I shall never be a heretic; I may err in dispute, but I do not wish to decide anything finally; on the other hand, I am not bound by the opinions of men. Martin Luther link
Martin Luther: The first hateful blogger?
Martin Luther: the original hateful blogger
Take a look at the name of this blog: The Wartburg Watch. I was not a member of the Lutheran Church when I started this blog. Even at that time, I was a great admirer of Martin Luther. Luther spent 10 months hiding out at the Wartburg Castle under an assumed name. From Wikipedia:
From May 1521 to March 1522, Martin Luther stayed at the castle under the name of Junker Jörg (the Knight George), after he had been taken there for his safety at the request of Frederick the Wise following his excommunication by Pope Leo X and his refusal to recant at the Diet of Worms. It was during this period that Luther translated the New Testament from ancient Greek into German in just ten weeks. Luther’s was not the first German translation of the Bible but it quickly became the most well known and most widely circulated.
Luther was one of the world’s first bloggers. He published his 95 Theses also known as Disputation on the Power of indulgences. Within this document was contained the ammunition that would birth the Reformation. When Luther was called before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Diet of Worms, he refused to recant.
In the Theses, Luther claimed that the repentance required by Christ in order for sins to be forgiven involves inner spiritual repentance rather than merely external sacramental confession. He argued that indulgences led Christians to avoid true repentance and sorrow for sin, believing that they could forgo it by purchasing an indulgence. They also, according to Luther, discouraged Christians from giving to the poor and performing other acts of mercy, believing that indulgence certificates were more spiritually valuable.
The Holy Roman Emperor viewed Luther as a threat and many feared for his life. He was considered a hateful, dangerous person for merely speaking the truth that entrance to heaven cannot be bought by money.
Mercifully, when Luther was able to move freely, the Gutenberg Press was in full swing. The Economist published How Luther went viral: Five centuries before Facebook and the Arab spring, social media helped bring about the Reformation
The unintentional but rapid spread of the “95 Theses” alerted Luther to the way in which media passed from one person to another could quickly reach a wide audience. “They are printed and circulated far beyond my expectation,” he wrote in March 1518 to a publisher in Nuremberg who had published a German translation of the theses. But writing in scholarly Latin and then translating it into German was not the best way to address the wider public. Luther wrote that he “should have spoken far differently and more distinctly had I known what was going to happen.” For the publication later that month of his “Sermon on Indulgences and Grace”, he switched to German, avoiding regional vocabulary to ensure that his words were intelligible from the Rhineland to Saxony. The pamphlet, an instant hit, is regarded by many as the true starting point of the Reformation.
I love this next part of the article.
The media environment that Luther had shown himself so adept at managing had much in common with today’s online ecosystem of blogs, social networks and discussion threads. It was a decentralised system whose participants took care of distribution, deciding collectively which messages to amplify through sharing and recommendation. Modern media theorists refer to participants in such systems as a “networked public”, rather than an “audience”, since they do more than just consume information. Luther would pass the text of a new pamphlet to a friendly printer (no money changed hands) and then wait for it to ripple through the network of printing centres across Germany.
Sex abuse and the cover up by the church is abusive, hateful and unholy.
The evangelical church responded poorly to the exposure of widespread sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Uneducated people claimed that such abuse was caused because “priests were not allowed to marry” and assumed that there was no such problem in Protestant churches. They were dangerously mistaken. Sex abuse is not caused by celibacy. Sex abuse is caused by people who want power over another individual. Priests didn’t abuse because the were celibate. They abused because they were abusers, asserting power and control over others.
With that knowledge in place, Boz Tchividjian, an attorney and Billy Graham’s grandson and the head of GRACE was quoted as saying:
While comparing evangelicals to Catholics on abuse response, ”I think we are worse,” he said at the Religion Newswriters Association conference, saying too many evangelicals had “sacrificed the souls” of young victims.
“Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics,” said Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations.
What does this mean for evangelicals? It means that we have married abusers in the pulpit who discuss how to have a wonderful marriage while at the same time concealing sex abuse in their background. Married sex does NOT prevent sex abuse. Thy are not the same thing.
In an Psychology Today article Sexual Assault Is About Power: How #MeToo Campaign is Restoring Power to Victims
Despite its name, sexual abuse is more about power than it is about sex. Although the touch may be sexual, the words seductive or intimidating, and the violation physical, when someone rapes, assaults, or harasses, the motivation stems from the perpetrator’s need for dominance and control. In heterosexual and same-sex encounters, sex is the tool used to gain power over another person. And as #MeToo attests with heart-breaking clarity, sexual abuse affects children and adolescents as well.
Far and away, most sexual assaults and sexual violence are perpetrated by men, and typically arise within asymmetrical power dynamics, where the perpetrator occupies a more powerful or dominant position in relation to the victim. Although the vast majority of #MeToo stories describe occurrences within the family, with a classmate, a man on the street, in a bar or at a party – where men assert power bestowed on them by mere virtue of their being men, the events that propelled the recent social media outcry involve powerful, prominent men who use their positions and the perks of their power to seduce, coerce, manipulate, and attack.
In other words, Andy Savage held the power in the relationship with Jules Woodson, a high school student. In case a reader is tempted to say that he was only 22, my response to that is “So all 22 year old professionals assault and have sex with people under their care?” That is despicable and insults every hard working 22 year old out there. Andy Savage did this to Jules Woodson because he held the power and he decided to exercise that power.
Authority figures can unjustly abuse the power of the pulpit and have done so for centuries.
Just like the Holy Roman Emperor misjudged the influence that Luther would have in conjunction with the Gutenberg Press, today’s pastors do the same thing. Blogging took the internet by storm. Suddenly, average people could have a voice and that voice could be effective. Some pastors, enjoying exclusive access to the pulpit’s microphone, were used to controlling the narrative. They would throw in a few Bible verses about submission to church authorities and they had a lock on the discussion.
The mistake that such pastors made was thinking they could utilize the internet to expand their own influence and ministries without getting burned. They thought that they could reach out and say, ” Look at us” while at the same time controlling what people would see. When a church invites a watching world to look, they cannot control the narrative any longer. That is why I am writing this today. Chris Conlee is NOT going to be the only voice heard in this debate nor should anyone expect him to be.
Are we hateful, irresponsible bloggers or devoted Christians doing the work that Chris Conlee, Andy Savage, Larry Cotton and Steve Bradley should have done?
First, I would suggest that people ask Chris Conlee what he meant by calling us hateful bloggers this last Sunday.
Ask him to spell it out. We simply told Jules’ story. That story, unfortunately, caused people to ask why the people who were told the story did nothing more than say “It was 20 years ago and he has repented. No harm, no foul.”
Ask him what he means that we are not reliable. Prove it. Could he really mean that we don’t buy Savage’s account and all reliable people must do so? Ask him why we should believe it. Is it because Savage is a celebrity pastor and that means he must be believed? Does that mean he would not conceal and obfuscate? Is that what the Gospel tells us?
As for us being irresponsible, let’s take a look at the responsibility demonstrated all 4 men who claim to know the *full story* of the *full monty.*
Ask Conlee if it is loving and responsible that not ONE of these men *full of exemplary integrity* ever reached out to Jules as they skipped merrily on to what some would say are successful ministries. I look at success very differently. Jesus reached out to those who were let down and abused, often by the church of His day. He ate dinner with them, not the Pharisees.
- Chris Conlee claims he was told the *entire* story about Savage’s organic escapade with Jules.
- Did he ever say to Savage, “Is she doing OK? Does anyone know?”
- Did Savage ever express concern for her welfare in the 20 long years after the event? 20 years in which he could have dealt with this. 20 years with apparently doing nothing?
- Did he call Larry Cotton and Steve Bradley to see if they reached out to her?
- Did anyone care that she was struggling for every one of those 20 long years?
- Did anyone try to find her?
- Did anyone wonder about how her faith was impacted by being ignored?
- Why did it have to be left up to us *hateful* bloggers to surround her with the love of Christ after Savage ignored her email of December 1, 2017 because so called *wise counsel* advised it? (Message to Savage: Stop blaming this on your wise counsel. This is your fault and they weren’t wise.)
- Who were the ones who actually showed the courage and concern for Jules?
Chris Conlee seems to have forgotten who the Pharisees were.
The Pharisees were the religious leaders who got the big jobs with the big money and all the book deals and conferences of their day. They were the ones who dressed in expensive robes brought with the money tithed to them. Strangely, they sound a lot like Conlee – throwing the little guy under the bus to save the big guy who can bring in the money. The Pharisees looked at Jesus as the key person who could muck up their little hold on their paradise on earth.
Churches in trouble always tell their people to look out for the bloggers.
We have been blogging since 3/2009. Chris Conlee sounds just like so many pastors caught in a mess doing the same old, same old with the same old manipulative techniques. The first thing they do is blame the bloggers just like the Holy Roman Empire tried to blame their sinful teaching and actions on Martin Luther. “If only Luther wasn’t so hateful, advertising our dirty little secrets, all would be well.” No, it wasn’t Luther who was wrong, it was the church leaders.
Did you know that the Georgia Baptist Convention once made a resolution against blogging, claiming it brought division amongst its members? We wrote about it 2010: Georgia Baptist Convention- It’s the Sin, Stupid! This attempt was roundly derided and totally ignored. It was obvious to everyone that they were merely trying to cover up the sin that was being exposed by blogging. Chris Conlee is stuck in the tired rhetoric of a past decade.
Did Highpoint leadership know that every single church who has been caught in a scandal has tried to blame it on those who discuss the scandal? I bet they did because they used the same old, dusty, ineffective playbook. First, there was the ill-advised, 20 second standing ovation. I predicted they would do this publicly. Instead of being smart, they employed this manipulated maneuver and were scorned by just about everyone looking in. How could they be so dumb?
How could they be so stupid in trying to deflect the blame for their foolish and unloving decisions onto bloggers? This will only haunt them in years to come. If they had done a good job in handling this, they would be shouting it from the rooftops instead of finding someone to blame. This is classic deflection and it means that things are not going very well for them.
Chris Conlee says he is going to fight, just like Jesus.
Oh good night! This is another blast from the past. Mark Driscoll tried to portray Jesus as a bad assed warrior and was banished to Phoenix for his nonsense.
Jesus went to the Cross willingly. He forgave those who hurt him and He didn’t cover up sex abuse. He told us to turn the other cheek. In fact the only time Jesus really got mad was with people (with the religious leaders’ blessings) turning the Temple into a money making venue. Are you feeling that one yet, church?
Chris Conlee doesn’t know us nor does he understand our motivations and that should make his church a bit worried. We have no desire to see the church fail. I happen to love my church. I am convicted and encouraged on a weekly basis due to the wonderful leadership of my two pastors, the vicar, the director of Christian education, etc. I want for Highpoint what I want for every church: that it be a safe church for everyone who attends. Conlee needs to grow up and ask what bloggers actually want. The fact that he pretends to know is dangerous and a lie.
True motivation: I tweeted that the church might try too do an obligatory standing ovation the day before the first church service after the postings on Savage. I did that in an attempt to inform the church that it would NOT be a smart idea to do so. Conlee and the church leadership plowed forward with decades old, embarrassingly ineffective, ungodly responses. They may have fog machines but they are woefully out of date on how to handle situations like this.
Conlee appears to be stuck in world of his own making. He sees himself as a revolutionary when he is simply a purveyor of worn out tactics to silence those who really care about the church. C’mon, Chris, be a true revolutionary and care for lost, the let down and abused. Reach out to those who won’t give you a standing ovation or give your book better ratings. Emphasize love and compassion in your bio instead of your corporate speeches.
Chris is a gifted communicator in any setting, and he regularly teaches at leadership seminars, Christian conferences, and in the corporate world. His highly acclaimed book, Priority Time: Addicted to God’s Word,
(ed. note: which has one review and today was ranked in at #1,226,650 in Books. Update 9:00PM: I have also been informed that it is self published as well. )
has revolutionized people’s understanding of how to have a “quiet time,” and is a valuable resource for anyone who desires to spend time with God daily through the Word and in prayer.
And whatever you do, do not sound unhinged by…
Comparing bloggers who critique to Satan (or as Amy and I like to call him, Stan.)
Last year, a couple of kooky people called Amy and me “daughters of Stan (sic).” Another similar individual followed with *minions of Satin.* We made the requisite jokes like:
‘My dad was named Walter. He must be spinning in his grave since he didn’t know about Stan.”
“I can’t be a minion of Satin. I only buy wash and wear.”
Do you know how silly this looks? Do you think that we would ever compare Savage or Conlee to Satan? Well, Herman Mehta, The Friendly Atheist, picked this up in Megachurch Leader Scolds Bloggers Who Wrote About Pastor’s Assault of Teen Girl
This really upsets me that an atheist (who is also a really nice guy, by the way) gets the pain of sex abuse more than a pastor who is supposed to be revolutionizing the church to care for the downtrodden.
What Conlee is saying is just jaw-dropping. Yes, the assault was bad, he admits, but so are the people criticizing them.
This isn’t a Trump speech. There are not “some very fine people on both sides.” There’s the pastor who assaulted a teenager, and the people who simply pointed out his feeble and pathetic response, noted the church’s lack of true sympathy for his victim, and posted in-context videos and quotations of what Savage said.
Conlee likened bloggers and critics to Satan by quoting 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) Bible Gateway.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lionlooking for someone to devour.
Mehta made some suggestions and proved, once again, that the church can fall behind the world when it comes to morality.
Admit you screwed up by bringing Savage onto your staff and not telling anyone about what he had done.
Say that you’ll make a significant donation to an organization that works to prevent abuse and takes care of victims.
Launch a sermon series about consent and power and sex, and admit that Christians are no better on these issues than the culture at large, and the idea of “purity” has contributed to the problem.
Thank the bloggers and social media critics for holding you accountable.
None of that made the list. Instead, Conlee cited a Bible verse suggesting those critics (*waves*) are the Devil. We prowl around like a lion seeking someone to devour. And then he emphasized that we weren’t really that strong anyway.
Does this church have anyone at the helm with a moral compass? Maybe they should find one of those instead of wasting everyone’s time acting like the church is the real victim in all this.
Highpoint Church: You are in need of some people to teach you how to handle this situation since it seems like you don’t get how badly your response is going. You can hide in your little Baptist church and stick your fingers in your ears and sing “la la la”, but eventually you will have to come out and figure out what is going on. Sadly, I believe that your leadership is sorely lacking in common sense as well as in love and compassion for those in pain or these mistakes wouldn’t keep occurring.
500 years ago it was indulgences. Today, sex abuse may well be the defining issue for churches. May God’s gift of the Internet continue to bring forth truth to the church when it becomes hardhearted. May all of us be as bold as Martin Luther when we see the church abuse those who have been let down.