Clergy Abuse Scandal and Possible Cover-up Rock Church of England

"The Christian Brothers were fairly mangled fellows in Navan. Some men speak highly of them. Unfortunately I never saw that. I just remember the brutality. The Paddtbats, the straps that would fly out of the soutane like vipers' tongues, the beatings amidst the prayers – whack!"   -Pierce Brosnan, Actor, on his abuse by religious brothers while a boy at school in Ireland.  link

The Deebs thank our good friend, Eric Bonetti, for reporting on this explosive story regarding sex abuse and the Church of England. Eric is a member of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) and follows what is going on in this denomination very closely. From time to time, he will be reporting on issues that are relevant to the concerns of TWW. 


A recent independent report, described as “harrowing,” by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has shaken the Church of England. The report, Abuse of Faith, prepared by Dame Moira Gibb, details more than 20 years of sexual abuse of young men and boys by former bishop Peter Ball. Additionally, the report documents a cover-up that reaches the very highest levels of the church, Including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who at the time of the abuse headed the Church of England and served as symbolic head of worldwide Anglican Communion.

Speaking at a news conference, Welby acknowledged that, when confronted with allegations of misconduct against Ball, the Church of England "colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward,” adding, “There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systemic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades."

Describing Ball’s conduct as “shocking,” Gibb went on to say that the matter was compounded by the failure of the Church to respond appropriately to his misconduct, again over a period of many years. Ball's priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused. The Church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others."

Ball, who served a short prison sentence and was released on probation in February, was described in the report as having, "a well worn 'modus operandi', in which he would target and groom boys and young men. His abuse was charged with religious intensity. The men we interviewed spoke of how he 'exploited the significance, particularly within the Anglo Catholic tradition, of ritual'. For Ball religious rites became 'a mask for abuse, and theology (was) used as a way of justifying abuse'. The evil of what he did was 'compounded by his message that this made the victims more special and more holy'." These “rituals” appear to have included naked prayer and physical abuse, as well as overtly sexual activity.

Perceptions of Power Lead to Abuse

But it wasn’t just religious ritual that gave Ball cover.

Gibb’s report details how Ball allegedly used perceptions of power, both to engage in abuse and to shield himself from church scrutiny. An inveterate name-dropper, Ball worked liked to create the impression that he had a close relationship with the Prince of Wales, even going so far as to assert that Prince Charles had made arrangements for him to rent a home from the Duchy of Cornwall, the prince’s estate. Gibb’s report noted, however, that the home in question was purchased and subsequently leased by the estate in the ordinary course of business, with no intervention on the part of the Royal Family. Thus, by trading on the Queen’s role as Governor of the Church of England, Ball both curried power and effectively insulated himself from accountability.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey Criticized in Report

The report makes clear that many fell under the sway of Ball’s illusory powerful connections. Most damning was evidence in the report that Lord Carey, during his time as Archbishop of Canterbury, both ran interference for Ball, and assisted in his return to power following previous accusations of indecent behavior. Carey is further alleged to have been aware of six additional written complaints about Ball’s sexual misconduct, but did not turn this information over to the police.

Lord Carey responded:

“I accept the criticisms made of me. I apologise to the victims of Peter Ball.”

"I believed Peter Ball’s protestations and gave too little credence to the vulnerable young men and boys behind those allegations. I regret that after Peter Ball was cautioned I did not place his name on the Lambeth list.”

The Lambeth list is one of several lists maintained by the Church of England of clergy against whom accusations of misconduct have been made. In most cases, clergy on the list either cannot officiate as priests, or may only serve in a severely limited capacity.

Subsequently, Lord Carey has stepped down from his present, largely honorary position.

Additional Recommendations

While noting that much of the abuse occurred many years ago, and that the Church of England today makes a more concerted effort to protect persons from abuse, the report offered 11 recommendations for protecting against future such incidents. These include: focusing on getting the right support in place for survivors, the leadership of bishops, strengthening guidance, reviewing the Archbishops' Lists and the effectiveness of church disciplinary measures with regards to safeguarding related cases.

Peter Hancock, the bishop in charge of the Church of England’s sexual misconduct prevention program, added:

“For the survivors, it may feel this is all too late.  I am personally aware from my meetings with individual survivors in the course of my work that they live with the effects of this abuse for their whole life. I once again offer them my wholehearted apology.   This Report affirms the direction and steps that we have taken to improve the consistency, robustness and rigour of our practice, but progress has been too slow. It has taken longer than it should have done, but we are absolutely committed to implementing Dame Moira's recommendations and my role as lead bishop is to ensure this happens."

What Went Wrong?

So how did such a shocking situation develop and flourish for so many years? In part, the report acknowledges that the Church of England’s historic attitude towards homosexuality may have played a part, promoting a culture of secrecy around issues that should have been openly discussed.

This author believes that another factor, often alluded to in the report but never fully explored, is the nexus of power and abuse.

In his excellent blog, Surviving Church, retired Church of England priest Stephen Parsons (no relation to Dee) says of the matter,

“What do I take from reading this report? Apart from being reminded how the church seems to care more about its institutional reputation than individual people, I realise how little insight there is about power operating within the church institution. Power exists in many forms in the church. A danger which is potentially acute arises when charismatic power is combined with institutional power. This was the situation for Ball and there was in him enormous scope for destructive behaviour. This blog has at its aim to be sensitive to all expressions of power in the church….There is also the power of charisma, the power of institutional authority and the power assumed by the male of the species over the female.

Within a church all the strands can come together. They are at best untidy but sometimes they form a potentially abusive combination. The people who are best able to tell us how power is operating are not the holders of this power. We need to listen to those who feel bullied, controlled and generally manipulated by the people who use power in the ways we have named above. When we have this fuller insight into the way that church and power coexist, then we may be able to begin to rebuild the institution. We want a church which is life-affirming, encouraging and empowering for all. That sort of church is sadly still a long way off. Reports like the Gibb Report show relatively little insight into the power dynamics in our church on the part of leaders even in the year 2017."

An original copy of Gibb’s report can be accessed in PDF here.


Comments

Clergy Abuse Scandal and Possible Cover-up Rock Church of England — 163 Comments

  1. Eric,

    Thanks for your excellent reporting so that the TWW community can stay informed about this terribly upsetting situation.

  2. Romans 12:19

    Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

  3. No demoniation/non-demonation, denomination, or group is free from, or above this type of situation…. Covering up seem to the “normal” default when abuse such as this occurs. That is why this blog is so important; the fact that this happens every where means we all need to look out for it, and protect the vulnerable amoung us.

  4. The honorary position that Lord Carey stepped down from was as honorary assistant bishop; however, he has not stepped down from being active in the House of Lords. Certain senior CoE bishops (26 of them) while bishops also have a role in government by being in the House of Lords with the ability to vote and debate. When they retire most will lose that position but in recent years it has become traditional for the retiring Archbishop of Canterbury to be given a life peerage which allows him to stay in the Lords. Currently Carey and Rowan Williams are former archbishops who are also Lords Temporal. Richard Harries who was bishop of Oxford was also given a life peerage upon retirement.

    You will note Carey (of Clifton) among the debaters on Historical Child Sex Abuse, 30 June 2016
    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2016-06-30/debates/0A3DA68C-BF92-4DBC-B734-4672AA0A8A9D/HistoricalChildSexAbuse

  5. If anybody is confused by the names try this link and scroll down to the section on ‘official names’.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Episcopal_Church_(United_States)

    This BDSM stuff is what scares me. There is a current article in the media about the abducted grad student and it gives some information about how people with BDSM fantasies can now go to web sites which cater to them, and it mentions something about the number of fantasies out there. I found the article terrifying to read.

    I was reading it in view of the information I had from a psychiatrist in a town where we used to be about how BDSM is not all that uncommon. He had presented to the church (Presby) that an unused room for the safe practices of this stuff could be made available in the church itself. I was and am appalled.

    I would be just a lot happier if I were more surprised by this situation described in this post. IMO we have apparently closed our eyes to this possibility for way too long.

    I frankly can’t get overwhelmingly upset about some preacher who commits adultery with another adult. It is sin certainly but not necessarily perversion by definition. But the crazies just scare the wits out of me. And I do not believe for one minute that this man’s superiors did not believe the stories of abuse; they could not have been that obtuse. IMO it was about protecting the image of the church at the expense of the victims.

  6. From the post:

    “For Ball religious rites became ‘a mask for abuse, and theology (was) used as a way of justifying abuse’. The evil of what he did was ‘compounded by his message that this made the victims more special and more holy’. These ‘rituals’ appear to have included naked prayer and physical abuse, as well as overtly sexual activity.”

    This mimics the case in the Netflix Series, “The Keepers”.

  7. okrapod wrote:

    He had presented to the church (Presby) that an unused room for the safe practices of this stuff could be made available in the church itself. I was and am appalled.

    Wow. Now that’s different. And weird. Doesn’t make me want to go to church….
    Anyway, this about power more than sex. That’s what drives it.
    Waaay different than what consenting adults do. These men don’t want consent. The thrill is imposing your will on a compliant, powerless victim. Religion is the ultimate power.
    Doesn’t get much sicker than this…

  8. Jack wrote:

    Religion is the ultimate power.

    Well not really, now if you marry it with state power then watch out. Thankfully Christ himself was one of the first to draw the line between religion and government with his “render to Caesar” reply. I live in a university town and we are now having the social justice warriors wreaking havoc with local business, they represent a secular religion and heaven help us if theirs becomes the state religion.

    So I would widen your net from religion to include ideology and both are scary without checks and balances.

  9. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England’s recent decisions are very concerning. In addition to this wretched case, they recently approved of having Robert Morris and Gateway Church’s abusive The Blessed Life teachings rolled out to exploit their members into surrendering 10% of their gross pay. The taxes in the U.K. are far higher than in the U.S., so many families do not have the extra 10% to spare.

    This kind of false teaching preys on the elderly and those most financially desperate. Because The Blessed Life drives up weekly tithes the COE and the Archbishop are willing to teach their members they will be cursed if they do not cough it up and only receive blessings if they do. If there are any COE attendees reading this, you should check out the Deebs other articles on this topic to find out what you are in for.

    The COE is also eager to emulate the very financially successful COE Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB)Church which is part of the Vineyard Movement. That church promotes the same teachings as Carol and John Arnott’s The Toronto Blessing/Catch the Fire churches. HTB also produces Alpha which is the new Millennial friendly religion and the doctrine is about as sound as Rob Bell’s. Millennials eat it up like Bell’s Noomas, because it is seeker friendly and beyond gospel-lite.

    At the rate they are headed, I am expecting Oprah Winfrey to be named a Cardinal any day now. People who care about the faith need to encourage the Church of England to eschew what they see as a money making, or in the case of sexual crime cover-ups, money saving, and get back to the Bible before it is too late.

  10. That Pierce Brosnan quote just gets to me. It just shows how insidious child abuse can be. I would never have imagined him to be a survivor. Where is God when children and young people are being beaten and molested?

  11. The bloody Church of England
    In chains of history…

    — Ian Anderson (aka Jethro Tull) —

  12. One trend that I see growing in the seeker friendly movement is sexualizing the youth groups. This creates an environment where this Bishop Ball style abuse can take place. It starts by turning youth services into nightclubs. The girls 12-17 dress like sorority girls night clubbing. The youth pastors encourage the kids to check out the opposite sex and joke from the altar about “hoping and scoping” or patting the girl next to you on the bottom to say “hi”. They make it sound like simple fun, but they are breaking down barriers on purpose.

    The leaders and the youth pastors wear inappropriate clothing that is only seen on someone like Justin Bieber. Not even Harry Styles dresses like this. The vacuum packed skinny jeans with the rips going all the way to the groin. The buckshot (holes are blown throughout the shirt like from a shotgun) scoop neck tees showing off their chests and the men work out incessantly and have the tattoos highlighting their physique. These youth pastors and leaders have the trendiest hair styles and accessories. The young girls are giddy as these men work the stage with their comedy and mic drops. They are rockstars working the girls as their groupies.

    Every single one of Gateway’s campus youth pastors has given sermons about their severe porn addictions. Every one of them. They get kids to think about sex and porn and associate that with a church service. These kids are t the age where their hormones are raging. This kind of talk doesn’t belong on the altar as a sermon. They talk about it often and how difficult their struggle is. The Frisco Pastor a week ago talked about his penchant for indulging on Christmas Days thus associating titillation with our Savior’s birth.

    It seems these youth pastors, who were addicted to hard-core XXX porn, were suddenly and rather conveniently cured of their porn addiction when they found their calling to youth ministry. Their job entails encouraging nubile teen girls to dress like nightclubbers, encouraging them to “scope and hope”, and my personal favorite, they make them jump up and down, bouncing all over the church floor during the worship service. Last week they made them bend over and crouch down before jumping in the air as high as they could, then bouncing up and down for another 25 minutes. Some of the young boys walk 30 minutes to get to the bouncy party house each week, and the 40-sormething Executive Pastor over youth admits and jokes about how it is to look at the girls.

    That’s a whole lot of lust going on in your local mega every week. The leaders, typically in their early 20’s, are exceedingly fashionable, they drive cool cars and the groupies love their rockstars. It’s a combustible environment.

    The other more insidious part of the “let’s preach about hard-core porn addictions then break into small groups to discuss it further”, is that is how many predators in the church kick-start their grooming process. Read the horrible case of Pete Newman from Kamp Kanakuk.

    Ole Pete just wanted to help the boys deal with their lustful thoughts. He started by talking about his lustful thoughts. Then he escalated by discussing how to deal with them in a way that keeps you from “sinning”. Then the boys started practicing his techniques in the hot-tub. That led to indescribable sex abuse.

    This is a standard MO for pedophiles in churches. They use the “sin”, “confession” and “purification” angle just like Bishop Ball and Fr Maskell in The Keepers. They convince the kids that they understand what they are going through since they already fought that demon and they can help them get through this. The first confessions bind the kids to the leaders as they experience shame and fear of their secrets being outed. The predator preys on that fear and shame. These same groups pressure the kids to confess their darkest secrets. That creates the bondage the predators need in order to escalate.

    Parents need to realize that pedophiles flock to youth groups and they should react accordingly. Don’t let your leaders and pastors preach about highly sexualized material. If you hear them doing this speak up. If not for your kid, then for the next kid. Don’t let the leaders discuss porn addictions in their small groups. Leaders then use those discussions to followup with the more vulnerable students. This leads to the Pete Newman type encounters.

    I realize that porn addictions are a very real problem faced by kids ages 12-17. But talk to anyone who has been abused and find out how more severe their problems are for life. One of Bishop Bell’s victims, Neil Todd, killed himself.

    If you are really concerned about your child having a sexual addiction, get them into licensed counseling. At least there the counselors have something to lose if they exploit the addiction for sexual favors. Consider having a trusted friend or family member speak to them. Buy accountability software. Have your kids charge their phones and laptops in their parents bedrooms at night.

    Do what you have to do, but please don’t allow your kids near these rockstar preachers who are continually discussing their hardcore porn addictions. If you find out that your youth pastors and/or leaders are sermonizing and discussing hardcore porn addictions on the altar or in their small groups, speak up to top leadership and strongly object before it is too late. It’s not about being prudish on the topic of sex or pornography. This is a well known, well documented point of exploitation for hebephiles and the damage is lasting. It is, regrettably,a trick of the trade. This is a tragic TWW post waiting to happen.

  13. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Where is God when children and young people are being beaten and molested?

    I went to a Gateway KAIROS healing seminar once. Everyone at Gateway said it’s the best experience ever. One of the teachers was a woman who said that during her healing room experience, she went into a trance and relived the night she was being raped and that Jesus was holding her and gently stroking her hair. I sat their in total disbelief. She made it sound like Jesus was her guide on some hippy acid trip from a 1970’s movie.

    I have heard many similar stories after that from Gateway members and staff. When they go through Freedom Ministry and meet with a “counselor” they use hypnotherapy. The lay person/hypnotist has them relive whatever their trauma was and they inevitably are led to see where Jesus is and what He was doing during this time frame and it turns out every person I have heard from says they were led to “see” Jesus there, just sort of watching and often He looks sad or is crying.

    Beenthere, I don’t know what the correct answer is. God is omniscient and omnipresent, so He would be aware of and omnipresent during evil acts that are bound to occur in a fallen world. But it somehow sat badly with me, that He was just stroking her hair. I guess I would want my version of “Hypnosis Jesus” to be watching with his arms crossed, looking like the Lion of Judah, telling the evil abusers, “your day is coming and you will not escape My wrath.” I personally would feel more comfortable with that image. What are your thoughts?

  14. LT wrote:

    HTB also produces Alpha which is the new Millennial friendly religion and the doctrine is about as sound as Rob Bell’s. Millennials eat it up like Bell’s Noomas, because it is seeker friendly and beyond gospel-lite.

    I don’t think this is a fair description, unless it has substantially changed in the last 10 yrs or so.
    The COE has its problems but I’m very pleased that the Archbishop has been so straightforward about the sins of abuse in the church & the sins of his predecessor in helping cover it up.

  15. @ BeenThereDoneThat:
    My Mum went to convent school in Dublin. When I got this hilarious little thing called a Nunzilla – a small wind up Nun that spits sparks as it walks – she immediately named it Sister Bernadette, if I remember rightly. Every other convent educated person I’ve tried this with always spontaneously names it too. My family is of the opinion there are 2 types of Nuns – the loving & saintly, & the sadistic. My Gran, a Priest’s housekeeper & a laundress in a convent for many years once told me ‘the Nuns are bitches’. I’m sure the same holds true for Priests.
    Pierce Brosnan’s statement is that of many – one of the best to listen to is the late great Irish comedian Dave Allen, on why the church messes you up from the start. Such a great insight into the Irish predicament with religion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgbkdrOl3sw

  16. From the post:

    “So how did such a shocking situation develop and flourish for so many years? In part, the report acknowledges that the Church of England’s historic attitude towards homosexuality may have played a part, promoting a culture of secrecy around issues that should have been openly discussed.

    This author believes that another factor, often alluded to in the report but never fully explored, is the nexus of power and abuse.”

    Part 1

    I think that people are making progress in talking about the relationships between power and abuse as well as the dangers of the co-operations between various kinds of power, like state and church mix. There is still ground to be covered, but I do think that this topic is now considered important to discuss.

    But we still have a lot of ignorance about sex and sexuality. The recent dust up at the Lutheran school where some of my G’kids were was because the pastor in sixth grade religion taught the kids more about deviant sexuality than some parents wanted their kids to know. Then when they checked his social media they found some stuff that concerned them. My point here is this: both the content of what we teach the young (or fail to teach them) and the lives of those adults who venture into sexual education of the young must be re-evaluated. How much should we tell the kids? And who needs to tell them? And we need to address the issue of whether warning the kids of the dangers is in itself crossing some sexual line with children, as some believe.

  17. @ okrapod:

    Part 2

    Our opinions as a society and as parents and grandparents are just all over the place. Personally I see no advantage in ignorance. None. And yes I am talking about telling the kids that some people are legitimately twisted and explaining what they might do.. And I see no advantage in the attitude that whatever the other person wants to do is OK under the mantra of ‘as long as they only hurt themselves’, because too many just don’t ‘only hurt themselves’. The vaunted ‘age of innocence’ for children is dangerous for the children.

    When my oldest was in first grade-first grade I was in the process of telling her stuff that my mom told me at an early age. Then she told her friends at school (of course) and a most disturbing thing happened. I got a few requests from the mothers of some of her friends, transmitted through the child, to ask your mother thus and such; the adults in question were also way too ignorant of various sexual matters. God help us. We cannot protect our children by hiding our heads in the sand.

    We must never leave our children with the idea that everything sexual is somehow tainted with sin, and we must never leave our children with the idea that everything sexual is good for you if you just want to do it. And we must never leave our children clueless as to what is sexual and what is not.

  18. I’ve been an anglican in the UK for years, my DD is a senior anglican cleric. Churches are closing in the hundreds here. There are of course several complex reasons, but I know that the church, be it protestant, catholic, calvinist or arminian or whatever, has lost the trust of secular Britain. It started with the catholic abuse revelations. I have even heard folk say they don’t go to church as ‘they’re all pedophiles there’ so certainly you couldn’t trust it to protect your children in a church Kids Club. These new CofE pedophile scandals/cover-ups aren’t going to help its public image. I don’t know how to get that trust back..or if it’s even possible. When a local calvinistic baptist church here put on our local FB page that they were starting an Awana club, two mothers commented, ‘Religious indoctrination is child abuse’ – that surprised me, I don’t think even 5yrs ago, folk would have been quite so outspoken against a church in this small friendly village. I applaud the fact that these historic cases are being discovered – and I think we have less of a statute of limitations here, so hope the perpetrators are brought to justice.

  19. This saddens me beyond words. Sexual abuse of children is rampant everywhere we look. I believe that the church should be held accountable for their non actions. I believe that schools, universities, etc should also be held accountable when they cover up sexual abuse of children. Years ago when my daughter was in middle school, the band director was in my opinion a pedophile. He kept making comments to my daughter that were totally unacceptable. She then told me he was doing the same thing to other girls. These girls were 12-14. I finally had enough and started making complaints. I threatened to go to the news media if this man’s contract was renewed again. It wasn’t. But other parents had known about this and done nothing. I was a mama bear when it came to my kids. I expect the church to be like me or even more so. I knew a guy who has been abused by a priest. His story was the same thing that we have heard on the media and probably like the ones in England.

  20. @ Harley:

    Yes to that. Right at this moment I think one of the huge problems is the reluctance of some to act on what they know or suspect. Kudos on your mama bear approach.

  21. @ Matilda:

    There seem to be right many problems in the larger Anglican Communion also. We over here ( TEC ) got our wrists slapped over gay marriage when the law changed in our nation. Prior to that many churches and some dioceses had already separated over various other issues. A lot of denoms apparently are in a huge state of disarray right now over here.

  22. LT wrote:

    Do what you have to do, but please don’t allow your kids near these rockstar preachers who are continually discussing their hardcore porn addictions. If you find out that your youth pastors and/or leaders are sermonizing and discussing hardcore porn addictions on the altar or in their small groups, speak up to top leadership and strongly object before it is too late. It’s not about being prudish on the topic of sex or pornography

    okrapod wrote:

    I got a few requests from the mothers of some of her friends, transmitted through the child, to ask your mother thus and such; the adults in question were also way too ignorant of various sexual matters. God help us. We cannot protect our children by hiding our heads in the sand.

    After reading this and seeing other stories of this nature, I’m thinking it is much better for these kids to learn their sexual education in the public school. At least there it is a more clinical environment, the teachers have had education on the subject, they have been background checked to work with kids, and they don’t break down into small groups after. Sounds safer and saner than the church environment.

  23. Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:

    No demoniation/non-demonation, denomination, or group is free from, or above this type of situation…. Covering up seem to the “normal” default when abuse such as this occurs. That is why this blog is so important; the fact that this happens every where means we all need to look out for it, and protect the vulnerable amoung us.

    So true…..no denomination group is immune. Sad fact but true.

  24. Brent wrote:

    I don’t think they’re Neo-Cals

    Neither is the subject of this post. I’m trying to understand your point.

  25. True spiritual authority in the Church is rare, yet I would argue that it’s the only valid authority. Spiritual authority comes from God and draws willing followers, while positional authority creates a structural basis for authority. I remember a time and place where spiritual and positional authority coexisted within the same person in the Church; though the position seemed to always be at war with the Spirit. Now, position reins and the position cares not about the Spirit. In the age of Spirit and Truth, the “church” is being managed Old Testament style with Hophni and Phinehas in the lead. IMO, the true Church only thrives to the extent that positional authority is weak. Institutional reforms might assure that better people take positional authority and that they are better monitored l, but these reforms will never restore spiritual authority.

  26. scott hendrixson wrote:

    True spiritual authority in the Church is rare, yet I would argue that it’s the only valid authority. Spiritual authority comes from God and draws willing followers, while positional authority creates a structural basis for authority.

    It belongs to Jesus. It belongs to no one else in heaven or on earth Jesus draws willing followers, not men.

    Where is this other, earthly spiritual authority you speak of found in scripture?

  27. @ scott hendrixson:
    Bridget wrote:

    scott hendrixson wrote:

    True spiritual authority in the Church is rare, yet I would argue that it’s the only valid authority. Spiritual authority comes from God and draws willing followers, while positional authority creates a structural basis for authority.

    It belongs to Jesus. It belongs to no one else in heaven or on earth Jesus draws willing followers, not men.

    Where is this other, earthly spiritual authority you speak of found in scripture?

    “Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more;
    I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . .

    [Conscience] is a messenger of Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil ……
    Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.”
    (John Henry Newman)

    SCOTT, I’m wondering if you see ‘conscience’ as a moral guide in the sense that it is ‘written on the heart’ as a spiritual guide for all humans?

  28. The Church of England has never really scared the Devil much. So, it’s not surprising to hear of evil alive and well within her ranks and wickedness in high places. If you ain’t scaring the Devil, he’ll walk right in unhindered to steal, kill, and destroy.

  29. LT wrote:

    I would want my version of “Hypnosis Jesus” to be watching with his arms crossed, looking like the Lion of Judah, telling the evil abusers, “your day is coming and you will not escape My wrath.” I personally would feel more comfortable with that image. What are your thoughts?

    I definitely can’t get on board with the idea of Jesus just stroking someone’s hair while they are being abused. It almost seems complicit. But whatever gives someone some measure of peace, I guess. I believe in “free will” instead of determinism. My view has tended to be that God hates with a passion the abuse that men inflict, but he has given them free will to hang themselves if given enough rope. Still, these stories are so awful that I can’t fathom Him not intervening in abuse that is being attributed to “His will.”

    I don’t have an answer either. This is a tough one.

  30. Beakerj wrote:

    one of the best to listen to is the late great Irish comedian Dave Allen, on why the church messes you up from the start. Such a great insight into the Irish predicament with religion.

    That is very funny and also very sobering at the same time.

  31. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Still, these stories are so awful that I can’t fathom Him not intervening in abuse that is being attributed to “His will.”

    I don’t believe that God ‘wills’ abuse. It is said that He permits evil, but He is not the author of evil. He has given ‘choice’ and asked us to ‘choose’ what leads to life. The ‘blessing and the curse’ of choice is on our heads, not His.

  32. From “Longreads” this weekend: “When it comes to the human body, everything can be trafficked. Migrants are a product in a system that breaks them down into lucrative parts, often until there is nothing left.” – Father Javier Cavillo Salazar.

    A revision: When it comes to the human person, everything can be exploited. The vulnerable are a product in a system [religious industrial complex] that breaks them down into lucrative [exploitable: to use selfishly for one’s own end] parts, often until there is nothing left.

  33. LT wrote:

    “your day is coming and you will not escape My wrath.” I personally would feel more comfortable with that image. What are your thoughts?

    I like to think that the Almighty employs Karma and her sister Comeuppance. They are like two advanced terminators from the future. They cannot be reasoned with and they will not stop until Themis’s balances are restored.

  34. JYJames wrote:

    When it comes to the human person, everything can be exploited. The vulnerable are a product in a system [religious industrial complex] that breaks them down into lucrative [exploitable: to use selfishly for one’s own end] parts, often until there is nothing left.

    “The weak are the meat which the strong do eat.”

    — From Novelist David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas

  35. Muff Potter wrote:

    JYJames wrote:

    When it comes to the human person, everything can be exploited. The vulnerable are a product in a system [religious industrial complex] that breaks them down into lucrative [exploitable: to use selfishly for one’s own end] parts, often until there is nothing left.

    “The weak are the meat which the strong do eat.”

    — From Novelist David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas —

    I think about organ-harvesting among the poor in certain nations, that sometimes it is done by traffickers who take the organs from unwilling victims ….. ‘often until there is nothing left’.

    There will be justice far above our understanding of it, and mercy beyond anything we can envision in the world to come. But now, we weep for them what suffers. We weep with them. And pray.

  36. Bridget wrote:

    After reading this and seeing other stories of this nature, I’m thinking it is much better for these kids to learn their sexual education in the public school. At least there it is a more clinical environment, the teachers have had education on the subject, they have been background checked to work with kids, and they don’t break down into small groups after. Sounds safer and saner than the church environment.

    As a mom with kids in public school, the concern I have there is about *what* they might be taught in that setting–if not this year, then in future years at a time when all sorts of perversions are in the process of being normalized in the name of equality. Not to mention the pedos and hebephiles who seem to keep finding their way into teaching positions in said schools. I think it ultimately comes down to parents being proactive with their kids’ learning.

  37. @ LT:
    These developments are quite troubling, especially since there’s been a strong backlash against them in the US. Note: As a faculty member at a conservative Christian college, I was required to attend several sermons by Rodney Howard Brownw (‘Holy Laughter’ movement) as well as several by Benny Hinn (‘Slain in the Spirit’ faith bealing).

  38. @ Max:
    I admire your comments at TWW a great deal. But this comment reminds me way too much of my childhood SBC church’s denigration of every non-SBC denomination as not being really on tne right track with God.

  39. There is a long post with many comments about Ball at the blog
    bilgrimage.blogspot.com. The post also has some discussion of
    Smith (UK, South Africa), about whom TWW recently had several
    posts.

  40. Zla’od wrote:

    I think the basic symbolism of Christianity must encourage or attract this. (BDSM stuff)

    No forum is complete without a troll.

  41. Brent wrote:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/04/sexual-abuse-cadets-covered-officials-urged-victims-not-tell/
    I don’t think they’re Neo-Cals

    The forum isn’t about neocals, it’s about abuse. If it seems that the focus is often on neocal abuse, it’s likely because it just happens that a number of people who post here have experienced abuse at their hands (including me, a former elder at a neocal church where the young, smug men basically worshiped John Piper and Paul Washer, where we sent young men off to Boyce and SBTS, where the two top leaders came straight from SGM). Both Dee and Deb live in an area that could be dubbed “Neocal Central”.

    Neocals are the ones in the U.S. of late making pretensions about representing true Christianity while at the same time doing a lot of things to subvert true Christianity. They’ve been the new movement within the Church over the last quarter century, they’ve promoted themselves a great deal, and a strikingly high number within their ranks have done enormous damage.

    When stuff is in your face with regularity, you comment on it, but that doesn’t necessarily make TWW an anti-neocal site. But TWW also reports on Pentecostal, Catholic, Anglican and nondenom abuse. I’ve commented here on the abusive Arminian pastor at the church I attended after I left the neocal. Abuse is all over, but the neocals are seeking a lot of attention and promoting themselves a great deal, so naturally, they’re going to suffer from the flip side when they fail to live up to they hype.

  42. @ Bridget:

    What’s ironic about this article is that it came out two weeks before the Victoria state police (Australia) announced they were filing charges of “historic sex abuse” against Cardinal Archbishop George Pell, who is the number 3 guy in the Vatican. Given the general power of the Catholic Church, I am about 90 percent sure the police must have very good evidence in order to bring charges against such a powerful man.

    Here’s an article explaining the impact of the Pell charges:

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jun/29/george-pell-sex-abuse-charges-vatican-pope-francis

    On the specific subject of child sexual abuse, this is noteworthy:

    In 2014, Francis drew praise for appointing a special commission to advise him on sex abuse policy that featured two abuse survivors. But today, neither remains. Peter Saunders was essentially forced off the commission after criticising its inaction and publicly tussling with Pell. Saunders claimed Pell lacked compassion for abuse survivors, prompting Pell to threaten to sue.

    Marie Collins resigned in March, telling the National Catholic Reporter in a powerful statement that she could no longer remain on the commission and maintain her integrity. Collins said she had resigned in part because of the Vatican’s failure to establish a tribunal personally recommended by Francis that would have held negligent bishops to account when they ignored reports of abuse. The idea was first presented in 2015 to wide acclaim, but has failed to materialise.

    To be clear, I’m not harping on the Catholic church, particularly since I know abuse happens in all sorts of institutions. I remember in 1971 when a popular teacher at my elementary school (not my teacher) was suddenly removed. I don’t know what happened to him, but I do remember the whispers on the playground that he had been caught doing “stuff” to his students. I have no idea what the “stuff” was but given the time, I have to imagine it was pretty bad sexual abuse.

  43. Max wrote:

    The Church of England has never really scared the Devil much. So, it’s not surprising to hear of evil alive and well within her ranks and wickedness in high places. If you ain’t scaring the Devil, he’ll walk right in unhindered to steal, kill, and destroy.

    You could say this about all churches to some extent.

    The devil gets too much credit. We’re perfectly capable of doing evil without any help.

    Blaming the devil abrogates personal responsibility.

  44. Max wrote:

    The Church of England has never really scared the Devil much. So, it’s not surprising to hear of evil alive and well within her ranks and wickedness in high places. If you ain’t scaring the Devil, he’ll walk right in unhindered to steal, kill, and destroy.

    Well , if that is true most denominations are in BIG trouble.
    I don’t subscribe to that position. We live in a fallen world, and sexual perversion has escalated on all fronts. Suffer the children.

  45. TomkeinOK wrote:

    @ Max:
    But this comment reminds me way too much of my childhood SBC church’s denigration of every non-SBC denomination as not being really on tne right track with God.

    Agreed

  46. LT wrote:

    they recently approved of having Robert Morris and Gateway Church’s abusive The Blessed Life teachings rolled out to exploit their members into surrendering 10% of their gross pay. The taxes in the U.K. are far higher than in the U.S., so many families do not have the extra 10% to spare.

    Do you have a reference for this? Holy Trinity Brompton’s Nicky Gumbel recently had an interview with him (https://www.htb.org/media/blessed-life-interview-pastor-robert-morris) but that is not a church wide endorsement. I find it hard to imagine that various groups/newspapers wouldn’t have made a great deal of noise if the ABC had endorsed it.

    I did find an article on Archbishop Carey back in 1982 suggesting that _rich_ Anglicans give 10% to a church struggling economically. The Diocese of Winchester has a web page on tithing http://www.winchester.anglican.org/resources/stewardship-resources/giving-bible/
    which suggests 10% but also strongly implies that some people have obligations which come before the tithing. Note there are still some legally enforced church taxes in England (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/23/archaic-tax-may-be-answer-to-church-of-englands-repairs-bill-prayers) though it depends on whether the land you own is liable for the tax.

  47. @ TomkeinOK:
    @ K.D.:
    Yes, sorry brothers – you are right, I was wrong. I apologize for my remark. I made that comment in haste out of frustration without thinking it through … frustrated at widespread church leadership abuses throughout Christendom, including SBC.

  48. Jack wrote:

    The devil gets too much credit. We’re perfectly capable of doing evil without any help.

    Yes, that which comes against the church is of the world, the flesh and the devil. The world and the flesh share most of the blame in most assemblies, without the devil ever getting involved.

  49. Erp wrote:

    Do you have a reference for this?

    Thanks. I had the same question. HTB’s website alarms me, but I daresay that many churches have hosted many crackpots.

    Forced tithing is not an Anglican thing, at least not to my knowledge of the C of E or the Episcopal Church here in the US.

    In the past, Episcopalians paid pew rents. This practice was eventually ended on grounds that it excluded people from church.

    Episcopal parishes tend to exhort people to pledge during pledge drives–but they are charmingly reluctant to push individuals for donations.

    If Robert Morris showed up and started saying that demons would infest people who didn’t tithe, Episcopalians would think he was a loony.

  50. Max wrote:

    Jack wrote:

    The devil gets too much credit. We’re perfectly capable of doing evil without any help.

    Yes, that which comes against the church is of the world, the flesh and the devil. The world and the flesh share most of the blame in most assemblies, without the devil ever getting involved.

    since ground zero, the devil has been involved in ALL evil, so any prayer to ‘deliver us from evil’ is an appeal to the full powers of God against THE enemy …. I take a really literal view of ‘satan’, yes.

    “Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
    Stird up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
    The Mother of Mankinde
    (Milton, Paradise Lost)

  51. Friend wrote:

    In the past, Episcopalians paid pew rents.

    Wow! Southern Baptists joke “You’re sitting in ‘my’ pew!”, but some dear old souls actually think they own them after tithing all their life – so you better put your behind somewhere else! Pew rent would probably go over in SBC ranks – in traditional churches that still have pews rather than folding chairs.

  52. If someone tells you you’re sitting in their pew, be sure to sniff the air, then say “That’s okay, I can hardly smell it.”

  53. Friend wrote:

    Forced tithing is not an Anglican thing, at least not to my knowledge of the C of E or the Episcopal Church here in the US.

    Not now but legally enforced tithing of agricultural produce did exist in England into the 19th century though not all went to the parsons. If I recall correctly Holy Trinity Brompton is sort of the flagship church for the evangelical wing of the Church of England and is a megachurch by most standards.

  54. Law Prof–no, I’m serious. You’ve got the torture thing, the hell / judgement thing, and the whole authoritarian vibe. You don’t think this is going to mess some people up? (Not all in the same direction, of course.) I realize that normal Anglicans don’t talk much about hell, are not particularly deferential to their clergy, and prefer bare crosses to crucifixes, but there are all kinds of weird variations, like the Alpha Course (which I found dishonest and manipulative). In this case, we seem to be dealing with a coterie of hoity-toity types (Ball, Carey, Prince Charles) who were able to persuade people that supporting elites like themselves was best for the Church / society in general.

  55. @ Erp:
    @ Friend:

    You speak for me as well, Erp. I’m not aware of the C of E rolling out Robert Morris’s teachings nor demanding tithes and, to be blunt, I don’t believe for one minute that it ever has endorsed either Morris or any other similar individual. The organisation simply doesn’t work that way; it’s too diverse.

    To be frank, the association between the C of E and “Toronto” is also so tenuous as to be trivial.

  56. Bridget wrote:

    Where is this other, earthly spiritual authority you speak of found in scripture?

    1 Corinthians 11:1 may be the simplest expression of spiritual authority from the one with authority. I agree with you that all Spiritual originates with Jesus, but there are many other expressions of spiritual authority entrusted to man. I'm specifically speaking about a converted person willingly following the spiritual leadership of another converted individual who is spiritually more mature. I am not speaking about uncovered people who still need to be drawn to Jesus. I believe that the more fundamental problem is the misunderstanding of authority rather than the misuse of authority. We are simply following the wrong people who rule with positional authority.

  57. My Episcopal Church has a yearly stewardship/pledge drive during which tithing is mentioned and some parishioners publish personal testimonies about their own tithing and how great they think it is. Other than that tithing is not pushed at all.

    The local wealthy(ish) among us want to be visited by appointment each year for the solicitation of their monies. So there are those among us who do that. I formerly worked with a Methodist physician who was one of those who visited the wealthy yearly on behalf of a mega upperish class Methodist church for the same expected personal solicitation of the yearly monies.

    I almost did not tell my church that I was a physician (they asked) because I was thinking that percentage giving would be an issue, and they might look down on me because my retirement income is both actually quite low and also quite impacted by the fact that my daughter and her children moved in with me because of her financially disastrous divorce and we are tight to tighter because of all that. But then I thought, what the hey, it is one thing to be poorish it is another to be cowardly. So they call me by my first name (they ask what our preference is), send me mail addressed to ‘Dr. X’, and say not one word about my pitifully small but reliable contribution except to send me a record for tax purposes. Bless them for that. It is one of the things I like about our parish, and apparently about how TEC works, if my informants are correct.

  58. Zla’od wrote:

    but there are all kinds of weird variations, like the Alpha Course (which I found dishonest and manipulative

    I see your point and don’t think you were trolling.

    When I worked in a mental health facility, religion was a common fixation in many delusions.

    When looked at from a complete outside perspective even the “take, eat” aspect of communion can seem pretty strange.

    Would be interested in hearing about your Alpha experience, if you were willing to share.

  59. Jack wrote:

    When looked at from a complete outside perspective even the “take, eat” aspect of communion can seem pretty strange.

    I think it is strange when I look at it even from and ‘inside’ perspective, especially the more traditional understanding of it.

    I also think it is strange to pray to dead people with the concept of crossing some divide between those who are alive but pre-dead and those who are alive but post-dead, to put the concepts there in slightly different vocabulary.

    I think that the idea of some transference of sin or righteousness or merit or whatever from one person to another is well, a bit much, understanding how close I am here to central doctrine.

    And I think that it is highly suspect to conclude that teaching people that accepting the strange, the weird and the bizarre is a safe thing to do in the face of the evidence that some folks don’t know when to stop with strange/ weird/ and bizarre. Their defensive mechanisms don’t seem to function to well.

    But, hey, I am a believer and a current participant in a local church, problems and all. And I am not now nor have ever been convinced of the religious validity of the outer limits of some of all this.

  60. okrapod wrote:

    I also think it is strange to pray to dead people with the concept of crossing some divide between those who are alive but pre-dead and those who are alive but post-dead, to put the concepts there in slightly different vocabulary.

    this is thought-provoking

    suppose people considered ‘The Body of Christ’ as containing all who ever lived, are living, and will live who become members of it in both ‘time’ and ‘eternity’ …… at that point, ‘death’ loses its ability to divide the members from one another, as they are ‘in Christ’

    so from that perspective, a living member of the Body of Christ is closer to a member who has passed on into eternity than to some others who still live who are not members (other than by power of the Incarnation whereby all of our humanity was taken up into Christ and assumed)

    there is a phrase ‘in Him, with Him, and through Him’ and it is in that understanding that our Christian dead are not so far from us
    (does this make any sense?)

  61. Law Prof wrote:

    Neocals are the ones in the U.S. of late making pretensions about representing true Christianity while at the same time doing a lot of things to subvert true Christianity.

    The average true Christian in America has no idea how serious this moment is. A generational shift is taking place that will change the face of the organized church for years to come. To which YRR shout “Amen!”, while the rest of us lament “Oh My!”

  62. scott hendrixson wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    how would you define ‘spiritual authority’ in the context of your comment?

    1 Corinthians 11:1

    I can see your meaning in this, yes

    but I am also strongly for ‘discernment’ in determining whether or not a leader is consistently following in His footsteps

    discernment: ‘let the fire of the Holy Spirit descend’ 🙂
    and when we see a ‘leader’ abusing innocents or bullying women, we know he has committed to follow one who is the enemy of Christ, so we are spared from his influence BY HIS OWN EXAMPLE of abuse

  63. Max wrote:

    The average true Christian in America has no idea how serious this moment is.

    I would really be careful with the idea of ‘true Christian’ in the light of how Jesus consistently found faith where others did not see it (the Centurion for example) and found much to criticize in those who were not only true to the law as they saw it but also true to the nation and criticized them because of their attitude and actions toward others (the Pharisees).

    I say this because I personally have agreed with what you have said many times about SBC in the old days, but this I do not agree with, nor do I want to have given the impression that I did. We have no blood test nor imaging technique to show faith or its absence, and Jesus has shown clearly that judging by outward signs can be misleading. One’s behavior is there for all to see, one’s heart is known to God alone.

    I read every word you write and benefit from your thinking, but not this.

  64. okrapod wrote:

    the lives of those adults who venture into sexual education of the young must be re-evaluated. How much should we tell the kids? And who needs to tell them?

    Yes. Especially considering this is apparently used as a form of grooming at times.

    I get the argument that sometimes parents don’t do an adequate job of teaching, and learning from other students and young people may not be ideal, but it’s a whole lot better than learning from someone with an agenda. LT’s comment about youth group are very concerning too.

  65. okrapod wrote:

    Jesus consistently found faith where others did not see it

    Amen! Within every group, there is the genuine and the counterfeit. And so it is in the organized church. Not all that go to church are the Church … just as not all the Church goes to church. Judging the outward is indeed misleading – His name is written in the inner man. There is a remnant on planet earth who are true Christians; they not only bear His name, they bear His resemblance in word and deed.

  66. Beakerj wrote:

    @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Ditto. Along with the mischaracterisation of the Alpha course I’m glad others feel this too.

    Well, to be fair, there could be some serious misuse/misapplication of the Alpha course depending on where one has been exposed to it.

  67. Zla’od wrote:

    If someone tells you you’re sitting in their pew, be sure to sniff the air, then say “That’s okay, I can hardly smell it.”

    LOL

  68. Jack, I went once to see what all the fuss was about. It was centered on a series of filmed talks by the main Alpha founder (I’d have to look up his name) which I gathered were common to all the Alpha courses. The first episode attempted to establish that the gospels are reliable accounts, in part because of the sheer number of manuscripts, a line of argument which I found deeply dishonest. My impression was that he was taking advantage of the ignorance of his audience, much as evangelicals do. Afterwards there was some kind of discussion group, but I don’t recall anything about this (or even if I stayed). The event was held at a Baptist church in Taipei.

  69. Harley wrote:

    Sexual abuse of children is rampant everywhere we look. I believe that the church should be held accountable for their non actions.

    I think the only way to make this less common, is to make sure the churches are hit and hard when they let things go. Otherwise it will always be more beneficial to them to look the other way.

    There are a lot of ‘known’ things that go on that are not reported. Maybe people think there isn’t enough evidence and maybe that’s even true, but they tell each other sometimes warn others without officially reporting or doing anything about it. I remember it being ‘known’ that a teacher in 8th grade had a thing for the boys (this was a female teacher). I don’t know if that was a true thing or not, but it was known in the school. Was that an unofficial warning for the boys to be careful? Maybe. And then the ones who don’t hear don’t know to stay away. I think this sort of thing happens often and is why I loathe this ‘don’t gossip’ because gossip is unofficial warning system when the official systems fail.

  70. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    claimed Pell lacked compassion for abuse survivors

    I’m beginning to think this is the biggest tell for abusive individuals and unsafe churches. If someone tells you this awful thing and your first response is not compassion? There is a deficiency there. We see this over and over again.

  71. Max wrote:

    There is a remnant on planet earth who are true Christians; they not only bear His name, they bear His resemblance in word and deed.

    I agree. But it is not for us to define who they may be.

    I totally do not think that adherence to specific details to any doctrinal understanding as the various theological camps would have us do is any symptom of being one who bears the resemblance of Christ in word. Bearing the resemblance of some theological position does not equate with bearing the resemblance of Christ.

    And I do not agree with the protestants on the issue of the level of importance of ‘deed (works)’ any more than I agree with the RCC on their basically opposite opinion on that issue. So evaluating people’s ‘deeds’ as to whether they are a true Christian has to, in my opinion, be limited to those things specifically mentioned in scripture or else we get into the realm of ‘judge not’ when we go beyond what has already been specified as having been determined (adjudicated) by Christ himself.

    And, both words and deeds are highly influenced by circumstances and, from my angle of vision by disease processes, and by training and influence. To untangle that knot in some attempt to say that a person can be determined to be a true christian by word and deed-no, absolutely not. Nor is it sound to decide that somebody who knows all the cultural nuances and all the vocabulary necessarily a picture of Christ. It just does not work that way.

    Let me hit close to home for Baptists-or at least Baptists of old as I knew them. ‘You must be born again’ (Jesus). Indeed so. But there is great difference of opinion as to what that means and what that looks like and as to whether it is necessarily experiential or whether it is a spiritual reality which may or may not accompanied by some perception of religious experience. And in fact Jesus did not explain that aspect of the issue. Nor did he discuss whether religious experience categorized as a born again experience might be phony and misleading. If we say that if one is not born again then one is not a true christian we would be correct. But if we said that we can determine whether someone has indeed been born again by some criteria which we have developed for ourselves, then we would have gone beyond what Jesus said and probably beyond what he meant and we would be wrong to do so.

    That is the sort of thing I am saying. I am saying that Jesus said never mind that there are tares in the wheat field, the angels will sort it all out in the end. In the meantime, let it be.

    And Max, I may be talking to the wrong person in talking to you-you may not be saying that at all-because I am actually talking to the Baptists and their ideas of long ago. I disavow that attitude.

  72. scott hendrixson wrote:

    positional authority

    I think you’re dead on about rejecting positional authority. Spiritual ‘authority’ is a little too nebulous a term for me to get behind.

    People can be right or not. Kind or not. I will listen to them based on my evaluation of them, not on any claimed authority.

  73. okrapod wrote:

    Max, I may be talking to the wrong person in talking to you-you may not be saying that at all

    Okrapod, I agree with what you have said. You’ll never find me defending any theological flavor or denominational persuasion to the death. I only attempt to point out those which run contrary to my understanding of Scripture in belief and practice and to warn folks to beware of them. I may have been born a Baptist, and then born again under that banner, but I don’t support all they say or do. I can only say that God knows who are His and we will all find that out in the by-and-by.

  74. Lea wrote:

    I think this sort of thing happens often and is why I loathe this ‘don’t gossip’ because gossip is unofficial warning system when the official systems fail.

    Amen to that.

  75. Beakerj wrote:

    Ditto. Along with the mischaracterisation of the Alpha course I’m glad others feel this too.

    I checked an on-line site which included a chapter by chapter mention of what Alpha Course is teaching and it looked suspicious to me. When it got to falling out (slain in the spirit) I said oh, oh. However, I do not know the reliability of the site, and the site was clearly opposed to Alpha, so there is bias to consider.

    It looked to me to include some of the more dramatic things from the charismatic renewal being coated in more moderate evangelical batter and deep fried later in the course. If that is not it I apologize. Web sites are certainly not all that reliable.

    In my neck of the woods I have never heard of Alpha Course. And I am oblivious of the culture of the UK so what may sound one way to me may say something entirely different in a different culture, so there is that to take into consideration.

  76. Lea wrote:

    People can be right or not. Kind or not. I will listen to them based on my evaluation of them, not on any claimed authority.

    I’m with you on this.

  77. NJ wrote:

    I think it ultimately comes down to parents being proactive with their kids’ learning.

    Always! Yet as Okrapod wrote, parents are often uninformed.

  78. I can remember when my Anglican cyber-friends sneeringly told me that this stuff was just a “Catholic Problem,” a sign and proof that the RCC is just so much sicker and more evil than every other communion in Christendom. Ditto WRT my Presbyterian, Baptist, and Orthodox friends.

    Now these same friends are making excuses for their own churches’ issues: “Well, it happened so long ago…it was a different world then….”

    So much for concern for the victims.

    The irony is bitter indeed.

    Sorry for the sour note. I’m kind of sensitive about this.

    May *all* victims of *all* perps receive justice and healing. Amen!

  79. okrapod wrote:

    But if we said that we can determine whether someone has indeed been born again by some criteria which we have developed for ourselves, then we would have gone beyond what Jesus said and probably beyond what he meant and we would be wrong to do so.

    Amen and Amen! Wise words, okrapod!

  80. NJ wrote:

    I think it ultimately comes down to parents being proactive with their kids’ learning.

    Always! Yet as Okrapod wrote, parents are often uninformed.scott hendrixson. wrote:

    1 Corinthians 11:1 may be the simplest expression of spiritual authority from the one with authority.

    I simply don’t see any authority conveyed in that scripture. Maybe you could explain how you see it in that scripture.

    Are you saying that Paul is the (from one with authority) when he says to follow me as I follow Christ?

  81. Erp wrote:

    Friend wrote:
    Forced tithing is not an Anglican thing, at least not to my knowledge of the C of E or the Episcopal Church here in the US.
    Not now but legally enforced tithing of agricultural produce did exist in England into the 19th century though not all went to the parsons. If I recall correctly Holy Trinity Brompton is sort of the flagship church for the evangelical wing of the Church of England and is a megachurch by most standards.

    On the topic of forced tithing in general, it has often crossed my mind that signing a church membership covenant could logically lead to that. If it is a legal document that speaks of the obligation to support the church, could it not be extended to a required minimum 10% contribution?

    I remember overhearing a debate between a teaching elder and an elder in a reformed church where the elder was insisting that the tithe be calculated on net income and the teaching elder insisted that it came off the gross. (In that church, the people were taught to tithe a minimum of 10%, with freewill offerings on top of that, to fulfill the “joyful giver” verse.)

  82. Beakerj wrote:

    @ BeenThereDoneThat:
    My Mum went to convent school in Dublin. When I got this hilarious little thing called a Nunzilla – a small wind up Nun that spits sparks as it walks – she immediately named it Sister Bernadette, if I remember rightly. Every other convent educated person I’ve tried this with always spontaneously names it too. My family is of the opinion there are 2 types of Nuns – the loving & saintly, & the sadistic. My Gran, a Priest’s housekeeper & a laundress in a convent for many years once told me ‘the Nuns are bitches’. I’m sure the same holds true for Priests.
    Pierce Brosnan’s statement is that of many – one of the best to listen to is the late great Irish comedian Dave Allen, on why the church messes you up from the start. Such a great insight into the Irish predicament with religion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgbkdrOl3sw

    Interesting that you are “pleased” with the COE’s current stance but still rehashing the evils of your Catholic childhood. Sigh.

    Do you think COE ministers and institutions never behaved cruelly toward children? Have you ever read Dickens? Um, *Oliver Twist* anyone? Who do you think ran the workhouses and orphanages, infamous for ill treatment of the poor?

    FWIW I was taught by Mean Nuns, too, from Boston’s grand old Irish Jansenist tradition. Now I realize that they were also absolutely awesome teachers. The fact that I remember so much of my Latin today is entirely attributable to Sister Margaret Eulalia’s dogged persistence in drilling it into me. She was a tough, wiry little thing — Mammy Yokum in a habit — but boy, could she teach Latin grammar.

    My husband was taught by jolly German nuns in Louisville. He has an entirely different perspective.

  83. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    I can remember when my Anglican cyber-friends sneeringly told me that this stuff was just a “Catholic Problem,” a sign and proof that the RCC is just so much sicker and more evil than every other communion in Christendom.

    At the time, I must say I never saw anything like that from the Anglican/Episcopalian faith community.
    Your experience is vastly different from mine in regards to Anglican reactions to ‘the Catholic Problem’. I find Anglican people and Episcopalians to be far less judgmental than your contacts were at that time, yes. Their restraint in judgement has proved their wisdom, in that it is now revealed that the perversions that occurred are seen across many different communities, our wounded human nature being what it is.

    Were your friends also associated with other entities that felt the same way? Those alliances will produce similar thoughts over a period of time as birds of a fether flock together.

  84. Jack wrote:

    Max wrote:
    The Church of England has never really scared the Devil much. So, it’s not surprising to hear of evil alive and well within her ranks and wickedness in high places. If you ain’t scaring the Devil, he’ll walk right in unhindered to steal, kill, and destroy.
    You could say this about all churches to some extent.
    The devil gets too much credit. We’re perfectly capable of doing evil without any help.
    Blaming the devil abrogates personal responsibility.

    I partly agree with Jack. And I vehemently DISagree with Max. Child sex abuse occurs in every single religious communion under the sun, including those that supposedly “scare the devil.” Original Sin is an equal-opportunity affliction. To maintain, ostrich-like, that sex abuse is more prevalent in That Other Guy’s Church is to invite disillusionment. It also smacks of the Pharisee vs the Publican. Sorry for brusqueness.

  85. Also, Max: The heroic Ugandan martyrs included Anglicans as well as Catholics. I bet they scared the devil plenty. 😀

    There have been many heroic Anglican missionaries, too. And they often went to very dangerous places that had never heard the Gospel. No doubt this also scared the devil some. 🙂

    Not to mention the early Anglo-Catholic (oxford Movement) priests who ministered in the slums of England’s largest cities, reaching out to the poorest of the poor….

  86. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    I can remember when my Anglican cyber-friends sneeringly told me that this stuff was just a “Catholic Problem,” a sign and proof that the RCC is just so much sicker and more evil than every other communion in Christendom. Ditto WRT my Presbyterian, Baptist, and Orthodox friends.
    Now these same friends are making excuses for their own churches’ issues: “Well, it happened so long ago…it was a different world then….”
    So much for concern for the victims.
    The irony is bitter indeed.
    Sorry for the sour note. I’m kind of sensitive about this.
    May *all* victims of *all* perps receive justice and healing. Amen!

    It is a SIN problem, found everywhere.

  87. Bridget wrote:

    Where is this other, earthly spiritual authority you speak of found in scripture?

    Several thoughts, many claim such authority and it appears give to them by people under them and their preaching is extremely inconsistent within the class of those claiming authority. If their authority was from a single source we should expect more consistency between those claiming it. As with the old gnosticism the leaders claimed special knowledge but they were eventually discredited because each leader’s special knowledge was in marked conflict with a different leader’s special knowledge.

    There are also many passages that specifically teach against a hierarchical structure in the church and lastly if authority was so darned important why isn’t it clearly laid out in Jesus and his followers teaching.

  88. @ NJ:
    Totally agree. Frank talk even with very little ones is necessary these days. I remember we told our little ones what their private parts were, and only an MD with us present, was allowed to touch them etc. Of course we said more too but started with the absolute basics.
    We also had a godly pastor who addressed issues of abuse, including sexual, and to come to he and his wife, if it was occurring.

  89. Mae wrote:

    It is a SIN problem, found everywhere.

    Honestly, at this point, ‘sin’ has been so downgraded as to include everything that it feels like it isn’t a strong enough condemnation.

    What was done is Evil.

  90. As to 1 Cor. 11:1

    Some translations are more literal and some more trying for meaning. I am not a scholar in this area.

    http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/11-1.htm

    So did he mean the person or the example set by the person? Or both? On the one hand one follows both Jesus and the example set by Jesus-or at least we are supposed to. So based on Paul’s statement did he mean follow both Paul and the example set by Paul or something not quite that?

    All I know is ‘as’ can be understood differently. I believe we learned about ‘is’ from you know who. Similarly with ‘as’.

    Follow me as I follow Christ could mean:

    1. Since I am following Christ so you should also.
    2. I am setting you an example of how to follow Christ, and you should follow me in doing that.
    3. Follow me to the extent that I follow Christ…
    4. Never mind about following Christ, you just need to follow me.
    5. Since Christ is always right, and since I follow Christ, then I am always right. Lucky you.
    6. If I do wrong, and you follow me into the wrong, then you are not accountable since I stand between you and Christ.
    7. I know you have heard about the spat between Simon Peter and me, but you need to follow me in this as in all things since I (am the one) who is following Christ.
    8. Something specific to that situation about which we know nothing.

    My personal thinking about Paul, and for that matter the thinking of a lot of actual scholars, is that we should take Paul seriously but we would be mistaken to think that we understood him all that well in some things.

  91. My hope is that those who witness evil done by people who are ‘in’ the Church don’t attribute that evil to the whole community of faith. I fear that is what is happening, especially when the Church is portrayed as ‘evil’ and people are encouraged to abandon the Church.

    In Acts 9, the words of Christ:
    ” “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
    5“Who are You, Lord?” Saul asked.
    “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” ”

    so for Saul who had tormented the young Church, the Light shone in the darkness and he no longer sought to persecute the new Church, but began to serve it as ‘Paul’

    I think those who wish for people to abandon the Church entirely need to rethink that and search out another answer in sync with the prayers of Our Lord for His Church

  92. okrapod wrote:

    if we said that we can determine whether someone has indeed been born again by some criteria which we have developed for ourselves, then we would have gone beyond what Jesus said and probably beyond what he meant and we would be wrong to do so

    Amen. Jesus sets the parameters for small gates and narrow roads, not the teachings and traditions of men.

  93. Lea wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    It is a SIN problem, found everywhere.
    Honestly, at this point, ‘sin’ has been so downgraded as to include everything that it feels like it isn’t a strong enough condemnation.
    What was done is Evil.

    You are right….it is sin, but particularly vile, evil.

  94. Mae wrote:

    Lea wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    It is a SIN problem, found everywhere.
    Honestly, at this point, ‘sin’ has been so downgraded as to include everything that it feels like it isn’t a strong enough condemnation.
    What was done is Evil.

    You are right….it is sin, but particularly vile, evil.

    is there any ‘sin’ that is NOT inspired by the evil one? think about it

  95. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Interesting that you are “pleased” with the COE’s current stance but still rehashing the evils of your Catholic childhood. Sigh.
    Do you think COE ministers and institutions never behaved cruelly toward children? Have you ever read Dickens? Um, *Oliver Twist* anyone? Who do you think ran the workhouses and orphanages, infamous for ill treatment of the poor?

    You’re misunderstanding me a bit – I’m talking here about my Mum’s generation & their experience of Catholicism growing up – her , Piers, Dave Allen, Terry Wogan et al all represent something that was widespread in Ireland in the 50’s. I aso talked to my Gran about what it was like as a child in Dublin in the 20’s & she told me the Priests were like kings. So their childhoods, not mine. So please don’t take it as anti-Catholic, it is only anti some of its adherents during those times & places. Both my Mum & Gran died in the faith, as believers.

    And yes, I know about the Anglicans, & a dozen other places too where kids were abused.I was a church youth worker for 15 years & child safeguarding is a big part of my daily job. And I am pleased about Justin Welby insisting Carey step down. I like this current Pope very much & appreciate his words on the abuse in the church but I don’t know if similar steps are being taken against those who disbelieved or covered up abuse by those Priests under them. If you have examples I’d love to know. There was both physical & sexual abuse in the orphanage attached to the Convent where my Mum went to school it turned out later, & ne of the Priests my Gran was a housekeeper for turned out to be a prolific abuser. It was everywhere during that time frame.

  96. @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    I stand corrected, having already apologized for my comment upstream. I was speaking from frustration re: the growing reports of church leadership abuses across Christendom. I have fruit trees; try as I might, there are a few bad apples on every tree regardless of the species.

  97. Bridget wrote:

    Well, to be fair, there could be some serious misuse/misapplication of the Alpha course depending on where one has been exposed to it.

    Yeah, that is definitely fair. I can’t assume what an individual has experienced.okrapod wrote:

    When it got to falling out (slain in the spirit) I said oh, oh. However, I do not know the reliability of the site, and the site was clearly opposed to Alpha, so there is bias to consider.

    I think it’s the Holy Spirit session that’s been the most controversial, & is why the evangelical church I used to go to didn’t run the course. A lot of people would definitely have prefered a less charismatic version.

  98. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    I partly agree with Jack. And I vehemently DISagree with Max. Child sex abuse occurs in every single religious communion under the sun, including those that supposedly “scare the devil.” Original Sin is an equal-opportunity affliction. To maintain, ostrich-like, that sex abuse is more prevalent in That Other Guy’s Church is to invite disillusionment. It also smacks of the Pharisee vs the Publican. Sorry for brusqueness.

    Much to agree with and to disagree with in this tri-party comment. As a father and a grandfather, I flatly reject the Doctrine of Original Sin. If my kids were talked into something that would mean their demise by a jealous interloper who hates them for their beauty and autonomy, I could no more say that they did it out of rebellion against me any more than I would claim they did it to shake their fists at me.
    Nor would I levy some additional ‘punishment’ on them for their lack of foresight in missing the mark.
    Don’t get me wrong Gate-Crasher, there is also much that I admire in Catholicism and its interaction with this world.

  99. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Child sex abuse occurs in every single religious communion

    I think bad actors can occur anywhere.

    The question is, what does the church (or other institution) DO at that point.

    If you cover it up (or shuffle people around) you will get more of it. This is about organizational policy and choices made.

  100. “The John Jay Study report, as well as my own anecdotal evidence, leads me to believe that many of the priests accused of being child abusers are in fact closeted gay men. A great majority of their “abuses” were homosexually oriented, with boys in their late teens.

    Priests will tell you that there is a sort of Pink Mafia in the Roman Catholic Church; this is the term describing the significant number of closeted homosexuals who live within the Church and occupy the hierarchy at every level of this institution. Those in the Pink Mafia actively promote their own, regardless of ability or credentials, though many prove to be very resourceful and know how to work the system.

    I was aware of a great number of gay priests and bishops who appeared to be pretty open about it–and had partners–some even living promiscuous lives.

    In response to the Church’s sex abuse crisis, the Vatican put out an official “instruction,” basically stating that homosexuals would not be allowed in seminaries…What makes this rule even more impossibly hypocritical is that the very office in Rome that issued that document is staffed by some of the most flamboyantly homosexual clergy. One day, while filming a documentary on the Vatican, I visited several offices in the Curia in Rome. I’ll never forget how I was taken off guard when some of the members of the crew asked me, “Father, who are these guys?” referring to the number of visibly effeminate men in Roman collars and long cassocks walking around. ”
    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-pink-mafia.html
    ____

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4667098/Vatican-police-break-gay-orgy-apartment.html

    _______

    I’m not Roman Catholic – but they appear to have huge issues; particularly in Rome.

  101. Zla’od wrote:

    Law Prof–no, I’m serious. You’ve got the torture thing, the hell / judgement thing, and the whole authoritarian vibe. You don’t think this is going to mess some people up? (Not all in the same direction, of course.) I realize that normal Anglicans don’t talk much about hell, are not particularly deferential to their clergy, and prefer bare crosses to crucifixes, but there are all kinds of weird variations, like the Alpha Course (which I found dishonest and manipulative). In this case, we seem to be dealing with a coterie of hoity-toity types (Ball, Carey, Prince Charles) who were able to persuade people that supporting elites like themselves was best for the Church / society in general.

    Much of the torture/hellfire language you hear preachers using–a la Jonathan Edwards–comes from an interpretation of a single parable that Jesus taught and statements He made to an audience made up largely of Pharisees about Gehenna, a place pretty much the opposite of heaven. But if it so happens that in serving one’s self above others and ultimately rejecting one’s maker results in horrific consequences, and the writers of the Bible communicate this, I don’t find that problematic. If it’s the truth, it may be hard to take, but a palatable lie wouldn’t be preferable.

    Absolutely there are people who are sadistic, abusive and authoritarian. I despise what they do. But at the end of the day, if there’s no such thing as judgment, no justice, then who cares how deceptive and cruel they are, how often they use the pulpit to abuse children and destroy decent people with the temerity to try and prevent it? None of it would matter. Wouldn’t that perspective mess people up?

  102. Bridget wrote:

    Well, to be fair, there could be some serious misuse/misapplication of the Alpha course depending on where one has been exposed to it.

    I don’t think you can say fairer than that. There undoubtedly have been.

    I do know that the “Holy Spirit” session is a bit weird; one group I know who did it set up a room with candles and I think they were following the mandatory instructions – this reflects, I think, a widespread cultural assumption that the Holy Spirit can only be Encountered (capital E) in charged situations that are out of the ordinary. But that’s not an Anglican thing; that’s a UK thing. I kept hearing stuff like “if there’s no worship the presence of God can’t come down” [exact quote] and “you’ve got to have a progression of songs to bring us into the presence of God” [exact quote] from a very diverse cross-denominational group of churchgoers nearby in Stirling, for instance. The Holy Spirit is associated, IOW, with goosebumps and emotional arousal. This is unfortunate, IMHO, and is certainly not the way I’d do it.

    But, pace Okrapod’s web-search, I wouldn’t trust a website describing the Alpha Course, or not one like the one Okrapod described. There are lies, damned lies, statistics, and websites purporting to expose heretical teachings. Indeed, if even TWW were not focused on behaviours rather than doctrine, I wouldn’t give it the time of day.

  103. Beakerj wrote:

    A lot of people would definitely have prefered a less charismatic version.

    To repeat myself a bit, I’d prefer one that is a bit more down-to-earth and real regarding what the Holy Spirit is realistically like from day to day.

  104. Zla’od wrote:

    Jack, I went once to see what all the fuss was about. It was centered on a series of filmed talks by the main Alpha founder (I’d have to look up his name) which I gathered were common to all the Alpha courses. The first episode attempted to establish that the gospels are reliable accounts, in part because of the sheer number of manuscripts, a line of argument which I found deeply dishonest. My impression was that he was taking advantage of the ignorance of his audience, much as evangelicals do. Afterwards there was some kind of discussion group, but I don’t recall anything about this (or even if I stayed). The event was held at a Baptist church in Taipei.

    Am not a major fan of Nicky Gumbel, but if you’re looking for evidence that a historical event occurred, it’s better to have more accounts and manuscripts than less. It’s also better if there are not many counterpoints (e.g., a manuscript in which someone claiming to have been there for every Pesach celebration in the first half of the First Century claims that there was never a crucifixion of anyone named Jeshua who claimed to be Messiah). It’s certainly not ipso facto true because there are many manuscripts, but put it this way: ceteris paribus, would be better to have less than more? Gumbel’s not making a “deeply dishonest” argument, he’s merely laying out some evidence.

  105. @ okrapod:

    This is a really good collection of thoughts, Okrapod, and together they illustrate how careful one needs to be about hanging too much on one verse.

    Scott’s comment above included the phrase…

    I’m specifically speaking about a converted person willingly following the spiritual leadership of another converted individual

    … which is salutary in itself. I’m wary about hanging more on Scott’s words than he intended, nor am I suggesting he was deliberately changing the vocabulary here. In fact if I were pressed to quote one verse describing authority in scribsher, I don’t think there are many more appropriate than that. But already we’ve moved from “example” to “leadership”. This is a cultural assumption that’s very widespread in modern-day Christendom, and it isn’t confined to any one narrow grouping either.

  106. scott hendrixson. wrote:

    1 Corinthians 11:1 may be the simplest expression of spiritual authority from the one with authority. I agree with you that all Spiritual originates with Jesus, but there are many other expressions of spiritual authority entrusted to man. I’m specifically speaking about a converted person willingly following the spiritual leadership of another converted individual who is spiritually more mature. I am not speaking about uncovered people who still need to be drawn to Jesus. I believe that the more fundamental problem is the misunderstanding of authority rather than the misuse of authority. We are simply following the wrong people who rule with positional authority.

    I don’t see following another’s example as implying the authority of one Christian over another, especially when it’s qualified by “as I follow the example of Christ”. If I tell my kids “Follow my example, the good examples, the times where I’m doing the right thing” that’s not an expression of authority rather than imploring them to do the right thing. The believers at the time in Corinth didn’t have the benefit of a complete set of four Gospel accounts to outline Jesus’ example, they didn’t have all the Pauline epistles, they likely didn’t have much of the other writings from John, Peter, James, et. al. They had primarily much one thing: Paul’s account of what Jesus did and his example thereof. So his admonition makes perfect sense in this light, especially with an immature group of believers who at the time were having a great deal of trouble doing much right.

    Of course, there are other examples of scriptures that state the wisdom of older, more mature Christians should be emulated, such as young men being told to submit to older men, older women being told to train younger women, children told to submit to their parents. The problem I have is when people ignore many biblical admonitions to the contrary and set mature Christians up as rulers and authorities over other mature Christians, that’s not something you can honestly derive from the Bible, in fact, you arguably can’t even set up a good biblical argument that a superior class of Christians has the right to be the primary teachers over other mature Christians–“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you.” 1 John 2:27 (from the ESV for our Calvinist readers)

  107. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    …if I were pressed to quote one verse describing authority in scribsher, I don’t think there are many more appropriate than that. But already we’ve moved from “example” to “leadership”. This is a cultural assumption that’s very widespread in modern-day Christendom, and it isn’t confined to any one narrow grouping either.

    Yes, and that’s a leap of logic I don’t believe can be honestly made. One has to read personal or cultural biases into the scriptures, to eisegete, before they can reach that conclusion on the basis of a mere qualified admonition to follow another’s example. One also has to overlook several parts of the New Testament that scream against setting up authority structures, the establishment of titles, and the existence of rulers within the church, including from Paul himself. Again, if Scott is purely pointing out that under certain conditions such as with new believers and children in a family context, there are limited circumstances where one believer has some authority over another, OK. I do have authority over my children, and as a young, immature believer, I needed to learn from those who had more wisdom and experience than me–my wife was one of these three decades ago, as her three years knowing Jesus gave her insight that I, a new believer, didn’t have, and I listened to her and learned. But now we’re co-heirs, co-equal, mutually submitted, correcting each other as needed, the way it ought to be for all mature Christians within a church building or not.

  108. Law Prof wrote:

    The believers at the time in Corinth didn’t have the benefit of a complete set of four Gospel accounts to outline Jesus’ example, they didn’t have all the Pauline epistles, they likely didn’t have much of the other writings from John, Peter, James, et. al. They had primarily much one thing: Paul’s account of what Jesus did and his example thereof.

    Bottom-line in Paul’s preaching was that folks would choose to follow Christ, not Paul. After they heard about Jesus from Preacher Paul, they exercised their free will to follow Jesus or not. Are New Calvinists following Jesus or celebrity preachers who deliver the reformed message? Whose disciples are they? Who are they emulating really?

  109. Brent wrote:

    I’m not Roman Catholic – but they appear to have huge issues; particularly in Rome.

    Other than an anti-Catholic propaganda screed that also caters to the prurient interest of the anti-gay crowd, I fail to see the point.

  110. Max wrote:

    Bottom-line in Paul’s preaching was that folks would choose to follow Christ, not Paul.

    That seems like the obvious, slap-you-in-the-face moral of I Cor 11:1.

    Max wrote:

    After they heard about Jesus from Preacher Paul, they exercised their free will to follow Jesus or not. Are New Calvinists following Jesus or celebrity preachers who deliver the reformed message? Whose disciples are they? Who are they emulating really?

    That’s the problem right there. Of course, it also extends to Pentecostals, IFBs, Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, etc. But yes, I see it again and again in the neocalvinists. They’ve taken the hero worship to an extreme, and it’s a maxim that if you look for a hero to worship (and that hero’s not Yeshua ben Yosef of Nazareth) you will never find one, because only scoundrels think they’re heroes.

  111. Max wrote:

    @ TomkeinOK:
    @ K.D.:
    Yes, sorry brothers – you are right, I was wrong. I apologize for my remark. I made that comment in haste out of frustration without thinking it through … frustrated at widespread church leadership abuses throughout Christendom, including SBC.

    Accepted, we still love you, and you’re absolutely correct on the leadership.

  112. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    But already we’ve moved from “example” to “leadership”. This is a cultural assumption that’s very widespread in modern-day Christendom, and it isn’t confined to any one narrow grouping either.

    interesting point …..

    them who would be ‘leaders’ must be servants, not ‘bosses’ and their service IS to model following Christ in how they treat others and interact with others

    the servant’s role awaits anyone who would be a leader in the Church

  113. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    May *all* victims of *all* perps receive justice and healing. Amen!

    Agreed. Sad to say, abuse is found in many religious and secular settings. There’s not much point in sneering at the institution that is currently in the headlines. Better to take a look at one’s own institution and ask, Is that happening here too? What keeps us safer than them?

  114. JYJames wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    And didn’t Paul actively teach to follow Christ and not him or any other disciple?

    Yep, and he went bonkers–tore their clothes, a Hebrew expression of great grief, it’d be exactly the thing to do when you bury a child–when people tried to attribute god-like properties to him and Barnabas. Oh that sundry celebrity pastors and church potentates big and small would more commonly do likewise.

  115. NJ wrote:

    As a mom with kids in public school, the concern I have there is about *what* they might be taught in that setting–if not this year, then in future years at a time when all sorts of perversions are in the process of being normalized in the name of equality.

    In our district, families can opt out of family life education, which encompasses sex ed and other topics.

    I was reassured by the materials for young teens. A unit about peer pressure taught kids not to accept drinks from others, and suggested ways to say no to drinks, etc., while saving face. The content was clever, and much of it would not have occurred to me.

    If there are gay and trans kids in the US, they are also in schools somewhere. Teens tend to be very intolerant of them, often while simultaneously believing they don’t exist. Some teens also use anti-gay slurs quite freely–which is cruel and rude, regardless of one’s beliefs. When the neighborhood teens use this language around me, I gently say something like, “Well, you do realize that you go to school with some gay/trans kids, right?” This can lead to a discussion about how different people can share the building in peace (a never-ending challenge). Teaching that something exists is different from endorsing it.

    All kids need to be taught early about pedophiles–long before they encounter sex ed in schools.

  116. Friend wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:
    May *all* victims of *all* perps receive justice and healing. Amen!
    Agreed. Sad to say, abuse is found in many religious and secular settings. There’s not much point in sneering at the institution that is currently in the headlines. Better to take a look at one’s own institution and ask, Is that happening here too? What keeps us safer than them?

    Sexual predators go where the prey is. Sadly, that is any institution where children are accessible.

    We have been too naive to think the Church is exempt from paedophiles. Where children are present, there are sure to be paedophiles.

    I hate that this is true. Yet, everyday there are new reports of deviant pastors, priests, deacons, teachers, school bus drivers, etc.

  117. It is quite true that sexual abuse is a problem virtually everywhere. People focus on the Catholics for the same reason that vegans protest McDonalds–because they’re a big, convenient target. But Jewish groups have a huge problem. Tibetan Buddhists have a huge problem overseas (not so much in the USA, where it’s mostly adults, and the sexual scandals are of a different kind.) The Hare Krishna had a huge problem in the past. Orthodox Christians should be very concerned.

    A few years ago I read Daja Wangchuk Meston’s autobiography “Comes the Peace,” which describes how his Tibetan wife came to the US in her teens, and worked as a housekeeper for a Unitarian Universalist minister who forced her to have sex with him. She was at sea in this alien culture and didn’t know what to do, she felt she had to keep on letting him to it. As far as I can tell, the UU hierarchy didn’t do anything wrong–they didn’t cover it up or anything.

  118. JYJames wrote:

    Red Flag = a spiritual leader’s practice of self-promotion.

    Definitely! If you start a consulting business, it’s OK to self-promote yourself; if you have a skill, market it. A gardener in my area self-promotes his tomatoes at the farmer’s market as the juiciest and tastiest (I bought some; they are). My local dentist self-promotes his dental fees vs. higher ones in a nearby city. But when a pastor self-promotes himself, he stands on dangerous ground … his business is to promote Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is pretentious to use testimonials and endorsements about how great you and your ministry are or to stand in your pulpit and remind the pew how lucky they are to be in your presence. Every pastor should lift up the name of Jesus above all names … when they do that, they will find that promotion comes from the Lord with no help needed.

  119. Law Prof, any decent university or seminary course on the gospels should go into the documentary issue. Yes, there are many tens of thousands of more or less ancient gospel mss. A few of the oldest are from the mid-2nd century. (Also there are patristic citations to consider.) The text themselves are obviously inter-related (the synoptics). Portions show signs of having been passed down as oral folklore, or of adaptation from OT stories and the like. The fact that they are full of miracle accounts and appeals to apocalyptic prophecy further discourages us from relying on them as historical accounts. It is a bit like trying to reconstruct the life of King Arthur.

  120. @ Max:
    @ JYJames:

    Yes, fellows, it’s a sign you’re possibly dealing with an abusive narcissist who may be able to quote the Bible and bring tears to your eyes with a moving sermon–but understands not a word in it.

  121. Authority is at the center of every conversation on TWW. The conversation usually focusses on the person in authority, but never seems look at the source and legitimate manifestations (in a general sense such as helping two parties work out a dispute) of authority. The comments tend to reinforce existing authority structures and call for better management of those structures. Most people here also operate within some sort of institutional framework as part of practicing their faith. Within those structures you follow directions about how to do certain things, when to to do them, and how to do them. Even if you completely agree with everything that’s done and make it your own, these people are administrators of those activities at the very least. If these activities have any spiritual purpose whatsoever you have entrusted the administrators with authority in spiritual matters. It’s also likely that these people have positional authority with few exceptions. My comment about spiritual authority was designed to draw attention to how this and most other cases of abuse of authority are due to the lack of a sound spiritual basis for that authority. I would go further and say that most congregations are prone to the same abuse because there are few people with the spiritual authority that comes from following Christ directly. We should not be compelled to follow anyone on this earth, but should should willingly follow those who follow Christ well and reject coercion and minimize positional authority when leading others. I’m sure I left something out, so please give m a little grace as I’m not suggesting you be subject to any more authority that you’ve willingly submitted to. I’m simply saying that we should only be influenced by those who have followed Christ well themselves whether we do that within our current system or leave the system entirely. In my experience, spiritual authority is becoming.ing more rare within the system.

  122. scott hendrixson. wrote:

    Authority is at the center of every conversation on TWW.

    Several years ago there was a raging debate in SBC ranks about ultimate authority (Southern Baptists are always fighting about something). Well, there was this fuss about where ultimate authority rested: in Jesus or the Word. I had to laugh at their feeble quarrel. Last time I looked Jesus ‘is’ the Word!

  123. Brent wrote:

    “The John Jay Study report, as well as my own anecdotal evidence, leads me to believe that many of the priests accused of being child abusers are in fact closeted gay men. A great majority of their “abuses” were homosexually oriented, with boys in their late teens.

    Priests will tell you that there is a sort of Pink Mafia in the Roman Catholic Church; this is the term describing the significant number of closeted homosexuals who live within the Church and occupy the hierarchy at every level of this institution. Those in the Pink Mafia actively promote their own, regardless of ability or credentials, though many prove to be very resourceful and know how to work the system.

    I was aware of a great number of gay priests and bishops who appeared to be pretty open about it–and had partners–some even living promiscuous lives.

    In response to the Church’s sex abuse crisis, the Vatican put out an official “instruction,” basically stating that homosexuals would not be allowed in seminaries…What makes this rule even more impossibly hypocritical is that the very office in Rome that issued that document is staffed by some of the most flamboyantly homosexual clergy. One day, while filming a documentary on the Vatican, I visited several offices in the Curia in Rome. I’ll never forget how I was taken off guard when some of the members of the crew asked me, “Father, who are these guys?” referring to the number of visibly effeminate men in Roman collars and long cassocks walking around. ”
    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-pink-mafia.html
    ____

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4667098/Vatican-police-break-gay-orgy-apartment.html

    _______

    I’m not Roman Catholic – but they appear to have huge issues; particularly in Rome.

    There is a huge lavender mafia in Anglicanism and Orthodoxy, too. Again, it is seriously wrong and false to assert that one communion (Catholicism) has cornered the market on this stuff. Hasn’t Boz Tchividian explicitly warned against such self-delusion?

  124. K.D. wrote:

    Max wrote:

    @ TomkeinOK:
    @ K.D.:
    Yes, sorry brothers – you are right, I was wrong. I apologize for my remark. I made that comment in haste out of frustration without thinking it through … frustrated at widespread church leadership abuses throughout Christendom, including SBC.

    Accepted, we still love you, and you’re absolutely correct on the leadership.

    Sorry, Max, I didn’t see your earlier clarification. I apologize for my brusqueness.

    I am sensitive on this score because I am just so darned tired of hearing, over and over, that this is exclusively (or primarily) a Catholic problem. I was told this very thing several days ago by a guy who is a member of the scandal-ridden OCA. He is a liberal who supports gay marriage, yet he was inveighing against the Catholic Church as if we had cornered the market on sin. His bigotry would make Jack Chick and Maria Monk blush.

    If we care about the victims, then we care about *all* the victims, no matter who the perp is or what his ecclesial allegiance.

  125. I’d say we’re all giving each other grace, Scott, no major issues there, a decent discussion, fair play all round.

    Authority’s not at the center of every conversation here, but it’s sure at the center of a lot of them, and probably becomes a topic in any thread in which I take part–because for better or worse, it’s an axe I grind. Don’t agree that most here would reinforce existing structures, merely calling for better management–it’s my experience that most would probably question existing authority structures and their validity at all, but this is a matter for fair debate, it’s just my opinion.

    Don’t know if we’re necessarily in disagreement, as I certainly believe Christians within a fellowship would be high fools to refuse to follow the godly example of older, wiser people who genuinely exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. There is also the matter of elders within a church, a concept discussed in the Bible, which I’d suppose are generally people who are experienced, humble, and raised their children to be kind people who love Jesus. We should listen to them, being considerate of what they have to say, allowing ourselves to be persuaded by their examples (Heb 13:17).

    The only part of your post that troubles me some is the argument from convention, you seem to be saying “Well it’s the way it is, this authority, you follow it in your churches, I follow it in mine, spiritual as well as positional, and so that means you’ve entrusted people with authority.” That’s a paraphrase but I think it’s pretty well a point you’re making. What people practice shouldn’t make a difference because the point is not what people are doing, it’s what people should do.

    If that’s misstating your point, please feel free to correct this post.

  126. Christiane wrote:

    Where is this other, earthly spiritual authority you speak of found in scripture?

    Christiane and Bridget

    Hopefully I answered your question above as I just didn’t have the energy or concentration today to respond to all the replies to my post. I tried to use the term spiritual authority in a simple manner as a contrast to the kinds of authority that lead to abuse. My theological stamina is somewhat limited; when you mentioned John Henry Newman, the first person that came to mind was the character John Henry played by Garrett Dillahunt. He was a cyborg who’s program included biblical logic and ethics, but I’m not sure that’s who you are talking about. As tone sometimes gets lost in written communication, the last line is my sad attempt at humor.

  127. Zla’od wrote:

    Law Prof, any decent university or seminary course on the gospels should go into the documentary issue. Yes, there are many tens of thousands of more or less ancient gospel mss. A few of the oldest are from the mid-2nd century. (Also there are patristic citations to consider.) The text themselves are obviously inter-related (the synoptics). Portions show signs of having been passed down as oral folklore, or of adaptation from OT stories and the like. The fact that they are full of miracle accounts and appeals to apocalyptic prophecy further discourages us from relying on them as historical accounts. It is a bit like trying to reconstruct the life of King Arthur.

    I don’t see a problem with oral tradition; understand that in the ancient Hebrew culture, these stories were often put to song and widely disseminated, there was a constant process of checks and balances amongst many thousands (or millions), many of whom made it their live’s work to preserve the accuracy thereof and were downright zealous about it. Of course the Torah was passed down for a few hundred years or so by oral tradition, a fact you didn’t mention, from Moses to the time around David’s reign, but again, no one who understands what this involved would necessarily throw out the whole because it was the product of oral tradition. Their culture was profoundly different from ours–this was about as far afield as you can get from a modern group of teens with a few beers each under their belts playing a game of “telephone” on a lark.

    As for miracles, if one assumes miracles don’t exist then it’s quite likely they’ll conclude that accounts of them are inaccurate. But that’s the point, whether a supernatural being really revealed himself and performed those miracles.

  128. @ Law Prof:

    I think I have a little more to learn about the posting mechanism here before I am a letter to use it effectively. I posted the post that you just responded to, in response to my earlier post and the conversation it generated. I neglected to link to the original post or the replies to that post. I’m also having difficulty gauging the context in which my comments will be interpreted. The goal of this comment was simply to clarify context as simply as possible and avoid context-shift without an exhausting survey of the context in which the original comments were made. I fear that if I try to clarify further I will receive more Grace than I can possibly handle. Grace offered as a chaser to a stiff drink of theology isn’t the same as theology offered in the Spirit of grace.

    But, here goes. Most people here submit to some level of human authority as they worship, serve, etc. I realize that all authority originates with God, but the abuse of authority by humans is central every conversation here. When my wife says that we should pray in the middle of a disagreement, she is speaking with spiritual authority and it’s good for me to follow her guidance at that moment than to reference a quote by (insert name of author here). There are precious few people left who speak with spiritual authority and few people value their humility or look to them as examples to follow.

  129. refugee wrote:

    On the topic of forced tithing in general, it has often crossed my mind that signing a church membership covenant could logically lead to that. If it is a legal document that speaks of the obligation to support the church, could it not be extended to a required minimum 10% contribution?

    FWIW, I spoke with my neighbor who is not a Christian about tithing. He said that the temple (rabbi) sends each family a bill with the amount that is expected to be paid. He didn’t know how the amount was determined. So I could see churches sending out bills with suggested amounts to be paid to those signing a membership covenant.

  130. @ scott hendrixson.:
    Yes, thank you Scott.
    that John Henry Newman I quoted was a man who served as a clergyman in the Anglican Church for many years but then converted to Catholicism in his latter years.

    I do think that when a person carries the fruit of the Holy Spirit in how they relate to others, they will have a spiritual ‘presence’ that attracts others to Christ. So some very humble people in our world have likely been instrumental in shepherding without ever realizing the importance or impact of how they lived their lives in humility before the Lord and in self-less service to others. I think in their ‘witness’, they carry a spiritual authority, yes. But paradoxically, they would not likely be aware of it. Even the smallest act of kindness shown by such a person can be more spiritually powerful than all the ‘church discipline’ strategies of self-important authoritarian ‘leaders’.

    Thanks for responding, Scott.

  131. Law Prof, there is more than one kind of oral tradition. The most conservative forms are those in which a priesthood recites, often with little understanding, a set ritual text repeatedly as part of its job (think Hinduism / the Vedas). But the texts do not start out this way, they take some time to ossify. Other forms are like our jokes or urban legends, and change with every telling. Cross-culturally, myths often change the names of their gods or heroes as they travel. All this helps explain, for example, why several miracles of Jesus follow the same sequence as the miracles of Elisha, or why the same words are attributed to Jesus and Hillel. Some see this as a kind of midrash.

    Incidentally, there is no good reason to consider Moses a historical figure, and David is looking pretty dubious as well. The notion that parts of the Bible can be traced to either of them is quite fanciful–again, think of King Arthur.

  132. Zla’od wrote:

    All this helps explain, for example, why several miracles of Jesus follow the same sequence as the miracles of Elisha, or why the same words are attributed to Jesus and Hillel. Some see this as a kind of midrash.
    Incidentally, there is no good reason to consider Moses a historical figure, and David is looking pretty dubious as well. The notion that parts of the Bible can be traced to either of them is quite fanciful–again, think of King Arthur.

    Actually, I’ve noticed that not just of Elisha but a number of biblical accounts in the Hebrew scriptures, this issue is even addressed at various points by Jesus and the other New Testament writers: several of the Old Testament stories are prophetic of what was to come in the New Testament era, such as the Passover and the death of Jesus, the parallels between David and Jesus, Joshua and Jesus (different versions of same name, of course), Elijah and John, etc. There are many examples of this parallelism in the Old Testament and New. As for Hillel, I would’ve expected Jesus to quote Hillel, he’d have been a very odd and unacceptable rabbi if he did not quote those who’d come before, that was a time-honored rabbinical tradition. Even the golden rule can be traced to earlier rabbis. Nothing controversial about that, in no way solid evidence of some oral tradition ossification. And given my profession, I do care a bit about and have some training in evidence and logic.

    Again, if you start from the premise that it’s all a pious myth, that miracles cannot exist, you’ll interpret everything in that light, and you’ll get the answer that satisfies you; if you start from the premise that something very likely went on in Palestine about 2,000 years ago and that it was something quite unusual, you’ll reach a very different conclusion. I cannot convince you of anything, could speak of devoting my life to Jesus at 18, and without hanging around anyone in particular to influence my behavior at the time, not attending any church, experiencing a paradigm shift so suddenly and extraordinarily that it took my breath away, Could speak to you about what I know to be bona fide supernatural experiences that destroyed my former skepticism–and I am (or was) a skeptic’s skeptic)–could tell you to read the words of Jesus and ask if that isn’t precisely the sort of character that human devices wouldn’t be likely to invent, could talk about his absolute love–but if you start from the premise that it’s all mythology, that he’s Zeus or Arthur, we might as well be speaking from different universes.

  133. scott hendrixson. wrote:

    I fear that if I try to clarify further I will receive more Grace than I can possibly handle. Grace offered as a chaser to a stiff drink of theology isn’t the same as theology offered in the Spirit of grace.

    I don’t know, but around these parts and in my house, we slam against each other with ideas and people generally tend to understand that it’s all in the game. If you’ve gotten a stiff dose of theology, provided it’s decent theology and not at the point of a bony, sanctimonious finger, well that’s grace too. Are you concerned that you’ve been hammered here? If so, heck, I’m probably hammered more every day around the house and do more hammering myself just in discussing dinner plans with the wife and kids. I really don’t think you’ve been rough with me or I’ve been rough with you–unless I’m missing something.

    scott hendrixson. wrote:

    Most people here submit to some level of human authority as they worship, serve, etc. I realize that all authority originates with God, but the abuse of authority by humans is central every conversation here. When my wife says that we should pray in the middle of a disagreement, she is speaking with spiritual authority and it’s good for me to follow her guidance at that moment than to reference a quote by (insert name of author here). There are precious few people left who speak with spiritual authority and few people value their humility or look to them as examples to follow.

    No problem with a single word you say there.

  134. Law Prof wrote:

    Even the golden rule can be traced to earlier rabbis.

    In the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in which Jesus talks about ‘born again’ and what he said about that (which is dug gold to old style Baptists) Jesus then asks Nicodemus how he (Nicodemus) could be a teacher of Israel and not know all that. So I assume that even this core doctrine did not originate with Jesus but was there in Jewish thinking in some form already.

    I sometimes listen to Amy-Jill Levine and I have heard her say about Jesus that he was ‘so Jewish’ and how nothing that he said was new to or in opposition to Judaism except that Jesus talked about eternal damnation which was a different direction from Jewish thinking.

    All of which makes sense to me as how it ought to be if Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies.

  135. @ Law Prof:

    Thanks for the kind reply. I’d like to continue this discussion after I have a chance to ponder a little more.

  136. scott hendrixson. wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    Thanks for the kind reply. I’d like to continue this discussion after I have a chance to ponder a little more.

    NO problem, Scott, you seem like a good fellow.

  137. Max wrote:

    The average true Christian in America has no idea how serious this moment is.

    Max, the de facto default meaning of “True Christian” is “Me, NOT Thee!”

  138. Christiane wrote:

    suppose people considered ‘The Body of Christ’ as containing all who ever lived, are living, and will live who become members of it in both ‘time’ and ‘eternity’ ……

    Isn’t that the idea behind “The Communion of Saints” doctrine?

  139. ___

    Hello: “Victims can’t make it better?”

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I2SnX9Impa4

    hmmm…

    Q. Who can they call?

    huh?

    “I must have called a thousand times, but now I’m running out of time…” -Anna Clendening

    What?

    Open up the window, let me catch my breath…
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oPjwKQo8nmQ

    (sadface)

    Resume (verb): “My heart will go on…”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WNIPqafd4As

    Sòpy
    ___
    Notes:

    “The number of people attending Church of England services each week has for the first time dropped below 1 million – accounting for less than 2% of the population – with Sunday attendances falling to 760,000. -Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, The Guardian, c. 2016

    “In 1984, nearly 90 percent of Irish Catholics went to Mass every week. But by 2011, only 18 percent did. It’s a massive cultural shift.” Note: The number of people attending The Catholic Church of Ireland services each week is ‘said’ to currently have dropped below 5%.

    “Less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church—half of what the pollsters report.
    While Gallup polls and other statisticians have turned in the same percentage—about 40 percent of the population—of average weekend church attendees for the past 70 years, a different sort of research paints quite a disparate picture of how many Americans attend a local church on any given Sunday.”

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8MJxxmrWO6s

    🙁

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