The #1 Thing to Look for When Joining a Church – Great Advice from Wade Burleson

"A church is worth joining if the message emphasized is God's love for sinners in Christ rather than a sinner's love for God by commitment."
 
 

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These are frustrating times in the Body of Christ because finding a church worth joining has become a daunting task. Not only do our brothers and sisters in Christ have to worry about the soteriology being embraced by various congregations, but they have to concern themselves with whether or not to sign a membership covenant.

Recently, Wade Burleson, our EChurch pastor, published a post that we believe you will find encouraging, and we are sharing it here with Wade's blessing. 


The #1 Thing to Look for When Joining a Church (link)

Wade Burleson

http://www.wadeburleson.org/2017/05/the-1-thing-to-look-for-when-joining.htmlI am often asked, "What's the best way to know whether or not a church is worth joining?"

My answer often surprises people. The measure of the greatness of a church is not seen in the size of the church, nor the missions emphasis, nor the children's or youth programs, nor the style of worship. 
 
Nope. Not at all.
 
Neither is it measured by the kind of church governance (e.g. elders, congregational, etc.) nor by the relevant ways the church seeks to make an impact in the community. 
 
A church is worth joining if the message emphasized is God's love for sinners in Christ rather than a sinner's love for God by commitment.
 
Think about that for a moment. 
 
If a person's love for God is always emphasized to the neglect of God's love for persons; or if one is constantly challenged to be "fully devoted to God" rather than the glorious gospel of "God being fully devoted" to His people in Jesus Christ, or if a person's love for God is always questioned and compared to another person's love for God (especially those who lead) through a verbal "measuring of each other's personal holiness," then you should put on those proverbial sneakers and run from that church as fast as possible.
 
Church leaders who feel it their duty to "get people to love God more" by controlling the movies they see or the books they read or the tertiary doctrines they believe is church leadership that has gone astray. When there is more of an emphasis on the covenant you sign to join a church than the covenant God sealed when He gave you His Son, then you've entered a land of law, not liberty. 
 
In the New Testament, the emphasis is always about God's love for sinners in Christ. When sinners are captivated and overwhelmed by the unconditional, eternal, and transformational love of God in Jesus Christ, we sinners come to a place of personal liberty to "love others as Christ loves us." 
 
Listen to John in I John 4:7-11:

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.

The above passage contains an inviolable principle of relationships that many churches miss.

We are only at liberty to love other people as Christ loves us when the emphasis of gospel preaching is about God's love for us in Christ.

So next time you consider a church home, listen closely to the words of the person on the platform. Those who spend more time controlling and directing the conduct of the people than championing and declaring the love of God toward people in Christ are showing tell-tale signs of a pervasive belief in their "spiritual authority" over people rather than their "gifted service" to people.

The Truth will set you free.


Comments

The #1 Thing to Look for When Joining a Church – Great Advice from Wade Burleson — 229 Comments

  1. “So next time you consider a church home, listen closely to the words of the person on the platform. Those who spend more time controlling and directing the conduct of the people than championing and declaring the love of God toward people in Christ are showing tell-tale signs of a pervasive belief in their “spiritual authority” over people rather than their “gifted service” to people.”

    This.

  2. if a Church teaches it’s little ones ‘Jesus loves you’; and if a Church stands at the bedside of its dying to assure them that God is with them now and evermore; and
    if a Church is not above the blessing of the animals;

    if a Church takes loving care of its little ones and its elderly; and
    if a Church is kind to the people in it who have been broken and wounded from sin and suffering;

    then
    the Church is likely to be focusing on Christ, Who did the same, when He was among us

  3. The two greatest commandments: 1) Love God, 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. If a church is so bent on #1 that it is willing to sacrifice #2 to accomplish it, it’s not worth attending.

  4. __

    “The #1 Thing to Look for When Joining a Church?”

    hmmm…

    Hefty Hermeneutics: “The Theological Biggie, Perhaps?”

    Q. How to know a 501(c)3 church is pushing Calvinism?

    huh?

    Ask the pastor this single proverbial ‘smoking gun’ question:

    Q. Do you use the ‘grammatical historical hermeneutic’ (GHH) , or the ‘redemptive historical hermeneutic’ (RHH)?”

    What?

    If the pastor ‘admits’ that he is RHH, he is a NC. (Neo/New Calvinist)

    If the pastor refuses to answer the question, he is a NC.

    CAUTIONARY NOTICE: If he is NC, he will ‘know’ the very second you asked that question that he does not want you in his church.
    __
    (RHH)
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redemptive-historical_preaching

    (GHH)
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical-grammatical_method

  5. Excellent advice! Jesus said essentially the same thing in John 13:34-35. Love (for Him and each other) is the hallmark of His church!

  6. I grew up in a denomination that stressed what clothes you wore, what you could and could not do. If you wanted to be a Sunday School teacher, you had to go to Thursday night visitation. I often trailed along with my mom on these visits. I did learn a lot from that though. Did we ever make any difference in the visitations. I pray that we did. Later on this denomination relaxed its rules some. Mostly because the younger group was rebelling.

    Wade – thank you for these wise words. So many people need to hear this. I am so tired of hearing what a terrible sinner I am, rather than God so loved the world. He loves me more than I can ever imagine. He loves you and me. Enough said.

  7. Sadly many people have left the faith feeling they are just not good enough, instead of realizing that is why Jesus died for us and His love is unfailing and we are His beloved.
    After 35 years of my husband being in full time ministry I struggle with the direction of Jesus beloved church. It is now a business, instead of a loving group of people. The pastor is now a CEO, with amazing ability to sway people with his great public speaking.
    Thanks Wade for reminding me that all is not lost.

  8. Steve Scott wrote:

    The two greatest commandments: 1) Love God, 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. If a church is so bent on #1 that it is willing to sacrifice #2 to accomplish it, it’s not worth attending.

    Well said, Steve S.

  9. lynn wrote:

    The pastor is now a CEO

    And in some of these Calvinista churches the library is now the bookstore. Each of those kinds of churches is a profit center.

  10. @ Deb:

    I was reading the other day about one of the major Silicon Valley tech giants who are currently the topic of considerable controversy surrounding the culture of aggression, bullying and power struggles.

    This appears to be increasingly prevalent, and there’s a theory that explains this very well. It used to be the case that the tech industry attracted a diverse crowd of innovators and people who were really good at making things; tech wasn’t cool, and these people weren’t cool either. They loved what they did, though, and often they loved working on challenges together. But over time, the tech companies started to change the world, and in the process, generate a lot of money. They also became cool. As a result, they started to attract people who wanted money, sex and power. People, in other words, who delighted less in solving complex problems than in controlling others and thrusting themselves to the top of the heap by hook or by crook.

    It strikes me that much organised religion in the US has gone the same way: it has become cool and rich enough to attract the attention of corporate America. Now, bullying and thrusting aggression are celebrated as great qualities in the pulpit; men (and, to a lesser extent, women) like this have forced themselves into churches and converted them into power bases for their own social and economic empires. Neo-Calvinism is, IOW, simply corporate America cashing in on the Jesus brand, and the mass appeal of offering certainty.

  11. The blog post in question is here.

    The things the author describes – protection of favoured “high-performing” employees, dishonesty, victim-blaming, and many others, all struck a chord with me, because I realised how often I had read about those things in conjunction with church settings.

    Deceitful church takeovers and spiritual abuse, and this kind of toxic corporate culture, share a common ancestor…

  12. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    The blog post in question is here.
    The things the author describes – protection of favoured “high-performing” employees, dishonesty, victim-blaming, and many others, all struck a chord with me, because I realised how often I had read about those things in conjunction with church settings.
    Deceitful church takeovers and spiritual abuse, and this kind of toxic corporate culture, share a common ancestor…

    Interesting observation…..off to read the link.

  13. We talk a lot about the New Calvinist movement on TWW, particularly the YRR army that is wreaking havoc in the church. Consider the following passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 … do the new reformers pass the love test?

    “It is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage.”

  14. Wow. Isn’t that true. There’s a cult group active in my community and I can tell when a young person has been interacting with them: The young person suddenly get judgmental and critical to his/her younger brothers and sisters for not being serious about God.

  15. __

    No Regrets: “The #1 Thing Calvinists Look for When Joining a Church? [part1]”

    hmmm… (The Calvinist answer often surprises people.)

    Ans: Those that do not challenge the confession of God’s particular, exclusive love for His elect. That those who believe otherwise, wish to overthrow the Reformed doctrine of predestination, limited atonement, total depravity, effectual grace, and the preservation of saints (which is a way of saying, salvation by grace alone — the gospel).

    __

  16. __

    No Regrets: “”The #1 Thing Calvinists Look for When Joining a Church? [part2]”

    hmmm… (The Calvinist answer often surprises people.)

    Ans. That God so loved the world________________ (Jn. 3:16) means:

    Only God points people to Christ.
    Only God chooses people for salvation.
    Only those who God gives the gift of faith, can ‘believe’.
    Therefore only those who [are chosen to] ‘believe’ have an appointment to eternal life.

  17. Longtime lurker, first time to comment. Thank you for this post! I grew up in a very solid, wonderful church, and then married an Air Force pilot. We just moved to California after him being in South Korea for a year and our son and I living back in my hometown and going to my home church. Finding a new church has been feeling intimidating because I’m so much more aware (thanks to this blog and others) of the kinds of abuses that happen in all kinds of churches, including those with theology we would mostly agree with. But this is an encouraging reminder of what’s really essential! I am going to share this with my husband.

  18. We just returned from a visit to the area of SE NM where I grew up.

    That little country Baptist church could not care less back then if it grew or not. Simple job was to proclaim the need for and way to find salvation. It was not unduly harsh even though you would hear about sin every week. Not the hyper fundy slobbering spitting how awful we all are way of preaching, but the reminder that even our RIGHTEOUSNESSES are filthy rags in God’s sight. Simply no one will ever be perfect OR work their way to heaven.

    It was more a message taken from that week’s news of “yeah, so people are doing really dumb stuff. What do you expect broken people to do BUT dumb stuff? Yeah, dumb stuff hurts us, hurts our neighbor, and hurts God. You can try not to do dumb stuff in your own strength, but let us know how that works out for ya. Can’t be did was one favorite phrase. But it wasn’t a harangue, just a descriptive time leading–glory!–to the main part of the sermon, which was ALWAYS about Jesus, His love for poor sinners, what He did at the Cross, what He will do for us now, and what He will do for us in the future and eternity. And yes, we had an altar call, done non manipulatively rather than the current tendency to use mind science and music to get us moving. Just a simple offer to come and pray and meet Jesus and be saved.

    And it grew. Like gangbusters. Without anyone moving the cheese, the pulpit, giving us easy translations or how to do simple church or be driven by our purpose or just walk across the room. Not one preacher ever came in and complained about our music, our pews, our parking layout, that we still had SS and TU, or that we had to change or die.

    Some were landmarkers, some Calvinists, some dispensationalists, some just plain Baptists, one had primitive leanings and one had free will Baptist leanings.

    But our job was seeing folks saved, and we got’er done. Also produced a few preachers and missionaries and leaders of the convention to boot.

    We had no creed but the Bible, no King but Jesus, thought teaching storehouse tithing was sin, were mostly all volunteer including often the preachers.

    And if I ever find that kind of SBC church again I just might rejoin.

  19. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Now, bullying and thrusting aggression are celebrated as great qualities in the pulpit; men (and, to a lesser extent, women) like this have forced themselves into churches and converted them into power bases for their own social and economic empires. Neo-Calvinism is, IOW, simply corporate America cashing in on the Jesus brand, and the mass appeal of offering certainty.

    Spot on, Nick.

    I refer to many of these NeoCalvinist “pastors” (cough) as franchise owners, like our local convenience stores here in America such as 7-11.

  20. Janey wrote:

    There’s a cult group active in my community and I can tell when a young person has been interacting with them: The young person suddenly get judgmental and critical to his/her younger brothers and sisters for not being serious about God.

    i.e. Goes Cage Phase and won’t come out of his cage of Righteousness.

    “Oh, I was so much older then —
    I’m younger than that now…”

  21. Velour wrote:

    I refer to many of these NeoCalvinist “pastors” (cough) as franchise owners

    Great analogy! They definitely are all about marketing and selling their brand. It’s all about perpetuating the reformed movement by establishing cooking-cutter franchises of the same theological error.

  22. My home church did a lot of crazy making: The sermon would start with humility — “we are all sinners and we make a lot of mistakes” and gravitated to how we were better than other people because we took our faith seriously and they didn’t.

  23. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    It strikes me that much organised religion in the US has gone the same way: it has become cool and rich enough to attract the attention of corporate America. Now, bullying and thrusting aggression are celebrated as great qualities in the pulpit; men (and, to a lesser extent, women) like this have forced themselves into churches and converted them into power bases for their own social and economic empires. Neo-Calvinism is, IOW, simply corporate America cashing in on the Jesus brand, and the mass appeal of offering certainty.

    Wow. Great comment, NICK.

    much to think about here, yes, especially about the emphasis on ‘security’ as a synonym for ‘salvation’

    ‘Security’ and ‘Salvation’ have not walked together in the two-thousand years of the faith before;
    if anything, in ancient days, and even in our modern times, to be ‘Christian’ is to put oneself ‘out there’ for others in the self-giving ways that are far from secure in the modernist sense, yes

    How our worldly ways have been absorbed into ‘The Way’ in subtle and reassuring fashion so as to give the appearance of eternal security ‘guaranteed’ without any of the risk that comes from standing up for what is right OR abandoning loyalty to earthly tyrants. For some of us, that brand of ‘security’ is far from ‘salvation’ indeed.

  24. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Nick, are you familiar with an American company called ‘Amway’?

    It employs techniques and ‘beliefs’ that combine certain ‘values’ seen in conservative Christian circles together with ‘high-performance’ rewards for those who are ‘productive’ in the business of making profits.

    One of the co-founders is Rich DeVos, father-in-law of Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary appointed by Trump. The DeVos family and Betsy’s family, the Princes (her brother is Eric Prince of ‘Blackwater’ fame) are deep into the blending of heavy religious belief and commercial enterprises to make profits.

    I am told that the pep rallies of such people are quasi-business-religious experiences, so intensely interwoven as to conflate the religious beliefs and the money-making drives beyond recognition as separate entities. This reeks of the old extremely right wing conservative ‘christian’ teachings of Doug Coe who was exposed by Jeff Sharlet some decades ago. Doug Coe used Stalin, Hitler, and Mao Tse Tung as examples of great leadership in that they were able to get their followers to exhibit ‘loyalty’ without questioning leadership.

    It’s a strange wedding scene when hyper capitalism marries hyper Calvinism. ‘Red’ wedding? Or do we just watch as the money begins to flow from the union like a river flowing out of hell?

  25. Deb wrote:

    lynn wrote:
    The pastor is now a CEO
    And in some of these Calvinista churches the library is now the bookstore. Each of those kinds of churches is a profit center.

    And the sanctuary is billed as an excellent concert venue…

  26. If anyone wants to see the ‘difference’ between the self-serving neo-Calvinist male-headship theology and the ‘reformed’ Church of the Netherlands;
    I recommend watching the film ‘The Hiding Place’ about the family of Corrie and Betsey ten Boom who risked their lives hiding Jews from the Nazis in Holland during WWII.

    There is no question in my mind that neo-Cal teachings are a perversion of Christianity. And they CANNOT be compared to the reformed faith of the Christian people of Holland who hid Jews from certain death at the hands of Nazis, and who were themselves sometimes captured and taken to the death camps.

    Neo-Cals cannot ‘hide’ under the word ‘reformed’, no. There is too much evidence to the honorable Christianity of the Dutch reformed and too much evidence of the brutality of the neo-Cals towards the innocent women they have persecuted.

    There IS no ‘comparison’. Only contrast.

  27. @ Meredithwiggle:

    So glad you chimed in! Wade has a wonderful way with words. If we collectively stopped attending churches lacking in the kind of love the Bible describes, we could easily stop the authoritarianism that is plaguing our churches.

  28. Christiane wrote:

    Nick, are you familiar with an American company called ‘Amway’?

    … sadly, yes (though only through what I’ve read). Amway, and similar, are the other side of the Mars Hill coin, one might say; both use religious techniques to maintain brand loyalty, although only one actually uses religion as the monetised product.

  29. Christiane wrote:

    This reeks of the old extremely right wing conservative ‘christian’ teachings of Doug Coe…

    Oddly enough, I had a friend called Doug Coe in Cambridge. Not the same person, I must add – couldn’t have been more different, in fact.

  30. Excellent summary. My IFB churches/schools from my past would deny they emphasized ” a sinner’s love for God by commitment”, but in practice they did!!!
    They only thing I would add to the OP above is don’t let church leaders try to tell which of two they are, let their practice tell you!! They are all great talkers, and very good at redefining words…. but the ulimate way they treat the sheep will tell you..

  31. Excellent summary. My IFB churches/schools from my past would deny they emphasized ” a sinner’s love for God by commitment”, but in practice they did!!!
    They only thing I would add to the OP above is don’t let church leaders try to tell which of the two they are, let their practice tell you!! They are all great talkers, and very good at redefining words…. but the ulimate way they treat the sheep will tell you..

  32. Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:

    but the ulimate way they treat the sheep will tell you..

    especially the ‘sheep’ who are vulnerable, unable to contribute money, in need of help, fragile, elderly, alone without support, and very, very broken

    saw a REAL minister once in an emergency room:
    he spent time with a mentally-unbalanced man listening to the man’s garbled disconnected speech, and praying with the man until the man fell asleep peacefully

    no words can tell how I KNEW this was ‘the real deal’ but there it was:
    there was before me an example of how Our Lord would have been with that poor confused man suffering on that gurney who had nothing and no one

    yeah, look for how the poorest, sickest, shabbyest sheep are treated …. and there you will see the truth

  33. Deb wrote:

    What a great analogy…

    I respectfully beg to differ – it’s a wrenchingly sad analogy. Though, having quoted you slightly out of context, I suspect we are of the same mind here.

  34. linda wrote:

    Not the hyper fundy slobbering spitting how awful we all are way of preaching, but the reminder that even our RIGHTEOUSNESSES are filthy rags in God’s sight.

    One of the most misused and abused verses (Isaiah 64:6) in all of Protestantism.

  35. Great post.

    The sinner’s love of God measured by his commitment to God is then *conveniently* measured by the sinner’s compliance with the System, whatever that System is.

  36. Velour wrote:

    I refer to many of these NeoCalvinist “pastors” (cough) as franchise owners, like our local convenience stores here in America such as 7-11.

    I’d bet the sheep are fed better at the 7-11, even if they just waddle out with Jolt Cola and a pack of Pop Rocks.

  37. Part of the problem is the whole sheep analogy.

    To the agrarian society that Jesus was addressing, sheep had value. To the shepherd, the sheep represented his reason for being.

    Some of today’s pastors see the sheep as worthless. Dumb animals to be used.

    Never mind the fact that they have elevated themselves to the position that really only belongs to Jesus himself if you consider all of Christianity the flock.

  38. This is good. This is why, though I’m Reformed and for church membership, won’t walk back into a 9 Marks church again.

  39. Jack wrote:

    Part of the problem is the whole sheep analogy.

    To the agrarian society that Jesus was addressing, sheep had value. To the shepherd, the sheep represented his reason for being.

    I concur. Another shibboleth is the whole inspired, inerrant, infallible thing. Well yeah okay, if you (generic you) wanna’ go that route, but they’re all loaded terms and rarely will any two evangelicals come to any agreement on the terms. The multitude of sects, fellowships, and Bible believing churches can’t even agree on the color of dog doo-doo much less doctrinal consistency.
    I think a better question than trying to untie the gordian knot of inerrancy and all the inevitable baggage dredged up with it, is to simply ask:
    How much of that stuff do you (again, generic you) wanna’ Huey (helicopter) out of that way back when and where and try and make it apply in the here and now?

  40. Steve Scott wrote:

    The two greatest commandments: 1) Love God, 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. If a church is so bent on #1 that it is willing to sacrifice #2 to accomplish it, it’s not worth attending.

    The two commandments are actually tied together. The Apostle John says “if he does love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen!” So breaking number 2 is breaking number 1.

  41. Muff Potter wrote:

    Another shibboleth is the whole inspired, inerrant, infallible thing.

    Oh, I’d almost forgotten that in my former 9Marks church. the pastors would quote a longer statement including these Every Time they read aloud the bible passage of the week. Like it was part of some liturgy, which it couldn’t be because… Romish.

  42. ZechZav wrote:

    Steve Scott wrote:
    The two greatest commandments: 1) Love God, 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. If a church is so bent on #1 that it is willing to sacrifice #2 to accomplish it, it’s not worth attending.
    The two commandments are actually tied together. The Apostle John says “if he does love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen!” So breaking number 2 is breaking number 1.

    Applause.

    Yes, THIS.

  43. Adam Embry wrote:

    This is good. This is why, though I’m Reformed and for church membership, won’t walk back into a 9 Marks church again.

    Interesting, Adam.

    I too won’t be stepping foot again in a 9Marks church.

    What are your reasons?

  44. Meredithwiggle wrote:

    Longtime lurker, first time to comment. Thank you for this post! I grew up in a very solid, wonderful church, and then married an Air Force pilot. We just moved to California after him being in South Korea for a year and our son and I living back in my hometown and going to my home church. Finding a new church has been feeling intimidating because I’m so much more aware (thanks to this blog and others) of the kinds of abuses that happen in all kinds of churches, including those with theology we would mostly agree with. But this is an encouraging reminder of what’s really essential! I am going to share this with my husband.

    Welcome.

    Good luck on finding a healthy church. Let us know what part of California you’re in and maybe people have suggestions.

    I’m in Silicon Valley (California).

  45. __

    “ChurchGate: Calvinist Weaseling The Scriptures To The Nefarious Integration Of The SBC, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Wrestling not with those who twist religion, or those who populate it, more rather we rebuking them, having taken from the word of God and from it fashioned armor unto ourselves; our loins with its truth, our breasts, with Christ’s righteousness, our feet earnestly and sincerely prepared with the gospel of Jesus Christ alone, AND making absolutely no ‘provision’ for the error-stained proliferation of Gnostic Calvinism.

    huh?

    But who shall dwell in these SBC churches if they be populated thereof? Are we or they the true servants of Christ’s church; and how are all things to be rendered ready for His bright and magnificat coming?

    What?

    No one would have believed in the beginning years of the twenty-first century that the SBC church world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than the average pewpeeon, and yet as mortal as themselves; that as men busied themselves about their various religious concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency Christians went to and fro over their church world going about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their ’empire’ over the ‘true’ church was secure. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older historical blood N’ combat filled religion as a source of community danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of confusion, theft, and usurpation upon themselves and their churches as impossible or improbable.

    It is also most curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days…At most, pastoral men fancied their ecclesiastical ‘might’ to be superior to other men receiving fresh seminary training; perhaps inferior to themselves and thus ready to welcome the possibility of a fruitful missionary enterprise or two? Yet across the gulf of American Christianity, minds that are to our minds -as ours are to those of the average pewsitter, they believing to be perishing, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, –regarded these venerable SBC churches with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against them. Yet, early in the twenty-first century also came the great religious disillusionment…Yet so vain is the average church goer, and so blinded by their vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of the twentieth century, expressed any idea that intelligent seminary life might have developed thus far, or indeed at all, beyond its snobbishly academic level. Nor was it generally understood that since the American Christian church is older than the SBC, with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area untouched and therefore remotely accessible to Calvinista prying eyes, it necessarily follows that it is not only more distant from its historical beginning but nearer its precarious end.

  46. When I moved six months ago, I determined that my criteria for a church were being a reasonable distance, how they loved each other and their community, and having a female pastor on staff. Not theological persuasion, style of service, music, size, or anything else. I visited non-SBC Baptist churches, Lutheran churches, Methodist churches, and a few others. I keep intending to visit the Anglican church, but haven’t yet.

    Interestingly enough, I did find, when visiting churches, that having a female pastor on staff really changed the dynamics of how they treated me as a woman and as a single person when compared to those that didn’t. The difference was very striking.

    I have a neighbor who keeps asking me why I would go to a church that is “so traditional”. His church is a Willow Creek church, and clearly follows the CEO model. I keep saying, “Because they love everyone”, which is something he has yet to refute, because my tiny church are known for it throughout the community and I don’t think his big church has that kind of reputation.

  47. Meredithwiggle wrote:

    I’m so much more aware (thanks to this blog and others) of the kinds of abuses that happen in all kinds of churches

    Sister, there are watchmen who comment on this blog who share their experiences and wisdom to benefit others. We know that if a watchman “doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity” (Ezekiel 33:6). May God lead you to a church which lifts Jesus’ name above all others, with a Body of Christ demonstrating love for God, each other, and you. May God protect you and your family from church leaders who have an agenda, not a calling.

  48. You know, as I think more about this post, Christians should not have to be forced to look for a church characterized by love!

  49. ishy wrote:

    His church is a Willow Creek church, and clearly follows the CEO model.

    Bill Hybels and his Willow Creek model essentially launched the seeker-friendly, give- them-what-they-want ministry style. Willow Creek members swim in shallow water. Hybels repented of that error a few years ago, but the damage has been done – much of the American church is patterned after his pioneering methods of doing church without God.

  50. Sopwith wrote:

    intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic

    Reminds me of the picture of Mohler at his desk surrounded by stacks of books.
    I can’t recall whether or not that was posted by CJ as he was praising Al for being the smartest man he knew.
    Bringing it back to the recently discussed Andy Davis, in that TGC article it talks about how he memorized the whole book of Isaiah and was seen (of men) doing so as he walked about the campus. Made me think– wow- he’s much more smarter than those simple fishermen guys like Peter, Andrew, James, or John. Ain’t he special!

  51. Uncle Satin AKA Dave A A wrote:

    Reminds me of the picture of Mohler at his desk surrounded by stacks of books. I can’t recall whether or not that was posted by CJ as he was praising Al for being the smartest man he knew.

    Yes, indeed, it was C.J. Mahaney who brown-nosed his way to New Calvinist stardom by flattering Pope Mohler. You can hear his syrupy comments about Mohler’s big stack of books at:
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/tww2/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mahaney-flattering-Mohler-11-15-20132.mp3

  52. @ Velour:

    Thank you! We are at Edwards Air Force Base in the Antelope Valley. The nearest city is Lancaster. I would be glad to hear any church recommendations by anyone familiar with the area.

  53. Deb wrote:

    And in some of these Calvinista churches the library is now the bookstore. Each of those kinds of churches is a profit center.

    Furtick Mansions and private jets are expensive.

  54. Christiane wrote:

    @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Nick, are you familiar with an American company called ‘Amway’?

    Which is also the type example of “Legal Pyramid Scheme” (“Multiplying Ministry” in Campus Crusade-speak).

    I am told that the pep rallies of such people are quasi-business-religious experiences, so intensely interwoven as to conflate the religious beliefs and the money-making drives beyond recognition as separate entities.

    I have heard Amway pep rallies described as “Revival Meetings”, including lots of SCRIPTURE(TM).

  55. Max wrote:

    Bill Hybels and his Willow Creek model essentially launched the seeker-friendly, give- them-what-they-want ministry style. Willow Creek members swim in shallow water. Hybels repented of that error a few years ago, but the damage has been done – much of the American church is patterned after his pioneering methods of doing church without God.

    They can’t​ have changed too much, because I just checked out that local church’s website this morning and all over it is some big Willow Creek leadership conference.

  56. Sopwith wrote:

    No one would have believed in the beginning years of the twenty-first century that the SBC church world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than the average pewpeeon, and yet as mortal as themselves; that as men busied themselves about their various religious concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water…

    With Heat Rays and Black Smoke?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ElkNcCAhSU
    “ULLA…!”

    “The chances of anything coming from blogs
    Are a million to one, they said;
    The chances of anything coming from blogs
    Is a million to one —
    BUT STILL THEY COME!”

  57. Max wrote:

    there are watchmen who comment on this blog who share their experiences and wisdom to benefit others. We know that if a watchman “doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity” (Ezekiel 33:6).

    Amen, Max!

    That’s exactly why I started blogging about my ex-gulag…to warn people. And it has.

  58. ishy wrote:

    They can’t​ have changed too much, because I just checked out that local church’s website this morning and all over it is some big Willow Creek leadership conference.

    You are most likely referring to their annual Global Leadership Summit, where they assemble leading business CEO’s and senior executives to teach the church how-to ways of the world. Willow Creek is a ministry that is one-mile wide, but only one-inch deep. Hybels may have repented of his original ministry model, but his brand continues in a new package.

  59. Max wrote:

    You know, as I think more about this post, Christians should not have to be forced to look for a church characterized by love!

    maybe it was predicted that people would NEED to know which were the Christians and which were not,
    or Our Lord would not have needed to give this advice:

    “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35)

    ‘Kumbaya’ gets a bad wrap in certain circles, but maybe the contempt and derision is more revealing of those from whom it comes than we know and what do those who mock its appeal have to offer in its place?
    ‘Love’ has a price in the Kingdom of Our Lord. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So Our Lord taught us Himself when our kind longed for Him to come near and save them. Strange that those who ridicule ‘Kumbaya’ are found today to be so fond of ‘Mara natha’ …. I have never understood this.

  60. ishy wrote:

    Interestingly enough, I did find, when visiting churches, that having a female pastor on staff really changed the dynamics of how they treated me as a woman and as a single person when compared to those that didn’t. The difference was very striking.

    It really is quite different. I think it is also because it tends to flow through the whole church – if the ‘top job’ (so to speak although it sort of goes with the whole ceo thing linguistically) is not restricted nothing else is either. You therefore have women at every point in church governance, leadership. There is no thought to restricting them in sunday school or elsewhere, because it would make no sense.

    And perhaps I have a different take on all these reformed discussions, because the church I saw this in is reformed itself.

  61. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Christiane wrote:
    @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Nick, are you familiar with an American company called ‘Amway’?
    Which is also the type example of “Legal Pyramid Scheme” (“Multiplying Ministry” in Campus Crusade-speak).
    I am told that the pep rallies of such people are quasi-business-religious experiences, so intensely interwoven as to conflate the religious beliefs and the money-making drives beyond recognition as separate entities.
    I have heard Amway pep rallies described as “Revival Meetings”, including lots of SCRIPTURE(TM).

    Didn’t Mark Driscoll meet with the Amway heads and model the now shuttered Mars Hill Church after it?

  62. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Janey wrote:

    There’s a cult group active in my community and I can tell when a young person has been interacting with them: The young person suddenly get judgmental and critical to his/her younger brothers and sisters for not being serious about God.

    i.e. Goes Cage Phase and won’t come out of his cage of Righteousness.

    “Oh, I was so much older then —
    I’m younger than that now…”

    My Back Pages!!! Dylan Rocks Forever!

  63. Christiane wrote:

    ‘Kumbaya’ gets a bad wrap in certain circles, but maybe the contempt and derision is more revealing of those from whom it comes than we know and what do those who mock its appeal have to offer in its place?

    Are you using the definitions of kumbaya which I just googled in the urban dictionary, or are you using other definitions?

  64. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:

    No act of kindness and compassion is ever a filthy rag in God’s sight.

    Exactly!!! People isolate that OT passage and wrench it violently out of context. Meanwhile, they completely ignore Matthew 25: 31-46, which does not even mention the word “faith.”

    And no, I am not dismissing the need for faith in Christ (whether explicit or implicit). Nor am I denigrating regenerative grace. By no means!! I am simply suggesting that perhaps God does not utterly condemn the good works of unbelievers. Perhaps, in fact, He sees in such works an inchoate openness toward the Grace of His Son. Our Lord Himself certainly seems to intimate this, in that famous Matthean passage.

    Personally, I would privilege Our Lord’s own words over an out-of- context phrase from the OT. “Faith without works is dead.” Grace-enabled works are salvific. Matthew 25: 31-46. It’s pretty heavy-duty, and it’s in everyone’s Bible. 🙂

  65. Muff, all I did was quote the prophet Isaiah. Take it up with God:) All our RIGHTEOUSNESSES (note, not our sins!) are as filthy rags because they can NEVER earn us so much as a millisecond in heaven. If they could, Jesus did not need to come. That isn’t worm theology either, just a recognition that if our GOOD deeds cannot get us into heaven, there is nothing we can do to get there. Which is the whole point of the gospel. It is evil to trust our good deeds rather than Jesus. Of course, Jesus said that even to give a cup of cold water in a prophet’s name will be rewarded. Of course we are to do good. But yep, even then, our good deeds are as filthy (actually reads more like used feminine hygiene product) rags as far as earning heaven.

    Out here in the hinterlands: excellent church service today. We are not a Baptist church even though several pre CR SBC writers were quoted. We got a good dose of the gospel coupled with a strong warning to avoid “fake church” aka church run on business management principles rather than the Holy Spirit empowering the church. Specific warnings on what to avoid.

    Could the discernment blogs have folks being, well, more aware?

  66. Velour wrote:

    Didn’t Mark Driscoll meet with the Amway heads and model the now shuttered Mars Hill Church after it?

    Isn’t Driscoll now one of the good guys? See this: https://markdriscoll.org/about/

    With a skillful mix of bold presentation, accessible teaching, and unrelenting compassion for those who are hurting the most — particularly women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse and assault — Pastor Mark has taken biblical Christianity into cultural corners rarely explored by evangelicals. He has been grilled by Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters on The View, gone head-to-head with Piers Morgan on CNN, debated the existence of evil with Deepak Chopra on ABC’s Nightline, bantered with the gang on Fox and Friends, and explained biblical sexuality on Loveline with Dr. Drew.

    What a hero!

    …oh, sorry, I got intoxicated for a second…

  67. Lea wrote:

    And perhaps I have a different take on all these reformed discussions, because the church I saw this in is reformed itself.

    I am guessing they were not obsessed with forcing everyone over to their viewpoint, though. I think some Calvinist views lead toward that cold intellectualism that Calvinistas have, but I don’t think their issues stem from Calvinism. I think many of their problems stem from men with really bad self-esteem, and so they use theology to dominate instead of dealing with their feelings of inadequacy.

  68. __

    “A Conspiracy To Defraud, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Q. Is there a secret plan among Reformed Southern Baptists to take over the SBC?

    huh?

    “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:1-4

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5bEB6mmI4lE

    *

    HUG,

    Exactly, the war for the heart of the SBC churches, rages on;
    “The chances of anything vile coming from the SBTS
    Are a million to one, they said…BUT STILL THEY SEND UM!”

    What?

    New Calvinists, a group of religious folk ‘polarized’ around John Calvin’s interpretation of the Holy Scriptures taken largely from 4th century theologian Augustine Gnostic writings and are characterized by major deviations from foundational non – cherry picked biblical truths. In their hands, cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith become a TULIP (1) acronym, which they say is the ‘true’ gospel, that is –if they tell you anything at all…
    __
    (1) http://www.calvinistcorner.com/tulip.htm

    Beware. Well trained, theologically inclined, and ethically bankrupt- these pastoral candidates are sent out for one purpose: pre-meditated disruption, destabilization, and outright hostile takeover. Though referred to in their reference documents as`Godly Represenatives,’ one sees little of God in their ‘fruited’ efforts as they ‘miss-appropriate your 501(c)3 church!
    ___
    Notes:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=weuKdI5-uXs
    http://sbcvoices.com/is-there-a-reformed-conspiracy-to-take-over-the-sbc/
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/05/15/a-successful-church-takeover-using-stealth-strategies-in-the-calvinista-playbook/

    __

  69. __

    “A Dangerous Theological Assumption, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    According to Augustine (i.e. massa damnata), and hence permeating Calvin writings as well; they both imply that God does not really love anyone: He merely uses a few to show mercy. However, true love is for the sake of the individual, not as an expression of divine sovereignty(1 & 1a). Hence the error. Further, since to love is to will good to another for the other’s sake, then when God says He wills all to be saved, it means He loves all. Augustine was denying the love of God, without realizing it of course. Calvin did not see the error and unfortunately ran with Augustine’s dangerous assumption. (2)
    The error continues through the centuries, Spurgeon being simply an nineteenth century example(3).
    ____
    Notes:
    (1) “This idea of the sovereignty of God was Calvin’s most central doctrine. It means that nothing is left to chance or human free will. This is what led him to put such emphasis on the doctrine of predestination — the idea that God, not we, decides whether we will be saved. This point of view was hugely influential and popular among Protestants in the sixteenth century, but became far more controversial later.”
    __
    https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/calvin-on-gods-sovereignty/

    (1a.) For we unjustly defraud God of his right, unless each of us lives and dies in dependence on his sovereign pleasure. ~ Tracts & Letters of John Calvin, Vol. 6, pg 236
    http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/7100?utm_source=bdempsey&utm_medium=blogpartners

    (2) Augustine ‘City of God’ Book 21, 12: “Hence there is a condemned mass of the whole human race . . . so that no one would be freed from this just and due punishment except by mercy and undue grace; and so the human race is divided [into two parts] so that in some it may be shown what merciful grace can do, in others, what just vengeance can do. . . . In it [punishment] there are many more than in [mercy] so that in this way there may be shown what is due to all.”
    __
    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120121.htm

    (3) “We hold — we are not afraid to say that we believe — that Christ came into this world with the intention of saving ‘a multitude which no man can number;’ and we believe that as the result of this, every person for whom He died must, beyond the shadow of a doubt, be cleansed from sin, and stand, washed in blood, before the Father’s throne. We do not believe that Christ made any effectual atonement for those who are for ever damned; we dare not think that the blood of Christ was ever shed with the intention of saving those whom God foreknew never could be saved, and some of whom were even in Hell when Christ, according to some men’s account, died to save them.” – Charles Spurgeon, Particular Redemption (Sermon).
    __
    http://www.puritandownloads.com/calvinism-and-the-sovereignty-of-god/

  70. ishy wrote:

    I think some Calvinist views lead toward that cold intellectualism that Calvinistas have, but I don’t think their issues stem from Calvinism.

    As with any other characteristic, there is a place for cold intellectualism. Unfortunately if their adherents all huddle together in exclusion of others who balance them out it becomes debased. Like any other virtue when disconnected from the other virtues it turns into a vice.

  71. Thersites wrote:

    As with any other characteristic, there is a place for cold intellectualism. Unfortunately if their adherents all huddle together in exclusion of others who balance them out it becomes debased. Like any other virtue when disconnected from the other virtues it turns into a vice.

    I think you are absolutely right. Though I think true intellectuals seek people and ideas outside their perspectives. But that group certainly does not.

  72. ishy wrote:

    I am guessing they were not obsessed with forcing everyone over to their viewpoint, though

    They are not. It helps that their belief system is clearly stated from day one, they aren’t trying to sneak reform anyone. You have to be a lot more obnoxious when you are trying to force people to change.

  73. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    explained biblical sexuality on Loveline with Dr. Drew.

    Good night. I am afraid to even look at quotes from this but I hope dr Drew had a look on his face the whole time.

  74. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    “It strikes me that much organised religion in the US has gone the same way: it has become cool and rich enough to attract the attention of corporate America. Now, bullying and thrusting aggression are celebrated as great qualities in the pulpit

    …Neo-Calvinism is, IOW, simply corporate America cashing in on the Jesus brand, and the mass appeal of offering certainty.”
    ++++++++++++++

    and all this fuss about valiantly fighting the culture war. ha. (no ! after my ha… it’s too disappointing)

    (& i don’t think it’s limited to Neo-Calvinism)

  75. Lea wrote:

    Good night. I am afraid to even look at quotes from this but I hope dr Drew had a look on his face the whole time.

    Try an internet search on “penis homes.” Looks like Mark Driscoll has cornered the market on that term. No one but him seems to use that term.

  76. Velour wrote:

    Didn’t Mark Driscoll meet with the Amway heads and model the now shuttered Mars Hill Church after it?

    You may be getting Driscoll confused with emergent church leader, Rob Bell. Betsy DeVos, current U.S. Secretary of Education and heir to the Amway Corp. fortune, is an elder at the Mars Hill church in Grand Rapids, MI where Rob Bell was former pastor. At one time Bell and Driscoll were connected in the emergent church movement, before Driscoll launched out on his own, dropping emergent to become resurgent. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/23/betsy-devos-trumps-education-pick-is-a-billionaire-philanthropist-with-deep-ties-to-the-reformed-christian-community/?utm_term=.89e395a76f6e

    If there is a connection between Driscoll and business CEOs, it might be through the Leadership Network which “networks” prominent church leaders of various flavors with business executives “to foster innovation movements that activate THE CHURCH to greater impact for the Glory of God’s name.” Driscoll has said that the Leadership Network essentially launched the emergent church movement. Perhaps they’ve played a role in the new reformation as well?

  77. Lea wrote:

    Good night. I am afraid to even look at quotes from this but I hope dr Drew had a look on his face the whole time.

    I tried to reply with a famous quote from Driscoll, but my comment wisely went into customs. Hint: try doing an internet search on a five-letter word starting with “P” and the word “home” or “homes.” Mark Driscoll seems to be the only person using that term.

  78. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    I tried to reply with a famous quote from Driscoll, but my comment wisely went into customs.

    Does anyone know if Driscoll ever apologized for the way he has talked about women? I cannot find anything. But this article suggests that he has not: http://jorymicah.com/why-no-woman-should-support-mark-driscolls-new-church/. Is Jory wrong? Now that he has cleaned up his act and is on his way to coming back into the spotlight, it would seem that an apology would be in order. Has he apologized unnoticed?

  79. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Does anyone know if Driscoll ever apologized for the way he has talked about women? I cannot find anything. But this article suggests that he has not: http://jorymicah.com/why-no-woman-should-support-mark-driscolls-new-church/. Is Jory wrong? Now that he has cleaned up his act and is on his way to coming back into the spotlight, it would seem that an apology would be in order. Has he apologized unnoticed?

    I did read an article where he apologized for lying about who he was on the forum, but there wasn’t much apology for the things he said.

  80. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Does anyone know if Driscoll ever apologized for the way he has talked about women?

    I don’t think that Mark Driscoll has apologized to anyone. To the contrary, Driscoll believes that everybody owes him apologies!

  81. elastigirl wrote:

    and all this fuss about valiantly fighting the culture war. ha.

    Maybe we can lock them in an arena with the social justice warriors so both groups will then leave the rest of us in peace.

  82. ishy wrote:

    I did read an article where he apologized for lying about who he was on the forum, but there wasn’t much apology for the things he said.

    Driscoll’s “I’m sorry” was not a godly sorrow that worketh repentance. His ministry shortcomings at Mars Hill were legion. He has launched an unrepentant comeback.

  83. Max wrote:

    Driscoll’s “I’m sorry” was not a godly sorrow that worketh repentance. His ministry shortcomings at Mars Hill were legion. He has launched an unrepentant comeback.

    No doubt. His last interview was all about how he was the victim at Mars Hill.

    I’m glad Mirele has kept us updated at how little that church has grown.

    I’m still waiting for someone to put a billboard across the street that directs people to the Mars Hill survivors site…

  84. Velour wrote:

    I don’t think that Mark Driscoll has apologized to anyone. To the contrary, Driscoll believes that everybody owes him apologies!

    And it seems that all the YRRs leaders are giving him a pass. Not one is questioning his comeback. A comeback could be believable if there were apologies, signs of humility, and efforts to make amends. But instead, it looks more like hypocrisy all around. What a mess. I want to give the benefit of the doubt, but there there does not seem to be anything to doubt.

  85. ishy wrote:

    I did read an article where he apologized for lying about who he was on the forum, but there wasn’t much apology for the things he said.

    It looked like he did the minimum he could get away with. There are tons of articles on the web about the terrible things he did and said, but almost nothing about his apologies. And on his own web site he brags about how he is a champion for abused women.

  86. ishy wrote:

    His last interview was all about how he was the victim at Mars Hill.

    “A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”

    “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”

    “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.”

    (Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister)

  87. Max wrote:

    If there is a connection between Driscoll and business CEOs, it might be through the Leadership Network which “networks” prominent church leaders of various flavors with business executives “to foster innovation movements that activate THE CHURCH to greater impact for the Glory of God’s name.”

    MAX, that corresponds with something called the ‘The Seven Mountain Dominionism’

    The 7 areas are:

    Arts and Entertainment
    Business
    Education
    Family
    Government
    Media
    Religion

    At the present time, you are seeing things moving in many of these areas away from democracy and towards dominionism, yes.

    This stuff goes WAY BACK and Jeff Sharlett exposed some of it in his writings also.

  88. Max wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    His last interview was all about how he was the victim at Mars Hill.
    “A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”
    “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”
    “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.”
    (Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister)

    Well we all know how Goebbels’ theory turned out.

  89. Velour wrote:

    Well we all know how Goebbels’ theory turned out.

    Indeed! He spoke prophetically about his propaganda campaign when he said:

    “There will come a day, when all the lies will collapse under their own weight, and truth will again triumph.”

  90. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Now that he has cleaned up his act and is on his way to coming back into the spotlight, it would seem that an apology would be in order. Has he apologized unnoticed?

    I don’t think he really cleaned up his act. You can put clear varnish on a cow patty, but it’s still just a cow patty.

  91. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    I don’t think he really cleaned up his act. You can put clear varnish on a cow patty, but it’s still just a cow patty.

    Unless a someone can point to objective evidence to the contrary, your assessment is solid. I would think the YRRs would be tripping over themselves to either prove his repentence or to prove they have distanced thethemselves from him. Right now they are mostly silently letting him rise again to prominence.

  92. I am not so hard on the Devo’s family. While I agree that there is an overemphasis on selling with how they built the company…they are NOT hyper Calvinists. They are more the ” normal” reformed. You cannot believe what they have done for my city of grand rapids. They built an amazing children’s hospital. Look up the van andel research center….they are trying to CURE CANCER. Riches wife..senior..funds proliferation causes. They are kind people to know. They have done amazing things for my community and I respect that. The superintendent of Grand Rapids PUBLIC schools has opey supported Betsy Devo’s too! I want to give both sides here. My dad knows Rich Devos and always respected him

  93. Abigail wrote:

    I am not so hard on the Devo’s family … they are NOT hyper Calvinists.

    @ Abigail:
    Abigail, a lot of the folks who comment on TWW were drawn into the reformed movement unaware … and came out to sound the alarm. I suspect any connections the DeVos family had with emergent and/or resurgent ministries were purely innocent as well. Much has been said about the stealth and deception going on in the new reformation. The problem with deception is that you don’t know you are deceived because you are deceived.

  94. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    I don’t think he really cleaned up his act. You can put clear varnish on a cow patty, but it’s still just a cow patty.

    Unless a someone can point to objective evidence to the contrary, your assessment is solid. I would think the YRRs would be tripping over themselves to either prove his repentence or to prove they have distanced thethemselves from him. Right now they are mostly silently letting him rise again to prominence.

    strange they need Driscoll so much ….. I don’t think they can clean him up enough to be presentable but maybe it’s his ‘shock jock’ skills they are wanting to enlist to draw more ‘real’ men into their web

  95. ishy wrote:

    Though I think true intellectuals seek people and ideas outside their perspectives.

    A most excellent point. I am more considerate of an opposing view coming from someone who understands and respects mine. It reminds me of the put down once used by Christopher Hitchens towards someone with a weak argument “You give me the awful impression of someone who has never read any of the arguments against your position, ever.”

  96. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter. Done with churches that focus on the precepts of men. My next church will focus on what He has done, not on what we need to do. Jesus Christ is all!

  97. Thersites wrote:

    It reminds me of the put down once used by Christopher Hitchens towards someone with a weak argument “You give me the awful impression of someone who has never read any of the arguments against your position, ever.”

    Part 1

    Here is William Lane Craig’s Opinion of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. An extremely short video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZiSmg4RFx4

    And on the next comment is Christopher Hitchens’ Opinion of William Lane Craig

    Both these people have gold plated credentials as intellectuals and they are saying something like what you are saying. Compare what Hitchens says in the quote you gave and what Craig says in the video with Craig speaking. IMO this is how intellectuals do. Respect where respect is due, but only where it is due.

    IMO true intellectuals have the warrior in them, to use a Jungian concept, and one cannot expect them to fight our battles for us and still be sweet little grandmothers, but one can expect them to be reasonably civilized in the process.

  98. okrapod wrote:

    IMO true intellectuals have the warrior in them, to use a Jungian concept, and one cannot expect them to fight our battles for us and still be sweet little grandmothers, but one can expect them to be reasonably civilized in the process.

    There is a difference, always, in arguing about ideas and policies and theology and between making an argument personal. People often do the latter when they are failing at the former.

  99. Lea wrote:

    There is a difference, always, in arguing about ideas and policies and theology and between making an argument personal.

    Yes, but.

    In the opinions of Hitchens that Thersites quoted and in the opinion on the video that Craig stated, which were basically the same attitude, they did get personal. In-somebody did not do their homework-critique. I think that whenever one enters into ideological struggle, if they are prepared and serious, there may possibly end up with some blood on the floor from both parties, depending on who may have a bleeding tendency.

    Which I why I think that the true combat of ideas happens between battle hardened intellectuals and the rest of us, while we may value it as spectators or fancy ourselves as amateurs at the sport, had best not enter the fracas if we are too easily hurt.

  100. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:

    No act of kindness and compassion is ever a filthy rag in God’s sight.

    I’ve always wondered about this.

    If there was a mutiny on board a ship and the captain was locked up with some wanting to kill him and others wanting to keep him alive via giving him food and water – would the actions of those wanting to feed him be considered ‘acts of kindness and compassion’ worthy of honor and praise?

  101. @ okrapod:
    I can’t watch at the moment so I can’t comment on this specifically, but I do see a merit in blood on the floors that is idea based (you’re wrong).

    And of course, sometimes you are correcting someone facts and sometimes you are discussing opinions.

  102. @ Lea:

    Eh it’s early. I don’t know if I’m being clear. I guess what I meant to say is I don’t think people are big meanies for arguing about ideas. It’s just when they a cross a line that it is a problem.

    And in general, I’m fond of people being exceedingly polite and well mannered (excepting when someone really does need to be called out but even then there is a level). But zealous arguments in defense of facts or ideas do not bother me.

  103. Dale Rudiger wrote:

    Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter. Done with churches that focus on the precepts of men.

    Amen! Jesus warned us “They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men” (Mark 7:7). I can’t tell you how many churches I have visited in recent years in which I wanted to stand up and shout “What happened to Jesus?!” Unless we keep the Main thing the main thing in our churches, our attempts at “worship” are in vain.

  104. Dale Rudiger wrote:

    My next church will focus on what He has done

    I saw a book title the other day “Rediscovering Paul.” I’m not sure what theological flavor this was soaked in, but I have my suspicions. What we need in the American church is to rediscover Jesus, not Paul!

  105. @ kin:

    so, like a theological microcosm.

    why wouldn’t those acts of kindness and compassion be worthy of honor and praise?

  106. @ Abigail

    As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have not any trust or respect for Betsy DeVos. I do not believe the woman cares at all about sexual abuse victims and she does pity sexual abusers for being accused.

    My family owned their own church. I learned from them that people who want to manipulate others to join their cult or ideology want to control schools and hospitls.

    I do not believe Betsy wants people to have a right not to be a part of her misogynistic ideology.

    “DeVos has personally donated $10,000 to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire), a group which has made the reversal of the Obama administration’s policies on campus sexual assault a central part of its mission.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/17/betsy-devos-hearing-prompts-fears-for-campus-sexual-assault-protections

  107. Max wrote:

    What we need in the American church is to rediscover Jesus, not Paul!

    Honestly, I think people need to rediscover Paul because I think many of them are very, very confused about what Paul was saying.

    And of course, if they did that, Paul would actually point them to Jesus as the important thing. Not, for instance, gender roles.

  108. Dale Rudiger wrote:

    Jesus Christ is all!

    Amen Dale!

    This week, SBC will hold its annual convention. Not too many years ago, Southern Baptists boldly proclaimed that Jesus is, indeed, all for ALL people. Well that message has been muted as the New Calvinist movement sweeps through SBC. The young reformers may not voice the following words, but they sure stress it in their preaching/teaching: “John Calvin is all!”

    I just visited the SBC meeting agenda for the week. Today is the Pastor’s Conference with a theme “Above Every Name.” Of course, they are referring to Jesus … but I wonder how many of the new generation of pastors in SBC (mostly reformed) really preach and teach that in their pulpits.

  109. Lea wrote:

    I think people need to rediscover Paul because I think many of them are very, very confused about what Paul was saying

    Amen! It’s increasingly clear that the new reformation focuses on the Pauline epistles, with little emphasis on the Gospels. When I get the opportunity to visit with young reformed preachers in my area, I counsel them this way:

    If you read Paul first, you might read Jesus wrong. But if you read Jesus first, the writings of Paul come into perspective.

  110. Dale Rudiger wrote:

    Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter. Done with churches that focus on the precepts of men. My next church will focus on what He has done, not on what we need to do. Jesus Christ is all!

    Amen. Jesus is all in all.

  111. Yesterday was the Trinity Sunday on the Western Rite Liturgical Calendar, and the homily (short sermon) at Mass I heard on that day had application to the YRRs/Calvinistas.

    The homily started out with “What if God was only One, lonely in the sky? Without Son and Holy Spirit, what would the Father have to love other than Himself?” (My aside: And His Glory. Back to the homily.) “That would be Narcissism — Self Love.”

    The Calvinista-relevant point is that these guys’ theology has “God all alone in the Sky”. No Trinity, no Son & Holy Spirity (except as lip service), no other Persons in the Godhead to love back-and-forth, only the self-love of Narcissism. And the NPD traits we see among the Calvinistas? They are just being like their God, the Omnipotent Narcissist obsessed with My Own Glory.

  112. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:
    No act of kindness and compassion is ever a filthy rag in God’s sight.

    It is if you’re obsessed with the Race to the Bottom, i.e.
    “Who’s the Filthiest Sinner?”
    or
    “More Utterly Depraved Than Thou”.

  113. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    The Calvinista-relevant point is that these guys’ theology has “God all alone in the Sky”. No Trinity, no Son & Holy Spirit (except as lip service), no other Persons in the Godhead to love back-and-forth, only the self-love of Narcissism.

    That, indeed, is New Calvinism in a nutshell. A lot of talk about “Gawd”, with hardly a word about Jesus, and only occasional acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit. The young reformers drop the name of their reformed icons more than they do the precious name of Jesus.

  114. I don’t know what all is going on in neo-cal preaching but blaming it all on Paul is worse than odd. Paul was trying to explain something which was very Jewish to some folks who were very gentile who also came to listen to the message. A problem is that the gentile cultures of his day were different from the gentile cultures (us) of our day and some of it does not carry forward all that much. This is not an insurmountable problem for which Paul has to be tossed to the curb.

    But here is a problem. Once you get rid of Paul, and perhaps some of the other NT writings and all you have left is he gospels, then you have a real problem, because Jesus said some stuff that some folks here want no part of hearing-also. Like Jesus talked about judgment and damnation. Amy-Jill says that this was a topic barely mentioned in Judaism up to the time of Jesus but that Jesus was the one who brought it to the fore. But some folks here don’t want to hear that, either. Well, who does, but there it is.

    So here is another problem. If Paul is gone from consideration, and Jesus is edited to suit individual tastes and beliefs, what is left is The Gospel According to Tom, Dick and Harry; not to mention Susie, Louise and MaryAnn. How is that worth anything at all? Better to just throw the whole idea of ‘scripture’ out and along with it the historic church and all it’s creeds and traditions and scholarship and whatever along with it and just play it by ear from day to day. Individually. Which is what some people might actually want to do.

    I don’t. Paul is not the enemy. Jesus’ unpopular teachings are not the enemy. We are our own enemy. What was that cartoon quote to that effect? We need a better idea than just toss stuff out.

    Thank you. I feel better now.

  115. Max wrote:

    I saw a book title the other day “Rediscovering Paul.” I’m not sure what theological flavor this was soaked in, but I have my suspicions. What we need in the American church is to rediscover Jesus, not Paul!

    Older pastors I know/knew spent most of their sermon time in the gospels (the real gospels – MML&J), Acts, and the OT. Our last pastor loved the OT – the history and the prophecies of what is and what is to come. All of the younger preachers spend most of the time in Paul’s epistles!

  116. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    Older pastors I know/knew spent most of their sermon time in the gospels (the real gospels – MML&J), Acts, and the OT. Our last pastor loved the OT – the history and the prophecies of what is and what is to come. All of the younger preachers spend most of the time in Paul’s epistles!

    Nancy2, this is a direct result of the theological drift in the Southern Baptist Convention. To the young reformers, Calvinism = Gospel … which, of course, is not the Gospel of the Cross of Christ for ALL people. The New Calvinists steer clear of the Gospels, preferring to twist Paul’s writings to fit their rigid reformed doctrinal propositions. TULIP supersedes JESUS. In my humble (but accurate) opinion, when a pastor stresses doctrines of grace rather than a direct experience of Grace (an encounter with the living Christ), he doesn’t know Jesus.

  117. The #1 thing to look for when joining a church – Max’s advice:

    Is Jesus the Main thing in everything they preach and do? If it is, Wade’s #1 will also be there: love.

  118. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    It strikes me that much organised religion in the US has gone the same way: it has become cool and rich enough to attract the attention of corporate America. Now, bullying and thrusting aggression are celebrated as great qualities in the pulpit; men (and, to a lesser extent, women) like this have forced themselves into churches and converted them into power bases for their own social and economic empires. Neo-Calvinism is, IOW, simply corporate America cashing in on the Jesus brand, and the mass appeal of offering certainty.

    Nick, could you clarify what you mean exactly by “corporate America cashing in” on the Jesus brand” and identify those American corporations that have been attracted. I’m not aware of any corporations, such as book publishers, sponsoring seminary students and pastors so they could take over a church and thereby increase their sales.

  119. Max wrote:

    The New Calvinists steer clear of the Gospels, preferring to twist Paul’s writings to fit their rigid reformed doctrinal propositions.

    How long before they start expository preaching directly from Calvin’s Institutes?
    (Probably when all the Oldthinkers either die off or are driven out…)

  120. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    How long before they start expository preaching directly from Calvin’s Institutes?
    (Probably when all the Oldthinkers either die off or are driven out…)

    Yes, I’m sure that there are several young reformers in my area waiting for me to pass – this old guy is a thorn in their side. Many of them carry an ESV Study Bible, which contains commentary from Calvin’s writings … I’m sure they include his sermon points in order to keep with the party line.

  121. Guest wrote:

    (Fire), a group which has made the reversal of the Obama administration’s policies on campus sexual assault a central part of its mission.”

    I’m not sure how this topic came up, but fire does a lot more than that. (And given the way universities have been handling these things, how involved they should be is certainly up for debate.)

  122. @ Max:
    I cringe when I see an ESV study bible. They showed up at our former church before I understood that meant trouble.

  123. Max wrote:

    Yes, I’m sure that there are several young reformers in my area waiting for me to pass – this old guy is a thorn in their side

    oldthinkers unbellyfeel INGSOC…

  124. @ Sopwith:
    I’ve known RHH adherents who were just plain Calvinist, no Neo about it. They were nothing like the Acts 29 church I foolishly deaconed for for a bit.

  125. Mae wrote:

    I cringe when I see an ESV study bible. They showed up at our former church before I understood that meant trouble.

    Yep, you are about to be reformed (whether you want to be or not) when an ESV study bible walks in the door. There’s a know-it-all, authoritarian, put-women-in-their-place, arrogant bad boy carrying it. The place is in for some weeping and gnashing of teeth before “pastor” wins another church for Calvin.

  126. Fun fact: the biblical proscription against women leading men is three verses after them being banned from:

    1. braiding their hair
    2. wearing gold
    3. wearing pearls
    4. wearing expensive clothes

    So either we talk all of this legalistic crap equally seriously or we can take it in the personal-opinion language it was couched in. Paul did not say “Thou shalt not wear braids,” he said, “I want” women to not wear braids.

    And when he said women should not teach men, he did not say “Thou shalt not teach men,” he said “I do not allow” women to be in authority over men.

    If the absolutist language was inspired revelation then so was the limiting preface in these cases.

    To treat maleness and femaleness as if it’s a thing in Christ goes against the rest of scripture. And the entire thing is legalistic which goes right against the gospel.

  127. hoodaticus wrote:

    And when he said women should not teach men, he did not say “Thou shalt not teach men,” he said “I do not allow” women to be in authority over men.

    As pastor Wade Burleson (who is the pastor for E-Church here on TWW on Sundays) pointed out on his blog that Paul was using a singular noun “the woman” who was teaching one man (perhaps her husband) error. The issue was error, not gender. Paul wanted her to learn correctly first.
    The same would be true for a man in error.
    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2012/09/the-woman-of-error-in-i-timothy-212.html

  128. hoodaticus wrote:

    the biblical proscription against women leading men is three verses after

    And four verses after, “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” How often, when the verses for the women are quoted, do they really teach the complementary verse? I don’t see a lot of these guys lifting their hands to pray, and one or two don’t take the anger or disputing parts too seriously either.
    Once again, of course, we have the personal opinion language of “I want”.

  129. Uncle Satin AKA Dave A A wrote:

    lot of these guys lifting their hands to pray, and one or two don’t take the anger or disputing parts too seriously either.

    And since when do the guys greet each other with a holy kiss? So much for being *Biblical.*

  130. Christiane wrote:

    Dee and Deb,
    please take a look at WADE’s new post which is a big change regarding the SB IMB and restrictions on women and also concerning ESS …. hair-raising news! (frown face)
    http://www.wadeburleson.org/

    Is there any solid evidence for this letter? I cannot find anything on the web that is recent, but I did find this from a couple years ago:
    https://baptistnews.com/article/imb-head-explains-cutbacks-in-open-letter/#.WT8cGca1vcs

    Similarly, Platt said the IMB was not departing from “a clear complementarian picture of marriage.”

  131. @ Christiane:

    Good grief. You can be divorced and still be a missionary if and only if you have remarried and you have a complementarian marriage. I am waiting for chapter and verse on that one.

    You can be a missionary if you confess to a private prayer language if and only is you are not ‘pentecostal’ and you keep it all secret. I am waiting for chapter and verse here also.

    You can be a female missionary if and only if you are married, in a complementarian marriage, and you have no leadership function. And that is delineated where in scripture?

    But from Ken’s reference I gather that you can be some sort of defacto missionary if you are a student, professional or retiree expat and will work for free, and apparently the ‘rules’ are flexible in that case.

    The IMB sounds like they are losing it. Just plain losing it. Maybe this is the ‘end times’ for the IMB and even the SBC. TEOTWAWKI. The end of the world as we know it, at least the end of SBC as we knew it.

    Somebody needs to tell these men that they drove ole Dixie down and they cannot recreate the antebellum South of hierarchies built on privilege. Somebody needs to tell then to either conform to the whole counsel of scripture or quit pretending about it. Somebody needs to tell them that Calvin did not create Christianity and neither did they. Except I am pretty sure that they have been told, to no avail.

    This mess just breaks my heart.

  132. okrapod wrote:

    You can be a female missionary if and only if you are married, in a complementarian marriage, and you have no leadership function. And that is delineated where in scripture?

    I think a female missionary would be called “the missionary’s wife”!

  133. okrapod wrote:

    The IMB sounds like they are losing it. Just plain losing it. Maybe this is the ‘end times’ for the IMB and even the SBC.

    Agreed.

    Too bad the NeoCalvinists didn’t start their own denomination and leave the SBC alone.

  134. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    I think a female missionary would be called “the missionary’s wife”!

    My cousin was a career Southern Baptist missionary in South Africa. He considered his wife a co-missionary in which they both surrendered to Christ to minister in that country. They labored together in a very difficult area, raising three children there. They used the gifts God had given them both to win souls for Christ. She complemented his gifts; he complemented hers … but they were not complmentarians!

  135. okrapod wrote:

    But from Ken’s reference I gather that you can be some sort of defacto missionary if you are a student, professional or retiree expat and will work for free, and apparently the ‘rules’ are flexible in that case.

    Maybe not as flexible as one would hope. Here is another reference from 2014 by Dorothy Kelley Patterson of SWBTS: https://swbts.edu/sites/default/files/images/content/docs/journal/57_1/57.1%20The%20Role%20of%20Women%20as%20Missionaries%20Patterson.pdf.

    Clearly the IMB does not encourage women to pursue becoming pastors of congregations. However, the lines are definitely blurred when the choice is for certain women, whether single or married, to serve as leaders of mission teams. Here the guidelines are not clear.
    Is There Confusion or Even Crisis on the Horizon?
    If there is no course correction to realign missionary assignments with the clear complementarian position defined in the BFM, the consequences will affect not only those currently serving as missionaries but also generations to come.

    Do some searching in that article on “single” and “complement” for more fun quotes. The article also supports ESS:

    The Son voluntarily becomes subject and even subordinate to the Father

    The hierarchy within the Godhead does not pertain to worth — to being more or less God — but rather addresses function within the divine plan. The same is true of role assignments for men and women. Just as Persons within the triunity have separate and distinct functions, God gave different responsibilities to men and women. In God’s plan, man was given authority over woman.

  136. okrapod wrote:

    This mess just breaks my heart.

    But can they get away with it?
    Can’t anything be done to stop this stuff, I mean when Southern Baptist people are informed about what is going down, won’t they try to confront this with some strength?

    I hate what these men are doing. Why do the people seeking power always target women and the missions????

  137. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):
    Ken, aren’t there a lot of Calvinists in the SBC who did NOT approve of ESS and confronted the neo-Cals with push-back?

    Where are these Calvinists now?

    I thought there was more resistance to ESS in the SBC.

  138. Max wrote:

    My cousin was a career Southern Baptist missionary in South Africa. He considered his wife a co-missionary in which they both surrendered to Christ to minister in that country. They labored together in a very difficult area, raising three children there. They used the gifts God had given them both to win souls for Christ. She complemented his gifts; he complemented hers … but they were not complmentarians!

    They were partners, as it should be.

  139. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    They were partners, as it should be.

    Complementarian springs from the root word “complement”, which means “to add to something in a way that enhances or improves it; to make perfect.” When authoritarian New Calvinists subordinate women believers into un-Biblical gender roles, they are taking away from the Body of Christ not adding to it. We need to be one in Christ – with no distinctions of race, class or gender – in order to perfect the Body in His image and mission on earth.

  140. Christiane wrote:

    I thought there was more resistance to ESS in the SBC

    Apparently not. I’ve been hoping for resistance, but it looks like a lost cause by now.

  141. @ Max:

    the picture of complement is yin and yang. a perfect circle. but, you see, no one gets to be on top. not an issue unless you want / need to be on top.

  142. okrapod wrote:

    I am waiting for chapter and verse on that one.

    I suspect it is in the same chapter with the magical male hierarchy verses that are talked about endlessly but never actually produced when politely requested. If you had not already left for other ecclesiastical pastures, such impertinence would get you keyed out, too, young lady!

  143. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Similarly, Platt said the IMB was not departing from “a clear complementarian picture of marriage.”

    David Platt is rabid about Complementarianism being a gospel issue, and I know that directly from Brook Hills. I doubt he has changed his views. Women will not be leaders of anything except a group of children or a ladies group. These men simply cannot tolerate–at some very deep level–a woman having any position of authority.

  144. elastigirl wrote:

    @ kin:

    so, like a theological microcosm.

    why wouldn’t those acts of kindness and compassion be worthy of honor and praise?

    Well, because until the captain retains his rightful place every action would be deemed as done while in a state of mutiny, and I tend to see the biblical record setting forth this same element of rebellious mutiny in some shape or form when it comes to every person coming from the loins of Adam.

    Otherwise, repentance would be optional for some of us.

  145. Men and women are equal. There is no job a guy can do that a woman can’t do.

    Soldier, scientist, pilot, mechanic, heavy equipment operator, elephant wrangler, you name it & they’re doing it!

    Our society isn’t perfect but I’ll take it over what the Complementarian Clown Show is offering any day.

    I don’t care how many Bible verses are quoted.

    Jury is in… literally! Men and women are equal. In. Every. Single. Way.

  146. Spot on and Amen. All my experience and training, including seminary, and more than 50 years on the planet, and I have come to the same conclusion. If it doesn’t radiate the love of God for all of us, it isn’t the gospel.

    I know the opposite all too well from a family member who has fallen in with a certain fundamentalist group that has buried the love of God so deep under a heap of doctrines and must dos and must believes and worries that it’s impossible to see. Love for anyone outside the chosen group? Fuhgettabodit. Ain’t gonna happen. So sad to watch what this has done to someone I care for.

  147. John wrote:

    If it doesn’t radiate the love of God for all of us, it isn’t the gospel.

    words worthy of a man named ‘John’ 🙂

  148. Christiane wrote:

    Why do the people seeking power always target women and the missions????

    Because they can.
    That is not all they target. That just happens to be a current hot button issue.

    They also target anybody with the slightest amount of ideological or biological or economic or educational or cultural difference. What they think about women is mild compared to what they think about certain other identifiable groups.

  149. @ Kin:

    but to see things in such black and white terms means one misses everything in between.

    kindness and compassion sincerely expressed is a beautiful thing. it changes the environment where it is expressed. Living things feel it. I know from general observation, but also from having pets all my life — when there is hateful anger and contentiousness (whether in hot rage or cold calculation), animals are frightened, stressed, tense; when there is kindness, animals are at ease. i even think it affects plantlife — i’d love to see an experiment done, somehow.

    living things don’t miss the lifegiving quality of kindness, such a beautiful thing — but God does?? something’s off there.

    in your ship mutiny metaphor, even the captain would be moved by expressions of kindness shown to him.

  150. Jack wrote:

    Men and women are equal.

    Paul put it this way “you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28)

    In the Body of Christ, all believers (men and women) are designed to grow and flow together. Paul said that “in humility let each esteem others better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3) … as opposed to the New Calvinist subordination of women! In the Kingdom of God, men and women are made to work with each other, not against. True “complementarianism” can be found where each member of the Body of Christ complements the next, linked hand-in-hand as Christians with no thought of compartmentalizing folks by race, class or gender.

  151. okrapod wrote:

    You can be divorced and still be a missionary if and only if you have remarried and you have a complementarian marriage.

    Gah! So dumb.

    The thing I love about that no braids, gold, pearls thing is that this is what more or less gets translated into ‘no bikini’s plus jean jumpers’. By the ‘literal interpretation’ people.

  152. Christiane wrote:

    aren’t there a lot of Calvinists in the SBC who did NOT approve of ESS and confronted the neo-Cals with push-back?

    I think a lot of the pushback actually came from Presbyterians, iirc.

  153. lynn wrote:

    Sadly many people have left the faith feeling they are just not good enough, instead of realizing that is why Jesus died for us and His love is unfailing and we are His beloved.
    After 35 years of my husband being in full time ministry I struggle with the direction of Jesus beloved church. It is now a business, instead of a loving group of people. The pastor is now a CEO, with amazing ability to sway people with his great public speaking.
    Thanks Wade for reminding me that all is not lost.

    My husband and I are both 3rd generation preachers kids and we are struggling with the same thing as we find a new church home. It’s very discouraging.

  154. Lea wrote:

    The thing I love about that no braids, gold, pearls thing is that this is what more or less gets translated into ‘no bikini’s plus jean jumpers’.

    The thing is, that “braids, gold, pearls” in the epistle’s context were signs of great wealth (like Furtick Mansions & private jets); the “no braids, gold, pearls” was directed at rich Christians who were showing off their Bling before the have-nots, even at Communion. Once you understand that, it makes a lot more sense.

  155. Velour wrote:

    Too bad the NeoCalvinists didn’t start their own denomination and leave the SBC alone.

    And have to WORK building their denom?
    Easier to Take than Build – the axiom of a Raid-and-Pillage Economy.

  156. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Once you understand that, it makes a lot more sense.

    Of course! Today it would be louboutanes. OR some other brand I can actually spell.

    And other mentions of modesty I think are more about attitude. Going around telling everybody how much more modest you are is deeply immodest.

    But no. Let’s just shame people for wearing clothes they like, that look good, or that are actually cool in the soon to be upcoming 100 degree 80% humid southern weather.

  157. Velour wrote:

    And since when do the guys greet each other with a holy kiss?

    More like that one Edgar Rice Burroughs barbarian tribe, whose greeting was “I CAN KILL YOU!” followed immediately by an attempt to prove just that.

    (Kinda like Kzinti: “You scream and you leap.”)

  158. Lea wrote:

    But no. Let’s just shame people for wearing clothes they like, that look good, or that are actually cool in the soon to be upcoming 100 degree 80% humid southern weather.

    Remember the Puritan missionaries in James Michener’s Hawaii?
    In their black woolens, tall beaver hats, and stone New England houses built for New England winters — in Hawaii?

  159. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    in Hawaii?

    That does sound awful. But at least Hawaii has an ocean breeze (*I’m guessing)! (it might have felt like walking through soup in my neighborhood last night. It’s 88% humidity today. Sorry for the complaining 🙂

    But it drives me crazy every time I read an article about how the modesty/purity rules are ill thought out and the attitude behind them is wrong, I see some man (generally) coming along in the comments saying ‘but really women should be dressing blahblahblah because lust’. It’s like they can’t read or understand the other perspective on this, because this whole thing is so deeply ingrained that women are at fault for their lust because they could see an elbow or knee or collarbone or something.

  160. Lea wrote:

    But it drives me crazy every time I read an article about how the modesty/purity rules are ill thought out and the attitude behind them is wrong, I see some man (generally) coming along in the comments saying ‘but really women should be dressing blahblahblah because lust’. It’s like they can’t read or understand the other perspective on this, because this whole thing is so deeply ingrained that women are at fault for their lust because they could see an elbow or knee or collarbone or something.

    Remember the Burqa.
    And the whips of the Religious Police.

  161. elastigirl wrote:

    living things don’t miss the lifegiving quality of kindness, such a beautiful thing — but God does?? something’s off there.

    You betcha’ somethin’s off there. I think it all stems from what me, you, and too many others to mention, got drilled and beaten into our collective heads. Namely that my, our (generic my & our) best is not good enough for God. I no longer believe this twaddle and I now consider it to be a lie from the father of lies.

  162. Adam Embry wrote:

    Excessive control. Boring worship. Lack of outward focus. Overall, the culture. @ Velour:

    Got it.

    Same here.

    Lack of Love in my ex-NeoCalvinist, 9Marxist, John MacArthur-ite gulag.

  163. Lea wrote:

    it might have felt like walking through soup in my neighborhood last night. It’s 88% humidity today.

    Gulf Coast?

  164. Lea wrote:

    And other mentions of modesty I think are more about attitude. Going around telling everybody how much more modest you are is deeply immodest.

    Or how HUMBLE(TM) you are (chuckle chuckle).

  165. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    it might have felt like walking through soup in my neighborhood last night. It’s 88% humidity today.

    Gulf Coast?

    Arkansas! Humidity has dropped a little since this morning, though.

  166. Lea wrote:

    I think a lot of the pushback actually came from Presbyterians, iirc.

    Yes, the recent pushback came from Presbyterians which is appropriate since it was a Presbyterian, George Knight III, who made it up in the first place. The Baptists thought it was a super idea and adopted it for their own use, sort of like the 1689ers did with their Confession.

  167. @ Gram3:
    The weird thing about this whole YRR/Baptist deal is that they really should just become Presbyterians! They want elders and reformed theology…make sense.

    But, reasons.

  168. @ Lea:
    I think a huge part of the problem is them trying to basically convert Baptists to Presbyterians without asking. If you tried to forcibly convert everybody to Episcopalian you would be having conflict too.

  169. @ Muff Potter:

    “Namely that my, our (generic my & our) best is not good enough for God. I no longer believe this twaddle and I now consider it to be a lie from the father of lies.”
    +++++++++++++++

    I remember that line from “Chariots of Fire”, Eric Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

    I see such great things in people everywhere, especially when travelling to far away places (not that i do that all that much these days). people in diverse cultures value brotherly and sisterly love, and are very generous with it. very generous in extending it to complete strangers with nothing to gain in return.

    What person of faith would disagree that God made Eric Liddell fast? What person of faith would disagree that God made human beings with the capacity for kindness?

    I suspect no christian person has a theological problem with Eric feeling God’s pleasure when he runs fast, or with the sheer fact of God’s pleasure. To me, it follows that it is just plain unreasonable to doubt or question or disbelieve in God’s pleasure when sincere acts of kindness happen.

    They happen all over the world, all day long, every minute of every hour by the billions. I cannot believe that God does not take great delight in human beings and all creation.

  170. Thank you. The heart of the law and the heart of the church. If we understand that then we’re facing the right direction, and if we’re facing the right direction then we will have the right attitude, be ready to humble ourselves when we get it wrong, and it will be possible to move forward together. Even when there are hurts and disappointments, if we know, really know, that God loves us, then forgiveness and moving forward is possible, renewed consensus and united purpose is possible, and we can bear with each other’s fault and flaws and different ways of doing things.

  171. elastigirl wrote:

    They happen all over the world, all day long, every minute of every hour by the billions. I cannot believe that God does not take great delight in human beings and all creation.

    You and Muff espouse a wonderful doctrine. As my experience grows I find that scratch the surface and you will find many who have suffered some sort of tragedy yet they get up every day and do their small heroism. We are marvelous creations and I also believe in a creator who takes pleasure in us.

  172. elastigirl wrote:

    but to see things in such black and white terms means one misses everything in between.

    Interesting that you’d label my analogy as seeing goodness and compassion in ‘black and white’ terms. I’d actually agree there is a contiuum of good and evil in this world, but it is not distinct from the raised fist towards God that we are all born with to some degree or another…thus the analogy seems fitting, imo. Sure, keeping the captain alive is being more compassionate and caring than those who want him killed, but, any compassionate deed done without first restoring the captain to his rightful place remains tainted with rebellious autonomy.

    As usual, I could be missing something.

  173. Thersites wrote:

    You and Muff espouse a wonderful doctrine. As my experience grows I find that scratch the surface and you will find many who have suffered some sort of tragedy yet they get up every day and do their small heroism. We are marvelous creations and I also believe in a creator who takes pleasure in us.

    In some circles of Christendom, and especially the more virulent strains of Calvinism, it’s considered pure heresy.

  174. kin wrote:

    As usual, I could be missing something.

    No, you’re not missing a thing. Some of us here simply do not believe as you believe. And that’s okay too because we can peacefully co-exist.

  175. kin wrote:

    Aw man, no compassion towards me?

    Sure absolutely, how about some matzos to go with Seinfeld’s levity soup too?

  176. kin wrote:

    Sure, keeping the captain alive is being more compassionate and caring than those who want him killed, but, any compassionate deed done without first restoring the captain to his rightful place remains tainted with rebellious autonomy.

    Eeeeeyeah …… About that ……. things would kinda depend on why the crew mutinied in the first place. Was the captain doing something/ordering the crew to do something that would justify a mutiny???

  177. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    kin wrote:
    Sure, keeping the captain alive is being more compassionate and caring than those who want him killed, but, any compassionate deed done without first restoring the captain to his rightful place remains tainted with rebellious autonomy.

    Eeeeeyeah …… About that ……. things would kinda depend on why the crew mutinied in the first place. Was the captain doing something/ordering the crew to do something that would justify a mutiny???

    Yeah…I wasn’t going to chime in since I wasn’t totally sure kin was serious at first…

    Who knows why the crew mutinied? I’m sure many were justified and it’s totally irrelevant to whether or not it is compassionate to feed the man!

  178. @ kin:

    “Interesting that you’d label my analogy as seeing goodness and compassion in ‘black and white’ terms.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    from your first comment, it didn’t seem to me that goodness and compassion even showed up as existing in your paradigm. All is either sinful or righteous (black or white), nothing in between.

    “…every action would be deemed as done while in a state of mutiny”
    —————————-

    “I’d actually agree there is a contiuum of good and evil in this world, but it is not distinct from the raised fist towards God that we are all born with to some degree or another…any compassionate deed done without first restoring the captain to his rightful place remains tainted with rebellious autonomy.”
    +++++++++++++++

    good to know that goodness and compassion are part of it. but i’m wondering… in your paradigm, do they even matter? (horribly tainted as they are purported to be)

  179. ___

    Hitting BedRock: “The perpetration of a false Christian religion, by ‘suposition’, perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Up unto the fourth century, Christianity was said to have included ‘all persons’ in the telling of the salvational work of Jesus Christ (meaning kind folk preached Christ died for all). That consequential actions and not a predetermined fate guided the affairs of men; determining his outlook and ultimate his eternal destiny. That entrance to the blessings of Christianity were a simple mater of accepting the work that Christ had performed upon the cross. The benefits of accepting Christ’s work (among other things) were the forgiveness of sin, and the gift of eternal life with God, upon ones’ death.

    Yet in 1536, this gospel message became– in the ‘skillful’ hands of French Theologian John Calvin:

    That only God must point the ‘elect’ to Christ.
    That only God chooses folk for salvation.
    That only those who God gives the gift of faith, can ‘believe’.
    That only those who are chosen to ‘believe’ have an appointment to eternal life with God.

    http://www.reformed.org/calvinism/index.html

    Sure, Calvin used various scripture as proofs for his Soteriology. But the ‘proofs’ actually came from Augustine’s writings, not the scriptures! These were not really proofs, (they were Augustine’s Gnosticism cherry-picking scripture verses) so unfortunately they simply were incorrect suppositions. Hence, Augustine, and later Calvin writings hurt folk for what was ‘thought’ to be the truth. For five hundred years, folks have been lead to believe Calvin’s writings and the religious documents based upon them created for the Protestant churches were correct according to scripture. But did anyone stop and take the time to check? Augustine manufactured the proof for his Soteriology from what he ‘believed’ the scriptures were saying. Yes, the very foundation of the Protestant Reformation was built upon a false foundation. (The papal church unfortunately used the Gnostic writings of Augustine for their foundation as well) Luther, an Augustinian monk made the same error. So moving forward, one must be very careful because the writings of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, (the writings of men) may lead you to believe a false, unscriptural gospel that these theologians say is from Jesus Christ. You would be better off reading the New Testament for your self.

    Calvin, when speaking of Salvation, spoke of:

    human inability preventing faith in the work of Jesus Christ.
    predestination.
    particular redemption
    irresistible grace
    the perseverance of the saints

    Please notice that all his (John Calvin) ‘points’ contradicts the words of Jesus.

    Lie 1: Man is unable in himself to believe in Jesus. (T)
    Lie 2: Jesus died only for the elect. (L)
    Lie 3: Man can not resist the grace of God.(I)
    Lie 4: No one called the elect of God -can fall away. (P)
    Lie 5: Only God calls the elect. (U)

    Also notice in “The bondage and liberation of the will” (1543), Calvin’s argument is truly Augustinian. The main issue in this publication involves the freedom of the human will and human choice. Of the seventeen patristic authors quoted, Augustine is used two hundred and thirty-two times. Calvin’s use of the later work of Augustine is certainly evident. No other patristic author comes remotely close in citations. You find the same thing In Calvin’s Institutes, where we find over six hundred Augustine quotes. I pursue this path because Augustine’s 4th century works are saturated with dangerous gnostic suppositions. So why, for over five hundred years, have many Christian theologians failed to examine the ‘root’ of Calvin’s writings, hence his suppositions, which are clearly Augustinian error.

    (sadface)

    You decide.

    ATB

    Sopy
    ___
    Notes:
    http://www.reformed-theology.org/html/books/five_points/chapter1.htm

  180. @ Thersites:

    “scratch the surface and you will find many who have suffered some sort of tragedy yet they get up every day and do their small heroism”
    ++++++++++++++++

    i notice things like this, too. courage, selflessness… the brass tack of my sentiment is that i’m truly proud to be human. sounds funny, because what else would i be — but it’s simply my true feeling.

    no taking sides with carnal as opposed to spiritual, no shaking my fist at God. on the contrary, i’m siding with God and cheering for all of us, God included.

  181. Thersites wrote:

    I find that scratch the surface and you will find many who have suffered some sort of tragedy yet they get up every day and do their small heroism.

    i.e. “The Little Way” of St Therese of Lisieux.
    No Lightning Flash at the top of the Mountain, just everyday life.

  182. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    Eeeeeyeah …… About that ……. things would kinda depend on why the crew mutinied in the first place. Was the captain doing something/ordering the crew to do something that would justify a mutiny???

    Well, the analogy was meant to picture what the First Man and Woman has done to their perfect Creator (who did nothing but love them perfectly), namely their actions cast them (and their progeny) into a state of mutiny.

    Eph 1:19b-21 NLT

    This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.

    Thus, Captain Christ. 🙂

    Eph 2:1-3 NLT Empahsis mine

    1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.2 obeying the commander of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 **ALL** of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. **By our very nature** we were subject to God’s anger, **just like everyone else**.

    Thus, all the “good” that is done in the flesh (in a state of mutiny with Satan the Commander in power) is qualitatively different in God’s eyes than the good done in the Spirit (Christ restored to his rightful place as Captain).

    Am I way off base with the analogy?

  183. @ kin:

    There are many translations on these verses that read significantly different from each other.

    And, yes, you are off base, especially where you go into “Thus . . .” since this is your interpretation (words) and not God’s.

  184. kin wrote:

    Am I way off base with the analogy?

    Short answer is yes. While the early church had a lot of strengths, one of the significance weaknesses was the attempt by many to find an allegorical meaning in every verse in the Bible. It is the opposite error from insisting that every verse in the Bible is literally true (for example, does a parable have to describe an actual situation for the point of the story to be true? Some insist yes). It’s easy and tempting to fall into the error trying to find an allegory in or an analogy for everything in the Bible.

    The Bible describes the consequence of the fall in much simpler terms than your analogy – a fall from innocence and immortality to mortality and loss of innocence. The Bible does not say guilt or sinfulness was inherited from Adam. It says we inherited death (mortality “death spread to all men”). It does not say they committed a mutiny – it says they were deceived. Heb 2:15 says we are in bondage to sin because of our fear of death, not because we inherited guilt or a sin nature. But this does not say that we can be free from sin. Rather, it means we are each responsible for our own sin rather than from some “quality” we inherited.

    In some theologies, such as Calvinism, mankind fell from a state of perfection to a state of total depravity. The grossly overstates both the height from which mankind fell and the depth to which he sank. Some of the best material I’ve found on this comes from the Eastern Orthodox perspective. It’s very different from what Calvinists teach.

    I hope this helps.

  185. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Short answer is yes. While the early church had a lot of strengths, one of the significance weaknesses was the attempt by many to find an allegorical meaning in every verse in the Bible. It is the opposite error from insisting that every verse in the Bible is literally true (for example, does a parable have to describe an actual situation for the point of the story to be true? Some insist yes). It’s easy and tempting to fall into the error trying to find an allegory in or an analogy for everything in the Bible.

    I don’t think I crossed over the line from analogy to allegory with my example. The concept of authority/rebellion is clearly indicated by Paul in many of his letters. Those concepts are found in Gen when Adam (who was not deceived – I Tim 2:14) transgressed and went against his Creator.

    Thanks for the link…looks interesting, and I will read it.

  186. kin wrote:

    The concept of authority/rebellion is clearly indicated by Paul in many of his letters. Those concepts are found in Gen when Adam (who was not deceived – I Tim 2:14) transgressed and went against his Creator.

    Some of us just don’t see with the clarity you have concerning humankind’s alleged rebellion against their creator at the fall. Nor do we see God’s progeny shaking their collective fists at their creator when they lost their immortality.
    There are different ways to read and evaluate Paul’s writings.

    I’m a father and a grandfather and I would take an entirely different view if my kids got talked into doing something that would mean their demise by an interloper who is jealous of and hates them for their beauty and autonomy.
    I would no more claim they’re “spiritually dead” and “break fellowship” with them than I would to myself.

  187. Muff Potter wrote:

    I would no more claim they’re “spiritually dead” and “break fellowship” with them than I would to myself.

    Good comments. If God is like many evangelicals portray him, it would be like one of us breaking fellowship with one of our children for the slightest infraction because we would be infinitely offended. But not only that, we would be too disgusted with them to even look at them – we would have to turn away in horror. And we would have a justifiably white hot rage against them that would result in unending punishment It would only be our gracious forbearance that would hold us back from instantly throwing them into the flames (like Molech?). The only way we could turn to them in love is if a mediator took all their punishment, because every infraction requires endless conscious torture and nothing can be simply forgiven. Once our wrath was exhausted, our children would have to be covered with the mask of the mediator because we would not be able to love our children directly, we would only be able to love them if they were covered by the mediator. Basically, the best we could do is pretend to love them. With this view of God, no wonder there are so many nones and dones.

    My wife sent this to me today. It pretty well sums up the problem: http://christablackgifford.com/my-journey-into-atheism/

  188. Muff Potter wrote:

    I’m a father and a grandfather and I would take an entirely different view if my kids got talked into doing something that would mean their demise by an interloper who is jealous of and hates them for their beauty and autonomy.
    I would no more claim they’re “spiritually dead” and “break fellowship” with them than I would to myself.

    I appreciate your thought-provoking comments, Muff. The hangup I have with your example is that we’re not God, so stuffing God in our paradigm box doesn’t work all the time.

    What do you think of the contractual agreement God entered into with the physical descendants of Abraham – the one where he ‘hung the huge carrot on the stick’ and said if they performed to his wishes, then he would bountifully bless them in so many ways? I’m referring to the Old Covenant transaction at Sinai.

    It doesn’t seem fitting (from a parent’s perspective) when he absolutely knew these people were totally incapable of keeping all of his 613 commandments that he would even allow them to enter in the agreement so foolishly. Almost seems like he baited them.

    Not only that, but we’re told later that entering into this agreement would actually incite the people to break these commandments (that’s the nature of pure Law). Gee-wiz, it seems like he trapped them.

    And lastly, these people and their subsequent generations continuously (and miserably) failed to keep their end of the deal, so God was (rightfully???) angry with them so he zapped them, fried them, and had them swallowed alive via the earth (and an occasional fish 🙂 ).

    Am I misrepresenting the story? Did the story not literally happen? Would like to hear your thoughts, Ken F’s or anyone else’s.

  189. kin wrote:

    Am I misrepresenting the story? Did the story not literally happen? Would like to hear your thoughts, Ken F’s or anyone else’s.

    There is no simple universally agreed upon answer. But there are some things to take into consideration:
    1) We all tend to interpret the Bible through the biases we’ve been taught. The only way out is to investigate traditions outside our comfort zones.
    2) The Jews were called out as a priestly nation to bless the whole world. That would seem to justify higher standards of accountability.
    3) The law was given to show the impossibility of living by it. In this sense the Jews perfectly showed the futility of living under the law.
    4) The OT may not be just the words of God, but also the words of people.
    5) We have to remember that Jesus is the exact representation of God. If the God of the OT does not look like Jesus them it means we are interpreting something incorrectly.

    It helped me to look at both Jewish and Eastern Orthodox theology. These traditions are very different from what I was taught and bring a different perspective on some of these difficulties.

  190. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Once our wrath was exhausted, our children would have to be covered with the mask of the mediator because we would not be able to love our children directly, we would only be able to love them if they were covered by the mediator.

    “Uh, that’s Under the Blood.”
    — Mike Warnke when he got caught

  191. kin wrote:

    Am I misrepresenting the story? Did the story not literally happen? Would like to hear your thoughts, Ken F’s or anyone else’s.

    No, you are not misrepresenting the story.
    I thoroughly enjoy and believe the supernatural tales found in the Hebrew Bible.
    I don’t care what Pete Enns or Bart Ehrman say.
    I also love the supernatural exploits of Messiah, and believe them to be true.
    I am not however under any contractual obligation drawn up for the physical descendants of Abraham, I am not a Jew or genomed from the house of Israel, that was for them in that time and that space, it does not apply to me.

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