"The religiously-wounded must have somewhere to go, some place where they will be safe from attack, where they can heal through the gospel and live again."
Ray Ortlund (All I Want post)
European Church – Taken by Deb
Dee and I enjoy getting e-mails from our readers, who are scattered around the world. We have been stunned to discover that our blog is having a global impact.
Earlier this week we heard from one of our blogging friends who lives in Romania. She has been encouraged by our website and by our EChurch services, which she communicated to us several months ago. Here is an excerpt from her most recent e-mail:
"I've read Ray Ortlund's blog for years (not daily, but from time to time) and there was much there that truly blessed and encouraged me and made me appreciate God's grace more. So it really bothered me when I read his 'All I Want' post (which sounds so good), while having in mind how he deleted twice the comment of 'A. Amos Love'. How in the world can you say you wish the abused would come to have a place where they're safe and then not allow someone to say that the abused should learn to hold everything up to Scripture… In Romanian, we call that shoving your fist in someone's mouth (to translate it literally)! It's getting truly depressing for me how one by one, it seems that all the people I used to respect (I mean authors, preachers and such)… I'm now losing respect for.
Anyway, I went ahead and posted this on his blog and am very curious if he will let it stand…
Here's what I posted (and yes, I included in my comment the twice-deleted post of A. Amos Love):
I’ve read many things on your blog (and only commented a couple of times before, I think). Many times I appreciated quotes you offered, which ministered to my soul and really blessed me. I’ve read books by your parents and loved any stories you shared about how you knew them to be… their passion for Christ and their joy.
I’m greatly puzzled now. I’ve read this comment below which I learned that you removed twice from this post. There is nothing in it that I can see which is unbiblical. There certainly is no personal attack against anyone. Why would you remove it? An era of shalom would start when people are not afraid of telling and being told the truth. *Then* they can heal. Your removing the post makes it look as it the very idea of holding church leaders accountable to the what the Scriptures say would be a threat to you, or to the system you are part of. Why would it?
I would *very* much appreciate it you would post this, instead of deleting it. Thank you very much!
M _ _ _ _ _
Much agreement when you say…
“Or at least, the beginning of the end. A new era of shalom must start somewhere. The religiously-wounded must have somewhere to go, some place where they will be safe from attack, where they can heal through the gospel and live again.”
I would like to see that in my life time. There is NO excuse for Abuse.
I’ve had the privilege of ministering to many who have been…
Burnt – Burntout – Kicked out – and – Crawled out – of Todays “Abusive Religious System.”
One recommendation for those looking to heal…
Is – To check out those – who say they are – God Ordained Authority.
“Pastors that Abuse” want you to “obey” – And speak a lot about Heb 13:17
But don’t spend a lot of time with, or ignore, or twist, other verses.
Every believer has this right – to check out the Pastor and the Elders.
And we beseech you, brethren, **to know them**
which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord,
and admonish you;
1 Thess 5:12 KJV
Every believer is responsible *to know* –
If your Pastors/Leaders/Elders – Qualify…. To be an “Elder/Overseer.”
I had to learn this the hard way. Many years and many tears.
Before trusting a “Mere Fallible Human”
I now recommend the wounded folks to observe, and to ask…
1 – Are they living examples of – NOT lording it over “God’s heritage?” 1 Pet 5:3 KJV
2 – Are they living examples of – lowliness of mind? Phil 2:3 KJV
3 – Are they living examples of – esteeming others “better” than themselves? Phil 2:3 KJV
4 – Are they living examples of – submitting “One to Another?” Eph 5:21 KJV, 1 Pet 5:5 KJV
5 – Are they living examples of – prefering others before themselves? Rom 12:10 KJV
6 – Are they living examples of – being clothed with humility? 1 Pet 5:5 KJV
7 – Are they living examples of – NOT “exercising authority” over “Disciples of Christ?” Mark 10:42-43.
If they don’t like you asking – Run, Run for your life."
I'll be interested to see what comes of it! Even if he deletes it, maybe someone gets to read it before it disappears…"
On the heels of this e-mail came the dismissal of the lawsuit against Julie Anne Smith, et al. For those who would like to read further about Beaverton Grace Bible Church v. Smith, I strongly recommend this link – Citizen Media Law Project.
Since Ray Ortlund's blog (featured on The Gospel Coalition website) came to my attention this week, I have been following some of the posts. Perhaps you remember that Ortlund was on the three-man panel (along with Kevin DeYoung and Carl Trueman) that concluded C.J. Mahaney was fit for ministry. Not long after that decision was rendered, Ray Ortlund spoke at SGM's Worship God conference. So much for impartiality…
Ortlund's post All I Want, concludes with the following:
"Here in the Bible Belt, there must be an end to the religiously-inflicted pain. Or at least, the beginning of the end. A new era of shalom must start somewhere. The religiously-wounded must have somewhere to go, some place where they will be safe from attack, where they can heal through the gospel and live again. I grew up in such a church. I experienced it. I have a living memory of it. By God’s grace, there will be more, not less, of such beauty in the future."
One of our loyal TWW readers was able to get her comment published under the All I Want post, and we hope and pray that it does not get deleted…
Two days later, Ray Ortlund wrote a blog post called Comments. In it, he explained what kind of comments get deleted, specifically:
"Your comments are an important part of this blog. Thank you for them. Well, most of them. I will delete all comments like these:
By “hijacking” I mean a comment that would take a post off in a direction I did not intend or that would set a tone I cannot approve of. The purpose of a comment thread is to interact with the post, not to use the post as a platform for advertising something of your own choosing. You are free to do that on your own blog."
That same day (July 26) Ortlund posted a commentary called The Peace of Christ, which I encourage you to read. He also tweeted the following (which links to this post): If you have been wronged by a church's sins, read this.
This is the portion of Ortlund's post that stood out to me:
"Never mount a campaign to correct those who wronged you. The Bible says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19). The wrath of God is all the wrath this world needs. It would be nice if unjust people finally owned up. But they don’t have the self-awareness to do that, which is what makes them unjust in the first place. They will never see it, until God opens their blind eyes. But he will. And only he can. If you appoint yourself the one to open their eyes, you are putting yourself in the place of God – which is what your abuser did to you. Don’t let your abuser make you an abuser. Sit tight, and trust in the Lord. This is extremely difficult. But your own moral fervor will inevitably make things worse. So, the extremely difficult choice you are left with is this: a bad situation (of their making) versus a worse situation (of their and your making). That really stinks, doesn’t it?"
"Don't let your abuser make you an abuser?" Written like a true Calvinista! The leaders have all the authority, which they claim is given to them from on high, and the rest of us are just supposed to sit tight and trust the Lord? Is that what Julie Anne Smith should have done?
Finally, keep in mind that Ray Ortlund is involved with the Acts 29 network. His son Dane is employed by Crossway. See bio on the Resurgence website.
The main reason for the Calvinistas' popularity (in my opinion) is the visibility they have garnered through their self-promotion on the internet. Now that victims who have suffered under hyper-authoritarian dictatorships are coming forward, Calvinstas like Ortlund tell them to "sit tight and just trust the Lord". Well, I've got news for them. I do trust the Lord, and I believe I am compelled by Almighty God to investigate the abuses taking place by those who claim to represent Him. I have had it with power-mongering leaders who act more like dictators than servants. We will continue to provide a forum for the wounded to tell their stories so that others will hopefully be spared from similar pain. Thank God that the Calvinistas do not control the internet like they do their little kingdoms. Let's continue to get the word out!
I want to leave you with an excellent comment by brad/futuristguy, who chimed in about the ruling in the Beaverton vs. Smith lawsuit. He makes some excellent points which Calvinista leaders need to take to heart:
"Thanks for posting this summary of the ruling and links, Deb. You’ve provided yet another point of evidence to one of the things that has struck me most about Julie Anne’s story. And that’s how much important information is now being “crowd-sourced.”
On my reading stack is a book entitled, *Digitally Enabled Social Change* – and I believe that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing at work the last 9 months or so with a series of episodes that adds up to epic change. To me, what’s gone on seems astounding! When I suffered pretty much alone and in silence through a horrific church split 35 years ago, there were NO books yet on surviving the trauma of spiritual abuse. There was NO internet for me to search for answers or connect with those with similar experiences. There were NO specialist organizations or ministries out there that I could find to help. But now … wow!
There are many books and online lists with indicators of malignant ministers, and healthy versus toxic ministries. They include perspectives drawn from biblical and theological studies, psychology and mental health, sociological and cultural research on cults, etc.
We all have access via the internet to much more detail about relevant legal issues and their ramifications if we choose to publicly bring into the light what authoritarians want to keep in the dark. (Shout outs here go to “Arce” and “An Attorney” and others for contributing from their professional specialities!)
We’ve seen in Julie Anne’s story and other recent situations how quickly links to the original documents and news reports and Scriptures and other relevant materials become available through a network of “survivor and watchdog blogs.” It’s far easier and faster to verify facts and do a “multi-person MRI” on the evidence that is emerging of ministerial malpractice, organizational toxicity, etc. That lets us counter innuendo and incendiary comments with details and source links – for those with ears to hear.
Survivors are coming forward with the stories and being heard, and sharing practical help that give real hope to those emerging from victim status, that they, too, can overcome what has happened to them. People can come up with solid sets of questions about probable situations of spiritual abuse they’ve faced, and others will share accurate answers that really help those who want to think critically about their situations and discern what to do.
We who doubt can hear the truth that we’re not responsible for what abusive leaders or their henchmen did to us. We who hurt can be validated that God still loves and cares about us, and that He didn’t create these devastating situations in order to teach us some perverse kind of lesson. We who feel isolated can find a new friend or two willing to weep with those who weep and, as we do now with Julie Anne, rejoice with those who rejoice!
Bullies no longer get a “virtual pass.” And authoritarian organizations cannot keep promoting themselves on the web and advertising their celebrity leaders – and then get away with “scrub” posts and emails and other digital details that later prove embarrassing. These days, too many people are taking screenshots of tirades and trolling, and getting downloads of relevant documentation from the internet. And the “Wayback Machine” doesn’t cache everything, but I think we’re finding that digital activists are catching key data quickly enough to get things covered.
We’re no longer living in the same world as even a year ago. It’s not merely been a “tipping point” reached, but something more, I believe. It’s this new paradigm of digital activism on behalf of spiritual abuse survivors that is being progressively explored and tested and consolidated – corporately, not just individually. And the systems won’t be going back to an era of having to suffer without protection … because I don’t think WE will let it go back to the way it was, where bullies got away with gagging our voices, and their enablers trolled our blogs unfettered, and their excusers sat on the sidelines in silence.
All this isn’t meant to intimidate the bullies … “do unto them what they’ve done unto others” … but simply to suggest that we, the Body of Christ, have needed to be better stewards in holding accountable in the virtual realm those Christian celebrities and organizations that have presented a persona to cover the toxic realities underneath. It’s happening. Documenting, questioning, challenging those individuals and organizations that inflict harm. Protecting and supporting those who’ve been victimized. And it even appears from how Julie Anne’s story unfolded, maybe we’re seeing a new kind of Christian unity evolving – integrated around seeking help and hope to get the Church on track to be a safe place for all and an abusive place for none.
I’m thankful for Julie Anne’s courage in staying the course, and for the many people who’ve been encouraging along the way. If this kind of support can happen across traditional lines in the Church, maybe it’s more likely to happen in a lot more churches on the frontlines. I hope so – I pray so! And if nothing else, victims of spiritual abuse who find their way to online support networks will find they do not have to suffer alone, in silence, with no resources.
Truly, that new day is here …"
Lydia's Corner: Genesis 3:1-4:26 Matthew 2:13-3:6 Psalm 2:1-12 Proverbs 1:7-9