Nine Marks of an Abusive Church

"…experience with authoritarian leadership is, unfortunately, not unusual for people who have been a part of spiritually abusive groups. Control-oriented leadership is at the core of all such churches. These spiritual power holders become strong role models, and their dogmatic teaching, bold confidence, and arrogant assertiveness become powerful forces of influence. They use their spiritual authority to intimidate the weak and those who consider leaving their flock."

Churches That Abuse (page 42)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churches_That_Abuseamazon.com

This post was first published here at TWW on December 17, 2010.  Since the inception of The Wartburg Watch in March 2009, Dee and I have been passionate about calling attention to various forms of abuse in the church.  Tragically, we continue to hear testimony after testimony of abuse, and we will be sharing more of those stories soon. 

Because our readership has grown A LOT since that post was initially published, we thought it might be beneficial to call attention to this important information once again, particularly for the benefit of our newer readers.  Welcome! 

We are extremely grateful to Dr. Ronald Enroth for making his book available in its entirety online (see the links at the end of the post).  If you have a chance to read portions of this important book, we would appreciate your sharing your insights in a comment.  One of the strengths of this forum is that we learn from each other. 🙂

I am currently working on a series of posts for next week that I hope will be engaging, so please keep me in your prayers.  There is much research to be done!


Nine Marks of an Abusive Church

How can you spot an abusive church? Do you know the “red flags”? Dr. Ronald Enroth, is a leading scholar on cults and cultism, and his special perspectives have proven beneficial to both the secular and the religious society. Dr. Enroth is a professor of Sociology at Westmont College (Santa Barbara, California) where he has taught since 1965, beginning as a sociology instructor. In 1992 Enroth wrote Churches That Abuse, and it continues to be an important resource nearly two decades later.

Margaret Thaler Singer, a clinical psychologist and emeritus professor of the University of California, Berkeley, provided her hearty recommendation on the book’s jacket. Here is an excerpt:

“When does a church cross the line between conventional church status and fringe status? What is the nature of the process by which any given group devolves into a fringe church or movement? What are some of the signs or indicators that a given group is becoming abusive of its members and is headed for the margins? When should a member consider bailing out?

Churches That Abuse answers these and other important questions about abusive churches and groups that operate in this country – organizations and churches that are not necessarily characterized by doctrinal deviation but have particular traits that make them behavioral and sociological outsiders. It also helps readers identify and beware of abusive tendencies in more “normal” Christian churches.”

In his classic book Dr. Enroth identifies distinctive traits of abusive churches which should serve as “red flags”. Pat Zukeran, a research associate with Probe Ministries, has written an excellent review of Churches That Abuse, and we will be sharing excerpts from his article “Abusive Churches”, along with quotes from the book, to explain some of these identifying traits or “MARKS”.

(1) Control-oriented style of leadership

Pat Zukeran explains: “The leader in an abusive church is dogmatic, self-confident, arrogant, and the spiritual focal point in the lives of his followers. The leader assumes he is more spiritually in tune with God than anyone else…. To members of this type of church or group, questioning the leader is the equivalent of questioning God. Although the leader may not come out and state this fact, this attitude is clearly seen by the treatment of those who dare to question or challenge the leader…. In the hierarchy of such a church, the leader is, or tends to be, accountable to no one. Even if there is an elder board, it is usually made up of men who are loyal to, and will never disagree with, the leader. This style of leadership is not one endorsed in the Bible (emphasis mine).”

“Control-oriented leadership is at the core of all such churches. These spiritual power holders become strong role models, and their dogmatic teaching, bold confidence, and arrogant assertiveness become powerful forces of influence. They use their spiritual authority to intimidate the weak,” explains Ronald Enroth in Churches That Abuse (p. 80).

(2) Spiritual elitism
 
Abusive churches see themselves as special. In his book, Enroth explains that abusive churches have an “elitist orientation that is so pervasive in authoritarian-church movements. It alone has the Truth, and to question its teachings and practices is to invite rebuke.”
 
(3) Manipulation of members
 
“Spiritually abusive groups routinely use guilt, fear, and intimidation as effective means for controlling their members. In my opinion, the leaders consciously foster an unhealthy form of dependency, spiritually and interpersonally, by focusing on themes of submission, loyalty, and obedience to those in authority,” explains Dr. Enroth on page 103 of Churches That Abuse.
 
According to the Probe Ministries article: “Abusive churches are characterized by the manipulation of their members. Manipulation is the use of external forces to get others to do what someone else wants them to do. Here manipulation is used to get people to submit to the leadership of the church. The tactics of manipulation include the use of guilt, peer pressure, intimidation, and threats of divine judgment from God for disobedience. Often harsh discipline is carried out publicly to promote ridicule and humiliation.
 
Another tactic is the “shepherding” philosophy. As practiced in many abusive churches this philosophy requires every member to be personally accountable to another more experienced person. To this person, one must reveal all personal thoughts, feelings, and discuss future decisions. This personal information is not used to help the member but to control the member.”
 
(4) Perceived persecution
 
To explain this identifying mark, Zukeran writes: “Because abusive churches see themselves as elite, they expect persecution in the world and even feed on it. Criticism and exposure by the media are seen as proof that they are the true church being persecuted by Satan. However, the persecution received by abusive churches is different from the persecution received by Jesus and the Apostles.
Jesus and the Apostles were persecuted for preaching the truth. Abusive churches bring on much of their negative press because of their own actions. Yet, any criticism received, no matter what the source–whether Christian or secular–is always viewed as an attack from Satan, even if the criticisms are based on the Bible.”
 
(5) Lifestyle rigidity
 
Zukeran explains this mark as “a rigid, legalistic lifestyle of their members. This rigidity is a natural result of the leadership style. Abusive churches require unwavering devotion to the church from their followers. Allegiance to the church has priority over allegiance to God, family, or anything else. There are also guidelines for dress, dating, finances, and so on. Such details are held to be of major importance in these churches.
 

In churches like these, people begin to lose their personal identity and start acting like programmed robots. Many times, the pressure and demands of the church will cause a member to have a nervous breakdown or fall into severe depression."

On page 135 of Churches That Abuse, Enroth writes: “Life-style rigidity in abusive churches often manifests itself in a curiously reactive mode with regard to sexuality. Proscriptive measures reveal a sometimes bizarre preoccupation with sex that mental-health professionals would no doubt conclude gives evidence of repression.”
 
(6) Suppression of dissent
 

Abusive churches discourage questions and will not allow any input from members. The “anointed” leaders are in charge, PERIOD!

Enroth explains in his book that: “Unwavering obedience to religious leadership and unquestioning loyalty to the group would be less easily achieved if analysis and feedback were available to members from the outside. It is not without reason that leaders of abusive groups react so strongly and so defensively to any media criticism of their organizations.” (p. 162)

(7) Harsh discipline of members

Virtually all authoritarian groups that I have studied impose discipline, in one form or another, on members. A common theme that I encountered during interviews with ex-members of these groups was that the discipline was often carried out in public — and involved ridicule and humiliation,” writes Dr. Enroth (p. 152).

Enroth also states: “In my research of abusive churches, I never cease to be amazed at the degree to which private and personal concerns are made public and brought to the attention of the congregation.”  (p. 137)

“The ultimate form of discipline in authoritarian churches is excommunication or disfellowshipping, followed by strict avoidance procedures, or shunning,” writes Enroth (p. 157).

(8) Denunciation of other churches

According to Zukeran’s article on Enroth’s book, “abusive churches usually denounce all other Christian churches. They see themselves as spiritually elite. They feel that they alone have the truth and all other churches are corrupt…. There is a sense of pride in abusive churches because members feel they have a special relationship with God and His movement in the world. In his book Churches That Abuse, Dr. Ron Enroth quotes a former member of one such group who states, “Although we didn’t come right out and say it, in our innermost hearts we really felt that there was no place in the world like our assembly. We thought the rest of Christianity was out to lunch….A church which believes itself to be elite and does not associate with other Christian churches is not motivated by the spirit of God but by divisive pride.”

(9) Painful exit process
 
Finally, Zukeran explains that abusive churches have “a painful and difficult exit process. Members in many such churches are afraid to leave because of intimidation, pressure, and threats of divine judgment. Sometimes members who exit are harassed and pursued by church leaders. The majority of the time, former members are publicly ridiculed and humiliated before the church, and members are told not to associate in any way with any former members. This practice is called shunning.

Many who leave abusive churches because of the intimidation and brainwashing, actually feel they have left God Himself. None of their former associates will fellowship with them, and they feel isolated, abused, and fearful of the world.”

We want to conclude with these important words from Dr. Ronald Enroth in Churches That Abuse (pp. 174-175). He explains:

“…leaving an abusive church can be extremely difficult, calling into question every aspect of life members may have experienced for the period of time they were involved. I want to discuss the range of emotions and issues that ex-members may face when they exit an abusive-church situation. Then I will provide a general overview of the changing experiences, feelings, and needs that emerge over the course of weeks, months, and even years after departure.

Leaving a restricted and abusive community involves what sociologists call the desocialization process whereby the individual loses identification with the past group and moves toward resocialization, or reintegration into the mainstream culture. There are a number of emotions and needs that emerge during this transition process. How one deals with these feelings and affective experiences has a significant impact on the overall healing that is required.

Many have described the aftermath of abusive-church involvement as comparable to that of rape victims, or the delayed stress syndrome experienced by war veterans. It is recovery from what might be called spiritual rape. You feel like something has been lost and you will never be the same again.

Initially, victims may have a total lack of feeling regarding their experience. They may not evidence pain, anger, sadness, or even joy at being free. Such lack of feeling may be a protective mechanism from the strong surge of emotion that is sure to come. Victims need a safe and secure environment in which to vent their emotions. Such venting was often labeled as “sin” in their previous environments, and it may take some time until they give themselves permission to allow these feelings to surface.

Whether or not they show any emotion, victims are in great need of empathetic, objective individuals who will not treat them like spiritual pariahs or paranoid storytellers. The events they have just been through are as unbelievable to them as they are to their listeners. They have experienced great social and psychological dislocation. An open attitude on the part of friends, family, and counselors greatly assists the healing process.”

Dr. Enroth has made Churches That Abuse available in its entirety online.

You can also access Churches That Abuse at the Apologetics Index website.

Comments

Nine Marks of an Abusive Church — 430 Comments

  1. Thank you, Deb (and Dee), for the lifeline you’ve given so many of us through these excellent articles.

    I’ve nutshelled points I’ve learned here and on other blogs about my ex-church (NeoCalvinist/9Marxist/authoritarian/John MacArthur-ite) since I knew NOTHING about
    them, and I got burned in my former church, as did other dear saints that I loved.

    I’m happy to report that many church members know that there’s something wrong at my ex-church and they’ve contacted me, wanting to know how to get out.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/grace-bible-fellowship-of-silicon-valley-sunnyvale

  2. ^Note: My YELP review is the 1-star review about my ex-church (if they would permit us to give black holes…I’d give it). H.U.G. said it was the only review that wasn’t written in fluent Christianese.

  3. Deb wrote:

    @ Velour:
    I had you in mind as I wrote the introductory remarks. You are an inspiration!

    You are a sweetie, Deb.

    I just was…furious at what I watched happen at my ex-church. Like H.U.G. pointed out
    I am now a like a Harriet Tubman, having my own Underground Railroad leading people out
    of NeoCalvinism.

    Thank you to you and Dee for giving me the “light” to see the “trail” to get all of the way TO FREEDOM, SWEET FREEDOM!

  4. @ Velour:
    The one good thing about what you experienced at your abusive former church is that you are now stronger and wiser. You have modeled for many how to respond to church abuse, and we are all grateful.

  5. Deb wrote:

    @ Velour:
    The one good thing about what you experienced at your abusive former church is that you are now stronger and wiser. You have modeled for many how to respond to church abuse, and we are all grateful.

    Thank Deb. I’ve made my share of mistakes on the way out of NeoCalvinism.
    It’s quite a deprogramming process.

    But when current church members from my ex-church have called me for insights,
    I haven’t criticized the church. Instead I ask them questions. “What concerns you?”
    They tell me. “Before this church, you went to other churches. How were you
    treated at any of those churches?”

    I know that those members who are trying to find their way, who know something is wrong, have the answers inside of themselves. So I just am gentle, patient, and ask questions.

  6. Narsistic people tend to be abusers. Check out the 12 characterics of abusers…these fall right in line with abusive or “hyper authoritarian” churches….hmmm

  7. This is an excellent article. I find it amazing and inspirational that Dr Enroth has made this book available for free. Robert Morris takes off a couple months every single summer. During his absence, Gateway Church has at least 8 guest pastors come and speak. Virtually all of the GW guest pastors (throughout the year – not just the summer) are selling a book. It’s basically like the Tonight Show. They give a sermon that is a 34 minute promotion for their product. Almost every one of them claim that the book was written to reflect direct revelations given to them by God. So God entrusts these authors with a sovereign message that He wants to give to his people. Morris has stated that his last few books represent the most important messages that God has wanted to get out to His people providing them with freedom and instructions for miracles and the like.
    .
    The kicker is that these pastors all charge big money on these books. They come out first in hardback, typically over $20 each, then later in Kindle, paperback and audio. Most of the books are merely rewrites of the pastor’s previous sermon notes that they were paid handsomely to write in the first place. In Robert Morris’ case he gets paid over a million dollars a year. Perry Noble and Mark Driscoll both made over $850,000 a year. Perry and Driscoll both used tithes to pay for Result Source to put them on best-selling lists. Yet everyone of these pastors keeps the money that they make from writing these books personally. They don’t give it back to their churches. They put it into their personal bank accounts.
    .
    Here is a man (Dr Enroth) with a vitally important message that can really help people and he is giving it away for free. Why? So that he can HELP his fellow Christians. Deb and Dee both put countless hours into this blog for free. Why? To help their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The same goes for all the tireless contributors here.
    .
    But the actual shepherds, who are already paid to feed the flock, insist on charging their own flock and public to give messages that they claim are directly from God so they can personally enrich themselves despite having staggeringly high salaries already. Personally, I would be too terrified to withhold a message from God to people who could not afford to give me the $20. I would also be ashamed to do that. If it is a direct revelation to God’s children then it BELONGS to the children. Profiting off of these direct revelations is obscene and wrong.
    .
    Dr Enroth is writing about what he has researched for decades. This isn’t a case of “thus sayeth the Lord” or adding to the canons. It’s legitimate material. He is entitled to charge for his efforts, because he would not be withholding God’s Word and presumably he was not being paid nearly a million dollars a year to come up with the original source material, that he then withheld from his employer. And still he selflessly makes this information available for free. I wonder how different Dr Enroth and the Deebs’ Judgment Day is going to look, compared to the Morrises, Nobles, Driscolls and Furticks of the world. It’s clear they have no fear of God. It makes me wonder if they believe at all.
    .
    Thanks for sharing this. I will be reading the entire book.

  8. #6 (as well as 1, 2, 3, and 8) has subtly been occurring in my church under the guise of “It’s Not About You!” sermons.

    Prefer hymnals? Think the rock band is too loud? Light show giving you seizures? The worship song about sloppy wet kisses making you uncomfortable? Tired of the pastor bringing up in every sermon? You need to repent of that since you’re trying to make church fit your desires! Church is about fitting God’s desires, and only Pastor and his hand-picked worship team know God’s heart. So stop being selfish and start doing church the way Pastor – um, I mean, God, wants to do church!

    Sermons that go like that make me cringe. One such sermon happened the same Sunday said “sloppy wet kiss” song was performed by the rock praise band – for the second consecutive week. The timing could not have been more carefully engineered to shut down anyone who might complain.

  9.   __

    Next Stop: “Dynamic Spiritual Development” ™ , Perhaps?

    hmmm…

    “Established 501(c)3 credentialed spiritual power holders can become strong ‘role’ models, and their dogmatic teaching, and their bold confidence, arrogant assertiveness, can also become powerful forces of strong manipulating influence…” -Churches That Abuse (page 42) [adapted]

      All the more reason to have a strong moral compass, a dynamic faith, and a ‘proven’ plan. 

      —> God’s written word gives us all that in spades. Availing yourself of it takes time, dedication, and the will to prevail. 

    (Most importantly, a solid walk with Jesus Christ will prove the metal.)

    Remember: “You are not alone”

    Christ is He who was, who is, who is to come.

    Don’t forget to ‘rely’ upon Him!

    ***End of the story?…We Win!

    AKA “Christ in us, the hope of glory” !

    ATB

    Sopy
    __
    “In Christ Alone”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k09mz6LGchc

  10. Velour wrote:

    I’m happy to report that many church members know that there’s something wrong at my ex-church and they’ve contacted me, wanting to know how to get out.

    I am so happy for you Velour! If I am not mistaken, I think you left your church back around Christmas 2014. Your story was heart-breaking. It is so hard when you first leave a controlling church. You are made to feel completely alone. Some, like Velour’s, even formally shun. Abusive churches do this by design so it will be very hard to leave no matter how egregious their behavior and teachings become.
    .
    For any new-ish readers who are considering leaving or have recently left their abusive church, hopefully you can be encouraged by what Velour is saying. You won’t be alone forever. It took about 2 years before people started contacting me as well. At first it feels like it will never happen, but it will. Give it time.
    .
    I cannot believe all the people who have left Gateway Church Southlake, TX since I left. Some of the over-paid (based on job skills) staff are still toughing it out. Virtually everyone in my small groups and the majority of the people I was close with have gotten out, which still surprises me. Many of these people were hard core supporters who had been going to Gateway for over a decade and had thousands of volunteer hours and over a hundred thousand dollars invested in the church. I thought there was no possible way they would ever leave. It’s a lot for people to walk away from. But people can only ignore the truth for so long and they do get out.
    .
    So to anyone else out there feeling alone, take heart. Members and even lower and mid-level staff at your (former) abusive church will ultimately see the abuse as well. Not everyone who does see it will have the courage to leave and you must accept that, even though it may break your heart to helplessly watch.
    .
    But over time, many will see what you have seen and experienced and they will leave. Similar to Velour’s experience, people were not that nice when I left. That happens. But over time, like with Velour, some people may reach out to you. It may take a year of two or three or even more. But the abuse will inevitably become too difficult for some to ignore and the people left behind can’t really speak about it with the current abusive church/cult. They will need to reach out to someone who understands the circumstances but won’t report them. Try to be gracious and supportive even if they did not do the same for you when you left. They need to see the Body of Christ in action now more than ever.
    .
    Those who leave early tend to endure a little more loneliness. But that is a gift. Try to see it that way. When people you loved and trusted, who called you family and friend, treat you as persona non grata solely because you left a 501(c)3, then you know you have escaped a cult. Their loyalty is to the cult not Jesus or the Body of Christ. Celebrate that you got out, even though it hurts at first. You are the fortunate one here.
    .
    Also, remember that you have a community here that loves you, cares about you, prays for you daily and understands what you are going through. It will get better. And one day you will be like Velour and the people trying to get out will come to you. Books like the one above will help you tremendously to give meaningful, relevant advice.
    .
    It seems to help people when they realize the core of your advice is coming from a professional. Some people might otherwise think you are pointing some of the negative, abusive or controlling traits out to them because you were hurt and are now bitter. Truthfully, the bitter don’t reach out and help other people to get out. The kind and loving do. However, some people can mistake questions and critique with bitterness. Try not to take that personally and try to refer to professionals like Dr Enroth and the Deebs so they know your advice is based on research and facts, not hurt or personal opinion. Learning to understand how cults and cognitive dissonance control these people will also help you better understand and accept the decisions of those who choose to stay despite a body of evidence that tells them to run. Take care of yourself first on this issue.
    .
    God bless you on this journey. You are among friends here.

  11. AnonInNC wrote:

    #6 (as well as 1, 2, 3, and 8) has subtly been occurring in my church under the guise of “It’s Not About You!” sermons.

    Ug. I’ve seen that nonsense before.

  12. AnonInNC wrote:

    #6 (as well as 1, 2, 3, and 8) has subtly been occurring in my church under the guise of “It’s Not About You!” sermons.

    That’s like the first sentence or chapter of that Purpose Driven Life book if I’m remembering correctly.

    I never got past that first sentence/chapter.
    Do you know why?
    Because I was in a long term relationship with someone with a personality disorder where it was never about me and God was teaching me that, actually, sometimes it IS about me.
    Sometimes I HAVE to put my needs first in order to heal and recover from hurts and situations.

    I guess this would also apply to being in churches with personality disorders. If they preach that it is never about you and always about their beastly organization, then it is high time to get out.
    It is high time to escape and find out from God, Himself, which parts are about ourselves individually and which parts are about us as a body of believers and the way we live work together.

    There is a balance to things that God does.
    Men knock things off balance with their overemphasis on whatever suits their personal interests.
    God is more interested in us than these so-called ‘shepherds’.
    God is more interested in our well-being than these ‘shepherds’ would have us believe.

  13. Nice catchy title for this blog post.

    I remember on SGM Survivors a long time ago Kris sharing what one writer called a “submissive pyramid” existing in cult or cult like including controlling churches.

    In a “submissive pyramid” one moves up in the organization based on how well the can control those “below” them in the pyramid and how well they submit to those above them. My experience with Covenant Life Church/SGM was that it had that characteristic.

  14. Mara wrote:

    If they preach that it is never about you and always about their beastly organization, then it is high time to get out.

    I wish I had been this astute when my former “church” began writing about Jean Twenge and Generation Me, and preaching about it from the pulpit. It was very crafty. Of course, nobody wants to be thought of as selfish, so we were manipulated into “laying down our lives” even more.

  15. LT wrote:

    But the actual shepherds, who are already paid to feed the flock, insist on charging their own flock and public to give messages that they claim are directly from God so they can personally enrich themselves despite having staggeringly high salaries already. Personally, I would be too terrified to withhold a message from God to people who could not afford to give me the $20. I would also be ashamed to do that. If it is a direct revelation to God’s children then it BELONGS to the children. Profiting off of these direct revelations is obscene and wrong.

    It always amazes me that in SGM C.J. Mahaney writes his books on company time but then is allowed to collect royalties off of the books he writes. He also would collect honorariums from various churches he spoke at (including those in SGM) even though as far as I know his travel expenses were paid for by SGM.

    A leader in a church needs to make a reasonable living but this sure seems to go over board and be double paying leaders.

  16. Steve240 wrote:

    Nice catchy title for this blog post.

    Thanks! If we ever do a follow-up post, it will be titled:

    9 Things You Should Know About Abusive Churches

    For those who don't get it, just Google '9 Things' and 'The Gospel Coalition'.  😉

  17. @ Steve240:
    In defense of the SGMers, they didn’t know what they didn’t know.

    This is an excellent example of why there should be transparency with regard to church finances. If you are kept in the dark about how contributions are being spent, how would you ever know about double-dipping and even worse financial abuses?

  18. @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    Very interesting…

    It made me think of a poor grandmother whose two daughters were members of Mars Hill Church. This kind of abusive thinking was prevalent there.  The grandmother contacted us out of desperation, saying she didn't know what to do because her daughters and sons-in-law would not allow her to see her grandchildren.  🙁

    In the wake of the Mars Hill implosion, I wonder if these daughters finally realized that their mother was right about Mark Driscoll.  I'd love to hear from her!

  19. LT wrote:

    It’s clear they have no fear of God. It makes me wonder if they believe at all.

    They believe it is right to use the Church to enrich themselves, even after brow-beating members into sacrificial giving …. that revelation should answer your question about them ‘believing’.

    We can’t know their hearts. Maybe they do some good in ways that don’t get published for ‘credit’. We can only hope for them that there is something left in them of good that can eventually win out over their greed.

  20. I wish this book had been written in the late 60’s early 70’s. It would have helped my family out a lot. The church we went to when I was a child and into my early teens was pretty much what everyone talks about here. Abusive. I am so glad we left that church and went to one that really ministered to our needs. When my parents were contemplating the church move, the minister himself of the new church called and talked to my dad. We had visited that church several times, plus a lot of my family went there. My grandfather was concerned about us. This kind minister said we were welcome to his church, no questions asked. They would be there for whatever we needed. I am so glad we went to this other church. It probably changed the outcome of my life, for the better.

  21. In the years since TWW first posted this piece, it’s clear that a 10th mark can be added to the list:

    10) Churches with an underlying theology of “New Calvinism.” All of the other marks are manifested in them.

    Of course, the play on “9 Marks” can be attributed to the reformed movement. Thus, it is important to flag this particular group to warn folks to keep their distance from New Calvinist works in their areas. Although, abusive characteristics can certainly be found in other religious gatherings where an authoritarian patriarchy sets up camp to control, manipulate and intimidate its members.

  22. LT wrote:

    Robert Morris takes off a couple months every single summer. During his absence, Gateway Church has at least 8 guest pastors come and speak. Virtually all of the GW guest pastors (throughout the year – not just the summer) are selling a book. It’s basically like the Tonight Show.

    Now that is funny!

  23. Harley wrote:

    . When my parents were contemplating the church move, the minister himself of the new church called and talked to my dad.

    Wow-can you imagine the celebrity pastors/talking heads doing this?

  24. Update from Dee

    We are leaving to go to Chatham on Cape Cod to go through Polly’s belongs. The funeral has been postponed until Aug 19 because her pastor, with whom she planned her funeral, is away. Deb will be handling the blog but I will drop in from time to time.

    Thank you all for being so kind during this time. I hope by the end of August I will have caught up.

  25. To those who have submitted posts:

    We have NOT forgotten you!

    We will be posting those in the coming couple of weeks. We have not forgotten you-that includes our intrepid TWW Driscoll protestor, Mirele.

  26. One red flag, or mark of an abusive church is that they subscribe to Mark Dever's "9 Marks of a Healthy Church".

  27. Velour wrote:

    Underground Railroad leading people out of NeoCalvinism

    A great way to characterize the grassroots effort to reach out to those enslaved by the new reformation. While non-Calvinist leaders within SBC won’t touch this with a 10-foot pole, there are discerning believers who realize the dangers embedded in the movement and are seeking to warn the Body of Christ to steer clear of it.

  28. Law Prof wrote:

    One red flag, or mark of an abusive church is that they subscribe to Mark Dever's "9 Marks of a Healthy Church".

    This cannot be emphasized enough! Yes, the title of this post was inspired by Mark Dever, guru of church covenants and church discipline.  😉

  29. Does anyone else find it ironic that every single “9 Marks” church I have experience with also rings the bell on at least five of the nine marks of an abusive church?

  30. Max wrote:

    Velour wrote:

    Underground Railroad leading people out of NeoCalvinism

    A great way to characterize the grassroots effort to reach out to those enslaved by the new reformation. While non-Calvinist leaders within SBC won’t touch this with a 10-foot pole, there are discerning believers who realize the dangers embedded in the movement and are seeking to warn the Body of Christ to steer clear of it.

    My husband estimates that I can sometimes spend 60 hours per week on this blogging endeavor. This is the reason why I do it and derive absolutely no monetary benefit. Dee and I are trying to set the captives free.  So grateful for the worldwide web!  It's a virtual underground railroad.  Come ride the freedom train!

  31. Steve240 wrote:

    SGM Survivors

    Another flag is to beware of any ministry where the leader self-proclaims himself to be an “Apostle.” (The Apostles were hand-picked by Jesus)

  32. Deb wrote:

    Dee and I are trying to set the captives free.

    You are. I hear their voices in the blog threads. God is blessing the long hours you spend on this work. Deebs, thank you for your sacrifices.

  33. Max wrote:

    Another flag is to beware of any ministry where the leader self-proclaims himself to be an “Apostle.”

    This is a hallmark of Five-fold ministry churches. My former church is five-fold ministry, and the founding elder is the Apostle. Until I read on TWW about Gateway church and Robert Morris, I’d didn’t know of another church that practiced this.

  34. Deb wrote:

    My husband estimates that I can sometimes spend 60 hours per week on this blogging endeavor. This is the reason why I do it and derive absolutely no monetary benefit. Dee and I are trying to set the captives free.  So grateful for the worldwide web!  It's a virtual underground railroad.  Come ride the freedom train!

    We really appreciate all you guys do!

  35. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    My former church is five-fold ministry

    I don’t have so much of a problem with teaching that a “5-fold ministry” (Ephesians 4) should still be in operation within the 21st century church, as I do with leaders who self-proclaim they hold one or more of those offices while they work their magic to control, intimidate and manipulate (NOT gifts of the Holy Spirit).

  36. dee wrote:

    Thank you all for being so kind during this time.

    I think you are simply receiving in “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over” what you have so freely given to others.

  37. Ironically I didn’t need to read a book like this after leaving CLC because I saw some of the cult-like issues. It was still difficult to leave, however, mostly because of leaving my social network. I was even lucky that my friends in CLC still kept in touch. However, after attending a church plant headed by a narcissist and psychologically damaged pastor, I started reading the book highlighted in this post, as well as another book by him “Recovering from Churches that Abuse”. Both very good books. That was in February of 2011, and we all know what happened in July of that year. It was a crazy time and I am still working on recovering from it all.

  38. Max wrote:

    they work their magic to control, intimidate and manipulate

    This^^ has been my experience. The way it was taught to us is that the Apostle is the thumb. Only he, as the opposable appendage, could minister to the other offices or “fingers.” And the Apostle is accountable to no one but God. It’s unchecked authority, or at least it was in my “church.”

  39. dee wrote:

    We will be posting those in the coming couple of weeks. We have not forgotten you-that includes our intrepid TWW Driscoll protestor, Mirele.

    Oh, I don’t need a post. Just a reminder to people every now and then that I’m still out there and you’re welcome to join me any Sunday morning on the northeast corner of 86th and McDonald in Scottsdale. Driscoll has services at 9 and 10:45, so plan accordingly.

    By the way, I’ll be out there tomorrow for the grand opening. Since half the attendees for the first service had arrived a half-hour before the 9 am service last Sunday, I’ll be up bright and early to get out there quite a bit earlier! I don’t want these faithful followers of Driscoll to forget that someone is out there letting them know that Driscoll is Bad News.

    By the way, who talks about a church’s grand opening? There’s a Baptist Church near my mother’s that’s moving into another Baptist Church’s building (which is slightly further away from mom but closer to me) on Sunday and they don’t talk about it as a “grand opening.”

    I don’t usually talk about my extracurricular activities at work, but I’d gotten a sunburn last Sunday and showed up rather pink to work on Monday. This prompted one of my managers (who was in to say farewell to our senior manager, who retired on Monday) to ask me what kind of hll-raising I’d been up to. So I told him. I think most people, even if they don’t “get” why you’re out there, respect the fact that you’re dedicated to it. He didn’t understand why I was out there because, you know, “not my circus, not my monkeys,” but my thing is that someone needs to let these guys know that their “pastor” has a reputation and it is not good. But it made for an interesting conversation.

  40. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    AnonInNC wrote:

    #6 (as well as 1, 2, 3, and 8) has subtly been occurring in my church under the guise of “It’s Not About You!” sermons.

    Ug. I’ve seen that nonsense before.

    It was the foundation of PDL, believe it or not.

  41. LT wrote:

    Here is a man (Dr Enroth) with a vitally important message that can really help people and he is giving it away for free. Why? So that he can HELP his fellow Christians. Deb and Dee both put countless hours into this blog for free. Why? To help their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The same goes for all the tireless contributors here.

    Well said. I am so grateful to Dr. Ron Enroth for making his classic books (two of them) about abusive churches available for FREE in online form. I constantly recommend them to people who are in abusive churches or leaving them.

    I am grateful too for the Deb and Dee using the gifts the Lord has given them (education, empathy, experience, a love of the Lord and His people, a concern for the safety of children at churches) to start this blog, minister to people through it, warn people, have a forum, and a dialogue about serious church subjects that many church leaders won’t address. Deb and Dee have cried into their pillows from the abuses that have been heaped on God’s precious flock.

  42. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    Does anyone else find it ironic that every single “9 Marks” church I have experience with also rings the bell on at least five of the nine marks of an abusive church?

    Spot on.

    My former NeoCalvinist church was also a 9Marxist church. Mark Dever, founder of 9Marxist, claims that these are the “9 marks” of a “healthy” church. As insightful
    Wartburgers here commented, on another thread here, that the ONLY mark of a “healthy”
    *biblical* church is LOVE, which curiously NEVER made it to Mark Dever’s list.

    Wartburgers also noted that Mark Dever has simply released the 1970’s abusive heavy-Shepherding techniques with new terms. The majority of the Florida founders repented for its unbiblical control over Christians’ lives and many abuses. Mark Dever has not repented it. Nor have the majority of the abusive leaders/pastors/elders practicing it.

  43. Max wrote:

    @ Deb:
    When you see it, you can’t un-see it. When stuff gets in your “knower”, you can’t un-know it.

    Very true. You can try pushing it back into the recesses of your mind but it will pop up over and over. You can’t unknow it. Facts are stubborn things as John Adams once declared.

  44. Max wrote:

    A great way to characterize the grassroots effort to reach out to those enslaved by the new reformation. While non-Calvinist leaders within SBC won’t touch this with a 10-foot pole, there are discerning believers who realize the dangers embedded in the movement and are seeking to warn the Body of Christ to steer clear of it.

    Yes sir, the Non-Cal pastors are just going to be quiet and try to keep drawing a paycheck.

  45. @ Lydia:
    I can only imagine the many hours you invest here too! We have learned so much from you over the years. As I remember, you found our blog early on. Thanks for your invaluable input.

  46. Law Prof wrote:

    One red flag, or mark of an abusive church is that they subscribe to Mark Dever’s “9 Marks of a Healthy Church”.

    Exactly. That’s how I got involved in my ex-church. A dear Christian woman, who went to a Calvary Chapel, knew that I was unhappy with the mega church that I had been invited to by a friend. She said that among the many problems at my mega church was the fact they didn’t practice “Biblical Church Discipline”. I’d never heard of the phrase before. I did a search and found Mark Dever’s 9Marks of a Healthy Church organization. It promised to get “back to Biblical basics” that “had been lost”. It promised stability in a sea of Christian church chaos.

    I read articles by Al Mohler, whom I did not know, about “Church Discipline”.

    I found a 9Marks Church in my area on the 9Marks locator map. And that ushered me in to a *tour of duty* of NeoCalvinism (which I also hadn’t heard of), authoritarianism, heavy-Shepherding (the 1970’s version), and no respect for the priesthood of all believers.

    I didn’t know that all of the *big names* that I’d been reading were some of the most abusive, unethical men around who had caused enormous damage to the lives of good Christian men and women who disagreed with them, whether in seminaries, churches, or other Christian organizations. If they’d only qualified what they’d really done to other people, what other Christians really thought of them, I would have dismissed what they wrote.

  47. dee wrote:

    Update from Dee
    We are leaving to go to Chatham on Cape Cod to go through Polly’s belongs. The funeral has been postponed until Aug 19 because her pastor, with whom she planned her funeral, is away. Deb will be handling the blog but I will drop in from time to time.
    Thank you all for being so kind during this time. I hope by the end of August I will have caught up.

    God bless you and your husband, Dee. And other family. I prayed for you folks right before I fell asleep last night and for your family and the needs of Wartburgers first thing when I awoke this morning.

    Take care of yourselves and get your rest, if you can. We know you are sad and tired.

    Love and hugs from California,

    Velour

  48. Law Prof wrote:

    One red flag, or mark of an abusive church is that they subscribe to Mark Dever’s “9 Marks of a Healthy Church”.

    Touché!

    Steve240 wrote:

    Nice catchy title for this blog post.

    If this were one of those “viral” posts that make the rounds on Facebook, it’d be called…

    Eight signs to watch for in a church (Number 7 will shock you!)

  49. mot wrote:

    Yes sir, the Non-Cal pastors are just going to be quiet and try to keep drawing a paycheck.

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

  50. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    mot wrote:

    Yes sir, the Non-Cal pastors are just going to be quiet and try to keep drawing a paycheck.

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

    Take the money away from these guys and how in the world would they make a living?

  51. Max wrote:

    Another flag is to beware of any ministry where the leader self-proclaims himself to be an “Apostle.” (The Apostles were hand-picked by Jesus)

    “If a preacher bills himself as “Apostle” or “Prophet”, RUN!”
    — my burned-out preacher writing partner

    And then you have Star Scott of Calvary Temple who’s both “Apostle” AND “Prophet”…

  52. Steve240 wrote:

    Nice catchy title for this blog post.

    I remember on SGM Survivors a long time ago Kris sharing what one writer called a “submissive pyramid” existing in cult or cult like including controlling churches.

    In a “submissive pyramid” one moves up in the organization based on how well the can control those “below” them in the pyramid and how well they submit to those above them. My experience with Covenant Life Church/SGM was that it had that characteristic.

    Kiss Up, Kick Down.

    “We must picture Hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.”
    — C.S.Lewis, Preface to Screwtape Letters

  53. Mara wrote:

    God is more interested in us than these so-called ‘shepherds’.
    God is more interested in our well-being than these ‘shepherds’ would have us believe.

    Reminds me of the heresy of Clericalism, where God was only interested in Priests, Monks, and Nuns, NOT the laity. They were there only to Pray, Pay, and Obey.

  54. mot wrote:

    Take the money away from these guys and how in the world would they make a living?

    Grifting and 419.

  55. @ Deb:

    My time is on the fly. Thank God for free wifi just about everywhere these days. I called it a labor of love here because I have a basic idea of what goes into it. And you guys never cashed in on your growing fame. You have been consistent -which is rare these days! I have also seen, since the early days of blogging, many come and go. Often for good reason. People who do this need a strong support system which is why your spouses deserve major kudos.

    Truth is unkillable. Facts are stubborn things. And truth is worth seeking even when we disagree. Thank you for that place.

  56. mot wrote:

    the Non-Cal pastors are just going to be quiet

    Mot, as a 60+ year Southern Baptist, that is the most irritating thing about this mess! In my humble (but accurate) opinion, 45,000+ SBC pastors should be having “family talks” with their congregations to inform them about the ails of New Calvinism before they get blind-sided by it … it’s coming to a church near you!

    In regard to stealth and deception, I actually heard an SBC-YRR church planter down the road from me say about the reformed movement “We are coming in the back door!” To which I replied “True shepherds don’t sneak in the back door … ‘He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber'” (John 10:1). He smiled and walked away.

  57. LT wrote:

    When people you loved and trusted, who called you family and friend, treat you as persona non grata solely because you left a 501(c)3, then you know you have escaped a cult. Their loyalty is to the cult not Jesus or the Body of Christ. Celebrate that you got out, even though it hurts at first. You are the fortunate one here.
    .

    What a wonderful, comprehensive post. Thank you. Thanks for your kindness to me here
    and to others who are in abusive churches or are out of them.

    Julie Anne wrote a good piece over at Spiritual Sounding Board about some
    ways to interact with people who are in bad churches:
    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2016/08/02/help-my-family-member-or-close-friend-is-trapped-in-a-high-controlling-church-or-cult-how-can-i-encourage-them-to-leave/

  58. mot wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    mot wrote:
    Yes sir, the Non-Cal pastors are just going to be quiet and try to keep drawing a paycheck.
    Make an Example of one and a hundred will fall right into line.
    Take the money away from these guys and how in the world would they make a living?

    They would find a stage somewhere.

  59. Max wrote:

    He smiled and walked away.

    I’m sure it was an arrogant and smug smile. These guys have no fear of God!

  60. @ LT:
    Your comment had me picturing Paul setting up a table in his travels to sell his letters copied by scribes on papyrus.

    Nah. Doesn’t work, does it?

    Kudos to Ron Enroth for not making merchandise of his contribution to the Body.

  61. @ mirele:

    Circus world does a grand opening. So do big box stores. Hmmm.

    Please apply more sunscreen! And thank you for your dedication.

  62. Velour wrote:

    Exactly. That’s how I got involved in my ex-church. A dear Christian woman, who went to a Calvary Chapel, knew that I was unhappy with the mega church that I had been invited to by a friend. She said that among the many problems at my mega church was the fact they didn’t practice “Biblical Church Discipline”. I’d never heard of the phrase before. I did a search and found Mark Dever’s 9Marks of a Healthy Church organization. It promised to get “back to Biblical basics” that “had been lost”. It promised stability in a sea of Christian church chaos.

    Calvary Chapel huh? And I’ll leave it at that…

  63. AnonInNC wrote:

    #6 (as well as 1, 2, 3, and 8) has subtly been occurring in my church under the guise of “It’s Not About You!” sermons.

    During the music most would stand silently, many with their head down. It was never the leaders, it was ALWAYS dismissed as people came with the wrong attitude and not with an attitude of “worship”.

    Looking back I see it was usually the same handful of people that shifted the focus from the reported problem to the one bringing the report. Brad (futuristguy) has a very useful chart of various “Agents of Damage” in toxic systems and these particular agents he has labeled Silencers, Diverters, and Negators. In my case these people were real, with names and faces.

    https://futuristguy.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/agents-of-damage-vs-agents-of-healing-chart.jpg

  64. @ LT:

    Same thing applies to all the Piper and Keller and DeYoung gospel(TM) books, and the conventions too. If they’re so crucial to peoples’ Christian walks, why not use a pay what you want model? You’d think Christians would be extra-receptive to it.

  65. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    This is a hallmark of Five-fold ministry churches. My former church is five-fold ministry, and the founding elder is the Apostle. Until I read on TWW about Gateway church and Robert Morris, I’d didn’t know of another church that practiced this.

    My former church split when the elders unanimously decided to force our abusive and sinning pastor to step down and they were thwarted by one of the leaders/apostles in the Fivefold Ministry/NAR coming in and declaring our pastor an apostle and the elders without the authority to discipline him. Only other “apostles” were his equal in authority.

  66. Muff Potter wrote:

    Calvary Chapel huh? And I’ll leave it at that…

    Yes, Muff. That’s why I added that detail, because of what you have written about CC.
    While I thought that Christian woman was a sweet woman, she was deceived in her own way.

  67. Max wrote:

    In my humble (but accurate) opinion, 45,000+ SBC pastors should be having “family talks” with their congregations to inform them about the ails of New Calvinism before they get blind-sided by it … it’s coming to a church near you!

    True story… at a rural Baptist church, the relatively new pastor — who is proving with each decision he makes that he is a Neo-Cal, although the vast majority in the church have no idea what that is — recently advertised on the church website and the church Facebook page that he will be teaching through Wayne Grudem’s condensed Systematic Theology starting in a few weeks. The local Baptist association, which is comprised of around 60 Southern Baptist churches (which are most likely Non-Calvinist), just advertised this Bible study on its Facebook page.  Apparently, it's open to anyone in this local association who is willing to participate (I guess that means pastors, too).

    Someone had the courage to add a comment on the association’s Facebook page (under that status update) that Wayne Grudem is reformed (Calvinist) and that he was the co-founder of CBMW, which promotes complementarianism (strict gender roles).

    Ignorance is definitely NOT bliss!

  68. Deb wrote:

    Ignorance is definitely NOT bliss!

    To be uniformed is one thing … to be misinformed is quite another … but to be willingly ignorant is dangerous ignorance!

  69. Deb wrote:

    Someone had the courage to add a comment on the association’s Facebook page (under that status update) that Wayne Grudem is reformed (Calvinist) and that he was the co-founder of CBMW, which promotes complementarianism.

    Hopefully someone else will have the courage to add a comment about the Eternal Subordination of the Son heresy that Grudem promotes.

    And this whole nonsense about women being the derivative image of God, not made in the image of God.

  70. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    This^^ has been my experience. The way it was taught to us is that the Apostle is the thumb. Only he, as the opposable appendage, could minister to the other offices or “fingers.” And the Apostle is accountable to no one but God. It’s unchecked authority, or at least it was in my “church.”

    I commented on another comment you made and accidentally put your name in. The “apostle” Big Palooka who contributed to my former church splitting by declaring our abusive pastor “apostolic” was the author of the book, “The Five Fingers Of God”, Mark Tubbs, where all that nonsense about thumbs originated. I’ve seen the fruit of his influence up close. Not good. Never mind that our elders UNANIMOUSLY had decided our pastor should step down. Mark Tubbs declared them without authority. All of the elders left as well as most of the ministry leaders.

  71. Lydia wrote:

    Please apply more sunscreen! And thank you for your dedication.

    I forgot my sunscreen and I wore a sleeveless dress. I will not forget tomorrow!

    I have my signs for tomorrow made up:

    Side 1:

    NOPE. (big letters)
    below: DespicableMarkDriscoll.com

    Side 2:
    It’s all about Jesus (and “Jesus” is crossed out)
    MARK’s EGO
    MONEY & POWER.
    Don’t be deceived!
    DespicableMarkDriscoll.com

    I figure, why pull any punches?

  72. Velour wrote:

    And this whole nonsense about women being the derivative image of God, not made in the image of God.

    I agree that is total nonsense and anyone advocating this nonsense is deceived by the DECEIVER!

  73. @Dee – rest as you are able, remember the good times, and take comfort in God. Around the time my mother was very ill and dying, I just considered it a sacred time and still have very vivid memories of everything surrounding that time. Not that the suffering is sacred, but God somehow met me in that time, and I pray the same for you and your family as you walk through this. Hope you get some nice sea breezes in New England as well. Eat a lobster for me!

  74. @ dee:
    Take it easy, Dee. I know going through and figuring out what to do with Miss Polly’s belongings will be difficult for you and your family. But, I’ll bet there’s a treasure trove of memories there to celebrate! Take your time.

  75. Been There Done That wrote:

    Only other “apostles” were his equal in authority.

    I’m sorry you experienced a church split over this. That had to have been somewhat traumatic. So, being a part of a larger denomination didn’t help to discipline your errant Apostle. All they did was close ranks around him. And once you’ve been declared an Apostle, the underlings can’t touch you. My “church” wasn’t a part of a denomination, so the Apostle had the final word on everything.

  76. One of the little people wrote:

    the author of the book, “The Five Fingers Of God”, Mark Tubbs, where all that nonsense about thumbs originated

    I’m googling Mark Tubbs right now. I’m not really sure where my church got their ideas to compare the five-fold ministry to the thumb and fingers. They wrote a few books about it some decades ago. But I have learned over the past few years that none of their ideas are original to them. They just assimilated from others.

    At least the elders in your church weren’t “yes men.” At least they had some integrity. But that doesn’t make it any easier watching it split.

  77. mirele wrote:

    I forgot my sunscreen and I wore a sleeveless dress. I will not forget tomorrow!

    And, wear a hat and take a cooler of water! I’ve been to Arizona in June. I hate to think about what the weather is like down there in August!

  78. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    So, being a part of a larger denomination didn’t help to discipline your errant Apostle. All they did was close ranks around him.

    If I may borrow your name, Been There Done That. I used to think denominational oversight was a plus but instead it worked against pastor accountability in my experience.

  79. Nancy2 wrote:

    Sometimes, ignorance results in defeat.

    Southern Baptists, in their apathy and complacency, have surrendered one of the greatest soul-winning institutions on the planet to the new reformation. SBC evangelism and mission will never be the same again. But God …

  80. Bill M wrote:

    it worked against pastor accountability in my experience

    I wonder if there’s any system that can prevent abuse. I used to be naive enough to believe that Christians could do better. I believed church was a safe place. My faith crisis is having those beliefs shattered. Not that there aren’t wonderful individuals who have inspired me over the years. Where to go from here?

  81. Nancy2 wrote:

    Sometimes, ignorance results in defeat.

    Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I largely extrapolate from my former church so take that into account. Most people remain blissfully unaware of the abusive nature of the leadership. For the majority that came only Sunday morning and were not much involved there was not the opportunity to be used or abused. They came, saw some friends, listened to a sub-par sermon, and left.

    On the other hand for those who were interested in doing more, their focus was shifted without their discerning. They were turned from loving Jesus and each other, to being given value based on their utility and compliance to the organization. Once the process is complete, you no longer have value for who you are but for what you do and your passivity to leadership. I consider this debasement of people a form of abuse and while creating institutional drones instead of Christ’s disciples may not be considered abuse by some, I figure that if left unchallenged it will “blossom” and then you will get what you consider the real thing.

  82. Breaking News!! First gold medal of the Rio Olympics was taken by … a teenage girl! Ginny Thrasher, 19, took gold in air rifle competition. All you patriarchal- complementarian-women-can’t-do-anything-bunch, put this in your pipe and smoke it! Nancy2, another markswoman, must be rejoicing in this news!!

  83. Max wrote:

    Breaking News!! First gold medal of the Rio Olympics was taken by … a teenage girl! Ginny Thrasher, 19, took gold in air rifle competition. All you patriarchal- complementarian-women-can’t-do-anything-bunch, put this in your pipe and smoke it! Nancy2, another markswoman, must be rejoicing in this news!!

    Yeah, buddy!

  84. @ Max:
    The kid started out as a figure skater, but changed her sport after she bagged a deer on a family hunting trip. So much for the sparkly, frilly, feminine skating costumes

  85. Nancy2 wrote:

    @ Max:
    The kid started out as a figure skater, but changed her sport after she bagged a deer on a family hunting trip. So much for the sparkly, frilly, feminine skating costumes

    Love it!

  86. Thank you, Deb and Dee, for your ministry, and for this open discussion on Nine Marks of an Abusive Church subject. My condolences to you, Dee, for the recent passing of your Mother In Law.

    This Abusive Church topic reminds me of the dynamics involving the difficulties and eventual excommunication I went through with a 9 Marks church here in northern Virginia. Much of it I prefer to forget.

  87. Max wrote:

    mot wrote:

    the Non-Cal pastors are just going to be quiet

    Mot, as a 60+ year Southern Baptist, that is the most irritating thing about this mess! In my humble (but accurate) opinion, 45,000+ SBC pastors should be having “family talks” with their congregations to inform them about the ails of New Calvinism before they get blind-sided by it … it’s coming to a church near you!

    In regard to stealth and deception, I actually heard an SBC-YRR church planter down the road from me say about the reformed movement “We are coming in the back door!” To which I replied “True shepherds don’t sneak in the back door … ‘He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber’” (John 10:1). He smiled and walked away.

    Max, I’m happy to report that, when my in laws had a new pastor come to their SBC church, the FIRST study he led was “The trouble with TULIPs”, and the dangers of Calvinist theology. It is happening–it’s just not getting the press it should.

  88. AnonInNC wrote:

    #6 (as well as 1, 2, 3, and 8) has subtly been occurring in my church under the guise of “It’s Not About You!” sermons.

    Prefer hymnals? Think the rock band is too loud? Light show giving you seizures? The worship song about sloppy wet kisses making you uncomfortable? Tired of the pastor bringing up in every sermon? You need to repent of that since you’re trying to make church fit your desires! Church is about fitting God’s desires, and only Pastor and his hand-picked worship team know God’s heart. So stop being selfish and start doing church the way Pastor – um, I mean, God, wants to do church!

    Sermons that go like that make me cringe. One such sermon happened the same Sunday said “sloppy wet kiss” song was performed by the rock praise band – for the second consecutive week. The timing could not have been more carefully engineered to shut down anyone who might complain.

    Been there, done that! One word of advice: run.

  89. Nancy2 wrote:

    The kid started out as a figure skater, but changed her sport after she bagged a deer on a family hunting trip. So much for the sparkly, frilly, feminine skating costumes

    I’ve long suspected that women make the best shooters. I think there’s much by way of historical provenance to support the claim.

  90. XianJaneway wrote:

    I’m happy to report that, when my in laws had a new pastor come to their SBC church, the FIRST study he led was “The trouble with TULIPs”, and the dangers of Calvinist theology.

    As he should have!! There’s an interesting thing about that study if it’s the one based on Frank Page’s book “Trouble With The TULIP: A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Calvinism.” When Dr. Page wrote that book, he was an outspoken anti-Calvinist Southern Baptist pastor in Georgia. When he became president and chief executive officer of SBC’s Executive Committee a few years ago, he went silent on his Calvinist views (= compromised) and actually started encouraging all Southern Baptists to agree to disagree with New Calvinism, go along to get along with the reformed brethren, and make room for everybody under the big SBC tent. As the highest SBC executive, his call for “unity” in that regard effectively silenced pastors across the country who should be engaged in what your in-laws’ pastor has the courage to do … standing against the proliferation of New Calvinism in SBC ranks!! The silence of 45,000 SBC pulpits in this regard is deafening.

  91. Nancy2 wrote:

    The kid started out as a figure skater, but changed her sport after she bagged a deer on a family hunting trip.

    You go, girl!

  92. Max wrote:

    Breaking News!! First gold medal of the Rio Olympics was taken by … a teenage girl! Ginny Thrasher, 19, took gold in air rifle competition. All you patriarchal- complementarian-women-can’t-do-anything-bunch, put this in your pipe and smoke it! Nancy2, another markswoman, must be rejoicing in this news!!

    I must fund it on Twitter and Tweet out. I have Comp/Patriarchy NeoCals following me on Twitter.

  93. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    And this whole nonsense about women being the derivative image of God, not made in the image of God.
    I agree that is total nonsense and anyone advocating this nonsense is deceived by the DECEIVER!

    I’m even more pointed about these guys. I think the blame is theirs alone and not even the Deceiver’s. They do it because they want to.

  94. Velour wrote:

    ^Note: My YELP review is the 1-star review about my ex-church (if they would permit us to give black holes…I’d give it). H.U.G. said it was the only review that wasn’t written in fluent Christianese.

    Good job! Clicked the “useful” button. 😉

  95. Debi Calvet wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    ^Note: My YELP review is the 1-star review about my ex-church (if they would permit us to give black holes…I’d give it). H.U.G. said it was the only review that wasn’t written in fluent Christianese.
    Good job! Clicked the “useful” button.

    Thank you, Debi!

  96. Mara wrote:

    That’s like the first sentence or chapter of that Purpose Driven Life book if I’m remembering correctly.

    Also, The Vertical Church by James McDonald.

    If they preach that it is never about you and always about their beastly organization, then it is high time to get out.

    So true- only they will phrase it as though it’s about GOD when they really mean their beastly organization -and that’s where your discernment begins to get a workout, separating the two!

  97. dee wrote:

    Harley wrote:

    . When my parents were contemplating the church move, the minister himself of the new church called and talked to my dad.

    Wow-can you imagine the celebrity pastors/talking heads doing this?

    Only if you are wealthy and desirable to name-drop as a member of their church.

  98. Lydia wrote:

    Training up independent thinkers instead of conforming lemmings? Not an easy task!

    I’m not sure that constitutes a system. Some systems are better than others, I now steer clear of any and all authoritarian systems, but I think an error is made looking for a system to put our trust in. I’m with you, if they don’t find value in your independent thinking it is not a good place.

  99. siteseer wrote:

    Only if you are wealthy and desirable to name-drop as a member of their church.

    Although one of the first dear saints that I saw got viciously lied about by my pastors/elders, excommunicated and shunned “before all” was a godly doctor in his 70s
    who was wealthy. Faithful Christian, loving and faithful husband for nearly 50 years,
    loving father to grown children, gave of his time and money to the church, paid
    for many expensive books and DVDs for the church lending library, invited and
    paid for our senior pastor to join the doctor and his friend pastor John MacArthur
    to travel to North Carolina a few years ago and have a personal visit with the
    Rev. Billy Graham at his log cabin home.

    The doctor was kicked out on some trumped up charge by the pastors/elders who said they had “worked with him for years” to no avail (sniff, sob). They didn’t like the fact the doctor had an iota of critical thinking skills and made him pay the price.

    Countless other dear saints lied about and abused. Vicious. All of these pastors/elders
    can take their Bibles and toss them in the trash. Their words are meaningless to them.

  100. @ Velour:

    Disgraceful. 🙁

    Did they boast about this man’s membership before his critical thinking skills put him on the outs with them?

  101. XianJaneway wrote:

    Max, I’m happy to report that, when my in laws had a new pastor come to their SBC church, the FIRST study he led was “The trouble with TULIPs”, and the dangers of Calvinist theology. It is happening–it’s just not getting the press it should.

    That's encouraging news!

  102. siteseer wrote:

    @ Velour:
    Disgraceful.
    Did they boast about this man’s membership before his critical thinking skills put him on the outs with them?

    Yes, I think they did boast about him.

    Although the rude, self-centered, abusive, lying ex-senior pastor conveniently omitted in the slide show during the Sunday service of pictures of the Rev. Billy Graham, the pastor, and the other men…”Oh Dr. X invited AND paid for my trip.” Convenient omission, eh?
    Not so much as a thanks to the doctor before all of us for his thoughtfulness and generosity.

    The good doctor was called by the pastors/elders to a meeting at church. He happily went thinking they were going to ask him to be a church officer. Much to the good doctor’s surprise, the pastors/elders confronted him, screamed at him, and falsely accused him!

    Countless other former church members describe the same kinds of meetings. Being called to a meeting with the pastors/elders, not being told what it was about, and being screamed at and falsely accused. Told not to tell anyone. Told to “obey your elders”.

    All of the stories were basically the same.

    Then the pastors/elders, who control the narrative, tell the entire church membership that “we worked with [name of member] for a long time to no avail. We repeatedly confronted them to no avail.” Such liars. It’s screaming and bullying and ganging up sessions.

    My ex-pastor told hundreds of church members when he ordered the doctor’s excommunication and shunning to “pray for [the doctor’s] wife.” My ex-senior pastor made it sound like a a hostage situation.

    When I interviewed the doctor and his wife they told a completely different story.
    Of course! The doctor’s wife told me that she had ALWAYS hated the senior pastor,
    the elders (his friends), the church, thought there was something terribly wrong with it, and she had REPEATEDLY warned her husband that they SHOULD NOT go to this church.

    My manipulative ex-pastor NEVER told the entire church membership what the doctor’s wife REALLY thought. Gee, I wonder why?

  103. Mike wrote:

    Very timely article. If possible, read this article by Joseph Hellerman that was posted on the Aug. 6 CHRISTIANITY TODAY site. RED FLAG #5 Lifestyle Rigidity?

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/august-web-only/if-our-families-are-more-important-than-our-churches-we-nee.html

    Great article – Hellerman is right on! The closing quote says it all:

    “God wants all of his children to grow up into ‘the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13), and our spiritual wellbeing depends upon rightly prioritized relationships. We need to learn to adopt Jesus’ relational priorities and put the family of God first.”

    I don’t know how many young pastors I’ve heard say that their families come before the needs of the church family. That’s why you don’t find YRRs making hospital and nursing home visits, nor meeting regularly with church members in their homes. That would cut into their personal “family time.” However, they find plenty of time for Sunday night football and hanging out in coffee shops through the week tweeting their lives away. In my 60+ years as a Southern Baptist spanning several pastors, I’ve only had one pastor who had his priorities straight in this regard. Genuine pastors are now on the endangered species list.

    A TWW commenter posted something like the following in another thread: “Hospital and nursing home visits = earns you the right to speak on Sunday morning.”

  104. If the minister of the church that I went to as a young child was still alive, he would probably be a calvinist. Actually the first 2 ministers. This was long before calvinism was even being preached, and this wasn’t the Baptist denomination either. You never know. I’m so glad that my dad listened to the good minister that called him and we went to his church. Made a huge difference in my life and those of my family. I wish everyone could have a minister like this man and the one who came after him.

  105. Here is a “barfumentary” about the SBC / Seminary take over, in my opinion, Jesus took a back seat as did most of the faculty and students. Of course Mohler and the other knights of the round table of orthodoxy talk about how they were fighting for God etc. I really try to be sympathetic to how Dr. Mohler and others see things but they make no effort to understand their “opponents” which take on the status of enemies. I still do not get how a Baptist true to their “confession” and history can support reform theology (Calvinism). The fact that they still stand by CJ just undermines their credibility.

    How they treated Dr. Molly Marshall was horrid in my opinion.

    https://youtu.be/A1k9HyxLiOY

    Funny thing is Luther and his ilk saw Baptists as liberal and progressive. The verse that comes to mind is “Jesus wept”.

  106. @ Max:
    This article could be problematic in some instances. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, a grandmother wrote us several years ago about her family situation.  Her two married daughters attended Mars Hill Church. They and her sons-in-law were true believers, and when the grandmother expressed concerns about Mark Driscoll, they shunned her and would not allow her to see her grandchildren.

    As siteseer pointed out, the article could be misapplied by some highly controlling church leaders to the detriment of biological families.

  107. Hi Wartburgers,

    Just a note that one of our own here Jeannette Altes is out of groceries and needs
    assistance. She also needs gas for her car. She lost her job and is being treated for a tumor. There is a GoFundMe account that is open for Jeannette.

    Her weekly bills are coming due next week ($450).

    “My immediate needs are food and gas. I am about out of food. August’s bills start coming due in a few days and total $450.
    I am so grateful to all who have been and are willing to help. This past week was proof that little pieces combined add up to enough. Thank you for all you have and are doing. God bless and keep each of you.”
    http://www.gofundme.com/ljahelp

    Other announcements on the Open Discussion thread.

  108. Deb wrote:

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment, a grandmother wrote us several years ago about her family situation.  Her two married daughters attended Mars Hill Church. They and her sons-in-law were true believers, and when the grandmother expressed concerns about Mark Driscoll, they shunned her and would not allow her to see her grandchildren.

    How sad.

    I have heard similar stories from family members about pastor John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Southern California.

    One mother, a born-again Christian of many years, is in a volunteer organization in her community with Catholics. Her daughter, a member of MacArthur’s church, has now shunned her mother for volunteering with Catholics!!! The daughter demanded that the mother stop volunteer work.

    I have seen similar kinds of behavior at my ex-church, also a MacArthur-type franchise.
    My ex-pastor was a graduate of MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary. Many church members
    boycott their own families’ holiday gatherings, etc. because of some relative they think is “in sin”.

  109. Velour wrote:

    I have seen similar kinds of behavior at my ex-church, also a MacArthur-type franchise.
    My ex-pastor was a graduate of MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary. Many church members
    boycott their own families’ holiday gatherings, etc. because of some relative they think is “in sin”.

    How truly sad!

  110. From the OP:

    Churches That Abuse answers these and other important questions about abusive churches and groups that operate in this country – organizations and churches that are not necessarily characterized by doctrinal deviation but have particular traits that make them behavioral and sociological outsiders.”

    I think this hints at a serious blind spot. Abuse is a “doctrinal deviation.”

    We are called to love.

    A lot of boring old mainline churches, for example, are very loving and kind toward members and neighbors–and yet they are written off as has-beens or country clubs or [shudder] liberal, because they ordain women or allow people to wear shorts or choose their own friends.

    We absolutely must talk about red flags, especially here. But how about keeping another question front and center? Here it is:

    Does this church treat people with kindness and love?

  111. One of the little people wrote:

    Mark Tubbs, where all that nonsense about thumbs originated. I’ve seen the fruit of his influence up close. Not good. Never mind that our elders UNANIMOUSLY had decided our pastor should step down. Mark Tubbs declared them without authority.

    I read the Amazon description for Tubbs’s The Five Fingers of God, and watched a short Vimeo video. He says that the five-fold ministry gifts are for the whole Body of Christ and not just the leadership. But you’ve personally experienced the reality of the hierarchy.

    I’m curious. Was this church’s association with the NAR rather recent? I found an article and comments online that talk about how churches don’t go full tilt NAR overnight. It’s done rather subversively, not unlike the way the Neo-Cals take over an SBC church.

  112. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    I have seen similar kinds of behavior at my ex-church, also a MacArthur-type franchise.
    My ex-pastor was a graduate of MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary. Many church members
    boycott their own families’ holiday gatherings, etc. because of some relative they think is “in sin”.
    How truly sad!

    Indeed.

    My sister said she was glad that I finally stood my ground with my ex-pastors/elders and they kicked me out for it. Anyone with a backbone and an ounce of moral courage is a threat to them.

    My sister, and my friends outside of the church too, feared there would come a day when I would never talk to her again because of that church. It truly is cultic and mind control. That’s the kind of enterprise that John MacArthur runs and teaches.

  113. Friend wrote:

    We are called to love.
    A lot of boring old mainline churches, for example, are very loving and kind toward members and neighbors–and yet they are written off as has-beens or country clubs or [shudder] liberal, because they ordain women or allow people to wear shorts or choose their own friends.
    We absolutely must talk about red flags, especially here. But how about keeping another question front and center?

    Yes. We are called to love, the true mark of a “Biblical” church.

    Steve Hassan (therapist/author/cult expert) escaped a cult and used Dr. Robert Jay Lifton’s (psychiatrist) research about Chinese Communist Thought Reform techniques to get conformity and obedience from people, erase their identities. Other oppressive groups use the same techniques.

    https://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php

    The BITE Model
    I. Behavior Control
    II. Information Control
    III. Thought Control
    IV. Emotional Control

    Brad/FuturistGuy, who comments here on TWW, has also written about Dr. Lifton:
    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/the-hunger-games-trilogy-5a/

  114. brian wrote:

    Here is a “barfumentary” about the SBC / Seminary take over, in my opinion, Jesus took a back seat as did most of the faculty and students. Of course Mohler and the other knights of the round table of orthodoxy talk about how they were fighting for God etc. I really try to be sympathetic to how Dr. Mohler and others see things but they make no effort to understand their “opponents” which take on the status of enemies. I still do not get how a Baptist true to their “confession” and history can support reform theology (Calvinism). The fact that they still stand by CJ just undermines their credibility.

    I could not watch much of this. it makes me physically sick as Mohler and his ilk have ruined many lives and helped destroyed a once great denomination.

  115. @ brian:
    Oh.my.word. that video is a horrible puff piece on a tyrant who used nefarious methods to get rid of so many people. Yes people despised him. He was a deceitful liar. And the people he attracted to come to the Seminary where aleays little arrogant tyrants just like him.

    Note how they conveniently leave out that the founders were pro-slavery who served in the Confederate Army.

    Yes, many in the SBC were moving away from the determinist Paradigm of Boyce. After all, God did not determine that they would win the war. Mohler had to dust off the abstract!

    I see they got mega church pastor Bob Russell to extol the virtues of Mohler. The man cannot resist a camera. Mohler always did wine and dine the movers and shakers to affirm his positions. He is very tactical.

    Yes people despised that tyrant. Just go read the story of Paul Debusman and what the power mad Mohler did to that older man near retirement. The example was set: don’t dare disagree with me or any of my friends or you will suffer.

    He has created nothing but dissension and Division. He brought mahaney and Driscoll DNA into the SBC and that sort of evil is now ingrained. The sycophants on that video describe him as courageous. They honestly believe ruining people is courageous.

    Mohler is a scourge on Christendom.

  116. Lydia wrote:

    They honestly believe ruining people is courageous.
    Mohler is a scourge on Christendom.

    Exactly.

    And when I was searching for a *healthy church* Al Mohler, Mark Dever (9Marks organization) wrote with authority that they knew how to have healthy, vibrant churches. If they’d only spelled out in their bios all of the damage they’ve done to Christians, trampling people, disrespecting, treating them to evil…I wouldn’t have ever wasted my time and money on what they wrote. Just despicable people.

  117. @ Lydia:
    Yes Brian. It is indeed a barfumentary. A celebration of throwing many decent people under the bus for personal power using the Name of God. I need to go take a shower

  118. Lydia wrote:

    The sycophants on that video describe him as courageous. They honestly believe ruining people is courageous.

    Mohler is a scourge on Christendom.

    Courageous is not a word I would use to describe mohler. Religious bully is about as generous of a word I would use to describe him.

  119. Max wrote:

    SGM Survivors

    Another flag is to beware of any ministry where the leader self-proclaims himself to be an “Apostle.” (The Apostles were hand-picked by Jesus)

    Excellent comment! I hadn’t thought about it that way before. At Gateway Church, the Elders have unilaterally proclaimed that Jack Hayford, Jimmy Evans and Robert Morris are all modern day Apostles (who possess the same powers as the original 12) and represent the voice of God. They claim that the Holy Spirit has specifically revealed this to them.

    I would like to use your excellent argument about them not being “hand-picked by Jesus” in the future, but I am not sure how to best handle the “God said so via the Holy Spirit, so it’s the same thing” argument. Most of the really bad teachings at Gateway remain unchallenged because Robert Morris claims they are a direct revelation from God. When you challenge Robert’s revelation, members believe that you are in essence “challenging God, Himself” thus reject your statements as blasphemy. But when faced with proof, some eventually come around so this could be an important argument to make.

    Do you Steve240 or any other readers have any suggestions on how to approach this? When I point out that these direct revelation claims are typically adding to the Bible, which is an anathema, some supporters inevitably come up with a vague non-prescriptive scripture to prove that the Bible confirms Morris’ new parable or principle, etc. Does anyone have any specific references regarding this issue of Apostles being hand-picked by Jesus?

    ***PS Deb, Please thank your family for all of us. Your ministry is so important to so many and there really is no substitute for what you are doing. You and Dee are true Missionaries. Thank you!

  120. Velour wrote:

    Wartburgers also noted that Mark Dever has simply released the 1970’s abusive heavy-Shepherding techniques with new terms

    I misread this as “Whataburgers also noted that Mark Dever…” and thought “what, is this like a Chik-Fil-A deal? Food chains getting behind certain Christian causes?

  121. <
    Nancy2 wrote:

    Nancy2 UNITED STATES on Sat Aug 06, 2016 at 03:36 PM said:

    @ Max:
    The kid started out as a figure skater, but changed her sport after she bagged a deer on a family hunting trip. So much for the sparkly, frilly, feminine skating costumes

    Stop making fun of Johnny Weir!

  122. LT wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Wartburgers also noted that Mark Dever has simply released the 1970’s abusive heavy-Shepherding techniques with new terms
    I misread this as “Whataburgers also noted that Mark Dever…” and thought “what, is this like a Chik-Fil-A deal? Food chains getting behind certain Christian causes?

    LOL.

  123. Deb wrote:

    the article could be misapplied by some highly controlling church leaders to the detriment of biological families

    Agreed, authoritarian leaders will twist whatever they need to in order to maintain control. However, when it comes to pastors, the Bible is clear about setting priorities of church family over personal family for shepherds truly called by God to lead a flock. Christ’s first priority, after giving glory to the Father, was the church.

  124. Deb wrote:

    LT wrote:
    Whataburgers
    Sounds like a signature hamburger.
    We could call it a Wartburger. 

    Is it common that burgers in North Carolina are served with chili, coleslaw, and cheese on top of the meat?

  125. LT wrote:

    Does anyone have any specific references regarding this issue of Apostles being hand-picked by Jesus?

    “[His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct]” (Ephesians 4:11 AMP).

    The word “Apostle” is used in the New Testament to indicate a special appointment by Jesus (as in the case of the original 12 Apostles). The word is also used in general terms as “one sent” (such as Paul). In a sense, all Christians are sent as apostles to spread the Good News. But “The Apostles” were chosen by Jesus, were with Him in His ministry, and witnessed His resurrection. Their ministries were accompanied by miracles. Their teachings were authoritative and are still binding on Christians today. There are no Apostles like that in the church today, but millions/billions of apostles are engaged in the Great Commission. It would be inappropriate for a believer to call himself an Apostle (capital “A”), but all believers should be out and about as apostles (little “a”) taking the Good News of Jesus to a lost world. Here am I … send me.

  126. LT wrote:

    Does anyone have any specific references regarding this issue of Apostles being hand-picked by Jesus?

    I did find this from New Advent, which I think may help:
    ” the conditions required by the Apostles in the candidate for the place of Judas Iscariot. “Of the men, therefore, who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto the day He was received up from us, of these must one become a witness with us of His Resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). This narrative, which seems to come from an Aramaic Palestinian source like many other details given in the earlier chapter of Acts, was ancient and cannot be set aside. It is further strengthened by an objection made to St. Paul: because he was called in an extraordinary way to the Apostolate, he was obliged often to vindicate his Apostolic authority and proclaim that he had seen the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1). Instruction and appointment by Jesus were, therefore, the regular conditions for the Apostolate. By way of exception. an extraordinary vocation, as in the case of Paul, or a choice by the Apostolic College, as in the case of Matthias, could suffice. Such an extraordinarily called or elected Apostle could preach Christ’s doctrine and the Resurrection of the Lord as an authoritative witness.”

  127. Max wrote:

    “The Apostles” were chosen by Jesus

    Another word about this. Ephesians 2:20 notes that His Church was built upon the foundation of The Apostles, with Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone. Since that time, Jesus has been building His Church on that foundation – a foundation which has already been laid. No more Apostles (captial “A”) needed for the foundation, but lots of apostles (little “a”) are still being sent into the world with the Good News to continue building His Church. It would be wrong for one to call himself “Apostle C.J.”, for example, since that special appointment was personally handed out by Jesus during His earthly ministry to serve as the foundation for the Church which was launched in the first century and can still be found in the 21st century where believers are found worshiping Him in Spirit and in Truth.

  128. Bill M wrote:

    Can you articulate this more?

    When Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple,” I think he meant if the point came that you had to decide between loyalty to one or the other, i.e., you had to deny Christ to remain loyal to the other.

    The author, however, is making a case based on this verse that the church should take the place of family.

    He begins with a list of a typical Christian’s priorities which he states as

    1. God
    2. My family
    3. God’s family (church)
    4. Others

    (Do people really sit around making lists of priorities like this?)

    However, he then goes on to STATE that God and God’s family (the church) are actually one entity. He states:

    Jesus did not primarily call individuals into a private relationship with him. He calls us to join a movement, to become part of a new family. The notion that loyalty to God could somehow be separated from loyalty to God’s family would have been foreign to Jesus and the early Christians. As third-century theologian Cyprian of Carthage famously said, “He who does not have the church for his mother cannot have God for his Father.”

    I see no Biblical support for these views; I see it quite the opposite.
    He further says:

    Western evangelicals tend to think of Jesus as a personal spiritual trainer with whom we interact one-on-one, leading us to distinguish between loyalty to God and loyalty to God’s family. But for Jesus, the only way to relate to God is within the community of his family. Thus, Jesus’ relational priorities look something like this:

    1. God and his family
    2. My family
    3. Others

    I do not see Jesus listing these “relational priorities” in the Bible. Jesus simply said to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. He gave us the freedom to work that out as we see fit in our own lives.

    I think this author is trying to make the church organization usurp the place of both God AND family in believers’ loyalty, to negate the Christians’ personal conscience, and grant the church leader the authority to direct and control members’ lives.

    I think he is setting people up for spiritual abuse and cult control.
    The church organization does not = Jesus Christ.

  129. @ siteseer:

    This bit bothered me the most. Especially if one has ever read of banished dissidents and such:

    “Jesus did not primarily call individuals into a private relationship with him. He calls us to join a movement, to become part of a new family. ”

    It also bothered me for the same reason it bothers me that Al Mohler insisted on an “s” being added to priesthood of believer in the BFM2K.

    I am in a personal relationship with Christ whether anyone around me is or not. And frankly, in some churches one feels Alone in that anyway.

  130. Lydia wrote:

    It also bothered me for the same reason it bothers me that Al Mohler insisted on an “s” being added to priesthood of believer in the BFM2K.

    I am in a personal relationship with Christ whether anyone around me is or not. And frankly, in some churches one feels Alone in that anyway.

    I agree. When we become Christians we immediately receive the Holy Spirit. Mohler or no one else gets to be my Holy Spirit.

  131. __

    Down The Rabbit Hole: “Promoting A Biblically False Religious Theological System, Perhaps?”

    @ Deb,

    hey,

      The religious systematic doctrinal [foundation] for ‘all’ Calvinist teaching finds it’s source within 16th century theologian John Calvin’s tome:  ‘Institutes Of The Christian Religion’. 

    This in turn finds it’s source (approximately 640 quotes) from the Gnostic writings of 4th century theologian Augustine. 

    Both religious source(s) have been proven scripturally questionable and should be view with caution. 

    John Calvin’s false theological system has continued in it’s promotion for some five hundred years. 

    The ‘Institutes Of The Christian Religion’ promotes scriptural falsehood for all who embrace it’s teachings. 

    You can not embrace the ‘Reformed Faith’ without embracing John Calvin’s Institutes Of The Christian Religion.

    But you can try…

    (To be forewarned is to be forearmed)

    You decide.

    ATB

    Sopy

  132. Speaking of Calvinism…here are some other comments on TWW:

    ““I experienced what you are experiencing when I first looked into the theory of divine determinism. Jerry Walls’ lecture at Evangel University “What’s Wrong With Calvinism?” was of great help in dealing with it. It is on Youtube. Roger Olson has some excellent material on the topic on his blog and the website of the Society of Evangelical Arminians is exceptionally helpful.” – John D on 5/14/15 on TWW”

  133. Recommended by Max on 5/15/16:
    Other good resources on the ails of Calvinism are “What Love is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God” by Dave Hunt and Roger Olson’s “Against Calvinism.”

  134. Max, May 15, 2016:
    Leonard Verduin’s “The Reformers and Their Stepchildren” is a scholarly work that sheds light on the shenanigans of Calvin and his followers and also reveals who the true reformers were … the Anabaptists (the stepchildren).

  135. Posted by Todd W. on May 17, 2016:
    I think it was Brad the futurist guy that recommended a book to me titled “The Shepherding Movement: Controversy and Charismatic Eccliesiolgy” by S. David Moore.
    I am currently reading the book and the similarity between 9Marx and the Shepherding movement is erie. It is almost as if Dever has lifted all the Shepherding concepts and repackaged them for our day.

  136. Todd Wilhelm recommended this book on Sept 8, 2015:

    I highly recommend “Blight In the Vineyard: Exposing the Roots, Myths, and Emotional Torment of Spiritual Tyranny” by John Immel.
    The book was specifically written in response to Immel’s experience in Sovereign Grace churches, specifically Covenant Life Church, but it has broad application to all churches run by a heavy-handed authoritarian pastor. My former 9Marx/Mark Dever type church in Dubai (United Christian Church of Dubai) is in this category.
    http://www.amazon.com/Blight-Vineyard-Exposing-Emotional-Spiritual/dp/0985271310/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441688266&sr=8-1&keywords=blight+in+the+vineyard

  137. Posted by Brad/FutuistGuy on May 23, 2016:
    I thought about some key indicators, and remembered that a lot of them are in the lists for this post I wrote on “Calvinistas” a few years ago. Although Shepherding-type authoritarianism isn’t only in Neo-Calvinist/Neo-Puritan or Pentecostal settings, there is a common paradigm of thinking that always separates things into classes and categories, and that similarity goes far deeper than the doctrinal differences.
    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/calvinistas/
    FWIW, here’s a bullet list of some of the items on those lists, and I’ll leave the descriptions of them over there.
    * Dualism
    * Reductionism
    * Perfectionism
    * Patriarchalism
    * Totalism and Authoritarianism
    * Dominionism
    About the only other thing I think I’d add to this is something having to do with the ways these groups tend to “collaborate.” If they engage in ministry partnerships at all, it’s like to be where there is high overlap on those other essential approaches to thinking processes, systems, personal growth or behavior modification, authority and subservience, and stance toward culture. And the rest of the churches-theologians-Christians are labeled as either non-gospel, heretical, etc.

  138. From Max on Sept 4, 2015:

    For folks desiring to get your heads around TWW comments pertaining to the ails of reformed theology (Calvinism), I recommend a couple of books pertaining to the essential tenets of Calvinism and its 21st century progeny, “New” Calvinism, that is causing so much trouble in Christian ranks. Both are scholarly works, but written in a way that you can grasp the problem and begin to see it being manifested where you live … no doubt about it, New Calvinism is coming to a church near you!
    “What Love is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God” by Dave Hunt
    http://www.amazon.com/What-Love-This-Calvinisms-Misrepresentation/dp/1928660126/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1441373495&sr=8-3&keywords=What+love+is+this%3F+dave+hunt
    “Against Calvinism” by Roger Olson
    http://www.amazon.com/Against-Calvinism-Roger-E-Olson/dp/031032467X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441373730&sr=8-1&keywords=Against+Calvinism+roger+olson
    One of the first articles that caught my attention about “New Calvinism” continues to be a good read on the subject, even if it is becoming dated a bit on the who’s-who of the current movement (TWW is doing a fine job flagging some of the new folks on the scene and problems associated with their ministries). You can find the article at:
    “Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback—and shaking up the church” by Collin Hansen
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/september/42.32.html

  139. siteseer wrote:

    1. God and his family
    2. My family
    3. Others

    I do not see Jesus listing these “relational priorities” in the Bible. Jesus simply said to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. He gave us the freedom to work that out as we see fit in our own lives.

    You make much more sense than the Hellerman. The idea of living life by a list of priorities speaks of legalism

  140. Max’s comment from Aug 16, 2015:

    “Education does not produce one ounce of revelation. Flesh controls New Calvinism, not the Spirit. Just a bunch of flesh babies rebelling against the way their parents do church. Intellectual, but not very smart. They pride themselves on being reformed, but have not been transformed by the love of Christ.”

  141. Thanks, folks, for letting me share the insights and research here from other threads about NeoCalvinism.

    It is a very dangerous teaching.

  142. Deb wrote:

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment, a grandmother wrote us several years ago about her family situation. Her two married daughters attended Mars Hill Church. They and her sons-in-law were true believers, and when the grandmother expressed concerns about Mark Driscoll, they shunned her and would not allow her to see her grandchildren.

    We know who the married daughters accepted as their REAL Personal LORD and Savior, don’t we?

  143. brian wrote:

    Here is a “barfumentary” about the SBC / Seminary take over, in my opinion, Jesus took a back seat as did most of the faculty and students.

    For they have a Final Prophet who is later & greater than Jesus: CALVIN.
    And his Koran, the Institutes.

  144. mot wrote:

    Max wrote:

    He smiled and walked away.

    I’m sure it was an arrogant and smug smile. These guys have no fear of God!

    Why should they?
    What can God do to them?
    They are the Predestined Elect, with personal Get-Out-of-Hell-Free cards signed by God before the foundation of the world!

  145. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I’m curious. Was this church’s association with the NAR rather recent? I found an article and comments online that talk about how churches don’t go full tilt NAR overnight. It’s done rather subversively, not unlike the way the Neo-Cals take over an SBC church.

    Been There Done That, the NAR does indeed come in surreptitiously. They claim they are not a denomination, but only about relationships; however, they are a pyramid scheme with the apostles and prophets on top, hearing and implementing the Word of God. Under regional apostles and prophets are smaller churches and so on. Our church was and still is Assemblies of God, but AG takes a very hands off approach to local churches and the NAR is spreading through AG churches like wildfire. Unless you understand what they are talking about when they speak of “transformation” and “taking back dominion” and the “Seven Mountains”, you can miss their influence until it’s too late. I had serious issues with C Peter Wagner, the founder of the Nee Apostolic Reformation, for years, so I was dismayed to find out, by going on the Harvest International Ministries (NAR organization) that my church was a member and at the same time, Mark Tubbs came in to “help” our leadership crisis. The church is now unapologetically NAR.

  146. A bit of a personal moment when I was deep in the church those lists people talk about were quite common. The lists of priorities for a true fully involved Christ follower. The one preached one was God the Church (leadership in obedience) equal to that was the Bible, fellow followers of Christ, self (walk with Christ) then earthly family if they did not make you stumble. The one not preached on but often shoved down a person’s soul was God and the doctrines we hold true especially eschatology and ecclesiology / church polity. The Headship of the family / leadership no women preachers. Anything to do with sex outside of whatever the leadership said was ok. The constant fear of being excommunicated and a total fear of God taking you out like he did in Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphira or if need be the many other places God takes people out in the OT and the Book of Rev. Deep in my heart of hearts this is how I always took my relationships with my church family and my human family

    https://youtu.be/9PM6uX4yGp4

    My human family saw this as a strength though we did not discuss it much, my church family, to be honest. It was seen as a vile man pleasing weakness and it made people ill.

    That probably hurts the most of all. Still does. This is exactly how I felt about my sister as well.

  147. siteseer wrote:

    Very timely article. If possible, read this article by Joseph Hellerman that was posted on the Aug. 6 CHRISTIANITY TODAY site. RED FLAG #5 Lifestyle Rigidity?
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/august-web-only/if-our-families-are-more-important-than-our-churches-we-nee.html

    I saw that on a Christian Post email to me today. I found it deeply upsetting and it triggered the “God is angry with me because I don’t attend church regularly” feeling big time. I want to blast this dreadful man to kingdom come. Plus I am cancelling my subscription to CT. I am not paying money to a magazine that publishes such evil nonsense. Bleugh.

  148. I’ve found another “mark” to look out for is the use of the word “distinctives” in relationship to a church’s or ministry’s statement of beliefs. Here’s an example from the church Velour left: http://www.gbfsv.org/our-ministry-distinctives.

    John MacArthur’s website (gty.org) has a list of doctrinal distinctives. I don’t know why churches and ministries need to be “distinctive.” Distinct from what?

  149. Velour wrote:

    I think the blame is theirs alone and not even the Deceiver’s. They do it because they want to.

    Never blame on Satan what can be explained by simple bigotry.

  150. mot wrote:

    agree. When we become Christians we immediately receive the Holy Spirit. Mohler or no one else gets to be my Holy Spirit.

    The first mediatior between God and humans was the serpent.

  151. siteseer wrote:

    O.M.G. This is an extremely troubling article, it’s an invitation to abuse!

    My thoughts exactly. Not sure how that one slipped past the CT editors.

  152. Lydia wrote:

    He has created nothing but dissension and Division. He brought mahaney and Driscoll DNA into the SBC and that sort of evil is now ingrained. The sycophants on that video describe him as courageous. They honestly believe ruining people is courageous.

    I couldn’t agree more. And the “doctrinal purity” that Mohler pursues is just a tool toward the greater end, which is power and control.

  153. Sopwith wrote:

    The ‘Institutes Of The Christian Religion’ promotes scriptural falsehood for all who embrace it’s teachings. 

    Frankly, I don’t care whether one is this or that or the other. Jesus said “You will know them by their fruits.” One thing is certain – the “fruit” of the Neo-Cal movement is rotten.

  154. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    He has created nothing but dissension and Division. He brought mahaney and Driscoll DNA into the SBC and that sort of evil is now ingrained. The sycophants on that video describe him as courageous. They honestly believe ruining people is courageous.

    I couldn’t agree more. And the “doctrinal purity” that Mohler pursues is just a tool toward the greater end, which is power and control.

    The following quote was used by an Association several years ago when a member church dared to call a Woman and the church was disfellowshipped. “Restoration to doctrinal purity and a renewed sense of unity in the churches of our Association were our goals. Unity must always be one of our highest priorities; but it must never eclipse the priority of doctrinal purity.”

    Wonder where the writers if this came up with this statement?

  155. I do not believe in modern day “apostles”

    In Acts 1:21 (NLT)
    “So now we must chose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus-from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”

    The requirement of an apostle is to be an EYEWITNESS of Jesus’ ministry and resurrection.

  156. Ken F wrote:

    I’ve found another “mark” to look out for is the use of the word “distinctives” in relationship to a church’s or ministry’s statement of beliefs. Here’s an example from the church Velour left: http://www.gbfsv.org/our-ministry-distinctives.
    John MacArthur’s website (gty.org) has a list of doctrinal distinctives. I don’t know why churches and ministries need to be “distinctive.” Distinct from what?

    Thanks for putting that up, Ken F., about my former church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley located in California.

    Here are what a couple of other posters here recently said about my ex-church’s documents:

    “Bill M:
    “BTW, I looked over the website of your former church, their resources page reads as a veritable who’s who of nefarious organizations discussed here. I also note that least half the elders are staff, this inverts the accountability and put way too much power in the hands of the pastor. The preface of their statement of faith gives me the shivers and don’t get me started on their membership covenant.”

    “Jack:
    “Just went to the website of this church. The membership contract is a vague rip from Purpose Driven Life but the bylaws are the meat & potatoes!
    In short, this corporation has no members. Members abrogate their rights upon signing the contract.
    Just reading the bylaws lights up every warning alarm on the TWW checklist of what to look for in an abusive church. http://www.gbfsv.org/by-laws
    No doubt new attendees are love bombed before they read the fine print.
    You should write this up as a case study of churches to stay away from.
    It would be interesting to know how you became involved. “

    ****************************
    And an older comment from a poster here about Matthew 18:15-17, from another thread,
    that fits my ex-church’s pastors/elders’ authoritarianism:

    “Jeff T:
    Matthew 18
    God I’m sick of hearing this from fascist church leaders. They NEVER use it to engage in a Spirit-filled discussion of resolving differences. It’s ALWAYS used as an instrument of oppression. Whenever someone in their church raises an issue they don’t want discussed, they stand up and shout “Matthew 18!, Matthew 18!”, the person raising the issue is then hustled off to a backroom and subjected to a process worthy of a Chinese Communist reeducation camp. They are told they are wrong, not on the basis of anything having to do with the issue itself, but because they are refusing to submit to authority, they are being divisive, ergo they are sinners and must repent and if they don’t, they are subjected to “church discipline”, meaning they are shunned and harassed.”

  157. @ brian:
    “This is how I felt about my sister as well.”

    Brian,
    Wow! Thank-you for that wonderful youtube resource! This is exactly what Jesus wants of us…to be His Ekklesia, called out ones every day. God Bless you richly with His Love.

  158. Lydia wrote:

    I am in a personal relationship with Christ whether anyone around me is or not. And frankly, in some churches one feels Alone in that anyway.

    Lydia, I was young and now am old. I find it increasingly difficult to find spiritual fellowship … in church! My wife and I visited an SBC church recently and attended Sunday School there. After 20 minutes of worldly chatter, the “teacher” embarked on the lesson from 1 Samuel. There was so much Truth in that passage which needed to be discussed, but it was reduced to a narrative that did not resemble its inspired intent. I offered a few comments on the Scripture, but was looked at like I was an alien from outer space. The folks around me were amazed that I had underlined Scripture in my old Bible! I felt like a trapped animal and couldn’t wait for the “Bible Study” to end. And we wonder why Southern Baptists have been blind-sided by New Calvinism? They are easy picins’ in their current spiritual condition. A “People of the Word” don’t read it much these days.

  159. mot wrote:

    Mohler or no one else gets to be my Holy Spirit.

    Ahhhh … but if you believe, as Southern Baptists once did, in the priesthood of the believer and soul competency, the New Calvinists can’t control what you hear. As you note, the Holy Spirit is sent into the lives of believers to lead them to all Truth … man is a weak substitute. That’s why Jesus warned us not to forsake the commandments of God for the teachings and traditions of men.

  160. mot wrote:

    Wonder where the writers if this came up with this statement?

    History. It is chock full of similar sentiment from the church state, USSR to Germany, China, N.Korea, Cambodia and on and on.

  161. @ butterfly:
    A lot of folks contend that Paul replaced Judas –just much later. The whole issue begs the question: why is this so important?

    Unless one believes in Apostolic succession….

    Which seems weird to me.

  162. Lydia wrote:

    @ Velour:
    These are great!

    Aren’t they, Lydia?

    I’m like a squirrel. I stash the really good *nuts* on the Interesting tab/Books,Movies, etc. tab.

    H.U.G. recently discovered my secret stash over there. I told him it was “valuable real estate” and the only place I could think of to store our gems.

  163. @ Max:
    I can’t do it anymore. I finally got over that. Now am ok with it.

    It’s Sunday Morning and already had call from friend of former church with yet another question about a bad/strange experience that involves teaching/questionable behavior.

    It really takes people a lot of time to wrap their heads around what they are seeing and experiencing. And this person is more common sense oriented than most.

    See, you saw the problem. Most people would not ever question it.

    These churches want Lemmings not thinkers.

  164. Bill M wrote:

    “Agents of Damage” in toxic systems and these particular agents he has labeled Silencers, Diverters, and Negators. In my case these people were real, with names and faces.

    Glad that chart was helpful, Bill M. I think you’ll find the updated version intriguing, and maybe it will help interpret other facets of your experiences. I’ve split into two categories the “Functionaries” who implement on the “Pawns” the will of the “dictator leader(s)” of the authorititarian system: Extinguishers and Reinforcers. Here’s an excerpt from the updated info I’ve written about them:

    Functionaries act as good cop Reinforcers of what’s considered “right,” and bad cop Extinguishers of what’s considered “wrong.” (Sometimes one person can alternate between both roles.) Everything Functionaries do corrodes the Pawns’ ability to discern for themselves, connect with others the way they want, and be who the believe they’re designed to be in their identity.

    In their role as Reinforcers, functionaries ensure that Pawn people follow what the authoritarian system dictates that they MUST say [Prompters], MUST do [Drill Instructors], and MUST be [Validators]. They do this by rewarding acts of obedience.

    As Extinguishers, they ensure that Pawn people DO NOT exhibit what the system dictates they CANNOT say [Silencers], CANNOT do [Diverters], and CANNOT be [Negators]. They do this by punishing lack of conformity.

    Obedience leads to rewards (this is called positive conditioning or positive grooming). Infractions result in punishment (negative conditioning/grooming) and perhaps even public exposure of “sins” and/or expulsion from the system (shunning, discipline) for failure to conform. These are typical tactics used to trap Pawn people in the system. Either type of conditioning can make it harder for Pawns to leave. […]

  165. Lydia wrote:

    @ Velour:
    Take a screenshot. I have seen bad reviews removed from Google and Amazon by the tyrannical “Christians”.

    I already did that!

    My ex-church has gotten my other YELP reviews taken down. So far YELP hasn’t taken this one down.

    My ex-church also got my Amazon customer review priviledges terminated, after I gave negative reviews about my ex-pastor’s books (which I had bought previously) and
    discussed the excommunication and shunnings at the church, including the good doctor.

    So I wrote the CEO of Amazon a letter about Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders many abuses against scores of people, what they did to the doctor, to
    me, to others, the Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer whom they gave access to other peoples’ kids to without notifying all parents and church members, and that I’d been an Amazon customer for decades and spent thousands of dollars there.

    The CEO of Amazon restored my customer review privileges!

  166. Thanks to everyone who’s taking the time to research this issue. Much goes on behind the Sunday service that many church attendees are not aware of until they are in too deep.

    Most of the methods used by abusive churches also apply to non-christian cults and cult like organizations.

    2 books that I read that explained the psychology of cults were Willa Appelt’s “Cults in America” – a book that was recommended by a co-worker whose brother had been involved in a cult. It is unfortunately out of print but I found a copy in my local library.

    Also Margaret Thaler Singer “Cults in our Midst” was a good read that explained how people can get caught up in cults.

    I think there are 2 important fallacies,

    1) That people involved are somehow not bright or easily led. Naive and uneducated.
    2) That it could never happen to me.

    Both these books blow those misunderstandings right out of the water.

    When I was in university, I was invited to a bible study with what was called “University Bible Fellowship”. I thought I would go out of curiosity. I had heard they were a “cult” but fell into the “I’m so smart, it would never happen to me” category.

    My roommate relayed how his former roommate got involved with that group by having the same attitude. He told me that these groups are masters at controlling techniques and his former roommate (star hockey player, good student) wound up living at the group’s house, working at a convenience store, shunning his family and friends. I always consider that a close call and am grateful that someone cared enough not to see me go down that same path.

    That is much like what I see here and one of the biggest boons of the internet.

    I read Dr. Enroth’s book 2 years ago and though nearly 25 years old, it still reads as fresh today.

    Peace

  167. Velour wrote:

    My ex-church has gotten my other YELP reviews taken down.

    I voted your review helpful. I’m glad you got a screenshot. Lydia is right.

    I got a screenshot of a negative TripAdvisor review on my former church before it was taken down. I’m glad I did. I wish I had archived the page on the Wayback Machine or Archive dot is. But I’ve learned something from Christa Brown’s Stop Baptist Predators blog. She actually prints out the page and scans it into a pdf. It’s brilliant! You can’t depend on something on the Interwebs existing forever, even the archival websites. So, Christa just links to the pdf. It doesn’t matter if a news story gets taken down. She’s got it.

  168. Lydia wrote:

    @ Velour:
    Way to go. Most people don’t bother going through the restoration process.

    I don’t back down to bullies/losers like my ex-pastors/elders. I am very bold and
    tenacious, which they weren’t expecting.

    For the pastors/elders’ most recent email to church members about me — saying I was mentally ill and ALL of the police departments supposedly said that about me,
    that I was bothering members by calling them (never have), texting them (another
    lie and never have), emailing them (another lie and never have), I sent that email
    (which insiders at the church send me the emails) to ALL of the police departments,
    the district attorney, the San Jose Mercury News (our large newspaper here),
    the womens’ groups that deal with domestic violence, etc. (they are well funded
    in Silicon Valley, well-organized and have attorneys on staff). Now my ex-pastors/elders
    are really in trouble. Because they made all of these law enforcement agencies
    look bad before the district attorney, the major newspaper, and the womens’ groups.

    Once before, years ago, I was beaten up by some guy (a stranger) in broad daylight and robbed. I was so ticked off by the court process and what was done to victims that I changed California law in the legislature, got an entire program passed in to law.
    It took me four years of hard work. But now thousands of victims are protected every year.

  169. Lydia wrote:

    These churches want Lemmings not thinkers.

    And we know what happens to lemmings eventually!

    Your comment upstream “I am in a personal relationship with Christ whether anyone around me is or not” should frame every believer’s approach to ‘religion’. Most of the New Calvinist mumbo-jumbo follows a gotcha debate format, where Biblical text is taken out of context. Anyone who is a good student of the Bible can see right through their schemes. Someone once said that “A man with a personal experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” Genuine believers in Christ who walk and talk their faith have a defense against the aberrations of New Calvinism … the Holy Spirit within you will flag what is wrong in their teachings. We hear the Spirit speaking in comments on TWW.

  170. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    My ex-church has gotten my other YELP reviews taken down.
    I voted your review helpful. I’m glad you got a screenshot. Lydia is right.
    I got a screenshot of a negative TripAdvisor review on my former church before it was taken down. I’m glad I did. I wish I had archived the page on the Wayback Machine or Archive dot is. But I’ve learned something from Christa Brown’s Stop Baptist Predators blog. She actually prints out the page and scans it into a pdf. It’s brilliant! You can’t depend on something on the Interwebs existing forever, even the archival websites. So, Christa just links to the pdf. It doesn’t matter if a news story gets taken down. She’s got it.

    Thanks for voting for my YELP review as “helpful” about my ex-church, Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley.

    I did save my YELP page review in the Wayback Machine and some other relevant webpages
    too about Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley.

  171. Jack wrote:

    I think there are 2 important fallacies,

    1) That people involved are somehow not bright or easily led. Naive and uneducated.
    2) That it could never happen to me.

    Both these books blow those misunderstandings right out of the water.

    Everybody’s got some kind of susceptibilities to being drawn in by self-serving people in systems of control. They need new people in order to keep their system going, and they know how to exploit our susceptibilities — whether those happen to be strengths-gifts-service or weaknesses-flaws-temptations. I’ve been in systems that controlled people precisely because they appeal to those who are “smart” by using a highly intellectual theology. I’ve been in systems that controlled people by “love bombing” that exploited peoples’ felt need for friendship.

    Which is not blaming the victim, just saying that we’re human and that those who are corrupt will find whatever ways they can to exploit us for their own purposes.

  172. Ken F wrote:

    John MacArthur’s website (gty.org) has a list of doctrinal distinctives. I don’t know why churches and ministries need to be “distinctive.” Distinct from what?

    While appreciating that your question was probably rhetorical (in that you could offer some well-founded answers yourself!) I think this is worth picking up.

    The answer is in most (perhaps nearly all) cases, distinct from other Christians and in particular, distinct from the other “denominations” with whom we compete for food and territory, or else distinct from the “other churches” in our town, with whom we compete for converts. I suppose in principle it could be about distinguishing oneself from secular culture; but it usually isn’t.

    Why one would want to be distinct from other believers is another matter.

  173. Velour wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    @ Velour:
    Way to go. Most people don’t bother going through the restoration process.
    I don’t back down to bullies/losers like my ex-pastors/elders. I am very bold and
    tenacious, which they weren’t expecting.
    For the pastors/elders’ most recent email to church members about me — saying I was mentally ill and ALL of the police departments supposedly said that about me,
    that I was bothering members by calling them (never have), texting them (another
    lie and never have), emailing them (another lie and never have), I sent that email
    (which insiders at the church send me the emails) to ALL of the police departments,
    the district attorney, the San Jose Mercury News (our large newspaper here),
    the womens’ groups that deal with domestic violence, etc. (they are well funded
    in Silicon Valley, well-organized and have attorneys on staff). Now my ex-pastors/elders
    are really in trouble. Because they made all of these law enforcement agencies
    look bad before the district attorney, the major newspaper, and the womens’ groups.
    Once before, years ago, I was beaten up by some guy (a stranger) in broad daylight and robbed. I was so ticked off by the court process and what was done to victims that I changed California law in the legislature, got an entire program passed in to law.
    It took me four years of hard work. But now thousands of victims are protected every year.

    Additional note, my ex-senior pastor at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley
    has a SERIOUS credibility problems. His *Ph.D.* (normal ones from bona fide universities take 8-years to earn) is from a diploma mill in Missouri with no accreditation.
    Cost? $299. A job he claimed he had as a children’s pastor at John MacArthur’s church, MacArthur said is a lie and my ex-pastor was “never on staff” and “ONLY” a volunteer, like scores of other volunteers.

    A teaching credential my ex-pastor claimed to have, he claimed before us that he had “defended the Gospel before hostile liberals” at a state university in Southern California, the State of California Teacher Credentialing supervisors said is a lie.

  174. Max wrote:

    Someone once said that “A man with a personal experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”

    It might have been Chesterton, based on the evidence of his poem ‘The Convert’:
    “After one moment when I bowed my head
    And the whole world turned over and came upright,
    And I came out where the old road shone white,
    I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
    Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
    Being not unlovable but strange and light;
    Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
    But softly, as men smile about the dead.

    The sages have a hundred maps to give
    That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
    They rattle reason out through many a sieve
    That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
    And all these things are less than dust to me
    Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

    (G.K. Chesterton)

  175. @ Jack:
    Jack, you are wise beyond your years just for realizing this:

    “Much goes on behind the Sunday service that many church attendees are not aware of until they are in too deep.”

  176. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    The answer is in most (perhaps nearly all) cases, distinct from other Christians and in particular, distinct from the other “denominations” with whom we compete for food and territory, or else distinct from the “other churches” in our town, with whom we compete for converts. I suppose in principle it could be about distinguishing oneself from secular culture; but it usually isn’t.

    That’s exactly what I was thinking when I posed the question.

  177. @ Velour:

    Mentally ill, emotionally unstable, etc is a typical tactic. Usually said with a sad face and feigning concern. Not new. The Soviets used it all the time on dissidents.

    I advise people to go after them for this if they find out about it. I have seen it too much.and it works. Such a label demands a clinical evaluation. Why is it important? Because they are using their title, position and gravitas to label you. And that could be a problem in the future out of nowhere. It demands a public retraction.

    The only way to stop this stuff is to take it seriously.

  178. Ken F wrote:

    I don’t know why churches and ministries need to be “distinctive.”

    I though the distinctive was to be known for our love, how silly of me.

  179. One of the little people wrote:

    Unless you understand what they are talking about when they speak of “transformation” and “taking back dominion” and the “Seven Mountains”, you can miss their influence until it’s too late.

    I am so sorry. The situation with the NAR spreading through the AG churches needs more coverage. The Wartburg Watch did write some about it here. You can read that some of the commenters had experience with it.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/11/21/what-is-the-new-apostolic-reformation-nar/

  180. Lydia wrote:

    @ Velour:
    Mentally ill, emotionally unstable, etc is a typical tactic. Usually said with a sad face and feigning concern. Not new. The Soviets used it all the time on dissidents.
    I advise people to go after them for this if they find out about it. I have seen it too much.and it works. Such a label demands a clinical evaluation. Why is it important? Because they are using their title, position and gravitas to label you. And that could be a problem in the future out of nowhere. It demands a public retraction.
    The only way to stop this stuff is to take it seriously.

    Indeed, Lydia. My ex-pastors/elders are threatened so what else are they going to do?
    As the old saying goes, “Lying is like a boomerang. About the time you think ‘all is well’ it hits you in the back of the head.”

    They are just furious that I have turned them in for so many things to so many agencies, including to the California Medical Board for the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine, a crime in my state which can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor.

    The pastors/elders believe in Nouthetic Counseling, that the Bible is sufficient for all things. They have no training, education, and licensing and cross over the line into practicing medicine, highly regulated in my state and a crime.

    The pastors/elders repeatedly blamed me for the memory problems of a woman church member with Dyslexia who accused me of lying about events saying that they had never happened.
    Dyslexia isn’t just a reading problem, but a memory problem — all of which she has (short-term memory problems, working memory problems, auditory memory problems). She has been medically diagnosed with this since childhood, can’t work because of it, gets a monthly disability check from the Social Security Administration (she had to medically qualify by a doctor for that and has received it for decades), and refuses to get medical care for her memory problems and be in special disability groups. She says “Jesus could cure [her] if He wanted to.” Yes, He could, but He hasn’t. Kick it in gear, lady, and use what Jesus DID give you.

    The pastors/elders said I was to blame. Calls to my home. Demands for meetings about my “sin” and these terrible things I had done to this woman.

    OK, this is a genetically inherited brain disorder and I didn’t cause it and I can’t control it. I’m not responsible for her problems. The pastors/elders told hundreds of people what a liar I was and to never speak to me again.

    And that has now landed them on the radar of the California Medical Board for practicing medicine without a license. (Think my ex-pastor’s $299 “Ph.D.” from a diploma mill in Missouri and not 8-years of work from a bona fide university, will get him a California medical license?)

    Those pastors/elders at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley are a piece of work!
    They also think they are above our laws, doing business in a state with some of the toughest laws in the nation.

    ****
    rant over.

  181. Debi Calvet wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    The CEO of Amazon restored my customer review privileges!
    I love this! Good for you!

    Thanks, Debi.

    A woman I know who is married to a recovering alcoholic told me once, “I wasn’t just a doormat that had ‘WELCOME’ written on me, I was WALL-TO-WALL CARPETING!”

    That’s what my ex-pastors/elders like in women. Doormats. Wall-to-wall carpeting. Too bad.

  182. Velour wrote:

    CEO of Amazon restored my customer review privileges!

    Again, CEO of Amazon has more sense than church hierarchy.

  183. @ Lydia:
    I can see it now: Velour, Lydia, and Nancy2 comprising the (church) crime-fighting trio “Not Calvin’s Angels.”

  184. Max wrote:

    Most of the New Calvinist mumbo-jumbo follows a gotcha debate format, where Biblical text is taken out of context. Anyone who is a good student of the Bible can see right through their schemes.

    It’s not just the neo-cal movement. Calvary Chapel had it down to a polished art form long before there even was a neo-cal faction. Humans are born with a desire to belong, to have a place somewhere, one they can call their own, and in some cases, even if it means throwing caution to the wind.

  185. Debi Calvet wrote:

    @ Lydia:
    I can see it now: Velour, Lydia, and Nancy2 comprising the (church) crime-fighting trio “Not Calvin’s Angels.”

    I’m thinking this would make a mighty fine t-shirt for the online store at Pound Sand Ministries (TM).

    We will be holding our first cook-out, camp-out, and sharp-shooting contest (slaying Patriarchy books) in 2017 in Kentucky where Nancy2 lives. We will tweet pictures
    to the boyz at Council on Biblical Manhood Womanhood, dressed in our subversive
    t-shirts and leggings/yoga pants — which burns them up to no end at CBMW.

  186. Bill M wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    CEO of Amazon restored my customer review privileges!
    Again, CEO of Amazon has more sense than church hierarchy.

    Indeed.

  187. Velour wrote:

    t-shirts and leggings/yoga pants — which burns them up to no end at CBMW.

    oh DOES it? I’ll trade my work shirt and boyfriend jeans in for T’s and leggings at Walmart first thing Monday OR I’ll order a T with the logo “Velour, Lydia, and Nancy Two: Not Calvin’s Angels” on it 🙂

  188. brian wrote:

    https://youtu.be/9PM6uX4yGp4

    My human family saw this as a strength though we did not discuss it much, my church family, to be honest. It was seen as a vile man pleasing weakness and it made people ill.

    That probably hurts the most of all. Still does. This is exactly how I felt about my sister as well.

    What a great video! It really touched my heart. Your sister is lucky to have a brother who feels that way about her.

    When a church can call love vile, something is very wrong. If they call love weakness, how can they understand Christ?

  189. Christiane wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    t-shirts and leggings/yoga pants — which burns them up to no end at CBMW.
    oh DOES it? I’ll trade my work shirt and boyfriend jeans in for T’s and leggings at Walmart first thing Monday OR I’ll order a T with the logo “Velour, Lydia, and Nancy Two: Not Calvin’s Angels” on it

    Oh yes, leggings/yoga pants are the subject of blogs, tweets, discussions about
    not being “feminine”.

    I’ll have to set up the official PSM store.

  190. mot wrote:

    Wonder where the writers if this came up with this statement?

    Chairman Mao, I believe…

  191. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I am so sorry. The situation with the NAR spreading through the AG churches needs more coverage.

    You are correct the influence of the NAR in AG churches needs more coverage. According to their leadership (they are dishonest when they say there is none), close to all of the AG churches in Australia are now NAR. This was stated from the pulpit of my former church. I was never able to find any statistics on this claim, however. The NAR is a pyramid with smaller churches and ministries in an apostolic network paying an offering that is a covenant between the ministry and the apostle (found a copy of this document on the HMI – Harvest Ministry Institute – website).

    The use of the word alignment is another of those words that sounds benign, but is not. Wagner has several articles on Charisma Magazine. In one of the more recent, he discusses the religious spirit in churches. The NAR is the new wineskins and those who oppose it are the old and evidencing a religious spirit at work. Alignment with the apostle must be in place for the Body to function properly, just as a human body out of alignment cannot function, so too in the church (the metaphor of a broken bone is used a lot). You can see the danger in all of this bad theology: if anyone disagrees, they are demonized, an old wineskin (remember what Jesus had to say about those), and they are holding the institution back from the great things God wants to do. Couple this with the teaching that the apostle has all the authority and is getting direct revelation from God, and you have a major problem.

    There is very little focus on Jesus and much focus on the person’s potential. I believe this deception is used to draw people in. Everyone in the NAR is a world changer and agent of transformation, able to do greater things. The foundation of a church being established on Christ is subtly eroded until the man made foundation of the NAR is all that is left. I was in the leadership of my former church and watched all of this up close.

    Many of the stars of the NAR, Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker, the Banovs, Mark Tubbs, Brian Simmons, the writer of the Passion Bible, Ché Ahn, Ed Silvoso, came to our church, some of them multiple times. I have seen and heard what they have to offer and it is not good. There is a lot of money involved. Heidi Baker was paid $10,000 for speaking at two services and we were one of two churches she ministered at that weekend.

  192. Ken F wrote:

    I’ve found another “mark” to look out for is the use of the word “distinctives” in relationship to a church’s or ministry’s statement of beliefs. Here’s an example from the church Velour left: http://www.gbfsv.org/our-ministry-distinctives.

    John MacArthur’s website (gty.org) has a list of doctrinal distinctives. I don’t know why churches and ministries need to be “distinctive.” Distinct from what?

    From those other loser churches that aren’t doing it right, I guess…

    One of their “distinctives” is that the Bible is “perspicuous.” I had to look that up and refresh my memory. It means “clearly expressed and easily understood.”

    Other red flags that belie the parts about love and nurturing: Biblical counseling, elder shepherding, Biblical church discipline, a sense of urgency…

  193. It doesn’t matter the temporary and shallow ‘victories’ of money-gain by these greedy charlatans. What matters is they take advantage of innocent people and bring harm on the ones they can bully.

    But groups like TWW are changing things. It’s not going to be so easy for creeps to prey on innocents as long as watchful eyes focus on them and their shenanigans, and report this to the whole Church. This IS a ministry of care and empathy and eventually, in some cases, of justice.

    The Church can only benefit when good people do stand up for what is right. The Church can only be a true sanctuary when evil people are not allowed to use the Church as a crucible to torment innocents.

    In time, I hope to see the tormented women in the neo-Cal Churches begin to say ‘enough’, ‘this is not Christianity’, ‘this is wrong’, ‘this is harmful’;

    and I think groups like TWW will be there for them when they listen to their hearts and promptings of the Holy Spirit to seek the Light and turn away from the Darkness.

  194.   __

    “Trapped perpetually ‘Inside’ When The 501(c)3 ‘Religious Darkness’ ™ Comes, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Max,

    hey,

      The average local church population, as I recall, is about seventy folk.  This is made up of a community of local believers ‘voluntarily’ setting aside time each week for the Word of God, worship, song, and a bit O’ hardy healthy fellowship.

    Is a 501(c)3 religious church establishment now become more important than one’s family as Hellerman says?

    Joseph Hellerman apparently ‘implies’ in his article that it is idolatry(R) to place your family in priority before the 501(c)3 church establishment. [1]

    What kind of nonsense is that? 

    It is families of Christian believers that make up the local community 501(c)3 church. Participation is a free will commitment and quite voluntary in this country, the last time I checked. What is wrong with this picture?

    Has the local 501(c)3 church establishment been turned farther into a strange toxic nightmare where you truly can not ‘check out’? Slaves to a credentialed greedy 501(c)3 church ruling elite? These credentialed professional 501(c)3 ‘religious’ men can not even safeguard our children from the sexual wolves in their midsts that would prey upon them.

    In a 501(c)3 Christian church establishment ‘now’ no one can hear you ‘scream’ ?

    (Sadface)

    Furthermore, church is not about ‘human priority’, it is about faith in Jesus Christ.

    “Where two or more are gathered together in My name, I am in their midst.”  -Jesus

    ATB

    Sopy
    __
    [1]  “Our Priorities Are Off When Family Is More Important Than Church”; Jesus’ focus was on the family of God, not the biological family. ; Joseph Hellerman/ CT AUGUST 4, 2016
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/august-web-only/if-our-families-are-more-important-than-our-churches-we-nee.html?start=1

  195. The Low Sparrow wrote:

    I saw that on a Christian Post email to me today. I found it deeply upsetting and it triggered the “God is angry with me because I don’t attend church regularly” feeling big time. I want to blast this dreadful man to kingdom come. Plus I am cancelling my subscription to CT. I am not paying money to a magazine that publishes such evil nonsense. Bleugh.

    Good for you Sparrow! Sounds like you’ve had your own Neo/Mr. Anderson unplugging experience. Many of us have realized that their god has way more in common with the gods of the Egyptians and the gods of the Canaanites, and that the God of Abraham isn’t anything like them.

  196. @ The Low Sparrow:

    Is that in regards to this from CT:

    “Our Priorities Are Off When Family Is More Important Than Church”
    “Jesus’ focus was on the family of God, not the biological family.”
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/august-web-only/if-our-families-are-more-important-than-our-churches-we-nee.html

    I did not take their article the same way I’ve seen it received by so many others this past week.

    I am a never-married, childless adult who feels marginalized and ignored by most churches and by Christian culture because they do care way too much about the nuclear family.

    The article is absolutely correct that too many Christians place their biological family above their spiritual family – other Christians – which leaves people like me, with mostly dead family or uncaring living family, with no where to turn.

    Married couples, it has been noted in studies, turn inwards, not out-wards (these are called “greedy marriages” by researchers). They get all their companionship needs met through their spouse. Well, singles obviously don’t have that luxury.

    As a single, I should be able to receive welcome, companionship, and hospitality from other Christians and churches, but that does not happen, because of the undue amount of emphasis preachers (and other Christians) place on marriage and married couples-

    Plus the awful “Billy Graham Rule,” which tells Christians to treat single women like lepers, rather than like sisters in Christ who are worthy of friendship.

    Jesus Christ said that you’re not supposed to place family above Him. He said whoever does the will of his Father is his mother, sister, brother, etc. Most churches today don’t grasp that.

    You have a lot of divorced people, widows, and other singles, who go over-looked because of the church’s tendency to elevate the nuclear family (biological family).

    All that article was doing was calling that practice and attitude out and saying it’s become a problem in Christianity – and I agree, it really is a huge problem.

    People who are not married, who don’t have kids, don’t have a place to belong in most churches.

  197. @ Deb:

    Please see my post right above to ‘The Low Sparrow’. I pretty much support that article at CT. I have a different perspective of that article.

    I don’t think the article was trying to shame people for not attending church, but rather, criticizing how many churches elevate marriage and the nuclear family to the insane degree that childless, never-married adults such as myself don’t feel welcome at most churches.

    Some of us do not have any living relatives (or no supportive ones) to go to in a time of crisis, or if we need support, and we could really use a “spiritual family” (people at a church, for example) to play that role for us, but most churches have a blind spot in this area and don’t play this role.

    Churches are so very focused on helping married couples and traditional family units, they have no idea how to help adult singles, the divorced, widows, etc., or they don’t care about helping those groups.

  198. @ One of the little people:

    This is what transpired at our former church. The doctrines are different from those of the neo-cals that are mostly discussed here, but the M.O. is the same, the authoritarianism is the same, the control and abuse are the same… it’s like they all use the same playbook.

  199. siteseer wrote:

    Other red flags that belie the parts about love and nurturing: Biblical counseling, elder shepherding, Biblical church discipline, a sense of urgency…

    I can explain what these “distinctives” mean at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, my former church.

    *”Biblical Counseling” is rendered by a bunch of pastors/elders who no bona fide education and licensing. It consists of them calling a member in to a meeting, the member not being told what it’s about, and then being “worked with”, which means being screamed at and ridiculed by them.

    My ex-senior pastor has a *Ph.D.*, which I guess stands for “Phony Degree”. His Ph.D. isn’t the normal 8-years at an accredited university and rigorous study. No, no, no.
    He got his Phony Degree from a *Bible College* diploma mill in Missouri for a whopping $299. At Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley “you get what you pay for”.

    His job history is similarly bogus, with a pastoral job he claimed a John MacArthur’s church JMac said was a lie. JMac said he was only a volunteer, like scores of others.
    His teaching credential the State of California said is also a lie and they never issued anyone with his name one.

    The chairman of the elder board has a job in computer sales for a company. “Counseling” is listening to their dumb, insufferable, untrained opinions and trying to smile enough and thank them to escape.

    *Elder Shepherding. This means that a bunch of ‘yes-men’, the pastor’s own personal friends, are hired for staff jobs and appointed as elders. Church member foot the bills and give their money, but have absolutely no say in the running of their church, no congregational vote. It’s authoritarianism. Nepotism. If you disagree with them the senior pastor or the chairman of the elder board says dramatically, “You are bringing an accusation against an elder without cause.” You also have to listen to them whine to church members about how they “will give an account for your souls to God” and therefore you must ‘obey’ them. Must be a super tough job screaming and yelling at grown adults,
    threatening them, consuming their time with your insufferable opinions when you have nothing to say and are uneducated.

    *Biblical Church Discipline. This is just unleashed on anyone with critical thinking skills. It means you’re screamed at, threatened, ridiculed by them, called at home and threatened, and then lied about “before all” by pastors/elders who are shameless liars.
    If you try to leave that nut house church, you’re harassed by pastors/elders, your name is tarnished before hundreds of members, and the pastors/elders order your (criminal) harassment to get you to “repent”. In other words, stalking. I saw it done to one dear wife who left for a saner church. The good doctor in his 70’s they treated disgracefully because they had “worked with him for a long time” (screamed at him if the truth be told) and it “hadn’t worked”. Ya think?

    *sense of urgency. Hmmm. I have no clue what they’re talking about. Sounds like a smoke screen to me. Just more manipulation of the members.

  200. @ Daisy:

    The author did make a helpful point about singles but the part that is very troubling to me is that the author slyly moved the local church organization into the place of Jesus in the believer’s life. In his first list, God and church are two separate entities. In the second, they are one. This is a huge red flag. The church is not Jesus and doesn’t deserve the devotion or loyalty due only to him. Once a person has accepted this idea, they would be very susceptible to control and abuse by the church organization/leader.

    The second problem is that he removes the believer’s individuality- according to him, Jesus relates to us as a group and we only count as members of the group. I think he is completely wrong on that.

  201. The Low Sparrow wrote:

    I saw that on a Christian Post email to me today. I found it deeply upsetting and it triggered the “God is angry with me because I don’t attend church regularly” feeling big time. I want to blast this dreadful man to kingdom come. Plus I am cancelling my subscription to CT. I am not paying money to a magazine that publishes such evil nonsense. Bleugh.

    Good for you Sparrow! Sounds like you’ve had your own Neo/Mr. Anderson unplugging experience. Many of us have realized that their god has way more in common with the gods of the Egyptians and the gods of the Canaanites, and that the God of Abraham isn’t anything like them.brian wrote:

    My human family saw this as a strength though we did not discuss it much, my church family, to be honest. It was seen as a vile man pleasing weakness and it made people ill.

    That probably hurts the most of all. Still does. This is exactly how I felt about my sister as well.

    Loved the you tube vid! It reaches in with gut-resonance and connects with the image of the Almighty himself, the piece of himself which he places in every human heart (whether or not we act upon it is our own affair entirely).
    The church ‘family’ you’ve described? They’re not your family, they’re a tank of piranhas. Your human family is the real McCoy.

  202. Sorry for the doubled up comment insertion in reply to The Low Sparrow. The reply to brian should have had a stand alone slot.

  203. @ Been There Done That:

    “My former church split when the elders unanimously decided to force our abusive and sinning pastor to step down and they were thwarted by one of the leaders/apostles in the Fivefold Ministry/NAR coming in and declaring our pastor an apostle and the elders without the authority to discipline him. Only other “apostles” were his equal in authority.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    how many in attendance stood there, hands on hips, incredulous look on their faces, with a very audible “WHAT???” and then walked out?

  204. That ranks up there with respect to a pile of BS…. Show me scripture where this apostolic authority is coming from??

    W@ Velour:
    Been There Done That wrote:

    BeenThereDoneThat wrote:
    This is a hallmark of Five-fold ministry churches. My former church is five-fold ministry, and the founding elder is the Apostle. Until I read on TWW about Gateway church and Robert Morris, I’d didn’t know of another church that practiced this.
    My former church split when the elders unanimously decided to force our abusive and sinning pastor to step down and they were thwarted by one of the leaders/apostles in the Fivefold Ministry/NAR coming in and declaring our pastor an apostle and the elders without the authority to discipline him. Only other “apostles” were his equal in authority.

  205. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    siteseer wrote:

    O.M.G. This is an extremely troubling article, it’s an invitation to abuse!

    My thoughts exactly. Not sure how that one slipped past the CT editors.

    “These Apostles(TM) said one to another:
    ‘Apostle(TM) unto Apostle(TM) o’er the world is Brother’…”?

  206. Max wrote:

    Ahhhh … but if you believe, as Southern Baptists once did, in the priesthood of the believer and soul competency, the New Calvinists can’t control what you hear.

    Which is why the Red Guard must be unleaashed and Heretics must be Burned.

  207. mot wrote:

    “Restoration to doctrinal purity and a renewed sense of unity in the churches of our Association were our goals. Unity must always be one of our highest priorities; but it must never eclipse the priority of doctrinal purity.”

    Wonder where the writers if this came up with this statement?

    The Soviet Union.
    Just substitute “Ideological” for “Doctrinal” and “Party Cells” for “churches of our Association”, capitalize “Unity”, and attach “For The Party, Comrades” at the end.

  208. Mara wrote:

    AnonInNC wrote:

    There is a balance to things that God does.
    Men knock things off balance with their overemphasis on whatever suits their personal interests.
    God is more interested in us than these so-called ‘shepherds’.
    God is more interested in our well-being than these ‘shepherds’ would have us believe.

    And that is what reading of Scripture seems to reveal. God has a balance that seems to be conveyed in this world He has created. I know SGM had, at one time, a sort of music writing team for their worship services. It seemed with so many of the lyrics there was this heavy push for sin and condemnation and very little lyrics left over for Grace, joy in abundance, etc.

  209. @ Glenn:

    i’m sorry for what you went through. i’m guessing that with each passing day going forward, the more ridiculous those church leaders look. and, i hope, the less painful for you.

  210. elastigirl wrote:

    how many in attendance stood there, hands on hips, incredulous look on their faces, with a very audible “WHAT???” and then walked out?

    Many left – all of the elders and almost every ministry leaders – and many stayed. Those who were not in leadership and not privy to the pastor’s serious personal issues, did not fully understand what was going on and still don’t. The congregation was admonished not to gossip while the pastor and remaining staff members and the visiting “apostle”, all criticized and condemned those leaving from the pulpit. It’s all in how you spin it. Many who didn’t understand all that was going on still left because they trusted the leadership who was leaving or they felt that something was just not right. Many more were swayed by the spin and stayed. It was a great church to be part of for awhile. Many of us were deeply invested in the church and it was very painful to come to the point where we knew we had to leave. The pastor’s sin and personality issues that biblically disqualified him were spun into him being “apostolic”. When the person who makes these claims (Mark Tubbs, NAR “apostle”) also has a reputation as hearing from God and for working miracles, many will be and were convinced. I have seen first hand what a lack of biblical knowledge, discernment, and focus on experience allows in to the church.

  211. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I’ve been in systems that controlled people precisely because they appeal to those who are “smart” by using a highly intellectual theology. I’ve been in systems that controlled people by “love bombing” that exploited peoples’ felt need for friendship.

    And the combination of the two are THE most effective one-two punch to reel in a Kid Genius.

    And “appeal to those who are ‘smart’ by using a highly intellectual theology” — that was a favorite KGB recruiting tool during the Cold War, called “Disaffected Intellectual”. Only their “highly intellectual theology” was Marxism-Leninism. I ran into a few in the Seventies and Eighties.

  212. @ Velour:

    Velour wrote: “And this whole nonsense about women being the derivative image of God, not made in the image of God.”

    Mot wrote: “I agree that is total nonsense and anyone advocating this nonsense is deceived by the DECEIVER!”

    Velour wrote: “I’m even more pointed about these guys. I think the blame is theirs alone and not even the Deceiver’s. They do it because they want to.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    ‘tchaw…. just like a 3 year-old in preschool grabs the ball out of the other’s hands and says “you’re stupid”; he’s not deceived, it’s that his ability to rise above human nature is not developed.

  213. Deb wrote:

    @ Velour:
    That is scary!

    The Unauthorized Practice of Medicine post I wrote, where my former pastors/elders blamed me for a woman’s memory problems (caused by her genetically inherited brain disorder)
    or the post about how the church is organized?

  214. @ siteseer:

    “If they preach that it is never about you and always about their beastly organization, then it is high time to get out.

    So true- only they will phrase it as though it’s about GOD when they really mean their beastly organization -and that’s where your discernment begins to get a workout, separating the two!”
    +++++++++++++++++

    i’d say make the process easier by despiritualizing it and simply let the God-given survival instinct of intuition rule the day.

  215. Mike wrote:

    Very timely article. If possible, read this article by Joseph Hellerman that was posted on the Aug. 6 CHRISTIANITY TODAY site. RED FLAG #5 Lifestyle Rigidity?
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/august-web-only/if-our-families-are-more-important-than-our-churches-we-nee.html

    Whew. Trying to catch up on TWW! I’ve been a bit out of it – recovering from a triple whammy: CFS fatigue, a virus, and a sinus/throat strep infection.
    I have to say that I disagree with this article vehemently. It is targeted, not just at pastors and missionaries, but at the entire Christian audience. How many of us could/should say that church is more important to us than our families?
    I’ve missed church lots of times because of illness in the family. I’ve missed church to go get my husband and my brother when their vehicles broke down. When they called me, should I have told them, ” Sorry. Your on your own. Church comes first!”
    There is a strained distance between my husband and me because of church. I feel that church is more important to him than I could ever be. His actions have indicated that many, many times. I feel like I am not a central part of his life; I’m just an optional side order on the menu. That is not a good feeling, and it is not indicative of a “healthy” marriage.
    Is this how Jesus wants our relationships with our spouses and our family members to be? I don’t think so.
    And, what about our children and elderly parents? Should church be more important to us than they are? Maybe the wife and family of the man who wrote this should make it clear to him that church is more important to them than he will ever be.

  216. @ LT:

    “I would like to use your excellent argument about them not being “hand-picked by Jesus” in the future, but I am not sure how to best handle the “God said so via the Holy Spirit, so it’s the same thing” argument.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    there have to be others who feel as you do. a large group. I’m sure they are findable.

    & by amazing coincidence, each of you saw some kind of bright light last week, then a voice spoke saying “I am Jesus of Nazareth”. He then proceeded to say he has chosen no such apostles whatsoever at Gateway Church.

    aside from the embellishments, it’s true. God saying so via the Holy Spirit is an equal opportunity thing. You believe your perceptions are true (naturally and supernatually perceived).

  217. I’m back from the House of Driscoll. He had 162 cars for the first service and about 170 for the second service. Two cop cars and additional security. KING 5 in Seattle sent a reporter. It was hot.

    Driscoll apparently saturated the neighborhood with direct mail oversized postcards and some of the recipients showed up. I talked to one of them. When people have it in their head that they think the Holy Spirit has spoken to them, there is not a darn thing you can say to dissuade them. That was the case with this woman. She had been praying for two years for a church. She was comforted by Driscoll’s preaching. She thought I was angry. (Angry is the word used by some Christians when they’re confronted by something they don’t like.) I was blunt and told her that Driscoll was deceptive. I pointed to the KING 5 reporter and asked, “if there wasn’t a problem, why is he here?” I reiterated over and over that it was just me, I am not a big name, I am not a smooth talker, but I said over and over again, “You need to make up your mind for yourself. You need to go to Google.”

    And I am certain she is going to get sucked in and deceived by Driscoll.

    Seriously, people, just because the guy has “pastor” in front of his name doesn’t mean you should accept everything he says. Give him the once-over. Let your fingers do the walking.

    But seriously, I know when I’m angry (my blood pressure soars and I can feel it) and I was absolutely not angry. I was confrontational, because I’m not going to agree with anyone saying Driscoll is fine. He’s a sheep stealer and not fine at all. Too many normal people have been harmed by him. And it didn’t seem to matter to this woman that he decided he would not sit under his elders’ leadership and instead he bagged his calling and cratered the Mars Hill empire as a result.

    Telling the truth is not being angry.

  218. siteseer wrote:

    @ Daisy:

    The second problem is that he removes the believer’s individuality- according to him, Jesus relates to us as a group and we only count as members of the group. I think he is completely wrong on that.

    This is key. We only count as members of a group. Translation: to be a Christian you must be a member in good standing at a local church.

    Where have we heard this before?

    I saw it as an attempt to market church in a softer more inclusive way. Recruiting is a big deal. After all, there are more singles than ever. Many never marrieds have more disposable income. Back in the 80s, large adult single groups were all the rage in mega churches. But the goal was to always see them get married to someone in the group.

  219. @ mirele:
    That is the big thing now. Disagreeing is anger, hate, etc.

    Hopefully you planted some seeds. Wonder if the reporter will mention the demise of Mars Hill?

    The really creepy thing is when people think something is an answer to prayer without doing their homework to the best of their ability.

  220. @ LT:
    You can say the Holy Spirit emphatically told you the opposite. At that point, some will want to follow you!

  221. mirele wrote:

    Telling the truth is not being angry.

    Good for you for warning people, Mirele. I got the Twitter pictures.

    Speaking out makes a difference in lives. One small voice. When I was excommunicated from my abusive church, after seeing others get treated to same for having critical thinking skills, the first website I found was the Petry’s Joyful Exiles and their horrific experience at Mars Hill. Paul Petry, a pastor/elder/attorney, was fired and excommunicated for opposing Mark Driscoll’s un-Biblical consolidation of power.

    Because they spoke out about Mars Hill, they gave me and countless others hope and realized we weren’t the only ones.

    And then I found The Wartburg Watch.

  222. Lydia wrote:

    Translation: to be a Christian you must be a member in good standing at a local church.

    Was a time when the only ‘Christians in good standing’ were gathered around a Cross and there were very few of them brave and devoted enough to be there. That was ‘the Church’ and it is still the ‘Church’: those who gather around Our Lord in reverence and out of love for Him. It DOES matter that He died for EACH ONE of us, individually. The Body of Christ has no roof over it or floor beneath it; nor is it bound by time or place. It’s members find their union in Him alone. He has the words of eternal life. The Holy Spirit points only to Him.

  223. @ elastigirl:

    Thank you for your sympathetic note, elastigirl.

    Yes, those church leaders look ridiculous to me. This cultic authoritarianism of theirs is evidence of a serious addiction to power over people. I pray that God leads them out of this sinful lifestyle — and that He wakes up more and more people to the abuses of this heavy-handed structure and methodology of leadership.

    A brother in Christ I get together with on occasion here in northern Virginia share a laugh or two over such matters now and then.

  224. Christiane wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Translation: to be a Christian you must be a member in good standing at a local church.
    Was a time when the only ‘Christians in good standing’ were gathered around a Cross and there were very few of them brave and devoted enough to be there. That was ‘the Church’ and it is still the ‘Church’: those who gather around Our Lord in reverence and out of love for Him. It DOES matter that He died for EACH ONE of us, individually. The Body of Christ has no roof over it or floor beneath it; nor is it bound by time or place. It’s members find their union in Him alone. He has the words of eternal life. The Holy Spirit points only to Him.

    Amen.

    That will preach!

  225. Victorious wrote:

    One of the little people wrote:

    You are correct the influence of the NAR in AG churches needs more coverage

    I’ve posted this link before, but it’s worth looking at imo. I have the two books highlighted and they clearly refute the teachings of the NAR including Brian Simmons’ new translation of the Bible.

    http://www.spiritoferror.org/2016/07/books-on-the-nar-recognized-by-world-magazine/6183

    Have them both. Another good one is Dr. Steve Crosby’s book, “Authority, Accountability And The Apostolic Movement”. You used to be able to download it for free. I’m not sure if you still can.

  226. Sopwith wrote:

    Furthermore, church is not about ‘human priority’, it is about faith in Jesus Christ.

    Amen! The only part of Hellerman’s article that I semi-agree with is the need for young pastors to minister to church members, even if it means cutting into their personal family time. It’s been reported here and elsewhere that YRRs don’t visit the sick, do funerals, or otherwise get involved with their congregations outside of indoctrinating them on Sunday morning. They are reluctant to give up their “free time” to attend to the field. While the Body of Christ should certainly minister to each other, this doesn’t get the pastor off the hook on his responsibility to care for and love his flock.

  227. Max wrote:

    It’s been reported here and elsewhere that YRRs don’t visit the sick, do funerals, or otherwise get involved with their congregations outside of indoctrinating them on Sunday morning.

    Since when did every pastor have to be an author? They’re all doing it. My ex-pastor at a church plant is doing it. It’s not through a publishing house, it’s self-published.

  228. Muff Potter wrote:

    It’s not just the neo-cal movement.

    Agreed. These charlatans borrow gimmicks from each other. They look around to see what’s working elsewhere and plug it into their church model of doing church without God. The early church looked to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.

  229. Velour wrote:

    It’s not through a publishing house, it’s self-published.

    Not many outsiders are interested in their publishing. As far as not visiting or doing funerals these boys are clueless as to what a real Pastor is.

  230. PRAYER REQUEST. Folks, I will be having oral surgery tomorrow morning. This is the first time during my long journey to be sedated and go under the knife (and I hope my last). As you retire for the evening or see this on Monday, I would appreciate your prayers.

    I may be off-line for a few days. Please stay after those who use the church for their glory.

    Thanks! Your brother Max.

  231. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    It’s not through a publishing house, it’s self-published.
    Not many outsiders are interested in their publishing. As far as not visiting or doing funerals these boys are clueless as to what a real Pastor is.

    Yes, outside publishers aren’t interested in their *work* because most of it is inferior and lacks originality. Perhaps that explains the many plagiarism cases.

    Yes, these boys seem to have serious problems with the job of a real Pastor. At my ex-NeoCalvinist church my senior pastor and another man actually chewed me out for going to the home of an elderly church member (man) who had fallen in his backyard. He’d been outside for more than 10 hours and lived alone.

    I just happened to call his house after he had crawled back inside, unable to stand.
    He asked me to come by to check on him. I lived a few minutes away.

    The pastor and his friend told me that I had “disturbed” the man. This was a medical emergency for crying out loud. The pastor and his friend said that I should have let the old man alone. You know, that’s how people die.

    Besides needing brain transplants, that crowd also needs heart transplants.

  232. Max wrote:

    PRAYER REQUEST. Folks, I will be having oral surgery tomorrow morning. This is the first time during my long journey to be sedated and go under the knife (and I hope my last). As you retire for the evening or see this on Monday, I would appreciate your prayers.
    I may be off-line for a few days. Please stay after those who use the church for their glory.
    Thanks! Your brother Max.

    Praying for you, brother Max.

  233. @ Max:

    Wow Max, you have escaped the knife this long? Yes, it is scary. And we will include you tonight in our prayer time. It is an honor to do so as it is for others here who have reached out.

  234. Velour wrote:

    that crowd also needs heart transplants

    Too many of them are heartless and surround themselves with heartless men. They cause untold damage to people’s lives and never seem to understand they caused this damage.

  235. Max wrote:

    Thanks! Your brother Max.

    I always appreciate and learn from your comments! My prayers are with you.

  236. Velour wrote:

    Deb wrote:
    @ Velour:
    That is scary!
    The Unauthorized Practice of Medicine post I wrote, where my former pastors/elders blamed me for a woman’s memory problems (caused by her genetically inherited brain disorder)
    or the post about how the church is organized?

    Do you have copies of the emails and correspondence your former elders sent about you? Can you not sure them for spreading lies about you?

  237. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    that crowd also needs heart transplants
    Too many of them are heartless and surround themselves with heartless men. They cause untold damage to people’s lives and never seem to understand they caused this damage.

    So true.

  238. Bridget wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Deb wrote:
    @ Velour:
    That is scary!
    The Unauthorized Practice of Medicine post I wrote, where my former pastors/elders blamed me for a woman’s memory problems (caused by her genetically inherited brain disorder)
    or the post about how the church is organized?
    Do you have copies of the emails and correspondence your former elders sent about you? Can you not sure them for spreading lies about you?

    Yes, I can. I can also get an injunction against them to order them to stop.

    The larger legal issues are that they are facing criminal charges. And they think they can use the Membership Covenant to make everyone ‘obey’ and ‘submit’ to their claims to authority, including committing criminal acts, not calling police, etc.
    They’ve said mothers aren’t to protect their children from danger and that are to ‘obey’ husbands.

    The district’s attorneys’ office is now involved given all of the pastors/elders’ claims and orders, much of which are criminal acts in California.

  239. Velour wrote:

    Besides needing brain transplants, that crowd also needs heart transplants.

    Some spine transplants could also be in order…

  240. Ken F wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Besides needing brain transplants, that crowd also needs heart transplants.
    Some spine transplants could also be in order…

    Amen!

  241. Velour wrote:

    Max wrote:

    PRAYER REQUEST. Folks, I will be having oral surgery tomorrow morning. This is the first time during my long journey to be sedated and go under the knife (and I hope my last). As you retire for the evening or see this on Monday, I would appreciate your prayers.
    I may be off-line for a few days. Please stay after those who use the church for their glory.
    Thanks! Your brother Max.

    I will pray, MAX, and lots of people here will pray also. Try not to worry. After the surgery, I hope they will give you something for pain that will help you to rest, especially that first day.

  242. Dee wrote:

    @ mirele: Are you OK ? Your Twitter account seems to be down

    I’m fine. My Twitter is @mmmirele. I’m able to get into it so I assume everything is fine.

  243. Debi Calvet wrote:

    @ Lydia:
    I can see it now: Velour, Lydia, and Nancy2 comprising the (church) crime-fighting trio “Not Calvin’s Angels.”

    Which of us guys gets to be Tom Bosley?

  244. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:

    that crowd also needs heart transplants

    Too many of them are heartless and surround themselves with heartless men. They cause untold damage to people’s lives and never seem to understand they caused this damage.

    Because “I AM OF THE ELECT! I CAN DO NO WRONG!”

  245. Velour wrote:

    Since when did every pastor have to be an author?

    Since there got to be Big Bucks in doing so.
    Elron Hubbard Wannabes.

    They’re all doing it. My ex-pastor at a church plant is doing it. It’s not through a publishing house, it’s self-published.

    AKA DIY Vanity Press.

  246. Bill M wrote:

    Debi Calvet wrote:
    @ Lydia:
    I can see it now: Velour, Lydia, and Nancy2 comprising the (church) crime-fighting trio “Not Calvin’s Angels.”
    Which of us guys gets to be Tom Bosley?

    We’ll be having auditions for that part. In Kentucky. Near Nancy2’s place.

  247. mot wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Because “I AM OF THE ELECT! I CAN DO NO WRONG!”
    What a frightening mind set!

    My ex-NeoCalvinist senior pastor would talk from the pulpit about when there was the war when Jesus came back that Jesus would give my pastor a horse to ride in battle. I would sit in my pew and say silently, “A man like you who screams at the saints, bullies them, threatens them, lies about them, demeans them, ridicules them, orders they be harassed, excommunicated and shunned — thinks Jesus would entrust you with a horse? Jesus wouldn’t trust you with the manure in the horses’ stable!”

  248. Velour wrote:

    mot wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Because “I AM OF THE ELECT! I CAN DO NO WRONG!”
    What a frightening mind set!

    My ex-NeoCalvinist senior pastor would talk from the pulpit about when there was the war when Jesus came back that Jesus would give my pastor a horse to ride in battle. I would sit in my pew and say silently, “A man like you who screams at the saints, bullies them, threatens them, lies about them, demeans them, ridicules them, orders they be harassed, excommunicated and shunned — thinks Jesus would entrust you with a horse? Jesus wouldn’t trust you with the manure in the horses’ stable!”

    I do not understand why pastors scream at their people. I truly believe on of the major tasks of a Pastor is to build up and encourage his people.

  249. @ Daisy:

    I really am sorry Daisy I didn’t mean to in any way, interpret the article as questioning the elevation of nuclear families above others in the church. You are absolutely correct to point out that others in the church especially single women tend to be treated very badly.
    The article triggered something of my own past in abusive churches so that irrespective of the reasoning of the article all I felt was that horrible feeling of guilt and shame for not attending church. I haven’t been back to my church for nearly a year because a sermon on discipleship traumatised me so much. That’s why TWW has been a lifesaver for me since then and there are not enough words for me to express how thankful I am to you all here for helping me through this.

  250. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    mot wrote:
    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Because “I AM OF THE ELECT! I CAN DO NO WRONG!”
    What a frightening mind set!
    My ex-NeoCalvinist senior pastor would talk from the pulpit about when there was the war when Jesus came back that Jesus would give my pastor a horse to ride in battle. I would sit in my pew and say silently, “A man like you who screams at the saints, bullies them, threatens them, lies about them, demeans them, ridicules them, orders they be harassed, excommunicated and shunned — thinks Jesus would entrust you with a horse? Jesus wouldn’t trust you with the manure in the horses’ stable!”
    I do not understand why pastors scream at their people. I truly believe on of the major tasks of a Pastor is to build up and encourage his people.

    My ex-pastor was a total bully. It wasn’t just me. I interviewed former members, men and women. People who had high-ranking jobs. People who were wealthy. Middle-class. Across the board it was relentless abuse behind closed doors in meetings.

  251. Velour wrote:

    My ex-pastor was a total bully. It wasn’t just me. I interviewed former members, men and women. People who had high-ranking jobs. People who were wealthy. Middle-class. Across the board it was relentless abuse behind closed doors in meetings.

    Sadly religion attracts some very sick personality types. You can not reason with many of these folk. They are unreasonable and as you say many are nothing but bullies.

  252. Max wrote:

    Amen! The only part of Hellerman’s article that I semi-agree with is the need for young pastors to minister to church members, even if it means cutting into their personal family time. It’s been reported here and elsewhere that YRRs don’t visit the sick, do funerals, or otherwise get involved with their congregations outside of indoctrinating them on Sunday morning. They are reluctant to give up their “free time” to attend to the field. While the Body of Christ should certainly minister to each other, this doesn’t get the pastor off the hook on his responsibility to care for and love his flock.

    Sometimes pastors have to prioritize. At my grandmother’s wake, our pastor called the funeral home. I spoke to him. He sent his regrets and apologized: he had intended to be at the wake, but his wife had taken ill. He stayed with his wife – not a prob, she had just had surgery for cancer. She had to come first. The pastor did do the funeral the next day, though.
    But, for these young bucks, it’s not cutting into their family time when they’re sitting at Starbucks jawing and tweeting instead of ministering to the sick and hurting in their churches!

    Take it easy, Max. I hope your surgery goes well. We will miss you, but take your time and heal well!

  253. Velour wrote:

    We’ll be having auditions for that part. In Kentucky. Near Nancy2’s place.

    Not auditions – double elimination rounds.

  254. Nancy2 wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    We’ll be having auditions for that part. In Kentucky. Near Nancy2’s place.
    Not auditions – double elimination rounds.

    By firing squad?

  255. @ Lydia:
    I was raised Anglican & was so so attender until I met my wife. Then I started attending an A of G church. At first I didn’t have too many issues with it, I’m a “live & let live” type of person. But as I kept attending, a lot of things started turning me off. They had a Filipino pastor they jokingly referred to as “Asian Joe”, statements denigrating other faiths & denominations (“Jesus wasn’t an Anglican” was my personal fave). Over time you can peel the onion back and see what’s underneath. They made it clear that tolerance was only if you believe what they do. I was never that invested so it was easy to opt out. Not sure I’d call it wisdom.

  256. I’ve learned SO many things I’ve learned reading TWW in the last couple of years, and one of those things is that the weird, widespread proliferation of 5-point Calvinism that spread through my area 7-12 years ago was not because local evangelicals suddenly had the scales drop from their eyes. Rather, it was part of a loosely orchestrated movement.

    This is such a huge relief to me. I tried for years to accept (neo) Calvinism, even begging God to help me understand Love from his perspective, since mine must be skewed. But I never could. It’s a relief to know the problem isn’t that I’m not one of the Elect, but that the whole paradigm is every bit as wrong as I thought it was.

  257. Persephone wrote:

    I tried for years to accept (neo) Calvinism, even begging God to help me understand Love from his perspective, since mine must be skewed. But I never could.

    He answered your prayer, sister.

  258.   __

    “This is My beloved Son in who I Am well pleased?”

    hmmm…

      In our heavenly Father’s house, John Calvin’s ‘spin’ [1] on the Holy Scriptures, all things considered, avails not really a whole lot of ‘lasting’ value Folks, and is certainly not a ‘required prerequisite'(R) for entrance therein. But as you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shalt be receiving His glorious salvation…His Spirit as well!

    —> In spades!

    Watch and sêê! 

    —> God so loved You, that He sent His precious Son, that if You will believe in Him, You shall receive His ‘life’, and that…in ‘everlasting’ portions!

    Go 4 It!

    Yes, all those who call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved!

    (see the Bible for details…)

    You’ll be glad you did!

    ATB 🙂

    Sopy
    __
    [1] John Calvin’s “Institutes Of The Christian Religion”

    ***
    intermission: 
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=H0fkkUYIku0

    🙂

  259. @ Velour:

    This is a great list, because before you get to the cult tactics, it’s reductionism and dualism. That’s what I saw in my former neo-Calvinizing church from day one before anything – what we want is bad and we have to glorify God instead. The way I saw it, the two practical ways that concept gets lived out is either monastic life, and that church clearly wasn’t, or pure antinomianism, because anything could glorify God if you think hard enough. After all, declaring right from wrong would be “trying to earn your own salvation”. Looking back, because they didn’t have the discipline system in place, it kind of was the latter.

    So when they bring in church discipline, what gets sold as the ultimate cure for legalism becomes a bizarre dynamic where instead of looking at things people actually, it’s about the state enlightened state of mind that one perceives in themselves and others. It’s just as legalist, and guess what, most people’s ranking of their enlightenment is quite high, and of others, not as much.

    I just watched a show about the Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps that included some clips of Lila Green’s sermons. Take out her sneers and replace with a smug grin, and it’d sound just like a Keller/Piper/Driscoll mimicking dudebro pastor. Idolatry, lust, rebellion, accusations of hiding sin, it was all there in content.

    Also, I looked up the newsletter from my former church today. They’re looking for volunteers to “engage members and visitors” in the doors, hallways, and parking lots to “ensure everyone feels welcomed and included.” So, thanks again Velour for telling me to just GTFO, which I did.

  260. Stan wrote:

    I just watched a show about the Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps that included some clips of Lila Green’s sermons. Take out her sneers and replace with a smug grin, and it’d sound just like a Keller/Piper/Driscoll mimicking dudebro pastor. Idolatry, lust, rebellion, accusations of hiding sin, it was all there in content.

    Ah, the ACMTC.
    “An updated, ferocious version of the Salvation Army.”
    First heard of them in Donna Kossy’s KOOKS: a Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief (Feral House, 1994), right between the sections on “Black Messiahs” and “The End Was Here Before”.

  261. Jack wrote:

    Then I started attending an A of G church. At first I didn’t have too many issues with it, I’m a “live & let live” type of person. But as I kept attending, a lot of things started turning me off. They had a Filipino pastor they jokingly referred to as “Asian Joe”, statements denigrating other faiths & denominations (“Jesus wasn’t an Anglican” was my personal fave). Over time you can peel the onion back and see what’s underneath. They made it clear that tolerance was only if you believe what they do.

    I had an interesting thought yesterday in a conversation with my atheist brother. He said he couldn’t stand Christians because they always discriminated against everyone, and were worse than non-Christians. I said that was why I was visiting certain churches that had female ministers. He said he didn’t care about women. I could have followed that rabbit trail about his double standards, but instead I said, “If they discriminate against women, they probably will discriminate against everyone else too.”

    It sorta popped out of my mouth, as things do, but it got me thinking about the churches where I’ve attended, and how they treated different groups of people. I’ve always felt distinctly uncomfortable in churches where everyone looks the same. I’m a tiny Irish-German hobbit woman, but I like diversity. I like interesting people. Everybody being the same really bores me. And along the line, the more patriarchal a church is, the less diverse it is, and the more abusive it is. Of course, it’s not a large sampling, but I plan to look into that more.

    In other news, I moved and tried a CBF church yesterday. It had two female ministers and three male ministers. It was very formal and traditional for a church, but everyone was super nice to me. Still not sure quite where I belong. I’m still a Baptist in theology, but there’s only 2 CBF churches in this small town, and they seem to do things very much alike. Will try a Lutheran church next week, I think.

  262. EVERY single "9 Mark" was present at FBCRM before the split on Feb. 14, 2016. Praise God for removing those pastors! God gets all the credit and glory!! Bc they like to quote Piper, Spurgeon, and other "famous" theologians, let me quote a FAMOUS Baptist preacher, "FREE at LAST, FREE at LAST, PRAISE GOD Almighty, IM FREE at LAST!!" MLK

  263. @ Rejoicing:

    I thought about the FBC Rocky Mount congregation when I decided to re-post this information. Hoping you’ll share it with others at your church. Please encourage them to read the entire book online at the links provided in the post.

    Over at Amazon, here is a brief description of Ronald Enroth’s book:

    This book warns and informs readers about the fringe churches and groups that operate with abusive styles, creating emotional and spiritual perils for their adherents.

    This book was published over 23 years ago, and what’s scary is that this kind of abuse doesn’t just exist in ‘fringe churches and groups’. It may very well be coming to a church near you, or even your church. :-(

    Here at TWW, we are sounding the alarm!

  264. LT wrote:

    Robert Morris takes off a couple months every single summer. During his absence, Gateway Church has at least 8 guest pastors come and speak. Virtually all of the GW guest pastors (throughout the year – not just the summer) are selling a book. It’s basically like the Tonight Show.

    Funny! He took valentines day weekend off too. I don’t know why, since it seems like you could prerecord a sermon anytime you want.

    I have a friend that goes to gateway and I have concerns.

  265. @ Rejoicing:

    Here’s an Amazon review of Churches That Abuse that sounds like your commentary:

    By A Customer on October 17, 2001

    This book was instrumental in revealing to me things that were wrong in the church I was attending when I read the book.
    It helped me know I wasn’t “crazy” or rebellious or misunderstanding things. I was being abused and God used the truths in this book to set me free.
    “Who the Son sets free is free indeed…”

    I would highly recommend that your church invest in several copies of the book mentioned below.  I believe it will be of great help to your congregation, particularly the pastor search committee. 

    The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen

    This book was written back in 1991 and has never gone out of print because there is such a demand for it.

    Also, we shared the following information back in 2013, which should be of benefit to FBCRM:

    Spiritual Abuse and Common Characteristics

    Toxic Faith:  Experiencing Healing from Painful Spiritual Abuse

    My advice is to educate, educate, educate… 

    Dee and I first started learning about this stuff in the fall of 2008, and we began blogging about it in March 2009.  It's amazing how much we've learned and are continuing to learn.  We never in our wildest imagination thought our blog would be read worldwide, but here we are.  Hopefully, we are helping others along the way…

  266. ishy wrote:

    I had an interesting thought yesterday in a conversation with my atheist brother. He said he couldn’t stand Christians because they always discriminated against everyone, and were worse than non-Christians

    I would say your brother hasn’t had much exposure to other faiths & cultures. Everyone has a bias. In North America we have freedom to speak for & against religion. Not so in other parts of the world. Saudi Arabia comes to mind.
    Good luck with your search for a church.

  267. Jack wrote:

    I would say your brother hasn’t had much exposure to other faiths & cultures. Everyone has a bias. In North America we have freedom to speak for & against religion. Not so in other parts of the world. Saudi Arabia comes to mind.
    Good luck with your search for a church.

    My brother looks for reasons to remain an atheist. He has more in common with the people he says he hates than he likes to believe.

  268. Stan wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    The first part of the show was about Yahweh bin Yahweh.

    Who was prominent in KOOKS‘ “Black Messiahs” section (the one just before the ACMTC).

    Wasn’t that the cult whose initiation was “behead a Paleman and bring the head to Me”?

  269. Stan wrote:

    This is a great list, because before you get to the cult tactics, it’s reductionism and dualism. That’s what I saw in my former neo-Calvinizing church from day one before anything – what we want is bad and we have to glorify God instead

    Glad you found the information helpful. Brad/FuturistGuy has written lots of good stuff on this subject.

  270. ishy wrote:

    I said, “If they discriminate against women, they probably will discriminate against everyone else too.”

    They absolutely will. At my ex-church they buffed and shined their hatred toward lots of people, including gays. An older, retired church member was constantly using hate speech
    against them and she ordered me, in person, to use hate speech against gays. I REFUSED!
    She kept demanding. I refused.

    When I spoke to the pastors/elders about it, how to deal with her, they actually defended her low-class trash talk and said there was nothing wrong with it. So much for the
    Bible telling us to let no vile word come out of our mouthes, boys.

    She ruined every church social event that we had with her hate speech, including ladies’ teas. And her speech was NOT ladylike.

    Many of my colleagues have said they don’t go to church because of how terrible churches have been to them, their friends, and family members. They find more love and less judgment outside of church.

  271. Stan wrote:

    Also, I looked up the newsletter from my former church today. They’re looking for volunteers to “engage members and visitors” in the doors, hallways, and parking lots to “ensure everyone feels welcomed and included.”

    Love bombing.

    Cult technique.

    https://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php

    The BITE Model
    I. Behavior Control
    II. Information Control
    III. Thought Control
    IV. Emotional Control

  272. Persephone wrote:

    the whole paradigm is every bit as wrong as I thought it was.

    Same here. Thank God for TWW, unraveling the twists and turns of a convoluted system.

  273. Velour wrote:

    The BITE Model
    I. Behavior Control
    II. Information Control
    III. Thought Control
    IV. Emotional Control

    Here’s my response to their model of church:
    bite me and die

  274. Velour wrote:

    IV. Emotional Control

    Thank you for this article.
    I get so tired of leaders telling the congregation how they are supposed to feel.

  275. Mara wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    IV. Emotional Control
    Thank you for this article.
    I get so tired of leaders telling the congregation how they are supposed to feel.

    Welcome, Mara.

    Steve Hassan also has good videos on these cultic mind-control techniques
    at his website and on youtube.
    https://www.freedomofmind.com/

    Julie Anne, at Spiritual Sounding Board, just did a blog article on people in high-control groups/churches and also posted a Steve Hassan video:
    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2016/08/02/help-my-family-member-or-close-friend-is-trapped-in-a-high-controlling-church-or-cult-how-can-i-encourage-them-to-leave/

  276. mirele wrote:

    I’m back from the House of Driscoll.

    I’m hoping his early numbers are due to those attracted to the circus and not those likely to hang around. Driscoll definitely ranks as a “Mark” of an abusive church.

  277. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    The answer is in most (perhaps nearly all) cases, distinct from other Christians and in particular, distinct from the other “denominations” with whom we compete for food and territory, or else distinct from the “other churches” in our town, with whom we compete for converts. I suppose in principle it could be about distinguishing oneself from secular culture; but it usually isn’t.

    Why one would want to be distinct from other believers is another matter.

    Lewis offers the following as one possible reason:

    “What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And’… If they must be Christians, let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing… just as we pick out and exaggerate the pleasure of eating to produce gluttony, so we pick out the natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty.”
    — The Screwtape Letters

  278. @ Velour:

    Yes, pioneered by the Moonies. Mentioning that it’s for members too especially creepy. Speaking of the ACMTC, my ex-church is calling the group “Frontline”.

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Hey, maybe this show was based on the book. You’d know better than me, but when you call yourself God, son of God, anything’s in bounds.

  279. @ mirele:

    I understand where you are coming from. I had those types of conversations with an Air Force Captain who called Sovereign Grace healthy. As an atheist/skeptic at the time I could not believe what I was being invited to. You could not reason, you could not explain.

    You know the other day it hit me and I forgot about it. But when Andrew was being disciple by Jordan Kauflin at Redeemer Arlington he also told me that Sovereign Grace Fairfax was healthy, a “Gospel Centered” church like Redeemer Arlington. He once strongly encouraged me to attend. I am thinking of writing a post and posing the question…how healthy is the culture at Redeemer Arlington.

  280. Dave (Eagle) wrote:

    a “Gospel Centered” church

    Questions are the order of the day. What does “Gospel Centered” mean? Or the woman Mirele encountered that “had been praying for two years for a church”. I’m curious what type of church she was praying for. If the woman was able to articulate an answer it would be very interesting to see if it would jive with the history of Driscoll and Company.

    I am hoping the woman’s consideration of Mirele’s input did not stop after the encounter but that she went home and did a little research on her own. I wonder what the culture was with the Bereans that they were called out for the simple task of verifying what somebody told them. Because of Paul’s mention, apparently it was unusual then as it is now.

  281. Stan wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Hey, maybe this show was based on the book. You’d know better than me, but when you call yourself God, son of God, anything’s in bounds.

    Why settle for being a mere Apostle and/or Prophet when you can be GOD HIMSELF!

  282. Also, with so many abusive churches and organizations using “Grace” in their official name, the only way to be safe is to treat any church/parachurch whose official name includes the word “Grace” like a Third World country whose official name includes “Democratic” and/or “People’s” until proven otherwise.

    Redefinition of “Grace” into not just a meaningless buzzword but an actual “diabolic meaning” — Screwtape would be proud.

  283. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Also, with so many abusive churches and organizations using “Grace” in their official name, the only way to be safe is to treat any church/parachurch whose official name includes the word “Grace” like a Third World country whose official name includes “Democratic” and/or “People’s” until proven otherwise.
    Redefinition of “Grace” into not just a meaningless buzzword but an actual “diabolic meaning” — Screwtape would be proud.

    Spot on.

    I believe Julie Anne’s ex-church in Oregon, pastored by John MacArthur The Master’s Seminary graduate [aka thug] had the name “Grace” in it.

    My ex-church, also pastored by a JMac/Master’s Seminary pastor/thug, also has the name “Grace” in it. Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley.

    I thought it sounded so nice and cozy when I saw it. Wrong.

    I don’t know where some of these places are getting the word “Grace” from, but it’s John Calvin’s “grace” and not God’s “grace”.

  284. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Max wrote:
    they work their magic to control, intimidate and manipulate
    This^^ has been my experience. The way it was taught to us is that the Apostle is the thumb. Only he, as the opposable appendage, could minister to the other offices or “fingers.” And the Apostle is accountable to no one but God. It’s unchecked authority, or at least it was in my “church.”

    Interesting metaphor your former leaders (so-called) used, because that thumb can also be used in conjunction with the fingers to form a fist, and with it to punch the true church in the face: “You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise. For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.”

  285. Law Prof wrote:

    Interesting metaphor your former leaders (so-called) used, because that thumb can also be used in conjunction with the fingers to form a fist, and with it to punch the true church in the face:

    Or punch you in the nose before throwing you under the church bus.

  286. In addition to these marks of an abusive church, I would add two more:

    1. Pastor centered. For a picture of this pop over to Thom Rainer and see how he thinks you should speak to your pastor. (10 things pastors want to hear from their flock.)

    2. Not to sound like a stuck record, but Jesus has to be the criterion by which the rest of the Bible is interpreted. Bear with me a tad since I KNOW I’m speaking from a different culture and era, 1950’s and 60’s tiny sandhill oilfield village in NM. I’m not trying to tell you we were right about everything, or even right about anything. I AM telling you the CR in the SBC said that line would make us all liberals. I want to show you that while it is indeed possible to interpret the teaching of Jesus from a more liberal, even left wing perspective, it isn’t necessary. I want to highlight a few issues, knowing in advance many on TWW will disagree with our interpretation. I just want you to consider this to show the abusive churches are being led by people terrified that if they don’t go old Testament and that Pharisees we are all doomed to a liberal reading.

    So here goes: we were Monotheists, taught early on Jesus means “Jehovah Who Saves.” One God, and see Jesus you see that one God. The frightened fundies saw the sexual revolution and knew some twisted Scripture to say Jesus never addressed the sexual sins of the day. (Free love 60’s, beatnik 50’s) Ah, but we ignorant NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANS figured Jesus said adultery was wrong, fornication wrong, and marriage is one man one woman for life excepting for adultery. That pretty much covered all those issues, plus today’s issue of same sex marriage or attraction. We understood it was hard, and took Jesus seriously when He talked about some being born eunuchs, some being made so by men, and some choosing it. Not a liberal thought in our bunch, just personal responsibility for sexual choices. A lot less free wheeling sex went on then compared to now. Taking care of the “least of these my brethren” meant not aborting the innocent babes conceived when someone got off track, but opening our homes to them.

    We believed Him when He told us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, etc. It applied to everyone so only the mentally incapable in some fashion did not see it as applying to them. Sure we had poverty, drunkenness, abusers, and had to deal with them. We just did not see them as the victims of their sins, but the perps. I would watch a Christian uncle with lung disease and RA garden so he could have something to feed the poor (of which truthfully he was one.) Different mindset than what the CR told us people would do with those verses.

    Our dads had fought in WW2 and Korea, and I’m sure many had PTSD. Some dealt with it better than others and I wish we had had more help for them. But as it was, knowing you lived in a community where if you professed Christ you were expected to live by His rules DID enable many of them to keep on keeping on rather than give up. And for that matter, we expected non believers to at least live by the Golden Rule.

    So what is my point? Just this: when Jesus moves in and changes hearts, and people desire to obey Him, you don’t need a lot of rules and regulations to keep people from gross sin. But yes, unsaved people will act……unsaved. We enjoyed a time when most around us were saved and tried to act like it. Then we reached a point of more unsaved than saved, and of course society changed. Rather than focusing on evangelism, the SBC and others decided to stamp out the individual sins. It didn’t work, never will, and so they got scared. Tried to literally without knowing it become Old Testament Jews with the exception of recognizing Jesus as the Sacrifice.

    But that system was ended in AD 70. The rules are not external, they are internal. We can fight over external rules, but when God puts them inside there will be amazing agreement.

    We need to clean house, get rid of the Judaizers, get as real about obeying Jesus totally in every area of our OWN lives as the radical reformers, and fire the hirelings.

    Please don’t get hung up on the cultural differences of the 50’s and 60’s. Just ask yourself how would your own life, your family, your church, or your nation be different if the majority were dead serious about obeying Jesus. Not to earn His love and salvation, but in thankfulness for it. What would change.

    That is what we need, not a bunch of petty tyrants giving us 630 or so more rules.

  287. Mike wrote:

    Very timely article. If possible, read this article by Joseph Hellerman that was posted on the Aug. 6 CHRISTIANITY TODAY site. RED FLAG #5 Lifestyle Rigidity?
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/august-web-only/if-our-families-are-more-important-than-our-churches-we-nee.html

    The article’s off base, dangerous.

    The family of God is made up of all believers everywhere. However, Hellerman seems to focus on the primacy of a given fellowship of believers in a given place over a nuclear family. He’s basically given every abusive pastor and cultic church that can access the net and has heard of CT a hammer to beat people over the heads because they’re not honoring their real family, so they can squeeze a few more hours of service to pastor’s vision out each week. There’s the problem, and it’s particularly an issue in western cultures, which are highly mobile, tending towards superficiality, where some of the most faked-up, artificial relationships you’ll ever experience are at church.

    Put it this way, be dead honest, where do you let your hair down and are really yourself? With your immediate family? At work? When out with friends? Or at church on Sunday? Put it another way: How many times have you had a grand mal fight all the way to church, parked the car, then pasted on angelic smiles for the consumption of other believers and told everyone who asked that things were “fine, just fine, thank you”? Where were you really being honest?

    I’ve spent decades in private industry, in B2B sales, for huge multinationals and mom-and-pops, among a few who were flat out frauds, have practiced as an attorney, spent over a decade in academia, been around my family, been in seedy bars, to rock concerts, fighting it out and working it out and offending and seeking forgiveness for all my adult life, been an elder in a neocalvinist church, an arminian church, been on the paid staff of a mainline denomination, sat in John Piper’s very sanctuary and heard the personage speak, and I have never seen such fraudulence and back biting and purported friends who’ll turn on you and slip the knife in as I’ve seen in the average U.S. church.

    It’s not because of Jesus, He’s not to blame, He’s pure love and kind to the last degree, He’s got your back right to the death, it’s because people like Mr. Hellerman have propped up people like Mr. Piper and Driscoll and Noble and Furtick and Macarthur and all their little thousands of sycophants and have created a place that is false and has the form of righteousness while deny the power, that has the all the accoutrements of Christian fellowship except for love.

    And the dundering Mr. Hellerman gives the worst sort of abusers atool to use to split people from their families.

  288. Law Prof wrote:

    It’s not because of Jesus, He’s not to blame, He’s pure love and kind to the last degree, He’s got your back right to the death, it’s because people like Mr. Hellerman have propped up people like Mr. Piper and Driscoll and Noble and Furtick and Macarthur and all their little thousands of sycophants and have created a place that is false and has the form of righteousness while deny the power, that has the all the accoutrements of Christian fellowship except for love.
    And the dundering Mr. Hellerman gives the worst sort of abusers atool to use to split people from their families.

    Preach it, Law Prof!

  289. Ken F wrote:

    I’ve found another “mark” to look out for is the use of the word “distinctives” in relationship to a church’s or ministry’s statement of beliefs. Here’s an example from the church Velour left: http://www.gbfsv.org/our-ministry-distinctives.
    John MacArthur’s website (gty.org) has a list of doctrinal distinctives. I don’t know why churches and ministries need to be “distinctive.” Distinct from what?

    I teach, among other things, business. “Distinctives” is a concept borrowed from the world, from marketing. You want your product to be distinct from the competition, this enables you to build the strength of your brand, to charge more for the product, to capture greater market share. Anytime you see a church with a “distinctives” tab on their website, understand that they are either ignorant, just lemmings following the pack not really carefully considering what they’re doing–and thus probably not worth the trouble–or wolves seeking to draw you into their brand for the purposes of enslaving you–and are worth the trouble to expose and publicly condemn. But Jesus is not a brand and He did not call us to establishing distinctives, but to unity in Him.

    If a group of people who refer to themselves as leaders of the church are seeking to make themselves distinct, then know that they are neither leaders nor perhaps even part of the Church.

  290. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Stan wrote:

    I just watched a show about the Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps that included some clips of Lila Green’s sermons. Take out her sneers and replace with a smug grin, and it’d sound just like a Keller/Piper/Driscoll mimicking dudebro pastor. Idolatry, lust, rebellion, accusations of hiding sin, it was all there in content.

    Ah, the ACMTC.
    “An updated, ferocious version of the Salvation Army.”
    First heard of them in Donna Kossy’s KOOKS: a Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief (Feral House, 1994), right between the sections on “Black Messiahs” and “The End Was Here Before”.

    Found the Website reference (Kooks Museum) archived on the Wayback Machine:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20081204123158/http://www.pacifier.com/~dkossy/ACMTC.html

    Unfortunately, Kooks‘ writeup of Yahweh ben Yahweh and other Black Messiah cults was never uploaded.

  291. Law Prof wrote:

    BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Max wrote:
    The way it was taught to us is that the Apostle is the thumb.

    Interesting metaphor your former leaders

    I had missed this earlier, it helps understand failed leadership, they are all thumbs.

  292. Law Prof wrote:

    The article’s off base, dangerous.

    LP, not only is it dangerous, but it is blatantly self-perpetuating by design. Of course a seminary professor will argue that church family takes precedence over birth family (though the apostle Paul might just argue differently, “he who does not provide for his own household…” and all that). Seminaries matriculate very few students who are sent at the leading of birth families, but many that are sent by their churches.

  293. Looks like too many ‘apostles’ are out there claiming too much ‘authority’ based on a book they didn’t write;
    ‘apostles’ who have NO direct connection to those who did write it’s contents down OR those who saw that it’s writings were collected and collated with an authoritative canon and passed down faithfully, treasured and hand-copied with great care over ages and ages until the time of the printing presses.

    ‘self-annointed’? Impossible. More like ‘self-appointed’.
    They have no claim to the Great Tradition of the Church by right of ANY connection through direct inheritance from the actual Apostles, no.

    Their use of the title ‘Apostle’ is blasphemous.

  294.   __

    Eye In The Pulpit : “Understanding the New Calvinist Movement?”

    hmmm…

    The Neo-Calvinist movement premises itself on the assumption of ‘Total Depravity’ ™ .

    That is, that their average parishioner would be weak and prone to sin.

     “Total depravity?”

    “…Calvinism teaches that human beings are all born so corrupted and depraved by original sin that they, we, are incapable of even exercising a good will toward God. As Scripture says “There is none that does good, no not one” (Romans 3:12) and “There is no one who seeks after God” (Romans 3:11). Total depravity does not mean that every person is as evil as it is possible to be. Rather, it means that every part of us, including our reasoning ability, is so damaged by inherited Adamic corruption, original sin, that we cannot do what is truly good apart from grace.” – Roger Olson

    Accountability and the New Calvinist movement?

    “Calvinistic teaching claims that all humans have inherited a corrupt spiritual nature due to the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Due to this marred and perverse nature, the human heart is desperately deceitful, and man’s nature is evil. This doctrine generally is referred to as “total depravity.” Calvinists insist that “[e]vil pervades every faculty of his [man’s] soul and every sphere of his life. He is unable to do a single thing that is good” (Palmer, 1972). He cannot do, understand, or desire the good: “the corruption extends to every part of man, his body and soul” (Steele and Thomas, 1963, emp. in orig.).
    Calvinism further maintains that, due to this inherited spiritual depravity, babies are born with a corrupt nature. Babies, therefore, are born depraved and, by definition, are in a “lost” state. The only way for babies to be saved is for them to be one of the elect—a predetermined few whom God arbitrarily decided to save while condemning all others. Hence, free will does not enter into the question of salvation. The Calvinist maintains that people cannot choose to receive salvation from God. They are in a lost condition due to their corrupt spiritual nature, and do not have the ability even to desiresalvation, let alone to attain it.

    …It is imperative that every person of an accountable mind and age realize the responsibility that exists. Current culture is characterized by a tendency to evade responsibility for one’s action. Lawbreakers blame parents, genes, and society for their actions. But if the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that every single accountable human being will one day stand before God and give account for his or herown actions. “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” and “each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10,12). –
    Dave Miller, Ph.D.

    As a result of these assumptions, it is necessary for credentialed pastoral leadership in this 501(c)3 church movement, to be intimately involved in ‘monitoring’ (R) their congregants’ lives, for the sake of “accountability” (R) .

    Hence legally binding membership agreements, mandatory attendance, and participation in some type of accountability group.

    Furthermore, you are apparently not believed to be a ‘true follower of Jesus Christ’ ™ until you can clearly demonstrate –to ‘their’ satisfaction, sufficient proficiency in Calvinist doctrine.  

  295. Velour wrote:

    I believe Julie Anne’s ex-church in Oregon, pastored by John MacArthur The Master’s Seminary graduate [aka thug] had the name “Grace” in it.

    Velour, although Chuck O’Neal is a fanboy of John MacArthur, he’s never been to the Master’s Seminary.

  296. Julie Anne Smith wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    I believe Julie Anne’s ex-church in Oregon, pastored by John MacArthur The Master’s Seminary graduate [aka thug] had the name “Grace” in it.
    Velour, although Chuck O’Neal is a fanboy of John MacArthur, he’s never been to the Master’s Seminary.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  297. @ Julie Anne Smith:

    Julie Anne,

    I was just at your ex-church’s website. Your ex-pastor C.O.N. was in the military but it looks like he never went to any seminary.

    Your ex-church has 528 google reviews and an average of 1.2 stars.

    Good for all of the people who are on there speaking out, including your Hannah.

  298. Christiane wrote:

    ‘self-annointed’? Impossible. More like ‘self-appointed’.

    Easy to Self-Anoint yourself if you’re already God…

    They have no claim to the Great Tradition of the Church by right of ANY connection through direct inheritance from the actual Apostles, no.

    Apostolic Succession? That’s ROMISH(TM)!
    “NO POPERY!”

    Their use of the title ‘Apostle’ is blasphemous.

  299. Velour wrote:

    I was just at your ex-church’s website. Your ex-pastor C.O.N. was in the military but it looks like he never went to any seminary.
    Your ex-church has 528 google reviews and an average of 1.2 stars.

    He did go to Multnomah University, but left because of doctrinal issues, one including women in the pastorate if I remember correctly. He could not associate himself with anything like that. But he did complete his Bachelor’s at Corban University, in Psychology, of all things. He’s staunchly against psychology (would not let a domestic violence survivor attend a support group for survivors because of the psychological influence).

    At one point, the Google review had over 900 negative reviews. Google removed some after they changed their system a while back. The influx of reviews on Google was due to the publicity my case had. The public can discern better than people in the church.

  300. Linda wrote:

    So what is my point? Just this: when Jesus moves in and changes hearts, and people desire to obey Him, you don’t need a lot of rules and regulations to keep people from gross sin.

    I will never understand why people find this so hard to understand. Do unto others is universal. At the very least those who claim Christ should get the fruit part. Instead so many have opted for the perpetual sinner meme that ends up as moral equivalency arguements. And worse they make everything a sin including, being a female, not obeying charlatans and even reading others thoughts!

  301. Law Prof wrote:

    and I have never seen such fraudulence and back biting and purported friends who’ll turn on you and slip the knife in as I’ve seen in the average U.S. church.

    I can totally relate. Nothing worse than using Christ to hide or perpetuate deception and evil.

    And thank you for adding it has nothing to do with Christ. That is a big message for me. Which is why free will is so important. Otherwise…..

  302. Julie Anne Smith wrote:

    He did go to Multnomah University, but left because of doctrinal issues, one including women in the pastorate if I remember correctly. He could not associate himself with anything like that.

    Pity for him that he’s got so many problems that he can’t show respect for all of the women carrying God’s Word.

    Having had my *tour of duty*, by mistake, of a NeoCalvinist, Comp promoting, 9Marxist,
    John MacArthur-ite church — I got sick of the whole anti-woman thing. As a child
    I met my Presbyterian grandmother’s (an educator’s) missionary friends, including women doctors who were medical missionaries in African villages and other remote places.
    They carried God’s love, the Word, built up communities, delivered muchly needed services.
    There was a time, including 100 years ago, when women of various faiths were sent to to the mission field with joy and blessings.

    I remembered my grandmother’s Presbyterian friends sitting in a Comp church, womens’ gifts silenced and hobbled. No. Just no.

    But he did complete his Bachelor’s at Corban University, in Psychology, of all things.

    I just took a look at the college’s website. Christian. Very small.

    He’s staunchly against psychology (would not let a domestic violence survivor attend a support group for survivors because of the psychological influence).

    That’s very sad that a d.v. survivor had an abusive relationship and an abusive church/cult. It shows how little boundaries that he has that he thought it was his right to tell anyone that they could not obtain support and services for a problem.

    My ex-pastor also was a big believer in “Biblical Counseling”, listening to the sound of his own mouth spout non-sense to church members and we were supposed to “listen” and “obey”. His claim to educational fame was a *Ph.D.* (cough) from a diploma mill in Missouri. Cost? $299. A normal Ph.D. takes about 8 years to earn from a bona fide university.

    He had a sub-par education from John MacArthur’s The Master’s College and The Master’s Seminary. I look at the whole thing as a franchisee training ground, like learning how to operate your own 7-11 (I mean, “church”).

    At one point, the Google review had over 900 negative reviews. Google removed some after they changed their system a while back. The influx of reviews on Google was due to the publicity my case had. The public can discern better than people in the church.

    Yes the public can discern better than the church and those reviews are, rightfully, scathing.

  303. Law Prof wrote:

    Anytime you see a church with a “distinctives” tab on their website, understand that they are either ignorant, just lemmings following the pack not really carefully considering what they’re doing–and thus probably not worth the trouble–or wolves seeking to draw you into their brand for the purposes of enslaving you–and are worth the trouble to expose and publicly condemn. But Jesus is not a brand and He did not call us to establishing distinctives, but to unity in Him.

    Christ calls all humankind to Himself. The Holy Spirit points us only to Christ.

    “My soul is at peace, for long ago, I ceased to belong to myself.”
    (Therese of Lisieux)

  304. Law Prof wrote:

    If a group of people who refer to themselves as leaders of the church are seeking to make themselves distinct, then know that they are neither leaders nor perhaps even part of the Church.

    Unfortunately, it seems to sell. Maybe we need separation from church and business as much as we need separation of church and state.

  305. Ken F wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    If a group of people who refer to themselves as leaders of the church are seeking to make themselves distinct, then know that they are neither leaders nor perhaps even part of the Church.
    Unfortunately, it seems to sell. Maybe we need separation from church and business as much as we need separation of church and state.

    I think many of the unwary and naive, like me, go to a church with the best of intentions and find ourselves in these abusive churches.

    Now that I’ve learned so much about those types of churches and leaders here, and from other resources, the pastors/elders/leaders seem all of the more calculating to me.
    Because they knew going in to it that they were setting up the sheep. Ruthless men.
    Calculating.

    I think many of these churches are like getting a 7-11 franchise. And many seminaries are merely franchisee training grounds, like John MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary.

  306. Law Prof wrote:

    Put it this way, be dead honest, where do you let your hair down and are really yourself? With your immediate family? At work? When out with friends? Or at church on Sunday?

    Exactly. I have various groups of friends; it’s only when I’m hanging out with the group that consists of some atheists, agnostics, and “nominal” Christians that I feel free to share what’s really going on in my life. And curiously, as I pondered this past weekend after hanging out with that group of friends, I feel the least pressure to “come out” and share whatever may be on my mind, because I know if I did share, they’d empathize and not bat an eye. It’s only when I’m with family or church people that I feel fake and under pressure to share what’s on my mind (which I never do, for obvious reasons).

  307. From the post: ” … focusing on themes of submission, loyalty, and obedience to those in authority … ”

    No subordination or hierarchy in any form?

  308. Bill M wrote:

    Questions are the order of the day. What does “Gospel Centered” mean?

    They really are, I agree. Just what is the “Gospel”, and exactly how does that get “Centered”?

  309. Muff Potter wrote:

    Just what is the “Gospel”

    I got is some considerable trouble more than once asking what ‘gospel’ meant of people who had used the term ‘gospel’ in a context other than ‘the Good News’. I was told I was ‘supposed to know that’ and I was ‘disingenuous’;
    but I was never told what it meant within the context of how people were using the term ‘gospel’.
    When I relayed my experience elsewhere, it got worse: firestorm of criticism.

    I had touched a nerve. And I didn’t even know the name of the game.

  310. Muff Potter wrote:

    Bill M wrote:

    Questions are the order of the day. What does “Gospel Centered” mean?

    They really are, I agree. Just what is the “Gospel”, and exactly how does that get “Centered”?

    Or that other favourite “gospel soaked”….*gag*

  311. @ Muff Potter:

    Bill M wrote: “Questions are the order of the day. What does “Gospel Centered” mean?”

    Muff wrote: “They really are, I agree. Just what is the “Gospel”, and exactly how does that get “Centered”?”
    +++++++++++++++++

    yeah, that one bugs me. my childhood church was called ____Community Church. Now, a new pastor has the reigns, and suddenly it’s _____Community Church, A Gospel-Centered Church.

    What, it wasn’t gospel-centered before? it wasn’t focussed on the ramifications of Jesus’ death and resurrection before?

    bugs the heck out of me. it’s so arrogant. they either truly think they are the elite class of ‘christian’, and until they came along that church was illegitimate. or else it’s a dumb attempt at marketing (like, if Tully’s Coffee were to bill itself as ‘a coffee bean-centered coffee’).

  312. By the way, I have been reading “Churches That Abuse” and to my surprise, the Christian cult I once belonged to is featured in Chapter 4. It’s like being taken back in time reading it.

  313. Muff Potter wrote:

    Just what is the “Gospel”, and exactly how does that get “Centered”?

    You are not supposed to think about what it means. It is a term that is used to elicit the approval of whatever is centered on the gospel whatever that means.

    That is the way they and other marketers and propagandists use language. I’ll bet if you asked any of the YRR pups your insightful questions, you would get a deer in the headlights non-response. Because they do not even know what they mean because they have not been taught to think but to parrot. And I am repeating what I heard from a graduate of SBTS who dared to think and ask questions.

  314. elastigirl wrote:

    it’s so arrogant. they either truly think they are the elite class of ‘christian’, and until they came along that church was illegitimate. or else it’s a dumb attempt at marketing (like, if Tully’s Coffee were to bill itself as ‘a coffee bean-centered coffee’).

    Both. Elitism and marketing. But, a good deal of marketing is an appeal to perceived elite status. An appeal to pride and narcissism that I am special and deserve the best and want everyone else to know how very special I am. The other main appeal of marketers and propagandists is fear of various kinds and its corresponding desire for guaranteed safety and assurance. Not coincidentally, IMO, status and fear are what the current crop of YRRs are selling.

  315. Ken F wrote:

    Maybe we need separation from church and business as much as we need separation of church and state.

    Might as well, we’re already seeing the separation of church and Christians.

  316. Josh wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    Put it this way, be dead honest, where do you let your hair down and are really yourself? With your immediate family? At work? When out with friends? Or at church on Sunday?
    Exactly. I have various groups of friends; it’s only when I’m hanging out with the group that consists of some atheists, agnostics, and “nominal” Christians that I feel free to share what’s really going on in my life. And curiously, as I pondered this past weekend after hanging out with that group of friends, I feel the least pressure to “come out” and share whatever may be on my mind, because I know if I did share, they’d empathize and not bat an eye. It’s only when I’m with family or church people that I feel fake and under pressure to share what’s on my mind (which I never do, for obvious reasons).

    Interesting, eh? Jesus told us that whispered secrets in inner rooms would be shouted from rooftops, He always seemed to be the one who said what He really felt about a situation, never seemed to ignore the elephant in the room, was honest in a manner that absolutely terrified His enemies, told it like to was, confronted religious bullies in shockingly public ways and then these things He did were recorded in a book that reads like an uncensored 2,000 year airing of the dirty laundry of God’s Chosen People.

    So, churches these days are often led by those who love to have their private leader-only conferences in inner rooms (as one who’s twice been an elder, trust me when I say, if what some leaders said in private about those in the pews were shouted from rooftops, they’d be run straight out of church at the point of sharp sticks), people seldom say what they really think in church for fear of not being seen as nice (not a fruit of the Spirit, by the way), many leaders brand anyone who’d dare confront their bullying and speak the truth about them the way Jesus always seemed to be doing as “gossips” and put them under church discipline, and the last thing that most church-goers seem comfortable with doing is airing our dirty laundry (unless it’s forced upon them in an ironically-named “care group” in which the primary purpose is to turn the love of Christ on its head by getting dirt on pew-sitters to use against them should they ever get out of line and stir up trouble by telling the truth the way Jesus did).

    So is this the Lord’s system or the Devil’s himself? Makes you wonder.

  317. Linda wrote:

    In addition to these marks of an abusive church, I would add two more:
    1. Pastor centered. For a picture of this pop over to Thom Rainer and see how he thinks you should speak to your pastor. (10 things pastors want to hear from their flock.)

    Came across some Rainer writings recently. Have to agree, the man comes across as an outright lover of self and spiritual bully in the worst possible sense.

  318. Gram3 wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:
    Just what is the “Gospel”, and exactly how does that get “Centered”?
    You are not supposed to think about what it means. It is a term that is used to elicit the approval of whatever is centered on the gospel whatever that means.
    That is the way they and other marketers and propagandists use language. I’ll bet if you asked any of the YRR pups your insightful questions, you would get a deer in the headlights non-response. Because they do not even know what they mean because they have not been taught to think but to parrot. And I am repeating what I heard from a graduate of SBTS who dared to think and ask questions.

    If one asked such a question, it would be considered proof they did not know the Gospel and they would boldly start quizzing you on the Gospel and quoting proof texts and creeds but never giving explanations because frankly, they don’t know that they don’t know! . Sigh.

    Just as you said: parroting. Been there, done that.

  319. Law Prof wrote:

    Linda wrote:
    In addition to these marks of an abusive church, I would add two more:
    1. Pastor centered. For a picture of this pop over to Thom Rainer and see how he thinks you should speak to your pastor. (10 things pastors want to hear from their flock.)
    Came across some Rainer writings recently. Have to agree, the man comes across as an outright lover of self and spiritual bully in the worst possible sense.

    http://fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com/2016/01/scam-alert-thom-rainer-offers-to-mentor.html

  320. Lydia wrote:

    http://fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com/2016/01/scam-alert-thom-rainer-offers-to-mentor.html

    Guess that’s no surprise at all. The $50, $100 or $250 a month will of course be paid entirely by unwitting parishoners and the pastor doing Thom a favor by signing up for $3000 a year of that magic thing called other people’s money (OPM) into that thing called Thom’s bank account will expect some quid pro quo, perhaps a few thousand in honoraria to speak at Thom’s church–again, of OPM. And that, too, will be arranged without the consideration of the little people who are actually paying for it. These people are thieves and liars.

    It is getting to the point where one has to wonder if the tipping point has not arrived where it’s safer to be out of those things that people call “churches” than in.

  321. Law Prof wrote:

    many leaders brand anyone who’d dare confront their bullying and speak the truth about them the way Jesus always seemed to be doing as “gossips” and put them under church discipline,

    Exactly. My former pastors/elders [Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, California]
    also were fond of telling hundreds of church members that the “elders had worked with [name of church member] for a long period of time to no avail and that [name of church member] is now at Step 3 of the church discipline process. Have nothing to do with them.”

    When I interviewed those church members, they had the EXACT same experience that I had.
    They were called/emailed by the pastors/elders to come to a meeting at church. The member
    went with the best of intentions, to find themself ganged up on, accused, screamed at, and threatened by the pastors/elders.

    My former senior pastor then describes these bullying sessions, in which people are threatened in to compliance. We’re were supposed to become “Stepford Members”.

  322. ^posted too soon. Should read: “My former senior pastor describes these bullying sessions, in which people are threatened in to compliance, as “We worked with [name of church member] to no avail.”

    I guess & his yes-men elders’ definition of “work” is akin to The MOB’s definition of “worked” with him/her.

  323. Law Prof wrote:

    It is getting to the point where one has to wonder if the tipping point has not arrived where it’s safer to be out of those things that people call “churches” than in.

    Amen. Safer for people and their children.

  324. @ Law Prof:

    Law Prof,

    I did some more digging after you double-checked for me before about my former pastor Cliff McManis *Ph.D.* from that Missouri diploma mill. The diploma mill’s “accrediting” agency, no great surprise, is not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The bogus accrediting agency was brought up on fraud charges by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

    My ex-pastor with the diploma mill *Ph.D.* and other diploma mill degrees now claims to have done “post-doctoral work in English” on the church’s website and at 3 different schools no less. What do you suppose that means? A few online classes here and there, if even that?

    “Rev. Cliff McManis has been in pastoral ministry since 1989, where he first began ministering to children at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. He graduated from The Master’s College with a B.A. in Biblical Studies and earned an M.Div. from The Master’s Seminary. He went on to earn his Th.M. and his Ph.D. in Ecclesiology from the Bible Seminary in Independence, Missouri. He went on to do post-graduate study in English at California State University (Los Angeles), California State University (Northridge) and Point Loma University.”

    http://www.gbfsv.org/pastor-cliffs-bio

    My ex-pastor repeatedly told us that he had defended The Gospel before hostile liberals at a state college in Southern California when he was taking classes to become a teacher.

    Given all of the people who’ve accused him of lying, and agencies (including law enforcement from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s to the California Attorney General’s Office), I checked his claims to be a teacher. I couldn’t find Cliff McManis’ name on the State of California Teacher Credentialing website as having a teaching credential.
    I then called Teacher Credentialing and asked for their help. Two supervisors then got involved to vet Cliff McManis’ stories/claims. California Teacher Credentilaing supervisors said that “California has NEVER credentialied anyone with the name Clifford McManis or Cliff McManis to teach>”

    Cliff McManis also claimed that he had been on staff at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Southern California and had served in Children’s Ministry. MacArthur called that “a lie” and said that McManis was never on staff and was “only a volunteer” like scores of other volunteers.

    “Rev. Cliff McManis has been in pastoral ministry since 1989, where he first began ministering to children at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.”

    Cliff McManis had ordered the excommunnication/shunning of a godly doctor in his 70’s, faithful husband for nearly 50 years and loving father to grown children, on some trumped up charge. The doctor is a long-time, close personal friend of John MacArthur’s, who was outraged at what McManis did to the doctor.

    The doctor, by the way, said when I contacted him and his wife, that he had been called in to meet with the Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders. He thought they were going to ask him to be a church officer.

    Much to the good doctor’s surprise, the pastors/elders screamed and yelled at the doctor and falsely accused him!

    Countless former church members describe the same kinds of meetings. The same thing was done to me. Everyone described being ganged up on by anywhere between 2 to 4 pastors/elders.

    The pastors/elders did the same thing to me.

  325. Gram3 wrote:

    I’ll bet if you asked any of the YRR pups your insightful questions, you would get a deer in the headlights non-response.

    I remember a short article by CS Lewis chastising clergy for using jargon because they didn’t understand their subject.

  326. @ Muff Potter:

    The question was more rhetorical than anything else. We have creeds, councils, and ancient parchments out the wazoo that try and answer the question of what this good news is, but they all wind up being somebody else’s “doxy” as Franklin wrote to his friend Adams (the elder) in a letter.
    The Good News to me is Jesus the Son of Mary, conceived by the supernatural power of the Almighty himself, no human male DNA involved. His very literal and tangible person, nothing more, and nothing less.

  327. Velour wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    many leaders brand anyone who’d dare confront their bullying and speak the truth about them the way Jesus always seemed to be doing as “gossips” and put them under church discipline,
    Exactly. My former pastors/elders [Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, California]
    also were fond of telling hundreds of church members that the “elders had worked with [name of church member] for a long period of time to no avail and that [name of church member] is now at Step 3 of the church discipline process. Have nothing to do with them.”
    When I interviewed those church members, they had the EXACT same experience that I had.
    They were called/emailed by the pastors/elders to come to a meeting at church. The member
    went with the best of intentions, to find themself ganged up on, accused, screamed at, and threatened by the pastors/elders.
    My former senior pastor then describes these bullying sessions, in which people are threatened in to compliance. We’re were supposed to become “Stepford Members”.

    My son-in-law experienced this at the neocal we all once attended, he wanted to meet with pastor before he left to move to another city, to have a few reminisces, so arranged the meeting to which pastor readily agreed, he was met by pastor and four elders, who proceeded to rip him to shreds for the next hour, interrupting him at every turn, shouting him down. We left two weeks later. The church imploded due to sheer abuse two years later. Of those five men who sat in that room and ripped my son-in-law, only one, the pastor, repented or apologized for his behavior, and only after the same sort of abuse was inflicted on him a few years later at another church did he see the light and see how ugly he’d been.

  328. Velour wrote:

    I did some more digging after you double-checked for me before about my former pastor Cliff McManis *Ph.D.* from that Missouri diploma mill. The diploma mill’s “accrediting” agency, no great surprise, is not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The bogus accrediting agency was brought up on fraud charges by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

    There is an epidemic of pastors, evangelists and sundry church leaders who claim false academic credentials or who set up diploma mills to rake in extra cash, and there seems to be no shortage of people willing to send in a few hundred to procure a fake ThD or PhD and start calling themselves “Dr. So-and-So, Prophetess”, or “The Right Reverend Pastor Such-and-Such, ThD.” One fellow in New Hampshire, “Dr.” Dave Berman, appears to have three mill degrees or degrees from very shady institutions–his doctorate was conferred by a diploma mill housed in a tiny office in North Carolina.

  329. Pingback: Linkathon! | PhoenixPreacher UNITED STATES

  330. Law Prof wrote:

    Linda wrote:
    In addition to these marks of an abusive church, I would add two more:
    1. Pastor centered. For a picture of this pop over to Thom Rainer and see how he thinks you should speak to your pastor. (10 things pastors want to hear from their flock.)
    Came across some Rainer writings recently. Have to agree, the man comes across as an outright lover of self and spiritual bully in the worst possible sense.

    I’ve never seen that blog till now. I read the post “Ten Sentences That Make Pastors Cringe.” The comment section reminds me of whiny boy-men. I say if you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen. There’s always other professions if being a pastor is soooo hard.

  331. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:
    The question was more rhetorical than anything else. We have creeds, councils, and ancient parchments out the wazoo that try and answer the question of what this good news is, but they all wind up being somebody else’s “doxy” as Franklin wrote to his friend Adams (the elder) in a letter.
    The Good News to me is Jesus the Son of Mary, conceived by the supernatural power of the Almighty himself, no human male DNA involved. His very literal and tangible person, nothing more, and nothing less.

    Ah…but Muff…that doesn’t mention the TULIP points or Doctrine of Grace. 😉

  332. Law Prof wrote:

    We left two weeks later. The church imploded due to sheer abuse two years later. Of those five men who sat in that room and ripped my son-in-law, only one, the pastor, repented or apologized for his behavior, and only after the same sort of abuse was inflicted on him a few years later at another church did he see the light and see how ugly he’d been.

    That’s horrible that your son-in-law was subjected to that meeting. I’m glad one of the abusive pastors/elders finally repented.

    Thank goodness your former NeoCalvinist, abusive church imploded.

    When I interviewed the couple from my former church – the doctor in his 70’s was ordered to be excommunicated and shunned on some trumped up charge (solid Christian, faithful
    and loving husband for nearly 50 years, loving and close father to grown children,
    gave of his time and money to Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley in California)
    the doctor’s wife told me that she had ALWAYS hated the senior pastor, his yes-men elders,
    the church, and she thought many of the church members were emotionally unhealthy people.
    She told me that she had repeatedly warned her husband that they should NOT go to this church. She was right!

    Funny thing, the senior pastor at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley (Cliff McManis) told hundreds of church members to “pray for [the doctor’s] wife” during the excommunication/shunning of her husband. Neither the doctor or his wife were present.

    The senior pastor made it sound like a hostage situation, the poor, poor wife in the face of her husband who was doing whatever the GBFSV pastors/elders didn’t like.

  333. @ Law Prof:
    They are so blatant about it! They have no integrity! It is the new normal. That is what blows my mind. We have to tell people it is not normal. It is a sort of modern form of selling indulgences by way of consultant.

  334. ^Additional note: The doctor’s wife told me when I interviewed her that she hopes “that Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley implodes”.

  335. Law Prof wrote:

    (unless it’s forced upon them in an ironically-named “care group” in which the primary purpose is to turn the love of Christ on its head by getting dirt on pew-sitters to use against them should they ever get out of line and stir up trouble by telling the truth the way Jesus did).

    So is this the Lord’s system or the Devil’s himself?

    From that description in parens, I’d say Elron Hubbard’s system.
    Auditing Records used for Fair Game.

  336. Lydia wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    They are so blatant about it! They have no integrity! It is the new normal. That is what blows my mind. We have to tell people it is not normal. It is a sort of modern form of selling indulgences by way of consultant.

    It’s a consultant scam with Bible Verses engraved on it.

    “First you take a step, and then you Jive. Then you step, and then you Jive. Step and Jive, step and Jive, step and Jive…”
    — from my college days; someone (with the aid of a couple beers) describing how to do a consultant scam

  337. Velour wrote:

    That’s horrible that your son-in-law was subjected to that meeting. I’m glad one of the abusive pastors/elders finally repented.

    When I found out what happened, we had a meeting ourselves, at my house. This time it was pastor and right hand man on one side, son-in-law (to be) and me on the other. This was a fair fight. Son-in-law to be laid low, though, so it was pretty much one against two. They started out trying to ride me hard as had been done to son-in-law a couple days before, started pointing fingers, yelling at me, attempting to shout me down but I flat out turned it on them and ended up going down a list of biblical reasons why they were the ones persecuting the church, why they were lying, why their system was the unbiblical one, got on a roll that evening and had done some homework and ended up routing them until they were speechless. After a bit, the only thing right-hand man could say was "He's using the tricky lawyer stuff on us!" They finally looked at each other, looked to the door, and quickly hopped up and walked out without another word, it was the sort of walk that I remember from lifeguarding days, the kids who do that run/walk when you chirp that whistle at them and tell them to "stop running!" They wanted nothing more of having things turned on them and being rhetorically hammered. It wasn't that I am all that good at it, in fact, I'm one of those who always thinks of the perfect thing to say two days later, was such a hot shot lawyer I had to find a job as a teacher to make a living (i.e, I wasn't a hot shot lawyer by a country mile), but one thing I had on my side was the truth. They really had nothing to say, no way of defending themselves, I wouldn't have wanted to try and defend what they were defending, would've been routed as well. Anyway, while right-hand man is still by all accounts an abuser, drifting from church to church seeing which one will have him for a little while until they catch on and run him out, pastor repented some years later and changed clean round, proving that there can be hope for anyone.

  338. @ Law Prof:
    Lesson to be learned here. Don’t back down. Never assume they are “reasonable”. They aren’t. I learned the hard way. It was a shock how unreasonable these types really are.

    They simply do not know what to do with someone who stands up to them and could care less about their title or position. It is similar to finally dealing with school yard bullies.

    The biggest mistake is meeting them alone. They are not reasonable! Don’t be fooled.

  339. Deb wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    This is a story we’d love to share in a post, minus true identities of course.

    Maybe, but I’d have to have pastor’s permission. He seemed six years ago to be a monster, an abusive sociopath, and yet, I was wrong, he was just a lost guy who’d done a very poor job of picking a father (dad was an abusive pastor, pretty ugly stuff) and was still smarting from it into adulthood. He was a trainwreck as a pastor, hurt a lot of people, but when the tables turned on him and he was jettisoned from a fellowship 250 miles away some years after our confrontation, he saw what he’d been in others and then went out of his way to set up a meeting of as many people as he’d hurt back here in our town and gave a public apology, drove down here to do it. It was a few hour apology, those who’d moved away were Skyped in, there were maybe 30 people there, which represented most of the adult people in that church when we attended. I gave him some sharp words at that meeting, was still angry, told him I didn’t trust him and he just took it and said I’d been right about everything. Looked over at him and couldn’t see a bit of guile in him, was a changed man and absolutely humbled. So gulped and told him “I forgave you” and he got up and hugged me and I realized at that point the guy was for real, a brother in Christ. Tear up thinking about it now. Never have seen anyone in my life so willing to go out of his way to repent and make everything right. So, our biggest adversary, a year or so later, we asked him to preside over the marriage of our daughter to our now son-in-law, the same guy he’d once abused, and he did an outstanding job, even worked in a bit of repentance in the marriage homily. Would love to be in close fellowship with him now (he gave up on the pastor career and is now out of the church entirely and one of those people trying to find genuine fellowship not under the thumb of paid professionals and abusers)

    So it is possible that people can repent, and not everyone who seems a monster is one. God knows the heart, and while I was right about this guy being a church destruction machine years ago, I was wrong about his heart, there was something there groping towards Jesus all along.

  340. Lydia wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    Lesson to be learned here. Don’t back down. Never assume they are “reasonable”. They aren’t. I learned the hard way. It was a shock how unreasonable these types really are.
    They simply do not know what to do with someone who stands up to them and could care less about their title or position. It is similar to finally dealing with school yard bullies.
    The biggest mistake is meeting them alone. They are not reasonable! Don’t be fooled.

    Brava, Lydia!

  341. Law Prof wrote:

    there was something there groping towards Jesus all along

    I’ve wondered if this isn’t true of all souls since the Incarnation of Our Lord . . . and yes, even the ones who don’t yet know His Name

    I think the possibilities of how Christ saves are far beyond our knowing, and this thought brings me a great deal of peace when I realize that God loves His whole Creation and we are told that Creation itself awaits His redemption.

  342. I was looking on Rainer’s website just now and found another list of 9 marks that goes well with this thread:
    http://thomrainer.com/2015/03/nine-traits-church-bullies/

    He calls it nine traits of church bullies, but notice how will it describes abusive church leaders. I’m not sure whether it is better to post this here to go with the 9 Marks topic, or to post it on the Driscoll thread to go with the abusive leadership topic.

  343. Law Prof wrote:

    but I flat out turned it on them and ended up going down a list of biblical reasons why they were the ones persecuting the church

    I had a similar experience, but in my SBC church the dysfunction of the elders and staff was so steeped in Southern gentility that it made it harder to sort out (I’m not from the South). In hindsight, I think my church had poured the YRR Kool-Aid(R), but had not fully imbibed. When I got called out I pushed back very hard with facts, logic, and even transcribed short-hand notes my wife had taken at particular meeting. They were not prepared for the facts and my firm resistance. My meeting with the elders ended something like a big Roseanne Roseannadanna moment (for those of you young enough to know what that means).

    That was a few years ago. In the mean time, I have continued to ask the elders and lead pastors pesky questions when I see things that don’t seem right. We are very blessed to have a humble pastor who wants to do right. There were a few young bucks who did not seem to get their way, which is good. I still go to that church because 1) it has not yet gone the YRR-route, 2) the pastor is such an outstanding preacher of grace, and 3) I don’t know where else to go since all the other churches in the Bible belt city seem to be getting fully drunk on the Kool-Aid(R). I’ve also found that I’ve lost nearly all of my enthusiasm for church. I did not recover from that experience. But on the bright side, I’m wondering if I made a difference. Had I not stepped up, would the church be registered with TGC and 9Marks? I don’t know. But at least they seem to be more cautious than they used to be.

    The bottom line is these “leaders” are mostly paper tigers. They don’t have true courage or strength of character. They don’t know what to do with true authority when they find someone who wields it. When you get invited to elders meetings, ask them to provide in writing (email is fine) exactly what they want or else refuse to meet with them. Bring your own witnesses with you, uninvited. If they get turned away then walk away with your witnesses. Bring documentation and notes. The point is to stand and not let yourself be subject to a yoke of slavery. It’s not easy, but in the end it is easier than living under abuse.

    Law Prof has more courage than I do because I don’t want to go back to collect the details of all the happened. It was politely ugly in a way that can only be done well in the South (is that putting it nicely enough for Southern sensitivities?).

  344. Darlene wrote:

    Ah…but Muff…that doesn’t mention the TULIP points or Doctrine of Grace.

    I’m a firm believer in the KISS (keep it simple stupid) rule. My statement of belief is under no obligation to schlepp somebody else’s baggage too.

  345. Law Prof wrote:

    got on a roll that evening… They wanted nothing more of having things turned on them and being rhetorically hammered. It wasn’t that I am all that good at it, in fact, I’m one of those who always thinks of the perfect thing to say two days later… but one thing I had on my side was the truth.

    There’s an embedded doctrine in Pentecostal circles that the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is speakingInTongues. But I often think of this wee snippet from Acts 4:

    Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…

  346. Law Prof wrote:

    n, he saw what he’d been in others and then went out of his way to set up a meeting of as many people as he’d hurt back here in our town and gave a public apology, drove down here to do it. It was a few hour apology, those who’d moved away were Skyped in, there were maybe 30 people there, which represented most of the adult people in that church when we attended. I

    That is so rare it is shocking.

  347. @ Ken F:

    Ken, you have described why I prefer the direct meanie over a deceptive charmer any day of the week. One may not like it but at least you know what you are dealing with. That is why I found Driscolls popularity so confusing. He was so obvious. Did people go to be entertained with the shock jock shtick? Did they enjoy being insulted and yelled at? Contrast that with Chandler who played, for the most part, the humble dude bro shtick. Those are the people who suck you in with sweet platitudes then blindside you.

    The key, in the end, is to quit giving people so much power and influence over our lives.

  348. Linda wrote:

    when Jesus moves in and changes hearts, and people desire to obey Him, you don’t need a lot of rules and regulations to keep people from gross sin. But yes, unsaved people will act……unsaved.

    I would also say that when Jesus changes leaders’ hearts and are living in subjection to Him then they aren’t abusive typically and if/when they are God will speak to the leader’s heart and convict them. The leader will also be open to correction from regular members.

  349. Lydia wrote:

    I found Driscolls popularity so confusing. He was so obvious. Did people go to be entertained with the shock jock shtick? Did they enjoy being insulted and yelled at?

    I do think that they wanted to be entertained.
    And for some reason they mistook his misguided rawness and confident delusions as some sort of cutting-edge relevance. They mistook his verbal, emotional, and spiritual abuse as disciplinary spankings that they deserved/needed in order to become more godly.

    It was disgusting, looking in on one of the Peasant Princess series the middle of the Driscoll Tsunami. I watched that one sermon and was so disgusted with his self-satisfied smugness. But I was more disgusted with the people who were taken in by it all.

  350. Law Prof wrote:

    So it is possible that people can repent, and not everyone who seems a monster is one.

    This is a beautiful story you shared. It’s nice to remember that with all the false repentance, sometimes it really is real.

  351. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    There’s an embedded doctrine in Pentecostal circles that the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is speakingInTongues.

    I wish as a child I had read pauls semi-rant about how speaking in the tongues is great but kind of useless if no one can interpret.

  352. Ken F wrote:

    Law Prof has more courage than I do because I don’t want to go back to collect the details of all the happened. It was politely ugly in a way that can only be done well in the South (is that putting it nicely enough for Southern sensitivities?).

    Know exactly what you’re talking about, we live in a part of the country that quite literally considers people from Atlanta to be d— yankees.

    I wasn’t courageous, just very angry, I care very much about that young man who was sneak attacked, knew full well it was flat out evil what they did, and didn’t care anymore about the church or what anyone thought of me (to this day, members of that ex-church who’ll acknowledge that the place had turned ugly and evil, that the leaders were vicious “in the name of God”, that they themselves were being abused and exhausted by it, will nonetheless treat me with that gentile southern brand of contempt because I spoke out against the leaders and that just isn’t done in the Deep South, even if what you’re saying’s right). As for recounting the details of all that happened, it’s kind of therapy now, but frankly, can’t remember all that happened, just a general feeling and certain things that were said that stick in the mind.

  353. Lydia wrote:

    That is so rare it is shocking.

    He’s an unusual sort of fellow, something like a Paul thing, just flat turned a 180 and all the intensity he’d had in perverting the truth, he decided to pursue it just as intensely. Maybe something like Paul getting knocked off the saddle.

  354. Lea wrote:

    I wish as a child I had read pauls semi-rant about how speaking in the tongues is great but kind of useless if no one can interpret.

    Was Paul specifically discussiong speaking in tongues in public/meeting?

  355. @ Bridget:

    IT’s 1 Corinthians 14.

    I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

    Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?

    etc…

  356. Steve240 wrote:

    I would also say that when Jesus changes leaders’ hearts and are living in subjection to Him then they aren’t abusive typically and if/when they are God will speak to the leader’s heart and convict them.

    King Henry II of England wanted control over the Church, so he appointed his buddy Thomas to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Well, something happened. Thomas had an epiphany of sorts, and ceased to serve Henry and began to be a REAL shepherd. Whereupon Henry voiced his displeasure at Thomas Becket in a way that some courtiers took as Henry waning Thomas dead. So, they went to the cathedral and murdered Thomas a Becket.

    What happened to Thomas? Once he and the King were said to be of one mind and one heart, very close friends. And then Thomas experienced something no one had anticipated.

    So what happened? Well, Thomas encountered SOMETHING that changed him profoundly.
    Of the mystery of GRACE, Anne Lamott once wrote, “it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”

  357. Bill M wrote:

    Which of us guys gets to be Tom Bosley?

    Sorry for late reply on this critical issue. 😉 I believe that Not Calvin’s Angels should decide.