A Seminary President and Pastor Shares the Painful Story of His Son’s Struggle With Mental Illness

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. -C. S. Lewis link


Link

Last week, the President of the American Lutheran Theological Seminary(ALTS), Richard Shields, joined in on a Twitter conversation between Gwen Jorgensen, Julie Anne Smith, myself and others. He informed us that ALTS teaches seminary students about domestic violence and how to intervene in the church setting. 


I found his interest and concern about this problem most encouraging. Even within the limitations of Twitter, he exuded compassion. i quickly found out why. First, here is some background. I did not know the history of the American Lutheran Theological Seminary. I thought our readers might find some background information interesting since it is a relatively new organization.

American Association of Lutheran Churches 

At the AALC website, there is a What is Our Identity? section. if you visit there, you can also read their constitution, statements of faith, etc. One can see that the ALTS is located on the campus of Concordia Seminary in Indiana which demonstrates the close association between this group and the Missouri Synod.

Historical Continuity with the American Lutheran Church

Prior to 1988 there were three major Lutheran church bodies in America: Lutheran Church in America (LCA), Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LC-MS) and American Lutheran Church (ALC). On January 1, 1988 the LCA, the ALC and another smaller church body merged to form the largest Lutheran church body in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Twelve ALC congregations chose not to enter into the ELCA merger and prior to the merger, on November 7, 1987, formed their own Lutheran church body, The American Association of Lutheran Churches (The AALC). The pastors and congregations held firmly that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and they saw the ELCA moving further away from that foundation. From 1987 to 2009, The AALC has grown from 12 congregations to over 60 congregations and formed their own seminary, American Lutheran Theological Seminary (ALTS), which is now located on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Relationship with Other churches

For many decades, many of the Lutheran church bodies cooperated on social ministry ventures. In 1969 the LC-MS and the ALC declared formal Altar and Pulpit Fellowship, where members could commune at each other's altars and pastors could preach in each other's pulpits. However, problems soon developed; in December 1970 the ALC set aside the Scriptural understanding of the pastoral ministry by ordaining women as pastors. At that point the partnership between the ALC and the LC-MS began to disintegrate, until fellowship was broken in 1981.

With the formation of The AALC in 1987, however, there was renewed interest in reestablishing fellowship. In 1989 representatives from The AALC and the LC-MS began informal talks exploring the possibility of Altar and Pulpit Fellowship. In 2007 the two church bodies at their national conventions voted to formally declare that they were substantially in doctrinal agreement and established Altar and Pulpit Fellowship.

Today, The AALC continues in the proud conservative ALC tradition, open to receive confessional pastors and congregations that may desire to walk together with us.


Empathy and understanding forged by pain

I found his empathy touching and wondered about his other writings. 

He referred me to his website called “believe, teach, and confess” where he describes himself.

I am a Christian who confesses the faith as a Lutheran. Currently I serve as pastor of a Lutheran congregation. I blog about our life together. I also serve as seminary president/professor, training men to be pastors and men and women to be deacons/deaconess, as well as providing ongoing training for those already serving as pastors.

My wife and I have been married since 1971. We have two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. We have moved 28 times. Not sure what I will be when I grow up.

I read the following story about his son and I was deeply moved by his raw honesty. He gave me permission to reprint it if i felt it could help others.  I cannot thank him enough for allowing us to offer this here.

Too Close, Too Hurtful, Too Important link

I write this not as medical person, nor a pastor, nor as disinterested third party. I write as a father, a participant, a sufferer, and in a sense a target. It is not pleasant, and there are few bright spots in this story.

The Trigger

The movie Bringing Ashley Home has been shown a few times over the past year, the latest yesterday morning (09/22/2012). It is a Lifetime Movie based on Libba Phillips. The true story follows Libba’s journey of locating her missing sister Ashley, a process that began in 1999. Prior to her disappearance Ashley had been diagnosed as Bi-Polar. When Ashley went missing, there was little help for the family. As Libba described it:

When Ashley went missing, my family did what most families would do. We appealed to authorities to file a missing persons report. It seemed simple enough. Ashley was missing. For the next four years, this report went unfiled. We searched for Ashley on our own.

No one seemed to care about a missing homeless woman who appeared to be choosing to live on the streets. And to others, she was nothing more than a drug addict whose disappearance was not deemed worthy of an official investigation.

I began to realize that if Ashley was not listed as missing, the odds of her ever being found and helped, if she indeed was still alive and lost somewhere on the streets among the homeless, were slim at best. The odds of her body being identified if she was dead were even lower.

Everywhere she turned there was no help. As she investigated, she made contact with others who ran into similar problems locating missing persons. Eventually Libba founded Outpost for Hope to help other people find the “missing missing persons” and “kids off the grid”.

The Connection

The first time I saw the movie, it was almost too close to home to watch. But I did watch, with tears streaming every ten minutes. I recognized so much of what Libba and her family went through with Ashley. The sleepless weeks, the efforts to drive the streets, not sure who or what we would find. Occasionally getting phone calls from police departments in surrounding communities, telling us that our son was arrested. Calls came at 11:00 PM, 1:00 AM, 3 AM, you name it. And fearing the next call that may have been his death notice.

In 1985 our older son (at the time 15) was diagnosed as Bi-Polar. That “official” diagnosis gave us some understanding of what had been a disastrous five years prior to that. We had experienced life with him through those five years, prior to the diagnosis—and it was not easy. Not one holiday or birthday or anniversary was enjoyable. We knew that 2-3 days prior to the event our son would go into the slide that would destroy any kind of home life or happy event. Drugs became part of his scene at age 14, and remains a problem even today.

Even the diagnosis was little help, as the intensity of his episodes increased. I remember driving the streets of the several cities near where we lived, hoping to find a glimpse of him, whether on a street corner, under a pile of cardboard boxes. Within two years it was not safe for us. Sadly I had to have him arrested in our own apartment. I still cringe when I think that I had to have my own son arrested. How could I do that? How could I not do that?

For years we had lived with guilt. Did we do something to aggravate him? Was I saying the wrong things as a father? (I still look back and wonder…)

We lived with fear. What would he do next? Would our own lives be in danger? Did I act too soon? Did I do enough?

We lived with shame. My sense of failure as a father increased to the point where it was difficult to discuss family with friends or acquaintances or even extended family, because it was always focused on this prodigal son, and his latest disruptive episodes. And that was too painful.

When he was 16, after I had him arrested, we had him put into a psychiatric hospital, eventually transferring him to a long term psychiatric facility. As long as he was on his meds, he was reasonable. We saw him only once during that 14 months. Eventually (when he was 17) he could check himself out legally, so I drove cross country to pick him up. And he lived with us for a few months before we had to ask him to leave.

From 1987 to the present he has been in prison at least four times, mixed up with drugs almost continuously, nearly died twice in accidents. We went 10 years not hearing from him, not knowing whether he was alive or dead. In the last 14 years we have spoken face-to-face with him one time, 4 1/2 years ago. And no contact since June 2011. We don’t know where he is, but we suspect he is back in prison if not dead. We pray for him, for his life, and for salvation.

Wounded Healer

This section heading comes from the book The Wounded Healer by Henri J.M. Nouwen (1979). Ministry to, for, and especially with, people means that we join people in their suffering and hurting lives. Only then can we speak to the heart and the hurt.

For me, the wounds of the past 30+ years are deep, so deep that I seldom discuss much of this even with close friends. Many did not know what to say or do, and the distance between us increased. Some friends walked with us through many years of our turmoil. We thank God for those who were close to us, even when I could not respond. It was a long, lonely walk, but these faithful people were God’s instruments with the right mix of hope, peace, and comfort when we needed it most. Often they listened and cried with us.

As one who has been wounded deeply (and I have not shared any of the bad stuff), I have found the past three decades to be difficult, painful, sobering, and many times discouraging. When I saw the movie, Bringing Ashley Home the first time last year, and again yesterday morning, I was flooded with so many memories of what we had endured, and the tears flowed again. I could so identify with Libba and her struggles with Ashley. And I can identify with all the others who have experienced similar problems. My heart goes out to any family member who walked this road or who is just beginning this road. I am so glad that Libba founded Outpost for Hope; there has been and still is a great need. If you are in this situation, contact Outpost for Hope, now!

If you see someone that might be going through such a crisis, and you ask how they are, don’t be surprised if they give a tight smile and say “Fine.” To say anything more might open a floodgate of emotions they might not contain. I know, I have lived that existence. But don’t give up on them, either. They need to talk to, cry with, hold on to, or silently sit with someone. Maybe God has placed you right there for such a time.

The Ultimate Outpost

The ultimate outpost for hope is Jesus Christ. He is not a crutch, a scapegoat, or even a helpless “friend.” He came into this world for this very reason: to endure and share in our temptations (Hebrews 4:15), suffering (Hebrews 2:18), and ultimately to die because of our sins (1 Peter 3:18), so that we might have life with God forever.

Yes, we have temporary afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17), and they can be life threatening (2 Corinthians 11). But we know that because of what Jesus has done, nothing can separate us from the love of God, not life, not death, not cancer, not Bi-Polar disorders, nothing! And that is true comfort. As Paul wrote:

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in your endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 HCSB)

If you have been wounded, may you find healing in Jesus Christ. No wound is too deep, no scar too hardened, that Jesus cannot touch and heal. And while it seems impossible now, you might be God’s next wounded healer.

Come, this outpost is always open for someone like you, and for your family member who is missing.


Comments

A Seminary President and Pastor Shares the Painful Story of His Son’s Struggle With Mental Illness — 200 Comments

  1. Very powerful article.

    I am so glad that his son’s bipolar wasn’t compounded by that dangerous form of “Biblical Counseling” called Nouthetic Counseling which many churches (NeoCalvinist for instance) are now using to great peril including for mental illness, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.

  2. Velour wrote:

    I am so glad that his son’s bipolar wasn’t compounded by that dangerous form of “Biblical Counseling” called Nouthetic Counseling which many churches (NeoCalvinist for instance) are now using to great peril including for mental illness, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.

    You are so right, Velour! I also think that the Nouthetic counseling nonsense also hides under the name of ACBC now (or is slightly separate), an absolute disaster of a false-gospel based (Neo-Calvinistas) lot that claim they can heal ANYTHING. How many times have I heard THAT line before? Yes, the “counseling” a friend got from a “certified” (I always giggle when I see the certified bit, as though that counts for pumpkins and gravy on rye bread) counselor was atrocious. Anyway, the advice was pornographic, immoral, filthy, and utterly disgusting. but it was God’s will because there was sin, blah blah. And there was a husband with “needs.” And the husband’s mentally sick needs needed help first. Tough glove if you were the wife.
    Sorry for getting slightly graphic, but hey, ACBC is a modern-day panacea! A wonder cure!

    Seriously, though, I am very happy this son’s very real bipolar was not shot up another ten levels by ACBC or any other forms of “Biblical Counseling.” (Velour, why do those Neo-Cals have such a thing for smutty, unnatural sex? All the time?) What’s the deal there? Oh, wait, I see…they CAN’T help it…it’s been predetermined. Kill me softly with a song…any song.

    Yes, the only hope is Christ. There is no other hope, so don’t run after something else, dear people!

  3. Velour wrote:

    Nouthetic Counseling

    I agree. Can you imagine someone in the throws of mental illness and being told it is because of their sin(s).

  4. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Nouthetic Counseling
    I agree. Can you imagine someone in the throws of mental illness and being told it is because of their sin(s).

    i.e. Recipe for suicide right there.

    “Bi-Polar” used to be called “Manic-Depressive” as the classic symptoms were extreme mood swings – manic “Top of the World, Ma!” periods alternating with periods of clinical depression. Add a Nouthetic “I Know I’m Right – I Have a Verse!” sin-sniff on the downswing and…

  5. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Nouthetic Counseling
    I agree. Can you imagine someone in the throws of mental illness and being told it is because of their sin(s).

    And equally bad, as I learned, Nouthetic Counselors/pastors-elders like those at my ex-church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley (GBFSV) blame other people for somebody’s problems because they frame everything as “sin”.

    The pastors/elders at GBFSV, my ex-church, blamed me and other church members for the problems of an older alcoholic woman church member. They never got her to a physician to supervise her care and treatment for alcoholism. They forced church members like me, however, into months of meetings in which we had to listen to their insufferable lectures, complete with their drawing pictures about “gossip” and scripture verses on a chalkboard. The pastors/elders harmed the older woman alcoholic, her adult children, and church members by not dealing with the real problem and getting proper, professional, medical help.

    The pastors/elders also blamed me for a woman church member’s Dyslexia problems: short-term memory problems, working memory problems, and auditory memory problems. She doesn’t believe in medical care for her major memory problems nor in attending special support groups for her severe disability. When it all went wrong, and it frequently did (i.e. her memory) she accused other people of “lying” stating that entire events and conversations had never taken place. The enraged pastors/elders agreed. I finally turned in the pastors/elders to the California Medical Board for the Unlicensed Practice of Medicine, a crime in California since they are diagnosing medical problems. (The Dyslexic, by the way, failed school, can’t work due to the severity of her disability, gets a monthly disability check from the Social Security Administration and was medically diagnosed to get it, and has been receiving it for thirty years. Still the pastors/elders insist that it’s all somebody else’s sin.)

  6. I found his interest and concern about this problem most encouraging. Even within the limitations of Twitter, he exuded compassion. i quickly found out why.

    Because HE’S BEEN THERE.

    No Job’s Counselors step-and-jive when You’ve Been There.

  7. Velour wrote:

    mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Nouthetic Counseling
    I agree. Can you imagine someone in the throws of mental illness and being told it is because of their sin(s).

    And equally bad, as I learned, Nouthetic Counselors/pastors-elders like those at my ex-church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley (GBFSV) blame other people for somebody’s problems because they frame everything as “sin”.

    The pastors/elders at GBFSV, my ex-church, blamed me and other church members for the problems of an older alcoholic woman church member. They never got her to a physician to supervise her care and treatment for alcoholism. They forced church members like me, however, into months of meetings in which we had to listen to their insufferable lectures, complete with their drawing pictures about “gossip” and scripture verses on a chalkboard. The pastors/elders harmed the older woman alcoholic, her adult children, and church members by not dealing with the real problem and getting proper, professional, medical help.

    The pastors/elders also blamed me for a woman church member’s Dyslexia problems: short-term memory problems, working memory problems, and auditory memory problems. She doesn’t believe in medical care for her major memory problems nor in attending special support groups for her severe disability. When it all went wrong, and it frequently did (i.e. her memory) she accused other people of “lying” stating that entire events and conversations had never taken place. The enraged pastors/elders agreed. I finally turned in the pastors/elders to the California Medical Board for the Unlicensed Practice of Medicine, a crime in California since they are diagnosing medical problems. (The Dyslexic, by the way, failed school, can’t work due to the severity of her disability, gets a monthly disability check from the Social Security Administration and was medically diagnosed to get it, and has been receiving it for thirty years. Still the pastors/elders insist that it’s all somebody else’s sin.)

    These monsters are beyond the word dangerous. This is 2017 not 1517.

  8. I can’t tell you how much I needed this. I have a child with a serious mental illness, similar to what this man described. Thank God, I caught it young, and insisted on being taken seriously. She has been in therapy, on various medications, and even hospitalized once. She is an amazing kid, but life is so hard. I’ve also been through a divorce (from an abusive husband) in the last few years, have an older child with disabilities, and deal with poor health myself.

    Through this, there have been a very, very small handful of Christian “friends” who have stuck by me. My daughter and I have experienced subtle, but powerful, shunning from a Christian theater group. We no longer attend church because it is just too painful, and so many PTSD triggers. In short, I would love to be able to share my heart honestly with other Christians, but I can’t. Most don’t want to hear it, for whatever reason. And while intellectually, I know that failure of God’s people doesn’t mean failure of God, in my heart and my gut they’re inextricably interwoven. I am unable to receive any comfort from God, and even wonder now if he’s real.

    I’m glad this man is speaking out. I wish more people would hear.

  9. mot wrote:

    These monsters are beyond the word dangerous. This is 2017 not 1517.

    No kidding.

    My ex-senior pastor at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley insisted on being called “Dr. McManis.” As former church members and I learned, his “Ph.D.” (Phony Degree) and his other “advanced” degree are both fakes issued by a diploma mill in Independence, Missouri. The U.S. Department of Education, Missouri Attorney General, and Missouri Department of Education confirmed it was a diploma mill and the degrees are fakes.

    Church members were suspicious by how inept and uneducated he was and so they started digging, as did I when I had problems with him. So here’s a guy with fake degrees giving advice about major problems that he has no training or education to render. Unconscionable. And he’s not sorry to deceive people.

  10. Boston Lady wrote:

    Yes, the “counseling” a friend got from a “certified” (I always giggle when I see the certified bit, as though that counts for pumpkins and gravy on rye bread) counselor was atrocious. Anyway, the advice was pornographic, immoral, filthy, and utterly disgusting. but it was God’s will because there was sin, blah blah. And there was a husband with “needs.”

    “Needs” as in Urrges in his Arreas for heavy-duty Sicko Kink?

  11. Boston Lady wrote:

    I also think that the Nouthetic counseling nonsense also hides under the name of ACBC now (or is slightly separate), an absolute disaster of a false-gospel based (Neo-Calvinistas) lot that claim they can heal ANYTHING.

    Spot on, Boston Lady.

  12. @ Velour:
    With Preachers, assume a Ph.D. is Honorary/FAKE until PROVEN otherwise.
    It’s the only way to be safe.
    (And if Preacher insists on being addressed as “Doctor” 24/7 as if it’s his actual name, you don’t need any proof — it’s Guaranteed FAKE.)

  13. Persephone wrote:

    Through this, there have been a very, very small handful of Christian “friends” who have stuck by me. My daughter and I have experienced subtle, but powerful, shunning from a Christian theater group. We no longer attend church because it is just too painful, and so many PTSD triggers. In short, I would love to be able to share my heart honestly with other Christians, but I can’t. Most don’t want to hear it, for whatever reason. And while intellectually, I know that failure of God’s people doesn’t mean failure of God, in my heart and my gut they’re inextricably interwoven. I am unable to receive any comfort from God, and even wonder now if he’s real.

    Thank you for sharing. Two quick comments:

    1) When I wrote this article in 2013 I was concerned about how the congregation would respond. Shame and guilt were kicking in full force. But the people were very open. Just like when I wrote about depression (which I have battled for 50 years), they were so thankful that someone understood their challenges. It has opened the door to ministry.

    2) When going through this with our son for the past 39 years and my total breakdown (and stepped away from ministry), I found church as one of the loneliest places to be. I felt on the fringe. As a result as I began to regain some sanity, I realized that many in the church are on the fringe, hurting and wanting to be part of the group, but unable to do so, because of issues on both sides. I wrote a blog post about “Have you hugged your porcupine?” to emphasis how challenging it can be. It’s never easy, but by being passive person on the fringe, I began to see what true Christian ministry can be.

    God’s blessings to you in your situation. Can’t know exactly what you feel, but God has not given up on you. This Bible passage was a lifeline for me.

    Psalm 34:18
    The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
    And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

    Was exactly in that spot.

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    @ Velour:
    With Preachers, assume a Ph.D. is Honorary/FAKE until PROVEN otherwise.
    It’s the only way to be safe.
    (And if Preacher insists on being addressed as “Doctor” 24/7 as if it’s his actual name, you don’t need any proof — it’s Guaranteed FAKE.)

    H.U.G.,

    Hindsight is 20/20 vision. I didn’t know I’d meet such pathological liars at church. Some of the church elders are employed by large Silicon Valley corporations as engineers and I know that their own companies would never tolerate academic deceit. Lying on an application means no hire. If you somehow made it through the vetting process and the lying is discovered about academic credentials, you’re fired. And we’ve seen high-up people all over the news for lying about their academic credentials.

  15. Persephone wrote:

    My daughter and I have experienced subtle, but powerful, shunning from a Christian theater group. We no longer attend church because it is just too painful, and so many PTSD triggers. In short, I would love to be able to share my heart honestly with other Christians, but I can’t. Most don’t want to hear it, for whatever reason.

    This is heart-breaking to read.

    Whatever ‘Church’ is or is not, it should be a safe place where troubled people can find sanctuary.

    To be able to be present to someone, to remain silent and just listen. We don’t know how to do this very well, I’m afraid. And it a ministry that is so needed.

  16. @ Rich Shields:
    Bro. Shields,
    You are (unfortunately or fortunately? Depends on how you look at it?) in the ideal position to educate/ inform / help others. May God bless you and your family for having the courage to come forward with your experiences.

  17. Dale wrote:

    This is somewhat off topic, but I just wanted Wartburgers to know that I wrote a review of Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church on Amazon. If you would like to read it, here is the link:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1BSWXNNXAYJ2P/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1433539985#R1BSWXNNXAYJ2P

    Jonathan Leeman wrote an entire article about my Amazon review of 9 Marks under the name “Grace”. Leeman got pounced on by astute Christians and 9 Marxists cowards shut down comments.

  18. Rich Shields wrote:

    I found church as one of the loneliest places to be. I felt on the fringe.

    This is so true for so many.

    At my ex-church (authoritarian, NeoCalvinist, 9 Marxist, John MacArthur-ite) I was a safe person that many people confided in. They told me that they would not confide in anyone else.

    I was glad to be a safe person. I was also deeply saddened that there weren’t other safe people to shoulder the burdens.

  19. @ Dale:
    Great review Dale! And accurate assessment of the authoritarian patriarchal system awaiting folks who are thinking about checking out New Calvinist churches – they should view your words as a warning.

    “In our preaching, we stand in the place of God” (Mark Dever). Whew, that’s quite a statement! Pope Dever!

    Your concluding words say it all: “Mr. Dever … I fear you have created a puritanical system that has caused much harm to the Body of Christ.” If/when the dust of New Calvinism settles, the evangelical church will have its work cut out for them to reach the thousands of disillusioned who finally wake up to the deception.

  20. Here is the longer quote from Mr. Dever it may not be exact.
    “If in our preaching we stand in the place of God, giving his Word by his Spirit to his people, then surely it is appropriate that it be one-sided—not that it should be one-sided in the sense that the one preaching is never to be questioned; but, in the event of preaching itself, …something of a serious engagement with the great truths of the Bible and with the context today will come through. ” (1)

    It still is troubling and in actual practice, in my opinion, I think some of these folks think they are actually speaking directly from God just by quoting some biblical text then expounding on it.

    1. http://tinyurl.com/deverquote

  21. The dyslexia that I deal with was always seen as me wanting attention and feeling sorry for myself when I asked I E could not see something like a map or I got it mixed up. Yup I was faking it.

  22. Boston Lady wrote:

    You are so right, Velour! I also think that the Nouthetic counseling nonsense also hides under the name of ACBC now (or is slightly separate), an absolute disaster of a false-gospel based (Neo-Calvinistas) lot that claim they can heal ANYTHING. How many times have I heard THAT line before? Yes, the “counseling” a friend got from a “certified” (I always giggle when I see the certified bit, as though that counts for pumpkins and gravy on rye bread) counselor was atrocious. Anyway, the advice was pornographic, immoral, filthy, and utterly disgusting. but it was God’s will because there was sin, blah blah. And there was a husband with “needs.” And the husband’s mentally sick needs needed help first. Tough glove if you were the wife.

    At the risk of being redundant, what you have said here, Boston Lady, reminds me of that Biblical Gender Roles guy. The fellas on there justify watching porn and lewd acts with their wives and have the nerve to slap it with a “biblical” sticker. And while they may seem to be the extremists, just look at how popular Mark Driscoll – the potty mouthed, sex obsessed pastor of Mars Hill Church, was with the Reformed crowd. He was able to get away with saying some of the most salacious things and the Calvinist Boyz Club still defended him because he “preached the gospel.”

  23. mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Nouthetic Counseling
    I agree. Can you imagine someone in the throws of mental illness and being told it is because of their sin(s).

    I can do more than imagine it, I witnessed it in my former Christian cult. Such perverse counseling can lead a person into deep despair, as was the case with my husband. It is not our job as Christians to play with people’s hearts, to ignore their suffering and label it as something displeasing to God, or to crush a person by issuing false judgments that can cause them to give up on life entirely. Our words carry with them healing or cursing. Nouthetic counseling is harmful to the vulnerable who are struggling with real life issues. Never submit to counseling until you do a background check and find out what the counselor’s philosophy is and where they earned their degree/s.

  24. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    mot wrote:
    Velour wrote:
    Nouthetic Counseling
    I agree. Can you imagine someone in the throws of mental illness and being told it is because of their sin(s).
    i.e. Recipe for suicide right there.

    Add a Nouthetic “I Know I’m Right – I Have a Verse!” sin-sniff on the downswing and…

    Much harm can be done in the name of: “I have a Verse!”

  25. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I found his interest and concern about this problem most encouraging. Even within the limitations of Twitter, he exuded compassion. i quickly found out why.
    Because HE’S BEEN THERE.
    No Job’s Counselors step-and-jive when You’ve Been There.

    Which is why so many here at The Wartburg Watch actually understand the dynamics of spiritual abuse, domestic abuse, and child sex abuse. They have experienced it or know someone who has. In other words, we’ve “BEEN THERE.”

  26. Darlene wrote:

    Nouthetic counseling is harmful to the vulnerable who are struggling with real life issues. Never submit to counseling until you do a background check and find out what the counselor’s philosophy is and where they earned their degree/s.

    There is a great deal of wisdom in this.

    Everything that I told in Nouthetic Counseling, which I was forced into by the pastors/elders, was in turn told to hundreds of church members and used against me for the pastors/elders to lie about me, including the senior pastor with his fake Ph.D.

  27. Darlene wrote:

    Nouthetic counseling is harmful to the vulnerable who are struggling with real life issues. Never submit to counseling until you do a background check and find out what the counselor’s philosophy is and where they earned their degree/s.

    It’s not just mental illness. I had a nouthetic counselor tell me in missions induction that I must have some unrepentant sin because I have a physical illness. I think he was more of the charismatic word of faith ilk, but I think it can be a conclusion of the authoritarian churches as well.

    I really don’t know how counseling would have grown back my thyroid, though. I wasn’t even a Christian when it was taken out. Do I believe it’s possible? Yes. Do I believe God will do it at this point? Not really. It’s not like they don’t have thyroid medicine in Japan.

  28. Thank you so much, Dee, for covering this subject, and Mr. Shields, thank you so much for opening your heart and sharing your experience. I’ve gone through some tough times in the past where the reaction from church people really made me feel alone. The illusion that so many try to maintain in the church of perfect families and perfect lives leaves us all to suffer in isolation when things go wrong.

    When I saw the movie, Bringing Ashley Home the first time last year, and again yesterday morning, I was flooded with so many memories of what we had endured, and the tears flowed again. I could so identify with Libba and her struggles with Ashley. And I can identify with all the others who have experienced similar problems.

    This is why it’s so important for us to be able to share the reality of our lives. It’s when people can step out and be open about their pain that we find we are not alone after all, and we experience fellowship and hope.

    The ultimate outpost for hope is Jesus Christ. He is not a crutch, a scapegoat, or even a helpless “friend.” He came into this world for this very reason: to endure and share in our temptations (Hebrews 4:15), suffering (Hebrews 2:18), and ultimately to die because of our sins (1 Peter 3:18), so that we might have life with God forever.

    Hearing this testimony from someone who has actually known depths of suffering is so meaningful. Thank you.

  29. Darlene wrote:

    mot wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Nouthetic Counseling
    I agree. Can you imagine someone in the throws of mental illness and being told it is because of their sin(s).

    I can do more than imagine it, I witnessed it in my former Christian cult. Such perverse counseling can lead a person into deep despair, as was the case with my husband. It is not our job as Christians to play with people’s hearts, to ignore their suffering and label it as something displeasing to God, or to crush a person by issuing false judgments that can cause them to give up on life entirely. Our words carry with them healing or cursing. Nouthetic counseling is harmful to the vulnerable who are struggling with real life issues. Never submit to counseling until you do a background check and find out what the counselor’s philosophy is and where they earned their degree/s.

    I am so sorry that you all had to experience this,

  30. After reading the comments on Nouthetic counseling which is now called ACBC, it is clear that those making the majority of the comments don’t know what it is. I challenge you to look at their website and look at the requirements for certification. Our church recently set up an ACBC counseling center with the help of an attorney. Our counselors went through three years of rigorous study. All have at least a bachelor’s degree besides the ACBC certification. Cases such as bipolar are not touched because of the issue of medication, physical ailments are not assessed. To say you have physical ailments because of sin is NOT apart of the counseling process. It is a shame that in the past people have received some bad counseling. I challenge you to take another look at ACBC. We have seen some wonderful results at our church and we have a waiting list of hurting people who desire to know what scripture says and how it can help bring them back to wholeness. We aren’t a Bible thumping people shaming church. We believe God’s word brings people to wholeness, it heals through the power of God’s love. And again, where complicated diagnosises are concerned such as bipolar, we know this takes someone with a medical degree. There are limits to ACBC counseling and that is stressed in the training.Also, we don’t charge for any of the counseling. It is a ministry of our church. Nor do we force anyone to take the counseling. I just want you to know that there are churches out who aren’t damaging people’s lives through Biblical counseling, but instead are offering hope. On another thread some of you were wondering if there are any small friendly churches left which welcome you in with the love of Jesus. Well there are. We are one of them.

  31. Martha wrote:

    After reading the comments on Nouthetic counseling which is now called ACBC, it is clear that those making the majority of the comments don’t know what it is.

    I know what it is. I was forced to go through the barbaric, idiotic, incompetent, dangerous Nouthetic Counseling by people with sub-par Bible school “college degrees” who didn’t know what they were doing. The damage was off the charts. The founder of this form of counseling — Jay Adams — in my opinion is a very dangerous man for ever proposing such nonsense and not telling people to see competent, trained, licensed professionals.

  32. Martha wrote:

    know what scripture says

    Martha wrote:

    someone with a medical degree

    Yes to scripture or Biblical expertise.
    Yes, to science or medical and researched behavioral expertise.
    The Bible and scientific expertise should work together; one does not replace the other. Thus, additive instead of replacement.

    Don Bierle, http://amzn.to/2jcdlnH, was famously “Surprised by Faith” as a renowned scientist when he was brought to his knees by the Spirit of God in humility and became a Christian. He still holds to his researched scientific work but has added the dimension of his Biblical faith.

    Perhaps it is appropriate for some who have used the Bible to replace expertise and skills in medicine and/or behavioral sciences, to humbly recognize and avail use of those highly skilled in areas outside of their own Biblical expertise.

    As Creator, God is the God of the Bible and the physical universe. He has given revelation and skills to experts in both arenas – the Bible and scientific research – for the benefit of all.

    Gratitude to the clergyman of the post who has shared his story, in true humility and love, for the benefit of all. God bless you a hundredfold, and your family.

  33. Oh, good, I’m glad you shared Rich’s story, Dee. I had a lengthy private Twitter conversation with Rich, and he is the real deal with a heart of gold.

    I think those (of us) who have gone through difficult times are often more aware of those who may be burdened with heavy loads. It’s a “know that you know” kind of thing when you meet someone, and when you are on the other side, it’s a lot easier to reach out and connect – – – – because you’ve been there and you have experienced the pain of being feeling alone. I’m glad to have met Rich through Twitter, and I love how he publicly and privately defends the sheep 🙂

  34. Boston Lady wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    I am so glad that his son’s bipolar wasn’t compounded by that dangerous form of “Biblical Counseling” called Nouthetic Counseling which many churches (NeoCalvinist for instance) are now using to great peril including for mental illness, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.
    You are so right, Velour! I also think that the Nouthetic counseling nonsense also hides under the name of ACBC now (or is slightly separate), an absolute disaster of a false-gospel based (Neo-Calvinistas) lot that claim they can heal ANYTHING. How many times have I heard THAT line before? Yes, the “counseling” a friend got from a “certified” (I always giggle when I see the certified bit, as though that counts for pumpkins and gravy on rye bread) counselor was atrocious. Anyway, the advice was pornographic, immoral, filthy, and utterly disgusting. but it was God’s will because there was sin, blah blah. And there was a husband with “needs.” And the husband’s mentally sick needs needed help first. Tough glove if you were the wife.

    Boston Lady, I am reminded of the Biblical Gender Roles guy, who some think to be at the extremist end of Complemetarianism. Should anyone lurk over there in the comment section for very long, they will see a pattern wherein the manly men have an affinity for porn and what husbands have the right to expect from their wives in the bedroom. And it’s all done with an approved biblical sticker. And while these folks may seem to be extremist, I think all we need do is point to the popularity of Mark Driscoll in his heyday. He was able to get away with saying some of the most salacious things, and in the process degrading women. But he had the support of his Neo-Calvinist fan boys like Chandler, Piper, Keller, Carson, MacDonald and Dever to mention a few. They were willing to overlook Driscoll’s misogyny and disrespectful remarks about women because he “preached the gospel.”

  35. Martha wrote:

    On another thread some of you were wondering if there are any small friendly churches left which welcome you in with the love of Jesus. Well there are. We are one of them.

    Martha: “Since you are putting your church out there as one of those that is friendly and helpful to those that are hurting, welcoming them with the “love of Jesus,” would you be willing to say what church it that you attend?

  36. Martha wrote:

    I challenge you to look at their website and look at the requirements for certification.

    I have previously looked at their website. They are grossly incompetent in my opinion and downright dangerous.

  37. Martha wrote:

    I challenge you to look at their website and look at the requirements for certification. Our church recently set up an ACBC counseling center with the help of an attorney. Our counselors went through three years of rigorous study. All have at least a bachelor’s degree besides the ACBC certification.

    Are they state certified? If not, their careers are also at the whim of the church and a narrow interpretation of scripture. Three years of study to be stuck in that box?

    I get to see what passes for “biblical counseling” (They don’t call it Nouthetic anymore because of the bad reputation) out of SBTS. Mohler trashed the former counseling program which included state certification and was essentially a Master’s degree.

    It is basically an unaccredited program like many IFB bible colleges. I can’t believe people pay for it.

  38. Martha wrote:

    We have seen some wonderful results at our church and we have a waiting list of hurting people who desire to know what scripture says and how it can help bring them back to wholeness.

    I find this thinking especially troubling unless the counseling clients are illiterate or cannot own a bible. Perhaps what you meant to say is a –list of people waiting who want to know what someone else teaches scripture means for them?

    Are they never told they have access to the same Holy Spirit when it comes to scripture understanding? I totally disagree with the father of Nouthetic counseling, Jay Adams, on quite a few interpretations. In fact, I once heard him blatantly add to scripture while teaching a room full of people. He boldly added a step to Matthew 18 that is not there but very self serving to controlling leaders.

    This is for all believers…
    27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. 1 John 2.

  39. Thank you for this post. I’ve enjoyed Jordan Cooper’s podcasts, and I appreciate Mr. Shields being willing to share. I wish the nearest AALC church wasn’t almost an hour away from my house.

    What I find disturbing, and am wondering about is, is there absolutely no place they can have their son permanently committed where he can be properly cared for by professionals? Are those places completely gone? I’d heard there was a move back in the 70s to deinstitutionalize a lot of people because of past abuses, apparently. (I say apparently because I’ve wondered if there was an issue with dwindling resources, as well.) Whatever used to be the case, there will always be some individuals who really cannot handle themselves nor can their families. Perhaps the pendulum can be swung back halfway.

  40. @Lydia
    The majority of those who come for counseling are from outside our church. They usually attend a church that minimizes the use of scripture and therefore really know very little about what scripture actually says. They want to know. I find your remark about them being illiterate really insulting. And of course they have a Bible or they are given one.
    If you ask anyone who recently has been trained in ACBC you will find out Jay Adam’s material is no longer used It is acknowledged that it resulted in some bad counseling. Is there no room to allow for improvement in an organization?
    I also want to mention the pastor of our church who is also a counselor and set up the counseling center has a mdiv and a doctorate in ministry and has been preaching and studying God’s word for over 30 years. We all are encouraged to study and to discuss God’s word at our church. We don’t aimlessly follow the leader. There are churches like ours out there.

  41. @ Martha:
    What kind of training do your church’s counsellors have? Do you have both male and female counsellors?
    I went to a Christian marriage counselor, but she was not associated with any particular church, and she is a former Marine with a Master’s degree in counseling from a secular college. Great lady!

  42. Martha wrote:

    If you ask anyone who recently has been trained in ACBC you will find out Jay Adam’s material is no longer used It is acknowledged that it resulted in some bad counseling. Is there no room to allow for improvement in an organization?

    Is there room for improvement, and is improvement possible, yes. But, you are fairly insulting to us as well, in thinking we don’t know anything about it. Most of us have encountered ACBC counselors, and yes, the one who told me that I needed to get biblical counseling to fix my sin to regrow my thyroid had an ACBC certification.

    Your assertions that your church has to be doing it right isn’t a good enough reason. There are people with MDivs and doctorates who are destroying churches right now, and I think there’s a lot of reason to be cautious. You seem to think we should immediately accept what you say just because your church does it. It’s not going to make anyone here believe you. People come on here all the time and say stuff like this, and a week later, their pastor is found out doing something really awful. You have to give facts, not personal experiences. What has changed? Why? What are the guidelines now? How are graduates assessed psychologically themselves? And most importantly, what is their theology?

    The fact of the matter is that there are people with ACBC certifications who are abusive and using their certifications in abusive churches, even recent graduates. I went to seminary, where there was no process for establishing psychological stability in its graduates. And whether you like it or not, there are a lot of Christians who claim to have studied the Bible for years who have very skewed theology.

    But I saw Lydia’s point, which you did not address, and that was that mature Christians are beyond biblical counseling. I think for someone without any mental illness, just learning proper basic theology can put someone on the right track.

    Biblical counseling does not, and can not, solve a lot of problems. There’s a lot of mental illnesses besides being bipolar. There’s not a single class in identifying those issues in ACBC training, which tells me that you are putting way too much stock in the ability of graduates to determine if someone is in need of medical help. I’m sorry, but I think you’re too optimistic, and not cautious enough.

  43. Lydia wrote:

    It is basically an unaccredited program like many IFB bible colleges. I can’t believe people pay for it.

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
    — P.T.Barnum

  44. @ Martha:
    A few points

    My comment about illiteracy was concerning the leaders attitude towards the non clergy peasants. You are the one who said:

    “We have seen some wonderful results at our church and we have a waiting list of hurting people who desire to know what scripture says and how it can help bring them back to wholeness.”

    If they desire to know what scripture says why not tell them the truth that they have the same access to the Holy Spirit the clergy class has? Including counselors? Whyteach them to constantly look to others to who tell them what it says? I don’t get that.

    There is the same foundational approach now as with Jay Adams. Some out there claim it is even more oppressive than what Adams originally designed. The sad fact about Nouthetic counseling is that those who are victims of another’s evil are typically the ones who seek counseling. And the basic premise of that brand of counseling is the total depravity of all humans. I don’t know if you can see the problems with that or not.

    As to your pastors credentials, I am one of the few not impressed with such anymore. If he is so impressed with credentials, why not seek counselors and a program with serious accreditation? Credentials from the ACBA are akin to a Financial counseling accreditation from Dave Ramsey. It’s worthless outside the church bubble. People should be warned and then make their choice.

  45. @ ishy:
    I think a lot of Christians are very naive. I know I was. I wanted to believe that the clergy class always had people’s best interests at heart. It was a wake up call to learn that best interests often includes control. It becomes very important to influence and control what people believe about scripture. Tribes are built around that. Scripture becomes the weapon, the club and a how to manual for everything. It was never intended to be that.

    This thinking takes a beautiful collection of ancient inspired writings we call books with an overarching narrative of God’s gracious rescue of His creation and turns it into a weapon used by a few who supposedly have some spiritual anointing the pew peasants cannot have.

    I am extremely concerned about the Nouthetic approach to victims of abuse.

  46. @ Martha:

    “We have seen some wonderful results at our church and we have a waiting list of hurting people who desire to know what scripture says and how it can help bring them back to wholeness. We aren’t a Bible thumping people shaming church. We believe God’s word brings people to wholeness, it heals through the power of God’s love.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    a waiting list indicates that there is a lot of expectation for results in your church.

    what happens when the person does not experience the result they are after? the disappointment will be significant. seems to me the response will either be polarized as “I must be less than spiritual dirt” or “God is cruel and the bible is impotent”. what explanations are given to them?

    since this counseling is such a big part of your church, i imagine people are watching and observing, again with expectation. what happens when a person does not exhibit the joy and peace and ‘life change’ that is expected? what assumptions are made about that person?

  47. My thoughts on ACBC counseling – If you were very sick with an inflamed appendix (I had that once), would you want a college graduate that had never had any medical training to perform your surgery on the appendix? Yes, he knows anatomy from taking biology classes in college, but he has no medical training on actual surgical procedures, anethesia, stitching, etc. You would probably die if this person operated on you. I had an actual Board Certified Surgeon remove mine 40 yrs ago.

    I have shared before my story about my major chemical imbalance. I felt embarassed for many years when I went to a new doctor and had to explain the medications I take for my illness. I don’t anymore. If I don’t take it, I would end up in the psychiatric ward at the nearest hospital. I was offered the choice of counseling by my church, but I chose wisely not to take it. Unless you are an actual psychiatrist, you aren’t qualified to treat the mentally ill.

    I read an account on Yahoo last week of 2 ladies that visited the Church of Scientology, just to see for themselves what Leah Remini has been talking about on tv. One man told this lady that they had convinced a man to quit taking his meds for schizophrenia the week before. Those ladies left and told their story. I wander what has happened to this mentally ill man.

    No kind of church counseling anywhere can make up for a medical doctor trained in mental illness. Just can’t happen. No, it wasn’t my sin or anybody’s sin that made me have my chemical imbalance. It was luck of heredity.

  48. Martha wrote:

    Cases such as bipolar are not touched because of the issue of medication, physical ailments are not assessed.

    The Biblical Counseling programs I have reviewed didn’t have enough content to train a counselor to be able to make these distinctions. The mentally ill are some of our most marginalized neighbors and the church needs to step up to meet their needs. As it is, the church is poorly equipped to respond, as testified to here, even to the families impacted by mental illness. I speak from personal experience though I am not as transparent as Rich Shields. The move from churches having counselors trained to diagnose, treat and/or refer medical conditions in a Christian context to counselors who have no more than a handful of courses in specialized Biblical perspectives is, in my opinion, a step backwards.

  49. Velour wrote:

    Jonathan Leeman wrote an entire article about my Amazon review of 9 Marks under the name “Grace”

    Velour/Grace, can you point me to the article by Leeman?

  50. TWW, appreciate this post and thank you TWW community for parsing the Biblical counseling issue. Much needed discussion.

  51. Velour wrote:

    Dale wrote:
    This is somewhat off topic, but I just wanted Wartburgers to know that I wrote a review of Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church on Amazon. If you would like to read it, here is the link:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1BSWXNNXAYJ2P/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1433539985#R1BSWXNNXAYJ2P
    I just voted your review up on Amazon. I’m the “Grace” 1-star review below your review.

    Thanks for voting, “helpful” and for your comment. We share the scars of spiritual abuse. It is our mission to be a comfort to those who are even now experiencing abuse and to mark out and warn others of this ungodly puritanical paradigm. I am just about through reading Wade Burleson’s book “Fraudulent Authority.” I have to admit that I deeply regret six words that I once uttered to my wife: “You need to submit to me.” Yikes, was I thick!

  52. Velour wrote:

    I am so glad that his son’s bipolar wasn’t compounded by that dangerous form of “Biblical Counseling” called Nouthetic Counseling which many churches (NeoCalvinist for instance) are now using to great peril including for mental illness, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.

    Velour, I have been encouraged by your story and your comments for months. I was also excommunicated from a neo-Cal church (for failing to submit to male authoritarian headship, wrong as it was) in 2012. At that time my adolescent son was diagnosed with severe OCD, a crippling organic (and life-long) brain disease. This church now boasts California central coast’s largest ACBC-accredited “biblical counseling training center” which equips the locals with just enough training to judge wrongly and harshly those among us who suffer from something other than sin. Unfortunately, their marketing campaign has other churches in the vicinity funneling attenders into its training programs. And for the record, it is the Cornerstone Biblical Counseling Training Center, a branch of Cornerstone Community Church in Atascadero, which apparently is still my current church (as they have refused to honor my resignation of membership and the elders continue to maintain that they hold the keys that keep heaven locked to me). And the large membership of my former church family that was advised to shun me continues to do so to this day, and yet I’m sure many, if not most, have become certificated biblical(TM) counselors right up through level 3.

    The “Consent to Counseling” contract which basically releases the center from any liability is here: http://cornerstoneca.org/wordpresstest/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Consent-to-Counseling.pdf

    This document assures you that their counsel (1) is not professional, (2) is not confidential, (3) may result in a non-trained person diagnosing an organic illness as “sin” which will likely lead to (4) a surely devastating biblical(TM) church discipline. Oh, and donations are optional, but I guarantee you they are expected, and expected to be generous.

    PLEASE be aware that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a 12-week course (Just 2 or 3 hours a week) for those who have a loved one with a mental illness. It is designed and overseen by state-licensed mental health professionals, facilitated by well-trained individuals who have walked your walk and understand your suffering, and equips you with a wealth of the latest actual science to understand your loved one’s illness, and be the best advocate (medical, legal, you name it) to help them toward a healthy and whole life. It is a place to share, cry and laugh and learn to hope. Please google NAMI.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. And it is with a defiant and liberating act of courage that I sign off with my real name,

  53. Velour wrote:

    Everything that I told in Nouthetic Counseling, which I was forced into by the pastors/elders, was in turn told to hundreds of church members and used against me for the pastors/elders to lie about me, including the senior pastor with his fake Ph.D.

    JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY AUDITING RECORDS!

  54. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    That’s the very one, Headless Unicorn Guy. The very, very one.

    ACBC and other “Biblical” counseling movements are nothing but house invaders, an extended arm of the “church’s” self-appointed authority into everything private you ever thought you had. There is absolutely nothing biblical about these movements. Steer clear of ’em, no matter what.

  55. Darlene wrote:

    Boston Lady wrote:
    You are so right, Velour! I also think that the Nouthetic counseling nonsense also hides under the name of ACBC now (or is slightly separate), an absolute disaster of a false-gospel based (Neo-Calvinistas) lot that claim they can heal ANYTHING. How many times have I heard THAT line before? Yes, the “counseling” a friend got from a “certified” (I always giggle when I see the certified bit, as though that counts for pumpkins and gravy on rye bread) counselor was atrocious. Anyway, the advice was pornographic, immoral, filthy, and utterly disgusting. but it was God’s will because there was sin, blah blah. And there was a husband with “needs.” And the husband’s mentally sick needs needed help first. Tough glove if you were the wife.
    At the risk of being redundant, what you have said here, Boston Lady, reminds me of that Biblical Gender Roles guy. The fellas on there justify watching porn and lewd acts with their wives and have the nerve to slap it with a “biblical” sticker. And while they may seem to be the extremists, just look at how popular Mark Driscoll – the potty mouthed, sex obsessed pastor of Mars Hill Church, was with the Reformed crowd. He was able to get away with saying some of the most salacious things and the Calvinist Boyz Club still defended him because he “preached the gospel.”

    Boston Lady wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    That’s the very one, Headless Unicorn Guy. The very, very one.
    ACBC and other “Biblical” counseling movements are nothing but house invaders, an extended arm of the “church’s” self-appointed authority into everything private you ever thought you had. There is absolutely nothing biblical about these movements. Steer clear of ’em, no matter what.

    Darlene, um, yes, that’s not being redundant; you are simply underlining the real issue here. It’s a pervert’s world in that so-called biblical movement (and its ACBc wing). Do not be fooled for one second.
    Lewd acts and watching porn are things they can’t help, remember? I am feeling sick just thinking of that crowd and its tentacles.

  56. Lydia wrote:

    I get to see what passes for “biblical counseling” (They don’t call it Nouthetic anymore because of the bad reputation) out of SBTS.

    There is a connection between SBTS and ACBC: Heath Lambert, Executive Director of ACBC earned his master’s and ph.d degrees at SBTS and is on faculty there.

  57. Martha wrote:

    Also, we don’t charge for any of the counseling. It is a ministry of our church. Nor do we force anyone to take the counseling.

    Martha, one of my concerns with this type of counseling as I have seen it listed is that confidentiality standards do not seem to be on par with professionally licensed clinicians. For instance, confidentiality agreements seem to include ‘talking to the pastor if we think you are in ‘unrepentant sin’ (undefined), etc’.

  58. NJ wrote:

    What I find disturbing, and am wondering about is, is there absolutely no place they can have their son permanently committed where he can be properly cared for by professionals? Are those places completely gone? I’d heard there was a move back in the 70s to deinstitutionalize a lot of people because of past abuses, apparently.

    It is very difficult to commit someone against their will. The most that can generally be done is a 3 day hold.

  59. Lydia wrote:

    My comment about illiteracy was concerning the leaders attitude towards the non clergy peasants

    Example, a recent comment from SBCToday:
    “We shouldnt be condescending to people, we are all sinners and know relatively little. However, if you were to poll all sbc members, how many do u think would subscribe to some sorty of Trinitarian heresy? How many know how to exegete a passage properly? How many know sys theology, bib theology, historic theology, etc? I bet the poll would look BAD. Our theological knowledge is bad and I blame the pulpit.”

  60. ishy wrote:

    There’s a lot of mental illnesses besides being bipolar. There’s not a single class in identifying those issues in ACBC training, which tells me that you are putting way too much stock in the ability of graduates to determine if someone is in need of medical help.

    I would not trust someone with an unknown bachelors degree and a lot of training in scriptures and what is ‘sin’ to properly diagnose a mental illness.

  61. @ Martha:
    Martha,

    I have visited the ACBC website already, ages ago, after I’d become aware of the ACBC farce. Believe me, and the FIRST thing that jumped out from their self-idolatrous, man-centred website…yes, you’re right…dollars, dollars, dollars. So now you have to pay to share their secret? “Con,” anyone? On the website, the biblical Jesus is strangely absent; the true gospel is strangely absent, but “this conference, that conference” is plastered all over the place. And the term “certified” (I still giggle when I see that) is placed at just the right places to draw people into buying into something that has a fake foundation, to begin with. ACBC (and “biblical’ counseling, in general) is an untrustworthy, intrusive, neo-Calvinist offspring that needs to be warned against. It’s not even worth talking about anymore; I am just relieved and thankful to God that ACBC “counselors” did not get the chance to meddle into Richard Shields’ affairs. What an utter anti-biblical disaster that would have been.

    Like Velour (among many others) I do know about ACBC, and I hope, for the sake of those who are still going to be abused this side of heaven, that it disintegrates and is exposed for the dangerous lie it is, before it messes up even more lives in the name of a false gospel.

    So, how on earth did believers help one another before this “certified” nonsense came along? This clandestine movement was birthed in the 60s, and that says it all.

  62. FW Rez wrote:

    The move from churches having counselors trained to diagnose, treat and/or refer medical conditions in a Christian context to counselors who have no more than a handful of courses in specialized Biblical perspectives is, in my opinion, a step backwards.

    It occurs to me that every time you start an exercise program there is an obligatory ‘talk to your doctor before you start X’ line…Churches should refer patients to doctors to be screened first for MDD, PTSD, Bipolar, etc before they began to discuss things maybe.

  63. @ Lea:

    I will say, I do think it’s possible for pastoral/non-professional counseling to be useful, if done correctly. My church has a group that is trained to meet with people who are dealing with loss and other issues. It’s just very important to review the philosophy of these counselors from a buyer beware standpoint before you committ.

  64. Boston Lady wrote:

    Lewd acts and watching porn are things they can’t help, remember? I am feeling sick just thinking of that crowd and its tentacles.

    Yes. The foundation of that counseling strategy is total depravity. Therefore, the victims of evil deeds are also totally depraved.

    The “good results” are most often victim counselees running around bragging about their own brokeness and sin. It basically normalizes and desensitizes people to evil deeds.

    That becomes the “good result”. There is nothing healing about it. Healing comes with naming the wrong doing and totally avoiding people who make the “choice” to live that way.

    In fact, the idea that believers are constantly doing evil to others and repentance is instant with mere words, comes from a very bad interpretation of scripture. So when they call it biblical, I find that problematic and chilling.

  65. @ Nancy2:
    How much of sacred Scripture is actually read ALOUD by the pastors each week from the pulpit?

    I have seen some sermons where the ‘lesson’ was based on a verse of Scripture, but there were no ‘readings’ from the OT and the NT or Psalms prayed or sung.

    Would it not help the quality of the ‘theology’ presented IF more of Scripture were read aloud to the congregations????? Especially if there were some co-ordination of the OT and the NT verses to show connections and fulfillment of prophecies concerning Our Lord?

    Hearing sacred Scripture is a powerful thing in itself. Commentary later is all very nice, but the hearing of the Word itself should take priority above the commentary of men who ‘explain’ it. God has His own way of letting the words of Scripture affect us.

  66. Christiane wrote:

    How much of sacred Scripture is actually read ALOUD by the pastors each week from the pulpit?
    I have seen some sermons where the ‘lesson’ was based on a verse of Scripture, but there were no ‘readings’ from the OT and the NT or Psalms prayed or sung.
    Would it not help the quality of the ‘theology’ presented IF more of Scripture were read aloud to the congregations????? Especially if there were some co-ordination of the OT and the NT verses to show connections and fulfillment of prophecies concerning Our Lord?
    Hearing sacred Scripture is a powerful thing in itself.

    This is one reason why I got fed up with Baptist churches. Even in seminary, sermons were not expected to examine the context and culture of the Bible. Some churches do read entire passages, but I would say most of the Baptist and nondenominational churches I’ve been to read very little from Scripture. So while many Baptist pastors claim they are teaching the church the Bible, I don’t agree.

    I think many non-Calvinist Baptists make the mistake of putting so much emphasis on initial salvation that they concentrate everything in church on getting people saved. But then they have a whole lot of baby Christians who don’t know how to study the Bible for themselves, much less follow Christ on their own. Sermons are always salvation focused and very shallow. Lots of time is given to invitation. And often these churches focus on childrens’ ministries because the rate of salvations is higher.

    My experience with Calvinist Baptists is that they focus on the Old Testament and what Calvinist theologians write, and they just ignore anything in the Bible that doesn’t fit their ideology (like Jesus!). So yes, they might read the Bible aloud, but only the parts that serve their theological agendas. Can you imagine spending your entire Christian experience studying how much God hates you? It would be awful.

  67. I just explored the ACBC website. A person can be a certified counselor in a year. Pahhhleeez. In a secular school, it takes at least 4 years to be a certified kindergarten teacher!
    Blog on marriage: husbands are leaders, head over wife. If the husband is leading properly, and the wife is resisting his leadership, she is living in sin and needs counciling!

  68. Janet Varin wrote:

    I was also excommunicated from a neo-Cal church (for failing to submit to male authoritarian headship, wrong as it was) in 2012

    Congrats on joining the 9Marks excommunication club. I am thinking of striking a medal of some kind that can be worn around one’s neck to support those who have been similarly abused. I remember reading “Competent to Counsel” by Jay Adams at my 9Marks church. It was on our book table. A few months later I discovered that a friend had been excommunicated after receiving terrible marital counseling from our pastor, who clearly was “incompetent to counsel.” I was eventually excommunicated for “slandering the pastor” after I met with him privately to discuss his abusive treatment of my friend.

  69. Christiane wrote:

    How much of sacred Scripture is actually read ALOUD by the pastors each week from the pulpit?

    In most sermons I have heard, very little. A 45 minute sermon is usually based on 2 or 3 verses – sometimes from different books.

  70. Dale wrote:

    was eventually excommunicated for “slandering the pastor” after I met with him privately to discuss his abusive treatment of my friend.

    You should view the excommunication as a badge of honor!

  71. Nancy2 wrote:

    I just explored the ACBC website. A person can be a certified counselor in a year. Pahhhleeez. In a secular school, it takes at least 4 years to be a certified kindergarten teacher!
    Blog on marriage: husbands are leaders, head over wife. If the husband is leading properly, and the wife is resisting his leadership, she is living in sin and needs counciling!

    That’s all I need to know.

  72. Christiane wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    How much of sacred Scripture is actually read ALOUD by the pastors each week from the pulpit?

    Too ROMISH.

  73. Nancy2 wrote:

    https://biblicalcounseling.com/2016/06/godly-leadership-in-the-home-a-transcript/

    Oh, and anorexia is a sin. Biblical counciling will fix it!

    Fromthe link:

    “When I got married, Zondra would be very out-going and social while I was not; I would hesitate and I would let her initiate meeting people. I mean it was bad. And so what was a real help here was when we began to talk about it; that God needed to grow me in this area to be fearing Him more than man and that I needed to be reaching out and showing initiative in relationships and meeting people. She agreed that she would hang back and would let me take the initiative. She is naturally out-going so she had to really think through about holding back and letting me step up, meet people, be more decisive, and that has really been helpful. God’s grace was evident; I began to grow in that area and continue to grow in that area.”

    Is this not the silliest thing you have read on male leadership in marriage?

    This is the depth you see in Nouthetic counseling.

  74. Lea wrote:

    I would not trust someone with an unknown bachelors degree and a lot of training in scriptures and what is ‘sin’ to properly diagnose a mental illness.

    “I KNOW I’m Right —
    I HAVE A VERSE!”

  75. I can appreciate the pain that Rev. Shields and his family have walked and continue to walk through, though the circumstances are different for me and my family. If ALTS is anything like its president, then I would consider that a seminary worth attending!

  76. ishy wrote:

    Some churches do read entire passages, but I would say most of the Baptist and nondenominational churches I’ve been to read very little from Scripture.

    I would think that the reading of sacred Scripture out loud would be something celebrated more, simply because it is something that goes so deeply into Christian history …… the ‘Service of the Word’ in early days involved reading to the congregation from writings that were being circulated among the network of Christian Churches, these writings having come from those who were ‘witnesses’ (the Apostles) and those who learned directly from them. The ‘Word’ was always seen as a part of the apostolic deposit of faith and its reading aloud was (and remains) a big part of the ‘work of the people’. Those who read it aloud and those who received it by hearing were called the ‘Servants of the Word’. When it came time to gather all the writings together to formalize the agreed-upon canon of the Bible, one of the guides for the Councils was to determine if a writing had been read aloud throughout the Churches and also consistently read aloud over time.

  77. Lydia wrote:

    Is this not the silliest thing you have read on male leadership in marriage?
    This is the depth you see in Nouthetic counseling.

    Big Real Manly-Man Hubby Had His Widdle Feewings Hurt because Widdle Wifey was upstaging him. So Widdle Wifey has to dwindle down into quiet meek winsome Submission to give Big Manly-Man Hubby his Safe Space.

    Somebody tell His Majesty the Baby to Gwow Up.

  78. Nancy2 wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    How much of sacred Scripture is actually read ALOUD by the pastors each week from the pulpit?

    In most sermons I have heard, very little. A 45 minute sermon is usually based on 2 or 3 verses – sometimes from different books.

    The difference I think used to be
    much more group bible study beside service. My parents generation of church attenders were more likely to study scripture on their own, too. Many invested in Lexicons and Concordances. This younger generation tends to think they need an interpreter when they actually have more study tools at their fingertips for free.

  79. Nancy2 wrote:

    You should view the excommunication as a badge of honor!

    It took almost a decade to fully heal, but now I love my scars and see the purpose in all of it.

  80. Nancy2 wrote:

    I just explored the ACBC website. A person can be a certified counselor in a year. Pahhhleeez. In a secular school, it takes at least 4 years to be a certified kindergarten teacher!
    Blog on marriage: husbands are leaders, head over wife. If the husband is leading properly, and the wife is resisting his leadership, she is living in sin and needs counseling!

    Well, there it is, in black and white, and dollars. The wife “needs counseling,” right, if she is resisting his “leadership” (no matter how vile, disgusting, improper, ungodly, worldly, vulgar, WRONG, selfish, etc.). please note how these frauds get out of this situation. It goes along the lines of “unless it is contrary to God’s commands.” And yet, the same nonsense they sell the wives (snake oil) is against these commands.
    What a presumptuous bunch of well-trained, “certified” frauds.

    But, they can cure ANYTHING. Pahhhleeez, indeed. And ANYBODY can be a “certified” counselor, trust me. I feel sick.

  81. Lydia wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    How much of sacred Scripture is actually read ALOUD by the pastors each week from the pulpit?

    In most sermons I have heard, very little. A 45 minute sermon is usually based on 2 or 3 verses – sometimes from different books.

    The difference I think used to be
    much more group bible study beside service. My parents generation of church attenders were more likely to study scripture on their own, too. Many invested in Lexicons and Concordances. This younger generation tends to think they need an interpreter when they actually have more study tools at their fingertips for free.

    sometimes ‘less’ is ‘more’ and in an encounter with sacred Scripture, there is something to be said for the impact of hearing the readings directly, especially as regards ‘plowing up our fallow ground’. 🙂

    I can see much weakness in the neo-Cal concepts of ‘Who Christ Is’ …. for them, to hear in their sanctuaries the Gospel of St. John read aloud would likely be an eye-opener. This direct impact of that particular Gospel is known to be a very powerful spiritual help for Christians. And, the neo-Cal folk seem very needy in that regard, yes.

  82. Christiane wrote:

    I would think that the reading of sacred Scripture out loud would be something celebrated more

    I completely agree with you, and as much as many Baptists talk about being devoted to the Word, you’d think they’d have more of in it their services. But they don’t, and they seem convinced that they do. It’s mystifying to me.

  83. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I call this sort of Skubalon “Involuntary peek into the ManaGAWD’s Personal Sexual Fantasies.”

    HUG, you are about 200% correct, and then some. Dear God in heaven… In that movement, man is “god.” How do they sleep at night?

  84. Lydia wrote:

    Is this not the silliest thing you have read on male leadership in marriage?

    If he admitted that this was not ‘biblical leadership’ but his wife kindly stepping back and letting him try to be better at something that she was already good at, it would still be pretty dicey. But how long was she expected to stop being herself, so he could grow? I hope not forever.

  85. Lea wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    ACBC says even single women can and should be submissive little helper to the men in their lives.
    https://biblicalcounseling.com/2016/06/gender-roles-and-the-single-woman-2/
    This article is depressing.

    How about we start with that word not actually meaning “helper”?? It’s amazing the amount of importance put on the meaning of English words in a translation, when the original word might not convey that meaning.

    I’m waiting for the “Actual Translation and Not Christian Cultural” version of the Bible.

    I probably will never get the ATNCCV version. 🙁

  86. Boston Lady wrote:

    The wife “needs counseling,” right, if she is resisting his “leadership”

    You know, the guy kind of gets in the ballpark for a second when he asks why she is resisting, but he never gets to the point where maybe she is resisting because her husband’s ‘leadership’ is not wise. He definitely never gets to the point of admitting that maybe it’s ok to let your wife make a decision! And that life is not meant to be an endless struggle between two people trying to be boss. That there are other ways to interact with people. So frustrating.

  87. ishy wrote:

    How about we start with that word not actually meaning “helper”??

    That article was maddening because the girl is all ‘I looked at the bible and the only submission I saw for women was wives to husbands and instead of coming to the obvious conclusion that I don’t have any obligation to submit to random dudes just to make them feel better and feel like I was being ‘biblical’ my idiot ‘male leaders’ told me I was just supposed to make brother bob feel better by condescendingly asking him to ‘lead’ stuff I already had handled and pray before meals’.

  88. Martha wrote:

    After reading the comments on Nouthetic counseling which is now called ACBC, it is clear that those making the majority of the comments don’t know what it is. I challenge you to look at their website and look at the requirements for certification. Our church recently set up an ACBC counseling center with the help of an attorney.

    I’m not surprised it was necessary to have the help of an attorney because there are many levels at which this counseling could open the church/counselors to lawsuits. Human psychology is not something you can learn at a conference and it’s not something to play games with.

    Our counselors went through three years of rigorous study. All have at least a bachelor’s degree besides the ACBC certification.

    Rigorous study of what, though?

    Just looking quickly at certification vs a secular counseling degree, I found this:

    http://www.allpsychologyschools.com/mental-health-counseling/degrees/
    https://biblicalcounseling.com/is-training-for-me/

    The ACBC is vague as to exactly what is studied to get their certification, but this statement is troubling to me:

    Help people who seem unable to stop a particular sin
    Provide practical strategies for people afflicted with significant suffering
    Repair broken marriages.

    It concerns me that stopping people from committing particular sins is first on this list. It seems like having the power to change people is the focus.

    Do “biblical counselors” study developmental psychology? The affect of childhood trauma on the brain? Personality disorders? How the adult brain responds to trauma? Do they study the development of psychological theories and treatments like cognitive therapy? Do they study statistics and how to interpret research so they can know which treatments are showing the best results? Are they able to recognize the difference between research based and ideologically based philosophies of treatment? I mean, I’m just pulling some things out at random here that pop into my mind.

    I feel like if a Christian feels called to help others through giving counsel and they truly love those others, they should be willing to pursue accredited training in the field and give those others the best that is available.

    It is a shame that in the past people have received some bad counseling.

    People are currently receiving flawed treatment that is damaging lives.

    How about this situation? http://www.slate.com/articles/life/cover_story/2016/04/at_mercy_multiplied_troubled_young_women_come_to_believe_their_mental_health.html

  89. ishy wrote:

    I’m waiting for the “Actual Translation and Not Christian Cultural” version of the Bible.

    Yes! It’s high time!

  90. Lydia wrote:

    Is this not the silliest thing you have read on male leadership in marriage?

    Husband to wife: “Heel, sit. Good dog.”

  91. What I find interesting is that (in my limited experience) the one’s who provide the most comfort during a spiritual-emotional crisis, such as mental health, death, long-term disability, abuse, etc., are generally rejected by those who claim to “hold the keys of the Kingdom” – and I am not referring to the College of Cardinals – due to their so-called liberal leanings.

    For me, Frederick Buechner was greatly used by God in re-invigorating my heart after the death of my TBI daughter, especially his sermon “The Road Goes On”. Henri Nouwens’ book “The Wounded Healer” also ministered some, as did several of Philip Yancey’s books. I can also write whose works did not help, and that was Piper, Sproul, Edwards, etc., or much of what I was taught at SEBTS* Candidly, J. Edwards caused me great spiritual and emotional distress as he believed that children who died were outside the redeeming grace of God, due to their inherent sin nature(my daughter was 4 but never intellectually or physically progressed beyond the 6 to 8 month old stage) .

    *The sole exception was MacArthur’s book “Safe in the Arms of God” which actually delivered me from the bondage of Edwards’ teaching on the subject.

  92. Burwell wrote:

    I can appreciate the pain that Rev. Shields and his family have walked and continue to walk through, though the circumstances are different for me and my family. If ALTS is anything like its president, then I would consider that a seminary worth attending!

    Thank you. Our professors are excellent, and we are very much aware of our own brokenness. Check out our seminary page on alts.edu to contact us if you are serious. We would love to hear from you.

  93. Burwell wrote:

    I can appreciate the pain that Rev. Shields and his family have walked and continue to walk through, though the circumstances are different for me and my family. If ALTS is anything like its president, then I would consider that a seminary worth attending!

    I know we’ve veered way off topic with the ACBC stuff, but if I felt I needed counciling, I would go to Bro. Shields (or someone very similar to him) instead of even considering an ACBC counselor! Bro. Shields has lived through pain, and he knows that scripture does not contain solutions to everything.

  94. Nancy2 wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Is this not the silliest thing you have read on male leadership in marriage?
    Husband to wife: “Heel, sit. Good dog.”

    “Now Spread Your Legs.”

  95. Boston Lady wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    I call this sort of Skubalon “Involuntary peek into the ManaGAWD’s Personal Sexual Fantasies.”
    HUG, you are about 200% correct, and then some. Dear God in heaven… In that movement, man is “god.” How do they sleep at night?

    Very Well.
    “I Know I’m Right —
    I HAVE A VERSE!”

  96. Dale wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Jonathan Leeman wrote an entire article about my Amazon review of 9 Marks under the name “Grace”
    Velour/Grace, can you point me to the article by Leeman?

    Here you go:https://gbfsvchurchabuse.org/2016/09/27/jonathan-leeman-parsing-words-and-deleting-comments-guest-post-by-todd-wilhelm-this-is-about-my-ex-church-grace-bible-fellowship-of-silicon-valley/

    Todd Wilhelm wrote a guest post for The Wartburg Watch. I also reblogged it on my blog.

  97. Christiane wrote:

    When it came time to gather all the writings together to formalize the agreed-upon canon of the Bible, one of the guides for the Councils was to determine if a writing had been read aloud throughout the Churches and also consistently read aloud over time.

    I’d hate to have them use this method today. The Bible would consist of a few worn out passages and nothing else!

  98. Janet Varin wrote:

    peril including for mental illness, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.
    Velour, I have been encouraged by your story and your comments for months. I was also excommunicated from a neo-Cal church (for failing to submit to male authoritarian headship, wrong as it was) in 2012.

    Thank you, Janet, for your kind words. I am glad you were encouraged by my story and my comments. This is an encouraging place at TWW and I am thankful for all of the help I have gotten from so many others here. The group saved my sanity at a dark time in my life after my own excommunication/shunning. I was pointed to the history of heavy-Shepherding in the 1970’s (which Mark Dever at 9 Marxist has simply re-released with some new terms), and deprogrammed me from hateful things that I had been taught/subjected to.

    I am in California. You’re in California too? I think you should file a complaint against your former church with the California Medical Board for the Unlicensed Practice of Medicine, a crime in California. In the United States people can’t “contract” for illegal acts and that is not enforceable.

    http://www.mbc.ca.gov/Consumers/Complaints/

    Explanation of Unauthorized Practice of Medicine from Shouse Law group in Los Angeles:
    http://www.shouselaw.com/unauthorized-medicine.html

    At that time my adolescent son was diagnosed with severe OCD, a crippling organic (and life-long) brain disease. This church now boasts California central coast’s largest ACBC-accredited “biblical counseling training center” which equips the locals with just enough training to judge wrongly and harshly those among us who suffer from something other than sin.

    That’s correct. They are incompetent. And dangerous. And full of pride.

    Unfortunately, their marketing campaign has other churches in the vicinity funneling attenders into its training programs. And for the record, it is the Cornerstone Biblical Counseling Training Center, a branch of Cornerstone Community Church in Atascadero, which apparently is still my current church (as they have refused to honor my resignation of membership and the elders continue to maintain that they hold the keys that keep heaven locked to me). And the large membership of my former church family that was advised to shun me continues to do so to this day, and yet I’m sure many, if not most, have become certificated biblical(TM) counselors right up through level 3.
    The “Consent to Counseling” contract which basically releases the center from any liability is here: http://cornerstoneca.org/wordpresstest/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Consent-to-Counseling.pdf
    This document assures you that their counsel (1) is not professional, (2) is not confidential, (3) may result in a non-trained person diagnosing an organic illness as “sin” which will likely lead to (4) a surely devastating biblical(TM) church discipline. Oh, and donations are optional, but I guarantee you they are expected, and expected to be generous.

    I am so sorry about what happened to you and your son.

    Like I said, I really think you should turn in this church for the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine. The California Medical Board needs to know that there is a growing problem with these churches in which they are committing criminal acts. There’s a good reason that our state requires people to go to medical school to practice medicine, take exams, and be licensed by the medical board. It’s to protect the public from dangerous people like at your ex-church and my ex-church who don’t know what they are doing.

  99. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Everything that I told in Nouthetic Counseling, which I was forced into by the pastors/elders, was in turn told to hundreds of church members and used against me for the pastors/elders to lie about me, including the senior pastor with his fake Ph.D.
    JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY AUDITING RECORDS!

    Bingo.

  100. Martha wrote:

    The majority of those who come for counseling are from outside our church. They usually attend a church that minimizes the use of scripture and therefore really know very little about what scripture actually says. They want to know.

    I note that you are finding fault with the teachings of the churches that produce the client population for your church. It strikes me as unusual that a suffering member of church A would seek counseling in church B as a means of learning what is written in the Bible. Is the teaching of church A causing the emotional suffering, or what? Do people need Bible study or actual counseling?

    Taking this at face value, though, it is remarkably generous of church B to supplement the lapses of church A through free counseling, with no expectation whatsoever that the suffering person will transfer to church B and decide to tithe.

  101. Dale wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Dale wrote:
    siteseer wrote:
    Here’s another example of a “biblical counseling” failure.
    http://www.rawstory.com/2016/09/colorado-church-didnt-report-pastors-child-sex-abuse-because-biblical-counseling-would-suffice/
    You guessed it. Another 9Marks church. Sigh.
    Of course.
    The 9Marks Church Search seems to provide a valuable service to the faithful. “We self identify as an authoritarian church.”

    Indeed.

    But there were people like me who didn’t know that at the time. I had a problem with megas and other churches. When 9 Marks promised a “return to Biblical basics”, it seemed promising. I didn’t know it was a trap that had been carefully baited to ensnare the unwary.

  102. Martha wrote:

    The majority of those who come for counseling are from outside our church. They usually attend a church that minimizes the use of scripture and therefore really know very little about what scripture actually says. They want to know.

    Is there some reason they do not want to just pick up the Bible and read it themselves?

    I’m so thankful that after I came to believe in the Lord I spent a long time reading through the Bible myself before I ever started looking for a church to attend. I was still misled and subjected to controlling abuse once I got into church, but I had that solid foundation of knowing what it says in my mind to go back to. I don’t know how people navigate all the self-serving errors out there without having personal knowledge of the Bible without all the commentaries, lessons, etc. telling them what it “really means” before they have a chance to explore it for themselves.

  103. Velour wrote:

    But there were people like me who didn’t know that at the time. I had a problem with megas and other churches. When 9 Marks promised a “return to Biblical basics”, it seemed promising. I didn’t know it was a trap that had been carefully baited to ensnare the unwary.

    It would probably be inviting a lawsuit, but there ought to be a way of specifically marking out the abuses that have occurred at 9Marks churches. By name, in one place. A sort of “Tales from the Crypt.”

  104. Dale wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    But there were people like me who didn’t know that at the time. I had a problem with megas and other churches. When 9 Marks promised a “return to Biblical basics”, it seemed promising. I didn’t know it was a trap that had been carefully baited to ensnare the unwary.
    It would probably be inviting a lawsuit, but there ought to be a way of specifically marking out the abuses that have occurred at 9Marks churches. By name, in one place. A sort of “Tales from the Crypt.”

    There are a few websites on cults that want to cover these churches. I will submit my former church — Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley — for the list.

  105. Lea wrote:

    NJ wrote:
    What I find disturbing, and am wondering about is, is there absolutely no place they can have their son permanently committed where he can be properly cared for by professionals? Are those places completely gone? I’d heard there was a move back in the 70s to deinstitutionalize a lot of people because of past abuses, apparently.
    It is very difficult to commit someone against their will. The most that can generally be done is a 3 day hold.

    We went through this with a bipolar loved one. It wasn’t until the third suicide attempt that they’d keep her long-term. She was finally properly diagnosed after several weeks in the state hospital. It took 6 more years before doctors finally got her on the best meds, and she’s done well the last 2.
    Just yesterday she mentioned to me the man released from the state hospital ahead of her, who had attempted murder at the direction of voices in his head. 🙁

  106. NJ wrote:

    What I find disturbing, and am wondering about is, is there absolutely no place they can have their son permanently committed where he can be properly cared for by professionals? Are those places completely gone?

    It’s extremely difficult. As you mentioned in your post, it’s a case of the pendulum swinging from one extreme to another. There were several factors that led to the end of the old model of mental health institutions. Those institutions had many problems and abuses of their own. When medications were developed that could treat mental illnesses there was too much faith that they, alone, would solve the problem. This led to a naive idea that community mental health centers would be able to handle the needs of the mentally ill. The desire to save taxpayer money was probably the biggest factor.

    What ended up happening was we went from the shortcomings of the institutions to the creation, in large part, of the homeless problem. Mentally ill patients were basically put out on the streets.

    We desperately need solutions to the problems of mental illness but it is going to cost money and people need to see it as a worthy goal. How we treat the defenseless among us says everything about who we are, in my opinion.

  107. Velour wrote:

    I had a problem with megas and other churches. When 9 Marks promised a “return to Biblical basics”, it seemed promising. I didn’t know it was a trap that had been carefully baited to ensnare the unwary.

    How I got sucked into an IFB church, as well. These people really follow the Bible, right? It takes time to find out, no.

  108. Velour wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Everything that I told in Nouthetic Counseling, which I was forced into by the pastors/elders, was in turn told to hundreds of church members and used against me for the pastors/elders to lie about me, including the senior pastor with his fake Ph.D.

    JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY AUDITING RECORDS!
    Bingo.

    And there are a LOT of David Miscavage wanna-bes in pulpits.

  109. siteseer wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    I had a problem with megas and other churches. When 9 Marks promised a “return to Biblical basics”, it seemed promising. I didn’t know it was a trap that had been carefully baited to ensnare the unwary.
    How I got sucked into an IFB church, as well. These people really follow the Bible, right? It takes time to find out, no.

    Indeed it takes time.

    In the meantime, I describe the experience as Spiritual Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. It can knock a person out an spiritually kill them before they know it. It’s subtle, for many people.

  110. Michelle Van Loon wrote:

    @ Velour:
    Second that – NAMI’s free twelve-week Family-To-Family course, as well as some of their other resources, have been a great help to my husband and I.

    Excellent.

    We need to share that information with Persephone who posts here.

  111. Christiane wrote:

    sometimes ‘less’ is ‘more’ and in an encounter with sacred Scripture, there is something to be said for the impact of hearing the readings directly, especially as regards ‘plowing up our fallow ground’.

    Not sure I am following where you are coming from. Some non clergy folks enjoy studying scripture. The point I was trying to make, albeit badly, is that the adults I grew up around never relied on a pastor to teach them scripture or interpret for them. Disagreement was even allowed. :o)

    I often read the Psalms aloud and alone.

  112. Christiane wrote:

    Would it not help the quality of the ‘theology’ presented IF more of Scripture were read aloud to the congregations?

    NeoCalvinists, like at my ex-church (Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley) are fond of 90 minute sermons every Sunday, packed with Scripture verses for their ‘expositional preaching’. More Scripture may not lead to better theology if the foundation is corrupt to begin with.

  113. @ Burwell:
    Wow. Great comment and thanks for sharing that list. Some in similar situations have recommended Brendon Manning. Our Lord conquering death is a great comfort to me.

  114. @ Lydia:

    A lot of people used to do that thing where you read a proverb a day, because it was roughly a months worth. I think I’ve done that a bunch of times.

    I can’t say that hearing something read aloud is really more impactful to me than reading it myself, with exceptions of maybe a Christmas program.

  115. @ Lea:
    It might have to do with learning styles? I dont think there is anything Mystical involved with hearing it read aloud as opposed to reading it yourself.

    However, Sermons have gone from the 15-20 min as a kid to the 45-60 min today. These guys love to hear themselves! No thanks.

  116. Lydia wrote:

    It might have to do with learning styles?

    Maybe. I remember as a kid finding the ‘everybody reads a paragraph out loud’ reading times in school to be torture because everyone was so slow!

    We do have short sermons and they always read a passage at the beginning of them, though. I’m not opposed to it or anything, it just doesn’t do anything more for me.

  117. Lea wrote:

    Maybe. I remember as a kid finding the ‘everybody reads a paragraph out loud’ reading times in school to be torture because everyone was so slow!

    Exactly! Torture. I would rather have the reading of long passages aloud than the 45min sermon that I most likely have a different interpretation for. That is another problem with what passes for church if you read scripture a lot. But I am mostly a Done so am listening/reading to different scholars. I am enjoying even the ones I have trouble with like Barth. Baxter Kruger has been very interesting as the anecdote to ESS.. As a friend said recently, you read, mull over and pick up bits and pieces to broaden understanding but the glorious basics stay the same. For me, church needs to be about the people interacting. I could go for an old fashioned hymn sing, though.

  118. Martha wrote:

    After reading the comments on Nouthetic counseling which is now called ACBC, it is clear that those making the majority of the comments don’t know what it is. I challenge you to look at their website and look at the requirements for certification.

    ACBC’s requirements for certification don’t matter a hill of beans if there isn’t state certification. I checked for my state–Arizona–and not one of the 19 people on ACBC’s site has a license from the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health.

    I’d also note, as a mental health consumer myself, that ACBC and its ilk are ill-prepared to handle people with serious mental illness. You say your people don’t counsel people with bipolar. The problem is that I would imagine there are people who present for counseling by an ACBC counselor who would be diagnosed as bipolar, or having major depression, or schizophrenic, or some other treatable illness if seen by a psychiatrist, but they have never been properly diagnosed. I am not going to claim this is the case for every ACBC or nouthetic counselor, but there are a lot of *churches* out there that don’t believe in mental illness as a treatable thing, and instead insist that people apply their Biblical teachings to overcome a serious mental illness.

    Let me be blunt here–if someone has a serious mental illness, s/he should receive medical treatment. Spiritual discussion can be an adjunct, but medical treatment is paramount. There are too many people out there who have been scared away from going to the doctor for relief from depression, bipolar and suchlike because doing so supposedly shows lack of faith in God as the healer. I can have all the faith I want, but if I do not take my medications, I will eventually slide into a very black depression.

    Again, I am not saying that ACBC or nouthetic counseling discourages people from getting medical help, because I don’t know, but what I do know is this–Christians who discourage people from getting medical help for mental illness because it’s not what God would want are no better than Scientology and its quackery.

    In any case, the fact that none of the ACBC counselors is licensed by the Arizona state behavioral health board is a huge red flag to me.

  119. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    e Widdle Wifey was upstaging him. So Widdle Wifey has to dwindle down into quiet meek winsome Submission to give Big Manly-Man Hubby his Safe Space.

    (Giggle). Cue John Piper?
    “If it is done right, this masculine feel creates a space. It is big, it’s roomy, it’s beautiful, it’s peaceful. “

  120. Lydia wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    sometimes ‘less’ is ‘more’ and in an encounter with sacred Scripture, there is something to be said for the impact of hearing the readings directly, especially as regards ‘plowing up our fallow ground’.

    Not sure I am following where you are coming from. Some non clergy folks enjoy studying scripture. The point I was trying to make, albeit badly, is that the adults I grew up around never relied on a pastor to teach them scripture or interpret for them. Disagreement was even allowed. :o)

    I often read the Psalms aloud and alone.

    I am thinking about the Book of Isaiah’s promise, and the very real spiritual impact of hearing St. John’s Gospel read aloud. I think Isaiah was on to something. 🙂 Glad to hear you read the Psalms out loud …. there is something in doing that that makes a difference …. the Psalms were meant to be sung or read aloud, yes.

    “10”For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 12″For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace”

    (from the Book of Isaiah, Ch. 55)

  121. @ Christiane:
    siteseer wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    When it came time to gather all the writings together to formalize the agreed-upon canon of the Bible, one of the guides for the Councils was to determine if a writing had been read aloud throughout the Churches and also consistently read aloud over time.

    I’d hate to have them use this method today. The Bible would consist of a few worn out passages and nothing else!

    “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”

  122. Muslin – you said my thoughts. If I don’t take my meds, I will go into a severe depression that would probably kill me. I believe that God and medical science works together. I told that I just had to have faith that God would heal my depression. Guess what, it didn’t. I have a very very major chemical imbalance that allows me to be stable by taking my medications, faithfully, 2x a day and once at night. I don’t leave home w/o my meds in my purse. Even after all these years of being on them, I still have to check in with a psychiatrist every 3 months. It’s just the way it is. Yes, God could heal me. But he hasn’t chosen to. Instead he gives me the faith that he provides the doctors with the best knowledge on how to treat me. By doing this, I have helped out many others.

  123. Burwell wrote:

    Candidly, J. Edwards caused me great spiritual and emotional distress as he believed that children who died were outside the redeeming grace of God, due to their inherent sin nature

    Any god who would send an innocent child to hell for things completely beyond their control is not God but the devil.

  124. Christiane wrote:

    Glad to hear you read the Psalms out loud …. there is something in doing that that makes a difference …. the Psalms were meant to be sung or read aloud, yes.

    Not sure what that difference would be? I am one who thinks a lot of what is called mystical is really now tradition from what was once just superstition. This can be a problem for people who don’t “receive” whatever it is others insist happens because a thing like this is done a certain way as if they aren’t as spiritual.

    The Psalms are different to me and that is just a personal thing because they are Hebrew poetry in song. My mom used to compose meditations with a few of them. So they were sung a lot at our house in practice. So my own Tradition, perhaps? :o)

  125. Nancy2 wrote:

    “If it is done right, this masculine feel creates a space. It is big, it’s roomy, it’s beautiful, it’s peaceful. “

    And since Piper was referencing this in worship, the church becomes a man-cave?

  126. Burwell wrote:

    Frederick Buechner was greatly used by God in re-invigorating my heart

    Yes! For me:
    Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale by Buechner. “There is no place here for either saccharine, happy endings, or soft-boiled hope. Rather, the gospels record the tragedy of human failure, the comedy of being loved overwhelmingly by God despite that failure, and the fairy tale of transformation through that love.”

  127. Janet Varin wrote:

    And the large membership of my former church family that was advised to shun me continues to do so to this day, and yet I’m sure many, if not most, have become certificated biblical(TM) counselors right up through level 3.

    That anything like Operating Thetan 3?

  128. Lydia wrote:

    I am one who thinks a lot of what is called mystical is really now tradition from what was once just superstition.

    that is interesting …. if you dig deeper into that thinking you may come to the idea that we humans have some genetic preference for ‘myth’ and ‘symbolism’ and ‘stories’ as ways to make sense of our environment. I have always wondered if there is such a thing as ‘genetic memory’ because of how ‘deja vu’ occurs at some point in most lives, often in startling ways. All conjecture, all very interesting ….. C.S. Lewis has done some writing on ‘myth’ and meaning in a literary sense.

  129. Lydia wrote:

    Fromthe link:
    “I would hesitate and I would let her initiate meeting people. I mean it was bad … I began to grow in that area and continue to grow in that area.”

    Is this not the silliest thing you have read on male leadership in marriage?

    Dumb on many levels. Also I detest the implication that it is wrong to be an introvert, that everyone needs to be an extrovert.

  130. Bill M wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Fromthe link:
    “I would hesitate and I would let her initiate meeting people. I mean it was bad … I began to grow in that area and continue to grow in that area.”
    Is this not the silliest thing you have read on male leadership in marriage?
    Dumb on many levels. Also I detest the implication that it is wrong to be an introvert, that everyone needs to be an extrovert.

    And Complementarian teaching churches have the highest divorce rate in the nation, higher than atheists. No great surprise there.

  131. Persephone wrote:

    I have a child with a serious mental illness, … In short, I would love to be able to share my heart honestly with other Christians, but I can’t. Most don’t want to hear it, for whatever reason.

    And while intellectually, I know that failure of God’s people doesn’t mean failure of God, in my heart and my gut they’re inextricably interwoven.

    A day later and the last sentence I copied from your comment continues to come back to me. I’ve heard it bandied about on many occasions, the church is a witness to the world, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples”, but what happens when it is a bad witness? We expect everyone to intellectually set aside the rotten witness?

    Is there something wrong with the theology of the church as a witness, a picture so to speak of who Jesus is? When it is loving and good everyone loves a good story and sharing credit, when it is bad we blame the recipient for not setting aside being overlooked and unloved. I sense a disconnect, something doesn’t fit.

    Maybe this is also one of the things I find terrible about the “Limited atonement” in TULIP, it doesn’t matter who I offend, overlook, or abuse, it only matters who God chooses. It sure takes the responsibility off me.

  132. Persephone wrote:
    “I have a child with a serious mental illness, … In short, I would love to be able to share my heart honestly with other Christians, but I can’t. Most don’t want to hear it, for whatever reason.
    And while intellectually, I know that failure of God’s people doesn’t mean failure of God, in my heart and my gut they’re inextricably interwoven.”

    Several members of my family had mental health issues/dependency issues. The very last place I would ever discuss the spiritual aspects of this, ask for prayer, share my hear, or anything like that was church. It took me about two years in the evangelical faith to learn that. I have to admit I kept committing the sin of fellowship which was needing. That was many moons ago and I have to admit in some evangelical circles it is getting better, but it took a lot of “exposing” and light shining like what is done here to bring that about. We still need to be careful and ask questions of leadership and seek accountability. The discussion that is the focus of this article is a good example of that type of productive, healing conversation.

  133. Christiane wrote:

    if you dig deeper into that thinking you may come to the idea that we humans have some genetic preference for ‘myth’ and ‘symbolism’ and ‘stories’ as ways to make sense of our environmen

    I don’t think such makes one more spiritual than another.

  134. @ Lydia:

    I have read “Ragamuffin Gospel”, but it did not speak to me like the others I mentioned did.

    FWIW, the three Yancey books that helped me the most are:
    1. Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud
    2. Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church*
    3. Where is God When it Hurts?

    *I recommend “Soul Survivor” to every None, every Done, and everyone who wishes they were…

  135. @ JYJames:

    The conclusion of Buechner’s sermon (“The Road Goes On”) made me weep:

    I was sitting by the side of the road one day last fall. It was a dark time in my life. I was full of anxiety, full of fear and uncertainty. The world within seemed as shadowy as the world without. And then, as I sat there, I spotted a car coming down the road toward me with one of those license plates that you can get by paying a little extra with a word on it instead of just numbers and a letter or two. And of all the words the license plate might have had on it, the word that it did have was the word T-R-U-S-T: TRUST. And as it came close enough for me to read, it became suddenly for me a word from on high, and I give it to you here as a word from on high also for you, a kind of graduation present.

    The world is full of dark shadows to be sure, both the world without and the world within, and the road we’ve all set off on is long and hard and often hard to find, but the word is trust. Trust the deepest intuitions of your own heart. Trust the source of your own truest gladness. Trust the road. Above all else, trust him. Trust him. Amen.

  136. Christiane wrote:

    if you dig deeper into that thinking you may come to the idea that we humans have some genetic preference for ‘myth’ and ‘symbolism’ and ‘stories’ as ways to make sense of our environment.

    This is the exact concept many athiests use to explain the purpose of the Bible, and then discredit it. They claim that science is the only “truth.” Interesting how different people can view the same thing from different perspectives. It appears to me that experiences have much more impact on peoples’ lives than most want to believe/admit.

  137. @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes & mirele:
    Prince Edward at Queen Victoria’s memorial, “In Heaven, she will have to walk behind the angels, and I do not think she will like that.”

    Some of these almighty experts in the church may learn their true position in Eternity, and be disappointed.

  138. Lydia wrote:

    I don’t think such makes one more spiritual than another.

    After a brief google for definitions, I want to say that I can’t relate much to words like spiritual, or mystical, or even the way symbolic is used and abused sometimes. These concepts and methodologies sometimes lead people to erroneous conclusions. I do relate to the word truth. So-what is the best way to get to truth, or are there several ways, and how do we know what is truth/not truth when we get there; those are the issues I relate to.

    It is important to be able to spot flawed ways of trying to access truth and the willingness to doubt our own conclusions when the evidence is lacking and the methodologies are flawed.

    Example: Jesus used the symbolism of sheep and shepherd, and look what abuses people have come to by taking that symbolism in the wrong direction and way too far. People do not seem to have an automatic ‘stop’ reflex, this far and no further, when it comes to myth/symbolism or the pursuit of something spiritual.

    I do think that there are some ideas floating around in Christianity which seem to be mostly superstition right on. Obviously there are an awful lot of people who are self-professed Christians who agree with me, and an awful lot who do not. So how does one throw out the bath water but keep the baby? That is tricky.

  139. okrapod wrote:

    So-what is the best way to get to truth, or are there several ways,

    I think there are many ways to get at truth. Where we err is in assuming the best way for me is the best way for you.

  140. The idea of ‘myth’, symbolism, imagery, allegory, word play, even ‘language’ itself …. all seem very complex ways in which humans have tried to express themselves

    but when you approach the ‘spiritual’, you begin to come up against that for which words are inadequate …. perhaps that is why the ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit becomes observed only as a kind of radiance in a person: their ability to love, to have kindness, to be patient with others ….. and how it is that they are enabled to express this gift of grace in the manner of their living.

  141. Bill M wrote:

    Maybe this is also one of the things I find terrible about the “Limited atonement” in TULIP, it doesn’t matter who I offend, overlook, or abuse, it only matters who God chooses. It sure takes the responsibility off me.

    If you’re one of the Elect, that’s a Feature, not a Bug.

  142. okrapod wrote:

    So how does one throw out the bath water but keep the baby? That is tricky.

    I agree. I don’t have the answers but came across some information a while back that I found very interesting that has to do with taking biblical metaphors too far and linked it to the popular concept of mystery. I came across it while doing a lot of research on the various uses of Kephale (head) around the first century.

    It was believed that thinking and decision making came from the heart…As in the actual body organ. The head was viewed as the “source” for the body to operate- eating, hearing, smelling, seeing, etc. It wasn’t until about 100 years after Paul that the Physician Galen started to suggest the head (brain) of animals controlled the body.

    There are a lot of verses referring to the heart as thinking, feeling, etc. In some ways disconnecting the senses from the brain fuels the concept of dualism we see so much of in Christendom.

    While we know better intellectually, we still tend to make many of our actions and beliefs a mystery. I want to challenge that because I think it is important for brain development and maturity. We seek to understand the things we don’t understand or we accept many traditions and call it mystery. I can accept that to a certain extent (as in the soul when you die and your cognitive ability) but in my opinion (which isn’t important) I do think we tend to revel in mystery a bit so we don’t have to deal seriously with some things that are very hard or we take comfort in not dealing with them, perhaps. It might keep us from questioning? Yet, I accept some things as a mystery such as the Holy Spirit blows were it will.

    I marvel at the intricate creation of our brain and understand that ability can be developed for good or for evil.

    There is a lot more to this and it is very uncomfortable to discuss.

    You asked this:

    “So-what is the best way to get to truth, or are there several ways, and how do we know what is truth/not truth when we get there; those are the issues I relate to.”

    Me too. And related to this, I believe Christianity is corporate but salvation is individual. I fear we have subjected individual salvation to the corporate expression of it. We see this everywhere these days. Some of it old tradition, some of it a redo of state church tyranny, some of it feel good meaninglessness. Depends on the group. However, I have no right to tell anyone the best way to get to truth. I can only relate ideas, challenges, etc. And say, the heart doesn’t think or feel unless one is having a heart attack. :o)

  143. Bridget wrote:

    It appears to me that experiences have much more impact on peoples’ lives than most want to believe/admit.

    And this is where it gets tricky. As in Trying to make corporate Christianity and individual salvation/ growth cookie cutter operations. It’s why I am still clinging to soul competency and the priesthood of believer.

  144. Lydia wrote:

    I fear we have subjected individual salvation to the corporate expression of it.

    Yes! Or at least, many seem to do so. This is where this nitpicky, overly restrictive attitude towards parishioners coming to church when the church wills seems to come from. As if you cannot properly believe in god or worship when away. Maybe this is an overreaction to people pulling away from church, but I don’t believe that trying to guilt trip people who do come into being their every sunday is the way to fix that. Especially (as in a recent post at SSB) when you are going so far as to try to determine when a mother who has just had a baby should attend! Those are individual decisions, and often medical ones, and none of the pastors business.
    Lydia wrote:

    It was believed that thinking and decision making came from the heart…As in the actual body organ.

    I think this is very interesting. In sunday school one day we talked about how we filter everything that is said through a cultural context, if you really think about it. It makes little sense to filter ancient comments through current medical knowledge.

    And our medical knowledge is changing now too. We talk about having a ‘gut’ feeling, etc, but now we know that the gut controls so much more than we thought about the body so it’s no longer only metaphorical.

    I get so tired of metaphors being turned into literal expression and through current and not ancient context at that. No wonder this leads to error!

  145. I don’t have time to do this today, but for all of you who posted comments about interesting books that you’ve read you may want to copy your comment to the top of the page under the Interesting tab, the Books/Movies/TV/ETC. tab so that people can look them up in the future.

  146. Burwell wrote:

    Candidly, J. Edwards caused me great spiritual and emotional distress as he believed that children who died were outside the redeeming grace of God, due to their inherent sin nature(my daughter was 4 but never intellectually or physically progressed beyond the 6 to 8 month old stage) .

    It takes awhile to get free of a toxic religion, and some of them are as toxic as the dead lands of Chernobyl.
    A couple years back I got into an exchange with a Calvary Chapel pastor on what it means to be ‘saved’ and to ‘have a relationship with Jesus’.
    Apparently my affirmation of the tenets of The Apostle’s Creed wasn’t good enough, and the convo went down hill from there, something to the effect of:

    CCpastor: the devils also believe and tremble Muff, do you know where you’ll spend eternity?
    Muff: no I don’t, and neither do you.

  147. Christiane wrote:

    The idea of ‘myth’, symbolism, imagery, allegory, word play, even ‘language’ itself …. all seem very complex ways in which humans have tried to express themselves

    but when you approach the ‘spiritual’, you begin to come up against that for which words are inadequate …. perhaps that is why the ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit becomes observed only as a kind of radiance in a person: their ability to love, to have kindness, to be patient with others ….. and how it is that they are enabled to express this gift of grace in the manner of their living.

    “…stooping very low, He engraves with care
    His Name, indelible, upon our dust;
    And from the ashes of our self-despair,
    Kindles a flame of hope and humble trust.
    He seeks no second site on which to build,
    But on the old foundation, stone by stone,
    Cementing sad experience with grace,
    Fashions a stronger temple of His own.”
    (Patricia St. John)

  148. Could be our story, except our son has more than one mental illness.

    It wasn’t a Calvinist pastor but an Arminian one, also a psychologist himself, not this biblical counselling, that blamed us for not offering enough love and discipline.

    Never mind that we got our son older, abused, with fetal alcohol syndrome, bi polar, and with severe ptsd. Nope, things were not perfect only a few short years after adoption so we were evil parents.

  149. Muff Potter wrote:

    Apparently my affirmation of the tenets of The Apostle’s Creed wasn’t good enough, and the convo went down hill from there, something to the effect of:

    CCpastor: the devils also believe and tremble Muff, do you know where you’ll spend eternity?

    Standard Christianese doubleplusduckspeak:
    “DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU WILL SPEND ETERNITY?????????”

    Opening salvo for the high-pressure Altar Call.

  150. Lydia wrote:

    Me too. And related to this, I believe Christianity is corporate but salvation is individual. I fear we have subjected individual salvation to the corporate expression of it.

    I’ve experienced what happens when Individual Salvation trumps anything corporate. Detachment from reality; Just Me & JEEESUS, nobody else, nothing else exists. Save their Souls(TM), to hell with the person, it’s all gonna burn anyway. (And for some reason, the corporate expression of this in “Fellowship” was totally, utterly Party Line Conformist.)

    Like the Moody Blues album, it’s A Question of Balance.
    The individual must be balanced with the corporate/group.
    Personal Salvation must be balanced with Social Gospel.

  151. linda wrote:

    Never mind that we got our son older, abused, with fetal alcohol syndrome, bi polar, and with severe ptsd. Nope, things were not perfect only a few short years after adoption so we were evil parents.

    Let me guess…
    New Creature in Christ(TM) so he should have NO problems whatsoever?
    JMJ over at Christian Monist used to blog about this widespread Christianese attitude and the destruction it caused.

  152. linda wrote:

    blamed us for not offering enough love and discipline.

    Same thing goes on for marriage relationships where one has a brain disorder or personality disorder. The other partner is blamed.
    The husband is blamed for not loving enough.
    The wife is blamed for not submitting enough.
    Because, you see, Christian pixie dust pat answers always work. If they don’t then you are doing it wrong.

  153. Mara wrote:

    Because, you see, Christian pixie dust pat answers always work.

    Whether that pixie dust is “Five Fast Praise-the-LOOOOORDs” or “Memorize Five Verses in the WORD every morning.”

    I remember reading somewhere about Faith Healers that if the healing works, the Faith Healer is Praised for having such Faith and Favor from God; if it fails, the victim is blamed for having Some Secret Sin instead of Enough Faith.
    Win-win for the Faith Healer.
    Lose-lose for the victim.

  154. Mara wrote:

    Because, you see, Christian pixie dust pat answers always work.

    Exactly. That’s exactly the phrase I call it, “Christian pixie dust.”

  155. Mara wrote:

    The other partner is blamed.
    The husband is blamed for not loving enough.
    The wife is blamed for not submitting enough.

    maybe demanding that a wife ‘graciously submit’ is not love

    maybe a wife submitting to her husband’s ‘requests’ is also not love

    the whole arrangement is just that: an ‘arrangement’ man-dated by men and declared to be ‘biblical’

    only it isn’t

    because it’s not ABOUT love, is it?

  156. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Me too. And related to this, I believe Christianity is corporate but salvation is individual. I fear we have subjected individual salvation to the corporate expression of it.
    I’ve experienced what happens when Individual Salvation trumps anything corporate. Detachment from reality; Just Me & JEEESUS, nobody else, nothing else exists. Save their Souls(TM), to hell with the person, it’s all gonna burn anyway. (And for some reason, the corporate expression of this in “Fellowship” was totally, utterly Party Line Conformist.)
    Like the Moody Blues album, it’s A Question of Balance.
    The individual must be balanced with the corporate/group.
    Personal Salvation must be balanced with Social Gospel.

    Detachment from reality is thousands of children molested due to the protection of corporate Christianity and all the other abuses that go on”corporately”. Had there been some individuals willing to lose the comfort of the corporate expression at the first sign, perhaps many could have been spared. I wasn’t thinking the Pink archetype at all because most of us have to live and work in the real world and not some ministry bubble.

    It doesn’t follow that being involved in an “institutional” corporate expression of Christianity is required. It can actually mean protecting evil. that is no social Gospel, for sure.

  157. @ Christiane:

    So when husband and wife no longer ‘love’ one another, however that is defined by them and/or their particular subculture, do you think they should divorce based on this change in feeling?

  158. @ Christiane:

    Actually I was hoping that you would be specific regarding your comment which I referenced. You seem to be saying that this or that is not ‘love’ and I am saying, okay, then what? If spouses no longer ‘love’ each other, and if exhortations to ‘do the right thing’ so to speak are not ‘love’, then what?

    Let me word it this way. If people no longer function in ‘love’ be it spouses or churches, then what? Are they supposed to carry on the best they can; are they supposed to pull the plug by getting out of the marriage and getting out of the church; are they supposed to pick some other set of expectations in which to try to keep on functioning at some level?

  159. okrapod wrote:

    @ Christiane:

    Actually I was hoping that you would be specific regarding your comment which I referenced. You seem to be saying that this or that is not ‘love’ and I am saying, okay, then what? If spouses no longer ‘love’ each other, and if exhortations to ‘do the right thing’ so to speak are not ‘love’, then what?

    Let me word it this way. If people no longer function in ‘love’ be it spouses or churches, then what? Are they supposed to carry on the best they can; are they supposed to pull the plug by getting out of the marriage and getting out of the church; are they supposed to pick some other set of expectations in which to try to keep on functioning at some level?

    my comment was a reference to the PREMISE that the marital union was to be one of ‘male domination’ and female ‘submission’, rather than ‘either to other’ in the traditional union ‘of the two’ into ‘one flesh’.

    The concept of self-giving as the proper expression of Christian marital ‘love’ is not present in the patriarchal system because what is celebrated instead is ‘male’ headship.

  160. okrapod wrote:

    You seem to be saying that this or that is not ‘love’ and I am saying, okay, then what?

    Sorry my comment was not more clear.

  161. Let me stress again the problem we encounter with our son was from a bivo pastor who was also a classically trained licensed psychology. It was his practice of psychology on us, not his pastoring, that was cruel.

    He was a behaviorist, and believed since our son had been with us several years all problems should have been cured if we had done our part.

    I shun psychology like a plague, and will say Biblical counselling has helped our son and our family when it comes to stinking thinking.

    BUT when it comes to brain disease it takes a good psychiatrist or better yet someone working from a neuro-psychiatric background.

    Sort of like bursitis: if you have overworked a joint, physical therapy might be a good strategy. But if there is a structural problem you need a good surgeon first.

  162. linda wrote:

    Could be our story, except our son has more than one mental illness.
    It wasn’t a Calvinist pastor but an Arminian one, also a psychologist himself, not this biblical counselling, that blamed us for not offering enough love and discipline.
    Never mind that we got our son older, abused, with fetal alcohol syndrome, bi polar, and with severe ptsd. Nope, things were not perfect only a few short years after adoption so we were evil parents.

    Our sons (brothers, Korean) were 8 and 6 when they came. So, yeah, we also started in a deficit. Additionally the 8 years old only weighted 38 lbs, and the 6 year old weight 33 lbs. The first several weeks they stole food from the table and hid in their room, because they were not sure there would enough food the next day.

    It’s been a long journey. Thankfully our younger son has had problems, but he has done very well (wonderful DIL) and we have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren

  163. Rich Shields wrote:

    It’s been a long journey. Thankfully our younger son has had problems, but he has done very well (wonderful DIL) and we have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren

    That should read:

    It’s been a long journey. Thankfully while our younger son has had a few problems, he has done very well (wonderful DIL) — we have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren

  164. @ Rich Shields:
    I have huge admiration for you & your story. I have several friends whose adopted children have turned out to have many many issues, including reactive attachment disorder, autism & many more. You are all amazing to me.

  165. linda wrote:

    BUT when it comes to brain disease it takes a good psychiatrist or better yet someone working from a neuro-psychiatric background.

    I agree with this advice.

    I am sorry you had cruel advice heaped on you with a pastor who had training in psychology. Obviously not enough of it.

  166. linda wrote:

    He was a behaviorist, and believed since our son had been with us several years all problems should have been cured if we had done our part.

    So, I guess if your son had been born with missing limbs, they should have grown out and completely developed under a few years of your care ……… if you did your part?

  167. Dale wrote:

    This is somewhat off topic, but I just wanted Wartburgers to know that I wrote a review of Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church on Amazon. If you would like to read it, here is the link:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1BSWXNNXAYJ2P/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1433539985#R1BSWXNNXAYJ2P

    Dale, let me add my thanks to those of others for your careful and cogent analysis of Mark Dever’s 9 Mark’s teachings. It was clear and very helpful, and sheds a light on these dispiriting, conscience-binding teachings and practices. Thank you. Shine on, brother!

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