The Magisterium of the United Christian Church of Dubai Have Spoken (By: Todd Wilhelm)

"Controlling pastors believe they are to be obeyed simply because of the office they hold. They conveniently use scriptures such as Hebrews 13:17, which says, "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls" (NKJV)."

Ministry Today Magazine

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=37927&picture=woman-carrying-box

Woman Carrying Box

It's been a busy time for my family over the last several weeks, and I am grateful that Dee has been doing the heavy lifting here at TWW.  Speaking of heavy lifting, I have spent most of this hot summer day helping my daughter and son-in-law move from their current apartment to a new one (both located on the third floor with no elevator!).  Eagle would be so proud of how I have been flexing my muscles.  🙂  This is a team effort with my husband, younger daughter, and friends of my older daughter and son-in-law pitching in.  We resume the move bright and early tomorrow morning and are confident we will complete the task by mid-afternoon. 

I am currently working on a post about Mark Driscoll's latest publicity ploy and will have it ready for Monday. 

Today we are featuring a post by our friend Todd Wilhelm, who was once a member of the United Christian Church of Dubai.  Todd is a voracious reader (which his former church leaders once recognized), and he recently shared his thoughts after reading Jeri Massi's eye-opening book Schizophrenic Christianity.  We have learned so much about how 9Marks churches conduct themselves from Todd Wilhelm's unfortunate experience, and we hope his dire warning will alert others about the inner-workings of churches that adhere to the 9Marks. 


The Magisterium of the United Church of Dubai Have Spoken (link)

Todd Wilhelm

“They trust that nothing holy is free, and so their lives are paid. Money slots in the altar rails make a jukebox of the world, the mind paying its gnawed coins for the safety of ignorance.”  – Wendell Berry

“Man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that great gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Grand Inquisitor

“Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” – George Orwell, 1984

“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid .” – Bertrand Russell, “Why Men Fight”

“[For people] to refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.” – John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty”

 

Below are the images of the characters in our story.  Although John Folmar and John Welkner likely wish they had the same power as the Roman Catholic clergy of the 15th century, they do the best they can in their little fiefdom known as UCCD. Any similarities in the images of the 15th century Roman Catholic clergy and their modern day UCCD counterparts is purely coincidental!

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 9.41.31 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-11 at 9.43.23 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-11 at 9.45.13 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-11 at 9.46.19 PM

The Magisterium of the United Christian Church of Dubai have been up to their old tricks! Doing what they do best – protecting the members of their church by squelching free discussion of subjects which might contravene the Papal decrees of His Holiness, John Folmar.

Those of you new to this blog will not be familiar with my story, so allow me to bring you up to speed with the condensed version of my experience at the United Christian Church of Dubai (UCCD).  If you are interested in reading about the events that led to my departure from UCCD  in more detail you can do so at the Wartburg Watch blog.

I started attending UCCD in January of 2009.  Initially I really loved the church, it was the first church I visited and I was so impressed that I did not see a need to visit any other churches.  I soon became very active in the church.  I attended the morning worship service on Friday, the monthly “First Friday” meeting on Friday night, the weekly Thursday night bible study conducted by Pastor Folmar, a weekly care group on Tuesday nights and the weekly staff book study on Monday afternoons (as my work schedule allowed.)  In September of 2009 I was asked to lead a care group, which I did up until I quit the church in March of 2013.

What led to my quitting UCCD was the sexual abuse scandal in Sovereign Grace churches and the resulting cover-up by C.J. Mahaney.  Mahaney had several books which UCCD promoted, at times from the pulpit.  Mahaney is also good friends with Mark Dever.  John Folmar was an assistant pastor at Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church prior to becoming senior pastor at UCCD.  When Mahaney fled discipline at his home church he started attending Mark Dever’s church.  I had been keeping John Folmar updated on the continuing scandal at Sovereign Grace and advised him that he may want to warn his friend Mark Dever that providing C.J. Mahaney cover at Capitol Hill Baptist Church could really backfire on him. (It did.) It appeared my sharing of information with the pastors at UCCD was basically unwanted and ignored. I had urged them to quit selling Mahaney’s books, but Folmar told me they considered Mahaney’s book on the cross centered life a “go to” book for new Christians at UCCD, so he kept giving copies away at church functions.

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 9.49.06 PM I was growing increasingly frustrated with Folmar’s obvious lack of concern for victims of sexual abuse. In spite of overwhelming documentation I provided him that C.J. Mahaney covered up sexual abuse and even blackmailed the co-founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries, Folmar chose to continue promoting and selling the books authored by C.J. Mahaney.  (This man would not even meet the qualifications necessary to be an elder at UCCD!)

In light of the continued promotion of books authored by a seriously flawed man I decided the good people who attended UCCD had a right to know about this scandal.  A friend and fellow UCCD member had started a Facebook page entitled “UCCD Friends” in 2011 or 2012.  This page had no official ties to UCCD, it was merely a private page started by an individual who attended UCCD.  Anyone who uses Facebook knows that these private pages can only be accessed with the approval of the founding individual.  The “UCCD Friends” page probably had about 100 members, none of who were UCCD pastors. People were free to post whatever they wanted.  I posted many theological pieces, but others posted requests for help, for jobs, for furniture, etc.  I started posting links to stories about the Sovereign Grace sex abuse scandal.  It should be mentioned that my friend told me he never once deleted a post.  It should also be noted that no UCCD pastor or elder ever spoke to me about my posts.  Then one day in early March of 2013 my friend sent me an SMS stating that he had been removed from being administrator of the Facebook page and John Welkner was taking over the duties.  I suspected what was about to occur.  A few hours after I received the SMS I received the following email from Welkner:

Dear Todd,

As you may have noticed, I have removed several of your past posts from our church’s Facebook page. The posts removed deal with the crisis at Sovereign Grace. I sympathize with your concern for these important issues, however, I feel that the posts deal with the issues at play in ways that are unhelpful for our congregation and the members of the Facebook group.

Thank you for your understanding, please feel free to speak with me about any concerns you have!

Your brother in Christ,

John Welkner

 

Prior to receiving this email I had already experienced several things that had me questioning whether I should remain a member of UCCD.  My wife and I had determined that we would quit being leaders of the care group at the end of the school year and basically scale back all our involvement in the church.  I had already scheduled a meeting with an assistant pastor to inform him of our decision prior to receiving the email from Welkner.  Upon reading Welkner’s email I determined it was clear we could no longer continue in a church in which leadership chose to support a celebrity preacher over the victims of sexual abuse; further, I could not in good conscience continue as a member of a church which did not allow their church members to freely discuss such issues in an independent forum.  Jeri Massi, author of “Schizophrenic Christianity: How Christian Fundamentalism Attracts and Protects Sociopaths, Abusive Pastors, and Child Molesters,” wrote:

“Christian Fundamentalism is highly authoritarian. Unquestioning obedience to a single man in charge of a single church that is not accountable to anybody is a hallmark of the Independent Fundamental Baptists.”

 While UCCD is not technically a fundamental Baptist church, it is basically a Baptist church modeled after Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Massi’s statement about fundamental Baptist churches is definitely true of UCCD.  John Folmar cannot tolerate any dissenting views and he generally assigns his lieutenant, John Welkner to squelch any opposition.  While Folmar continually states that UCCD is run by a plurality of elders, in reality it is a one man show.  The assistant pastors are beholden to Folmar in order to keep their salaried jobs and non-staff elders are carefully screened to assure they will be compliant yes-men prior to being put to a congregational “rubber-stamp” of approval vote.  (It should be noted that unlike a truly congregational church where any member can nominate someone to be voted on for the position of elder, UCCD elder candidates are selected by Folmar and then put to a vote of the congregation.) Those few men who were strong-willed, independent thinkers managing to somehow get through Folmar’s screening process were driven out of their eldership jobs within one year of taking office.

Another cogent quote from Massi:

“Not every Fundamentalist church is as outrageously corrupt as the ones I have named, but Christian Fundamentalism has failed to protect naïve, innocent, and youthful Christians from the sociopathic men who are able to rise quickly in Fundamentalism, gain power, build big churches, and start their own dynasties.”

question-authority cartoon

Fast forward two years.  I have another friend who actually quit UCCD prior to my escape. He is a kind, mature believer, 70 years of age.  He has pretty much seen it all in Christianity. Up until last week he was still an active participant on the “UCCD Friends” Facebook page.  Last week he posted a link to  Baptist pastor Wade Burleson’s blog article titled “Five Reasons to say No to a Church Covenant.”  My friend touched the third rail of UCCD.  A church covenant is one of the key components of any Mark Dever/9Marks church.  It is used to bludgeon any member whom leadership doesn’t like when they attempt to quit the church.  Trust me, I speak from experience.  My friend found his comment removed and his access to the “UCCD Friends” page revoked by John Welkner, or is that John de Torquemada?  One would think in a group of “friends” one would at least receive an explanation for their expulsion.  When it comes to UCCD you would be wrong.

And so they continue to bleed members.

“On the darker side are those congregations that are simply fiefdoms for bullies or insecure leaders that take people captive to their will by manipulating them with fear and guilt. I’ve been in the wake of such groups to help deeply scarred souls find healing. These groups often use the language of radical Christianity and attract passionate people, but that passion is soon twisted into legalism as everyone is told to follow the leader’s vision exclusively, to view other groups with disdain, and to abuse others by overtly or covertly marking and shaming people who do not conform. Sadly, some people enjoy abusive congregations, either because it makes them feel superior to “less-committed” believers or because they think their personal spiritual failures merit a weekly berating from the pulpit.”
-Wayne Jacobsen, “Finding Church: What If There Really Is Something More?

“Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don’t let our people have guns. Why should we let them have ideas?”
-Joseph Stalin

Comments

The Magisterium of the United Christian Church of Dubai Have Spoken (By: Todd Wilhelm) — 174 Comments

  1. Just before and to some extent immediately after and a little during, I was listening to a BBC discussion on the issue of term limitations in leadership in governments around the world. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, with one exception: The person who obtains such power was already corrupt! UCCD, all the 9Marks and A29 churches are led by corrupt leaders! One could say that the leaders of such churches have turned their back on Christ as they have seized power and act sinfully to retain that power and brook no dissent or variation of opinion on anything.

  2. __

    “An Heavenly Invitation?”

    hmmm…

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is this:

    God loves each soul He has created.
    Because Man’s soul was damaged by sin which caused death of the soul (separation from the Creator), God made a promised : He would bruise the head of the serpent (which caused the terrible damnage) –which is the Devil.
    Then, God, in the fullness of time, sent His Son in the likeness of Man to save Mankind from sin and death, which He did do through Christ Jesus, His Son, on a roman cross outside the gates of Jerusalem in 33 A.D.
    Jesus then rose from the dead and was seen by many. Christ sent out His remainng eleven disciples (and later Apostle Paul) to share what God His Father had done, and to extend God’s offer, God having broken down the ‘dividing wall’ (sin & death) that separated God Himself from His cretion, Man.
    And because of the removal of the barrier (by what Jesus did) , God was able to offer forgiveness of sins, and to overcome the barrier of Death by the offer of eternal life. God sent His Holy Spirit making it possable for God Himself, (by His spirit) to dwell in all those who choose to accept His passionate offer of forgiveness, and eternal life with Him by simply accepting what God Had done through His Son, Jesus!

    The good news was that God had made a way to save everyone who would believe in Christ Jesus, His Son.

    I am here today to share this good news, that God’s offer is still open to all who will to have it! Don’t worry, God is quite capable of working out the details. Is there any reason you would delay your sins being forgiven and to receive the offer of  eternal life when this life is over?

    Well, now’s your chance!

    Say yes, to God’s generous offer, You’ll be glad you did,

    (I want to personally thank you for your time!)

    May all your days be a blessing,  🙂

    ATB

    Sopy

  3. *
    *
    *
      __

    Todd,

    hey,

    hmmm…

      Having been on the receiving end of vaious 50(c)3 church abuse, it us fortunate  for many of us that we are now skilled in the use of the word of God , prayer, and a strong empathy and sympathy for the victim of spiritual abuse, or possibly the much worse stuff.

    (tears)

    Please understand that C.J. Mahaney told no one of his quiet shift to a ‘neo’ form of ‘Calvinism’, and the financial support of his new found (so called) ‘5 point Calvinist friends’ –that went with it. 

    (Note: the threat of discovery –openly identifying the sihft to neo-Calvinism by the orgniztion’s co-founder (Tomsack) poswbly spilling the beans, was the catalyst for the  blackmail incident.) For the longest time, even faithful long standing members were not even aware of the quiet ‘shift’. 

    fast forward:

    Now I am beginning to see a pattern of more and more stealth infiltration of five point neo-Calvinism into unsuspecting 501(c)3 churches, the quiet shift apparently under strong advice from other five point Calvinist.

    The neo-Calvinist con is on. 

    Beware!

    The neo-calvinist is armed with an error filled unbiblical form of the gospel (the good news) Jesus so kindly presented in the New Testament…

    (sadface)

    Seek and you shall find?

    You bet!

    [Thank you for you demonstrated love for the body of Christ!]

    ATB

    …putting on da armor of God?

    Yep.

    Gatz O’ hell?

    No sweat.

    Yeeehaaaaaaaaa!

    Sopy

  4. Of course, Heb 13:17 does not say “obey” your leaders at all, but rather that you should allow them to persuade you.

    This is no mere hair-splitting exercise, either. This single verse from Hebrews must be understood in the context of everything else the new testament says about authority, submission, leadership and the like, and especially the commands explicitly given to those in positions of responsibility. An ongoing theme in real church leadership is that leaders lead by example, not by diktat.

    So when a church CEO or other manager says, you must submit to me, the response is simple. Of course. Show us what you mean, by submitting to those who are in leadership over you, and we will be happy to be persuaded by your example.

  5. CHBC is the root of so much of this. I saw it in action during my I’ll-fated term at that church 14 years ago. All the “elders” were VERY young men, none older than their early thirties, all under the personal direction and discipleship of Dever. The style of leadership exemplified at Dubai goes right back to Capital Hill. I’m glad I got out before all this came to fruition…

  6. “I am currently working on a post about Mark Driscoll’s latest publicity ploy …”

    Todd, I don’t want to take the comment thread down another dark alley in this post, but I look forward to your upcoming piece about Driscoll.

    I’ve been following Driscoll’s unrepentant comeback. He is taking the “struck shepherd” victim approach to get back on the platform, indicating that the loss of his ministry was a strike by the enemy to silence him. Excuse me, but God is quite capable of striking unfaithful shepherds and removing candlesticks. If the YRR crowd falls for this ploy, they will enter the ranks of the most gullible people on the planet. Sorry, but the mere mention of Driscoll’s name at the beginning of this post, got my spiritual hackles up on this fine Saturday morning.

  7. Deb,

    Whoops, sorry Deb. I misread the opening paragraph. I see now that it is you, not Todd, who is preparing a post on Driscoll.

  8. Perhaps a rhetorical question here, but I wonder if the “weaker sex” are members of the UCCD private facebook page, or if it is only men who can join and participate?

  9. I love how you quote the “Papal decrees of His Holiness, John Folmar…”

    Meanwhile in a very different world, and after his recent enlightened environmental statements, the current Catholic Pope visits a notorious Bolivian prison.

    I’m a non-Catholic, but Pope Francis gets my attention. He does pretty weird stuff – radical stuff that Jesus would have done.

    “Pope Folmar” – you are soooooo still in the dark ages.

  10. “When Mahaney fled discipline at his home church he started attending Mark Dever’s church.”

    And when he continued to run into scandals at SGM, he fled to the shelter of another good buddy … Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. These New Calvinists will take care of their own no matter what; they need each other to pull off the second reformation.

    “… run by a plurality of elders, in reality it is a one man show … elders are carefully screened to assure they will be compliant yes-men …”

    No doubt about it! This is the authoritarian church governance model used at SBC reformed church plants in my area. One YRR on a stool under the spotlight at center stage, no room for anyone else.

  11. Haitch wrote:

    only men who can join and participate?

    New Calvinists preach to men … period. Women are lesser citizens of the Kingdom and cannot enter the inner circle.

  12. Enjoyed the quotes and the pics!

    Jacobsen has some good stuff to say in that book. Wish more people would follow his example in avoiding celebrity status, yet always being willing to help those who need it.

  13. I swear, the more stories I read on this blog, the more thankful I am for the church I’ve found. This neo-calvinist culture is scary stuff. I’d almost say cultic.

  14. Such excessive focus on control, and not allowing discussion, debate, etc, is a sure sign of insecurity, and not really pursing the truth. If we truely believe we are seeking the truth, the one should be able to defend the truth in open debate/discussion…. Using strong arm tactics further demonstrates insecurity, and false teaching…

  15. Max wrote:

    Haitch wrote:
    only men who can join and participate?
    New Calvinists preach to men … period. Women are lesser citizens of the Kingdom and cannot enter the inner circle.

    Indeed, which is one of the factors that led me to take a second look at scripture and embrace egalitarianism. I got sick of seeing my sisters in Christ being patted on the head and pigeonholed into only a few ministries or vocations, all “for their own good”.

  16. Wow…Todd thanks not only for the article but for mentioning Schizophrenic Christianity. I read a good bit and randomly decided to buy the Kindle version on Amazon this morning. Started reading it, and just made it to chapter 3 where Jeri mentions Ester Combs.

    My mind is a little blown at the moment as I attended church there as a child and knew Ester. I didn’t realize her story was more known, and while the whole situation still haunts me for many, many reasons; I’m grateful for others who have spoken against what was done to her.
    Many tears this morning…

  17. I just want to say that the Deebs have excellent taste in music. This is one of my favorite songs.

  18. Amanda Mercer wrote:

    My mind is a little blown at the moment as I attended church there as a child and knew Ester. I didn’t realize her story was more known, and while the whole situation still haunts me for many, many reasons; I’m grateful for others who have spoken against what was done to her.

    I am so glad that this stuck a chord with you. If you have a few minutes, could you tell us what haunts you the most?

  19. Jeff Chalmers wrote:

    Using strong arm tactics further demonstrates insecurity, and false teaching…

    Yet, Folmar and his BFFs would quote Scripture to *prove* that they are doing the Lord’s work. That is what scares me the most.

  20. Somebody get me up speed here. What’s the connection to Dubai? And how on Earth do they allow a ‘Christian’ church to set up shop there given the fact that the United Arab Emirates are Islamic and do not allow proselytizing, which is a no wiggle room requirement in Protestantism?

  21. Sean wrote:

    I got sick of seeing my sisters in Christ being patted on the head

    And there are too many sisters who are happy with the pat on their head.

  22. Sean wrote:

    I am for the church I’ve found

    If you are able to do so, would you share the denomination of the church? I am always curious about good churches that people find.

  23. @ Muff Potter:
    Dubai is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world so long as one stays behind its border. In fact, one of the UAE princes (I think) gave the land for the church. There are only a few restriction like requiring the services to be on Fridays. The UAE is pretty cosmopolitan compared to other Islamic countries. My husband and I hope to visit Todd and his family one of these years.

  24. @ Max:
    Todd nailed the supposed biblical basis for everything within the church. People can use the Bible to justify all sorts of deviations. They owe Todd an apology and I will keep reminding then of it.

  25. @ Haitch:
    That whole FB thing is an example of these guys thinking they should have control over all parts of the lives of others.

    One elder of a Calvinista church told me that I should submit my blog posts to him for approval. he goes to a Neo Calvinist church. I did not attend that church but he still thought he should control it. Needless to say, his kind offer was turned down. That takes chutzpah!

  26. Eeyore wrote:

    CHBC is the root of so much of this. I saw it in action during my I’ll-fated term at that church 14 years ago. All the “elders” were VERY young men, none older than their early thirties, all under the personal direction and discipleship of Dever. The style of leadership exemplified at Dubai goes right back to Capital Hill. I’m glad I got out before all this came to fruition…

    It continues to this day.

  27. Muff Potter wrote:

    Somebody get me up speed here. What’s the connection to Dubai? And how on Earth do they allow a ‘Christian’ church to set up shop there given the fact that the United Arab Emirates are Islamic and do not allow proselytizing, which is a no wiggle room requirement in Protestantism?

    Muff. Much of the information given to Christians is crap. Especially from the pulpits of America.

    Before Islam, most all of the Mid-East west of Persia, was Christian. Millions of Christians live in the region today. An example of Christian / Muslim interaction takes place every day in the Syrian war. Hezbollah (the Party of Allah) draws some of it’s support from Christian Lebanese and others. Another is the Syrian regime. Christian, Sunni and Alawite / Shia all make up the Regime forces and allied Militias.

    In real life people are pragmatic. In Church we are eitheral and idealistic.

  28. mirele wrote:

    I just want to say that the Deebs have excellent taste in music. This is one of my favorite songs.

    Todd gets full credit for the song. He included it in his post. I love it, too!

  29. dee wrote:

    @ Haitch:
    That whole FB thing is an example of these guys thinking they should have control over all parts of the lives of others.
    One elder of a Calvinista church told me that I should submit my blog posts to him for approval. he goes to a Neo Calvinist church. I did not attend that church but he still thought he should control it. Needless to say, his kind offer was turned down. That takes chutzpah!

    I had forgotten about that. Wonder how he’s doing?

  30. @ dee:

    Thanks dee, but I could have probably answered my own question with just a few clicks. So far as I can see, Dubai is a playground for wealthy Arabs and the noveau-Euro-riche. Wealthy Arabs to let off steam where they can’t under normal Islamic circumstances, and the noveau-Euro-riche?… well…to do what they always do for kicks.
    I’m still puzzled though about the American connection. I’m thinking it’s probably American men high up on the food chains of the shipping bizz & the oil bizz with their dependents who got stationed there.

  31. Of course they quote scripture…. That us the time honored way to justify yoyr behavior…. Really smooth leaders are quick ti shift your concern/question of their behavior to your questioning if scripture… It really is a smart mce on their part!!@ dee:

  32. dee wrote:

    One elder of a Calvinista church told me that I should submit my blog posts to him for approval. he goes to a Neo Calvinist church. I did not attend that church but he still thought he should control it.

    This floored me, the first time I read about it, and floors me afresh each time you mention it.

    I can’t imagine his mindset. Where does he get off?

    Does new calvinism appeal to mentally ill people (in this case, at the least illusions of grandeur), or does it create them?

  33. dee wrote:

    That whole FB thing is an example of these guys thinking they should have control over all parts of the lives of others.

    The absolute best thing to do is laugh at such a pompous position.

  34. dee wrote:

    One elder of a Calvinista church told me that I should submit my blog posts to him for approval.

    Pah! I’ve already approved them.

    Best regards,
    God

  35. In other news: it’s a still, balmy evening in central Scotland.

    When J.K. Rowling’s character Remus Lupin described Dementors as “the foulest creatures on earth” or similar, he obviously hadn’t come across midges.

    #pausedthegardening

  36. Sean wrote:

    I got sick of seeing my sisters in Christ being patted on the head and pigeonholed …

    Yep, that's one of the saddest characteristics of the New Calvinism movement. They take "submission" to a whole new level. If you visit YRR churches, it doesn't take long to pick up on the effects of this sorry treatment of female members – you can see it on their countenance. It's a sorry bunch of churchmen who will allow the treatment of other Christians this way, particularly their wives. Calvinists stretch the Scripture out of bounds on the role of women in the Body of Christ. This may very well prove to be the Achilles heel of New Calvinism … when the women rise up and say "Wait just a darn minute, here!" and drag their sorry men out of the mess.

  37. You know, if I were a female I'd wonder seriously if God hated me so much he would make me a second class person( female.) if so, why would I want to attend this church?

    (The SBC is there. And they wonder why people are leaving?)

  38. God wrote:

    dee wrote:
    One elder of a Calvinista church told me that I should submit my blog posts to him for approval.
    Pah! I’ve already approved them.
    Best regards,
    God

    Now that’s good stuff….

  39. Nick Bulbeck—-midges?? I would have to nominate either bedbugs, lice, or ticks for that title. Don’t ask me how I know.

  40. Dee:

    We all “knew” something was seriously wrong. I told my mom, as a 9-10 year old child that Esther needed help. I remember inquiring as to what was “wrong” with her — but was hushed. Her cuts, scars, behavior, pleas for help went ignored, completely. She always looked unwell. Was often not in attendance during services for being ’sick.’ I was allowed to play with all the other kids in the family, but they worked as a unit to keep her corralled from any outsider. We had the Combs over for dinner several times, Esther never came.

    Joe was close to my step father, Tim Hensley. I know they had ‘meetings’ alone at the church together, but no one in my family, knows what went on (we don’t discuss such things). My mother left my step father 6-7 years ago, and I have had no interactions with him in 10+ years. Tim has a long string of “friendships” with VERY questionable men who have seedy/criminal backgrounds. I can’t shake the nagging feeling Tim knew more about Esther.

    -What haunts me is not only that my family did nothing at the time, but that we left with little-to-no concern for her.

    -The church harbored a pedophile (after we left), David Bridgeman, who my parents later encouraged me to court for a time (I was 14-15). I could never bring myself to find interest in him as he was 30 years old, and gave me the heebie-jeebies. He later ended up dating, and impregnating, another Combs daughter, Cindy.

    -Most of the families there were homeschooling on the fringe (at time we attended there were only 4-5 families in attendance), with bizarre thinking about the government and extreme ‘biblical’ rules. Several home births and kids with no SSN. Medical attention not sought at times when it would have been warranted for small children.
    The church grew some after we left. We had friends still in attendance there, who lived behind the Combs in the Fellowship Hall on Stine Street, and no one, despite the obvious abuse and openly discussed suspicions ever did a thing.

    I went to school in Nashville (YWAM) 1999-2001, and was living in India during the prosecution —I missed all of it; my parents never mentioned their knowledge of the hearings. I realize now, in googling how much about her has been broadcasted. Just, today, saw the ABC news spotlight on her after digging a good bit more from reading Schizophrenic Christianity…
    Was really taken aback to read about her in that book and beyond relieved to know she has gotten a lot of help in the last 10+ years.

    Hindsight: as an adult, victim of abuse, and nurse I struggle with how much my parents and other adults in the church had to ignore and its difficult to fully wrap my mind around. I realize it is convoluted because my parents were abusive themselves, just not to that extreme, and wouldn’t care as much to have truly helped. The negligence and blind-eyes turned….it’s difficult.

    I’ve had quite a few mental blocks from childhood and so while I believe my memory is good, sometimes I’ve put up walls there to things that have previously been too much to process. Reading about her again, has rattled me a bit.

    @ dee:

  41. K.D. wrote:

    You know, if I were a female I’d wonder seriously if God hated me so much he would make me a second class person( female.) if so, why would I want to attend this church?
    ( The SBC is there. And they wonder why people are leaving?)

    When Jesus died on the cross, the veil was rent. We were given open, free access with no boundaries concerning race, gender, or our positions within the church bodies. The SBC’s BFM2000 says that we are all a priesthood of believers. But, the neo-cals, fundamentalists, and most of the SBC are quenching the spirit in a large part of the church. In some churches, the entire congregation is led by a man, and not by the spirit! In almost all churchs, women are led by the men, and not by the spirit!

    I am a member of an SBC church in southern Kentucky. My church is not quite neo-Calvin, but it leans that way. I can see the Calvinistic behaviors creeping in and growing in most of the baptist churches in this area. I’m so disgusted with the pigeon-holing, sugar coated reprimands, and head pats that I would walk out if not for my husband. I may take a walk anyway! In most cases, church is controlled by a handful of men, to serve the men. Women are spiritually bound, gagged, and limited to the chores that the men are too good to do.

    I wonder what would happen of all or most of the women in the churches just stopped attending???

  42. Is it just me or do those Pastors/Senior Pastor just not look that old? You would have all laughed at me at a wedding today, one of my team who is a Christian got married. What I hadn’t realised is that he was going to be married by his Pastor who is his age – 26, & has been a Pastor since he was 18. Almost everything about the service today -apart from the good hearts & intentions behind things, which is so important – at an evangelical church was just so cheesy & hackneyed I had an absolute nightmare dealing with it. The trite phrases, the salesmanship of the Pastor as he gave his little talk aimed squarely at the ‘nonnies’ in the crowd, the 3 verse Jesus is my girlfriend songs sung repeatedly as we were urged to let the Lord minister to us through the music,including a butchered version of ‘Be Thou My Vision’… I could barely stand it. My tolerance for Christian culture is at an all time low. I absolutely find no inspiration there. Eeeek, get me to a carpark to give soup to homeless people. I think I’d last about 5 minutes in a 9Marks church & what made me pause for thought today was that I no longer cared what ‘church people’ thought, I no longer felt I had to toe their line. Interesting stuff.

  43. Nancy2 wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    You know, if I were a female I’d wonder seriously if God hated me so much he would make me a second class person( female.) if so, why would I want to attend this church?
    ( The SBC is there. And they wonder why people are leaving?)
    When Jesus died on the cross, the veil was rent. We were given open, free access with no boundaries concerning race, gender, or our positions within the church bodies. The SBC’s BFM2000 says that we are all a priesthood of believers. But, the neo-cals, fundamentalists, and most of the SBC are quenching the spirit in a large part of the church. In some churches, the entire congregation is led by a man, and not by the spirit! In almost all churchs, women are led by the men, and not by the spirit!
    I am a member of an SBC church in southern Kentucky. My church is not quite neo-Calvin, but it leans that way. I can see the Calvinistic behaviors creeping in and growing in most of the baptist churches in this area. I’m so disgusted with the pigeon-holing, sugar coated reprimands, and head pats that I would walk out if not for my husband. I may take a walk anyway! In most cases, church is controlled by a handful of men, to serve the men. Women are spiritually bound, gagged, and limited to the chores that the men are too good to do.
    I wonder what would happen of all or most of the women in the churches just stopped attending???

    Got to ask, why do you keep going? Tradition? Habit? No other churches in your area? ( My problem, long trip to find a Methodist or Episcopal Church. I am in a rural area….or I’d convert from the SBC….I’ve already become a ” done.”)

  44. Beakerj wrote:

    Is it just me or do those Pastors/Senior Pastor just not look that old? You would have all laughed at me at a wedding today, one of my team who is a Christian got married. What I hadn’t realised is that he was going to be married by his Pastor who is his age – 26, & has been a Pastor since he was 18. Almost everything about the service today -apart from the good hearts & intentions behind things, which is so important – at an evangelical church was just so cheesy & hackneyed I had an absolute nightmare dealing with it. The trite phrases, the salesmanship of the Pastor as he gave his little talk aimed squarely at the ‘nonnies’ in the crowd, the 3 verse Jesus is my girlfriend songs sung repeatedly as we were urged to let the Lord minister to us through the music,including a butchered version of ‘Be Thou My Vision’… I could barely stand it. My tolerance for Christian culture is at an all time low. I absolutely find no inspiration there. Eeeek, get me to a carpark to give soup to homeless people. I think I’d last about 5 minutes in a 9Marks church & what made me pause for thought today was that I no longer cared what ‘church people’ thought, I no longer felt I had to toe their line. Interesting stuff.

    Christian culture is killing off today’s members. Thus the none/done growth. The pastors today think they ” know it all” and they’re not yet 30. They know nothing…

  45. Beakerj wrote:

    My tolerance for Christian culture is at an all time low. I absolutely find no inspiration there. Eeeek, get me to a carpark to give soup to homeless people. I think I’d last about 5 minutes in a 9Marks church & what made me pause for thought today was that I no longer cared what ‘church people’ thought, I no longer felt I had to toe their line. Interesting stuff.

    Trust me Beaks, you’re not alone …

  46. Amanda Mercer wrote:

    I’ve had quite a few mental blocks from childhood and so while I believe my memory is good, sometimes I’ve put up walls there to things that have previously been too much to process. Reading about her again, has rattled me a bit.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us Amanda. It sounds like you have had a tough childhood. My heart goes out to you. May the peace of Christ be with you.

  47. Beakerj wrote:

    Is it just me or do those Pastors/Senior Pastor just not look that old?

    No, it’s just not you. The American church is being taken for a ride by young reformed whippersnapper pastors in their 20s-30s with “elder” teams of the same vintage. Some foolish parent church planted them and gave them the keys to their own car, while they are still being spoon-fed. You know you are on their bus if they call themselves “lead” pastor (they love that term). If you find yourself on the bus and realize you are going the wrong way, get off at the first stop.

  48. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    Of course they quote scripture

    Like most aberrant theologies, the New Calvinists camp out in carefully selected Bible passages that can be twisted to support their presuppositions. They dearly love to debate Romans 9 with you … they all have it memorized, along with the gotcha points they learn from Piper et al.

  49. K.D. wrote:

    Got to ask, why do you keep going? Tradition? Habit? No other churches in your area? ( My problem, long trip to find a Methodist or Episcopal Church. I am in a rural area….or I’d convert from the SBC. I’ve already become a ” done.”)

    My husband is one semester away from having a degree from an SBC affilisted Bible college. That fact seriously complicates things (caused major problems in our marriage). Besides, I too live in a very rural area ….. not much to chose from as far as churches are concerned. Mentally, I’m a “done”, too. I just keep a pew seat warm. ….. I wonder how much longer I’ll do that?

  50. Nancy2 wrote:

    K.D. wrote:

    Got to ask, why do you keep going? Tradition? Habit? No other churches in your area? ( My problem, long trip to find a Methodist or Episcopal Church. I am in a rural area….or I’d convert from the SBC. I’ve already become a ” done.”)

    My husband is one semester away from having a degree from an SBC affilisted Bible college. That fact seriously complicates things (caused major problems in our marriage). Besides, I too live in a very rural area ….. not much to chose from as far as churches are concerned. Mentally, I’m a “done”, too. I just keep a pew seat warm. ….. I wonder how much longer I’ll do that?

    Is he wanting to go into the ministry? Church staff? ( I was down that road at one time, and if it isn’t any of my business, I understand.)

  51. Nancy2 wrote:

    I am a member of an SBC church in southern Kentucky. My church is not quite neo-Calvin, but it leans that way. I can see the Calvinistic behaviors creeping in and growing in most of the baptist churches in this area … In most cases, church is controlled by a handful of men, to serve the men. Women are spiritually bound, gagged, and limited to the chores that the men are too good to do

    I’ve been a non-Calvinist Southern Baptist for 60+ years; SBC’s prevailing belief and practice has not been Calvinist … but that’s changing quickly. A remnant of “Old” Calvinism dating back to the Civil War has always been hanging around in SBC life; the Founders Ministry was established to keep their memory alive. For the most part, the old guard never bothered mainline Southern Baptists too much, even though the Founders were silently and secretly plotting to take over the SBC some day (they even have a book “The Quiet Revolution” describing their journey). The old boys never scared up much of anything but a good debate ever now and then over systematic theology. The “New” Calvinism movement changed everything! While most “Old” Calvinists may be opposed to the methodology of their neo-brethren, they appear to be putting up with this new brand as long as the essential reformed message moves forward in SBC ranks and elsewhere. Influencers from the old guard (like Al Mohler) are tapping into the youth and energy of the young, restless and reformed to accomplish what they could not … Calvinization of the largest non-Calvinist denomination in America!

    Your church certainly sounds Calvinist when you say it is controlled by a handful of men, with women in bondage. I suggest that you see if you can find a “whosoever will” non-Calvinist SBC church in your area … surely, not all Kentucky churches have surrendered to this aberration, but you are in the land of Al Mohler; Louisville is the new Geneva … ground-zero for New Calvinism.

  52. Loved this article and reading your blog Todd. Everything 9Marks has taught about church discipline has been undermined by Mark Dever giving shelter to CJ Mahaney. Going forward Mark Dever, Jonathan Leeman and 9 Marks needs to be looked at through that lens. Keep up the good analysis Todd!

  53. K.D. wrote:

    Is he wanting to go into the ministry? Church staff? ( I was down that road at one time, and if it isn’t any of my business, I understand.)

    When my husband retired from the army, he decided to take classes and go into mission work — emergency stuff … recovery/rebuilding from floods, hurricanes, etc. No big deal for me …. that was better than the military. (He was Special Forces …. they are not re-stationed very often. So while he was in the army, I never had to move away from my “ancestral homeland”.)
    Then, without talking to me or even telling me, he decided to go into ministry/pastoral work. I found out that he was thinking about moving over 1,000 miles and starting a planter church when our preacher joyfully announced it to the entire church. My husband had also planned on us moving 250 miles to live near the college campus, for a year, when I overheard him tell our pastor. There were a few other things I had problems with, but the two I mentioned are the biggies. After being self-sufficient, independent, and “holding down the fort” when he was deployed so many times, I had been reduced to Mosaic law chattel. I’m a pistol packin’, tomboy of a country girl. I can only tolerate so much.

    I blew a gasket, to put it mildly. We almost divorced. We have been working on our marriage for the past 7 months, but I don’t know what his plans are for the future.

  54. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    So when a church CEO or other manager says, you must submit to me, the response is simple. Of course. Show us what you mean, by submitting to those who are in leadership over you, and we will be happy to be persuaded by your example.

    Nick:
    Your comment resonated with my wife and me. The simple truth, without any snark, stated humbly, and therefore beautifully. At least, that’s how I read it, and how I would like to say it, should it ever come to that. Thank you, brother.
    Jeff

  55. @ Todd Wilhelm:

    Thank you…

    I appreciate you sharing your perspectives as well; have some deep respect for you guys vocalizing on blogs and watch sites.

    Side note: Do you have a list of book recommendations?

  56. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    You might like this book:

    The Resignation Of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing To Be The Church’s Backbone?

    Thank you, Todd. I just read some reviews on the book, and I may just get a copy. After I read it, it will make a great centerpiece on my coffee table! ;>

  57. Todd:

    First, I love the Spanish Inquisition reference. Their chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to John Piper!

    I do have a question. Personally, I’ll worship the Moon Goddess before I go to a 9Marks affiliated church. But, you’re living as a Christian minority and in a restricted church. From what I’ve gathered, there may be one individual church for each theological bent in Dubai. If you want to go to an evangelical Protestant church in Dubai, won’t accept the 9Marks ideology, what are your options? Is UCCD the only evangelical church there is?

  58. Stan wrote:

    Personally, I’ll worship the Moon Goddess before I go to a 9Marks affiliated church.

    HAH! I believe I once quipped that I’d eat ground glass and powdered plutonium before I signed on to such an outfit (9Marks).

  59. So I am sitting here on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and I’ve marveled over the majesty that came from Abraham Lincoln. We need an emancipation proclamation against fundamentalism.

  60. Amanda Mercer wrote:

    Side note: Do you have a list of book recommendations?

    This book by Brennan Manning is one I like:

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/173526.The_Ragamuffin_Gospel

    Generally I am not a fan of daily devotional books, but I purchased this one on the recommendation of Matt Redmond and I really like it:

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18049971-the-mockingbird-devotional?ac=1

    I will add one more that you may find of interest:

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6574354-this-little-light

  61. Stan wrote:

    First, I love the Spanish Inquisition reference. Their chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to John Piper!

    Hah! I like your sense of humor Stan. But please – refer to him by his proper title – Pastor Emeritus Piper!

    https://thouarttheman.org/2014/11/10/john-piper-pastor-emeritus/

    As for the church scene in Dubai, there are a few choices, but you are quite limited. UCCD is basically a Baptist Church, there is another smaller Baptist church which I have attended a few times and walked away underwhelmed. About 3 years ago the pastor, an American, left amidst a scandal. Apparently he was skimming funds.

    There is Redeemer Church of Dubai. It is a church plant of UCCD on the other side of town and is doing quite well. I have never attended a service there. One 9Marx church in a lifetime is enough for me!

    By far the largest evangelical church in Dubai is Fellowship of the Emirates (FOE). They meet in a hotel and I think are up to 3 services now. They get the majority of disenfranchised former UCCD members. (A huge number of people.) A former chairman of the elder board of UCCD and a friend of mine plays a major role in the church. He was basically forced out of his role as an elder at UCCD because he had a mind of his own. He now makes a point of demonstrating the love of Christ to UCCD refugees. He met with me several times after I left, even though I did not attend FOE. (I did go to one service, but I didn’t care for it.) UCCD leadership have a dim view of FOE, but they “release” people from their membership rolls to go to FOE.

    Another friend of mine, and a former Care Group leader at UCCD has recently started a new church. They have been meeting in homes for quite awhile and just started meeting in a hotel. Several influential former UCCD families comprise the core group. I hope their church does well.

    There are several Charismatic churches that meet in hotels. Two of them are predominantly made up of South African expats. My daughter attended one for about a month. My wife attended one service. I abstained – again, not my style.

    Located literally right next door to UCCD is the Anglican church where we now attend. Also in the church compound (on land donated by the Sheikh) is a Roman Catholic church, a Greek Orthodox church and a Sikh temple.

    I am quite content at the Anglican church. The pastor(I believe “rector” is the term the Anglicans use, but I am slow to catch on to their terminology) is a great man, the people are friendly, and I like the order of the service. I have yet to hear a membership pitch from the pulpit. (Unlike UCCD where nearly every sermon Folmar preaches includes a short segment on the importance of joining a local church.) While I will probably never officially join another church in my life (I am already a member of The Church!) I envision myself remaining at the Anglican church until I leave Dubai.

    I hope this quick little summary helps understand what is going on in Dubai. Feel free to ask more specific questions.

  62.   __

    “Upon A Close Examination Of Five Point Calvinism?”

    hmmm…

     Few seem to make the connection that the common denominator betwethe certain 501(c)3 Christian shepherds that the TWW community discuss, and their ‘religion’, i.e. the doctrine these abusive shepherds hold in common; –in this case it is some durative of five point Calvinism, —which (upon close examinaion) is NOT the gospel that Jesus and His disciples and the apostle Paul preached in pages of the New Testament. 

    What?

    Which begs the question, for the five point Calvinist, has the “Institutes of the Christian religion” text replace the Holy Scriptures in authority? Because these two (The Scriptures and “The Institutes Of The Christian Religion”) certainly are not testifying to the same gospel.

    (sadface)

    Sopy

  63. The Bible says that elders are to be ‘above reproach’ however these leaders are ‘above accountability’- the complete opposite.

  64. refugee wrote:

    Does new calvinism appeal to mentally ill people (in this case, at the least illusions of grandeur), or does it create them?

    I really think it’s both. I honestly do think that a large percentage of committed neocalvinists are profoundly disturbed young men. Of course, when they place themselves into the hands of some of the somewhat older, rapacious wolves who often populate the leadership of neocalvinist churches, that’s such a toxic mix that they almost can’t help but become more disturbed over time. That said, I have also seen some downright vicious behavior from Arminian holiness churches, Pentecostal oneness churches, the prosperity gospel crowd and prim, proper, Vision Forum-loving home schoolers.

  65. Minor nitpick: “magisterium” is singular and abstract. People could perhaps be called “magi” but that is hardly what you were intending to convey.

    But the theology and governance of this church sounds Dubai-ous indeed.

    Todd, a friend of mine (in Saudi, not Dubai) is on the board of the Anglican diocese which includes the Middle East (about half their churches are in Cyprus), and even though I am a secular Buddhist, I feel confident in recommending them to Protestants in search of a reliably sane church. Certainly these others the blog has been mentioning sound like groups to avoid, and it is difficult for me to grasp why anyone would ever join them.

  66. Zla’od wrote:

    Todd, a friend of mine (in Saudi, not Dubai) is on the board of the Anglican diocese which includes the Middle East (about half their churches are in Cyprus), and even though I am a secular Buddhist, I feel confident in recommending them to Protestants in search of a reliably sane church

    Thanks Zla’od. BTW, what is a secular Budhist? I have met several sincere Buddhists and they are lovely people. I actually purchased two books about the religion because I am interested in learning more about it. “Buddhism: One Teacher Many Traditions” by The Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron and also “Buddhist Moral Philosophy An Introduction” by Christopher W. Gowans are the titles. Could you recommend a good book which would give me a good overview?

  67. I thought parts of this were pertinent to some of the people or situations that Deb and Dee cover:

    Psychology: The Man Who Studies Evil Everyday
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150130-the-man-who-studies-evil

    Most of the article consists of an interview with a researcher names Paulhus who talks about bad people.

    A few quotes from that page:
    —–
    “… he [Paulhus] found that some people will also readily admit to inflicting pain on others for no other reason than their own pleasure.

    “More immediately, his discoveries have attracted the attention of police and military agencies, who want to collaborate with Paulhus to see if his insights might explain why some people abuse their positions.
    “The concern is that these people might deliberately select jobs where you are given the mandate to hurt individuals,” he says. If so, further work might suggest ways to screen out the dark personalities at recruitment.

    “In some situations, ruthlessness may be necessary. …you need to cut corners and hurt people, and even be nasty to achieve your moral causes,” he says.
    “… “You’re not going to help society by sitting at home being nice.”

  68. Max wrote:

    The American church is being taken for a ride by young reformed whippersnapper pastors in their 20s-30s with “elder” teams of the same vintage.

    First person I thought of when I read your comment was Mark Driscoll. Tragically, he cloned himself before he stepped down from Mars Hill. There are countless young Christian leaders out there who have been made in Mark Driscoll's image. (Getting ready for tomorrow's post).

  69. @ Todd Wilhelm:
    “BTW, what is a secular Buddhist?”
    I just mean that I am not especially religious, and that my general worldview owes more to science and secular scholarship than to theology. But I bow to the enlightened beings of all religions!

  70. On book recommendations, there are many fine introductions to Buddhism in English. and it’s hard to know what will appeal or be useful. Keep in mind that there are many different traditions of Buddhism, and even within the same tradition, not everyone agrees! We can approach the religion from the perspective of history, anthropology, theology, etc., and also we should distinguish between academic and popular presentations. As with other religions, “Buddhism” subsumes a vast range of human thought and behavior, not all of it necessarily elevating!

  71. @ Zla’od,

    We’re quite the eclectic bunch here at TWW. We have all kinds here, people of faith, people of no faith, and even uncorrelated rogue anomalies like Muff Potter. The main thing though is that it’s a safe place for all. Think of it as a kind of Al Andalus in olden times before the Inquisition took over.

  72. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Zla’od,

    We’re quite the eclectic bunch here at TWW. We have all kinds here, people of faith, people of no faith, and even uncorrelated rogue anomalies like Muff Potter. The main thing though is that it’s a safe place for all. Think of it as a kind of Al Andalus in olden times before the Inquisition took over.

    Exactly…..and I am sort of proud when I say this, there are some of us here who are misfits, and proud to say it. 🙂

  73. Law Prof wrote:

    That said, I have also seen some downright vicious behavior from Arminian holiness churches, …

    I was just about was about to quibble that it isn’t limited to calvinists when you added this and I can personally attest to Armenian holiness part.

    On a similar note, it was six months ago that I first came across discussion of narcissistic pastors, it explained the lack of compassion I saw in a former church pastor. I was talking about it then with a young 30ish fellow who I was working with. After my describing the pastorate attracting the worst elements and narcissists in particular, he mentioned his seminary background and then his response was “OH YEAH”, emphasizing strong agreement.

    His personal experience in seminary was there were lots of young men with big heads, it was going to be all about them.

    Good police departments screen applicants to weed out those likely to abuse authority, seminaries and denominations should do the same. I wonder if this won’t happen because many of those in control may need weeding themselves.

  74. It’s kind of sad that one kind of nondescript church in D.C. can have so much influence around the world.

    On a more personal front, for a few months since my last supervisor resigned, I am reporting to a director who attends CHBC. I have been having issues with his leadership style, although it may well be that it’s just his personality and not anything to do with the influence of the church.I generally work out of the office, so we haven’t gotten into too many theological discussions, although one of our discussions didn’t go too badly.

  75. @ Law Prof:

    There was a story in my stomping grounds about a 19 year old who posted on Facebook about shooting up his Oneness church: http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/crime/2015/07/05/teen-threatens-fw-church-promised-columbine-type-attack/29742185/

    @ Todd Wilhelm:

    I actually thought it was the oh-so-familial Pastor John.

    But seriously, thanks for the response! I’m very glad you had some options and were able to find another church community. That’s what boggles my mind about your story – these ministers to far-flung strangers in a strange land should be as open and moderate and welcoming as possible, and instead they do a 9Marx witch hunt for fake Christians. The word “United” in their name – I don’t think it means what they think it means.

  76. Bill M wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    That said, I have also seen some downright vicious behavior from Arminian holiness churches, …
    I was just about was about to quibble that it isn’t limited to calvinists when you added this and I can personally attest to Armenian holiness part.
    On a similar note, it was six months ago that I first came across discussion of narcissistic pastors, it explained the lack of compassion I saw in a former church pastor. I was talking about it then with a young 30ish fellow who I was working with. After my describing the pastorate attracting the worst elements and narcissists in particular, he mentioned his seminary background and then his response was “OH YEAH”, emphasizing strong agreement.
    His personal experience in seminary was there were lots of young men with big heads, it was going to be all about them.

    Well, it has not changed. When I was in seminary in the 1980s, I saw this. These are the same guys involved in the purge of the SBC in the 80/90s. It wasn’t about being conservative. It was,as most of you know, about power and control.
    Thank you Jesus for letting me ” fall” into a high school teaching position instead of still being on a church staff. ( and teaching school was no picnic…)

  77. K.D. wrote:

    Thank you Jesus for letting me ” fall” into a high school teaching position instead of still being on a church staff.

    In the wrong church culture being on staff can be damaging, I was not staff yet I was sucked into being a disciple of an institution. It was only when the institution leadership began treating people in a manner irreconcilable that I left and the proverbial scales started to fall away.

    Recently, in a much more positive church culture, I had a discussion with an associate pastor who I have seen to be a humble servant. I’ll badly relay what he said but he mentioned his concern that when he went on staff he might lose sight of the goal and be diverted into institution concerns.

    I’ve known good men and women in full time staff positions yet I fear many others do not have similar concerns. Rather than have misgivings over potentially making their lives about an institution they go so far as to make the institution about themselves.

  78. __

    “Weed-Eaters: Beyond 501(c)3 Neo-Oz, Perhaps?”

    “Good police departments screen applicants to weed out those likely to abuse authority, seminaries and denominations should do the same.” –Bill M

    Even in black and white, there’s no place like home. [1]

    Jesus said: “Come unto me ALL that are heavy laden, and I shall give you rest…”

    There’s no place like home,
    There’s no place like home,
    There’s no place like home,

    Jesus’ home is a place of rest,

    Jesus invites ALL the lit’t children ta come ta His house,

    He took the Devil’s keys to Death & Hell to prove it!

    (smiley face goes here)

    ATB

    Sopy
    __
    Comic relief: There’s no place like home “Wizard Of Oz” 1939
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-Y9eQAFYdg

    🙂

  79.   __

    ‘Shepherd Your Soul’ ?  (tm)

    Dear Wartburg reader,

    hmmm…

      As a kind reminder, ‘you’ (the potential church visitor) are free to inform any 501(c)3 religious church establishment you should ‘possibly’ choose to attend services, that it is your understanding that regular church services at their facility, as a current standard practice and general rule, are open to the general public, and as such, that although you are currently happy to attend services at their 501(c)3 religious non-profit tax-free establishment, you do not require this pastor or this church leadership to ‘shepherd your soul’  (tm) [at this time], as this ‘visitation’ on your part, is of a ‘trial period’ (r) and you are politely requesting time to consider your options. If they do not respect your wishes, please kindly thank them for their time, and politely, quietly, quickly dismiss yourself from the 
    premises [1].

    A word to the wise?

    You decide.

    ATB

    Sopy

    __
    [1] premises:
    A house of worship or church building, together with its land and outbuildings, occupied by a state registered 501(c)3 church business or considered in an official context: “501(c)3 non-profit tax-free religious business establishment”
    synonyms: church building(s) · property · site · church office

  80. __

    “Abuse In The Work Place?”

    hmmm…

    Former CLC’er wrote:

    It’s kind of sad that one kind of nondescript church in D.C. can have so much influence around the world.
    On a more personal front, for a few months since my last supervisor resigned, I am reporting to a director who attends CHBC. I have been having issues with his leadership style, although it may well be that it’s just his personality and not anything to do with the influence of the church.I generally work out of the office, so we haven’t gotten into too many theological discussions, although one of our discussions didn’t go too badly.

    IMHO you are playing with fire…

    Ask Eagle.

    (sadface)

    ATB

    Sopy

  81. __

    Who Ya Gonna ‘Believe’ ?

    hmmm…

    The teaching of 5 point TULIP Calvinism is exclusionary, whereas Christ Jesus’ offer from His Father is inclusive.

    huh?

    yep.

    God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that if you will believe in Him, you will not perish, but have everlasting life. That is Jesus’ simple message of the gospel, and an offer of ‘hope’.

    What?

    This kind ‘offer’ from the Almighty, is open to All.

    You decide.

    ATB

    Sopy

  82. Off-topic here, but New Horizons is now less than a megamile from Pluto: the flyby is tomorrow…

  83. __

    “Abuse Abstinence is a choice?”

    hmmm…

    Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC): The only way to ‘win’ is Not to play this calvinesta 501(c)3 religious game?

    huh?

    Walk on by?

    What?

    You decide.

    ***

    Hum,  hum, hum…♪♫♪ Pastor, if you see me walking down the CHBC church isle,
    And I start to cry each time we meet,
    Walk on by, walk on by…

    Make believe
    That you don’t see the tears,
    Just let me grieve…
    In private ’cause each time I see you,
    I break down and cry…
    Please walk on by (don’t stop)
    Please And walk on by (don’t stop)
    Just walk on by…

    Yeah,

    I just can’t get over being abused,
    And so if I seem broken and blue,
    Walk on by, walk on by,
    My self-respect
    Is all that I have left,
    So let me hide,
    The tears and the sadness you gave me,
    When shared your abusive exclusionary gospel,
    Pay me no mind,
    I’m gonna just walk on by, as well,
    Just walk on by…[1]

    Zip, Zap, Zawie,

    (sadface)

    Sopy
    __
    [1]”Walk On By” (adapted for parody; Disclaimer: U.S. Title 17 infringement unintended, all rights reserved; Songwriters: Burt Bacharach & David Hall; Original Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

    A music video:
    ‘Walk On By’ – Diana Krall
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mSllGo-Fr_Y

    ;~)

  84. @ Sopwith:

    I thought TWW readers were only mad at “neo” Calivinists? New to the comment section, btw, but I think we should be careful of lumping in these “Calvinista” wackadoos with the more traditional Reformed doctrine based churches. Personally, I have attended a Presbyterian church for many years and have NEVER experienced the things I read about here. We’re Calvinists! We ordain women! What is this membership contract stuff all about?? I go back because I want to!

    Done shouting. 😉

  85. __

    “Is Believing In Jesus Possible?”

    hmmm…

      For the unsaved man to ‘believe’ in Jesus is odious to a Calvinist such as Pastor Mark Dever, for apparently it is seen as some type of self-serving ‘works’ program for a ‘dead man’, yet that is exactly what Jesus asked the Jewish religious leader Nicodemus in the New Testament story to do! Jesus said to him that God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that :

    WHOSOEVER would ‘believe’ in Him (Jesus) ‘that’ individual would not perish but receive eternal life!

    Further more, Calvinist, such as Pastor Mark Dever, teach that Jesus died ‘only’ for The ‘Elect’. The New testamen makes it quite clear that Jesus died for ALL. 

      Jesus made it quite clear as well, that His disciples were to preach this ‘gospel’ :

     “that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that WHOSOEVER would believe in Him (Jesus) ‘that’ individual would not perish but receive eternal life”

    to every nation.

    Jesus preached that Man could ‘believe’ unto salvation, indeed requested that they earnestly and diligently do so.

    What?

          “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. “He who ‘believes’ in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not ‘believed’ in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – Jesus


    Respectfully, how about you Kind Reader, are you ‘believing’ in Jesus unto salvation of your eternal soul?

    Please consider it today?

    ATB

    Sopy

    🙂

  86. Entirely unsurprising. 9Marks, most of their cronies, and a great deal of others have entirely substituted law for gospel in their ecclesiology and praxis. To put this into perspective, 9Marks essentially invented “nine marks” of a “healthy” church, and uses that document to create governance. In a move that is surprising to exactly no one, the marks fail to include things that the Bible actually indicate are marks of a healthy church. You know, things like the fruit of the spirit.

  87. Sopwith wrote:

    Further more, Calvinist, such as Pastor Mark Dever, teach that Jesus died ‘only’ for The ‘Elect’. The New Testament makes it quite clear that Jesus died for ALL. 

    I’ve run that one by young neocalvinists before. “Please tell me, young, strutting, neocalvinist friend, when the Bible indicates those for whom Jesus died, why does the text use the Greek word “kosmos” (all, everyone) rather than “elektos” (just the elect)? Does the Bible have it wrong?”

    At this point, they get a deer-in-headlights look and start rambling along these lines “Well, uh, there’s this parallel verse somewhere–now where is that?–that clearly throws that “kosmos” stuff into a different light and tells us absolutely that when the Bible says “whole world, everyone”, it really just means all those who are predestined in the whole world…yes, that’s it, I think it was Grudem who said that, er, maybe Piper, uh…” Either they bumble and stumble like that or they start raising their voices and their veins bulge and they go along these lines: “So are you saying you believe in a God who would WASTE HIS LIFE dying for people who would not accept Him?” You believe in an inefficient God…A GOD WHO DOESN’T HAVE THE POWER TO SAVE EVERY SINGLE PERSON HE DIES FOR???” At which point they get really incensed at you, maybe more like the sort of rage that surely drove the minions to tie Servetus to the stake and light the flames in service of Calvin. For this questioning of your’s is a direct assault on John Piper, who already told them not to waste their lives (as if it were all about THEM)…hey, they bought the books, the t-shirts, the study guides, the CDs, the works..and you, an infidel, are proposing a God Who might be willing to waste His out of passionate love for everyone He created…heretics!

  88. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    fruit of the spirit

    Now, there’s something you won’t find preached in a New Calvinist church! There is little exhortation for the pew to pursue holiness, since the pulpit is far from holy. In fact, you won’t hear much preaching about the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit in NC works. In regards to 9Marks and their elder rule mumbo-jumbo … control, manipulation and intimidation in such churches are not fruit of the spirit.

  89. K.D. wrote:

    purge of the SBC in the 80/90s. It wasn’t about being conservative. It was,as most of you know, about power and control.

    As it turned out, the “Conservative Resurgence” actually had very little to do with being conservative … it was all about being Calvinist. The CR may have been designed to crack down on liberals and moderates, but certain SBC leaders (like Al Mohler) took advantage of the feeding frenzy to turn it into a “Calvinist Resurgence” under the guise of the conservative banner. Calvinists thrive on power and control and they do it best when they takeover churches and denominations. The SBC has essentially been Calvinized at this point and the sleeping masses didn’t see it coming … they are still thinking something “conservative” is happening.

  90. Again, new to the blog and/or comment section, but I must say I’m a bit troubled by what I’m reading. I would tend to agree that theological hubris is a Bad Thing no matter what doctrines one adheres to, so I understand somewhat the derisive tones when speaking about the “New Calvinist” and “Calvinista” types in some churches today.

    However, I don’t understand the guilt-by-association or what have you when speaking on the SBC being “Calvinized”. I would think that when one mentions a traditionally Calvinist/Reformed doctrine denomination, one would be thinking of RCA or any of the various Presbyterian denominations, the vast majority of which practice an egalitarian form of ministry (ordaining women as elders and deacons…this includes pastors) without necessarily ignoring arguments for complementarian home life. I also don’t know *anyone* in my church circles who puts the Institutes, or Augustine’s Confessions, or any non-divinely-inspired writings on the same level as Scripture.

    In the end, I just hope we can all have reasoned and NON-polemic discussions on these points of doctrine One’s view on predestination or election isn’t a theological “hill to die on”.

    Cheers,

    Jay

  91. Max wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    purge of the SBC in the 80/90s. It wasn’t about being conservative. It was,as most of you know, about power and control.
    As it turned out, the “Conservative Resurgence” actually had very little to do with being conservative … it was all about being Calvinist. The CR may have been designed to crack down on liberals and moderates, but certain SBC leaders (like Al Mohler) took advantage of the feeding frenzy to turn it into a “Calvinist Resurgence” under the guise of the conservative banner. Calvinists thrive on power and control and they do it best when they takeover churches and denominations. The SBC has essentially been Calvinized at this point and the sleeping masses didn’t see it coming … they are still thinking something “conservative” is happening.

    Going to be ugly here….the average person in the pew is as my late grandmother would say…” Dumber than ten cows.” ( cows are tasty, but not very bright)
    And the way the denomination is going, it is going to be ” dead as Dillenger ” ( another of her sayings.)

  92. Jay wrote:

    SBC being “Calvinized”

    Reformed Southern Baptist leadership now controls 7 of 11 SBC entities … including leading seminaries, its home mission agency, its foreign mission organization, and publishing house. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, ground-zero for New Calvinism, is producing more young, restless and reformed graduates than you can shake a stick at. They find first pastorates via SBC’s church planting venture (where they introduce their flocks to reformed theology) or by going in with stealth and deception to take over traditional SBC churches and move them in a reformed direction (there are numerous stories of young Calvinists essentially lying to pulpit search committees about their theological persuasion). LifeWay’s Sunday School literature has subtle drops of Calvinist doctrine if you have your eyes and ears tuned in.

    Yes, the largest non-Calvinist denomination is being Calvinized incrementally – it will be fully Calvinized within one generation as non-Calvinist leadership at local and denominational levels pass from the scene. Is it a “hill to die on”? Depends on how one ranks God’s plan of salvation in the scheme of things. Did Jesus die for ALL men (everyone, everywhere in every age) or only predestined “elected” men before the foundation of the world? Does man have a free will to receive or reject the message of Christ? Or did a sovereign God determine who is saved and who is lost, before they ever drew breath? Makes a big difference on the message and method for evangelism and mission. Two distinctly different soteriologies cannot coexist in a single denomination going forward … it sends a confusing message to the world on who Southern Baptists are (at least the bunch I have known for over 60 years).

  93. @ Max:

    Thanks for the info, I realize I am coming at this a bit wide-eyed when it comes to my knowledge of Baptist doctrines in general, despite growing up in Oklahoma. 😉

    When I say “hill to die on” I mean this: I attend a Presbyterian Church, deeply rooted in reformed Protestant tradition, with an Evangelical focus. I believe if you call on Jesus, and you believe in the promise of the Gospel, you are saved. Full stop. I also think people can have disagreements about soteriology, the “methods” God uses to call us to a relationship to Himself, and still believe we are both saved. I believe there will be Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and more in the Presence when this has all run its course.

    Since I believe that, I do not believe in polemic discussion between believers, is all. I believe that folks like Driscoll, and other “wayward” figures need our prayers and sometimes our assertive rejections of clearly un-biblical teachings, but never hatefulness.

    In that light, I don’t want this to come across as the theological equivalent of “two snaps up in a circle” while shouting “you don’t KNOW ME”. 😉 It’s just the descriptions of Calvinism I’ve seen in the comment sections here don’t square with my experience in the Presbyterian Church of my youth, and of today. Is there some wedge issue I’m unaware of having to do with Reformed doctrine? Is it the old Calvin/Arminius debate? As far as my personal understanding, it matters not so much how one believes God “picked” you, as it is that you answered the call. Also, is it just a nuance to say we believe that while Christ died for the elect, his death is *sufficient* to redeem the entire human race? The Bible clearly doesn’t teach universal atonement, does it?

    Sorry…not my intention to rehash any old debates, I just want MOAR LOVE up in here.

    –Jay “the friendly Presbyterian”

  94. refugee wrote:

    Where does he get off?

    It is this new authority kick the 9Marks/TGC boys are getting into. We were on a parachurch board together he was the president (emphasis on was). I fully disclosed that I wrote a blog when I joined the group. he belonged to a neoCalvinist church which keeps the neo stuff on the down low. I guess he believed that as president, he could tell me what to do outside of the group. he even admitted that i had performed my functions properly and well on the board.

    I volunteered to step down but the other board members disagreed.So, he quit. I guess it means that he and the boys believe that they are in charge. If they are told “no” they take their ball and go home.

  95. God wrote:

    Pah! I’ve already approved them.
    Best regards,
    God

    Thank you. Next time I shall tell them God, the one who is a buddy of Nick, approve me blog.

  96. @ Jay:

    Jay, you really need to speak with some people who used to be involved in Sovereign Grace, Acts 29, HBC, parts of the SBC and Evangelical Free. This stuff has created problems in so many ways. I’ve known way too many people whose life revolves around what John Piper and Mark Driscoll have said. It really shows how many Christians struggle with discernment and critical thinking skills.

  97. Jay wrote:

    Since I believe that, I do not believe in polemic discussion between believers, is all. I believe that folks like Driscoll, and other “wayward” figures need our prayers and sometimes our assertive rejections of clearly un-biblical teachings, but never hatefulness.

    Jay, it really depends on how people define “hatefulness”. the Driscoll types define any dissent or information they do not want public as “hatefulness”. Sometimes they use words like bitter, angry, rebellious, etc.

    So I am not at all sure how you would define it but I am guessing by your comments here you don’t think discussing problems, behaviors and authoritarian doctrines as hateful.

    My experience with the typical Presbyterian Calvinist years ago is that they were much more concerned with social justice than the determinism of Calvin’s Systematic Theology. I have read the Institutes and done a lot of reading of Reformed history and believe the Neo Cal movement we see today is much closer to the intent of Calvin’s Geneva than how Calvinism (really determinism/ state church mentality) evolved across Europe all the way to the Puritans. There are many variations but the one constant up until a few hundred years ago was authoritarianism which is related to the determinism. I believe the resurgence is about authoritarianism which Calvin and subsequent Reformers/Protestants modeled so well throughout history. The SBC was founded on that caste system authoritarianism over taking slaves to the mission field. Boyce (An SBC founder) believed that God determined slavery so they could be “discipled” by Christians. The SBC even named a college for him. After God did not determine the South would win the war, that thinking started to evolve over the decades toward free will, soul competency/liberty and a real focus on the priesthood of believer.

    Some of us find Calvin a tyrannical monster and are shocked he is such a hero to so many or that his ST has any credibility. That does not mean that people who attend Calvinist type churches are, too. In fact, I doubt that so many would be even giving Calvin’s history the time of day if there had been no Neo Cal resurgence from which so many were told they did not know the true Gospel. they actually made Calvin a centerpiece for people to take interest in and many do not like the rotten fruit they are reading about him.

  98. Beakerj wrote:

    get me to a carpark to give soup to homeless people

    Yes, there are far too many “wet behind the ears” pastors and elders, deacons, whatevers. It is their very youth and lack of experience that cause lots of problems. What is really funny is watching these guys tell people how to raised *godly* kids. Their kids are usually under the age of 8 and controllable.

    I know one pastor who designed a *gospel* curriculum which would all but guarantee that their kids would be Christian leaders in the future. One of his kids became a drug addict and another fit the description of “run around Sue.”

    Recently, I have been telling lots of people who are *done* with church to volunteer with a parachurch organization like a soup kitchen, human trafficking advocacy, low income assistance, etc.There is a sense of one’s money being well used and needed, gratitude by others that you are there, and Jesus in the midst of “whenever two or more are gathered.”

    In my opinion, you might get much more out of the soup kitchen than you would some youthful pastor trying very hard to look cool and attract more cool young people.

  99. Max wrote:

    The American church is being taken for a ride by young reformed whippersnapper pastors in their 20s-30s with “elder” teams of the same vintage. Some foolish parent church planted them and gave them the keys to their own car, while they are still being spoon-fed.

    Thank you for making me laugh. Do you read Tim Fall’s blog. He has taken to using the word whippersnapper and has also started #whippersnapper.

    Now add to your description that the church plant given to the #whippersnapper is usually in an upscaled neighborhood which already has lots of churches. The goal appears to be to move the money to their plant.

  100. @ Eagle:

    I guess that’s what led me here?? I started hearing about all this crazy stuff where people are signing contracts with their churches, and cult-of-personality pastors who claimed to be Calvinist/Evangelical talking about the “masculinity” of Jesus, and sour-faced boards of Elders licking their chops at the idea of meting out “discipline” and I’m wondering what the heck is going on out there? Acts 29 only came on my radar recently as well, but I’ve been leery of any church without an ordinal number in the name for along time. Maybe I’ve been living in a bubble, but it’s a REALLY big bubble, and a lot of traditional church folks are in it with me.

    PS Another boring “well, in my church” comment: Presbyterian polity and church governance simply leaves no room for a pastor to run roughshod over anyone. Elders are nominated and approved by the church body, and the pastor is approved by the current Session, or governing board. It may sound like drudgery, and maybe it can be, but I sure wouldn’t want the alternative, even if congregational meetings closely resemble 4H. “The meeting will come to order!”

  101. Nancy2 wrote:

    Mentally, I’m a “done”, too. I just keep a pew seat warm. ….. I wonder how much longer I’ll do that?

    We went, for a short time, to an SBC church which was a typical megahurch. I held my breath because the times they held the worship fit my husband’s schedule and he really wanted to be in church.

    Thankfully, we were able to find a liturgical based church with even more perfect hours an are quite pleased with it.

    Why not get involved with a parachurch group that cares for the elderly, poor, abused, etc? You would be such a blessing. And you would be so appreciated. You have so much to offer others.

  102. Jay wrote:

    Is there some wedge issue I’m unaware of having to do with Reformed doctrine? Is it the old Calvin/Arminius debate? As far as my personal understanding, it matters not so much how one believes God “picked” you, as it is that you answered the call. Also, is it just a nuance to say we believe that while Christ died for the elect, his death is *sufficient* to redeem the entire human race? The Bible clearly doesn’t teach universal atonement, does it?

    Jay, some of us are so weary of the sorts of things you write above because we have been discussing and debating them for a decade due to the resurgence.

    As if– if we are not Calvinists then we are Arminian. That Arminian is the default position UNLESS we are Universalists. I am non of the above.

    Or the idea that if limited atonement is not the position then it has to default to universal atonement. I don’t believe in either. I am not even Protestant. I am a zero point Calvinist. :o) The Neo Cal resurgent’s call me a Pelagian because I believe in human responsibility and ability.

    And the reason is because I start with human volition, human responsibility, human liberty as designed by God according to my understanding of scripture. The main difference in Calvinism or Free will variations is the filters in which we read the scriptures. My position is that Calvinism works best on paper but not real applicable to real life unless one wants to live in complete cognitive dissonance with such terms as compatablism, etc. The irony is that most Calvinists do not practice it as it is understood in its many variations on paper.

  103. Stan wrote:

    Personally, I’ll worship the Moon Goddess before I go to a 9Marks affiliated church.

    Thank you for making me laugh really hard!

  104. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    While I will probably never officially join another church in my life (I am already a member of The Church!) I envision myself remaining at the Anglican church until I leave Dubai.

    Does 9 Marx approve of the Anglican church? Have they bestowed their blessing on you? Better yet, have they ever apologized?

  105. rhondajeannie wrote:

    The Bible says that elders are to be ‘above reproach’ however these leaders are ‘above accountability’

    Many of these churches have a strange view of leadership. They believe that the vision for the church has been given to their glorious leader. That means all the minute aspects of the vision as well. So, if you disagree with the trajectory of CJ Mahaney’s SGM nightmare masquerading as a ministry, then you are going against the very vision that God has give John Folmar and BFFs.

    Also, it is downright fascinating to see how these dudes can define “above reproach” in any way they want. The Bible is often misused to promote a peculiar leader’s vision.

  106. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    but New Horizons is now less than a megamile from Pluto: the flyby is tomorrow

    I will try to post a picture from that flyby later this week.

  107. Beakerj wrote:

    My tolerance for Christian culture is at an all time low.

    Mine, too. And it is not just the horrors we are witnessing but the lack of curiosity that seems to be so prevalent. The lack of questioning what is taught. The lack of seeing truth as something beautiful to seek but thinking the guy on stage has it so they don’t have to dig for themselves.

    I love reading historical scholars (some not well known at all)but can barely sit through a typical sermon anymore. I am so sick of being told what to think and believe. I am so sick of the manipulation of emotions.

  108. @ Law Prof:
    Someone I respect recently asked me why I wasn’t a Calvinist, especially since I have read extensively on the subject. For me, it boils down to love versus the glory of God. Many Reformed people will insist that everything God does is for His glory. I believe that His love for all of us as well as for what He has created is part and parcel of His glory.

    Without His love, His glory would be difficult to see since it would be fierce and beyond our compression. Yet, it is His love which draws us to Him and makes His glory beautiful and somewhat able to be apprehended by his people.

  109. dee wrote:

    Or big spider with hairy legs.

    A big cute fluffy bug… that eats midges… how can anyone not love that?

    #arachnophile

  110. Jay wrote:

    . I would think that when one mentions a traditionally Calvinist/Reformed doctrine denomination, one would be thinking of RCA or any of the various Presbyterian denominations, the vast majority of which practice an egalitarian form of ministry (ordaining women as elders and deacons…this includes pastors) without necessarily ignoring arguments for complementarian home life. I also don’t know *anyone* in my church circles who puts the Institutes, or Augustine’s Confessions, or any non-divinely-inspired writings on the same level as Scripture.

    We came up with the title “Calvinista” specifically to differentiate today’s brand of Calvinism from the traditional for of Calvinism. I have a number of friends who are Reformed and enjoy their company even though I am not a Calvinist.

  111. In other news, there’s a rainbow emerging from some evening mist over the woods outside my bedroom window.

    #lovescotland

  112. Max wrote:

    it sends a confusing message to the world on who Southern Baptists are (at least the bunch I have known for over 60 years).

    Well, the world is responding. in 2014, the SBC lost 200,000 members. This in spite of the mega church, mega celebrity, copious church planting leadership. My prediction is that hardcore Calvinism will continue to cause people to leave the church. Their ascension in the SBC has led to a shrinking of membership.

  113. Lydia wrote:

    Jay wrote:
    Since I believe that, I do not believe in polemic discussion between believers, is all. I believe that folks like Driscoll, and other “wayward” figures need our prayers and sometimes our assertive rejections of clearly un-biblical teachings, but never hatefulness.
    Jay, it really depends on how people define “hatefulness”. the Driscoll types define any dissent or information they do not want public as “hatefulness”. Sometimes they use words like bitter, angry, rebellious, etc.
    So I am not at all sure how you would define it but I am guessing by your comments here you don’t think discussing problems, behaviors and authoritarian doctrines as hateful.
    My experience with the typical Presbyterian Calvinist years ago is that they were much more concerned with social justice than the determinism of Calvin’s Systematic Theology. I have read the Institutes and done a lot of reading of Reformed history and believe the Neo Cal movement we see today is much closer to the intent of Calvin’s Geneva than how Calvinism (really determinism/ state church mentality) evolved across Europe all the way to the Puritans. There are many variations but the one constant up until a few hundred years ago was authoritarianism which is related to the determinism. I believe the resurgence is about authoritarianism which Calvin and subsequent Reformers/Protestants modeled so well throughout history. The SBC was founded on that caste system authoritarianism over taking slaves to the mission field. Boyce (An SBC founder) believed that God determined slavery so they could be “discipled” by Christians. The SBC even named a college for him. After God did not determine the South would win the war, that thinking started to evolve over the decades toward free will, soul competency/liberty and a real focus on the priesthood of believer.
    Some of us find Calvin a tyrannical monster and are shocked he is such a hero to so many or that his ST has any credibility. That does not mean that people who attend Calvinist type churches are, too. In fact, I doubt that so many would be even giving Calvin’s history the time of day if there had been no Neo Cal resurgence from which so many were told they did not know the true Gospel. they actually made Calvin a centerpiece for people to take interest in and many do not like the rotten fruit they are reading about him.

    Lydia wrote:

    Jay wrote:
    Is there some wedge issue I’m unaware of having to do with Reformed doctrine? Is it the old Calvin/Arminius debate? As far as my personal understanding, it matters not so much how one believes God “picked” you, as it is that you answered the call. Also, is it just a nuance to say we believe that while Christ died for the elect, his death is *sufficient* to redeem the entire human race? The Bible clearly doesn’t teach universal atonement, does it?
    Jay, some of us are so weary of the sorts of things you write above because we have been discussing and debating them for a decade due to the resurgence.
    As if– if we are not Calvinists then we are Arminian. That Arminian is the default position UNLESS we are Universalists. I am non of the above.
    Or the idea that if limited atonement is not the position then it has to default to universal atonement. I don’t believe in either. I am not even Protestant. I am a zero point Calvinist. :o) The Neo Cal resurgent’s call me a Pelagian because I believe in human responsibility and ability.
    And the reason is because I start with human volition, human responsibility, human liberty as designed by God according to my understanding of scripture. The main difference in Calvinism or Free will variations is the filters in which we read the scriptures. My position is that Calvinism works best on paper but not real applicable to real life unless one wants to live in complete cognitive dissonance with such terms as compatablism, etc. The irony is that most Calvinists do not practice it as it is understood in its many variations on paper.

    Lydia…didn’t see your first response, sorry. I am not here to “apologize” for Calvinists in general, merely to remind people that there is a large Church population out there whose theological views may hew to the older-school Reformed doctrines and YET, aren’t interested in authoritarianism, condemnation, fire and brimstone, or being a Manly Man for Jesus. “We” if I may be so bold, believe in the Great Commission, and even if we believe God knows who His elect are, He hasn’t shared it with us. 😉 At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters how many points you believe or don’t, or if you believe you came to God all by yourself, or the Spirit secretly nudged you. What matters is: did you accept the gift of grace. I can’t judge that for anyone. Lately, when I read about these super-duper pastors and what I think of as “pet” theologies, I get frustrated…then I keep coming back to Mark 12 (or Matthew 22)

    (Mark 12)
    28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

    Also, full disclosure, my church broke off from PC(USA) and joined ECO over doctrinal issues, and what many felt was the larger denomination’s “drift” to become more “one with the times”. “Social Justice” seemed to mean “support government programs that do what we should have been doing all along”…but that’s another story.

  114. dee wrote:

    Does 9 Marx approve of the Anglican church? Have they bestowed their blessing on you? Better yet, have they ever apologized?

    Are you asking about the actual 9Marx organization approving the Anglican church or the 9Marx outpost in Dubai known as UCCD?

    When UCCD leaders first found out I was attending the Anglican church one of the elders who was also a pastor asked me how I could attend that church as the Anglican pastor was not even a Christian. (Actually he was one of the most loving Christians I have ever met.) But that should answer your question as far as how UCCD views the Anglican church. I would bet Leeman/Dever probably feel the same although they would undoubtedly nuance their comments on this question a bit better than UCCD leadership.

    UCCD bestowed their blessing on me? Haha. Only if “shunning” is a synonym for “blessing.”

    Apologize? Dee are you auditioning for a comedy act?

  115. dee wrote:

    Max wrote:
    it sends a confusing message to the world on who Southern Baptists are (at least the bunch I have known for over 60 years).
    Well, the world is responding. in 2014, the SBC lost 200,000 members. This in spite of the mega church, mega celebrity, copious church planting leadership. My prediction is that hardcore Calvinism will continue to cause people to leave the church. Their ascension in the SBC has led to a shrinking of membership.

    And in many cases it is the Millinials. My 27 year old son is ” done.” He is well educated. ( masters)
    He has nothing in common with the pastor, the people in the pew….he thinks the music stinks and is simplistic, the sermons are all about his wrongdoing….as he said, ” I have just not been that bad this week….would it kill these guys to preach an uplifting sermon every once in a while? Or stop preaching the monthly sermon on giving…..the pastor already has a bigger car that me, and drives a better car….”

  116. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    When UCCD leaders first found out I was attending the Anglican church one of the elders who was also a pastor asked me how I could attend that church as the Anglican pastor was not even a Christian.

    And he would know this, how?

    This sort of declaration blows my mind based solely on their concept of “correct doctrine”.

  117. Jay wrote:

    Also, full disclosure, my church broke off from PC(USA) and joined ECO over doctrinal issues, and what many felt was the larger denomination’s “drift” to become more “one with the times”. “Social Justice” seemed to mean “support government programs that do what we should have been doing all along”…but that’s another story.

    Thanks Jay, I see your point in the entire comment. And agree with the above.

  118. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Ah, the abominable midgie. In the southern US, they fall under the category of creatures called “No see-ums.” May a stiff wind be at your back and throw the little buggers off of your scent.

  119. Chemie wrote:

    In the southern US, they fall under the category of creatures called “No see-ums.”

    Also in the northern US, as it happens. They can be utterly maddening, and can get through most screening on tents and such. In the ears, up the nose, in the eyes – ackkkk!!!!

  120. Jay wrote:

    It’s just the descriptions of Calvinism I’ve seen in the comment sections here don’t square with my experience in the Presbyterian Church of my youth, and of today. Is there some wedge issue I’m unaware of having to do with Reformed doctrine? Is it the old Calvin/Arminius debate?

    Jay, you can find a wealth of information on the ails of “New” Calvinism by Googling “Young, Restless and Reformed.” This aggressive movement is reaching militant proportions. Watchblogs like this one have extensive archives of articles flagging concerns about the message and messengers of these wannabe reformers. This ain’t your grandpa’s Presbyterian style of “Old” Calvinism!

    Regarding “hatefulness” in blogs and comments, I think most folks who follow watchblogs are concerned enough to express their views passionately in hopes to turn others away from the trappings of New Calvinism and other aberrant belief and practice. “Tough love” would be a better descriptor than “hatefulness.”

    No, the Bible doesn’t teach universal atonement … nor limited atonement. The atonement of Christ comes into perspective when the whole counsel of God is considered, rather than cherry-picked verses to support a reformed position on soteriology. Humans are not so totally depraved that they have a total inability to choose to believe the message of the Cross of Christ; nor is a determinate God sitting in heaven saving some and damning others before they are born. What love is this? Such theology is a misrepresentation of the character of God. There is much in Scripture about the sovereignty of God; there is much in Scripture about free will. It all works together in a way that is beyond human comprehension. But, praise God, you can access grace by faith to get a handle on Truth to help you on your journey.

  121. @ Jay:
    Hi, Jay. I think if you stick around here enough, you will see that we have all kinds of lively discussions. I think if you read long enough, you will see that most of us differentiate between Calvinists and the Calvinista Gospel Glitterati guys. I even draw distinctions between real Neo-Calvinists and the Calvinistas since that sometimes gets confused. I can see why you might think there is some guilt-by-association, but at least for me, I try to keep the categories separate. You may not have heard that Kevin DeYoung recently took his church out of the RCA because of The Woman Question. In reality, The Woman Question is really just a sub-category of the larger problem which is authoritarianism.

    As a Baptist from Herschel Hobbs country, you may not be familiar with Founders and the way they have systematically changed the way that Baptists view a lot of things. For example, they advocated for “elder-led, congregation-ruled” polity, but really that was a mask for removing the decision-making authority of the congregation. That probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to a Presbyterian, but it is a really big deal for Baptists to change.

    Another biggie that is rising is the issue of when to baptize a believer. Back in the day, Baptists kiddos who believed could be immersed as long as they could make what Presbyterians would call a credible profession of faith. Now, in the Gospel Glitterati Baptist churches, a baptismal candidate must be out on their own so that their profession is their own. So, there are great numbers of Baptist parents who have grown up in the SBC expecting their kids to be baptized upon their [credible] profession of faith. However, a new Gospel Glitterati-infatuated young pastor takes over their congregation, and suddenly their kids can no longer be baptized until they are 18 or so. No, really. This is hyper-Baptist doctrine and practice that is no more Baptist than hyper-Calvinism is Calvinism.

    You may not be aware that Reformed Baptists, as in ARBCA Baptists, have a very different mindset than what we have traditionally seen in Southern Baptist churches. They are like the old Primitive Baptists who slid into hyper-Calvinism. While they are formally not hypers, they are hypers for all practical purposes. You mentioned the “sufficient for all, efficient for the elect” formulation of Limited Atonement/Definite Atonement/Particular Redemption. You may not be aware that there are those, like Tom Nettles, who are teaching that the Atonement was sufficient only for the elect. He is part of Founders and is teaching Baptist ecclesiology at the flagship seminary of the SBC.

    There are plenty of us who would like to have civil and uplifting discussions at our churches. But we are not allowed to discuss certain doctrines. If you deviate from their strict Piper/Grudem gender theology, you are rebelling against God himself. If you question any of their formulations of doctrine, you are being “man-centered” and unconcerned with God’s glory. So, Cradle Roll Baptists with our pink New Testaments are either silenced in our own churches or kicked out for being what you good Presbyterians would call “contumacious.”

    I hope you will stick around. We have some great PCA commenters whom I appreciate greatly. There are many in the conservative Presbyterian churches that are every bit as alarmed by the Gospel Glitterati types as we Baptists are. IMO, the thing that binds the Gospel Glitterati Baptist and Presbyterian guys together is not a love for the Gospel or the Jesus of the Gospel but rather a love for their own power and influence. They are parasites on both the conservative Presbyterians and the conservative Baptists, IMNSHO.

  122. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    UCCD bestowed their blessing on me? Haha. Only if “shunning” is a synonym for “blessing.”

    Apologize? Dee are you auditioning for a comedy act?

    When someone receives an apology for anything from these guys, other than for being “insufficiently sensitive” due to “complex” or “complicated” issues, I hope that they will let the rest of us know. Because I have never heard of anyone receiving a real apology. When you are the infallible authorities, there is no perceived need to apologize. In fact, there is an affirmative duty to be an idiot and a jerk if you do it to defend the right doctrinal formulation or, especially, the right people.

  123. Jay wrote:

    Elders are nominated and approved by the church body, and the pastor is approved by the current Session, or governing board.

    A BIG difference with church polity over at the New Calvinist church plant is that the 20-30 year old reformed church planter hand-picked his “elder” team of 20-30 somethings, with “zero” input from the congregation. The policies and procedures at your Presbyterian church sounds much more dignified and Biblical.

  124. dee wrote:

    The rainbow or the disgusting, spawn of Satan, hairy leg spider?

    Er… Pluto.

    Even I might have reservations about picking up a spider visible from 600,000 miles away. It would probably turn out to be Ungoliant’s evil big brother.

  125. K.D. wrote:

    .would it kill these guys to preach an uplifting sermon every once in a while?

    I visited an SBC reformed church plant on Easter Sunday a few years ago … had to see what the message would be at this popular church attracting the 20-40 crowd in our area. The “lead” pastor, barely 30, didn’t skip a beat on his sermon series in Ephesians. No mention of the message of the Cross … just bullets from Ephesians on the big screen. There were lost folks in attendance who could have benefited from the most uplifting story ever told, but they didn’t get the chance to hear it.

  126. … and only the most ardent Tolkien fans will know what I’m talking about there (indeed, they’ll know that Ungoliant had no siblings).

  127. __

    “Inability to believe in Jesus?”

    hmmm…

    Dear Wartburg Reader,

    hey,

       When Capitol Hill Baptist Church & Nine Marks Pastor Mark Dever speaks of the gospel, he says Man is unable to believe.

    huh?

    Pastor Mark Dever with this position, invariably conterdicts Jesus words in John’s gospel. 

    He also teaches that Jesus died only for the elect. Again he counterdicts the testamony of Jesus in the four gospels. 

    NOTICE: What is also important here is that Pastor Mark Dever teaches that if you do not include these ‘doctrines’ (listed above) in your gospel message, you are preaching a incomplete gospel.

    What?

    Please remember, Jesus was kind enough to tell us that God was will to include ALL, WHOSOEVER ‘believed’ in His Son Jesus, that ‘they’ would not perish but have eternal life. 

    This was the very ‘core’ of Jesus’ gospel. 

    ***

    truth or fiction?

    You Decide.

    ATB

    Sopy

  128. dee wrote:

    In my opinion, you might get much more out of the soup kitchen than you would some youthful pastor trying very hard to look cool and attract more cool young people.

    I think I’ve always been this way, when I led Christian youth work for 15 years I always kept away from the lala land of Christian youth culture. Given that I work with actual secular youths the rest of the week being a poor version of that never had any appeal. And I have always found most of Christian culture to be anaemic & shallow, particularly in its one dimensional portrayal of our humanity.
    I do have to remind myself that the other day, at the wedding I went to, although I didn’t appreciate it much – the two women who sang had fantastic voices – there were a lot of things I couldn’t see. Many of the people there are ‘doing life’ together, seeing each other through thick & thin, they have history so although it felt very insubstantial to me I expect that for them (the 20 or so members of the church who were there) singing songs they like, with people they love was probably a much more spiritual experience than I was having.
    And as for spiders – my lodger used to be terrified & did a spider-phobia course at London Zoo where she ended up handling a tarantula with no problems. We now have 4 house spiders, all with names. Frank, our bathroom spider, does have very hairy legs, but seems like a nice little chap – 2 inches toe to toe or not 🙂

  129. Eagle wrote:

    This stuff has created problems in so many ways. I’ve known way too many people whose life revolves around what John Piper and Mark Driscoll have said. It really shows how many Christians struggle with discernment and critical thinking skills.

    That may be the problem, they don’t struggle.

  130. Jay wrote:

    Since I believe that, I do not believe in polemic discussion between believers, is all. I believe that folks like Driscoll, and other “wayward” figures need our prayers and sometimes our assertive rejections of clearly un-biblical teachings, but never hatefulness.

    Maybe the primary thing I’m troubled by, to use your phrase, is that I don’t see much “hatefulness” from any camp except those who are entrenched within power structures and are throwing bile at anyone who questions their position on the top of the hierarchy.

    I see a lot of hatefulness in the manner in which Mr. Driscoll apparently treated everyone whom he did not view as sufficiently beneficial to his own interests;

    I see a lot of hatefulness from the SGM crowd towards anyone who questions their actions in covering up sexual abuse or supporting those who do so;

    I see a lot of hatefulness from Mr. Mohler in his various purges that essentially stripped SBTS of a lot of bona fide Christians who had bona fide intellects;

    I see a lot of hatefulness from the United Church of Dubai expressing itself in the way that Mr. Wilhelm was treated.

    I think you’re right to point out the hatefulness, Jay, but I think you’re pointing the invective at the wrong crowd.

  131. Jay wrote:

    Presbyterian polity and church governance simply leaves no room for a pastor to run roughshod over anyone. Elders are nominated and approved by the church body, and the pastor is approved by the current Session, or governing board. It may sound like drudgery, and maybe it can be, but I sure wouldn’t want the alternative, even if congregational meetings closely resemble 4H. “The meeting will come to order!”

    Jay, I also used to hold Presbyterian polity and separation/delegation of power as the gold standard in (earthly) church governance.

    (Somewhat relevant aside: The place in which I live seems to run the gamut of Presyterianism, from head coverings, to hard-core “Calvinistas,” to moderate/traditional PCA, to women preachers, to seeker-friendly multi-campus megachurches. One example: I heard the story of a Presbyterian father, who will not let men “court” his adult daughter unless they believe in correct theology. The correct theology in question? Professing belief in every single point of the Westminster Confession of Faith, in effect elevating it about the Bible. While an extreme example, it is unfortunately typical of many “Christian” beliefs widely held in this part of the country)

    Ultimately, the weakness of Presbyterian polity is that if a majority of those responsible for decision-making elevate “correct theology” above the fruits of the spirit (love, forbearance, kindness, etc), then there is no balance of power, as everyone is in agreement. In fact, Presbyterian governance can make a bad situation worse, as a believer who does not hold “correct theology” is beat up by multiple people at all levels of the church government.

    One example may be the target of a resolution on slavery at the recent PCA general assembly. This story also demonstrates weaknesses in Presbyterian governance: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/02/27/mrs-rhonda-j-aubert-vs-the-presbyterian-church-of-australia-a-case-study/

  132. Jay wrote:

    Presbyterian polity and church governance simply leaves no room for a pastor to run roughshod over anyone. Elders are nominated and approved by the church body, and the pastor is approved by the current Session, or governing board. It may sound like drudgery, and maybe it can be, but I sure wouldn’t want the alternative, even if congregational meetings closely resemble 4H. “The meeting will come to order!”

    Having been on the paid staff of a Presbyterian church (not neocalvinist) I can vouch at least for the strain of the Presbyterian church of which I was a part, that there was no room for anyone running roughshod, it was a group of people, none really having precedence over another, neither pastor nor elder nor youth director (my office); the pastor was there to perform a service to the congregation, but there was no doubt that had they become disenchanted, the pastor would’ve been long gone. It had its weaknesses, but it was a real body, not a place for hero worship or tyrants.

  133. Sopwith wrote:

    __
    “Inability to believe in Jesus?”
    hmmm…
    Dear Wartburg Reader,
    hey,
       When Capitol Hill Baptist Church & Nine Marks Pastor Mark Dever speaks of the gospel, he says Man is unable to believe.
    huh?
    Pastor Mark Dever with this position, invariably conterdicts Jesus words in John’s gospel. 
    He also teaches that Jesus died only for the elect. Again he counterdicts the testamony of Jesus in the four gospels. 
    NOTICE: What is also important here is that Pastor Mark Dever teaches that if you do not include these ‘doctrines’ (listed above) in your gospel message, you are preaching a incomplete gospel.
    What?
    Please remember, Jesus was kind enough to tell us that God was will to include ALL, WHOSOEVER ‘believed’ in His Son Jesus, that ‘they’ would not perish but have eternal life. 
    This was the very ‘core’ of Jesus’ gospel. 
    ***
    truth or fiction?
    You Decide.
    ATB
    Sopy

    Sopy,

    I, for one, appreciate your reminders. Needs to be said…

  134. @ Bill M:
    This is a big problem with American Christian culture – it does not allow for one to struggle with their beliefs – spoon-feeding, conformity, and blind belief is valued over thought, discernment, and testing what we are taught.

  135. dee wrote:

    Many Reformed people will insist that everything God does is for His glory.

    I stopped signing onto this meme shortly after the turn of the century. I could no longer float the idea that the Ancient of Days, beyond even power itself, Creator of all spaces, Euclidean and non, is in need of constant glorification by his creatures. It’s an insecurity I’d expect from the gods of the Greeks and the Canaanites, not the God of Jacob.

  136. dee wrote:

    I believe that His love for all of us as well as for what He has created is part and parcel of His glory.

    Precisely.

  137. Chemie wrote:

    Jay, I also used to hold Presbyterian polity and separation/delegation of power as the gold standard in (earthly) church governance.

    Ultimately, the weakness of Presbyterian polity is that if a majority of those responsible for decision-making elevate “correct theology” above the fruits of the spirit

    I know some folks that attend a Presbyterian church and I’ll agree, to use your words, they think it is the gold standard. There is a good deal of pride in their structure which may allow them to drop their guard. As one fellow said they are too optimistic of themselves.

    I’m curious about valuing correct theology above the fruit of the spirit. Does this mean those elected to Session are more likely to be chosen for their doctrine that their ability to love? If so that would be telling.

    At least the Presbyterian polity puts up more barriers to abusive one man rule. I would have been happier there than where I attended till recent.

  138. Max wrote:

    Jay wrote:
    SBC being “Calvinized”
    Reformed Southern Baptist leadership now controls 7 of 11 SBC entities … including leading seminaries, its home mission agency, its foreign mission organization, and publishing house. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, ground-zero for New Calvinism, is producing more young, restless and reformed graduates than you can shake a stick at. They find first pastorates via SBC’s church planting venture (where they introduce their flocks to reformed theology) or by going in with stealth and deception to take over traditional SBC churches and move them in a reformed direction (there are numerous stories of young Calvinists essentially lying to pulpit search committees about their theological persuasion). LifeWay’s Sunday School literature has subtle drops of Calvinist doctrine if you have your eyes and ears tuned in.
    Yes, the largest non-Calvinist denomination is being Calvinized incrementally – it will be fully Calvinized within one generation as non-Calvinist leadership at local and denominational levels pass from the scene. Is it a “hill to die on”? Depends on how one ranks God’s plan of salvation in the scheme of things. Did Jesus die for ALL men (everyone, everywhere in every age) or only predestined “elected” men before the foundation of the world? Does man have a free will to receive or reject the message of Christ? Or did a sovereign God determine who is saved and who is lost, before they ever drew breath? Makes a big difference on the message and method for evangelism and mission. Two distinctly different soteriologies cannot coexist in a single denomination going forward … it sends a confusing message to the world on who Southern Baptists are (at least the bunch I have known for over 60 years).

    I’ve been keeping tabs on the SBC for 2 or 3 years, now. Our SBC church (in Kentucky!!!) is currently looking for a new pastor. Scary.

  139. K.D. wrote:

    He has nothing in common with the pastor, the people in the pew….he thinks the music stinks and is simplistic, the sermons are all about his wrongdoing….as he said, ” I have just not been that bad this week….would it kill these guys to preach an uplifting sermon every once in a while? Or stop preaching the monthly sermon on giving…..the pastor already has a bigger car that me, and drives a better car….”

    What a breath of fresh air!

  140. Nancy2 wrote:

    I’ve been keeping tabs on the SBC for 2 or 3 years, now. Our SBC church (in Kentucky!!!) is currently looking for a new pastor. Scary.

    The KBC will most likely be advising the pulpit committee. Lots of SBTS YRR need jobs.

  141. Why not get involved with a parachurch group that cares for the elderly, poor, abused, etc? You would be such a blessing. And you would be so appreciated. You have so much to offer others.

    We live in a very rural area. Our current church (15 miles away) has and average attendance of about 95. I’d have to drive a lot of miles to find a parachurch group. I’d love to, but it’s just not feasable. I am beginning to seriously consider moving to another church. My husband may just have to bite a bullet.

  142. Bill M wrote:

    I know some folks that attend a Presbyterian church and I’ll agree, to use your words, they think it is the gold standard. There is a good deal of pride in their structure which may allow them to drop their guard. As one fellow said they are too optimistic of themselves.

    This is true of neocalvinists in general, not just the PCA Presbyterian strain, but I take exception to one thing: I don’t think they are too optimistic of themselves; my anecdotal experience, for what it’s worth, has been that they tend to be anything but optimistic about themselves, they more often hate themselves and are eaten up with insecurities and self-loathing. They may be in idolatry of the theology and structure and hierarchy and celebrities such as Piper, Grudem, Washer, Driscoll, Dever, but they tend to think very little of themselves, fed as they are on a steady diet of their totally depravity.

  143. Law Prof wrote:

    they tend to think very little of themselves, fed as they are on a steady diet of their totally depravity.

    This doesn’t describe the group of believers I was mentioning, they are not neo-calvinist most describe themselves as calvinian. But wow, what a miserable bunch you describe, toxic theology.

  144. @ dee:

    Hey it’s no joke, there are divinely blessed pastries involved.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chang%27e

    Dee: Are you enough of a sports fan to know of Todd Marinovich? He was raised by his father specifically to be a star NFL quarterback. The father even tied his right arm behind his back as a toddler so he’d be left handed. He made it two years in the NFL, but the only thing he ended up doing was become a prolific drug user. It sounds you like knew the Christian ministry versions of him.

  145. Bill M wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    they tend to think very little of themselves, fed as they are on a steady diet of their totally depravity.
    This doesn’t describe the group of believers I was mentioning, they are not neo-calvinist most describe themselves as calvinian. But wow, what a miserable bunch you describe, toxic theology.

    Note I didn’t say they outwardly project these inner feelings of inadequacy and desperation. They tend to project a haughty grandeur, they are extremely argumentative, quick to correct us intellectual plebes, they are the pedants who shout down even the minute variation from the approved party line. They are kings of the world–nay, the universe. But when you scratch the surface just a bit, you tend to find a pathetic, insecure, wounded boy.

  146. Max wrote:

    Jay wrote:
    Elders are nominated and approved by the church body, and the pastor is approved by the current Session, or governing board.
    A BIG difference with church polity over at the New Calvinist church plant is that the 20-30 year old reformed church planter hand-picked his “elder” team of 20-30 somethings, with “zero” input from the congregation. The policies and procedures at your Presbyterian church sounds much more dignified and Biblical.

    Well, it’s straight out of the Book of Order; the methods our congregation has used since about 1890 when our church was “planted”. 😉

    Also, I’d like to say I really appreciate the comments from Lydia, Max, gram3. LawProf, and others. One of the reasons I finally decided to comment was to engage and make sure I wasn’t getting stuck in an echo chamber…and looking back at my posts from yesterday I see where I slipped (in my miiiiiind) from thinking “polemic” to typing “hateful” and that wasn’t really what I meant to do…so apologies to anyone I may have offended.

    I don’t want to understate my righteous indignation at this new and troubling strain of hyper-hypo Reformed pastors who are a danger to themselves and others. My experience from the lay theology program I went through at my church only served to smash to bits many of the assumptions I had about the nature of God, redemption, etc and reinforce others, all the while showing me how much I did NOT know. I think it also made me more sensitive to the sincerely held viewpoints of other believers, even if I don’t agree. In omnibus caritas.

  147. lydia wrote:

    Lots of SBTS YRR need jobs.

    Beware of pastoral candidates from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS). All have Calvinist leadership and their campuses are abuzz with New Calvinism in dorm rooms and campus coffee shops, with some professors meeting with students after-hours to make sure they get indoctrinated real good. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) was formerly the go-to place for pastor search committees to find candidates who held to traditional Southern Baptist belief and practice, but that hope is fading quickly. A wave of thousands of reformed graduates are entering SBC life, primarily through NAMB’s church planting program. But there are so many of those jobs and they will find their way into more traditional churches who do not have their theological guard up. Unfortunately (in this case), church folks are too trusting of any SBC-seminary trained pastor … you just can’t go blindly into the search process in that regard. Even if you ask some of these young rebels if they lean toward reformed theology, prefer plurality of elders church polity, etc. … they will elude you with their answers. Most pastor search committees comprised of lay members of the church are not equipped to discern stealth and deception. Darnedest thing I’ve ever seen … to witness the largest denomination in America so easy pickins’.

  148. Max wrote:

    lydia wrote:
    Lots of SBTS YRR need jobs.
    Beware of pastoral candidates from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS). All have Calvinist leadership and their campuses are abuzz with New Calvinism in dorm rooms and campus coffee shops, with some professors meeting with students after-hours to make sure they get indoctrinated real good. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) was formerly the go-to place for pastor search committees to find candidates who held to traditional Southern Baptist belief and practice, but that hope is fading quickly. A wave of thousands of reformed graduates are entering SBC life, primarily through NAMB’s church planting program. But there are so many of those jobs and they will find their way into more traditional churches who do not have their theological guard up. Unfortunately (in this case), church folks are too trusting of any SBC-seminary trained pastor … you just can’t go blindly into the search process in that regard. Even if you ask some of these young rebels if they lean toward reformed theology, prefer plurality of elders church polity, etc. … they will elude you with their answers. Most pastor search committees comprised of lay members of the church are not equipped to discern stealth and deception. Darnedest thing I’ve ever seen … to witness the largest denomination in America so easy pickins’.

    Probably the saddest thing is the jettisoning of a lot of intellectual firepower from the faculty of that seminary. There’s something to be said for one who has some legitimate intellectual acumen, thinks independently and consults the Lord rather than just falling into lockstep. From what I have been told from a number of sources and accounts I’ve read, pretty much anyone who didn’t fall into line with the neocalvinist zeal of once young, inexperienced (and now aging but still inexperienced because he has apparently shut his mind to experience) Mohler was purged or replaced via attrition. You lose a lot when you kill all dissent, you stop thinking, stop seeking anything but the Lord you’ve fashioned in your own mind.

    About a dozen years ago I met a couple who’d both received an MDiv from SBTS, but they announced their degrees as having been obtained “before the crazies took over”. How unfortunate that they must explain their hard-earned educations in that manner. That was the first I’d heard of the Mohler revolution, and in the subsequent years, it seems that time has only borne out the fruits of the neocalvinist movement with the increasing tales of abuse and doctrinal deviance. But that’s what happens when you make the pet theory of a dead church figure your idol.

    It appears that a solid seminary has been killed and it’s probably not coming back. Now they are at work on a once solid denomination.

  149. Max wrote:

    Darnedest thing I’ve ever seen … to witness the largest denomination in America so easy pickins’.

    I know the SBC claims approximately 16 million members while admitting that they do not purge their rolls of those who have disappeared or just plain gone off. That is a lot of people either way. But the RCC has almost 80 million people who claim to be catholic while only 66.6 million are parish affiliated. (stats re georgetown.edu ) That 80 million is something like a fourth of the population of the nation. I guess if the SBC can claim the 16 million the RCC can claim the 80 m.

    The SBC needs to dial it back on any claims for numerical dominance. And they need to clean up their membership roles while they do that. It goes to credibility.

  150. Chemie wrote:

    Professing belief in every single point of the Westminster Confession of Faith

    An SBC church plant near me requires that small group leaders sign off on the Westminster confession before they can be blessed by the elders to lead a Bible study. And, of course, only men can lead small groups; however, women can coordinate the food served at such gatherings.

  151. Okrapod wrote:

    I know the SBC claims approximately 16 million members while admitting that they do not purge their rolls of those who have disappeared or just plain gone off.

    Yes Okrapod, you are correct with this observation – SBC’s okrapods have been fried. I have been a Southern Baptist for 60+ years, so I speak with some experience in SBC life. My wife served as a church secretary for a while (whew, what an eye-opener!). When she noted that it might be a good idea to take folks off the roll who had not attended in years, moved out of the area, converted to Methodism, dead, or otherwise off the radar … she was confronted with much weeping and gnashing of teeth! It seems that SBC churches have this thing they call “the letter” that they send to their State conventions each year detailing various annual statistics (membership size, receipts, number of baptisms, etc.). To downsize the membership numbers to reflect reality would be the abomination that causes desolation! Thus, the 16 million number you hear tossed around is probably closer to an actual 8 million. Of that number, only 4 million probably attend regularly at SBC’s 45,000+ churches (I wonder if they keep that list current)… and of the 4 million or so who venture in the door on any given Sunday, less than 100 like myself seemed concerned enough to give a big whoop about the current trend toward Calvinism – they are largely an apathetic and prayerless bunch these days. Other discerning Southern Baptists who might comment on watchblogs have grown weary and are “done” with the wrangling – perhaps the 200,000 recorded as having left the SBC last year. Thus, I say easy pickins’.

  152. Law Prof wrote:

    You lose a lot when you kill all dissent, you stop thinking, stop seeking anything but the Lord you’ve fashioned in your own mind.

    You’ve just described John Calvin.

  153. Stan wrote:

    I’ll worship the Moon Goddess before I go to a 9Marks affiliated church.

    Me too. Honestly, anything but worshipping John Calvin & his Merry Men. Blechh!!

  154. Sean wrote:

    I swear, the more stories I read on this blog, the more thankful I am for the church I’ve found. This neo-calvinist culture is scary stuff. I’d almost say cultic.

    Spot on. As regular poster Gram3 has said, she was “keyed out” of her church (excommunicated); me too. I disagreed with the pastors/elders putting their friend a Megan’s List sex offender in charge of all kinds of things and not telling all parents and adults. Women with Ph.D.’s from Ivy League schools aren’t permitted to serve or speak at my former church (comp doctrine), but a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List just out of prison trumps a godly woman with a Ph.D.

  155. zooey111 wrote:

    Stan wrote:

    I’ll worship the Moon Goddess before I go to a 9Marks affiliated church.

    Me too. Honestly, anything but worshipping John Calvin & his Merry Men. Blechh!!

    I’ll join a Sunday morning bowling league. In fact, I wish I had! I would have gotten a cool shirt out of the deal with my name on it!