God’s Love for His People Is the Missing Mark of 9 Marks

"Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.” ― Dieter F. Uchtdorf link


link

Recently, on Twitter, someone posted a link to the following post by 9 Marks: How can I lead my church toward meaningful membership?. A lively discussion ensued. For context, 

This material has been adapted from Mark Dever’s chapter “Regaining Meaningful Church Membership” in Restoring Integrity in Baptist Churches, ed. Thomas White, Jason B. Duesing, and Malcomb B. Yarnell, III, pages 57-60)

I am going to discuss some of my thoughts and I look forward to reading yours.

The missing mark of God's incredible love for us.

I think that this lack of emphasizing he love of a God who sings over His people may indicate what I believe to the the fatal flaw in the 9 Marks paradigm. 

Proclaim the gospel. Preach about God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, Christ’s substitutionary atonement and resurrection, and our need to repent of our sins and trust in him. And make it clear that those who are not committed to one another in love have no reason to think that they have committed to God in love (1 John 4:20-21).

The first thing that I think of when I think of God is His wonderful love. It was that love which drew me to Him when I was a teenager. When I look at Calvinista theology, I am often struck by how little the love of God is talked about. Instead we are told that we are sinful failures which is true, but they are stuck on a very long pause. We are always lousy sinners, messing up God's glory by our awful lives. I am weary of posts or comments in Calvinista treatises in which people refer to themselves as worms. 

Love has been turned upside down. We must love committed church members because if we don't, we are not committed to and don't love God. The love of God to his creation is not a matter for discussion-only our sinful behavior.

9 Marks us big on proclaiming the gospel. When I was a teen, I learned John 3:16 which I was told was the essence of the gospel. We can say this by rote and often quickly skip over the incredible statement: For God so loved the world.

This week, I read God Is Not Out to Get You: The Lord delights in you and sings over you. Can you believe it? published in Christianity Today. As I was reading it, I have to admit that tears came to my eyes. It seems that all I read from a certain segment of Christians speaks of a  God who is miffed off that we don't obey Him perfectly.  Here are a few comments that I hope will encourage our readers or get them to admit that they, too, have felt degraded and worthless. I commend Jeremy Treat for this important essay in these days of "The Believer is a Worm."

The post is based on Zeph 3:17 (NIV Bible Gateway)

The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

How often do our churches discuss the joy that God has for us.

Many people have a similar view of God. They believe he’s a grumpy old man who has to get his way, and that when he doesn’t, he will shame, guilt, and scare people to get them in line. Although most wouldn’t say it out loud, deep down even many believers think of God as “the God who is out to get me,” that he is waiting for us to mess up so he can meet his divine quota for punishing sin. 

…What do you think God really feels when he looks at you? For many of us, even though we know intellectually that God loves us, we believe in our hearts that God is disappointed, angry, or even indifferent to us. Others of us know that we are forgiven but think of our standing before God only in negative terms: He’s not mad at me. I’m not guilty.

…Many Christians carry this perception of God because we overemphasize what we are saved from and overlook what we are saved for. Imagine if someone asked me how I feel about my kids, and I said, “I don’t hate them.” That’s a true statement, but it’s not enough. I love my kids. I delight in them. But when we think of our relationship with the Lord, too often we only think of the things God doesn’t think or feel: “He’s not mad at me. He forgave my sin.”

…God’s people are not a mistake that God is stuck with because he values commitment. He does not give out his mercy begrudgingly

…If we see God as a cosmic police officer, then we will live in fear of punishment. If we view God as a heavenly firefighter, then we’ll talk to him only when we’re in trouble. But if God is the mighty warrior who sings over his people, that changes everything, 

Why the church covenant misses the mark.

1. The failure of statement of faith.

Back to the 9 Marks post. 

Require members to affirm a statement of faith (what a church believes) and a church covenant (how members will live together).

Require a membership class. Help prospective members know what will be expected of them, and what they can expect from the church. Use this opportunity to teach through the statement of faith and the church covenant, the importance of membership, and the practical nuts and bolts of how your church works.

I do believe that a statement of faith of the church is absolutely vital so long as they put in both the explicit rules of the faith as well as  the implicit rules of the faith. I call these implicit rules  "the rules of the game." That statement should not only include the essentials such as the Trinity, the Cross, etc. but also those pesky little secondary rules that can bite you on the dupa (Russian/Polish word for bottom pronounced doo-pah.)

For example, I did not know that a former church only allowed the teaching of young earth creationism. I have written how that resulted in an all out war in the fourth floor Sunday school class. From our post by Dale on Wednesday, we learned that a 9 Marks church, with ties to the mother-ship, disciplined Dale for praying, out in the open, with two women.

Then there was the dustup with the Guy From Dubai, aka the Official TWW hero, Todd Wilhelm when he had the temerity to mention that he didn't like them selling CJ Mahaney books in the book store. It should be written into all 9 Marks statements of faith that 

You shall support all BFFs of Mark Dever and your senior pastor.

Then they should proceed to list all of the untouchable names. If they do not do this, then they have no right to treat the person who doesn't get it in an aggressive manner. 

Lesson: The statement of faith in 9 Marks churches only list the explicit doctrines. Always be aware that there are far more *Musts* that are implicit and you must learn them in order to survive in this church environment. Call the Deebs and we can give you a whole bunch of probable "under the table" rules.

2. The troubling mark of the church covenant.

Dale nailed something yesterday and I think that all potential church members should think about this before signing these one way contracts.

As I delved further into the notion of signing mandatory Statements of Faith and Church Covenants, I had an epiphany. Here I was, attending a church that effectively had been in existence for only two months, and they were requiring prospective members to sign a statement of faith, a church covenant and submit to the authority of the elders. These requirements suddenly appeared ludicrous to me. How could a church where we barely knew one other require such submission to authority?

Why should I decide to covenant to a church when I do not know the leaders in an intimate way. We usually know squat about any of the leaders when we join It is not uncommon for someone to sign one of these things and then figure out that they don't like the leadership, think the pastor is too authoritarian, disagree with the pastor's choice of friends, etc.

Also, these covenants tend to by one way. They tell you what you need to do. Rarely do they point out the responsibilities of the leaders to you. This could cause a real conflict when you discover that the leadership doesn't give two hoots when you land in the hospital. Also, may you never find yourself on the wrong side of a disciplinary action when your pastor decided that he doesn't like your questions about his use of discretionary funds.

TWW does not recommend that anyone sign these covenants. If they must, be sure to have a lawyer read it over. Remember that you can resign  in writing at anytime, no matter what they say.

A manmade rule: Don't let your kid be baptized. 

Stop baptizing children. A young child can certainly become a Christian. But a church can’t necessarily discern whether or not a child has become a Christian. Children should be given the opportunity to mature and have occasion to resist the pull of the world. So don’t create confusion by baptizing those whose professions of faith the church cannot reliably assess.

This is pure nonsense. I do not need the church to determine if my child has a child's grasp of the gospel. All three of my kids were baptized around 9-10 years old. They could express what they knew to be true. All three of them are following God in their adult years.

Let me make the observation that a number of adults, in churches like CHBC, who make professions of faith and were baptized have also left the faith. I know some and I bet CHBC does as well. I guess that the church made wrong judgments. Unlike Jesus, the church leadership is fallible and can screw it up.

Be careful when giving your appointed oversight guy too much information.

Under no circumstance, unless you know your *spiritual supervisor* really well, should you discuss any sort of sin since it could come back to bit you. For example, you have decided to leave the church. Suddenly, they come up with a reason to discipline you like Dale in yesterday's post. They then declare you must stay at the church to resolve the matter. (and keep giving them your tithe as well.)

Give pastoral oversight to members. Try to make sure that every member is in regular conversation with an elder or a mature Christian in the congregation. Take initiative in getting to know what’s going on in the members’ lives.

I disagree vehemently with restrictions on participation by nonmembers.

Limit certain activities and areas of service to members. Churches should consider the possibility of restricting its business meetings, public service, and small groups (except for evangelistic ones) to members only.

I make it a point to go to a business meeting before I join a church, even though I cannot, nor would I, vote. That is where you see how they handle conflicts, money, problems. If they won't let you attend, you can be sure that there is stuff that they don't want you to see because "you wouldn't understand, bless your heart."

Public service opportunities are wonderful times to invite nonmembers. They get to see the members in action and can even become excited about what is going on in the church. The same thing applies to a small group. At every small group that I have been a member of or led, we always invited nonmembers. If there are sensitive personal matters being discussed, we plan accordingly. We have seen people become Christians from participating in these activities.

6. The abusive mark of corrective discipline.

Revive the practice of corrective discipline. Once you have established a culture of meaningful membership, begin to lead your congregation to excommunicate those who persist in serious unrepentant sin.

Do I think that a guy who dumps his family for his honey should be disciplined, yesiree Bob. TWW never get calls about things like that. We get calls when churches discipline women for divorcing their abusive husbands, when they discipline someone for asking too many questions, etc. Let me be frank. I would never, ever, ever participate in a discipline hearing (except for a serious situation) with any pastor from any church that adheres to the 9 Marks way.

Something is wrong with the way 9 Marks teaches this stuff and it is getting weirder and more abusive. They have an ethical and spiritual obligation to remove those churches the abuse from their list but they won't. 

Recently, I got a direct message from one of the 9 Marks guys all upset that I used the word *gulag* to describe what the 9 Marks guys did to Marie Notcheva. That individual didn't say one word about Marie. I told him that I was frustrated that the only time 9 Marks pays attention is when we used a tough word like *gulag* that upsets them. I took down the tweet but not one of them has ever expressed concern for the victims of 9 Marks that we write about here. 

9 Marks has missed the mark of love and that is why there is so much turmoil in their churches. At this time, TWW is deeply concerned about the spiritual health of 9 Marks churches. 

Hmm-Let me try it again….GULAG!!!!!! Is anyone from 9 Marks listening?


Comments

God’s Love for His People Is the Missing Mark of 9 Marks — 285 Comments

  1. Ahhh yes. I was excommunicated from the Gulag – Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley – a 9Marxist, authoritarian, John MacArthur-ite church for: 1) discovering a convicted child pornographer on Megan’s List at church who happened to be the pastors/elders’ friends; 2) refusing to use hate speech against gays (I can get fired from my job in California for that discriminatory conduct and we’re just expected to do our jobs and get along) that other church members used who hated gays; 3) being subjected to Nouthetic Counseling and being blamed by incompetent pastors/elders from everything from one church member’s genetically inherited brain disorder as my “sin” problem to another member’s alcoholism to another member’s lashing out at newcomers and church members because she hadn’t dealt with her abusive childhood.

    9 Marxists are FAILURES. Hateful, hateful, hateful bizarre people.

  2. At the outset 9 Marks says an indication of membership In the church is full on love for fellow believers. That’s not what the Bible says. It says our place in the body of Christ is God’s full on love for us.

  3. I do not need the church to determine if my child has a child’s grasp of the gospel.

    Jesus:let the little Children come to me; become like they are
    9marx: keep those children away until they grow up and become 9marx approved like me humility himself cj mahaney!

  4. Dee, if I may add:

    GULAG!!!!!! GULAG!!!!!! GULAG!!!!!!

    Ahhh, I feel better now.

    Shabbat Shalom to all from a Tar Heel non-gulagista. 🙂

  5. @ DEE
    “When I look at Calvinista theology, I am often struck by how little the love of God is talked about”

    many here have mentioned how little neo-Cals reference Jesus Christ Himself, except in their special heresy of ESS and how they apply it to male-headship/female submission.

    in failing to center on Christ, they have lost touch with ‘love’ itself

    in my Church is said, this:
    ” Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to His life.
    And the form, the life of Christ, IS LOVE;
    hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into His love.”

    The neo-Cal folk got a bit lost, didn’t they? They focused on their own male importance and centered everything around that ….. they even tried to conform Christ to represent subordination to THEIR male headship.

  6. Give pastoral oversight to members. Try to make sure that every member is in regular conversation with an elder or a mature Christian in the congregation. Take initiative in getting to know what’s going on in the members’ lives.

    Beware. They are not looking for ways to support and encourage you. They are keeping track of things they can blackmail you about if need be.

    The pastor of my formal church actually kept a card file of members with things he had learned that could be used to “keep them in line” if need be.

  7. Lea wrote:

    keep those children away until

    Ahrg. The first thing that jumped into my mind… “Put those things back where they came from or so help me.”

    What-even-the-heck?

  8. There is no textual warrant at all for anyone to discern if anyone is regenerate. That is the business of the Holy Spirit, not any human being, not even the puffed-up ones generated at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. As far as I know, there is no way to actually discern that, but the control-freak KeysKops want everyone to believe that only they can discern that and they are locking the baptistry up until they unlock it. How ridiculous this is to Baptists over the age of 40 who have not consumed the 9Marks coolade (misspelling intentional so as not to tarnish the brand.)

    The sin of asking too many inconvenient questions about inconvenient topics or persons is not in any church covenants or in the Bible, as far as I know, but it is enough to disqualify one from being affirmed as a Christian. How very odd. Creative, for sure, but odd for people who like to trumpet how very Biblical and serious they all are.

  9. Lea wrote:

    Jesus:let the little Children come to me; become like they are
    9marx: keep those children away until they grow up and become 9marx approved like me humility himself cj mahaney!

    It made me think back to my childhood Bible with the pictures, imagining the one with Jesus and the little children, only this time he was holding them at arms length and staring at them sternly. You captured the 9Marks ideology well, sadly.

  10. My dad used to sing solos in church. One of my favorite songs he sang was “The love of God, how rich and pure. How marvelous and strong. It shall forever more endure the saints and angels songs… God’s love to me is beyond all measure. My feeble brain cannot even comprehend how much he loves you and I.

    The scripture above – Zach 3:17, is the one I had put on the back of the program for my mother-in-law’s funeral 18 months ago. My mom found it for me. Thank you for sharing this again. To think that God rejoices over us in singing, WOW. I can sing some, but don’t have the greatest voice by far, but yet I give praise back to God with my voice. It will never compare to his though.

  11. siteseer wrote:

    Beware. They are not looking for ways to support and encourage you. They are keeping track of things they can blackmail you about if need be.

    I was a bit baffled at the idea of keeping nonmembers away from small groups (I have never been to a church that did this!!) but if they are using them to soak up dirt on all the members in some weird come clean athon then maybe it makes sense? It’s still wrong, of course.

  12. These articles are very helpful. One other issue is the rules that are not in writing, the ones that leaders do not preach on but are more important that all that love your neighbor, forgive, be slow to anger, feed the poor, clothe the naked Hippy Jesus nonsense. The rules like, not sighing too much, not sitting next to the wrong women who think your scum, not saying that kicking out people with mental illness that you told to stop taking the devil meds and repent of being schizophrenic, not to question the latest end time nonsense coming down the pike, not saying our father with the elderly people at the convalescent hospital because it’s the only prayer they remember and they want to take part because its way to catholic. Don’t ask for help on anything because you want attention, don’t bring up issues like the lady that tried to rip her one eye that was left with a fork and you get confused about why God gets glory out of some poor person with developmental and mental health issues doing all sorts of awful things to herself all the time.

    I could go on but the unwritten rules were far more hurtful and hard to follow because the goal posts kept moving. As for learning about God’s love, once I was “saved” I learned about how much God actually hates me, personally, from the foundations of the universe with a holy eternal passion. But God the Father Killed Jesus so he will not see us so He does not hate us anymore. Of course, that is unless you think an impure thought in the millennial kingdom in your resurrected perfect body then God will instantly cast you into perdition.

    Then there were the non-elect preborn babies that go to hell. Yes, some folks believed that and you better too or shut your mouth or you get the heretic stare. Then comes the not questioning authority about anything ever.
    Then God in His quiet yet ever pressing grace shines through all the fog, often for a moment like the sun peeking out through the clouds touching our souls with a ray or two. Other times flooding our souls with so much grace we feel like we may drown in his love. As the song says “my head’s under water but I am breathing fine.” I call this quiet grace or moments glimpsed through eternal eyes. You just know He is there and He cares. All the “true believer”/political noise just fades away and we know we are passing through to a better home. I always found that strange for the folks like J Mac and the Masters of the Universe graduates who are big on God’s sovereignty need so much control over everything.
    The wonderful people I work/worked with even at the state facility just seem to grasped this more than many of us do. I mean even when they were beating the daylights out of me I could never really get mad. Well except for the occasional bag full of across the head. Even that was funny to some degree because it was life and life is messy and all you can do at times is just laugh or cry or both. I cant tell you all just how much seeing a dear friends reconciliation with his family has healed me in so many ways. I was just so in awe of seeing this miracle. Here is wishing you all small and big glimpses of the quiet grace of God.

  13. brian wrote:

    Then there were the non-elect preborn babies that go to hell. Yes, some folks believed that and you better too or shut your mouth or you get the heretic stare.

    I can’t begin to imagine why the people who preach this stuff think it is ‘the Good News’. If God is a monster who burns little babies for all eternity, what else is there to know that could possibly matter ????? Nothing. Period. They make the burning of these infants a Holocaust and they portray God as a Hitler figure who sends children to death. Only ‘God’ is worse, because he burns the babies and their suffering for all eternity adds to his glory??????

    Satanic. Absolutely satanic.

  14. brian wrote:

    Here is wishing you all small and big glimpses of the quiet grace of God.

    And for you, too, BRIAN. God Bless!

  15. Gram3 wrote:

    . As far as I know, there is no way to actually discern that, but the control-freak KeysKops want everyone to believe that only they can

    At my former 9 Marxists Gulag/*church*, Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley,the pastors/elders would tell hundreds of church members that the pastors/elders had “worked with [name of church member with critical thinking skills] for years and that person continued in [name of made of sin, involving critical thinking skills], and you should have nothing to do with them, call them to ‘repent’ if you see them.”

    Since the Statute of Limitations hasn’t expired about GBFSV pastors/elders latest email about me to hundreds of church members, I am contacting attorneys about suing Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders. They need to be made an example of.

  16. siteseer wrote:

    Beware. They are not looking for ways to support and encourage you.

    They are looking for ways the sheep support the [false] shepherd.

  17. Christiane wrote:

    brian wrote:
    Then there were the non-elect preborn babies that go to hell. Yes, some folks believed that and you better too or shut your mouth or you get the heretic stare.
    I can’t begin to imagine why the people who preach this stuff think it is ‘the Good News’. If God is a monster who burns little babies for all eternity, what else is there to know that could possibly matter ????? Nothing. Period. They make the burning of these infants a Holocaust and they portray God as a Hitler figure who sends children to death. Only ‘God’ is worse, because he burns the babies and their suffering for all eternity adds to his glory??????
    Satanic. Absolutely satanic.

    Actually, Christiane, it was explained like this, not from the pulpit but in the little theological huddles that actually held more authority. First, we are all dead in Adam, from the very moment of conception to our last dying breath we are under the curse of the law. God is so holy that nothing at all that has any taint of sin, including being sick, not having a perfect body, anything corrupted by this world cannot even be seen by God at all. So God knows who He is going to save for His Glory alone, and scripture is very clear it will be very very …….very few people. So if an infant or a baby dies before birth and is not elect (makes a full conscious cognisant totally correct profession of faith and does not ever waiver ever. They may be saved but I digress. The nonelect will also be given glorified bodies when Christ returns but they will be eternal bodies of corruption due to their fall in Adam if like a baby has not actually sinned. Then they will be told to depart because Christ never knew them. This also includes those that fall away or those that were not truly repentant but thought they were but at the last moment at the great white throne judgment will also be cast into perdition to the Glory of God the Father. It actually goes down the crazy hole even farther but that’s about the best I remember it.

    Now not everyone actually believed this it was just want came from the mothership in our little group. I have to be honest I think people just paint themselves into theological corners so they keep adding stuff to try to make it all fit. I think that is where most of this nonsense comes from. It really does mess with your head to be honest.

  18. brian wrote:

    God is so holy that nothing at all that has any taint of sin, including being sick, not having a perfect body, anything corrupted by this world cannot even be seen by God at all

    But Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” God had no problem walking amongst the everyday people (sick, healthy, rich, poor, men, women, children, sinners) of Israel. He was not offended or put off by anyone.

  19. @ brian:
    I wonder if thy believe that CJ Mahaney and the other gospel™ boys will be standing with God helping him to make the decisions?

  20. I was an elder at a 9 Marks church for 7 years. My wife and I never heard once from the pulpit that God loved us. Not once. We never heard our Father loves us. I was to blame in part because I preached most Sunday evenings. And it never came from my lips, either. We are at a different church (and state) now and we hear that God loves us just about every week. It's been good for our soul.

  21. @ Jerome:
    They say

    “reforming a church’s documents so that they are biblically faithful, pastorally wise, and practically sound is one of the most important steps in leading a church to reflect God’s glorious character in its life together.”
    Note: they are the ones who are pastorally wise even though they have totally mucked up church discipline.

  22. Take initiative in getting to know what’s going on in the members’ lives.

    No. That is creepy and cult-like, and any pastor who thinks they need to know and/or micro-manage the lives of their congregation has already crossed the line into control freak territory.

  23. brian wrote:

    It really does mess with your head to be honest.

    It’s a horrible teaching. It makes God into a monster.

  24. but also those pesky little secondary rules that can bite you on the dupa (Russian/Polish word for bottom pronounced doo-pah.)

    Wow dee! I haven’t heard dupa since I was a kid growing up in the South Eastern corner of Wisconsin on Lake Michigan (Racine & Kenosha).
    The area is home to a fairly large Polish population as well as Jews and other Eastern European ethnicities.

  25. brian wrote:

    Christiane wrote:
    brian wrote:
    Then there were the non-elect preborn babies that go to hell. Yes, some folks believed that and you better too or shut your mouth or you get the heretic stare.
    I can’t begin to imagine why the people who preach this stuff think it is ‘the Good News’. If God is a monster who burns little babies for all eternity, what else is there to know that could possibly matter ????? Nothing. Period. They make the burning of these infants a Holocaust and they portray God as a Hitler figure who sends children to death. Only ‘God’ is worse, because he burns the babies and their suffering for all eternity adds to his glory??????
    Satanic. Absolutely satanic.
    Actually, Christiane, it was explained like this, not from the pulpit but in the little theological huddles that actually held more authority. First, we are all dead in Adam, from the very moment of conception to our last dying breath we are under the curse of the law. God is so holy that nothing at all that has any taint of sin, including being sick, not having a perfect body, anything corrupted by this world cannot even be seen by God at all. So God knows who He is going to save for His Glory alone, and scripture is very clear it will be very very …….very few people. So if an infant or a baby dies before birth and is not elect (makes a full conscious cognisant totally correct profession of faith and does not ever waiver ever. They may be saved but I digress. The nonelect will also be given glorified bodies when Christ returns but they will be eternal bodies of corruption due to their fall in Adam if like a baby has not actually sinned. Then they will be told to depart because Christ never knew them. This also includes those that fall away or those that were not truly repentant but thought they were but at the last moment at the great white throne judgment will also be cast into perdition to the Glory of God the Father. It actually goes down the crazy hole even farther but that’s about the best I remember it.
    Now not everyone actually believed this it was just want came from the mothership in our little group. I have to be honest I think people just paint themselves into theological corners so they keep adding stuff to try to make it all fit. I think that is where most of this nonsense comes from. It really does mess with your head to be honest.

    Let me put minds at rest here. First, I am NOT a Universalist, let me get that out of the way right quick. BUT I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus died for the sins of the entire world. Now of course there are people who turn Him away, etc…..but I believe those babies are in Heaven, no problem. Jesus took care of that.

    As far as everything else, since the Bible teaches that we were crucified with Christ and now He lives in us-He is our life-churches who keep harping on us being lowly worms are disrespecting the finished work of Christ. I mean, if one is a believer, if one has repented and believed the good news, we are righteous in HIm, and He is sanctifying us by faith. We are saved by faith, and we are cleaned up by faith. What awesome love He has shown us!!!! Yes, we still mess up but He is faithful to forgive….we have a God who loves extravagantly. He is not stingy, He is not cruel, He is not condemning….even if the Holy Spirit does convict us He is specific and He does it all in love.

    These 9 Marks folks sure are missing the point from what I can see. It is sad.

  26. Adam E. wrote:

    I was an elder at a 9 Marks church for 7 years. My wife and I never heard once from the pupil that God loved us. Not once. We never heard our Father loves us.

    I am so glad that you are at another church that preaches this. My church preaches it almost every week as well.

    Two weeks ago my pastor said “I may not know all of you well but I talk for the One who Knows each one of you perfectly well.” He proceeded to talk about how much God loves us. I almost started crying since he was so sincere and what he was saying was so beautiful.

  27. Adam E. wrote:

    I was an elder at a 9 Marks church for 7 years. My wife and I never heard once from the pulpit that God loved us. Not once. We never heard our Father loves us. I was to blame in part because I preached most Sunday evenings. And it never came from my lips, either. We are at a different church (and state) now and we hear that God loves us just about every week. It’s been good for our soul.

    I am so glad to hear that you came to your senses. There is hope for some 9 Marxists.

  28. I should point out that the group I am referring to are not nine marks folks at all most of this happened in the early 80’s and it was a rather intense little group. But I have found others do tend to hold to the issues I rose concerning the loss of children who were outside of any said system of salvation. I hope everyone has a wonderful evening.

  29. Recently, I got a direct message from one of the 9 Marks guys all upset that I used the word *gulag* to describe what the 9 Marks guys did to Marie Notcheva.

    It was when I watched others dealing with an authoritarian pastor that it clicked. The autocrat dismissed someone’s concern beacuase they didn’t properly formulate their words. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to carefully choose your words but even when remarkably well articulated the response was still same, indifference. On the other hand I witnessed instances where the leaders made nasty comments and on the few occasions they were called on it, the dissenter was pronounced guilty of having the wrong attitude. Heads they win, tails you lose.

  30. siteseer wrote:

    Beware. They are not looking for ways to support and encourage you. They are keeping track of things they can blackmail you about if need be.

    The pastor of my formal church actually kept a card file of members with things he had learned that could be used to “keep them in line” if need be.

    JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY AUDITING RECORDS!

  31. Bill M wrote:

    The autocrat dismissed someone’s concern beacuase they didn’t properly formulate their words.

    Just like all the Communist Fanboy Intellectuals I ran into in my college days.
    (The one neo-Nazi was actually a refreshing change — very direct.)

  32. Dee wrote:

    @ brian:
    I wonder if thy believe that CJ Mahaney and the other gospel™ boys will be standing with God helping him to make the decisions?

    I’m sure of it.
    After all, whatever would God do on J-Day without Pastor/Apostle Grima Wormtongue at His side whispering in His ear who’s REALLY Saved and who’s not?

  33. Bridget wrote:

    Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” God had no problem walking amongst the everyday people (sick, healthy, rich, poor, men, women, children, sinners) of Israel. He was not offended or put off by anyone.

    Except the Pious God Squad types.

  34. Christiane wrote:

    brian wrote:

    Then there were the non-elect preborn babies that go to hell. Yes, some folks believed that and you better too or shut your mouth or you get the heretic stare.

    I can’t begin to imagine why the people who preach this stuff think it is ‘the Good News’. If God is a monster who burns little babies for all eternity, what else is there to know that could possibly matter ????? Nothing. Period. They make the burning of these infants a Holocaust and they portray God as a Hitler figure who sends children to death. Only ‘God’ is worse, because he burns the babies and their suffering for all eternity adds to his glory??????

    Satanic. Absolutely satanic.

    Nya Ha Ha, My Dear Wormwood.
    Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the very foot of the altar!

  35. Love has been turned upside down. We must love committed church members because if we don’t, we are not committed to and don’t love God. The love of God to his creation is not a matter for discussion-only our sinful behavior.

    My Dear Wormwood,

    I refer you to my previous epistle on Semantics, specifically the redefinition of words into their “diabolic meanings”.

    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

  36. Velour wrote:

    I am so glad to hear that you came to your senses. There is hope for some 9 Marxists.

    I believe there is much hope for 9Marxists. God is faithful.

    My experience is that 9Marx authoritarian pastors purposely select young men to be elders because they can be easily manipulated to rubber-stamp whatever it is the senior pastor, in all his wisdom, desires to implement.

    I used to be young and foolish. Now I am old and a little less foolish. I have just enough wisdom to know that 9Marx guys are not as wise as they want you to believe they are.

    Those in 9Marx churches will slowly see the light. The Holy Spirit will do His job. Unfortunately, many lives will be negatively impacted as Dever and Leeman continue to profit off their business venture.

    The negatively impacted people are something I question God about. But there is much in this world I don’t understand.

  37. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    Those in 9Marx churches will slowly see the light. The Holy Spirit will do His job. Unfortunately, many lives will be negatively impacted as Dever and Leeman continue to profit off their business venture.

    So true, Todd.

  38. I wonder if they ever sing this old hymn by Edward Mote?

    My hope is built on nothing less
    than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

    Refrain:
    On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
    all other ground is sinking sand,
    all other ground is sinking sand.

    2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
    I rest on his unchanging grace;
    in every high and stormy gale,
    my anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]

    3 His oath, his covenant, his blood
    support me in the whelming flood;
    when all around my soul gives way,
    he then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]

    4 When he shall come with trumpet sound,
    O may I then in him be found,
    dressed in his righteousness alone,
    faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]

  39. I don’t think any honest person can believe that Dever and his herd of sycophantic suckups have anything Christian at all about their religion. It is so far outside of the teachings of Jesus. And as Jesus once said; you shall know them by their fruits. The Neo-Cal crowd has borne fruit, and it best described in Gal. 5:19-21. Do the math.

  40. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    I don’t think any honest person can believe that Dever and his herd of sycophantic suckups have anything Christian at all about their religion. It is so far outside of the teachings of Jesus. And as Jesus once said; you shall know them by their fruits. The Neo-Cal crowd has borne fruit, and it best described in Gal. 5:19-21. Do the math.

    So true. I can smell the stench of Mark Dever’s rotten fruit in Washington, D.C. all of the way to California where I live in Silicon Valley.

    He’s a petty, hateful man who knows nothing of the Royal Law of Love. He’s never heard the true Gospel. He’s never converted to the true Gospel. He just knows a bunch of words.

    Ditto for Jonathan Leeman.

    It’s sad and bad what they’ve not only done to their own lives, but the damage they’ve spread across the nation and around the world. And they aren’t sorry!

  41. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    Those in 9Marx churches will slowly see the light. The Holy Spirit will do His job.

    Maybe. Maybe not. 9marx will be replaced by the “Next Big Thing” and so on and so on. In the eighties it was Moral majority, then programs like purpose driven, now 9 marks/acts 29/ gospel coalition. It’ll be something else.
    Our society is more pluralistic. Christianity doesn’t have the same influence it once did. In some ways maybe that’s created a more rigid view among these churches. More us vs them.
    But with pluralism and such tools as the internet there is also great opportunity. Liberal democracy and an open society also provide a great base of operations.

  42. AnonInNC wrote:

    Take initiative in getting to know what’s going on in the members’ lives.

    No. That is creepy and cult-like, and any pastor who thinks they need to know and/or micro-manage the lives of their congregation has already crossed the line into control freak territory.

    First of all, good luck finding out what’s going on in my life beyond the superficial if I don’t know you very well And second, who would want to share with people who are only trying to scratch up dirt on you?

    Also Brian, that perfect body thing I see nowhere in scripture!

  43. Bill M wrote:

    Heads they win, tails you lose.

    Exactly! The only way to win that game is not to play. And generally in these circles that goes Double if you’re a woman.

  44. Great oringinal post.
    To me, the New Testment is all about how Christ has set us free from the law. The whole 9 Marks/NeoCal thing is clearly putting people back under the law, just their law, not even Old Testment law! It is the love of Christ/G&d that has set us free..

    Philip Yancy’s book explained it well to me… We as humans find true grace “scandalous”… how can that terrible person over there get the same grace from G&d that I do! Look at all the great things for G&d that I do!!! Consquetently people like Devers and Neo-Cal bunch create new rules to show that they actual deserve the “Grace”, while all those heathans over there do not..

  45. Christiane wrote:

    I can’t begin to imagine why the people who preach this stuff think it is ‘the Good News’. If God is a monster who burns little babies for all eternity, what else is there to know that could possibly matter ????? Nothing. Period. They make the burning of these infants a Holocaust and they portray God as a Hitler figure who sends children to death. Only ‘God’ is worse, because he burns the babies and their suffering for all eternity adds to his glory??????

    Neither can I imagine why they do this. But then it has to be remembered that the question of what happens to unbaptized infants, the Catholic version of what about babies who die, existed long before protestants got into the act on babies and original sin (or) babies and non-elect status as the discussion may vary a tad from protestant to protestant. So, are they saved, or do they go to limbo either as previously described or not, or do we just ‘hope’ for their salvation some way?

    I am posting this merely to demonstrate that here is my resource for how the current RCC seems to be dealing with the issue.

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

    In my opinion, some of the things that protestants get into theological conflicts over are areas in which they have rejected the catholic ideas and have not formed workable alternative ideas of their own. And, also in my opinion, there is way too much theologizing by every tom, dick and harry who gets appointed to some pulpit. And far too many hysterical ideas among the pew persons in their small groups.

    But no, and this is why I wrote this comment, it is not just the protestants who have some difficult ideas and conjectures regarding infants. I have to say this about the idea of infant baptisms however. When I was an intern in a catholic hospital and I saw catholic RN’s actually baptizing what seemed to be blood clots in a miscarrying patient just in case a tiny fetus might be there, I as a protestant was appalled at that. I have changed my mind, not about the fate of unbaptized infants, but rather I see that they were absolutely committed to the salvation of souls under whatever circumstances and whoever the soul might be, and within the beliefs of their church. That attitude is Christ like.

  46. Seems an appropriate post on which to repost my “*favorite*” 9Marks “*freudian slip*”.
    Dave aka Appalled on Thu Feb 02, 2012 at 09:52 PM said:
    Back on 9-29-11 Bobby (Jamieson) posted a question about how pastors should relate to ex-members who are attending new churches– not so bad as those resigning “into the world”, i suppose.
    On 10-1 Michael McKinley posted what I presume is the official answer, including point number 5
    ” When I run into “ex-members”, I try to be gracious. Unless there is unrepentant sin, I generally ignore the church issue and simply try to seem warm and kind.”
    I commented, ” Michael, I hope you misspoke in #5 and you try to BE warm and kind, not SEEM that way.”
    He had a friendly reply, but hasn’t edited his post. (Update 5years 2days later the article is no longer found)

  47. Hey – I’m just curious. Who was the 9 Marks individual who direct messaged you, Dee? Did he know me, anything about what HBC did to me, or my biblical counseling ministry?

  48. “By THIS everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” (John 13:35 AMP)

    Love is not the missing mark of a healthy church; it is THE only mark by which a genuine gathering of God’s people can be known. It ought to be obvious when you walk in the door, when you encounter church members, when you hear the first song, when you hear the pastor speak. Love flows through an assembly which genuinely loves Christ and each other; they are there to worship Him, not a theology or the man on the stage. They are bound by love, not a contract. If agape love is not evident in the entire fabric of the church, it is but a religious temple cluttered with teachings and traditions of men. Love is the litmus test for authentic church, not how many points and marks one may profess. Is there a demonstrated “love and unselfish concern for one another” in the place you attend? If not, God is not working through the pulpit and pew to draw others to Christ. Don’t waste your time where Jesus doesn’t go … where love is absent … where law, not love, is preeminent.

  49. Thanks Dee and Deb, for continuing to bring these serious problems in the church out into the open. Yes, any group that builds its teachings (or perhaps more accurately its “theology”) about healthy churches around a set of principles that doesn’t include love in the #1 spot has totally missed the mark. That glaring omission in large part explains the outrageous things that are taking place in some churches. It greatly saddens and worries me that so many churches seem to be following a theology of laws, rules and control, rather than a path of developing a relationship with Jesus Christ and allowing his love for people to flow through the church and into the community.

  50. Max wrote:

    Jeffrey J . Chalmers wrote:

    The whole 9 Marks/NeoCal thing is clearly putting people back under the law

    Amen! They may preach grace, grace, grace … but don’t really know Grace.

    They are clueless when it comes to grace. They only believe in grace for themselves!

  51. GC wrote:

    a theology of laws, rules and control, rather than a path of developing a relationship with Jesus Christ

    Exactly. New Calvinism is all about law, not love … religion, not relationship. A truly born-again believer can’t venture too far into New Calvinism before shouting “What about Jesus?!”

  52. Max wrote:

    GC wrote:

    a theology of laws, rules and control, rather than a path of developing a relationship with Jesus Christ

    Exactly. New Calvinism is all about law, not love … religion, not relationship. A truly born-again believer can’t venture too far into New Calvinism before shouting “What about Jesus?!”

    They do not know Jesus–only Calvin.

  53. Dave A A wrote:

    On 10-1 Michael McKinley posted what I presume is the official answer, including point number 5” When I run into “ex-members”, I try to be gracious. Unless there is unrepentant sin, I generally ignore the church issue and simply try to seem warm and kind.”

    I commented, ” Michael, I hope you misspoke in #5 and you try to BE warm and kind, not SEEM that way.”

    These people have problems that they even feel the need to really think through how they will interact with people they used to go to church with. Normal people don’t have these concerns. I treat people from old churches the same way I treat anybody else I know or used to know! What nonsense.

  54. Max wrote:

    Amen! They may preach grace, grace, grace … but don’t really know Grace.

    Nor do they exhibit grace ……. they certainly don’t teach what they preach by example.

  55. Lea wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:

    On 10-1 Michael McKinley posted what I presume is the official answer, including point number 5” When I run into “ex-members”, I try to be gracious. Unless there is unrepentant sin, I generally ignore the church issue and simply try to seem warm and kind.”

    I commented, ” Michael, I hope you misspoke in #5 and you try to BE warm and kind, not SEEM that way.”

    These people have problems that they even feel the need to really think through how they will interact with people they used to go to church with. Normal people don’t have these concerns. I treat people from old churches the same way I treat anybody else I know or used to know! What nonsense.

    These people act h e l l i s h!!

  56. Adam E. wrote:

    I was an elder at a 9 Marks church for 7 years. My wife and I never heard once from the pulpit that God loved us. Not once. We never heard our Father loves us. I was to blame in part because I preached most Sunday evenings. And it never came from my lips, either. We are at a different church (and state) now and we hear that God loves us just about every week. It's been good for our soul.

    Thanks so much for chiming in. It breaks my heart that so many are being hurt by Mark Dever and his 9Marks. It's tragic how many unhealthy congregations are being spawned from this so-called ministry.

  57. Lea wrote:

    These people have problems that they even feel the need to really think through how they will interact with people they used to go to church with. Normal people don’t have the

    Several years ago, dozens of homes/barns/garages in my area were burglarized by a couple of druggies. We were in the process of preparing to move into our current house, working on repairs in it…….. it was robbed, lots of tools were taken. My mother’s house was robbed twice – they even took her heat/air unit. They even stole a bicycle that belonged to my neighbor’s 8 yo daughter ……… Crazy thing – I saw them at the neighbor’s house, said something to my dad, and my dad and my cousin caught the robbers in the act and barricaded them in the driveway until law enforcement arrived and took them away. We all recovered most of our belongings at the courthouse after troopers raided a pawn shop. I know the druggies – they live about 2 miles from me.

    These people react to people who leave their church the same way we react to the men who robbed us.

  58. In the NT we see Paul disagreeing with people who want, either for themselves or for other people, to be under the law. So, a question I have never heard adequately discussed is why did these people want to be under the law, want to be circumcised; because there were people obviously who were attracted to that.

    I have tended to hear it presented only from the viewpoint that there were judaizers misleading and actually preying on people about this, but I don’t think the text supports that aspect as the whole picture. It looks like there were also those who were attracted to that idea themselves, else why would Paul have had to contend so strenuously against it if there were not a market for it.

    So first years and then centuries pass and indeed Christianity sets up its own system replete with laws and procedures basically from the get go with all that goes along with that. Now in our time we have people offering a way of being Christian that is heavy on laws and procedures. Apparently, there is a market for this and there are people who are attracted to this.

    Maybe we are overlooking something when we do not also look at why people might be attracted to this style of christianity. What need might it satisfy that would make it worth while going that route? What is the attraction? And, if it satisfies some human need, or some need for some people but not others, perhaps we need to ask whether there might be some way to meet that need without developing toxic systems and empowering tyrants.

  59. @ Nancy2:
    I was raised/trained in a IFB tradition, and they also (as a theological position) struggle with the concept of grace.. I think they “get it”, but yet they are so wound up on drawing tighter and tigher circles on how you should “behave”.. which, in practice, is just being under that law again…

  60. Funny thing… I can never remember more than two or three of the 9 Marks, but I can always recall Jesus’ greatest commandment.

  61. I’m only partway through the article and I have had to stop, to take a few deep breaths. I’m actually shaking at the harshness of 9Marks’ own words.

    My word. The juxtaposition between “God sings…” and “Require your members to…” is jarring.

    If 9Marks is preaching a gospel, it strikes me as a different gospel, shown in this light.

  62. Todd Wilhelm

    Those in 9Marx churches will slowly see the light. The Holy Spirit will do His job. Unfortunately, many lives will be negatively impacted as Dever and Leeman continue to profit off their business venture.

    I believe all of this is true. I have seen several ones see the light, and they are ones I would not have expected. But, hey, I was not one I would have expected either!

  63. brian wrote:

    I always found that strange for the folks like J Mac and the Masters of the Universe graduates who are big on God’s sovereignty need so much control over everything.

    Brian,
    The sunlight peeking through the clouds, that glimpse of God and love… Thank you. I needed to hear that today.

    I quoted the bit above because it struck me how much they are making a god in their own image. They need control over everything, so they construct a god out of bits and pieces of scripture (and their interpretations of scripture) that sounds like a spoiled, unloved 2yo.

  64. Gram3 wrote:

    Todd Wilhelm
    Those in 9Marx churches will slowly see the light. The Holy Spirit will do His job. Unfortunately, many lives will be negatively impacted as Dever and Leeman continue to profit off their business venture.
    I believe all of this is true. I have seen several ones see the light, and they are ones I would not have expected. But, hey, I was not one I would have expected either!

    Among the negatively impacted… how many believers’ children will walk away from the church, and declare themselves atheists, and swear they want nothing to do with any kind of god? I know too many of them, and the number is growing.

  65. okrapod wrote:

    When I was an intern in a catholic hospital and I saw catholic RN’s actually baptizing what seemed to be blood clots in a miscarrying patient just in case a tiny fetus might be there, I as a protestant was appalled at that.

    while at university, I was a ward clerk at a Catholic hospital in our city. A woman had a miscarriage of a fetus on the hall where I worked, and the nurses brought the dead fetus and placed it on a counter by a sink just off of the nurses’ station. One of them said I might want to see it, it was recognizable features. I did see it. In private, using some water from the sink, I baptized the fetus with the formal words of my Church, and I added a prayer to God to make up for anything that I had not done correctly for the sake of the child’s soul. The other Catholic nurses had probably already baptized the fetus but I did not know that. I was at peace doing it at the time, and have remained at peace about it all these years. Your story reminded me, yes.

  66. refugee wrote:

    My word. The juxtaposition between “God sings…” and “Require your members to…” is jarring.

    I fear that the evil of hard-core fundamentalism lies in its ability to ‘accept’ the worst that can be thought about God, and to belittle or dismiss the magnificent revelation of God that we have been given in Jesus Christ.
    Using that image of a god who is a monster, these people can then mistreat others that they see as beneath them.

    When the focus is taken off of Christ and there is not a tradition Jewish understanding of the Old Testament, then I’m afraid the ‘literal plain reading’ of the Scriptures has failed these fundamentalists terribly.

    You can see it in some of their doctrines and most certainly in the way they have contempt for others.

  67. refugee wrote:

    how many believers’ children will walk away from the church, and declare themselves atheists, and swear they want nothing to do with any kind of god?

    I imagine there will be way too many. Many may disagree with me, but I think the YRR phenomenon is not so much about the doctrines of Calvin so much as a reaction against the lack of doctrinal coherence in evangelicalism in the 1970’s and 1980’s. A cohort of highly-educated Christian kids has little doctrinal education gets a whiff of a tightly-wound doctrinal system and magic happens. Certain older men figure out how to use younger men to capture these younger folks (think Challies and Piper’s free content model) and here we are.

    Is it possible that the Fab Four are essentially political? Think about it. Mohler in the SBC, Duncan in the PCA, Dever (D.C.), Mahaney (D.C.) It just seems to me that these guys have lived their adult lives in political environments. Those are legal environments, not love environments. Those are control environments, not blessing environments. I don’t think they can help themselves, even if they wanted to.

  68. refugee wrote:

    how many believers’ children will walk away from the church

    but is Dever’s realm really ‘the Church’?

    maybe they are walking from the darkness towards something they perceive as better than that, and if that is true, then something protects them:
    the will in them to leave what they know to be ‘dark’ and to go towards something less hateful IS a gift from God, and He, having begun that journey in them, will see them safely home ….

    we sojourn here, we journey and if the young understand at some level to leave what is hateful behind them, then do not think they have ‘left the Church behind’. It wasn’t ‘the Church’ many of them were leaving, was it?

  69. Gram3 wrote:

    Many may disagree with me, but I think the YRR phenomenon is not so much about the doctrines of Calvin so much as a reaction against the lack of doctrinal coherence in evangelicalism in the 1970’s and 1980’s. A cohort of highly-educated Christian kids has little doctrinal education gets a whiff of a tightly-wound doctrinal system and magic happens.

    Yes, yes and yes. I have tried and tried to talk about what happened to (some?) churches during the late great cultural revolution in this country. It was devastating. People were starved to death for serious religion and what you call a tightly-wound doctrinal system was like heroin to some. Heck, I like tightly wound and well reasoned arguments. The problem today, at least in part, is when people hear one set of arguments, do not hear the arguments on the other side of those issues, and then think they have heard a revelation from God himself. A little knowledge. If at the same time they have no concept of a living relational interaction with God, they are just pitiful. If neither the head nor the heart function optimally, and if one has no idea that one suffers from that malfunction, good grief. Starving people will eat anything.

    But yes, this is one result of the 70/80s.

  70. Christiane wrote:

    I can’t begin to imagine why the people who preach this stuff think it is ‘the Good News’. If God is a monster who burns little babies for all eternity, what else is there to know that could possibly matter ????? Nothing. Period. They make the burning of these infants a Holocaust and they portray God as a Hitler figure who sends children to death. Only ‘God’ is worse, because he burns the babies and their suffering for all eternity adds to his glory??????

    Satanic. Absolutely satanic.

    But then, at the same time, he wiped out the civilization who worshipped Molech by burning their infants to death as an offering… Makes no sense but I’m amazed how much cognitive dissonance people can hold when it comes to religion.

  71. @ okrapod:
    This is such an excellent observation and could be the basis for a separate blog post followed by a lively discussion in the comments. How about it, Dee?

  72. brian wrote:

    Now not everyone actually believed this it was just want came from the mothership in our little group. I have to be honest I think people just paint themselves into theological corners so they keep adding stuff to try to make it all fit. I think that is where most of this nonsense comes from. It really does mess with your head to be honest.

    I think you’re right, Brian. It seems like it’s the drive to define and explain God in precise detail that leads to a lot of this stuff.

  73. Lea wrote:

    These people have problems that they even feel the need to really think through how they will interact with people they used to go to church with. Normal people don’t have these concerns. I treat people from old churches the same way I treat anybody else I know or used to know!

    I’ve had to think through how to interact with those who were abusers but yes it is abnormal to worry about how to greet someone you’ve known for years that has done you no harm. I am also finding more are now former members themselves.

  74. okrapod wrote:

    In my opinion, some of the things that protestants get into theological conflicts over are areas in which they have rejected the catholic ideas and have not formed workable alternative ideas of their own.

    I was taught that Christ took Adam’s sin upon himself on the cross and thus removed it from mankind. No one is condemned based upon Adam’s sin; only upon our own sin. Therefore infants are without sin and remain so until they are old enough to knowingly and purposely commit sin.

    My own feeling is God must sadly shake his head that people even debate whether he would condemn an innocent baby to an eternal hell. But that’s just me.

  75. Gram3 wrote:

    A cohort of highly-educated Christian kids has little doctrinal education gets a whiff of a tightly-wound doctrinal system and magic happens.

    This fits my experience. The magic was a big heap of pride and arrogance by immature men who thought they should lord it over us because of their superior understanding, they had it figured out. I remember expressing some confidence in them at first because they appeared articulate and thoughtful, but then realized they came up short. At the church was one older man who was self depreciated, he was admittedly not a deep thinker, but he knew how to treat people. The young bucks would have done well to follow his lead but instead expected he should follow their “vision”.

  76. Velour wrote:

    It’s sad and bad what they’ve not only done to their own lives, but the damage they’ve spread across the nation and around the world. And they aren’t sorry!

    How can God’s Speshul Pet “be sorry” when They Can Do No Wrong?

  77. siteseer wrote:

    But then, at the same time, he wiped out the civilization who worshipped Molech by burning their infants to death as an offering… Makes no sense but I’m amazed how much cognitive dissonance people can hold when it comes to religion.

    That you would take The Ban (he wiped out the civilization who worshipped Molech by burning their infants to death as an offering) LITERALLY is a wonder to people like me.
    For fundamentalists who interpret the OT Scriptures that describe ‘The Ban’ literally, you CAN expect for them to see God as a monster, or at the very least as ‘contradictory’ which cannot be true.

  78. Christiane wrote:

    For fundamentalists who interpret the OT Scriptures that describe ‘The Ban’ literally, you CAN expect for them to see God as a monster, or at the very least as ‘contradictory’ which cannot be true.

    Like the attitude towards Stalin in the former Georgian SSR — “He was a bloodthirsty SOB, but he was a GEORGIAN bloodthirsty SOB!”

    In the above context, “He’s a Monster like Baal-Molech, but he’s OUR Monster!”

  79. Bill M wrote:

    The magic was a big heap of pride and arrogance by immature men who thought they should lord it over us because of their superior understanding, they had it figured out.

    Illuminati with their Occult Gnosis too Spiritual for our limited minds?

  80. okrapod wrote:

    Now in our time we have people offering a way of being Christian that is heavy on laws and procedures. Apparently, there is a market for this and there are people who are attracted to this.

    Maybe we are overlooking something when we do not also look at why people might be attracted to this style of christianity. What need might it satisfy that would make it worth while going that route? What is the attraction? And, if it satisfies some human need, or some need for some people but not others, perhaps we need to ask whether there might be some way to meet that need without developing toxic systems and empowering tyrants.

    True, Okrapod, the desire to set up systems of laws/works was there from the beginning and attracts many. My own feeling is, it appeals to the flesh. It seems logical. The natural bent of mankind is to establish some form of godliness based on our own merits. It is what every religion has in common- some system of rules, some level that you have to work to attain to, to achieve holiness (or whatever reward that system offers to its followers). Only Christ is different. He stands alone in saying, leave all of that behind and simply believe and follow Me. He took our sins on himself and removed them so all of that striving is set aside and we enter his rest. I believe this is what the Sabbath is symbolic of: resting from all of our works, resting in Him. He is our righteousness.

    In the old story, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is quickly tempted to get sidetracked off the path to Mt Sinai and put himself under law. It’s really hard for our human nature to let it go.

    This natural bent of ours makes us vulnerable to the unscrupulous who are happy to set up systems for us to follow that benefit themselves.

  81. okrapod wrote:

    Maybe we are overlooking something when we do not also look at why people might be attracted to this style of christianity. What need might it satisfy that would make it worth while going that route? What is the attraction? And, if it satisfies some human need, or some need for some people but not others, perhaps we need to ask whether there might be some way to meet that need without developing toxic systems and empowering tyrants.

    A brilliant comment. THIS is the kind of thinking that brings me to TWW …. examining and evaluating in order to understand the ‘why’ and to explore ‘patterns’ and then, to see if people can be encouraged to seek ‘the better way’ who have in the past sought that which is destructive to the human spirit. Thank you, OKRAPOD, for sharing this comment. 🙂

  82. Christiane wrote:

    I fear that the evil of hard-core fundamentalism lies in its ability to ‘accept’ the worst that can be thought about God, and to belittle or dismiss the magnificent revelation of God that we have been given in Jesus Christ.
    Using that image of a god who is a monster, these people can then mistreat others that they see as beneath them.

    Like the Ayatollahs of Iran or the Mullahs of Talibanistan, they are imitating their “image of a god” — Omnipotent POWER but NOT belevolent.

  83. Christiane wrote:

    For fundamentalists who interpret the OT Scriptures that describe ‘The Ban’ literally, you CAN expect for them to see God as a monster, or at the very least as ‘contradictory’ which cannot be true.

    If they take it literally, wouldn’t it follow that God hates those who abuse innocent infants? Then how would it follow that He, Himself, would consign infants to Hell? That is the cognitive dissonance I’m describing.

  84. refugee wrote:

    Among the negatively impacted… how many believers’ children will walk away from the church, and declare themselves atheists, and swear they want nothing to do with any kind of god? I know too many of them, and the number is growing.

    I used to call that the “Take Your God And Shove It!” reaction, after the well-known country/western song:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhWhy2VGaY8

    But that is only one of two possible crackup reactions; the other is to Double Down, become twice the True Believer, and SCREAM LOUDER!

  85. mot wrote:

    Lea wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:

    On 10-1 Michael McKinley posted what I presume is the official answer, including point number 5” When I run into “ex-members”, I try to be gracious. Unless there is unrepentant sin, I generally ignore the church issue and simply try to seem warm and kind.”

    I commented, ” Michael, I hope you misspoke in #5 and you try to BE warm and kind, not SEEM that way.”

    These people have problems that they even feel the need to really think through how they will interact with people they used to go to church with. Normal people don’t have these concerns. I treat people from old churches the same way I treat anybody else I know or used to know! What nonsense.

    These people act h e l l i s h!!

    “Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the very foot of the altar, My Dear Wormwood!”

  86. mot wrote:

    Max wrote:

    GC wrote:

    a theology of laws, rules and control, rather than a path of developing a relationship with Jesus Christ

    Exactly. New Calvinism is all about law, not love … religion, not relationship. A truly born-again believer can’t venture too far into New Calvinism before shouting “What about Jesus?!”

    They do not know Jesus–only Calvin.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lg7MAacSPNM

  87. refugee wrote:

    I quoted the bit above because it struck me how much they are making a god in their own image. They need control over everything, so they construct a god out of bits and pieces of scripture (and their interpretations of scripture) that sounds like a spoiled, unloved 2yo.

    Or like the god of this world.

  88. Do you not realise ( according to Calvinista) that the Elders exercising DISCIPLINE to the flock is showing the love of the Lord!

  89. @ siteseer:
    thank you for clarifying …. I misunderstood

    I agree. The consequences of the illogical contrasts are horrific indeed, when the view of ‘who God is’ gives license to ‘believers’ to treat others poorly

    “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
    (Anne Lamott)

    The ‘god’ that is used to support mean-spirited hatefulness may in fact be the corrupted view of the ‘god’ of one’s own inability to see ‘others’ in a way that Christ wants us to see them: the way of loving others simply for their sake as He did, not for something they have done or could do that would please us, but because in the Incarnation of Christ (as Dietrich Bonhoeffer has said), we have become ‘the brothers and sisters of all humanity’.

  90. Deb wrote:

    Funny thing… I can never remember more than two or three of the 9 Marks, but I can always recall Jesus’ greatest commandment.

    Precisely.

    As others here have pointed out, the ONLY “mark” of a ‘healthy Biblical church” is LOVE, which NEVER made it to Mark Dever’s list 0f 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.

  91. ANDREW KENNY wrote:

    Do you not realise ( according to Calvinista) that the Elders exercising DISCIPLINE to the flock is showing the love of the Lord!

    Sounds like a man who’s been love-bombed!

  92. ANDREW KENNY wrote:

    Do you not realise ( according to Calvinista) that the Elders exercising DISCIPLINE to the flock is showing the love of the Lord!

    Sounds like a batterer who beats his wife and says he does it because he “loves” her and she “deserves” it.

  93. Velour wrote:

    As others here have pointed out, the ONLY “mark” of a ‘healthy Biblical church” is LOVE, which NEVER made it to Mark Dever’s list 0f 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.

    Love thy neighbor as thyself. ………. Dever, Mahaney, Piper, Mohler, Chandler, Keller, Duncan, etc. are neighbors. Pew peons are not neighbors – they are underlings who need to be controlled and disciplined.

  94. Bunny wrote:

    First, I am NOT a Universalist, let me get that out of the way right quick. BUT I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus died for the sins of the entire world.

    Great comment. The accusation of being a universaliist gets thrown out pretty quickly by the YRR crowd and others of similar theological background. The funny thing is, pretty much all Christians are universalists when it comes to Adam’s impact on humanity. However, if we compare what Jesus did for us compared with what Adam did for us, Jesus did much more:

    1 Corinthians 15:22 – “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

    Romans 5:15 – “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

    Romans 5:18-21 – “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    The YRR’s have a funny relationship with the word “all.” It means “all” when it suits them, but it means “some” when it doesn’t. The charge of universalism is unfounded if we take the Bible as a whole. It’s possible to believe in unlimited atonement while also believing that that some people will reject Jesus’ sacrifice for themselves. That does not make God less sovereign.

  95. Ken F wrote:

    It’s possible to believe in unlimited atonement while also believing that that some people will reject Jesus’ sacrifice for themselves. That does not make God less sovereign.

    Great comment…. hopefully reassuring for Bunny.

    in the Incarnation, what was ‘assumed’ can be healed:
    that is the understanding we have in catholic/orthodox tradition

  96. Christiane wrote:

    in the Incarnation, what was ‘assumed’ can be healed:
    that is the understanding we have in catholic/orthodox tradition

    I’ve gone through a two-year spiritual/theological remodeling. I feel like I’m at the point where the deconstruction is mostly complete – the place is a mess and it’s only possible to see the basic outline of what it will be. But I feel like I am on a better path than where I started. I am very grateful for many of the Easter Orthodox writings I found along the way.

  97. @ okrapod:
    @ nancyjane:
    I actually like that idea!!I had a pastor who led interesting discussions about why people wanted to return to the law as Paul talks about here. I could take okra pod’s comment and riff off it for a discussion on this issue.
    I will put the comment into a draft post and try to discuss it sometime in the coming few weeks. Great idea, nancyjane.

  98. @ dee:
    I started to reply because I think I have a good idea why they want to do this. But I think I will save it for a post so we can get into a good discussion on the matter.

  99. @ Ken F:
    I’m sure Athanasius and the Cappadocian Fathers helped a bit. The writings of the Eastern Fathers offer us a look at ‘humility’ as something basic to our Christianity; and also show us the beauty of having a comfort level with the ‘mystery’ of God, which our poor ‘Western’ minds struggle terribly. We in the West need our Eastern brothers in the faith for ‘balance’.

    Good for you that you are finding your way theologically. Okrapod has also written of such a journey and in a way, I think in some way all Christian people try to make the faith their own by re-examining all they have been told and searching out that which resonates with a chord within their own hearts.

  100. AnonInNC wrote:

    No. That is creepy and cult-like, and any pastor who thinks they need to know and/or micro-manage the lives of their congregation has already crossed the line into control freak territory.

    Well, they’re only extrapolating out from what they teach about God and applying it to the every day human events and lives of their congregants. In their (calvinista) view, the Almighty has no interest in partnering with you on your journey, nor does he want to be your ‘friend’. He wants to micro-manage your every move and motivation and to make sure that you exist solely to aggrandize his glory*.

    *I live in the Bible belt West which extends Eastward from Southern Calif. into Arizona and I have yet to hear an Arminian leaning fundagelical outfit preach anything different in that aspect.

  101. dee wrote:

    I could take okra pod’s comment and riff off it for a discussion on this issue.
    I will put the comment into a draft post and try to discuss it sometime in the coming few weeks. Great idea, nancyjane.

    🙂

  102. Bill M wrote:

    I’ve had to think through how to interact with those who were abusers

    Well sure but I think I would place them in a similar category with an ex-boss or boyfriend who was awful, or a frenemy or something like that, depending on our past. There wouldn’t be a ‘church abuser’ category separate from the ‘regular abuser’ category.

  103. ANDREW KENNY wrote:

    Do you not realise ( according to Calvinista) that the Elders exercising DISCIPLINE to the flock is showing the love of the Lord!

    IT’s Orwellian, isn’t it. Love is discipline. Leadership is authority and micromanaging. Be a servant = tell everybody what to do. Is it any wonder they get it so wrong?

  104. Ken F wrote:

    The YRR’s have a funny relationship with the word “all.” It means “all” when it suits them, but it means “some” when it doesn’t. The charge of universalism is unfounded if we take the Bible as a whole. It’s possible to believe in unlimited atonement while also believing that that some people will reject Jesus’ sacrifice for themselves. That does not make God less sovereign.

    I’ve always been a bit mystified by my Calvinista friends who are the first to shout they are more biblical than everyone else, and then then avoid verses like you mentioned like the plague. “That doesn’t count!” isn’t an argument for being biblical or logical.

    Not so related, I’ve noticed something over the past few weeks. All the big Bible searches I’ve used for a long time have removed the KJV and NASB with Strong’s numbers, so you can’t look up the Greek text as you go. I know at least three of the big ones are associated with Bible translation publishers.

  105. I think the lack of love at the 9 marks churches that I have attended may have been compounded by male authoritarianism. Johanna’s story was very enlightening. Admittedly it is a very small sample size, but my wife displays much more empathy and is more nurturing than me. When the roles of women are downplayed or diminished, could this result in unloving and abusive behavior?

    I think these 9 marks churches may need more of what John Piper calls “feminine feels.”

  106. ishy wrote:

    Ken F wrote:

    The YRR’s have a funny relationship with the word “all.” It means “all” when it suits them, but it means “some” when it doesn’t. The charge of universalism is unfounded if we take the Bible as a whole. It’s possible to believe in unlimited atonement while also believing that that some people will reject Jesus’ sacrifice for themselves. That does not make God less sovereign.

    I’ve always been a bit mystified by my Calvinista friends who are the first to shout they are more biblical than everyone else, and then then avoid verses like you mentioned like the plague. “That doesn’t count!” isn’t an argument for being biblical or logical.

    Not so related, I’ve noticed something over the past few weeks. All the big Bible searches I’ve used for a long time have removed the KJV and NASB with Strong’s numbers, so you can’t look up the Greek text as you go. I know at least three of the big ones are associated with Bible translation publishers.

    I use a free Bible program called ‘Xiphos’, which has the KJV with Strongs numbers and the Greek and Hebrew lexicons. Available for Windows and Linux at xiphos.org

  107. ishy wrote:

    “That doesn’t count!” isn’t an argument for being biblical or logical.

    But I think it is in their world. This is why I think new-Calvinism is more like new-Gnosticism – only specially selected people are able to understand the deeper truths. The rest of us goats can see right through the inconsistencies.

  108. Lea wrote:

    There wouldn’t be a ‘church abuser’ category separate from the ‘regular abuser’ category.

    “If a mouse is in the cookie jar, it is still a mouse”
    (Papa tenBoom, father of Corrie tenBoom who wrote ‘The Hiding Place’)

  109. Dale wrote:

    When the roles of women are downplayed or diminished, could this result in unloving and abusive behavior?

    I have a question about these churches: do the men expect the women to ‘go along’ with the abuse of others, since they have ordered the women to be submissive to their lead?

    I ask, because if this is true, and a woman goes against to conscience and involves herself with some of the bad treatment of another,
    that is going to magnify the sin on the part of the males …. she also will have to answer for her own behavior UNLESS she was co-erced into it by threat or fear (which is likely).

    The ‘headship’ of these males lands everyone on the rocks: the victims, the abusers, AND the ones the abusers persuade to also practice abuse. Disaster!

  110. roebuck wrote:

    I use a free Bible program called ‘Xiphos’, which has the KJV with Strongs numbers and the Greek and Hebrew lexicons. Available for Windows and Linux at xiphos.org

    I have e-Sword, which does the same thing, but I just found it interesting that the online Bible services have removed that. Maybe there’s a problem with the copyright now or something, but my lack of trust in Bible publishers inclines me to think something different.

  111. Adam E. wrote:

    I was an elder at a 9 Marks church for 7 years. My wife and I never heard once from the pupil that God loved us. Not once. We never heard our Father loves us. I was to blame in part because I preached most Sunday evenings. And it never came from my lips, either. We are at a different church (and state) now and we hear that God loves us just about every week. It’s been good for our soul.

    Wow. That’s stunning. Could I ask what the driver would be for that sort of omission? I’m just trying to understand. Is it a question of missing the forest for the tree? The love of God is what drew me to Him and keeps me there. His grace without his love is mere condescension….and it seems to me that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are anything but.

  112. Ron Oommen wrote:

    Could I ask what the driver would be for that sort of omission? I’m just trying to understand. Is it a question of missing the forest for the tree? The love of God is what drew me to Him and keeps me there. His grace without his love is mere condescension….and it seems to me that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are anything but.

    John Piper talks quite a bit about how horrible humans are and that God hates us sinners, only loving the redeemed elect because of the atonement.

    “Yes, I think we need to go the full Biblical length and say that God hates unrepentant sinners. If I were to soften it, as we so often do, and say that God hates sin, most of you would immediately translate that to mean: he hates sin but loves the sinner.”
    http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/those-whom-he-called-he-also-justified-part-1

  113. Ken F wrote:

    I’ve gone through a two-year spiritual/theological remodeling. I feel like I’m at the point where the deconstruction is mostly complete – the place is a mess

    I know what you mean. The last two years I’ve opened up boxes I thought long ago were complete only to throw much of it out and not much new goes back in. Yes, the place is a mess and I don’t think I ever get it as neat and tidy as it once was.

  114. ishy wrote:

    roebuck wrote:

    I use a free Bible program called ‘Xiphos’, which has the KJV with Strongs numbers and the Greek and Hebrew lexicons. Available for Windows and Linux at xiphos.org

    I have e-Sword, which does the same thing, but I just found it interesting that the online Bible services have removed that. Maybe there’s a problem with the copyright now or something, but my lack of trust in Bible publishers inclines me to think something different.

    I don’t use online Bible services much except if I want to check out a passage in a translation that I don’t have to hand, or isn’t in Xiphos.

    I’m sure there is no copyright issue with KJV w/Strong’s numbers. I wonder what’s going on…

  115. roebuck wrote:

    ishy wrote:

    roebuck wrote:

    I use a free Bible program called ‘Xiphos’, which has the KJV with Strongs numbers and the Greek and Hebrew lexicons. Available for Windows and Linux at xiphos.org

    I have e-Sword, which does the same thing, but I just found it interesting that the online Bible services have removed that. … I wonder what’s going on…

    Hey Roebuck – thanks for letting me know about Xiphos. I’m downloading it now – hadn’t heard of it. I used e-Sword for years but never put it on my new PC, which I’ve had for a bit over a year. I just went to the e-Sword site to download that as well and it got flagged by my antivirus as a malicious site. I know sometimes that’s nonsense but who knows. Just thought I’d let you know.

  116. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    My experience is that 9Marx authoritarian pastors purposely select young men to be elders because they can be easily manipulated to rubber-stamp whatever it is the senior pastor, in all his wisdom, desires to implement.

    This is exactly what CJ Mahaney was doing at SGM.

  117. @ dee:

    I agree. Great idea for an upcoming blog post. What is it in the human psyche that acquiesces to religious totalitarianism in this day and age of the American experience?

  118. Bill M wrote:

    Yes, the place is a mess and I don’t think I ever get it as neat and tidy as it once was.

    I actually start to get worried when I think it’s looking all neet and tidy . . .

  119. Dale wrote:

    I think the lack of love at the 9 marks churches that I have attended may have been compounded by male authoritarianism. Johanna’s story was very enlightening. Admittedly it is a very small sample size, but my wife displays much more empathy and is more nurturing than me. When the roles of women are downplayed or diminished, could this result in unloving and abusive behavior?

    I think these 9 marks churches may need more of what John Piper calls “feminine feels.”

    I wholeheartedly agree!

  120. Christiane wrote:

    @ DEE
    “When I look at Calvinista theology, I am often struck by how little the love of God is talked about”

    Here’s a comparison.

    9 Marks: 1) Preaching, 2) Biblical Theology, 3) The Gospel, 4) Conversion, 5) Evangelism, 6) Membership, 7) Discipline, 8) Discipleship, 9) Leadership

    God’s Word in the two greatest commandments: 1) LOVE God, 2) LOVE your neighbor

    I think you’re right.

  121. Muff Potter wrote:

    What is it in the human psyche that acquiesces to religious totalitarianism in this day and age of the American experience?

    My theory is fear of uncertainty. At one time (though in principle) you were either Protestant or Catholic. Now society is much more pluralistic. Christianity is no longer the dominant voice at the table. Some Christians accept this as a challenge, others circle the wagons. I think adherence to law is perceived as a surefire way to separate yourself from the other. Jews & Muslims do the same. A stockade of rules.

  122. Muff Potter wrote:

    In their (calvinista) view, the Almighty has no interest in partnering with you on your journey, nor does he want to be your ‘friend’. He wants to micro-manage your every move and motivation and to make sure that you exist solely to aggrandize his glory*.

    My granddaddies treated their mules and milk cows better than that, so I believe my God will treat me better than that!

  123. Christiane wrote:

    Ken F wrote:
    It’s possible to believe in unlimited atonement while also believing that that some people will reject Jesus’ sacrifice for themselves. That does not make God less sovereign.
    Great comment…. hopefully reassuring for Bunny.
    in the Incarnation, what was ‘assumed’ can be healed:
    that is the understanding we have in catholic/orthodox tradition

    My adult son and his family happen to be Orthodox. He and I have very interesting theological discussions. 😉

  124. dee wrote:

    @ Bunny:
    What a beautiful comment. Thank you.

    Oh, thank YOU! It just upsets me so much to see how so many churches just do not tell their people how God really sees them! I sat in one such church for a few weeks (I was transitioning to my present fellowship) and it was horrifying to me. They would never treat their own children that way, why do they think God is less loving than they are???? It makes NO sense. And it is not what the Bible teaches!!!!

  125. ishy wrote:

    Ron Oommen wrote:

    Could I ask what the driver would be for that sort of omission? I’m just trying to understand. Is it a question of missing the forest for the tree? The love of God is what drew me to Him and keeps me there. His grace without his love is mere condescension….and it seems to me that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are anything but.

    John Piper talks quite a bit about how horrible humans are and that God hates us sinners, only loving the redeemed elect because of the atonement.

    “Yes, I think we need to go the full Biblical length and say that God hates unrepentant sinners. If I were to soften it, as we so often do, and say that God hates sin, most of you would immediately translate that to mean: he hates sin but loves the sinner.”
    http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/those-whom-he-called-he-also-justified-part-1

    Wow just when I think I’ve heard it all JP surprises me. I suppose he hasn’t then heard of Scriptures like John 3:16 or Romans 5:8. The mind boggles…

  126. Muff Potter wrote:

    What is it in the human psyche that acquiesces to religious totalitarianism in this day and age of the American experience?

    Not just acquiesces to authoritarian systems but apparently seeks them, like victims that keep getting drawn into yet another abusive relationship. It is outside my understanding.

  127. Bridget wrote:

    I actually start to get worried when I think it’s looking all neet and tidy . . .

    Sounds like a variation on 1 Cor 10:12, “If you think you are standing firm you had better be careful”.

  128. Steve Scott wrote:

    9 Marks: 1) Preaching, 2) Biblical Theology, 3) The Gospel, 4) Conversion, 5) Evangelism, 6) Membership, 7) Discipline, 8) Discipleship, 9) Leadership

    The 9Marxists claim their nine marks are right out of the Bible. In their description of the nine marks they post multiple verses to back up each of their points: https://9marks.org/about/.

    Here’s another list to consider: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness, 6) goodness, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, 9) self-control. Perhaps 9Marks does not use these nine marks because they cannot find them in the Bible?

  129. Bunny wrote:

    My adult son and his family happen to be Orthodox.

    Based on their theology, I would be very tempted to become EO. But I am not able to get past what appears to me to be imperial Roman customs in the worship services and their emphasis on hierarchy. However, if my only choices were Calvinism and EO I would choose EO without hesitation because their theology is sound. I have been greatly blessed by the EO articles, blogs, and books I have read.

  130. Ron Oommen wrote:

    Wow just when I think I’ve heard it all JP surprises me. I suppose he hasn’t then heard of Scriptures like John 3:16 or Romans 5:8. The mind boggles…

    I think the only thing that could surprise me now is if JP would repent of the foolish teaching he has been foisting on so many naive people for so many years. In his most recent “Ask Pastor John” (APJ) post he claims that Jesus is a Christian Hedonist: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/was-jesus-a-christian-hedonist.

    Well, he asks quite simply and I answer quite simply. Yes. Without the slightest hesitation, Jesus lived to glorify his Father by enjoying him as the sustaining power in all his suffering and by seeking to enjoy him forever on the other side of the greatest suffering and by means of the greatest suffering. So, that is what I mean by being a Christian Hedonist. And, to boot, he taught us to be motivated in the same way.

    So, my answer is yes. Jesus was a Christian Hedonist. He is today a Christian Hedonist, I would argue — that could be another APJ — the best one ever. Jesus was the best Christian Hedonist who ever existed, both in his own motivation and in his teaching about motivation.

    He justifies all this by replacing words like “joy” and “rejoice” with “pleasure.” JP proves here that he has a very shallow and twisted view of joy. And it proves that he believe his only motivation for love and obedience is the pleasure that it brings him. The only reason he loves others is because of what it does for him. The focus is on self, not on others. Whatever happened to doing the right thing simply because it is right?

  131. Ron, to answer your question I have some thoughts on why the love of God is omitted. I think it’s two things: doctrinal imbalance & pastoral imbalance. To be honest, I’m a Calvinist, but I have no problem saying “God loves you” to Christians and non-Christians. I think Jesus & the NT writers use God’s love as a motivator for holiness and perseverance for believers, but even still, we never heard of the love of God preached. I have no problem speaking of God’s love to non-believers because I believe it’s a motivator for them to see why repentance is necessary. Pastorally, not telling believers God loves them misses the foundation for why the Gospel is important. It’s just bad pastoral counsel never to consider the relationship God has with us, which is one of covenantal love. These are just my thoughts. I do know that a number of guys never think through their theology and just take the bare minimum of what they hear from others and make it supreme. I image that’s a good bit of what’s going on when guys read 9 Marks.

    @ Ron Oommen:
    @ Ron Oommen:

  132. Ken F wrote:

    Jesus lived to glorify his Father by enjoying him as the sustaining power in all his suffering and by seeking to enjoy him forever on the other side of the greatest suffering and by means of the greatest suffering. S

    This is so creepy from Piper!! Is he saying Jesus enjoyed pain? Because that’s not what I’m getting from all the drops of blood please take this cup from me scene…

  133. Lea wrote:

    This is so creepy from Piper!! Is he saying Jesus enjoyed pain?

    You have to remember that New Calvinists have a bad habit of twisting Scripture. The Bible does not say that Jesus “enjoyed” pain! Piper would take a passage like Hebrews 12 and paraphrase it to fit his version of the crucifixion.

    “For Jesus himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering; and he is now seated at the right hand of God’s throne. Think constantly of him enduring all that sinful men could say against him and you will not lose your purpose or your courage” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

    Piper would look at that passage and lift out “joy”. On the other hand, Christians through the ages look at it and see that the key word is “endured”. If you are enduring something, you aren’t enjoying it! Jesus knew that joy awaited Him on the other side of the Cross … but in that moment endured tremendous pain and eventual death for our sins. These folks are preaching another gospel.

  134. Adam E. wrote:

    I was an elder at a 9 Marks church for 7 years. My wife and I never heard once from the pulpit that God loved us. Not once. We never heard our Father loves us.

    Here is one thing you seldom hear from a New Calvinist church member “Wow, those folks really love me!” If pastors don’t preach the love of Jesus from the pulpit, they don’t really know the Father – whose very character is Love. Nor, does the church body know that genuine Christians are known for their love of one another. New Calvinism belief and practice express an aberrant faith. It’s a strange day in the American church, that we’ve allowed this to slip in so easily without questioning it. Those who do question error, are shunned and excommunicated; a step back into Medieval times where love did not prevail.

  135. Gram3 wrote:

    There is no textual warrant at all for anyone to discern if anyone is regenerate. That is the business of the Holy Spirit, not any human being, not even the puffed-up ones generated at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. As far as I know, there is no way to actually discern that, but the control-freak KeysKops want everyone to believe that only they can discern that and they are locking the baptistry up until they unlock it. How ridiculous this is to Baptists over the age of 40 who have not consumed the 9Marks coolade (misspelling intentional so as not to tarnish the brand.)
    The sin of asking too many inconvenient questions about inconvenient topics or persons is not in any church covenants or in the Bible, as far as I know, but it is enough to disqualify one from being affirmed as a Christian. How very odd. Creative, for sure, but odd for people who like to trumpet how very Biblical and serious they all are.

    Hits the nail right on the head Gram3

    Darn good post too, Dee.

  136. Ken F wrote:

    The 9Marxists claim their nine marks are right out of the Bible. In their description of the nine marks they post multiple verses to back up each oTTf their points: https://9marks.org/about/.

    Without even looking at their clobber verses, I’m going to make a SWAG that those verses do not actually say what 9Marks says that they say. I may be surprised by them someday, but this day is not going to be that day.

  137. Steve Scott wrote:

    @ DEE
    “When I look at Calvinista theology, I am often struck by how little the love of God is talked about”

    Hi STEVE,
    actually, DEE wrote that in the original post and I was quoting her ….. I wasn’t sure how to set up that she had written that so I did the ‘@ DEE’ notation, which was apparently confusing. Sorry for confusion. Have a great Lord’s Day.

  138. Lea wrote:

    IT’s Orwellian, isn’t it. Love is discipline. Leadership is authority and micromanaging. Be a servant = tell everybody what to do.

    Then there’s this little gem from The Last Battle: “You think freedom means doing what you like. Well, you’re wrong. That isn’t true freedom. True freedom means doing what I tell you.”

  139. Bunny wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    Ken F wrote:
    It’s possible to believe in unlimited atonement while also believing that that some people will reject Jesus’ sacrifice for themselves. That does not make God less sovereign.
    Great comment…. hopefully reassuring for Bunny.
    in the Incarnation, what was ‘assumed’ can be healed:
    that is the understanding we have in catholic/orthodox tradition

    My adult son and his family happen to be Orthodox. He and I have very interesting theological discussions.

    Hi BUNNY,
    I’m glad you have some understanding of Eastern Christianity, which is so rich in beauty and in ways of praying. That phrase ‘catholic-orthodox tradition’ is more in line with the earliest basic teachings of the Church, and many of those teachings and traditions remain in mainline Protestant Churches, and some have even filtered into the Southern Baptist Church, although now it is besieged by the neo-Cal invasion which brings ‘another gospel’ so to speak.

    So much of what is mutually shared among Christian people has to do with the earliest Christian teachings on ‘Who Christ Is’ and ‘the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity’.
    This is because those two bedrock doctrines were under attack by the first heresies, and the Church came together to clarify those doctrines and protect them. The neo-Cals have resurrected some of the heresies and are bringing them in with them to the SBC in the form of the ESS teachings. I’m sorry to see this happen. I don’t think the neo-Cals respect the SBC’s older traditional ways of viewing Our Lord.

  140. Max wrote:

    Here is one thing you seldom hear from a New Calvinist church member “Wow, those folks really love me!” If pastors don’t preach the love of Jesus from the pulpit, they don’t really know the Father – whose very character is Love. Nor, does the church body know that genuine Christians are known for their love of one another. New Calvinism belief and practice express an aberrant faith. It’s a strange day in the American church, that we’ve allowed this to slip in so easily without questioning it. Those who do question error, are shunned and excommunicated; a step back into Medieval times where love did not prevail.

    Whom did Jesus call his brothers and sisters? Didn’t Jesus say OUR Father, who art in Heaven – not my father ………
    A parent loves their child, even when they are disobedient. Yeah, disobedient children have to pay for their behavior sooner or later, but that doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t love their children.
    I wonder …… do these people believe earthly parents should behave toward their children the same way they depict God the Father’s disdain and contempt for His children?

  141. Bunny wrote:

    My adult son and his family happen to be Orthodox. He and I have very interesting theological discussions.

    I am a baptist. My first husband’s family …… oh boy! His mother and her family were Catholics from Germany. His father is a non-denom, but the rest of the family is Mormon. Everytime our family talks delved into religion, things went south, FAST!!!

  142. Max wrote:

    Here is one thing you seldom hear from a New Calvinist church member “Wow, those folks really love me!”

    Back in the day, we were active members of a mainline denom mega until we left because – as my husband said, “They are loving but there are many affairs and there’s generally immorality going on. Not for us.”

    So we, along with conservative friends, went across town to another mainline denom mega. However, my husband noted, “They are seemingly moral, but very cold and unfriendly.”

  143. Gram3 wrote:

    Without even looking at their clobber verses, I’m going to make a SWAG that those verses do not actually say what 9Marks says that they say.

    Shhhhh! No one is supposed to notice. We are supposed to simply believe in their higher education and revelation.

  144. ANDREW KENNY wrote:

    @ Velour:
    I hope you realise my tongue was firmly in my cheek! LOL

    Thanks, Andrew. I did realize what you meant.

    To clarify: I was excommunicated from a 9 Marxist church for using critical thinking skills and saw other dear Christian men and women excommunicated. We were always told that being abused by the pastors/elders was for our own good. I realize the threats behind the 9 Marxists’ words. I’ve lived them out.

  145. Nancy2 wrote:

    do these people believe earthly parents should behave toward their children the same way they depict God the Father’s disdain and contempt for His children?

    You have to wonder. Otherwise the cognitive dissonance will eventually get them- why is God less loving to humanity than I am to my children?

    “We love because He first loved us.” If we don’t believe or experience his love, I would think it would affect how one loves others, including one’s own children.

  146. Gram3 wrote:

    Without even looking at their clobber verses, I’m going to make a SWAG that those verses do not actually say what 9Marks says that they say.

    That’s the problem with reading verses instead of reading the Bible. I don’t know how many people actually read the Bible through anymore. Seems like they spend more time reading books about the Bible.

  147. Bill M wrote:

    I know what you mean. The last two years I’ve opened up boxes I thought long ago were complete only to throw much of it out and not much new goes back in. Yes, the place is a mess and I don’t think I ever get it as neat and tidy as it once was.

    I, too, am in this process. I think neat & tidy is an illusion (or maybe a delusion?) Age and experience militate against neat & tidy.

  148. siteseer wrote:

    Seems like they spend more time reading books about the Bible.

    Totally agree! It's stunning how many 'gospel-centered' books are being promoted these days.

  149. Bill M wrote:

    It was when I watched others dealing with an authoritarian pastor that it clicked. The autocrat dismissed someone’s concern beacuase they didn’t properly formulate their words. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to carefully choose your words but even when remarkably well articulated the response was still same, indifference.

    Was not articulated well or was delivered with ‘the wrong spirit’…

    The response you iterate is standard-issue, and is usually quite successful in buying the leadership more time to deal with your deeply-rooted rebellion.

    The person who has now made public their concerns (public – even if it is only with the pastor or a single elder) and has been dismissed or rebuked for not having done so properly, will usually go quietly away, crying out to God in repentance for their supposed failing, and asking for wisdom and understanding.

    Then, while you are off quietly (and by yourself, because discussing anything with another brother/sister is considered as the sin of gossip) seeking God and praying to gain understanding on how to deliver the truth ‘just right’ without causing dissension and rebellion in the church, the pastor or elder is now informing all the church leadership as well as some of the key members, of you and your egregious sin.

    Your days are numbered and you don’t even know it.

    We operate under a delusion that pewisioners can speak truth to church leadership, and they will hear it, consider it, and actually address it.

    They will not.

    They may act as if they do – for a time.

    But that time is limited, and their end goal is ultimately the same. That you will stop challenging them and will submit to their authority.

    The way these things are handled are so similar across time, churches and denominations, as to have some sort of master-script written from which they follow.

    What I have found though, is that you STILL must speak the truth to leadership when called to do so.

    I have also found, that when that truth has been spoken and rejected – and the reality is that the truth is usually spoken and rejected multiple times (remember those church members who just disappeared or were excommunicated earlier?) –

    that church leadership IS going to find itself publicly exposed.

  150. Gram3 wrote:

    I imagine there will be way too many. Many may disagree with me, but I think the YRR phenomenon is not so much about the doctrines of Calvin so much as a reaction against the lack of doctrinal coherence in evangelicalism in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    I, for one, agree with you.

    The draw of shepherding to us in the 70s was in part, a reaction against what seemed to be the low-commitment, low-impact on one’s personal life in denominational churches, as well as the anything-goes aspect of the popular culture.

    This sort of thing – high commitment, high-demand is always appealing to a large percentage of the young.

    Sadly, what I at the time, and those today who are drawn to such today, do not realize – is there is a strong, underlying appeal to our pride.

    WE’RE going to DO it right, GET it right – BE right, as no one has done for X number of centuries.

    This underlying appeal to pride is a hook that helps keep ensnared even the lowliest and most misused of the members.

  151. siteseer wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:

    do these people believe earthly parents should behave toward their children the same way they depict God the Father’s disdain and contempt for His children?

    You have to wonder. Otherwise the cognitive dissonance will eventually get them- why is God less loving to humanity than I am to my children?

    “We love because He first loved us.” If we don’t believe or experience his love, I would think it would affect how one loves others, including one’s own children.

    All I can think of on reading this was my horror at watching the documentary ‘Jesus Camp’ where a sweet little girl (probably five or six years old) stood looking frightened at what she was hearing and with tears rolling down her cheeks ….. that broke my heart.

    Terrifying to think that young children are exposed to something so malevolent.

  152. BL wrote:

    I have also found, that when that truth has been spoken and rejected – and the reality is that the truth is usually spoken and rejected multiple times (remember those church members who just disappeared or were excommunicated earlier?)

    Great point. After leaving two years ago I found a few who told me they had already said almost exactly what I had when I ran into the stone wall. Interesting we just we had just came back from lunch with another couple that left only weeks ago and reported the same interaction occurred for them. These are good people, well educated professionals with responsibilities in the community, yet they need validation they are not the ones who are crazy.

  153. ESS heresy came straight outta the Calvinista crowd didn’t it? Thankful actual Reformed people started calling foul but, it took great courage because the Calvinistas made great in roads in that tradition. I am thankful that I am starting to see a few reversals on certain things in the Reformed tradition that seems to indicate they are backing away from some of the people/stances. I think one thing I have taken away from all of this is just because someone seems really really serious or on fire or whatever adjective you want to use to indicate this person is a strong Christian doesn’t really mean they actually are in the orthodox boundaries of true Christian faith and piety. The ESS heresy has been compared to Arianism and from what I have read Arian was a very serious person who wanted people to live very pure lives.

  154. @ BL:
    I agree with… Isn’t it nice to part of the “group” that has the right way to heaven!!

  155. BL wrote:

    This underlying appeal to pride is a hook that helps keep ensnared even the lowliest and most misused of the members.

    Yes, well, I have to admit that pride was the biggest lure for me, but I can only see that in retrospect, sadly.

  156. Hi all!
    I will be in DC until Tuesday. I am meeting with Eric Bonetti and a few others. Keep us in prayer.

  157. One note:
    Please pay attention to the guest post that Deb will post by Todd Wilhelm tomorrow. This is a situation that has International implications. Some of our reader in England and Africa are aware of the apology by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    You all are going to be introduced to a *Camp Kanakuk* situation in Zimbabwe. It involves the current pastor of CJ Mahaney’s former church Covenant life Church.-PJ Smythe and his father. (First CJ, now PJ….) We believe that much is going to be released in the coming weeks about this. We are suspect of PJ Smythe’s “nothing to see here” comments on video.

    As always TWW stands with the victims in this tragic situation. Keep them in your prayer as well as Todd Wilhelm who is doing an incredible job behind the scenes.

  158. siteseer wrote:

    You have to wonder. Otherwise the cognitive dissonance will eventually get them- why is God less loving to humanity than I am to my children?

    “We love because He first loved us.” If we don’t believe or experience his love, I would think it would affect how one loves others, including one’s own children.

    Great comment! And yes the cognitive dissonance will be their undoing. As I’ve opined before, their religion will not see the 22nd century.

  159. Christiane wrote:

    Steve Scott wrote:

    @ DEE
    “When I look at Calvinista theology, I am often struck by how little the love of God is talked about”

    Hi STEVE,
    actually, DEE wrote that in the original post and I was quoting her ….. I wasn’t sure how to set up that she had written that so I did the ‘@ DEE’ notation, which was apparently confusing. Sorry for confusion. Have a great Lord’s Day.

    Hi Christiane,

    Yes, I picked up on that, but guess what? I didn’t have enough time to search and find it, so I just used your quote! Thanks! 🙂

  160. dee wrote:

    As always TWW stands with the victims in this tragic situation. Keep them in your prayer as well as Todd Wilhelm who is doing an incredible job behind the scenes.

    Praying.

    Safe travels to you to D.C. too.

  161. @ Gram3:

    I think that is exactly correct. YRR gave structure and certainty where previously it had been lacking.

    Al Mohler and Mark Dever are consummate politicians.

  162. Adam E. wrote:

    Ron, to answer your question I have some thoughts on why the love of God is omitted. I think it’s two things: doctrinal imbalance & pastoral imbalance. To be honest, I’m a Calvinist, but I have no problem saying “God loves you” to Christians and non-Christians. I think Jesus & the NT writers use God’s love as a motivator for holiness and perseverance for believers, but even still, we never heard of the love of God preached. I have no problem speaking of God’s love to non-believers because I believe it’s a motivator for them to see why repentance is necessary. Pastorally, not telling believers God loves them misses the foundation for why the Gospel is important. It’s just bad pastoral counsel never to consider the relationship God has with us, which is one of covenantal love. These are just my thoughts. I do know that a number of guys never think through their theology and just take the bare minimum of what they hear from others and make it supreme. I image that’s a good bit of what’s going on when guys read 9 Marks.

    @ Ron Oommen:
    @ Ron Oommen:

    That makes sense to me. Thanks for replying.

  163. Tim wrote:

    At the outset 9 Marks says an indication of membership In the church is full on love for fellow believers. That’s not what the Bible says. It says our place in the body of Christ is God’s full on love for us.

    I think when 9Marxists use the word *love* they mean something entirely different than love. “I do not think it means what you think it means.” – From Princess Bride

  164. siteseer wrote:

    Give pastoral oversight to members. Try to make sure that every member is in regular conversation with an elder or a mature Christian in the congregation. Take initiative in getting to know what’s going on in the members’ lives.
    Beware. They are not looking for ways to support and encourage you. They are keeping track of things they can blackmail you about if need be.
    The pastor of my formal church actually kept a card file of members with things he had learned that could be used to “keep them in line” if need be.

    Siteseer, you’ve got that right. As HUG would say: Purity of Ideology, Comrade! It’s all about keeping tabs on people so that they don’t get out of line. All members are expected to follow the Neo-Cal playbook – just like in Mao’s China where people were told to read Mao’s little red book of sayings. There is no freedom to think apart from the collective.

  165. Harley wrote:

    My dad used to sing solos in church. One of my favorite songs he sang was “The love of God, how rich and pure. How marvelous and strong. It shall forever more endure the saints and angels songs… God’s love to me is beyond all measure. My feeble brain cannot even comprehend how much he loves you and I.

    One of my very favorite hymns! I doubt the Neo-Cals even sing it.

  166. Jerome wrote:

    Check out what the 9Marxists counsel their comrades to do if they disagree with their church’s documents:
    https://9marks.org/answer/how-should-you-deal-bad-statement-faith-church-covenant-or-church-constitution-you-inherit-n/

    In reading that short article, it sounds very much like the Neo-Cal playbook for a covert takeover of a local church. After the wet-behind-the-ears pastor fools the search committee and is welcomed by the naive, unsuspecting Christians, the new pastor sets to work in cleaning house in order to force members to conform to 9Marxist tenets.

  167. Adam E. wrote:

    I was an elder at a 9 Marks church for 7 years. My wife and I never heard once from the pulpit that God loved us. Not once. We never heard our Father loves us. I was to blame in part because I preached most Sunday evenings. And it never came from my lips, either. We are at a different church (and state) now and we hear that God loves us just about every week. It’s been good for our soul.

    Adam, I’m so glad you escaped the toxic 9Marxist environment. Now you can shout it from the highest hills: God loves me!

  168. Darlene wrote:

    All members are expected to follow the Neo-Cal playbook – just like in Mao’s China where people were told to read Mao’s little red book of sayings.

    “WE ARE UNITED BEHIND THE VISIONARY!”
    — Pastor Furtick Coloring Book

  169. Gram3 wrote:

    Many may disagree with me, but I think the YRR phenomenon is not so much about the doctrines of Calvin so much as a reaction against the lack of doctrinal coherence in evangelicalism in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    Communism begets Objectivism.

  170. Darlene wrote:

    I think when 9Marxists use the word *love* they mean something entirely different than love.

    My Dear Wormwood…

  171. Nancy2 wrote:

    I wonder …… do these people believe earthly parents should behave toward their children the same way they depict God the Father’s disdain and contempt for His children?

    Look at all the child abuse/child molestation reports.
    Including the Pearl/Ezzo Method FATAL child abuse cases.

  172. Darlene wrote:

    I’m so glad you escaped the toxic 9Marxist environment. Now you can shout it from the highest hills: God loves me!

    That is so nice, Darlene.

  173. siteseer wrote:

    That’s the problem with reading verses instead of reading the Bible.

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

  174. Bunny wrote:

    dee wrote:
    @ Bunny:
    It just upsets me so much to see how so many churches just do not tell their people how God really sees them! I sat in one such church for a few weeks (I was transitioning to my present fellowship) and it was horrifying to me. They would never treat their own children that way, why do they think God is less loving than they are???? It makes NO sense. And it is not what the Bible teaches!!!!

    My 7yr old son and I were just discussing this concept this past weekend: how God sees us. We were reading in 2 Kings 19-20 the story of Hezekiah. At one point, King Hezekiah becomes ill and is told he will die. He prays and God answers. God specificially tells him: “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears….” And God then blesses him with 15 additional years of life.

    My son and I discussed why it was important for us to know this. Indeed, God hears us AND He sees our tears. How amazing, this God of ours who cares so deeply and looks into our lives that He sees us in our most painful moments – sees our tears. And, as the Psalm says “collects them.” This relationship, this intimacy is valuable and precious to Him.

    We then went on to read the account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 – what a contrast. This same God who cares so deeply and shows empathy in our daily lives is also just and will not tolerate evil against His good name or His people.

    It was a lot for a 7yr old to process and it was good.

  175. Gram3 wrote:

    Many may disagree with me, but I think the YRR phenomenon is not so much about the doctrines of Calvin so much as a reaction against the lack of doctrinal coherence in evangelicalism in the 1970’s and 1980’s. A cohort of highly-educated Christian kids has little doctrinal education gets a whiff of a tightly-wound doctrinal system and magic happens. Certain older men figure out how to use younger men to capture these younger folks (think Challies and Piper’s free content model) and here we are.

    Oh, I totally agree with you. If mainline denominations were as good at discipling youth as the New Calvinist leaders are, we wouldn’t be here. Far too long we have sent our youth to the basement for pizza and movies, rather than encouraging them to develop a disciplined prayer life and Bible study. If we had them solidly under the Word, with godly examples of Christian living set before them among adult church members, we wouldn’t be talking about a movement of aberrant faith drawing them away.

  176. Max wrote:

    Far too long we have sent our youth to the basement for pizza and movies, rather than encouraging them to develop a disciplined prayer life and Bible study.

    They didn’t have religion school on Saturday or Sunday morning with classes and tests to study for? How did they get away with that???

  177. Max wrote:

    If mainline denominations were as good at discipling youth as the New Calvinist leaders are, we wouldn’t be here.

    I have to point out that New Calvinist leaders are practicing Thought Reform, like the Chinese Communists did to gain obedience and take control of peoples’ lives (psychiatrist/researcher Dr. Robert Jay Lifton’s research work for the Air Force; he’s now at Yale University).

  178. dee wrote:

    Adam E. wrote:
    I was an elder at a 9 Marks church for 7 years. My wife and I never heard once from the pupil that God loved us. Not once. We never heard our Father loves us.
    I am so glad that you are at another church that preaches this. My church preaches it almost every week as well.
    Two weeks ago my pastor said “I may not know all of you well but I talk for the One who Knows each one of you perfectly well.” He proceeded to talk about how much God loves us. I almost started crying since he was so sincere and what he was saying was so beautiful.

    It is a joy to my heart to hear of God’s love being spoken of among Christians. As an Orthodox Christian, I hear of God’s love in every divine liturgy. It is a truth that permeates my heart with comfort. To never hear of God’s love would seem to be a death blow to the soul that could lead a person to despair.

  179. Darlene wrote:

    In reading that short article, it sounds very much like the Neo-Cal playbook for a covert takeover of a local church. After the wet-behind-the-ears pastor fools the search committee and is welcomed by the naive, unsuspecting Christians, the new pastor sets to work in cleaning house in order to force members to conform to 9Marxist tenets.

    That same article answers the question, “When should you not submit to church leaders? I think it gives very good advice.

    https://9marks.org/answer/when-should-you-not-submit-to-church-leaders/

  180. Velour wrote:

    Max wrote:
    If mainline denominations were as good at discipling youth as the New Calvinist leaders are, we wouldn’t be here.
    I have to point out that New Calvinist leaders are practicing Thought Reform…

    Commonly called “Brainwashing” or “Forced Indoctrination” —
    Destroy any existing personality then refill the empty head with Pure Orthodoxy, Pure Ideology.

  181. Bill M wrote:

    Recently, I got a direct message from one of the 9 Marks guys all upset that I used the word *gulag* to describe what the 9 Marks guys did to Marie Notcheva.
    It was when I watched others dealing with an authoritarian pastor that it clicked. The autocrat dismissed someone’s concern beacuase they didn’t properly formulate their words. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to carefully choose your words but even when remarkably well articulated the response was still same, indifference. On the other hand I witnessed instances where the leaders made nasty comments and on the few occasions they were called on it, the dissenter was pronounced guilty of having the wrong attitude. Heads they win, tails you lose.

    When confronting Neo-Calvinist pastors/elders, it would seem to speak the truth would be a bold move, knowing ahead of time you just might be branded a “heretic” or “false” Christian, or “Reprobate” or in “rebellion.”

  182. Darlene wrote:

    As an Orthodox Christian, I hear of God’s love in every divine liturgy. It is a truth that permeates my heart with comfort.

    As an Orthodox Christian, you are celebrating some of the oldest liturgies in the whole of Christendom, Darlene. The beautiful Divine Liturgy of St. James is derived from the first liturgies used by the early Church in Jerusalem. The beautiful Cherubic Hymn is a part of the Offertory, which even Southern Baptists may know as it’s lyrics form the words of ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent’.

    So much beauty in the Orthodox liturgies, so much. 🙂

  183. Christiane wrote:

    ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent’

    sorry, it’s ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence’

    “Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
    And with fear and trembling stand;
    Ponder nothing earthly minded,
    For with blessing in His hand,
    Christ our God to earth descendeth
    Our full homage to demand.

    King of kings, yet born of Mary,
    As of old on earth He stood,
    Lord of lords, in human vesture,
    In the body and the blood;
    He will give to all the faithful
    His own self for heavenly food.

    Rank on rank the host of heaven
    Spreads its vanguard on the way,
    As the Light of light descendeth
    From the realms of endless day,
    That the powers of hell may vanish
    As the darkness clears away.

    At His feet the six winged seraph,
    Cherubim with sleepless eye,
    Veil their faces to the presence,
    As with ceaseless voice they cry:
    Alleluia, Alleluia
    Alleluia, Lord Most High!”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idp2E2yOk9E

  184. Christiane wrote:

    They didn’t have religion school on Saturday or Sunday morning with classes and tests to study for?

    Southern Baptists have “Sunday School” for all age classes except nursery. They have a Sunday School lesson in a book they take home to read before class, but are not ‘required’ to read it and are never tested. Most of the lessons are fairly simple Bible studies, not too deep on doctrine. I dare say that the average teenager in a Southern Baptist church could not tell you what the core beliefs are in the SBC, nor have enough gospel under their belt to minister to a lost peer. Sunday School teachers volunteer for those jobs each year, but few are gifted as teachers. So when the New Calvinists rode into town offering something “deeper”, SBC youth became attracted to it … especially college-aged folks and young adults. New Calvinist leaders knew that they would be easy pickins’ for reformed theology.

  185. Deb wrote:

    Funny thing… I can never remember more than two or three of the 9 Marks, but I can always recall Jesus’ greatest commandment.

    Jesus wins hands down!

  186. Marie O’Toole wrote:

    I hope they read this, Dee. There is no end to the pain, spiritual confusion and suffering of the Christians these sycophant “leaders” attack.

    They may read it, but will they listen? From what I’ve learned of the Neo-Cal crowd, listening isn’t one of their priorities, especially if it requires them to listen to those who disagree with them.

  187. Ken G wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    In reading that short article, it sounds very much like the Neo-Cal playbook for a covert takeover of a local church. After the wet-behind-the-ears pastor fools the search committee and is welcomed by the naive, unsuspecting Christians, the new pastor sets to work in cleaning house in order to force members to conform to 9Marxist tenets.
    That same article answers the question, “When should you not submit to church leaders? I think it gives very good advice.
    https://9marks.org/answer/when-should-you-not-submit-to-church-leaders/

    Ken G: Then perhaps the Neo-Cal 9Marxist churches should start following their own advice, because from the pointers in the article it would appear 9Marks folks lack self-awareness. Quotes from the article:

    “But if you find yourself in a church where the leadership is characteristically abusive, you should flee. Flee to protect your discipleship, to protect your family, to set a good example for the members left behind, and to serve non-Christian neighbors by not lending credibility to the church’s ministry.

    Then why is there example after example of people who flee abusive 9Marks churches being disciplined and excommunicated?

    Next, the 9Marks article gives advice about what to look for in abusive churches and Christian leaders. This is where I think they need to look in their own backyard. On their list of abusive churches is the folowing:

    “Make dogmatic prescriptions in places where Scripture is silent.”

    You mean like making Complementarianism part of the gospel? 😉

    “Rely on intelligence, humor, charm, guilt, emotions, or threats rather than on God’s Word and prayer.”

    You mean like Neo-Cal leaders such as C.J. Mahaney, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and the numerous examples of pastors/elders at Neo-Cal churches that have been exposed on TWW?

    “Play favorites.”

    You mean like Mark Dever (the 9Marks architect) did with covering for C.J. Mahaney when he fled to Capitol Hill Baptist Church? Oh, and like the numerous Neo-Cal leaders (Mohler, Dever, Duncan) did for Mahaney in allowing him to speak at the ‘Together for the Gospel’ Conference in April of 2016?

    “Punish those who disagree.”

    Where does one even start? This is right out of the Neo-Cal, 9Marks playbook. Disagree=punishment.

    “Recommend courses of action which always, somehow, improves the leaders own situation, even at the expense of others.”

    You mean like the pastors at Shauna and Billy’s Neo-Cal church? Or at Velour’s Neo-Cal church? Or at Karen Hinkley’s Village Church? Or Todd Wilhelm’s Neo-Cal 9Marks church? Or Marie Notcheva’s Neo-Cal church? Or Dale’s Neo-Cal 9Marks church? Or, or, or….many, many other examples?

    “Seldom encourage.”

    This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Since when are Neo-Cal churches known for encouragement? If, like Adam, a former 9Marks elder, commented up thread that in 7 years he never once heard about God’s love – HOW IN THE WORLD CAN THAT BE ENCOURAGEMENT?

    “Seldom give the benefit of the doubt.”

    This would be a description of 9Marks churches to a tea. Requiring members to sign a covenant in order to be able to control them. Requiring members to be involved in small groups outside of church on Sunday in order to be accountable to elders. Criticizing the baptism of children because in essence, the elders don’t give parents the benefit of the doubt in knowing the spiritual condition of their children better than they (the elders) do. Black listing people who don’t fall into lock step with everything the pastor/elders preach and promote.

    “Emphasize outward conformity, rather than repentance of heart.”

    You mean like Dever’s flagship, 9Marks church does in requiring all members to recite the church covenant before they take the Lord’s Supper?

    If all members were to take the advice of this 9Marks article, there would be no more 9Marks churches left, because they – the 9Marxists – are the very example of what they are warning against in this article.

  188. Max wrote:

    They have a Sunday School lesson in a book they take home to read before class, but are not ‘required’ to read it and are never tested. Most of the lessons are fairly simple Bible studies, not too deep on doctrine. I dare say that the average teenager in a Southern Baptist church could not tell you what the core beliefs are in the SBC, nor have enough gospel under their belt to minister to a lost peer. Sunday School teachers volunteer for those jobs each year, but few are gifted as teachers.

    I have taught VBS classes, SS classes, and Wed. night classes to kids. I always taught at least the ABCs of salvation. No testing, but my classes always had knowledge based competitions, with rewards. A Wed. Night class I taught was grades 2-5 …… we studied, and I made out a Bible jeopardy game based on our studies. But, I was also a salaried school teacher. Most SS teachers focus more on entertaining the kids with coloring pages, puzzles, crafts, and Veggie Tales!

  189. Christiane wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    As an Orthodox Christian, I hear of God’s love in every divine liturgy. It is a truth that permeates my heart with comfort.
    As an Orthodox Christian, you are celebrating some of the oldest liturgies in the whole of Christendom, Darlene. The beautiful Divine Liturgy of St. James is derived from the first liturgies used by the early Church in Jerusalem. The beautiful Cherubic Hymn is a part of the Offertory, which even Southern Baptists may know as it’s lyrics form the words of ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent’.
    So much beauty in the Orthodox liturgies, so much.

    I love the Cherubic Hymn! Its beauty brings such overwhelming peace and joy. Here’s a version with which I am quite familiar.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_OLom4lvdA

  190. wrote:

    The love of God to his creation is not a matter for discussion-only our sinful behavior.

    Oh my, I just caught this now. Says who? Since when is God’s love for His creation not a matter of discussion? NEWSFLASH NEO-CALS: God’s love for us is a comfort in the midst of all our sorrows. Take away God’s love and what is left? A cold, aloof, unconcerned, capricious, callous god.

  191. Darlene wrote:

    When confronting Neo-Calvinist pastors/elders, it would seem to speak the truth would be a bold move, knowing ahead of time you just might be branded a “heretic” or “false” Christian, or “Reprobate” or in “rebellion.”

    Spot on.

    Excommunicated from the 9 Marxist/John MacArthur-ite Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley for same.

    Regards,

    Velour

  192. Ken F wrote:

    I would be very tempted to become EO. But I am not able to get past what appears to me to be imperial Roman customs in the worship services

    Ken, what specifically are you thinking of as “imperial Roman customs” in the Divine Liturgy? I’m just asking because I’m Orthodox and don’t know what you mean by this comment.

  193. Darlene wrote:

    “The love of God to his creation is not a matter for discussion-only our sinful behavior.”

    Pretty much sums up their theology, doesn’t it?

    Don’t talk about God’s love, because it doesn’t allow us to break you down according to standard cult tactics. You’re only allowed to talk about how sinful you are, and how much you need us to control you.

  194. Darlene wrote:

    If all members were to take the advice of this 9Marks article, there would be no more 9Marks churches left, because they – the 9Marxists – are the very example of what they are warning against in this article.

    Truth. How can they be so unaware??

  195. brian wrote:

    Christiane wrote:
    brian wrote:
    Then there were the non-elect preborn babies that go to hell. Yes, some folks believed that and you better too or shut your mouth or you get the heretic stare.
    I can’t begin to imagine why the people who preach this stuff think it is ‘the Good News’. If God is a monster who burns little babies for all eternity, what else is there to know that could possibly matter ????? Nothing. Period. They make the burning of these infants a Holocaust and they portray God as a Hitler figure who sends children to death. Only ‘God’ is worse, because he burns the babies and their suffering for all eternity adds to his glory??????
    Satanic. Absolutely satanic.
    Actually, Christiane, it was explained like this, not from the pulpit but in the little theological huddles that actually held more authority. First, we are all dead in Adam, from the very moment of conception to our last dying breath we are under the curse of the law. God is so holy that nothing at all that has any taint of sin, including being sick, not having a perfect body, anything corrupted by this world cannot even be seen by God at all. So God knows who He is going to save for His Glory alone, and scripture is very clear it will be very very …….very few people. So if an infant or a baby dies before birth and is not elect (makes a full conscious cognisant totally correct profession of faith and does not ever waiver ever. They may be saved but I digress. The nonelect will also be given glorified bodies when Christ returns but they will be eternal bodies of corruption due to their fall in Adam if like a baby has not actually sinned. Then they will be told to depart because Christ never knew them. This also includes those that fall away or those that were not truly repentant but thought they were but at the last moment at the great white throne judgment will also be cast into perdition to the Glory of God the Father. It actually goes down the crazy hole even farther but that’s about the best I remember it.
    Now not everyone actually believed this it was just want came from the mothership in our little group. I have to be honest I think people just paint themselves into theological corners so they keep adding stuff to try to make it all fit. I think that is where most of this nonsense comes from. It really does mess with your head to be honest.

    It is certainly related to what I heard at an R.C. Sproul conference on the Holiness of God. God is so very holy that he cannot bear even the tiniest trace of sin…

    …and everyone is condemned to death and eternal torment, but God in his infinite mercy (I wouldn’t call it infinite, considering that it’s… not. At least, not in this version.) deigned to condescend and save a *few*. And those few can congratulate themselves. And ignore the fact that everyone else is going to eternal torment.

    When I was grieving over a dying family member who wanted nothing to do with what the bible says, our then-pastor said brusquely, “Well, then, he might as well die now and get it over with.” Much later, after many trials that resulted in evident change in his life and preaching, he apologized to me for that arrogance and insensitivity. But it remains seared in my memory, a picture of the unloving nature of calvinism.

  196. Bridget wrote:

    brian wrote:
    God is so holy that nothing at all that has any taint of sin, including being sick, not having a perfect body, anything corrupted by this world cannot even be seen by God at all
    But Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” God had no problem walking amongst the everyday people (sick, healthy, rich, poor, men, women, children, sinners) of Israel. He was not offended or put off by anyone.

    Oh, my. That will be my thought for the day, something to chew over. It is so different from Isaiah 6 and Sproul and the “Holiness of God”.

  197. Dee wrote:

    “reforming a church’s documents so that they are biblically faithful, pastorally wise, and practically sound is one of the most important steps in leading a church to reflect God’s glorious character in its life together.”

    I don’t know what to say.

    What about loving the people?

    Of course, I guess it depends on what your definition of “love” is.

    You can run an orphanage on a rigid schedule, make sure every nook and cranny is drenched in bleach to kill the germs, bright lights that reach every corner (no shadows allowed), steel cribs to keep the babies safe and confined with bars the right distance apart, crisp and freshly-laundered linens, electronic devices in the diapers so that they are changed the moment wetness is detected, nutritious formula dispensed on a scientific schedule, disciplined and no-nonsense staff and an office with paperwork (documents) practically sound and perfectly in order … etc. etc. etc.

    And every baby in the place will die for lack of love and cuddling.

    (still scarred from that particular psychology class lecture)

  198. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Love has been turned upside down. We must love committed church members because if we don’t, we are not committed to and don’t love God. The love of God to his creation is not a matter for discussion-only our sinful behavior.

    Reminds me of the question Jesus was asked: “Who is my brother?”

    Somehow I don’t think the answer is “committed church members”.

  199. refugee wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Love has been turned upside down. We must love committed church members because if we don’t, we are not committed to and don’t love God. The love of God to his creation is not a matter for discussion-only our sinful behavior.
    Reminds me of the question Jesus was asked: “Who is my brother?”
    Somehow I don’t think the answer is “committed church members”.

    Clarification: Well, maybe some of them…

  200. Lea wrote:

    Also Brian, that perfect body thing I see nowhere in scripture!

    It rings a bell somehow to me. Something about on the day of resurrection, everyone will be raised in new bodies and stand before the Throne, the righteous to rule with him forever and the unrighteous to be cast into the lake of fire… or something to that effect. I’ve heard that preaching for decades, in different church settings, in different denominations even. I think it comes from Revelation, maybe. I don’t want to look it up.

    I know I’ve heard much talk about “glorified bodies” — I don’t want to put words in the mouths of people like the artist Joni but I *know* I’ve heard people talk about getting their glorified body in heaven and being able to walk, or dance, or run races, or see, or hear, or whatever their groaning-Creation-marred-by-the-effects-of-the-Curse bodies cannot do in this life.

  201. Christiane wrote:

    the will in them to leave what they know to be ‘dark’ and to go towards something less hateful IS a gift from God, and He, having begun that journey in them, will see them safely home ….

    No, it wasn’t the Church they left behind… but that so-called church acted rather as a vaccination would, it seems. One of the young adults I know well may approach spirituality by way of Buddhism; the other sees no need; both see only evil in the bible. Like someone said in a comment here, they are nowadays horrified at the idea of a god purposely arranging the abuse and murder of his “beloved” son to save others. They want nothing to do with someone suffering deliberate abuse and being told it is for their sake.

  202. brian wrote:

    Actually, Christiane, it was explained like this, not from the pulpit but in the little theological huddles that actually held more authority. First, we are all dead in Adam, from the very moment of conception to our last dying breath we are under the curse of the law. God is so holy that nothing at all that has any taint of sin, including being sick, not having a perfect body, anything corrupted by this world cannot even be seen by God at all.

    Wow. Those ‘huddles’ of important men believed THAT?
    Dear God.
    It’s beyond heresy, and into something else: a contempt for the Source of our being and He Who from moment to moment sustains our very lives. It is so sad to know that there are people who call themselves ‘Christian’ who are teaching something so blasphemous about God. I see the hand of the ‘infernal serpent’ at work in the pride and hubris of such men, yes.

  203. @ refugee:

    The way brian stated it, it sounded like they were talking about god not seeing us in the here and now if we weren’t perfect, though. Maybe I misunderstood.

  204. @ refugee:
    When my husband passes, his body will be cremated. And the USNavy will bury his ashes in the Deep, where so many of those who died defending our country at sea are resting. And bodies at sea do not remain intact.

    And yet the Book of Revelation says this to me:
    “The sea gave up the dead that were in it” (from Rev. 20:13)

    I believe I will see my husband again after his ashes are committed to the care of the Deep. I believe.

    But LEA, there is something so much more of hope for resurrection in sacred Scripture.

    These words are among the most resounding and triumphantly hopeful in all of Scripture:

    “I know that my Redeemer liveth,
    and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
    And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
    Whom I shall see for myself,
    and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.”
    (Job 19:25-27)

  205. Darlene wrote:

    Ken, what specifically are you thinking of as “imperial Roman customs” in the Divine Liturgy? I’m just asking because I’m Orthodox and don’t know what you mean by this comment.

    Sorry for not being more clear. It’s not the liturgy that bothers me. It’s the ceremonial aspects, such as ring-kissing and all the pomp and circumstance that goes into the service. My brother told me he once attended an EO service. He was running late so he came in a side entrance. He ended up walking on the Bishop’s rug, which created quite a commotion. He said it was if he did something that would send him to hell. He was wondering why there was so much concern about a piece of carpet. t I was thinking about attending the only EO church in where I live. The site had a video of the priest preparing for the Eucharist. I have ill feelings toward anyone who finds meaning in things like the vestments and the careful preparation of the bread (it looked like artistic cutting up of a biscuit), but it’s not something that I can feel comfortable with right now for myself. At least not yet.

  206. Darlene wrote:

    If all members were to take the advice of this 9Marks article, there would be no more 9Marks churches left, because they – the 9Marxists – are the very example of what they are warning against in this article.

    I was stunned by the irony of that article. Your analysis is excellent.

  207. Ken F wrote:

    I have ill feelings toward

    One of my notoriously bad typos. I meant to type “I have no ill feelings toward”

  208. Ken F wrote:

    I was stunned by the irony of that article. Your analysis is excellent.

    I think it is more of their strategy of “We have learned/grown/matured.” Not that what they were teaching was wrong/unbiblical/unchristian. Sort of like Dever’s video about not being a 9Marxist. Go slow so you don’t scare the wildlife.

  209. refugee wrote:

    what I heard at an R.C. Sproul conference on the Holiness of God. God is so very holy that he cannot bear even the tiniest trace of sin

    Apparently the same Holy God also took on ‘the sins of the world’ for our sake?????

    well, Sproul fans, so much for ‘biblical’ 1 Peter 2:24
    “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree..”

  210. refugee wrote:

    It is certainly related to what I heard at an R.C. Sproul conference on the Holiness of God. God is so very holy that he cannot bear even the tiniest trace of sin…

    I was confused by this belief of R.C. Sproul but then I found this quote by him:
    “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ.”
    So R.C. Sproul did not believe in the Crucifixion of the Author of Life? I guess not.

    how do such men rise to prominence in the Church who do not even realize that a PERSON died on that Cross, not a ‘nature’????

    what is the belief of R.C. Sproul in ‘Who Christ Is’?????
    Does Sproul see Christ through the eyes of one of the ancient Christian heresies???

  211. Christiane wrote:

    well, Sproul fans, so much for ‘biblical’ 1 Peter 2:24
    “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree..”

    That’s from those invisible books of the Bible, the ones “we don’t talk about…”

  212. ishy wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    well, Sproul fans, so much for ‘biblical’ 1 Peter 2:24
    “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree..”

    That’s from those invisible books of the Bible, the ones “we don’t talk about…”

    LOL I just wondered how he got away with it. 🙂 Your reasoning sounds as good as any.

  213. Gram3 wrote:

    Go slow so you don’t scare the wildlife.

    Yeah, that’s what hunters do. Wanna bag some game? Don’t let ’em hear you ….. don’t let ’em see you.

  214. refugee wrote:

    But it remains seared in my memory, a picture of the unloving nature of calvinism.

    Just like the Jonathan Edward’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which is honored among Calvinists as one of the best sermons of all time. That nailed it for me. That Edward’s sermon is devoid of the love of God. Imagine a grieving, or struggling, or overly scrupulous Christian hearing that sermon and believing it to be true. Seriously, it could lead a person to give up on their faith entirely.

  215. refugee wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Love has been turned upside down. We must love committed church members because if we don’t, we are not committed to and don’t love God. The love of God to his creation is not a matter for discussion-only our sinful behavior.
    Reminds me of the question Jesus was asked: “Who is my brother?”
    Somehow I don’t think the answer is “committed church members”.

    And what about “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Seems these Neo-Cals have changed the definition of love. Love for them is holding to some rigid list of do’s and don’t’s and ostracizing those who don’t follow the rules.

  216. Christiane wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    what I heard at an R.C. Sproul conference on the Holiness of God. God is so very holy that he cannot bear even the tiniest trace of sin
    Apparently the same Holy God also took on ‘the sins of the world’ for our sake?????
    well, Sproul fans, so much for ‘biblical’ 1 Peter 2:24
    “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree..”

    A quick refresher course in New Calvinism: Jesus has little to do with their thinking. Their view of God is one who stands aloof from His creation, and looks at us a Unclean Things.

  217. Darlene wrote:

    Seems these Neo-Cals have changed the definition of love.

    Ah yes, TVC and “push her under our care”. They certainly do have different meanings for commonly understood words.

  218. Christiane wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    It is certainly related to what I heard at an R.C. Sproul conference on the Holiness of God. God is so very holy that he cannot bear even the tiniest trace of sin…
    I was confused by this belief of R.C. Sproul but then I found this quote by him:
    “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ.”
    So R.C. Sproul did not believe in the Crucifixion of the Author of Life? I guess not.
    how do such men rise to prominence in the Church who do not even realize that a PERSON died on that Cross, not a ‘nature’????
    what is the belief of R.C. Sproul in ‘Who Christ Is’?????
    Does Sproul see Christ through the eyes of one of the ancient Christian heresies???

    Hard to believe, isn’t it, Christiane? Sproul actually divides Christ into two entities – his human nature and his divine nature – making them separate from each other. Further, if God the Son did not die for our sins, only his human nature, then how was death actually conquered? And what does such a teaching make of the Incarnation? But this is what happens when the only way to understand spiritual realities is understood through rationalism. Calvinism is completely devoid of mystery. For that matter, it is devoid of beauty as well. It is a cold, callous, detached, unmerciful system. Lord have mercy on all those trapped therein.

  219. Darlene wrote:

    If all members were to take the advice of this 9Marks article, there would be no more 9Marks churches left, because they – the 9Marxists – are the very example of what they are warning against in this article.

    I will venture to say the purpose is not information but mis-direction. The earliest sermons from an NPD pastor were on humility. Just about everyone then attributed to him humility and let their guard down. So they preach on “when not to submit to church leaders” and viola, the unsuspecting will attribute they are worthy of the authority they claim.

    Also the claim “when to submit” advances a false premise, in the Church there is no grant of authority of one man over others. If instead they start preaching against the idea of men in authority within the Church and our submission to them, then maybe maybe they can be worthy of respect. Till that time they are more worthy of suspicion.

  220. Bill M wrote:

    Also the claim “when to submit” advances a false premise, in the Church there is no grant of authority of one man over others.

    See, there you go reading too closely. You are supposed to nod and agree. That is your Role because Hebrews 13:17 and Keys.

  221. refugee wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Love has been turned upside down. We must love committed church members because if we don’t, we are not committed to and don’t love God. The love of God to his creation is not a matter for discussion-only our sinful behavior.

    Reminds me of the question Jesus was asked: “Who is my brother?”

    Somehow I don’t think the answer is “committed church members”.

    Our Lord was an Advocate for a more inclusive understanding there than was ‘acceptable’ at the time. Perhaps because He had, in the mystery that was the Incarnation, taken our humanity to Himself.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of the Incarnation: “we have been taken up and borne in the humanity of Jesus ….. The incarnate Lord makes His followers the brothers and sisters of all humanity.”

    The ‘exclusiveness’ of neo-Cal Churches contradicts the fullness of ‘Who Christ Is’ and how the Incarnation changed humanity’s relationship to God and to one another profoundly.

  222. Darlene wrote:

    Love for them is holding to some rigid list of do’s and don’t’s and ostracizing those who don’t follow the rules.

    goodness, that places the neo-Cal theology strictly into the camp of the pharisees …. their teacher and model must be the way of the Pharisee in the temple pointing in contempt at the Publican …..

    and yet it was that humble Publican with whom God found favor ….

  223. Nancy2 wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:

    Go slow so you don’t scare the wildlife.

    Yeah, that’s what hunters do. Wanna bag some game? Don’t let ’em hear you ….. don’t let ’em see you.

    memory in the mountains of Jersey on a dark winding road … rounding a bend and suddenly in the headlights seeing what I thought might be two large greyhounds …. turned out they were two beautiful, very young deer standing in the middle of that road …. I stopped in time, thank God

  224. Nancy2 wrote:

    Most SS teachers focus more on entertaining the kids with coloring pages, puzzles, crafts, and Veggie Tales!

    So when a new bunch rides into town and promotes that they will put kids under “correct doctrine”, the Church jumps at the chance! Such is the magic formula and attraction to New Calvinism. Young adults with a genuine hunger to go deeper than the stale religion they have experienced can easily stumble into the counterfeit.

  225. Christiane wrote:

    When my husband passes, his body will be cremated. And the USNavy will bury his ashes in the Deep, where so many of those who died defending our country at sea are resting. And bodies at sea do not remain intact.

    There was actually a teaching going around in some hyper-reformed churches that made people opt for burial–keeping their bodies whole, waiting for the resurrection–instead of cremation.

    Of course, that can’t save the bodies from corruption and natural processes… “dust to dust, ashes to ashes” and “from dust were ye made; unto dust will ye return”.

    But some people I knew, including at least one preacher, took it seriously.

  226. @ refugee:

    The RCC used to forbid cremation as an elective option based on reasons that I have forgotten. When one of the Kennedy men was cremated and then ashes put in the ocean there was a write up about this in the papers, apparently they had to get permission or something; I have forgotten the details. And I have forgotten the arguments put forth at the time.

  227. Christiane wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    Christiane wrote:
    well, Sproul fans, so much for ‘biblical’ 1 Peter 2:24
    “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree..”
    That’s from those invisible books of the Bible, the ones “we don’t talk about…”
    LOL I just wondered how he got away with it. Your reasoning sounds as good as any.

    In my experience, he was an incredibly gifted speaker. He took complex concepts, quoting from philosophers and theologians and the early Church Fathers, and explained them in a way that made sense, with vivid word pictures and what sounded like practical application.

    He spoke warmly about the love of God, how much God loves us, and that message sort of dominated everything else he taught, shoving it into the background (a god who is so holy we cannot approach him without the covering of Christ, but guess what! We have that covering in Christ! …a god who creates people for the sole purpose of casting them into hell… a god whose main purpose for anything he does seems to be to glorify himself… everything is for his glory… our suffering is for his glory… it doesn’t take much of a leap to being to believe that he causes our suffering so he can get more glory, yeah, I know the bible doesn’t exactly say that but it feels that way–they cover it up with “his ways are higher than our ways” but if a *person* exhibited those characteristics we’d call him a monster).

    The “background” finally got to me.

  228. Darlene wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    But it remains seared in my memory, a picture of the unloving nature of calvinism.
    Just like the Jonathan Edward’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which is honored among Calvinists as one of the best sermons of all time. That nailed it for me. That Edward’s sermon is devoid of the love of God. Imagine a grieving, or struggling, or overly scrupulous Christian hearing that sermon and believing it to be true. Seriously, it could lead a person to give up on their faith entirely.

    Yeah. There was a lot of glowing talk about Jonathan Edwards and that particular sermon at our former church.

    And Calvin, of course. Greatest Human Being in History.

    (Wait. I thought that was supposed to be Jesus?)

  229. Darlene wrote:

    Christiane wrote:
    refugee wrote:
    It is certainly related to what I heard at an R.C. Sproul conference on the Holiness of God. God is so very holy that he cannot bear even the tiniest trace of sin…
    I was confused by this belief of R.C. Sproul but then I found this quote by him:
    “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ.”
    So R.C. Sproul did not believe in the Crucifixion of the Author of Life? I guess not.
    how do such men rise to prominence in the Church who do not even realize that a PERSON died on that Cross, not a ‘nature’????
    what is the belief of R.C. Sproul in ‘Who Christ Is’?????
    Does Sproul see Christ through the eyes of one of the ancient Christian heresies???
    Hard to believe, isn’t it, Christiane? Sproul actually divides Christ into two entities – his human nature and his divine nature – making them separate from each other. Further, if God the Son did not die for our sins, only his human nature, then how was death actually conquered? And what does such a teaching make of the Incarnation? But this is what happens when the only way to understand spiritual realities is understood through rationalism. Calvinism is completely devoid of mystery. For that matter, it is devoid of beauty as well. It is a cold, callous, detached, unmerciful system. Lord have mercy on all those trapped therein.

    This is an eye-opening discussion. Thank you.

    We absorbed Sproul’s teachings for way too long. I am just beginning to see the error. I appreciate the clarity people are bringing to the topic.

  230. Christiane wrote:

    I was confused by this belief of R.C. Sproul but then I found this quote by him:
    “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ.”

    Isn’t this what early Gnosticism claimed? That the spiritual Christ was preserved, and only the man Jesus died?

    Everything old is new again… 🙁

  231. Love is the missing mark?
    Therefore 9 Marks misses the mark?

    Yes, I’m sure someone has already said that here or somewhere else. But I haven’t seen it yet. Haven’t read all the comments. Can’t keep up.

  232. Mara wrote:

    Love is the missing mark?
    Therefore 9 Marks misses the mark?
    Yes, I’m sure someone has already said that here or somewhere else. But I haven’t seen it yet. Haven’t read all the comments. Can’t keep up.

    Yes.

    Love is the ONLY mark of a healthy, Biblical church as other people have posted on other threads here for years.

    Yet “Love” never made it Mark Dever’s list of what constitutes a ‘healthy, Biblical church’. All Mark Dever did, as Todd Wilhelm has previously noted on other threads, is re-release the 1970’s abusive, authoritarian, cultic heavy-Shepherding Movement’s tactics (whose Florida founders repented for its abusiveness and un-Biblicalness).

  233. Velour wrote:

    heavy-Shepherding Movement’s tactics (whose Florida founders repented for its abusiveness and un-Biblicalness).

    This stuff seems to be hard for the church to get rid of. It’s starting to look like spiritual bed bugs.

    I’m wondering how long hash tags are allowed to be.
    #9marksmissesmark seems like one I’d use if I actually hash tagged.
    I may have seen that somewhere before. Or not.

  234. Mara wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    heavy-Shepherding Movement’s tactics (whose Florida founders repented for its abusiveness and un-Biblicalness).
    This stuff seems to be hard for the church to get rid of. It’s starting to look like spiritual bed bugs.
    I’m wondering how long hash tags are allowed to be.
    #9marksmissesmark seems like one I’d use if I actually hash tagged.
    I may have seen that somewhere before. Or not.

    I like that, Mara, “spiritual bed bugs”.

    Hashtags are good.

  235. Mara wrote:

    It’s starting to look like spiritual bed bugs.

    Yes, there are some definite similarities with New Calvinists and bed bugs. Both operate in darkness, both are creepy & deceptive, both attract & congregate in numbers, both have rather large mouths, both will suck the blood out of you if you give them the chance.

  236. Darlene wrote:

    Just like the Jonathan Edward’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which is honored among Calvinists as one of the best sermons of all time.

    I’d even give Edwards a break at this point. If he preached that sermon today, I bet he would include the transgressions of New Calvinism as an illustration.

  237. Velour wrote:

    All Mark Dever did, as Todd Wilhelm has previously noted on other threads, is re-release the 1970’s abusive, authoritarian, cultic heavy-Shepherding Movement’s tactics (whose Florida founders repented for its abusiveness and un-Biblicalness).

    I was on the fringes of the Shepherding Movement in the Seventies.

    The cultic “splinter fellowship” I was associated with at the time called it “Discipleship”. They even taught that you KNOW you are Saved and Filled with the Holy Spirit and completely Discipled when you “snap” and never ever doubt again. I later found this phenomenon is called “snapping” in the context of Thought Reform/brainwashing. It’s when the brainwashing takes over completely and from then on “He Loved Big Brother”.

    The damage is still there.

  238. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    The damage is still there.

    Yes, the damage from a cultic group/Thought Reform/brainwashing is long-lasting.

    I am sorry to hear that you are still dealing with the damage from it. I’m glad, however, that you made your escape from it.

  239. refugee wrote:

    It is certainly related to what I heard at an R.C. Sproul conference on the Holiness of God. God is so very holy that he cannot bear even the tiniest trace of sin…

    The Calvary Road, a Fundy devotional that messed me up in the Seventies, put it this way (their all-caps, not mine):
    “And GOD HATES SIN WITH SUCH A PERFECT HATRED…”

    Add this line rom a screaming radio preacher of the time:
    “Man sees a cute little baby. GOD SEES AN UTTERLY DEPRAVED SINNER!”
    and
    “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE!”

    All the above usually went together as a package deal. Result:
    GOD HATES ME WITH SUCH A PERFECT HATRED.
    I have not been able to completely shake that. For lengths of time, yes, but not permanently.

    Sequel:
    Some years ago while visiting my writing partner (the burned-out preacher), we were going through a freebie bin at that used bookstore in Dillsburg, PA (just north of the Rodeway Inn) and came across a copy of The Calvary Road in the bin. I mentioned my experience with it and he immediately pronounced it “BAD Theology”.

  240. Christiane wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    The damage is still there.
    Can you be de-programmed?
    Seriously

    Yes. People can be deprogrammed. Steve Hassan, psychologist/author/former Moonie cult member in the 70’s, works with people. He says that even people born into cults have an authentic self, it’s like it’s programmed into their DNA. He tells the stories of children born into cults…who ALWAYS hated the cult and saw right through it.

    I have Steve Hassan’s book called Combating Cult Mind Control, a best-seller.

  241. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    I was confused by this belief of R.C. Sproul but then I found this quote by him:
    “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ.”

    Isn’t this what early Gnosticism claimed? That the spiritual Christ was preserved, and only the man Jesus died?

    Everything old is new again…

    when people are not ‘mainline’ Protestant, and have no connection to Catholic or Orthodox Church history, it is very possible for them to fall into some of the sandtraps that the early heretics stumbled into ….. I mean they tried to understand what could not be explained, so they explained it ANYWAY …. it took the whole Church meeting in Councils over a period of years to combat these early heresies

    of course, without roots into the past, mistakes are bound to be repeated, which is sad because a lot of these people are simply trying to comprehend and find meaning in the mysteries of the faith

  242. Velour wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    The damage is still there.

    Yes, the damage from a cultic group/Thought Reform/brainwashing is long-lasting.
    I am sorry to hear that you are still dealing with the damage from it. I’m glad, however, that you made your escape from it.

    You know what my escape was?

    I discovered Dungeons & Dragons.
    And the gamers treated me a lot better.
    What Christians call “Fellowship” except FOR REAL.
    (And the rep D&D had among tunnel-visioned Christians caused them to cut ties and back away after that. So I ended up making a clean break without any of “The Backslider’s Getting Away! After Him!” pursuit.)

  243. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    came across a copy of The Calvary Road in the bin. I mentioned my experience with it and he immediately pronounced it “BAD Theology”.

    I destroy those books when I find them. Even my own, I ripped to shreds and placed in different recycling bins. I refused to give them away and have anyone exposed to them.

    Someone here once before commented that it was akin to witches in the Bible destroying all of their wares when they came to Christ.

  244. Christiane wrote:

    when people are not ‘mainline’ Protestant, and have no connection to Catholic or Orthodox Church history, it is very possible for them to fall into some of the sandtraps that the early heretics stumbled into …..

    In software, this is called “Reinventing the Wheel Syndrome”.

    My type example is an interview on Rich Buhler’s talk show in the Eighties.
    Interviewee was a big-name preacher who after years and years and years of study and Scripture and theology and prayer came to the exact same conclusion on Christians and alcohol that the RCC/EO had around 1800 years before.

  245. Darlene wrote:

    But this is what happens when the only way to understand spiritual realities is understood through rationalism. Calvinism is completely devoid of mystery. For that matter, it is devoid of beauty as well.

    Calvinism likes its god formulated, pinned and wriggling on a wall.

  246. Velour wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    came across a copy of The Calvary Road in the bin. I mentioned my experience with it and he immediately pronounced it “BAD Theology”.

    I destroy those books when I find them.

    So did he.
    That was very reassuring; having it pronounced “BAD Theology” and then destroyed so it couldn’t mess up anyone else.

  247. Jenny wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    But this is what happens when the only way to understand spiritual realities is understood through rationalism. Calvinism is completely devoid of mystery. For that matter, it is devoid of beauty as well.

    Calvinism likes its god formulated, pinned and wriggling on a wall.

    At which point, it’s not God.
    It’s just another bug in the theologian’s collection.
    Socratic Atheism strikes again.

  248. Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service interviews Carol Howard Merritt, author of “Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting With a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church”:

    http://gazette.com/hurt-by-the-church-its-time-to-talk-about-it/article/1596255

    “RNS: Are there particular kinds of churches that seem to inflict harm disproportionately?

    CHM: Yes, there are certain churches that can be more complicit in abuse. Religion has the capacity to inspire us to be peaceful, loving, and fully human in the best sense, or it can make us controlling, violent, and cruel. We can learn a lot about how a church inflicts harm by listening for the ways that they describe God. People reflect the God they worship. So if people focus on an angry God, then they become angry people. On the other hand, if people worship a loving God, then they can be inspired to move about in the world as a beloved community.”

    “RNS: What about ‘new Calvinism?’ I know people who feel these types of churches inflict a disproportionate amount of pain. What do you think?

    CHM: I’m a Calvinist and a pastor in the largest Presbyterian denomination, with the deepest historic roots. I study and teach alongside feminist theologians and biblical scholars. We read Calvin with a generous lens, as people who are reformed and still reforming.
    I don’t have a lot of experience with new Calvinism. I was confused when people disparaged Calvinists as ultra-conservative, or writers who talk about Calvinists as something completely different from the largest and most historic streams of thought. The main exposure I have to new Calvinism are the avatars who attack me and other women writers regularly online. I physically wince when I think about them, like a dog who has been hit by her owner. So if we’re judging social media interactions, it seems new Calvinism stands in the forefront of Christians who inflict pain.”

  249. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Jenny wrote:
    Calvinism likes its god formulated, pinned and wriggling on a wall.

    At which point, it’s not God.
    It’s just another bug in the theologian’s collection.
    Socratic Atheism strikes again.

    Theologies, congregants, buildings, associations, conferences, book deals.
    They’re quite fond of their collections, aren’t they?

  250. Christiane wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    The damage is still there.
    Can you be de-programmed?
    Seriously

    At risk of drifting well off-topic, here’s what I remember of that splinter group, in case anyone else has heard about it:
    * Name was “Koinionia House Christian Fellowship”, Whittier, California, circa 1973-76.
    * Occupied two older Craftsman houses in an older part of Whittier. I remember one was having its crawl space excavated into a “barracks” of ad hoc bunkrooms. All were encouraged/pressured to “come out from among the Heathen” — i.e. live onsite “with your Brothers and Sisters in Christ”, possibly work in a cleaning service owned by the Fellowship. Also may have occupied a fourplex apartment with doors cut through closets to link the four units. In retrospect, can you say “Cult Compound”?
    * Was associated/involved with a campus Christian Fellowship at nearby Rio Hondo Jr College; that’s how I first got involved with them.
    * May or may not have been associated with another church in the area; I vaguely remember one all-night waving-hands-in-the-air prayer/worship in an actual church building.
    * Theology appeared to most resemble Calvary Chapel (which was the default for such groups) — Fundy, SCRIPTURE, lotsa Soul-Winning and Street Witnessing, lotsa tracts, possible Chick Tracts. Treated non-Fundy churches as heretic/apostate/lukewarm. No time for anything secular — No Lukewarms to get spewed out of Christ’s mouth here!
    * Heavy emphasis on End Time Prophecy a la Hal Lindsay (again, typical of the time). Work For The Night Is Coming…
    * Recommended the Dake’s Annotated Bible; this may not have been official, but a private recommendation by one of the members. Dake’s Annotated had KJV in the two inner columns and “Dake’s” commentary on the two outer columns. Said commentary was just plain WEIRD; I think everyone studied the commentary more than the source text. (Did I mention it was WEIRD?)
    * I think The Calvary Road devotional/tract/pamphlet that started this sub-thread came from them. Don’t remember for sure; there were a lot of overlapping Christian circles at the time.
    * No single leader or “pastor” as far as I could tell; just several “elders” who could not have been over 25; I think groupthink acted as a leader-in-absentia.
    * Very fearful of the Devil and his snares. I remember one incident where a kid was afraid of a searchlight on the clouds, thought it was “a ghost” only to be corrected by his mom about “There are no ghosts; Satan wants us to think there are.”
    * Experienced love-bombing and pressure to move in to their compound; got much more love-bombed and high-pressured when my father remarried. That was about the time I first got involved in D&D and ended up leaving, around January of 1976.

    They did help me through my mother’s death in 1975, I’ll grant them that. However, having them do her funeral (only church we knew of at the time) turned out to be a mistake. Funny now in a “What Were We Thinking?” comedy of errors, not so much at the time.

    Ten-fifteen years later, I was at a wedding or baptism where I mentioned the group’s name/location and was told that several members had to be forcibly deprogrammed from there (as in abducted/deprogrammed). Felt like I’d dodged a bullet.

  251. refugee wrote:

    I know I’ve heard much talk about “glorified bodies”

    Phil. 3:21 maybe? “He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”

  252. refugee wrote:

    Christiane wrote:
    the will in them to leave what they know to be ‘dark’ and to go towards something less hateful IS a gift from God, and He, having begun that journey in them, will see them safely home ….

    No, it wasn’t the Church they left behind… but that so-called church acted rather as a vaccination would, it seems.

    Vaccination:
    Expose the organism to a weakened/harmless form of a pathogen, so when they’re exposed to the actual pathogen, their body’s immune system will automatically REJECT it.

  253. Lea wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    If all members were to take the advice of this 9Marks article, there would be no more 9Marks churches left, because they – the 9Marxists – are the very example of what they are warning against in this article.
    Truth. How can they be so unaware??

    The Arrogance of The Righteous Who KNOW They Can Do No Wrong.

  254. Darlene wrote:

    God’s love for us is a comfort in the midst of all our sorrows. Take away God’s love and what is left? A cold, aloof, unconcerned, capricious, callous god.

    An Al’lah who is Omnipotent but not Benevolent.

    More and more I’m convinced that Islam just monotheized the capricious/callous old gods. Except for multiple gods acting on their whims, you have only One God doing the same with total Omnipotence. All that was bad of the old gods got transferred to the new One God.

  255. Nancy2 wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    Go slow so you don’t scare the wildlife.
    Yeah, that’s what hunters do. Wanna bag some game? Don’t let ’em hear you ….. don’t let ’em see you.

    Until your sights are lined up and locked on for the Kill.

  256. Bill M wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    Seems these Neo-Cals have changed the definition of love.
    Ah yes, TVC and “push her under our care”. They certainly do have different meanings for commonly understood words.

    Redefinition into their “diabolical meanings”, My Dear Wormwood.

  257. okrapod wrote:

    @ refugee:
    The RCC used to forbid cremation as an elective option based on reasons that I have forgotten.

    I think it was because at one point cremation was used by the New Atheists of their day as a deliberate slam against the Church. (And earlier than that, pre-Christian Romans cremated whenever possible.)

  258. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    (And the rep D&D had among tunnel-visioned Christians caused them to cut ties and back away after that. So I ended up making a clean break without any of “The Backslider’s Getting Away! After Him!” pursuit.)

    They called off the “Blow Drill”?

    (For those unfamiliar with Scientologese: http://blownforgood.com/?page_id=39 Apologies for the poor display quality.)

  259. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    (And the rep D&D had among tunnel-visioned Christians caused them to cut ties and back away after that. So I ended up making a clean break without any of “The Backslider’s Getting Away! After Him!” pursuit.)

    They called off the “Blow Drill”?

    I don’t think they were organized enough to have a Blow Drill.

    I was living at home at the time, and just stopped showing up. None of them had ever been to my address, so in those pre-Google days they wouldn’t have known where I lived. (And I don’t think they had any connections to official records or phone books; I remember someone there said they never registered to vote because “the Antichrist could track us down”.

    (For those unfamiliar with Scientologese: http://blownforgood.com/?page_id=39 Apologies for the poor display quality.)

    The name I heard wasn’t “Scientologese”, but “Clamspeak” because Elron taught that humans evolved from clams. Are you familiar with the “Poor Little Clam — Snap! Snap! Snap!” gesture?

  260. The problem may be that you are using Gulag, a five letter word, and they can’t understand it.

    Sarcasm aside, the responses I’ve seen indicate an astonishing lack of empathy. I can understand that. I’ve been diagnosed as a borderline psychopath. It took me a long time to learn empathy, and even now at age sixty, I can’t claim to be good at it. This does not mean that these folk have my issues, there are ways of loosing empathy, usually by considering a person, or class of people as lesser.

  261. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    The name I heard wasn’t “Scientologese”, but “Clamspeak” because Elron taught that humans evolved from clams.

    Yeah, I know the term, though I don’t often use it. I’m not fond of referring to Scientologists as “clams”, which some critics do. To me, it’s a little too similar to the way they call us “wogs”.

  262. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    The name I heard wasn’t “Scientologese”, but “Clamspeak” because Elron taught that humans evolved from clams.

    Yeah, I know the term, though I don’t often use it. I’m not fond of referring to Scientologists as “clams”, which some critics do. To me, it’s a little too similar to the way they call us “wogs”.

    Then how about “Minions of Xenu”?

  263. It is very dangerous when Christians lost and forget their first love for God and first love for their neighbours. Many Christians tries to separate the two, but honestly you can’t. If you don’t love your neighbours you cannot love God.

    This is John’s warning in 1 John 4:18-21. This is the warning Jesus gave to the church in Revelation 2:2-5. If they endured hardship for Jesus’ name but still lost their first love then which one did they lost? Did they stop loving God or stopped loving their neighbours? And also Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthian 13:1-3. How many warnings from God can these judgmental, unloving, holier-than-thou Christians ignore?

    For judgmental Christians, I find that deep inside they actually believe in salvation by works. For example you cannot be a drug addict and a Christian at the same time. These judgmental Christians look at their little “holy” lives, and judge everyone else who doesn’t live up to their standards. This is very wrong and dangerous, because it is saying salvation comes from stopping one’s drug addictions, not from having faith in Jesus. Hence salvation by works.

    In my opinion of course a drug addict can be a Christian and be saved. Salvation comes from faith in Jesus, not works. Instead God has given that drug addict a new identity. He/she is now a Christian who is struggling with a drug addiction.

    This is very important for all of us since we are all sinners. And even as Christians we keep on sinning. For example while I might not be struggling with drugs, I might be struggling with other problems like anger, jealousy, etc problems. Does this mean I am not a Christian? Nope! But I might be a Christian who is struggling with these issues.

    My salvation is from faith, totally separated from my issues and sins. But these judgmental Christians are trying to put salvation back with works. They say to prove your faith you must do works, such as stopping your sins, volunteering and donating. They forgot that works without love for God and love for neighbors is useless. God only wants CHEERFUL givers and volunteers. If your action on the outside “appears” loving but on the inside of your heart you aren’t loving, what is the point of it all?

    If a person has zero love for God and neighbours, and isn’t happy to give and serve, then don’t bother giving and serving at all! Keep that $20 a week in your wallet. And go play tennis instead of volunteering.

    And if you don’t have love, don’t even bother stopping your sins just cause you “have to”. If you know cheating hurts your wife, but you don’t love your wife anyways, why bother stopping just because the pastor said so? If you know aborting your healthy baby hurts God’s heart, but you don’t love God anyways, why bother stopping? If you know doing drugs hurts yourself and God who loves you, but you love neither yourself and God, why bother trying to stop?

    These works are totally useless without love. I say this to every person that ask me about works. I don’t care if the church goes bankrupt because of this, because it is true. If all the people in a church are donating and volunteering out of obligation instead of love, then let that church die.

    If you realize that love is lacking, drop all your works and instead first go pray and grow in the Holy Spirit. Be filled with the love, grace and mercy from God. Understand and remember how much God loves you. And then cheerfully stop your sins and go love and serve the widows and orphans.

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