1) We cannot find it instructed anywhere in the Bible. While it is clear that the Church is made up of “individual members” (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:20), nowhere does Scripture command us have anyone sign a paper, or have a membership system in place. So, our main reason is that church membership is not supported by Scripture, and therefore unsupported by this church body.

    2) Church membership actually stems from the tradition of the Early Church. In the 1st century, Rome had associations that were legally recognized by the government, some of which were religious. The Jewish religion, for example, was recognized by the Roman government as a legitimate, sanctioned worship structure. Since Christianity came from Jewish roots, the Roman government included it under the umbrella of Judaism, and therefore offered its approval for it. However, this was put to a stop in A.D. 64, during the time of Emperor Nero. Christianity was soon discovered to be completely different from Judaism, and the protective covering was lifted. But what is REALLY interesting is that the Early Church began to mimic Roman associations and pagan societies who had a kind of “belonging” in their groups, and so they adopted church membership in order to bring that same type of belonging to their congregations. So that’s the history of church membership; it did not originate from Scripture, but from the influence of Roman associations and pagan societies.

    Now, the last thing I want to address is the question of how we are able to practice church discipline without a membership in place. My answer is: quite well! Now let me first address the texts that deal with it: Matt. 18:17 and 1 Tim. 5:20-21. The latter text is addressed to Timothy in regards to handling an elder in the church who is sinning, so this text does not apply to members of the church. The first text does, and as far as I can see it, this text can be carried out with or without membership. In other words, membership is irrelevant. Allow me to explain…

    Church discipline is an authority that is granted to pastors of the church who exercise it whenever the appropriate situation arises, and they do so by the authority of Jesus Christ. What that means is that we as pastors do not need to know beforehand that a congregant has signed a document, before we can exercise authority. To do that is to say that our authority as church elders, and our grounds for practicing church discipline comes from that written document! And that is entirely unscriptural. A pastor’s authority comes from Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd, who has commanded us to shepherd the flock of God among us, exercising oversight (2 Pet. 5:2,4), and it doesn’t matter whether the attendees are members or not. In fact, Paul the Apostle often exercised church discipline with churches that he had never been to. Why? He was given the authority to do so, by Christ Himself.

    I will note that I don’t know of anyone ever being under church discipline which means they handled it privately.

  124. @numo

    Oh I am sure it has, can and does. I guess I was saying I never heard of anyone being put on blast church wide, and in 5 years and heavy involvement. In a small town, I never once heard the term church discipline…can’t say they did it perfectly, I don’t know, but I will say this viewpoint worked well

  125. Dave aka Appalled, Thanks! I found the name of the 15 year old son in ’96 when Larry Tomczak unexplainably confessed and walked away from PDI/SGM that he co founded. Googled Justin Tomczak and it came back as Chad Justin Tomczak dob 6/21/81 – would have been the right year of birth – a registered sex offender in MI. A sickening feeling this is the son who molested a SGM church member’s 3 year old daughter while he was babysitting for her. The boy apparently confessed the sin to Pastors and they used it to force the father Larry out of SGM Senior Pastor leadership. There is a lot rotten in Denmark if the registered sex offender is that boy! We can only suppose. I have emailed Larry Tomczak to verify, doubt I will get an answer.

  126. Sophia – the place that booted me (That Church) had/has a way of “doing” so-called church discipline – privately – that’s pretty much the same thing as shaming people publicly.

    Especially when lies are told to other members about what is actually going on with you – no, you haven’t been booted; no, nothing you’ve tried to tell a handful of friends is true; yes, it’s really very benign and you’re just dragging your feet and kicking and screaming about the “tough love” process.

    And no, you haven’t been booted; and NO, nobody was told to shun you – even though they actually were. (And told you themselves; felt really horrible about having been ordered to do it, etc. etc. etc.)

    Spin, spin, spin!!!

  127. Oh, and – they literally wanted to give me a public send-off, praying for me and “blessing me” in front of the entire congregation.

    After a certain point, I would not pick up the phone when I saw specific names and numbers on my caller i.d. The senior “pastor” (who’s still in charge) was the one I steered clear of, as he always was angry when he called and had, in a private meeting with me, been really cruel, both in words and actions.

    Of course, when someone is convinced that you’ve been lying about something you didn’t even do, the waters are impossibly muddied. There was something highly irrational about the ideas that coalesced in the “pastor’s” mind and that led to my punishment and exile.

    I was not a member, btw, though I had been going there for over 10 years, so it didn’t matter to them whether I’d officially joined the church (I hadn’t) or not.

    And I have no doubt whatsoever that they would have made things plenty uncomfortable for me had I chosen to go to another church in the area – an evangelical/charismatic type church, anyway. (Where the staff at That Church had connections.)

    As is, they seemed to know an awful lot about me – and about my personal life – that I had thought was, well – personal, and private. Not sure how they did it (I think a couple of my friends were pressured), but it certainly added to my anxiety and sense of total “now-I’ve-lost-all-my-friends”-ness.

  128. One of the major ironies: I didn’t officially join because I was wary of doing so, for the reasons discussed in recent posts.

    Of course, it’s easy enough to overlook all of that if your goal is to intimidate, and they did both.


    Re. being raised Catholic: makes sense re. liturgical churches, but you might also be surprised by the differences between most Protestant liturgical churches and the Roman Catholic church. (I don’t mean to cast Catholics or Catholicism in negative terms; imo, there are serious problems, but also a lot of good, faithful believers in the church – and I have a lot of admiration for those who’ve put up such a fight against clergy/hierarchy abuses, in the US and elsewhere.)

  129. Reading Mark 14 this morning. What a shame that all this goofiness about crazy covenants so eaxily takes our our eyes off the good xtuff. Like the marriage supper/covenant with the LAMB. Have been blessed by the TWW crowd lately.I

  130. @Eagle, Thanks. I didn’t say it was him just that it could be and the right year of birth. The offense at PDI/SGM had to be huge since Justin’s father walked away from a successful ministry that he co founded.

  131. Yvonne,

    I left this comment under the most recent post and am re-posting it here. Eagle is correct. The Internet has too much information, and we have to investigate thoroughly. 🙂

    Someone asked in a previous thread about Larry Tomczak’s son, and Dee responded that she would check into it.

    My investigation revealed that the individual mentioned is NOT the son of Larry and Doris Tomczak. I have compared photos of Tomczak’s son and the individual cited to confirm my finding.

    Justin Tomczak, Larry and Doris’ son, has a very public persona. You can Google his name and check out his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter. He is/was running for public office in Georgia. I have’t been following his campaign, so I don’t know his current status. Maybe one of our astute readers does and can chime in.

  132. I often use that example from the Last battle. It is one of the reasons that CS Lewis has fallen out of favor for some Calvinistas! Did you know that Calvinistas are God’s helpers in the judgment? — Dee

    What would God do at the Great White Throne without a Calvinista on his right hand like a Secret Police Informant to tell Him who is REALLY Saved and who is not, pointing out “Him Goat! Him Goat! Him Goat! Him Goat! Him Goat! etc”?

  133. What a shame that all this goofiness about crazy covenants so eaxily takes our our eyes off the good xtuff. Like the marriage supper/covenant with the LAMB. — GregR

    Paraphrasing a comment thread in another blog, “Only Calvinistas can take a wedding feast and turn it into a Fascist rally.”

  134. He should also know that the general church covenant-which is online as well-is renewed by creepy chant (haha) every communion Sunday with the members of the congregation. — Trina

    (Why is Danny Elfman’s “No Spill Blood” running through my head when I read that?)

    At my church, we instead “creepy chant” the Kyrie, the Gloria, and the Nicene Creed. Guess we’ve been doing it all wrong for the past 2000 years.

  135. HUG
    “Only Calvinistas can take a wedding feast and turn it into a Fascist rally.” Now that is the funniest statement of the week!

  136. As a fellow “creepy chanter” (of the Kyrie, Gloria et. al.), I got a big kick out of both Trina’s phrase and HUG’s post about the other kind of xtian creepy chanting… 😉

  137. Yvonne–

    There is a post over at SGM Surivors sometime early last year when all the info came out about CJ Mahaney blackmailing the Tomczaks regarding their sons sexual sin. If I recollect accurately, the incident(s) were never reported to the police beause leadership convinced the family not to take legal action. They did not and so no record was ever made. But if I remember correctly, another incident happened when the family had moved to a new church as well. But there is a lot of discussion and facts on the matter over there that you should check out if you want to know more about it. HTH

  138. Numo/HUG:

    There were many times where in the middle of reciting that darn covenant where I’d have this moment of disconnect, as if seeing it all from the outside, that man, this is kinda weird, creepy and cultish. But I always tried to ignore my own cognitive dissonance.

    I also remember not being a member. And when the members of the congregation were asked to stand to recite it before communion was given, it just made you feel very us and them. I remember th first time after becoming a member being able to stand with the others and it was a great feeling of pride and inclusion.

    Now I just collect ALL the lessons I’ve learned from it all. It’s incredible what we do to fill our unmet needs. It’s also incredible how needs drive us in ways we later look at and can see 20/20 in hindsight why we made the decisions we made. It’s also weird how Satan knows what those weaknesses are and is ready to “serve” us with a counterfeit that we simply don’t have the strength to refuse.

    I think a lot of people want to say that purity of doctrine and practice, solid theology and like-minded community is what attracted them, and ill give them that because i believe its true. But I think that what drives us most, in my opinion, are legitimate but unmet needs at our core. Nobody ever admits that but you take a step back and look at all the young men wanting to emulate the pastor, wanting to be in authority over someone, and take a look at all the women desperate to be married and a mom in 12 months and the others who sweat blood trying to serve everyone and everything, and all the other situations characteristic of high-demand groups, and it’s almost clear as day what the real motivations and driving forces are.

    God fulfills in many ways-through friendships, love, serving, the Word-but my experience has been that my most deepest needs, hurts and wounds were almost always filled because as others truly loved me, prayed for me and gave me comfort, the Lord simply worked in a mysterious, powerful and supernatural way that I cannot pinpoint or truly identify to fill that hole in my heart. By experience, I know there is no replacement for that power God alone possesses, but when my faith is challenged or weak, I try to control it all by grasping for all the things right in front of me that provide instant relief, no matter the cost and no matter if I even can discern that they are not genuine.

  139. Eagle
    Are they being deleted over at 9Marks? Please send us the exact comments that were deleted and we can post them here. I believe that Dever made a big mistake taking in Mahaney who, in his time at SGM would not allow a member who was under question, to leave an SGM church. But, of course, Mahaney was not allowed to do so, but he did it in a nonSGM church. This shows preference to the leaders and disregards the people that these leaders were called to serve. how very, very sad. They have failed their calling. And that is why I do not trust membership covenants.

  140. Dee,

    I have seen several of Eagle’s comments over at 9Marks, so I think they have been approved. You should read through them. I don’t think that many posts over at 9Marks get a lot of comments. Why are so many people responding to this one? 🙂

  141. Deb
    9 Marks should send you a thank you. Finally, there is some honest exchange going on over there.

  142. I do see Eagle’s Mahaney comment still, right above my plea for Bobby to talk with me about his post.

  143. Dee:

    Sorry to hear about that experience. I have suggested a series of signs for our church, if we ever get a sign at our church.

    One of them was, “We prosecute, not protect, child abusers at this church.”

    That would be a good sign, I think.

  144. Mistaken identity alert! Unless the other Dave is reading here… Though I think his comments are great! I’m going by David over there and have refrained from quite a few comments I might have made. I did so in the forlorn hope that Bobby will some time return to his blog and respond to my friendly request for dialogue. I used the phrase “I am deeply troubled on many levels.” Crickets, so far. But I don’t want to mix it up with his Hebrews 13:17 obeyers, just in case. I may try a post anyway, based on my suggested alternative, IE Friends, don’t let your friends resign into thin air.
    I tried just going by David here some time back, and suddenly there were 2 others, so I kept the nickname. Maybe I should change to Elder NYR (not yet reformed) if Trina’s TM has expired…

  145. @Trinia, Thks. Yes it does help. I believe it is important to know the facts if they are available. Know them that walk among you and mark them that walk unseemingly.

    @Numo/Hug What you describe is genuine “peer pressure” and CS Lewis’ description of the Inner Circle and how we will do anything to belong. Acceptance and the desire for it is the lust of our flesh that leads us astray. So very difficult to stand alone and not be one of the crowd.

    “My main purpose in this address is simply to convince you that this desire is one of the great permanent mainsprings of human action. It is one of the factors which go to make up the world as we know it—this whole pell-mell of struggle, competition, confusion, graft, disappointment and advertisement, and if it is one of the permanent mainsprings then you may be quite sure of this. Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the first day on which you enter your profession until the day when you are too old to care. That will be the natural thing—the life that will come to you of its own accord. Any other kind of life, if you lead it, will be the result of conscious and continuous effort. If you do nothing about it, if you drift with the stream, you will in fact be an “inner ringer.” I don’t say you’ll be a successful one; that’s as may be. But whether by pining and moping outside Rings that you can never enter, or by passing triumphantly further and further in—one way or the other you will be that kind of man.”

  146. Eagle,

    About an hour ago, I was over checking for new comments on Bobby’s 9 Marks post. I saw John’s 2/6 response to your Mahaney comment. It jumped out at me because he spelled C.J.’s name as “Maheney”. He said something along these lines: extortion is a serious charge and if you have information about this, you should report it to the authorities or notify Mark Dever. I laughed because I’m sure Dever knows all about how Mahaney blackmailed Larry Tomczak. If John was being sincere, he is absolutely CLUELESS!

    Anyway, I switched to another website and called Dee to read her John’s comment. Within a matter of minutes, John’s comment and yours VANISHED!

    As the Ergun Caner impersonator said so well, they are “GONE!”

  147. I replied to John:

    The very serious accusations against Mr Mahaney are made by Mr Tomczak himself.
    FYI — the scripture commands us, “And have mercy on those who doubt”. Eagle is one of “those”. And I doubt that he’ll be restored to faith by the type of church you advocate.
    BTW– Have you noticed that you “have the last word” in virtually every conversation here? And if if we disagree with you, that word seems to be “worldly”. I’m not sure that’s conducive to healthy conversation, is all.

    Then I got really confused when my reply went to the very end of the comments, instead of as a reply. Siince my comment contained the verboten M-word Mahaney, we’ll see how long it lasts. Right now it looks like I came in from left field, since I’m replying to something which isn’t there,

  148. Dave,

    I saw your reply to John (as cited above) over at 9Marks, and I copied and pasted it into a Word document along with the one that Eagle wrote, which was also promptly deleted.

    Here is the comment I left over at 9Marks which has not yet been published. I’m saving it here for our readers.

    “To Whom It May Concern:

    Comments are being deleted on this blog, and we are taking notice. John responded to Eagle’s comment about “Maheney” (which he spelled incorrectly) blackmailing Tomczak by saying that it is a serious charge and that he should notify authorities and /or Mark Dever.

    Within five minutes of my reading John’s comment, it disappeared along with Eagle’s comment (and possibly others).

    What are you so afraid of?”

  149. taking screenshots of these comments is a good idea… you can always upload your pics of the original comments and link to them in newer posts.

  150. It actually looked like I might be able carry on some reasonable conversation with John regarding our differing ideals of healthy church. But the powers that be deleted us both. I think the M-word must be considered the ultimate profanity.

  151. I am having a hard time understanding the quote from the OK Supreme Court. There is no valid First Amendment claim or basis if there is not governmental action (unless the church of Christ is a branch of the govt. now). Clearly torts were committed, but I am afraid if the Supreme Court of a state does not realize that the First Amendment prevents GOVERNMENT prohibitions on Freedom of Expressive Association and (to some degree after the Smith decision) Free Exercise.

  152. Former Baptist
    Could you expand on this? I think the issue is limited to whether one can freely disassociate, in writing, after joining a religious group. Once this dissociation occurs, can the church continue with public humiliation? The courts seem to think that they cannot.

  153. EXCELLENT reply (forgive the length) to Bobby J’s article by JacobS; note the legality clarification near the end.Thanks, JacobS

    Jacob S. (not verified) | 2.4.2012
    Mr. Pentecost with all due respect I understanding the underpinning message here is to not allow people to simply drift from a church and faith without first having something or someone in place to try to reconcile them back into the church before they leave.

    As far as Bobby’s supporting argument, 1 Corinthians 5 is Paul’s response to man’s highly unusual sexual conduct with his step-mother and that the church should remove him. The context here is that the church was not acknowledging it or acting upon it and Paul is drawing their eye to the sin calling them proud when they should be mourning. It is a stretch to say Paul was empowering them with the corporate responsibility to act as judge in each and every case of discipline and resignation. This is taking a mile out of an inch.

    Understanding that elders, deacons, pastors and such usually want to provide care and reconcile their brethren back into the body without ill will and hurt feelings, I would put to you that it is naive to think that this is always the case. Sometimes discipline can and does become punitive in nature, especially when members are expressing frustrations about the way in which pastors are dealing with them.

    I understand the our hope is that we all are tightly tethered to the Gospels and we all operate in a spirit of mutual respect and love towards each other… and in that light Bobby’s idea seems reasonable on its face.

    But I believe it is naive to think pastors and elders are always operating in such a manner and this opens the door to spiritual abuse from which people are far less likely to return to full engagement and fellowship in any church than they would if they walk out the door without feeling coerced or judged.

    Both Bobby and you are stating that a church can’t coerce people to stay, but what is it if a person cannot decide for themselves if they are going to leave? Allowing members to vote on someone’s resignation, especially in cases of discipline where a sinful act may have been involved, would not be lovingly reconciling someone back into the body. It would be from the perspective of the parishioner, a humiliating and degrading experience to have other’s deciding whether or not they are ALLOWED to leave.

    Ultimately 1st amendment laws of this nation do not provide protection of separation to churches where civil rights are being infringed and attendance and membership in a church in America is by law and precedent considered 100% consensual. This consent to association means a persons consents to allowing themselves to be governed by the tenets of a church. If a person removes their consent either verbally or in writing that they no longer wish to congregate, consent or associate themselves with a church, the covenant, membership or other contract is null and void. Confidentiality regarding church matters would still be in effect but a membership contract holds no effect of law beyond mutual consent.

    If a church sought to implement this method of voting on resignations they would be operating in violation of a person’s civil rights.

    I am not trying to excoriate or attack, I got a little aggravated when I first saw it because there have been multiple claims of spiritual abuse coming to the surface on the web over the last few weeks and the overstepping of churches in manners of discipline was largely the claim of the victims.

    I would say that instead of formalizing a governing rule to keep people from leaving, pastors should focus on engaging their parishioners seeking to counsel, care and love on them. This tenet of love in the church seems to be getting lost in the ever more formalized corporate structure of the Western Church.

  154. dee,

    You are correct that a church can not continue public humiliation or they will be open to lawsuits under tort theories (intentional infliction of emotional distress) and possibly some state and federal laws (such as slander/libel). But a plaintiff will be unable to assert a First Amendment claim based on harassment by a church. The Bill of Rights specifically limits the Federal Govt. (and the state governments as incorporated by 14th Amendment).

    Sorry for being overly technical. It’s not that people don’t have any recourse, it’s just not the First Amendment.

  155. Reading the case as a whole, I now understand what the OK Court is saying. It’s not that the individual can assert a First Amendment claim, rather it’s that the Free Exercise Clause doesn’t shield the tortious behavior of the Church. A church, as a private organization, doesn’t violate an individual’s !st Amend. Rights; but illegal or tortious conduct can open it (the church) up to Govt. regulation provided that any such regulation or law is one that is neutral and of general applicability (e.g. prohibiting invasions of privacy, slander, etc.).

  156. Eagle –

    Someone at Survivors suggested Judge Judy for Mahaney and SGM. My response was . . .

    Are you out of your FREAKIN mind! A woman judge! Can you imagine CJ, Dave and et al being judged by a woman. I think they’d gladly scream repentance from the rooftops in DC before they’d let that happen. But a female judge would be fitting – IMO.

  157. Eagle
    I think that 9 Marks may have inherited a troll problem. That John guy…I think I have had to deal with him before.

  158. Part 2.? Oh no… Well guess I’ll need to read it in prep for my post, “Posters, don’t let your peeps mind the fort while you vanish” or my serious topic “Friends, don’t let your friends resign into thin air”.
    Just before our conversation got deleted, I actually had hope John might start conversing with me and Eagle, instead of just name-calling and “obey your leaders”.

  159. Not sure how their comment section works, I THINK I have one in the moderation queue….. is the “SAVE” box the same as “SUBMIT” for a comment ????

  160. Eagle,

    What I find most amazing is that these 9Marks guys claim that they know what a HEALTHY CHURCH looks like.


  161. Eagle –

    A better question is “Why did Mahaney get to flee to CHBC when there were issues against him at his own church?” This is CLEARLY against their policies. CHBC has already proven that they do not practice what they preach. They have proven that they prefer favoritism. I wonder if these guys all stick together out of fear of man. If what has transpired with CJ would happen to one of the other RBDs, that RBD might then get the same treatment that he gave to CJ. It’s quite sickening to see men act this way.

  162. Eagle
    I’m thinking you should play the Jude 22 card “And have mercy on some, who are doubting”. Those disobedient to this command are living in serious, unrepentant sin. And of course, any mention of the forbidden M-word will be deleted immediately now. The big guns have been brought in. It reminds me of the Mormon elders who came to my door. The (even younger) protege was a bit flummoxed by my resistance, so the next time, the elder elder brought along a still elder elder, like Mr Carpenter who’s taken up the battle now. Good questions you asked here which I’m thinking about.

  163. Greg
    I believe Save is the same thing as submit. Be careful with John. I believe he may be a troll who has bothered our blog in the past. 9 Marks can have him.

  164. Dave
    Major warning. John may be a troll who wanders around the blogosphere taking various positions and then suddenly changing them. he caused havoc over here along with a number of other blogs. I say it is time for 9 Marks to suffer.

  165. Eagle,

    I’m not wasting my time commenting on the 9Marks blog because they failed to post my comment which contained no ugly language. In fact, here is exactly what I wrote because I copied it just before I hit SAVE and then pasted it in this thread.

    “To Whom It May Concern:

    Comments are being deleted on this blog, and we are taking notice. John responded to Eagle’s comment about “Maheney” (which he spelled incorrectly) blackmailing Tomczak by saying that it is a serious charge and that he should notify authorities and /or Mark Dever.

    Within five minutes of my reading John’s comment, it disappeared along with Eagle’s comment (and possibly others).

    What are you so afraid of?”

    Yes, they are VERY AFRAID!

  166. My post on the 9Marks blog:

    Individual Christians are members of the Church universal as well as any local body. And if 2, 3 or several people get together to share and worship together, that constitutes a church, a local body, in that place and time. Many, many local churches have been started by 2 or 3 getting together and saying that they will be church together, then going out and seeking others. It is how most first century churches came into being in the homes of people, particularly as those saved at Pentacost returned to their hometowns.

    Individuals who feel called to leave a congregation and worship in a different location are not bound by the fact of an earlier affiliation with a particular local body, either spiritually or contractually. A church that attempts to constrain those leaving is abusive, by that very effort, and not acting in a Christian manner.

  167. One comment deleted by editor. Folks, although Driscoll may enjoy comments about intimate body functions, we don’t. Go talk about that stuff over there. Good night!

  168. thanks for the help with comment submission…LORD knows I need help with all kinds of submission 🙂 They put all comments in queue for moderation; that’s OK with me, I’m not really planning to get into a long back and forth with John C, if I want frustration, I can watch KC Chiefs reruns. Have a great weekend, one and all.

  169. Interesting: I could not bother to read the rest of that stuff Johnathan Leeman wrote. I find it interesting that it appears that bobby couldn’t handke the fire so big bro came in and fended for him but also moved the blog topic to the GC site and took it over. Accordingly, they will get far more backing nd favorable responses there.

    It’s interesting that their theological harshness is acceptable and their disciplinary actions backed by Scripture but any strong arguments countering theirs as well as asking uncomfortable but blatantly honest and necessary questions that show their hypocrisy is being seen as bullying.

    Basically, dude talked junk at school, got jumped after school and went and got his crew who brought the fight into their territory so that they could win, knowing the other guy has no real chance on their side of tthe racks.

  170. Another post:

    Jesus said that where 2 or 3 gather in his name, he is present. To me, experiencing the presence of the Savior is the major purpose for worship, and worship is the major purpose of church. So, 2 or 3 together in his name is church.

    True Christians do not need some self-selected, self-appointed person who sucks money out of the people in the pew to tell them when and where to serve the Christ who died for them and promised to be present with them.

    When the senior pastor in your organization submits to an accountability group of randomly selected members of the congregation, for discipline if and when they think it necessary, then you will have a new testament church. Until then, it is a charade.

  171. That Amen was re: the charade. Not sure I’m up with being deleted, tonight. Maybe tomorrow!

  172. for what it’s worth, the conversation , so far, with Jon Leeman has been cordial, respectful, and (I hope) helpful. GregR

  173. Another 9Marks post:

    I am disagreeing with the idea that people must join a church when leaving a church. They may decide to have a home worship, just the two of them or perhaps with a friend or two. By my reading of Jesus saying, they do, in fact, constitute a church, an assembly for the purpose of worshiping Jesus Christ, and he blesses it with his presence. There may be no formal organization of a church as the civil authorities would recognize, and they may not name it, but it is the church that meets in their house. It becomes a “local body of Christ”. This is, in fact, the way most churches in the NT operated.

    Any attempt to thwart their decision to start a home worship would be contrary to the NT!!!

    I do not see any evidence in the NT of church covenants, much less signing of such a document. The name of the NT is, in fact, the covenant between God and man, revised by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Any other covenant may be a contradiction of that Covenant in the blood of Jesus, and hence heretical.

  174. Greg,
    Just read your last post. Jon certainly SEEMS to be taking a more moderate view than Bobby, but he’s his boss, and approved everything entirely in advance.

  175. This leads me to the troubling possibility that he’s trying to SEEM more moderate and compassionate. To answer your second question, it appears unless you’re officially “joining” another approved-by-current-leader organization, it’s impossible to leave except via excommunication. “Are you leaving because you plan to pursue sin unrepentantly? If so, then we need to excommunicate you. We’ve been publicly vouching that you’re a Christian.” of course we read elsewhere that failure to “join” is living in serious unrepentant sin, so….
    Totally stand by your comment as well, Arce. Most of my in-laws were in a good church we’d brought them into, before we moved to another state. Then things went south in that church, and health/wealth teachers took over. My father-in-law began home worship with the extended family. The 9-marks folks think the leaders were remiss not to excommunicate the lot of ’em.

  176. Btw I and my immediate family spent years of “unrepentant sin” in home worship groups as well.

  177. @Arce
    Any other covenant may be a contradiction of that Covenant in the blood of Jesus, and hence heretical.

    “heretical” may be too strong, but I do think, AT A MINIMUM they will compete, and you end up with what some have called “a thin gospel…” meaning strong on LAW/agreements etc and weak on grace and the finished work of CHRIST. I think that thousands of yrs after the days of JESUS walking the earth, we STILL want to go back to some kind of old covenant relationship, without calling it that, of course.

  178. Dave
    Here is the underlying problem with this whole premise of leaving while sinning situation. Everyone has some sort of sin in their lives. As my pastor often says, “Even on my best days my motives are mixed.” It appears to have been the experience of some at SGM and other churches that, upon questioning the leaders or announcing one is thinking about leaving, the leadership seem to have a penchant for delivering a pronouncement that said individual is in sin. What are these sins? Ooohhh let’s see if these sound familiar to some. “Having an unteachable spirit,” “Having a questioning spirit,” “Demonstrating an inability to submit to godly authority,” “Demonstrating the sin of pride,”…

    This stuff is an excuse to abuse people. So, watch out when they say they want intervene except for unrepentant sin. They know all about it-they practice it every day.

  179. There are three words to describe these three groups, in my ever to be humble opinion:

    (1) The Gospel Coalition (TGC)
    (2) 9Marks
    (3) Together for the Gospel (T$G – oops, I meant T4G – interesting that the dollar sign is located just above the 4 on the keyboard…)


    Actions speak much louder than words. These guys can use the word “Gospel” all they like to describe themselves, but we see what’s really going on…

  180. I’m more appalled by Jonathan’s friendly veneer over evil than Bobby’s. Did you see he ( Jon) is now promting an upcoming “membership” book.?
    Greg. Earlier I overlooked the reply to you where they compare themselves to NASA and us to flat-earthers!

  181. One excerpt, “the church’s representative authority in Christ’s kingdom is seen most clearly in its ability to remove a person from citizenship in Christ’s kingdom”
    He then goes on to admit that all such “churches” make mistakes. Too bad, so sad for the poor sap who got his /her citizenship in Christ’s kingdom revoked by mistake. Then he finishes by assuring us that being removed from Christ’s kingdom won’t necessarily keep us out of heaven.

  182. “the church’s representative authority in Christ’s kingdom is seen most clearly in its ability to remove a person from citizenship in Christ’s kingdom”

    Oh, how they love that word, “Authority”. Oh, how they love to own the things that belong only to God. Poor saps really believe that they have the authority to remove a person’s citezenship from Christ’s Kingdom. What an extraordinary display of delusion.

  183. @Dee: had the same thought myself; who among us does NOT have some unrepentant sin they are holding onto ??…. beuhler…beuhler…. If this is a deal breaker for leaving church, well, I should still be RC, not that they’ve been asking for me back or anything. And does the continual drum beat of “the keys, the keys, the keys…..” remind anyone else of any other authoritarian group(s) ?

  184. “the church’s representative authority in Christ’s kingdom is seen most clearly in its ability to remove a person from citizenship in Christ’s kingdom”

    How odd to pick this one thing out of all the things we do as ambassadors for Christ. Showing someone to proverbial door is more Christlike than anything else you can do ?? Even if I believed in their form of church discipline, this would still be a bizarre statement.

  185. Mara–

    …and I sat under this type of teaching for 2 years with them. Can you believe it? On the flipside, Johnathan is a very caring and personable person. I know him personally. I totally disagree with his theology.


    I’m in! Gassin’ up the ride as we speak! hahahha

    Overall, I am not shocked by what Johnathan is saying. As Dee/Deb said above, they believe they have the authority do determine and implement such actions.

    What’s further interesting is that if these guys were say, in an IFB church, they’d never be asked into membership. IFB legalism is even worse than this. Can you imagine? Holiness is rather subjective. Of course, God is Holy and it’s hard to put itno words and into view how pure that holiness is. To say that you have the power to determine the level of holiness in an individual is ridiculous, and just as bad to think you have the power and discernment to determine if someone is desiring to continue in unrepentant sin. Neither are measurable by our own standards.

    What’s discouraging and sad is to see that they are not getting that they really dont have the omniscience to judge people in the way that they are. They presume much sin on the part of the leav-er and nothing on the part of leadership.

    I see that Jon tried to clear up that this is assuming there is good leadership. I dont agree wtih his argument that regardless of bad leaders, these rules we are not to disregard. For them, it’s more about keeping to the traditions of Scripture and the “truth” as they see it, rather than to examine the truth they believe in light of the fruit it produces. Not every reason man disagrees wtih has to do with his own sin, and often can be because he can see through it all and judge that this isn’t a good thing or what God is trying to convey.

    I often want to ask them if they want to be so biblical, then why are the women in their churches allowed to speak at all? Why are the women allowed to adorn themselves with costly array, gold, jewels. Why are the women allowed to braid their hair? If you want to take Paul literally in all the other versus, then how do you determine that he’s changed his voice in this and merely is speaking to the culture and social mores of that time? Why then, can you not follow the same line of thinking for the rest of it? Was Paul that much of a schizzo?

  186. Greg: just poured myself a cold frosty amber-colored beverage– cream soda — to drown my sorrows. If these folks had been around in 1517, they’d have told Herr Luther– wir haben die KEYS KEYS KEYS yust obey der Fuehrer (leader)– Das POPE
    OK gonna shut up now lest I become like a certain “John”

  187. Little known fact: Dever started his career as a minister at Topsfield (Mass.) Congregational Church (United Church of Christ).

    Here is the church’s website:

    This was in the mid-1980s before he founded the now defunct New Meadows Reformed Baptist Church there.

  188. Dave
    I bet the reason the wrote this post was to do a little prehype for the book. But, TWW has something up our sleeves that is going to surprise them and it isn’t the book that we are writing with Wade Burleson. We will announce it to our blog audience at the end of next week and we won’t be making any money off of it either! How’s that for hype!

  189. Jerome
    O grew up in Salem and attended the Topsfield Fair every year. This is one a need to look at. I wonder how he faired in that environment?

  190. Jerome –

    Wow! I don’t think the family structure portrayed in the link would sit well with the 9Marks folks!

  191. I see that Jon tried to clear up that this is assuming there is good leadership. I don’t agree with his argument that regardless of bad leaders, these rules we are not to disregard. For them, it’s more about keeping to the traditions of Scripture and the “truth” as they see it, rather than to examine the truth they believe in light of the fruit it produces.

    @Trina: conversation is bogging down a bit over @Mark9. I might make some sort of summary comment, and leave it at that. I think your comment about “truth” weighed against “fruit” is spot on. It’s one thing to know a dozen verses about love, it’s another thing to have an awareness if our day to day activity and behavior is gathering for us what we are preaching. Interesting that Jesus never said: “You shall know them by their well thought out theologies…” Hopefully, well thought out theology produces fruit, but to know that, look at your life,not just your words.

    My impression of Jon L. is like yours: I think he is very pastoral in heart, with a theology that actually works against him. I think he will figure that out over the long haul. LOL: maybe find a counseling niche in an ELCA church down the road. 🙂

  192. GregR

    Wade did a talk in which he asked a question.Does your theology trump love? Many people need to ask themselves this question. And if anyone thinks I am saying “Anything goes,” you have not been reading our blog very carefully.

  193. Greg I agree. Not sure if he so intended, but Jon L’s actions in deleting civil conversations like one I’d just begun with John C certainly promoted the “bogging down”. Speaking of whom, I tracked down John C’s church website and listened to a sermon. He likewise seems to have a pastoral heart toward his congregation. Only one very odd thing– on the home page, where you’d expect a picture of Pastor John, is a video by Mark Dever!

  194. Dave

    Someone I know said it quite well. Even pastors and elders sin so there must be oversight. Instead we have Driscoll like weirdos stating that they are in charge. They have no problem confronting everyone else’s sin. They, however, are beyond questioning. The devil is in the details. Some people sound very good but what happens when the rubber meets the road. now that is when you see how good a pastor is. Here is a post i wrote about Wade Burleson and Pete Briscoe. Use their responses as a tool to help you assess any ministry. link

  195. Does your theology trump love?

    Change this to “Does my theology trump love, and how can I change that ??” This is a great daily self-examination, IMO.

  196. Jon,

    9Marks is so wrapped up in its theology and its organizational structure, that everyone affiliated therewith reads everything from a peculiar perspective. It is called “group think”, and you all have a bad case of it. In your congregations, theology trumps love, and therefore, denies Jesus statements on love, as well as the statements elsewhere, as in the end of Corinthians 12 and all of 13. Church discipline systems rarely operate lovingly for very long, if at all, especially if they are pursuing theological purity.

    Jesus did not reference theology in Matthew 25, but he did reference what a love for him would look like, and what it takes to get to heaven, and it is all serving those in need because we love Jesus. That is, that our love for him would so pervade our lives that we would love all that he loved.

    Your discussions leave me cold. As a lawyer, I know how to carry out those kinds of discussions, and lawyers have them all of the time. Jesus did not teach that way. As a psychologist and theologian, I can say that all of you are blind to the anti-love implications of such arguments.

  197. Jon: one problem , among many, with their interpretation is that by making such a general statement about the nature of the church’s authority, and about what constitutes “the keys”, you can justify really everything and anything. They never got around to looking at the rest of the NT to see how this was applied, with the exception of 1Cor 5 , where the sin in question was about as severe as one could imagine. Then, to make matters worse, they extrapolated out from that horrendous example, as if Paul would have corrected anyone for just about anything , based on what he did in Corinth.

    I’ll repeat what I said to Trina: I think Jonathan does have a pastoral heart, he cares for people, but the theology here is weak and will not produce what he, and we, want: solid disciples.


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