Megachurch Worker Sentenced to 55 Years Behind Bars for Child Sex Abuse

"The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most vicious crimes conceivable, a violation of mankind's most basic duty to protect the innocent."

James T. Walsh

Sad Face

My heart breaks for children who suffer at the hands of adults.  This morning's massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at a Connecticut school is a powerful reminder of how precious life is.  Please keep their loved ones in your prayers.  

Two days ago an ex-megachurch worker in Tulsa, Oklahoma confessed to sex crimes against three young females and was sentenced to 55 years in prison.  The Huffington Post reports:

"A former janitor at a Tulsa megachurch who admitted to sex crimes against three girls told his victims Wednesday that "no one's perfect" in an statement in which he pointed to Scripture just before a judge sentenced him to 55 years in prison.

A 13-year-old girl who was raped by Chris Denman sobbed in the first row of the courtroom as the judge handed down the sentence. The scandal at Victory Christian Center also ensnared five other church employees who are accused of waiting to report the August rape in a church stairwell.

Denman faced up to life in prison after pleading guilty to raping the 13-year-old, molesting a 15-year-old girl and propositioning a 12-year-old. It wasn't clear if all three girls were in the courtroom Wednesday, but when the judge gave Denman an opportunity to speak, Denman directed his statement to them.

Denman apologized to the girls, then summarized a Bible verse in which Jesus said, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.'

'No one's perfect,' the 20-year-old Denman said. 'I'll admit to everything I did. I want to go to prison.' "

The three victims were 12, 13, and 15 when they were assaulted.

"The mother of the 13-year-old said in her statement that her daughter had lost her childhood and that her girl's sense of safety had been shattered as a result of the sexual assault," according to The News Tribune.  That news source goes on to state:

"Among those accused of waiting to report the rape are the son and daughter-in-law of the ministry's co-founder and senior pastor.

Denman pleaded in October guilty to first-degree rape, forcible oral sodomy of a child, lewd molestation, making a lewd proposal to a child and two counts of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime. He did not have a plea agreement with prosecutors.

A second former employee at the 17,000-member church awaits trial on a charge of making a lewd or indecent proposal to a child."

Perhaps it was the possibility of a lawsuit against the son and daughter-in-law of the ministry's co-founder that caught Jared Wilson's eye.  Yesterday, he featured a post entitled Safeguarding Against Abuse in the Church.  As one of the commenters stated, it is long overdue.  Wilson writes:

"Quite often in retrospect these cases reveal not simply mistakes made but systemic dysfunctions in a church community and a church’s discipleship culture. Below is a list of safeguards: some are obvious bare minimums, others are harder to implement and run deeper than superficial processes and procedures, but all are ways to help establish a church community as a safe place".

Is Wilson just giving lip service here?  It certainly appears that Sovereign Grace Ministries under the leadership of C.J. Mahaney has systemic problems that have long been ignored by the Calvinista crowd.  Just look at how many days have gone by without anyone in the Calvinista conclave addressing the lawsuit against SGM. 

What has been troubling for quite some time is that the Gospel Coalition crowd appears to be ignoring the abuse that has taken place in some of the ministries in their camp for quite some time.  Not that long ago Dee and I had an e-mail exchange with a pastor who identifies with TGC leaders, and we challenged him to look into the complaints against Sovereign Grace Ministries and C.J. Mahaney as well as Gary Ezzo and his Babywise books.  His response – we were guilty of character assassination!   

Could it be that the Calvinistas are breaking their silence and speaking out about abuse against women and children for deniability?  In other words, are they are attempting to show that they truly care about the victims by publishing this kind of information?

With regard to SGM, the longer The Gospel Coalition crowd postpones addressing the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries and eight individuals, the more embarrassing their silence will be.  When the systemic problems of SGM are revealed through court proceedings, their sycophants will go running for cover.  As Dee has already predicted, we believe it will be one of the top stories for 2013 and will send shock waves throughout Christendom.

We are especially proud of Julie Anne Smith for challenging Jared Wilson on his post.  Here is their exchange:

Julie Anne
December 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

"Jared – I’m glad to see this list. It’s a great start. What about accountability among church leaders, not specifically subordinates. How do you see this taking place? I’m referring to a specific lawsuit among one in your group. I don’t see that there is a solution to that loophole. If you have a president of an organization who has failed to follow appropriate steps, do his close connections within a group such as Gospel Coalition have an obligation to address this situation at a private level and then at a public level if they see no action taking place? This is a real problem and we will continue to see this happen until someone addresses it. Jared, I applaud you for taking the first step, but we as a church must do better."

Reply from:

Jared C. Wilson
December 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

 "Julie Anne, accountability among networks and affiliations is difficult and subject to the nature of those networks and affiliations.

 I know you’re referring to a specific case, but I have to respond generally and theoretically, b/c it is not true that nothing public has been said/done by brothers in The Gospel Coalition and it is not true that no action is taking place (lawsuit, verdict pending) in relation to the issue you’re referring to. That’s all I’ll say about that, for three reasons: 1) I don’t know the parties involved, neither the accused nor the accusers, so it amounts to gossip for me to host speculation, ignorance for me to pontificate, and libel for me to level charges, 2) I am not a council member of the Gospel Coalition so it is not my place to speak “for” TGC, but only for myself as a guest of TGC’s blog portal, and 3) discussion of specific cases is not what this post is about, opening illustrative link notwithstanding."

But answering theoretically:

Friends/associates of an accused person aren’t obligated to speak out about accusations against their associate, but sometimes it would be appropriate, yes.
I don’t know how such accountability should take place within parachurch networks. Again, it depends on the nature of the association/network, how top-down it is, what is involved to join, etc. At the very least, in egregious cases of unrepentant sin, I suppose it would begin with removing them from the network/organization.  Thanks for your comment."

I am grateful for those who are speaking out about abuse, whether it be emotional, physical, sexual, or spiritual. Let's keep bringing attention to these abuses via the internet. Hopefully, through our combined efforts we can be a catalyst for change.  If anyone should be standing up for those who are victimized, it should be Christians!

Lydia's Corner:   Numbers 2:1-3:51   Mark 11:27-12:17   Psalm 47:1-9   Proverbs 10:24-25

 

Comments

Megachurch Worker Sentenced to 55 Years Behind Bars for Child Sex Abuse — 89 Comments

  1. Why is it always ‘gossip’ when anyone suggests anything negative about one’s of Calvin’s boys, but perfectly legitimate for them to speculate about the salvation of anyone who questions one little detail of their theology? I say this deliberately, because I have witnessed the same game being played right here in Sydney. I can’t name names, but I know a woman here who was accused of gossip if she said anything negative about either her violent husband or her childhood abusers (who were dead), but then hauled over the coals for expressing any of the spiritual or emotional turmoil she was going through. It seems to be a universal dynamic among these guys, and one I am so tired of.

  2. The concept of “gossip”, and the wrongness thereof, is surely one of the most mis-used principles in church circles. The thing with talking about others is that it’s always honest, purposeful and righteous when you or I do it, but gossip, slander and abuse when the other guy does it. Obviously it’s often used by the powerful to marginalise and isolate the weak (or, indeed, to isolate their rivals and thereby make them weak). But that kind of double-standard is actually used by all kinds of people who lack empathy for others. They will subtly talk about the “issues facing” others, either “for prayer purposes” or just “so that you’re aware of what’s going on”, but react with great shock, contempt or disgust when anyone discusses them.

    If I’ve learned anything about abusive relationships over the years it’s that you cannot restore broken or displaced emotional and psychological boundaries without being able to talk openly to someone about it – you need the external viewpoint to give you a proper sense of perspective. But not just any external perspective will do. Just because I’ve been sinned against, that doesn’t make me incapable of sin.

    We’ve been through all the usual abusive church stuff – working long hours, including in a year-long, full-time role in which our use of working days, evenings and weekends was wholly presided over by the church leadership – but totally unpaid; attacks on our marriage; a campaign of gossip and slander about me between leaders; slander and misrepresentation of us when we finally left, with one of our closest friends writing us a hate-letter; and so on.

    It’s true that we didn’t suffer direct physical or sexual abuse, and no-one at our former “church” has so far threatened to sue us. But I do speak from experience when I say that, for believers with abusive church (or similar) backgrounds, forgiveness is not optional, nor an unfair burden. It is possible, and necessary. In other words, Jesus was right. I think, though, that a big stumbling-block here is that we don’t quite understand forgiveness.

  3. I commented on Jared Wilson’s post yesterday, and my comment was not approved. I have given the details under “My Comment Was Deleted”.

  4. Moniker,

    Thanks for attempting to comment on Jared Wilson's blog. I am including the comment here (which you left under the post "My Comment Was Deleted") for our readers' convenience.

    ____________________

    Blog Name: The Gospel-Driven Church (at The Gospel Coalition)

    Post Title: Safeguarding Against Abuse in the Church  Written by Jared C. Wilson

    My Comment: “Has anyone at the Gospel Coalition reported or commented on the botched handling of sexual abuse cases in Sovereign Grace Ministries, and the subsequent lawsuit? I don’t recall seeing anything here at the GC blog.” Time comment left: December 14, 2012 at 9:35 am

    The comment never made it through moderation. It was deleted without ever being posted. Jared Wilson did email me with an explanation as to why he didn’t allow the comment.

    This is what he said: “thanks for your comment. I am not approving it for publication mainly b/c given what I’ve seen of the discussion related to the SGM abuse cases online, there is much heat, and little light, and because experience has taught me it would open the comments to gossip. Not to mention that discussing specific cases is not really the point of the post. Assuming that your question was not rhetorical and you are sincerely asking, no, I don’t think anyone at TGC has commented on that case publicly. At least, I have not seen anyone do so.”

  5. Nick Bulbeck – “But I do speak from experience when I say that, for believers with abusive church (or similar) backgrounds, forgiveness is not optional, nor an unfair burden. It is possible, and necessary. In other words, Jesus was right. I think, though, that a big stumbling-block here is that we don’t quite understand forgiveness.”

    When I look at examples in the Bible such as the false accusations against Paul, I assume that he must have forgiven his accusers because there is no record of him retaliating, but he named those who had wronged him, warning others about them lest they become ensnared by them, he told his side of the stories. I know first hand how the wrong understanding of forgiveness which always includes a wrong understanding of gossip and slander can lead to countless more victims.

    I consider myself responsible for others abuse by wrongly keeping silent about my own abuse case in an IFB style school due to my confusion over what was taught about my responsibilities regarding gossip and forgiveness.

  6. Patti said:

    “I consider myself responsible for others abuse by wrongly keeping silent about my own abuse case in an IFB style school due to my confusion over what was taught about my responsibilities regarding gossip and forgiveness.”

    Patti,

    Thank you for being so candid in your comment. This is why abuse can occur for so long in certain groups. It is so tragic!

  7. “I consider myself responsible for others abuse by wrongly keeping silent about my own abuse case in an IFB style school due to my confusion over what was taught about my responsibilities regarding gossip and forgiveness.”

    Patti, I agree. Anything negative and factual seems to automatically be placed in the gossip/slander category and is to be avoided. An example would be Jared Wilson’s “editing” of my comment re: Doug Wilson and his handling of the Sitler case…stating what I posted was gossip/character defamation. So…there ya go.

    “I’ve seen of the discussion related to the SGM abuse cases online, there is much heat, and little light, and because experience has taught me it would open the comments to gossip.” (Jared Wilson)

    Nice try, but a dismissive reply. What does that mean? I do wish he would speak more plainly in case those he deems lacking in reading comprehension skills might be reading. Heat = anger? Passion? Those are valid emotions for discussing such evil as sexual abuse. (Or–are people just supposed to speak a certain way…negative emotions are not allowed…ala the AoR report?)

    “…little light”? How does he know what is “little light”? He doesn’t-that is his opinion…his speculation, which he says we should not do. (Unless he has facts he is not revealing regarding SGM, and, in that case, he should come clean.)

    “…open the comments to gossip.” Oh! the horror. And, being it is his blog, I guess there is no way to stop that. Yes…better to not risk it. lol

  8. 1. “Denman apologized to the girls, then summarized a Bible verse in which Jesus said, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’

    ‘No one’s perfect,’ the 20-year-old Denman said. ‘I’ll admit to everything I did. I want to go to prison.’ ”

    This response is incredible. “No one is perfect” is something you say when you send the wrong document to a recipient or forget a meeting–not something you say when you rape someone. And the verse he chose for his “apology” to the victims, is intended to be a rebuke to those who are judgmental, not to those who were victimized. He appears to be exhorting the victims to forgive him. He may want to pay for his sins by going to prison, but he still has some very twisted thinking about repentance.

    2. With regard to Jared Wilson’s comment that accountability is difficult within a network of churches and affiliations, the hierarchical structure of their worldview does not permit anyone else to be able to speak into a senior pastor’s or leader’s life. The “subordinates” do not have “authority” to speak or act in relation to the leaders.

    Their paradigm makes leaders untouchable, whereas in Christ’s kingdom paradigm, those who want to be great in the kingdom “must become the servant of all” and “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, neither male and female, but you are all one in Christ.”

    Christ’s kingdom is not a hierarchy of authority, which is why Paul could confront Peter about his hypocrisy regarding eating with the Gentiles. God often chooses the weak things of the world to confound the wise and there are no peons in God’s kingdom.

    If leadership viewed the members of their congregations as peers rather than “subordinates,” there might be a lot more healthy leadership in the church. Those who are looking for power may be less likely to choose being a pastor as a vocation.

  9. E.A.B.,

    Welcome to TWW!  Your last two remarks reveal why Sovereign Grace Ministries has had some serious problems.  You stated: 

    “Christ’s kingdom is not a hierarchy of authority, which is why Paul could confront Peter about his hypocrisy regarding eating with the Gentiles. God often chooses the weak things of the world to confound the wise and there are no peons in God’s kingdom.

    If leadership viewed the members of their congregations as peers rather than “subordinates,” there might be a lot more healthy leadership in the church. Those who are looking for power may be less likely to choose being a pastor as a vocation.”

    Based on the commentary from those who have been involved in SGM, the elders of member churches are paid pastors.  There may be an exception here or there, but the leaders of SGM churches are appointed by other leaders, not the congregation.  As I understand it, members of SGM churches have virtually NO SAY in how their own church functions. 

     

  10. I wanted to point out something about this case that is quite unique and important in light of church sex abuse cases.

    The news article states this:

    The 13-year-old’s mother is suing Victory Christian Center. Her lawsuit accuses employees of trying to cover up the abuse by not reporting the August rape to the authorities while it did an in-house investigation. She says the church was more interested in damage control and attempting to make her daughter feel as if she was somehow to blame for the assault.

    This is precisely what is going on with the SGM case. One of the big complaints against my former pastor is that he handled (perhaps mishandled is a better word) a sex abuse case in-house rather than allowing the God-ordained civil courts (Romans 13:1) to do their job. If memory serves, court documents show that the now convicted sex offender remained in the home with his victims at least 8 months after the crimes were reported by the children to my friend. (I know that by posting this, I am feeding my former pastor a new blog post on his Impostor blog. Oh well, it is just too important to not discuss.) There are countless stories of perpetrators who did not have to face any civil consequences of their crimes within the SGM stories we have read. We’ve also heard of similar stories in Calvary Chapel churches, IFB churches, etc.

    Many states have loopholes for clergy, allowing them to not report crimes to authorities. Oklahoma is an exception and if clergy does not report a crime, they can be arrested, tried, and convicted. We are seeing this played out now and that is good. I have been following this OK case.

    My blog post has this information on this subject here: http://bgbcsurvivors.blogspot.com/2012/10/mandatory-reporting-laws-for-clergy.html

    Dee and Deb – you know how passionate I am about this subject. If you find anything from my blog post that you can use – feel free to snag it. I think it important for everyone to know the mandatory reporting laws in their state. I wonder if there are any grassroots efforts to get all states to have uniform mandatory reporting laws, removing clergy loopholes? I am just starting to network with attorneys from around the country and this is one subject I am beginning to discuss with them. Removing the clergy loopholes in mandatory reporting would be a step in the right direction for helping clergy to realize their responsibility in reporting crimes.

  11. I think the content of Jared’s post is really good, and he’s saying some things that people haven’t been saying much. That should not be overlooked. We should be hearing sermons about abuse and we should not be forcing unhealthy reconciliation. Both of these points would take the church a long way in standing against abuse if they were taken seriously.

    I agree that his use of the word “gossip” is a typical misuse and is sidestepping; however, I do feel like he’s being pretty honest and at the least he’s giving us some statements about why SGM is wrong even if he feels he can’t name them. I don’t know much about Jared, but he seems to have a degree of humility and honesty about him.

    I will note that I specifically asked him about divorce in abuse cases (because I wanted to see if this whole “don’t force reconciliation” thing was just lip service) and his answer was better than I anticipated.

  12. I meant to return to some older threads here to reply to a few people who left me posts before, but I got sidetracked. I may still reply at a later time. :)

    I had sent you e-mails about these sexual assault cases in Tulsa, Oklahoma that took place in Tulsa’s “Victory Christian Center” church.

    One VCC employee actually raped a young lady, and I think the other propositioned another one.

    The thing that stood out to me is that when the two family members (who work at VCC) tried to wiggle out of any and all responsibility.

    There was a law in place in the community that persons such as them are to immediately report child abuse, but they dragged their feet. Their lawyer tried to weasel them out of it by pointing to some technicality.

    I was surprised by the whole thing. Their church services are broadcast weekly on the TBN network, at least in some parts of the nation, and I watched them for a while.

    Billy Joe Daugherty, who used to be VCC’s pastor, seemed like a genuine believer (he died in 2009). I would assume if he could see how some of his other family was handling this situation, he would probably feel ashamed or upset. He never seemed like one of the money-grubbing con artists one usually sees on TBN and Day Star.

  13. I dropped by today to post a headline I just saw:

    Fate of accused abusive [Southern Baptist] pastor [Travis Smith] in the hands of his flock

    Here’s a quote from it:

    “When a church rallies around its pastor, there’s disbelief that someone they trust could do something like this,” said Diana Garland, dean of the school of social work at Baylor University, which was founded by Baptists. “It often feels so much safer to blame the victims for causing his downfall, rather than accept that the power of a religious leader has been abused.”

    … “When a Southern Baptist church faces a crisis like this, the easiest thing to do is just let the guy go — he moves to a different state, gets a job at another church and there’s no record of his actions,” Brown said. “If a minister is not literally sitting in prison, he can find a Southern Baptist pulpit to stand in.”

    Another:

    Smith “was rough around the edges when he was younger, and that’s where all this comes from,” Marriott said.

    So raping people is just a case of “being rough around the edges” or can be chalked up to youthful immaturity? Way to water down the seriousness of rape.

  14. “No one’s perfect”? “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”?! WHAT? … What kind of exotic, nonsensical “repentance” is this?! How dare he, or anyone else, play the You Must Forgive™ card, and treat his victims like criminals with a debt to pay.

    Fine, admit to your horrible crimes. Apologize, if it makes you feel better. Then leave it there and SHUT UP. Make no attempt to justify yourself or point fingers at your innocent victims!

  15. How dare he, or anyone else, play the You Must Forgive™ card, and treat his victims like criminals with a debt to pay.

    Oasis – if I’m quoting you out of context here, I can only ask your gracious forbearance. But the idea expressed in the above sentence is something I must take issue with, because it seems to me to encapsulate most of the misconceptions we have about forgiveness.

    Of course, to demand forgiveness for oneself cannot be supported by any scripture. In effect, the man who demands forgiveness is declaring that he needs it, but that also he is unrepentant and therefore unable to receive it; he might as well be sealing his coffin from the inside. But – especially in a setting like this, which is set up precisely to support victims of abuse – we must understand that to forgive someone does not mean dropping the charges, letting them get away with it, and shame-facedly admitting that it was you who were wrong all along, and you will now meekly go away and get help for your “hurts” and repent for your “bitterness”. Oh, and remain shamed and diminished for the rest of your life. None of that has anything to do with forgiveness.

    It’s worth remembering that the real command to forgive comes not from Jim Jones, or Adolf Hitler, or any anonymous date-raping loser, but from Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and the most perfect conceivable manifestation of all that the Father himself is. Two things about Jesus here.

    Firstly: he himself was persistently slandered, plotted against by powerful self-serving interest groups, betrayed, tried by a perverted kangaroo court and falsely convicted, subjected to a cruel, public and humiliating execution; and even as he was dying, his enemies crowded around him and mocked him for his supposed failure and defeat. And it was in that very setting that he prayed perhaps the most famous prayer of forgiveness of all time (if it isn’t already, it will be one day). So when he said, you must forgive, he was not saying, drop the charges, you deluded, worthless sack of s**t. He was saying, you must forgive; but first, let me show you exactly what I mean by that.

    Secondly, Jesus is in very nature God – who defends the orphan and the widow, who pronounced woe to the rich and satisfied and blessed the poor and hungry; who has put down the mighty and exalted the humble and gentle. So again, when he says, you must forgive, he is not speaking on behalf of the privileged abuser. Excuse my italicising here, but it is essential we grasp this: when Jesus calls us to forgive, he is speaking on behalf of the marginalised victim.

    Forgiving is, on occasion, like vomiting up poison – it may be an unpleasant prospect, but it expels the harmful material and leaves you free of it. And in any event, forgiveness is an act of conspicuously, undeservedly, gracious judgement. As Apollos (imho!) wrote to the Hebrews, the lesser is blessed by the greater. When you forgive an unrepentant person, you prove yourself their better. (How many people despise Ghandi or Mandela – and who cares about those who do?)

    Just one more thing: forgiving doesn’t mean saying nothing and letting them do it again to someone else. That’s a judgement the wider community has to make, and if a church congregation won’t do it properly, then that’s not a wide enough community.

  16. Why is it always ‘gossip’ when anyone suggests anything negative about one’s of Calvin’s boys, but perfectly legitimate for them to speculate about the salvation of anyone who questions one little detail of their theology? — Lynne T

    Because Calvin is their Personal LORD and Savior, and A God Can Do No Wrong.

  17. Nick have you ever been raped? What do you know about the process that rape victims go through?

  18. Hi, Nick…

    Here is where I stand:
    I do not believe in unconditional forgiveness (cancellation of debt) for everyone, always, in every case, with or without repentance. God does not forgive unrepentant sexual abusers, and neither do I.

    I had more to say but decided to backspace the rest. Have to back out of this conversation, not feeling well.

  19. I gotta say, I think Oasis was right on the money when they said

    How dare he, or anyone else, play the You Must Forgive™ card, and treat his victims like criminals with a debt to pay.

    He wants to involve them in his sin by admonishing them through the use of scripture to forgive him. That if they do not, they will be guilty. They will be in violation of scripture. And if they violate scripture, they are no different than he is. They’re guilty, too. So see? Nobody is perfect. His crime is no different than their crime of unforgiveness.

    The man is sick. He is an abuser who assumed complete ownership over his victims, totally denying their rights, and then assumed he had the right in a court of law to dictate to them how they should think.

    This is the same form of ungodly pride and arrogance you find in people like CJ Mahaney, who thinks God has given him the power to assume complete authority over peoples lives, ultimately to satisfy his own lust for power & control. And when confronted about their sin, they use the bible to condemn you as if you’re the sinner. Hey, no ones perfect. “I’m the worst sinner I know.”

    Classic unrepentant sinner-speak.

  20. “Well, in fairness to the critics of forgiveness, it is important to emphasize that forgiveness can be so distorted as to be part of the problem. Where there is cyclic abuse in a relationship, for example, forgiveness is usually a major contributing factor. The spouse forgives and then they go through the honeymoon stage and then there’s the brooding and accumulation of rage and then there’s the violence and then the placating (I’m so sorry and it’ll never happen again) and then more forgiveness. In this cycle, forgiveness is the heart of the pathology. The same kind of cycle is common in any relationship which is affected by addiction. So forgiveness can be aiding, abetting and enabling. Forgiveness is the central function of the enabler. So, it’s understandable that people would reject this kind of forgiveness – it is part of the problem.” David Augsburger

    http://www.nacr.org/wordpress/160/the-f-word-forgiveness-and-its-imitations

  21. “He wants to involve them in his sin by admonishing them through the use of scripture to forgive him. That if they do not, they will be guilty. They will be in violation of scripture. And if they violate scripture, they are no different than he is. They’re guilty, too. So see? Nobody is perfect. His crime is no different than their crime of unforgiveness.”

    This. Exactly this. He won’t accept the seriousness of his crime. Instead, he’s trying to dampen it down by saying that the girls are no better than he is. “I’m not the bad guy here. We’re all sinners.”

    Denman has a massive, massive log in his eye. And is clearly not sorry for what he did.

  22. Forgiveness does not always mean reconcilation or fellowship. Forgiveness can be giving up any revenge for those who are unrepentent. Many times that means forgiveness is simply staying away from someone who refuses to see the wrongs they committed. Other times it means cooperating with the civil/criminal laws even when the person is repetent.

    this business of “we are all sinners” to excuse such abuse and heinous crimes comes from a terrible understanding of sin.

    I tend to agree with Muff concering this issue and will add that the historical church turned away from the Jewishness of Jesus and that understanding, we completely redefined sin and made it something we all do all the time and the normal. No sin is worse than other sins in this paradigm. I fear it has wrecked havoc on truth and caused a lot of confusion not to mention cognitive dissoance.

    Born again people do sin (even our thoughts are sinful because they “miss the mark”) but born again believers do not “pratice” sin.

  23. “Forgiveness does not always mean reconcilation or fellowship”

    Exactly. Forgiveness means I’m not expecting you to do anything to make up the debt I am entitled to receive from your actions. Letting it go, saying “you owe me nothing and there’s nothing you need to do for me now” is a wonderful place to be when we get there, but it does not mean we must continue to try to build a relationship.

  24. The Church has never taught that all sins are equal. — Nicholas

    Except for the Fundagelical radio preachers (predecessors of Televangelists) I used to listen to in the Seventies. They were rabid on how GOD HATES ANY AND EVERY SIN WITH SUCH A PERFECT HATRED bla bla bla.

    Born again people do sin (even our thoughts are sinful because they “miss the mark”) but born again believers do not “practice” sin. — Anon1

    Which leaves open the definition of what “practicing” sin means. (“It all depends what the definition of ‘is’ is.”) In practice, this usually gets defined as The Other Guy Practices Sin, Not Me.

    This. Exactly this. He won’t accept the seriousness of his crime. Instead, he’s trying to dampen it down by saying that the girls are no better than he is. “I’m not the bad guy here. We’re all sinners.” — Anne

    Classic unrepentant sinner-speak. — Evie

    “The adultress wipes her mouth and says ‘I Have Not Sinned’.”

    He wants to involve them in his sin by admonishing them through the use of scripture to forgive him. That if they do not, they will be guilty. They will be in violation of scripture. — Evie

    Maybe I’m reading too much Manly Wade Wellman, but how does that differ from a Karcist pressuring you to give “your participation” in order to give his Black Magick power over you?

  25. Oasis -

    Hi, Nick…

    Here is where I stand:
    I do not believe in unconditional forgiveness (cancellation of debt) for everyone, always, in every case, with or without repentance. God does not forgive unrepentant sexual abusers, and neither do I.

    I had more to say but decided to backspace the rest. Have to back out of this conversation, not feeling well.

    Thanks for saying this so clearly, and I hope you’re feeling better. On reflection, I can describe where I stand rather better if I use two different words because, as Evie (quoting David Augsburger) points out, “forgiveness” can be used to mean two very different things.

    One meaning is better described as “clemency” – similar to parole or a judicial/presidential/royal pardon – where the perpetrator of a crime is set free and does not have to face the consequences of his actions. This is pretty much always associated with repentance (or else corruption), so does not mean simply freeing a criminal to strike again. I fully agree that God does not naively extend clemency to unrepentantly dangerous people and nor should we. Clemency specifically benefits the perpetrator; it is not designed to benefit the victim and it usually won’t.

    Oasis again – I owe you an apology for taking premature issue with what you wrote; I shouldn’t have done so. Reconciliation pretty much comes under the heading of “clemency” and attempting to reconcile unilaterally with an unrepentant person is, I agree, unwise and maybe even dangerous. In that context, I agree that no-one has the right to compel a victim to be reconciled with an abuser.

    Back to forgiveness per se, I mean it as a freely-chosen act by the victim that ensures there is no root of bitterness in her/his own heart. Forgiveness, in that sense, specifically benefits the victim; the perpetrator can take it or leave it, but that’s no skin off the victim’s nose. You can’t force a victim to do that, but you can help them. In fact the benefit to them is so great that you can’t afford not to.

  26. singlrman,

    Thanks for posting about the vote tally at CLC. Dee and I were discussing the results earlier today and will weigh in later this week.

  27. Hi, Anon1,

    “Born again people do sin (even our thoughts are sinful because they “miss the mark”) but born again believers do not “pratice” sin.”
    ********************

    Trying to understand all this myself. hmmmm… not so sure. My first thought is that this idea gives each of us our own personal born-again-police badge with sin-sniffing dog at our side.

    First off, hate the term “born again” — i can hear it ringing in my head now, all the times this word has been spoken in my hearing in contexts dripping with christian culture = syrup, sugar, facial expression, tone of voice, judgemental 2-facedness ‘n all — BUT, I realize the words are in the NT, and I suppose i do fall into the category. (it’s all a bit mysterious)

    I practice things that anyone would assume are contrary to God. I daily criticize without taking the extra step to be merciful and gracious about it. I am harsh about it. Regardless of how good my intentions are, I stop short of moderating my method in a way I know I very well could. I don’t think anyone would disagree that this is contrary to God.

    While what is “sin” is quite murky to me (aside from things like murder and stealing — but is it legitimate when the CIA, Mossad, etc. do it?? for national security??? aah, my mind is spinning)….. I suppose we could call my wilful choice not to moderate my criticizing as “sin”.

    Which I practice daily.

    Therefore, I am not born again. ?????? If my husband were to espouse “but born again believers do not “pratice” sin”, he’d have no choice but to conclude it’s spiritual curtains for me.

  28. elastigirl, the NT is clear that we struggle with “the flesh”. James also says we cannot claim to be without sin.

    We are also considered born again and given a new nature. Paul says it is not we who sins, but the sin within us.

    You can drive yourself crazy trying to nail this down theologically, and theologians wrestle with it, trying not to veer too far into either “cheap grace” (nothing changed when we became believers) or “perfectionism” (we must not sin).

    For my part, what I think is this: do you struggle with sin? Because I think that is the mark of a Christian. We have a new nature that is not a nature of sin, and that nature does not live comfortably with the sin of our flesh. This is not to say that we don’t have some habitual sins or unknown sins that we are not working on, but are we generally comfortable with our sin? The Christian is bothered by the sin of the flesh and wishes and works toward it being left behind, whereas the unbeliever has no problem and no struggle. They are perfectly content with their flesh and it does not bother them to have “missed the mark”. They may, however, regret the consequences of sin, especially how it makes them look in the eyes of others.

    That’s my take on it anyway.

  29. Hi, Jeff S,

    “The Christian is bothered by the sin of the flesh and wishes and works toward it being left behind, whereas the unbeliever has no problem and no struggle. They are perfectly content with their flesh and it does not bother them to have “missed the mark”. They may, however, regret the consequences of sin, especially how it makes them look in the eyes of others”

    This description of “unbeliever” does not fit the unbelievers I know personally, and many I oberve. They care very much about integrity, character, kindness, honesty, etc. They are very bothered when they miss the mark, and are often better individuals than christian people I know.

  30. Elastigirl, yes, you are right, I know several unbelievers who are the same. I tend to think of struggling with sin about caring about missing the mark before God. That is, it bothers us that we have grieved him, not just adherence to a moral code.

    So people who feel a desire to be moral but don’t believe in God are grieved, but not necessarily for “sin” as I think about what sin is. This is what I was driving at with my “look in the eyes of others” comment, but in retrospect that falls quite short and is a crass way to define adherence to a moral code. And in fact, many unbelievers are simply beholden to their conscious, not “how they look in the eyes of others”. So I retract that. But I do believe striving to please God and striving to adhere to the direction of our conscious are different things, often related.

  31. JeffS,

    I have to agree with Elastigirl. And I hate to. But when I tell folks what I have seen. The abject evil done in the Name of Christ at churches, the Christians ALWAYS say: There are no perfect churches. Or, you should not speak of Christ’s Bride like that. Something to that effect.

    The unbelievers say something to the effect of:, that is horrible. Unjust and wrong. Is there anything i can do?

    I have witnessed more love and compassion, justice and integrity from the unbelieving world than I have from believers. In fact, one of the best men I have ever known in my life was one of my former bosses, a president of a uni who was an athiest. I have witnessed him giving money to students who were broke, going to the hospital in the middle of the night to see about a faculty member rushed to emergency and on and on. I have not since met anyone as generous and kind as that athiest. And that grieves me for Christendom.

    It is one thing that got me really studying about original sin and my beliefs on that score.

  32. “Trying to understand all this myself. hmmmm… not so sure. My first thought is that this idea gives each of us our own personal born-again-police badge with sin-sniffing dog at our side.”

    Only those who enjoy that sort of thing.

    “First off, hate the term “born again” — i can hear it ringing in my head now, all the times this word has been spoken in my hearing in contexts dripping with christian culture = syrup, sugar, facial expression, tone of voice, judgemental 2-facedness ‘n all — BUT, I realize the words are in the NT, and I suppose i do fall into the category. (it’s all a bit mysterious)”

    Sorry, Jesus used it talking to Nicodemos. I could have used “new creature in Christ”? Perhaps you could tell me what is acceptable so you wont be offended.

    “I practice things that anyone would assume are contrary to God. I daily criticize without taking the extra step to be merciful and gracious about it. I am harsh about it. Regardless of how good my intentions are, I stop short of moderating my method in a way I know I very well could. I don’t think anyone would disagree that this is contrary to God.”

    There are actual lists in scripture in places like Galatians and Revelation and that is not on the list. :o) This is what i think is the problem. We go a bit overboard defining sin so that by the time we are done, we are as bad as the child molester. I use the word “practice” as it is understood from 1 John. Walking in the light or walking in the dark denotes a lifestyle. What we practice.

    “While what is “sin” is quite murky to me (aside from things like murder and stealing — but is it legitimate when the CIA, Mossad, etc. do it?? for national security??? aah, my mind is spinning)….. I suppose we could call my wilful choice not to moderate my criticizing as “sin”.

    Which I practice daily.”

    Should I hide the silver if you come over? :o) Or should I see you as a sister who strives to walk in the light, fighting her flesh/thoughts daily like me?

    Therefore, I am not born again. ?????? If my husband were to espouse “but born again believers do not “pratice” sin”, he’d have no choice but to conclude it’s spiritual curtains for me.

  33. “Therefore, I am not born again. ?????? If my husband were to espouse “but born again believers do not “pratice” sin”, he’d have no choice but to conclude it’s spiritual curtains for me.”

    Sorry hit send too soon. I do think we eventually change for the better. We do have the indwellig Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins so we confess them to God and strive to please Him. Yes, we can strive to please God. I think perhaps you might be too hard on yourself. If one is constantly plotting evil, deceiving people all the time, living as greedy, etc, etc, then one might not be “born again”. A lifestyle.

    I am finding that more and more people really do not believe in sanctification.

  34. “We do have the indwellig Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins so we confess them to God and strive to please Him. Yes, we can strive to please God”.

    Anon 1- this is what I was trying to say, only stated better. I would say the unbeliever does not drive to please God, which is different that saying the unbeliever does not strive to do good.

  35. Anon1,

    Not offended at all, and have no list of what is acceptable to impose on anyone. Just writing extemporaneously and honestly. Nothing personal was intended.

    Yes, I won’t steal your silver. But I do practice other “sins”, while at the same time desiring to do better in other areas. I’m just pondering the meaning & the reality of “born again”.

    1 John frustrates me no end in that it doesn’t seem to say anything (as I see it). It is so general. Platitudes. I could honestly say that my agnostic friends and relatives (as well those who are hindu, buddhist, muslim, mormon) walk in the light and not in the darkness. They are good people, striving to be honest, truthful, hard-working, kind, generous, etc.

    **********
    “I think perhaps you might be too hard on yourself. If one is constantly plotting evil, deceiving people all the time, living as greedy, etc, etc, then one might not be “born again”. A lifestyle”
    **********

    I’m far from hard on myself. (but that’s in response to having observed how relative “sin” and “godly” can be — for example, observing how my wonderful, God-loving in-laws in England use words we’d consider “swear words” and think nothing of them, enjoy pints of beer & gins and tonic, etc., cigarettes, and sun bathing & swimming without the need for clothes of any kind — and think nothing of it)

    Just trying to reconcile many things in my mind — if “born again” has to do with lifestyle, and “walking in the light”, then my agnostic and other-faith friends and relatives indeed qualify.

  36. elastigirl – Do you think these interpretations of 1 John have anything to do with US evangelical church culture? (Kind of a loaded question!)

    There are lots of God-loving people on these shores – xtian but not evangelical – similar to your in-laws.

  37. Hi, numo.

    Oh yes. Beginning with me, and the songs I happily sang at a high school camp, Young Life, and in youth group at church. As they come back to my mind now, how devoid of meaning they are, yet packed with assumptions.

    Seems that even with each passing day, I see more and more how many assumptions I’ve made, how far from objective I am, even as I strive for objectivity. (I value objectivity maybe more than anything else — except for genuine kindness — while knowing pure objectivity is never possible.)

    I have a friend who is an Arab, a Palestinian Catholic, who goes to a Catholic Church, an evangelical church, and an eastern orthodox churh. When she began telling me about her background, and how her grandparents had their family farm taken away from them in Palestine — (“Oh, Israel?! Wow!” I said. She politely said, “Ummmm….” and continued)… how her grandparents had their farm, which had been in their family for generations, taken away from them and how they lost everything and fled to Jordan as refugees. And her experiences in evangelical world concerning Israel…. It’s been an eye-opener.

  38. elastigirl – I have been going through the same “getting rid of assumptions” process for close to 10 years now.

    It can seem never-ending, although one thing I do know for certain is that I feel a lot better about myself – as well as God – now than I did before it all commenced.

    About your Palestinian friend: I am so sorry she’s had to hear so many ignorant, unkind – and frankly, bigoted – words from US evangelicals. We are most alarmingly shut-eyed and unaware when it comes to all of that, and I also believe that many of us use “support for Israel” in a way that supports (rather than lessens)anti-semitism in this country… but that’s a convo for another day, and maybe another place. (Too much to get into here.)

  39. Palestinian Christians get it from both sides. There are few left there. I have very old friends from college who lost a teenage son in a bus bombing years ago by a Palestinian who blew himself up killing almost everyone on the bus including babies. So both sides have a long way to go.

  40. Elastigirl, Since we cannot define sin then why bother with a watch blog? Why do we think what some of these leaders do is wrong? is it sin or what? I cannot figure out where people are coming from.

    ARe you suggesting that certain groups think such things are sin like smoking, drinking, etc, and make too big a deal of them? I agree with you with you they are not a big deal at all. Those are the easy things to point to as sin. The ones that are hard are using people to build a following, wanting to be in authority over others, protecting molesters to protect image of instititon, etc, etc. Those are things that degrade other people and make a mockery of Christ. The bible calls them hirlings and wolves.

  41. Coming on a little strong, Anon1. I’m working through things in my own way, for my own sake — I don’t expect anyone to figure me out.

    Certainly smoking, drinking, etc. do not fit the “godly” template in most of christian culure. They are deal breakers or much of christian culture. A person is judged and labled for such things — everything else about that person is overshadowed by those “evils”. They are a lesser kind of christian, a disappointment, regarded with suspicion. These conclusions bypass intelligence & reasoning power. We agree.

    I regard “sin” as things that are unethical, illegal and which amount to not treating people the way oneself desires to be treated. I’m sure this will be refined as I evolve as an aware, thinking person. I have a gag reflex with christianese language, and prefer to use language that is more plain. I cheer this blog on in the continued exploration and exposure of christians who support and engage in such things.

  42. elastigirl – I’m so with you on abandoning “christianese” words and phrases.

    for one thing, they hinder communication with all kinds of people; jargon tends to exclude. For another, most “xtianese” is bad usage and I would rather speak plainly myself.

    In the past, when I mentioned that my mom is an xtian, people within the evangelical/charismatic churches I was in tended to be very condescending when they found out that she is Lutheran. It was as if only their sort of xitan was a “real” xtian. (and it got to me on another level, since I felt a lot of ongoing conflict about whether I *really* believed some of the things that those churches were teaching…)

    As for Palestinians being caught in the middle – most *all* of them are, regardless of their religious beliefs, lack thereof, upbringing, etc. etc. I’ve heard otherwise sensible people tell me that the Palestinians deserve to be destroyed because they are the direct descendants of the Philistines and other truly cruel (and, imo, incredibly bigoted) remarks of the same kind.I am sure this has only gotten worse since the mid-00s, although I am no longer in an environment where people are apt to say those kinds of things, so I can only guess.

  43. It is hard for my Palestinian friend. She is the lovliest of all people, and there is no more sincere believer in Father, Son Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit than she. She was raised catholic, married an eastern orthodox person, and together they raise their kids in both traditions as well as evangelical because they feel the teaching for their kids is so good.

    But I can’t imagine what it’s like for her, when “Israel” is championed and sung about, prayed about, recited in liturgies, identified as God’s chosen and the object of her own religion’s support and favor. Her grandparents and those of her husband lost everything — homes, farmland, relative wealth, possessions — erything which they & their ancestors had been building for generations. Stripped & reduced to zero. Denied personhood and rejected in both their homeland and the country they fled to.

    Very complicated.

  44. Great blog article by Rick Thomas, former SGM pastor, was published today. It can be viewed here:

    http://www.rickthomas.net/2012/12/17/what-does-bob-jones-university-and-sovereign-grace-ministries-have-in-common/

    With numerous churches leaving SGM, current charges of sexual abuse leveled in a lawsuit and the well documented charges of blackmail by SGM President C.J. Mahaney one has to wonder how much longer will T4G continue their affiliation with C.J. Mahaney?

    http://www.facebook.com/TogetherfortheGospel?fref=ts

  45. Elastigirl

    I have a friend who is Muslim. His wife became a Christian.She called and asked me to address the Jewish question with him. He was under the impression, because of the statements of Falwell, et al that the Jews were loved by God and the Palestinians were not. We had some great discussions. He is now a Christian who speaks to groups about how to understand the perceptions of those in the Middle East who have been told that the Jews, and not the Arabs, are God’s chosen people.

  46. This has interested me for a while, and I wonder whether some of our west Atlantic friends can through any light on this one.

    I’ve often wondered whether christian zionism is so strong (or at least transatlantically audible) because of the strength of the Jewish vote in the US. I have no problem with the Jewish vote, btw; the Jewish community has the same right to vote as any other. But it’s interesting how all the American christians I know over here believe implicitly in some form of christian zionism, to the extent that they actually have a name (“Replacement Theology”) for what, to me, is the simple gospel of the Kingdom. In which, let me emphasise, there is neither Jew nor Greek, but all are one – and equally welcome – in Christ.

    Things are, perhaps, slightly different on this side of the Atlantic. I think there remains at least some lingering sense of guilt at the Holocaust (unfortunately, the Holocaust did not banish antisemitism in Europe).

  47. Nick, most Jewish voters in the US vote liberal. Christian Zionists just idolize the State of Israel because of their Dispensationalist misinterpretations of Scripture and they cosider Israel to be a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. They believe that an apocalyptic war in the middle east will usher in the Return of Christ. Christian Zionism could be viewed as antisemitic because it views Jews as mere pawns in an end-times scenario which would result in millions of Jews and Arabs dying in a nuclear war.

    I can use no other word than “heresy” to describe Christian Zionism and Dispensationalism. Both are popular with fundamentalists in the US, including John MacArthur and his crew (such as Dan Phillips). Sadly this nonsense has been exported to other countries, although it initially was imported from the UK to the US (late 1800s).

    I’ve learned a lot from this guy on your side of the pond: http://www.stephensizer.com/articles/

  48. Dee, I’m glad to hear about that. More Christians need to stand up and say NO to Christian Zionism.

  49. afaik, “xitian Zionism” began in the UK, but I need to doublecheck.

    Nicholas, I think people in the Orthodox communities might disagree with your assessment of their voting habits.

  50. Yeah, Orthodox Jews probably vote conservative, but they might be a minority among Jewish Americans. I doubt many Orthodox Jews are friendly toward Christian Zionists, however, due to the CZ’s belief in a coming nuclear war in Israel.

  51. More like “not friendly with xtian Zionists due to the latter’s anti-semitism. (imo, at least.)

    I know some otherwise liberal Jewish folks who *vote* conservative – very much so, in fact.

  52. Nicholas said: “Christian Zionists just idolize the State of Israel … and they cosider Israel to be a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. They believe that an apocalyptic war in the middle east will usher in the Return of Christ”

    This thinking was commonly expressed to me by relatives and fellow churchees when I was growing up. Plus Petra, rivers of blood, etc. I was always puzzled by the lack of sympathy shown to Palestinians and the emphatic, unquestioning “pro the state of Israel” position. I read a Time magazine article when I was a teenager about some older Palestinian women who had been beaten around the legs with rubber truncheons by the Israeli military. It impacted me deeply. Every zionist comment I heard after that I viewed through the lens of the old Palestinian women. There are some sympathetic portrayals in the media such as the film “Lemon Tree” and the British TV series last year “The Promise”, in which I now understand the significance of the big front door keys.

    We have a smart atheist Jewish-Australian journalist who blogs on these issues, http://antonyloewenstein.com/ but in my opinion, taking a sympathetic Palestinian position is not popular here, it’s right up there with Green Left, and mixing with the socialists, pro-refugee advocates and non-mainstream Christians.

  53. Haitch – it’s not exactly a popular thing here, either. There is a lot of tension and anger in the American Jewish community regarding how to view the Palestinians, settlements, etc.

    It seems like a growing number of younger people (younger than me; I’m in my mid-50s) are re-examining the state of Israel’s history, what was done to the Palestinians, etc. – and they are getting a lot of pushback on their writing on these topics. but there are many more people now – Jewish and gentile – who are receptive to differing ideas and willing to take the time to think things through and do some research… I wish I could say they were in the majority, but a growing minority is (imo) better than nothing.

  54. From the SGL blog:

    First Sunday Service
    September 6, 2012
    We’re excited to announce that our first public meeting will be September 30, 10:30am, at 700 S. English Station Road, Louisville, KY 40245. God has blessed us with a fantastic facility to meet in and a great group of people who have been working hard to prepare for our launch. We’d love to have you join us as we celebrate God’s goodness on our first Sunday! …Read More

    New Sunday Meeting Location Beginning January 6!
    December 17, 2012
    We are excited to announce that beginning Sunday, January 6th, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville will be meeting at Louisville Marriott East Hotel at 903 Embassy Square Boulevard….Read More
    ================

    I think those of you that have suggested that perhaps the Christian school where SGL was meeting gave them the boot are seriously mistaken. Clearly they have just outgrown their present location and needed more room to accommodate their burgeoning growth!
    http://instagram.com/p/TTcL10J9It/

  55. lol TW that’s awesome and oh btw did you know Dee and Deb are keeping a running tally of the number of days the he-men from TGC and friends are taking to even mention the whole SGM affair? Yup, this is day 53 and yet no word.

  56. Yes Evie, I am aware of that. I am thankful for their efforts to keep this in the public’s eye. I also think their analysis in this post (quoted below) is spot on.

    “With regard to SGM, the longer The Gospel Coalition crowd postpones addressing the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries and eight individuals, the more embarrassing their silence will be. When the systemic problems of SGM are revealed through court proceedings, their sycophants will go running for cover. As Dee has already predicted, we believe it will be one of the top stories for 2013 and will send shock waves throughout Christendom.”

    I formerly attended one of Mahaney’s “family of churches” located in Arizona. Now I am at a church in Dubai pastored by a good man who previously served on Dever’s staff. I believe he speaks with Dever regularly and I have tried to politely keep him abreast of the SGM situation, hoping that perhaps he might caution Dever about his association with Mahaney. My words of caution have not seemed welcome so I no longer say anything to him about the situation.

    While I am thankful for the solid gospel preaching at my church in Dubai, if I had other viable choices I would probably be attending elsewhere. I am a bit uncomfortable with the devotion to all things “Dever” here.

  57. Dubai? How interesting! And I’m sorry to hear the pastor isn’t open to having a conversation with you about Mahaney and SGM.

    So, my guess is the complementarian gospel fits right in there in the UAE where women are implored to dress modestly, just like they always are in SGM!

  58. Yes Evie, Dubai is a very interesting place. I suppose the “complementarian gospel” probably does fit in well here although I must admit that I am hesitant to tie those two words together.

    I believe it to be scriptural that pastors and elders are men. Not exactly sure what else the “complementation gospel” entails. I don’t hold to the view, common to some Christians, that women should be married as soon as possible and then have a quiver full of children. If you want to do that – fine, but I don’t feel it to be a mandate for all. I think women should be as highly educated as they desire. I am quite proud of my oldest daughter who graduated from Bethel Seminary and now is Dean of Admissions at Luther Seminary. Her and I are worlds apart doctrinally, but that is OK. Someday she will see things my way. (Just kidding!) I have another daughter, in whom I am equally proud, who has a college degree and has served two summers in China tutoring students in English, building relationships and sharing the gospel. Currently she has moved in with us and will be taking a college course in teaching ESL. When completed she will be certified to officially teach ESL and then hopes to get a job doing the same type of thing she did in China. My wife also keeps very busy here with ministry related things. I won’t go into it all as some things are of a sensitive nature. I write this to illustrate that even though my views on men ‘s and women’s roles probably differ from many in this forum there is no reason we can’t be friends or need to separate into different “camps.”

  59. @ Nicholas:

    Dispensationism! Of course… duh.

    I’m not a big fan of dispensationism, or any notion that God somehow looks and feels fundamentally different from the way he did when he left us this book that we’re supposed to obey. Because, of course, you then get to pick and choose whichever bits of the bible suit you and dump the rest while still maintaining the claim that you’re Faithful To Scripture™.

    You’ll be aware of the wee beastie described in Revelation, on which the Whore of Babylon™ sits, has an interestingly dispensationalistic relationship with life, the universe and everything. It once was, now is not, and yet will come (NIV). Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not trying to hang any doctrine on this point – but that’s eerily similar to some people’s conception of God.

  60. TW

    I love that picture. It appears that CJ’s fame has preceded him. Deb will be writing about the CLC vote, and what it means, on Friday. Wait until the lawsuit ramps up in the New Year.

    May God have mercy on those who surround CJ who have turned a blind eye to the plight of the victims and their families. Instead, they chose to surround and uphold this man. Somehow, I do not see Jesus acting in the same way. He seemed to spend His precious time on this earth with the lost and let down. He also was not impressed with the religiosu leaders-calling thme snakes and white washed tombs.

    When Deb and I approached one leader and begged him to try to get through to his friend, we were the ones accused of charcter assassination. I have saved that email and intend to send it back to him as a reminder when the full details of the lawsuit become public.

  61. TW

    Dever will go down in post modern evangelical history as the one who coddled a leader who ran from his congregation. He shows that his emphasis is on leaders first, at any cost.Of course your comments were not welcome. You are just a pew sitter who needs to shut up and get with the program.

  62. TW

    Until this current crop of Calvinistas made complementarianism (gosh I wish they had chosen as shorter word) a priority one mandate, I was content, with just a little push to let if be a secondary issue- agree to disagree- lets move on. but then I began to see that this was a far reaching agenda and that others, such as the SBC was making it a priority as well. So, I decided to push back.

  63. Nick

    There  are acutally people who believe that dispensationalism is a priority one issue, along with comp, YEC, and authoritarianism. Can you imagine? The world is going to hell in a handbasket-sex slavery, poverty, terrorism, etc and all these guys can think about is their own authority. 

  64. “I was always puzzled by the lack of sympathy shown to Palestinians and the emphatic, unquestioning “pro the state of Israel” position.”

    It could be because they followed a charlatan Yasser Arafat who wanted them in camps and not successful or independent and died a billionarie. Yes, a billionaire.

    There is a woeful lack of education about the trajectory going back to the late 1800′s. But if one tries to bring it up, they are automatically labeled a Christian Zionist so why bother? For example, no one mentions all the land Jews bought even before WW1 from the Syranians who laughed all the way to the bank because the Jews were buying what they thought was desert. Or the many offers for independence that were turned down by Arafat. But hey, what are facts?

  65. @ dee:
    Yes, I can easily believe that. Pre-millennialism is another one. I think there’s a pattern behind a lot of these “priority one” issues, in that they’re either abstract doctrines or else superficial practices that are easy to enforce and measure. In other words, they require no transformed life, no fruitfulness and no love. I think of them as somebody trying to build a fake “narrow gate” in the middle of the broad road to destruction.

  66. BTW: I am not a dispensationalist either. I abhor ST of any kind these days. I do prefer democracies and abhor the oppression of women in any form.

  67. @ dee:

    Until this current crop of Calvinistas made complementarianism (gosh I wish they had chosen as shorter word) a priority one mandate…

    I have a shorter word: MALE SUPREMACIST.

  68. @ Haitch:

    Nicholas said: “Christian Zionists just idolize the State of Israel … and they cosider Israel to be a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. They believe that an apocalyptic war in the middle east will usher in the Return of Christ”…

    The legacy of Hal Lindsay and Christians for Nuclear War. Israelis, Arabs, Jews, Goyim, you, me, everybody — only pieces to move about on the End Time Prophecy gameboard. Only boxes to check off on the Rapture-Tribulation checklist. Nothing more.

    My writing partner credits John Nelson Darby and Hal Lindsay with destroying Protestant Christianity in America.

  69. numo wrote:

    afaik, “xitian Zionism” began in the UK, but I need to doublecheck.

    Don’t know about “Christian Zionism”, but “Anglo-Israelism” sure did.

    More like “not friendly with xtian Zionists due to the latter’s anti-semitism. (imo, at least.)

    Not just iyo, Numo. Before I knew it was called Christian Zionism, I coined the name “Anti-Semitic Zionism”.

  70. numo wrote:

    elastigirl – I’m so with you on abandoning “christianese” words and phrases.
    for one thing, they hinder communication with all kinds of people; jargon tends to exclude. For another, most “xtianese” is bad usage and I would rather speak plainly myself.

    There is a difference between a Technical Language and a Mystery Language. In a Technical Language, the jargon is specialized terminology needed for the technical profession. In a Mystery Language, the jargon is to shut out the Apostates and Lukewarm from the Inner Mysteries of the elite Inner Circle.

    In the past, when I mentioned that my mom is an xtian, people within the evangelical/charismatic churches I was in tended to be very condescending when they found out that she is Lutheran. It was as if only their sort of xitan was a “real” xtian.

    Problem is, “Christian” without any adjectives has been redefined as “American Fundagelical”. There is only so much you can do to distance yourself from Loud Crazies who have hijacked your name to mean themselves and only themselves.

    As for Palestinians being caught in the middle – most *all* of them are, regardless of their religious beliefs, lack thereof, upbringing, etc. etc. I’ve heard otherwise sensible people tell me that the Palestinians deserve to be destroyed because they are the direct descendants of the Philistines…

    With the current blood feud you’ve got going in Israel/Palestine, Palestinian Christians get force-fed the s**t sandwich from both sides. To the Israelis, they are Palestinian Arabs, i.e. The Enemy. To Palestinian Muslims, they are Christians, i.e. The Enemy.

  71. There are so many similiarities between Complementarianism and Christian Zionism.

    For example, Christian Zionists believe that “every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by the rest of us.” Grace Halsell.

    Complementarians believe every act taken by male leadership in the church is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported and even praised by women.

    It’s true!

  72. HUG – But… Palestinians are Palestinian. Most other Arabs are greatly prejudiced against them, regardless of their religious background and beliefs.

    And the West Bank is terribly overcrowded, has painfully substandard housing and services. Israel keeps the people there on a very, very tight chain.

    I am not suggesting that extremists do no wrong (they clearly do), but I can’t begin to imagine the hopelessness and despair that haunts the young people (has historically haunted the young people) there. I am not surprised that so many suicide bombers come from the West Bank and Gaza.

  73. And just so people know, I am *not* anti-Israel per se, but I *am* very much against the ideas (political and otherwise) and strategies used by many Israelis against the Palestinians, from 1948 onward.

    It’s all too easy for us humans to use the name of God to justify hatred, greed (including land and real estate seizures) and more – Israelis aren’t exempt.

  74. I’m with numo.

    Anon 1 – (Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 09:37 AM) – I get all that. No disagreement there. There’s a huge swathe of history to be understood, I agree. A lot of trickery, lies, deceit. What I’m meaning is the state of the heart towards a group or race of people what have you. The ignoring of Palestinian people in the national psyche (except as labelled terrorists). West Bank as an example – a walled in ghetto. I have never heard empathy/sympathy, whatever, for those living there. Instead I just hear of “God’s plan for Israel”. Said with emphatic determination. I think those expressing that are confusing Israel the state with ideology/political aims/theology? I’m trying to work that one out.

  75. Numo and all re: Palestine – you may find this site interesting from my former (long ago) Bible teacher and his wife. They taught at Betlehem Bible College and Bethlehem University respectively. He taught Christians and she taught Muslims and they opened a “friendship center” for the Muslim students. My understanding is that the population of Christian Arabs in Palestine and Israel has dramatically decreased since 1948 due to emmigration. Years later back in the US the missionaries ended up at the same church I was a member of when I was studying at his Bible school. I’d left it because they weren’t very evangelical….
    This article for the season is “A Muslim Christmas”. http://davidteeter.org/page24.html