"No church holds the keys to the kingdom."
If you haven't yet heard of 9Marks, chances are you will (and probably sooner rather than later). Mark Dever, Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, came up with what he describes as "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church" during the 1990s.
In the late 1990s Dever made his 'marks' available in a self-published pamphlet. Actually, it was published by his ministry which at the time was called Center for Church Reform. Several years later, the name of this ministry was changed to 9Marks. "Church reform" was obviously problematic. 😉 The photo at the left is the 4th printing (2001) of Dever's pamphlet, which is still available at Amazon. I have this edition, along with three expanded editions that were published by Crossway. How in the world did churches ever function without these Nine Marks?
Mark Dever and his colleagues have been working tirelessly to train others regarding these 9Marks.
– There are several Weekenders held each year at Capitol Hill Baptist Church that church leaders can attend.
– 9Marks training conferences are being held annually at various seminaries around the country.
– 9Marks at 9 is a regular gathering when messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention convene for the annual meeting.
– The 9Marks website is a repository of information for those wanting to learn how to establish a 'healthy 🙁 church'.
Then there's Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition as well as Ligonier Ministries (and others) that promote Dever's 9Marks. Not only that, Christianity Today has recommended Dever's 9Marks several times in recent articles. With all this promotion, it's incredible to be reminded that the 9Marks have only been around for about 20 years.
Now that Mark Dever's 9Marks have been embraced by more and more pastors/churches, there is a growing number of Christians who can bear witness to their implementation.
Dale is one such person, and he shared his testimony in a post we featured entitled ‘Church Membership’ – Dale Shares His Testimony Regarding Membership in Churches Affiliated With 9Marks.
He followed up with a second installment entitled What Makes 9Marks Churches So Unhealthy?
Dale has written a third installment – What Should We Do About 9Marks and Other Abusive Churches – which we are featuring in this post.
We are grateful to Dale for taking the time to put together this important information, and we pray that our readers will take to heart what he is revealing about his experience and knowledge from having been a member of a church that embraces these 9Marks.
What Should We Do About 9Marks and Other Abusive Churches?
"I'm a friendly stranger in the black sedan
Won't you hop inside my car.
I got pictures, got candy
I'm a lovable man
And I can take you to the nearest star.
I'm your vehicle baby
I'll take you anywhere you want to go.
I'm your vehicle woman
By now I'm sure you know
That I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I want ya,
Got to have you child…"
From the song "Vehicle" written by Jim Peterik of The Ides of March (1970)
This is my third article concerning 9Marks. The first article detailed experiences of abuse at 9Marks churches. The second article explored "Why are 9Marks churches so unhealthy?" In that article, I listed nine problems with 9 Marks that result from Mark Dever's puritanical paradigm. In this article, I explore the question, "How should we respond to 9Marks and other improper religious structures?"
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 16:17:
"I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them."
First, we need to SPOTLIGHT these dangerous "church vehicles." Second, if you are already in the "black sedan", you need to LEAVE immediately for your own safety. Third, the children of God need to AVOID hopping into such dangerous "vehicles" in the first place. Fourth, the church at large is to WARN these divisive "drivers of the sheep". After a second warning, we are to have nothing to do with them (Titus 3:10).
Are 9Marks churches divisive? I say "YES!" Here is my "Top Ten List" of their "Dividic Kingdom".
Number 10: They Divide Christians From Their Assurance
Mark Dever and 9Marks recommend that pastors constantly warn the sheep that they may not belong to Christ. He even tells us to question one another's relationship with Jesus! This promotes an inward focus upon one's obedience instead of an outward focus as to what Jesus accomplished for us at the cross. Constant puritanical instruction causes the sheep to question their conversion. They divide Christians from their assurance. [We need to tell these “back seat drivers” to shut up and stop critiquing the way we drive!]
Number 9: They Divide Christians From Their Freedom
Mark Dever and 9Marks require one to sign a binding "church covenant". This is a legal document that must be agreed to in order to become a card-carrying member of the "church". By swearing an oath, the consciences of believers are bound where they should be free. They are pointed away from the New Covenant and its freedom and are directed back to the bondage of the Law. Christians are divided from their freedom in Christ.
Number 8: They Divide Christians from One Another
Mark Dever and 9Marks require the signing of a fallible statement of faith in order to become a member of the "church". This eventually leads to divisions among the body. Step one: They pressure us toward membership. Step two: They make us sit through a one-hour crash course in the pastor's systematic theology. Step three: I later discover that I disagree with some secondary or tertiary doctrine. Step four: I can no longer in good conscience remain a member of the church. This promotes church hopping and unnecessary division.
Number 7: They Divide Christians During the New Covenant Meal
Mark Dever and 9Marks require evangelical "membership" in order for a Christian to participate in the Lord's Supper. Dever goes even further and has all the "church" members stand up and recite the church's covenant before partaking. Christians are questioned as to their worthiness to share in the meal. This divides Christians from the wonderful grace of remembering Jesus and the blood he shed for us at the cross.
Number 6: They Divide Christian Men and Women and Husbands and Wives
Mark Dever and 9Marks have a very strange understanding of submission. They demand it! This is so detrimental to the healthy functioning of a body of believers and to the health of a marriage. When a pastor teaches that a husband should expect submission from his wife based upon his office as head, he is causing division. In marriage, the husband is called to submit to the wife, just as the wife is to submit to her husband. He is to love her. Love is sacrificial and submissive. The beauty of a loving marriage is mutual submission. The husband is built up by the respect, nurture, and empathy given by the wife. The wife is built up by the respect, nurture and empathy given by the husband. They are together in Christ.
When women are treated as second class citizens at a church, or are kept separate from the men folk, problems arise in the body. I have witnessed an unloving spirit at the 9Marks churches I have attended. They lacked empathy. I think it was a direct result of the authoritarian teaching requiring submission to an office, whether to pastor/elder or husband. They improperly enforce gender roles.
Number 5: They Divide Christians from the Holy Spirit
Mark Dever and 9Marks promote legalism. They demand improper oaths. They mandate adherence to a fallible statement of faith. They preach uncertainty and question one's salvation. In a word, they point people back to Mt. Sinai and the Law. Such practices quench the Holy Spirit. When submission to an office is required, the pastor or elder usurps the authority of the Holy Spirit. This causes Christians to lose touch with the Comforter. Christians are divided from the Holy Spirit. This results in a very unhealthy church.
Number 4: They Divide Christians from the Body of Christ
Mark Dever and 9Marks promote excommunications. Cut 'em off from the Lord's Supper! Cut 'em off if they don't "belong" to a "church!" Cut 'em off if they break their vow of attendance! Cut 'em off if they question our authority! Cut 'em off if they want to leave! Instead of excommunication being a rare occurrence based upon a serious and public sin, just about any act of "rebellion" is grounds for removal. Karen Hinkley is threatened with excommunication for annulling her marriage to her unrepentant pedophile husband! These divisive men abuse their presumed authority and do the unthinkable – they divide Christians from the Body of Christ.
Number 3: They Divide Themselves from their Fellow Christians
Mark Dever and 9Marks declare unashamedly "In our preaching, we stand in the place of God." Are they claiming to be a mediator between God and man? Mark Dever also asserts that trust cannot be earned, it must be "given as a gift" to church leaders. We trust God by trusting our leaders. By demanding submission based on their office, the 9Marks pastors and elders divide themselves from the "common" Christian. In practice, they deny the priesthood of the believer. They are the priests. You are not a priest, and neither am I.
Number 2: They Divide Their Minds; They Lack Integrity
A symptom that goes along with an inflated sense of themselves and a low view of the sheep is double-mindedness. They lack integrity. They don't hold themselves to the same standards. They are hypocrites. So, Mark Dever has no problem letting C.J. Mahaney flee church discipline and hide out at "his" church. These men do not accept reproof. They only interact with those who agree with them. On their blogs and websites they shut off comments. They hide out, and divide their minds from the reality of what they are doing. They preach to others, but don't preach to themselves. They are Pharisaical.
And Number 1: They Divide Christians from Christ!
Mark Dever and 9Marks claims that the "church" holds the keys to the Kingdom. Thus, it is the God-given right for the "church" to decide who is or is not a Christian. They also hold the keys in the matter of excommunication. I spent 34 years of my life in a religion that claimed it held the keys to the Kingdom. In fact, the logo of the organization is two keys and a triple crown.
Brothers and sisters, I can say with assurance that YOU hold the keys to the kingdom. If you didn't, you wouldn't be a Christian. Let me explain. The keys represent the message of salvation. When we confess our need for a Savior and place our trust in Jesus, we enter the kingdom. NO CHURCH HOLDS THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM. Any church that claims to do so is usurping the authority of God and is placing Christians in bondage. I personally discovered this by studying the Book of Colossians. In Chapter 2 there are multiple warnings to beware of authoritarian leadership. "Let no one delude you with a persuasive argument…See to it that no one takes you captive…Therefore no one is to act as your judge…Let no one keep defrauding you…Why do you submit to decrees…" We are warned NOT to hand our keys to a fraudulent authority.
Jonathan Leeman, in his book "Don't Fire Your Church Members", performs a deceptive sleight of hand. He desires, on the one hand, to place authority in the congregation. Then on the other hand he places everyone in the congregation under the authority of the elders, demanding submission. Here is how Leeman steals our keys. Step one: He tells you that your keys belong to the church. [Thank you, Al Mohler, for adding an “s” to “the priesthood of the believer in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.] Step two: Every member of the church must submit to the elders. My keys are now the elder's keys. We are doubly deprived. We now are two steps removed from Jesus. The church is our first mediator, and the pastor/elder/priest is our second mediator. A typical excommunication proceeds based upon the recommendation of the elders. And these elders demand that every member of the congregation submit to their authority! In what courtroom does the prosecuting attorney (elder) demand that the judge (congregation) submit to him?
These authoritarian churches are dangerous S.U.V.s (Seductive, Unsafe Vehicles). 9Marks "popes" stand in the place of God and claim, "I'm your vehicle, baby!" In reality, they are "the stranger in the black sedan". Don't be tempted by their "pictures and candy" to get inside. You do not want to go where they are driving.
Our response to divisive leaders
So, having identified our divisive abusers, we should SHINE THE SPOTLIGHT on them, LEAVE them, AVOID them, and WARN them.
For you shredded cabbage lovers, S-L-A-W.
1. Shine the Spotlight on Them
I recently watched the movie "Spotlight". It is amazing that it took over forty years for the truth to come out. It took a "Spotlight" to reveal the extent of the abuse and cover-up. Abusive churches that replace Christ (e.g. the Pope or the 9 Marks pastor), hide Christ (behind mediators), add requirements or traditions to Christ, or subtract from Christ's sufficiency must be identified and investigated. God often raises up "watchdogs" (like Dee and Deb at the Wartburg Watch) to shine the spotlight of truth on abusive religious structures. Once the spotlight reveals the truth, many stories of abuse come to the surface. This brings comfort and closure to those who have previously been hurt and provides a warning to others.
2. Leave these churches
If you have been seduced into the "vehicle" of an authoritarian church, it is imperative that you get out immediately. These churches will keep you from a thriving relationship with Jesus. They will sap the spiritual life out of you. It takes courage to leave a church. You have developed friendships (tasted the candy), and you may experience rejection. Having been spiritually abused, you will need healing. Ask your friends to pray for you. Remember that you have Jesus interceding for you. You may feel alone, but you are not.
After you leave, realize that you are still in a very vulnerable position. Personally, I gravitated back to another abusive church. We do not always take responsibility for our own spiritual growth, and we hand the reins over to another improper spiritual "leader." We may be deceived because we are used to "milk and not solid food". We may have an unhealthy fear of man.
Another issue is "where do I go?" Some people who have been hurt or deceived are at risk for just calling it quits and giving up on "church". They become "dones". I think for people with this tendency (like myself!), one can start by "finding church" wherever one is able. Develop Christian friendships. Display hospitality. Find a Bible study. Realize that you are a member of the universal church whether or not you have been excommunicated from an abusive church. Do not let these abusers keep you from growing in Jesus Christ. In other words, never give up. Never. I experience church on the golf course with Christian brothers who love me. Church doesn't have to be so structured and rigid. Find someone to be your mentor. Be a mentor yourself. Take advantage of social media and share your story with "online friends". Learn from dead Christians. It's okay to visit churches without "membering". Perhaps someday you will be led by the Spirit to formally join a healthy congregation.
You may have been scarred by your awful experiences at church. Learn to love your scars. My scars remind me not to fear man. They remind me to rest and revel in my relationship with Jesus Christ. They remind me that God loves me so much that He removed me from my abusers. I can look back and see God's hand in everything that happened to me and see how He still is guiding me.
3. Avoid these churches
It is the responsibility of Christians to "act like Bereans". Do your homework. Go to the 9Marks Church Search. ASK QUESTIONS! Abusive pastors/elders are threatened by those who are independent thinkers. If they become at all defensive, you should consider "gittin' outta Dodge". Tell others about churches you consider unhealthy. Don't sign covenants. Be patient in getting to know the church you are attending. Don't submit to people based on their office. Avoid anyone who claims to have a special anointing. Beware of following leaders who have been given a "ministry vision". Leave if Hebrews 13:17 is used to demand submission. Watch out for legalism. Do the elders have a critical spirit? See if Jesus is the center of attention at the church. Listen to some sermons online. Watch out for unbiblical accountability structures. If there is any sign of sin-sniffing, leave. If you are married, pay attention to your spouse's feelings about the church you are attending.
Very important: keep yourself from idols. No hero worship! Don't base your church attendance solely on "pure doctrine". If you do, you may find yourself joining another abusive church with the "Ephesian love problem (Rev. 2)" — one where God has removed the lampstand of the Spirit.
4. Warn the abusers
This can be very dangerous. Know that if you do this alone, you may become prey. You are risking abuse and maybe excommunication. Your abusers typically try to divide and conquer. They will not let you bring others with you to confront them, and they will gang up on you. Tell your stories to others, and get their support. This also may be difficult, because you may have become part of a spiritually abusive collective. Your friends may have become addicted to the "candy and pictures" that they have been receiving week after week at the hands of divisive spiritual abusers.
Pray for these men. They will be held accountable by God for acting like gods. Perhaps He will be gracious and bring these wayward pastors to repentance. But it probably will not be according to your timetable. In any event, the Bible tells us to warn divisive people twice. Three strikes and they're out! Have nothing to do with the abusive person if they do not respond to your warnings. These men are unqualified to be leaders in the household of God. They lord it over the flock. They lack love and empathy. They are not above reproach. They are beyond approach.
There is Nothing New Under the Sun
I would like to conclude this article by recognizing three very brave individuals who have gone before us in this battle for freedom.
The first person is the Apostle Paul. He confronted the Judaizers who wanted to divide the church based on Jewish law. Paul warned Christians of this error and his writings set free the Christian conscience. He suffered persecution.
The second person is Martin Luther. He confronted the powerful papacy, who were dividing the Christian from Christ's righteousness. He set in motion the Reformation, which freed multitudes from bondage. He suffered persecution.
The third person is Roger Williams. He confronted the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony who were dividing Christians from liberty. He set in motion religious liberty in America. He suffered persecution.
May God continue to raise up brave warriors who will defend our freedom that we have in our wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. May He be magnified and glorified in the church now and forever! Amen!
@ Loren R Haas: YES 🙂
You need to put pressure where their god lives, their wallet, that will move mountains. So I say go after the brand and inform, expose, and challenge. I would prefer that we dialog together and pray seeking reconciliation, but they don’t seem to allegedly buy that hippy Jesus stuff too much so in my opinion. I think we need to protect the hurting and innocent and inform the unaware.
So grateful for Dale's tremendous concern for fellow believers!
This is fantastic information he has shared with the TWW community.
I love slaw, both the food and the acronym!
Definitely shine the spotlight on them – as much and as often as possible. Tell neighbors, tell friends, tell coworkers – don’t just tell them, but educate them if possible (no, you pastor does not hold YOUR keys…..), put it on the Internet ……….
12 questions to ask yourself before posting online. Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman discuss the difficulties for a pastor in the age of social media in Episode 2 of Pastor Talk.
He makes some valid points. I have written quite boldly concerning his errors and the effect on the church. Point number 11 is ” Before posting ask yourself ‘Is it wrong to say nothing?'”
I pray that Mark will take what I say to heart. I hope that he will respond to criticism and if we are in error in these things that he will set the record straight.
Thank you, Dale, for summarizing so well the damage that these 9Marxists gulags (cough, “churches”) have done to so many of us, myself included.
I was excommunicated on some trumped up charge, for asking questions. Like the doctor in his 70’s before me, faithful husband for nearly 50 years, faithful and loving father to grown children. Like the middle-aged woman in finance before the good doctor. Anybody who saw what an abusive, authoritarian church we had [Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley] was called into meetings, threatened by pastors/elders, screamed at, ridiculed, threatened with being “factious” and “destined for Hell” and “not one of us”.
Then came the lies and the public humiliation before hundreds of people. They lied about the godly woman in finance. They lied about the good doctor. And then they lied about me.
Relationships that I had spent years investing in…people were ordered to shun me and to never speak to me again.
There is a special place in [very hot place] for my ex-pastors/elders, for Mark Dever, and Jonathan Leeman. I don’t think any of them have encountered the real Jesus. If they did they would be humble. If they did they would Love people. The absence of Love in their lives for others tells me an awful lot about their spiritual life.
I have never met so vicious people as 9 Marxists.
Hi, all. I have posted a new update on the open discussion thread. Thank you all tons.
“Step one: They pressure us toward membership. Step two: They make us sit through a one-hour crash course in the pastor’s systematic theology.”
it doesn’t make sense that adults are ‘pressured’ and ‘made to sit through’ a class ……
these are not the actions of reasonable adult persons, no ….. no one has the power to force this stuff on any adult in a free country ….. what do these 9 Marks ‘leaders’ have on people that they can ‘force’ them into jumping through their hoops???
I don’t get it.
I will speak from my experience at a 9 Marxist gulag (“church”, cough). It’s confusing. There were highly educated people with university degrees, established in top professions who attended the church. That gave it credibility.
There was a fellowship meal/potluck lunch every Sunday, which was fun. In retrospect I now see it as a form of “love bombing”, baiting the trap. Literally.
When there are good people and fun things, it gets hard to go against the tide and to sit quietly and say, “there is something wrong.” So you keep your doubts to yourself.
It took me watching many good people leave my former church over a period of years for me to begin to really question what I was being exposed to. If it was all so sound, why did this good people leave?
thanks for explaining that, VELOUR …… you did not deserve how you were treated there at the end, no
you discerned that something was not right and they proved it in how they treated you at the end
From the post:
“Step one: They pressure us toward membership. Step two: They make us sit through a one-hour crash course in the pastor’s systematic theology. Step three: I later discover that I disagree with some secondary or tertiary doctrine. Step four: I can no longer in good conscience remain a member of the church. This promotes church hopping and unnecessary division.”
This is a huge weak spot. I have within the past decade considered ‘joining’ or ‘converting’ to either of two Christian traditions neither of which I was born into. I chose one and not the other. Neither of them pressured anybody toward membership. Both required a lot more than just a one hour crash course. I did not ‘later’ find out anything about either of them which I had not had more than opportunity to find out before.
9Marks is negligent at this level. Red flag, red flag.
BTW: The RCC, to which I did not convert, required hours upon hours upon hours in RCIA with no pressure whatsoever. TEC, with which I did affiliate, required between 6-8 hours of class prior to confirmation, but confirmation is available only to members who at least in theory have had every opportunity to learn what is going on and what the beliefs and practices are. And years ago when I first left the Baptists and went from FWB to UMC we had about 4 or 5 hours in pastoral class; nobody was trying to pressure anybody or hide anything.
For me, any church system which requires so little in information and preparation and is being said here about 9 Marks is sloppy and probably deceptive. I wonder how they would even determine if the would be member was even converted to Christ in that length of time, seeing that said conversion is at the top of their list.
And you are brave. And you are now a target. Thanks for standing up!
The RCC requires lots more than this of potential converts. Been there, went through the process.
I’m guessing they skip over ‘blessed assurance jesus is mine’ in the hymnal, then?
“Missionary Man, he got GAWD on his side…”
— Eurythmics, “Missionary Man”
Same Pastor with the fake Doctorate who bragged about Jesus personally giving him a white warhorse to ride at His Right Hand at Armageddon, “My Good and Faithful Servant, etc etc”?
P.S. Velour? Did Christ’s Number One Court Favorite go into any details on that Divine Warhorse with his name on it? Like “uncut stallion”?
According to an expose on Fred Phelps, he was a master at dividing his children/cult members from any Assurance. Most extreme threats/promises of Hellfire I’ve ever come across. (And the daily 10+ minute “chastisements” with the pickaxe handle in the name of GAWD helped.)
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
As a matter of fact, H.U.G., said pastor with the fake Doctorate described a big sash across his horse from Jesus with his name on it, “Clifford” (his name is Cliff McManis).
This has been a very difficult series of posts to read. I don’t know why, except it makes my heart hurt.
I have never been a member of a 9M church and I’m exhausted from simply reading and absorbing the information in Dale’s posts. I cannot imagine the pain experience by those of you who have had to tangle with these issues first-hand.
Dale, you put together an amazing series of thoughts on a difficult subject. Your lists have been excellent. Simply superbly done. Thank you for the time, effort and love for the Church which you poured into these thought-provoking articles.
I might go back through the three articles to pick out the points I found most profound, but until then, I want you to know I appreciate the way you took a verse and show how 9M simply does not encompass the HEART of Christ for His church. I think, overall, that’s the kicker…the lack of love and heart.
Deb and Dee, you mined a gem with Dale.
Velour i know exactly what you mean. We went to two different grow groups so we could be part of those types of groups fellowshipping not the controlling aspect. I sat oblivious alot of the time but then things started to pop out such as the over admiration of the pastor, the phoney prayers and how fake some began to sound to me when women would quote scripture. Then it seemed like no one had an opposing opinion or any opinion at all. I still stayed in the frog pot until billy was harmed and even after that i stayed for 7 months and during this time their wicked colors were shining. We then ran but not before the severe abuse had crept in and had its meal (us).
Oh and “Dividic Kingdom” – love that word play. Well placed!
A membership class of all of 1 hour is just weird. It goes on for weeks in the PCA, more than a month–maybe several months, I can’t remember for sure. Expecting new members to sign a covenant after just one hour of teaching is definitely a huge red flag.
Remnant, it truly is grieving. And it is a deceptive attack on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It all kind of blind-sided me. You expect to fight battles with those who are clearly enemies of the cross of Christ. But when you witness those whom you believed were standing on the side of truth error so grievously, it is like being betrayed by a friend.
ECT and the various false ecumenical agreements grieved my heart because of the divisions they caused among evangelicals. I was so happy that men like R.C. Sproul took a stand against that attack. But now Ligonier is promoting this most subtle of errors. When I attended the 9 Marks conference last fall at SEBTS, it was with a very heavy heart because of the friends who have been deceived. And I witnessed first hand the idolatry of these men and their followers.
I think I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: point people to the 9 Marks directory, but don’t stop there. Educate other Christians on what features to look for, as more churches get sucked into this movement but don’t advertise their affiliation, not even on their websites. Signed church covenants that must be recited at the Lord’s Supper, mandatory home group participation, sin sniffing, patriarchalism, pastor/elders with absolute power and no accountability, certain authors and conferences being promoted, etc.
I don’t strong feelings about this one way or the other, really. My church usually does a three week deal, but it’s not required. I’ve always thought of that as a way to learn about the church, not for the church to approve you! I guess denominations differ (I have no experience trying to join anything so complicated as the catholic church).
But information should be available if you seek it. The openness and willingness to share with potential members is the important thing to me.
In Tabletalk, they’re also allowing John Piper to promote his “christian hedonism”, Sproul Sr. to insist on tithing 10% of your pre-tax income to be a good Christian, plus Junior is still allowed to contribute as well. I personally think he should have taken a sabbatical.
How else would he get #PAID?? That’s all most of these guys care about, I’m beginning to think. That and power/prestige.
BTW, off topic but I noticed Liberty is doing something and they gave a pastor who is going a personally engraved box with a bunch of stuff in it? Looked expensive. I don’t know what it is but I thought of ishy.
The introduction to Dale’s post discusses the promotion of 9 Marks. In addition to those listed, it is concerning that the book is being promoted in Southern Baptist seminaries and is required reading in at least one of them. From the Amazon review:
“Nine Marks of a Healthy Church is required reading for my students in ecclesiology.”
—Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Deb and/or Dee, I have a question about these covenants as legal documents. You’ve said in the past that churches were having these drawn up by lawyers. Can you tell me if there has been a single case of one of these being upheld in a court of law? I cannot remember if that has ever happened or not. If so, is this starting to change? If not, then I don’t see what difference it makes who is drafting them or who signs them, if no court will enforce them anyway.
When Sproul Jr was defrocked, daddy paid him to speak at a preconference, conference. I remember a lot of Presbyterians were outraged on some blogs.
Excellent post, Dale. The top quote nails it – “No church holds the keys to the Kingdom.”
When the church in any way replaces or supercedes God Himself, it is an idol. Without getting theological or deep, it seems that is what the religious leaders of Jesus’ time did, and the rest is history. The temple curtain was rent.
Dale, thanks for the comments.
I was betrayed by my pastor/friend – a long, sordid tale that involves our livelihood which he tried to steal. Thankfully that ordeal is behind us and this guy was exposed for what he was, a con man. So I do understand the grieving over the nature and character of these horrible “men of God.”
I oft wonder, is this (9M and the like) a deliberate con game to these pastors? Do they believe what they spew or are they playing a great, cosmic game with us as their pawns?
The appellate courts have ruled that belonging to a religious group is voluntary and that people can leave whenever they want. 9 Marxists don’t accept that and insist on defaming, slandering, and harassing people who leave. They are legally way out of line.
But that seems to be Mark Dever’s middle name, “Out of Line”.
Three thumbs up on the awesome post content, Dale! One minor tweak I’d possibly make – it’s Christ in Us who holds the keys.
The only other way to enforce them though, is to try to persuade all other churches to enforce them as well by refusing membership or even attendance to those who fled while “under discipline”. That’s never going to happen. I suppose they might try to colonize at least the entire Reformed world with this standard, but even there I don’t see them succeeding. The confessional folks tend to be a lot more wary about adopting new practices.
I have to think that there has already been some discussion behind the scenes among the 9 Marx leadership about their problem of the unenforceability of these covenants, when push comes to shove. It will be interesting to see what they do going forward. Trying to make them part of some version of the Benedict Option, for example.
Goodness gracious – I got on 9 Marx’s website, found the church locator and see around 100 churches that participate with their ideology within an hours drive of me. Guess I really have to warn people. 🙂
Aside from throwing you out of their church, they can really only enforce what you let them enforce. I think where people get into dicey trouble is when they start ‘telling your sins’ to the church after you have left it.
Did you notice the disclaimer? 9Marks does not endorse any of the churches on its list. It’s almost like an admission of how bad 9Marks churches are. They are so bad that not even 9Marks can endorse them. If they had integrity 9Marks would stand behind their list.
Especially in cases where one’s livelihood has been largely dependent on the business of other church members.
What I think is really outrageous is what happened to Dee and family, where ex-pastor calls up the new pastor to try and get him to put the potential member(s) out of that church also. If the fleeing ex-member is an abuser of some kind looking for new hunting grounds, sure. Otherwise, that’s out of line.
@ Ken F:
Ken, that’s probably something they threw in there on the advice of a lawyer, just in case.
Excellent post. I think one of the fundamental issues of 9 Marks, as with most diversions/perversions of orthodox christainity is the assalt on the “priesthood of the believer”…
Humans want to be boss, in “control”….. in many ways the ultimate boss is to claim you control someones entry into heaven…. it can not be tested like “normal” earthly power! Hilter, along with most other dictators, fall from power before there “natural end” because they really did not have absolute power…. so, claim you have power that is not testable while living a “natural life!”
Claiming you have the keys, and making members recite your own creed before you partake of communion is ranking up there in hubrus, IMHO
I expect that at some point Mark Dever and 9 Marks will be enjoined in a lawsuit for damages.
At my ex-church/gulag — Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley — the pastors/elders sent out an email saying that I was mentally ill, harassing people, that three police departments said this about me, and that to pay me no attention and I would “eventually stop”.
I had discovered a Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer at church while doing an entirely separate research project for a former prosecutor. The pastors/elders gave the sex offender church membership and a position of leadership and trust. They gave him access to all church activities and to children, including inviting him to volunteer at a 5-day basketball camp for children.
For my discovery, the pastors/elders had me in a meeting, screamed and yelled at me, said that child porn wasn’t a big deal, said that moms couldn’t protect their children and had to obey and submit to husbands [a crime in my state of California called child endangerment and she’s not off the legal hook if it all goes wrong], demanded to know if I’d prayed for the sex offender, if I’d confronted him about his lying, and on and on.
The pastors/elders closed the meeting by reading me a Scripture that I was destined for Hell and not one of us, that I was factious, for…discovering a convicted felon in our midst and the importance of child safety and group safety.
Of course the pastors/elders never told the entire congregation this truth, but instead lied about me and our law enforcement agencies.
You have to wonder what the pastors/elders are hiding in their own dark closets. Their reaction isn’t normal.
This entire website could be a cautionary tale about not putting all your eggs in one basket.
Maintain friends outside of church, family…if you can keep your job away that’s or if you’re married split the difference. It’s like diversity is good for risk management in finances and also relationships.
Ha. It screams ‘please don’t cite Mark Dever in your lawsuit’ doesn’t it?
FW Rez wrote:
The New SCRIPTURE!
Like Scientology Auditing Records?
Someone on this blog once related sitting next to some seminarian on a flight. Said seminarian said flat-out that he didn’t believe any of this Jesus crap, but planting a megachurch was where the BIG money lay and he was in this for the money.
And step out of the spotlight?
And interfere with the Cash Flow?
Ken F wrote:
In other words, “Yeah. We told ’em to do this, that, and the other. But, if they actually do this that, and the other, don’t go blamin’ us”!
@ Ken F:
I did not see the disclaimer, but am not surprised.
Scary if all those churches are on the list in hopes to attract more people. Could be doing the exact opposite now that dales articles are out there for all to read.
These covenants were originally drawn up by lawyers. These days, churches merely copy covenants from other churches. They are still legal documents.
It protects the church in one way. If the church decides to discipline a person, WHILE THEY ARE STILL MEMBERS, they are the right to do so and not be sued unless they are abusive in their approach.
The Main Problem: A person can resign legally at any time.
Churches overreach when they add a clause like this ” A member cannot resign while under discipline.” WRONG! An individual may resign at anytime from a church. Once the individual resigns, the church must cease and desist from discussing the resigned member in a public setting. They cannot proceed with discipline and they cannot keep contacting the former member. If they do so, the church can be, and has been, successfully sued for harassment.
For one example of a former member who sued and won a judgment against a church, read this post. It is discussed about halfway down.
I have other examples of this and will be adding them to the page we are developing on church covenants.
Word to the wise: If you have signed such a covenant, you should prepare to resign your membership if the church is behaving abusively. They cannot stop you. TWW recommends that you not sign such covenants since it does allow them to teat you poorly if you maintain your membership.
I suppose more unlikely things have happened.
What about the Godly Character-Assassination Gossip?
Ditto. Except when I am being demanding, I am not a very demanding person, but I would like to see a book or at least a dedicated WordPress page with this material. This is so well done and well organized and gets to the heart of the problem with the 9Marks and greater YRR problem (at least one of the problems.)
9Marks misses the Main Mark of love.
I know several of them. One I believe is seriously disordered and a con of sorts. One is sincere (I think) but easily led and deceived. One is exceedingly prideful and excitable so not sure about him. One likes proximity to celebrity. One is the real deal AFAIK but gets distracted by Big Things, etc. One is a prideful and hypocritical misogynist. One is a very kind and humble servant as far as I can tell. One is a sincere and intellectual wackadoodle nut whose IQ is north of 150 but has ideas that are from Somewhere Else Religious. It’s a mixed bag.
I think that what ties them all together is Elitism. The idea that they are the Elite or they aspire to please God by becoming good enough to be among his Elite, though the best among them would never consider themselves as elites.
I think they take “Umbrella theology”, and add a few more umbrellas.
Thanks again Dale.
I want to add prayer to the list. When you walk out and leave, you will be harassed, insulted, threatened, and told that you didn’t really see things that you know you saw. And then if you do go to a new church, you may hear a Methodist pastor say that he wants broken marriages in his congregation to be healed, and think that that means he would force a woman to stay married to a man after she exposed his infant porn penchant. This is all incredibly difficult and distressing, to anyone. You need prayer to know you’re right, you need prayer for this courage, and you need God’s provision in this time. By taking a random social invitation from a co-worker, I’ve made connections with the Catholic young adults community that has been a huge blessing, and I entirely attribute that to God.
They are absolutely dividing Christians from Christ. Nothing will quench the Holy Spirit faster than sitting through a church you don’t like for the sake of a full social calendar. I say social calendar and not friends, because the people that will abandon you after you leave were never your friends, and the sooner they can be exposed the better. Nothing will bring you closer to Jesus than when He is all as you have as you abandon corrupt religion to seek Him.
What to do about these churches? Name them and shame them. Call them shepherding cults. You will get emotional, angry responses, but you have facts. Point them to articles on heavy shepherding and The Shepherding Movement on gotquestions.org. No one can call that website liberal or modernist. The fact is, plenty of people have experienced “bad vibes” at these places and are just looking for affirmation. Then watch the tide turn. I dare say I think it’s starting in Dallas, take a look at this thread from a Texas A&M forum. It’s simply evangelism!
My experience was with a narcissist, though not of the 9Marks brand. For that special but growing category of dysfunctional pastor it would be wrong to expect the thought of their deceit to enter their mind, they are anything but self-actualized. I am not sure if it is the same thing but it strikes me as similar to dealings with a several pathological liars, their lie was not calculated as many times the truth would have been of more use and when challenged they were oblivious to their behavior.
Thank you for your response. I think the really interesting situations are going to come when a member is put under abusive church discipline, finally gets fed up and resigns, and the church proceeds to stalk the ex-member with behavior that most courts have previously considered to be stalking. We could see some legal definitions of abusive, unreasonable “discipline” start to develop. I seriously doubt that proponents of these church covenants want to go down that path.
In my opinion, at least some churches with these covenant, and clauses about not being able to resign under disipline, are arguing from a “keys to get into heaven”, and not a purely legal/civil perspective.. Whether the church leaders really think they control who gets into heaven or not, they seem to talk in “fuzzy enough” terms to get those that are not well educated scipturally to believe this… .. What better way to control the sheep than make them think you control their salvation, yet speak and write “fuzzy enough” that you talk your way out it!!
Jeffrey J . Chalmers wrote:
I don’t think vulnerable people are necessarily limited to “not well educated.” I mean, look st CLC, as an example, where I would venture to guess that 99% of members have a college degree with a great percentage of those having a graduate degree as well.
In my experience, pastors keep congregations ignorant of Biblical scholarship by “preaching” idiotic sermons week after week, year after year. In my opinion, people think they are being taught the Word, in depth, by their pastors. The pastors lead people to believe they are being taught deep truths and wonderful revelations.
People are busy, they are raising families, they have obligations and simply do not have the time or wherewithal to understand that they are not being taught systematic theology, therefore they do not have the understanding of what they are truly missing. The assigned reading in small groups are such lofty works as Mahaney’a Humility book, which all now know is based on a big,fat,lie.
I think true theology threatens pastors because it will teach people their righteous standing in the Church and take away the pastor’s perceived authority over the congregation.
So people are deliberately being kept uneducated in order to control and deceive.
Jeffrey – just reread you post and I think we are saying the same thing. “Not well educated SCRIPTUALLY…”
Yeah. Sorry for my rant.
Can you be specific?
As far as I know, the Church does not proselytize or ‘force’ anyone to do anything against their consciences. What happened to you? Did someone try to intimidate you? Were you disrespected or humiliated?
A lot of people study but do not join the Church, and the Church does not stigmatize or criticize them. It is considered a very personal decision made at a deep level of conscience to decide to convert. No ‘one hour intense theology course’ is ‘forced’ on anyone. The Catholic way of conversion is a process that allows ample time and opportunity for consideration and either acceptance on the part of the person or rejection on the part of the person to convert. The person is respected and there is no stigma for having studied and decided not to come into the communion of the Church formally.
Conversion is not a ‘pressure’ situation, no. What happened to you, Okrapod?
Nothing at all happened to me. My statement was in response to your negative comment about the requirement to attend class in the 9Marks church. And I said, that RCC requires a lot more that. What is the gripe about one hour class on theology. See my comment at 7:45 for details. So I am saying why criticize some church for a one hour class when the RCC requires (yes requires) a lot more than that.
So let's take this one step further. Nobody forces people in the 9Marks classes to convert. They can refuse to go, stop going to church, choose something else, etc. I doubt that it is much different from the other systems I described as RCC, UMC and TEC. Let us not be led astray by vocabulary.
I would say that there is a HUGE difference between a one-hour cram course by a 9 Marks pastor and the one to three year process of studying the Catholic faith with the intention of possibly joining the Church. And I would say that the TIME FRAME is a mark of respect that allows a person ample time to consider, to ponder in their heart, to pray, to experience, to question (yes, it is allowed and even encouraged) ….
I do know one thing: no one in my Church will come at you with ‘if you don’t do and say and believe THIS, you will go to hell’.
The difference? As far as from the East to the West, yes. Why? Because God gives ‘choice’ to human persons and that must be respected.
“Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits.”
Jeffrey J . Chalmers wrote:
They act like they’re still the old school RCC/only game in town for sacraments, when in reality their ‘sheep’ can just hop over to the church down the road or no church. They’re trying to scare them into not doing that, but they can’t actually stop them. And they don’t control heaven, whatever they think.
I think before attending any church you need to ask yourself the question, “What do I expect to get from church attendance?” In other words, what’s in it for me? This may sound selfish, but objectives need to be established. I think once you have defined your objectives, selecting a church is much easier.
Yes. I did read that comment.
The ‘gripe’? I suppose I see some benefit in not rushing people or pressuring them without giving them ample time to THINK and to PRAY.
Being asked to take a year to prepare for communion is a very old tradition in the Church, as the earliest catachumens were allowed to attend the Service of the Word for a year, but were excluded from the Eucharist Service until they were baptized at Easter and admitted into full communion.
I like the idea of ample time to ponder things. But that is my nature, so we may disagree on this issue. Thanks for directing me to that earlier comment. It helped clarify what you wrote later, yes.
Christiane, I agree that that message is probably not currently used to force people to convert to Catholicism. However, there are Christians all around the world who sincerely believe that other Christians are going to Hell. I have personally been told, by Catholics and Protestants alike, that I am going to Hell. This happened one time on Ash Wednesday, when a work colleague saw ashes on my forehead. She assumed I was Catholic, and was enraged to discover that other people also have Ash Wednesday. She angrily told me that I was going to Hell, and that only Catholics will be in Heaven.
Her actions do not represent current RCC teachings. You are not responsible for her behavior. But please do recognize that this hateful treatment exists. And I think it makes God weep.
That is a strange report because of one thing: a Catholic leaves people to the mercy of God rather than ‘point the finger’ in the manner of the Pharisee.
That parable about God approving the Publican’s humble prayer for mercy in the temple while God is disapproving the behavior of the Pharisee ….. that parable is drilled into Catholics from childhood on up.
No Catholic in their right mind would act the role of the Pharisee thinking it was ‘all right’ to do it. No way.
There are plenty who call themselves ‘Catholics’ and ‘former Catholics’ who have never adhered to the faith whose oldest prayer is ‘Kyrie Eleison’
This last summer a good Roman Catholic friend of ours passed away. Her family held a Novena (I think that’s how it’s spelled) – prayers for the dead person’s soul which we attended as we are close to the family (we were invited). Upon finding out we aren’t Catholic, one of the attendees told us exactly this – you will go heck. Anyways all denominations have their intolerant side.
I think the take away message is that some of these membership classes go beyond a “here’s what we believe” and drift into something akin to a high pressure sell – especially after “love bombing” occurs. At my wife’s Pentecostal church, I suspect this the case – the covenant comes out after the 3 hour membership class…and after you’re already invested.
A couple of posts ago, Briarwood Church was discussed. Go to the website and it seems a very nice place. The red flag however was in the membership commitment where they had “chase-you-down” Sunday to ensure you kept up your membership commitment.
This has nothing to do with education or intelligence, you are drawn in bit by bit. Before you know it? You’re hooked!
I often wonder though, how it works with children raised in the church. At what age are they presented with the membership covenant. Is it really still a legal document if you’ve been raised to revere it like the word of God? Be interested to hear how that is managed and how people have escaped from it.
ISTM that it makes more sense for 9Marks to discourage doubters from joining in the first place because it will only be a headache for them to deal with later on. Better to filter the membership at the front end as much as possible. This is also a good argument for their practice of delaying baptism/membership until age 18 or so. They want to know what they are going to have to deal with. Nobody wants to deal with a difficult “client” if they can sniff that out ahead of time.
There’s a whiff of “no true Scotsman” in what you write. I will underscore: this has happened among Christians worldwide throughout eons.
there ARE renegade ‘Catholics’ 🙂
the worst experience I ever had with the ‘hell’ thing was when I shared about my niece going to Afghanistan for duty and I hoped she would be okay ….. a person named Joe B. (who sometimes portrayed himself as Joe Lackmonbay) offered to pray for her and wanted me to give him her email (which I did not, of course) …. he subsequently told me he hoped she would die over there and go to hell. Alan Cross erased Joe B’s comment of course, as Alan is a decent Christian person and realized that Joe had problems beyond the norm so to speak.
Funny thing: my niece is Methodist, not Catholic …. I guess Joe B. wasted his venom. No one deserves to be told they are ‘going to hell’ by a Catholic, a Protestant, or a Joe B.
Yet the practice seems to thrive among those who proselytize.
That may be mostly true now, but in the pre-Vatican II days of my childhood, youth and young adult years the catholic teaching that there is no salvation outside the catholic church was well known. Now who knows how far that has been nuanced now, but I read Dominus Iesus (“On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church”) and about as far as it goes is to make exceptions for some of the orthodox and to say something somewhat conciliatory concerning ecclesial communities (protestants). It tries to actually connect non-catholic churches and ecclesial communities to the Catholic church as much as possible when it comes to salvation. So it thus affirms that there is no salvation outside the church, but it attempts to broaden the definition of what sort of semi-affiliation with the catholic church there might be in order to include more people when possible. Sort of. Or so it seems.
IMO this is a step in the direction of what you are saying, but it is also a step away from what was said not all that long ago. And in the lifetime of some of us.
That was my thought. And I think Dever was presenting a variation of that in subtle ways with the "Don't be a 9 Marxist" breakout session at a conference. They knew they had a problem because the stories kept piling up. They just changed the strategy. I think it is presented in a sort of, "you will be in our exclusive club" fashion. The true believers. That is how the adult catholic converts I know came off. They are in the "true church" now. The length of time might just hook them more because of the investment. Everyone is different. The churches I grew up in anyone could join who basically said they believed and the entire congregation would vote yes -right then. We were either trusting or ignorant or both. :o)
That is how i grew up also. But, then we had the great disaster (in my opinion) followed by the conservative resurgence, and I think that could perhaps been averted had there been more attention in the first place to ‘you must be born again’ before voting somebody in based on walking the aisle and shaking the preacher’s hand (which is what I did).
I mean really; do you think that …(yes) and do you think…(yes) and do you want to …(yes) well there you go then. Nope. That is not good enough. I think we really did have too high a percentage of merely cultural christians and too low a percentage of the truly regenerate, regardless of the official rhetoric we all could spout.
And this is one reason why I favor open Communion. It’s easier to feel like other people are damned if you keep them away from the Lord’s Supper.
That IS the danger of soul competency.
Personally, if a church tells me I’m not worthy of communion, based on the fact that I didn’t jump through their particular hoops, I don’t have a very good feeling towards them either!
I remember my good father who would not go with my mother to the funerals of her Protestant friends and family. He would drive her there, and wait outside in the car while she attended. He felt he did not belong in those Churches.
Years later, when my mom passed away when my parents were living in a Catholic assisted-living facility, my father suffered greatly from grief and was counseled by a dear pastor named Keith who was a Methodist and had been hired by the Catholic facility as ‘chaplain’. My father was able to overcome his previous concerns, having seen Keith’s absolutely shining faith and compassion, and my father then was able to go to Mass at 10 am at the assisted living facility, and then attend Keith’s Protestant service at 11 am. I was so proud of Pop. He ‘got it’. What his reserved upbringing had kept him from, he was enabled to overcome with the help of a wonderful Methodist pastor and grief counselor.
I know about the ‘older’ people, yes. I have seen it myself. 🙂
I agree. And I also realize that people who say “you’re going to Hell” are not the best exemplars of any tradition this side of Westboro. The real question, as Okrapod suggests, is how well the different traditions teach acceptance of other Christians, and also of people who practice different faiths or none at all.
My youth pastor (Protestant) used to say that all people in the People’s Republic of China were going to Hell for not accepting Jesus. That always felt so unmerciful to me. I still wonder why God would send people to Hell after they spent their whole mortal lives in a repressive or totalitarian country that actively discredited and persecuted Christians. That’s a very large can of worms… but I lean toward mercy when it comes to eternity.
well, my dear LEA, even the people of my Church have no sense of being ‘worthy’ of communion at all …. one of our ancient liturgy prayers prior to communion is this:
‘Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof;
but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.’
I guess you are better off among those who feel they are ‘worthy’ ….. but it is not so among those who, in the breaking of the bread, recognize Christ.
Christiane, my mother was taught that it was a mortal sin to enter a Protestant church. This was a formal part of her Catholic Missal that was used in preparation for confession. I don’t know the age of your Dad, but that was the teaching pre- Vatican 2.
That is a tough crowd over there. It probably did not help that in that time (I used to punish myself) you were positioning yourself as the enlightened catholic and all of them as fundy Westboro Baptists. Sometimes both sides help with understanding. My recollection is that Joe B did not think Catholics knew the true Gospel. They don’t think I know it, either. So hell for me, too.
I’m glad for you …. a VERY ancient prayer of the Church is this:
“Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us”
Yes, it is. I am going to offer this link for those who do not understand the Baptist idea of soul competency. Sometimes I hear one or another person comment with what seems to be the thinking that in the Baptist tradition people are compelled to do things against their better judgment and even violate their conscience, and I think there is some confusion in this area.
But back to my statement. I believe it got carried too far in application and some of us just slipped through easily since we spoke Baptist with a native tongue and had a feel for the culture. Born Baptist can fool most of the people most of the time, I am thinking, and in retrospect I suspect there was way too much of that. I even wonder if some of the current attraction to neo-calvinism is not that some people are attracted to something more…I need a word for it…doctrinally substantive?
Joe B. was not a well person. I think you recognized that too. I prayed for him a lot that maybe he would get some help. I hope he did. God have mercy.
Oh wow. BAM! POW!
I guess that is not true for priests, though? They have a ritual where they, as special, can turn the wine into Christ’s blood. Evidently God sees them as worthy.
You are very Holy.
Well, they still have a problem. If the 9Marks way is the Biblical way, then there should not be a problem implementing the 9Marks system. 9Marks has a problem because it is prescribing poison, and cutting the dose is not the answer to the problem. Obviously Dever cannot say that because that is the only thing in his kit, but he has admitted it without actually admitting it.
One of these days, I will set aside enough ice cream to make it through that break out session. Or maybe Dave AA or
OK here’s a story precious to me. Decades ago, when one of my dear elders was very ill, he met a nun who was a patient in the same hospital. He and his wife developed a really nice friendship with her and another nun.
That part of the family was a combustible mix of Ulster Protestants, so this friendship was beyond incredible. I had the privilege of meeting these two nuns several times. They wore voluminous black habits. One time they gave us a private tour of their church. My little heart stopped when I saw them prostrate themselves.
…Dale will do the heavy lifting for me.
Hell is going to have all the nicest people.
My father was born in 1920 in the French Canadian town of St. Armand (Province of Quebec). He came to this country when he was five years old, speaking no English. The nuns taught him (French in the morning, English in the afternoon) ….. He did not ever say non-Catholics were ‘going to hell’, but his understanding was that they thought he as a Catholic would. He didn’t feel welcomed for that reason. I don’t know what the nuns taught him in those days, but my great aunt was a cloistered nun in Canada and my aunts told me she was very, very strict in her letters to them (Sr. St. Gabriel) ….
is possible to misunderstand when people are told the wrong things about each other’s beliefs …. my father was fortunate enough to see the Body of Christ as more inclusive than he had realized, and I am very grateful to Keith who helped him. My father passed away at the age of 88 and is dearly missed. I honor his memory.
Oh I think so too. Except I don’t agree with that view after seeing what I have seen. I will take free and messy and an individual salvation (with corporate fellowship) as opposed to the corporate group think we see today. Substantial doctrine has to be a personal quest in some respects….not all. But in the end, for all of us, there comes a time it’s just me and Jesus Christ. Not Al Mohler. Not a priest. Etc. that is where I think soul competency was meant to go. Knowing Him.
I want to go where they allow dogs. I don’t care what they call it ….. it must allow dogs to come in, or I don’t belong there. 🙂
Wait! We can change the meaning of the word like the New Cals do with so many christianeses words so they won’t know they are declaring us to paradise.
I did not listen to it. I Gleaned from the YRR raves on twitter and blogs. It was sad. I think the gurus could say all babies are evil….uh…..wait. They already do.
…and advertise the central heating. 😉
tell me about it 🙂
Sure. But I am not convinced that it gets to be individual salvation or ‘just me and Jesus Christ’ simply by walking the aisle, shaking the preacher’s hand, saying the sinners’s prayer, filling out the membership card, shaking hands with the congregation, getting voted in, believer’s baptism by immersion, giving your testimony, witnessing, tithing, church attendance, finding stuff quickly in the bible, giving little talks and giving up various activities deemed questionable. This is a lot of church stuff, but it may be only church stuff, and it may produce merely cultural christians.
I think there has to be a level of knowledge beyond J 3:16 and Acts 16:31. (Is that it in Acts? I am remembering but not looking it up.) And there needs to be true repentance and some source of spiritual formation to follow. Personally I got thoroughly ‘churched’ too much and spiritually formed too little. Specific example: they taught me how to ‘lead somebody to Christ’ but nobody taught me how to pray beyond the usual recitation of the same old stuff. But hey, I had no idea. I just memorized bible verses. What the heck.
Lol! You know though, I was reading something just the other day the person wrote in an email about their monster of a Father who never rejoices in your successes or wants you to do well or who is delighted when you show growth in wisdom. A Father who wants to keep you ignorant and as a punching bag for his own ego (glory). It was much more articulate but you get the drift. It sounded like a living hell.
You know. I could say a lot of things here. I don’t like to play your games, though.
Feel yourself more spiritual as you fence the table. One of the reasons I will never be catholic.
“Group Think” articulates the situation well in these over-institutionalized “churches” – and soul competency through actually taking responsibility to know Him is what is missing.
Perhaps the temptation to get spiritual quick (like get rich quick) is overwhelming and one thinks one becomes someone spiritually great by just joining the Group of the Dear Leader (covenant, attend, tithe – 3 easy steps to Christian awesomeness).
for every human person on this Earth, given a soul directly by God, and made in His image, regardless of whether he/she realizes it or not,
Jesus Christ is closer to them than their own souls and it is HE who holds them (and all of His Creation) in existence.
“God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. 28‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ ” (Acts 17)
Actually, my mother saw that as her job. Her mom was trained as a theologian so a lot of that sort of thing was a natural occurrence in my extended family. I am the proud owner of her commentary on Romans. Church was more about fellowship, missions activities, service to others, etc. I agree it could have been better. A lot of people send their kids to church to be spiritually educated or formed. I am not that thrilled with that position, either. Especially these days. Sheesh, my kids might have been Piper zombies by now. I had a lot of de programming to do after their very early years at some megas. Such as Jesus is not a “super hero”. Sigh. Still beating myself up. But they turned ok so far.
I think you nailed it.
I think of that stuff as a base kind of like doing your multiplication tables. You are supposed to build on it as you grow.
At least if you remember ‘Jesus Wept’ because you memorized it because it was the answer to the question ‘what is the shortest verse in the bible’ (or whatever) you might recognize ‘men can’t cry because it’s not christian’ is an error.
I have a son with Down Syndrome who is non-verbal. He can’t say ‘Amen’ when the priest says ‘Body of Christ’ to him and feeds him communion. But he still receives.
Maybe it’s not a matter of ‘saying Amen’ that keeps people ‘from the table’ ….. maybe it’s just that when they think about what ‘Body of Christ’ means at the Catholic altar, they cannot in good conscience, say ‘Amen’
Is it a ‘conscious’ knowing that keeps people ‘away’?
Or is it that instead of saying ‘Amen’ when presented with the Eucharist, they have been able to understand what is being asked of them and yet cannot say ‘Amen’ truthfully ????
You would have been a good Baptist. Now you take that soul, explain to him how he can relate personally and at a conscious level with God and what that means regarding his current and eternal life, show him where that is in the bible, confront him with the option to choose to or choose not to follow Christ, and if he chooses to follow Christ you have ‘led him to Christ.’
Of course, it the Spirit which leads people to Christ, and Paul would have said the law also I suppose, but for want of better terminology this is what the Baptists mean by that vocabulary.
In my own case, I didn’t know that simply wanting to go to church to worship with other Christians on Sundays was fraught with danger. I didn’t know that researching a church to go to would require the same amount of time, or perhaps more, than buying a car.
I learned the hard way after being excommunicated and shunned from a 9 Marxist/John MacArthur-ite church on some trumped up charge, like the godly doctor before me in his 70’s and the godly woman in finance before him. Anyone who asked questions of the pastors/elders was publicly humiliated and lied about before hundreds of church members. It was Salem Witch Trials II.
Maybe so, but I won a contest by memorizing the Gospel According to Luke, but I had to learn to pray (as well as a few other things) elsewhere. I just found the SBC methodology to be lacking in some areas.
Great point. That is akin to what we were taught about bible drill as kids. That familiarizing ourselves with it in that way would help keep it from it being so overwhelming. It really helped my kids, too. It was more about knowing your way around it than memorizing proof texts as many do today. When we left the Disney megas, the old fashioned SBC church children’s “minister’ (and a “she”) where we went gave the kids a “special” bible and with special book tabs and spent time with every new kid helping them prepare their bible for study and reading. I could not get over how much that worked. The Bible’s are falling apart now. :o)
the ‘kneeling theology’, yes
different faith communities pray differently ….. I wondered how 9 Marks might incorporate ‘the Benedict Option’ when they have no tradition of Catholic contemplation OR ways of praying ….. it didn’t make sense
where did you learn to pray in a way that was more meaningful to you, OKRAPOD?
Yes. It is fraught with danger. After the takeover of my last church, I am a done. I am not interested in any closed systems or even elder led even though they can be fine if elected by the whole church and rotate often. I am done with methodology, I guess. I will visit. And am in many churches for concerts and recitals so I get a feel for what they are like such as the Epicopal church last Sunday with big poster promoting an ‘Evening with Al Mohler’. Uh, no thanks.
I very much agree. I am sure that many of us would like to have something we can download and pass on to others, either through email or hardcopy. Yours is the best overview of 9Marks I have yet seen.
Have you heard of any class action lawsuits against 9Marks?
If they really believed this stuff they would find a way to actually endorse churches that embrace their 9 Marks. Why don’t they? One possibility is they are too lazy to investigate their list of churches. Or they are worried about the legal consequences of endorsing such a church. I’m guessing it’s because they are afraid of legal entanglements. It would be bold for them to endorse their churches, but I don’t think that have the required guts and integrity. We should all take their advice and avoid churches on their list. The Gospel Coalition disclaimer is much more reasonable (but I would avoid those churches as well).
gosh and I thought you would appreciate the biblical references from the gospels (St. Matthew 8:8) and from (St. Luke 24:35)
“8But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
“Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when He broke the bread.”
game playing? no …. just phrasing something in terms that people from your faith tradition might appreciate as recognizably ‘biblical’ in reference
You can’t possibly know what all Catholics would or would not do. I think we have discussed this before.
Oh, my. Lots of places. I don’t know what you mean by ‘kneeling theology’ but I will start with kneeling.
This will have to be a two part comment.
From the fundamentalist FWB I first knelt with an entire congregation to pray. They used to do in informally at Wed. night prayer meeting. Added to this I learned about kneeling at the altar (altar in name only, this is Baptist you know) and kneeling with one or two other people in a home or such. Then I learned about lying prostrate or pacing or whatever. In other words, I learned the value of bodily position as an adjunct in praying.
From the FWB I learned about ‘praying through’ which simply means that you predetermine in your own mind that you are going to ‘lay hold of God’ and ‘approach the throne of Grace’ until you perceive in your spirit that enough has been said and you ‘have peace about it’ which refers to peace about the idea that enough has been said and you ‘leave it in God’s hands’. This addresses the value of persistence, and determination and faith that God hears and acts-one way or the other-to prayer.
From the pentecostals I learned that emotion can be a part of prayer without losing the prime directive (prayer) in some sort of emotional excess. For example, crying.
From the NT I learned about fasting with prayer and from the catholics I learned that fasting does not have to mean starvation. And from the OT I noted that God not just endured but seems to have encouraged something a lot like haggling. Haggling I have found is useful for moving me from position A toward position B, the latter being closer to the revealed will of God concerning something.
From the catholics I learned about the use of imagery and repetition, which I ‘knew’ as a good Baptist were idolatrous and potentially disastrous, but which I found helpful anyhow.
From the catholics i learned about liturgical prayer in a call and response format, which can be done individually I have found.
And the episcopalians thrust a Book of Common Prayer in my hands and convinced me that you do not go to hell if you actually read a prayer. Not everything has to be spontaneous.
And with a church of christ pastor I crossed a boundary and prayed out loud in a non-religious public place because the situation demanded it. Regardless of who was watching or listening.
That is about it.
I’m with you, Christiane. I believe Laura Ingalls Wilder’s father Pa Ingalls referred to this place as the “Happy Hunting Grounds” where their faithful dog Jack went.
At Mohler’s seminary two weeks ago, Ex-Catholic Rod Dreher was pushing recitation of the Eastern Orthodox ‘Jesus Prayer’ using a cord with beads, said it was “one Devotion that can bring all Christians together”:
He told the Baptist seminarians:
“This an Orthodox Christian’s, its called a Prayer Rope, [he shows the one he is wearing] it’s an ancient Discipline where on each bead you just say ‘Lord-Jesus-Christ-Son-of-the-Living-God-have-mercy-on-me-a-sinner.'”
“The Jesus Prayer, I think that’s something any evangelical Christian could do. It’s not like the Catholic Rosary, the Hail Mary. The Jesus Prayer is focused on Jesus, and it goes back to the Desert Fathers of the Early Church. So look it up online, these Prayer Ropes are knotted by monks, they’re called chotki, C-H-O-T-K-I, you can find them online, it’s just a great discipline. [takes off and fiddles with the one he’s wearing] I find when I’m driving down the road, I don’t want to hear the radio, I’ll just very quietly just say my Prayer Rope, ‘Lord-Jesus-Christ-have-mercy-on-me’ sometimes a shortened form, and it’s a way to get into a really meditative state of mind.”
How about Romans 3 – “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: ……….. For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.”
But, worthy is the Lamb.
Oh please tell me it is not so. SBTS and prayer ropes? What is the big deal. Just get the beads. There is more than one type of beads, not just the catholics but also the episcopalians have beads (not identical) and there are various devotions and prayers to do with beads. I personally like the chaplet of the divine mercy, but any of it would be okay and you don’t have to bring Mary in the picture-just use a different devotion.
But please tell me that this man is not trying to self induce a light hypnotic state while driving down the road. And doing it in the name of Jesus? Somebody warn this man about that.
Do you have a link? Is this a video? Please tell me it is a video. :o)
Horses, ponies and mules, too. You might have to meet my daughter’s Bellestarr and my niece’s Sparky to understand.
…… And just maybe Strawberry, the red mule I had many years ago, will be waiting for me there ——- and my Shetland pony, Peek-a-boo, and my strawberry roan, Dusty Cloud.
Sheesh! Those animals deserve a home in Heaven more than a lot of people I know!
You can buy yoga beads for meditation, too.
Well, my “faith tradition” (whatever that is) believes Jesus saw the centurion as “worthy”. He even calls us friends. Imagine that. :o)
That is called proof texting. I told you that you would have been a good Baptist.
We had a mom with a teenage daughter come to our church from a local 9Marks establishment. She was fleeing a bad marriage and was receiving all manner of threats from her old church leadership and former friends.
We formed a small group to emotionally and prayerfully support her. After a few weeks she was invited to join with others to serve communion, something she never have been eligible for in a 9Marks church. She is now a member of our church and the example of her “escape” from her abusive former church is a bridge out for others.
@ Loren R Haas:
Very good news. And thank you for being that sort of church.
Are you sure about that, Christiane?
Definition: A pronouncement of judgment. After a dogma is decreed by a Council of the Catholic Church, an anathema is declared against those who hold to opposing teachings. Unless such persons repent, they are destined for eternal damnation. Those who hold to the Protestant teaching of justification by faith alone and the assurance of salvation are anathematized. Anathemas are also in place for those who deny the infallibility of the Pope, transubstantiation, penance, baptismal regeneration, indulgences, purgatory, and the veneration of relics.
Discussion: The Catholic Church, under the guise of holding “the power of the keys,” usurps the authority that is reserved only for God – to condemn someone to hell. Catholicism also usurps the authority of the Bible by designing doctrines that are not scriptural. Historically, the Catholic Church has persecuted and martyred those holding contrary beliefs.
The above comes directly from Dale’s website.
@ Loren R Haas:
I am so heartened by this! We would love to tell her story someday. We would be glad to conceal her identity. Please let this sister in Christ know that I am praying for her.
@ Lydia: DITTO!
I am so sorry that “the church” and seeking God’s presence turned out painful and deadly for you. Remarkably, you are able to share succinctly what is going on in these “churches”. I have learned from your thoughtful sharing.
(I think of the get-spiritual-quick crowd as those who want to sign up, show up, and tithe, with delusion – NOT those who are true seekers.) Hopefully, TWW can inform and deprogram and dissuade sincere seekers.
TWW has certainly helped me, particularly with testimonies and explanations like those of yourself, Dale, etc. Much appreciation for your clarity and honesty.
Prayer rope with mantra in hypnotic state while walking a labyrinthe in the church gardens…
Let me know if you can see this on SBTS’s Youtube, there is an icon of a lock with popup text that says “This video is unlisted. Only those with the link can see it.”
7:00 video starts
25:30-28:00 introduces prayer rope, asceticism, etc
52:33 statement about Milo Y., followed by Eucharistic Adoration, candles, etc.
55:25-56:35 prayer rope again
I agree. And so did Twain.
@ Muff Potter:
don’t worry for the animals:
God holds the life of every creature in His Hands and ALL of His Creation awakes its redemption 🙂
All shall be well.
technically the original response is a part of Christian liturgy which likely predates the formation of the canon of the Bible ….. it would be related to the prayer: ‘Domine, non sum dignus…..’
As for the second concept:
there is no recognition in a lot of Christian faith communities of the ‘Presence’, as the taking of the Lord’s Supper is a solemn memorial;
but lately, especially among evangelical people, some ideas are bubbling up about the relationship of certain Scriptures to the Eucharist, and although there is not ‘acceptance’, at least there is coming to be an awareness that was not there before
I’m sorry if I sounded rude. And reading that comment over again, it does sound rude. So any good that I wanted to convey went out the window with my ‘tone’. My bad. (sigh)
(that’s Denny Burk coming into the picture at the end of the video)
I can understand Evangelicals praying: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on us” because it IS biblical and it is based on the prayer of the Publican in the temple that Scriptures tell us WAS pleasing to God.
And, my goodness, look at how evangelicals have used the ‘fish’ icon on their cars all these years which is a ‘symbol’ for the short form of that ancient prayer, where when the letters of the form were placed as an acronym, the word ‘fish’ is formed. 🙂
Yes. It certainly is a prayer very meaningful already to evangelical people. I don’t know if ‘repetition’ will work for them, as it is not in their tradition, but asking for God’s mercy in OUR world is something very much needed …. for ourselves and for the whole world, yes
As for the short forms, yes indeed. “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on us” has many forms. In my Church, even speaking the Name of Jesus by itself will bring a nod of our head in reverence.
Even His Name alone is a prayer. 🙂
And for many Christian people, it will be the last prayer on their tongues at the end of life.
Greatly appreciate this site, and how blessed I am not to be in a church that causes heart-break instead of the knowledge of Christ as Redeemer ( my favourite prayer beginning is Loving Redeemer ). What I read here saddens and hurts me, and brings back some bad memories. I'm not sure I like the comments about Catholic belief. I believe anyone who seriously believes and repents is known to Christ, as He sees the inner soul regardless of the form worship takes. Honestly, I may be biased as my son is marrying a lovely Catholic girl, and my son must attend classes concerning her faith, or her family won't sanction the marriage. So, I pray for them both, encourage discussion, and trust God is able to lead them forward in His timing. This is not a time to box God's greatness, or lose faith, but to go forward in love and hope……..
Good morning, DALE
On a more recent Catholic/Lutheran note, you might be interested to see this also (I have written several comments following Denny’s post):
Thanks for that. Yeah, it says I need to sign in. Hmmm.
Christiane, I looked through the comments at Burk’s site. I found one that resonates with me concerning the motive behind the pope’s comments concerning Luther:
“My explanation: Pope’s been taking notes from Trump. ‘Just say what they want to hear. You don’t have to be remotely credible as a spokesman. They’ll love you!'” – Dan Phillips
Yes Amen. You got that right. There is so much deception afoot in the facades of ecumenism. Anything that starts out ‘we are not really that far apart’ is either ignorance or deceitfulness.
On a different but similar point, one of my favorite evangelical apologists, Craig, has taken an approach that I find so correct. He was addressing the question of whether the god of islam and the god of christianity are the same god. He said that is the wrong question. What we should ask is whether what islam ays about God is true and whether what christianity says about God is true. Yes, we should always ask of everything Is It True?
This is what I think we need to do with ecumenism. The issue is not-repeat not-some cobbled up pretense of pseudo unity in which the distance is measured by a sliding scale and people exult in how close or far apart we are. The issue has to be, as the fellow said, veracity.
IMO, the push for unity at all costs, even at the expense of truth, is surely political. How to rule the world quick before somebody else does. Using the gethsemane prayer cannot be the only motivation because Jesus never forsook truth in the pursuit of anything, not even to save his own life. One may not do evil (lies and deceit) that ‘good’ may come of it at least in part because what comes of it will not be ‘good’.
Whew! I feel better now.
Preach it, sister! ECT was nothing but a conservative political polemic disguised as a theological agreement.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
You left out the citation. That’s Mark 9:51. It follows Mark 9:50:
“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
/third cup of coffee
The link is to a YouTube video that I was able to access.
Thank you for sharing. This shall be my fav, too.
We get off on various theology as a compare and contrast and you’re probably picking up on some other stuff that’s not really about theology. Nobody hates Catholics or anything.
I suspect Dan’s comment aligns more with your mentor John MacArthur than with Francis. Francis is seen as a problem by many in the Church who want to keep the status quo. And now he is seen as a problem among those who oppose the Church also?
I think he is a breath of fresh air, myself. But he says he won’t live very long, and he only has the one lung, so maybe his time will end before you know it and he will no longer be someone who is seen as ‘a problem’.
I don’t know about you, but with local traffic conditions you DON’T want to “get into a really meditative state of mind” while driving around my area.
And a lot of churches badly NEED respect for learning.
Too many “Holy Nincompoops” out there.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Let me understand what you all are saying. It actually sounds like you are all are saying that anybody who does not agree with the catholic church, or perhaps does not agree with all of each other about everything are people who have no ‘respect for learning’. Really? Is that something like if you had the brains of the family chipmunk you would see that I am right? Or maybe, if you had ‘respect for learning’ then you would understand what I am saying but as it it is you are hopelessly benighted and perhaps uneducable?
This sort of thing does not smooth any waters.
That “family” was comprised mostly of men. Very, very few women were welcomed at the colloquium. bTW, what is the pope’s defn of the word “complementary”?
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Roger that HUG. You (generic you) need all of your wits about you in order to safely navigate Southern Calif. freeways and surface streets.
The last thing you want is a meditative state of mind while thus engaged.
Muff Potter wrote:
In rural Kentucky, white tailed deer, Mennonites, large farm tractors, hills, and curves have absolutely no respect for driver’s in a “meditative state”! For that matter, neither do the po-po and insurance companies when things don’t turn out so well.
A lot of adoration of man.
I don’t get the constant promotion and defending of a closed church system and its official (at the moment) doctrine and its big cheese guru.
I don’t see any difference in what you do and what the New Cals do except you all think each other wrong using the same foundational strategies! Except you put syrup on it.
Both are about selling closed systems and gurus.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
You mean what the Popes have said you are to learn, believe and think.
You are free to do what you want but I find it strange you don’t see the hypocrisy in many of your assertions.
You mean like the “collegiality” the big cheeses in Catholicism showed for Dr. Richard Sipes’ reapserch and learning?
The rainbows and unicorns talk does not match practice.
The pope has talked about ” broadening opportunities” for women in the church and in society. So far, all talk: no action.
I’m happy with my current “faith tradition” who apparently doesn’t ‘recognize Christ’ but does recognize that women are people, and prevents them from nothing in church or ministry.
Hee, the Neo Cals are doing the same promoting female writers on TGC blog, etc.. Even Aimee Byrd promotes it but with serious limitations. No official title. But they still know their place.
And that is the point. Most agree with that. It’s another thing altogether when one checks their brains at the door and constantly promotes a corrupt and closed system as all good and even better. I hope that attitude does not eventually infect your family. I have seen it tear families apart once the marriage produces children. I hope your grandkids can visit a non Catholic Church for family events.
My former church would have married them as confessing believers. No doctrinal classes needed.
It IS about going forward in hope and love. It IS about Christ. Not the closed systems. That is the whole point.
If you dont think it Christian to disagree with certain doctrines or systems then that is another topic. :o)
Great distillation, thanks.
One comment not approved. It is Bill Rogers once again trying to stir the pot.
Ain’t no son of mine…
Maybe in a couple weeks when Internet works again. Have to take dogs on prayer walk on their prayer leashes to get minimal signal…. See today’s post…
Apparently these days, this is being re-examined. You know, words like ‘justification’ and ‘sanctification’ cannot exclude the God that provides these blessings, and we are told that God is love.
If we are invited into the life of the Holy Trinity through the Person of Jesus Christ,
then we are invited into a communion of love.
I thought that the absence of love in 9 Marks was critical. I thought you shared that opinion.
Martin Luther is being re-examined by the Church. And I think in time will come to be called a ‘Doctor of the Church’. But your premise about his exclusion of ‘love’ from the equation goes awry, when you consider that our salvation itself is the result of God’s great love for His Creation in its distress.
If our salvation is not ‘of God’s love’, then where does it come from???
The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Reformation Wars in 1648.
It is now 2017.
But there’s always someone who doesn’t get the word.
Nice passive-aggressive zing there.
Let’s just say it was a relief to get out of the Born Again Bible Believing prison and actually get a chance to use my brain for something other than duckspeaking goodthink. Like going over the Berlin Wall.
Mormon SF writer Orson Scott Card said once that the “image of God” has to be the ability to create — “We’re meant to be Creators”. And you see very little of that in the rarified air of the Fundagelical Bubble.
Also a plus to have a solid historical trace other than last week’s guru.
Muff Potter wrote:
I grew up driving Los Angeles traffic. My East Coast contacts are amazed at how I don’t panic while driving, say, the “Sure Kill Expressway” north from Philadelphia.
But no way am I going to drive Las Vegas traffic again.
Last fall (when all this came together for me), I did obtain a domain name with the idea of creating a blog. I got sheepbusters.com. After tax season I plan on working to get this up and running. I also have a friend who is an excellent writer. He is more than willing to assist me in writing an ebook or some such.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
I thought it was direct. I don’t do brain gaming. I think the flowery feigned compassion zing is passive-aggressive but evidently I am wrong. Yet again. :o)
Learning and education have been discussed here before in this manner. I find it unkind.
THIS is what I wrote.
*auricular* (I hate spell check).
Can’t reply to all the comments on my post, but if you read between the lines, on the topic of my son entering the Catholic Church by marriage, I’m hurting for him and trying to find a way thru with Gods guidance.
I really want them to be where my other son and fiancée are; marrying into a healthy vibrant church with good support and equality of gender and service where we are a very large extended Christian family of believers spread over quite a few churches and friendship groups.
Freedom of worship, movement, church sharing and support are the best we have ever enjoyed.
Think my heart just broke expressing this, oh my.
Faith is a healer, Jesus loves all of us, and now I’ll be praying, with supportive friends for my beautiful sons.
Thanks to the Deebs for this forum. I have been an avid reader for a year or so, and recognise many posters from other blogs. I am using a different name here, as I don’t share, or comment all the time.
So much valuable information and warnings to heed.
The general tone of contributors genre is very kind and open, may it stay that way!
Thankyou for the welcome, maybe I can contribute more clearly when the emotions settle!
Hmm. I found RCIA to be informative and just exactly what I and others in the class needed to hear. We were all protestants and did not need to again hear the rudiments of the faith, ‘milk’ as Paul called it. We needed for the catholic church to tell us what we did not know about catholicism, and that is exactly what they did. So, my take on RCIA is different from yours.
One thing I am thinking that you may not understand. You seem to be urging me to flee from the Roman Catholic Church. I am not a Roman Catholic and never have been. You may have heard me say that I am an anglo-catholic episcopalian. That is too varied and too extensive and complicated to explain, but Anglicans and Romans are widely separated on a lot of stuff, which is why we are we and they are they. The easiest differences to understand are that we believe prima scriptura while valuing historicity and traditional doctrines but not placing them at a level with scripture. We acknowledge a shared history in christianity up to the eleventh century but not since. We acknowledge apostolic succession as indeed succession whoever and in whatever christian traditions succession can be traced but we do not think that makes popes or patriarchs or whomever be they west or east necessarily right or correct in their pronouncements. That is so vastly different from Rome that there is no common ground at that place at all. Rome does not seem to understand, or else will not accept, or prefers to downplay that there is all that much difference, Periodically Rome reaches out to Anglicans and makes some gesture of recruitment, and periodically Anglicans do convert to Rome, but make no mistake it is a conversion and not just a re-designation of category. And periodically the offer comes out from Rome in one form or another that if we are unhappy with women priests and/or gay marriage or whatever they will be glad to have us convert and they will make some allowance for some of our liturgy even. Some do convert to Rome, but most do not.
Marcus Grodi used to say a lot on his program about why some protestants do not convert to catholicism. Marcus had been a Lutheran pastor and converted. IIRC he thought the main issue was Mary, but for some Mary and the Pope. I never heard him say, but I believe the issue is authority. If one accepts the Roman teachings on authority, then one accepts whatever the magisterium declares one must believe merely because the magisterium has said it, regardless of what else may be involved. And one can always use that Roman ‘excuse’? that one just ‘does not understand’ and just keep on going. ‘I do not understand’ means that the person accepts the authority behind the statements which one ‘does not understand’ and that apparently is sufficient. It is about authority, as in I don’t understand it but I accept it. I don’t. I am not a Roman nor apt to become one. But thank you for your concern that I not be entrapped by a system which you feel trapped you.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
It wasn’t one treaty but many and it ended not so much in peace as a recognition of self determination for those involved. History aside there seems to be a lot of history between the antagonists for lack of a better term.
I have found a very diverse group of people on this blog, Baptist, agnostic, atheist, Presbyterian, Easter Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Episcopalian, Lutheran to name just a few. Represented in the comments here are refugees from many institutional manifestations of the Church, ones they may once have believed to be the loftiest. Many, like myself, have now found sanctuary in other expressions of the Church, some are “done” with institutional church, some are agnostic, some are atheist.
In much the same way as when someone makes a partisan statement that invites pushback, when someone makes booster statements for their brand it also invites contradiction. I’ve seen this played out in comments across the board toward just about every variant, it seems to be ruled out of bounds when it is Catholic, so it appears to be a special case.
One of the critical aspects of any peace treaty is addressing the issue of provocation. One thing that helps to lower the distrust is not squelching critique but demonstrating some healthy self-critique of our own brand. If others respond by only piling-on then that would be their problem.
@ Bill M:
very thoughtful comment, BILL M
Dale, were you born into the Catholic faith; or did you actually take the RCIA route and join the Church ‘for a season’ before leaving it ?
You sound familiar with the RCIA ….. but I think it must be experienced before speaking knowledgeably about it as it is a ‘process’ which allows for much examination and contemplation …. no one wants people to be proselytized when that is unethical and dishonest, no
I salute Okrapod for going to the source to find out about the Catholic faith. There is no ‘stigma’ is deciding not to enter the Church formally.
I think of people like Okrapod as ‘Franciscan’ souls, following the old advice
‘it is better to understand than to be understood’, as she was not afraid to try to understand
where that effort to understand one another takes us is always ‘forward, in a good direction’, I think, especially within the Body of Christ
Fantastic!!! I’ll be praying for you.
We are so glad you are here!
I always like to hear your description of this topic! I agree with you, I don’t think Mary is a factor for most people, the Pope is but more indirectly as a representation of central authority.
To me Jesus talked about this whole 9 Marks issue in Revelation 2:1-7. And Jesus talked to both extremes when it comes to discipline.
On one end we have 9 Marks, which say that absolutely everything can and should be disciplined as per the personal theological believes of the leaders (not God). And discipline should happen under any situation with no limitation to those in authority.
So even owning a DVD with a bikini scene in it would be ground for discipline and excommunication. And it is now going so far that even when an abused wife wants to divorce her flat out cheating and abusive husband, she instead gets disciplined and excommunicated just because the pastor (not God) personally believes that even these aren’t ground for divorce.
On the other hand we have those that are too hesitant to discipline. That even when the sinning Christian is very proud of their sins, and that other Christians are literally being hurt by them, that the church is still too scared to discipline.
So even if a pedophile is sitting right inside your church’s nursery room having a good time with himself, your church won’t kick him out. And even if a man is literally sleeping with his father’s wife, and he is so proud of it and telling every other Christians to do the same, you won’t kick him out.
Neither is correct. Instead here is what Jesus said in Revelation 2:1-7.
It is good to have some discipline in your churches. That it is good when Christians cannot tolerate “wicked people”. It is good when Christians test the teachers to make sure they are teaching the truth. In fact it is a good thing to seek purity in a church.
However examine your hearts and your methods very very carefully! Do not lose that First Love: Your love for God and your love for your neighbours. Love comes before judgement, just as God loves all mankind first before he judges unrepentant sinners. The whole reason to discipline someone MUST be because you love that person. Do not pretend to love when you know you aren’t loving! Do you think God cannot see your heart?
If you continue to discipline and seek purity in your churches without that First Love for your neighbours, Jesus himself will come to destroy your churches! This is that serious! You cannot possibly love God but yet hate your neighbours. You must love both or you love neither! (1 John 4:18-21). A so-called “sinless” church without love is worthless in God’s eyes.
Do now despise the little ones, those that are weak in their faith and is living in sin. For God is happier about finding that one lost sheep than those other 99 that didn’t wonder off. (Matthew 18: 10-14) Hence be patient and gentle with them, as much as possible, just as God was patient and gentle toward you when you yourself was lost.
If you do not have mercy toward your neighbours and brothers, then clearly you do not remember the mercy that God has given you. And since your clearly do not appreciate God’s mercy, do not come expecting God to be merciful toward you. (Matthew 18:21-35)
If your brother sins, first learn from that sin and make sure you are spiritually mature enough to not sin the same way. Purify yourself first. (Matthew 7:1-5)
If you find yourself weak spiritually and might sin the same way, do not approach that brother any more. Else instead of helping him you yourself will be led astray. Instead first grow yourself to be spiritually strong. But remember this is not due to judgement on him, but your own weakness. If you are weak, you have no choice but to “expel” that wicked person away from yourself. And if your whole church is weak spiritually, your whole church have no choice but to “expel” that wicked person away from your church. (1 Corinthian 5:1-13) But the above was done out of necessity for a spiritually weak. Not because it was the will of God. God’s will is for you and your church to be spiritually strong, so you can bring even the MOST WICKED person to repentance.
If you are spiritually strong, talk to him one on one patiently for a very long time. Only when it is hopeless, get a few more brothers involved and talk to him patiently for a very long time. And if even that is hopeless, get the whole church involved and talk to him patiently for a very long time. And if even that is hopeless, love him EVEN MORE by going to his house and eat with him. Love him in hope that he will be filled with the Holy Spirit and repent. Then you have saved his soul and gained a brother! And the whole heaven will rejoice. (Matthew 18:15-20)
If at all possible this is God’s will, that no wicked should perish but repent and be saved. (2 Peter 3:9)
So love the wicked, but at the same time you must protect your flock. Teach your flock the solid truth so they won’t be led astray. Separate man made traditions and laws from God’s laws. Only the clear laws of God can be grounds for discipline, not any man made traditions and laws. (Matthew 15:1-20) And the clear laws of God are plenty enough. If you become a hypocrite this way, worry about for your own faith before disciplining that sinner!
And if the wick person is literally harming your church, defend yourselves and remove that wicked person from the church. But even then, your love for that wicked person must not fail! Go love him and eat with him in hope that he will repent. Always remember that First Love for God and your neighbours.
If a Christian is immature, avoid the world because there is no other choice. But if a Christian is mature, go right into the wicked world to bring the world to Christ. For in the same way Jesus went to be with the worst of sinners. (Matthew 9:9-12) And great will be his treasures in heaven, for anyone who is mature in faith and bring the wicked world to Christ!
And if any wicked person committed serious crimes, send that person to the law authorities. A church must not be a safe haven for serious criminals! (1 Peter 4:12-19) (Romans 13:1-6) But even then, do not let your love fail. This is very important. Visit him in prison and maybe he will repent.
And do not spy on your brother just to look for an opportunity to hand him over to the law authorities! Where is the love in that? We must not act like Judas, who out of his own personal interests submitted to the authorities without any love for God and neighbors.
Instead only sent that wicked person to the law authorities if the crime is very serious and is harming your brothers or neighbours. Both the bible and the law must agree on the seriousness of this crime. As for other minor crimes, sometimes love requires us to let them go. Let the love and mercy of God guide you in all things. Remember that God sees your heart on the inside, not just your outside appearance. No one can fool God. If you fear God you will obey his command to love. And God will love you always. Do not play games with God.
There are also cases where we must use “unclear” laws. For example abortion. Most churches will agree that for a healthy pregnancy an abortion should be an absolute last resort. Because a baby is already known to God before the baby was even formed. (Jeremiah 1:5) However abortion itself isn’t an item clearly defined in the bible.
There are many such grey areas, so once again the church need to use love as their guide. The church must be even more careful when disciplining based on “unclear” laws, to ensure they didn’t make a mistake and their love didn’t disappear. That nothing is done for selfish or idolatry reasons, but only out of love for God and neighbours.
Furthermore for “unclear” laws the church must consider the seriousness of the sin in question. Who is getting hurt? Is someone’s life or well being at stake? Who is being sinned against (identify the true victim)? Is this a sin lead to another sin situation? There are situations where the “unclear” law has so few evidence and with very strong push backs, that the church leadership should instead back down and repent. In other situations the “sin” is harmless enough that discipline isn’t required, but only a warning or even friendly suggestion is needed.
In your discipline, ensure that your love will not fail. Else the “unclear” sins of that brother would end up causing you to sin, when you lost that First Love. (Ephesians 4:26-27)