9 Marks and The Gospel Coalition Apparently Continue to Ignore the Abuse in Their Midst

“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and to provide for it.” ― Patrick Henry link

This post provides a perfect link link between The Little Blog That Roared.* The Controversy at First Baptist Church, Sapulpa, OK which illustrates the defective nature of 9 Marks style discipline and the anticipated Friday post which will be about another church which implemented the 9 Marks discipline playbook.

The saddest aspect of these incidents is that 9 Marks and Mark Dever refuse to open themselves to an in-depth case study on what is going wrong. They suggest that these churches are not doing discipline correctly but they can do nothing about it. However, they welcome anyone to be a *9 Marks church* on their website. I contend their organization holds some moral responsibility if it allows such churches to post their names on their website.

Our good friend, Todd Wilhelm, has offered to release his expectation of privacy to allow his case to be discussed in an open and thoughtful manner. 9 Marks outright refuses to do so. 

TWW has posted a permanent page of abusive church discipline cases. 9 Marks must accept that something is not right if their BFFs like Matt Chandler act in outrageous ways to apply 9 Marks style church discipline.

Since they refuse to throw open the shutters to the internal workings of their organizations, it is left to us outsiders to assess the abusive aspects of 9 Marks style church discipline. They have little grounds on which to protest since they have refused the offer of Todd Wilhelm. In fact, there are more and more people who are willing to have their unjust discipline discussed in the public arena. It is odd that the leaderships of churches uniformly refuse to do so.

Authority driven pastors do not see themselves as possibly contributing to the problem.

Recently, the 9 Marks website posted Nine Lessons for Pastors Facing Leadership Conflict. I could not wait to see if they presented the possibility of the pastor contributing to the problem.

Two years into our church plant, we faced our first major crisis. Two elders left the church, but not before raising some serious accusations against me as the pastor. Suddenly, our young church had entered into the murky, dark, choppy waters of leadership conflict. As you might expect, the resignation of these two elders led to a series of very difficult members’ meetings.

The wolves caused it…yawn…

I searched and searched for some mention of the issues raised at the membership meeting. Alas, those issues are not revealed and defined. Instead, the problems were foisted upon the real or imaginary wolves.™

And every church experiences it. Jesus spoke of false prophets who would come in among the disciples (Matt. 7:15–20). Likewise, Paul warned the Ephesian elders that wolves would arise from among them and would not spare the flock (Acts 20:29–30). Confronting such threats necessarily involves conflict.

Is it true? Who knows? 9 Marks ain't talking. I have been watching the TV series on The Tudors which looks at the life of Henry VIII and his wives. Of course, in Henry's eyes, his wives were the problems and getting rid of them was a full time occupation for his advisors. Rarely, if ever, did King Henry ever consider that he was the problem.  

Here is what this 9 Marks pastor believes he should do during a leadership conflict.

Do you see anything missing in this list? 

  1. Preach God’s Word faithfully.
  2. Pray fervently. Satan is at work in every instance of church conflict. He intends for the conflict to divide the church. He intends for church members to be wounded and disillusioned.
  3. Love your people. In conflict, subtle insinuations, vague accusations, and even overt lies combine to present church members with a carnival mirror’s reflection of their pastor. It’s our responsibility to love our people so well that they truly know us. 
  4. Meditate on Matthew 5 and Romans 12. These include verses such as “love your enemies” and “never avenge yourselves.”
  5. Remember: you are a bad person. Often in leadership conflict, the opposition makes vague allegations against a pastor. Lacking a smoking gun like adultery or embezzlement, they focus on issues like pride, impatience, or anger, arguing the pastor is unfit for ministry. But the gospel frees us to turn the other cheek 
  6. Embrace suffering. God has called us to suffering. Part of our job as under-shepherds is to be bitten by wolves so that the sheep aren’t. 
  7. Don’t throw away the playbook. God has given us church discipline to guide us through the murky waters of conflict in the church. It’s especially important for the church to follow church discipline when the conflict involves an elder.
  8. Be quick to grant forgiveness. Even if our opponents never acknowledge their wrongs and even if they refuse to repent or reconcile, we can still forgive.
  9. Be thankful. Even the disorienting, depressing, and dark seasons of ministry are mercy. The light and momentary afflictions are producing in us “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” 

Some of this sounds good, like turning the other cheek, loving your people, etc. How I would love to see more of this! Wade Burleson wrote a fantastic post in which he demonstrated these qualities in a church conflict in his church.

Unfortunately, what is absent is glaringly obvious to those of us who are not pastors.

  • Satan causes people to become wounded and disillusioned.
  • The pastor is subjected to vague accusations and outright lies during leadership conflict.
  • Church discipline, which is always in the hands of the leadership, must be applied to conflict. It is the playbook.
  • Forgive the people who never acknowledge their wrongs.

The article does not acknowledge that it could be the pastor who is the problem. This omission is deeply concerning to TWW. Sadly, it appears that the pastor is somehow above the fray and must deal with the ornery little guy. If he grits his teeth and smiles a lot, maybe he will get through it. However, you can always institute church discipline.

Pastors should occasionally mingle with the bleating sheep. Maybe they can even learn something from them.

The Gospel™ Coalition called attention to these 9 Marks articles: Pastors, Learn From Non-Pastors and Pastors, Spend Time with Non-Pastors. The former post was taken from the latter post.

Here is a tweet I sent out this morning.

I am shocked that these articles would need to be written. Why on earth would anyone want to be a pastor and not relate to the people in the church? How on earth would any pastor think that there is nothing to learn from people in the church?

I remember a sermon that I heard in a large, Calvinista church in this area. The pastor was strutting around the stage, railing on people in our area who think they are smart because they have have PhDs. But, according to this pastor, they are really just "dumb sheep." He, of course, is the smart one.

Here are a couple of quotes from Pastors, Spend Time with Non-Pastors along with some comments from me.

  • "God has called you to give attention to all the flock, not just some of it." (Really?)
  • "If most of your time, energy, and effort is given to future pastors, you’ll neglect the majority of your flock." (But the dudebros like to discuss the Canons of Dort.)
  • "One way to consider addressing this tension is to include aspiring pastors in the work of shepherding other sheep." (It really is about the superiority of pastors.)
  • "It’s also wise to know that some church members can reach other members more effectively than a pastor. For innumerable reasons, some immature sheep are hesitant to receive instruction from pastors, but are willing to listen to other members. As you equip “normal” brothers for ministry," (I get it. We are normal. Pastors are superior.)
  • "Pastors aren’t just message-givers, but also message-livers. We’re called to be “examples to the flock." ( Bless their little hearts.)
  • "Pastors aren’t supposed to be experts on everything, and we can always learn from anyone who has the Holy Spirit." (I'm shocked.)
  • "One of the ways God trains up pastors is by taking men who never thought they’d be pastors and giving them this desire." (Nah- it really is all about pastors.)

Maybe, just maybe we should admit that there are pastors who are bullies.

The Gospel™ Coalition posted Pastoral Bullies by Erik Raymond. Raymond uses an example from 1 Samuel involving the abuse of Eli's sons. Here are some of his conclusions.

  • Pastors must beware that they don’t see themselves as far above the sheep and don’t keep themselves far removed from the sheep. They are to be servants of God and others. 
  • Some in ministry, with a zeal that rivals those in Babel, are working so hard at their platforms, making a great name for themselves, that they have forgotten the point.
  • Some pastors think they have an inherent and universal authority. This type of leadership crowds out the Word and oversteps its bounds, blowing out candles with pastoral fiat in sections of a person’s life where the minister has no place to go. 
  • The pastoral bully has forgotten the Word of God and the worth of God. No wonder he has little regard for the people of God. 

Nothing will change until open and honest case studies are used to help us learn from church conflicts.

These are all good points on pastoral bullies. However, until 9 Marks and The Gospel™ Coalition call out members of their organizations, nothing will change. Are there people out there who have the guts to open themselves up to a case study? Many pastors are probably glad that their health professionals must undergo review via Grand Rounds, etc. Yes, they are painful. But they prevent the same mistakes from happening again. Why are churches exempt? 

TGC and 9 Marks refuse to discuss the frequent fails of pastors and church discipline within their groups. It all gets swept under the rug. Remember CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler's bumbling abuse of Karen Hinkley, and Darrin Patrick? What about Todd Wilhelm's abuse by UCC Dubai?

It is time to think outside of the same old, same old of pretending that all is well. For those of you who do not know what I mean by case studies, here is a good synopsis.

A case study is an account of an activity, event or problem that contains a real or hypothetical situation and includes the complexities you would encounter in the workplace. Case studies are used to help you see how the complexities of real life influence decisions.

Analysing a case study requires you to practice applying your knowledge and your thinking skills to a real situation. To learn from a case study analysis you will be "analysing, applying knowledge, reasoning and drawing conclusions" (Kardos & Smith 1979).

According to Kardos and Smith (1979) a good case has the following features:

  • It is taken from real life (true identities may be concealed).
  • It consists of many parts and each part usually ends with problems and points for discussion. There may not be a clear cut off point to the situation.
  • It includes sufficient information for the reader to treat problems and issues.
  • It is believable for the reader (the case contains the setting, personalities, sequence of events, problems and conflicts)

Until churches get smart and vow to learn from their mistakes and abuses, TWW and others will be here, evaluating and exposing the problems in churches.


Comments

9 Marks and The Gospel Coalition Apparently Continue to Ignore the Abuse in Their Midst — 179 Comments

  1. If ministers want to be the bearers of God’s Gospel of mercy to their flocks, it might be better to stop hiding behind the ‘rules’ and ‘expectations’ they might impose on people out of an over-developed sense of their OWN importance.
    How can they do better? They can study how Christ was when He ministered on Earth but it may be too hard for them to live up to His demanding ideal of “never failing to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals”

    A careful look at Our Lord, and even the most pompous of all ministers may be humbled. In Him these men can find the better way, and it won’t involve needing more ‘rules’ and punishments. Just some humility on their part that allows them to offer compassion to the wounded in their care.

  2. Hard to see anything wrong when YOU’re the one personally benefiting from The Way Things Are.
    “There’s nothing wrong with The System! The System works just fine (for MEEEEEEEEEE)!”

  3. “I get it. We are normal. Pastors are superior”

    Well, Dee, they ARE the ones who meet every single one of the qualifications for elder that are listed in the bible BEFORE they are even considered.

    “Pastors must beware that they don’t see themselves as FAR above the sheep and don’t keep themselves FAR removed from the sheep.” (emphasis mine)

    Just moderately above and removed. All things in moderation.

    “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God BUT ALSO OUR OWN LIVES, because you had become very dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (emphasis mine)

    I want to bang my head against a brick wall every time I read this passage and realize what really isn’t there in many church circles.

  4. “Remember, you are a bad person”

    The problem with this bunch is that they see the world through “evil” glasses.

    It pretty much taints everything they do. They are bad, they’re congregants are bad, their wives are bad, their children are bad, even their pets are bad (except for Piper’s Godly dog)

    Life and it’s attendant suffering is to be endured. And don’t look to God for comfort – all of your suffering is done for his glory!

    What a way to live life.

    I don’t believe in original sin and I don’t think we suffer because a naked lady gave a naked guy some fruit on the say-so of a serpent.

    But even if you do believe that, if the gospel is the point of the exercise then didn’t Jesus come so than none shall perish but all shall eternal life? “none” and “all” is pretty expansive.

    In other words the master of the universe doesn’t think you’re there to suffer for his “glory”, but you’re worth suffering for so that you can have life eternal. Your suffering isn’t in vain and isn’t part of the divine plan and isn’t pre ordained. The point of the exercise is redemption. It’s about comfort. It’s about having hope and something to lean on when there doesn’t seem to be anything else there.

    It’s more akin to the pop song “Baby, I’m Worth It”.

    I don’t how theologically sound any of this is, I could be just tired from a long day.

    I’m going to feed my evil guppies and go to bed.

    Because they’re worth it….and they’re hungry….

  5. The shepherd keeps watch over his flock, but he’s not standing over the sheep and telling the sheep which bits of grass to chomp down on. These guys, on the other hand…

  6. Jack wrote:

    I don’t how theologically sound any of this is, I could be just tired from a long day.

    sometimes, being ‘tired’ allows you to see things more clearly 🙂

    I don’t know where the theology of ‘bad’ people comes from but I don’t think ‘totally depraved’ has anything to do with Christian orthodoxy, no. It seems more to be a necessary cog in the ‘thought system’ that is the ‘TULIP’ acronym. Everything in that system depends on everything else in that system …. take one ‘cog’ out of it, and the whole house of cards falls down.

    Your guppies are living creatures of God and therefore worthy of your attention and care, so apparently you’ve got a higher ethos than the ones who see only darkness in this world. Kindness to a guppie matters in my theology big time. I honor your recognition of the value of all life, even the most humble, maybe even especially the most humble. If you see worth in the humble guppy, then you are way ahead of them finger-pointers who are ‘saved’ and filled with contempt for those ‘beneath’ them in their own eyes.
    You have a refreshing voice.

  7. #5 jumped out at me.

    "Often in leadership conflict, the opposition makes vague allegations against a pastor. Lacking a smoking gun like adultery or embezzlement, they focus on issues like pride, impatience or anger, arguing the pastor is unfit for ministry."

    Wait a minute, doesn't this sound very much like so many of the abusive discipline tactics that 9Marxist, Neo-Calvinist churches use on the pew peons that the leadership considers is out of line?

  8. I wonder how Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church/9Marks would score on a psychological test? He seems to have the hallmarks of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder that besets a large number of clergy.

  9. is can’t get over that TGC photo…. gives a whole new meaning to TGC “member”. 3 1/2 of ’em in a row, all staring at me.

    the entitlement is just too much.

  10. “Lacking a smoking gun like adultery or embezzlement, they focus on issues like pride, impatience, or anger, arguing the pastor is unfit for ministry.”

    So, as long as there’s no sex, you’re good. (Because pride and anger never damaged anyone, did they!?)

  11. This is one of the main reasons why I think many Calvinista leaders are knowingly deceiving people. They will stick in a few things that sound really good, but they have no intention of actually doing it. It’s just propaganda.

  12. The current Google profile of The Gospel Coalition says the corporation is a subsidiary of Harrison Gypsum LLC:

    https://g.co/kgs/BaCC4h

    “Founded: 2005
    Co-founder and Vice President: Tim Keller
    Founder and President: D.A. Carson
    Parent organization: Harrison Gypsum, LLC”

    Probably a glitch, but hilarious anyhow. Reminds me of the “We’re Beatrice” commercials from the 1980s.

  13. Jerome wrote:

    The current Google profile of The Gospel Coalition says the corporation is a subsidiary of Harrison Gypsum LLC:
    https://g.co/kgs/BaCC4h
    “Founded: 2005
    Co-founder and Vice President: Tim Keller
    Founder and President: D.A. Carson
    Parent organization: Harrison Gypsum, LLC”
    Probably a glitch, but hilarious anyhow. Reminds me of the “We’re Beatrice” commercials from the 1980s.

    Thanks, Jerome, for your thorough research and sharing your findings with us!

  14. Living Liminal wrote:

    “Lacking a smoking gun like adultery or embezzlement, they focus on issues like pride, impatience, or anger, arguing the pastor is unfit for ministry.”
    So, as long as there’s no sex, you’re good. (Because pride and anger never damaged anyone, did they!?)

    At my ex-gulag, a 9 Marxist/NeoCalvinist/John MacArthur-ite franchise (Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley) the pastors/elders who couldn’t get along with people had the temerity to lecture the rest of us about excommunicating and shunning people they couldn’t get along with!

    I think if anyone should have been kicked out, it was every single pastor/elder.

  15. Jack wrote:

    I don’t how theologically sound any of this is, I could be just tired from a long day.
    I’m going to feed my evil guppies and go to bed.
    Because they’re worth it….and they’re hungry….

    Jack,

    Thanks for being our comedian in residence! You always make people like me laugh. And we could use a few laughs.

  16. “7.Don’t throw away the playbook. God has given us church discipline to guide us through the murky waters of conflict in the church. It’s especially important for the church to follow church discipline when the conflict involves an elder.” – article

    I have personal church experience with this one.

    What it means is that boundaryless, authoritarian pastors/elders demand ‘obedience’ in ‘all things’. When they don’t get it, they pitch temper tantrums and pull out the church discipline club to beat the sheep.

    In my own experience, the chairman of the elder board at my ex-gulag (Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley) threatened me at the end of a meeting with three other pastors/elders for having discovered a Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer while doing a legal research project for a former prosecutor. Because said felon was the pastors/elders’ friend, they made excuses for him and gave him carte blanche to everything, including to children and told NO ONE.

    The chairman of the elder board opened up his Bible at the conclusion of the screaming session at me (4 of them against 1 of me) where he had a bookmark and read me a passage that I was “destined for Hell” and “not one of [us].” He then called my home and threatened me again, on behalf of all of the pastors/elders.

    When I wouldn’t bow and scrape to his relentless control, and his demands that I apologize to all of them for their threats to me, he banned me from church property, all church services, contact with all church members, and lied to the entire church about me. I had been a member there for 8 1/2 years and served faithfully in many volunteer positions.

    Thank goodness for the First Amendment and my state (California’s) Anti-SLAPP Law (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). I started a whole blog about my ex-church.

  17. @ Jerome: Interesting…

    Here is some additional information regarding The Gospel Coalition over at ECFA:

    http://www.ecfa.org/MemberProfile.aspx?ID=31178

    Total Revenue in 2015 was $2,689,659. Cash donations amounted to $1,235,958, and this is included in the total revenue.

    Expenses for 2015 were $2,264,830.

    TGC’s revenue increased considerably from 2013 to 2015.

    Has anyone noticed that some TGC bloggers now have ads showing up in the comment section? Tim Challies is missing out!

  18. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not a “dumb sheep”. I will put my husband’s PhD. up against these “pastors” any day of the week, or my son’s Master’s degree. Plus I am not an evil person and anyone who thinks that really needs to have his head examined. Like Velour said, Driscoll is a narcissist in every sense of the word. My pets aren’t evil either. Sometimes I wonder about my Siamese cat though, as she likes to bite without warning.

    We returned this week from visiting our daughter in Salt Lake City, UT. Had a great time.

  19. Harley wrote:

    We returned this week from visiting our daughter in Salt Lake City, UT. Had a great time.

    Yeah!

    And a belated Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary!

  20. Harley wrote:

    will put my husband’s PhD. up against these “pastors” any day of the week,

    Oh yes, let’s do this. We’ll put your husband’s bona fide Ph.D. against my ex-senior pastor’s* fake Ph.d. for $299 from a diploma mill in Independence, Missouri.

    *Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley

  21. If you stand back and look at the “big picture” of the issues outlined in this specific blog, how is the TGC/9 Marks/calvanista any different than the Roman Catholic church at the time of Martin Luther?
    I know, one can cite lost of theolgical “difference”, but in practice, you have same old leaders vs sheep struggle…. and Martin Luther’ s main point, IMHO, was that you did not need the RC establishment to reach G&d..

  22. Living Liminal wrote:

    So, as long as there’s no sex, you’re good.

    It all depends on what the meaning of “sex” is.

    “I did not know that woman in the Biblical sense.”
    — Doug Phillips ESQUIRE

  23. ishy wrote:

    This is one of the main reasons why I think many Calvinista leaders are knowingly deceiving people. They will stick in a few things that sound really good, but they have no intention of actually doing it. It’s just propaganda.

    The more adjectives about Democracy there are in a country’s official name, the nastier a dictatorship it is.

    In fiction, this is called a “Crapsaccharine dystopia”.

  24. The New Calvinists sincerely believe they have come into the world for such a time as this; thus, they ignore any criticism about their movement. As for the young reformers who are abusing the discipline rod, Al Mohler proclaims “Where else are they going to go? There just are not options out there.” Thus, the young rebels continue to wreak havoc in the American church, spurred on by their icons. When will this madness end?!

  25. @ Deb:
    “The just shall live by faith” (ML), not by bring in “good standing” with a 9 Marks church…

  26. Velour these men were nothing but overgrown playground bullies! I think it goes beyond this. These men talk about or think they are smart biblically and in every other way? Each and every one of of them are Stupid,Stupid,Stupid!!!!! What moron brings pediphiles near children? These men in my book are the idiots the heards of sheep lost. I will give them some credit for convincing people they got the playbook on spirituality and it’s working on others. I mean let’s cut out the crap they all profit in some way by keeping control over others. It’s a cult and it’s dangerous or why else are these blogs around TWW, thou art man, and so on? I really don’t know which is worse Calvinist churches parading around as if free grace is free or the JW, Mormon, Scientologist who say follow us! I really do not see any difference between any of them. If I can’t see a difference then anything they say about my Gods Holy Word has become profain and unholy. Maybe it’s us who need to exercise Galatians 6:1, Matthew 5, 18 on the very men who have no clue because it’s quite possible they are not speaking with the Holy Spirit but a different one. I mean come on Dee , Deb, Todd, all of us at one point have been testing the spirits in these people and the results are clear. To be honest I could care less what seminary these men attended or could care less whether they call themselves pastors deacons or elders anyone could do this and if they are slick enough they can always find followers foolish enough to follow and endorse such men. Just my thoughts Velour wrote:

    “7.Don’t throw away the playbook. God has given us church discipline to guide us through the murky waters of conflict in the church. It’s especially important for the church to follow church discipline when the conflict involves an elder.” – article

    I have personal church experience with this one.

    What it means is that boundaryless, authoritarian pastors/elders demand ‘obedience’ in ‘all things’. When they don’t get it, they pitch temper tantrums and pull out the church discipline club to beat the sheep.

    In my own experience, the chairman of the elder board at my ex-gulag (Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley) threatened me at the end of a meeting with three other pastors/elders for having discovered a Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer while doing a legal research project for a former prosecutor. Because said felon was the pastors/elders’ friend, they made excuses for him and gave him carte blanche to everything, including to children and told NO ONE.

    The chairman of the elder board opened up his Bible at the conclusion of the screaming session at me (4 of them against 1 of me) where he had a bookmark and read me a passage that I was “destined for Hell” and “not one of [us].” He then called my home and threatened me again, on behalf of all of the pastors/elders.

    When I wouldn’t bow and scrape to his relentless control, and his demands that I apologize to all of them for their threats to me, he banned me from church property, all church services, contact with all church members, and lied to the entire church about me. I had been a member there for 8 1/2 years and served faithfully in many volunteer positions.

    Thank goodness for the First Amendment and my state (California’s) Anti-SLAPP Law (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). I started a whole blog about my ex-church.

  27. Max wrote:

    When will this madness end?!

    It will end when our brothers and sisters in Christ…

    STOP being bullied by these authoritarian shepherds
    STOP signing membership covenants
    STOP buying all those useless Calvinista books that will soon be piling up in thrift stores

    START reading God’s Holy Word and not all those Crossway books
    START praying fervently for God’s will to be done
    START listening to that still small voice that is being drowned out by loud Calvinista prophets profiteers (who are modern day moneychangers IMHO)

  28. Max wrote:

    Al Mohler proclaims “Where else are they going to go? There just are not options out there.”

    Al Mohler speaks from experience.

    He should have gotten a job in the real world, where real work was required. Instead he buffed and shined his super-sized egos, and destroyed the lives and reputations of many humble Christians with his False Gospel.

  29. Deb wrote:

    Max wrote:
    When will this madness end?!
    It will end when our brothers and sisters in Christ…
    STOP being bullied by these authoritarian shepherds
    STOP signing membership covenants
    STOP buying all those useless Calvinista books that will soon be piling up in thrift stores
    START reading God’s Holy Word and not all those Crossway books
    START praying fervently for God’s will to be done
    START listening to that still small voice that is being drowned out by loud Calvinista prophets profiteers (who are modern day moneychangers IMHO)

    And adding to the list of Stops.

    Slam your wallets shut and STOP giving these authoritarians any money!!!

  30. Lacking a smoking gun like adultery or embezzlement, they focus on issues like pride, impatience, or anger, arguing the pastor is unfit for ministry. But the gospel frees us to turn the other cheek

    Pride is not a problem as long as you aren’t sleeping with someone or stealing from the church? Is that what they really meant to say?

  31. Velour wrote:

    START listening to that still small voice that is being drowned out by loud Calvinista prophets profiteers (who are modern day moneychangers IMHO)

    New Calvinist churches are non-prophet ministries.

  32. Steve Scott wrote:

    “Pastors must beware that they don’t see themselves as FAR above the sheep and don’t keep themselves FAR removed from the sheep.” (emphasis mine)

    Great comment. I still remember a new CJ look alike pastor at a former church discussing how pastors and congregants are equal. He puts his hands up, trying to show how they were at the same level. One hand, representing the congregation was significantly lower. Talk about Freudian slips. I started giggling and he looked over at me, confused.

  33. “God has called you to give attention to all the flock, not just some of it.” (Really?)

    But not the half that are women, because BG rule!

  34. I like that you compared this to grand rounds and case studies because I tend to think along those lines too (Like doing a root cause analysis on each case that goes bad). The problem as I see it, is that they are not willing to go where the evidence leads. There is no point in examining these things if you are not going to act on the results.

  35. Max wrote:

    The New Calvinists sincerely believe they have come into the world for such a time as this; thus, they ignore any criticism about their movement

    So did the Young Communists a few generations ago.

    I have long maintained that if these New Calvinists were born 60+ years ago, they would have “come into the world for such a time as this” all starry-eyed and on-fire for Communism instead of Calvinism.

  36. Shauna wrote:

    Velour these men were nothing but overgrown playground bullies! I think it goes beyond this. These men talk about or think they are smart biblically and in every other way? Each and every one of of them are Stupid,Stupid,Stupid!!!!! What moron brings pediphiles near children?

    “Wile E Coyote. Super. Genius.”es who are completely full of themselves.
    Intelligence 18, Wisdom 3 all the way.

  37. elastigirl wrote:

    you have pet guppies?? that’s so cute!

    Two tanks, plus assorted tetras. I find them very peaceful to watch. Kind of funny too. The male guppies dance and the females ignore them.

    In the austere world of 9 Marks, it seems that you can’t just enjoy anything for the sake of enjoyment itself. It all has to be focused on a preening deity.

    It’s like the night sky photo at the top of the post, I can look at it and just wonder at the majesty of it all. I’m currently showing my son where all the planets are in the night sky, I did the same with my wife when we were dating.

    My family like the fish too. It’s even more fun if that joy can be shared.

  38. Jack wrote:

    Two tanks, plus assorted tetras. I find them very peaceful to watch.

    When I was a teenager, I had an aquarium with guppies, angel fish. Then I got 1 red devil. The red devil ate my guppies and angels, so I scooped the red devil out and fed the it to my cat. The only fish I’ve enjoyed since then have been the ones that big enough to cook!

  39. @ Christiane:
    The theology of sinful people comes from the scriptures.
    Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
    1 John 2:2 – He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
    Romans 3:23 – For there is no distinction: 23 for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

  40. Deb wrote:

    Total Revenue in 2015 was $2,689,659. Cash donations amounted to $1,235,958, and this is included in the total revenue.

    Expenses for 2015 were $2,264,830.

    What do they spend $2.3 million on??? And their total revenue was only $2.7 million??? They will not be able to stay solvent indefinitely if all they can put into reserve is $400,000 per year.

  41. Burwell wrote:

    They will not be able to stay solvent indefinitely if all they can put into reserve is $400,000 per year.

    *hit “Post” too soon.

    They are being kept afloat by the donations of some large churches, organizations and wealthy individuals. As soon as those entities begin to see a decrease in their revenues, TGC will likely dissolve.

    And when it happens, I will bet good money that it will be described as “the Lord led us to…”

  42. Burwell wrote:

    What do they spend $2.3 million on???

    kickbacks and ‘salaries’ probably. If you can find a balance sheet go for it. I think someone found something once but it was vague giant categories.

  43. Lea wrote:

    Burwell wrote:
    What do they spend $2.3 million on???
    kickbacks and ‘salaries’ probably. If you can find a balance sheet go for it. I think someone found something once but it was vague giant categories.

    The “full report” doesn’t have numbers.
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/tgc-2016-annual-report

    Remember sign #3 of a cult: “No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.”

  44. ishy wrote:

    The “full report” doesn’t have numbers.
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/tgc-2016-annual-report

    I do not want to be thought of as bandwagon bashing the TGC, which is how they view most free-thinking commenters on TWW and like minded blogs, but that was one of the most meaningless annual reports I have ever read. Not only was it bereft of numbers, it was bereft of context – who cares how site traffic or giving or conference attendance or x,y and z has increased when you don’t put that into the larger context of the organization’s overall history or the data outlining their ‘competitors’ yearly results???

    Truly Orwellian in its meaningless reporting.

  45. The paradigm of pastors as supreme leaders over sheep (as opposed to everyone being sheep, submitting to one another, with Jesus our common leader) is both designed by abusive people and attracts abusive people into leadership. No amount of articles calling for pastors to mingle with sheep, learn from sheep, be kind, what have you will remedy that. You have sociopaths and NPDs attracted to the pulpit for obvious reasons related to the power imbued in the CEO/pastor position which has been made up and cannot be found in the New Testament.

    There is simply no way out from under the abuse in this system. Tinkering with it is worthless–no, less than worthless, it’s harmful because it convinces people that things can be better and encourages them to buy into a lie and waste their time following foolish church leaders who don’t know any better or evil ones who do.

  46. Harley wrote:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not a “dumb sheep”. I will put my husband’s PhD. up against these “pastors” any day of the week, or my son’s Master’s degree.

    There’s the punch line. Most of these geniuses in the leadership of organizations, as well as that strutting calvinist pastor on stage, have woefully inadequate educations. They are too ignorant to realize they’re ignorant. Not at all impressed with the M.Div., and I know this steps on some toes here, but it’s not considered a rigorous academic degree. The level of Hebrew, Greek, etc. that students get is just enough to make them and dangerous, not knowing how little they know. Many seminaries are so given to indoctrination as well that they can’t be considered legitimate academic institutions. The point of the academy is to expose one to various positions, and while one can imagine a seminary ought to be able to take some positions on fundamentals of doctrine (e.g., Jesus is God), many go far beyond that and have long ago abandoned all rigor and meaningful education. SBTS is probably at the top of that list–sadly, it used to be considered a pretty good school.

  47. Law Prof wrote:

    The level of Hebrew, Greek, etc. that students get is just enough to make them and dangerous, not knowing how little they know. Many seminaries are so given to indoctrination as well that they can’t be considered legitimate academic institutions.

    The Greek program at SEBTS used to be fairly rigorous. Greek is not really a difficult language, and koine is not too far from classical Greek. And I went to grad school again elsewhere, and it was easy as pie compared to SEBTS.

    However, I don’t think Greek is emphasized anymore. Most of the guys I know that went to SBTS majored in Hebrew, and it seemed like that was the “cool” thing to do there. I don’t think the problem is so much the amount of languages, but that the Old Testament patriarchy is emphasized, and Greek is sublimated to English translations.

  48. @ Jeremy:
    Thanks, JEREMY,
    but I wondered about the theology concerning
    ‘bad people’ 🙂
    You see, I look at how Our Lord viewed people in distress and it was not as ‘bad’ people, but more in the way of these words:
    “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”
    (The Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 9:38)

    Those are not the words of the neo-Cal pastors who see people as ‘bad’, no. They did not learn from St. Matthew’s witness to Our Lord’s words. No, they did not learn from the One Who understands the difference between a truly intently evil person and a person who is ‘confused’ and does not know what he does.

    The neo-Cal folks go by someone else’s teachings.

  49. On the other hand, I do not have any Greek, but I do have a smattering of a few other languages-just enough to be utterly convinced that it is far wiser to take the opinions of professionals as to translation than to take the idea of some dude is some pulpit.

    Just like I would rather my doctor accepted the majority opinion about something rather than going off on his own tangent with me as the potential loser in that deal.

  50. @ ishy:
    Now that one is interesting. Deb plans to do a post, next week I hope, about a sly way that TGC helps BFFs to rake in a little dough. It is not illegal or immoral but it is not mentioned.

  51. dee wrote:

    @ ishy:
    Now that one is interesting. Deb plans to do a post, next week I hope, about a sly way that TGC helps BFFs to rake in a little dough. It is not illegal or immoral but it is not mentioned.

    Not illegal or immoral, but smells kinda shady?

  52. Burwell wrote:

    I do not want to be thought of as bandwagon bashing the TGC, which is how they view most free-thinking commenters on TWW and like minded blogs, but that was one of the most meaningless annual reports I have ever read. Not only was it bereft of numbers, it was bereft of context – who cares how site traffic or giving or conference attendance or x,y and z has increased when you don’t put that into the larger context of the organization’s overall history or the data outlining their ‘competitors’ yearly results???

    Truly Orwellian in its meaningless reporting.

    Remember PASTOR Steven Furtick (or was it PASTOR Star Scott?) whose annual report stated to the mint how many breath mints the staff consumed in the year but not a word about where the Tithe money went or where the money came from for the Furtick Mansion/Estate (or the Tony Stark-level sports car collection)?

  53. Lea wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    The “full report” doesn’t have numbers.

    that’s pretty pathetic.

    “Dots enough ‘t’s to cross the eyes…”

  54. Lea wrote:

    Burwell wrote:
    What do they spend $2.3 million on???
    kickbacks and ‘salaries’ probably. If you can find a balance sheet go for it. I think someone found something once but it was vague giant categories.

    Black Budget categories?

  55. dee wrote:

    a sly way that TGC helps BFFs to rake in a little dough

    According to that report, I”m guessing it’s all about buying books? Maybe a little conference/writing money tossed their way as well.

  56. @ Law Prof:
    I agree with this exchange. Beyound questionable general college education, I am increasingly concerned about the lack of science and math education amoung not just pastors, but general church members. With our increasing technological and science based society, this ignorance is downright frightening….

  57. dee wrote:

    Deb plans to do a post, next week I hope, about a sly way that TGC helps BFFs to rake in a little dough. It is not illegal or immoral but it is not mentioned.

    Neeeeeyyaahhhhh. I’d say the part about it not being immoral is open for debate!

  58. I have an announcement. None of y’all’s business, but I’m going to announce it anyhow.
    I told y’all about one of our church deacons a while back ….. the Jezebel-rant / woman-submit-use-your-boot-if-you-have-to SS teacher deacon ??? Well, a few months ago, he decided he was called to preach! I just found out today that the church voted on whether or not to hire him as pastor …… the good ole boys network where 2 of his blousons are deacons and his daddy is a trustee SBC church. He did not get the 75% vote required to pass. Rumor has it that he was voted down because (GASP!!!) he actually had the gall to say from the pulpit that the King James Bible is not the only Bible there is!

    One more announcement ….. for the dawg luvers: I told y’all about this little puppy that was dropped past the end of our road. Said puppy is thriving under young Cousin Caleb’s care. Her scrapes are healing, she is happy and healthy, and she knows where home is!

  59. Nancy2 wrote:

    I told y’all about this little puppy that was dropped past the end of our road. Said puppy is thriving under young Cousin Caleb’s care. Her scrapes are healing, she is happy and healthy, and she knows where home is!

    🙂

    happy news!

  60. Nancy2 wrote:

    Rumor has it that he was voted down because (GASP!!!) he actually had the gall to say from the pulpit that the King James Bible is not the only Bible there is!

    *facepalm* The lord works in mysterious ways 😉

  61. Nancy2 wrote:

    One more announcement ….. for the dawg luvers: I told y’all about this little puppy that was dropped past the end of our road. Said puppy is thriving under young Cousin Caleb’s care. Her scrapes are healing, she is happy and healthy, and she knows where home is!

    “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
    — Proverbs 12:10 —

    And Nancy2, you are one of the righteous spoken of in the Hebrew Bible.

  62. I think the overwhelming answer to whether 9 marks will realize they have a problem with church discipline is “never”.

    For them, church discipline isn’t the problem.

    There are 3 churches in my area listed on the 9 marks website. I visited one website and boom, every single red flag was there.

    The hipster (not hippie – there’s a difference) pastor trained at SBTS, the sermons on membership and covenants, the “what we believe page” had links to the “Danvers Statement” and the “Chicago Statement”.

    I would never have known what to look for had I not heard it here first.

    But it’s not just “Calvinist” churches that are authority driven. I have a feeling that my wife’s pentecostal church is pretty much on same page, just more subtle about it.

    Out of curiosity, I visited the library the last time I was there and lo and behold – the book on reclaiming biblical manhood and womanhood!

    It’s a good thing I brought a book of my own, “Sasquatch – Legend Meets Science”. A sure fire way to ensure that you are left undisturbed.

  63. Nancy2 wrote:

    The only fish I’ve enjoyed since then have been the ones that big enough to cook!

    I’m not a big fan of eating fish, but when we go overseas or visit the coast and it’s fresh from the ocean, then it tastes great. Same with the ones I catch myself – they taste fine. Store freezers must do something to the flavour.

  64. King James is the only one for me, thank you Lord for KJV Lea wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:

    Rumor has it that he was voted down because (GASP!!!) he actually had the gall to say from the pulpit that the King James Bible is not the only Bible there is!

    *facepalm* The lord works in mysterious ways

  65. Jack wrote:

    n we go overseas or visit the coast and it’s fresh from the ocean, then it tastes great. Same with the ones I catch myself – they taste fine. Store freezers must do something to the flavour.

    I’m in Southern Kentucky, not very far from Lake Malone, Kentucky Lake, and Lake Barkley….. we go fishing occasionally…. fried catfish and hushpuppies, oh baby! We both catch ’em. And we have a deal – if he cleans ’em, I’ll cook ’em! Croppie isn’t bad, but bass tastes a little too fishey for me.

    My husband is from Western Maine. When his parents were alive, we would go up there on vacation. We would hike through the mountains, canoe, and fish – trout, pickerel, perch, and an occasional salmon! Ice fishing is even fun if you dress well for it!
    Before we would leave, his mom would go down to the coast and get fresh lobster, clams, oysters ……… big seafood feast with hubby’s family!

  66. Muff Potter wrote:

    And Nancy2, you are one of the righteous spoken of in the Hebrew Bible.

    I think there are a lot of righteous people on TWW, including you, Muff!

  67. “Remember: you are a bad person. Often in leadership conflict, the opposition makes vague allegations against a pastor. Lacking a smoking gun like adultery or embezzlement, they focus on issues like pride, impatience, or anger, arguing the pastor is unfit for ministry. But the gospel frees us to turn the other cheek”

    I get that people mock this one, but it hits pretty close to home. From my limited experience (in very non-calvinist churches) we are almost always the last to know if there is a problem with us. For some reason people will spend months talking to others about us before we even realize there is a conflict. The last conflict we had an elder ended up resigning, but we still have not been told why he and his family disliked us so much. The typical complaints against preachers, again from my limited experience, has been either “they don’t do anything” or “we’re just not growing spiritually.” The last one came from a kid who barely attended church and admitted he never read the Bible or prayed. So yes, preachers get vague criticisms frequently. And I cannot adequately describe how hurtful and anxiety producing it is when you spend the majority of your time praying for the church, thinking about the church, going to the hospital at 5 in the morning for the church, working 22 days straight for the church, only to have people complain that there aren’t enough stories in the sermon, or that you told a joke over a year ago and someone is still offended.

    I’m not defending any celebrity preacher, I don’t really have the patience for celebrity. Just don’t throw every pastor under the bus, some really are called and take their job seriously.

  68. Thank you velour I believe most here if not all share our sentiments. Let’s just call a spade a spade. I saw Dee posted about the $$$. After I began to wake up once we left our former church. I saw a pattern as I added up the money and the numbers and guess what? It didn’t add up. I began to realize “follow the money” and all become more clear. Rear ends in pues mean Cha Ching all the way to the bank. These men are slick with the tithing sermons heck my pastor got me believing that God let’s us give. I agree God allows tithing but the context in which he put it made you feel guilty not to give it up even if you don’t have it. I believe tithing isn’t just with money but you can tithe by giving your time, if you mow someone’s lawn without expecting anything in return, if you wash someone’s feet. When you do for others in Christs name that is tithing because it’s with your heart. If you are blessed with funds to give again it’s not the money you tithe with but your heart. If these mean are in fact misappropriating funds or pocketing tithes/offerings for selfish gain then the Bible calls that person a thief. Velour wrote:

    @ Shauna:

    Spot on comment, Shauna.

    Thank you.

  69. Jack wrote:

    The hipster (not hippie – there’s a difference) pastor trained at SBTS, the sermons on membership and covenants, the “what we believe page” had links to the “Danvers Statement” and the “Chicago Statement”.

    I would never have known what to look for had I not heard it here first.

    hard to believe this stuff would thrive up in Canada

  70. All this attention on “leadership”, I am really weary of the subject. Jesus taught us to be servants.

    It also seems obvious to me that those lording it over others have missed the part where there is only one true shepherd. So if they persist in the belief they are above the sheep, they admit they are wolves.

  71. I live in a suburb of one of the largest U.S. cities. Our area has a population of 750,000.

    Several churches have banded together to feed homeless people, but not one of them is a 9 Marks church. We have at least four 9 Marks churches in our region.

  72. By the way, has anyone noticed this strange Yelp review about John MacArthur’s church, Grace Community Church?

    Look at the last paragraph:

    If you mind your own business and watch your back and those of your family you’ll do okay there – even if you discover that the pastor of your fellowship group has a secret life of sin. What’s that to you?

    https://www.yelp.com/biz/grace-community-church-sun-valley?hrid=VW5UQoQpx5ELkF419CvG8g&utm_campaign=www_review_share_popup&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=(direct)

  73. Janey wrote:

    I live in a suburb of one of the largest U.S. cities. Our area has a population of 750,000.
    Several churches have banded together to feed homeless people, but not one of them is a 9 Marks church. We have at least four 9 Marks churches in our region.

    Not surprised.

    Love isn’t a mark of a 9 Marks church and didn’t even make it to Mark Dever’s list, even though Love is the ONLY mark of a healthy biblical church according to the Scriptures.

  74. Jack wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    The only fish I’ve enjoyed since then have been the ones that big enough to cook!
    I’m not a big fan of eating fish, but when we go overseas or visit the coast and it’s fresh from the ocean, then it tastes great. Same with the ones I catch myself – they taste fine. Store freezers must do something to the flavour.

    This is why I will only eat shrimp on the coast. If i get it here it tastes…tasteless?

  75. Preacher’s Wife wrote:

    For some reason people will spend months talking to others about us before we even realize there is a conflict.

    Maybe the last time they confronted a preacher they got run out on a rail and they’re more cautious now?

    People are people. The damage is in thinking that one group of people is always innocent and the other always persecuted.

  76. @ Janey:

    Janey,

    Which person’s review? I can’t find the one in the link.

    And how many stars did they give John MacArthur/Grace Community Church? 1 or 2 stars, etc.

    Thanks.

  77. Lea wrote:

    Maybe the last time they confronted a preacher they got run out on a rail and they’re more cautious now?

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

  78. @ Nancy2:
    Nice. For us, it’s walleye (pickeral), jackfish – though they’re pretty bony and catfish. A lot of Americans come up for the catfish. My wife’s got the knack for cleaning them, I tend to make a mess of it.

  79. Nancy2 wrote:

    Rumor has it that he was voted down because (GASP!!!) he actually had the gall to say from the pulpit that the King James Bible is not the only Bible there is!

    o/~
    “IF JOHN THE BAPTIST USED THE KYNGE JAYMES VERSION
    THEN IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!
    GIMME THAT OLD KYNGE JAYMES VERSION,
    GIMME THAT OLD KYNGE JAYMES VERSION,
    GIMME THAT OLD KYNGE JAYMES VERSION…”
    o/~

  80. Christiane wrote:

    hard to believe this stuff would thrive up in Canada

    I think the trend towards authoritarian leadership is (in part) a reaction to our society becoming more pluralistic.

    I’m talking generalities, every jurisdiction is different, but at least in Canada and the US, Christianity dominated the conversation. Many laws pertaining to homosexuality, miscegenation even the idea of “womens” and “mens” roles in the home and society – to name some. Now some of this is not “Christian” per se but certainly the majority of people identified as Christian.

    Here in 2017, the landscape has changed. Other, disenfranchised groups have come to the table, the society in general has more voices to it- both Christian and others.

    My take is that as the transition happened, you saw guys like Falwell try to continue to dominate the conversation using groups like the “Moral Majority” and political groups like the “Christian Coalition” came to the forefront.

    But it didn’t take root in the general society. It didn’t stop abortion or gay marriage – two big bugaboos that seems to get christians all riled up.

    So now some Christian groups, like 9 marks, want to go behind their palisades and keep “the world” at bay. It’s about keeping the sheep penned up. So they’re pumped to distrust science and critical thought, to not question leadership, believe in an “all or nothing bible” etc etc.

  81. I remember one sermon at the evangelical church that was very telling. I don’t remember what the whole sermon was about but the pastor waxed philosophically on the time when “you knew what your neighbours believed” – ie the majority of folks identified as Christian just like you.

    It makes me laugh when people bring up “christian persecution” in North America.

    Our liberal democracy has given christianity a safe base (for example TWW) with unprecedented access to the world through the internet.

    Sure you’re going to have work for it, but didn’t Paul travel through the pluralistic Roman Empire?

    9marks and its cohorts are a form of “lazy christianity”, they want the respect, the power, the adulation handed to them – they think it’s their due right. The rest of us beg to differ so they enforce ideas like “we’re special”, “we’re elect”, “you’re all going to heck”.

    Unfortunately, 9 marks and its wannabees aren’t alone, I’m sorry to offend but this is a thread I have seen run through every evangelical church I have ever sat in, watched on tv, listened to on the radio or read about.

  82. Jack wrote:

    It makes me laugh when people bring up “christian persecution” in North America.

    1) You of course know that “Persecution(TM)!” means not being permitted to persecute everyone else, don’t you?

    2) Those 22 Copts are unavailable for comment.

  83. Jack wrote:

    There are 3 churches in my area listed on the 9 marks website. I visited one website and boom, every single red flag was there.

    I just checked, and in my city of 450,000+ people, there is one 9 Marxist church and that is a Chinese language church. As for The Gospel Coalition, there are NO churches in my city. Granted, people are used to driving to Gilbert or Chandler to go to the mall, but seriously, nearly half a million people in the Mesa city limits and you guys can’t find more than just one church for a specialty population? I think my neighbors are smart!

  84. @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:
    There are 11 9Marks churches here in Raleigh – one is just two miles from my home. There are an additional 24 churches in neighboring cities like Durham, Wake Forest, Cary, Apex, and Rolesville that are listed in the 9Marks church directory. Both Sovereign Grace Churches in our area are on that list. No surprise there…

    As some have commented before, this directory may be a big help when searching for a church, if you know what I mean. 😉

  85. @ Jack:
    this makes sense …. guess I have idealized my Canadian cousins 🙂
    I think I’ve given a lot of credit for their strength of character to living in a ‘cooler climate’, I suppose. It IS hard for me to picture them falling into something so cult-like, because of their common sense. To me, 9 Marks victims seem more vulnerable to being manipulated than most and I have trouble imagining any of my cousins falling into that stuff 🙂

  86. I vividly remember the disaster that was the shepherding movement in the 70’s. Lots of lives and marriages ruined. Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, Ern Baxter, and Don Basham, know as The Ft. Lauderdale Five, were the most influential leaders. I bet HUG remembers those names. These men all came out of charismatic/pentecostal backgrounds which goes a long way to explain the methods of control (God is telling me that you must…). I never thought I would see Baptist pastors employing the same techniques to control people. Make no mistake, this is a cult.

  87. Jack wrote:

    My take is that as the transition happened, you saw guys like Falwell try to continue to dominate the conversation using groups like the “Moral Majority” and political groups like the “Christian Coalition” came to the forefront.
    But it didn’t take root in the general society. It didn’t stop abortion or gay marriage – two big bugaboos that seems to get christians all riled up.

    I’ve honestly never understood the push to moralize everybody. It never works, it just makes some people want to do those things more, and some issues really don’t have much basis in the Bible to begin with.

    There are some moral issues I take strong stands on, but I can acknowledge that they often are much more complicated than black and white. And sometimes I take some stances because I believe that there is inherent danger to people in it that goes far beyond the church, but often those dangers are minimized by many groups or by industries to achieve their goals.

  88. Whoa I have to chime in here. I and my son attended a 9marks church the very church that hurt us. I have common sense and am certainly not an idiot. This teaching is very slick and smooth or else why do you think many strong Christians are falling prey to it? I never paid attention to 9marks (had no clue what it really was while we were there) because they don’t push the label in the services. However they mesh it into the word of God and the teaching of grace, Christs death on the cross and throw around the gospel to confuse and snatch believeing Christians into their web of crap theology. I had no idea except to say when Calvinism was mentioned in conversation I had very little understanding of it and it didn’t matter to me because I understood salvation and that I was saved and grounded in my faith already. We were tied up in church relationships, my business relationships with church members, up until the assault the pastor put on a different face that was warm,kind, open, he seemed to be a caring Christian pastor devoted to ministry. This is just how incidious the teachings of 9 marks, Calvin are! It’s like being a frog in a pot of water going from warm comfortable to boiling and not even realizing it. I did not sign up to be a 9 marks /Calvinist and when I awoke to it I immediately rejected those teachings and realized we were in a cult. It’s devastating that it took my son being raped for their true colors to shine and for us to see what we had been a part of for so long. Anyone can fall prey to this if they are not aware of what it is or else Satan wouldn’t be called the deceiver. beChristiane wrote:

    @ Jack:
    this makes sense …. guess I have idealized my Canadian cousins
    I think I’ve given a lot of credit for their strength of character to living in a ‘cooler climate’, I suppose. It IS hard for me to picture them falling into something so cult-like, because of their common sense. To me, 9 Marks victims seem more vulnerable to being manipulated than most and I have trouble imagining any of my cousins falling into that stuff

  89. Burwell wrote:

    Not only was it bereft of numbers, it was bereft of context – who cares how site traffic or giving or conference attendance or x,y and z has increased when you don’t put that into the larger context of the organization’s overall history or the data outlining their ‘competitors’ yearly results???
    Truly Orwellian in its meaningless reporting.

    So TGC is following yet another page in David Miscavige’s book. Surprise, surprise, surprise…

  90. ishy wrote:

    I’ve honestly never understood the push to moralize everybody.

    Ishy, you might find meaning in this quote:
    “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”
    (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

  91. Clay Crouch wrote:

    I bet HUG remembers those names.

    Actually, I don’t.
    By the time the Shepherding Movement came to Whittier, the labels had all been filed off or painted over.

    These men all came out of charismatic/pentecostal backgrounds which goes a long way to explain the methods of control (God is telling me that you must…). I never thought I would see Baptist pastors employing the same techniques to control people.

    To cite an Old Testament Star Trek title: “PATTERNS OF FORCE”.

  92. ishy wrote:

    I’ve honestly never understood the push to moralize everybody. It never works, it just makes some people want to do those things more, and some issues really don’t have much basis in the Bible to begin with.

    But it lets the Moral count coup on all the rest of us, and vent their Righteous Moral Fury on us the Unrighteous. And THAT’s what’s Truly Important.

  93. ishy wrote:

    I’ve honestly never understood the push to moralize everybody. It never works, it just makes some people want to do those things more

    It always seemed to me that the people whose parents were strictest went the wildest

  94. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    ishy wrote:

    I’ve honestly never understood the push to moralize everybody. It never works, it just makes some people want to do those things more, and some issues really don’t have much basis in the Bible to begin with.

    But it lets the Moral count coup on all the rest of us, and vent their Righteous Moral Fury on us the Unrighteous. And THAT’s what’s Truly Important.

    if nothing more, they do come off as a very ANGRY and self-rightous group of people who are roaming about looking for any and all they can unleash that venom on. Unfortunately, the list has grown.

    The evangelical community has many, many good and decent people, fine Christians, who do not deserve that the ‘angry’ ones should represent them. What seems to happen is if someone doesn’t line up as a homophobe or an Islamophobe, they are labeled ‘liberals’ or worse. The evangelical who is not among the ‘angry fearful’ deserves his/her own voice and identity to be represented among Christian people.

    We have a great big SB Baptist Church in our town, very prominent, with many known members who serve the whole city in important positions. This Church has recently adopted some language on their website that speak of ‘Men’ in charge of Church government and of ‘discipline’ …. that wording was not there a year ago even, as I checked it out just to see where they stood ….. looks like they also are sliding (creeping) towards the dark side very slowly. I am sad to see it as I know some of the folks who go there are they are good people. I don’t want to see them suffer.

  95. JYJames wrote:

    RightNow Media

    RightNow Media is a conduit of New Calvinist literature and video teachings into SBC life. I don’t think mainline Southern Baptists are savvy about this.

  96. Max wrote:

    RightNow Media is a conduit of New Calvinist literature and video teachings into SBC life. I don’t think mainline Southern Baptists are savvy about this.

    My church recently subscribed. I did some searching – my guesstimate is about 80% Calvinist. I found some UMC material and some other non-Calvinist material. Probably just enough to support the claim of being non-denominational. I did not sign up for it.

  97. I’d be interested in a positive vision for carrying out Matthew 18 from Dee and Deb. If you’ve written anything in that regard, I’d be very interested in seeing it. Also 1 Corinthians 5. What do we do with the “tell it to the church” command and command to expel an immoral brother or sister? Sincerely wondering.

  98. @ bob:
    Hi Bob,
    I can’t speak to your request and I can’t speak for Dee and Deb, nor would I.

    But if you think about it, Dee and Deb, through their work at TWW, are deeply living out the command of Our Lord to help bear one another’s burdens. They are offering a place for victims to come and tell their stories. They provide through the great kindness of Wade Burleson a Sunday E-Church for those who have been so injured and alienated from the Church that they cannot yet go back into an institutional Church setting. These ladies EDUCATE others about what is going on with the abuses that are being inflicted on innocent people in the name of Christ, which are abuses that are more harmful to the Body of Christ than any perceived ‘insult’ to some male-headship leader who is offended that someone refuses his commands.

    Dee and Deb have no problem leaning towards the light because what they are doing IS witnessing to Christ in the midst of a crisis in the Body of Christ where male-headship folks have turned away from Him and set up their own version of ‘biblical’ rules which apparently allow some fairly egregious brutal treatment of those who offend THEM.

    If those verses you want clarification on can be used to root out the self-idolators who preach male idolatry and abuse those who refuse to bow to them;
    then I can understand how important Dee and Deb’s input would be. These ladies are on the side of the angels in such matters, you bet. They are a blessing to the Church and are great witnesses to the loving care that Our Lord has for those who are harassed and weary.

  99. Max wrote:

    RightNow Media is a conduit of New Calvinist literature and video teachings into SBC life. I don’t think mainline Southern Baptists are savvy about this.

    You’re right. Of course I live in a very rural area, but there are a large number of SBC churches within a 50 mile radius of my house. Neo-cals are coming in to Hopkinsville, Russellville, and Bowling Green ( TGC and 9Marks) ……. most locals, including the church members, are completely clueless! ……. Small churches, attendance ranging from 30 to 300.
    YRR books and webs are the recommended literatures. I think most of the people who recommend those writers have no clue what the ultimate goal is. My husband reads YRR stuff recommended by other people. …… scary! MacArthur, Piper, Platt, Evans, Warren, Ware …….

  100. Nancy2 wrote:

    YRR books and webs are the recommended literatures. I think most of the people who recommend those writers have no clue what the ultimate goal is.

    Therein is SBC’s dilemma. The New Calvinists are writing all the books and holding all the conferences; they are very prolific. Traditional Southern Baptists come across as stuck in the mud when compared to the energy of the new reformers. You can see why young folks are attracted to them – I’ll give them that. Unfortunately, they are pursuing the wrong thing … all that glitters is not gold.

  101. bob wrote:

    I’d be interested in a positive vision for carrying out Matthew 18 from Dee and Deb. If you’ve written anything in that regard, I’d be very interested in seeing it. Also 1 Corinthians 5. What do we do with the “tell it to the church” command and command to expel an immoral brother or sister? Sincerely wondering.

    I think the first place to start is to evenly apply your rules to both churchmember and churchleader. These authoritarian groups excuse many leaders from church discipline. If a church only disciplines members and not leaders, and they do not allow members or elders to initiate the same procedures on other leaders, then they do not really believe church discipline is for the purpose of being biblical (even if they are badly misinterpreting what should earn church discipline). The only reason they have for using church discipline is to keep themselves in control.

    Another very basic rule is that asking questions is not a reason for church discipline. A number of people here have been expelled from their churches for doing just that, even when they only asked the elders questions. The Bereans were a model of asking questions, and praised for it in the Bible. Any Christian leader who tries to shut down all dialogue is doing so for their own selfish reasons.

    I do not believe Matthew 18 is a model for church discipline in the way that many churches use it. “if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector” to me says that you would treat them with the respect and grace you would any non-Christian, not as someone who is shunned or punished. As many hyper-Calvinists do not see the point in treating non-Christians that way because they are not “Elect”, and only respect and interact with those who are “under authority”, I feel that is far away from Christ’s model.

  102. ishy wrote:

    These authoritarian groups excuse many leaders from church discipline. If a church only disciplines members and not leaders, and they do not allow members or elders to initiate the same procedures on other leaders, then they do not really believe church discipline is for the purpose of being biblical (even if they are badly misinterpreting what should earn church discipline). The only reason they have for using church discipline is to keep themselves in control.

    Spot on response to Bob, Ishy.

  103. Lea wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:

    Rumor has it that he was voted down because (GASP!!!) he actually had the gall to say from the pulpit that the King James Bible is not the only Bible there is!

    *facepalm* The lord works in mysterious ways

    Voted down because he’s not a King James Onlyist, and not because he excoriates women. I guess in their minds, he’s not Conservative enough. Kind of like the wife of the ranting IFB pastor who posts hateful sermons on YouTube, who thinks the Duggar family isn’t Conservative. Who can play the One-upmanship of being the most Fundy of all?

  104. Janey wrote:

    I live in a suburb of one of the largest U.S. cities. Our area has a population of 750,000.

    Several churches have banded together to feed homeless people, but not one of them is a 9 Marks church. We have at least four 9 Marks churches in our region.

    They don’t want to get their hands dirty and mingle with the poor and less fortunate. Oh, and they have no interest in uniting with Christians for any good purpose if those Christians don’t march in lockstep with their beliefs. 9Marx & NeoCalvinist churches are cults.

  105. Deb wrote:

    @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:
    There are 11 9Marks churches here in Raleigh – one is just two miles from my home. There are an additional 24 churches in neighboring cities like Durham, Wake Forest, Cary, Apex, and Rolesville that are listed in the 9Marks church directory. Both Sovereign Grace Churches in our area are on that list. No surprise there…

    As some have commented before, this directory may be a big help when searching for a church, if you know what I mean.

    No 9Marxist churches within a 45 mile radius in my area. Scranton is the closest city that has 1 9Marx church. I like it that way.

  106. Christiane wrote:

    . To me, 9 Marks victims seem more vulnerable to being manipulated than most and I have trouble imagining any of my cousins falling into that stuff

    This is the danger. Only 3 churches listed by 9 marks. And they appear to be smallish churches.
    But…as I mentioned, the literature can be found in my wife’s Pentecostal Church of 1000+ members library.
    I think Shauna is right, you can hang out and never have an issue until an event occurs and you’re on the wrong side of it.
    The influence goes beyond the listed churches. In fact I am willing to bet there are churches that purposely don’t list yet still adhere to the whole feudal submission system.
    I reckon there’s always two churches. The inspiring, peppy Sunday church, and its darker underside that most congregants never see.

  107. To our readers
    I am on my way to Florida with my family. May be out of touch for a couple of days.

  108. dee wrote:

    To our readers
    I am on my way to Florida with my family. May be out of touch for a couple of days.

    Safe travels!

  109. dee wrote:

    To our readers
    I am on my way to Florida with my family. May be out of touch for a couple of days.

    God’s blessings to you and your family, Dee, as you travel to Florida.

  110. Burwell wrote:

    but that was one of the most meaningless annual reports I have ever read. Not only was it bereft of numbers, it was bereft of context – who cares how site traffic or giving or conference attendance or x,y and z has increased when you don’t put that into the larger context of the organization’s overall history or the data outlining their ‘competitors’ yearly results???

    Here I go again talking about money, money, money. Crossway has been a “Partner” of TgC from the beginning. IOW, it is a marketing channel for Crossway since traditional marketing for Crossway products and Christian publishing in general has changed, to understate it dramatically. Conferences are marketing. Blogs posts are marketing. Small groups at churches led by pastors who have been to said conferences are marketing. One reason we are not going to get meaningful numbers is that meaningful numbers are not going to look very spiritual. They are going to look very, well, crassly businesslike and not very gospelly.

    Challies no longer accepts comments. But you can click on a link and pay to study theology with Wayne Grudem. Challies was monetizing the gospel long before he became a pastor back when he was just a web designer who accepted comments. He live-blogged some events and voila became a qualified pastor. That should tell you something about the mess we are in. Site traffic is everything, and the Holy Spirit does not influence Alexa or the others, AFAIK.

  111. @ bob:
    Gramp3 and I have seen two excellent examples of church discipline handled well, in our opinion. One was an unfaithful husband who was approached privately by the elders of te church over a period of several months but refused to repent and return to his family. The elders reported to the church that they were recommending that he be removed from fellowship and the church did so. In another instance, a man was repentant about ongoing sexual sin, confessed to the elders of the church who reported to higher denominational authorities and the man entered a restoration program that was quite extensive (this did not involve children.) He made confession to the church and was restored after at least a year. In my opinion, these were both successful though different instances of proper church discipline.

    The matters were handled discreetly but publicly when necessary or when the subjects thought it was appropriate for their recovery/restitution. Certainly there was nothing like the nonsense we see from 9Marks authoritarians.

  112. It is these types of pastors that will point out pastoral bullies, yet won’t even consider to think that they might be the bully. Someone else might be, but certainly not I!

  113. A bit off topic but I sometimes look at Mr. Burk’s twitter feed. This video was posted, Mr. Burk is a teacher at Boyce College and this is a commencement speech that Mr. Piper gave it is twenty-four minutes.

    https://youtu.be/2oH4_-p7BUs

    It is called Sacred Schizophrenia one not a direct quote at 22:30 …you will be either great in eternity or a devil that is the only two choices… being great or a devil… Dr. Mohler is in the background nodding his head. I believe Mr. Piper is sincere and I think he really believes this, but I also personally believe in my opinion the man needs help. That is just my opinion. Mr. Burk seems to be leading in the steps of Mr. Piper. He is also the president of “The Council of biblical manhood and womanhood.” Thank You.

  114. I am going to be looking for a One Mark church over the weekend, They shall know you by your love for one another. Might be a good mark, seemed to work for that Galilean Iterate Preacher.

  115. dee wrote:

    To our readers
    I am on my way to Florida with my family. May be out of touch for a couple of days.

    Have a great time and enjoy the family!

  116. You will never see a ‘tell it to the church’ when it comes to the leadership

    ishy wrote:

    bob wrote:

    I’d be interested in a positive vision for carrying out Matthew 18 from Dee and Deb. If you’ve written anything in that regard, I’d be very interested in seeing it. Also 1 Corinthians 5. What do we do with the “tell it to the church” command and command to expel an immoral brother or sister? Sincerely wondering.

    I think the first place to start is to evenly apply your rules to both churchmember and churchleader. These authoritarian groups excuse many leaders from church discipline. If a church only disciplines members and not leaders, and they do not allow members or elders to initiate the same procedures on other leaders, then they do not really believe church discipline is for the purpose of being biblical (even if they are badly misinterpreting what should earn church discipline). The only reason they have for using church discipline is to keep themselves in control.

    Another very basic rule is that asking questions is not a reason for church discipline. A number of people here have been expelled from their churches for doing just that, even when they only asked the elders questions. The Bereans were a model of asking questions, and praised for it in the Bible. Any Christian leader who tries to shut down all dialogue is doing so for their own selfish reasons.

    I do not believe Matthew 18 is a model for church discipline in the way that many churches use it. “if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector” to me says that you would treat them with the respect and grace you would any non-Christian, not as someone who is shunned or punished. As many hyper-Calvinists do not see the point in treating non-Christians that way because they are not “Elect”, and only respect and interact with those who are “under authority”, I feel that is far away from Christ’s model.

  117. @ Jack:

    “The male guppies dance and the females ignore them.”
    ++++++++++++

    ha, that’s funny. rolling their fishy eyes, i’m sure.

    on the other hand, if i got some guppies do you think my husband would go dancing with me? geez, i haven’t gone out dancing in….. let’s see, i met my husband 22 years ago….. that’d be 22 years.

  118. @ Jack:

    “In the austere world of 9 Marks, it seems that you can’t just enjoy anything for the sake of enjoyment itself….

    It’s like the night sky photo at the top of the post, I can look at it and just wonder at the majesty of it all.”
    ++++++++++++++

    i think this is organized religion in general. and very much christianity. the organizers have a vested interest in making sure their organizing doesn’t unravel — no one wants their efforts to become null, void, & irrelevant. (especially when careers and the rewards of money, power, & significance are dependent on it.)

    and so the industry of religion happens.

    kind of like american cheese — a ‘processed cheese product’ (what a selling point!).

    the american cheese people take wholesome raw ingredients available anywhere and everywhere, and they process the living daylights out of it.

    they subject it to all manner of weird substances and machines, processing out the natural goodness and adding back in synthetic this & that.

    and out comes yellow-orange goo, stamped into shapes and shot into jars and plastic compartments and sold to the pretzel and cracker people and turned into powder and sold to the macaroni people…. who all re-sell it to the masses who all have adjusted their diets to need and want these things.

    a very stupid product that deteriorates people’s health (all nutrition has been removed), and creates many jobs and makes lots of money.

    the industry of religion does the similar things. instead of yellow-orange goo in shapes, compartments and powder it is a message in orations and books and every communication possible:

    God is complicated.

    so you better be concerned and a bit worried and start analyzing and overanalyzing and then subject the results to yet a few more cycles of overanalyzing.

    you’ll be very confused then, but never fear — the organizers are here for you with a wide array of products and services for purchase and for hire to take all your overanalyzed confusion and induced anxiety and calm it down with grids of rules rules & more rules which, like a black hole, suck up more and more of the living of life on earth.

    the net result: it is no longer possible to enjoy something and do something for its own sake. for the fun of it. for the beauty of it. for the wonder of it.

    all is co-opted into the business of answers and explanations and an increasing output of methods and formats to address how complicated God is.

  119. Darlene wrote:

    Who can play the One-upmanship of being the most Fundy of all?

    We’ve seen the same in the “More Islamic than Mohammed” types in the news today.
    The Taliban one-ups the Wahabi,
    Boko Haram one-ups the Taliban,
    Al-Daesh one-ups Boko Haram…

  120. brian wrote:

    I believe Mr. Piper is sincere and I think he really believes this, but I also personally believe in my opinion the man needs help.

    But to Teh Crazy, “Everybody’s out-of-step except My Little Johnny”.

  121. dee wrote:

    To our readers
    I am on my way to Florida with my family. May be out of touch for a couple of days.

    Godspeed and safe transit to you and yours. And for God’s sake watch out for those Burmese pythons!

  122. bob wrote:

    Also 1 Corinthians 5. What do we do with the “tell it to the church” command and command to expel an immoral brother or sister?

    Another positive example, I think– decades ago the pastor just announced that the elders had been working with a man over immorality for which he refused to repent, so he’d been asked to leave until he was willing to do so. No need for a Matt 18 process (not appropriate to this situation), an unbiblical set of “church discipline” procedures, or some ceremony excommunicating him and delivering him to Satan. The man didn’t return to that church, but 30 years later when he passed away, he was found with his Bible open in front of him — hopefully a good sign.

  123. brian wrote:

    you will be either great in eternity or a devil that is the only two choices… being great or a devil…

    Couldn’t bring myself to watch it, but I’m guessing he “borrowed” that from a CS Lewis passage in Mere Christianity. I’m also guessing that among the actually “great in eternity” will be a good number of those people you’ve devoted yourself to helping.

  124. Deb wrote:

    @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:
    There are 11 9Marks churches here in Raleigh – one is just two miles from my home. There are an additional 24 churches in neighboring cities like Durham, Wake Forest, Cary, Apex, and Rolesville that are listed in the 9Marks church directory. Both Sovereign Grace Churches in our area are on that list. No surprise there…
    As some have commented before, this directory may be a big help when searching for a church, if you know what I mean.

    There’s just 1 in our general vicinity (where it snowed yesterday and I’m currently sitting on the deck in my thermal overalls enjoying sunshine on the mountains, birdsong, and wind chimes in a very brisk north breeze). Have been invited to a church in town which is likely Calvinist but won’t know if it’s Calvinista unless I get up the courage to visit.
    The 9Marx pastor in his Point 2 wrote, “He intends for the conflict to divide the church.” IMO, in Protestant land, this sentiment is a cruel joke. He means that Satan intends to further divide a small schism. My small town has 1 LDS Stake House (Steakhouse?). If you’re Mormon, you go there or go nowhere. We have one Catholic church. If you’re Catholic, you go there or go nowhere. But we have 6 protestant divisions (1 is a chapel in the woods some miles from town). We may also have a few protestant home fellowships without websites or buildings. My intention as a “none”, once I get up my courage, will be to visit all of the above (except the steakhouse) every now and then but join– you guessed it– none. Well, my fingers are going to get frostbite if I don’t put my gloves on….

  125. Deb wrote:

    There are 11 9Marks churches here in Raleigh – one is just two miles from my home. There are an additional 24 churches in neighboring cities like Durham, Wake Forest, Cary, Apex, and Rolesville that are listed in the 9Marks church directory.

    And I wonder whose fault that is?? OH WAIT! It must be that beautiful tiny little seminary up in Wake Forest where the cherry trees bloom around the gazebo every spring and insane authoritarians that never went there took it over and decided to remove Christ entirely to raise up waves upon waves of egotistical controlling losers whose theology bares no resemblance to historical Christianity!

  126. elastigirl wrote:

    the american cheese people take wholesome raw ingredients available anywhere and everywhere, and they process the living daylights out of it.

    they subject it to all manner of weird substances and machines, processing out the natural goodness and adding back in synthetic this & that.

    and out comes yellow-orange goo

    I probably read that book. “Authentic church” Just add salt, fat, artificial flavoring, food coloring and preservatives and you can have “real” “exciting” “authentic church” too!!!

  127. elastigirl wrote:

    if i got some guppies do you think my husband would go dancing with me?

    Not sure if guppies would get your husband on the dance floor.

    My wife and I did dance lessons for a while. Nothing fancy, she can easily bust a move, but I wasn’t quite at that level.

    Most people in the class weren’t either so it was a hoot.

  128. elastigirl wrote:

    all is co-opted into the business of answers and explanations and an increasing output of methods and formats to address how complicated God is.

    And business is good. Some people like everything processed for them.

    It shields them from a messy reality.

    Because the world is irrevocably messy so it’s easier to put it all in austere black and white purity.

    So how do we explain the mess? Well God can’t be imperfect so he must do it on purpose. It’s all predestined for his glory.

    So God is a glorious emperor whose throne rests on the ashes of his creation.

    No wonder guys like Piper can’t let folks enjoy pet ownership. No wonder they can be so blase about abuse.

    No joy, no hope, just suffering, for a preening deities glory.

    I’ll take “going to heck” for 500, Alex.

  129. Dave A A wrote:

    Another positive example, I think– decades ago the pastor just announced that the elders had been working with a man over immorality for which he refused to repent, so he’d been asked to leave until he was willing to do so.

    The former governor Robert Bentley of Alabama who was having an affair and he was asked by his pastor to leave their church. So was the other woman.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/19/us/bentley-mason-tuscaloosa-church/

  130. Bill M wrote:

    you can have “real” “exciting” “authentic church” too!!!

    This is worrysome. For several generations, people have parked their little ones in front of television sets, so the ‘conditioning’ has been accomplished that they should become consummate passive consumers of excitement …. at every level of their little lives, asking for more and more stimulation in the form of ‘excitement’. Enter the wolves, the big auditoriums, the theater cushioned seats, the smoke-machines for the big stages, the slick ‘praise bands’ blasting their sound systems to ensure that those old seniors are given the message that they no longer belong. And out struts the ‘star’ of the show in cool spiky hair, tight jeans, and with enough ego for ten of his ilk.

    So people leave this place spiritually renewed? Or does that happen at the local Cracker Barrel down the road where they finally participate in a prayer together of asking God’s blessing and giving thanks for His abundance before tucking into their pancakes ? ?

    I remember the stories of Diana, Princess of Wales, taking her boys with her when they were very young as she visited people who were ill or lived in poverty. She knew. I remember at school, being assigned to volunteer in different settings as a teenager: tutoring the littles at a ghetto school, working with the mentally-challenged at St. Mary’s, Saturday morning Candy Striper duty, taking the orphans at St. Mary’s to visit the city zoo …. small experential steps towards an awareness of that for which there are no words

    Meaningful? yes
    Exciting, Entertaining? never that,
    but these early sojourning experiences were definitely in the realm of an authentically humane Christianity

  131. Christiane wrote:

    authentically humane Christianity

    I just got home from a memorial for a Christian man who selflessly served his wife and family, church youth, community homeless, at-risk teens, cancer patients and others in hospice for 45 years. He never published a book or pastored a church, but everyone there had story after story about how he had loved them, served them, blessed them. God bless and keep the quiet ones in this age of noisy celebrity.

  132. Jenny wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    authentically humane Christianity

    I just got home from a memorial for a Christian man who selflessly served his wife and family, church youth, community homeless, at-risk teens, cancer patients and others in hospice for 45 years. He never published a book or pastored a church, but everyone there had story after story about how he had loved them, served them, blessed them. God bless and keep the quiet ones in this age of noisy celebrity.

    Amen to that blessing.

    What a beautiful tribute to a Christian man who LIVED his faith.

  133. Jenny wrote:

    He never published a book or pastored a church, but everyone there had story after story about how he had loved them, served them, blessed them. God bless and keep the quiet ones in this age of noisy celebrity.

    Lovely story, Jenny.

  134. Christiane wrote:

    so the ‘conditioning’ has been accomplished that they should become consummate passive consumers of excitement …. at every level of their little lives, asking for more and more stimulation in the form of ‘excitement’.

    Remember the Cenobites of the Hellraiser movies?
    Always searching for more and more “sensation”?
    In the utter boredom of Hell?

  135. Jack wrote:

    So how do we explain the mess? Well God can’t be imperfect so he must do it on purpose. It’s all predestined for his glory.

    So God is a glorious emperor whose throne rests on the ashes of his creation.

    http://i0.wp.com/www.nakedpastor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/achievement.jpg

    No wonder guys like Piper can’t let folks enjoy pet ownership. No wonder they can be so blase about abuse.

    No joy, no hope, just suffering, for a preening deities glory.

    A God who does nothing but snap & upload Selfie after Selfie after Selfie of His Glory.

    And having a God like that explains the Pied Piper’s flowery word salad — with a ruler like that, laying on the flattery with a trowel is how you stay alive, and laying on the flattery with a firehose is how you advance over the other courtiers.

  136. elastigirl wrote:

    the american cheese people take wholesome raw ingredients available anywhere and everywhere, and they process the living daylights out of it.

    they subject it to all manner of weird substances and machines, processing out the natural goodness and adding back in synthetic this & that.

    and out comes yellow-orange goo

    Pasteurized Processed Cheese Food(TM).
    As synthetic as Brown-25 from Uranus Corporation (Groove Tube reference).

  137. Christiane wrote:

    For several generations, people have parked their little ones in front of television sets, so the ‘conditioning’ has been accomplished that they should become consummate passive consumers of excitement …. at every level of their little lives, asking for more and more stimulation in the form of ‘excitement’

    CALVIN: What does “Religion is the opiate of the masses” mean?
    CALVIN’S TV SET: It means Karl Marx hadn’t seen anything yet.

  138. brian wrote:

    I am going to be looking for a One Mark church over the weekend, They shall know you by your love for one another.

    The only mark that counts! Brian, I pray you find that church … a fellowship of men, women and children so united in love and faith that God can truly work in them and through them. That was the overriding characteristic of the early church and should still be our model today. In our efforts to “do church” today we have lost touch with what Church is to be. Indeed, you will know them by their love. You might find such folks clustered in one body of believers, or more likely discover them meeting as ‘the’ Church within the church. May God lead you to them in your area.

  139. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Pasteurized Processed Cheese Food(TM).

    Full disclosure: I love grilled cheese sandwiches — all kinds!

    2nd full disclosure: I also love Macaroni and Cheese (from a box or homemade). When I have time to make a homemade sauce, I use three or four kinds of cheese in it and a splash of hot sauce for good measure.

  140. Velour wrote:

    Full disclosure: I love grilled cheese sandwiches — all kinds!

    Full disclosure, I’ve indulged in an occasional bag of cheetos, but that has nothing to do with cheese.

  141. Bill M wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    Full disclosure: I love grilled cheese sandwiches — all kinds!
    Full disclosure, I’ve indulged in an occasional bag of cheetos, but that has nothing to do with cheese.

    Me too. And washed that caked on orange off my finger tips.

  142. @ Lea:

    i can’t bare to say it, but it’s the reason i like Fuddruckers. drippin’ down the sides of that burger.

  143. Jerome wrote:

    The Internet Archive reveals that the guys of TheGospelCoalition originally called themselves the “Stakeholders” (They’ve since dropped that odd title):

    Well, well. Mark Driscoll and C J Mahaney are “stakeholders”???
    Count me out.

  144. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Lea:
    i can’t bare to say it, but it’s the reason i like Fuddruckers. drippin’ down the sides of that burger.

    Yes! All the Fuddruckers near me have closed now, making me a sad bear. I liked making mine a drippy cheesy burger too.

  145. __

    “GO Fish?”

    “The saddest aspect of these incidents is that 9 Marks and Mark Dever refuse to open themselves to an in-depth case study on what is going wrong. They suggest that these churches are not doing discipline correctly but they can do nothing about it. However, they welcome anyone to be a *9 Marks church* on their website. I contend their organization holds some moral responsibility if it allows such churches to post their names on their website.” -Dee Parsons

    hmmm…

    Mark Dever: “The 9 Marks 501(c)3 organization is not a denomination.”

    Q. What Does…9Marks Really Do?

    They apparently do everything they can to ‘HELP’ pastors, future pastors, and church members see what a Reformed/Calvinist church should look like, and to take practical steps for becoming one. They also write Reformed/Calvinist books, articles, and book reviews. They host Reformed/Calvinist conferences, record interviews, and consult with church leaders. They publish a Reformed/Calvinist journal that aims to equip pastors with Reformed Theology (Calvinism) -their tools for their trade…

    Moral responsibility is probably a gray area, huh?

    ATB

    Sopy

  146. ___

    “Is the Religious Organization You Are Attending Legit?”

    hmmm…

    Apparently, 9 Marks is a part of a growing para-church group of religious scammers (such as TGC, T4G) using an extreme stealth form of Calvinism to take over not for profit church properties. They invite an individual to a seminar (mind control camp) where they proceed to educate (brain wash) them into buying their program (scam). If they are successful, these individuals will be recruited, as well, to push this extremely damaging stuff, and ultimately take legal possession of your church building.

    Beware!

    Sopy

    __
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=weuKdI5-uXs

  147. __

    Identifying Sheeple “Religious Immaturity?”

    hmmm…

    These religious leaders (thugs) believe if you are not inundated with Calvinism 101 to the gills, you exhibit ‘immaturity’.

    (or no Christianity at all)

    huh?

    Calvinism 101, as they present it by s religious (stealthy) means is a body of systematic theology summarized by the TULIP. This is the ‘theology’ that these para & church groups such as TGC, T4G, 9Marks, and Acts29 , some SBC Baptist, and PCA church staffs adhere to and present to their ‘willing’ (ignorant) members (subjects)..

    What?!?

    Under the cloak of ” The Sovereignty Of God”, they propagate the very essence of a false process of Salvation – itself a most powerful deception.

    KRUNCH !

    They are trying to spread a false gospel called TULIP.

    They go after individuals and congregations that are ignorant of their tactics. They ultimately attempt to take possession of your church property …at your expense. They seam kind and legit at first.

    (Bump)

    This system of Calvinism 101 itself adheres to a very high view of Calvin’s ICR :

    http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/Calvin%20Institutes%20of%20Christian%20Religion.pdf

    and seeks to derive its theological formulations based ultimately upon John Calvin’s words in that document.

    —> Yet the writings of John Calvin focused on the writings of Augustine for his theology, and NOT upon scripture itself.

    Gump?

    The following are the five points of Calvinism listed, explained, and supported with the usual scripture they use:

    1. Total Depravity – Man is completely touched/affected by sin in all that he is (in nature he is completely fallen), but is not as bad as he could be (in action, i.e., not all murder, etc.). Furthermore, this total depravity means that the unregenerate will not, of their own free will, choose to receive Christ.
    1. It is the unbeliever who is deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9), full of evil (Mark 7:21-23), loves darkness rather than light and does evil (John 3:19), does not seek for God nor does any good (Rom. 3:10-12), is ungodly (Rom. 5:6), dead in his sins (Eph. 2:1), by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3), cannot accept or understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14), and a slave of sin (Rom. 6:16-20).
    2. Unconditional Election – God elects a person based upon nothing in that person because there is nothing in him that would make him worthy of being chosen; rather, God’s election is based on what is in God. God chose us because he decided to bestow his love and grace upon us, not because we are worthy, in and of ourselves, of being saved.
    1. Election is the sovereign act of God where, from before the foundation of the world, he chose those whom he would save (Eph. 1:4). This election to salvation is not conditioned upon any foreseen faith (Rom. 9:16) or good works of any individual (Rom. 9:11; 2 Tim. 1:9). The election is based completely on God’s sovereign choice according to the kind intention of his will (Eph. 1:11). God chose the elect because he decided to bestow his love upon them (John 3:16; Eph. 2:4) based solely on his sovereign grace (Gal. 1:15) and for his glory (Isaiah 43:7).
    3. Limited Atonement – Christ bore the sin only of the elect, not everyone who ever lived.
    1. Christ’s blood was sufficient for all, but not all sin was imputed to Christ. Christ’s blood is sufficient to cover all people. But the sufficiency relates to his divine value which is different than our legal debt. Sin is a debt (Matt. 6:12 with Luke 11:4) since it is breaking the Law of God (1 John 3:4). In limited atonement Calvinists are saying that there was a limit to whose sins were imputed to Christ in a legal sense. They are not denying the sufficiency of Christ’s blood to cover all people. Instead, they look at the legal aspect of the sin debt. Peoples’ sin debts were transferred to Jesus (1 Pet. 2:24) and were cancelled on the cross, not when we believe (Col. 2:14). Therefore, legally speaking, those cancelled sins cannot be held against the sinner because their quality of being a debt has been cancelled by being paid on the cross (John 19:30; Col. 2:14). If the debt is cancelled, it does not exist and cannot be held against the debtor/sinner. Therefore, Christ only legally bore the sins of the elect even though his blood was sufficient to cover all.  Also, consider 1 Sam. 3:14 which says, “Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
    4. Irresistible Grace – The term unfortunately suggests a mechanical and coercive force upon an unwilling subject. This is not the case. Instead, it is the act of God making the person willing to receive him. It does not mean that a person cannot resist God’s will.  It means that when God moves to the save/regenerate a person, the sinner cannot thwart God’s movement and he will be regenerated
    1. God moves the heart of the person where he wishes it to go (Proverbs 21:1). The choice and mercy of God depends on God’s desire, not man’s ability (Romans 9:18).
    5. Perseverance of the Saints – That we are so secure in Christ, that we cannot fall away.
    1. Jesus will not lose any who had been given to him by the Father (John 6:38-39); he get eternal life to them so they will never perish (John 3:16; 10:27-28), and those who leave the faith whenever believers to begin with (1 John 2:19).

    Summary:

    John Calvin, taking liberally from Augustine’s writings wrote of God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. He also maintained that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines select people into salvation; that Jesus died ONLY for those predestined; that God regenerates ONLY those predestined individuals ,where they are then able and willing to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are of the predestined redeemed to lose their salvation.

    This is John Calvin’s/Augustine’s ‘delightful’ gospel in a nutshell.

    Sinners beware?

    Remember, in their playbook, ‘mature’ Christians are indoctrinated as ‘good’ widdle Calvinists.

    Toddle-on brothers & sisters, your religious masters are calling…

    hahahahahaha

    They want you to ‘help’ them plant ‘their’ tulips…

    (sadface)

    Sopy


    https://carm.org/what-is-tulip-in-calvinism
    http://www.newcalvinist.com/who-are-the-new-calvinists-part-1/
    http://www.newcalvinist.com/who-are-the-new-calvinists-part-2/

  148. Preacher’s Wife wrote:

    “Remember: you are a bad person. Often in leadership conflict, the opposition makes vague allegations against a pastor. Lacking a smoking gun like adultery or embezzlement, they focus on issues like pride, impatience, or anger, arguing the pastor is unfit for ministry. But the gospel frees us to turn the other cheek”

    I get that people mock this one, but it hits pretty close to home. From my limited experience (in very non-calvinist churches) we are almost always the last to know if there is a problem with us. For some reason people will spend months talking to others about us before we even realize there is a conflict. The last conflict we had an elder ended up resigning, but we still have not been told why he and his family disliked us so much. The typical complaints against preachers, again from my limited experience, has been either “they don’t do anything” or “we’re just not growing spiritually.” The last one came from a kid who barely attended church and admitted he never read the Bible or prayed. So yes, preachers get vague criticisms frequently. And I cannot adequately describe how hurtful and anxiety producing it is when you spend the majority of your time praying for the church, thinking about the church, going to the hospital at 5 in the morning for the church, working 22 days straight for the church, only to have people complain that there aren’t enough stories in the sermon, or that you told a joke over a year ago and someone is still offended.

    I’m not defending any celebrity preacher, I don’t really have the patience for celebrity. Just don’t throw every pastor under the bus, some really are called and take their job seriously.

    Yes it is frustrating and difficult. But it comes with the job that you chose to enter. Same as any job. I’m a 3rd generation ministry kid. My grandpa pastored for 50 years. He was, IMO, one of the best pastors I’ve ever seen in action. He never once complained about the people he dealt with. Sometimes he’d shake his head and sigh, but he’d plow on. He never had an agenda to mold people a certain way in his church. He preached, called, visited, did tons of charity and left people alone otherwise. one of the last things he told me before he died was that peoe will always let you down bit Jesus won’t. So in ministry and in life, focus on Jesus and just love the people but don’t hold them under rules or expectations.

    I’ve really struggled in church ever since he died because I have yet to see a church run like the one I spent the first 20 years of my life in.

  149. The problem with 9 Marks is that they take their interruption of God’s words above common sense. The way they see it:

    1) Here is what God said in the bible.
    2) Here is how we (9 Marks) interpret what God said. And it is right.
    3) If there are problems with our 9 Mark system, it is because people applied our system wrongly. But there is nothing wrong with our system.

    Their faith in #2 and 3 is the core of their problems. People applies the 9 Mark system wrongly. But there is nothing wrong with 9 Marks. Because 9 Marks is the correct interpretation of God’s word. And God’s word is law.

    But a critical outsider can easily see that #2 and # 3 are both flawed. 9 Marks might very well have misinterpreted the bible. And as such the 9 Marks system might be flawed and needs modifications and improvements. But the 9 Marks people are so proud of their system they cannot see it.

    On the note of abusive discipline, I will link another story. This one isn’t related to 9 Marks, but a school. I think it highlights the problem of when authority gets into our heads.

    http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-thursday-edition-1.4131044/it-hurts-says-pregnant-maryland-teen-barred-from-attending-her-high-school-graduation-1.4131053

    This is a tricky situation for this Christian school. The sin itself is clear (as per the Bible). But I don’t think they handled it correctly.

    I read the letter from the school. No where did it even mentioned the word repentance or restoration out of love. It appears that the school never even bothered asking her to repent of her immorality, where she could have chosen to repent or not, and jumped straight into punishment. It does appear that the school is punishing the sin of immorality just for the sake of punishing it, to use her as an example to others. And the repentance from this teenager is an afterthought, at best, or forgotten altogether at worst.

    She is right in saying the school’s action encourages abortion. That is if she just aborts her baby before any of these come to light, no one would even care and she won’t even face any discipline. But aborting that healthy baby would be an even greater sin. And the school, in focusing so much on punishing and forgetting about the repentance, totally missed out on the Gospel message.

    On the the teenager’s side, she didn’t sound very repentant. Not once did she said she was sorry for her sexual immorality. But I cannot totally blame her. If even the school forgot about repentance, how would she remember? The way she sees it she is keeping her baby as a teenager, which would be “relatively” the Christian thing to do. And the school is punishing her for it.

    In a culture with so little grace and mercy, no one is going to confess. Everyone will just hide and pretend, because it is much easier that way. This is the origin of hypocrisy. And we see that in many churches today.

    The church should represent the love of Christ. Any discipline must be done out of love. But when church go right for punishment and forget about repentance, they are lying when they call this love. Because in their heart they delight in punishment, not grace and mercy. Meanwhile they hide their own sins from others and never confess them. And this is hypocrisy.

    So the whole purpose of the disciplinary process got missed. I just hope she do not stop hating God over this. But if she does, I hope this is a lesson for other Christians.

  150. The following video will save many people from spiritual abuse…

    https://youtu.be/QcBshoSMNrg?list=PLAskcQf_UiNbyhj-0yaKaPyjbxe3n6Hab

    FWIW, I’ve been saying this for many years…even over at Julie Anne’s blog years ago. At that time, it seemed to just go over people’s heads, and I was scratching mine, wondering why no one is listening.

    But this is coming from a pastor. So, hopefully, someone will listen, and pass it on.

    Ed Chapman

  151. @ Christiane:
    I am so exhausted by being told, by the new second pastor who just joined the church I have been going to for ages, that I am a bad person, that we all are! Moat of those in my church came to the Lord as adults so hay, guess what, we know as our natural selves we’re lost e.t.c.you seriously do not need to keep rubbing our noses in it!

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