"When it comes to controlling human beings, there is no better instrument than lies. Because you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts." Michael Ende link
Over the weekend, I decided to Google church and pastoral abuse. Normally, we already have a situation in mind when we start a post. This time, I wanted to see if there were any posts that I might have overlooked. One caught my eye! In 2004, Ministry Today published Thugs In The Pulpit. Once again, look at the date-2004. This was 5 years prior to our start in blogging. The Calvinista dude-bros were just arriving on the scene. Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, Acts 29, Sovereign Grace Ministries, 9 Marks, Together for the Gospel were not well known and some had yet to get started.
Quacks in the pulpit
Obviously, a number of pastoral abuse situations were already known to the publication since it started off with these statements
Why are so many pastors abusing the trust of those God has placed in their care?
Few leaders in our society have more power over others than ministers–power to abuse or power to set free. However, people are more likely to have a healthy wariness of "quacks" in law, medicine and counseling than they do of "quacks" in religion.
Although most pastors are both gifted and godly, many Christians are naive enough to assume that any man or woman who is able to build a congregation is healthy. It is such naiveté that makes people vulnerable to unscrupulous pastors.
Two things contribute to allowing abusive personalities in ministry.
1. Religious credentialing has overlooked abusive personalities seeking to enter the pastorate.
Unfortunately, few religious credentialing bodies take any precautionary measures to protect the public from abusive personalities attempting to enter the ministry.
2. Lay people tend to trust their pastors and do not view them in the same manner that they view civic leaders.
Think about it. We demand accountability from our politicians. We carefully look at their finances, demeanor, history, etc. Magazines are replete with stories of "I was an administrative assistant for Mayor Smith and he treated his employees horribly."
However, when it involves a pastor, we suddenly apply the *no gossip* rule. We are told to follow the vision casting of the leader since he is a "man of God."
For example, It is not uncommon for members of a congregation not to know the salaries of their pastors. Today, I was reading a church website in which the pastor was calling for *excellent* compensation for the staff that reflects the average salary in the area and is enough to allow their wives to stay home. This area has average home prices in excess of $400,000. I checked to see if the salaries of the pastors were available to the lay person. They are not. However, I know that the young lead pastor lives quite well.
They do not look at their pastors with the same discretion or suspicion that protects them from other harmful people in their communities. This enhances the pastor's power and gives them greater opportunity than any other civic leader to hurt or help people.
Abusive pastors force *unity* by handpicking supporters.
I had a former pastor who told me that his elders had only disagreed with him twice in the span of 28 years! At that moment, I knew there was a serious problem in the church. There is a term that gets bandied about that causes me grave concern when it come to pastoral misconduct. That word is *unity.*
Just about every church covenant that I read (I believe covenants are often misused by abusive pastors) utilize the term unity. The word *unity* seems to mean that we must never disagree with the leaders in charge. This is quite dangerous to the church. Ephesians 4: 11-16 (NIV, Bible Gateway) points out the results of unity.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
It is evident that unity occurs when we, meaning all of us in the church, become knowledgeable in the faith. This knowledge leads to maturity. Unity does not mean saying YES to every whim of a leader. We should carefully assess, in the light of Scripture, what is being proposed. Maturity may actually involve disagreeing with leadership. It might even involve reporting an abuse situation to the authorities.
There were a number of Mars Hill members who disagreed with Mark Driscoll and were on the receiving end of his wrath. However, unlike a number of the members of The Gospel Coalition and Acts 29 fan-boys, those members proved to be correct. They demonstrated true Christian unity by being concerned for the welfare of Mars Hill. The fan-boys, on the other hand, wrote reams about the wonders of Mark Driscoll. Who was truly mature in this situation? It should give lots of people pause as they look at the leadership of these organizations.
It is important to understand that abusive pastors will be sure to surround themselves with yes boys. This means that lay church members must be prepared that they will not garner support from the elders if they must confront a hard reality. That was the case in my former church as we dealt with a poorly handled abuse situations. The article put it this way.
Abusive pastors also carefully select the leaders for their congregations. They choose men and women who are willing to give total and unquestioned allegiance to the pastor in return for positions of prominence and power in the church. These leaders become the abusive pastor's agents for controlling and manipulating the congregation.
Think about this. When The Village Church went after Karen Hinkley, not one elder or pastor (There are quite a few of them) spoke out against the unjust, abusive actions in the matter. Matt Chandler had effectively surrounded himself with a bunch of yes men and not one of them had the maturity or the concern for the unity of TVC to say "This ain't right." I wonder if he has since remedied this lack of mature elder and pastoral leadership?
Abusive churches control people by making them feel worthless.
There are a number of churches these days which love to proclaim the *wrath of God.* That wrath is directed at all humans since we are *unworthy* of salvation due to our wretched state. Recently, I read a comment by a woman who claimed that she is nothing but a *worm." I was irritated that the editor did not attempt to affirm this woman. Then, I realized that the editor may also feel that way about herself. A person who feels worthless is easily controlled.
Our self-worth was established at Calvary (see 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). We are not worthy of the price Christ paid for our redemption, but the fact that He paid it assures us that we are not worthless.
People who have been abused by churches often feel separated from the love of God.
This makes me sad. It was the fact that the God of the universe loved me, a nobody teen, that led me into the arms of Jesus. It is concerning to me that today's authoritarian churches tend to stress God's anger while downplaying God's love. They claim that speaking *too much* about God's love will cause a Christian not to be obedient. However, it is my contention that stressing God's wrath doesn't make anyone more obedient since many of those folks, fearful of God's wrath, sin just as much as the next guy. Never, ever forget how much God loves you. Run from any church in which a pastor downplays this reality.
Traits that lead to spiritual abuse.
I think this list of traits is worthwhile for all of us to consider, especially if we are in a position to influence others. Also, this list may help you to assess a current or past leader who is/was abusive. These are definite warning signs that things are amiss with your leaders. I saw 10 of these traits in a former pastor. I have also seen most of these in the stories told of Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney, etc.
I saw or see none of these weaknesses in Pete Briscoe and Joanne Hummel of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship or Wade Burleson. May you find a church run by people like these.
- I have a grandiose sense of self-importance, and tend to exaggerate my talents and achievements.
- I am preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success.
- I see myself as someone "special" who can only be understood by other "special" or high-status people.
- I require excessive admiration and feel entitled to special treatment.
- Others are expected to automatically comply with my expectations.
- I take advantage of others to achieve my own goals.
- I lack compassion, and am unwilling to identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- I am arrogant and haughty.
- I am preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends and associates.
- I fear confiding in people since they may maliciously use any information I give them to do me harm.
- I read demeaning or threatening meanings into innocent remarks.
- I bear grudges and am unforgiving of others I feel have harmed me.
- I am quick to perceive attacks on my character or reputation that are not apparent to others and react angrily or counterattack.
- I am deceitful and seduce others for my own profit or pleasure.
- I am impulsive in my actions and fail to plan ahead.
- I may be excessively devoted to work to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships.
- I am inflexible, stubborn and controlling, insisting that others submit exactly to my way of doing things.
- I unreasonably criticize and scorn other ministers and people in positions of authority in the church.
- I am uncomfortable in situations where I am not the center of attention.
- I believe I am doing a much better job than others think I am doing.
I look forward to hearing from you about abusive church leaders and the traits you noticed. I commend the authors of Ministry Today. They were ahead of the game. I wish I had read this when it was published. It might have saved me from some heartache. Also, there are a whole bunch of people that should have learned their lessons from this post. But, The Gospel Coalition, T4G, Acts 29, 9 Marks and others didn't. Abuse continues to be rampant in many churches 12 years later. In fact, perhaps it is even worse. Time will tell.
It’s worse–I liken it to an auto-immune disease in which these leaders attack spiritually healthy people (people with discernment and courage) while elevating those who will imprint on themselves, rather than Jesus.
First? Now to read.
Spot on. May many church leaders repent.
“Tick, tick, tick, tick…” That’s me ticking off all the boxes to the list you referenced above. My abusive pastor was no doubt a malignant narcissist. If I only knew then what I know now, I could have spotted him immediately as a dangerous person.
Another excellent article by our blog queens – The Deebs! May you win a Christian Pulitzer for your portfolio of
Investigative, ground-breaking stories!
At my ex NeoCal church abuses I noticed that led to spiritual abuse:
* senior pastor had unresolved issues
about his own violent dad, whom I think he emulated;
*contempt for women and wanting them as second class (related to point no. 1 in many cases)
*not respecting others and not having
congregational votes to hear everybody
*not opening positions to outsiders to interview and choosing personal friends
*not having women teach and lead
*demands for obedience and to not bring an accusation against your elder without cause, for any question or concern
*not respecting of the skills and training of outside licensed professionals (therapy, meds, etc) handling in house with Bible verses and dumb advice. Know it alls. No humility.
I would add to Velour’s very cogent list: they will have no respect for the history of the church. They will set up straw men in their sermons to shoot down and will use emotional manipulation as a stimulus for change rather than reason. They will denigrate other churches (one I knew trashed a book from the pulpit that he had not even read himself). Us vs. them, emphasis on fearing those not just like us, rather than lovingly engaging them.
In essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty, in all things charity becomes a foreign and distant concept–everything they emphasize becomes an essential. Leadership is imperative rather than invitational. A belief in positional authority–that if their is disagreement over doctrine or praxis, they are right because of their ‘God ordained position’. To disagree or question is to question God, not just them.
Passive-aggressive comments during sermons, shunning and silent treatment, isolation of those who ask questions.
Exactly-I believe from observation it’s the people who refuse to be clones who are likely the most healthy, so what does it say about the health of a church that would push the most mature out?
@ Cousin of Eutychus:
A behavioral immunity card–they can get away with trashing other people, using abusive language, misrepresenting other’s points of view, because of their position. Leadership care is more important than congregational care.
Incessant whining about how difficult leadership is–lack of a grateful heart; Dante said the lowest region of hell is reserved for the ungrateful.
I think sometimes the NeoCal emphasis on God’s glory paints God as some kind of narcissist; a self-obsession that distorts the image of God. I wonder if that accounts for the narcissistic behavior we observe in some of the NeoCal leadership. I wonder if they have a proper understanding of the word glory and the character of God.
I have experienced the utter goodness of God; He is better than we think He is.
No amount of blog posts or public disclosure will change anything, until and unless the congregations just start saying ‘enough’. And they’re not. They are passively taking it. There is no discernment. Not really much Christian anything going on, when you think about it.
What is modern megachurch ‘Christianity’ anyway? Bombastic rock music, celebrity pastors (that expression ought to be an oxymoron) on stage, smoke machines and light shows.
There seems to be nothing that Mammon can not corrupt…
-Lead Pastor closely monitors individual giving.
-Pastor is unable to disagree agreeably over theological differences in conviction.
-Pastor treats mature and educated members as threats as opposed to assets in the church.
Look out if you see those three as well!
Cousin of Eutychus wrote:
Oh yes. For starters, I am alive…
@ Divorce Minister:
I am shocked that any church member would allow anyone to knowingly track their giving.
It happened at our FORMER church. Senior pastor told me that he looks at the individual giving of the leaders and has a talk with them if it looks too low–i.e. obviously isn’t 10%.
@ Divorce Minister:
Does anyone get to look at the giving of the Senior Pastor? I believe you that this happened. No way in heck I would put up with such. So many churches trying to place people under the law as it relates to giving.
Then there’s the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). When the church I attended changed to be under C Peter Wagner’s HMI (Harvest Ministry Institute), the visiting “apostle”, Apostle Dr Grand Poohbah Mark Tubbs, author of “The Five Fingers Of God”, told the abusive pastor that he had an apostolic gifting and that the elders didn’t have enough authority to speak into his life. It caused a church split.
Yeah, we refused to sign the leadership covenant agreeing to give 10% of our gross income exclusively to the church. The senior pastors (a couple) didn’t like that. They took action to effectively shut down the small group my wife was leading ministering to single parents. We left.
Divorce Minister wrote:
What kind of church was this? SBC? I would have left also.
Two more parts of my series about a Toledo case of child abuse concealed as homeschooling have been posted, for those who are interested:
As always, I appreciate TWW’s commitment to justice for children.
It has emerged that this poor young girl might first have been shackled in a dark basement when she was nine years old.
So, Owen Strachan posted this a few hours ago on Facebook,
“If a Christian, you recognize you’re not impressive.
You’re a loser.
You’re a failure.
And Jesus is the hero.
Jesus took on flesh because every salvific effort, every self-improvement project, every positive-thinking endeavor, failed. It all failed us. It failed us miserably.
So, lay down every attempt to look good, to justify yourself, to camouflage weakness, and embrace the self-forgetfulness found in Christ.
It’s not just that you weren’t impressive at the *moment* of your conversion. God’s not impressed with you now. Heaven does not watch your every move on slo-mo. There is no divine Instagram account tracking your awesomeness.
You’re free to be nothing and no one in Christ.”
What does “speak into my life” mean? I have heard variations of the same thing said at PDI/SGM.
I was going to mention earlier another list item: always check to see if words and actions match over time. These types are extremely good with words and people believe them. The key is to watch Behavior over time. Then one starts to see that their words and behavior do not match.
Knowing what we know about Owen Strachen, your comment with his words is a perfect example of this.
I so badly wanted to ask him if he tells himself this type thing daily. I don’t necessarily disagree with the overall message of his post, but the “tone” -as one commenter on his Facebook said- is strangely … hateful, as if he’s directing this at someone else. Almost passive aggressive? I don’t pretend to know his intentions, but it’s just too much.
I wish someone would take the irresponsible young pup Owen by the scruff of the neck and move him somewhere else.
If Own really practiced what he preached, he’d close that outrageous monstrosity teaching heresy, causing harm to women, men, marriages, families, churches, and children – Center on Biblical Manhood Womanhood.
I don’t think Strachan realizes that God loves us, or Stachan’s version of love is rather abusive.
Is it abuse when the pastor is chairman of the board that decides his salary and then hires his daughter to be a pastor in the church as well and also presumably the board that he is chairman of grants her salary?
That listing looks like a trait sheet to become an executive senior lead founding number one paster with a green room and underground parking spot never to touch the members hands at Gateway. Complete with the yes men elders-most of which are paid staff.
Jack, yes and it’s abuse to hire all three of your kids and the son-in-law and place them in positions that are not qualified for save their last name then promote them above other more qualified people.
This reads like a veiled message to a particular person. It’s so pointed and specific.
In a general sense, the problem with a message like this is the hearers believe it and ASSUME the speaker is believing it about himself, too. HA! Think again.
Anyways, what a messed up message, missing the point of everything Christ accomplished. It’s as though they push Christ away and say “no thanks” and try to stand somehow on their own understanding. It’s all just wrong.
Isn’t that what those little envelopes are for with the space for your name on them? I’ve never used them myself.
The Chairman of the Elder Board at my former NeoCal/9Marks/John MacArthur-ite tracked all members’ giving and reported not on the specifics, but the over-all consistency apparently (or so he said). Attendance was tracked at church, Bible studies, church events. Very heavy-handed, heavy-Shepherding.
I have experienced all of those traits from more than one pastor, even though at first these men seemed very different than each other- turned out it was only a matter of style.
One thing I missed on the list was the ability to put on a superficial “godly” facade that fools most of the people, at least long enough to get them hooked in.
In SGM-speak it means “I’m the boss of you.” The bosses are the young men who have recently graduated from the Sovereign Grace 9-month “Pastors College.” It should be noted that speaking into one’s life is all a one-way form of communication. Any attempt to “speak into a pastor’s life” results in your being labeled as divisive or sinfully curious, or a strong recommendation that you find a new church.
Your article mentions two things that “contribute to allowing abusive personalities in ministry.” I believe Christians also need to examine the seminaries their denomination supports. It seems to me institutions such as SBTS are graduating an inordinate amount of young men who are abusive tyrants. I suggest that the seminary must be encouraging this type of behavior.
And then there’s para-church 9Marx leaders Dever and Leeman breakout session at the recent T4G conference titled “Don’t Be A 9Marxist! Using Church Authority To Help Not Hurt” in an attempt to correctr their “misapplied” teachings on church discipline. Again, when there are so many 9Marx adherents who have misunderstood or misapplied 9Marx teaching on church discipline one could fairly question whether the teaching is really being misapplied!
Reading articles like this makes me thank God again that He led my husband and I out of a “nondenominational” (what does that even mean?) megachurch early in our marriage. We’ve been members of the Church of the Nazarene for almost 8 years now, but when I drive by our old church I still feel…sore in my heart. I know that some of the people who hurt us did so unintentionally, but others knew exactly what they were doing.
Praise God that He can and does heal, though sometimes an ache remains.
Oh – if I never hear another sermon on tithing in my whole life I’ll be good. I’m so glad that the only time my pastor mentions money (not very often) it’s simply to remind us to live generously and thank us for supporting the church. Never any graphs or charts or guilt.
And weirdly enough, though it’s a small, poor church, the people are very giving.
Recently, a TWW posting: “NeoCalvinists in Charge: Are They Creating a Divisive *Us versus Them* Church Culture?” ended with a color wheel, and “in it together, with Jesus in charge.”
If we are in it together, and all 18 gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4) are functioning as a wheel (Ezekiel 1:16) with Jesus as the hub, wouldn’t then pastors take their proper place, as well as everyone else, and thus hold leadership in check (i.e., the gift of discernment)?
@ Todd Wilhelm:
So, you have the decoder ring? :o)
I have always thought it was the weirdest thing to say to someone.
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
He didn’t look or sound like a thug. His first sermons were on humility. He courted my attention. He sounded interested in what I had to say. He nodded his head and made appreciative sounds. I though I was being heard.
Then I discovered nothing changed.
Some “gossiped” to me that lunch with the CEO was about how they fit into the CEO’s agenda. Other people started to treat myself and others as pariahs. The “pastor” (CEO) had a magical ability to seduce if not brainwash many. There was a growing perception that the CEO was talking about people behind their backs and disorienting those who were questioning. One person, a gentle soul who was not following the “consensus”, was attacked verbally by someone apparently being sicked on him by the CEO. The CEO personally berates someone yet it was the pawn who was evaluated when they made an issue of it.
The CEO boasted that he wanted to be the CEO of a “Big Church” but almost all did not question that as a goal. The CEO often made bad decisions, often without consultation from the committee or person responsible. When there were repercussions the blame was publicly shifted to the person or persons who were not consulted. While a few drifted away and the left many of those who had been similarly “setup” have continued to attend.
In the midst of this transformation, answers to my questions were very short of sufficient but further questioning was ruled out of bounds by verbal and non verbal clues reminding all present that I was violating unwritten rules. Probing was treated as illegitimate. An accusation was leveled in front of others, “there is no satisfying you” when in reality the concerns were not addressed almost in their entirety. Attempts to go through the church’s “proper channels” to the denomination resulted in violations of confidentiality.
The CEO took two trips to Israel in the first year and a half and boasted of himself as an expert who would be teaching missionaries and other pastors on the “Holy Land”, he was 30 years old, fresh out of seminary.
The sermons were light on teaching and high on film clips. Numerous times the chairs were arranged in concentric circles and the CEO spoke from the center. The CEO appeared to be a chameleon at the podium with little he found important. A sermon preached on the topic of “wisdom” was largely about cynicism and lumped skepticism in with it. This just after unveiling a program that was met by many with doubt, many reacted with the question “is he talking to us” and answered, nah. Another sermon purportedly on the sabbath, the CEO spent half the time instructing everyone that his sabbath was on Friday and it was sacred, don’t violate it.
Many activities were dropped to be replaced with programs run by the staff. The church that used to have dozens appear when someone needed help moving or putting a new roof on their house, now had only one person show up from the church to help a man in his eighties who was moving even though he had been attending and providing much service to the church for 50 years.
The board was largely hand picked by the CEO and most were staff or spouses of staff. Proposals not coming from the CEO were rejected regardless the number of people behind them. The NO was not communicated and no explanation or reason given, you had to get the answer via scuttlebutt. Taking a concern before the board yielded the general response “you are the only one that has brought us the concern”. Later “gossip” with others who left indicated many had gone to the CEO with nearly identical concerns. Initially small transgressions were openly displayed in front of the remaining “leadership”. These were then incremented as time went by, as if to strategically inoculate the CEO so that he could get approval for any action or attitude.
The year after I left the budget ended with a deficit that was about 25-30% of the budget, designated funds were raided to plug the gap. It was communicated to the congregation as a balanced budget.
The CEO still smiles if I see him but many of his minions turn their backs.
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
Mark Dever is blowing smoke. First in 9Marks he staunchly advocates church discipline and that local churches (i.e. pastors/elders) have the “power of the keys” to excommunicate any Christian for any reason (whatever trumped up charge it is in these authoritarian churches). Then after Dever and Leeman catch flak for the enormous damage that’s been done Dever exclaims to “hold off” and “to wait” on church discipline. Whom does he think he’s kidding? He destroyed lives, friendships, families, reputations, churches — and now he decides to say “wait, wait” because his reputation is now on the line?
From the article: “1. Religious credentialing has overlooked abusive personalities seeking to enter the pastorate.”
I’ve been working on a system of indicators and metrics for “measuring what matters” — which I believe needs to be far more about qualitative issues than quantitative.
My basic framework for identifying people in the public eye — leaders, teachers, church planters, writers, etc. — who prove destructive and disqualified from positions as public roles models are:
1. Do they show conscience about right and wrong?
2. Do they show compassion about the harmful personal impact that wrongdoing inflicts on others?
3. Do they demonstrate congruence, where what they say is matched by the follow-up of what they do?
Every individual I’ve encountered who turned out to be an abusive leader basically failed all three of these indicators. I see them as keys to identifying narcissism and sociopathology. Each of those character issues/personality disorders has additional identifiers, but as I’ve reflected on my experiences and then other research, these three seem to be in an overlap zone.
I’ve been in touch with a few North Americans who are considered both practitioners and thought leaders on church planting, who (like me) believe a new system for church planter assessment is needed, based on a different paradigm of what constitutes “success” and revised research about methodological models and inherent tendencies towards particular tactics of spiritual abuse.
This may lead to a more formal group getting together to actually work on producing this kinds of assessment system. If it does, one of the planks I would definitely recommend is that something like the MMPI psychological profile conducted by a certified counselor replace the usual MBTI personality/temperament analysis with results interpreted with someone who may or may not have some training in that.
As with so many other issues of public health, the costs invested in prevention of disqualified leaders would certainly outweigh the toll taken on people by abusive leaders, and the intervention, treatment, and follow-up support needed after the fact of abuse.
Somebody mentioned in a post a while back – I think it was here on TWW – that there are some denominations that do require psychological testing of potential seminarians and screen out abusers that way. (Was it…Episcopal?)
The problem that I see is that so many of these “pastors” want money and power and can plant a church. They “hang up their shingle” so to speak. And there is really nothing to stop them. It’s a free country.
I am beginning to think ‘contempt for women and wanting them as second class’ is just a symptom of something far worse. Some of the items on this list
converge into some serious psychological problems that can be more vulnerable to temptation and evil.
When Dr. Klouda went through her ordeal with SWBTS, her husband was extremely ill. It didn’t matter to the powers-that-be. They went ahead anyway. I kept thinking ‘what kind of evil are these men playing with that this could happen’.
Yes, I think the sad treatment of women is a sympton of something dark that comes when the sin of pride has cleared away Christ-like humility. The red light: no problem in these men of placing the women into humiliation as weak, ‘needing protection’, and all manner of strange patriarch ‘covering’ by male heads ….. in other words, these women have lost the dignity of their human personhood at the hands of a system where, without that dignity, they are at the mercy of men who flaunt their ‘biblical pride of ownership’ over these women. Pretty sick stuff? Yep.
@ Bill M:
Very familiar. I was always amazed at how they can smile and blow people off at the same time. People were disoriented. There was no one cruel thing to point to just stealthy patterns of control with plausible deniability.
After seeing that pattern for years from pastors/elders people wonder why I prefer the bombastic jerks over the smiling deceptive charlatans.
At least you know what you are dealing with when it comes to bombastic jerks. It can take years to see the patterns with the deceivers and by then many have been sucked in and can’t see it. It has become their normal.
It has been of immense help to identify these type of individuals. What has also been helpful is to understand why they can be so attractive to us, at least initially. Were I to get swept up into someone’s orbit I believe I would now be armed with enough skepticism to ask why.
They need money. Kevin Ezell at NAMB has been one good source for these types.
“Plausible deniability”, indeed they leave no visible bruises. The truly scary part is they are so charming.
While that could well be the case with freelance pastors and church planters, I suspect a lot of new church plants are related with specific denominational programs or networks that have some kind of required “assessment clinic” before they’ll recommend placement.
I keep wondering if, at some point, the consequences of abusive church planters will come home to roost in those who run such clinics and “assessed” and “certified” these planters. If the push-back on abuse continues, and the spotlight keeps getting put onto church planting systems and networks, seems to me that some major implosions will be captured by citizen journalists in real time and there will be no way for the assessment clinics to deflect responsibility for the damage of certifying someone who proved to be abusive.
Anyway, we’ll see.
Bill M wrote:
I think one of the most crucial questions we need to ask ourselves as survivors is, “What made me susceptible to being taken in by this leader/that group/their cult?” This isn’t about self-blaming ourselves for being victimized — it’s about understanding what happened so we can prevent it from happening again to us, and, hopefully, to others that we warn. It’s based on realizing that deceitful people know how to exploit the best sides of our personality and longings to follow Christ, just as much as they know how to exploit the dark sides.
FWIW, I posted a two-part series on this last year: Set-Ups for Being Picked Off by Authoritarian Leaders.
Here’s the link for Part 1: Susceptibilities to Seduction by Those with No Conscience
At the end of that article, there’s a link to Part 2: Dynamics of Fatherlessness and Susceptibility to Substitutes. I was especially concerned about how hucksters like Mark Driscoll were exploiting vulnerabilities of men to build his following.
Interesting, I researched the local 9Marks outfit that recently started in my community and found frequent references to NAMB.
Bill M wrote:
Church planting really started taking off in the year 2000-ish, with the North American Mission Board’s Nehemiah Project. I was in on the first wave of Nehemiah lead planters and interns, in about 2001. There was a stipend involved, which wasn’t huge for interns, something like $1,000 total for 6 months. But there was more significant funding for something like 2 years for lead planters.
I’ve been out of most of those loops for quite a while, but am in touch with enough church planters and strategists to have the impression that church planting has continued as a *major* emphasis for 15 years now. And, IIRC, there was some fleeting talk of merging the financially flaked-out International Mission Board with NAMB, because of its church planting infrastructure.
This. Is. It.
I cannot even tally up how many survivors of spiritual abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, bullying, etc. I’ve heard say something like, “I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anybody else.” And they show by their personal advocacy for others and/or their social activism that this is a commitment, not just a comment.
I think for me this push toward spiritual abuse prevention and writing about it was amplified by my undergoing two extremely bad church abuse situations in the 1970s and ’80s — thank the Lord, with a reeeally good one in between, or I think I would’ve dropped out of Christianity in 1978! But the bad ones ate up 10 years of my early Christian experience, and both were well before any books on spiritual abuse were published. So it was just me, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and what few friends I could find to process these traumatic experiences with. Instructive … but really rough going for quite a while.
From the article: “Abusive pastors force *unity* by handpicking supporters.”
One situation I talked a pastor friend through was sort of the reverse of this. He worked from a very collaborative, collegial base for cooperative leadership. One elder got on the board who was — as it turned out — more competitive and black-or-white thinking in how he wanted to lead. This elder eventually persuaded others to get one of his friends on the elder board, and then another, and eventually this group of guys who were bonded with each other in leadership style found ways to oust the collaborative pastor who’d tried to work with them for a long time. He’d invested years into building up the church congregation by truly pastoring; after he left, it apparently was run by elders who were united in their lust for power.
Yet another variation on the “troublesome congregants” model where the subordinates arrange to be in control while good people in the lead roles get put down and taken out. (I’ve had several situations like this happen to friends who were pastors.)
I give in cash and once got a bill for what the pastor considered due for my tithe as they had no documentation I had given. After explaining what I give is between God and me as the reason I give in cash, I revoked my membership and.found another church.
Bill M wrote:
Serious question. I’m always amazed that some mega churches start small & get so many to join. Are they really getting ‘new’ (as in never joined before) attendees or are they raiding from established churches? Is this authoritarian style of church sustainable or are we soon going to see epic fails? If anyone has done any research, I’d like to know.
One of the largest Southern Baptist churches in our area has set up multiple campuses, and there is a migration of Christians from existing congregations ot the 'new work'. No doubt there are some new converts.
I give in cash and once got a bill for what the pastor considered due for my tithe as they had no documentation I had given. After explaining what I give is between God and me as the reason I give in cash, I revoked my membership and.found another church.
I do, too, and always have. I would leave a church if they required me to do otherwise.
I have my eye on gateway…
I think every church should be looking at the ‘ways to prevent groupthink’ checklist. The abusive churches tend to do everything in a way that promotes it, with the extra bit of ‘God will get you’ thrown on top.
It’s for tax purposes people let them track. Makes it easy to write off?
Well, Acts 29 was transferred to Chandler before the Hinckley scandal.So far, there has been no public attempt for accountability. And worse, it seems any resources the SBC put up with OPM is impossible to ascertain. Evidently this is because of accounting process or something. They don’t track Reformed only or partnership church planting as separate categories. It is all a jumble. And now, even worse NAMB has non-disclosure agreements with some SBC State leaders.
Why would Christian leaders using other people’s money need non-disclosure agreements to work together?
They market to the “unchurched”. Interesting word, huh?
The ONLY resource I had was Ingrid Schlueters Slice of Laodicea.
@ Bill M:
As someone who attends a Southern Baptist church, I am not very motivated to support the NAMB and the IMB given their recent trends in planting Neo-Cal churches.
Time to toss this one out there again. Great Essay.
Written to be tongue in check but this is what has let to much of the change in church covenants and the secretive nature of many churches over the last 10 to 20 years. It’s blow back against close inspection of pastors by congregations.
The ownership thing explains to me why people like Doug Wilson think women need to have accepted some particular male person to be their ‘protection’ to be protected from evil men. This is a system of ‘someone must own this woman or she is unprotected and has aggree to the propriety of rape’. OF course, this doesn’t address the fact that most women get attacked by either people they know, or in places like the grocery store. All patriarchy really is to them is ownership, and if a woman isn’t owned she is fair game.
I think they are applying the same model to church. If our church doesn’t own you (and you don’t agree, sign a contract, go to small group) you are fair game.
There is nothing new under the sun…. so wise old philosopher once said… especially when dealing with human behavior…
I’m sorry, but what the heck does this even mean? Where in Scripture does God refer to anyone like this, especially His children?
@ NC Now:
Thanks for that! What concerns me is 20 years later the PDC had such influence that too many people would never consider questioning a pastors program publicly. It is the new normal.
And worse, with the Neo Cals you would be disciplined for not obeying Hebrews 13:17.
Warren had great influence on where we are today. His approach was positive. So any questioning was seen as negative. It worked.
Restricting the pastorate / teaching roles is a common, traditional practice across many Christian denominations. You might not agree with it but it can be defended with the Bible. It’s a standard position. If a pastor or church holds that position it’s not indicative of much.
If they’re really hung up on it, or if they expand “complementarianism” past the traditional position and get into kooky talk about “male leadership” then you should probably look for another church.
Yes, that and more.
And still we end up with some people who are/get into trouble of one kind or another. Psychological testing, like medical testing, like academic testing is not a 100% solid indication of mental or psychological health or understanding of some subject.
Yes, indeedy. Cluster B Theology. The fact is that mega-churches pay their staff very well. Certainly better than the staff could earn elsewhere with their professional and interpersonal skill sets, IMO. The market for abusive pastors used to be limited somewhat by the relatively low compensation. But now pups with sufficient loyalty can get a gig which pays them well as church entrepreneurs. And their startup costs are funded by OPM. What a sweet deal. Plus you can get rid of your annoying “customers” with no consequence!
And I’m guessing a lot of these people are getting double pay, through these para church org’s like CBMW, Gospel whatevers, Acts 29, 9Marxists, etc…And they get to retain rights to everything they write on church time. If you wiggle your way into the right spot, it’s a sweet gig. And people will protect that, by being increasingly controlling and authoritarian. A bad system.
That is now I see it. Except I would say to your last paragraph that one should run not walk away from any church that expanded the idea of limitation of admittance to Holy Orders to men to some sort of broad restriction of women in other areas of ministry. The former idea can be seen in scripture, depending on how one understands scripture, but the latter cannot.
I did not find it particularly bothersome growing up to see the ‘head’ pastor a male only. It seems to have expanded way beyond that now, though.
Church planting talks about the “plant DNA,” which is important for understanding its cultural and organizational starting point for its trajectory.
IIRC, one of the earliest elements of the Acts29 history involved revisionism that removed one of the original co-founders, so that the received history passed down was that Mark Driscoll was the sole founder. Does that indicate a chromosome of corruption from the outset?
As to accountability/consequences boomeranging back on such networks as NAMB and Acts29, I know that what I’ve said is speculation, reasoned from multiple trends. So, we just have to watch.
Non-disclosure agreements is yet another element that draws immediate suspicion — and should, I believe — because it is now making other individuals and agencies accessories to silencing.
It isn’t only individuals who want to be pastors that need to go through certification processes and profiling. Same should apply to non-profits and networks … but, as we’ve seen in recent years, there really doesn’t seem to be anything in place yet that can be counted on to do that well — not ECFA, not conventional Christian media.
Sometimes they get sabbaticals, as Kevin DeYoung did, to write a book which the allied publishers will promote. One would think that the church should at least participate in the royalties.
Dee asks in the OP:
OK, seriously. Dee is way too charitable in her description of Chandler and the ELDERS at The Village. Which, ironically enough for a Millennial church, is a YUUUUUUUGE retirement community in Florida. But I digress. This was an EPIC FAIL by the ELDERS who act according to the wishes of Chandler. Yet, what was the consequence for Chandler? He did one non-apology apology sermon which consisted of “We should have done the horrible thing we did to Karen Hinckley with more gentleness.” Then, after his non-culpa mea culpa, he is rewarded with more speaking gigs. There are no consequences for those who are Too Big to Fail, no matter how large the failure.
Back in “the old days,” there were so many issues where people affected suffered is silence unless we stumbled across a book or by chance found someone else who got it about the situation. Thank the Lord for the internet, and those who’ve brought hope and made connection more possible …
I thought it was in Texas?
I would really love to see someone dig into the data on these church discipline situations, with a breakdown by age, sex, reason for discipline, etc… and how it was resolved. And then they really need to be doing case studies on stuff that goes wrong to see where it went wrong (in TVC case, it went wrong every possible way!). And then actually see attempts to FIX these problems.
That we haven’t seen that means to me that they don’t care. They are convinced they are right, godly, etc, and won’t change unless they get smacked down in public.
The church is in metro Dallas. The retirement community is in Florida. Sorry for the confusion which I totally own.
Gotcha. It does sound like a retirement community, now that you mention it. I don’t like the vague church name trend personally.
“When it comes to controlling human beings, there is no better instrument than lies. Because you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts.”
In a capsule, that describes indoctrination to reformed theology. Unfortunately, a multitude of America’s youth have bought the lie and hopped onto the New Calvinist bus. To them I say “Read your Bible, pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you (not man) and you won’t have to worry about ‘correct’ doctrine.”
Several good comments made on the whole topic of shepherding and “speaking into [someone’s] life”. Our New Apostolic Big Cheese friend who declared that elders didn’t have enough authority to speak into an apostle’s life revealed a great deal about what it means in practice.
Bear with me here…
Point 1 of 2: the origins of “shepherding”
I honestly believe that the men who created this monster meant well.
As I understand it, the catalyst for it was that a minister messed up in some way or another, and the Fort Lauderdale Four (as they became known, but weren’t at the time) noted this and asked themselves and one another: Are we ultimately better than that man? Could that have happened to us? What should we do to make sure it doesn’t?
What they did was to set up a structure, and unfortunately – again, I honestly believe they meant well at the start – they only structures they knew how to build were pyramids, with the elite at the top and the masses at the bottom. Had it remained
mutual and peer-level, and an example which they held out to others to observe, evaluate, and perhaps follow or adapt as they saw fit, many terrible things might have been averted. But from the outset, it became
Point 2 of 2: “speaking into” means “talking down to”
Because shepherding / accountability was hierarchical, it followed that you had to have someone over you who “spoke into your life” – that is, told you what to do, what you were doing wrong, what was and was not the will of God for your life. Again, it probably started out with good intentions, but it rapidly became corrupted into a mechanism for petty micro-management and the creation of infantilised victims. Accordingly, who “spoke into” who’s life was rooted in, and an indicator of, who stood where in the church pecking-order.
Point 3 of 2: But it can work
Several years ago I’d been leading the worshippy music stuff in a church gathering locally, involving several local congregations together – I forget the occasion but I think it was part of the Easter Week celebrations. I did some congregational songs but several others that only the music group sang.
At the end of the service, a man from our congregation came up to me. He’d been a member for around 60 years. For many of those years, he and his wife were two of the only members when the church shrank to almost nothing; they kept the lights on in more ways than one. I believe he’d sometimes paid the minister out of his own pocket because the church funds wouldn’t stretch to it. Now that the congregation was thriving he’d retired from office.
Bert has never spoken on a platform or marketed books. He’s never been paid by the church nor been admired by crowds of people applauding his preaching. For decades he has served faithfully on the sidelines of obscurity, stewarding what God gave him, even when it was thankless and hard.
We sometimes parody the title here at TWW, but Bert is someone I gladly call a man of God.
Anyway, he came up to me (not to someone else to complain about me) and said he’d been disappointed by the way I’d led the meeting. He didn’t shout, insult me, attack me or spray fragments of scripture at me. I paraphrase here, but the gist of it was that everyone there had come to worship, sing, and give God the glory due his name, whereas I’d made most people spend most of the time sitting and listening to the band at the front. He could be wrong, he said, but he was disappointed.
That is the kind of thing “speaking into someone’s life” should be (it can be appreciate too, of course). I learned more about leading worship in that 30-second conversation that I ever had before, or ever have since.
Consequences are for the little guys, not for the Big Dogs. What Chandler and his elders did metited immediate resignation with the assets of the church sold off and given to those they have ‘disciplined’ so brutally through the years. The faux humility in the non-apology apology seems to be part of the immunity card they carry. A missed opportunity by Chandler and his elders to imprint more on Jesus.
Metited is supposed to be merited–need new reading glasses.
I think I start every post this way – “sorry to post something off topic”. I really do appreciate the current post here but I thought this article by Jonathan Merritt might be of interest to others reading/commenting here. His article is one of the best I’ve read about TGC.
Cousin of Eutychus wrote:
They are reflecting the image of their god.
“Restricting the pastorate / teaching roles is a common, traditional practice across many Christian denominations. You might not agree with it but it can be defended with the Bible. It’s a standard position. If a pastor or church holds that position it’s not indicative of much.
If they’re really hung up on it, or if they expand “complementarianism” past the traditional position and get into kooky talk about “male leadership” then you should probably look for another church.”
seems to me that one cannot espouse “Restricting the pastorate / teaching roles” and human equality at the same time. i think it’s indicative of much.
what is the traditional position of complementarianism? why is that not problematic?
The End Justifies the Means.
And an Utterly Righteous End justifies Any Means Whatsoever.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Nick, you’re British Isles.
This sound familiar?
Prince of the Blood
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Reminds me of Douglas Adams’ “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish”, book 4 in his “Hitchhiker’s” trilogy.
BTW: Great point.
“Who are you?”
“The New Number Two.”
“Who is Number One?”
“That would be telling.”
Just like Lonnie Frisbee and Papa Chuck Smith.
(Or Leon Trotsky and Josef Stalin.)
Bill M wrote:
Successful Sociopaths usually are.
It means either “Nondenominational Denomination” or “Fundamental Baptist with the labels painted over.”
“For Satan himself can transform himself to appear as an Angel of Light.”
— some Rabbi from Nazareth
(And these days I’m convinced the Rabbi was talking about how successful Sociopaths are masters of camouflage.)
And it they have a positive effect. I know a number of survivors of authoritarian regimes who are very involved and have spread the word about the prevalence of NPD in the pulpit. I was very pleased when I heard of a church search committee that is concerned they don’t get enamored with a pastor candidate’s personality and their intention to have the candidate get a full psychological exam.
I found the study done by Glenn Ball and Darrell Puls to be very effective at stressing the magnitude of the the damage done. The incidence of NPDs is not a 1 in a 100 but more like 1 in 3. I am seeing more people aware dangerous personality types are attracted to the pastorate and many who have become aware have not had to learn it the hard way. There is progress.
I am still waiting for a thorough explanation of why over 1000 missionaries were brought home and over 210 million dollars was overspent over a 5 year period. Little to no money from me in the future to Lottie Moon and the Annie Armstrong offerings.
Ditto! I met one of those missionaries who was brought home.
Wade Burleson (pastor, here on TWW’s E-Church on Sundays) wrote about that:
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How is it that no one has been held accountable for this fiasco? It appears to me the SBC is just moving on.
And recruiting many who want the same gig. It is very Amway like.
Interesting article on TGC and its blocking of people.
What Matt Chandler and The Village Church did to Karen was truly vicious. 6000 people were given her personal business, and an attack on her, from The Village Church pastors/elders.
This was her personal business, about her marriage, and her life. They had no right. Karen, besides being deceived by her ex-husband about his interest in kids, having abused some, and child porn, would have NEVER married him had he told her the truth about himself. He lied. The Texas judge annulled their marriage, which Karen wanted and deserved.
All kinds of people made vicious attacks on Karen on the internet on blog after blog, taking the marching orders of Chandler & pastors/elders. A truly cult-like reaction.
They chastized Karen, per Chandler and the elders.
After this website and others covered this horrendous story, and many of us contacted The Village Church, Matt Chandler and another pastor met with Karen at her friends’ home and he apologized and asked for forgiveness, which she gave him.
But really. It should have never come to this. That poor woman had been though enough!
What was their view about why they were called home?
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Strictly speaking, that was some Pharisee fae Tarsus, who was a follower of some Rabbi fae Nazareth. In fact I bet they promoted each other’s books and shared a platform together. You know how it is with these people.
If only that Rabbi fae Nazareth had had his eyes opened to the Gospel™ through studying Calvin.
The congregations are usually either ignorant (and often purposely so) or have not YET been impacted personally to the level that others have.
I know that when I came out of the shepherding/discipleship movement, there was a need for my own soul-searching, as well as a need to confess and repent of my own choices and sins.
I came up with the following list to address the congregation’s contributions to abusive leadership:
* I want to be a part of the inside crowd, and be in the know.
* I see leadership as ‘special’ and would prefer spending time with them, rather than with regular members.
* I have a tendency to excessively admire ‘special’ people, and think they deserve special treatment.
* I really like it when someone in leadership notices me, even if it’s just to say ‘hello’.
* I like it when a leader pulls me aside and tells me something that’s ‘just between us.’
* I think a leader’s financial needs are more important than the financial needs of regular members.
* I am often willing to contribute time & money to leadership, but very seldom am for regular members.
* If a leader invites me to something, I will cancel any prior plans I had with my spouse or regular members, in order to attend.
* I am much quicker to serve leadership, than I am my spouse or other regular members.
* I refuse to listen to anyone who questions leadership, or expresses a less-than-positive view of leadership.
* I like being a part of a church or organization led by or associated with, nationally known leaders.
* I like it when my leaders point out how special we are, and how we’re doing church better than others.
* When I’m in a social gathering, I gravitate to the circle grouped around the leadership, not to those nobodies sitting along on the sidelines.
It really is a two-pronged issue, IMO.
This may be off topic but over at SBC Voices the current topic is that the 25 SBC offices being voted on at the upcoming convention will all be filled by white men. I’m confident that my comment about if even one woman was being voted on to fill one of these 25 spots would be shocking will not get past moderation.
It is beyond abusive the way SBC leaders, pastors etc abuse women.
Cousin of Eutychus wrote:
Or the ‘seconds in command’ making sure that the church members know of every little need or desire the leadership might have.
So, in our very close-knit shepherding group, during a time period when unemployed carpenters with children were barely living on food stamps, we were sticking $20 bills on a ‘money tree’, purchasing a 24-setting third-set of china, paying for fuel for the ‘church’ airplane to fly leadership out for weekend get-aways, providing salaries to the already white-collar employed ‘shepherds’ (hand-chosen by the pastor), as well as the perpetually ongoing free yardwork, housekeeping, babysitting, pet-sitting and house-sitting.
Personal service and $$$$ always flowed up – in exchange they were ‘shepherding our souls & providing that necessary umbrella of protection’…
A few reasons come to mind: (1) compromise by SBC’s non-Calvinist national leaders for the sake of unity in the denomination, (2) failure by local pastors at 45,000+ SBC churches to inform their congregations of SBC Calvinization, (3) widespread apathy in SBC pews – many Southern Baptists just don’t give a big whoop about theological drift as long as church chicken dinners are not impacted.
Pardon a rant… this phrase used to make me smile, and now it just ticks me off. Many are just church thieves, whether they are stealing buildings through infiltration, or meeting in a school and siphoning off an established congregation. There’s no shortage of churches in the US. Capitol Hill Baptist Church, for example, looked stale and wonderfully located, in need of being rescued from its aging members who met out of habit to worship and break bread.
Sure, renewal and reform sometimes need to happen, and people can worship where they like. I don’t see nice leafy church plants, though. I see brands and branding irons, and livestock with fresh burns.
/iced coffee after lunch
Another one of those spiritualized phrases – usually means receiving guidance, teaching, correction from another person.
And riffing off of the ‘doesn’t have enough authority to speak into your life’ in the earlier reference translates to “He doesn’t have to listen to you, because he’s higher than you in the hierarchy.’
FWIW, in studies of viticulture, if the vineyard workers don’t prune leaves off of the grape vines, all the photosynthesis goes right back into the leaves and not into grapes. So you get a lot of lush looking foliage, and no real fruit. A sad metaphor for the truth about those church plants that deserve your rant …
The pastor under who I suffered spiritual abuse:
*he was a HORRIBLE gossip (how do I know? Because he told me all the secrets of everyone in the church)
*he was liar – lied about so many things from the pulpit and in private conversations
*was consumed with being the ‘all knowing’ bible teacher – could not argue with him
*expected preferential treatment everywhere he went
*surrounded himself with ‘yes’ men
*when confronted about an emotional affair – blamed the other woman, even with evidence proving he was pursuing HER (the elders sided with him, of course)
*found out from his estranged daughter that he physically abused his children, even spanked them as infants for crying
*screwed church members over financially – failed to pay for work done, etc
*attacked anyone who disagreed with them – even having his henchmen ask them to leave the church
*admitted from the pulpit that if he hadn’t gotten saved, he would have been a hit man for the mob (veiled threat, intimidation?)
*had a HUGE problem with authority and had no accountability (non-denominational)
SBC’s church planting program is more about planting theology than churches … the reformed brand. Who, in their right mind, would complain about using the denomination’s bank account to plant churches?! Isn’t that what we are supposed to do – multiply? Well, some of us in their right mind see through the scheme. SBC’s North American Mission Board has a goal to plant 1,000 new churches per year; 50%of their budget is for church planting – $60 million last year. Under NAMB’s Calvinist leadership, it can be assumed that most are being planted by YRR pastors fresh out of seminary … although, there may be few non-Calvinist pastors sprinkled into the mix to disguise the agenda. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. statistician to see where this is going – the proportion of Calvinist to non-Calvinist churches will shift with time.
Yes, and the clergy don’t need to know who is giving what.
In many churches, clergy are deliberately insulated from specific knowledge about who gives how much. The Sunday collection is counted by members who can be trusted not to pocket a percentage, and bookkeeping is done by a volunteer or professional bookkeeper. When stewardship time comes around, pledge information is tracked by lay leaders–not to strong-arm folks, but to make sure budgets are met and the church roof doesn’t fall in from neglect. The lay leaders stand for election, complete with term limits. These are crucial safeguards.
None of this is mandatory. Giving is not mandatory. Cash gifts are fine. Anonymous giving is honored (see Matthew 6:3).
Bookkeeping without abuse… what a quaint notion!
When I went there, there were awesome potlucks with little old ladies. That is what church should be to me, honestly.
This is sort of topic adjacent if not ot, but I liked this article about mutual submission and paul: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/06/06/mutual-not-unilateral-submission-by-craig-keener/
The denomination is shrinking rapidly. Who do they think will go to those churches? I guess they’ll just “forget” to mention that they’re SBC, but with their current tactics, people will leave those new churches too.
Makes you wonder what he was telling others about YOU…
Jobs Program for all those new Head Pastors coming out of their seminary.
And shepherds grown fat on a diet of Mutton.
Can’t remember where I read this, but one author talking about the public face of Christians described a “Christian Leaders taking Moral Stand” described all the “Christian Leaders” in the accompanying photo as “grim-faced older white men in $500 suits”.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
OK, “some Rabbi from Tarsus”.
If you walk into an SBC-YRR church plant in your area, you would be hard pressed to see any affiliation with SBC. Their church names don’t indicate “Southern Baptist” … they have cool names like The Journey, Lake-this, Valley-that, etc. You might find some reference to SBC on the “About Us” page on their website, but the “lead pastors” keep you pretty much in the dark about being part of the SBC (while they collect their church planting check from NAMB). The average church member in an SBC church plant don’t even know they are Baptist! But, they like the free coffee/donuts, groovy band, and cross-less message from the pastor.
I think the potlucks with little old ladies will continue in heaven. They just won’t have arthritis anymore. 🙂
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
That’s what they did with a popular church here in Nashville – and that’s why I checked out my current church all up and down the Internet. So far, so good.
I hope it is optional, because I will do anything to avoid them. First you have to spend all that time getting up something to take. It can’t be just any old thing and it can’t be what you took last time because this is not just a meal, this is a competition of sorts. Then you have to be sure to admire every dish from every person, and horrors if you get the wrong dish lined up with the wrong person. If you take children then their behavior will have to be monitored before somebody says well, poor old (your husband) she not only can’t cook she can’t even get those kids under control. And then there is cleanup and what to do with unclaimed leftovers from people who forgot to put their name on the bottom of the dish. Refrigerator space is limited, and somebody has to agree to come back later and solve it and/or agree to be on call to produce said dish when whoever realizes that she left her dish behind.
And if it is dinner on the grounds after church, then the whole day is basically shot and a headache might be coming on. At which time my point would be, who stole my day of rest anyhow? Does the bible say I have to do this? Isn’t there some chapter and verse that mitigates against casseroles?
Now if we all want to send out for pizza and fried chicken all in disposable cardboard, I am for that.
These are some of the things I have seen that I think contribute to this problem.
1. Leadership that is removed from the congregation and not accessible.
2. Leadership that believes its “special”
3. Obsession with growth and church planting to the point of idolatry.
4. Leaders that act like their time is so precious that meeting with you is a chore. You feel guilted.
5. The church hides their doctrine or policies from the members and attenders.
6. The church is not open about their finances or salary.
7. No one knows what the leadership makes.
7. Pastoring is not about taking care of the sheep, but a ticket to white, middle class suburbia.
“*expected preferential treatment everywhere he went”
in what ways?
It is rather strange the lengths they are going to play the race card (rebranding image…see we care and we are nice!) but gender roles are in full throttle with their comrades at CBMW and the sanctified testosterone.
Why do they forgot they elected Fred Luter a few years ago as President?
It is all a deflection from all the nasty stuff that has come out. Russ Moore made his bones on Patriarchy while at SBTS. Now that he is a national brand, it is about race all the time.
I don’t think Patriarchy would sell as an editorial for the NYT or WaPo.
We are not talking ideologue but opportunists.
“I am still waiting for a thorough explanation of why over 1000 missionaries were brought home and over 210 million dollars was overspent over a 5 year period.”
perhaps $ could be pooled and enormous ads could be purchased in major newspapers asking direct questions like this. In very big bold font.
Your description cracked me up. You’re not southern, though, right? Maybe it’s the in the blood 🙂
Dave (Eagle) wrote:
I feel like this is new, too. I never heard so much about church planting before, unless it was in Africa or something…
When he traveled, had to stay in the best hotels – if he taught a bible study, expected a meal to be served (he picked). Expected the church members to donate things he needed (eyeglasses, things to fix up his house, etc) and he was NOT in need by any means. If he wasn’t treated like a celebrity, he had nothing to do with you. All he wanted were people fawning all over him, hanging on his every word.
Ooooh, I get that. I see potlucks as a calling. Some people really love organizing them, and I hope God in heaven honors that as swiftly as he excuses the casserolephobes.
And somebody always brought, like, rolls or store bought cookies or something. Be like that person!
They don’t care. They are targeting a difference niche. A lot of established SBC churches are debt free and have financial legacies and they eventually have control of it all by making Joe and Bob, elders.
This is the biggest thing to happen to them in their lives. I am watching the tactic now in a church that has been taken over. A lot of folks not happy but they don’t want to look mean and go against the new mission vision the SBTS 30 year olds have for the church. They have gone this far so it seems mean to suddenly say enough. Besides, now it would split the church even more.
I remember with fondness the olden times of my childhood and Lutheran soup suppers.
Velma Albrecht’s split-pea soup was the best! Lotsa’ ham chunks and carrots.
Muff Potter wrote:
When I was a kid, in addition to potlucks, we would occasionally have some sort of ice cream social thing where everyone made homemade ice cream! That was amazing.
From what I know (not a great deal), ordination in Episcopal parishes starts with a period of discernment, and formation of a committee in the candidate’s home parish that stays with him/her for years. Assuming six months to two years of discernment, and then a three-year M.Div. program, that committee knows the candidate very well. The experience of listening to lay folks helps to shape the candidate into a good priest.
A lot of people drop out before applying to seminary. Early on, there are lots of awkward questions along the lines of, Why do you want to be ordained? and Why can’t you do X, Y, or Z as a lay person? This process may be more valuable than psychological testing, which is also crucial.
We like the drama of dropping our fishing nets or being struck blind on the road to Damascus–but an awful lot of observation and learning and changing and prayer and study happened after those things.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
“Can’t remember where I read this, but one author talking about the public face of Christians described a “Christian Leaders taking Moral Stand” described all the “Christian Leaders” in the accompanying photo as “grim-faced older white men in $500 suits”.”
this is really a nauseating stereotype. it communicates elite, smug, ivory-tower-ness that can’t help but be out of touch with reality.
I think some churches consider this to be the picture of spiritual credibility and so they emulate (whether privileged silk monkey suits, status quo polo shirts, or trying-hard-to-look-like-I-don’t-care t-shirts).
it is a mistake. it is a picture of an organization that is backward, lacks awareness, and is cocooned in it’s own peculiar alternate reality.
I don’t think it’s a leap to expect that society will be moving more and more in the direction of equality, mutuality.
for the simple reason of common sense and statistics (ie- in developing nations, families and communities have a higher quality of life when women control the money). http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2012/03/revenga.htm
but I’m sure this makes some quake in their boots, finding it insupportable because….. because…. it’s not biblical! (that convenient catch-all). so ‘we’ll double-down on that culture-war, slowly back away and make the sign of the cross with 2 fingers against eeeeevil feminism.’
how old was this bozo?
Sunk Cost Fallacy — the con man’s friend.
Get the mark in too deep to back out, financially and emotionally.
If the trend is toward authoritarian leadership,it will be interesting to see if it sticks. Our local megachurches (which would be considered minimega by US standards) seem to have peaked but there seems to be more smaller independent churches cropping up.
Dave (Eagle) wrote:
But we know how many breath mints are in the budget…
Sorry, guys, a Furtick Mansion, Private Jet, and/or Star Scott Exotic Car Collection is NOT “middle class suburbia”.
I completely agree with this statement. Without a doubt,one of the biggest challenges facing churches is reconciling post modern liberal democracy with iron age ( thanks for the correction,Bill) morality.
Dee writes “It is important to understand that abusive pastors will be sure to surround themselves with yes boys.”
“Boys” is exactly the right word in some cases. The New Calvinist elder model is an accident waiting to happen when you team a 30-something authoritarian “lead pastor” with hand-picked “elders” in their 20s-30s. There’s not enough spiritual maturity in that sort of crew to stay out of trouble. When the youth group runs the church, bad things happen.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
AKA the ‘Psychology of Previous Investment’. It works in all sorts of scenarios, too! A lot of tech corporations depend on it to maintain brand loyalty. Makes change very slow and difficult, whether that’s for good or ill…
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Hug, I see this over and over. You opened my eyes to it. I thought I was nuts. But now I know they don’t want to see it “on purpose”.
Copies of “Thugs In The Pulpit” should be inserted in every church bulletin in America next Sunday! But that probably ain’t going to happen, lest the church members recognize some of the thug traits in their leaders. As Dee notes “Lay people tend to trust their pastors and do not view them in the same manner that they view civic leaders.” Folks, it is well past time to pray for discernment about the leadership you have subjected yourself to. Too many charlatans have slipped in the back door. If you find your “pastor” to be controlling, intimidating, and manipulative, put that church in your rear view mirror. It’s better to be shunned for a season, than to have your spiritual life snuffed out by an oppressive leader.
@ Muff Potter:
Back in the day, kids went last and there was always plenty of the 3 bean salad left. :o(
I hope I am wrong but SBC will be one of the last groups to “allow” women to be equal. It is beyond comprehension what this denomination has done to women. They use the Bible, but only by using certain verses and piece of verses.
Lydia, they want to act like they are all so surprised about all white men being elected to the 25 positions. I guess I am not nice as I have asked many times why Fred Luter ran unopposed?
This is a solid plan.
I am very suspect now of the pastors who claim to have “been called by God to the ministry”. While that may be true in some cases, I think in many cases abusive, self-centered pastors use that phrase like the word “Biblical”: because any questions are anti. Anti-God. Anti-Biblical. And we can’t have that.
My ex-NeoCalvinist/9Marxist/John MacArthur-ite pastor was fond of announcing from the pulpit how he had “been called by God to ministry”. All of the people – men and women various ages – whom he had verbally and emotionally abused, psychologically abused, spiritually abused, threatened, lied about…would beg to differ with his claim.
It’s got its down sides, but there is wisdom in the approach. On a related note, I was surprised to learn that in the early church (before Constantine) there was a time when Gentile converts had to undergo a 3-year learning process before they could become baptized and receive communion. I guess the early church didn’t understand how to be seeker-sensitive.
I agree when it comes to race and gender. I totally disagree when it comes to positional caste in economics and government. We are actually becoming more top down and the gap between rich and poor is as wide as it has been in aged.
ATTN Headless Unicorn Guy
HUG was asking about the topic discussed on the page below on a thread here or at Julie Anne’s blog a couple of weeks ago. I thought he’d like to see this. HUG, if you do see this, could you please let me know? Thank you. This might help you understand why sometimes women oppress other women.
The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Pass Through the Mother
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
I doubt that he is the British Isles being but a person!!!!
It’s the wrathful and impersonal god of John Piper who hates all humankind, but it is willing to put up with those made into his obnoxious in-laws through the blood of Christ.
If you don’t teach of this god, your church will start preaching prosperity gospel and holding gay weddings in no time.
Seriously, there is a poster on this board who posted a blog on how Piper’s rejection of “Imago Dei” is the wellspring for all his other bizarre, extreme, and mean beliefs, but I can’t find it. I’ve come to agree. Does anyone else remember?
The following comment is true but light hearted.
Speaking about church food, and noting that mention has been given here to the Lutherans of somebody’s childhood I want to say that while we were out in the midwest we used to go to this or that spassfest in central Illinois. In addition to the beer truck from the brewery in St. Louis there was always some fund raiser food tent set up by some Lutheran church with some of the best food you can imagine. My absolute favorite was sweet sour red cabbage.
Which brings me to something suspicions (or not) that I have come across. Here is my town my path crosses with a local Lutheran church and by some hook or crook they got my money and I got their cookbook, and behold that cookbook did not include a recipe for sweet sour red cabbage. Not even a hint. Nothing. Now I am thinking that they may be faux Lutherans. They do keep saying that salvation is by faith alone, which sounds very Lutheran, but where is the cabbage? Perhaps I am making too much of this, but religion-specific food may be a tip off to something that I am missing.
And for whoever said I was not a southerner, let me say that hereabouts we consume pulled pork barbecue and chicken stew as religious practices. Also some grown men gather as a group and eat chit’lins in cream just to show that they can, after consuming significant amounts of white lightning to brace for the ordeal. This is why God created women, when He looked at Adam and said that boy is pitiful, he needs help in the worst sort of way.
Ken F wrote:
That’s a long time to become baptized and receive communion. Not the way Jesus would have done it.
I first read that in “The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Present Day” by Justo L Gonzalez. It was a good read. It’s been some years since I read it, so I should probably go back for a refresher. The one point he made that stuck is the “church” has always had to respond to the pressure of the times. This resulted in many practices and customs that we might not like, but before we get too harsh on our ancestors in the faith, we have to remember that we are also creating customs and practices as we respond to the pressures of our time. In that light, many of of the customs passed down to us make more sense. Not that it means they should apply to our times, but I have a better understanding for why the customs were put in place.
I’m having a new faith crisis: last summer I discovered IPAs, but now I’m hearing this is the favored drink of the YRRs. Does that make me bad?
And this criticism is coming from someone named Okrapod?! ;^)
Some Southern dishes seem strange to Yankees, but good is good! Personally, I like everything fried … particularly okra.
Us guys can be pitiful at times – we Adams need our Eves … in an egalitarian way, that is.
I think that was me saying I thought you said once you weren’t southern. have you seen the s*** southern women never say video? My favorite is ‘can you teach me to make a casserole’ 🙂
Although I will say I do not touch chitlins myself.
Good article at the link. I’m wondering if the author is the same Indian woman I heard on NPR (national public radio) awhile back. She said that when third world women take the initiative of change from the old ways, life improves for all. She also said that more and more of their men are getting on board when they see such tangibles as clean water and solar driven electricity on modest scales.
It sure is a long time. Here’s the old-school way:
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. ”
(Acts 8:36-38 [KJV])
Bang zoom, done! Philip did not say, “I’m sorry Mr. Ethiopian Eunuch, but actually you must study for three years first.” Mr. Eunuch would have said something to the effect of WT#? (ed.) And rightfully so. No, Philip said “let’s go”.
I did a project with the Gramin bank many years ago concerning micro enterprise in India. It was a way out of poverty for many women back then. Taking on their future with a bit of seed money.
The Greek Orthodox Church here has the absolute best food at their festival.
@ Ken F:
I thought it was Starbucks
Ken F wrote:
I discovered IPAs in Leeds, UK…..if it makes me bad, then I’ll be bad….
@ Ken F:
” This resulted in many practices and customs that we might not like, but before we get too harsh on our ancestors in the faith, we have to remember that we are also creating customs and practices as we respond to the pressures of our time”
yes, interesting. concerning these customs and practices our generation of Christianity is creating, my immediate thought: to avoid writing one’s history as ridiculous and/or inhumane (the way we look back on past eras and consider them unenlightened), at least 2 ground rules come to mind:
-kindness; people more important than principle
-anti-wealth; people more important than money; money comes in, it is not kept, it goes out to help people in need, to worthy causes;
Ken F wrote:
Thanks for the name of the book title and the author. I will add it to my list of books to read.
I guess I’m saddened, no matter what the time period is and the institutional church, that rules of men trump demonstrating the love of God to fellow Christians and unbelievers and that Jesus’ simple message is complicated with rules, rules, and more rules. Just sad.
The thief on the cross didn’t have to jump through hoops such as a Christian tract, a certain prayer, memorizing Bible verses, a Membership Covenant, baptism, or communion to be accepted by God and to be with Him in Paradise.
Do they ever!
No red cabbage with the Lutherans I know…..and if I have to eat chit’lins to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, I will just just prepare myself for fire and brimstone….its got to be better than chit’lins……
Oh! Ours has a great one too. I love the pastitio.
let’s all be “bad” together!
(after all, bad is as bad does)
Someone answer me this….are the SBC, YRR now consuming alcoholic beverages?
If so, why were we youth in the 1960s and 1970s ” scared ” so badly about the “evils of drink ” from every SBC pulpit in East Texas??
When did this change? Or did it?
Yes. The verses on fasting. Fishes and loaves.
In your defense, I don’t think a casserole is even “Biblical” (TM) because after all it’s not in the Bible.
That’s a huge relief. I learned to love espresso from my time in Italy. No one makes espresso like the Italians. They make it a glorious combination or art, science, and religion. By contrast, Starbucks should be prosecuted for the way they serve espresso.
Ken F wrote:
Thank goodness, I’m enough of a Cajun our coffee of choice is Baton Rouge’s Community Dark Roast…not fancy enough for the YRR crowd….
According to John MacArthur (featured T4G speaker) they are: “If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the young-and-restless district of the Reformed community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.” (from http://www.gty.org/blog/B110809/beer-bohemianism-and-true-christian-liberty).
“while presiding over his first trustee meeting as head of the mission agency….Platt brought three personnel recommendations to IMB trustees…describing the moves as “high-level, 40,000-foot decisions” designed to “set the stage” for subsequent decisions in the days to come.”
“First, IMB trustees approved Sebastian Traeger, an innovator and entrepreneur based in Washington, D.C., to serve as the agency’s executive vice president. Traeger, 40, is an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C….He will replace Clyde Meador, 69, who has served in the role since July 2003.”
“Meador will move into a new position as executive advisor to the president.”
“Trustees also voted to approve Zane Pratt, 57, as vice president for global training.”
Zane Pratt followed Mark Dever as pastor of New Meadows Baptist Church, Topsfield Mass., the church that inspired Dever’s ‘Nine Marks’ and later collapsed after Andy Davis’s pastorate. He is praised by Dever in the 9 Marks book:
More info on Zane Pratt’s friendship with Dever here:
Ken F wrote:
The SBC has determined the Bible never allows the drinking of alcohol-just as they have determined God could never can call a woman to pastor a church.
I have to remember it is impossible to reason with FUNDAMENTALIST.
I don’t think it’s technically sbc, but everybody I met at gateway was drinking constantly.
No drink, no women leadership, no gambling, tithe, tithe, tithe….and they said for years no ” works” for salvation…..we were lied to weren’t we? 😉
Ken F wrote:
Some are consuming alcohol, some aren’t and still use the Prohibition-type arguments from Protestants that it could “make a brother or sister stumble” who is an alcoholic.
The non-drinkers will send emails before social events at restaurants reminding people not to order alcohol. Giving anyone a gift of alcohol in these groups is akin to giving them illegal street drugs and marks you as *horrible person*.
Curiously the majority of the NeoCal crowd is overall very irresponsible about sex offenders and gives them access to churches and children, because they have “accepted Jesus”. It’s not consider a stumbling block to give them access to children.
I always say that I’m a member in spirit of my local Orthodox church during the yearly festival and during the Christmas bake sale. Those people can cook!
You can find some Acts29 pastor bios that specifically mention their love of beer. It’s a signal to young people who grew up in the SBC that they’re the cool and chilled out church, not like their Footloose style Baptist churches of the past. Of course what you get instead is what we talk about here.
Thanks so much. I laughed out loud!
As the saying goes, “Adam was the rough draft and Eve was the final product.”
@ Ken F:
I learned to love espresso from the Cubans. They drink it in 100 degree weather.
Starbucks is vile, IMO.
Well, if one is a macho guy in the patriarchal system, the one who offends little children is not a threat to the big macho guy. It would take empathy to understand the threat to children, and the macho guys at the top seem without.
KD, pretty positive the current SBC lifeway summer emphasis is on giving-tithing.
I am confident we are not under the law to tithe.
I recall something about millstones and deep bodies of water if you mess with the kids… one of the less subtle messages from our Lord…
I am too…..once again, lied to….
The SBC leaders love to rule over people. They may have read the Bible, but they sure seem inept in interpreting it as Jesus would.
The NeoCal Boyz appear to just read Paul. They haven’t gotten to The Gospel yet and appear to understand anything Jesus said.
And with NeoCalvinistm/Comp doctrine, women as second-class citizens, and children as third-class citizens, it doesn’t matter to the Boyz.
Am I understanding this correctly? Mark Dever planted that church in Massachusetts. Dever was succeeded by his buddy Zane Pratt, and Zane was followed by Andy Davis (under whom the church fizzled). Any details about what happened?
Oooh. Top secret. Like the GCR lockbox. And Ezells non disclosures. All done with OPM by supposed Christians because we know how secretive Jesus was about money and positional power.
It wasn’t just East Texas K.D. Papa Chuck (founder of Calvary Chapel in Southern Cal.) had an almost Islamic aversion to alcohol. Just last week I heard one of his old guard pastors on radio expound upon the evils of even a good Chianti with your favorite pasta and sauce.
It’s the only thing i like about them. :o)
@ Muff Potter:
No Cabernet with your steak??? How dreadful.
A quote from a good piece on Hillsong https://www.google.com/search?q=david+hayward+sheep+cartoons&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiehartyJfNAhVO0GMKHeewBYcQ_AUICCgB&biw=1230&bih=514 :
“Before the service had begun that day, a woman in her early twenties who was saving the entire row for latecomer friends told me she had been coming to Hillsong for two years, that every week she brings more and more friends because where else in New York can you find such a spiritual place? She used to go to a Greek Orthodox church—every single person I met at Hillsong was a churchgoer somewhere else before he or she began going to church at Hillsong—but it was long and boring there and she was doing it out of family obligation.”
Heh, not sure what happened to that link- should be http://www.gq.com/story/inside-hillsong-church-of-justin-bieber-kevin-durant
No details, but from what I’ve been able to piece together, the exemplar church of 9Marks went belly up after Andy Davis left. The last mention I’ve found of it is 1995 – the owner of the Puritan Board was ‘Pulpit Supply’ at ‘New Meadows Reformed Baptist Church Topsfield, MA 1994-1995’:
I’ve not found it listed on even the earliest SBC or Reformed Baptist church directory webpages at the Internet Archive. Seems it was long gone by the time the CCR/9Marks organization launched.
1991 incorporation filing, lists Andy Davis’s wife as a deacon:
As a Catholic, I remember being very shocked when I learned that the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 removed this from the BF&M 63:
” The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ. (from the BF&M ’63)”
When I asked about this on SB blogs, I was told that it was ‘too non-specific’ and that ‘liberals’ had mis-used it.
Well, now, the misogyny of patriarchy has entered into the SBC, and now, the neo-Cals with their strange ESS theology, and on and on with cultic practices of ‘signing membership documents’.
Was a sorry day for the SBC when ” The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” was removed from their BF&M 2OOO. If they were afraid of that phrase, they certainly were not afraid to open the door to some very extreme alternatives. I agree that ‘ The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.’ is no longer a part of the SBC leadership direction, and I see this as the SBC wandering farther away from mainline orthodox Christian beliefs.
If the SBC guiding principle is no only ‘ The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.’;
then to which ‘mother ship’ does the SBC report to and take its interpretation from? the neo-Cal masters? the Dominionists? from the strange cruel world of the Pearls, and the Duggars?
from that weirdo up in Moscow, Idaho?
A door closed for the SBC in 2000, and since then, they haven’t had to worry about ‘ The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.’ The tragedy of this departure from viewing sacred Scripture through the lens of Christ is revealed in the harm people have endured as a result.
Thanks for this helpful information!
Ken F wrote:
So what if the YoungRebelliousReformed faddists like IPA? They don’t own it – IPA was around long before they were and this ground needs re-taking. Drink Responsibly™ * and give thanks!
* “Drink Responsibly” is a phrase that is now required to be printed on all packaging and labels used with alcoholic drinks over here. Hence my use of the ™ . I’m not parodying the idea, of course – I agree with it.
Apparently following Jesus is for liberals now, then.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
maybe it always has been, NICK 🙂
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
I had never heard about this part. That is crazy.
I have been thinking bringing politics into religion in the way that has happened has been very damaging. Jesus taught love. If you can’t love and be conservative you have a problem.
The sad part is that the SBC leaders could careless about the people who have been harmed in the SBC–IMO they are heartless.
Thank you, Stan. I would like to read that comment as well.
The irony is that Piper’s theology, as grandiose as he tries to make it sound, is in reality works based. As others have pointed out, he subtly changes the first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism from “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever” to “Man’s chief end is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” By adding a qualifier, he makes our enjoyment of God necessary to our salvation.
Another, and more detailed, examination of his theology can be found here: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/02/14/john-pipers-works-righteousness-gospel-part-3/
I have sort of an unrelated question, I remember people discussing the covenant marriage stuff on some of the duggar threads, because I guess Arkansas has it? I have a friend whose husband has been having an affair and I guess she’s in a covenant marriage…I hope it isn’t a pita to get out of!
That is an easy question. The answer is Al Mohler.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
What makes you think they are conservative?
They really shouldn’t have completely omitted it. They should have just changed it to: “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is the Apostle Paul in reference to the Roman Household Codes.”
Thanks, Lydia, that makes $ense ….
I should have thought ‘Al Mohler’ every $ince learning about the Mahaney $candal
Lol! So true!
I assume by “liberals” they mean theological liberals rather than, say, Democrats / Commies / whatever.
Long story short: Liberal theology kind of emerged in academia during the 1960’s, it being a trend whereby researchers treated the bible as just another collection of myths written by primitive people who didn’t know any better. The tacit, or explicit, assumption there is not just that the Bible is not really inspired by God – it’s that there isn’t really a God in existence who could inspire anything. Of course, secular discussion of the bible has always treated it thus, but the difference with Liberal Theology as A Thing is that many of these people purport to be defining and speaking for the Christian faith, as opposed to merely critiquing it from outside. I repeat: long story short, and I accept that a potted summary like that suffers from a great many omissions.
This has fed a whole host of false-antithesis / slippery-slope-fallacy nonsense. I.e.: we believe in the Bible, and we believe it is X, Y and Z. If you believe anything different, you’re a liberal theologian who doesn’t believe in God and you’re going to hell – in fact, you’re probably already into dancing and christian heavy metal music.
@ Lydia – this may answer your question as well.
P.S. I’m not into dancing. Decent real ale yes, dancing no. I don’t mind christian heavy metal music if it’s done well.
Oven-baked salmon fillet and spiced potato * wedges (or “posh fish and chips” as we call it) for tea tonight. I’m in two minds about whether to pull together a cheese and lemon sauce (which goes wonderfully well with salmon but less so with potato wedges) or do a thai peanut sauce, which kind of goes OK with both. The former involves grating a lemon and making a roux; the latter would mean sallying forth to the local Co-Op in search of lemongrass and coriander as we’ve none in the fridge. I’m not sure I can be bothered to do either, TBH.
* Potatoes are known colloquially as “spuds” in England and “tatties” in Scotland. However, when our daughter was wee and just learning to talk, she called them “bitatoes”. This is so cute that it stuck, and I still refer in-house to “bitato wedges”.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Yep. The problem is that liberal Theology and politics are molded together by certain groups and they are just as bad when it comes to micro managing, shaming, guilt and groupthink.
Yes. I feel like politics and theology are melding on both sides of the aisle, and this makes it really hard to find a church that isn’t influenced by politics one way or the other. This is especially true in the US, maybe? I don’t know about Scotland.
But you shouldn’t say ‘women can’t do X in church or their marriage because of the trans/gay/whatever movement in politics’, which seems to be the approach some of these guys take. That’s very frustrating.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
I vote for thai peanut sauce.
and can I have your recipes both sauces?
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
My grandmother, until her dying day, called white potatoes ‘irish potatoes’ (to distinguish from sweet). Spuds is common in the us.
I am confused about a cheese sauce on salmon! I would go with a beurre blanc or simple lemon butter.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Do the potatoes need a sauce? What about a lemon dill cream sauce for the salmon?
By the way, what is “IHTIH?”
A person can get out of a covenant marriage, but there are extra hoops they have to jump through. I think they have to at least go through counseling.
I’ve noticed that people in the Quiverfull movement tend to be flavors of Baptist. I predict that since the SBC is already becoming more and more extreme, that it will start to align with the Quiverfull groups since most if not all are already Calvinist. At that point, the remaining normal people in the SBC will stampede towards the exit. A new denomination for normal Baptists could form or at least make the Cooperative Baptist group grow and grow.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Not many attain to Furtick level. How did he get there? I’ve tried to watch the guy speak and I can’t stomach it for more than 5 minutes. What brings people to the place? I am at a loss to understand.
In a Pyramid Scheme, not many start at the Top of the List.
On the other hand, they appeal to those who do not want to let go of the iron age.
That’s the thing, of course; potato wedges done properly (just under a minute in the pressure-cooker followed by 35 minutes in a hot oven, with a bit of salt) don’t need a sauce; you can get by perfectly well without, especially as salmon is pretty moist as long as it’s not overcooked.
I’ve decided on a mushroom and white wine sauce, incidentally, as long as the Co-Op has button mushrooms in this evening.
I get that there are people who like dill cream sauces, but not I – I like neither dill, nor cream in a savoury setting (cream belongs with pudding/dessert IMO).
IHTIH = I Hope This Is Helpful (ION = In Other News and not, as is commonly supposed, an atom or molecule with one or more electrons either missing or surplus).
“From now on, the criterion by which Jesus Christ is to be interpreted is The Bible(TM).”
Or the Koran.
When you’ve gotten to that point there’s not much difference.
Or you’re well down the Road to Socratic Atheism; because then Jesus Christ is not God, the Bible is God.
Boots stamping on faces all the way down, and they’re the biggest boots on top.
“You Hold the Whip.”
— Slavemaster of Astapor, just before getting char-broiled by one of Danerys’s dragons
Interesting as, famously, potatoes / bitatoes come from the Americas. (Dinnae ken where sweet bitatoes come fae, TBH!)
It’s important to note that I don’t do cheese sauce with salmon – I do cheese and lemon sauce. It’s also important to use the zest of one lemon but the juice of two; the juice provides a nice sharp edge to it that cuts through what would otherwise be a little bit heavy and cloying. I understand the logic of a lemon butter, but the overall effect with salmon would be a bit too oily for my taste. Oddly enough, the addition of cheese to the sauce is as much about texture as it is about flavour. It’s kind of “beurre blanc plus”.
Anyway – better head off to the Co-Op! The weans are wanting cola as well… (not, I hasten to add, as a sauce ingredient).
It took me a long time to come to my senses the first time I was involved with an abusive church. It was very hard to disentangle what I thought church was from the reality. It took a long time to trust my own perceptions and see clearly. The second time was almost just as difficult. I really thought there was something wrong with me, not the NPD pastor. The third time was an undercover takeover situation. When the truth started to come out, I saw what was wrong pretty quickly but I still went through a period of feeling like I needed to be involved as a force for truth, to pray and do what I could to get things back on track. After that, I learned to cut my losses and move on as soon as I saw warning signs. (And, a few churches later, I was done.)
A couple things I learned. You will not be the first to try to call attention back to the scriptures/try to work for good/bring balance/warn/ask questions of the powers that be. Your perspective will be well known to them, the answers/response well rehearsed. They have set their direction before they even came to the pastorate, they are expecting your questions/objections and are ready for them. They are going to work things so you keep paying the bills as long as possible, though.
I just finished reading the book “Pagan Christianity?” by Frank Viola and George Barna. I would imagine this book has been discussed here ages ago. If you have not read this book, you might want to look it up on Amazon and read some reviews.
They discuss how far different so-called ‘church’ is today as it was delivered to the first believers through Jesus and then the apostles. There is hardly anything that is done in Christendom churches today that resembles the first century church. To me, this was an incredible book. It seems well researched and if you have not read it, you will find that most of the things done in ‘churches’ today do not stem from Christianity, but from pagan practices. Worth mulling over.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
From my extensive (quick google) research, sweet potatoes appear to also be from the Americas (although there is a possibility they came there from Polynesia or new Zealand?) I think ‘irish’ potatoes is because of the potato famine which brought many irish here to the us.
I’m not convinced on cheese/lemon sauce, but I’ll take your word for it 🙂
Do they talk about more than Easter and Christmas? I’m totally cool with our taking over those pagan practices and making them Christian. I’ll have to check this book out.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
It is. 🙂
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Agreed. But it was not always thus. There was time when folks read the Bible for its own sake and let it speak for itself. People in different camps were moved and edified by many of the same passages. And if they disagreed on other passages? It wasn’t as big of a deal as it is now with all the competing flavors (flavours?) and satrapies warring for supremacy.
This is off-topic, but I just have to share. Christian writer Ann Voskamp has hit the ball out of the park with her essay on the Stanford rape and the “20 minutes of action.” Here, she writes to her son about being a real man and includes her story of being a teen and reporting another teen who was groping the girls. Note the elder’s response. As she notes, when boys will be boys, girls will be garbage.
I mean, I don’t think that’s fair to boys, because how many boys would find a girl in distress and decide to strip her and stuff her full of pine needles. That is just…what disrespect. God bless the two guys riding by on bikes to show what ‘real’ men should do, and should be taught to do.
Viola got into the organic church non-movement in which he pretty much wanted to do away with anything and everything that most people think of as church. According to his blog he has now laid that aside basically because the market has dried up (my terminology) because that is just not what people are interested in right now. So much for commitment to a set of beliefs I assume he thought were biblical, I guess.
That book got a lot of pushback from many quarters. Mainly from those quarters that appeal to church tradition. I never understood that. Why would we appeal to what came out of the political church state mindset? That book stepped on a lot of toes. And of course history is nuanced so many arguments made about what some saw as poor scholarship.
I enjoyed the book. Some of what it contained I came across in my own earlier research.
Patriciamc, the book has nothing to do with Christmas or Easter. It has everything to do with how they say the church has morphed into something that God never intended. Today’s church is mostly a human endeavor/event with nearly all the practices involved taken from pagan religious practices. Many protestant churches follow a very similar format with various diversions, and they explain how this developed.
I am sure most know that when the Bible talks about ‘church’ it never refers to a building, but today that is what many associate with the word. Another point they make is that ‘church’ was never meant to be ‘led’ and pretty much controlled by one man; it was supposed to be organic with many if not all coming and sharing through the gift/s they had received from the Holy Spirit. Not one man controlling it all.
They also talk about the belief today that so many have that you have to have certain credentials to be a ‘pastor’. The first apostles had no credentials yet the church was born!
The book is very well written. I would love to hear other peoples comments who have read the book or will read it. I would actually like to see a separate thread made to just discuss it because I think people will see it that important. The book discusses the altar, what the Bible really has to say about the word ‘pastors,’ first century tithing and giving, taking the bread and wine in remembering the Lord, building buildings, and more.
Okrapod, thanks for that. I did not know it.
The internet and social media have birthed the ‘celebrity pastor’. While there have always been a few in the spotlight, now more than ever we have an increasing number of pastors engaging in social media, streaming sermons, conferences. It’s just a repackaged ‘boys club’. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun. There will always be the abusive, power hungry pastor that loses his calling to power and oftentimes, greed. The funny thing is that some of these pastors do not lead large congregations. They garner the celebrity status on a smaller scale. Someone once said, “It’s funny how so little power can go to one’s head.” It’s true! The abusive pastor I was under was so clearly a narcissist! He loved adoration and hero worship.
I appreciated the part of this article that dealt with the possible psychological issues that these abusive pastors have. The pastor at the church we left had an extremely dysfunction FOO and an obvious disdain for women, although he was clever about how he expressed it. It’s funny to look back on all the things I witnessed, with clear eyes. Some of these guys get into the ministry because of the dichotomy of being everything to everyone but at the same time using the very people they claim to serve.
Smart. I recently did the same. Yes, they are prepared for a long haul stealth takeover if it is an established church with lots of old people. It can take a year or 3 before people even ask questions.
I am watching it from a window now in one church I am quite familiar with. It took a year to bring in yes boy volunteers from SBTS and now several are on paid staff. No vote. Which is unheard of there. Now they are slowly getting rid of all activities or events that are led by the pew sitters with a new mission they sold them on. They are abolishing SS over a time and moving toward in home redemption groups run by SBTS volunteers. They are starting with youth.
The thing is these guys don’t want to work –that’s a big part of it. They want to be on stage talking. To them, that is their work. Nothing in the church is more important than their teaching and their message. Everything must revolve around the pastor and his sermons.
Oh and a focus on international missions because they need other people to pay for them to see the world. There are plenty of mission opportunities right downtown. But it’s just not glamorous.
It is hard to do organic church and be a celebrity leader of such. It sort of defies the purpose. :o)
Lydia, thanks for your input back to me. I am going to read the book again after I get it back from someone I loaned it to. The book is going to be controversial for many, but I thought the book truthful, for myself, when I use it to measure what is in my mind that the Bible says after reading it for nearly 40 years. I thought it lined up pretty well. I do not see the church today as lining up with what the LORD intended. I thought it a subject that should have been covered by many but the world is a strange place.
Do tell. My former “church” considered not tithing a sin worthy to be disfellowshipped for. After all, there’s those new cars and “mission” trips that have to be paid for.
I think a lot of people felt like they were dissing tradition. So the question asked was are these traditions a sin. And I think many missed the larger point. And when I say tradition I mean our historical definition of pastor (orator), the pulpits, buildings, polity, etc.
I read it after walking away from the seeker mega movement where I had already come to the conclusion 90% of it was foundationally idolatrous. I was totally alone in that thinking in my world so the book comforted me to some extent at the time.
The absolutely biggest problem facing the body of Christ, in my view, is the thinking that someone has to be in charge of the adults. Why we think like that is probably something we need to spend quite a bit of time on.
Why do you think this is.
The three best things that a church can have, imo, are fellowship, worship, and learning – which seems to work better in sunday school than church itself. So, is this about wanting more time for the pastor up front, more control, or what? Why would a home group be preferable to sunday school? Are they just trying to phase out the teachers who aren’t under their control or are they trying to get out early for lunch?
“Now they are slowly getting rid of all activities or events that are led by the pew sitters with a new mission they sold them on.”
does this ‘mission’ have a name? ‘Every Member Mission’, by chance?
Maybe that explains the shouts of “Amen!” when Robert Morris preached about demons infesting people who do not tithe.
Well, I also read it after reading only the Gospels for 3 years over and over. no Paul. I was done with Paul for a while and felt like I needed a Jesus filter and more of the Holy Spirit. And lots of research on church history and even today I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg on that subject.
It was very hard for me to reconcile what I saw going on in churches with the Jesus Christ I came to know. We visit around but I am pretty much a “done” when it comes to the institutions. I live at Ground Zero so not being subject to local church membership in many circles is akin to murdering babies in the Public Square. Even the mega church people have this attitude about going to church.
What if my conscience convicts me that I am enabling bad things if I go to some churches? Is ignorance of what is going on behind the stage a better position? Some think so. During this time a lot of people told me there is no perfect Church. If I had $1 for every time I was told that it would have been worth hearing such prattle.
Why is “perfect” the standard? What does perfect mean anyway? Does it mean I should expect people to sin against me? I could never really figure out why people said that.
Why not have a standard of truth, transparency, justice, equality, mercy? Are they out of fashion?
Wow, they really have sped up the canonization process! He’s not even dead!
I don’t know. I bet it has “Gospel” in it. And I bet it is robust.
The elder is a puling lout and has forgotten the face of his father… (line cribbed from Stephen King).
I remember the boys I chummed with as a kid. Our fathers were of The Greatest Generation as Tom Brokaw dubbed them. They were all WW2 vets and they all taught us to a man: “When a woman says no it means no!“
Because pew sitters teach SS. And most of them, as a group, agree on what to study. That has been the typical approach in the SBC.
That is now verboten. You can’t have everyday ordinary Pew sitters teaching and opening up discussion on Scripture. (Sigh)
Back in the early days of the Neo Cal movement, you would see them mention quite often that you can’t have just anyone free to share their interpretation of Scripture.
I don’t see them discussing that much anymore and my guess is because they have pretty much taken over and they don’t need to. In the early days it was more about scaring people and shutting down the free flow of ideas and discussion.
And so we are back to the problem that spiritual maturity in the Body will be limited to your 30 year old narcissistic Elder and what he has to teach you as scriptural truth. You see, the young elder is your Holy Spirit now.
What is even weirder is few pew sitters were even aware of the BFM until the last 15 years or so.
So I suppose the BFM covers ESS, too?
I used to visit some churches and wondered why there was no sunday school…That’s sad.
From early adulthood, I would read the Gospels and think “how in the world did they get ‘church (as we know it)’ out of this?” Now in my 60’s, “how in the world did they get ‘church (as we know it)’ out of this?”
I think I may have to get this book, even though my ‘to read’ pile is getting dangerously high on my nightstand. Seriously, it actually collapsed onto me the other night as I reached for a book! Luckily I escaped with only minor contusions after the rescue team dug me out of the rubble 🙂
SBC pew sitters blindly trust LifeWay SS curriculum. You can’t do that any longer folks! LifeWay is on board with the New Calvinist movement and some of their literature reflects that.
Southern Baptists have worn that line out as they try to defend their lifeless gatherings! There is indeed a perfect Church … it’s called the Bride of Christ. Most often, you find the Bride embedded with a multitude of church-goers (there’s a vast difference). There are faithful believers here and there who are filled with the Holy Spirit, in love with Jesus, and seeking God with all their heart. If you, too, are of of like-mind and kindred spirit, you can have fellowship one with another while the rest of the institution does church without God. Ever now and then, if you’re lucky, you will stumble across a church full of such folks, but that is becoming a rare and endangered species. In the meantime, it’s best just to be the Church to a hurting and dying world around you, rather than go to church.
The church hunting process is exhausting. I’m done with it, too. I know what real Church is supposed to look like and this thing that has set up camp across the American landscape is spiritually draining. I’ve had churchmen tell me that I am the problem, that I expect too much, to just settle down and become like them. I don’t want to be like them! They ain’t scaring the devil when they get up in the morning and he beats up on them and their families all week. They don’t expect much of their leaders either, waiting for the pastor to run off with a deacon’s wife or some other scandal to stain their church.
Once you’ve experienced the genuine, you can never rest and be at peace with the counterfeit. Jesus came to redeem and work through individuals, not institutions. The only institution that He has ever blessed is the Church – the real one, not the one built on the teachings and traditions of men. There has always been the Church within the church; if you can find it, you can worship with it – with a few believers here and there. If you can’t find it in your area, get alone with Jesus.
I was also impacted by Pagan Christianity, and there are lots of interesting reviews. This one really stuck with me. Interpreting history is complex, and it does sound as is Barna and Viola were selective in their reading of history.
I was also surprised when Barna bailed on organic church. And yes. This could be its own post.
Lydia & Roebuck,
When we were in our SGM church, we heard a most ungodly message, twisted, not at all what the Scriptures really said. I knew immediately the teacher (who I won’t name) was using the Scriptures wrong. How did I know? I had read the Bible over and over and over. I have come to believe many who sit in church seats do not have any idea what the Bible really says because they simply have no heart for God and will not read it; lazy with no real desire.
The place went nuts clapping and cheering at the end of the message. I couldn’t believe it! Some weeks later I went to one of the main pastors and told him our concerns. He told me, that we were the only ones who had a problem and that everyone who had come to him, had told him how great what was going on (related to the sermon).
We saw so easily and clearly, yet the masses, even the pastors, were deceived, I guess, because it played to the over all goal. I don’t know any other word to use. And like Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved right by her children.”
That was hard for me to get used to too. My church, though, is big on small groups, no not like all the authoritative churches we’ve discussed. Since we’re so big and have no SS, the small groups are a good way to connect and use the discussion materials the church recommends – recommends, not requires. My group has been on a hiatus because several of us have been busy for various reasons, and I miss it!
If you believe Carl Trueman, the WCF excludes ESS, so there’s that. I think that means that the 1689 LBCF must exclude ESS as well. What saith Founders, I wonder, though Dever and Mohler are big-time ESS hawkers. It has always been orthodox, dontchaknow!
I’ve heard that, too. “Nobody else has a problem with this (so you must be the real problem.)” Or the flip side, “Everyone has always believed this is true (so why are you so clueless and/or rebellious?)” This was not at an SGM church, since I have somehow managed to avoid falling into that trap. Probably because I fell into others.
A t-shirt many of us share…
There is, of course, a perfect church. It’s called The Church. (Peter tried the “don’t join a perfect church because you’ll defile it” dodge once: “Go away from me, Lord – I’m a sinful man!” It didn’t work.) I found it and joined it getting on for 30 years ago. It’s been a steep winding road (and I can tell you from long experience in the Scottish Highlands that steep winding mountain paths are easy to lose and can be hard to re-locate) like Jesus promised it would be. But it remains The Church.
When I asked about the Biblical basis for the strange teachings coming into our church, I had people respond, “what difference does it make what the Bible says?” That pretty much blew my mind.
That’s my thinking too. Where did all of these traditions and rules come from?
I have not seen Piper outright deny that we are made in God’s image. Here’s an article featured on The Gospel Coalition’s site today: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/parents-tell-your-kids-they-are-sinners. Here’s the phrase I hear often (or something like it): “As Christians, we believe in original sin. Our sinful nature has corrupted (though not eradicated) the image of God within us.”
One can go down the path of when “original sin” became a doctrine, but there is a bigger problem with this article. The father would be more honest to also tell his children about the five points of Calvinism, with special emphasis on it all being about God’s choice whether the child will be saved or not. He should tell the child that not only is he a sinner, but he can have no hope of escaping eternal torment unless God has already secretly chosen him for salvation. He should be sure to point out that only God knows who is chosen, and that if he is not chosen there is nothing he can do about it since the choice is not his to make. He should tell him that it’s possible that God has chosen him for eternal torment so that God would be more glorified. That would be the most honest thing for a Calvinist to tell his children.
Here’s another problem phrase: “As a youth pastor, one of my greatest concerns is the salvation of “church kids.” Many seem to have been “inoculated” against the gospel by two things: their righteousness and their familiarity with Scripture. When there is no personal need for confession and repentance—because I don’t see myself as a sinner—the gospel loses its goodness and becomes a message merely for others.” Does this man really believe in the five points? If he did he would not worry. For someone so concerned about God’s sovereignty and glory, does he not see that there is no way a person can be inoculated against the gospel unless it was God who did the articulation? Or is he suggesting that God is not sovereign in salvation? Is this a new move away from five-point Calvinism? Or is it a clear demonstration that these men don’t really believe what they teach?
Ken F wrote:
Typo – meant “inoculation” but hit the wrong word too quick on spell checker…
These many articles and the ones at PP and SSB have really touched a nerve in a good way as I have been able to write, rather poorly, concerning how I took the teaching I first learned when I became a “Christian”. They did teach that people were created in the image of God when it came to Abortion but in “reality” some of us were so scared from original sin is that we looked more like Satan to God than Children of God. Even as believers Christ covered our total vileness and we were so sinful and lost that nothing we could do would only just make God more wrathful towards us for His Glory unless it was covered by Jesus. I mean we may do a wonderful work in great faith but a moment even a nanosecond of “self” would enter into it and that world would be polluted by sin that it would be nothing but a stench in the nostrils of a Holy God.
It was a bit out of context the Jesus spewing one out of his mouth verse from Rev was quoted a lot and in my case the cloud without rain, dog returning to its vomit was also quoted to me many times in reference to me. I think they were trying to get me not to look at my works for my salvation, I never got that myself I do good, if that is even possible because it is just the right thing to do. They hated Catholic theology so much concerning works righteousness that they went way overboard about how evil we are. I got to the point thinking I was a Hitler in the making but I did not hate people and loathed violence or hurting others. I actually thought at the time I was just faking it because I just had to be that evil. It really messes up your head.
I have come to see, mainly because of the students I have worked with for so many decades is that God is an artist painting a beautiful tapestry which will all be culminated in the great reconciliation. He loves us and has carved us literally in the hollow of His hand. He is so large and so transcendent yet closer than a Brother. I am in awe daily with the little acts of grace I see. Where Divinity in the Person of the Holy Spirit is redeeming all things on a moment by moment basis. I cannot thank God enough for helping me see this even though it is still dimly as in a mirror. I hope you all have a wonderful day.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Amen! A lady in our very religious, but spiritually destitute, community can be seen occasionally wearing a t-shirt “I don’t go to church. I am the Church!” I think she’s got 21st century church (with a little “c”) figured out.
You’ve just described a great multitude in SBC pews. That’s why they are so easy pickins’ for New Calvinism. If you stood in an average SBC church pulpit and asked the pew to turn to 1 Thomas, chapter 1, most would scramble to locate it. And this is a bunch who call themselves a “People of the Word”?!
One of the things Mohler henchmen here did is stack state convention committees with wives and daughters of loyalists. Some women had labored for years in the trenches yet the 25 year old wife of a Mohler loyalist would be appointed instead because they needed a woman.
I don’t mention names because there are older junk yard dog type loyalists who sue if you mention names. Some bloggers are well aware and have deleted such things in the past —so it works!
Sorry Max, how did you get in there?
Buy a magnifying glass. the print is small in that book.
That will preach, brother Max!
We never used it. Now it seems to be required.
I’m everywhere Lydia! As a nursing home resident told me once “We are all here because we are not all there.”
Ken F wrote:
This is so true. I have had the same qualms regarding many Calvinists’ attitude toward such things. If God is sovereign in salvation and all, why would it matter which Sunday School curriculum is used? Why do they have to produce “The Gospel Project” to further Calvinism? I guess their answer would be that God uses means, but for a people that believe everything is pre-ordained, I have noticed a lot of worry and fretting about altar calls, children’s ministries, and missions.
I think a lot of the mindset behind complementarianism and Neo-Calvinism is rooted in fear.
I had a call from a friend this morning who finally came to this conclusion after a year of dealing with a church takeover by the Neo Cals. Her husband and her are done with it along with their 2 teens.
Like me, she and her husband both experienced the simple but not perfect SBC church up to the time they left for college. They don’t recognize what it has become. She works at a downtown College campus and says she is surrounded by a mission field of down and out struggling students who need support and encouragement and she will work that instead. She was the one who called me 6 months ago to enlist my help in setting a struggling single mom student in an apt. No interest from the church or even the local mega church benevolence charity which requires an 8 page application explaining why you are so destitute.
But her friends pulled out all stops. There is work to do out there!
God bless her and the work of her hands. I love having people like her in my life. They make things happen. She looks like Jesus to me.
I like Ben but like many who make their living off of Christianity he does get a few things wrong I believe.
First of all, the Greek word used for appointing elders could be interpreted as “hand stretching” which would denote a vote or consensus. There is also the fact that not every church was encouraged to have elders. The Corinthianchuch had been around for quite a while and no mention of any leadership structure. Lydia would have been the founder of the church of Philippi. (Hee hee,)
“And this brings me to another of their claims— that there is no evidence of church buildings before A.D. 190 when they are mentioned by Clement of Alexandria. Wrong and wrong. Here again archaeology helps. If one goes to Capernaum one can see, through the glass floor of the modern church there, the ‘house of Peter’, which was expanded into a Christian meeting place. It was no longer just a home, it was enhanced so it could be a better place of worship—house becomes church building, so to speak. How do we know this? Because of the Christian graffiti in the walls left by Christians, some of which goes back at least to the early second century, and probably back to sometime after 70 A.D. when both Jews and Christians relocated, and one of the places they went was Capernaum.”
I did a bit of digging on this year’s back. The irony is that the meeting place held, most likely, less than 80 people. A McMansion today would hold more. So is his point a designated meeting place? And how would persecution rule out that need?
Most are told they are the only ones who have a problem. Might be true or might be gaslighting. How does one know? I am so proud of people who trust their gut on these things and get out.
Ken F wrote:
One thing a Calvinist dad should *never* tell their kids is that God loves them. Or sing “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.” Because Calvin’s god does not love that little child unless that little child is one of the elect. I know a young couple who suffered a miscarriage and were trying to be stoic about whether the child was with Jesus or not because they did not know if that child was among the elect. So I just said, “Jesus loves your child, and I believe your little one is with him now. They were Calvinists.
This could be big for the SBC if the Trads ever take it on. The BFM has been used to to demand and guilt over unity.
As many know, I tend to be hard on Trueman. He keeps ignoring his true leadership opportunity. He has nothing to teach me until he comes clean on his role in exonerating Mahaney.
People have also been convinced they need some expert to interpret it for them.
Looks like a few other SBC members are getting concerned about things, too. From an article today in Baptist News Global:
“The Southern Baptist Convention lost more than 200,000 members last year and baptized fewer than 300,000 new converts for the first time in 68 years, according to statistics compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources. The loss of 204,409 members in 2015 followed on the heels of the loss of 236,467 the year before, the largest one-year drop in membership since the denomination started keeping records in 1881.”
I suppose the New Calvinists will place the blame elsewhere, but it might just be that some in the pew have finally realized the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be. The apathetic pew still ain’t got a clue, but SBC is losing some mature and discerning Christians as Calvinization of a once-great denomination continues unabated.
Why do Calvinists discipline their kids? As we all know, they rarely live like they teach
This is true of the ones I have seen. They are rarely in their office, they do not take part in any of the community groups on their own time to help those in need, they hang out in coffee shops or go home mid afternoon and post on facebook.
I think the NPDs that are successful in the worldly sense are hard working, but these are lazy NPDs and I don’t expect even worldly success for them. I’m truly mystified why people keep giving to a church with such indolent staff.
You’ve talked to the same people as I have. When I look at the model of the priesthood of the believers, distributed authority, leadership by example, the “biblical” response I have received more than once is “someone has to be in charge”. What part of “it shall not be this way among you” did they miss?
I wonder what the true number loss is? I do not trust the SBC numbers.
This is where I found the results of the Asch experiments back in the 50’s so helpful to my understanding. Basically 75% of people can go along with the consensus even when it is objectively wrong. Note, Objectively, not subjective things in the realm of much of theology, but objectively, things such as the claim of a balanced budget when it is 30% in the red.
Also note those who adopt the pastor driven groupthink do not struggle internally with, “I think this is wrong but I’ll go along because I don’t want to offend”, NO, they actually see it wrong. Only 25 percent can be relied on to make up their own mind, and how many of them will speak up? My experience and further marketing research is that at most one in five will speak up but it can be as few as only one in twenty of an already precarious 25% minority. Add in a repressive environment and you will likely get down to the one in twenty.
Thus pastor “full of himself”, once he has established trust, can spew out nonsense to twenty people and and at best one person will say it is bunk but it could be one in a hundred, and that is not hyperbole.
What a lovely post about your friend. Please give her my greetings and tell her I’m trying to do the same thing where I live, without the institutional church.
Let me add there is also the characteristic I saw exemplified by dogbert’s tech support in the Dilbert cartoon series. Upon calling up dogbert’s tech support you always get the standard lie “you are the only one who has the problem”.
Agreed. As a 60+ year Southern Baptist, I haven’t trusted the numbers for years. For a long time, they have been claiming 16 million members. Here’s how I think that really breaks down. First, you need to take a red pencil to church membership rolls across the denomination. I figure 8 million of those would go in the first cut; they are dead, moved out of the community, joined the “done” ranks, found another denomination, etc. Of the 8 million remaining, perhaps only 50% go to church on a given Sunday. Of that 4 million, only about 25% or so are really dedicated to their Christian faith (from my direct observations over 60 years). That leaves about 1 million solid folks still in SBC trenches, but with an attrition rate in that group of 250,000 per year, the denomination is in trouble.
Organiz church or what ever you call it is definitely a thread all by itself. I’m not sure I’ve read it, I don’t keep a list of books I’ve read and been guilty of re-buying the book and getting a ways in before realizing the error. That said I’ve read a few books by Viola since my epiphany although a recent one left me wonder huh? You might consult Viola’s own post some years ago on the subject, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/stoplookingforanorganicchurch/
I did read Wayne Jacobson book of the similar vein, “Finding Church” that I would recommend. My problem is I have not seen such an idea modeled in the real world so I am still wandering/wondering.
Bill M wrote:
New Calvinism looks nothing like the early church.
I think it is all about spin with the SBC. Heaven forbid the SBC leaders tell the pewsitters the truth.
@ Bill M:
People in my former Church actually complain about their lack of organizational and work habits. But do nothing about it. I am at a loss why they are able to continue. Evidently, acting like you are real spiritual covers over a lot of it.
But as my late mother used to say, if you don’t put feet to your prayers what is the point?
In a nutshell, I believe that most of the Neo Cal movement (and other top down church orgs) is based on following a guru. That is it. Just shut up, give your money, obey and sit and listen to them. That is their expectation for church.
@ Bill M:
Well that one was a biggie for me from Jesus Christ when I was reading the Gospels —only. And the fact He openly and directly dissed the religious leaders a lot but said little about the Roman occupiers. (Btw, I think that is one reason why Judas had such a big problem with Him)
That must have confused a lot of people. Here are these dastardly Romans occupying Our Land but Jesus reserved His big ire for the religious leaders of His own Tribe!
We could learn from that. :o)
Bill M wrote:
Is it because the truth is following Jesus Christ and being the Body is simple….but NOT easy?
Spent the last 20 minutes or so reading through all of your comments. I’m the woman who brings Oreos to the Christmas cookie exchange and chips to the potlucks, so I feel like I really fit in.
Tangent regarding Lifeway – I’m not Baptist but I lead a small group and we’ve used several of their studies. (It’s been hard for me to find good, in-depth, reasonably priced materials elsewhere. We don’t have much in the way of bookstores around here and I’m not wild about purchasing stuff online since I can’t check it out first. Open to suggestions). Beth Moore, Angie Smith, Jennifer Rothschild and Priscilla Shirer have all been fine. No Calvinist thumping or “get back in the kitchen” crap. We used a comentary by Warren Weirsbe to go through Acts; I knew he is Calvinist so approached that from the angle of “let’s talk about why we disagree” and we had some great discussions. Plus he’s just a good writer; I always sense pastoral care in his words even when I disagree.
The one we all HATED was David Platt’s “Counter Culture.” I admit that I didn’t check over it as thoroughly as I should have (hence the nervousness referenced above). I expected complementarianism. I expected Calvinism. I was prepared to discuss these things. I was hoping for good discussions on the Gospel and social justice. Instead we got slapped with full-on patriarchy and ESS. It was awful. Every single person in the group, men and women alike, never want to see David Platt again.
So, yeah. Can’t expect them all to be good.
One does not need to tell me that the neoCals don’t give a flip about creeds and confessions that are the basis for traditional Calvinism. But it was interesting to see him caught contradicting the traditional Reformed Baptists’ London Confession.
I actually think it goes deeper than Catholicish works-based righteousness and into asceticism and nirvana. When he talks about God being most glorified, and our everlasting joy in Him, he begins to promise spiritual elitism on Earth. Which you gain by: letting your husband beat you up, refusing to defend yourself with a weapon in hopes that you’ll get robbed, never retiring, etc. It’s a remarkably divisive ideology that turns decent Christians into little inquisitors on the lookout for people who don’t truly desire GOO-WOD.
@ Ken F:
Hang on, I found it. I can’t say it better than this:
Just a note that long-time poster here Jeannette Altes was able to pay her June rent thanks to the donations of people here. She lost her job, is being treated for a tumor, and is looking for work.
Jeannette did need help with food and gas money for the rest of June.
“Latest update: Thank you all so much. Because of your help, my June rent and bills are covered. I have food for the next week. So, all I need now for June is gas and food for 2nd half of month. I’m still waiting to hear on jobs I’ve applied for. Helped a friend on Friday and he paid me $60 – which paid for groceries. 🙂 There are no words to adequately express my gratitude for all your help. It is overwhelming and teaching me that love really is more than a word. Thank you so much….” June 6, 2016
That is the quick answer, longer answers are worthy of a comment thread all by itself. For now I’d toss in that too many are busy doing institutional church to be the Church.
Not a megachurch, to be sure. I figured that Ben might have biases of his own.
A friend who has done missions work told us something interesting. When a group builds a building anywhere in the world, all outreach from that group of people will stop within four years. Too busy doing church to be the church,eh Bill?
Muff Potter wrote:
Your fathers were much finer men (real men) than this guy’s father!
James 1:27 another not so subtle message: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows.
So women and children and their testimony are marginalized in the industrial religious complex? Possibly the wheel has left the Temple
Ezekiel 10:18 Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim.
God asks Ezekiel, “Have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness” (Ezekiel 8:12).
Great link from writer Ann Voskamp. Here’s another quote from the same:
“Men drunk on power, on control, on ego, lose more than all inhibition — they lose The Way, their own souls. Men drunk on anything can destroy everything and real manhood thirsts for righteousness.”
I saw where you brought this up on Internet Monk. I tried, and failed, to follow Robert’s reasoning on why the Bible can’t be interpreted throught Christ. In my view, to properly understand Paul, we still must compare his teachings to Christ’s teachings. Anyway, interesting comments.
Fair Game Law LRH.
Make an Example of one and you silence a hundred.
Well said. Thank you.
Spend just that minimal hour or two every week interacting with someone directly instead of seat time, give the money to needs besides a building and pastor salary. Do that yourself and multiply it by the weeks and years and measure differential results.
You would have made a great foundress in those days. I do have a problem with the idea of ‘Church’ as buildings per se. The concept of the early Christians was like that of ‘a people’ that could recognize one another, even under the persecution of the Romans in the dark times. They would draw in the sand an arch figure and if the other person was a Christian, they knew to complete the drawing so as to make the sign of the fish, a Christian symbol from the beginning of the Church, and this could be done silently without risk. And when Christians died, they were buried secretly in catacombs, where the community would gather for prayer in secret. The elements for communion were laid out on the tombs of dead Christians, and in time, the Church came to build it’s places of worship over the spots where the martyrs had shed their blood. This must have happened early because St. John refers to the practice of the bodies of the martyrs under the altars in the Book of Revelation. I think Barna and Viola had to be VERY selective in their research, to be honest. The early Christians were networked (connected) through the work of the Apostles and those who learned directly from the Apostles, and of course through the work of St. Paul, whom Our Lord chose Himself. So the ‘early Church’ was so much more than a ‘building’, it was a way of life, a way of praying, a way of witnessing, and a source of hope for resurrection, which added thousands to its numbers.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
A pyramid scheme has to have a lure. I can’t figure out the lure for Furtick’s church, you couldn’t pay me to go there. But then, I don’t know what people see in a lot of stuff…
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
When I once used the metaphor that putting someone up against the wall and firing was not to silence the one person but to silence all those watching, the authoritarian pastor who was present was unable to dismiss the likeness, instead chastised me for “violent imagery”.
Those who engage in treachery demand that we be “nice”.
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.”
I think people make many of these errors because they do not really expect the Holy Spirit to work in the believer’s life. They try to use dysfunctional human strategies to manipulate people into living the Christian life.
This is absolutely beautiful. I hope you have a wonderful day, too, and thank you for making mine a little better by sharing this thought.
It’s kind of a ‘the worst of all worlds’ situation.
Bill M wrote:
Bill M wrote:
What does nice have to do with it?
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name.”
I kind of think we are doing that here.
@ Bill M:
“now I’d toss in that too many are busy doing institutional church to be the Church.”
very true. in the last 18 years, so much of my energy and time was earmarked for church activities, all of which were very tiring, taxing, and time consuming (accidental alliteration here). Musician, small group leader, helping with kids’ church, many other capacities. I felt like I was being very productive and it gave me a good feeling. but then I began to feel like I was being used…
*as fodder to justify job descriptions for pastors (to keep them busy doing things)
*as fodder to help generate more tithe (apparently, those in small groups tend to give up to 6 times more than those who only come on Sundays) http://thomrainer.com/2016/01/seven-traits-of-churches-with-increasing-per-member-giving/
*as an object lesson for marriage or gender roles (married couples seemed to be selected to do things together up front on Sundays — they didn’t want me on my own, they wanted me with my husband playing music. I ceased to be a person, an individual — I only mattered in relation to my husband.
These things took all my energy, all my time. I had nothing left for anyone or anything.
and it struck me — what’s the point of giving all my everything to an organization 30 minutes away so it can continue to perpetuate itself, and have nothing left to give my community where I live? my neighborhood? fellow school parents (where my kids go to school)? people at the grocery down the street?
what’s the point of keeping church and my gifts, talents, and energy bottled up inside the church, for itself?
the silliness of it all hit me hard. and the feeling of being used. being a pawn.
From Ann Voskamp: Boys will be boys and girls will be garbage…
From Churchlife: Pastors will be pastors and parishioners will be garbage – used.
From the Word: Love one another.
if the absolute need for money wasn’t in the picture…. totally messes everything up. compromises everything.
I used to believe I had to give all of my gifts to the church. I do not believe or practice this any more.
Spot on. Perhaps, the absolute need for money and attention?
I don’t really buy into the whole concept of orthodoxy. Orthodox is what a small group decides and everyone else is to accept. Then others appeal to it as truth from history. For example, you and I agree that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh as orthodoxy. Catholics accept transubstantiation as orthodoxy. I don’t.
Freedom of conscious is important and that was missing for much of church history where “orthodoxy” was decided by small groups for others to accept.
I don’t think the appeal to historical creeds as orthodoxy is wise. I tend to think each generation must seek the historical Jesus. I sure wish the Lutherans had done that in the 1930’s!
And this was your cue to get in line or leave. So because everyone else believed it, that made it true?
Thanks for your reply, Lydia. I do know that not all German people who were Catholic or Lutheran followed along with the Third Reich, and I give you the Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a Lutheran) as example. I wish more Christians in Germany had had the courage to oppose Hitler, but I wonder what we would do here, if a dictator arose today in our country, may it never happen . . . . likely many of us would work as a Christian underground to preserve what we could of human dignity in the hell that would surely come.
Slow going at Lords, thanks – at last – to some good, tight bowling by Sri Lanka (at one point, Matthews’ figures were a remarkable 5-5-0-0). England had a mini-collapse around lunchtime, going from 56-0 to 84-4 in the space of a few overs. Cook (currently 82) and Bairstow (currently 43) have steadied the ship somewhat, though. Bit of luck played its part, mind; Bairstow was dropped big time on 11. In the words of professional Yorkshireman Geoffrey Boycott:
For those unclear how seriously some of the English take their cricket, check out the following wedding fotie on Twitter:
STOP PRESS: Cook’s just gone for 85. Disaster for England.
“Freedom of conscious is important and that was missing for much of church history where “orthodoxy” was decided by small groups for others to accept.
I don’t think the appeal to historical creeds as orthodoxy is wise. I tend to think each generation must seek the historical Jesus. I sure wish the Lutherans had done that in the 1930’s!”
this resonates with me. if one were to argue this perspective and the response is “but where’s the plumbline? where’s true north? how would we know that the historical jesus who ‘influential person X’ is seeking isn’t really Buddha or some novel Frankendeity in disguise?”…
well, how would you respond?
We do get a statement once a year about how much we’ve given when. This is for tax purposes. When you’re talking about your giving being “knowingly tracked”, is this an example of what you’re referring to?
Likely, that is what would happen . . . but I confess, I’m rather cynical. I honestly think that if the church were forced to meet in secret, we’d spend so much time arguing over the “correct” way to do things that we wouldn’t get anything done!
I separate the notion of the historical Jesus from the decision to practice a basic faith and repentance.
Hopefully, seeking the historical Jesus would have prevented an awful lot of evil in history. Maybe. Maybe not. But what if that had been a serious focus and the average German Lutheran was well aware Jesus was not an Aryan or had turned pro Aryan? Would they have gone along?
Jesus was not institutional so there would need to be limits to such. The historical Jesus showed up at a time when Jerusalem was a boiling cauldron of zealotry, Caesars declaring themselves Divine & as son of gods and Jewish religious leaders playing both sides and oppressing the people. The Jews were even paying the temple tax to the Romans to maintain their Temple!
And what is Jesus’s focus in the middle of all of this? Beware the religious leaders! Not the Romans. If the Roman ask you to carry his coat a mile, carry it two miles!
Jesus did not institute a government along with the Body of Christ. Jesus was pro woman, even traveling with married women who supported him and the other men financially.
This Jewish rabbi was daring to treat gentiles well. He even went into unclean homes to dine.
There is so much to the whole concept of the historical Jesus — that I hardly know where to start.
It is an aspect if God in the Flesh that most churches and most denominations totally ignore.
I am kind of weird but I often wonder if we would have invented things like antibiotics sooner if we had focused on the historical Jesus. the historical church thought that plagues were sent by God as punishment. Would we have allowed women to alleviate their suffering and childbirth sooner? Would more Christians have figured out that the resurrection is about New Life right here and right now. About making our tiny little corners of the world a better place for everyone. Like millions of Mother Teresa’s in their little villages. I wonder….
I recently heard a Matthew West song with the lyrics: I shook my fist at God and demanded, “Do something!”
He responded: “I did do something. I made you.”
I am aware that not all were on board. I have read Bonhoeffer, thanks.
The bigger problem of the timed were the concepts of “princes of the church” who represented an institution and therefore a people. Not good. That is part of the problem of not understanding the historical Jesus. Too many identify with a institution thinking it is the same as identifying with Christ. It is not.
If the quasi official state church at the time recognized the historical Jesus, would they have gone along early on with the encroaching Aryan laws. It started pretty mild. The propagandists actually used Luther’s writings to bring them on board. Another Prince of the church.
The whole point I am making is we need to understand this so we wont allow it to get to that point. I am not one who believes that persecution is necessary for salvation. Or that handing over our freedoms to government’s is wise.
In many churches, clergy are deliberately insulated from specific knowledge about who gives how much. The Sunday collection is counted by members who can be trusted not to pocket a percentage, and bookkeeping is done by a volunteer or professional bookkeeper.
My husband (an IRS employee) is one of two people that helps count the contribution on Sundays. When they count the contribution, the door to the church office area is locked. One of the staff members is in charge of sending out the tax statements. (My son contributes a dollar a week in an envelope where he writes his name. When we got our tax statement, there was a long list of 1.00 contributions. I thought it was nice that they made sure that his contributions counted as well. BTW, the person that is our church bookkeeper was also my son’s Sunday School teacher at one point.)
Freedom of conscience is very important to me, especially as a theological rogue and free-thinker.
As I’ve written here and elsewhere, that when I sign on to The Apostle’s Creed, I do so not out of said appeal to ‘established orthodoxy’, but rather because I choose to based on my own gut-resonance.
It affords me a wide latitude of intellectual freedom to agree or disagree with the various other flavors of the Christian enchilada.
Funny you’d mention searching out the historical Jesus. The ELCA (liberal wing of Lutheranism) has been doing just that for at least two decades now.
West should have continued after the “I made you” thing with something along the lines of: …now what are you gonna make?
@ Muff Potter:
And to be clear, even though I don’t think it is wise to appeal to man-made Creed’s as an Authority does not mean I don’t agree with some of them. I just don’t think it is wise to appeal to them as an authority on what we call Orthodoxy.
That is for each person to work out on their own. I am simply presenting another view on Creeds and the concept of orthodoxy. I hope folks understand that!
Understood and agreed Lyds.
No, I realize most churches give a tax statement at the end of the year. What I mean by “knowingly tracked” is someone or someones else looking at my giving and commenting to me about my giving or lack of giving. This would be unacceptable to me.
A sorry day for sure, Christiane, and a harbinger for things to come. Since the BFM2000 revision, the architects of that change (the New Calvinists) have gained control of SBC. If the BFM2000 revision committee had polled the millions of Southern Baptist members, they would have voted down that recommended change by an overwhelming margin! Even the most spiritually immature in SBC ranks would have had a problem cutting Jesus out of the center of things! Unfortunately, the SBC is no longer a congregational Body of Christ that it once was and should be, in which each member has a say in such things. It is now an oligarchy, a solidly controlled power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people – the New Calvinists.
The SBC will hold its annual convention next week in St. Louis. “Messengers” from around the country will make their way from SBC churches, thinking their vote on certain issues will mean something. They are deceived, because the decisions and direction of a once-great denomination have already been set by the oligarchy.
In keeping with the original topic of this thread, yes, there are indeed thugz in the pulpit.
Muff Potter wrote:
No doubt about it! As Paul warned “Beware of Alexander the copper smith. He has done us much harm.” The spirit of Alexander still lives; he’s made his way to certain 21st century pulpits.
Yes. The cycles repeat themselves like a sine function.
Yes, that would be unacceptable to me as well. I was in a controlling church during college, but oddly enough, us college students weren’t really pressured to give, give, give. But after I left college, the group of churches I was part of DID start “tracking giving” as you describe.
sounds like thugs run this joint of a website……
Hint: Only Jesus knows the heart. the writers of this blog/website are thugs.
If you want to continue to comment here you need to clean it up. Name calling is not allowed. See:
And in more detail from Wikipedia:
You can do better. And if not then you need to go away.
Has anyone heard of Calvinist taking over a neighborhood.We live in a condo and had some retired Calvinist on the board and volunteering for most of the work.Slowly alot of their retired friends move in and alot of the good guy saw the handwriting on the wall and moved out .We can not get anything done as it is a them or us mentality.We put our house up for sale and moved out as we can not stand their nosy behavior and refusal to fix a ten year standing water issue in our back yard .Found out today one of the pasters of a church we visited for three years brought a home their.This is the same pasters who announced from the pulpit that God elected some people for salvation and not others and that was just the way it was it he would not discuss it with anyone.At the time I was physically ill and needed help.When we finally left that awful place my husband told him he was very disappointed with the church.Paster said since we did not become a member we could not expect help.My husband reminded him he had no problem taking our back tith.As it stands my house has not sold and we stand to loose major money on it.It will probably be sold to a tight fisted Calvinist .After experiencing SGM way of during church I am so glad he saved me from another church that had a thug in the pulpit.(church is now a member of James McDonald’s ministries since we left) Please Pray that my house sells for a fair price,life is just not fair sometimes.
It’s like you are writing about my church!
Welcome to Truly Reformed Geneva, Servetus.
Excellent. A thug after my own heart.
To the author of the article: I love your blog and have found it really helpful. However, I would like to caution you not to put anyone on a pedestal. I know you have been away from Bent Tree for a number of years, but Pete has had his own problems with arrogance and a “has to be my way mentality”. Fortunately, the board was not made up of a bunch of yes men and Pete repented. However, he almost lost his church in the process and hurt some really great people. No leader is immune to arrogance which is why I have a problem with mega churches and satellite churches. It too often seems that when churches get to a certain size, the pastor starts to believe his own press and a spirit of arrogance sets in.
Thank you for your comment. First of all, I do not put any pastor or leaders on a pedestal. They sin as much as we do. I wrote a post called Your Pastor Is a Sinner.
I didn’t say “some pastors are sinners.” That means that Pete is a sinner as well. I have written about 3-4 occasions when Pete responded well to a situation. One of them, interestingly, was a situation in which he handled a situation poorly, at first. It took him a couple of weeks to understand and he repented and made things right.
I am so glad you like our blog. One thing you might notice if you have read it through the years is that a couple of qualities qualities are missing in an abusive church leader. One is an unwillingness to repent. The other one is making sure that an elder board is made up of *yes* men. It appears from what you say that Pete was willing to repent and that he had the good sense to have an elder board which challenged him. Do you know how rare that is?
After I left BTBF I joined a church that had an arrogant pastor who had a board made up of “yes” men. This pastor, IMO, mishandled a terrible pedophile situation. That pedophile is now in jail. Not only did my husband and I get beat up by standing up for the truth, many others did as well. Years late that pastor has never repented or apologized. His elder board continued to be made up of yes men.
Let me tell you of another church that I was a member of prior to moving to Dallas. I loved the pastor and still do. However, that pastor had an affair. Not only did he confess to it, he confessed to the whole church and allowed everyone to tell him exactly how badly they had been hurt by his actions.
He stepped down and went under church discipline. He has never returned to the pulpit even though some of us have tried to get him to do so. He feels he has disqualified himself and will never be a preacher again.
However, he is an excellent teacher. I attend a Sunday school class that he teaches and we link to his blog Apt to Teach. This pastor, who is a sinner and admits it all the time in his teaching, also had an elder board made up of non-yes men. He was challenged out the wazoo and it wasn’t always pretty.
Back to Pete. It is very hard out here for women. The latest teachings that are being ballyhooed out there keep women from ever holding leadership positions in the church. I am grateful that Pete and the elders have led BTBF to change all that.
I hope that you understand what I am saying. I am not downplaying your concerns. One thing that I hope you take away is this. I no longer put ANYONE on a pedestal that is not a member of the Trinity. It sure keeps me sane as I write about this stuff.
I want to apologize if I offended you. I never comment on blogs and while I have read some of your posts, I don’t follow anyone’s routinely so no I hadn’t read the one you linked.
I think your comment about never seeing signs of abuse in Pete triggered a visceral response from me because of some deep hurt we walked through with friends at Bent Tree. Sometime around 2003, Pete and the Bent Tree board fired a staff member for going around a rule that seemed rather high handed and authoritative to me. That we would even know anything about this situation is unusual because my husband and I are fade into the background kind of people. The only reason that we knew anything about the situation is that our children were friends with the children of the staff member. My husband and I felt that Pete was being way too controlling and were disgusted that the board went along with him. To make matters worse, when Pete announced the firing of the staff member in church he said it was due to a moral failure leaving the impression with many that the guy had an affair. This was so hurtful to the wife and children! Ironically, we became friends with another staff member and his wife after we left the church and have gotten their perspective, but still feel that Pete and the board were wrong.
Personally, I think that the celebrity pastor thing that has happened with large churches is really destructive. I think it’s hard for most people to handle that kind of power and adulation. I know a lot of larger churches give pastors sabbaticals, but I think a better idea would be to have them step down from their role as senior pastor for a year and work as an assistant to the children’s pastor even if the children’s pastor is a woman. I think it would be a great way to keep people humble and broaden their perspectives.
I also found it interesting that one of the Bent Tree board members involved in the above mentioned incident is now listed as an elder at TVC.
Again, I do apologize if I offended you. I respect and share your concern about woman being unfairly treated in the church, and your blog has been a great resource regarding the 9marks churches and the problems associated with them. Unbeknownst to us, my family started attending one about a year and a half ago and I was startled when I accidently stumbled across the church’s association with the 9marks movement. Fortunately, we are not the type of people to quickly join a church, and thanks to your posts our eyes are WIDE open.