What Tony Jones Should Learn From Stanley Hauerwas About Marriage

"Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world, but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him: his wife and son. How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces – no communication, adultery, divorce? You can't do it, not if you're being true and honest with yourself."– Julian Lennon link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=85587&picture=broken-heart-painting
Broken Heart

(updated a few dates-8 pm)

Gone Girl-*Spoiler alert*

Last night we watched the movie Gone Girl. The basic plot revolves around a man (who is a cheat)who is married to a probable sociopath who disappears and then reappears. Ms Sociopath set up her own disappearance to make it appear that her husband killed her, hoping he would go to jail for life or get the death penalty. Then, in true sociopath form, changes her mind and returns home. Her husband, who now fears her, decides to divorce her but discovers she is pregnant with their child. He sacrifices his own peace of mind to stay with his wife in order to protect the coming child. He knows that the commitment will last at least 18 years. 

Allegations of spousal abuse and whacked theology by Tony Jones, a well-known progressive, Emergent leader.

On September 5, 2014, the Naked Pastor published Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: What came first, the thug or the theology?. In the course of the comments, Julie McMahon, former wife of Tony Jones, joined in on the discussion, alleging that she had been abused by Tony Jones. This thread received over 1,000 comments. Such claims have circulated throughout the internet for some time.

 Stuff Christian Culture Likes posted this synopsis:

allegations have been made in various social media for some time concerning aspects of Tony Jones’ behaviour towards his ex-wife Julie and their children at and since the time of their relationship breakdown, specifically assault, incorrectly claiming that Julie was mentally ill and his and Doug Pagitt’s alleged theological justification for Jones’ affair with his now-wife. Strong feelings have been raised this week by the discovery that JoPa are facilitating a conference with a strong diversity/feminist agenda, that this attempts to present an image of supporting women while major personal issues are still unresolved. Leaders involved have refused to discuss the issue, referring to it as ‘gossip’, and some saying they have investigated the events and are satisfied. Yet Julie continues to claim that no one from the Emergent community has even spoken to her about the events since they occurred. 

Let's sum up the basic allegations:

  • Tony Jones divorced his wife in 2009. Julie discovered the affair in 2008
  • His BFF, Doug Pagitt, knew Tony was having an affair and came up with a theological argument to justify Jones' actions. Jones allegedly told Julie that he had a spiritual™ wife  which took precedence over their marriage because their marriage was simply a legal matter. (2009- one month before official divorce).
  • Julie claims she was assaulted by Jones.
  • Rumors circulated amongst their Emergent group that Julie was mentally ill. She claims that the leaders tried to get her committed to a mental institution.
  • Julie was awarded custody of the children and Jones was given visitation rights.
  • Tony Jones sacramentally (his term) married his new wife in 2011 and legally married her in 2013. They refused to get legally married until gays could get married.

Why Christian?

This conference is being planned by Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz Weber. It is being sponsored, in part, by JoPa- a group run by Jones and his friend Doug Pagitt. This is where it gets messy.

A thoughtful comment on this blog post by Rachel Held Evans was followed by this response by RHE.

Danica Newton • 20 hours ago

Hi Rachel, I posted this on your Facebook but also wanted to leave a comment here because it seems that you interact more here on your blog, and I wanted to make sure you hear me.

I saw your upcoming conference featuring women and got super excited … until I saw that you're partnering with Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt for the event. This is surprising to me because you've always been an advocate for the abused and for victims, but Tony Jones had been accused by his ex wife of some serious things, including throwing her against a wall and dislocating her shoulder from its socket.

This happened many years ago (probably six? ), and his ex wife tried for a long time to tell her part of the story, but was shut down every time by Jones' pressuring of blog hosts, etc, every time she tried to talk. He even threatened law suits when the pressure of his position in the Emergent community didn't work to make them delete her comments and block her participation.

A few months ago Julie left a comment on Naked Pastor's blog, but instead of censoring her, he let her tell her story … for the first time ever. The comment thread on that post is very long, but worth the read, especially if you are familiar with the silencing tactics commonly employed by men in power against victims of abuse.

I'm hoping you are not aware of Julie's story, and that is why you agreed to partner with her abuser. I also hope that this comment will be left up, and not taken down, because if it is (taken down), then although it pains me, I will have to assume knowing of Julie's allegations, you are continuing to work with Tony Jones, which means you would be taking sides with the abuser (who wields a lot of power, I know – he's giving you and others a platform to speak, after all).

Below is the link to the conversation. I truly hope you read through, and at the very least allow Julie to tell you her side of the story (since Jones denies it, and labels her as having a mental disorder)

Thank you.

********

RHE I take abuse allegations very seriously, and if I had good reason to believe Tony was an abuser and these allegations were credible I wouldn't work with him on a conference. But my personal experience with and diligent investigation of this situation has given me reason to doubt that this is the case. (The fact that I too was accused of being part of a massive EV coverup when this all happened before I was even published and not even remotely connected to EV raised some red flags from the start.) There's always the chance I'm wrong, of course, but I've made the decision to continue participating in the conference with Nadia. To debate the circumstances of another couple's divorce further, in this forum, would be unwise – legally and ethically – so I'm not going to comment on it again, and I'm going to have to moderate comments so that the comment section isn't inundated with rumors, which I also take very seriously. There are other forums for such conversations. Part of advocating for abuse victims is to encourage them to work through the proper legal channels to achieve justice. I have done this consistently. 

So Rachel Held Evans appears to say that the accusations against her friend, Tony Jones, are not credible. From that point forward, any comments about this subject were deleted and the post was eventually closed to comments. Here is a screen shot taken by one of our readers who attempted to comment and had it deleted. (Good comment-Sensible!)

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 4.18.28 PM

Twitter/Email Food Fight

Naturally, abuse advocates began to speak out about Julie McMahon's claims. There appeared to be a feeling that Julie did not have a platform for her concerns in the past and that she was finally able to express herself in a public forum. In fact, one person who claims to have known Julie in the past wrote the following comment on the Naked Pastor's comment thread. This comment seems to corroborate Julie's allegations and offers an insight that I will get to in a minute.

I come in peace. I am a former member of Solomon’s Porch (I moved out of state in 2007). I am an anthropology professor, wife, and mother. I was raised in a church pastored by a pedophile (Al Magnuson, Redeemer Covenant Church, Brooklyn Park, MN. I have experienced spiritual abuse.

Solomon’s Porch was a haven, a rescue, and a healing balm during difficult years. The dreams of the church continue to be my dreams, and my friends there, including Doug, are still my friends. I spoke on Doug’s radio show, promoted my book by speaking at Christianity 21, and so on. I am not an emergent figure, but I benefited by association. 

I have met Julie only briefly (in person), and have never interacted with her children. I have interacted with Tony several times, but not socially or extensively. I was not present for any of the incidents described by her or anyone else, but I did follow things on-line.

This comment thread makes me sob. No voyeuristic glee; only heart-rending pain at my repeated role of by-stander, and at times victim, in religiously abusive situations. I am speaking up to satisfy my conscience. 

I saw Julie’s reputation smeared, and her attempts to speak silenced. At Christianity 21, an emergent insider told me that the evening was very difficult for Tony and Courtney, because they were coming out as a couple, and the expectation was that people be kind to them. When I questioned, “What happened to Tony and Julie?”, the answer was that regardless of the “official” divorce, their marriage had ended long ago, so Tony was free to be with Courtney. The marriage ended, so I heard, because Julie was destructive and mentally ill. It didn’t add up – why is the crazy person doing all the child care? You try caring for three little kids even just for the duration of a C21 conference…if Julie really was that crazy, people should have been intervening on behalf of the children at that very moment, not standing around drinking wine and talking shit about her. 

(Side note: so what if she, or anyone else, is, in fact, mentally ill? I interact regularly with people who have autism, OCD, bipolar, anxiety, depression, and so on. Every single one takes responsibility for their behavior, and is capable of accurately describing abuse. Even a psychotic person in a psych ward can speak up and say they are being abused, and their claims will be investigated. American law doesn’t allow us to write off someone’s testimony because of their mental health.)

Then, another comment.

Steve K @Becky – I just want to add that the rumor about your mental health was spread by Jeff Kursonis, who I (and the rest of us in Emergent at the time) later learned was not someone who was trustworthy. (That's a whole other story that is being conflated here, I'm afraid, with the accusations of mental illness by Tony towards his ex, Julie. Two different situations entirely.) 

Anyway, it was a hard lesson learned, and I apologized directly to you for my complicity in spreading that rumor — and I made every effort to correct that and connect you with the board of Emergent Village at the time so they could offer an "official" apology directly to you as well, but you refused to speak with them.

Brian McLaren, another well-known, Emergent BFF of Jones, also appeared on the comment thread.

Brian McLaren
 September 24, 2014 at 11:19 am

Last Friday, I received an email from Julie McMahon requesting that an apology to her be posted on this thread. I was one of several people who had been asked by both Tony and Julie in 2008 to help them in a time of marital crisis. We tried our best to help, but the marriage didn’t survive.

I read through all the postings on this thread and checked back as the list grew. I saw significant discrepancies between the version of the story that was being told on this thread and my experience and understanding of what actually happened. 

However, I was at a distance and was only peripherally involved because I extricated myself from the situation early on. Because I take accusations of spiritual abuse seriously (as, I’m sure, do all the people named in Julie’s email), in recent days I’ve gone back in my email archives and reread the many emails Julie sent or forwarded to me during and since 2008.

I have come to see a few things that could have been done differently, especially with the benefit of hindsight. I also see areas where, if the counsel given to Julie and Tony had been followed more fully, outcomes could have been better. But I have never witnessed or observed anything even close to abuse by any of the people named; in fact, I have only witnessed sincere and solid pastoral care in a tragic and volatile situation, right up to this moment. 

I think that someone on this thread made a good suggestion. She shared that she was once accused of something. A group of qualified and mature people reviewed the evidence in a responsible way. She suggested taking what has been shared on this thread, along with information that can’t in good conscience be shared in public, for private professional review, making use of structures developed by denominations over many years of dealing with situations like these.

I think that is a good idea, and I will do my best to see it is done. Because I have some idea of the legal dimensions of situations like this, I do not believe it is wise or appropriate to say anything else at this time. 

Counter attacks begin

 As folks expressed concern for Julie's situation on Twitter, counter attacks began. The best example of this is one received by Amy Smith. As you know, Amy is a tireless defender of the abused. She had retweeted a comment about Julie's allegations and received the following email which she placed on her website. When a retweet is described as perpetuating the violence: Tony Jones and the Sonoran Theological Group


From: Amy Jacober <amy.jacober@gmail.com>
Date: January 14, 2015 at 10:19:34 PM CST
To: watchkeepamy@gmail.com
Subject: retweets

Hello! My name is Amy Jacober. I have referenced your blog many times and recommended it to many readers. I have written about you when you were egregiously treated and prayed for you. 

I was a professor at Truett Seminary. It is a long story but the abuse that takes place in and around Baylor and the seminary is rampant. I had my fill. Upon leaving to care for sick parents, I am part of a small group trying to offer affordable theological education. I spend a lot of time with those abused by churches, academic institutions, and systemic financial problems. It has cost my family in ways that are far too great to detail here. 

Our small start up training the poorest ministers was asked to be a part of a conference where we might meet some people in our community to better serve the needs of untrained leaders. I consult and help churches with things like back ground checks and writing safe sanctuary policies. My world for twenty years has been advocating for the least of these, including spending a great deal of time with friends with disabilities and crying out to my teaching colleagues to address the spiritual and physical needs of these friends so that further abuse does not continue. The name of that conference is C21. 

Today, one of my colleagues at our small start up responded to an accusation that we (STG) support abuse. You retweeted it. We had never heard of any such allegations and were taken by surprise. Within moments, it was misquoted, edited in multiple variations at this point. We should never have responded to the bait. What you have taught me is that speaking up for what is right brings violence, unless you are the person in power. Today, you are the person in power. It has grieved me to my very soul. It has been like living with the abuse of Baylor (your alma mater) all over again. People in power, who do not fact check, sling mud and then think nothing of the lives they are destroying always stun me. Mostly they stun me because I honestly don't think they realize what they are doing.  I know, you know this pattern well. I assume you did not do this maliciously, rather it was an easy sound bite and you bought into it. 

I know you have done good work in the past. I have been an advocate and ally. Please, in the future, do not do this to others. You have just become the very thing you fight against. I have spent much of the day dying inside as I think through all of the young women I have ministered to over the years assuring them that there are responsible, non-reactionary advocates out there and they can be brave. I wonder if I'll have that chance again. I wonder about my very reputation as the retweets keep flying. You are powerful, whether you realize it or not. Please, please, please, before you ever retweet something where a person or organization is being accused that you do not know, do your homework before you perpetuate the violence. 

Perpetuate the violence? Seriously?  Here is another twitter exchange that you might find interesting.

Then, Dave Hayward, Naked Pastor, left this comment on the original comment thread.

Dave Hayward

4. I have been contacted outside of this conversation by many, mostly leaders, who have provided advice to me on how to manage this blog post and comments. I'm sure, for the most part, their intentions were good. But at the same time this indicates how those with authority or a reputation enjoy other ways to control or influence conversations. Maybe this wasn't always done to silence me or others, but it does tell another story about how influencers assume various methods to manage information that the silenced cannot.

5. The alleged abused invited the accused into this space to respond to their demands for apologies. As unsettling and uncomfortable as this would be, some risked it and graciously met their demands. As far as I know, there has been healing in those relationships. On the other hand, some didn't. Those who didn't have their own reasons why, from good to suspicious to bad.

Tony Jones responds in Some Hard Truth

In this post, Tony makes it clear that he is the one who filed for divorce. He also alludes to some conduct of which he is regretful.

Unfortunately, during this same time, my marriage suffered and eventually collapsed. When I filed for divorce in August, 2008, it caused ripples of pain that are still lapping up on the shores of many lives. My former spouse, my three kids, and many relatives and friends were affected.

Divorce is a tragic event in the life of any family, and our divorce was particularly hostile. While I tried to conduct myself with compassion and grace, I didn’t always succeed. I made many mistakes along the way. I said things that I now regret, and I often thought of myself and my own pain before that of others. I have grieved these failures, I am profoundly sorry for them, and I will carry regrets with me the rest of my life.

My thoughts

 1. Tony Jones had to get away from his wife but he had no problems leaving his kids with her.

This jumped out at me immediately. Tony could no longer stay married to his wife, allegedly because she was mentally difficult. I have heard this excuse from others before and I don't buy it. Why? It appears that it is OK for the children to stay under the care of his wife and allow them to endure the supposed mental illness but he can't. Does this make sense? He leaves the most vulnerable members of his family with his wife while he takes up with his spiritual™ honey.

A father who is really concerned for his children would have stayed put, enduring difficulty for the welfare of his kids. Not only that, he removed himself from the home and immediately got a new *friend.* That is just what his kids needed. Their father is now absent from the home, they are living with a mentally unbalanced mother, and their daddy now takes time to court the new "love of his life." Oh yeah, the court gave the *mental case* custody.

Unless… that mentally unbalanced thing gave him a good excuse…Neither of these two possibilities speaks well for Jones.

2. Stanley Hauerwas' example: Since when does *mentally ill* qualify as a good reason for divorce? 

Recently, I read Stanley Hauerwas' autobiography Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir. Here is how Amazon describes the book.

With genuine humility, he describes his intellectual struggles with faith, how he has dealt with the complex reality of marriage to a mentally ill partner, and the gift of friendships that have influenced his character. 

Hauerwas is considered one of the greatest theologians in America. He tips progressive but manages to miff off all sides of the theological debate. From Wikipedia

 Hauerwas is known for his outspoken advocacy of pacifism, as well of his fierce criticism of liberal democracy, capitalism, and militarism. He is also a critic of both Christian fundamentalism and liberal Christianity and American civil religion. Among his most important contributions to modern theology are his advocacy of and work related to virtue ethics and post-liberal theology.

The most poignant sections of the book dealt with his mentally ill wife. Her behavior was deeply troubling and, at times, profoundly embarrassing. However, Hauerwas stayed by her side and helped raise his young son. He adamantly refused to divorce her, even when his BFFs thought it might be appropriate. They only divorced when his wife insisted on the divorce. Then, he spent a great deal of money hiring her an excellent attorney to make sure that she received a fair and just settlement. He later remarried a wonderful woman and has had a successful and happy marriage along with a close and loving relationship with his adult son.

Hauerwas exhibited the Christian qualities of long suffering and humility. I think a lot of that is lacking in the Tony Jones story.

3. Progressives can play theological games just like conservatives.

I know that progressives, moderates and conservatives disagree on lots of theology. However, all three groups are equally capable of making up theology to justify bad behavior. At this point, it is not a theological argument. It has become a game of rationalization. You know the old saw. "Did God really say….?"

Here's the deal for me. That spiritual™ wife stuff was absolute codswallop! And anyone who played that game ought to be ashamed of themselves. Emergents are not the only ones who can call out baloney.

4. The Calvinistas aren't the only ones who protect their own.

We are all aware of the circling of the wagons that occurred when Sovereign Grace Ministries and CJ Mahaney were under the gun. Frankly, it is human nature to want to protect our friends. However, those of us who understand grace know that even our friends can disappoint us. I still remember a seminary professor going after the Deebs a few years ago for our concerns about SGM, Mark Driscoll and Gary Ezzo. His justification? Well known celebrity seminarians (himself included, of course) and pastors loved those guys. Since we were not theologically trained™ as they were, we were obviously wrong. Wonder what they think now?

 5. We are positionally holy but functionally sinners.

This means we can all be wrong in our judgments of others and wrong in our behavior at times. Christians, above all, should be well aware that our heroes, as well as we, can hide our foibles. Why is it when the police finally catch the serial killer in a neighborhood, the neighbors will often say "He was a nice guy." "He shoveled our driveway." "He always came to the neighborhood pot luck." We are sometimes really screwed up in our judgements.

6. I tend to believe those who say they are abused which includes Julie.

This does not mean that I am always right. However, it is well known that most people find it terribly difficult to discuss their abuse in public. The vast majority of reports are true. I always consider the other side. But the other side is difficult to find when abusive behavior happens behind closed doors without witnesses. 

7. Libel

Libel is a deliberate telling of a lie in order to harm the good character of another person. A person making false claims can be sued for such behavior. Most people will not risk making false accusations on a large public forum.

Why I tend to believe Julie at this point.

The spiritual™ wife stuff was such poppycock that it leads me to mistrust Tony Jones and his friends. If they are willing to make that up, they are probably willing to make up more stuff. Also, I believe that a good father( or mother) would not leave their kids in the hands of a mentally deranged individual. 

Sometimes, a parody can say it better. Here are links to Twitter and Tony Parody Jones and The JoParody Group.

And now, I shall go curl up in a fetal position and wait for the spiritual™ input to begin…

Lydia's Corner: Exodus 13:17-15:18 Matthew 21:23-46 Psalm 26:1-12 Proverbs 6:16-19

Comments

What Tony Jones Should Learn From Stanley Hauerwas About Marriage — 1,063 Comments

  1. Julie has more recently been posting at the SCCL FB page. As far as mental illness, Julie claims that during the custody battle/divorce both were given gruelling psych evaluations, and HE is the one diagnosed with a major personality disorder, and she has a clean bill of mental health, although more recently was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the last few years.

  2. @ Sadie:
    I read that comment. I wanted to come up with a reason why I distrust Tony’s side of the story. How would he be perceived if he left his children at the mercy of a mentally ill women? I bet he wouldn’t do such a thing. Therefore, the mentally ill diagnosis does not play well with me.

    Also, the courts would not give the children to a woman who needed to be institutionalized. This is why I believe that Julie is not mentally ill and why I believe her narrative.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Welcome to TWW.

  3. Great job putting this together. I am stunned that RHE is deleting comments and sticking to her guns, so to speak. I have wondered if she has sat down one on one with Julie to hear her side to the story? If not, would she? Will you Rachel? For all the people who have been spiritually abused, would you, for the love of God, just hear Julie out? The whole thing is fishy. Don’t know if Julie will be reading this, but if you are, I hear you & I believe you. Breaks my heart how you have been portrayed, abused & thrown away. Praying for you and your children.

  4. I find it creepy that someone would name their ministry group “JoPa” after what happened back in Penn State. Yuck!

    But, more seriously, “spiritual” wives, obvious spousal abuse, and the circling of the wagons would make me keep my distance from the conference, no matter how “progressive” they might be.

    Human sin never tends to evolve. It’s the same old, same old in every generation, dressed up in different clothes.

  5. Another amazing TWW article.

    It never ceases to amaze me that these charlatans have even one follower, much less masses.

  6. Linn wrote:

    I find it creepy that someone would name their ministry group “JoPa” after what happened back in Penn State. Yuck!

    Great insight! I didn’t think about that.

  7. dee wrote:

    Also, the courts would not give the children to a woman who needed to be institutionalized. This is why I believe that Julie is not mentally ill and why I believe her narrative

    Good point. On top of that, she seems to be the only one willing to answer questions about the actual facts and details of the case. Meanwhile, all of Jones’ supporters claim to have conducted “diligent investigations” and seen secret “documents,” yet none are willing to outline what said investigations and documents entail. Lots of red flags.

  8. What this situation is another clear example of, is our willingness to overlook significant problems in someone’s character IF they are able to provide something we think we need or want.

    Driscoll– Was effective at communicating reformed and complementary positions while drawing a crowd—-so his other problems got ignored

    Jones— A leading voice for progressive and emergent strains of Christianity—so even though he is a bit whack-a-doodle—passes are given because he champions the cause

    You see this on a local level ALL the time. I cannot tell how many times I have seen churches take the very first person who can play a musical instrument/sing and put them on a praise team because they felt desperate to fill that role. And then, later they find out, this person is OUT there. But then they feel stuck because, we have no one to replace them.

    We need to stop attaching ourselves to the first person who fills a gap that we, in our human fraility, think HAS to be filled.

  9. I am not sure if folks realize how hard it is to get a personality diagnosis for NPD. Tony Jones was a police chaplain for their city so that did not make things easier for her. In fact, just the opposite.

    Rachel needs to hear about all the times police were called in front of the kids and how much child support is owed while he goes to his hunt club and Italy. And the thing about the mental illness is that guys like Doug Pagitt and others went along with Tony’s version and tried to talk her into being committed. At this time she thought they were trying to help her. She had reached out to the EV leaders and that is how she was treated. They met and planned it without even talking to her first. They did not even meet to talk with her first. That just creeps me out about them.

    But anyway, I am not as sanguine as most here. Rachel is in the same predicament those are who make their living off their brand and Jesus. It comes down to popularity, stages, being in the right circles. To call it gossip is no different than what SGM or any of the others have done. I hope she realizes she won’t have credibility anymore on this topic.

    Nadia was even worse calling bloggers and twitter trolls with pitchforks and other names accusing them of spreading rumors. Methinks Tony the certified narcissist has them snowed.

  10. Proof that no part of the Christian spectrum is immune from and no amount of education is a vaccine against self-serving, bogus, and slimy make-it-up-as-you-go-along theology. All that ‘spiritual wife’ cowpie just to justify an affair.

    Even aside from the abuse allegations, why would anyone who speaks out for Christian love for one another affiliate with this Bozo? The world wonders. Add all of the issues surrounding the lowly ‘legal’ wife’s allegations and you hear “Danger Will Robinson!” How big does a red flag have to be?

  11. Thanks for tackling this story. I cannot begin to describe how deeply disappointed I was when I read that RHE was involved with Tony Jones and came to the same conclusion as you: even Progressives will circle the wagons. How sad, sad, sad.
    Also, I have a friend who waited until her youngest child was eighteen years old before leaving her mentally unstable, abusive husband because she did not want her children to have to endure visits with him without her there as a buffer. So, no, I’m not buying Jones story either.
    Thanks again for writing about this.

  12. Lydia wrote:

    Nadia was even worse calling bloggers and twitter trolls with pitchforks and other names accusing them of spreading rumors.

    {sigh} In the religious world, the claim of “gossip” is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  13. @ Adam Borsay:

    Good points. One other thing I think might play into the general phenomenon is the notion that “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” They imagine themselves in the position of the one with whom they most identify, and then they take that position reflexively.

    Thanks to the Deebs for consistent application of principles. While we can never be sure what happened, we can reason through issues and come to some conclusion regarding what a reasonable person of goodwill, like a loving and diligent father, would have done. Similarly, we would expect a family court judge to avoid granting custody of children to someone who is that mentally unstable. If a grown man cannot live with her due to her purported mental illness, then how much more should vulnerable children be protected?

    At the very least, RHE should disassociate from the JoPa crowd due to the “spiritual wife” nonsense and should denounce such aberrant theology (trying to be as charitable as possible.) She cannot credibly claim to speak for the less powerful if she is granting her indulgence to such outrageously obvious self-serving theologizing.

    By her silence and promotion of these charlatans, she becomes complicit in the destruction brought into other women’s (and men’s) lives by those who claim the right and even obligation to leave their “legal” spouse and join with their “spiritual” spouse with the full approval of the “spiritual leaders.” If this is not the treachery described in Malachi, I don’t know what is.

  14. On RHE’s non-response: some may be surprised that Rachel has sided with Jones, given her past support of abuse victims of SGM and similar institutions. How can she possibly see through the acts of Mahaney and Driscoll, yet turn a blind eye to TJ?

    Here’s something to think about: Rachel is first and foremost an author, not a blogger. Let me put it another way: when I want timely, detailed information about situations like SGM, I am not going to go to Rachel’s blog, I am going to TWW. I am not claiming that all authors are fame-seeking, opportunistic individuals, nor am I claiming that all bloggers are champions of abuse survivors. What I am claiming is Rachel’s platform exists primarily to process ideas, not create safe spaces. As I see it, Rachel the “author” does not interact with her readers on the same day-to-day basis that Dee and Deb interact with theirs; Rachel has never had to do the “legwork” of communicating with abuse survivors that many in the blogging community have undertaken. Given these realities, I am really not surprised by Rachel’s inappropriate and out-of-touch response.

  15. @ Gail: Even if Rachel were to sit down with Julie, at this point, I don’t think I can ever read her again. I am that disappointed, just sickened that she would partner with someone like this. I thought she had better judgement. 🙁

  16. Lydia wrote:

    To call it gossip is no different than what SGM or any of the others have done. I hope she realizes she won’t have credibility anymore on this topic.

    Nadia was even worse calling bloggers and twitter trolls with pitchforks and other names accusing them of spreading rumors. Methinks Tony the certified narcissist has them snowed.

    The parallels are truly spooky, are they not? I can still remember the slander of the T4G statement saying that those who oppose Mahaney are merely upset at him for founding a ministry benefiting vast millions, if I recall the wording correctly. I can hear Mohler’s voice as I write this.

    And then there was the shut-up campaign led, most infamously IMO by Joe Carter and his “Stop Slandering Christ’s Bride” tirade. Sorry, Joe, but your buddies are not the same thing as the church, and calling for accountability is not slander. And the comment curating at TgC and Challies, among others, is so reminiscent of what is going in in this instance by RHE.

    Gramp3 and I did work our way through the comments at NP over several days because these are names that are not familiar to us. It was very sobering and sad to see the same patterns repeated that we had observed a couple of decades ago in a conservative church. Actually, now that I think about it, we observed a similar campaign in a church when we were just dating. A long, long time ago, but basically a similar story, only the spiritual wife was the organist.

  17. She has refused to contact Julie, instead has asked Justin Hanvey @dochas on Twitter, to be a go between. It is very bizarre. @ Gail:

  18. Just a note: Many like Rachel and Nadia are trying to make this just about a messy divorce that is none of our business. Emergent leaders and fellow travelers were trying to do this over at nakedpastor but it did not work. They (like Doug Pagitt) were trying hard to get it shut down with rebukes of shame. I was pretty stunned. This is Emergent?

    TJ is a public figure who makes his living off Jesus with his followers. The EV leaders went along with him on all of it…the spiritual wife ridiculousness, trying to get her committed, etc. Julie said her dad spent a ton on legal fees dealing with this. She and her 3 kids were left destitute by TJ. Do folks realize that because he has “income streams” it is very hard to go after child support?

    This is the man Rachel supports?

    Kinnon hinted at this situation back in 2010 and Julie comments:

    http://kinnon.tv/2010/02/reviewers-reviewing-mclarens-a-new-kind-of-christianity.html

    I know what it is like in that world and how alone you are when the celebrity has everyone on their side, is automatically believed and has the platform for cult of personality. Not to mention other leaders who had their credibility to consider. I cannot imagine what she had to live through.

    she has every right to tell her side when and where she wants.

  19. After reading this, I feel that fallen humanity gets pointed out and no matter the theological leanings the same games are played. After reading about psychological issues to come to terms with things in my life I have realized that the people who assume leadership roles have a higher concentration of personality disorders. Narcissistic personalities and the like gain their supply by being front and center getting attention. With power structures the way they are and the games that have to be played well meaning people like RHE have to work with these types to get their message out there. So is this structure we see in American Christianity of unfeeling self – centered leaders an American phenomenon or is it just part of the human condition?

  20. Lydia wrote:

    Just a note: Many like Rachel and Nadia are trying to make this just about a messy divorce that is none of our business.

    Yes. They are not willing to admit that their responses to their “sheep” (Nadia’s “digital pitchforks” rant was particularly atrocious) are symptomatic of a larger problem, of their inability to lead with principle and listen to those who don’t have the benefit large platforms like Tony and co have.

  21. Lydia wrote:

    Kinnon hinted at this situation back in 2010 and Julie comments:

    Thanks for remembering that Lydia. The comments are somewhat oddly sequenced in that post which happened when we moved my blog from typePad to WP. Note that you will find some of the same people in that thread as in the Naked Pastor thread. Further note that I was told in the email referred to in the comments that Julie was “batshit crazy” AFTER I asked to be unsubscribed from a Emergent/Progressive-oriented book list — that “meme” completely unsolicited by me.

  22. @ Gram3:

    I have not kept up with the Emergent movement. Back in my seeker mega days, there were factions toying with it so we saw it as something to keep an eye on for marketing purposes. I was watching it back when Driscoll was still considered “part of the conversation”. I recognize some of the names and but mostly remember the bizarre hair cuts and cool glasses from about 11 years ago.

    It sort of reminds me of the seeker world where a few stalwarts remained but always needed to be recruiting fresh celebs to stay alive. I think that is where Rachel comes in. She is fresher and brings in more book buyers for them, perhaps? It really is all about marketing, folks. I wish more people could see it.

    What is the most telling aspect is that they are considered the liberal wing of cool Christendom. It is the same stuff! Julie claimed that embracing the LBGT community was more about being relevant and cool. TJ is known for his writing and speaking on “oppression”. Can the irony get any thicker?

    I was really touched to read that the late Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries had reached out to Julie. He reached out to me in my early days of walking away from spiritual abuse, too. He was an old Hippie and very down to earth.

  23. Update: While Rachel has shut down the conversation about Jones on her blog, for the past few days readers were still able to leave comments on her Facebook page. Now it seems she is removing those, too. The irony is last time I checked Facebook, a reader left a nice comment thanking her for allowing the conversation about JoPa to continue…I guess those thanks were a bit premature.

  24. You said it best, “You can’t make this stuff up.” He is ballistic at the story gone semi-viral. Tried to gaslight me TONIGHT by taking my son from where I was to pick him up and refusing to return him. He tried to bait me into contact to try and have me arrested. THIS is what an angry injured NPD does. Nightmare! Thank you for your summary. I will give it to my lawyer. Already threats AGAIN of defamation of character and harassment. The truth is pesky like that. -Julie

  25. Lydia wrote:

    @ Sadie:

    Who is Justin Harvey? Is he EV?

    Justin is not EV, just someone who has several progressive big names following him on FB and Twitter (@dochas82) When he posted on FB how disappointed he was in Rachel and Nadia’s responses, Rachel messaged him and wanted him to ask Julie a bunch of questions. When he suggested she contact Julie herself, she said it wouldn’t be healthy. Also in that FB post, Matthew Paul Turner came in defending Tony, Nadia and Rachel, saying HE knew the facts. Then when he got criticism he blocked a bunch of us.

  26. My late father moved out and filed for divorce from my mom in the 1970s. He wanted custody of us kids because mom was and is a paranoid schizophrenic. During the process, mom tried to kill herself, ended up in the hospital for a couple of months and my dad moved back in. He never moved back out. He stayed with my mom until he died last year. I know it was tough because there were periods when mom would either not take her medication or her medication failed and she’d get irrational and start talking about divorce. Dad stuck with her through all that. But if there’d been a divorce, he wanted to raise us kids.

  27. In addition to Nadia’s digital pitchforks and ignorant-mob-of-internet-strangers rant, Rachel posted this really vague tweet about “online harassment” and promptly deleted it…I am really not liking how they are re-framing the conversation to position themselves and TJ as the real “victims” of his ex-wife’s abuse allegations.

  28. My guess is that this “Spiritual” spouse stuff is going to be the wave of the future for young Christians.

  29. Wow- Y’all here are really in the know. I’m not at all computer savvy, but if anyone started a go fund me page & linked it here, I would love to give Julie some finacial support. Not that $ is going to cure her wounds, only Jesus & time can do that. Even if we only drum up enough money for her to get a few massages, hopefully she will feel cared for.

  30. Sensible wrote:

    In addition to Nadia’s digital pitchforks and ignorant-mob-of-internet-strangers rant, Rachel posted this really vague tweet about “online harassment” and promptly deleted it…I am really not liking how they are re-framing the conversation to position themselves and TJ as the real “victims” of his ex-wife’s abuse allegations.

    Please do what Julie Anne does over at Spiritual Sounding Board and take a screen shot of the tweet, before it gets deleted, and see if Deb and Dee are ok with posting it here for us to read.

  31. Sadie wrote:

    Justin is not EV, just someone who has several progressive big names following him on FB and Twitter (@dochas82) When he posted on FB how disappointed he was in Rachel and Nadia’s responses, Rachel messaged him and wanted him to ask Julie a bunch of questions. When he suggested she contact Julie herself, she said it wouldn’t be healthy.

    “It wouldn’t be healthy” for whom/what? Is what is taking place now “healthy?” RHE has not responded to Julie like she would to other abuse commentors, because there would be a personnel ‘cost’ to do so. She doesn’t want to risk the possible cost.

  32. Denise Wilder the psychologist who was paid $4000 for an exhaustive psych test on both of us and produced a 22 page report with 9 hours of 1 on 1 clinical interview, MMPI and other testing gave the AXIS II personality disorder NPD. She told my lawyer in her 25 years of practice of diagnostic testing this was the first time she ever gave the full blown diagnosis. Up until then she had diagnosed others previously with having NPD “traits” or “tendencies” but never NPD full on. She told my lawyer this will be of the highest conflict. @ Lydia:

  33. Never contacted me although I reached out many times. But Glennon Melton is crickets too….same with the whole line up. Not one willing to talk to me. That’s the fattest canary in the coal mine I think. @ Bridget:

  34. Sensible wrote:

    I am really not liking how they are re-framing the conversation to position themselves and TJ as the real “victims”

    This is the Turn the Table tactic, and is IMO a sign of an abuser or at least one who thinks like an abuser.

  35. Sadie wrote:

    Also in that FB post, Matthew Paul Turner came in defending Tony, Nadia and Rachel, saying HE knew the facts. Then when he got criticism he blocked a bunch of us.

    Oh my. Are folks getting a taste of what Julie went through? These are some names I thought would at least be objective as they have written so eloquently on abuse from Driscoll and others. Guess it is different when it is your own tribe?

    Are we also seeing the horrors of being labeled as crazy and how that campaign can last years and years until it become “common truth”?

    I hate to say this but if I knew then what I know now, if someone with power and position labels you that immediately respond that they must prove it legally. Don’t let it go.

    Folks have no idea how devastating that things are to people. Talk about “gossip” and rumors! Nip it in the bud and make it too inconvenient to repeat.

    Rachel, you owe to Julie to contact her. Of course it is “appropriate”. For crying out loud.

  36. Michaela wrote:

    Please do what Julie Anne does over at Spiritual Sounding Board and take a screen shot of the tweet, before it gets deleted, and see if Deb and Dee are ok with posting it here for us to read.

    I have one in fact if anyone is interested. Someone else on twitter had taken a screen shot of the tweet, and I took and saved my own. The text reads: “Not sure how Christians (on either the progressive or conservative side of things) justify online harassment. It’s scary sometimes.”

  37. One of the problems I have always had with the “emergent” and “progressive” movements within Christianity is my perception of a lack of truly Biblically based non-negotiables. While this is painting with a broad(and incomplete) brush….. when the value is on “questioning” and not the answers, and when the idea of things being “settled” is viewed as “unsettling, you have the fertile soil for ever shifting positions and constantly newly discovered “truths”.

    My theory on why so many of these names refuse to stand up for the victim is that their theology ALLOWS for things like “spiritual wives”. And so the rest of it gets chalked up to a bitter divorce…which of course are common. Once the theology of marriage is reduced to some amorphous concept of “love” and “romance” and becomes untethered from the Biblical revelation of marriage being a reflection of God’s character, Christ and the Church, duty, and obligation….then truly anything goes.

    So while they may view an acrimonious divorce as a tragic thing, the simple fact that it even occurred based on such absurd argumentation is completely ignored. And because it WAS accepted, it created the environment where the abuse could occur and flourish.

  38. I find this highly unlikely to be accurate. Hanvey has a history of trying to insinuate himself into drama. Please check that you hear this from RHE direct and not just from hanvey. If it’s true then RHE has even worse judgment than I thought. @ Sadie:

  39. Great round-up of key elements and conclusions, Dee. Thanks for highlighting this important situation and story.

    I was one who commented multiple times on the epic thread at NakedPastor on “Theology and Thugology.” I compressed a significant amount of my research into my comments on that thread, if you want to check those out [ brad/futuristguy ].

    http://nakedpastor.com/2014/09/tony-jones-on-mark-driscoll-what-came-first-the-thug-or-the-theology/

    I focused on giving what background info I could, as I’ve been tracking some issues within the “emerging church movement” since my direct involvement from 1996 to early 2000s. Also, I have followed this particular situation of allegations about Tony Jones since late 2009, and commented on related blog posts in 2009-2010.

    Bottom line: On the basis of what I’ve researched myself, #IBelieveJulie!

  40. I admit Tony Jones, his ex-wife Julie, Emergent group, RHE and the like were not on my radar until this past year. Thanks in part to TWW, the Deebs, and the thread over at NP, I have become educated on this mess.
    As many have pointed out before, most individuals with NPD are rarely diagnosed in an official manner. It is truly, truly, the ultimate god complex. These individuals would never, ever think they had mental health issues. They will go to the ends of the earth to defeat their enemies (perceived or real). They will quite literally spend themselves into bankruptcy to fight. To simply, fight. They are never wrong. They do not have the ability to experience or display empathy. It’s not that they refuse to do so. They simply cannot. I truly believe these individuals’ souls are void.
    I have had a horrific encounter with a person unofficially diagnosed with NPD. Yes, I self-diagnosed him. However, you will know if you ever ever encounter a person like this, what you’re up against. Not at first. But you will walk away feeling like you looked at the devil himself.
    This person I’m referring to married my husband’s ex-wife. He was a primary cause for her losing custody of their two children (my step daughter and son) and having supervised visitation when they were 16 and 14 years old. I had never encountered an NPD before this man, and not since. Literally, by the grace of God he was shut down. But, let me say, a person with NPD will not stop until they are quite literally shut down by a person they perceive as authority. In our case, it was a judge who had more clout, education, and status than he did.
    I say all of this to say, Julie, dig in your heels and cling to the Lord. Good luck and God bless you and your children.

  41. @ Banannie:

    At this point RHE has shut down comments on her blog and clarified her position as stated in this article. I don’t feel that it is now up to her commenters to try to vet everything with RHE surrounding this conversation. If someone is misrepresenting her (Hanvey) she can comment on her blog or here about it. Otherwise, she ends up like every other blogger/author/celebrity (CJ Mahaney, Driscoll, T. Jones, etc.) that believes they are above “answering questions” when their readers and supporters ask them.

  42. Adam Borsay wrote:

    One of the problems I have always had with the “emergent” and “progressive” movements within Christianity is my perception of a lack of truly Biblically based non-negotiables

    In the case of Jones’ supporters, there is one non-negotiable: money.

  43. @ Banannie: I don’t know the history of Justin and drama at SCCL, except that I keep reading that there was some troubling things that he did. I do believe him when he says he was corresponding with Rachel, only because of how MPT came into that thread guns blazing to defend her. I’m going to ask if he’ll show me the messages.

  44. Sensible wrote:

    past few days readers were still able to leave comments on her Facebook page. Now it seems she is removing those, too.

    Why? This makes no sense. Doesn’t she care about opposing points of view?

  45. @ Lydia:

    Straighten out your thinking cap friend! You know why they ignore the report and won’t respond to Julie. They have too much to lose! That vein is where their income comes from.

  46. Bridget wrote:

    Otherwise, she ends up like every other blogger/author/celebrity (CJ Mahaney, Driscoll, T. Jones, etc.) that believes they are above “answering questions” when their readers and supporters ask them.

    i have to admit that I am surprised how this is playing out.

  47. dee wrote:

    Why? This makes no sense. Doesn’t she care about opposing points of view?

    You would think she’d do the smart thing and not only leave the comments on Facebook alone, but also reopen the conversation on her blog if she really didn’t want to break trust with her readers.

  48. @ Bridget:

    I know, I came from a world like that but I will admit I am a bit surprised in HOW RHE has handled this considering her past writings. How badly she has handled this is a huge risk since her name is her brand. But it is almost too late now. She will have to replace a lot of followers because "authenticity" was a big part of her shtick. She has risked a lot for someone with serious NPD. Amazing. She really has no excuse. That nakedpastor post has been up since Sept of 14. She has chosen to be ignorant of Julie's side.

  49. Sensible wrote:

    Nadia’s digital pitchforks and ignorant-mob-of-internet-strangers rant, Rachel posted this really vague tweet about “online harassment” and promptly deleted it…I am really not liking how they are re-framing the conversation to position themselves and TJ as the real “victims” of his ex-wife’s abuse allegations.

    Good night! Digital pitchforks. I have news for all of them. They have produced their own share of controversy through the years. Its time to pull on their big girl panties and be willing to face criticism. We do.

  50. @ dee:

    I am too! I hope Rachel isn’t surprised with the response she is getting. Is she prepared to lose support? is the real question.

  51. Julie Mac, you are welcome. I wish you’d gotten the kind of support back then that you are receiving now, but then again … I’ve learned that God’s providential timing plus our tenacity in persevering sometimes brings unexpectedly incredible surprises!

    And Dee, thanks. I’ve been sitting here for the last hour, working on some more “thought pieces” that I think will be of help. Here’s one …

    Meanwhile, for what it is worth, from trends I’ve been tracking across spiritual abuse survivor communities the past five years, I’m not at all surprised by the turmoil now facing Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber for partnering with Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt via their JoPa enterprise. I was caught off guard a bit by the immediacy of the response to the news release about XN15, but not at the ferocity of challenge to the two women who will be curating the event.

    Here’s why: I believe that the onslaught of exposure of alleged or confirmed celebrity spiritual abusers the past few years has radicalized abuse survivors, plus their advocates and other supporters. We seem to have hit the tipping point, and that won’t likely be scaling back. We’ve learned more about systems, and how abusive people in power keep themselves in power in part through partnerships — as well as through various ways of grooming recruits to bring them in, conditioning/rewarding them to keep them there, and gaslighting them to keep them from whistleblowing.

    And as communities, we’re increasing in our refusal to put up with the Christian Consumerism System’s hypocrisy any longer. We’re done with the mega-dramas because we got overloaded from them with Haggard and Gothard and Mahaney and BJU and IBLP and SGM and Vision Forum and Mars Hill and Yoder and and and. But rather than opt out, there’s more willingness to push back. Some are doing the background research and narrative documentation to make an irrefutable case about the abuse. Others contribute to the theological or pastoral care aspects. Others bring their voice and “digital dissent” on social media to the matters at hand, and in that process may actually be finding their voice.

    Anyway, for a while now I’ve been expecting this kind of increased level of push-back on these “Commender” associates, partner organizations, publishers, event venues, etc. In the bigger scheme of things, their commendations and financial obligations keep alleged spiritual abusers afloat and undeservedly continuing in public positions of power and being seen as role models. As I see it, Commenders are the glue that helps hold a Christian Industrial Complex together — they have complicity (i.e., are accomplices) if they keep propping up perpetrators of abuse. And the online pressure is aimed at causing this toxic system to come unglued.

    And I simply don’t think those in Commender roles who lend their credibility by their connections will be able to slip on past situations like this any longer. But, I suspect that those who want to maintain trust with their current and potential constituents will need to take allegations and investigations seriously. Sadly, I don’t see yet that this is the case on the current situation.

    More about “Commenders,” which includes this favorite quote from Dutch philosopher-theologian Erasmus, who said, “He who allows oppression shares the crime.”

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/commenders-who-prop-up-and-perpetuate-an-authoritarian-system/

  52. I stand with Julie McMahon! I’m having dinner and typing this on my Android when I get home I have a lot of thoughts on this situation.

  53. I wish that someone in the know would make an official statement regarding why MPT is taking the same line as NBW and RHE.

    The thing is, it would help if someone did some responsible investigative journalism on it all. I am very uncomfortable with how everything has been unfolding.

  54. I should note that beginning with our communications in 2010, #ibelievejulie — I did then and I do now. And unlike TJ’s friends including MPT, RHE & others, I’ve actually communicated with both of them.

  55. @ dee:

    Don’t both of these women have a huge internet following and use the internet for self promotion? But, GOSH, don’t question them or their decisions.

  56. @ dee:

    Deebs….you guys have more balls than many so called men in American Christianity today. You guys are brave!

  57. @ numo:
    MPT, RHE and Nadia all claim to have seen documents that prove TJ is not an abuser ( not sure if this means the physical abuse he is accused of or the emotional gaslighting abuse that scores of people in the NakedPastor blog admitted to taking part in). MPT says he saw these documents “years ago” and none of them believe it is necessary to speak to Julie.

  58. I am prepared for the incoming attacks. I have turned this over….actually, the Holy Spirit took this over somewhere around commenter 200 or so on the Naked Pastor’s blog post What Came First the Pathology or the Theology. I had to jump in having observed close up and personal the pathology driving the theology. I called it out as, “No longer about God, it’s about ego and greed and book deals…talk of building a platform.” I was no longer NS (narcissistic supply) but calling it out. David Hayward had the courage to let me speak. Refusing the cave to legal threats like so many for years before him did cave. I know what’s coming and I’m ready. This is spiritual warfare. My friend Barb had a dream in 2007. Came over the next morning, “Tony, you and your family are in great danger. Emergent is not of God.” Then my parents came over a few months later confronting him, “A darkness has entered this home.” Tony would not listen to any if it. He had skillfully used gas lighting tactics to make me look crazy at times…in 2008 I thought I was losing my mind. I knew he was screwing someone…and was told, “You’re so insecure.” I wanted to die. Not suicidal. Just disappear. Doug Pagitt tried to spin me crazy and suicidal. No! Learning your husband betrayed you triggers an appropriate response of despair. I was stonewalled as he traveled 250 days a year silver elite Delta airline status and emailed him venting A LOT tony tried to spin my sheer volume of emails as proof I’m nuts. Nope, I’m not. Things have been cherry picked out of context and loads of gas lighting so in the days to come I will need to fill in all gaping holes to the “company line” I don’t blame the speakers. I blame the ones serving kool-aid. The Holy Spirit is guiding this…it will all come out….I would like the opportunity to tell what happened. And, not have someone take an out if context snapshot, “He actually overpaid child support.” When if you heard why/how/what I pay him now monthly you would agree ONLY a brilliant, wealthy, xian celebrity with a lot to lose narcissist could have made that so. Thank you for your support. I am going to need it in the days to come.

  59. MPT and I spoke today. I perceive he was awakened to the other side if the story. Did I get that right, MPT?

  60. Another theory I have(intertwined with my earlier thoughts) on why people like RHE are not speaking out with TJ, or, at least, avoiding sharing the stage with them….

    From my observations, many of the “champions” of different types of victims(race, gender, etc) are not champions of victims as a whole as much as they are standing in opposition to a particular belief system/political system/theological position. The “victims” that they champion for are generally convenient living illustrations to help them prove their point that “this” position is wrong.

    If Julie had been married to Driscoll, and the scenario was EXACTLY the same, how much you want to bet RHE would be alllll over that. But, Julie was married to a champion of RHE’s preferred “camp”. Therefore, there is no hay to be made there. She, like so many others, has built a career out of being the antagonist against some perceived(or real) injustice. And, it has created a niche market that they operate within. So when a victim falls outside of the realm of being helpful to the marketing plan, they are ignored.

  61. Another FWIW “thought piece” that I hope will be helpful in seeing the big-picture significance of what is happening right now with this situation.

    Here is an excerpt from a post I wrote three years ago for Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month, January 2012. This is from a section on three trends dealing with what I thought might happen with what’s now more commonly being called the “[Christian] Industrial Complex.” Or substitute [Evangelical, Emergent, Progressive, etc.], depending on the “brand.” The reality is, reputations are now noticeably interdependent, though they’ve always been. Hence the biblical command and caution of 1 Timothy 5:22 (paraphrasing) not to lay hands suddenly on anyone or else you end up sharing in their sin if they go south.

    Anyway, the excerpt is from trend #4, but I refer to #2 and 3, so here they are:

    2. No virtual pass for abusive actions by leaders.

    3. More “citizen journalist” reports with detailed documentation of alleged spiritual abuse.

    4. Expanding the concept of accountability to “system partners” that enable abusive behavior by celebrity Christians. For those with a national or international ministry platform, the borders of “local” in their local church have changed. And with a broader public ministry comes legitimately increased scrutiny. If my sense of the previous two trends is at all accurate, then it should also make sense that there is growing pressure to start holding accountable not just those Christians who are in the public eye yet who speak and behave in very questionable – if not outright toxic – ways, but also the partners who stand behind them, promote them, and facilitate them gaining or continuing their platforms.

    Here I am thinking of various entities that enhance the status of high-profile Christians: publishing houses that pay and promote big-name authors, venues that run conferences and speaking engagements, non-profit agencies and ministry associations that offer directorships and advisory positions, and other kinds of media sources. These businesses and organizations are acting in a sort of apostolic role, commending to the larger Body of Christ the celebrities they stand behind. They are vouching for the character and qualifications of their authors-speakers-representatives-promotees. As endorsers of high-profile Christians, they, too, are inviting legitimate scrutiny. […]

    I believe in the next few years we will see intensified efforts to hold these organizations – and their boards of directors, staff members, apostles, elders, shareholders – partially responsible for the harm done by those whom they metaphorically laid hands on and recognized and endorsed as qualified for public leadership. I’m not advocating or expecting that all such issues be hammered out in the court system or on the internet. But, if face-to-face confrontations and attempts at reconciliation fail, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see some traditional and emerging indicators of social resistance take their place: civil suits filed against non-profit institutions, online petitions demanding change, boycotts of products, Twitter campaigns, synchro-blogs, etc.

    This brings up theological issues about taking fellow followers of Christ to court to settle what should be settled within the church, but again, I’m looking at situations that are no longer centered in “local” churches because of the larger systems of businesses and/or non-profits involved. But the larger issue will still need to be addressed: Perpetrators and enablers of evil cannot count on their victims remaining silent …

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/spiritual-abuse-awareness-month-emerging-issues-2012/

  62. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Commenders are the glue that helps hold a Christian Industrial Complex together — they have complicity (i.e., are accomplices) if they keep propping up perpetrators of abuse. And the online pressure is aimed at causing this toxic system to come unglued.

    This comment by Brad should be reposted at regular intervals on various threads regarding spiritual abusers and their Commenders until the Commenders acknowledge their complicity and repent. All of you Emergents and all of the YRR fanboys and fangirls need to wake up and stop supporting the perpetrators and their enablers.

    We must dismantle the systems and and refute the doctrines that perpetuate abuse and excuse abusers. Participate in those efforts or participate in the abuses resulting from them.

  63. @ Sadie:
    Like i said, i would like to see some reliable investigative journalism on this. All of it. Not saying i disbelieve Julie, but the whole NP thread (and more) troubles me.

  64. I will not follow up with anyone. Tony Jones is dastardly. I have no ties to him, or Julie. Statements presented as factual in open forums uncloaked as stretched truth in private conversations. Initially, this was about Julie. Other agendas are now in play. Be very careful who you trust.

  65. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    4. Expanding the concept of accountability to “system partners” that enable abusive behavior by celebrity Christians. For those with a national or international ministry platform, the borders of “local” in their local church have changed. And with a broader public ministry comes legitimately increased scrutiny.

    Another worthy post from Brad. No more hiding behind your buddies, whether male or female, and your publishing houses and even your churches.

  66. Bill? Thank you for having me back way way back when I was “bat shit” crazy according to the Emergent followers whom I’d never even met. @ Bill Kinnon:

  67. To new commenters:

    The TWW filter always puts first time commenters into moderation. We are having an influx of new commenters. I really want to go to bed. I will approve comments after I get my first cup of Joe in the morning.

  68. The_Prisoner wrote:

    Be very careful who you trust.

    I follow Ronald Reagan in the trust department: trust but verify. This is why we give lots of links and call them allegations.

  69. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If Julie had been married to Driscoll, and the scenario was EXACTLY the same, how much you want to bet RHE would be alllll over that. But, Julie was married to a champion of RHE’s preferred “camp”. Therefore, there is no hay to be made there

    So true. Remember Mohler being all huffy and puffy about Paterno? Yet when his buddy CJ is the topic, the narrative totally changes.

    I will not stop thanking the Deebs for being consistent. That is essential for credibility. There are no boundaries that abuse cannot cross or doctrines which immunize from abuse.

  70. numo wrote:

    MPT and NBW are also primarily writers, not bloggers

    Exactly! During the Driscoll and SGM scandals, none of them did any real legwork in terms of exposing corruption…that was completely the work of the “little” bloggers, the ignorant “mob” with “digital pitchforks” as Nadia would frame it. RHE and other “big” platform authors were happy to step in after the fact and comment on SGM and Driscoll, because these organizations were not members of their own “camp.”

  71. Thank you for putting everything together. I remember reading the initial comments on Naked Pastor’s blog and feeling disgusted by everything Julie had said happened to her. I believed Julie then, I believe Julie now.

    Then I sat over the weekend trying to put together everything that was going on. I felt numb and disappointed at the response by young Christian authors that I have grown to respect. I have been disappointed by the lack of respect for a victim of abuse and the perceived circling of wagons that was often spoken negatively of by these authors who were now seemingly participating in.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I wish nothing but the best for Julie and that her story continue to be heard.

  72. dee wrote:

    Good night! Digital pitchforks. I have news for all of them. They have produced their own share of controversy through the years. Its time to pull on their big girl panties and be willing to face criticism. We do.

    Haha! Exactly. I normally don’t comment often here, but I read plenty, and I doubt they would be able to handle some of the conversations that happen here (or being called children of “Stan” or “Satin”). They don’t even have a clue what to do when someone like Julie asks for a civil, legitimate dialogue.

  73. Gram3 wrote:

    This comment by Brad should be reposted at regular intervals on various threads regarding spiritual abusers and their Commenders until the Commenders acknowledge their complicity and repent. All of you Emergents and all of the YRR fanboys and fangirls need to wake up and stop supporting the perpetrators and their enablers.

    And think of the victims who have gone to the “commenders” for help! I think of the Petry’s going to Piper and Julie reaching out to Doug Pagitt just off the top of my head.

    I bet there are many stories like these. To be educated about how it works would save folks a lot of horror.

  74. I don’t know why any one is surprised. Matthew Turner’s condescending attitude seemed aimed largely atoning for his former naive conservative Evangelical life (not in a damaging way like Frank Schaeffer, but still working).

    Now watch who shows up at Wild Goose this summer. If you’re going to get angry about Piper showing up with SGM leaders, it’s time to realize that the leftist version are fine showing up with Jones, Schaeffer, and others.

  75. Eagle wrote:

    @ dee:
    Deebs….you guys have more balls than many so called men in American Christianity today. You guys are brave!

    Without commenting about the so-called men in American Christianity or the state of their anatomical equipment, I would like to respectfully disagree and merely observe that the Deebs have shown that they do not need said equipment.

    I will also observe that it is time for RHE to show that she is herself a Woman of Valor. Like the Deebs.

  76. @ Sensible:
    It’s not just that. None of them do investigative journalism, and i think that expecting them to fill that role isn’t fair. Some people are cut out to do what Dee and Deb do, but I’ll be honest – i couldn’t. And i don’t think it is right to expect that all people pursue that same path.

    Just because someone writes does NOT mean they’re cut out for investigative journalism, and although i don’t think any of these folks have hadled things well i feel very uncomfortable about taking potshots at them re. their regular gigs. Writing is not easy, and has to be pursued in isolation. It’s not exactly an easy job.

  77. Landed in moderation again for quoting somebody. So I shall edit and try again:
    Eagle wrote:

    Deebs….you guys have more ba!!s than many so called men in American Christianity today. You guys are brave!

    Without commenting about the so-called men in American Christianity or the state of their anatomical equipment, I would like to respectfully disagree and merely observe that the Deebs have shown that they do not need said equipment.

    I will also observe that it is time for RHE to show that she is herself a Woman of Valor. Like the Deebs.

  78. numo wrote:

    It’s not just that. None of them do investigative journalism

    100% agreed. I think that’s why a lot of people wish RHE had thought twice before claiming to have conducted a thorough “investigation.” A lot of people with writing gigs are refusing to admit that aren’t cut out for said “investigations.”

  79. @ Sensible:
    You know, i don’t want to get into this any more than i already have. The whole mess is just sad. And let’s face it, people are sitting on the sideline and passing the popcorn.

    I don’t like any of it.

  80. Almost as sordid and Byzantine as a Hollywood breakup.
    Glitterati are glitterati (to use Gram3’s descriptor) I guess, and it don’t make a dime’s worth of difference what side of the aisle they come from. Thing is, their odds of getting caught with their drawers down are much greater cuz’ they live under the lime lights that most of us little Volk don’t.
    Held-Evans & Bolz-Weber (as the Deebs and others have suggested) have a golden opportunity to do the homework and then do the right thing if the homework warrants it.
    Question is, will they?

  81. Hello all.

    I am going to screen cap my conversation with RHE. I would like not to since it’s a private conversation via Facebook message and considering the stupid past decisions I made a year ago that I am still apparently paying for, it woul be rather stalkery and wrong of me to feature a private conversation. But if that’s what it takes for people to trust me.

    What is sick and dark about that story? Guessing you didn’t read the whole way through. It’s no worse than anything Dean Koontz’s or Stephen King has written.

    I get not trusting me and no one owes me forgiveness or trust, but I will say I am sorry an I hope in time to prove I’ve changed as many who were hurt by my actions have seen and reconciled with me over the past year.

    I don’t ask to be in the middle of this thing with Rachel and Julie and I kinda wish that Rachel had never messaged me. I don’t need Julie to prove herself to me and I’m not interested in causing trouble for her with my past disputes with anyone.

  82. Its my understanding that Brian McLaren’s roots are in the Gathering of Believers, you know the precursor to SGM.

  83. I read some of this over the weekend and was disappointed. My feeling is that RHE is making the same mistakes Mark Dever and Al Mohler made about CJ Mahaney. If RHE is going to go this route I wondered if some of the claims that RHE made about Mark Driscoll or SGM are legitimate or if she jumped on the controversy and used it to propel herself. I cannot understand how she can be so strong on abuse victims in one camp and then ignore one in her own. If she refuses to change course, and work things out with Julie McMahon then I think her integrity is compromised and that her word is worthless. This really troubles me and if MPT and others are going to go the same route then their ability to criticize Mark Driscoll has also been compromised. And their word hold no weight.

  84. The other thing that concerns me is that if RHE, MPT and others are going to go this way and ignore Julie McMahon then they can also help contribute to Mark Driscoll relaunching his ministry. How or why? Well…when RHE and MPT ability to successfully criticize has been neutered by their support of Tony Jones or RHE, then Mark Driscoll will be able to latch on to that and use that to further discredit them. Plus he can also say that their prior criticisms are worthless or nothing after they have been discredited.

    That is the two things that bother by about this blind loyalty that some have to RHE or TJ. One it can help fuel Mark Driscoll’s comeback in the future. 2. Who in their right mind would not support a domestic abuse victim? especially a Christian pastor? Do you think any of the people in the EV are going to come forward about domestic abuse in the wake of this? No! Its like someone in SGM or CHBC coming forward.

  85. Eagle wrote:

    Its my understanding that Brian McLaren’s roots are in the Gathering of Believers, you know the precursor to SGM.

    Didn’t know that. As others have noted, the connections are eerie.

  86. Its my understanding (and correct me if I am wrong) but Doug Paggit is supported by Greg Boyd. If that is the case I wonder where Greg Boyd stands in this mess. This spooks me out because I liked his word about doubt and the Problem of Evil which I encountered in my faith crisis. Is Greg Boyd going to call out this camp? Or will he turn a blind eye and ignore them? Can anyone speak to this or am I off my rocker?

  87. Michael Newnham made the following observation in point #10 of his “Things I Think” post today:

    The emergent community is going through a scandal that simply proves that when book deals and conferences are on the line progressives are as repressive as they claim fundamentalists are…

  88. Let me also state this…I think the EV is really a pure reaction to fundamentalism. I see Neo-Calvinism and EV as a vicious cycle with each one feeding off each other and reacting to each other. Now fundamentalism comes in many forms. You can find fundamentalism in politics, clubs, hobbies, heck even the Poodle Club of Northern Virginia or the Pug Rescue in Raleigh. There are no barriers to fundamentalism. That said the EV has gone so far out there what it shows is how sick American Evangelicalism is today. Both EV and Neo-Calvinism show how sick and diseased American Evangelicalism is as a movement there is no middle ground, no common sense, just two bipolar extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum of each other.

  89. @ Eagle:

    Eagle,

    this is why I give little cred to “Christian” personalities or those making a living off being a Christian personality– including pastors. I have seen this happen over and over. Now, I WILL refer to an interesting scholar here and there but I just cannot get caught up in the cult of personality anymore. The folks I have the most respect for are the ones doing the hard work of seeking truth without asking for a penny. Like TWW and others.

    You will notice that those who have made the LBGT cause their signature pet doctrine are the ones most unwilling to hear Julie out. I find that full of irony. Tony Jones even used his “sacramental” marriage to his “spiritual wife” to promote that cause. he said on his blog that if gays cannot get benefits then he and his spiritual wife won’t get benefits. Wow, makes sacramental marriage to a spiritual wife sound so holy. But she was his “spiritual wife” when he was legally married, dontch know.

    I hope his “spiritual wife” is well off and has separate accounts. She certainly has not thought this one through. What I cannot understand is why RHE did not see through the “spiritual wife” thing. Did that even raise a red flag for her when she “thoroughly investigated” this? Is this the new normal?

    This whole thing is not unlike the fundy cartel and their pet profitable doctrines and circles of like minded that keep them from being willing to give the victims the time of day. Same stuff.

    Follow the money yes, but I am still hoping the “curated” conference is a bust.

  90. @ Amy Smith:

    Yup that is him. Senior Pastor of Woodland Hills, and one of the best theologians on the Problem of Evil. He is a teacher at Bethel College, heck I know someone who studied under him. Roger Olson is close to Greg Boyd. Greg Boyd is John Piper’s arch nemesis. Why John Piper and Tim Challies haven’t burned him at the stake by now and issued a fatwa for his death because of his beliefs on open theism is beyond me – especially given their fundamentalism 2.0 mindset. Many Neo-Calvinists hate Boyd because of Open Theism. Piper has tried to get him kicked out of the Greater Baptist Conference and get him fired from Bethel. Boyd, from my understanding is going in the Mennonite Direction, and taking Woodland Hills in that direction. There is a disturbing scandal about one of one of the main Mennonite theologians – John Howard Yoder – who I hope the Deebs will write about. Yoder was involved in horrific sexual abuse and the Mennonites covered it up I think. Dee would know more Amy.

  91. “Rachel, you owe to Julie to contact her. Of course it is “appropriate”. For crying out loud.” Lydia

    Heck ya Lydia. I am with you. As I said earlier, ” I am stunned that RHE is deleting comments and sticking to her guns, so to speak.

    I have wondered if she has sat down one on one with Julie to hear her side to the story?
    If not, would she?

    WILL YOU RACHEL?

    For all the people who have been spiritually abused, will you, for the love of God, just hear Julie out?

  92. I have to get this off my chest to…as this troubles me about RHE. I think in some of her theology she has gone to far…and drifted too far. For example I looked at a couple of a “Ask a ____” series. Now its important to know, be educated and speak to people of opposite points of view, but at some point you also need to make a decision.

    For example let me illustrate. There are many in the EV camp that view Mormonism as Christian. They don’t view it as a cult. Now at some point you have to make a decision regardless of where ever you stand about Joseph Smith. He’s a prophet of God or he’s a fraud. There is no middle ground with Joseph Smith. I had to wrestle with this when I was on the cusp of converting to Mormonism when I was 22 or so. And after thinking and wrestling with it I decided he is not a prophet and the system fell down, because in the end it all rises or falls upon Joseph Smith. And many people are afraid to speak up and call a spade a spade.

    Now does that mean you are argumentative, rude, pick a fight or belittle a Mormon? Absolutely not…as I would never tell a Mormon to their face or in a conversation that they are in a sect or cult. And I fear that the EV or RHE has gone to far to accommodate Mormons are reinforce their theology.

    Please understand I am not trying to be difficult, I am just trying to express this concern I have about RHE.

  93. Amy Smith wrote:

    @ Eagle:
    Is this the Greg Boyd you are referring to? Here’s his tweet on the matter: https://twitter.com/greg_boyd/status/556749470814461953
    @greg_boyd: @StuffCCLikes @henryimler True, but Stephanie, we don’t know who “the victim” is until all allegations are thoroughly investigated.

    They have had olenty if time to investigate over the last 6 years. Julie has begged for an investigation for years. No one would listen to her. She was dismissed without being heard. NOW they don’t know/need to investigate who the real victim is. Un.believ.able.

  94. @ Gail:

    Totally agree Grandmother. Abuse is abuse is abuse. I don’t care if its in the Boy Scouts, SGM, the Roman Catholic faith or the Poodle Club of Northern Virginia. Abuse is abuse and needs to be exposed. It thrives in silence and thrives in darkness.

  95. Amy Smith wrote:

    @ Eagle:

    Is this the Greg Boyd you are referring to? Here’s his tweet on the matter: https://twitter.com/greg_boyd/status/556749470814461953

    @greg_boyd: @StuffCCLikes @henryimler True, but Stephanie, we don’t know who “the victim” is until all allegations are thoroughly investigated.

    How is Tony the victim when he had a “spiritual wife” while legally married? His “she is mentally ill” shtick was so he could rationalize a “spiritual wife” but it did not work. But he might be the victim?

    Being gaslighted for years creating chaos and confusion is enough to make anyone emotionally off balance. That is what NPD’s do. Their goal is to keep you emotionally off balance.

    I am wondering how people think an “investigation” will occur? The man has an off the chart diagnosis of NPD. That colors everything. One cannot just look at court documents. An NPD (former police chaplain, too) is more clever than that. He called the police when her kid used her phone to text him. The court documents will show SHE violated the agreement. And that is what he meant for it to show so when you look it up, you will say, poor Tony. Dealing with this stuff is dealing with pure evil.

    I have spent some time dealing with the ex wives of similar type pastors. They don’t dare tell their stories because they believe they will lose their kids for good and worse, no child support if there is no income. Their ex’s have power, position and lots of people who believe them and stand by them. I have seen some nasty tactics meant to put the other person in a horrible light. That is why both sides have to be heard. Tony has bully pulpits, title, position and social media with thousands of followers. He gets instant cred from that. What does Julie have? Her life was in that tribe that believed him!

    Julie tells her side in blog comments and she hears from his lawyers about hurting his ability to earn a living because he makes a living as a Christian personality.

    It would be nice to know what sort of investigation people are expecting and how it would be carried out. NPD’s deal in bringing chaos and confusion so they can look like the ‘sane’ one. Can you imagine trying to tell that story or investigate years of that? I think she was very lucky to get that diagnosis. It is rare an NPD will agree to being evaluated. I cannot even imagine where she would start. She has had to heal from a PSTD diagnosis, deal with being poverty level single mom with 3 kids and so on. Sheesh!

    Disappointed in Boyd but not surprised. Again, another “Christian Personality”.

  96. Wow! Even Greg Boyd is promoting the conference.

    St Paul, MN
    Greg Boyd @greg_boyd · Jan 17
    THIS looks like s great conference! http://NadiaAndRachel.com . @rachelheldevans @Sarcasticluther” @TheJoPaGroup
    View conversation 0 replies 8 retweets 15 favorites

  97. Another element of this situation that I don’t like: proponents of TJ’s conference are trying to use the speakers as hostages or bargaining chips, claiming that “women’s voices will be silenced” if people boycott the JoPa event. That is ridiculous! How can any self-respecting feminist claim that these female speakers will never find a platform unless male “theological provocateur” Jones hands it to them on a silver platter?

  98. @ Lydia:

    Tony is not the victim…he is the perpetrator IMO. What makes this disturbing, and believe me the entire situation is disturbing is the following. He was a Chaplin for the Police at the time this all happened. He had the power and utilized the system to his advantage and he abused it. Its like a military officer making a false accusation, or abusing his power and you can understand why rape and sexual assault is a pervasive issue in the US military.

  99. @ Eagle:

    I think the EV is really a pure reaction to fundamentalism. I see Neo-Calvinism and EV as a vicious cycle with each one feeding off each other and reacting to each other. … Both EV and Neo-Calvinism show how sick and diseased American Evangelicalism is as a movement there is no middle ground, no common sense, just two bipolar extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum of each other.

    Infinite like.

  100. Re Tony Jones and Courtney an old saying comes to mind: “If they’ll do it with you [an affair], they’ll do it to you [an affair].”

    I have seen that very thing play out countless times in life.

  101. On Twitter Boyd is endorsing the conference. I’m disgusted with Greg Boyd. Really disgusted. I haven;t used Twitter in a while but now started to use it again.

  102. Amy Smith….you really do get this, don’t you?! Of course, he cherry picked some docs that make me look like a loon and then he is the victim. The suffering spouse. Without the understanding of the full diagnosis and the gas lighting that accompanies it, this story is lost. No, you can’t investigate what happened at 6pm tonight. Just one story of a thousand….I went to pick up my child and he wasn’t there. His father took him and would not return him. His visitation is Tuesday only, and the proverbial every other weekend. I was mad having not seen my son all weekend and he was away today on a retreat. I asked the police to please meet me at his house to be an escort as I get my son. Knowing if I showed up I may be set up for an arrest. The officer instead of meeting me at the corner as I asked, first went alone to the door and spoke to silver-tongued, hunting buddy, chili fest host, police chaplain Tony. Then the officer came to me and was very aggressive. It was something out of the twilight zone. He ended up saying to me, “Okay, dear. We don’t get involved in civil matters why don’t you grow up?” So, I don’t have my son. Tony tipped him off (he’s 14) to his mom on-line bullying him, and my son says he will now live with dad. Tony having had a narcissistic injury to the truth gone viral has shored up his supply now with a 14 year old proxy. Tomorrow I call my lawyer and fight another day to get him home before further Parental Alienation. Welcome to my life. This is weekly. It is a living hell.

  103. My Tweets to Boyd, RHE, JoPas, and NBZ.

    1. Boyd is making similar mistake Dever, Mohler have done in supporting CJ Mahaney

    2. I stand with Julie McMahon. RHE lost credibility to talk about SGM or other abuse

    3. No respect for Boyd due to support RHE, TJ. From SGM Survivors – EV Survivors!

  104. .

        *   *
       *   *
       *
      *
    *
    __

    Revolution: “The Internet Is Watching!”

    Intro:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWbU6021L7c

    hmmm…

    Many today are doing their own background research and narrative documentation, making an irrefutable case for themselves about these type(s) of abuse. 

    Thankfully other folks are getting involved as well and contributing to such things as the theological or pastoral care aspects of abuse. 

    Others still, are bringing their voices and “digital dissent” onto social media…and in the process, finding a ‘voice’ for this ‘concern’ as well.

    Praise You Jesus !

    **

    Julie McMahon,

    Salut !

    You have love and support here from your new found friends here at Wartburg Watch. Talk is cheap, invite us to show ‘you’ the love of Christ afresh.  Please feel free to tell your story…

    *

    The God I serve owns the cattle on a thousand hills, please continue making your needs know to Him, I can assure you, He is listening…

    (tears)

    Le monde entier Regarde !

    God Speed.

    Sopy
    ___
    Exit music: Jean-Michel Jarre – Live in Monaco (The complete concert)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhrOkO3naaI

    😉

  105. @ Julie McMahon:

    So sorry, Julie.

    I don’t understand how, if you have custody on this day, the police can refuse to help you retrieve your son? Isn’t this obstruction by the police officer?

  106. @ Sensible:

    If the allegations and overall interpretations from Julie’s perspective are substantially accurate (and I believe they are, from my following of this situation since late 2009, along with extensive research into the dynamics of spiritual abuse) then the reality is that one woman’s voice has already been silenced by the Progressive/Emergent machine.

    Perhaps it would be wiser now to address that situation first with conscientiousness and diligence instead of crassness and dismissiveness. With that always in tow, pursuing a strategy of flipping tables so abuser/victim roles are reversed comes across as foolish and vindictive.

    Meanwhile, I suspect that a series of still unanswered, unresponded to, unresolved questions will emerge over the next few days to weeks, in part, because the same issues have come up perhaps 2 or 3 times again since first being raised in late 2009 and early 2010. Seems to me this may be the final opportunity to resolve things without escalating to even more dire decisions and consequences.

    Anyway, I do believe Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans spoke too quickly rather than measuredly, for whatever combination of reasons. I’m willing to give both of these WX15 curators a second chance and grace here, and I hope others are, too. [I know they’re not answerable to me as an individual, but they are public figures in the Church and therefore responsible to it.]

    Think about how this extreme push-back may have caught them off guard, and backlashed them into reaction mode at the very time when they should’ve been able to rejoice in what they’d co-created. But, I don’t know that they have much time left, though, for a “time out” period to work through emerging questions; and the possibilities for a more open, probing investigation of the issues involved; and considering the enormous implications. After all, the reputations of a lot of men and women are at stake here — including their own — as are issues of justice awaited — including for Julie McMahon.

  107. A bit off subject, I took care of this lady back in the 80’s, she was very intelligent and receptive to interaction. The fact that she had some rather “offensive” behaviors she was somewhat of a Renoir with shall we say bodily waist.That stuff never really bothered me I would get showered in the stuff at times. This lady had some other really strange behaviors, because of the neurological issues fused with the developmental and mental illness issues she use to hurt herself. I use to ask for prayer concerning her but had to keep it vague do to confidentiality. I wont go into what I was told about her and me. The whole Satan, possessed, exorcism nonsense, and it is total nonsense. The fallen humans had medication and behavior modification and it worked with her eventually.

    A defining moment in life, she was very agitated, we were at lunch, she had already taken out one eye with a fork or knife I think it was, she got a hold of a fork and went right for her one remaining eye, my left hand got there first. I still have the marks on the back of my left hand, she went almost to the bone. It was not the first time I put a body part between a client and some object like the floor or a car door they were going to knock themselves out on. I have gotten good at putting my fingers back in the joints.

    You know this woman fought so hard for moments of sanity, and I mean she fought. She had more guts and knew more of God than all these high powered clowns either emergent or conservative. Personally I will stand with the “mud” people, just like Jesus.

  108. Julie, for what it is worth, I believe you and though most in the evangelical industry be them emergent or conservative would not consider me a Christian. I ask your forgiveness for what was done to you and yours. Sort of a proxy apology for what it is worth.

  109. There are 11 other women participating in the Rachel Held-Evens Nadia Bolz Weber/JoPa conference.

    Intelligent, compassionate pastoral care-givers.
    I do hope they are following the voices weighing in, the evidence as it unfolds publicly, and that they come to ethical conclusions about participation.

    And I hope Julie’s conversation with Matthew Paul Turner was/is productive. Of all the folk in this drama, I’m most fond of him, and I’d hate to see him closed off to the reality of the situation for personal or professional reasons.

    It is time for Julies story to be told – God’s timing, I think.

    What Brad/futeristguy said:

    “And as communities, we’re increasing in our refusal to put up with the Christian Consumerism System’s hypocrisy any longer. We’re done with the mega-dramas because we got overloaded from them with Haggard and Gothard and Mahaney and BJU and IBLP and SGM and Vision Forum and Mars Hill and Yoder and and and. But rather than opt out, there’s more willingness to push back.
    Some are doing the background research and narrative documentation to make an irrefutable case about the abuse. Others contribute to the theological or pastoral care aspects. Others bring their voice and “digital dissent” on social media to the matters at hand, and in that process may actually be finding their voice.”

    We are being the church…

  110. JeffT wrote:

    All that ‘spiritual wife’ cowpie just to justify an affair.

    This friend speaks my mind.
    Julie McMahon wrote:

    You said it best, “You can’t make this stuff up.” He is ballistic at the story gone semi-viral. Tried to gaslight me TONIGHT by taking my son from where I was to pick him up and refusing to return him. He tried to bait me into contact to try and have me arrested. THIS is what an angry injured NPD does. Nightmare! Thank you for your summary. I will give it to my lawyer. Already threats AGAIN of defamation of character and harassment. The truth is pesky like that. -Julie

    JUlie. I am glad to get your direct input here. I have had to deal with a couple of folks with PDs in my time, & I recognized the pattern immediately. You are a brave woman to fight back against the craziness. God bless you & your kids.

  111. Bridget wrote:

    @ dee:

    I am too! I hope Rachel isn’t surprised with the response she is getting. Is she prepared to lose support? is the real question.

    She already is. At least one commenter here has said they’ve unfollowed her. I’m no longer reading her blog until I get word that she has apologized. The question is, will RHE get it?

  112. Eagle wrote:

    @ Amy Smith:

    There is a disturbing scandal about one of one of the main Mennonite theologians – John Howard Yoder – who I hope the Deebs will write about. Yoder was involved in horrific sexual abuse and the Mennonites covered it up I think. Dee would know more Amy.

    #@$$%#@! First RHE, now Yoder. This must be the weeok of “And another one (of my theological faves) bites the dust.” 🙁

  113. Sensible wrote:

    Given these realities, I am really not surprised by Rachel’s inappropriate and out-of-touch response.

    Precisely. I would not say that everybody who so much as throws a bone in the direction of abused-ness is necessarily a committed advocate for accuracy or justice when there are “professional advantage” issues at play.

  114. He said, “this is a civil matter. We don’t get involved.” Tony had already woo’d him by the time he came to talk to me he had the “look” the “she is bat shit crazy” look. I’ve seen it 100 times. Tony/Doug have run a highly effective smear campaign. @ Eagle:

  115. I’m coming relatively late to this thread in the sense that over 100 comments appeared before I even got up this morning! (Such is the excitement of living on a round planet.) I’ve only skimmed the comments above, so apologies if I’m repeating what one of you has already said perfectly well.

    As a certain J.K. Rowling character stated: it takes courage to stand up to your enemies, but it takes more courage to stand up to your friends. If Rachel Held Evans has stood up in the past for victims of abuse, that’s better than nothing; but perhaps this episode reveals the limits of her courage. No amount of reproof has yet managed to talk sense into Driscoll, but maybe RHE will yet prove to be his better in that regard as more people begin to call her to account.

    Julie: if indeed your story is fair and accurate, I only hope that if it were one of my best pals in the dock, I would have the courage to do the right thing. I might not – I say that, not to condone what RHE is doing, but to apologise as a follower of Jesus to you.

  116. Sadie wrote:

    Julie has more recently been posting at the SCCL FB page. As far as mental illness, Julie claims that during the custody battle/divorce both were given gruelling psych evaluations, and HE is the one diagnosed with a major personality disorder, and she has a clean bill of mental health, although more recently was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the last few years.

    This much is obvious from his blog/replies alone. It’s obvious from miles away that he has some type of personality disorder (narcissist?) None of this is surprising in the least, tbh. In other news, winter is cold and water is wet.

  117. Adam Borsay wrote:

    One of the problems I have always had with the “emergent” and “progressive” movements within Christianity is my perception of a lack of truly Biblically based non-negotiables.

    This is a valuable warning, Adam. I do think the progrergent * movements have had a positive contribution to make, and have almost certainly helped to counterbalance the (equally harmful) far edge of the “resurgence”; and I hope that too many people don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Each generation has a responsibility to ask questions like, We assume our beliefs are all biblical – i.e. that the bible agrees with all our beliefs – but are we sure? Have we checked?

    At the same time, the progrergent types need to ask themselves the same questions, and I hope they do.

    * “Progrergent” isn’t a word, but it should be. Like “Deebs”.

  118. Eagle wrote:

    or example let me illustrate. There are many in the EV camp that view Mormonism as Christian. They don’t view it as a cult. Now at some point you have to make a decision regardless of where ever you stand about Joseph Smith. He’s a prophet of God or he’s a fraud. There is no middle ground with Joseph Smith. I had to wrestle with this when I was on the cusp of converting to Mormonism when I was 22 or so. And after thinking and wrestling with it I decided he is not a prophet and the system fell down, because in the end it all rises or falls upon Joseph Smith. And many people are afraid to speak up and call a spade a spade.

    I don’t even think you have to get to the “Joseph Smith is a fraud” argument any more. The Mormon church has admitted (but not apologized for) that Smith “married” (as in the “spiritual marriage” sense) girls as young as 14 and other men’s wives. So I think you could legitimately say, “Joseph Smith is a serial sexual abuser,” and be done with his so-called prophethood.

  119. Adam Borsay wrote:

    So while they may view an acrimonious divorce as a tragic thing, the simple fact that it even occurred based on such absurd argumentation is completely ignored. And because it WAS accepted, it created the environment where the abuse could occur and flourish.

    Good comment.

  120. Kathi wrote:

    I have been disappointed by the lack of respect for a victim of abuse and the perceived circling of wagons that was often spoken negatively of by these authors who were now seemingly participating in.

    This surprised me as well. It demonstrated that this has very little to do with theology and quite a bit to do with people who seem to use excuses to get what they want-no matter the consequences.

  121. Lydia wrote:

    And think of the victims who have gone to the “commenders” for help! I think of the Petry’s going to Piper and Julie reaching out to Doug Pagitt just off the top of my head.

    Thank you for making my point. Two sides of the theological coin and both sides acting poorly.

  122. Eeyore wrote:

    First RHE, now Yoder. This must be the weeok of “And another one (of my theological faves) bites the dust.”

    The news of Yoder’s abuse has been “out there” for decades. Wikipedia says it wasn’t publicly acknowledged until 1992. I think it just hasn’t reached the right forums to be more publicly dispersed.

    The Memmonites and Amish have huge problems with sexual abuse cover ups. It just isn’t as widely known yet.

  123. David wrote:

    Now watch who shows up at Wild Goose this summer. If you’re going to get angry about Piper showing up with SGM leaders, it’s time to realize that the leftist version are fine showing up with Jones, Schaeffer, and others.

    This is a good comment and continues to make my point.

  124. Gram3 wrote:

    I would like to respectfully disagree and merely observe that the Deebs have shown that they do not need said equipment.

    Best laugh during my coffee time!

  125. Sensible wrote:

    I think that’s why a lot of people wish RHE had thought twice before claiming to have conducted a thorough “investigation.”

    The only thing we can make judgements on is what has been said in public. That is why TWWs link to so many sources.

    For me, this goes deeper than who said what. I am looking for the kindness and compassion that was exhibited by Jesus in his ministry. So many times it appears that we seek our own welfare and happiness and everyone else be damned. (Just so our readers know, I will now go into moderation but i can quickly get it out. 🙂 ) BTW-I am including myself in that description.

    Perhaps that is why Hauerwas’ story moved me so much. He was willing to sacrifice his day to day happiness for a greater good.

  126. numo wrote:

    people are sitting on the sideline and passing the popcorn.

    When people go public with their stories, then the public gets to respond. There is much to learn from this situation on both sides of the fence. In fact, I have been thinking about self sacrifice a lot in the past two days.

    For Julie, this is a time that her side of the story is finally being heard. Being heard is sometimes the beginning of healing when someone has been deeply wounded.

  127. Muff Potter wrote:

    Thing is, their odds of getting caught with their drawers down are much greater cuz’ they live under the lime lights that most of us little Volk don’t.

    If you want the fame (and money), then you have to be prepared to have your life looked at-especially if you are claiming that you are living a Christian life.

    One of my oldest friends made me laugh when she told me that she never puts a “fish” symbol on her car because she is an awful driver and doesn’t want people to judge the faith based on her driving.

  128. Ignore for a moment any claims of abuse. Jones is an adulterer and a class “A” d**chebag. How does he expect any man to respect him, let alone listen to him? Frankly, I would have a lot more respect if he just said, “Yeah, I’m tired of my wife, and decided to be with this other woman.” Spinning theological bullsh*t around the deadly sins is comical in young children, nauseating in adults.

  129. @ Justin Hanvey:
    Justin

    Welcome to TWW.

    Just so you know, I have no idea of anything that happened to you a year ago. This is not the circle that I usually write about it. You have always been pleasant to me in the Twitterers and I follow your Tweets.

    This whole mess has been happening for years and it is too bad that those who surrounded Tony Jones did not do more to bring resolution to the situation.

    You are welcome to post anything that you wish here. I empathize with you on the issue of confidentiality. TWW has a policy of not releasing the names of private correspondence unless requested to do so by the writer. We are into strict confidentiality. Please do what you think is right.

  130. In all of this conversation, and a huge amount of good stuff has been brought to the fore, I have not heard anybody use the words ‘sin’ or ‘heresy,’ I get that-about the use of words I mean. What I do not get is how those two concepts have become so ill-favored that we mostly even quit thinking in those terms. Have we let the neo-puritans so abuse the ideas that we have run for cover at the very thought? I would understand that too, but I still think is would be a bad idea to let them so pollute the ideas that the rest of us give them up.

    So, since I am x to the max beyond give-a-rip let me say it. The spiritual wives idea is heresy. Deserting spouse and kids is sinful. And it is still true that one’s sins find them out.

    And in my opinion, since we have dealt with this at my house, NPD and sociopathy sure do look like different points on the same continuum to me.

  131. @ Julie McMahon:

    Welcome to TWW. I am not as familiar with your story as Dee, but this post has helped me catch up.

    Some years ago a friend revealed how her husband intentionally provoked her (knowing that she would have an angry outburst), and he secretly recorded it. Then he shared the audio with the pastors at their church, whom he apparently had wrapped around his finger. They have since divorced.

    Be strong and know we are praying for you.

  132. Sadie wrote:

    MPT, RHE and Nadia all claim to have seen documents that prove TJ is not an abuser

    TJ probably took the documentation of his own diagnosis and created a new version (complete with forged signatures) indicating it was for Julie.

  133. Amy Smith wrote:

    @greg_boyd: @StuffCCLikes @henryimler True, but Stephanie, we don’t know who “the victim” is until all allegations are thoroughly investigated.

    This is where Boyd is wrong. There are proven victims. The children. And Jones was willing to leave them in the care of a woman who he claims (I don’t believe it) is mentally unbalanced. If that is the truth, then Jones cares more about his own well being than that of his children. There is no way for Jones to come out smelling like a rose on this one.

    And it is time for people to wake up and smell the coffee. The children are the key to this situation.That is why tWW always looks at the most vulnerable in all situations.

  134. Lydia wrote:

    This whole thing is not unlike the fundy cartel and their pet profitable doctrines and circles of like minded that keep them from being willing to give the victims the time of day. Same stuff.

    Well said.

  135. Bridget wrote:

    She was dismissed without being heard.

    This makes my very sad. All of us should be heard by those within the Christian community. And so many of us have been silenced.

  136. Lydia wrote:

    have spent some time dealing with the ex wives of similar type pastors. They don’t dare tell their stories because they believe they will lose their kids for good and worse, no child support if there is no income. Their ex’s have power, position and lots of people who believe them and stand by them. I have seen some nasty tactics meant to put the other person in a horrible light. That is why both sides have to be heard. Tony has bully pulpits, title, position and social media with thousands of followers. He gets instant cred from that. What does Julie have? Her life was in that tribe that believed him!

    I know of a well known pastor who divorced his wife and allowed a rumor to circulate that she is mentally ill. I have been told that this is not true. This is an abusive tactic. I am not at liberty to share the story at this point but hope to do so in the future.

    And if any of these guys had any concern for their family beyond their own happiness, they would not allow such rumors to be circulated. Imagine how this hurts the kids. This is wrong.

  137. Sensible wrote:

    TJ’s conference are trying to use the speakers as hostages or bargaining chips, claiming that “women’s voices will be silenced” if people boycott the JoPa event. That is ridiculous!

    Such comments are condescending to females everywhere.

  138. @ brad/futuristguy:
    Rachel Held Evas has contacted me but I am not sure I can share what she said due to our confidentiality statement. I believe she is concerned about the situation but am not sure what that means at this point. I will keep you updated if it is possible.

    6 years ago, I believed a church when they said they had no idea that a now convicted pedophile was behaving inappropriately. I believed that for quite awhile until I was contacted by one of the mothers of the boys who were abused. I learned that my assumptions were wrong. I then became a strong voice for truth which eventually led to this blog.

  139. Regarding John Yoder and abuse

    Eeyore wrote:

    irst RHE, now Yoder. This must be the weeok of “And another one (of my theological faves) bites the dust.”

    I had planned to write the story of John Yoder yesterday but changed my mind last week to cover this story. I will be writing a post on him within the week. It is a shocking story.

  140. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Julie: if indeed your story is fair and accurate, I only hope that if it were one of my best pals in the dock, I would have the courage to do the right thing.

    That is a wonderful comment.

  141. Lydia wrote:

    Being gaslighted for years creating chaos and confusion is enough to make anyone emotionally off balance. That is what NPD’s do. Their goal is to keep you emotionally off balance.

    Yes!

    The last time I spoke to my “christian” marriage counselor, he told me that my ex-h probably has a personality disorder. I suspect NPD. Toward the end of the marriage I finally figured out that my husband was getting pleasure from the emotional abuse.

  142. @ dee:

    Dee. Thanks for that information.

    I’ll be emailing you something shortly on relevant related topic …

  143. Lydia wrote:

    Being gaslighted for years creating chaos and confusion is enough to make anyone emotionally off balance. That is what NPD’s do. Their goal is to keep you emotionally off balance.
    I am wondering how people think an “investigation” will occur? The man has an off the chart diagnosis of NPD. That colors everything. One cannot just look at court documents. An NPD (former police chaplain, too) is more clever than that. He called the police when her kid used her phone to text him. The court documents will show SHE violated the agreement. And that is what he meant for it to show so when you look it up, you will say, poor Tony. Dealing with this stuff is dealing with pure evil.

    Yes. I think a lot of people following this case (myself included) are learning how “gaslighting” works for the first time…it’s an extremely difficult form of abuse to “catch in the act” when you only have one side of the story.

  144. @ Julie McMahon: Julie, I am so sorry for you. I have a NPD business partner and understand how you feel. He works the crowd, is charming, and everyone gets in line to do his bidding. I, too, have been maligned, accused of lying and called crazy. Because of his and his wife’s gaslighting, I will only communicate with them in writing. You’re right, it Is a living hell.
    I will pray for you. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be when you share children. So sorry for you.

  145. To me, the bizarre ‘spiritual wife’ so-called ‘theology’, created solely to justify an affair an affair is enough to warn off any religious association with Tony Jones.

    On the abuse issue, we don’t know the whole story yet but it seems that things may be moving in that direction. As Christians, we are obligated to listen to those who say they are being oppressed and not allow their voices to be silenced. While we may not be in a position to determine the truth, we can demand that those voices be heard and taken seriously by those who are in a position to help bring the truth to light. I’m thankful for the Deebs and the TWW community as a place where this Christian work can be carried out.

  146. One thing that I have learned in my blog and I have some diverse people who read it, Mormons, Muslims, Presbyterians, hard core Pentacostals, SBC, Catholics, Atheists, Agnostics etc……….is how much they are willing to forgive their leadership for whatever they do…..it is like ” We are Christians, we are saved, we don’t care if we lose our witness to others…”
    And those outside the Christian readership pick up on it.
    Sometimes it is shocking…..and embarrassing.

  147. I can certainly understand checking out the credibility of abuse allegations, especially in light of the now-discredited Rolling Stone article alleging a young woman was gang-raped at a University of Virginia fraternity. (For those who hadn’t heard, the university reinstated the fraternity last week after Charlottesville police were unable to confirm the allegations.) In this instance, however, it appears some “progressives” are circling the wagons around Tony Jones in much the same way some neo-Calvinists circled their wagons around C.J. Mahaney.

    I have substantial theological disagreements with Rachel Held Evans but have admired her willingness to speak out against abuse. As of now, I question her credibility in that area.

  148. Another thought – Tony Jones’ “spiritual wife” doctrine could make Todd Bentley and Benny Hinn seem credible by comparison.

  149. singleman wrote:

    I have substantial theological disagreements with Rachel Held Evans but have admired her willingness to speak out against abuse. As of now, I question her credibility in that area.

    As Eagle mentioned earlier, this unfortunately has the potential to make a lot of people outside of RHE’s “camp” look credible (or at least, not as “bad”)…Piper, Driscoll, all sorts of pleasant personalities…

  150. Dear Julie, I get it. I understand. I had a similar divorce and an excommunication with the same deceitful dynamics. No one believed me except the allies I found here at TWW. Their reassurance that I was not crazy and that my lingering pain did not represent an unforgiving spirit was the beginning of a calmness in my heart and healing in my soul, as well a lengthy road to discovering for the first time the grace and love of a God I never knew existed. I also understand the alienation that is occurring between you and your children; I have seen it play out many times now with women in a similar position to yours and mine. Be aware that as the months and possibly years pass, no man can change the truth and eventually your children will be led to the truth because it is the path of least resistance and it is the only conclusion that makes any sense. They will realize that their mother truly loved/loves them. Of this I am sure.

  151. dee wrote:

    I know of a well known pastor who divorced his wife and allowed a rumor to circulate that she is mentally ill. I have been told that this is not true. This is an abusive tactic.

    If we are thinking of the same well-known pastor, that is exactly what happened. I don’t know about the “allowed” part, since it seemed to me to be planned pretty well for his minions to spread that narrative. The fallout was really, really ugly. Thing is, if you were not in a position to see behind the curtain (or smoke screen) of the public persona, you would be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. The blind loyalty was truly shocking.

  152. Julie McMahon wrote:

    https://twitter.com/rachelheldevans/status/557537071989288960

    She just doesn’t get it. Tony showed her some police reports. NPD is complex and will always look flawless on paper. Gaslighting is a major factor. I am silenced all over again.

    She is also claiming on Twitter that she has “never claimed to have ‘all the facts'” even though she has assured readers she conducted a “diligent investigation.” Which one is it then?

  153. singleman wrote:

    Another thought – Tony Jones’ “spiritual wife” doctrine could make Todd Bentley and Benny Hinn seem credible by comparison.

    Chuckling in spite of myself over here. As I commented up-thread, even if we ignore any allegations of abuse or insanity – that line of bullsh*t don’t fly. What a joke.

  154. The best offered is for me to call an abuse hotline. As was just told to one of my advocates when they asked the spouse of one if the speakers. He even provided a phone number. Said, “She is I’ll equipped to handle this.” But equipped to jump on stage and speak about abuse advocacy?!?

  155. Julie McMahon wrote:

    https://twitter.com/rachelheldevans/status/557537071989288960

    She just doesn’t get it. Tony showed her some police reports. NPD is complex and will always look flawless on paper. Gaslighting is a major factor. I am silenced all over again.

    NPD’s play a chess game several steps ahead. You are the pawn but did not even know you were playing. You are thinking something like: Save my marriage, get help. He was thinking: How can I set her up to get out of this marriage and not look bad to my followers.

    People never believe the lengths NPD’s will go to. That is why they usually get by with it for so long.

    Until Rachel contacts you, her stance on legal/mediation means is simply a way for her to deal with her awkward position. It has been nothing but “legal” means for a while now, right?

    I am still not understanding how she can ignore the “spiritual wife” thing and the fact that Tony had no problem leaving his kids with someone he claimed was mentally ill. No red flags for Rachel there?

  156. Sensible wrote:

    She is also claiming on Twitter that she has “never claimed to have ‘all the facts’”

    Is she claiming that she did not know about “spiritual marriage” which used to be called “adultery?” It totally escapes my why that alone is not enough to have her running 180 from Tony Jones instead of running toward him.

  157. @ Lydia:
    Lydia that is so eery you just said that. I describe it exactly like that….It is like I am playing a chess game and he is always three moves ahead and I never knew I was even playing. Back in 2008 I was an NPD idiot walking right in to every trap. I have wised up and he can’t trap me anymore. I won’t take the bait.

  158. Gram3 wrote:

    Is she claiming that she did not know about “spiritual marriage” which used to be called “adultery?” It totally escapes my why that alone is not enough to have her running 180 from Tony Jones instead of running toward him.

    Good question. It seems that “fact” wasn’t relevant to her “investigation.” Like everyone else, I am infuriated/baffled by this “spiritual marriage” garbage…that alone should disqualify Jones from ministry…why are his big name supporters ignoring this?

  159. Lydia wrote:

    People never believe the lengths NPD’s will go to. That is why they usually get by with it for so long.

    The reason people don’t believe NPD’s can be so bad is because, as you said, normal people cannot conceive of thinking the way that NPD’s think. It is *always* about keeping a personally advantageous position, including grooming powerful enablers, and vigilant reputation management. The normal person in the relationship is trying to maintain what they think is a relationship while the NPD has absolutely no interest in the relationship whatsoever except insofar as it benefits the NPD.

    I have learned to put up my guard whenever someone is inappropriately agreeable and gooey and gushy. Or who has an overly smooth and oleaginous demeanor. I have learned that is personal recruitment in action. The way I learned this unfortunate truth is by challenging the person I did not know was NPD in private where the mask fell away. It was very disorienting and a bit of a shock. I didn’t even try to tell others because I knew I would not be believed. Thankfully, I can maintain distance which is the only way emotionally to survive an NPD.

  160. In TJ’s post (on Patheos, I believe), he actually seemed to leave out the inconvenient fact (unless I missed something) that he was still legally married to Julie when he “spiritually married” the second wife. That fact needs to stated and re-stated until his defenders have an answer for it. It’s adultery, plain and simple. It is indefensible.

  161. Sensible wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    Is she claiming that she did not know about “spiritual marriage” which used to be called “adultery?” It totally escapes my why that alone is not enough to have her running 180 from Tony Jones instead of running toward him.
    Good question. It seems that “fact” wasn’t relevant to her “investigation.” Like everyone else, I am infuriated/baffled by this “spiritual marriage” garbage…that alone should disqualify Jones from ministry…why are his big name supporters ignoring this?

    As I said earlier…they don’t call it out because their theology allows for it. Once love and/or marriage is boiled down into some sort of self-described emotional/spiritual/physical experience/attraction who are WE to tell someone they can’t follow their GOD GIVEN feelings. Because, God is all about love…right??

  162. ” I have wised up and he can’t trap me anymore. I won’t take the bait”

    Yep. But it is an exhausting life because they NEVER give up and your life is one big series of being on guard and thinking through every single action. In your case it is even worse because of his “Jesus” career. And the “Jesus” people around him who have helped him with his “spiritual wife” situation and trying to have you committed.

    The absolute worst thing I have seen is that the ex has to act like the NPD parent is normal until they are old enough to understand and start asking questions about things. NPD’s tend to use Parental Alienation to their advantage. The last thing we want is for NPD life to become a kid’s normal.

  163. Spouse of said female speaker in question basically just said go call an abuse hotline and leave my wife alone while she jumps on stage next to the alleged abuser….then he deleted the conversation and blocked the person.

  164. My comment on Rachel Held Evans’ blog was deleted.

    I commented on the post titled “Post-Evangelicals and Why We Can’t Just Get Over It.”

    My comment was in response to a comment by Danica Newton, in which she expressed concern that Rachel is planning to speak at a conference organized by Tony Jones and linked to the Naked Pastor thread in which the allegations against Tony Jones by his ex-wife Julie McMahon were discussed and where Julie McMahon appeared to tell her story. This is my comment that was deleted:

    Karl Rachel Held Evans • 18 minutes ago

    “This is the first I’ve heard of these allegations.

    I’ve long thought the tenor of Jones’ response to his critics (‘no, I have zero problems you are just either misunderstanding me or intentionally misrepresenting me’) was kind of similar to Driscoll’s tone when responding to his detractors – similar unbending attitude in response to criticism, different theology. But I didn’t know anything about Tony’s ex-wife’s allegations or the silencing she claims to have experienced. Reading that Naked Pastor thread is really sobering. I know there are two sides to every story but dang, this doesn’t sound good.

    I’m curious Rachel, whether your investigation included talking with Julie to get her side?

    One commenter in the [Naked Pastor] thread says:

    “If you read through the comment thread on this post you will get a taste of the length with which people have gone to protect the Emergent brand and do harm to Julie. I had one interlocutor email me to tell me Julie was “batshit crazy” — except, when I confronted him, he admitted he had never met Julie. He simply trusted what he was told by Emergent Village leaders.”

    My comment was deleted along with all the other comments responding to Danica’s; Rachel posted her own comment indicating that she had thoroughly investigated the situation and did not find Julie’s story credible (though it has later come out that the thorough investigation did not include speaking to Julie to get her side of the story – something I’m pretty sure Rachel would have insisted was an absolute must if the alleged abuser was a conservative evangelical pastor) and Rachel then closed comments on the post.

    The screen shot that includes all the since-deleted comments can be found here:

    http://emergent-nightmares.tumblr.com/post/108173035142/responses-from-rachel-held-evans

  165. I don’t know how anyone who calls himself a christian can be unfaithful to his wife and use some twisted theology (and thuggery) to justify it, all while running a smear campaign the entire time in the process.

    That isn’t Christ-like. I can’t take theology from that kind of person seriously.

    All of that leads me to believe Julie, and I hope the truth really does come to ligh .

  166. I’ve been following this as best I can this morning, before having to immerse myself in producing three indexes for a theology book.

    I am both sad and mad in reading the content of these Tweets from Ms Evans.

    And it’s a legit question of how can people not get it about the trashcan-theology? Or the damage done by silencing victims, or flipping the tables to look like victims?

    I have to wonder how much of this is due to tendency toward compartmentalization. The minute we disconnect from the reality of our interdependency, then all forms of evil are possible … because other people are now just objects, bits of matter or energy to be gathered together and shuffled around to fuel our grand schemes. And that, if I remember correctly, is a core principle in how Mao ran Communist China. Certainly that should not at all how a decentralized network in the Kingdom should look like or work.

    But when we take a systems approach to all of this, the elements can still be examined, but they’re kept intact and integrated into the whole. Then, we *will* look at theological issues. And interpersonal problems. And character issues and whether someone is trustworthy or not. And organizational toxicity. And the wisdom or lack thereof in partnerships with other individuals and entities.

    But, split all the components apart, and that’s when the unraveling leads to all kinds of unintended consequences. Fragmentation … spiritual shrapnel … seeming flip-flops and revisionist histories …

    Unfortunately, looks like a bumpy rest of the week ahead …

  167. Here is a comment that RHE just made. She emailed it to me and gave me permission to post it here.

    I have added another comment if you are interested.

    http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/post-evangelicals-and-why-we-cant-just-get-over-it#comment-1804448244

    Here it is –

    By way of clarification, I don’t want to overstate my knowledge of this situation or involvement in it. I have spoken with neither Tony nor Julie about the details of their divorce, only reviewed some relevant documents and emails. I am not a close associate of Tony’s, but work with many different event-planners in a given year.

    I realize the conversation emerging around this situation on online forums has been incredibly triggering for some people, whose stories I take very seriously. However, I am not equipped to host or moderate a forum for discussing the details such situations. In my advocacy for victims of abuse, I have consistently and adamantly encouraged working through the legal system and appropriate mediators to pursue justice, and I have consistently and adamantly discouraged both trial-by-church and trial-by-twitter. If you or someone you love is a victim of abuse, consider contacting the abuse hotline – Thehotline.org, 1-800-799-7233.

    What makes the “Why Christian?” event so important to me is that it is meant to empower and lift up women whose voices have not always been empowered and lifted up in the church. It has been disheartening to see those speakers harassed on social media, and I have a hard time understanding how diminishing their voices is helpful.

    It’s important to me to do what I believe is right and ethical with the information I have and in the forum I moderate. In this endeavor, I humbly ask for your patience and grace.

  168. Adam Borsay wrote:

    As I said earlier…they don’t call it out because their theology allows for it. Once love and/or marriage is boiled down into some sort of self-described emotional/spiritual/physical experience/attraction who are WE to tell someone they can’t follow their GOD GIVEN feelings. Because, God is all about love…right??

    Very good points. We tend to (rightly) attribute the abuses within patriarchal institutions like SGM to their pet theologies, but we also need to be equally wary of theology churned out by “progressive” groups and celebrities who claim to break that mold.

  169. dee wrote:

    What makes the “Why Christian?” event so important to me is that it is meant to empower and lift up women whose voices have not always been empowered and lifted up in the church.

    Hmmm…how about Julie’s?

  170. What bothers me is that Rachel doesn’t seem to see how different her response to this situation is from the way she responded (and has encouraged and allowed others – on her blog and elsewhere – to respond) to allegations of abuse by SGM, Driscoll or other conservative pastors.

    I am pretty sure RHE would have had zero patience with or time for someone who washed her hands, Pontius Pilate-like, refused to get the story of the alleged victims of Driscoll’s spiritual abuse straight from the victims but instead conducted an investigation that consisted of hearing friends of Driscoll repeat the party line put out by Driscoll and Mars Hill viewed some handpicked emails and documents, and patronizingly told the victim to use the legal process to redress the alleged wrongs, but not to expect her to listen to the story or take sides. I mean – that is the OPPOSITE of what she would do, and of what she has done, in the case of the alleged SGM (physical and spiritual) and Driscoll (spiritual) abuse victims.

    The fact that she doesn’t even seem to acknowledge this stark contrast and instead postures as if she is only doing now what she has “always done” is hugely disappointing and disillusioning.

  171. @ Karl:
    I also believe in letting people know how many comments that I am deleting. Whenever we delete or do not approve a comment (except for spam) we put a note in the comment thread. I believe that this is a good policy to keep me honest with readers.

  172. I feel like RHE post sounds like trying to say nothing, but appearing sympathetic.

    A few problems…

    1- In a case like Juli’s, where there is credible testimony that local law enforcement is sympathetic to the alleged abuser, telling her to just “use the system” is very unhelpful.

    2- Using the term “harassment” in this case is unfair and inappropriate. If the majority of what has been said to these women falls in line with what has been reported here…ie..Hey I like you, I agree with you, but I am really concerned that you are giving legitimacy and support to a man who SHOULD represent what you are opposed to…..to call it harassment is tone deaf.

    3- To claim that this event is for empowering women and responding to the critics is tantamount to silencing them is horribly off base. 1- It is not like these women have no outlet unless they willingly share a spotlight with TJ is silly. 2- If this event is truly about giving a voice and support to women, even the reasonable suspicion that TJ is what it appears he is, delegitimizes the whole thing. Its like saying that we are hosting an important even about racial reconcilliation that will be co-hosted by the local Grand Dragon of the KKK. While that is a bit extreme, it illustrates the ridiculousness of this whole affair.

    If RHE was truly concerned with the truth, and empowering the weak and silenced, the very least she could do is say, “Wow, I had no idea how severe this could potentially be, we need to re-evaluate the timing of this conference and who is involved ASAP so that we can adequately respond because the last thing we would want to do is diminish our integrity and purpose.

    At the very least, the “spiritual wife” thing should be enough for ANY of these scheduled speakers to say, “I am sorry, but I won’t participate in an event with TJ” That is the opposite of being silenced. It instead makes a loud statement of; 1) What we stand for, and, 2) That we won’t accept such absurd made up theology—-especially theology that could give ammunition for other husbands to abandon their wives under the guise of being “spiritual”

  173. Adam Borsay wrote:

    As I said earlier…they don’t call it out because their theology allows for it.

    What is your explanation for the failure of the New Calvinist “leaders” to call out Mahaney? Could it be that their doctrines of hierarchy allow for them to ignore his abuse of the flock and coverup of child sexual abuse? After all, in a hierarchy, the ones at the top are most important.

    What I’m getting at is that it is not the doctrinal specifics that allow/promote bad practice, but rather it is the love of people for fame and wealth and influence which blinds them to the truth and robs them of the courage to confront their theological friends. RHE is not ignoring “spiritual marriage” nonsense because she is progressive. There are progressives who are calling her on it.

    And, for the record, I am about as far from emergent and progressive as it is possible to be. I just don’t think that the greater problem of abdication of leadership can be pinned on particular doctrines. No doctrinal system can immunize anyone against the sinful impulse to do what we want to do.

  174. To Rachel, since you are maintaining closed comments:

    ISTM that you under-estimate your influence. For some time now, neither you nor Nadia have needed to be under the auspices of anyone else in order to draw a crowd to a conference.

    Your position allows you to speak freely, a tremendous gift for someone working hard to walk the line between evangelical and main-line worlds.

    Thus, you need not generically point to abuse hot-lines and legal recourse. They are no panacea and certainly have been largely ineffectual in bringing resolution/peace to Julie’s situation.

    Moreover, this problem is no longer so much about domestic abuse as about collusion inside yet another church circle. You needn’t go there, stay there, be there.

  175. Adam Borsay wrote:

    To claim that this event is for empowering women and responding to the critics is tantamount to silencing them is horribly off base. 1- It is not like these women have no outlet unless they willingly share a spotlight with TJ is silly. 2- If this event is truly about giving a voice and support to women, even the reasonable suspicion that TJ is what it appears he is, delegitimizes the whole thing. Its like saying that we are hosting an important even about racial reconcilliation that will be co-hosted by the local Grand Dragon of the KKK. While that is a bit extreme, it illustrates the ridiculousness of this whole affair.

    This and everything that follows in your comment is excellent. Great illustration using the KKK.

  176. @ dee:

    Is it me? Or does RHE statement remind me of the infamous Dever, Mohler, (TG4) etc… statement of support for CJ Mahaney? Well at least Rachel didin’t make fun of a rape victim in the process.

  177. @ Gram3:

    Great question. 100% agree that there is no theological or doctrinal position that will ever eliminate sin and bad behavior.

    The difference is that I would contend that within the progressive wing, there isn’t a solid and consistent hermeneutic by which to criticize this behavior. While you shouldn’t need a consistent hemeneutic to criticize the abusive behavior, it just speaks to the larger problem of what do we really truly define as a problem, and why?

    Within the reformed camp(which I am more aligned with) my frustration has been a lack of APPLYING the position. They DO HAVE a system and hermeneutic that speaks to the bad behavior of CJ and MD, but they REFUSE to apply it. There is nothing within reformed doctrine that would teach that “pastors” are specialer(my word) and above criticism. Yet, they pretend it is point 6 of Calvinism.

    Great example. There are many parts of Driscoll’s teaching that I have appreciated. The most important line he ever used, which I will never forget, and always seek to apply, came from some of his marriage teaching. When talking about a husbands “headship” he said that the wife is the “referee”. Therefore, if she EVER says to her husband, “You are in the wrong, you are not doing a good job, you need to change”. Than she is RIGHT. No qualifiers. The husband has no right to say, well, I am in charge, so shut up. He straight up said, the wife gets to call a spade a spade and you have to listen, otherwise, you are NOT a good head of your home.

    What a great thought about leadership in general!! How tragic that he apparently never thought this applied to how he treats people……And how disappointing that none of his gospelly buddies ever held him accountable to such a solid teaching in his own personal life…..

  178. Can someone get a hold of Roger Olson and speak to him about Greg Boyd’s invovlement in all this? Someone needs to hit Boyd with a 2 x 4 on the head! Boyd is going to destroy his reputation and credibility and give a lot of fodder to Piper. Boyd is the only one I would suggest that has done the best work on the Problem of Evil. He risks destroying all that and discrediting himself.

  179. Lets see…I had Mormonism in 1995,1996, then I dealt with SGM during a faith crisis in 2011-2013, now this. In light of all the problems that keep pouring out of Christianity part of me wonders if its safer to leave it behind and if I made a mistake in getting baptized and trying it again? I don’t know…the jury is out. This really pisses me off and stuns me in its brazenness. Either Rachel Held Evans is deceived or a total fool. Why do so many evangeliclas have to create needless conflcit and support authorterian thugs? Tony Jones…? Kim Jong Un 2.0?

  180. I unfollowed Tony’s blog a while back (and I am not on twitter much) so I had no idea any of this was going on. I have clicked on a lot of things and I am not trying to beg for salacious details, but I was wondering if there was one place that explained Julie’s story? I found bits and pieces in comments here and at SCCL and at Naked Pastor, but I feel like I am missing a lot of her story. When you say abuse, has she made allegations of physical abuse or are we talking about emotional/spiritual abuse (or all of that)? I have honestly not been able to tell from what I was reading.

    Julie, if you see this, I am very sorry for what you have experienced.

  181. @ numo:
    It’s a shame to see Rachel and Nadia pitted against Julie. Fighting our own soldiers is suuuchhh a bad idea.

    It is too late to switch off the conference, probably. But something could be done *at* the conference, a formal opening-of-the-door to Julie and all those others who see echoes of their own experiences in her story.

    A declaration could be made ahead of time, and the conference could be partly re-centered onto this theme. How many more people would show up then! It could be (even more than Nadia and Rachel originally envisioned) to give voice, authority, and healing for/by/with women.

  182. Kari, from what I have gathered Julie says there was an instance where Tony threw her across the room and injured her shoulder, in front of their kids and one of the kids came over to her to help pick her up from amidst/under the furniture. That is the only instance of physical abuse I’ve seen alleged but it’s enough – not minimizing it, just saying I don’t see an allegation of ongoing physical abuse. But it sounds like the mental/spiritual/psychological abuse Julie can testify to was ongoing, over a long period of time and has not stopped since the divorce.

    Anyone who has seen up close a narcissistic person in a divorce or similar situation will recognize the behavior pattern Julie is alleging here. A pastor friend in our community did very much the same thing to his wife, although he was on his 2nd affair when he got exposed so he wasn’t able to save face and rally supporters in their conservative church and when it finally blew up people rallied to her side. But while it was secret, he made her think SHE was the crazy one. And now that it’s over and he’s said he’s sorry, he just can’t understand why the church won’t reinstate him and now HE is the victim, the perfect Dad (posting glowing descriptions on FB of his interactions with the kids), setting her up to look like the bad parent, doing the whole “he’s playing chess to make sure he looks as good as possible and is 3 steps ahead and she doesn’t even know there is a chess game going on but is only just trying to survive as a single mom” thing. I mean – one of the main reasons I find Julie credible is just how similar at the core the situation she describes is to one with which I am pretty familiar. As she and others have said: “you just can’t make this stuff up.”

  183. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Within the reformed camp(which I am more aligned with) my frustration has been a lack of APPLYING the position. They DO HAVE a system and hermeneutic that speaks to the bad behavior of CJ and MD, but they REFUSE to apply it. There is nothing within reformed doctrine that would teach that “pastors” are specialer(my word) and above criticism.

    We will disagree here. I do not believe that there is consistent application of their purported hermeneutic when it comes to issues of hierarchy, whether it is gender hierarchy or clergy hierarchy. In fact, they use an entirely separate hermeneutic for those texts and even add to the texts to support their notions of hierarchy. I do not see a principled difference between the Reformed changing their hermeneutic depending on the topic and adding to the texts or twisting them and the Progressives who have a more free-style hermeneutic.

    The difference is one side acknowledges a looser hermeneutic while the other side, the Reformed, insists that they have a consistent and conservative hermeneutic. Jesus said that those who add to the words of God nullify God’s words. The Gospel Glitterati certainly do add to the words of God, so Jesus said they are nullifying it.

    I appreciate your frustration with the leaders of our side, meaning conservatives, and their refusal to step up in obedience to Christ and his example. I think it is equally important, however, to call out our side for being hermeneutical hypocrites and exegetical chameleons in order to get to hierarchy of one sort or another and to one degree or another. It is well past time for them to be honest in the way they deal with the texts.

  184. @ Patrice:
    And again, to Rachel Held Evans, if this cannot be done because of the people sponsoring the event, then you have your answer, right there, about the level of your actual freedom. And that would tell you a great deal about how to proceed forward.

  185. @ dee:
    In other words, what RHE is saying is

    “While I advocate for the abused, I have no desire to get messy and actually do something for the abused in any way that might be time consuming or difficult on my part. Please still like me and by my books and go to my conferences. I’ll say the hard stuff, but you all get to do it!”

  186. Patrice wrote:

    It is too late to switch off the conference

    It may be too late to withdraw from the conference *without cost* but no one can force RHE to show up if she does not show up. If her contract was carefully drafted, there should be a clause which would release her under circumstances like these. I would not want to be the one arguing to enforce her obligations to JoPa. This is a time when she needs to determine what is more important.

    I actually think her strategic interests, both professional and personal, would be served by frankly acknowledging that she was wrong, by withdrawing, and by moving forward and working with other women of like mind to organize another conference where the issues could be presented without the slime and overhang of Tony Jones and his new doctrine of marriage.

  187. Gram3 wrote:

    I do not see a principled difference between the Reformed changing their hermeneutic depending on the topic and adding to the texts or twisting them and the Progressives who have a more free-style hermeneutic.

    I agree, Gram3. Moreover, trying to resolve such issues by “getting the theology correct” is simply using a method that has already repeatedly proven inadequate in American Christianity. If the same things happen under all theological constructs, there is either something wrong with all the available constructs or it is not resolvable using that tool.

    I think theology is the wrong tool.

  188. Eagle wrote:

    In light of all the problems that keep pouring out of Christianity part of me wonders if its safer to leave it behind and if I made a mistake in getting baptized and trying it again? I don’t know…the jury is out.

    Please, please, please, after all that you have evidently been through, don’t confuse ‘Christianity’ so-called with actually following Christ. Following The Way is, has always been, quite hard enough without having to ‘own’ every psychopathic ‘preacher’ and ‘movement’ out there that calls themselves ‘Christian’.

    Surely the Gospels foretold all of this craziness. It’s mostly con$umerist garbage, and simply depends on the superstitious credulity of some believers. The hypocrisy that spews from a lot of ‘Christianity’ is certainly nauseating. It’s wolves in sheep’s clothing, nipping at the edge of the flock. This is the battle of our brave Deebs, and many who have told their stories here. Not least, yourself!

    Forget about the label ‘Christianity’, that of men. When in doubt, read the Bible. The Gospel of John always works for me. Please don’t let these sinful weasels turn you away from the Word… soon enough Jesus will be telling them, ‘I never knew you’.

  189. @ Gram3:
    I agree with you here, too. But I’m looking to find a way to turn what seems like an unfortunate timing out of their control, into an opportunity for all to get what is needed.

    But yah, if they don’t have enough freedom in the conference contract, that is their answer right there.

  190. Gram3 wrote:

    I actually think her strategic interests, both professional and personal, would be served by frankly acknowledging that she was wrong, by withdrawing, and by moving forward and working with other women of like mind to organize another conference where the issues could be presented without the slime and overhang of Tony Jones and his new doctrine of marriage.

    It would be even sweeter if Rachel and Nadia could keep the conference in place and have it become what jopa have mouthed that they want it to be.

  191. Eagle wrote:

    Lets see…I had Mormonism in 1995,1996, then I dealt with SGM during a faith crisis in 2011-2013, now this. In light of all the problems that keep pouring out of Christianity part of me wonders if its safer to leave it behind and if I made a mistake in getting baptized and trying it again? I don’t know…the jury is out. This really pisses me off and stuns me in its brazenness. Either Rachel Held Evans is deceived or a total fool. Why do so many evangeliclas have to create needless conflcit and support authorterian thugs? Tony Jones…? Kim Jong Un 2.0?

    No, you weren’t wrong. It’s a startling reminder that our hope is not found in “conservative”, “progressive”, or any other kind of theology. It’s found in Jesus. It’s found in the dignity God created in us and proved by sending his son to die for us. And you know this- it resonates with you. It’s a part of who you are now.

    I was taken aback by this post- so much I’ve felt compelled to post after a LONG absence from TWW- but I find great comfort that no matter how popular someone is or how much his or her comments might resonate with me, Jesus really is the only hope, and it’s Jesus I follow.

  192. Patrice wrote:

    I think theology is the wrong tool.

    Tools will always be merely tools. It is the indwelling of the Spirit that is sorely missing from all of these situations. Without the power of the Spirit, none of us is capable of being like Christ.

  193. @ Gram3:
    Of course, my proposal depends on Rachel and Nadia being willing to look honestly at corruption within their own circle. I hopehopehope that they are just in turmoil right now, and will come out the other end with their integrity intact.

    Of course, they’ve not had an excuse for a while, now, but now they truly have no excuse at all.

    I’m seriously worried about the destruction that will follow if they do not face up to it. There is a not inconsiderable group of people (esp younger) who have been hearing these women as a last resort before jumping ship. Integrity is fundamental to that group.

  194. Patrice wrote:

    It would be even sweeter if Rachel and Nadia could keep the conference in place and have it become what jopa have mouthed that they want it to be.

    Sweeter still and so redemptive of the situation would be for Rachel to say that she was foolish and taken in by whatever it was that blinded her to the reality of Tony Jones. If it was his persona, then acknowledge that. If it was the platform that he dangled in front of her, then acknowledge that she was drawn away by that prospect. Or whatever it was.

    I believe that the issues of marriage, the circumstances of divorce, abuse of whatever kind, silencing of voices, and Jones’ doctrinal sewage of “spiritual marriage” have become muddled. We need to be able to separate these things and talk about them all, because they are important to women *and* men. They are important to the functioning of the Body.

    Simply stated, I don’t see a good reason for her to have connected with Tony Jones in the first place. She has allowed her voice to be effectively muted by her willing and enthusiastic association with him and by extension with his sin. Complicity is a real thing, and the only choice left when you have taken the wrong turn is to go back.

  195. Jeff S wrote:

    It’s a startling reminder that our hope is not found in “conservative”, “progressive”, or any other kind of theology. It’s found in Jesus.

    Well said. Our identity is in Christ, not in our affinity group. Our theology, whatever it is, is merely a model the truth as we see it and provisionally understand it. It is not the truth itself. And it is certainly not the Truth himself.

  196. @ Gram3:

    I appreciate your disagreement with me on theological matters. I don’t come to the same conclusions as you, but that is ok. To use a favorite word of yourself and Gramp3, I am a pretty winsome fellow when it comes to explaining and articulating my positions. One of my consistent teaching mantras is, “Bad theology can cause damage, but good theology won’t save anyone”. Therefore, I don’t have any particular problem with anyone articulating a theological understanding of scripture in a way that is different than mine. Even if I perceive it to be “damaging”. Obviously, I would want to winsomely(love that word….) contend with someone where I think they have erred, it has no bearing on fellowship or general unity.

  197. Dave A A wrote:

    I’m thinking, if Jones had followed your advice five years ago
    and SHUT THE HECK UP! the story would have stayed confined to much smaller circles.

    Perhaps you (and I) are correct, Dave. But a person with NPD can never be wrong. That post was the beginning of my issues with TJ and his “commenders” in Brad’s very useful terminology. Some people in the comments on that post wanted me to be the one to “SHUT THE HECK UP.” My favourite response was from Jason who said:

    What’s interesting to me is that this only seems harsh if you know who it is. It’s very uncomfortable to see someone called out. If you pretend you don’t know who it is (or if you really don’t know), then it just seems like a big fat no-brainer.

    It’s also interesting to me that the emerging/missional folks (and I’d count myself in the latter category) have virtually no tolerance for social sins – being quick to openly condemn them publicly and even naming names – but have tremendous tolerance for the individual sins that only a generation ago would have been considered shameful.

    Recently a high profile ministry was publicly called out on a blog for being racist because they co-opted the already-exploited symbols of another culture for personal gain. There was an attempt to engage privately, which was rejected. Next came the public calling out. The E/M camp cheered, as did I. The results were painful, sobering, and, I think, healthy.

    Sins must be confronted. Public sin must be confronted publicly. It should be done graciously by people who know the person, but barring that, others can and should step in; the initial attempts should be private, but even if that is received well, there must be a public repentance (if there really was sin) or clarification (if there wasn’t). If it is not received well, the “calling out” should occur publicly.

    Bill complicates this by the fact that he doesn’t condemn a person, just a sin. Hence, it’s a no-brainer. I might as well post on my blog “If someone you know is a thief, don’t give him the keys to your house.” Well, of course. The question is, who will bring the confrontation that is needed?

    I’m pretty sure there’s a bible verse about this somewhere.

  198. @ Gram3:
    Maybe we’re just having a difference in how it might be done, because I agree that Rachel and Nadia, to keep their integrity, will need to face the music. They need to acknowledge their naivete/denial and turn onto a path of wisdom.

    I am just proposing a way to do it that would maximize the effect on the greatest number of people while minimizing the loss of momentum in the work they have been doing up til now.

    Anyway, it’s moot if they aren’t doing the heart work right now.

    As to the Holy Spirit, I can agree with you, in the sense that it is by His/Her breath that life continues and all goodness is propagated.

    But above that underlying presence, I’ve found “do under others as you would have them do to you” to be a functional ethic in most groups I’ve been part of, in/out of the church. It is definitely adequate against the absurdity of having a “spiritual wife”, IMO.

  199. “By way of clarification, I don’t want to overstate my knowledge of this situation or involvement in it.”

    But Rachel, you DID overstate your knowledge. You claimed to have conducted a “diligent investigation” and decided that you didn’t need to hear the other side of the story. You can’t have it both ways. Stop making deceptive statements like that.

  200. Gram3 wrote:

    Sweeter still and so redemptive of the situation would be for Rachel to say that she was foolish and taken in by whatever it was that blinded her to the reality of Tony Jones. If it was his persona, then acknowledge that. If it was the platform that he dangled in front of her, then acknowledge that she was drawn away by that prospect. Or whatever it was.

    Exactly! That’s all her readers want!

  201. JeffT wrote:

    Sensible wrote:

    Hmmm…how about Julie’s?

    Well, you know, sacrifices have to be made….

    Once again, Rachel, stop using the conference speakers as hostages. Do you really think these women will be “silenced” unless male “theological provocateur” Tony lends them a voice. You and your fellow speakers already enjoy the privilege of having ministries and platforms. Julie does not.

  202. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I am a pretty winsome fellow when it comes to explaining and articulating my positions. One of my consistent teaching mantras is, “Bad theology can cause damage, but good theology won’t save anyone”.

    Your teaching mantra is a good one. I and Gramp3 are examples of people who have been harmed by bad theology. Theology that is really mere tradition dressed in pious language and abstract ideas. Tradition that is supported by silencing questions, slandering questioners, and using appeals to fear rather than appeals to the text of the Bible and to the love exemplified by Christ.

    The church will never be semper reformanda as long as people in the church are bound by traditions which cannot be questioned and which are not grounded in sound and *consistent* hermeneutics but rather in very subjective hermeneutics which are accepted because…Grudem or Calvin or Augustine. A hermeneutic which is as malleable as some conservatives use is of no real use in determining what God has revealed in his word.

    The text is deformed by the subjective judgment of the interpreters, whether those interpreters are self-styled conservatives or progressives. Conclusions based on a subjective hermeneutic which we accept because we like the conclusions are not helpful because those conclusions come at the end of what is a circular argument centered on our pre-existing view.

    I think it is significant that the problems within the conservative zone are centered on authoritarian presuppositions. But the theology of Christ is centered on the least, not on the greatest, and I can only conclude that this blind spot is due to overwhelming self-interest of those who propagate the hierarchical model of the church and home, contra the explicit teaching of the text.

    I think also that conservatives who have an effectively subjective hermeneutic are being hypocritical when they accuse the progressives of abandoning the authority of scripture. There are many routes around scripture, and we need to be able to see how our theology blinds us to the fact that we are not following the texts God has given us. I am a textual and hermeneutical conservative, but not a tradition-bound conservative.

  203. Gram3 wrote:

    I believe that the issues of marriage, the circumstances of divorce, abuse of whatever kind, silencing of voices, and Jones’ doctrinal sewage of “spiritual marriage” have become muddled. We need to be able to separate these things and talk about them all, because they are important to women *and* men. They are important to the functioning of the Body.

    This is gold right here. I was reading about this situation over the last 4-5 days, and when I began to try to explain what I was reading to my wife, I realized exactly how muddled things have gotten with respect to the issues around Tony Jones. But all of the issues—around theology, lifestyle, marriage, and abuse—are extremely important! It’s hard to know where to start.

    However, it is necessary to start. What the “commenders” are doing (thank you for this vocabulary, Brad) is making the entire issue about Tony’s marriage, then dismissing it as gossip. I get this—when a marriage falls apart, it can be helpful and healing to extend both parties grace instead of judgment, supporting them instead of telling them what they should have done. And if it were the case that the marriage had fallen apart, and both attempted to repair it without success, the commenders would be correct. Unfortunately, not only is Tony a very public figure in the EV community, but there are also allegations of abuse in play here, not to mention the “doctrinal sewage.”

    If there is to be any progress in converting these commenders into true defenders of the orphan and the widow, it’s critical to keep the conversation from being solely about the divorce. After all, that isn’t the elephant in the room here. Even the adultery and the twisting of theology to justify sinfulness isn’t what the large issue is, although there’s more reason to bring that up. Where I’m feeling betrayed is RHE’s and NBW’s response to allegations of abuse. Even if there hadn’t been a divorce or a “spiritual wife,” and the Jones’ marriage had never dissolved, we would have a big, hulking issue which needs to be addressed.

    This, I think, is where we need to put our weight down. When allegations of abuse come to light—particularly when there is evidence the alleged abuser has been silencing these allegations for some time, as in this case—to take a stand without having a conversation with the victim is short-sighted at best. If Julie does indeed have the evidence she claims she has, any fact-finding conversation lasting longer than 10 minutes should do the trick. But the conversation needs to happen! After the abuse conversation happens, the door can (and must) be opened to the other issues here, since, as Gram3 put it, “these things… are important to the functioning of the body.”

    A professor of mine once wrote that faithfulness must trump effectiveness, always. Why? Because God is the one who makes our work effective. It is our job to be faithful. Please, those of you who have been blessed with a voice and a platform: be faithful! Don’t sacrifice your faithfulness for apparent effectiveness.

  204. Patrice wrote:

    Anyway, it’s moot if they aren’t doing the heart work right now.

    Exactly. I am suggesting a tactical retreat which will enable her to recover the principles she, as I understand it, is advocating. I don’t see a way to be a consistent advocate for victims while silencing the victims and adhering to the victimizer. It is evident to all who are willing to see that Tony Jones is a poser who talks about respecting women and valuing them, but acts in a way that discredits his public pose.

    Rachel needs to understand that she will be seen as a poser as well, as one who seized an issue to promote herself, rather than as one who cares about the status of women. Thinking people will not believe that she is concerned about what she says she is concerned about.

    To paraphrase someone whose name I cannot recall, one cannot say they value women if they devalue *a* woman. Same for men and a man. How I wish we could get to a place where we don’t need to drag gender into everything. On both sides of the question. People are not abstractions to be manipulated.

  205. @ JeffT & Dr. Fundystan:

    To me, the bizarre ‘spiritual wife’ so-called ‘theology’, created solely to justify an affair an affair is enough to warn off any religious association with Tony Jones.

    He seems to be trying to spin it as if she was abusing him, to play on the sympathies of folks who believe that divorce for abuse is legitimate. Trouble is, mental illness doesn’t necessarily = abuse. So just because Julie is alleged to have been mentally ill, doesn’t mean she was also abusive. That dog don’t hunt, Tony. And even if it did, seeing someone else while you’re still legally married to your first wife is kind of a big no-no. And deciding they’re your “spiritual wife” while you’re still married is, as others have pointed out, adultery – at least, I take “spiritual wife” as an indication that, let’s just say, “certain deeds” have already been done. Maybe I’m stupid but that’s what I heard.

    And really, “spiritual wife”? Is Jones trying to be Mormon now? That sounds like it’s about a fiberoptic hairsbreadth away from “celestial marriage.”

  206. @ Eagle:
    Hey, follow me there!! At least we can chat in 140 characters, no matter how many kids are screaming. 🙂

  207. Regarding the argument of her mental illness….

    As TWW has pointed out in many cases, mental illness IS an illness. And SHOULD be treated as such. If Juli was suffering from true and debilitating mental illness, what kind of honorable and Godly man would abandon her to shack up with his new girlfriend. I cannot respect any man who abandons his wife. Outside of physical abuse, I always contend for staying and loving them to the end. A man who will not do that is not a man.

  208. These are only my opinions, nothing more. The only expertise I have here is my own experience with people with personality disorders and my own dysfunctional junk.

    Having been friends with a woman with borderline personality disorder (BPD), having a father with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and having gone through A LOT of therapy myself to deal with my own issues — of which there are many — I know from experience in my own life that it’s possible that more than one or two things can be true at the same time. I was terribly victimized by a BPD and NPD in my life, and by other abusers unrelated to those people. I was also really messed up because of it and developed some disordered personality traits which skewed my perceptions of relationships for a long time. It’s hard to acknowledge that this was true — personality disorders or anything close to resembling them are stigmatized — but it’s also freeing. Acknowledging these truths has helped me not only work through horrible trauma I’ve experienced, but to work through the unhealthy — though understandable — coping strategies I developed to cope with the trauma. My own coping strategies were: unhealthy fixation on a person(s) to heal or fix my heart, deception, self-harming behaviors, addictive behaviors, etc.

    So as I’ve read all of the comments and posts on this issue on both sides, I guess I’ve just tended to avoid the either/or labels (e.g., either Tony is the brutal victimizer OR the helpless victim; either Julie is crazy accuser OR the completely sane victim). (I don’t think anyone involved is crazy and I hate that label anyway.) After reading the comments from both parties in this situation, I’m reminded of a lot of what I’ve heard and seen from the BPD and NPD in my own life: the gaslighting, the manipulation, the demanding of apologies, the willingness — the NEED — to make everyone see things my way and the relentless pursuit of this at any cost. Heck, when I was at my worst, I did these things, sometimes knowingly, many times not at all.

    I don’t know what exactly can heal or help the folks in this situation but I know therapy, close friendships and distance from the perps have helped me tremendously. These three things have given me the time and space to acknowledge my pain and to work on developing healthier ways of coping with it. Most days, I still want my day in court. Most days, I still want my pound of flesh. Always, I want justice. The difference is now I know I can survive and even thrive without it. I’m not controlled by it.

    I’m nervous about posting this comment because of how I might be viewed but I wanted to weigh in with my thoughts because of my own experiences. They are only my opinions, nothing more.

  209. http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/post-evangelicals-and-why-we-cant-just-get-over-it#comment-1794033502

    http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/post-evangelicals-and-why-we-cant-just-get-over-it#comment-1804448244

    I find the combination of these comments from Ms Evans very disturbing. Other readers are calling her out for the disparity between her apparent concern for victims versus her seeming to silence Julie McMahon whose allegations apparently she deems not credible. I want to focus on what I perceive as underlying issues.

    As I see, this set of updates represents a response to soothe external pressures, but without taking any real, personal responsibility for having issued conflicting messages. At least, that’s what these seem to me to be, trying to take them both at face value and also attempting to be a discerning reader. The first indicates a “diligent investigation” — ill chosen wordage indeed if what really happened, as she states in the second comment, actually appears to be quite minimal: “I don’t want to overstate my knowledge of this situation or involvement in it. I have spoken with neither Tony nor Julie about the details of their divorce, only reviewed some relevant documents and emails.”

    I will note that I estimate that I’ve spent a minimum of 150 hours in research writing about this specific situation since 2009. That is really not a huge amount for doing a case study, with several periods of concentrated investigation at the beginning and end of that period, plus the rest spread over the years in between. And it is not even half of what I spent tracking the meltdown of Mars Hill last year. However, it is why I stated earlier in this thread, #IBelieveJulie, and would also suggest that Ms Evans implying that this is mostly about “circumstances of another couple’s divorce” is an “Adventure in Missing the Point,” to adapt the title of the book from Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo. The larger system issues of connected reputations and culpability are emerging, for those willing to learn how to see them.

    So I will summarize my impressions by saying that Ms Evans has given us all a nicely worded version of her perspective and her generic recommendations for victims who seek help. But, I find Ms Evan’s account to be an example of “verbal paucity” — using many words to say very little — and it comes across to me as an attempt to avoid any accountability.

    Still, it looks like unintended consequences of choices will bring their own calling to account sooner or later. It looks like people are pushing back, including some who have been supportive of Ms Evans. But at this point, my hope for a positive turning point about WX15 and its curators is diminished. I’m disappointed in this follow-up explanation.

    However, there is still time for a U-turn. Perhaps the online flame wars that Ms Evans and Ms Bolz-Weber have presumably been experiencing have given a taste of what exploded upon Julie McMahon in late 2009 through early 2010 when she sought, mostly alone, to voice her story. Could there be hope that this experience might bring empathy for Julie, and through that, compassion, and through that, a revised conscience and consciousness that leads into different direction going forward?

  210. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    As I see, this set of updates represents a response to soothe external pressures, but without taking any real, personal responsibility for having issued conflicting messages. At least, that’s what these seem to me to be, trying to take them both at face value and also attempting to be a discerning reader. The first indicates a “diligent investigation” — ill chosen wordage indeed if what really happened, as she states in the second comment, actually appears to be quite minimal: “I don’t want to overstate my knowledge of this situation or involvement in it. I have spoken with neither Tony nor Julie about the details of their divorce, only reviewed some relevant documents and emails.”

    Amazing summary–I wish there was a “like” button to click 🙂 Readers are not asking for this sort of “clarification” from Jones’ supporters…they are waiting for that “U-turn.”

  211. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Outside of physical abuse, I always contend for staying and loving them to the end. A man who will not do that is not a man.

    Bold words- very hurtful for those of use who experienced non-psychical abuse and made the choice to leave- especially if there are children involved. I don’t think the standard should be any different for men or women. If you are being unrepentantly abused, you are not bound to a destructive marriage.

    According to you, I am not a man because my ex-wife didn’t hit me. I’m certain I made the right call, though, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

    These things cannot easily be boiled down to a set of concrete rules; best to let people who are in the situations figure out for themselves whether the relationship is something that is honoring God and should persist.

    On topic, I hadn’t heard any of these people before today (other than RHE), but reading Julie’s words certainly sounds like what I’ve heard from abuse victims over and over again. And if he has a NPD diagnosis, that pretty much tells the tale right there.

  212. Hey dee! You said, “I have added another comment if you’re interested.” <3 Maybe I'm losing *my* mind.

    dee wrote:

    Here is a comment that RHE just made. She emailed it to me and gave me permission to post it here.

    I have added another comment if you are interested.

    http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/post-evangelicals-and-why-we-cant-just-get-over-it#comment-1804448244

    Here it is –

    By way of clarification, I don’t want to overstate my knowledge of this situation or involvement in it. I have spoken with neither Tony nor Julie about the details of their divorce, only reviewed some relevant documents and emails. I am not a close associate of Tony’s, but work with many different event-planners in a given year.

    I realize the conversation emerging around this situation on online forums has been incredibly triggering for some people, whose stories I take very seriously. However, I am not equipped to host or moderate a forum for discussing the details such situations. In my advocacy for victims of abuse, I have consistently and adamantly encouraged working through the legal system and appropriate mediators to pursue justice, and I have consistently and adamantly discouraged both trial-by-church and trial-by-twitter. If you or someone you love is a victim of abuse, consider contacting the abuse hotline – Thehotline.org, 1-800-799-7233.

    What makes the “Why Christian?” event so important to me is that it is meant to empower and lift up women whose voices have not always been empowered and lifted up in the church. It has been disheartening to see those speakers harassed on social media, and I have a hard time understanding how diminishing their voices is helpful.

    It’s important to me to do what I believe is right and ethical with the information I have and in the forum I moderate. In this endeavor, I humbly ask for your patience and grace.

  213. @ Jeff S:

    I am sorry for my thoughtless words. I was thinking and writing in the context of Jones’ claims. That his wife had a severe mental disorder and so it was ok to abandon her. I was thinking along the lines of if they have a mental disorder(severe depression, bipolar issues, etc) but they aren’t harming you and you aren’t in danger, you can’t just leave them. And wasn’t meant to encompass the totality of unhealthy and abusive relationships.

    Being abused obviously has a wide spectrum of definitions. Physical abuse being the most obvious and dangerous.

  214. dee wrote:

    Linn wrote:

    I find it creepy that someone would name their ministry group “JoPa” after what happened back in Penn State. Yuck!

    Great insight! I didn’t think about that.

    Just got to this thread today. For the record, Jo/nes and Pa/gett named their business *before* the news about Penn State broke.

    I had some minimal ftf interaction with them at the time when all the bad stuff was going on, about which I had absolutely no inkling. I even met Julie once, the only time I visited Solomon’s Porch.

    I read the whole Naked Pastor comment thread a couple of weeks after it began, and kept checking back until Dave closed it. Julie said there that she is writing a book, and I hope she does. I haven’t been part of any aspect of Protestantism, including emerging church circles, for some years now, but I’ll buy the book if for no other reason than to help her stay on her feet financially.

    People do strange and irrational things when they’re afraid. I believe Julie.

  215. Tweet by Lydia on Twitter

    lydia ‏@lydiamalone00 4h4 hours ago

    @XianJaneway @watchkeep @rachelheldevans @SheldonGC89 @RhysMcKavanagh I was blocked by RHE. think my horrible words were: #IstandwithJulie

  216. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I cannot respect any man who abandons his wife. Outside of physical abuse, I always contend for staying and loving them to the end.

    We will agree and disagree here. I appreciate your impulse for fidelity through difficulty, and I think you have in mind something like the treachery described in Malachi. But I think we need to be careful with words like “abandon.” Gramp3 and I have worked with more than a few couples, and some of them were personality-disordered couples. Our work was not as therapists but just as old people who have walked the path awhile and who try to keep the main thing the main thing while seeking to honor the Lord in all.

    There are some seriously damaged people who pass their pain into the next generation. Persons with narcissistic or borderline or OCPD traits are very disturbed people with distorted thinking patterns and beliefs about nearly everything. They are very resistant to efforts to change their behavior and their thinking because it feels normal to them while everyone else has the problem. It is extremely difficult to inject reason into their thinking or get them to see or care about the consequences of their behavior. That is not a condemnation of them, because many of them have experienced trauma themselves. The greater good is to break the cycle, even if that means breaking the marriage to save the children and further trauma to the adults.

    I think that a man *or* a woman who is in a situation where they are being abused and where their children are being abused is not abandoning a spouse who repeatedly refuses to seek help and then follow through. The person who refuses to participate in the healing process is the one who has abandoned the marriage. I *do* think that neither a man *nor* a woman should allow their children to be endangered physically or emotionally or spiritually if they have the power to prevent it. That is going to look different in different situations, and sometimes there are choices that are only “bad” or “truly awful.”

    There are no simple formulas and no exhaustive and perfect algorithms to decide who stays and who leaves and when and why. Those are matters for careful discernment and thought and the input of persons experienced with all aspects of very difficult situations.

    We even were involved with others in trying to help a BPD-NPD (professionally diagnosed) Christian couple salvage their marriage. That was challenging and emotionally exhausting for us even as non-family. They ultimately divorced, shared custody, and the kids are doing great with the help of some very involved grandparents and other adults. The outcome would have been very different had they stayed together, IMO.

    We need to remember that God is not concerned with rules over impacts on people. It was the Pharisees who defended the rule of Sabbath observance over the need of people to eat. The point of marriage for Christians is not to cohabit until one of them dies. The point is to put on display the redemptive power that Christ brings into the lives of those who trust in him. That does not devalue marriage but elevates it to what Christ intended it to be.

  217. @ Adam Borsay:

    Sorry, I just saw your reply to Jeff after I wrote my non-winsome lecture above. I hear your heart, to use another Christian cliche. 😉 But I mean it.

  218. Adam Borsay wrote:

    @ Jeff S:
    I am sorry for my thoughtless words. I was thinking and writing in the context of Jones’ claims. That his wife had a severe mental disorder and so it was ok to abandon her. I was thinking along the lines of if they have a mental disorder(severe depression, bipolar issues, etc) but they aren’t harming you and you aren’t in danger, you can’t just leave them. And wasn’t meant to encompass the totality of unhealthy and abusive relationships.
    Being abused obviously has a wide spectrum of definitions. Physical abuse being the most obvious and dangerous.

    Fair enough- I apologize if I was too touchy. It’s a topic I’ve wrestled with a lot, because I really, really wanted to save my ex-wife if I could, so I’m probably triggered easily.

    I see what you are saying, and I agree. Even though it didn’t work out for me in the long run, I think we should make every effort stand by our spouses, even/especially when mental illness strikes.

  219. Eagle wrote:

    I’m disgusted with Greg Boyd. Really disgusted.

    It’s a hard thing to discover that those whom we admire often have feet of clay. Like I said in a previous comment on this thread, that if the facts come out that Jones really is in the wrong and should not be given a pass, Boyd should do the right thing too.

  220. XianJaneway In this endeavor, I humbly ask for your patience and grace.

    If RHE reads here, I would want to say this: between an abuser and a victim, it is the victim who asks for the difficult task- to take risks and action that can carry consequence. The abuser asks for nothing. If you do or say nothing, you have aided his cause.

    I understand wanting to take time and investigate before taking action- we cannot rush to judgement. But we also have to remember that inactivity and silence always supports the abuser, so we must be careful not to delay too long.

  221. Lydia wrote:

    NPD’s play a chess game several steps ahead. You are the pawn but did not even know you were playing. You are thinking something like: Save my marriage, get help. He was thinking: How can I set her up to get out of this marriage and not look bad to my followers.

    Excellent description. Case in point: My ex. He said, “Maybe we should go for counseling.”

    I thought wow, maybe there is hope after all!

    My hope lasted about half a second, because the next thing out of his mouth was “Boy, are YOU going to get an education!”

    As it turned out, the counselor saw right through him and pronounced him a narcissist, so he was the one who got the education. He did not take it well. He stomped out of the counselor’s office in a huff, and very soon stomped out of the house for the last time. (And I held the door open for him.)

  222. Gram3 wrote:

    There are no simple formulas and no exhaustive and perfect algorithms to decide who stays and who leaves and when and why. Those are matters for careful discernment and thought and the input of persons experienced with all aspects of very difficult situations.

    We need to remember that God is not concerned with rules over impacts on people. It was the Pharisees who defended the rule of Sabbath observance over the need of people to eat.

    Words of wisdom for sure. Thanks, Gram3!

  223. @ Eeyore:
    I hope I didn’t come across as criticizing you. I’m sorry if I did.

    Since my former cult had adopted Anabaptist teachings and lifestyle I’ve been very interested in the abuse that takes place in these denoms. I discovered Yoder’s misconduct and the sexual abuse among the Amish a few years ago because I went looking for it. That’s all.

    I suspect there isn’t a sect of Christianity that doesn’t have its dark side.

  224. @ Jeff S:
    I’m glad for what you said JeffS, & for Adam’s reply. There are other kinds of abuse than physical, which are immensely destructive & impossible to continue with. Sometimes you realise you will not survive, as I did….& for me I was the one who asked my husband to leave, but only after he flagrantly did something he knew would get him asked to leave. It is easy to feel a huge failure for this, despite the relief & sometimes euphoria of being out of a grindingly hard situation.

  225. @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    No offense taken.

    FWIW, was not aware of Hauerwas’ family struggles, or his faithfulness, either. At least there is some wheat that isn’t turning into chaff in my mouth…

  226. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I suspect there isn’t a sect of Christianity that doesn’t have its dark side.

    I sadly agree with this. We need to lower our expectations to ‘realism’ because no matter how many things are right with something, it still involves humans.

  227. Corbin wrote:

    My guess is that this “Spiritual” spouse stuff is going to be the wave of the future for young Christians.

    It’s Christianese for “My SOULMATE” (which is NEVER the one you’re married to).

    Now Young Christians can get into the pants of every Spiritual Wife(TM) that comes along, possibly more than one at a time (just like The Biblical Patriarchs! David! Solomon! Joseph Smith! Brigham Young! Boopsie-Woopsie Hagee!)

  228. Muff Potter wrote:

    Held-Evans & Bolz-Weber (as the Deebs and others have suggested) have a golden opportunity to do the homework and then do the right thing if the homework warrants it.
    Question is, will they?

    “But such is the lure of the limelight, how quickly
    It takes hold of the mind of its host;
    And that foolish pony did nothing to stop
    The destruction of one who had needed her most…”
    — Ponyphonic, “Lullaby for a Princess”

  229. Eagle wrote:

    @ Lydia:

    Tony is not the victim…he is the perpetrator IMO. What makes this disturbing, and believe me the entire situation is disturbing is the following. He was a Chaplin for the Police at the time this all happened.

    And Cops always close ranks and stick together against non-Cops.

  230. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    It’s Christianese for “My SOULMATE” (which is NEVER the one you’re married to).
    Now Young Christians can get into the pants of every Spiritual Wife(TM) that comes along, possibly more than one at a time (just like The Biblical Patriarchs! David! Solomon! Joseph Smith! Brigham Young! Boopsie-Woopsie Hagee!)

    It’s sad. As time goes by, I’m pretty sure more and more progressives are going to declare marriage as irrelevant and outdated; the only thing that will matter is mutual consent in “partnerships” which is just glorified boyfriend/girlfriend goofiness.

  231. Julie McMahon wrote:

    The officer instead of meeting me at the corner as I asked, first went alone to the door and spoke to silver-tongued, hunting buddy, chili fest host, police chaplain Tony.

    “Cop unto Cop o’er the world is Brother…”

    COPS ALWAYS CLOSE RANKS AND STICK TOGETHER AGAINST NON-COPS.

    JUST LIKE PRISON GUARDS. IF YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM, YOU BELONG IN PRISON; YOU JUST HAVEN’T BEEN CAUGHT YET.

  232. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Nice. Speaking of money, RHE left an interesting variant of her response on R.L. Stollar’s blog. Here is the new text: “I am not a close associate of Tony’s, but work with many different event-planners in a given year. I am not, as some have said, dependent upon Tony for all of my income.”

    Once again, that’s a very misleading way of addressing legitimate questions. No one has claimed that Rachel depends on Tony for “all of [her] income.” If Rachel’s support of “spiritual marriage” Tony really isn’t about money, then what is it?

  233. @ dee:

    Thanks for the welcome.

    I’ll be back on Friday with a more detailed reply. Check out Riot Stollar’s recent post “What to do with abuse allegations” for a reply by me there.

    As for the stuff a year ago, I acted foolishly and clingy to two women of SCCL, pushing them to talk to me, and talking to others about the conversations with them when they had asked me to stop contacting them. There is no excuse for my actions, and as such I believe many at SCCL find me untrustworthy. I’ve changed over the year, but haven’t been in contact with SCCL, so they’ve not been given a chance to watch that change. I consider myself a more stable person now, but I own that I’ve done foolish things in the past.

    What I don’t want is for us all standing for Julie to get mixed up with any past conflicts with SCCL members, or my current association with bloggers people at SCCL don’t like. What matters here is Julie finding justice. Nothing else.

  234. Lisa wrote:

    @ Julie McMahon: Julie, I am so sorry for you. I have a NPD business partner and understand how you feel. He works the crowd, is charming, and everyone gets in line to do his bidding. I, too, have been maligned, accused of lying and called crazy.

    I grew up with a Sweet Little Angel(TM) of a younger brother who was just like that. Had a nightmare about him doing the same to me as recently as last weekend. (In the dream, criminal charges were involved and he was telling me exactly how he was going to shift all the blame to me and nobody wold ever believe me because I was The Crazy One. Except for the criminal frame-up, this was very true-to-life.)

  235. @ Sara:
    Thank you. This is, imo, emphatically not about taking sides and making demands.

    I am bothered more than i can say by the polarisation and reduction of what are undoubtedly complex issues for all to Twitter hashtags. I distrust all of it at this point.

  236. Lydia wrote:

    NPD’s play a chess game several steps ahead. You are the pawn but did not even know you were playing. You are thinking something like: Save my marriage, get help. He was thinking: How can I set her up to get out of this marriage and not look bad to my followers.

    And using my brother as an example, they not only play their chess game several steps ahead, but several YEARS ahead, plotting, grooming, and setting up for the day when they finally lower the boom and the victim KNOWS they have nowhere to go, no one to turn to, no help coming at all. As the NPD smiles with total innocence and says in a voice only his victim can hear: “I. WIN.”

  237. I have to ask you guys: do youmthink Twitter hashtags are actually helping? To my mind, it is painful to see many people at odds with each other, but I’m not at all convinced that going to war against them is going to be beneficial to anyone involved.

    I have a feeling that this pov isn’t exactly popular, but there it is.

  238. Something someone here said caused me to have a deeper thought about some of these issues. To explain, let me share a general thought process I have had in the past concerning people’s responses to things like this.

    I have dealt with a NPD Sr Pastor, I have been in challenging spiritual situations due to unhealthy leadership, but it has never once been a “problem”. A while back people were discussing how the bad behavior of “leaders” is causing people to leave the faith. And I was incredulous about that. Not once has it even crossed my mind, regardless of the depravity I have come across, that my faith was built on shaky soil.

    I was having trouble conceptualizing how and why such responses occur for people. For some reason today’s post clicked a light bulb for me….

    We too easily attach ourselves to PEOPLE then belief. The person comes first, then we adopt their positions. So the positions we take theologically/spiritually/intellectually etc, are dependent upon that individual. When the person fails in some significant way, due to the process of the development of my “personal” position, I suddenly start questioning everything.

    It sort of reminds me of that old argument that Paul had to sort out regarding everyone arguing about which individual camp they were a part of. In no way am I implying some specialness on my part, but perhaps the way I am wired and was raised, I have never taken too much stock in people. I can appreciate and value their contributions to my growth and learning, but I don’t think I have ever conflated the person with the position. So, when that person goes off the rails, I am saddened on a personal level, but never overly concerned on a theological issue.

    This event hopefully can serve to illustrate how dangerous it is for us to put anyone on a pedestal. We inadvertently(perhaps sometimes by some people…purposely) tie believers, especially young ones, to imperfect people who will inevitably mess up.

  239. Lydia wrote:

    The last thing we want is for NPD life to become a kid’s normal.

    Because then the kid WANTS to become NPD, WANTS to be a Sociopath. (And will try to turn himself into one.) Because NPD is normal and Sociopaths are Winners.
    “Be a User,
    Be an Abuser,
    Be a Winner,
    Not a Loser!”

  240. How is it that you guys are so certain that you have *all* of the relevant info.? While i agree that much about this is awful, i feel like a voyeur, especially when reading repeated “diagnoses” of one of the parties in question. Even if the do have NPD and have done terrible things.

    Where is it written that we all get the right to play both judge and jury? I think Patrice and some other commenters have made good points, which are just plain being ignored. That’s not right.

    OK, I’ve probably said too much this time.

  241. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    As the NPD smiles with total innocence and says in a voice only his victim can hear: “I. WIN.”

    I have encountered many nasty characters in my 60 years, but they were just out-in-the-open nasty characters. I thank the Lord I never encountered anyone like you and others have described. Not that there is any reason to make an effort to mess up my life – I have done a fine job of that all by myself, thank you very much…

  242. @ Eagle:

    All over this post and comments the term “EV” pops up. I must have missed a post or two where that acronym was defined. Please enlighten me.

  243. numo wrote:

    How is it that you guys are so certain that you have *all* of the relevant info.?
    OK, I’ve probably said too much this time.

    I think there is only one piece of relevant info that matters. Tony Jones “spiritually married” someone else while still legally married to Julie, it is publicly recorded that he claimed she was crazy AND THEN left the kids with her. EVEN if Julie has significant issues that are being glossed over in all of this and it is being too heavily weighted to paint TJ in a bad light, the main issue as stated above still holds great importance.

    And again, even if she is a bit nutty, the fact that it is easily shown that she was gaslighted and “attacked” and ignored for over 5 years, is the main problem. Personally, I have no dog in this fight, if it turns out that Julie is equally to blame as TJ, that’s fine by me, but the problem is TJ and company have clearly been unwillingly to let people truly know what is going on and have been slimy and dishonest about the whole thing. And THAT deserves to be criticized.

  244. StillWiggling wrote:

    My hope lasted about half a second, because the next thing out of his mouth was “Boy, are YOU going to get an education!”

    As it turned out, the counselor saw right through him and pronounced him a narcissist, so he was the one who got the education.

    Because counselor had probably been BSed by NPDs many times before, and knew all the indicators and tricks. Like a boot trying to pull a fast one on a gunny sergeant with half a dozen hash marks. (I’ve seen someone trying to give the runaround to a retired Air Force Tech Sergeant; for every runaround trick the guy knew, the retired Sgt knew a dozen and all the ways around them.)

  245. Man, my list of Christian authors I have respect for has been shortened these last couple of days.

  246. @ numo:
    It’s hard to get the whole story by following what is currently unfolding with RHE.

    When I read NakedPastors blog a few months ago, when this exchange first took place, Julie asked for some acknowledgement from the men who had been involved with Tony’s accusations of her being crazy. A few (2 or 3? I can’t remember.) did apologize to her. My impression was that her mistreatment is very real.

  247. As with some of the other movements you guys write about, I do not know many of the personalities involved in this post. I am roughly familiar with the so-called Emergent crowd, but I can’t keep up with who is who. I am familiar with RHE based on previous discussions and reading reviews of her book. I have never taken her seriously, but I understand her appeal.

    I am proud of Dee and Deb for talking about this crowd.

    As many have said, this just shows that bad behavior knows no theological bounds. I learned that at age 19, and fortunately learned it in a loving community that helped me not to jettison all the good theology I had learned.

    I am not really shocked by any of this. One who knows the history of Paul Tillich (sp?) realizes that bad character exists among liberal theologians as well as conservative ones.

    Let’s all be glad that we follow Christ! Not only our savior and way above us, but also a good example in all things.

  248. Jeff S wrote:

    These things cannot easily be boiled down to a set of concrete rules; best to let people who are in the situations figure out for themselves whether the relationship is something that is honoring God and should persist.

    So very true.

  249. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    JUST LIKE PRISON GUARDS. IF YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM, YOU BELONG IN PRISON; YOU JUST HAVEN’T BEEN CAUGHT YET.

    Deebs – May I ask if this typecasting of an entire class of people is allowed? My son is a prison guard and an honest and good person.

  250. From Rachel: “Please don’t assume that my lack of immediate public comment means I have closed the door on this or am not listening. My current position in the midst of this requires thoughtful and careful planning, communication, and patience. Just because I can’t respond right away doesn’t mean I won’t or that I don’t take this seriously.” (1hr)

    Also: “I shouldn’t have phrased that first comment that way. I’m sorry.”

    In comment under Wartburg Watch’s Tony Jones synopsis:

    https://www.facebook.com/stuffchristianculturelikes?fref=nf

  251. Adam Borsay wrote:

    We too easily attach ourselves to PEOPLE then belief. The person comes first, then we adopt their positions. So the positions we take theologically/spiritually/intellectually etc, are dependent upon that individual.

    That’s an excellent point. Whether the person is living or dead, we must be careful not to identify with any person other than Christ. We must not have heroes, theological or others. The reason I harp on the Gospel Glitterati is because of the idolatry, and I mean unquestioning are-these-not-the-words-of-a-god idolatry, of people like Grudem and Piper and Mohler and Dever and Duncan. Ten years ago I would have included Mahaney and Driscoll in that list. Despite books on humility, these men encourage the idolatry because it feeds their egos and their bank accounts.

    These young people have yielded their thinking ability over to mere humans, and in the process have disabled the work of the Holy Spirit in leading them to the truth. The young people are caught up in a Noble Cause, and even the Mahaney and Driscoll meltdowns will not cause them to stop and think about the toxicity of the underlying theology that produced those disasters.

    I am not familiar with Progressive Christianity, but I wonder if there is not a similar dynamic there. Like the conservatives, the Progressives are attached to people or Noble Causes, and they lose the ability or the willingness to live by principles. People who are familiar with the personalities and issues could address that much better, since RHE is the only one of these people I have any knowledge of at all. I did learn from Owen (not John) that she has some magical power over his social media accounts, which was fascinating. 😉

    We must be Bereans, and we must make space for others to be Bereans. When personalities and celebrities fail, it does not give us cause to give up on Jesus, but it certainly should make us stop and think about what has happened and why, and then we should take a long look in the mirror.

  252. @ Patrice:

    I am so glad she is changing her tune and tactic because the early stuff was horrible…the dismissive comments, deleting, blocking,etc. I hope she means it and will treat Julie with a bit more respect as one who has championed other victims in the fundy world in the past.

  253. @ Patrice:
    Thanks; i hope there’s more to come.

    I wonder if any of us would be able to make an instantaneous decision if we were in the same position? My hunch is that allowing people some time to think things through is very important, and that intense pressure via social media isn’t necessarily the best way to change minds and hearts.

  254. numo wrote:

    Where is it written that we all get the right to play both judge and jury? I think Patrice and some other commenters have made good points, which are just plain being ignored. That’s not right.

    OK, I’ve probably said too much this time.

    You have not said too much. In fact I think it would be helpful if you would summarize the main points that you think are being lost. No one who has dealt with a divorcing couple and especially one with adultery and difficult personality(ies) would say that it is a good idea to armchair referee. OTOH, anyone who has had dealings with a disordered personality knows that things are not the way they seem to outsiders. Been there, done that, complete with the gaslighting and table turning.

    I do think that clear issues are being mingled with less-clear issues.

  255. @ numo:
    I am sure that all the pressure has helped, you know? I am all for pressure. It is how wethechurch, wethepeople, get things done.

    But also patience and offering ways forward.

    I’m just sorry that it has taken so many years for all of us to find out about it and get the pressure going. It had to have been just awful for Julie and her kids.

  256. raswhiting wrote:

    My son is a prison guard and an honest and good person.

    Maybe HUG was referring to the Stanford Prison Experiment. That’s the first thing I thought of anyway. That had to do with human nature and not prison guards per se, IIRC.

    I am thankful for people like your son who work to keep the rest of us safe.

  257. “To be an abuse advocate only when it doesn’t hurt your profit is to miss the point of church entirely. Church is either a safe space where those broken can seek sanctuary or it is nothing at all reminiscent of Christ

    As more and more abused come forward seeking sanctuary only to be turned away to seek the proper legal channels the church loses its meaning and purpose.”

    “As more and more conferences are held that are sponsored by organizations headed by alleged abusers, their stories given credence, even before the process of finding the truth of the allegations has ended, the church becomes just another shady organization, willing to compromise and bend the rules of decency for profit. Meanwhile abuse survivors find no safety there. They turn to twitter, or facebook groups, they turn to different and other forms of faith community, where they are heard, believed, and loved. Where they are given sanctuary.”

    https://theperegrinatio.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/sanctuary/

  258. @ Patrice:
    I agree, but expecting people to make snap decisions is neither fair nor realistic. RHE is talking with commenters on the SCCL FB page as i type, and I’m liking what i see (though not the comments that say “Rachel, you’re dead to me” and the like – to be fair, there aren’t many of those).

    Stephanie Drury is getting it in the neck for her lates post there, though. Which also makes me sad, as she is talking from a perspective (having experienced abuse but also trying to see how/why people react to attacks and giving them some space and having patience) that isn’t sitting well with people who are angry.

    How sad that her compassion is evoking a nasty backlash!

    Also, i think the cartoon David Hayward posted today says WAY more on behalf of Julie and others who’ve been abused than 99% of the verbiage out here.

  259. @ Patrice:
    Yes, but some people have, imo, gone a little too far. It is important to listen and to talk things through, and that calls for kore than Twitter hashtags. Even more so when the convos don’t involve face to face contact and rely on words alone, without other normal conversational cues.

  260. Justin Hanvey wrote:

    As for the stuff a year ago, I acted foolishly and clingy to two women of SCCL, pushing them to talk to me, and talking to others about the conversations with them when they had asked me to stop contacting them. There is no excuse for my actions, and as such I believe many at SCCL find me untrustworthy. I’ve changed over the year, but haven’t been in contact with SCCL, so they’ve not been given a chance to watch that change. I consider myself a more stable person now, but I own that I’ve done foolish things in the past.

    “Clingy” hardly covers it, Justin. While I’m glad to know that you’re openly admitting that there was no excuse for your actions, it’s likely best that you fully acknowledge the nature of those actions. They weren’t simply foolish. They were inappropriate in the extreme. I hope you are truly a more stable person now. That would be an unmitigated good.

    Your appearance here, especially because you seem to be promising some disclosure of private correspondence, does not bode well however. I would strongly recommend that you reconsider, and I would likewise urge the moderators to confirm that any such disclosures are made with the approval of Ms. Evans. It is difficult to imagine how they might be since she is fully capable of disclosing things for herself.

    Proceed with caution with Mr. Hanvey.

  261. @ Lydia:
    Some of it is, imo, very unfair. I think any of us can drop into lynch mob mode. And fwiw, i had said the same thing regarding reaction in my comment on Stephy’s latest..l

  262. Not sure if folks are aware that Julie has made the point this is NOT about the divorce. It is much more involved than that. Her marginalization came from a public figure ex husband pastor, her church community and even law enforcement because he was a police chaplain. He used those things against her and rallied many against her. Why the spiritual wife thing is not enough for RHE, I don’t know. That concerns me about her, too.

    So please, lets stop pretending this is about a private divorce situation. That is what RHE is trying to say, too. It is much more. Julie has gone public. She has been dealing with this “legally” for years so RHE got that one wrong, too. And who can mediate with an NPD, for crying out loud? It was made clear on Naked Pastor back in Sept by Julie this is not about the “divorce”. It is much bigger than that.

  263. @ numo:

    one man’s lynch mob is another’s voices for the oppressed. Not sure how Lynch mobs work on social media except for words some don’t like. :o)

    Like Gram, I would like to hear your suggestions on how to deal with this topic?

  264. @ numo:
    Naked Pastor’s last two cartoons and posts are his best ever, IMO.

    Public pressure is a messy chaotic thing, but when all else fails, it can be highly effective.

  265. @ Karl:
    Karl, Thank you for getting it. NPD is a rare animal. Like I said, the psych professional has never given the full blown (not traits, not tendencies) in her 25 years of practice. These people don’t slip up. The veneer is flawless. I am surprised and disappointed that the Pastors would not come to a screeching halt and cut all business ties with the diagnosis alone being known. Is this not part of seminary training? It is the twin of a sociopath! Key people have seen the psych eval. It’s real. And, it’s scary.

  266. @ numo:
    then why all the comments about this? I stay confused, I admit. Not sure what you want or where you are going or what you are trying to communicate. It seems like you want responses but then you don’t after a response?

  267. @ Patrice:
    Well, but the thing is – he is using cartoons, and i like how that works. Much more pithy and to-the-point than Twitter wars, or at least, i think so.

    Some people commenting at SCCL won’t be satisfied unless RHE dons sackcloth and ashes, it seems. I don’t like that, any more than i lije the defenses of TJ andthe whole EV crew.

  268. @ Lydia:
    I tried discreet. I tried private. I tried nice. The only thing an NPD cares about is their public image. That’s why this is public. He is a public figure.

  269. @ Lydia:
    I have never found it easy to talk with you, and, i think, likewise. Better that i hadn’t responded in the 1st place, but since i can’t delete my comments here, i can’t undo it all.

    Pax,
    numo

  270. Gram3 wrote:

    I am thankful for people like your son who work to keep the rest of us safe

    Thank you to Gram3 and to numo for your kind responses.

    I also protest the broad brush characterization of all police officers in that earlier post. It is a falsehood. For example in Maine last year a retired commander of our state police was arrested and convicted of a sex crime.

  271. @ numo:
    Key people have viewed the hard evidence I speak of. I would never dare go public without the backing of a group of supporters and irrefutable evidence.

  272. Patrice wrote:

    Public pressure is a messy chaotic thing, but when all else fails, it can be highly effective.

    It certainly says something about the efficacy of the legal system and “appropriate” channels if someone like Julie has no other choice but take her concerns to the public forum.

  273. Lydia wrote:

    To call it gossip is no different than what SGM or any of the others have done.

    (Dictionary: Glitterati Version)

    gossip
    \gos-uh p\

    noun
    1. truthful, accurate talk, especially in reference to church leaders, that fails to promote a uniformly positive image of the same and in any material way prevents said leaders from furthering their agenda.

    For example, “This vicious gossip about Tony Jones is really cutting into the book sales and conference speaking honoraria.”

  274. @ Sensible:
    With an NPD I think that is the only channel. To expose the gas lighting pattern and tell your story. MLK was arrested 30 times….I’m just saying an arrest staged and carefully calculated by someone with the words, “sadistic traits” on their psych evals not what it seems on a piece of paper RHE and I guess all 21 speakers were provided (which in and of itself is horrid) and I past that evidence of extreme smear campaign and gas lighting onto my lawyer. I am still fighting that arrest charge in court and will take it to trial if necessary. It was sick and wrong. And now he is using it to discredit me as a person. I explained in great detail of the Stuff Christian Culture Likes that entire event and won’t again here but it is a great illustration to the level of evil. I do consider this as do the people holding my story with me spiritual warfare.

  275. @ numo:
    But Naked Pastor’s last two cartoons/posts, as well as the other lovely sturdy bloggers such as Deebs, are made effective by our collective protest.

    It is grievous that Julie and her children have been left to languish for so long. It is because of a long series of denials and political shenanigans that we are come to this. The longer wrongs fester, the more complicated they are to repair.

    But yes, as we apply the pressure, we need to call each other out when we use another group’s mistakes to further our own group’s agendas. That is dishonest and mean-spirited. We also need to call each other out when we rush to condemnation. That merely increases likelihood of failure.

    If I’m reading you correctly, you are seeing some signs of these things. I have seen some, too.

    We must be angry and sin not. But still, be angry, yes?

  276. @ Sensible:
    Yes. But not only our legal system, but our own social systems inside the church. In every corner of Christendom, this sort of failure rears ups. It is inconscionable !

  277. @ Patrice:
    Yes, agreed. Which is why i think it is vital that people like Steph Drury be read, and carefully. I don’t like the partisanship I’m seeing from some people.

  278. Corbin wrote:

    Sorry, this is completely off topic and not meant to distract from the seriousness of this thread, but I love your name.

    When people used to ask my dad (who would have been 102 last November) how he was, he would say, “Oh, I’m still wiggling.” 🙂

  279. @ Patrice:
    I think one of the reasons those cartoons work so well is that they are direct and honest (and angry) without being mean-spirited. And they are universal, speaking to many more situations that this one.

  280. And, from what I understand from Julie’s comments on Naked Pastor, for several years she tried to post on various forums, and TJ used his privilege behind the scenes to get her comments deleted. Julie, please correct me if I’ve misunderstood. Naked Pastor was the first place that allowed her to speak… how many years later?

  281. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Eagle wrote:

    And Cops always close ranks and stick together against non-Cops.

    Per Julie, on the Naked Pastor thread, Tony is well aware of this reality. When she said she would call the police after he threw her down he said something along the lines of there being a “code of the blue” and “they’ll never believe you”.

  282. @ Julie McMahon:
    Much of US Christianity has a deep suspicion of psychology. I am not sure why, maybe because they feel it veers into their territory?

    I doubt the seminarians are taught anything at all about DSM diagnoses. Anyone feel free to correct me, I’d love to be wrong.

    From what I can tell, seminaries still tend to be very heavy on theology and light on relational knowledge.

  283. dee wrote:

    Amy Smith wrote:
    @greg_boyd: @StuffCCLikes @henryimler True, but Stephanie, we don’t know who “the victim” is until all allegations are thoroughly investigated.
    This is where Boyd is wrong. There are proven victims. The children.

    Another victim is Boyd’s credibility.

  284. Adam Borsay wrote:

    We too easily attach ourselves to PEOPLE then belief.

    You are SO right. In the last couple of years, my church has opened a second church on the opposite coast, and a few months ago the senior pastor moved there. As he (and the rest of the leadership) have not yet felt called to seek out another pastor, he comes back to us “live” about once a month; the rest of the time we get him on video. (Meanwhile, we have a good pastoral staff in place to see to our pastoral needs in his absence.)

    When I learned he was moving away and we would no longer have him full time, at first I thought “Oh, no!” but then I reminded myself that I follow Jesus, not a pastor.

    And the last time the pastor was here, I told him about that, and he said “Don’t follow ME, you’ll be in trouble if you do!”

  285. numo wrote:

    I don’t like the partisanship I’m seeing from some people.

    I really want to understand, and maybe I just don’t have the background. Who are the parties, and what is the partisanship you are writing about? I read the post on SCCL FB and thought it was quite charitable toward all concerned. I admit I find it hard to understand why RHE would associate with Tony Jones and why the spiritual marriage thing was not enough to turn her away from that course. Is that being partisan? To me that just seems like plain common sense if your main concern is the least of these. I must be missing something or misunderstanding your point.

  286. @ numo:
    Yes! Thinking of the many wonderful cartoons made over the centuries, embodied opinions intended to clarify for the public what they already understand, to help them focus and act. The cartoonist and the public in a reciprocal relationship.

    They have been used to encourage terrible actions as well as good ones. I appreciate Hayward’s heart.

  287. @ Gram3:

    Numo, forgot to say that I agree that social media makes it difficult to process complicated issues well, and we should pray that Rachel thinks through the implications. I do think there is a redemptive course just like there was/is for SGM and Driscoll. I hope that RHE chooses more wisely that those men did/are doing.

    But, in fairness, if someone makes their name via social media and engages controversy there, then ISTM they should be prepared for pushback like the pushback they give to others, should they not?

    I don’t do Twitter, for obvious reasons, and I get your objection to reductionist or hasty and uninformed hashtag campaigns. But isn’t that the point of Twitter, for better or worse?

  288. StillWiggling wrote:

    When people used to ask my dad (who would have been 102 last November) how he was, he would say, “Oh, I’m still wiggling.”

    That must be a really good memory of him. 🙂

  289. Gram3 wrote:

    I don’t do Twitter, for obvious reasons, and I get your objection to reductionist or hasty and uninformed hashtag campaigns. But isn’t that the point of Twitter, for better or worse?

    I’ve found Twitter can actually be very helpful, if you take the right approach to it. The hashtags have been especially usefull for me in finding/collating sources and articles on this issue.

  290. @numo, @Patrice and others — thanks for the links to the latest on SCCL, and clips from Rachel Held Evans about her reconsidering things, and reminders that this shouldn’t be civil war or uncivil either. [“Katniss, remember who the real enemy is …” Finnick Odair, *The Hunger Games: Catching Fire*]

    I read the SCCL comments from Ms Evans. She received some really stark, direct feedback there about the negative impact her two official comments had. Thankfully, from her short responses, it feels like she is listening and that her tone may be shifting. The glimmer of hope seems to be glowing a bit brighter … although this is bound to continue being messy for the time being. But, the way I see things at the moment, it actually could end up far worse if we try to submerge the mess — again.

    People may disagree strongly with the opinion I’m about to share, but I’m thinking it’s better to get through this now than not, and have it boomerang back in a few years. I mentioned in an earlier comment that I’d spent a significant amount of time in research on situations related to Emergent and Tony/Julie. When Julie was not heard back in 2009/2010, I knew in my gut this would erupt again. It did in a major way in 2014, with the epic 1000+ comment thread on NakedPastor.

    In comparing those two incidents, what I noticed is that both of them seemed to be sparked by online posts by Tony Jones that were interpreted as hypocritical by Julie. Bill Kinnon earlier linked to one of the 2009/2010 posts. Follow that through and see what you think. There were others about the “spiritual/legal spouse” theology then also, as I recall. Then check out the NakedPastor thread and notice when Julie first commented there and why — the spark — given the immediate context of just-prior comments.

    If the alleged issues of character, theology, and pathology attributed to Tony Jones are anywhere near accurate, that sparking scenario will inevitably play out again, in my opinion. This is serious for all the individuals involved, but it also involves the reputation of Christ, Christians, the Church and Kingdom of God. I wish there had been resolution back then, I hope and pray so even more now, because if it isn’t, this will erupt yet again and, I believe, it would be even worse — more contentious, disruptive, inflammatory for both the people and the Church.

    It’s just too much déjà vu of the meltdown of Mars Hill in 2014. In my research on that case study, it turns out that peers of Mark Driscoll, as well as Mars Hill insider leadership, apparently confronted Mark multiple times for at least the last 15 years. An insider said there was a major confrontation every four years, to no avail except leading to the firing or otherwise exit of those insiders who tried to confront.

    Anyway, there’s that, for what it’s worth. I’ll post some research info in separate comment shortly …

  291. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    NPD’s play a chess game several steps ahead. You are the pawn but did not even know you were playing. You are thinking something like: Save my marriage, get help. He was thinking: How can I set her up to get out of this marriage and not look bad to my followers.

    And using my brother as an example, they not only play their chess game several steps ahead, but several YEARS ahead, plotting, grooming, and setting up for the day when they finally lower the boom and the victim KNOWS they have nowhere to go, no one to turn to, no help coming at all. As the NPD smiles with total innocence and says in a voice only his victim can hear: “I. WIN.”

    I am fond of the old saying, “Lying is like a boomerang. About the time you think ‘all is well’, it hits you in the back of the head.”

  292. @Patrice:

    This time, Julie has had a chance to speak in multiple groups, and others have had a chance to offer support and to discuss. It seems to have gone too far to be submerged, unlike all the times before the Naked Pastor discussion, which began last September.

  293. @ Serena:
    That is correct Serena. I would post and within an hour the blogger would be threatened with legal action if he did not take it down. It was Andrew Jones The Tall Skinny Kiwi who first took me seriously and reached out and asked for my side of the story. He said, “You don’t seem “bat shit” crazy like everyone keeps saying and he did his own independent digging. I am grateful for Andrew and he also put me in touch with Brad Sargeant who helped me make sense of the nightmare I was and am experiencing having decades of experience with spiritual abuse and abuse of privilege and his overall vast knowledge of systems.

  294. @ numo:

    I don’t know everything that is going on here. What I do see is that the same people who called TGC to have CJ step down amidst allegations are saying similar things to RHE.

    No outside of the situation knows what was done in private, it’s true. And we should be careful about rushing to any kind of judgement. However, silence always aids the oppressor, so it’s not enough to “not take sides”. The immediate thing is to determine what is the best way to ensure that the vulnerable are as protected as possible, and then as more information comes to light then act on that.

    In this case, this man has power and influence. Not only is his ex wife vulnerable, but so would anyone who would follow or listen to him. So the best move right now is to put any ministry he has on hold until these allegations can be addressed.

    The hashtags may seem like they are not effective, but for someone who has felt my friend all slip away because of the church’s rejection of me, finding community support is immeasurably comforting.

    Always remember that a victim always asks for more than the abuser. The victim needs change, and costly change at that. To help an abuse victim usually means risk because it means standing up to a powerful individual. But contrast, abusers demand nothing. They like the status quo. They would be happy for everyone to just stop talking about it, and thus they get to look like the peaceful ones.

    Right now, RHE is taking a position that can seriously undermine victims because “don’t talk” sides with abusers. I am only a little sympathetic that she’s not sure how best to deal with his, because she has a ministry and it’s her responsibility to know this stuff. Just like all the abuse victims who have been let down by their ministers, now she is finding she isnt prepared either. But she should be, especially taking up the causes of weak and vulnerable as she has. She should have known that some day this issue would come up in her ministry and prepare herself.

    Now that being said, maybe it’s time for her to learn. And if she does, she can be a powerful force for good. That is something to pray for.

  295. Law Prof wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    To call it gossip is no different than what SGM or any of the others have done.

    (Dictionary: Glitterati Version)

    gossip
    \gos-uh p\

    noun
    1. truthful, accurate talk, especially in reference to church leaders, that fails to promote a uniformly positive image of the same and in any material way prevents said leaders from furthering their agenda.

    For example, “This vicious gossip about Tony Jones is really cutting into the book sales and conference speaking honoraria.”

    Brilliant definition, Law Prof.

    Last week Gram3 proposed making Gospel Glitterati action figures. Your definition should be included on a card (or the box?) of every GGAF!

  296. Patrice wrote:

    @ Julie McMahon:
    Much of US Christianity has a deep suspicion of psychology. I am not sure why, maybe because they feel it veers into their territory?

    I doubt the seminarians are taught anything at all about DSM diagnoses. Anyone feel free to correct me, I’d love to be wrong.

    From what I can tell, seminaries still tend to be very heavy on theology and light on relational knowledge.

    I want to give a response to this: when I spoke about personality disorders on Twitter today, a seminarian asked, “But how do we call someone to repentance for a brain disorder?” Psychology makes their lives messier, & in their-bkack & white thinking, calls the reliability of the Bible into question. (It *doesn’t* in reality, but makes them dig deeper.)

  297. Patrice wrote:

    I agree and am worried!

    I am still reflecting on constructive suggestions for different parties to move forward, because beyond getting through the current mire, we should be thinking about what would make for healthier trajectories in the future — at least, that’s my bias as a futurist. Otherwise it will be more inflammation than information, more deconstruction that is destructive.

    Sheesh. Maybe I should try writing bumper sticker slogans for a living?!

    Thought not.

    Anyway, one component of trying to shape better processes is information. I remember what a Swiss friend of mine said years ago, and it’s stuck with me: “Your decision is only as good as your information.”

    That’s why in situations of conflict, I’m an advocate of being a Berean and reading as many *primary* sources as possible by the people who were there participating, and also *secondary* sources to gain other perspectives by observers, compilers, and interpreters. It’s not the only piece, but it seems to be one piece I’ve been called to help provide.

    Will have some resources pieces up shortly …

    Maybe others who have more background in other conflict resolution gifts could chime in too if they’ve got suggestions for us to think about …

  298. @ Patrice:
    It depends on the denomination. In mine, they are. But i think that’s not true outside of the mainlines, for the most part.

  299. @ Gram3:
    I have already gone into a bit of detail upthread on some of the comments on the SCCL FB page. Not sure i am able to elaborate further.

  300. @ Patrice:
    You are right about both terrible and good actions. I’m very, vety impressed by Hayward’s work. He’s on the “good” side for certain!

  301. Is it okay if I semi-apologize for posting dense chunks of information and opinion? It’s the default way my brain processes information, and when I am strapped for time, it is either get that out now, or nothing, because it takes me reeeally long to write short. My main hope is that the material is helpful. I know not everyone is into research, but for those who are, or those who have otherwise unanswerable questions, these may be of help.

    I will see if I can find my list of historical online source links for people to search what exactly went on in 2009/2010.

    Meanwhile, here are some links to what I’ve been able to synthesize and post in recent years on the Emergent movement and some aspects of the situation surrounding Tony Jones and Julie McMahon.

    * * * * * * *

    #1. EV BACKSTORY. If you’re interested in the backstory of the Emergent Movement, and some of the more recent issues and how they relate to Mars Hill Church, you’ll find a few posts in this category tag. It includes most (maybe all) the posts that include more than a passing reference to the “Emergent mvement” or “Emergent Village.” There’s a lot here about how this arose out of the same primordial emerging soup of the mid-1990s to early 2000s.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/category/1-spiritual-abuse-toxic-ministries/emergent-village/

  302. @ Gram3:
    I think Twitter is great for links to other things, as well as how it was used by many people in Egypt a few years back, to coordinate demonstrations and the like.

    Otherwise, it doesn’t do much for me, and never has. I think one of the problems with both it and FB is that they fuel peoples’ desire for instant responses. Which seems to be a prime factor in many of the negative comments on Stephy Drury’s latest – that she isn’t demanding that RHE and NBW drop everything *immediately,* but says “this takes time to process.” Which it does, especially when you’re new to dealing with direct allegations of abuse. People need a little breathing room so that they can think things through and make decisions. The demand for instantaneous change is unfair and unrealistic.

  303. Jeff S wrote:

    Always remember that a victim always asks for more than the abuser. The victim needs change, and costly change at that. To help an abuse victim usually means risk because it means standing up to a powerful individual. But contrast, abusers demand nothing. They like the status quo. They would be happy for everyone to just stop talking about it, and thus they get to look like the peaceful ones.

    Your comment reminded me of this quote from “Trauma and Recovery” by Judith Herman: “It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering. . .
    In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens.” (pp. 7-8)

  304. @ Jeff S:
    But… check out her recent comments on the Stuff Christian Culture Likes FB page, as mentioned a bit upthread by Patrice and others. It might well be that the tide is starting to turn.

    I know it’s hard to keep up with all of this, since with social media, things can happen an a nanosecond.

  305. Can someone clue in @XianAtty on Twitter to what NPD is. THIS is part of the problem. Ignorance. I did not have an attorney when he trumped up an HRO. In fact when I read it I thought, “What are you up to know? I never want to speak to you ever!” So it stuck then 6 months later he baited and gas lit an arrest for refusing to return the kids from his visitation. Went to his home. 3 squad cars and his cop friend.

  306. @ brad/futuristguy:
    Well, i don’t think coming up with constructive ways to discuss problems is the sole province of futurists. 😉 we ALL need to work on it, imo. But i am very glad that you’re decdicated to this, believe me!

  307. @dee,
    RHE says she works with many event planners a year. So, if Mark or CJ were planning an event, I wonder if she’d work with them? I doubt it, so why Tony? Theology? Money? This is so baffling to me because as a writer she has to process and follow basic rules of logic to put her writing out there. Her involvement in this and her subsequent behavior, comments and excuses are not logical at all. And when one acts in a manner so against their beliefs and convictions I wonder if they really believed what they said they believed in the first place.

  308. Serena wrote:

    This time, Julie has had a chance to speak in multiple groups, and others have had a chance to offer support and to discuss. It seems to have gone too far to be submerged, unlike all the times before the Naked Pastor discussion, which began last September.

    May it be so. May we all make certain that it be so.

  309. #2. 2009, 2010, AND 2014. For most of the historical synthesis I’ve published about what happened in 2009/2010 and 2014, see the series of comments I made on the NakedPastor thread. There will be a lot of facts there, plus some “frameworks” for how I put the pieces together in my own thinking. Here is the main post:

    http://nakedpastor.com/2014/09/tony-jones-on-mark-driscoll-what-came-first-the-thug-or-the-theology/

    Here are what I think are my top four comments that have the most facts and frameworks. If you’re interested in other comments, search for “brad/futuristguy.”

    http://nakedpastor.com/2014/09/tony-jones-on-mark-driscoll-what-came-first-the-thug-or-the-theology/#comment-117683

    http://nakedpastor.com/2014/09/tony-jones-on-mark-driscoll-what-came-first-the-thug-or-the-theology/#comment-118095

    http://nakedpastor.com/2014/09/tony-jones-on-mark-driscoll-what-came-first-the-thug-or-the-theology/#comment-118530

    http://nakedpastor.com/2014/09/tony-jones-on-mark-driscoll-what-came-first-the-thug-or-the-theology/#comment-125886

    This last link (to comment #125886) is particular important. It gives a series of links to comments from Julie with key pieces of information and evidence that were posted in the thread as of September 25, 2014, including:

    * The main documents in evidence – emails, psychiatric evaluation report, MRI, discernment letter, etc.

    * Specifics related to Tony having her arrested for violation of the Order for Protection not to contact him by cell phone.

    * Julie’s psych evaluation that she suffered “acute distress.”

    * Julie has had only 6 months without litigation from Tony ongoing since 2008.

    * Julie and the kids live below the poverty line. At one point Tony owed over $50,000 in child support.

    * Julie’s father spent over $500,000 to fight the custody battles and motions by Tony to reduce his support.

  310. Sara wrote:

    I don’t know what exactly can heal or help the folks in this situation but I know therapy, close friendships and distance from the perps have helped me tremendously. These three things have given me the time and space to acknowledge my pain and to work on developing healthier ways of coping with it. Most days, I still want my day in court. Most days, I still want my pound of flesh. Always, I want justice. The difference is now I know I can survive and even thrive without it. I’m not controlled by it.

    This resonates strongly with me.

    One reason I keep coming back to this blog is that the situations with pastors mirror my long, personality-deforming marriage to a narcissist, and reading about them gives me a reality check. Yes, this stuff really happens. Yes, the children and I are ok now. Yes, I am so very lucky that my husband did not have a similarly public platform and crew of sycophants for his point of view. Comparatively, we got off easy.

    It is very difficult to figure out how best to protect your children when they are too young to understand the way they are being manipulated, and you are so defensive and off balance from years of gas-lighting and shifting, impossible standards. Over years, they and I have learned to how to maintain a civil distance, how to avoid providing narcissistic supply, how to believe in ourselves despite torrents of accusation.

    Recently one of my daughters–now grown–was dating a man who abruptly turned on her and began alternating vicious emails with “hey, aren’t we still friends?” messages. She wondered why she was having so much trouble just shutting him off and moving on, and I mentioned that she basically had been trained since childhood to accept that kind of alternating love/hate treatment as normal. We made so many excuses for him. (And I will forever regret that I didn’t realize sooner that his treatment of us was a recurrent trait, not an occasional response to stress or trouble. It was a feature, not a bug.) She was galvanized by this idea, said that connection had never occurred to her before, and it made perfect sense. She blocked the guy from communication and says she is much more alert to those signs of trouble now.

    Until recently we could not have had that conversation. The years and years I’ve spent biting my tongue and telling myself that the kids need to come to their own conclusions about their dad without badmouthing from me have paid off.

    Julie, hang in there. Your children will have to sort this out for themselves, and I believe they will.

    On another, much less consequential, note: guess who took the jacket picture for Nadia’s recent book? Courtney (Perry) Jones

  311. Julie McMahon wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    Greg Boyd lives in my town and works 20 minutes away. Contact me before publicly casting doubt. WTH?

    Actually, I was agreeing with you. I understand the confusion, I should’ve worded that more clearly. I know Boyd, at least in the sense of having attended Woodland Hills and seen him on the conference circuit when it came rolling through my megachurch up there, used to live in the TC, almost a decade. I was saying that Mr. Boyd, not you or anyone else, was damaging his own credibility. I used to think he was the bomb, I now think he’s just another member of the glitterati. Sad to see, but it seems true.

  312. @ numo:
    Do the seminarians in your denomination learn about DSM diagnoses and how to work with these kinds of disabled people in the context of groups? How to help the larger group understand the disability? And how to counsel them on spiritual matters? Is there any material they’ve put out on these things? I’d love to read them.

    The personality disorders are particularly sticky issues. How are they understood, do you know?

  313. @ Julie McMahon:

    I have a question for you if you are able to answer. I understand if you can’t. When exactly did you take this public? I know the issues began around ’08. Did you wait six years to say something publically?

  314. numo wrote:

    Well, i don’t think coming up with constructive ways to discuss problems is the sole province of futurists. 😉 we ALL need to work on it, imo. But i am very glad that you’re decdicated to this, believe me!

    Amen to that, @numo! And thank you …

    When I participated in an intensive training for futurist skills in 1998-ish, one of the key attitudes that was prevalent was that a primary job of Christians who are futurists is to help instill hope.

    I’ve long felt like hope is about imagining a future that would not otherwise exist if we didn’t do something in the providential situation we find ourselves in. And along the way, I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t feel like they have all that much imagination. So, I ask them if they pray. Wowzers, the weird looks I get from that! Like, duh, of course. So I suggest, “Isn’t prayer actually imagining a future outside of what looks to be inevitable, and asking God to intervene?”

    Hope. Prayer. Imagination. Futures. These are interwoven in ways that are mysterious, but nonetheless real.

    My hope for the current situation is to break out of the otherwise seemingly inevitable loop of: spark –> flame wars –> ashes –> dustbowl –> loss and grief.

    I pray the Spirit reigns and that people move with the Spirit …

  315. @ Ragnarok:

    I was told by a friend on Twitter that some people here were saying they didn’t trust thatI had spoken with Rachel and needed me to prove myself.

    I would rather -not- have to screen cap any of my private conversation with her because it -is- a breach of her privacy. Dee has said she would rather me not as well, so I intend not to.

  316. #3. CATEGORIES OF ISSUES TO CONSIDER. Finally, following is a list from a recent post where I summarized things I hope we can learn from the meltdown of Mars Hill Church. I would suggest that there are issues to consider about Tony and Julie’s situation, JoPa, C21, WX15, etc., within various of the categories below. These elements are what I try to watch for and discern patterns in when I’m doing a case study on a complex situation — as this one surely is.

    Hope eventually to have time to go through and at least list what issues I believe I’ve seen that fit in each category … but not able to do that now.

    The theoretical/theological factors, such as how people process information, what they value and why, what they believe and why, and how all of this affects the ways they configure their organizations, cultures, and social interactions.

    The personal and social factors, such as who the people involved are as individuals and in groups, as producers and consumers, in internal teams and external collaborations, as leaders and participants.

    The organizational factors, such as dimensions that involved strategies and infrastructures, processes and procedures, leadership styles and expectations of participants.

    The institutional and legal factors, such as the larger Christian support network of businesses (e.g., publishers, speaking events, marketing), associations (e.g., formal denominations, informal networks based on common interests and tasks like church planting), and media/marketing venues. Also included are political, legal, and regulatory entities that have civil authority over individuals and organizations.

    The transformational and providential factors, such as how all these layers of factors interconnect and interact, indicators of health and toxicity, how change comes about, and where God’s presence and providence might be lurking in all of this.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/capstone-2-8-conclusions-lessons-to-learn-from-the-meltdown-of-mars-hill/

  317. @ Patrice:
    I can’t give you any detail, but any of the seminaries likely could. Students are definitely taught to refer folks to psych professionals, and if aporopriate, to work together with them to help troubled people. Will write you with more.

  318. Law Prof wrote:

    I now think he’s just another member of the glitterati.

    I might actually pay to see Boyd on the same platform with the Gospel Glitterati. Just don’t see him making it through rush with them.

  319. @ brad/futuristguy:
    You’re da bomb, futurist guy.

    Will also say that one can have all the information at hand, have thought through the issues top to bottom and still be completely ineffective if creative options for moving forward are not found and implemented.

    With a seemingly intractable difficulty like this, ISTM it takes the scientific researcher, the journalist, the cartoonist, the creative thinker, the socially adept, the spiritually wise, the wounded—all of us together–to make change happen.

  320. Patrice wrote:

    I doubt the seminarians are taught anything at all about DSM diagnoses. Anyone feel free to correct me, I’d love to be wrong.

    I don’t know what the are doing now, but I can tell you what SBTS was doing in the mid 60s. They rotated through the psychiatric department of the old Louisville General and also rotated through Central State Hospital (a mental hospital.) Perhaps they did more than that, but I don’t know. I do not know what the were taught in class but I do know they had access to patient charts. They did this as part of a pastoral care class.

    Side comment: one of the seminary students gave a chart to the patient and the patient read the workup I had done. He was some kind of unhappy and he physically attacked me. It was one of the few times that happened with a psych patient. Nobody got hurt, but the seminary student was in deep trouble because he was supposed to know not to do that. (I quit that residency and went into a different specialty, but not because of this.)

  321. XianJaneway wrote:

    on Twitter today, a seminarian asked, “But how do we call someone to repentance for a brain disorder?”

    Oy. That understanding of sin is soooo much too narrow. Poor guy. We need better teachers!

  322. @ numo:
    All the more abhorrent the 6 Emergent leaders diagnosed through “prayer and discernment” remotely from Dallas, Texas Courtney Perry’s home town (I am in Minneapolis) the night the Church Basement Roadshow Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier book tour. Diagnosed me without me only use what Tony was saying and even recommended I be immediately hospitalized. Not one a clinical mental health professional. Courtney was there with Tony that night and I think the oh sh85t this affair is about to bust factor was high. Thus launched the “bat shit” crazy campaign to cover up and affair and rationalize a divorce.

  323. Patrice wrote:

    Will also say that one can have all the information at hand, have thought through the issues top to bottom and still be completely ineffective if creative options for moving forward are not found and implemented.

    With a seemingly intractable difficulty like this, ISTM it takes the scientific researcher, the journalist, the cartoonist, the creative thinker, the socially adept, the spiritually wise, the wounded—all of us together–to make change happen.

    uhh … i.e., the Body of Christ?

    What.A.Concept.!

    Like it was planned to be this way, eh?

    And about follow-through on information, I agree. The subtitle at my blog used to be something along the lines of “Resources for when you’re tired of deconstructing and ready for reconstructing.” I’m not sure we bring closure to deconstructing until we are just worn from it not really going anywhere. Orbiting shows a lot of movement, but it’s just goin’ around in circles.

  324. @ brad/futuristguy:
    It is the people on the spectrum from borderline through narcissism to sociopathy that destroy so many communities, large and small. How can we, as communities, disarm them?

  325. @ Nancy:

    I think you might be surprised at the changes at SBTS. Not for the good, either. The somewhat recent grads from a few SBC seminaries that I know are thoroughly indoctrinated into nouthetic counseling. I don’t object at all to examining sin issues, but when *everything* must pass through that grid, it just does not work. They have a very formulaic approach, and when the formula doesn’t work, they have nothing. If you ask them to consider “what ifs” they grasp for something. It is magical thinking at its best/worst.

    Those grads don’t have the understanding of Greek that oldies did, either. Don’t even think about Hebrew. So, if they are not well-grounded in the basics of their profession, we probably shouldn’t expect them to be very good psychologists.

  326. XianJaneway wrote:

    Done. XianAttny is a friend, & typically a very reasonable, conscientious person. & I have an NPD family member, so I understand.

    I concur.

  327. klickvic wrote:

    On another, much less consequential, note: guess who took the jacket picture for Nadia’s recent book? Courtney (Perry) Jones

    You are kidding me! is there anyway you could take a picture of that and email it to me? dee@thewartburgwatch.com

    Also, you sound like a wonderful mother who dealt well with an impossible situation. I am in awe!

  328. @ Bridget:
    I have been calling it out since day 1. I contacted and it fell on eaither deaf ears or “never email me again” ears or crickets or hung up on…..The WORD was out proliferated by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones that I was “bat shit”crazy and he the suffering spouse who took up with the “spiritual wife” who he shacked up with. Isent copies of the psych eval to the Eemrgent leaders Brian McLaren and company. Called Phyllis Tickle, and Nadia Bolz-Weber (she hung up) NO ONE would hear my story. I tried posting comments on blogs….they would be deleted and the blogger threatened.

  329. http://youtu.be/oRUOljY8ppA At 5:36 you hear the mistress turned spiritual wife Courtney Perry cackle and giggle and some witty banter. This was filmed a full year and a month before we were divorced. The YouTube is date stamped. She is filming. As a side note for all of you Greek mythology buffs. I find the irony too rich that a Narcissist has an affair with a photographer who takes his head shots and films him.

  330. @ doubtful:
    Nadia Bolz-Weber is speaking in Phoenix Jan 22-24 for the big JoPa Christianty 21 conference. She defends Tony and yest has never spoken word one to me. I called after the assault….she hung up. She postures as a string feminist standing up for the abused and marginalized….not seeing it.

  331. @ brad/futuristguy:
    Also, Julie said that, even though Tony was ordered by the court to continue to pay the mortgage on their house, he didn’t obey that order and let it go into foreclosure, and Julie and the kids lost their home.

  332. Courtney Perry,- Tony Jones spiritual wife has a picture she took on Rachel Held Evans blog here

    http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/phyllis-tickle

    Here is what RHE said about Perry

    “Photo, (used with permission), by the amazingly talented Courtney Perry” Perry appears to be friendly with both Evans, Tickle and Weber. These ties run deep.

  333. numo wrote:

    @ Michaela:
    There’s no way to give someone a Psych 101 course via Twitter, unfortunately.

    Hmmm…perhaps you meant to respond to someone else? I haven’t been part of that discussion (Twitter, pscyh, etc.).

  334. Search for the pics of Nadia Bolz Weber and Phyllis Tickle switching bodies at the C21 conference. Taken by Tony’s wife. Seems like Nadia may know the Joneses better and be closer friends with them than RHE. But I wouldn’t be surprised if she vouched for them to RHE, who would probably trust Nadia’s opinion.

    Some speculation on my part there admittedly. But it does seem like Nadia and Phyllis Tickle have known them longer than RHE and they clearly seem to have taken Tony’s side.

  335. I am heading to bed. If you are a 1st time poster, your comments will go into moderation. I will approve them after obtaining my first jolt of caffeine in the AM.

  336. dee wrote:

    These ties run deep.

    The world of Christianity has become one big snake pit – virtually impossible to negotiate without getting bit.

  337. Gram3 wrote:

    @ Nancy:

    I think you might be surprised at the changes at SBTS. Not for the good, either. The somewhat recent grads from a few SBC seminaries that I know are thoroughly indoctrinated into nouthetic counseling. I don’t object at all to examining sin issues, but when *everything* must pass through that grid, it just does not work. They have a very formulaic approach, and when the formula doesn’t work, they have nothing. If you ask them to consider “what ifs” they grasp for something. It is magical thinking at its best/worst.
    …..

    @Gram3,

    The pastors/elders at my former church here in Silicon Valley told the congregation that they were available for counseling. I didn’t realize that it was this idiotic kind of counseling. In any other setting it would be called malpractice.

    They demanded that I and others (including an associate pastor’s wife) ‘get along’ with a woman who caused all kinds of problems at the church. The problem woman is an alcoholic, she needed to be in treatment for alcoholism, and the pastors/elders did her, her adult children (she was a widow so no husband in the picture), and the rest a disservice by not getting her proper help for her problem.

    Others had very serious problems that were never dealt with because this bunch has zero training.

    The road to H – * L is paved with good intentions.

  338. Julie McMahon wrote:

    Called Phyllis Tickle, and Nadia Bolz-Weber (she hung up) NO ONE would hear my story.

    dee wrote:

    “Photo, (used with permission), by the amazingly talented Courtney Perry” Perry appears to be friendly with both Evans, Tickle and Weber.

    Good Lord! It’s starting to look like everyone Julie believed to be Christian and turned to for help turned out to value their ties to the husband and/or mistress more than their ‘Christianity’. An Alfred Hitchcock version of Christianity.

  339. JeffT wrote:

    dee wrote:
    These ties run deep.
    The world of Christianity has become one big snake pit – virtually impossible to negotiate without getting bit.

    Where I disagree with you is that the problem has more to do with our large celebrity machines than Christianity being full of snakes. On a local level most pastors and churches are wonderful and caring. But in the 21st century we aren’t just influenced by our local community, but instead by what is trending.

    Even 50 years ago 995 of these people would have little effect or influence on the rest of us. They might burn a lot of bridges in their little area, but that is where it would stop. The double edged sword of the access to a broader world through things like the internet is that we are to easily influenced and “taught” by people who are far removed from our personal observations and experiences.

  340. @ Julie McMahon:

    Thanks, Julie.

    To clarify, I’m not making a judgment on when/how/why you make public statements about your situation. That is totally a private decision on your part. I hope my inquiries didn’t come across in a critical way.

    From what you have communicated here, I gather that you have been trying to get your church community to address your concerns since 2008ish. You have been shut down pretty much everywhere you tried to communicate your concerns until this past fall when you commented at David’s blog and he didn’t shut down the comments.

  341. @ JeffT:
    But we don’t know that for certain. While i believe Julie, i also think that jumping to conclusions is not wise.

  342. @ Adam Borsay:

    I would generally agree with that, but there are plenty of under-the-radar churches, mostly nondenominational, that are as vicious in their own little world.

  343. Adam Borsay wrote:

    On a local level most pastors and churches are wonderful and caring. But in the 21st century we aren’t just influenced by our local community, but instead by what is trending.

  344. @ numo:

    I agree, which is why I said “it’s starting to look like”. I don’t know where the truth lies. The only thing I know is that Julie’s voice needs to be listened to and given a fair hearing.

  345. numo wrote:

    @ Michaela:
    I did. Not sure what hsppened, but it was a glitch, not me.

    It’s happened to me too, Numo, and in triplicate! Have a nice evening.

  346. @ mirele:
    That is a very loving dad in action. It’s great to see your name in various forums, fighting any kind of spiritual abuse. Peace to you Mirele :).

  347. dee wrote:

    You are kidding me! is there anyway you could take a picture of that and email it to me?

    You can find a blog page by Courtney Perry Jones saying it’s her photo (of Nadia Bolz-Weber), with a photo she took of her photo on her blog. I didn’t mean for that to sound so meta.
    Here is the link from Perry’s photography blog to the specific page:

    Blog page title: nice promo piece
    http://coperryphoto.com/2013/09/13/nice-promo-piece/

    Text below the photo by Courtney Perry Jones of the Weber book cover that uses Perry Jones’ photography:

    I’m thrilled that a designer made my photo look good on the cover of Nadia Bolz-Weber‘s new book. I was equally pleased last night to go to a reading and find these awesome little Dropcards sitting out for the public to take. These glossy, thick plastic cards are a beautiful way to show work. The music industry has been using them for years. Nadia offered a free audio preview of her book on the Dropcards site, the code for which was on the back of the card. Great idea.

    There is also someone by the name Courtney Perry Jones on Twitter and on Pinterest (the Pinterest CPJ claims to be in Oregon).

    I’m not sure if these are all one and the same or if there is another CPJ out there.

  348. Adam Borsay wrote:

    On a local level most pastors and churches are wonderful and caring. But in the 21st century we aren’t just influenced by our local community, but instead by what is trending.

    I’ll try this again since I messed up the last try. I truly wish this were true in the conservative church. Authoritarianism, including the gender type, has taken over the conservative churches. And if it’s not authoritarianism, then it is circuschurch or feelgood church or megamaniachurch. It’s not like I haven’t been looking for a long time. Women like me who are baptistic conservatives and who believe in equality that is real do not exactly fit in most places.

    Piper and Grudem are gods, and I am an infidel. Their orthodoxy must not be questioned, and the enforcers are not just the pastors. I am not exaggerating.

  349. Someone up top said he should be called out. Take a leave a la Driscoll style. But who will hold him accountable? It’s his company? Surely HarperOne publishing isn’t going to do it. Who puts Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones in the naughty corner? No one. That’s why this has gone unchecked since 2008. Brain McLaren I thought was his boss figure. He wanted nothing to do with it. There is no recourse. The spiritual wife crap tipped straight into cult behaviors. And, again no one to report them to.

  350. JeffT wrote:

    @ Adam Borsay:

    I would generally agree with that, but there are plenty of under-the-radar churches, mostly nondenominational, that are as vicious in their own little world.

    Spot on, Jeff. I was just excommunicated and shunned from my independent Bible-believing church here in Silicon Valley (California) for opposing the pastors/elders protecting, and giving latitude and roles of respect at our church when he’s a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List. My friend of 8+ years have been ordered to shun me. My senior pastor said the sex offender was ‘coming off Megan’s List’; the California Attorney General’s Office and the Sheriff’s sex offenders’ task force (the offender’s supervising agency) called that “all lies”!

  351. If RHE won’t stand against abusers when it is inconvenient, what good is she? I’ll admit to having only read her blog a handful of times, but I thought the whole exposing abusers thing was the thesis of her positions, or if not the thesis, at least a massive aspect of her positions. She needs to do a hard about-face and distance herself completely from Tony Jones, preferably while rebuking his actions and his hilariously and transparently bad theology, but even then, can we really believe that she is sincere? She is a brand just as much as Piper, Driscoll, and all of the other names we usually see here on WW, so any action she takes could easily be seen as a disingenuous attempt to preserve herself.

    However, if she doesn’t make an abrupt turnaround, she is just a dead husk of a theologian like all of those megapastors she has criticized. Oh, she may be able to keep her little empire afloat. After all, she is more or less the face of progressive Christianity in the mainstream consciousness, but she will only do so do enacting a campaign of mass censorship and disregard for criticism. She’d essentially be a cult of personality just like many megapastors, so her status as a dynamic voice to take seriously in Christianity would disappear leaving behind a soulless zombie theologian good only for grinding out books to sell to her loyal little followers. That could lead to a colossal fracture within the progressive Christian community and probably push many away from Christianity altogether.

    I can’t say that I’m really surprised that this happening involving another Christian personality, but I am surprised that it is happening in this manner to these progressives. A huge betrayal of their own ideals just because it is somewhat inconvenient? I did not see that coming.

  352. Michaela wrote:

    JeffT wrote:

    @ Adam Borsay:

    I would generally agree with that, but there are plenty of under-the-radar churches, mostly nondenominational, that are as vicious in their own little world.

    Spot on, Jeff. I was just excommunicated and shunned from my independent Bible-believing church here in Silicon Valley (California) for opposing the pastors/elders protecting, and giving latitude and roles of respect at our church when he’s a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List. My friend of 8+ years have been ordered to shun me. My senior pastor said the sex offender was ‘coming off Megan’s List’; the California Attorney General’s Office and the Sheriff’s sex offenders’ task force (the offender’s supervising agency) called that “all lies”!

    should say “their friend” (the sex offender)

  353. @ Bridget:
    No offense whatsoever taken. I will answer any and all questions. Doug Pagitt Tony’s business partner Jo (Jones) Pa (Pagitt) Productions and JoPa Publishing Group are sponsoring the big Chritianity 21 event in Phoenix Jan 22-24. Doug was my Pastor and Solomon’s Porch. He knew and covered the affair pressuring me to be committed when they would not admit me because I was distraught over an affair but SANE he said, “I will find a hospital to admit you” Further, “the only way Tony will stay married to you is if you go to the hospital.” Later learned he has already paid a lawyer a $5000 retainer BEFORE giving that sadistically twisted ultimatum.

  354. Heading to bed to contemplate a new business venture – a dating website for all those unfortunate men trapped in a legal marriage. I wonder if the domain name “findyourspiritualwife.com” has been taken?

  355. @ Arce:

    I got lost in the acronym soup wayyyyy upthread. Still though, it’s kinda’ fun to pretend you’re an Egyptologist on a dig trying to figure out what the cartouch on a plinth means without having to excavate another 100 meter grid.

  356. dee wrote:

    Courtney Perry,- Tony Jones spiritual wife has a picture she took on Rachel Held Evans blog here

    Dee, while hunting for the link I gave you above…
    I came across other stuff.

    On Amazon, I looked over some of Nadia’s books, and RHE provided a glowing reference at the start of it (along with a few other people).

    On CPJ’s (Courtney Perry Jones) photography site (not to be confused with her blog), she has a search feature.

    When you do a search for Nadia’s name (I think I used the search term “Nadia Weber”), about ten photos of Nadia came up.

    One of the captions under one of the photos by CPJ of Nadia reads,

    “Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, leads the Bluegrass Liturgy at the Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills in North Carolina June 25, 2011. (Photo by Courtney Perry)”

    So, CPJ was taking photos of NBW in 2011. I don’t know if or where those photos were ever used.

    Also, at Apprising Ministries (Ken Silva) was this page:

    TONY JONES AND COURTNEY PERRY ET AL

    Which keeps mentioning the many shout outs CPJ gets from various emergent guys at their various emergent churchy conferences and whatever, here are some samples from that page:

    “Until then, enjoy the images of Courtney Perry…”
    “Photos courtesy of Courtney Perry”
    “…and a book with Paul’s sketches and Courtney’s photos.”
    “[from the revamped website of Tony Jones, we can take in more] “Original photography on this site by Courtney Perry,”

  357. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Arce:

    I got lost in the acronym soup wayyyyy upthread. Still though, it’s kinda’ fun to pretend you’re an Egyptologist on a dig trying to figure out what the cartouch on a plinth means without having to excavate another 100 meter grid.

    Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Arce:

    I got lost in the acronym soup wayyyyy upthread. Still though, it’s kinda’ fun to pretend you’re an Egyptologist on a dig trying to figure out what the cartouch on a plinth means without having to excavate another 100 meter grid.

    It happens to me too. Sometimes I keep a search engine open and type in, “[Acronymn] Christian means?” So far, so good.

  358. Quick refresher:

    TJ = Tony Jones
    DP = Doug Pagitt (both Emergent leaders in Minneapolis)
    RHE = Rachel Held Evans (author, blogger, speaker. Not really “Emergent” but liberal-ish Evangelical)
    NBW = Nadia Boltz-Weber (mainline/liberal-ish Lutheran Pastor. Not really “Emergent” either.)
    MPT = Matthew Paul Turner (author, blogger. Like RHE but a more caustic attitude. Said that people who were upset with RHE/NBW were “bi*ching” and “terrible”)
    SGM = Sovereign Grace Ministries. (A sort-of denomination where some nasty scandals occurred. Cover-ups and looking the other way allowed for it to continue)
    CJ = CJ Mahaney, former head of SGM. Should have known better.

  359. @ David:
    I tried making peace with this woman who sees my kids the minimum the law allowed because of his diagnosis. She will not even look at me….tells my kids, “Quick, get in the car.” Like I am diseased. It is AWFUL and most unchristian. I think one of the side atrocities is the refusal to reconcile from Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and Courtney the spiritual wife. What hypocrites! But, I get it. They have to keep up the campaign.

  360. Julie, I’ve never had my life torn apart like that before, and I won’t pretend I know how it feels. Many prayers for justice and peace. I wish I had more at the time to give.

  361. This is from Tony Jones bio for Christianity 21.

    He co-owns a social media consulting and event planning company. Tony is married, has three children, and lives in Edina, Minnesota. In his spare time, he trains his yellow lab, Albert, and takes Albert hunting for ducks, grouse, and pheasants.”

    I’m thinking the “married, has three children” leaves a bit out of the equasion.

  362. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Arce:

    I got lost in the acronym soup wayyyyy upthread.

    And I thought between Microsoft and the Federal Government, all three-letter alphabet-soup combinations were already taken.

  363. Gram3 wrote:

    Piper and Grudem are gods, and I am an infidel. Their orthodoxy must not be questioned, and the enforcers are not just the pastors. I am not exaggerating.

    “Morals are for men, not… GODS!”
    — Second Star Trek pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, 1966

  364. Bridget wrote:

    When exactly did you take this public? I know the issues began around ’08.

    Bridget, I first wrote about this five years & two weeks ago.
    http://kinnon.tv/2010/01/heres-a-thought.html

    Julie appears in the comments. I got a lot of push back at the time which continued on this post in the comments.
    http://kinnon.tv/2010/02/reviewers-reviewing-mclarens-a-new-kind-of-christianity.html

    Mod Edit: We don’t allow people commenting using “a href” links in comments.

  365. And why are people surprised that “Progressives” are acting this way? Remember the radio silence from feminists for the 8 years of President Clinton? The way accusers were called Bimbos and no one really cared?

    The myth that one political ideology is automatically better at handling abuse and has the moral high ground on the issue needs to die. You don’t get a pass on abuse because you check the right box on Election Day or nod to the right thing on Sunday morning.

  366. @ Bridget:

    Right! That “married and has three children” is leaving out some gaping holes. In the bizarre world of NPD that I have found myself in, I honestly think he thought he could switch out the female characters and hope no one noticed. Let me rewrite that, “Tony Jones lives with his mistress, turned spiritual wife 15 years his junior. His ex-wife lives across town with the three children, and she has sole physical custody because in the custody evaluation, domestic violence and mental illness were confirmed. The spiritual wife takes head shots for all of my book/speaker/blogger Christian celebrity friends. I have told everyone I was a suffering spouse, and they believe me. I also told them my ex-wife was “bat shit” crazy. I tore her shoulder once throwing her across a room. When she called 911 I told her, “They’ll never believe you. Don’t you know the “code of the blue?” In his spare time, he heads the Edina police chaplaincy program and hunts, does ride-a-longs and throws chili parties for his cop friends.”

  367. @ David:
    Thank you, Corbin. Prayers are needed as Parental Alienation Syndrome is in full swing with my oldest son. His father is wounded and shared what is happening on line with him. Awful! I have sons and this needs to be exposed so they know the whole truth. Abusing woman will not be tolerated in any form.

  368. I want to thank the Deebs for taking on Tony Jones and calling out Rachael Held Evans. Its needed, and necessary. We cannot just call out sex abuse cover up in SGM and call out Mark Dever, Al Mohler’s support for CJ Mahaney and then turn a blind eye to Rachel Held Evans. She is in the wrong, and and hasn’t learned from the SGM scandal. The other thought is this…did all Rachel care about is using the scandals of SGM to propel her blog and gain popularity. Did she use Hannah Etinger and others and capitalize on their pain for her personal gain? I’m beginning to wonder that right now.

  369. @ Julie McMahon…

    Julie can you explain Greg Boyd’s ties to Doug Pagitt and Rachel Held Evans? Does Greg Boyd have ties to Tony Jones?

  370. I think this also shows how John Piper, Mark Dever, etc… do not hold the keys to fundamentalism. Fundamentalism as I learned is a mindset. I learned the hard way that I traded the fundamentalism of John Piper for the fundamentalism of someone like Richard Dawkins.

    I would suggest that Rachel Held Evans is a fundamentalist and her behavior in this area confirms it. Fundamentalism can be found in all sectors inside and outside theology. But her behavior these past few days is more in line with Tim Challies, Mark Dever, etc… She is losing or has lost credibility in this mess. In the end is this all about money for Rachel. Is the only thing she cares about is the almighty dollar? Is that the driving factor for her and is she a slave to it thus her partnership with Tony Jones?

    Here’s some other thoughts….is Rachel Held Evans going to be like John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll and refuse to own their sin and complicity. Is she going to press on have her “precious” conference, sell her soul in the process, and then be proud and unable to own her sin. Is Rachel Held Evans going to right the wrong and contact Julie McMahon and work things out, repent and back away from Tony Jones. After all I approached 140 people all she needs to approach is one. If she continues down this path should we call her CJ Mahaney 2.0 or Tim Challies 2.0?

  371. Hugh Hollowell just contacted me with his apology…”heard, more than once, that you were “batshit crazy”, from multiple folks. Other people asked me about you, and, despite having never met you, I told them I had heard you were “batshit crazy”. Without knowing you, I dismissed you, and for that, I am sorry.

    In fact, I am just sorry. I should not have spread stories about you, I should not have passed along rumors, I should not have gossiped. I apologize to you, and regret my small part in perpetuating the “Julie is a nutjob” narrative.

    Not sure what else to say, other than I am sorry, and I wish for you and your family every good thing. If I can be of any help to you, ever, please do not hesitate to ask.”

  372. Julie McMahon I walked away from my desk at work and paced for a while. I was that upset.

    Here’s what deply troubles me about this. I predict that this is going to be more harmful than the Mars Hill abuse or SGM abuse for one reason. Driscoll, Mahaney, Piper, etc.. were always about doctrine and doctrine was their idol. I think of Gollum from Lord of the Rings and think of Piper having his ring being doctrine. BUT in some ways that is to be expected as conservatives often trample over people to uphold doctrine. People who get burned push back and some have found refuge and comfort in folks like Rachel Held Evans, Greg Boyd, etc… I’ll use myself as an example.

    In my faith crisis I stumbled across Boyd’s book, “Letters to a Skeptic” I read parts of it and consumed it I read and followed Greg Boyd’s blog “Renew” and liked what he wrote about the Problem of Evil. I enjoyed his critical critiques about John Piper and pointing out Piper’s problems with disaster theology. For this broken and crushed soul some of his stuff was refreshing and helpful. The jury is still out on open theism but hands down I thought Boyd had some of the best work on the Problem of Evil. And the Problem of Evil was what drove me for years.

    Now with Boyd’s support to Nadia and Rachel Held Evans he’s compromising himself and losing credibility. With the record clear about Julie McMahon’s abuse and Greg Boyd throwing his support to Rachel Held Evans is will anyone in a domestic abuse situation in Woodland Hills Church feel comfortable coming forward knowing their pastor embraced someone who supported an abuser and silenced the ex-wife? Good God?!?
    What the heck is Greg Boyd thinking? All he is going to do is harm himself.

    Greg Boyd needs to repent. He needs to publically own his mess, and seek forgiveness from Julie McMahon. I hope Greg Boyd doesn’t pull a John Piper/CJ Mahaney and refuse to repent.

  373. @ Eagle:

    To finish off my thought people who turned to Boyd, and Evans after being burned are more likely to be hurt. They have already been bruised and battered. I was. It took a lot of faith to turn to the church having been harmed and battered, now when it happens a second time and people are harmed I predict many will push back, walk away.

    Who wants to start a new blog called “Rachel Held Evans Survivors?”

  374. @ Julie McMahon:
    Bethel College and Bethel Seminary. All in the Twin Cities. Greg and Doug Bethel alum and Greg on staff….correct me if I am wrong. I think I got that right.

  375. dee wrote:

    Here is what RHE said about Perry

    “Photo, (used with permission), by the amazingly talented Courtney Perry” Perry appears to be friendly with both Evans, Tickle and Weber. These ties run deep.

    “One Hand Washes the Other…”

  376. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Each generation has a responsibility to ask questions like, We assume our beliefs are all biblical – i.e. that the bible agrees with all our beliefs – but are we sure? Have we checked?

    There is a wonderful old saying: “Finding a button & sewing a vest for it” that seems applicable here. Whenever anyone begins with the idea, that s/he needs to find something in the Bible,and then goes cherrypicking through Scripture, you end up with the kind of idiocy that produces notions like “spiritual wives” & ESS, etc, etc, ad nauseum.
    And people get hurt. Badly hurt.

  377. Thanks to everyone for this thoughtful discussion. One thing that should not be lost is that WX15 isn’t Tony Jones’s only endeavor. And while Nadia and Rachel’s involvement with JoPa in WX15 and their dismissive responses to this abusive situation are so wrong, Tony’s involvement in the conference seems to be limited to organizing and not speaking. (Although who would be surprised if the author of Where are the Women inserts himself into the speaker lineup?!).

    But there are institutions that are giving Tony a platform as a TEACHER of students. United Theological Seminary lists TJ as a Professor in the Practice of Theology. Fuller Seminary seems to be advertising a three-year cohort on Christian Spirituality led by Tony!

    http://fuller.edu/Academics/School-of-Theology/DMin/Christian-Spirituality-Cohort/

    Can you think of a less appropriate topic for TJ to teach right now? Maybe “Leading Healthy Families and Churches”? Notice he’s teaching with his buddies. As a graduate of FTS, I am incensed that Fuller would give TJ this platform. Not that Tony’s involvement with WX15 isn’t problematic. But at least he’s not up front teaching!

    Christian schools that hire Tony need to be held to account. Let’s not stop once Rachel and Nadia to the right thing and sever WX15 from JoPa. UTS and FTS and any school that employs Tony should also come under fire.

  378. @ Julie McMahon:

    Julie – I know what NPD is. I witnessed it at my own church. All I said was that the restraining order raised a question. I didn’t say I disbelieved you. I’m still trying to understand.

    Even though you didn’t have an attorney at the time didn’t the court hold some sort of evidentiary hearing before issuing the order against you? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  379. HUG my favorite line loosely translated, “What does God need with a Star Ship?” I have asked God the same question, what does God need with an army, government, crown, emperor, lead pastor who are above questions and other such tin idols. When one becomes their PR they have lost their way, Jesus never wanted PR, He wanted truth.

  380. Lydia wrote:

    @ Elizabeth Lee:
    I hope you are free, Elizabeth. The most healthy thing is to walk away but that is impossible with kids.

    I am free. My youngest child is 18. Four of the five children have no contact with their father.

    I have had a taste of what Julie is going through. My XH used the court system to continue the abuse for several months after the divorce was final. It was horrible.

  381. @ Eagle:
    There is no grand unified conspiracy at work. I would like to suggest refocusing… on all the people who live decent lives and are anything but celebrities. You are tearing yourself up over this, when in fact, very few people are living like this.

    My thought is that it might be good for you to step away from all of this for a while and concentrate on positive things – stuff you enjoy doing, spending time with friends, reading a good book or two – whatever will recharge your batteries and relieve the stress you’re feeling right now.

  382. dee wrote:

    @ Karl:
    I also believe in letting people know how many comments that I am deleting. Whenever we delete or do not approve a comment (except for spam) we put a note in the comment thread. I believe that this is a good policy to keep me honest with readers.

    I agree. When something is blocked/removed, it’s only fair to let readers know what happened. I appreciate that this is the way TWW works.

  383. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If this event is truly about giving a voice and support to women, even the reasonable suspicion that TJ is what it appears he is, delegitimizes the whole thing. Its like saying that we are hosting an important even about racial reconcilliation that will be co-hosted by the local Grand Dragon of the KKK. While that is a bit extreme, it illustrates the ridiculousness of this whole affair.

    Actually, that comparison makes perfect sense to me. Sometimes, we have to say things that “sound” extreme, in order to get through people’s [thick] heads how they are acting.

  384. @ Eagle:
    You haven’t read any of RHE’s comments on the Stuff Christian Culture Likes FB page, I’m guessing. It looks like the tide might be turning.

    Again, please, for your own sake, try to be focusing on what Paul talked about – things that are of good report. Going over and over the wrongs of a few is causing you to suffer unduly, and i really hate to see that happening.

  385. Gram3 wrote:

    Patrice wrote:

    I think theology is the wrong tool.

    Tools will always be merely tools. It is the indwelling of the Spirit that is sorely missing from all of these situations. Without the power of the Spirit, none of us is capable of being like Christ.

    Amen.

  386. @ Eagle:
    I have to agree with Numo. What RHE said/ is saying, is surprising and sad, no doubt. But to now compare her to the Piper ‘n Pals gang seems like overkill to me.

  387. Gram3 wrote:

    raswhiting wrote:

    My son is a prison guard and an honest and good person.

    Maybe HUG was referring to the Stanford Prison Experiment. That’s the first thing I thought of anyway. That had to do with human nature and not prison guards per se, IIRC.

    I am thankful for people like your son who work to keep the rest of us safe.

    I thought the same thing.

  388. I can’t even believe that I’m about to put myself in the position of a doubter, but…

    As someone who would literally lay down and die on the principle that whenever a woman accuses someone of abuse or rape, I should always *always* err on the side of believing her, I dove into this story believing every word Julie said and therefore automatically biased against her ex. But I have to say….the more I read, the more something just doesn’t feel right about this whole thing. It feels like there is a bigger story somewhere that isn’t being told. For instance, on the original blog thread where Julie told her story, it just seems, in reading through the comments, that there is a *lot* of collective animosity towards her ex that exists independently of their relationship with one another. Why? Is it two theologies that are at war with each other? Obviously there is history between the bloggers as well as the commenters and I can’t help but wonder how- or if- that figures into this whole thing. I absolutely 10000% realize that larger context doesn’t mean squat when someone is abusing another person, but I dunno….this whole thing just feels very contrived to me. As a curious onlooker (and as someone who is all too familiar with abuse tactics and sociopaths and NPD) just delving into the story, alarm bells are going off for reasons that I’m not quite sure I can articulate just yet.

    Although I guess I should try.

    Abusers are generally the ones who are out there making sure that *their* story is the one that gets told the loudest, in an effort to win all the sympathy and to frame the relationship and all its problems exclusively on their terms. They position themselves as the victims using the very language and posture of their *actual* victims. And because they are cold and calculating assbags who realize that one day it will come in very handy, they are usually the ones who are chomping at the bit to offer up to anyone who asks for it mountains upon mountains of “evidence” that they’ve quietly gathered over the course of the relationship. The fact that her ex said in the comments of the above-mentioned blog post that he wasn’t going to air his dirty laundry (or however he put it) just strikes me as out of character for an abusive person. The one who is the aggressor in the relationship is usually the one who is the aggressor in getting their message out to the court of public opinion. Even if he’s a cheater- most abusers/people with NPD see zero wrongdoing in their actions, which means that he should feel completely justified in his decision to cheat on his wife and therefore it would be out of character for him to keep a low profile and stay mum about the relationship just because he did wrong.

    Also, PAS (parental alienation syndrome) is the brainchild of a(n) (sexually) abusive man, and it has historically been used primarily (if not wholly) by the abusive parent in family court as a way to discredit their victims and gain custody. Typically the way it goes is that the victim tries to secure sole custody of the child(ren) in order to protect them from the abusive parent, and so the abusive parent in turn accuses the victim of lying as a way to drive a wedge between abuser and child(ren). I’m not sure if this means anything really other than the fact that it contributes to those alarm bells blaring in my head. But it feels significant enough to bring up, so.

    I’m not not not defending the ex because he is obviously a cheater and obviously he and his cohorts did some terrible, ugly things. But the abuse that I see doesn’t seem (on the surface at least) to be coming from the accused. Heck, Julie herself, along with a few others, have said a number of times that this isn’t about the marriage. Okay…so then what is it about? Is it about proving to the world that RHE, as a progressive, has just as much potential to be a complete failure in the face of an abuse scandal as her conservative counterparts? Because in a weird way, what with all the piling on of her- moreso than even the person who is being accused of abuse (!)- it kind of seems that way. And by the way, it is entirely possible that Rachel isn’t distancing herself from the accused because she does in fact have information that the rest of us aren’t privy to.

    Maybe I’m crossing the line to say all this, and if I am wrong then I am very, very sorry (HOLY CRAP AM I SORRY) to be casting doubt upon a victim. Maybe you guys (Deb and Dee) want this to be a safe space for Julie, if so I definitely understand and therefore I will understand if my comment is deleted. I can honestly say that this is the first time ever that I haven’t found a victim’s account of abuse to be wholly credible. But my gut tells me that there is a lot more to this story that we aren’t being told.

  389. Um no offense but way back when the Piper tornado took out the cross of the communion was supportive of gay marriage. Piper who seems to lean towards a YEC perception of our universe, which is self refuting because you are typing on a machine that supports an old “earth” creation view, he also denies the evidence that denies the theory of evolution. Fine but still get your kids immunized because that is evolution in action. And it works, and works well. Piper also thinks, from what I have observed, that women should stay with husbands that smack them around just a bit. Of course, that is stupid and that clown (Piper) needs to grow a pair and say that hurting a woman is always wrong and we will throw your back side out of the church if you do. AND WE WILL TURN YOUR BACK SIDE IN, RIGHT ON THE SPOT AND LET THE COPS DEAL WITH YOU.” Of course in Piper’s world that won't happen, they are to busy defending the true “Gospel”.

    I have another point the people at team pyro published much on evolution and a young earth creation standpoint, ok fine. John MacArthur on Larry King with that other nut deepak chopra, (I saw this guy when he was blabbering about some sort of nonsense I could go on, I will say this I respect him far more than MacArthur) when you are the sane one on Larry King it says alot about those that are not. MacArthur was way out of his element. This guy is far outside his element of the magic world view where God poofed this all into existence.

    I will say this – I struggle with the scientific issues because they gave us well the thing you are typing on, the fact that half your kids don't die from some horrid disease that came off an ark after a fall of some poor kid who was tempted by some created angel. Go try to validate that, personally it makes on sense, but being an adult I try to reconcile, the true believers not so much. Am I the only one that thinks this is all just plain clap trap. I just want peace with God, granted that is pathetic, even demonic, I get that but it is what it is. I will say this, from the cheap seats it is not, never has been, and never will be good news. I mean this, Kindly stop calling it that.

  390. @ brian:

    I am confused here. Was your post related to the topic at hand? I am not trying to be facetious. I truly read it through twice trying to find the relation.

    If your goal is to criticize Christian belief in general, one of the great things is that the open forum at TWW is open for all kinds of voices and questions. Whether or not I desire to engage with you, I am pretty confident your voice/criticism/questions will always be welcome at TWW.

  391. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    Always remember that a victim always asks for more than the abuser. The victim needs change, and costly change at that. To help an abuse victim usually means risk because it means standing up to a powerful individual. But contrast, abusers demand nothing. They like the status quo. They would be happy for everyone to just stop talking about it, and thus they get to look like the peaceful ones.
    Your comment reminded me of this quote from “Trauma and Recovery” by Judith Herman: “It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering. . .
    In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens.” (pp. 7-8)

    Ah, you caught me! That quote was very much in my mind as I wrote that. It’s an idea that has always impressed me about the nature of abuse and victims, and how we on the outside relate to them. It’s so easy to call for “peace” and “silence” while a victim suffers alone.

  392. numo wrote:

    @ Jeff S:
    But… check out her recent comments on the Stuff Christian Culture Likes FB page, as mentioned a bit upthread by Patrice and others. It might well be that the tide is starting to turn.
    I know it’s hard to keep up with all of this, since with social media, things can happen an a nanosecond.

    It could be- my aim was more to address why I believe it’s important to have these discussions. I am hopeful that RHE may change her tune on this and make a change.

    I will admit to being surprised that she has taken the stance that she has, because this is not an area that is foreign to her ministry. And that’s what I think is distressing a bit. I mean, with Piper you have a guy who pretty much overlooks people as long as he can get all his theological puzzle pieces to fit. For him to be clueless about the true nature of abuse is not surprising (though it’s extremely dangerous because of how popular he is). For RHE, you would think given how in tune she is with the inequalities surrounding women in the church, she would have a good idea how important it is to protect the vulnerable by preventing them from being silenced.

    But then again, back in the day when I spent a lot of time commenting on this blog, the main thrust of what I said was that it isn’t about theology, but evil people making evil choices, and those who support them, many times with the best of intentions. I still believe that, and it can happen in any camp.

  393. Jeff S wrote:

    Always remember that a victim always asks for more than the abuser. The victim needs change, and costly change at that. To help an abuse victim usually means risk because it means standing up to a powerful individual. But contrast, abusers demand nothing. They like the status quo. They would be happy for everyone to just stop talking about it, and thus they get to look like the peaceful ones.

    Wow. I had never thought of it that way. So very true. It also explains why so many folks automatically ask why they took so long to come out or act as if there is some mental statute of limitations on abuse, etc. They cannot understand the stages an abused person has to go through. Aside from the silencing from powerful people in this scenario there are also the processing stages one must go through. Most victims are stuck trying to process what happened before they can even go through the stages to get strong enough to speak out.

  394. Adam Borsay wrote:

    JeffT wrote:
    dee wrote:
    These ties run deep.
    The world of Christianity has become one big snake pit – virtually impossible to negotiate without getting bit.
    Where I disagree with you is that the problem has more to do with our large celebrity machines than Christianity being full of snakes. On a local level most pastors and churches are wonderful and caring. But in the 21st century we aren’t just influenced by our local community, but instead by what is trending.
    Even 50 years ago 995 of these people would have little effect or influence on the rest of us. They might burn a lot of bridges in their little area, but that is where it would stop. The double edged sword of the access to a broader world through things like the internet is that we are to easily influenced and “taught” by people who are far removed from our personal observations and experiences.

    Julie McMahon wrote:

    @ Bridget:
    I have been calling it out since day 1. I contacted and it fell on eaither deaf ears or “never email me again” ears or crickets or hung up on…..The WORD was out proliferated by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones that I was “bat shit”crazy and he the suffering spouse who took up with the “spiritual wife” who he shacked up with. Isent copies of the psych eval to the Eemrgent leaders Brian McLaren and company. Called Phyllis Tickle, and Nadia Bolz-Weber (she hung up) NO ONE would hear my story. I tried posting comments on blogs….they would be deleted and the blogger threatened.

    I’d think if you were a Christian, if someone really were “bat—- crazy”, people would want to try to help them out if possible, not hang up on them or marginalize them;

    I’d think if you were a Christian, people would be willing to burn any advantageous bridges they ever had built to influential people to help someone with small children who’d been left behind with multiple small children.

    I’d think if you were a Christian, you’d consider someone a self-centered, destructive fool who left their family behind, referred to their spouse as insane, and started espousing theories about their true soul mate funky photographer “spiritual wife” whom they started shaking up with.

    I’d think if you were a Christian, you might be just a bit Christ-like.

  395. @ Gram3:

    One of the things that shocked me on the nakedpastor thread were the emergent leaders commenting. They sounded exactly like the authoritarian leaders I was around. They try to couch it in “christianese” wording about how this is not healthy and how harmful it is to discuss private issues in on a blog. And they act as if we do not have the full story, yada, yada, as if there is some secret we cannot know that will change everything. They said a blog was not the right venue and so on and on. They wanted it discussed in “private” with them. Boy oh boy have I heard that one a lot. Of course they do! They control it in private.

    They were using shame to try and shut it down. It was uncanny. Same stuff I heard over and over in other Christian groups. I just was not expecting it from the Emergent types. But then, maintaining celebrity control of image is really what all this is about. Just as it is in other “Christian” movements.

  396. Miranda wrote:

    Heck, Julie herself, along with a few others, have said a number of times that this isn’t about the marriage. Okay…so then what is it about?

    Protecting evil.

  397. Eagle wrote:

    In the end is this all about money for Rachel. Is the only thing she cares about is the almighty dollar? Is that the driving factor for her and is she a slave to it thus her partnership with Tony Jones?

    I doubt this is true- the simplest answer is that she believes in the ministry potential of this conference and wasn’t even really tuned into this part of the conversation until now. And unfortunately, it is costly and takes a lot of energy to deal with victims, especially if you don’t understand the dynamics of abuse. When it’s someone you trust in the hot seat, it’s hard not to support them and view the accuser as a hindrance to your (noble) goal. This is probably RHE’s downfall just like it was with TGC and their friend CJ.

    I’m afraid many good people have been unwitting allies of abusers in the past, whether through ignorance or lack of energy/focus, because it’s easy to do. This might be played out in a very public way on this blog, but it happens over and over again in our local churches at much smaller scales (but with equally detrimental effects to the lives of victims). I’m willing to give a lot of grace in this area when there is repentance, but the most important thing first is to protect the vulnerable and give voice to the oppressed.

    As for you and your emotions, again I implore you to cry to Jesus, for his heart knows what is good an true, and in the end He is the only hope that is secure.

  398. @ Jeff S:
    That’s why I’m kind of with Eagle on this one…if RHE is who she wants us to believe she is, she should know better than Piper and Mahaney. If she needs time to craft an answer to her readers, that is understandable, but she needs to be honest about why she was willing to turn a blind eye to Tony’s spiritual marriage garbage, why she was willing to call out Mahaney and co in a public forum, but not one of her own, and why she told readers that she conducted a “diligent investigation” when she clearly did not. Readers are not looking for “clarification” or a “sorry you feel this way” kind of answer…they are looking for integrity.

  399. Sensible wrote:

    @ Jeff S:
    That’s why I’m kind of with Eagle on this one…if RHE is who she wants us to believe she is, she should know better than Piper and Mahaney. If she needs time to craft an answer to her readers, that is understandable, but she needs to be honest about why she was willing to turn a blind eye to Tony’s spiritual marriage garbage, why she was willing to call out Mahaney and co in a public forum, but not one of her own, and why she told readers that she conducted a “diligent investigation” when she clearly did not. Readers are not looking for “clarification” or a “sorry you feel this way” kind of answer…they are looking for integrity.

    I agree.

  400. @ Miranda:

    This blog exists for people to freely express their opinions on situations. I believe that you expressed your opinion in a fair and thoughtful manner.

    Abuse comes in many forms. Let me reiterate what caused me serious concern in this situation. There are some innocent parties in this difficulty- the children. I also believe that both parents love their children. There is little question that Julie has been portrayed as “batshit crazy.” Way too many people have written about being told that.

    If that is true, then Tony Jones walked out the door of his home and left his children to a “batshit crazy” woman in order to be with his paramour. (BTW-she doesn’t get a pass in this event either.) If the children are of higher priority than the honey, then Jones would stay in the situation to protect his children. In other words, he would sacrifice his life for the sake of his children’s welfare. So, if it is true that she is crazy, then Jones deserted his children for the sake of his own happiness. That reflects poorly on his character.

    However, I do believe that Jones loves his children and would never leave them in a situation that would put them in harm’s way, So, that would mean that Julie is not crazy and that the rumor was started to give Jones an excuse to be with his inamorata. That would be despicable.

    Either of those situations spell out abuse to me. Not necessarily physical abuse but emotional and spiritual abuse.

    Julie is in pain and has been for years. Can you imagine living in a world in which people are being told that you are crazy? Could she have done some inappropriate things? Of course, we all do inappropriate things at times, especially when we are dealt a bad hand.

    I have been hearing about this situation for years. Tony Jones presents himself as some sort of great thinker. His friends have gone along with this. Julie has not been heard because he has the platform. This blog gives the ones without a platform a place to tell their stories.

    When we started this blog, we had no idea that anyone would read us and we both are surprised, each and every day, that people come here. The greatest joy that we have is the ability to give our platform to our readers to tell their stories and to finally be heard.

  401. @ Sensible:
    I think one of the most difficult things to do is to apply honesty to those in your broad circle of friends, especially when one is a busy person. Rachel has to face the fact that she’s been told lies by her friends. It is not surprising that she’s knocked off-balance.

    As you say, she needs to be given time. Her response will show her strength or lack of it. And if she does come to the conclusion that her friends were being untruthful, how should she proceed? She has a great deal to work out.

  402. @ brian:
    Yep, parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is controversial even among psychologists and isn’t in their diagnostic manual.

    IMO, although the originator was sexist to assign the problem only to abusive mothers, he did see something that was there. Simply, it is when a distressed child throws his/her support behind the abusive parent, even though it is to his/her detriment.

    I saw a mild version in my daughter when going through a divorce from abusive husband, and worked my hardest to relieve the pressure on her by being open/careful to her experience of her dad. She did go away for a while but eventually came back, and now has clarity.

    At the time, my marvelous therapist said that sometimes a child shows anger towards the parent s/he trusts most, because that is the safest place to leave it while trying to survive the ongoing crises.

    It is very hard and painful!

  403. @ XianAtty:
    I did not go thinking, “I have had the first since 2008 blissful Tony-free months in my life. On average he filed a motion every 3 months since 2008. I did not go…..had no lawyer…..knew I would never ever be having any contact with him ever so no point. Big mistake. I learned now I must hire a lawyer and beat him back into the snake hole from which he emerges. Irony, “emerges.” The latest on I wish I could post here….he actually claims me for his “marital problems dues to on line harassment.” He also checked the “sexually assaulted” and “physically assaulted” boxes.” WILD outrageous perjuring lies. Then and this is most bizarre said I have been following him, photographing him and video taping him. In some delusional celebrity the paparazzi is after me distortion. In short, the dude has lost it.

  404. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Maybe I should try writing bumper sticker slogans for a living?!

    I have an idea for one…

    “I Am Looking For My Spiritual™ Wife.”

    Then, we start ESpriitualSpouse.Com Motto-“Are you legally bound to your boring spouse? You too can have a real marriage!”

  405. @ Julie McMahon:
    I want you to know that i believe you and that it has nothing to do with hard evidence and everything to do with you husband leaving your family for his paramour. Those actions speak volumes about his character.

  406. Patrice wrote:

    I think one of the most difficult things to do is to apply honesty to those in your broad circle of friends, especially when one is a busy person.

    I agree with this. A real friend is willing to tell their buddy when they have gone off the rails.Unfortunately, this is getting stickier. It appears that Courtney Perry-Jones (#2) has taken professional photos for some of this crowd so their are business entanglements.

  407. dee wrote:

    Can you imagine living in a world in which people are being told that you are crazy? Could she have done some inappropriate things? Of course, we all do inappropriate things at times, especially when we are dealt a bad hand.

    Yeah, and there’s also a push to be silent when someone has done anything wrong. In my own marriage, I made mistakes, and because I had, I felt like I didn’t have the *right* to say anything. That I had to just deal with the situation and accept my fate. If I’d been perfect, then I’d have the right to speak. It took a lot of work, especially because I don’t like to be judgmental, to be honest about her behavior and call it what it was.

    Reading so many abuse stories on ACFJ, I’ve come to see that responses to abuse can look very different. Some people get angry, some get quiet. Some hesitate to say anything, other people need justice. I haven’t read enough of Julie to know anything, but just the facts everyone agrees with (a man had an affair and divorced his wife and is still in ministry despite being unrepentant about those events) say that he is not OK. Whatever Julie’s behavior (and if she did do crazy stuff, I can understand it- I’ve been there), it doesn’t excuse the unrepentant behavior of Tony.

    The main trait of an NPD is going to be a sense of entitlement. And what says more entitlement than the idea he was somehow allowed to “marry” his “spiritual wife” while still married legally to someone else? It smells a lot like a man who feels he is entitled to a wife.

    Anyway, the point is that Julie’s motives or behavior are mostly irrelevant to me in terms of whether this man should have power and control over others. I’d be very, very wary of him.

    On the other hand, her motives aren’t irrelevant to me as a potential victim- I feel very much for her and the stories she’s recounted. It certainly sounds like other stories I’ve heard of dealing with NPDs (especially the story of Tony sweet talking the police who just decided to stay out of it). My heart is inclined to believer her and go out to her.

    On a side note regarding leaving the kids behind- personally I’d have to know more details to judge that kind of a thing. If he willingly left the kids behind, I agree. If he lost custody in court, that’s something else. Even then, it’s hard to protect your children if you yourself aren’t healthy, and it’s impossible to be healthy interacting daily with an abusive person. So I don’t see that as the nail in the coffin like you do Dee, but I think it’s certainly a smell.

  408. @ Jeff S:
    I was actually awarded sole physical and legal. Tony proposed I have sole/sole and he was down in Dallas with Courtney apparently ready to wash his hands of his family and start his “do over” life. I actually countered with “shared legal” to keep him on the hook for being a dad. Recently, he has taken up the victim role even lobbying at the senate for equal rights for dads. Hilarious! Such a PR campaign. He forfeits the minimum time he has OFTEN in exchange for his global travels. It’s truly a crock.

  409. Jeff S wrote:

    ’m afraid many good people have been unwitting allies of abusers in the past, whether through ignorance or lack of energy/focus, because it’s easy to do.

    Well said.

  410. @ Miranda:
    People like Brad, Andrew Jones, numerous others including me, have been involved with this story for more than five years. We’ve experienced the “stuff” directly and we believe Julie.

  411. Law Prof wrote:

    I’d think if you were a Christian, if someone really were “bat—- crazy”, people would want to try to help them out if possible, not hang up on them or marginalize them;

    Ditto

  412. @ numo:

    Numo could I suggest you are struggling with cognitive dissonance? Is it hard for you to accept, or see how this all ties together? Or is it hard to accept something that happens with someone you like.

    I understand the last part… I do.

    I love Greg Boyd. Used to hate him when I drank the John Piper kool-aid. But I loved his work on the Problem of Evil. I read his stuff on evil in my faith crisis, and found it helpful. Last night I was thinking maybe I’ll give Boyd a pass, give him the benefit of the doubt. But there on Twitter he’s supporting and joking about going to this conference and how thrilled he is that its in his backyard. Its like read Matt Chandler’s comments in Todd Whilhelms post a couple of days back but from a different topic.

    I can’t live with the dishonesty, no matter how much his work on the Problem of Evil helped me. If I proceed forward and read his work and ignore his support then by all means I should have ignored all the abuse cover up in Sovereign Grace and the guys rallying around Mahaney and read there stuff to. Evans is doing the EXACT same thing that Al Mohler and Mark Dever did. Now its in your thoughts to give her a pass. I’m sorry….but I can’t do that. I have to be honest to myself.

    One other thing about stepping back, here’s the problem. The internet and many of these people have invaded churches. My former church Fairfax Community Church brought in RHE to speak at a work conference they hold annually. Its hard because many of these people and their theology is affecting the local church. At Fairfax Community Church they were using Lisa Turkurst material and promoting her and I tried to have a discussion with the small groups pastor there, Andy Gingrich about Elevation Church, Stephen Furtick, and Lisa Turkurst and like that I was dismissed and they didn’t care. Can you imagine that? Everything I have learned from Mormonism, and other forms of discernment and its going to be dismissed. THAT is the problem the celebrity culture is married to the local church. And with Nadia Bolz Weber and the ELCA also hooked into this, don’t think and say that the Lutherans aren’t above the celebrity culture or crowd. I would suggest Nadia is trying to cash in on the action. So this also effects the ELCA as well.

  413. dee wrote:

    A real friend is willing to tell their buddy when they have gone off the rails.Unfortunately, this is getting stickier.

    Yeah, I was thinking last night what life must be like for Rachel right now.

    She got to know a lively group of Christians and assumed that for the most part, they’re a truthful bunch. At one point, she inquired about a situation that looked odd to her and these friends showed her docs that supposedly proved their positions. She’s busy and simply accepted it.

    At a very inopportune time (isn’t that how it often goes!), she hears that most in this group have possibly been lying to her. She instantly plunges into the first stages of grief: denial and anger. If she will be honest and thorough in her research, she will experience that next stage, depression, before coming into acceptance. And then she will need to decide what to do. The upcoming conference requires her to process this all at breakneck speed.

    I have sympathy for how rough this is for Rachel, and my support lies with Julie.

  414. @ numo:

    I had a lovely weekend in North Carolina! I am setting up a Settlers of Cataan game with some friends. There’s Bar Bingo with co-worker coming up. I have a social life that is packed! I don’t just spend all my time here. 😛

  415. Corbin wrote:

    What RHE said/ is saying, is surprising and sad, no doubt. But to now compare her to the Piper ‘n Pals gang seems like overkill to me.

    In principle, it appears to be the same thing. Until she tells us otherwise, that’s what outsiders will think. She certainly is not as far down that road as the Gospel Glitterati, but it is the same road.

    I’m encouraged that she may be re-thinking this. Maybe she can set an example. Not that they would acknowledge it, or anything.

  416. All posts are erased as of this week. Changed his blog URL. Archives cannot be seen. Too much evidence of the links in relationships and the spiritual wife crapola. So much for transparency.

    After many awesome years at Patheos — with higher blog traffic than I ever could have hoped for — I’ve decided to move my blog back to my own site. Starting on Monday, January 19. I’ll be posting there (and posting more frequently than I have in recent weeks). I love Patheos, and I am especially grateful to Deb Arca — she is an amazing human being, and just the kind of uplifting voice that I so often need in the brambles of the internet. You’ll still see me around Patheos as an occasional contributor, but my Theoblogy now resides HERE.

    All of my archives will continue to live here, but they’ve also been imported to Theoblogy. If you subscribe via RSS feed, that will not change — it will direct to the new blog tomorrow.

  417. @ dee: The Christian response to the false “bat sh*& crazy” campaign was to shun me. My own Pastor at Solomon’s Porch Doug Pagitt tried to have me committed and then stonewalled me (silent treatment). Ironically, when I learned of Tony’s diagnosis from psychiatrist number 1 in 2007, I said, “I will walk with you through this all the way.” I meant that.

  418. Julie McMahon wrote:

    Hugh Hollowell just contacted me with his apology

    I don’t know Hugh but I am very glad!

    I’ve read a few open apologies to you. It’s super-good for us because they support your story, and super-good for you because not everyone’s integrity during that time in your life was counterfeit.

    May many more appear!

  419. Patrice wrote:

    I have sympathy for how rough this is for Rachel, and my support lies with Julie.

    Here is where we will see the true character of RHE. Of course it is hard to believe bad things about your friends. I would have the same difficulty. If someone is a seeker after truth, eventually they will begin to do the right thing.

    Here is how I would have handled it.

    “This is very hard for me. Nadia, Tony, Courtney, etc have been amongst my closest friends. I am now forced to think about some issues that I thought were resolved. I have always stood with those who have been abused. I am now going to think this through and it may take me some time. Please bear with me as i face some difficult decisions.”

    That would be honest.

  420. Eagle, this is going to get a little off topic (Deebs, reign me in if I need to), but this is a struggle I’ve been through a lot of the past few years. Namely, there are pastors who have impacted my life in big ways (RC Sproul, Tim Keller) who have befriended or given passes to people I think behave in very damaging ways. I go to a church that quotes from John Piper and teaches complementarianism (even though I am now an egalitarian). This has created some dissonance for me. What does it say about the things I’ve gleaned by reading popular authors if they sanction people who I think are evil? Can I worship at my church when my pastors are influenced by people like Piper?

    Well, I actually talked to my pastors about this (we have two, full time pastors). They heard me, accepted that I don’t like Piper, and said “We are not the church of John Piper- we don’t even agree with all his theology. If we ever teach things that are unbiblical, then call us on it- we will listen”. They’ve proven true to that. While any conversations around popular pastors such as Piper proved to be dead ends, they invited dialog and have been willing to listen when it comes to specific teaching- and really that’s all that matters. I’ve even gone up to my senior pastor after a sermon and challenged him on something, and he listened and saw my point, clarified his words and regretted how he’d said something.

    And when I got re-married (last month!) I went to my complementarian pastor and told him that I did not want my wife’s obedience as part of the marriage vows. I explained that I was an egalitarian and did not share his views on gender. He told me he disagreed, but was respectful and did what we asked, and was even careful with us while planning the wedding to make sure nothing we felt uncomfortable with got in.

    The reason I say all of this is that there is a place in faith that we can disagree- where we can even differ on important theologies, and we can recognize that someone respecting John Piper is not the end of the world, even if I think his teaching is dangerous (as I wrote about on my blog- if you want to read it just click on my name).

    I’ve thought a lot about this scripture:

    “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    (Philippians 4:2-7 ESV)

    And I’ve wondered what the disagreement between these women was over. Was there a right and a wrong? How much disagreement can the body tolerate? I don’t know, but I am becoming more comfortable in separating the teaching and views of my pastors from both myself and the views of those they read and quote. My pastor is not John Piper, even if he likes the way Piper talks, and I am not my pastor, even if I like the way he serves his community.

    More and more, I’m realizing that my faith ultimately IS between me and Jesus, and a lot of this celebrity pastor stuff can just be written off from my life. It doesn’t matter too much. In fact, writing that blog about Piper was kind of a cap on years I’ve spent wrestling with the teaching of the man. Now that I’ve gotten it out of my system, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about Piper. What DOES matter is the oppressed people in our churches every day. We do need to call out systems that create these oppression, but even more we need to be available and ready to fight the oppression on the ground level when it happens within our churches (because no church is immune).

    All this to say, the point is you don’t have to live with someone else’s dishonesty, because you are not that person, even if you liked something that person said. You are a smart, empathetic individual who loves Jesus. You know what it means to be a Christ follower, and whatever these popular people say, ultimately they are just two dimensional people in your world- the real heart of this is between you and God, and that’s where your passion will find a home.

    There is no safe place in any church that will not be invaded, but the great thing is that we have a safe place in faith, and that will never be overcome.

  421. numo wrote:

    @ David:
    Are you at all familiar with Matthew Paul Turner’s blog or feature writing? He is not generally caustic.

    I am. I have books, read his blog from the old days, etc. I can stand snark and satire for the most part, what I couldn’t take any more was the sneering and attempts to paint conservative Christians all with the same brush. Compare Rachel’s response to this to his — at least Rachel didn’t resort to attempts at shouting people down.

    And,
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/09/16/adrian-peterson-and-the-false-gospel-of-spanking/

    Nonsense like this is a good example. If he was musing on his own blog, it’d be one thing. When he’s privileged enough to be writing for a major media outlet like CNN and using this logic, it’s lazy and meant to inflame.

    It’d be like comparing anyone with a hope of heaven to Kevin Malarkey and Todd Burpo. It’s meant to ridicule and shame, not inform. And that’s what he seems to enjoy doing.

  422. Julie McMahon wrote:

    I said, “I will walk with you through this all the way.” I meant that.

    I believe you. I also think the whole gang involved with this needs to apologize to you for allowing such horrible rumors about you to persist. If Tony gave darn about your children, he should have made a public announcement that his former wife was not crazy and that he would walk away from anyone who said such horrible things about the mother of his children. The fact that he did not is evidence to me that he did not do the right thing.

    Also, Courtney should be ashamed of herself. If she had truly focused on the most vulnerable in this situation, your dear children, she would not have taken up with Jones and, instead, tell him to get his house in order and do the right thing by his kids.

  423. Adam Borsay wrote:

    The double edged sword of the access to a broader world through things like the internet is that we are to easily influenced and “taught” by people who are far removed from our personal observations and experiences.

    Bingo!

  424. dee wrote:

    Here is where we will see the true character of RHE.

    I am worried. If she fails here, destruction will splay out. Julie first and many more besides.

    Even though we properly denounce the celebrity culture (idolizing humans), it is also true that we Christians are the hands of God in this world. It is most often through human relationships that we see through to God.

    I worry for those who have been already deeply hurt and are hanging on by their fingernails to the faith because of the integrity and compassion of a small bunch of online bloggers, a bunch that includes you two and Rachel.

    It is a heavy responsibility, too heavy for you all, really, but this is what happens when so many in church leadership have become arrogant and hypocritical. Ach!!!

  425. @ Jeff S:
    That is not a bad way to function. The problem I have is when people quote others who have been involved in allegedly abusive situations: Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney, etc. When we hold them up as quotable, then we tell those who listen to us that they are worth spending money on-to buy books, recordings, etc. That money then goes to an abusive individual.

    Also, why do they have to quote Piper. I doubt there is anything that Piper has said that someone else hasn’t said better or roughly the same.

    But I am in your boat. I can’t escape some of this stuff so I snort when I hear it and make some devastatingly funny retort to my husband!

    Congratulations on your marriage. I am very happy for you.

  426. Patrice wrote:

    It is a heavy responsibility, too heavy for you all, really, but this is what happens when so many in church leadership have become arrogant and hypocritical.

    That is why we keep comments open on this blog and rarely delete anything. That is why we allow people to get mad at us and tell us that we are wrong. We even let them call us names. Each day we are forced to face our critics and that keeps us humble and accountable. Its not perfect but it is the best we can do.

  427. @ dee:
    When I first began looking again at the church, roaming around online, I discovered your site and sighed with relief. Not because I agreed with everything but because you are open and generous while also being relentless against hypocrisy, arrogance and cruelty. Ever since, I’ve checked in with you regularly, even though my commenting is spotty.

    Just make sure you take good care of yourselves because your subject matter is draining. And the job is perpetual.

    Deebs rock!

  428. @ Julie McMahon:

    This is what goes beyond the divorce. Several pastors knowingly and willingly supporting one party without supporting the other. Julie was not offered compassion or understanding from her church leaders. Instead, church leaders supported their pal, justified/rationalized his “spiritual wife” affair nonsense, and actively participated in creating the perception of Julie being a BSC wife from which their pal needed to escape. These church leaders did not approach it as a divorce matter between two individuals. They approached it as a he said / she said and took sides.

    It is my feeling that pastors should be open and compassionate to all. This did not happen. Pastors instead opted to put down one while raising up the other. Because the one being raised up was of their own. We saw this over the past few days with the language NBW (a pastor) chose to use toward those raising Julie up now. And THAT makes this about way more than a divorce. That makes it about church leadership and the ability for those not in power to feel safe and heard within the church community.

    My heart goes out to you, Julie.

  429. dee wrote:

    Here is how I would have handled it.

    “This is very hard for me. Nadia, Tony, Courtney, etc have been amongst my closest friends. I am now forced to think about some issues that I thought were resolved. I have always stood with those who have been abused. I am now going to think this through and it may take me some time. Please bear with me as i face some difficult decisions.”

    That would be honest.

    Yes! This is the kind of answer that should have been given in the first place…more humility and less “I understand abuse better than you…”

  430. dee wrote:

    Also, why do they have to quote Piper. I doubt there is anything that Piper has said that someone else hasn’t said better or roughly the same.

    I agree- I’d be much happier if I never heard Piper quoted again. But I take what I can get 🙂

  431. @ dee: Not one Christian celebrity with a book/blog/conference headline has apologized to me. I have ZERO respect for Courtney Perry. She was married at the time too. In her defense, a brilliant silver tongued NPD have her the suffering spouse routine and she jumped on board. I mean this when I say it. “Courtney, when you are no longer useful as Narcissistic supply and a proxy for his campaigns and to build his platform, I will be there for you.” I feel badly for her. She is young and I’m sure may want children. He doesn’t and got his tubes tied and blogged about it. When her kool-aid wears off I think it will be a rude awakening. She is a victim too. And, ironically will not speak a word to me….I have tried many times for the sake of the kids.

  432. dee wrote:

    “This is very hard for me. Nadia, Tony, Courtney, etc have been amongst my closest friends. I am now forced to think about some issues that I thought were resolved. I have always stood with those who have been abused. I am now going to think this through and it may take me some time. Please bear with me as i face some difficult decisions.”

    That would be honest.

    Think you have a new job as a speech writer!

    Seriously, this beats the embarrassing implications that she and Nadia are victims in this. It tells people to patiently wait and some major life changes may have to occur. It implies she’s listened. It admits that none of us are perfect in our judgment of people’s character.

    And even more importantly, it’d set the standard and tone for the responses. She should listen to you.

  433. Jeff S wrote:

    I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about Piper. What DOES matter is the oppressed people in our churches every day. We do need to call out systems that create these oppression, but even more we need to be available and ready to fight the oppression on the ground level when it happens within our churches (because no church is immune).

    I appreciate both the spirit and the content of what you have written here and in this thread, and I’m happy that you came back to comment. Especially the parts about celebrity culture and how that impacts the local church. I’m going to challenge you on one aspect of this part, however, and invite you to consider another slightly different perspective which I think bears on this thread.

    Piper’s theology, along with that of the rest of the Gospel Glitterati, is toxic to women. It is great that you have become egalitarian and that your pastor will accommodate your conscience. But he is still spreading the poisonous complementarian doctrines that Piper teaches. Please think about how Piper’s theology would sound to a woman like me, an older woman who has seen a good bit of like and how ideas which sound good or at worst neutral play out practically.

    Piper is telling women that males were created to be rulers over them. He is telling men that they are entitled to the submission of their wives. This goes way beyond exhorting women to have a deferential *attitude* toward their husbands and to appreciate and honor their husbands for the things that they do. Piper is making the claim that God designed women as inferior beings to be under the authority of superior beings, just because women are female. He denies that he is saying that, but that is transparent rhetorical camouflage, just as racists used transparent rhetorical camouflage in the church like this: “Negroes are people, but we just need to take charge of them for their own good. They can’t handle things. That’s why God put whites in charge over them. Besides, remember God’s curse on Ham? We must be very careful to obey God’s wishes.”

    Piper says that the purpose for which God created women is to be assistants to their husbands in their husband’s mission for God. Please think about what that does to a woman’s soul when she thinks about that or when her husband is *not* a loving husband. It tells a woman that God does not consider her, standing alone, as a complete person like God considers a man to be, nor does God have any particular thing for *her* to do other than be an assistant. Piper denies the dignity and the gifts which God has conferred on his daughters as well as his sons. He covers it with his pretty words, but they are lying words even if he is self-deceived and does not know it.

    Piper tells women that they, as women, are born usurpers who are bent toward rebellion against authority. That is his interpretation of Genesis 3:16. What does that kind of thinking do to a woman’s soul and spirit? Under his theology, women are intimidated into believing that if they disagree with something, they must not speak up or they will be labelled rebellious. Conversely, men are taught that their opinions are the only ones that matter, and it puffs them up. It robs women of the voice God has given them, and it robs the church of their ministry.

    Piper’s theology makes women the cause of the Fall rather than the woman and the man *both* being responsible for their own sin, which is how the Bible says the Fall happened. It’s the old “women are the gateway to hell” view wrapped in new paper. That is untrue, according to the Bible, and it is unjust. All of us need to own our own sin without pointing fingers.

    Complementarianism is a lie. By their own admission, the word itself was designed to be deceptive in order to hide that they are really talking about male priority. They say that they are teaching what the Bible says. That is a lie, even if they are self-deceived, and anyone who wants to compare what they say with what the text actually says can see that lie for themselves. No one has an excuse, and I say that as a person who believed what I was told for a very long time until I actually discovered the lies. I trusted when I should have been a Berean. I accused other women when I should have listened to their Biblical points. I was wrong but very sure of myself and my righteousness.

    It separates Christ’s church and husbands and wives into interest groups rather than drawing them together in a spirit of mutual cooperation, love, respect, and honor. It divides people while Christ unites people. It denies the power of Christ’s atonement and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us as believers toward unity and one-fleshness. It is based on the idea of hierarchy within the Body which Christ explicitly speaks against.

    Piper is not someone who can be just ignored or cherry-picked. That is what this thread is about: someone is choosing to ignore toxic teaching for some reason. Piper and the others must be *actively opposed* and refuted, as the Bible teaches regarding false doctrine, before they do more damage to the flock. His entire theology is corrupted by a misconception of the nature of relationships of people who are in Christ. I don’t know that Piper is a bad person. I do know that his theology is destructive.

    As you said, we need to be ready to fight oppression at the ground level. Piper and his fellow travelers are oppressing half of the church and denying women their full inheritance in Christ while pretending otherwise. We must fight that just as prior generations began the fight against racism in the church. Even when it costs us something we value. That is what RHE is facing now.

  434. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Your comment reminded me of this quote from “Trauma and Recovery” by Judith Herman: “It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering. . .
    In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens.” (pp. 7-8)

    Wow. I have seen this play out. Some elders are great at invoking silence to the point of ending all correspondence with “do not share this with anyone, it is for your eyes only.” I stopped engaging with this person because this was such a huge red flag to me. All my inquiries as to their behavior were dismissed as me/others not being able to understand the issues. It was too big of a mess, and only God can judge. (I guess they forgot about those verses where the saints will one day judge angels.) I couldn’t fathom someone considerd an leader writing such a thing at the end of correspondence. Not to mention that there wasn’t anything in the correspondence that needed to be a secret. He never addressed my concerns. The one message that came through was *fear.*

  435. This post reminds me of a Christian ministry training conference I attended 25 years ago. I don’t remember the specific topic of this one session, but the speaker started by wanting to discuss integrity and ethical behavior. She spoke of a recent occurrence where two apparently somewhat well known Christian counselors who were not married to each other decided that they were supposed to be married to each other so they divorced their spouses so they could get married to each other. So they did.

    The speaker said, “I’d like to find those two and throw up all over their shoes.”

    Not much has changed in 25 years. People are still pulling those shenanigans (and using the high-falutin’ title “spiritual spouses”) and people like me still want to upchuck all over their shoes.

  436. dee wrote:

    Then, we start ESpriitualSpouse.Com Motto-“Are you legally bound to your boring spouse? You too can have a real marriage!”

    Don’t forget this part “. . . boring spouse who is home raising the three children while you travel all over the place meeting and dining with all kinds of interesting people at conferences.”

  437. @ Bridget:
    My life was the same after the divorce. He traveled 250 days out of the year. I single parented then and now. With my 3rd child, a 2 week old son he left the family for Princeton to get a PhD. No one in Emergent held him accountable for neglecting his family. Said, “When Princeton calls….you go.” I knew then we were not cared for in the least. He has drove a youth ministry into the ground and to save face switched lanes….you have to actually care about people to be a successful Pastor. He wanted to be a Christian celebrity.

  438. @ dee:

    I don’t think anyone disputes that Jones was having an affair on his wife, either.

    In addition, on top of that, either he and/or a friend of his justified that affair by calling the mistress a “spiritual wife.” (As though that term or concept somehow legitimizes a husband having an extra-marital affair.)

    That alone, IMO, makes him untrustworthy, lacking in credibility, and I believe the Bible says he is not therefore qualified to work in some positions (such as preacher? But then, I’m not sure what his employment consists of).

    Jones also wrote a page at his blog (on Patheos, dated Feb. 2013), arguing that Christians should “celebrate pre-marital sex.” He has some views about sex that are at odds with what the Bible has to say on the topic.

    I left links in other posts last night showing more ties between Jones’ photographer “spiritual wife” (Courtney) and her working for other people involved in this story.

  439. @ Jeff S:

    It may or may not be off-topic, Jeff, but I liked your comment!

    Observation 1 of 2

    I share your interest in Euodia and Syntyche. I find it encouraging that Paul saw no need to take sides between them, but urged them to work together and also urged everybody else to encourage both of them. He obviously didn’t think either of them had clearly wronged the other – otherwise he wouldn’t have shied away from rebuking her. But neither of them was belittled or marginalised.

    Observation 2 of 2

    Your own church situation shows that it is possible for intelligent and mature doctrinal disagreements to happen without destroying the relationships involved. And, that it is possible for grown men to read Piper and remain grown men – not besotted groupies. And, that there are honest complementarian church leaderships who have not re-written the ancient creeds to make the existence of God contingent on the subordination of women…

    Observation 3 of 2…

    Congratulations on your wedding: may your marriage, and your congregation, both prosper!

  440. @ dee:

    Something like this happened to some school friends of my teen daughter in their youth group. The “dreamy” youth pastor was quoting Piper a lot so some of the girls started watching video’s of him on line. They started buying into his teaching on females because a “trusted” and “liked” source quoted him. I cannot tell you how appalled my daughter was because she knew better about Piper. She could not believe they fell for it. But they had been encouraged as children to believe what is taught at church.

  441. Tim wrote:

    The speaker said, “I’d like to find those two and throw up all over their shoes.”

    Hmm… but I get where she’s coming from!

  442. dee wrote:

    If that is true, then Tony Jones walked out the door of his home and left his children to a “batshit crazy” woman in order to be with his paramour. (BTW-she doesn’t get a pass in this event either.) If the children are of higher priority than the honey, then Jones would stay in the situation to protect his children. In other words, he would sacrifice his life for the sake of his children’s welfare. So, if it is true that she is crazy, then Jones deserted his children for the sake of his own happiness. That reflects poorly on his character.
    However, I do believe that Jones loves his children and would never leave them in a situation that would put them in harm’s way, So, that would mean that Julie is not crazy and that the rumor was started to give Jones an excuse to be with his inamorata. That would be despicable.
    Either of those situations spell out abuse to me. Not necessarily physical abuse but emotional and spiritual abuse.

    Perhaps this is where the disconnect is. Cheating on a spouse is a horrible and terrible thing to do, and calling that spouse crazy in an attempt to justify your actions is absolutely adding insult to injury. But *abuse*? No. At least not in the way that millions of other women (myself included) have experienced it. And honestly, as one of those women, I’m a little dumbfounded at the way this is unfolding. To call this “abuse” cheapens the word and renders it almost meaningless, and that’s not cool. Abuse isn’t cheating on one’s spouse or leaving one’s spouse or being a gigantic ass during divorce. Abuse is something that happens over time and gets worse — usually MUCH worse- over time. Abusers *terrorize* their victims. In ways that I can’t even begin to express in a single blog comment.

    Going by Julie’s own words, and the words of many of her supporters, this isn’t what is happening to her. This seems to be more of a case that people are upset that he left his wife for another woman, and that people don’t like him as a blogger. And it seems awfully convenient that this case is allowing people to pile on RHE (because so many people have made this more about her than the alleged abuser) and draw what are obviously (to me) false equivalencies between her and some of the abusive leaders in the charasmatic movement.

    You ask me if I can imagine living in a world where people are being told that I am crazy. Oh yes. Yes I can. I’ve been there. I’ve had my entire family turned against me because they genuinely believed that I was the abusive one in my marriage. I know all too well what it feels like to be completely helpless in the face of false accusations because he got to people first and was so earnest in his claims that I was a terrible mother and a terrible wife. I’ve been slapped around, slammed up against walls, choked, and told that I was going to die and be buried in the backyard and never see my kids again. And I’ve faced the person who did this to me in court where he stood in front of the judge and the entire courtroom and convinced everyone that he was the victim and I was the abusive one.

    And a few days ago I would’ve never *dreamed* of not believing another woman’s account of abuse, and I certainly never would’ve called her out publicly, simply because I am so afraid of the damage that false accusations of abuse does to real victims in this country (and the perception that the percentage of false accusations is anywhere near as high as percentage of accusations that are genuine), and I don’t want to take any part in advancing the narrative that some accusations are more believable than others.

    But this…this just doesn’t sit well with me.

    And again, if I am wrong then I am genuinely sorry. I would never want to be the one to cause undue pain to a victim by not believing her. But I feel very strongly that this isn’t what it seems to be. I always thought it would be a beautiful thing to see hordes of people automatically and without question come to the defense of a woman who is accusing a man (especially one who is well known in his community) of abuse the way I’ve seen people do with Julie. It really pains me to realize that blindly throwing one’s support behind a person just because she cries “abuse” may be just as harmful as blindly coming to the defense of the abuser.

  443. @ Eagle:
    Well, I’m glad to hear it! But again, i think you might need to refocus a bit, because this isn’t about Christianity per se. It’s about people.

  444. I’m not going to get into it,but I’ve dealt with Piper and Driscoll fanboys in my expereince. Seen churches promote those clowns in so many ways. Its needless divisive. While they have prmotoed Piper they have dissed on Greg Boyd by saying, ‘He’s a heretic, he’s an open theist, ” blah,blah,blah. In short they are selective about doctrine and play it up or down depedning upon conviencance. I think it neds to be unviersally applied. I wonder if RHE fanboys or fangirls are going to be on the prowl.

  445. Bill Kinnon wrote:

    People like Brad, Andrew Jones, numerous others including me, have been involved with this story for more than five years. We’ve experienced the “stuff” directly and we believe Julie.

    That’s fair enough Bill. I don’t have the whole picture. Perhaps if I knew what you all knew, I would change my stance.

  446. @ Eagle:

    I hear you, Eagle. I have been interested in Boyd’s work on doubt and evil. I have had some reluctance toward his wild boy celebrity image that keep a bit a distance.

    What I was not prepared for was his immediate dismissive response to this situation that we don’t really know who the “real victim” is in this situation. How dismissive. How ignorant of facts like “spiritual wife” and so on.

    Included in the celebrity culture problem is the alignment with groups based upon pet doctrines. The sad but ironic fact is that EV took up “oppression” as their pet issue. Those two combined means “circle the wagons”. But that is also where the fame and money is located.

    Rachel Held Evans said something to the effect that those questioning her are trying to “silence” women who would speak at the conference which is about hearing women’s voices! You just cannot cut through irony that thick. As if Julie is not an oppressed female voice…oppressed by the church!

    You cannot make this stuff up.

  447. @ Gram3:

    I don’t disagree about Piper. I think his teaching is VERY destructive. I encourage you to read my bog post about WHY I think he’s destructive: http://lovewithoutfear.net/2014/12/30/why-i-believe-the-evangelical-church-needs-to-stop-listening-to-john-piper-and-those-like-him/

    And as I’ve said before, his teaching, more than any other, was used destructively in my life when I went through my divorce. The personal damage I’ve experienced because of Piper was great.

    When my pastor does quote Piper (which is not very often), it’s never gender stuff (he didn’t even know the term “complementarian” when I used it), but the church is still PCA which has male leadership baked into the denomination. I’ve accepted it as a compromise, as long as my wife is comfortable there (I actually care far more about this stuff than she does- she doesn’t care what our pastor thinks about male headship as long as she and I are on the same page).

    So I’ll live with it- the people are good people, and most have no idea what Piper teaches about gender and such. In fact, I know the reason my head pastor likes him is for his tone more than his theology (he’s assured me more than once he doesn’t agree with all of Piper’s theology), and I can accept that (even if I don’t like Piper’s style at all).

    Anyway, after wrestling with this topic a lot, that’s where I’ve come down on it. I feel like to escape all of these bad teachers I would have to leave the world.

    (To Dee’s point, if it were a documented abusive person like Mark Driscoll, I would be having a more serious discussion with my pastor).

  448. @ numo:

    Numo want to play bar bingo? 😛 Its pretty fun! You go in a bar and play bingo. What do you look for? The texter, the girls night out, person doing shots, guy going for the hook up, person wearing sunglasses, etc… I can give you the name and place of the bar in Arlington that I do this with my co-workers! 😛

  449. @ Corbin:
    But is it really?

    She’s appearing at a conference for and about equality or justice for women, where a man who is a known adulterer (I haven’t seen his fans and supporters disagree with that one yet) is the one putting said conference together, and he allowed his friends to dream up the ridiculous “spiritual wife” angle to rationalize the affair.

    Why would a Christian woman author (RHE) want to even share the same air space as a man who does that, and at some kind of “pro woman, girl power” type Christian conference? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

  450. @ numo:

    Victims are used to hearing that sort of response. The abuser in this case is an articulate speaker who has had years to refine his skills and has the benefit of a following who believes him off the bat. The victims are emotional, hardened, in shock, weary, etc. They often do not really know what is happening because no one tells them what is going on behind their back. They often do not present a smooth approach or response. And that goes against them. They are compared to the smooth operators who make a living communicating in the public eye.

  451. Patrice wrote:

    Yep, parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is controversial even among psychologists and isn’t in their diagnostic manual.
    IMO, although the originator was sexist to assign the problem only to abusive mothers, he did see something that was there. Simply, it is when a distressed child throws his/her support behind the abusive parent, even though it is to his/her detriment.
    I saw a mild version in my daughter when going through a divorce from abusive husband, and worked my hardest to relieve the pressure on her by being open/careful to her experience of her dad. She did go away for a while but eventually came back, and now has clarity.
    At the time, my marvelous therapist said that sometimes a child shows anger towards the parent s/he trusts most, because that is the safest place to leave it while trying to survive the ongoing crises.
    It is very hard and painful!

    Patrice, yes I totally get what you are saying. It’s sad because I definitely believe that parental alienation is a thing, but just like everything else that gets placed in the hands of abusers, it gets flipped around in a complete reversal! If anything, it’s the abusive parent who is doing the alienating! And yes, in regards to what your therapist says about children showing anger to the “safe” parent, I see that in my kids as well. They do it all the time and I totally get why. It’s a completely logical coping mechanism in the face of a crazy situation.

  452. @ Eagle:
    I would love to, but I’m pretty far away, so I’ll need to pass – albeit reluctantly. Thanks so much for asking!

  453. @ brian:

    I lean YEC myself and find it distasteful that you are conflating Piper’s YEC with his dangerous teachings about spousal abuse and other things.
    #NotAllYECers

  454. numo wrote:

    I have the same gut reaction. Not sure why,but i fo.
    Thanks so much for your forthrightness and honesty.

    Thank you numo. I’m glad that at least one other person feels that way.

  455. Lydia wrote:

    I just was not expecting it from the Emergent types.
    But then, maintaining celebrity control of image is really what all this is about. Just as it is in other “Christian” movements.

    As someone who is conservative, I’m not surprised.

    People (eg, emergents) who often talk about being very tolerant usually only mean they are only tolerant towards those in their particular group.

    If you don’t share their opinions, they will regard you as evil and treat you accordingly.

    Anyway, I’d also add that it may be about money. A lot of the people involved in this mess (on Jones’ side) are making profits off books, conferences, and speaking engagements.

    They’re all like the Perry Nobles and Mark Driscolls of the world in how they use Jesus, or their own names, to make a buck off other Christians, though their theological and/or political views may be diametrically opposite on some topics.

  456. @ Miranda:
    You’re more than welcome. I don’t know why this persists (for me), but it does. No sense in not being honest about it myself.

  457. Miranda wrote:

    Going by Julie’s own words, and the words of many of her supporters, this isn’t what is happening to her. This seems to be more of a case that people are upset that he left his wife for another woman, and that people don’t like him as a blogger. And it seems awfully convenient that this case is allowing people to pile on RHE (because so many people have made this more about her than the alleged abuser) and draw what are obviously (to me) false equivalencies between her and some of the abusive leaders in the charasmatic movement.

    I link to RHE’s blog here and have spoken well of her on a number of occasions, prompting some to criticize me. To say that is what I am doing is wrong. In fact, I know a couple of other things that I have not spoken of so as not to add fuel to the fire.

    As for leaving his wife for another women, perhaps you did not read my concern. He left his kids in the care of a woman he claims is batshit crazy and then appeared to play theological games to justify his atrocious behavior.

    Miranda wrote:

    Abuse isn’t cheating on one’s spouse or leaving one’s spouse or being a gigantic ass during divorce. Abuse is something that happens over time and gets worse — usually MUCH worse- over time. Abusers *terrorize* their victims. In ways that I can’t even begin to express in a single blog comment.

    There have been accusations of physical abuse. And I do believe that causing an entire community to question the mental capacity of the mother of one’s children is abusive. Not all abuse is physical and it does not cheapen abuse one bit to say that emotional shenanigans can be abusive. I would be happy to point you to resources that outline this.

    Finally, few people are mentioning the kids. For a father to call their mother mentally unbalanced is despicable. And if he really believes that, he left his kids with a crazy lady and took good care of himself.

  458. Jeff S wrote:

    To Dee’s point, if it were a documented abusive person like Mark Driscoll, I would be having a more serious discussion with my pastor).

    Stay tuned

  459. I am sick in bed (week four) so I have spent hours reading everything I can about this situation. Everything Julie is saying makes sense to me. Her story hangs together. Jones does indeed sound like a person with NPD. Only an NPD would even think he could spin an age old story to make himself the victim – and only an NPD could actually pull it off for five years! He falls in love with a younger woman who is also married but that is okay because his wife is mentally ill and it is this younger woman who is his real spiritual wife. Okay well then, that makes sense; time to break up two families so that Jones can be with his spiritual wife. The children can take care of their ‘mentally ill’ mother so dad can have some happiness, right? And he has followers that buy this silliness?

    His exwife and children are impoverished by his failure to pay child support and his constant court filings. Response by Jones and followers? Julie has failed to move on with her life. More NPD stuff!

    I believe Julie. What I cannot believe is that anyone wants anything to do with Jones. He makes my skin crawl.

    I believe Julie.

  460. @ Jeff S:

    Jeff, I read your link. Beautiful and so very true concerning the worth of a human being and how churches too often miss the mark.

  461. Corbin wrote:

    It’s sad. As time goes by, I’m pretty sure more and more progressives are going to declare marriage as irrelevant and outdated; the only thing that will matter is mutual consent in “partnerships” which is just glorified boyfriend/girlfriend goofiness.

    *offtopic* I’d just point out two things: (1) if marriage were going down the tubes, then why are so many gays and lesbians wanting to get married? and (2) The history of marriage, insofar as women are concerned, is not very pretty. Women were considered property until into the 20th century. It wasn’t until 1968 that a married woman in Texas could sell her separate (as in non-community) property without her husband’s permission. That took an amendment to the state constitution. Some people we discuss on this site would like to return to those days. No. Thanks. */offtopic*

  462. dee wrote:

    “I Am Looking For My Spiritual™ Wife.”

    Then, we start ESpriitualSpouse.Com Motto-“Are you legally bound to your boring spouse? You too can have a real marriage!”

    Isn’t there already a high-priced matchmaking service specializing in outside-the-marriage affairs? Don’t remember their name, but you used to hear ads about them all the time.

  463. @ Miranda:

    Miranda, you bring up some important questions about the larger picture and what is it that is really going on here. I’ve got some thoughts to share about that, however, I can’t help unpack this. [Pesky work, must pay those bills!] These all huge ideas, but I’ll do the best I can to sketch the outlines, and suggest checking out some categories on my blog to help process it. But I feel you deserve some kind of response.

    P.S. This is all off the top of my head and synthesizing on the fly without going back to any records to check, so if any readers can see factual errors in this, please let me know so it can be corrected. All the this is my own opinion, based on reflections about my own surviving of spiritual abuse plus research into organizational dynamics, social movements, and forms of dissent.

    BACKDROP — “EMERGING.” I’ve been sort of an insider/outsider to the whole emerging movement since 1996, and have written a lot about how all that has sifted itself out into six “streams” — emerging, post-Evangelical, Emergent Village, New Calvinism, Missional, and Progressive. Hard to see what’s going on with differentiation of groups within a larger movement when one’s right in the middle of the paradigm shift that’s brought such disparate groups together. Picture being at the Tower of Babel, after the confusion of languages, and running around trying to find your tribe who spoke something you understood. I’ve done a lot of documentation and essays on all this, and so that’s a backdrop to the rest of what I think is relevant to your question.

    THE SMALLER STORY. In the shake out of these streams, each had leaders/celebrities who rose to the surface. For instance, Mark Driscoll in New Calvinism. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones and Brian McLaren in Emergent. If you go back into the history of Emergent Village, you’ll find posts from the mid-2000 decade where Julie had been Tony’s #1 advocate and fended off criticism. When the Jones’ relationship changed and he filed for divorce, then eventually that flipped — and what happened in 2009-ish was you had as the focal point of an online eruption about Emergent the divorce situation of Tony and Julie Jones. And now Julie was the target instead of the advocate. While Tony tried to take any revelations off stage (as I believe a reading of the online posts shows) other Emergent followers stepped up to flame Julie, defend Tony, deflect criticism from Emergent.

    THE MEDIUM STORY. Okay, so there were maybe a dozen different blogs back in 2009-2010 that were trying to grapple with the “spiritual vs. legal marriage” theology and the shifts in Emergent (Tony had been the Executive Director from like 2006-2008, but that job was ended) and the divorce and the story behind it. [I plan to post as complete a set of those historic links as possible in the next few days so you can read for yourself and see the turmoil going on.] The dozen or so bloggers covering this were from various streams out of the “lake of emerging.” They were emerging insiders, even if not Emergent insiders. Others were more outsider critics to the whole emerging movement. Commenters on those blogs included both insiders (Emergent and non-Emergent) and outsiders,

    As part of that “cast of characters,” some of the non-Emergent bloggers had backgrounds of having been on staff in churches where they as leaders were the victims of spiritual abuse. From what I’ve observed of what happens with leaders who got taken for a spiritual abuse ride, they seem more likely to have a slightly different cluster of responses in the long run, compared with those who congregation members but not in leadership roles. (1) They eventually work through survival issues and come to a place where they start dealing with their own complicity in the abuse of others — because they were often manipulated into carrying out the pastor-dictator’s wishes. I believe this is part of what leads to (2) a deeper/more sharpened “protection and prevention” response. A lot of us who survive spiritual abuse end up committed to prevention: “I will do everything I can so that this never happens to another person!” I just get the overall sense that survivors who’ve been in leadership roles seem to have a stronger “pastoral protection” response, that when they see someone getting the life whomped out of them by someone who has no conscience and no compassion, it triggers them to act and protect. That comes from the personal side of things. From the theological side of things, (3) identifying hypocrisy seems to be a stronger trigger for action. Not saying this doesn’t happen for the typical spiritual abuse survivor, but seems to be a stronger response for those who’ve been in leadership roles, who’ve often seen huge canyons of difference behind the scenes between the ideals their employer portrays versus the toxic reality.

    So, how do post-leader-survivor bloggers respond when you have a personal/pastoral situation arise — the social media slapdown of Julie Jones and the behind-the-scenes meme being spread that she is “batshit crazy” and to stay away from her and she’s out to take down Tony — amplified by a theological/hypocrisy situation — the “spiritual versus legal marriage” bit which seems to be a brash justification for out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new? Eruption. When you read the entire set of posts for yourself, see if there isn’t an adrenalized response to protect, prevent, find justice, end hypocrisy.

    P.S. Hypocrisy (whether real or perceived) seems to be one of the core factors in why people leave the church or stay away from it in the first place. So, if we don’t care about removing hypocrisy, do we really care about people entering the Kingdom?

    THE LARGER SCALE STORIES. Okay, so maybe that helps explain some of what’s unspoken in the current eruption against Emergent of 2015. But, I believe, there is more — but it wouldn’t make sense without that larger backdrop and backstory.

    Now, get in mind what we know of typical dynamics of abuse at the level of individuals and local churches … and project that outward — blow that up onto a larger stage. We survivors eventually seem to comprehend how we got pimped to be pawns in a local church or ministry or small group. Reverse that out and imagine how things would work if the stage you were the one who was aiming for something far larger … say, an entire movement, and not just a mini-ministry. How would you go about that, if you wanted to be The Big Fish in The Big Pond?

    Along that line, I will suggest there may be at least two larger scale social movement stories that parallel the smaller scale personal abuse/divorce story.

    First, trying to promote Emergent Village as the preeminent and authoritative brand coming out of the lake of emerging. Go into the history of Emergent Village and see how hard Tony Jones worked to do that, even to the point of what looks like burnout — (and did the EV board of directors fail in their oversight in allowing him to burn out?), and how other key figures in the Emergent (and Progressive) side of things did what they could to promote Emergent.

    As you can imagine, this didn’t always sit well with people from other streams out of emerging. I remember (as a non-Emergent Missional) how much pressure there was to promote certain EV authors, have certain EV speakers to deliver The Stock Message Memes, the implication that if you weren’t EV you weren’t really that New Kind of Christian, etc. Frankly, it was aggravating. And Emergent wasn’t the only movement doing that. You could probably track celebrities (authors, speakers, mega-megas) in every stream that were jockeying for attention, and simply shift the names and nuances.

    And yes, that tends to builds up some animus, perhaps in reaction to specific people, perhaps just free-floating against a specific movement, perhaps push-back against generally perceived tactics of manipulation.

    Second, the Emergent/Progressive Industrial Complex. How do you take over a movement, or have your movement gain wider influence (and higher finances), so it becomes an institution? You connect your celebrities into partnerships with speaking events, publishers, small groups, colleges, seminaries, social media outlets, etc. etc.

    And yes, that also tends to builds up some animus, perhaps in reaction to specific people, perhaps just free-floating against Christian consumerism.

    A CONTEXT OF MULTIPLE LAYERS. So, what if you just happen to have all of those factors overlapping in what looks like just a simple, small-scale, personal story of animosity between a man and his ex-legal wife. But he just happens to be a celebrity in his own movement, which happens to be trying to spread the brand (but cannot, of course, have stains on the label, and hence he deftly bows out by not wanting to sully the reputation of the ex-spouse), and has books and teaching and blogging to do (but what happens if there are character/behavior issues that would disqualify him from serving in those capacities in at least some of those institutional partnerships?). How many key trigger issues does that hit on for different insiders and outsiders?

    Voilà! Welcome to Eruption of Emergent, autumn/winter 2009 …

    … and in the current pushback of 2015, look at where a lot of the focus has shifted: to the collaborations and partnerships and venues at the Emergent/Progressive Industrial Complex level. And who is doing the push-back? It isn’t all angry outsiders … seems there are a lot of insider Emergent-Progressives involved, and a key trigger seems to be … hypocrisy.

    And it could be that this “digital dissent” may be an indicator of a repeat of what we witnessed happening in 2014 with Mark Driscoll and the meltdown of Mars Hill Church and pusbh-back against its many New Calvinism/Resurgent Industrial Complex partners: Acts 29, ECFA, ResultSource, Tyndale House, The Gospel Coalition, etc etc etc.

    A RADICALIZED COMMUNITY? Which brings me back to my main thesis that I posted a few days ago, about what might be signs of a radicalization of survivors, their advocates, and their supporters. Institutional-level hypocrisy now seems to be a #1 trigger for setting people off into push-back and rage against the [Xn] Industrial Machine.

    Okay, way past 9 AM, and my allotted hour for blog commenting is way over. But it was sort of get-it-out-of-my-brain now, or never.

    I know this may raise more questions than it answers, and isn’t all the answer, but, it represents the best of my current understanding about the context of complex interwoven layers of this situation and why what seems on the surface to be just a “simple situation of divorce” could possible raise so much interest and ire. In my opinion, it’s all about the context … and it’s not about a pretext.

    If this sparks interest in thinking more deeply through issues, browse these categories on my blog (all in the 1. Spiritual Abuse & Toxic Ministries navigation bar):

    * Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse

    * Emergent Village

    * Deconstructing the Christian Industrial Complex

    * Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Case Study and Capstone Series [for parallels, including in the Resurgent Industrial Complex]

  464. And now for Something Completely Different:

    This thread is approaching 600 comments.

  465. Miranda wrote:

    It really pains me to realize that blindly throwing one’s support behind a person just because she cries “abuse” may be just as harmful as blindly coming to the defense of the abuser.

    This is true, but it is wrong to assume that is what is happening. I hope that I am not perceived as piling on to Rachel. I think she has made a big mistake, and I also think she has a way out that is redemptive. ISTM that is what friends should do when they think someone has made a mistake *which will ultimately hurt her cause* as well as her own reputation.

    Either she did not do due diligence on her associations, or she has no problem with the notion of a “spiritual wife.” Due diligence is very important in the real world, and there are real consequences for failure to perform. We may disagree on what constitutes abuse, but can we not agree that this is ridiculous and immoral and unworthy of a man who puts himself out as a representative of Christ? Is it unreasonable to call for Rachel to disassociate herself from this kind of thing?

    We can say all of that without even touching on the particulars of Julie and Tony’s marriage or divorce. Let’s try to keep the categories straight.

  466. @ Miranda:
    Ok, I think you may have missed many of the details of the discussion. I’m so, so sorry that you experienced such traumatic things. None of what I’m saying is meant to diminish your pain at all.

    Julie did document several instances of physical abuse. She also documented what’s commonly known as psychological abuse, parental alienation syndrome, and attempts to get her institutionalized with no documentation or supportive evidence. This is commonly known as “gaslighting,” when the crazy/abusive person creates a smear campaign, or engineers circumstances to make the *victim* and often his/her support structure, feel that the victim is crazy. It’s a constant, unrelenting stream of insanity where the victim does not know if she can trust herself, or her own perceptions. “Oh, sure he dislocated my shoulder, but maybe he only did it because I was crazy!”

    (I’m sticking with the “she” pronoun here, but no one is more aware than I am that abusers can be female. My abuser was. Victims can also be male, regardless of the abuser’s physical strength.)

    If Julie’s words are true, she was abused in the physical, psychological, and spiritual sense. The church is being exposed to the insanity of personality disorders in this situation, and it’s not a pretty sight. I’m just now recovering, over ten years after I cut contact with my primary abuser, (who has Borderline Personality Disorder) and I still have a lot of work to do.

    So, please understand that abuse from a Personality Disordered individual looks strange to most people. It’s multifaceted, complex, and doesn’t look like the stereotypical, “Guy in a wife beater shirt, drinking beer.” Intelligent, complicated people are often abusers in this situation, and make Tony Soprano’s mother look like a beginner. 🙁

  467. @ Miranda:

    I understand what you are saying, I really do. I live daily life with someone who is dealing with the effects of sexual abuse in their life that has only become known to me in the last few years. It has been a heart wrenching journey. So I do understand abuse to some extent.

    I also know there are different types of abuse in marriage, in the work place, in the Church, in life. There is physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse. I don’t want to pit one type against another. They are all potential life killing experiences. This being said, Julie has experienced extreme spiritual abuse. She has reported that she was physically harmed at one point. She has experienced emotional abuse. Her abuse may be different than yours in some ways, but it still appears to be abuse.

  468. @ Miranda:
    My sympathies! First we took abuse quietly for far too long, and had to learn to speak out and take action for the sake of the children and ourselves. Now we must trust that the least long-term damage will occur by allowing the kids to get further hurt while remaining quietly supportive. Oy!

    So difficult to keep things straight and stable. I wish you the best!

  469. Miranda wrote:

    And it seems awfully convenient that this case is allowing people to pile on RHE (because so many people have made this more about her than the alleged abuser) and draw what are obviously (to me) false equivalencies between her and some of the abusive leaders in the charasmatic movement.

    Miranda, I think you missed some of the situation concerning “abuse”. Aside from the physical abuse there is also the long time world of smoke and mirror deception from an NPD that is very abusive. Abuse is not always physical. It is often mental and emotional game playing. It is almost impossible to believe if you have not had intense experience with some NPD’s. And the fact that his “church” community (including celebrity pastors) and “police” community were on board with him, where does Julie go then? It takes a ton of money to fight this stuff.

    I think the reason it became about RHE is that she has been held up as a voice of the voiceless, specifically women and in some cases, the abused. That has been the platform she constructed and makes a living from.

    Her response was chilling and insulting to many who had invested in her. She was not prepared for the pushback, obviously. I think she forgot momentarily what her platform was and that was why. I quit with celebrity Christianity a long time ago but I do know the shock and hurt it causes to find out someone you really admired and trusted is not what you thought or would put these sort of personal appearances above their own platform. It is a game changer. To say ‘she is just human’ does not quite dismiss it because it was her platform. It defined who she was for many.

  470. Gram3 wrote:

    It [complementarianism] tells a woman that God does not consider her, standing alone, as a complete person like God considers a man to be, nor does God have any particular thing for *her* to do other than be an assistant.

    Remember too that much of complementarianism has no place for women who never marry, divorced women, or women who are widowed and/or childless.

    Complementarians seem to define “biblical womanhood” to mean only “woman who is married with children,” when the Bible does not exclude single or childless women.
    They also marginalize single and childless men, as they almost always understand or define “manhood” to be “married to a woman and a father.”

  471. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    And, that there are honest complementarian church leaderships who have not re-written the ancient creeds to make the existence of God contingent on the subordination of women

    That is true in the abstract. In the abstract, cancer is a bad thing. When cancer happens to me, it is no longer an abstract bad thing. It is something very different. So, we can make an abstract statement that is true while actually minimizing the real and personal effects that an abstraction can produce when it is applied to a person. A statement about “all women” is a statement about “Gram.” An *honest* complementarian needs to support their view from exegesis of the text before they start saying that women are created to be subordinate. And an *honest* complementarian needs to acknowledge what they are truly advocating. I have yet to meet a complementarian who is willing to do either.

  472. Miranda, are you saying that Julie hasn’t suffered enough? A dislocated shoulder from being shoved against a wall, being told that she is crazy to think her husband is having an affair when he is in fact having one, having ones own pastor try to get her into a mental hospital, being impoverished by court filings and being lied about as a stalker isn’t enough for you? When will it cross the line into abuse then?

  473. One recurring question (stated in various forms) that is part of the incredulity and cognitive dissonance for some, seems to be: “how could people in Emergent, at Fuller, etc. have continued to support Tony when he had an affair and he and Doug Pagitt told his wife that she may be his legal wife but that now he had a spiritual wife? How can they support someone who would treat his wife like that?”

    That is Julie’s account of how it went down, and I tend to believe her.

    But – isn’t part of the disconnect, part of the answer to that big ‘WHY do these people still associate with Tony’ the fact that Tony and Cortney claim that there was no affair, that they didn’t get together as a couple until the divorce? I know Julie says she has evidence otherwise and I believe her, but if Tony snowed everyone around him into believing his side of it (Julie’s crazy, we aren’t having an affair, we never did, neither Doug nor I ever said that ‘spiritual wife’ stuff to Julie etc.) then that makes the whole thing a little more believable to me. I mean – the TJ defenders shouldn’t have bought his side of it so easily and should have listened to Julie’s story. But I don’t think it’s as if Fuller Seminary, RHE, NBW etc. all believe that TJ had an affair and told Julie she was just the legal wife but he had a new spiritual wife. I think they buy TJ’s story that he never did those things, that he was only driven into Cortney’s arms so to speak by Julie. It makes me sick to type that as I don’t buy it. But it’s more plausible to me to think that RHE, NBW, Fuller, etc. buy that version, than to think they all know there was an affair and believe Tony claimed a ‘spiritual wife while still married to a different legal wife’ yet are ok with it.

    Note: I know Tony has written about there being two marriages, one sacramental and another state-recognized. I’ve seen the little pamphlet or whatever it is. That may or may not be a bunch of crap. But knowing he wrote that, in general, isn’t the same as believing that he and Doug told Julie she was just his legal wife but that he had a new spiritual wife. I believe Julie’s account. But I think a bunch of the TJ defenders aren’t convinced it went down like that.

    Or am I wrong, and do TJ and CoJo unabashedly admit that they had an affair? Not that the way things ended up wouldn’t pretty much make those claims seem implausible. But isnt’ their story and the story of their supporters that they kept everything above board and proper until Tony could divorce from his crazy wife?

  474. Jeff S wrote:

    In fact, I know the reason my head pastor likes him is for his tone more than his theology

    Candy coating on a poison pill. Satan had a great tone in the garden, and it concealed a very big lie with very big and real consequences.

    Your pastor does not get to disavow Piper’s gender theology any more than RHE gets to disavow “spiritual marriage.” That is cherry-picking, and your pastor and every pastor should focus on what the Bible says, not on what another human says. He is lending his credibility to Piper every bit as much as RHE is lending hers to Tony Jones. He needs to think about that.

    I am so sorry about your divorce and about what happened to you because of bad teaching. You are right that male pastoral office is baked into the cake of the PCA. But this whole mess of patriarchy/complementarianism was kicked off by George Knight’s effort to keep women out of church office. Whether “elder” is an office rather than a function is another discussion but still relates to notions of hierarchy in the Kingdom. I will check out your post.

  475. @ Miranda:

    Hi Miranda … you’ve raised some important issues, and I feel you deserve as best of a response as I can give, as one who was in the fray when this occurred 6 years ago.

    I’ve posted a *very* lengthy comment (still in moderation, understandably) where I try to give my perspective on things. Basically, as I see it, three or four layers of issues intersected in 2009-2010 when an earlier social media eruption occurred. The surface/presenting issues was what looks like a rancorous divorce case. But alongside that personal problem for the couple, there are also potential issues of pathology, of sick organizational systems, and of toxic institutional partnerships.

    So, some of us may have been responding to any number and combination of those multiple issues that were simultaneously represented by what, on the surface, seemed to be just the social media slapdown of Julie ex-Jones McMahon.

    Me personally? How Julie was being (mis)treated caught my attention, but so did what I was seeing as yet another instance of pressure and bullying by this particular movement to be seen as the embodiment of new orthodoxy — pressure those of us from other sides of the emerging movement had endured for nearly a decade to conform to their theology and style.

    Anyway, whether people agree or disagree, I hope my response at least makes sense, and that it respects the questions that you’ve raised.

    Now, back to that book indexing project that’s due …

    Brad

  476. @ Marsha:
    Thank you. Those three words….”I believe you.” Cathartic. You may have no idea…if you do? You get it!