If *Simil Justus et Peccator;* Then What Should the Church Discipline?

“… you don't have to wait for someone to treat you bad repeatedly. All it takes is once, and if they get away with it that once, if they know they can treat you like that, then it sets the pattern for the future.”  ― Jane Green, Bookends link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=61538&picture=terrified-man
Terrified Man

I got home this morning at 8AM after spending the entire night in the Emergency Room with my elderly stepfather. He is doing better even though he is declining. Hopefully, what I wrote makes sense.

We are beginning to suspect that most churches which institute church discipline do so without considering what sins should be disciplined. The one *to be disciplined* sin mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 involved a man sleeping with his mother-in-law. However, the passage appears to indicate that Paul was more concerned that the man was justifying this sin as an allowed activity, and there were some members of the church that were buying into this. 1Coriinthians 5:1-3 (NIV-Bible Gateway.)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn't’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3

If you read on, it is for this reason that Paul says he should be thrown out of the church. (verses 4-7)

 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,[a][b] so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. 

It appears Paul was extremely concerned about the effect this man's justification was having on the congregation.  Tragically, the church was buying into the argument that such activity was allowed due to the freedom found in Christ. Such a belief system could lead to serious ramifications in what constituted true Christian belief in the nascent church.

The point I am trying to ram home is this. The particular sin in question went far beyond the sin of having illicit sex. It was the justification of such sin being *Christian* which inspired Paul's wrath.

"Simil iustus et peccator" causes difficulty when it comes to church discipline.

This phrase, attributed to Martin Luther, describes the state of the Christian who is simultaneously justified but still sinful. One of my pastors puts it this way: "We are positionally holy but functionally sinful."

Let me stop for a second and explain to you what I do not mean. Being functionally sinful does not mean I cannot deal with and overcome sins in my life. It means that I will still have other sins in my life even though I have dealt with a number of them. I have been challenged by some who say believing this means I cannot believe that pedophiles are capable of not molesting children, ever. That is not true.

As Christians we continually work to overcome sin in our lives. Some sins are far worse than others in how the affect us and those around us. So, suppose Joe is a pedophile and also has a habit of spitting gum on the sidewalk and giving the finger to his boss behind his back. It would seem to me that Joe should first concentrate all of his resources on dealing with his pedophilia, which ruins the lives of those who are abused. With the help of God and excellent counselors, he may be able to overcome his need to molest children. Then he can go onto dealing with gum spitting, etc.

Luther described this state as being “simultaneously justified and sinful at the same time,” or simul iustus et peccator in the Latin. So Christians are two things at the same time, both enduringly sinful  and completely forgiven and justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ. Their identity is dual. This is not a half-and-half relationship; it is 100% and 100%. Paradoxically, we are fully saved and made righteous in Christ, and at the same time we are still the same old sinner we used to be.

An email we received.
As you know, emails that we receive are kept confidential, so I am going to change some of the details so you won't be able to guess who wrote it. This individual, who committed a high profile sin, wrote and asked a favor of me. It was a favor that I was leaning towards granting, and I told him so. However, before I complied with his request, I asked a favor of him. This individual was deeply embedded in the Neo-Calvinist movement. My question went something like this.

I am leaning towards granting your request., However, I would like you to answer this question for me before I do. There are a number of people within your circle of friends who blame those who are not Calvinists of committing more sin because they are not Calvinists. Calvinists are more obedient. Since you obviously committed a high profile sin, and you are a NeoCalvinist, do you believe that Neo-Calvinists are involved in less sin than non-Calvinist Christians?

I never heard back from him; therefore, I did not grant his request. I believe that Calvinists are just as sinful, after conversion, as Arminians and whatevers.

All sin is the same. 

During the years we were closely following Sovereign Grace Ministries, we frequently came across comments on the SGM Survivor blogs that discussed the harsh, sin sniffing environment in those churches. It seemed that a number of alleged members were encouraged to *observe* the sins in the lives of others and then report them to the pastors. One lady was allegedly told that she needed to button the top button of her shirt since she was being immodest.

Others who attempted to deal with the issues within this troubled ministry would attempt to approach pastors and explain their concerns. Such encounters usually ended badly, as the person who went to the pastor was often accused of the sin of pride or disunity, etc.

Why sins that can be treated by church discipline should be outlined a priori.

Pastors and church leaders are just as capable of sinning as the average church attendee. The Master of Divinity degree does not wipe away the sin of the pastor. Churches which utilize the threat of church discipline to keep their members in line are abusive. All such a system accomplishes is to shut down transparency, causing members to hide their struggles from the light. 

If a church is know more for church discipline than for sharing the love of Jesus Christ, that church should be viewed with great suspicion.

Spare the rod or discipline thousands.

In 2012, The Gospel Coalition posted Spare the Rod, Spoil the Church by Wes Pastor.

In 1992, Wes planted Christ Memorial Church, where he continues to serve as senior minister.

This is also the hard work of shepherding. Ministers and church leaders are, like parents, guardians of the souls of their flocks. This requires constant attention to sinful attitudes. An unreconciled relationship or relational aloofness, spotty attendance, a critical spirit, an unhappy marriage and family—-all must be pursued and, as needed, lovingly confronted. This is the down-in-the-trenches work of church discipline, designed, like the small encounters in Matthew 18, to bring about repentance and, Lord willing, avoid the ultimate step.

We’ve seen this work pay off in our church. In one case the mere threat of bringing an issue before the elders as a preliminary step to going before the whole church was sufficient to bring about repentance. Another required a visit from two elders to elicit repentance from a lifetime habit of sin. And thousands of one-on-one encounters, where sin was confronted and quickly repented of, have kept situations from escalating and marriages from being torn apart. Even church elders experience this day-to-day discipline, taking mandatory sabbaticals from time to time to shore up areas of sin and neglect 

Christ Memorial Church has an attendance of about 300 on Sundays.  Given the fact that Vermont has the lowest church attendance of any state in the US, that's not bad.

Ministers and church leaders are like your parents.

This is unfortunate, patriarchal, condescending language. Years ago, we wrote a post called You Are the Child; Your Pastor Is Your Dad. The moment your pastor says this to any of you, get out of that church! You are being reduced to a child who must obey *daddy.* Unfortunately, that *daddy* is just as much of a sinner as you are. He is putting himself into the position of being able to sideline you because you have not reached his level of maturity.

1. This requires a constant attention to sinful attitudes.

Read that carefully. He is not pointing to observable sin like sleeping with your mother-in-law. He is mentioning *attitudes.* And he is constantly watching. Folks, attitudes are a matter of judgment. Let's look at a few of the ones he mentions. Ask yourself if you want to be constantly judged by a sinful pastor for:

  • Relational aloofness
  • Undefined spotty attendance
  • A critical spirit

Let's see, I guess he wants everyone to kiss up to the leaders, always be in church, and never, ever criticize anything because, after all, he is your *daddy*.

2. They use the threat of going before the elders and the congregation to achieve obedience.

Granted, if this was someone like Bernie Madoff who was ripping off poor people in the congregation, I would understand. But it does appear that relational aloofness and a critical spirit are very, very important to this pastor. Can you imagine disagreeing with your pastor on his latest church discipline scheme and suddenly you are being discussed in front of the congregation?

3. Thousands of one on one encounters

This is what jumped out at me. This is a church of about 300 folks. And they have thousands of sin encounters??! Good night! Folks, run while the going is good. This church, as it is being presented by their pastor, is ripe for abuse.

4. The elders are treated quite a bit differently.

They get to go on a sabbatical to *shore up* their sin. That kind of beats being hog tied and run before the congregation. But, then again, they are your daddies and you are just a kid in need of punishment.

As we prepare to discuss another abusive church discipline situation, I believe it is imperative that we look at how the current system of church discipline is both described and employed. When relational aloofness is considered a 1 Corinthians 5 discipline situation, you can be sure that such a church is ripe for abusive situations. 

Comments

If *Simil Justus et Peccator;* Then What Should the Church Discipline? — 200 Comments

  1. @ Beakerj:
    Thank you. He is beginning to dwindle a bit. He is almost 87 with a gazillion serious health problems. So this is not unexpected.

  2. dee wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    Now, now, you sound a bit *aloof* to me.

    Aloof??? But, I was wearing my plastic Barbie(TM) smiley face!

  3. “Even church elders experience this day-to-day discipline, taking mandatory sabbaticals from time to time to shore up areas of sin and neglect”
    +++++++++++++++++

    Wes….. are you reading? good grief, man, how in the world do you think your church members received that information? that they’re constantly being observed for moments when they’re not perfect — upon threat of public humiliation. but the elders are rewarded for their moments with extra paid vacation time.

    of course they’ll never express themselves honestly to you. no one is permitted to have a critical spirit. makes your job much easier, doesn’t it. subjugating & silencing the masses does that for the one on top.

    you’ve created a culture where everyone has to walk on egg shells. They’re tired, exhausted from life. But yet have to be perfect at all times in your eyes and in the eyes of the culture you’ve created.

    and what about you? who, pray tell, is watching you constantly to make sure they catch you when you’re less than perfect? are you rewarded with extra paid vacation when that happens, too? or perhaps your moments are not all that important.

  4. I am sorry about your step-dad and the night in the ER. You be sure to take care of yourself with all these issues you have right now. We all care about you.

  5. Well, since justification was the do or die of the reformation theology wars, and since I have never been convinced by the strictly protestant view of imputed righteousness, I am not going to comment on this issue. But the question raised on this post is excellent. Why indeed?

    At the same time as to this other matter, if all sin is equal, to whom and in whose eyes is it equal? God? The sinner? The one sinned against? The corporate body of the church? The watching world? And if all sin is equal why can some of it be forgiven while at least one cannot be forgiven either in this life or the next?

  6. Dee, I hope you get some much needed rest tonight. You are an example to the “pastors” like Wes of caring for those who are weak and sacrificing your own comfort to do so. I doubt that Wes and the arrogant “pastors” like him care very much what anyone thinks, so you will, unfortunately, have many more posts to make about the abuses of the Leaders.

  7. dee wrote:

    He is almost 87 with a gazillion serious health problems. So this is not unexpected.

    That doesn’t make it any less difficult or exhausting.
    Blessings to and prayers for you.

  8. @ okrapod:

    “And if all sin is equal why can some of it be forgiven while at least one cannot be forgiven either in this life or the next?”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    and that one sin….. what in the world does it mean, anyway? ‘blasphemes the holy spirit’ — how impractical that the eternal deal breaker sin is so abstract. something’s wrong here….

    I don’t think anyone really knows what it means. and anyone who says they do, well, i’d say they overestimate themselves on everything.

  9. “sins that can be treated by church discipline should be outlined a priori”
    If that were the case then the “pastor” can be caught in his own net. We can’t have that now, can we.

  10. Nancy2 wrote:

    That doesn’t make it any less difficult or exhausting.
    Blessings to and prayers for you.

    Amen. Take the time with those most dear.

  11. @ okrapod:
    I have many of the same questions, and am probably a semi-Pelagian at heart (maybe more than semi-), since my views on “Original Sin” and eternal conscious torment have changed quite a bit over the last few years.

    That said, that quote from Colossians that begins with “He is the image of the invisible God…” is running through my mind as i type. Simply put, i believe God is the ultimate source of goodness, mercy, love and grace, but i also kinda think that “it takes a village” (in corporate prsyer, repentance and forgiveness), as well as in our individusl lives.

    Oh boy. Probably should not have started in on this!

  12. @ elastigirl:
    I agree – whatever it meant in the 1st and 2nd centuries is an open question. Have read numerous attempts at interpretation/explanation over the years, and they all seemed pretty contrived to me.

    It is an anxiety-provoking, highly confusing passage that makes me think it got in there via a post-2nd c. redaction, or a scribal error, or both. (My money’s on “both,” fwiw.)

  13. I’m a former jock–and former D3 football captain. So, the analogy I like is an elected captain for a team. Just because you were elected a captain of the team does not mean you are beyond accountability for your actions. Plus, your ability to lead is tied to your credibility as a player and person.

    It is true that you have certain leadership “authority,” but that does NOT mean you cannot be challenged by the coaches (or other players for that matter). I think that is a healthier leadership model than the parent-child model for pastors.

    I do agree that elders/pastors ought to be given the benefit of the doubt until clear evidence is presented–i.e. they still ought to be accountable, though. That is Scriptural (I Timothy 5:19). I think this is a corrective to the exposure pastors and elders have.

    Strangely, this is not followed–as was my experience–when a pastor is divorced or his/her spouse commits adultery/abandons the marriage. It is a weird double-standard I’ve seen in conservative evangelical circles.

  14. As I have said before and as you are also pointing out, many of these groups that (over)emphasize church discipline are quite silent on the need to also discipline church leaders that are out of line. It is much more dangerous IMO to have a church leader in willful sin/disobedience than a regular member or even an elder doing the same.

    Doesn’t the the little bit of yeast that leavens the whole lump of dough (I Cor 5:9) also apply to leaders? If so why do they neglect this aspect.

    Rarely if ever do you hear those promoting church discipline sharing this need for disciplining leaders. With that being the case sadly it shows that they are using church discipline more as for something to bully members into submission vs. church discipline being used for what Paul intended it for.

  15. ‘lovingly confronted’

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is possible after seeing how fundamentalist-evangelicals have persecuted trans people . . .

    nothing ‘loving’ about that, no

    absolutely not

  16.   __

    ” ‘Party’ Hats Required?”

      “During the years we were closely following Sovereign Grace Ministries, (ed. SGM) we frequently came across comments on the SGM Survivor blogs that discussed the harsh, sin sniffing environment in those churches. It seemed that a number of alleged members were encouraged to *observe* the sins in the lives of others and then report it to them and the pastors…” -Dee

    hmmm…

    Whew!

    (let me catch my breath!)

     The Right Reverend C.J. Mahaney (SGM’s original president and founder) exhibited the persuit of ‘cult’-like practices, such advanced isolation, close-nit neighborhood dwelling, home schooling pressured involvement, aversion for the means of medical science, phycology, legal or law enforcement evolvement, activly pursued the actives of sin-sniffing, member-monitoring, ‘getting the goods on each member’, limited outside relationships, shunning, pursuing issues of guilt and shame. Members were taught to associate with only members in good standing with the group, all else were avoided including brith-family-members not part of the group. Select group reading material , and geoup activities were strongly encouraged as well.

    —> NOTE: These activities were identified LONG before his ‘Stealth Trek’ ™  into Calvinism.  

      His proverted form of ‘Calvinism’ was to make his church family movement, ‘The Perfect Religious S.t.o.r.m.’ (r) . 

    ( S.T.O.R.M. = ‘Strategic Tyrannically Organized Religious Movement’ )

    The later ‘bribing’ of SBC Bapitist and Presbyterian religious officials was only the icing on the proverbial cake. 

    hmmm…

    Would you like KoolAid with dat?

    hahahahahaha

    tooooooooot!

    Sopy
    ___
    Comic relief: Three Dog Night: “Momma Told Me Not To Come…”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rKaQzQAlNn4

    🙂

  17. Apparently some elders/shepherds/deacons do get a paycheck from the church. Not, however, in my little church that runs around 200 in attendance on Sunday mornings. I can’t imagine that a church of 300 would be able to support very many bread winner and sole family provider males. But maybe the congregation is very generous with tithes and offerings. Lest they be church disciplined, you know.

  18. elastigirl wrote:

    and that one sin….. what in the world does it mean, anyway? ‘blasphemes the holy spirit’ — how impractical that the eternal deal breaker sin is so abstract. something’s wrong here…

    As I was taught, context is everything. In the Gospels, when that “unpardonable sin” is mentioned, it’s always in the context of the Pharisees attributing the power of Jesus’ miracles to satanic sources, despite all of Jesus’ teachings and good works to the contrary. IOW, the unpardonable sin is an utter rejection of Jesus and to assess Him and His works as being satanic. There was debate in my classes about whether or not that sin can even be committed anymore without having Jesus physically present to reject. But practicality speaking, almost all of us agreed on one thing – if you worry/are worried about having committed the unpardonable sin, you haven’t, because you still have a conscience.

  19. I am convinced that most Christians (not just Neo-Cals) but of all stripes, are concerned with control–the fact that God controls things provides an immense amount of comfort. It comforts people who make bad choices (“It was meant to be”), it minimizes personal responsibility. It’s the concept of “destiny” in other cultures.It aligns with karma. I think the control thing goes around and around and gets inserted into church government. Control freaks tend to get into positions of authority because they ARE control freaks. I wish churches would do personality tests (or psychiatric evaluations) for pastors before they are ordained as they do before missionaries are sent abroad. And then there should be retests/evaluations every 5 years.

  20. I just read Wes Pastor’s article. These are two examples he gives of his great parenting, the template upon which he models his pastoring of a flock:

    Telling his unruly kids when he got home from work, “Either you can adjust your own attitude, or I’ll adjust it for you.”

    “It reminds me of the gut-wrenching decision to cut off my college-aged son from all support in a desperate attempt to sober him to his responsibilities.” (IMO, most of us who have raised late-to-launch children realize that it is OUR failure that we did not identify our kids’ weak areas and work with them early on to cultivate discipline and a work ethic. Not Wes).

    And this is my favorite: “Even church elders experience this day-to-day discipline, taking mandatory sabbaticals from time to time to shore up areas of sin and neglect (1 Tim. 5:19-20)”. I have often posed the question, Do any disciplining churches address 1 Tim 5:19-20, the mandatory and immediate public rebuke of sinning church leaders? Up until now, the answer has been a universal “no,” but finally, we learn that Wes’ church does indeed hold pastors and elders to a higher standard…more paid vacations!

  21. Dee, I seldom pray anymore or tell others that I will pray for them. But this community is really weird, in the nicest way possible. I do pray for you (all of you) as you relay directly and indirectly your pains. Long good-byes are the worst. Rest.

  22. elastigirl wrote:

    what in the world does it mean, anyway? ‘blasphemes the holy spirit’ — how impractical that the eternal deal breaker sin is so abstract. something’s wrong here….
    I don’t think anyone really knows what it means. and anyone who says they do, well, i’d say they overestimate themselves on everything.

    It’s difficult not to accept the challenge!

    I think Eeyore has largely dealt with this (at 05.21) already, but I would add the following. Jesus told his disciples And when he [The Holy Spirit] comes, he will convince/convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me …. The Person who alone can convict us of our sin and need of reconciliation to God is the Spirit of God. The Pharisees in the passage about blaspheming the Spirit had already shown by their attitude to Jesus they would reject this ministry of the Spirit, they had inverted good and evil; so when the Spirit would seek to convict them of their sin they would automatically reject this. To reject the working of the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus is to reject him in his ministry to the human conscience as well.

    This means they would never be able to believe in Jesus, and hence would remain unreconciled to God. There must be a point where a man’s heart is so hardened that he will never repent and exercise faith, this resistance to the Spirit of God is therefore an eternal sin. What is not forgiven in this life remains unforgiven for all eternity. The only means God uses to bring us to faith is rejected for all time.

    In the end, the blasphemy of the Spirit is simply to persist in unbelief; to invert right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error. It is to say in your heart ‘I will not accept the Spirit of truth; I don’t see any need to be put right with God, and I reject any idea of being judged’.

  23. Godith wrote:

    I am convinced that most Christians (not just Neo-Cals) but of all stripes, are concerned with control–the fact that God controls things provides an immense amount of comfort. It comforts people who make bad choices (“It was meant to be”), it minimizes personal responsibility. It’s the concept of “destiny” in other cultures.It aligns with karma.

    “In’shal’lah…”

  24. “church elders …… mandatory sabbaticals” in Williston, Vermont? Where do they go for these “sabbaticals”? My husband is from Maine, so I’ve been all over that area of the country. We’ve taken the ferry from Keesville, NY across to Burlinton, VT, then Route 2 right through Williston on route to western Maine several times. There’s not much going on there. Even Burlington isn’t very big.
    I wonder if these “sabbaticals” are just excuses for the elders to get out of boring Williston for a while on somebody else’s dime.
    Is Wes without spot or blemish? Hah, who disciplines him? Does he take sabbaticals, or does he not need them?

  25. elastigirl wrote:

    what in the world does it mean, anyway? ‘blasphemes the holy spirit’

    Pete Briscoe once answered this in the most succinct way possible.

    “If it has ever concerned you that you might have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, that means you haven’t.”

  26. Mae wrote:

    No wonder folks in Vermont don’t go to church.

    And that is the most succinct summation of this post I could imagine!!

  27. Godith wrote:

    I think the control thing goes around and around and gets inserted into church government. Control freaks tend to get into positions of authority because they ARE control freaks.

    Ther have been a number of studies which indicate that you are correct. Where else could a 26 year old kid become a pastor and presume to speak for God as well as “be in authority” over women and men far more wise and thoughtful than he is?

  28. @ marquis:
    This is a difficult question. Usually not. However, in some churches, elders are the pastors. It’s a semantics game.

    However, elders are considered above the congregation in many churches. My guess this church is one of those. The elders get time off to deal with their sins. Not so for the lowly congregants who are the recipients of thousands of instances of discipline.

  29. @ Ken:

    Yes indeed. The unforgivable sin (blasphemy against the Spirit) in the understanding of one christian faith tradition, if I understand correctly, is final impenitence. There is a statement by JP II on this. That is, to die while rejecting Christ. What makes it unforgivable, one author explained, is that the person has rejected the very means of salvation and has died in that state. One cannot be forgiven if one rejects forgiveness in this life.

    Which is pretty much what you said I think.

  30. Divorce Minister wrote:

    Strangely, this is not followed–as was my experience–when a pastor is divorced or his/her spouse commits adultery/abandons the marriage. It is a weird double-standard I’ve seen in conservative evangelical circles.

    I absolutely agree with you. It is crystal clear in Scripture that divorce for adultery allowed. However, when that happens to a pastor whose wife is the one who strayed, the pastor often loses his job. This makes no sense to me.

  31. So many of you have offered such kind prayers and thoughts. I believe that my stepfather may be *sundowning.* Because he has so many health problems, there is always a fear that he is having a stroke, heart attack, etc. so he has to be checked out which takes most of the night.

    I am going to try to intervene the next time this happens and see if I can help my mom not to call the ambulance but allow me to spend some time seeing if I can help her to wait it through. However, i will talk with his doctors.

  32. Many years ago when I was a teenager, a dear sweet saint of the Lord in the church I attended stood up to say something in a Wednesday night service. She wanted the church’s forgiveness for not praying for the members of the church as she should have. That brought the whole service to prayer. Instead of the church disciplining her, which they never would have, she confessed what she thought she was doing wrong. I would rather see somebody apologize in church for their behavior like this sweet lady, than the church discipline members.

  33. @ Nancy2:

    So, my church is in a YRR takeover. But I’m not the type to go gently into that good night. Prayers?

    On Sunday I found out three of our pastors went on a trip to Colorado to be silent and pray. I guess at only 400 feet above sea level, God can’t hear us in Texas?

  34.   __

    “501(c)3 Religious Organizations (i.e. Certain Christian Churches) Have NOW Become ‘Environmental Behavior Control Outlets’ ™ ?” 

    hmmm…

      These ‘ministry marvels’ ™ are not ‘acting’ as pastors, they are acting as judges. They expect to find what THEY classify as ‘sin’, THEY aparrenly lõõk for it until THEY do. 

    (They are formlly trained that this is part of their job description?)

    What?

    Are we having ‘fun’ yet?

    Stop your bit_ch’in folks, you pay through the nose for these ‘services’, Shud-Up N’ like it!

    (grin)

    hahahahahaha

    Sopy

  35. Stan wrote:

    I guess at only 400 feet above sea level, God can’t hear us in Texas?

    They seem to forget or ignore the fact that the Sea of Galilee is almost 700 ft. below sea level???

  36. “On Sunday I found out three of our pastors went on a trip to Colorado to be silent and pray. I guess at only 400 feet above sea level, God can’t hear us in Texas?”

    I take it they went to the mountainous part of Colorado, instead of the flat eastern part? Something about those Rockies…

  37. @ Ken:
    Ken, i am curious as to how you arrived at this conclusion. Do you have historical sources for this interpretation, have you heard it from the pulpit, ismit your own opinion, or…???

    I am not asking this to be unkind; i truly am curious. Espevially seeing as there really are no other references in the Gospels regarding this – at least, none that come to mind. Nor can i think of anything in the Pauline epistles that says this…

  38. marquis wrote:

    Do elders and deacons really draw a paycheck from the churches they are,elders at???

    In Sovereign Grace Churches (formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries) the elders and pastors and sometimes even deacons are all hired staff. They typically don’t have lay elders.

    I imagine in other churches this also happens. Also, typically the Sr. pastor is one of the elders.

    As people have shared before, it is hard to always speak your conscience or dissent when your paycheck comes from the same group. If you question too much and you are one of the underlings I am sure it targets you to be fired.

  39. Godith wrote:

    I am convinced that most Christians (not just Neo-Cals) but of all stripes, are concerned with control–the fact that God controls things provides an immense amount of comfort. It comforts people who make bad choices (“It was meant to be”), it minimizes personal responsibility. It’s the concept of “destiny” in other cultures.It aligns with karma. I think the control thing goes around and around and gets inserted into church government. Control freaks tend to get into positions of authority because they ARE control freaks.

    Godith

    What is baffling with Calvinists is that they CLAIM to believe God is so in control but their actions such as being discussed here seem to contradict this. Why so intensely apply church “discipline” if God is in control to the level they claim to believe.

  40. @ dee:
    I hope this can be resolved, a little, at leadt – the stress of going to the ER has to be immense, for him, your mom, and for you.

    Thinking of you, and of your family, today…

  41. What areas of sin and neglect does a leader need to have to merit a sabbatical? I guess that list is as vague as the list of sins that merit church discipline for mere sheep. But I really need a sabbatical, and would be willing to entertain a certain level of personal mischief, if the reward was paid vacation time.

    Sadly, my bosses at my secular corporate workplace do not agree.

  42. Stan wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    So, my church is in a YRR takeover. But I’m not the type to go gently into that good night. Prayers?
    On Sunday I found out three of our pastors went on a trip to Colorado to be silent and pray. I guess at only 400 feet above sea level, God can’t hear us in Texas?

    I am in Texas and often wonder if God hears us too….but I am in East Texas and as a friend of mine says, ” we’re in the most God-forsaken part.” ( And after I lived through Rita and then Ike I wonder from time to time….we’re in Orange Co.)

  43. numo wrote:

    Ken, i am curious as to how you arrived at this conclusion. Do you have historical sources for this interpretation, have you heard it from the pulpit, ismit your own opinion, or…???

    Fair question, numo. The basic idea comes from sermons and notes I made on them from Dick Lucas in London (I won’t say how long ago!) which was the first time I had ever heard of it. Add to this the Layman’s Commentary on the Holy Spirit at the back of my Logos study bible (ASV) – charismatic on the whole, but actually rather good and useful, and generally having read the text and mulled it over over the years. I probably did a bible study on it at some time, but this would up to a point have been second-hand Dick Lucas and in answer to someone worrying they had committed it.

    I would never maintain how I see it is the last word or everything there is to say on the subject. I think there is more to it than simply persistent unbelief. But it does make sense, and in particular explains how men can blaspheme the Son (hardly uncommon on some secular forums I have frequented, and Saul to Paul, anyone), but cannot be forgiven for blaspheming the Spirit.

    Do you find it interesting that the one sin the world around won’t recognise as being sin is unbelief?

    In the context of the Strange Fire conference, I think the expression ‘blaspheming the Spirit’ was banded around rather loosely by both sides of the debate. Men can resist the Spirit, and as Christians we can grieve or quench him, but this it hardly comparable to outright rejection of him when revealing Jesus in all his goodness and us in all our badness.

    It’s a sin that stops people becoming Christians in the first place, not one they may commit without knowing it. The only way I could see a believer commiting this sin would be deliberate, conscious apostacy, renouncing the faith; and arguing about whether this is even possible is to go off at a tangent to the thread.

  44. Steve240 wrote:

    What is baffling with Calvinists is that they CLAIM to believe God is so in control but their actions such as being discussed here seem to contradict this. Why so intensely apply church “discipline” if God is in control to the level they claim to believe.

    Because they’re being like their God.
    Omnipotent control freaks, micromanaging everything.
    Holding the Whip because God just Holds the Biggest Whip of all. And USES it.

  45. NJ wrote:

    “On Sunday I found out three of our pastors went on a trip to Colorado to be silent and pray. I guess at only 400 feet above sea level, God can’t hear us in Texas?”

    I take it they went to the mountainous part of Colorado, instead of the flat eastern part? Something about those Rockies…

    Bit early in the year for Vail….

  46. dee wrote:

    I absolutely agree with you. It is crystal clear in Scripture that divorce for adultery allowed. However, when that happens to a pastor whose wife is the one who strayed, the pastor often loses his job. This makes no sense to me.

    Because Pastors have to be Super-Spiritual Perfect. All the time.

  47. dee wrote:

    @ Christiane:
    My guess: If they can tell us of *thousands* of instances of discipline, there is little love in that church.

    But everyone knows Who Holds the Whip (and who can Feel the Whip at any time).

  48. dee wrote:

    However, elders are considered above the congregation in many churches. My guess this church is one of those. The elders get time off to deal with their sins. Not so for the lowly congregants who are the recipients of thousands of instances of discipline.

    Again, Hold the Whip or Feel the Whip, nothing in-between.

    (And the only way to NOT Feel the Whip is to be the One Holding the Whip.)

  49. elastigirl wrote:

    and that one sin….. what in the world does it mean, anyway? ‘blasphemes the holy spirit’ — how impractical that the eternal deal breaker sin is so abstract. something’s wrong here….

    All too often, the de facto definition of “The Unpardonable Sin” is “Whatever YOU do that *I* don’t!” (“HAW! HAW! HAW!” optional.)

  50. @ NJ:

    I only heard Colorado. I would assume it was at a tourist friendly destination. All of Colorado is higher than the coastal plains of Texas, though.

    TGC does emphasize pastor/staff/elder retreats. And I think they can and do become free paid vacations. I assure you all that there are silent places in Texas.

  51. Stan wrote:

    On Sunday I found out three of our pastors went on a trip to Colorado to be silent and pray.

    I wonder if these pastors took their wives with them. It’s a great time of year to go sightseeing, and Colorado shares part of the Grand Canyon. If the wives didn’t go …….. Well, rifle season is open on deer, elk, and black bear………

  52. Dee, you have shown such patience juggling the blog and family health issues. When you hit our age, staying up all night is a killer! Thank you for hanging in there and remember to take care of your own health! Sometimes it is very hard being the daughter who is caught between her needs and elderly parental needs. (Sometimes a parents “needs” are actually “wants” that can wear the family out). It is OK to get outside help! :-).
    You and Deb provide an important service to your readers and I wish there were a way to better express our appreciation. Xo Ann

  53. Godith wrote:

    I wish churches would do personality tests (or psychiatric evaluations) for pastors before they are ordained as they do before missionaries are sent abroad.

    Yes, I completely agree. If your church is searching for a new pastor ask them to do a full psych evaluation, specifically looking for narcissism. If they are unwilling, offer to pay for it, if they refuse then you are among a clueless bunch ripe for abuse.

  54. @ Bill M:
    Another strategy is to get them talking about their collection of books outside the interview. It is one thing to read real scholars with differing views but many of these guys think the likes of Piper, McArthur and Mohler as serious scholars.

  55. Even church elders experience this day-to-day discipline, taking mandatory sabbaticals from time to time to shore up areas of sin and neglect.

    Well, if we suppose for a moment that these sabbaticals are not paid jollies but, on the contrary, are defined periods in which they step down from formal eldership to do the same as any other church member, then I would have little real problem with them.

    It’s the phrase Even church elders (emphasis added) that bothers me. Nobody in any kind of church office is to rule by dictat, but by example in word and deed. This is not something Jesus suggests leaders try as an alternative because it works in Japan or wherever: it is something Jesus emphatically commands. (The eldership / diaconate / presbytery / [who cares what else] that hands down rules and instructions rather than demonstrating them is usurping the church and living in open sinful rebellion.)

    Better would be: Church elders, in particular, are aware of their responsibility to demonstrate humility when being challenged, a teachable spirit when corrected (even unfairly) and a willingness to “wash the feet of the saints” – that is, to do the lowly and thankless tasks that no-one in a hierarchy would want to do”.

  56. “relational aloofness, spotty attendance, a critical spirit”

    None of these are sins as listed in the Bible. Their exercise of church discipline rests upon these pastors placing themselves in God’s stead, to define “sin” as suits their own purposes, which is idolatrous.

    In my own case of spiritual abuse, one of the pastor’s wife’s accusations against me was that she got “bad vibes” from me. That where their interpretation of discipline leads: undefined accusations can be made against any church member for supposed sins that have no relationship to Scriptural definitions, and only exist in the pastor’s mind. Or that of his wife.

  57. dee wrote:

    I absolutely agree with you. It is crystal clear in Scripture that divorce for adultery allowed. However, when that happens to a pastor whose wife is the one who strayed, the pastor often loses his job. This makes no sense to me.

    Well if nothing else many times a pastor’s wife helping the church etc. is a part of the pastor’s job even when she typically isn’t on the payroll. Usually there are certain expectations that pastor’s wife participate.

    Thus one explanation for the pastor losing his job due to his wife’s adultery.

  58. Stan wrote:

    TGC does emphasize pastor/staff/elder retreats. And I think they can and do become free paid vacations. I assure you all that there are silent places in Texas.

    It’s called “junkets”. Take a free vacation (usually with champagne-and-caviar expenses) on the company’s dime.

  59. Steve240 wrote:

    Well if nothing else many times a pastor’s wife helping the church etc. is a part of the pastor’s job even when she typically isn’t on the payroll. Usually there are certain expectations that pastor’s wife participate.

    It’s called a “twofer”.
    Two bodies working for the price of one.
    Or (if you’re a Mega) two incomes paying for the Furtick Mansion.

  60. rike wrote:

    In my own case of spiritual abuse, one of the pastor’s wife’s accusations against me was that she got “bad vibes” from me.

    Sounds Shirley MacLaine country to me.

  61. Nancy2 wrote:

    I wonder if these pastors took their wives with them. It’s a great time of year to go sightseeing, and Colorado shares part of the Grand Canyon. If the wives didn’t go…

    There’s always the teenage Handmaids, Interns, and Rentboys.

  62. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    HUG, I knew a couple at my church in the 1990s who were devoted Ezzo followers. They had a home business making and selling “rods” like this. They called their version the whacker .

  63. Pingback: Linkathon! » PhoenixPreacher | PhoenixPreacher UNITED STATES

  64. I have no problem with church discipline. So long as it goes as follows:

    Jesus specifically said it was not for a select group of self-appointed leaders to arbitrate and administer, He said it was for the whole church body to decide. So long as the body as a whole decides matters, with those calling themselves authorities being considered neither greater nor lesser than anyone else in the process, fine.

    There is no mention in the entire New Testament of a single CEO-type figure in the church, and “pastor”, mentioned an entire total of once in the singular in the NT, and then only in a list of gifts (not offices), being not really defined, except as a humble, vaguely demeaning term for servant (as shepherds were considered at that time in that place, ritually unclean, blue collar, expendable, willing to die for mere livestock), anyone who takes upon themselves the title of “pastor” and imbues with with some kind of overarching father/leader/enforcer role as opposed to humble, behind-the-scenes thankless servant, is as a point of fact extremely dangerous to the church body as a whole. Therefore, as there is the danger of such a person leading the whole congregation into deep sin and abuse, they should be the first one to be severely disciplined by the body as whole, including public censure up to expulsion unless they repent of their delusions.

    Now that’s true church discipline.

  65. Stan wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Texans do vacation in cold climate places like Vail in the summer. 105 degrees can get on your nerves.

    It’s why we went to Scotland….we stepped off the plane from Houston where it was 95F to 45F in Edinburgh….we started to look for Christmas trees….

  66. By the standard I stated above, Wes Pastor and perhaps every member of the Gospel Coalition who does not specifically disavow the referenced posting are the very people who should be disciplined and cast out from the church for the destruction of their flesh and the saving of their souls, yet welcomed back when their delusions subside and they come to see themselves as humble members of a larger body, at which Jesus and Him alone is the head.

  67. @ Ken:
    Thanks for your reply. From what i can gather, this one verse has been interpreted in many different ways over many centuries.

  68. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    I wonder if these pastors took their wives with them. It’s a great time of year to go sightseeing, and Colorado shares part of the Grand Canyon. If the wives didn’t go…
    There’s always the teenage Handmaids, Interns, and Rentboys.

    Man, you don’t know how true this post actually is….

  69. K.D. wrote:

    It’s why we went to Scotland….we stepped off the plane from Houston where it was 95F to 45F in Edinburgh….we started to look for Christmas trees….

    … just before it started raining. It was still raining when we left…

    #lovescotland!!!

  70. In my opinion, the TGC/9M/A29/SGM/etc. crowd has to be hyper-vigilant on sin, since it speaks to their core beliefs. In their theology the church exists for the purification of the believer; not as a “hospital for sinners” but as a “reformed school for truants.” Therefore, Luther’s statement of “simil iustus et peccator” only reminds them of how great their task is…so many sinners, so little time.

    With the a priori belief that the church, and by default the church’s leaders who are called by God, has a Biblical mandate to purify its members, they have no choice but to be constantly on the look out for sin wherever they can find it. Since the leaders cannot be everywhere at once, they have to ‘deputize’ their most loyal followers to assist them in their task. These deputized followers also have their own system of assistants (i.e., informants) who help root out the evil in their midst. The final result is a system of mistrust and suspicion, where people are constantly monitoring and reporting each other for any sign of subversion.

  71. Burwell Stark wrote:

    In my opinion, the TGC/9M/A29/SGM/etc. crowd has to be hyper-vigilant on sin, since it speaks to their core beliefs. In their theology the church exists for the purification of the believer; not as a “hospital for sinners” but as a “reformed school for truants.” Therefore, Luther’s statement of “simil iustus et peccator” only reminds them of how great their task is…so many sinners, so little time.
    With the a priori belief that the church, and by default the church’s leaders who are called by God, has a Biblical mandate to purify its members, they have no choice but to be constantly on the look out for sin wherever they can find it. Since the leaders cannot be everywhere at once, they have to ‘deputize’ their most loyal followers to assist them in their task. These deputized followers also have their own system of assistants (i.e., informants) who help root out the evil in their midst. The final result is a system of mistrust and suspicion, where people are constantly monitoring and reporting each other for any sign of subversion.

    Sounds exactly like C.S. Lewis’s description of hell in the Screwtape Letters.

  72. @ Law Prof:

    Ha. As I was writing that paragraph I kept thinking of the system implemented by Lenin/Trotsky and perfected by Stalin, but we may be referring to the same thing.

    How sad that either example (Russian Revolution or Screwtape Letters) resembles and/or calls to mind a subset of the American Church.

  73. Law Prof wrote:

    I have no problem with church discipline. So long as it goes as follows:
    Jesus specifically said it was not for a select group of self-appointed leaders to arbitrate and administer, He said it was for the whole church body to decide. So long as the body as a whole decides matters, with those calling themselves authorities being considered neither greater nor lesser than anyone else in the process, fine.

    The story of the woman taken in adultery comes to mind here…and isn’t it interesting that when Jesus gave them the command to “cast the first stone,” he added this condition: “Let he who is without sin…”

    And He also said a lot about judging in the Sermon on the Mount.

    Yes, we are to use good judgment; no, we are not to call good what God calls sin. But for heaven’s sake, and yes I mean that, do we not come alongside one another and walk together to Christ, instead of disciplining others–taking on ourselves a job that does not belong to us? Let God be the judge when we confess our sins one to another…and when we hear the confession of another, let’s put down our rocks, and use our hands to help the one who is just like us–a sinner.

    These stories are bewildering. If this is what is called Christianity, I don’t blame people for despising it. I would have–I believe that now. I must have been living under a rock–I had NO IDEA all of this was going on…but now I have a greater understanding of the Nones and the Dones.

  74.   __

    “Sabbatical This?”

    hmmm…

    Law Prof,

    …they (SGM/SGC) still continue to pay um even when they are arrested in a prostitution sting?

    What?!?

    …imagine dat?

    ‘Occupational hazard’ (r), huh?

    (grin)

    hahahahahaha

    Sopy

  75. @ Steve240:

    Love your comment Steve. It begs the question…when is CJ Mahaney or Mark Driscoll going to be disciplined? Is Mark Dever going to be disciplined for letting CJ Mahaney flee CLC and take shelter at CHBC?

  76. I have thought about this a great deal and I cannot see any reason for church discipline at all. If people are breaking laws (pedophilia, embezzling, domestic violence, etc) then the police should be called to arrest them and the criminal justice system should ‘discipline’ them.

    People are sinning but not breaking the law? Well, where should sinners be if not in church? I don’t think someone engaged in ongoing sinful behavior should be on the church board or teach Sunday School but as long as they don’t take silence for tacit approval I can’t see the problem.

    Theological issues? You wouldn’t have someone preach or teach if their theology differed from the denomination’s either. However, I can’t see kicking someone out of church.

    Thinking about my own church experience, we had two people begin an affair and then divorce their spouses and marry. They left the church – they didn’t want to attend with their exes; there was no need for discipline. Everyone was very sad. There were occasional people who disagreed about theology. It was their choice to stay or leave. We had difficult people. We had one person who habitually misinterpreted things she saw and then gossiped about it. One man used to get mad over something trivial and go attend another church until he got mad there and came back to ours. We had their numbers so to speak. No one engaged with them when they wanted to gossip or fuss. We were kind.

    Maybe I am missing something. What purpose does kicking people out of church and shunning them serve?

  77. Eagle wrote:

    @ Steve240:

    Love your comment Steve. It begs the question…when is CJ Mahaney or Mark Driscoll going to be disciplined? Is Mark Dever going to be disciplined for letting CJ Mahaney flee CLC and take shelter at CHBC?

    “All animals are Equal
    BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS!”
    — G.Orwell, Animal Farm

  78. Marsha wrote:

    Maybe I am missing something. What purpose does kicking people out of church and shunning them serve?

    Make an Example of one and a hundred will fall right into line.

  79. Law Prof wrote:

    Burwell Stark wrote:

    In my opinion, the TGC/9M/A29/SGM/etc. crowd has to be hyper-vigilant on sin, since it speaks to their core beliefs. In their theology the church exists for the purification of the believer; not as a “hospital for sinners” but as a “reformed school for truants.” Therefore, Luther’s statement of “simil iustus et peccator” only reminds them of how great their task is…so many sinners, so little time.
    With the a priori belief that the church, and by default the church’s leaders who are called by God, has a Biblical mandate to purify its members, they have no choice but to be constantly on the look out for sin wherever they can find it. Since the leaders cannot be everywhere at once, they have to ‘deputize’ their most loyal followers to assist them in their task. These deputized followers also have their own system of assistants (i.e., informants) who help root out the evil in their midst. The final result is a system of mistrust and suspicion, where people are constantly monitoring and reporting each other for any sign of subversion.

    Sounds exactly like C.S. Lewis’s description of hell in the Screwtape Letters.

    “On the surface, manners are normally suave. Rudeness to one’s superiors would obviously be suicidal: rudeness to one’s equals might put them on their guard before you were ready to spring your mine. For of course ‘Dog eat dog’ is the principle of the whole organisation… Over all this their good manners, their expressions of grave respect, their “tributes” to one another’s invaluable services form a thin crust. Every now and then it gets punctured, and the scalding lava of their hatred spurts out.”
    — C.S. Lewis, preface to The Screwtape Letters

  80. @ Marsha:
    I had never heard of “church discipline” until I started reading this blog and its links. Then you realize how widespread it is. Church was a place you attended…or not. I only heard of shunning being practiced by the Hutterites that live in our area. And I don’t think it’s an Evangelical affectation per se. I’ve asked my wife about her church experience (Pentecostal Assemblies of God) and a lot of the ideologies reported on here are foreign to her as well. Wes Pastor’s church sounds like a horrible place to be and his family doesn’t sound much better (if he’s telling the truth).
    The problem appears to be that there has grown to be a misunderstanding of the pastor’s role. The pastor is a leader, sure but is also a servant as well. Didn’t Jesus wash the feet of his disciples? I’ve never liked the concept that a congregation is nothing more than a dumb herd of animals. A pastor should engage and be engaged but his word is only an interpretation, not the word of God.

  81. @ Bill M:
    Some denominations, such as the Episcopalians, do psych evaluations as part of the discernment process, well before seminary. I believe that spouses also get interviewed at some point, to make sure they have a clear idea of the life of a clergy spouse. These practices may not screen out all potential problems, but they do instill a respect for legitimate care of mental health.

  82. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    It’s called “junkets”. Take a free vacation (usually with champagne-and-caviar expenses) on the company’s dime.

    That’s a fairly distressing thought. The retreats I know about, in my mainline denomination, are not luxurious. Lodging and food are deliberately simple. Emphasis is on quiet time, fellowship, worship, and learning. I hope retreat-junkets are rare and vanishing.

  83. Burwell Stark wrote:

    they have no choice but to be constantly on the look out for sin wherever they can find it. Since the leaders cannot be everywhere at once, they have to ‘deputize’ their most loyal followers to assist them in their task. These deputized followers also have their own system of assistants (i.e., informants) who help root out the evil in their midst. The final result is a system of mistrust and suspicion, where people are constantly monitoring and reporting each other for any sign of subversion.

    You’ve taken me back to the time I visited a communal apartment in Leningrad… before it was renamed St. Petersburg. Yikes.

  84. Jack wrote:

    I had never heard of “church discipline” until I started reading this blog and its links. Then you realize how widespread it is. Church was a place you attended…or not.

    Long ago I was youth representative to a planning committee at a mainline church. We wanted to send a survey, but postage would be costly if we mailed it to everyone on the standard mailing list. That list, you see, included many people who had not attended the church in years.

    I suggested that the church update the mailing list by dropping people who had not attended in, say, five or ten years.

    The committee chair said we could not thin the list based on attendance, because that would have been an act of church discipline. “We don’t see these people on Sundays,” he said, “but we don’t know what our church means to them.” So gentle, so generous.

  85. dee wrote:

    So many of you have offered such kind prayers and thoughts. I believe that my stepfather may be *sundowning.*

    Sorry to hear about your stepfather. At that age, things can be difficult. My Mom died about a year and a half ago, 88.

    Praying for you.

  86. numo wrote:

    @ okrapod:
    I have many of the same questions, and am probably a semi-Pelagian at heart (maybe more than semi-), since my views on “Original Sin” and eternal conscious torment have changed quite a bit over the last few years.

    I believe we have talked about a couple of these things before. I am less than convinced of some of the tenets that modern reformed theology considers central. It is odd to me, if imputed righteousness is central to this theology, how come it is nowhere simply laid out in the Bible? How come now we have to understand that it is inferred by certain passages?

  87. dee wrote:

    @ Christiane:
    My guess: If they can tell us of *thousands* of instances of discipline, there is little love in that church.

    This is the thing that jumps out to me. “Thousands” of instances where it is necessary to bring discipline to a church of 300 over a few years? I don’t think they would have a lot of time to love and serve the members of the church or of the community!

  88. @ Friend:
    Seminarians are also required to take psych course, in order to get some of the basics down, and also so that they know when it’s a good idea to refer people to psych professionals for help. (True in my part of the Lutheran world as well.)

  89. @ Will M:
    I am not cap-R Reformed, actually, and don’t know much about the various Reformed perspectives on this. I know *something* (not a huge lot) about Luther and subsequent Lutheran interpretations, but I disagree to a certain degree. In that sense, I’d probably be better off in a high-ish CofE church than in any Lutheran congregation.

  90.   __

    “So Many Stupid Sinners, So Little Time?”

    huh?

      “In my opinion, the TGC/9M/A29/SGM/etc. crowd has to be hyper-vigilant on sin, since it speaks to their ‘core beliefs’ ™ . 

      In their theology the church exists for the purification of the believer; not as a ‘hospital for sinners’ but as a ‘reformed school for truants (c).’

      Therefore, Luther’s statement of ‘simil iustus et peccator’ only reminds them of how great their task is.

    …So Many Sinners, So Little Time.

      With the a priori belief that the church, and by ‘default’ the church’s leaders (who are called by their god) have a Biblical mandate to purify its members, they have no choice but to be constantly on the lõõk out for ‘$in’ wherever they can find it. Since the leaders cannot be everywhere at once, they have to ‘deputize’ their most loyal followers to assist them in their daunting task,

      These ‘deputized’ followers also have their own system of assistants (i.e., informants) who help root out the ‘evil’ (r)  in their midst. 

      The final result is a system of mistrust and suspicion, where people are constantly monitoring and reporting each other for any sign of subversion.” -Burwell Stark (adapted)

    ***

    —> If you first don’t succeed, try, try, try, again, huh?

    (sadface)

    “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many; because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold…” – Jesus

    Skreeeeeeeeeeetch!

    R We ‘There’ Yet?

    (mucho tears)

    Sopy
    __
    Inspirational relief: Emilia Zamuner: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow?”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nmCkFrDsfL8

    🙂

  91. lydia wrote:

    Another strategy is to get them talking about their collection of books outside the interview

    Good point, I don’t do facebook but others have reported the “pastor” at my ex church posts regularly what he is reading. Finding out who informs him and who he looks up to helped cement my suspicions. These “men” don’t follow Jesus, they follow other men while building their own fiefdoms.

  92. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    It’s why we went to Scotland….we stepped off the plane from Houston where it was 95F to 45F in Edinburgh….we started to look for Christmas trees….
    … just before it started raining. It was still raining when we left…
    #lovescotland!!!

    And yes, it rained everyday we were there….

    #welovedscotland!

  93. @ Burwell Stark:
    This is an outstanding summary, IMO, and despite being immersed in this culture, I could not express it the way that you have here. Thank you.

  94. Marsha wrote:

    Maybe I am missing something. What purpose does kicking people out of church and shunning them serve?

    Well, if I may, it only makes people feel important and/or powerful from what I can tell. It doesn’t help bring anyone to maturity that I have seen.

  95. When I was in SWBTS, I was accepted without a psyche eval, took no psychology classes, all my psychology classes were taken my undergrad classes from Dr Bost.

    SWBTS now teaches something called mentoring? A required course…that just sounds wrong, so many of those guys I wouldn’t want to mentor a dog…

  96. @ Marsha:

    This post did get me thinking. The type of church discipline advocated by 9Marks and Gospel Coalition is usually sold as the way for a church to address the adultery from yours. In practice, it seems to be for “sinfully craving answers”, or giving off bad vibes, or a wife jokingly telling her husband to hush, or idolizing any number of things. It’s difficult to track down specific things that warrant church discipline, and here it is. Dee – have you found any other articles like this?

    Why? Who knows?

  97. Burwell Stark wrote:

    n my opinion, the TGC/9M/A29/SGM/etc. crowd has to be hyper-vigilant on sin, since it speaks to their core beliefs. In their theology the church exists for the purification of the believer; not as a “hospital for sinners” but as a “reformed school for truants.” Therefore, Luther’s statement of “simil iustus et peccator” only reminds them of how great their task is…so many sinners, so little time.

    But this seems an impossible strategy if the redeemed remain totally depraved and unable.

  98. lydia wrote:

    But this seems an impossible strategy if the redeemed remain totally depraved and unable.

    I guess dealing with the unending sin of the flock is enough to require an annual sabbatical!

  99.   __

    “Indwelling Kooodes ™ ?” [1]

    hmmm…

    “Then da Calvinesta answered and said, Behold, these Christians, they are all retched and vile…”
    __
    [1] kooodė ™ ; a Calvinesta term for an imagined germ, or social repellent that must be erratacated at all cost.

  100. I’m so sorry to hear about your father-in-law. You and your family are in my prayers.

  101. Dee, I don’t know where you’re at on your Alzheimer’s journey, but if it gets to be too overwhelming, look at getting some home healthcare in for a few hours every day or a few days a week. It wasn’t cheap, but it proved to be a real blessing so my brother could get a few hours away just to do stuff around the house or even take a nap. We were able to keep my father at home until his final illness (when he lost the ability to swallow 🙁 ). My only wish is that we’d done it sooner.

  102. Friend wrote:

    Some denominations, such as the Episcopalians, do psych evaluations as part of the discernment process

    I have a friend that is in the Eastern Orthodox and according to him they have been doing them for decades. As word gets out I think well meaning congregations will get wise on this. Denominations that maintain authoritarian structure will remain clueless.

  103. I know this is a weird place to plop a prayer request, but I am an ex member of Acts 29 churches, and I have scheduled a reconciliation meeting with someone and an elder. I have written about my situation on here before. If you guys get a chance, I would appreciate the prayers. I do struggle with hurt from the situation still, as it seemed to be a popularity thing more than anything, which seems to be the way things go in these circles.

  104. Burwell Stark wrote:

    With the a priori belief that the church, and by default the church’s leaders who are called by God, has a Biblical mandate to purify its members, they have no choice but to be constantly on the look out for sin wherever they can find it.

    And if their theology of justification/ sanctification says that basically you can’t get there from here, what choice is there for dealing with ‘sin’ except the church authorities and peer pressure? If their theology of the atonement does not include that God conquers sin but only that He has a method for hiding it from Himself so He can keep from destroying us in his anger-then who does that leave to deal with human sin but the elders and their minions–somebody has to do it.

  105. Bridget wrote:

    Marsha wrote:
    Maybe I am missing something. What purpose does kicking people out of church and shunning them serve?
    Well, if I may, it only makes people feel important and/or powerful from what I can tell. It doesn’t help bring anyone to maturity that I have seen.

    From what I’ve observed of church discipline,it was utilised to get rid of, or quiet people, who were allegedly deemed: rebellious, contentious, disrespectful to the leadership. In reality the leadership was getting rid of any opposition to their, so called, authority.
    I have also noticed people of the flock, who are engaged in sexual immorality, rarely keep attending church, nor do they become members. They just drift off, as if they discipline themselves.
    Have also noticed the secret sinners engaged in sexual affairs, are often in church leadership. Behavior often goes on for years because no one dares examine pastors/elders too closely.

  106. Marsha wrote:

    Maybe I am missing something. What purpose does kicking people out of church and shunning them serve?

    Neither the expression church discipline nor shun appear in any version of the NT I own (15, I believe!).

    It strikes me there is much confusion here. In 1 Cor 5 there is the case of gross immorality that Paul deals with by wanting the guilty party excluded from the church. The person is to be removed. I’ve almost never heard of this happening in any church in the UK.

    He then goes on to instruct the Corinthians ‘not to associate with’ a person claiming to be a believer if they are guilty of ‘immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber’. I assume this is where the idea of ‘shunning’ comes from, but not having normal fellowship with such believers for example over a meal is not the same thing as being rude, rejecting them, or being nasty by treating them as though they were dead etc. And they don’t need handing over to Satan for such things.

    The idea behind both scenarios is to get the sinning believer to mend their ways, or if they won’t to keep a minimum level of purity of conduct within the church. ‘Drive out the wicked person from among you’. Shunning as I’ve heard described by commenters here seems to me to be totally counterproductive, and taking the apostle’s words to an illegitimate extreme. Again, I’ve almost never seen this lived out in my neck of the woods, the modern church usually wanting to be seen as ‘tolerant’ like the society around it.

    I suppose you could argue that believers who stop attending churches where the pastor wants their money to keep himself in clover (greed), or leaves his wife for someone else (immorality), or verbally abuses them or anyone else for asking legitimate questions (reviler) are living it out, in that the apostle tells us not to fellowship with such people, and I don’t see pastors, so-called, being exempt from this!

    Since the church is by definition a collection of saints not yet made perfect, it is vital to stop the apostle’s doctrine here being abused by pastors and elders who appoint themselves to be the sin police, judge and jury, and manipulate church members by threatening exclusion for each and every imperfection they have.

  107. Mae wrote:

    Bridget wrote:
    Marsha wrote:
    Maybe I am missing something. What purpose does kicking people out of church and shunning them serve?
    Well, if I may, it only makes people feel important and/or powerful from what I can tell. It doesn’t help bring anyone to maturity that I have seen.
    From what I’ve observed of church discipline,it was utilised to get rid of, or quiet people, who were allegedly deemed: rebellious, contentious, disrespectful to the leadership. In reality the leadership was getting rid of any opposition to their, so called, authority.
    I have also noticed people of the flock, who are engaged in sexual immorality, rarely keep attending church, nor do they become members. They just drift off, as if they discipline themselves.
    Have also noticed the secret sinners engaged in sexual affairs, are often in church leadership. Behavior often goes on for years because no one dares examine pastors/elders too closely.

    Ding, Ding, Ding….we have a winner!

  108. I am wondering.
    The majority of church goers are female, will they be disciplined because they spouse or boyfriend or significant other or whatever doesn’t attend?
    In an attempt to get these ” wayward” males back into the pews?

  109. @ K.D.:

    Oh, absolutely. Those of us who were married to men who gave up on church had to listen to criticism and blame and innuendo frequently–always from other women however. It comes under the idea that one person can make somebody else do something. And If the other person (either husband or wife) does not do what is expected then it is in part the fault of the spouse who was not able to ‘make him/her do.’ The accusation starts out with: Well, Susie Mae, good to see you this morning. Where is your huzz-binnn? Arrrggghh.

  110. okrapod wrote:

    If their theology of the atonement does not include that God conquers sin but only that He has a method for hiding it from Himself so He can keep from destroying us in his anger-then who does that leave to deal with human sin but the elders and their minions–somebody has to do it.

    Excellent point and put very well.

  111. @ Christina:
    Totally agree with Lydia, and take a witness who understands the big picture. I don’t remember your situation, but here’s an all-purpose verse for a woman in Acts29 or 9Marks situations: Galatians 5:1.

  112. okrapod wrote:

    Oh, absolutely. Those of us who were married to men who gave up on church had to listen to criticism and blame and innuendo frequently–always from other women however. It comes under the idea that one person can make somebody else do something.

    Now, that’s a bit contrary to the teachings on women being submissive and the interpretation of Peter’s writings. Isn’t it??? Tell women that men are the spiritual leaders in the church and the home, and then blame the women for not forcing the men to attend church?

  113. Nancy2 wrote:

    Tell women that men are the spiritual leaders in the church and the home, and then blame the women for not forcing the men to attend church?

    Yeah. Of course if the female is submissive enough and plays on his ego enough and is sufficiently skilled in, well…when it counts (wink wink).. then he will want to do what he can to please her, even go to church if necessary. And if the male wears the pants in his own home then he will only have to give commands and the female will follow him to church.

    On the other hand if she is submissive enough she will give up church and stay home with him, and if he is man of the house enough he will be such a spiritual leader of the home church that anything else, like actually going to church, will be unnecessary.

    And if any of us get suckered into any of that thinking we ought to be ashamed to admit it.

  114. Mae wrote:

    In reality the leadership was [using “church discipline” for] getting rid of any opposition to their, so called, authority.
    I have also noticed people of the flock, who are engaged in sexual immorality, rarely keep attending church, nor do they become members.

    From Proverbs 26, this interesting little snippet:

    Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, so a curse without cause does not alight.

    Paul spoke graphically to the Corinthian church about handing over to satan the man sleeping with his stepmother. Interestingly, in 2 Corinthians, Paul – presumably referring to the same man – seems to observe that this action brought about an actual change of mind and thence of behaviour. IOW, the situation was properly resolved.

    Overall, this implies that true church discipline involves spiritual authority that originates with God and does his work, and its use has a decent chance of ending well. I can’t imagine how else “handing a person over to satan” (who, presumably, will only use the opportunity to steal, kill and destroy as much as he can) could actually do them good.

    And yet many of the cases of “church discipline” reported on by Deebs do not seem to end in this way. They may, inevitably, cut people off from all their closest friends. But the people certainly aren’t brought to “repentance” – not when they’ve nothing to repent of – and nothing comes of them but spiteful relational damage.

    When we were disfellowshipped by Covenant Life Church in Glasgow (since re-named Destiny Church, though not connected to the similarly-named movement in New Zealand), the hounds of hell were not loosed on any other aspect of our life. For me, a crippling and years-long period of unemployment ended; for Lesley, an extraordinary opportunity was presented to her at work as well. We moved from a tiny flat in the east end of Glasgow to a house with a wonderful range of hills literally growing out of the back garden. Lesley was pregnant when we left; our son was a joy from the minute he was born – I even used to like changing his nappy. (It wasn’t the nappy, you understand: it was the little beaming face at the other end.)

    In other words, the CEO who got rid of us turned out to have no spiritual authority at all. He only had corporate authority; of course, he used that as destructively as he could, and I won’t deny that the friendships we lost were like a bereavement. But he had no power to curse us. Far from being convicted of the need to return, we were shown just how badly we had needed to leave, and only wished we’d done it years before.

    So… back to the Proverb above. Many cases of church discipline involve people who have not sinned, as we know. If I understand matters aright, the “discipline” process as commonly used is like a disembodied curse that can’t land. The problem is that there are many disembodied curses like this flying around. I don’t believe there are demons under every stone or that every stubbed toe has an immediate spiritual cause; but I do believe there are unseen things that have consequences. The rise of None-dom is a problem – and I say that as a None! But it won’t go away until the church as a whole repents of this widespread misuse of holy things.

    I realise that’s several comments in one…

  115. okrapod wrote:

    Yeah. Of course if the female is submissive enough and plays on his ego enough and is sufficiently skilled in, well…when it counts (wink wink).. then he will want to do what he can to please her, even go to church if necessary

    (Smirk)
    Classic Ware/Patterson textbook cases of blaming the woman because the woman is not being submissive enough????
    We’re way off subject, but I couldn’t resist!

  116. Dee wrote,

    Let’s see, I guess he wants everyone to kiss up to the leaders, always be in church, and never, ever criticize anything because, after all, he is your *daddy.*

    Here is the duty of believers taken from Christ Memorial Church website,

    80. Question:
    What is the duty of believers to their local church and her elders?
    Answer: Believers are responsible to love one another in the local church, praying, serving, and preferring each other, and are pointedly commanded to esteem, imitate, and submit to their elders with a pleasant and cooperative spirit. (I Thessalonians 5:12-13; I Timothy 5:17-18; Hebrews 13:7, 17)

    I think it is very clear that the stated duty of believers confirms what you wrote above.

  117. Joe2 wrote:

    80. Question:
    What is the duty of believers to their local church and her elders?
    Answer: Believers are responsible to love one another in the local church, praying, serving, and preferring each other, and are pointedly commanded to esteem, imitate, and submit to their elders with a pleasant and cooperative spirit. (I Thessalonians 5:12-13; I Timothy 5:17-18; Hebrews 13:7, 17)

    PLEASE tell me there is a Q/A on the roles, responsibilities and limitations of the position of elder.

    As an aside, the pseudo-cathechisms that many of these (esp. TGC/9M) churches like to write and post to their webpages absolutely kill me. I suppose these documents make them feel intellectual and somehow connected to their Reformed Fathers, but in reality it they make them look silly due to the trivial nature of the questions and answers they provide.

  118. Nancy2 wrote:

    Tell women that men are the spiritual leaders in the church and the home, and then blame the women for not forcing the men to attend church?

    I’m still trying to work out the thinking of gender complementarian churches or denominations -where only men get to be in authority- who never the less complain that not enough men attend churches anymore because churches are supposedly “too feminine.”

    If churches are too feminine, that would be the fault of male leadership, since they don’t allow women to have any control, not much input, final decision making, etc.

    The men of the male dominated churches create these very problems they complain about but then blame the problems on women. 🙄

  119. Christina wrote:

    I know this is a weird place to plop a prayer request, but I am an ex member of Acts 29 churches, and I have scheduled a reconciliation meeting with someone and an elder. I have written about my situation on here before. If you guys get a chance, I would appreciate the prayers. I do struggle with hurt from the situation still, as it seemed to be a popularity thing more than anything, which seems to be the way things go in these circles.

    Take a friend. I’ll pray for you, but take a friend.

  120. As an introvert, relational aloofness is natural for me. I’d never make it in a church that disciplines me for being me and ‘corrects’ me in its own image. The thing is that when left-handed students were forced to write right-handed, that was called “correction” as well. Turns out that having their hand tied behind their back or having been hit by a ruler increased the liklihood of a stutter, speech impediment, and low self esteem. I worry that Christian Correction causes more severe problems than existed in the first place. It should never be the goal of churches to try to fix people in a perpetual search and destroy mode.

  121. Joe2 wrote:

    and are pointedly commanded to esteem, imitate, and submit to their elders with a pleasant and cooperative spirit. (I Thessalonians 5:12-13; I Timothy 5:17-18; Hebrews 13:7, 17)

    I think they need to read (and live) all the text surrounding those verses and stop siting those verses as law to be followed.

  122. K.D. wrote:

    I am wondering.
    The majority of church goers are female, will they be disciplined because they spouse or boyfriend or significant other or whatever doesn’t attend?
    In an attempt to get these ” wayward” males back into the pews?

    What is ironic and contradictory about this is that it contradicts the Reformed/Calvinism belief that the Gospel Coalition claims to believe.

    Calvinism teaches that it is God who decides if one is going to be saved or not. It also teaches what they claim is the “perseverance of the saints” and that if one falls away then they are never saved.

    Thus why hold a wife accountable for her husband falling away etc when you claim it is God who decides this?

    I don’t believe in Calvinism but do wonder why their actions contradict their claim to believe in it.

  123. Mae wrote:

    From what I’ve observed of church discipline,it was utilised to get rid of, or quiet people, who were allegedly deemed: rebellious, contentious, disrespectful to the leadership. In reality the leadership was getting rid of any opposition to their, so called, authority.
    I have also noticed people of the flock, who are engaged in sexual immorality, rarely keep attending church, nor do they become members. They just drift off, as if they discipline themselves.
    Have also noticed the secret sinners engaged in sexual affairs, are often in church leadership. Behavior often goes on for years because no one dares examine pastors/elders too closely.

    Good points.

    As I have shared before, and Eagle agreed with me, I would also be weary of someone teaching on the need for “church discipline” who doesn’t talk about part of the reason for doing this is to remove and discipline sinful leaders. If they don’t talk about this requirement then chances are that “church discipline” is more used for control as Mae indicated.

  124. Jamie Carter wrote:

    The thing is that when left-handed students were forced to write right-handed, that was called “correction” as well. Turns out that having their hand tied behind their back or having been hit by a ruler increased the liklihood of a stutter, speech impediment, and low self esteem.

    I am very strongly left-handed.

    As a kid, I vaguely remember my mother saying she started school left-handed but was “corrected”. No further details.

    And in my college days leafing through magazine racks, I remember a Soldier of Fortune editorial (the usual boilerplate comparing Spoiled Rotten Baby-Fat Americans vs Communist Supermen) which said that “In the Good Old Days, recruits would have been taught to shoot left-handed, but this ’causes psychological trauma’.”

  125. Daisy wrote:

    I’m still trying to work out the thinking of gender complementarian churches or denominations -where only men get to be in authority- who never the less complain that not enough men attend churches anymore because churches are supposedly “too feminine.”

    There’s always adding stripper poles and MMA cage fights…

  126. Burwell Stark wrote:

    …but in reality it they make them look silly due to the trivial nature of the questions and answers they provide.

    That is because they are silly, vapid, obsessed with trivialities and incapable of deep thought. They have been trained well, they can parrot what they hear from their gurus, the catchphrases, the christianese, what they, limited as they are, think passes for spiritual intellectualism. But they, being spiritual guttersnipes just picking up bits and pieces of slogans, the garbage that comes from their idols, have long lost the power to think. And they now want to make disciples just like them and will slander anyone who points out what they are and abuse anyone who allows them.

  127. Jamie Carter wrote:

    As an introvert, relational aloofness is natural for me. I’d never make it in a church that disciplines me for being me and ‘corrects’ me in its own image. The thing is that when left-handed students were forced to write right-handed, that was called “correction” as well. Turns out that having their hand tied behind their back or having been hit by a ruler increased the liklihood of a stutter, speech impediment, and low self esteem…

    They switched me around in the late 60s/early 70s, told me I was using the “wrong hand”. As a result, even though I later became a professional commercial artist (before moving into my present field) I never learned how to write cursive; my handwriting still looks like that 6 year old boy from all those decades ago frustrated because he just couldn’t get it. I gave up entirely and now write with block letters.

  128. Law Prof wrote:

    I never learned how to write cursive

    Cursive has so fallen out of popularity that some schools do not teach it any more. I guess it went the way of spelling, algebra and english composition.

  129. @ Law Prof:
    My elm. Or middle school taught D’nealian Cursive and said the English essays we hand-wrote had to be in cursive because we were told that SAT essays had to be in cursive. By high school, everything had to be typed up and printed out. I’m probably among the last grades that learned cursive. I prefer my cursive to print, my print became worse with disuse.

  130. @ okrapod:
    I found a high school paper my dad wrote about Shakespeare in perfect cursive with a fountain pen (no mark outs) in French! Can you imagine the time and effort that took? And back then, that was the whole point: Effort.

  131. Law Prof wrote:

    That is because they are silly, vapid, obsessed with trivialities and incapable of deep thought. They have been trained well, they can parrot what they hear from their gurus, the catchphrases, the christianese, what they, limited as they are, think passes for spiritual intellectualism. But they, being spiritual guttersnipes just picking up bits and pieces of slogans, the garbage that comes from their idols, have long lost the power to think. And they now want to make disciples just like them and will slander anyone who points out what they are and abuse anyone who allows them.

    I just don’t see this ending well at all because of the inability to think. So many of them are striving to be the next Platt, Piper, Dever, etc.

  132. Lydia wrote:

    @ okrapod:
    I found a high school paper my dad wrote about Shakespeare in perfect cursive with a fountain pen (no mark outs) in French! Can you imagine the time and effort that took? And back then, that was the whole point: Effort.

    My last 5 years teaching high school economics/government, 95-99% of all papers handed-in were printed. All comments I made on papers had to be in print….they could not read cursive. It is no longer being taught. Sad. ( Once again, I am so glad I am retired.)

  133. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    There’s always adding stripper poles and MMA cage fights…

    Yes, there is that. Some churches have that.

    And this. This may or may not have happened in a church (I am not clear on that), but it involved a church preacher, some church head honchos, and the preacher’s “Smokin’ Hot Wife”, and some other wives of big shot church guys:

    Stripper-Dancing Pastor Wives and Non-Judgmental Christianity
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/stripper-dancing-pastor-wives-non-judgmental-christianity-147666/

  134. Daisy wrote:

    This may or may not have happened in a church

    But did it happen at all? The opinion piece, by Christian radio personality Michael Brown, ends this way: “(I encourage you not to try to figure out which pastor I’m talking about, as it could easily be one of hundreds, if not thousands. Let’s simply pray for him and examine our own lives.)”

    Brown’s piece is about the dangers of being non-judgmental. Because if you don’t go around judging people, the natural result is literally thousands of clergy wives dancing around stripper poles.

  135. @ Friend:

    I see no reason to believe the guy just made it up out of whole cloth.

    I keep track of news stories of sexual sins by pastors and married Christian people (for reasons I shall not get into here), especially, but not always, stories that take place on church property, and it happens more often than you might think.

    Churches also use strippers, put stripper poles inside churches on the main stage during services, and the like, to sell and market church services.

    Churches will put billboards up around town with suggestive advertising to entice people to show up to their churches.

    Churches are, and have been, using raunchy themes to get people into the doors now for years.

    I’m sympathetic to his editorial.

    A lot of churches are too lax about speaking out against sexual sin these days. They are afraid of hurting feelings or offending people.

    Folks like me who are celibate get no support of any sort from today’s Christian culture…. everything is geared to treating sexual sinners with kid’s gloves.

  136. @ Daisy:

    Here is just one link about these type of stories:

    Amen to that! Pastor puts stripper’s pole next to pulpit and urges congregation to have sex seven days a week
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2123634/Amen-Pastor-puts-strippers-pole-pulpit-campaigns-congregation-sex-seven-days-week.html

    I’m an un-married woman. I guess I’ll have to hit the bars this weekend, find some good looking, half sober guy to bring home and fool around with, to fulfill this preacher’s instructions.

  137. Ken wrote:

    The idea behind both scenarios is to get the sinning believer to mend their ways, or if they won’t to keep a minimum level of purity of conduct within the church. ‘Drive out the wicked person from among you’. Shunning as I’ve heard described by commenters here seems to me to be totally counterproductive, and taking the apostle’s words to an illegitimate extreme.

    I think you have got the gist of what Paul is going after. This was a peculiar circumstance and it took some special action. But that does not mean we should be mean to people. If we are supposed to treat people who have grave sin as unbelievers, what does that mean? Are we supposed to be nasty to and shun unbelievers?

  138. @ Christina:
    I am praying for you as well. I do not think a lot of the leaders know how much they hurt people when they treat them the way they do. I know that for me the ekklesia is a family, and when relationships are broken it is painful.

    I agree with Lydia and Law Prof, if you have not gone yet, bring a witness.

  139. Law Prof wrote:

    That is because they are silly, vapid, obsessed with trivialities and incapable of deep thought. They have been trained well, they can parrot what they hear from their gurus, the catchphrases, the christianese,

    Precisely! It is amazing how many times I have asked somebody where they find support for X in the scripture, and all I get is a deer in the headlights stare. Or, I exegete a passage differently than what they have heard, and it befuddles them. For all the emphasis in evangelical churches on the centrality of scripture, it is amazing how little the people in the pews and a bunch of the pastors and elders know about the scriptures.

  140. Mae wrote:

    Behavior often goes on for years because no one dares examine pastors/elders too closely.

    That’s what Jeri Massi’s blog is all about—also, read her book Schizophrenic Christianity.

    She’s not well, but her blog is on autopilot re-posting earlier articles.
    http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/

  141. Will M wrote:

    I think you have got the gist of what Paul is going after. This was a peculiar circumstance and it took some special action. But that does not mean we should be mean to people. If we are supposed to treat people who have grave sin as unbelievers, what does that mean? Are we supposed to be nasty to and shun unbelievers?

    Paul was also talking about a church member who was openly and repeatedly committing a very clear sin. The church was doing absolutely nothing to positively change or influence the man’s behavior.

  142. Daisy wrote:

    Pastor puts stripper’s pole next to pulpit

    Golly ned! My sincere apologies. I had no idea this was going on anywhere in Christendom. Clearly I don’t get out very much.

    I belong to a mainline denomination that the fundamentalists love to hold up as a cautionary tale: “Look what happened to them! They ordained women, and everybody left. That’s what happens when you stop being judgmental.” Hence my skepticism about stripper poles inside churches.

    Although I’ve been married awhile, I have powerful memories of my single years. I understand and sympathize with what you are saying.

  143. Law Prof wrote:

    That is because they are silly, vapid, obsessed with trivialities and incapable of deep thought. They have been trained well, they can parrot what they hear from their gurus…

    This is called “duckspeak” — reciting the Party Line without engaging any neuron above the brainstem.
    Stimulus –> Response
    Stimulus –> Response
    Stimulus –> Response

    Check out “The Principles of Newspeak” by G.Orwell (Appendix to 1984) sometime.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak
    It details how the final goal is to constrict the ability to think until there is only “goodthink”, “bellyfeel”, and “duckspeak” i.e. no though processes, only Party Line Stimulus –> Response.

    And in this case, The Party Line is SCRIPTURE(TM).

  144. Lydia wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:

    That is because they are silly, vapid, obsessed with trivialities and incapable of deep thought. They have been trained well, they can parrot what they hear from their gurus, the catchphrases, the christianese, what they, limited as they are, think passes for spiritual intellectualism. But they, being spiritual guttersnipes just picking up bits and pieces of slogans, the garbage that comes from their idols, have long lost the power to think. And they now want to make disciples just like them and will slander anyone who points out what they are and abuse anyone who allows them.

    I just don’t see this ending well at all because of the inability to think. So many of them are striving to be the next Platt, Piper, Dever, etc.

    Long Live Big Brother.

  145. @ K.D.:
    I hear you. Mine were taught cursive in elementary 3rd grade. But it was private. I was not thrilled with the method which looked like modern cartoon type. But the cool thing about cursive is each person seems to make it their own style. Of course one has to live with the obligatory heart shaped dot above the “i” for a few years. :o)

  146. For what it’s worth, I’m a confessional Presbyterian that doesn’t like TGC and their cohorts. I prefer to read R. Scott Clark and DG Hart over Tim Keller. I am, what they call, an Old School Calvinist. I also think Neo-Calvinism is, err, bad. I prefer the “magic and the mystery” of the Two-Kingdoms, and potato knishes.

    I’ve also been a victim of Driscoll’s sexist theology and bad church discipline. I had to get counseling for PTSD @_@

    I’m also a seminary student that attends an ECO church, so uh, I might be wrong.

    The whole point of the simul is to encourage grace. Because we’re prone to sin, we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn. We should use the “means of grace” and hope by faith that transformation will occur. It doesn’t mean that idiots get away with abuse. The whole point of church discipline is to preserve the peace, not to make people feel more guilty over reading bad fiction, or say, putting up a dumb Facebook post.

    So, if anything, the simul has allowed me to be easier on myself and on others. Not that I am perfect at it of course.

    Which is to say this. I would hope a repentant person would allow themselves to be put in positions of authority. Though it seems that many in TGC confused “nice” with love. I’m also annoyed, as a Presbyterian, that Calvinism is being associated with false teachers. John Piper is an Edwardsian, and I’m not a fan of him. Too abstract. He doesn’t even affirm the 2nd London Confession.

    Doug Wilson is a Federal Vision-ist. The NAPARC churches condemned that!

    Mark Driscoll? Charismatic pornographer. We are cessationists, traditionally. Also, we believe in shared eldership, not the sort of dictatorship nonsense he pushes.

    CJ Mahaney? We’re Presbyterian, we don’t like apostles or tongues.

    Mind you there’s also Tim Keller, but I can assure you that there are those in NAPARC circles that don’t agree with everything he does. I certainly don’t.

    All of that to say, the simul is supposed to motivate kindness, not excuse abuse. But I say that as a confessional Presbyterian.

    P.S.

    I would agree that the NeoCal and the Arminian are both prone to sin. I swear, just because you hold to a different view of the will doesn’t mean you don’t love the Lord.

    P.P.S.

    Keep up the good work. This site has deeply influenced my view of pastoral ministry. If anything, pastors should at least go last instead of first. Something about not lording their authority over everybody like the Gentiles do.

  147. Will M wrote:

    I do not think a lot of the leaders know how much they hurt people when they treat them the way they do.

    I wish I still believed that, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they just do not care or that they care about other things much more.

  148. okrapod wrote:

    @ Ken:

    Yes indeed. The unforgivable sin (blasphemy against the Spirit) in the understanding of one christian faith tradition, if I understand correctly, is final impenitence. There is a statement by JP II on this. That is, to die while rejecting Christ. What makes it unforgivable, one author explained, is that the person has rejected the very means of salvation and has died in that state. One cannot be forgiven if one rejects forgiveness in this life.

    Which is pretty much what you said I think.

    I agree wholeheartedly with this.

  149. Christina wrote:

    I know this is a weird place to plop a prayer request, but I am an ex member of Acts 29 churches, and I have scheduled a reconciliation meeting with someone and an elder. I have written about my situation on here before. If you guys get a chance, I would appreciate the prayers. I do struggle with hurt from the situation still, as it seemed to be a popularity thing more than anything, which seems to be the way things go in these circles.

    Praying.

  150. zooey111 wrote:

    Since the church is by definition a collection of saints not yet made perfect, it is vital to stop the apostle’s doctrine here being abused by pastors and elders who appoint themselves to be the sin police, judge and jury, and manipulate church members by threatening exclusion for each and every imperfection they have.

    Perhaps the single most important lesson to be drummed into anyone in leadership (in the broadest sense) among believers is: The rules are NOT different for you. They are THE SAME: and if anything, they are MORE APPLICABLE to you than to others. One of the clearest distinctions between “the rulers of the gentiles” to whom Jesus referred, and those over whom they “lord it” as he then described, is that they enjoy perks, freedoms and privileges the little people don’t.

    I’d go so far as to say that, in the Church, a good working definition is as follows:

    STRONG LEADER [n]: a prideful and rebellious person whose sins are concealed by the deference of others.

  151. Isn’t that like saying we wish they had a conscience? Or even a moral compass?

    Will M wrote:

    I am praying for you as well. I do not think a lot of the leaders know how much they hurt people when they treat them the way they do.

  152. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    STRONG LEADER [n]: a prideful and rebellious person whose sins are concealed by the deference of others.

    Or whose sins are enabled by a false deference from others?

    The word meek comes to mind. I heard this defined as ‘strength under control’, and that is what a leader ought to have. Strong enough not to feel threatened by someone who disagrees.

    If being meek was good enough for Moses, it ought to be good enough for everyone else! Unless of course you consider your particular pay-grade, um, to be a tad above that of Moses … 🙂

  153. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    STRONG LEADER [n]: a prideful and rebellious person whose sins are concealed by the deference of others.

    Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuehrer!
    Ein Volk, Ein Kirche, Ein Fuehrer!

  154. Ken wrote:

    If being meek was good enough for Moses, it ought to be good enough for everyone else! Unless of course you consider your particular pay-grade, um, to be a tad above that of Moses …

    Only Moses?
    More like their pay-grade is a tad above God.
    “I SHALL EXALT MY THRONE ABOVE THAT OF THE MOST HIGH!”

  155. zooey111 wrote:

    I agree wholeheartedly with this.

    But what about the Ressegue Regression?
    “But how do you KNOW you Accepted Christ(TM)?
    How do you KNOW you Accepted Forgiveness(TM)?”

  156. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    But what about the Ressegue Regression?
    “But how do you KNOW you Accepted Christ(TM)?
    How do you KNOW you Accepted Forgiveness(TM)?”

    If we were required to believe something about ourselves, then these questions would be deal breakers, especially for those following the idea of unconditional election. Not only do they not know, it does not matter since no element of freedom to choose (free will) is required.

    Fortunately however we are required to believe not in ourselves but rather in Jesus. The result of sanctifying grace is not that I come to believe in myself but rather that I come to believe in Jesus. What I don’t know is why people who are challenged by ‘how do you know’ do not challenge these people in their assumptions. If we had to have faith in our own believing it would be a different matter; we would all be without hope, since faith in one’s self is worthless. On does not trust in his own believing but rather trusts in Whom one has believed. Whole different matter.

  157. what I’m getting is that these neo-Calvinist Churches that are into ‘disciplining’ their flock are doing it by asking the flock to tattle on each other to the pastor . . .

    now, first of all, this is not going to build up Christian ‘community’ among ‘the flock’ . . . especially when you realize that some are more mean-spirited than others and see ‘sin’ in everyone but themselves AND have been given ‘permission’ to be prosecutors before ‘the judge’ . . .

    wow . . . think of the ill-will this causes, and how it would possibly be acted out when someone has finally ‘had it’ with one of their tormentors . . . I suspect the resulting explosion of anger would be the first HEALTHY display of honesty in that Church in a while, unless of course someone sheds blood.

    imagine a closed society, exclusive and proud, and some among them are not as ‘with it’ as the prosecutorial meanies . . . would those poor folks not end up being scape-goated publicly? And if they were simple people of faith, would this not be abuse with a capital ‘A’, like a bullying that not only harms the victims but also ingrains in the pastor and his cronies the worst possible pride-filled smugness?

    And who would bring their family, their children into such a pit of vipers? My goodness . . . I am reminded of the Yeats poem: ‘what rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem to be born’? It looks like Neo-Calvinism may be among the candidates for that dreadful role.

  158. Christian “leaders” must realize that they do not become legitimate leaders in the Kingdom of God by going to a place called a seminary or being hand-picked by one who did.

    Christian “leaders” must realize that they become a leader in this day and age of there literally being priests in every pulpit (“You are a royal priesthood…”) by general acknowledgement of co-priests (to whom they must submit as well as asking for submission in turn) that they are generally qualified through years of proving themselves up as dependable by raising families, getting gray hairs, and growing many years past the point of youthful ambition.

    Christian “leaders” must realize that all parts of the Body of Christ are co-equal and important, Paul went absolutely out of his way to make this point.

    Christian “leaders” must realize that their leadership consists solely and exclusively of service, not in the spotlight, but in the trenches serving others, and that their leadership is never, ever, under any circumstances to be by compulsion, but by example alone.

    Christian “leaders” must realize that just because the others in a fellowship generally acknowledge them to be the sort of steady person upon whom one can rely for the wisdom that comes from age and experience, that such does not mean they’re qualified to teach, prophesy, administrate or do anything in particular other than serve.

    Christian “leaders” must realize that no one, under any circumstances, deserves the spotlight, the limelight, the primary decision-making position, that distinction is reserved for Jesus alone, and on this earth pretty much died with Moses (who was, as a point of fact, the most humble man on the face of the earth in his day).

    Christian “leaders” must realize that those who lay claim to wealth in exchange for their leadership have more in common with the superapostles whom Paul likely would rather have punched in the mouth rather than allowing them to lead a congregation.

    Christian “leaders” must realize that if “pastor” means anything (and the Bible is not particularly clear on the point), it means humble, lowly-regarded, ritually unclean, farm worker who was expendable and expected to be willing to be torn apart alive by wild animals rather than having sheep be attacked by them.”

    Christian “leaders” must realize that they, too, are sheep.

    Christian “leaders” must realize, that in large part, based on their attitudes and actions, that they are the very wolves from whom the true pastors are expected to be willing to die rather than let them have their way with the sheep.

    Christian “leaders” must realize that if this offends them, then their problem is not with a law prof from a middling university in the southeast, but with the Bible, the true Gospel, because I did not just conceive this out of thin air, it’s right there in black and white.

  159. Nancy2 wrote:

    “church elders …… mandatory sabbaticals” in Williston, Vermont? Where do they go for these “sabbaticals”? My husband is from Maine, so I’ve been all over that area of the country. We’ve taken the ferry from Keesville, NY across to Burlinton, VT, then Route 2 right through Williston on route to western Maine several times. There’s not much going on there. Even Burlington isn’t very big.
    I wonder if these “sabbaticals” are just excuses for the elders to get out of boring Williston for a while on somebody else’s dime.
    Is Wes without spot or blemish? Hah, who disciplines him? Does he take sabbaticals, or does he not need them?

    And those sabbaticals allow them a chance to GET AWAY from the congregation. I’ll bet the members don’t even know the reason for the elders going on these sabbaticals. But the pewpeons, they have to be threatened with going before the entire congregation if they don’t repent of their sin. Do they not see this double standard or do they see it and justify it?

  160. okrapod wrote:

    If we were required to believe something about ourselves, then these questions would be deal breakers, especially for those following the idea of unconditional election. Not only do they not know, it does not matter since no element of freedom to choose (free will) is required.

    TULIP theology just blows my mind. If only the elect are saved and there is no free will, what is the point in having preachers, churches, missionaries, or even the BIBLE???

  161. Darlene wrote:

    And those sabbaticals allow them a chance to GET AWAY from the congregation. I’ll bet the members don’t even know the reason for the elders going on these sabbaticals. But the pewpeons, they have to be threatened with going before the entire congregation if they don’t repent of their sin. Do they not see this double standard or do they see it and justify it?

    Perhaps they spend the sabbaticals plating and scheming???
    Double standard? How can that matter when the church leaders are “above reproach”?

  162. Law Prof wrote:

    Christian “leaders” must realize that they do not become legitimate leaders in the Kingdom of God by going to a place called a seminary or being hand-picked by one who did…
    they are generally qualified through years of proving themselves up as dependable by raising families, getting gray hairs, and growing many years past the point of youthful ambition.

    Very good points, Law Prof. I’ve truncated the above quote, but I think I’ve preserved the essence of it.

    From 1 Peter:

    To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

    In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders.

    I note, here, the contrast between “elders” and those who are “younger” – it so happens that the Greek is masculine, i.e. implying “you younger men, submit yourselves to your elders”. Having elders, or pastors, or other office-bearers given authority in the church, who are still in their 20’s is not “biblical church”.

    It was pointed out to me in a previous discussion that there is one place in the NT that makes reference to the appointment of elders. I concede that point, but it still bears repeating that in the NT, “elder” is first and foremost an adjective, not a job-title: the word simply means “more old”, and in its noun form, “one who is more old”. You can’t take a young man and make him an elder by appointment because he has been groomed for office away from the daily challenges faced by most Christians and proved himself by ideological conformity. You can only recognise someone who is an elder, having proved themself by longstanding demonstration of Christ-like character, speech and behaviour in a wide range of different circumstances.

  163. An inherent assumption in Wes’ quote is that these are godly leaders, or perhaps all leaders (in approved churches) are godly.

    Where the people believe their leaders are godly, they will likely drink this up and dissociate themselves with dissenters. Again, lost in all this is the balance – in a perfect world, great, you the elders are looking out for my soul. Who is looking out for yours then? How do you know when you need that sabbatical to deal with sin? When you’ve solicited a prostitute?

    Are you really closer to God than I and He always tells you when you need deal with sin? Does He not tell me when I need to deal with sin, or does he need your help? “Well he can use anybody” – ok, why not me to you then?

    Oh the senior pastor tells you when you need to deal with sin? Who tells him when he’s over the line? Is he closer to God than you by merit of… what exactly?

    I step into your church for the first time. 2nd time. 3rd time. I don’t know you. You want to be my spiritual daddy by authority of office, or some calling you claim (I’m not gonna carry on the farce of “spiritual parent” – we all know what that means. There’s no “mother” there. Sausage fest), but I haven’t been in the trenches with you. You’ve never been there in my darkest hours. You could be a sham. My church experience tells me you have a high probability of being a sham. I’m not being fair to my “God-ordained” experiences if I don’t approach you with a wary eye.

    Wes’ underlying assumption is that if you find someone who believes right, they won’t treat you wrong, so…. Submit to the Approved™.

    I call that unhelpful, misleading, perhaps directly hurtful BS.

    So, no, I will continue calling and treating no man my spiritual daddy. Jesus told us not to.

  164. GovPappy wrote:

    An inherent assumption in Wes’ quote is that these are godly leaders, or perhaps all leaders (in approved churches) are godly.

    Of course the Leaders are Godly(TM)!
    The Leaders themselves Say So!

  165. Nancy2 wrote:

    Double standard? How can that matter when the church leaders are “above reproach”?

    All Animals are Equal
    BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS!
    — G.Orwell, Animal Farm

    Remember Orwell’s ethnic casting of the Leaders Above Reproach?

  166. Please note this is the same "church" mentioned in 2011 in a post by Deb, who mentioned an individual "ByFaithAlone," that left this "church."

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/02/14/sovereign-grace-ministries-and-the-sbc-%E2%80%93-is-there-a-merger-in-the-works/

    Also in 2013 about 100-150 members left this church after recognizing that Wes does not have accountability to anyone, he is a pathetic excuse for a shepherd, and is selfish and abusive. The elder group is full of "yes" men. Please pray for the sheep, that they will continue to flee this abusive "shepherd".  There continues to be a net outflow. May the light continue to be shown into the darkness, even to those who were not there in 2013. And yes..this church is associated with NETS, Wes' pet project to gain more power.

  167. Thanks for the prayers about the reconciliation meeting I was going to have. It was scheduled last week, but the elder (third party mediator) cancelled due to a stomach bug. Apparently the person I was supposed to reconcile with was also mysteriously sick that day as well. They didn’t bother to contact me to reschedule anything until today. I took time off work for this meeting, which was a mistake on my part. I asked if we could meet after work hours so I wouldn’t have to take time off work again. Apparently that isn’t possible. So there you have it, folks. Reconciliation is only a priority for Acts 29 folks if it is part of their work schedule. Otherwise, forget about it. But you’re expected to miss work for it. I am not even a member at this church anymore, but somehow I am expected to meet with elders to reconcile something that should have happened two years ago. I think it’s unfortunate that people like me who have honestly tried to find the right church, community and Christian friends for the past few years, can’t seem to make that work. People only care about themselves and that’s it.