When Today’s Churches Sometimes Act Like Cults

"Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! " Hotel California by the Eagles.

IMG_0204
The Wartburg Witches-Dee's Christmas present to Deb
If you can't beat it; embrace it.
 

Request for stories about singles and the church.

I know that Brad Sargeant will be writing a post about singles and the church. Others, however, may feel intimidated by writing a full post. So, we are requesting short stories as well. These could be a couple of sentences or a few paragraphs in length. We will cobble them together and will also share them with Julie Anne Smith as we do "coast to coast" posts looking at the plight of singles in today's church.

Please send your stories to our email address and put "Singles" in the subject line.


On Friday, I attended an orientation meeting for parents at North Carolina State University (NCSU). My son is a transfer student. He has left a small private college, Samford, (5000 students) for a huge  state university (35,000+). In an information bag given to me, I found a fascinating little pamphlet called Cults on Campus. Look Before You Leap. A synopsis of this handout can be found here under the title of Protect Yourself.

It was prepared by the Chaplin's Cooperative Ministry of NCSU. I love stuff like this and I must confess that I spent more time reading this brochure than listening to a few lectures. There is no copyright on this pamphlet so I thought I might share it with our readers.

I spoke briefly with the Director of this group, Anne Pearce. This body is made up of Protestant, Catholics and Jews link but they also sponsor the Interfaith Coalition here which is made up of other people of faith such as Buddhists, Mormons and Unitarians. I told her that I really liked the pamphlet and intended on sharing it with my readers. I commend this diverse group for trying to protect the students from harmful groups. (Note 6:11PM: This group is not an exclusive Christian group. It is recognized by NCSU as a group that includes all faiths. I found it interesting that such a diverse group could pinpoint cultic behaviors).

I am interested in hearing from our readers. What would you add, or subtract, if you were writing such a brochure to warn people about cults?  As you will see, I will refer to some groups that we write about at TWW that share some characteristics with cults as defined by NCSU chaplaincy.

Their first goal is to help students differentiate between healthy groups and harmful groups.

Among the many clubs and organizations on campus, you'll find numerous religious groups. Some are well organized; some are more informal. Choosing the religious group that is right for you is a very important decision. We want to offer you some information that will help you make an informed, free choice.

They define what constitutes healthy religious groups. Such groups

will tell you a lot about themselves, who they are, what they stand for, and what they expect from you.

TWW wrote a post link in which a new pastor may not have informed his congregation of his true intention when he accepted a call to the new church. Here is what we said.

In fact, his narrative clearly indicates a church that was blind-sided by his absolute, singular emphasis on gender and authority. There has been some discussion on our blog, and others, that some pastors, who receive a call to a church, do not fully explain their view on Scripture. Then they pull a bait and switch and whine when the people do not march lockstep.

We have received comment after comment at TWW, along with a myriad of emails, telling us of pastors and/or leadership teams who secretly plan a major shift in emphasis at a church and keep such plans "under wraps." We believe that any group that does such a thing has serious problems which will rear their ugly heads down the line. I say such behavior is bordering on cult-like control.

Some churches will "hide" their controversial beliefs. For example, I wrote of a former church in which the pastor admitted to hiding an emphasis on a belief in Young Earth because he did not want to drive people away. It was his hope that once a person became a member, he would either change his mind or keep quiet because said person has now developed relationships within the church. Once again, this is a dishonest approach designed to lure people in. Such dishonesty will likely show up in other areas as well.

This sort of "hidden agenda is seen in comments at SGM Survivors in which people claim that they were expected to go to home groups, were disciplined if they did not show up and had their discussions recorded by the home groups leader to be given to the pastors. This was a far cry from their initial introduction to home groups as being a place for happy fellowship.

An open and responsible group will offer an easy entrance to and, more importantly, an easy exit from their group.

Most groups are easy to join. But, some are like the "Hotel California" whose lyrics I quoted at the beginning of this post.

They are programmed to receive but you can never leave.

TWW has reported on case after case of people trying to leave their churches and getting pursued by their former pastors who interfere with their ability to join another church by claiming they are being "disciplined." In fact, it happened to your adorable, yet growing ever wiser, blog queen.

Al Mohler at SBTS and groups like 9 Marks are now saying that people cannot, and should not, easily exit from a church. FBC Jax Watchdog reports Al Mohler saying here

When members leave for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed…we have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations…"

"Christians cannot look to this question as merely a matter of consumerism. We are called to love the church and to pray for its peace and unity, not to look for an opportunity to move to another congregation."

9 Marks, the self designated holder of the keys of authority to the kingdom, concurs by saying that one cannot leave a church unless it is due to a major theological error link and link. This is problematic since they get to define what constitutes a major theological error. I left a church because I disagreed with their latest Neo-Calvinist leanings. Of course, they would be in disagreement with my departure since, of course, Neo-Calvinism is the only correct way to view theology. However, ignoring the keys of authority, I did not ask for permission.

We have heard from so many people who have attempted to leave their church and were told they could not or that they were "under discipline" (a process that does not necessarily mean you have been told, a priori, that you are being so viewed). We wrote a post, vetted by someone who is not unfamiliar with the law, on how to write a letter of resignation if one believes that such tactics would be used. Here is a link to that post.

Within the healthy group one finds an appreciation of diversity, an openness to criticism and doubt, and affirmation of other religious traditions.

There is a difference between "affirmation" and believing another tradition is true. For example, I have heard, one too many times, that Catholicism is a cult. We even wrote a post about Jimmy Smryl's disturbing sermon on the matter link.  In that post, I wrote about Danny Akin's (SEBTS) method for evaluating a cult. From what I can tell of his chart, Catholicism is not one.

We must respect one another or we will bear the consequences of strife. Today, I tweeted that Egyptian President Morsi said the Israelis were descendants of "apes and pigs" link. We need to be like Paul, debating our beliefs with others with respect and kindness.

Yet even within the Baptist tradition, we have the Arminians going against the Reformeds and vice versa. How many churches claim that they are the ones who "really get it? Didn't CJ Mahaney call his church "the happiest place on earth?" If SGM is the happiest place on earth, something is terribly wrong.

As for criticism, we have written post after post of pastors/churches which cannot take criticism. Need we rehash the lawsuits involving Tom Rich and Mac Brunson or Julie Anne Smith and Chuck O'Neal?

How do you identify these harmful groups?

  • They isolate you from family, friends and other groups.
  • They ask you to give up control of your thoughts and decisions.
  • They fill you with guilt and shame.
  • They may promote crises with school, career, or your love life.
  • They frighten you to the point that you stop making decisions and asking questions for yourself.

Two things come to mind with these lists. One is the issue of "sin sniffing" which I had never heard of until I started reading SGM Survivors. For some people, it seems as if their entire church experience consisted of total focus on their sins since the pastors seemed most adept at fostering such an environment. If one is so sinful, they obviously cannot criticize the pastors and leaders who somehow get a pass on the all pervasiveness of sin. In the book by CJ Mahaney called "The Cross Centered Life, it appeared to us that Jesus is left hanging on the Cross and we must leave Him there, never getting to the forgiveness and Resurrection part.

One of the saddest emails that I have received is from a woman who was not allowed to see her nieces because she was appalled at the amount of corporal punishment being advocated by the parents' church. I believe they were employing the Pearl method of spanking babies. She said something, the parents told the church and the pastor told the parents not to let her see the children ever again. I suggested that she report the church to CPS.

They define how vulnerability can make one susceptible to such a group.

You are lonely. You are homesick for familiar friends and places. Your roommate is always out with hometown friends. You miss your steady who is at another school. You are hurting. Your friends forgot to save you a seat at the game. You just had a fight with your family. You are grieving over a person or relationship. You are having a tough time socially Everyone has a date for homecoming except you. You haven't been recruited by anyone else for anything. It's the same dull routine of dinner, homework, and bed. You are in trouble academically You feel like a failure because you are failing something. You are under pressure to improve your grades. You are embarrassed because you've never had low grades before. Remember, these feelings and reactions are normal and can be confronted, put into proper focus, and overcome. However, they are uncomfortable if left unattended, and may make you an easy target for high-pressure religious recruiters.

How do you identify these groups? They say if you can answer yes to 3 of these questions, you should reconsider you involvement.

1. The group seems to be perfect. Everyone agrees and follows all orders cheerfully.
2. The group claims to have "all the answers" to your problems.
3. You are asked to recruit new members soon after joining.
4. You begin to feel guilty and shamed, unworthy as a person.
5. The group encourages you to put their meetings and activities before all other commitments, including studying.
6. The group speaks in a derogatory way about your past religious affiliations.
7. Your parents and friends are defined as unable to understand and help you with religious matters.
8. Doubts and questions are seen as signs of weak faith. You are shunned if you persist in these doubts.
9. Group leadership is mostly male, and males in general are believed to have different rights and abilities than females.
10. You are invited on a retreat, but they won't give you an overview of the purpose, theme, or activities before you go.

Obviously, there is much here that we have discussed

On the brochure they offered one other helpful series of observations called What Should Get Your Attention.

  • Someone suddenly wants to be your best friend.
  • An unusual amount of positive attention from group members
  • An elitist spirit in the group
  • Extreme admiration given to group leaders
  • Intense efforts to persuade you and others to join
  • Many comments criticizing other groups
  • A growing pressure on you to make commitments for the group
  • You feel guilty for saying "no" to their requests.

I would like to add one other personal observation. If church discipline is brought up in an early conversation or makes the top of the list on the "About Us" page of any website-RUN! On this matter, you only need one "yes" to know you are in cultville.

After looking over this information, I felt as if the Cooperative Ministry had written a synopsis of the many posts at TWW. I am surprised how many of these characteristics are seen within the evangelical church as a whole. Somehow, I fear that some churches and groups in today's church are flirting with the boundaries of cultism.

We leave you with the Eagles singing Hotel California. I debated between that and Witchy Woman!

Lydia's Corner: Numbers 24:1-25:18 Luke 2:1-35 Psalm 59:1-17 Proverbs 11:14

Comments

When Today’s Churches Sometimes Act Like Cults — 311 Comments

  1. “They also sponsor the Interfaith Coalition here which is made up of other ‘people of faith’ such as Buddhists, Mormons and Unitarians.”

    No offense Dee, but why exactly is a so-called Christian anti-cult group “sponsoring” cults?

  2. TedS

    No offense. This is not a Christian group. I guess that I didn’t make the point strongly enough. I found it interesting that a loosely affiliated group, made up of all sort of religious faiths, could come up with such an accurate description of cults.

  3. TedS

    Here is what I said “This body is made up of Protestant, Catholics and Jews link but they also sponsor the Interfaith Coalition here which is made up of other people of faith such as Buddhists, Mormons and Unitarians.” This is a group of chaplians from all faiths that are recognized by NCSU-a state university. 

  4. “We have received comment after comment at TWW, along with a myriad of emails, telling us of pastors and/or leadership teams who secretly plan a major shift in emphasis at a church and keep such plans “under wraps.” We believe that any group that does such a thing has serious problems which will rear their ugly heads down the line. I say such behavior is bordering on cult-like control.”

    This happened in the church I went to to escape the Boston Movement. The minister started dropping a few lines about how the early churches met in homes. When one of the members said he thought that the minister was going to encourage us to meet exclusively in homes, I said, “No, he wouldn’t do that.”

    Sure enough, a few months later, we all got a letter saying that that was exactly what he wanted us to do.

    I also find it interesting, looking back, that this announcement was made at the same time that we were on the verge of losing our building . . . yet, the major emphasis was on, “this is the Christian way to meet,” not “we didn’t do a good job of managing our finances, so we’re going to lose our building and this is the best solution we can come to.”

    I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that that minister is now either separated or divorced from his wife, along with at least three other couples that went into the house church movement.

    I don’t have a problem with the church meeting in independent house churches (it is the way they meet in China). But in our case, I think it was handled badly.

  5. Apologies if I’ve already said this, but the quote (attributed to Mohler) perfectly encapsulates the insidious doublethink behind the use of the words “church” and “congregation” as synonyms one second and antonyms the next:

    We are called to love the church and to pray for its peace and unity, not to look for an opportunity to move to another congregation.

    We are, of course, called to love the whole church, the Body of Christ, in our town or city and nation/worldwide. We are similarly called to pray for the peace and unity of the whole of the church: all of the saints in our locality. This is a biblical concept and is conveniently borrowed in the first half of the quoted sentence. Then the meaning is reversed for the second half; and suddenly the “church” becomes a “congregation”. The implication is that the peace and unity of the church, which we are to love, suddenly now refers to a small man-made splinter-group, split off from the rest of the church in the area by tradition, denominational governance, or (worst of all) the private ambition of a small leadership or even an individual leader.

    This, not “church-hopping”, is truly divisive. Those who build and maintain sects are breaking the fellowship of the church, weakening its witness and sacrificing the peace and unity of the saints locally – indeed, far from “preserving” the congregation, they are actively preventing any such thing as a local congregation from developing.

  6. The SBC is quickly going towards a cult status in my book. There are so many things no longer taught that I can’t stand to go anymore.
    My wife attends and she understands why I do not go.
    This authoritarian movement has just turned my stomach so much that it reminds me of a dictatorship rather than a church….

  7. Dee: “We have received comment after comment at TWW, along with a myriad of emails, telling us of pastors and/or leadership teams who secretly plan a major shift in emphasis at a church and keep such plans ‘under wraps.’”

    Some older churches, or shall we say “mature” churches, are finding their attendance and giving going down, and they want “new blood” to invigorate their sagging numbers. So they are easy “marks” for the latest marketing schemes: http://marshill.com/2012/04/10/is-your-church-interested-in-becoming-a-part-of-mars-hill

    At churches I have visited lately, I am seeing the connection to Mars Hill in subtle ways often unbeknownst to the church’s members; so subtle that they do not even realize how they are connected and using MH control tactics through the use of MH technology software known as “The City”: http://marshill.com/about/the-city

    Is your church using or considering signing up for “The City”?

  8. That’s interesting about “The City”, TedS. The SGM church in Charlotte started using it within the last six months.

  9. Lynne, Pam, other Australians… please take care in today’s extreme weather conditions. Very strong wind gusts and high heat here at present. Prayers for those in the fire frontlines appreciated and for minimal damage to property, livestock and critters (eg the wombats – they can’t get a quick move-along).

  10. Dee,

    When my husband and I attended the parent orientation at NC State two years ago, we received that same brochure, and I was so grateful! I had similar thoughts to what you have just posted.

    How sad when Christian organizations adopt cult-like practices. We must all be discerning.

  11. My mother’s cult story (which I think I’ve told here before but it’s been a while):

    The daughter of the family who lived across the street from my mother growing up was sucked into a cult with her husband. It was one of those Christian-ish communal cults with a farm-compound. When they had their baby the woman’s parents bought baby clothes and brought them out to the compound, but the clothes were refused because they were “the work of the devil.” Eventually the woman’s parents had the entire family kidnapped out of the cult. They successfully deprogrammed the wife, but the husband escaped and returned to the cult. Since he always threatened to come back and steal the child, another neighbor who frequently babysat the child got two huge Chows to deter intruders.

    “Group leadership is mostly male, and males in general are believed to have different rights and abilities than females.”

    I’d say in general this is true, but there have been plenty of female cult leaders throughout history. Case in point, Ellen White, who transformed the 19th-century Millerites into Seventh-Day Adventists (still a cult or borderline cult, IMO).

  12. Some churches will “hide” their controversial beliefs. For example, I wrote of a former church in which the pastor admitted to hiding an emphasis on a belief in Young Earth because he did not want to drive people away. It was his hope that once a person became a member, he would either change his mind or keep quiet because said person has now developed relationships within the church. Once again, this is a dishonest approach designed to lure people in.

    BAIT AND SWITCH.

    There is a difference between “affirmation” and believing another tradition is true. For example, I have heard, one too many times, that Catholicism is a cult. We even wrote a post about Jimmy Smryl’s disturbing sermon on the matter link. In that post, I wrote about Danny Akin’s (SEBTS) method for evaluating a cult. From what I can tell of his chart, Catholicism is not one.

    Further confusing the issue is that Christianese cult-watch groups in the ’70s and ’80s had a different definition of “cult” than everyone else. In Christianese, “Cult(TM)” was defined as aberrant theology, not repeat not abusive/manipulative/control freak behavior towards their people. While the Christians were parsing theology letter-by-letter, a LOT of destructive groups with perfectly-parsed theology got through under the radar. And the cult leaders would use their theologically-clean bill of health as a further weapon to abuse their people.

    One of these was the Christian Fellowship(TM) that did a number on me in the Seventies. Their theology was standard Hal Lindsay Fundagelical and had no single “cult leader”, only a groupthink consensus. Though they did support me through my mother’s death in ’75, I did notice points 1-8 of the checklist, plus moderate love-bombing. I credit discovering Dungeons & Dragons and their disapproval of my widowed father’s remarriage for breaking their hold over me.

  13. Pingback: When Today's Churches Sometimes Act Like Cults | The Wartburg … | Church Ministry

  14. stories about being single, huh? I’ve compiled a few of those from some place.

    The ADventists have a sweet real estate gig going on renting space to all those “other” churches on Sunday that aren’t true Sabbatarians, in a few places.

  15. Yes Haitch, seriously praying there will be no loss of life and that the elderly and infirm stay cool and safe.

    Cultish behaviour can appear in groups that have very mainstream credentials. I her student days, my daughter got involved with the EU (Evangelical Union) at Sydney University — about as mainstream as you can get. All went well for a while, and then the Social Work students were assigned a new staff worker, who had been a Christian for a much shorter time than most of the students (many of whom came from Christian families) but was sure she knew what they should be doing. My daughter (who I am inordinately proud of) had several run-ins with her. Crunch time came when the staff-worker told them that if they didn’t fail at least one subject, they weren’t doing enough ministry on campus! My daughter told her that God had called her to be a Social Worker, her parents were paying for her education (much cheaper than US education, especially for the majority of students who commute from home) — and her first duty both to God and her parents was to do as well as she could at her studies!

    Soon after that she resigned completely from the group, but was very concerned at how much some of her fellow students were messed up by this woman.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to the other room to cool down with the a/c for a while!

  16. Does anyone believe this might possibly be true of SGM?
    An elitist spirit in the group

    Or what about this? Could this apply to SGM & The Mahaney’s?
    Extreme admiration given to group leaders

    What would you say if I told you CJ Mahaney** has gone from being the worst sinner he knew when things were going swimmingly in SGM to God’s gift to the world now that they’re a disaster?

    Check this out:

    CJ quoted David Powlison** in a recent message at the Mahaney Refugee Camp “Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville”:

    “A sufferer’s primal need is to hear God talking and to experience Him purposefully at work.” -David Powlison

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/SGCLouisville?fref=ts

    Here’s what his friend John Piper** says about “the sufferer:”

    “How are these suffering saints a gift to the world? The answer lies in their faith. These all were “commended through their faith” (v. 39). That is, they were approved by God. Their suffering was not owing to lack of faith. Rather, the worth of their suffering lay precisely in their faith.” -John Piper

    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/gods-undeserved-gift-to-the-world-christian-sufferers

    Could it be CJ & Carolyn Mahaney are morphing in to “God’s gift to the world” through their suffering, a popular topic with them these days?

    The status concerning CJ’s message at the TGC Conference is “Details Coming Soon.” He normally warms up a message and takes it out for numerous test drives before a conference. Could it be his topic will be Hebrews 11:37–39? I’d say it’s leaning in that direction!

    **All men are speakers at the upcoming national Gospel Coalition (TGC) Conference in April 8-10, 2013
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/2013/speakers/

    What is this now? Day 71???

  17. WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:

    The ADventists have a sweet real estate gig going on renting space to all those “other” churches on Sunday that aren’t true Sabbatarians, in a few places.

    Which is a real kicker, since in SDA End Time Prophecy choreography “Sunday Keeping” IS the Mark of the Beast.

  18. Lynne T wrote:

    My daughter (who I am inordinately proud of) had several run-ins with her. Crunch time came when the staff-worker told them that if they didn’t fail at least one subject, they weren’t doing enough ministry on campus!

    At Cal Poly Pomona in the Seventies, the Navigators had the rep of being the most INTENSE Christian organization on-campus. They also had the rep of having the highest burnout and flunk-out rate.

  19. Lynne – you have every reason to be proud of your daughter, by the sound of it. (I suppose that technically, therefore, your pride in her is not “inordinate”… but I’m being silly now!) It takes unusual resolve and strength of principle and character to stand up to a dominant personality who is sure of herself, and unashamed to belittle others in pushing her ideology.

  20. I came across this (rival?) Blog and thought to myself that it contained some amazing insights into how cultic (imo) blogs thrive. I then thought that the techniques described there are almost identical to those used here. Does anyone agree?

    http://alastairadversaria.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/triggering-and-triggered-1/

    “It has a very friendly, supportive, and welcoming aspect for most participants. However, it frequently – and especially recently – plays upon subtle polarizing moves, moves that enhance the sense of togetherness among those generally supportive of the blog, while seriously misrepresenting and dismissing criticism. This isn’t just about ……, but the tone and functioning of the community that she has built up around her.

    ……makes some pretty bold, unreasonable, and unsubstantiated claims and some fairly incendiary insinuations about opponents, but she handles criticism very poorly. When people push back and call for qualifications, apologies, retractions, fairer representations, and closer engagement I have all too frequently see her play the ‘you are being insensitive’ card and dodge the challenges. For someone who makes some pretty strong accusations against fellow Christians, one should expect her to be prepared to defend them more closely.

    A community that often finds unity in the demonization of those who hold strongly differing views without may find a considerable sense of intimacy and togetherness, but those outside of the community will often feel extremely unfairly treated as they are subject to reactive attacks and misrepresentations. Following this thread of comments, …… has banned me from commenting on her blog. I suggest that you take a look. Many other people who have interacted with ……, her blog, and its community for a period of time have had a similar experience to mine. Such a community looks very different from the perspective of those who fit in than it does from the perspective of those who try firmly to challenge some of the popular misrepresentations that are peddled there.

    My perspective is that …… is trying to play two games at once. She wants protection from strong challenge that she deems offensive, but she also wants to throw some pretty strong accusations at some Christian leaders. However, if one is going to play the latter game, you should expect some kickback, and the accompanying duty to defend and argue for your position. If you play this game, you forfeit the right to take things personally (or to hide behind the sensitivities of your readers) and must stand up for and defend your claims carefully and in detail (as I have been trying to do on this blog).

  21. @ Gavin:

    “She wants protection from strong challenge that she deems offensive, but she also wants to throw some pretty strong accusations at some Christian leaders. However, if one is going to play the latter game, you should expect some kickback, and the accompanying duty to defend and argue for your position. If you play this game, you forfeit the right to take things personally (or to hide behind the sensitivities of your readers) and must stand up for and defend your claims carefully and in detail (as I have been trying to do on this blog).”

    Hmmmm…

    I do agree with the above paragraph. But please delineate how Dee & Deb have not done what it recommends. (I mean strictly D&D, as the words of commenters cannot necessarily be attached to/blamed on the blog owners, and your excerpts are referring to blog owners.) Everyone must “stand up for and defend [their] claims carefully and in detail.” ; )

    “Following this thread of comments, …… has banned me from commenting on her blog. I suggest that you take a look. Many other people who have interacted with ……, her blog, and its community for a period of time have had a similar experience to mine.”

    Your comments have never been deleted; very few commenters have been banned and the one I know of who has been is only on probation and will be eventually be allowed back.

  22. What’s Gavin White’s favorite TV Show?
    -FOX NEWS, because it’s so “fair & balanced”

    Gavin, yo Mama so White, she’s invisible in Winter!

    Gavin, you’re so old you invented the color White!

    THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS MEXICAN:

    1. His first name was Jesus

    2. He was bilingual

    3. He was always being harassed by the authorities

    But then there were equally good arguments that…..

    JESUS WAS BLACK

    1. He called everybody “brother”

    2. He liked Gospel

    3. He couldn’t get a fair trial

    But then there were equally good arguments that…….

    JESUS WAS JEWISH

    1. He went into His Father’s business

    2. He lived at home until he was 33

    3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin, and his Mother
    was sure he was God

    But then there were equally good arguments that…….

    JESUS WAS ITALIAN

    1. He talked with his hands

    2. He had wine with every meal

    3. He used olive oil

    But then there were equally good arguments that…….

    JESUS WAS A CALIFORNIAN

    1. He never cut his hair

    2. He walked around barefoot

    3. He started a new religion

    But then there were equally good arguments that…….

    JESUS WAS IRISH

    1. He never got married

    2. He was always telling stories

    3. He loved green pastures

    But perhaps the most compelling evidence ………

    THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS A WOMAN …..

    1. He had to feed a crowd at a moment’s notice when
    there was no food

    2. He kept trying to get the message across to a bunch
    of men who JUST DIDN’T GET IT

    3. Even when He was dead, He had to get up because
    there was more work for him to do.

    This was for you Gavin. I just wanted to balance your comment with some humor!

    :-) Have a good day!

  23. Gavin,

    Try posting a critical comment on one of those Calvinista blogs and see what happens. We are keeping track in our “My Comment Was Deleted” section.

    In the meantime, you comments stand here at TWW, proving that your insinuations that we are cultish are unfounded. Cheers!

  24. Evie
    I think the term is “person of colour”

    Deb
    Strange though it may seem, I’ve never been ‘moderated’ by them. Does that mean I’m their soul brother’?

  25. Cultic blogs?? That’s a stretch to the imagination.

    To the subject at hand. We are withdrawing our membership from our local 501c3. Having been members of this local congregation for 26 years, it is a grievous affair.
    It came about because a new, younger pastor decided (by stealth) he didn’t like congregational polity. So on the sly he put together a committee (secretly meeting) with the mission of changing congregational polity to quasi presbytarian elder led rule. In the meantime, he gave countless sermons on why the congregation should not question the leadership but rather get behind them. Female deacons have been removed and women have been delegated into silly services such as hosting tupperware type parties as a means of evangelism (what a joke) and ladies’ fellowship. (barf) Did I mention Piper and Gospel Coalition are now revered and the ESV our new sacred text?
    Could go on and on reciting the treacherous route these dishonest, manipulative men have walked in destroying an independent, non denominational 165 year old church.
    Breaks the heart of this 62 year old woman.

  26. Lynne

    I think you are making an important point. A group which may be just fine in one location, can get kooky in another. Good for your daughter. I made a point to my kids that we were paying for college, not for an extended adolescence. We wanted them to enjoy themselves and make lots of friends but in the ned, the studies came first. If they didn’t, no money.

    Good for your daughter. How is the weather now? I put a prayer request under the header.

  27. SMG

    He learned two important lessons: which team to support and which clothing line is cool (Southern Tide).

    He loved his time at Samford as did my daughter. However, he hated pharmacy and decided to do accounting and in particular, forensic accounting. NCSU is huge and actually has that subspecialty within accounting. Now, he is still young. Who knows!  He may end up driving a Zamboni at a Hurricanes game- a lifelong ambition of his old lady.

    Roll Tide! Always!

  28. Lin -

    I am so sad to hear what has happened at your church. It must be very hard to withdraw from the church you have been a part of. I’ve heard of this type of takeover happening more and more. I’m just curious how long you have been there? What is the reaction of other members? It seems that it is not to difficult for new leaders to come in, find enough people to sway with praise and addoration and to see things their way and take over. I’m just curious how this happens with a congregational church though. Was there an actual vote to change the polity?

  29. Gavin

    Compared to many bloggers, lets take the TGC crowd for example, I think we handle critique very well. I rarely delete comments and often allow people to insult me. I get emails all the time that ask me to delete comments written by harsh critics. I will not do it. I have a list of “What the world is saying about the Wartburg watch ” in order to throw some humor in to the mix.

    For example, I allowed the vitriol of Chuck O’Neal’s comment to stand. After a couple of years of insults by “jimmy/seneca,” I finally put him on ice for just 2 weeks to cool off and told him I would allow him back. He has not yet reappeared.

    It is one of my goals to show that we have more cojones than many of “real men” of TGC who deleted comments and duck criticism. You may not like me, Gavin, but you cannot truthfully say that I cleanse this site of critique. In fact, didn’t you just get done criticising the language here? 

    As for defense of my thoughts, I have been doing that for 3 years and am not in the least concerned by anyone who pushes back. There are a couple of pastors who could tell you stories…

  30. Bridget….
    Been members 26 years.What happened was we had a number of older saints (in late 50s early 60s) retire and moved south.We also had some in their late 40s forced to move because of employment and a few saints in their 60s died or are home bound because of illness.
    We also had a longstanding, small Christian School which the new Pastor heavilly promoted in the community. Brought in a lot of younger folks (late 20s) who the new Pastor mentored in his calvinista dogma. So when a vote came, the young outnumbered the old and the new polity was voted in.
    I will also add some members felt chased out and left when the new Pastor basically told them to find a church they ‘d be more suited to. In addition the church had no debt ever and had built up an endowment for the Christian school. The new leadership is running through money like a duck through water.No sense of thankfullness to ones who came before them who kept the church out of debt and well maintained and established the school.
    I know this kind of story is happening frequently. We are not alone in our grief. The family of God is changing into an elite corporation of men. Lord help us.

  31. As much as I agree with the idea of helping students avoid bad groups, and as much as I agree with some of what is said in this pamphlet, I am suspicious of other aspects of this pamphlet.

    Many of the statements that come right out of Jesus’ mouth would violate these rules.

    But, as I said, some of them are good rules, and I hope it helps those who might otherwise be harmed.

  32. Hester

    He was put on ice for 2 (or was it 3) weeks. I told him he could come back after that time but he hasn’t reappeared. And this was after almost 3 years of constant critique and disparagement of victims of abuse. One commenter we deleted because the accusations of graft by a ministry were pure conjecture with no proof offered. Another was due to some over the top name-calling although both still comment and are friends. I have changed a few words on a few comments to slightly tone it down. A couple of times we asked the commenter to reword their comment. 

    We have a liberal comment policy and people are notifed if, and when, comments are deleted. We put a note in the comment thread. If no note appears, your comment has not been deleted, just not received or approved because Dee is using her new rechargable vacuum cleaner or shopping and will do the approval when the dog hair is eradicated. We never, ever just delete a comment without letting people know. 

    It is one of the goals of this blog to show that we can take it.And “take it” we do!

  33. How interesting that the ‘cultic’ blogs stuff is referencing Rachel Held Evans…funny that after reading her for years I haven’t noticed the ‘cultic’, rather than ‘partisan’ properties there…

    I think Alastair was wrong in his comments, I don’t think she necessarily handles criticism poorly, what I think is that some male bloggers & commentators have ABSOLUTELY no idea of the amount & type of criticism Rachel takes,not just for her opinions, but by dint of being an opinionated woman.

    There is a special kind of vitriol reserved for those who are being held to usurp the gospel, just through being the wrong gender & speaking out. It’d be nice if that wasn’t true. It’s naieve to think it isn’t. It would be an education for all if we could study the kind of criticism she makes with those she receives, in all formats.

    Thanks for today’s message from the pulpit Gav, I’m touched by your concern.

  34. Lin

    Please read the post that i linked to in this current thread. This happened to two of the most wonderful people you can imagine. Their pastor called them wicked and unregenrate because they believed that women could be deacons. Women had been deacons until this pastor arrived with an apparent agenda. We proved our point in two posts on the matter. It broke their heart. i also learned from them and will never be a member of a church with a Neo-Calvinist pastor like we have described. We, too, have just left a church with one.

  35. Dee – Thanks for allowing O’Neal’s comments to stand – - it will be permanent history for those studying spiritual abuse. I’m sure most here noticed he ran off to “safer” water. He now posts where he gets to control the delete button on comments that disagree with him. I allow people to disagree with me. It doesn’t bother me in the least.

    BTW – thanks for bringing up this topic on spiritual abuse. January is the month designated for Spiritual Abuse Awareness. As you know, this topic hits me close and personal.

  36. Anonymous

    This pamphlet was written by a diverse group of people. It is not meant to be read like the words of Jesus. However, I find it interesting that such diversity could pinpoint many areas of concern that today’s evangelical church might embrace. Just to alleviate your worries, CRU, Intervasity, and other such groups are listed as apporpriate organzations. You can see them at the link.

  37. Dear Deb
    Does that mean I’m a soul sister as well?

    Dear Dee
    Far from not liking you, I appreciate what you’re doing and why and I know I have benefited from your tolerance.

    Dear Beakerj
    I’m sure you had your fingers in your ears during the sermon.

  38. Dee:

    Thanks for that perspective. Context is everything, isn’t it? With CRU and Intervarsity listed as acceptable, that gives a comforting context.

    When I mentioned Jesus, I was thinking of statements like these:

    Am I the way, the truth and the life…

    If any man comes after me, he must hate his father, mother etc…

    I am the bread of life…

    Etc.

    But with the context you have provided, it is clear they are not taking aim at groups that make exclusive truth claims.

  39. Lin–been there done that TWICE with SBC churches.

    Yes, when newcomers visit and are over the target demographic age and are told at the door “We welcome you to worship with us today but this will not be a church where you will be happy and fit in” it was time to leave.

    Stealth into calvinista and stealth into elder led and stealth into purpose driven.

    At my first experience of this, women were not deacons but many were chairs of committees. New pastor immediately decreeed we could serve on committees but only deacons could chair them. We started the business of voting on committees. Got to the kitchen committee, the pastor laughed and said a woman could chair it. Lady who had run it for years was nominated. She (elderly) stood to her full about 5 feet tall, said she respectfully saw no need for any but a deacon to chair it, glared at the rest of the women, and the chagrined pastor watched a deacon be voted in to chair it.

    Got to the financial committee. We had had a lady CPA serve as chair of that/church treasurer for years. Pastor noted she could continue to keep the books and do the work, but we needed to elect a deacon to sign the work. She resigned immediately rather than risk her CPA license that way.

    But you know what? While the SBC declines, and while the doom and gloomers decline, and while the one’s that seem to delight in the thought of someone else going hell decline, around here non denom Biblical churches are thriving.

    God isn’t going out of business, He’s just apparently closing down some franchises.

    (And yes, I CAN leave your church if your new rock concert format hurts my ears. Just watch my dust!)

  40. Stealth into calvinista and stealth into elder led and stealth into purpose driven.

    Just like when Stalin took over Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WW2. Except then it was called “Salami Tactics”; just one more little bitty slice at a time, over and over again, until the Russian Bear had eaten it all.

  41. @ dee:
    Re comments: I went to the 9Marks article you linked (Don’t leave your church unless they’re in serious theological error). Only 2 comments there– 1st one “Good article” 2d one, summarized, “Our pastors are so busy with *ministry* they have no time for their wives, let alone the flock. Do I stay in the church and betray my personal convictions, so do I leave as peacefully as I can? Help!”
    Response from 9Marks—

    (crickets chirping)
    On 1-3-13 I made just the second comment on a post on a certain blog. I simply and nicely asked the author to clarify an unclear phrase (“criminal accusations” — does this mean you think the accusations are criminal, or falsely accuse you of being a criminal?) and what pastors/churches have supported his response to said accusations? Response–5 days in moderation. I’ll give it some more time before anonymously posting details to “my comment was deleted”.

  42. Anonymous

    I find it fascinating when people, some of whom are outside of the faith, can spot trouble areas that we are blind to within the faith. I think we self talk so much that we sometimes do not see the trouble areas until there is a breaking point. For example, things are changing but there are still some things being said about domestic violence and the submission of women that are downright embarrassing. Yet, because they are said by so-called “leaders” they are accepted as gospel by the pew sitters.Sometimes we need to be called on it by outsiders.

  43. Lin wrote:

    Cultic blogs?? That’s a stretch to the imagination.
    To the subject at hand. We are withdrawing our membership from our local 501c3. Having been members of this local congregation for 26 years, it is a grievous affair.
    It came about because a new, younger pastor decided (by stealth) he didn’t like congregational polity. So on the sly he put together a committee (secretly meeting) with the mission of changing congregational polity to quasi presbytarian elder led rule. In the meantime, he gave countless sermons on why the congregation should not question the leadership but rather get behind them. Female deacons have been removed and women have been delegated into silly services such as hosting tupperware type parties as a means of evangelism (what a joke) and ladies’ fellowship. (barf) Did I mention Piper and Gospel Coalition are now revered and the ESV our new sacred text?
    Could go on and on reciting the treacherous route these dishonest, manipulative men have walked in destroying an independent, non denominational 165 year old church.
    Breaks the heart of this 62 year old woman.

    That is tremendously sad. We were driven out of our last church for similar reasons, except the new “polity” was Purpose Driven. It was done by stealth, behind everyone’s backs, with a special group of power brokers including one couple that was only brought in because they had $$$, one time new members almost got accepted without a vote because the pastor “forgot.” Thankfully one of the more sensible deacons realized the “error” and said something. Suddenly no one who wasn’t a part of his group was ever again seen on the platform. His plans were pushed on the congregation via guilt manipulation by deacons and others from his group. They were manipulated into raising tons of money to build an enormous building the congregation really couldn’t afford to maintain, and then they were manipulated into continuing to give and give and give and made to feel guilty if they didn’t. One guy said, “What about my mortgage?!” The shenanigans got so ridiculous we decided to vote with our feet and leave.

    I find it amazing that these men don’t see how unethical, deceitful, and dishonest they are. They think they can just come in and take over and make the organization what they want. They either get hired on false pretenses because they always intended to do this or they fell for some line they heard somewhere after they got hired so they now think they have to do this and this is how it’s done. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s Purpose Driven or this New Calvinistic take over because the character is the same. Very very very sad.

    I’m sorry for you that you are going through this, but more so that yet another church is being hijacked and for all the people who are being convinced to go along with it. :(

  44. Bridget wrote:

    Lin -
    I am so sad to hear what has happened at your church. It must be very hard to withdraw from the church you have been a part of. I’ve heard of this type of takeover happening more and more. I’m just curious how long you have been there? What is the reaction of other members? It seems that it is not to difficult for new leaders to come in, find enough people to sway with praise and addoration and to see things their way and take over. I’m just curious how this happens with a congregational church though. Was there an actual vote to change the polity?

    I don’t think an actual vote would be allowed. I think they would do something more like what Driscoll did and dissolve the church, or cancel everyone’s memberships however they would do that, and make people rejoin under the new terms. I don’t think a vote would be consistent with militant opposition to congregational rule as these guys are engaged in. They think congregational rule is evil. James MacDonald said congregational rule is of the devil. They aren’t likely to say, “Hi. We’re pirates who’ve come to hijack your church, if that’s OK with you. Just let us know by vote.” I’d be astounded if this church was allowed to vote to ditch congregational rule.

  45. Lin wrote:

    Bridget….
    So when a vote came, the young outnumbered the old and the new polity was voted in.

    OK. I am astonished. Really.

    I wonder if they would have allowed a vote had they not been confident of the outcome?

  46. Gavin, I think you are off base with regards to Deb and Dee. Some of the commenters here may be the way you describe, but that is different. Deb and Dee have generally been non-controlling in the way they’ve handled things.

  47. Anonymous

    On another issue, I am interested in your reply to my comment in which I discussed the various issues regardng inerrancy. I do not mind if you disagree with me but I am looking for some insights into my questions. My basic premise is this.

    If the Bible is meant to be inerrant due to its creation by our Father, then why is it so debated by honest, intelligent conservative theologians. For this argument, I want to stick to thosse theologians, who like myself, adhere to the standard basic beliefs of the Virgin Birth, Cross Resurrection, Second Coming, God as Creator, etc. I know that both of us are on the same page in this area.

    Now, let’s go to the doctrine of election.There is significant disagreement on what this entails. Roger Olson just wrote a magnifcent essay in Christinaity Today. However, John Piper contends that one is in sin if they do not like the doctrine of election because we are to like what God likes.He has a rigid defintion of what constitues election.  I disagree with Piepr’s interpretation on this matter and tend to agree with Olson. But according to Piper, I, along with Olson,presumably, am in sin. Next Ken Ham routinely claims that Christinas who do not believe in a Young Earth are in danger of denying the doctrine of the atonement which would be sin. Other will have differences in gender roles, baptism ,etc.

    My current thinking is this. If there are rules of the game as to what consitututes sin and it is the responsibility of Christians to avoid sin, why isn’t the Bible more clear? If I receive some instructions to put together a gas grill and the instructions are vague and I put it together and it blows up, I have the right to sue the manufacturer for not making the instructions more clear. I have been harmed by vague directions. Yet how much more important are the very rules which govern my faith?

    If inerrancy is the name of the game, why does it matter if we cannot understand, and agree to, the beliefs inherent in this inerrancy? I believe that God can make things saliently clear as He does when He says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. So, why didn’t He?

  48. What troubles me is the number of young Christians who are being raised in these strange churches believing that these dynamics are “normal” and that they, too, should act this way as a leader when they grow up.

    I know a church that is flirting with some of these unhealthy attitudes. I happen to know some of the people in leadership. They all have the best intentions in the world. But they really think that this approach to leadership is “normal” and they have been trained to see anything else as being “unGodly” (and so they, themselves, are fearful to behave any other way lest they turn away from what the Bible “really” says about leadership and church organization, etc. etc.)

  49. @ anonymous:

    From what I understand, the new pastors attract new people (not always new converts) and teach a new doctrine (elder led). The new, usually younger, congregants believe this wonderful pastor is “God’s gift” to the church and believe everything he says is “thus sayeth.” New pastor waits until he has enough support (maybe including made enough promises to people) and takes a vote to “take away the vote” and become an elder led (rules?) church. It happened in a church that was being adopted by SGM. To say the least, there would be a small problem if that church was congressional.

  50. Bridget wrote:

    @ anonymous: From what I understand, the new pastors attract new people (not always new converts) and teach a new doctrine (elder led). The new, usually younger, congregants believe this wonderful pastor is “God’s gift” to the church and believe everything he says is “thus sayeth.” New pastor waits until he has enough support (maybe including made enough promises to people) and takes a vote to “take away the vote” and become an elder led (rules?) church. It happened in a church that was being adopted by SGM. To say the least, there would be a small problem if that church was congressional.

    Yeah. :(

    You what boils my blood about that? It's that they don't just go and start their own church under that doctrine if that's what they want to be. Why do they think they have the right to usurp another church like that? But they think they have not only the right but a mandate to do this?

  51. @ Jeff S:

    I would assume that most of these pastors are coming out of a seminary — what seminary? That is where I would look for the answer as to why they think usurping a congregation by deception is acceptable. Other than that, which is enough in itself, maybe they don’t want to do the hard work of starting a church. They want an easier path to a paycheck, and I think they really believe they are doing the Lord’s work — especially when seminary professors tell them so.

  52. Jeff S wrote:

    not sure how Jeff S occurred.

    I will spare the details, but it involved my mother and father some 38 years ago!

    Lol!!! :D

  53. linda wrote:

    God isn’t going out of business, He’s just apparently closing down some franchises.

    Great line! Can I tweet it? (With credit?)

  54. Tikatu

    Do you tweet? Under Tikatu? If any readers tweet, let me know. I will be a loyal follower.

  55. Dee:

    I see that very phenomenon in Christian and other groups I am with. People don’t realize how ridiculous something is or sounds when they say it in a room of people who are initiated and fully on board. But if they say it in public, they pick up on the dissonance many times, but it helps when outsiders point it out.

  56. dee wrote:

    Tikatu
    Do you tweet? Under Tikatu? If any readers tweet, let me know. I will be a loyal follower.

    Yes, I do! I just quoted the line with a TinyURL to the appropriate post as credit, and did @wartwatch, so it should be showing up on your twitter.

  57. @Linda……sorry you’ve also faced the same deceitful tactics and been forced to find another fellowship.
    I like your little old kitchen lady story. God bless her bravery. BTW, the new leadership also dumped our deaconesses. @ linda:

  58. YES!! There is truth to that. Walk into well established congregations(finances in order) and proceed to steal authority, financial stability. @ Bridget:

  59. Lin, It is happening all over. They want what others have built up and they want control. they think they are entitled because they have “truth” and the pew sitters who paid for it all are really doctrinally ignorant.

    They are little tyrants who must do it stealthfully which makes them deceivers and right out of the Book of Jude. And the Nicolaitans in Rev.

    And yes, they are learning this in seminary and it is all affirmed by their Reformed gurus they cannot get enough of.

    I lived through the PDL craze that turned churches upsdie down. Again the young (I was one of them). The only thing they did not have was the determinist doctrine to go with it so it was a bit harder to herd the cats so it was all done on the totalitarian niceness program. The visionary leaders going places and doing great things for God.

    The Reformed have the determinism that ends up owning your soul as they are the philosopher kings who must interpret scripture for you.

    Why do the usually authority repugnant young go along with it and fill the pews? I think some research should be done on this but my take is 80 years of socialistic education. I think there is a huge entitlement mentality out there that says church should care for me, government should care for me, etc. They check their brains at the door. They also want to be a part of something they think is meaningful. again, checking brains at the door.

    I could tell you stories about takeovers taht would curl your hair. I have seen some cruel evil things done in the Name of Jesus. Not too long ago, one church was taken over by Mohler’s people at SBTS stealthfully and made a part of Highview. The pastor of Highview at the time was Kevin Ezell. The new president of NAMB. The church planting arm of the SBC. You know, the one who was partnering with Acts 29 and planting only Reformed churches.

    NAMB: The jobs program for the new Reformed grads at SBTS.

  60. @ anonymous:
    Yes they had the vote or else they would have postponed…
    However, the new replacement polity folks voted in, doesn’t allow the congregation to vote on anything ecclesiastical or financial. I think they can vote for deacons the elders put up for consideration!
    Folks were so intimidated by the pastor telling them Congregational polity was, unbiblical and liberal, they gave the elders and pastor complete control. Of course the irony (lost on them) is they VOTED the new polity in and then lost their right to vote. How strange indeed the pastor didn’t mind congregational voting to making congregational voting a thing of the past.

  61. linda wrote:

    We started the business of voting on committees. Got to the kitchen committee, the pastor laughed and said a woman could chair it. Lady who had run it for years was nominated. She (elderly) stood to her full about 5 feet tall, said she respectfully saw no need for any but a deacon to chair it, glared at the rest of the women, and the chagrined pastor watched a deacon be voted in to chair it.

    Linda – if I’m reading your story correctly, I would do anything to meet the elderly lady who used to run your church’s kitchen committee before the deacon. Just to give her a big hug for standing her ground so gracefully. It’s a really dated phrase but in this instance I think she deserves a hearty “you GO, girl!”

    To you and Lin – both of your stories are heartbreaking. I am so very sorry for what you are experiencing.

  62. Jeff S wrote:

    not sure how Jeff S occurred.
    I will spare the details, but it involved my mother and father some 38 years ago!

    Good one! No details needed.

  63. Pingback: When Today's Churches Sometimes Act Like Cults | The Wartburg … |

  64. Rafiki–thanks! Given her age at the time, I assume we’ll have to wait until heaven to hug Mrs. C. We are not currently experiencing any of this stealth nonsense because when we encounter it, we leave, plain and simple. I prefer not to hold active formal membership now.

    And to those that noticed: yes, I believe these stealth tactics are really stealing a building, bought and paid for. I’ve notice they tend not to steal churches with financial burdens. Noticed their target demographic is never poor people.

    But it is getting downright funny: so many of the young restless and reformed are to be quite blunt no longer to young and hip. They still see themselves that way, and are starting to be as ridiculous as those old women who still dress and behave as if 86 is the new 16. Still hollering that what they are doing is what will “win the young people” in spite of the fact today’s young people reject what they are peddling.

    But personally speaking great good has come from all of this. I’ve walked away from the Pharisees, the gloom and doom, and the depression producing faith they hawk.

    And I’ve gained recovering The GOOD News.

  65. Well, a little victory here over the ‘stealth.’
    We attended Christmas Eve service at my daughter and her husband’s church in Seattle. As we walked in I was shocked to see a book among a few books that lined a narrow decorative display on the stairway wall. They were not for sale but seemed more of statements in book form. I was shocked because one of them was John Piper’s Desiring God. Even though this daughter doesn’t know much about Piper, everything she has told me about her pastor just did not fit the picture. I mentioned it to her during the service and she encouraged me to talk to him about it. I wasn’t going to, only having met him one other time and I didn’t want to be ‘troublemaker’ on Christmas Eve! But after the service he was hanging around my family so long talking and welcoming, I thought maybe I am just supposed to say something, so I did. In the course of our conversation, he said that he did not agree with Piper on stuff and named someone else who was in charge of that book wall for putting it there, kind of alluding to that maybe he knew that guy had leaning toward Piper et al. Yet he sort of defended the actual book, while still assuring me that he himself was not Calvinist or anti women in leadership,etc. And THEN, on Dec. 26 I emailed my daughter telling her how I do not think it was a co-incidence that my favorite blog TWW just posted a new post about Piper trying to ‘clarify’ his stance on abuse, and that we really hadn’t discussed him there recently, and I emailed her the TWW link asking her either for her pastor’s email or forward my message to him.
    A couple days ago I asked my very busy daughter if she had read the link yet and/or passed on my email. She had forgotten about but promptly finished reading it and sent it on to her pastor, who very quickly got back to her, after reading the TWW link, saying very nice things about me and appreciating our conversation Christmas Eve, and then he proceeded to say some really bad things about Piper and informed my daughter that the book is now removed from their church!!!

  66. I do however think that I need to say that I have never read Desiring God, so I have no opinion on whether that book itself is any good.

  67. Anon 1
    Can you tell me if this move by NAMB was implemented before or after the removal of their president Geoff Hammond?

    Thanks
    Gavin

  68. Eagle wrote:

    But I guess it was meant to happen…others I had known had their burnout in other parts of the country or in one case Africa.

    Well “Missionary to Darkest Africa” HAS been THE prestige posting for a LONG time.

  69. Dee, we are fine here on the coast (the largest population centres) a lovely cool southerly came through in the early hours and today we are happily in the mid 70′sF. But inland is still like a furnace, and there are still some very nasty fires around — but, incredibly, not one in the National Parks that surround Sydney. And, even more amazing, by the grace of God and the fantastic efforts of our firefighters, not a single life has been lost! But there will be more hot weather to come (though probably not as extreme)

  70. linda wrote:

    But it is getting downright funny: so many of the young restless and reformed are to be quite blunt no longer to young and hip. They still see themselves that way, and are starting to be as ridiculous as those old women who still dress and behave as if 86 is the new 16. Still hollering that what they are doing is what will “win the young people” in spite of the fact today’s young people reject what they are peddling.

    Like the “thin grey ponytails” in the California legislature and a lot of cities and counties. In their 50s and 60s, Assemblymen/Senators/whatever-for-life (with their sons inheriting their office), all reliving their glory days in 1968 Berkeley — “DOWN WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT! STICK IT TO THE MAN!” I got news for these my betters: When you’re a high official for life (in a position of power that’s becoming hereditary), you ARE The Establishment. You ARE The Man.

  71. Gavin, I get the Impression you are not interested in direct and clear communication. There is no plausible deniability with direct and clear communication. Perhaps if you were direct and clear you could not claim you were providing balance. :-)

    So…..land the plane.

  72. Gavin,

    All indicators point to after Hammond. Who knows it might be 1 reason they wanted to get rid of him to put Mohler's loyal Lt. in. That is usually how it works. I do not know a lot about Hammond. His tenure was cut quite short. Word around the blogosphere was that he was incompetent. I don't believe that for 1 minute. He inherited a huge mess…..

  73. oh Pam, that is beyond sick –yet, yes, all too horribly familiar. It doesn’t matter what the belief system is, misogyny is alive and well on planet earth and will always find a way, however grotesque and convoluted, to prove it was the woman’s fault.

    If something is stolen, it is the thief’s fault, if someone is murdered, it is the killer’s fault, yet somehow, when it comes to rape and sexual abuse, it is always the victim’s fault! And the angels weep ..

  74. dee wrote:

    I bet they will now give extra credit for students from SBTS to attend.

    Gotta say, I’m not shedding any tears Dee! Looks to me like SOMEONE has put Big Ole SGM Ministries on a forced Size-Reduction Diet. And why might that be??

    I think this is more like Day 74 or something isn’t it? Crazy!

  75. linda wrote:

    Lin–been there done that TWICE with SBC churches.
    God isn’t going out of business, He’s just apparently closing down some franchises.
    (And yes, I CAN leave your church if your new rock concert format hurts my ears. Just watch my dust!)

    Ok I’m new here so I’m assuming SBC is the southern baptists no? I have survived a couple of those, the most recent one I finally left because the mohawk music leader (electric guitar + converse tennis shoes + goatee YEE HAW) decided to “attract” the Lost to our church by blasting dirty rap music in the parking lot. And I mean Dirrrrrty.
    That church had a very long history in this town, but the new leadership destroyed it. Literally unrecognizable – all the people over 40 were driven out by the screeching electric guitar, and suddenly they have major financial woes and the leadership is at war.

    Not to mention that I suffered almost 7 years of domestic abuse and when I reached out the SBC pastor they took my husband to lunch and left me to deal with what came afterwards. I’m alive, no thanks to them.

    It is my wish to see these patriarchy churches reap everything they have sown. I hope they have to meet in tents under overpasses someday.

  76. Quote:

    TWW has reported on case after case of people trying to leave their churches and getting pursued by their former pastors who interfere with their ability to join another church by claiming they are being “disciplined.”

    I’m not doubting that has happened, but, it seems to be the opposite with most churches.

    In some material I’ve read on people leaving church, one guy who did a study on this said the big problem is the opposite: most churches don’t bother to ask you why you left, if they even notice that you’re gone.

    Quote:

    I know that Brad Sargeant will be writing a post about singles and the church. …we are requesting short stories as well. These could be a couple of sentences or a few paragraphs in length.

    I shall consider sending you guys an e-mail with a few comments about what it’s like to be an over-age-35 never- married Christian in the church today, but anything I say would likely be a repeat of comments I’ve already left on this blog previously.

    A few points (especially if I don’t get around to sending an e-mail):

    1. Never-marrieds (especially ones without children) are usually treated like second-class citizens in Christianity.

    The American church has made an idol out of the 1950s nuclear family, when most households today (around 50 – 51%, if I’m not mistaken) are headed by, or consist only of, singles.

    Jesus Christ said Christian family is to be based on Him, not on flesh and blood ties (should be based on spiritual ties, not earthly ones).

    Most sermons and church activities are for marrieds and parents, so singles (and the child-less / child-free) feel very overlooked, unimportant, and left out.

    2. Instead of bonding over Christ, most church attendees want to bond over marital / parenting status:
    When you walk into a church, if you are even noticed at all, the first questions they always ask are, “How many years have you been married?,” and “How many kids do you have?”

    When you answer, “No, no kids, and never married” you are treated like a leper, a freak, or a bore.

    3. The American church idolizes marriage yet does nothing to give practical aid in helping its singles pair up – nothing beyond trite, unhelpful advice such as, “Join eHarmony [dating site]!,” or “Grow your hair long and lose 10 pounds!”

    If you say you want marriage and want help in that area, you will either be told, “No, we can’t have Sunday school classes turned into meat markets!,” or one of the many Christianese cliches:
    “You should be content in your singleness,” “You have the gift of singleness,” “Stop looking for The One and be The One,” and “Jesus is all you need.”

    If marriage is that great, like evangelicals say it is, why aren’t they helping singles get married? Why are they trying to keep Christian singles single?

    Regarding this: hiding an emphasis on a belief in Young Earth because he did not want to drive people away If you’re YEC, there’s no need to hide it. I don’t see why it would drive any one away to know the pastor or church is largely YEC.

    Mohler said,

    “When members leave for insufficient reason”

    So does he get to determine what is “insufficient”?

    So what if I choose to leave a church over a reason most would think is ‘insufficient’? Why does he think that’s his business?

    Mohler said,

    “we have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations…”

    Says who? I sure do have a right to leave for those reasons, and any other ones.

    Mohler said,

    “Christians cannot look to this question [when to leave a church or choosing a church] as merely a matter of consumerism.”

    That’s a strange thing to say, because most churches are creating that mindset themselves by going the marketing route to draw people in.

    Many churches are acting like they are Pepsi or McDonald’s, using snazzy graphics, radio spots, fancy logos, big screens in the sanctuary, sports bar motifs in church decor, rock and roll music in worship, and installing coffee bars to lure in 20 year old kids or hyper-masculine manly men.

    Most churches are so “seeker friendly” they have dumped substance for the superficial.

    American churches are creating the consumerist mindset by adopting a business model way of increasing numbers and appealing to the lowest common denominator… so Mohler should not be surprised when church goers develop a consumerist mentality.

    Most churches are oddly impersonal, especially the huge ones (by huge, I am including even the 800 – 1,000 member range, not just the mega ones with 20,000+ membership). I think that is part of the fall out from the “seeker friendly” model (to get as many members as one can).

    I went to one church like that faithfully every single Wednesday night for about two years (I also went to some of the Sunday services every so often), and I also went to some of their social events – alone. While there, even at the social functions, nobody shook my hand, asked my name, asked me to sit with them.

    It’s very hard for single people to walk in to church alone, especially for the real shy types – so if you see an adult walking in all alone, or milling around a church social event alone, ask them if they’d like to sit with you.

    At least chat with them for a few minutes if you don’t ask them to sit with you, but do not ask, “are you married” or “how many kids do you have.”

    If you must ask those questions, at least chat them up about other issues first, like ask them where they work, do they have hobbies, etc. (Don’t make marital / parenting status the big thing, the first thing you ask, or the only thing.)

    I haven’t been to church in 2 or 3 years now, but if I ever go back, and I am ignored like that, I will not go back.

    This Mohler guy is not taking into account how lonely it can be to step foot into a church, especially if you are unmarried – even if all their theology would get a passing grade from him.

    I also will not go back if I hate the music, the way the pastor dresses, or whatever I decide, so Mohler can stuff it.

    Quote,

    that one cannot leave a church unless it is due to a major theological error -link- and -link-.

    In my view, Calvinism (particularly the more hard line form of it) and gender complementarianism would fall under pretty major theological errors – not up there with “denying- the- deity- of- Christ” type of error, but pretty bad. Does Mohler ever stop to consider that, that some of us other Christians are doubtful about his theological leanings on some topics?

  77. Daisy

    Thanks for the comment. And keep reading this blog. Pastors are pursuing their people more ad more. SGM supposedly does this as do other Calvinista churches. 

  78. Two things:

    1. Male leadership is no necessary indicator of a cult. Perhaps that line was intended to focus on the second half of the line, the part about superiority of males over females.

    2. What a church believes or practices about church discipline should be brought up prior to joining. Also beware that, depending on a church’s bylaws, writing a letter will probably do no good in terms of legal actions. Courts have been reticent to enter into church matters of governance. But churches should make clear to all members what the process is prior to joining. If you don’t like, then don’t join.

  79. You’re welcome Dee :)

    Headless Unicorn Guy said,

    While the Christians were parsing theology letter-by-letter, a LOT of destructive groups with perfectly-parsed theology got through under the radar. And the cult leaders would use their theologically-clean bill of health as a further weapon to abuse their people.

    In a post here a few weeks ago, I recommened a book by a Christian therapist called, “Why do Christians shoot their wounded.”

    In that book, the author said one problem he keeps encountering is that some of his patients attend churches that are theologically / doctrinally sound, but the members are not loving.

    The members are very harsh and judgmental, which impedes the recovery of his patients.

    The author suggests to people reading his book (who have psychological health problems) to attend churches that are not only doctrinally sound but whose members are loving and who extend grace to you when you stumble or have problems.

    In the Gospels, Jesus criticized the Pharisees for being doctrinally correct yet loveless and for refusing to extend mercy to other people.

    Christ said their studying of the Law/the Scriptures was great, and following its teachings was fine (He applauded them for that), but in their zeal to study it so fervently, they overlooked the intent of the Law (which was to show love, compassion, kindness, etc).

    Christ also explained that even though they spent all day studying the Scriptures, they (the Pharisees) didn’t recognize their Messiah when He was standing there in front of them, talking to them!

    1 Corinthians 13:2

    …if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
    1 Corinthians 13:13
    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
  80. Daisy wrote:

    This Mohler guy is not taking into account how lonely it can be to step foot into a church, especially if you are unmarried – even if all their theology would get a passing grade from him.

    But to Mohler, other Calvinist types, and Seventies Cult-Watchers all that matters IS Perfectly-Parsed Theology Theology Theology Theology Theology.

    Just like the Communists and their Purity of Ideology Ideology Ideology Ideology Ideology.

  81. To be honest, if married people in churches were trying to “help” me to get married, i think I’d run away screaming! That’s because I’ve seen some efforts of that kind in action.

  82. And that is because there are SO many people in this world who just delight in trying to stage manage other peoples’ lives. A *lot* of them are churchgoers.

  83. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Further confusing the issue is that Christianese cult-watch groups in the ’70s and ’80s had a different definition of “cult” than everyone else. In Christianese, “Cult(TM)” was defined as aberrant theology, not repeat not abusive/manipulative/control freak behavior towards their people.

    And I do think that the practice of defining a cult only by their theology still continues to this day in many circles.

    Funny that you mention the Seventh Day Adventist church in another post, as that was the group I was in for years before I moved into more “standard evangelical” waters. It took me several months before I decided to leave and it wasn’t easy. A lot of what I read in the process was about cults and I could recognise certain cultic characteristics within my church, both in theology and practices. However, I realised that many defined a cult only by their differences with standard, orthodox evangelical theology, which I found baffling after discovering about the church discipline case in Mars Hill and other stories.

    In my case, I’d say it wasn’t easy to move away because you’re not only leaving behind a church, but also a whole culture and identity. My disagreements weren’t with my congregation that much as with the institution, the Adventist system. Although I saw many weird and extreme behaviours in my particular congregation, it actually wasn’t that bad. I am horrified about what I read about some “Christian, right theology” leaders. Other Adventist congregations I knew were a lot worse than mine in their attitude, while one in particular was very good and liberating.

    In my opinion, once the system was created and reached a certain size, it didn’t exist to support the people within it but the people existed for the system. They supported and defended it at any cost, because that was “God’s will”, even if they could see some things were wrong… But where would we go, since we, supposedly, were the “remnant church”, the true one?

    It certainly didn’t help that it started with some aberrant theology, but the way things happen aren’t always a reflection of that. The teaching may be deemed good (by which standards, as well), but the fruits may be very, very bad.

  84. Anon 1

    Thanks for your info about Geoff and the NAMB. I couldn’t see him being incompetent, especially in the work of the Gospel. He joined our church in the 1970′s when he came to the UK from Africa with his parents. He was always enthusiastic, very sincere and not very good at football (soccer). He knew that he was called to the ministry and went off to Spurgeon’s College in London where he excelled. That got him an internship in First Dallas Baptist and the rest is history. I like(d) him a lot.

  85. To return briefly to’cults’

    The definition of a cult is a relatively small, often transitory religious group that commonly follow a radical leader. A cult, unlike a sect, espouses radically new religious beliefs and practices that are frequently seen as threatening the basic values and cultural norms of society at large. Therefore, people who are involved in cults frequently exhibit antisocial and neurotic behaviour…Their teachings are contrary to historic Christianity…The three dynamics of a cult are sociological, psychological(behavioural), and theological.(Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult).

    Recent studies to identify common factors between cults and terrorist recruitment make a number of points.
    Converts are more likely to have fewer and weaker social ties. It’s not that the groups prey on these people; rather that people with fewer social attachments have lower stakes in conformity, hence they are more available for recruitment to groups that are in high tension or philosophical conflict with society. This largely explains why such converts are often young and students. (IMO this helps explain the importance of framing events in an ‘us and them’picture. For example, WTS theologians talk a lot about ‘pilgrims on the way separating them from the mass of humanity. It’s also why you get 2K theology or YRR).

    Social networks, affective ties and intensive interaction play an important part in turning a potential convert into an actual member of a new religion. Joining is a very social process and one of the chief attractions for the convert is the quality of the relationships observed in the group and formed between the new recruit and existing member. Positive interpersonal experiences are crucial to conversion.(IMO that’s the reason for the Smiley faces)

    Converts invariant see the act of joining in positive terms, as beneficial for both themselves, their society and the cosmos.

    The most vulnerable are a crossroads in their life – trying to establish an identity, direction while seeking validation of their choice. The weakness can be economic, social, political or personal.

    The new religious identity displays three characteristics that render it attractive
    - it provides a sufficiently stark contrast to the parental identity and expectation, providing the symbolic and physical separation needed to forge their own identity
    - it provides a protective environment, a surrogate familial context, in which to continue their search for their true self
    - it provides an environment suffuse with a larger sense of purpose, of cosmic significance, that actually represents, ironically, a continuation or even fulfilment of the social and moral ideals to which they were socialized but which their parents failed to adequately embody. (Lorne Dawson, University of Waterloo, Ontario)

    Add to that apocalyptic endings, the faithful remnant or the Coming Prince and you have your audience in the palm of your hand.

    Does it sound familiar?

  86. @ Daisy:
    Thanks for writing this Daisy….I agree with many of your points. Worship of the family is all too common. It has happened in my own church
    Years ago we had many ( for the size of our congregation about 100 with 12/14 never married women)Not saying we had it perfect but the pastor was careful NOT to elevate the status of any member. He would not have the traditional mother/father day celebrations either but rather had women/men celebrations. All women on Mother’s day were recognized as contributing to the family of God (NO proverbs 31 lectures) and all women received a rose at the end of the service.
    Now we have a new pastor and being married (once of course/no divorce) with lots of children is held up as the standard. Single people and couples with now children are basically ignored or looked at with pity.
    Thank you for posting from your POV how biblically distorted this position is.

  87. To find out if your church values you, take a month leave, unannounced, and visit some other churches in your area, to see a little about what the worship is like. If your pastor or another church officer does not call and ask if everyone is OK or something like that, then you are not important to them. If they call and say you can’t just leave, tell them you already did! After singing the the choir of one church for six months, including through Christmas, I missed all of January due to an illness. No calls, so we went elsewhere. Six months later, I bumped into the choir director in a store and he said he hadn’t seen me for several weeks and wondered if I was OK. Told me a lot about the value of my deep bass voice and knowledge of music to that congregation. BTW, there was an attendance log kept for choir, with people’s names checked off for practice and Sunday attendance.

  88. numo wrote:

    To be honest, if married people in churches were trying to “help” me to get married, i think I’d run away screaming! That’s because I’ve seen some efforts of that kind in action.

    Running away is a good instinct!

  89. LT

    I hope you read the letter that was in the link to the post. The courts have entered into the discussion when churches extend their reach beyond membership. There have been cases, including a well known one in Florida, in which people have resigned their membership and the church has taken it upon themselves to publically announce the supposed sins of the person. The law recognizes the rights of an individual to to resign from a church. Once out of the church, any action that the church takes that publically humiliates a person is viewed poorly by the law.

    In other words, one can join a church, think it is OK, and then, over time, it changes and it can become more abusive, etc. Or, as many churches have demonstrated, what you see on the surface is not what you get. Are you implying that it is tough bananas if something was not made clear so now you must accept the abuse? Joining a church does not mean you give up your rights as a citizen although there are churches which believe that it is so. They have learned to the contrary.

    Now, Jeff Anderson, a leading national attorney in church abuse cases,  told us that the courts will not protect an individual who gets thrown out of a church. Churches have a right to decide who can stay and who can go. But, once gone, they cannot go after a person in a public manner.

    On the male issue, if you read the list it says there may be a problem if you answer “yes” to 3 of the questions. In a campus organization, it is highly suspect if a female cannot lead a group. For example, as you know, women cannot be priests. But women in a Catholic clubs on campus can lead the group. Are you saying that women cannot lead a Christian group on campus? Most groups do not function as an organized church so why can’t women lead on campus?

  90. Numo

    There is a person (Deb knows this story) who is very close to me who got hurt via some well meaning friends. They begged her to consider dating a guy who they considered to be the epitome of Christian men. Because they are such nice peope (they really are) she suspended her initial doubts and started dating him. She was advised by her parents that he seemed unfriendly and a loner. Other friends sat her down and told her he was a jerk. Not abusive, just really weird inspite of his position within a certain profession.  (I am being vague here due to its delicacy and someone involved might be reading this . Well, she dated him for a short time and he ended up hurting her deeply but at least she is out of it. She is still healing. It has ruined a few other relationships as well.

    Bottom line: Just because someone is commited to church and Bible study does not mean they are a nice person. Lesson learned.

  91. @dee,

    With respect to discipline, again, it depends on what is in the bylaws of the church, and my point is that that needs to be made clear at joining, that when a person joins this is what they are agreeing to. I think the case you are referring to in Florida, the plaintiff actually lost, not won. Ironically, she got national attention by complaining that the church had made it public. But she turned out to be the one that made it public. My point is that the church’s bylaws, to which you agree when you join, should make this clear. I do not take the view that no one can ever leave a church, however. And I have never been a part of a church that acts in the way that these churches referenced here do, so I am not defending it at all.

    Let’s be honest: Most churches don’t even practice church discipline. I have been in church for 40 years and seen it done four times, three of which I led, all for clear cases of sexual immorality (which was not specified in public), and all only after long periods of patience, pleading, and prayer. One took more than four years to reach its conclusion.

    My point is that the church should make it clear how church discipline works, what it is about, and what it is for. BTW, churches aren’t the only ones who practice this. It happens all the time in other contexts as well, including jobs, crimes, politics, etc. So it seems a bit disingenuous to act like this is a church problem.

    To the issue of male leadership, I am not sure what the biblical warrant for a college group is that is outside the local church. The fact that they don’t function as a part of a organized local church is a significant problem. However, the Bible is clear on the equality of men and women as made in the image of God and on the role of males in leadership in the church. So these things cannot legitimately be pitted against one another.

  92. numo wrote:

    To be honest, if married people in churches were trying to “help” me to get married, i think I’d run away screaming! That’s because I’ve seen some efforts of that kind in action.

    Efforts and results as in “God is a lousy matchmaker”?

  93. dee wrote:

    Bottom line: Just because someone is commited to church and Bible study does not mean they are a nice person. Lesson learned.

    “Even a man who is pure in heart
    And says his prayers by night
    May become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms
    And the autumn moon is bright…”
    The Wolfman, Universal Studios, 1941

  94. LT

     ”However, the Bible is clear on the equality of men and women as made in the image of God and on the role of males in leadership in the church. So these things cannot legitimately be pitted against one another.”

    I need to ask you why, if it is so clear, it is debated by theologians, pastors and church members of good will? Unless your answer is that those who disagree with the clearness of the mandate are obviously unbiblical. I do not think it is clear. Then again, Ken Ham says the age of the “earth” is clear. Other say the method of baptism is clear, etc. There were churches that used to say that issue of slavery was clear.

    I also have no problem with parachurch organizations that function outside of the local church. Parachurch organizations allow people of differing Christian persusasions to work together for a common good. Once the church gets involved, and your answer hints that it should, suddenly all the little distinctives of the particular church take effect-method of baptism, discpline ,etc. It is wonderful to have groups in which Christians who have differing doctrinal beliefs can assemlbe together. In fact, many of these groups may be the one place that we see the unity of the church because we sure don’t have it within the organized church. One sterling example of Christian unity in diversity is Christian Medical Dental Association.

    Secondly, I think you are mistaken about legal cases. Here are a few for you to read. As my husband often says “It is sad when churches think they are above the law.” 

    http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2007/02/list-of-cases.html

    Finally, as for discipline, perhaps you could do some reading about Sovereign Grace Ministries. The stories that I have read have caused me to disagree that church discipline is rarely practiced. And, as you know, CJ Mahaney is one of the golden boys of TGC.

  95. “Let’s be honest: Most churches don’t even practice church discipline.”

    No they do not. If they did, SGM or Mars Hill would no longer exist. And that is just one example. The clearest and most drastic example of church discipline is in 1 Corin 5. But what do we do with those described in the book of Jude? What do we do with false leaders? Since you seem to be focused on roles and gender which usually means a focus on heirarchical church structure what does the “church” do with wolves and hirlings they have given charge? Practice the same discipline? I guess my question comes down to who disciplines the discipliners?

    ” However, the Bible is clear on the equality of men and women as made in the image of God and on the role of males in leadership in the church. So these things cannot legitimately be pitted against one another.”

    Qualification for elder is described as ’tis’ in the Greek meaning ANYONE who desires…. If I take your interpretation it means no married men are qualified because they must be husbands of one wife and that would discount Paul. Not so clear. Go back and study deeper. Junia was an apostle, little a, which means she was teaching. Unless she was sent out to only witness to women. But if that is the case the Samaritan woman at the well would have been in sin for running back to town to tell men and women to come and see Jesus. Huldah would have been in sin for explaining the scriptures to men and Deborah horrible sin for being a judge and prophetess. Oh my the exegetical problems with your view are legendary but then, most check their brains at the door anyway.

  96. “To the issue of male leadership, I am not sure what the biblical warrant for a college group is that is outside the local church. The fact that they don’t function as a part of a organized local church is a significant problem….”

    What biblical mandate would you cite to support any church exercising control over students in a college/university setting?

  97. I will just say regarding church discipline- this is something I want to know up front about a church before I join. At the church where I had the problems I had no idea what kinds of things they believed fell under church discipline until I stepped near the cross-hairs (though I was not disciplined, it was at least mentioned).

    At the church I just joined there wasn’t much information available about church discipline, so in the “inquirers” class I asked the pastor directly and got a direct answer (and a good one- the one example he gave was a guy who ended up leaving the church after being confronted by the pastor for belligerently disrupting the peace by pushing his reformed views- which are the views of the church- on people in a hurtful way).

    I want to know what kind of “sins” a church believes require church discipline- that tells me a lot about what kind of church it is. And if I was in a position of writing information about the church for prospective new members, I’d be very up front about exactly what kind of behavior was not going to be tolerated. I’d want victims of abuse to know they would not be turned on by their church and that their abusers would be dealt with with a firm hand.

  98. “What biblical mandate would you cite to support any church exercising control over students in a college/university setting?”

    This is why many church leaders are saying that parachurch groups should function from the framework of a local church. This allows the local church to have authority over/into the lives of the students that are members at the church. I’m sure that these churches will be pushing membership to any converts on the campus. In otherwords, the churches appear to be more concerned about controlling the groups than about teaching Truth to the lost soles. College is the perfect time to swoop in and get naive, stressed, unsuspecting young people to join your church. Why not just love and teach them Truth. They really don’t need pressure from the local church, too, do they? Of course, the local church wouldn’t be getting anything out of it, no member in the seat, no possible future tither, no young person to train up into the “preferred” doctrine.

  99. @ Bridget:

    The bibles I read have no references mandating the church, to exercise authority or control, in the priveat/ public marketplace or social/political organizations.

    @Eagle……agree no authority is given the church as to who we invite into our homes or what theological issues or biblical topics we might discuss.

  100. Dee – @ Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 01:04 PM

    You write…
    “I believe that God can make things saliently clear as He does when He says
    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    Hmmm? In the beginning? Clear? – No longer “Clear” to me… ;-)

    What does “In the Beginning” mean?

    Is this word – “Beginning” – a word that refers to – time?

    What is popular is not alsways “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is not always popular.

  101. When a church adopts a mentality toward women that believes they are suitably confined to roles, a single woman like Daisy presents a challenge. Rather than naturally fitting in, she is immediately marginalized. The pattern is set, and if you don’t match it, you don’t get woven in. Its not Daisy’s fault anymore than its the fault of a vital seed that’s hoping to find fertile ground in which to sprout and grow and contribute to the beauty of the landscape. The soil of some churches is prepared to receive only certain types of seed.

    Which is a shame because in reading the bible we see revealed a God who is constantly challenging this mentality. Why wasn’t there “room” for Mary & Joseph at any of the Inns? Why did all but the Good Samaritan pass by the wounded? Why did the Pharisees seek to kill Jesus? Why were the disciples surprised to see Jesus speaking to the Woman at the Well?

    When I started attending an SGM church I was young (in my 20s), already married w/children and pregnant. I had decided to homeschool, a decision I came to on my own. But I can honestly say none of those descriptions of my life was why I joined. I liked the name “Covenant Life Church.” It captured the essence of what I was hoping to experience. And I knew, at that time (PDI) was Charismatic.

    When I left, I had come to realize I was nothing more to them then SGM property. The SGM goal is one of assimilation and in the process they presumed upon my salvation. They claimed my faith and sought to remold and mold it after their likenesses, and I was valued on the quality of my likeness. “…if you fall down (appertain to) and worship (pay homage to) me.” Matt. 4:9 The temptation to do so was of the same nature. And those that do become literal clones. They look alike, sound alike, and that’s the motivation behind the ministry and the root of their pride. This is why SGM is rife with disease. The problem is endemical & systemic, and it swelled to epidemic proportions. Since they refused to heed any warnings, listen to advice, make any corrections, or repent of their ways is there any wonder SGM is being brought to their knees? God resists the proud, and that’s a fact! No more hiding behind that fake wall of humility, Mr. & Mrs. Mahaney.

    For me “fitting the mold” made it easier to feel like I was “fitting in” at first. But that’s not what Christian fellowship or church membership is about. It starts with being in Christ and out of that we build one another up, not by conforming to the manmade dictates of a prescribed agenda that is exclusive in nature. It may be the how the Innkeepers Association of Bethlehem functions, but not the family of God. Come as you are and you are welcomed!

  102. And

    I NO longer respect the words “Clear” or “Clearly” used in a discussion or debate.

    “It is “clearly written” in the scriptures.” AAAARRRRGGGGHHH. ;-)

    IMO – They are kinda like – “Biblical” and “Gospel.”

  103. A. Amos Love wrote:

    I NO longer respect the words “Clear” or “Clearly” used in a discussion or debate.
    “It is “clearly written” in the scriptures.”

    Translation: “EES PARTY LINE, COMRADE!”

  104. @ dee: Also does *not* mean that they are mentally and emotionally mature, or that they avoid weird ideas (about xtianity or other things). And I DO mean “weird.”

    Have had my own brush with this, but I’d rather not discuss it here.

  105. numo wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy: Thanks for the LOLZ!!!

    It seemed appropriate.

    And sometimes it’s a choice between laugh or cry.

  106. bridget

    Can you imagine the food fight between a Reformed Bapttist church versus an Arminian Baptist Church versus SGM versus Mars Hill in vying for control of a local branch of CRU, Intervarsity, etc.? It reminds me of the time in history when there were 3 popes fighting for control.  It boggles the mind.

  107. Eagle

    It is now the belief by groups such as 9 Marks that one is not a member of the church unless one is a member of a local church. Oh yeah, and it better be the right local church.  I find doing church with you far more edifying!

  108. Evie wrote:

    When I left, I had come to realize I was nothing more to them then SGM property. The SGM goal is one of assimilation and in the process they presumed upon my salvation. They claimed my faith and sought to remold and mold it after their likenesses, and I was valued on the quality of my likeness.

    “…if you fall down (appertain to) and worship (pay homage to) me.” Matt. 4:9

    Or the First Church of the Borg:
    “WE ARE BORG…
    YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED…
    RESISTANCE IS FUTILE…”

  109. HUG

    I loved Lucretius of Borg. That is when I realized that Patrick Stewart was an incredible actor.

  110. @ dee:

    Yes it does. Although I imagine a “scripture spouting” fight as opposed to a food fight. Because it “really” is about the correct doctrine and not about the person of Jesus. SGM could even win the day if they abstain from the fight and manage to look humble. They are the stealth version :)

  111. Wow, a lot got thrown out in a hurry, so let me respond quickly.

    1. On male leadership, “I do not permit a women to exercise to teach or exercise authority over a man” is explicit. It is much more clear than baptism (which is remarkably clear) or other things. People debate it for social reasons, not for biblical ones. When you read the debates, you will see that egalitarians start with culture, and go back to Scripture. That is backwards. We could discuss other issues, such as slavery, etc., but that would take a bit of time as they are considerably more complex. Most people don’t recognize that slavery in the ancient world was much more like employment that what we think of in American culture. Slaves in ancient times were everything from laborers, to doctors, to lawyers, to teachers, etc. D. A. Carson had a little video thing on this recently, so google it. And remember that defining things properly is a key task.

    2. As for churches and church discipline, I agree that churches are not above the law. So that isn’t really the issue. If you read what I have said, I have said that churches should be clear about the matter up front, not later.

    3. As for practicing church discipline, appealing to SGM won’t really help. I am well familiar with them, and reject much of what they do. I have downloaded and read virtually everything that was written on the recent dispute. I think Mahaney should not be in ministry. But when you consider the vast number of churches, it is indisputable that church discipline is rarely practiced. You being in a church that does it, doesn’t change the fact that most do not.

    4. To anon1 on “tis,” that’s a masculine singular pronoun (it means ‘any man.”). It is further defined by all masculine pronouns. It includes the specific statement ‘Husband of one wife.” Furthermore, we are explicitly told in the previous chapter that a woman is not to teach or exercise authority over men. It is hard to argue egalitarianism from a biblical framework. In fact, every egalitarian argument has to tell us why the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, and actually means something else.

    5. Lin says, “What biblical mandate would you cite to support any church exercising control over students in a college/university setting?” None. I don’t think a church should exercise control over students in a college/university setting, or any other setting for that matter.

    6. To Eagle, a church in the NT is an assembly of baptized believers for the purposes of fellowship, teaching, worship, and service. So the answer to all your questions is no, those are not church. That doesn’t mean they are bad or sinful. It’s just not church. I regularly meet with friends to discuss theology, ministry, and life at restaurant, homes, etc. All of which are good, none of those are church. BTW, this is why Cru, IVF, etc. have no business practicing church discipline. They are not churches. So Lin is right to say, “no authority is given the church as to who we invite into our homes or what theological issues or biblical topics we might discuss.” The only exception is someone under legitimate church discipline (1 Cor 5:11). Again, as I said earlier, proper definitions is essential.

    7. Amos, rejecting “clear” or “clearly” does not mean that things become confused or unclear because you reject the terminology. So feel free to reject the terms, but look at the issues themselves. As an example, “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” is clear. That clarity is why people reject it. They know exactly what it says and what it means. They simply labor to tell us why it doesn’t apply. Saying, “it’s not clear” flies in the face of everything. Even those who are egalitarians think it’s clear. They just think it doesn’t apply.

    8. Dee, you are incorrect on the beliefs of 9 Mark regarding church membership.

  112. LT

    You said

    “8. Dee, you are incorrect on the beliefs of 9 Mark regarding church membership.”

    “People debate it for social reasons, not for biblical ones. When you read the debates, you will see that egalitarians start with culture, and go back to Scripture. That is backwards.”

    Well, that’s that!

  113. @Evie, You say, “When a church adopts a mentality toward women that believes they are suitably confined to roles.” Aren’t we all “suitably confined to roles”? There are certain roles that I have as a man, and there are certain roles that I will never have. Why is that a problem for you?

  114. “On male leadership, “I do not permit a women to exercise to teach or exercise authority over a man” is explicit.”

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” is also pretty explicit, yet I don’t see many Christian organizations teaching we should hate our families.

    Proof-texting and assuming that it ends the discussion or makes things clear does not contribute to the discussion. I can post a whole bunch of stuff that seems clear and requires explanations to make it work with the rest of scripture. For example, women being saved through childbearing.

    “When you read the debates, you will see that egalitarians start with culture, and go back to Scripture. That is backwards.”

    This is where I start: Both Jesus and Paul tell us to that the second highest point of law (or summation of it) is to love our brother. It is difficult for me to see how treating another human being as less capable because of her private parts is loving. Now you can re-define loving as you see it, but when something feels unloving to me, that drives me to look into scripture more. You can say that’s backwards, but people have come up with enough unloving doctrine that I insist you need to show me how prohibiting female eldership is loving before I’m going to be convinced it is scriptural.

    And I go to a PCA church which is founded on the idea of no women in elder positions, so I’m not an egalitarian. I follow the teaching of my church- but I am far from certain that it’s the correct position. I’m glad I’m not in a position to make such a decision, because I would struggle with it a great deal. It is far from “clear” to me.

    Finally, I would argue that comps also have a lot of explaining to do with how Pheobe is somehow not a deaconess, or that the position of deaconess doesn’t involve teaching or preaching. When you include that there are some uncertainties about how some of this stuff is translated, I think it’s fair for some to consider it unclear.

  115. LT wrote:

    1. On male leadership, “I do not permit a women to exercise to teach or exercise authority over a man” is explicit. It is much more clear than baptism (which is remarkably clear) or other things. People debate it for social reasons, not for biblical ones. When you read the debates, you will see that egalitarians start with culture, and go back to Scripture. That is backwards. We could discuss other issues, such as slavery, etc., but that would take a bit of time as they are considerably more complex. Most people don’t recognize that slavery in the ancient world was much more like employment that what we think of in American culture. Slaves in ancient times were everything from laborers, to doctors, to lawyers, to teachers, etc. D. A. Carson had a little video thing on this recently, so google it. And remember that defining things properly is a key task.

    Okay, yes, this is a diversion, but I’m sick of people talking about how wonderful slavery must have been in the first century (sarcasm alert).

    I suppose, as in all other times and places, slavery may have been okay for an educated male, but the humanity that is loved by God includes more than educated males.

    Here is a little bit of Carolyn Osiek on the subject:

    Female slaves were not spared the harsh treatment often encountered by
    their male counterparts. Slave whipping, beating, and torture were not confined to males, and references to such treatment, unless specifically applied to males, must be understood to apply to both sexes. Like a travesty of today’s service industry, Roman society had professional torturers (tortores) who could be hired to discipline slaves deemed to be in need of punishment (see Matt. 18:34) or to extract information in a nonjudicial setting. A chilling testimony is preserved in an inscription from Puteoli that specifies what materials the contractors are to provide for the private punishment of a slave, male or female, by crux(crucifixion) or furca (impalement on a fork-shaped stake), and how and when the bodies are to be removed…

    Another way of defining the slave is one who is answerable with his or her
    body, as to physical punishment, degrading forms of execution, and testimony under torture. Yet another manifestation of this bodily subjection was complete sexual availability to his or her owner and anyone to whom the owner granted rights. All these forms of defenselessness resulted from the lack of honor or dignitas of the slave. Seneca remarked of the “passive” or dominated sexual partner: “Unchastity is a crime in the freeborn, a necessity for the slave, a duty for the freedman” (Impudicitia in ingenuo crimen
    est, in servo necessitas, in libero officium; Controversies 4. Praef. 10).

  116. Re Pauls remark that begins “I permit”. That was Paul speaking, in the first person, and he did not attribute that to Christ, or to either of the other persons of the Trinity. He also did not say that it was a universal of the church. And it was addressed to a particular church and context. So was Paul perfect. NO! Did Paul make mistakes? YES!

    Jesus said that ALL OF THE LAW AND PROPHETS can be encapsulated in two commands — Love God with all of your being and Love your neighbor as yourself. He then used a parable to point out that any/every human being on the planet is our neighbor.

    I think it is as clear as anything in scripture that Jesus did not teach male dominance and exclusion of females and that Paul was in error in advocating it or that we are in error in applying it broadly out of the context he was addressing.

  117. LT

    Is this “Clear” to you?

    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    Hmmm? In the beginning? Clear? – No longer “Clear” to me…

    What does “In the Beginning” mean?

  118. LT

    Is this “Clear” to you? Who are *The Lost?*

    K – @ Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:56 PM said…
    “I finally left because the mohawk music leader (electric guitar + converse tennis shoes + goatee YEE HAW) decided to “attract” *the Lost* to our church by blasting dirty rap music in the parking lot. And I mean Dirrrrrty.”

    Who are *The Lost

  119. LT

    Is this “Clear” to you?

    @ Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:38 PM – You write…

    “1. On male leadership, “I do not permit a women to exercise to teach or exercise authority
    over a man” is explicit.”

    Seems Jesus has a uniques take on “Leaders” for His Body – “ONE.”

    Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders.” for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But – those who want Power – Profit – Prestige – to be in control – “Ignore” quite a few verses.

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    And NOT one of His Disciples called them self “Leader.”
    NOT one of His Disciples called another Disciple “Leader.”

    They all called themselves “Servants.”

    So – “It is Clearly Written” – To me…
    If someone calls them self “Leader?” – Or allows someone else to call them “Leader?”

    They can NOT be one of His Disciples.”

  120. LT

    Is this “Clear” to you?

    @ Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:38 PM – You write…
    “1. On male leadership, “I do not permit a women to exercise to teach or exercise authority
    over a man” is explicit.”

    Seems Jesus did NOT want any of His Disciples to “Exercise Authority.” Male or Fe-male.
    Or “Lord it over God’s Heritage.” Male or Fe-male.

    Mark 10:42-44 NASB
    You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them;
    and their **great men “exercise authority” over them.**
    43 But it is not this way among you, (His Disciples)
    but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;

    ! Pet 5:1-3 KJV
    The elders… Neither as being lords over God’s heritage…

    So – “It is Clearly Written” – To me…
    If someone tries to tell me they have the right to “Exercise Authority.”
    Or, they attempt “To lord it over God’s heritage.” Me, and other believers who belong to Jesus.

    They can NOT be one of His Disciples.” Or a qualified elder/overseer.

  121. Back to the slavery – sorry everyone, but hearing how Roman slavery was much more like American employment makes me crazy.

    I was unclear in the previous comment. I meant to say that that educated males tend to have better lives than the uneducated or females in most times and cultures and that includes conditions under slavery.

    I am so thankful that I am employed in America where my employer may not crucify me or have me impaled in a fork-shaped stake and does not have complete access to any part of my body at any time. Just because slavery could be better than death or debtors prison does not make it like American employment. Sheesh.

  122. I leave for a little while and things start up again.

    Eagle says As an agnostic what do you think offends God more? Possibly being led to Christ by someone like Dee/Deb? Or walking boldly into hell with my head held high! Huh? Who said anything about who leads someone to Christ? That is not the issue here.

    Eagle also says So laying in the ICU and having a discussion about evil with the chaplain is not church.

    No it’s not. Anyone can get together and have a discussion about evil (or anything else). Having a discussion about evil, or anything else, does not make a church. Things have definitions, and we don’t get to change them just to suit our whims.

    What about Jesus teaching where 2 or more are gathored. I mean I laid in the bed talkign theology with a Chaplin. That counts as 2 people? So God wasn’t present? Did you ever read this passage? It’s ironic you bring it up, because the issue there is church discipline. Go ahead, read it. It has to do with kicking removing someone from the church.

    I was taught church was a gathoring of people no matter the cirumstances. So your policy would exlude people suffering for their belief in places like North Korea, or China. Lovely faith….another example of “Reformed Canabalism” of dog eat dog.

    So when 80,000 gather to watch a football game that’s a church? Or when three people gather at McDonald’s to have lunch that’s a church? Of course not. You don’t mean that.

    But my policy doesn’t exclude the groups you are talking about. I have no idea why you would say that. I think they are churches if they are assemblies of baptized believers gathering for fellowship, teaching, worship, and service. And they exist all over the world. I have been in some of them.

    BTW, I am not Reformed and I don’t believe in cannibalism.

    And Crusade does practice discipline I have seen it.

    I have no doubt. But it isn’t church discipline, and they shouldn’t do it under those guidelines.

  123. LT

    Could you please tell me your overall theological bent? Also, are you a pastor or do you run your own business? It would be helpful for me to understand that in order to have a conversation with you as opposed to a series of “I’m obviously right and you are obviously deluded” zingers.

  124. @Jeff S.

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” is also pretty explicit, yet I don’t see many Christian organizations teaching we should hate our families.

    I do. When you see this passage in context, it’s not hard to understand. It’s pretty clear. You just can’t import your own meaning into it.

    It is difficult for me to see how treating another human being as less capable because of her private parts is loving.

    First, what is “difficult” for you is not really the standard. Second, who here is recommending treating someone else as less capable because of her (or his) private parts? As soon as you show me someone doing that, I will join you in arguing against them. But that’s not the issue here. (Third, don’t reduce gender and sexuality to private parts.)

    I insist you need to show me how prohibiting female eldership is loving before I’m going to be convinced it is scriptural.]

    Is it loving to let someone disobey God and reap the consequences of it? If you think that’s loving, we have a very different idea. In the Bible, I see love defined as doing what is right and helping others to do what is right.

    Finally, I would argue that comps also have a lot of explaining to do with how Pheobe is somehow not a deaconess, or that the position of deaconess doesn’t involve teaching or preaching.

    The position of deacon or deaconness does not require teaching or preaching. (Read 1 Timothy 3 and note that is one of teh main differences between the qualifications). Second, I think Phoebe was a deaconness. That’s not the issue.

  125. Dana

    The slavery issue is being rewritten in order to make it sound like it was just a way for rich, god-fearing people to take poor people groups under their wings and sing “kumbaya” together. The reason for this emphasis appears to be that some groups are advocating for the reinsitution of a patriarchal society. Please check out Doug Wilson’s pamphlet on the lovely life of the slaves on plantations.

    Either people are free or they are enslaved. A free person can leave an abusive situation. Even if people are treated well, they are still slaves if they cannot leave their place of “employment,” even if it is a lovely situation.

  126. Arce

    You said” I think it is as clear as anything in scripture that Jesus did not teach male dominance and exclusion of females and that Paul was in error in advocating it or that we are in error in applying it broadly out of the context he was addressing.”

    LT has just announced that it is as clear as day to him that women are not be in leadership so everyone who disagrees with him are obviously not following Scripture. 

     

  127. “Is it loving to let someone disobey God and reap the consequences of it? If you think that’s loving, we have a very different idea. In the Bible, I see love defined as doing what is right and helping others to do what is right.”

    This is the standard answer to justify all kinds of unloving things. I’ve born the brunt of it (in another area). The “it seems unloving but it really isn’t because God commands it” argument isn’t good enough, not for me at least. I’m done overriding my conscious because others tell me their understanding of the word of God says I should. I’m not saying I ignore scripture and follow my own conscious- but if the two seem at odds, I’m diving deeper.

    “who here is recommending treating someone else as less capable because of her (or his) private parts?”

    Saying women cannot be elders is saying they are not capable. I don’t see how it’s saying anything else.

    “Third, don’t reduce gender and sexuality to private parts.”

    Explain to me how gender goes beyond private parts. What makes a woman a woman or a man a man?

  128. LT

    “Is it loving to let someone disobey God and reap the consequences of it? If you think that’s loving, we have a very different idea. In the Bible, I see love defined as doing what is right and helping others to do what is right.:

    I know of conservative churches which have female elders. The churches are doing fine. So, what are the consequences? And, on the love thing, I think you have shown your hand. The latest “thing” amogst the Calvinista crowd and the SBC CR crowd is to put love into the “do it this way or get disciplined” category. The “right” thing is defined by the one doing the discplining. Love is lacking in the church today and your comments are helpful in ascertaining this.

  129. LT,

    I want to encourage you to listen to Wade Burleson's last five messages featured in our EChurch posts. He is a conservative pastor with a view contrary to yours concerning how Christian women can serve in church.

  130. I’m going to stick my neck out to post. But I just have to thank Dee, Deb, and so many of the regular commenters for giving voice to the issue of spiritual abuse. You people are my therapy. I left a very abusive group (which TWW covered) that, doctrinally, had its T’s crossed and its I’s dotted. But its controlling atmosphere and its micromanagement of people’s lives was very cultish. You were to view your minister as the authority of God in your life. Your membership is contingent upon that. Yet, if their “ministry” was proved wrong or even harmful, they accepted ZERO responsibility for the outcome.

    I agree with those who pointed to what Jesus considered the greatest commandments: To love God with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. If a church’s treatment of its people doesn’t measure up to those commandments, then perhaps it shouldn’t be considered a church at all.

  131. Eagle, this might give some good SBC folks a heart attack, but I really think you might resonate reading some of what ex president Jimmy Carter has written. Not your average Baptist SS teacher, but very good stuff!

  132. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I’m going to stick my neck out to post. But I just have to thank Dee, Deb, and so many of the regular commenters for giving voice to the issue of spiritual abuse. You people are my therapy. I left a very abusive group (which TWW covered) that, doctrinally, had its T’s crossed and its I’s dotted. But its controlling atmosphere and its micromanagement of people’s lives was very cultish. You were to view your minister as the authority of God in your life. Your membership is contingent upon that. Yet, if their “ministry” was proved wrong or even harmful, they accepted ZERO responsibility for the outcome.
    I agree with those who pointed to what Jesus considered the greatest commandments: To love God with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. If a church’s treatment of its people doesn’t measure up to those commandments, then perhaps it shouldn’t be considered a church at all.

    Amen to that!

  133. Let me finish up with a few responses here:

    @dee, I’m sick of people talking about how wonderful slavery must have been in the first century. Who has done that? All I said was that it is different than what most people think now. That’s not disputed by anyone with even a passing knowledge of ancient life. That doesn’t mean it was great or wonderful. I think your history here is a little lacking. In ancient times, slavery was a better way of life than poverty and death, or prison, and people willingly sold themselves into slavery in order to have enough to live and to pay off debt. It’s the same reason many people have jobs today. Furthermore, slaves could release themselves from slavery. And people today can’t just leave their jobs. They would be without income to live and pay debts. And while we don’t put people in jail or forced labor for not paying debts, there are still legal consequences. Again, history is helpful here.

    @dee, I am not sure how or why my overall theological bent matters since we should be discussing Scripture. But I am a Baptist, dispensationalist, reformed in soteriology who pastors a church that honors and encourages the ministry of women and men in the body. In fact, we preach that if women are not involved in ministry they are disobedient to God. Every believe (male or female) is equal in Christ, is gifted by the Spirit, and is to fill their role in maturing the body.

    @dee, regarding women in leadership, all I did was quote the Scripture and point out that everyone agrees about what it says. There are those who do not believe what it says is true. That is a different issue. BTW, about that issue, look at the reasons Paul gives for it, and then ask whether or not those reasons are still true. If they are, then it seems the teaching is true. If you read the text, you see Paul does not give first century reason for his prohibition. At least Arce has the courage (however misguided) to say that the Bible was wrong. That is something strangely noble about that.

    @dee, you don’t know of “conservative” churches who have female elders. That, by definition, is progressive, not conservative. In fact, that is one of the key markers of progressive churches. It may be right or wrong, but you cant just redefine terms that way.

    @dee, I am not sure what I have said that is in the least unloving. If so, then I apologize. To the best of my heart’s knowledge and conscience, I have not said anything unloving. I will say it’s strange that your disagreement with me is fine, but my disagreement with you draws personal attacks of “unloving” from you. Disagreement does not mean one or the other is unloving. For all your disgust with the ‘my way or the highway” people, I would think you wouldn’t participate in that. Surely we can have a discussion and disagreement without those kinds of personal attacks, can’t we?

    @arce, You claim Paul didn’t attribute that to any member of the Trinity, but he did in 2 Tim 3:16 when he said all Scripture was God-breathed. So he believed that it came from God. You are correct that Jesus didn’t teach male dominance and exclusion of women. Neither does complementarianism.

    @amos, yes “beginning” is clear … It means “beginning.” Not sure why or how that is unclear to you, so I can’t really go further with that one. With respect to “the lost,” I don’t know who you are quoting so I don’t know why they mean by that. I usually don’t use that terminology because it is confusing to people. With respect to leadership, remember the Bible calls the pastor “the overseer” (1 Tim 3:1) with the responsibility to oversee or manage things (1 Peter 5). He is one who has charge over (1 Thess 5:12). In fact, one of the qualifications is managing his own house well, for if he doesn’t, how will he manage the household of God. I think you are laboring under the idea that leadership is automatically cruel or dehumanizing. I reject that so I don’t share your view. There’s a reason that Jesus called the pastors in his church “overseers” (1 Tim 3) and called their job overseeing (Acts 20:28, Titus 1, 1 Peter 5). I completely reject the notion that pastoral ministry is lording it over. Anyone who lords it over another is disqualified.

    @Jeff S., by all mean sdive deeper. That is what I have done for more than twenty years and intend to do so long as I have breath. I reject the notion of simple answers. I reject the notion that questions should not be asked, especially tough questions. Let’s ask them and dive deeper.

    @Jeff S, capability is quite a different thing from mandate or permission. And reducing gender to private parts fails to note the very real differences such as emotion, physical strength, mental processing, and the like that virtually all sociologists recognize. Men and women respond differently, learn differently, think differently, have differing physical strength, etc. If you think the only difference between you and your wife is the private parts, I feel sorry for your wife. The Bible describe God’s creation as “male and female,” both in the image of God. And those differences are more than merely physical.

    @deb, thanks for the recommendation. Unless Wade does something other than repeat what has been said for the last few decades (and strangely enough, not before then), then it is doubtful that he has anything that is convincing. On this topic, it has been years since I have seen any new take that causes me to reconsider. Everything I read points me to the answers I have arrived at so far.

  134. LT

    Was wondering – Have you ever read Mat 18 for your self?
    “Clearly” – You and I see it very differently.

    @Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:50 PM – You write about – Where two or Three are gathered…

    “Did you ever read this passage? It’s ironic you bring it up, because the issue there is church discipline. Go ahead, read it. It has to do with kicking removing someone from the church.”

    I just read all of Mat 18:1-35 KJV. “Did you ever read this passage?”

    NO “Church Discipline” mentioned.
    NO “Kicking” Removing” someone from the church.

    Where did you get that stuff from – “Clearly” NOT from the Scriptures.
    Is adding to the scriptures acceptable where you come from?

    Does your group always – “Kick-out” “Remove” ALL “heathen men and publicans”
    That come thru your doors? How else would you know what to do with a publican?

    Mat 18:15, Sounds to me like it’s a brother being trespassed against – by a brother…

    Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against *thee*… Go alone…
    18:16 If he will not hear *thee,* then take with *thee* one or two more…
    18:17 If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church…
    18:17 If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto *thee* as an heathen man and a publican.

    Seems to me – let him be unto *thee* – this *thee* refers to the brother being trespassed against.

    And now “the brother being trespassed against” – Who has been trying to “Gain His Brother”
    is to see this other “Brother” – “as an heathen man and a publican.”

    NO “Church Discipline” mentioned.
    NO “Kicking” Removing” someone from the church.
    It’s brother to brother.

    And how did Jesus treat “an heathen man and a publican?”

    Seems Jesus would – Eat with them – Love them – Preach the Kingdom of God to them – Hmmm?
    And Jesus taught His Disciples to do the same to “Heathens and Publicans.” ;-)

    So – “It is Clearly Written” – To me…
    If “My Brother” tresspasses against me – I have some options. WWJD is just one.

    I can “Love my Enemies.” ‘Pray for those who dispitfully use me.” “Bless those who curse me.”

    “Clearly” – You and I see Mat 18:15-18, very differently.

  135. @beentheredoethat, Thanks for sticking your neck out. Spiritual abuse has no place in the church. My heart goes out to those who have experienced it. We fight against it very hard here. We have had people leave because we will not tolerate their attempts at spiritual abuse of others We nip it in the bud.

    @Eagle, the rest is to you.

    T…the question I was asking is if a woman can teach a male agnostic about faith? Can a woman teach and disciple a skeptic? Or is that taboo because it violates gender rules?

    Yes, yes, and no.
    You say you are not reformed, but you are redefining things like the reformed crowd do.

    Reformed is a system of theology that I reject. No reformed person would call me reformed. I am dispensationalist. And things like gender roles are not gospel. I am not sure what you mean by redefining things. If you will let me know, I will try to clarify.

    Matthew 18:20 does not refer to disicpline but the verses 15 – 17 deal with how to treat someone who sins.

    Context, my friend. It’s all one paragraph. The “binding and loosing” of v. 18 and the agreement of v. 19 is the “letting him be as a Gentile and tax collector.” It’s all a part of one teaching session of Jesus.

    how do you define sin?
    Sin is any lack of conformity to the moral law of God, in act, disposition, or state.

    What if its an alcoholic who has a life long struggle and an occaional problem? Just kick him out?

    No, you don’t kick people out who struggle. Church discipline is for people who have quit, who give no evidence of Christian faith. I have at least one family who doesn’t come to church here because we let a guy come who has continuous problems with alcohol. We have another family who doesn’t come because we have ex-cons who attend here. One lady told me recently that she was really uncomfortable because we had a guy here who was wearing a tether as a condition of his parole.

    Again I think you’re interpretation shows me why grace is mostly a myth in Christianity.

    Such as what?

    Sio the chaplin visiting me in the ICU and talking is not faith? He’s not representative of the church?

    I didn’t say either. You asked if it was “church.” You didn’t ask if it was faith. I am sure it was a faith conversation. It was not a church. As for representing the church, I have no idea. Most hospital chaplains do not represent the church. They are employees of the hospital for spiritual ministry to patients and families.

    I guess he had nothing better to do than swing by my room and want to talk.

    No, I think he probably wants to minister to people spiritually. But that doesn’t make every conversation church.

    Well since you’ve redefined church to suit your whims and your exclusive definition you’ve taught me a lot!

    Actually, the definition I gave is the historic definition for hundreds and hundreds of years. I doubt you will find one historic evidence that two people having a conversation in a hospital room is a church. Again, go look at the Bible for what a church is. Look at how it has been defined in historical theology. You will see that my view is a very mainstream view of what the church is. The historical divergences from my view deal mostly with baptism.

    I guess that means that Together For The Gospel doesn’t count either. That’s not church either.

    No, T4G is not church. And if you have listened to it, you know they are quite clear about that. As for the rest of your comments, I would urge some respect for the other poster here and refrain from that type of comment.

    BTW, Outland and MacArthur are not part of T4G.

    This type of forum isn’t great for this type of debate and discussion my friend. I would love, if you were near me, to sit down over some coffee or something and discuss face to face. It might not bring agreement, but might at least bring some mutual respect.

  136. LT –

    A little clarification:

    1. I am not Dee. I understand that you are answering a lot of people and it is easy to make that mistake.

    2. I said “Okay, yes, this is a diversion, but I’m sick of people talking about how wonderful slavery must have been in the first century (sarcasm alert).” The sarcasm alert was to make sure that everyone understand that you did not really say that exactly.

    3. You did say: “Most people don’t recognize that slavery in the ancient world was much more like employment that what we think of in American culture”

    4. I don’t think that most Americans would think that being crucified by their employer or impaled on a fork-like stake or sexually used is “more like employment” in America today. I just don’t. I don’t agree with your statement in #3 and I am tired of hearing it with no pushback. You may repeat it as often as you like, I think you are wrong. Seeking employment in 21st century America is nothing like 1st century slavery. See, I can repeat my point as often as I like, too.

  137. “Jeff S, capability is quite a different thing from mandate or permission.”

    So God gave women the capability of leading and being elders, but not the permission. And that doesn’t sound cruel to you?

    “And reducing gender to private parts fails to note the very real differences such as emotion, physical strength, mental processing, and the like that virtually all sociologists recognize. Men and women respond differently, learn differently, think differently, have differing physical strength, etc. If you think the only difference between you and your wife is the private parts, I feel sorry for your wife. The Bible describe God’s creation as “male and female,” both in the image of God. And those differences are more than merely physical.”

    There is a difference between tendencies and differences. I agree that men tend to have different physical strength, but there are many women who are stronger than I am. So how is physical strength a difference between men and women? What are you saying about women who are stronger than me- are the less feminine. Or am I less masculine? How do we know the difference between cultural conditioning vs created traits? I’m not denying there may be some, but I have yet to hear one substantiated difference that holds true in EVERY case between men and women other than private parts.

    As for my wife- I am divorced, so you do not need to feel sorry for her. She is free of having to deal with the pain of me questioning gender attributes.

  138. @Amos

    Was wondering – Have you ever read Mat 18 for your self?

    Yes, even in Greek for part of it.

    NO “Church Discipline” mentioned.
    NO “Kicking” Removing” someone from the church.
    Where did you get that stuff from – “Clearly” NOT from the Scriptures.

    Vv. 15-17 are the process of church discipline. “Let him be as a Gentile and tax collector” in the time of Christ referred to people who were outside the faith community. Jesus was telling them to consider unrepentant people as outsiders, as “Gentiles and tax collectors.”

    Does your group always – “Kick-out” “Remove” ALL “heathen men and publicans”

    No. Only those who profess to know Jesus, but who after years of love and ministry, refuse to repent of open sin and follow Jesus.

    It’s brother to brother.

    Their refusal to respond to the confrontation calls into question their faith. Jesus says that his sheep know him and follow him. One of the marks is that they repent. When someone doesn’t repent, they are calling into question whether they are true believers.

    And how did Jesus treat “an heathen man and a publican?”
    Seems Jesus would – Eat with them – Love them – Preach the Kingdom of God to them – Hmmm?

    Yes, this is exactly what 1 Cor 5:12 says. But 1 Cor 5:11 deals with “so-called brothers.” Their actions call into question whether or not they are brothers. In other words, I think you are failing to recognize the difference between the church and other relationships. This is the same type of mistake that Eagle is making. Eating, loving, preaching to sinners is far different than recognizing them as fellow Christians and heirs of the faith.

    I can “Love my Enemies.” ‘Pray for those who dispitfully use me.” “Bless those who curse me.”

    Not only “can” you; you must. You have no other options.

  139. LT

    Are, or are you not, Reformed? You claim that you are not then you say you are reformed in soteriology but dismiss it all by your belief in dispensationalism. So you, too, are picking and choosing.

    Also, have you ever commented on this blog under another name? I am a bit suspicious. We had another guy who played games with us, swtiching his “theology” around willy nilly (word chosen in honor of Gavin).  He was one of the few people that we have ever permanently banned. So, I am now going to sit back and watch this exchange to see if you are playing it straight. If I am wrong, sorry. But you certainly have a “way” about you that is distinctive.

  140. @Dana, My apologies about the confusion. Yes, I did say: “Most people don’t recognize that slavery in the ancient world was much more like employment that what we think of in American culture.” Today, if you ask the average American what “slavery” is, they think of cruel plantation owners, buying Africans off of ships, putting them at hard labor, and beating the life out of them. That is not first century slavery for the most part. Most slaves in the first century were not impaled or crucified. I would encourage you to read the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia on “Slavery.” It’s a fairly accessible work and shows exactly what I am saying to be true. So you are welcome to think I am wrong. But most historians (if not all) agree with me.

    @Jeff S.

    So God gave women the capability of leading and being elders, but not the permission. And that doesn’t sound cruel to you?

    No. Why does it sound cruel to you? I think women are very capable as leaders, and I think they serve very well in many functions as leaders, moreso than men in many cases.

    As for differences between men and women, these are not isolated things. They are long recognized patterns that prove the rule. Yes, there are exceptions, but the pattern stands, and the Bible testifies to it. I am not sure why that is bad. Quite frankly, I know enough men to know that I don’t want to be married to one. I am glad my wife is different in more ways than just the private parts.

    @Eagle, I am truly sorry for your experience. There are a lot of bad ones to be sure. My heart grieves for people who have experienced it. I am not sure reformed theology is poison, though I think much of it is wrong. I think people are sinners and we all need amazing grace. It changed the slave trader who coined the phrase “amazing grace.” I know I need way more than I can even imagine. I am from the Midwest.

  141. Dee, Calvinist + Dispensational is NOT Reformed. My previous church was this combination and they had a lot o issues with Reformed doctrine.

  142. Anon 1 and Gavin White:

    Geoff Hammond was not incompetent. Hammond’s departure was a coup by a group on the board at NAMB working with some staff at the NAMB who did not like what Hammond was doing.

    Hammond did inherit the Bob Reccord financial mess.

    But Ezell’s hiring was not the denouement that had been hoped for. Sometimes those who clamor for and engineer change don’t end up with what they want because there are other developments that were not anticipated.

  143. “No. Why does it sound cruel to you? I think women are very capable as leaders, and I think they serve very well in many functions as leaders, moreso than men in many cases.”

    I don’t know why it doesn’t sound cruel to you to be given an ability and then told not to use it in the most important aspect of your life.

    “As for differences between men and women, these are not isolated things. They are long recognized patterns that prove the rule. Yes, there are exceptions, but the pattern stands, and the Bible testifies to it. I am not sure why that is bad.”

    Because when you making something a defining characteristic of gender, you marginalize every person of that gender who does not have that trait. This stuff has very real consequences and leads to women who don’t fit their assigned “mold” leaving the church. And no one can even agree on what the “mold” is.

    If you are so sure of what defines gender is more than private parts, please give me a God breathed, true list of what defines men and women that I can take to the bank. Otherwise we are just dealing in abstracts that have no tangible value. You can say men and women are different all day long, but tell me how we define a woman other than private parts and we’ll take a look at scripture and general revelation to see if what you speak is truth.

  144. Wow, LT, most (if not all) historians agree with you! Congratulatioins!

    You do not, however, answer to my statement that crucifixion, impalement and sexual dominance of slaves was part of 1 century slavery besides stating that crucifixion and impalement did not happen to “most” slaves. Well, of course you do assure me that 4 out of 5 historians agree with LT!! (sarcasm alert!!!!)

    Here’s a little reading for anyone else interested, since “Everything I read points me to the answers I have arrived at so far.” – LT, answer to deb @ 3:09

    http://www.triobookworks.com/downloads/bookinteriorpdfs/WomansPlace.pdf

  145. LT

    Thanks for participating and trying to answer so many questions.
    And I probably would enjoy a cup of coffee with you discussing these things.
    I have many pet peeves with “The Abusive Religious System.” – And I love to pet my peeves. ;-)

    @Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 03:09 PM – You Write to me…
    “With respect to leadership, remember the Bible calls the pastor “the overseer” (1 Tim 3:1)”

    NOPE – Read 1 Tim 3, again – “Pastor” is NOT mentioned – “Leadership” is NOT mentioned.

    I think you added that. :-)

    You also write…
    “I completely reject the notion that “pastoral ministry” is lording it over.”

    Wow – I can’t seem to find “pastoral ministry” in my antiquated KJV. Or, any other version.

    I think you added that also. :-)

    ————

    Seems you do a lot of reading in the “white.” Adding to the scriptures.

    ————

    It is “Clear” to me – the “Title” Pastor/Leader/Reverend and the term “pastoral ministry”
    Are “Traditions” that Jesus warned us about – That make “Void” the word of God.

    Mark 7:13.
    KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
    ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

    Because – In the Bible – I can’t seem to find one of His Disciples who Had the “Title” – “Pastor.”

    But – I cudda missed that – Maybe you can help?

    From the Bible…
    Can you name one of His Disciples who had the “Title” – Pastor/Leader/Reverend?
    Can you name one of His Disciples who called them self – Pastor/Leader/Reverend?
    Can you name one of His Disciples who called another Disciple – Pastor/Leader/Reverend?
    Can you name one of His Disciples who was Hired, or Fired as a – Pastor/Leader/Reverend?

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  146. Why is it that I have no desire to have a blog discussion with LT, and I have a knot in my stomach reading his words?

  147. Dee – I believe your gut feeling about LT might be right. This person’s comments sound familiar to me as well.

  148. JeffS

    I know that. However, I am referring to something else that happened on this blog awhile back, and others, awhile back. I fear it could be happening again so I am watching carefully. But, I may be wrong.

  149. Bridget

    “Why is it that I have no desire to have a blog discussion with LT, and I have a knot in my stomach reading his words?” There may be a good reason for that. I am watching very, very carefully. I will explain it to everyone if my hunch proves correct. Then again, I may be paranod. But to quote the old canard:” Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get me.”

     

  150. @ dee: It might also be that I’ve come across some of those comments on older posts. Either way, there’s a familiar ring to this individual’s comments.

  151. Jeff, you said Jeff S wrote:

    “Because when you making something a defining characteristic of gender, you marginalize every person of that gender who does not have that trait. This stuff has very real consequences and leads to women who don’t fit their assigned “mold” leaving the church. And no one can even agree on what the “mold” is.”

    That hits home for me. Thank you for speaking up for those of us who do not fit into the classic gender stereotypes. I am so sick and tired of learning that I am useless to the church. I am a single disabled woman and I have been told that I should not bear children and to strongly consider not raising children at all. My body is incredibly fragile and stress magnifies all of the issues I live with on a daily basis. When I do attend church (which isn’t often), I am relegated to serving in childcare positions or asked non-stop about potential mates. I am not physically capable of taking care of children right now and that is not a crime. My value does not rest in my ability to bear, raise or care for children nor does it rest in my future spouse. I am useless to the church because I do not fit the assigned mold for gender and I hate it! All I want is for the church to accept and love me for who I am as I am at this moment.

  152. Bridget

    Maybe that feeling is because what is “Clear” to LT…

    Ain’t so “Clear” to many… Anymore…

    And reminds us of “The Abusive Religious System” and what we heard then.

  153. @ dee: It all rings a bell.

    And it’s wise to save such emails, comments, texts, etc. – even taking screen captures of them. a person who does such things is likely to keep on doing them, and there can be very serious consequences if people are able to supply law enforcement with documentation. (And there *should* be serious consequences!!!)

  154. Mandy

    You are loved for who you are right now. Your value is inherent in your creation in the image of your Father. I am adding your comment to the singles post because it made my heart break.

  155. @ Mandy: Mandy… I don’t have words adequate to this, except to say that I am so sorry that people are mistreating you in this way and that you truly deserve far, far better.

    Oh for the day when the church really acts like Jesus did…

  156. Mandy

    “All I want is for the church to accept and love me for who I am as I am at this moment.”

    You are accepted… You are loved… By those here… By Jesus…

    Lord, Please, Pour your love upon Mandy. Fill her with your love.

  157. And, Lord, fill her with both the assurance of your love for her and an awareness of that love. And help all who encounter her to know how to convey that love.

  158. Mandy, I am so sorry for you and your experience at church. It’s not right and I know it’s painful.

    As a single father with custody, I know what it’s like not to be on the same track as everyone else, but I cannot imagine what it is like not being able to serve at all. That’s part of what make up the Christian life.

    At my previous church there wasn’t much of a place for me to serve (not because of me being single, but because of where I was at the time)- when I came to my current church and the first week and they asked me if I could help put out chairs, I was ecstatic. Finding something I could do just made it feel like home and a place I could plug in. Being able to serve in the body is so critical- I am sorry that your church has not gone out of their way to find a place for you.

  159. Mandy

    John 16:27
    For the Father himself loves you,
    because you have loved me,
    and have believed that I came out from God.

  160. Mandy

    Romans 8:32
    He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,
    how shall he not freely give us all things?
    33 Who shall lay any thing
    to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.
    35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
    shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, (or stupid church people.) ;-)
    or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
    36 As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long;
    we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
    37 Nay, in all these things
    we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
    38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
    nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
    39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
    shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
    which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Thank you Jesus for your LOVE

  161. I am a man who has a great fondness for and sensitivity to children. I have been involved in children’s church and/or extended session in three churches, with interruptions of multiple years, but spanning 30+ years of my life. Enough so that a “letter” from a former pastor to a subsequent church commented on my service in taking care of 3 year olds during worship, which alternated with running the sound board. Ignored by the church that received the letter!!

    But not every adult, of either gender, should be expected to be good with children. To be really effective, one needs to be on the floor with them, or in a very low chair, so they can crawl up on you and be comforted. Not appropriate for people with certain physical limitations.

  162. I meant to comment on something last night but kept losing my internet connection.

    Quote:

    There has been some discussion on our blog, and others, that some pastors, who receive a call to a church, do not fully explain their view on Scripture. Then they pull a bait and switch and whine when the people do not march lockstep.

    A few years ago, I read some similar criticisms of preacher Rick Warren’s PDC (“Purpose Driven Churches”) program.

    Some Christians quoted from some of his PDC material and said this material was used in their church, creating discord, and their churches broke apart as a result.

    They said this PDC material tells leaders of churches to implement changes in any or all aspects of their churches, even if it upsets some of the laity. I can’t remember if secrecy was a part of that plan or not.

    The material did say (according to the people on these sites) that if people complained about the new course their church was taking to just let them go. There was no sense of loyalty or caring, only an attitude of ‘people who disagree can get lost.’

  163. linda said,

    Yes, when newcomers visit and are over the target demographic age and are told at the door “We welcome you to worship with us today but this will not be a church where you will be happy and fit in” it was time to leave.

    That is terrible.

    I’ve been made to feel unwelcome at some churches, sometimes due to having been never-married (I’m in my early 40s), but nobody ever explicitly said, “you’re better off leaving because we don’t really want people like you here.” You are kind of frozen out and you get the vibe, but nobody comes right out and says so, at least not the few places I’ve been.

    I don’t understand why some churches are so excluding in behavior, attitude, and out right statements.

    Jesus Christ included even the people who were considered the lowliest of His time. I can’t imagine Christ condoning giving anyone the cold shoulder for being a certain age, their marital status, etc.

  164. TO: A. Amos Love and LT

    “Let’s start with the Lord Jesus Christ. You have to remember that Jesus Christ came into the earth at a time when the Romans were in power. Now, the Romans had a certain kind of leadership that marked their society. They got this leadership model from the Babylonians and from the Egyptians. But the Romans brought it to perfection. It was the hierarchical leadership structure. In my country, the military is patterned after this structure. The Romans were great warriors.

    “Do you understand hierarchy? You have someone at the top, then you have someone at the bottom, then you have someone at the very bottom. The one at the top has more authority than the one below him. The person lower has less authority than the one above, and on it goes. It is a descending order of authority. It’s top-down authority. It is a command style relationship.

    “The Romans perfected this structure. It was part of their culture. With that in mind, listen to the words of Jesus Christ. Matthew 20:25, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their great men exercise authority over them.’

    “The Greek word for ‘authority’ is exousia. Brothers, you can read the New Testament from beginning to end and you will never ever find this word exousia (authority) in a context where one believer in Christ has exousia (authority) over another believer! You will never find that in the New Testament. It is not there.

    “Let’s go on. Jesus said, ‘The rulers of the Gentiles [the Romans] lord it over those who are under them.’ The Greek word for ‘exercise authority’ is katexousiazo. The Greek word for ‘lord it over’ is katakurieuo. Kata means above or over. Kurieuo means to exercise lordship or mastery over someone else. Exousiazo means to exercise authority over another. Jesus is condemning hierarchical leadership here.”

    More: http://www.ptmin.org/elders.htm

  165. @dee, I am not reformed. I am dispensational. As Jeff S says, those are different and I have very significant differences with much of reformed theology. They will not claim me (and I am not bothered by that).

    I am quite sure (99.999999%) I have never commented here, certainly not enough to be banned. In fact, I have only read the Wartburg Watch maybe a half dozen times before to my recollection. I believe the only time I have ever read here were the long threads about the SGM debacle last year or whenever it was. If there is someway for us to exchange private information, I would be more than happy to email you or talk to you. Feel free to use the email address that I am commenting with.

    @Jeff S. Perhaps part of our issue is that you see “leadership=elders.” I don’t see that. I think a person can lead without being an elder. I don’t think eldership is a gift. It is a calling and most never have the calling. Not having women elders is not my issue. I think it’s what the Bible teaches. Many, if not most, people in the church are excluded from being elders. We all have different gifts. The fact that someone is not able to do something should not be a reflection on their giftedness or personhood. I think you assume that God would call someone to do something that he has forbidden them to do. I don’t think he would. But unlike you, I don’t think that is a reflection on personhood or equality and I don’t think it is cruel.

    On gender, again, what I am saying isn’t particularly controversial. Men and women are different. Even those who “break the mold” still have characteristics of the mold. But no one fits the ideal, either man or woman. And once you make it about private parts, you risk the same problem, because while most have the same private parts, not all do. Simply put, gender distinctions are about more than physiology, and more and more sociologists are recognizing them in all areas, particularly in child development.

    @Dana, I am not denying that kind of stuff happened. But I am saying that is not what slavery was. No one denies that there have always been slaves (and non-slaves) treated badly. So bringing up something that no one is arguing against is a classic straw man. But as an institution, things were different. Again, read the history and start with the simple ones. I am more than willing to read more, but when the most significant historians in history say what I am saying, on what basis do you disagree?

    @Amos,

    NOPE – Read 1 Tim 3, again – “Pastor” is NOT mentioned

    Overseer is. And in Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:1-4, elders are told to do the work of overseer and pastor. In Titus 1:6-9, elders are told to do the work of oversight. So an elder is a pastor is a overseer (an episkopos or bishop in the KJV). The three terms describe the same office.

    “Leadership” is NOT mentioned.

    Actually it is in 1 Tim 3:5 in the instructions about the house. A man is to able to lead or manage is own house well because if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to manage the household of God.

    I can’t seem to find “pastoral ministry” in my antiquated KJV. Or, any other version. I think you added that also
    Not at all. It’s in Acts 20:17ff, 1 Peter 5:1-4, 1 Thess 5:12-14, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, and Titus (the three pastoral epistles). “Pastoral ministry” is the modern terminology to refer to what the Bible teaches elders or pastors are to do as servants (ministers) of the church.

    Your ask about the disciples and titles. Peter was called an elder (1 Peter 5) and addressed fellow elders. Paul told both Timothy and Titus to establish elders who would do the work of pasturing. So the office and the role seems “clearly” there. It seems hard to argue against it, and most people don’t even try.

    @Mandy, you would have never heard that from me, and had anyone at this church told you that, they would have been challenged on it.

    Seriously, friends, thanks for the exchange. I have tried to be gracious and many of you have in return and I appreciate. Despite our differences I wish you the best in the Lord. I am going to try to pull back here unless there is something directed specifically to me. Thanks again.

  166. @ dee:

    I would also add how permanent one’s salvation is to the list of confusion.

    I believe in OSAS (“once saved always saved”), but some Christians believe in CS (“Conditional Security,” which means you can have your salvation forfeited through sinning).

    I used to think the Calvinist belief about PTS (“Perseverance of the Saints”) was the same as OSAS, but when I did some more reading, other people explained that no, Calvinists are not really teaching OSAS.

    PTS says you are responsible for keeping and holding on to your salvation through your good works.

    In PTS, your salvation depends on you, not on Christ’s finished work.

    It’s weird that Calvinists should believe this, because they are always berating Arminians for trying to teach (supposedly) that man gets credit for, or plays any role, in salvation.

    As someone who is OSAS, I don’t believe if I sin God yanks my salvation away, or that I have to maintain a life of pious works (or avoid sin) to keep it.

    It looks to me as though the Calvinist PTS is essentially the same thing as the Arminian CS (Conditional Security).

    They’re both saying the same thing, it appears to me – you can first be saved but then lose your salvation and go to hell, and you being saved depends on YOUR works, not on what Christ did for you at the cross.

    Your Calvinists add a bit more complication on top of all that though, because (as I said in a previous page days ago), I had many of them tell me (when I began studying Calvinism) you cannot know if you are one of the elect or not.

    If you cannot know if you are saved, or clearly how to be saved and “stay” saved, or how to be one of the elect, I see no point in even coming to Christ or in becoming a Christian. I really don’t.

    It seems to me that under either PTS or CS, you are just as doomed and hopeless as the pagan guy who never accepts Christ as Savior to start with.

    You said,

    If inerrancy is the name of the game, why does it matter if we cannot understand, and agree to, the beliefs inherent in this inerrancy?

    I’m not sure if it’s inerrancy that’s under consideration on this score so much as it is interpretation (though I do feel the Bible seems confusing on some teachings).

    I was misled from childhood and into my late 30s that the Bible teaches codependency, but after reading a lot of books and blogs, I learned that the Bible does not teach “welcome mat” theology.

    Even today, I see a lot of Christians filter Bible verses through a codependent lens (such as mis-applying verses about forgiving people, ‘doing unto others,’ turning one’s cheek, ‘deny yourself,’ etc).

    This also includes minimizing or ignoring the passages of things like where Christ or Paul stood up for themselves, spoke harshly to others, showed anger to people, and sometimes refused to help people.

    Maybe the Bible is more clear on some subjects than we give it credit for, but due to our up- bringing or our denominations, we’re taught to understand it in a certain way, which might be incorrect an way.

  167. dee wrote:

    Can you imagine the food fight between a Reformed Bapttist church versus an Arminian Baptist Church versus SGM versus Mars Hill in vying for control of a local branch of CRU, Intervarsity, etc.? It reminds me of the time in history when there were 3 popes fighting for control.  It boggles the mind.

    You got that right Dee! They also remind me of the knights Templar of Jerusalem in Ridley Scott’s film Kingdom of Heaven

  168. numo wrote:

    To be honest, if married people in churches were trying to “help” me to get married, i think I’d run away screaming! That’s because I’ve seen some efforts of that kind in action.

    Yeah, that can be problematic too.

    I’m not saying churches should just run around playing match maker, they should ask the unmarried person first if he/she would like help.

    The problem is a lot of church are acting as impediments to marriage.

    I was taught by Mom and Dad that the place to meet a great single guy and get married was at church.

    But
    1. there are not enough single guys at churches

    2. some churches resist this view because either

    2a. they don’t want the church to become a “meat market”
    or
    2b. they think you are sinning by not being “content in your singleness.” (Because you know, Jesus is all you need!)

    I think I’d rather be in a church that doesn’t want to make you feel like a sinner or feel ashamed for wanting marriage, rather than go to one that teaches you wanting marriage is idolatry, selfish, or sinful.

    I was at one blog where a divorced, Christian 27 year old woman (who had two kids by her ex) said some older ladies were trying to get her to date this guy at their church who was an obese, never married 45 year old guy, who dressed in overalls all the time and acted eccentric. She didn’t find the age gap, his dressing, or personality appealing and could not believe the church ladies would think him a suitable candidate.

    So yes, there can be problems when churches try to play match makers (like in that case), but to me, that is preferable to keeping singles single, the ones (like me) who want to get a spouse but can’t seem to meet anyone, and if we mention wanting help or that we want marriage, we get lectures or scolding.

  169. @ gavin white:
    Gavin, this is a little rich coming from you. Last thread, you popped up saying RHE and Scot McKnight played scriptural gymnastics, then, I gave a great rebuttal to your gymnastic’s comment, as I am reading Scot McKnight’s book “Blue Parakeet” right now. You hid, not replying, not responding, just ignoring.

    Until you are willing to copy and paste example’s of Dee or Deb ” but those outside of the community will often feel extremely unfairly treated as they are subject to reactive attacks and misrepresentations. Following this thread of comments, …… has banned me from commenting on her blog.”

    Dee and Deb only ban to protect victim’s of pedophilia and other extreme criminal behaviour from commenter implying the victim is to blame. It is patently ridiculous to blame a child for pedophilia, since they are deemed unable to give consent under the laws of all civilized countries. So, no, Dee and Deb don’t over react, nor do they ban comments from other’s who may or may not over react in the comment threads.

    Rachel is younger, and writing to a much more diverse audience than Dee and Deb – if you go to her sight now and check Monday’s post, it is filled with comments from LGBT people who have left the church ages ago. So, she isn’t as willing to have homophobia or the appearance of homophobia, nor to have misogyny or the appearance of misogyny – since she wants her blog to be a place for those who are no longer a part of the church.

    She may not be perfect at editing her comments, but she has allowed harsh criticism of herself to stand on numerous past threads, however, she doesn’t want each of her threads hijacked by people who want to bring up the fact they feel she is a heretic again and again and again – her blog is not the place for that. Nor is it a place to go to debate her theology – as most reading her blog have long since left the church and could care less about the things churches get so hung up over. What her blog is, is a place for doubter’s to go and air doubts, not so much at belief in Jesus or God, but at the current state of evangelicalism.

    Getting into theological debates about details – like her view on inerrancy – may hold great interest to the neo-Calvinist crowd, but, to millions of other believers (who don’t necessarily attend a church), they see through a Christan’s view on “inerrancy” because many grew up with that preached to them, while pastors married men who left their spouse and young kids – the belief that the solar system was heliocentric, not literal, yet was supposedly made in 6 days – very litteral – and no place to question anything!

    RHE’s blog is a questioning place, not a die-hard reformed place.

  170. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    I assume Mohler is married? If his wife were to die tonight, and he was unable to get a GF or wife for the next 25 years, his views would likely change. Your theology cannot keep you warm at night. And when you are single, churches overlook you.

  171. @ LT: quote

    1. Male leadership is no necessary indicator of a cult.

    I don’t know. Maybe it is.

    It’s at least indicative of an unhealthy, unfair environment for women.

    If you are a female in a “male headship” type of church or group, you will be treated unfairly, not permitted to use your talents and skills as much, or as freely, as a male.

    Such churches might also blame female domestic abuse victims for their abuse (“if you’d just submit more to yous abusive husband, lose ten pounds, and wear sexy underwear for him everyday, I’m sure that would change him, and if you’d just stop provoking him to abuse by being alive, breathing, and having your own opinions, that might stop it too”).

  172. @ Lin:

    You’re welcome Lin, for the input. One book I read on this topic of singleness in the church (written by two never married christian women) mentioned that most married Christians are totally oblivious to how poorly unmarrieds are treated. They surmise it is because most church sermons and programs are for and about marriage.

    Believe me, if you want marriage but are still single, these marriage analogies pastors use in their sermons all the time, the frequent church sponsored activities for married couples, etc, really stand out. And you notice that the same amount of attention is not given to unmarried people.

    You said,

    All women on Mother’s day were recognized as contributing to the family of God (NO proverbs 31 lectures) and all women received a rose at the end of the service.

    That is wondeful! Jesus said any woman who does the will of His Father is his mother, not just women who have actually raised a baby or given birth!

    I’ve seen Christian women who want a baby but who have fertility problems say on blogs that the annual “mother’s day” services rip them apart, or the frequent comments in Christian literature or sermons about motherhood being a woman’s highest calling bothers them.

    That church I went to for two years, I went one Sunday morning where they were doing some kind of thing to honor new mothers. Each new mom stepped to the front, got some flowers, and the preacher said a blessing over them. At the time, I was fine with it.

    On my way home, I started crying. I couldn’t understand why I was upset. As I kept driving along, it dawned on me why… these “honor wife and mother” ceremonies were just more reminders that I wanted to get married, but I was still single. In the 2 years I went to that church, they never did honor the never-married ladies. We didn’t get flowers or blessings.

    Some conservative churches are in such a stampede to defend the traditional family unit/ marriage from liberal political forces, they forget how alienating their unrelenting “pro- motherhood” “pro- marriage” focus can be to women who don’t fit either group. And it’s one reason of many why I may never bother going to any church ever again.

  173. LT –

    I think we are having a failure to communicate. I disagree with your statement: “Most people don’t recognize that slavery in the ancient world was much more like employment that what we think of in American culture.”

    Roman slave owners could torture, crucify, impale and sexually use their slaves as they pleased. Roman slavery was not like American employment, because torture, crucifixion, impalment and sexual assault are crimes in American today. Your employer cannot do that to you. Romans slavery is, in fact, different than employment at an American company.

  174. @ dee:

    Just to be clear in what I said in my first post about this: I do think many Christian singles would appreciate help in being set up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, but they should be asked first (there’s a minority of Christian singles who like being single and have no wish to date, and some would just not prefer church members try to fix them up), and no Christian woman should let her defenses down just because a guy says he’s a Christian.

    I’m one who would appreciate being introduced to a single guy, but I’m not going to suspend all judgment and blindly accept anyone and everyone.

    A book I read by a Christian psychologist warned Christian women that just because a guy claims to be a Christian, or works as a preacher, or carries a Bible under his arm all the time, goes to church every week, etc, doesn’t mean he really is a Christian or that he’s a nice guy.

    I’m now at the point where I’m considering dating Non-Christian men (whenever I begin dating again).

    I never would have considered dating or marrying a non-believer in my 20s or 30s, but some Non Christian guys seem just as kind and considerate (or more so) than a lot of ones who claim to be Christian. I’ve seen many online testimonies and read in books Christian women talk about how their “Christian” husband physically or emotionally abused them, or had serial affairs.

    I’m not seeing any sort of benefit in waiting for a ‘Christian Prince Charming’ to show up, even if the Bible talks about not being yoked to an unbeliever.

  175. LT wrote:

    However, the Bible is clear on the equality of men and women as made in the image of God and on the role of males in leadership in the church. So these things cannot legitimately be pitted against one another.

    The Bible is pretty clear that women can be in positions of leadership and teaching, even in church settings, and even with or above males.

  176. Mandy,

    Your comment breaks my heart. I hope you will continue to chime in here at TWW. We are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Keeping you in my prayers.

  177. LT wrote:

    1. On male leadership, “I do not permit a women to exercise to teach or exercise authority over a man” is explicit. It is much more clear than baptism (which is remarkably clear) or other things. People debate it for social reasons, not for biblical ones. When you read the debates, you will see that egalitarians start with culture, and go back to Scripture. That is backwards.

    Actually, that is the opposite: gender complementarians read cultural considerations back into Scripture. You can read more about that, and other related topics, here (CBE.org)

    There are examples in the Bible of women leading and teaching men, etc., the Bible mentions a female Apostle, and the Bible says the Holy Spirit has gifted some women with teachings/ prophecy gifts and does not limit those gifts to being only used out of church or with other women.

    Either God was contradicting Himself in some parts by saying women can lead and teach men, or those verses about women being silent have been mis-interpreted by some Christians.

    The American church (as I mentioned in other posts here) has read 1950s American cultural norms back into their understanding of the Bible regarding how they view marriage / singleness, and how they think the rest of us ought to view these two statuses.

    Even though the Bible places singleness on the same level as marriage, there are conservative Christian groups today (e.g. “Focus on the Family,” and most Baptist and evangelical churches) who say singleness is not God’s best or that it is sinful.

    They argue God mandates that all Christians get married and marry “young,” (unless they have a physical deformity which makes them unable to perform sexually).

    Even though Paul says in the NT that singleness, is, in some ways, to be preferred to marriage, some Christian authors (such as Maken) say no, that is wrong.

    She and those like her say that a “clear” teaching in Scripture is the remaining single is sin, not having children is a sin, and that the Bible clearly teaches all Christians are to marry and marry young.

    If some conservative Christians (and I am one myself) are so horribly misunderstanding Scripture on the marriage/ singleness issue via carrying 1954 American nuclear family ideals into the text, it shouldn’t surprise you they’ve done the same thing with teachings about gender.

  178. LT wrote:

    In fact, every egalitarian argument has to tell us why the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, and actually means something else.

    That’s what gender complementarians do: for every instance in the Bible where we are told a woman led or taught men, those passages are explained away or ignored.

    I’ve seen preachers who are so uncomfortable with God placing a woman in charge over a whole nation (Deborah over Israel), they come up with unique ways of explaining it away.

    God obviously does not have a problem putting a woman in charge of men but some men (and some Christian women) do.

    It’s so bad, that the gender bias has colored how Bible versions are translated. I think the female apostle mentioned in the New Testament was “Junia,” but for hundreds of years, male translators could not accept that a female could be an Apostle, so they changed her name to the male form, “Junias.”

    Gender complementarians do allow their prejudices, cultural influences, and assumptions color their interpretations and translating work.

    It’s intellectually dishonest to keep suggesting that only biblical gender egalitarians do this when it’s just as “clear” that complementarians do it.

  179. LT wrote:

    @Evie, You say, “When a church adopts a mentality toward women that believes they are suitably confined to roles.” Aren’t we all “suitably confined to roles”? There are certain roles that I have as a man, and there are certain roles that I will never have. Why is that a problem for you?

    Didn’t you read my previous posts on this page or on older ones, where I explained that I’m a never- married Christian woman over the age of 40 who has no interest in children, and am uncomfortable being around children, yet any church I’ve been to has no place for me to serve or will not let me serve, unless it involves working in the church nursery around kids.

    I’ve offered, free of charge, my expertise and talent to one church (field of technology) but they wouldn’t take me up on it.

    Most churches can only conceive of a woman’s role, worth, or function being a wife or mommy, which is limiting and deeply offensive.

    Evangelical, Fundamentalist, and Baptists are always saying “a woman’s highest calling in life is to be wife and mommy,” but currently, a huge percentage of women of age 20 – 45 have never married or had a baby and will never marry or have a baby.

    The only “role” most Christians recognize for a woman is wife or mother.

    So, if you are a never- married female such as myself with no kids, you are not included in church. There is no use for you, there is no “role.”

    Combine that with the silly teachings of “we forbid a woman to teach or lead, especially men,” and I (and females such as myself) am not permitted to participate. I and my gifts are not wanted.

  180. LT wrote:

    On gender, again, what I am saying isn’t particularly controversial. Men and women are different.

    It’s a straw man argument to imply that biblical gender egalitarians believe that men and women are exactly alike and that there are no differences.

    Egalitarians recognize that there are differences between the genders but do not see where in the Scriptures these biological differences prohibit women from taking on different roles.

    Gender complementarians don’t honor the written Word as much as they claim, because some of them, in a far out attempt to defend complementarianism, are importing the ESS (Eternal Subordination of the Son) teachings into Scripture.

    The gender complementarians would have us believe that Christ is, and will always be, subordinate to the Father, although the Bible does not seem to teach this.

    The Bible seems to convey only that Christ’s subordination was only while he was in human form 2,000 year ago, and that it as voluntary and was temporary.

    Some gender comps say no to all that, and they go further and say that a woman’s subordination to men goes on even in the afterlife, even in Heaven, which is totally ridiculous.

  181. @ Dana:

    Also, women, by being born women, have no choice in the matter. Our gender is pretty much permanent, and we did not ask to be born female.

    Even people born into slave families were freed after the American Civil War.

    Slaves in the ancient world were sometimes sold into slavery.

    Some of the slaves could stop being slaves if their master freed them, or they somehow got the money to buy their freedom.

    Their slavery was not necessarily their choice, and it was not always permanent.

    Compare that to women in the church – you will always be a female. You did not choose to be a female.

    There is nobody you can pay in the church to be released from your gender and become a man so that you can take on roles that complementarians say are reserved for males only.

    The “role” analogies biblical gender complementarians like to raise just don’t work when discussing gender and the church.

    If a person born biologically female underwent hormonal treatment and a sex change operation to become a male, would a gender complementarian church permit him/ her to lead and teach?

    Even if you accept their terms of argument on some of the points, like on marriage…. they always say a wife’s submission to her hubby is voluntary never to be forced.

    Okay then, should I marry, I choose to not submit to my husband as leader. I do not volunteer to submit to him as “head.” It’s supposed to be a suggestion, not a commandment, according to a lot of complementarians I’ve heard discuss this subject.

  182. @ dee:

    Dee, on a similar note. I’ve heard some gender complementarians argue that women are more susceptible to receiving (or teaching) false doctrine than men (and this is one of several rationales used to keep women from leading/ teaching).

    However, I see a lot of male pastors who have taught false doctrine, especially the Word of Faith guys such as Benny Hinn, and many other tele-evangelists.

    I don’t believe any form of Calvinism (five point or luke warm) is biblical, I believe Calvinism is false, yet a lot of males believe in it and preach it.

    Men argue and disagree over the age of the earth stuff, over manner of baptism, etc.

    A lot of self professing Christian men are believing in false things and teaching them, so men are not immune from being deceived or from spreading deception.

    So… if being easily deceived should be a criteria for keeping someone from leading/ teaching other people, that means not a single human being, male or female, would be able to lead/ teach.

    Secondly, if all women are deceivers (as complementarians believe), why are so many of them peachy keen with a woman teaching other women, or with teaching children?

    Are they not concerned that a woman might lead other females or kids astray? Do they consider the souls or spiritual development of other women and kids to be unimportant?

    Why is it fine with some biblical gender complementarians for a woman to teach/lead an eight year old boy, but all the sudden it becomes wrong or dangerous the moment that boy turns 12, 18, or 21 (what exactly is the cut off age, do they even know, and if so, how do they determine the age)?

    I have heard of a small number of very fundamentalist churches that don’t permit women to lead or teach anyone at all (not even other women or kids), but at least such churches are being consistent with gender complementarianism.

    If you really believe women are more naive than men, or more easily duped, and more prone to teaching false doctrine, I don’t see how you can be consistent, say you are a “soft comp” and believe you think women should be allowed to teach kids or other females.

  183. 1. On male leadership, “I do not permit a women to exercise to teach or exercise authority over a man” is explicit. LT

    Much to be said on this, but let me just make the following point. If that is the case, then how does one explain Acts 18:24 & 26:

    Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. . . . He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately.

    Impossible to ignore the fact that it is explicit that Priscilla taught Apollos. Therefore it can’t be a universal rule – context is everything here.

    slavery in the ancient world was much more like employment that what we think of in American culture LT

    I’m calling “shenanigans” on this one.

    Exodus 21:20-21 “When a slave-owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.”

    1 Peter 2.18-19 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. For it is to your credit if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.

    Read Slavery in Early Christianity by Jennifer A. Glancy, it’s more like the antebellum South (without the racial component) than employment today.

    Sometime in the fourth or fifth century, a Christian man ordered a bronze collar to encircle the neck of one of his slaves. The inscription on the collar reads: “I am the slave of the archdeacon Felix. Hold me so that I do not flee.”

    Thick metal collars inscribed with mottos marking the wearer as a slave wont to run away are among the most startling artifacts surviving from the ancient world. Most slave collars we have are post-Constantinian. The archdeacon Felix was hardly alone among Christian slaveholders in forcing slaves to wear such paraphernalia. Many slave collars bear Christian iconography, such as the alpha and the omega or the chi-rho figure. So discomforting are these objects that nineteenth-century scholars described them as dog collars rather than acknowledge that ancient Christians regularly bound other persons in such a crude manner. David Thurmond has suggested that most known slave collars are probably from Christian owners. Thurmond describes the collars as “mute reminders of the brutality of ancient slavery.” Nonetheless, he argues that slave collars “ironically may have originated as an effort to humanize somewhat one of the most inhumane aspects of the institution,” that is, the practice of tattooing or branding runaway slaves on the face, which Constantine forbade.

  184. LT wrote:

    @deb, thanks for the recommendation. Unless Wade does something other than repeat what has been said for the last few decades (and strangely enough, not before then), then it is doubtful that he has anything that is convincing. On this topic, it has been years since I have seen any new take that causes me to reconsider. Everything I read points me to the answers I have arrived at so far.

    I have a feeling you have not really read works by egalitarians, but only reviews or critiques of their opinions by complementariansm who tend to distort or misrepresent what egals believe.

    I once sent a book by an egalitarian to a complementarian friend of mine who would not drop this topic with me.

    After a few weeks, I e-mailed him to talk about it, to ask him if he got the book I sent him by the biblical gender egalitarian. He wrote back and said he did, and that he read it.

    After a few weeks, we spoke on the phone, and I had my copy of the book with me.

    As we spoke, I could tell my friend had not read the book at all, despite claiming he had.

    I could tell from his comments that he had only read the back cover of the book that summarized the book, not the book itself.

    He just argued, “all the author does is allow secular feminism to color her views,” and he said things like that, and things like what you’ve said here and in your other posts on this page.

    At one point, my friend said, “The book author did not even discuss the big argument about topic ‘X.’”

    I said, “Okay, now I know for sure you’ve not read the book, because the author devoted all of chapter five to that very topic.”

    (I had the same problem, same situation, many years ago with a KJV Only guy.)

    I don’t know why some Christians do this. They swear up and down they have seriously studied their opposition’s view points, or that they read a book by their opponent, but in reality, they’ve only scratched the surface (skimmed one or two articles) or read a few very biased summarizations by people who already agree with them.

    I just have a feeling you have not seriously studied writings by gender egalitarians.

  185. LT wrote:

    I have at least one family who doesn’t come to church here because we let a guy come who has continuous problems with alcohol. We have another family who doesn’t come because we have ex-cons who attend here. One lady told me recently that she was really uncomfortable because we had a guy here who was wearing a tether as a condition of his parole.

    Yet it’s dangerous or wrong for a woman to lead or teach a mixed gender group, or, in some complementarian churches, for a woman to so much as read a Bible passage aloud on a Sunday morning service?

    So alcoholics and convicts wearing ankle monitor things are okay in church but female Christians are unacceptable (outside of very narrow roles in some churches, that don’t even fit all women, so some get excluded), is the basic idea I’m taking way from this.

    I bet the complementarians would allow male convicts to preach/lead in church, even in a guest capacity for a day, but how about a faithful, clean- living, Jesus-loving 75 year old grandma who never so much as got a traffic ticket?

  186. LT wrote:

    No. Only those who profess to know Jesus, but who after years of love and ministry, refuse to repent of open sin and follow Jesus.

    This is also why a lot of Christians don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable or transparent around other Christians and going to church.

    If they do attend church, they keep wearing a mask and don’t admit their faults to anyone, because they know any of the failings they admit to will be used against them.

    This is one reason why so many churches are superficial and there is no real community or deep friendships among members.

    Some Christians will take “grey areas” and make them into black and white ones. I’ve gotten judged by Christians over (trivial) matters that are not clearly defined as being sin, but that didn’t stop the Christians in question from berating me over it.

    Some Christians or churches define things as being sin that is really not sin, or it’s highly debatable.

    Some churches or pastors teach that there is no such thing as depression, or that a Christian will never have depression. Yet Christians can and do get mentally ill like anyone else, no matter how spiritual they are.

    But if anyone at their church finds out they are taking anti depressant medication or seeing a therapist, their church says they are ‘sinning,’ and tells them to repent and stop taking medication.

    Same thing with other areas, like divorce and remarriage.

    There are many other topics where church members feel it’s okay to judge other people in their congregation, even though the Bible is really not all that clear on whatever the topic is, or in spite of the fact the Bible says to balance grace and mercy with judgment.

  187. Jeff S wrote:

    Dee, Calvinist + Dispensational is NOT Reformed. My previous church was this combination and they had a lot o issues with Reformed doctrine.

    Hmm. To me “Calvinism” and “Reformed” are two words meaning the same thing.

    I know a fair amount of Calvinists online who mock dispensationalism, though. They hate it for some reason.

  188. “I think you assume that God would call someone to do something that he has forbidden them to do.”

    Come on now, that is a ridiculous thing to say. Of course I don’t believe that. That would be patent nonsense and you know it.

    What I question is whether the passages interpreted to prohibit female eldership actually do.

    As for what traits define a man or woman, you still have not provided anything concrete. I can accept your position and functionally have no different view from an egalitarian because thus far we have no specific differences between men and women other than anatomy.

    But the problem is, since we thus far only have anatomical differences between the genders, we are now using anatomy as means of determining roles that have nothing to do with anatomy. That makes no sense and is unjust.

    And really, I’m not an egalitarian- I’m trying to see a view of complementarianism that isn’t oppressive. Because yes, saying that women are not allowed to do something on the basis that they are women just isn’t equal. You can say it’s equal until the cows come home, but it doesn’t make it so. If you picked any other attribute other than gender and applied it to who can be elder (skin color, right handed people, hair color) people wild never agree that it makes sense. But with gender it’s ok?

    And one more point on proof texting: how long have people used “God hates divorce” to justify a no holds barred, second class Christiantiy for all divorced people? But that’s a completely irresponsible translation of the text. So you’ll have to forgive me if I am willing to question translation of scriptures that lead to what appear to me to be oppressive doctrines. Of course the comps all just say the egals are twisting scripture by wanting to reevaluate the translation, but I sure am glad people took the time to do that with “God hates divorce” even if not all of the major translations have caught up yet. So no, quoting a verse at me is not good enough for me to be certain we are understanding God’s will correctly in this area. The fact that comps say going back and questioning the translation is scary, though. I sure am glad that the ESV folks took their time with Malachi and that David-Instone Brewer took his time to explore the real context of Jesus teaching on divorce.

    We are reading a 2000 year old document written to a differen culture in a different language. We have to be careful and humble when dealing with that kind of a text, and tolerant to our fellow Christians who see things differently.

  189. Daisy wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    Dee, Calvinist + Dispensational is NOT Reformed. My previous church was this combination and they had a lot o issues with Reformed doctrine.
    Hmm. To me “Calvinism” and “Reformed” are two words meaning the same thing.
    I know a fair amount of Calvinists online who mock dispensationalism, though. They hate it for some reason.

    Calvinism generally means predestination and the five points, whereas Reformed is generally “Covenent Theology”, which precludes dispensationalism. Of course, sometimes these terms are used in other ways just to make things confusing, but a church that is dispensational is usually not considered “Reformed”.

    I do not understand the hatred between Reformed and Dispensational, but there can be some intense debates. I know I am certainly a Calvinist, and I haven’t really studied Reformed vs Dispensational to really come down on one side our the other in force, but my leaning is strong enough toward Covenent Theology that I consider myself Reformed. Until the last year I’ve pretty much been in dispensational churches, so this is a relatively new thing for me. I’ve been a Calvinist for as long as I can remember (and long before I realized anyone popular was a Calvinist).

  190. @ Arce:

    We need to switch places.

    I’ve read a lot of Christian males online say they would like to work around kids, but they get pegged as potential pedophiles at any church they go to, merely for 1. being single and 2. being male.

    So many churches, I’ve seen these guys say, keep the single males away from babies/kids.

    I’m a woman who has no interest in being around kids or babies, yet – the big assumption by most churches is that all women, especially Christian women, love and adore them, feel at ease around them, and want to hold babies and would love working in the church nursery. Not me!

    I’d rather work in a church’s multi media department or something like that, but no! They can only picture me working with babies or cleaning crumbs in the church kitchen.

    When you’re a single woman and walk into a church, if you are noticed at all, they practically stick some family’s baby in your arms the moment you step foot in the door.

    @ Mandy:
    Sorry to Mandy for what you’ve gone through.

    I don’t have a physical disability but am single with no kids, and churches don’t include me, except for one or two that kept expecting me to work in child-related spheres, but I have no interest in children.

    Kids make me feel uncomfortable. (When I was a kid, I preferred the company of adults.)

    I’m very sorry you are being excluded and ignored. :(

  191. I actually do work with the children once a month and my church is glad to have me. I mentioned to someone that it’s not really the norm for single guys, and I know of one local church that expressly forbids it, and that person looked at me like I had three heads.

    Of course, the fact that we have about as many under 10 year olds in the church as we do adults may contribute to this! Even the pastor plans to take his turn in the Sunday school.

  192. @ Bridget:
    I have mixed feelings about this because of my experiences in college. The para church organizations were being led by very young Christians who did not have the wisdom needed for that job. A friend and I spent many hours trying to help people who had been hurt by them. The only organization that did not fall to that was grad IV. I knew someone who was told by someone in CCC that they should quit school and join the staff. it was woman as it turns out. I knew two women who had nervous breakdowns from being in normally considered good para church organizations. At the time churches were skeptical of the lack of any direction being given to these leaders. When I first came and was looking for Bible study, I was told by one leader that they didn’t want members who were not new Christians, but if I would come shovel his walk he would consider letting me join a Bible study.

  193. @ Val:

    Maybe Gavin doesn’t appreciate that some blogs and forums are less about two sides debating an issue or one side defending their view than they are intended for like-minded individuals to fellowship with one another, to encourage each other, or to share similar stories.

  194. LT, I know you’ve sort of withdrawn from the debate, but I’ve only just read all of this now (that’s what time zone differences and work will do to you!) so haven’t been able to comment before. If you feel you’ve said enough and don’t want to respond that’s fine, but just listen to one more comment.
    I want to go back to your response to Jeff S: @Jeff S.

    So God gave women the capability of leading and being elders, but not the permission. And that doesn’t sound cruel to you?

    lt: No. Why does it sound cruel to you? I think women are very capable as leaders, and I think they serve very well in many functions as leaders, moreso than men in many cases.”

    I want to explain why that sounds cruel.
    A bit of bluntness first – you are male. You can’t really ‘get it’ in the way that we experience it. You haven’t experienced the explicit and implicit restrictions and questioning of ability that women face. Women are always told what we’re not good at, what isn’t allowed for us, what we’re restricted from, what’s ‘too hard’ for us.

    My great-grandfather was seen as ridiculous because he made all his children, three of them girls, including my grandmother (born 1914), complete all their high school education. You see, back then the assumption was very much that women weren’t smart, and even if by some miracle a woman could complete all her schooling, it would be a waste of time to educate her because she’s only good for marriage and pumping out babies.
    Once women were making inroads in the workforce, they were expected to quit when they married – or at the very latest when they got pregnant. Women couldn’t buy property themselves, couldn’t open bank accounts by themselves. Their capability was irrelevant to all of this – the reason for it was simple: you’re a girl, you can’t do this.
    In year 8 at my all girls school we had tennis for sport one term, and some outside coaches came in to teach us. One day we were mucking around a bit, nothing serious, just laughing really, and our coach told us it was a waste of his time to teach girls tennis, that sport is for boys, and we should all be inside doing cooking and sewing (I am actually a pretty good cook and I design and sew my own clothes, so I can fulfil those stereotyped roles pretty damn well). Not a smart comment to make at an academic feminist girls’ school, he got fired after that.

    In all of those situations, ability was seen as irrelevant – all that was seen was what women and girls are ‘allowed’ to do. That’s how it’s cruel. It reduces a person to something they have no control over, and it dismisses everything else on the basis of lazy gender essentialism. What you can do, who you are, is seen as less important than which box you tick when asked your gender. And I’m more than a tick in a box.

  195. @ Daisy:

    “I’ve read a lot of Christian males online say they would like to work around kids, but they get pegged as potential pedophiles at any church they go to, merely for 1. being single and 2. being male.”

    Or pegged as gay. And we wouldn’t want to enable their (alleged) homosexuality so we try our darndest to keep them out of the nursery and get them to do “man things.” (Grilling meat is usually good. Especially ribs, because you eat them with your hands like a caveman!…except we don’t believe in cavemen. Okay, off sarcasm now.)

    I have a Christian friend who’s a magician and does shows for kids all the time. He’s tall, skinny, wears leather pants, and performs in Broadway musicals. Soooo…yeah. TOTALLY pegged as gay, all the time, except he isn’t. Stereotyping, anybody?

  196. @ Pam:

    “…it would be a waste of time to educate her because she’s only good for marriage and pumping out babies.”

    Which is, incidentally, what Vision Forum teaches. Not that bluntly, but basically.

    I think I’ve told you this before, but my grandmother went to college in the early ’50s (maybe even a year or two in the late ’40s? I’d have to ask my mom) and wanted to be either an industrial arts teacher or an archaeologist/anthropologist. She was told that girls didn’t do those things.

    I’m pretty all the women in my family have been subversive for several generations… My great-grandmother divorced her first husband in the ’20s because he hit her once. She did this because it was what her parents (both born in the 1860s) had always instructed her to do in that circumstance.

  197. @ Hester:

    There’s definitely a return towards questioning or restricting women’s education and/or work in some segments of Christianity and to varying degrees. In some ways the overt nature of groups like Vision Forum is better than a slow insidious creeping of restrictions and attitudes, but all of it is wrong.

  198. About poster “LT” and the roles of women in churches:

    I was going over the CBE site, and saw this:
    Aprons and Pickups (pdf document)

    That page discusses
    1. how secular traditions are assumed (by gender complementarians) to be biblical; and
    2. the concepts of “protective paternalism” / benevolent sexism

    @ Jeff S:

    Some women are called to teach and lead by God, but the church won’t permit them.

    The Bible also says God has given the gift of prophesying to women, not just men – which would, it seem, make it permissible for women to prophesy in front of men and women and in church.

    Most American churches seem to feel that women can only be called of God to be a wife and mother. So when you are past 35 years old and no husband in sight, and no kids, you have no ‘role’ in the church.

    I have no interest, skill, or talent at doing “mommy” stuff, and I’m not maternal, unless we’re talking about animals (I love critters).

    I do not fit in at most churches, and this LT guy made some kind of comment above that I found alarming, something like, “well of course, not everyone fits the mold.”

    Okay, I’m one of the ones who doesn’t fit the mold – so what do I do?

    Why do churches ignore or ostracize people such as me who don’t fit their churchy molds?

    Why don’t they try harder to use my skills and find a place to put them to use, and make me fee accepted? Jesus was about including people, not excluding them.

    Even after I came up with suggestions for people at a local church on how they could put my skills to use, they smiled politely but never did anything about it, and I followed up 2 or 3 more times in person and once or twice by e-mail.

    Other women have had the same experience as me.

    They don’t fit the stereotypical “wife and mom” roles, and when they offer to do something at their church, their church ignores them or turns them down.

    From the book “Quitting Church,” which was printed in 2008, and from a page where the author is discussing the emphasis upon motherhood (and being a wife) in most Christian circles:

    But according to census data, 44.6 percent of all women between the ages of fifteen and forty-five are childless, up from 35 percent in 1976. Is there no place in church for these women? Isn’t that a huge number of people to write off?

    On another page of this book (emphasis added by me),

    [According to a 2005 analysis by sociologist John C. Green] only 18.5 percent of all families meet the traditional nuclear family ideal: married, never divorced, with children at home.”

    The book doesn’t make it totally clear, but I think it meant to say that Green got his information from the 2005 census data.

    Churches remain fixated on chasing down that 18% that fits their mold, and catering to that 18%, and they are willing to blow off, devalue, and ostracize or overlook, the remaining 82%.

  199. @ Hester:

    Oh yes, that too. Every once in awhile, when the topic of singleness comes up, I’ve seen single Christian males say they’ve had people assume they are homosexual if they’re not married by 30 – 35 years old. A lot of them find this painful or offensive.

    Christian single women past the age of 30 don’t get stereotyped with the homosexuality assumption as much as the males, but we get another set of recurring stereotypes, such as we’re bitter, we’re angry feminists, or we’re fat and ugly.

  200. @ Pam:
    Pam, Excellent comment! Glad I stayed up late tonight and made it to the end of the thread (so far…). :-) Have a great day!

  201. @ Eagle:

    Eagle, I’m very sorry for the mistreatment you went through.

    If more Christians actually lived out what the Bible tells them to do in the New Testament, Christianity would be wonderful, I think.

    I am hanging on to my Christian faith by a thread lately.

    My mother died a few years ago, and she was my best friend. Her death caused me to take another look at a lot of things about myself, the Christian faith, but I think one thing that caused me to question my faith above all was how I was mis-treated by other Christians after her death (and even before).

    Some Christians did not want to spend any time or effort on me in my time of need, to listen to me talk about my Mom.

    So they would give me quick platitudes and change the topic, or just ignore me (not return calls or e-mails – and I was not pestering them every day, or not even every week).

    Most of these people were over the age of 50 (many are weekly church attenders), plenty old enough to have life experience and to know how to act towards someone who was in mourning.

    Some of these were extended family members who knew I was alone and had nobody to talk to. I had other Christians, including at one church I was able to attend for a few months, chide me.

    I was basically told or made to feel that my grief was not as bad as how some people have life (such as orphans in third world nations, or homeless people).

    I was a sincere Christian since accepting Christ before the age of ten. I sincerely tried to live by the Bible. I did not smoke, never abused drugs, hardly ever cussed, was helpful to others, was very honest, did not have sex, etc.

    I thought other Christians were as sincere as I was, and that where the Bible says for Christians to comfort others, I would receive comfort from them when my Mom died.

    I do think some of them meant well and did not realize that their actions or words would cause me pain, but never the less, rather than compassion, I got judged or criticized by some of these Christians.

    That, in addition to things like all the insulting rhetoric against Christians who have depression I had been seeing online for years, made me begin to question the faith.

    I had depression for many years and got tired of seeing some Christians say it was my fault I had depression, or some would say that “real” Christians could never have it, or if I just prayed more, it would instantly go away, etc.

    I used to be an open book and tell even people I just met my life story, even my failings. I’ve had to learn the hard way this is not wise.

    For many years, I was in some ways naive and couldn’t believe anyone would be mean enough to use personal information I gave them against me, but it’s happened to me in Christian and in secular contexts.

    (I’m not using my real name to post here, so I don’t mind being a little open about some of my personal issues, but when I meet people face to face or use my real name with them, I don’t get so personal.)

    I should say that in some ways I’m a contradiction, in that at times I could be naive or think in a naive fashion, but at other times, I’ve been a very cautious person, paranoid of other people and their intent.

    I wonder if this mix is because my natural personality was to be cautious and not so trusting, but my Mom deeply ingrained in me to be a sweet, smiling, compliant door mat to other people, which also entailed being very open and chatty with them?

    I keep seeing guests on Christian TV shows lament that so many church-going Christians wear masks. They want people to be real, genuine, and be willing to fess up to their shortcomings.

    I understand that desire, but really, unless you know that you know that you can fully trust the people around you with your faults/ sins/ fears, it’s wiser not to, because some people out there, even “church people,” will take advantage of your vulnerability (and sometimes Non Christian people will, too).

    It just came as a shock to me that people who call themselves Christian can be so heartless, mean, or callous, not just with me, but in stories of sexual/ spiritual abuse against others like I see on this blog.

    One of the few things that have kept me from totally abandoning Christianity is the person of Jesus Christ.

    I will say, though, that even there I wobble. Why does Christ say in His teachings that he will provide for your needs, and that anything you ask for in his name he will do? Because that has not been my experience.

    My Mom was a very committed Christian. She prayed for years for God to heal her of her physical problems, but He never did.

    I know Christ never promised an easy life for anyone, but I cannot balance out the parts that say He will help or comfort you in your times of pain if you just ask, and how my life has turned out – I’ve not received much, if any, help from anyone, from God or from Christians, since Mom passed away.

    You said,

    and while he was in my condo I got a lecture in my home as to how it would be good to lose my job to teach me the consequences of sin. I was horrified. Quite the house guest. Very considerate.

    Some Christians are slightly nuts. They guy sounds a little nuts.

    I have a sister who believes in Jesus, but she cannot stand other Christians. She considers most of them judgmental. She says I’m one of the exceptions.

    I am pretty opinionated and will defend my views, but I try not to be obnoxious about it.

    My sister likes to talk to me about Christian stuff also because I can express my views without having to pepper every other comment with a “Galatians 3:15″ (or some other verse).

    Or, if I do quote a verse, I’m doing it to explain something, not beat her over the head with it.

    I have an online friend who is not a Christian. She had a step father who abused her. He claimed to be a Christian.

    So she hates Christians now – except for, she said, her mother and me. She knew I was a very committed Christian, but I wasn’t mean to her or obnoxious or weird about religion.

    I knew what she meant. I’ve been around Christians who weird me out.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus Christ (though lately I’m a bit upset with him), but not every single conversation with me has to revolve around Bible stuff or make a theological point.

    I’ve met Christians who cannot chat about TV, music, or movies or run of the mill topics. I think it’s great they love Jesus and like to talk about him, but he is all they ever talk about, all the time – they seem robotic or one-dimensional.

  202. Daisy wrote:

    I’ve been made to feel unwelcome at some churches, sometimes due to having been never-married (I’m in my early 40s), but nobody ever explicitly said, “you’re better off leaving because we don’t really want people like you here.” You are kind of frozen out and you get the vibe, but nobody comes right out and says so, at least not the few places I’ve been.

    That happened to me at a certain local church I visited back in my 20s (34 now). Found the class, sat down, started talking with a married woman who was around my age. Within five minutes she’d told me that there was nothing for me at her church and I should instead go to the bigger church downtown. Why? Well, why else? Because of the other church’s huge singles group! Because as a single woman, finding a husband (NOW!) was OBVIOUSLY my #1 priority and probably the whole reason I was there in the first place! Right?! This smaller church that seemed so smart, a place I had been so excited about and where I was hoping to meet people and finally make Christian friends, was not the right place for me. Not unless I was married!

    Because Mark Driscoll is right in more ways than one when he says that without the young men, you have nothing?

    (Just made myself sick…)

    P.S. Her comment alone would not have kept me away from that church; there were other reasons why I left.

  203. Eagle wrote:

    2. The other thing that got me was hypocrisy. Hearing the Staff Directors testimony or how they drank, slept around, etc… and then married someone AND then found Christ. THEN they teach against all that they did and told others no to do the same thing. Kind of a do as I say but not as I did….

    This is one thing I don’t understand. I was taught since day one if you were a good girl and prayed that God would provide a spouse. So I did all that.

    I did not have sex, I prayed and was trusting God to provide a spouse, but one has never entered my life.

    Many Christians have a lot of messed up ideas about celibacy, if the topic is brought up at all (it’s usually not even acknowledged as being a possibility, so it’s not discussed).

    The assumption among most Christians/ churches, like it is in secular culture, even among conservative Christian groups, is that one cannot possibly resist sex.

    You will cave in and have sex, so you better get married no later than age 25, is how most of the conservative Christians teach.

    So anytime singles are mentioned in sermons (which is rare) or discussed on blog pages, we are told, “don’t have sex,” or, “but remember, when you do have sex, God can forgive you.”

    What about those of us who have made it to our 40s, and we’ve never had sex, and are still waiting for a spouse? We’re never addressed in sermons or in most online articles.

    It’s also very insulting that there’s this assumption (and from Christians no less) that if you’re a Christian past age 25 – 30, you’ve had sex, or are sleeping around all over the place.

    Another big faulty assumption by most Christians is that never-married celibate Christians totally lack sexual desire. That is false.

    You still have sexual urges like anyone else. God doesn’t give you a “gift of singleness” where your sexual urges are stripped away.

    I get totally annoyed with the Mark Driscolls of the world who sermonize that a married man should not have to go for sex without five days in a row, even if his wife is ill. Give me a break, dude, I’ve made it to 40+ with no sex, and, yes, I have a libido.

    Oh yes, another thing I’ve seen in many years of watching Christian television programming:

    Frequent testimonies by Christian women (and occasionally Christian men) who admit they were sexually promiscuous for many years (and they admit they knew fornication was a sin), but they later got married to a Christian spouse.

    Then Christian authors keep saying or implying (especially in books about marriage for single ladies), that being celibate is one ingredient for being rewarded by God with a spouse.

    Something isn’t adding up here. I’ve seen many Christians in interviews say they were not sexually pure, but they still got spouses. Here I am, all celibate and still unmarried.

    Eagle said,

    No background check, nothing!

    What gets my goat are the churches / Christians who are so naive that they accept guys they know are convicted pedophiles (at least one story was about a pastor who had been convicted of murder – I think twice?, but his church didn’t mind), and let the pedophiles mingle among the church’s kids.

    I’ve seen a handful of these kinds of stories over the years.

  204. @ Eagle:

    I remember that movie! The boss was creepy!

    I vaguely remember the stapler guy. Didn’t they move him down to the basement – he used to be in the cube farm? Okay I just watched your You Tube clip, yeah, he gets sent to the basement. Poor guy.

  205. numo wrote:

    To be honest, if married people in churches were trying to “help” me to get married, i think I’d run away screaming! That’s because I’ve seen some efforts of that kind in action.

    Ha! This reminds me of the time I went to a teacher at the megachurch I mysteriously became a member of, for help when I was in my 20s. Typical worm theology from Todd Friel and Ray Comfort had a terrible effect on me, and I was in total despair. I was full of sorrow and wondering what I was going to do if they were right, that God had no affection for me at all, and in fact, did not even like me etc. As far as I was concerned, it was “just me and God,” so, “What am I going to do if no one loves me?!”

    So…went to the only person I could think of, this elderly Christian teacher, for spiritual help. All she knew was that I desperately needed her advice/wisdom and wanted to talk to her about something. She took me to a fast food joint and immediately started talking to me about…flirting. She launched into another woman’s success story about how she’d just “needed a little help learning how to flirt,” and that after receiving glorious and foolproof instruction, had found a husband and was last seen riding off into the sunset with him, or some other such nonsense. She assumed that my problem was, I was young and unmarried, and doggone it, needed help snagging a man so my misery would end!

    I was in misery alright, but never had a chance to ask her about God that day, and my mental torture continued for a few more years.

    I was subtly kicked out of her class after that (an attempt to force me to go back to the singles class?) but that’s another story…

  206. We can refute a few commonly mistaken beliefs about church roles:

    Tabitha was an Elder – so shove it, LT

    Junia was OUTSTANDING among the apostles (never translated as anything else, St. Chrysostom meantions her in the second century, King James says she’s an apostle, reformers were using late translations that messed up – switching ‘Junia’ to ‘Junias’ (this is all found in Romans 16:7, if you are wondering) -and the more recent development – last few years, that, knowing they can’t hide that it was really Junia – not Junius- just started to say she was only known to the apostles – mucho problemo – the Greek word “en” is translated “in” or “among” over 3,000 times, and NEVER translated “to”, so no, Junia was NOT known “to” the apostles – she was (some word that is less clear to us now, but very clear to Chrysostom as “Outstanding”) in or among the group of apostles – there is no other honest way to translate that sentence. Therefore, we know she was an apostle.

    Women were Prophets – that was equivalent to modern day Pastors – and a shared job in the early church.

    Phoebe was a deacon AND taught the Letter to the Romans to the Roman church – read up on early letter bearers to realize Paul didn’t just send a letter to a church the way one would send a cloak, the letter bearer was his trusted service to bear and *deliver* the letter – so another female teacher in our midst.

    LT – it is YOU and your ilk who are working backwards and applying your modern (500 years of Protestantism is “modern” in church history) understandings to the ancient church. Since you think Paul was so “clear” when he said “I don’t permit A (this could well be to a singular, non specified women, as Greek can be more obscure than English in this area) women to exercise authority over A man (again, could be referring to one woman and one man in the church Timothy was off to, that was Ephesus – a city with a very popular and, perceived to be, powerful goddess -Artemis, or Diana- with strong -and deadly to Christians – female cultic leaders running her temple in that city).

    So, you think Paul was applying that verse as a rule for all times, yet you ignore, blatantly, the clear words of Paul when he commends Pricilla for teaching Apollos, commends Junia for being outstanding among the apostles and implores women to *prophesy* DURING church – which involves mass amounts of authority over men – from discerning to teaching. It is your LACK of understanding of what all these roles entailed in the First Century Greco-Roman churches, that is leading you astray. Not the other way around, this society teaching little of Greco-Roman culture any more, the classics are dead. The church is really only versed in 16th C. Protestantism as church history and reads the Bible through 16th C. reformer’s eyes, which, due to Rome tying up most of the early church documents, meant it was a much weaker understanding than our current understanding is today – we have far more access to First C. Rome than they did.

    LT – educate yourself before you try and push your weak and uneducated views on gender – btw – gender is a human construct, and no two societies ever come to complete agreement on “roles” beyond mothering and fathering for males and females – this is widely reported in anthropological papers.

  207. Daisy wrote:

    Some Christians did not want to spend any time or effort on me in my time of need, to listen to me talk about my Mom.

    Aw, Daisy…it seems that a lot of Christians think they want to listen or help but are merely full of hot air, unable or unwilling for whatever reasons to walk the walk. I remember when I was in a class at a church that was taught by two particular female teachers. One of them liked to go on and on about how much she loved women and wanted to help them. She would clap her hands and act downright giddy about it. Well, she never should have said that because she got more than she bargained for. I called her up on the phone and revealed the truth about my miserable home life with an abusive sociopath. I had no one to turn to and hoped she’d help me somehow…to get out. Instead, she listened for a few minutes, kept nervously cutting me off, then hurriedly prayed over the phone and hung up. Never called me back like she said she would….went back to the class a few weeks later…both of the women seemed almost afraid of me. Avoiding me, not looking at my eyes. I was given a very peppy and smiley “How are you?!!!” and once again, with averted eyes, cut off, this time before I had a chance to say a word. These women did not want to hear it, they did not want to help me, they wanted me to go away. So go away I did.

  208. VAL
    I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. IMO there are similarities between TWW and RHE’s blog. IMO TWW sometimes ignores points made by others because IMO they contain possibly an inconvenient truth. Similarly TWW has a certain group in its sights – The ‘Calvinistas’ – and IMO there’s no need for such labels. It’s a bit like the origin of the term ‘Puritan’, designed as an insult IMO.

    The term ‘gymnastics’ was used by a reviewer, not by me. It was in the comments I copied.

    And I say all this not to start another debate but to make my position clear – which is known to differ from some other loggers. What’s the big deal?

  209. @ Gavin:

    “And I say all this not to start another debate but to make my position clear – which is known to differ from some other loggers. What’s the big deal?”

    Well, calling the blog “cultic” probably didn’t help. It conjures up images of Jim Jones and the Branch Davidians, and TWW (and RHE, for that matter) obviously do not match the psychological profile/definition of a cult. You may have meant it differently but that is what most people will think of when they hear it.

    Most of the commenters here are, as you have probably seen, pretty assured of their opinions and most of them came to that space after a lot of study. And yes, I agree that some of them are not always good at dialoguing, but they didn’t just pull their position out of the air yesterday. So what may seem an “inconvenient truth” to you, they may have already examined and deemed not “inconvenient.” There may be an honest difference of opinion; it doesn’t have to be deliberate ignoring/omission of facts/points. How can you tell the difference? (This is not to say that occasionally some commenters do ignore points or make blanket statements. This happens on every blog eventually because they’re inhabited by humans. I’m just interested to know you decide when this has occurred.)

    Personally, after observing your conversations over the past few months, it seems fairly clear to me which commenters you have difficulty with. Perhaps you should consider addressing them directly instead of painting us all with the same brush? Saying “TWW does this” when in fact it is only a few people who regularly comment at TWW is hardly fair.

  210. @ Gavin:

    Whoops, sorry, word omission correction: “This is not to say that sometimes commenters do NOT ignore points and make blanket statement.”

  211. Hester True, but at the same time I have no idea how many bloggers there are here so I think the representation is a fair one.

  212. Hester wrote:

    @ Val:
    Where does it say that Tabitha was an elder?

    The Bible doesn’t say Tabitha was an elder. It just says that she was doing good and helping the poor, and when she became sick and died, the people who knew her begged Peter to come at once. Her story is at the end of Acts 9.

  213. gavin white said:

    "IMO TWW sometimes ignores points made by others because IMO they contain possibly an inconvenient truth."

    gavin,

    Ignore? We receive so many comments that it's difficult to acknowledge them all. I can assure you that we are not intentionally ignoring anyone.

  214. Yes, I don’t see how we can conclude that Tabitha was an elder unless that is some more information I don’t know about.

    Pricilla, Junia, and Pheoebe are all compelling examples however.

  215. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Lynne T wrote:
    My daughter (who I am inordinately proud of) had several run-ins with her. Crunch time came when the staff-worker told them that if they didn’t fail at least one subject, they weren’t doing enough ministry on campus!
    At Cal Poly Pomona in the Seventies, the Navigators had the rep of being the most INTENSE Christian organization on-campus. They also had the rep of having the highest burnout and flunk-out rate.

    I never heard that remark–about “if they didn’t fail at least one subject, they weren’t doing enough ministry on campus”–in my own campus ministry, although I did get the impression that “working for the Kingdom” outranked working for school.

    I remember someone talking about how a person could be working so hard for the Kingdom that they had to stay up late working on their studies.

    Another time, the person running the campus ministry wanted to know, “Everyone getting a 4.0?” and I remember thinking, with all the stuff you want us to do, you expect us to do that, too?”

    This same campus minister had planned some sort of workshop or retreat or something on a Saturday. One of the colleges involved had Saturday classes that Saturday. The minister said, you all cut classes for other reasons, you can cut classes for the Lord.

    I have pulled two all-nighters in my life, and both of them were to help other students who were part of my church. One of them was to help a fellow Christian with cerebral palsy do her lesson plans to turn in for an education class. I was later told by my prayer partner at the time, “You’re helping her be undisciplined!” Never mind that it took her longer to do certain studies because of her disability.

    Someone once asked me how I had done so well in school. I said that it was at the expense of evangelism. :-(

  216. Anon – on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 06:07 PM said:

    Much agreement – And thanks for the info about “exousia”
    “Brothers, you can read the New Testament from beginning to end and you will never ever find this word exousia (authority) in a context where one believer in Christ has exousia (authority) over another believer! You will never find that in the New Testament. It is not there.”

    Yes – In my experience – LT – “Pastors who Abuse” – “Pastors addicted to “Exercising Authority” – “Pastor/Leaders who desire to have control” – will quickly, and “Clearly” point out Paul saying a women is NOT to Usurp Authority over a man – BUT – Totally “Ignore” and become “silent” when you show them, “Clearly” show them from scripture, that – NO disciple, NO believer, is to “Exercise Authority” over anyone.

    We are called to be “Servants.”

    When you believe the lie you start to die…

  217. @ Hester:
    The female greek for “elder” was “mathEtria” in Greek, if you read a greek/english – with western letters for the greek – you will see that Tabitha is a “mathetria” translated: female disciple, follower, believer, talmidah (Hebrew for disciple), or discipless (from the Wycliff translation).

  218. @ Val:

    As far as I can tell from a brief Strong’s search, the word for “elder” in Greek is presbuteros and it seems to refer both to elderly people (of both genders) and the church position. The only instance of mathetria I can find is in that passage about Tabitha. However, the male term (mathetes) is all over and seems to mean nothing more than “student.”

    I did always picture Tabitha as an elderly lady (based on nothing in the text, just how I always imagined her)…but I think I have to agree with Jeff that there’s no evidence she was en elder.

  219. Also Presbyter was used interchangeably ( in Titus 2:2 – Presbytas – means “aged men” and in Titus 2:3 – presbytidas – means “aged women” ) in Greek, yet is consistently translated “elder” for the masculine and “older women” for the feminine.

    Here is why – when Christianity began to take on more organized forms of leadership, there was a gradual pushing out of women in leadership positions – not the least of reasons because seeing mothers being ripped apart by Lions was upsetting everyone, even those in the church – and leading a church was, at various times in ancient Rome, grounds for execution – Roman style execution, public and gruesome.

    The actual role of an Elder in the early church was not only to lead, but to stay behind if they were being raided and give the congregation time to run away and hide – the guards would then arrest them, and depending on who was in charge of Rome, they would be a) beaten or b) publicly executed.

    So, by the time Constantine got his hands on the church – women in leadership roles were all but pushed out, so, when they translated the Bible into Latin – the official version of the Western Church for centuries – they translated “Older men” as elders – correctly, but they translated “Older women” as “Older women” because, by then, older women were not leading the church. Which is different from the earlier centuries, where women were prominent elders, leaders and teachers. Consider this is the same church that allowed a translator to switch Junia (who is a female St. in the Eastern Orthodox church) to Junias, to more accurately fit the new order of positions, rather than be faithful to the word. They purposely obscured the fact elders were also women (just look at a Greek, with English letters, in Titus 2:2 and 2:3 – remembering that Greek has masculine and feminine endings for their nouns) and you see that there has been some fiddling with translations to hide the fact elders were both male and female. There is possibly another women who was rewritten as a man, but I need to do more looking up of all this.

    All this is to point out, we are not just fighting misogyny from various neo-Calvinists and early reformers – John Knox and Luther were overtly sexist, but also the misogyny of the 3rd and 4th C. church leaders, who turned Christianity from a largely eastern-jewish faith to a largely Roman – hierarchical structure. It is that earlier shift that has to be looked at carefully, as they have shown to be fast and loose with translations when it suited them. This is apparent in the translations that pertained to women in leadership. Fortunately, they didn’t change the earlier Greek versions that much, so we have a good record of what has been twisted. Elder is definitely one of those obscured translations – as it should be either “elder” for both sexes or “older men/women” but not elder/older women – that is an obvious manipulation.

    Notice how all the great theologians, who study Greek, keep OKing women in leadership, while popular leaders, who only use translations to enhance their sermons cling to the wrong ways? Studying this has made very conservative scholars, like NT Write insist on women in leadership, not due to modern leanings, but due to his study of Greek.

  220. Daisy wrote:

    I’ve met Christians who cannot chat about TV, music, or movies or run of the mill topics. I think it’s great they love Jesus and like to talk about him, but he is all they ever talk about, all the time – they seem robotic or one-dimensional.

    I’ve seen the phenomenon in other contexts. What you describe is a fanboy with tunnel vision. Just that one is a Jesus Fanboy.

  221. @ gavin white:
    Gavin,

    I am wondering if calling all Christian bloggers one disagrees with a cult will be the new “Hitler comparison” of the future. There was a funny post a long while back that said you make a formula to gage when all debates would eventually result in someone being called “Hitler” and the worse the debate the sooner the “Hitler” comparison was dragged out.

    Dee, Deb and Rachel are not at all cultic, but RHE is not really about debating church polity issues, rather, debating and dealing with the church’s handling of people/relational issues – treatment of gays and women and singles, more than Bible interpretations or what is “law”. It is a different approach than most traditional church adheres, who like to fight over what is “right” and “wrong” while ignoring that issues are secondary to human relationships. For me, having a bunch of very conservative, obstenent and not very intelligent men tell me what I want (to have a strong male leader as a husband, to be “rescued” from singleness, to enjoy baking and keeping quite about theology in church) and accusing me of having problems, or rebellious attitudes, or whatever if I am not who they say I am, is not much different from a man telling a woman she really wants to sleep with him/go out with him/marry him and stalking her, harassing her, or other criminal behaviour.

    Given Rachel’s massive popularity, it should be abundantly clear women do not ALL want to be lead around by a husband who thinks he should also be their parent, nor do they want fluffy “bible studies” that are about domestic nonsense. It is not a cult Gavin, but a reality.

  222. Daisy wrote:

    What about those of us who have made it to our 40s, and we’ve never had sex, and are still waiting for a spouse? We’re never addressed in sermons or in most online articles.

    Try being male, 57, never had sex, and still waiting for a spouse. Closest I ever came was Ann, some 30 years ago, but that ended in disaster. These days I watch My Little Pony and wish Twilight Sparkle was real. (Nerd like me, cracks up the same way as me, and you do know unicorns used to be THE symbol of Purity?)

    It’s also very insulting that there’s this assumption (and from Christians no less) that if you’re a Christian past age 25 – 30, you’ve had sex, or are sleeping around all over the place.

    If you’re male, there’s also the behind-the-back whispers of “Homo”. My present church doesn’t care whether you’re single or married.

    Another big faulty assumption by most Christians is that never-married celibate Christians totally lack sexual desire. That is false.
    You still have sexual urges like anyone else. God doesn’t give you a “gift of singleness” where your sexual urges are stripped away.

    Some do. Sexual desire is a bell curve; at one extreme you have the nymphomaniacs, at the other end the asexuals. I’m pretty sure I’m halfway down the low end.

    And historically, during Medieval times when celibacy was put on a pedestal, you had a LOT of priests, monks, and nuns who weren’t cut out for it but figured they had to do it to be Christian. (The heresy of Clericalism held that only celibate priests, monks, and nuns were the only first-class Christians, much like Missionaries to Africa or Praise/Worship Leaders today.) So you had a LOT of sex scandals and “temptations of the Devil” as sexual fantasies broke through into an acceptable form. (“I See Things…”)

    I get totally annoyed with the Mark Driscolls of the world who sermonize that a married man should not have to go for sex without five days in a row, even if his wife is ill. Give me a break, dude, I’ve made it to 40+ with no sex, and, yes, I have a libido.

    I have the same response, just a bit more “earthy”:
    MD: “I HAVEN’T GOTTEN LAID IN *FIVE* DAYS!”
    Me: “I haven’t gotten laid in 57 years; what are you bitching about?”

  223. Daisy wrote:

    I remember that movie! The boss was creepy!

    I vaguely remember the stapler guy. Didn’t they move him down to the basement – he used to be in the cube farm?

    One of my co-workers at my cubicle farm HAS a Bright Red Swingline Stapler just like in the movie. After the movie came out, Swingline did a limited run in bright red instead of the usual black.

  224. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I left a very abusive group (which TWW covered) that, doctrinally, had its T’s crossed and its I’s dotted. But its controlling atmosphere and its micromanagement of people’s lives was very cultish. You were to view your minister as the authority of God in your life. Your membership is contingent upon that. Yet, if their “ministry” was proved wrong or even harmful, they accepted ZERO responsibility for the outcome.

    I left a cell church a few years ago now and it had the same sort of set-up, where you were supposed to submit to the person in authority over you as to God. The belief was that if you submitted to this person then even if they gave you poor (but not sinful) instructions, nothing bad could happen to you as a result of following them, because ultimately God would honour the fact that you submitted. And as far as I know, there was no area of your life in which they could not give you instruction to follow.

    After I left, I sent an email to my cell leader trying to explain that she’d given me some terrible, terrible advice (can you call it ‘advice’ when you know that God has obligated you to follow it?) that had hurt me. Her response began by saying ‘I may have let you down, but God will never let you down’. Now, that’s a reasonable enough thing to say if you belong to a church that doesn’t hold to the ‘covering’ doctrine. But for a ‘covering’ church, that’s a cop-out, and a logically impossible position.

    After all, I had submitted to the leadership, and God was supposed to protect me as long as I submitted to the leadership. Then I got hurt not just in spite of submission but because of it. Therefore God did not fulfill his side of the deal. And now you’re telling me that I’m not even allowed to be angry at Him because suddenly you’re admitting that God had nothing to do with your leadership. Meanwhile, you’re still leading a cell and teaching that submission to leadership is as submission to God. You can’t have your cake and eat it, lady.

  225. Val
    I’m left wondering if you just called me ‘Hitler’ or ‘conservative, obstinate and not very intelligent or ‘a prospective lover, stalker or abuser’ or all of them!

    Once I’ve worked it out I’ll either take offence or be grateful. :-) :-)

  226. Val, Thanks so much for your faithfulness to study. I concur with your last comment and would add that many people have a hard time understanding how Christianity, for the most part, (Not all!!!) was comprised of the poorer of society. Hard and fast rules of class structure tend to not be as pronounced in that social strata. When I think of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, can you imagine that appealed to the poor women of that society with the Roman heirarchy AND the oral law? Yikes.

    Your point about the women being persecuted is a good one for many reasons. You know, in Acts, where it is speaking of pre conversion Saul, he had no qualms concerning throwing Christian women and their children into prison.

  227. I know LT is long gone and Val has done an excellent job taking some of the horrorible interpretations on but I want to piggy back on something anonymous said. In 1 Tim, the word “authenteo” is used ONCE in the NT. It is an obscure Greek word. It does not mean “authority over?. How do we know? Because the Holy Spirit used clear words for authority in plenty of other places…such as ARchon, Exousia.

    Authenteo was translated by Jerome and Calvin as domineer. And if you read any Chrysostom, you will see him using to chide husbands who “authenteo” their wives! So it is something bad men can do to women, too.

    LT also talks about men ruling their homes. I often find this one amusing. The word translated as “manage” the house used in 1 Tim 5 is the word we borrowed for “despot”. She is to be the despot of the home. :o)

    The whole Junia thing has been horribly corrupt. Because of so much research on it, I now know to trust NO ONE but check everything. Piper and Grudem are especially guilty. They are liars. Yes, I said that.

    They claimed Junia was a man and for their proof they used a quote from Epiphanius (315-403). Now this gets interesting. Problem is, they left out the part where Epiphanius, in the same writing, said Priscilla was a man, too! Ephphanius had some nasty things to say about women being weak and stupid and needed “masculine reasoning”. But he was Piper and Grudem’s proof that Junia was a man.

  228. Whew! I just hit caught up, what a lot of posts since last evening. Daisy, I thought you did really well debating with LT.
    As far as LT’s comment about an overseer needing to manage his household wells another biased translation that Leeds to domestic abuse. When I study that whole passage context using original language reference helps, I interpret that overseer is not gender specific and I also interpret that the managing household well has more to do with that his or her household has respect for them, meaning that the family and servants of the candidate should be interviewed to find out what kind of character this person really is. They know him/her best.

  229. No.1 sports story of 2012 is the Penn State Sandusky Sex-Abuse Cover-up.

    I wonder if CJ and his son Chad will be discussing it on their Sports Blog?

  230. gavin white wrote:

    Val
    I’m left wondering if you just called me ‘Hitler’ or ‘conservative, obstinate and not very intelligent or ‘a prospective lover, stalker or abuser’ or all of them!
    Once I’ve worked it out I’ll either take offence or be grateful.

    Re Hitler,
    No, not at all, I am just wondering if this will be the new way to debate on Christian blogs – one side against the other, trying all manner of arguments until someone (on either side) throws out the “cult” card. Then the thread can disintegrate to the lowest common denominator.

    No, LOL!,
    ‘conservative, obstinate and not very intelligent or ‘a prospective lover, stalker or abuser’ or all of them! – unless you happen to be Dricoll, Mahaney, Strachan, and who is that S. African guy who’s wife was Patti (?) and Mary Kasian used to back up her argument complementarain didn’t mean domestic duties (despite the fact that said wife (Patti?) was the dean of the housekeeping degree at SWBTS). Can’t recall, all of them, but when I read about what they think wives want (not just their own wives, but all women everywhere) I think they are nuts.

    If RHE deletes them, I really don’t blame her. I am married to a guy who thinks these TGC, Southern Baptist types can’t figure out a Greek/English dictionary to save their lives. He gets to be fodder for their spastic behaviour – and, I consider it a badge of honour! He got called out as “not understanding the Bible” by Driscoll (ha, ha, ha, Driscoll couldn’t locate his brain if he tried, but anyways). It was he who pointed out all the men our pastor kept quoting were all connected, and I took it from there. My husband is a scientist btw, so it gets pretty funny when these guys try to talk about something they can’t even understand – it shows how dense they really are.

    My favourite was Driscoll trying, vainly, to match the Bible with Evolution, we were both laughing so hard my sides hurt. He managed to be more racist and exclusionary than what he thought Darwin was (in the 1800s, the term ‘race’ referred to different species, not different human ethnicities, but that is waaaay over Driscoll’s head).

    If you ever want a great laugh, and to completely erase any notion that Mohler is intelligent, go on over the blogs that track Creationism in US Schools unfavourably – Ken Ham is a particular target, but then links link to links that quote how dumb Piper, Mohler and Driscoll (oh and Chandler) really are. If I ever feel like TGC is making too much sense, I head over there to remind myself they will wade into any argument, no matter how unprepared or unknowledgeable about the subject area, and try to sound intelligent.

    My husband and I went to the same church as Gord Fee for a while, back in the good old days, so believe me, the Bible is not a friend of those who want submissive little wives. My husband was the one who got me listening to Gord Fee, who is an amazing theologian, and stood for gender equality long before it was considered OK for conservative Christians to do. He and J.I. Packer taught at the same collage – so they both had to study it thoroughly, as their views differed and their students learned to really think about those views.

    Sadly, most pastors in this area don’t have seminary degrees, so there is a huge disconnect between the churches and the theologians around here. I still drive into to public lectures at Regent (their college) to keep my brain sharp – too much Gospel Coalition rots the brain after a while – and listening to their guest lectures and public lectures show me how shallow and silly most of the Gospel Coalition talks actually are. I mean, Driscoll (former TGC member) says you don’t need to know Greek to teach the Bible – Oh, I will leave that absolutely hysterical story about Driscoll’s lack of Greek comprehension for another time.

    Anyways, no, you are too smart for most of them. Driscoll’s got charisma, and is good at selling people ideas, but he is either too ignorant or couldn’t care less, about what the Bible really says. The others may seem more intelligent, but if they are, they must see through Driscoll. If they see through him, but don’t stand against him, then I don’t consider them true Christian leaders. That they are leaders is clear, but to be a true Christian leader, one needs to be a mature Christian before a great leader. My guess is, Driscoll was popular, so they saw earthly glory as something to behold, and turned a blind eye to Driscoll’s non-Christian ways for a grasp at human popularity and power. By doing that, they unseated themselves as Christian leaders, and just became leaders.

    I further back that up by their inability to come to an agreement on the supposedly “clear” teachings on the “roles” of women in the Bible. The only one role we can all agree on is childbearing, but, in NT times, most devout, and commended women mentioned in the Bible were celibate, considered a higher calling than marriage and motherhood, so childbearing was not a role or feature for them. This further highlights how poorly these pastors view what the Bible actually teaches. To go from celibacy (most nobel devotion to God) to making wives virtual slaves to their husbands, and act like one has a grasp on the Bible would be comical if it weren’t so sad.

  231. So many wise women on this blog – Daisy, Val, Numo…all women who I applaud & am learning from. Long may your fragile feminine arms nonetheless tap out such wisdon on the keyboard!
    Plus…loving the critters! I hear you, I’ve heard this from Numo too…I love that there is this undercurrent at TWW, because for many christians animals seem like property. I have always connected with animals, if you gave me a puppy/kitten/calf whatever I would know what to do, whereas I might cry if you gave me a human baby to look after! I’m a wrong ‘un for sure…

  232. @ Sophie

    Thank you for sharing your experience. That’s what I love so much about this blog. You, Evie, Eagle, HUG, Julie Anne, and so many others that I can’t remember without going back through the posts, let me know that I’m not alone. It hurts (it. really. hurts.) to sacrifice so much of your life and identity believing you are living for God, only to find you were merely gratifying someone else’s ego. And, now that we are shunned by our former “church”, I’m going through the mental anguish of finding new social relationships. I even struggle to make decisions after spending so many years being told what to do. Some day I hope I’ll be comfortable to put more details of my story out publicly. My former church is one of those who will go after people who speak out about them, so I am intimidated. They even keep file folders of members confessions and shortcomings. (What ever happened to the blood of Jesus covering our sins?) Really? What other purpose would that serve except to slander an individual who dares to publicly share their negative experience with this organization? I feel so stupid for falling for all of their PR. But, like I believe so many others here did, I did it with a good heart and the best of intentions.
    I really hope TWW’s exposure shines a bright light on what is happening in the Christian world today. Perhaps if more people are aware of what to look for, others can avoid the pain so many here have experienced.

  233. @ Beakerj: thanks!

    I believe that animals and birds are sentient beings with their own kind of intelligence (really should be “intelligences,” as they are so diverse), and should be respected as such – fellow beings created by God, and *not* “property.”

    In fact…. I am sure my bun is a *lot* smarter than me in many ways. For one thing, her hearing and sense of smell are far more acute than mine, and she – like many other critters – is living in a world where all of that and more are in Technicolor, while we humans are – at best – experiencing those aspects of the world in dull old black and white.

    I sometimes think that other animals (living in our homes or otherwise) must wonder why we are so dull to what is obvious to them, and so slow to catch on. ;) (Not joking, really – they *are* intelligent beings, but it’s up to us to start learning to see them for who and what they are, rather than trying to make them into some kind of demi-humanoids.)

    To me, bunnies – and other critters – are like little aliens in furry suits! They have their own social rules and behaviors, and we could learn much from them if we choose.

    (Can anyone tell that I’m a big fan of Temple Grandin?!)

    [/end threadjack]

  234. @ Beakerj: No, you’re most emphatically not a “wrong ‘un,” Beakerj!

    Re. babies, I think a lot depends on the individual baby as well as the adult. I’ve felt a very powerful connection with a small number of babies, much like what I have felt with some animals. But to me, in many ways, babies are a complete mystery and I’m not a natural with tiny ones. (Though I find myself increasingly fascinated with them, possibly because I’ve hit “grandma” age, though I think there are other, not clearly definable reasons as well…)

  235. Val wrote:

    No, not at all, I am just wondering if this will be the new way to debate on Christian blogs – one side against the other, trying all manner of arguments until someone (on either side) throws out the “cult” card. Then the thread can disintegrate to the lowest common denominator.

    So how does that differ from J.Random Flamewar anywhere else?

  236. BeenThereDoneThat – My heart goes out to you. You’re right – you are not alone! There are so many of us who have experienced spiritual abuse. Don’t be hard on yourself. Remember, the Bible says that spiritual abusers creep in unknown. You can be solid in your faith and still have the rug pulled from under you. Now you have a story to tell. It’s never pretty, but your story might be the story that helps someone else see that they are not in a safe/healthy church. That has been helpful for me to realize in my healing process.

  237. Val wrote:

    Given Rachel’s massive popularity, it should be abundantly clear women do not ALL want to be lead around by a husband who thinks he should also be their parent…

    I don’t know about you, but “husband as parent” and perpetual widdle child wifey is VERY creepy. Like trying to skirt the edge of both father-daughter incest and pedophilia creepy.

  238. @ Val:

    “…when Christianity began to take on more organized forms of leadership, there was a gradual pushing out of women in leadership positions – not the least of reasons because seeing mothers being ripped apart by Lions was upsetting everyone, even those in the church – and leading a church was, at various times in ancient Rome, grounds for execution – Roman style execution, public and gruesome.

    The actual role of an Elder in the early church was not only to lead, but to stay behind if they were being raided and give the congregation time to run away and hide – the guards would then arrest them, and depending on who was in charge of Rome, they would be a) beaten or b) publicly executed.

    So, by the time Constantine got his hands on the church – women in leadership roles were all but pushed out…”

    This all sounds more than plausible but I’d like to know where you found it, for informational purposes. I haven’t done much reading on the period from Pentecost to Constantine. (I’m NOT calling you wrong.)

    I do seem to recall something about Pliny talking about Christian women who called themselves “ministra” (Latin word, I can’t remember if it referred to deacons or elders).

  239. VAL
    Thank you. But guess what? Much as I like Gordon Fee, I prefer Jim Packer – well I did until he fell out with Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I then switched to Sinclair Ferguson but he got wind of it and moved across the pond!

    Speak again soon
    Gavin

  240. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    They even keep file folders of members confessions and shortcomings. (What ever happened to the blood of Jesus covering our sins?) Really? What other purpose would that serve except to slander an individual who dares to publicly share their negative experience with this organization?

    Wow, that’s horrible. The leaders at my old church were willing to talk to me about where things had gone wrong because they were pretty decent people despite the dodgy, intrusive ‘discipleship’ system. So I can’t imagine how horrible it must be to know they have actually kept files on you! Where’s the grace in that? At least you know for sure that they are NOT a church, they are a cult, and you are much, much better off without them, no matter how isolated you might feel at the moment. I think I understand what you mean about sacrificing your identity, too. When you leave, what’s left of you? But the positive thing is that now you have the chance to be authentically yourself.

    Do you feel like you haven’t gotten closure on the whole thing because you can’t have a discussion with these people, at least not without their defences going right up? That’s how I felt. I know that I just really wanted someone at the church to validate my experiences by saying ‘yes, it would completely and utterly suck to go through what you went through’ and ‘no, you’re not crazy, I understand why you think things were messed up’. A little while ago my ex BF who I dated during the last year I was at that place emailed me to apologise for some stuff he had done (even though it all happened literally years ago). He’s extremely loyal to them but he admitted I was right that it had been ‘a strange time at the church’. It felt really good just to get that little bit of acknowledgement and understanding from him. Sometimes that’s just what you need. I hope one day for his sake he’s able to see that he never needed some authority figure masquerading as God to tell him what to do, and that things would almost certainly worked out much better between us without our respective ‘coverings’.

  241. @Val,

    Interesting points! I admire (and a bit jealous) for those of you who dive into the Greek and Historical Contexts to come to your conclusion..

    I am with Hester:

    What are some of the sources you have looked at to bring you to these points?

    It’s a bit daunting at times to think how easily we can misinterpret things based on a lousy understanding of Greek and Historcal Contexts…Shows me that I really, really need to increase my “biblical study” time..

  242. Evie wrote:

    No.1 sports story of 2012 is the Penn State Sandusky Sex-Abuse Cover-up.
    I wonder if CJ and his son Chad will be discussing it on their Sports Blog?

    Well, I know what KFI-640AM morning drive-time will be using for bumper music tomorrow morning (cue plinky guitar):
    “Jerry Sandusky is a-going to prison
    Where he’ll prob’ly get beaten to death with a lunchtray –
    Then he’ll go straight to Hell
    And suffer unspeakable agony
    For EEEEEEE-ternity!!!!!!!”

  243. @ Sophie

    Your former church sounds a little healthier than mine by wanting to communicate with you about where things went wrong. Church leadership, being made up of human beings, are just as prone to mistakes and failings as the rest of us. I believed that they didn’t handle our situation very well, and I would have welcomed the opportunity to talk with them about it. But, because they presented themselves as the authority of God, you were not to question them or their judgement. As the weeks and months went by after our departure, I longed for someone to call us up to talk. It never happened. So, you are right. I don’t have that kind of closure, and I accept that I probably never will.
    It was very sweet of your former BF to call you and apologize. I can have nothing but respect for someone who will do that. I hope, too, that someday he’ll see that he doesn’t need a “covering.” I can never condone that sort of discipleship again. As my father and brother were very fond of quoting to me, “All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  244. @ Julie Anne

    Thank you for your encouragement. You are an inspiration for speaking up with your story and then not backing down.

  245. @ Eagle:

    Eagle — OR, a Christopher Guest Mockumentary, a la spinal tap, best in show, a mighty wind, for your consideration.

    It would write itself, there’s so much material.

  246. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    @ Sophie
    It was very sweet of your former BF to call you and apologize. I can have nothing but respect for someone who will do that.

    Yeah, he is and alway was an incredible, beautiful person. I almost wish he wasn’t because then it would have made it easier not to have any regrets.

  247. @ Daisy:

    Daisy,

    “I get totally annoyed with the Mark Driscolls of the world who sermonize that a married man should not have to go for sex without five days in a row.”

    While standing on someone’s grave in Arlington National Cemetary he said husbands should be having sex with their wives “at LEAST once a day…”.

  248. elastigirl wrote:
    “…While standing on someone’s grave in Arlington National Cemetary he said husbands should be having sex with their wives “at LEAST once a day…”

    Have you ever noticed how these guys seem to idolize war & armed conflict? Not long ago I had a beautiful dream. I dreamed that the next time the old men tried to gather the young men to go and fight another war, the young men stood up to them on their hind legs and told them to go to hell.

  249. @ elastigirl:

    Me thinks MD is simply projecting his own wants. I guess if your a preacher and preach about what you desire you can pretty much create your own reality. Grace gets the double whammy – her husband and her pastor telling her how she needs to fulfill her husbands needs.

  250. i agree, bridget — a personal misspelling is unbearable.

    it’s the reason I’m not enjoying texting. i’m trying to adjust to it to accomodate a few friends. But my texts are so long — my strained fingers are getting so tired — since I generally hate to misspell for any reason (except for “kool” — has to be with a “k”), & abbreviate and acronymize (I’m sure i didn’t just invent that word). And it’s simply not enjoyable to communicate with a net zero in significance.

  251. OK, so Gord Fee, waaaay back when I was in University – the one connected to Regent I would go to the Regent library – as our library cards were good for either library and listen to all his classes per semester -they were all recorded an you could sign out the tape series (old technology for back then too). NT Write – who writes tombs btw, my husband leaves them lying around and I skim for the good parts – parts about women are interesting, parts about Jesus’ background are for me very interesting too, parts where he debates this or that historian, I skip. Rachel’s blog is a fount of linked info too, so through her links I found many articles. Also, on Facebook, RHE’s page has many people linking to fascinating posts, and she sometimes uses those links for her Sunday Superlatives. On her comment threads, people share many more links – I am not sure why, but they are all interesting. Regent has guest lectures, I read imonk and Jesus Creed (if you want good info, scroll through Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight’s blog) and Roger Olsen’s blog, just cause he really niggles at Calvinist theology – he’s a bit old-time and doesn’t link too much, but he is a great writer.

    Two books, that are much more readable than NT Write are: The Blue Parakeet by Scott McKnight – he writes this with university students in mind, so it is an easy and powerful read. No scriptural gymnastics that I can detect in that book so far – I am 3/4 through, and it has been great – lots of early church info in there. If you want a quick, but powerful read, get an e-book by Scot called:
    ‘Junia is not Alone
    Breaking Our Silence
    About Women in the
    Bible and the Church Today’
    by Scot McKnight

    It is a quicker read than a lot of other info I have read, and gleaned and searched for over the past 4 or 5 years, but it will really shake up your view of translations and help you realize how much blind trust we all put into Bible interpreters. I will try and link more pro-women articles here as I read them, if you are interested. I get most of my stuff for free off the net, but also some is backed up by books I order. I’ve got three little ones, and teach gr. 5 part-time, so I’m pretty busy these days and don’t read difficult books, but Scot McKnight’s were pretty easy. Blue Parakeet is about women in church leadership -but has a good overview of how to approach the Bible.

    I also just finished Rachel’s controversial (not!) book :) (A Year of Biblical Womanhood), she is much less detailed about the early church, but has a few tidbits. Check out her link to Mutuality week on her blog – that was powerful – she had many guest posters with degrees falling out of their heads, so great resources there. But Rachel never goes far enough, so it is always worthwhile googling for further info.

    So, let’s see, there are others for sure and I will post this and then go duoh!

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2011/01/17/how-they-changed-their-mind-about-women/

    I could give a million more links to works, but I think that would tie up my comment until 2020, so go and discover!

    And grab a Kindle – on my Mac I was able to download a Kindle and buy ‘Junia is not Alone’, not sure if you can download Kindle onto any computer, but it is a very short book, more of an essay, and jammed with neat stuff.

    Oh, and Richard Beck – not super conservative Christian, but a POWERFUL writer, and the best rebuttals ever to legalism – he’s a psychology prof, and very interesting.

    I would link, but I think one link is the limit here, so google Richard Beck blog or find him on Rachel Held Evan’s last Sunday Superlatives.

    If I think of better sources off hand, I will post back, maybe tomorrow.

  252. Texting became a “total” reality for me when my kids got phones :) I don’t like long texts though. I don’t like talking on the phone that much either, and I can’t stand talking on the phone, even bluetooth, when driving.

  253. Speaking of books, I really enjoyed John Immel’s book Blight in the Vineyard. If you’ve had any brush at all with SGM or authoritarian churches and you want easy to read and has a little humor, I thought it was excellent. A more difficult reading but so good is Abusing Scripture NY Manfred T. Brauch who systematically teaches how any kind of over/under hierarchy in the church and home is not biblical.

  254. From Val’s link:

    Now back to How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals by Alan Johnson. Those who tell their stories are John Armstrong, Ruth Haley Barton, Gil Bilezikian, Stuart and Jill Briscoe, Tony Campolo, Robert and Alice Fryling, Stan Gundry, Bill and Lynne Hybels, Alan Johnson, Walt and Olive Liefeld, I. Howard Marshall, Alice Mathews, Roger Nicole, John and Nancy Ortberg, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Carol and James Plueddemann, Minette Drumwright Pratt, Ron Sider, John Stackhouse Jr., John Bernard Taylor and Bonnie Wurzbacher.

    I have heard the Briscoes mentioned on this blog quite a few times.

  255. I have threatened to take my kids phones away if they ever use text language! I do not want it to become the new normal for them. I mean, we all had to learn to spell and write coherent hotes! They should, too. :o)

  256. Anon1

    Guess who changed my mind about the role of women in the church? Pete Briscoe-Jill and Stuart’s son. He now has a woman pastor-Joanne Hummel. I plan to feature one of her sermons for the detractos who say that all women pastors are heretical liberals. You would love her. BY the way, she is friends with Jackie Rose, another much maligned conservative feamle pastor.

  257. I am placing this on for Jen-computer issues:

    @Hester, you mentioned your mother’s experience w/ a cult, and it sounds
    eerily similar to a cult my parents were involved with in the 70′s/early
    80′s. It was located just outside Charles Town, WV. I was born there in
    ’74, as were most of my younger siblings. Some very bad things happened
    there, and the leader (Dorothy “Dot” McClellan) ended up serving time in
    prison for her control over parents who spanked their child to death.
    –Jen C.

  258. Bridget wrote:

    Texting became a “total” reality for me when my kids got phones

    I don’t know if this made it to your area, but years ago there was a cellphone provider commercial where a father storms into his living room in a fury, demanding to know where last month’s “TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR PHONE BILL!” came from. And all his kids answer him entirely in TXT-speak.

  259. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I can never condone that sort of discipleship again. As my father and brother were very fond of quoting to me, “All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    Though I prefer the corollary by classic SF writer Frank Herbert:

    “It’s not so much that power tends to corrupt as that power tends to attract the already-corrupted and the easily-corruptible.”

  260. My experience with people in the “church” has been the same what Daisy, Eagle and others have posted.I wanted to also add that if you have kids and they don’t always act perfect, then you are judged for it and so are your kids.Especially by the homeschoolers.Those who are the finger pointers are imperfect themselves and so are their kids.Delusionaly, they think the opposite.

  261. I loved reading this post. I am an alumnus of both the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. As a student leader back then, I clearly saw the results of bad religious groups on campus. My first semester at UNC Charlotte was punctuated by an anti-abortion display that was too graphic. XXX Church came and put a ballon-sized penis in the middle of campus. Many students and faculty members were upset but the university approved of it. It is good that NC State is warning students about these groups. This is the first time I posted on this forum even though I read it periodically. I am from Spindale, NC which is home to the Word of Faith church that has been all over the media for its unscriptural practices. I read blogs often but do not respond to all of them as I am busy with grad school. An excellent post.

  262. Johnny

    Welcome to TWW. I  wish you well with grad school. Any insght into cult groups that you see on campus would be interesting. Keep us posted from time to time.

  263. Val wrote:

    Junia was OUTSTANDING among the apostles (never translated as anything else, St. Chrysostom meantions her in the second century…

    And this is St John Chrystosom, who was known for having a very LOW opinion of women. And yet he praises this woman Junia as an apostle. Coming from him, what does this tell you?