Finally, a proper response by a church to the mishandling of abuse! Kudos to Austin Stone Church for responding appropriately to sex abuse in the church. I also respect that Larry Cotton agrees he should have reported this to police and that he should have supported Jules. I wonder how his former boss, Steve Bradley, will respond? Surely, he shares some responsibility.
Message from Larry Cotton:
Over the last few weeks, after seeking much counsel and prayer, I want to be the first to let you know that on Thursday, February 15, I informed the elders at The Austin Stone Community Church of my decision to step down from my staff ministry leadership position. It has been my honor to be a part of what the Lord is doing here at The Austin Stone Community Church. I have been extremely privileged to serve with brothers and sisters whose ultimate goal is to see Jesus lifted high, and I will greatly miss working here. I know this is the beginning of a new season for me, and I have peace that God will use me for His glory.
Brokenness and sin have unraveled the fabric of our world, resulting in injustice, pain, and suffering. I am more convinced than ever that the only One able to mend the brokenness and unraveling of this fabric is Jesus Christ. To the best of my ability, with God’s power, I desire to be a man that He might use to mend this brokenness.
This is why I want to express again my deepest grief and sorrow for Jules Woodson and all those who were wounded by what happened in 1998. During my leave of absence, I have come to better understand the weight of my mistakes and my responsibilities as a church leader at that time. I wish I had known 20 years ago what I understand today. I now understand that I did not do enough to serve Jules and help her feel protected and cared for —I wish I had done more. I understand that I failed to report the sexual abuse —I wish I had reported to the proper authorities. Even though it’s impossible, I wish I could go back in time and correct these mistakes.
I contributed to the pain and suffering of Jules and others, and for this, I feel great sorrow. I can identify with the words of Paul in the scriptures that help me see–Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his perfect patience as an example for others who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Only Jesus can mend the unraveling caused by sin and weave in true justice, peace and healing.
I am praying for healing for Jules; that she might be comforted by the peace of Christ even in the midst of her pain. I hope for her forgiveness of me. I pray for The Austin Stone to continue to be a safe and Christ-honoring environment for men, women, students, and children to grow spiritually and flourish. And I thank you, my church family, for your continued love and prayers.
I love you all dearly.
Message from the Elders:
As you recall from our communications to you beginning January 5th, an allegation was made against Larry Cotton regarding his response to the reported sexual assault of a young woman by a youth leader at the church where he was on staff in 1998. Given the seriousness of the allegations, we placed Larry on leave of absence, and engaged the attorneys at MinistrySafe to conduct a thorough investigation.
During this season, Larry has been prayerful in seeking after the Lord for wisdom and clarity as to how to honor the Lord and act in obedience to God’s word. As a result of much prayer and counsel, Larry has communicated to the elders on February 15th that he desires to step down from his staff ministry leadership position at the Austin Stone Community Church, effective immediately. In recognizing and grieving for his errors of the past, Larry is illustrating the kind of Christlike character we know and affirm in Larry today.
As a church, it is our desire to help him seek forgiveness from those who were hurt and foster any reconciliation that might be possible in the future. Even though he is no longer on staff, Larry does remain in good standing as a partner of our church. Through this process, we have affirmed our belief that Larry did not intend to cause harm, but we understand and support his decision in light of the consequences of his actions. We are heartbroken for Larry and we will deeply miss his presence on staff, as well we are committed to shepherding and caring for him and his family.
We invite you to join us in praying for compassion, wisdom, and discernment as we journey forward. We have also already begun the process of working with MinistrySafe to review our policies and update training for all of our staff and leaders on preventing and reporting abuse. We continue to remain committed to ensuring the safety of victims and advocacy for individuals who have suffered abuse. We strongly urge you to report to Child Protective Services or appropriate criminal authorities if you suspect the sexual abuse of a minor.
If you have further questions or concerns, please contact your campus leadership. We would love to hear from you.
Grace and peace,
The Elders of The Austin Stone Community Church
“Kudos to Austin Stone Church for responding appropriately to sex abuse in the church.” (Dee)
An example of “how to” vs. “how not to”. Church leaders should never waiver between the two when it comes to allegations of abuse and cover-up by staff members.
But he got caught or it never would have happened…..
Excellent news! Thank you for your part in bringing this to pass, Dee.
This. Difficult but so needed.
He didn’t have evil intent in how he proceeded 20 years ago but now realizes the horrible consequences of his failures.
I pray others (Highpoint, SGM) would reflect on this. Your intentions may have been good but were wrong. Why do they insist on stopping there? It is not enough to say you realize you “may” have made mistakes.
You do not get a pass because you were attempting to do what you felt was right at the time.
The time to own up to what you actually did is now.
Yes! God bless him. He did the rght thing. Now the ax is laid at the Savage/Conlee tree….it mst be addrssed.
Jules, i hope this helps in your healing. You have needed this.
This response hits the right note. It is heartbreaking when anyone realises they have hurt somebody and the church.
The other deb wrote:
Chris Conlee had a window open for a brief period to do the right thing at Highpoint. By not doing so, he became a part of the problem rather than a solution to it. Although, it can be argued that he should have done the right thing years ago when he first became aware of Andy Savage’s abuse of a teenager under his watch in Texas … long before Ms. Woodson came forward.
The SGM mess is a tangled web that is even tougher to get out of … so many leaders did the wrong thing over a longer period of time … so many victims in its wake.
My only concern is the involvement of MinistrySafe. I don’t trust those guys.
He/they are doing the right thing with him stepping down, but I was very disappointed/didn’t like the letter. Why couldn’t he have stated & owned the specifics of his/their mistakes & called out Andy Savage & Steve Bradley? (corroborated Jules narrative). i. e. Why didn’t he admit to saying she participated & telling her to be quiet? Why did he not say they should have immediately fired Andy, cancelled his abstinence conference and tell the church (not just tellthe authorities)? And again, why isn’t he confronting Steve & Andy to own it, too? It reminds me of Andy’s apology (owning very little, obfuscating) with the huge exceptions of doing the honorable thing in stepping down & admitting he should have called the authorities. This seems like trying to save face/damage control/wanting a graceful exit from the international story that has harmed his reputation, It’s a smart move on his part.
May the Lord use Cotton’s godly response as an example and may the tide turn for victims. This is an honorable decision made by Cotton that leaves no room for people like Savage, Conlee, CJ Mahaney, SOvereign Grace and others to make excuses or justify their actions. It does not matter how long ago it happened choices can still be made now to honor victims and bring glory to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jules, you are an Ester of today. FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS!!
I’m pleasantly surprised.
And gobsmacked that the elders have instructed the congregation to report suspected abuse directly to legal authorities rather than telling them to report it to the church (who would then decide on what action they would take, if any). Looks to me like they really get it.
Not wanting to be cynical here, but these questions are thought-provoking and another, too: Is Larry Cotton at retirement age anyway, in contrast to Savage and Conlee et al? Just saying, “Sorry” and stepping aside, proceeding to “Rich Acres” where he was headed anyway? Again, not trying to be cynical…
The other deb wrote:
I think for the most part this was a proper statement on cottons part. I like the way he phrased this: ‘ I hope for her forgiveness of me’. He did not demand or try to squirrel it around. I think he could have cut out some of the sections that weren’t about Jules but that is a quibble.
I’m not sure what I think about the elders statement, but that’s ok.
That is a huge and important exception though. If he gets it enough to do that there is hope for him. There is an Action, which gives more weight to an apology.
Thank you, Deebs, for keeping on top of this situation and sharing this encouraging update with us. I hope that more Christian leaders and churches will follow the lead of Larry Cotton and Austin Stone Church and their response to deal with this type of sin appropriately.
I like the way Larry “owned” his sin and expressed remorse and repentance. Stepping down from leadership was a concrete act of owning his sin and failure to care for “the least of these” as a good shepherd would have.
I hope Jules is encouraged that her courage to speak out about very painful experiences has brought about much-needed change in the body of Christ.
I appreciate Larry Cotton’s statement. Although it may not include everything that victims and advocates would like to see, it is far, far better than anything that has come out of HP Memphis – and light years better than anything that has come out of SGM. And in some ways it puts pressure on other leaders and churches to do the right thing.
Yup. If Larry Cotton can do this, then why can’t CJ Mahaney and his band of coverup artists resign from their positions and not speak at Together For The Gospel 2018?
There’s actually a website that analyzes apologies. Hmmm… interesting.
You make really good points here.
Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:
One word, Pride. They are masters of it.
Cotton will be well taken care of. His adult sons are Youtube moguls, raking in millions of dollars a year filming themselves attempting trick shots over and over and posting their occasional successes.
“Dude Perfect, who rank as the most popular YouTubers in the US on this list, were also the third highest-paid YouTube channel in the world in 2017, with an estimated income of $14 million, according to Forbes.”
“1. DUDE PERFECT Subscribers: 26.8 million 2017 estimated salary: $14 million
Dude Perfect is a channel from twins Cory and Coby Cotton and three of their college friends from Texas A&M, all of whom are former high school basketball players. They do sports tricks”
Here’s a viral video the Cottons engineered for the media campaign for Austin Stone’s Pastor Matt Carter’s book on ‘manhood’:
“man catches flying bird with bare hand – we were out quail hunting when something crazy happened”
(Matt Carter is on The Gospel Coalition Council with Mohler, Dever, etc.)
I see this as a step in the right direction. Not perfect, but better than what we have seen before. I hope Larry Cotton finds a “secular” job and lives out his days in quiet humility.
As I read Larry Cotton’s letter, it took me right back to the mistreatment my daughter and our family received from our church leaders when the sexual abuse of my daughter by the adult son of popular leaders in the church was exposed. What was already a traumatic experience was made more so by the silence, abuse, and pressure to coverup the crime by people I loved and trusted.
I received a private message a year later from the pastor telling me I had done the right thing by reporting the young man to the police and insisting he be prosecuted. Yet, that same pastor appointed every one of the people, including the perpetrator’s parents, as lay pastors and lauded them before the church (and during their commissioning, the perpetrator’s father told the whole church what an awesome young man his son was – months after he was convicted of child molestation); he allowed the perpetrator to serve as an usher and pass out communion; and did nothing when myself and my family left the church.
Words mean very little, especially from “well-meaning” Christians. It’s actions that matter. The fact Cotton stepped down communicates to Jules and other victims in the church that someone is taking sexual abuse seriously and that what happened to them matters. It’s about time.
The letter need to be about his remorse. Bringing details and other people in to his apology does not serve has a true apology to Jules. There is a difference in say “sorry for all this that happened” and asking for forgiveness. He was asking for forgiveness.
You beat me to it. Did it cross his mind over the years? Did he think back on the injustice and seek her out or go public about Savage to the detriment of his career? We can’t know his mind. Only non action over the years after sending creepy ANDY on his way.
. But “resignations” after being outed keep me skeptical although I think it’s goid at the same time. But I refuse to make heros of them. We don’t know how it came down. Austin Stone saving face? Distancing from the Mahaney crowd? Resign or be layed off. Everything in that world is spun with flowery Christianese. Don’t know how old this guy is or whether he is out of ministry for good. I don’t know what Austin Stone teaches about females as full co heirs in the Body, either. I guess I need to check that out.
Sorry for being Debbie Downer but seen too much. The institutions are about growing
Oh my word. Becoming a wealthy mogul is very different these days.
This is an appropriate action.
The contrast with SGM is do stark.
Can I say I always admire and enjoy your comments? I really appreciate your research skills.
one of the little people wrote:
I was thinking the same thing. Cotton stepping down was action.
I’m so sorry that your family had to go through such a dreadful experience. Thank you for sharing it here.
It’s also very wise. Authorities are more likely to visit the children at school to be interviewed. From there, a home visit or even at work. Most would not visit their church. It removes the issue from church. Every church should teach this. And it’s to the leaders benefit if they aren’t guilty of abuse or NOT reporting.
I agree the resignation letter leaves much to be desired. If you’re part of a body and you realize you contributed to making that body sick and repent of that, don’t you also take the step of pointing out the pathogen and the other parts of the body that are ignoring or encouraging the sickness to continue? Instead I hear the admission of a wrong committed (with “good intentions”) 20 years too late after getting caught and self-flattery about how great I am as a faithful servant of the gospel and Jesus. I hear him comparing himself to Paul, his church compares him to Christ and new doors are opening for him as he starts a new time in his life. I didn’t hear I used my position in the church to promote and protect the good ol’ boys while spiritually manipulating the peons. I didn’t hear I took risks with the lives of kids in the church by promoting a youth pastor who sexually assaulted a girl and hiding that information from parents and the church.
one of the little people wrote:
I am feeling the same.
Could have there been more? Yes. But after seeing so many lies, excuses, and blatant self-promotion, at least somebody took a step in the right direction.
And your story breaks my heart every time you’ve mentioned it. It is that kind of abuse in the church that has driven many of us here.
I blelieve Cotton is 59. That’s pretty young for retiring from ministry. The elders do say they are committing to care for Larry and his family, and it appears he has some family money to help out. His decision still involves personal sacrifice and is a major step towards atonement. Hopefully he will inspire others to do the right thing.
Conlee has made it pretty clear Andy is not leaving. He’s “100% committed to Andy and his ministry”. By limiting the scope of Fredricks & Ministry Safe to only looking at current ministry, they will likely give Andy a pass on his past actions. Both Fredricks and MS will give a series of recommendations to improve policies and Conlee will tearfully promise to enforce them completely for the safety of his flock.
But the facts don’t change. Conlee KNEW that Andy was a predator when he decided to plant HP with him. He hired him anyway because Andy is a rainmaker who was growing a young adult ministry at a very fast rate. Growth trumps all in the mega biz.
Both Conlee and Savage concealed the abuse from their own church, Germantown Baptist. Therefore, Andy never went through a restoration process. Andy was terminated at the end of the WPBC investigation, so Conlee lied about Andy undergoing restoration in Texas. Restoration is a very lengthy process and cannot occur outside of one’s home church. Andy should not be pastoring as he was not restored.
Highpoint Memphis was founded on a bed of lies. They have concealed the existence of three sexual abusers from their flock. They are dangerous and both men are at fault for these multiple concealments. Highpoint will not show the compassion and integrity that Cotton now has. They are not remorseful. They are angry they can’t control the spin.
When Conlee announces that Andy is staying that will be a second shot heard around the world. Standing ovations will move to no consequences, to trying to profit from Jules’ pain by creating some victim ministry. Other charlatan mega pastors will rub their hands with glee.
It’s up to the flock to send the right message; that time is up for good ole boys protecting sex abusers and going about business as usual. Members must vote with their feet and wallets. Failure to do this endorses abuse and the coverup of abuse. Please, please choose wisely. Hundreds of thousands of pastors are watching to see what happens. The implications of keeping a predator will be a stain on the American church.
@ The other deb:
“I pray others (Highpoint, SGM) would reflect on this. Your intentions may have been good but were wrong. Why do they insist on stopping there? It is not enough to say you realize you “may” have made mistakes.
You do not get a pass because you were attempting to do what you felt was right at the time.
The time to own up to what you actually did is now.”
what comes to mind is a parent who because of religious beliefs refuses to pursue medical care for their child when needed. medical neglect, as well as educational, psychological, emotional, & physical neglect can be crimes.
Their intentions may not have been malicious.
So what…. the consequences to the child are steep. The child suffers, impacting the whole trajectory of their life.
…but this is old news.
This is excellent news, a huge step in the right direction. It’s way more than we’ve seen from most churches embroiled in similar situations.
Still, I’d give it maybe 2 or 2-1/2 stars out of 4. There are things missing and unacknowledged. The rather perfunctory sounding “we encourage everyone to report abuse of minors to authorities…” at the end, seems incomplete and a bit forced. Much more education and detailed guidelines for pastoral staff & laity are needed. Austin Stone may have plans for this, I don’t know. I pray they do.
“I now understand that I did not do enough to serve Jules and help her feel protected and cared for —I wish I had done more. I understand that I failed to report the sexual abuse —I wish I had reported to the proper authorities. Even though it’s impossible, I wish I could go back in time and correct these mistakes. I contributed to the pain and suffering of Jules and others, and for this, I feel great sorrow”
Larry has an opportunity to demonstrate that “great sorrow,” by admitting to his error in blaming her (saying “you participated”), telling her to keep it quiet, keeping it quiet himself not only by not reporting it to the authorities”, but not reporting it to the church, trying to keep Andy on staff, letting Andy have the Purity conference, only letting him go when backed into a corner, letting the church believe it was just a kiss & that Jules was at fault too.
Brokenness, sin, & unraveling the fabric of this world did not cause this injustice! Andy, Larry & Steve caused this injustice to Jules. Yes, Larry it’s impossible to go back in time & do the right thing, but it’s not impossible to do the right thing now. Admit exactly what you did & confront Steve & Andy for what they did. You can serve Jules by standing by her now unlike what you did 20 years ago. Don’t just say you want her forgiveness, show it. As you said, you didn’t protect her then. Well you can protect her now. Stand with her in confronting Andy & Steve!
And one last thing, Larry, who are these others you keep referring to? “Jules Woodson and all those who were wounded by what happened in 1998” and “I contributed to the pain and suffering of Jules and others…” This is about what Andy, you, & Steve specifically said & did to hurt Jules & deny her justice. It’s never too late to do the right thing.
The I Tim 1:15 reference seems to be a common denominator that I struggle with and feel leaders are using it to excuse their bad behavior (hey we’re just like Paul)… and it seems we can thank CJ for this going mainstream in the reformed expression… =( argh…
BOQ:I contributed to the pain and suffering of Jules and others, and for this, I feel great sorrow. I can identify with the words of Paul in the scriptures that help me see–Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his perfect patience as an example for others who would believe in him and receive eternal life EOQ
as new creations in Christ, we are saints not sinners and we have the Holy Spirit to help us out of every temptation… why, in the Name of all that’s Holy, do these conservative neo reformed keep defaulting (as believers) to being “the worst of sinners”.. that’s a disservice to the work Jesus Christ has done for us…
here’s an excellent post by Rebecca Davis on CJ’s influence on the “I am the worst of sinners” thinking with the Neo calvinist type leaders… it’s toxic!
It’s a step in the right direction, but feels a bit like a person just waking up in the morning, groggy, eyes mostly closed. Encountering the light but not yet fully awake to the day.
Churches like Austin Stone, knowing a little about them from a distance and also their connections to groups like TGC, etc.: they are not yet fully awake to their overall theological and social systems that interplay into enabling and allowing abuse and coverups. There is always bad anthropology and theology, deficient views of humanity and God that exist behind the scenes of these micro-stories such as Jules. Those major themes and ideas have to be explored and dissected for real, lasting change to occur. Abuse and coverups don’t happen in exclusion to the macro level story = the larger ideological narratives directing everyone.
Even as churches and groups and individuals start understanding poor behavior and taking right steps, there is much work to be done to get people to see the larger picture and enablement that causes and allows abuse and these coverups in the first place. Otherwise it ends up just being behavioral modification, the cycle still not being broken.
“I now understand that I did not do enough to serve Jules and help her feel protected and cared for —I wish I had done more.”
“feel protected”… and “feel cared for”
is it really down to feelings?
makes me think of someone apologizing with “i’m sorry you feel hurt”, implying the issue lies with the other for being so oversensitive. the truth of the matter in this hypothetical is that someone rejected and betrayed the other. That is the action that requires the apology.
i have true respect for Larry Cotton, here. He seems to be truly taking responsibility. However, that he didn’t do more to help Jules feel protected and cared for is not an issue. He’s totally missing the boat here, and seems to blind to his own actions.
The real issue here is that Larry Cotton favored the perpetrator and pretended the victim never existed in order to protect himself.
He gave favor and preference to Andy while labeling Jules “slut” and thereafter invisible to him.
He did this to protect Andy, the stability of the institution, to protect himself from confrontational mess and the fallout, to protect his work environment and job enjoyment, and to protect his paycheck.
That is the action Larry Cotton took which requires the apology and is the subject of the apology, NOT a statement of regret for her feelings.
I have the same thoughts and questions.
Like I said above, I’m waiting for the larger picture and narratives to be acknowledged and dealt with before I start trusting people from certain groups.
Though things like this are often a step towards that. It usually starts with small steps that get them to start asking the bigger questions.
And what would Jules say about this? Her scrutiny is what counts here…
I would love to know this.
Of course this is imperfect. Of course it is! You only have ONE chance to do the right thing in these situations.
But he has done better. He has done something at least. It’s not possible to fix the past, but as with sovereign grace, if there is no acknowledgement of past wrongs there can be no fixing for the future. We can only hope that someone, somewhere, has learned from this.
FYI – Brent Detwiler has a brand new post up. It is yet another excruciating eye-opener. A letter from Sarah Kacala re: Covenant Fellowship Church (SGM) in Glen Mills, PA
And note the way pastors insulted and tried to discredit her in the exact manner they went after Rachael D – by claiming Sarah’s own abuse as a child colored her views and made her irrationally vindictive.
I dunno. The letter seems to put too much emphasis on Jules healing and forgiving him. The emphasis should have been on him repenting, and what he will do in the future to make amends. One of those things should be to never hold any pastoral position whatsoever, ever again. Instead, he is crowing about how much God is going to use him to heal.
Sorry, I just think this is a face-saving exercise. He would have done better to say exactly what he did, say he’s sorry to Jules and to the general public, say he will step down from his current position and any other potential pastoral/ministerial opportunity that might come up, and leave it at that. Then he should start paying Jules monthly checks according to his ability in reparations. Ya know, a real demonstration of repentance that will *cost* him something.
I think it was an out for both the church & cotton.
Both sides “do the right thing” while the payday status quo is restored.
Cotton can retire or write books or just lay low for a while. He’ll pop up somewhere else after some time has passed. One of his pals will set him up with something.
The church goes back to business as usual.
Of all the maddening things, this has to be the worst.
I would be cursing if it were allowed.
I understand your cynicism and that would be disappointing. But I will judge when I see.
I will say, one of the most disheartening things was reading a pastor at sbc voices speaking of a mentor, an older man, who said if he ‘messed up’ with one of the girls in youth group they’d have to fire him but they’d find him a position on the sly.
So, how is Highpoint church going to react to this?? The, but it was 20 years ago argument now has less weight, IMHO
This needs to be Standard Operating Procedure in every Church across America. Insert it in the church bulletin tomorrow: “Been Abused or Know Someone Else Who Has? Don’t call the preacher, call 911!” The sexual abuse of children is a crime, not a church disciplinary matter. The only involvement church leaders should have is to immediately suspend church staff alleged to have abused a child while legal authorities investigate.
Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:
If Pastor Conlee doesn’t miss a beat tomorrow, you will have your answer.
That certainly has been the pattern. Driscoll, Patrick, Tullian, etc. Rather than disqualifying these folks from ministry, after a short “sabbatical” someone else gives them a shot again. Forgive them if they repent? Absolutely. Restore them to ministry? NO!
This is exactly it.
THis was my thought too. “Well, I need to retire anyway, might as well make it look good.”
I cannot love this comment more.
I’ve been following this case, among many other spiritual and sexual abuse cases on my blog http://www.thevulnerabilityproject.org. I am so happy to hear that at least one person will be stepping down as a result of Jules speaking out. This coverup has lasted for so long, and the reaction to Savage’s “disclosure” (let’s be honest, it was forced because Jules had spoke up and it was coming out anyway) was so incredibly appalling.
Cotton’s response here reminds me of deep seeded gaslighting. It has a hint of remorse threaded with a bit of onus on the victim to forgive the perpetrator, linking faith as the reason. Jules (et all) has no responsibility here, other than to live her truth however she sees fit.
The ball is now in the court of HO to follow suit. A clean sweep of Savage and his SP would be in order.
Typical damage control. Hardly worthy of praise. Hardly a demonstration of “integrity.”
You can’t do the “right” thing 20 years after you did the “wrong” thing and have people gush all over you for doing the “right” thing.
As someone said above, sometimes you only get one chance to do the “right” thing. This was one of those times.
Sorry Larry, I’m not buying.
@ emily honey:
What I hope for the church is the message is sent: we won’t put up with it. The Body of Christ is held to a higher standard than due process because you make a living from our Lord. You will be expected to leave ministry. And we tell the authorities. We don’t do cheap grace. Sexual deviation (child porn as example) and predation is not a moral failure or a mistake. It’s a choice.
And you know what? There are many decent men out there. We don’t need these types.
We, as the Body, need to stop allowing ministry to be an attractive place for perverts. That would be an interesting discussion!
Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:
Well, CJ is pretty much at retirement age . . .
Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:
The Fix Is In?
Though they DID have to be forced into it by the scandal and negative publicity.
Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:
Why should they?
God’s Anointed Can Do No Wrong.
(HUMBLY, of course — chuckle chuckle)
Yes! This is exactly what they should be doing. Suspected criminal activity should always be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities. To do otherwise us to facilitate a potential cover up.
Can you say “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”?
(Retired into Community Gated and Guarded so no Lowborn can contaminate it by their presence.)
One Hand Washes the Other…
(Just this one Piously involves Long Prayers for Justification…)
There seems to be a new revelation on an almost daily basis and each as bad, if not worse, than the last.
It is bad enough that there is a child abuser in a church but if the church then proceeds to cover it up it multiplies the sin and hurt many times over.
It is sickening.
If Larry Cotton resigned his church position after realizing he should have handled Jules Woodson’s abuse by Andy Savage different, what in the world should the perpetrator, Andy Savage, do? What should every leader who knew about Andy Savages abuse do if the didn’t report and helped him move into ministry positions?
as new creations in Christ, we are saints not sinners
I have heard that stated before. I prefer to say that we are sinners saved by grace as we still find our regenerate spirits battling with the flesh. We are not yet in our glorified state. The Calvinists would suggest that we are saints and therefor no longer sin. And if we do sin then they would say we are not really saved.
“Smooooth Move Exlax…”
Those who have their backs up against the social media 501(c)3 church abuse recking machine maybe now know what we mean…
Abusers and those who harbor them might as well jump…
Reviewing church policies and updating training for all 501((c)3 church staff and leaders on the prevention and reporting of abuse to the proper authorities is a great beginning…
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances…”
If I may so bold as to succinctly correct your statement above without getting the comments too far off course – I believe you have Calvinists confused with some who preach “sinless perfection.” I believe this was a doctrine of Wesley and later popularized in the US by Charles Finney.
Here, from the Westminster Confession of Faith, is what Calvinists believe:
Of Free Will
IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.
V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.
Another sad story.
“Bagging The 501(c)3 Shark, Perhaps?
‘Bagging The Shark’ ™ is crossing the point where something that was once unpopular now warrants mote further attention than it has previously received, particularly when attempts at publicity and social media only serve to highlight its relevance. This is especially applicable to 501(c)3 not-for-profit church outlets that harbor those who abuse, and do not report them to the proper authorities…
Victims of 501(c)3 church abusive practices seldom fly to Neverland…
♪♩♪♩ hum, hum, hum …
“Coming out of the 501(c)3‘s
Curse missed opportunities,
Are you part of the cure,
Or are you part of the disease?”
One of the problems is that “churchianity” is no longer “THE Church” but rather an ever growing beauracracy bent on self-preservation. I found the same thing when I was working for the Federal beauracracy in the “secular world”.
I liked the tone of the letter.
If he had called out others, I wonder if maybe we would have all thought he was then deflecting, and trying to keep the spotlight off himself.
Perhaps, he is a good candidate, if his eyes have truly been opened, to go to churches and speak about the proper vs improper ways of handling these situations. I think there is power in someone saying “I used to believe…(he could talk about consent, abuse of power, mishandling) and I was wrong. As a former homeschooling mom, I’ve had to go to my children and say “my views on things have changed” and I think that can be a powerful moment of learning. Someone on that ship of men that currently rules the evangelical world, has to sound the alarm and start paddling the opposite direction. They MIGHT start to listen to one of their own, but they will never listen to one of us.
This “stepping down” is still worded to be Christlike, #scriptureinterpretationissad
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
So this is their official statement. But how it plays out is quite different. My experience with them Calvinists has been different than this statement. It may be that the NewCals are not as strict. I am not sure. Thank you for bringing this out, Todd.
Christendom and the real Church have been very different starting with the departures from the truth spoken of in the epistles. The wolves have continued to develop their support systems.
“So this is their official statement. But how it plays out is quite different. My experience with them Calvinists has been different than this statement. It may be that the NewCals are not as strict. I am not sure. Thank you for bringing this out, Todd.”
I have lost count of the number of times I have heard calvinists state that anybody who is still walking in sin or has fallen back into sin (according to their own definition of it) is simply demonstrating that they are not one of the elect and therefore were never really saved.
So, just been listening to Horowitz at Carnegie Hall, 1951. This is never a good idea after a glass or two* of wine, but… I’ve been playing classical piano for nearly 40 years, and I know for a fact that what Horowitz did simply isn’t possible.
* “Two” is obviously, in this case, a euphemism.
Interesting how he ‘fessed up and resigned after his employer church put him on leave. Caught, called out, consequenced (is that a verb?), followed by admission and resignation. Done.*
If churches everywhere likewise put their criminals, enablers, cover-uppers, and complicit on leave, would they likewise ‘fess up and step down? Off the company payroll? No longer titled and entitled?
*(Does he say he’ll never re-enter the profession elsewhere? Re-invent but with the same capacity? Or, use his platform of admission to call out others?)
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Nice. Thanks. Into the JSO with Andre Rieu lately.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
I recognise that euphemism. Typed while enjoying a glass of red. 🙂
@ Nick Bulbeck:
“and I know for a fact that what Horowitz did simply isn’t possible.”
what’d he do?!? (from one music lover to another)
This is my experience as well. Some have gone much farther to say that just by disagreeing with them on any point of theology or church order, you are demonstrating you are not elect.
Horowitz could play octaves faster than most people can play scales. At the same time, he could follow a huge fortissimo (without lifting his hands more than a couple of inches from the keyboard) with a scarcely-audible, but note-perfect, pianissimo.
i’ve recently been exploring his playing. saw an interview in his living room, he casually went up to his piano, rattled off something casually — omg the depth of tone he got.
don’t know whether to celebrate & cry for joy or puke with envy & discouragement. talk about a confusing emotion. i’m sure those 2 glasses of wine would help.
It would be nice.
It would set an example.
Leaders might not continue to hide abusers.
Yes, I have come across this also.
For what it’s worth I don’t view many of the neo Calvinists, or whatever you want to call them, Calvinists. As I have said, when Mark Dever stated that his padeobaptist believing brothers are sinning I tend to think that places him outside the Calvinist camp.
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
The whole reformed baptist thing is odd to me. It’s like a hybrid.
I think a lot of these guys just make their own rules…[of course, my opinion is that too much is blamed on calvinism here, and not enough on all the other issues that don’t have to go with it]
Here’s a good example of the kind of repentance and restitution that impresses Jesus:
Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Zacchaeus was greedy so his repentance involved giving away most of his money as a display of his repentance and his new found freedom from greed. I think there is much a person can do about their past sins. They can’t necessarily make the pain go away or reverse the effects but they can mitigate the effects and help those who suffer.
I don’t think this is the kind of thing money will help with. I don’t think I would accept comfort from someone after 20 years.
Zaccheus was able to repay…Conley can’t do that.
Which is why people need to get it right the first time.
@ Todd Wilhelm:
I agree. There are differences. The New Calvinists are a real and present danger that seeks to creep in unawares. New Calvinists are slow to advertise their Calvinistic views and appear to add in other things that appeal to the young such as being more missional and moving away from being cessationist towards teaching that the gifts of Spirit have continued. They also seem to be trying to bring back the old piety movement. Of course the rules are for the peons to follow rather than the leaders.
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
I’m checking out backgound and history of both, Todd. Thanks for the heads up. I can see what has happened in my former church more clearly now.
Todd Wilhelm wrote:
Traditional Calvinists would, in the main, hold to a Presbyterian form of church government which has an orderly, well-defined process of entry into the ministry. The latest PCAUSA handbook, revised 2017, shows just how detailed that process is. One of the features is congregational participation and oversight.
It’s a fascinating document offering insights into how the ministry is having to evolve. You can find it here
The New Calvinists seem to be more likely to be found in denominations with an independent church polity, like the Baptists. Another point is that it seems much easier for someone to declare themselves anointed and to set up their own church.
And on the face of it, American Baptists appear to have a regulated form of entry into ministry which you can read here
Resource A is particularly interesting.
And the SBC says this in its FAQ section
“Actually, there is no standard process or policy concerning ordination in the SBC. The SBC is not a church; as such, it neither ordains nor “recognizes” ordination. Both initial ordination and recognition of previous ordination are addressed strictly on a local church level. Every cooperating Southern Baptist church is autonomous and decides individually whether or not to ordain an individual, or whether to require ordination of its pastor or ministry staff. When a church senses that God has led a person into pastoral ministry, it is a common practice to have a council (usually of pastors) review his testimony of salvation, his pastoral calling from the Lord, and his qualifications (including theological preparation and scriptural qualifications according to 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:7–9) for pastoral ministry. Based upon that interview the church typically decides whether or not ordination would be appropriate.
Some cooperating churches may require seminary training from an SBC seminary prior to ordination, while others may not; such a requirement is entirely up to the church.
Of course, every cooperating church is free to approach ordination in the manner it deems best.
If you are a member of a cooperating Southern Baptist church and sense the Lord may be leading you into ministry, you may want to speak to your pastor and ask for his assistance.”
And this is the SBC document on Calvinism. If you look closely, it is endorsed by Mark Dever. If there is a clandestine takeover of the SBC by New Calvinists, they would appear to be in breach of this agreement. It also means that mainstream, “whosever will” Baptists are under an obligation to speak up.
The takeover was never just doctrinal. That was the rally cry to recruit followers and build power bases. It’s naive to assume people in power don’t play games with “do as I say, not as I do”. And it took a while for “whosoever will” types to speak up because of the deception. The usual response from Neo Cals was “prove it” or “you are falsely accusing a brother”. It was sinning by questioning. One has to play by their rules. These are the same people who protected Mahaney. They are not men or women of integrity.
Mostly true except in the case of PCA. TGC has a cozy relationship with PCA, and Ligon Duncan of the T4G “fab four” is PCA. Kevin DeYoung is PCA. I don’t know why PCA allows this.
@ Ken F (aka Tweed):
And SGM. What polity was that but a basic shepherding cult that went from some sort of Catholic charismatic in earliest days to Reformed Charismatic.
My view is it’s the heirarchical authoritarian piece that attracts these types to any variation of Calvinism. The Reformation centered it all around the special person in a pulpit delivering the message of truth who effectively operated with same authoritative power as priests. My only complaint with the Reformation is that Christians today deny it was equally political!
As far as the SBC is concerned the early play book was the Founders “Quiet Revolution” which basically teaches the art of spiritual deception to take free will church to determinism.. A big push in the early days was to infiltrate churches with Neo Cal pastors who would quietly push for elder led churches instead of their full fledged congregational polity. It was all done deceptively and usually took 3-5 years. No one knew what was going on. They did not know their new pastor was using the same words but with a totally different definition. Very Orwellian, frankly.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
When sight-reading, I usually render octaves as choose one line or the other.
At least The Founders (classical Calvinists) were a little more civil in their rebellion against the SBC non-Calvinist majority than their neo-brethren. The New Calvinists are anything but quiet … they are loud, arrogant, and in-your-face. In a relatively short period of time, they have accomplished what the old guys couldn’t after decades of trying … Calvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Founders trained Al Mohler well – they may not agree entirely with his method and message, but must be awfully proud of this champion of New Calvinism.
Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:
The PCA obviously doesn’t have any more control over its rebel pastors than SBC does with Mohler et al.
Perhaps they wanted SBC’s stuff? Well, they got it! New Calvinists now control SBC’s leading seminaries, home and foreign mission agencies, publishing house, “ethics” commission, and a growing number of churches. If SBC split now over doctrinal differences, the mainline majority of Southern Baptists (non-Calvinists) would lose a lot of denominational treasures.
Calvinists, Baptist…. push pull push pull. Just give me Jesus. All this church heirarchy gives me one heck of a headache. Been doing so much reading on Puritanism, Piety, NewCal etc today. Such a mess.
They have and they are sidelined.
There is one thing, and one thing only, that is important to the current leaders of the SBC. The local church must be Calvinist in theology. If not, the SBC hierarchy will sideline them unless they give boatloads of money.
You can be darn sure, in spite of protestation otherwise, the SBC does control things far more than their *FAQs* indicate.
Or perhaps the PCA benefits from its rock stars like Tim Keller and RC Sproul aligning with groups like TGC and T4G.
Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:
I have some hardcore Calvinist Facebook friends, whom I’ve known online for many years. Several are PCA; one is Reformed Baptist; and one attends a large Calvinist Bible church. Yet another one, a very strict Calvinist, seems to find virtually no church pure enough for his theological tastes, LOL.
Most of them are huge supporters of TCG. One person in particular. Hmmm.
I have to be careful what I say around these folks. :O Although, I must say, the hyper-purist guy is forever issuing invitations to debate — not just to Catholics like me but pretty much to everyone. Best not to take the bait!
@ Catholic Gate-Crasher:
oops, don’t know how I managed to delete Ken F’s quote. Sorry!!
Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:
I don’t know how it works in PCA … but in the SBC, they pretty much leave big-boy preachers alone if their churches fund denominational enterprises through giving to the “Cooperative Program.” In SBC, local churches are autonomous … as long as they conform to the spirit of the Baptist Faith & Message, they and their leaders are free to participate in movements of one flavor or another (e.g., New Calvinism). There isn’t really much accountability in SBC ranks for rebel church leaders, as long as they meet the essentials of SBC belief and practice … and the SBC big tent has been enlarged to include all sorts of characters these days.
Ever since I retired from my eCommerce copywriting job at Big Huge Apparel Company, I’ve been freelancing for a lady who runs a copywriting agency. She is one of the two best bosses I’ve ever had in my life. (Both women. Of course, my absolute worst boss was also a woman, so there you go.) Anyway, she — my freelance boss — is a devout Southern Baptist. She has never shown the slightest sign of being Calvinistic, so I am hoping her church hasn’t been “infected.” And won’t be!
Bingo. And never assume things operate as stated on official sites, documents, etc.
Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:
If people like this were to investigate actual church history they would be much less in a hurry to debate. Maybe you could ask him to show you the point in history when Christians abandoned true Christianity and began things like 1) believing the Eucharist contains the actual body and blood of Christ, 2) liturgical services, 3) belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary, 4) establishing a hierarchy of bishops and priests. Make him draw from original sources from the early church. After that exercise he might take a more humble tone. I am saying this as a Southern Baptist who has been doing this research (I guess I am one because I am a member if a SBC church).
Many disagreed with the CR and many defend it today. My ONLY defense of it is this: it was debated and voted on at convention. People knew what was going on. And that doesn’t mean there were no nefarious tactics on either side. But the point was people had a choice to seek information and could vote.
The Neo Cal infiltration- takeover was done with pure deception. There are so many young pastors who I have heard say, “if the pulpit committee wasn’t smart enough to ask me the right questions, it’s their fault.” Why would a pulpit committee assume a young man out of seminary (that the church helps pay for!!) is trying to deceive them? That is how evil that world is and how it operates.
I noticed quite a bit of that in these letters, too. Words like “season”, “counsel”, and “brokenness”, and the inevitable citing of 1 Timothy. It seems so hard for these oh-so-wise men of God to simply speak in regular English.
There is so much more to this than could ever be put into one book! Ex. Who knew in the year 1999-2000 that Al Mohler insisting on adding an “s” to Priesthood of Believer in the BFM 2000 revision was in service to the Neo Cal agenda and takeover? . I found one writer at Baptist Standard who warned about the added “s” in an article in 2000. (Along with other problems) And all these years later, he was right. And Baptist Standard is defunct.
So why the “s”? Because Mohler believes the pew peons need scripture interpreters. They cannot interpret on their own with the Holy Spirit. Subtle. Deceptive. The Priesthood of “believer” is no more. I grew up on it. It was about responsibility and accountability to Christ. Not the pastor.
At the time, the primary hype driving the “Conservative Resurgence” was about Biblical inerrancy – the movers and shakers were intent on driving out liberals and moderates who were diluting the Word of God (even if they weren’t). Few suspected that it was really a “Calvinist Resurgence” in disguise and that Al Mohler would be crowned SBC Pope. Even today, some of the CR warriors won’t accept that the CR opened the door for a major shift in Southern Baptist theology and eccesliology. As you note, the “takeover was done with pure deception.” Al Mohler’s strategy was brilliant!
The apology is worded in such a way that makes me suspicious that there are more coverup incidents. The bridge of exhortation that only Jesus Christ can heal feels like a preemptive “hush.” I have a brother whose “apologies” sound just like this one. It is only enough to let him in just as far as I trust his apology. He wants more from me. Then he is going to have to give me more to trust on. I do not know Larry Cotton. If he were to apply at my church, I would accept this apology enough to believe that he won’t make the same mistake again because he now knows he cannot get away with it. But I still would not let him in because his apology has nullifications built into it. Even “I hope that Jules will forgive me” tells me he that he still thinks about himself. Until he can get to “I understand if she never can,” he should not be a pastor again. And why can’t pastors apologize without pastoring and preaching? All this talk about how much he has prayed and sought God and about how only Jesus can heal. It’s so narcissistic. My husband is a painter, he doesn’t paint while he is apologizes.
The concept of Inerrancy is hilarious when one looks at the interpretive disparity within the SBC concerning determinism vs free will.
@ Serving Kids In Japan:
Ugh. Don’t get me started! It’s creepy.
Just a couple of points.
Ligon Duncan wrote an interesting history of T4G and TGC and the resurgence of Reformed teaching in times of “theological famine”.
Secondly, Reformed believers have had to live with the liberal takeover of their theological institutions and denominations for over a hundred years. They’ve argued their position in the church courts and usually lost but they never gave up. So I say again, if the rank and file SBC don’t like what’s happening, they should speak up. And, yes, it will probably come at a cost.
I second this. I have no room for the ‘church discipline’ that seeks mostly to control the lives of believers and protect the ‘rulers’. When an actual crime takes place, and church leaders become aware of it, it should be properly reported and prosecuted. Better yet, call the police first, pastors second. It makes no difference whether the perpetrator is repentant or not. Churches have no business hiding crime – that merely makes the church a safe place for predators.
There are many “liberal” Reformed. Those labels just don’t work anymore. I don’t even know what they mean. I have people send me info on Machen all the time as if he answers all the questions to the problems within Christendom. I read Iain McMurrays Evangelical divide years ago and he blames Billy Graham and his well heeled early supporters.
So, Why is ordaining women, liberal? Heavens! Why is a woman teaching mixed Sunday School a great “liberal” evil? That is one example of where I think all this goes pear shaped. Why is NOT believing Jesus is a refugee considered “conservative” or redneck evangelical? Can’t we even discuss actual facts without all the labels?
I don’t know how accurate this is but found it extremely interesting concerning Presbyterian history.
I don’t think in terms of “theological famine”. That cure from that movement has been fatalism and totalitarian. And has produced quite a few atheists in my neck of the woods. I think in terms of a problem with the basics of good and evil. And our personal responsibility within that framework.
The SBC does NOT have ecclesiastical courts. And it doesn’t sound like that has worked well. Splitting off works.
Interesting link to Duncan’s promotion of the old boy’s network with all the problem leaders that feature on TWW regularly.
You nailed it again, Max. Few ‘conservative’ cheerleaders to this day recognize the difference between ‘conservative resurgence’ and ‘Calvinist takeover’. This is the same sort of doublespeak under which all deception takes place – we are offered a tasty apple, and are never told of the poison of death inside it. I suspect there is much greater behind the scenes coordination than most of us imagine in the ‘movements’ in so-called Christian circles, despite their slightly different flavors.
Well, you don’t have to seek the truth on that one, truthseeker! That makes just too much common sense. Unfortunately, you can’t trust some of today’s church leaders to do the right thing … even though they are mandated reporters. In the Kingdom of God (in the here and now), we are to obey the laws of men unless they go contrary to the laws of God. Even God would want us to call 911, IMO! Otherwise, He will have to get the millstones out!
Oh, if only we could wiretap some phones …
Looks almost as complicated as it was/is over this side of the pond.
I found this article on the additional ‘s’ interesting.
Yeah, like sealing records of SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force for 15 years! Ever wonder what lurks in those files? We will have to wait until 2025 to find out. What could be so secretive about a bunch of Baptist elites working on the Great Commission that they would have to hide information from the rest of us? Someday, the whole SBC mess will be aired by the news media on a 20/20 documentary or 60 Minute expose’.
Especially intetesting considering it was written after the Mahaney scandal. It makes this statement of his ring hollow: “TGC also believes these partnerships are providing a healthy element of unity, encouragement, and accountability.” I wonder what he means by “accountability.” And “healthy.”
How can the SBC call itself “church” in any way.
It’s very difficult when the other side is playing by their own rules of deception.
Back to the blog topic …
There’s an interesting post over at SBC Voices about being a little more honest in giving references for pastors who have failed: “An Appeal for Honesty in References.”
There’s a story there about a young pastor who misappropriated church funds and was fired. The following caught my attention about church cover-up as churches pass those who fail to other churches:
“After all that transpired, our pastor called the person who gave the man a glowing reference. He explained our church’s experience. At that, the person exclaimed, ‘Oh, yes, he did the same thing here.’ Our pastor asked, ‘If that is true, why did you give him such a positive recommendation?’ To which the person replied, ‘Oh, that’s simple. We wanted to get rid of him.'” http://sbcvoices.com/an-appeal-for-honesty-in-references/
Hmmmm, I wonder how many pastors in my area folks wanted to get rid of and sent them here? The system is broken … if a pastor is disqualified from ministry in one place, he needs to remain disqualified! Forgive them if they repent? Certainly. Restore them to ministry? NO!
Common strategy in a number of fields. Unfortunately. Easy exit. Out the door.
What makes it different in the church is the matter of Truth. If a church doesn’t uphold the truth, is it still a church?
Good idea. Practical. Simple. Easy on the budget.
“What I have written will show you the sort of character men of God’s household ought to have. It is, remember, the Church of the living God, the pillar and the foundation of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14-15 Phillips)
So no honesty there then! Do these guys not realise who they are supposed to be serving?
If it doesn’t uphold the truth then it simply becomes a business. Except it was probably that all along.
Operating as a non-profit business with all of the business ducks in a row, maintain a building, certain hired personnel, etc., is probably not a problem for most Christians.
However, when this same self-titled church NGO cannot even maintain truth and basic morality, what’s the point?
There’s quackery in every field. Consumer beware.
A note about TWW with regard to church and ministry.
What TWW has called for from the beginning, IMHO, is neither revolutionary nor extraordinary. Truth and simple decency – respect for minors, for example. (Not an end to institutions.) Faithfulness in marriage, another example. This is not shock and awe. It’s normal, really. (It should be the norm.)
The extraordinary reactions from certain corners of religion has to do with how far off the track certain folk have wandered and still called it “church”. That’s what is strange.
In my experience, no, they wouldn’t. Playing the victim is very common with these folks. “Poor me, I was treated so unfairly by the bad sheep;” entitlement and privilege are often part of the mix. I’ve seen a couple of situations, now – one where the pastor was on leave and came back like nothing happened. I didn’t see evidence of real repentance (that isn’t forced by others).
Entitlement is strong among pastors, after all they believe themselves to be “divinely appointed”.
Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:
Eek! I had a dream about RC Sproul last night! I dreamed I was asking some Calvinistas how they could be for sure that Sproul was with the Lord, given their beliefs? Then I woke up and it was like, Why am I dreaming about RC Sproul? I’ve never read his stuff, heard a sermon, etc. Very odd.
Everywhere has official rules and unofficial ones. Only rarely do they line up…
Serving Kids In Japan wrote:
What’s funny is if you get into discussions with people online they dismiss everything you say as ‘not biblical’ if you don’t mindlessly spout bible verses. It’s like they are incapable of connecting dots if you don’t draw the lines for them.
Not every field claims a divine mandate. Wal-mart just wants my money not my eternal soul….at least I don’t tink so…
“like sealing records of SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force for 15 years! Ever wonder what lurks in those files? We will have to wait until 2025 to find out.”
15 years…. 65 (typical retirement age) minus 15 is 50. Perhaps those who made the decision were around 50, & protecting their retirement income.
What?! This is a godly response? The only reason he stepped down was because this became public knowledge. He had 20 years to do the right thing and did so only because his name was brought up in what happened. This is as far from an honorable decision as there could be–he took this action only because he had no other choice.
Calling this anything like an honorable response makes you an apologist for terrible behavior. Shame on you.
You will never find me advocating for an end to church. But you will always find me challenging institutions which use that name, falling far short of the divine plan. The Church was founded by Jesus – bought by His blood – He alone is to be its Head, authority rests in him and no other. The Church – the real one – is the place where the Body of Christ gathers to glorify God, inform the world about the precious work of Christ, teach sound doctrine, and refute error. The genuine has always been challenged to expose the counterfeit and preserve the message of the Cross of Christ as a Redeemer for ALL people. No, we don’t need to end institutional church – we need each other because “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom 12:5). Long live the Church (big “C”)! The world needs us now more than ever. But be careful, little feet what institution you walk into – not everything that claims to be church is Church.
It’s the unwritten rules, unwritten policies and uncommunicated environmental protocols that get people every time
Thanks for this wisdom, Max.
Thank you all commenters on this thread. I have found all your perspectives interesting and helpful.
From Larry’s letter —
“Brokenness and sin have unraveled the fabric of our world, resulting in injustice, pain, and suffering. I am more convinced than ever that the only One able to mend the brokenness and unraveling of this fabric is Jesus Christ. To the best of my ability, with God’s power, I desire to be a man that He might use to mend this brokenness. … Only Jesus can mend the unraveling caused by sin and weave in true justice, peace and healing.”
He seems to conflate ‘brokenness’ with sin. I wish people wouldn’t do that. Sin is sin. The Bible uses the world ‘broken’ to refer to how a sinner often feels when they are being deeply convicted of sin, humbled by God, and brought to true repentance.
It reminds me of Joe Carter’s awful post at TGC called “Beware of Broken Wolves”. We published Ps Jimmy Hinton’s response to Joe Carter’s post here: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2017/04/28/dear-church-stop-trying-to-convert-wolves-by-jimmy-hinton/
As for the flowery phrase ‘unravelling the fabric of our world’ …. it sounds like a PIper-esque phrase. A lot of waffle. The Bible never describes the Fall as ‘unravelling the fabric of our world’. And anyway, it is God’s world, not ours!
I’m glad Larry Cotton has resigned.
But if as he claims he truly desires to be a man that God might use to mend this “brokenness” I think Sister’s comment and many other comments upthread have described what he ought to be doing. It’s not enough for him to pray for Jules’s healing. He can be an instrument in helping Jules heal by standing up to Steve Bradley and Chris Conlee and publicly calling on them to repent and resign. He can also be doing that to other leaders who helped / are helping enable Andy to avoid full accountability.
And from the Elders’ letter —
“In recognizing and grieving for his errors of the past, Larry is illustrating the kind of Christlike character we know and affirm in Larry today. “
Cotton’s letter falls pretty short of really admirable Christlike character. So these Elders still have a lot to learn.
Well, at least it is better than SGM, but that is not saying much.
Cotton responded correctly when he was called out. Savage and Conlee did not. Huge difference.
Agreed! Many cults only have these as unwritten yet many of their members understand them very well.
I believe we can all agree that Cotton should have reported the abuse twenty years ago. But he didn’t. Now that the story was brought out he had to choose to come out with the truth and his part in it, repent, and ask Jules to forgive him, or cover it up further. He chose the right response. He cannot go back and change the past. What more do those who condemn him want from him?
We could walk a long way together on this subject, Max.
And SGM did not. Even after an admission of the facts in open court.
With freedom of religion in our present society, the Savage and Conlee types run wild and free, serving up their version of church, be it snake oil or sanctified spirituality.
In other societies, given religious repression or even persecution and genocide, when there is a price to pay, the fakes fade.
Therefore, in this present wild west of faith, wisdom and discernment go a long way. TWW has dutifully posted certain warnings about signing a membership contract, for example.
Discerning the Savage and Conlee types is another category of warning. Not sure what that is, but there must be a way to see this from afar off before getting involved in their con of “church”. Savage, for one, seems to have a track record of youth groups and single groups with an unsavory element, according to testimonial tweets that have followed his scandal.
ah, see I think that second part was implied, because his ‘I hope’ is completely undemanding. This came off very differently from Andy’s ‘let’s have a conversation so I can make her be as awesome at forgiving as I am’ to me.
This is probably why I feel so comfortable with the ‘liberals’.
I can’t pull from the site right now, but Presbyterian history is interesting and squirrely. There were some splits related to north/south, and then in the 60/70s the ‘conservatives’ split off basically. Which is actually when my grandparents went Baptist.
I firmly believe the damage cannot be undone. Period. However, we can hope that this response means that, after reflection, Cotton has realized he was wrong. It would have been better if he realized on his own and made corrections on his own. It would have been better if he done the right thing, the first time. Mercy wrote:
I think there is more he could say, of course. But this was a good start. It may be an end. It’s still better than anyone else in this mess has managed.
I agree with you there. I hope he was genuine, albeit late. There has been nothing by the other guilty parties.
“Many cults only have these as unwritten yet many of their members understand them very well.”
well, seems to me ‘unwritten rules’ are a part of all human relationships. people know they will come across as control-freakish pedants if they put their needs/values/desires down in writing = the rules of engagement, so-to-speak. yet these ‘rules’ are very powerful and influence decision-making.
i have a friend who greatly values punctuality (maybe from people letting her down in the past, & not valuing her enough to show up). If i am late, it jabs at past rejection wounds. If i want to avoid hurting my friend and have enjoyable times together, i respect this and show up on time. it is an unwritten rule, with consequences.
my family and friends know that i have a silly phobia (too silly to even mention here). they know that if they do x, i will begin to panic and react. so they don’t do x. because they want the enjoyable consequences of relative ‘peace’, and they don’t the undesirable consequences of tension.
i have never written any of this down — in truth, i don’t need to. my reactions get the point across clearer than any words on paper. And of course i don’t want to look like a control-freakish pedant. So, i just keep it in the realm of ‘understanding’. I look better that way. And others go along with it.
But of course i am every bit the control freak pedant (where this one phobia is concerned). because of my own fear/phobia.
SGM had their internal process ducks in a row with their unwritten rule of handling sexual abuse in-house. it’s been a powerful rule with powerful consequences, whether or not it was written down. Leaders and lay all abided by it.
and this powerful rule came from somewhere, didn’t it. somewhere above and beyond the pastor tier. somewhere in the executive top tier.
the rule didn’t just happen in multiple SGM branches by coincidence.
The Head Apostle Tier?
RUSSIAN Bureaucratic Tradition.
Never write anything down, Plausible Deniability all the way.
Yes. The difference between costly grace and cheap grace.
Not sure it would help these days, but my Dad warned me over 50 years ago to beware of preachers who wear gold choker chains. In today’s church, I’m not a fan of groovy preachers with spiky hairdos, fake & bake tans, and skinny jeans. But, then, I’m not big on whiny guitars and praise & worship hoochie-coochies either. Must be my age.
Unwritten rules are a whole other ballgame in institutions, organizations and groups than between individuals.
what would be the cliff notes summary? (I imagine manipulation is part of it)
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@ Lea:The Aramaic word for ‘sin’ in the New Testament, translates as missed take [reference to shooting an arrow, for example].
Savage’s aim for sexual self-gratification was not ‘true’ because he failed to take into consideration his relationship with his ‘target’. His superiors and the church community had invested him with a position that granted him a burden of care. That burden of care meant he was to provide a ‘safe learning environment’ for those entrusted to him.
He breached that trust. So far, all of those in positions of responsibility have addressed only how his ‘missed take’ affected the trajectory of his own life, the lives of his superiors and the future of the church community. They have done this at the expense of the wound to Ms Woodson. The trajectory of her life has been altered by the weakening of her ability to trust self, leaders, life and others, including God.
Time has only deepened the wound. Her anger and pain are a cry for justice. Justice is part of the work of mercy. It calls us to balance the scales. When one admits to poor aim, it is simply acknowledgement of the missed take. It hasn’t begun to provide succor, to dress the wound the arrow made.
Cover-up in these cases is not even bandaging the wound. It is an attempt instead to hide it with whole cloth designed to minimize the extent of damage. Since these are more missed takes, now institutionalized, the wound festers and deepens.
The sin of Savage’s superiors is the greater missed take. Nuance in this case matters. Though invested with responsibility, and though he clearly breached his parishioner’s trust, Mr. Savage was only 22 at the time. The only people who don’t make mistakes are dead. What he needed from his ‘elders’ was schooling in appropriate action following missed takes. Maturity is supposed to help us make fewer of them; it’s like archery practice.
But here the example given compounds the original sin. It teaches Savage that acknowledgement of it is enough, especially if accompanied by gestures and tone that convey compunction and humility. It does not teach him to address the harm caused by his missed take. Except the potential harm to his reputation/future and that of the elders and the church community.
And it continues to grow….
As someone (from England) reading about this case – Mr Savage should resign. There’s no question about that! Only that would show true repentance. It’s not up to us to forgive him – only God can do that. He can serve God in a lowly position just as surely as in a high position.
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