A TWW Tutorial: Steve Estes of Community Evangelical Free Church (EFCA) Excommunicates Domestic Violence Victim Who Was Married to His Son

“I can no longer stay quiet in this world, I have a voice and I feel it reverberate off my internal walls, making its slow climb upward until its melody can be heard all around.” ― Elin Stebbins Waldal link

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David Bonner has been after me to write about the problems in the Evangelical Free Church of America. After reading his last two posts and talking with one of the people involved, I decided the time was now. I will be writing one more post on Shauna's situation and I have just received word about a situation at John MacArthur's church that bears discussing. All that should be coming in the next two or so weeks.

When I read the following story at David's blog, Wondering Eagle, I realized that it contained elements of a number of issues that have been covered by TWW in its 7 years of blogging. (This month is our 7th anniversary.) The Deebs came to the conclusion that we should use the core story to look again at a myriad of concerns that are focused on by our blog.

I contacted the involved church today, telling them we would be writing a few posts on this story and offered to allow them to comment. We have not received a return call. Frankly, given the nature of this story, it is not surprising. I cannot imagine what Steve Estes and his supposed *Plurality of Elders* would have to say.

Your assignment:

On a quick reading of Eagle's two posts: Steve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania: A Painful Story of Domestic Abuse, Inappropriate Church Discipline, and Failed EFCA Polity  and Hurit’s Public Excommunication While Alleged Criminal Activity by Brock Estes is Withheld from the Congregation: Appeals for Help Fall on Deaf Ears to Steve Musser of the Eastern District and National Evangelical Free Church of America  we identified at least 6 issues that were post worthy.

We would love to see what our astute readers (some of the best in the business) can come up with along with their expressions of well deserved sympathy for the victim in this situation. To get you started, here is one that we saw. This church declared the victim of abuse a non-Christian. We believe that this is a natural outgrowth of 9Marks and NeoCalvinist theology as outlined in this TWW post Does the Church Have Authority to Say You Are Not a Believer? The Majority of Christians Say NO!

Also, think! Where have you heard this sort of thing happening before? (Hint: think last May.) Medical folks should find one part of this story of interest as well.

You do not have to quote a TWW article to receive full credit for your answer.


The following story is heartbreaking. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Hurit whose name has been changed to give her some modicum of privacy.

The Evangelical Free Church:

Many of you probably remember the EFCA as the former denomination of Charles Swindoll. Wikipedia gives a good overview of the denomination although it is in the midst of changes. Please note the highlighted portion. This will figure prominently into this discussion.

In its Statement of Faith, the Evangelical Free Church of America affirms the authority and Inerrancy of the Bible; the Trinity; atonement through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; original sin; Christ as head of the church and the local church's right to self government; the personal, premillennial, imminent return of Christ; the bodily resurrection of the dead; and the two ordinances of water baptism and the Lord's Supper.[3] In addition, the church claims six distinctives:[4]

  • Believer's church—membership consists of those who have a personal faith in Jesus Christ
  • Evangelical—we are committed to the inerrancy and authority of the Bible and the essentials of the gospel
  • Embraces a humble orthodoxy in partnership with others of like faith
  • Believes in Christian freedom with responsibility and accountability
  • Believes in both the rational and relational, i.e. the head and the heart, dimensions of Christianity
  • Affirms the right of each local church to govern its own affairs with a spirit of interdependency with other churches

The EFCA passed a substantial revision to its Statement of Faith on June 26, 2008, the first revision since the Statement was first adopted in 1950.[5] This revision was proposed in order “to update archaic language, to clarify some theological ambiguities, to seek greater theological precision, to address new issues, to have a SoF that would be better suited to be used as a teaching tool in our churches.”[6] Specific beliefs based on biblical interpretation can vary somewhat due to the congregational governance system that gives autonomy to individual local EFCA churches.

EFCA is increasingly becoming part of the NeoCalvinst movement.

Eagle will be writing more on his research but he is stunned that many EFCA churches bear the marks of the Neo-Calvinist movement. In fact these churches are increasingly changing their statements of beliefs to reflect this trend. Here is a statement of beliefs from Community Evangelical Free Church. Here are a couple of excerpts in order to get my drift. Read the whole thing and I doubt you will disagree.


4. We believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, and during this age to convict men, regenerate the believing sinner*, and indwell, guide, instruct and empower the believer for godly living and service. (John 13:14, 16:7-8,17; Titus 3:5; Eph. 1:13; 1 Cor. 12:1-31; Eph. 4:11-14; Rom. 12:4-8) 
* This is not to be taken as addressing the question of the order in which saving faith and regeneration occur.

As in our day, "spirituality" was high, but knowledge of God's Word was low. But a remarkable return to scriptural roots was born in the sixteenth century under Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others. This return came to be called the Reformation. The Reformation's major scriptural re-discoveries were summarized by five Latin phrases which capture well the message of salvation:

Who is Steve Estes of Community Evangelical Free Church?

Steve is the Senior Pastor and the father of the alleged abuser.

Steve Estes grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and began attending CEFC in 1979 while completing M.Div. and Th.M. degrees at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and previously studied at Columbia International University. In 1987 he was called as CEFC's senior pastor. Steve is the author of A Better December, Called to Die (the story of slain missionary Chet Bitterman), and co-author (with Joni Eareckson Tada) of When God Weeps and A Step Further, and serves on the board of directors for the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation in Philadelphia. He and his wife, Verna, who grew up in Elverson, have eight children.

Steve is also a Lecturer in Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

A bit of history on Steve and the church: Conflict was present early on. From Eagle's post:

It grew to a church that eventually ran two services and 400 to 500 members and attenders. Community Evangelical Free was theologically hijacked around the 2000 time-frame . What split the congregation was infant baptism, which Steve Estes added in addition to believer’s baptism. The church was split and about 100 families left. It should be noted that because of Steve Estes’s theology, he could not be ordained in the EFCA. Without this ordination Steve Estes cannot be held accountable for moral failures by the EFCA. Today Community is a Reformed Church and holding to the five “solas” of the Reformation. This church follows both the Philadelphia Confession of Faith and the Westminster Confession of Faith. It should also be noted that this church also adheres to the Plurality of Elders when it comes to church governance. 

A bit of history on Elverson, PA. and the Stoltzfus family taken from Eagle's post (with full permission.)

The Stoltzfus family is well connected in the small tom of Elverson. They are descended from Ammon Stoltzfus who left the Amish community when he became an evangelical Christian. Note the familial ties within the church in question.

The Stoltzfus family runs Stoltzfus Enterprises which is involved in building commercial and private homes, the Elverson Water Company and the Nantmeal Sewage Company. They are also involved in renting or buying real estate. Today this is owned by both Merle and David Stoltzfus. Dave and Merle who were also elders at Community Evangelical Free Church during this story.  David Stoltzfus’s sister is Verna Estes who is the wife of Steve Estes. The family relationships are going to be important to know in this story.

Hurit married Steve Estes son, Brock, who was a prison guard, in 2010. She knew he had a problem with pornography.

Hurit had been told by Brock that he had a problem with pornography but Brock assured her it would be go away if she did things right.

They installed internet monitoring software on their computer much to Brock’s frustration. It should also be said that Brock claimed that if Hurit exercised, wore the right make up, and ate right  that it would help with his pornography problems.

Brock also had a reputation for being a hard drinker, 

Brock Estes had a reputation for being a hard drinker since his teenage years. Some in the community viewed Brock as an alcoholic. In the marriage, the drinking of alcohol got worse as time passed. The drinking which took place on the weekends started to occur during the week. Sometimes Brock would come home and take hard shots and ignore Hurit

Brock allegedly claimed to have a sleep disorder and needed to drink lots of alcohol in order to sleep.

He claimed the alcohol was to help him sleep, but as he medicated himself more with alcohol the sleeping disorder continued to get worse over the course of time.

Brock allegedly claimed that the sleep disorder caused him to be violent with little to no memory of the incidents.

 Brock has a sleeping disorder that he never pursued long term treatment for during his marriage. He did have a sleep study after Hurit moved out. In his sleep, Brock would move around, get up, hide or destroy things waking Hurit on many occasions. There were times where Brock acted violently to Hurit and then claimed he couldn’t remember any of it.

While supposedly asleep, Brock allegedly threatened Hurit with a loaded gun. There was a witness to part of the incident.

 Hurit woke up to Brock standing bedside and loading a gun which was described as a slide type pistol. Brock waved the gun across the room and in the process allegedly pointed the loaded firearm at his wife. Hurit left the bedroom to go sleep on the couch. Brock came out angry that she left. Then Brock, who claimed that he knew how to handle a firearm, allegedly forcefully threw a loaded gun into a cabinet.  Hurit woke up the following morning after this incident and thought to herself, “I could be dead this morning.”

 Following this incident Ryan Smith a Police Officer in Lancaster County at the time, he now works for Pottsgrove Police Department took the gun from Brock. This is another legal issue and ethical problem that Ryan faces. Ryan should not have removed the gun without reporting  this incident first to law enforcementRyan’s wife, (then his girlfriend) was staying with Hurit the night this incident happened. When Brock was asked about the incident he claimed that he remembered walking through the home with his gun looking for someone. He stated that he was partly asleep and partly awake. Yet, to other people, Brock claimed to remember the incident

Brock allegedly choked Hurit while she slept.

 The other troubling incident occurred when Hurit woke up to being in a headlock by Brock. Brock’s grip was firm and she couldn’t get out of it, and she couldn’t breath. After that situation Hurit decided that she would not have children with Brock as she was afraid that a child could be killed.

Brock allegedly sexually assaulted Hurit.

 The alcohol problem is linked to one of the more disturbing incidents of Hurit’s marriage. It started out with Brock drinking while he played golf. He came home and drank more and forced himself sexually upon his wife. Hurit didn’t consent to the sexual activity and on that night Brock sexually assaulted his wife with verbal abuse being intense.  Hurit considers this the worst night of her marriage.  When Matt Carter a Pastor at Community Evangelical Free Church heard about Brock’s behavior in regards to the sexual assault he stated that he considered this to be rape. In the same incident Brock had consumed so much alcohol that he was passed out in bed for two days.

Steve Estes allegedly knew of the incident.

After one of the more disturbing incidents Steve and Verna Estes went over to visit Brock and Hurit. The senior pastor brought Hurit flowers.  Steve Estes never mentioned the incident again. Steve never followed up or offered help to his daughter-in-law.  Steve’s disengagement was a source of frustration for Hurit. So the Senior Pastor of Community Evangelical Free Church knew of the situation involving his son and the severity of it.

Hurit left Brock.

On September 9, 2013 Hurit left Brock

Steve Estes allegedly tried to get her to return her now incredibly *repentant* husband.

On October 31, 2013, shortly after the separation, Steve Estes held a private meeting with a few handpicked women. Steve introduced Brock as “the most repentant man he had seen in his 30 years of ministry.” The purpose of the meeting was to have the women ‘woo’ and encourage Hurit to return quietly back to Brock.

During this meeting, Steve made it very clear that the meeting was to be kept confidential. He stated that he had not shared this situation of Brock’s and Hurit’s marriage with any of the elders at this point. Steve also mentioned that he wanted Hurit to return to this marriage quietly, so she could walk back through the doors of CEFC quietly.

This committee was kept from  Hurit, as well as the Elders  of Community Evangelical Free Church’s knowledge until January of 2014.  At the meeting with the women,  Steve shared a letter from Hurit to Brock. There, at the meeting Brock confessed his shortcomings. He claimed that he had repented; however, while talking about his shortcomings Brock never mentioned the incident with the loaded gun. Steve was not concerned for his daughter-in-law’s safety and this remained an issue throughout much of 2013 up until Hurit’s excommunication.

Sometime after the meeting, one of the women reached out to Brock and his parents, expressing her concerns regarding the secrecy of the “Women’s” meeting and believed it would be damaging to Hurit if she ever found out. Steve Estes made it very clear that Hurit was not to find out.  

But Hurit did find out.

Steve threatened Hurit with excommunication if she didn't return.

Steve Estes and Verna met with Hurit and her parents. Steve clearly told her that if she got divorced from Brock then she would be excommunicated from the church and “declared” an unbeliever. Basically Steve Estes had given his daughter-in-law an ultimatum.

Hurit filed for divorce anyway.

On December 15, 2013, Hurit filed for divorce from Brock Estes. In the January 2014 Elders meeting at Community,  Steve Estes told the Elder board of the situation. The news of the situation started to draw attention and members of the congregation spoke with Brock and asked him, “why he was not pursuing his wife?”  Brock claimed that he had repented, but it was hard for many people to see. There was no restraining order or legal action taken against him that would have stopped him from pursuing his wife. It was stated to one member that Brock was guided and coached by Steve Estes, and the Elders not to reach out to Hurit. During  this time David Stoltzfus, Brock’s Uncle, who was also his shepherding elder kept trying to convince people that his nephew,  Brock , “repented.” Many people at CEFC had a hard time believing it.

Brock would not sign the divorce decree until Hurit was excommunicated. Why was this? (Extra credit if you don't cheat and read the answer at Wondering Eagle.)

 Shortly afterward Hurit’s attorney contacted Brock Estes and said that the divorce papers were ready.  Brock Estes said that ‘he couldn’t sign them yet…she needed to be excommunicated first, then he could sign them.’

Hurit met with the Elders and was deeply hurt by their response.

he Elders from Community that were present were Matt Lambert and Matt Griffith. In the meeting,  Hurit opened up and read about the problems in her marriage. The pornography, the domestic abuse, the alcohol problems and that her husband allegedly pointed a gun at her. Hurit read for an hour and when she finished exhausted the very first question she was asked by one of the Elders’s was “What sin do you bring to the table?” 

The Elders allegedly told members of the church they needed to protect Brock's job.

During the entire ordeal some of the Elders, communicated that the church had to “protect Brock and his job.” The issue was that Brock had allegedly engaged in illegal behavior and there was concern that his employer the Berks County Jail would find out. Mike Rudolff said the following about  withholding information from the congregation, “it is by design.” Matt Carter said that their behavior is to  “protect Brock.”

On June 29, 2014 the Chairman of the Elder Board asked Hurit’s close friend to meet with Brock Estes. At the meeting Brock spoke about how he remembered the gun incident, and the sexual violation of his wife, which he stated that he was too drunk to remember.

  He also said he looked at pornography only 5 times in his marriage. In the meantime, members and personal friends of the church contacted Hurit and shared with her that unless she repented she would be excommunicated and her friends would cut her off.

Hurit was rejected for counseling by CCEF because Steve was on the board.

After many months Hurit finally agreed to go to counseling at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF).  A member of the church who is a close friend picked her up and drove her to CCEF in Philadelphia for counseling.

After checking in and completing the paperwork the Director of Counseling Cecilia Bernhardt came and asked to speak to Hurit. Next the Director of Counseling asked to speak to Hurit’s friend stating that Hurit could not get the proper counseling at CCEF due to her relationship with Steve Estes. 

Since Steve Estes is on the board of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, it would be a conflict of interest to see Hurit.

…This happened in the office that David Powlison is responsible for running

Hurit once again tried to meet with the Elders but was rejected and threatened with excommunication.

On September 14, 2014 Hurit emailed the Elders at Community asking to meet with three of them. She proposed three dates of September 22, 24, and 30th. The Elders denied Hurit’s request. Right before the trial Hurit emailed her sister-in-law on the Estes’ side and told them that she loved them. The one replied saying that she was going to be excommunicated unless she repented, and that she had ‘a lot of repenting to do as Brock had done.’ And with that Hurit was cut off from one of her close friends.

The church proceeded with a trial and Hurit refused to attend. The charges were as follows:

 The charges against Hurit were announced and they were the following:

(a.) When Hurit Estes experienced marital difficulties with her husband, rather than follow the Matthew 18 path of confrontation that pursues reconciliation, she initiated divorce on ground that are unbiblical and violated her wedding vows. 

(b.) There has been a refusal to reconcile with her husband despite his contrition for the sins  he brought into the marriage, his seeking her forgiveness, and his significant attempts to win her back. 

(c.) Throughout, in violation of her membership vows, Hurit has pursued outside counsel that supports her pursuit of divorce while substantially dismissing the counsel of her church leaders and her family.  

This is the letter sent to Hurit after the trial. Other letters were sent to the church members which you can read at Wondering Eagle.

Dear Hurit, 

Last evening our elder board met for a solemn task. Our goal was to consider three charges against you as a Christian. We wish we could have heard from you personally regarding these points, and that you had brought others to speak in your behalf whom we may not have known.  

All total, we heard from seventeen people who know you, love you, and have been in your life in some way over the past year or years. Several spoke eloquently and at length to defend you of these charges.  

This process was thorough. We heard from these seventeen over a course of nearly ten hours, from 5:00 PM Monday to after 3:00 in the morning. After weighing their words and reports, and after considering every angle we could think of, we concluded that the three points are accurate and fair — they justly portray an unbiblical response on your part to the marriage difficulties you experienced. 

Brock’s sins and faults were not without serious consideration last night. They were neither ignored nor minimized. But we believe Brock to have repented, and we must conclude by your actions that you have not. 

We will meet again quite soon to prayerfully decide what steps of discipline should follow, in accordance with Matthew 18 and similar passages. You can stop that process at any time by meeting with us — not just to talk — but to take divorce off the table, to repent of the items in the three charges, and to work toward reconciliation with Brock (however slow and painful a process that may be) . 

We write this in sadness, and with passages like these in mind: 

(Prov 15:31) “He who listens to a life‑giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.” 

(Heb 12::6) “The Lord disciplines those he loves.” 

Feel free to respond to this e-mail with any questions you may have.  

Your brothers,  

The CEFC Elder Board

Hurit's excommunication date was scheduled and adults and children of the church were invited to attend.

Hurit’s public excommunication would take place on December 14, 2014. It was an awkward time as it was the Christmas holiday season. The special church service was also announced at Community Evangelical Free Church’s regular service.  Matt Carter told a member of the youth group that his parents were wrong for allowing him to read Hurit’s letter to the church (see below), yet members were encouraged to attend the excommunication service and bring their children. All youth activity that night was canceled so that they could attend the excommunication service of a rape victim

Hurit wrote the following letter to the church.

December 11, 2014

This past Sunday I received what I understand will be the last communication from the elder board at CEFC. A copy of that letter will be included.

My life and current life circumstances have certainly been a topic of conversation for many this part year. I haven’t spoken up very much. There is a small circle of people who have come alongside me to offer support, love, and words of advice. I am eternally grateful for them… they know who they are and I would not be where I am today without them. Around the time I started thinking about telling my story, a few of them came to me with similar thoughts. This week’s latest developments only served as confirmation. So I write to all of you with the intention of sharing my story from my perspective…I would like to dispel a few myths, clarify some of the facts, and hopefully eliminate the need for speculation and gossip surrounding the pain of the entire situation.

You all know that I got married in the summer of 2010. I think it is important to note that I entered our marriage with absolute confidence that I wanted it…. I was ready and excited to be married, even with all of the work and imperfection that I knew it would hold. Hindsight is 20/20. Signs of what our relationship would look like were there all along. The changes began immediately after engagement. More notable changes came following the day we said “I do.” It wasn’t until a year in that I really began to question things, worry, and primarily blame myself for the rapid decline in our marriage.

I married {my husband} knowing that he struggled with an addiction to pornography. He assured me that marriage would solve the problem. I was satisfied with our agreement to be open about it if it ever became an issue. When we were married about 18 months, he admitted to me that he had been lying since day one and it was a frequent and ongoing issue. After installing a program on the laptop we shared, he said problem solved and was unwilling to talk about it again. A lot began to make sense after that. {He} became increasingly distant throughout our time together. I thought it was some fault of mine and he confirmed that by reminding me of my need to exercise, eat right, wear makeup, and dress according to his specifications. He made it clear when I didn’t meet the standard. Weeks and months would pass between times of his expressing interest in me.

Around that same time, I began to see red flags in the amount of alcohol that was consumed. It started as a weekend thing. When week days became “weekends” due to work schedules and problems sleeping overwhelmed him, the frequency increased. By year two to three, he was coming home from work and drinking before removing his jacket or speaking to me. Several shots were justified with the need to get a good night sleep. As I started to worry, I pointed out the expense and the need to find a medical solution to the sleep issue. I was disregarded. We overdraw our account on an almost weekly basis and he continued to act out at night, despite the “self medicating.” Like any addiction, more and more was needed. The criticism of his sober mind intensified with every drink and late drunken nights turned into a slew of hurtful words and actions. While he never hit me, I reached the end of my tolerance on one night in particular. Words that I can barely repeat were screamed in my face amidst hysterical laughter. He shoved me and took advantage of me sexually that night and claims to have no recollection of a single moment.

I mentioned that there is a sleeping disorder. It is a very real problem… one that I never would fault {him} for. Except in this regard….the unwillingness to address it when we were together allowed so many opportunities for self-harm and harm to me. On a very regular basis, {he} would get up/yell or scream and often need help settling back down to sleep. At first we would laugh when we woke up and furniture has been relocated or random objects hidden/broken. At times he would lift me or move me from where I slept. Several times I woke up in a tight headlock/chokehold and needed to wake him enough to loosen his grip. The sleep episodes brought unnatural strength and I witnessed some strange things. He always said the intention was not to hurt me, but the fact remains that he did. I justified it and defended him, keeping it a secret as requested until one specific night. My friend was spending the night so we could car pool to nursing clinical the following morning when this happened. I woke up to the sound of a gun cocked and opened my eyes to see him standing on my side of the bed, gun pointed at me. I panicked and tried to determine if he was asleep (it was always hard to tell as his eyes would stay open). I got up and tried talking to him before moving to the couch. My friend slept in the spare room. A moment later he came into the living room yelling and demanding that I come back to bed. He was insulted that I didn’t trust his ability to handle a firearm. I told him that it was only because he was not conscious… he grabbed the gun and threw it forcefully into a kitchen cabinet before heading back to bed. I thought him awake at this point. He tells me he doesn’t remember any of it. He tells others he does and was awake. I don’t know what is true. Of course on the way to school, my friend asked what had happened. Her boyfriend, also our friend, addressed it with {him} and insisted that he seek medical help for his sleep disorder. {He} finally agreed. After deciding it must be anxiety related, he went to the doctor and requested a prescription for Xanax. I wasn’t satisfied. He was. He didn’t respond well when I would attempt to bring it up after that. The gun situation happened twice. The other time it was not pointed directly at me…. Simply loaded and pointed randomly.

I would sometimes ask for an explanation. I generally thought it was something I was doing wrong to be treated the way I was. I asked to go to counseling a few times. When it became clear that things weren’t going to improve, I talked to {him} and expressed that I was tired and didn’t see us making it. He pointed to the door and when I didn’t walk out, I was told to sleep on the couch. That was last summer (2013). We were separated at home for about a month before I moved to my parents. It was then that I began individual counseling with a counselor on staff from another church. I talked to only a few from our church. My first was a woman from my small group. I was met with condemnation and told that I was experiencing “normal” marital struggles. While I certainly did not realize the gravity of my situation, I knew that I didn’t think my problems were normal. Even more than that, I knew that if this was what marriage and my life would look like, I wouldn’t make it. I was dying inside. I wasn’t at all myself. I lost all desire to live.

The weeks dragged. {he} changed his tune and demonstrated what I felt to be insignificant and pointless attempts to make things right. He still maintained that he did not have a problem with pornography and took a brief fast from alcohol to cure my worry and doubt. It was a painful process. I was not seeing any evidence of a heart change or real remorse. Meanwhile his family and friends were more and more convinced of his drastic turnaround, leaving me to appear as the stubborn and unforgiving wife.  I decided to file paperwork in November. By mid December I had completed the legal process on my end.

Around the time I made this decision, I had a visit from his parents {the senior pastor and his wife}. In a few hours, it was clearly explained to me that I would be excommunicated from the church if I didn’t change my mind. The pastor/my father-in-law outlined the process and I expected it would begin immediately. The elders were involved shortly thereafter.

After the church was brought up to speed, the meetings began. Initially I asked to not be contacted at all. With some counsel, prayer, and a close friend by my side, I agreed to meet with two elders. I was led to believe that this meeting would suffice in fulfilling my obligation to come to the elders. I shared the whole story. They showed no expression and asked no questions. When the evening had ended, I was informed that we would need to schedule another meeting, and again I was told of the possibility of excommunication.

Much time passed. I had decided to be done with the church process and felt very disappointed in the way things had been handled. By this point, all of my friends from church had already cut me out of their lives and I was exhausted. With much encouragement, I agreed to go to a church within a similar network for counseling. It had become very evident that the church did not see my current mentors as trustworthy sources. When we arrived, I was informed that I could not and would not be seen due to my relationship with the senior pastor who sat on the board. This was despite the fact that a friend had already cleared me for counsel when she scheduled my appointment. The realization that I would not find help or support within the system was devastating. I decided again that I was done for good.

Some time passed. I received more unwanted letters. I was informed of a hearing that had been scheduled. Unable to attend, I requested a meeting with three elders. It was told that this request would not take the place of or suffice as a means for reversing the pending excommunication. I accepted that and still opted to not attend the hearing. Without my presence, no one that wanted to speak on my behalf could attend as they were members of other churches. A group of mostly {my husband’s} friends and family testified that night. I know little about it, except that it swung in his favor.

Soon after, I met with one of the pastors on staff. We talked at length and I was able to clarify many of the questions that he and others had. It became evident that {he} had lied to me more than I realized and some of the testimonies given were inaccurate but also swayed the decision in a drastic way.

I feel I could go on and on. The bottom line is that I found myself in an emotionally, verbally, at times physically abusive relationship void of protection in which my husband also neglected my needs for the sake of other women in the form of pornography. I made a decision to leave based off of a realization that things were not changing and could not change with someone who continually denied the problems. It was hard for me to come to an understanding of what I was truly living with. Leslie Vernick writes in her book about determining the difference between disappointment and destruction in marriage. Mine was destructive. And I chose to protect myself.

If I am excommunicated for that decision, so be it. But my story needed to be told from my perspective with my words. I know that nothing can separate me from the love of my Father in heaven and I know that he will not forsake me. For the sake of other women who are no doubt struggling in similar ways, I hope and I pray for the day when these situations will be approached with more understanding and grace. The pain cannot be wasted. We need to be heard. Only when we address these issues, can we learn an effective way to foster an environment for restoration and healing.

Sincerely,

Hurit was excommunicated, pronounced that she was not a Christian, and handed over to Satan!

That evening at the excommunication service various Elders  read scripture verses about church discipline. Hurit did not attend the service.   At the service Brock Estes read a statement in which he partially confessed his shortcomings. He admitted to looking at a  few inappropriate websites in  his marriage.

Some of the former members of Community Evangelical Free Church who attended were struck by Brock’s statement. It sounded like it was something Steve Estes would write. The flow, the language…it didn’t sound like Brock was the source of the letter.  As a result there are members who believe that the Senior Pastor Steve Estes wrote Brock’s statement and had him read it.

To those who also listened to the statement who knew the facts they were stunned by how dishonest his statement was to the congregation. It should be noted at no point during the excommunication service was it mentioned that Brock Estes allegedly raped his wife. Nor was it mentioned that he had also allegedly pointed a loaded weapon at his wife or put her in a headlock in which she could not move or breath. At the service the Elders had Hurit excommunicated and declared that she was not a Christian. 

 Mike Culbert and his wife Kelly led the prayer to cast Hurit over to Satan. Rick Renninger then spoke to the congregation in which he instructed them as to how they were to shun Hurit. At the end of the service one of the Elders, Dave Stott took a huge bag of rocks to the stage and say, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone against Brock.” A number of people were enraged with what they saw and walked out during the service.  In the process of abusing their authority Community Evangelical Free Church also manipulated local law enforcement by having a police officer there at the service as well.

The denomination leaders refused to get involved in the situation since each church is autonomous and Steve is not even ordained. But more about that in another post.

The end with some caveats.

A number of people disagreed with the church and many left the church. Hurit has a number of friends from the church who have stood with her and that is how we know of this story. There is more to tell and we will. Now, we want to hear from you.

A tip of our hat to David Bonner who took his own story of betrayal at the hands of an old friend who was a member of Redeemer Arlington and turned it into fighting against injustice.

Please join The Deebs in praying for Hurit and her dear friends who have stood with her.

Comments

A TWW Tutorial: Steve Estes of Community Evangelical Free Church (EFCA) Excommunicates Domestic Violence Victim Who Was Married to His Son — 266 Comments

  1. Anyone who is a member of that church that reads this and doesn’t walk out of that church is part of the problem. This is totally unbelievable. I hope the denomination has the courage to confront this!

  2. One other thing in this story I contacted Westminster Theological Seminary and asked if they had a statement on this situation. I also contacted CCEF and left a message for David Powlison and asked if he had a statement.

  3. I am praying for Hurit and I have been since I read about the story on Wondering Eagle’s website, after getting a tweet about the story.

    Hurit, these NUT CASE churches would have kicked Jesus out too so you and I are in good company. What I have learned about these NeoCal church leaders and their authoritarianism is that they are manipulative liars. Any lie will do. They will openly lie about a church member before every one.

    I was excommunicated from my ex-church for opposing the pastors/elders bringing their friend a Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer to church, putting him in a position of leadership, and giving him access to kids (including at a 5-day basketball sports camp). The senior pastor (a John MacArthur-ite/Master’s Seminary graduate in CA) [A middle-aged professional woman/wife wanted to leave our destructive church and was disciplined before all for going to another church and refusing to come back! She was harassed for it. They even excommunicated/shunned a doctor in his 70s who was personal friend of Pastor John MacArthur’s!]

    These “churches” are like booking first class passage on the Titantic. They are toxic and unhealthy. I am glad you are out of an abusive marriage with an abusive church to boot.

    I am sorry for your losses and pain. The world is a big place, full of many good, loving people. I wish you a wonderful future, Hurit!

  4. Tina wrote:

    First??

    Nope, fourth. 🙂

    I said at Eagle’s blog that I remembered that Joni Eareckson Tada was connected with Steve Estes (I’ve read A Step Further). How heartbreaking this must be for all involved, especially Hurit.

  5. Unbelievable!!! I’m so sorry she went through all of this. I don’t have words except to say shame on these people. I’m glad to know you are telling your story. What incredible strength you have to endure so much. I support you 100% and thank you for letting others post your story.

  6. I will never understand any church that exercises in covenants, elder rulership, trials, excommunication or discipline. I know this is not how Jesus meant the church to be. They will all answer for this, especially those in leadership. I’d hate to be them, come Judgement Day.

  7. Please forgive me here… we lumped all EFC’s together. I can say, yes they are Calvinist… but I can also say by personal experience, one I attend from time to time and where I will spend Maunday Thursday and Easter services at this year… Unless you look under the sheets you will never know the Calvinist thread. I have heard enough sermons where I cannot remember the last time I heard words like sovereign nor do they have a two page membership contract. And if you asked a 100 members what the five points were, they would probably answer “what points”. I can say they are not in any shape or form neo’s.

    Sorry, just a little testy tonight.

  8. A.Stacy wrote:

    d if you asked a 100 members what the five points were, they would probably answer “what points”. I can say they are not in any shape or form neo’s.

    I am happy to hear that the one you attend is not. However, I have been talking with David as he has been reading all the websites of the EFCA churches in each state. He has made it through North and South Carolina, Florida, and many other states. He plans to go through all of them.

    He is planning on writing a post on this and he will outline all of his findings. What he is discovering has surprised him as well as me. They are changing and coming out more and more with hard hitting membership contracts, statements of belief, etc. Many of them are joining forces with Acts 29, TGC, 9 Marks, etc. In fact, TGC just featured a post written by an EFCA woman.

    The EFCA is on the cusp of change just like the Reformed movement slowly became the predominant movement in the SBC. We will keep our readers posted with the stats as Eagle makes them available. But, I, too was a skeptic a few months back. I am no longer.

  9. @ David (Eagle):
    I plan to ask them if it is wise to let a pastor run around and teach budding young pastors how to declare someone a non_Christian when they divorces your stinking alcoholic, porno viewing, gun-threatening choke-holding creep of a son.

  10. It beggars the mind, it really does, to think that supposedly rational 21st century people can buy into this Medieval nonsense.

    Keep fighting the good fight TWW and Eagle. Your efforts are well worth it in freeing one human being at a time from these despotic religious regimes.

  11. dee wrote:

    I plan to ask them if it is wise to let a pastor run around and teach budding young pastors how to declare someone a non_Christian when they divorces your stinking alcoholic, porno viewing, gun-threatening choke-holding creep of a son.

    If you get a response it will be similar to:
    “Unfortunately, there are significant varying perspectives on this situation and how things came to this point.

    this is the last email you will receive from me concerning the Brock and Hurit situation.”
    Those were the responses from Steve Musser, the District Superintendent for the Evangelical Free Churches in the region, after he was asked to intervene. In the face of such injustice it was a loathsome reply.

    Law Prof alluded to it a few days ago. The high degree of clergy with dangerous personality disorders indicates it may be becoming more dangerous within the church than outside the church. And we have the Steve Mussers in the church doing what?

    Hurit sounds like a bright and cheerful person and I wish her well as she leaves these awful people behind. This also brings me to the part that surprises me and that I find commendable in this story, the relatively large number of people that supported Hurit. Thankfully there were people in the community that were willing to take on the thuggish behavior of the “pastor” and his “Elders”. They didn’t turn a blind eye as did their denominational officials.

  12. dee wrote:

    They are changing and coming out more and more with hard hitting membership contracts, statements of belief, etc. Many of them are joining forces with Acts 29, TGC, 9 Marks, etc. In fact, TGC just featured a post written by an EFCA woman.
    The EFCA is on the cusp of change just like the Reformed movement slowly became the predominant movement in the SBC.

    It’s weird how some predicted that the end of the “real” church would come through some “Commie-Socialist entity like The World Council of Churches”, for example. This paradigm shift seems counter-intuitive, yet, it is what it is.

  13. Here’s the deal and this is what I am undertaking. Though Community EFC has consumed my time and has been exhausting. I am running through all 17 Districts of the EFCA church. website by website. I then take all the churches and run them through the Acts 29, TGC and 9 Marks searches as well. I did that for nearly 130 churches in the Eastern District. If you live in DC, VA, DE, NJ, central and eastern PA, eastern MD, and eastern NY this will be of interest to you.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/analyzing-the-growth-of-reformed-theologyneo-calvinism-in-the-evangelical-free-church-of-america-the-eastern-district/

    42% of EFCA churches in the District of Columbia and Virginia are Neo-Calvinist.

    I am working through the SE District now which includes TN, GA, NC, SC, FL, MS, and AL.

    What I have discovered is that 62% of the EFCA churches in SC are Neo-Calvinist. 42% in FL are reformed/Neo-Calvinist. All the churches in Jacksonville are Neo-Cal. I will have that post done shortly.

  14. So if you are in an Evangelical Free that was theologically hijacked I would love to speak with you 🙂

    Other things I want to write about include the following:

    1. Relationship between Acts 29 and EFCA.
    2. Explore if DA Carson received money from C.J. Mahaney like Dever, and Mohler did.
    3. Church hijackings
    4. Corruption in the District and National level.
    5. Issues at Trinity Divinity School

  15. I read all of this on David’s blog yesterday ………Just no words ……….
    How can the Estes and company call themselves “Christians”? And after the way they have behaved, they have the unmitigated gall to declare Hurit a “non-believer”?
    To Pawlison, I would ask: Since Steve Estes is not ordained in the EFCA, what keeps you from kicking this church out of the organization? ….. Unless, of course, you see no problem with his behavior and the behavior of his family and followers. If the SBC can give churches the boot for practices they do not approve, why can’t the EFCA?
    To Hurit, I would say: Girl, I hope you can wash this filthy mess from your hands and move on with your life. You deserve better! I’m so glad that you had the courage to stand up for yourself, and thankful that you have friends and family to back you up!

  16. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    Yes, it’s damnable. Wolves in sheeps clothing? These are a$$hats in wolves clothing!

    I’ll take a pack of wolves any day over these ________ ……….. Uhm, no nouns that will pass monitoring.
    Noah had wolves on the ark. All of the critters like these were left to drown.

  17. For those who think Neo-Calvinism is not a problem in the EFCA. Look at the recommended resources for River Oaks Community Church in Mayville, Tennessee.

    http://therocc.org/resources/recommended-resources-websites/#more-2449

    Yup the man who practiced “Gospel Centered Blackmail” and “Gospel Centered Bribery” and “Gospel Centered…make Carolyn have sex during her pregnancy” CJ Mahaney.

    Go figure…when I was involved in Mormonism years ago I was puzzled why so many Evangelicals cannot practice discernment. Now I know why…

    I just stumbled across that while working through the Evangelical Free churches in TN.

  18. Nancy2 wrote:

    How can the Estes and company call themselves “Christians”? And after the way they have behaved, they have the unmitigated gall to declare Hurit a “non-believer”?

    Agreed.

  19. We attended the (former) Evangelical Free Church of Auburn for 10 years prior to 1995. We were very involved in that local church as well as at the district level & at that time we saw no indication of Neo-Cal involvement. However, shortly thereafter the pastor retired. They called a pastor from a Southern Baptist seminary that was, unbeknownst to that congregation, a hotbed of converted NeoCals. Within 2 years, they were almost totally Calvinist in doctrine and practice. The former democratic church council made up of both men and women, was disbanded and ELDER RULE took over….We have friends who stayed for long enough to know that this change mirrored that taking place throughtout our Western District. It wasn’t long before the District Superintendent of the EFCA resigned under pressure. Out in California many former EFCA churches are now firmly NeoCal.
    Sad.

  20. Eagle,
    If you can design some kind of spreadsheet of EFCA churches and the categories you’re looking for to evaluate them I could use it to check the ones in my area of CA and email it back to you.

  21. Nancy2 wrote:

    I’ll take a pack of wolves any day over these ________ ……….. Uhm, no nouns that will pass monitoring.

    No kidding. It is hard to believe that there are evil, sociopathic people like this on the planet – but to be “leaders” in a church? I just threw up a little in my mouth.

  22. molly245 wrote:

    The former democratic church council made up of both men and women, was disbanded and ELDER RULE took over

    Of course. One can argue what – if any – guidelines the Bible puts around leading a church. But the Neo-Cals have been pushing “elder rule” for over a decade now, because their authoritarian goals require it. I don’t understand how those involved in this cultish thinking refuse to see how this approach directly contradicts the words of Jesus about leaders and Christian community. Of course, the cynical response is that they do understand.

  23. Muff Potter wrote:

    It beggars the mind, it really does, to think that supposedly rational 21st century people can buy into this Medieval nonsense.

    Yes. Medieval. But we are getting a glimpse into the hard hearted tactics of those who made the case for drownings, burning at the stake, banishments, etc 500 years ago.

    Is there anyone here naive enough to believe they would never do such things in the Name of Christ if it were legal?

    What was her sin? Divorce for abuse?

  24. @ A.Stacy:
    Keep your eyes open and watch your back. If the denomination is going Cal they will get to yours eventually. And you might not even realize it for a while. They use stealth tactics to get in.

  25. Among the many, many disturbing elements of this story, it boggles that a non-ordained “pastor” can declare someone a non-believer.

    By what authority does he make this pronouncement?

  26. I don’t think I have seen this mentioned so far but isn’t this quite a conflict of interest for a pastor to be leading church discipline of his daughter in law. Especially when when it involved the pastor’s own son’s alleged actions that lead to this divorce. Even if this pastor thinks in his mind he is being objective I doubt the pastor could be. Did not anyone up there bring up this fact?

    In judicial court cases this would a reason for a judge to recuse him or herself from a case.

    The other thing that needs to be brought up is how this pastor raised a son that turned out apparently so bad. I am sure it is hard for this pastor to admit his and wife’s failing in raising this kid. Thus in all likelihood this pastor would want to exaggerate his son’s repentance, discount any of his son’s sin and alleged actions while at the same time claiming his daughter in law has no interest in marriage reconciliation. Another way to put this is that if this pastor admitted his son’s egregious sin then the pastor would have to admit his own failure of raising his son.

  27. Another woman used and abused by her husband and the church. Despicable.
    I sincerely pray for these abused women to find healing and peace.
    How much more damage can these twisted, peddling pastors of falsehoods, get away with?

  28. Steve Estes brought flowers to his daughter-in-law.

    Why?
    Because he knew his son was an alcoholic abuser?
    Because he felt guilt for not seeking help for his son?
    Because he never stepped up as a father to discipline his son when he had the chance?
    Because his son didn’t know enough to shown even a thread of remorse or kindness to Hurit?
    Because he thought flowers would heal the damage his son inflicted?
    To buy her silence?
    To be genuinely nice? (Not buying this option one iota.)

    Such an incongruous action when connected to the rest of the story.

  29. And that bag of rocks.

    @Steve249 – conflict of interest. Great point! This whole story is fraught with conflict of interest.

  30. Lydia wrote:

    Can an ordained pastor declare someone an unbeliever with authority? I

    I frankly don’t think, in the end, it was wise for anyone to declare that someone is not a Christian. As CS Lewis said “There will be surprises in heaven.” I prefer to leave that up to God who knows the hearts of all of us.

  31. Remnant wrote:

    And that bag of rocks.

    Think of it this way. He got his way and his abused daughter in law was *turned over to Satan.* (Whadda jerk!) Then he is left with the boozing and abusing son so he has to shut everyone up. What a manipulative, despicable pastor. Shame on him and the rest of his church that let him do this.

  32. Remnant wrote:

    Such an incongruous action when connected to the rest of the story.

    I bet he knew what was coming and was trying to win her over to stay with his poor excuse of a son.

  33. Steve240 wrote:

    Another way to put this is that if this pastor admitted his son’s egregious sin then the pastor would have to admit his own failure of raising his son.

    All I know is even God. the perfect Father, had His own trouble with Adam and Eve. A real father would kick his son in the pants and tell him to grow up while reporting the gun incident to the prison…..Hey, has anyone done that yet? Hmmm…..

  34. @Lydia, thanks for turning around that question.

    Kicking someone out of a church is one thing, Declaring that you know their heart (as if you were God) is quite another.

  35. Remnant wrote:

    By what authority does he make this pronouncement?

    The last I checked, only God controls the Book of Life and he doesn’t need Steve Estes to advise Him.

  36. Lydia wrote:

    What was her sin? Divorce for abuse?

    Add n ot kissing her father in law’s butt and you get the whole picture.

  37. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    Of course, the cynical response is that they do understand.

    Actually, I think that your comment is not cynical but rather biblical. Take a look at the men in the Bible and see which ones deeply wounded others.

  38. @ molly245:
    Excellent example and comment. Do you know how much this is going on all over the place?I think people are beginning to get this nonsense and that is why there is an exodus from the church and declining church revenues. Can you imagine giving one thin dime to Estes’ church?

  39. Bill M wrote:

    David, their “Recommended Websites” is a veritable who’s who of the bad actors I’ve read bad reports about in this last year.

    It is so easy to pick these actors out of the bunch. I get my kicks each night reading church websites.

  40. Nancy2 wrote:

    Since Steve Estes is not ordained in the EFCA, what keeps you from kicking this church out of the organization? ….. Unless, of course, you see no problem with his behavior and the behavior of his family and followers.

    My experience with the SBC has helped me understand the EFCA. They claim that each church is autonomous. Then, the only ones the kick out are the ones who put women in the pastorate. Then suddenly they figure out how to act.

    Abuse, however, well God probably ordained for Hurit to suffer this way, so tough!

  41. @ JYJames:
    There is no question in my mind that this movement has led to the decline in church attendance and revenues. One only needs to track the beginnings of the movement until today and read the stats.

    I think the reason they love megachurches is that all those people in one spot can help them deny that there is a real problem.

  42. Bill M wrote:

    “Unfortunately, there are significant varying perspectives on this situation and how things came to this point.

    I think Matt Chandler tweeted to me “You don’t have the whole story.”I responded “We have the emails or didn’t they tell you?” Unfortunately for these types of churches, they looooooove to discipline in very public ways and we have wonderful readers who are smart enough to keep email, texts, etc.

  43. Eagle’s post appeared as a suggested website on my phone yesterday. I guess Big Google is monitoring what I’m reading about lately.
    There is a lot in this story (and the previous posts about the young boy who was sexually assaulted) that really angers me.
    The lesson for anyone attending or considering a church is to go behind the Sunday service of the church you attend.
    To look at the website, to investigate the governance, a great idea from Eagle was to take a gander at the library. What does the church support? What organizations are they affiliated with? What would they expect from you as a member?
    Again, I can only speak from my own experience, but I’ve that even non neo-calvin evangelical churches tend to be xenophobic to varying degrees. Those who do no follow are put into the “other” box. Unchurched, unbeliever, lost – much of the vernacular dehumanizes those of other faiths or those with no faith. Before we got married MG (my wife) introduced me to friends of hers who were also evangelical. The first question asked was “What is your Christian background?” – as if it was important to know my “credentials” as it were. When I identified myself as Anglican, there was a look of disgust “Well, they’re just like Catholics!” and an awkward silence followed. I also have been told I’m not baptized because it was an infant baptism – an by extension I’m not christian (I guess at least I never have to worry about excommunication)
    It is this attitude that fosters a cycle of “us vs them” which creates a fertile ground for unscrupulous pastors to take advantage of. Also it makes many churches ripe for the hostile takeover that Eagle writes about.
    It also increases the damage that abuse (sexual, marital, emotional etc) because if you are “programmed” to view the outside world as inherently evil, then you will not seek help there (from doctors, social workers, police, the justice system).
    Also when your whole support system is “the Church” then the damage is doubled.
    I applaud Shauna for seeking the help needed for Billy outside the church and applaud the courage of Hurit’s friends to stand by her. I don’t think her “excommunication” is a curse – I wish both these women the best with their new found freedoms and applaud their boldness and courage.
    I also applaud those bloggers like TWW, Eagle, Nate Sparks and others for standing in front of the cannon and bringing these stories to light. It’s like turning the Titanic with a spoon but only through bringing stories to light can others be inspired to speak out from which change can be realized.
    In many ways it comes down to reaching some form of balance with faith being a part of life that supports your interactions with the world – not pulling you down the rabbit hole away from the world.

  44. Lydia wrote:

    What was her sin? Divorce for abuse?

    Their thinking may have been this-it is common thinking. Some problem child grows up and marries and the family breathes a sign of relief because problem child is now somebody else’s problem. Let the spouse worry about it and solve it or not either way it is not our problem any more. (Insert bible verse here if necessary.)

    But when spouse bails out and slings the problem back out for all the world to see the family of origin are faced with either trying to solve it or just living with it or moving out of town, because now everybody *knows* and some may even agree with the spouse.

    So: protect the problem child (public repentance) blame the spouse (the unforgivable sin of divorce) and try to come out smelling like a rose (the bible says) while doing it.

    Disgusting.

  45. Pingback: How Many Things Wrong With This Picture? | 1st Feline Battalion

  46. This is a result of replacing God with the Bible. Men select snippets of “Scripture” and build their own fake theologies. They build their seminaries and ordain each other to give the impression that they are superior in their knowledge of all things “biblical” than we common folk. They are filled with the opinions of men, but demonstrate nothing of Jesus.

    Most of the time when they claim something as “biblical”, you can bet that it ain’t!

    In Matthew 5 Jesus said several times “You have heard it said, but I say…” The religious leaders of His day were guilty of editing the Scriptures in their favor. Nothing has changed.

    Jesus was so right when he said in Matthew 23:15, ” What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” (NLT)

    I briefly touched on this subject in my blog at http://wayneharmon.org/2015/02/25/book-worshipers/.

  47. dee wrote:

    Bill M wrote:
    “Unfortunately, there are significant varying perspectives on this situation and how things came to this point.
    I think Matt Chandler tweeted to me “You don’t have the whole story.”I responded “We have the emails or didn’t they tell you?” Unfortunately for these types of churches, they looooooove to discipline in very public ways and we have wonderful readers who are smart enough to keep email, texts, etc.

    As if the other side of the story will transform an abusive, alcoholic, loaded gun-pointing rapist into husband of the year,

  48. dee wrote:

    @ David (Eagle):
    I plan to ask them if it is wise to let a pastor run around and teach budding young pastors how to declare someone a non_Christian when they divorces your stinking alcoholic, porno viewing, gun-threatening choke-holding creep of a son.

    I bet they think most of us on here…” Non-Christian” for calling them out….

  49. Remnant wrote:

    Among the many, many disturbing elements of this story, it boggles that a non-ordained “pastor” can declare someone a non-believer.
    By what authority does he make this pronouncement?

    That’s not a pronouncement ~~~ it’s judgement. And, no human has either the authority or the knowledge to make that determination.

  50. I commented on the last post about me being jobless and possibly homeless next month and not one offer of prayer or encouragement from anyone. I had one person contribute to my Go Fund Me fund. One. And there was a promise that my link would go up on a post yesterday, but that never happened. Unless things are about the juicy details of how the Calvinstas are treating people badly and leaving people out to dry, no one really seems to care on here. Meanwhile, there are legitimate people like myself who are suffering and not one of you is willing to acknowledge that. This time, I won’t be back to this blog. It’s hypocritical to claim a group of people turns their back on people, when you’re silent to those who are going through tough times yourself.

  51. @ Nancy2:
    Unless, of course, when a person declares someone to be “an unbeliever”, the declaration has nothing to to with God and everything to do with ME, ME, ME!!!

  52. Biblical literalists have sanctified “marriage” above all of life and common sense. Untold millions of people have lived lives of misery trapped in a marriage in which they could not leave. Somehow, I don’t think this is what God had in mind for “marriage”. Abuse with a marriage certificate is still abuse. A marriage certificate does not sanctify abuse nor does it magically solve personal problems. There comes a point when a marriage is destructive and there is absolutely no rational reason for it to continue.

  53. Rob wrote:

    There comes a point when a marriage is destructive and there is absolutely no rational reason for it to continue.

    If you are the abusive son of the pastor the rational changes . . .

  54. Rob wrote:

    Biblical literalists have sanctified “marriage” above all of life and common sense.

    That would be “biblical marriage”.
    There are some pastors in the SBC who are pushing to pass a resolution refusing to perform marriage ceremonies, or allow a marriage ceremony to take place in an SBC church unless both parties are members of SBC churches, and sign a contract agreeing to attend the same church after they are married.

  55. Some very good people are in the EFCA. I know as I have some deep connections with the denomination. That said, I also have seen the ugly side of this denomination personally. My ex-wife divorced me committing adultery in the process. As a licensed minister, I was forced to go through an ecclesiastical trial with them that included a nearly three hour long “fact-finding” interview. They had writing from my ex where she admitted to sexual infidelity explicitly, by the way, and they still thought they needed to put me through this horrific process. I succeed in making it through but decided it was best for me to leave the EFCA after it was clear the denomination would keep this hanging over my head even after thoroughly vetting me. They have subsequently changed this process for the divorced. I have reviewed the change on my blog:

    http://www.divorceminister.com/dm-review-efcas-revised-divorced-credentials-policy-part-i/

    http://www.divorceminister.com/dm-review-efcas-revised-divorced-credentials-policy-part-ii/

    http://www.divorceminister.com/dm-review-efcas-revised-divorced-credentials-policy-part-iii/

  56. If anyone should have been excommunicated from the church it should have been Brock not Hurit. Excommunication must be the new buzzword as we are hearing it a lot lately. Bring it on. Maybe we should form our own church of those who have been excommunicated and the “done”. I bet it would be really great.

  57. From what was shared, it made me wonder if Brock was in the military. I am no mental health provider–just a professional chaplain–but the descriptions of what he was doing was suggestive of PTSD to this lay person. I did a residency in the Veterans’ Affairs Health Care System, and these issues in Brock seem eerily familiar. This does not in any way excuse his behavior, mind you. Brock clearly needs serious help, which is to say that his own father along with the church is failing him as well. Glad that Hurit has found support and gotten out of such a dangerous situation!

  58. Divorce Minister wrote:

    From what was shared, it made me wonder if Brock was in the military. I am no mental health provider–just a professional chaplain–but the descriptions of what he was doing was suggestive of PTSD

    It’s not even necessarily PTSD. The sort of behavior Brock exhibits was more common in the military than most “outsiders” know, even before The Gulf War and Afghanistan. In a lot of instances, it is a personality type that finds a place to grow in an exponentially destructive way.

  59. This story is horrifying.

    What is happening to the church in America? Zero accountability for so-called church leaders, whose only motives are power and greed. It is truly sickening. In fact, it’s evil.

    I used to read stories like this and the Chandler/ Village case (which has many parallels) and believe that churches and leaders had started out good and well-meaning but had, through mis-guided doctrines and sin, lost their way.

    But the more stories I read like this one the more I am forced to conclude that these men are thoroughly evil. Abuse of women is not only par for the course, but apparently publicly celebrated. (not just Brock, but Steve and all the male leaders abused Hurit). That stands to reason – one of the clear signposts of a regime that is rotten to the core is its mal-treatment of women and inherent, deep misogyny.

    Here in the UK it’s not quite as bad – yet – but many, many churches are heading in the same direction.

  60. Christina wrote:

    This time, I won’t be back to this blog. It’s hypocritical to claim a group of people turns their back on people, when you’re silent to those who are going through tough times yourself.

    Hi Christina,
    I would urge you to stick around for awhile. There really are a lot of caring people here. I think you may just be a victim of bad timing. There were two people who needed money right before your request was voiced. I imagine many people were tapped out. Maybe the Deebs could share your request next week?

    I will be praying for you Christina.

  61. Remnant wrote:

    Among the many, many disturbing elements of this story, it boggles that a non-ordained “pastor” can declare someone a non-believer.
    By what authority does he make this pronouncement?

    Would an “ordained” minister make a difference? I don’t see much biblical evidence that anyone has a right to call someone an unbeliever. A body of believers putting someone out of the assembly of believers for unrepentant sin, maybe.

  62. Christina wrote:

    And there was a promise that my link would go up on a post yesterday, but that never happened.

    Tha was my fault. There was a reason that I could not place it on that post. However, I had planned to go ahead and post a sticky today with a link to the Go Fund Me. I am so sorry for the confusion on my part and there is not excuse for that. Check in about 30 minutes on the home page.

  63. I am going to assume the reason Brock would not sign the divorce papers until after the excommunication and declaration of her as a unbeliever is that then he is clear and free to divorce her as an unbeliever who has left a believing spouse. Sounds about right, now he is not at fault. As others have said it Google’s the mind how people allow themselves to be swindled and taken in by people like this.

  64. Steve240 wrote:

    The other thing that needs to be brought up is how this pastor raised a son that turned out apparently so bad.

    Pastor Daddy bore and raised a Joffrey?

    “DO YOU KNOW JUST WHO MY DAD IS?????”

  65. dee wrote:

    He got his way and his abused daughter in law was *turned over to Satan.* (Whadda jerk!) Then he is left with the boozing and abusing son so he has to shut everyone up.

    The boozing and abusing SON who will one day inherit Daddy’s church and pulpit.

  66. Nancy2 wrote:

    I’ll take a pack of wolves any day over these ________ ……….. Uhm, no nouns that will pass monitoring.
    Noah had wolves on the ark. All of the critters like these were left to drown.

    Me too Nancy2. Wolves are far more noble than these nabobs. Interesting side note: The only peoples to ever revere the wolf as totem & talisman were the Native Americans and the pre-ixtian Germanic tribes East of the Rhine. All other cultures loathed and despised the wolf.

  67. dee wrote:

    Remnant wrote:
    By what authority does he make this pronouncement?
    The last I checked, only God controls the Book of Life and he doesn’t need Steve Estes to advise Him.

    What would God ever do on J-Day without Steve Estes at His Right Hand (like Grima Wormtongue to King Theoden) to tell him WHO is REALLY Saved and (more important) WHO IS NOT?

  68. dee wrote:

    Bill M wrote:
    David, their “Recommended Websites” is a veritable who’s who of the bad actors I’ve read bad reports about in this last year.

    It is so easy to pick these actors out of the bunch. I get my kicks each night reading church websites.

    “I park all the time
    In the handicapped places
    While handicapped people
    Make handicapped faces —
    I’M ANOINTED! I’M ANOINTED! I’M PREDESTINED ELECT!”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX4hN2KAaww

  69. dee wrote:

    My experience with the SBC has helped me understand the EFCA. They claim that each church is autonomous. Then, the only ones the kick out are the ones who put women in the pastorate.

    Just like Calvary Chapel — totally independent congregations when it was to Papa Chuck’s advantage, a total Heirarchy of Moses Models when THAT was to Papa Chuck’s advantage.

  70. dee wrote:

    Unfortunately for these types of churches, they looooooove to discipline in very public ways and we have wonderful readers who are smart enough to keep email, texts, etc.

    They have to do it in public.
    Make an Example of one and a hundred will fall right into line.

  71. Divorce Minister wrote:

    This does not in any way excuse his behavior, mind you. Brock clearly needs serious help…

    There’s always Biblical(TM) Counseling.

    Remember: Daddy IS Head Pastor. That makes Brock as Highborn as Joffrey Baratheon-Lannister.

  72. May wrote:

    What is happening to the church in America? Zero accountability for so-called church leaders, whose only motives are power and greed

    Highborn and Lowborn, just like in Game of Thrones.

  73. If she divorced him why would it change anything whether he signed the papers or not? I am missing something here. Surely there was something in the legal procedures of that state to accommodate this situation.

  74. Christina wrote:

    Meanwhile, there are legitimate people like myself who are suffering and not one of you is willing to acknowledge that. This time, I won’t be back to this blog. It’s hypocritical to claim a group of people turns their back on people, when you’re silent to those who are going through tough times yourself.

    I’m not very sure how to respond. I have dramatically re-directed my giving in the last year or two and now give largely to local people and organizations that I know. In you were someone I knew well and did not help then that might constitute “turning my back”.

    One of the exceptions to my local concerns have been some of the stories of abuse presented on this site where the person has been shunned and their local support group has failed them. In those cases I scrapped some funds together both to help and to recognize the need to put money where my mouth is.

    I also have a daughter in much the same position as you and we are doing what we can to help. I have not brought those concerns here because I frankly don’t think that is the concern here, it is mine, but you could certainly pray that she finds a job also.

  75. Muff Potter wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    I’ll take a pack of wolves any day over these ________ ……….. Uhm, no nouns that will pass monitoring.
    Noah had wolves on the ark. All of the critters like these were left to drown.
    Me too Nancy2. Wolves are far more noble than these nabobs. Interesting side note: The only peoples to ever revere the wolf as totem & talisman were the Native Americans and the pre-ixtian Germanic tribes East of the Rhine. All other cultures loathed and despised the wolf.

    One of my writing partners is very into wolves.

    Wolves have a lot more class than these Anointed A-holes.

  76. @ okrapod:
    It keeps Brock in the bizarre good graces of their ridiculous belief system. She divorced instead of doing Matthew 18. Whatever that means. He “repented” by saying the magic words. Now she is bad. An unbeliever. He is good. It is all upside down.

    This is close to how Matt Chandlers Village treated Karen Hinckley. It is how they think.

  77. May wrote:

    But the more stories I read like this one the more I am forced to conclude that these men are thoroughly evil. Abuse of women is not only par for the course, but apparently publicly celebrated. (not just Brock, but Steve and all the male leaders abused Hurit). That stands to reason – one of the clear signposts of a regime that is rotten to the core is its mal-treatment of women and inherent, deep misogyny.

    They were trained early on by the Mohlers, Grudems, Pipers, Mahaney, and so on. They got them young. Others are attracted to the power and control. Their churches need to fail. Go out of business. Their denoms need to go out of business.

  78. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    Hi Christina,
    I would urge you to stick around for awhile. There really are a lot of caring people here.

    Hi Christina,

    I posted some additional resources for you over on the Open Discussion tab (right side of the screen) a few days ago. You didn’t respond. Perhaps you didn’t see it?

  79. With regard to Evangelical Free churches being autonomous, if the entire denomination goes neocalvinist along the lines of Acts29 etc., I expect that will change. Depends on how much of Calvin’s theology is absorbed though; the EFCA already has districts (kind of like synods or presbyteries) in addition to its national office. Does it have a general assembly yet? I’ll have to check.

  80. I would also dare say that the “SHEEP” (we are God’s children )are fighting back because unlike Mohler, Dever,Mahaney, Brock, Ken Rameys of this world we are not dirty ,smelly, stinky sheep! We are heirs to His kingdom who have had it with the whole lot of you who tie millstones and heavy loads on the necks of God’s children. We are no longer putting up with it! @ David (Eagle):
    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    I’ll take a pack of wolves any day over these ________ ……….. Uhm, no nouns that will pass monitoring.
    Noah had wolves on the ark. All of the critters like these were left to drown.
    Me too Nancy2. Wolves are far more noble than these nabobs. Interesting side note: The only peoples to ever revere the wolf as totem & talisman were the Native Americans and the pre-ixtian Germanic tribes East of the Rhine. All other cultures loathed and despised the wolf.

    One of my writing partners is very into wolves.

    Wolves have a lot more class than these Anointed A-holes.

  81. I am just sitting here speechless at this whole chain of events. How do these people even do and say these things with a straight face? They actually imagine they have the power to pronounce someone a Christian or not? LOL!

    I don’t know how Hurit hung in there as long as she did. I kept thinking of the case of William McCollum who shot his wife in the back while she slept. She needs to shake the dust off her feet and get away from this insane group of people!

    This guy, Brock, has serious problems. I’m no expert but I mean, wow. How many signs do you need before you say something is very seriously wrong here? I wonder if he was sexually abused as a child? It just seems like things have been swept under the rug with him to the point that rug is about to explode. One thing is for sure, he is not going to get any help remaining where he is, in this group of people. They’re nuts.

  82. dee wrote:

    Bill M wrote:
    “Unfortunately, there are significant varying perspectives on this situation and how things came to this point.
    I think Matt Chandler tweeted to me “You don’t have the whole story.”I responded “We have the emails or didn’t they tell you?” Unfortunately for these types of churches, they looooooove to discipline in very public ways and we have wonderful readers who are smart enough to keep email, texts, etc.

    I’m beginning to see a pattern here. “You don’t have the whole story,” inevitably mean you’ve hit the nail on the head and they have no rebuttal of substance. Next he’ll be talking about corpses.

  83. Christina wrote:

    I commented on the last post about me being jobless and possibly homeless next month and not one offer of prayer or encouragement from anyone. I had one person contribute to my Go Fund Me fund.

    Christina, I saw your link and was saddened that I cannot give to help you at this time. There have been so many needs lately and I do not have much to give. I prayed for you last night and I also asked God to give me more to give those in need. I want you to know that I care about you and would help you if I could.

  84. Divorce Minister wrote:

    From what was shared, it made me wonder if Brock was in the military. I am no mental health provider–just a professional chaplain–but the descriptions of what he was doing was suggestive of PTSD to this lay person. I did a residency in the Veterans’ Affairs Health Care System, and these issues in Brock seem eerily familiar. This does not in any way excuse his behavior, mind you. Brock clearly needs serious help, which is to say that his own father along with the church is failing him as well. Glad that Hurit has found support and gotten out of such a dangerous situation!

    Why in the world would they try to keep his problems secret instead of getting him the help he needs? I just don’t get these people. If you loved your son and he had PTSD (or whatever it is going on) wouldn’t you move heaven and earth to get him the best help possible? Nothing seems to matter to these people but the “outside of the cup.”

  85. Muff Potter wrote:

    It beggars the mind, it really does, to think that supposedly rational 21st century people can buy into this Medieval nonsense.

    Medieval is right. It seems like the evangelical church is moving into its own dark ages.

  86. These stories have made it a very hard week for me. And one question keeps coming up:
    Is there any wrong or transgression so great that these churches would treat a man this way?

  87. Uncle Dad wrote:

    This is a result of replacing God with the Bible. Men select snippets of “Scripture” and build their own fake theologies. They build their seminaries and ordain each other to give the impression that they are superior in their knowledge of all things “biblical” than we common folk. They are filled with the opinions of men, but demonstrate nothing of Jesus.

    I completely agree. These reformed types are making an idol out of the Bible, worshipping the actual words of God instead of the Word of God himself. Many of them also deny the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit doesn’t always play by their rules. It reminds me of the verse in 2 Timothy 3:5 “…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

  88. siteseer wrote:

    am just sitting here speechless at this whole chain of events. How do these people even do and say these things with a straight face? They actually imagine they have the power to pronounce someone a Christian or not? LOL!

    Yes, they do believe they have the power to pronounce someone a Christian or not. These drivel is brought to us by Mark Dever (Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.), founder of 9Marks of an [un]Healthy Church. There are other authoritarian, high-control groups like Dever’s. (Acts 29, John MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary and its graduates.)

    For all that the NeoCals decry the Roman Catholic Church the NeoCals have set up churches with a power structure exactly like the RCC. Every senior pastor is a pope, the elders/associate pastors are cardinals, and according to NeoCals/9Marks/John MacArthur/Acts 29 they have the “power of the keys” to pronounce whether someone is “saved” or not. As Gram3, who used to comment here on a regular basis, called it being “keyed out” of the church.

    The NeoCals in my experience are arrogant, manipulative bullies, and any lie will do about any Christian.

  89. Harley wrote:

    Maybe we should form our own church of those who have been excommunicated and the “done”. I bet it would be really great.

    I thought of forming a Sunday morning bowling league with cool shirts. Gram3, who hasn’t posted here for awhile, and Gramps3 (her husband) came up with a team name: Holy Rollers.

  90. siteseer wrote:

    If you loved your son and he had PTSD (or whatever it is going on) wouldn’t you move heaven and earth to get him the best help possible?

    They probably would not let their son get help for PTSD outside of nauthotic counseling and I don’t believe anyone in that group would be qualified to help someone with PTSD.

  91. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    But the Neo-Cals have been pushing “elder rule” for over a decade now, because their authoritarian goals require it. I don’t understand how those involved in this cultish thinking refuse to see how this approach directly contradicts the words of Jesus about leaders and Christian community. Of course, the cynical response is that they do understand.

    Some surely do understand exactly what they’re doing and relish in the opportunity to unleash their sadism on God’s people, and some are just damaged young men with the emotional maturity of a small child, often looking for a daddy figure, who are willing to give themselves into the hands of anyone who preaches to them a system that will put them on top and make them feel like somebody.

  92. Steve240 wrote:

    I don’t think I have seen this mentioned so far but isn’t this quite a conflict of interest for a pastor to be leading church discipline of his daughter in law.

    It is simply unbelievable. Anyone in that church who stays, knowing that this fellow evidently didn’t recuse himself, knowing that he excommunicated his own daughter-in-law because she refused to submit to his son’s egregious behavior, knowing that only the most unethical vicious monster would do such a thing and not see the travesty of making such a declaration when he had such a personal stake in the matter, is a bona fide lunatic.

    There has been some talk of people not having the right to call another an unbeliever. I fully agree that no one has the right to make an official declaration on behalf of a church body or any other group about someone else’s salvation or ultimate fate, however…I have no compunction about declaring the behavior of the self-proclaimed leader and anyone who would go along with him in this action to be utterly unchristian and very much a sign that they neither know Christ nor regard Him at all.

  93. Law Prof wrote:

    Some surely do understand exactly what they’re doing and relish in the opportunity to unleash their sadism on God’s people,

    At my ex, authoritarian, abusive NeoCal church (a 9 Marks/John MacArthur-ite) church the pastors/elders would tell church members from the pulpit as well in meetings to that the "pastors/elders will give an account to God for your souls", not to grieve those who lead you, blah blah blah.

    If a member asked the pastors/elders any hard questions about the running of the church, members were told that they were "bringing an accusation against an elder without cause", that you had to have "two witnesses" to bring an accusation against an elder, blah blah blah. Very manipulative.

  94. Kemi wrote:

    These reformed types are making an idol out of the Bible, worshipping the actual words of God instead

    I can’t quite put my finger on their error, I’m not a deep theologian, their view just doesn’t seem to have much joy. All of us are flawed in our understanding, their understanding doesn’t seem to lead to life and love, instead it seems to be about control, judgement, and death.

  95. dee wrote:

    I think Matt Chandler tweeted to me…

    I would think of all people in the world, that in an issue regarding church discipline, excommunication, abuse of a woman, unfairly taking the side of the abusive husband, etc., that Matt Chandler would be the last human being on the face of the earth who would want to impose himself into the situation.

    Mr. Chandler, do you really think you have a track record that would indicate you have anything but astonishingly poor judgment in such matters, as in 99.99th percentile bad judgment? What are you thinking, sir? Is this a parody? Is this a fake Matt Chandler twitter account that is coming at you, Dee? Check and see if there’s a dot or dash hidden there, it’s hard to believe anyone could be so stupid.

  96. Jack wrote:

    When I identified myself as Anglican, there was a look of disgust “Well, they’re just like Catholics!” and an awkward silence followed. I also have been told I’m not baptized because it was an infant baptism – an by extension I’m not christian

    The brighter amongst them might also have pointed out that the Church of England is illegitimate because Henry VIII had six wives, and therefore the whole Anglican Communion is also not Christian.

    Some Christians just love to believe they have a magical eraser that rubs names out of the Book of Life.

  97. @Jack,

    To the baptism argument I retort, “The thief on the cross wasn’t baptized either but Jesus said he was going to be in Paradise.”

  98. Law Prof wrote:

    it’s hard to believe anyone could be so stupid.

    A lot of incredibly stupid stuff is going on in the name of God. Our friends who left their church said, “We had corporate VP’s who deposited their brains at the curb as they drove into the church parking lot.”

  99. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Just like Calvary Chapel — totally independent congregations when it was to Papa Chuck’s advantage, a total Heirarchy of Moses Models when THAT was to Papa Chuck’s advantage.

    The scuttlebutt I’m hearing is that there may be a schism brewing in the Calvary Chapel brand name. The old guard (60 and over) wistfully long for the good old days when Papa Chuck was as revered and obeyed as Chairman Mao was in a bygone China. The young Turks rising through the ranks of the CC ‘Politburo’, of course want no such thing.

  100. @ Law Prof:
    I agree. A good tree does not bear bad fruit. What they have attempted to do is redefine bad fruit. Abuse, rape, deception, etc are no longer bad fruit in their world. Not obeying them is bad fruit.

  101. @ JYJames:
    This reminds me of a convo I had last month with a former elder of a local mega I know well. They opened one of 5 satellite Campuses in a less than desirable middle class area with the typical IMAG screen of the celebrity preaching week after week. He was complaining that people there want handouts. So, instead of giving as they should, they are asking for help. The other campi are in wealthy zip codes. I wonder how long it will last?

  102. JYJames wrote:

    Well, here’s a mega that is kaput: “That church is absolutely broke,” said Jack Anderson, a former member…http://bit.ly/1pmGY8q

    From an article about the same church some months ago before it failed:

    (interim pastor) “Bak plans to ask parishioners to give more.”
    “We all tithe 10 or 11 percent,” Bak said. “We have the goal of increasing that by 1 percent a year, so it will be 20 percent in 10 years.”

    Yeah, that’s the ticket, squeeze more money out of people.
    And you can’t have a story about a failing pastor without:
    interim pastor Bak responded to a blogger: “Your lies, slander and harassment do not befit a man of God. Please stop.”’

    I don’t know the context of the “slander” complaint but my bias in hearing the accusation sure has changed in the last year. Reading about the breakup, some characterize it as opposition to a woman pastor, others as heavy handed leadership. I’ve seen both in my community but by far lot more of the leadership problem. I’m glad I don’t have to offer solutions any more, trying to make one of these churches function. I’m okay being off the treadmill of institutional churchianity.

  103. Velour wrote:

    @Jack,
    To the baptism argument I retort, “The thief on the cross wasn’t baptized either but Jesus said he was going to be in Paradise.”

    Love the response but it implies that my own baptism was illegitimate in some way – joking there. I saw your response to Christina. Very compassionate and very good advice.

  104. JYJames wrote:

    @ dee:
    Yes, wow, another good insight from TWW. The illusion of the megas.
    Well, here’s a mega that is kaput: “That church is absolutely broke,” said Jack Anderson, a former member…http://bit.ly/1pmGY8q

    The family and I used to attend this mega back when there was anything but heavy-handed leadership; we were heavily plugged in, Sunday School teachers, on boards, etc. It was genrally a good fellowship. The problem with North Heights was they let too many things through the doors that they shouldn’t and it eventually bit them. They used to have a large conference each year there were some fine people there, but it became too much about celebrity speakers, and some of the celebrities were pretty shady characters. They finally hired one of those shady types of characters, a senior pastor who brought some vaguely occultic practices into the church, namely 3DM (google it). They eventually ousted the cultist pastor a couple years ago, but it was too late, many of the core people had already left in disgust, the latest shakeup with Bak was just the final blow.

    Was once a good church, but I believe they came to believe their own press and were taken down by their own hubris. Lesson for us all.

  105. Jack wrote:

    Love the response but it implies that my own baptism was illegitimate in some way – joking there.

    With NeoCals, just tell them that God knew you were among The Elect and that your infant baptism is fine! (LOL. I’m sorry. I really shouldn’t. But these legalists just drive me over the edge.)

    Thank you regarding my posts to someone in need.

  106. Law Prof wrote:

    They finally hired one of those shady types of characters, a senior pastor who brought some vaguely occultic practices into the church, namely 3DM (google it).

    I’ve spent a few hours doing just that. 3DM, Mike Breen, “Senior Guardian” of The order of Mission (TOM). Good grief there is a lot of rancid stuff passing though the church. I guess if it is trendy it doesn’t matter how bad it stinks.

  107. @ dee:

    I see what you’re saying and don’t entirely disagree, but there have been some self professing Christians who I don’t think are actual Christians. Mark Driscoll being one.

    I think if you allow yourself (not you in particular but a general you) to consider that maybe a Driscoll or Pastor X is not a real Christian but a fraud, the church might be able to weed out more fakes.

    As it is, many Christians tolerate these jokers for months or years. A Driscoll never is pushed out. He keeps preying on people, taking their money, and he just recently started over at a new church.

    I’d also say the preachers and whomever at most of these churches I read about on this blog (and others) who are defending the guilty (child molesters or abusive husbands) and/or into victim blaming are probably not Christians (they are false teachers or wolves in sheeps clothing the New Testament warns Christians to be on the look out for).

  108. dee wrote:

    Then he is left with the boozing and abusing son so he has to shut everyone up.

    Has this guy ever remarried?

    Assuming he’s still single and wants to marry again, I’d say his chances at a second marriage are pretty shot, if any woman he dates in the future googles his name.

    I don’t see him being able to marry again, unless the woman in question is somehow duped by the cultic church and/or has terribly low self esteem and doesn’t think she deserves better.

    OR – the guy convinces her that all the stuff about his first wife was all made up.

  109. @ Christina:

    I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time.

    I’ve been going thru a rough time the last few years myself, with nobody to turn to.

    As I said on another GoFundMe related account (the one about the lady who needed rent money and new graphics software), I don’t have any money to donate to anyone.

    I hope your situation improves.

  110. @ Nancy2:

    If only the SBC showed any where near as much support of adult singles. Well, the nice parts of it.

    I’m not keen on the legalistic picky stuff, like you have to attend one of their churches if they marry you or whatever.

    They need to snap out of the marriage trance. More and more Americans are not marrying, or are not marrying until later in life. They should start marketing to singles more, and I don’t mean young singles, like teens or early 20 somethings.

  111. Harley wrote:

    Excommunication must be the new buzzword as we are hearing it a lot lately.

    I always tended to associate that word with Roman Catholicism.

    I never would have thought I’d see the day when Baptists or Protestants were into that.

    Why did the Protestants bother breaking off from the Catholic Church in the first place since, in recent years, goodness knows they are apparently trying to mimic aspects of it??

  112. I wonder if Hurit had been Steve Estes biological daughter (not his DIL) and Brock his son- in- law (not bio son), if he would have handled this all differently?

    Unless the dad in question is slavishly, freakishly devoted to gender complementarianism (if he’s deeply misogynistic), I cannot image a father taking the abusive husband’s side over the daughter’s, ex-communicating the daughter over wanting a divorce and so on, and wanting to hand his own daughter over to Satan.

  113. Daisy wrote:

    Harley wrote:
    Excommunication must be the new buzzword as we are hearing it a lot lately.

    I always tended to associate that word with Roman Catholicism.

    I never would have thought I’d see the day when Baptists or Protestants were into that.

    Yes, the new breed of NeoCals taking over churches are a vicious bunch. Prior to their excommunications/shunnings of the saints for any reason (wanting to leave the church to go to another church, having critical thinking skills, disagreeing, not agreeing to obey and submit to the pastors/elders every whim in how one should run your life) members are called in to bullying sessions, not permitted to bring witnesses, and threatened with “not being one of us”. The usual Scripture verses about same are read.

    The NeoCals are also vicious liars and any lie about any saint will do.

  114. Found this on a post from TWW Dee on Jan. 5th, 2016: “Any [Converge] pastor/elder who endorses Mark Driscoll and doesn’t get a question or two from the leadership means that Converge isn’t doing its job.”

    Maybe this is how cancer spreads. I would reword it this way: Any – [affinity group/network/partnership] pastor/elder who endorses [serious wrongdoer/ing] and doesn’t get a question of two from the leadership means that the [affinity group/network/partnership] is not doing its job.

    Overlooking evil doesn’t cut the mustard. If this is the standard, then what in the world is the church here for anyway?

  115. “Pharisees invest heavily in extrinsic religious gestures, rituals, methods, and techniques, breeding allegedly holy people who are judgmental, mechanical, lifeless and as intolerant of others as they are of themselves – violent people, the very opposite of holiness and love, “the type of spiritual people who, conscious of their spirituality, then proceed to crucify the Messiah.” Jesus did not die at the hands of muggers, rapists, or thugs. He fell into the well-scrubbed hands of deeply religious people, society’s most respected members.”

    -Brennan Manning, “Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging, page 71

  116. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    extrinsic religious gestures

    … in other words, fakery, like Enron in Houston or whale watching in Mankato. “The perception is the reality; as long as you can keep the perception going on, it is the reality.”

  117. Law Prof wrote:

    … who are willing to give themselves into the hands of anyone who preaches to them a system that will put them on top and make them feel like somebody.

    “Brewery-wagon driver saved from obscurity by his beloved Nazis.”
    — Leon Uris, Armageddon: a Novel of Berlin, describing a (fictional) concentration/death camp commandant

  118. Velour wrote:

    For all that the NeoCals decry the Roman Catholic Church the NeoCals have set up churches with a power structure exactly like the RCC. Every senior pastor is a pope, the elders/associate pastors are cardinals, and according to NeoCals/9Marks/John MacArthur/Acts 29 they have the “power of the keys” to pronounce whether someone is “saved” or not.

    The reason for the Reformation was because THEY wanted to be the Pope in the Vatican, THEIR hands holding the power of the keys to bind and loose, THEIR butt on the Chair of Peter, THEIR voice being the one to pronounce Dogma Ex Cathedra.

    And the Universe cannot have two centers.

  119. Lydia wrote:

    They were trained early on by the Mohlers, Grudems, Pipers, Mahaney, and so on. They got them young. Others are attracted to the power and control.

    Mohlerjugend, Grudemjugend, Piperjugend, Mahaneyjugend (HUMBLY, of course), Driscolljugend…

    And when they hit adulthood, Fuehrerjugend normally graduate into the SS and/or Gestapo. Enforcers for the Fuehrer.

  120. Daisy wrote:

    dee wrote:
    Then he is left with the boozing and abusing son so he has to shut everyone up.
    Has this guy ever remarried?
    Assuming he’s still single and wants to marry again, I’d say his chances at a second marriage are pretty shot, if any woman he dates in the future googles his name.
    I don’t see him being able to marry again, unless the woman in question is somehow duped by the cultic church and/or has terribly low self esteem and doesn’t think she deserves better.
    OR – the guy convinces her that all the stuff about his first wife was all made up.

    He told her that he believed that marriage would solve his pornography addiction. Obviously it didn’t and I would ask “What kind of pornography was he into?… there’s lots of creepy kinds… and did he have another life on the side? His parents could well be aware of the bigger extent of his problems.

  121. Kemi wrote:

    I completely agree. These reformed types are making an idol out of the Bible, worshipping the actual words of God instead of the Word of God himself. Many of them also deny the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit doesn’t always play by their rules. It reminds me of the verse in 2 Timothy 3:5 “…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

    This is how Jesus described it in JOHNN 5:39–40:

    “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

  122. JYJames wrote:

    Overlooking evil doesn’t cut the mustard. If this is the standard, then what in the world is the church here for anyway?

    This is what I have asked. What was my need that I was part of it for so long? I cannot even find an intelligent reason to go listen to the same guy give a sermon week after week unless it is some scholar who is teaching historical context.

  123. Law Prof wrote:

    some are just damaged young men with the emotional maturity of a small child

    In my experience at SBTS, that was the majority of students – and not a small amount of faculty, especially the younger new (sycophantic) males that Al Mohler continues to surround himself with. “We are oft to blame in this, ‘Tis too much proved, that with devotion’s visage And pious action we do sugar o’er The devil himself.”

  124. BC wrote:

    He told her that he believed that marriage would solve his pornography addiction.

    “Just like ‘Start Getting Laid, that’ll solve ALL your problems’, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

  125. JYJames wrote:

    Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    extrinsic religious gestures

    … in other words, fakery, like Enron in Houston or whale watching in Mankato.

    In a religious context, isn’t this called “Mumbo Jumbo” or “Priestcraft”?

  126. Kemi wrote:

    These reformed types are making an idol out of the Bible, worshipping the actual words of God instead of the Word of God himself.

    It’s not just the reformed sects. Ever been a Calvary Chapelite? They are not reformed and some of their gurus have even gone out of their way to refute reformed theology (Dr. Norman Geisler comes to mind*). The Bible is front and center at Calvary Chapel. That’s not a bad thing per se but when it becomes a be all, and an end all in itself, it can become just as rigid and stultifying as Wahhabi Islam has made their Qu’ran.

    *Geisler holds legitimate PhD in philosophy from Loyola University.

  127. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    BC wrote:
    He told her that he believed that marriage would solve his pornography addiction.
    “Just like ‘Start Getting Laid, that’ll solve ALL your problems’, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    I agree with you. My point being that I think his problem is worse than has been revealed so far and his parents are probably guiltier than we even realize as this is not something that sprang out of nowhere and out of nothing.

  128. Steve240 wrote:

    This is how Jesus described it in JOHNN 5:39–40:
    “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

    Bingo!

  129. Muff Potter wrote:

    It’s not just the reformed sects. Ever been a Calvary Chapelite? They are not reformed and some of their gurus have even gone out of their way to refute reformed theology (Dr. Norman Geisler comes to mind*). The Bible is front and center at Calvary Chapel. That’s not a bad thing per se but when it becomes a be all, and an end all in itself, it can become just as rigid and stultifying as Wahhabi Islam has made their Qu’ran.
    *Geisler holds legitimate PhD in philosophy from Loyola University.

    Funny you should ask that! I “got saved” at a Calvary Chapel punk rock concert 35+ years ago. Papa Chuck was on stage with guys sporting mohawks and presented the gospel with love and grace. I sat under his excellent teaching for 3 years before I went away to college. The people at the church, however, were a different story and I had no fellowship there. I have no doubt the reports of abuse in the Calvary Chapel system have merit, even those against Papa Chuck. Still, I will always be grateful for what he taught me, particularly regarding Calvinism, and his belief in the working of the Holy Spirit.

  130. JYJames wrote:

    Overlooking evil doesn’t cut the mustard. If this is the standard, then what in the world is the church here for anyway?

    Well said.

  131. @ brian: I have long been biting my tongue about the political situation. I have been aware of his stands on these issues and others. After the fighting is over with, I plan to write a bit more about some of the religious stands of the candidates that people might find interesting.

  132. Kemi wrote:

    “You don’t have the whole story,” inevitably mean you’ve hit the nail on the head and they have no rebuttal of substance.

    Bot did you nail it!

  133. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been hoping for a story about this denomination here. I attended Fullerton FEFC back in the late 1980s and into 1990s when Chuck Swindoll was the pastor. As I’ve read here over the last year, I’ve wondered what might have been happening under the hood at FEFC Fullerton because I remembered some of the senior pastors’ connections to R.C. Sproul. My own spiritual crisis ended my attendance there, so I don’t know what’s been developing in that church’s theology over the last couple of decades.

  134. dee wrote:

    I have been aware of his stands on these issues and others. After the fighting is over with, I plan to write a bit more about some of the religious stands of the candidates that people might find interesting.

    Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath. I’ve been waiting for the fight to be over for decades, one campaign ends and another starts.

  135. Kemi wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:
    It’s not just the reformed sects. Ever been a Calvary Chapelite? They are not reformed and some of their gurus have even gone out of their way to refute reformed theology (Dr. Norman Geisler comes to mind*). The Bible is front and center at Calvary Chapel. That’s not a bad thing per se but when it becomes a be all, and an end all in itself, it can become just as rigid and stultifying as Wahhabi Islam has made their Qu’ran.
    *Geisler holds legitimate PhD in philosophy from Loyola University.
    Funny you should ask that! I “got saved” at a Calvary Chapel punk rock concert 35+ years ago. Papa Chuck was on stage with guys sporting mohawks and presented the gospel with love and grace. I sat under his excellent teaching for 3 years before I went away to college. The people at the church, however, were a different story and I had no fellowship there. I have no doubt the reports of abuse in the Calvary Chapel system have merit, even those against Papa Chuck. Still, I will always be grateful for what he taught me, particularly regarding Calvinism, and his belief in the working of the Holy Spirit.

    And good may come of what he said, for what it’s worth. Once knew an old missionary to China, who’d “retired” into the associate pastorate of a megachurch, who told me “Chairman Mao was the greatest revivalist in world history, he arrested the church leaders, shut down churches and forced the true church underground, and Christianity spread throughout China.” If God can use Mao and Nebuchadnezzer, he can sure use Chuck Smith.

    Having been on that stage before, giving those impersonal talks for the adoring crowd, let me tell you it’s easy to put on a good show, especially when the better the talk, the more the personal benefit for the speaker. He may have taught the truth, but you have no notion, absolutely none at all, whether it was given with true love and true grace.

  136. dee wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    I probably was not clear. Chandler tweeted me during his situation last summer. I am sorry for any confusion.

    Ah, got it. I was wondering what sort of world it was where anyone would do that. Good enough.

  137. @ dee:
    Assuming this is about the mega that failed, I am not familiar with the church per se. And I had to look up “ARC”. However, the analysis TWW and Eagle are doing regarding networks, I feel, is extremely important. The fact that these guys (mostly guys) prop each other up makes a network complicit. We were going to visit a fellowship near our extended family over Easter (where we will be). However, in noting its affiliations, (ARC, Converge, 9Marks, or TGC, etc.), we will skip it. No point. Why would one fellowship-with/listen-to-a-sermon-under those who do not have the backbone to stand up to a rapist, pedophile, wife abuser, porn addict, etc., that is propped up by their network? Is that the purpose of the church: “We’ve got your backside, perp, while together we throw your victim(s) under the bus,”?

  138. All of this is enough to put christian women off marriage for life. What kind of lesson is it to the young women in that congregation that men can just do anything & you have to keep going back for more?
    Do you suppose anyone even thought of taking the ‘husband’ & berating him for his horrific actions towards his wife, seemingly not caring how his alcoholism, sleep disorder, whatever he does when in the grips of his sleep disorder affects her? Did no-one tell him she is a sacred trust to him, & he should fear God for treating her so badly? I think we all know how this story goes, & how it would have gone had it been the wife who had these issues, not the husband.

  139. Law Prof wrote:

    Having been on that stage before, giving those impersonal talks for the adoring crowd, let me tell you it’s easy to put on a good show, especially when the better the talk, the more the personal benefit for the speaker. He may have taught the truth, but you have no notion, absolutely none at all, whether it was given with true love and true grace.

    I am sure you are right, Law Prof.

    And isn’t this just a perfect example of why so many in the pews usually refuse to stand with victims? It’s hard to condemn someone who was instrumental in your own salvation. But condemn we must; justice demands it.

  140. Today at church, Mr. pastor dude told us to sign in because it would help them “connect with and shepherd us”. Here in Dallas, they’re openly using the word.

    http://www.watermark.org/blog/discussion-questions-january-10-2016

    My question is, can these guys who are so upset with the ways of the Southern Baptist Convention they were reared in just stay there and leave the EFCA or my PCA alone?

    In near north Dallas, where most of the churches popular with young singles are, there’s an Episcopalian church called Church of the Incarnation. They tore down their old building and opened a completely new one for the first Sunday of this year. Their young adults minister was running a now deleted Meetup group inviting young singles from area churches to socialize and join churches as covenant members in a poorly written and non-sequitur description. Unfortunately I have not learned the TWW ways well enough to remember take a screenshot. He follows all the usual suspects on Twitter including Dever. You can go to the website and and learn about their growth groups, community life groups, AND support groups. So, I’d say look out for YRR going into the mainlines too.

  141. @ Stan:

    Uh oh. Having exited a 9Marks/John MacAthur-ite church (I was actually excommunicated for opposing the pastors/elders bringing in their friend a Megan’s List sex offender, giving him membership, putting him a position of leadership and trust, telling no one, giving him latitude to attend all events where parents bring their children, and INVITING him to volunteer for 5-days at summer basketball camp for children that our church puts on and not telling all parents or the Seventh Day Adventists school in Santa Clara County, CA, whom we rented the gym from.)

    I learned my lesson after seeing the enormous damage done by 9Marks, which is just another version of the Heavy Shepherding Movement.

    I will never:
    *join a church again that takes attendance (this is a 9Marks thing, the calls to follow up with you and to admonish you to remember to meet with the saints)
    *Church Membership Covenants. Just a legal document used by pastors/elders like a crowbar to insinuate themselves into members’ lives about anything. It’s just more authoritarian control.

    Pastor Wade Burlson’s excellent article (he’s the E-Church pastor here on Sundays) about why he wouldn’t sign a Membership Covenant:
    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2015/05/five-reasons-to-say-no-to-church.html

    *Elder-Led. Nope. Nada. No. This is more authoritarian control. I will only go to a church again that has a congregational vote where all members, men and women alike, get a say in the running of our church, where we belong, where we give our time and money.
    *Nouthetic Counseling. Being screamed at by a bunch of elders with no professional training or licensing. Listening to their dumb, insufferable opinions about things they know nothing about and are incompetent to render advice about.
    *Patriarchy. A lie. All of this obey and submit stuff. A Semi-Arian (not Aryan) heresy that is being taught about the Eternal Subordination of the Son.
    *Women in leadership/teaching. If I hear one more time that a woman can’t preach/teach, I think I will scream. Who cares whom is teaching as long as they are truthfully and lovingly teaching the Word of God?

    I won’t give a dime again to one of these churches. Vote with your feet and your wallet.

  142. Stan wrote:

    So, I’d say look out for YRR going into the mainlines too.

    Yes, we all have to keep an eye out. I have spoken with all clergy and several active parishioners in my mainline church about membership covenants, church discipline, etc. Most were surprised and horrified.

    No church is completely safe from this stuff. When many millions of Christians believe that legalism and abuse are right, proper, and ancient, that misconception will seep into other places, like water coming in under the door.

  143. Daisy wrote:

    I always tended to associate that word [excommunication] with Roman Catholicism.
    I never would have thought I’d see the day when Baptists or Protestants were into that.

    Decades ago I sat outside a room in which a Southern Baptist performed an excommunication on a Presbyterian… I was waiting for a ride, so was let in on the big secret. The Baptist was convinced that our campus Christian group was being attacked by Satan for the usual reason (we were such great people of faith). He used to point out witches in the dorm, and once accused me of witchcraft. The whole campus fellowship took this guy seriously, and I think he was sincere. These days I can’t believe our level of paranoia. This happened at a mid-size private university.

  144. @ Friend:

    What denomination is your church? I am looking and just don’t want a nuthouse like the last 9Marks/John MacArthur place.

  145. Friend wrote:

    The Baptist was convinced that our campus Christian group was being attacked by Satan for the usual reason (we were such great people of faith). He used to point out witches in the dorm, and once accused me of witchcraft. The whole campus fellowship took this guy seriously,

    That’s how I describe my ex-NeoCal/9Marks/John MacArthur-ite church: Salem Witch Trials II.

    I have never seen so many dear saints lied about and falsely accused for the smallest of infractions, thoughts, wanting to leave and go to a saner church.

  146. Gosh!! IIRC Church of the Incarnation used to be prominent in the charismatic renewal way back in the day. One of its then-members wrote the beautiful hymn, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.” So sad to think that it’s going Neo-Cal. OTOH classic Calvinism is definitely part of the Anglican tradition. Still, one doesn’t usually think of charismatics going Calvinista. But then, didn’t that very thing happen with SGM?

    Stan wrote:

    Today at church, Mr. pastor dude told us to sign in because it would help them “connect with and shepherd us”. Here in Dallas, they’re openly using the word.

    http://www.watermark.org/blog/discussion-questions-january-10-2016

    My question is, can these guys who are so upset with the ways of the Southern Baptist Convention they were reared in just stay there and leave the EFCA or my PCA alone?

    In near north Dallas, where most of the churches popular with young singles are, there’s an Episcopalian church called Church of the Incarnation. They tore down their old building and opened a completely new one for the first Sunday of this year. Their young adults minister was running a now deleted Meetup group inviting young singles from area churches to socialize and join churches as covenant members in a poorly written and non-sequitur description. Unfortunately I have not learned the TWW ways well enough to remember take a screenshot. He follows all the usual suspects on Twitter including Dever. You can go to the website and and learn about their growth groups, community life groups, AND support groups. So, I’d say look out for YRR going into the mainlines too.

  147. On second thought, I may be getting Church of the Incarnation confused with a Houston-area Episcopal parish from back in the day. Houston…Dallas…easily confused. (Ducks for cover.)

  148. dee wrote:

    @ JYJames:
    Did you see that they joined the ARC a few years back?

    There are two different ARCs, there’s the Alliance for Renewal Churches (which the erstwhile North Heights was part of) and the other ARC, the one that I believe has been discussed here for its authoritiarianism.

  149. Kemi wrote:

    And isn’t this just a perfect example of why so many in the pews usually refuse to stand with victims? It’s hard to condemn someone who was instrumental in your own salvation. But condemn we must; justice demands it.

    Fist bump to you.

  150. @ Velour:

    All kinds of advice from Velour! I don’t think there’s a reason to worry about me – I’m pretty up to speed on all those things. For one, there’s a difference between finding out a church has always been in that camp and you just weren’t clued in to their signals (ie, the stuff on the websites), and being at a church full of good people who chose it for the same reasons you did until a few staff members who went to The Village when they were in seminary get hired. People trust their religious institutions. For two, I have volunteer commitments I’d like to complete.

    @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:

    I’m definitely talking about Dallas. I didn’t know anything about the church before these things got my attention, and always assumed it was liberal because there is an AMiA church literally a mile down the road.

  151. Stan wrote:

    My question is, can these guys who are so upset with the ways of the Southern Baptist Convention they were reared in just stay there and leave the EFCA or my PCA alone?

    There are not enough jobs. They tried it with church planting but that takes tons of money to do it their way. The stealth takeovers are still happening.

    Besides, they are convinced the others don’t have the “true Gospel” and they are God’s appointed messengers to save you from ignorance. ( Seriously, Mohler told an audience of pastors and wannabes pastors that a few years back)

    And finally, one must make a living on stage. It’s what they do. They don’t know how to do anything else.

  152. Beakerj wrote:

    All of this is enough to put christian women off marriage for life. What kind of lesson is it to the young women in that congregation that men can just do anything & you have to keep going back for more?
    Do you suppose anyone even thought of taking the ‘husband’ & berating him for his horrific actions towards his wife, seemingly not caring how his alcoholism, sleep disorder, whatever he does when in the grips of his sleep disorder affects her? Did no-one tell him she is a sacred trust to him, & he should fear God for treating her so badly? I think we all know how this story goes, & how it would have gone had it been the wife who had these issues, not the husband.

    I agreed with all of that.

    I said on some other thread on here just the other day that the gender complementarian Christians who are worried with dropping marriage rates among Christians don’t realize that how they are teaching marriage (man = boss, wife = slave who must endure being abused and/or treated like a child) are turning single Christian women off to marriage, at least marriage to gender complementarian men and/or Christian men in general.

    I just saw a discussion on another site a couple of days ago by egalitarian or mutualist Christian single women who say they now view “Christian” as being a liability in dating, when they are dating sites and see a guy describe himself as “Christian.” Some of them actually steer clear of men who say they are Christian on dating sites.

    On some dating sites, you can check off if you believe “man should be head of household” on your profile, and some of the single Christian women say they avoid men who check off “Yes” on that category.

  153. @ Daisy:

    Post Script. All that in spite of the “not all comps, comp is deeply respectful of women, comps are effective at standing against domestic violence” propaganda complementarians write in their blogs.

    Regular, every day Christian single women who want to get married are not fooled by any of that. They know at the end of the day that comp can foster domestic violence or sexist attitudes towards women, and they’d rather not take a chance on that the comp guy on a dating site who sends them a flirty message.

  154. @ Friend:
    This is so weird to my experience growing up SBC in many different churches due to my mom being a musician and music director. Excommunications were things my Catholic friends whispered about. Where I came from, we were glad when the alcoholic came to church or the pregnant unmarried teen. Seems the SBC was not so monolithic until recently.

  155. Daisy wrote:

    Regular, every day Christian single women who want to get married are not fooled by any of that. They know at the end of the day that comp can foster domestic violence or sexist attitudes towards women

    I also think Comp/Patriarchy damages many women mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve seen rising levels of depression and other problems in Comp women who have to put up with this insufferable you-are-just-a-doormat or wall-to-wall-carpeting attitude.

    As Brad, @futuristguy, has named it “Shehad” (She+Had, sounds like jihad) for the NeoCals’ war on women via this Patriarchy teaching (which is a Semi-Arian, not Aryan, heresy, i.e. The “Eternal” Subordination of the Son).

  156. Stan wrote:

    I don’t think there’s a reason to worry about me – I’m pretty up to speed on all those things.

    Glad you’re up to speed on those things. I wish I had been. I am all the wiser now.

  157. @ Velour:

    I’m a twenty-something who accepted Christ as an adult. I wasn’t going to get involved in a church unless I had could find out what these words meant and who these men being quoted were, and that’s how I found Wartburg Watch. I think that the seeker-sensitive movement has produced a generation of non-believers who may be interested in the Christian community, but know how many churches hide what they really want members to believe and do, and end up deciding not to take the risk.

  158. @ Stan:

    Your take is interesting on the seeker-sensitive movement.

    Gram3, who hasn’t posted here in awhile (I do miss her), noted that many times when we want to leave one problem church that we miss the danger signs in the next church. That was my experience, sadly. I went from a mega church that I thought was on the wrong track for a much smaller church, which turned out to be a NeoCalvinist, authoritarian, patriarchy church — complete with excommunications and shunning for the slightest dissent. Smaller didn’t mean better or healthier.

  159. @ Friend:

    “I have spoken with all clergy and several active parishioners in my mainline church about membership covenants, church discipline, etc. Most were surprised and horrified”
    +++++++++++

    hi, friend. can I ask what it is that you said/explained to these people? it seems to have clearly got their attention.

  160. @ Friend:

    Can report the same experience. I told some mainline Christians I was considering leaving evangelicalism and they thought the biggest decision point one could face was traditional vs. contemporary, or if there were actually people under 45 there on a Sunday. “Well you see, they have these small groups, but everyone has to be in one…” And just that brought out the shocked :O faces.

  161. @ Daisy:

    “Regular, every day Christian single women who want to get married are not fooled by any of that. They know at the end of the day that comp can foster domestic violence or sexist attitudes towards women, and they’d rather not take a chance on that the comp guy on a dating site who sends them a flirty message.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    or perhaps the notion of having to turn over one’s full-fledged adult responsibility for decision-making to your male counterpart is just plain insulting and ridiculous.

  162. @ Law Prof:
    Thanks. Clarification is good. Again, the investigative reporting you folks and Eagle are doing is important. Walk into a church and know what one is getting into.

    “Cheers to all of the folks who do their own research. In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”

  163. Sorry for this long post. This is a post for Hurit.

    I’m a Long timer lurker. This hits close to home for me, both geographically and emotionally. Many of the names of this leadership are familiar to me. Sad to see the name of Nate Saint, son of the one of the five Wheaton graduates who were killed in Ecuador in the 1950s. I am so saddened that this has happened to another victim, another Church, another leader(s) of great reputation. But Hear This: I believe Hurit.

    Hurit: if there is anyway I can encourage you, help you not feel so alone, help point you to some better local resources to aid in your recovery and possibly recover your dignity within your community. All of these things, I wish and pray for you.

    Steve Estes may be on the board of CCEF (a counseling service not affiliated with Evangelical Free) and – I could possibly understand that someone there felt there was a conflict of interest in giving you counsel regarding a board member’s son – but sending you away without a referral was unconscionable, unethical and mean-spirited. While Steve may be a board member, and we all may have several stories of nouthetic counseling shortfalls, there are some on that staff that would never condone what happened to you.

    With the additions of Winston Smith and Mike Emlet, M.D to the faculty, there are now acknowledgments and understandings of mental illness and personality disorders at EECF. Both of these men recognize abuse and the various strategies employed by perpetrators and their enablers.

    Steve may be using his board position as a scare tactic to you or perhaps to add credibility of his own spiritual/physiological insights, but you have the truth. And a God that knows the truth. We, here all see the familiar pattern. We could almost predict the outcome, but it never is easy to hear a tale like yours. And day by day as your story is told, others will see the sickening pattern. Over time, more people here and in your community will see it. Hold your head high. You are God’s beloved!

    I’m writing that there is increasing evidence that even within CCEF, Steve would not be supported in excommunicating you or in minimizing what happened to you, much less protecting his son. Shame on him. Shame on his leadership for creating the environment where they became passive yes men to his increasing sheltered and pampered authority

    I hope that you have an amazing counselor who really gets abuse in relation to Christian organizations. I would highly recommend Diane Langberg in Jenkintown, PA. It would be a bit of a hike but she is one of the foremost clinicians in respect to PTSD and abuse. She is a strong advocate and has limited her personal counseling to abuse victims. It may be a bit hard to get past her receptionist, but your story deserves her counsel. She also has prominent standing and respect within the Christian community and she has often sparred with similar incidents. She also has a large library of tapes, some of which I have heard. She definitely gets narcissism, personality disorders, and authority run amuck in churches.

    I hope that you have discovered the writings of Bucks County author, Leslie Vernick, author of The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Leslie’s writings are particularly helpful for those of us ensconced in churches and communities where biblical texts have been distorted by patriarchy. Leslie has received several endorsements from leaders within this same camp! Check out some of those supporting Leslie’s messages: Winston Smith, MDiv, director of counseling services and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, Joe Henseler, senior pastor of Faith Evangelical Free Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Jeff Crippen, pastor and author of A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church, Carolyn Custis James, author of The Gospel of Ruth and Half the Church, Tim Clinton, PhD, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors and executive director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University, Jeffery Black, PhD, associate pastor of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, licensed psychologist, chair and professor of the masters in Christian counseling at Philadelphia Biblical University.

    Hopefully you’ve already found the blogs, CryingOutForJustice.com graceformyheart.wordpress.com and leslievernick.com.

    If you’d like further support or information, I hope the Deebs would provide my email address to you. I’m about forty to fifty minutes southeast of Elverson.

  164. O, what tangled webs have been woven!
    CCEF. That name keeps popping up, doesn’t it? Does the name Paul Tripp ring a bell? He served on the faculty of CCEF and wrote many CCEF publications. Tripp also served on Mark Driscoll’s/Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA). uh.

  165. Law Prof wrote:

    Having been on that stage before, giving those impersonal talks for the adoring crowd, let me tell you it’s easy to put on a good show, especially when the better the talk, the more the personal benefit for the speaker.

    Just like that TED talk, an actor (Koine Greek hypokritos) giving a performance.

  166. Velour wrote:

    Friend wrote:
    The Baptist was convinced that our campus Christian group was being attacked by Satan for the usual reason (we were such great people of faith). He used to point out witches in the dorm, and once accused me of witchcraft. The whole campus fellowship took this guy seriously,
    That’s how I describe my ex-NeoCal/9Marks/John MacArthur-ite church: Salem Witch Trials II.
    I have never seen so many dear saints lied about and falsely accused for the smallest of infractions, thoughts, wanting to leave and go to a saner church.

    Oh my! In 2016 instead of 1694? Next thing someone will tell me one of the Neo Cal glitterati says that the Salem witch trials were right and maybe we should go back to b______ ng people accused of witch craft. Ugh! nothing would surprise me.

  167. Kemi wrote:

    Funny you should ask that! I “got saved” at a Calvary Chapel punk rock concert 35+ years ago. Papa Chuck was on stage with guys sporting mohawks and presented the gospel with love and grace. I sat under his excellent teaching for 3 years before I went away to college.

    Possible that Entropy set in and Papa Chuck started believing in his own PR and his own Importance. I suspect the same thing happened to a LOT of preachers.

  168. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Possible that Entropy set in and Papa Chuck started believing in his own PR and his own Importance. I suspect the same thing happened to a LOT of preachers.

    I am sure that sadly happens a lot. Pastors forget that their abilities are a gift God gave them and that their success is God doing the work.

    I Cor 3:6-9
    I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

  169. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    Pharisees invest heavily in extrinsic religious gestures, rituals, methods, and techniques, breeding allegedly holy people who are judgmental, mechanical, lifeless and as intolerant of others as they are of themselves – violent people, the very opposite of holiness and love, “the type of spiritual people who, conscious of their spirituality, then proceed to crucify the Messiah.” Jesus did not die at the hands of muggers, rapists, or thugs. He fell into the well-scrubbed hands of deeply religious people, society’s most respected members.”

    Well, you know, that sounds like a good use of the english language to cover a lot of possibilities and to elicit at least some negative response from probably most people …but….

    I belong to a religious group that has ‘extrinsic religious gestures, rituals, methods and techniques’ and who are not only criticized for that very thing but also severely criticized specifically for not being ‘judgmental’ and ‘intolerant’ enough to suit some folks who would rather dance naked in the streets apparently than participate in some religious ritual, aka ‘hollow ritual.’

    I am of the opinion that the problem does not lie in these externals of religious practice but rather the problem lies within the human heart and could and does manifest itself in a lot of different ways in a lot of different kinds of circumstances.

  170. dee wrote:

    After the fighting is over with

    Too late, Dee. We go vote tomorrow in the primaries in this state.

  171. I was so stunned by the headline that I am commenting before reading the article.

    (Not that we do everything perfectly, but) at least Pope Francis has called for this year to be the Year of Mercy. We Catholics are trying our hardest to be like Jesus in this regard. And yes, we fail at this and try and try again. Time for more than a little mercy for Hurit. She is in my prayers.

  172. Does anyone think that Hurit’s husband is lying about having no recollection of nocturnal activities so that if he is questioned by legal counsel, he won’t be responsible/liable???

  173. elisabeth wrote:

    Does anyone think that Hurit’s husband is lying about having no recollection of nocturnal activities so that if he is questioned by legal counsel, he won’t be responsible/liable???

    I now have had the opportunity to speak with someone who was intimately involved in the situation. Allegedly (for the lawyers)…the ex-husband confessed to other people about the gun and choking incident.

  174. Mark wrote:

    Next thing someone will tell me one of the Neo Cal glitterati says that the Salem witch trials were right

    As an aside, I grew up in Salem and am a bottomless pit of info on those trial which were primarily land grabs. Convicted witches could have their land confiscated and sold. In the ned, it is almost always about money.

    And as for the Calvinists, many would claim that God mandated the witch trials for his glory.

  175. In the sermon on the mount Jesus said in Matthew 5:27:

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    Just a couple verses later Jesus states in 31:

    31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

    How could you apply the literal reading of 31 without 27? It’s clear by the (misinterpreted) standard that CEFC holds Hurit to – that they don’t hold Brock to the same standard. According to this passage Hurit has every right to ‘biblically’ divorce Brock because of his immortality. If you insist on trying to follow and apply the Sermon on the Mount completely (even though the main purpose was to point out that you can’t and are in need of salvation) then you have to apply 27 to Brock if you have to audacity to mangle and apply 31 to Hurit.

    This is just one of the many problems in this host of issues that Brock, Steve and the elders at CEFC represent. I’m so glad that Hurit got out of that marriage and out of that church. This is one happens when the church makes marriage an idol. When the church has knighted itself as the supreme protector of marriage – things get really wonky. Much akin to the Pharisees protecting the Sabbath to the degree that they’re enraged that Jesus would heal a man on the Sabbath. These people are enraged that she would try to protect herself from getting murdered (emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and physically). Divorce here is the result and evidence of the evil. Not the evil itself.

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  177. places that knowingly foster abuse should not be called ‘Churches’ . . . ‘cults’ maybe, but not ‘Churches’

    the whole ‘protect’ the abuser thing and punish the victim is a big red light that helps discern the difference between what is ‘cultic’ behavior and what is ‘of Christ’

    Hurit is an example of a victim many times over . . . the husband, the father in law, the cult which poses as ‘church’ for these miserable excuses for men . . . all seem to have conspired to injure this woman deeply on so many levels

    Thank God for blogs that expose such goings-on. This is a work of mercy in a land where patriarchy run amok is still seen by many as ‘Christian’. These patriarchists need to be exposed, and the light shone on them will do its proper work in time.

  178. I do not know if ‘Christina’ is a real person or not. But I do know that the Deebs are honorable people who have tried to help others. I’m saying this based on what I have seen written by them for the purpose of exposing those who have injured others while posing as followers of Christ.

    Male idolatry demands sacrifice. And my goodness, patriarchy has produced many, many victims to feed the monstrous egos of the male superiority heresy.

    If Christina IS a real person, she will know that the Deebs have wanted to help in good faith.

    It is hard to know when a well-meaning organization IS scammed. It can take the risk to help others, and sometimes others take advantage of that good will. I hope that is not the case with Christina.

    I hope the situation with Christina is resolved in a way that does right by the Deebs, who have cared for so many injured victims through their blogging work.

  179. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Daisy:
    “Regular, every day Christian single women who want to get married are not fooled by any of that. They know at the end of the day that comp can foster domestic violence or sexist attitudes towards women, and they’d rather not take a chance on that the comp guy on a dating site who sends them a flirty message.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++
    or perhaps the notion of having to turn over one’s full-fledged adult responsibility for decision-making to your male counterpart is just plain insulting and ridiculous.

    Oh my gosh, yes and yes! I second all of this. A Christian woman has to be so careful when it comes to Christian men. Ending up with a comp male is so not worth it for all these reasons, but also because ultimately, he and his so-called role are at the center of his universe, and not Christ.

  180. Patriciamc wrote:

    Ending up with a comp male is so not worth it for all these reasons, but also because ultimately, he and his so-called role are at the center of his universe, and not Christ.

    Not to mention that all of the big name proponents of comp/Patriarchy – Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips to name two – have been accused of sex crimes and are being sued civilly. Gothard has been accused by scores of people who have accused him of decades of sex crimes.

    The boundaryless, unhealthy Patriarchy movement, all of this obey and submit stuff, is the language of sex offenders, not a population we should be taking our cues from.

  181. Christiane wrote:

    Male idolatry demands sacrifice. And my goodness, patriarchy has produced many, many victims to feed the monstrous egos of the male superiority heresy.

    Excellent point. This reminds me of an interview I read yesterday with T. D. Jakes sbout the new movie Miracles from Heaven. The leads are female, yet he wanted to assure audiences that this wasn’t a chick-flick (okay so far), and that the husband is a strong person and that the movie doesn’t denigrate the male role in the home. That part just didn’t sit right with me. However men are portrayed in commercials and on TV drastically pales in comparison with how women have been treated, and how they are being treated, in reality. Shouldn’t Jakes be more concerned with how God is portrayed? His whole comments just seemed idolatrous to me.

  182. dee wrote:

    And as for the Calvinists, many would claim that God mandated the witch trials for his glory.

    Their god (small ‘g’ intentional) has way more in common with the gods of the Greeks and the Canaanites. The God of Abraham isn’t anything like that.

  183. dee wrote:

    okrapod wrote:
    We go vote tomorrow in the primaries in this state.
    Yep-I shall be voting myself.

    Good luck…we voted a few weeks ago….

  184. Velour wrote:

    What denomination is your church? I am looking and just don’t want a nuthouse like the last 9Marks/John MacArthur place.

    I belong to the Episcopal Church, but would also be comfortable in the United Methodist Church (UMC) or Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). All of these denominations have had their share of unfavorable headlines, but they also have a lot of healthy churches–bastions of sanity and stability. All have been portrayed as liberal, but that’s a distortion of, and disservice to, the daily experience of their worship and work.

    If I suddenly moved to a new town, I would look for an Episcopal, UMC, or ELCA church with one or more women on clergy, and a not-too-lavish building. I would check out their website and maybe give them a phone call before visiting. During a first visit, I would pay close attention to my treatment as a visitor. Personally, I’d rather be greeted quietly (or even go unnoticed!) than smothered with attention. I would avoid places that outright ignored me or showered me with the affection of total strangers.

    I would seek a place with open Communion, and with a belief that God loves us as we are (and does not want to smite us through our fellow churchgoers).

  185. Mark wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    That’s how I describe my ex-NeoCal/9Marks/John MacArthur-ite church: Salem Witch Trials II.
    I have never seen so many dear saints lied about and falsely accused for the smallest of infractions, thoughts, wanting to leave and go to a saner church.

    Mark wrote:
    Oh my! In 2016 instead of 1694? Next thing someone will tell me one of the Neo Cal glitterati says that the Salem witch trials were right and maybe we should go back to b______ ng people accused of witch craft. Ugh! nothing would surprise me.

    Some very wise person on TWW pointed out that Satan is not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent. Handy reminder, that.

    I truly believe that we can create evil by paying too much attention to it. Have you noticed people claiming to be under “Satanic attack”? Satan supposedly goes after the best Christians. The paranoia and humblebragging are not good. A bigger issue is that people who spend all day fighting invisible “powers and principalities” overlook actual, identifiable evil as well as urgent problems. I guess it’s more exciting to look for witches than to volunteer in a shelter.

  186. elastigirl wrote:

    hi, friend. can I ask what it is that you said/explained to these people? it seems to have clearly got their attention.

    After church one day, I asked two of our clergy, “What deed would I have to do to be disciplined by the church?” It was clear that they had not heard the question before–and, being pastoral sorts, they had to wonder if I was in some kind of distress.

    They assured me that a parishioner would have to commit a serious offense, such as abuse, in order to be disciplined. A parish can’t just throw people out, either; the bishop would need to review the case. In the end, an abuser could be asked to leave a parish. (This would enable, say, an abused spouse to stay in the parish.)

    They also said that clergy are under much greater scrutiny and pressure than parishioners.

  187. Lydia wrote:

    Where I came from, we were glad when the alcoholic came to church or the pregnant unmarried teen.

    How merciful that must have been. How did the church embrace the alcoholic or the pregnant unmarried teen? I hope we can all learn the skill.

  188. Friend wrote:

    Personally, I’d rather be greeted quietly (or even go unnoticed!) than smothered with attention. I would avoid places that outright ignored me or showered me with the affection of total strangers.

    Because getting “showered with the affection of total strangers” is obvious Love-Bombing.

  189. Patriciamc wrote:

    A Christian woman has to be so careful when it comes to Christian men. Ending up with a comp male is so not worth it for all these reasons…

    And non-comp males like me get hit by the harvest of female distrust the comps have sown.

  190. elisabeth wrote:

    Does anyone think that Hurit’s husband is lying about having no recollection of nocturnal activities so that if he is questioned by legal counsel, he won’t be responsible/liable???

    Distinct possibility, increasing to near-certainty if he laywered up (or Pastor Daddy lawyered up for him).

  191. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    In near north Dallas, where most of the churches popular with young singles are, there’s an Episcopalian church called Church of the Incarnation. They tore down their old building and opened a completely new one for the first Sunday of this year. Their young adults minister was running a now deleted Meetup group inviting young singles from area churches to socialize and join churches as covenant members in a poorly written and non-sequitur description.

    Will you please tell us more? Church of the Incarnation on McKinney Ave in Dallas is an Episcopal parish. It seems to consider itself Anglo-Catholic, and it has four male and two female priests. The photo of the church on McKinney Ave seems to show a large Gothic Revival structure. I’m looking at https://incarnation.org/

  192. dee wrote:

    As an aside, I grew up in Salem and am a bottomless pit of info on those trial which were primarily land grabs. Convicted witches could have their land confiscated and sold

    And in Europe (during the Burning Times of the English Civil War and Thirty Years’ War), Witch-sniffers and Magistrates were paid by a cut of the take.

    (Witch trials were very rare in Spanish-controlled territories, as Inquisitors were on a flat salary.)

  193. @ Friend:

    that was a good question. you got a good response, I think. ‘Serious offense’ is still a bit undefined for me, but it sounds like there are safeguards in place.

    my kids go to a youth group at a non-denom church, no oversight that i’m aware of. recent changes: they have recently started describing themselves as ‘A Gospel Church’ after the church’s name, mention TGC somewhere on their website, they’re listed on TGC’s website, and they mention covenant membership.

    it’s always been a very common sense kind of place, and these changes seem like quite a departure to me.

    I want to talk to the pastor about my concerns, just have to get savvy on how to present them in the hopes of getting transparent & accurate answers. they seem very reasonable, with good intentions (despite the errors I see in these new changes).

  194. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And non-comp males like me get hit by the harvest of female distrust the comps have sown.

    Unfortunatley, yes. I don’t know what to do about this unless you can subtly note that one of your favorite pastors is a woman? If I know a guy thinks women can be pastors, then I assume he has respect for women in general. Now, if you introduce yourself as, “Hi, I’m Headless,” well, you might have another problem. (hee, hee) : )

  195. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Friend wrote:
    Personally, I’d rather be greeted quietly (or even go unnoticed!) than smothered with attention. I would avoid places that outright ignored me or showered me with the affection of total strangers.
    Because getting “showered with the affection of total strangers” is obvious Love-Bombing.

    Yes, the strong-arm sale gets me running to the exit.

  196. elastigirl wrote:

    ‘Serious offense’ is still a bit undefined for me, but it sounds like there are safeguards in place.

    The same issue came up in confirmation class at my episcopal church, and the answer they gave us was similar. Except they said that it is extremely difficult to bring charges against a priest and to remove a priest except for serious sin, and the illustration they used was sexual sin. Of course, it being an episcopal church their definition of sexual sin may differ somewhat from the baptist definition. Anyhow, they gave an illustration of a church that tried to get rid of the priest/rector apparently in the absence of serious sin, and the bishop would not go along with it. The parish persisted that they wanted him gone so the bishop dismissed every member of the vestry and took charge of the parish himself until he could get it all resolved. The priest stayed. This is not, of course, a congregational style of governance.

    My take on it all was that they are seriously serious about protecting people that they think need protected in the absence of something really serious by their definition of serious.

  197. elastigirl wrote:

    ‘Serious offense’ is still a bit undefined for me

    Here’s what I think they’re talking about. Let’s say I emotionally abused my spouse, and spouse asked clergy in our parish to get involved. If I didn’t stop, parish clergy might go through the established process and, after the bishop reviewed the situation, ask me to leave the parish. That would enable my victim to stay in the parish.

    This happens so rarely that only one of the two priests I talked to had ever been involved in such a case.

  198. Stan wrote:

    @ Friend:
    Yes, this is the place. The building is that style, but is brand new. Here is the church’s Twitter follows which include Desiring God and *Pastor* Mark Driscoll:

    Re “Desiring God”, who in their right mind WOULD want to desire the God of Piper, Driscoll, and/or the Neo-Cals?

  199. patriciamc wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Friend wrote:
    Personally, I’d rather be greeted quietly (or even go unnoticed!) than smothered with attention. I would avoid places that outright ignored me or showered me with the affection of total strangers.
    Because getting “showered with the affection of total strangers” is obvious Love-Bombing.

    Yes, the strong-arm sale gets me running to the exit.

    Unfortunately, to a lot of Evangelicals “the strong-arm sale” is the only approach they know.

  200. Friend wrote:

    This happens so rarely that only one of the two priests I talked to had ever been involved in such a case.

    What is your take on that being so rare? In my church we seem to have an awful lot of people who seem comfortable in the secular world, so I am wondering if in a situation of abuse like you describe they would not really go to the priest about it but rather the psych professional or the lawyer. I get the impression that the perceived role of the priest is significantly different from the perceived role of the baptist pastor and staff. But my experience is limited and I am working really hard at getting a feeling for things, so maybe my thinking on this is unduly impacted by the fact that I personally would no more talk to some religious professional about family issues than anything in the world.

    But we have a dual situation also. If you want on the prayer list you can call the church office and your name and situation (disease perhaps) get posted publicly on the thing they hand out every Sunday and you get officially prayed for at mass. Or if you want your prayer requests to stay private you can fill our the form for the Daughters who will pray for your situation and never mention it to anybody-ever-on sworn oath. So the issue of privacy is respected more than if everything had to be filtered through the ministerial staff.

  201. @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:

    OTOH classic Calvinism is definitely part of the Anglican tradition.

    No, it’s really not. But that’s a discussion for another day.

    As an Anglican myself, however, I know that we definitely need to watch out for the Neo-Cal nonsense seeping in. Since the TEC split, ACNA Anglicans have worked to reestablish traditional Christian values within their churches. Also, Anglicans of the Global South are keen to have traditional Christian values affirmed and strengthened within the Communion. These desires make conservative, traditional Anglicans very pretty targets for the Neo-Cals.

    Just follow the money. Most evangelical non-denoms – at least the non-charismatic ones – have already been assimilated into some form of authoritarian elitism model, and they spend lots of money on Neo-Cal books, programs, conferences and stuff already. The SBC is nearly a complete takeover as well. The Neo-Cal industrial complex is looking for new markets, both here and overseas. What better potential income stream to exploit than over 80 million Anglicans worldwide?

  202. @ okrapod:
    I think it’s safe to assume that a consult with clergy would involve strong recs. to “secular” counseling (psychology and psychiatry, social work ,etc.) on the part of the clergy.

    That’s what I have seen and known about in RCC, ELCA and Episcopal churches – not me personally, but people I have known, in the past. Properly trained clergy in these churches know that serious problems are beyond their remit, although aspects of them are covered by what they do and have to offer. But would anyone expect a priest or minister to set a broken bone, instead of a doctor? (Aside from, say, a serious accident on a wilderness camping trip, and clergyperson is a trained medic or some such.)

  203. @ numo:
    I just realized that I used “remit” in a way that isn’t common here in this country. In this case, it is about areas of expertise and so on. (I think I watch too much UK TV!)

  204. @ okrapod:
    One other thing: not all that long ago, many people with serious problems would have seen a priest at their 1st, and possibly best, option. We really haven’t had social services and psych for very long, speaking historically.

  205. I am biased, but I have a soft spot for the EFCA.

    In my view, the denomination itself is designed around very admirable principles, including especially local congregational autonomy as well as doctrinal/theological inclusiveness. (Their most alienating doctrinal point is premillenialism, and everything else is basically Nicene Creed).

    Sadly, the very attitude that makes the EFCA so flexible, open and welcoming is the very attitude that makes them easy prey for Calvinistas who seek to take over local churches and reform them into a Neo-Calvinist model.

    Same thing with the EFCA’s seminary: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In the past decade or so, it has been invaded by Calvinistas, especially on the New Testament side of things. No idea why, other than the fact that Don Carson is a sort of Calvinista Pope who attracts numerous fanboys.

    It’s sad, and it’s not unnoticed within the EFCA. There have been some contentious discussions about this very issue. Just to note one example: the issue of premillennialism is currently being debated (and has been for a few years). Most Calvinistas are strongly against premillennialism, and they are upset because, in order to be fully included in the EFCA, they must sign the doctrinal statement confessing a premillennial position.

    This most famously became an issue with Don Carson himself, who – as a professor at the EFCA seminary – is required to be a premillennial. Which he isn’t. (Awkward!) Folks whisper behind the scenes that he intentionally blurs his views, and that the administration allows it because he is so famous.

  206. Friend wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    What denomination is your church? I am looking and just don’t want a nuthouse like the last 9Marks/John MacArthur place.
    I belong to the Episcopal Church, but would also be comfortable in the United Methodist Church (UMC) or Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). All of these denominations have had their share of unfavorable headlines, but they also have a lot of healthy churches–bastions of sanity and stability. All have been portrayed as liberal, but that’s a distortion of, and disservice to, the daily experience of their worship and work.
    If I suddenly moved to a new town, I would look for an Episcopal, UMC, or ELCA church with one or more women on clergy, and a not-too-lavish building. I would check out their website and maybe give them a phone call before visiting. During a first visit, I would pay close attention to my treatment as a visitor. Personally, I’d rather be greeted quietly (or even go unnoticed!) than smothered with attention. I would avoid places that outright ignored me or showered me with the affection of total strangers.
    I would seek a place with open Communion, and with a belief that God loves us as we are (and does not want to smite us through our fellow churchgoers).

    You should throw the PCUSA into that mix also. Even for very conservative believers (and I count myself among that crowd), there’s typically a place for them in one of the more liberal denominations, and they’re usually allowed to have their more conservative Sunday School groups, small groups, etc. in peace without the fear of a totalitarian regime or a sociopathic pastor assuming control over them. I’ve felt very much at home in liberal denominations, and was on paid staff in a PCUSA. I may have been one of the most conservative people in the church, but they welcomed and accepted me, and our family quickly became aware of the more conservative members and we gravitated to one another. They may not have believed the way I believed, they may have been so liberal I don’t even know if they were truly brothers or sisters in Christ, but they truly were tolerant in a way that you will never find in a Calvinista church or the typical SBC, and they hadn’t totally obliterated the image of God in which they were made, they had a real notion of service to their fellow man.

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  208. Law Prof wrote:

    You should throw the PCUSA into that mix also.

    Thank you. I had wanted to suggest a Presbyterian denomination, but my experience with them is antique.

  209. okrapod wrote:

    What is your take on that being so rare? In my church we seem to have an awful lot of people who seem comfortable in the secular world, so I am wondering if in a situation of abuse like you describe they would not really go to the priest about it but rather the psych professional or the lawyer.

    An awful lot of families would not want to invite clergy to pay attention to their troubles. I’m guessing that it’s rare for an ex-couple to stay in the same church; one or both will leave.

    I can also imagine a situation in which a couple splits due to abuse, and the abuser wants to stick around the church Just Because. In that case, especially if the abused spouse and children are deeply involved in the church, it might make a lot of sense to ask the abuser to leave.

    All of the above is speculation about what people might do, in addition to involving lawyers and trained counselors.

  210. okrapod wrote:

    If you want on the prayer list you can call the church office and your name and situation (disease perhaps) get posted publicly on the thing they hand out every Sunday and you get officially prayed for at mass. Or if you want your prayer requests to stay private you can fill our the form for the Daughters who will pray for your situation and never mention it to anybody-ever-on sworn oath. So the issue of privacy is respected more than if everything had to be filtered through the ministerial staff.

    Our parish also has two prayer lists: the Prayers of the People list, with names in the service leaflet; and the chapel list, which is confidential. The chapel list has been around longer than our chapter of the Order of the Daughters of the King (DOK). It’s now shared by clergy and DOK and kept very private.

    I used to be comfortable putting names of family members in the Prayers of the People. It only took one instance of a parishioner grabbing me and wailing I’M SO WORRIED ABOUT YOU to break me of that habit.

  211. Jenny wrote:

    As an Anglican myself, however, I know that we definitely need to watch out for the Neo-Cal nonsense seeping in.

    That’s dismaying. Fortunately there’s a vast, robust tradition to build upon–but people in the pews and in the clergy have to understand it.

  212. Law Prof wrote:

    You should throw the PCUSA into that mix also.

    Thanks, LawProf. I will add them to my mix. Are there any of these Presbyterian groups that have gone NeoCal? I’ll put them on my do not attend list.

  213. Velour wrote:

    you had to have “two witnesses” to bring an accusation against an elder, blah blah blah.

    In addition, one should not “gossip” and talk to another person about a perceived problem in a church, consequently, one can’t talk to the elders nor can he/she talk to a peer.

  214. One person on Facebook posted this passage “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD” Proverbs 17:15. They were talking about this reported action.

    Isn’t this what this pastor and other church officials are basically doing. They are justifying the wicked (the abusive husband) and condemning the just (abused wife). As the bible says this pastor and those doing this with him are an abomination to the Lord.

  215. Rod wrote:

    In addition, one should not “gossip” and talk to another person about a perceived problem in a church, consequently, one can’t talk to the elders nor can he/she talk to a peer.

    Exactly! You were there, too? LOL.

    And constantly being asked by the elders, “You haven’t told anyone, have you? You must not tell anyone.” Sick system. Sick people.

  216. Velour wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    You should throw the PCUSA into that mix also.
    Thanks, LawProf. I will add them to my mix. Are there any of these Presbyterian groups that have gone NeoCal? I’ll put them on my do not attend list.

    PCA, sure, we have a local one that I wouldn’t enter unless the Lord Himself told me to, and if He did, I’d assume it’d be to kick over the pulpit on Sunday. So far as I know, PCUSA hasn’t been infiltrated by neocalvinists. That said, in the interests of disclosure, PCUSA is way to the liberal side of my beliefs, so I’m not comfortable in such a place (though again, they seem to be open-minded enough to welcome and affirm even conservative Christians, at least that was my experience).

  217. Law Prof wrote:

    PCA, sure, we have a local one that I wouldn’t enter unless the Lord Himself told me to

    Me too! All my friends in high school went to a large PCA church, so my family switched to that church too. I got a good Bible education, but the people were not friendly. They couldn’t “do” Christianity. I eventually returned to the “heretical” Methodist church, which was much more Christ-like than the PCA one. Oh, don’t get me started on how the PCA church turned their teenage boys into utter jerks.

  218. Law Prof wrote:

    they seem to be open-minded enough

    That’s been my general experience, as one with some views that are conservative and some not. But also, it might be worth noting that folks don’t habitually spend their church time fighting about hot-button issues. Headlines are one thing, Sunday morning quite another.

    Churches certainly should address controversies, but it’s not always effective or wise to do so in a “with-me-or-against-me” sermon. Some churches address difficult topics during an adult forum, with a presentation and Q&A.

  219. Gosh this saddens me beyond belief…. I read the books Steve Estes co authored with Joni Eareckson ….how sick and destructive

  220. Steve240 wrote:

    Isn’t this what this pastor and other church officials are basically doing. They are justifying the wicked (the abusive husband) and condemning the just (abused wife). As the bible says this pastor and those doing this with him are an abomination to the Lord.

    Don’t you know that in Christianese, the ONLY “Abomination Unto The LORD(TM)” is HOMOSEXUALITY(TM)?

  221. Mae wrote:

    Another woman used and abused by her husband and the church. Despicable.
    I sincerely pray for these abused women to find healing and peace.
    How much more damage can these twisted, peddling pastors of falsehoods, get away with?

    Hi Mae,
    I have seen more than my share in the church,when I was on staff it was unreal at times. The Words says to be careful, as what you have to least of these you have done it to me.

  222. JYJames wrote:

    Velour wrote:

    these NUT CASE churches would have kicked Jesus out too

    So true.

    This….Really, all that comes into my mind with these folks, is Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. It ised to make me sad. Now, I go straight to furious, at the spectacle of these loonies attacking victims whilst they defend the abusers.

  223. @ Mr.H:

    Mr. H if you would like or have people in the know I would love to throw up some posts about D.A Carson and Trinity. You can contact me through my blog if you are interested.

  224. dee wrote:

    I think Matt Chandler tweeted to me “You don’t have the whole story.”I responded “We have the emails or didn’t they tell you?” Unfortunately for these types of churches, they looooooove to discipline in very public ways and we have wonderful readers who are smart enough to keep email, texts, etc.

    Only the pew peons get the public treatment.

    I just caught this:

    Labby noted that prior to Tchividjian joining the staff at his church last year, he vetted him through the South Florida Presbytery and did not speak directly to anyone at Coral Ridge.

    A pastor is a member not of the local church but of a presbytery,” he explained. “We met with representatives of the South Florida Presbytery who we coordinated our care plan with. We had frank conversations about Tullian’s incident at Coral Ridge and the aftermath and facts surrounding that. We did not meet with the session of Coral Ridge, we met with the session of the presbytery as they are the ones with oversight.”

    Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/coral-ridge-elders-knew-of-tullian-tchividjians-affair-with-married-woman-advised-him-to-keep-secret-source-alleges-159519/#Uf7Cwa5cT4ueprsK.99

  225. dee wrote:

    Matt Chandler tweeted to me “You don’t have the whole story.

    They also love being on the inside, in the know, while you and I so-very-much-aren’t.
    Their arrogance is staggering. And it is making them stupid.

    I think that is part of the process of pride goes before a fall.
    They start thinking they can get away with anything, that they are so much smarter than everybody else which leads to an arrogance that makes them think they are invincible and above it all.
    It makes them stupid. And stupidity can kill, literally and figuratively.

  226. JYJames wrote:

    zooey111 wrote:

    attacking victims whilst they defend the abusers

    There is no sense to it. Boggles the mind and conscience.

    Actually, to me it makes perfect sense.

    When the goal is to keep the church’s current equilibrium, then anything that disrupts that equilibrium is going to be dealt with – swiftly, strongly and stridently.

    Abusers aren’t going to mope about, or suddenly start crying in the middle of the potluck, or act like something is wrong, or search for other church members to talk about it, or want to contact the leadership to go over it again. And the perps are going to nod their head in affirmation when leadership starts pushing the forgive and move on speech 2 days after the crime.

    Victims are much more squirrelly and unpredictable. The charade that everything is fine wears thin in public at times, they cry for no reason, they keep contacting the leadership to go over some detail for the umpteenth time.

    The victims almost always agree initially with the forgive and move on guidance by the leadership – but their emotions, thoughts and spirit just keep getting unruly and unsettled about it. An hour after the last discussion with leadership, they realize that leadership got something factually wrong. So, the victim contacts the leadership to get the fact corrected.

    But, to the leadership, correcting factual errors is of little importance. What is growing more evident is that the vic keeps digging up the dead body that the leadership thought had been effectively buried 3 days ago.

    The victims have no one to talk to. And most folks who have gone through a trauma need to talk about it – incessantly, randomly, repeatedly.

    Forcing silence upon the victim effectively isolates them from *everyone*. Whenever they speak to leadership, they come away confused and unsatisfied – because what the leadership is saying and doing DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE. So, the vic goes over everything in their head again – and contacts the leadership, under the mistaken belief that it’s just a case of misunderstanding.

    And if the victim will not STAY silent, then THEY are the problem – not the perp. The perp isn’t causing any waves, no disruption to the routine.

    Then leadership moves to deal with the actual problem (in their estimation) which is that person who is causing disruption. Whatever empathy or sympathy leadership might have had at one time, is completely gone and the ‘unity’ of the church must be preserved.

    Against this troublemaker.

  227. I understand Hurit’s marriage. My first husband exhibited a lot of the same behaviors. From the outside, we looked ok, fine, happy. But internally — both within the house, within the relationship, and within MYSELF — we were so not-fine. Divorce was the only sane option, and it takes a long time to get there, especially with a strong church background.

    And — this is a thing that bothers me about ‘excommunication’ — the church says “we have to treat you like a sinner and a publican” and then fail to treat them the way Jesus Christ Himself treated sinners and publicans.

    |Zacchaeus, you come down, for I’m going to your house today.

  228. Mara wrote:

    dee wrote:

    Matt Chandler tweeted to me “You don’t have the whole story.

    They also love being on the inside, in the know, while you and I so-very-much-aren’t.

    Doesn’t the word “Gnostic” mean “He Who KNOWS Things”, as in Speshul Sekrit Knowledge possessed/understood only by the Inner Ring of Illuminati?

  229. Law Prof wrote:

    some are just damaged young men with the emotional maturity of a small child, often looking for a daddy figure, who are willing to give themselves into the hands of anyone who preaches to them a system that will put them on top and make them feel like somebody.

    Which is the exact vibe I’ve always gotten about Womb Tomb Swanson.

  230. siteseer wrote:

    Why in the world would they try to keep his problems secret instead of getting him the help he needs?

    Because he’s the PASTOR’s Son, heir to the Pulpit Throne of CEFC.