2015: Abusive Church Discipline, Gender Confusion, Defective Membership Contracts and the Silence of Gospel™ Leaders

“For last year's words belong to last year's language 
And next year's words await another voice.” 
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets link

IMG_1035
A sweet gift from an anonymous reader! Thank you.

January 1: Prophecy 2016 Day at TWW!

So, here's the deal. Let's have some fun on Friday. I will try to post my predictions fairly early in the day. Then, you all can add your predictions for the coming year.laugh


 

This has been quite a year. I have gone back through the year and decided to mention some of the posts that have generated the most comments. Interestingly, they fit into some broader categories. All of the posts listed are the ones which received the most comments last year.

1. Membership covenants/contracts are tied to abusive church discipline. TWW recommends against signing these for the foreseeable future.

TWW has taken a strong stance against  the signing of membership contracts. This is due to the fact that these contracts were designed by lawyers to protect the church against lawsuits. Most members have no idea that they are signing or assenting to an enforceable legal contract.

They are not intended to protect the average church member who has a lot to lose by signing one of these agreements. In almost all cases, the contract goes one way-what the members must do. They rarely, if ever, describe the obligations of the pastors and the church leaders except to announce that they are the ones in charge. 

The church member may be disciplined for any old thing that the church decides since what is to be disciplined is not defined a priori. Most church members do not understand that their leadership can become abusive and controlling of the church membership and move to discipline folks for stupid things like questioning the budget, disagreeing with a Scriptural interpretation or even for leaving an abusive spouse. They are given wide spread control over a member's life.

Most churches today are making folks sign one of these covenants if they wish to be members. This has been a priority of 9Marks, the current darling of The Gospel Coalition set. What they do not want you to know is that there are widespread abuses of these covenants (which I prefer to call contracts) in matters of church discipline. This was demonstrated quite clearly by the Karen Hinkley situation at The Village Church. If Matt Chandler, a BFF of 9Marks, cannot get it right, then what about Joe Average pastor? In other words, be prepared to be hurt by pastors and leaders who are just as sinful as everybody else. 

1. The Village Church debacle generated interest worldwide. The wife of a missionary couple discovered that her husband had been viewing child pornography(which we call internet child sex abuse) for years, some of it involving babies. The Village Church put her under church discipline for seeking to annul their marriage while the pedophile was declared "walking in repentance" and not disciplined. An international uproar ensued and the church was forced to apologize. The following 2 posts will get you started but we wrote many more on the subject which you can find on our search bar.

2. The following are just three of many posts that we have written on our concerns about membership contracts.

3. The following posts dealt with control measures that churches are implementing to keep those members under control..

4. Finally, the following post got lots of comments since SBC Voices, in general, supports church discipline and membership contracts.

Guest Poster at SBC Voices Shares Concerns About Extreme ‘Church Discipline’

 

2. Complementarianism is becoming a primary doctrine for The Gospel Coalition and CBMW crowd in spite of their inability to define it in any practical sense.

Tim Keller, one of The Gospel ™Coalition's intellectual leaders has said that, although he is a complementarian, he and his wife are functional egalitarians.And this, folks, is the problem. We have written post after post outlining the functional beliefs of the self avowed leaders of the complementarian movement. They have told us that complementarians are NOT: stay at home moms, women who clean and care for the house (or as they like to say-hearth), it does not mean a woman can't teach, it does not mean a woman can't be a leader, and it goes on and on. About the only things they all agree on is

1. No female pastors
2. No female elders
3. The husband gets the tie breaking vote.

I have asked a number of people what it means to be submissive in the home. I have been looking for some concrete suggestions. Instead, I routinely get this answer. 

I don't know what it looks like for you but I know what it looks like for us. 

Then, there is silence since they do not want to tell me what it looks like for them. It causes me to think that they can't tell me because they do not know. I am left with thinking that, if I put my life and marriage up against any of theirs, there would be little difference. Except I tend towards egalitarianism. There are a few of complementarian male leaders whose wives are well known. I can assure you that 'submissive' is not a word I would use to describe them but they get to speak at conferences about being good complementarian wives.

Finally, I do not believe that self avowed complementarian marriages demonstrate the relationship between Christ and his church any better that any decent marriage, complementarian or otherwise. Yet, the comp leaders claim that this is why it is so important to be complementarian. Having been an observer in the evangelical church for decades, I have yet to hear anyone say

"Oh yeah, now I get it. Fred and Martha's marriage demonstrates the relationship between Christ and his church."

If that is what is supposed to be happening, then I declare that it has been an utter failure.

3. Blogging is causing heartache in those who want to hide things.

It is quite difficult for those who have been in charge and able to silence those who disagree with them to accept that the little people now have a voice. It is a mission of TWW to give a voice to e to as many people as possible. Also, we would love to help anyone who wants to start a blog. The best thing that could happen to the church is to have as many voices as possible speaking the truth.

Kevin DeYoung’s Controversial Post Calling Some Bloggers “Weeping Prophets”


4. Domestic abuse and child sex abuse often overlooked when a celebrity is involved. 

It is deeply disturbing to us that many of the supposed gospel™leaders state they are against abuse but stay silent, or even worse, support their celebrity friends whose ministries have a long history of serious accusations raised against them. Also, why is it that people automatically believe some talking head because they "have heard of them?"


5. Divorce and the church

TWW was shocked to learn that progressive leaders, always first to express concern for abuse and women, quickly supported Tony Jones who divorced his wife, Julie, and claimed that she was "crazy." Yet, he left his children in her care for years while gallivanting around, giving nice, progressive talks.So, he couldn't bear his crazy wife but left his kids with her? Well, TWW is supporting his ex wife Julie McMahon who has recently been dragged into court over the custody of the children

What Tony Jones Should Learn From Stanley Hauerwas About Marriage

Recently, Tony wrote a post called My New Normal. In it, he complains about his enemies and loss of jobs.Tony needs to start looking into the mirror. I am no enemy but I do care about the woman who he once loved and with whom started a family. If that makes me his enemy, then so be it.

it turns out that the attacks of enemies and the resulting damage to my career actually prepared me for the changes now required of me: to be home. 

On John Piper’s Troubling Views on Divorce by One Who Has Been There: Guest Post by Divorce Minister

John Piper's views on divorce are damaging to those who are victimized in a marriage. he believes that one can never, ever, ever marry again if one was divorced, even for abuse, adultery  and abandonment. TWW loves the blog of Divorce Minister who presents a grace filled view of divorce.

 

6. The ARC/ Robert Morris and Chris Hodges
Bizarre beliefs regarding demons caught our attention with this rapidly growing movement.

 

7. The Dones: The church better be listening.

Incredible stories written by those who are *done* with the church. Mind you, they may be done but many are still believers.

The Dones: Faithful Church Refugees and the DeChurched Project

 

8.  Spiritual Friendship

This year the SBC announced that they no longer support reparative therapy for *curing* homosexuality. However, there is a contingent within the Calvinista crowd which believe that even celibacy for those who have SSA is a sinful state. They believe that a person needs to be in constant repentance for one's homosexual attractions.

Spiritual Friendship: Even Celibacy Is Not Enough For Some Christians

 

9. Grace-a forgotten attribute of Christians

I was surprised to see the number of comments that this post. I think many people are looking for churches and leaders who are kind, grace filled and loving. The gospel™ authoritarian leaders are spending too much time talking about "keys" and whose is charge. They spend far too little time building loving relationships.

Grace for the Sabbath and Grace for Small Groups

10. Todd Wilhelm, our official TWW hero, speaks out against the silence of T4G in light of child sex abuse reports within their BFF ranks.

I leave you with a post by Todd Wilhelm. He correctly points out that we Protestants were born out of protest. Far too many of today's self avowed gospel™leaders say they care about child sex abuse, domestic abuse, etc. However, when it involves an aligned church or a friend in their tight little groups, suddenly, it is no longer an issue. May God convict the hearts of these leaders.

Todd Wilhelm made a courageous stand in Dubai when his former church insisted of continuing to sell books by CJ Mahaney. he continues to fight for justice for those abused. Here is what he had to say:

As for injustice – I submit that having C.J. Mahaney as a plenary speaker at any Christian function is a travesty and a great injustice. This man has blackmailed a former fellow leader of his denomination.  He has covered up and enabled the sexual abuse of children in his church.  The celebrity leaders sharing the conference platform with him can no longer claim innocence.  They know what has happened. Nate Morales, a former youth worker in Mahaney’s church was sentenced to 40 years in prison for sexually abusing young boys.   Their refusing to take a strong stand against Mahaney, and instead doing everything they can to promote Mahaney and restore him to his former celebrity status makes them complicit with him in his crimes.

Mark Dever, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

Al Mohler, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

Ligon Duncan, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

Thabiti Anyabwile, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

John Piper, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

John MacArthur, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

David Platt, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

Matt Chandler, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

Kevin DeYoung, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

R.C. Sproul, shame on you for supporting C.J. Mahaney.

These are the celebrity leaders of the Neo-Calvinist wing of American Evangelicalism.  What does their support of a man like C.J. Mahaney say about the state of Christianity in the USA?  Anyone paying to attend this conference should also be ashamed of themselves. Take your $250 entry fee, your $1,000 meal and lodging expense, your $300 book fee, and your $500 transportation fee and donate it to an organization that helps children who have been sexually abused.

If you have any favorite posts from this year or suggestions for things to discuss in the coming year, let us know. 

Comments

2015: Abusive Church Discipline, Gender Confusion, Defective Membership Contracts and the Silence of Gospel™ Leaders — 131 Comments

  1. The thing that has damaged Tony Jones’s career was being a conscienceless NPD–it had nothing to do with his enemies, unless Tony would count himself as an enemy, which would be apt, as while a psychopath, sociopath or NPD lives to hurt any near them who isn’t particularly useful to them, their greatest and most determined enemy, at the end of the day, is themselves.

  2. Weeping prophets is probably about right, an unintentional compliment. The Bible is chock full of prophets who wept over the state of the church and the fact that in spite of their protestations, the church chose its own destruction.

  3. The church member may be disciplined for any old thing that the church decides since what is to be disciplined is not defined a priori.

    Just like “Hooliganism” under the Russian penal code.
    De facto definition: Anything the guys in Power say it is.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Just like “Hooliganism” under the Russian penal code.
    De facto definition: Anything the guys in Power say it is.

    I was reading about the poet Joseph Brodsky, a Russian Jew who became an American citizen and Poet Laureate. At age 23, he was charged with “social parasitism,” because he wrote poetry and it wasn’t all to the glory of the Soviet state. He ended up getting tossed out of Russia less than 10 years later.

  5. A brief request… Does anyone recall Comments where we discussed the trigger phrases that tell us we’re in the wrong church? It may have been in relation to the Dones, and the goofiness that pushed many of us in that direction.

    Personally, I get a big red flag whenever someone welcomes me to “Gods House,” AKA their church building. My God is a bit bigger than their temp!e, so I figure I don’t belong there.

  6. dee wrote:

    suggestions for things to discuss in the coming year

    Just keep after them.
    What can we do to keep Driscoll 2.0 from being released.

    Can Tony Jones brought to heel? Julie is a poignant example of abuse but she is not likely the only victim of TJ’s NPD. I fear that the treatment of Julie, the smarmy TJ supporters that come out when ever the subject comes up, provides a strong signal for other victims to stay silent.

    I’m always looking for more information on the dones and what their alternatives to the institutional church look like.

    Finally strength and perseverance as you care for your parents, so many of my peers are going through this right now. It is tough and stressful and your periodic references remind me of real life.

  7. GSD wrote:

    Does anyone recall Comments where we discussed the trigger phrases that tell us we’re in the wrong church?

    Just recently I’ve run into several people use the term “covering”, thankfully not in the church I’m attending. It gives me heebie jeebies, I’ll need to research it to see why it bothers me. So often I’ll research something only to remember the conclusion and none of the supporting information so I’ll need to get this one refreshed.

  8. Bill M wrote:

    GSD wrote:
    Does anyone recall Comments where we discussed the trigger phrases that tell us we’re in the wrong church?
    Just recently I’ve run into several people use the term “covering”, thankfully not in the church I’m attending. It gives me heebie jeebies, I’ll need to research it to see why it bothers me. So often I’ll research something only to remember the conclusion and none of the supporting information so I’ll need to get this one refreshed.

    Reminds me of Bill Gothard’s umbrella of authority, somehow.

  9. Nice summary of the year at WW. I am struck by a theme of hypocracy/lack of accountability/authoritarianism that seems to underlie the issues presented. These “themes” sure seem to be in contrast to the picture of JC presented in the gospels… I grew up in a fundamentalist church and they always hammered to not be “worldly”, but these “themes” are as worldly as can be!

  10. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    these “themes” are as worldly as can be!

    Money, power, self-gratification, ego-stroking, lies, cover-ups, and control.
    How far can they take this? When will their congregations wake up?

  11. Once again, the church is wondering why people are leaving in droves to become ” Nones” and “Dones?”

  12. The NAR stuff drives me nuts (not that the other doesn’t!) because it’s disguising itself as simple charismatic teaching. Right now the IHOP cult is putting on their year-end conference and guys like Matt Maher and Francis Chan show up to speak.

    When the leadership of a church/movement screams at people in tongues and tells them the Holy Spirit told leadership one of them is a murder (And gets a false confession out of a terrified young man in the process), it’s an abusive place no God-fearing person should be frequenting.

  13. @ K.D.:

    I left a pretty good church because I didn’t have the strength to deal with my stressful job AND the young man, son of the associate pastor, bringing Piper and Driscoll and who knows what else.

  14. “Do not assume the little guy is always right. God also warns us against siding with the poor just because they’re poor.” (Kevin DeYoung)

    Well, that’s what DeYoung says, but here’s what God says: “Whoever shuts his ears at the cry of the poor will cry out himself and not be answered” (Prov 21:13). Sometimes, Kevin, those who are last warn the Body of Christ against those who seek to be first.

    In the case of New Calvinism, the “little guy” is right! Being little and poor, but a nobody who is somebody in Christ, has its advantages. Too often, those who run with the big dogs are influenced by their idols and can’t see what the little guys see so clearly.

    God give us more poor folks who carry your burden for what has come into the church. God give us more no-name weeping prophets who will sound the alarm in 2016!

  15. Congratulations on a great year, TWW! You exhibit grace in adversity and provide a safe place for people to express opinions that they may not be able to express in their church or home. No idea is ridiculed.
    Pastors, churches, doctrines and even the bible have failed to convince me that there is any merit to Christianity. It is Christians living values such as kindness, tolerance and a strong sense of justice that keep me from being truly a “done”. So if you want to add “mission field” to you manifesto, I’ll attest to it.

  16. Bill M wrote:

    Just recently I’ve run into several people use the term “covering”, thankfully not in the church I’m attending. It gives me heebie jeebies, I’ll need to research it to see why it bothers me.

    My former “church” was big on “covering.” Imagine my surprise to find it’s spreading like an epidemic in Christian circles. For starters, take a look at this book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Under-Cover-Promise-Protection-Authority/dp/0785269916
    Check out all the five star reviews. People are lapping this up! I’m sure the author has all the proof-texts to show how Biblical™ it is.

  17. Max wrote:

    “Do not assume the little guy is always right.” (Kevin DeYoung)

    I don’t really have a problem with this statement if one views it standing alone. Of course the little guy is not always right, the big guy is not always wrong.

    The problem I have is that in celebrity neocalvinist “christianity”, in which DeYoung is at least a minor player, the big guys are by doctrine and belief always right and their word beyond contestation, because they are God’s chosen voice to the people. When you have people who actually believe such evil and deluded nonsense, they will almost invariably do the worst possible things, because they make themselves the mediators between God and man. Thus, they are always wrong, because even if right, it will be a matter of pure accident, because their paradigm is so fatally flawed.

  18. numo wrote:

    Been there, fone that (no pun intended).

    I remember you had experience with this, too. One thing I noticed, the “coverings” *never* take any responsibility for anything that goes wrong even though they were supposed to be “covering” it. Anyone who puts themselves under a “covering” will end up taking the blame for the “covering’s” mistakes.

  19. Law Prof wrote:

    … the big guys are by doctrine and belief always right and their word beyond contestation, because they are God’s chosen voice to the people.

    And no where does DeYoung, and his idol Al Mohler, make it more clear that they are “right” than in this video clip on New Calvinism:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6lRMMvNCn8

    Where else are they going to go?! Every time I watch this, I’m reminded that arrogance is not a spiritual gift.

  20. “Except I tend towards egalitarianism”
    +++++++++++++++++

    Hi, Dee. Thank you for this great synthesis of information. You and Deb are incredible.

    I have a question. To me, when I hear ‘I trend towards egalitariamism’, it sounds like a soft stance, not entirely settled on the matter. As if you leave yourself open, even just a smidge to the legitimacy of the 49/51 rule based solely on gender.

    I hate, probably as much as you, being forced to wear labels. However, on this subject, why not be straightforward? why not use words that categorically reject ‘power of the gospel peepee‘ (as an anatomical alternative)?

    Perhaps there is other language, besides the words/labels forced on us, to describe your position.

  21. Law Prof wrote:

    hus, they are always wrong, because even if right, it will be a matter of pure accident, because their paradigm is so fatally flawed.

    Bingo! Thank you for articulating this!

    They have used the one on so many people. Getting them to agree with a statement or such and using that as a springboard for their brand of supposed “unity”. The problem has always been that their system/foundational operating system is bad. So even when they are right, they are right for the wrong reasons.

  22. refugee wrote:

    Reminds me of Bill Gothard’s umbrella of authority, somehow.

    “Take your workbook and turn with me
    To the chapter on Authority;
    Do you top the Chain of Command?
    Rule your family with an Iron Hand?

    Because a Good Wife learns to cower
    Beneath the Umbrella of Power;
    Under cover of Heaven’s Gate —
    I. MANIPULATE.
    — Steve Taylor, “I Manipulate”

  23. “I do not believe that self avowed complementarian marriages demonstrate the relationship between Christ and his church any better that any decent marriage, complementarian or otherwise.”

    Exactly. If one of the comps observed my marriage, they wouldn’t know whether I’m comp or egal unless they asked because functionally I think most comp marriages look like egal marriages in day to day life. And it’s in day to day life that one’s doctrine truly lives.

  24. Lydia wrote:

    Getting them to agree with a statement or such and using that as a springboard for their brand of supposed “unity”. The problem has always been that their system/foundational operating system is bad. So even when they are right, they are right for the wrong reasons.

    “What do you mean, ‘The System is broken?’
    IT WORKS JUST FINE FOR MEEEEEEEEEE!”

  25. Tim wrote:

    Exactly. If one of the comps observed my marriage, they wouldn’t know whether I’m comp or egal unless they asked because functionally I think most comp marriages look like egal marriages in day to day life. And it’s in day to day life that one’s doctrine truly lives.

    But “day to day life” is Meatspace Reality.
    And Reality can never be permitted to override Ideology!

  26. I am doing better today that yesterday. I did have a very rough night, which was to expected. I have about 13 stitches running the length of my foot. I am still in a lot of pain. My doctor has been in touch with me several times. I am on bed rest for awhile. I will be having my own New Year’s Eve party tonight, having my prescribed drugs for pain control. I don’t want anybody to join me in this. I so appreciate all my friends and family praying for me.

  27. Tim wrote:

    Exactly. If one of the comps observed my marriage, they wouldn’t know whether I’m comp or egal unless they asked because functionally I think most comp marriages look like egal marriages in day to day life. And it’s in day to day life that one’s doctrine truly lives.

    And that, to Russell Moore, is a problem. As he said,

    What I fear is that we have many people in evangelicalism who can check off “complementarian” on a box but who really aren’t living out complementarian lives. Sometimes I fear we have marriages that are functionally egalitarian, because they are within the structure of the larger society. If all we are doing is saying “male headship” and “wives submit to your husbands,” but we’re not really defining what that looks like . . . in this kind of culture, when those things are being challenged, then it’s simply going to go away

    – discussed previously here: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/01/13/why-complementarianism-will-implode-the-sbcs-erlc-patriarch-paves-the-way/

  28. @ Josh:
    You know Josh, Russ Moore has not mentioned gender roles since he named prez of the SBC’s ELRC and hobnobbing with the media establishment. It was his pet Gospel issue at SBTS. I find that curious.

  29. Bill M wrote:

    Just recently I’ve run into several people use the term “covering”, thankfully not in the church I’m attending. It gives me heebie jeebies, I’ll need to research it to see why it bothers me.

    I once heard a Messianic Jew preach with all certainty and conviction that Hadassah (Esther) couldn’t have done what she did without Mordecai as her ‘covering’.

  30. @ Lydia:
    I didn’t notice that he’d turned down the volume on gender roles after taking on his role at ERLC. But I wonder if he’s changed his mind about the level of emphasis that topic deserves, or whether he’s simply de-emphasizing it to not take the focus away from the issues du jour of transpanic with a side of homo-oh-no-they-di’int.

  31. “….suggestions for things to discuss in the coming year”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    Jesus?

    the historical Jesus
    the emotional/psychological Jesus
    what his life was like
    what his experiences were like
    his personality
    how he lived his life
    what he said, what he did,
    what he didn’t say, what he didn’t do
    what his education would have consisted of
    what his life was like prior to his public ministry years (his skills/jobs)

    what he looked like?

    I’m curious about a million things, including this one. I did a little research — what I came up with was that nothing is conclusive, the commentary that exists is not necessarily reliable. But it included things like

    -he was taller than his peers, and had a slight stooped carriage
    -bright eyes (hazel or blue)
    -beautiful, amazing, unforgettable eyes
    -beautiful hands and arms

    Jesus has disappeared from his namesake religion. I miss him. I want to get to know him again — of course that can’t really happen without my personal, spiritual pursuit. but it sure would be great to dialogue about him and him only now and then.

    maybe one post a week? simply devoted to Jesus — not theologically focussed so much as Jesus the human being, Jesus the communicator, Jesus the friend, Jesus the son and brother, Jesus the kind and humble and compassionate person, Jesus the brave & challenging radical, etc.

  32. Law Prof wrote:

    Max wrote:

    “Do not assume the little guy is always right.” (Kevin DeYoung)

    I don’t really have a problem with this statement if one views it standing alone. Of course the little guy is not always right, the big guy is not always wrong.

    The problem I have is that in celebrity neocalvinist “christianity”, in which DeYoung is at least a minor player, the big guys are by doctrine and belief always right and their word beyond contestation, because they are God’s chosen voice to the people. When you have people who actually believe such evil and deluded nonsense, they will almost invariably do the worst possible things, because they make themselves the mediators between God and man. Thus, they are always wrong, because even if right, it will be a matter of pure accident, because their paradigm is so fatally flawed.

    Absolutely…and when I explain this to people when they ask why I no longer attend church, they look at me like I am from another planet and have a third eye….what’s the deal with people now? Do they not see what’s going on?

  33. @ elastigirl:

    Fascinating questions elastigirl. I’ve often wondered pretty much the same. And yeah I agree, theological stuff can get as snore inducing as a bad novel.

  34. Max wrote:

    “Do not assume the little guy is always right.” (Kevin DeYoung)

    I don’t like Kevin deciding who is the little guy. In the grander scheme Kevin is likely the little twit, not fit to shine the shoes of the “little guy” he devalues.

  35. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Check out all the five star reviews. People are lapping this up! I’m sure the author has all the proof-texts to show how Biblical™ it is.

    Thankfully not all drink the kool-aid, the top negative review posted on Amazon titled “Spiritual Poison” starts off with: “This is one of the most abusive and manipulative teachings under the classification “Christian literature” that I have ever read”.

  36. mirele wrote:

    I was reading about the poet Joseph Brodsky, a Russian Jew who became an American citizen and Poet Laureate. At age 23, he was charged with “social parasitism,” because he wrote poetry and it wasn’t all to the glory of the Soviet state. He ended up getting tossed out of Russia less than 10 years later.

    I’m so glad you mentioned Joseph Brodsky, who was my teacher and later my friend. He was indeed Jewish, and persecuted as such by the Soviet authorities. On two occasions, however, he told me that he was a Christian–even though he viewed the Christian intellectual tradition as inferior to those of Judaism and Islam.

    Joseph was an astonishingly complicated and intelligent person, and thus the details of his religious views defy easy categorization. Still, he called himself a Christian. His funeral was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

    If you read only one thing by Joseph Brodsky, I recommend his essay “In a Room and a Half,” in Less Than One: Selected Essays. This work earned the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986. Brodsky was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987. He was a very nice man, always kind and helpful to younger people who were trying to make their way in the world.

  37. @ elastigirl:

    “….suggestions for things to discuss in the coming year”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    Jesus?
    +++++++++++++

    what I mean is, i’d love to enter an alternate reality now & then where paul doesn’t exist and we can dialogue solely about jesus.

  38. @ elastigirl:

    “what his life was like prior to his public ministry years (his skills/jobs)”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    England has a long-held tradition that Jesus came to England in his younger years with his great uncle Joseph of Arimathea (Mary’s uncle). It’s the basis of their song “Jerusalem”, kind of close to national anthem status. (Englanders you can correct me here, if i’m a little off).

    if you’re as intrigued with the historical Jesus as I am, this is just to whett your appetite: Per http://asis.com/users/stag/chrstbrt.html:

    Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of the Virgin Mary. He was Jesus’ great uncle. Joseph was a rich merchant with a large fleet of ships that ran the tin trade for the Roman Empire, between England and the Mediterranean.

    As Jesus’ great uncle, Joseph became Jesus’ Guardian (by Law, as next of kin) when Mary’s husband Joseph died early in Jesus’ life. He took Jesus with him on his journeys to Glastonbury, England. The place we know as Avalon; the King Arthur Avalon. This is the location of the first Christian church built above ground.

    ABSENT EVIDENCE

    If Jesus was indeed absent from Judea from age twelve to age thirty, as some believe, we should be able to find evidence that this was the case. In Matt 17 Jesus was being asked for the Stranger’s tax. They seemed aware that Jesus lived in Capernaum. They didn’t know if he was exempt from the tax, having been gone for a long time.
    John the Baptist, who was Jesus’ cousin, and spent time with Jesus as they grew up, was very uncertain as to Jesus’ identity at his baptism. If Jesus had spent the “lost years” in Judea, he and John would certainly have seen each other at the three yearly Feasts.
    Then we find two accounts of Jesus’ identity being questioned. “Is this not Joseph’s son?” “Brought up here?” (Luke 4) “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt 14) And in John 1 we find that Nathaniel, who only lived five miles from Nazareth, doesn’t know Jesus. Capt says that Nathaniel was from Cana.

    JESUS’ VISITS

    Of Jesus’ visits to England, scattered evidence abounds. Here’s a short scenario from C.C. Dobson

    “As a boy He was brought merely for a visit by Joseph of Arimathea on one of his voyages. Later as a young man He returned and settled at Glastonbury for the purpose of quiet study, prayer, and meditation. Here He erected for Himself a small house of mud and wattles. ” Dobson goes on to present historical evidence.

    ….& there’s more.

    And so I wonder… how would these experiences have shaped Jesus the human being? I mean, he didn’t live in a me-God vacuum.

    so much to explore…. & so gratifying and helpful to explore it through dialogue (at least in part)

  39. Muff Potter wrote:

    I once heard a Messianic Jew preach with all certainty and conviction that Hadassah (Esther) couldn’t have done what she did without Mordecai as her ‘covering’.

    A lot of “Messianic Jews” are better described as “Calvary Chapel or IFB with Hebrew buzzwords – ‘HAVE YOU ACCEPTED YESHUA HA-MOSHIYAH AS YOUR PERSONAL ADONAI AND SAVIOR?????'”

  40. elastigirl wrote:

    It’s the basis of their song “Jerusalem”, kind of close to national anthem status. (Englanders you can correct me here, if i’m a little off).

    Suitably invited, here goes.

    It’s not quite correct to say that England has a long-held tradition. If I might speak bluntly, a crackpot minority in the middle ages started a fringe superstition that Jesus visited Britain. This ideology has a name – “British Israelism” – and is one plank of a more ambitious theory that the British are the descendants of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, and therefore have a unique privileged place in the eternal purposes of God.

    I’m sure you can see the delusion-inducing power of such a notion.

    Like any conspiracy theory or conspiracy-like theory, it has its band of devoted adherents who will support it no matter what, and naturally they present circumstantial and cherry-picked “historical evidence” which on closer inspection always falls over without being knocked. (For instance, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? refers to the fact that the villagers DID know who Jesus was and were astonished at the idea that he was suddenly talking about fulfilling ancient prophecies.) While it is certainly interesting to ponder what life as a teenager was like for Jesus, and how it would have influenced him, it is neither interesting nor productive to do it through this lens. British Israelism is unmitigated rubbish.

    William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem” was set to music by Hubert Parry, but Parry was less than totally enthusiastic about the words as he felt they took patriotism to an unhealthy extreme. Undoubtedly, though, it is Parry’s fabulous tune that is responsible for Jerusalem’s popularity; if it had been set to Kumbaya, nobody would even bother laughing at it.

    England has no official national anthem – instead, we use the British national anthem, God Save the Queen. The idea of a monarchy as an institution is certainly not universally accepted in the UK and, quite apart from its therefore slightly contentious politics, the tune is as boring as heck. Thus, at the Commonwealth Games when England competes separately from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and needs its own national anthem, it’s no surprise that alternatives are sought. Edward Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory is also popular, and has been used in the recent past; but Jerusalem has been the (narrow) popular choice in the last decade.

    IHTIH.

  41. Muff Potter wrote:

    Hadassah (Esther) couldn’t have done what she did without Mordecai as her ‘covering’.

    The yeast of the Pharisees. It grows and grows until it leavens the whole lump of dough.

  42. Jeff Chalmers wrote:

    I would like see a definition of “little guy”

    5’9″, balding, keen on the outdoors, and extraordinarily wise and important (though few people are able to recognise the fact).

  43. Bill M wrote:

    I don’t like Kevin deciding who is the little guy.

    This is a very good point. I don’t know Kevin of Young well enough to comment on his importance, but regardless, God has a well-documented habit of attaching importance to what prominent men despise.

  44. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Check out all the five star reviews. People are lapping this up! I’m sure the author has all the proof-texts to show how Biblical™ it is.

    Those reviews are probably written by friends, colleagues, family and associates of the author, as well as a smattering of true believers who adhere to those same abusive doctrines.

    There are garden variety lies, lies that stink from the fires of hell, and then, all the way down the spectrum, Amazon reviews of pseudo-christian books.

  45. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    My former “church” was big on “covering.” Imagine my surprise to find it’s spreading like an epidemic in Christian circles. For starters, take a look at this book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Under-Cover-Promise-Protection-Authority/dp/0785269916

    Interesting timing, just yesterday someone pointed out to me an authoritarian Harvest Church in Idaho and while reading a few stories of refugees from there I noted the leaders were quite big on this book that you just mentioned.

  46. Jeff Chalmers wrote:

    I would like see a definition if “little guy”

    In DeYoung’s blog piece, the section pertaining to the “little guy” notes the following “Every blogger, every tweeter, every Christian in this digital age would do well to pray through the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of the ninth commandment.” Most of us will probably not go looking for this 16th century reformed document just because Mr. DeYoung demands it! He is is essentially sending a message that anyone out there who expresses a concern about the shenanigans going on in New Calvinism is a “little guy” and, thereby, not worthy to listen to. Folks who dictate such counsel to other Christians obviously view themselves more highly than they ought; their words are intended to control, manipulate, intimidate, and silence dissenting voices. Calvin was a master of this in Geneva.

  47. elastigirl wrote:

    what I mean is, i’d love to enter an alternate reality now & then where paul doesn’t exist and we can dialogue solely about jesus.

    I’m in

  48. @ Josh:
    The issue does not play well nationally. He is now focused on race and Trump. He is outraged by Trump. I wonder why Driscoll did not outrage him the same way? Funny how they pick and choose depending on the audience.

  49. elastigirl wrote:

    the historical Jesus

    NT Wright has said each generation must research the historical Jesus. The lack of such allowed Him to become a European anti Semite to many.

  50. Friend wrote:

    I’m so glad you mentioned Joseph Brodsky, who was my teacher and later my friend.

    Friend on,
    Thanks for this interesting information on Joseph Brodsky. I had never heard of the man but am always interested in expanding my mind. He sounds like a fascinating man. I ordered the book you suggested, plus “Collected Poems in English” and “Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life.”

  51. ‘boring as heck’ indeed yes! Living as I do in Hong Kong I do have to say that apart from the words which I can never remember not speaking Mandarin, I really enjoy the tune of our ‘new’ national anthem! Although I have to say, joking apart, that the Brits should be proud of their queen’s faith. I had no idea she was a believer, yet twice now I have been directed to listen to her Christmas speech and both times she has come across as a real woman of faith.

  52. And then of course there are the ideas that the so-called missing years of Jesus were spent in India (whatever it was called then) and the idea that he spent time in some Essene community. Not to forget the former LDS idea that the native americans are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. Who know what all else people have dreamed up in this area?

    We do not actually know much about the historical Jesus, and what we do know can be a tricky marsh for christians because it becomes easy to see how the early followers of Jesus fell to quarreling about who and what he actually was-only a man but perhaps one used by God, only a divine person who just seemed to be human, some combination of that? Bright minds recently from Schweitzer on have been slogging through that marsh for some time now without terribly much to show for it, in my opinion, except that some of them arrive at personal opinions that do not sound very much like ‘traditional’ christian thought on the matter.

    And Tom Wright also has some opinions that do not sound much like traditional thought on some things for that matter. Just saying.

  53. I was thinking that any ‘church’ that has to use a legal contract to ‘protect its leaders from the congregation’ and to ‘legally en-forced certain obligations onto members’ . . . that is not a ‘church’ in the Christian sense, no

    what is it, actually? a cult? a corporation to make money for its leaders and board members? or something that is capable of fostering unspeakable evil while justifying it as ‘biblical’?

    ? I ask because I can’t fathom this whole membership ‘contract’ thing. I wonder what happens to people who refuse to sign ? Are they sent packing? Or do they become pariahs to be ‘worked on’ within the faith community?

    If people’s discernment doesn’t pick up on how unwholesome these contracts can become, they are more vulnerable than ‘sheep’ among wolves . . . very sad business, this.

  54. elastigirl wrote:

    i’d love to enter an alternate reality now & then where paul doesn’t exist and we can dialogue solely about jesus

    There’s plenty for Christians to talk about Jesus written in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)! Paul doesn’t show up until the book of Acts. New Calvinists place way too much emphasis on Paul, at the expense of Jesus. It’s as if their Bible begins in Romans. I counsel young folks ensnared by New Calvinism to read the Gospels first – the writings of Paul then come into perspective (even the cherry-picked verses from Paul’s epistles which NC leaders use to shore up reformed theology).

  55. @ okrapod:

    I was thinking “historical’ in the sense of the back drop of the era. There is quite a bit we can read in terms of political, cultural, social, etc, that might help us better understand the audience and environment for which the scripture was written. I think the Roman occupation plays into more of the NT than what has been the “traditional” understanding.

    I am not impressed with what passes for tradition as most of it comes from Protestant (such as Geneva) or Catholic (Dark Ages) tradition and political “councils’. Anyway, not everyone finds the historical aspect interesting and it does serve to generate even more questions.

  56. Pingback: Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities ~ 10 Trend Projections and Predictions for 2016-2020 | futuristguy UNITED STATES

  57. Christiane wrote:

    . I wonder what happens to people who refuse to sign ? Are they sent packing? Or do they become pariahs to be ‘worked on’ with

    I have wondered what happens in a stealth takeover. If someone who is a longstanding member wants to stay, but refuses to sign a covenant/contract, what then????

  58. Max wrote:

    New Calvinists place way too much emphasis on Paul, at the expense of Jesus. It’s as if their Bible begins in Romans.

    Tee hee hee! Ever since I read about Robert Morris believing that Paul was “under the influence”, I’ve thought, “Well, now wouldn’t that render Paul’s writings invalid???”

  59. Nancy2 wrote:

    I have wondered what happens in a stealth takeover. If someone who is a longstanding member wants to stay, but refuses to sign a covenant/contract, what then????

    The young whippersnappers who are taking over traditional Southern Baptist churches in my area don’t give a big whoop about longstanding members. They want them to leave, whether they say that or not. They effectively can’t be members if they don’t sign the membership contract, since they won’t covenant with the takeover terms … even if they’ve been established members of the church for decades! Believe me, the old folks who have only known a whosoever-will Gospel don’t want to stay when they understand that Calvinist belief and practice has come into the camp. When the old folks leave, they are shunned in the community. These young rebels have no problem with deceiving their way into non-Calvinist pulpits – knowing full well that it can lead to a church split – as long as they end up with the church building to claim as a jewel for the new reformation. God never blesses rebellion.

  60. For those interested, I just posted an article on “Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities ~ 10 Trend Projections and Predictions for 2016-2020.” This is the first trends post I’ve done in a few years. (I’ve been writing about spiritual abuse since 2008, and have done trend posts since 2012.)

    If you follow The Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board, and Warren Throckmorton, there probably won’t be many surprises in my post. But I think it gives a different perspective, with rounding up where we’ve been in recent years, and applying strategic foresight speculation into where we may be going given how past trends intersect with current events.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/spiritual-abuse-survivor-communities-10-trend-projections-and-predictions-for-2016-2020/

    P.S. Maybe the most intriguing things in the post are a couple terms I think I’ve coined:

    * Abuse’s “Toxic Trinity of AMP” — Authoritarianism, Monetarism, and Patriarchalism.

    * “Calvingelical ATM” for a particular source of funding.

  61. @ Nancy2:

    Even without a contract to sign there are plenty of ways to get people to leave. I have seen this recently in my former church.

    1. Divide and conquer. There is always a contingent who support the “pastor” no matter what. Especially the pulpit committee who knew nothing about the YRR movement. Saving face is a factor. Those who question teaching or changes are marginalized as enemies. (The YRR are extremely thin skinned and play victim well)

    2. Get rid of events/programs led by the pew sitters. Become a staff led church. Bring in seminary friends to teach youth as volunteers. Do the same with other ministries such as children, mission groups, etc. People are slow to question these things.

    3. Target the children/youth of parents who have not fully bought into the pastor or the changes. Start nitpicking the kids. This one works beautifully. It can be as overt as calling the parent to report that little Johhny did not memorize the verse assigned to the more covert of leaving them out. I know four families who left over this one. Not one of them were coddling parents. this one is hard to prove but you know when it is happening to you. That is just another reason I call this stuff evil. Deception is always evil.

    4. Get rid of any staff not totally on board and bring in your own people as volunteers (seminary students) until they can be hired, that way it is not so obvious.

    The beauty of all this is the typical Christian thinks it is a sin to point out any negative. The other is they have a hard time proving what they are seeing because those marginalized think it is a sin to speak up. They go quietly. Even those who are unhappy, stay, and say nothing. An increase in snipping at each other occurs because no one will blame the pastor for the increasingly negative environment. That would be a sin, sigh.

    All of this can take 2 years. It is like the old boiling a frog tactic. No membership covenant required although I think it is coming. And they will have been made ready.

  62. elastigirl wrote:

    ….you rained on my historical jesus parade.

    Well here’s an umbrella for both of us:
    The Apostle John closes his Gospel by saying that much the stuff about, and many of the additional exploits of Jesus were not written down.

  63. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    Thanks for this interesting information on Joseph Brodsky. I had never heard of the man but am always interested in expanding my mind. He sounds like a fascinating man. I ordered the book you suggested

    Enjoy!

  64. Max wrote:

    New Calvinists place way too much emphasis on Paul, at the expense of Jesus.

    It’s not just the Neo Cals. Have you ever been involved with Calvary Chapel?
    Paul is the absolute gold-standard and theeee mouth piece for Jesus there too, almost as if he’s a sort of new Moses to the Gentiles with the Almighty still thundering out of Horeb through him.
    Don’t get me wrong, Paul has many great and wonderful things to say, but in my opinion, and for me personally, moderation is the key.

  65. Muff Potter wrote:

    The Apostle John closes his Gospel by saying that much the stuff about, and many of the additional exploits of Jesus were not written down.

    Some people say that this statement in scripture goes toward validating the oral tradition-the fact that not everything was written down even though the writers of the gospels were aware of the fact that there were other things which could have been said.

    Personally I think that it goes toward the idea that not only do we not have all the information but also that we do not need to have all the information in order to believe.

    Either that or somebodies (plural) early on did some really sloppy work when it came to writing things down, and if that is the case then we might have to conclude that failure to believe may be the only rational conclusion. That is if, and only if, we have to have all the information in order to believe.

  66. Lydia wrote:

    There is always a contingent who support the “pastor”… Those who question teaching or changes are marginalized …
    Get rid of events/programs led by the pew sitters. Become a staff led church. Bring in seminary friends … People are slow to question these things. … I call this stuff evil. Deception is always evil.

    Amen, I saw very similar methods, especially the deception. In my case some of us suspect an NPD at work and are surprising how quickly it was accomplished. There were some aware of what was going on and left but some of those aware stayed behind, one saying “I don’t want to be run off”. Unfortunately after a while it appears he no longer speaks of the concern. Similar to walking into a room that stinks, if you settle down and get comfortable you no longer smell it. You don’t have to ignore it because other than an occasional whiff you no longer smell it.

    I recently found that R. Glen Ball and Darrell Puls have co-authored a book “Let Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do About It” and are looking for a publisher. Puls refers to research by his partners: (Dr. Glenn Bell and Professor Ingrid Buch-Wagler) “have very convincing field research that says 32.1% of ALL pastors have this illness”.

  67. @ Bill M:

    Oh I like the stinky room illustration! I would love to read that book. I also think some of the narcissistic tendencies are “movement” induced with the young. I see this with many SBTS grads/students. This is not unusual with movements that target the young in particular. It is usually no big deal unless they are given titles, money and power right away!

    History had some scary examples of this.

  68. Muff Potter wrote:

    Don’t get me wrong, Paul has many great and wonderful things to say, but in my opinion, and for me personally, moderation is the key.

    Exactly! Even Paul tried to steer believers off the path of Paul-worship (a characteristic of New Calvinism), when he said:

    “Was it Paul who died on the cross for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul?
    It makes me thankful that I didn’t actually baptize any of you (except Crispus and Gaius), or perhaps someone would be saying I did it in my own name. For Christ did not send me to see how many I could baptize, but to proclaim the Gospel. And I have not done this by the persuasiveness of clever words, for I have no desire to rob the cross of its power” (I Corinthians 1:13-17).

    The over-emphasis of Paul by New Calvinists approaches heresy … the systematic theology of Calvinism robs the cross of its power. Whosoever will may come!

  69. Bill M wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    I recently found that R. Glen Ball and Darrell Puls have co-authored a book “Let Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do About It” and are looking for a publisher. Puls refers to research by his partners: (Dr. Glenn Bell and Professor Ingrid Buch-Wagler) “have very convincing field research that says 32.1% of ALL pastors have this illness”.

    If you are a narcissist where could you find a career in your 20’s that gives you instant respectability with a title conferred by completing seminary (or not) instant credibility as a “Christian”, an audience hanging on your every word, followers to lead AND paid for it? Not only that but you can add in the instant martyr affect of their great sacrifice.

    Ministry is very attractive to these types. It did not used to be so much because it was not so glamorous. That has changed over the last 30 years as Christian marketing is now its own industrial complex. Church is a launching pad to build your brand while others pay your bills.

    I think this is one reason the crops of YRR coming out of seminary were not interested in IMB missions. They changed the meaning to “church planting” where they would be in authority even in a small plant.

  70. Lydia wrote:

    Ministry is very attractive to these types.

    Your statement is an indictment of the modern church. Just that it attracts such scurrilous types is an indication that the structure is badly broken.

    A younger fellow recently joined our consulting group, we’re in IT, and he had attended seminary. One time I was telling of my concern of NPDs “pastors” and his response was “oh yeah”, he had seen a lot of it in his seminary peers. Neither my church experience nor his seminary experience was YRR, the problem is endemic and beyond reformed theology.

    In my case the governance of the former church was very centralized, pastors appointed by a superintendent similar to a bishop. The “pastors” were the sole elders and there was little or no oversight. The new 30 something “pastor” actually came from a PCUSA pastors family, comparatively a more liberal theology and a democratic local governance. I figure his attraction to my former denomination was that it was easy pickings.

    Recently I had lunch with someone who also left and we identified the governance issue and decided we had not chosen well when we joined.

  71. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    10 Trend Projections and Predictions for 2016-2020

    In many ways your list provides hope. Only in this last year have I become aware of the issues referred to in your post and only after leaving a church that I had attended for decades.

    When I first encountered TWW and the useful material at your site I didn’t know if such resources were always available. Had I and most everyone I knew been oblivious? Yes. But is there a growing recognition of the problems and are these blogs the herald of badly needed correctives emerging?

  72. Lydia wrote:

    I also think religious abuse will be formalized as a category for therapy.

    Thanks Lydia. As to formal category for therapy, it seems like it’s getting to the fullness of time for that. A lot of issues and resources have come into place. For instance, the crucial concepts of grooming and conditioning have gotten more onto the public and media radar (maybe more from major child sexual abuse scandals of recent years, but then that’s the point where the similarities among forms of abuse help build potential understanding and empathy). There’s more awareness in media about narcissism and sociopathology, And now the testimony and recovery materials about spiritual abuse specifically are helping fill in many of the specific dynamics that are particular to Christian churches, ministries, and non-profits. I’m sure someone could do their doctoral dissertation on the malignant shading of the truly biblical meaning of *guilt* in order to manipulate followers with *false guilt*, and what the truly biblical antidotes are.

    Yeah, the fullness of time … and some providential people will come along who have a passion for these issues and those affected by them, and voila!

    Maybe some of the “dones” will be part of this.

  73. Bill M wrote:

    […] there a growing recognition of the problems and are these blogs the herald of badly needed correctives emerging?

    I think so, Bill. One of my previous posts on trends talked about getting to a certain threshold before some things can happen. And I think we’ve gotten there on basic resources for recovery.

    Thankfully, there’s far more hope and help available now than when I endured a traumatizing church split in the late 1970s, when there were no real helps on spiritual abuse. I had a crisis of faith in which I had to decide if I would follow Jesus, regardless of what had happened to me in a high-demand, legalistic, authoritarian church — or conclude that Christianity was a crock. It would be another 13 years or so until the first editions were published for *Toxic Faith* by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton, *The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse* by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen, and *Churches that Abuse* by Ronald Enroth.

    Also, I’m glad you saw my 2016-2020 trends post as hopeful. One thing that should define a Christian futurist is instilling hope. (Another is helping individuals and groups discern and decide for themselves what is their most preferable pathway forward amidst various possibilities — given the resources they have, the challenges they face, and the opportunities for Kingdom ministry available.) Ironically, bringing people this kind of hope and help seems to require descending into the depths of dystopia, and surviving the experiences by God’s grace and with the support of people who serve as advocates of our healing.

  74. Lydia wrote:

    They changed the meaning to “church planting” where they would be in authority even in a small plant.

    This reminds me of Milton, “it is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven” Best delivered by Ricardo Montalban as Khan in the original Star Trek series, not to be confused with the lame portrayal of same in the last movie.

  75. @ brad/futuristguy:
    I did my own bit of research a few years ago. I called over 100 secular therapists/counselors/psychologists in my area asking if they aware of spiritual abuse (I also called it sanctuary abuse or religious abuse) and only one was aware it was a “thing”. I did this for a reason. People need resources.

  76. Bill M wrote:

    Neither my church experience nor his seminary experience was YRR, the problem is endemic and beyond reformed theology.

    My first interaction with it was with seeker megas over 10 years ago. The only reason YRR is so focused on right now is they are the big kid on the block for now.

    I thought I was going nuts. Was I the only one who just knew something was wrong but could not really put my finger on the overarching problem? Or did a lot of people simply ignore it? No one talked about it. There is a lot of cult of personality/group think going on in that world. People actually see it as piety to go along.

    In the seeker world the actual acts of authoritarianism were better hidden behind the curtain. In the YRR world, authoritarianism is pretty much ingrained in the doctrine. Calvin was not exactly into individual freedoms or soul competency. :o)

  77. Bill M wrote:

    Recently I had lunch with someone who also left and we identified the governance issue and decided we had not chosen well when we joined.

    This is my contention. I blame myself. As I look back, there were plenty of red flags out there that should have kept me from getting involved but I also had the lure of training/consulting contracts. It was a creepy world and one I won’t go near again. At least I learned my lesson well….the hard way.

    But I am convinced that had I really known Jesus Christ in a real more personal way, I would never have been involved. I hope I would have seen it for what it is. He is not impressed with big buildings, charlatan pastors and all the accoutrements that go along with that world. Matthew 7 became very real to me after that time.

  78. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    British Israelism

    Which became A Thing in the US, due to the original Worldwide Church of God and Herbert W. Armstrong. Really popular during the 70s-80s, too.

  79. Bill M wrote:

    Interesting timing, just yesterday someone pointed out to me an authoritarian Harvest Church in Idaho and while reading a few stories of refugees from there I noted the leaders were quite big on this book that you just mentioned.

    I’ve been reading those stories. One of the primary tools to promote “covering” is mandatory “encounter” retreats, reminding me at first glance of EST seminars. If I had the energy I’d show up this Sunday morning and give them a 2016 profit-see.

  80. Bill M wrote:

    Just recently I’ve run into several people use the term “covering…”

    It’s a definite red flag when someone asks, sincerely, “So, who’s your covering?”. In their mind, its rather like asking, ” Do you have an umbrella of authority?”

    Our little town was the birthplace of a particularly abusive organization, which ended up being shepherding on steroids, and it left a lot of wounded people. We have more than our shares of “Dones.”. Which makes it really important to avoid Christianese phrases. But its also got me wondering, how does one create safe places for the Dones?

  81. GSD wrote:

    It’s a definite red flag when someone asks, sincerely, “So, who’s your covering?”

    Or more peculiar, when they refer to you as their covering, whoa.

  82. FWIW, the February 2016 issue of Consumer Reports has an excellent article on face recognition software and mentions ChurchIX which got some pushback. My understanding the software can do much more than just track attendance. It can scan a group and determine the gender, age composition and race. Stores can then tailor real time marketing to appeal to a particular group in the store. A church could scan the congregation, retain the images and then scan again each time the congregation meets and compare the images to the stored images. The images of regular attendees could be identified. Big brother is watching!

  83. “suggestions for things to discuss in the coming year, let us know.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    oh, here’s a good one:

    a calculation for the dollar amount for which a neighborhood/town subsidizes a church in it’s environs.

    I have zero accounting acumen, but perhaps there are accountants in our midst who could do this. There’s a wall street article that addresses this on a national level — but what about telescoping down to the neighborhood?

    if a church and its members could see the realities, perhaps out-of-the-haze awareness could prick consciences & spur them on to get creative and industrious in pooling resources (financial, skills, labor) to come up with all kinds of things that will return measurable benefit to their community.

    I think this could generate some interesting and productive conversation.

    and perhaps could contribute to critical mass in churches/ministries running a more spartan ship. (that it could become standard for professional Christians [& all Christians] to live frugally, to wisely steward money & resources away from themselves.)

  84. Joe2 wrote:

    Stores can then tailor real time marketing to appeal to a particular group in the store.

    This was depicted in the movie, *Minority Report* when the main character has another person’s biometrics surgically implanted, and when he walks through a mall, scanners pick up on the implanted biometrics and “welcome” him with personalized special discounts and deals.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/

    “Personalization” and institutionalization without real relationship. Is that what this churchy software version is really about?

    To me, this still seems designed just to make it easier to determine quantitative measures of “success” — numbers of regular attenders, and the dollars that come in. How does any of this facilitate genuine discipleship, and the measure of qualitative impact of spiritual transformation in the lives of individuals, couples, families, communities? Or, does someone showing up regularly interpreted to mean they’re automatically being influenced and equipped for the Kingdom? Seems to me that would be a stretch …

  85. elastigirl wrote:

    “suggestions for things to discuss in the coming year, let us know.”
    +++++++++++++++++++
    oh, here’s a good one:
    a calculation for the dollar amount for which a neighborhood/town subsidizes a church in it’s environs.
    I have zero accounting acumen, but perhaps there are accountants in our midst who could do this.

    It’d be a pretty simple calculation, but of course one would have to have the data.

  86. I’ve been looking for an old link and came across this other page while I was looking:

    Will the real complementarian please stand up?
    http://thatmom.com/2012/07/13/will-the-real-complementarian-please-stand-up-2/

    From that page, this quote by a lady complementarian:

    “Authority is not the right to rule—it’s the responsibility to serve.”

    -Mary Kassian

    No. I don’t like it when groups of people, especially in religious conversations, re-define terms.

    The word “authority” does not mean “serve.”

    Complementarians really want it both ways.
    They do in fact teach that men are to be in authority over women, but want to soften this stance by re-defining the word “authority” to mean its opposite (to put one’s self in last place, or lower than another).

    And even in practice, this is not how they carry so-called male servant-hood (or husbandly headship) out:
    they teach that the man has final say so over the woman; a woman is to yield to whatever decision the man makes. The man gets authority over the woman in this situation; this is not servanthood.

    Saying that the word “authority” means “servant” is double-speak.

    It reminds me of Christian cults that take Christian terms but define them differently.

    The same blog page quotes the complementarian as saying:

    Kassian then concludes by saying “If you hear someone tell you that complementarity means you have to get married, have dozens of babies, be a stay-at-home housewife, clean toilets, completely forego a career, chuck your brain, tolerate abuse, watch “Leave it to Beaver” re-runs, bury your gifts, deny your personality, and bobble-head nod “yes” to everything men say, don’t believe her. That’s a straw (wo)man misrepresentation. It’s not complementarianism.”

    But that is precisely what some complementarians teach: that women (and especially wives) are to get married, have dozens of babies, be a SAHM, clean toilets, forgo a career, chuck your brain, tolerate abuse, etc etc etc.

    That is PRECISELY how some comps teach comp should be lived.

  87. Daisy wrote:

    The word “authority” does not mean “serve.” …Saying that the word “authority” means “servant” is double-speak…It reminds me of Christian cults that take Christian terms but define them differently.

    I think I know why this sort of obfuscation and misdirection reminds you of the activity of Christian cults, it is because most of the groups espousing complementarianism are Christian cults.

  88. elastigirl wrote:

    “suggestions for things to discuss in the coming year, let us know.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    oh, here’s a good one:

    a calculation for the dollar amount for which a neighborhood/town subsidizes a church in it’s environs.

    I have zero accounting acumen, but perhaps there are accountants in our midst who could do this. There’s a wall street article that addresses this on a national level — but what about telescoping down to the neighborhood?

    The tax assessor office for your community would most likely this information. This issue usually comes up when tax bills are prepared. You could start by contacting your assessor’s office and ask about the tax exempt property in your community.

  89. Daisy wrote:

    Saying that the word “authority” means “servant” is double-speak.

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
    It reminds me of Christian cults that take Christian terms but define them differently.
    My Dear Wormwood,
    I refer you to my previous epistle on Semantics — specifically, the redefinition of words into their “diabolical” meanings.
    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

  90. Daisy wrote:

    Saying that the word “authority” means “servant” is double-speak.

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

    It reminds me of Christian cults that take Christian terms but define them differently.

    My Dear Wormwood,
    I refer you to my previous epistle on Semantics — specifically, the redefinition of words into their “diabolical” meanings.
    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

    But that is precisely what some complementarians teach: that women (and especially wives) are to get married, have dozens of babies, be a SAHM, clean toilets, forgo a career, chuck your brain, tolerate abuse, etc etc etc.
    That is PRECISELY how some comps teach comp should be lived.

    Don’t forget always-available like a porn character whenever and however Hubby gets those Urges in his Areas — even if Widdle Wifey is puking her guts from morning sickness at the time (chuckle chuckle) or Hubby has a THING for both ends of the Alimentary Canal.

  91. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Not just a Scientology religious resource, but an apologist for Jonestown & David Koresh.

    I guess they figured nobody would look him up? Which isn’t likely since all members with Internet access must have Covenant Eyes installed to monitor their activity, and members smartphones are passcode protected by the ministers to lock down the browsers. I guess members could, theoretically, use a public computer at the library, but most of use just trustingly signed our names.

  92. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
    It reminds me of Christian cults that take Christian terms but define them differently.

    My Dear Wormwood,
    I refer you to my previous epistle on Semantics — specifically, the redefinition of words into their “diabolical” meanings.
    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

    You know how this gender complementarian “male servant leadership” works?

    Like this. Pretend I am a dude, and you are my wife, and I’m all,
    —–
    “Hey, as your servant leader, I’m asking you to submit and go make me a sandwich. Peel me grapes and feed them to me one at a time.

    I’ve decided that no, we’re not going to visit your mom at Thanksgiving this year.

    “After you feed me the grapes, rub my shoulders for awhile. Then go chop some wood so you can make us a fire later.

    “Take my car in next week to get the oil changed, and tomorrow, I want you to graciously submit to mowing the lawn tomorrow.”
    ———
    All that unilateral bossing around is done under the term “servant leadership.” How convenient.

    This sort of reminds me of the trickery Tom Sawyer uses to get other boys to do his fence painting chore for him,
    http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/how-did-tom-get-ben-paint-fence-93809

    I’ll just order you around all day but slap a misleading label on it like “servant leaderhood,” and reassure you that though I have all the control in the relationship, you are “equal in value” to me in being, and insist that the Bible teaches all this stuff.

    What a way to exploit people and sucker them into thinking it’s what God wants of them.

  93. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Not just a Scientology religious resource, but an apologist for Jonestown & David Koresh.

    I guess they figured nobody would look him up?

    With a track record like that, the guy’s a real piece of work.

  94. Daisy wrote:

    I’ll just order you around all day but slap a misleading label on it like “servant leaderhood,” and reassure you that though I have all the control in the relationship, you are “equal in value” to me in being, and insist that the Bible teaches all this stuff.

    Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Commodus, and Eleglabius all ruled in the name of The Senate and People of Rome.

    And North Korea is ruled In The Name of The People.

    As Screwtape said, Semantics and Redefinitions.

  95. Lydia wrote:

    Even without a contract to sign there are plenty of ways to get people to leave. I have seen this recently in my former church.

    These “takeovers have been going on for sometime. Rick Warren was instrumental in leading young ‘pastors’ in shanghaiing established denominational churches. Don Sutherland’s Church Transitions provided education & training for strategies on surreptitiously gaining complete control of denominational churches – something he claimed had successfully occurred on over 100,000 churches.

    Guidelines on how to replace lay leadership with ‘paid staff’, Sunday School replaced with ‘cell/small groups, etc. Add to that tithing and membership ‘covenants, and recommendations on how to deal with the recalcitrant (usually older, long-time members) who just weren’t catching the ‘vision.

    Southern Baptists were particularly hard hit by this program type.

  96. refugee wrote:

    Reminds me of Bill Gothard’s umbrella of authority, somehow.

    That’s exactly what it is.

    Nasty concept that was promulgated heavily via the shepherding/discipleship movement – which never really died, although it did appear to blow up. It is alive and well throughout churchdom today.

    Having been a swimmer in that particular cultish stream, I can testify that the mainline denominations and average church-attenders recognized it for the cultist behavior that it was – at that time.

    It is so very weird to see the denominations that actually helped keep those aberrant teachings contained then, are now walking down the very same hellish pathway now.

  97. @ BL:
    I have believed for a while now, the purpose driven tactics of Warren and Hybels got people buttered up for the Neo Cal takeover. Paid staff replacing the layperson was a brilliant stroke. It has worked beautifully.

    I can remember when the “transitioning the church” forum on pastors.com went pass protected. Reading those pastors talk about the “wolves” in the pews who dare question was enlightening before they realized some pew sitters were reading there and catching on.

    Rick Warren is right up there with Al Mohler in my book when it comes to tactics.

  98. Lydia wrote:

    Even without a contract to sign there are plenty of ways to get people to leave. I have seen this recently in my former church.

    These are called “Salami Tactics”, from when Stalin took over Eastern Europe after WW2.

    Always one more little slice of salami (who can it hurt?) until one day the Russian Bear has eaten it all — and you.

  99. Max wrote:

    These young rebels have no problem with deceiving their way into non-Calvinist pulpits – knowing full well that it can lead to a church split – as long as they end up with the church building to claim as a jewel for the new reformation.

    “Tomorrow belongs
    Tomorrow belongs
    Tomorrow Belongs to ME!”
    — Cabaret

  100. Law Prof wrote:

    Those reviews are probably written by friends, colleagues, family and associates of the author, as well as a smattering of true believers who adhere to those same abusive doctrines.

    Sock Puppets and Courtiers, all of whom personally benefit from those same abusive doctrines.

  101. Mara wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:

    Hadassah (Esther) couldn’t have done what she did without Mordecai as her ‘covering’.

    The yeast of the Pharisees. It grows and grows until it leavens the whole lump of dough.

    Though I think a better image today would be “The Virus of the Pharisees, infecting a cell.”

  102. BL wrote:

    It is so very weird to see the denominations that actually helped keep those aberrant teachings [on shepherding] contained then, are now walking down the very same hellish pathway now.

    Weird and sad, and it raises a disappointing possibility: the only reason they rejected it back then was that they didn’t invent it. Christians have this tendency to become attached to whatever was in existence when they first came to faith, and follow it as though it were eternal truth.

  103. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    “Christians have this tendency to become attached to whatever was in existence when they first came to faith, and follow it as though it were eternal truth.”
    +++++++++++++

    yes, very true. like, traditional hymns.

    (I can understand a preference for traditional hymns for what/how they are….. but they are no more a litmus test for authenticity than the man lead/woman submit thing)

  104. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Christians have this tendency to become attached to whatever was in existence when they first came to faith, and follow it as though it were eternal truth.

    Probably some people do that to excess. But also there is that thing about one’s first love. The letter to the church at Ephesus talks about no longer remembering one’s first love, even in spite of all the persevering and enduring and such. Or perhaps partly because of all the necessity to endure and persevere. But first love is easy to drift away from. And ‘repent’ which is the only remedy for the loss of first love which that particular text requires does not necessarily restore first love.

    But sometimes something comes along which reconnects with a time when first love was real and vital-like perhaps a certain song or whatever. And somehow the neurons remember some old paths from long ago and first love seems possible again. This happened to me at what I thought to be the last place on earth for remembering, and it was the music. Not the electronics on the stage but the pipe organ in the back, and not Wesley but Mozart and not English but Latin and there I sat a kid again and remembering first love. That there actually had been a time when I went to church thinking that somehow God was there is some sort of special way-not just because there was some immutable command to not forsake gathering together even if through gritted teeth. And I prayed fervently please don’t let me cry because I am sure that high church episcopalians do not cry, at least not in public. But I remembered first love.

    So I am thinking that if people can reconnect to first love through hymns or praise songs or whatever, more power to it all. But nobody needs to be trying to force everybody to do it all the same way, primarily because it is futile to do so.

  105. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    5’9″, balding, keen on the outdoors, and extraordinarily wise and important (though few people are able to recognise the fact).

    Thank you for your kind words …

  106. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    BL wrote:
    It is so very weird to see the denominations that actually helped keep those aberrant teachings [on shepherding] contained then, are now walking down the very same hellish pathway now.
    Weird and sad, and it raises a disappointing possibility: the only reason they rejected it back then was that they didn’t invent it. Christians have this tendency to become attached to whatever was in existence when they first came to faith, and follow it as though it were eternal truth.

    Not sure that is fair. I can tell you that where I come from it would have never occurred to folks or even the pastor that they should try to micromanage others adults. It just wasn’t done. There was a big focus on priesthood of believer and soul competency. But I now recognize that they also understood the importance disagreement and debate. Where everyone had a say and then they voted. That is one we seem to have lost.

  107. Bad news for those of us across at the Atlantic: The 9Marks is coming to a church near you in the UK 🙁

    This network (the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches) has made complementarianism their official line, favourable citing John Piper and Doug Wilson. Any church or individual that does agree is now excluded from membership. This is the UK equivalent of the EFCA or TGC.

    https://fiec.org.uk/news/article/growing-healthy-churches