Christianity Today’s Mark Galli Calls for an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Churches

“Given the prominence of Sovereign Grace, especially in Reformed evangelical circles, this puts the gospel we preach under a cloud.”

Mark Galli, Editor in Chief of Christianity Today

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=4020&picture=woman-with-magnifying-glassWoman With a Magnifying Glass

Twelve years ago four friends launched a conference called Together for the Gospel. Dee and I first learned about it from a Christianity Today article that appeared a few months later entitled Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback–and shaking up the church.

At the time of its publication, we had never heard of C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church, or Sovereign Grace Ministries, all of which figure prominently in this CT article. The piece went on to state:

Perhaps an attraction to serious doctrine brought about 3,000 ministry leaders to Louisville in April for a Together for the Gospel conference. The conference’s sponsors included Mohler and Mahaney, and Piper also spoke. Most of the audience were in their 20s and 30s. Each of the seven speakers holds to the five points of TULIP.

So much has changed since that first gathering in Louisville. While attendance will probably quadruple at T4G2018, the controversy surrounding Mahaney and the ‘family of churches’ he founded [now called Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC)] continues to percolate. It began when a lawsuit was filed back in 2012, followed by an amended complaint.

And what was the prevailing attitude of the Neo-Cal community toward these accusations against Mahaney, et al? Perhaps Tim Challies summed it up best in his 2013 post entitled: Thinking Biblically About C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. Challies wrote:

For this reason I have deliberately avoided learning too much.

As many of you know, the second amended complaint against Mahaney, et al was dismissed primarily due to the statute of limitations running out for most of the plaintiffs.  Since then a cloud has been hanging over C.J. and SGC, as well as the churches accused that have disassociated from SGC, namely Covenant Life Church and SGC Fairfax.

We are grateful that Mark Galli, Editor in Chief of Christianity Today, has just published an online article entitled We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries. The subtitle further explains Galli’s position:

Allegations of child sexual abuse and staff cover-up continue to swirl. Let’s set an example for all churches to follow, bringing healing to victims and churches alike.

How interesting that the Christian publication which gave the Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement such a HUGE public platform is now calling for an investigation of Sovereign Grace Churches (formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries). The CT article begins as follows:

For nearly six years now, an open wound has been festering in the evangelical community. It’s time for healing to begin.

But that healing cannot begin until we all know the exact nature and extent of the wound; until all the facts are out in the open; until the truth that liberates can be known; and most importantly, if and when it is pertinent, there is repentance.

To put it simply: Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC; formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries) and its individual churches and leaders, present and former, who have been accused of failing to adequately respond to past incidents of child and sexual abuse should submit to a thorough, truly independent investigation.

Mark Galli went on to affirm that “SGC, churches current and former—and pastor C. J. Mahaney (founder and former president) in particular—are under a cloud of suspicion.”

More to the point, Galli made this extremely important statement:

Given the prominence of Sovereign Grace, especially in Reformed evangelical circles, this puts the gospel we preach under a cloud.

We appreciated CT’s reference to two of our posts regarding Sovereign Grace Ministries (see below):

Since the lawsuit was dismissed on procedural grounds, and not on the merits of the case, there was never a legal investigation of the charges. As The Wartburg Watch (a watchdog website critical of SGM) put it at the time:

“Even one of the defense attorneys allegedly acknowledged the seriousness of the complaints.

Defense Attorney #1 affirms the seriousness of the allegations and notes that they were “tough to read.” He states that we have not yet gotten to the merits of these allegations, some going as far back as 1982, but if the case were to proceed and we did get to the merits, they would, however, be vigorously contested.”

“If I were a defendant, absolutely convinced of my innocence, I would be frustrated by this outcome,” wrote TWW. “I would want the trial to proceed so that the world could see the proof of my innocence. Now, both sides, must live in limbo … for now.”

The CT article acknowledged the extensive work of Brent Detwiler as well as the advocacy for victims by Rachael Denhollander.

Mark Galli ends his article with these wise words: (see screen shot below)

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/march-web-only/sovereign-grace-need-investigation-sgm-mahaney-denhollander.htmlAs one would expect, Sovereign Grace Churches was quick to respond to this CT article. Here are excerpts of their statement: (see screen shots below)

http://www.sovereigngrace.com/sovereign-grace-blog/post/sovereign-grace-churches-statement-to-christianity-todayhttp://www.sovereigngrace.com/sovereign-grace-blog/post/sovereign-grace-churches-statement-to-christianity-todayFinally, Warren Throckmorton has called attention to this challenge by Christianity Today to conduct a private investigation.

We will keep you apprised of any developments, although we don’t expect SGC to listen to Mark Galli.


Comments

Christianity Today’s Mark Galli Calls for an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Churches — 197 Comments

  1. 1? I have run out of words to express my loathing & disappointment in this YRR crew of Motley Fools….

  2. Not holding my breath for SGC (formerly SGM) to participate in such a thing. But good for Christianity Today and Mark Gallimores for urging such.

  3. I was so very annoyed with Sovereign Grace’s statement. It says that they can’t investigate churches that are no longer a part of them. Well, that may be true, but they CAN and SHOULD investigate CJ Mahaney, who is still a pastor in Sovereign Grace and the pastor of Sovereign Grace Louisville.

    There’s a Sovereign Grace church five miles from my house (much closer than Driscoll). Even though I am committed to picketing Driscoll, his book isn’t coming out until October so it’s not completely urgent that I show up this Sunday. Therefore, I will be out in front of Sovereign Grace in Gilbert before both services to let people know and put a little pressure on.

    My signs say: “Sovereign Grace is covering up for CJ Mahaney” and “Sovereign Grace can investigate CJ Mahaney but chooses NOT to.”

    And for those of you who are asking why some church out in Arizona should be targeted, this is why. The pastor, Rich Richardson, is the director of global missions for Sovereign Grace Churches. He went to their Pastors School. He for sure knows CJ Mahaney.

    I will be curious to see if they send out someone to talk to me. I suspect it will be like the House of Driscoll last Sunday–they’ll send out guys. (In all the time I picketed the House of Driscoll, only once did a woman come to talk to me.)

    My purpose is to let SGC locals know that their church has a serious problem.

  4. i wonder what’s it like to go to sleep at night knowing you are party to lies and deception over your role in enabling sexual abuse of children and preventing justice for the victims and their families.

    …and simultaneously representing God & being the public face of christianity to make money.

    at least one of them is all smiles and giggles.

    (i forget to breath, it’s so astonishing)

  5. elastigirl wrote:

    i wonder what’s it like to go to sleep at night knowing you are party to lies and deception over your role in enabling sexual abuse of children and preventing justice for the victims and their families.

    …and simultaneously representing God & being the public face of christianity to make money.

    at least one of them is all smiles and giggles.

    (i forget to breath, it’s so astonishing)

    I imagine it feels like…. “nothing”.

    Sociopaths certainly “feel”, but only about themselves. Others don’t even come into the equation.

    This goes for God too. People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists. If they weren’t, they’d be living in fear. It could be abuse enablers like the above or the scam artist faith healers. I’m not exagerrating. They have all the hallmarks of an atheist. They just take it a step further and show their contempt for God and religious people by stealing their money.

  6. per Sovereign Grace Churches:

    “SGC is a denomination consisting of 72 churches, each of which is individually constituted and governed by its own board of elders

    ….SGC leadership has no authority to mandate an investigation by an outside authority upon all of our churches. We are therefore unable to authorize an independent third-party investigation of SGC and its churches.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    But SGC leadership has authority to mandate other things upon all their churches. They wouldn’t be able to call them “our churches” otherwise.

    It takes a genuine snake to come up with such an excuse.

    And it takes genuine cowards to let it stand and respond with silence.

  7. @ Seraph:

    “People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i don’t think so. they rationalize away what is inconvenient.

    Just like little kids playing hide & seek who hide by covering their eyes, telling themselves that since i don’t see me then neither can you. as long as i close my eyes, i’ve disappeared!

    telling themselves, what they close their eyes to doesn’t exist.

    they do this to protect themselves. over & above what is right, true, and concern for the consequences of their actions born by others.

    one can be a pathetic coward and still believe in God.

  8. ION: Signs on the earth

    A large crack has opened up in the famous Rift Valley in Kenya, as reported here on the BBC.

    Ungodly “scientists” have speculated that the crack could be due to tectonic activity, with the soil movement boosted by recent heavy rain. But like all “science”, this is only a theory.

    Thankfully, a spokesman for the Bible cut through the confusion and declared the truth: the crack is due to creation groaning because of egalitarians.

  9. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Seraph:
    “People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists.”
    +++++++++++++++++++
    i don’t think so. they rationalize away what is inconvenient.

    I wpould agree. I think they have found some way to rationalize this. I am sure it easier to do this when they are all in a group together rationalizing this.

  10. The response is laughable. Ricucci, C.J., and loftness are all still in the sgm circle (all three named in the civil suit). You could start by interviewing them, there isn’t an immediate need to go to clc. It’s interesting how the tenor has moved away from outright denial, though.

  11. Seraph wrote:

    People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists. If they weren’t, they’d be living in fear. It could be abuse enablers like the above or the scam artist faith healers. I’m not exagerrating. They have all the hallmarks of an atheist. They just take it a step further and show their contempt for God and religious people by stealing their money.

    I resent being tarred with this inaccurate brush. I am an atheist and an atheist simply doesn’t believe in any gods – nothing more or less. I do not commit fraud nor do I commits acts of abuse against anyone. Why don’t I do these things? Because I am a decent human being who takes responsibilty for my actions and I have empathy for others. I don’t need a fear of some imaginary god to keep me in line. However, atheists can be jerks and abusers – just like Christians and other religionists.

    If the only thing that stops you from murdering your neighbor or cheating on your spouse is the fear of “god”, how’s that working out for you? Because just from observation and reading the news, it’s obvious to me that the actions of many Christians today would belie that premise. So I hope you’ll excuse me if I say that I fear fundegelical Christians and most other religionists who don’t live up to the claims of their holy books.

  12. Andrew wrote:

    The response is laughable. Ricucci, C.J., and loftness are all still in the sgm circle (all three named in the civil suit). You could start by interviewing them, there isn’t an immediate need to go to clc. It’s interesting how the tenor has moved away from outright denial, though.

    That’s a good point vis a vis tenor. I do kind of wonder now how much the new polity was an intentional step to make this sort of denial possible

  13. I got a real problem with Tim Challies, the shaming of those seeking justice and protection of the abused… Of course, nobody likes to go down these roads… But if our love and witness is credible we must….We live in a different age where cases of abuse are no longer so easily covered up. This is a good thing. Tim Challies has no authority only an opinion. If men like him took a stronger stand for accountability over 4 years ago maybe we wouldn’t be here… But thankfully for Ms. Den Hollander, here we are

  14. I also think it’s time for the ‘celebrity pastor’ to die… I’m tired of their books and their conferences. Give me a good local congregation. Give me a good denomination with good accountability (I’m partial to the opc and my pastor Lane Tipton) and give me the gospel for faith and healing and I’m satisfied. Everything seems to fail me…first and foremost myself. I need lifting up and encouragement not control and guilt that comes with indwelling sin and related sin patterns

  15. It’s only a matter of time before NBC and these news outlets start contacting Pam and the other SGC families who filed the lawsuit against SGM. Rachael D. opened a can of worms. C.J. Mahaney and the dream team are about to experience a reckoning,I believe, because this is far from over and just getting started. It seems God gave them time to repent and they in their arrogance decided to stay their course, shame on them.

    I will be having a sit down with our former pastor soon, who abused billy by slander, siding with and protecting his perpetrator. There have been new developments over the past weeks with which I will be seeking answers to some very hard questions that I will be directing towards him when this meeting occurs.

    If you all have read our story (Shauna and Billy ) then you know this will be interesting. My hope is to get answers, a public apology to my son in front of the church, and full transparency.

  16. I hear they have hired: Organization Of Professional Security Investigators Enterprise (OOPSIE) to investigate them and the official results were: “No worry, its a new season now” – smh

  17. Meghan wrote:

    That’s a good point vis a vis tenor. I do kind of wonder now how much the new polity was an intentional step to make this sort of denial possible

    I have no wonder about this, at all. I am 100 percent convinced that this is exactly why they are claiming/have SUPPOSEDLY created such polity. It certainly wasn’t for the pew sitters. It was for a protection of those at the top and the organization itself. I almost never talk about other motivations, as, who am I or anyone to know someone else’s heart. So I can’t say for sure they did it for that reason, but I can say that I am convinced that it was so.

    As to their claim of powerlessness over the individual churches, we have only to ask the dozens of former pastors who invited SGM and CJ and Larry Tomczak into their churches, only to be ousted from the very pulpits and churches they had originally built or helped to grow or the dozens and dozens of more pastors who came up through SGM, were pastors there at one point, then got chewed up and spit out NOT by the church or their congregation, but by the SGM leaders who lived elsewhere.

    No power over the individual churches, indeed.

  18. AJ wrote:

    I’m tired of their books and their conferences. Give me a good local congregation. Give me a good denomination with good accountability (I’m partial to the opc and my pastor Lane Tipton) and give me the gospel for faith and healing and I’m satisfied.

    Amen, AJ

  19. @ Shauna:

    Shauna, you are a brave woman. Not that I think you have much to fear, but the head games these guys can play… once you’ve been through them, it makes one hesitate to run the gauntlet of crazy making and half truths many of them employ. Strength for you. Truth for your son. May Christ be with you both every step of the way.

  20. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Seraph:

    “People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i don’t think so. they rationalize away what is inconvenient.

    I would also add that is so much easier to keep the status quo and not question and go along with the group is what leads to few doing anything.

  21. From Sovereign Grace’s statement:
    “In sum, we desire to walk transparently, to grow in our ability to better address this risk, and to honor Christ in the way we care for those who have experienced abuse.”

    If this were really true, Sovereign Grace would have an independent investigation. As poster elastigirl stated above, the organization can mandate requirements of its member churches, such as pastors only being men or the payment of a certain percentage of funds from the SG church to the SG organization.

    I don’t think SG feels that it has any need to be accountable for the past. The statement refers to the present and future, not to rectifying past abuse situations and providing restitution to abuse victims.

    I don’t think the victims are looking for money specifically, although they have incurred counseling, medical, and probably legal costs. I think they are looking for an acknowledgment of wrongdoing (confession), a humble request for forgiveness, and real acts of repentance and restitution, such as the commission of an independent investigation.

    Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax collector. He told Jesus he was going to give half his possessions to the poor, and if he cheated anyone, pay back 4 times the amount. What was the response of Jesus? “Today salvation has come to this house….”

    Restitution is important in God’s eyes and is a demonstration of faith. It’s part of his justice and it brings healing, both in the person’s or organization’s relationship to God and to His people.

    “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”–Micah 6:8

    He has also shown this truth to Christian organizations, churches, and leaders.

  22. Humm… what does good all “Dr” Al Mohler say now? At the last TGTG, or whatever their “conference” is called, he made a joke about not believing everthing you read on the internet….. is he going to make a joke about this editorial from CT?
    They really are snakes…

  23. Seraph wrote:

    This goes for God too. People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists. If they weren’t, they’d be living in fear. It could be abuse enablers like the above or the scam artist faith healers. I’m not exagerrating. They have all the hallmarks of an atheist. They just take it a step further and show their contempt for God and religious people by stealing their money.

    As an atheist I feel this is slanderous. They aren’t atheists; they worship a god of their own creation and one that mirrors what they are (at least among the leaders, among the followers many are worshiping their leaders’ god because of fear). Atheists are a mixed bag on how we treat our neighbors, but, please don’t assume that someone acting badly must be an atheist instead of a Christian.

  24. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Thankfully, a spokesman for the Bible cut through the confusion and declared the truth: the crack is due to creation groaning because of egalitarians.

    Thanks. I needed a good laugh today :-).

  25. This sudden CT article is hard to explain.
    What happened the third week of March, to suddenly cause This? It’s been six years, why sudden shift?

    CJ has officialy been thrown under the bus. That clunking is the sound of his head.

  26. Erp wrote:

    As an atheist I feel this is slanderous. They aren’t atheists; they worship a god of their own creation and one that mirrors what they are (at least among the leaders, among the followers many are worshiping their leaders’ god because of fear). Atheists are a mixed bag on how we treat our neighbors, but, please don’t assume that someone acting badly must be an atheist instead of a Christian.

    Preach! As a christian, I think this is slanderous against atheists, too. I think what the original author was meaning was that a person who follows Jesus would act like Jesus. But I don’t think atheist is the only other alternative to someone not acting like the God they claim to follow.

  27. @ AJ:
    This is an essential step in a larger process. It obviously won’t solve every problem the church faces in these matters, but it would get the ‘too big to fail’ pastors off their stages, where they are beyond the reach of church courts. Don’t they see the obvious, inherent absurdity of preaching Christ crucified in an arena that holds 30,000 fans? How they discredit the message in the medium? I’m Reformed and I’m bothered terribly by how Calvinism, which has historically been associated with Reformed theology, has been co-opted by a celebrity driven movement that has brought so much contempt on my faith.

  28. To the atheists that comment on this blog….I’d hang out with you any day and respect t you more that the leaders of SGM.

  29. @ Nathan Priddis:
    Rachael D.
    The cover up at SGM looks almost as bad as the US gymnastics travesty…. kind of hard to be the “light of the world”, when you covered in poo poo like “the world”

  30. cookingwithdogs wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists. If they weren’t, they’d be living in fear. It could be abuse enablers like the above or the scam artist faith healers. I’m not exagerrating. They have all the hallmarks of an atheist. They just take it a step further and show their contempt for God and religious people by stealing their money.

    I resent being tarred with this inaccurate brush. I am an atheist and an atheist simply doesn’t believe in any gods – nothing more or less. I do not commit fraud nor do I commits acts of abuse against anyone. Why don’t I do these things? Because I am a decent human being who takes responsibilty for my actions and I have empathy for others. I don’t need a fear of some imaginary god to keep me in line. However, atheists can be jerks and abusers – just like Christians and other religionists.

    If the only thing that stops you from murdering your neighbor or cheating on your spouse is the fear of “god”, how’s that working out for you? Because just from observation and reading the news, it’s obvious to me that the actions of many Christians today would belie that premise. So I hope you’ll excuse me if I say that I fear fundegelical Christians and most other religionists who don’t live up to the claims of their holy books.

    The only difference I see between you and them is that they have more conviction of their worldview and reach it’s full conclusion.

    I don’t have a spouse. I’m not a “fundegelical” either. I’m Orthodox.

  31. AJ wrote:

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/castellitto/180216

    From the article:

    Rachel Denhollander: “…we were advocating for other victims of sexual assault within the evangelical community, crimes which had been perpetrated by people in the church and whose abuse had been enabled, very clearly, by prominent leaders in the evangelical community. That is not a message that evangelical leaders want to hear, because it would cost to speak out about the community…. Because I had taken that position, and because we were not in agreement with our church’s support of this organization and these leaders, it cost us dearly.

    “When I did come forward as an abuse victim, this part of my past was wielded like a weapon by some of the elders to further discredit my concern, essentially saying that I was imposing my own perspective or that my judgment was too clouded. One of them accused me of sitting around reading angry blog posts all day, which is not the way I do research. That’s never been the way I do research. But my status as a victim was used against my advocacy.” – RDH

    – Gaslighting. A victim is so destroyed they can’t be trusted. Old argument to silence violated women (and violated men, it happens).

    Advocates pay a price. Ronan Farrow talks about this in “Esquire” regarding his role in the #metoo movement, his article about Weinstein. A career liability for him.

  32. Abigail wrote:

    To the atheists that comment on this blog….I’d hang out with you any day and respect t you more that the leaders of SGM.

    Seconded!

  33. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Seraph:

    “People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i don’t think so. they rationalize away what is inconvenient.

    Just like little kids playing hide & seek who hide by covering their eyes, telling themselves that since i don’t see me then neither can you. as long as i close my eyes, i’ve disappeared!

    telling themselves, what they close their eyes to doesn’t exist.

    they do this to protect themselves. over & above what is right, true, and concern for the consequences of their actions born by others.

    one can be a pathetic coward and still believe in God.

    I think anyone rationalizing to this extent (literally building ministries and outright abuse and theft) isn’t all that convinced or, at the very best, too casual for their own good. Christians are called to “pray without ceasing”. – 1 Thes 5:17. God is ever-present. There’s no running or hiding.

    Some people are explicitly atheistic, some just atheist by living in their own “head space” as only I/Me and relating everything to their ego. When their actions are like the above, they’re obviously telling me that they haven’t been shocked out of that mentality. Because that is what a belief in God does. Shocks you.

  34. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    “A large crack has opened up in the famous Rift Valley in Kenya, as reported here on the BBC.

    Ungodly “scientists” have speculated that the crack could be due to tectonic activity, with the soil movement boosted by recent heavy rain. But like all “science”, this is only a theory.

    Thankfully, a spokesman for the Bible cut through the confusion and declared the truth: the crack is due to creation groaning because of egalitarians.
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    it really says something about one’s religion when such a declaration being made is entirely plausible.

  35. @ Seraph:

    for the record, the most excellent human beings i’ve known have no belief in God. selfless, humble, honest, generous, kind.

  36. Slightly off topic, but I suppose most are aware of the Chicago Tribune’s post concerning alleged sexual misconduct by Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels and less than adequate investigations by the Elder Board?

  37. elastigirl wrote:

    it really says something about one’s religion when such a declaration being made is entirely plausible.

    Indeed – Poe’s Law came about through one Nathan Poe’s attempts to parody creationism. As I’m sure you know, we have occasional Poe-ists from “Elevation Church”, writing comments in praise of Pastor Steve Furtive, and it’s almost impossible to tell that they aren’t for real.

    I’m confident, of course, that regular Wartburgers (with or without fries) know of my scientific background. I’m with the geologists on this one.

  38. @ truthseeker00:
    “The pastor said he has built his church with a culture of open conversation, strength and transparency, and said he could not understand why a group of former prominent members of his church — some of them onetime close friends — have “colluded” against him.”

    A pastor acquaintance who worked at WC would disagree with Hybels’ description of the culture; she left and is highly successful now.

    In reading over the Franklin Case mentioned on a link above, to talk or not to talk is the question. You inadvertantly discover something and you become, “The Man Who Knew Too Much”.

    Even victims don’t want to – they unintentionally cross paths with a predator and then have to deal with it.

  39. Meghan wrote:

    Andrew wrote:

    The response is laughable. Ricucci, C.J., and loftness are all still in the sgm circle (all three named in the civil suit). You could start by interviewing them, there isn’t an immediate need to go to clc. It’s interesting how the tenor has moved away from outright denial, though.

    That’s a good point vis a vis tenor. I do kind of wonder now how much the new polity was an intentional step to make this sort of denial possible

    Yes, Andrew was right…that part of their statement is just one of the many intentionally deceptive comments.

    In terms of their polity, I would be very surprised if this were not the primary reason for the structure. Of course the top-down influence is still present, whether overt or more subtly.

    On the Healing Journey wrote:

    From Sovereign Grace’s statement:
    “In sum, we desire to walk transparently, to grow in our ability to better address this risk, and to honor Christ in the way we care for those who have experienced abuse.”

    I firmly believe this to be another deceptive statement. Mark Prater sat at my dining room table in 2011 and told me that he did not believe transparency was right. He actually tried to conflate it with violating a confidence. As has already been stated, if SGM really believes this, there would be a boatload of evidence. What have they ever been transparent about? Absolutely nothing.

  40. SGC’s response excuses themselves from bearing any responsibility for requiring independent investigations into their denominational churches.

    What, then, excuses them from investigating individual church leaders, starting with the top of the heep, Mr. C.J. “the worst sinner he knows” Mahaney?

  41. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    In fact, I believe I’m Wartburg’s #2 Science Affairs Correspondent (after OldJohnJ).

    Nick, thanks for the compliment. I gladly share this title with you, Jeff Chalmers and anyone else with an interest in how Christianity and science interact. I’m not commenting much these days as I have essentially no experiences with the primary topic being brought forth by TWW: sexual, spiritual, financial and physical abuse within the Church. Having said that let me assure you I support this focus. Nothing can be more damaging to our faith than churches claiming to follow Christ doing such things.

    See Dee’s comment at Sat Mar 24, 2018 at 12:26 PM following her 2018/03/21 post for a very clear statement of TWW’s focus.

  42. @ Nathan Priddis:

    “This sudden CT article is hard to explain.
    What happened the third week of March, to suddenly cause This? It’s been six years, why sudden shift?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    read this on Twitter, from Katelyn Beatty:

    “Here is Christianity Today, where I worked for nearly a decade, being Christianity today. Well done @markgalli @CTmagazine . Clear, detailed, nuanced, and gospel-centered.”

    https://twitter.com/KatelynBeaty/status/976858306869415937

    (I’m rejecting the ‘gospel-centered’ bit like food poisoning, but meanwhile….)

    Reading between the lines (intuition and inference kicking in), it seems to me that a period of time has gone by where Christianity Today has been prevented from this kind of plain-speaking.

    indeed, something has happened. ooooh, i’m curious.

  43. truthseeker00 wrote:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-willow-creek-pastor-20171220-story.html

    “The pastor said he has built his church with a culture of open conversation, strength and transparency, and said he could not understand why a group of former prominent members of his church — some of them onetime close friends — have “colluded” against him.”

    Why would a group of prominent members and close friends collude against him?

    Answer: they wouldn’t.

    I don’t know if this guy is guilty of all the things various people have come forward to say he’s done or not, but I’m fairly certain that “prominent members” and “close friends” have ZERO reason to join together to collude against someone just for the heck of it. That claim makes no sense to me.

  44. ___

    Hello,
    I would like to take a moment and pause to thank all of the women worldwide who have for so long sacrificed so much in an effort to bring offending evangelicals to justice, and to safeguard our children.

    (tears)

    I send ma prayers…

    Faithful is He who has embraced us with a love beyond understanding, faithful is He who will bring our prayers to pass…

    ATB

    Sòpy
    __
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qZnj8yifvsw

    🙂

    – –

  45. Erp wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    This goes for God too. People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists. If they weren’t, they’d be living in fear. It could be abuse enablers like the above or the scam artist faith healers. I’m not exagerrating. They have all the hallmarks of an atheist. They just take it a step further and show their contempt for God and religious people by stealing their money.

    As an atheist I feel this is slanderous. They aren’t atheists; they worship a god of their own creation and one that mirrors what they are (at least among the leaders, among the followers many are worshiping their leaders’ god because of fear). Atheists are a mixed bag on how we treat our neighbors, but, please don’t assume that someone acting badly must be an atheist instead of a Christian.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments, Erp. There are a lot of decent people in this world. There are a lot of jerks too. The *church* has its share of both.

  46. Abigail wrote:

    To the atheists that comment on this blog….I’d hang out with you any day and respect t you more that the leaders of SGM.

    Definitely!

  47. On the Healing Journey wrote:

    The statement refers to the present and future, not to rectifying past abuse situations and providing restitution to abuse victims.

    They only speak of what they are doing now without a specific admission of their past malfeasance, this is only misdirection. The issue is what they did in the past and had they come clean back then, fully admitting to what transpired and CJ permanently left the scene, there would be a basis for trust now. After all these years there will be no trust till there is a truly independent investigation. Unfortunately many who were not guilty then have been complicit in the cover-up since.

    Thus if an independent investigation does prove guilt, this will only spark the need for another investigation to determine those guilty of the subsequent and continuing coverup. Short of a wholesale house cleaning at SGC/SGM I see little hope they would submit to such an investigation.

  48. Seraph wrote:

    The only difference I see between you and them is that they have more conviction of their worldview and reach it’s full conclusion.

    I don’t have a spouse. I’m not a “fundegelical” either. I’m Orthodox.

    A better response might be to apologise for the unnecessary hurt.

  49. Erp wrote:

    As an atheist I feel this is slanderous. They aren’t atheists; they worship a god of their own creation and one that mirrors what they are (at least among the leaders, among the followers many are worshiping their leaders’ god because of fear). Atheists are a mixed bag on how we treat our neighbors, but, please don’t assume that someone acting badly must be an atheist instead of a Christian.

    You bring up a good point.

    I have sadly seen some so called Christians that don’t have the much ethics etc and seen non church attending people that had much more ethics.

    One of the tenets of Calvinism is “total depravity” of man without Christ. Calvinism has this tenet based on Romans where it says there are none who do good etc. The claim is apart from Christ no one can do good.

    My experience sadly is some who claim to be believers have worst behavior than than those who don’t claim to know Christ. So much for the the “total depravity” teaching.

  50. I am mystified by Mahaney’s popularity to date. He is poorly educated. He has an enormous ego – his statements on humility are anything but a reflection of sincere humility. And what is with this pastor athlete business. I competed at a high level in NCAA Division 1 (on scholarship) and I would not refer to myself today as an athlete. Really, this poser was the sandlot king and all are supposed to kiss his feet as a pastor athlete? And the homeschooling, isolationist, culture? How does that help someone cope with the real world out there? And the limited role and intolerant treatment of women, eclipsing talent for women and happiness for both men and women with their 17th century views on dating? I have met some young men from his church. It was unreal. Very little ambition to be independent, stuck in an isolated cocoon, with no skills how to have relationships with young women, especially ones with focus and ambition. They could phonily love bomb others, however, or so it seemed. Little wonder in such an isolated, manipulative, anti-intellectual environment male sex offenders could hide and even flourish. Can someone explain the attraction to this Mahaney guy?

  51. Regarding Seraph.

    This person’s username is probably not being understood on this blog. The name is forgotten to Evangelical Christianity.

    1. Seraph / Seraphim / Serpent all are conceptually the same. Seraph is singular.
    2. This name is associated with fire, death, judgement and wrath poured forth.
    3. It would be represented by the Sign Eridanus, The River of Fire.

    On the previous post regarding Highpoint Church, Saraph claimed to have little knowledge of subjects like the NAR. Yet, the name is more ancient the earth and the stars.

  52. In sum, we desire to walk transparently, to grow in our ability to better address this risk, and to honor Christ in the way we care for those who have experienced abuse.

    If SGM/SGC’s leadership truly embraces such a desire, then they should be open to the type of investigation sought by Mark Galli, Rachael Denhollander and others. The same goes for churches formerly associated with SGM, such as Covenant Life Church. And the same should go not only for C.J. Mahaney but his successor, Joshua Harris, as well, even if Mahaney is now a Southern Baptist and Harris is, at least for the time being, no longer preaching.

  53. @ OldJohnJ:

    Great to hear from you, OJJ, and I hope you are as well as may be. I often thing of you, TBH, and I did again this morning when I came across this article on the BBC on what may, just possibly, lead towards room-temperature superconductivity.

  54. Beakerj wrote:

    ‘It is our desire to walk transparently’. No it isn’t.

    There’s something kind of self-refuting about that claim, isn’t there?

  55. More generally, on the SGM (or whatever) statement:

    In sum, we desire to walk transparently, to grow in our ability to better address this risk, and to honor Christ in the way we care for those who have experienced abuse.

    Let me pick up, for just a moment, on that last bit: about “honouring Christ” in the way we care for people.

    Inasmuch as you did it for the least of these, you did it for Me

    A business, or other organisation, that wants to honour Christ in the way it cares for survivors of abuse need simply honour those people who have survived abuse. Take them seriously, let them speak and, when they’ve spoken, honour their input as if they were Jesus, and he will take that honour personally. That’s all it takes.

  56. Abigail wrote:

    To the atheists that comment on this blog….I’d hang out with you any day and respect t you more that the leaders of SGM.

    And I would say the same except replace leaders of SGM with “some atheist leaders” (starting with Richard Carrier) and probably most current leaders of Ayn Rand supporters.

  57. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    It’s laughable & such a great example of the malignant deception rife in this ‘church’ empire. For those who claim to worship a God of truth they are so far off the mark it’s disgusting. They know they are hiding a shed load of horror behind those wonderful sounding words. Gah, I have no words for my contempt.

  58. Erp wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    This goes for God too. People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists. If they weren’t, they’d be living in fear. It could be abuse enablers like the above or the scam artist faith healers. I’m not exagerrating. They have all the hallmarks of an atheist. They just take it a step further and show their contempt for God and religious people by stealing their money.

    As an atheist I feel this is slanderous. They aren’t atheists; they worship a god of their own creation and one that mirrors what they are (at least among the leaders, among the followers many are worshiping their leaders’ god because of fear). Atheists are a mixed bag on how we treat our neighbors, but, please don’t assume that someone acting badly must be an atheist instead of a Christian.

    Actually, it’d be libel, because it’s written. But since it’s written about an entire group of people, not an individual or a readily-identifiable organization, it’s none of the above.

    All that pedanticism aside, I agree that those who don’t believe in God are not necessarily bad actors, just as those who do believe in God are not necessarily bad actors. But if you closely read what Seraph said, he/she is not saying that atheists do awful things, he/she is saying that people who do awful things in the name of God are not true believers in God—they are atheists in that sense, and bad-acting atheists.

    Read it carefully. Again, while I can’t say what Seraph personally believes about atheists, Seraph is not accusing in that post accusing all atheists of being bad actors like those who cover up child abuse..

  59. Erp wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    This goes for God too. People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists. If they weren’t, they’d be living in fear. It could be abuse enablers like the above or the scam artist faith healers. I’m not exagerrating. They have all the hallmarks of an atheist. They just take it a step further and show their contempt for God and religious people by stealing their money.

    As an atheist I feel this is slanderous. They aren’t atheists; they worship a god of their own creation and one that mirrors what they are (at least among the leaders, among the followers many are worshiping their leaders’ god because of fear). Atheists are a mixed bag on how we treat our neighbors, but, please don’t assume that someone acting badly must be an atheist instead of a Christian.

    Actually, it’d be libel, because it’s written. But since it’s written about an entire group of people, not an individual or a readily-identifiable organization, it’s none of the above.

    All that pedanticism aside, I agree that those who don’t believe in God are not necessarily bad actors, just as those who do believe in God are not necessarily bad actors. But if you closely read what Seraph said, he/she is not saying that atheists do awful things, he/she is saying that people who do awful things in the name of God are not true believers in God—they are atheists in that sense, and bad-acting atheists.

    Read it carefully. Again, while I can’t say what Seraph personally believes about atheists, Seraph is not accusing in that post accusing all atheists of being bad actors like those who cover up child abuse..

  60. Seraph wrote:

    Sociopaths certainly “feel”, but only about themselves. Others don’t even come into the equation.
    This goes for God too. People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists.

    “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god’.”

  61. Remnant wrote:

    SGC’s response excuses themselves from bearing any responsibility for requiring independent investigations into their denominational churches.

    What, then, excuses them from investigating individual church leaders, starting with the top of the heep, Mr. C.J. “the worst sinner he knows” Mahaney?

    My point EXACTLY.

    That’s why I’m going to Sovereign Grace Gilbert in the morning. Because CJ is still the power in SGC and this rhetoric from SGC obscures the fact that they could have CJ investigated. But they don’t.

  62. Erp wrote:

    And I would say the same except replace leaders of SGM with “some atheist leaders” (starting with Richard Carrier) and probably most current leaders of Ayn Rand supporters.

    One of the more famous atheist “leaders” or “speakers” is Lawrence Krauss. It’s recently come out that he’s been sexually harassing women. He is not the first “famous atheist” who has been called out for harassing women. But it’s serious business–he teaches down the road from me at Arizona State, but is currently not allowed on campus because of the allegations.

    My point is celebrity atheism has a lot of the same problems as celebrity Christianity.

  63. @ Serving Kids In Japan:

    And, seeing as there is now a great deal of conversation on Seraph’s comment, I should clarify: The psalmist’s intention with these words is not, in my mind, to characterize atheists as fools, but the other way around. As I understand it, “fool” in the Bible typically refers to someone who is deficient in the moral sense, not necessarily in the mental or intellectual sense. It means someone whose life consistently displays selfish and irresponsible acts, and who refuses to learn from his errors or their consequences.

    To me, that fits Mahaney and his goons to a ‘T’ — I think they see themselves as being accountable to no one and nothing but themselves. The ultimate in foolishness.

  64. elastigirl wrote:

    Reading between the lines (intuition and inference kicking in), it seems to me that a period of time has gone by where Christianity Today has been prevented from this kind of plain-speaking.

    I was debating about not renewing my CT subscription a few months ago because I had some concerns. In the last few weeks I did renew. Galli’s article gives me hope.

  65. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    To me, that fits Mahaney and his goons to a ‘T’ — I think they see themselves as being accountable to no one and nothing but themselves. The ultimate in foolishness.

    However I’m pretty certain that they do see themselves as accountable to their God; it is just that they see their God as generally approving of not letting possible “minor faults” by leaders be known so as to keep the reputation of the church pristine. Violating a shibboleth such as disagreeing with other leaders about a point of theology would get a leader kicked out by the other leaders.

    BTW most atheists generally do see themselves as being held accountable but by their fellow humans and by the laws of nature (step off a cliff and gravity will certainly hold you accountable; be nasty to your fellow humans and you will reap what you sow).

  66. @ MM:
    A great question….. and can be asked a thousand times of other “spiritual” leaders….

  67. Nathan Priddis wrote:

    This sudden CT article is hard to explain.
    What happened the third week of March, to suddenly cause This? It’s been six years, why sudden shift?

    CJ has officialy been thrown under the bus. That clunking is the sound of his head.

    Hate to say this, but most Evangelicals crave media approval. In years past, CJ. Swung a pretty big stick. Lots of followers, books, churches, speaking engagements, money etc.

    Rachael Denhollander and the MSU scandal appeared, and she moves the PR needle more than CJ.

    CT and their evangelical followers like Rachael better.

    It’s that simple.

    If it were principal, it would have happened years ago.

    Glad it’s happened though.

  68. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    My point is celebrity atheism has a lot of the same problems as celebrity Christianity.

    I was considering mentioning Lawrence Krauss. The Buzzfeed investigative article about it was documented and devastating (https://www.buzzfeed.com/peteraldhous/lawrence-krauss-sexual-harassment-allegations). His is an example of harassment in the general conference/speaker circuit (academic, fan, gaming, etc.) and also within the academic environment (professors on students or staff or junior faculty). Well networked women (and men) are usually warned (quietly to avoid defamation suits) to avoid associating with certain men [or much more rarely women] (Krauss was one to avoid by most accounts well before the story broke in the press); unwarned women (and men) suffer. How conferences handle harassment complaints and people known to harass is a current issue in many different groups (offhand philosophers, gamers, SF fans) and has been for several years now. In particular movement atheism has had a long standing split for several years over harassment and feminism (look up elevatorgate). It is one reason why I usually describe myself as a humanist not an atheist.

  69. Nathan Priddis wrote:

    Seraph

    ser·aph: noun; plural noun: seraphim – an angelic being, regarded in traditional Christian angelology as belonging to the highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy, associated with light, ardor, and purity. – online Dictionary.

  70. Erp wrote:

    Atheists are a mixed bag on how we treat our neighbors, but, please don’t assume that someone acting badly must be an atheist instead of a Christian.

    The theology of SGC as I understand it, is a belief that all things happen for God’s glory. Therefore abuse happens for his glory, and an abuser could actually be one God’s elected ones.
    It’s a cascade where rationalization leads to justification because in their world God cannot ever be wrong. It all happens for his glory.

    How many times have they trucked out David (that jolly old elf) and show how flawed he was but he was still God’s chosen king. The fact the bible does not vindicate David but actually critiques his actions is beside the point.

    These pastors who cover up abuse are in fact as true believers as any others.

    It would be closer to the mark that their Christianity is not the same as other Christianities.

  71. Forrest wrote:

    Abigail wrote:

    To the atheists that comment on this blog….I’d hang out with you any day and respect t you more that the leaders of SGM.

    Definitely!

    I’ll bring the beer and wine!! And some iced tea and soft drinks for the Southern Baptists and anyone else who doesn’t drink. 🙂

    Sorry, as a former Southern Baptist I had to throw that in. Couldn’t help myself 🙂

  72. @ JYJames:
    Saraph made referance to being Orthodox. However, Church traditions are neither ancient, nor original. There is no correlation between Scriptures, and the above mentioned Angelogy.

    If one believed tradition regarding a Seraph as an angel of light, there is a reference to that phrase. However, it’s not a good phrase. Angel of Light, was used to describe Satan and his ministers.

    You would not think it would make the most popular list of usernames.

  73. Seraph wrote:

    elastigirl wrote:
    i wonder what’s it like to go to sleep at night knowing you are party to lies and deception over your role in enabling sexual abuse of children and preventing justice for the victims and their families.
    …and simultaneously representing God & being the public face of christianity to make money.
    at least one of them is all smiles and giggles.
    (i forget to breath, it’s so astonishing)
    I imagine it feels like…. “nothing”.
    Sociopaths certainly “feel”, but only about themselves. Others don’t even come into the equation.
    This goes for God too. People who blatantly commit injustice and fraud in the name of God are actually atheists. If they weren’t, they’d be living in fear. It could be abuse enablers like the above or the scam artist faith healers. I’m not exagerrating. They have all the hallmarks of an atheist. They just take it a step further and show their contempt for God and religious people by stealing their money.

    I think too it’s a big rationalization, as in “but we’re doing such good things here, look at our impact on x, y, z”.

  74. GMFS

    This is going to be fairly lengthy, I’m afraid, but I’ll do my best to précis it.

    Point 1 of 3: an interesting dream

    I mean a literal, ordinary night-time dream I had a few months ago. It provides a useful background. Long story short, it was kind of in three parts, and it involved watching a stage magician perform a bit of close-up magic. In part 1, the magician performed the trick. I can’t remember exactly what the trick was, but it was the kind of illusion you’d expect in any good magic show. In part 2, the magician spoke to us in the audience and said she was going to show us how the trick was done. Which I was quite pleased about, because I certainly couldn’t see how she’d done it and it looked impressive. In part 3, she explained the trick… except that she didn’t. She talked nonsense for a minute or two; then I woke up.

    The point here, of course, is that the magician couldn’t explain the trick to me because I didn’t know how to do the trick. As a simple figment of my own imagination, she couldn’t explain anything I myself didn’t know.

    And yes, the magician was female; I don’t believe that has any particular significance, though. (She wasn’t wearing gratuitously little, like the traditional magician’s assistant, in case you were worried.)

    Point 2 of 3: one form of atheist Christian

    In my 30-odd years of being around churches, I’ve noticed that for a proportion of church-lovers, “God” is just like that magician in my dream. When they pray for a sick person, they might for instance pray that God might give the doctors wisdom. When they pray for a person facing great difficulties, they pray that God might “be with” them. They expect nothing of God that they themselves, or the ordinary circumstances of life (random or otherwise), could not deliver. They discover God’s will only after the fact – IOW, they pray, and if nothing happens that even they can cherry-pick for positive outcomes, they’ll declare that “it wasn’t God’s will” or that “the answer was no“. But God never tells them “no” while they’re praying. Indeed, he never speaks directly to them at all.

    Moreover, I’ve experienced church-lovers become very hostile and antagonistic when faced with testimonies of God doing something that they couldn’t have done, or speaking something they couldn’t have known, as though God actually had real and separate existence. They really don’t like the idea that we can hear God speak and know his will directly, independently of rolling the proverbial dice and seeing what happens. Their God cannot do anything they themselves couldn’t do because he is a figment of their imaginations.

    And yet… they worship this “God” and sing songs to it, declaring that it is mighty to save.

    Point 3 of 3: I can’t do this

    Call me a drooling fundamentalist, but I can’t worship a God who does nothing. I can’t worship alongside these people. They may be decent enough ethically, and they probably don’t abuse children or deliberately shelter those who do. But they’re not Christians; they’re church-lovers. They’re atheists, not Christians, because they just don’t have any confidence in God. He’s just a construct to help them celebrate good things and feel comforted about bad ones.

    There are undoubtedly many different reasons why these people choose to dress their atheism up in religion. But I wish they’d call themselves atheists, and I’d far rather hang out with an honest atheist than with a church-going atheist, however ethical they are.

  75. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Call me a drooling fundamentalist, but I can’t worship a God who does nothing. I can’t worship alongside these people. They may be decent enough ethically, and they probably don’t abuse children or deliberately shelter those who do. But they’re not Christians; they’re church-lovers. They’re atheists, not Christians, because they just don’t have any confidence in God. He’s just a construct to help them celebrate good things and feel comforted about bad ones

    I can’t quite agree on this point. It may be a misunderstanding on my part. The Christian core belief is the resurrection of Jesus and that he was the son of God who came to die for our sins.
    You have to believe this event happened otherwise you can’t claim to be Christian.
    However I don’t think that you have to believe the fantastic claims of others to call yourself a Christian.
    You can believe that God moves in your life without the flash & bang of prophecy & miracle.
    Each Christian has the right to believe or disbelieve anything outside the resurrection they want and still retain the title.

  76. Jack wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Call me a drooling fundamentalist, but I can’t worship a God who does nothing. I can’t worship alongside these people. They may be decent enough ethically, and they probably don’t abuse children or deliberately shelter those who do. But they’re not Christians; they’re church-lovers. They’re atheists, not Christians, because they just don’t have any confidence in God. He’s just a construct to help them celebrate good things and feel comforted about bad ones

    I can’t quite agree on this point. It may be a misunderstanding on my part. The Christian core belief is the resurrection of Jesus and that he was the son of God who came to die for our sins.
    You have to believe this event happened otherwise you can’t claim to be Christian.
    However I don’t think that you have to believe the fantastic claims of others to call yourself a Christian.
    You can believe that God moves in your life without the flash & bang of prophecy & miracle.
    Each Christian has the right to believe or disbelieve anything outside the resurrection they want and still retain the title.

    While I absolutely love Nick and would put him on my Mt. Rushmore of posters on this forum, I think you raise an excellent point, Jack. A lot of people within Christendom make a lot of claims and I just don’t believe them. That said, I do believe God does all sorts of things all the time. But anyway, very good point.

  77. truthseeker00 wrote:

    Chicago Tribune’s post concerning alleged sexual misconduct by Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels

    Hybels was the primary architect of “seeker-friendly” church. It’s no surprise to hear that he has been overly friendly with some of the seekers. He spent a lifetime trying to conform church to the image of the world. His seeker-friendly philosophy included asking the church to remove the symbol of the Cross since it was offensive to lost folks and hindered them from coming to church. Ten years ago, he confessed “We made a mistake” by not leading his congregation to study the Word of God on their own, to become disciples of Christ – to be the Church, rather than disciples of the Willow Creek model for doing church. When a preacher removes the Cross of Christ from worship and fails to make disciples of Christ, you can rest assured that he has probably made other mistakes as well.

  78. drstevej wrote:

    I hear they have hired: Organization Of Professional Security Investigators Enterprise (OOPSIE) to investigate them and the official results were: “No worry, its a new season now” – smh

    I know Rachael means well in calling for some organization to investigate, and she must be very busy, but: She has already proven herself to be a very competent investigator of SGM. And I believe any victims or their families can trust her. Could they trust OOPSIE, should SGC eventually cave in and hire them?

  79. Shauna wrote:

    I will be having a sit down with our former pastor soon

    I hope that goes well, and trust you’ll have someone with you for support. Personally, I would only go through such a process in writing/email, but I’m a bit cynical.
    Along the line of my last comment concerning SGM — If your former pastor or church hired some *independent* investigator rather than meeting with you personally, would you feel you could trust them with an interview?

  80. Max wrote:

    It’s no surprise to hear that he has been overly friendly with some of the seekers.

    Good way to put it. Wise to be cautious about the “overly friendly” folks in Christendom. It’s a red flag.

    Just watched, “Wild, Wild Country” on Netflix. In conclusion, they concluded that deeply needy folks sought out the Baghwan and his Sheela (Spoiler alert: ending up as two opposing factions poisoning and attempting to kill each other, for real).

    Social boundaries are important even as we are All In with God Himself.

  81. @ Max:

    (being tangential, here) …but what about the resurrection? all my life, all i hear about is the cross. in songs, sermons, imagery, life application,…

    it’s one half of the event. if things stop at the cross, then God is dead and the best proof yet that this is silliest of all religions.

    to me, the resurrection is the key, defining part of the event. the part that changes everything — in the storyline, in theory, in practice…. in how it impacts my life this very day.

    all my life, i never remember hearing about the ramifications, the impact, the reality of the resurrection & its significance. other than a cursory, obligatory nod that it happened. kind of like how the holy spirit gets that same cursory, obligatory nod.

    does it come down to the cross being 3-dimensional and easy to represent and therefore easy to mentally grab on to? and the resurrection being conceptual, hard to depict, defying categorization?

    i think christian leaders feel the need for more control (of data, of circumstances, of people) than things like the resurrection and the Holy Spirit afford.

    it’s so disappointing to me — i thought this was about faith… faith in the unseen, the nebulous, brought into the practical realm. grounding things in the historical and the 3-dimensional is very interesting and helpful….

    but it’s only part of the subject matter.

  82. Max wrote:

    Ten years ago, he confessed “We made a mistake” by not leading his congregation to study the Word of God on their own, to become disciples of Christ – to be the Church, rather than disciples of the Willow Creek model for doing church

    This church become a model for mass marketing. I don’t think anything is done without calculation.
    You’ll get to a point where you’ve reached the most your market will bear.
    When Hybels made that statement, I suspect they figured out that remaining seeker sensitive was bringing in diminishing returns & maybe even losing members to the competition.
    They needed to justify the change in tack as seeker sensitive was part of the brand.
    It was rebranding.

  83. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Moreover, I’ve experienced church-lovers become very hostile and antagonistic when faced with testimonies of God doing something that they couldn’t have done, or speaking something they couldn’t have known, as though God actually had real and separate existence. They really don’t like the idea that we can hear God speak and know his will directly, independently of rolling the proverbial dice and seeing what happens. Their God cannot do anything they themselves couldn’t do because he is a figment of their imaginations.

    The Casper ten Boom family during the Holocaust is an example of folks who believed in both studying the Bible and being attentive to the Holy Spirit.

    When there is no Holocaust, some folks live comfortably with following Biblical mandates, to a degree, and for the personal rewards that follow (marriage, a job, family, etc.). However, my observation, is that these folks don’t believe in real Evil nor in the real Goodness of God. It’s sort of lukewarm. Not my cup of tea, personally, but I see where they are coming from.

  84. @ elastigirl:

    (part 2 — and only if interested in this tangent)

    it’s like bike riding.

    you can know and teach about bikes (the history, the parts, the mechanics). but then there’s the next step which is teaching & learning how to actually ride the bike.

    the next step involves part effort (using muscles to push off from a fixed point, pushing down on the pedals so the wheels start to move, and holding on to the steering wheel & a little pressure to guide the bike along the direction of the path)

    …and part letting go, believing the laws of physics will kick in and do their part (gravity, acceleration, etc). we learn to find that sweet spot of our effort and then holding back on that effort and letting go to invisible things. that’s how to ride a bike.

    the sweet spot of accessing tiny muscles that exist but which aren’t accessed in other activities, applying effort through those muscles but then relaxing and letting invisible forces take it from there.

    and of course, in teaching someone how to ride a bike, the teacher has to let go. they run with rider, holding on to the bike, but then they have to let go. the rider will crash. but they get up and try again. and they get it pretty soon.

    (messy process, with a bit of embarrassment, pain, fear. but how else does one learn to ride a bike?)

    i feel many church leaders know all about the bike, but they either don’t know how to ride the bike (the invisible, conceptual things like the resurrection and the Holy Spirit remain in the theoretical realm, and are not applied),

    or they do know how to ride the bike but are afraid to let go of the bike that others are learning to ride.

    too messy. too much risk. too much personal investment to jeopardize with such risk.

    seems to me that entirely misses the point of the exercise.

  85. elastigirl wrote:

    but what about the resurrection? all my life, all i hear about is the cross. in songs, sermons, imagery, life application,…

    This is a very good observation. Historically, Christians from the very beginning considered the the importance of the whole package of the incarnation: conception, birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension. But somehow the recent narrative has focused mostly on “Christ’s finished work on the cross” in many evangelical protestant “liturgies.” Not that what happened on the cross is not important, but it is only part of the truth of our salvation.

  86. elastigirl wrote:

    or they do know how to ride the bike but are afraid to let go of the bike that others are learning to ride.

    That’s because the gift of bike riding ceased…

  87. Nathan Priddis wrote:

    There is no correlation between Scriptures, and the above mentioned Angelogy.

    If one believed tradition regarding a Seraph as an angel of light, there is a reference to that phrase. However, it’s not a good phrase. Angel of Light, was used to describe Satan and his ministers.

    I think you are reading more into Seraph’s moniker than is there. In an earlier post I suggested to @Ken that he confused me with one of the several other Kens who regularly comment here. He explained that he changed his moniker to Seraph (burning one) because the name Ken comes from a Gaelic word for “born of fire.” This seems reasonable and humorous. As to whether or not the word Seraph has any relation to good angels, I suggest you read Isa 6:2 and Isa 6:6.

  88. elastigirl wrote:

    that was funny!

    But not nearly as funny as many of things that come from the mouths and pens of this new style of preachers…

  89. @ Jack:

    Oddly enough, Jack, your response is remarkably close to the pattern of response I’ve generally got from people I’d consider to be church-going atheists. On the one hand, they generally draw a sharp boundary between who is, and who is not, a Christian; and – forgive the mixed metaphor – that boundary usually sets the bar pretty low, and above it, anything goes. On the other hand, they generally express a certain disdain for, as you put it, the flash and bang of miracle and prophecy and the fantastic claims of others. Rather as though one can have either God working in a person’s life in a subtle and conveniently undisprovable way, or God showering a select few with favouritism and spiritual bling. And nothing else, or in between.

    Here’s the thing, though. Why on earth would anyone believe in the resurrection of Jesus? No-one alive today saw the tomb empty three days after the mutilated corpse of a crucified man was sealed in it, nor saw that same man eating fish, walking and talking among them over the following few weeks. To believe that is to believe the fantastic claims of others.

    This, too: among the core beliefs of Christianity, you missed a very important one out. Namely, life after death. To paraphrase one early Christian: if there’s no life after death, then we [he spoke for himself specifically] Christians, who willingly embrace beatings, poverty, hardships, and even torture and death, are the most pathetic bunch of losers on the face of the planet. If I really believe not only that Jesus did indeed rise up from a gruesome and incontrovertible death, but also that I will rise up from my own incontrovertible mortal end to be with him for eternity, is it so unreasonable to expect that there will be some testable consequences?

    As regards flash and bang: I’ve never personally flashed or banged, as it happens. I’ve been in large rooms full of people where a wave of manifestations has swept the assembly and nearly everyone has fallen to the ground. Not me. On rare occasions, I’ve been the only person who didn’t fall over. I’ve never heard God speak as a physically audible voice, nor been healed of anything. One or two people I’ve prayed for have, by coincidence, experienced immediate and permanent remission from a medical condition. They didn’t flash, bang or fall over either. But they did get well, and in such a way that they could immediately tell the difference.

    And that’s my point. I never claimed that God could only move in someone’s life by flashing and banging. But I do claim this much: God cannot move in a person’s life without doing anything. The claim simply has no meaning.

  90. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    In an earlier post I suggested to @Ken that he confused me with one of the several other Kens who regularly comment here.

    We have a number of Ken’s; indeed, there’s not much here that’s beyond our ken.

  91. @ JYJames:

    And it must not be tolerated in the Christian realm… These cowards kept their mouths shut until Den Hollander rose up and they all deserve to lose their standing…. Any of them who ever shut down the questioning public…. All these big name reformed types… They had their chance to stand up and they failed to do the right thing

  92. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    There are many forms of practical atheism – both liberal & conservative sects are filled with em and they diminish either word or power or both… hypercalvinists, hypergracers, christian-humanists, etc.

  93. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    If I really believe not only that Jesus did indeed rise up from a gruesome and incontrovertible death, but also that I will rise up from my own incontrovertible mortal end to be with him for eternity, is it so unreasonable to expect that there will be some testable consequences?

    Yes it is unreasonable. Hence, faith is the evidence of things not seen.

    Conversely, if there is no see-able evidence of testable consequences now, is it reasonable to conclude that the whole resurrection story is a fable in the absence of evidence and that it is unreasonable to believe stories from long ago of which there is no current see-able evidence now. It is unreasonable to assume that the resurrection stories are literal. One may conclude that the alleged witnesses did experience something, but it is not reasonable to make any further conclusions about what that was. (I am not making this us-this is freely argued by some.

    Hence to get past that one needs to reiterate that faith is the evidence of things not seen, be they then or now.

    It is not about reason. When Jesus insisted that He had come from the Father and that He and the Father were one-that was clearly unreasonable. Again, it is not about reason. If one sees then one does not require faith. If one believes, that is belief as a gift by the grace of God, then one goes beyond reason-of necessity since that is the only way to get past sight. One does not have to deny reason, but one does have to recognize the limits of reason.

    The whole story if foolishness to some and stumbling block to some but ‘to those who believe…..’ One believes in order to understand, not the other way around.

    Now if you want to say is it possible, are all thing possible, then yes. But if one must get there by reason, then no, we are not yet at that point.

  94. @ AJ:
    This fits with the @Nick Bulbeck points above.

    They really don’t believe that anything, including child abuse, can be that bad. And, they really don’t believe in putting it all on the line to be that good – stand up to it no matter what.

    Lukewarm. Meh… blah… Like how they label a skim decaf at Starbuck’s: “What’s the point?”

  95. elastigirl wrote:

    what about the resurrection? all my life, all i hear about is the cross. in songs, sermons, imagery, life application,…

    it’s one half of the event. if things stop at the cross, then God is dead and the best proof yet that this is silliest of all religions.

    to me, the resurrection is the key, defining part of the event. the part that changes everything — in the storyline, in theory, in practice…. in how it impacts my life this very day.

    Indeed, if we focus only on the Cross of Christ, without His resurrection, it is not the whole of the Gospel – the good news which leads to salvation. Without the resurrection life of Christ, we could not experience life in Him in the here and now. To me, a symbol of the Cross also implies His resurrection – we should display it in our churches and preach His sacrifice for us … but not leave Him on it … He has risen!!

  96. @ Max:

    “Without the resurrection life of Christ, we could not experience life in Him in the here and now.”
    ++++++++++++++

    Thank you, Max, for engaging. Since i’m still feeling tangential (the same tangent):

    What exactly is the resurrection life of Christ? What is life in Him in the here & now?

    i’m really longing to know. (I used to be able to answer that question…. but I’ve become disillusioned with what i thought i knew)

  97. okrapod wrote:

    Yes it is unreasonable. Hence, faith is the evidence of things not seen.

    Conversely, if there is no see-able evidence of testable consequences now, is it reasonable to conclude that the whole resurrection story is a fable in the absence of evidence and that it is unreasonable to believe stories from long ago of which there is no current see-able evidence now…

    Hence to get past that one needs to reiterate that faith is the evidence of things not seen, be they then or now.

    It is not about reason. When Jesus insisted that He had come from the Father and that He and the Father were one-that was clearly unreasonable. Again, it is not about reason. If one sees then one does not require faith. If one believes, that is belief as a gift by the grace of God, then one goes beyond reason-of necessity since that is the only way to get past sight. One does not have to deny reason, but one does have to recognize the limits of reason.

    The whole story if foolishness to some and stumbling block to some but ‘to those who believe…..’ One believes in order to understand, not the other way around.

    Now if you want to say is it possible, are all thing possible, then yes. But if one must get there by reason, then no, we are not yet at that point.

    Have you been reading Kierkegaard again, Okrapod?

  98. elastigirl wrote:

    What exactly is the resurrection life of Christ? What is life in Him in the here & now?

    i’m really longing to know. (I used to be able to answer that question…. but I’ve become disillusioned with what i thought i knew)

    For me it’s simply hope. Hope as opposed to certainty. And that for me is what faith is, nothing more or nothing less than hope.

    I hope for immortality beyond this life because this life is just too d@|\/|n short to realize my full human potential. Imagine all the good, cool, and incredible things to learn, do, and accomplish if not hampered by a body and a genome that wears out and dies.

    What’s the resurrection life In Christ in the here and now? I don’t think there really is a pat one-size-fitz-all answer for all. I can only speak for myself. For me, it’s simply doing the best I can do with the time and talent I’ve been given in this life so that the outward ripple effect generates good and not evil.

  99. okrapod:

    We’re talking waaaaay past one another here, I’m afraid. I’m sure part of the problem is the separate and hugely contradictory meanings of the word “reason” in play.

    When Jesus insisted that He had come from the Father and that He and the Father were one-that was clearly unreasonable.

    Why do you say that? It looks perfectly reasonable to me, given that Jesus did some pretty extraordinary things right in front of them. Now, obviously, it needed them to learn to think differently, and to see the world around them as much bigger, more complex, and more marvellous than they previously thought. But that’s not unreasonable; it’s nothing more than growing up.

    Now, had Jesus just been some crackpot walking around making wild and unsubstantiated claims, backed up only by excuses, it would be unreasonable to listen to him. If I claimed to be Jesus and that the Second Coming happened with my birth, would you receive my claim by faith?

    It’s perfectly true that we understand things only having first believed them worth pursuing – that is, it’s as true in matters of religious experience as it already is in matters of swimming, riding a bike, and software engineering. Nearly a thousand people gave their lives for Jim Jones, but that was neither reasonable nor a healthy exercise of faith; it was an indescribable tragedy. Thousands have given their lives for Jesus, however, in the first century and since. Somehow, [generic] we see that as different. There’s a reason for that. The risen, ascended Jesus can do things that Jim Jones never could.

  100. Law Prof wrote:

    Have you been reading Kierkegaard again, Okrapod?

    I have not read Kierkegaard at all, but I see I must check that out. But I feel sure that you do know that there is a fundamental difference in how lawyers think and how doctors think. The operative word is ‘how’. My father and I never made peace over it. My son and I almost got a divorce over it. My DIL and I realized from the beginning to avoid even any proximity to it. I can’t help it. That is all I can say. It has to do with probabilities and has to do with what constitutes ‘proof’ to what degree and at what point is one convinced. When young son was wanting to practice cross examination of medical persons in court he wanted to practice with me. I had only given expert witness twice so it was destined to be a disaster. And indeed-disaster. So, what can I say?

    Anyhow, I believe that science is dependent on reason/evidence but faith is from a different dimension as it were. For reasons that are not important to this discussion I read the gospel according to John straight through yesterday, as opposed to read a little/think a little as is my usual custom, and I was stunned at what I had missed about what was being said about Jesus. In that gospel Jesus just makes no sense at all a lot of the time, and answers questions as if he were stark raving mad. All the while the author reports conversations between his listeners which range from could this be the one because just look at his sign works to the other opinion of don’t be deceived because he makes no sense at all. I had totally missed that emphasis in John’s gospel.

    So who believed Him and who did not? Well, in His words it was those whom the Father gave Him who believed him. Oops. Well, ummm. Yes, well, let’s move on-that was my feeling. But one more miracle did not suffice to convince those who did not believe.

    So that is what I am trying to say. But I definitely will check out Kierkegaard. In college all I did in philosophy was three courses: history of (an overview), ethics, and philosophy of science. That is a disadvantage since my-son-the-lawyer did an undergrad major in ‘philosophy and religion’ which of course makes it necessary for us to limit our conversations to automotive vehicles and landscaping to maintain peace between us.

    In the meantime I googled K in wiki and it looks like a whole day’s reading just in that article. Looks interesting, thought. Thanks for the tip.

  101. @ okrapod:
    This an excellent back and forth… and does do a good job of highlighting how differently trained “professionals” can view “truth”, “faith” evidence, etc. I have had, and currently are involved as an expert witness in patent cases… and I also have a number of patents..
    The way lawyers and Judges (I.e. courts) view “truth” and how science does is not exactly the same and it is actually quite interesting… and then throw in very large amounts of $$$$ from very profitable pharmaceuticals, and “truth” can really change….

  102. AJ wrote:

    All these big name reformed types… They had their chance to stand up and they failed to do the right thing

    For The Cause, Comrades!

  103. Dave A A wrote:

    Shauna wrote:

    I will be having a sit down with our former pastor soon

    I hope that goes well, and trust you’ll have someone with you for support.

    And as a legal Witness.

  104. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    But I do claim this much: God cannot move in a person’s life without doing anything. The claim simply has no meaning.

    What if the thing God does in a person’s life is to fill them with love… for him and for others? What if God gives them hearts of true compassion, mercy, and grace to reach out to the hurting? Kind of like our blog queens… I see evidence of God moving in the way they care for the abused and fight for them.

  105. Nathan Priddis wrote:

    @ JYJames:
    Saraph made referance to being Orthodox. However, Church traditions are neither ancient, nor original. There is no correlation between Scriptures, and the above mentioned Angelogy.

    First of all, Seraph is no more an actual Seraph than I behead unicorns for real.

    Regarding Angelology (and its flip side Demonology), I’m not familiar with the EO version, but in the West it’s an example of “speculation mistaken for fact” over several generations. One generation speculated on Angels from the frankly-minimal Bible references; a generation or two later, their speculation was mistaken for Fact and used as the foundation for that generation’s speculation, which in a generation or two was mistaken for Fact and uses as…

    Result: This HUGE complex edifice of Spiritual FACT built on a very minimal foundation.

    (The Rosicrucians had a similar origin, except the original core FACT of their philosophical/alchymical/occultic speculation-turned-doctrine was a work of fiction, a parody of alchymical secret society mistaken for fact two-three generations later.)

    And in his Paradiso, Dante Aligheri wrote of an eminient theologian, a specialist in Angelology, who upon reaching Heaven found out all his theories about Angels were completely wrong. Of course, this being Heaven instead of Hell, he got a big laugh out of the situation instead of doubling down and screaming louder.

  106. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    I am not ignoring you, but I just don’t know what to say in addition to what I said to LawProf.

    Yes, we probably are talking past each other. I pretty much believe in spite of rather than because of, and I think that faith is a divine gift more than a choice. Sorry if that gets too close to some of the worst efforts of the neo-cals because I am not that. But, yes, I think that faith/believing is its own miracle. And no I don’t know what I mean by that exactly beyond the fact that for me the idea of believing and the experience of believing against all odds seems miraculous. I gather that you and I may perceive the odds differently, which means we could both be correct since to perceive something is subjective and personal.

  107. Steve240 wrote:

    One of the tenets of Calvinism is “total depravity” of man without Christ. Calvinism has this tenet based on Romans where it says there are none who do good etc. The claim is apart from Christ no one can do good.

    Which with the Calvinists who come under scrutiny here at TWW becomes a “More Depraved Than Thou” game of one-upmanship, a Race to the Bottom with Example after Example of such Depravity being acted out.

  108. Erp wrote:

    As an atheist I feel this is slanderous. They aren’t atheists; they worship a god of their own creation and one that mirrors what they are (at least among the leaders, among the followers many are worshiping their leaders’ god because of fear). Atheists are a mixed bag on how we treat our neighbors, but, please don’t assume that someone acting badly must be an atheist instead of a Christian.

    Unfortunately, in a lot of Christianese dialects “ATHEIST!” is the Denunciation of Denunciations, right up there with “HOMOSEXUAL!” Like the denunciation “COMMUNIST!” is to Fascists or “FASCIST!” is to Communists, a snarl word the mere utterance of which shuts down every neuron above the reptile brain and kicks off the Two Minutes Hate.

  109. AJ wrote:

    I’m tired of their books and their conferences. Give me a good local congregation.

    “I DON’T LIKE POPOFF PREACHERS!
    JUST GIVE ME SOME SOLID TEACHERS!”
    — Gene Scott (“Get on those Telephones!”), lyrics to a song of his during the Peter Popoff scandal

  110. Steve240 wrote:

    I wpould agree. I think they have found some way to rationalize this. I am sure it easier to do this when they are all in a group together rationalizing this.

    “SEE? EVERYBODY’S DOING IT! SEE? SEE? SEE?”

  111. elastigirl wrote:

    ….SGC leadership has no authority to mandate an investigation by an outside authority upon all of our churches. We are therefore unable to authorize an independent third-party investigation of SGC and its churches.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    But SGC leadership has authority to mandate other things upon all their churches. They wouldn’t be able to call them “our churches” otherwise.

    It takes a genuine snake to come up with such an excuse.

    Just like Calvary Chapel.

    Completely Independent “fellowships” when it was to Papa Chuck’s advantage to have no traceable central authority (such as when on the defensive), a Single Monolithic Denomination Steamroller following orders from Costa Mesa when that was to Papa Chuck’s advantage (like when on the attack)>.

  112. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Oddly enough, Jack, your response is remarkably close to the pattern of response I’ve generally got from people I’d consider to be church-going atheists. On the one hand, they generally draw a sharp boundary between who is, and who is not, a Christian; and – forgive the mixed metaphor – that boundary usually sets the bar pretty low, and above it, anything goes. On the other hand, they generally express a certain disdain for, as you put it, the flash and bang of miracle and prophecy and the fantastic claims of others. Rather as though one can have either God working in a person’s life in a subtle and conveniently undisprovable way, or God showering a select few with favouritism and spiritual bling. And nothing else, or in between.

    I think my problem is that I was trying to make a “Christian” point as an Ex-Christian. It’s no surprise I sound like a Christian atheist. I’m not Christian and haven’t been for some time though I was raised a Christian.

    I already had a discussion on God’s seeming favouritism when it comes to his spiritual gifts a couple of threads back. I can’t really engage on that further except to say I don’t get it and probably never will (both the spiritual gifts or why he speaks/heals/dances the watusi with some and not others).

    But I think charlatans have found fertile ground in this area. You can’t disprove what they say (unless they’re outed on national tv like the aforementioned Peter Popoff – who still manages to pull off a payday!) but you can’t prove it either.

    What I had hoped to convey was that whatever someone says, you can still say no and be a Christian. What we have seen is some awful cover ups under the umbrella of “spiritual authority”. We’ve seen cultic behaviours under the guise of “prophecy”. And people are regularly fleeced by the false hope of “miracle”.

    I get that Christians do not believe that death is the end but that’s not really the point. Getting there is and why some have lingering horrible deaths, or some children suffer terrible abuse before their demise while others don’t is something that is not understandable. Yay, they went to heaven! But geez, was the torture really necessary? (The Calvinists would say “absolutely!, God was glorified!’)

    I think I get your point on the hypocrisy of some Christians who define who is and is not Christian. Liturgical church goers look down on charismatics as winddings while charismatics look at liturgy as a dead faith. I heard both sides (I used to be Anglican and went to a pentecostal church for a while).

    For me the resurrection and the trinity seem to be what Christians have agreed as the foundations of Christianity. And I’m guessing why the whole ESS thing is a point of contention.

    If you believe those, you’re a Christian regardless whether you were dunked as baby or as an adult or whether you roll on the ground uproariously or quietly kneel.

  113. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    A colleauge of mine is a scholar on ancient near eastern studies with an emphasis on ancient Hebrew….. He said he would NEVER use “touch my anointed” the way these “preachers” do…. context and implications of that verse are nothing to “mess with”….. sigh..

  114. Jack wrote:

    I already had a discussion on God’s seeming favouritism when it comes to his spiritual gifts a couple of threads back. I can’t really engage on that further except to say I don’t get it and probably never will (both the spiritual gifts or why he speaks/heals/dances the watusi with some and not others).

    Jack, I’ve been in-country off-and-on for some 40 years now, and I don’t get it either.

    Using glossolalia (Speaking in Tongues, the popular Pentecostal spiritual gift) as an example, I’ve seen it done badly (my time in the Evangelical circus), seen it done well (Charismatic Mass at Azusa Newman Center in the early Eighties), and I don’t get it either. The only thing I’m sure of is I don’t do it myself.

    I get that Christians do not believe that death is the end but that’s not really the point. Getting there is and why some have lingering horrible deaths, or some children suffer terrible abuse before their demise while others don’t is something that is not understandable. Yay, they went to heaven! But geez, was the torture really necessary?

    i.e. The Problem of Pain (what really troubled Eagle during his time out of the loop)– I don’t think anyone’s come up with a satisfactory answer to that one.

    Though a LOT of Christians think they have. All I can say about that one is it’s always those who have NEVER been there who are first in-your-face with glib spiritual advice for those who ARE. And the Book of Job showed that one with Job’s counselors how many millennia ago?

  115. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    A colleauge of mine is a scholar on ancient near eastern studies with an emphasis on ancient Hebrew….. He said he would NEVER use “touch my anointed” the way these “preachers” do…. context and implications of that verse are nothing to “mess with”….. sigh..

    Something like “God Said Unto Me…”, “Touch Not Mine Anointed” should be spoken only with the same forethought as “Please Castrate Me”?

  116. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I’ve never heard God speak as a physically audible voice, nor been healed of anything. One or two people I’ve prayed for have, by coincidence, experienced immediate and permanent remission from a medical condition. They didn’t flash, bang or fall over either. But they did get well, and in such a way that they could immediately tell the difference.

    And that’s my point. I never claimed that God could only move in someone’s life by flashing and banging. But I do claim this much: God cannot move in a person’s life without doing anything. The claim simply has no meaning

    And this coincides with the experience of a majority of Christians. Is it prayer or is it Memorex? I don’t know. If God’s moving in my circle, he’s pretty quiet about it.

    But there’s a lot of pressure in some groups to accept many fantastic claims a face value or even the idea that some are ordained to have power over others. This can happen in secular society with horrible bosses and such but when your eternal soul is thrown into the mix then many will just take Pascal’s wager and give money to that there missionary whose raising the dead in India.

    And this is exacerbated in closed communities where your family life, your marriage and all your friendships and social contacts depend on you going along. Highpoint Church standing ovation comes to mind.

  117. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Though a LOT of Christians think they have. All I can say about that one is it’s always those who have NEVER been there who are first in-your-face with glib spiritual advice for those who ARE. And the Book of Job showed that one with Job’s counselors how many millennia ago?

    This is why it is so important to maintain freedom of thought, whatever your faith community. I’m also a firm believer that life should maintain activities outside that faith community as well as within.

    A good friend of mine is transitioning out of the church she attended for a long time. No abuse just didn’t feel at home there anymore. But having friendships outside the church has really helped her.

  118. elastigirl wrote:

    What exactly is the resurrection life of Christ? What is life in Him in the here & now?

    For me, the answers to those questions are framed in Galatians 2:20:

    “I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

  119. Jack wrote:

    But geez, was the torture really necessary? (The Calvinists would say “absolutely!, God was glorified!’)

    This really is the crux of it (no pun intended). I completely reject the Calvinist view about it being about glory. My hope is that in the end God will put all things right in a way that makes sense. For now, I don’t believe there are any airtight and satisfactory answers for the problem of suffering within any religious system (including atheism). I suppose this is where faith comes into play (even for the atheist).

  120. Jack wrote:

    A good friend of mine is transitioning out of the church she attended for a long time. No abuse just didn’t feel at home there anymore. But having friendships outside the church has really helped her.

    Which is why abusive not-a-real-cults demand Total Commitment 24/7/365, with NO friendships or links or ANY contact whatsoever among “Those Heathens”. It’s one of the BIG red warning flags that this group is DANGEROUS.

    What was able to pull me out of that Not-a-Cult I was mixed up in during the mid-Seventies (and were trying to get me to “come out from among the Heathen and move into their compound — yes, compound) was I had discovered Dungeons & Dragons and had made OUTSIDE contacts with SF fans & gamers. I had a support/social system other than Family or Christian Fellowship(TM).

  121. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    What was able to pull me out of that Not-a-Cult I was mixed up in during the mid-Seventies (and were trying to get me to “come out from among the Heathen and move into their compound — yes, compound) was I had discovered Dungeons & Dragons and had made OUTSIDE contacts with SF fans & gamers. I had a support/social system other than Family or Christian Fellowship(TM).

    I’ve found sf fans & gamers among the most open minded people. Although the not-a-cult pattern can occur there too. I knew a Klingon who was “excommunicated” for dating a Starfleet officer.
    It helps to keep your friends & acquaintances eclectic.
    I’ve read some books on cults and know friends of friends that have been sucked in. The “University Bible Fellowship” was big in the late 80s early 90s here. I wanted to check them out but a buddy of mine said don’t mess with them. However strong you think you are, you’re no match for that bunch.

  122. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    For now, I don’t believe there are any airtight and satisfactory answers for the problem of suffering within any religious system (including atheism). I suppose this is where faith comes into play (even for the atheist).

    Both yourself & HUG have made a great point out of this. It’s ok to say “I don’t know” & “I don’t get it”. The world is not as binary as some religions would have us believe. Making a statement like that in some groups would get you on the pastors watch list.

  123. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Jack wrote:

    A good friend of mine is transitioning out of the church she attended for a long time. No abuse just didn’t feel at home there anymore. But having friendships outside the church has really helped her.

    Which is why abusive not-a-real-cults demand Total Commitment 24/7/365, with NO friendships or links or ANY contact whatsoever among “Those Heathens”. It’s one of the BIG red warning flags that this group is DANGEROUS.

    That is something people need to realize what makes people likely to stay in a cult or cult like group is that all their “friendships” are with people in the cult. I am sure that is why a lot of people were reluctant to leave Covenant Life Church and other Sovereign Grace Churches. Covenant Life is no longer pat of Sovereign Grace but still retains many of their characteristics or so I have heard.

    One suggestion I have heard is that if you are contemplating leaving a group like Sovereign Grace you start to develop friendships outside of the group. This makes leaving a lot easier.

    One affect that keeping people busy with various meetings etc. has it leaves little time for people to think. Thus when cult or cult like groups keep people so busy they have time to think and decide if involvement in and the actions of this group what they want and even make sense. Whether this business is by design or just a trait of cult or cult like groups hard to say.

  124. okrapod wrote:

    I have not read Kierkegaard at all, but I see I must check that out…

    In the meantime I googled K in wiki and it looks like a whole day’s reading just in that article. Looks interesting, thought. Thanks for the tip.

    Just seems to me that the two of you arrived independently at the same conclusions. Almost sounded like you were quoting him.

    By the way, Jesus does sound crazy sometimes. Of course, the truth usually sounds crazy to people who scarcely know their right from their left—like me.

  125. Steve240 wrote:

    One affect that keeping people busy with various meetings etc. has it leaves little time for people to think. Thus when cult or cult like groups keep people so busy they have time to think and decide if involvement in and the actions of this group what they want and even make sense. Whether this business is by design or just a trait of cult or cult like groups hard to say.

    You isolate people and exhaust them, they’re easier to brainwash that way. And even the ones who aren’t easily brainwashed will count the cost of loss of “friendships” (at least what they think is a friendship) and shunning of the community and be unlikely to leave, coming up with all manner of rationalizations to justify their terrible behavior of keeping their families in an abusive, demonic environment: “Have to bloom where you’re planted…Light in the darkness…All our friends are here, that’s fellowship of a sort…Pastor’s just quirky, I’m sure he means well…And nobody’s perfect…Don’t look for the perfect church, if you join it, it won’t be perfect anymore—hardy har!”

    It’s just Cult 101. I don’t think most cult leaders and enablers sit down in a room and rub their hands together and laugh malevolently and say to each other “How can we thoroughly destroy people, ruining their family relationships, crippling their relationships with God, and ensuring that any children they have will either grow up gullible, emotionally shallow fools or hardened atheists who think Jesus is a myth?

    I personally think it’s the design of the devil himself and certain foolish and self-obsessed people easily fall into the trap and devise systems like this without realizing they’re literally becoming tools for demons. I mean that literally, not metaphorically.

  126. Law Prof wrote:

    I personally think it’s the design of the devil himself and certain foolish and self-obsessed people easily fall into the trap and devise systems like this without realizing they’re literally becoming tools for demons. I mean that literally, not metaphorically.

    Yes, I think so too. Literally.

  127. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    One or two people I’ve prayed for have, by coincidence, experienced immediate and permanent remission from a medical condition. They didn’t flash, bang or fall over either. But they did get well, and in such a way that they could immediately tell the difference.

    No flash bang here, but:

    In 1982 (at age 18) I had an automobile accident – left side of my skull was crushed and there were two fractures at the base of my skull. Doctor warned my family not to get hopes up – I might never come out of the coma, and if I did, there was a long, laundry list of things that could be wrong with me. The only promise was that I would live.
    I was in the coma for a mere 32 hours. When I came out of it, I told the nurse that I had a headache, and I demanded two aspirin and a ride home. Six months later, I enrolled in college and went on to get a degree in mathematics.

    In 2009, I had a stroke in the left temporal side of my brain – same area as the trauma from the wreck. Two neurologists can’t explain why I am still walking and talking and driving a straight shift car, etc.

  128. Nathan Priddis wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Oh ye of little imagination. This is what happens when you dont get enough Bob Larson in your life.

    Know where I first heard of Bob Larson?

    Kooks Magazine.
    An article about Rock & Roll = SATAN which described him as “Jack Chick’s Anti-Rock Music Hatchetman”.

  129. Steve240 wrote:

    One suggestion I have heard is that if you are contemplating leaving a group like Sovereign Grace you start to develop friendships outside of the group. This makes leaving a lot easier.

    Which is why these groups are heavily into “Separation from HEATHEN Contamination” and often full of “Just like fill-in-the-blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” sub-groups and activities with in the group. So you can go from Sinner’s Prayer to Homegoing without EVER having to interact with anyone outside the group.

    One affect that keeping people busy with various meetings etc. has it leaves little time for people to think. Thus when cult or cult like groups keep people so busy they have time to think and decide if involvement in and the actions of this group what they want and even make sense. Whether this business is by design or just a trait of cult or cult like groups hard to say.

    On the “just a trait” side, there’s probably a One-Upmanship game in play:
    “More Committed and On-Fire Than Thou”.
    Remember “Teen Mania”, “Acquire The Fire”, et al?

  130. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I don’t think anyone’s come up with a satisfactory answer to that one.

    Other than life’s great big roulette wheel (win some, lose some, good and bad $#it happens to the good, the bad, and the ugly alike)) and Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. They seem to make the most sense (my opinion).

  131. The “Fab Four” at Together for the Gospel (= Together for Calvinism) surely formed a blood pact when they founded T$G. There doesn’t appear to be anything that can shake Mahaney loose from Mohler, Dever, and Duncan. Within SBC, Mohler is untouchable – if the denomination didn’t correct him for leading a New Calvinist rebellion within its ranks, they won’t call him to account for hanging out with Mahaney and SGM.

  132. Law Prof wrote:

    It’s just Cult 101. I don’t think most cult leaders and enablers sit down in a room and rub their hands together and laugh malevolently and say to each other “How can we thoroughly destroy people, ruining their family relationships, crippling their relationships with God, and ensuring that any children they have will either grow up gullible, emotionally shallow fools or hardened atheists who think Jesus is a myth?

    I personally think it’s the design of the devil himself and certain foolish and self-obsessed people easily fall into the trap and devise systems like this without realizing they’re literally becoming tools for demons. I mean that literally, not metaphorically.

    I am sure the Devil is a significant factor.

    I imagine a lot of this is also arrogance that develops over time where you have men that maybe originally had noble motives etc. get egos and become hardened. When maybe they use to be humble and listen to the voice and even correction of God they become callous to their original call (if that we ever even there).

    Also if the group is quite insular where the leader attracts leaders “below” them that are more “yes men” then the leader never hears the correction that the leader needs to hear.

  133. @ Jack:

    “It helps to keep your friends & acquaintances eclectic.”
    +++++++++++++

    oh, my, yes.

    i think faith groups naturally erode common sense. if faith itself is the evidence of things you can’t see or monitor, and if faith in ultimate spirituality versus carnal means everything (to the pursuit, to the group), then common sense is the enemy.

    having detoxed from church culture, what has been so striking is how balanced people are outside of the church bubble. They are more relaxed — not lax, but peaceful and less stressed.

    What makes it striking is how the church markets itself as having the answers to “How To Do Life”. how to have the best marriage (indeed, the right kind of marriage), how to be a man, how to be a woman, how to parent, how not to be insecure, how to lead, how to follow, how to be curious….

    blimey, just listing all that out…. all these instructions and rules… like, the world’s most overthought & contortioned golf swing. One’s golf game will be hindered by such nonsense.

    anyone, maintaining links to sanity outside the org help keep one’s common sense intact.

  134. i mean, “anyway, maintaining links to sanity outside the org help keep one’s common sense intact.”

  135. Thank you, Muff and Max, for your thoughts.

    Still looking for the practical angle of things. How the reality behind the tag line of “Christ’s death and resurrection” impact the living of my day today and tomorrow.

  136. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    In my 30-odd years of being around churches, I’ve noticed that for a proportion of church-lovers, “God” is just like that magician in my dream……………They expect nothing of God that they themselves, or the ordinary circumstances of life (random or otherwise), could not deliver. They discover God’s will only after the fact – IOW, they pray, and if nothing happens that even they can cherry-pick for positive outcomes, they’ll declare that “it wasn’t God’s will” or that “the answer was no“. But God never tells them “no” while they’re praying. Indeed, he never speaks directly to them at all.

    Moreover, I’ve experienced church-lovers become very hostile and antagonistic when faced with testimonies of God doing something that they couldn’t have done, or speaking something they couldn’t have known, as though God actually had real and separate existence. They really don’t like the idea that we can hear God speak and know his will directly, independently of rolling the proverbial dice and seeing what happens. Their God cannot do anything they themselves couldn’t do because he is a figment of their imaginations.

    Nick,

    This is such an important point. What you described is very common in the church today. Many people of faith want to believe that God’s will is unknowable. Something so mysterious that we’ll never figure it out. Because as long as we can’t ever figure out the will of God—then we don’t have to do anything. That leads to the belief that whatever needs to be done–will automatically happen regardless of what we do. We want God to be responsible for doing whatever needs to be done in the world.

    Then that belief goes in the direction of thinking that anything that happens to us was somehow part of God’s mysterious will. What comes next is getting frustrated when God doesn’t act like a magician and just wave a magic wand to make whatever is supposed to happen, just automatically happen. God gets blamed for people’s choices.

    It’s harder to understand that we have the ability to make good things happen in our lives. That we have a responsibility to “make good use of every opportunity you have…..”
    Eph 5:16(GNT)

    That we actually can “understand what the Lord’s will is.”
    Eph 5:17 (NIV)

    That even when other people’s bad choices affect our lives, we still have a way out.

  137. elastigirl wrote:

    Still looking for the practical angle of things. How the reality behind the tag line of “Christ’s death and resurrection” impact the living of my day today and tomorrow.

    How do you define ‘practical’? If you mean how does life in Christ make one’s life easier, well, it does not do that-at all. It is not designed to do that, and Jesus was very clear about that. It makes life more challenging in fact. If you are looking for less stress, more relaxed and more peaceful, I am not being flippant, but sometimes people can find a semblance at that at the pharmacy on prescription.

  138. elastigirl wrote:

    Still looking for the practical angle of things. How the reality behind the tag line of “Christ’s death and resurrection” impact the living of my day today and tomorrow.

    I was singing the following hymn this morning as I began my day – perhaps it will help:

    God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
    He came to love, heal and forgive
    He lived and died to buy my pardon
    An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives

    Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
    Because He lives, all fear is gone
    Because I know He holds the future
    And life is worth the living, just because He lives

  139. @ okrapod:

    do you honestly think what i’m after is using God for a cush life?

    i mean practical, just like i said.

    practical in how it impacts my ability to live my life well.

    I, like everyone, desire to be responsible, disciplined, productive, grow in patience, grow in skills and talent, put skills and talent to good use,…

    to do well at whatever it is i’m doing (learning, planning ahead, serving, helping, giving, parenting, volunteering, running my business, interacting with people, sleeping, cooking, driving, planning Thanksgiving Day, preparing for and hosting Thanksgiving,…)

    in the big picture, to leave the earth a healthier, more healed, happier, cleaner, more equitable place because i was here.

    surely for the ultimate spiritually cosmic or cosmically spiritual event to have taken place (as described and understood in the bible), my every day must be impacted by it. my ability to live my life well must be impacted by it.

    there are plenty of verses that allude to such things (fruit of the spirit, more than conquerors, the availability of wisdom, strength to the weary, many more)

    i’m wanting to explore & understand the practical side of making these things operative in my life. regardless of what i’m doing (on the scale of a family vacation to martyrdom).

  140. @ Max:

    That’s beautiful, Max. I remember that song.

    But i’m frustrated.

    “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow” – i can? how? why?

    “Because He lives, all fear is gone” — it is? how? why?

    All my life, my questions are treated with the stuff of song lyrics. I so appreciate your engagement, Max. I’m wanting to explore the significance of it all. the practical side of it. the so what?

  141. Max wrote:

    Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

    Max, thank you for quoting these lines. Friday (Mar 30) will the first anniversary of my wife’s passing. We sang this hymn as the conclusion of her memorial service.

  142. @ OldJohnJ:
    OldJohn, I could have tagged by comment name as OldMax. Perhaps your journey with Christ has been a long one, like mine. Along the way, I’ve come to realize that my hope in this world and the next is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. It’s Christ in us – the hope of glory. I’m glad you found comfort in the words of that hymn as you approach the anniversary of your wife’s passing.

  143. elastigirl wrote:

    I’m wanting to explore the significance of it all. the practical side of it. the so what?

    Elastigirl, your questions about “practical faith” are tough to answer across the cyber-miles. I’ll make an attempt. It’s been said that if Christianity is not practical, it is not Christianity. While I have attempted to develop a “spiritual” walk of faith through Bible study and prayer, I know that my faith must also be lived out in a practical way. Jesus set an example for us – He spent His ministry being a neighbor to those in need – “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). There are social aspects to faith that we should not neglect. If my faith is “right”, my behavior will be right and the way I treat others will be right. I know that my salvation is “not of works” but “unto good works.” A lot of church folks struggle with that.

    Eons ago, some corners of Christendom used to talk about “Sonship”, emphasizing that we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-29) and that, as His Sons, we need to act like it! When Scripture says that “as He is, so are we to be in ‘this’ world” (1 John 4:17), I think that means we need to exercise “Practical Sonship” in our daily walk. Christlikeness should be our mantle. It’s overworked, but “What Would Jesus Do?” should loom before us as we face and consider a practical extension of ourselves in our endeavors in this world.

    “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you lonely and make you welcome, or see you naked and clothe you, or see you ill or in prison and go to see you? … And the king will reply, ‘I assure you that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:31-46)

  144. elastigirl wrote:

    i think faith groups naturally erode common sense. if faith itself is the evidence of things you can’t see or monitor, and if faith in ultimate spirituality versus carnal means everything (to the pursuit, to the group), then common sense is the enemy.

    That’s what I refer to as “Holy Nincompoop Syndrome”, where the dumber and more senseless you are, the Godlier you must be. Spirituality and Sense in a zero-sum game. Christian Monist used to have some horror stories along those lines.

  145. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    ION: Signs on the earth

    A large crack has opened up in the famous Rift Valley in Kenya, as reported here on the BBC.

    Ungodly “scientists” have speculated that the crack could be due to tectonic activity, with the soil movement boosted by recent heavy rain. But like all “science”, this is only a theory.

    Thankfully, a spokesman for the Bible cut through the confusion and declared the truth: the crack is due to creation groaning because of egalitarians.

    I actually thought it was a crack opening for the modern-day equivalents of Korah and his followers to fall into.

  146. The church as the “least safe place” to talk about abuse?:

    “Recently in light of the #MeToo movement, Jules Woodson came forward in a blog post disclosing her story of being sexually abused by Pastor Andy Savage in 1998. Shortly after posting, Woodson was threatened and bullied for sharing her testimony, while Savage received a standing ovation at his church when he aired his confession. This type of assumed holiness in men and posture of silencing and shaming women is the natural result of a church held up and fueled by pillars of patriarchy and the resulting toxic masculinity.”

    “Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, one of the survivors of Larry Nasser’s sexual abuse, recently said that the church was one of the least safe spaces for her to talk about what what happened to her.”

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-miller-patriarchy-church_us_5ab797a0e4b008c9e5f83c77

  147. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    As a practicing scientist, I have had “some” christains look at me ( consider me) as one with less “faith” because I tried to veiw the world mechanistically/rationally…. this is especially true when it comes to human health…..
    but, most people are fine with being mechanistic when it comes to their daily, routine life… for example, they do not think it is a “miracle” that with the simple pushing on the brake petal ( even without power brakes) they can stop a 4,000 lb car going 70 miles/hr…

  148. @ Max:

    “It’s been said that if Christianity is not practical, it is not Christianity. While I have attempted to develop a “spiritual” walk of faith through Bible study and prayer, I know that my faith must also be lived out in a practical way. Jesus set an example for us – He spent His ministry being a neighbor to those in need”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    That’s great, Max. I agree.

    in the doing of such things —

    (as well as in the doing of more tasky things, relationship things, & professional things — like laundry, cooking, friendship, family, writing novels, composing music, dance performance, doing taxes, teaching high school math, performing brain surgery, discovering the cures for diseases) —

    how does the resurrection impact such things? how does the holy spirit impact such things?

    surely the middle wall of separation being ripped in two has great impact on everything we do, on all creation.

    from Colossians 1:
    “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,

    i don’t see being strengthened with all power acc. to his glorious might as being limited to the application of “good deeds” or “ministry things” (i’m lacking a better terms at the moment), nor limited to the purpose of great endurance and patience.

    i think this energizing-ness described here applies to everything we do in our daily life.

    i’m really interested in understanding all that “I am the vine, you are the branches, he and she who abide in me will bear much fruit” means.

    to clarify, for the purposes of living well so as to leave the earth better than when i arrived.

    if i were a scientist, it would be for the purpose of discovering things that relieve human suffering. but i’m a creative person instead, a musician, so it is for the purpose of making music that changes things (the environment, living things…)

    i also wear many other hats, including very mundane ones. i want to do well there, too. i want to be superme — i can only imagine how that sounds.

    considering that the word “power” of the holy spirit is dunamis (explosive, dynamite),…. well, it should mean something. it should leave theory in the dust & be demonstrable in practice.

    i mean, what’s the point of talking about the power of the holy spirit but it stays a nice idea?

  149. elastigirl wrote:

    to clarify, for the purposes of living well so as to leave the earth better than when i arrived.

    To me, this is the essence of living out Jesus’ resurrection.
    And if you (generic you) are doing this, you are doing all that is expected of you in this life.

    One of our Nation’s founders had this to say, and I think you’ve encapsulated it well:

    I am weary of contemplating nations from the lowest and
    most beastly degradations of human Life, to the highest
    Refinements of Civilization: I am weary of Philosophers,
    Theologians, Politicians, and Historians. They are immense
    Masses of Absurdities, Vices and Lies. Montesquieu had
    sense enough to say in Jest, that all our Knowledge might be
    comprehended in twelve Pages in Duodecimo: and, I believe
    him, in earnest. I could express my Faith in shorter terms.
    He who loves the Workman and his Work, and who does what he
    can to improve it, shall be accepted of him.

    — John Adams —

  150. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Max:

    That’s beautiful, Max. I remember that song.

    But i’m frustrated.

    “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow” – i can? how? why?

    “Because He lives, all fear is gone” — it is? how? why?

    All my life, my questions are treated with the stuff of song lyrics. I so appreciate your engagement, Max. I’m wanting to explore the significance of it all. the practical side of it. the so what?

    I don’t think its a one size fits all formula. Example: What is practical Christianity for a non working suburban mom might look very different for a poor working single mom. One is looking to survive another day, the other isn’t. One rarely has time to ponder such things while the other does.

    I once had similar questions as you when I left the mega world. I cam across JC Ryle’s book, Practical Religion. (Sounds horrible but written a long time ago). And it was very “practical”. Pray, take communion, attend church, study the bible, be a good neighbor, etc.

    This makes the church people very angry but I decided after a while that my approach to it has to be mine and is individual– not group consensus. That doesn’t mean I can’t worship with a group. Quite often there are many things one just overlooks. But in the end– on the inevitable deathbed– its just me and Him.

  151. elastigirl wrote:

    he sure had a way with words. why don’t we, any of us billions today, write like that?

    Adams was a product of his times. Literary appreciation is a purely subjective thing. The old greats of last century (Steinbeck, Michener, Uris, the list is long…) were all master word smiths in their own right.
    At present, and in my own subjective assessment, Dean Koontz is among the best with words as his tubes of color, and the blank screen as his canvas.
    The highbrow crowd would never agree, much less, give him the time of day.

  152. @ Lydia:

    Thanks for the input. This is what i’m wondering about:

    “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit [a]of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

    Jesus in me, Holy Spirit power in/on me, strengthened with all might according to his glorious power…

    in whatever i’m doing, be it job-related, family-related, friend-related, domestic-related, altruism-related…

    On my own, I can do x, y, z pretty well, and a, b, c not so well.

    If Jesus is in me, if the stuff of the Holy Spirit is like dynamite and the Holy Spirit is in/on/with me, seems to me i could do all these things more effectively by many degrees.

    i don’t mean for this to sound like sport, or experiment or hobby (“let’s see what we can get holy spirit to do, here” — even typing that out bothers me so much)

    i suppose i’m wondering why so many problems on earth remain unfixed, unsolved, unrelieved.

    there will always be problems, of course. but i have to think that the resources of all might and glorious power on a God-scale are very much untapped. That the vessels in whom God resides are largely under-utilizing this resource.

    if i were a scientist how could God use me and lead me to find cures for diseases? to find better solutions for famine? etc

    we all have impact and influence regardless of our occupation. we all change the world and participate in solving problems for others.

    i can’t help but think that we all are under-utilizing powerful resources God has made available.

    “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1)

    Surely this means something extraordinary.

    (yeah, i plucked this verse out of the letter, but it seems to me like it’s more or less a fact… aaaahhh, no more time to unravel my thoughts — gotta go…)

  153. elastigirl wrote:

    i can’t help but think that we all are under-utilizing powerful resources God has made available

    No doubt about it! I believe that we, as Christians, are living far below the privileges available to us … but we don’t appropriate what we need because we don’t live as we ought, we don’t obey as we ought, we don’t pray as we ought, we don’t love as we ought. In my long journey as a believer, I have caught only occasional glimpses of His power.

  154. @ Max:

    i think conventional christian thinking separates out, to a fault, spirit / flesh, in church / in the world, us / them, ministry / secular.

    i think church culture defaults into demanding all one’s resources for itself, and christians assume church is where one’s resources belong.

    i disagree.

  155. @ Muff Potter:

    Wilbur Smith is a great wordsmith as well. His books have sent me… i’ve been all over the world, back in time, exotic adventures galore through his books.

  156. elastigirl wrote:

    we all have impact and influence regardless of our occupation. we all change the world and participate in solving problems for others.

    I very much disagree with this. It’s one of the things I have seen change in my lifetime that has been the most disappointing. What influences has changed drastically and we are rapidly losing the value of the individual over the group. For that power to be tapped thinking has to change.

  157. @ Lydia:

    i’m sure it’s true that in society the value of the individual is losing out to that of the group — although this subject is not something i keep tabs on.

    When I wrote “we all have impact and influence regardless of our occupation. we all change the world and participate in solving problems for others”, I was thinking on the small scale, person to person. Between co-workers, neighbors, friends, fellow Wal-Mart shoppers, teacher & student…

    The individual does have power. I watched “This Emotional Life”, a documentary on happiness hosted by Dan Gilbert. I found it most interesting.

    Harvard researchers tried to track happiness (or joy, positive outlook, can’t remember exactly). I’m going from sketchy memory here, but they found that one positive interaction between people (a friendly conversation with someone; a brief conversation about good news in someone’s life; etc) had a positive impact on 3 generations of individuals.

    The person who heard the good report (naturally explained with hope, joy) was impacted in a positive way so much so that it changed their thinking and behavior to some degree. They then passed this on to another individual by whatever interaction they had. That other individual was impacted as well, and they passed it on to yet another individual. all these individuals were buoyed by hope, joy (to put it in my own words). it gave them courage and determination.

    If our interactions, our pursuits are joined with God’s power as God and we partner together, well, it just seems to me that goodness / benefit would be an exponential thing.

    Maybe not enough to turn the big ship of society around, but changed lives nonetheless — little things, bigger things.

    perhaps there’s a point of critical mass of changed lives where it will move the ship of society some.

    As far as that cure for cancer, parkinsons, ms, altzheimers, and other horrible diseases, i’ve speculated that cures have already been found, and powerbrokers have prevented them from entering the mainstream.

    but i do believe that “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” can have its way with such forces.

    i’m not sure which powerbrokers are at issue here (lobbyists, politicians, ceo’s, government officials), but those in such positions who know God, in whom God/Jesus/Holy Spirit live, have His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead operating in them.

    This is the epicenter of what I mean by resurrection and holy spirit power being practical.

  158. @ Lydia:
    I kind of agree with this up to a point. I do believe we as individual believers can influence others to the good via one on one interaction. However, this has in my lifetime become exponentially more difficult due to things like PC Group Think, i.e. the group becomes more important than the individual and you darn well better think like us or you’re in big trouble. To quote a Neville Brothers song: “Freedom of speech – as long as you don’t say too much.”

  159. @ elastigirl:

    “we all have impact and influence regardless of our occupation. we all change the world and participate in solving problems for others.”

    I think the fact that a working poor single mom survived another week, as one example, is a positive impact on society. What I don’t want to become is a new Puritan judging how harmless decent people should behave and speak.

    I think “truth” has a great impact. And that includes negative truths. There is, of course, a balance. I have been around the “positive only” groups in workplaces and churches and it’s a disaster. One has to acknowledge a problem exists in order to solve it. I don’t do totalitarian niceness. The scientist trying to cure cancer cannot ignore the horrible ravages of the disease when seeking a cure.

    And our society can’t even agree on truth.

    For my part, I believe the resurrection denotes the possibility of New Life. God’s intention for His creation. But it’s a choice.

  160. Lydia wrote:

    I believe the resurrection denotes the possibility of New Life.

    Yes, a possibility but not a positively.

    Lydia wrote:

    it’s a choice

    Indeed. Scripture is clear about that, regardless of how some theologies try to spin it. Don’t put your trust in the teachings of men about this … choose life.

  161. @ Lydia:

    I suppose the conclusions one eventually forms in exploring what/why/how in relation to “God” are just a step away from a new mini-religion. but rules & mandates are the last thing i’m interested in. .

    i agree, society benefits when its members persevere, are courageous. i agree, too, that negative truth must be faced. i can tolerate totalitarian niceness as much as i can expired fish

    to reframe my quest, it is to explore the God-provided spiritual resources that accompany New Life.

  162. elastigirl wrote:

    to reframe my quest, it is to explore the God-provided spiritual resources that accompany New Life

    An interesting journey to embark on! Somewhere along the line – in the last 2,000 years – the church lost its ability to “access” spiritual resources that were meant to accompany new life in Christ. An individual, rather than an institutional, quest of this nature would prove more fruitful. There is not enough spiritual power in the average American church to blow the dust off a peanut.

  163. @ Max:

    “An individual, rather than an institutional, quest of this nature would prove more fruitful. There is not enough spiritual power in the average American church to blow the dust off a peanut.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    this quest would either scare the pants off church leaders & they’d back away making the cross with their pointer fingers;

    or else if they saw the potential of it, they would co-opt it for their own purposes, managing the living daylights out of it til it resembled a dried up anchovy.

    i can foresee the holy spirit recoiling and lifting away, vacating the scene, equal parts wounded, deeply disappointed, appalled

    i’m very happy pursuing my quest on my own — with feedback such as i get here. thank you max, for your graciousness.

  164. @ Jack:

    I’ve missed a few posts here as I’ve been busy at work, so apologies for that. I have to say that I continue to appreciate your comments here.

    I don’t know if you’ve come across “God’s Smuggler” – the autobiography of Andrew Bijl, a Dutch missionary who carried bibles behind the iron curtain to the underground churches under communism in eastern Europe. There’s a snippet from early on, when he was studying at missionary college in – of all places – Glasgow that resonates a great deal with me:

    If I were going to give my life as a servant of the King, I had to know that King… could I trust Him as a living leader, as a very present commander in battle? … if He were a King in name only, I would rather go back to [secular employment]. I would remain a Christian, but I would know that my religion was only a set of principles, excellent and to be followed, but hardly demanding devotion.

    Suppose on the other hand that I were to discover God to be a Person, in the sense that He communicated and cared and loved and led. That was something quite different. That was the kind of King I would follow into any battle.

    Bijl did indeed go into situations of great physical danger, in which if God let him down once it would all be over. He faced immediate arrest and brutal, indefinite imprisonment. If he heard God speak, then he damn well needed to hear accurately and in detail, and he couldn’t afford to follow a God whose every action and “answer” to prayer was in some ineffable mysterious sense that no human could understand.

    My experience has been very different. I haven’t taken the same road as Andrew Bijl, but I did risk a very great deal, and it all came to nothing. Now, at nearly 50, I’ve been forced to take entry-level work that cannot anywhere near provide for my family and my children risk losing their education and their futures (and Lesley her retirement) because of my disastrous choices to follow “God”.

    I consider myself a non-churchgoing agnostic. Agnostic, because although I once thought I knew God, I certainly don’t now; and non-churchgoing because one thing I am certain of is that I will find no answers among Christians.

  165. That original CT story on the YRR trend was written by … wait for it … Collin Hansen, now editorial director of TGC!
    Oy.
    Happy Easter to all who are celebrating.

  166. MM wrote:

    I am mystified by Mahaney’s popularity to date. He is poorly educated. He has an enormous ego – his statements on humility are anything but a reflection of sincere humility. And what is with this pastor athlete business. I competed at a high level in NCAA Division 1 (on scholarship) and I would not refer to myself today as an athlete. Really, this poser was the sandlot king and all are supposed to kiss his feet as a pastor athlete? And the homeschooling, isolationist, culture? How does that help someone cope with the real world out there? And the limited role and intolerant treatment of women, eclipsing talent for women and happiness for both men and women with their 17th century views on dating? I have met some young men from his church. It was unreal. Very little ambition to be independent, stuck in an isolated cocoon, with no skills how to have relationships with young women, especially ones with focus and ambition. They could phonily love bomb others, however, or so it seemed. Little wonder in such an isolated, manipulative, anti-intellectual environment male sex offenders could hide and even flourish. Can someone explain the attraction to this Mahaney guy?

    I thought I’d chime in here and address MM’s mysticism, and the mysticism surrounding CJ Mahaney. How, one wonders, was someone able to entrench themselves so effectively for decades?

    Perhaps some people are still mystified. But what seems obscure or remote from human comprehension is, really, quite clearly explained. It should be apparent that CJ Mahaney is, in fact, a false brother. The signs are all there, pointing to an individual who, for many years, hid his true identity and motivations, enabled and supported by others like him. When you remove the sheepskin from the wolf, suddenly things make sense.

    Not only is this, in Rachael Denhollander’s words, “one of the most well-documented cases of institutional cover-ups I have ever seen”, it’s also a well-documented case of how someone was allowed for so long to craftily avoid detection and fleece the sheep for decades. Many people attempted to confront Mahaney over the years using biblical methods, assuming he was a brother in Christ, only to discover an intensely evil person who disdained the laws of God, who hated anyone with a vengeance who questioned or criticized him.

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