AOR Letdown, Mark Driscoll’s SBC Putdown and Redemption Groups Rundown

Archbishop – A Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Christ.  H. L. Mencken
 

bluebirds about 3 hours after out of shell
Hungry bluebirds about 4 hours after breaking through their shells

Did Ambassadors of Reconcilaition wound the wounded?

Today, I am deeply irritated by the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report. I always knew that the report would “exonerate” CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries so that business would continue as usual. Bit I never imagined, in so doing, that AOR would utilize the emotional communication with hurting people as an assessment tool. To relay that those who have been hurt are communicating with “clenched fists” is despicable. To this sinful blogger(The most sinful blogger on the planet) it seems as if the pastors were portrayed as so nice and pleasant. The wounded, can you believe it, were portrayed as, get ready for this, still upset! And that is very sinful and bad,  I think.

Were these supposed “professionals” being cruel, were they naïve, or were they untrained in the art of helping the hurting? Good going, boys. From my view in the moderately priced seats, you appear to have heaped more condemnation on the heads of those already wounded.

As you all probably know, SGM and CJ are exiting stage left and hightailing it to Louisville where they will be under the protection of Al Mohler and SBTS. This comes as no surprise to TWW. We have been documenting the growing “relationship” between the Reformed Baptist leaders and CJ Mahaney. We predict that this relationship will continue to be close unless Mahaney attempts to degift Mohler.


Did Mark Driscoll insult the Non-Reformed members of the SBC?

There appears to be a growing closeness between the Reformed crowd in the SBC and other Reformed groups such as Acts 29 and Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill network. In fact there seems to be some movement to give money to the Acts 29 network for church planting. But there is one itty bitty problem. The non-Reformed group, which is quite large in the SBC, have no love for Mark Driscoll. Did our readers know that there has been some attempt at SBC gatherings to censure Mark Driscoll?

That is why we find a comment made by Mark Driscoll on his blog most interesting. He wrote, what he most likely perceived to be an amusing post here, about the conflict brewing over his appearance at Liberty University. Why do I perceive that Driscoll's attempts at humor come across as thinly veiled anger? I have highlighted the phrase in question.

"The trouble started with a Southern Baptist blogger . . . yes, you should have seen that one coming. Now, to be fair, the blogger quoted an anonymous “source.” And, we all know that almost everything bloggers say is true. But, when they have something as solid as an anonymous “source,” then you can rest assured that when Jesus talked about the truth over and over in John, this is precisely what he was referring to. I have a degree from Washington State’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and worked professionally as a journalist, and I can assure you that The Kerfuffle is a very serious matter to be taken with the utmost sobriety and propriety. In fact, one anonymous “source” I spoke to said that Watergate pales in comparison."

Driscoll is referring to blogger Peter Lumpkins. Lumpkins, and this is important, is a non-Reformed Southern Baptist pastor who has a well known blog called SBC Tomorrow. He has written a number of posts opposing Mark Driscoll’s apparent popularity with the SBC Reformers. For example, he wrote disparagingly of Danny Akin’s (SEBTS president) endorsement of Mark Driscoll’s latest sex book. On April 4, Lumpkins wrote a scathing post here on the decision by Liberty University to invite Driscoll to speak on campus in which he revealed that an anonymous source said the LU trustees were not thrilled with Driscoll’s invitation.

The SBC has been deeply divided over Driscoll and his Acts 29 network. We wonder if the recent transfer of the Acts 29 network presidency to Matt Chandler may have been due, in some small part, to controversy within the SBC over Driscoll. In other words, this might ensure more funding from the SBC for Acts 29 plants. Her are a couple of blogs to read. Link and Link.

That is why we find the above comment of interest. Driscoll claims to have a degree in Communications and also worked as a journalist. For a guy who is so educated, he seems to consistently stick his foot in his mouth. He could use some remedial training. But, assuming he is saying what he means to say, I believe Driscoll may have just dissed the non-Reformed Baptists in the SBC by his statement.

“The trouble started with a Southern Baptist blogger . . . yes, you should have seen that one coming.”

At first blush, one might think that he is only referring to bloggers in general who have been thorns in Driscoll’s side. But, since Driscoll is blogging, he isn’t talking about all bloggers, just specific types of bloggers.

Do you note that he refers to Lumpkins as an SBC blogger? Driscoll is most likely well aware the Lumpkins is not Reformed in his perspective and is probably cognizant that Lumpkins has written a fair number of hard hitting posts aimed at Driscoll. In Driscollspeak, Reformed bloggers are truthful and non-Reformed bloggers are not truthful.

Here is my assessment: It is possible that Driscoll is irritated by those in the SBC who do not fall all over themselves to hold him up as a man’s man pastor. Therefore, it appears to me that the side of the SBC of which Lumpkins is a part, probably just got insulted by a miffed off Driscoll.


Code Red: Avoid Redemption Groups

Deb and I are pretty well read about trends in the faith. So, it came as a surprise to us that we knew little of a process at Mars Hill known as Redemption Groups until some readers informed us of their existence. We also believe that they possibly could be found at other churches in the Acts 29 network.

We will write more on the subject in the future but we are concerned about the possible damage that such groups might inflict on unsuspecting individuals so we have included this here as a sort of early warning system.

We have received confirmation that these groups at Mars Hill used to be called “Grace Groups.” They have now morphed into “redemption groups.” From what we have read, these groups appear to be a gussied up version of the abusive “sensitivity groups” of the 1970s. The idea of this process is to get at the “root” of you sin. And you’d better be prepared to share some really personal, uncomfortable stuff or you will be leaned on until you do.

Here is the fatal flaw of these groups. It is based in some sort of strange theology that, if you confess your deepest, darkest sin to some people who have read the right book, you can, with the “help” of the group and leader, overcome that sin. Not only that, you can find all of your sin with careful introspection. There is supposedly training involved for the "lead sin sniffer" but we will let you see for yourself if that training is sufficient to handle serious issues.

We want you to remember what happened to Andrew of Mars Hill when he confessed his sin. Once the group leader knows about your specific sin, you are at risk of being disciplined. And that, in the Mars Hill system, is deeply disturbing to us. Imagine if your sin got posted on the internet for your small group to see. Heck, you might even get shunned. Oh, if you don’t confess enough juicy sin, you may be poked and prodded relentlessly until you do. If you weren’t hurting before this process, you most likely will be once they get through with you.Here are two links to get you going. Link and Link

We have included three comments found at our blog on this issue. We have also received communication from impeccable sources that this is an ongoing process at Mars Hill. Oh, by the way I wonder if I can get in trouble with using the words, Redemption Groups. It appears that Mars Hill may have trademarked Redemption, which you might notice if you go to the links. Do you think Mars Hill lawyers would have sued Jesus and Paul for using that word?

Once again, this post is only a cursory look at the issue. Get informed. Be careful. If you are already involved and are uncomfortable, leave the group. If you have participated in such a group and are having difficulty in dealing with the aftermath, we highly recommend a good counselor. Bent Myer is linked on our blog and we feel he might be particularly helpful in this regard.

1. "Who wants to play a game? I dusted off my copy of Redemption…the handbook for redemption groups by Mike Wilkerson.
What’s wrong with this quote for Mark Driscoll (besides being a run on sentence)?
“This good news is far superior to despising others for sin, excusing sin hiding sin, partially confessing sin, denying sin, becoming defined by sin, minimizing sin, giving in to sin, being ruled by sin, accepting sin, or ignoring sin, because /this good news actually redeems from sin when accompanied by a lifestyle of humble and biblical faith and repentance.”

2. "To add a few more things to what David already wrote about “redemption groups”:
1)”Redemption groups” look good paper only, the way they practice is harmful. I physically got sick and threw up when I got home after some intense sessions.
2)If the person resists revealing things about himself for whatever reason, the group would shame him, gang up to attack, denounce him as prideful, hypocritical, out of touch, in a rather brutal manner. Accusations, judgments, shaming are leveled against those who do not play their game.
2)The ugliest Christians are those whom I met in a redemption group at Mars Hill. I had never met anyone of them before walking into the first session; yet, they seemed to know all about my sins and wanted God to break my heart because of my sin. It felt like I was taken captive by the enemy and tortured so that they could get a confession out of me. Cruelty was the word. Is it reasonable to demand vulnerability from strangers? or is it sheer madness?
3)The devil likes to hide himself behind religion and church groups to wreak havoc in the church and the people who run these groups do not see the spiritual warfare aspect of it. “Lord, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.”
Vulnerability is a key word.
Sin-seeking, Redemption Group, Mars Hill small group
Another term might be: “Vulnerability Group”.
Strategy: Get people to let go of their natural hesitance to expose themselves and become vulnerable.
Goal: For some I’m sure it’s predatory – a way to control people through veiled fear and intimidation. For others who have been trained to be a leader of a Vulnerability Group they are told that getting people to become vulnerable and share their stuff will lead to healing and group cohesiveness / closeness and therefore good."

3.I went through the Mars Hill small group leader training although not as part of Mars Hill. The person leading the training for our church was something like a “Divisional Coach” at Mars Hill and came out to “help” us.
Anyway, here’s how it’s supposed to work.

Leader: Make yourself vulnerable to your group by sharing something about yourself that would make everyone in the group uncomfortable if they were to have to share it. This will create awkwardness and the group will naturally try to cover it up to make you feel less vulnerable. Don’t let them. Tell them they instead need to probe deeper, to get at the heart of the issue. Tell them they must press through the extreme uncomfort in order to reach true release and healing. Tell them deep underlying sin is what keeps people from letting it all out and that ultimately they will never be free until they do let it all out.

Group Member: Starts to feel all kinds of internal pressure. Maybe there is something really wrong with me for not wanting to become exposed and vulnerable. Maybe I do have deep “sin” issues. If I don’t share or leave the group everyone will think I’m some sort of evil perverted monster. If I do share people will always think of me as a ______.

The result of this is people become pressured into exposing themselves and then after a few weeks, a person’s natural resistance becomes less and less. Then in a sick way it becomes normal behavior to share stuff about you that basically is just plain inappropriate to share in a group setting let alone a group where people may barely know each other.

I have found that the long term result of this (while maybe not during the time period of the meetings but later down the road) is shame that you went against that little voice in your head telling you something is really wrong with this. It doesn’t free you from whatever your revealed “sin issue” was it just creates more issues. It also causes one to feel “labeled” with whatever thing it is they share – becoming even more bound up by it.

It’s pure darkness. True openness and vulnerability happen in the context of a respectful, PROVEN, loving and caring relationship. In this type of relationship there can be true release resulting in the exact opposite of “labeling”. I believe there is a time and place for openness and vulnerability and that it can be healing but it is certainly NOT in a Vulnerability Group setting."

Lydia's Corner: Ezekiel 16:42-17:24 Hebrews 8:1-13 Psalm 106:13-31 Proverbs 27:7-9

Comments

AOR Letdown, Mark Driscoll’s SBC Putdown and Redemption Groups Rundown — 129 Comments

  1. “We wonder if the recent transfer of the Acts 29 network presidency to Matt Chandler may have been due, in some small part, to controversy within the SBC over Driscoll. In other words, this might ensure more funding from the SBC for Acts 29 plants. Her are a couple of blogs to read. Link and Link.”

    I don’t think it is a case of ensuring more funding for Acts 29. Sojourn, affilited with Baptist21 is Akin’s son and they are BIG Driscollites. I think it was more of a case of saving face and keeping jobs. I think Driscoll had to go (he is still on the board of Acts 29) and Scott Thomas who used Acts 29 resources to go after Petry had to step down.

    I think this was about the convention coming up and they can say, Driscoll who?

    Ed Setzer of Lifeway (big Driscoll/Acts 29 supporter) ran a blog post yesterday quoting Akin about Biblical sex teaching. It is quite interesting. It was mainly dumbing down Driscoll’s teaching into more palatable bites…to save face for teaming up with such a man. Basically it shows SBC leadership to have NO wisdom or discernment.

    Now with CJ moving to Louisville to “plant a church” and backing Driscoll, the porn/sodomy preacher, they are into big time damage control before the convention.

  2. I read the report. Ambassadors of Reconciliation; interesting “title.” However, no one who was hurt was reconciled. The only “reconciliation” was with the leadership, which will go on as usual.

    “From what we have read, these groups appear to be a gussied up version of the abusive “sensitivity groups” of the 1970s.” You are exactly right. I know people who were sat down in chairs, in front of their small group and badgered until they “confessed.” One is still on medication because shortly after this, she began to hear voices telling her to harm herself.

    This is nothing more than men seeking power (and wealth) by taking advantage of others in the name of God.

  3. I have had very limited experience with a Redemption group. I would say that the potential for abuse may be greater or lesser depending on the people leading it.

    I don’t feel comfortable right now divulging my personal experience within this particular group, but I will also say that I understand a lot better why people would be reluctant to “go deep” with their very personal issues. I ended up confessing a detail of my life that quite frankly should have been discussed only with a pastor or CG leader; I did this after another guy in the circle confessed a related sin, and at what I thought was the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    That may have in fact been true, but I can also see an element of peer pressure. Well, it freaked me out so much I decided to end my participation in that group, which I did without any problem.

    (For what it’s worth, deep and intimate confessions were encouraged in the Community Groups while I was there. I assume that idea also comes from Mars Hill.)

    I think I still have that notebook somewhere. I’ll have to look for it.

  4. AOR issue: this cannot be surprising. SGM like so many churches are against mental health professionals and so they use trained Christian counselors who use Biblical counseling. Christian counselors point out sin and can help in the reconciliation process; however, they are not experts on mental disorders caused by abuse: PTSD, dissociation, etc. AOR most likely caused even more pain/damage to the victims who have suffered. They simply reopened the wounds. Very sad :(

    Redemptive Groups: This sounds exactly like the small groups of SGM: http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/Product/B3150-00-60/Why_Small_Groups_BOOK_CHAPTERS_Download_Set.aspx

    When you read story after story from SGMSurvivor blog or SGMRefuge, so many of the abuses take place in these small groups: sin sniffing, reporting of all sins to the pastor, shunning, etc. Scary stuff.

  5. Randall
    I swear these people are so deluded. There is plenty of evidence from the past that this stuff is harmful. Oh well, they are producing the next generation of people who will need counseling. I wonder if Mars Hill can give people discount coupons?

  6. Driscoll worked as a professional journalist? Okay, let’s see his actual CV on that, since he keeps bringing it up.

  7. Anon1 said this. “I don’t think it is a case of ensuring more funding for Acts 29. Sojourn, affilited with Baptist21 is Akin’s son and they are BIG Driscollites. I think it was more of a case of saving face and keeping jobs. I think Driscoll had to go (he is still on the board of Acts 29) and Scott Thomas who used Acts 29 resources to go after Petry had to step down.”

    Sojourn actually just pulled it’s church planting group out of Acts 29, which probably did contribute to naming Chandler as president. Ed Stetzer has done a few posts on abusive ministries. I think the SBC, even the reformed ones, are seeing Driscoll’s problems and trying to distance themselves.

    Here’s Sojourn’s too nice post on why they left Acts 29. http://sojournnetwork.com/acts-29/

  8. 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
    Interesting quote by Warren Wiersbe on Paul dealing with sin in the Corinthian church:

    “Paul first attacked the serious problem of defilement in the church, yet he said nothing about the problem itself, Instead, he took the positive approach and reminded the believers of their high and holy position in Jesus Christ.” (From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright (c) 1989 by SP Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.)

    Looks like SGM could learn a thing or two from Paul…

  9. Hi Rory, Thanks for the link to the announcement. Check the date. Timely, huh? The announcement is full of the arrogant bravdo these YRR guys are full of.

    Thing is, Sojourn is immersed with Driscoll DNA. They are simply “rebranding” the image. I know people who go there. Besotted with Driscoll so couching this change in terms of a “new vision” makes total sense. Can’t be seen to lack in wisdom and discernment. They really don’t see that Driscoll has done or said anything wrong. Same with Chandler. He has been on Acts29 Board for a while now and had no probs with Driscoll. But Driscoll has become a public albatross and could hurt the numbers and funding so they are quietly changing things and “casting a new vision” for us. Isn’t that nice?

  10. There was no reason on the surface for them to have sent out that release, either…only to address any questions about Driscoll.

  11. Can Mark Driscoll quit throwing punches long enough to deal with his own problems privately in his own life? I don’t hate the guy, I think he needs help from people close to him who will love him. I’m sure he can get over his pride, misogyny and hurtful attitudes. Christ and the cross have certainly overcome much, much worse than these common character flaws.

    But seriously, Mark, spend your energy doing that, INSTEAD of spending your energy coming up with snarky comments about bloggers just because you’re embarrassed that they hit the nail on the head about you.

  12. It funny that even though Redemption Groups are one of the foundations of MH
    And usually the pool from where their future leaders come from, it is rarely discussed. As a MH survivor who suffered spiritual abuse and have gotten out, I have yet to see anything written on the blogs re: RGs. I went through RG and was being groomed for leadership and am so God saved me from that before I did to someone else as a leader what was done to me. It shocking and hurtful, as I am still recovering, and I’m glad it is finally being brought into the light.

  13. Bob Felton,

    I love your comment!

    Dee and I are in a contest for the most sinful blogger on the planet. :P

  14. FS member –

    I hope you are doing ok with your current church situation. I would not feel pressured to share a sin issue with anyone unless you know them very well, they have a desire to help you because you have expressed an interest in their help before you share, and you believe they could actually help you. If it is something in the past that is no longer an issue and you have repented to God, then there is no need to share it with anyone. It is finished, dead and buried! Sometimes close Christian friends, who know you well, are much better in this situation than even a pastor.

  15. Dee,

    I’m thinking of all the Liberty students I know who will be hearing Driscoll tomorrow. I’m relieved my daughter is at a public university.

  16. Dee said, ” We predict that this relationship will continue to be close unless Mahaney attempts to de-gift Mohler.”

    Pretty funny actually.

  17. I’ve only stopped by this website a few times before, mostly because I wanted to understand what the controversies surrounding C.J. Mahaney and Mark Driscoll were. It’s been enlightening. I was struck by the topic in this post because of Mars Hill’s abusive use of confession of sin, so I felt compelled to post a comment. If you go to You Tube and look up ToryMagoo44’s channel you’ll find that she’s been doing a series on the characteristics of abusive cult practice and Scientology’s use of “confession” to gain power over their members. It sounds like Mars Hill is employing similar practices that experts who study abusive, controlling cults have identified as marks of a cult. Since this lady was a member of Scientology for 30 years, I think she has some valuable insights that might help people see these tactics for what they are. Here’s the link and I hope it helps: http://www.youtube.com/ToryMagoo44

  18. Deb
    Weird that State would never allow Driscoll to officially speak because of his misogynistic statements.Why do Christians believe that his statements are OK?

  19. Former Sojourn member mentioned,

    “I ended up confessing a detail of my life that quite frankly should have been discussed only with a pastor or CG leader.”

    I’m truly wondering what it is about a pastor or CG leader that specially qualifies them to be confessed to. This assumption that it’s just the done thing, that “of course, a person confesses sins to a pastor (or some unknown quantity of a person who was given a “CG Leaer” hat).

    I understand the “confess your sins one to another” bit. This confess to my pastor or CG leader thing is just so codified. So institionalized.

    When I need to come clean on something, I talk to (or “confess”) the person(s) directly involved in my situation. If that is not possible, I talk to my husband or a very close friend(s).

    I have a feeling that generally speaking, people know more about what professional christians think than they do about what’s actually in the bible, and not in the bible.

  20. Abq…I am so sorry for your pain. I have not been able to write about RGs as I never attended one. I do find what I read in the book to be troubling…and other’s accounts awful.

    Please let me know if there is any way I can support you!

  21. From what we have read, these groups appear to be a gussied up version of the abusive “sensitivity groups” of the 1970s. The idea of this process is to get at the “root” of you sin. And you’d better be prepared to share some really personal, uncomfortable stuff or you will be leaned on until you do.

    Ah, yes, Comrade. “Enlightened Self-Criticism Before Commissars of The Party.”

    Ever wonder if the only difference between Christians and Communists, Calvinistas and Stalinistas is which Party Line they quote and recite?

  22. Redemption, page 131
    “If we do not allow conviction to lead us to godly sorrow over our sin, then our pain-filled cries to God will degenerate into mere begging that he take away bad feelings instead of pleas for him to show his grace and mercy and change our hearts.” (who determines if sorrow is godly or “worldly”?)
    “For Philip, conviction came only after he became desperate enough to seek the help of a discerning pastor. He’d already been in a twelve-step group for some time, and he did make some modest gains in restraining his behavior, but his marriage was still falling apart. As Philip went to meet the pastor, he still found his identity in his addiction (a perspective his 12-step group seemed to support). It was a burden that he–and more importantly, his wife–would just have to bear; and it was stressing their marriage. Philip expected the pastor to understand this and comfort him under the weight of this burden.
    But as they talked, the pastor detected Philip’s blindness and worldly sorrow and instead confronted him with the reality that his habitual sin was voluntary slavery, a distortion of worship, a love of evil, and a collusion with the enemy to attack his wife and destroy their marriage.

  23. It funny that even though Redemption Groups are one of the foundations of MH
    And usually the pool from where their future leaders come from, it is rarely discussed.
    — Abq

    Only when you have been completely broken by The System will you be allowed to rise within The System. Just like the end of the 1984 movie adaptation of 1984.

  24. Dee…Christians think his statements are okay because we are comfortable with women being treated as separate but (not) equal, and have believed the gender gospel for far too long.
    Sad thing is some women are more staunch defenders of it than men…I don’t get why?

  25. Only when you have been completely broken by The System will you be allowed to rise within The System. Just like the end of the 1984 movie adaptation of 1984.

    I know we hate to throw around the word cult, but when I am researching issues surrounding MH somehow, the answers always end up coming from the cult websites.
    The more stories I hear, the more it resonates. I know it is a loaded word, so maybe we could come up with a code word :)

  26. “I’m thinking of all the Liberty students I know who will be hearing Driscoll tomorrow. I’m relieved my daughter is at a public university”

    Oh, the irony. Nothing worse than this faux Christianity in the Name of Jesus.

    Which reminds me: I recommend people do due diligence before they join any church. They might be enabling sin and then they might not be able to get out!

    FSM, When CJ gets his church planted, I am thinking of sending “Leo” links to sgmsurvivors stories. If Leo runs something then perhaps other local media will pick it up. I cannot stand Leo but they have to be good for something! At the very least, unsuspecting people can be warned. But then again, it sounds like a church plant for existing Christians. Now that is irony!!!!

  27. “Dee…Christians think his statements are okay because we are comfortable with women being treated as separate but (not) equal, and have believed the gender gospel for far too long.”

    I have been pleasantly surprised at many comp women I am talking to who are calling Mark Driscoll a misogynist. They are usually the non Reformed, though.

    Sadly, they don’t see the connection with what Mark teaches and what CBMW has been teaching. Mark is just vulgar and in your face about it so it resonates.

  28. “Christians think his statements are okay because we are comfortable with women being treated as separate but (not) equal, and have believed the gender gospel for far too long.”

    Yep.

    And we are scared into supporting it by people who brandish the label of “feminist” and use it like some kind of weapon to shut others up.

    Because, y’know, those feminists, they shall be a-roastin’ in eternity. ;)

  29. Sophia
    So Driscoll really is a name it and claim it type of guy after all. He just does it with sin.

  30. I am trying to figure out how this “redemption group” stuff squares with their doctrine of total depravity even after saved? How can they live in such cognative dissonance? It sounds like such chaotic mystical darkness to me.

  31. “I know it is a loaded word, so maybe we could come up with a code word”

    Dictatorship of the Prolateriat?

    Re-education camps?

  32. Do we see that Philip was spiritually abused in this situation? They basically type it out for you how they handle anyone with sin (which is all of us). Collusion with the enemy to attack his wife? REALLY???

  33. sad observer,

    I have always disdained the feminist label…and now I suppose I have become one :) I prefer advocate for women but hey whatever. Jesus was a “feminist” as well…he advocated for women all the time and used them…as my friend Jim likes to say, women were his favorite group of outsiders. If you compare how Jesus behaved towards women and what Paul said in his letters, they don’t jive. I would rather follow Jesus example and err on the side of grace than oppression.

  34. Our daughter is deeply enmeshed at Mark’s Hill, uh I mean Mars Hill. We call the Redemption Groups re-education camps. She would call us and recite a litany of her sins sounding just like a prisoner forced to read a statement.

    Part of the reason for these groups to hear personal information is to be able to hold it over their heads if they ever choose to leave.

  35. I was going to begin my sentence with I wonder…but in reality we all know what this “reconciliation” was. It was a trap. The report is public and it was meant to make SGM look good…and those hurt by SGM look bad. It was a cleverly devised trap. It was intended as a trap. That’s all this was. I am so angry.

  36. elastigirl, 10:02:

    Community Groups are intended to be mini churches, the places where people plug into the church. The idea is that going to the Sunday service with everyone else isn’t enough, that one best plugs into the body of believers through involvement with a CG.

    Sojourn, Mars Hill and other Reformed churches are not alone in utilizing the small group model; many evangelical churches, including Willow Creek, Saddleback and Calvary Chapel, have a similar setup.

    The CG leader effectively acts in the role of pastor/counselor that many people expect out of the pastor of a typical church. Community group leaders are trained to act in a pastoral and counseling role.

    The City of God blog post from a few days ago references Driscoll’s Catholic background as an explanation on Mars Hill’s philosophy of church discipline, confession and comprehensive Christian education, starting from toddlers.

    http://www.cityofgodblog.com/2012/04/mark-driscoll-roman-catholic/

    That might explain, at least in part, why the idea of confessing sins to a pastor/CG leader is prevalent in Mars Hill and Mars Hill-influenced churches.

    Anon1, 10:26:

    His reference to Leo is LEO Magazine, Louisville’s alt-weekly newspaper that was founded by Representative John Yarmuth (its Seattle equivalent I presume would be The Stranger).

  37. Former sojourn member – small groups (whatever one calls them) have been part and parcel of much evangelical/charismatic church life since the 1970s.

    I do not think this has much – if anything – to do with Driscoll or the fact that he was raised Catholic. (Something he thoroughly repudiates in his most recent book, which contains some cruel – truly scathing – remarks about his childhood parish priest.)

  38. forgot to say that I have a suspicion that the shepherding/discipleship movement had something to do with the whole small group thing, though not all discipleship movement groups took up the practice.

    One group that comes directly from discipleship movement roots that *did* start having small groups (aka “care groups”) early in its history: SGM.

    I suspect that Driscoll and MH have taken their cues from already existing churches and parachurch movements rather than being in any way innovative (in this and other areas).

    fwiw, small groups are a hallmark of controlling, authoritarian organizations, be they commercial, religious or political.

  39. Disclaimer: I think small groups can be very good, but it depends on what goes on in them and how they’re run.

    SGM and MH are two examples of the wrong way, to be sure!

  40. I find the idea of these redemption groups rather frightening not because I think trying to be pleasing to God is bad, but because barely trained counselors should not be getting into people’s heads.

    I’ve read part of Wilkerson’s book and wasn’t thrilled — its also really boring, but that’s something else. Things like addiction are often rooted or exacerbated by trauma. (I have a lot of clients who are addicts.)

    Support groups can be good if they’re, well-supportive and safe. Confrontational therapy experiences should be very carefully managed by well-qualified people who know what they’re doing and that are well, safe. Rapport and trust are essential in therapy or addiction treatment. I don’t know how you could get along without them.

  41. I am wondering if Driscoll’s “journalistic” experience is tied with just WSU’s Daily Evergreen. I came across one article that someone commented on regarding homosexuality (posted in a google newsgroup from 1992). I was there at the same time as Driscoll, but don’t recall his op ed pieces. I am curious if they have an archive available.

  42. It is very disturbing that members’ hard earned money, that they give sacrificially to the church, is being used to pay for Mark Driscoll’s “community relations” guy. This money should be used to help the poor and the oppressed, not cover his butt when he makes his horrible comments.

    Also, Mark has a way of discrediting all of his critics and somehow making people believe him no matter how big the uproar. I know, because I believed him at first and was defending him to others. We should not be defending our pastor’s lack of self-control and loose tongue but be defending Christ and sharing the hope that we have in Him alone. It is very telling that Mark didn’t bring up the petition of almost 500 people that don’t want him at LU, or websites like this one and Mars Hill Refuge. If he had, the word kerfuffle might not have gone over as cutely.

    I attended Mars Hill for four years and an Acts 29 church for about a year. I’m disgusted with myself that I believed this garbage and am still healing from the abuse. Their “counseling” and insistence that I attend a Redemption Group almost destroyed my marriage and my sanity. I could write a novel about my experience there but I am still conflicted about sharing it. This and other websites have brought me healing and helped me to feel like I’m not alone in wanting to sound the alarm.

  43. The idea of signing up for a redemption group is, to me, about as appealing as signing up to have an unnecessary root canal, hoping I might get a jump on future dental problems I haven’t experienced yet.

    As a survivor of church abuse in the SBC (I’ll share my story one day) I can say that these groups have no purpose other than giving the propped-up leaders power. That, and also they exist to give the “church” enough worldly/culture fodder to lord over their submissives heads if and when they try to leave or discredit the cult.

    And a bit about Liberty University – WITH or WITHOUT the Mark Driscoll saga, I would *never* want my children to attend that school for various other reasons. It’s not a safe place, in my opinion.

  44. And I love the bluebirds too! :) We are enjoying our birdies very much right now.

    Deb – I will share. My story is long. I wrote it a few years ago on my now-defunct blog and it was painful, but cathartic. However, my story, while very real and very wrong (what I experienced) – it doesn’t involved major players like mega churches or mega pastors. However it does reveal much about small-town SBC and how they run the show behind the scenes. When I shared my story both publicly and privately, I got so many people telling me THEIR stories and how they could relate. :(

    Maybe this weekend I’ll try to type it out and email it to you.

  45. True Words,

    Perhaps your testimony will help others who have experienced abuse in church settings. Thank you for considering sharing your painful experiences here.

  46. Grieving parents

    Thank you for sharing your experience with your daughter. It is helping us to get more info on this stuff. There is something very dark about this. It also shows Driscoll’s utter inability to come up with any creative idea that does not involve sex. These groups sounds more and more like the abusive shepherding groups of the 1970s.

  47. Debbie
    We have been bamboozled. We said so last summer. The moment Mohler stepped in, we should have kissed off any hope of caring for the wounded. Mohler only cares for CJ. Does anyone think that AOR would say or do anything that would miff off the leaders of the NeoCals?

  48. Former Sojourn Member
    My husband and I have led small groups for decades. We even led them in college. There is a distinct difference between fellowship around the Word and abuse. Over the years, people would confess some difficult sins. We did not coerce them to do so. It usually came out when we shared prayer requests.We did not condemn them but rallied around them to be of help. It was done kindly and thoughtfully. The care group leaders should not view his/her role as a confessor. They should be friends, like Jesus. It’s amazing how thoughtful love can be life changing. Just in case you think we did not deal with anything serious, we had a man addicted to internet porn, a woman who was being abused (upon revelation the man immediately left the house and we helped the wife to separate), substance abuse, etc.

    We did not make some big statement about “Let’s confess our sins.” It was a group that was together for 7 years and it was our commitment to and our love of the people in the group that led to them confessing this on their own through the years. Oh, not just to us, but to the others in the group who had become their friends. But, I guess Mark and gang don’t want to spend time being part of peoples’ levies. They want confession and they want it now. This is sick and dangerous to the mental health of people. But, then again, look at the guy in charge.That should say it all. And one final word, no matter how much you confess, there is more. That is why we need the grace of Jesus. I say we should form “Forgiven” Groups and live life with one another.

  49. ” We did not coerce them to do so”

    This is what scares me about all of this. Alot of these groups have coercion.

    Confession of sins should occur naturally, if not, can we say that a person is truly finding healing through confession and repentance?

    Small Groups I think are great things for any church. We need intimacy with other people to some extent in a local church context, but not forced intimacy.

    I think there is a process that should occur over an extended period of time with small groups…It may take a year or even two years to get to that natural place in my opinion. Possibly longer.

  50. a woman
    Thank you for the input. Do you think he is saying that his journalistic experience was writing for the school newspaper?

  51. Sleepless
    First, do NOT be disgusted with yourself. You attended the church with good intent. The church leaders were “clever” and were able to use tactics to suck you into their delusions about the faith. Almost everybody who has visited this blog, including Deb and I, have had bad experiences with churches. And it took as some time before we could admit it. We, too, kept making excuses for what was going on because we wanted to do the right thing and support our churches. Know this, God will reward you for your loyalty in heaven even though the church was messed up. Your heart is what matters. So, do not beat yourself up. I am so sorry for what you endured.

    Secondly, after you heal, you can help others caught in the clutches of a difficult church situation. Maybe one day you can write your story. You can disguise the names, etc. It will help you and it will defintely help others. You see, on this forum, we believe those who share their horror stories. Also, for Deb and myself, this has given meaning to our experiences. Those painful experiences, combined with those of our readers, have helped us advise others to leave abusive churches, etc, Don’t let Mars Hill define your life after Mars Hill.You be the one to define you experience and how it will be used to help others.
    Thank you for commenting. I will be praying for you.

  52. For years I’ve led pastors conferences where a dozen or so pastors were together for three or four days for health and healing from wounds that have come while living life in full time ministry. [Full time ministry is, by the way, neither THE Christian life nor THEIR life as they found out often for the first time.]

    During those days we did talk about sins and failures during what we called our “bull sessions” with two things understood and embraced.

    One thing was___a complete commitment to safety during those bull sessions. That was created with these as our guidelines for them.

    1..No one HAD to share ANYTHING.
    2..No shaming or condemning of what was shared.
    3..No fixing. [Unless specifically asked to give input as to solutions.]
    4..No revealing of the things talked about without the TOTAL knowledge and permission of the one who shared, even as sermon illustrations.

    The second thing was___a complete commitment to look at who Jesus is and what He did on Calvary as the our ground of forgiveness and righteousness. He IS that to us no matter our sins.

    What I hear talked about often as “share groups,” especially with reference to our sins committed, is neither healthy nor biblical in my estimation. Just my opinion on it.

  53. Dee, thanks for your response.

    One thing you brought up is vitally important: your group stayed together for a long time. I never stayed in a group more than two years. The last three I was involved with dismantled after a year or so, either because the leaders were graduated up to the level of CG coaches, or moved on to another church. You can’t have community when you’re jumping around from group to group to group every year.

    By the way, in case it hasn’t been brought up yet, Redemption Groups are not intended to take the place of Community Groups. The idea is a church member is involved with a CG and, if needed, joins a Redemption Group which meets for a two-month period on campus.

  54. Paul Burleson,

    Your commentary is of such great importance! I hope those who are reading here will heed your advice and treat these “sharing” groups like the plague because that’s exactly what they are.

    These so-called “redemption groups” have just come onto our radar screen via comments and e-mails. We will be researching and then reporting on them soon. We may be in touch with you soon for a “seasoned” pastor’s words of wisdom/advice for those who may be contemplating getting involved in redemption groups.

    Your son Wade continues to be a blessing to all of us here at TWW.

  55. I agree with the others who have asked us not to characterize all small groups as bad. I attended a church for four years where the “small groups” were just Bible studies that met once a week to cover scripture. Usually we covered 10-15 verses a week and that was the primary focus of the group. No confessions, no personal drama, nothing forced, just a chance to meet up together and study the Word. The pastor did not keep tabs on the groups, didn’t have attendance logs, etc… Every year he met with the leaders to figure out which book of the Bible the group leaders wanted to tackle next then he turned them loose. Perhaps the best way to differentiate these groups is to simply call them “Bible Study groups”.

  56. Isn’t the very existence of said groups with their specific sin-purge process actually the set-up for nearly unavoidable coercion and compliance? It can easily and especially ensnare men and women who sincerely want to grow in Christ and deeply desire to participate in community … but this is the counterfeit community they are offered.

    They may not know better (yet – but there is hope!) and may not have the discernment to see that there will be pressure INHERENT in the system for them to override their conscience and say things under the guise of “transparency” that transform them into targets for further levels of conformity to the questionable will and good will of others.

    This is insidious infrastructure. It cannot be merely “tweaked” to fix it. The entire underlying paradigm must change for the operating structures to change. But that will require far deeper transformation than these leaders’ overfocus on the symptoms of sin will ever reach.

  57. Paul
    Thank you for your input.You have outlined the keys to healthy interaction. It is voluntary and not coercive; it is not shaming; it is totally confidential; and it cannot be used against you for “discipline’ or control. I also like this “complete commitment to look at who Jesus is and what He did on Calvary as the our ground of forgiveness and righteousness.” Unfortunately, some of these folks are tole to take it to the Cross and are made to stay there in the moment as opposed to going to the Cross, seeing the sacrifice and moving onto the Resurrection and forgiveness and a new life.

    Requested correction made.

  58. Former Sojourn member

    Do the confessions in the so-called Redemption Group ever get reported to the Care Group?

  59. Anonymous,

    I have also been involved with small groups, and I agree with your comment. Hopefully, discerning Christians can distinguish between helpful “Bible study groups” and coercive groups fairly quickly. We will be focusing on how to tell the difference in some upcoming posts.

  60. Anonymous
    Actually, the terminology is used to obfuscate the true focus of the group. We used to, and still do, call our group a Bible study. There is a lot of lingo out there these days: gospel families, biblical gender roles, redemption groups, care groups, etc. Everyone needs to be cautious and carefully explore what someone means by certain terms.

  61. brad/futuristguy
    That is an excellent summation of the issue. The underlying paradigm will not be changed since the leadership appears to be more focused on greater control of the flock. This is just warmed over abusive control from the 1970s shepherding movement. It failed then and t will fail now. There is also something more insidious. Those who “complete” the Redemption group now can believe that they have “done the work” to overcome their sin, never fully realizing that such a thing is only accomplished by God’s grace, not by introspection.

  62. I think small groups are terrific and wonderful. Some of our best friends for life came out of small group relationships.

    However, beware of small groups with agendas other than probably just fellowship, study, caring, service, and just living life together.

    Red flags:

    Apprentices getting trained for a bigger strategy of multiplying groups.

    Expectations of submission to authority and or accountability focus.

    Experts that show up to tell your already functional group how it “should” be done.

  63. dee,

    I’ve been in groups where “graduates” are deemed qualified to lead the next wave of groups. (Sadly, I’ve even been one who passed on a fatally flawed faith and practice due to my own arrogance of accomplishment in such a group.) Somehow this doesn’t seem to me to be the apostles’ idea behind multiplication discipleship or church planting movements. It utterly bypasses a biblical understanding of the maturing process – – empowerment by grace with walking it out through obedience. Getting into leadership by gaining a faulty theological paradigm merely perpetuates the “mutant spiritual DNA” of the immature perpetrators. So, sooner or later I fully expect these sin-purge/”clearing” group systems to implode from all the gaps of those who “lead” them. I’ve called this “spiritual osteoporosis” – it may look and feel solid on the outside, but underneath, it is leaching its way to collapse.

    I’m no prophet, but I think we can see the handwriting on the wall for where this is headed. I do expect that eventually, some confessees who are uber-sensitive and/or feel over-pressured and/or have been unjustly guiltified by such groups will be driven to extreme actions when their ability to cope snaps. And then, how will these group leaders and their overseers explain away their own responsibility or contribution to the severe depression, PTSD, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, etc., of those supposedly under their care?

    This kind of abuse cannot stand up forever. Given the hardness of heart and conscience of those benefiting from their roles in malignant ministries, probably only something tabloid-worthy will jar the systems’ leaders and enablers into repentance. I hope it doesn’t cost any lives, but unfortunately, I suspect it will, because the significantly more gentle and merciful attempts at intervention seem to be failing spectacularly in bringing toxic leaders to their senses …

  64. Even for those of us who have gone through Redemptive Groups, we cannot even begin to express what we experienced there. Most of those attending MH don’t even know the extreme abuses that take place in such a controlled and secretive environment.

    What’s even worse is when new Christians are thrown into this, and they think that this is part of the process of maturing in the faith. Instead of focusing on being a new creature in Christ, they make you explore all of you past sin that you committed and sin that was done to you in a horrible way to where you feel victimized all over again.

  65. I am beginning to research MIND CONTROL because that’s what we’re dealing with here.

    Some of you don’t like Wikipedia, but it’s a good starting point. Here is what jumped out at me from the article:

    “Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual “systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated”.”

    “The Oxford English Dictionary records its earliest known English-language usage of brainwashing in an article by Edward Hunter in New Leader published on 7 October 1950. During the Korean War, Hunter, who worked at the time both as a journalist and as a U.S. intelligence agent, wrote a series of books and articles on the theme of Chinese brainwashing.”

    “After the Korean War, applications of mind control theories in the United States shifted in focus from politics to religion. From the 1960s an increasing number of American youths started to come into contact with new religious movements (NRM), and some who converted suddenly adopted beliefs and behaviors that differed greatly from those of their families and friends; in some cases they neglected or even broke contact with their loved ones.”

  66. If you want to understand mind control and how it is implemented within the Christian community please check out undermuchgrace.com. Cindy Kunsman has done a ton of work on this issue for many years and has a storehouse of info.

  67. I stumbled upon this spiritual abuse questionnaire just now and thought, “WHAT IF?”
    http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/abusequestionnaire.html
    Spiritual Abuse and Group Dynamics
    Questions to Consider
    Questions To Help Identify Specific Areas of Spiritual Abuse, Deception, and Fraud
    By Chris Lawson (Updated March 2012) 
    The following two scriptures are reflective of what happens when authority is abused within a spiritual/church setting, i.e. self-exaltation, heavy handed leadership, etc.
    “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Old Testament, Jeremiah 5:31 KJV)
    “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (New Testament, 3 John 9-10 KJV)

    The following list of questions is to help you, the reader, think through a number of things that perhaps you have never seriously considered on your own before.
    ***************

    Answering YES to more than just a few questions is a definite cause for alarm. If this is the case, it is recommended that you take a much closer look into your group’s or organization’s history, purpose, and goals.  Observe closely the methods, activities, and lives of the leaders. Are they using abusive and manipulative tactics on people?
    ***************
    (For brevity I will list only the first 4 of about 150 questions, but it appears blog queens could republish the whole list, if desired)
     
    Are you in any way fearful of your leader(s)?
    YES / NO
     
    Does your church or group revolve around one main charismatic personality who is the final arbiter of “truth”?
    YES / NO
     
    Do your leaders make claims of being “Anointed,” having “Elijah’s Mantle,” having “Apostolic Authority,” etc?
    YES / NO
     
    Does the main leader, or the leaders in your church or group always insist that they are right?
    YES / NO

    Editor’s comment:  WHAT IF AOR had simply sent these 4 questions to all known past/present SGM members? What might they have discovered? What would they have discovered from the whole questionnaire?
    If Mars Hill employs AOR in the future, the same questions would be “most enlightening”.

  68. Deb,

    Regarding mind control – and various forms of social coercion to overcome individual conscience – I believe this is what is at the core of the political-and-entertainment social control processes in *The Hunger Games* trilogy.

    To paraphrase what *Hunger Games* director Gary Ross has stated in numerous interviews: You don’t control people merely by subjugating them, but by getting them participating in the process.

    In other words, indirect complicity trumps direct control. The more people who buy into the system, the more the system is enabled to perpetuate itself.

    Especially for young Christians who genuinely want to make a difference on their world, the opportunity to do something that seems positively impactful (like lead a small group) is powerful bait for participating in what turns out to be a switch to mind-controlling strategies that have nothing to do with pastoral care or mutual sharing.

    How many innocents are going to be sacrificed as tributes to the ministry equivalent of Panem’s annual games until the districts revolt?

  69. brad/futuristguy,

    You have given all of us quite a bit to ponder…

    This was expecially thought-provoking:

    “Especially for young Christians who genuinely want to make a difference on their world, the opportunity to do something that seems positively impactful (like lead a small group) is powerful bait for participating in what turns out to be a switch to mind-controlling strategies that have nothing to do with pastoral care or mutual sharing.”

    I hope you will continue to comment.

  70. “How many innocents are going to be sacrificed as tributes to the ministry equivalent of Panem’s annual games until the districts revolt?”

    That was by far one of the most unique comments I have ever read on this board!

    I love the Hunger Games, and the analogy is frightening when we compare this to these groups!

  71. “Why do I perceive that Driscoll’s attempts at humor come across as thinly veiled anger?”

    I’m beginning to think that everything he says is done through gritted teeth.

    I know this observation isn’t new (Headless Unicorn Guy has said it often) but I can’t believe how often the names for things in these organizations mean the exact opposite of what they really are.

    “Redemption” Groups
    “Ambassadors” of “Reconciliation”
    “Sovreign” “Grace” “Ministries”

    It really is Newspeak.

  72. Thanks for the encouragement and feedback, Deb,

    It’s way too easy to demonize all those caught up in perpetuating toxic ministry systems, and overlook that at least some had sincere motives at the beginning, but have been dramatically misled – – with drastic consequences to themselves and those in their “care.” Who among us that decided to become a disciple of Jesus in our teens or 20s didn’t want to see our own lives change, and to impact the world around us? But how often were we given opportunities in institutional churches to do that? And how often do older generations (cough-cough … *we Boomers* … cough-cough) put a glass ceiling on younger generations that force them to seek ministry opportunities elsewhere?

    (Sidenote: Could this be why church planting and multi-campus development has become so popular, because it gives 20/30-somethings especially opportunities to put their zeal and gifts to use when so many existing churches will ignore them? And this multiplication mindset is a significant part of what has led to the expansion of what I would call “the dystopian side of the Kingdom.”)

    So, it totally makes sense to me that relatively young (chronologically and spiritually) adults get snared in these systems that let them upgrade from learner into leadership roles. Unfortunately, neither they nor those in charge of them see these positions are premature … that those appointed simply because they have graduated from the system and appear to be qualified are in fact UNqualified. The task is not in the realm of their spiritual gifts, and/or their ministry skills are not up to the actual task (i.e., a more comprehensive and balanced biblical description of that ministry role), and/or their character is not mature enough to sustain appropriate ministry. (And I would say that those who inflict abuse are, at least for the present, DISqualified from service that includes such responsibility for others.)

    So … going back to *The Hunger Games* analogy, and the point that getting people to participate works better than direct subjugation … at least some malignant ministry leaders started out like Katniss’ stylist team: Venia, Flavius, and Octavia. They prepare her for the games, but basically they’re trying to transform a child into a warrior through cosmetic changes. This is their job, it’s all that’s on their radar. In that, they’re like children themselves, only knowing a flawed and abusive system and not recognizing it’s inherent toxic nature. They are still responsible for their actions, but their intentions weren’t wicked.

    In fact, in Chapter 4 of *Mockingjay*, Katniss defends her recently freed stylists because they’re only doing what they know, and they don’t know any better. “They’re not evil or cruel,” she says. But she and Gale also recognize this as a very weak argument, because such stylist teams are basically preparing their charges to look as good as possible when they march to their slaughter in the games.

    Meanwhile, those in positions of organizational power – – President Snow, President Coin – – know exactly what it is they want to accomplish and they knowingly use others to aggrandize themselves. And is there any way to interpret their behavior biblically as NOT constituting cruelty or evil?

  73. ***lalalalala***
    Please don’t spoil The Hunger Games, I’m in the middle of the second book :)

  74. This post happened to pop up at a time I was preparing to write about the dark, “dystopian” side of the Kingdom anyway, so I likely will have more comments here. (They may still be disjointed, but eventually I’ll compile and smooth them out, and repost on my futuristguy blog.)

    Deb mentioned mind control earlier in this thread. Some of us prefer the historical/analytic approach of considering that topic through works of non-fiction.

    For instance, some classic sources here are the works of Robert Jay Lifton, such as on brainwashing in China [*Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism*] and the psychology of genocide [*The Nazi Doctors*]. He is consistently referred to for foundational definitions of “cults, ” and descriptions of organizational tactics that pressure people into conformity. Lifton also explores some aspects of how some people get co-opted into complicity in evil by participation, not mere subjugation. (So, he helps us understand how toxic leaders pervert the principle of – in the terminology of Exodus 23:2 – “don’t follow a multitude to do evil. “)

    I also find a lot to ponder in works about the human rights movement in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc during the 1970s and ’80s. In these countries, disinformation (purposeful lies) was constantly implanted and morphed over time to cover over or muddle the truth. I noticed that many of the women and men who led the way as what I would call “adovcates of conscience over compliance” had backgrounds in mathematics and science. They had to be taught some kind of absolute truths in order to work in their fields (2 + 2 could not equal 5, even if Stalin said it was so!); and their ability to discern truth, error, and evil – and to treat people with dignity – changed the face of the world.

    As I continue to expand into other disciplines, I am finding some thought-provoking materials in the works of Janja Lalich. She survived a toxic political cult and writes at both the professional and popular levels on both social and spiritual forms of cultish control. When time allows, I’m planning to get into her book on *Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults*.

    But I’ve already read her academic essay on “Pitfalls in the Sociological Study of Cults.” This appears in the book, *Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field.* Here is her opening to this essay: “One of the things that cults do well is the construction of inspiring and exciting alternative worldviews. They do this passionately and with great skill, and the most successful of them are also skilled at creating internally consistent social and cultural contexts to make these worldviews visible and attractive both to their members and to their audiences” (page 123). I think this speaks directly to why sincere Christians can get caught up in the spider-web systems of malignant ministries: Its leaders create a great storyline that sounds really good, but in actuality, it’s all Grimm Fairy Tales underneath. Anyway, Lalich goes on to talk about the “hall of mirrors” that researchers on cults face contend with in slicing through “multiple layers of reality construction” within compliance-oriented organizations, and she offers many helpful tools and insights for those of us who are inclined to research.

    More later, on using dystopian fiction to consider the “culture of compliance over conscience” …

  75. Dee,
    considering that no one has seen anything beyond his op ed’s from The Daily Evergreen (Washington State University), I am going out on a limb to say that is as far as it goes. Also of interest, considering his personality, I find it strange that he is nowhere to be found in any of my WSU yearbooks (I just thumbed through 3 volumes). Even me, a non-greek system student am listed. I haven’t been able to find a graduation year for him.

    This is all most likely just non-sequitur stuff, but it all counts when he is dismissing anonymous sources and exaggerating his history. Even I took classes in Murrow Hall (big deal–insert eye roll).

    I have started to more closely follow what is going on with Driscoll because we have neighbors and friends who are pretty deeply involved. And one friend who is now leading a redemption group. I am honestly concerned, but not sure where to dip my toes in when it comes to how to move forward when the topics come up (and they do… but I want eye opening to happen, not dismissing).

  76. a woman,

    Is there a chance that with all of TWW posters and lurkers sleuthing, combing the web for any articles, one piece of evidence may be found to substantiate the claims of working “professionally as a journalist”?

    Or is that the sound of crickets chirping?

  77. [Picking up thread from my last comment …]

    Meanwhile, if some of us go for historical/analytic approach of non-fiction to understand cults, others among us will more easily relate to the speculative/layered approach of experiencing it through fiction. I’ve talked about *The Hunger Games* already (and no, Ms Vicki, I shall not give any more quotes, clues, or spoilers therefrom!), and how its dystopian premises frighteningly parallel the dark side of the Kingdom.

    Also, a few comments back, René referred to Orwell’s *Nineteen Eighty-four* and the tactic of “Newspeak” where meaningful communication is condensed into code words. And where names are specifically devised to trick people into believing the labels stand for the exact opposite of what those groups actually do. And where the past is constantly rewritten to justify the present to the point that no one can untangle that Gordonian Knot.

    For instance, in *Nineteen Eighty-four*, the MinTru division is the supposed “Ministry of Truth,” which rewrites past newspapers and books to reflect a revised and fictionalized history for whatever nation that is the current ally of the Big Brother regime. But all MinTru workers do is write new lies or retell old ones, according to convenience. (Sidenote: Do contemporary toxic leaders think that everyone is so stooopid that we don’t know about archives and the web world’s Wayback Machine? And that the primary source materials and documentation did NOT suddenly dissolve when their policies and people at the top changed, and their organizational website subsequently got edited?)

    So, anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “dystopia” lately, and what it means. At the core, dystopia always seems to be about bullying. One person or group or social class has to dehumanize another or “the other” in order to outdo (or undo) them. This objectifying of people gives bullies a justification for their evil. Turning them into objects lets the bullies dissociate their victims from any humanity. Those they subjugate are subhuman, they are less than the ruling class, they are expendable.

    So, if dystopia always involves bullying, think of all the dark and dystopian literature available to read and movies to watch that could actually give layers of insight into the realistic motives, actions, and reactions of bullies, their enablers, and their victims. (Warning: For those of us who are survivors of spiritually abusive leaders and cultic churches and ministries, these storylines could prove to be “triggers” for surfacing bad memories and flashback episodes. So be wary and discerning. I strongly recommend that you don’t immerse yourself into such a story unless you feel you should. And if so, not until you’ve prepared yourself emotionally for what might get stirred up. And probably don’t do so without having someone you trust to process thoughts, emotions, flashbacks, etc., with.)

    A few months ago, I was doing background research to try to tie together what I was seeing about the usefulness of both non-fiction and fiction sources in thinking about spiritual abuse and recovery. During hours of Amazon browsing, I kept finding myself drawn to this book: *Dystopian Fiction East and West: Universe of Terror and Trial* by Erika Gottlieb.

    Gradually it became clear why this book could help me bridge analysis and synthesis, history and storying. The back cover quote finally made sense in terms of the questions I was asking myself: [It explores Western] “fictions that project the flaws of current society onto a hypothetical monster state of the future. Erika Gottlieb juxtaposes the Western genre with Eastern and Central European versions, demonstrating that authors who write about and under totalitarian dictatorship find the worst of possible worlds not in a hypothetical future, but in the present or recent past.”

    Let’s face it: Malignant ministries are like totalitarian dictatorships, and that is no fiction! We who have survived their curses often find that people disbelieve our accounts, think we’re making it up or at least exaggerating, think we’re psychological unbalanced. Well, our experiences may have thrown us off balance, but we didn’t do this to ourselves. Some power-mongering “ministers” did this to us in Jesus’ name, and expected us to just shut up and take it.

    And we might have gone permanently silent, if it were not for some kind of “DNA of dissidence and discernment” on our part. Which is another feature that frequents dystopian storylines. Somebody eventually fights back. We may have been weak, but we were strong enough to leave. We may have been wounded, but we were whole enough to expose the wicked weapons that sent us into darkness. We may have been foolish, but we are no longer so naïve. We may have been objectified, but that doesn’t mean we cannot object to such vile treatment.

    And the stories of those who likewise oppose abusive people and objectifying organizations – whether they are IRL or fictional – can give us insight and courage and hope. And ultimately, the One who triumphed over sin, death, and the Devil will deliver us. No dystopia will last forever, and He will not leave the existing ones unchallenged, regardless of how impenetrable they may seem. And such blogs and refuge sites as The Wartburg Watch are a crucial part of documenting dystopia and bringing their leaders and practices into the light. So thanks, Deb and Dee, for your efforts on behalf of a less dystopian and more Christlike Kingdom …

  78. Acccording to a commenter on “The Stranger” article “Satan Can Write!” MD wrote editorials for the Daily Evergreen campus paper (or Daily Neverread, as we used to call it). Still searching for “real” journalism….

  79. A woman—
    I also took classes at Murrow Hall. Perhaps this makes us both journalists just like Edward R…..

  80. Dave, exactly! Who knew? :-) I bet if we tossed ERM’s name out there as often as he does… oh well.
    The only article I have found online is the one I mentioned above–and it is only because someone was not happy about it (so the person c/p into a newsgroup). Google: “The Daily Evergreen, Thursday, April 23,1992 WSU, Pullman, Wash.”

  81. “Bit I never imagined, in so doing, that AOR would utilize the emotional communication with hurting people as an assessment tool. To relay that those who have been hurt are communicating with “clenched fists” is despicable. To this sinful blogger(The most sinful blogger on the planet) ”

    The various criticisms of bloggers strikes me extremely disingenuous. I mean, what exactly are they complaining about ? Criticism without accountability? Well, when Driscoll sounded off with his completely ill-conceived ideas about the British church, who in the British church was he accountable to exactly?

    Again, if that is their complaint who gives any of these people the mandate to speak to anyone beyond their church circle? They practically undermine any case they might have for the sort of roving ministry that they engage in.

    Besides, not everyone who criticises them on the internet is trying to run the sorts of “discerno-blog ministries” that they so like to critique, a lot of people are pastors and church leaders who just happen to publish on the internet with their own immediate circle in mind.

  82. Chris
    Somehow, because Mark Driscoll has some amorphous “authority” and is Reformed, he is given the right to make a fool of himself and to bring derision on the American church. Yet, some wee little bloggers like us are the sinful ones. Dr Stackhouse has totally outclassed these Napoleons of the Calvinista movement by clearly defining why we can critique these publicity seeking individuals.

    This whole local church thing is a bit bizarre. Each church and pat or in this circle is now defining themselves as having the keys to authority (do they realize how silly they sound) and now had the right to tell us how high to jump or they will judge us “unfit?” Once any of these guys seek publicity, show up on broadcasts, autograph Bibles, etc. they have given up their right to privacy.

  83. Um. Thank God I left MH before these groups came to be.

    HOLY SPIRIT, anyone? Why does the Holy Spirit not suffice when it comes to conviction of/confession of/repentance from sin?

    This is ultimately the biggest problem I had with MH and MD–this apparent rule that we cannot be Christians or “love Jesus” (Mark’s favorite bone of contention, a la when someone doesn’t comply, they “don’t love Jesus.”) without needing something in addition to the Bible and the Spirit.

    So, you can’t be a successful, Jesus-loving Christian without Mark’s doctrine and interpretation of Scripture. You can’t be free from sin without a Redemption Group. You can’t be in community with believers unless you are a fervently active member of the Community Group to which you’ve been assigned, like it or not. Etc, etc, etc.

    Essentially, what you learn as a member of MH is that you don’t need the Holy Spirit–He’s not holy enough; He’s not smart enough; He’s not powerful enough. No, it’s the Holy Driscoll (and his minions, by extension) you need, for He is appointed by God Himself to teach you, nurture you, convict you, chide you, encourage you, forgive you, and instruct you in the ways of repentance.

    And who says the Catholic boy inside MD is not alive and well?

  84. Driscoll has described himsels as a “charismatic with a seatbelt”. That seems more and more to mean he’s the charismatic and if you are a member you’re seatbelted firmly into a carseat like a baby and he drives the car where ever he wants to go.

    “And who says the Catholic boy inside MD is not alive and well?”

    Yep, which was what Dan over at City of God blog put so succinctly. :-)

  85. Distressed in Seattle,

    Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney are hyper-focused on sin. In SGM there is the “Doctrine of Sin” that the AoR Report highlighted and at Mars Hill there are Redemption Groups. We will continue to focus on these sin-sniffing characteristics of SGM and MH. May those who are in bondage in these religious systems find FREEDOM IN CHRIST!

  86. WTH –

    It is interesting that you talk about the Catholic upbringing of MD. His cohort in sin-sniffing, CJ Mahaney, had the same background. As in many situations, though, I am not quick to acuse the Catholicism in and of itself. It is more likely the specific “practices” that they endured as children or young adults that results in what we see.

    I grew up Catholic and went to a Catholic school for my early years. I experienced very legalistic and down right cruel Catholics, as well as very loving and kind ones. Much of what we become, I think, has more to do with what we experienced. Until we come to see that God wants, and has, something different for us, because we are his children and he loves us, we are blinded to how we have been affected by those experiences.

  87. Distressed –

    There does seem to be a common “lacking” theme among Driscoll/MH, Mahaney/SGM, Catholicism, and most of the New Calvinists running about everywhere, and that is the place and purpose of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.

  88. Brad/Futuristguy wrote:

    “So, it totally makes sense to me that relatively young (chronologically and spiritually) adults get snared in these systems that let them upgrade from learner into leadership roles. Unfortunately, neither they nor those in charge of them see these positions are premature … that those appointed simply because they have graduated from the system and appear to be qualified are in fact UNqualified. The task is not in the realm of their spiritual gifts, and/or their ministry skills are not up to the actual task (i.e., a more comprehensive and balanced biblical description of that ministry role), and/or their character is not mature enough to sustain appropriate ministry. (And I would say that those who inflict abuse are, at least for the present, DISqualified from service that includes such responsibility for others.)”

    This is an accurate assessment of many “leaders” (pastors, deacons, group leaders” at Mars Hill.

    Brad/Futuristguy, I appreciate your posts, you already spoke for me. Many thanks.

  89. The infamous Fort Lauderdale Five (who started the discipleship/shepherding movement) were all from Protestant backgrounds.

    But their ideas and m.o. were virtually identical to what MD and CJ have been doing (minus the weird focus on sex).

    I think that abusive churches tend toward the same kinds of excesses, regardless of denomination and/or theology. And I’m sure that the Ft. Lauderdale people had more than their share of encounters with unkind, even cruel, people who professed to be followers of Christ.

  90. It’s the same with dictatorships. When you get down to it, there’s little difference between Hitler’s regime and that of Pol Pot (or Idi Amin), even though their ideologies are different.

    The structure and means… well, pretty much the same. (And all with genocide involved, though there certainly are plenty of other dictatorships that could be cited where that aspect of things is somewhat less horrific.)

  91. Bridget2 – as someone who was involved in Catholic charismatic renewal groups, I would have to say that your statement about the Holy Spirit’s place is not *necessarily* true, though Lord knows, the recent attempts to roll things back to pre-Vatican II theology and practices is (imo) pretty scary. (And coming from a very authoritarian ideology.)

  92. anon anon,

    Thanks for the heads up on C.J. Mahaney’s visit to the Apex church tomorrow. I guess he’s pleased with how Phil Sasser represented him.

    Been there, done that… Dee and I went to hear CJ speak in person on January 25, 2009 at SGM Apex, so we know how that dog and pony show works. He’ll probably get a standing ovation. Maybe someone else from our area would like to go incognito and share their commentary.

    Louisville deserves what they are getting, and no I’m not bitter because SGM has never done anything to hurt me. My heart goes out to those who trusted Mahaney & Co. and were not “served” in a godly way.

  93. Bradfuturistguy wrote:

    “Let’s face it: Malignant ministries are like totalitarian dictatorships, and that is no fiction! We who have survived their curses often find that people disbelieve our accounts, think we’re making it up or at least exaggerating, think we’re psychological unbalanced. Well, our experiences may have thrown us off balance, but we didn’t do this to ourselves. Some power-mongering “ministers” did this to us in Jesus’ name, and expected us to just shut up and take it.

    And we might have gone permanently silent, if it were not for some kind of “DNA of dissidence and discernment” on our part. Which is another feature that frequents dystopian storylines. Somebody eventually fights back. We may have been weak, but we were strong enough to leave. We may have been wounded, but we were whole enough to expose the wicked weapons that sent us into darkness. We may have been foolish, but we are no longer so naïve. We may have been objectified, but that doesn’t mean we cannot object to such vile treatment. ”

    I just thought it needed to be posted again. Absolutely. Those tyrannized in the Name of Jesus do not realize how strong they really are for leaving.

    Obviously, they saw something wrong or receive bad treatment they knew was wrong. Contrast that with all the people still in these groups/churches who DON’T discern the problems or worse, go along with bad treatment and join in on dissing the victims.

    I am proud of everyone here who saw it or experienced it and left and are now speaking out. Dictators rely on silence/censoring in order to continue.

  94. Deb,

    Hey,

    Toxic travel’in Tyndale’s Testament! 

    What?

    …tepid, torrential, trouble-touting, tyrannically-tempestuous-tornados?

    (ah…ya mean funky, sin-sniffin neo-church pastors?) -snark-

    hmmm…

    “Sometimes you just have to pick yourself up and carry on?!?”

    Comic relief:  http://funnydumps.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/motivational-speach-pick-yourself-up-orange.jpg

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    S㋡py
    ___
    Comic relief (squared): Pretentious Perkey Pinocchio Proverbial Pastors?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr5NJ5ljiq0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  95. “Louisville deserves what they are getting, ”

    No, Louisville doesn’t. Louisville wasn’t asking for him anyway.

  96. Former Sojourn member,

    Perhaps I should have phrased that the “Southern Seminary” community.

  97. Thanks Dee and Sophia! Maybe I’ll get around to sharing my story on of these days.

  98. I am totally late commenting on this post. My friend that I mention in my story on Mars Hill Refuge apparently attended one of those groups, it breaks my heart for her. She seems so lost in their culture.

    When I finally decided to begin attempting to recover from my eating disorder I searched through things on Mars Hill’s website, thinking maybe I needed to go back there, and maybe they could help me. All I found were some terribly disturbing quotes from Mark and others in Mars Hill on the nature of eating disorders, I was also directed to these redemption groups.

    From what I know now about the nature of eating disorders, and other addictions, these groups are the absolute worst place to receive any sort of help. If I had actually gone through with that my eating disorder would have become much much worse. My heart breaks for anyone going through those groups :(

  99. anon anon,

    Since you brought up Mahaney’s visit yesterday to the SGM franchise in Apex, here is his message When Someone Doubts which he has repeated over and over again in various venues.

    I discussed this in the post C.J. Mahaney – Back So Soon?

    Here is the pertinent excerpt:

    Prior to taking a leave of absence three months ago, C.J. Mahaney was busy making the rounds with his latest canned sermon – When Someone Doubts – based on Jude 22-23. I have listened to several of these messages and found it interesting that on more than one occasion C.J. stated that he invited himself to speak at these churches.

    Here are just some of his speaking engagements where he delivered that same spiel earlier this year:

    March 6 Grace Community Church (Ashburn, VA)

    March 13 Covenant Life Church (Gaithersburg, MD)

    March 20 Covenant Fellowship Church (Glen Mills, PA)

    April 3 KingsWay Community Church (Midlothian, VA)

    May 8 Grace Community Church (Kingsville, MD)

    June 26 Resolved Conference 2011 (Palm Springs, CA)

    Mahaney also delivered this message at Capitol Hill Baptist Church

    It is incredible how Mahaney can regurgitate this message with so little variance.

  100. Deb –

    I am wondering what CJ does with all his time, since he is repeating the same sermon over and over? He doesn’t appear to spend it on sermon preparation. He spends some time on conference preparation. He has spent very little time on the SGM polity writing, since that has been in the works for three or four years now (and others were working on it) yet no new polity exists. Now they have formed a committee for the polity writing, with CJ leading that? How many forms of church polity already exist out there that they could start with any way? None of what is going on with SGM and/or CJ Mahaney makes any “logical” sense.

    Now he is starting a new church. How will he have time to preach every week? (My guess is he won’t.) Will he preach every week? Will he just repeat all his sermons again? I don’t get why people keep following him around. Other churches in Louisville are excited about him coming and partnering in the Gospel? People are clueless and they want everyone to stay clueless I guess.

  101. Interesting line up for the Resolved Conference this year in Palm Springs. Birds of a feather definitly flock together.

  102. I am apparently three months late to this conversation, but have an awful lot to say if anyone is willing to slog through it at this point?

    I am one year out from bring an “apprentice leader” (with two more experienced co-leaders) of a Redemption Group at an Acts 29 church. I felt strange during the experience, and frankly like I had PTSD for a while after. Within three months after the group ended, I pretty much stopped attending weekly services all together. I didn’t know exactly why. When friends asked, I had no good answer. No strong criticism of the church or the RG process or anything specific. I just felt demotivated, uninterested, and inclined to occupy myself with other things instead of going to church. 

    This weekend marks a year since that RG ended, and I now live in a different state. I don’t have a church here and haven’t cared to find one. I have had mild curiosity about my apathy, but no real concern. Apathy, indeed. 

    Strangely enough, I just finished reading a book that led me to look up something about Mark Driscoll. I took the dangerous dive down into the wormhole of blogs and links and circular references, landing here on this post several hours later (really, I can’t believe how much of this day is gone…)

    I am compelled to respond. First, it’s important to distinguish community groups or small groups from redemption groups. At least at the church where I was a member for four years, RGs were a new option for folks who wanted a short term, intensive, hopefully healing experience. They might also be part of a community group (CG) but that was up to them. CGs stay together ten months out of a year, while RGs typically lasted 8 weeks. RG leaders and CG leaders were not the same pool of people, the latter being a much smaller pool and consisting of several trained and licensed counselors. 

    I have every belief that the ministry leaders implementing the RG model at our church had good intentions. The main person (the church’s Pastor of Community Care, and director of the outreach, non-profit, community counseling center) is deeply humble, thoughtful, authentic, and profoundly….different….from the Driscoll model. During RG leadership training and my own RG participation, I came to respect and trust him and the team he had built. I was happy to be a part of it. That’s actually an understatement. I was enthusiastically a part of it. My friends all knew how the RG experience had helped me and how eager I was to help bring the model to the larger congregation. 

    I was involved in the early stages. My experience as a member, trainee, and apprentice was during the church’s first attempts to apply the very MH/Seattle-centric, intense, aggressive approach to our mid-western context and congregation. They were running groups for church leaders and spouses before making them available to the church at large. They were running different formats, I think both as experiments as well as necessary accommodations to get all the leaders through. There were 8 week, 4 week, and three day options, the latter referred to as “immersions”.

    I was a participant in an 8 week group and apprenticed for a 3 day immersion. 

    Why did I slowly pull away from the church after the immersion experience?  I am still sorting that out, and your post and readers’ comments have been helpful in that process. Particularly this quote:

    “I have found that the long term result of this….is shame that you went against that little voice in your head telling you something is really wrong with this.”

    Yup. During the immersion weekend, several participants raised concerns and compared notes and resisted the model. Several contributing factors are involved:

    1-I was co-leading a women’s group consisting largely of pastor or elder wives who weren’t exactly clear on why they were asked to do this. This was not a self-selected group of ppl looking for a healing experience. 
    2-The immersion format allows no time for reflection or quiet processing or digestion of what is taking place, compounding frustrations or questions exponentially. 
    3-I was one of several new leaders, apprenticing with ppl who had led the RGs before but not many times. This was new to everyone, really. 

    In the face of the objections and concerns, the primary leaders and the director took a firm approach. Rooted in a belief in spiritual warfare, knowledge of the positive impact the RG experience had in their own lives, and a conviction that this was going to be an important ministry for our church, they led the group of leaders and apprentices in prayers for courage, strength, boldness and perseverance. The participants’ objections were cast in the light of hard-heartedness, fear or deception. They were clinging to things that were bad for them – lies, habits, etc – and God was using us to help set them free. 

    Honestly, I felt confused and overwhelmed by the weekend. As the women in my group opened up, some more willingly than others, I felt shell shocked by the extent and magnitude of pain and brokenness I was witnessing over the course of three days. It was more than I could handle, and the ministry at that time did not include a structure for leader care or follow up. By the end of the immersion weekend, I felt fully afraid of this God we had supposedly been serving, and seeing at work, in our groups. This was a God who demands utter, prostrate submission….death to you, glory to Him…persistent rooting out of idols…unswerving commitment to self-analysis and questioning your own motives at every turn. Full surrender. 

    The “ick” factor here is that, on some level, those things are mostly true. And I had become a Christian ten years prior with every intention of following Him in just that way. I was drawn to that call and wanted a radical discipleship (don’t many new Christians, don’t many 20 something’s?). However, that weekend, the way that was playing out in front of me, was profoundly unattractive. Troubling. 

    I was asked to help lead an 8 week RG several months later but declined. At that point I wasn’t even going to church services anymore (the RG staff didn’t know that when they asked me to lead again). I was so….confused. Why did I like the deep call to surrender and discipleship ten years ago? Why didn’t I like it now? What was different about them, or about me? What have I been doing for the last ten years?

    And now, a year later, I’m realizing I’m embarrassed for not trusting my gut. Humans are flawed, and the RG staff were/are learning, and I am not interested in vilification. But. Clearly we were playing with fire. Clearly there were oodles of landlines and pitfalls in what was happening, and how, and why. Clearly we fell into many of them. 

    People were damaged, faith was bruised, and I was one of the casualties. I’m just recently willing to pray again, to talk to this God who i am just now again believing is not more interested in my submission than He is in my heart. Ours is a God of unfathomable grace; the Cross reflects this more than it does dominance. Remarkably, He does not lord his Lordship over us. 

    The God I met over ten years ago, and that I’ve been trying to follow since, is not the God I met at RG. I was scared to try to integrate the two, but it’s best that I didn’t. It’s best that they remain clearly distinct, that the RG representation be clearly and obviously different and false. It’s best that this representation be questioned, challenged, and redeemed before anybody else is impacted. 

    I think, tomorrow I’m going to find a church service in my new city. It won’t be at an Acts 29 church, or a Sovereign Grace church, and it won’t have a hipster pastor on video for a roomful of nearly identical white, hipster, enthralled urbanites. Not that there’s anything wrong with that lol. It’s just not for me, not anymore. I’m looking for humility and a healthy respect for the past, for diversity, for grace, and for the poor. But first….I’m now going to read the Bent Meyer article that pointed me to this post. And then I will be done for the day.

    Thanks again. 

    redeemed

  103. redeemed
    Thank you for your honest recounting of the experience that you had with a Redemption group. I am honored that you would share it with us.

    Here is the problem with “radical submission and confession.” No matter how hard we try, we cannot expunge our souls of our sin. Of course we can deal with some sin. But, as my pastor often says, “Even on my best days my motives are mixed.” What doe that mean. Every day, every minute I think sinful thoughts, act in sinful ways and most times don’t even recognize it. But guess who did? Jesus!

    Jesus is the key here. We cannot, no matter how hard we try, with the best of intentions, ever get rid of that sin. And the more we focus on it, the more we see. We become discouraged, even hopeless.

    Some pastors use this knowledge to control people. They accuse them of the sin of “pride” or the sin of covetousness, or the sin of something else. And to some extent they are right. Of course I am prideful. Of course I am irritable and on and on.In fact, I always will be but I will work on it over time.

    But, there is a solution. GRACE. We cannot overcome all of the sin. Half the time we don’t even recognize it. But that is why Jesus died. We are forgiven and we can go on. My pastor says we should respond to constant reminders of sin (which he believes is of the devil) in this fashion. “Yes, I am a sinner. You don’t even know the half of it so bug out.” Then confess our sin, know that He has forgiven us and go on living in freedom.

    And no, I am not saying to deliberately sin. We are to walk in His truth and know that we will be forgiven as issues come up.Christians have a healthy respect for sin and an even healthier reliance on GRACE. We are free, truly free and that gives us a light heart, a love for Jesus and hope for the future.

    I will pray for you. Please let us know how the new church goes. Many people are looking for the same sort of church that you are!!

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  106. “The ick factor”

    Redeemed, 

    HowDee,

    The key to this is where are our eyes focused. 

    “radical submission and confession.” type groups focus their attention inward.

    The scriptures point to Jesus.

    This is key: Any pastor or church that gets the individual to focus inward and not upon the finished work of Christ is bogus!

    Flee such ministries! Forget the Latin: Buyer beware! Bet you @ZZ!

    >>>===> Your walk with God, –your life is your responsibility.

    never, never never, give up that responsibility to anyone else.

    In the end, only YOU answer to God for YOU! Not Joe Blow Pastor, with the new fangled dongle.

     Give up responsibility for your life to anyone else…YOU LOSE!

    Rememba! I told you so…

    (grin)

    S㋡py!