Frank Page Shares Lessons From His Daughter’s Suicide

"My heart is broken as I've heard the news about Rick Warren's son. Please pray. Unfortunately, I understand that which they experience now"

Tweet by Frank Page

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=26201&picture=sad-faceSad Face

Yesterday I was startled by the Tweet Dee sent out to those of us who are wartwatch subscribers. Here is the tweet I read on my IPhone:

 Frank Page,former SBC president,whose dgtr committed suicide, to meet w/ other SBC leaders to address mental illness. huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/chu…

Frank Page is a native North Carolinian who served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) from 2006 to 2008.  I was very active in a Southern Baptist church during that time, so I remember him fairly well.  The following year (2009), his beautiful daughter Melissa ended her life.  

The tragedy was kept quiet, and I never remember hearing about it.  

Then last week Bob Smietana's article Baptist leaders seek to help the mentally ill appeared in USA Today.  Here is how it begins:

"Frank Page, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was getting ready to work in the yard in the fall of 2009 when the phone rang. His daughter was on the line.

Daddy, I love you, she said. Tell Mama and the girls I love them, too.

Then she was gone.

Melissa Page Strange, 32, took her own life just after hanging up the phone with her dad.

"I do not want you to imagine what that is like," he said.

For years, Page did not share the painful details of Melissa's death, fearing that some Christians might speak ill of her if they knew. Mental illness and suicide were taboo topics for many churches, seen as a kind of spiritual failure."

Such a tragedy has to be the worst possible thing a parent can ever experience.  In the wake of his daughter's death, Page has been working on a book that attempts to address this alarming trend and help those who are going through the painful loss of a loved one.  

His book is entitled Melissa:  A Father's Lesson from a Daughter's Suicide.  Amazon introduces it this way:

http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Fathers-Lessons-Daughters-Suicide/dp/1433679108

"Desperately hurting people take their own lives every day throughout the world, yet the church is not on top of the epidemic and often seems ill- equipped to address it biblically and effectively.

Frank Page, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, learned this firsthand when he lost his daughter, Melissa, to suicide in 2009. Writing from personal experience, he examines the biblical truths that carried him through such a painful time and that minister to him on dark days still known to come around.

Ultimately, Melissa: A Father's Lessons from a Daughter's Suicide is beauty from ashes, a book of wisdom and hope that Page wishes he could have read before going through this valley…"

 

The book will be available June 1, and we will consider reviewing it here at TWW.  

Recently, I spent some time reviewing the notes I took during my visits to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to hear various chapel speakers.  Interestingly, I attended the SEBTS chapel service on April 17, 2007, and heard the current SBC president Fred Luter for the first time.  His message was based on Mark 4:35-41 and was entitled:  What to do when the storm comes…

Luter asked the question – how do you deal with tough times?  Humorously, he queried: "What is a minister to do when the deacons are devilish and the trustees are tricky?"  Then Luter got serious and explained that faith is the first area the devil messes with.  He affirmed that if you don't have faith you have fear.  I appreciated Luter's application of this passage.  He said that when the storms come, remember…

(1) The Promises of Jesus (v. 35).  He also referenced Romans 8:28 and Romans 8:38-39.

(2) The Presence of Jesus (v. 36).  Jesus was in the boat with His disciples.  

(3) The Power of Jesus Christ (v. 37-41).  Whenever the storm shows up, so will the Savior.

While we believe Scripture can be extremely encouraging during times of tragedy, we are concerned about how it is used in Nouthetic (Biblical) Counseling (which we have recently been discussing).  

This type of counseling appears to be gaining popularity in Christendom, and I am not so sure that it is the proper method for counseling those who are suffering from deep depression.  One of the criticisms of those who ascribe to biblical counseling is that they tend to downplay prescription drugs and professional psychiatrists and psychologists.  (If I have misrepresented their position in this regard, please let me know).  

Earlier this week I was reading a post on the Cripplegate blog entitled The Need for Pastors to Counsel.  Please keep in mind that the contributors to this blog are affiliated with the Masters Seminary and John MacArthur (who embraced Nouthetic Counseling back in the 1970s).  Here is an excerpt:

"We live in a world filled with uncertainty and tragedy. Every day we hear of some event that devastates people’s lives. Where can these people turn? …

Pastors need to be equipped to give hope to people through the most severe trials. They ought to be equipped to take hurting congregants to the scriptures and point them to a powerful sovereign God who cares about the lost and hurting. The pastor ought to be able revive the common hope we have from believing in a God who cares about troubled and broken people.   

Yet with all the resources available for pastors, too often I hear of pastors who sub-let this task. They refer congregants not to the Word, but to outside “professionals.” In so doing, pastors relegate soul care to those outside the church, and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders. The result is that some within the church lose confidence in either the sufficiency of scripture, or in the pastor’s knowledge of the Bible."

I don't know about you, but that position deeply troubles me.  So pastors who advise congregants to seek outside help from professionals are relegating 'soul care to those outside the church' ? REALLY? 

Would these pastors attempt to counsel someone like Frank Page's daughter instead of recommending that she seek professional treatment?  

As mentioned earlier in the post, biblical counseling is gaining popularity in seminaries, conferences, and churches.  In an upcoming post, we will take a closer look at biblical counseling so stay tuned…

In the meantime, please keep those who have lost loved ones through suicide in your prayers.  May God grant them peace.

Lydia's Corner:  2 Samuel 1:1-2:11   John 12:20-50   Psalm 118:19-29   Proverbs 15:27-28

Comments

Frank Page Shares Lessons From His Daughter’s Suicide — 211 Comments

  1. I am so glad you are spotlighting mental health and the church, Deb and Dee. This is a subject close to my heart. I am presently working on my story, but I tried Biblical counseling – went to several different counselors after experiencing several traumatic events while we lived overseas. I had praise music playing all day. I read the Bible. I prayed. I cried out to God. Nothing would stop the horrific flashbacks. I was losing touch with reality. My mom saw me dying and kicked me in the rear to go to a Christian psychologist who concluded I was experiencing PTSD. The mental anguish could have killed me.

  2. Julie Anne,

    I will be praying for you as you document your story. I know it will be a great help to others.

    Blessings to you, dear sister.

  3. God bless you, Julie Anne. We are learning so much about things like PSTD and other things that Christian counselors are not equipped to deal with. YOu know, I was talking to a psychologist last week who also happens to be a believer and I asked her about Nouthetic Counseling. her response was that those whose sin are causing the evil don’t usually seek counseling but that those who have been sinned against and seek counseling need to also be encouraged to experience the vast great love of Christ for them. You know what else she said? Her big concern is that these people seeking counseling for trauma, etc, need most the unconditional love of Christ from their fellow believers but that seems to a rarity.

  4. One of the most troubling things about Nouthetic counseling is that they focus only on the spiritual. For example, to the so-called biblical counselor only the spiritual angle (read that sin and repentance) is important. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

    But there’s so much information about suicide that the NANC authors never bring up on their blogs. (And they did a lot of blogging after Matthew Warren’s death. I watched with great interest as they each wrote their obligatory 2-3 sentences of condolences and then launched their tirades about sin — and their denouncement of a possible medical angle). A.B. Abercrombie is a very good example of the kind of shaming and guilt associated with this kind of counseling.
    http://bcinstitute.com/a-biblical-response-to-mental-illness-and-suicide-what-should-we-conclude/

    BTW, last week, Freakanomics released an hour-long podcast on U.S. suicide trends by location, gender, age, and race. Anyone who cares about this topic should listen to this excellent audio:
    http://www.freakonomics.com/2013/05/03/u-s-suicide-rates-rise/

    It also cites a study in Hungary (highest suicide rate in the world) where low-dosage meds made a major difference in suicide rate.

  5. Deb –

    That entire last paragraph that you quoted is sickening to me. Someone could be desperate and despairing beyond what they can bear and the writer is concerned about:

    “. . .and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders. The result is that some within the church lose confidence in either the sufficiency of scripture, or in the pastor’s knowledge of the Bible.”

    Of all things to be worried about when someone is in despair or suicidal, one shouldn’t be concerned about what people in the congregation might think about any blasted thing, including the all powerful elders and accountability to them. The care and concern should be for the human being in distress. Maybe I’m reading that all wrong but the whole thing seems to be about validating the “authority” of leaders in a church. It makes me physically sick thinking about it.

    And the people are supposed to just put their trust in their pastor’s knowledge of the Bible (scream coming) UGH – YUCK – ICK!

  6. I’m so very sorry for his loss.

    I had depression for many years and at times suicidal thoughts. I still have anxiety.

    Bravo to this gentleman for wanting to bring attention and change to the church in this area, but I think it’s a very big, uphill battle in American Christendom.

    I was just saying on the last post about ‘biblical counseling’ that you’ll notice that after the first week of intense coverage of mental health problems by the Christian media, that nary a word is said about depression, suicide, or related topics on Christian sites now, such as Christianity Today.

    For people who have never suffered depression (or something similar), they have no inkling and usually little compassion for people who do have it.

    Even a few family members of mine (who never had depression) have to fight these biases about my depression. They don’t understand why I find ordinary, every day tasks so hard, or why it would take me 10x longer to do something they could do in a second.

    It’s not just Christians, I have seen unsympathetic or ignorant attitudes by Non-Christians on secular sites when these subjects are discussed.

    However, certain types of Christians add another layer of problems…

    Such as blaming the one who is suffering, saying that their depression is due to sin, they need to repent for some personal sin, or they need to simply pray more, read the Bible more, or really re-think and dwell on what Jesus did for them.

    None of those approaches work. A few of those suggestions may offer a tiny bit of temporary relief, but not much else.

    There is an extreme amount of insensitivity or ignorance (and IMO even hostility of sorts) towards by the majority of the (American) church towards Christians who suffer emotionally.

  7. @ Daisy:

    Where I said, ” first week of intense coverage of mental health problems”

    I meant in regards to the suicide of Rick Warren’s son. The media and church gave that about one week of attention, then moved on to discuss other things.

    Also, this quote from the Cripplegate blog:

    “in so doing, pastors relegate soul care to those outside the church, and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders.”
    They’re wanting to hold a deeply depressed Christian (or one with some other sort of psychological malady) “accoutable?” For what?

    Being depressed (or bipolar etc) is not in itself a sin, and is not always caused by personal sin. There is nothing to be held accountable for.

  8. Anon 1 wrote:

    You know what else she said? Her big concern is that these people seeking counseling for trauma, etc, need most the unconditional love of Christ from their fellow believers but that seems to a rarity.

    Yes, that definitely makes sense. It takes a rare person to tolerate someone who is depressed. Very few people have the gift of active listening. Instead, they want to give the remedy of a quick fix and a quick fix just does not happen for people who have suffered abuse/trauma. And put it in the bigger picture of spiritual abuse, is it any wonder why so many have a crisis of faith, especially when the abuser was a church leader/pastor?

  9. @ Bridget:

    I had the same reaction to the entire post. I am putting together information on this kind of counseling and will post it soon so that our readers can be fully informed before they consent to biblical counseling.

  10. Anon 1 wrote:

    I was talking to a psychologist last week who also happens to be a believer and I asked her about Nouthetic Counseling. her response was that those whose sin are causing the evil don’t usually seek counseling but that those who have been sinned against and seek counseling need to also be encouraged to experience the vast great love of Christ for them. You know what else she said? Her big concern is that these people seeking counseling for trauma, etc, need most the unconditional love of Christ from their fellow believers but that seems to a rarity.

    All we can do is keep alerting people about the dangers of Nouthetic Counseling, and that is my intent.

  11. Thy Peace wrote:

    As far as sexual abuse within SBC, this is what Frank Page says and does …
    http://stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com/search?q=frank+page

    So many people have committed suicide because of sexual abuse. Page angers me, as does Patterson and his “evil-doers” quote.

    So do John MacArthur and Jay Adams. What if the gov’t decided to hold them legally responsible for all of the suicides caused by their “nouthetic counseling” garbage? They would go to jail for medical malpractice at least. At least one suicide has happened in MacArthur’s church.

  12. “Then Luter got serious and explained that faith is the first area the devil messes with. He affirmed that if you don’t have faith you have fear.”

    He’s right…

  13. They refer congregants not to the Word, but to outside “professionals.” In so doing, pastors relegate soul care to those outside the church, and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders.

    Ugh. I believe it was St Augustine who claimed that all truth is God’s truth, right? If a secular therapist helps someone, and speaks truth into his or her life, is that any less beneficial than if the same truth came from a minister or even Scripture? Not if all truth is really God’s truth.

    I have a secular therapist, and I’m grateful for him. I’ve also had a Christian therapist, an advocate of reparative drive therapy (theory). Both have been helpful in their own way. But I’ve learned a bit more from the secular therapist, and I completely reject the Christian therapists’ advocacy of reparative drive theory. (And speaking of soul care, what ever happened to soul competency? Am I right to detect some sort of religious mind control with advocates of the Nouthetic method?)

    Nouthetic Counseling seems about as helpful as Bob Newhart’s comedic “stop it” method. I’m saddened deeply for family touched by suicide. I’m grieved even more by their method of healing (NC).

  14. I am sorry for Mr. Page’s loss but it always appears to me the leaders of the SBC have two standards-one for themselves and one for other people.

    Where is there credibility?

  15. Thy Peace wrote:

    As far as sexual abuse within SBC, this is what Frank Page says and does …
    http://stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com/search?q=frank+page

    “Opportunistic”? Wow. Because abuse victims who come forward are typically seeking to be rewarded and praised??? Um, no. We are shamed and dismissed and marginalized by the church. So most of us, including myself, may tell only one or two people about what happened. Those who are brave enough to stand up and tell their stories publicly are certainly not doing so with hopes of benefiting somehow.

    I also have a problem with this sentence in the last paragraph of the Cripplegate quote above:

    “In so doing, pastors relegate soul care to those outside the church, and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders.”

    The problem is that in many denominations, including the Independent Fundamental Baptists and even the SBC, there is little or no extra-congregational accountability, no hierarchy, no reporting structure. It’s like Vegas: what happens in the church stays in the church. And within the congregation, it gets hushed up or rumors are started or the victims are, once again, dismissed and blamed. In those churches, the purpose of accountability is to ensure that victims and hurting people are thoroughly and repeatedly beaten over the head with the word of God and told to get over it already.

    Finally, while I strongly oppose Nouthetic counseling in general, I am especially grieved to think of how it is used with abuse victims. PTSD is unusual among the disorders described in the DSM in that it’s a problem that develops because of something that happens to the individual, not because of some innate character or personality problem, and not (necessarily) because of a chemical imbalance (although there is definitely a physiological component to the disorder). So how do Nouthetic counselors approach trauma? Do they blame the victim for getting triggered, for not turning their flashbacks over to God, for feeling angry and anxious instead of praising God for the opportunity to grow spiritually? Yuck. Sounds a whole lot like the stuff Gothard teaches about yielding personal rights and our responsibility to healing the offenders.

  16. Julie Anne wrote:

    My mom saw me dying and kicked me in the rear to go to a Christian psychologist who concluded I was experiencing PTSD. The mental anguish could have killed me.

    I am so sorry for the pain that you experienced. I am sure that your story will touch many, many people.

  17. @ Janey: Janey
    Awesome comment. Thank you for all of that information. Nouthetic counseling is dangerous. There is little worse than a rabid Christian with little knowledge and a crusade to wipe out sin.

  18. Daisy wrote:

    Such as blaming the one who is suffering, saying that their depression is due to sin, they need to repent for some personal sin, or they need to simply pray more, read the Bible more, or really re-think and dwell on what Jesus did for them.

    Once again, pastors who go through a little training in seminary and those who attend weekend biblical counseling seminars that make one “competent to counsel” can be very dangerous.

    Contrast that with psychiatrists who go through 4 years of med school and 3-4 years of residency, carefully studying the human body and brain. That doesn’t make them perfect but they are a darn site better than the “competent to counsel” gang.

  19. Daisy wrote:

    “in so doing, pastors relegate soul care to those outside the church, and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders.”

    You should see some elders that I have known. They are the last people who should go anywhere near someone struggling with mental illness.

  20. @ Thy Peace:
    Here is his quote

    Frank Page is the man who publicly castigated clergy rape and molestation survivors as being “nothing more than opportunistic persons.”

    Perhaps he will develop some empathy after his own ordeal?

  21. lemonaidfizz wrote:

    The problem is that in many denominations, including the Independent Fundamental Baptists and even the SBC, there is little or no extra-congregational accountability, no hierarchy, no reporting structure. It’s like Vegas: what happens in the church stays in the church. And within the congregation, it gets hushed up or rumors are started or the victims are, once again, dismissed and blamed. In those churches, the purpose of accountability is to ensure that victims and hurting people are thoroughly and repeatedly beaten over the head with the word of God and told to get over it already.

    Christa Brown has written an excellent essay about how many denominations have been able to implement clergy accountability programs, but Baptists, because of their lack of accountability, have not: http://www.stopbaptistpredators.org/documents/BaptistIdentity.pdf

  22. Some loving words from John MacArthur: “Human therapies are embraced most eagerly by the spiritually weak–those who are shallow or ignorant of biblical truth and who are unwilling to accept the path of suffering that leads to spiritual maturity and deeper communion with God. The unfortunate effect is that these people remain immature, held back by a self-imposed dependence on some pseudo-Christian method or psycho-quackery that actually stifles real growth.” [end of quote] Source: http://articles.ochristian.com/article2279.shtml

    These are the same people who accuse psychologists/psychiatrists of “elitism.”

    Notice also that throughout that article, MacArthur makes “psychology” synonymous with Freud. This is deliberate dishonesty on MacArthur’s part. Freud’s ideas, especially the stranger ones, are not the most widely embraced in the field of psychology today. Freud serves as a straw man to burn. The footnotes reveal that MacArthur is also relying on the Bobgans’ book Psychoheresy for his info.

  23. lemonaidfizz wrote:

    So how do Nouthetic counselors approach trauma? Do they blame the victim for getting triggered, for not turning their flashbacks over to God, for feeling angry and anxious instead of praising God for the opportunity to grow spiritually?

    My experience stems back 23 yrs ago, and I have no way of knowing if it was Nouthetic counseling, but I definitely remember the ideas discussed: “perfect love casts out fear” was said to me. If I had perfect love of God, then I wouldn’t be experiencing these flashbacks. It was my sin of fear and not trusting God that was the root problem because Christians should never be living in fear. If we are not trusting God, that is our problem (sin). So I needed to repent from that.

    Another focus was depression. It was well known then that depression was anger turned inward, so anyone who was depressed was focused on “self” which was also a sin. So my response was to dive head first into scripture, be at church as much as possible, pray, etc. I was on the crazy cycle. Now I not only had to deal with flashbacks, I had to deal with the fact that I failed as a Christian and God was “rewarding” me with flashbacks because I failed to completely trust Him and allowed fear and was self-focused.

  24. Julie Anne wrote:

    If we are not trusting God, that is our problem (sin).

    I’m sorry, Julie Anne. Your experience does sound a lot like the “Christian counseling” I’m familiar with; whether it’s called Nouthetic or not, there always seems to be some element of victim-blaming. Sometimes it’s very subtle, as when victims are told they must forgive their abusers, and sometimes it’s more blatant. In either case, it’s harmful. So for someone with PTSD, even if the church does not blame the victim for their original trauma–and that’s being generous, because many churches do blame the victim for inviting the abuse–even then, you are blamed for having a normal trauma response. Suddenly it becomes a sin rather than a natural response to a terrible experience. And then the further sin of not trusting God is heaped upon you.

    As for John MacArthur’s loving words Nicholas quotes above, I guess I will admit to being spiritually weak, shallow, immature, and ignorant. But after years of treatment with a lapsed-Catholic-secular-humanist therapist, I am finally finding some peace and freedom. And I wish all of my fellow survivors the same, through whatever source of assistance works best for them. So I cheerfully thumb my nose at MacArthur’s labels :)

  25. Oh, you all are giving me language to describe what it is about Nouthetic Counseling that repelled me. It was the guilt and shame aftertaste it left in my mouth. It felt more like a manipulation to make the “counselor” (I use that term very loosely) feel better about themselves. It was the judgement I heard from the two Nouthetic counselors I knew as friends, that opened my eyes. Every time a person didn’t respond to their “counseling” or guiding them into repentance and “seeing” Jesus, they would say it was the person being rebellious.

    I had some experience with other counseling decades ago, but when they told me my “depression” was just anger turned inward, I thought, “DUH!” I was given a “No Talk Policy” as a kid and it was reinforced at my new church as a young adult. The submission, be quiet, obey stuff I picked up as a 20 something single was still enough to reinforce that I was to stuff real issues and not deal with them. Well, whose not going to get depressed if they are told to stuff?

    I remember asking what I was supposed to do with my anger at very legitimate issues? The answer I was given by both “counselor”, pastor, and people in the congregation was that I needed to read more, pray more, commit more, work more, and not express the anger till it goes away. So I was to STUFF. That alone made me depressed! ;)

    I still think that focusing on all depression being a result of anger turned inward was very damaging. How many people have physical issues that are either the sole cause or a major contributing factor? Seems silly to have a one-size-fits-all answer to such a complicated subject.

    I am encouraged and happy for people who finally find their voice and feel the righteous anger again. I don’t mind if it doesn’t come out perfectly. But I often see Christians focus their attention on the wounded, the victim, the one who finally gets to speak out and they expect them to speak out perfectly, without any sin or what they interpret as sin. Instead of understanding, comforting, listening, and learning, they condemn and further damage the person who is desperately trying to find their voice and regain the feelings they dulled in order to survive, in order to please, in order to fit in and not bother others with their pain.

  26. Julie Anne wrote:

    Anon 1 wrote:
    It takes a rare person to tolerate someone who is depressed. Very few people have the gift of active listening. Instead, they want to give the remedy of a quick fix and a quick fix just does not happen for people who have suffered abuse/trauma. And put it in the bigger picture of spiritual abuse, is it any wonder why so many have a crisis of faith, especially when the abuser was a church leader/pastor?

    Exactly! JulieAnne, I think your story is all too common, I fear. I think many just keep their story quiet because of the responses they’ve gotten in the past. People just want the hurting person to not bother them and to just fix it and be done. “Move on!” is the mantra.

    But if we don’t all methodically go through it and process it, at our pace, hopefully with safe people who understand, or at a minimum simply care, then we only get worse, not better. That stuff grows like mold in the dark.

    I hate, with a black hate, the blaming of the person whose been violated, controlled, manipulated, abused, whatever … I had hopes that the church was a safe place for healing, but I found that we all have to choose ever so carefully who is safe and who to share with so we can find support.

    I taste it here on this blog. It’s good.

  27. lemonaidfizz wrote:

    So for someone with PTSD, even if the church does not blame the victim for their original trauma–and that’s being generous, because many churches do blame the victim for inviting the abuse–even then, you are blamed for having a normal trauma response. Suddenly it becomes a sin rather than a natural response to a terrible experience. And then the further sin of not trusting God is heaped upon you.

    Really what these Christian bullies are doing is slapping God’s face because PTSD is a natural-response to trauma. Take a look at war veterans. They experienced horrific trauma before their eyes. They may have seen their fellow comrade blown to pieces in front of them, but they were not able to respond normally because they had a job to do, so all of those heightened emotions got shoved in the dark recesses of the brain – – – to be dealt with later – – – = post traumatic stress. So then, when life became “normal” and felt “comfortable,” there is unfinished work to be done. The initial defense mechanism that prevented them from responding emotionally probably saved their life. A soldier simply cannot stop fighting and cry and feel the pain of a lost loved one. They had to move on, keep fighting, temporarily forget about that which he had seen.

    God created something beautiful in our brains so we could “check out” mentally when in horrific situations. My mind keeps thinking about those 3 young ladies held as sex slaves/prisoner for 10 years. You can be sure they have PTSD. They are most likely alive today because God gave them the ability to dissociate and survive.

    I am so thankful for my experience. This is such a powerful verse to me because it gives meaning to my difficult life experiences:

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Cor 1:3-4

  28. Deb wrote:

    All we can do is keep alerting people about the dangers of Nouthetic Counseling, and that is my intent.

    Deb and other commenters,

    I have two John MacArthur worshipers at my church. Would someone please do an article (or several) addressing these issues:

    1. How do you confront them? What should you expect to have thrown back in your face and how do you answer. One is an aggressive bully (rude, interrupts, won’t listen to any opinion that doesn’t agree with his, gossips for years behind your back) and the other bullies by conveniently ending his class the instant he stops talking and won’t entertain questions or prayer requests. Oh, and he loves to say that Mother Theresa wasn’t a Christian. What spiritual arrogance! Jesus has a lot to say about who gets eternal life and none of it agree with this guy’s opinion. Amazing. I love it when they assume that God agrees with them.

    2. How do you alert others in the church to avoid them?

    BTW, I’m there because I have a underground ministry to recovering Perl-influenced homeschoolers and Calvinistas.

  29. Nicholas wrote:

    Some loving words from John MacArthur: “Human therapies are embraced most eagerly by the spiritually weak–those who are shallow or ignorant of biblical truth and who are unwilling to accept the path of suffering that leads to spiritual maturity and deeper communion with God. The unfortunate effect is that these people remain immature, held back by a self-imposed dependence on some pseudo-Christian method or psycho-quackery that actually stifles real growth.” [end of quote] Source: http://articles.ochristian.com/article2279.shtml

    These are the same people who accuse psychologists/psychiatrists of “elitism.”

    Notice also that throughout that article, MacArthur makes “psychology” synonymous with Freud. This is deliberate dishonesty on MacArthur’s part. Freud’s ideas, especially the stranger ones, are not the most widely embraced in the field of psychology today. Freud serves as a straw man to burn. The footnotes reveal that MacArthur is also relying on the Bobgans’ book Psychoheresy for his info.

    Nicholas – thanks for posting this. It explains a lot.

  30. Janey wrote:

    How do you confront them?

    Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!!!!!
    They will not let you win. You will be told that you are a troublemaker, unbiblical, prideful, arrogant, etc. They will go behind your back to talk about you, calling it “seeking wise counsel.”

    What you need to decide is whether attending such a church is worth it. Remember, he is allowed to teach your class. That means your “betters” believe that he is a “leader.” If you go after him, his “superiors” will take it personally, believing that you are attacking them since they chose him.

    So, if you are underground, and want to stay, be careful and stay underground or be prepared for being targeted.

  31. Bridget wrote:

    Maybe I’m reading that all wrong but the whole thing seems to be about validating the “authority” of leaders in a church. It makes me physically sick thinking about it.

    I thought the same thing, Bridget.

  32. Nicholas wrote:

    What if the gov’t decided to hold them legally responsible for all of the suicides caused by their “nouthetic counseling” garbage? They would go to jail for medical malpractice at least. At least one suicide has happened in MacArthur’s church.

    One could only hope they would realize going to jail for that would not be persecution for righteousness’ sake.

  33. My PTSD is caused by an abusive childhood. Through counseling, my symptoms have improved greatly, and I live a totally normal life without medication. Now I have just become aware that my late husband’s inability to hold down a full-time job was probably due to undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia.

    As a childless widow, I was considered an outsider and I had a very low position in the hierarchy of the Wisconsin Lutheran Synod church I left in June. I actually think most parisioners were unaware I was a widow, because I look young and they never bothered to talk with me. Because I am a childless widow with PTSD (although you would never know by how I act), and had a husband who was mentally ill, I know I would never be considered anything but trailer trash by most churches. It is possible I may have a better experience in a liberal church, but at this point I am too traumatized to ever consider attending church again.

    While I am aware of the negative opinion many if not most churches would have of me, I should add that I do not share their negative opinion. I just graduated with a PhD in the physical sciences, and I enjoy an active social life with good friends. Job hunting is tough in this economy, but I see a bright future for myself.

  34. This is a really, really good interview regarding the 3 Cleveland kidnap survivors. Ochberg was interviewed and is a professor of psychiatry and an “expert who has written extensively on the effects of trauma, including post-traumatic stress.”

    His words simply make sense – – meeting the survivor right where they are emotionally, providing comfort and a listening ear. I love how he not only focuses on these 3 survivors, but extends it to other survivors that we all have around us. The reality is there are many people held captive in their own homes by abusers. He illustrates that connection beautifully.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/nation/jan-june13/cleveland2_05-09.html

  35. Julie Anne wrote:

    Yes, that definitely makes sense. It takes a rare person to tolerate someone who is depressed. Very few people have the gift of active listening. Instead, they want to give the remedy of a quick fix…

    “Memorize five proof texts and call me in the morning.”

  36. dee wrote:

    Janey wrote:
    How do you confront them?
    Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!!!!!
    They will not let you win. You will be told that you are a troublemaker, unbiblical, prideful, arrogant, etc. They will go behind your back to talk about you, calling it “seeking wise counsel.”
    What you need to decide is whether attending such a church is worth it. Remember, he is allowed to teach your class. That means your “betters” believe that he is a “leader.” If you go after him, his “superiors” will take it personally, believing that you are attacking them since they chose him.
    So, if you are underground, and want to stay, be careful and stay underground or be prepared for being targeted.

    “Swear allegiance to the Flag,
    Whichever Flag they offer;
    NEVER LET ON WHAT YOU REALLY FEEL…”
    — Mike & the Mechanics, “Silent Running”, 1986
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddi2TBnzdPo (with lyrics)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-KFhT9O6-A (fitting video mashup)

  37. dee wrote:

    Janey wrote:

    How do you confront them?

    Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!!!!!
    They will not let you win. You will be told that you are a troublemaker, unbiblical, prideful, arrogant, etc. They will go behind your back to talk about you, calling it “seeking wise counsel.”

    What you need to decide is whether attending such a church is worth it. Remember, he is allowed to teach your class. That means your “betters” believe that he is a “leader.” If you go after him, his “superiors” will take it personally, believing that you are attacking them since they chose him.

    So, if you are underground, and want to stay, be careful and stay underground or be prepared for being targeted.

    Thank you, Dee. I have quite a bit of experience under my belt on this one. I won’t go into all that but I would recommend that folks spend some time looking at the root reason people fall for this stuff. There is a motivation for it and that can be different for each one.

    One thing I learned is you NEVER bother with the leaders. Totally ignore them and don’t antagonize by publicly disagreeing. That only makes the more resolute. One thing that can be beneficial is to keep eyes open for those who are questioning or do not seem to be buying into all of it. That can take a long time to discern.

    BUT….the big thing is that people will see you as a fraud because you stay in a place you disagree with on doctrine. They will perceive that as hypocritical because doctrine is their life.

    I still to this day have friends who stay in the mega industrial complex because they think they can change it from inside. I have tried in vain to show them that the evil is ingrained into the system. It is built right in. Changing the players might help for a while but it is not a fix as it is only cosmetic. In fact, their staying there has started to make them defensive about their lack of influence because they once had it there but not anymore and they cannot accept that. And it is too embarassing to admit. So they play a game they can never win.

    Dee is right. And let me tell you, your family is not worth sacrificing to their god of control and lording it over people. And yes, your family will be negatively impacted. The best thing we can show our children is that we have doctrinal and moral boundaries in what we allow from our fellow professing believers. I will take a beating from an unbeliever for His Name but not from a long time believer….especially one who makes their living off the Name of Christ.

  38. Julie Anne wrote:

    My experience stems back 23 yrs ago, and I have no way of knowing if it was Nouthetic counseling, but I definitely remember the ideas discussed: “perfect love casts out fear” was said to me. If I had perfect love of God, then I wouldn’t be experiencing these flashbacks. It was my sin of fear and not trusting God that was the root problem because Christians should never be living in fear. If we are not trusting God, that is our problem (sin). So I needed to repent from that.

    Noutheitc Counseling = SIN-SNIFFING with a coat of camo paint.

    So many of these Biblical types are so into Sin-Sniffing they would not be out-of-place as Witchfinders-General smelling out Witches or in the NKVD smelling out Counter-Revolutionary Thought-Criminals.

  39. William Birch wrote:

    . (And speaking of soul care, what ever happened to soul competency? Am I right to detect some sort of religious mind control with advocates of the Nouthetic method?)

    Oh William, that concept is dead but it warms my heart when I see another person even mention it. I was weaned on it growing up in the SBC. That and priesthood of believer which now consists of a caste system. I do not recognize the SBC anymore. It seems people go to church so that a titled person can tell them what to believe, think and how to live. In other words: Care for their souls for them. Spiritual dwarves. And taking over the role of the Holy Spirit, to boot.

  40. Janey wrote:

    One of the most troubling things about Nouthetic counseling is that they focus only on the spiritual. For example, to the so-called biblical counselor only the spiritual angle (read that sin and repentance) is important. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

    That’s Gnosticism as covered by Christian Monist in his blog, where you become more Spiritual than God — “SPIRITUAL GOOD! PHYSICAL BAAAAAAAAD! SPIRITUAL GOOD! PHYSICAL BAAAAAAAAAD!”

  41. dee wrote:

    Awesome comment. Thank you for all of that information. Nouthetic counseling is dangerous. There is little worse than a rabid Christian with little knowledge and a crusade to wipe out sin.

    The Muslim equivalent of “little knowledge and a crusade to wipe out sin” gave us al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

  42. @ Anon 1:
    :^) I suppose remnants of the SBC still run rampant through my veins, haha. I was Southern Baptist in the womb! My journey out of the SBC is an interesting one to experience, but I see that I’m not alone, thank God!

  43. As to the horror Frank Page experienced and his calling victims of abuse, "opportunists" instead of showing any compassion and understanding for what they endured at the hands of "SBC" ministers, etc, these guys RARELY connect the dots. Let me add another point into the mix. Right now Page is facilitating the "unity" committee in the SBC over the Calvinism fight. Mohler has been on record implying non Cals are heretics, saying they do not have the mental processes for understanding Calvinism, etc etc. He said folks who signed the Trad doc should be marginalized. (whatever that means) Now, keep in mind Page asked Mohler to be on this committee. Mohler has no compunction about doing and saying whatever he wants. But here is something HUGE that Page is ignoring…acting as if it is not real. He is ignoring Mohler's protection and promotion of CJ Mahaney. He is ignoring the lawsuit. He is ignoring the victims……AGAIN and acting as if Mohler has moral graviitas which he does not. These guys never connect dots. They live in silos. They will convince you that one has NOTHING to do with the other because they are good at doing that. Been doing it for many years. But, in reality, it speaks to their moral compass and what their true priorities are. If his daughter was not a wake up call for victims, then what?

  44. Hug, I am reading the ChristianMonists free ebook right now. We have been on similar journeys as far as church history is concerned. I am really enjoying his book.

  45. dee wrote:

    Janey wrote:

    How do you confront them?

    Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!!!!!
    They will not let you win. You will be told that you are a troublemaker, unbiblical, prideful, arrogant, etc. They will go behind your back to talk about you, calling it “seeking wise counsel.”

    What you need to decide is whether attending such a church is worth it. Remember, he is allowed to teach your class. That means your “betters” believe that he is a “leader.” If you go after him, his “superiors” will take it personally, believing that you are attacking them since they chose him.

    So, if you are underground, and want to stay, be careful and stay underground or be prepared for being targeted.

    Dear Dee, HUG, Anon 1, Julie Anne, and Anonymous,

    I think you are right. It’s hard to leave the church I’ve been in for so long. But ever since the MacArthur Inquisitors moved in, they’ve hurt my church and its people. Do I resign my membership or just disappear (along with my tithe)?

  46. Janey: We have been discussing this on a recent post of mine. Take a look at this comment from Pastor Ken Garrett who has extensively studied spiritual and has experienced it first-hand. He is right on. I’ve copied part of it below.

    So, in reference to the religious leader who, despite claiming to be engaged in “loving” acts and speech–gives a person the creeps; such a person needs to be asked about his/her behavior, and given a chance to understand that such behavior is not being perceived as loving.

    After that, there are really only a couple of ways it can go: the leader either receives the input or not. If he/she does, then there is the marvelous opportunity for change and growth, and increasingly effectiveness in ministry.

    If he/she does not receive the input, and even becomes adversarial towards the person who expressed the concern, then that person (who gave the input) needs to LEAVE, with family and friends in tow. “My sheep hear My voice,” said the Shepherd, and the principle is true for His under-shepherds–those whom God has led to be under his/her care will internally recognize the voice of their pastor as being the one they would like to follow and share their lives with.

    So, what I’m saying (in my usual, long way), is that if a person doesn’t hear a loving, caring, sacrificial voice in someone they are expected to “follow” or listen to for direction, counsel, etc, then they shouldn’t go through the motions of being a part of such leader’s group. We’re responsible to apply our best understanding of the objective evidences of love IN CONCERT with our own, Spirit-led, subjective intuitions of it–and trust God to speak to us through both. He’s able to lead us through both, too, I think. You’re not held responsible to be right about the “love” demonstrated by religious leaders, but you are responsible to be honest about your perceptions of those leaders, and to be sure that you do not enable or support them with a troubled conscience. The violation of the conscience is one of the first areas an abusive leader assaults in the human soul. (That’s what got me into such trouble with my own dark church…)

    I know I say this a lot, but it’s true: As long as the footsteps of those coming IN the front door are louder than the footsteps of those going OUT the back door, bad leaders won’t do anything to change their behavior.

    (http://goo.gl/ZoIUc)

  47. @ Janey:

    I wasn’t even able to finish reading the linked article by Ab Abercrombie because it was so triggering. God help the people who go to him for “counsel.” They’re going to need it.

  48. Oh, one more piece of information to help you with your answer to my post about leaving my church…

    I’m a bit of a celebrity. My church gets extra credibility because I’m there. That’s probably why those lay leaders don’t attack me directly.

    It sounds as though I should resign my membership officially. If so, how do I answer questions from the leaders? From my friends?

  49. Julie Anne wrote:

    So, in reference to the religious leader who, despite claiming to be engaged in “loving” acts and speech–gives a person the creeps; such a person needs to be asked about his/her behavior, and given a chance to understand that such behavior is not being perceived as loving.

    After that, there are really only a couple of ways it can go: the leader either receives the input or not. If he/she does, then there is the marvelous opportunity for change and growth, and increasingly effectiveness in ministry.

    If he/she does not receive the input, and even becomes adversarial towards the person who expressed the concern, then that person (who gave the input) needs to LEAVE, with family and friends in tow. “My sheep hear My voice,” said the Shepherd, and the principle is true for His under-shepherds–those whom God has led to be under his/her care will internally recognize the voice of their pastor as being the one they would like to follow and share their lives with.

    So, what I’m saying (in my usual, long way), is that if a person doesn’t hear a loving, caring, sacrificial voice in someone they are expected to “follow” or listen to for direction, counsel, etc, then they shouldn’t go through the motions of being a part of such leader’s group.

    Thanks, Julie Anne, this is good advice. I am able to take some of my personal friends and maybe some relatives. Now I have to track down friends who are happy with their current church and get a referral.

  50. I have been a born again Christian for 26 years and have attended several churches that promoted nouthetic counseling (including GCC). I initially was sucked in by its claim to be “biblical” but found myself very early on disagreeing with many assertions made by Jay Adams and others. For instance, I remember reading a pamphlet on depression that suggested that a main cause for depression is lack of discipline in the person’s life, and the reason for the high incidence of depression among the clergy and homemakers is that they are responsible for creating their own schedules, thus more propensity for lack of discipline. (My own personal opinion is that both “careers” involve intense personal demands by other people, the rewards of both can be intangible at time and frequently are only evident over the long haul, and one often doesn’t know if one is making a difference).

    This was a long time ago, and perhaps they have changed some of their ideas, but my impression of nouthetic counseling it makes the assumption that every problem stems from sin in your life. Your own personal sin. Some of the counselors can be almost “witch hunting” for sin.

    I know someone who is a fundamentalist and who you would expect to endorse nouthetic counseling, but doesn’t. They took a family member to a nouthetic counselor who insisted that the problem was some undiscovered sin in the person’s life. They disagreed and eventually concluded on their own that the person was just stressed from being overextended. They cut back on some activities and everything was fine. Just common sense. But how much trauma were they put through searching for some non-existent sin as the cause of their problem?

    How much more damage could they do to someone suffering from serious trauma or mental illness?

    I am a conservative Christian and believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. I am wholeheartedly for the use of Scripture in counseling and pointing people to the Lord for comfort and healing, and for guidance and direction and correction, but nouthetic counseling seems very myopic to me and not very compassionate. It seems like behavior modification gone wild with a Christian label & many verses thrown in. Almost overly simplistic really.

    For years I trusted anything offered by fellow Christians. Now I see that I have been very naive and overly trusting and try to be more discerning. I tend to be skeptical now of any author proposing that their particular take on an issue in the only right one or “God’s Way” or the only “biblical” position or method.

  51. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Nouthetic Counseling = SIN-SNIFFING with a coat of camo paint.

    Amen, brother.

    The Nouthetic approach is not counseling at all – it’s rebuking. (I believe Adams is quite open about this – hence the choice of the name, based on the greek word for “rebuke.”)

    I would personally like to see all Christians who receive legitimate treatment for mental health issues refer to such treatment as “therapy.” It seems that many nouthetics and anti-psychology folks like to use the term “counseling” as if it is more biblical. The problem is that “counsel” is best used to some sort of informal advice-giving (“My opinion is that you should . . . “), whereas “therapy” is certainly not advice – it is evidence-based healthcare treatment.

  52. @ Sue:

    Thanks so much for your testimony. The reason we are focusing on Nouthetic (Biblical) Counseling is to inform those who may be unsuspecting (like you were).

    It sounds so GOSPELRIFIC but I believe these words are necessary –  caveat emptor!

  53. Julie Anne wrote:

    After that, there are really only a couple of ways it can go: the leader either receives the input or not. If he/she does, then there is the marvelous opportunity for change and growth, and increasingly effectiveness in ministry.

    I hate to disagree with this but what I saw over and over is the leader(s) would be very gracious about the input and then behind the scenes marginalize that person without them realizing it for a long time. Planting subtle seeds of poison. Very rarely do you find leaders who are honest enough to respond either way, overtly. Covert is usually how this plays out with the unsuspecting. That is why private meetings on such things usually go against the person who is bringing the issue up. It protects the leader and gives them the opportunity to plant those seeds of poison and protect their image in case that person talks to others.

    Remember, you are dealing with their livelihood. Their professional careers.

  54. Janey wrote:

    Oh, one more piece of information to help you with your answer to my post about leaving my church…
    I’m a bit of a celebrity. My church gets extra credibility because I’m there. That’s probably why those lay leaders don’t attack me directly.
    It sounds as though I should resign my membership officially. If so, how do I answer questions from the leaders? From my friends?

    You have to weigh the cost. If you leave without saying anything you might be asked by friends who start noticing and they contact you and can say you just simply disagree with the direction of the church and will miss the relationships. Some might agree with you and as we all konw, most folks won’t say anything themselves. Even those who agree with you usually will stay for a while. But your leaving might eventually encourage them to do the same. Thing is, don’t look back or even care if they do or don’t. That will do a number on your mind you don’t need as you move forward. Everyone has to come to their own conclusions and I keep reminding myself that one day I stand ALONE before God. You might have to stand alone here and now. You really learn a lot about people you thought you knew when something like this happens.

    If you tell the leaders, from my understanding of McArthurites, they won’t let that one go and will argue you under the table no matter what you point out you disagree with. They are never wrong. You could be even more of a threat because of your influence. I would recommend not going there. It is a no win situation. NEVER meet with them alone. And it is best not to meet with them at all. That is what they want to happen.

    If I had a do-over I would simply leave and as folks asked me I would give them some things I saw that greatly concerned me that I could no longer hide. I would keep it irenic and let them know I do not judge them for staying. The problem was mine was not doctrinal but pure evil at the top that was hidden from the pew sitters. And not just one evil person but a systemic bait and switch situation on those giving money. it is still that way.

    The really horrible part is that you are in a tricky situation and you should not be! It should be the Body of Christ! The folks in that movement are really doing their “gentiles lording it over” number on churches all over

  55. Anon 1 wrote:

    Julie Anne wrote:
    After that, there are really only a couple of ways it can go: the leader either receives the input or not. If he/she does, then there is the marvelous opportunity for change and growth, and increasingly effectiveness in ministry.
    I hate to disagree with this but what I saw over and over is the leader(s) would be very gracious about the input and then behind the scenes marginalize that person without them realizing it for a long time.

    Yes, that definitely does happen, Anon1. Some spiritual abusers are masters at manipulation. But I think Ken is still right on the $$, because he’s essentially saying it’s either: yes or no. Even if the leader deceptively shows grace, the truth is still a NO. It is imperative to discern when watching the response – is it a true yes or a true no response.

  56. Anon 1 wrote:

    I hate to disagree with this but what I saw over and over is the leader(s) would be very gracious about the input and then behind the scenes marginalize that person without them realizing it for a long time. Planting subtle seeds of poison.

    Have you been reading my mail? One of these days I will discuss my last 2 weeks. I almost gave it all up to become a woman of leisure then…just couldn’t get there. :)

  57. Anon 1 wrote:

    But here is something HUGE that Page is ignoring…acting as if it is not real. He is ignoring Mohler’s protection and promotion of CJ Mahaney. He is ignoring the lawsuit. He is ignoring the victims……AGAIN and acting as if Mohler has moral graviitas which he does not.

    “ONE OF US! ONE OF US!
    GOOBLE! GOBBLE! ONE OF US!”
    — Todd Browning, Freaks

    These guys never connect dots. They live in silos. They will convince you that one has NOTHING to do with the other because they are good at doing that. Been doing it for many years.

    Is that anything like Reichsminister Speer “arranging his mind” to see nothing wrong with the Nazi regime that had him rising on a fast track?

  58. dee wrote:

    Anon 1 wrote:
    … what I saw over and over is the leader(s) would be very gracious about the input and then behind the scenes marginalize that person without them realizing it for a long time. Planting subtle seeds of poison.
    Have you been reading my mail? …

    This is exactly what I saw happen over and over again. It was so insidious, so manipulative, so underhanded, so sly … and soooo effective! It happened to me. It took me forever to figure it out. It effectively makes me on edge, on the look out, distrusting even when the nice pastor/leader/person is smiling and seemingly understanding. I have to -in effect- have something along the lines of super natural help to not distrust someone in that position, now.

    I think God has been helping me with this and giving me better radar to find the ones I can trust, but I still think it’s sad to see this kind of subtle evil in action. One would prefer to be accosted or directly dissed in order to know what you are dealing with. It just shows the depth of deception that is being played.

  59. This is why I found it was futile and actually counter-productive to go the pastor or leader to try and get a straight from the horses mouth kind of answer; because the leader would say what you wanted to hear, even if it meant he lied through his teeth. It would pacify you and buy him time to figure out how to “handle” you, undermine you, remove you as a threat, and take your power/put a blight on your character/lower you in the eyes of others.

    Sad thing is it worked every time.

  60. If a leader would respond well, sincerely, then that is what Christianity is all about … reconciling relationships. But leaders who respond well, are not the leaders who abuse, because they receive correction.

  61. Thy Peace wrote:

    As far as sexual abuse within SBC, this is what Frank Page says and does …
    Frank Page comments about abuse survivors – on Stop Baptist Predators

    This is the same guy whose daughter killed herself (that was discussed in the original post here)?

    If so, I am still sorry for his loss.

    However, it’s very puzzling that someone could go through a suicide of a family member but then show so much contempt and callousness towards sexual abuse victims.

    As to the other posts I’ve read, I have a lot in common with them.

    I was never severely abused or anything like that but was bullied a lot as a kid, very lonely growing up, a social misfit, had a too-critical father, was diagnosed with depression at a young age, am mostly over the depression, but still have anxiety.

    I also experienced the death of a family member I was close to about 4 – 5 years ago, and that has taken a lot to get through, and I had to go it alone.

    Most Christians, I am sad to say, have no compassion for hurting people.

    They don’t understand mental health problems, and only want to hand pat answers or shame and blame to anyone who suffers from one, or from any type of problem.

    Most Christians I’ve come across also don’t know how to handle grieving people, either, and don’t even want to learn or try. They want you to suffer in silence, go it alone, keep it to yourself.

    I’m sorry to be a broken record about this, but one of the best books I’ve seen about depression (and related) is “Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded?” by Carlson, and it helped me a little bit, so maybe it will help someone else.

    In that Carlson book, he quotes a guy who goes to MacArthur’s church but doesn’t tell anyone there he sees a psychiatrist and takes medication for psychological problems because of the ignorance and prejudice against people who have mental health problems and the treatment there-of.

    I also hate to be a broken record about this, but as I said before, no matter how dandy AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) members think AA is, there is a lot of testimony by former AA members who mention AA (and other 12 step groups) have some of the same sort of problems we’ve talked about with “biblical counseling” and Nouthetic counseling.

    AA doesn’t claim to be Christian per se, but they are sort of founded on supposed Christian values and encourage members to embrace a “higher power.”

    (My brother got wrapped up in AA for years and developed some weird views, which is what led me to research AA a little bit.)

  62. Katie wrote:

    . It took me forever to figure it out. It effectively makes me on edge, on the look out, distrusting even when the nice pastor/leader/person is smiling and seemingly understanding

    Katie, Don’t get me started on the obligatory smiling evangelicalism. It is mandatory. It got to the point that was a red flag. Like stepford church. Now, I just want real whether smiling or not.

  63. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Is that anything like Reichsminister Speer “arranging his mind” to see nothing wrong with the Nazi regime that had him rising on a fast track?

    HUG, Do you know how many times Driscoll stuff was excused by Reformed people “because he preaches the Gospel”. Translation: He was Reformed and that is all that matters. Party first, comrade.

  64. dee wrote:

    Have you been reading my mail? One of these days I will discuss my last 2 weeks. I almost gave it all up to become a woman of leisure then…just couldn’t get there.

    Don’t have to. Have read the playbook. :o)

    Don’t you dare “give it all up”!

  65. Anon 1 wrote:

    You have to weigh the cost. If you leave without saying anything you might be asked by friends who start noticing and they contact you and can say you just simply disagree with the direction of the church and will miss the relationships. Some might agree with you and as we all konw, most folks won’t say anything themselves. Even those who agree with you usually will stay for a while. But your leaving might eventually encourage them to do the same. Thing is, don’t look back or even care if they do or don’t. That will do a number on your mind you don’t need as you move forward. Everyone has to come to their own conclusions and I keep reminding myself that one day I stand ALONE before God. You might have to stand alone here and now. You really learn a lot about people you thought you knew when something like this happens.

    If you tell the leaders, from my understanding of McArthurites, they won’t let that one go and will argue you under the table no matter what you point out you disagree with. They are never wrong. You could be even more of a threat because of your influence. I would recommend not going there. It is a no win situation. NEVER meet with them alone. And it is best not to meet with them at all. That is what they want to happen.

    If I had a do-over I would simply leave and as folks asked me I would give them some things I saw that greatly concerned me that I could no longer hide. I would keep it irenic and let them know I do not judge them for staying. The problem was mine was not doctrinal but pure evil at the top that was hidden from the pew sitters. And not just one evil person but a systemic bait and switch situation on those giving money. it is still that way.

    The really horrible part is that you are in a tricky situation and you should not be! It should be the Body of Christ! The folks in that movement are really doing their “gentiles lording it over” number on churches all over

    Thanks for the super advice, Anon 1 and Dee and everyone else,
    You won’t believe what just happened. I started calling friends who used to attend my church to find out where they are now. They all said exactly the same church–and it’s closer to my home. I looked at their website and was swept with waves of relief. I’m never going back to Evil Church again! It’s the ultimate Mother’s Day gift!

  66. @ dee:

    Dee

    I’m sorry you’ve had it rough. I had a feeling something was up. As removed as I am from the epicenter of TWW.

  67. Janey, what a blessing.

    I am of the opinion that blogging is the best “confrontation” venue there is out there. There is nothing wrong with writing about your personal experiences. Your audience is not the leaders but the followers. No followers=no money=no one to lord it over and control. :o)

  68. Janey wrote:

    They all said exactly the same church–and it’s closer to my home. I looked at their website and was swept with waves of relief. I’m never going back to Evil Church again! It’s the ultimate Mother’s Day gift!

    Wow!! How wonderful. I’m very happy for you!

  69. Janey,

    I have tremendous respect for Anon 1’s opinions, and I would encourage you to follow that advice.

    Please know that I’m praying for you.

  70. Deb wrote:

    I have tremendous respect for Anon 1′s opinions, and I would encourage you to follow that advice.

    Please know that I’m praying for you.

    Deb, thank you for the prayers. I will take Anon’s advice and just quietly disappear. I still have a few weeknight ministry things to finish and I’ll tell close friends. But I’ll never attend another Sunday service. I’m sure I can take some people with me, in fact a couple from the church is coming with me this Sunday.

  71. Anon 1 wrote:

    HUG, Do you know how many times Driscoll stuff was excused by Reformed people “because he preaches the Gospel”. Translation: He was Reformed and that is all that matters. Party first, comrade.

    When the only difference between Christians and Communists is which Party Line gets recited, something is seriously wrong.

  72. Anon 1 wrote:

    Katie, Don’t get me started on the obligatory smiling evangelicalism. It is mandatory. It got to the point that was a red flag. Like stepford church. Now, I just want real whether smiling or not.

    Many years ago, Internet Monk had a posting on “ARE WE SMIIIIIIILING TODAY?” He had about the same reaction to it as you.

    And last time I was in a grocery store, I was going through the magazine rack and flipped through the current issue of Psychology Today. One of the articles was on the Cult of SMIIIIIIIIIILING you see today (and how it is a very recent invention mostly limited to North America). One of the illustrations — a posed picture of a corpse in a casket with a wide toothy Happy Clappy SMIIIIIIIIIIILE — was just DISTURBING.

  73. “Yet with all the resources available for pastors, too often I hear of pastors who sub-let this task. They refer congregants not to the Word, but to outside “professionals.” In so doing, pastors relegate soul care to those outside the church, and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders. The result is that some within the church lose confidence in either the sufficiency of scripture, or in the pastor’s knowledge of the Bible.”

    My pastor preached almost this exact thing while I was the worship leader at the church and my (then) wife was in a mental institution. I felt pretty shamed at the time.

  74. @ HUG:

    “One of the articles was on the Cult of SMIIIIIIIIIILING you see today (and how it is a very recent invention mostly limited to North America).”

    I read an article once by a photographer talking about how people smiling in portraits is very recent. His argument was basically that, traditionally, you would not smile in a portrait because it was perceived as more honest, while smiling meant you had something to hide. It’s only today that we perceive not smiling as “dour.”

  75. @ Jeff S:

    I can understand how that made you feel. I’m sorry for the pain it caused you and causes so many people these days. I wish Christianity wasn’t being set up as some kind of anti-culture, anti-secular world alternative. There is much Godly common wisdom and grace that is prevalent in society. It is a shame that many Christian leaders want to set up an alternative society and shun the common good that God has provided. I’m amazed at how selectively they use that common good/grace/wisdom.

  76. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    “Psychology Today… the Cult of SMIIIIIIIIIILING … a very recent invention mostly limited to North America).”
    **************

    I misread and thought you said a very recent “invasion”. I thought, yeah, that fits. Kind of like Hedera Helix (english ivy) crawling up and winding around the majestic & dignified coastal redwoods.

  77. I’m a little uncomfortable with the no so subtle attitude of some commenters that Frank Page had it coming to him because of previous remarks.

    Man, yo kids kills herself? It doesn’t get any worse than that.

    Mr. Page my brother, hang in there. It’s not gonna pass but someday it’ll hurt a little less.

  78. @ Alonzo “Zo” Thomas:

    Hi, Alonzo “Zo” Thomas,

    if that is indeed what some commenters think, then that is bad. haven’t read everything here, but i suspect it’s more surprise than anything else, at the irony of what comes across as hard-hearted insensitivity toward personal tragedy (coming from a person of influence) combined with the experience of extreme personal tragedy concerning that same person of influence.

    many who comment here have experienced life-altering crimes against their body and mind (rape, abuse, molestation), with the further wounding of christian leaders calling them opportunists or culpable or ignoring them altogether.

    Please take that into consideration.

  79. I’ll be blunt: I don’t consider pastors to be experts on mental health, and I won’t go to a pastor for mental health counseling. My observation has been that more than a few conservative-type pastors think they know it all and refuse to acknowledge the years of training that go into becoming a psychiatrist.

    I’d be dead now if I hadn’t gone to a psychiatrist. (Actually, dragged to an emergency room by a friend, who stood over me until I checked myself into a psych ward.) Medication saved my life. It gives me the space to deal with my other issues. I don’t have to worry that some seemingly insignificant thing is going to send me over the edge.

    And, to conclude with something snarky: Some of these “pastors” are no better than Scientologists. :(

  80. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Many years ago, Internet Monk had a posting on “ARE WE SMIIIIIIILING TODAY?” He had about the same reaction to it as you.

    Hug, I am going to have to search that one out. This is a big thing with me after years of living in that fake world. Someone, I cannot remember who, but I think it was Cindy Kunsman coined a term for it: Totalitarian Niceness.

    I got to the point, I liked the mean people because I knew where they stood and they were at least honest. I will take that any day over the fake deceptive niceness. Being stabbed in the back by a person who is all the while smiling at you and pretending to really care about your well being when working against it all the time.

    Love bombing is a cult tactic. But even the whole idea of Christians are always joyful is totally misunderstood and practiced more as fake niceness so they can manipulate you. This was SOP in the mega industrial complex. Stepford church.

  81. elastigirl wrote:

    many who comment here have experienced life-altering crimes against their body and mind (rape, abuse, molestation), with the further wounding of christian leaders calling them opportunists or culpable or ignoring them altogether.
    Please take that into consideration.

    Alonzo, what elastigirl said above. Some of us know the history of those who were called opportunists by the then leader of the SBC. It was not only totally unfair but meant to marginalize them and what they endured at the hand of “Christian leaders”. Those they should have been able to trust molested them and then the victims were blamed for it while the ministers went on to other churches and molested others. We will have a lot to answer for someday for refusing to attempt to protect the least of these.

  82. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Since having depression from a very young age, I naturally went around quite “frowny looking,” as facial expressions go. I’m also an introvert, not given to being bubbly, happy, smiley looking.

    I’ve never been the smiley type. (Which is not to say I never smile, but it’s not my default.)

    Since childhood (and as a teen and adult) I’ve had complete strangers come up to me and tell me to “smile!” Which only made me frown more, like this: Picture

    Of course, I’ve also had friends and family get on my case about this too. I had one boss sort of chide me about it in private, that I “never looked happy.” I felt she was indirectly pressuring me to walk around smiley happy around the office.

    Preacher John Hagee of San Antonio, Texas (I used to watch his show a lot but find him so annoying I don’t any more), would, every so often, tell people in his sermons not to be so frowny and downcast looking.

    Basically (Hagee reasoned) looking anything less than totally smiley-joyful makes Christianity look bad to the un-saved. I don’t remember the Bible saying that evangelization depends on a bubbly demeanor.

    He would tell his congregation he’s tired of seeing Christians who look like bull dogs (i.e., unhappy) or like they are sucking on lemons all the time.

    Pressuring people (especially ones with depression or undergoing some crisis) to look happy produces the opposite result, it makes the person even more unhappy.

    The few number of times I had friends say over my life,
    “You know what, even though you are sad most of the time, you have some great qualities, and I like you just the way you are!!,” made me produce a smile. :)

  83. @ Jeff S:

    The cold, hard reality is that prayer alone and Bible reading alone rarely works for Christians who have depression, or any other type of mental disorder.

    I say “rarely” because maybe God has supernaturally delivered some Christians from mental health disorders, but He sure as heck didn’t do it for me, and based on the countless others I’ve come across over the years, God is not doing it for them, either.

    When you are the one who is deeply suffering, even if you respect the Bible a lot and try being spiritual about being delivered (by prayer, Bible reading, etc), but year after year goes by, and your healing doesn’t happen…

    Your pain gets so deep, you no longer care if seeing a secular therapist or taking medications is not “biblical,” you just want, and need, relief from the depression, especially if you’ve had depression (or whatever malady) for ten, twenty, or more years.

    And, ‘pfffttt’ give me a break, to the “pastors” who say the ‘suffering is for your own good’, or ‘God is trying to toughen you up’ or whatever – and it’s almost always spoken by some buffoon who has never had depression himself.

    If you’re the victim, your tune will change in a hurry.

    The kind of suffering I had (depression + anxiety + codependency) kept me from leaving home much, or dealing with people. I could not serve God / serve other people in that condition.

  84. @ Hester:

    I have read that way, way back in the day (the 1800s), you could not smile for a photo session, as it took the camera minutes to record an image, and people found it easier to maintain a neutral or grumpy expression than to hold a smile for two or five minutes (or however long exposure time took).

  85. @ Alonzo “Zo” Thomas:

    I specifically said in my post that he still has my condolences, but that I find it odd that someone who undergoes something of that nature (suicide of family) can demonstrate little compassion for victims of other types of misfortune.

  86. @ Southwestern Discomfort:

    I agree with your post. The feeling I get from some of the staunchly anti- therapy and anti medication pastors is that they would rather a Christian die (from suicide) than turn to secular help or even use Christian psychiatry or psychology, or use medication and get help or relief.

    They would prefer suicide or lifelong incapacity (e.g., a Christian laying in bed in a dark room day after day from depression) than that person turn to a real, qualified doctor for help.

    I suspect preachers who are opposed to therapy or medications are afraid to admit to themselves and others that Bible reading, church service, or prayer alone are usually not a catalyst for healing, because they have misunderstood “Christ is sufficient to meet all your needs” type Bible passages as meaning, if Christ alone doesn’t work for someone with mental illness, Christ is not real, or the Bible isn’t true.

    I suspect in their thinking, it has to be if the person is not healed from turning to Christ alone, that the fault is within the sick person, it sure can’t be Christ that is at fault or lack, because “Christ is sufficient” and 2 Tim 3:16, etc.

    I believe those fears are probably at the heart of “biblical counseling” and “nouthetic counseling.”

  87. @ dee:
    Oh, Dee! I hate to think of you being marginalized (again) for offering support to victims of spiritual abuse. Is there any place left to go? Well, I’m so grateful that you, Deb, and the other commenters are here! TWW has helped me to work through so much.

  88. I am realizing more and more how very, very blessed my family was to find a Christian (clinical) counselor who referred us to a Christian psychiatrist who prescribed appropriate medication, back when my child was first diagnosed with depression/OCD/GAD. And, we were members of a SBC church where the pastor’s family (himself, his wife, extended family) had dealt with clinical depression. Our pastor’s wife told me, “if these medicines had been available years ago, I might have had a normal childhood.”
    I say this both out of renewed gratitude for God’s goodness to my family, and to let you know that there are churches and pastors out there who “get it.”

  89. @ BeenThereDoneThat:
    Its actually OK. My skin is getting so thick that I am becoming a veritable dinosaur!

    Sometimes, conflict, such as over this blog, is clarifying. I will talk about this in the near future after we have dealt with this. One thing has been confirmed, Calvinistas can be a problem. Some think that their position in one of their churches means they can go after you even if your are not in their church.

    I am so glad we have helped you. That is what makes this background baloney worth it.

  90. BeenThereDoneThat,

    The unfortunate circumstance that recently happened in Dee’s life has only strengthened our resolve.

    I know I speak for her when I boldly proclaim that we are RESOLVED to continue the mission we believe Almighty God has given us. Your humble blog queens here at TWW are more determined than ever!

  91. @ Katie:

    Wow, you know, when we went to those meetings before leaving the church, my former pastor never said a word. I tried several times to reconcile our differences, but he wouldn’t even come to my father’s funeral. What you said about the pastor being the leader about attitudes is spot-on, and having time to build your defenses, how true.

    I have a problem now though, one of the congregants still comes over for beers every week, and he quizzes me about what I’m reading. I have described our issues to him in detail, but he is stuck on thinking that I am somehow at fault for not forgiving him. He is a leader, and in my opinion, anyone who steps up to the microphone bett be ready to take criticism and show that he has understanding about taking correction. He gave me a book from Stuart Olyott (a TGC boy) and asked me to review it. The first thing I did was look up his name and find out who he was. I did read some of the chapters and worsted a pretty “scandalous” review about Hebrews 13. I haven’t heard from him. I also gave him The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, he refused to read the whole thing. I’m still waiting to receive my copy of A Cry For Justice, I will be angry if he refuses to read it, since that church is reformed Baptist. I also sent some other reading material from Pastor Crippen and Margaret Mowzcko. I dread seeing him tomorrow, feeling like I have to refuse him for his treatment like I am a heathen.

    I wonder what they are saying about the three kidnapped girls and Elzabeth Smart. The church I think is really bad for women and children. They had at one time a nursery school, and there was a molester there, and our neighbor left because of they refused to deal with it. If I had known, I probably would never have joined. That was a few years before we went there, and the church got really small. The pastor who’s there now could have take a page from that Founders.org, changing the flavor of the church to authoritarian very slowly. I recall the noose being tightened over the years. Luckily I got out before my spirit was completely choked off.

    This week we declined membership in our current church because of this phrase in the bylaws:
    15. Family relationships- We believe that God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. We believe that men and women re spiritually equal in position before God but that God has ordained distinct and separate spiritual functions for mean and women int the home and the church. Men are to be the leaders in the home and church and accordingly only eligible for licensure and ordination by the church.

    This guy is much more open to change, but in good conscience I cannot fully support anyone with this position. I know of no one in real life that agrees with me. We will participate in most ways, but does it make a difference to anyone if I make this stand on principle? We have been putting money in the basket, and we donated to the building fund, because they are installing handicapped elevators. Comments?

  92. dee wrote:

    Sometimes, conflict, such as over this blog, is clarifying. I will talk about this in the near future after we have dealt with this. One thing has been confirmed, Calvinistas can be a problem. Some think that their position in one of their churches means they can go after you even if your are not in their church.

    Just be glad they have no control over your family’s ability to earn a living.

  93. Anon 1 wrote:

    The problem was mine was not doctrinal but pure evil at the top that was hidden from the pew sitters. And not just one evil person but a systemic bait and switch situation on those giving money. it is still that way.

    Anon 1, yes I believe you. Our church had “open books,” but there were 5-figure expenses that were “off-budget.” Go figure. I know another executive who walked away from church after seeing the inner workings. And yes, the pew sitters have no idea. They are so trusting.

  94. @ dee:

    I’m so sorry! You must be doing something that is getting under their skin, which only means they are in fear about it. We’d best keep them from running every church or we could end up with them trying to run the country. We’d all be in stocks if they had their way.

    You have created much curiosity about the past few weeks. ;)

  95. @ VelvetVoice:

    VelvetVoice,

    It seems to me that not signing on the dotted line as an official member is the honest thing for you to do. One’s signature means “I agree”. Or, “I’m willing”.

    My husband just joined our church — I declined. In the final analysis, it makes no difference whatsoever. We both participate, help out, and are investing in healthy friendships. I think the staff is a little bewildered by my decision, but so what.

  96. Janey wrote:

    Anon 1,

    BTW, I think you are right: it is best to simply avoid confronting leadership when we leave a church. Look at this control-freak article. This is what I expect from Jehovah’s Witnesses but not from Christians.

    http://www.9marks.org/blog/churches-cooperating-discipline

    Right Janey. This is the DEVER church that embraced Mahaney when he ran away from CLC and his OWN discipline SGM policies for pastors.

    So, the rules only apply to pew sitters as they make allowances for their peers in ministry. They have a caste system Christianity.

    So, disagreeing with your McArthurite pastor would not get you a pass for daring to leave your former church. Look, these guys are dying to go back to the days of the magistrates so they stretch everything they can for control over people. More and more the SBC is starting to emulate SGM’s shepherding cult. Dever and Mohler adore that system.

  97. @ elastigirl:

    I think the women will be shocked about this on Sunday when they are doing a baptism and membership ceremony. At our last church I joined in 2000, Ed joined in 2004, and that’s when the trouble started. Ed is thankful that we will join or not together. I am going to take him through the pertinent scriptures and explain my point of view. Today we went to a family gathering at a church, and they have a woman pastor. Ed leaned over to his cousin and asked her opinion on women pastors, and immediately said “OH NO, it says in the Bible”. Are these people even reading the entire Bible?

  98. @ elastigirl:

    Actually, I have a good performance voice, and I am a good teacher. I sing, can do harmonies, and I can be heard in a crowd without a microphone. Although, the reason I took this online name was because that is what I wanted to become. I can be very loud, and my approach can be very grating to some. I grew up being the youngest and smallest in a tough upbringing, so I am quite outspoken. I am used to being shut out and silenced, and not because of my views. I also like the fact that the name can be shortened online, VV. and in italian I am called Vocellina. Isn’t that nice?

  99. VelvetVoice wrote:

    15. Family relationships-
    We believe that God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society.
    We believe that men and women are spiritually equal in position before God but that God has ordained distinct and separate spiritual functions for men and women in the home and the church.
    Men are to be the leaders in the home and church and accordingly only eligible for licensure and ordination by the church.

    Yikes. That totally flies in the face of biblical teaching, and leaves no place for widows, divorced, or the never married.

    Jesus said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10;37)

    Matthew 12:46-50

    While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

    48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

  100. @ Dave A A: Recently, I have been vaguely threatened by this same thing. However, i follow my own advice @ Janey: They will pursue you if you try to join another church. The phrase is “join.” They can’t get you if your merely attend. No join=no authority.

  101. @ dee:
    Did the Cap Hill pastor hear about you from someone when he wrote:
    “A wee-little sheep breaks through a fence and runs away. But unlike most parables, his shepherd doesn’t find him (Luke 15:1-7). This little sheep wanders to and fro, far away from home, and eventually stumbles upon another flock. From that moment on, another shepherd is given charge over his life. Imagine the first shepherd picking up his cell phone and saying to the new overseer, “Hey, friend. There are a few things you should know about this wee-little sheep…”

  102. That 9 Marks website is SCARY! Did God speak from heaven to bestow sweeping authority over me? I think not! No wonder so many people don’t want to belong to a church.

  103. Janey and Dave A A,

    Thank you thank you thank you for bringing those two 9 Marks posts to my attention. I can hardly wait to discuss them!

  104. @ VelvetVoice:
    Belonging to THE church is so much better! Thank God us wee-little sheepsses have a GOOD Shepherd, who, unlike the hirelings in the article anecdote, seeks and saves the lost. And who sometimes calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And who has approximately ONE flock, more or less, in a manner of speaking.

  105. @ Deb:

    From the 9Marks page:

    “1) In a membership interview, a woman admitted that she had been excommunicated from a church in another part of the country for non-attendance. She had stopped showing up”

    Skipping church is a crime now? Amazing.

  106. @ Dave A A:

    from the 9Marks article:

    “Because I want to make sure my counseling falls in line with how your elders want to exercise oversight over this marriage,” said the new pastor to the former pastor.
    ***********************

    i’m just floored by this level of control in people’s lives. i want to throw up all over them. WHEN did THIS become part of my religion????? A serious question.

    is there a historian in the house????

  107. @ Daisy:

    How 'bout this excerpt? http://www.9marks.org/blog/gospel-minded-churches-cooperating-pastoring

    "A single woman grows interested in a man she meets online. Guy meets girl on-line through a dating service. She doesn’t know if his story is legitimate or not, but she sure hopes so, because she desperately wants to be married. She’s vulnerable, and her pastor knows that. Online dating services provide an opportunity to create a persona which may or may not match up with the real world. The guy says he belongs to First Baptist in the neighboring town. Her pastor calls his fellow pastor in order to protect his sheep: is this guy the real deal or is he faking it?

    These are just a few of the many examples of informal, gospel-minded cooperation between churches. Shepherds talk to one another—as long as they have good cell-phone plans."

    Such caring shepherds… 

  108. Anon 1 wrote:

    Look, these guys are dying to go back to the days of the magistrates so they stretch everything they can for control over people. More and more the SBC is starting to emulate SGM’s shepherding cult. Dever and Mohler adore that system.

    Of course and the rules never apply to the shepherds. It’s a free-for-all for them.

  109. Julie Anne wrote:

    Of course and the rules never apply to the shepherds. It’s a free-for-all for them.

    Julie Anne, I had a friend who was a former Hare Krishna. He always said, “ISKCON is the perfect cult because it forbids everything to the followers that is freely enjoyed by Krishna and the leaders.”

  110. Janey,

    Ronald Enroth's book Churches that Abuse is a great resource. I discussed some of the book's important points in this older post: What Is Spiritual Abuse?

    Here is an excerpt from that post:

    "Ronald Enroth in Churches That Abuse identifies five categories of characteristics that describe Spiritual Abuse (listed in the Wiki article):

    1. Authority and Power - abusive groups misuse and distort the concept of spiritual authority. Abuse arises when leaders of a group arrogate to themselves power and authority that lacks the dynamics of open accountability and the capacity to question or challenge decisions made by leaders. The shift entails moving from general respect for an office bearer to one where members loyally submit without any right to dissent.

    2. Manipulation and Control - abusive groups are characterized by social dynamics where fear, guilt, and threats are routinely used to produce unquestioning obedience, group conformity, and stringent tests of loyalty to the leaders are demonstrated before the group. Biblical concepts of the leader-disciple relationship tend to develop into a hierarchy where the leader's decisions control and usurp the disciple's right or capacity to make choices on spiritual matters or even in daily routines of what form of employment, form of diet and clothing are permitted.

    3. Elitism and Persecution - abusive groups depict themselves as unique and have a strong organizational tendency to be separate from other bodies and institutions. The social dynamism of the group involves being independent or separate, with diminishing possibilities for internal correction and reflection. Outside criticism and evaluation is dismissed as the disruptive efforts of evil people seeking to hinder or thwart.

    4. Life-style and Experience – abusive groups foster rigidity in behavior and in belief that requires unswerving conformity to the group's ideals and social mores.

    5. Dissent and Discipline – abusive groups tend to suppress any kind of internal challenges and dissent concerning decisions made by leaders. Acts of discipline may involve emotional and physical humiliation, physical violence or deprivation, acute and intense acts of punishment for dissent and disobedience."

     

  111. @ Deb:

    That is a little creepy and heavy handed.

    Most churches take zippo interest in singles at all, so I don’t know what bee got under their bonnet that pastors of those churches want to play the “dad carrying the shot gun who interviews all men who are a courtin’ his daughter” role.

    If I had severe doubts about a “Don Juan” I met online who claims to go to XYZ church, I could maybe see that, but otherwise, no.

    They’re being way too controlling and treating the single woman as though she is five years old. (I’m not a church goer myself. Don’t ever know if I’ll attend again.)

    As for this quote from their page:

    “because she desperately wants to be married. She’s vulnerable”

    As much as I despite the oldy chestnut “be content in your singleness,” I also wouldn’t appreciate someone classifying me as “desperate.”

    By the time you get to your late 30s, and marriage still hasn’t happened, you mourn for what never was, then learn to let it go. You have occasions where you may feel sad about never having married, but you don’t sit around all “desperate.”

  112. @ Janey:

    I highly recommend a post that I put together several years ago: Nine Marks of an Abusive Church

    Catchy title, eh?

    Here are the 9 marks that I got out of Ronald Enroth's book:

    (1) Control-oriented style of leadership

    (2) Spiritual elitism

    (3) Manipulation of members

    (4) Perceived persecution

    (5) Lifestyle rigidity

    (6) Suppression of dissent

    (7) Harsh discipline of members

    (8) Denunciation of other churches

    (9) Painful exit process

    Enroth really knows his stuff!

  113. Daisy wrote:

    Most churches take zippo interest in singles at all,

    Daisy, so true. The church cannot figure out what to do with anyone between 30 and 60 who isn’t married. The control-freak churches cannot let you be part of the in-crowd because you don’t conform. (You must be too selfish, desperate, or something is wrong with you.)

    I strongly recommend the books by Bella DePaula. Her data are incredible; she is a Harvard Ph.D. who has researched life-long singleness and says the media has completely misrepresented singles. Life-long singles are incredibly happy. Studies that say otherwise are due to the fact that the divorcees and widows who are included drag the stats down.

    Start here (and if you like this, you’ll love her book “Singled Out.”

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201305/are-single-people-more-resilient-everyone-else

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bella-depaulo/single-married_b_1215347.html

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201304/are-married-people-less-likely-kill-themselves

  114. When was that 9 Marks church list made? Northfield Congregational Church, the pastor is only about two years there. He used to go to my former church, and he encouraged me to find a new church when I described my circumstances. He also had problems with my former pastor about doctrinal issues. It was nev talked about, but just about everyone who left must have had these doctrinal issues. The only ones left are the pastor’s kids and the old timers.

  115. From the 9Marks article from the list of examples….

    A husband and wife separate. A husband and his wife are in a difficult marriage, and things are not going well. For whatever reason, one spouse separates, which often means physically moving out of the home. He or she starts going to another church, maybe in a different city or even a different state. You can choose to deal with just the one spouse in your congregation, or you can extend a hand to the other spouse, inviting them to re-engage in the marriage. His or her new pastor wants to help, and his newness to the issues makes him a little green. Both pastors talk in order to make sure they are on the same page about how to handle the marriage and move it toward reconciliation.

    Wow. Just wow. If I was one of the parties involved in the separation, this is the absolute last thing I would want – my pastor and my ex’s pastor conspiring to get us back together. Ugh. Yuk. Creepy. I would walk away in disgust.

  116. @ Janey:

    I did what you suggested, and I could have easily guessed certain churches in our area that identify with 9Marks.  

    There are 29 churches within a 20 mile radius of my zip code.  Both Sovereign Grace churches in our area are on the list.

    Let's just say it is a helpful map indeed

  117. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    From the 9Marks article from the list of examples….
    A husband and wife separate. A husband and his wife are in a difficult marriage, and things are not going well. For whatever reason, one spouse separates, which often means physically moving out of the home. He or she starts going to another church, maybe in a different city or even a different state. You can choose to deal with just the one spouse in your congregation, or you can extend a hand to the other spouse, inviting them to re-engage in the marriage. His or her new pastor wants to help, and his newness to the issues makes him a little green. Both pastors talk in order to make sure they are on the same page about how to handle the marriage and move it toward reconciliation.
    Wow. Just wow. If I was one of the parties involved in the separation, this is the absolute last thing I would want – my pastor and my ex’s pastor conspiring to get us back together. Ugh. Yuk. Creepy. I would walk away in disgust.

    Resentment city.

    This stuff is incredibly awful.

  118. Now I really feel sick.

    A pastor from one of the churches on that list came to preach at our church when we were between pastors. And oh, by the way, that is the Master’s grad I mentioned with the perfectly polished family some threads back.

  119. Daisy wrote:

    As much as I despite the oldy chestnut “be content in your singleness,”

    How about “Don’t Waste Your Singleness”? :D

  120. @ Deb:
    There’s one in comfortable walking distance from here. Maybe I’ll visit…. Oh wait… I was already a member for several years!

  121. These organizations are reporting on the SGM churches and leaders —

    International Cultic Studies Association is tracking Sovereign Grace Ministries. For example:
    http://icsahome.com/idx_topics.asp?Subject=Sovereign+Grace+Ministries%2C+riven+by+conflict%2C+seeks+to+change)

    — Also Rick Ross’s “Cult Education Forum” also has a 19-page thread tracking SGM churches under their “Destructive Churches” category here: http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?14,113601,113795
    and an entire page here:
    http://www.rickross.com/groups/sgm.html

  122. Nicholas wrote:

    How about “Don’t Waste Your Singleness”?

    Ugh yes, that one has been becoming more and more common in the last couple years.

    It’s sort of a derivative of “be content in your singleness” cliche, because you know, it’s assumed you are pining for a mate constantly, which is wasting your time, when you should be handing out tracts in deep, dark jungles to pagans.

    FWIW, I think singles can feel however they want to feel about singleness: if you are sad or angry about being single, that is fine. I wouldn’t advise someone remain in the sadness/anger, but IMO it’s kind of mean to tell someone to just suck it up and get over the pain, if they are in pain over not having a spouse.

  123. Re: Mark Dever, here is a photo and an interview of Dever with fundamentalist pastor Jason Janz: http://sharperiron.org/2006/05/03/mark-dever-the-sharperiron-interview

    On the ABC 20/20 documentary about the IFB, Jocelyn Zichterman talked about having been sexually abused as a child by her father and brothers. Although they weren’t named in the documentary, Zichterman’s father is “pastor” Bart Janz, and one of her brothers was Jason Janz: http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/?p=6098

    If Jason Janz were truly repentant, he would get out of the ministry, as he is obviously not qualified.

  124. Yikes! there’s one practically next door to us (North Shore Bible Church in Essex MA). They’ve got a sign out advertising “Biblical counseling available.” @ Janey:

  125. “The guy says he belongs to First Baptist in the neighboring town. Her pastor calls his fellow pastor in order to protect his sheep: is this guy the real deal or is he faking it?”

    There’s only one thing we need to know to find out if this is yet more men-guard-women’s-hearts-for-them BS: does the pastor do the same thing for a single man in his congregation who has met a woman over the internet?

  126. Hester wrote:

    “The guy says he belongs to First Baptist in the neighboring town. Her pastor calls his fellow pastor in order to protect his sheep: is this guy the real deal or is he faking it?”
    There’s only one thing we need to know to find out if this is yet more men-guard-women’s-hearts-for-them BS: does the pastor do the same thing for a single man in his congregation who has met a woman over the internet?

    Good question!

  127. I don’t think we should overreact to the 9Marks church map. All churches have their faults; no pastor or congregation is perfect. I would imagine the vast majority are just fine, and are filled with passionate Christians who love the Lord and love their neighbors as themselves.

  128. Janey wrote:

    I don’t think we should overreact to the 9Marks church map. All churches have their faults; no pastor or congregation is perfect. I would imagine the vast majority are just fine, and are filled with passionate Christians who love the Lord and love their neighbors as themselves.

    Yes, but I believe those considering joining a 9Marks affiliated church should do their research beforehand.

  129. Deb wrote:

    Janey wrote:

    I don’t think we should overreact to the 9Marks church map. All churches have their faults; no pastor or congregation is perfect. I would imagine the vast majority are just fine, and are filled with passionate Christians who love the Lord and love their neighbors as themselves.

    Yes, but I believe those considering joining a 9Marks affiliated church should do their research beforehand.

    Deb, true. And 98% of churches in America are NOT 9 Marks Churches. We have plenty of choices. There are only 2750 9Marks churches and there are well over 200,000 churches in the U.S. So, fewer than 1.5% of churches in the U.S. want to be identified with this sort of heavy-handed leadership style. (These are also the majority of Nouthetic counseling churches.)

    What’s annoying is that these pastors act like such big shots, when in reality, in the church landscape, they are insignificant.

    It makes this article (link below) very humorous. There are far more sheep warning each other about 9Marks pastors, than 9Marks pastors warning each other about the sheep.
    http://www.9marks.org/blog/gospel-minded-churches-cooperating-pastoring

  130. I know two of the 9Marks churches within 20 miles of where I live quite well. Both are very small. Both have within the last 4 years have young SBTS pastors. I can promise you none of the Pew sitters have a clue they are 9Marks churches or what that means. I do know several people in those churches who are not happy with the direction or the pastor. As like many of these situations they have not put their finger on it. Quite frankly I was shocked to see both churches on the 9Marks map.

  131. Hey guys – I saw a couple of hits come through my site from this site and followed it back here. Thanks for linking. I’m not familiar with this discussion, but always glad to get hits from different places. I did notice, two comments up, the commenter said I was a “pastor there” and then linked my article. Just for clarity, I’m not a pastor anywhere and have no idea how/if I’m linked to a 9 Marks Church.

    I run a business/ministry which does do biblical counseling and the article referenced is mine. So thanks for posting. For more clarity, I was a former pastor at a SGM church, but left about five years ago and started my counseling practice. Take care, Rick

  132. Janey wrote:

    I don’t think we should overreact to the 9Marks church map. All churches have their faults; no pastor or congregation is perfect. I would imagine the vast majority are just fine, and are filled with passionate Christians who love the Lord and love their neighbors as themselves.

    Hey Janey, I have huge problems with the false dichotomy of “perfect church” vs wicked church concept. While we all already know there are no perfect churches, why not “pure in heart” churches? That is doable as our Lord makes clear.

    It would “mark” transparancy, openess, no lording it over but broken people striving to love one another.

    I am still shocked at the churches I found on the 9 Marks map. In fact, I have made a couple of calls already this morning to those involved in those small churches. So far, neither one has ever heard of 9 Marks. So, there was no vote or even an announcement they were made 9 Marks churches. So, far from “perfection” we see “deception” as standard operating procedure. One of these tiny churches was recently infused with about 50 new members when their long time church had been taken over by Calvinism. So, little did they know the back room stuff going on in their new church.

    So by saying, we are not perfect or we will never find a perfect church seems to totally dismiss what I have often seem as evil, deception, etc. This “no perfect church” mantra was used in the mega industrial complex ALL the time to excuse what I saw as the ruination of people who simply did not go along with ruining others. I hope you will keep that in mind in the future.

    Any believer knows perfection is not attainable. But openess, transparancy, truth and the “one anothers” are attainable.

  133. Thanks for responding, Rick. I live next door to the North Shore Bible Church, and found this page on their website. Sorry for mistakenly assuming you were the pastor. just so you know, there is concern among many Christians about the general direction of SGM and other movements associated with it, including the “nouthetic counseling” movement, which at times seems to discourage people from seeking psychiatric care when it is needed.
    I posted your article as an example of a refreshingly healthy take on how to deal with the survivors of abuse.
    @ Rick Thomas:

  134. Anon 1 wrote:

    I know two of the 9Marks churches within 20 miles of where I live quite well. Both are very small. Both have within the last 4 years have young SBTS pastors. I can promise you none of the Pew sitters have a clue they are 9Marks churches or what that means. I do know several people in those churches who are not happy with the direction or the pastor. As like many of these situations they have not put their finger on it. Quite frankly I was shocked to see both churches on the 9Marks map.

    Anon 1,

    There are several highly influential churches in our area that affiliate with 9Marks and are listed in their directory. I doubt the members know anything about it or have ever read some of the inflammatory posts over on the 9Marks website.

  135. No problem, Patricia. Mercifully, the LORD has placed us on a lot of websites as links and such. I’m grateful for this. Yes, I’m quite familiar with SGM since I was an inside guy once upon a time. I am also a Fellow with NANC to give you full disclosure.

    I understand, I think, the dilemma and/or tension you express. My hope for NANC is they will continue to evolve in their understanding and practice of counseling. Like all of us, we’re on an evolution or what we know as progressive sanctification. Jay (Adams) began the nouthetic movement in the late sixties with the launch of his book, Competent to Counsel.

    He was confronting some bad ideas and practices in our culture. I get that and appreciate his work. As with all things, there is a need to keep running our ideas and practices through the hermeneutical spiral in order to refine and redefine what we believe.

    I hope where the LORD has me will give influence to some redefinition into this 40 year old movement. However, it is not lost on me the problems.

    Some people can mis-assume the “guilty by association” mantra. This is one of the things I appreciated about your comment–you essentially said “all of us are not bad.” As an aside–NANC is an aside for me, not the main thing. The main thing is my business. I don’t typically run in anybody’s circle. I’ve created my own circle. I suppose that could sound arrogant. I don’t mean for it to be at all. The truth is I don’t have the time to swim in somebody else’s pond. – rick

  136. Deb, One of the members I talked with that has never heard of 9 Marks expressed frustration that their SBTS trained pastor spends more time going to conferences than minding his flock of about 60.

  137. @ Rick Thomas:
    Back on the topic of this post, what would you say are a couple of the best ways for family members to help mentally ill or suicidal loved ones?
    Those who’ve struggled with mental illness yourselves– anything especially helpful someone has done for you?
    Corallary– has “tough love” or something like it ever been helpful?

  138. @ Rick Thomas:

    Hi, Rick.

    Not arrogant at all. To me, it comes across as you thinking for yourself and standing on your own merits (as opposed to hanging on to the coattails of the person/people/entity du jour).

    I feel some pockets of christian culture more than others have attached the label “sin” to anything remotely self-confident, independent, & that which differs from groupthink.

  139. Rick Thomas wrote:

    Jay (Adams) began the nouthetic movement in the late sixties with the launch of his book, Competent to Counsel.
    He was confronting some bad ideas and practices in our culture.

    I wonder if he flipped as far in the opposite direction, in a Communism-begets-Objectivism reaction. It’s happened before, like Purity Culture as the one-eighty reaction to the Sexual Revolution.

  140. Anon 1 wrote:

    One of these tiny churches was recently infused with about 50 new members when their long time church had been taken over by Calvinism.

    That anything like the old political machine trick of busing in outsiders to vote in the coup?

  141. Daisy wrote:

    It’s sort of a derivative of “be content in your singleness” cliche, because you know, it’s assumed you are pining for a mate constantly, which is wasting your time, when you should be handing out tracts in deep, dark jungles to pagans.

    And being Martyred(TM) while doing so. Don’t forget that.

    All such advice being given to the single by Professional Christians who married at 18 and have been Focusing on their Families ever since.

  142. Janey wrote:

    98% of churches in America are NOT 9 Marks Churches. We have plenty of choices. There are only 2750 9Marks churches and there are well over 200,000 churches in the U.S. So, fewer than 1.5% of churches in the U.S. want to be identified with this sort of heavy-handed leadership style. (These are also the majority of Nouthetic counseling churches.)
    What’s annoying is that these pastors act like such big shots, when in reality, in the church landscape, they are insignificant.

    Sounds like 9Marks Pastors(TM) are very full of themselves and their own Importance.

  143. Dave A A wrote:

    Did the Cap Hill pastor hear about you from someone when he wrote:
    “A wee-little sheep breaks through a fence and runs away. But unlike most parables, his shepherd doesn’t find him (Luke 15:1-7). This little sheep wanders to and fro, far away from home, and eventually stumbles upon another flock. From that moment on, another shepherd is given charge over his life. Imagine the first shepherd picking up his cell phone and saying to the new overseer, “Hey, friend. There are a few things you should know about this wee-little sheep…”

    “…Break his legs, NOW.”

  144. Anon 1 wrote:

    Hug, I am going to have to search that one out. This is a big thing with me after years of living in that fake world. Someone, I cannot remember who, but I think it was Cindy Kunsman coined a term for it: Totalitarian Niceness.

    “Hell has no torment worse than Constant Forced Cheerfulness.”
    — G.K.Chesterton, “Three Tools of Death” (Father Brown Mystery short)

    P.S. I came from a family milieu were EVERYTHING was Always be Nicey-Nice. Camouflaged a LOT of passive-aggressive backstabbing.

  145. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Rick Thomas:
    Hi, Rick.
    Not arrogant at all. To me, it comes across as you thinking for yourself and standing on your own merits (as opposed to hanging on to the coattails of the person/people/entity du jour).
    I feel some pockets of christian culture more than others have attached the label “sin” to anything remotely self-confident, independent, & that which differs from groupthink.

    1 Thessalonians 5:14 is where I would begin: love, help, mercy, wisdom, and a lot of patience. You really have to crawl inside their head to see what they see before you cn help them. Understanding them is essential.

  146. Rick Thomas wrote:

    elastigirl wrote:
    @ Rick Thomas:

    I feel some pockets of christian culture more than others have attached the label “sin” to anything remotely self-confident, independent, & that which differs from groupthink.

    I would add that some in the “nouthetic/biblical” counseling camp tend to underplay the physiological components of psychological disorders. There is certainly a benefit to wise and sympathetic counseling, but I hate to think of people suffering from biochemical conditions being told the cause is sin or lack of discipline in their lives, and to stay away from psychiatry. I resist the idea that the Bible is an exhaustive reference book containing specific remedies for every possible result of living in a fallen creation.
    But Rick, you are a refreshing voice–thanks for responding here.

  147. Janey wrote:

    Daisy, so true. The church cannot figure out what to do with anyone between 30 and 60 who isn’t married. The control-freak churches cannot let you be part of the in-crowd because you don’t conform. (You must be too selfish, desperate, or something is wrong with you.)

    Yep. I see it too, quite frequently.

    The Bible confirms singles and singleness itself, along with marriage, so it beats me why so many churches or Christians disparage singles and the state of being single.

    Or, we’re ignored. Most often, married Christians and churches don’t even stop to consider singles past their 20s.

  148. Rick Thomas wrote:

    we’re on an evolution or what we know as progressive sanctification.

    Sanctification – the use of that term in conjunction to a discussion of counseling for mental health patients suggests that any issues they have (depression etc) may be due to their personal sin, which I don’t agree with at all.

  149. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    I agree with what you said.

    While I don’t exist in a state of constant “mope-i-ness” over being single as much as I did mid-30s and was still single, there are times when I’d still like to be married and do feel a little sad about not being married.

    If and when you feel that way, you will get the comments from married Christians that wanting marriage is idolatry (and this coming from the same “you must want to get married, singlenss = bad, not God’s plan for anyone” crowd), you should be content in your singleness, etc.

    I’ve seen Christians who are perfectly happy being single and don’t really want to get married, and they still get inundated with guilt messages by some married Christians, that it’s a Christian’s “duty” to marry and have a child, or, singles are told they are secretly selfish for enjoying singlehood, they are putting off marriage to focus on themselves, etc.

    You can’t win with the Christian body no matter what you do as a single:

    -If you want marriage but am coping okay with being single, you get platitudes and insults (and blame – ‘it’s your fault you are still single’).
    -If you hate being single and are dying to be married, you get platitudes and insults
    -If you don’t want marriage at all and are totally fine with singleness, you get platitudes and insults

    I wasn’t meaning to post here today, I dropped by to ask you, HUG, if you had heard of “Praise Ponies.” “Praise Ponies”.

    It’s a Christian knock off of MLP.

  150. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    .S. I came from a family milieu were EVERYTHING was Always be Nicey-Nice. Camouflaged a LOT of passive-aggressive backstabbing.

    Passive agressive backstabbing describes the mega industrial complex exactly. I often wonder how what passes for Christendom in America is ever going to find its way to “real”.

  151. @ Anon 1:

    Christianity itself, how it’s taught among most churches, fosters this behavior. It’s most often a symptom of codependency.

    This Christian author discusses it in a book for men, and in one for women. Here’s a link about his book for guys:
    No More Christian Nice Guy

    Unfortunately, a lot of American Christians assume, and many churches promote, the notion that being codependent (which is dysfunctional) is the same thing as being a good Christian.

  152. Rick Thomas wrote:

    My hope for NANC is they will continue to evolve in their understanding and practice of counseling. Like all of us, we’re on an evolution or what we know as progressive sanctification. Jay (Adams) began the nouthetic movement in the late sixties with the launch of his book, Competent to Counsel.

    He was confronting some bad ideas and practices in our culture. I get that and appreciate his work. As with all things, there is a need to keep running our ideas and practices through the hermeneutical spiral in order to refine and redefine what we believe.

    I hope where the LORD has me will give influence to some redefinition into this 40 year old movement. However, it is not lost on me the problems.

    Some people can mis-assume the “guilty by association” mantra. This is one of the things I appreciated about your comment–you essentially said “all of us are not bad.” As an aside–NANC is an aside for me, not the main thing. The main thing is my business. I don’t typically run in anybody’s circle. I’ve created my own circle. I suppose that could sound arrogant. I don’t mean for it to be at all. The truth is I don’t have the time to swim in somebody else’s pond. – rick

    Rick, please excuse my cynicism — it isn’t directed at you personally, but I’ve found that the new young Nouthetic pastoral counselors are very polished at sounding “winsome,” and using very pleasant sounding language about how Nouthetic counseling is changing away from the harsh Jay Adams approach. When speaking with critics, their stock line is: “We always encourage people to see a medical professional if the symptoms are serious.”

    There’s another line I’ve heard before: “I ‘hope that I can influence’ Nouthetic counseling,” but the truth is the Nouthetic counseling should be abandoned completely and replaced with a combination of best practices from medicine and psychology and spiritual mentoring, without rejecting any of them wholesale.

    And the truth is that those new young “winsome” Nouthetic counselors, continue to bash, deride, and mock psychotherapists and psychologists categorically when they aren’t face to face with non-Nouthetic critics. This is completely disingenuous and I no longer believe anyone who claims to be the kinder, gentler Nouthetic counselor.

    Blaming people for their own lack of emotional recovery is spiritual abuse.

  153. @ Anon 1:

    ” I often wonder how what passes for Christendom in America is ever going to find its way to “real”.”
    *************************

    …perhaps as the sprouts of thriving God/Jesus/Holy Spirit connection ex-institution organically reach some defined shape and size & enough critical mass to begin waving in the breeze amongst the plastic or silk variety.

  154. Another problem is that most Nouthetic counselors embrace Calvinism…esp in my neck of the woods. Therefore, Nouthetic counseling is really a cruel joke. Calvinism ST is that God has to force you to change. Man has no volition or input in the process at all. So if Nouthetic counseling does not work for that person then what would the trajectory be? Of course, they were never saved to begin with.

    So I find the whole exercise totally riduclous and quite dangerous to a person’s well being.

  155. Anon 1 wrote:

    I am still shocked at the churches I found on the 9 Marks map. In fact, I have made a couple of calls already this morning to those involved in those small churches. So far, neither one has ever heard of 9 Marks. So, there was no vote or even an announcement they were made 9 Marks churches. So, far from “perfection” we see “deception” as standard operating procedure. One of these tiny churches was recently infused with about 50 new members when their long time church had been taken over by Calvinism. So, little did they know the back room stuff going on in their new church.

    Thank you for your report on the phone calls. What you found is shocking. We need to keep spreading the word about the 9Marks list and the kind of Big Brother tactics being recommended by their leaders.

    I’m re-linking to this control-freak leadership post as an example: http://www.9marks.org/blog/gospel-minded-churches-cooperating-pastoring

  156. Anon 1 wrote:

    Calvinism ST is that God has to force you to change. Man has no volition or input in the process at all.

    That’s interesting, because I’ve seen in some nouthetic literature online, or in criticisms of their view by non- nouthetics, that they still hold the patient responsible if he/she does not make progression in treatment.

    I’m not sure if that’s true of the Calvinist Nouthetics or not, but if it is, that appears to be a contradiction with their theology.

    Doesn’t Calvinism teach God is wholly sovereign, people cannot resist His calling / will? But I have seen some nouthetics frame the discussion in such a way that if the patient is not recovering, it’s because the patient is slacking off, still maintaining personal sin (which prevents God from healing them), or they are not cooperating with God in some other fashion, or some other ‘blame the patient’ slant is used.

  157. “I’m not sure if that’s true of the Calvinist Nouthetics or not, but if it is, that appears to be a contradiction with their theology.”

    That was my point. They can do nothing anyway in that ST tradition. So what is the point of the counseling? One thing I have found is that Calvinists rarely apply the tenents of Calvinism in every day life.

  158. Daisy wrote:

    You can’t win with the Christian body no matter what you do as a single:

    -If you want marriage but am coping okay with being single, you get platitudes and insults (and blame – ‘it’s your fault you are still single’).
    -If you hate being single and are dying to be married, you get platitudes and insults
    -If you don’t want marriage at all and are totally fine with singleness, you get platitudes and insults

    Daisy, in my opinion, living passionately, having friends, and holding your head high are the way to go. Jesus would have us all live abundantly. Go for it, with no apologies. Many people pretend all marrieds are happy and have rapturous sex 24/7. It’s not true. Live outrageously, give generously, invest in lots of lives!

  159. Anon 1 wrote:

    the bain of a relationship with Christ.

    The Calvinistas in my former church never showed any love or care. It was all about preaching (one was good; the other mediocre). I wonder if they really had a relationship with Jesus.

    Thank you all for giving me courage to leave my church this weekend. I love my new church. Wow, it is a breath of fresh air. Everyone in my family sensed it.

    Even my youngest told me he wanted to bring his non-Christian friends. (He never once said this about our old church.)

  160. anonymous wrote:

    What’s ST?

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought S.T. = Secondary…something.

    Not sure what the “T” is, maybe theology?

    As in, some people take topics that should be considered of less import than the Gospel itself (should be secondary) and divide or ostracize each other over it.

  161. @ Janey:

    Thank you for the words of encouragment :)

    This is for Deb and Dee and the web master:
    I’ve had an off and on problem with getting the blog to appear today. Sometimes when I visit, I get a grey page with text saying ‘the site can’t be found’ or is ‘offline’ or something, then when I check back later, it’s showing up fine. This has been going on the last few hours.

  162. My mother fought this perception — that depression was some sort of spiritual weakness and seeking treatment was somehow sinful.

    But if a fellow Christian had cancer, would you not send them to a doctor? If they needed stitches, would you advise them to pray? Medical problems need to be dealt with by medically trained people. Depression is a medical problem that responds to drug therapy and ‘talk’ therapy. Pastors who do not refer depressed people to outside professional assistance are practicing faith-healing when effective medicine is available.

  163. Anon 1 wrote:

    So if Nouthetic counseling does not work for that person then what would the trajectory be? Of course, they were never saved to begin with.

    Just another coat of paint for “ME SHEEP, YOU GOAT! HAW! HAW! HAW!”

  164. Anon 2 wrote:

    I’ve found that the new young Nouthetic pastoral counselors are very polished at sounding “winsome,” and using very pleasant sounding language about how Nouthetic counseling is changing away from the harsh Jay Adams approach.

    From my experience growing up, every time I hear “winsome, pleasant sounding language” or “He’s So Polite!”, my first thought is: SOCIOPATH.

    And the truth is that those new young “winsome” Nouthetic counselors, continue to bash, deride, and mock psychotherapists and psychologists categorically when they aren’t face to face with non-Nouthetic critics.

    Just like Scientology!

  165. Daisy wrote:

    If and when you feel that way, you will get the comments from married Christians that wanting marriage is idolatry (and this coming from the same “you must want to get married, singlenss = bad, not God’s plan for anyone” crowd), you should be content in your singleness, etc.

    Always from Christians who married at 18. It’s very easy to give glib advice if you’ve never been there yourself. Amazing how much they know about your situation! Just like Job’s Counselors!

    I wasn’t meaning to post here today, I dropped by to ask you, HUG, if you had heard of “Praise Ponies.” “Praise Ponies”.

    It’s a Christian knock off of MLP.

    Ah, yes. “Just like My Little Pony, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” Specifically, knockoffs of G1 ponies with Bible verse zip codes for Cutie Marks. G1 ponies. When in the real world they’re up to G4. Three generations behind state-of-the-art, but Christian(TM). Typical.

    Yes, I am familiar with Praise Ponies. I sent a link to Internet Monk a couple yeara ago, sort of an “OK. How’s This for Openers?”

    Reply, on one of IMonk’s Saturday Ramblings catchalls: “I thought HUG was joking about these. He isn’t. God help us all!”

    Incidentally, Daisy, there’s a background pony with your name in the current MLP. Runs the town flower-and-herb shop with two other “flower ponies”, Lily and Rose. And like the other two, tends to overreact to just about everything.

  166. Yet with all the resources available for pastors, too often I hear of pastors who sub-let this task. They refer congregants not to the Word, but to outside “professionals.” In so doing, pastors relegate soul care to those outside the church, and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders. The result is that some within the church lose confidence in either the sufficiency of scripture, or in the pastor’s knowledge of the Bible.

    Pondering this one today I found myself, for the first time, feeling somewhat thankful for the proscriptions placed on churches and Christian organisations by UK legislation. Whilst this is not without its own problems, nouthetic counselling or any variant would be next door to illegal here. “Knowledge puffs up”, and no knowledge puffs up quite like theological knowledge (a significant chunk of which is not even “the study of God”, but rather the study of historical theologians, their opinions, and the opinions of commentators on those opinions, and so on ad infinitum). But it’s very difficult for fresh-faced young seminary graduates (or even old seminary graduates) to imagine that a bit of theology makes the a master of science, medicine, sociology, psychiatry and indeed everything else they survey. They are protected from the delusion that they know everything by the same legislation that prevents them from acting as though they do.

  167. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Okay, so you have heard of Praise Ponies.

    Daisy is my screen name for blogs, not my name in real life, but it’s a name I like, so I’m glad to hear there is a Pony with my blog name. :)

  168. Pingback: google

  169. Believe me I am no Nouthetic Counselor and I suffer from bipolar 2 disorder. MacArthur’s suit went all the way to the California Supreme Court but the plaintiff lost because they brought the lawsuit against a church and there is such a thing as separation of church and state. I am a pastor and I am glad the plaintiff lost. But duly noted is that many Nouthetic Counselors like us all will have to stand before God and give an account for the content of what they taught.

    Nicholas wrote:

    Thy Peace wrote:

    As far as sexual abuse within SBC, this is what Frank Page says and does …
    http://stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com/search?q=frank+page

    So many people have committed suicide because of sexual abuse. Page angers me, as does Patterson and his “evil-doers” quote.

    So do John MacArthur and Jay Adams. What if the gov’t decided to hold them legally responsible for all of the suicides caused by their “nouthetic counseling” garbage? They would go to jail for medical malpractice at least. At least one suicide has happened in MacArthur’s church.