How to Research and Avoid Churches Like Heritage Bible Chapel, Charles River Church, or Southshore Bible Church

“Never hide yourself! When you say something, don’t be in the shadow; let everyone see you!
Be courageous enough not to use any mask nor fake names neither blocking people.
Don't forget that hiding among the bushes is the affair of the cowards!
Let the Sun shines on your face and everyone see you,” ― Lea R. Caguinguin link

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So, you have just heard about a new church in town or maybe an old church with a brand new, young pastor who's "got answers." How do you find out if this is a decent church with loving pastors or some authoritarian church which is going to discipline the heck out of you when bad things happen in life? It is becoming harder to spot these churches. So, the following tips may, or may not, apply depending on the lengths churches go to conceal their true intentions.

Beware the *friendship* trap. It may not be friendship, but affinity due to shared membership and cognitive dissonance.

Remember, it is the goal to get you and your family involved in the church. People will be nice to you but do not assume that means that they really care about you. They like you so long as your keep with the program. The moment you deviate, you will see people beginning to distance themselves from you. That is because they are not your friends.

These are insecure people who want to be reassured that they have chosen the right church, the right pastor and the right secondary or tertiary doctrine. It is extremely difficult for people who like to think they are intelligent and insightful people to discover that they have chosen poorly so they pretend they haven't. This is cognitive dissonance. It can't be them so it must be you. 

They will do everything in their power to convince you that you re being unbiblical, hurting name of Christ, not being submissive to authority, gossiping, etc. I know this is hard to accept when you are on the receiving end but it is not about you. It is about them and their insecurities. They will distance themselves from you because you were not really their friend. You were merely their cheerleader, assuring them that they made the right choice.

A test if you are wondering about the friends you have in the church you are now in.

The next time you get together with your small group, tell them you are not sure you agree with your pastor on one of his pet teachings. Watch the responses of your small group. See if they become uncomfortable or try to talk you down. Try to do the same thing with you pastor. I still remember telling my pastor that  I disagreed with him on young earth creationism. He became irritated and even tried putting me down. I knew then that I had a thin-skinned pastor who only accepted me so long as I acquiesced to his pet theology.

Beware new church plants or new pastors in old churches, especially those started since the early 2000s: Read about the history of the church.

Most people are unaware that the Baptist are targeting the northern states for church plants. These particular church plants or church takeovers are almost always authoritarian based churches started by pastors with rigid ideas on the *right way* to do church. This will include heavy handed Neo-Calvinism. Marie found herself in such a church. See the history page.

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Find out which seminaries trained these pastors, paying careful attention to Baptist seminaries with a Reformed emphasis.

Most church websites will list the seminary training of the pastors. This is important since certain seminaries are known for teaching authoritarian Calvinism. These include, but are not limited to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Golden Gate Baptist Seminary (to change name to Gateway), and New Orleans Baptist Seminary.

See the leadership page at HBC.

Tim Cochrell has a PhD from SBTS and Kevin Wright has a Doctorate in Biblical Counseling from SEBTS. Therefore it is no surprise that they should be so dictatorial in their approach.

Recently, HBC had a woman's speaker, Janet Surette, from Southshore Bible Church. This is a good example of a church which does not list the seminaries attended by the leader. Ask which seminaries the leaders attended, preferably before you get on their wrong side. If they are not readily telling you where they trained, be suspicious.

If there is an emphasis on Biblical counseling, be very, very careful.

Marie was a former Biblical counselor and she can tell you many stories about the limitations of this form of counseling. Julie Anne Smith presented one post on the matter.

Read this again:  Because of Scripture’s sufficiency in this regard pastors and counselors can be assured that Scripture contains all things necessary for counseling the hard cases in counseling ministry.  Participants will come to understand that Scripture is relevant to the counseling task, and that the grace of Christ in Scripture ensures help in even the most difficult issues of life.

In a number of cases with which TWW has been acquainted, churches which emphasize Biblical counseling believe they have the ability to intervene in hard core abuse issues. This is very, very dangerous because they are NOT professionally trained to handle such serious mentally disturbed individuals.

What do you do if the church website doesn't give lots of clues about their belief structure?

Listen to posted sermons.

Heritage Bible Chapel has a website which has few red flags. No membership covenant is mentioned and no emphasis on secondary issues are to be found. The resource page is devoid of anything but sermons. Now, as one reader discovered by listening to sermons, Tim Cochrell has a rather strong view on divorce. Listening to sermons can take time but is very helpful.

Read websites of supported ministries.

While reading through the website, I discovered that this church helped start the Charles River Church in Boston.  Go to their resource page. Here you will see, disturbingly, recommended books by the Sovereign Grace Ministries leaders: CJ Mahaney, Gary Ricucci, Dave Harvey along with other known Calvinsta leaders like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, etc. Imagine recommending books by a ministry which has been mired in a sex abuse scandal?

Read websites on the churches of invited speakers.

I want to thank Ken F for leaving this comment. 

The speaker at the HBC women’s conference in May will be Janet Surette. Here is a link to Janet’s church: http://southshorebible.org/about-us/what-we-believe/. This church has something for everyone to love: reformed baptist, complementarian (Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is in the church constitution), “Biblical” counseling, young earth creationism (YEC is in their constitution), membership covenants, church discipline.
From their constitution: “All who come into membership are expected to recognize and submit to the authority of the overseers of the church (1 Corinthians16:15,16; 1 Thessalonians5:12, 13; Hebrews13:17). This responsibility will include willingly scheduling oversight meetings with Elders.”

At the website of Southshore Bible Church, we hit the mother lode. For example, under core values we have membership covenants, church discipline, and the importance of males (no women).

We practice Biblical membership and accountability by entering into and abiding by a Membership Covenant. We adhere to biblical church discipline for the spiritual good of our members and the health of the church. We prioritize discipleship of people versus relying on a program-oriented model of ministry

This website is an incredible compendium leading me to believe that one has a possibility of getting disciplined early and often.

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Here is a link to the PDF of the Constitution (containing the above mentioned Appendices)for delightful reading on this day after Christmas. Here are a few memorable items. (I have downloaded this in case it disappears.

No gray areas

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Speak or forever hold your peace.

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Discipline of members and nonmembers alike.

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Don't say a word if the elders tell you it is of *private concern* to the church.
Think about this when it comes to child sex abuse or domestic violence and the church screws up.

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Women are uniquely compassionate but have nothing to say to men in spiritual matters.

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Rigid views on young earth creationism

There are some churches which carry a secondary belief to an extreme. In this instance, it is a serious doctrinal belief that the earth is 6,000-10,000 years old. It is our experience that such churches are highly rigid in other areas as well.

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These are just few tips in preventing an unsuspecting person from getting involved in a church like Heritage Bible Chapel.  Remember, do not assume that church is *good* because they are nice to you when you first join. Take your time. We just joined a church after two years. We read extensively on the church, the denomination, nd the recommended resources. We stayed in the background, watching interactions between the pastors and the members. By the time we joined, we were experts on the church.

You become an expert at reading church websites. If you question something you are reading, get an answer. About 6 months ago, we got an email from someone who asked out opinion about the website of a church they were thinking about joining. We pointed out the red flags and told them to run away as quick as possible. 

Please feel free to share excerpts from your own current or former church website. Also, if you have a story about how you ignored red flags and joined a church, only to discover the red flags should have been heeded, let us know.

Comments

How to Research and Avoid Churches Like Heritage Bible Chapel, Charles River Church, or Southshore Bible Church — 570 Comments

  1. Because of being in the military and having lots of moves, I created a list of questions/prerequisites and literally went through the yellow pages trying to find a good church at each duty station location.

    Now, after experiencing a cult instead of a church, my list of questions would be entirely different.

  2. I was going to use an absurd example by saying that “Scripture is silent” on the subject of zippers, but then I realized that it does speak to the topic of clothing closings, with hooks or use of seamless garments. So it does offer a “framework, context and guiding” for wisdom on an issue that has no overt prohibitions or allowances that I have found.

    The larger issue is this: It isn’t necessarily what is SAID in such theological statements, but what is MISSING that can be equally important.

    What this particular statement on “grey areas” fails to truth-tell on is that some kind of human theology is often elevated to the level of Scripture as if it is actually what the Bible says, when it is merely the authors’ perspectives – and yet that becomes as much a rule to fill in with their [mandated] guidance. So, they take areas that are allowed, wisdom decisions and turn them into another rule where the decisions are already made.

    Such removals of opportunities for legitimate discernment and choosing of directions basically curtails the process of maturing, because *biblically* what differentiates babies from adults in a spiritual maturity sense is developing the practice of discerning between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).

    P.S. I consider the lack of discernment and decision-making among disciples as one of the most common problems in the American Church of today. It is also one that leads to cyclical systems of spiritual abuse, but non-discerning disciples do not ask questions, and if self-benefiting/power-seeking “leaders” step in to give all the answers, then we as abuse survivors know where that leads …

  3. “….churches which emphasize Biblical counseling believe they have the ability to intervene in hard core abuse issues. This is very, very dangerous because they are NOT professionally trained to handle such serious mentally disturbed individuals.”

    VERY important information, this

    I realize from experience that some who comment at TWW have had disappointing results from professional counseling,
    but counseling is a process during which there will come a point where the ‘client’ will be confronted. This sometimes results in the client breaking off counseling, because they cannot handle the confrontation nor do they have the patience to work through it in order to allow the counseling process to help them….. so a number of people will speak poorly of their ‘professional’ counseling experiences and that is normal.

    But what ‘untrained’ church folks have done in the role of counseling those who are seriously disturbed IS dangerous ….. these untrained people are already filled with hubris and ‘know-it-all’ attitudes and can do some real harm to fragile people in distress.

    Best to ask a trusted physician who is the best counselor or psychiatrist in town and take the advice. Physicians know what’s available and who is effective.

  4. Tears.

    I wish I had known all of this before my “tour-of-duty” of an authoritarian, abusive cult — Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley (9 Marxist/Complementarian-Patriarchy/John MacArthur-ite) with excommunications and shunnings of sweet, godly men and women for the slightest dissent, including my own.

  5. Southshore leadership does not want a congregation. They want zombies (men), and sub-par zombies (women).

  6. “Most people are unaware that the Baptist are targeting the northern states for church plants. These particular church plants or church takeovers are almost always authoritarian based churches started by pastors with rigid ideas on the *right way* to do church. This will include heavy handed Neo-Calvinism.”

    The Southern Baptist Convention has an aggressive church planting strategy to plant 1,000 new churches per year. In recent years, these have been staffed by young, restless and reformed graduates of SBC seminaries who do church following a cookie-cutter New Calvinist model. These “lead pastors” are spiritually immature, arrogant and controlling, and sincerely believe they have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the true gospel that the rest of us have lost. They tote ESV Bibles and church covenants, indoctrinate with reformed theology via small group meetings, and will shun or excommunicate you if you don’t walk the line … but otherwise are fun places to be (coffee lounges, cool bands). Oh, and women beware – you will be treated as lesser citizens of the Kingdom.

  7. Galatians 5:1
    It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

    1 John 4:18
    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

    Colossians 2:20
    If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees…

    It’s funny, I didn’t catch any drift of Jesus Christ in all of those rules and regulations. I don’t think it has much to do with him.

    Just think, if signing a contract of rules has the power to make or keep people righteous, Jesus died for nothing, didn’t he? Unfortunately, all the rules in the world are no guarantee that people will not sin, they are no guarantee that the leader who wrote the contract will not sin against you.

    Galatians 3:1-3
    You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

    You don’t have to subject yourself to a spiritual straitjacket to follow Christ. Just follow him.

  8. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    So, they take areas that are allowed, wisdom decisions and turn them into another rule where the decisions are already made.
    Such removals of opportunities for legitimate discernment and choosing of directions basically curtails the process of maturing, because *biblically* what differentiates babies from adults in a spiritual maturity sense is developing the practice of discerning between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).

    This is very insightful. I have often been frustrated at Christian friends who are stuck in a cycle of denial about a major problem in their lives, and the fact that most of the people enable that denial. I think this is a major reason.

    Christians have been taught, by their churches, to pretend problems don’t exist “for the sake of the reputation of the gospel”. But it doesn’t help the good news at all. It just creates bitter, angry Christians who never deal with the cause that makes them bitter and angry, who then take out their anger on their family members and alienate other Christians. Christians think nonbelievers aren’t watching, but they are, and they see it.

    Whenever I encounter an obstacle, one thing I’ve done since I was a baby Christian is ask myself “What is the heart of the problem?” I may not always be very good at finding solutions to problems, but finding the real cause of most problems at least has given me a big head start.

    For example, with the Calvinistas–the biggest problem in their theology isn’t complementarianism, it isn’t the takeovers, and it isn’t authoritarianism. It’s that they’ve eliminated Jesus from the center of their theology. They really aren’t Christians. They may include Jesus as an atonement, but not as God, and they completely ignore everything He said and did while on earth that abolished the system of religiosity of every other religion on Earth, including that of the Old Testament. Without Christ, the Calvinistas try to restore a system of religiousness, and they try to force it by takeovers and authoritarianism.

  9. drstevej wrote:

    I have a ThM from Dallas Seminary and a PhD from Westminster Seminary — am I unclean?

    You sound like you might be a respectable classical Calvinist, not one of the young whippersnappers called New Calvinists who are wreaking havoc in the American church. If so, we are not concerned about you.

  10. drstevej wrote:

    I am a Christmas Calvinist (No-L).

    Noel! Noel! It would appear that you are a 4-Point Calvinist, leaving the “L” (limited atonement) out of the TULIP acrostic. I’ve been waiting to meet someone who holds to Moderate Calvinism. I have a question. Moderate (4-point) Calvinism has always seemed a paradox to me. Can “Unlimited Atonement” truly come alongside “Unconditional Election” in a reformed theology grid? R.C. Sproul claims that a person who really understands the other four points ‘must’ believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic.

  11. In the 12/23 article about Marie’s church, Nancy2 quoted this part of Southshore Bible Church’s covenant:

    ***”No member shall have the right to inspect the church records as to: (i) the disciplining of any members, (ii) the hiring or firing of any employee, (iii) the need or problems of any member or employee, (iv) the financial contributions of any member, or (v) any other records which the council of Elders may determine to be kept confidential in the best interests of the church.”***

    I was reading the following article and I wondered to myself how members of the above church would manage to deal with it if something like this happened?

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/crime/article122000874.html

  12. The “L” may be logical given the others however, I do not find it to be biblical unless several passages are forced to fit. But this is a discussion unrelated to this thread. BTW my PhD was in Reformation history and theology so I have done the full tour.

  13. DMZ wrote:

    What is a Christmas Calvinist?

    A Christmas Calvinist is someone who does not believe in “Limited Atonement”, which is the “L” in the Calvinist acrostic “TULIP” which describes the 5-points of Calvinism. Thus, “No L” … get it … Noel … Christmas Calvinist.

  14. drstevej wrote:

    I do not find it to be biblical unless several passages are forced to fit.

    Yes, that seems to be a general problem with other tenets of reformed theology, as well … when one looks at the whole of Scripture.

  15. siteseer wrote:

    In the 12/23 article about Marie’s church, Nancy2 quoted this part of Southshore Bible Church’s covenant:
    ***”No member shall have the right to inspect the church records as to: (i) the disciplining of any members, (ii) the hiring or firing of any employee, (iii) the need or problems of any member or employee, (iv) the financial contributions of any member, or (v) any other records which the council of Elders may determine to be kept confidential in the best interests of the church.”***
    I was reading the following article and I wondered to myself how members of the above church would manage to deal with it if something like this happened?
    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/crime/article122000874.html

    A Subpoena Duces Tecum of records can change all of that and so can litigation, requirements to produce documents. They will be found in contempt of court, fined, and jailed if they don’t pony up the documents.

  16. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I was going to use an absurd example by saying that “Scripture is silent” on the subject of zippers, but then I realized that it does speak to the topic of clothing closings

    Because *truly Biblical (TM)” men are supposed to wear a dress and sandals, just like Jesus did. I am SO disappointed. I would expect Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware, and Mark Dever to be the first to put on dresses and sandals and play out their *Biblical* roles. Sigh.

  17. I would add checking the church and clergy’s Twitter accounts and see who they follow. The staff’s Twitters can reveal stranger characters. For some reason, the mobile Twitter website, just replace “www” with “m”, will let you do this without an account.

    Here’s an Episcopalian church in Dallas, full of those progressives and universalists, right? But the Twitter is following Desiring God and *PASTOR* Mark Driscoll:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/IncarnationDFW/following

    Follow the chain to that church staff’s Twitters, and you’ll even find Doug Wilson.

  18. Addendum: Sounds like Southshore Bible Church is serious about taking scripture literally. So on a visit one could expect plenty of holy kisses from all the biblical men, right?

  19. Stan wrote:

    I would add checking the church and clergy’s Twitter accounts and see who they follow. The staff’s Twitters can reveal stranger characters.

    Yes.

  20. Stan wrote:

    I would add checking the church and clergy’s Twitter accounts and see who they follow.

    Agreed! You can learn a lot about a pastor of a church you may be considering by checking their social media, particularly Twitter. If there is a preponderance of re-tweets from the New Calvinist who’s who … Piper Points, Mohler Moments, Mahaney Malarkey, etc. … RUN!

  21. siteseer wrote:

    In the 12/23 article about Marie’s church, Nancy2 quoted this part of Southshore Bible Church’s covenant:

    ***”No member shall have the right to inspect the church records as to: (i) the disciplining of any members, (ii) the hiring or firing of any employee, (iii) the need or problems of any member or employee, (iv) the financial contributions of any member, or (v) any other records which the council of Elders may determine to be kept confidential in the best interests of the church.”***

    Some of that sounds logical and there are times when things would be kept confidential for legitimate reasons, but there is something in the way they spell it out (‘no member’ and the ‘anything we want confidential’ bits) that comes off wrong. Some things should be confidential, but somethings should be wide open. I would not trust this church to figure out which is which.

  22. Max wrote:

    You can learn a lot about a pastor of a church you may be considering by checking their social media, particularly Twitter.

    I would say if your ‘pastor’ seems really mean and vicious on twitter, give it a pass. Or SBC Voices. OR any other social media platform.

  23. Excellent post and comments, TWW Community and Leaders: “How-to”.

    Thanks for this gift that will keep on giving.

    God’s best to all in the new year.

  24. “So, you have just heard about a new church in town or maybe an old church with a brand new, young pastor who’s “got answers.”
    — From the main article above —

    Avoid like the dead lands of Chernobyl and Fukushima any pastor young or old who has “answers”.

  25. Stan wrote:

    Follow the chain to that church staff’s Twitters, and you’ll even find Doug Wilson.

    Uhm, I follow some people because I want to see what people are up to. I don’t want to be surprised.

  26. @ drstevej:

    Lea wrote:

    Some of that sounds logical and there are times when things would be kept confidential for legitimate reasons, but there is something in the way they spell it out (‘no member’ and the ‘anything we want confidential’ bits) that comes off wrong. Some things should be confidential, but somethings should be wide open.

    Many (most?) of us here come from a Southern Baptist tradition. At least those of us over a certain age.

    In most (nearly all?) SBC churches 50 years ago everything was open to the congregation. Everything.

    And the move to authoritarian leadership in SBC churches seems tied to the Calvinist leanings of seminary graduates of the last 20+ years. So Calvinists get tarred by association.

    And for those who don’t understand just how an SBC churches used to be run here a great parody of the typical MONTHLY business meeting. And it is great because it cuts close to and into the bone in much of its parody. (It was directed at Rick Warren about 10 years ago but it applies to this topic today.)

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/the-pope-needs-a-business-meeting

  27. “I knew then that I had a thin-skinned pastor who only accepted me so long as I acquiesced to his pet theology”

    I’ve known a few congregations that had this attitude towards their minister. The only reason they went to class was to try to catch some doctrinal error. That’s very disheartening for a young minister. Recently we had a family get incredibly angry with us for preaching Jeremiah 29:11 in context.

  28. It looks like quite a few of my former churches no longer maintain their websites, so it’s harder to know what you’re in for unless you visit them.

    One of them does state:
    “God has ordained the family as the foundational institution on human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption. Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation. Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage.”

    Since I was a teenager at this church, I really had no idea what that meant or how it applied to me. But looking at their rules, I now realize that their main beliefs exclude any consideration of single-hood as a legitimate state of Christian life, it’s all either not-yet-married, or married or was-married-widow(er). Their collective effort being marriage-centric (and also increasingly complementarian) just made things worse as God seemed to have forgotten about me. My next churches seemed to double-down on gender teachings as the church was increasingly fighting against marriage equality by incessantly preaching about marriage and gender roles. So now it’s a reality – that pretty much every church that puts a big paragraph on marriage in their rules is also not saying that they really don’t like singleness and have little respect for it or anyone who just doesn’t snap their fingers, has a spouse, and is working on having children.

  29. I remember I got quite a bit of pushback when confronting my ex-pastor about his “Exodus 18” shepherding pyramid scheme to have underlings keep tabs on the pew sitters. First he said nobody was exempt. When I brought it up again, he relented a bit, saying I could opt out. Since only me being opted out doesn’t help other congregants, I continued to bring it up, and his responses ranged from “You’re out, why do you keep bringing this up?” to “It’s no different from having deacons!” News flash: Deacons can be abusive, especially if the pastor gives them the command to constantly check up on congregants and interrogate them if they miss church too many times.

    I brought up an issue I had with the church’s “Man Day” paint ball fight “fellowship” activity with another member and was rebuffed. “What else would they do? Going shopping isn’t exactly ‘manly’!” were his words.

    This church’s web page is very sparse. It was “planted” out of a college ministry I attended as a student, when things weren’t quite so crazy; it’s why I even attended at all. The church is affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination; no mention is made of this on the web site and I only found this affiliation out through a membership class. The pastor brings up that he attended Bible college in Louisiana but never mentioned the name of the school. Why are both the pastor’s education and the AoG denominational affiliation kept under wraps? I have my suspicions, and they involve AoG’s spotty past and the possibility of Pastor’s Bible college being a diploma mill.

    Sermons from my old church emphasize “being manly.” (American) football gets brought up a lot. A recent sermon series had a bodybuilding theme. Some (paraphrased) quotes from the pulpit:
    *Men, you know that women can get anything they want when they cry.
    *I saw this little six year girl do it, so I had to man up and do it too.
    *Real men carry all the groceries in the house in one trip.
    *How many ladies want a new kitchen? Now men, don’t roll your eyes at that; that’s where the food comes from!
    *This (some church growth scheme) doesn’t work with opposite genders. Dudes with dudes and girls with girls. I don’t need any jokers fooling around with this!

    Utterly ridiculous. By the time these sermons came around, I was already plotting my exit strategy. For the first couple years I attended, things weren’t this bad. Red flags began appearing with increasing frequency over the past year, both with dumb comments like the above, and with ridiculous programs like “Man Day”, “Exodus 18” shepherding, and the church growth scheme (dubbed “Operation Andrew”.)

    The past sermons are the only way to glean a lot of information; there’s literally a one sentence blurb on the pastor, in an “About Us” paragraph filled with hip buzzwords like “vibrant,” “full of excitement,” “atmosphere of celebration,” and “dynamic.” No resource page, list of recommended ministries/authors, or membership requirements posted on the site. (For the record, the membership class had a one page “Membership Application” that wasn’t nearly as detailed as the covenants that other churches use.)

    From the pulpit he’s quoted everyone from T.D. Jakes to Brian Houston of Hillsong to ARC big-wig Chris Hodges to the Pied Piper himself. So it appears his theology comes from all over the place. Sermons also disparage “traditional” churches, poking jabs at pews, stained glass, and hymnals.

    So basically, with my old church, the web site isn’t going to bring up many red flags; you really do have to delve into (several) past sermons in order to start revealing some of the issues. And others, like the gender-separates socials and the church growth/shepherding control schemes are even harder to research since those were typically part of announcements that weren’t posted online.

  30. Southshore: “What Scripture prohibits, we prohibit”
    Apparently they missed the part about the first shall be last, do not lord it over other believers, and it shall not be so among you. Last I heard this was pretty important.

  31. I still can’t find my way back into a church. I go but then this intense anxiety hits me once I walk out. I still feel the loss the pain the abandonment by those who did exactly what you said. Befriended me and my child then betrayed trust and hurt my kid. This is sad because I once felt like church was home and now its become a den of lions to me. I don’t mean the true church those who know Christ. Its those who obediently go to a church building fake being nice while professing the Name of Christ and you see picture perfect never realizing that your in with a den of vipers. One lady rubbed in how LBC has been giving her and her kids an amazing Christmas. Maybe she didn’t mean to however I got the sense that it was intentional. A few months prior I go visit her in the hospital to make peace because she had told me how dare I go public with billys abuse and that LBC was her church. More Ugly things were said. Anyways our time was good and forgiveness came naturally however again she pointed out how the church has been taking care of her and her kids. Something they never did for my Billy. To be honest it hurt to hear that. I was happy for her and at the same time reminded of the abandonment and betrayal of the very men who are there for one single mother whose decisions are skewed and abandoned another single mother who gave 6 years of serving the members who dropped us to now share a closeness with this woman. It sounds selfish I know all I can say is we are three years later and I still feel the loss. That night changed the course of our lives and im glad I was able to see for the first time In those 6 years. I just wish I would have known sooner to run.

  32. This last year Eagle put up a number of church websites as an exercise to look at and critique. I’ve found that no authoritarian church is complete without the misuse of Hebrews 13:17, I now do a word search for it. Ken F highlighted Southshore’s usage of it and it is downright scary. Members “are expected to recognize and submit to the authority of the overseers … This responsibility will include willingly scheduling oversight meetings with Elders.”

    That passage all by itself makes my skin crawl, these leaders don’t sound like overseers but like predators. Years ago I was hiking a trail when I came over a rise and spotted two bear cubs a short distance to my right, I immediately stopped and scanned around and then spotted the mother bear to my left. My reaction to that peril is the same as I would recommend after sensing the danger in this church, back away carefully till out of sight and then get far away.

  33. Bill M wrote:

    I’ve found that no authoritarian church is complete without the misuse of Hebrews 13:17

    We really need to have an entire article about this to help Christians be discerning and to be able to think through the passage properly when they are lied to about it by authoritarian churches.

  34. Christiane wrote:

    I realize from experience that some who comment at TWW have had disappointing results from professional counseling,
    but counseling is a process during which there will come a point where the ‘client’ will be confronted.

    Some counseling does that. Other forms of counseling helps equip people who have other serious problems that they need help with.

  35. 39th!

    “The next time you get together with your small group, tell them you are not sure you agree with your pastor on one of his pet teachings. Watch the responses of your small group. See if they become uncomfortable or try to talk you down. Try to do the same thing with you pastor.”

    Been there, done that! Even though the authoritarian in the pulpit encouraged the pew sitters to play the Berean and not take him at his word, but verify that it matches up with the Scriptures – he doesn’t really mean it.

    If you intend to question something “His Holiness” has stated be prepared to find a new church. What I received from my question was icy stares and the beginning of the shunning process. Oh, and an invitation to lunch to discuss the question in depth, where, what actually happened is my Christian character was questioned.

  36. When I first tried to go back to faith groups I would look for a church I could hide in the back as to see it coming. I was once going to ask if they gutted people who tick off the management but that would have been wrong. I do go to church, to a variety of spiritual communities. Probably the one I like the very best is very new age, deep into meditation, ran almost entirely by women which is one of the major things I like, and inclusive of LGBT folks. I’m just not into Eastern Spirituality, I mean no offense but many of the traditional Christian doctrines are burned in deep.

    I like EO, Catholic, and especially Anglican faith communities in a more traditional vein. I don’t think I could ever become a catholic or EO because of the deep seeded terror of going to hell if I went. I joke a bit about it but it’s one of those doctrines I had injected into almost every cell in my body. This is all emotional more than anything. I cant even go into an evangelical Church of any kind anymore which I am a bit sad about. It is important to keep trying though because we are social creatures and we need fellowship.

  37. Bill M wrote:

    That passage all by itself makes my skin crawl, these leaders don’t sound like overseers but like predators. Y

    Yes. And what about the passages that negate that translation. They freak if you point them out. It’s as if you are a heretic.

    The level of insecurity with these guys is incredible. It’s all about control. Those who want to control you and believe they know best for your life under the guise of caring– scare me the most. And worse, many are young with no real life experience. Even the older ones have lived in a bubble.

    I think a good indicator is whether or not a church views you as an adult –able to make your own choices.

  38. Todd that sounds like Deja Vo to me especially the “spiritual lunch” where one’s character is assassinated, salvation questioned etc. It was actually quite painful and left me with one real reminder, never argue or question middle or upper management in the franchise.

  39. “We just joined a church after two years. We read extensively on the church, the denomination, nd the recommended resources. We stayed in the background, watching interactions between the pastors and the members. By the time we joined, we were experts on the church.”

    I think this is the only way to go. However, I seriously doubt most 9 Marx churches would allow this. You would be labeled as unwilling to make a commitment, rebellious for not being under elder rule, etc. They would love bomb you first, of course.

    That would be another indicator: They pressure you to ‘make a commitment’.

  40. Preacher’s wife I have to agree with what you are saying as well, leaders/pastors that are trying to do their best need human encouragement as well.

  41. I was loved bombed for about two months then they started with the napalm I have that effect on some religious groups.

  42. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    Oh, and an invitation to lunch to discuss the question in depth, where, what actually happened is my Christian character was questioned.

    Now there is a blindside one does not soon forget. I can relate.

    My advice to all is to NEVER go alone. Never assume they are friendly meetings to discuss differences/issues as equal adults. They will still do all they can to get you alone.

    I know a guy who used to blog about this stuff and had a YRR reach out to him for reconciliation. He met. They had an irenic talk. The next thing he knows his edited words out of context from a recording are on the internet.

    Never assume you are dealing with people of character and integrity just because they are nice. Manipulators are always nice.

  43. @ Shauna:
    It can takes years to get through that heightened awareness anxiety when you attend any church now after what you guys went through. Do not feel guilty! Or weak! It is a survival instinct.

  44. preacher’s wife wrote:

    I’ve known a few congregations that had this attitude towards their minister. The only reason they went to class was to try to catch some doctrinal error. That’s very disheartening for a young minister. Recently we had a family get incredibly angry with us for preaching Jeremiah 29:11 in context.

    First of all, I don’t think “young ministers” should be the pastors of churches where they are the only pastor or the “head/teaching” pastor. I know it’s quite common, but most seminaries don’t prepare you for dealing with people. At all. I think recent graduates who seek out sole pastorships are likely not ready for that kind of responsibility.

    The reason for this is that people are going to get angry. It’s life. They do it outside the church for very minuscule reasons, too. Lately on TWW, we’ve kinda been discussing the fact that most pastors see this as an easy, blessed life before they actually start doing it. I know this is true because it described 90% of the wannabe pastors at seminary and while I was in college.

    Life is hard. Very hard. Most people in many congregations are struggling to make ends meet, even if they seem like they have it all together. I just moved away from a very affluent area where people had the house and the cars, but some had no furniture. It’s a facade. Most people have angry bosses, or people in their lives who criticize them on a daily basis no matter what they do. I do. Many people have kids who are acting out or have emotional challenges. Someone lashing out may not even be lashing out at the pastor, but at someone else who makes their life miserable.

    There’s no easy life, and there’s no reason any pastor should expect everyone to agree or even be nice all the time. This doesn’t happen to anyone. And if that pastor is trying to force the congregation to do so, then he is not a follower of Christ, and people should avoid that church, which is the point of this article.

  45. I *hate* the tactic of love bombing. There was one guy at my former church who was frighteningly good at it. He’d approach everybody walking through the doors, grinning from ear to ear, hug them unless they resisted (like I did), and proceed to ask a bunch of questions about what you did that week, how you were doing, etc. I started using a back entrance to avoid him and pretended not to notice him if he approached me while trying to leave. He also liked to yell “Amen!” at the top of his lungs during sermons, so no doubt he was one of the pastor’s favorite sycophants.

  46. brian wrote:

    I don’t think I could ever become a catholic or EO because of the deep seeded terror of going to hell if I went. I joke a bit about it but it’s one of those doctrines I had injected into almost every cell in my body. This is all emotional more than anything. I cant even go into an evangelical Church of any kind anymore which I am a bit sad about

    Oh my God, Brian. What did those people do to you? You sound very traumatized. Prayers.

  47. Bill M wrote:

    Members “are expected to recognize and submit to the authority of the overseers … This responsibility will include willingly scheduling oversight meetings with Elders.”

    That passage all by itself makes my skin crawl, these leaders don’t sound like overseers but like predators.

    They are not behaving in a pastoral way, no, that is for sure. They sound intimidating and controlling. That is the kind of place someone would go to who is vulnerable to cults.

  48. @ preacher’s wife:
    Thing is, that is part of the job they sign up for. And it is a vocation. I don’t have a lot of control over how my clients (people who pay me) agree, disagree, with me. etc. If it is out of control, I have to make hard choices. That is life.

  49. Re: Friendship trap. As a teacher, I watched JWs at the school gate ‘love-bombing’ other mums, especially one who was vulnerable, like newly divorced. It made me rethink how I welcomed newcomers into our small church. Obviously I wanted them to feel at home, but questioned my own motives, was I merely delighted to see more ‘bums on seats’, more money in the offering to keep us afloat? How to strike a balance between a genuine welcome, yet not be like those JWs in their ‘love bombing’ to entrap.

  50. @ brian:

    I hear you, Brian, and suspect I may be headed that direction too. In my mind, the reason we’re attracted to mainline denominations is that they don’t (usually) do the self-righteous “sin-sniffing.” On the other hand, they can be less warm.

    So that’s the rub: Many Evangelical churches in my area are more intimate but very controlling. The mainline churches are less intimate, and more hands-off.

  51. Lydia wrote:

    “We just joined a church after two years. We read extensively on the church, the denomination, nd the recommended resources. We stayed in the background, watching interactions between the pastors and the members. By the time we joined, we were experts on the church.”
    I think this is the only way to go. However, I seriously doubt most 9 Marx churches would allow this. You would be labeled as unwilling to make a commitment, rebellious for not being under elder rule, etc. They would love bomb you first, of course.
    That would be another indicator: They pressure you to ‘make a commitment’.

    At my ex-9Marxist/John MacArthur-ite church, Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, the pastors/elders announced from the pulpit to visitors that you shouldn’t come back to church if you weren’t willing to sign the Membership Covenant.

    Those pastors/elders at GBFSV are the rudest people you could ever meet. My ex-senior pastor (the guy with the fake Ph.D. from a diploma mill and another fake ‘advanced degree’ from the same diploma mill according to the U.S. Department of Education) would say from the pulpit that how did he and the other elders know that you were one of theirs if you hadn’t signed a Membership Covenant. I would silently retort from my pew, “I guess you all don’t have the brains to figure it out but they actually looked up the church, found out the service time, woke up, had breakfast, got dressed, and got here. What more do you need to know?” But oh nooooo…the smarmy, controlling pastors/elders who see themselves as the Holy Spirit in peoples’ lives said they didn’t know you were one of theirs and did so in a dramatic, rude fashion from the pulpit.

    My cheeks would be aflame with embarrassment at the rudeness shown to Christians who showed up and were told to not come back!!! Jesus didn’t do that — ever.

    Well-dressed Christians took these rude pastors/elders at their word and didn’t bother staying for the entire service, but got up and fled. I wish I’d joined them!

  52. Victorious wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    We really need to have an entire article about this to help Christians be discerning and to be able to think through the passage properly when they are lied to about it by authoritarian churches.
    Paul Burleson has done a 4-part post about “Authority and Church Life” that is very thorough and an excellent resource:
    http://vtmbottomline.blogspot.com/2014/03/authority-and-church-lifepart-one_15.html

    Thank you for posting that link.

  53. Another very good post. I am still digesting some of this.

    I found this quite applicable

    These are insecure people who want to be reassured that they have chosen the right church, the right pastor and the right secondary or tertiary doctrine. It is extremely difficult for people who like to think they are intelligent and insightful people to discover that they have chosen poorly so they pretend they haven’t. This is cognitive dissonance. It can’t be them so it must be you.

    They will do everything in their power to convince you that you re being unbiblical, hurting name of Christ, not being submissive to authority, gossiping, etc. I know this is hard to accept when you are on the receiving end but it is not about you. It is about them and their insecurities. They will distance themselves from you because you were not really their friend. You were merely their cheerleader, assuring them that they made the right choice.

    So very true. Another word to call this is DENIAL. The more someone has invested in a group (both time and dollars) they more likely they are to want to deny their group is wrong including their leaders when in fact their group/leaders are wrong. It is much easier to sit in denial than face the cognitive dissonance and have to admit you were duped.

    One other explanation for people passionately staying involved is the “Inner Ring” that C.S. Lewis writes about:

    http://www.lewissociety.org/innerring.php

    Just some thoughts.

  54. Marie was a former Biblical counselor and she can tell you many stories about the limitations of this form of counseling. Julie Anne Smith presented one post on the matter.

    Read this again: Because of Scripture’s sufficiency in this regard pastors and counselors can be assured that Scripture contains all things necessary for counseling the hard cases in counseling ministry. Participants will come to understand that Scripture is relevant to the counseling task, and that the grace of Christ in Scripture ensures help in even the most difficult issues of life.

    Mentally substitute “Dianetics” for “Scripture” and “Auditing” for “Counseling”…

  55. ishy wrote:

    For example, with the Calvinistas–the biggest problem in their theology isn’t complementarianism, it isn’t the takeovers, and it isn’t authoritarianism. It’s that they’ve eliminated Jesus from the center of their theology. They really aren’t Christians. They may include Jesus as an atonement, but not as God, and they completely ignore everything He said and did while on earth that abolished the system of religiosity of every other religion on Earth, including that of the Old Testament. Without Christ, the Calvinistas try to restore a system of religiousness, and they try to force it by takeovers and authoritarianism.

    Only God(TM) and their Holy Book (“IT IS WRITTEN!”)

    Calvin Islamized the Reformation, and these More-Calvinist-than-Calvin guys are its ISIS.

  56. @ Stan:
    They have a lot of priests at that church, full time, part time etc. But no women as priests. Apparently two part time women deacons. Given the Episcopal Church’s commitment to female priests I would ask about that if considering joining.

  57. For centuries, holy men and women tried to reform the church. It was Martin Luther who floated the idea that the problem was not ethics, but theology – the corruption on the church was a result of what it believed. This was a surprisingly enlightened approach, and the idea is seminal in modern philosophical formulation. Abstractly, it is the idea that an internally consistent philosophy cannot escape the boundaries of its presuppositions. This leads to a simplified, non-statistical approach to sociology (and realistically, when we discuss the behavior of shared, ostensibly voluntary, associations, we are discussing sociology first, not theology – something Luther got wrong). When we see shared presuppositions we look for shared outcomes, and vice versa. In the context of this post, the shared outcome that concerns us is abusive, authoritarian church “leadership”. When I look for shared presuppositions, I find those listed here – well done, Deebs. However, I also find another presupposition: it is the idea that “doctrine” – defined as what one believes on paper – is the Most Important Thing. This is simultaneously an ironic fruit of Luther’s labor while being in direct contravention of the teachings propounded by Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus. Until these abusive autocrats reject the leaven of the Pharisees, they will remain ichabod, and see nothing but rotten fruit.

  58. One red flag I would add to the list is to take note of the precedence of authority. Does it start with Christ or with the Bible? Authoritarian churches prefer the black and whiteness on the printed page over the person of Christ when it comes to discussing ultimate authority. I believe the Bible is God’s inspired word but I also hold that Christ is His ultimate revelation to us. My point is this: I truly think that if Jesus walked in today in the flesh and refuted a pet doctrine, they would choose their doctrine. The problem really lies not in the authority of scripture vs. the authority of Christ, as they are consistent with each other, but in the churches putting THEIR interpretation of scripture on equal footing with the written and/or revealed word. If it feels like they have elevated scripture to a fourth person of the Trinity: beware.

  59. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Marie was a former Biblical counselor and she can tell you many stories about the limitations of this form of counseling. Julie Anne Smith presented one post on the matter.
    Read this again: Because of Scripture’s sufficiency in this regard pastors and counselors can be assured that Scripture contains all things necessary for counseling the hard cases in counseling ministry. Participants will come to understand that Scripture is relevant to the counseling task, and that the grace of Christ in Scripture ensures help in even the most difficult issues of life.
    Mentally substitute “Dianetics” for “Scripture” and “Auditing” for “Counseling”…

    And detractors = Leah Reminini. Go Leah!!! (Great series she has on A&E about Scientology. They look like the kooks. Even their anti-Leah commercials show up on all of the youtube videos I watch as Scientology tries to control the narrative. It ain’t working and we aren’t in their bubble.)

  60. @ brian:
    Just a suggestion but sound like you might find a home in the Episcopal Church. I’m Catholic and go to the progressive parish in town but have decided if I move and there is no such parish where I am or if the real right wingers take over that I’ll just look for an Episcopal parish to end my days in.

  61. @ Stan:
    I would be careful of making hasty judgements based on who people follow on Twitter. As for me, I follow some local and national politicians with whom I might have very limited intersections of agreement, because I am interested in knowing what they are coming up with.
    Who – and what – do they retweet would be a more useful metric than who do they follow, I think.

  62. preacher’s wife wrote:

    “I knew then that I had a thin-skinned pastor who only accepted me so long as I acquiesced to his pet theology”

    I’ve known a few congregations that had this attitude towards their minister. The only reason they went to class was to try to catch some doctrinal error. That’s very disheartening for a young minister.

    I think it’s less of a problem if your pastor disagrees and more of a question of how you deal with disagreement. Which can tell you a lot about a person, pastor or not.

  63. FW Rez wrote:

    The problem really lies not in the authority of scripture vs. the authority of Christ, as they are consistent with each other, but in the churches putting THEIR interpretation of scripture on equal footing with the written and/or revealed word. If it feels like they have elevated scripture to a fourth person of the Trinity: beware.

    This really comes down to their authority being themselves.

    Even yesterday, I saw someone stating elsewhere, “If we can’t understand the Bible perfectly for doctrine, than what’s the point of it?” Well, there could be a whole lot of reasons God chose to make Scriptures a book about people who have relationships with God instead of a 200-volume systematic theology. Including that of when Jesus spoke in parables, and said “He that hath ears, let him hear”. Jesus wanted them to want to understand. But that person wasn’t really putting their trust in the Bible, but in their (or their leaders’) ability to interpret it. And a lot of those people who put their completely trust in their interpretations are the ones who put doctrine over love for their neighbor.

  64. I’ll add that a lot of those people who believe in Doctrine don’t study the Bible for themselves to see what it says. They want quick answers from approved books and sermons.

  65. ishy wrote:

    Even yesterday, I saw someone stating elsewhere, “If we can’t understand the Bible perfectly for doctrine, than what’s the point of it?”

    This is such a sad way to view the bible, imo. It is full of tidbits and advice. Paul is the one who said we see through a mirror dimly now. Some people are just not comfortable with uncertainty, disagreement…

  66. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    ishy wrote:

    For example, with the Calvinistas–the biggest problem in their theology isn’t complementarianism, it isn’t the takeovers, and it isn’t authoritarianism. It’s that they’ve eliminated Jesus from the center of their theology. They really aren’t Christians. They may include Jesus as an atonement, but not as God, and they completely ignore everything He said and did while on earth that abolished the system of religiosity of every other religion on Earth, including that of the Old Testament. Without Christ, the Calvinistas try to restore a system of religiousness, and they try to force it by takeovers and authoritarianism.

    Only God(TM) and their Holy Book (“IT IS WRITTEN!”)

    Calvin Islamized the Reformation, and these More-Calvinist-than-Calvin guys are its ISIS.

    Ever read Foxes Book of the Martyrs or The Martyr’s Mirror? Doctrinal intolerance was the spirit of the era, Calvin was tame compared to Queen “Bloody” Mary, et al.

  67. ishy wrote:

    They want quick answers from approved books and sermons.

    Life is easier if you let someone else do the thinking for you.

  68. drstevej wrote:

    Ever read Foxes Book of the Martyrs or The Martyr’s Mirror? Doctrinal intolerance was the spirit of the era, Calvin was tame compared to Queen “Bloody” Mary, et al.

    I have. Good comment.

  69. Lea wrote:

    . Paul is the one who said we see through a mirror dimly now. Some people are just not comfortable with uncertainty, disagreement…

    I agree,

  70. Lea wrote:

    Some people are just not comfortable with uncertainty, disagreement…

    Robert Webber, in his book “Ancient Future Worship”, explains that the mindset of those to which the scripture was originally written was much more comfortable with paradox than our modern mindset is.

  71. ishy wrote:

    “If we can’t understand the Bible perfectly for doctrine, than what’s the point of it?”

    the Bible gives us the general gist of things-sin, Jesus, etc. But people are looking for rules-that is why Paul warned us about returning to the Law which condemns us. These rules go far beyond treating others as you would have them treat you. It dissolves into fights over baptism ,creationism, eschatology, etc.

    We divide over this stuff and everyone believes that they are absolutely correct. Form my reading, I do not see Paul emphasizing the age of the earth, homeschooling over public academia, etc. Instead, we are too love one another and deal with our sin, all the while knowing we are loved.

    I swear I will start screaming if I hear one more theologian who is into complementarianism attempt to distort the Trinity for their pet theology. They can’t even tell us what comp practically means in a marriage. AndI doubt anyone gets the Trinity while watching Fred and Myrtle trying to decide where to go to vacation this year.

  72. ishy wrote:

    I’ll add that a lot of those people who believe in Doctrine don’t study the Bible for themselves to see what it says.

    Agreed. Within SBC ranks, there is a high rate of Biblical illiteracy. Once called a “People of the Word”, very few Southern Baptists read it these days. The Generation Xers and Millennials who are following the New Calvinist movement want a quick fix for everything … so they carry ESV bibles but depend on reformed pastors to interpret it for them. If they would get alone with their Bible for a season and pray for the Holy Spirit to teach them, they would find much of what they are being indoctrinated with is off-track.

  73. @ Steve240:
    I loved this, Steve. Here is a quote.
    May I read you a few lines from Tolstoy’s War and Peace?

    “When Boris entered the room, Prince Andrey was listening to an old general, wearing his decorations, who was reporting something to Prince Andrey, with an expression of soldierly servility on his purple face. “Alright. Please wait!” he said to the general, speaking in Russian with the French accent which he used when he spoke with contempt. The moment he noticed Boris he stopped listening to the general who trotted imploringly after him and begged to be heard, while Prince Andrey turned to Boris with a cheerful smile and a nod of the head. Boris now clearly understood—what he had already guessed—that side by side with the system of discipline and subordination which were laid down in the Army Regulations, there existed a different and more real system—the system which compelled a tightly laced general with a purple face to wait respectfully for his turn while a mere captain like Prince Andrey chatted with a mere second lieutenant like Boris. Boris decided at once that he would be guided not by the official system but by this other unwritten system.” (War and Peace)

  74. Velour wrote:

    My cheeks would be aflame with embarrassment at the rudeness shown to Christians who showed up and were told to not come back!!! Jesus didn’t do that — ever.

    I have heard various iterations of this over the last decade. Their arrogance known no bounds.

  75. Matilda wrote:

    It made me rethink how I welcomed newcomers into our small church. Obviously I wanted them to feel at home, but questioned my own motives,

    How insightful! Many never think of this. I bet you are a good friend.

  76. This a great post! Beyound the Very important concept of “authoritarism” which is highlighted all over the place, I noticed the YEC statement. I think this is more of a “big deal” than most people realize. Mix authoritarism/church discipline with church doctrine explicitly stating how you should think about science/history, etc, and you have a recipe for disaster.. it is much, much more than how old the earth is!!
    They would never accept me as a member, and if i grew up in it, and learned real science, i would be in church discipline, unless i kept my mouth shut, and lived a dual life.. unfortunately, i know a number of people that live like that…. is that the true gospel?

  77. Janey wrote:

    Many Evangelical churches in my area are more intimate but very controlling. The mainline churches are less intimate, and more hands-off.

    It is hard to find that happy medium.

  78. brian wrote:

    . I don’t think I could ever become a catholic or EO because of the deep seeded terror of going to hell if I went.

    Brian, I think this insight from Pete Briscoe might be of help to you. It has helped me so much through the years. I tend to be very hard on myself which is difficult since I do things like this blog and conflict comes naturally with it.

    Pete brought up the question of the unforgivable sin and asked if anyone present was worried that they might have committed such a sin. A few hands went up.

    He then said that he was happy to inform those people that they had not committed such a sin. Those who have done so do not care. Their hearts are hardened against God. As I thought about this, I realized how much this view can be applied to other situations.

    So, Brian, I am happy to inform you that if you are worried you might be going hell, that means you are not going to hell. The fact that you care so much about it means you believe Jesus and want to be with Him in eternity.

    So, from now on, be at peace. That is not your destiny. Instead, you can hang around a bunch of us former TWWs in heaven. Hugs from Raleigh.

  79. Amen to what Dee says

    dee wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    “If we can’t understand the Bible perfectly for doctrine, than what’s the point of it?”
    the Bible gives us the general gist of things-sin, Jesus, etc. But people are looking for rules-that is why Paul warned us about returning to the Law which condemns us. These rules go far beyond treating others as you would have them treat you. It dissolves into fights over baptism ,creationism, eschatology, etc.
    We divide over this stuff and everyone believes that they are absolutely correct. Form my reading, I do not see Paul emphasizing the age of the earth, homeschooling over public academia, etc. Instead, we are too love one another and deal with our sin, all the while knowing we are loved.
    I swear I will start screaming if I hear one more theologian who is into complementarianism attempt to distort the Trinity for their pet theology. They can’t even tell us what comp practically means in a marriage. AndI doubt anyone gets the Trinity while watching Fred and Myrtle trying to decide where to go to vacation this year.

  80. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    If you intend to question something “His Holiness” has stated be prepared to find a new church. What I received from my question was icy stares and the beginning of the shunning process. Oh, and an invitation to lunch to discuss the question in depth, where, what actually happened is my Christian character was questioned.

    Those poor people. They do not realize that they have not made friends. They have merely formed a group that stays together until someone begins to question why.

    The best thing that ever happened to me was the day when I started to question lots of things. It made me feel insecure for a long time but it gave me a new purpose. Here I sit today, not wishing to be anywhere else.

    Your friendship has meant a lot to me. Yesterday, I remember thinking who cool it was that I was discussing my computer issues in Raleigh with my friend in Dubai! BTW, I do want to learn about that program to help redact stuff. I am such a technopeasant.

  81. Bill M wrote:

    Ken F highlighted Southshore’s usage of it and it is downright scary. Members “are expected to recognize and submit to the authority of the overseers … This responsibility will include willingly scheduling oversight meetings with Elders.”

    You know, I should have emphasized this more. I am going to put it into the post queue. Tis is a worthy discussion since it is used to abuse people all the time. In some respects it is more misused that Matthew 18.
    Good point. Thanks.

  82. @ Todd Wilhelm:
    Darn fine post on Chantry, Did you see that our reader Mierele/Dee Holmes sent a message to the police about the ARBCA report? Anyway I can reproduce the post over here. You uncovered some seriously bad stuff.

  83. AnonInNC wrote:

    So basically, with my old church, the web site isn’t going to bring up many red flags; you really do have to delve into (several) past sermons in order to start revealing some of the issues. And others, like the gender-separates socials and the church growth/shepherding control schemes are even harder to research since those were typically part of announcements that weren’t posted online.

    This is an excellent comment that everyone should read.

  84. drstevej wrote:

    I have a ThM from Dallas Seminary and a PhD from Westminster Seminary — am I unclean?

    No, but there well may be some out there you think you need your feet washed.

  85. Jamie Carter wrote:

    Since I was a teenager at this church, I really had no idea what that meant or how it applied to me. But looking at their rules, I now realize that their main beliefs exclude any consideration of single-hood as a legitimate state of Christian life, it’s all either not-yet-married, or married or was-married-widow(er). Their collective effort being marriage-centric (and also increasingly complementarian) just made things worse as God seemed to have forgotten about me. My next churches seemed to double-down on gender teachings as the church was increasingly fighting against marriage equality by incessantly preaching about marriage and gender roles. So now it’s a reality – that pretty much every church that puts a big paragraph on marriage in their rules is also not saying that they really don’t like singleness and have little respect for it or anyone who just doesn’t snap their fingers, has a spouse, and is working on having children.

    This is an awesome insight. I never thought about it in this way. And yet you are spot on. I will try to work you comment into a post one of these days. Thank you.

  86. preacher’s wife wrote:

    I’ve known a few congregations that had this attitude towards their minister. The only reason they went to class was to try to catch some doctrinal error. That’s very disheartening for a young minister.

    I actually know some folks who live to do just that. There is a difference between being a Berean and being a know it all.

    The older a I get, the more I learn to be patient with minor mistakes. I knew a young assistant pastor who was asked a question on christening and gave a wrong answer. I almost said something but bit my tongue. The person had already walked off and I decided it would embarrass him. I bet he went home and looked it up.

    I have learned to pick my battles. Life has become a lot easier since I have defined my “hills to die on.” Those you can figure out be reading this blog. Hang in there.

  87. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes & mirele wrote:

    Uhm, I follow some people because I want to see what people are up to. I don’t want to be surprised.

    Me, too. I have also set up two extra super secret twitter accounts so that I can more easily follow those who have blocked me. On one of them, to throw them off, I actually retweet a harmless tweet or two from there tweets. I also have commented on blog that don’t like me under assumed names. It’s all rather amusing.

  88. Muff Potter wrote:

    Avoid like the dead lands of Chernobyl and Fukushima any pastor young or old who has “answers”.

    Yep-they have the equations down pat. If you notice, Tim Cochrell, the mean pastor who is hurting Marie has been at this church since 2012 and has been immersed in SBTS. I am so mad at that seminary. They have produced a bunch of Calvinista wonks who are hacks of the Calvinista party and enjoy *disciplining* others.

  89. @ JYJames:
    Happy New Year to you. I hope this year will bring more illumination to abusive churches and more exposures to those who have harmed children.

  90. Stan wrote:

    I would add checking the church and clergy’s Twitter accounts and see who they follow. The staff’s Twitters can reveal stranger characters. For some reason, the mobile Twitter website, just replace “www” with “m”, will let you do this without an account.
    Here’s an Episcopalian church in Dallas, full of those progressives and universalists, right? But the Twitter is following Desiring God and *PASTOR* Mark Driscoll:
    https://mobile.twitter.com/IncarnationDFW/following
    Follow the chain to that church staff’s Twitters, and you’ll even find Doug Wilson.

    This is absolutely wonderful. I am going to put this comment into a post.

    I have an idea- would you be interested in putting together a post on tidbits like this one? We really need to hear from Stan!

  91. dee wrote:

    I have learned to pick my battles.

    From my perspective, you have picked the right one when it comes to New Calvinism. If the American church does not win this battle – to expose and eliminate this aberrant faith – we may very well lose the war. Southern Baptists are finding that out – they did not climb the right hill to die on, shrinking back from the battle.

  92. One of the most important things you can do in checking up on “a local church” is to ask the rest of the local church.

    The local church is currently split into fragments almost everywhere in the western world. It’s tragic, sinful, unbiblical and wrong on every conceivable level, but that’s where we all are at the moment and that’s where you have to start. (I did not say, that’s what you have to live with, but that’s another story.)

    But a healthy fragment of the local church will have at least attempted to climb out of the mud-pit by reaching out to, and working with, other congregations; pooling experience, learning from the different backgrounds and experiences, that sort of thing. So, is this potential new congregation healthy? Ask the church. If it does not have a good reputation in the town, but rather its leaders are known for being quarrelsome, dismissive of other believers and separated out for their own vision and agenda, then the congregation is not healthy and on no account should you take seriously any strictures from it on “accountability” or “submission” – to elders who quite pointedly practice neither.

    For that matter, if the elderships and members of other church-fragments appear disinterested in the idea, then you must face the reality that the town does not have a healthy local church.

  93. Muff Potter wrote:

    “So, you have just heard about a new church in town or maybe an old church with a brand new, young pastor who’s “got answers.”
    — From the main article above —

    Avoid like the dead lands of Chernobyl and Fukushima any pastor young or old who has “answers”.

    Especially if (like Calvin or Mohammed) they have ALL the Answers with Absolute Biblical(TM) Certainty:

    “Yes, in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.”
    — Pope Francis I

  94. dee wrote:

    They have produced a bunch of Calvinista wonks who are hacks of the Calvinista party and enjoy *disciplining* others.

    Good Little Party Members striking for Commissar.

  95. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    … its leaders are known for being quarrelsome, dismissive of other believers and separated out for their own vision and agenda…

    And one more thing here. It hinges around that word “separated”.

    There was a group of “separated ones” in Jesus’ day. They were known, famously, as the Pharisees. Before I become too critical of them, let me at least give them credit for this: they were, more or less, one group. Today, there are not just millions of Pharisees within christendom, but thousands of sects of Pharisees.

    If your potential congregation goes into great length, either explicitly on its website or in the unwritten rules that become apparent as you talk to people there, about what separates it from the rest of the church, beware. Especially if these distinctives are couched in terms like those in the post above: accusing, self-righteous, judgmental, dismissing those who differ with them as “twisting the scriptures” and denouncing as “false teachings” views contrary to their own. For those things, remember this phrase:

    But this mob that knows nothing of the Law – they are accursed!

    Don’t join a sect that acts, speaks or thinks like that.

  96. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    I think this is more of a “big deal” than most people realize. Mix authoritarism/church discipline with church doctrine explicitly stating how you should think about science/history, etc, and you have a recipe for disaster.. it is much, much more than how old the earth is!!

    Comrades Stalin and Lysenko would be proud of them.
    (Or should that be Pastor/Apostle Stalin and Elder Lysenko?)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trofim_Lysenko
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

  97. FW Rez wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    Some people are just not comfortable with uncertainty, disagreement…

    Robert Webber, in his book “Ancient Future Worship”, explains that the mindset of those to which the scripture was originally written was much more comfortable with paradox than our modern mindset is.

    Paradoxes exist. Deal with it.

  98. Velour wrote:

    And detractors = Leah Reminini. Go Leah!!! (Great series she has on A&E about Scientology. They look like the kooks. Even their anti-Leah commercials show up on all of the youtube videos I watch as Scientology tries to control the narrative. It ain’t working and we aren’t in their bubble.)

    How often do the anti-Leah commercials use the buzzwords “Bitter” and “Hysterical”?

  99. Jamie Carter wrote:

    …But looking at their rules, I now realize that their main beliefs exclude any consideration of single-hood as a legitimate state of Christian life, it’s all either not-yet-married, or married or was-married-widow(er).

    Jamie Carter wrote:

    I now realize that their main beliefs exclude any consideration of single-hood as a legitimate state of Christian life, it’s all either not-yet-married, or married or was-married-widow(er).

    The minister saying at the start of his sermon, “There are those of you who are married, those of you who have been married, and those of you who are not married yet” is what made me immediately leave that service in tears.

  100. Victorious wrote:

    Velour wrote:

    We really need to have an entire article about this to help Christians be discerning and to be able to think through the passage properly when they are lied to about it by authoritarian churches.

    Paul Burleson has done a 4-part post about “Authority and Church Life” that is very thorough and an excellent resource:

    http://vtmbottomline.blogspot.com/2014/03/authority-and-church-lifepart-one_15.html

    For those who may not know, Paul Burleson is Wade’s good father, and is one of the finest writers of a blog you will find. He’s worth reading, yes. 🙂

  101. FW Rez wrote:

    … in the churches putting THEIR interpretation of scripture on equal footing with the written and/or revealed word. If it feels like they have elevated scripture to a fourth person of the Trinity: beware.

    The authority of “The Local Church” may even be higher than scripture to them, as their interpretation of scripture is paramount. Your likening of “elevated scripture” to a fourth person of the Trinity is pretty much what I’ve been saying—that The Local Church has become a sixth Sola.

  102. Janey wrote:

    So that’s the rub: Many Evangelical churches in my area are more intimate but very controlling. The mainline churches are less intimate, and more hands-off.

    The mainline Churches believe in the power of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life, and in the role of moral conscience as guide.

    But there is something more: the mainline Churches respect the privacy of an individual as a part of preserving the dignity of that person as someone who is made in the image of God. So, for the mainline Churches, the manipulation and abuse of intentionally going into people’s private lives for purposes of controlling thems, or shaming them publicly if they do not ‘tow the line’ is unthinkable.

    Neo-Cals are not respecters of the dignity of human persons, or else how could those men lower themselves to be the persecutors of women ?????
    They cannot even answer for their own dignity as persons because they have to construct a whole world that falsely builds themselves up as ‘heads’ at the expense of those they injure as subservient.

    Without that basic respect, the neo-Cals have no true compass to control their actions, since they do not look to Christ as guide, nor do they believe in the great power of the Holy Spirit. They are their own lords. So they will flounder, but first they will harm many people.

  103. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    And detractors = Leah Reminini. Go Leah!!! (Great series she has on A&E about Scientology. They look like the kooks. Even their anti-Leah commercials show up on all of the youtube videos I watch as Scientology tries to control the narrative. It ain’t working and we aren’t in their bubble.)
    How often do the anti-Leah commercials use the buzzwords “Bitter” and “Hysterical”?

    I don’t know as I skip them as soon as they pop up. It’s some old footage of her as a Scientologist dismissing ex-Scientologists’ complaints. OK, in this series she’s already apologized for her part in getting people into it. So she covered that, unlike Scientology.

  104. Ted wrote:

    The authority of “The Local Church” may even be higher than scripture to them, as their interpretation of scripture is paramount.

    Several years ago, Southern Baptists had a debate about where ultimate authority rested: in the Word or with Jesus. I sat back and chuckled as the SBC scholars argued about this, knowing that Jesus is the Word! However, there is no doubt that the New Calvinists which are running rough-shod over SBC right now, put far more focus on the authority of the Word (their interpretation of it) over Jesus … heck, they don’t even talk much about Jesus!

  105. @ Ted:
    Ted wrote:

    The authority of “The Local Church” may even be higher than scripture to them, as their interpretation of scripture is paramount. Your likening of “elevated scripture” to a fourth person of the Trinity is pretty much what I’ve been saying—that The Local Church has become a sixth Sola.

    ‘Morning, TED. I think the need to control the meaning of sacred Scripture was the motivation for eliminating Our Lord as the ‘lens’ through which Scripture is to be interpreted (BF&M 2K) and also the effort to declare Scriptures to be ‘inerrant’, which strangely seems to mean that it is the interpretation of the pastor that is inerrant, rather than the real gift of revelation that Scripture unfolds to humankind.

    Well, when that wasn’t enough, they re-worded the ESV Bible to line up with their ‘interpretation’, and at that point, the gig was up and they exposed themselves for the charlatans they are.

    I guess with each passing action, when their ‘followers’ did nothing and wouldn’t complain, they were emboldened to go further. In the end, they went too far.

    Hope you had a good Christmas. Happy New Year!

  106. Max wrote:

    the New Calvinists which are running rough-shod over SBC right now, put far more focus on the authority of the Word (their interpretation of it) over Jesus … heck, they don’t even talk much about Jesus!

    they only bring Him out to teach ‘their girls’ how to be ‘submissive’ using their man-made doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son

    occasionally a Driscoll will come along and create a hyper-masculine ‘Jesus’, but basically it’s the other ‘submissive’ they focus on ……

    In their process of denigrating Our Lord, what they lost might have saved them from themselves, but they didn’t believe

  107. dee wrote:

    In some respects it is more misused that Matthew 18.

    Ugh, Matthew 18 is the other one. In one non-profit organization that claimed it for their “employee policy”, I said to the board of directors it should not be used in the context of a hierarchical relationship. I was immediately slapped down with the “it’s biblical”.

  108. dee wrote:

    Me, too. I have also set up two extra super secret twitter accounts so that I can more easily follow those who have blocked me. On one of them, to throw them off, I actually retweet a harmless tweet or two from there tweets. I also have commented on blog that don’t like me under assumed names. It’s all rather amusing.

    The secret is out – Nana.

  109. Lydia wrote:

    That would be another indicator: They pressure you to ‘make a commitment’.

    When I left an authoritarian church two years ago I washed up on the shore of another church in town along with some other refugees. At the time I was very close to being a Done and still could be. Thankfully the church I came to was welcoming to me where I was at and no pressure was applied at all. If anything I was told to take my time and membership is not stressed. There have even been a few Sunday morning messages that christian leaders should not claim authority over other believers, let alone abuse it.

  110. I am indeed honored. Honored and humbled. Honored and humbled to have been served so well by the Deebs blog.

    They have a much harder job than I. Much, much, much harder. While I am able to retire early Saturday evening, confident my delivery will be impeccable on the sermon I have preached many times before, the Deebs will be up late into the night, preparing another hard hitting blog. They will put in hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of hard work. All to serve you, their loyal readers, well.

    You need to honor them, dear readers. Yes, honor and esteem them. They labor hard for you.

  111. Max wrote:

    Several years ago, Southern Baptists had a debate about where ultimate authority rested: in the Word or with Jesus.

    I missed that debate entirely. There is one thing that bothers me about it, however. If a Baptist belief is that the scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore true, then how could there be disagreement between God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that both sides of the argument would be wrong in that case since each would have to assume disagreement between the Son and the Spirit.

    How did they get past that road bump?

  112. C.J. Mahaney wrote:

    You need to honor them, dear readers. Yes, honor and esteem them. They labor hard for you.

    LOLOLOLOL. And for a thoughtful, yet appropriate love offering, we will send an autographed picture of one of Dee’s pugs-TULIP.

  113. Ted wrote:

    The authority of “The Local Church” may even be higher than scripture to them, as their interpretation of scripture is paramount.

    Like this comment.

  114. Shannon H. wrote:

    The minister saying at the start of his sermon, “There are those of you who are married, those of you who have been married, and those of you who are not married yet” is what made me immediately leave that service in tears.

    This make me want to cry as well. I am putting this comment into a post that I want to do on singles.

  115. Ted wrote:

    The authority of “The Local Church” may even be higher than scripture to them, as their interpretation of scripture is paramount.

    Back during the Seventies, a lot of those Christianese cult watch books mentioned a cult which actually named itself “The Local Church” and appropriated all mention of “local church” in the Bible to refer to themselves and themselves alone.

    Looks like they were ahead of their time.

  116. Jamie Carter wrote:

    But looking at their rules, I now realize that their main beliefs exclude any consideration of single-hood as a legitimate state of Christian life, it’s all either not-yet-married, or married or was-married-widow(er).

    Salvation by Marriage Alone(TM).

  117. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    P.S. I wouldn’t be surprised if this originated in the Reformation Wars. Since enemy Christians did A (Romish Papists exalting single celibacy), Real True Christians (us) had to do Not-A (exalt marriage exclusively).

  118. preacher’s wife wrote:

    Recently we had a family get incredibly angry with us for preaching Jeremiah 29:11 in context.

    Let me guess, did it get to near rancor with said family? Almost to the point where they said: “Well then, you don’t believe the Bible…”

  119. AnonInNC wrote:

    there’s literally a one sentence blurb on the pastor, in an “About Us” paragraph filled with hip buzzwords like “vibrant,” “full of excitement,” “atmosphere of celebration,” and “dynamic.”

    i.e. No hard information, just “all sizzle, no steak” and “all hat, no cattle”.

    That alone would make me suspicious.
    1) What are they hiding?
    2) “First you take a step, and then you Jive.”

  120. AnonInNC wrote:

    Sermons also disparage “traditional” churches, poking jabs at pews, stained glass, and hymnals.

    Traditional churches will survive and be around, alive and well, long after the new-fangled ‘gospelly’ churches dry up and blow away like so many Walmart bags.

  121. Muff Potter wrote:

    AnonInNC wrote:

    Sermons also disparage “traditional” churches, poking jabs at pews, stained glass, and hymnals.

    Traditional churches will survive and be around, alive and well, long after the new-fangled ‘gospelly’ churches dry up and blow away like so many Walmart bags.

    Amen.
    “God descends to the humble as waters flow down from the hills into the valleys.”
    (St. John of Kronstadt)

  122. Hi folks
    I’m from the Midwest. I trusted Christ 50 years ago in a Baptist church and have gone to Baptist churches for many years. I have very little education but a avid reader. I have followed TWW for a long time and read a lot of Hugh Ross books over my head a little. New book. The Grand Canyon Monument to an Ancient Earth. By Carol Hill and others. Very good. Why I’m writing. I go to a new e-free plant church in a small town that I live in. I went to the parent e-free church for about four years in town about 20 miles from home. Very good pastors these are not mega churches. Senior pastor graduated from Dallas and the other from Moody. The problem is that they are 9marks folks. They have a church covenant that I will not sign. They only have about 30 folks go there but they are starting a membership drive. I think the heat is going to start. My good church preaching options are very limited. I think I will follow what Wade Burleson said in his book Fraudulent authority. What do you guys think.

  123. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    This a great post! Beyound the Very important concept of “authoritarism” which is highlighted all over the place, I noticed the YEC statement. I think this is more of a “big deal” than most people realize. Mix authoritarism/church discipline with church doctrine explicitly stating how you should think about science/history, etc, and you have a recipe for disaster.. it is much, much more than how old the earth is!!
    They would never accept me as a member, and if i grew up in it, and learned real science, i would be in church discipline, unless i kept my mouth shut, and lived a dual life.. unfortunately, i know a number of people that live like that…. is that the true gospel?

    You’d think we would have learned more since Galileo…

  124. I wanted to say thank you very much for all the kind words this holiday season and giving me a forum to write some comments. I think I have said this here before but I need to say it again. It really does help, some of what I write is more of emotion and those “tapes” that keep replaying. Their echo is far less than in the past, exposing that internal dialog to myself and others in a safe forum has helped the most. Commitment is also another part of “repentance” / change so I want to take some concrete action. I will be attending / writing email to several Anglican fellowships in my area to try to seek a real world faith community. Hope to post some feedback in a couple of weeks. Thank You all.

  125. ishy wrote:

    I’ll add that a lot of those people who believe in Doctrine don’t study the Bible for themselves to see what it says. They want quick answers from approved books and sermons.

    They are looking for a system to follow rather than the lifelong journey of pondering God.

  126. ishy wrote:

    Even yesterday, I saw someone stating elsewhere, “If we can’t understand the Bible perfectly for doctrine, than what’s the point of it?” Well, there could be a whole lot of reasons God chose to make Scriptures a book about people who have relationships with God instead of a 200-volume systematic theology. Including that of when Jesus spoke in parables, and said “He that hath ears, let him hear”. Jesus wanted them to want to understand. But that person wasn’t really putting their trust in the Bible, but in their (or their leaders’) ability to interpret it. And a lot of those people who put their completely trust in their interpretations are the ones who put doctrine over love for their neighbor.

    I remember as a young Christian being so confused as to why God didn’t make it more clear what he wants us to know and what he wants us to do. It didn’t make sense to me, at that point. I mean, obviously, if he had wanted to, he could have just written us a long bulleted list of facts about himself and rules for us to live by. So why didn’t he?

    The fact is, he chose not to. We have to recognize and honor that isn’t what he wants, that is not how he wants us to know him and relate to him. Some things in the scriptures are very clear- the value God places upon love, truth and humility, for example, but others are a lifetime process of reading, contemplating, questioning, wondering, growing in maturity and understanding.

    I don’t think I am saying this very well. I just think it is our fallen nature that wants a concise list of rules we can learn and then move on with our lives, but God wants us to sincerely seek to know him.

  127. siteseer wrote:

    Some things in the scriptures are very clear- the value God places upon love, truth and humility, for example, but others are a lifetime process of reading, contemplating, questioning, wondering, growing in maturity and understanding.

    This for me is what disqualifies Calvinistas at every turn. God does clearly place love, truth, and humility as very important to Him, and I rarely see these preached. If they really placed such a high value on the doctrine of the Bible, they’d make these important, too. Which is why I seriously suspect that at least the leaders are either fakes or they’re crazy, neither of which is a solid foundation for leadership.

  128. Scary stuff.

    I consider myself very blessed to have found a (completely independent non-denom)church where the pastor has been known to pound the point of “priesthood of all believers.” The way this plays out in real life is that members (and “membership” is a rather loose concept, no paperwork, no signing your name to anything, just self-selecting and attending weekly but nobody takes roll) are encouraged to go straight to God with their issues and questions, because God is who we ultimately answer to. Not the pastor, not the elders, not our small group leaders. The pastor is available to point people to Scripture that might be helpful to study, but he does not decree answers. (Unless it’s a non-negotiable point of doctrine.) Also, the pastor from time to time will say something to the effect that if someone doesn’t feel it’s the right church for them, they are in no way obligated to stick around.

    Speaking of small groups… joining a small group is strongly encouraged, but nobody is assigned to a group and/or required to go. Leaders go through a 5-session leadership training, and there’s a discussion guide issued each week, but after that, pretty much anything goes. I was in a group for a long time that almost never followed the discussion guide. We did a lot of studies on our own, and nobody sicced the small group police on us. Also, when our long-ago group leader decided she wanted to move on to a different church, it was necessary for someone else to take over the group leadership, but the previous leader didn’t want to give up the group altogether, so she continued to host it at her house and participate in it for at least a couple more years, and nobody had a problem with that.

    Also speaking of small groups… a neighbor/friend of mine had gone church-shopping, thought he had settled on a particular church, until he inquired about joining a small group. He was told rather abruptly that all the groups were full, sorry.

    Full? Ex-freaking-scuze me? Now, if the groups were all right in the middle of a structured study, that MIGHT fly… but they weren’t. They just couldn’t be bothered to take in new people. I told an associate pastor’s wife at my church and she was horrified. The consensus at our church is that groups are NEVER declared full. They might get too big and unwieldy, in which case they are strongly encouraged to split into smaller groups, but even if you have to hang somebody from a hook and half the people have to sit on the floor, there is no such thing as a full group! Long story shorter, my friend/neighbor dropped in on yet another church where he was warmly welcomed into not one but two small groups, one a men’s group and the other mixed.

    On another note, I was a “done” for about 20 years as a direct result of what I experienced in a still-going-strong church that practices the “Moses model.” Y’all can do the math on that one.

  129. StillWiggling wrote:

    Also speaking of small groups… a neighbor/friend of mine had gone church-shopping, thought he had settled on a particular church, until he inquired about joining a small group. He was told rather abruptly that all the groups were full, sorry.
    Full? Ex-freaking-scuze me? Now, if the groups were all right in the middle of a structured study, that MIGHT fly… but they weren’t. They just couldn’t be bothered to take in new people.

    That’s seriously one of the sillier things I’ve heard a church doing. It’s about as fake of an excuse as you can get.

  130. Christiane wrote:

    I think the need to control the meaning of sacred Scripture was the motivation for eliminating Our Lord as the ‘lens’ through which Scripture is to be interpreted

    Hi, Christiane. That seems to be what’s going on, but I think any of them would flatly deny that they’ve eliminated Jesus as the lens. They use the term “gospel” a lot, which implies Jesus, and no doubt they believe they’re preaching Jesus.

    I had to google BF & M 2K. Where in the Baptist Faith & Message does it say anything like that? It’s a very strong charge against them and we need to be careful using it.

    Here’s to a better new year than the old.

  131. Roger Smith wrote:

    I think the heat is going to start. My good church preaching options are very limited. I think I will follow what Wade Burleson said in his book Fraudulent authority. What do you guys think.

    I somehow missed your post earlier. The way many of these churches work is that they act like normal churches with normal pastors for some time to get people in, then they switch to the authoritarian model. Even though the pastors went elsewhere, they could very well be authoritarian, anyway. My first church that split and one group went Acts29, none of them have SBC seminary degrees. They went to some other schools, too.

    With recent graduates though, the most likely Calvinista candidates are being indoctrinated at SBTS and SEBTS. Pastors can still be indoctrinated elsewhere, but it’s fairly certain if they come from those schools, they will be hyper-Calvinists.

  132. ishy wrote:

    I somehow missed your post earlier. The way many of these churches work is that they act like normal churches with normal pastors for some time to get people in, then they switch to the authoritarian model.

    BAIT AND SWITCH.

  133. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    a cult which actually named itself “The Local Church”

    When I first started noticing the term I googled it. The first links to show up are about the Witness Lee cult, and there are links to 9Marks, Grace to You and Desiring God. You’d think Dever, MacArthur and Piper would have thought of a better term.

  134. Muff Potter wrote:

    AnonInNC wrote:
    Sermons also disparage “traditional” churches, poking jabs at pews, stained glass, and hymnals.

    Traditional churches will survive and be around, alive and well, long after the new-fangled ‘gospelly’ churches dry up and blow away like so many Walmart bags.

    “Traditional churches” have demonstrated staying power. Over 1800 years for mine (RCC), some 1600 years for my sister-in-law’s (Assyrian), and 500 years for my writing partners’ (Lutheran & Anabaptist).

    When these “new-fangled ‘gospelly’ churches” have that many years of institutional memory behind them, THEN they can talk.

  135. Ted wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    a cult which actually named itself “The Local Church”
    When I first started noticing the term I googled it. The first links to show up are about the Witness Lee cult, and there are links to 9Marks, Grace to You and Desiring God.

    Wasn’t Witness Lee the successor to Watchman Nee (from the name similarity alone)?

    I remember Watchman Nee was the 68th book of the Bible (Hal Lindsay was the 67th) during my time in-country. VERY popular with the non-denom splinter fellowships back then.

  136. dee wrote:

    I have an idea- would you be interested in putting together a post on tidbits like this one? We really need to hear from Stan!

    And just think, Dee — you can legitimately say you’re in league with Stan!

  137. C.J. Mahaney wrote:

    You need to honor them, dear readers. Yes, honor and esteem them. They labor hard for you.

    Isn’t that exactly what the pigs of Animal Farm said to justify their special Inner Ring privileges?

  138. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I remember Watchman Nee was the 68th book of the Bible

    He was popular with some of my friends too, but I haven’t read any of him. Witness Lee, on the other hand, is disowned by just about everyone who liked Watchman Nee. And the names often get confused.

  139. dee wrote:

    Shannon H. wrote:
    The minister saying at the start of his sermon, “There are those of you who are married, those of you who have been married, and those of you who are not married yet” is what made me immediately leave that service in tears.

    This make me want to cry as well. I am putting this comment into a post that I want to do on singles.

    It’s defining the entire self by marriage status. I don’t know why they can’t see how damaging that can be, but beyond that, why is that your focus?

  140. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    (Hal Lindsay was the 67th)

    Yeah, now I HAVE read him. Like you, I swallowed him hook, line and sinker in my early days. Thankfully, I don’t have the flashbacks and PTSD that you got. I went to Gordon College shortly afterward, and Lindsey was pretty much ignored there in favor of some pretty solid OT theology. I got decompressed from the End-Times crap pretty gently.

  141. Ted wrote:

    Hi, Christiane. That seems to be what’s going on, but I think any of them would flatly deny that they’ve eliminated Jesus as the lens. They use the term “gospel” a lot, which implies Jesus, and no doubt they believe they’re preaching Jesus.
    I had to google BF & M 2K. Where in the Baptist Faith & Message does it say anything like that? It’s a very strong charge against them and we need to be careful using it.

    Nobody has put anything in the BFM which has eliminated Jesus as anything. The quarrel has never been about Jesus, regardless of how much vitriol is spilled by both sides of the arguments. They have argued about a lot of stuff but not about the centrality of Jesus in Christian faith and practice; that is a red herring. They argue about theological approach semantically, they argue about scripture, they argue about anything and everything because that is how people do, but nobody at all ever has denied or belittled Jesus or pushed Him out of sight. They jostle for position-my prepositional phrase is better than your prepositional phrase, but to say that they deny or belittle Jesus is obviously not correct.

    http://www.centerforbaptiststudies.org/hotissues/dildayfm2000.htm

  142. Max wrote:

    I sat back and chuckled as the SBC scholars argued about this, knowing that Jesus is the Word!

    Exactly!

  143. ishy wrote:

    This for me is what disqualifies Calvinistas at every turn. God does clearly place love, truth, and humility as very important to Him, and I rarely see these preached. If they really placed such a high value on the doctrine of the Bible, they’d make these important, too.

    So true. If you read the bible and all you come away with to talk about is marriage and who is the boss, you have missed a turn somewhere and should stop talking until you backtrack and find it.

  144. ishy wrote:

    That’s seriously one of the sillier things I’ve heard a church doing. It’s about as fake of an excuse as you can get.

    I can’t even fathom a group, let alone all the groups, that can’t accommodate a new person. What nonsense.

  145. Ted wrote:

    Hi, Christiane. That seems to be what’s going on, but I think any of them would flatly deny that they’ve eliminated Jesus as the lens. They use the term “gospel” a lot, which implies Jesus, and no doubt they believe they’re preaching Jesus.

    I had to google BF & M 2K. Where in the Baptist Faith & Message does it say anything like that?

    Hi TED,

    Here is from the OLD BF&M 1963:
    “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”

    It was removed and no longer appears in the BF&M 2000

    Wade Burleson wrote this: “I believe the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message committee did a marvelous job with the following sentence under Article 1: The Scriptures: “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” This statement, tragically, is left out of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. One of the dangers of not recognizing that all scripture must be interpreted through an understanding of the person and work of Christ is that one will end up not realizing how the Old Covenant has been abolished through the ministry of our Lord.”
    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2009/09/why-1963-bfm-is-better-confession-than.html

    It did not take long to see the fall-out, sadly.

  146. brian wrote:

    I will be attending / writing email to several Anglican fellowships in my area to try to seek a real world faith community. Hope to post some feedback in a couple of weeks.

    Good luck, Brian.

    There must be many people like you struggling with having grown up with the same abusive teachings that you were pummeled with. It seems like a lot of the people on Home Schoolers Anonymous have been raised with that kind of mindset. It’s like a form of PTSD I’m sure. I wish you all healing and peace and all the best in the coming year. I appreciate your comments here.

  147. siteseer wrote:

    I wish you all healing and peace and all the best in the coming year. I appreciate your comments here.

    I second that. All the best to Brian.

  148. (Saint Augustine,
    c. 354-430 A.D.)

    “You have heard the account of the two disciples who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus and yet did not recognize Him. When He met them, they had lost all hope of the redemption that is in Christ, they were convinced that the Master was dead like any other man, they did not realize that Jesus inasmuch as He is Son of God was still alive. According to them He had left this life without being able to return, like one of the many prophets.

    Then the Lord revealed to them the meaning of the Sacred Scriptures: beginning with Moses and quoting one prophet after another He showed that everything that He had suffered had been foretold.

    After that, He appeared to the eleven disciples and they thought they were seeing a ghost. So Jesus let them touch Him, the One who had let Himself be crucified.

    Yet the Lord did not consider it was sufficient to allow them to touch Him. He wanted to appeal to the Scriptures to confirm their hearts in the faith.

    He revealed to them the meaning of the Scriptures and showed how it was necessary that the Christ should fulfil all that had been written about Him in te books of the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms.

    The Lord went through the whole Old Testament. He seemed to span it all in His embrace.

    The Lord opened the minds of the Apostles so that they understood the Scriptures.

    That He will open our minds too is our prayer.”
    (St. Augustine)

  149. Christiane wrote:

    “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”
    It was removed and no longer appears in the BF&M 2000

    I really don’t understand why anyone wasn’t more suspicious of this move by Mohler.

  150. brian wrote:

    I like EO, Catholic, and especially Anglican faith communities in a more traditional vein. I don’t think I could ever become a catholic or EO because of the deep seeded terror of going to hell if I went. I joke a bit about it but it’s one of those doctrines I had injected into almost every cell in my body.

    Hugs and prayers to you, brian, as you work through this. I struggle with similar programming from my former church. To encourage you, let me just say that finding my way to a small Anglican congregation was one of the most spiritually healing things I’ve ever experienced. The ancient practices, the Scripture readings, and receiving the Eucharist every week are all a balm to my soul. The people love my family and me genuinely without ‘bombing’ us. I pray that you find such a place of refuge and fellowship in whichever branch of the faith that can help you grow closer to the Lord. His peace be with you, now and always.

  151. Christiane wrote:

    Hi TED,
    Here is from the OLD BF&M 1963:
    “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”
    It was removed and no longer appears in the BF&M 2000

    Feature, not Bug?

  152. Ted wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    (Hal Lindsay was the 67th)

    Yeah, now I HAVE read him. Like you, I swallowed him hook, line and sinker in my early days. Thankfully, I don’t have the flashbacks and PTSD that you got. I went to Gordon College shortly afterward, and Lindsey was pretty much ignored there in favor of some pretty solid OT theology. I got decompressed from the End-Times crap pretty gently.

    Haven’t had any flashbacks since the late Eighties (somewhere between the Jupiter Effect Rapture Scare and the 88 Reasons Rapture Scare).

    What decompressed me was finding End Time Prophecy books from 40-50 years before, PROVING the same verses through now-forgotten news items. And a Seventh Day Adventist ETP book which used the exact same verses to PROVE a completely-different checklist/choreography. (SDAs have a shall we say “unique” take on Revelation.)

  153. Ted wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    I remember Watchman Nee was the 68th book of the Bible

    He was popular with some of my friends too, but I haven’t read any of him.

    Neither have I. Locally, he was THE big fad of a lot of non-denom splinter “fellowships” in the Seventies. Even had a hymn written about him I heard once on Christianese AM radio.

    Witness Lee, on the other hand, is disowned by just about everyone who liked Watchman Nee. And the names often get confused.

    I assume both were Chinese? And that Witness Lee either followed Watchman Nee or deliberately patterned his Christianese presence after him?

  154. ishy wrote:

    There’s no easy life, and there’s no reason any pastor should expect everyone to agree or even be nice all the time. This doesn’t happen to anyone. And if that pastor is trying to force the congregation to do so, then he is not a follower of Christ, and people should avoid that church, which is the point of this article.

    I love reading this blog, but it’s interesting from our context. In our denomination traditionally the minister is the lowest on the totem pole. The elders control everything. I relate to the stories of bullying and abuse, because in our group many times the elders or a disgruntled group in the congregation will lash out at the preacher. The preacher is not treated as a member of the congregation, he is a paid employee. After my husband was told I was not allowed at the church building during the week with our newborn daughter, I asked an elder about it. He said the church was a business.

    I realize that sometimes there are other things going on in people’s lives, and sometimes they just need a place to vent. But, if a man has a bad day at work it would not be acceptable for him to take it out on a stranger, or his wife, or his kids. Why should it be okay to take it out on the minister? Neither my husband nor I expected ministry to be easy and we don’t expect people to agree with us on everything, but we do expect Christians (including ourselves) to act like Christians instead of the rest of the world. Imagine the hurt when your life revolves around a congregation only for them to turn on you, slander you to nearby congregations and leave you unemployed and homeless (there was a parsonage involved). It was almost enough to lose faith entirely.

  155. It can be a mixed bag when looking for what a church believes from their web sites. My SBC church does not have much info – just a very short statement of beliefs. It has not yet gone YRR, but I think a couple of the pastors are sipping the Kool-Aid. Based on the searching I have done so far, I think this is fairly typical of churches that have not gone full YRR.

    By contrast, here is the constitution from the 9Marks flagship church (available on its website): http://b1033ecbf0be9f1f78e0-9ff91644b80b1213b3e9d43ad0f0e963.r47.cf2.rackcdn.com/uploaded/c/0e4565226_1443648153_chbcconstitution.pdf. Note this little gem:

    The church shall have authority to refuse a member’s voluntary resignation or transfer of membership to another church, either for the purpose of proceeding with a process of church discipline, or for any other biblical reason.

    It seems to me that the strong YRR churches don’t hide it. It’s the ones that have not yet fully come out as YRR that are more difficult to spot via their web sites because they seem to be more reluctant to be truthful in advertising.

  156. Preacher’s Wife wrote:

    I love reading this blog, but it’s interesting from our context. In our denomination traditionally the minister is the lowest on the totem pole. The elders control everything.

    Anywhere where there is a group with absolute control, there’s going to be unhappiness, because that was never God’s design.

    Now, I’ve been in churches that were supposed to be autonomous, but there were several affluent members who thought that because they were there a long time and paid the church a lot of money, they got to dictate everything. It caused a lot of problems, too.

    Truth is, there are a lot of nonbelievers in churches, and there will be people that always act awful. That is part of the job, whether you like it or not. I was a missionary, and then ran a nonprofit ministry, and I had not only that happen, but I had vicious stalkers, romantic stalkers who didn’t take “No, leave me alone” for an answer, false rumors, and people who I thought were my friends turn on me because they thought it might earn them a slight bit of popularity.

    That is life in ministry. You all got to either toughen up, or maybe you are in the wrong place.

  157. Ken F wrote:

    The church shall have authority to refuse a member’s voluntary resignation or transfer of membership to another church, either for the purpose of proceeding with a process of church discipline, or for any other biblical reason.

    It seems to me that the strong YRR churches don’t hide it.

    What kind of American would pledge allegiance to something so destructive of their own personal freedom? It’s one thing to follow Christ, but these places make a prisoner of people instead of setting them free from chains and from fear. How can these people KNOW and still sign on????

  158. Roger Smith wrote:

    e-free plant church … 9marks folks … a church covenant that I will not sign

    All signs that the church is led by young New Calvinists. Sadly, the Evangelical Free denomination has been targeted by the reformed movement (Eagle has been documenting this). The young reformers become more easily established via planting a new church in a community, rather than enduring the weeping and gnashing of teeth to take over an established non-Calvinist congregation (although that’s not beyond them as has been reported frequently on TWW). Sorry that you are experiencing this given the limited church options in your area … but this appears to be the state-of-the-church in many communities. New Calvinism is an aggressive movement. These young reformers are seriously passionate about their faith, but it’s a seriously misplaced passion.

  159. Christiane wrote:

    What kind of American would pledge allegiance to something so destructive of their own personal freedom? It’s one thing to follow Christ, but these places make a prisoner of people instead of setting them free from chains and from fear. How can these people KNOW and still sign on????

    On the bright side, they let you know ahead of time what they plan to do to you. But who reads the fine print? John Piper’s old church is even more wordy – perhaps to discourage people reading the fine print? Here is the link to their constitution: http://www.hopeingod.org/document/constitution-and-laws. But don’t stop there, you also have to read their document on “Relational Commitments.” That’s were they spell out in detail how they handle church discipline, divorce, accountability, child safety, etc. Their statement on child safety is pretty weak compared to how well they spell out other topics:

    Children are a blessing from God, and He calls the church to support parents in their responsibility to train children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Therefore, the church should be a place of safety and blessing for children, where they can grow, play, form friendships, and learn to experience and share the love of Christ.

    Since sin affects every person and organization in the world, it is possible that children could be harmed even during church activities. We cannot guarantee that such things will never happen at Bethlehem, but we are committed to taking reasonable precautions to protect our children and youth from foreseeable harm.

    If a child or youth is harmed in our church, we will take immediate steps to inform the parents, to accept responsibility for our role in the situation, and to hold offending workers fully responsible for their actions.

  160. Ken F wrote:

    Their statement on child safety is pretty weak compared to how well they spell out other topics:

    I should have added “weak because it says nothing about calling the police.”

  161. I went to a fairly large college church in the South where there was a huge emphasis on ‘unity’ and “friendship” in the sense of the first part of the post. At first it was a great way to make new friends, but eventually the signs of groupthink were far too prevalent to ignore. It made me shudder a few times when a few of the more entrenched YRR ringleaders of the college ministry removed any bond of fellowship after I disagreed with them and the pastor on some secondary issues. After any disagreement over Reformed theology (which was heavily pushed, and assumed as the de facto spiritual foundation of the entire church), or questions concerning extrabiblical authority models, not to mention the Calvinist can of worms (Is that why it’s called “worm theology?” Just a thought), a few hard-charging youths being groomed for leadership even turned a little bit aggressive–they would become defensive the instant I showed disagreement, and question my salvation over issues as trivial as speeding laws.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, most of my friends at that church actually were my friends; but after witnessing some of the utilitarian calculations made by some of the hyper-calvinistas concerning several members (including me) who harbored misgivings about their practices, it became clear that as soon as the evidence began going against the pet doctrines of the pastor, communication from those student leaders was either shut down entirely, or limited to terse, intentional efforts to silence the “disruptive” and “argumentative” person.

    In that environment, friendship and genuine affection were not seen as ends in themselves, but merely as tools to promote “correct” or “sound” doctrine. There was a heavy emphasis on “taking delight” in correct doctrine. I had a few friends there that didn’t try that kind of stuff with me (they knew I had devoured far too much C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and George MacDonald), but in many of my ‘friendships’ there I found I was actually viewed as more of a project than a friend.

    I went through that for three years, always being told by the college leadership that I wasn’t “submissive” enough when I questioned the doctrines being pushed forth vehemently by our young, intentional, slightly aggressive college pastor; doctrines such as “accountability” (as in, a spiritual weight-watchers program designed to eliminate sin by self-effort), formally arranged guidelines along which all friendly discussions should be based, placing guilt on anyone who didn’t show up to Wednesday night meetings, and the like.

    Sorry for the long post, but I wish I would have known about that stuff before I even went there.

  162. @ Ken F:

    Most people would not get through it all or even know what to read. Many churches have a Membership Covenant that refers to the churches Constitution, By-Laws, and as you note Relationship Commitments. Most of the churches only give you the Membership Agreement/Covenant to sign and don’t bother to give you the other doc’s, that you need to agree with, to read.

    It can be an awful process.

  163. Ken F wrote:

    or for any other biblical reason.

    List the ‘biblical reasons’ to refuse a transfer of a member to another church? Bah.

  164. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    Hi TED,
    Here is from the OLD BF&M 1963:
    “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”
    It was removed and no longer appears in the BF&M 2000

    Feature, not Bug?

    According to the 17th century Calvinist theologian Gomarus, the Bible is to be interpreted through the lens of absolute predestination, not Christ. Looks like the Gomarist mindset is alive and well.

  165. Lea wrote:

    dee wrote:

    Shannon H. wrote:
    The minister saying at the start of his sermon, “There are those of you who are married, those of you who have been married, and those of you who are not married yet” is what made me immediately leave that service in tears.

    This make me want to cry as well. I am putting this comment into a post that I want to do on singles.

    It’s defining the entire self by marriage status. I don’t know why they can’t see how damaging that can be, but beyond that, why is that your focus?

    Reminds me of the pagan Greek myth of the gods splitting the first people into two, so that we’re really only HALF a person, and we’re not whole until we’re united with our “other half”.

  166. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    According to the 17th century Calvinist theologian Gomarus, the Bible is to be interpreted through the lens of absolute predestination, not Christ. Looks like the Gomarist mindset is alive and well.

    “In the beginning was the Predestination, and the Predestination was with God, and the Predestination was God.”

  167. Ken F wrote:

    MidwesternEasterner wrote:
    According to the 17th century Calvinist theologian Gomarus, the Bible is to be interpreted through the lens of absolute predestination, not Christ. Looks like the Gomarist mindset is alive and well.
    “In the beginning was the Predestination, and the Predestination was with God, and the Predestination was God.”

    Exactly, Ken F.

    As I told a woman who was so troubled by the NeoCalvinist teachings at my ex-church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, “I reject what they teach. If it’s true, that God knew The Elect in advance, than the Cross was irrelevant. Jesus didn’t have to be bothered. He could have just hung out in Heaven, kicked back, and had a nice cup of coffee. If NeoCalvinism is correct, than really what’s the difference between it and Hinduism? It’s all very fatalistic. No thanks. It makes a mockery of The Cross, of Jesus.”

  168. Velour wrote:

    very fatalistic

    good description of determinism as it is taught in neo-Cal world ….. Christ wasn’t ‘needed’ until these men wanted to use Him to bump up their man-made ESS doctrine

    my question was always: these Calvinists seem so self-assured, but how do THEY know that THEY personally are ‘in’ as ‘the elect’

  169. Christiane wrote:

    my question was always: these Calvinists seem so self-assured, but how do THEY know that THEY personally are ‘in’ as ‘the elect’

    That’s why they obsess over Perfectly-Parsed Correct Theology, as a previous generation of American Calvinists obsessed over personal wealth/getting rich — to PROVE to themselves that they are truly Elect.

    If their Theology is Correct, they MUST be Elect!
    (Or at least More Elect than the other guy — that’s when “Can You Top This?” comes into play…)

  170. Ken F wrote:

    MidwesternEasterner wrote:
    According to the 17th century Calvinist theologian Gomarus, the Bible is to be interpreted through the lens of absolute predestination, not Christ. Looks like the Gomarist mindset is alive and well.

    “In the beginning was the Predestination, and the Predestination was with God, and the Predestination was God.”

    Which is called “Socratic Atheism”.
    Because if Predestination controls even God, then God is not God — Predestination/Fate is.
    “Eh, Kismet…”

  171. Ken F wrote:

    On the bright side, they let you know ahead of time what they plan to do to you. But who reads the fine print? John Piper’s old church is even more wordy – perhaps to discourage people reading the fine print?

    Or just because its Founder/Apostle/Prophet has the Curse of Babel on him.

  172. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Because if Predestination controls even God, then God is not God — Predestination/Fate is.

    That’s a very good point. Calvinists don’t think through the theology to the logical end.

  173. Christiane wrote:

    my question was always: these Calvinists seem so self-assured, but how do THEY know that THEY personally are ‘in’ as ‘the elect’

    Calvinist give assurance of salvation with one hand through “Irresistible Grace” (4th point). But they take it away with the other hand through “Perseverance of the Saints” (fifth point). The only way you can be sure you are elect is if you persevere. Falling back into sin (not persevering) could be evidence that you are not elect. Hence, it becomes extremely legalistic. It becomes all about not-sinning.

  174. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    Sorry for the long post, but I wish I would have known about that stuff before I even went there.

    Outstanding comment. Thanks for joining this thread. I believe the YRRs are specifically targeting youth. It does me good to know that there are youth who can see through it.

  175. @ Roger Smith:

    Roger…where is this in the Midwest. I write about the Evangelical Free Church movement. I am about 50% done calculating the growth of Neo Calvinism in the EFCA.

  176. Lydia wrote:

    I think a good indicator is whether or not a church views you as an adult –able to make your own choices.

    So true! If the pastor/leaders/elders want to all about your personal business then count that as Red Flags. If they feel justified in crossing personal boundaries because of their titles as leaders, count that as a Red Flag. If they want details about your marriage, count that as a Red Flag. If they want to know how you spend your money, count that as a Red Flag. If they judge how you make us of your time, count that as a Red Flag. Many other things can be added to this list. There’s lots of Red Flags to watch out for.

  177. brian wrote:

    I was loved bombed for about two months then they started with the napalm I have that effect on some religious groups.

    Ah…the haranguing started after the Honey Moon phase was over.

  178. Ken F wrote:

    I believe the YRRs are specifically targeting youth.

    No doubt about it! They definitely key in on Generation Xers and Millennials … it’s all about converting the “next generation” of church folks. In fact, many New Calvinist churches have associate pastors carrying a title of “NexGen Pastor.” These aren’t your usual run of the mill youth pastors – they are in place to indoctrinate young minds with reformed theology. The New Calvinists know that if they can convert enough folks to their belief and practice, they can move a significant portion of the next generation church into Calvinist belief and practice. And, of course, seminaries such as SBTS, ground-zero for New Calvinism, are equipping the next generation of pastors to lead the next generation of reformed church-goers.

  179. Christiane wrote:

    brian wrote:
    I don’t think I could ever become a catholic or EO because of the deep seeded terror of going to hell if I went. I joke a bit about it but it’s one of those doctrines I had injected into almost every cell in my body. This is all emotional more than anything. I cant even go into an evangelical Church of any kind anymore which I am a bit sad about
    Oh my God, Brian. What did those people do to you? You sound very traumatized. Prayers.

    Christine, I can relate to what Brian is saying to a tea. The Christian cult I once belonged to messed up so many people that they weren’t able to attend church for decades after they left. Some still can’t attend church 30 years after leaving! This is because we were warned repeatedly by the leadership that leaving the fellowship was synonymous with leaving Jesus Christ. We were warned that in leaving, we would be subject to committing the most vile sins because we had rebelled against God and couldn’t get away with it without experiencing the anger of God. We have a few exmember sites on the Internet where people hash out their feelings, talk about their experiences and what life is like for them now. Many of my fellow survivors of that spiritual abuse speak of how they feared God would strike them dead if they dared leave the cult. They left because they were willing to risk death over remaining in a spiritually toxic environment that became torturous to live in on a daily basis.

  180. Preacher’s Wife wrote:

    The elders control everything. I relate to the stories of bullying and abuse, because in our group many times the elders or a disgruntled group in the congregation will lash out at the preacher. The preacher is not treated as a member of the congregation, he is a paid employee. After my husband was told I was not allowed at the church building during the week with our newborn daughter, I asked an elder about it. He said the church was a business.

    This doesn’t seem like a very healthy situation.

  181. Ken F wrote:

    I should have added “weak because it says nothing about calling the police.”

    I noticed that.

    I’ve noticed that churches can make statements that sound strong but if it doesn’t include mandatory reporting, forget it.

  182. Preacher’s Wife wrote:

    I was not allowed at the church building during the week with our newborn daughter, I asked an elder about it. He said the church was a business.

    “The church was a business”
    That is absolutely, ridiculously WRONG! Church is a sanctuary ….. a place to worship and learn and find peace of mind.
    When my daughter married, she was living and working in a town over thirty miles away. She and her fiancé couldn’t find a place they liked for their wedding, so I took my daughter on a grand tour of the church we attended at the time ( avg. attendance: 115)( Lots of people have access to the church at any time.) We sat in the sactuary and talked for a long time. A few days later she brought fiancé to see the church and they decided to have their wedding there. We decorated the church ourselves for the wedding, and since they married on a Saturday night, our families stayed late to clean and get things back in order for services the next morning.
    The church we attend now is heavy on making sure we wimmenfolk know we are second class and subservient, so I’m thinking about going back to th PE former church, whether my husband goes or not!

  183. @ dee:
    Yes. 2017: a walk in the light.

    “…God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 Jn 1:5-7NASB

  184. Christiane wrote:

    the mainline Churches respect the privacy of an individual as a part of preserving the dignity of that person as someone who is made in the image of God.

    Agency.
    God believes in agency, too. God doesn’t twist arms, threaten, or manipulate His children into what He wants, obedience. No matter how far off the rails are His created children, God remains a gentleman through and through, always and forever. He is stalwart, noble, in His actions and intentions.

  185. @ Roger Smith:
    Hello!

    My guess is you will eventually have to sign the covenant or be dismissed. Could make for a sort of high noon drama if you are so inclined. I would say, run.

  186. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    always being told by the college leadership that I wasn’t “submissive” enough when I questioned

    That sounds very familiar. Almost identical to my fundamentalist baptist upbringing. There was always a covert or overt witchhunt for subversives who didn’t bow down to the “god ordained” (read often wrong, always authoritarian) leadership. Its sad that such narrow and petty men have to make themselves feel powerful and whole by suppressing the god given traits of fellow humans and in some respects fellow believers in Jesus.

  187. @ The Man who Wasn’t Thursday:
    Love your name!

    I am always interested in college students who share their Neo Cal or authoritarian church experiences. I am especially interested in why they weren’t totally sucked in to continue with it.

    Most of that movement was built in youth groups and college campuses going back 15 years and more. I have some in my family who became Piper Zombies at Wheaton.

  188. @ dee:

    Stan has been very busy this year with a professional certification exam and building one of those freeways with toll lanes in the median (naturally). But now I get a long Christmas break. 🙂

    In Dallas, you do get those rebellious conservative mainline churches, I’m in one now, but I don’t understand how an Episcopalian church has a TKNY Faith and Work program. I would love to find out I’m confused and that church is in one of the conservative splinter denominations.

    Do you still have my contact info? I can do something but I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

  189. dee wrote:

    Muslin, fka Dee Holmes & mirele wrote:
    Uhm, I follow some people because I want to see what people are up to. I don’t want to be surprised.
    Me, too. I have also set up two extra super secret twitter accounts so that I can more easily follow those who have blocked me. On one of them, to throw them off, I actually retweet a harmless tweet or two from there tweets. I also have commented on blog that don’t like me under assumed names. It’s all rather amusing.

    Ah, Dee….going covert are ya? 😉

  190. Max wrote:

    dee wrote:
    I have learned to pick my battles.
    From my perspective, you have picked the right one when it comes to New Calvinism. If the American church does not win this battle – to expose and eliminate this aberrant faith – we may very well lose the war. Southern Baptists are finding that out – they did not climb the right hill to die on, shrinking back from the battle.

    To add to your comment, Max. If New Calvinism isn’t squashed, it will overrun all Evangelical churches.

  191. Darlene wrote:

    ^ *want to KNOW all about your personal business*

    My old church was definitely like this. And both elders and general congregants would press you if they thought you weren’t telling them all the details when they asked you.

  192. Lydia wrote:

    @ Roger Smith:
    My guess is you will eventually have to sign the covenant or be dismissed. Could make for a sort of high noon drama if you are so inclined. I would say, run.

    Roger, I would have to agree with Sister Lydia. Folks who linger too long in New Calvinist works, who have more spiritual sense to do so, always end up with a bad case of heartache. Sooner or later, those “good pastors” will show their bad side and get after you for not signing their membership covenant. You ‘must’ submit to them. If there are no other viable church options in your area, stay home and read your Bible … and pray that God will start cleaning house soon.

  193. @ The Man who Wasn’t Thursday:

    +1 on college and young adults churches with YRRism. For my small group, there was an expectation that we send nightly texts reporting if we uh, did that thing that guys do that day. It’s the ones who have clearly not achieved their aspirations in career or marital status that you have to look out for.

  194. Stan wrote:

    +1 on college and young adults churches with YRRism. For my small group, there was an expectation that we send nightly texts reporting if we uh, did that thing that guys do that day. It’s the ones who have clearly not achieved their aspirations in career or marital status that you have to look out for.

    My jaw hit the table. Why did they feel you needed to report on that versus being rude, etc.? I swear these people are nuts.

  195. AnonInNC wrote:

    And both elders and general congregants would press you if they thought you weren’t telling them all the details when they asked you.

    Incredible. I would love to know what they were hiding but you would never find out since you were the one on the hot seat. Good night!

  196. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    So, is this potential new congregation healthy? Ask the church. If it does not have a good reputation in the town, but rather its leaders are known for being quarrelsome, dismissive of other believers and separated out for their own vision and agenda, then the congregation is not healthy and on no account should you take seriously any strictures from it on “accountability” or “submission” – to elders who quite pointedly practice neither.

    You can usually find out the dirt on other churches by asking locals what they have heard.

  197. @ Lydia:
    I wasn’t exposed to Calvinism to that degree and intensity until coming to college. One of the things that both my pastor and several student leaders at that church said which shocked me is that their methods were specifically designed for people who weren’t necessarily comfortable or practiced in thinking through these things themselves, so the heavily structured and demanding preaching was really intended to capitalize on their youthful zeal while protecting them “unnecessary doubt” as a result of heavy thinking. The pastor even told me in a private conversation that while he was happy that I was thinking through this stuff on my own, he encouraged me specifically not to talk too much about it with my peers, again because it might cause them “unnecessary doubts” or result in “shipwrecks of the faith.” After further correspondence on the matter, he finally questioned my salvation, and that’s when I knew he wasn’t open to talking about it anymore. (I’ve gotten that response a lot from outspoken Reformed proponents, actually.)

    Anyway, I think that is the main reason my generation is being sucked into Calvinism. Not because they have an ambitious agenda or anything (for the most part), but because in the South there seems to be a tradition that you don’t talk about something if it causes disagreement. The problem is, people in the YRR crowd will capitalize on that desire to avoid confrontation, plus the natural humility of new or young Christians towards their spiritual elders, make people my age feel like they need to leave the deep thinking to ‘professional thinkers’ like Piper and the rest of them, and basically win over an entire generation already groomed to accept their ideology. It reminds me of the “Dilbert” comic where Dogbert wishes for world peace just so he could “conquer the whole stupid world with a butter knife.” It’s sad at best, and a little infuriating, now that I think about it.

    Most of the people I know who got sucked into Calvinism are great people, some of the best I’ve ever known. The problem is, they’ve trained or groomed from the cradle to view the world only through the lens of Calvinsim, or at least an unnamed Proto-Cavlnism that’s harder to detect, and harder to question without raising doubts about salvation. All that Proto-Calvinism needs is a strong and authoritative-sounding leader to say the trigger words, and those years of subtle conditioning come to the surface, blooming into an impregnable fortress of predestination and quiet smugness. It sounds terrible to say it that way, but, having taken a few steps down that road, that psychological certainty is immensely comforting, and even a little exhilarating. The problem is that it mimics the courage brought about by real truth, though without any of the humility. “Boldness” became an excuse for licentiousness and arrogance, but since it was all for “The Gospel,” it was considered ok, and even loving, to offend people. And that, too, mimics the truth; sometimes the truth hurts, but still needs to be heard. But this particular brand of “boldness” tends to see offense itself as the evidence for the ‘truth’ of whatever that person might be saying, and commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent (offense) in order to establish the veracity of the Reformed message. In short, “I’m right because you got offended, and you’re rejecting my message exactly as you would if I had really called you out on sins you knew you committed.” Guilty until proven innocent is the name of the game.

    To sum it up, I think my generation is being sucked into Reformed theology for several reasons:
    1. The leaders bully them into it, and make them like it.
    2. The more ambitious and zealous ones sense that it will give them power.
    3. Many of them mean the best, but were groomed from the cradle to accept it.
    4. Once drawn in, the feeling of certainty and authority is both a comfort to the doubting (one might say “healthy”) mind, and a license to spiritual pride.

    I tried to keep it short, but it could take a book to really explain it.

  198. @ dee:

    I know, you’re preaching to the choir. Long story short, the only guy who had a girlfriend thought he was hot snot. And, he went to Master’s. And Redemption™ Groups are mental. What do you think happened when I tried to rouse those guys up to go to a service project on Saturday morning?

    Also, want to see the texts I got when I sent my signed resignation letter and left?

    My real middle name is Stanley, too.

  199. @ Stan:
    There was HUGE pressure to join an “accountability group” or have an “accountability partner” at my old church. Your experience mirrors my church exactly, and that was one of the biggest issues I had with the leadership. It was automatically assumed that you were a filthy example of a human being (a “worm,” if I understand Piper correctly), and so depraved that you are not able to control yourself. Therefore,goes the logic, you need to team up with someone else who can’t control himself, to keep each other in line, in order that you may control yourselves.

    The logical problems with that ideology are self-evident:
    1. The assumption that everyone struggles with the same sin
    2. The idea that you may combat it by replacing it with pride or the fear of others, both of which have far worse ramifications.

    Not to mention the biggest one, if the proponents of that kind of “accountability” still want to claim biblical support for their methods of control:
    3. The New Testament teaches that it is Love that frees us from sin, not Law. It is kindness, not condemnation, that brings about real change.

    I had a friend at that church who committed suicide because of this kind of stuff, and others who got close. It almost destroyed them.

    Sorry to make it dark, but I hope your experience didn’t bring about results like that. It looks like you can joke about it, so I’m guessing you got out fine, but that kind of ideology is terrible.

  200. @ Lydia:
    By the way, George MacDonald is the antidote to Calvinism (and C.S. Lewis by extension). They, plus Chesterton, pulled me irresistibly away from Reformed theology. Oh, yeah, and seeing people around me get destroyed. That has a way of leaving a bad aftertaste.

  201. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    @ Lydia:
    By the way, George MacDonald is the antidote to Calvinism (and C.S. Lewis by extension). They, plus Chesterton, pulled me irresistibly away from Reformed theology. Oh, yeah, and seeing people around me get destroyed. That has a way of leaving a bad aftertaste.

    Wow. I realize the potential misunderstanding in what I wrote:”George Macdonald is the antidote to…(C.S. Lewis by extension).” It should have been, “George MacDonald (and C.S. Lewis by extension) are the antidote…”

    C.S. Lewis was certainly not a Calvinist!

  202. Dave (Eagle) wrote:

    @ Roger Smith:

    Roger…where is this in the Midwest. I write about the Evangelical Free Church movement. I am about 50% done calculating the growth of Neo Calvinism in the EFCA.

    Dave (Eagle) wrote:

    @ Roger Smith:

    Roger…where is this in the Midwest. I write about the Evangelical Free Church movement. I am about 50% done calculating the growth of Neo Calvinism in the EFCA.

    Dave (Eagle) wrote:

    @ Roger Smith:

    Roger…where is this in the Midwest. I write about the Evangelical Free Church movement. I am about 50% done calculating the growth of Neo Calvinism in the EFCA.

    Marshalltown and Toledo Iowa

  203. @ The Man who Wasn’t Thursday:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. I am one to joke inappropriately, but I definitely can see that happening. I didn’t grow up a Christian, and guys going through with the Redemption Group process actually reminded me of a painful time in my life when I realized some of my friends were being/have been changed by drugs. In that, they were very morose and very forceful to get you to try it too.

    Thankfully, I had no expectations that these people were special or superior, unlike many of them there. And thankfully, there exists The Wartburg Watch to give people like me a road map, or else I wouldn’t risk church participation at all.

    Now I’m talking about “young adults” churches here, not college, and imagine being a young professional like me who can afford to live alone and does. Churches are treating young men like psych patients who need constant supervision, and that’s supposed to produce husbands and fathers who are Cary Grant, June Cleaver, and Tim Taylor all in one. No, this actually produces men who are phony creeps, wimpy Peter Pans, or atheists. I think the great mystery of the church’s man shortage is actually this simple. And, consider this: it’s not women who made the church like that, and it hurts women the most in the long run.

    Don’t take it from me, here’s Matt Chandler:

    http://media.thevillagechurch.net/sermons/transcripts/201409211115FMWC21ASAAA_MattChandler_ABeautifulDesignPt3-MansPurpose.pdf

    First full paragraph in page 3:

    When women go off to women’s retreats… In fact, a friend of mine and I were talking in the foyer.
    When women go to women’s retreats, they just get encouraged. “You guys are awesome. You can do
    it! All right!” Men get blown up. You go to a man thing. You’re just going to hear how much you’ve
    failed and how bad you stink and why the whole world is broken because you’re so worthless.
    That’s kind of how we do it, and it’s the right way to do it. With that said, two things. I want to lean
    into us as men, and then I want to encourage us as men.

  204. Dave (Eagle) wrote:

    I do discernment exercises

    They have been interesting and informative. Have you ever received feedback from any of them after one of your posts?

    Sorry to hear about your mother’s hospitalization, I’ll keep you and she in my prayers.

  205. Preacher’s Wife wrote:

    Imagine the hurt when your life revolves around a congregation only for them to turn on you, slander you to nearby congregations and leave you unemployed and homeless (there was a parsonage involved). It was almost enough to lose faith entirely.

    Yours is not the first story to make me realize Institutional Churchianity exploits both members and preachers. I didn’t lose my faith, just my confidence in what we call church.

  206. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    Anyway, I think that is the main reason my generation is being sucked into Calvinism. Not because they have an ambitious agenda or anything (for the most part), but because in the South there seems to be a tradition that you don’t talk about something if it causes disagreement.

    I live in California’s Silicon Valley. I have seen NeoCalvinism make deep inroads here, including among U.C.L.A. graduates with engineering degrees working in tech and Stanford University undergraduate and graduate students.

    My ex-church certainly caters to them. And ironically the senior pastor (Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley) has a fake Ph.D. from a diploma mill (Faith Bible College in Independence, Missouri) and another fake advanced degree from the same place (the U.S. Department of Education and the Missouri Attorney General said that they’re fakes and it’s a diploma mill).

  207. dee wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    And just think, Dee — you can legitimately say you’re in league with Stan!
    This particularly iteration of Stan actually works for a company with Stan in the name.

    I think there should be a small country named for the Wartburg Watch. How about “Wartburgstan”?

  208. Darlene wrote:

    If New Calvinism isn’t squashed, it will overrun all Evangelical churches.

    Yes. Their method of church governance is sticky. Once they are in charge they only allow elders/deacons who agree with them.

  209. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    This a great post! Beyound the Very important concept of “authoritarism” which is highlighted all over the place, I noticed the YEC statement. I think this is more of a “big deal” than most people realize. Mix authoritarism/church discipline with church doctrine explicitly stating how you should think about science/history, etc, and you have a recipe for disaster.. it is much, much more than how old the earth is!!
    They would never accept me as a member, and if i grew up in it, and learned real science, i would be in church discipline, unless i kept my mouth shut, and lived a dual life.. unfortunately, i know a number of people that live like that…. is that the true gospel?

    Yes, if YEC is something they require then the church is bound to be off in other areas – there is a whole mindset and attitude that goes beyond YEC. Very literalistic and rigid – there are to such churches few minor issues where people can disagree. Virtually every issue is a major issue and a test of your salvation. Tend to be insular – few people outside of their church understand the Bible as perfectly and literally as they do so few people outside of their circle are saved. This insular attitude naturally aids pastors who are authoritarian and abusive.

  210. ishy wrote:

    Roger Smith wrote:
    I think the heat is going to start. My good church preaching options are very limited. I think I will follow what Wade Burleson said in his book Fraudulent authority. What do you guys think.
    I somehow missed your post earlier. The way many of these churches work is that they act like normal churches with normal pastors for some time to get people in, then they switch to the authoritarian model. Even though the pastors went elsewhere, they could very well be authoritarian, anyway. My first church that split and one group went Acts29, none of them have SBC seminary degrees. They went to some other schools, too.
    With recent graduates though, the most likely Calvinista candidates are being indoctrinated at SBTS and SEBTS. Pastors can still be indoctrinated elsewhere, but it’s fairly certain if they come from those schools, they will be hyper-Calvinists.

    Maybe we could start a Facebook group and read Fraudulent Authority by Wade Burleson. It’s a few dollars electronically from Amazon.

  211. Christiane wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    very fatalistic
    good description of determinism as it is taught in neo-Cal world ….. Christ wasn’t ‘needed’ until these men wanted to use Him to bump up their man-made ESS doctrine
    my question was always: these Calvinists seem so self-assured, but how do THEY know that THEY personally are ‘in’ as ‘the elect’

    I hear ‘ya, sister Christiane. I have the exact same questions.

  212. Lydia wrote:

    @ Roger Smith:
    Hello!
    My guess is you will eventually have to sign the covenant or be dismissed. Could make for a sort of high noon drama if you are so inclined. I would say, run.

    Run, Roger Smith…RUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN!

    Signed,

    Velour, Been There & Done That & Got Excommunicated for Critical Thinking Skills at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley

  213. Ken F wrote:

    The only way you can be sure you are elect is if you persevere. Falling back into sin (not persevering) could be evidence that you are not elect.

    If you conform and have “uniformity” [NeoCalinvists ‘unity’] the NeoCalvinists will assure you that you are ‘saved’. However if you dare to have two working brain cells/critical thinking skills…you will be subjected to being raked over the coals and a Salem Witch Trial II before pastors/elders and eventually the entire church membership. I know. I was excommunicated and shunned at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley on some trumped up charge, like a doctor before me in his 70’s (godly man, faithful husband for nearly 50 years and a loving and devoted father to grown children), and like the middle-aged woman in finance before the good doctor (a sweet soul who volunteers with the mentally ill in group homes and the elderly in convalescent homes).

  214. Stan wrote:

    First full paragraph in page 3:

    When women go off to women’s retreats… In fact, a friend of mine and I were talking in the foyer.
    When women go to women’s retreats, they just get encouraged. “You guys are awesome. You can do
    it! All right!” Men get blown up. You go to a man thing. You’re just going to hear how much you’ve
    failed and how bad you stink and why the whole world is broken because you’re so worthless.
    That’s kind of how we do it, and it’s the right way to do it. With that said, two things. I want to lean
    into us as men, and then I want to encourage us as men.

    This is so destructive. And then they have no solutions to offer except to force men into “accountability” relationships, which are just another can of worms. What a mess.

  215. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    It was automatically assumed that you were a filthy example of a human being (a “worm,” if I understand Piper correctly), and so depraved that you are not able to control yourself. Therefore,goes the logic, you need to team up with someone else who can’t control himself, to keep each other in line, in order that you may control yourselves.

    The last church we attended brought in the “authentic manhood” program for the men. My husband looked up the videos online to get a feel for what it was about and we saw this kind of thinking in it. You pointed out the logical fallacy very well. Your whole comment is excellent. I’m sorry to think of young people getting sucked into such a destructive system. That is not what faith is supposed to be about! As you rightly pointed out, love is the answer.

    We decided to move on as the church was bringing in those kinds of programs and we knew it was just a matter of time. They were not open to discussing the problems with it.

  216. Jacob wrote:

    Yes, if YEC is something they require then the church is bound to be off in other areas – there is a whole mindset and attitude that goes beyond YEC. Very literalistic and rigid – there are to such churches few minor issues where people can disagree. Virtually every issue is a major issue and a test of your salvation.

    This is sort of a funny aside, but one time my husband and I visited a fundamentalist church and in their statement of faith, on the subject of heaven, they emphatically stated that it is “located due north” in a specific location. I had never seen such a claim before but it was a great example of churches getting all tied up in the most obscure and meaningless issues!

  217. The trouble with accountability groups was succinctly explained to me by a male business associate who had dipped a toe in that pond: “Men lie!” I.e. when questioned about how they had done that week, nobody would admit to having had any issues, and thus there was no accountability.

  218. Stan wrote:

    For my small group, there was an expectation that we send nightly texts reporting if we uh, did that thing that guys do that day

    Seriously???

    Did they ask the girls?

  219. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    @ Stan:
    There was HUGE pressure to join an “accountability group” or have an “accountability partner” at my old church. Your experience mirrors my church exactly, and that was one of the biggest issues I had with the leadership. …Therefore,goes the logic, you need to team up with someone else who can’t control himself, to keep each other in line, in order that you may control yourselves.

    Snip…

    I had a friend at that church who committed suicide because of this kind of stuff, and others who got close. It almost destroyed them.

    First of all I’m so sorry about your friend. That’s awful.

    Second, I think Dee/Deb or someone need to do a post about ‘accountability’ groups because this is fascinating me lately. Some questions I have:

    1.Did this start with promise keepers or did they coopt it?
    2. Are these only for men? Because that is all I ever hear about.
    3. Are members encouraged routinely to keep major sins within the group and make no amends, not call the police, not come clean to wives or girlfriends?
    4. Does this inform the attitude of ‘keep it in House’ we see as relates to child abusers/spousal abuse etc?

  220. From what I understand, my former church’s proposed “Exodus 18” shepherding control scheme was supposed to be a “one-way” accountability group where the person above you on the hierarchy could interrogate you (and others under their “care”), but you couldn’t do the same to them.

    I would never participate in any sort of accountability group, but this type of accountability system where it’s one way seems especially abusive and toxic.

    Glad I’m out of that place.

  221. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    To sum it up, I think my generation is being sucked into Reformed theology for several reasons:
    1. The leaders bully them into it, and make them like it.
    2. The more ambitious and zealous ones sense that it will give them power.
    3. Many of them mean the best, but were groomed from the cradle to accept it.
    4. Once drawn in, the feeling of certainty and authority is both a comfort to the doubting (one might say “healthy”) mind, and a license to spiritual pride.
    I tried to keep it short, but it could take a book to really explain it.

    I think this grooming process really needs a post of its own.

  222. Stan wrote:

    When women go off to women’s retreats… In fact, a friend of mine and I were talking in the foyer.
    When women go to women’s retreats, they just get encouraged. “You guys are awesome. You can do
    it! All right!” Men get blown up. You go to a man thing. You’re just going to hear how much you’ve
    failed and how bad you stink and why the whole world is broken because you’re so worthless.
    That’s kind of how we do it, and it’s the right way to do it. With that said, two things. I want to lean
    into us as men, and then I want to encourage us as men.

    I wish that were true, but women are actually extremely cruel if your life doesn’t line up perfectly, either. If you step out of line on one thing, be it not having a spouse AND kids AND perfectly behaved homeschooled kids AND you’re pretty/thin/etc AND AND say the perfect thing all the time AND you are involved in at least one ministry in the church where you devote hours and hours of time each week (BTW, this means you can’t work, so your husband must support you)…. you’re nothing and will be constantly criticized. Even some that do will still be criticized just because someone is jealous of them.

    For example, I’m single, which means no husband, no kids, and I must work for a living. That’s a death sentence at womens’ retreats, even ones where I’ve been part of the leadership team. I went one whole retreat where the only person that spoke to me was the speaker, from another church.

  223. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    The problem is that it mimics the courage brought about by real truth, though without any of the humility. “Boldness” became an excuse for licentiousness and arrogance, but since it was all for “The Gospel,” it was considered ok, and even loving, to offend people. And that, too, mimics the truth; sometimes the truth hurts, but still needs to be heard. But this particular brand of “boldness” tends to see offense itself as the evidence for the ‘truth’ of whatever that person might be saying, and commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent (offense) in order to establish the veracity of the Reformed message. In short, “I’m right because you got offended, and you’re rejecting my message exactly as you would if I had really called you out on sins you knew you committed.” Guilty until proven innocent is the name of the game

    I could spend all day discussing various aspects of your entire comment because it hits on so many things I have witnessed but from a much older perch.

    Thanks so much for your insights. They sound so familiar! Love the Dllber reference.

    think of the possibilities when offense is seen as evidence for truth. You have captured that in a way I had not thought of. It was not just brashness we saw but a way for them to quickly separate the true believers from others. Marginalized.

    Add in violence and you have the same underlying philosophy as the Kmer Rouge.

    I think i also see better why it is so hard for the true believers to rethink it all.

    I hope you visit here more often. Your insights and experience are instructive.

  224. Lydia wrote:

    I hope you [The Man who Wasn’t Thursday] visit here more often. Your insights and experience are instructive.

    Yes, please.

  225. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    Anyway, I think that is the main reason my generation is being sucked into Calvinism. Not because they have an ambitious agenda or anything (for the most part), but because in the South there seems to be a tradition that you don’t talk about something if it causes disagreement.

    Totally true. This is one reason that we tend to consider ‘yankees’ rude. They don’t tend to play that game. And this is one of the reasons that southerners use so many words-to get it said without ever having to actually say it-whatever it is. But since we do say it anyhow, just not to somebody’s face, then one and all have to watch their backs. All the time.

  226. @ Stan:
    Sigh. Why can’t we just be decent human beings first and foremost? But am fully aware that in that gender exclusive determined environment, Matt Chandler is seen as a radical thinker and iconoclastic. Rather sad.

    His churches treatment of Karen Hinckley communicates who they really are.

  227. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    it was considered ok, and even loving, to offend people.

    This is a ‘witnessing’ technique that is actually taught, or at least used to be, in which the first move is to throw the person off balance and then hammer them with ‘the gospel’ before they can get their balance again. During the time they are off balance the goal is to convince them that they are lost sinners without hope. Do not get distracted by any ‘excuses’ (rational thinking?) from the victim. The statement is: ‘You have to get them lost before you can get them saved.’ And yes, if the person is angry or offended that just proves you have struck a raw nerve; it is admission of guilt as it were.

    Interesting. That is similar to what the Masters taught the kids in TKD for if it was a real fight and not just sparring. The first and immediate imperative is to get your opponent down on the ground; then deliver ‘the blow’. All as quickly as possible. And if there is a weapon, make it impossible for him to use the weapon, as an immediate priority.

    I watched a fellow kill a pig out in a pig pen on youtube. Same thing. He shot the pig in the head with a 22 rifle which stunned the animal, but he killed the pig with a knife to the major available arteries in the neck for death by blood loss.

    I am thinking these all operate on the same theories. If that is christianity, they can keep it.

  228. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    I had a friend at that church who committed suicide because of this kind of stuff, and others who got close. It almost destroyed them.

    Sorry to make it dark, but I hope your experience didn’t bring about results like that. It looks like you can joke about it, so I’m guessing you got out fine, but that kind of ideology is terrible.

    I have seen some dark results over the years because I live at ground zero. I know of a few attempts by teens of such youth groups. I have, however, met quite a few formerly rabid YRR who are now rabid atheists. I think that makes sense if you were never taught any other view of God.

    For one, Calvinism is not practical. It must remain in the realm of contemplation. Syncing day to day life in the real world with the navel gazing sin sniffing worm culture of Calvinism is pure cognitive dissonance. Can you imagine Piper in a real job?

    I was raised on the free will/personal responsibility concept of how God operates so I could never fully accept it. (Thanks Mom!)

    One thing I noticed about Neo Calvinist leaders with a bit of mileage on them is they did not raise their little kids the way they said they believed about human nature. It was weird.

    I think it is all cognitive dissonance and a way for a few to control many. It reeks of group think. And these days, everything is positioned in terms of groups as that is where our society drifted. Non aligned Independent thinkers are not valued.

  229. ishy wrote:

    I went one whole retreat where the only person that spoke to me was the speaker, from another church.

    Solution, don’t go to women retreats? (sidetone: Gateway is having a big NYD conference thing with franklin graham, henry cloud and a couple other names I may have recognized. So many conferences!). Seriously, that’s so rude.

    And this ‘women are criticized’ thing is bunk. In these churches its every day and its probably subtle, except when it isn’t.

  230. Lydia wrote:

    The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:
    The problem is that it mimics the courage brought about by real truth, though without any of the humility. “Boldness” became an excuse for licentiousness and arrogance, but since it was all for “The Gospel,” it was considered ok, and even loving, to offend people.

    think of the possibilities when offense is seen as evidence for truth.

    This is how kindness and decency and even good manners go out the window. You must be ‘bold’. You must be ‘real’. You must be ‘offensive’. No room for kind and loving, only ‘truth in love’.

  231. okrapod wrote:

    Totally true. This is one reason that we tend to consider ‘yankees’ rude. They don’t tend to play that game. And this is one of the reasons that southerners use so many words-to get it said without ever having to actually say it-whatever it is. But since we do say it anyhow, just not to somebody’s face, then one and all have to watch their backs. All the time.

    That would just wear me out to no end . . .

  232. @ Bridget:

    Bless your heart Bridget!

    I’m southern enough to enjoy the round about way of speaking, but I don’t mind dropping to speak plainly either. I think both are useful ways to communicate. And if you speak fluent southern, you understand the roundabout just fine.

  233. Lea wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    I went one whole retreat where the only person that spoke to me was the speaker, from another church.
    Solution, don’t go to women retreats? (sidetone: Gateway is having a big NYD conference thing with franklin graham, henry cloud and a couple other names I may have recognized. So many conferences!). Seriously, that’s so rude.
    And this ‘women are criticized’ thing is bunk. In these churches its every day and its probably subtle, except when it isn’t.

    I only went because I was asked to lead worship (2 different churches), and it was some time ago. I avoid retreats like the plague. Aside from those issues, they also seem like a huge waste of money.

    I didn’t think Stan realized how cruel church women are, even in the listing of Bible classes and conference topics. Everything is about how to be a perfect woman, and no woman ever has met the standard they preach, even if they pretend like they are. The topics might sound all rah-rah, but they are usually about how you are not doing enough in your marriage and with your kids (and those are pretty much the only approved topics for womens’ retreats, and even classes, are about). Many of the things church women are cruel about are things you may not have any control over, like being a single mom or having to work to pay the bills.

    Just because something is in polite language or has a cheery title doesn’t mean it’s not all about how much of a worm you are.

  234. Plus, in many of these churches men may get preached at by other men, but they probably aren’t by the women (at least in a public setting). But women not only get criticized by each other, often for ridiculous reasons, but also get preached at by the men, and often in ways that show men have no respect for all the things women do in the church and at home.

  235. Bridget wrote:

    okrapod wrote:

    Totally true. This is one reason that we tend to consider ‘yankees’ rude. They don’t tend to play that game. And this is one of the reasons that southerners use so many words-to get it said without ever having to actually say it-whatever it is. But since we do say it anyhow, just not to somebody’s face, then one and all have to watch their backs. All the time.

    That would just wear me out to no end . . .

    Well it is not Universal in the South because I certainly wasn’t raised around women like that. That sort of game playing was considered deceptive.

  236. Lydia wrote:

    That sort of game playing was considered deceptive.

    There is a difference between being polite and being deceptive, imo. People being people, some of them are going to be sneaky even in the north. I grew up in the south and I went to school with a bunch of yankees.

    I prefer polite. That doesn’t mean you can’t be truthful at the same time.

  237. ishy wrote:

    But women not only get criticized by each other, often for ridiculous reasons, but also get preached at by the men, and often in ways that show men have no respect for all the things women do in the church and at home.

    Absolutely.

  238. Lydia wrote:

    Well it is not Universal in the South because I certainly wasn’t raised around women like that. That sort of game playing was considered deceptive.

    I come from where you come from and indeed that is not the female communications style there. But then I moved to the other side of the Appalachian mountains and became one who was ‘not from around here’. Lots of differences, communication style being one of many.

  239. @ okrapod:

    @ Lea:

    @ Lydia:

    I guess I’m just thinking there has to be something between being considerded upfront “rude” and “having to watch your back” because no-un quite lets on to what they’re wantin to say . . . 😉

  240. ishy wrote:

    I wish that were true,

    But it isn’t.
    Your experience is different from mine because I was married, a pastor’s wife, homeschooled and wasn’t overly heavy.

    And no, they weren’t cruel to me in the cliquish sense. But everything was so plastic, fluffy, and empty. No life whatsoever
    There were no solutions to the hard questions.

    Marriage not going right, then you need to go back and try harder, i.e. It’s your fault, submit more, be sweeter, soften your approach more or something. Pray about it. God will show you where you are screwing up so bad.

    Husband not leading as he should, then, again, it’s your fault. Let go and he’ll step up because that’s how he’s made.

    Uhm. No he won’t. He hasn’t for decades. Thanks for continuing to give advice that has only caused financial destruction, emotional devastation, and spiritual bankruptcy.

    The last time I ever listened to a Dobson radio program, I was driving along a county road. It was a recording of some woman at some retreat telling all the other women to step back so the husband can step up into his God-given, divine-right position of authority. He’ll step if you just back the gosh-darn off and let him. She spoke so sweetly, with so much misguided ‘biblical’ certainty that it only made the false message more sour.

    I screamed back at that radio about how wrong she was and how damaging her advice was and about how much she leading women astray from God and real answers.

    It wasn’t a pretty sight. Good thing I was driving down a country road and not in the middle of some city somewhere.

  241. Pingback: Wednesday Link List | Thinking Out Loud UNITED STATES

  242. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    But this particular brand of “boldness” tends to see offense itself as the evidence for the ‘truth’ of whatever that person might be saying, and commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent (offense) in order to establish the veracity of the Reformed message. In short, “I’m right because you got offended,

    OMgoodness!

    Just had a flash back about Driscoll telling women about what they are suppose to do, then saying something along the lines of, “If you are bristling at this then you are being convinced of your sins,” or some such rot.

    You are spot on, Thursday. And like the others I hope you come back and keep commenting.

  243. You all check back in a bit. I have said something about the boldness mystique from a rather, well, disturbing aspect.

  244. Lydia wrote:

    Well it is not Universal in the South because I certainly wasn’t raised around women like that. That sort of game playing was considered deceptive.

    Exactly. I’ve lived my whole life 20-25 miles north of the Tennessee state line, and there is a mixture of those behaviors among females.

  245. They may be thinking that if her husband dies in his wicked ways, then his blood will be required at her hands, and since they think that they are responsible for her then by extension his blood would be required at their hands because they could not make her do right. Check reference in Ezekiel.

  246. I think the church I attend now has a mildly authoritarian pastor; his preaching, however, has a high view of grace, which is paramount in my order of priorities regarding what is important in a local expression of God’s church.

    If he were to blenderize a puppy during a Sunday morning sermon, it would not cause me to stumble in my faith–thanks to profound past disappointments, I have very low expectations regarding church leadership.

  247. Mara wrote:

    I tried so hard not to trip over that-which-is-not-to-be-named. But I did anyway.

    It really makes me wonder how Mars Hill got so big, as the stuff Driscoll says is so utterly ridiculous.

  248. I was raised Anglican but for a while did attend an Assemblies of God affiliated church. My wife still attends so I hear/read some of what still goes on. On the whole the place is pretty innocuous. No membership covenant (at least no longer on the web site). I think you have to attend for a little while before the flags start to appear.

    Believe it or not (pun intended), I used to have a lot of faith. Ironically it was watching the evolution (again, pun intended) of my wife’s church that led me to read the bible critically (and reject most of it).

    Here’s the red flags that I picked up on:

    – no tolerance (Muslims, Jews, mainline protestants, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, Baptists – have all been mentioned at one time or another as inferior belief systems – my personal favourite “Jesus wasn’t an Anglican!” – well, from what I’ve read, he also didn’t speak in some hoolabaloo language that no one can understand – except that guy in the back row who yells out an “interpretation”)

    – While the church board is elected, the Lead Pastor is chairman of that board. This is poor governance, his daughter was hired as the “Discipleship Pastor”. She has a married name so no one would pick up on this unless you were an attendee and knew the cast of characters.

    – Church growth programs – When I was there it was “Purpose Driven Life”. There’s been some others – the latest of which is “Bursting Your Bubble” (apparently you craft a “life story” to share with your non-christian – read “not members of this church” – acquaintances to build friendships with the goal of bringing them to Christ). Sounds manipulative. They did this when I was there in the form of Operation Andrew where you were to foster friendships with the intent of manipulating people to go to the Franklin “Nuke’em til they glow” Graham festival.

    – More intolerance – watched a lovely video by “Focus on the Family” guy James Dobson about the “Homosexual Agenda”. Remember folks – “love the sinner, hate the sin” – the only time I ever heard the word “hate” in a church was in this place.

    – focus on giving. and giving. and giving. Oh did I mention giving yet? How come all the missionaries go to the warm climates in the winter? To such non-christian places as Jamaica and the Philippines? Just saying.

    – Young Earth Creationism – “our Christian worldview” – Sorry Dee, but you do not have a Christian worldview – you can hang out with me in heck if you want. They had some guy from “Creation Ministries” tell us how Jupiter’s moon Io is proof of the 6000 year old universe because it’s hot with volcanoes. The interaction between Io, her sister moons and Jupiter itself are well understood as the cause of the volcanism – and why Europa has liquid water etc. Oh yeah buddy – how do you explain stars? They’re a little on the warm side. When lies are passed as truth, then the church has really jumped the shark.

    So after being shown all the ways in which I was not Christian – and actually being shown the Christian way to interpret the bible – I ceased to identify as one. It was a defence mechanism. Easier to just state your non-belief at the outset – no point in debating these issues – they don’t see you as Christian anyway. Ironically most evangelicals don’t want to engage non-believers.

  249. Lea wrote:

    There is a difference between being polite and being deceptive

    That’s why Scripture warns us that the enemy of our souls can come to us even as an angel of light, just as it warns to beware of flattering lips. American Christians need to pray for a new measure of discernment, particularly in regard to New Calvinist message and method. Don’t let a deceiving young pastor polite you into bondage.

  250. A note about speech ….. when I was teaching, we were three of us on a team and our youngest was a recently-divorced young woman with a baby whose husband had left her for another woman during her pregnancy. Apparently, it was during that pregnancy when she was working with us that she had a conversation with a vice-principal, a wonderful man whom we all respected for his goodness to everyone. He was attempting to comfort her in her distress of learning that her husband was with another woman by sharing with her his own personal story of losing his wife to a man she worked with and suffering through the emotions of a divorce.

    The young teacher proceeded to tell us in meeting what this principal had shared about his own tragedy and we both (being older and older) stopped her, telling her: that’s ‘sacred’ information

    what we meant is that although she was telling the truth and plainly so, we explained that it was told to her in great confidence by the principal who was trying to comfort her by sharing his own experience of suffering and emotional survival. When we finished ‘explaining’ why she should not speak of what her told her, she understood.

    The point: we have to understand the impact of our words, even if we speak the ‘truth’, that there will be those times when ‘the truth’ is best not spoken if it preserves the dignity of an innocent person who has shared that truth in trying to bring comfort to another ….

    our young colleague was an open honest girl, but she was too young to know that, once spoken, words take on a power of their own and cannot be called back

  251. ishy wrote:

    It really makes me wonder how Mars Hill got so big, as the stuff Driscoll says is so utterly ridiculous.

    Just as any Christian in their right mind wonders how John Piper got so big, since he also suffers from a bad case of uttering utterly ridiculous words.

  252. For those who may be offended at the imagery of a blenderized puppy, I will state that I would grieve the puppy. In my 43 years in the Kingdom, I have seen the spiritual lives of vulnerable believers blenderized by poor leadership, even with the best of intentions.

    My basis of discernment regarding elder or pastoral behavior is simply this:

    1. If it looks like Jesus, it might be–but be careful and observe in the context of time.
    2. If it does not look like Jesus, it simply is not. No need to try to reform or correct it; run for your life from such leadership.

  253. Bill M wrote:

    I didn’t lose my faith, just my confidence in what we call church.

    Bill, a lot of Wartburgers would raise their hand on that. While the institutional church is being held captive to “another gospel”, individual believers don’t have to be!

  254. The OP stated that New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) has shifted towards Neo Calvinism…is that truly the case? I thought Paige Patterson’s brother-in-law (Dorothy’s brother) was president there; if so, I assumed he was a die-hard Arminian.

  255. I always appreciate the input of Todd Wilhelm; having been functionally and dysfunctionally excommunicated several times, if one has not been asked to leave one is probably not trying in terms of authentic faith.

  256. @ Christiane:

    That is certainly true. But some female southern speech goes waaaay beyond that. We obfuscate stuff that is perfectly harmless, and we withhold information that people may even need, and we pretend sometimes to an extreme. It is a theatrical skill not to be confused with actual conversation. If I think of a good example I will tell you.

    But we do not do it all the time, and some of us who only moved here and were not born here never really get the hang of it. Young son said of his sister young daughter that she could take a phrase and turn it into an afternoon. And she can. And her mother says all the time cut it out with the barrage of words and cut to the chase, which of course does little for the relationship.

  257. I think sometimes Christians live with a zero-sum view of Jesus and leadership; the higher view of leadership one holds, the less influence Jesus has–in other words we imprint on a man rather than Christ. Disappointment in human leadership often, sadly, diminishes our view of Christ. I wish the opposite were true, that as we see the failings of men, that we would engage a higher view of Christ. It would awaken mercy, in my experience, for those who have failed and hurt us. A natural result of imprinting on Christ, rather than men.

  258. okrapod wrote:

    we withhold information that people may even need

    I can’t think of this happening as far as true ‘needed’ information but I do have a funnyish story.

    I have a work friend who moved south from the midwest somewhere, and she asked for a recipe and got it and made something and it didn’t come out right. So she was confused that there were nuances to the recipe that got left out (if not even an ingredient). And we were talking about this when I was making the coffee and I said something about a heaping teaspoon or a scant one and she accused me of being southern about it because of that. Because I guess I should have been more precise. Ha.

  259. SouthShore will dismiss members to protect the flock with the ultimate goal of bringing the offending member to a realization of the consequences of his identified sin. This policy will apply to all professing Christians, member or non-member, who regularly attend or fellowship with this church.

    The hubris this statement requires is breathtaking. If you voluntarily fellowship with SS, but do not join, and get into a disagreement with the leadership persist in living in sin, they will kick you out and prohibit your return? Why would anyone choose to attend, much less join, a ‘church’ like that???

  260. Burwell wrote:

    The hubris this statement requires is breathtaking. If you voluntarily fellowship with SS, but do not join, and get into a disagreement with the leadership persist in living in sin, they will kick you out and prohibit your return? Why would anyone choose to attend, much less join, a ‘church’ like that???

    Get your life straight before you set foot in the door? Jesus doesn’t do anything for you unless you change your ways before you come to church, so wash yourself white as snow before you meet our Lord?
    Just another YRR way to kick Jesus out on his ear.

  261. Burwell wrote:

    The OP stated that New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) has shifted towards Neo Calvinism…is that truly the case? I thought Paige Patterson’s brother-in-law (Dorothy’s brother) was president there; if so, I assumed he was a die-hard Arminian.

    I think the trustees can overrule hiring, so you could have a Calvinista trustee board and still put Calvinistas on staff.

  262. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    C.S. Lewis was certainly not a Calvinist!

    Most New Calvinists claim Lewis as one of their own. Piper, a little more elusive on this, says that Lewis ‘might’ have been a Calvinist. However, a thorough look at the whole of Lewis’ works indicates that he falls squarely and soundly within an Arminian theological framework.

    But for the final word on his exact theological leaning, we should accept the analysis of Doug Wilson, eminent theologian, as fact (tongue in cheek): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOe4-IpwJX4

    NOT! Good Lord, there are so many goober celebrities in New Calvinism!

  263. Lea wrote:

    I said something about a heaping teaspoon or a scant one and she accused me of being southern about it because of that. Because I guess I should have been more precise. Ha.

    I’m a Southern Kentucky female, but I’m an analytical/logical/mathematical person. Give me exact measurements, please ……. down to 1/32 of a teaspoon!
    But, there are some things …… Beef stew, for example ….. No measurements, add potatoes and carrots until it “looks right”, add seasonings until it “smells right”. I’ve recently started writing stuff down so I can hopefully get what “right” is, in exact measurements. I will “Doctor” recipes, too.

  264. Nancy2 wrote:

    Get your life straight before you set foot in the door? Jesus doesn’t do anything for you unless you change your ways before you come to church, so wash yourself white as snow before you meet our Lord?
    Just another YRR way to kick Jesus out on his ear.

    Interestingly, I am spending time in John 4:1-26 this week…Jesus and the Samaritan woman (at the well). I am having a difficult time juxtaposing the Messiah’s treatment of the woman with the church policy at SouthShore.

  265. Nancy2 wrote:

    Get your life straight before you set foot in the door?

    Reminds me of a situation a friend told me about.

    She was visiting a new boyfriend’s church. And above the door of the sanctuary it told women that if they were not wearing a dress or a skirt then they were not allowed to enter.

    She concluded her story with, “Whatever happened to ‘God bless you’?”

  266. Jack wrote:

    So after being shown all the ways in which I was not Christian – and actually being shown the Christian way to interpret the bible – I ceased to identify as one. It was a defence mechanism. Easier to just state your non-belief at the outset – no point in debating these issues – they don’t see you as Christian anyway. Ironically most evangelicals don’t want to engage non-believers.

    Ironically, I find it easiest and most freeing to engage with non-believers, since their doubt is refreshingly honest (as opposed to contrived signs of belief), and they don’t have all the years of being trained to look at God through an abysmal lens. I find it strange that non-believers often have an easier time believing in the goodness of God than do many Christians.

  267. Lea wrote:

    heaping teaspoon or a scant one

    I’m from the Midwest, born and raised. And we did heaping/scant in my family. None of them from the South.

  268. For Burwell, in 2012, NOBTS president Chuck Kelley along with SWBTS president Paige Patterson signed a statement in favor of “traditional Southern Baptist” soteriology rather than in favor of Calvinism. An article about it is titled “The FAQS: Southern Baptists, Calvinism, and God’s Plan of Salvation” by Joe Carter on June 5, 2012. I don’t know how to provide the link on my iPad. I can’t seem to find anything that indicates Chuck has changed his mind. Instead of listing New Orleans as a Calvinist seminary, I am surprised that Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary wasn’t listed instead.

  269. Ishy, I avoid women’s retreats myself for the reasons you listed, plus one more. Like books geared toward Christian women, ministries, even a majority of Bible studies, they tend to be dominated by the most girly, ultrafeminine types. I’m kind of outside the norm in that regard, and when that is subtly held up as the female way to follow Christ, it’s one of the things tempting me to leave protestantism.

  270. Max wrote:

    The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    C.S. Lewis was certainly not a Calvinist!

    Most New Calvinists claim Lewis as one of their own. Piper, a little more elusive on this, says that Lewis ‘might’ have been a Calvinist. However, a thorough look at the whole of Lewis’ works indicates that he falls squarely and soundly within an Arminian theological framework.

    But for the final word on his exact theological leaning, we should accept the analysis of Doug Wilson, eminent theologian, as fact (tongue in cheek): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOe4-IpwJX4

    NOT! Good Lord, there are so many goober celebrities in New Calvinism!

    There’s an interesting talk between John Piper and Tim Keller on the subject, “Would they be friends with C.S. Lewis?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b5lXt9rqIQ

    (The relevant part of the discussion starts at 3:00)

    I would say C.S. Lewis was neither Arminian, nor Calvinist, but Merely Christian. One of the biggest influences Calvinism has had is to split the entire Christian world into the dichotomy of Arminian or Calvinist, both of which are essentially the same doctrine but only really disagree on predestination. There is a far richer picture of atonement than either of these two doctrines, taught by the early church fathers,and is found in the New Testament quite in contrast to Calvinism and its offshoot Arminianism.

    However, Piper and Keller’s doubt about George MacDonald calls into direct question Lewis’s salvation, since MacDonald seems to have influenced everything Lewis ever wrote. But the Calvinists will do the same to Lewis as they do to the Bible: Take a few things out of context, wrap so much sophistry around them as to be unrecognizable, and then lambast anyone who falls into the unfortunate position of disagreeing.

  271. Try this for an example of withholding information. Woman X is doing something apparently in ignorance of some information which might have changed her actions, had she known. Her ‘friends’ say nothing. The whole thing falls apart and friends come out of the woodwork saying ‘well I could have told her so..’ and ‘I did not want to say, but..’ and ‘well, she asked me but I did not think it was my place…’.

    Arrrgh. Un huh, but now you can’t wait to tell everybody how you knew all along. I am not interested in hearing how you knew and did nothing. And I am not interested in seeing how sweet you are when you do this to somebody.

  272. @ okrapod:
    and yet the South has produced authors the likes of Flannery O’Connor …. in her gift of writing subtlety and honesty come together like a giant tsunami … then there’s Eudora Welty …. then there’s my great uncle, McGilbray Ausbon, a wounded private in the Confederate Army 17th NC Troops. They called him ‘Gib’ and we have copies of his letter written from the battlefield that is heart-breaking in its gentle humility as he asks if the family can make him a ‘suit of clothes’ from a woolen blanket …. I have read many historical letters in my time, and maybe it’s because Gib was of my blood, but his letter speaks of another generation, another way of ‘being’, where humility and grace were not excluded in the name of ‘being honest’.

    I love the Southern writers, I grew up on Faulkner and Twain. It was never a mystery to me that there was a certain ‘grace’ in a world where the contrasts were so grim: that the old ‘Aunt Lulie’ my Grandmother mentioned was once a family slave who stayed by the family after the War (known in euphemism as ‘the late unpleasantness’) and was cared for in her last days …..

    ‘Christ-haunted’ is Flannery’s term for the South in which half my family (maternal) is deeply rooted, and I have feelings for the little town of my ancestors where I have never lived, only visited …. feelings that I cannot explain except only that they are real to me. Genetic memory? I wonder ….

  273. Nancy2 wrote:

    Lea wrote:

    I said something about a heaping teaspoon or a scant one and she accused me of being southern about it because of that. Because I guess I should have been more precise. Ha.

    I’m a Southern Kentucky female, but I’m an analytical/logical/mathematical person. Give me exact measurements, please ……. down to 1/32 of a teaspoon!
    But, there are some things …… Beef stew, for example ….. No measurements, add potatoes and carrots until it “looks right”, add seasonings until it “smells right”. I’ve recently started writing stuff down so I can hopefully get what “right” is, in exact measurements. I will “Doctor” recipes, too.

    I need to make beef stew again. I usually prep my beef chunks with a flour mixture I don’t even bother to measure, sear them, deglaze the pan with some cabernet sauvignon, and put everything in the crockpot for 8 hours or so. I need to hurry up and make my beef stock, though.

  274. NJ wrote:

    Like books geared toward Christian women, ministries, even a majority of Bible studies, they tend to be dominated by the most girly, ultrafeminine types. I’m kind of outside the norm in that regard, and when that is subtly held up as the female way to follow Christ,

    But those women don’t follow Christ! Their ultimate trust and faith rests in the men who tell them what to do and how to behave!

  275. Nancy2 wrote:

    But, there are some things …… Beef stew, for example ….. No measurements, add potatoes and carrots until it “looks right”, add seasonings until it “smells right”. I’ve recently started writing stuff down so I can hopefully get what “right” is, in exact measurements. I will “Doctor” recipes, too.

    that’s me …. is also like my French-Canadienne Memere (grandmother) ….. it’s from the old ways, you know 🙂

  276. NJ wrote:

    I usually prep my beef chunks with a flour mixture I don’t even bother to measure, sear them, deglaze the pan

    Me, too. The amount of beef and how much/whether or not it shrinks when I sear it kinda dictates how much of everything else goes in the pot!

  277. ADDITION to the “How to Avoid Churches” list.

    Take a look at “Pastor’s” library. If he has the following books prominently displayed next to his ESV Study Bible, RUN!

    “Institutes of the Christian Religion” (John Calvin)
    “Systematic Theology” (Wayne Grudem)
    “Desiring God” (John Piper)
    “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” (Mark Dever)
    “Real Marriage” (Mark Driscoll)

    There are, of course, many others (New Calvinists are prolific writers) … but these are red flags.

  278. NJ wrote:

    I usually prep my beef chunks with a flour mixture I don’t even bother to measure, sear them, deglaze the pan with some cabernet sauvignon, and put everything in the crockpot for 8 hours or so. I need to hurry up and make my beef stock, though.

    I was taught this way of treating beef by my mother-in-law (German heritage) with an iron Dutch oven, oil, flouring the beef, salting and peppering it, and SEARING the heck out of it before lowering the heat, adding a little water, and covering it so that it cooked at simmer for hours, then adding onions, carrots, potatoes, and love. Best roast beef from cheaper cuts ever eaten! She also taught me how to cook ‘roladen’ (beef and bacon roll-ups, mustard on the meat) and serve it with red cabbage …. my husband loves this!

    I like your idea of de-glazing with the Cabernet though. Sign of someone who knows food. 🙂

  279. Max wrote:

    ADDITION to the “How to Avoid Churches” list.

    Take a look at “Pastor’s” library. If he has the following books prominently displayed next to his ESV Study Bible, RUN!

    “Institutes of the Christian Religion” (John Calvin)
    “Systematic Theology” (Wayne Grudem)
    “Desiring God” (John Piper)
    “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” (Mark Dever)
    “Real Marriage” (Mark Driscoll)

    There are, of course, many others (New Calvinists are prolific writers) … but these are red flags.

    Carl Trueman probably has the first one in his library, and he’s no calvinista. I would include anything by Bruce Ware, or CBMW.

  280. @ ishy:

    “God does clearly place love, truth, and humility as very important to Him, and I rarely see these preached. If they really placed such a high value on the doctrine of the Bible, they’d make these important, too.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    agreed… but there’s only so much you can do with those, sermon-wise. in fact, i think the scope of their jobs would greatly diminish (as it should). but careers with an optimal ratio of rewarding-enjoyable-convenient, chunky salaries, and industry preservation are a driving force.

    but this is old news.

  281. @ Christiane:

    Enjoy. I do live in the world of literature. I live in the world of when you ask somebody where it hurts, ‘all over’ is not the best answer. But the authors who wrote about tragically dysfunctional southern families may be correct. When the circumstances are bad then people do tend to get dysfunctional.

    That said, there is a whole lot less of ‘southern speech’ now than when we moved here 40+ years ago. My Ex used to say that we had moved here just in time to experience the tail end of some vanishing cultural practices. Decades later I see the evidence of that.

  282. @ Christiane:

    I usually put beef broth or stock in the pot, along with a little bit more wine–also never measured. I have learned to put the potatos in during the last hour; maybe I should try the same thing with the other vegetables.

    My husband and I have found it tastes best with a glass of good red wine, especially on rainy evenings.

  283. Mara wrote:

    Lea wrote:

    heaping teaspoon or a scant one

    I’m from the Midwest, born and raised. And we did heaping/scant in my family. None of them from the South.

    I think her point was mostly ‘why wasn’t this specific in the direction’.

  284. Nancy2 wrote:

    NJ wrote:

    Like books geared toward Christian women, ministries, even a majority of Bible studies, they tend to be dominated by the most girly, ultrafeminine types. I’m kind of outside the norm in that regard, and when that is subtly held up as the female way to follow Christ,

    But those women don’t follow Christ! Their ultimate trust and faith rests in the men who tell them what to do and how to behave!

    That could probably also be said of the YRR fanboys. In any case, I hope that’s not true in the absolute sense, and their eyes are opened.

  285. @ ishy:

    I probably don’t, but I’m reporting on my experiences as a young man. And yes, as a former atheist I say some of those gospel-centered church ladies-in-training I’ve encountered are some of the meanest and most pompous people I’ve met in my life. And those churches are full of idiot guys who are just so glad that they’re safe from the “feminists”.

  286. NJ wrote:

    Max wrote:

    ADDITION to the “How to Avoid Churches” list.

    Take a look at “Pastor’s” library. If he has the following books prominently displayed next to his ESV Study Bible, RUN!

    “Institutes of the Christian Religion” (John Calvin)
    “Systematic Theology” (Wayne Grudem)
    “Desiring God” (John Piper)
    “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” (Mark Dever)
    “Real Marriage” (Mark Driscoll)

    There are, of course, many others (New Calvinists are prolific writers) … but these are red flags.

    Carl Trueman probably has the first one in his library, and he’s no calvinista. I would include anything by Bruce Ware, or CBMW.

    I agree.

  287. @ Mara:

    I spent 14 years living in Hawai’i, if women were required to wear a dress or skirt to attend any of the churches my wife and I went to at the time, there would be very few women there. Shorts, t-shirts and sandals were common.

  288. okrapod wrote:

    That said, there is a whole lot less of ‘southern speech’ now than when we moved here 40+ years ago

    I hope that the two of you don’t mind me ‘muscling in’ a semi-private conversation, but Okrapod, which part of the South do you live in?

    The references to literature, especially Flannery O’Connor, caught my attention. My degree is in English Lit, and had I completed my masters in English, the concentration would have been in Southern Lit; specifically Walker Percy.

  289. @ NJ:
    try some crusty French bread with it 🙂
    nice green salad with a light dressing

    yes … a dessert (my family always liked the simple ones: rice puddings, bread puddings, tapioca puddings, and they were even satisfied with cinnamon toast when there was nothing but bread, butter, sugar

    today it’s apple pie with the good hot beef and vegetables …. we call these meat and potato hot dishes ‘winter’s real food’

  290. @ Preacher’s Wife:

    “but we do expect Christians (including ourselves) to act like Christians instead of the rest of the world.”
    ++++++++++++

    what you describe sounds terrible. I’m very sorry for how you have been treated. as i see it, the irony is that the rest of the world for the most part is actually very kind & gracious with a modus operandi of common sense.

  291. Christiane wrote:

    @ NJ:
    try some crusty French bread with it
    nice green salad with a light dressing

    yes … a dessert (my family always liked the simple ones: rice puddings, bread puddings, tapioca puddings, and they were even satisfied with cinnamon toast when there was nothing but bread, butter, sugar

    today it’s apple pie with the good hot beef and vegetables …. we call these meat and potato hot dishes ‘winter’s real food’

    French bread is always good. Ditto for rolls and monkeybread.

    Either apple pie, my upside down pear pie, or cobbler. 🙂

  292. @ Burwell:
    please join in …. Walker Percy is an interesting choice

    somehow, our use of ‘language’ conversation turned into literature and cooking and everyone has something to contribute, I imagine 🙂

  293. Burwell wrote:

    I hope that the two of you don’t mind me ‘muscling in’ a semi-private conversation, but Okrapod, which part of the South do you live in?

    I was born and raised in what is now MetroLouisville, but back then we were ‘out in the county’ is a little farming community. My mother was from east Texas and I am sure that is an influence. I was in my mid thirties when we moved to a small town in a rural county in eastern North Carolina, and we were there for a little less than twenty years. When I was i my mid fifties I moved to a city in the northwest piedmont of NC. I love it here, but it is not home. Home is long gone-may I say gone with the wind. As for man his days are as grass. As a flower of the field so he flourishes; the wind passes over it and it is gone and the place thereof shall remember it no more. So I just say ‘south’ which is as close to some precision as I can get.

  294. Max wrote:

    “Institutes of the Christian Religion” (John Calvin)
    “Systematic Theology” (Wayne Grudem)
    “Desiring God” (John Piper)
    “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” (Mark Dever)
    “Real Marriage” (Mark Driscoll)

    There are, of course, many others (New Calvinists are prolific writers) … but these are red flags.

    If I may add my bugaboo,
    “Humility: True Greatness” C. J. Mahaney
    I’ve seen it on the resource page for a number of church websites. I cannot get over the irony of that tile connected with the author.

  295. NJ wrote:

    my upside down pear pie

    we have a large pear tree (Bartlett, I think) and I poach pears in summertime for desserts …. so easy and so very good …. My Pop once gave us a ‘device’ on a long pole that is able to ‘cup’ the pears on the highest branches and pull them off but I always leave some for the birds to eat, and we share the abundance with our neighbors also

  296. Christiane wrote:

    Walker Percy is an interesting choice

    Interesting is an interesting choice of descriptors for the good doctor…have you read much of his works? I have read all his fiction and some of his essays.

  297. @ okrapod:

    We have traveled in overlapping, though not concurrent, geographic circles. I was born in Raleigh, lived in Louisville until kindergarten, and then returned to Raleigh. While I live in a county north of Wake now, I work in an eastern county – Wilson, which is where both my parents are from. As far as NW Piedmont cities are concerned, Winston Salem is my favorite.

  298. dee wrote:

    Those guys miff me off. They make my life harder in order to keep up with them.

    Get to the chopper!!

  299. @ The Man who Wasn’t Thursday:

    “Ironically, I find it easiest and most freeing to engage with non-believers, since their doubt is refreshingly honest (as opposed to contrived signs of belief), and they don’t have all the years of being trained to look at God through an abysmal lens. I find it strange that non-believers often have an easier time believing in the goodness of God than do many Christians.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    while many things shape human thinking, there’s nothing like ‘church’ — it can do crazy things to one’s brain. influential people wielding the concept of God in an environment of trust and surrender. ooooh, i got a shiver and prickling skin from typing that!

  300. @ Max:
    How about avoiding places that give the following advice?

    http://ftc.co/resource-library/1/2529

    To quote from the body of the text:-

    Here are 6 practical ways you can do this:

    1. Discuss your decisions with your community group for wise counsel and insight.
    2. Discuss your decisions with your pastors for godly counsel and wisdom.
    3. Consider how it affects the relationships of those you are sharing the gospel with.
    4. Consider how it affects those whom you know and who know you deeply through confession of sin. Will your decision drastically change these relationships?
    5. Consider how your decision will affect the church financially.
    6. Consider whether the ministry you are involved in will be able to flourish or if it will wilt through your decision.

  301. Max wrote:

    The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    C.S. Lewis was certainly not a Calvinist!

    Most New Calvinists claim Lewis as one of their own. Piper, a little more elusive on this, says that Lewis ‘might’ have been a Calvinist. However, a thorough look at the whole of Lewis’ works indicates that he falls squarely and soundly within an Arminian theological framework.

    But for the final word on his exact theological leaning, we should accept the analysis of Doug Wilson, eminent theologian, as fact (tongue in cheek): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOe4-IpwJX4

    NOT! Good Lord, there are so many goober celebrities in New Calvinism!

    good grief! Neo-Cals claiming CS Lewis as a Calvinist???? He, of the group that included Tolkien, the author of the very catholic ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy????

    I don’t see how neo-Cals, with their ‘eternally submissive Jesus as model to women’ relating to the awesomely powerful Aslan of Narnia fame, for whom many a Christian person is thrilled when the great lion comes back to life in Lewis’s beloved novel….

    no way: the neo-Cals have chosen their path and they wouldn’t want Aslan as a ‘Christ-figure’ in their male-idolatry cult, no. They have made up their own ‘Jesus’, and their creation does not resemble the Lord of Life, no. Even the author Lewis does a better job of presenting a Christ-figure, as he enables people to ‘sneak passed those watchful dragons’. Poor neo-Cals, they can’t have their ESS and their Aslan, too.

    Lewis? a catholic Anglican, if anything …. and his Aslan? Call Aslan a Calvinist and you can close your eyes and imagine the great lion roaring his displeasure …. silly neo-Cals 🙂

  302. @ Lowlandseer:

    #s 1 and 2 are good for counsel but only for counsel. Nothing said to or by the community group or pastor is in any way binding.

    #s 3 and 4 are beyond the control of mortal beings and show a profound ignorance and lack of faith in the divine.

    #5 is irrelevant and if #6 is a factor, then said ministry was built on a cult of personality and should fail.

    Here is a valid question: suppose one is a wealthy business person, is a vibrant witness in the community to the lost, active in the church and a pillar of giving. Now suppose that one has wrestled with a call to international missions to a closed (i.e., Muslim) country which would require giving up everything here in the United States. How will the church counsel that individual based on the six criteria written in the blog post.

  303. @ Lowlandseer:
    I’m beginning to realize just how ‘enmeshed’ some of these congregations are. I knew there was a community of faith with evangelical congregations, but what is being described sounds ….. not healthy. ‘Enmeshed’ means that proper boundaries have not been observed and people are too much in each other’s business …. it does no good in a real family for boundaries to be ‘enmeshed’ and it is a DISASTER, apparently, when this takes place in a church community. Where’s the respect for persons? for their privacy? for their dignity?

    This seems to be a big part of what’s wrong, I think.

  304. Christiane wrote:
    no way: the neo-Cals have chosen their path and they wouldn’t want Aslan as a ‘Christ-figure’ in their male-idolatry cult, no. They have made up their own ‘Jesus’, and their creation does not resemble the Lord of Life, no.

    +1000, Christiane!

    Neo-Cals seem to believe in a good, tame, safe, predictable Jesus who makes them feel secure and spiritually superior, and who would never ever ask them to consider whether or not they could be wrong in their assumptions.

    The real Jesus will leap from the pages of the four Gospels, offering you His own body and blood, whilst He throws a glass of ice water in your face to wake you up and challenge you to question everything you’ve ever thought about anything.

  305. NJ wrote:

    Carl Trueman probably has the first one in his library, and he’s no calvinista.

    Just as a lot of seminary-trained non-Calvinists have Grudem’s Systematic Theology. It’s the whole of his library that paints a pastor’s theological portrait. Additionally, if pastor drops more Piper Points in his sermons than words of Christ, you’re in real trouble.

  306. @ Jenny:

    Jesus is real and alive and present in His Kingdom and with His people, but He’s not dancing to the tune of our doctrines du jour. He won’t conform to a religious system of thought control. He won’t be put in a theological box.

  307. @ okrapod:
    I wonder if some of that ‘Southern speech’ was ‘code’ during the time just after the Civil War. I do know that my mother’s aunts spoke ‘differently’ with sometimes poetic and archaic phrases but each generation does seem to have its own unique voice, I guess.

  308. @ Christiane:

    Another word that comes to mind is “ingratiate”, as in, I wonder who Joshua Hedger (author of the blog post) is trying to ingratiate himself to with a list like the one he proposes. Due to the profoundly carnal thinking contained within it, the intended target is apparently not Jesus; therefore, the it seems the post was written to please his superiors – the ones who have the ability to increase certain pastor’s standings and audiences within the Neo Cal movement.

  309. Burwell wrote:

    the intended target is apparently not Jesus; therefore, the it seems the post was written to please his superiors – the ones who have the ability to increase certain pastor’s standings and audiences within the Neo Cal movement.

    yes, they certainly don’t need Christ for this kind of worldly busine$$

  310. Burwell wrote:

    @ Christiane:

    Another word that comes to mind is “ingratiate”, as in, I wonder who Joshua Hedger (author of the blog post) is trying to ingratiate himself to with a list like the one he proposes.

    Another is “brown-noser”.
    And/or “flatterer”.

    Another Tabaqui the Jackal, flattering Shere Khan for some scraps from the tiger’s kill.

    Or the Roman Senate in that old movie Fall of the Roman Empire, stumbling over each other to rename another month of the year after Caesar Commodus, and renaming the Roman Empire “The Empire of Caesar Commodus”.

  311. Christiane wrote:

    I wonder if some of that ‘Southern speech’ was ‘code’ during the time just after the Civil War.

    I’m old but not that old.

  312. Christiane wrote:

    good grief! Neo-Cals claiming CS Lewis as a Calvinist???? He, of the group that included Tolkien, the author of the very catholic ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy????

    According to Transactional Analysis/Seventies Pop Psychology, it’s the Game “All Great Men Were”.
    (The type example of the time was gay activists claiming every Great Manin history as really being gay.)

    no way: the neo-Cals have chosen their path and they wouldn’t want Aslan as a ‘Christ-figure’ in their male-idolatry cult, no.

    They want Aslan declawed and castrated, purring on their lap and agreeing completely with their Perfect Correct Theology, a Cosmic Lion who will obediently maul all their enemies real and imagined.

  313. Stan wrote:

    And yes, as a former atheist I say some of those gospel-centered church ladies-in-training I’ve encountered are some of the meanest and most pompous people I’ve met in my life.

    What do you think inspired Dana Carvey to do “Church Lady”?
    She was based on actual Church Ladies he’d encountered while growing up.

  314. okrapod wrote:

    They may be thinking that if her husband dies in his wicked ways, then his blood will be required at her hands, and since they think that they are responsible for her then by extension his blood would be required at their hands because they could not make her do right. Check reference in Ezekiel.

    AKA “If You Don’t, GOD WILL PUNISH YOU!”

    Kind of like the Polish KZ doctor in Leon Uris’ QB VII, telling the Jews he’s castrating en masse “If I don’t take yours, the SS will have mine.”

    Been there, done that, still got the scars.

  315. @ The Man who Wasn’t Thursday:
    In rereading my statement, I should say “that church” not “evangelicals”. People here, including many evangelicals, have been very engaging.

    So I retract my last statement and issue an apology

    However, it does highlight the strong emotions that religion can engender, even for those of us who think we’ve left it behind.

    Aside from the abuse, I perceive that a lot of those who are in or have left authoritarian churches are angry at being judged as a non-believer when their faith is very much alive. They know it’s wrong but the programming and group think messes with the psyche

    Who decides what is Christian? I think that is between God and the individual.

    As always, lots to reflect on.

  316. siteseer wrote:

    This is sort of a funny aside, but one time my husband and I visited a fundamentalist church and in their statement of faith, on the subject of heaven, they emphatically stated that it is “located due north” in a specific location.

    Dake’s Annotated Bible.
    Heaven is a physical planet located in a specific location in the northern sky, kind of like the Mormon Kolob.

  317. dee wrote:

    Stan wrote:

    +1 on college and young adults churches with YRRism. For my small group, there was an expectation that we send nightly texts reporting if we uh, did that thing that guys do that day. It’s the ones who have clearly not achieved their aspirations in career or marital status that you have to look out for.

    My jaw hit the table. Why did they feel you needed to report on that versus being rude, etc.?

    Because it’s JUICY! JUICY! JUICY!
    Yet another peek into the sexual kinks of The Predestined Elect.

  318. AnonInNC wrote:

    Darlene wrote:

    ^ *want to KNOW all about your personal business*

    My old church was definitely like this. And both elders and general congregants would press you if they thought you weren’t telling them all the details when they asked you.

    Especially the JUICY! details. (nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean know what I mean…)

  319. Max wrote:

    These aren’t your usual run of the mill youth pastors – they are in place to indoctrinate young minds with reformed theology. The New Calvinists know that if they can convert enough folks to their belief and practice, they can move a significant portion of the next generation church into Calvinist belief and practice.

    “Give me your children for five years and I will make them Mine. You will pass away, but they will remain Mine.”
    — Adolf Hitler, cult leader

  320. I’ve only been to two women’s retreats in my entire life… both within the last year. I am a middle-aged single girl (twice divorced, no kids) and needless to say, I do NOT want to hear anything about how to be a wife and mother. When some of the women at my church announced they were going to the retreat at Mount Hermon (California) I wasn’t interested because I assumed it would be all about wife and mother stuff. But then on a hunch I called Mount Hermon and asked what the speakers’ topics were going to be. Not a wife or mother topic to be found. So I went, and was glad I did. One of the optional-session speakers was a Mount Hermon staff member about my age whose husband had cheated and left her to raise their son alone, which she had done. So she’s a mother, but not a wife, and they let her speak. ::grin:: Another speaker (marital status not known) gave a great talk on the history of Israel’s kings, both northern and southern kingdoms, complete with a chart showing who ruled when and which prophets were active during their reigns. Not a wife or mother in sight.

    The main speaker that weekend was Carol Kent, and a major focus in her talks was finding your new normal after your life gets turned upside down. It included all those hard questions like “I’m a good Christian girl, why did this happen to me?” (For those not familiar with her story, look for her book “When I lay my Isaac down” and others.) She is a wife and a mother, but her only son is in prison, and she is the breadwinner, writing and speaking. Her husband (retired) runs the book table and cheers her on.

    And nobody ever looked down their nose at me for being divorced and childless, not to mention chubby, with messy hair and sans makeup, wearing sneakers and jeans and a Moody Blues tour hat. In fact, when she heard the bare bones of my story, the divorced staff member gave me a hug and said, “I’m sorry that happened to you.”

    So not all women’s retreats are like the ones that have made other commenters shudder and swear never to go back…. If you happen to live on the west coast and you haven’t been to Mount Hermon, check it out. And you can always call ahead of registering and ask what the scheduled speakers are going to talk about.

  321. Burwell wrote:

    @ The Man who Wasn’t Thursday:

    Where in the South did you go to college?

    I’d rather not answer too specifically, in the interest of anonymity, but let’s just say that that part of the SEC is heavily influenced by David Platt.

    From what some of my friends at other colleges have told me, their campuses throughout that zone have similar churches to the one I spoke of.

  322. Christiane wrote:

    no way: the neo-Cals have chosen their path and they wouldn’t want Aslan as a ‘Christ-figure’ in their male-idolatry cult, no. They have made up their own ‘Jesus’, and their creation does not resemble the Lord of Life, no. Even the author Lewis does a better job of presenting a Christ-figure, as he enables people to ‘sneak passed those watchful dragons’. Poor neo-Cals, they can’t have their ESS and their Aslan, too.

    This whole scenario bears striking resemblance to the situation in “The Last Battle,” where Shift the Ape forces Puzzle the Donkey to wear a rotten lion skin. The Ape then claims to be the mouthpiece of Aslan, and has anyone who disagrees with him killed. The Ape lives in grand luxury at the expense of the people he deceives. Not to mention, when the Narnians ask to see Aslan for themselves, the Ape only allows them to see the disguised donkey at night, under cover of sophistry. If anyone questions his authority, he berates them and tells them that no true People of Aslan would dare question him, and Aslan will come devour them or something like that because of his ‘just condemnation.’

    Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

  323. okrapod wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    I wonder if some of that ‘Southern speech’ was ‘code’ during the time just after the Civil War.

    I’m old but not that old.

    LOL, no you’re not.
    I was speaking of the cultural speech pattern

  324. Max wrote:

    f pastor drops more Piper Points in his sermons than words of Christ, you’re in real trouble.

    How about Piper, Platt, and Dever ……. all in one sermon? (this is a guest preacher who visits a lot and and has preached in our church often, while the committee searches for a new pastor.)
    That’s when I knew behind a shadow of a doubt, it was time to take a break ……. a very extended one!

  325. @ StillWiggling:
    I have only been to one retreat, and I loved it. It was mixed gender, for the staff of a Christian school where I taught. We had several speakers, but the main one was our high school Bible teacher …… a wife of a missionary ….. a mother of four. She taught Bible to 9-12 grade mixed gender classes. BTW, our headmaster was a woman, too!

  326. @ okrapod:
    We don’t know what we are here. So we can be Midwest? South, when convenient?

    We used to be Virginia. :o)

    I do know the mass movement of Yankees to the Sunbelt in the 80’s changed a lot of things.

  327. Lea wrote:

    Second, I think Dee/Deb or someone need to do a post about ‘accountability’ groups because this is fascinating me lately.

    On July 10 I posted a short paper on accountability on the Open Discussion Page. I wrote it a couple of years ago for my sons who were facing very stiff pressure to be in accountability groups. Here is the link: http://thewartburgwatch.com/open-discussion-page/comment-page-9/#comment-266978. Right below that comment is the appendix on the pitfalls of accountability. These might be helpful, but they don’t go into as much depth as I think you might be looking for. I could not find any solid evidence of where these groups started, other than the weight loss industry.

  328. Nancy2 wrote:

    How about Piper, Platt, and Dever ……. all in one sermon?

    Wow! That preacher has a bad case of New Calvinism! Don’t let it get on you!

  329. Ken F wrote:

    I could not find any solid evidence of where these groups started

    Well, the Promise Keepers movement certainly put accountability groups on the map in the American church. My brief exposure to them indicated that they were populated predominantly with carnal “Christian” men who met weekly to confess their sins to each other, then went right back out to live like Hell before returning the next week slinging snot and “repenting” again! They didn’t seem to ever get victory over personal sin. The old way seemed to work much better … a godly sorrow that worketh genuine repentance and forgiveness between you and Jesus; then get up off your knees and live like a Christian in the power of the Holy Spirit.

  330. Max wrote:

    Well, the Promise Keepers movement certainly put accountability groups on the map in the American church.

    Yes, they did push it hard, and I was caught up in that when I was much younger. It was a few years after that experience that I first did an exhaustive search in the Bible for any words related to accountability among believers. Nothing in the Bible supports it. I was not able to find which Christian group first started focusing on it. I think Christians brought it over from the weight loss industry, but that’s the best guess I can make right now.

  331. @ Christiane:
    Flannery was a Catholic in the South. An outsider for that reason and for others (e.g. her chronic ill heath). She looked at the South askew. But, yes, she was a Southerner. Did she express herself in simple direct speech? No, she told stories. Btw the Appalachian South is very different from the deep South. Politeness there is staying out of other’s business but one can be direct if needed.

  332. Ken F wrote:

    Yes, they did push it hard, and I was caught up in that when I was much younger.

    The Promise Keepers accountability group director in my community since holding that position years ago has been divorced, remarried, divorced again and is now living unmarried with a woman. He obviously didn’t keep his promises!

  333. Burwell wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Heaven is a physical planet located in a specific location in the northern sky

    Nibiru?

    Considering the sheer psychotic WEIRDNESS of some of Dake’s commentary, I would NOT be surprised.

  334. Max wrote:

    The Promise Keepers accountability group director in my community since holding that position years ago has been divorced, remarried, divorced again and is now living unmarried with a woman. He obviously didn’t keep his promises!

    But he’s one of the Spiritual Inner Party, and Can Do No Wrong.

  335. Max wrote:

    Humility … Mahaney

    Paradox.

    Turn it around and it is a non-sequiter (literary device)

    Mahaney … Humility

    A non sequitur (English pronunciation: /ˌnɒnˈsɛkwᵻtər/; Classical Latin: [noːn ˈsɛkᶣɪtʊr] “it does not follow”) is a conversational and literary device, often used for comedic purposes. It is something said that, because of its apparent lack of meaning relative to what preceded it…

  336. @ Dew:
    Thank you. I am very familiar with her biography. She found it very interesting that people would read her stories and miss the ‘horror’ she really was attempting to portray, seemingly finding it in the obvious where she had in fact hidden it within the shadows of her stories ….. I like how her ego was detached enough from her writing so that she could be interested in how people reacted to it.
    Yeah, she was most certainly a devout Catholic. And that contributes some layers to the depth of her writing, yes. For those who don’t know her writing, here’s a short story sample of some of her famous Southern Gothic:
    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/goodman.html

  337. Muff Potter wrote:

    The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

    “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”
    — Oscar Wilde —

    you honestly cannot make this stuff up

  338. Christiane wrote:

    A note about speech ….. when I was teaching, we were three of us on a team and our youngest was a recently-divorced young woman with a baby whose husband had left her for another woman during her pregnancy. Apparently, it was during that pregnancy when she was working with us that she had a conversation with a vice-principal, a wonderful man whom we all respected for his goodness to everyone. He was attempting to comfort her in her distress of learning that her husband was with another woman by sharing with her his own personal story of losing his wife to a man she worked with and suffering through the emotions of a divorce.
    The young teacher proceeded to tell us in meeting what this principal had shared about his own tragedy and we both (being older and older) stopped her, telling her: that’s ‘sacred’ information
    what we meant is that although she was telling the truth and plainly so, we explained that it was told to her in great confidence by the principal who was trying to comfort her by sharing his own experience of suffering and emotional survival. When we finished ‘explaining’ why she should not speak of what her told her, she understood.
    The point: we have to understand the impact of our words, even if we speak the ‘truth’, that there will be those times when ‘the truth’ is best not spoken if it preserves the dignity of an innocent person who has shared that truth in trying to bring comfort to another ….
    our young colleague was an open honest girl, but she was too young to know that, once spoken, words take on a power of their own and cannot be called back

    And as we hear in the Divine Liturgy: Wisdom, let us attend! Thank you, Christiane for this nugget of discernment and truth. I will now forever remember “sacred information” and think twice before sharing other people’s stories.

  339. Mara wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    Get your life straight before you set foot in the door?
    Reminds me of a situation a friend told me about.
    She was visiting a new boyfriend’s church. And above the door of the sanctuary it told women that if they were not wearing a dress or a skirt then they were not allowed to enter.
    She concluded her story with, “Whatever happened to ‘God bless you’?”

    Even if I were wearing a dress or skirt, I would have walked out the door. Since when is the church supposed to be the judge of how visitors dress? Are they the fashion police?

  340. @ Bridget:
    If one has to choose, I would prefer up front rude. The knife in the back usually comes with lots of public syrupy love bombing masking the knife.

    Lots of people think direct is rude or politically incorrect and label from there. It is the new normal.

  341. Any church that has an ACBC “certified” counselor on board or use them is a RED LIGHT, NO-GO AREA. You might just as well go and ask Satan for help.

  342. Speaking of Russell Moore (I believe he was mentioned upstream), there is a post over at SBC Voices pertaining to the backlash Mr. Moore is getting from the Christian community about his statements during the U.S. Presidential campaign. As President of SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Moore has not represented the majority view of Southern Baptists on various issues. SBC Voices, a platform for SBC’s young, restless and reformed defends Moore:

    “Dr. Moore speaks with a prophetic voice to our faith community about how to live for Christ and his kingdom in our culture … He’s a leader raised up by God to help guide us in this new day.”

    A prophet raised up by God for such a time as this?! Thus, another what-to-look-for in New Calvinist churches: Idolatry of Christian celebrities! The institutional church has not seen so much idolizing of men and message since Calvin himself walked the earth!

  343. Mara wrote:

    She was visiting a new boyfriend’s church. And above the door of the sanctuary it told women that if they were not wearing a dress or a skirt then they were not allowed to enter.

    The new boyfriend is probably not a good idea either.

  344. @ Max:

    Moore seems to be having a bad day. He told people to practice patriarchy, and then we hear him lamenting that even those who claim to be doing that, in fact, are not. Then he tried to tell people how to vote, and we see how that played out. The poor man can’t win for losing it seems.

  345. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    it was considered ok, and even loving, to offend people. And that, too, mimics the truth; sometimes the truth hurts, but still needs to be heard. But this particular brand of “boldness” tends to see offense itself as the evidence for the ‘truth’ of whatever that person might be saying

    Great comment.

    So, in neo-Cal land, if someone is rude, obnoxious, and offensive, they must be ‘honest’. At least this works in some minds, but fortunately most people STILL are able to recognize the difference between being ‘honest’ and being a jerk.

  346. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    it was considered ok, and even loving, to offend people. And that, too, mimics the truth; sometimes the truth hurts, but still needs to be heard. But this particular brand of “boldness” tends to see offense itself as the evidence for the ‘truth’ of whatever that person might be saying

    Very wise observance.

  347. Max wrote:

    Ken F wrote:
    I could not find any solid evidence of where these groups started
    Well, the Promise Keepers movement certainly put accountability groups on the map in the American church. My brief exposure to them indicated that they were populated predominantly with carnal “Christian” men who met weekly to confess their sins to each other, then went right back out to live like Hell before returning the next week slinging snot and “repenting” again! They didn’t seem to ever get victory over personal sin. The old way seemed to work much better … a godly sorrow that worketh genuine repentance and forgiveness between you and Jesus; then get up off your knees and live like a Christian in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Don’t put all the blame on the men. There were lots of wives who encouraged their husbands to go to PK. For some of us, we could see how lost (I’m not talking spiritually, but more culturally and socially) and lonely our spouses were, and thought that being a part of PK would give them others to encourage and to be encouraged by.

    One case in point: people who leave the military leave community behind. In the military, a family moves often, uprooting and leaving behind friendships and support systems, but they move into a community where they can plug right in. Once outside the military, it can be difficult to find that same sense of belonging, “family”, even. Another iteration on this theme is corporate moves. If you work for a widespread corporation, you tend to go where they send you. In a women’s bible study I joined (it happened to take place next door to our short-term rental in a city we’d just moved to that was far from everything and everyone we knew), there were a number of uprooted women (and by extension, their husbands) who were looking for connection.

    Promise Keepers sounded like a godsend, actually. Who would have guessed what would come of it?

  348. Ken F wrote:

    I think Christians brought it over from the weight loss industry, but that’s the best guess I can make right now.

    I know someone with family caught in the Weigh Down Workshop’s cultic web. Who would think that christian weight loss could lead to a mind-controlling cult?

  349. okrapod wrote:

    @ Max:
    Moore seems to be having a bad day. He told people to practice patriarchy, and then we hear him lamenting that even those who claim to be doing that, in fact, are not. Then he tried to tell people how to vote, and we see how that played out. The poor man can’t win for losing it seems.

    How did he tell them to vote? Just curious.

    (In the back of my head, connected with mention of patriarchy, would be exhorting the womenfolk *not* to vote… but I don’t think that’s what you meant.)

  350. @ Lydia:
    and lots more people agree with Edmund Burke:

    ““Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” (Edmund Burke)

    you see rudeness a lot in the young people from the inner city as a ‘defense’ because they have such low self-esteem and no social skills at coping with the world outside the one they live in where rude and crude pass for a kind of strength ….. the iconic figure of the ‘angry black woman’ was celebrated beautifully by the character ‘Madea’ and we all loved it, but it was entertainment. It was fun.

    But when a group of those poor inner city kids ends up in a court room and disses the judge, there is hell to pay, because their form of ‘strength’ doesn’t translate there at all and they are the worse for their efforts to act ‘big’ in the face of an authority they cannot manipulate, shame, or control by their antics.

    So YES to Madea’s rude and strong persona. It’s funny and joyful and refreshing in a world where most of us dwell in dire frustration with one another and our limitations. But let’s keep ‘rude’ in its proper perspective. The Golden Rule is still the Commandment. There is no ‘Golden Rude’ that has replaced it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PciNHczM6Lc

  351. refugee wrote:

    I know someone with family caught in the Weigh Down Workshop’s cultic web. Who would think that christian weight loss could lead to a mind-controlling cult?

    The lady who headed that was seriously cuckoo. I read the book back in the day and could tell by reading it that she was nuts. But suddenly everyone had a group in it.

    BTW, the summary of her “weight loss” advice: Just eat a little bit, and you’ll feel satisfied. Then God will solve all the rest of your problems.

  352. dee wrote:

    Stan wrote:

    +1 on college and young adults churches with YRRism. For my small group, there was an expectation that we send nightly texts reporting if we uh, did that thing that guys do that day. It’s the ones who have clearly not achieved their aspirations in career or marital status that you have to look out for.

    My jaw hit the table. Why did they feel you needed to report on that versus being rude, etc.? I swear these people are nuts.

    If I were to take a guess, it’s because they’re obsessed with SEX, SEX, & more SEX. In my former cult, members confessed their sins publicly at meetings held specifically for that purpose. Sexual sins were at the top of the list. As a female, the awkwardness I felt during those times made me wish I could plug my ears. That we allowed ourselves to be manipulated in this way is still very troubling to me these many years later.

  353. @ Christiane:
    A lot of people think forthrightness is rude. At the seeker mega any negative truths were rude. Disagreement was rude, too. It was cookie cutterville like so many groups today. I guess we would have to define rude. Many evil people are extremely charming and nice. Like Ted Bundy. :o)

    Meaningless syrupy vague Platitudes that never solve real peoblems seem to be what is acceptable for many today. I hope it is not rude to not like such communication. (Wink)

  354. Lea wrote:

    Mara wrote:
    Max wrote:
    He obviously didn’t keep his promises!
    Well, maybe one.
    http://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2012/05/promise-keepers-hurt-my-marriage.html
    I hadn’t seen that. What a mess! I remember the big dc promise keepers thing, but I guess I had no idea what they were telling them.
    Ken f, I will have to check out your links sometime.

    Reading this, this passage jumped out at me:
    So what did they teach my man back in the 90s that set him backwards in his walk with the Lord? Lots of bad things.

    Here’s what Tony Evens told him:
    “The first thing you do is sit down with your wife and say something like this: `Honey, I’ve made a terrible mistake. I’ve given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim this role.’ Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I’m not suggesting that you ask for your role back. I’m urging you to take it back.” He went on to say, “If you simply ask for it back, your wife is likely to refuse…Unfortunately, there can be no compromise here.”

    Oh, my. I suppose I should be thankful my spouse never went to Promise Keepers (he found all the emotion involved off-putting).

    Which, to be random, brings to mind the accusation of a commenter in one of the Chantry threads that the people’s good sense at TWW is overcome by emotion/emotionalism, or something to that effect.

  355. Lydia wrote:

    A lot of people think forthrightness is rude.

    http://bit.ly/1tT7V2z at 10.00 minutes and following. “You don’t have to be nice to be a good leader…” … a good leader maximizes the potential of people. TED Talk, Simon Sinek

  356. @ Lydia:
    Seeing things differently is a great way to build up the Body of Christ. And there is nothing better than sometimes to see a person go into a place where greedy bums take advantage of the poor and literally throw the bums out. And @ Lydia:
    I think what you may value most is having the gumption to stand up for people who are being or have been abused and say what needs to be said. I think you identify with Our Lord throwing the money changers out of His Father’s House (the temple). I think you might identify with the character in “Scent of a Woman”, the blind ex-soldier who stands up for the prep school student who is poor against the ‘system’ and does it ‘forcefully’ but effectively. There is time and place for taking a stand and speaking up and speaking out without the restraints of the normal boundaries of civil language and behavior, yes. And I can respect that if that is something you believe in, as I believe you very much do.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUE4v1rUpSM

  357. @ Lydia:

    I hear you. I really think that inappropriate and excessive platitudinaceounessnes should be in the DSM as a early sign of losing contact with reality.

  358. Lydia wrote:

    I guess we would have to define rude.

    I heard a definition of class/manners/being a ‘gentlemen’ that was you only offend someone when you mean to!

    I think that’s the difficulty here. There is a time to be polite, and tactful, and respect people’s boundaries, and there is a time to be direct in a slightly uncomfortable way and to call them out. Knowing when to do one or the other is part of growing up.

  359. refugee wrote:

    Promise Keepers sounded like a godsend, actually. Who would have guessed what would come of it?

    Do you remember the days when smoking was considered healthy? And when cigarettes had asbestos filters? Things that start out seeming like a good idea at first can later be found harmful. I think this is a bit similar with PK. My wife enthusiastically sent me to one of the conferences in 1994, and I think I went to another one a few years later. At the time, the goal seemed honorable, which is why it attracted so many people (the men who went and the women who supported them). I don’t remember why I eventually lost interest. I think it was after I attended a small men’s conference led by David DeWitt (see http://www.relationalconcepts.org/Home.aspx). I read his book years ago, but had not followed him since. I looked up his ministry just now and it appears to be very patriarchal. But the one thing I took away from that conference was his teaching that accountability does not produce wisdom. I very much needed to hear that. It was what got me diving into the biblical basis for accountability, which eventually resulted in the paper I recently wrote and posted here. That investigation resulted in me questioning a lot of other things that I had been taught as “gospel truth.” I’m still doing that.

    I like something the Not Thursday Man wrote above about the great people who were in his messed up church. All of these movements have some very bad fruit, but not everything they teach is wrong and not everyone involved is evil. Based on where I was at the time, I benefited in some ways from those ministries in my past. But I am also very grateful that I did not get absorbed by them based on where they were headed. I’m wondering if groups like that are analogous to junk food – it is very attractive and has some nutritional value, but you cannot live on it and you are much healthier without it because the good nutrition it does have is overshadowed by the bad.

    I am grateful for having so much opportunity to question everything. It gets me in a lot of trouble with religious people, but it’s helped me to find some nuggets among otherwise unhealthy ministries/theologies that I’ve been exposed to.

    I don’t feel like I can endorse the path I was once on, but I don’t regret the lessons I learned along the way. That path led me to TWW less than a year ago, which has been a tremendous blessing so far.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21 – “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;”

  360. refugee wrote:

    I know someone with family caught in the Weigh Down Workshop’s cultic web. Who would think that christian weight loss could lead to a mind-controlling cult?

    I don’t know where that group got its ideas. I still think Christian(TM) groups such as PK absconded the ideas, probably from the weight loss movement that was becoming popular a few decades ago. Accountability groups are big in the commercial world right now. They make sense in hierarchical systems. Maybe that is why hierarchical ministries/churches are so fond of them. But hierarchy and accountability groups are not authentic Christian concepts.

  361. @ Ken F:
    I can see the cultural connection to weight-loss accountability groups, yes. People were already using this model for years …. Weight Watchers, the weigh-ins, the ‘pig mask’, etc. …. all meant to help people using the dynamics of a ‘group therapy’ approach. But those cultural entities were businesses, profit-making. I see no ‘biblical’ basis for ‘accountability’ groups myself. If anything in Church we are turned ‘outward’, to ‘go and serve’, rather than to be self-obsessed. And it didn’t really matter if who we served was a member of the faith or not, just that they were placed in our path by the Good Lord and they needed our help.

    Encouraging a needy self-obsession seems to foster something that is not part of a mature Christian life, which is meant to be one of service and of giving of self.

  362. Christiane wrote:

    So, in neo-Cal land, if someone is rude, obnoxious, and offensive, they must be ‘honest’. At least this works in some minds

    It actually only works for the “men” in charge! Women best not be upfront at all, likewise any man who is not on the leaders good side.

  363. Lea wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    I guess we would have to define rude.

    I heard a definition of class/manners/being a ‘gentlemen’ that was you only offend someone when you mean to!

    I think that’s the difficulty here. There is a time to be polite, and tactful, and respect people’s boundaries, and there is a time to be direct in a slightly uncomfortable way and to call them out. Knowing when to do one or the other is part of growing up.

    maybe the focus for Christians needs to be more on not being personally offended but having the ability to look at someone who is ‘acting out’ rudely and seeing that they might be in some kind of distress or trouble, and INSTEAD of ‘re-acting’ negatively to their rudeness, try asking them ‘what’s wrong?’ and then be ready to listen

    I’ve done this. On the job. With an irate mother. And it worked for good. Long story. Very sad trouble she was in, too. Her ‘rudeness’ wasn’t her REAL problem at all, her rudeness was just a ‘presenting’ problem because she was needing help but didn’t know where how who what to do ….. yeah, she talked and yes, I listened. Constructive? Absolutely.

  364. okrapod wrote:

    I hear you. I really think that inappropriate and excessive platitudinaceounessnes should be in the DSM as a early sign of losing contact with reality.

    Agreed!

  365. Lea wrote:

    I wouldn’t have thought weight loss, I think the accountability thing feels very AA.

    At the time I was investigating it a couple of years ago all the leads were pointing to weight loss. But I could be wrong. I tried searching again just now and came across this: https://jesus.org.uk/sites/default/files/media/documents/books/others/accountability-discipleship-groups.pdf. John Wesley was doing this in the 18th century. But I don’t get the sense that the current version of accountability among “evangelicals” came directly from the Methodists. It seems more like a rediscovery. The PK site cites a book by The Navigators as their source. I don’t know if that book traces it back to the Methodists. In any case, it’s not biblical.

  366. Ken F wrote:

    In any case, it’s not biblical.

    I should clarify that encouraging one another is biblical (see all the “one another” passages). That might be what the Methodists were attempting. What is not biblical is holding other believers accountable.

  367. Christiane wrote:

    maybe the focus for Christians needs to be more on not being personally offended but having the ability to look at someone who is ‘acting out’ rudely and seeing that they might be in some kind of distress or trouble, and INSTEAD of ‘re-acting’ negatively to their rudeness, try asking them ‘what’s wrong?’ and then be ready to listen

    I don’t think being rude is really the problem with some people. They just say that to get you to stop talking about whatever they are avoiding dealing with.

    Christians should never be afraid of dealing with our problems head-on, but most have learned from the world to be terrified of honesty. It does hurt, but really not for that long. Really, I think many people’s lives would be 1000000000x easier if they just admitted they had a problem and needed help, but they are willing to metaphorically eat glass for years rather than face that problem.

  368. Ken F wrote:

    But hierarchy and accountability groups are not authentic Christian concepts.

    What these “Christian” groups call accountability is not, by definition, accountability. It is CONTROL …. nothing else, and nothing more.

  369. Max wrote:

    Speaking of Russell Moore …

    Keep your eye on Russell Moore. He may get thrown out on his butt if he keeps going up against main-stream SBC/Religious Right. Latest affront is to get caught calling Paula White a charlatan. She will be offering a prayer at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

    For me, Russ Moore is one ray of hope in the Religious Right circus.

  370. Ted wrote:

    Latest affront is to get caught calling Paula White a charlatan. She will be offering a prayer at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

    classic!

  371. Ted wrote:

    Latest affront is to get caught calling Paula White a charlatan. She will be offering a prayer at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

    I’m no Paula White fan, but Russell Moore really needs to get out of Mr. Trump’s face with stuff like this. If he wants to engage the culture with the gospel, he needs to come up with another angle.

  372. Ken F wrote:

    The PK site cites a book by The Navigators as their source.

    From the reputation the Navigators had during my college days, that’s a bright red warning flag right there.

  373. refugee wrote:

    (In the back of my head, connected with mention of patriarchy, would be exhorting the womenfolk *not* to vote… but I don’t think that’s what you meant.)

    More like exhorting Wifey to Submit(TM) and vote the way Godly Hubby tells her to vote. Thus doubling his Correct vote.

    This was one of the reasons Utah had to deny women the vote to get statehood. The fear that Mormon Patriarchs would multiply their vote through their Plural Wives voting exactly the same as Patriarch Husband.

  374. Lydia wrote:

    Meaningless syrupy vague Platitudes that never solve real peoblems seem to be what is acceptable for many today. I hope it is not rude to not like such communication. (Wink)

    The more you have to put up with “meaningless syrupy vague Platitudes” and get victimized by oh-so-Polite abusers, the more you go in the other direction and get In Your Face with as much Impact as you can. After growing up with an oh-so-Polite NPD/sociopath, Polite = Deceit.

  375. Darlene wrote:

    If I were to take a guess, it’s because they’re obsessed with SEX, SEX, & more SEX.

    And don’t forget S*E*X.

    Long ago I concluded that Christians are just as messed up sexually as everyone else, just in a different direction. And Christianese Purity Culture encourages paraphiliae/fetishes. Don’t think about pink elephants… “NIKE!”

  376. Christiane wrote:

    you see rudeness a lot in the young people from the inner city as a ‘defense’ because they have such low self-esteem and no social skills at coping with the world outside the one they live in where rude and crude pass for a kind of strength ….

    And at the bottom of a rough place like that, you don’t dare show any sign of weakness.
    Nothing that can identify you to all the predators as Prey.

  377. Lydia wrote:

    If one has to choose, I would prefer up front rude. The knife in the back usually comes with lots of public syrupy love bombing masking the knife.

    Same here. For the same reasons. I don’t have much back left.

  378. Lydia wrote:

    Meaningless syrupy vague Platitudes that never solve real peoblems seem to be what is acceptable for many today. I hope it is not rude to not like such communication.

    I’ve seen many an occasion when someone’s point was dismissed because it was not said in the “right way”. While I think it is most effective to say something without unnecessarily offending, I would give close to 100% odds that the same people would dismiss you even if it were said the “right way”.

  379. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Long ago I concluded that Christians are just as messed up sexually as everyone else, just in a different direction. And Christianese Purity Culture encourages paraphiliae/fetishes. Don’t think about pink elephants… “NIKE!”

    They really are (messed up in an extreme opposite direction from secular culture). Here’s a gem from Denny Burk which illustrates the point nicely:

    http://www.dennyburk.com/ten-reasons-you-should-not-indulge-in-solo-sex-desiringgod/

  380. Mara wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:

    Get your life straight before you set foot in the door?

    Reminds me of a situation a friend told me about.

    She was visiting a new boyfriend’s church. And above the door of the sanctuary it told women that if they were not wearing a dress or a skirt then they were not allowed to enter.

    She concluded her story with, “Whatever happened to ‘God bless you’?”

    “No women with makeup, no men with long hair, no swearing, no tobacco, no booze…”

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF9q_q89ZmE

  381. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Dake’s Annotated Bible.
    Heaven is a physical planet located in a specific location in the northern sky, kind of like the Mormon Kolob.

    Oh good grief! Thanks for clearing that up for me, I’ve always wondered wth?

  382. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes & mirele wrote:

    a woman from New York wrote in and said she was divorcing her husband, and the “fault” (as NY required fault for a divorce in those days) was Promise Keepers

    Darn. I missed that one. That would be good to read. Maybe if/when the Deebs do a post on PK, it might feature that bit.

  383. Muff Potter wrote:

    They really are (messed up in an extreme opposite direction from secular culture). Here’s a gem from Denny Burk which illustrates the point nicely:

    http://www.dennyburk.com/ten-reasons-you-should-not-indulge-in-solo-sex-desiringgod/

    I don’t get why they are so obsessed with this topic! Of all the things people do that are wrong, they hyper focus on this which is not exactly in the Ten Commandments.

    Also, way to take a metaphor to a gross and disturbing place:
    “Sexual intimacy between a husband and wife points to the love between Christ and his church.”

  384. Lea wrote:

    “Sexual intimacy between a husband and wife points to the love between Christ and his church.”

    And where exactly does scripture make this assertion? Simply put, no where!

  385. Bill M wrote:

    , I would give close to 100% odds that the same people would dismiss you even if it were said the “right way”.

    Hee hee. I cannot tell you the efforts I made and watched others make in such an endeavor over the years— missing the real point. What a time waster! But the game was played with what many would view was kindness but exactly the opposite in reality. I was never one who found words the same as a solution, anyway.

    I think the key is many want lockstep agreement or to marginalize others who disagree with them on issues.

    This strategy is prevalent in our society with political correctness, totalitarian niceness, etc. It is a control mechanism based on being accepted in a group. Thought, tone and word police. It’s everywhere but especially galling at church.

    A guy like Turk, for example, does us all a favor by being rude. We don’t have to guess what he is really thinking or what is lurking underneath that will eventually censor. We can avoid him like the plague. Turk has been around social media for years and has always been that way. There is no reasoning. But it doesn’t take much to get it and disengage.

    I remember some missionary acquaintances who mentioned some folks they knew who had the opportunity to work around Mother Theresa years ago. Evidently she was not exactly sweet and cuddly to deal with (I am minimizing here) but got the job done and her hands dirty. That is the sort of “kindness” I prefer. :o)

  386. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    If one has to choose, I would prefer up front rude. The knife in the back usually comes with lots of public syrupy love bombing masking the knife.

    Same here. For the same reasons. I don’t have much back left.

    You learned the hard way from your brother, didn’t you?

  387. Ted wrote:

    Max wrote:

    Speaking of Russell Moore …

    Keep your eye on Russell Moore. He may get thrown out on his butt if he keeps going up against main-stream SBC/Religious Right. Latest affront is to get caught calling Paula White a charlatan. She will be offering a prayer at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

    For me, Russ Moore is one ray of hope in the Religious Right circus.

    What happened to his patriarchy? That was his big issue at the pro slaver Founders SBTS. He said comps are wimps and we need more patriarchy. Patriarchy is part of the Gospel, contact know?

    Then he gets a promotion to the national stage and drops the issue. Is it because Patriarchy does not play well in the national media? The issues you now agree with him on where not in his repatoire just a few years ago. Did he have a Damascus road experience?

    Truth is he craves the limelight. He is not an ideologue but an opportunist.

    I hope he is thrown out for insulting the people who pay his salary. He can always be more honest and go out on his own, right? Or does he need their money while he tells them they aren’t real Christians?

  388. okrapod wrote:

    platitudinaceounessnes

    Love that word. I have an SIL immersed in it.

    I think they teach it in college now, though. :o)

  389. Lea wrote:

    I heard a definition of class/manners/being a ‘gentlemen’ that was you only offend someone when you mean to!

    Yes. Exactly. You know the USSR used labels like mentally unstable or morally deginerate to marginalize people who dared disagree with the prevailing ruling class. They got to define such for an entire nation. And of course the exceptions were part of the ruling elite. (As always)

    China had similar tactics during the Cultural Revolution. People were labeled and marginalized until they publicly agreed with the prevailing thought police in order to operate as part of society. Disagreeing was rude while those who agreed were nice. Period. No matter how they approached it. And people learned to look for any perceived offenses to exploit that were not politically correct.

  390. Ted wrote:

    Keep your eye on Russell Moore. He may get thrown out on his butt if he keeps going up against main-stream SBC/Religious Right. Latest affront is to get caught calling Paula White a charlatan. She will be offering a prayer at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.
    For me, Russ Moore is one ray of hope in the Religious Right circus.

    Whatever Moore’s views on politics, he’s still Mohler’s pet, and wouldn’t have that job if he didn’t. You forget Mohler and crew always work in a long-term plan. I have doubts that Moore is really a moral champion, and suspect this is more of a ploy to pull the younger generation into Calvinista churches.

  391. Lydia wrote:

    I don’t expect people to pay me to insult them. Russ Moore does.

    You and Mike Huckabee would get along just fine regarding Mr. Moore:

    “I am utterly stunned that Russell Moore is being paid by Southern Baptists to insult them.” (Mike Huckabee)

    Brother Huckabee would not only be stunned, but utterly shocked, to know that Southern Baptists are paying the salaries of several knuckleheads these days! They include seminary presidents and entity heads who are wresting control of the denomination away from majority Southern Baptists who don’t agree with their theological leaning. Yep, a lot of things have changed in SBC life since Gov. Huckabee was an SBC pastor!

  392. @ Max:
    I doubt we would agree beyond this. He was immersed in the world of Rick Warren church tactics back in my mega seeker days.

    But even I agree with the Pope now and then even though I don’t agree with the concept of a Pope. :o)

    I think Moore should go out on his own. It would be more honest than telling the majority of people who pay his high salary they have no moral compass. But he does? But then he needs the national platform and budget to build his new personal brand.

  393. Lydia wrote:

    But then he needs the national platform and budget to build his new personal brand.

    New Calvinists are good at that!

  394. @ Lydia:
    Btw, Moore made his bones in my neck of the woods. He has always been a player and about promoting himself in the right circles depending on the subject matter and venue. The issues were always just a vehicle for such.

    I can’t believe it is still working.

  395. Ted wrote:

    Keep your eye on Russell Moore.

    One of the problems with the glitterati, we give them way too much credit and attention, and they will say or do all kinds of things to get or stay in the limelight. When we disagree with the celebrities we dismiss them as gliteratti, when they say something we agree with, are we to tell everyone “look at them”? Personally I am skeptical that he is more about politics than principle, given his political past what he is saying now seems all to convenient to me. I do think he will have a hard time reconciling himself to his new found friends on the political stage given his history of supporting patriarchy. Time will tell.

  396. Max wrote:

    Ted wrote:

    Latest affront is to get caught calling Paula White a charlatan. She will be offering a prayer at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

    I’m no Paula White fan, but Russell Moore really needs to get out of Mr. Trump’s face with stuff like this. If he wants to engage the culture with the gospel, he needs to come up with another angle.

    If we were able to dismiss all the Christian charlatans most denominations from the RCC to the Methodists would be out of business.

  397. Darlene wrote:

    If I were to take a guess, it’s because they’re obsessed with SEX, SEX, & more SEX. In my former cult, members confessed their sins publicly at meetings held specifically for that purpose. Sexual sins were at the top of the list.

    This reminds me of a story I heard some time ago. Two young boys attending Christian school went to the pastor for advice. Both had a similar story. They were experiencing lustful thoughts about a girl attending the school. The pastor questioned them about which girl was the focus of their lust. They said they were much too embarrassed to mention the girl’s name. The pastor then mentioned some names – is it Jane, the new girls? is it Mary? etc. Each time the boys said no; it wasn’t any of the girls the pastor mentioned. On the way out of church, the boys compared notes and were very happy. They got some good names!

  398. Lea wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:

    They really are (messed up in an extreme opposite direction from secular culture). Here’s a gem from Denny Burk which illustrates the point nicely:

    http://www.dennyburk.com/ten-reasons-you-should-not-indulge-in-solo-sex-desiringgod/

    I don’t get why they are so obsessed with this topic! Of all the things people do that are wrong, they hyper focus on this which is not exactly in the Ten Commandments.

    Also, way to take a metaphor to a gross and disturbing place:
    “Sexual intimacy between a husband and wife points to the love between Christ and his church.”

    Well then…I suppose the Neo-Cal manly men can sing love songs to Jesus after all. Since they are part of the church.

  399. Bill M wrote:

    given his political past what he is saying now seems all to convenient to me

    Mr. Moore received his theo-political stripes in the New Calvinist movement. He learned that it is OK to be deceptive to accomplish an agenda.

  400. Bridget wrote:

    Lea wrote:

    “Sexual intimacy between a husband and wife points to the love between Christ and his church.”

    And where exactly does scripture make this assertion? Simply put, no where!

    Yeah…And just what exactly does this mean anyhow? Can someone please give a practical explanation of that metaphor? Come to think of it, the thought of someone trying to do that would cause me to be just a wee bit uncomfortable. Me thinks I’ll pass.

  401. Lea wrote:

    I don’t get why they are so obsessed with this topic!

    I think it is a throwback from GrecoRoman Code stuff and having to do with Patriarchy/King/Lord owning the sexuality of not only his wife (wives, concubines), but of his slaves, serfs, servants, whatever. It’s an ownership.

    For the wife it was a matter of making sure the heir was his own.

    I could be wrong on this. It is just a thought.

  402. Lydia wrote:

    Btw, Moore made his bones in my neck of the woods. He has always been a player and about promoting himself in the right circles depending on the subject matter and venue. The issues were always just a vehicle for such.

    Don’t ever forget – Russell Moore first got a degree in political science and worked as an aide to a U. S. Representative in Mississipi before he went into theology!
    IMO, he’s a political player.

  403. Darlene wrote:

    Can someone please give a practical explanation of that metaphor?

    They can’t just read about Christ’s self sacrificing love and see it as love. Love = sex= control? Is this their way of viewing it? No wonder their theology is a mess.

  404. Darlene wrote:

    Yeah…And just what exactly does this mean anyhow? Can someone please give a practical explanation of that metaphor? Come to think of it, the thought of someone trying to do that would cause me to be just a wee bit uncomfortable. Me thinks I’ll pass.

    google: sexual imagery in christian mysticism

  405. Darlene wrote:

    Yeah…And just what exactly does this mean anyhow? Can someone please give a practical explanation of that metaphor? Come to think of it, the thought of someone trying to do that would cause me to be just a wee bit uncomfortable. Me thinks I’ll pass.

    It is beyond uncomfortable. Associating Christ’s relationship with the church to marital sex??? It is just plain gross.

  406. Darlene wrote:

    Can someone please give a practical explanation of that metaphor?

    I think it has to do with looking at The Songs as a metaphor of spiritual intimacy between Christ and the church. This is, of course, hotly debated. Driscoll was all on the side of it NOT being Christ and the church. But then he made the whole thing a metaphor for every kind of sexual act he could squeeze out of it, and padded it quite a bit to get more.

    But outside Driscoll, there are good arguments on both sides.

    Now taking it a step further and making sex between husband and wife a picture of Christ and the Church. Yep, that is weird and creepy.

    Below is a link to the first part of a series by our own Wenatchee the Hatchet on Driscoll’s attack on the allegorical possibilities of The Songs. And why Driscoll, as always, was so very wrong in his teachings.

    http://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2011/10/wth-on-driscolls-sos-intro-pt-1.html

  407. You all check out Ezekial 16, especially verse 8. The prophet is saying a thus saith the Lord, and either the prophet himself or else the actual word of the Lord which had come to the prophet puts in the mouth of God that He had sex with Jerusalem, when she had come of an age for love…

    Sexual imagery permeates religion(s). IMO it is offensive only if one finds sexuality offensive. For that matter, a lot of sexuality is so far off track that it is offensive, but the basic idea comes from God himself. And, yes, I have seen the time in my life when I said to God about this idea ‘You got to be kidding…Were You even paying attention?’ I did not get any divine reply, by the way.

  408. Darlene wrote:

    Well then…I suppose the Neo-Cal manly men can sing love songs to Jesus after all. Since they are part of the church.

    You mean the manly men “brides” can sing love songs to Jesus. Hee hee. They always conveniently ignore that metaphor or refrain from taking it too far.

  409. Bridget wrote:

    And where exactly does scripture make this assertion? Simply put, no where!

    In my opinion this approach to Scripture is not more than 40-45 years old and almost exclusively American in origin. Huey (helicopter) verses out from the way back then, construct all manner application to apply in the here and now, and voila!, you (generic you) have doctrine!
    In fundagelical circles, it has evolved into an art form.
    No wonder some have dubbed it chrislam.

  410. Bill M wrote:

    Meaningless syrupy vague Platitudes that never solve real problems seem to be what is acceptable for many today.

    I am known for being blunt to the point of rudeness…. A few years ago in my small group somebody was trying to make their point speaking platitudinous Christianese, in an apparent effort not to offend. I lost patience and when she took a breath, I said, “In other words, life sucks, God doesn’t.” Some folks were a little startled, but I don’t recall that anybody actually got offended.

  411. Lydia wrote:

    You mean the manly men “brides” can sing love songs to Jesus. Hee hee. They always conveniently ignore that metaphor or refrain from taking it too far.

    Heh… My pastor comes right out and says, “Yeah, guys, we’re Jesus’s woman. Yeah, it’s weird, and as a guy, I can’t quite wrap my brain around it myself, but I can’t pretend it isn’t so, either.” Or something to that effect.

  412. Lowlandseer wrote:

    If you want a lengthy read on the history of accountability groups, the following article is fairly comprehensive. I don’t know anything about the author other than he seems to favour them.

    That dissertation focuses on cell groups, but not specifically accountability groups. The distinction is important. Cell groups can be any small groupings of Christians with the purpose of mutual support and encouragement. By contrast, accountability groups specifically focus on holding others accountable. It’s a very narrow subset of cells groups. If the purpose is to walk closer to the Lord, then what we need is encouragement, not accountability. Accountability results in legalism, guilt, and all kinds of things that take our focus off of Jesus. It’s walking in the flesh, not in the Spirit. Check out this list of accountability questions from PK: https://promisekeepers.org/about/faqs/faqs-small-group-info:

    Are you spending time alone with God?
    -Is your thought life pure?
    -Are you misusing your power?
    -Are you walking in total obedience to God?
    -Have you lied about any of the previous questions?

    This list is excerpted from the books Focusing Your Men’s Ministry by Pete Richardson (pgs. 50-51) and Brothers! by Geoff Gorsuch with Dan Schaffer (pgs. 95-96):
    -How much time did you spend in prayer this week?
    -Did you pray for others in this group?
    -Did you put yourself in an awkward situation with a woman?
    -At any time did you compromise your integrity?
    -What one sin plagued your walk with God this week?
    -Did you accomplish your spiritual goals this week?
    -Are you giving to the Lord’s work financially?
    -How have you demonstrated a servant’s heart?
    -Do you treat your peers and coworkers as people loved by God?
    -What significant thing did you do for your wife and/or family?
    -What was your biggest disappointment? How did you decide to handle it?
    -What was your biggest joy? Did you thank God?
    -What do you see as your number one need for next week?
    -Are you satisfied with the time you spent with the Lord this week?
    -Did you take time to show compassion for others in need?
    -Did you control your tongue?
    -What did you do this week to enhance your relationship with your spouse?
    -Did you pray and read God’s Word this week? What did you derive from this time?
    -In what ways have you launched out in faith since we last met?
    -In what ways has God blessed you this week? And what disappointments consumed your thoughts this week?
    -Did you look at a woman in the wrong way?
    -How have you been tempted this week? How did you respond?
    -How has your relationship with Christ been changing?
    -Did you worship in church this week?
    -Have you shared your faith this week? How?
    -What are you wrestling with in your thought life?
    -What have you done for someone else this week?
    -Are the “visible“ you and the “real“ you consistent in this relationship?

  413. okrapod wrote:

    IMO it is offensive only if one finds sexuality offensive.

    I think their are metaphors and they get taken literally. That’s what I don’t like.

    This happens all the time with this crew, by the way. They don’t seem to understand imagery. I think all of them should be taking a lit class.

  414. Muff Potter wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Long ago I concluded that Christians are just as messed up sexually as everyone else, just in a different direction. And Christianese Purity Culture encourages paraphiliae/fetishes. Don’t think about pink elephants… “NIKE!”
    They really are (messed up in an extreme opposite direction from secular culture). Here’s a gem from Denny Burk which illustrates the point nicely:
    http://www.dennyburk.com/ten-reasons-you-should-not-indulge-in-solo-sex-desiringgod/

    As you rightly point out, this is exactly the reason why there is so much sexual abuse in churches. The celibacy rule in Roman Catholicism and the purity culture in evangelicalism. His reasons are pure nonsense and are rooted in a false ideology – the pagan, ascetic “sex is dirty” paradigm of the early church fathers and an idolatry of marriage as an institution. Focus on the Family, who oppose any form of sex outside of marriage have stated:

    “Although the physical need for sex can be compartmentalized in a man’s life, his sexual behavior still has ramifications for every other part of his life. Many women make the assumption that because sex is a physical need for their husbands, it doesn’t have an emotional or relational impact. Nothing could be further from the truth. A man’s sexuality has a tremendous impact on his emotional, marital, and spiritual well-being.” (Source: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/sex-and-intimacy/understanding-your-husbands-sexual-needs/sex-is-a-physical-need)

    So on the one hand, they say that human sexuality is a “physical need” but on the other, they also teach that the fulfillment of this need is only available for married couples. This reminds me of another preacher who once said that “gay Christians should consign themselves to celibacy” but then promoted and celebrated false research that “married couples enjoy better health, wealth, longevity and happiness than single people”. They have not thought through the cruel implications of their ideology and this is why I am done with church!

  415. StillWiggling wrote:

    Heh… My pastor comes right out and says, “Yeah, guys, we’re Jesus’s woman. Yeah, it’s weird, and as a guy, I can’t quite wrap my brain around it myself, but I can’t pretend it isn’t so, either.” Or something to that effect.

    something weird about how the imagery of sacred Scripture is taken so literally,
    until you get it that ‘imagery’ and subtle language is NOT a comfortable mode of communication among fundamentalists ….. EXCEPT when the ‘literal’ is TOO unbearable for them, and they cave to the metaphor (ie. ‘ My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink’)

    ‘Christ and His Bride, the Church’ is one metaphor that really gets messed with in patriarchal evangelical circles as it is turned over into a heavy ‘sexual’ imagery and misses the unity symbolism and the concept of ‘growing together’

  416. Ken F wrote:

    If the purpose is to walk closer to the Lord, then what we need is encouragement, not accountability. Accountability results in legalism, guilt, and all kinds of things that take our focus off of Jesus. It’s walking in the flesh, not in the Spirit.

    well said …..

    the ‘accountability group’ seems to be a substitute for a private examination of conscience where someone spend time thinking about their life and the ways in which they have turned towards the Lord and also those ways in which they have turned away from Him …. and so in pondering one’s own life, a course correction can be made and confession made as needed and a recommitment and a renewal can be done through the working of the person’s private moral conscience. . . . . no ‘accountability group’ can take the place of a person’s conscience …. that seems to be a very warped idea indeed

  417. They will distance themselves from you because you were not really their friend. You were merely their cheerleader, assuring them that they made the right choice.

    At abusive churches, “friendships” typically are formed very quickly, sometimes the visitor will feel overwhelmed at how wonderful these people are, how welcoming, how on fire for the Lord. There will be pressure to let down your guard, to just trust in these friendships, in the leadership, to “be real” and “share life”. Of course, in such a church, it’s fraudulent. It’s a means of infiltrating your life, dominating you and destroying you.

    Friendships are not typically made easily or quickly. It takes years for you to really know someone, seeing them at their best and worst–as well as being seen at your best and worst. When you work through this and still have someone who cares about you enough to stand by you–but kick you square in the butt if you’re in the wrong rather than circling the wagons round you to shield you from consequences for your sins–then you know you have a real friend.

    Real relationships are neither cheap or easy. But when we want microwave convenience we’re ripe for exploitation from abusers in the church so-called.

  418. Lydia wrote:

    But even I agree with the Pope now and then

    I just choked on my coffee. Whisky Tango ….
    Lydia agreeing with a Jesuit pope…… !!!! ????

    🙂

  419. @ Ken F:
    Well, if you had read the article you would have seen that it talks about holding one another accountable, among the many other facets of the cell group. The PK are a fairly recent fad with a very narrow focus. Their problem lies in the lack of wider accountability. Christiane’s point of example nation of conscience is a good one but the Methodists would say that their groups are a help not a hindrance to self-examination.

  420. I commented with links about what a Catholic examination of conscience looks like. To me it looks similar to the idea of what the accountability groups may be trying to do. I am wondering if the Catholic procedure might be the prototype for the groups procedures. Anyhow, check back later for the links is anybody is interested.

  421. okrapod wrote:

    I am wondering if the Catholic procedure might be the prototype for the groups procedures.

    we think alike, but my guess is that ‘accountability groups’ want to take over the role of private conscience, so the process of using any list of questions as a guide serves more as a group inquisition than a way of self-examination

  422. dee wrote:

    @ Steve240:
    I loved this, Steve. Here is a quote.
    May I read you a few lines from Tolstoy’s War and Peace?
    “When Boris entered the room, Prince Andrey was listening to an old general, wearing his decorations, who was reporting something to Prince Andrey, with an expression of soldierly servility on his purple face. “Alright. Please wait!” he said to the general, speaking in Russian with the French accent which he used when he spoke with contempt. The moment he noticed Boris he stopped listening to the general who trotted imploringly after him and begged to be heard, while Prince Andrey turned to Boris with a cheerful smile and a nod of the head. Boris now clearly understood—what he had already guessed—that side by side with the system of discipline and subordination which were laid down in the Army Regulations, there existed a different and more real system—the system which compelled a tightly laced general with a purple face to wait respectfully for his turn while a mere captain like Prince Andrey chatted with a mere second lieutenant like Boris. Boris decided at once that he would be guided not by the official system but by this other unwritten system.” (War and Peace)

    Nice quote.

  423. The Man who Wasn’t Thursday wrote:

    There is a far richer picture of atonement than either of these two doctrines, taught by the early church fathers,and is found in the New Testament quite in contrast to Calvinism and its offshoot Arminianism.

    AMEN! As Vance Havner used to say “Why Not Just Be Christians?”

  424. ZechZav wrote:

    So on the one hand, they say that human sexuality is a “physical need” but on the other, they also teach that the fulfillment of this need is only available for married couples. This reminds me of another preacher who once said that “gay Christians should consign themselves to celibacy” but then promoted and celebrated false research that “married couples enjoy better health, wealth, longevity and happiness than single people”. They have not thought through the cruel implications of their ideology and this is why I am done with church!

    I heard of a beautiful Rabbi from Nazareth who told the Denny Burks and the James Dobsons of his day something to the effect of:

    “And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.”

  425. Lowlandseer wrote:

    Well, if you had read the article you would have seen that it talks about holding one another accountable, among the many other facets of the cell group.

    The article only mentions that type of accountability once, and it is in the context of how cell groups operate today, not how they got that way. The rest of the seven instances of accountability in that article focus more on the accountability of group leaders to the larger organization. Consequently, the article does not help in describing the origin of accountability groups along the line that PK promotes. In any case, one cannot use the Bible to argue for believers holding each other accountable. One has to look outside the Bible for that.

  426. Law Prof wrote:

    At abusive churches, “friendships” typically are formed very quickly, sometimes the visitor will feel overwhelmed at how wonderful these people are, how welcoming, how on fire for the Lord. There will be pressure to let down your guard, to just trust in these friendships, in the leadership, to “be real” and “share life”. Of course, in such a church, it’s fraudulent. It’s a means of infiltrating your life, dominating you and destroying you.
    Friendships are not typically made easily or quickly. It takes years for you to really know someone, seeing them at their best and worst–as well as being seen at your best and worst. When you work through this and still have someone who cares about you enough to stand by you–but kick you square in the butt if you’re in the wrong rather than circling the wagons round you to shield you from consequences for your sins–then you know you have a real friend.
    Real relationships are neither cheap or easy. But when we want microwave convenience we’re ripe for exploitation from abusers in the church so-called.

    I know very few people that have these kinds of friendships. Maybe it’s just my generation, I dunno.

    I don’t think a lot of people want honesty in their lives, or the work it takes to maintain such friendships. They want a quick emotional fix and someone to be there when they are needy or lonely.

  427. Max wrote:

    The Southern Baptist Convention has an aggressive church planting strategy to plant 1,000 new churches per year. In recent years, these have been staffed by young, restless and reformed graduates of SBC seminaries who do church following a cookie-cutter New Calvinist model. These “lead pastors” are spiritually immature, arrogant and controlling, and sincerely believe they have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the true gospel that the rest of us have lost. They tote ESV Bibles and church covenants, indoctrinate with reformed theology via small group meetings, and will shun or excommunicate you if you don’t walk the line…

    Quite likely a significant percentage of them are malignant, conscienceless narcissists who lack empathy, compassion and any genuine belief in Jesus. Many are lovers of doctrine and dead church fathers (some of whom themselves were possibly malignant narcissists) and haters of anyone, including Jesus Himself and those who love Him, who would stand in the way of them sucking the life out of their narcissistic supply.

  428. drstevej wrote:

    I have a ThM from Dallas Seminary and a PhD from Westminster Seminary — am I unclean?

    That depends on whether or not you truly love Jesus and understand your place as just one part of the Body of Christ, no greater or lesser than any other, having no authority to lead by lording it over anyone or via diktat, but by godly example only, as the Bible puts it.

  429. Law Prof wrote:

    Quite likely a significant percentage of them are malignant, conscienceless narcissists who lack empathy, compassion …

    If you encounter one, just tell them they remind you of “The Squire of Gothos”.

  430. Muff Potter wrote:

    ZechZav wrote:
    So on the one hand, they say that human sexuality is a “physical need” but on the other, they also teach that the fulfillment of this need is only available for married couples. This reminds me of another preacher who once said that “gay Christians should consign themselves to celibacy” but then promoted and celebrated false research that “married couples enjoy better health, wealth, longevity and happiness than single people”. They have not thought through the cruel implications of their ideology and this is why I am done with church!
    I heard of a beautiful Rabbi from Nazareth who told the Denny Burks and the James Dobsons of his day something to the effect of:
    “And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.”

    That verse is very appropriate. When I attended a local complimentarian church I was told that I should “remain single and celibate” because I “struggled with same sex attraction”. Yet none of them lifted a finger to help – they did not visit me when I was ill and gave me no emotional or practical support when I went through a period of unemployment. As long as I was “staying celibate” that was all they cared about. Looking back, it was abuse but I was not aware at the time. But I don’t want to compare it to the complimentarian abuse of battered wives which is far more dangerous, although the root of it is the same ideology.

  431. Lydia wrote:

    If we were able to dismiss all the Christian charlatans most denominations from the RCC to the Methodists would be out of business.

    Yep. Of course, any woman who preaches would be considered a “charlatan” by New Calvinists. There are only a few women teachers who are blessed by the new reformers that are OK to send their girls to, such as Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer.

  432. preacher’s wife wrote:

    I’ve known a few congregations that had this attitude towards their minister. The only reason they went to class was to try to catch some doctrinal error. That’s very disheartening for a young minister.

    Were I a young minister, I’d hope someone would attend class to find doctrinal error, because I’d assume as a young minister, I had plenty because I was young, ignorant and had a lot to learn. In fact, were I a young minister, I’d hope that someone would tell me to read the part in the Bible about young men submitting to those older than them and then decide to resign my position immediately, realizing I was most likely not qualified.

  433. Max wrote:

    There are only a few women teachers who are blessed by the new reformers that are OK to send their girls to, such as Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer.

    Moore’s out. She spoke out against Trump and got a lot of them mad, even though their leaders were also speaking out against Trump.

    I think it’s really because she didn’t “stay in her place”. I don’t think she’s a Calvinista, though. I think she just makes Lifeway a lot of money.

  434. On top of my last comment, I should also add that many people in my previous comp church raved about John the Pied Piper. They danced to his tune and followed him. One sister church still sells books by CJ Mahaney even after I sent the evidence against him many months ago. I had a blessed escape when I left.

  435. ZechZav wrote:

    Yet none of them lifted a finger to help – they did not visit me when I was ill and gave me no emotional or practical support when I went through a period of unemployment. As long as I was “staying celibate” that was all they cared about. Looking back, it was abuse but I was not aware at the time. But I don’t want to compare it to the complimentarian abuse of battered wives which is far more dangerous, although the root of it is the same ideology.

    this is a sad witness to a group of Christians who had forgotten their most important role: to be missionaries of the Mercy of God

  436. AnonInNC wrote:

    I *hate* the tactic of love bombing. There was one guy at my former church who was frighteningly good at it. He’d approach everybody walking through the doors, grinning from ear to ear, hug them unless they resisted (like I did), and proceed to ask a bunch of questions about what you did that week, how you were doing, etc. I started using a back entrance to avoid him and pretended not to notice him if he approached me while trying to leave. He also liked to yell “Amen!” at the top of his lungs during sermons, so no doubt he was one of the pastor’s favorite sycophants.

    I can tell you stories of two loudmouths in church, the kinds who yell out “amen!” during the sermon or who, when they’re asked to pray, make a huge spectacle of it, blubbering, screeching, etc. The “amen!” shouter was at the neocal I attended. He has now left the church (not bad in and of itself) and according to a close friend who really loves Jesus, refuses to even discuss Christ and refuses to pray (granted, this may be a result of PTSD rather than a sign of him leaving the faith); the blubbering, look-at-me praying guy left his wife and made a public mockery of her, making a big show of sleeping around in our small town and humiliating her to the core.

    I immediately am suspicious of the big show church-goers as well as the perfect family crowd.

  437. ishy wrote:

    I know very few people that have these kinds of friendships. Maybe it’s just my generation, I dunno.

    They take time and work. You may have a lot of acquaintances/transient friends, but true friendship are rarer.

  438. ishy wrote:

    I know very few people that have these kinds of friendships. Maybe it’s just my generation, I dunno.
    I don’t think a lot of people want honesty in their lives, or the work it takes to maintain such friendships. They want a quick emotional fix and someone to be there when they are needy or lonely.

    It’s possible that’s why these abuse clubs masquerading as church have gained a foothold in this most recent generation. Of course there were the issues with the Fort Lauderdale Five and the ugliness of cult leaders like Gothard, and this is nothing new, Paul has his go rounds with the superapostles and the Pharisees seem strikingly like a modern day neocalvinist cultist, but there does seem to be something about the last couple decades that’s substantively different from anything I’ve seen in my fifty years.

  439. Lea wrote:

    They take time and work. You may have a lot of acquaintances/transient friends, but true friendship are rarer.

    I have a few, but most people I know don’t really want them, I think. Well, unless it leads to marriage.

  440. Law Prof wrote:

    but there does seem to be something about the last couple decades that’s substantively different from anything I’ve seen in my fifty years.

    I know broken families have a lot to do with it, too. Nearly everyone I know has a broken family.

    My generation seems a lot more transient in general. My dad worked for the same company for 37 years, and really can’t comprehend why my brother and I haven’t kept the same job for years and years like he has. We’ve both been laid off or been put in legally compromising situations for work. I think it’s both that we’re more rootless, but also that employers are more likely to view people as expendable.

  441. “…and keep in strict confidence all matters which the Elders determine are of private concern to the church.”

    First, I’m curious why “Elders” is capitalized, like “Lord” and “Jesus”, but perhaps that’s nitpicky. The larger point is I’m wondering if they ever heard of this guy named Jesus Who told us about the whispers in the inner rooms being shouted from rooftops? I guess the problem there is Jesus said it and He’s not exactly relevant to to their cult.

  442. ishy wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    but there does seem to be something about the last couple decades that’s substantively different from anything I’ve seen in my fifty years.
    I know broken families have a lot to do with it, too. Nearly everyone I know has a broken family.
    My generation seems a lot more transient in general.

    Sounds about right, very possible. I came from a transient family with parents who changed careers about every half dozen to dozen years from 1950 through retirement around 2000. I’ve changed jobs quite a bit also, current gig at eight years and counting is my personal record. But I did have parents who stayed married til death and was rooted well there, and have never been able to conform to the cults and get into the microwave relationships. Have a handful of friends, most of whom we’ve had for decades, people who’ve proven themselves. I don’t need some 30 year old pastor in tight jeans and hipster glasses to tell me how to “do life”.

  443. Law Prof wrote:

    I don’t need some 30 year old pastor in tight jeans and hipster glasses to tell me how to “do life”.

    I think most of the regulars here have grown past that stage, even in and through some horrible circumstances. My family was not broken in that way, but my mom died when I was a teenager, so there was that. And I was very sick for several years as a teenager, so I didn’t really have the luxury of feeling entitled.

    Most of these baby pastors have probably had everything handed to them so far. Some think everyone else must be in sin if their life is not like that, and I’m sure some just like the attention.

  444. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    What I received from my question was icy stares and the beginning of the shunning process. Oh, and an invitation to lunch to discuss the question in depth, where, what actually happened is my Christian character was questioned.

    Oh yeah, I’ve had two such lunch meetings that were supposed to just be nice times together to sharpen each other’s iron and grow together in Christ. Of course, they end up being a pastor with a long bony finger that’s pointed right at your face and a voice that rises a couple octaves by the end and you’re looking round hoping to goodness you don’t know anybody in the restaurant who’ll see you on the embarrassing public end of narcissistic rage.

  445. ishy wrote:

    Most of these baby pastors have probably had everything handed to them so far. Some think everyone else must be in sin if their life is not like that, and I’m sure some just like the attention.

    I think some of them were the victims of a lot of formative abuse themselves, and perhaps some broken families and a lot of pain. Many are personality-disordered and very vicious people just under the surface, that’s why they’re drawn to the ministry, it feeds their need for adulation and provides them trusting victims.

  446. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    The more you have to put up with “meaningless syrupy vague Platitudes” and get victimized by oh-so-Polite abusers, the more you go in the other direction and get In Your Face with as much Impact as you can.

    I think sometimes that’s your only defense. You can’t play nice games. Jesus never played nice games. I’ve found that if you flat out stand up to an abuser, even an NPD lacking a conscience, and tell them exactly what they are and what they’re doing and refuse to be shouted down and just Do. Not. Back. Down., they are left spluttering and fold. So long as they have no legitimate means of getting back at you (which doesn’t work so well if they happen to be a family member, leader at a church you attend or boss, alas), you can take care of matters.

  447. Lydia wrote:

    The next thing he knows his edited words out of context from a recording are on the internet.
    Never assume you are dealing with people of character and integrity just because they are nice. Manipulators are always nice.

    So long as you’re not in one of the handful of dual consent states, record everything yourself. Take notes. If you are in a dual consent state, then insist upon recording the conversation and if they refuse to speak with you, then tell them forget it, no talk.

  448. Law Prof wrote:

    So long as they have no legitimate means of getting back at you (which doesn’t work so well if they happen to be a family member, leader at a church you attend or boss, alas), you can take care of matters.

    None of the other people really bother me. The people who can get revenge are usually the ones who cause immense pain in their betrayal.

  449. @ Law Prof:
    Seminary does not prepare them for people who don’t back down and who don’t care what they think. And you are right to advise being careful you are protected. They are a vengeful lot who love to blindside and set people up. Even going after the kids to turn them against parents.

  450. ZechZav wrote:

    That verse is very appropriate. When I attended a local complimentarian church I was told that I should “remain single and celibate” because I “struggled with same sex attraction”.

    Let me guess… Just like high school? Where you weren’t getting any so you had to be Queer?

  451. StillWiggling wrote:

    Heh… My pastor comes right out and says, “Yeah, guys, we’re Jesus’s woman. Yeah, it’s weird, and as a guy, I can’t quite wrap my brain around it myself, but I can’t pretend it isn’t so, either.” Or something to that effect.

    Spiritual Gender Dysphoria?

  452. Mara wrote:

    Now taking it a step further and making sex between husband and wife a picture of Christ and the Church. Yep, that is weird and creepy.

    Humans have a REALLY bad track record when it comes to mixing religion and erotica.

  453. Max wrote:

    Sooner or later, those “good pastors” will show their bad side and get after you for not signing their membership covenant. You ‘must’ submit to them. If there are no other viable church options in your area, stay home and read your Bible … and pray that God will start cleaning house soon.

    Actually, I believe God is cleaning house, just not in the way that we think. He’s cleaning His True Church out of the fraudulent one.

  454. Lydia wrote:

    Even going after the kids to turn them against parents.

    Oh yeah, been there. Had a pastor who made it a pet project to subvert me to the kids behind my back. Gave it the old college try, but underestimated the kids. Saw through him. Not that it was all that difficult for anyone but the benighted to see through him.

  455. ishy wrote:

    None of the other people really bother me. The people who can get revenge are usually the ones who cause immense pain in their betrayal.

    That’s right, only one you actually think cares about you can really hurt you to the core. I never had any illusions about any pastor I’ve heard for the last decade, they all ranged between full blown evil liar and confused blind guide.

  456. Law Prof wrote:

    Friendships are not typically made easily or quickly. It takes years for you to really know someone, seeing them at their best and worst–as well as being seen at your best and worst. When you work through this and still have someone who cares about you enough to stand by you–but kick you square in the butt if you’re in the wrong rather than circling the wagons round you to shield you from consequences for your sins–then you know you have a real friend.

    My two best friends in this world are my mother, my daughter, and my aunt. We know one another’s strengths and weaknesses. We are always there for one another ….. three gang up and kick tail when one is wrong, but we’re there, all the same …. car wrecks, illnesses, and stupid costly mistakes …… we’re there.

  457. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    ZechZav wrote:
    That verse is very appropriate. When I attended a local complimentarian church I was told that I should “remain single and celibate” because I “struggled with same sex attraction”.
    Let me guess… Just like high school? Where you weren’t getting any so you had to be Queer?

    In many ways some churches were like the school playground. In the UK many evangelical circles impose a celibacy requirement on any church member that happens to be gay. They impose the same requirement on heterosexual singles but they encourage them to pursue a romantic partner. I left that community because I felt neglected and abused, and coming across this blog and witnessing how they are abusing women and children has really opened my eyes. Complimentarian preachers are Calvinists and creationist which gives the theological foundation for their abuse. One person in that church blatantly said (without a shred of empathy) – “if the Bible is racist, misogynistic and homophobic and if God predestines people to hell, so be it!” Of course, this came from the mouth of a married, heterosexual man with white skin. The royal command to “love your neighbour as yourself” was ignored whilst they focused on their “creational mandates of gender roles” and “predestination to heaven or hell!” And most of them were happy and complacent in their view that they were “the elect”. I should have got out sooner when I saw these warning signs.

  458. Law Prof wrote:

    I believe God is cleaning house, just not in the way that we think. He’s cleaning His True Church out of the fraudulent one.

    As we enter a new year, many believers are faced with a decision as the American church moves further from Gospel-north: “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” vs. “Come out from among her and be not a partaker of her sins.” Just because the genuine is “done” doesn’t mean it is done with Christ and His Church; it has simply chosen to get the heck away from the counterfeit.

  459. ishy wrote:

    Moore’s out. She spoke out against Trump and got a lot of them mad

    Another casualty of social media abuse. The religious elite are continually doing a risk assessment on its celebrities … when your liabilities exceed your assets, they drop you like a hot potato (e.g., Driscoll).

  460. ZechZav wrote:

    When I attended a local complimentarian church I was told that I should “remain single and celibate” because I “struggled with same sex attraction”. Yet none of them lifted a finger to help – they did not visit me when I was ill and gave me no emotional or practical support when I went through a period of unemployment. As long as I was “staying celibate” that was all they cared about. Looking back, it was abuse but I was not aware at the time.

    When I attended church there seemed to be huge number of people who always seemed to be having some crisis in their life. Not to trivialize your experience, but typical everyday problems and disappointments were turned into a major catastrophes requiring prayer, special treatment, etc. There needed to be a balance and there was none.

  461. ZechZav wrote:

    I had a blessed escape when I left.

    Many here at TWW have also had “blessed” escapes. Congratulations! Now you are Free To Think as an individual made in the image of God. 😉

  462. Darlene wrote:

    ZechZav wrote:
    I had a blessed escape when I left.
    Many here at TWW have also had “blessed” escapes. Congratulations! Now you are Free To Think as an individual made in the image of God.

    Amen!

  463. Christiane wrote:

    to be missionaries of the Mercy of God

    I don’t think this concept has even entered the minds of most Neo-Calvinists. Me thinks they’r more concerned with being missionaries of the Calvinist “gospel.”

  464. ZechZav wrote:

    The royal command to “love your neighbour as yourself” was ignored whilst they focused on their “creational mandates of gender roles” and “predestination to heaven or hell!” And most of them were happy and complacent in their view that they were “the elect”.

    That was my experience too being at a NeoCalvinist church in Silicon Valley, California.
    (Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley). My ex-senior pastor even went as far as to ask us in Adult Sunday School if gays could be killed by God? I said “no” and that any of us could be killed by God, but God isn’t going to do that because He’s God. My ex-senior pastor “corrected” me before everyone and launched into a big speech about how God could kill gays. So much for the Royal Law of Love. So much for doing what Jesus did.

    I have never met more arrogant, hate-filled people who know NOTHING of Jesus and The Gospel than at that church.

  465. Law Prof wrote:

    “…and keep in strict confidence all matters which the Elders determine are of private concern to the church.”
    First, I’m curious why “Elders” is capitalized, like “Lord” and “Jesus”, but perhaps that’s nitpicky. The larger point is I’m wondering if they ever heard of this guy named Jesus Who told us about the whispers in the inner rooms being shouted from rooftops? I guess the problem there is Jesus said it and He’s not exactly relevant to to their cult.

    LawProf: Hubris is written all over this statement. These *Elders* believe themselves to be above the rest of the congregation. I think what they really mean (even though their words say differently) is: what the Elders determine are of private concern to the *Elders.* Their view of “church” is not one in which all those in the body of Christ come together to make decisions. No. Because those lowly pew peons don’t have the wisdom and discernment of the “Elders.” We’ve seen how this model works out in churches. Here at The Wartburg Watch we’ve seen many examples of Elders/Pastors/Leaders harboring criminals, hiding the truth, & marginalizing and slandering truth tellers and godly Christians. I think they need to use a different model. But that’s just me.

  466. Law Prof wrote:

    I don’t need some 30 year old pastor in tight jeans and hipster glasses to tell me how to “do life”.

    I just tried picturing that and it gave me a hearty chuckle. Thanks for the laugh!

  467. ishy wrote:

    My family was not broken in that way, but my mom died when I was a teenager, so there was that.

    Ishy: My mother died when I was a teen as well. I think that experience alone shaped me into the person I am today.

  468. Ken G wrote:

    When I attended church there seemed to be huge number of people who always seemed to be having some crisis in their life. Not to trivialize your experience, but typical everyday problems and disappointments were turned into a major catastrophes requiring prayer, special treatment, etc. There needed to be a balance and there was none.

    Thank you! I thought it was just me and kept my own counsel over it for years. I have a zillion examples of that I could relate. It is one of many reasons I find so much of church so shallow.

    I remember being strongly advised to attend a grief group at a mega I was working with after my mom died. She was my closest friend so I thought it might propel me through the stages. (I know. Sigh. I was very utilitarian)

    So I go to one meeting which had about 50 people. There are parents of suicides, parents (or a parent) of kids who died of cancer, drug overdoses and even one family whose teen was randomly murdered and the police could not find the murderer!

    I was ashamed to speak. I begged off speaking. I was stunned. I had beautiful memories of my mom’s long life and those poor people were left with doubts, questions, guilt, etc.

    After it was over I told the director how I felt He said everyone’s mourning is important and I needed to come. I totally disagreed with that attitude and told him why. He even called me the next day to get me to come back. There was no way I was going to expect those poor people to listen to me. Compared to them, my grief was about missing a wonderful friend who lived a long life.

    But my most horrifying experience was visiting an adult bible class type prayer circle where people ask for specific prayer. After a few “Jesus make it all wonderful” type requests, a woman asked for prayer as she had recently been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Lots of “I am sorry’s” then the requests continue. One was, pray my new kitty acclimates to my house (a church staffer!). Pray a formal dress I have been watching goes on sale…..Etc. it made me sick to my stomach. And yes, I caught up with the serious request after in the parking lot. I never went back to that group. One visit was enough.

  469. Law Prof wrote:

    Todd Wilhelm wrote:
    What I received from my question was icy stares and the beginning of the shunning process. Oh, and an invitation to lunch to discuss the question in depth, where, what actually happened is my Christian character was questioned.
    Oh yeah, I’ve had two such lunch meetings that were supposed to just be nice times together to sharpen each other’s iron and grow together in Christ. Of course, they end up being a pastor with a long bony finger that’s pointed right at your face and a voice that rises a couple octaves by the end and you’re looking round hoping to goodness you don’t know anybody in the restaurant who’ll see you on the embarrassing public end of narcissistic rage.

    I think I’d lose my appetite rather quickly upon discovering their motives to “meet for lunch.” Ugh! A memory was sparked through your comments of a time when I went back to visit my former Christian cult. It was titled the “Grace Meeting” but had nothing to do with “grace.” During a break, the leader/pastor sent one of his loyal members to give me a message that he wanted to speak with me. Having been loosed from the chains of sychophantry (I know, not an actual word), I decided to oblige and have that little chat. As we began exchanging light conversation, I began to sense the manipulation tactic revving up. That was when he asked if I would be interested in eating dinner with him and his wife. Without hesitation I replied: “No.” Does a person wish to be swallowed up, or figuratively speaking, put under a microscope and sliced into a myriad of pieces? Nah…I’ll pass on that.

  470. Lydia wrote:

    One was, pray my new kitty acclimates to my house (a church staffer!).

    HA! That’s terrible. I think that comes from the ‘everyone must say something’ syndrome. Sometimes it’s ok to just say you don’t have any major stuff.

  471. ZechZav wrote:

    The royal command to “love your neighbour as yourself” was ignored whilst they focused on their “creational mandates of gender roles” and “predestination to heaven or hell!” And most of them were happy and complacent in their view that they were “the elect”.

    The Eternal Word of CALVIN.

  472. Law Prof wrote:

    I don’t need some 30 year old pastor in tight jeans and hipster glasses to tell me how to “do life”.

    Yep, there’s just something about a young whippersnapper trying to tell me how to do life who hasn’t done life himself yet! Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, but I like my preachers on the more seasoned side … a man of God who has been through the fire of experience who can speak with wisdom, rather than a know-it-all preacher boy who hasn’t experienced much of anything yet. Age doesn’t always equal wisdom, but it helps.

  473. One way to test the church is to ask some tough questions. For example ask them about homosexuality. These abusive church would often answer like Franklin Graham

    Rev. Graham: ‘You Cannot Stay Gay’ And ‘Call Yourself a Christian’ — Gays Must ‘Leave Their Sins’. Although a gay person can go to Heaven, the person must “repent” and “leave their sins” – “you cannot stay gay and continue to call yourself a Christian.” “We have allowed the enemy to come into our churches. We have to be so careful who we let our kids hang out with,” he said. “We have to be so careful who we let into the churches. You have immoral people that get into the churches and it begins to affect the others in the church and it is dangerous.”

    http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/michael-w-chapman/rev-graham-you-cannot-stay-gay-and-call-yourself-christian-gays-must-leave

    What is wrong with the above you ask? Well try replacing the word “gay” above with sins that we all face. Sins like jealousy, pride, greed, selfishness, stop loving God for 1 second and stop loving any of your neighbors for 1 second.

    Let me rephrase Franklin Graham for all of us: ‘You Cannot stop loving your neighbors for even 1 second’ And ‘Call Yourself a Christian’. You must ‘Leave your Sins’.

    A sin is a sin. The punishment for any sin big or small is eternal hell fire, without Jesus. If living a sinless life is a requirement for a Christian, it is salvation by WORKS. Never mix sanctification with salvation. They MUST always be clearly separated.

    So what is the correct stance for homosexuals? Here is my stance: A person that truly accepts Jesus as their lord and savior will be saved and go to heaven. If someone is a practicing homosexual but truly accepted Jesus, they will certainly be saved. Now I believe homosexuality is a sin. But sanctification is SEPARATE from salvation. It really isn’t a church’s job to church-police everyone and saying who is saved and not saved. God look at the heart and not works, and only God can see the heart.

    1) If the person agrees that homosexual is a sin, the church MUST LEAVE THEM ALONE. Let the Holy Spirit sanctify them.

    2) If the person disagrees that homosexual is a sin, but is private about their sins, the church should gently and politely talk to them to change their minds. NEVER even mention discipline. There is no ground for this here.

    3) But if the person is very proud of their homosexual way and is PUBLICLY trying to PROMOTE and ENCOURAGE this SINFUL way of life to everyone in the church, the church MUST discipline them. If they do not stop promoting sin, the church has no choice but excommunicate them. Because others members are being harmed and led astray, the church has no choice but to do Matthew 18. Once again this only applies when that person is so PROUD of their SINS that they are PUBLICLY PROMOTING and ENCOURAGING SIN.

    4) Next level is if this person starts illegally touching little kids to fulfill their homosexual desires, contact the POLICE immediately to send that person to jail. After they go to jail sent prison ministry to try to help them.

  474. I also would be cautious about any church where the rector has been there for a very long time, like 25 years or more. That’s usually a sign that he or she is wearing the golden handcuffs, or cannot move for some other reason. And people who have been in one place that long often feel an inappropriate level of ownership.

  475. @ CHIPS:

    This opens a whole can of worms where readers of this blog and similar blogs may differ. Nate Sparks, for example, takes a gay-friendly position and his articles on Romans are worth reading. Todd Wilhelm takes a more traditional position but I respect both of these guys as brothers in Christ and for their work in combating abuse from churches.

    As I have had to wrestle with this issue myself, I had to wrestle with the questions of why some people are born with “same sex attraction” and why they are not healed on conversion. I am now gay-affirming and I am happy to agree to disagree on this. If a church wants to take a position and say “We expect gay people to stay single but we will do everything to help them as a church family. We will provide for their emotional needs, create a program to ensure that they are not left isolated or alone, and will ensure that someone will visit them several times a week to ensure that they are. As we don’t allow them to have a partner (something we deem as an entitlement for ourselves) we have a moral obligation to do this…” I would have a lot of respect for a church that takes that position and makes personal sacrifices to “bear one anothers burdens.

    But it usually stops at the statement “we expect them to stay single!” Then they just leave them out in the cold whilst they close the door and spend time with their families. That was my experience and they did not care about my emotional health and did not visit me when I was unemployed for months, and when I was seriously ill. They only cared about my “sin” and probing me. Needless to say, I am now a “done”. And I am not going to engage in discussions with them.

    And your other point seems to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. That was offensive – many pedophiles are heterosexuals too. We have seen that time and again in many cases.

  476. ZechZav wrote:

    they did not care about my emotional health and did not visit me when I was unemployed for months, and when I was seriously ill. They only cared about my “sin” and probing me. Needless to say, I am now a “done”.

    I’d be ‘done’ with that kind of abuse too. That display of neglect and disrespect is not ‘Church’, nor ever could be. You didn’t leave the Church, you left the failures of some who professed Christ but had no fruit to prove their connection to Him: they refused to be missionaries of the mercy of God.

    They sinned against you. They are in need of repentance. May God have mercy on us all.

  477. Hello Wartburgers. Many of you are theologically confused, but I truly hope to see you all in glory. I’m no longer the pastor at Southshore Bible Church, my new church is Southview Baptist Church, Galion OH, so you’ll probably want to add this one to the list as well.

    Soli Deo Gloria

    Jason Austin

  478. Jason Austin wrote:

    Many of you are theologically confused,

    I am so glad to have someone of your theological prowess to let us know that we are “theologically confused.” However, as I have viewed the website of your previous church, I can also say that I have some theological concerns about you as well. I hope to see you in glory as well. Sola Sarcastica.

  479. Jason Austin wrote:

    my new church is Southview Baptist Church, Galion OH

    do they know they have taken on a neo-Cal????

    or are they in for the ‘stealth’ treatment?

  480. ZechZav wrote:

    This opens a whole can of worms where readers of this blog and similar blogs may differ. Nate Sparks, for example, takes a gay-friendly position and his articles on Romans are worth reading. Todd Wilhelm takes a more traditional position but I respect both of these guys as brothers in Christ and for their work in combating abuse from churches.
    As I have had to wrestle with this issue myself, I had to wrestle with the questions of why some people are born with “same sex attraction” and why they are not healed on conversion. I am now gay-affirming and I am happy to agree to disagree on this. If a church wants to take a position and say “We expect gay people to stay single but we will do everything to help them as a church family. We will provide for their emotional needs, create a program to ensure that they are not left isolated or alone, and will ensure that someone will visit them several times a week to ensure that they are. As we don’t allow them to have a partner (something we deem as an entitlement for ourselves) we have a moral obligation to do this…” I would have a lot of respect for a church that takes that position and makes personal sacrifices to “bear one anothers burdens.
    But it usually stops at the statement “we expect them to stay single!” Then they just leave them out in the cold whilst they close the door and spend time with their families. That was my experience and they did not care about my emotional health and did not visit me when I was unemployed for months, and when I was seriously ill. They only cared about my “sin” and probing me. Needless to say, I am now a “done”. And I am not going to engage in discussions with them.
    And your other point seems to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. That was offensive – many pedophiles are heterosexuals too. We have seen that time and again in many cases.

    I didn’t mean for this to turn into a discussion about homosexuality. I was just using homosexuality as an example. That a sinner can be actively sinning but yet still be saved if he/she accepts Jesus in their heart. Now of course the church should patiently and gently encourage that brother to stop their sins. But there shouldn’t be any mention of discipline, unless he/she is so PROUD as to ENCOURAGE SIN to others.

    I totally agree with you that if a church only cares about the sin but not care for the sinner, the church has lost and the love of God is not in them. This is when a church only talk to a homosexual person to make sure he/she isn’t practicing but doesn’t really care about his/her well being. Another example of this would be churches that are against abortion but will not lift a SINGLE finger to help out the mother and her baby. Hypocrites and Pharisees!

    As for my last point I didn’t mean that only homosexuals can be pedophiles. Heterosexuals can also be pedophiles. My point is that a church MUST’T harbor criminals. If someone committed a serious crime, sent that person to jail or even execution. Do not cover up for that criminal.

    Of course we have to be reasonable. For example let’s say John gave you a ride home from church. You see John sped by going 70 in a 60 zone. Do you call the cops on John? Of course not! Speeding is not a serious enough crime. But if you see John seriously drunk and driving, you should tell him to stop and let you drive instead. If he refuse maybe you do need to call the police to keep him and pedestrians safe. But if he only had 1 can of beer (not enough to be drunk) and he is clearly still sober and wants to drive, maybe you should let it go. Not everything is black and white as written in the bible. We have to discern base on how serious the situation.

  481. Jason Austin wrote:

    Hello Wartburgers. Many of you are theologically confused, but I truly hope to see you all in glory. I’m no longer the pastor at Southshore Bible Church, my new church is Southview Baptist Church, Galion OH, so you’ll probably want to add this one to the list as well.
    Soli Deo Gloria
    Jason Austin

    When you focus on glorifying God but forget to love your neighbors, you do not actually glorify God. You bring SHAME to God and turn non-believers away.

    Are your church filled with judgmental hypocrites? You really think someone is a better Christian by avoiding certain sins BUT FAILING the Greatest Commandment by not loving their neighbors?

    People who are nothing like Jesus liked Jesus. The worst sinners loved Jesus the most. And the church are supposed to be the body of Christ.

    Do not kid yourself. You cannot possibly hate your brother and love God. And it doesn’t matter how badly your brother has sinned.

    And do not kid yourself when you say “I only hurt him because I love him.” If it looks like abuse, it is abuse.

    You can trick the world, but God sees your heart.

  482. ZechZav wrote:

    And your other point seems to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. That was offensive – many pedophiles are heterosexuals too. We have seen that time and again in many cases.

    And I’ve heard of studies where same-sex pedos self-identify as straight (and arousal trigger testing seems to confirm it). What apparently attracts the same-sex pedo is the fact that pre-pubescent boys do NOT have masculine secondary sexual characteristics but feminine — high-pitched voice, no facial hair, smooth skin.

    However, same-sex ehebephiles (who go after post-pubescent but under legal age boys) DO self-identify as gay; in their case it’s just a gay version of a guy who goes after “jail bait”.

  483. Hello Wartburgers.

    Many of you are rubbish, but I hope to see you in glory anyway.

    Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.

    Up Yours,
    Roger Bombast