Bill Hybels Of Willow Creek Accused of Sexual Misconduct: Why I Believe There Is a #metoo Problem

“I’d be lost without my blogger.” -Sherlock Holmes Season 1 Episode 3

This weekend, I attended a surprise wedding for Lise whose story you may have read: A Story of Collateral Damage: How a Sex Abuser at Providence Baptist Church Affected More Than Those He Abused. She told us all that it was to celebrate her engagement but when we arrived, she was standing in a cute white dress with red and white Toms wedge shoes, next to a sign that said “Surprise! We’re getting married.” I had guessed that it might happen so I was prepared with a wedding card and wedding gift! Ashley Easter and Shannon Dingle, both friends of TWW, were also there.

Lise’s pastor, Lisa Yebuah, of Southeast Raleigh Table, presided over the wedding with faith, humor and depth. Here is a video in which she discuss race as a gospel issue. She is amazing. But, I had a pit in my stomach because I knew I would have to discuss the Bill Hybels’ situation.

Willow Creek has championed women as pastors and elders so this is hard for me.I am hoping that those who criticize this blog as being focused on Calvinists and issues of abuse of women will take note. This blog deals with it even when it is personally painful.

The allegations against Hybels spans decades

Bill Hybels is known as the man who started Willow Creek Community church which stressed being seeker friendly. Many churches today base their strategy on the Willow Creek model. According to Wikipedia, Hybels

is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, one of the most attended churches in North America, with an average attendance of nearly 24,000 as of 2011.[1] He is the founder of the Willow Creek Association and creator of the Global Leadership Summit. Hybels is also an author of a number of Christian books, especially on the subject of Christian leadership.

Willow Creek promotes women in all levels of leadership and has a huge outreach into caring for the needs in the community. Hybels plans to step down in October, 2018 and will have two pastors succeed him- a man and a woman.

The Chicago Tribune, which presented the accusations against Bill Hybels in After years of inquiries, Willow Creek pastor denies misconduct allegations, claimed church members had no idea of the charges made and the investigations which had occurred. The Tribune was given access to internal documents and emails by those who wanted this story to be told.

Hybels had been the subject of inquiries into claims that he ran afoul of church teachings by engaging in inappropriate behavior with women in his congregation — including employees — allegedly spanning decades. The inquiries had cleared Hybels, and church leaders said his exit had nothing to do with the allegations.

The alleged behavior included suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss and invitations to hotel rooms. It also included an allegation of a prolonged consensual affair with a married woman who later said her claim about the affair was not true

Hybels and church leaders adamantly claim that investigations were held and that all such accusations are false. This story caused an uproar in the church. Members asked why they had not been notified. According to The Christian Post, Pam Orr, the head of the elder board responded that it didn’t seem fair to say anything since Hybels had been exonerated.

…Some asked why the church never informed congregants in the last four years that their pastor had faced allegations and had been cleared…

Orr said that since the inquiries cleared Hybels, it didn’t seem right to share the fact that there had been an investigation.

“It’s a sensitive matter,” Orr said. “We had concluded in the first investigation that we found no evidence to support the allegation brought forward. To bring that into full light, to bring that to the congregation just did not seem appropriate at the time.”

The people who are spearheading the revelations are long time, close friends with the Hybels. Why would they do something like this to a dear friend unless something was terribly wrong?

I believe that this is one of the weaknesses of the claims of ill will by Willow Creek and Hybels. The two couples are people who were once very close friends. Two other members of the Willow Creek Association, a university president and a female seminary professor, also resigned from the board and called for more investigation.

According to Christianity Today:

The group includes John and Nancy Ortberg, well-known pastors and authors who are both former teaching pastors at Willow Creek and longtime friends of Bill and Lynne Hybels. It also includes Leanne Mellado, a former Willow staff member who is married to Santiago “Jim” Mellado, the former longtime head of the Willow Creek Association (WCA) and current president and CEO of Compassion International.

…The Ortbergs and Mellados were once close enough to Bill and Lynne Hybels that the three couples were part of a home Bible study. Now they are estranged.

…The WCA board also learned of the allegations. Among the leaders on the WCA board at the time were Nancy Ortberg; Kara Powell, a professor at Fuller Seminary; Jon Wallace, president of Azusa Pacific University; and former Amway president Dick DeVos, who is married to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The WCA board voted against calling for an investigation, in a split decision. Not long after the vote, Ortberg, Powell, and Wallace resigned.

“It is our firm belief that leaders should be open to examination of and accountability for our actions,” Wallace and Powell told the Tribune in a joint statement.

Compassion later canceled a contract to be a sponsor of Willow Creek’s leadership summit.

Since that time, Nancy Ortberg and others have continued to work behind the scenes to address the matter.

Hybels claims that his former friends are colluding against him but can offer no logical explanation as to why they would do such a thing.

He uses strong language calling it a continual and calculated attack. According to the Tribune:

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.

…“This has been a calculated and continual attack on our elders and on me for four long years. It’s time that gets identified,”

… describing the couples as a kind of “vacuum cleaner” pulling in false accusations.

John Ortberg responded that those in the group of four (Mellados and Ortbergs) tried to reach out to Hybels but he claimed he needed to meet with them one on one. They were afraid that he would intimidate them in separate meetings and so the meetings never happened.

It was in this period that Mellado reached out to Hybels’ wife, whom she considered a close friend, to ensure she knew about the allegations swirling around her husband.

For nine months, John Ortberg tried unsuccessfully to set up a meeting between Hybels and the four of them. Hybels said he would meet with them as a group only if he could do one-on-one meetings first. Concerned Hybels may try to intimidate them in individual meetings, they refused, Ortberg said.

The lady who claimed she lied, became suicidal and then allowed Bill Hybels to become her counselor. Huh?

According to the Tribune:

In this situation, Mellado was warned that the woman would deny everything if she was confronted by the church. I beleive this situation is problematic for Bill Hybels. Why was (is?) he involved in counseling this woman who allegedly became suicidal? From the outside, this looks very strange. It could indicate that Hybels has a boundary problem which could give credence to other claims.

…Mellado learned the alleged relationship had lasted more than a decade. At first, she supported this friend and talked through what had happened. Then Leanne Mellado felt she needed to tell the elders at Willow Creek what she had learned.

Mellado said the woman told her things had started after a meeting at Hybels’ home in Inverness, when the pastor pulled her in for an extended hug, which left her feeling awkward. The relationship progressed through intimate communication over email, the woman said.

Mellado told the Tribune that the woman told her the two eventually had consensual encounters, including oral sex.

…Leanne Mellado emailed the woman in late March 2014 saying it was time for light to shine on what had happened. But the woman did not want to cooperate.

“I hope you understand. But if it comes to forcing me, I will be silent,” the woman wrote in an email reviewed by the Tribune. “I feel I should not have trusted you.” The woman did not respond to Tribune requests for comment.

Ortberg recalled that her frustrations with the pastor mounted while the initial allegations of an affair were being considered by the Willow Creek Association board. She recalled that during that debate, Hybels told her that the woman at the center of the inquiry was suicidal. He said he continued to offer her counseling — a clear conflict, in Ortberg’s view, for someone in Hybels’ position.

Bill Hybels admitted to inviting Vonda Dyer to his hotel room. What?

According to the Tribune:

…Dyer (on a trip) was getting ready to go to bed when Hybels summoned her to his room. Her roommate at the time said in an interview with the Tribune that she remembers picking up the phone and relaying Hybels’ message.

Dyer recounted that she went to Hybels’ room where he poured wine and invited her to stretch out on the couch while he sat in a separate chair. She said she presumed it would be a quick chat when he told her that he had taken Ambien, a sleep aid.

The conversation quickly turned uncomfortable, she said, when he started complimenting her appearance and criticizing her husband, and suggested they lead Willow together. She said he came over, put his hands on her waist, caressed her stomach and kissed her.

“He told me what he thought about how I looked, very specifically, what he thought about my leadership gifts, my strengths,” she said. She recalled Hybels told her she was “sexy.” “That was the night that he painted a picture of what great leaders we would be. We could lead Willow together.”

Hybels admitted he called her to his room.

 He had invited her to a conference area of his hotel suite, he said, to discuss adding a song to church programming.

Dyer didn’t say anything at the time because she thought she would not be believed. Eventually, she felt she had to tell Hybels to stop flirting with women.

As time went on, Dyer watched Hybels and how women acted around him. By 2000, she remembers that she started to suspect he was flirting, if not trying to seduce others too. She said she confronted him and, after listing the specific women, told him to knock it off. He didn’t deny it, she said.

“Understood,” she remembers him saying. Hybels told the Tribune he did not recall the conversation.

Hybels admits to taking sleep aids and says he does not want to be out of control when taking them.

He said he has a strict protocol for taking sleep aids such as Ambien because he never wants to be out of control, and characterized the rest of Dyer’s story as completely false.

Nancy Beach, Willow Creek’s first female teaching pastor, was invited to, get ready… Hybels’ hotel room for wine and a hug. Then there was the odd *arms* compliment.

It might help if the readers role play this scene in their heads. Imagine being told to loosen up and to tell Hybels what your most attractive body feature is. This is bizarre. This comes up again later in the Willow Creek statement. Beach decided to come forward after she heard others were doing so.(ed. This is common for victims. They gain strength when others step forward.)

Beach served as a key volunteer. She joined the full-time staff in 1984 to oversee the artistic elements of the worship services, and 10 years later she was preaching on a regular basis.

fter dinner, Beach said Hybels invited her to his hotel room for a glass of wine. Before she left, she recalls him giving her an awkwardly long embrace.

“He would always say, ‘You don’t know how to hug. That’s not a real hug.’ So it was like a lingering hug that made me feel uncomfortable. But again, I’m trying to prove that I’m this open person.”

The next day, Beach recalled, Hybels didn’t seem happy. They didn’t have any more long conversations and flew separate flights home. A week later, he asked Beach to stay after a management team meeting and suggested they not tell anyone about what happened in Spain, she said.

… In 1999, he asked Beach to tack two extra days on to a European trip and meet him on the coast of Spain to coach a church, she said. With two young children and a working husband at home, Beach didn’t want to extend the trip but said she also didn’t want to disappoint her boss.

But during their two days there, work took a backseat to leisurely walks, long dinners and probing personal conversations, she said.

Over a three-hour dinner, she said he told her that she needed to loosen up and take more emotional risks. He asked her what her most attractive body part was, then told her it was her arms, she said. It also wasn’t the first time he talked about how unhappy he was in his marriage, she recalled.

The 1,000+ unreadable emails

The woman who reportedly lied and Hybels exchanged 1000+ emails that were unreadable. We are told they exist but that is all. According to the Tribune:

But by April that year, Mellado had shared her concerns with Willow Creek’s highest-ranking elder at the time, Brian Johnson.

Johnson, who did not respond to requests for comment, told Mellado in text messages that he found 1,150 emails between the woman and Hybels, but was not able to read them. He then alerted other elders about the situation, said Pam Orr and Rob Campbell, two elders at that time.

Though Hybels offered his electronic devices and financial records for review, the elders were unable to read the emails.

Hybels told the Tribune that his email had been hacked twice in the last 20 years, so he made sure his messages weren’t archived to prevent sensitive pastoral matters from leaking out.

Hybels denied and continues to deny all charges of impropriety

He claimed that he doesn’t talk about women’s *appendages.* He also made an allegation that Beach may be doing this out of spite. According to the Tribune:

…He said he recalled not giving Beach latitude to do as much teaching at Willow Creek as she might have liked but said he did not know whether that had triggered her making allegations against him. Regardless, he insisted he did nothing wrong.

“When (the allegation) surfaced in 2016, I was like, no, who twisted that one?” Hybels told the Tribune. “I don’t talk about women’s appendages.

The lawyer hired by the church to investigate cleared Hybels. Boz Tchividjian, hired by the other side, claimed there were deficiencies in the church’s earlier investigations.

Boz Tchividjian does not have a horse in this race and his expert opinion should be taken seriously.

Willow Creek elders had taken a more dramatic step, hiring an outside attorney, Jeffrey Fowler of Laner Muchin in Chicago, a law firm that specializes in workplace issues.

Fowler reached out to the Mellados and Ortbergs requesting their participation in a renewed investigation. The Mellados and Ortbergs brought on as an adviser Basyle Tchividjian, a former sex crimes prosecutor in Florida and founder of a nonprofit group the helps victims of sexual abuse and abuse of power by clergy members.

Tchividjian later outlined for Fowler what he viewed as deficiencies in Willow Creek church’s earlier handling of the Hybels situation, calling it a “cursory examination of Pastor Hybels’ electronic devices, finances and travel records,”

Tchividjian said the Mellados and Ortbergs would participate in Laner Muchin’s investigation only if it was, in their view, “thorough, objective, and independent.”

…Fowler ended this most recent inquiry and issued a report in February, again clearing Hybels of misconduct. The woman resigned and declined the church’s requests to keep it confidential.

The problems in the Willow Creek statement that cause me to believe that there is fire hidden in the smoke.

The following quotes are from the Willow Creek website.

The statement does not mention that 1000+ emails were unreadable.

In the external investigation, 29 interviews were conducted, and an information technology (IT) forensics firm was engaged to search the Willow server. In addition, email messages, phone records, church financial documents, personal financial documents, and travel records were all thoroughly reviewed once again.

Hybels I cooperated fully and turned over my phone records, my calendar, my finances, my travel logs, and all my personal devices. I opened my entire life to them.

Hybels mentioned these alleged incidents happened more than 20 years ago as if that makes them less credible. Maybe it was #metoo #churchtoo which gave them courage to come forward now?

It is apparent that Hybels has not been following the Andy Savage story. Jules was assaulted 20 years ago and still bears the scars of that incident. Just because something happened 20 years ago does not make it any less of a sin today.

It is evident from reading the narratives of the victims that they were uncomfortable about coming forward. They expressed concern that they would not be believed. It is common for victims to remain silent for decades. In fact, it may be have been #metoo stories in the press that gave victims the courage to come forward.

Many of these alleged incidents purportedly took place more than twenty years ago. The fact that they have been dredged up now and assembled in a calculated way demonstrates the determination of this group to do as much damage as they possibly can.

The statement mentions the *attractive arms* compliment in a way that appears to blow it off.

I think the church does not realize how odd this compliment was, given the situation that surrounded it. It took place in Spain at what might appear to be an intimate dinner. Both the dinner and the compliment that focused on her physical attributes were inadvisable and the compliment was also a bit creepy.

They outlined how they believed it should be conducted and raised some additional concerns about how Bill related to women. Those additional concerns included one hug that one of the women in the group said she had received and one compliment that another one of the women said she had received about her arms

The church claims that a *small group* actually stated they were out to tarnish Hybels’ reputation.

A statement is sometimes called a declaration of fact. The church is actually that more than one person (a small group) said they were out to *tarnish* Hybels.

It’s not right that a small group of people with a stated desire to tarnish one man’s reputation have sown seeds of distrust throughout our community. We’re so sorry.

I do not believe that for a second. Years ago, I stood up to a church leadership who I believed had not responded to reports about the sexual behavior of a seminary student who is now in prison for abusing a number of boys in the church. I was angry at the leaders. I was frustrated. I didn’t like them very much. However, never once did it enter my mind to *tarnish* their reputation. I just wanted them to deal with what they had done.I believe that this is what Bill Hybels’ old friends are doing.

Hybels accuses them of collusion and all sorts of negative motives. He never once admitted that his old friends may have simply believed that Hybels did something wrong. In his mind, they were simply out to get him. The strikes me as a bit strange.

Why would Bill Hybels’ old friends do this?

Read this statement carefully while thinking about the involved individuals Did John and Nancy Ortberg have a mental break and become delusional? What about Leanne and Jim Mellado? Are they hiding some sort of vendetta which has no basis in fact? No one can give me a good answer to this question.

This small group of former staff members has articulated outright to several people that they believe Bill does not deserve to finish his ministry tenure at Willow well, despite the thorough and conscientious investigative process that has cleared his name. It has become clear to us that they have decided to spread this sentiment through rumors and now through the media. They aggressively shopped the story to multiple media outlets. These actions fail to live up to biblical standards, and they have caused much pain for many people. We have deep sadness over the broken relationships with people we have respected and people we love. We are grieved for Bill and his family. After 42 years of faithfully pastoring you and me, our congregation, and after his family giving sacrificially, this has been painful beyond words for them.

Final thoughts:

  • I don’t believe that there is a collaborative effort by a small group to *take down* Hybels.
  • I don’t believe anyone in the small group of former friends made a statement that they were out to *tarnish* Bill Hybels’ reputation.
  • I don’t believe that the Ortbergs and the Mellados are just crazy or evil people who are making up concerns about Hybels’ behavior.
  • I believe that Hybels appears to have some boundary problems when it comes behavior around members of the opposite sex. He admitted inviting one person to his hotel room.
  • I believe that Hybels did compliment the woman on her arms. That seems too weird to be made up.
  • Hybels should never downplay abuse just because it happened *20 years ago.* That is naive and condescending to victims who still suffer from abuse *20 years ago.*
  • Why is Hybels counseling the woman who supposedly lied? How weird and inappropriate is that?
  • Could the lady, who they claim admitted to lying, have actually been telling the truth? She warned them that she would not admit to it if asked. She was also suicidal. I would say that this whole incident is in question and should not be used by the church as a proof that this is all a conspiracy of lies.
  • The church needs to understand that some hugs and compliments on physical traits can be inappropriate and creepy.
  • There seems to be a fear factor on the part of the victims and the former friends of Hybels. Why is that?
  • Somebody needs to do something about the disappearing emails situation. Seriously?
  • If Boz Tchividjian says there is a problem, there is a problem.

I also want to say that I believe the victims in these accounts and I am so sorry that they have endured a difficult work environment as well as the scorn from the Board of Elders and Hybels. I also believe that the Ortbergs and the Mellados were acting to protect the women whose stories they believed. Collusion? I don’t thinks so.

#metoo #churchtoo

PS I heard there was a standing ovation for Hybels at a church meeting the other night.That was really stupid and ill advised.

Never forget-this about potential abuse and it should be treated with dignity and thoughtfulness. This is not a rock concert, folks.


Comments

Bill Hybels Of Willow Creek Accused of Sexual Misconduct: Why I Believe There Is a #metoo Problem — 319 Comments

  1. Are abuse survivors best served when institutions investigate themselves? Boz Tchividjian shared his answer to that question in an article posted by Religion News Service (October 16, 2015).

    https://www.religionnews.com/2015/10/16/are-abuse-survivors-best-served-when-institutions-investigate-themselves/

    He says that CONTROL is the fundamental difference between an “internal” versus an “independent” investigation into abuse.

    “An internal investigation is when the institution being investigated is in control. Independent investigations require that the independent investigator be in control.”

    He details four specific factors that delegitimize the so-called “investigation” when the institution under scrutiny is also in the driver’s seat when it comes to controlling (1) the investigator, (2) the process, (3) the findings, and (4) the final report.

    Great article that sheds light on the internal investigation at Willow Creek.

  2. Thank you for writing this article! I’m stunned again by the instinctive covering people are doing for Bill. Aren’t they deeply concerned and wanting to know what has actually been said and done by one who has profitted financially and gained great influence while being their pastor. Glad Dr. B isn’t here to see this train wreck, Bill. (A Bible prof at Wheaton who was instrumental in helping launch WC.)

    I wish the script didn’t sound so familiar. The manipulative statements, discrediting of challengers, drumming up support (Bob Goff supports me so there. Don’t bother me with facts.), making it seem like the congregation has lots of input (OK if I stay until Oct and serve you?) but they didn’t know about any of these investigations or allegations, the minimizing and misdirection. Saying he was so transparent does not leave the impression that there were over 1000 unavailable emails with the woman in question.

    Telling partial truths or leaving false impressions is a common tactic. So many examples of typical tactics. I’ll bet commentors here are getting very good at recognizing them with all this practice. Motive matters,people. These 2 couples have nothing to gain from pursuing this except knowing they spoke truth and really tried to bring light to darkness for the health of the Body.

    One way I know this is that if these women were making things up they would make themselves look less gullible and eager to please. Survivors would make ourselves look better if we were just inventing sad stories. We would not paint ourselves as so naive or duped.

    Wonder at what point the elders required Bill to tell Lynne about the investigations? There was always a big deal about how the elders worked to protect the marriage of the Hybels. So many things disturb me about this! Thanks again for writing this and providing a place to share our thoughts.

    Can you be a pastor involved in wrongdoing and cover it up when exposed without being spiritually abusive?

  3. I’m rolling on the floor because Hybels sounds so much like Trump with cries of “fake news” and “everyone’s out to get me” – presumably because he’s such a winner, such a success, such a stud in every endeavor. But hey, it’s not a bad political strategy as we’ve seen. American EVs seem to lap up every lie, every progressively worse “long-ago moral lapse,” providing the equivalent of standing ovations to their master. And in the case of Nancy Beach, Pastor Billy is already blaming the victim. (The others will eventually experience Hybels’ holy wrath as well – and watch, the Willow women will rise to his defense en masse.)

    Having lived in Chicago, knowing a number of WC members, and knowing something of the wealth & power among its membership – not to mention WC’s role in the wider Drucker Empire – I’m just sayin’ Hybels is far, far more likely to fade into retirement unscathed, than he is to ever be held accountable. There is way too much earthly gain at stake here. Believe it.

  4. Difficult situation to cover. Lots of loose ends and entanglements. Well done, Dee. Don’t you just love it when grown-ups tell the truth? Would be nice. Someone(s) is lying, in this case.

    A today version of the Billy Graham Rule (since it was well-intentioned, after all, back in the day), for women: When he – and maybe he’s boss – invites a woman alone to his hotel room, she can tell him to meet in the lobby or the bar. After all, it’s supposed to be work, business. In this case, the business of the church. Most guys I know also would rather meet a guy in the lobby or the bar, rather than alone in their hotel room, for business. Awkward. And yes, creepy.

  5. Deborah wrote:

    the instinctive covering people are doing for Bill

    JFK is an example of a network covering up a man in high places. It’s instructive to us all.

    Locally, professional men were going after teenage girls, but the girls were flattered and their parents didn’t care. A girl’s family owned the largest media outlet, so it never made headlines. Visible but not. Lot of money and status involved.

    Whatever the social network will tolerate goes on. In and out of the church.

  6. The church: where needy people find each other. Trust.

    Hopefully, they know Christ first, and wear the armour of God, including to church (Eph. 6).

    Do pastors like Hybels preach about the armour and self-defense? When to trust and when to suspect? Or, is church only about connection, no matter who that may involve? All in the soup together. Nowadays, churches have Connection Pastors.

  7. “It’s not right that a small group of people with a stated desire to tarnish one man’s reputation have sown seeds of distrust throughout our community. We’re so sorry.”

    Ah yes, we have yet another implication of a grand conspiracy of the time and energy (and own reputation) of “a small group of people” from image-shapers at the church. Of course, there’s that whole Biblical notion of pastorate being above reproach, and usually it’s a small group of those who know (or strongly suspect) what’s what who speak out. But their “small” number is apparently combined with motive that is destructive (tarnishing reputations, sowing seeds of mistrust), per the image-shapers.

    Sooo… when one of the church covenant-pushing bodies does their version of discipline (which may involve harsh words and assessments or actions), are they tarnishing reps and exhibiting distrust? Nay nay, many are wont to say; this is needed and is ever so Biblical. And yet, those who are alleging a pastor was not acting above reproach have their motives called into question. Rinse, repeat.

  8. Wow! What drove you to dig this deep into this story? Pastor Bill and Willow have been forthright and have had integrity through 4 years, 4 years, 4 years of pressure and accusations. This is a sad time in the life of the church. May God help us all.

  9. “Then pretty soon there’s just a warm hug that is good‐natured at the beginning and then it becomes an emotion‐filled embrace. Then happenstance get‐togethers become intentional, secret rendezvous. Then good night pecks on the cheek give way to passionate kissing and fondling and beyond that it’s usually only a matter of time before a full‐blown affair is under way. ” – Bill Hybels, ‘Finding the Love of your Life: The Agony of Affairs’

    http://www.willowcreekglobalsummit.com/downloads/when_a_leader_falls/The_Moment_of_the_Maybe/Finding_the_Love_of_Your_Life_-_The_Agony_of_Affairs.pdf

  10. Sounds like a confession to me.

    Lowlandseer wrote:

    “Then pretty soon there’s just a warm hug that is good‐natured at the beginning and then it becomes an emotion‐filled embrace. Then happenstance get‐togethers become intentional, secret rendezvous. Then good night pecks on the cheek give way to passionate kissing and fondling and beyond that it’s usually only a matter of time before a full‐blown affair is under way. ” – Bill Hybels, ‘Finding the Love of your Life: The Agony of Affairs’
    http://www.willowcreekglobalsummit.com/downloads/when_a_leader_falls/The_Moment_of_the_Maybe/Finding_the_Love_of_Your_Life_-_The_Agony_of_Affairs.pdf

  11. Pretty sad all around. Not judging, but I don’t understand how these stories keep popping up. This is why my only conclusion is that some people are actually atheists..hence they have no fear of God (and thus, no wisdom either). You can’t fear what you don’t believe. And you don’t cut off the right hand when you actually value that hand.

    But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m just some freak with a low libido.

  12. How many does this make?
    How many male leaders in the evangelical movement have been accused of some type of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior?
    This is yet another reason why I no longer trust male evangelical leaders.
    Because they abuse people and/or support those who do.

  13. Anna wrote:

    Sounds like a confession to me.

    Lowlandseer wrote:

    “Then pretty soon there’s just a warm hug that is good‐natured at the beginning and then it becomes an emotion‐filled embrace. Then happenstance get‐togethers become intentional, secret rendezvous. Then good night pecks on the cheek give way to passionate kissing and fondling and beyond that it’s usually only a matter of time before a full‐blown affair is under way. ” – Bill Hybels, ‘Finding the Love of your Life: The Agony of Affairs’
    http://www.willowcreekglobalsummit.com/downloads/when_a_leader_falls/The_Moment_of_the_Maybe/Finding_the_Love_of_Your_Life_-_The_Agony_of_Affairs.pdf

    My comment: He says it’s only a matter of time before a full-blown affair is underway. Wrong. It was underway a VERY long time before that. Any woman who accepts that first “peck on the cheek” or “arm warmly around the shoulder” is asking for trouble. The man involved ALREADY has a plan. IMHO.

  14. Bill is in a no-win situation. If the accusations are false, his reputation is tarnished (unjustly). If they are true, his denials make him look worse. Offenders who want to maintain their reputation work overtime to cover what they did (remember King David). If Bill Hybels wants to do a favor for all pastors everywhere he should come clean and admit that he did, said, or implied some things that he should not have done, said, or implied (like inviting a woman to his hotel room when he was alone or hugging in a non-public place). It’s difficult for most of us to believe that he is 100% innocent (and may God forgive us if we are wrong). Admitting his faults may be the hardest thing Bill would ever do, but that would be a big win for him and a model for others. We admire Billy Graham for his self-discipline, and we would admire Bill Hybels for his self-sacrificing honesty (instead of self-protecting denials).

  15. “Dyer recounted that she went to Hybels’ room where he poured wine and invited her to stretch out on the couch while he sat in a separate chair. She said she presumed it would be a quick chat when he told her that he had taken Ambien, a sleep aid.”

    One thing to note is that Ambien can make people behave oddly (which is why one should be in bed doing nothing else after taking it!) as well as impair memory of events while it’s in your system. I’m not excusing his behavior, it sounds like more of a pervasive pattern, but having drugs like that in your system certainly doesn’t help in any instances he took it!

  16. JYJames wrote:

    When he – and maybe he’s boss – invites a woman alone to his hotel room, she can tell him to meet in the lobby or the bar.

    Problem comes in, JY James, is if you fear you’ll lose your source of income, thus food for your kids, would you TELL your boss that. Both men and women fear that kind of situation for lots of reasons. That’s why it’s not necessarily a gender issue, but a power one. It’s really sick that someone uses their power over another. 🙁 But apart from the power dynamic, you give really good advice regarding the lobby or a restaurant or some other public space!

  17. Prescription sleep medications come with a disclaimer that says that some people have done things without realizing what they were doing. So only take the medication right before bed. He knew that and wanted to use that to his advantage. Sounds like he was making up an alibi to later be able to blame anything that happened on the medication. Not buying that flimsy excuse for one second.

    Normal people who take sleep meds don’t do the rest of his weird behavior. Telling a woman that she doesn’t know how to hug properly sounds very manipulative—-keeping her off balance so she doesn’t see what’s his real game.

  18. I have doubts about church leaders when they build their ministries on “Which way do you want to go? I’ll get out in front to lead.” That has been the seeker-friendly world of Bill Hybels. In that environment, anything is possible.

  19. Big Name ManaGAWD can’t keep his pants zipped?
    SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

    Internal Church Investigation finds Nothing Wrong?
    THE FIX IS IN.

    Email evidence “unreadable”, all archives scrubbed, ManaGAWD claims Persecution by The Conspiracy?
    SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

    Hypothetical sermon on “The Agony of Affairs” with the distinct vibe of O.J.Simpsons “How I Did It”?
    WTF?

  20. Lowlandseer wrote:

    and beyond that it’s usually only a matter of time before a full‐blown affair is under way.

    Maybe this is Hybel’s issue–he does not define these other things (emotion-filled embrace, goodnight pecks, etc.) as an “affair.” There are dozens of heart and behavior issues that lead up to intercourse, most of which I would call, at the very least, an emotional affair. This could be happening in Bill’s head, but then again, he denies any and all wrongdoing. We know that publicly he is not splitting these hairs (i.e. he’s not pulling a Bill Clinton), but maybe his private hair-splitting helped to lead him down this path.

  21. readingalong wrote:

    “Dyer recounted that she went to Hybels’ room where he poured wine and invited her to stretch out on the couch while he sat in a separate chair. She said she presumed it would be a quick chat when he told her that he had taken Ambien, a sleep aid.”

    One thing to note is that Ambien can make people behave oddly (which is why one should be in bed doing nothing else after taking it!) as well as impair memory of events while it’s in your system. I’m not excusing his behavior, it sounds like more of a pervasive pattern, but having drugs like that in your system certainly doesn’t help in any instances he took it!

    Ambien also lowers inhibitions. Adding wine to Ambien probably doubles that risk. I wonder why someone taking Ambien would announce that with the female guest that he just invited to his room.

  22. Lowlandseer wrote:

    “Then pretty soon there’s just a warm hug that is good‐natured at the beginning and then it becomes an emotion‐filled embrace. Then happenstance get‐togethers become intentional, secret rendezvous. Then good night pecks on the cheek give way to passionate kissing and fondling and beyond that it’s usually only a matter of time before a full‐blown affair is under way. ” – Bill Hybels, ‘Finding the Love of your Life: The Agony of Affairs’
    http://www.willowcreekglobalsummit.com/downloads/when_a_leader_falls/The_Moment_of_the_Maybe/Finding_the_Love_of_Your_Life_-_The_Agony_of_Affairs.pdf

    Wow!

  23. readingalong wrote:

    One thing to note is that Ambien can make people behave oddly

    I agree. However, the rest of there instances were not *under the influence.*

  24. Geoff Smith wrote:

    Ambien also lowers inhibitions. Adding wine to Ambien probably doubles that risk. I wonder why someone taking Ambien would announce that with the female guest that he just invited to his room.

    Good catch!

  25. On the Ambien, was it possible that this was (purposely or not) a “I’m not dangerous to be around, I’m drugged” thing? I would hope NOT because it would suggest extremely predatory thinking. He was stupid to have anyone around after he’d taken it though.

  26. Maybe churches need term limits for pastors.
    And required continuing education.
    And bishops with consequences-consequences for the bishops for administrative malpractice

    And maybe professing christians need to collectively pull their head out..
    And maybe theological reform to weed out the worst of the c**p at least..
    And maybe people need good doses of common sense and some courage worthy or a martyr..

    Kind of sounds like another reformation-imagine that.
    It has been 500 years.

    When I read the history of China I found out that every few centuries for an enormously long time China would have an overthrow of a corrupt government which would help for a few centuries until corruption necessitated the next overthrow-and on and on. Maybe Christianity needs to get a clue and deal with its own issues-like now.

  27. Seraph wrote:

    Pretty sad all around. Not judging, but I don’t understand how these stories keep popping up. This is why my only conclusion is that some people are actually atheists..hence they have no fear of God (and thus, no wisdom either). You can’t fear what you don’t believe. And you don’t cut off the right hand when you actually value that hand.

    But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m just some freak with a low libido.

    There is much that can be written about the process of becoming a celebrity Christian leader and maintaining that status. Was around the Hybels world back in early 90’s+. He was the one being worshipped. He basically franchised worship services. Churches were buying his complete packages of sermon, accompanying videos, skits, songs, etc. Those guys even have joke writers. The pew sitters have NO clue what they are supporting. They like the entertainment and environment.

    I would call what you are describing as a “wise” libido. 🙂

  28. Deborah wrote:

    Can you be a pastor involved in wrongdoing and cover it up when exposed without being spiritually abusive?

    No. You cannot compartmentalize deception, control, manipulation, and intimidation. Those characteristics always manifest themselves elsewhere sooner or later. Covering up sin is not repentance. A non-repentant pastor has sin dwelling in his heart, to surface time and again through stealth and deception.

  29. Lydia wrote:

    The pew sitters have NO clue what they are supporting. They like the entertainment and environment.

    = the secret of success for seeker-friendly churches. New Calvinism borrowed this method from Hybels, but repackaged it as “culturally-relevant.”

    As a side-note, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren carefully studied Robert Schuller’s church growth strategies. They were sort of “spiritual sons” of Schuller – together they have reshaped the evangelical landscape in America. Time will tell what their impact has been on American Christianity. Schuller’s empire collapsed … Hybels’ is on the verge. “If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail” (Acts 5:38).

  30. @ Max:
    In mega churches the urge to squash even a hint of any sort of scandal is unbelievable. One reason is that people are really disconnected to the leaders who present themselves as BFF’s on stage and the leaders fear the place will half empty out. Most people give when they are there. So they need them to be there.

    Frankly, #metoo is cool now. It wasn’t cool in the late 90’s.

  31. Lydia wrote:

    Those guys even have joke writers. The pew sitters have NO clue what they are supporting. They like the entertainment and environment.

    They support it like they support the movie industry

    Willow Creek, Saddleback and myriad other megas large & small sell pop psychology & nice feelings.

    They’re Christian entertainment companies, great payday, no taxes.

    Not surprised with any of the allegations.

    Just reinforces what I already know.

  32. I used to go to Willow Creek which is a very BIG church. The lead pastors at most large churches are totally involved in preaching/teaching and church leadership and leave the pastoring and counseling to others on the staff. I am quite surprised to hear that Bill Hybels said he was offering counseling to anyone at Willow Creek – especially for the woman at the center of the inquiry.

  33. Lydia wrote:

    In mega churches the urge to squash even a hint of any sort of scandal is unbelievable.

    It must be exhausting to keep mega-machines running and mega-machinery oiled. Scandals throw a wrench into the works; best to catch them at the first hint before they become mega-scandals.

    When you think about it, the true Church has never been “mega” in proportion. That’s why it is called the “remnant”. Five hundred saw Jesus after the resurrection, but only 120 showed up for the prayer meeting in Acts 1. Home church attendance was restrained by available space in small first-century homes, before another home church was launched. When the going got rough, the multitude stopped following Jesus. We’ve made the “going” easy in 21st century church; from coffee in the foyer to cool bands on stage … mega is so easy if you have a little charisma and some gimmicks to pull it off. Mega in America is very religious, but spiritually destitute.

    Of course, we do have an instance in Scripture where Peter preached one sermon to a crowd and saw 3,000 saved! Today, we preach 3,000 sermons before one is saved!

  34. I struggle with people either being stupid or naive–like counseling someone accusing you of harassment (Hybels) or asking for provocative pictures from an e-mail admirer (Ravi Z.). It’s like they don’t cover basic ethics in pastors’ school, or they think they are above it all.

  35. @ Dave:
    That shocked me too. It’s like “most favored nation status” in mega church lingo. Most mega church top pastors don’t even do weddings/funerals unless they are for celebs/favorites.

  36. Dave wrote:

    I used to go to Willow Creek which is a very BIG church. The lead pastors at most large churches are totally involved in preaching/teaching and church leadership and leave the pastoring and counseling to others on the staff. I am quite surprised to hear that Bill Hybels said he was offering counseling to anyone at Willow Creek – especially for the woman at the center of the inquiry.

    Yep. This is a HUGE red flag!

  37. Max wrote:

    It must be exhausting to keep mega-machines running and mega-machinery oiled.

    By any means necessary… so the end result is not a church. It’s a business.

    The model doesn’t seem to be working. Perhaps a paradigm shift is in order. Wonder what it will look like? Kind of exciting to anticipate what God has in mind now in this techno age. The Media shift to the internet is absolutely amazing, although no more paperboys. Netflix is fun, too. Online coursework – so convenient. Merchandise ordered online and delivered. Cell phones and ipads. I always check traffic before leaving for work. Etc.

  38. Linn wrote:

    It’s like they don’t cover basic ethics in pastors’ school, or they think they are above it all.

    They sure covered it when I was in seminary in the 1970’s. Being above reproach and inviting a woman up to your hotel room are totally incompatible. His response that it was in the conference part of his hotel suite is pure rationalization.

    Even if you act properly towards the other person you are vulnerable to accusations. A telephone conversation or meeting in a public place are logical alternatives. If you are woozy on Ambien use the phone or meet in public tomorrow.

    If the investigating elders bought this explanation without making it an issue of inappropriate conduct I think they are looking for a way to excuse him.

  39. Seraph wrote:

    Pretty sad all around. Not judging, but I don’t understand how these stories keep popping up. This is why my only conclusion is that some people are actually atheists..hence they have no fear of God (and thus, no wisdom either). You can’t fear what you don’t believe. And you don’t cut off the right hand when you actually value that hand.

    But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m just some freak with a low libido.

    I’m a freak with a very high libido and a very shaky grasp sometimes on doing the right thing—but yet I’ve been married for almost 30 years and never had an affair, never pursued a too-close relationship with a woman other than my wife. I’m not some paragon of virtue, either, it’s just that I have some fear of God and love my wife. We’ve been through so much together, forgiven so much, grown up together. She’s more beautiful to me now than she was that day in ’84 when I looked over at her at the football field and really noticed the curve of her face for the first time. If you keep putting time into your relationship you get closer over time and your partner becomes more beautiful.

    It’s not like there aren’t opportunities, either, I work around young coeds every day, there are a few willing to trade a little something-something for a passing grade even with a graying mediocrity like me, some are pretty direct about it. Have heard stories of some who more-or-less slept their way through the university, as there are a few colleagues willing to play that game. Occasionally there’s a scandal.

    If you’re into your relationship, loving the wife of your youth, it shouldn’t be an issue, you won’t want anyone else. But maybe, possibly, if you’re into advancing your influence and fame, travelling all over the world, speaking in front of adoring crowds, staying in expensive hotels, doing the yacht party thing, living the high life and enjoying the praise of people all over the world, often apart from your spouse, I guess you start noticing the hot young things who tell you how much “in awe” they are of you (as a young Debbie did on Twitter recently), and then you start noticing the middle aged spread on your spouse, and you forget all the sacrifices she made for you over the decades (and of course, you never seem to look too closely at yourself in the mirror, noticing what a plump, gray, middle-aged thing you’ve become). And next thing you know, you’re in an “unhappy relationship”. Yeah, right.

  40. As the HUGster would say, the whole thing reeks and smells like Game of Thrones.
    Where you at HUG?

  41. “On one international trip, Hybels invited Vonda Dyer alone to his hotel room with explicit instructions to exclude her husband who was there too, the Dyers said. On another trip, Hybels called her up to his room and answered the door, freshly showered, wearing slacks with no shirt and just staring at her, she said. He made a casual remark, she said, before she returned downstairs, wondering why she had been called there in the first place.”

    I suppose she should be thankful he wasn’t just out of the shower in nothing but a bathrobe… >:-(

  42. okrapod wrote:

    When I read the history of China I found out that every few centuries for an enormously long time China would have an overthrow of a corrupt government which would help for a few centuries until corruption necessitated the next overthrow-and on and on.

    Traditionally, a Chinese Dynasty has a lifespan of 300 years — 100 years to correct the mess left by the previous Dynasty, 100 years of its own Glory, and 100 years to decline and collapse.

    There’s a YouTube channel called “The Chen Dynasty” with a lot of little trivia bits about Chinese history.

  43. Max wrote:

    As a side-note, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren carefully studied Robert Schuller’s church growth strategies.

    Schuller.
    Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.
    Who said if he wasn’t a preacher, he’d be in show business; he likes putting on spectacles that much.
    And who after he retired, his heirs ran Crystal Cathedral into the ground playing Game of Thrones with each other.
    Crystal Cathedral is now Christ Cathedral, seat of the RCC Bishop of Orange. The Diocese had been looking for a new cathedral site for some time, and couldn’t pass up the fire-sale price.

  44. Geoff Smith wrote:

    Ambien also lowers inhibitions. Adding wine to Ambien probably doubles that risk. I wonder why someone taking Ambien would announce that with the female guest that he just invited to his room.

    You just answered your own question with “Ambien lowers inhibitions”.
    So does Alcohol.
    Why do you think “get him drunk” is an old, old way of getting someone to spill information?
    And when you combine the two…

  45. Lydia wrote:

    The pew sitters have NO clue what they are supporting. They like the entertainment and environment.

    In a way they’re like standard smart phone zombies. Oblivious, lobotomized, and totally happy. They deserve each other.

  46. Tina wrote:

    How many male leaders in the evangelical movement have been accused of some type of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior?

    If you count the CELEBRITY ones, damn near all of them at one time or another.

  47. Muff Potter wrote:

    In a way they’re like standard smart phone zombies. Oblivious, lobotomized, and totally happy.

    “SO-MA! SO-MA! SO-MA!”
    — Seventies TV adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

  48. readingalong wrote:

    One thing to note is that Ambien can make people behave oddly (which is why one should be in bed doing nothing else after taking it!) as well as impair memory of events while it’s in your system.

    Like Roofies?

  49. JYJames wrote:

    The model doesn’t seem to be working.

    It worked long enough to lead a generation off-track and into the enemy’s snare.

  50. Lydia wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    Pretty sad all around. Not judging, but I don’t understand how these stories keep popping up. This is why my only conclusion is that some people are actually atheists..hence they have no fear of God (and thus, no wisdom either). You can’t fear what you don’t believe. And you don’t cut off the right hand when you actually value that hand.

    But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m just some freak with a low libido.

    There is much that can be written about the process of becoming a celebrity Christian leader and maintaining that status. Was around the Hybels world back in early 90’s+. He was the one being worshipped. He basically franchised worship services. Churches were buying his complete packages of sermon, accompanying videos, skits, songs, etc. Those guys even have joke writers. The pew sitters have NO clue what they are supporting. They like the entertainment and environment.

    I would call what you are describing as a “wise” libido.

    Yes! He was one of the original founders of seeker sensitive churches. I recall the whole group, including Rick Warren’s church, being called the Creekers and Seekers. Dumbed down preaching, heavy on felt needs, etc. So this comes as no surprise. It’s been in the works for a very long time.

    Celebrity pastors gained (and continue to gain) a following because they taught nothing more than Sunday morning pablum. Theirs were churches which attracted all sinners but required no repentance. No change necessary because “Jesus loves you right where you are. “ They challenged the legalists. They were about love. They were family. They were missional. And the people loved it. Their churches exploded. Idols were made.

    This is so disturbing. We are seeing it happened every time we blink. It’s staggering.

  51. I have yet to see any evidence that they did a “thorough investigation”. Investigating yourself is not it. And the elders narrowly voted against an outside investigation, after which the group bringing they charges resigned, which to me screams that there was something wrong and the others probably knew it, too. A group who is “colluding” against you don’t ask for an honest outside investigation.

  52. In 1991 Bill and Lynne published a book about marriage called Fit To Be Tied. They detailed the rockiness of their courtship and marriage, saying there were times when both desperately wanted out. Made you wonder why they got married. They claimed it was all behind them. I suspect they’ve had a hard marriage but kept up appearances for the sake of ministry.

  53. @ GreekEpigraph:
    I thought that was his way of indicating it would only be a short meeting when she pushed back about meeting then and there. “Yeah, I’m Ambiened so obviously was headed to bed.” Defending his inappropriate request when she tried to express her discomfort. Cuz discussing the song Could not wait until morning apparently. What was best for her didn’t seem to cross his mind. This is patently ridiculous but being given a pass. I thought as believers we were to be charactericized by wanting the best for others and displaying discernment. Maybe I am mixing up incidents but there should not BE incidents!

  54. @ Uppity Bimbo:
    I remember reading that book and thinking “someone gets what I am experiencing.” Divorced after 30 plus years I now know that the dark triad of personality disorders can cause those kinds of dynamics. The spin and quick (ridiculous) lies easily stated along with the sense of “no rules apply to me” is all too familiar. Never saw a situation the ex could not devise a quick but untrue explanation for. Mind bending!

  55. @ Mercy:
    I can assure you there is no Love in the inner sanctums and rings of power. Lots of turf war infighting to be close to the throne. It’s all hat and no cattle, as the Duke used to say.

    I have come to the conclusion it is better to be a nobody.

  56. Lydia wrote:

    @ Mercy:
    I can assure you there is no Love in the inner sanctums and rings of power.

    “There is no Right, there is no Wrong, there is only POWER.”
    — Lord Voldemort

    Lots of turf war infighting to be close to the throne.

    i.e. Who gets to be the Court Favorite who hands the King his socks when he dresses in the morning.
    (And shifting from the French to the Turkish court, who gets to bring the bowstring for last week’s Court Favorite.)

    “A cold Iron Throne
    Holds a boy barely grown;
    His crown based on lies,
    YOU WIN OR YOU DIE —
    Game of Thrones…”

  57. Max wrote:

    JYJames wrote:
    The model doesn’t seem to be working.

    It worked long enough to lead a generation off-track and into the enemy’s snare.

    And to personally benefit and enrich the CELEBRITY pastors, which is what’s truly important.

  58. Max wrote:

    It worked long enough to lead a generation off-track and into the enemy’s snare.

    The whole contextualization idea is problematic, and has been in missions experience and has been in missiology theory and now in the ‘seeker friendly’ movement for a long time. I was reading something recently about the idea that when one was dealing with Muslims in a missions context one should not say that Jesus called himself son of god because it is contrary to what Islam teaches; they would be offended and put off. Sounds like seeker central; fit the message to the culture. There be those who say that what got Paul into trouble with leadership was what to do about the gentile believers who had actually been polytheists; that is to say how much to compromise. Then there was the issue of ancestor veneration in China back when and what to do about that.

    I don’t remember Jesus soft pedaling his message, or his personal claims. That makes one wonder how he taught the boys to be fishers of men unless they contextualized.

  59. okrapod wrote:

    Max wrote:
    It worked long enough to lead a generation off-track and into the enemy’s snare.
    The whole contextualization idea is problematic, and has been in missions experience and has been in missiology theory and now in the ‘seeker friendly’ movement for a long time. I was reading something recently about the idea that when one was dealing with Muslims in a missions context one should not say that Jesus called himself son of god because it is contrary to what Islam teaches; they would be offended and put off. Sounds like seeker central; fit the message to the culture. There be those who say that what got Paul into trouble with leadership was what to do about the gentile believers who had actually been polytheists; that is to say how much to compromise. Then there was the issue of ancestor veneration in China back when and what to do about that.
    I don’t remember Jesus soft pedaling his message, or his personal claims. That makes one wonder how he taught the boys to be fishers of men unless they contextualized.

    The chickens have come home to roost.

  60. @ okrapod:
    15 years a missionary, and still working cross-culturally with an immigrant church…good contextualization communicates God’s truth through using examples in the culture, but it should never dilute the truth of God’s Word. Fishers of men made sense in Biblical times because people always saw fishermen throwing their nets into the Sea of Galilee. For us, those examples often need to be explained and expanded upon. Major spiritual truth, like Jesus being the Son of God, might be introduced after other truths about Jesus have been explained , making it easier to understand that He is God’s Son. Contextualization, well-done, will always clarify the truths of God’s Word, not suppress them.

  61. The words for son to a Muslim implies God had sex. Which isn’t what Christianity teaches either. The concept simply needs to be walked through it.

    But the idea that you can’t teach the concept at all is dumb. Arabs were Christians far, far, FAR before these people were. I hate to shatter anybody’s illusions, but Christianity wasn’t invented on Main Street by Pastor Fred… nor did Jesus teach from the King James Bible. 😛

  62. Here’s another tidbit: Islam teaches the virgin birth. Mary is greatly honored in it. They have many trappings of Christianity from their roots… they’re just heretics who went off base.

    But they teach the virgin, which is more than I can say for most mainline Protestants these days.

    Yet they still deny the Son’s relationship, even while acknowledging this. Because they can’t get past the concept of Son = Sex. It’s weird, I know.. but not impossible.

  63. Lydia wrote:

    That fits too much for comfort. Yikes.

    Thrice now in the urologist’s waiting room, I was the only one with an old fashioned hard-cover book.

  64. Thank you for this article. I’ve realized for years that there are many women who are abused and cannot speak about it, some finally speak out many years later. Upon reading the Chicago Tribune article, there is not doubt Bill Hybels is trying to cover up, along with his supportive elders. “Be sure your sins will find you out.”
    It is sad to realize that Hybels invited Dyer to his home only when his wife is gone. That is evidence enough of his guilt. His fierce denouncing of inappropriate behavior, is another indicator. He would be much more respected if he apologized and sought forgiveness.

  65. Linn wrote:

    good contextualization communicates God’s truth through using examples in the culture, but it should never dilute the truth of God’s Word

    Agreed. If the Gospel doesn’t get lost in attempts to be culturally-relevant to draw a crowd, then there is room for contemporary form as long as substance is still delivered. After all, Jesus is the eternal contemporary! If Gospel truths are superseded by hype to attract the culture, then it is Christianity Lite – taking the salt out of salt. I suppose contextualization can help paint a picture of what faith looks like, but its hard to put the Cross of Christ into a 21st century sociological context in order to achieve an understanding of the crucifixion & resurrection. Sometimes it’s best just to preach the old rugged cross and an empty tomb, and allow the Holy Spirit to reach and teach lost folks, without adding a 21st century spin on it.

  66. Dave wrote:

    I am quite surprised to hear that Bill Hybels said he was offering counseling to anyone at Willow Creek – especially for the woman at the center of the inquiry.

    Me too!

  67. I think the West would better serve Christians in the Arab world by not supporting Zionism and siding with the very people who are chasing them out of their homes. These Christians could do mission work themselves if they simply got a break. Both from Jews and other Arab speaking Muslims (in the latter case, it’s tougher in some areas than others. Yet we unleashed hell in Syria, where Christians had the best treatment). Also, many Arabs speak a dialect that shares many Aramaic roots. Talk about being close to Jesus! Just like Egyptians speak a Coptic dialect of Arab. These were once the oldest Christian communities.

  68. Rev wrote:

    Pastor Bill and Willow have been forthright and have had integrity through 4 years, 4 years, 4 years of pressure and accusations.

    You have not helped me with my questions. Why would his best friends, all leaders, destroy their relationship with him unless they were seriously concerned about something? Also, could you please tell me who all stated they had a desired to tarnish his reputation? Names?

  69. Muff Potter wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    That fits too much for comfort. Yikes.

    Thrice now in the urologist’s waiting room, I was the only one with an old fashioned hard-cover book.

    Many of my good, old books are now on my phone. They fit in my pocket, weigh almost nothing, and I can carry a library with me wherever I go.

    (And no overdue fines for library books… they just disappear off my phone when their time runs out, and no need to make a special trip to the library.)

    My Bible and Bible study resources have been on my phone for years. Much easier to carry and use. I have arthritis, and my eyes aren’t what they used to be, so weight and bulk and the ability to change the size of the font or even have my phone read aloud to me when I’m not in public are all things I greatly appreciate.

    Not all those people on their phones are doing social media or games, I would imagine.

    🙂

  70. Rev wrote:

    Wow! What drove you to dig this deep into this story? Pastor Bill and Willow have been forthright and have had integrity through 4 years, 4 years, 4 years of pressure and accusations. This is a sad time in the life of the church. May God help us all.

    My guess would be the haunting or troubling parallels that have become all too common today.

    It does the church’s reputation greater harm to sweep rumors under the rug than to deal with them.

    If there were something obviously “in it” for the former friends, I might be more suspicious about a hack job. There are so many troubling aspects… the husband who confirmed that his wife had told him about an incident after a trip. The poor judgment (at best!!!) of inviting someone to a hotel room (what happened to avoiding even the appearance of evil?). A boat party with drunken guests? (See previous parenthetical comment. FWIW, I have an occasional glass of wine.) Over 1,000 emails… that cannot even be dismissed as “business as usual” as there is no way of knowing what they contained. (I wonder if a computer expert could retrieve the content, and if so, if Hybels would be profusely thankful for the opportunity for transparency?) And more…

  71. Anna wrote:

    Sounds like a confession to me.

    So every wrongful act you discuss amounts to a confession that you have personally engaged in that wrongful act?

  72. Max wrote:

    If Gospel truths are superseded by hype to attract the culture, then it is Christianity Lite – taking the salt out of salt.

    I think there is a lot of Christianity, the Edited Version. I got a dose of it in childhood until our church got a different pastor who actually thought there was more to Christianity that what we had been promulgating. Needless to say (a) the little church sprang into life and (b) some folks were none too happy about it. For me it was an awesomely good thing. And all of it SBC-both approaches-and all of it long long ago. IMO there really is nothing new under the sun.

  73. @ Seraph:
    Caesar referred to himself as Son of gods. Hmmm. The only time Yahweh is referred to as Father in the OT is in relation as father of Israel. Jesus is described as “everlasting father” in Isaiah 9. It’s all very interesting.

  74. It seems ironic to me in todays permissive culture of individualism, individual rights, individual freedom, equality and acceptance all around that accusations alone, regardless of the content even, can destroy the character and livelihood and reputation of a man who has devoted his life to helping people. While this is major Christian news…..”What! He hugged a women for longer than grandma!” Stuff like this is subjective is my point. The secular community is yawning and worse they are nodding and saying see I told those Christian guys are just like everyone else, so why mess with church. I have read everything in the Daily Herald commentaries from majorly credible people who worked with Hybels for decades and there are very insightful comments and the content points to super high character qualities and Hybels respect for his leadership role.

    We are all human and I have trouble believing that any person, especially of such power and profile, can get thru this life without some form of sin, mistakes, and missteps. It seems to me that when super high profile Christian leaders are going to a major media outlet that writes a 6,000 word story it is basically a nuclear weapon launch on that person. Are they trying to be sensitive to todays #MeToo standard or feel like this must be exposed in good conscious. I don’t know, but it is unnerving to me that there is no mention of spiritual warfare, meaning this kind of situation and how it has transpired in the media, in the church, and all over the internet, is a big win for Satan.

    devisivness I can tell you Satan gets a win with all of the distraction, hurts, and slander of major leaders.

  75. Lydia wrote:

    @ Seraph:
    Caesar referred to himself as Son of gods. Hmmm. The only time Yahweh is referred to as Father in the OT is in relation as father of Israel. Jesus is described as “everlasting father” in Isaiah 9. It’s all very interesting.

    Augustus Caesar referred to himself this way.. because he was the son of Julius, and he wished to proclaim him a god, to seal his importance and condemn his murderers. Therefore he called himself the son of a god. Julius himself didn’t do proclaim this.. he got killed simply for wearing purple robes (signifying royalty). I’m sure he would have if he got the chance, but he was pushing his luck. lol

  76. Lydia wrote:

    Knesset

    They barely matter. None of it effects policy. Even “leftist” Israeli Jews are compelled to be Zionists (even when they don’t want to).

  77. On a lighter note: Popular song in the Arab world..

    Abun D’bashmayo (the Our Father in Aramaic)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_tzlCFxlv8

    They don’t need missionaries. They just need help (not her particularly.. she’s actually in Germany).

    Even funnier is that I embraced Orthodoxy in America via the Antioch/Arab church. They do their own mission work here in the US 😀

  78. @ Lydia:

    It gets even more interesting with time. In discussing this I heard Amy-Jill Levine say basically so what if Jesus called God ‘Father’; ‘we call God father’. And also on you tube I say a rabbi saying to a Christian apologist that God has many sons, why do you focus on only one. And yes, God called Israel his firstborn.

    It has to be dealt with, though, because if the incarnation is not true then we might as well forget it all and quit worrying ourselves about it.

    And I guess we all know by now that this is one of the ‘differences’ between catholic and protestant, how they each actually react to the concept. It is possible for a protestant to believe and practice an ethical monotheism while functionally omitting the whole divine incarnation impact, though probably without realizing it.

  79. @ Mercy:
    I’ve listened to countless sermons by Bill Hybels and the rest of his team although I am not a member of the WCCC. The sermons have always affected me deeply and convicted me of sin. There has never been any cheap grace or “stay as you are”. Rather I have been challenged to change and grow. I don’t know the truth about these allegations, but even if they were true, I am grateful to God for the ministry of this church. For the grace of God there go I.

  80. Sorta OT but in relation SBC Voices is having a meltdown because Frank Page has “fallen” and they’re all brokenhearted for Frank Page. Notice not one mention of how this affects the other person or their family in all the offers for prayer. It’s the knee jerk response of guys like them to ignore the “Jezebel” and post lamentations that a great man has fallen.

  81. refugee wrote:

    Over 1,000 emails… that cannot even be dismissed as “business as usual” as there is no way of knowing what they contained. (I wonder if a computer expert could retrieve the content, and if so, if Hybels would be profusely thankful for the opportunity for transparency?) And more…

    If the e-mails cannot be recovered by Willow, they could be recovered by the woman to whom they were exchanges with. Hopefully she kept her copies, that would clear up a lot of suspicion.

  82. okrapod wrote:

    I got a dose of it in childhood until our church got a different pastor who actually thought there was more to Christianity that what we had been promulgating. Needless to say (a) the little church sprang into life and (b) some folks were none too happy about it.

    The greatest hindrance to genuine spiritual life flowing through a church is church people. When anyone gets a spark from Heaven, the rest of the bunch tries to put it out before it becomes a fire.

  83. The offer of counciling consisted of telling her to see a Christian councillor done over the telephone never in person.
    The group wanted a meeting to discuss their concerns and issues but would not share what those were prior to the meeting, so no meeting took place.
    The group estabilished a list of conditions for any investigation including their being the people to select the investigator, they alone would decide if something was inappropriate behavior and several other items which no one in their right mind would agree to.
    The woman who first came forward has completely recanted her original accusations yet this group refuses to believe the recanted email. Why?
    The Vonda Dyer story started as an unnamed person with an unspecified complaint to a full blow story in a short period of time.ms Dyer has refused to discuss this with anyone.
    Mr boz t. Hasn’t investigated anything yet knows there is a problem.
    The emails used to be kept on the server for 30 days before being deleted, after bills had been hacked the second time that was changed so that they are deleted within a few hours, some of his emails come from pastor all over the world and can be sensitive. Most of his email other people would call texts because they are short, one or two words.
    The woman who first made accusations was trying to get a job at the church and was never hired, in her retraction she stated she had given her life for the church and had gotten no recognition.
    To publish your stuff concluding that bill is guilty without all the facts does everyone a disservice.
    Yes bill got a standing ovation on Friday night

  84. When this news came out, a ‘friend’ on FB was whining about how people are talking about pastors doing bad things and we shouldn’t do that because it’s satan trying to tear down the church. I was livid, and saddened. This is the sort of attitude that drives churches to cover up misconduct and sinful behavior, actions that are the true evil.

  85. Rev wrote:

    Wow! What drove you to dig this deep into this story? Pastor Bill and Willow have been forthright and have had integrity through 4 years, 4 years, 4 years of pressure and accusations. This is a sad time in the life of the church. May God help us all.

    There was no integrity in Bill getting up in front of the church and angrily speaking about his reputation being tarnished. His reputation, of all things! I guess that shows where his heart is. What right does a Christian, much less one who presumes to be able to teach thousands each Sunday, to a reputation? Really kind of showed his colors there, what he’s concerned about.

    And this man, who gets on his yacht with his wife apparently in absentia, and passes the alcohol out at the parties, who goes privately to a woman’s hotel room, by his own admission, and sips wine with her? Then when he sits on the stage there, defending that tarnished reputation for unfaithfulness, doesn’t think to even have his wedding ring on? THAT guy’s worried about HIS reputation? Even if he never touched one of those women, even if all these people are telling lies, even if the three elders who resigned were just traitors, servants of hell, I know about all I need to know. His darned reputation. That’s a shame, and it’s a shame you don’t have any better sense so you didn’t just fall right in line behind him.

    May God help you.

  86. Right! If attendance goes down, so does tithing. I know what it takes to run a mega church b/c I worked for one. It is a corporation plain & simple. Their budget costs increase every year just like a company’s would. They HAVE to keep the steady income (tithes) coming in. Everyone up on that stage in those ‘Family Meetings’ is depending on a paycheck from Willow Creek (except for possibly the elders – not sure). Lydia wrote:

    @ Max:
    In mega churches the urge to squash even a hint of any sort of scandal is unbelievable. One reason is that people are really disconnected to the leaders who present themselves as BFF’s on stage and the leaders fear the place will half empty out. Most people give when they are there. So they need them to be there.
    Frankly, #metoo is cool now. It wasn’t cool in the late 90’s.

  87. I think what he wrote is painfully ironic in light of the current allegations.

    Wes wrote:

    Anna wrote:
    Sounds like a confession to me.
    So every wrongful act you discuss amounts to a confession that you have personally engaged in that wrongful act?

  88. Uppity Bimbo wrote:

    I suspect they’ve had a hard marriage but kept up appearances for the sake of ministry.

    So much ambition for ministry with so little invested in marriage, perhaps. Actually, this can happen in any profession. However, for pastors, when they promote themselves as marriage experts or teachers (like Andy Savage teaching about purity and marriage), it seems problematic, counter-productive. Their life results undermine their message, and it all becomes fake.

  89. Max wrote:

    As a side-note, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren carefully studied Robert Schuller’s church growth strategies. They were sort of “spiritual sons” of Schuller – together they have reshaped the evangelical landscape in America. Time will tell what their impact has been on American Christianity. Schuller’s empire collapsed … Hybels’ is on the verge.

    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Is this a symptom of the Dear Leader’s weakness that people now feel safe to discuss the past?
    It would be interesting to see Willow Creek’s books to know if they are in the red or the black?
    Church is kind of a one trick pony. Unlike a drug company or manufacturing there isn’t a whole lot of innovation. In fact, most churches want to take us back to antiquity. Most of the “forward” thinking involves us unbelievers roasting on an open fire.

  90. Linn wrote:

    I struggle with people either being stupid or naive–like counseling someone accusing you of harassment (Hybels) or asking for provocative pictures from an e-mail admirer (Ravi Z.). It’s like they don’t cover basic ethics in pastors’ school, or they think they are above it all.

    I think it often goes to the stratified pastorate, as it were, being the ones in charge and not ceding themselves to sufficient accountability, for numerous (but often common and repetitive) reasons.

  91. Jack wrote:

    Max wrote:

    As a side-note, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren carefully studied Robert Schuller’s church growth strategies. They were sort of “spiritual sons” of Schuller – together they have reshaped the evangelical landscape in America. Time will tell what their impact has been on American Christianity. Schuller’s empire collapsed … Hybels’ is on the verge.

    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Is this a symptom of the Dear Leader’s weakness that people now feel safe to discuss the past?
    It would be interesting to see Willow Creek’s books to know if they are in the red or the black?
    Church is kind of a one trick pony. Unlike a drug company or manufacturing there isn’t a whole lot of innovation. In fact, most churches want to take us back to antiquity. Most of the “forward” thinking involves us unbelievers roasting on an open fire.

    The church’s purpose is far more than 1.. and none of them are tricks or ponies. Eucharist, Baptism, Burial, Marriage, Ordination, Unction, etc.. In addition to other things that shape society. The Domestic church (i.e. Family), Holidays, Aid, counsel, politics..

    I pity any church that’s about one thing (Preaching). Let alone preaching from one dude (cult of personality).

    I don’t want you to burn, for one. And it’s not my business if you do or not. 🙂

  92. Seraph wrote:

    preaching from one dude (cult of personality)

    So how is it that the traditional Evangelical or Protestant church has basically had a Sunday worship scene of one pastor preaching, Sunday after Sunday, for maybe even decades?

  93. JYJames wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    preaching from one dude (cult of personality)

    So how is it that the traditional Evangelical or Protestant church has basically had a Sunday worship scene of one pastor preaching, Sunday after Sunday, for maybe even decades?

    Traditional Protestant worship did a little more than that (Lutherans/Anglicans/Presbyterians). At one point, some even went all out and created masterpiece symphonies (Bach, Handel). I think the ones who stripped it down to bare bones have the Anabaptist spirit (even if not outright Anabaptist). And America in particular modeled much of itself on Anabaptists, I think. Maybe it’s our sense of independence and removal from European culture. I don’t know.

    Outside of church, historical Protestants also did much good for the church’s presence by building hundreds of hospitals and world renown universities (they’re mostly secular now though).

  94. JYJames wrote:

    So how is it that the traditional Evangelical or Protestant church has basically had a Sunday worship scene of one pastor preaching, Sunday after Sunday, for maybe even decades?

    I was thinking today of starting a social club, where people can show up at a building, maybe weekly, and after a warmup band plays, they’ll all listen to me talk and tell stories, for 45 minutes, or maybe an hour. Maybe I’ll toss in a verse here and there to validate what I’m saying.

    That’s what evangelical church in the western world has become. And we wonder why it attracts NPDs to the ministry like flies.

    Watching different services on Facebook Live, I’m struck at how different liturgical services still are. The center of the service is the Eucharist, or the creed. The preach is pretty short, 15-20 minutes tops, and not the central attraction. Which is what I’m accustomed to, with my Anglican roots.

    The church started at a meal around a table, and continued around a table for a couple of centuries. Then the table moved to the stage, and the meal became a sort of drama. Then we added lecterns off to the sides, with a sort of table in front. And now the table is gone, replaced by a plexiglass pulpit in front of a rock band.

    The Willow Creek situation is so sad. And unexpected.

  95. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    The church started at a meal around a table, and continued around a table for a couple of centuries. Then the table moved to the stage, and the meal became a sort of drama. Then we added lecterns off to the sides, with a sort of table in front. And now the table is gone, replaced by a plexiglass pulpit in front of a rock band.

    I always thought that table up front, with various colored decor for Advent, Lent, etc., was a symbolic “altar” as a reminder of the OT sacrifices and the NT sacrifice of Jesus. But what do I know…

  96. @ dee:
    On Thursday & Friday, Willow posted a video of Hybles reading the (legal) statement that is now posted on their website. He accused his accusers of an orchestrated attempt to prevent him from retiring in good standing, or something like that. Apparently the Elder’s heard about a “whisper campaign” whose goal was to hurt or tarnish Hybels image before he retires. (It looked and sounded like paranoia.) Hybels accused these “non-members” of “collusion” against him and a “campaign” against him before he retires. I’m sorry to write that both Hybels & Orr seemed a bit devasted and emotionally unhindged in these recordings. Their videos were filled with these ridiculous conspiracy theories, stress and anger. For his sake, I’m glad WC removed the video, and I hope he takes early retirement so that everyone, including his family, can get rest, help and healing. The church does not need any more casualties in this WC war. (Andy Crouch published his thoughts on the Together for the Gospel website.) I don’t think Hybels’ understands his behavior and why should he? The WC Elders have repeatedly inforced the narrative that Hybles’ behavior always has been AND ALWAYS WILL BE, above reproach. He told the Tribune that either Dryer? or Beach? (my apologies for the mix up) should have told him (Hybels) how she felt. He implied that SHE failed as a leader by not speaking coming to him. The Tribune even contacted the members of an (ancient) women’s small group to corraborate 1 woman’s story. Good for the woman! She told her small group about the incident. Bad on Willow for not providing a safe place for a group leader to report the incident. If only Hybels had taken the meeting with his 4 friends who had nothing but love for him aND for Willow. If only the Elders would have taken the wise counsel about the need for an independent investigation. One of the strangest things about the (now scrubbed) Hybels video and the (now scrubbed) Orr video:1) ORR emphatically stated that Hybels’ job will NOT be impacted by these allegations. 2) HYBELS agreed to seek God, BUT he WILL NEVER STOP meeting with, mentoring, coaching the women on his leadership team. Although this is not a direct quote, he implied that he would NOT be stepping down or away, nor would he make any adjustments to his managerial leadership style. UNBELIEVABLE and a CRY FOR HELP. Much prayer for the Willow Leadership: soooo much fear, denial & anger. And may I humbly say, pride. They are devastatingly out of touch. Much Prayer people. Please pray.

  97. Seraph wrote:

    Also, many Arabs speak a dialect that shares many Aramaic roots. Talk about being close to Jesus! Just like Egyptians speak a Coptic dialect of Arab. These were once the oldest Christian communities.

    I think you have a few things slightly confused. Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew are all Semitic languages (a subgroup of the larger Afro-Asiatic language family). Arabic which has multiple dialects is a Central Semitic language. Aramaic and Hebrew are Northwest Semitic languages. Coptic is an Afro-Asiatic language but not in the Semitic subgroup. Also Coptic is used as a liturgical language by Coptic Christians but is no longer a birth tongue (much like Latin though even Church Latin has changed from Classical Latin). Various dialects of Aramaic are still spoken though given 2000 years of change the current dialects (less so for those used liturgically) are likely quite different from the dialects of Jesus’s time (just as the various modern Arabic dialects are quite different from the Classical Arabic of the Qur’an).

    There are a lot of cognates among the Semitic languages (e.g., Hebrew Shalom/Arabic Salaam) and given the geographic proximity, words were and are borrowed back and forth between Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, and Coptic.

  98. Jbw wrote:

    The offer of counciling consisted of telling her to see a Christian councillor done over the telephone never in person.
    The group wanted a meeting to discuss their concerns and issues but would not share what those were prior to the meeting, so no meeting took place.
    The group estabilished a list of conditions for any investigation including their being the people to select the investigator, they alone would decide if something was inappropriate behavior and several other items which no one in their right mind would agree to.
    The woman who first came forward has completely recanted her original accusations yet this group refuses to believe the recanted email. Why?
    The Vonda Dyer story started as an unnamed person with an unspecified complaint to a full blow story in a short period of time.ms Dyer has refused to discuss this with anyone.
    Mr boz t. Hasn’t investigated anything yet knows there is a problem.
    The emails used to be kept on the server for 30 days before being deleted, after bills had been hacked the second time that was changed so that they are deleted within a few hours, some of his emails come from pastor all over the world and can be sensitive. Most of his email other people would call texts because they are short, one or two words.
    The woman who first made accusations was trying to get a job at the church and was never hired, in her retraction she stated she had given her life for the church and had gotten no recognition.
    To publish your stuff concluding that bill is guilty without all the facts does everyone a disservice.
    Yes bill got a standing ovation on Friday night

    If what you say is true, then why not have an independent investigation to clear it all up? I see no humility from Bill/the church at all. It is no small thing for two board members to resign and four longtime friends to become estranged.

    It doesn’t happen over nothing.

  99. The law firm Willow Creek hired for their “independent” investigation states on their ‘about us’ page: “Our mission is to be the premier law firm concentrating exclusively in the representation of employers in labor relations, employment litigation, employee benefits and business immigration.”

    Think about that. That means Jeffrey Fowler’s entire worldview is shaped by a life of day in, day out, thinking about protecting big organisations in their litigation and relations with their current and former employees.

    Nuts.

    http://www.lanermuchin.com/about

  100. @ Andrew Jones:
    Jbw wrote:

    The emails used to be kept on the server for 30 days before being deleted, after bills had been hacked the second time that was changed so that they are deleted within a few hours, some of his emails come from pastor all over the world and can be sensitive. Most of his email other people would call texts because they are short, one or two words.

    Now THAT I’d call fishy. All mails are deleted from the server within a few hours after they have arrived, or been read? Who does that? That makes it really difficult to return to previous conversations, to do any kind of follow-up.

    Even if Bill H’s comuter was “hacked” twice: Normally you would at least expect to have an archived copy of all emails on a different computer.

    And what does “hacked” even mean here: either he had a trojan infection on his machine which would imply careless configuration and/or behaviour, or someone “hacked” into his Email account by guessing his password, something which can be easily avoided by choosing better passwords. An organisation the size of WC surely has a professional to set things ip correctly and explain good practices to BH. Even a Windows computer can be uaed pretty safely these days.

    With email deletion policies of just a few hours this feels like the equivalent of using your browser in “private” mode all the time to avoid creating a browser history. And no one can recreate what you’ve been up to.

  101. Gus wrote:

    An organisation the size of WC surely has a professional to set things up correctly and explain good practices to [the head pastor].

    But then again, maybe he is, like many such men, a know-it-all and expert in all things, and completely unteachable. What do I know?

  102. Seraph wrote:

    I pity any church that’s about one thing (Preaching). Let alone preaching from one dude (cult of personality).

    I don’t want you to burn, for one. And it’s not my business if you do or not.

    My wife went to seeker sensitive church when she first came to Canada. It was the same message every Sunday. Give cheerfully & have faith. She didn’t stay. The church is still prosperous but has seemed to reach the size of it’s goldfish bowl.
    I’ve heard of some megas collapsing (in addition to the Schuller empire) so it’s possible that some of what we’re seeing are cracks that are symptoms of a deeper issue. When there are no obvious successors to personality that is the face of the church then it may sputter out or fracture. This can happen to countries as well. Look at the former Yugoslavia.
    Anyway, that’s what I was meaning by the one trick pony. When you run out of seekers, growth stops and cash flow ceases to grow as well, but expenses keep growing.

    It’ll be interesting to see where it all goes.

    The burning comment came from a church experience where the pastor seemed to really find joy in the destruction of creation. Made God sound like a kid angry with his Lego set.

  103. Jack wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    I pity any church that’s about one thing (Preaching). Let alone preaching from one dude (cult of personality).

    I don’t want you to burn, for one. And it’s not my business if you do or not.

    My wife went to seeker sensitive church when she first came to Canada. It was the same message every Sunday. Give cheerfully & have faith. She didn’t stay. The church is still prosperous but has seemed to reach the size of it’s goldfish bowl.
    I’ve heard of some megas collapsing (in addition to the Schuller empire) so it’s possible that some of what we’re seeing are cracks that are symptoms of a deeper issue. When there are no obvious successors to personality that is the face of the church then it may sputter out or fracture. This can happen to countries as well. Look at the former Yugoslavia.
    Anyway, that’s what I was meaning by the one trick pony. When you run out of seekers, growth stops and cash flow ceases to grow as well, but expenses keep growing.

    It’ll be interesting to see where it all goes.

    The burning comment came from a church experience where the pastor seemed to really find joy in the destruction of creation. Made God sound like a kid angry with his Lego set.

    Ah that makes sense (what you explained about one trick ponies). Sorry for veering too off topic.

    Erp wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    Also, many Arabs speak a dialect that shares many Aramaic roots. Talk about being close to Jesus! Just like Egyptians speak a Coptic dialect of Arab. These were once the oldest Christian communities.

    I think you have a few things slightly confused. Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew are all Semitic languages (a subgroup of the larger Afro-Asiatic language family). Arabic which has multiple dialects is a Central Semitic language. Aramaic and Hebrew are Northwest Semitic languages. Coptic is an Afro-Asiatic language but not in the Semitic subgroup. Also Coptic is used as a liturgical language by Coptic Christians but is no longer a birth tongue (much like Latin though even Church Latin has changed from Classical Latin). Various dialects of Aramaic are still spoken though given 2000 years of change the current dialects (less so for those used liturgically) are likely quite different from the dialects of Jesus’s time (just as the various modern Arabic dialects are quite different from the Classical Arabic of the Qur’an).

    There are a lot of cognates among the Semitic languages (e.g., Hebrew Shalom/Arabic Salaam) and given the geographic proximity, words were and are borrowed back and forth between Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, and Coptic.

    What I meant is that the Arabic that the Egyptians speak still has Coptic loan words and dialect, despite being speaking a Semitic language now. My point is that old things never truly die. 🙂

    That was just an aside though. I agree on the last bit you said especially. Sorry for any misunderstanding. I’m just saying that Old Syriac speaking liturgy can recite the Lord’s prayer and an Aramaic scholar can make it out.

    My overall point is that these people are the last ones who need a missionary. Allow me to rant a bit (sorry!). They definitely need love and aid from Christian brethren, but they don’t need the gospel in some new way that they already have. Especially from Westerners, who in these modern times sometimes even voted for a politician who bombed them out of their homes. Or caused some “Arab Spring” that went belly up and brought hell on earth. And before that, I think most missionary efforts were just Imperialism wrapped in a guise anyways. Where Europeans thought anyone not “civilized” and white enough somehow didn’t know Christ. The “best” efforts were purely Protestant driven, thinking these people just didn’t get the right Gospel. Instead of rejoicing in newfound family, they caused more trouble. The presence of the Anglicans and Lutherans in the Holy Land or Ethiopia is one glaring example. Ethiopia! The first place the Gospel traveled outside Judea.

    Bible translations are another thing that makes me scratch my head. It’s hard to even find an Arabic bible now without it being the “Van Dyck” American Bible Society version. These people already had scriptures when Europeans who running around the woods worshiping deer skulls. And they had them later, with some Christians transmitting Arab texts during Moorish rule in Portugal and Spain. Then when those were liberated, Catholics finished complete canons by the 1700s. But no… everyone’s gotta reinvent the wheel for all the primitives who don’t know anything.

    Anyways. /rant off

  104. Sigh. Sorry if that sounded too negative. I just think better missionary work would involve building more infrastructure… and preaching to one’s own countrymen to not be such destructive fools who cause problems in these places via secular means (corporate and military abuse).

    There are even worse violations to rant about though. The most ridiculous is seeing a Greek copy of the New World translation (Jehovah’s Witnesses). Apparently the Septuagint and the autographed New Testament simply wasn’t “original” enough. 😛

  105. Seraph wrote:

    Bible translations are another thing that makes me scratch my head. It’s hard to even find an Arabic bible now without it being the “Van Dyck” American Bible Society version. These people already had scriptures when Europeans who running around the woods worshiping deer skulls.

    Lol. So true.

  106. @ Law Prof:
    Oh, it’s really “legacy”. They can afford the best gurus for reputation brand management. It’s legacy they worry about.

    And his biggest problem is other well-heeled important people are no longer on his side. That is a legacy problem.

    I am so glad to be out of that world. Hollow. Empty.

  107. @ okrapod:
    I am coming at it from a totally different perspective. Why did Jesus refer to himself as the Son of God when He was God In the Flesh? I am not anti Trinity, just to clear that up. And even more confusing we are still monotheists even though God manifests Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Unity.

    It’s one of those things that’s very uncomfortable for many Christians to talk about. And accusations of blasphemy and heretic abound. I have to admit I never gave any of it a second thought until I started digging deep into ESS. It only made me realize just how incredible Yahweh is.

  108. @ Seraph:
    I just thought it might be food for thought since other religious state Nations don’t allow such a thing. Oh well.

  109. @ Rich R. Correll:
    There is nothing “individual” about #metoo. It has a group hashtag for crying out loud. And that will eventually be a big problem for real victims.

    One of the big problems in these situations is a lot of people think the rich bigwigs at the top are totally blameless no matter what. Frankly very few pew sitters actually know them. Since other big-hitters are involved my guess is either it’s true or they want Hybels to move on out completely. How these megas operate at the top echelons of power is a lot like commercial business without the labor laws or taxes.

  110. Lynn wrote:

    Some good points are made here….https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2018/march/chicago-megachurch-caught-in-swirl-of-accusations-against-founder

    From the article:

    “When boards are are beholden to founders; when elders allow it to be publicly said that ‘no one person can replace’ a senior pastor’; when information systems can yield the number of emails exchanged between a senior leader and a given person but somehow the content is not recoverable — none of this means that any malfeasance has been committed; but, it does mean that the sheer gravitational pull of those charismatic figures has nullified the institution’s ability to protect itself, and indeed its leader, from both legitimate and falsified allegations of misconduct.” (Andy Crouch)

    Therein, lies the danger of celebrity culture in evangelicalism. Wherever a cult of personality is set up, you can be assured that devoted followers will do everything they can to protect the leader and the brand. In such systems, the “gravitational pull” eventually hits bottom.

  111. Lydia wrote:

    @ okrapod:
    I am coming at it from a totally different perspective. Why did Jesus refer to himself as the Son of God when He was God In the Flesh? I am not anti Trinity, just to clear that up. And even more confusing we are still monotheists even though God manifests Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Unity.

    It’s one of those things that’s very uncomfortable for many Christians to talk about. And accusations of blasphemy and heretic abound. I have to admit I never gave any of it a second thought until I started digging deep into ESS. It only made me realize just how incredible Yahweh is.

    I know that wasn’t addressed to me, but since it’s morning, and I’m perked up, allow me to offer something. 🙂

    “No one has seen the Father”, according to Jesus. And no one still sees him, except through the Son. The Father has never has manifested except through his Son.

    Why, pray tell, did Moses apparently see God the Father then?

    Because he didn’t. Moses saw the “Angel of the Lord”. And the Angel of the Lord that came to the tabernacle, and that Moses saw in the Burning Bush was God the Son.. And entirely different than the other angels. “Angel” simply means “messenger”, but this particular messenger never spoke as one of them. He spoke of God in the first person. He told Moses explicitly “I am that I am. I am the God of your fathers.”

    And millenia later, Jesus himself said “I am”. “And if you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me.”

    Who was the God of “your fathers”? Remember when Abraham met three men and he spoke to one of them as God? In the passage, God announced Isaac’s birth and Sarah laughed. Then two went ahead to Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham stayed back, trying to talk the last “man” into not destroying the cities. This “man” spoke in the first person as God. He didn’t relay messages. He was God himself. This was the same as the one who Moses met.

    How can it all be the Son if Jesus only came in the Incarnation?

    Because the Incarnation was just that. An incarnation.. God in the flesh. These previous manifestations were not flesh.. But God the Son always existed. He didn’t merely start existing as Jesus of Nazareth. As John the Baptist said: “The One who is coming after me is greater than me… for he was before me.”

    Break down the word Angel again. “Messenger”. What did the Apostle John call Jesus in his Gospel? “In the beginning was the Word”. The Word = Logos. John was using Greek philosophical terminology for his readers, where Logos meant the divine force pervading through all of nature and gives it being. John was equating Jesus with “word” of God that brought life into being. “The let there be light!” in Genesis.

    And what are words but the essence of our being? Can you seperate your words from your self? Can I? I don’t think so. They are one and the same. So it is with the Father and Son.

    Secondly, you could say that “words” are the “messengers” spread into the external world to represent ourselves. So it is with the Word and “Angel of the Lord”.

  112. Lydia wrote:

    @ Seraph:
    I just thought it might be food for thought since other religious state Nations don’t allow such a thing. Oh well.

    I’m sorry.. I’m a little confused on what you were replying to here?

  113. JYJames wrote:

    I always thought that table up front, with various colored decor for Advent, Lent, etc., was a symbolic “altar” as a reminder of the OT sacrifices and the NT sacrifice of Jesus. But what do I know…

    You know a lot! The table became an altar, at about the time leaders became priests and the meal was dramatized. There was a long process where the NT church was looking at the OT scriptures, and trying to figure out what to do with them. So OT elements were incorporated into NT worship.

    I’m not sure how this relates to Willow Creek. Except… I visited WC once, with a friend. I was struck by the design of the building. Very modern, no altar, and a big window overlooking a field. We went to the Saturday night service, which was a copy of the Sunday services, and it was creative. Afterwards, we went to another single’s house, where a fairly large group usually played cards and watched TV. It was such a good idea, so helpful for singles who struggle with being home alone on a Saturday night. Then on Sunday morning, we went water skiing. Perfect.

    I also recall that they were building a new chapel at WC, for which the money had already been raised. What a concept. So I have good memories of WC, which makes the current situation… just sad. They had some good ideas, and seemed more creative. Tragic that the same personal dysfunction may have been working in the leadership.

  114. The church didn’t exactly start at a meal around the table. The word liturgy (and it’s related words) is used in the NT. Like in the book of Acts (13), where they were in worship/”liturgy” (leitourgountōn) at the church in Antioch — praying and fasting (not eating a meal), when the Spirit called them to lay hands on Paul and Barnabas to bless their mission to the Gentiles. This seems a bit more formal than suppertime…coupled with an ordination for a new Apostle in one passage. And even when Paul had a vision, he still went through this process. If they were all so casual, I don’t see why he’d do that.

    Not to mention that James set up the first main worship site at the Temple in Jerusalem.. and where they held the first Council. And where he was subsequently killed too.

    Also, they were Jews who already came from a strong liturgical tradition (hence why James was at the Temple). Have you ever read the book of Leviticus? It’s pretty…umm…exacting. I don’t think Jews just go belly up and throw it all out right away. Instead, we see Christians trying to engage their Jewish brothers. They wouldn’t give other Jews even more reason to hate them. They also came into synagogues and tried to share the space.. until the rabbis finally and formally kicked them out. This is where house churches became the primary means.. but even these were converted into formal places of worship, if the ruins of Dura (early 200s AD) is any indication. These were houses that were cleared out, possibly giving as donations and no longer living spaces, and had center worship places and baptismal fonts in other rooms.

  115. Seraph wrote:

    The church didn’t exactly start at a meal around the table.

    I guess I was thinking more of the last supper, which was a repurposed Passover meal. And I get your point about the Temple, but that was a temporary arrangement, and unique to Jerusalem.

    I have met people in the “House Church” movement who are adamant that the NT church met ONLY in homes, and so must we. That’s always seemed dogmatic to me. And as you pointed out, the early church was far more flexible about where they met, way before Constantine.

    I was thinking more architecturally. From what I’ve read, the early church was known for having “love feasts,” which were actual meals that incorporated the bread and wine into a Last Supper memorial, and which probably developed into some liturgical form. But I don’t know of any examples of actual altars, like the one in my Anglican church. That started about the time the table and the meals went away.

    Which is about the same time that the priesthood became a respectable profession, which may be part of our current issue.

  116. As another commenter so wisely said, may God forgive me if I’m wrong, but I thought the clearest “tell” from Hybels was this quote in the original Tribune article:

    “I don’t talk about women’s appendages. But there was chatter mostly from other women around (Beach), and I probably said people say they wish they could wear the same outfits you do. That it got brought up as potentially something sexual is maddening.”

    “I probably said” sounds like the kind of hedging someone does when they are lying. Either way, to say “people say they wish they could wear the same outfits you do” is TOTALLY inappropriate in this context!

  117. Lydia wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    Oh, it’s really “legacy”. They can afford the best gurus for reputation brand management.

    And the Be$t Attorney$ to bully and silence anyone who might damage their Brand.

  118. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    I have met people in the “House Church” movement who are adamant that the NT church met ONLY in homes, and so must we. That’s always seemed dogmatic to me

    And with no outside reality check, a lot of these House Churches can drift through “everyone’s out-of-step except ME” into Cult territory. JMJ/Christian Monist had to bail out of at least one House Church that was going that route.

  119. Seraph wrote:

    What I meant is that the Arabic that the Egyptians speak still has Coptic loan words and dialect, despite being speaking a Semitic language now. My point is that old things never truly die.

    Given I live in a “Del Norte” border region where the local English and Spanish loan words to each other all the time (never mind true “Spanglish”…)

  120. Seraph wrote:

    My overall point is that these people are the last ones who need a missionary.

    Don’t you know that (just like yourself) they’re not REAL Born-Again Bible-Believing Christians(TM)!

    They have never walked forward at an Altar Call(TM) to Say the Sinner’s Prayer(TM) and get their Fire Insurance — why, they don’t even believe in The Rapture(TM)!

  121. Max wrote:

    Bill Hybels and Rick Warren carefully studied Robert Schuller’s church growth strategies. They were sort of “spiritual sons” of Schuller – together they have reshaped the evangelical landscape in America. Time will tell what their impact has been on American Christianity. Schuller’s empire collapsed …

    And my RCC Diocese reaped the benefits when the Crystal Cathedral went on the bankruptcy auction block.

    What really gets me is Schuller was still alive when this happened — his heirs didn’t even wait for him to kick off before they ran his life’s work into the ground.

  122. There are a certain group of people who think ministers are ” God’s ” and it makes them a celebrity. We have got to tell the girls ( and boys) these preachers are human and just people like everyone else. The sins of a carnal nature have always been hidden by the church no matter the denomination. We’ve got to come up with a way to protect youth, females, heck men from these who prey on their flocks.
    BTW: Coming from Portrush, Northern Ireland…. You must visit Ireland!

  123. Lydia wrote:

    Frankly, #metoo is cool now. It wasn’t cool in the late 90’s.

    And KEWL and Trending means we now have to keep an eye out for false accusations and fake victims jumping on the bandwagon, discrediting the real victims.

  124. Dave wrote:

    I am quite surprised to hear that Bill Hybels said he was offering counseling to anyone at Willow Creek – especially for the woman at the center of the inquiry.

    You’re surprised, I’m suspicious.
    Given all the sex scandals these CELEBRITY Head Pastors seem to get themselves into…

  125. Seraph wrote:

    Yet they still deny the Son’s relationship, even while acknowledging this. Because they can’t get past the concept of Son = Sex. It’s weird, I know…

    Westerners are not the only culture who are sexually messed up.

  126. Seraph wrote:

    I think the West would better serve Christians in the Arab world by not supporting Zionism and siding with the very people who are chasing them out of their homes.

    But then how can We Fulfill End Time Prophecy and jump-start Armageddon if Israel isn’t in The Land doing God’s Will?

    (Survivor of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and its corollary “Christians For Nuclear War” here…)

  127. anon in the EFCA wrote:

    Maybe this is Hybel’s issue–he does not define these other things (emotion-filled embrace, goodnight pecks, etc.) as an “affair.”

    Only Tab A in Slot B?

    “I did not know her in a Biblical sense.”
    — Doug “Little Lord Fauntleroy” Phillips ESQUIRE

  128. Law Prof wrote:

    I’m a freak with a very high libido and a very shaky grasp sometimes on doing the right thing—but yet I’ve been married for almost 30 years and never had an affair, never pursued a too-close relationship with a woman other than my wife. I’m not some paragon of virtue, either, it’s just that I have some fear of God and love my wife. We’ve been through so much together, forgiven so much, grown up together. She’s more beautiful to me now than she was that day in ’84 when I looked over at her at the football field and really noticed the curve of her face for the first time. If you keep putting time into your relationship you get closer over time and your partner becomes more beautiful.

    You said it right there….

    I’m no loaf of Wonder Bread of greatness either…trust me AND ask my wife. But I can say the same thing for 37 years. I travel a lot, Diamond HH member. For some reason from the start I made it a non-negotiable thing. It’s sounds like I did something great and noble, it’s wasn’t. You will probably never see this mug as father/husband of the year… but this can be a baseline decision.

    And may I add… I fear my wife also. God and my wife both love me to no end, and because of that I fear them.

    1 COR 14:32…. The spirit of the prophet is subject to prophet.

    I’m not getting into weirdness here but the Bible does speak of “familiar spirits” and I take that at it’s base along with the scripture above… if one is looking for it you will find something/someone.

  129. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I watched it happen after the lawyers and insurance companies took over the sexual harrasment industry. Surel enough, it became all about the well-heeled high-paid professionals and NOT the lowly clerks it was meant to help.

  130. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    I’m not sure how this relates to Willow Creek. Except…

    Moral disruption raises questions about going to church to worship together, like what are we actually doing, where did this all come from, how did we get here, and why?

    History explains what is happening in churches now. To be honest, having been brought up in a church, it’s easy not to question or ask questions until something goes wrong. But possibly the problem was there all along.

  131. Seraph wrote:

    They are one and the same. So it is with the Father and Son.

    Totally agree. Just didn’t say it as well as you did. 🙂

  132. Jack wrote:

    In fact, most churches want to take us back to antiquity. Most of the “forward” thinking involves us unbelievers roasting on an open fire.

    Glad you said most and not all. In many of the circles you’ve cited, forward thinking believers are also branded heretic and destined to roast on an open fire.

  133. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    The table became an altar, at about the time leaders became priests and the meal was dramatized. There was a long process where the NT church was looking at the OT scriptures, and trying to figure out what to do with them. So OT elements were incorporated into NT worship.

    I learned recently that this process was in place by the end of the first century AD. 1st Clement and the seven letters of Ignatius show that bishops, priests, liturgical worship, and sacraments were well established much earlier than what we Protestants are taught. I have not been able to find any evidence that these things were not already in place while the original Apostles were still alive. If the Protestant narrative is true there should be some kind of historical evidence for it.

  134. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And with no outside reality check, a lot of these House Churches can drift through “everyone’s out-of-step except ME” into Cult territory.

    This is very true. The arrogance of “we’re doing it right and everyone else is wrong” seems common. And that’s not the only source of weirdness. A relative of mine was going to a very successful house church of about 100 people. [It was a pretty big house.] Then the de facto leader started heading in the direction of IHOP, and things got weird.

    I’m also influenced by IHOP… The one with pancakes.

  135. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    If the Protestant narrative is true there should be some kind of historical evidence for it.

    Well that’s interesting. I’ll have to read some Clement and Iggy. Keep in mind that I’m an amateur theologian, and an even more amateur historian.

  136. Lydia wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    They are one and the same. So it is with the Father and Son.

    Totally agree. Just didn’t say it as well as you did.

    Thanks for listening. It was partly the morning coffee in me too 😛

  137. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    I think the West would better serve Christians in the Arab world by not supporting Zionism and siding with the very people who are chasing them out of their homes.

    But then how can We Fulfill End Time Prophecy and jump-start Armageddon if Israel isn’t in The Land doing God’s Will?

    (Survivor of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and its corollary “Christians For Nuclear War” here…)

    Heh.. I sympathize. My Grandma.. bless her heart.. sent me some Hal Lindsey books when I first embraced Christ.

  138. Seraph wrote:

    Pretty sad all around. Not judging, but I don’t understand how these stories keep popping up. This is why my only conclusion is that some people are actually atheists..hence they have no fear of God (and thus, no wisdom either). You can’t fear what you don’t believe. And you don’t cut off the right hand when you actually value that hand.

    But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m just some freak with a low libido.

    Please stop equating atheists with no morals. Chritstians, as they have shown time and again, have no legs to stand on when claiming a higher moral ground than followers of other religions and those of us who are non-believers. Religion doesn’t have the patent on decency and empathy – these are inate human traits that can be nutured and nourished in anyone. So too can abusive and predatory behavior be found in anyone – believing in a particular flavor of a religion doesn’t make you immune from turning out that way, much as you may want to claim different.

    In other words, clean out the junk in your own backyard before you start pointing fingers at the trash that may be in mine.

  139. Muff Potter wrote:

    Glad you said most and not all. In many of the circles you’ve cited, forward thinking believers are also branded heretic and destined to roast on an open fire

    I checked out the Willow Creek website. After you choose your campus the next step is to find a place to volunteer. Now I did read a book recently about a woman who left a fundamentalist Baptist group and found sanctuary at Willow Creek. I have no doubt that there are good people there but it appears that there is an expectation bordering on pressure to find your place in the community.

    I have activities with the kids, my wife and I work full time (she works shifts so there are weeks where we really don’t talk to each other a lot), I volunteer with our child care centre. For our family Willow Creek would take up what little family time we get.

    I’m speaking from experience but even at my wife’s church I noticed that the women’s bible study is scheduled during the day during weekdays (around 0900) Men have two bible study sessions during the week, one at 0700 and one around 1900 so obviously greater flexibility. Her church is associated with Assemblies of God and is not complementarian.

    I didn’t delve into Willow Creek that much but as I mentioned, even in Chicago, I’m sure any church will reach a saturation point where everyone from the area who is interested is there. Everyone has their place, men’s groups, women’s groups, singles groups, etc.

    Seraph stated that the singles meetings were great – cards, water activities, camaraderie. But there is no such thing as a free lunch and these activities sound like a form of love bombing. Eventually you will be expected to give back, in time and/or money.

    Now you would say “What’s wrong with that?” – Well one red flag is the ‘Willow Creek can help you with your problems’ schtick. This may be innocuous but combine a vulnerable person, or family and boom you’ve got ready made true believers – and volunteers and tithers. Otherwise they lose that loving feeling.

    I probably would have given Willow Creek a miss even when I was a Christian.

    The Hybels situation really has the feel of an empire in decline about it.

  140. cookingwithdogs wrote:

    Please stop equating atheists with no morals. Chritstians, as they have shown time and again, have no legs to stand on when claiming a higher moral ground than followers of other religions and those of us who are non-believers. Religion doesn’t have the patent on decency and empathy – these are inate human traits that can be nutured and nourished in anyone. So too can abusive and predatory behavior be found in anyone – believing in a particular flavor of a religion doesn’t make you immune from turning out that way, much as you may want to claim different.

    Well put. People are people. Certainly many of the churches discussed here have more in common with dictatorships than the liberal democracies many of us take for granted.

  141. Jack wrote:

    I’m speaking from experience but even at my wife’s church I noticed that the women’s bible study is scheduled during the day during weekdays (around 0900) Men have two bible study sessions during the week, one at 0700 and one around 1900 so obviously greater flexibility. Her church is associated with Assemblies of God and is not complementarian.

    That used to drive me crazy at the church I used to go to. Every month, the women’s leader would ask me why I didn’t come to the women’s group and every month I told her it was because it was during the daytime and I worked. That church was a bit unclear on their stance on complentarianism-they had female “directors”in coed Bible teaching positions, but were SBC so pretended like they were comp to their larger TV audience.

    AoG had gone New Cal hyper-comp where I live, so I’d watch out for secret takeovers. One of my former classmates is the pastor of the AoG church here and a big Piper fan.

  142. cookingwithdogs wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    Pretty sad all around. Not judging, but I don’t understand how these stories keep popping up. This is why my only conclusion is that some people are actually atheists..hence they have no fear of God (and thus, no wisdom either). You can’t fear what you don’t believe. And you don’t cut off the right hand when you actually value that hand.

    But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m just some freak with a low libido.

    Please stop equating atheists with no morals. Chritstians, as they have shown time and again, have no legs to stand on when claiming a higher moral ground than followers of other religions and those of us who are non-believers. Religion doesn’t have the patent on decency and empathy – these are inate human traits that can be nutured and nourished in anyone. So too can abusive and predatory behavior be found in anyone – believing in a particular flavor of a religion doesn’t make you immune from turning out that way, much as you may want to claim different.

    In other words, clean out the junk in your own backyard before you start pointing fingers at the trash that may be in mine.

    These aren’t people in my own backyard. If you’ve paid attention to anything I say, I’ve distanced myself with a lot of Christianity in the past thousand years. Just how far back do I have to go for me to acknowledge some kind of relation to them? That’s like telling me I’m guilty for what some stone age murderer did.. because I share the same genes. I may as well be guilty of everything a Sunni terrorist does too.. because he’s a monotheist.

    Anyhow, my main point is that those Christians that are obviously corrupt aren’t Christians. Just because I said they’re atheists doesn’t mean all atheists are like this. In fact, I think they’re better atheists than average. They’ve completely embraced nihilism. Every other atheists who’s being fair and civil is simply grasping for some sense of order, without justification. But these guys just flaunt their lack of worldview. The actual criminals, con-men, gluttons and the greed prone – these are the true “believers”, fully committed to nothing but their own idea of temporary existence and pleasure.

  143. Seraph wrote:

    In fact, I think they’re better atheists than average. They’ve completely embraced nihilism. Every other atheists who’s being fair and civil is simply grasping for some sense of order, without justification. But these guys just flaunt their lack of worldview.

    Actually, Seraph, there is a difference between Atheism and Nihilism.

    As Chesterton put it, “the difference between not believing in anything and believing in Nothing.”

  144. Jack wrote:

    Well put. People are people. Certainly many of the churches discussed here have more in common with dictatorships than the liberal democracies many of us take for granted.

    Which is why I gave these guys the title “Pastor-Dictator”.

  145. Max wrote:

    New Calvinism borrowed this method from Hybels, but repackaged it as “culturally-relevant.”

    This is exactly right (in my judgment). “Calvinism” became the doctrine du jour, taking the most marketable elements from the church growth movement and combining them with (what comes off as) a more serious commitment to the Scriptures. It has proved far more powerful than theonomy/Christian reconstruction, which has always held an appeal to young and more thoughtful men who are in a formative period of Christian growth.

    I don’t like the term “Calvinist,” even though–by its traditional definition–I am one. I pop up on WW once in a while to remind its readers that “Calvinism” and “Reformed Theology” are not synonyms (and John Piper is NOT a Reformed theologian!). Genuine Reformed theology looks skeptically on anything that has a marketing strategy driving it and depends on an individual, charismatic (lower case ‘c’) leader. This explains why “Lig” (to his buddies) drives me up the wall. He of all the T$G (oops–I held down the shift key) T4G pals should know that he is not serving the long-term interests of the Reformed faith.

  146. @ ishy:
    I used to get the same thing from a church I attended 25 years ago; a church, by the way, that was helping with my support with a local ministry.
    Sister X: Why don’t you ever make it to any of our activities?
    Me: Don’t you remember…I serve with __________Ministry, and my hours are daytime, with the occasional evening and weekend.

    I would have this same conversation a couple of times a month, and it drove me nuts! I did attend an evening women’s study, but it was at another church because my church thought we were all stay-at-home moms or retired.

  147. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    In fact, I think they’re better atheists than average. They’ve completely embraced nihilism. Every other atheists who’s being fair and civil is simply grasping for some sense of order, without justification. But these guys just flaunt their lack of worldview.

    Actually, Seraph, there is a difference between Atheism and Nihilism.

    As Chesterton put it, “the difference between not believing in anything and believing in Nothing.”

    Well, that’s something to make me stop and think. Honestly.

    I’ve haven’t read much Chesterton, but he always seems pretty astute.

  148. I’ve been blessed I guess. Everywhere I’ve lived women’s Bible studies ARE offered both daytime for the older ladies, stay at home mom’s, etc AND in an evening session for those who find that a better fit. Many nurses, etc, chose the daytime session if they worked nights.

    Of course we have always had a few in both sessions who thought it would be better if all the gals came to the session they had chosen. (SAHM’s who felt the employed outside the home gals could make it if they wanted. Or those gals who figured the SAHM’s should give up another evening with family to hang with them.) But most just chose what worked for them and moved on.

  149. Seraph wrote:

    Anyhow, my main point is that those Christians that are obviously corrupt aren’t Christians. Just because I said they’re atheists doesn’t mean all atheists are like this. In fact, I think they’re better atheists than average.

    Yes I get your worldview. Christianity = good. Non-Christian = bad.

    Just spare me the “I’m not judging here” act.

  150. Geoff Smith wrote:

    I don’t like the term “Calvinist,” even though–by its traditional definition–I am one. I pop up on WW once in a while to remind its readers that “Calvinism” and “Reformed Theology” are not synonyms (and John Piper is NOT a Reformed theologian!). Genuine Reformed theology looks skeptically on anything that has a marketing strategy driving it and depends on an individual, charismatic (lower case ‘c’) leader. This explains why “Lig” (to his buddies) drives me up the wall. He of all the T$G (oops–I held down the shift key) T4G pals should know that he is not serving the long-term interests of the Reformed faith.

    I don’t think the terminology is going to change. They use a lot of terms to market to those who may not have any idea what they really believe but the New Cals have pretty much co-opted those terms in modern theology simply by drowning everybody else out.

    And I know some don’t like the term New Calvinists, either, because it did refer to another previous group, but I don’t think anybody is going to call them anything different in the future except a very few individuals. The best case scenario is that the movement will die out soon or more innocuous groups will become popular.

  151. Jack wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    Anyhow, my main point is that those Christians that are obviously corrupt aren’t Christians. Just because I said they’re atheists doesn’t mean all atheists are like this. In fact, I think they’re better atheists than average.

    Yes I get your worldview. Christianity = good. Non-Christian = bad.

    Just spare me the “I’m not judging here” act.

    I come from the perspective of the Orthodox. You know, the actual people who got plundered by so called Christians of Western Europe. The line is drawn there. When your own nuns get raped, why wouldn’t you differentiate yourself? Tell me exactly what the logic is of seeing any camaraderie with this? These are supposed to be my brothers? Give me a break. And when I fast forward a thousand years, I still haven’t seen much to make me budge. I see many great individuals, but not institutions. These people still value acting like warriors and plunderers.

    I don’t know where you come from, personally. Or why it matters to you.

  152. Seraph wrote:

    I come from the perspective of the Orthodox. You know, the actual people who got plundered by so called Christians of Western Europe. The line is drawn there. When your own nuns get raped, why wouldn’t you differentiate yourself? Tell me exactly what the logic is of seeing any camaraderie with this? These are supposed to be my brothers? Give me a break. And when I fast forward a thousand years, I still haven’t seen much to make me budge. I see many great individuals, but not institutions. These people still value acting like warriors and plunderers.

    I don’t know where you come from, personally. Or why it matters to you.

    Ok. I revise that, Orthodox Christianity is the superior Christianity and Western Christianity (including Bill Hybels ) act like warriors and plunderers. I’m sure you shared this with the Willow Creek singles group.

    Whole books have been written about religious wars so suffice it to say there was plenty of burning and pillaging on all sides – there were no “good guys” just a whole lot of misery.

    But why does it matter to me? Well, I don’t need to go back 1000 years only a decade or so.

    I can’t speak for “cooking with dogs” but in my case the whole judgement thing annoys me to no end, especially when couched in “I’m not judging but…” hypocrisy.

    One thing I thank the evangelical church I used to attend is that it made me read the bible through intolerant eyes in the way the Anglican church never did.

    on homosexuality “Love the sinner, hate the sin” (first time I heard hate in church).
    on other faiths, words like “wacky” (I think that was pertaining to Buddhism – you know how wacky they are … chanting as opposed to talking in tongues)
    On the faith that I was raised on “Jesus wasn’t an Anglican” I believe there were sermons where this interchanged with “Baptist’ and of course the ultimate boogy religion “Catholics”.
    And I’m not even getting to the young earth creationism that you had to believe in.

    I had huge anxiety transitioning out of Christianity. My wife is a Christian and it took time to for me to have the honest discussion with her (and believe me there is no one I trust more).

    And this is deprogramming myself in the absence of abuse or any other of the many mind games that we have read about here.

    I come here for frank discussions about Christianity as I still wrestle with it and probably alway will.

    I don’t mind what folks think of me, I credit the interactions here with helping me become more secure in my unbelief – it’s a form of therapy, I suppose. But I understand how some folks can be triggered by the judgement game. There are as many Christianities and spectrums of Christianity as there are Christians, agnostic christians, atheistic christians and other christianish folks so don’t be surprised at pushback when you imply their treasured belief is somehow inferior to your own.

    For what it’s worth I’ve pushed buttons and had to back off.

    And why did Constantinople get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

  153. linda wrote:

    (SAHM’s who felt the employed outside the home gals could make it if they wanted. Or those gals who figured the SAHM’s should give up another evening with family to hang with them.)

    This is just weird, because the SAHM ARE with their families all of the time. Employed mom’s ARE the ones giving up an evening with their families because they work and see their family less.

    When my kids were little AND I worked, I did not pressure myself to be at evening meetings. But the preacher man denigrated people who did not attend small group meetings in the evening, he said they just weren’t committed. And we were a couple that had spent a year of evenings helping to work on a new building. This was an ignorant preacher man 😉

  154. Jack wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    I come from the perspective of the Orthodox. You know, the actual people who got plundered by so called Christians of Western Europe. The line is drawn there. When your own nuns get raped, why wouldn’t you differentiate yourself? Tell me exactly what the logic is of seeing any camaraderie with this? These are supposed to be my brothers? Give me a break. And when I fast forward a thousand years, I still haven’t seen much to make me budge. I see many great individuals, but not institutions. These people still value acting like warriors and plunderers.

    I don’t know where you come from, personally. Or why it matters to you.

    Ok. I revise that, Orthodox Christianity is the superior Christianity and Western Christianity (including Bill Hybels ) act like warriors and plunderers. I’m sure you shared this with the Willow Creek singles group.

    Whole books have been written about religious wars so suffice it to say there was plenty of burning and pillaging on all sides – there were no “good guys” just a whole lot of misery.

    But why does it matter to me? Well, I don’t need to go back 1000 years only a decade or so.

    I can’t speak for “cooking with dogs” but in my case the whole judgement thing annoys me to no end, especially when couched in “I’m not judging but…” hypocrisy.

    One thing I thank the evangelical church I used to attend is that it made me read the bible through intolerant eyes in the way the Anglican church never did.

    on homosexuality “Love the sinner, hate the sin” (first time I heard hate in church).
    on other faiths, words like “wacky” (I think that was pertaining to Buddhism – you know how wacky they are … chanting as opposed to talking in tongues)
    On the faith that I was raised on “Jesus wasn’t an Anglican” I believe there were sermons where this interchanged with “Baptist’ and of course the ultimate boogy religion “Catholics”.
    And I’m not even getting to the young earth creationism that you had to believe in.

    I had huge anxiety transitioning out of Christianity. My wife is a Christian and it took time to for me to have the honest discussion with her (and believe me there is no one I trust more).

    And this is deprogramming myself in the absence of abuse or any other of the many mind games that we have read about here.

    I come here for frank discussions about Christianity as I still wrestle with it and probably alway will.

    I don’t mind what folks think of me, I credit the interactions here with helping me become more secure in my unbelief – it’s a form of therapy, I suppose. But I understand how some folks can be triggered by the judgement game. There are as many Christianities and spectrums of Christianity as there are Christians, agnostic christians, atheistic christians and other christianish folks so don’t be surprised at pushback when you imply their treasured belief is somehow inferior to your own.

    For what it’s worth I’ve pushed buttons and had to back off.

    And why did Constantinople get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

    I don’t know anything about Orthodox running over Christian cities, raping nuns, killing Roman clerics, and setting up prostitutes on the altar at St. Peter’s Basilica. If you can show this, I’ll say both of them are equivalent in being poor examples of Christians.

    There’s definitely bad seeds in all forms of Christianity, but this larger scale madness doesn’t exist everywhere. It’s not right to say it does.

    Besides, what exactly is “Christian” about rape and a prostitute jokingly propped up as a mock Patriarch? It’s only logical for me to say that isn’t “Christian”. Just like when I say a Potato isn’t a Pencil and a Dodge Truck isn’t a Pink Dress. They’re completely different! They’re not even related in a way where you have some wiggle room and say it’s slightly the same thing. Rape and Prostitutes serving at Altars isn’t Christian. News at 11 😛

    This has nothing to do with Hybels though. This conversation only went to this because I think people who engage in some of these things can’t say they actually believe in God. If they did, they’d crap their pants. These are people with far more freedom of conscience than the average Christian.

  155. Oh, to the last question, why did Constantinople get the works? It’s complicated.. but look at the results. What happened to the West not long afterwards?

    The Renaissance. And that’s just from the libraries and knowledge.

    As for riches, Edward Gibbon stated that the spoils taken during one week in Constantinople equaled seven times the whole revenue of England at that time.

  156. Geoff Smith wrote:

    I pop up on WW once in a while to remind its readers that “Calvinism” and “Reformed Theology” are not synonyms

    And “New Calvinism” is distinctly different from classical Calvinism. Classical Calvinists are much more civil in their discourse and respectful of other Christian faiths than the YRR which arrogantly claim to be the sole keepers of truth – having come into the world for such a time as this to restore the gospel that the rest of Christendom has lost! While the new reformation may claim basic tenets of reformed theology, the New Calvinists put a culturally-relevant spin on belief and practice to attract Generations X, Y and Z. New Calvinism is a stepchild of Calvinism created by a handful of folks like Piper and the T4G elite to make money off of gullible young folks through book sales, conferences, etc.

  157. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    Keep in mind that I’m an amateur theologian, and an even more amateur historian.

    Fortunately, one can learn quite a lot without being a professional historian. Over the last couple years I read “The Apostolic Fathers in English” by Michael W. Holmes, “Eusebius: The Church History” by Eusebius translated by Paul L. Maier, and other various writings I’ve found online. The actual history is not what I had hoped to find, but I don’t regret diving into it. Now I have to deal with the logical consequences…

  158. Max wrote:

    having come into the world for such a time as this to restore the gospel that the rest of Christendom has lost!

    Just like all the better cults…

  159. @ Dave:

    I thought of that, but if Hybels is ‘counseling’ this woman, and these emails contained incriminating evidence, no doubt she was ‘counseled’ to delete them. But it is likely that someone who knows what they are doing could manage to retrieve them.

  160. Max wrote:

    When anyone gets a spark from Heaven, the rest of the bunch tries to put it out before it becomes a fire.

    At then at other times, other circumstances, they applaud.

  161. Max wrote:

    the sole keepers of truth – having come into the world for such a time as this to restore the gospel that the rest of Christendom has lost!

    Just like the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Moonies, Peoples’ Temple, Branch Davidians…

  162. cookingwithdogs wrote:

    Read what he said closely, he never said atheists have no morals. He’s saying that the Christians so-called who act like this are behaving exactly like one would have the incentive to behave if they were atheists.

    Some atheists have fine morals, perhaps you are among their ranks, but as Seraph implied elsewhere, there’s no reason to do so outside of self interest if you do not believe God exists. I believe it was you who spoke of the laws of nature, reciprocation and the like, i.e., if you treat someone considerately, they’ll be more likely to treat you considerately. I could also imagine one doing something nice because it gives them a good feeling, but that’s driven by no different a motivation than the reciprocation principle. Those aren’t morals, really, that’s just pure self-interest.

    What if treating someone kindly would be against your self-interests—what if it would hurt you or kill you? What if you really wanted to hurt someone or kill them and knew with certitude you could get away with it and not face any consequences? Does a belief system that denies the existence of God give you any reason to do the good thing or abstain from the bad thing? Absolutely not. That’s why Seraph is saying these people act like atheists (at least the way atheists ought to act). You may act with great kindness, Cookingwithdogs, when it doesn’t serve your purposes, the kindness isn’t likely to be returned, and it doesn’t serve your interests to do so, but if you do that, it will not be rational given the inevitable consequences of a universe with no God.

  163. K.D. wrote:

    There are a certain group of people who think ministers are ” God’s ” and it makes them a celebrity. We have got to tell the girls ( and boys) these preachers are human and just people like everyone else. The sins of a carnal nature have always been hidden by the church no matter the denomination. We’ve got to come up with a way to protect youth, females, heck men from these who prey on their flocks.
    BTW: Coming from Portrush, Northern Ireland…. You must visit Ireland!

    I know it shouldn’t surprise us when another one is exposed. They are human men who have been allowed to get away with their sins until something triggers the spotlight to shine on them. It doesn’t matter which denomination it is, which isms they espouse. It happens everywhere, wherever there is a system where there is a hierarchy and there are followers, children, women, etc. We have created it and tolerated it. It is a very sad commentary on society. I agree that more needs to be done, but I’m so cynical that I cannot imagine what that is.

  164. Law Prof wrote:

    Read what he said closely, he never said atheists have no morals. He’s saying that the Christians so-called who act like this are behaving exactly like one would have the incentive to behave if they were atheists.

    Some atheists have fine morals, perhaps you are among their ranks, but as Seraph implied elsewhere, there’s no reason to do so outside of self interest if you do not believe God exists. I believe it was you who spoke of the laws of nature, reciprocation and the like, i.e., if you treat someone considerately, they’ll be more likely to treat you considerately. I could also imagine one doing something nice because it gives them a good feeling, but that’s driven by no different a motivation than the reciprocation principle. Those aren’t morals, really, that’s just pure self-interest.

    What if treating someone kindly would be against your self-interests—what if it would hurt you or kill you? What if you really wanted to hurt someone or kill them and knew with certitude you could get away with it and not face any consequences? Does a belief system that denies the existence of God give you any reason to do the good thing or abstain from the bad thing? Absolutely not. That’s why Seraph is saying these people act like atheists (at least the way atheists ought to act). You may act with great kindness, Cookingwithdogs, when it doesn’t serve your purposes, the kindness isn’t likely to be returned, and it doesn’t serve your interests to do so, but if you do that, it will not be rational given the inevitable consequences of a universe with no God.

    Let’s unpack this:
    I am not a believer and yet I have acted morally both at work and in my personal life. My job (like so many others) involves being trusted with sensitive information. I could totally lie and get with it, but I don’t.
    Now you’ll say that’s because I’m getting paid but I also volunteer with an organization where I have dealt with sensitive issues and information and money. I could scam them completely and they would never know it, but I don’t. According to you that’s not morals, as an unbeliever, I’m acting in my own self interest.

    For you “morals” is following a God that will immolate you for all eternity if you don’t believe what he says and do what he says. And you have a commission to get others into that belief otherwise he will immolate you and them. That’s not in your self interest?

    Seraph stated that these clowns are not only “atheists” but better “atheists” than most. That’s a judgemental insult to all unbelievers to imply that CJ Mahaney is better than they are. But in typical Christianese doublespeak, he doesn’t judge, just telling the truth is all.

    The only coherent question that I was able to discern from my exchange with him was how guys like Mahaney could believe in God yet do what they do. This is a valid question.

    I think it has everything to do with how these “church leaders ” see themselves. They believe they can do no wrong because they are on a mission from God. Their sins will be overlooked over the course of it all because God has chosen them, like David and Solomon. They are invoking a modified version of divine right to rule, that’s been used by chieftains, warlords, pharaohs, kings, caesars, popes and others since there have been people. And it’s being used to keep people in abusive and manipulative churches. On the abuse side you have groups like SGM, on the manipulative side, you have churches like Willow Creek.

    But getting back to your comment and Seraph’s rants – this christian hypocrisy is one of the main reasons I got out of the faith. Thanks for my laugh of the day and reminding me I made the right decision.

    At least in this forum we can decide to engage each other or not.

  165. It’s a big, major deal that the Ortbergs are involved in the way that they are, which Orr neglected to mention in her statement. Ortberg is both a pastor as well as a clinical psychologist.
    Still, a hug and an arm compliment don’t seem to be a basis for disqualifying someone, by themselves. Invitations to hotel rooms are very suspect, but not necessarily substantial.
    Thousands of emails could just represent embarrassing and severe codependency; needn’t be something else.
    There are enough things to definitely make you wonder, but I think it’s wrong and they responsible to say that if Boz says so then it’s so. His comments may give reason to investigate more thoroughly, but I don’t personally see how you can suggest more than that.
    For me anyway, I think that all of this amounts to a good set of reasons to investigate more thoroughly, on the part of Willow Creek church. But if he such a seducer, why isn’t there more evidence? Decades of seduction should probably make more evidence available, if that’s the case.
    For me, there seems to be good reasons for the church to investigate more, But also good reasons not to prematurely make life-shattering & community-shattering conclusions.

  166. Bridget, not all sahm’s are with their children all day. Most of the sahm’s I’ve known had kiddoes in public or private school. Only a minority home school. And often the dad’s were working 1 1/2 jobs or 2 job in terms of hours. So yeah, when dad and the kids were home the mom’s definitely felt this was time not to be squandered. They for the most part had made a totally different choice about what is important in life than the employed outside the home mom’s. Not saying one is better than the other, just that they are different.

    I have huge respect for the employed outside the home mom’s who still choose to attend an evening Bible study. That said, that would not mean all those who prefer a daytime study should just come to the evening one. No biggie. No, for the senior lady with cataracts it would mean not going. For the mom of younger or school age kids who has a husband employed in the evening, it might mean not going.

    I feel the same way when the older gals or sahm’s or fulltime homemakers fuss that there is no need for evening sessions, since the working gals supposedly could arrange that time off if they were compassionate to the sahm’s. Yeah right, tell that to most employers.

    Never made sense to me to get our panties in a wad over it. If my church offered only evening sessions and I wanted daytime, I started a daytime group. By the same token if a gal prefers evenings and her church only offers daytime, she could start an evening session herself.

    And gasp, either one could probably find another church in town with a preferred session time:)

  167. Oh heavens, I can spell but my auto correct can’t lol. Kindly disregard all those plurals made possessives by it in my above post.

  168. @ Marky:

    First, I never said I didn’t act in self-interest, so I don’t know why you’re having that debate with me. I only said the rule of reciprocity and/or doing things because they make you feel good are a matter of self-interest. Do you think they’re not?

    Next, Seraph is trying to do you a favor, if you’ll pay attention and start actually “unpacking” rather than just saying you’re doing it. He’s pointing out an irrefutable fact: there is absolutely no reason to do anything because it’s just the right thing to do independent of pure self-interest if you believe there is no God, and he’s pointing out the additional irrefutable fact that those people in abusive churches who are doing exactly what they want and grabbing for whatever gives them pleasure without regard to anyone else are acting as true, good atheists, whereas you, with your morals, are not.

    You seem to be unwilling to face the consequences of your beliefs. Why this talk of “morals” and being insulted because someone questions yours? Morals are utter nonsense if all there is is matter and energy, if you’re just a complex ball of chemical reactions and matter that will one day, like all other such balls, turn to dust because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which really isn’t even a law, just is an expression of what happens in an unthinking, meaningless universe that itself is just a larger ball of more complexity.

    It is all nothing, and you can pretend to give it meaning for a little while, while you’re aware and in existence in your present form, but you’re a very, very poor atheist for doing it. You give yourself away when you speak of morals; you’re not an atheist, not a proper one, I don’t believe you.

    Again, don’t dance on me, don’t avoid it, and don’t play that condescending “laugh of the day” card; give me one reason to do something against your own self-interest. Anything, and it better not be because it’s the “right” thing to do, because there’s no such thing as right and no such thing as morals to a ball of energy and matter.

  169. @ Jack:
    High Five to Jack! You have a knack of accurately describing much of what passes for church. Your insights are helpful. Much of what we see in Christendom, however, does not reflect the truth and is not ‘approved’ by Jesus.

  170. Andy wrote:

    @ Linn:
    He didn’t go to seminary.

    It seems to me the bigger the church, the less like its pastor went to seminary.

  171. Jack wrote:

    But getting back to your comment and Seraph’s rants – this christian hypocrisy is one of the main reasons I got out of the faith. Thanks for my laugh of the day and reminding me I made the right decision.

    I’m still in ‘the faith’, albeit my own version of ‘the faith’, and yet I too flatly reject the premise that rightness and morality can only be legitimate when accompanied by a belief in God.

    During the Holocaust when the trains went East to the gas chambers there was a multitude of people who believed fervently in God and still did nothing.

    And there were also those with no belief in God who did something with no thought of personal gain simply because it was the right thing to do.
    Here’s the story of one such person:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/tina-strobos-dutch-student-who-rescued-100-jews-during-the-holocaust-dies-at-91/2012/02/29/gIQAfalKjR_story.html

  172. @ Marky:
    I was thinking it’s a big deal the Ortbergs are involved, too. But not for the same reasons. In their world of wealthy celebrity Christendom that teaches pew sitters to sacrifice, it means Hybels is toast.

  173. Jack wrote:

    hypocrisy

    This is kind of key here.

    To profess to be a Christian and to follow a set of standards, while going 100% the other direction is deep hypocrisy. We saw it with Andy giving True Love Waits speeches right after taking advantage of a high school girl.

    Are these people Christians who make ‘mistakes’, or are they lying liars who pretend to be Christian to get money, fame, women? That’s the question here really. It has nothing, to me, to do with atheists moral standards (and many are quite moral).

  174. linda wrote:

    Never made sense to me to get our panties in a wad over it.

    It seems like it would be most annoying to have someone continually tell me which session I should attend or be annoyed that I chose not to attend it! Thank heavens I don’t have these issues at my church.

  175. Lydia wrote:

    @ Marky:
    I was thinking it’s a big deal the Ortbergs are involved, too. But not for the same reasons. In their world of wealthy celebrity Christendom that teaches pew sitters to sacrifice, it means Hybels is toast.

    Really? How so? I confess I had never heard of the Ortbergs before this.

  176. @ Lea:
    Great comment! You make great points. As to atheists….a dear old colleague of mine, a quality technology professor, was a serious atheist and also rabidly pro life. She marched and everything. Called abortion barbarian. I learned from that to be suspect with categorizing.

  177. @ Law Prof:
    I don’t get it. I know moral atheists. But you seem to be saying that if they follow a moral code, they are not true atheists?

  178. Lea wrote:

    It seems like it would be most annoying to have someone continually tell me which session I should attend or be annoyed that I chose not to attend it!

    Lea wrote:

    linda wrote:

    Never made sense to me to get our panties in a wad over it.

    It seems like it would be most annoying to have someone continually tell me which session I should attend or be annoyed that I chose not to attend it! Thank heavens I don’t have these issues at my church.

    Lea wrote:

    linda wrote:

    Never made sense to me to get our panties in a wad over it.

    It seems like it would be most annoying to have someone continually tell me which session I should attend or be annoyed that I chose not to attend it! Thank heavens I don’t have these issues at my church.

    This was the issue for me.

  179. @ Law Prof:
    “You may act with great kindness, Cookingwithdogs, when it doesn’t serve your purposes, the kindness isn’t likely to be returned, and it doesn’t serve your interests to do so, but if you do that, it will not be rational given the inevitable consequences of a universe with no God.”

    But such behavior *is* rational because personal integrity is not necessarily tied to belief in a deity.

  180. @ refugee:
    The question is “where” a moral code originates. I never really thought a lot about it until I spent a week with Stephen Covey In conference years ago. Oh my. The gymnastics he performed to explain it just blew my mind. But it also made me think. And I am not talking about the Bible! How do we know what is good and evil?

  181. refugee wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    “You may act with great kindness, Cookingwithdogs, when it doesn’t serve your purposes, the kindness isn’t likely to be returned, and it doesn’t serve your interests to do so, but if you do that, it will not be rational given the inevitable consequences of a universe with no God.”

    But such behavior *is* rational because personal integrity is not necessarily tied to belief in a deity.

    Know the difference between an assertion of fact, which is not an argument, and an argument. You need to connect the dots, i.e., why is that statement you made correct? Because it certainly isn’t true by dint of you making it.

    That said, I agree that personal integrity is probably not tied to a belief in a deity; I know this at least on some level anecdotally. Many people who are atheists appear to act with greater integrity than many who are Christians. I’m not even debating the point that Cookingwithdogs or Jack are decently-behaving people—I concede that.

    What I am questioning is their status as atheists, I contest they’re hypocrites if they ever do a thing outside of self-interest. If it makes Jack feel good, then by all means he should continue doing a proper fiduciary duty to the organization for which he volunteers, but if it does not, and he knows that he can get away with it, and it would make him feel good to scam the organization, then by all means he should do that. To do otherwise is to pretend that something exists which he knows does not. There is no such thing as integrity or goodness or decency if there is just matter and energy, and if you contend there is some mystical “good” out there in the universe, some law which one should obey, how is that different from belief in a higher being?

    Jack, You’re really going to have to address these issues with something other than insults.

  182. refugee wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    I don’t get it. I know moral atheists. But you seem to be saying that if they follow a moral code, they are not true atheists?

    They are bad atheists, hypocritical atheists. I have explained very clearly why.

  183. Law Prof wrote:

    PREVIOUS NOT MEANT FOR MARKY – MEANT FOR COOKING WITH DOGS

    By the way, I have no idea how I’ve gotten so confused, but everything I wrote in the post an hour or two ago that I said was for Cookingwithdogs was for Jack. Sorry for my perpetual confusion.

  184. @ refugee:
    I didn’t mean for that to sound like I was blowing you off. I have not kept up with them since early in the millennium when I exited that world. They were a big part of the really cool and wealthy people in the mega world in the 90s. Tons of books, conferences, etc. they are still a wealthy Christian power couple very well connected to the leadership world of gurus in that business. Hybels Leadership Summit brought in the big leadership guru names at one time. This was all before social media exploded. They are so cool their son writes the Dear Prudence advice column in Slate.

    All those people (Warren, Hybels, etc) were proud “pastorprenuers”. It was all the rage. So hollow and shallow.

  185. Law Prof wrote:

    First, I never said I didn’t act in self-interest, so I don’t know why you’re having that debate with me. I only said the rule of reciprocity and/or doing things because they make you feel good are a matter of self-interest. Do you think they’re not?

    Ok, I’m going have to break this down a bit into multiple comments. I’m not savvy enough to do the cut and paste thing, it never works on this comment box for me, everything gets italicized.
    You implied that “cookingwithdogs” was somehow just acting in her own self interest, you omitted your self interest. And you stated that her/his self interest in doing the right thing is not real or moral. You basically dehumanized this person. I don’t know their story but my morals are very real and I imagine “cookingwithdogs” morals are real too. They are not inferior to you avoiding eternal darnation by God. All humans and animals act in their self-interest otherwise we would starve and there would be no children.

  186. Law Prof wrote:

    Next, Seraph is trying to do you a favor, if you’ll pay attention and start actually “unpacking” rather than just saying you’re doing it. He’s pointing out an irrefutable fact: there is absolutely no reason to do anything because it’s just the right thing to do independent of pure self-interest if you believe there is no God, and he’s pointing out the additional irrefutable fact that those people in abusive churches who are doing exactly what they want and grabbing for whatever gives them pleasure without regard to anyone else are acting as true, good atheists, whereas you, with your morals, are not.

    Seraph was all over the place. If there was a point, it got lost between his consternation with the Western churches wrongs toward the Orthodox church and the fall of Constantiople. I found his comments offensive and I think that you can believe in God and abuse people in fact these leaders have such faith that they actually believe they’re entitled to it and don’t get why the rest of us are so brassed about it all. I suppose it’s a backhanded compliment to say that I’m failing as an unbeliever.

  187. Law Prof wrote:

    You seem to be unwilling to face the consequences of your beliefs. Why this talk of “morals” and being insulted because someone questions yours? Morals are utter nonsense if all there is is matter and energy, if you’re just a complex ball of chemical reactions and matter that will one day, like all other such balls, turn to dust because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which really isn’t even a law, just is an expression of what happens in an unthinking, meaningless universe that itself is just a larger ball of more complexity.

    No, morals are not utter nonsense, believer or no. The majority of people do what’s right otherwise our respective nations wouldn’t exist. And yes, I take exception to being spoken down to as inferior because you’re sure your faith is so superior. Bully for you. We are complex balls of chemicals, your brain is a chemical engine and how that chemistry works can affect how you perceive your world. There’s a lot of folks who suffer because of mental illness and there medicines that assist in righting that chemistry. I believe that Christianity makes the universe smaller than it actually is. As for it being unthinking or meaningless, I comfortable saying “I don’t know”. Neil DeGrass Tyson has a great quote “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you”

  188. Law Prof wrote:

    It is all nothing, and you can pretend to give it meaning for a little while, while you’re aware and in existence in your present form, but you’re a very, very poor atheist for doing it. You give yourself away when you speak of morals; you’re not an atheist, not a proper one, I don’t believe you.

    I have a spirituality, it’s just not Christian. My life has meaning, I do a job that helps others, I volunteer and help others, I raise my kids, I love my wife. I just do it minus the fear of God. So yes I guess I suck as an atheist. But it’s not a binary assertion Christian = good, non Christian = bad. I will tell you that since my break with faith, my relationships feel more pure, my impetus to do right seems more focused, I feel that this is my one shot and that makes the tragedies of this planet all the more tragic when we contemplate the waste of life that has occurred and continues to occur. Yes, Law Prof, I am a real boy.

  189. Law Prof wrote:

    Again, don’t dance on me, don’t avoid it, and don’t play that condescending “laugh of the day” card; give me one reason to do something against your own self-interest. Anything, and it better not be because it’s the “right” thing to do, because there’s no such thing as right and no such thing as morals to a ball of energy and matter.

    Ok, apologize for the laugh of the day card, it was more smile than guffaw anyway. I really did want to unpack what you said.
    I used to run with a gang of racists. Yep, I was Christian at that time too. The gang wanted to egg the house of Jewish teacher at our junior high. I didn’t – I didn’t have anything against him, up until that point it was a lark. I got the crud beat out of me. Badly. My only regret was holding my silence when I got home to my parents – hey it was high school, you didn’t rat your buddies. But they didn’t egg his house so some good came of it. I got beat, I got grounded, I lost my crew, this teacher never knew what I did, so yeah I can’t imagine anything that was more against my self interest. That’s the best I’ve got and and yes, it was the right thing to do. It was moral and right and it wasn’t because I was christian.

  190. Law Prof wrote:

    Jack, You’re really going to have to address these issues with something other than insults.

    You’re nose is out of joint because a person can be moral and right and an unbeliever. This is what insults you.

  191. @ Jack:

    “I found his comments offensive and I think that you can believe in God and abuse people in fact these leaders have such faith that they actually believe they’re entitled to it and don’t get why the rest of us are so brassed about it all. I suppose it’s a backhanded compliment to say that I’m failing as an unbeliever.”

    Since about the mid to late 90’s I have been trying hard to figure out exactly what and who their God is. I don’t recognize Him. I don’t buy into sinless perfection nor the perpetual sinner shitck that makes excuses for harmful actions. I don’t even buy into the need for adults to have spiritual gurus. We have access to the same information and “Advocate” as they do. Not all Christians believe in a burning hell, either. Some believe in a separation from God scenario. I also don’t think it is Jesus’ fault there are “Christian” Con men and jerks. I remind the kids of this constantly! That only works without determinism, btw. If determinism is truth then God wants the cons to operate. Don’t buy that for a minute.

    I have come to a tenuous conclusion after many years that how we “practice” our Christian faith and beliefs is extremely personal when there are institutions demanding they are cookie cutter. . So, sans harming or deceiving others on purpose, I don’t care. It’s fun (to me) to debate doctrines, etc, but that’s just because it’s an interest of mine.

    For me, this is an exciting time. Social media has turned it all upside down and I lived to see it and participate! . Theology is no longer just for the Academy. The peasants are discussing and debating it in places like this. Must drive the gurus nuts!

    You might find the philosophical approach to God more plausible. That was John Adams’ approach after growing up in determinism which he despised. Either way, I appreciate your input here.

  192. Jack wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:

    Again, don’t dance on me, don’t avoid it, and don’t play that condescending “laugh of the day” card; give me one reason to do something against your own self-interest. Anything, and it better not be because it’s the “right” thing to do, because there’s no such thing as right and no such thing as morals to a ball of energy and matter.

    Ok, apologize for the laugh of the day card, it was more smile than guffaw anyway. I really did want to unpack what you said.
    I used to run with a gang of racists. Yep, I was Christian at that time too. The gang wanted to egg the house of Jewish teacher at our junior high. I didn’t – I didn’t have anything against him, up until that point it was a lark. I got the crud beat out of me. Badly. My only regret was holding my silence when I got home to my parents – hey it was high school, you didn’t rat your buddies. But they didn’t egg his house so some good came of it. I got beat, I got grounded, I lost my crew, this teacher never knew what I did, so yeah I can’t imagine anything that was more against my self interest. That’s the best I’ve got and and yes, it was the right thing to do. It was moral and right and it wasn’t because I was christian.

    How do you know it wasn’t because you were Christian? Honest question. How do you separate that.. when you yourself admit you were Christian at the time? Are you really able to chart the causes and effects on conscience and consciousness?

    In any case, I’m happy you did the right thing 🙂

  193. Jack wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:

    First, I never said I don’t act in self-interest, so I don’t know why you’re having that debate with me. I only said the rule of reciprocity and/or doing things because they make you feel good are a matter of self-interest. Do you think they’re not?

    Ok, I’m going have to break this down a bit into multiple comments. I’m not savvy enough to do the cut and paste thing, it never works on this comment box for me, everything gets italicized.
    You implied that “cookingwithdogs” was somehow just acting in her own self interest, you omitted your self interest. And you stated that her/his self interest in doing the right thing is not real or moral. You basically dehumanized this person. I don’t know their story but my morals are very real and I imagine “cookingwithdogs” morals are real too. They are not inferior to you avoiding eternal darnation by God. All humans and animals act in their self-interest otherwise we would starve and there would be no children.

    Look, I am not thinking and do not think Cookingwithdogs is acting in pure self-interest in his or her life. What I said was that the reciprocity principle is self-interest. Of course it is, explain to me how it is not self-interest to treat others well because you will be more likely to be treated well. Similarly, doing something because it makes you feel good is also self-interested. That is self-evident.

    I have not overlooked my self-interest, it wasn’t even part of the argument, but yes, of course I act in self-interest. I’ve never dodged that proposition. I am not speaking of being superior to you or Cookingwithdogs or anyone, you may well have better morals than me. I don’t know, only God knows. That wasn’t part of my argument, either.

    You are merely matter and energy, as am I. None of it has any meaning, it just is. Whether you shake my hand or kill me, it’s all the same, the atoms won’t change, and you’ll just be speeding along a meaningless process that’s already underway in me anyway. And there really isn’t a “me”, for that matter, or a “you”, we’re just a collection of mass and energy temporarily arranged in a meaningless existence.

    So why do you argue from a Christian perspective, defending yourself, writing about how you meet your fiduciary duty and refuse to embezzle? That’s silly. Tell me why it’s not.

  194. Jack wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:

    First, I never said I don’t act in self-interest, so I don’t know why you’re having that debate with me. I only said the rule of reciprocity and/or doing things because they make you feel good are a matter of self-interest. Do you think they’re not?

    Ok, I’m going have to break this down a bit into multiple comments. I’m not savvy enough to do the cut and paste thing, it never works on this comment box for me, everything gets italicized.
    You implied that “cookingwithdogs” was somehow just acting in her own self interest, you omitted your self interest. And you stated that her/his self interest in doing the right thing is not real or moral. You basically dehumanized this person. I don’t know their story but my morals are very real and I imagine “cookingwithdogs” morals are real too. They are not inferior to you avoiding eternal darnation by God. All humans and animals act in their self-interest otherwise we would starve and there would be no children.

    Look, I am not thinking and do not think Cookingwithdogs is acting in pure self-interest in his or her life. What I said was that the reciprocity principle is self-interest. Of course it is, explain to me how it is not self-interest to treat others well because you will be more likely to be treated well. Similarly, doing something because it makes you feel good is also self-interested. That is self-evident.

    I have not overlooked my self-interest, it wasn’t even part of the argument, but yes, of course I act in self-interest. I’ve never dodged that proposition. I am not speaking of being superior to you or Cookingwithdogs or anyone, you may well have better morals than me. I don’t know, only God knows. That wasn’t part of my argument, either.

    You are merely matter and energy, as am I. None of it has any meaning, it just is. Whether you shake my hand or kill me, it’s all the same, the atoms won’t change, and you’ll just be speeding along a meaningless process that’s already underway in me anyway. And there really isn’t a “me”, for that matter, or a “you”, we’re just a collection of mass and energy temporarily arranged in a meaningless existence.

    So why do you argue from a Christian perspective, defending yourself, writing about how you meet your fiduciary duty and refuse to embezzle? That’s silly. Tell me why it’s not.

  195. Jack wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:

    Jack, You’re really going to have to address these issues with something other than insults.

    You’re nose is out of joint because a person can be moral and right and an unbeliever. This is what insults you.

    No, that’s not it at all! I want you right now to stop caricaturing me, fitting me into your notion of “Christian”. That might be what’s preventing you from seeing a point I’m trying to make. I readily accept that many atheists act very ethically. But they should not, because ethics do not exist if it’s all just a dance of atoms. Why in the world do you believe in morals? What are those? Where do they come from?

  196. OK, Jack, I see you said above you have a “spirituality” and do not believe it’s all just a random dance of atoms, so what I said is more applicable to a true atheist, which you are not. So it would make sense for you to be ethical. But you’re going to have to explain to me why it makes any sense to be ethical if you do not believe in any mehanism by which ethics might possibly exist.

    Again, please don’t think I believe that Christian = good and not-Christian = bad. The only thing I believe about Christians is that they’re correct about who Jesus was and is, and that, in an impossible-to-grasp way, He lives within them.

  197. Jack wrote:

    . I just do it minus the fear of God

    Just a side note here. Some people do these things out of a love for God, not out of fear of God 😉

  198. Law Prof wrote:

    Jack wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:

    Jack, You’re really going to have to address these issues with something other than insults.

    You’re nose is out of joint because a person can be moral and right and an unbeliever. This is what insults you.

    No, that’s not it at all! I want you right now to stop caricaturing me, fitting me into your notion of “Christian”. That might be what’s preventing you from seeing a point I’m trying to make. I readily accept that many atheists act very ethically. But they should not, because ethics do not exist if it’s all just a dance of atoms. Why in the world do you believe in morals? What are those? Where do they come from?

    Even if he could come up with a answer, I’d have to wonder about how billions of people could wing it like that. Morality is just as much about society than as it is individuals.

    The only skeptic I ever found somewhat illuminating on Morality without God was Nietzsche. He didn’t try to be clever. He cut to the chase and enshrined the Will to Power. The Morality of the Master. Any attempt at democracy, humility, or fairness was the Morality of the Slave. Specifically the jealous Jewish slave, who wishes to bring the “noble, self defining Man” down.

  199. Maybe I’ll do that. I keep hearing about him, and I’m kind of bored looking for something to watch.

  200. @ Jack

    By the way, it appears than the main reason we were talking past each other and getting increasingly confused was because I was making incorrect assumptions about your beliefs. Sorry about that!

  201. Perhaps against my better judgment, I’ll attempt to weigh in on this topic of theism and moralism because I get that sense that people are talking past each other. It seems to me that there are three different but not unrelated themes: 1) definition of theism/atheism, 2) the basis of morality, and 3) how can we know if we are right/wrong?

    1) If someone claims to believe in a particular deity that is associated with certain expectations, but does not adhere to those expectations, then that person is a non-believe with respect to that particular deity. This has nothing to do with whether or not that particular deity’s expectations are good or bad. For example, if a person claims to believe in a racist deity who requires genocide, but that person opposes racism and genocide, then that person is an “atheist” with respect to that deity. It has nothing to do with whether or not that person is good or bad, it’s only a question of whether or not they follow their deity in practice.

    2) If it turns out that there is no deity/creator of the universe, then all of the natural order is nothing more than a colossal accident with no meaning or purpose. Likewise, life is nothing more than a highly unlikely random accident. While each form of life might feel like it has the duty to survive, even that drive is ultimately meaningless because there is no ultimate purpose in surviving. Life forms like ours that feel a sense of morality are also meaningless – morals themselves are meaningless. The sense of right and wrong would be based on nothing more than individual preferences. If one person or group of people were to determine that the survival of humanity required wiping out all other groups, then genocide would be a perfectly moral act. So when an atheist claims to be moral, they have to postulate a moral standard by which to judge their morality, which requires a moral standard giver. But no moral standard giver exists because they have already postulated it away. This is not to say that atheists cannot be moral, just that they have no logical basis for it other than what they individually think is best. Their preference are no better or worse than any other set of preferences because preferences ultimately have no meaning or purpose.

    3) I have tried to find statistics on how many people are true atheists. It’s hard to find a solid answer, but it seems that somewhere between 5% and 30% of people are true atheists. Some have proposed this is because humans are wired for theism by some kind of “God gene.” If this is true it means the vast majority of people are hard-wired to believe what is untrue. If we are wired to believe what is false about something as important as religion, how can we trust any of our conclusions? Are we hard-wired for faulty thinking in general, and how would we know for certain?

    I periodically question my Christian faith when things don’t make sense. But I don’t find a logically satisfying way to be an atheist – it has too many logical difficulties. For me to become an atheist would be a leap of faith I am not able to take. In the end, there is no airtight case for either atheism or theism, but Christianity makes the most sense to me, even though it has representatives that give it a very bad name. I hope this helps.

  202. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Perhaps against my better judgment, I’ll attempt to weigh in on this topic of theism and moralism because I get that sense that people are talking past each other. It seems to me that there are three different but not unrelated themes: 1) definition of theism/atheism, 2) the basis of morality, and 3) how can we know if we are right/wrong?

    1) If someone claims to believe in a particular deity that is associated with certain expectations, but does not adhere to those expectations, then that person is a non-believe with respect to that particular deity. This has nothing to do with whether or not that particular deity’s expectations are good or bad. For example, if a person claims to believe in a racist deity who requires genocide, but that person opposes racism and genocide, then that person is an “atheist” with respect to that deity. It has nothing to do with whether or not that person is good or bad, it’s only a question of whether or not they follow their deity in practice.

    2) If it turns out that there is no deity/creator of the universe, then all of the natural order is nothing more than a colossal accident with no meaning or purpose. Likewise, life is nothing more than a highly unlikely random accident. While each form of life might feel like it has the duty to survive, even that drive is ultimately meaningless because there is no ultimate purpose in surviving. Life forms like ours that feel a sense of morality are also meaningless – morals themselves are meaningless. The sense of right and wrong would be based on nothing more than individual preferences. If one person or group of people were to determine that the survival of humanity required wiping out all other groups, then genocide would be a perfectly moral act. So when an atheist claims to be moral, they have to postulate a moral standard by which to judge their morality, which requires a moral standard giver. But no moral standard giver exists because they have already postulated it away. This is not to say that atheists cannot be moral, just that they have no logical basis for it other than what they individually think is best. Their preference are no better or worse than any other set of preferences because preferences ultimately have no meaning or purpose.

    3) I have tried to find statistics on how many people are true atheists. It’s hard to find a solid answer, but it seems that somewhere between 5% and 30% of people are true atheists. Some have proposed this is because humans are wired for theism by some kind of “God gene.” If this is true it means the vast majority of people are hard-wired to believe what is untrue. If we are wired to believe what is false about something as important as religion, how can we trust any of our conclusions? Are we hard-wired for faulty thinking in general, and how would we know for certain?

    I periodically question my Christian faith when things don’t make sense. But I don’t find a logically satisfying way to be an atheist – it has too many logical difficulties. For me to become an atheist would be a leap of faith I am not able to take. In the end, there is no airtight case for either atheism or theism, but Christianity makes the most sense to me, even though it has representatives that give it a very bad name. I hope this helps.

    On a sidenote, I don’t even know why the so called “God gene” is some kind of justification for atheists and/or Dawkins’ fans.

    The scriptures already said as much, in it’s own way. “In the image of God he created them, male and female.” The problem is the image of God in ourselves was damaged. The fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil, the birth of Ego, and shame and hiding from God. Jesus came to heal all of this.

    @Lydia Some of Peterson’s talks so far are interesting. I’ll listen to longer videos later. He’s strangely sympathetic to Nietzsche.. I am not exactly. I just appreciate his honesty.

  203. Muff Potter wrote:

    Holy Guacamole! Now we got Neecha (Nietzsche) too!

    It’s kind of hard not to mention him, once a person proclaims that “God is dead”. Nietzsche himself, contrary to popular belief, didn’t actually think that was a triumph. He knew what kind of confusion it’d open the world up to you, and practically predicted the 20th and now 21st century.

  204. John wrote:

    Is his egalitarianism to blame?

    Absolutely not! Hybels learned egalitarian theology from Gilbert Bilizekian. But I have yet to meet an egalitarian that has been like Hybels. He is different. Hybels started out with the quest for numbers in a church. Maybe he just saw egalitarianism as the new way at the time and thought that that would bring the crowds. But at the least, it does not sound like he respects women as equal to himself.

  205. At this point, I think I’ve overstayed my welcome. I see the resentment in my posting here, but I’m going to point out one last irony… maybe it’ll get lost in the fray.

    It’s funny to me that the modern churches struggle with these egalitarian issues and can’t find any consensus on what women can do in the church – Yet the traditionalist ones have more leeway on the matter. By throwing out traditionalism, people managed to become more Patriarchal!

    And it starts with a de-contextualized view of church worship practices and Sola Scripture.. taking Paul’s instructions about “women speaking” and applying it in some blanket way, without figuring out what the context was.

    I would propose he was talking about presiding over the liturgical forms. The early church modeled itself as a New Jerusalem, with it’s High Priest, Jesus Christ, in Heaven. The “small” priest in the individual/earthly church was just a symbol of our real priest in heaven. The insistence on him being a male is simply to follow Christ. It HAD NOTHING to do with shutting out women completely! Why do you think Paul also acknowledges women in other ways? Even among the Apostles? Why do you think we find women as heroes and martyrs and teachers in the earliest traditions of the church? They didn’t shut out women. Yet when you “press reset”, remove yourself from history, remove yourself from what the liturgy and worship services were even supposed to be, and then interpret Paul in isolation, then you’re open to abuse by these type of teachers who wish to impose restrictions on women everywhere. This is DE-Evolution. Not evolution.

  206. Oh, and if there isn’t anything that sums up how this shaped even “secular” efforts: Look no further.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTKIqc6vQXI

    Same goes for our Jewish friends, and how they treat women. These and the above are the real people with unbroken traditions and context. Yet they don’t keep women down. It’s those who cut themselves off that end up being more oppressive.

  207. Seraph wrote:

    Oh, and if there isn’t anything that sums up how this shaped even “secular” efforts: Look no further.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTKIqc6vQXI
    Same goes for our Jewish friends, and how they treat women. These and the above are the real people with unbroken traditions and context. Yet they don’t keep women down. It’s those who cut themselves off that end up being more oppressive.

    So now you have a political agenda. Why are you here? You’ve maligned the majority of members in one form or another. I call you out for your abusive manner.

  208. https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/catholic-women-a-case-of-oppression

    Seems that even a notoriously “conservative” Catholic website even agrees with me.

    [quote]The Catholic Church had for centuries developed women’s talents and skills and seen a sacramental meaning in the union of the two sexes. It took a more crude and rhetorical form of Christianity, the Protestant sola scriptura notion with its misunderstandings about Mary and abolition of the calendar of saints, to remake Christianity into something from which women could feel excluded. There had been more churches named after women than men, and the calendar had been crammed with female names. Now “Scripture alone” gave a bleaker message—and the rich Catholic understanding of the Church as Mother, and use of female imagery in referring to her, was gone too.

    Florence Nightingale sums up the anguish of the results of this in correspondence pleading to be trained in useful Christian service—or just to be taken seriously as a woman seeking a life of dedication beyond her own immediate domestic needs. Significantly, her eventual nursing mission to the Crimea was made possible only after a war correspondent asked, in the columns of The Times, why Britain had no Sisters of Charity (Catholic nuns!) as the French had, to tend the wounded.

    A Catholic contemporary of Nightingale was Caroline Chisholm, “The Emigrant’s Friend.” She worked on behalf of impoverished settlers in Australia: cleaning up the ships, leading teams along bush tracks in New South Wales, lobbying for fair emigration policies. Her Catholic faith nourished and encouraged her abilities, while Nightingale lamented that her own Anglicanism had merely suggested that she should remain quietly at home.[/quote]

  209. Mercy wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    Oh, and if there isn’t anything that sums up how this shaped even “secular” efforts: Look no further.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTKIqc6vQXI
    Same goes for our Jewish friends, and how they treat women. These and the above are the real people with unbroken traditions and context. Yet they don’t keep women down. It’s those who cut themselves off that end up being more oppressive.

    So now you have a political agenda. Why are you here? You’ve maligned the majority of members in one form or another. I call you out for your abusive manner.

    Political? Because I showed Christian girls arming themselves against ISIS in Syria? It’s not political. It’s merely to illustrate how this is second nature to them. They don’t have a pervasive culture of oppressing women as people mistake them to have.. despite being from old Christian traditions.

    It’s funny though that I still get resistance from a website that prides itself on how badly the Protestant churches are treating it’s members. My only “agenda” was testing the waters, to see if anyone might be receptive to ALL that the church offers.. that you not break away from these Evangelical traditions only to embrace radical leftist attitudes as a result. To simply tell you that you can still be traditionally Christian, and appreciate fairness at the same time. It’s not an Either/Or.

  210. Seraph wrote:

    Mercy wrote:
    Seraph wrote:
    Oh, and if there isn’t anything that sums up how this shaped even “secular” efforts: Look no further.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTKIqc6vQXI
    Same goes for our Jewish friends, and how they treat women. These and the above are the real people with unbroken traditions and context. Yet they don’t keep women down. It’s those who cut themselves off that end up being more oppressive.
    So now you have a political agenda. Why are you here? You’ve maligned the majority of members in one form or another. I call you out for your abusive manner.
    Political? Because I showed Christian girls arming themselves against ISIS in Syria? It’s not political. It’s merely to illustrate how this is second nature to them. They don’t have a pervasive culture of oppressing women as people mistake them to have.. despite being from old Christian traditions.
    It’s funny though that I still get resistance from a website that prides itself on how badly the Protestant churches are treating it’s members. My only “agenda” was testing the waters, to see if anyone might be receptive to ALL that the church offers.. that you not break away from these Evangelical traditions only to embrace radical leftist attitudes as a result. To simply tell you that you can still be traditionally Christian, and appreciate fairness at the same time. It’s not an Either/Or.

    I repeat, why are you here? I thought you had said good bye.

  211. Patti wrote:

    I just found the article that I remembered reading by an insider at Willow Creek who complained that the church was not as egalitarian as it should be. https://esmartinonline.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/82/

    Well, this is interesting. You can give yourself any label you want, but where is your heart? That’s what I see here.

    Seraph wrote:

    The insistence on him being a male is simply to follow Christ. It HAD NOTHING to do with shutting out women completely!

    I mean…that seems to be the spin on it. Not sure if I buy it any more than any other arguments at this point.

  212. Seraph wrote:

    My only “agenda” was testing the waters, to see if anyone might be receptive to ALL that the church offers..

    Eh, you’re agenda seems to be to try to convert people to your particular wing of faith…and you’re not doing a good job of it. People are not receptive for a reason.

  213. Ten years ago, Bill Hybels confessed “We made a mistake” about Willow Creek’s focus on seeker-friendly methodology to get them in church, while failing to make them disciples of Christ.

    Today, we are talking about alleged immoral failings of this church leader.

    Why would anyone want to attend a Global Leadership Summit hosted by this sort of “leader”?

  214. @ Seraph:
    I don’t know how this proves “Christian girls” the world over would not try to defend themselves if faced with a similar situation?

  215. @ Lea:
    Funny, I was thinking if we were invaded, I would like to be closer to Nancy 2, to give me a crash course. . I do quite well, frankly, when I take my visiting Brit friends to the firing range. I still have fight in me.

  216. SallyVee wrote:

    Having lived in Chicago, knowing a number of WC members, and knowing something of the wealth & power among its membership – not to mention WC’s role in the wider Drucker Empire – I’m just sayin’ Hybels is far, far more likely to fade into retirement unscathed, than he is to ever be held accountable. There is way too much earthly gain at stake here. Believe it.

    Quite possibly true that Bill will go “unscathed” here in this life.
    However, according to the scriptures, which are purportedly his final rule of faith & practice, if he is lying, he will face a Holy God with the fact that he “bold-faced” lied to church authority, in the Presence of God, AND did further harm to his accusers by labeling them liars. THAT fact alone, for a Christian, no less a leader with expansive influence, is sobering. The scripture in Proverbs 1: 7 reminds us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Living in humility daily before the Lord, wary of our own sinful tendencies, and keeping a HEALTHY fear of the Lord before our eyes, is an essential and timeless discipline for each of us as Christians. I fear that in our mega church environments, we place fallible humans in positions that exceed their ability to maintain these spiritual basics…that exceed their ability to keep an accurate view of themselves.
    In this specific situation, I am praying the Lord brings truth to light, for the good of ALL concerned. And, I am again reminded of my need to pursue holiness and purity before the Lord daily…as a FIRST priority.

  217. Law Prof wrote:

    By the way, it appears than the main reason we were talking past each other and getting increasingly confused was because I was making incorrect assumptions about your beliefs. Sorry about that!

    That’s all right. Thanks for engaging, I find religion an interesting debate and I genuinely want to understand the other side of any debate that I’m taking part of. I can get acerbic in trying to get my point across so I apologize for any assumptions I made as well.

    I think the main point that you and I may find difference is whether true atheists can have “morals”. I believe that you can be completely convinced there is no God, yet at the same time do the right thing and mean it in more than a mechanistic way. I could bring up such concepts as the “social contract” but that’ll be a debate for another day.

    Hope that you and yours have a good Easter weekend. For Christians, this is a celebration of the resurrection. As we reflect on our differences in belief, I think we can all get behind the concept of redemption.

  218. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    I periodically question my Christian faith when things don’t make sense. But I don’t find a logically satisfying way to be an atheist – it has too many logical difficulties. For me to become an atheist would be a leap of faith I am not able to take. In the end, there is no airtight case for either atheism or theism, but Christianity makes the most sense to me, even though it has representatives that give it a very bad name. I hope this helps.

    Nicely put, Ken F. A well thought out treatise. I think Law Prof is right in the way that we all act in our self interest. That could be the basis of “morality”. In ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh would marry his biological sister , which brings all sorts of issues to the forefront but the ancient Egyptians believed the Pharaoh to be a God so it would make sense to them to purify the God’s lineage. We don’t get it, but it made sense to them.
    But there are some core “morals” that are detrimental to our society that have evolved as almost (note I said almost) universal mores. For example, us killing each other is not a natural instinct and is detrimental to our species as a whole. I read somewhere that after WW2 both the Allies and German troops would sometimes fire into the air rather than at the opponent. Yet in the Bible we get glimpses of how warfare was conducted, with the slaughter of your enemies to the last man, woman and child. The evolution of society or something more? We could endlessly debate but I’ll leave it with wishing you and yours a good Easter.

  219. Jack wrote:

    I could bring up such concepts as the “social contract” but that’ll be a debate for another day.

    I almost brought that up but I haven’t really discussed since school and didn’t want to look it up!

    I think morality can easily be based solely on interacting with our fellow humans. We were talking in church about the love god, which is vertical, and love others, which is horizontal. You don’t need the vertical to practice the horizontal.

  220. Bridget wrote:

    Just a side note here. Some people do these things out of a love for God, not out of fear of God

    Point well taken! Happy Easter!

  221. Bridget wrote:

    Patti wrote:

    I just found the article that I remembered reading by an insider at Willow Creek who complained that the church was not as egalitarian as it should be. https://esmartinonline.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/82/

    That blogger has some interesting articles about hierarchical complementarianism.

    I am finding that it is becoming vogue for Christians and Christian leaders to say that they are egalitarian when really all they mean is that women are as human as men are. Yea! They agree with 20th century science! Sorry, I’m finding myself snarky this morning after writing my online history of psychology discussion post late last night on the subject of eugenics. So . . . many . . . emotions . . .

  222. Seraph wrote:

    How do you know it wasn’t because you were Christian? Honest question. How do you separate that.. when you yourself admit you were Christian at the time? Are you really able to chart the causes and effects on conscience and consciousness?

    I was old enough to know right from wrong. Christianity didn’t prevent me from going down the wrong path. I didn’t blame God then and I don’t now. I was author of my own misery and the significance didn’t really strike me until I grew up. This is why I think these leaders can do what they do and still identify as Christian. I also think that’s why they genuinely are taken aback when they are criticized. Legends in their own minds.
    Anyway, have a great Easter.

  223. Lea wrote:

    To profess to be a Christian and to follow a set of standards, while going 100% the other direction is deep hypocrisy. We saw it with Andy giving True Love Waits speeches right after taking advantage of a high school girl.

    Are these people Christians who make ‘mistakes’, or are they lying liars who pretend to be Christian to get money, fame, women? That’s the question here really. It has nothing, to me, to do with atheists moral standards (and many are quite moral).

    My guess is guys like Andy Savage surround themselves in a culture where they can justify what they’ve done and be “redeemed” by God. Notice this seems to be about them. They’ll talk about it being “20 years ago” and how they’ve changed because in their mind, God forgave them and that’s reinforced by their buddies telling them repeatedly the same thing. Until they become convinced that they have genuinely done the right thing! Like the “smartest man in the room” syndrome, a cycle of reinforcements. Guys like Savage, and Mahaney don’t believe they have done anything wrong, and if they did then they were forgiven.
    Very selfish. I’m of the mind that in situations of abuse only the victim can truly forgive and then only when it benefits the victim to do so. Have a great Easter.

  224. Muff Potter wrote:

    I’m still in ‘the faith’, albeit my own version of ‘the faith’, and yet I too flatly reject the premise that rightness and morality can only be legitimate when accompanied by a belief in God.

    During the Holocaust when the trains went East to the gas chambers there was a multitude of people who believed fervently in God and still did nothing.

    And there were also those with no belief in God who did something with no thought of personal gain simply because it was the right thing to do.

    Thanks for the link! I often find that we all have more in common in spite of our disparate belief systems. Many here come the same conclusions via different roads. Have a great easter.

  225. Lea wrote:

    Jack wrote:
    I could bring up such concepts as the “social contract” but that’ll be a debate for another day.
    I almost brought that up but I haven’t really discussed since school and didn’t want to look it up!
    I think morality can easily be based solely on interacting with our fellow humans. We were talking in church about the love god, which is vertical, and love others, which is horizontal. You don’t need the vertical to practice the horizontal.

    Well said!

  226. Jack wrote:

    Seraph wrote:
    How do you know it wasn’t because you were Christian? Honest question. How do you separate that.. when you yourself admit you were Christian at the time? Are you really able to chart the causes and effects on conscience and consciousness?
    I was old enough to know right from wrong. Christianity didn’t prevent me from going down the wrong path. I didn’t blame God then and I don’t now. I was author of my own misery and the significance didn’t really strike me until I grew up. This is why I think these leaders can do what they do and still identify as Christian. I also think that’s why they genuinely are taken aback when they are criticized. Legends in their own minds.
    Anyway, have a great Easter.

    Jack, thank you for your honest and respectful input. I have found your transparency more encouraging than what we see in many professing christians.

  227. Forrest wrote:

    High Five to Jack! You have a knack of accurately describing much of what passes for church. Your insights are helpful. Much of what we see in Christendom, however, does not reflect the truth and is not ‘approved’ by Jesus.

    Thanks, Forrest! I still struggle to understand faith or lack thereof. I was a Christian for many years and now I liken existence to a puzzle that I may never fully solve. But that’s ok, it’s a mystery that I enjoy living with. Happy Easter to you and yours.

  228. Jack wrote:

    They’ll talk about it being “20 years ago” and how they’ve changed because in their mind, God forgave them and that’s reinforced by their buddies telling them repeatedly the same thing. [snip}

    Very selfish. I’m of the mind that in situations of abuse only the victim can truly forgive and then only when it benefits the victim to do so. Have a great Easter.

    Ah, see I would say that by focusing on the ‘god forgave them’ bit they are looking at the vertical (love god) and missing entirely the love for others that we are also called to. I think forgiveness is the same, in that forgiveness from god does not mean we need to neglect the real people we’ve actually harmed. And of course, how do you know that god has really forgiven you when you have done nothing to make up with the person you have harmed? It’s awfully easy to say that and do nothing. Sad.

  229. Jack wrote:

    Have a great Easter.

    Thanks. You too, if you are celebrating or even treating yourself to half off chocolate 😉

  230. Seraph wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Knesset
    They barely matter. None of it effects policy. Even “leftist” Israeli Jews are compelled to be Zionists (even when they don’t want to).

    Lydia, the following paper addresses in more detail the relationship between Arab Orthodox Christians and the Israeli State. The greater problem has been the infighting between the various flavours of Orthodoxy for influence (and land!) and the siding of Arab Orthodoxy with the Palestininians for a separate Palestininian State. (At least, that’s how it seems to me on reading the paper)

    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sotiris_Roussos/publication/233127798_Eastern_Orthodox_Perspectives_on_Church-State_Relations_and_Religion_and_Politics_in_Modern_Jerusalem/links/595904fc0f7e9ba95e125fe4/Eastern-Orthodox-Perspectives-on-Church-State-Relations-and-Religion-and-Politics-in-Modern-Jerusalem.pdf?origin=publication_detail

  231. Lea wrote:

    Jack wrote:

    Have a great Easter.

    Thanks. You too, if you are celebrating or even treating yourself to half off chocolate

    It is good to see the real love and concern that is shown here by most. Happy Easter to you all. 🙂

  232. Law Prof wrote:

    There is no such thing as integrity or goodness or decency if there is just matter and energy, and if you contend there is some mystical “good” out there in the universe, some law which one should obey, how is that different from belief in a higher being?

    You raise a good point. But only with regard to the Origins of ‘rightness’ which is, in my opinion, what this whole dispute is about. For people of no faith (e.g. Tina Strobos during the German occupation of Holland) who do the right thing, it’s simply the right thing to do without the baggage and steamer trunks lugged about by religionists.

  233. @ Patti:

    Many years ago, when Willow Creek was promoting their egalitarian brand, I was in the mega world consulting. It had the air of affirmative action about it, not spiritual gifting. At least CBE focuses on the imperative of spiritual gifting which really opens up the playing field.

    I gave up on institutions with this issue. Anyone can start a church. Any group can be the Body of Christ. There are plenty of women in history who just developed their spiritual gifts and used them for the edification of everyone. Katherine Bushnell, Catherine Booth, etc, etc.

  234. Lydia wrote:

    When a Jew is elected to the PLA, let me know.

    I still say that you and I could argue politics like two Jews in Tel Aviv and still find common ground.
    L’CHAIM!

  235. Jack wrote:

    Thanks for the link! I often find that we all have more in common in spite of our disparate belief systems. Many here come the same conclusions via different roads. Have a great easter.

    Thanx Jack. A happy Easter to you and yours too!

  236. @ Muff Potter:

    There is a gracious plenty for discussion concerning the philosophical issue of the moral argument for the existence of God. Wiki has a little intro article. There is some good stuff on youtube which can get delightful if one loves it when somebody or the other gets the better of someotherbody or otherother in some debate on the subject.

    I have to say that I enjoy the arguments and the debates too much and probably value the issue itself too little, since it is not why I believe. However, if it is somebody else’s issue then it certainly should be taken seriously. IMO, material reality if derived from only the laws of nature and the mindless forces which are the subjects of scientific inquire does not explain morality/ethics but rather can explain why some things happen which may appear to be ethical decisions but which may not be that at all. And yes, someone might be abiding by a moral code which could only be understood if there is a God while that person may have no idea of any connection between morality and God and while that person may exercise better moral behavior that God-believers and while that person may be staunchly atheist in their thinking and self definition.

    Is there a God on the one hand, and do people know there is a God on the other hand are two different issues. Is morality explainable only if there is some external source of the morality compared to do people perceive and experience morality as derived from some external source are also two different questions.

    And if one thinks that the moral argument demonstrates the necessity of a God, then the question gets really interesting since then one must say what is God/ or a god, and which god, and what are the attributes of said god, and how does one know these things.

    Interesting subject.

  237. Jack wrote:

    but I’ll leave it with wishing you and yours a good Easter.

    I wish you and yours the same. I am grateful for this place where we can civilly wrestle with difficult topics.

  238. miot wrote:

    Seraph wrote:

    embrace radical leftist attitudes as a result

    Which radical leftist attitudes are you speaking about?

    Feminist, transexual priest with a clown suit, preaching a sermon about abortion, baptizing in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

    I wish that was truly in jest. That’s happened somewhere.. maybe not all at once. :\

    One can champion women’s roles and not throw out the baby with the bathwater.. because the church has always empowered women.

    Also, some may think I may be trying to change their loyalties, but I’m not. I believe good Christians exist everywhere. I only want to open people up to history and find inspiration from it. My main criticism of Evangelicals is shutting out this history. Because it’s helpful to the current problems some of their churches face. Some that all face really.

    God bless

  239. You really should watch the video from Willow Creek’s meeting with their attenders, instead of just taking the Tribune report as Gospel. I am impressed with the thoroughness of the investigation done by the Willow Creek Elders. I am also very troubled by the lack of wisdom and integrity by those making the accusations.

  240. Actually a less comical example of leftist revision is Elaine Pagels and the new Gnostic trend. People who feel women are deprived in the Church accept this narrative that it’s been some giant Patriarchal conspiracy, and they suppressed the true “female” leadership of Mary Magdalene, turning the Apostles themselves into petty conspirators along with Byzantium and Rome.

    But this dangerous.. no one needed to look far to find strong females in the Church. The Church never suppressed them. And the only reason the Church condemned Gnosticism was the same reasons it frowned on Neo-Platonism and Pythagoreanism. One of which that Christ didn’t have “secret” knowledge only a privileged few.. but that he gave the Truth freely. Gnosticism is the religion of Gurus, of Masters, of keeping some in the light and some in the dark, and ultimately breeds slavery. Plato himself justified a slave Order. So these feminists, starting with Pagels, thinking their throwing off the chains of Patriarchy, are unknowingly embracing an even brutal system.

  241. ^Wow.. my grammar in that last post was atrocious and hastily written. Forgive me. I hope you could make sense out of it.

  242. Mark Stuenzi wrote:

    am also very troubled by the lack of wisdom and integrity by those making the accusations.

    You are questioning the integrity of the Ortbergs and the Mellados? Seriously?

  243. SallyVee wrote:

    Having lived in Chicago, knowing a number of WC members, and knowing something of the wealth & power among its membership – not to mention WC’s role in the wider Drucker Empire – I’m just sayin’ Hybels is far, far more likely to fade into retirement unscathed, than he is to ever be held accountable. There is way too much earthly gain at stake here. Believe it

    ————————–

    Yes. Sadly I agree. The video from the Monday night Family Meeting is available on line. They walked back some of their more “agressive” language about the families & women involved; but make no mistake, the consciously used that meeting to slander and throw their friends, the Ortbergs and the Mellados under the Willow Creek Bus!!!! It was in my opinion a slickly produced, performance. 1 table “acted” as moderators (the 2 new pastors), the other table acted as “defendants” even as “the victims.”

  244. @ Mark Stuenzi:
    That is always part of the problem. The people closest to the throne are usually wealthy and powerful, too. They were chosen for a reason to be on boards. They are from the same socio-economic background and thinking. There used to be a joke in the 90’s about mega boards being the young millionaires clubs.

  245. okrapod wrote:

    IMO, material reality if derived from only the laws of nature and the mindless forces which are the subjects of scientific inquire does not explain morality/ethics but rather can explain why some things happen which may appear to be ethical decisions but which may not be that at all. And yes, someone might be abiding by a moral code which could only be understood if there is a God while that person may have no idea of any connection between morality and God and while that person may exercise better moral behavior that God-believers and while that person may be staunchly atheist in their thinking and self definition.

    I agree that a moral compass put there by Almighty God makes way more sense than arrival by a long iterative procedure through natural selection.
    To me, the moral compass itself, and that we all have one is of primary importance, not its origins.

    What I do take issue with, is the implicit notion (by various religionists) that those of no faith who heed the direction of goodness and exercise their divine nature are somehow acting under ‘mixed motives’, and by extension, the good that they do by their tangible deeds is somehow not valid.

  246. dee wrote:

    Mark Stuenzi wrote:

    am also very troubled by the lack of wisdom and integrity by those making the accusations.

    You are questioning the integrity of the Ortbergs and the Mellados? Seriously?

    “The Ortbergs and Mellados were once close enough to Bill and Lynne Hybels that the three couples were part of a home Bible study. Now they are estranged.” (Christianity Today)

    Friends who were once close sometimes become estranged when they really get to know each other. Believers who once fellowshipped with church leaders sometimes distance themselves from those leaders after observing that they are not walking the talk. The Ortbergs and Mellados are not average disgruntled ex-church members.

  247. Lydia wrote:

    The people closest to the throne are usually wealthy and powerful, too. They were chosen for a reason to be on boards.

    And usually spill the beans when they discover they have been used.

  248. At one point Bill was a faithful man of God. He fell like any one of us. It’s tough and not easy to stay faithful, especially if one is unhappy in a marriage. But, I can’t believe and disappointed at Bill’s defence. Come out clean and find the Grace of God that you once had.

  249. Jp23 wrote:

    At one point Bill was a faithful man of God.

    Was he? How would you measure a “faithful” minister and his ministry? In Hybels’ case, don’t include “tremendous church growth” in that list. He was the architect of seeker-friendly church. Anyone can grow a church with enough charisma armed with the right message and method to attract folks – it has little do do with faith. Some of the most faithful men of God are living out their calling in obscure places. The first will be last; the last will be first. Was Hybels faithful to God or to his way of doing church?

  250. Thinking about it, I remember reading a wee post by someone who was impressed by Mark Driskle’s humility.

  251. John Ortberg
    Observations on the Chicago Tribune article re: Willow Creek Leadership
    Published April 2nd, 2018

    It takes great courage for women to tell their stories.

    Even in ordinary settings, it is often risky for women to report misconduct. The high visibility of Willow Creek Community Church makes it even more daunting than an ordinary setting.

    When anyone who believes they have been the object of sexual misconduct finds the courage to step up, a robust process needs to be in place to safeguard their testimony and their reputation, as well as to safeguard the church’s ministry and congregation. Most of us will never know the price a woman pays in such a situation. It is rare that there is only one story of misconduct, and if a supportive process is not in place, others who have important information to share may well be discouraged from coming forward.

    I was approached over four years ago with disturbing information that I did not seek out. Along with others who received this information, I directed it to the elders of Willow Creek. The process that followed was, in my view, poorly designed and likely to expose any woman who came forward to grave risks.

    An independent investigation by an outside, trained expert should have been thoroughly carried out before the senior pastor was first approached. To my knowledge that did not happen. The firm chosen to investigate (more than a year after the first report) is one that, as stated on their website, “exclusively represents management.” Of course, both sides of an accusation deserve a hearing and fair representation, but a firm that is retained by one side, and whose principal work is to represent one side in such disputes, cannot be considered independent.

    These concerns, shared by myself and others, were communicated by counsel (who shared those concerns) directly to Willow Creek attorneys, but they proceeded as planned. As a result, I believe they failed to discover and thoroughly investigate important information. I and others were left with the painful decision to not participate in a process I believed lacked genuine independence and credibility.

    This is not a reconciliation issue between Bill Hybels and me. We had no conflict. I spent nine wonderful years on Willow Creek’s staff and taught there regularly and joyfully for years after my departure. My wife served with delight on the Willow Creek Association board. The idea that we have colluded to manufacture or encourage these stories is untrue and a diversion. Any call for reconciliation is a complete distraction from the real story. The stories of the women themselves are the main concern.

    Anyone who may have been victimized by people in power needs to know that the church of Jesus is their refuge and champion. In this case, the tremendous courage of several women has been met with an inadequate process that has left them without a refuge and with no way to be assured of a fair hearing. Just one week after the Chicago Tribune reported claims of misconduct that had not been investigated by the church, by women willing to be named and by others as yet unwilling to be named, the church held “family meetings” presenting the senior pastor’s and elders’ position. It is clear they hope this will put all these matters to rest.

    In a family, all voices should be heard, and every story should be told. This should happen in a setting where there is a balance of power and independent judgment can be made about their accounts.

    The women cannot and must not be silenced.

  252. Re: the arms comment – I was on staff then and a lot of us mentioned how toned Nancy’s arms were! It wasn’t weird – it was a compliment- she was lovely inside and out!!

  253. Wow, the fact that this convinced you otherwise is what any member who has faith in the church should saying when reading a response like that. There are two sides to this, both unrefutable because it one’s word against another. The church isn’t hear to put on a show for you, they’re normal people who sin as frequently as you, so even IF this was true, it’s interesting to see how a man who has accomplished more for the Lord’s kingdom then many in the North America is no longer “one of the good ones” to you. @ srs:

  254. Mikki wrote:

    I was on staff then and a lot of us mentioned how toned Nancy’s arms were! It wasn’t weird – it was a compliment- she was lovely inside and out!!

    ummmmm, interesting. So the staff was into commenting on one’s physical attributes? Toned arms? What about toned abs or butts. Which body parts did you focus on?

  255. crk wrote:

    it’s interesting to see how a man who has accomplished more for the Lord’s kingdom then many in the North America is no longer “one of the good ones” to you.

    So, what you are saying is that a number of good works as defined by WC is more important to God’s kingdom than speaking out against sexual abuse? So this whole Christian thing is dominated by who does the most Goode works that are seen by lots of people?

    And yes. If Hybels did what he is accused of doing, he has a real problem and he doesn’t get a pass because crk thinks he has done plenty of good works.

  256. Mikki wrote:

    Re: the arms comment – I was on staff then and a lot of us mentioned how toned Nancy’s arms were! It wasn’t weird – it was a compliment- she was lovely inside and out!!

    I would be very, very cautious in claiming that this was normative within WC. This raises red flags for me.

  257. dee wrote:

    ummmmm, interesting. So the staff was into commenting on one’s physical attributes? Toned arms? What about toned abs or butts. Which body parts did you focus on?

    Yes, I was going to say the same thing. Dee, you mentioned abs or butts – you might as well throw in legs and boobs while you’re at it. Anyone notice Nancy’s boobs or legs? Did she have nice boobs or legs? I’m not thinking sexually, I mean, she’s nice inside and out. …sarcasm

    Ick, if this is normal, this is not a healthy environment to work in.

  258. crk wrote:

    it’s interesting to see how a man who has accomplished more for the Lord’s kingdom then many in the North America is no longer “one of the good ones” to you

    “Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back, it wasn’t helping people that much … We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.” (Bill Hybels) http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2007/october-online-only/willow-creek-repents.html

    “Mega” is not a good measure of success in ministry. Accomplishing “more” is less in the Kingdom of God if it does not create disciples of Christ.

  259. Max wrote:

    “Mega” is not a good measure of success in ministry. Accomplishing “more” is less in the Kingdom of God if it does not create disciples of Christ.

    Weekly, concerts and sports and films fill arenas and theatres and concert halls. Ticket sales and tithes. Entertainment. A spectator event. Show up and drop your dollars in the bucket. The business thrives and those on stage get a paycheck, sometimes mega, sometimes accompanied with applause (Hybels & Savage).

  260. Lydia wrote:

    @ Mark Stuenzi:
    An in-house produced and scripted video usually works for the fans.

    Just ask Elron Hubbard and David Miscavage.

  261. Lydia wrote:

    There used to be a joke in the 90’s about mega boards being the young millionaires clubs.

    If not the Billionaire Boys’ Clubs.

  262. Jack wrote:

    This is why I think these leaders can do what they do and still identify as Christian. I also think that’s why they genuinely are taken aback when they are criticized. Legends in their own minds.

    Legends in their own minds, laughingstocks in everyone else’s.

  263. Jack wrote:

    Guys like Savage, and Mahaney don’t believe they have done anything wrong, and if they did then they were forgiven.

    If not “I Can Do No Wrong”.

  264. Seraph wrote:

    My only “agenda” was testing the waters, to see if anyone might be receptive to ALL that the church offers..

    “All that the church offers” or “All that ORTHODOXY offers”?

    I’ve encountered several cage-phase Orthodox on the Web. They remind me of nothing so much as cage-phase HyperCalvinists or Calvary Chapelites, just their One True Church is different. But much of the baggage & attitude are the same. That’s my main beef about Net Orthodoxy types.

  265. Seraph wrote:

    Any attempt at democracy, humility, or fairness was the Morality of the Slave. Specifically the jealous Jewish slave, who wishes to bring the “noble, self defining Man” down.

    “Noble, self-defining Man”?
    That turn of phrase reminds me of Ayn Rand Objectivism.

  266. R u serious. In 42 years, all that is dredged up is an uncomfortable hug, a recanted accusation of an affair, and a few issues that could easily be misunderstood. If that’s all that is against him, why the big deal? In thousands of interactions with people, this is all? None of these former staffers accuse him of bullying, lying, or sexually predative behaviour. This does not fit the pattern of an abuser. It’s not like the others!

  267. crk wrote:

    so even IF this was true, it’s interesting to see how a man who has accomplished more for the Lord’s kingdom then many in the North America

    I just want to pull this out, because it’s the perfect example of what not to say and think in these situations.

  268. As i read all of this and am grieved deeply by it all,
    I know there are calls for “Outside Independent Investigation” etc.
    I greatly respect John Ortberg. He was one of my pastors when I was at WC in the 90s. An awesome man of God!
    However, Where in the Bible do we find that a church must go get such an investigator. It’s not in Matthew Chapter 18, which by the way is Jesus’ guidelines for church discipline and restoration of a wayward brother or sister. Seems like WC and their elders more than followed this process. Or, perhaps, because Willow is a mega church, Jesus’ process in Matthew 18 is inadequate? Or, perhaps some people are simply smarter than Jesus? Wow!

    @ Mark Stuenzi:

  269. As i read all of this and am grieved deeply by it all,
    I know there are calls for “Outside Independent Investigation” etc.
    I greatly respect John Ortberg. He was one of my pastors when I was at WC in the 90s. An awesome man of God!
    However, where in the Bible do we find that a church must go get such an investigator? It’s not in Matthew Chapter 18, which by the way is Jesus’ guidelines for church discipline and restoration of a wayward brother or sister. Seems like WC and their elders more than followed this process. Or, perhaps, because Willow is a mega church, Jesus’ process in Matthew 18 is inadequate? Or, perhaps some people are simply smarter than Jesus? Wow!

    @ Mike:

  270. I’ve been reading my Bible. Looks like most commentors here haven’t been. I’d start with Matthew Chapter 18.

    As i read all of this and am grieved deeply by it all,
    I know there are calls for “Outside Independent Investigation” etc.
    I greatly respect John Ortberg. He was one of my pastors when I was at WC in the 90s. An awesome man of God!
    However, where in the Bible do we find that a church must go get such an investigator? It’s not in Matthew Chapter 18, which by the way is Jesus’ guidelines for church discipline and restoration of a wayward brother or sister. Seems like WC and their elders more than followed this process. Or, perhaps, because Willow is a mega church, Jesus’ process in Matthew 18 is inadequate? Or, perhaps some people are simply smarter than Jesus? Wow!

    @ Max:

  271. Brad Brucker wrote:

    Seems like WC and their elders more than followed this process. Or, perhaps, because Willow is a mega church, Jesus’ process in Matthew 18 is inadequate? Or, perhaps some people are simply smarter than Jesus?

    Or perhaps some elders are more concerned about their pastor and their church, than the Name of Jesus? The cult of personality is a powerful thing … if you get too close to it, it gets on you and obscures reality.

  272. Brad Brucker wrote:

    I’ve been reading my Bible. Looks like most commentors here haven’t been.

    BWAH. Heh.

    I read the part where they said to take it to the church in Matthew 18. Did the church get all the details from the sources in order to make a fair decision?

  273. I’ve always been inspired by Willow Creek and its leaders. I still appreciate everything they’ve taught me as a pastor. Besides I’m not in the position to judge anyone personally, but I do think there’s a problem with the leaderships position of people like Bill Hybels. Most people cannot bear the weight of such a position for too long without starting to corrupt their own principles. We as church members make those leaders by adoring them too much and asking from them to stay in those positions for too long. Leaders shouldn’t stay in such positions for longer then say 10 years. If a church isn’t able to carry on under the leadership of a new leader, then there is something unhealthy in that church.

  274. Only you could select the correct investigator, only you know the correct method of investigation, only you are able to determine what should be investigated, only you should determine what is inappropriate behavior, only you get to decide what gets released, since Only you could do all these things you decided to not participate in the investigation done by the elders, only you feel you are uniquely able to make judgements. You said you didn’t go looking for this, not true you made a decision to insert yourself by choosing to disregard the recanted story and to dismiss the external investigation. It appears that all knowledge will die with you.

  275. Seriously? You’re dragging President Trump into this?? I don’t know if the accusations are true or false, but your comments are rampantly biased. @ SallyVee:

  276. @ AG:
    I am so sorry. That remark slipped past. We do not allow politics to be discussed on this blog. We already get hammered for what we do discuss. Our hill to die on is abuse,.

  277. @ dee:
    @ dee:
    Exactly! In the corporate business world these comments would fail the litmus test for respectful workplace and might even be construed as sexual harrassment. The company I worked, required annual attendance at respectful workplace education. The guidelines in this arena are very strigent and anything that can be construed as sexual harrassment is made very clear with a zero tolerance policy.

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