Did a Large SBC Entity Refuse to Report a Known Sex Offender to Authorities and to Other Churches? Law Enforcement Is Now Investigating. #sbctoo #metoo

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

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This is a hard post for me to write. It causes me to question the sincerity of both the Calvinists and the Billy Graham wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. TWW has been irritated at the SBC’s outright refusal to maintain a database of abusive SBC pastors. For a while, we even considered the argument that having such a database puts the SBC at risk if somehow they overlook a predator who then slips through and the victim sues the entire SBC. I had been told that the SBC might even cooperate with an independent database from which the SBC could contract for such services.

However, what if this was all a ruse? What if the SBC doesn’t want a database because they never intended on reporting some sexual abuse cases to the authorities? What if they really believe sex abuse should be investigated and handled internally despite what they say? What if we have all been had? Although I have left the SBC and have found refuge in a conservative Lutheran church because I tired of their eternal theological battles, Deb is still a member of an SBC church to which she contributes.

TWW, along with Amy Smith of WatchKeep, present the story of Anne Marie Miller. Anne is a well known author who has discussed her abuse on her blog and now on Go Fund Me. Anne has asked us not say the name of the SBC entity but we cannot prevent people from figuring it out. A detective involved in the investigation has asked Anne not to use the name of her abuser at this time. However, we happen to know the cat is out of the bag and many people know who he is. TWW cannot, and will not, attempt to prevent others from guessing his name.

Who is Anne Marie Miller?

Anne has a website in her name. Although she is no longer blogging, her website is still online. Here is what she says about herself.

Anne Marie Miller is the author of several books on the topics of sexuality, health, addiction, grace and ministry leadership. She lives with her husband, Tim, and daughter in the Dallas/Fort-Worth metroplex.

Anne is a popular keynote speaker at colleges, conventions and churches on topics of social justice, sexuality, mental health, and addiction. She has traveled around the United States and to over 20 countries telling the stories of hope found in the least likely places. She is a graduate with a diploma from the exclusive SCORRE Conference for professional public speakers.

After her book 5 Things published, Anne left the Christian publishing industry and is currently finishing her degree in Health Sciences and Diabetes Education.

She is known for her books, especially Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic. She stopped blogging in May 2017 with this final post. (Have tissues own hand.) However, in May of this year she added two posts. One addressed to her daughter and one which we will discuss below.

I have heard from a number of people who have followed Anne for years and have greatly benefitted by her writing. She has written and spoken about her own experience of sexual abuse .

Thanks to the ministry of Jules Woodson, Dee and Amy Smith became involved in Anne’s story.

Anne reached out to Jules to discuss their common story. Anne had been sexually molested by a youth pastor when she was 16 years old. It is an event that has had a profound, negative impact on her life. Jules then reached out to us. As Anne told us all her story of going to the SBC and reporting her abuse, along with the SBC’s refusal to call the authorities, she began to experience serious psychiatric repercussions (totally understandable) and wisely decided to be admitted to an inpatient facility for help in coping with her decades long pain.

Amy and I commend Jules for her unconditional love and firm support of Anne during this difficult time. It is amazing, considering Jules’ own recent trauma and vindication.

Why did Anne Miller suddenly post her statement on abuse on May 10, 2018, one year after having stopped blogging?

The answer is really quite simple. Anne has decided to go public with her story. She was sexually abused by a youth pastor and then re-abused by the leaders in the SBC who decided to NOT report this incident to the police.

I only break my social media silence for very important things. With the spotlight on the SBC and abuses of all kinds, I can’t stay silent. People within the church and within the SBC have sexually and emotionally abused me and many I love. The cover-ups by the church and the SBC specifically further perpetuate this abuse.

If you have been abused by anyone, report it to authorities in law enforcement. Do NOT go to your church to report abuse in an effort to “keep the peace.” Go to the authorities. It is not the church’s job to investigate and penalize criminals. It is not man’s duty to protect the church. God can do that just fine on his own. He has his work cut out for him and it could only take God to bring good out of the egocentric tarnishing that continues to happen as people use his name for their own advances and to cover up their fears of being found out for what we all are—human—and for what some are—criminal. Being human is not a mistake.

Being a criminal is and criminals need to be held accountable for their crimes.

The police are now involved and the SBC entity has been made aware of this.

We have know about this story for many weeks. During that period of time, Anne decided to report this matter to the relevant authorities. The police have taken this matter very seriously and a detective has been working closely with Anne. It is our understanding that the relevant SBC agency has been notified that this matter is under investigation. We know more about this matter and hope to write another post in the near future.

We know the name of Anne’s molester but are attempting to be cooperative with the detective who has asked us not to name him publicly for a bit it longer. However, we have no ability to stop others from speculating as to his identity which we know is inevitable in this situation.

The basic story as told by Anne with a few added details to help the reader.

Anne started a Go Fund Me page to help pay for her time in rehab. Maybe the SBC should step and and pay for her desperately needed care. All of the quotes are from her story on Go Fund Me.

Anne was molested when she was 16 by a 25 year old youth pastor.

This molestation happened over the course of 6 months.

If you read any of my books or my blog, you know that I was sexually abused in 1996, when I was just 16 years old. The man who did this was a 25-year-old seminary student and youth pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention. You also did know I did not recognize it as abuse until I was his age in 2005.

…the criminal who molested me for six months

Her SBC church counselor told her to forgive him and do nothing more.

The day after I recognized it as abuse, I went to a church counselor within my SBC church where I worked who told me to work on my forgiveness and that to do anything about it would do more harm than good to the body of Christ, the church. I followed that counsel and that is what I did.

A year later, in 2006, at the suggestion of my counselor, I wrote my abuser a letter saying I forgave him for what happened. He never responded.

An internal investigation declared him responsible for Anne’s molestation but did not stop his career in the SBC.

What we know: Anne’s abuser was recalled by the entity and was found guilty of abusing her. He was not allowed to return to that position. However, he was allowed to take another pastoral position in a large, well known church and eventually he moved into a position of leadership in a regional SBC entity. We believe that he is allowed to work with children. It is my understanding that none of these subsequent groups/churches were told of his abuse of Anne.

I learned on March 20, 2018, that this man was not appropriately reported to law enforcement by the organization who investigated him internally (in 2007) and found him to have abused me. This man was also given a chance to resign instead of being terminated.

An official criminal investigation is underway.

Anne is cooperating with law enforcement. The relevant, very large SBC entity has been notified. We also believe that a number of well known SBC leaders have become aware of this situation. I wonder how the SBC will explain the internal investigation and not reporting this to the police?

Within days of me learning he was not reported, I reported him to both CPS and law enforcement. I have been working with them over the last six weeks as they conduct this man’s criminal investigation. I have been asked by law enforcement to not publicly reveal this person’s name to protect the integrity of this investigation.

When I learned this crime was not reported, I reported it. I reported what happened to CPS on March 23, 2018 and made a police report on April 4, 2018. On both occasions, within 24 hours, the authorities followed up with me and are pursuing this man for a criminal investigation. They said they don’t care if it happened 22 seconds, 22 months, or 22 years ago. It’s a felony and justice needs to be served. I have been working diligently with the crimes against children (CAC) unit task force of this police department over the last six weeks.

Anne met with the legal counsel of this SBC entity.

It is important to understand that this pastor was allowed to *resign* from his overseas assignment. He was then allowed to continue to serve in at least one church in the midwest and one SBC regional entity in the southeast. We also believe he is attending another church where he volunteers with children

On March 20, 2018, when I asked this organization directly, I learned he was not terminated and was given a chance to resign. I then asked the legal counsel for this investigation if they reported it to law enforcement, as is mandatory in Texas. They did not because they did not believe that is what I wanted. What I wanted doesn’t matter.

It is and was required by law for them to report it. The law says this is a felony: indecency with a child of at least five counts. I remember five times specifically, but I am sure there are more. Yet they did not report it.

…This man presently serves in a position of leadership with more stature and responsibility than before.

She has been told, by the well known SBC entity with a well known leader, to *let it go* and to desire *reconciliation* for her own *well being!*

This man presently serves in a position of leadership with more stature and responsibility than before. When, over the course of the last decade since the internal investigation, I asked how it was possible, I was told to “let it go” because to dwell on it or to desire what the SBC termed “reconciliation” (what the law and what I consider is justice) would cause me more harm than good.

The refusal of this SBC entity and its well known leadership to do the *right thing* caused Anne to develop PTSD.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with PTSD because of this abuse and was hospitalized at a trauma-specific psychiatric hospital for a month to work on healing from this and other issues that stemmed from it. This treatment was incredibly effective and allowed me to write and speak and engage as you know me. It allowed me to find healing and to find me again. It allowed me to share that hope and healing with others during my tenure as a religious writer and speaker.

Working with the police has caused her trauma to resurface and she now requires hospitalization but has financial problems.

This experience has shaken me to my core. I am eternally grateful for my the CAC unit, the DA, and others involved and am grateful for all they have done and continue to do. However, in working with them, I have had to re-live many moments of my abuse. I knew this was a risk but one that I am willing to take. I’ve also suffered from the shame and guilt for NOT reporting this sooner because I realize there are likely other victims that I could have saved if I would have gone to the authorities first and not the church.

The courage it took to come forward to law enforcement may be admirable, but I now understand why more victims do not come forward. My anxiety has rendered me a shell of who I was. There have been many days in the last month where I cannot leave my bed, where I am medicated to the max just so I don’t return to the level of shock and dissociation I have previously experienced. I went to a short-term psychiatric hospital. I explored a partial hospitalization program locally. I have been faithfully seeing a psychiatrist since even before I went to the police. I thought I was prepared to handle this, but my level of re-experience trauma is beyond stable.

After talking at length with counselors, my family, my spiritual family and law enforcement, we have concluded that I need to be stabilized in an inpatient trauma facility. Instead of going to the hospital I went to in 2010, we have decided that Onsite’s Residential 30-day Trauma Program in Tennessee is the right place for me to find this healing my heart and mind so desperately need. I will start treatment on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

Before this all happened, Tim and I were saving to buy a house so that we can give our daughter a safe neighborhood to live and learn and love in. We had just paid our down payment on our house which now only leaves us with a little bit of savings when all of this happened. We will be using what money we have to help pay for treatment, but the total cost for the 30 days is $28,000. They are willing to work with me on this cost, and I want to let them know I am fully invested in my treatment and they deserve to be paid for the necessary and exceptional work they do.

Final thoughts:

  • It appears that the SBC, Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike, has no intention of reporting inconvenient sex abuse allegations, no matter what they claim.
  • I believe the SBC opened up the probability for this man to interact with children in at least two other churches. Due to some information we have received, we believe that one church has not been informed.
  • The SBC appears to have allowed him to gain a position of influence within the SBC while covering up his history.
  • We are writing this so that Anne will get justice, not SBC platitudes of “be more forgiving and reconcile.*
  • Are SBC church counselors being taught to tell members to forgive and reconcile with their abuser?
  • Why was the youth pastor/molester of a 16 year old teen allowed to continue as an SBC pastor and denomination leader?
  • We are deeply concerned about the welfare of the children in churches where this man attends. He appears to be currently working with children. It is concerning that the SBC hierarchy has not reached out to this church to warn them. We believe that everyone who is aware of this situation has a moral obligation to keep children safe by reporting this man’s actions to current and previous churches and entities as well as to the police.
  • We believe the SBC should pay for the inpatient care for Anne and that they should not require a nondisclosure agreement if they do so.
  • The large Baptist entity with a celebrity leader should go to the police and report this now, even if they know they are under investigation. Do right, SBC!
  • We will announce the perp’s name in the future.
  • Is there anyone left in the SBC leadership who can be trusted to do right when it comes to sex abuse? We don’t mean words; we mean actions. We are sick of words.
  • What is with the *let it go* advice?
  • Be sure to read Amy Smith’s post “Let it go” Southern Baptist Convention organization tells child sexual abuse victim after internal investigation and failure to report pastor to law enforcement
  • #sbctoo #calvinistbaptiststoo #noncalvinistbaptisttoo

Please join us in praying for Anne’s peace and recovery. Pray also for justice.


Comments

Did a Large SBC Entity Refuse to Report a Known Sex Offender to Authorities and to Other Churches? Law Enforcement Is Now Investigating. #sbctoo #metoo — 398 Comments

  1. “An internal investigation declared him responsible for Anne’s molestation but did not stop his career in the SBC.”

    And yet Patterson is on record ina chat with Mark Dever as support for church discipline. Would a church member in the brave new world of 9 Marks/tgc train driving get such a pass? I wonder which position is associated with being above reproach… could it be… the PASTORATE?

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  2. “What is with the *let it go* advice?”

    Seems too often to be a leveraging of forgiveness into an escape of accountability and real consequences so that boats don’t get rocked and the revenue keeps coming in.

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  3. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not promote great leaders in Your name, and in Your name collect piles of cash, and in Your name build huge ministries?’

    Sadly, some would rather practice lawlessness and do so while claiming its all for His glory. Sadder still, they seem happy to deceive others into thinking this is God’s way.

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  4. Did a Large SBC Entity Refuse to Report a Known Sex Offender to Authorities and to Other Churches?

    Yet again, “So what else is new?”

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  5. “Why was the youth pastor/molester of a 16 year old teen allowed to continue as an SBC pastor and denomination leader?”

    His THEOLOGY was Correct?
    Souls were being Saved (and TITHING)?

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  6. JDV: And yet Patterson is on record ina chat with Mark Dever as support for church discipline.

    Only for the Lowborn.
    Highborn have sexual rights over all their Lowborn inferiors.

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  7. I’m so sorry for Anne and the abuse she went through, but I’m thankful that she’s standing up to the lawless ones. She’s shining a light into a corner that’s been dark for too long. That light will disturb some because it will expose the cockroaches, but she isn’t the one who bred the bugs. Don’t blame the gal with the flashlight. Instead, blame the folks who’ve refused to clean the place for so long.

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  8. It was in 2007 that the SBC anticipated a resolution “to study the feasibility of developing a database listing Southern Baptist ministers who have been credibly accused of, confessed to or been convicted of sexual abuse or harassment.” Database didn’t happen. Here’s an article from Bob Allen, written June 11, 2007 — just days before the 2007 SBC annual meeting.

    http://www.ethicsdaily.com/sbc-to-consider-national-clergy-sex-offender-database-cms-9039

    Though this is an older article, it’s intriguing for the lengthy list of related articles (47 of them) at the bottom of the page. Looks like links are broken, but if you know how to use the Wayback Machine and want to research them, I tried a link there and the original article was archived. So, I’m assuming others are as well.

    So — SBC — you took 150 years from your founding in 1845 until 1995 to pass a resolution promoting racial reconciliation.

    How long will it take you to do something constructive sexual predators, abusers, and harassers — and not merely leave it all up to the discretion of the local churches?

    In light of #MeToo and contextualizing the gospel, and #ChurchToo and making discipleship through the church safe from sexual abuse/misconduct by clergy and congregants, how long will it take … ?

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  9. brad/futuristguy,

    So, the resolution passed unanimously on June 13, 2007, and what happened next?

    https://www.christianpost.com/news/resolution-passed-to-prevent-clergy-sex-abuse-in-sbc-churches-27963/

    The passed resolution will now require the Executive Committee to conduct a feasibility study on developing a database of Southern Baptist ministers who have been credibly accused of, personally confessed to, or legally been convicted of sexual harassment or abuse. The committee is expected to report findings and/or recommendations at next year’s convention.

    Looking for the follow-up report on findings/recommendations from the 2008 SBC annual convention — 10 years ago now.

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  10. brad/futuristguy,

    Okay, so Baptist News Global reports on June 10, 2008, on the final results of the resolution and feasibility study/recommendations with their article entitled, “SBC officials reject idea of sex-offender database.”

    https://baptistnews.com/article/sbc-officials-reject-idea-of-sex-offender-database/

    INDIANAPOLIS (ABP) — Citing Baptists’ “belief in the autonomy of each local church,” a Southern Baptist Convention official announced May 10 that the denomination’s Executive Committee would not support the creation of a database of sexual offenders in SBC churches.

    “Southern Baptists believe that the local church in New Testament times was autonomous, and thus our local churches are autonomous,” Executive Committee President Morris Chapman said in his address to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis.

    The announcement was greeted with disapproval from some Baptist child-abuse activists.

    The move came in response to a motion, passed nearly unanimously by messengers to last year’s SBC meeting, asking officials to study the database idea. Oklahoma pastor and former International Mission Board trustee Wade Burleson requested a feasibility study for such a registry “in order to assist in preventing any further sexual abuse or harassment” in Southern Baptist churches, as stated in the motion.

    However, in its report to messengers, the Executive Committee noted, “it would be impossible to assure that all convicted sexual predators who ever had a connection with a Baptist church would be discoverable for inclusion on such a list.” The report also stated that a Baptist-only database would likely omit sexual offenders coming to SBC churches from other denominations.

    Read the rest of the article for responses to the Executive Committee’s recommendation and rationale, including child-abuse activists Dee Ann Miller, pastor and former IMB trustee Wade Burleson, and national director of SNAP David Clohessy.

    At the bottom of the page, there is a list of links to 10 related articles from 2006-2007.

    It seems that the rationale of “autonomy of the local church” can be used by local leaders to reject any activity they have a distaste for, despite the collective discernment and direction of the larger SBC community. What will it take for that to change, for the sake of the witness of the gospel and for the safety of Christ’s disciples?

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  11. This demonstrates that SBC have no interest in truth. They only support and promote evil in their midst. It is time for real Christians to come out from among them.

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  12. Headless Unicorn Guy: “Why was the youth pastor/molester of a 16 year old teen allowed to continue as an SBC pastor and denomination leader?”

    His THEOLOGY was Correct?
    Souls were being Saved (and TITHING)?

    YES! ARRGGH! How can “correct theology” jive with rampant immorality?!

    IF YOUR THEOLOGY GLOSSES OVER GOD’S MORALITY, IT DOESN’T COME FROM GOD.

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  13. so sorry Anne Marie… this is so disturbing on many levels… wondering if there is any way to hold the SBC entity accountable via the legal system for not reporting it when they said they would? this is why God says it would be better for those who harm children that He wraps a millstone around their neck and throw those offenders into the deepest pit of the ocean… I don’t even have a word to describe how abominable this is.. oh wait, God does.. Proverbs 6:16-19

    my prayer is if the SBC does not do anything to address this in June, then the legal system or insurance requires the accountability system to track abusive pastors, that the SBC is required to have a victim support fund to pay for all the counseling.therapy.rehab. etc. such as for Anne for those who have been harmed by the SBC, and that 4-8+ hours of continuing education is required annually for all pastors/office bearers/leaders on abuse prevention, boundaries and ethics. I would not be surpirsed if this is going to be mandatory for all churches, required by insurance companies. It’s sad that the secular world is the one requiring it and holding churches accountable. it’s sad, first, that it is needed in the first place, and 2nd that the Institutional Church will not voluntarily do this themselves. so so wrong! Church, we can and we must do better!

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  14. This is heartbreaking to hear. 🙁

    So grateful for Anne’s newfound courage to report this man to police and seek the medical help she needs. Grateful for the support Jules was able to provide, being a women who just went through a scenario almost identical to this. Thankful for you Dee, and Deb too, for keeping your finger on the pulse of stories like this (those the religious crowd would much rather burry at the victims expense).

    #istandwithAnne

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  15. Beth74: YES! ARRGGH! How can “correct theology” jive with rampant immorality?!

    Remember the Communists with their “Purity of Ideology”?

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  16. brad/futuristguy: It seems that the rationale of “autonomy of the local church” can be used by local leaders to reject any activity they have a distaste for, despite the collective discernment and direction of the larger SBC community.

    Just like Calvary Chapel.
    “Autonomy of the Local Fellowship” when it was to their advantage to be independent/autonomous;
    One Monolith marching in lockstep under orders Ex Cathedra from Papa Chuck when that was to their advantage.

    Like in micro-armor wargaming: DISPERSE ON THE DEFENSE, CONCENTRATE TO ATTACK.

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  17. Could it be at this point, as God grieves over the condition of the SBC – from aberrations of faith to abuse by the pulpit – that He has decided to just “let it go” … that we are witnessing the last chapter of a once-great denomination? One thing is for sure – in its current condition, the SBC is not scaring the devil much any more … the enemy is having his way in SBC churches.

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  18. “Are SBC church counselors being taught to tell members to forgive and reconcile with their abuser?”

    This is a good question. It would be interesting to find out if the major “biblical” counseling organizations are in fact teaching just that to all their students, in addition to the importance of keeping things in house.

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  19. NJ: “Are SBC church counselors being taught to tell members to forgive and reconcile with their abuser?”

    This is a good question. It would be interesting to find out if the major “biblical” counseling organizations are in fact teaching just that to all their students, in addition to the importance of keeping things in house.

    I suspect that nouthetic counselors stretch 1 Cor. 6:1-6 out of context in this regard. In an effort to keep these things “in-house” and out of the courts, they misread the whole of the text where Paul addresses sexual sin (chapters 5 and 6). He advises the church to turn the perps over to Satan “for the destruction of their flesh” (1 Cor. 5:5). Have you ever heard of a church doing this?! Nope, that’s probably not in the Biblical counseling manual.

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  20. During the saga related to the guy in Memphis, I read a story from a former youth pastor at SBCVoices who had a mentor tell him that if he ‘messed up’ with a girl from youth group, he would have to leave that job, but they would find him another.

    This apparently was/is the culture. That needs to change ASAP.

    I don’t believe lack of a list is the problem, the problem is the attitude that it’s no big deal to abuse a teenage girl, and it was probably her fault anyway for being tempting so don’t sweat it.

    When this stuff happens, the church needs to
    1. Fire the employee. None of this ‘just resign and we’ll keep it quiet’ business.
    2. Report them to the police, if there is any hint of criminal activity (and probably these steps should be flipped).
    3. When other churches call for references, tell them the TRUTH.
    4. For heavens sake, if they aren’t doing reference checks, DO THAT.

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  21. Lea: When this stuff happens, the church needs to
    1. Fire the employee. None of this ‘just resign and we’ll keep it quiet’ business.
    2. Report them to the police, if there is any hint of criminal activity (and probably these steps should be flipped).
    3. When other churches call for references, tell them the TRUTH.
    4. For heavens sake, if they aren’t doing reference checks, DO THAT.

    Yes, indeed, that is the proper way for the church to handle these matters. I would add one more point:

    5. Disqualify the “pastor” from all future ministry.

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  22. Max: 5. Disqualify the “pastor” from all future ministry.

    That requires some sort of licensure, which I think is the answer here moreso than a list of predators. You should be able to check with Baptist licensure board to see if your pastor has also been fired for, say, embezzling!

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  23. The authorities should notify the organizations that the person in that organization to whom Anne spoke about the abuse failed to report it and that that person is under investigation for failure to report and for possibly allowing further victimization to occur, and may be charged with a crime for failure to report. It does not violate religious liberty to require a staff member of a church to report a crime against children!

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  24. Lea: I don’t believe lack of a list is the problem, the problem is the attitude that it’s no big deal to abuse a teenage girl, and it was probably her fault anyway for being tempting so don’t sweat it.

    I agree. I would like to point out to all of those clamoring for a ‘list’ or some sort of official ‘control’ over who is and isn’t allowed to be a minister, that official control is exactly what we are dealing with here.

    What happens if a ‘board’ is created, and then the Neanderthals take over the board and use it to abuse all the more? Do you think they could not twist this ‘need to protect’ into a license to rule? Ever heard of the FDA, CDC, AMA and all of the other supposed ‘protection’ agencies that end up protecting the profits of the perpetrators?

    I would recommend being leery of being wooed down the ‘it’s all for your protection’ pathway of setting up some sort of official agency to oversee ministers. The best ‘protection’ is free, thinking, diligent oversight by all who are able and willing – not ‘control’ by some ‘official’ board or agency.

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  25. How has this abuse been allowed? By granting ‘authority’ to pastors and elders, and keeping information and decision making out of the hands of the individual members of the congregation. What is totally ignored, is that ‘discipline’ was rare and the purview of the entire congregation, not some board of elders. The false ‘authority’ of the leaders was propagated by Mahaney from his earliest writings, and creating a higher ‘authority’ to oversee the ‘authorities’ is simply ignoring the real root of the issue.

    We were not given ‘rulers’ to lord it over us, and decide who is ‘acceptable’ or not. Why does the church follow the State in its approach, rather than the genuine, democratic, even communistic approach of scripture? Because we have been ‘frightened’ away from such approaches? Who benefits from this fear of congregational control? I fear we have not learned our lessons.

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  26. Lea: During the saga related to the guy in Memphis, I read a story from a former youth pastor at SBCVoices who had a mentor tell him that if he ‘messed up’ with a girl from youth group, he would have to leave that job, but they would find him another.

    This is an important comment.

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  27. When you have a theology that places women and children as inferior to the point of being property of men, this does not surprise me. This is not just “Baptist” problem, it’s not even a “Christian” problem, we see this in many patriarchal cultures.

    Biblical literalism, venerating a culture that died thousands of years ago, pining for a golden age that never was. I think a lot of this is the result of sore feelings that “fundamental” evangelical Christians felt when initiatives like “The Moral Majority” and the “Christian Coalition” failed to mold the general society into it’s image of a “biblical” culture. Turns out Americans are more Christian than anyone thought – taking that whole “do unto others as you would have done to you” to heart and attempting to foster a much more tolerant and fair society – even if they don’t agree with aspects of it.

    Now the children of those spurned during the eighties are embracing an intolerant, controlling faith that tells them how awful the world is, how special they are, and how they can keep their women and children in line. Hence the focus on the old testament, with it’s laws and priests and putting everyone and sundry to death who doesn’t believe like you do.

    This whole persecution complex is part of what started my road away from the faith in the mid 2000’s. Churches are closing themselves off into more rigid communities. And without the light of openness, darkness breeds darkness behind the flash and bang of the Sunday service. No wonder it isn’t until decades later we hear about these events. Both Ann and Jules were abused in the nineties, 10 years after the failed political attempts of the eighties…remember Pat Robertson for president in ’88? No wonder law enforcement finds these tough nuts to crack!

    Until the church ceases partying like it’s 1999…BC then more victims will come forward and more pus be exposed.

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  28. dee: This is an important comment.

    dee, I found this comment both enlightening, disturbing and disgusting, but it explains so much. I can’t get it out of my head.

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  29. dee: This is an important comment.

    Lea: dee, I found this comment both enlightening, disturbing and disgusting, but it explains so much. I can’t get it out of my head.

    It truly shows the brokenness of the “system”. It literally creates a sick, burning feeling in my gut.

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  30. NJ:
    This is a good question.It would be interesting to find out if the major “biblical” counseling organizations are in fact teaching just that to all their students, in addition to the importance of keeping things in house.

    I took several counseling classes at SEBTS and abuse was not covered at all except in reference to marrying non-Christians. Then the advice was to bring them to church.

    I think many Christians, but particularly Baptists want to believe that anyone who goes to church and claims to have made a confession of faith doesn’t sin. It’s like they couldn’t even admit that people lie about their faith.

    Sadly, I also think it just wasn’t important to them. The primary philosophy of the SBC was that counseling was only for people without faith or who were rebelling against going to church. They did not allow anyone to be a missionary in IMB who had any type of counseling because that meant you either didn’t trust God enough or you were put through church discipline.

    Now I had a very different experience with Dr. Williams personally, but never had him as a professor for any classes. I don’t know how he would teach now that the neuthetic counseling movement has become even stronger in the SBC.

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  31. Lea,

    That was me–it shows what wrongheaded things were taught and held. Given how slow we are to change anything, how much we are loathe to say a previous generation got it wrong, I don’t doubt that this thinking is still around. I tell that story because we sit around and wonder how sexual abuse can happen, yet the answer is right there: we treated it for years (and often still do) as just an everyday occurrence–only worth moving you on to the next place.

    Fortunately, further training showed me how wrong that way of thinking was, and it’s certainly not the way I would handle it or ever handled it. (I have actually not ever been made aware of a sexual abuse complaint in a church I pastor.)

    It’s a running problem: we only talk about sexual abuse when there’s a specific problem, which keeps us from putting in useful safeguards.

    There are many people in ministry leadership who have been taught wrongly about sexual abuse. Especially in Baptist life, because there is no central standard of education or continuing education: you can become a Baptist pastor with no training and stay one forever without ever listening to anyone outside of your choices. So, take someone who was “called and gifted” at 16 and put him in the pulpit by 21, and what does he know about sexual abuse? About what to do with a report? Nothing. He should learn, but he’s ‘focused on the Word’ and so someone else always talks to the insurance company, who are about the only folks who will consistently insist that you have some safeguards.

    We handle sexual abuse badly, from prevention to response, and then we handle the bad results badly and create catastrophes. All the while, real, live, human beings, bearers of the Image of God, are harmed.

    That is the real tragedy, the heart-crushing part of this: I’ve been 23 years in an organization that should have been helping. And we haven’t been. I haven’t been. It’s not enough to be saddened by it, we need to act in a way that encourages victims to come forward, supports them, and gets the perpetrators out. We need to find a way to stop making the church an easy target.

    We have failed. I have failed, though simple inaction to the wider problem. I read stories here and over at Watchkeep and try to use those to teach others within my influence in hopes that the cycle of foolishness stops. It’s not enough, but it’s the start I can make.

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  32. Anne – I am sorry that you have to go through such suffering. God be with you during this season of your life as you seek healing from the abuse you have experienced.

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  33. Lea: had a mentor tell him that if he ‘messed up’ with a girl from youth group, he would have to leave that job, but they would find him another

    And/or not be truthful when a prospective church checked his references.

    Pastor Search Committee: If you are listening in, DO NOT blindly accept job references for a pastoral candidate. Do your home work and contact other folks who should know the real truth about him. Additionally, DO NOT believe every response a candidate offers about his theological leaning – the SBC is paying a terrible price for New Calvinists coming in under the radar to split and takeover traditional churches; they lied their way past search committees.

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  34. brad/futuristguy: Okay, so Baptist News Global reports on June 10, 2008, on the final results of the resolution and feasibility study/recommendations with their article entitled, “SBC officials reject idea of sex-offender database.”

    They do so at their own peril.
    As I’ve commented here before, sooner or later the courts will lose their squeamishness over the SBC, and the gavel will come down hard and heavy.
    Kinda’ sorta’ like a replay of the film Spotlight.

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  35. truthseeker00,

    The issue of who has the final say, the hierarchy or the congregation or some place in between can work both ways. When my g’kids were recently involved in a church affiliated school in which the pastor got waaaay out of line in the school, the congregation and the elders just wanted to ‘forgive’ and let him have continued opportunity in the school to do whatever. The parents revolted, the hierarchy was called in, the hierarchy investigated and the pastor was removed.

    So, I am not at all happy happy happy with total congregational control as some sort of final solution because it does not necessarily work any better than if there is a hierarchy. Probably the idea that different churches do it differently is not a really bad idea, because no way would I ever want to see a congregation turn into a mob like what was happening in the case I cited.

    The church was LCMS, and the solution, when finally attained, was workable. I am not LCMS and this is not a paid advertisement.

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  36. Jack: Now the children of those spurned during the eighties are embracing an intolerant, controlling faith that tells them how awful the world is, how special they are, and how they can keep their women and children in line.

    Progressives (the more rabid of the pack) are just as intolerant as some of the fundagelicals.

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  37. ishy: They did not allow anyone to be a missionary in IMB who had any type of counseling

    When some in our family were looking to adopt they ran into this same thing but for different reasons. A history of prior counseling was a possible reason to deny adoption. I do not know if exceptions were made and if so for what reasons. But the entity which had this rule was one country they looked at-not a religious group.

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  38. ishy: I took several counseling classes at SEBTS and abuse was not covered at all except in reference to marrying non-Christians.

    Back when, when things were admittedly different, I did a three month rotation in psych as a student nurse, then later had some lectures in psych in med school, and then did a year as medical staff at a large psych hospital as admitting physician on an acute adult female psych ward. At no time in any of that was the issue of abuse, or for that matter the issue of PTSD, addressed.

    Where we are now is a lot better even though it has a long way to go.

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  39. IF churches followed the law and reported sex crimes and IF churches ran thorough background checks, the data base of sex offenders would be maintained for them by law enforcement. Of course, that doesn’t weed out those who haven’t been caught or sex-offenders-to-be (shudder), but best practices in churches would go a long way in preventing many incidents.

    Self-management doesn’t work for any large entities, The idea that the Catholic Church, the SBC, or my local school district can self-police sex-predators is futile. Cooperating with law enforcement and best practices for children’s ministry (and insurance companies will even do free assessments. My church had one, and we now have several new guidelines that have been very helpful). However, with all the repeated incidents, it sounds like it will take a long time for the SBC to wake up.

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  40. Somebody who has a background in business please give me some information.

    For quite a long time I was in a position in which I was sometimes asked for employment references for various people. The information I was given at the time included that one ought not say anything bad about anybody because they could/would sue you and even if the legal action got nowhere it would be both costly and also damaging to my reputation. In fact, hospital administration asked me to be extremely circumspect in whatever I said, and better to just say nothing at all.

    What do you all know about this, and have you had any experience with this?

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  41. okrapod: The parents revolted, the hierarchy was called in, the hierarchy investigated and the pastor was removed.

    The can be a solution when the hierarchy has some sense.

    I fear that is no longer the case in the SBC. (leaving aside the differences in systems)

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  42. okrapod: What do you all know about this, and have you had any experience with this?

    Generally when I was doing reference checks, we would run into this quite a bit when calling HR. Generally you could get an answer if someone was ‘eligible for re-hire’ or something. You could sometimes get whether they were fired or resigned. We would try to call other people in a department, like direct supervisors who maybe didn’t get the memo on this to get real answers. I don’t know if anyone has been successfully sued for giving out this sort of information, though, or if that was more sort of urban legendy, although it was popular to give that sort of advice that you received at one time.

    Morally, churches should be interested in protecting vulnerable children more than their bottom line. I realize that’s not reality but it should be.

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  43. Paul’s admonition in I Timothy 5:22 comes to mind.

    There may be a profound flaw in the contemporary model of recruiting future church leaders from among the young, who have not lived long enough to gain wisdom or reveal what kind of people they are, quickly training them in academic-style professional schools, and then parachuting them into positions of authority in congregations where they are not known well by the people who are supposed to follow them.

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  44. Linn: IF churches followed the law and reported sex crimes and IF churches ran thorough background checks, the data base of sex offenders would be maintained for them by law enforcement. Of course, that doesn’t weed out those who haven’t been caught or sex-offenders-to-be (shudder), but best practices in churches would go a long way in preventing many incidents.

    Self-management doesn’t work for any large entities, The idea that the Catholic Church, the SBC, or my local school district can self-police sex-predators is futile. Cooperating with law enforcement and best practices for children’s ministry (and insurance companies will even do free assessments. My church had one, and we now have several new guidelines that have been very helpful). However, with all the repeated incidents, it sounds like it will take a long time for the SBC to wake up.

    I believe these are *very* important points, Linn. Thanks for posting …

    I think part of what was revealed in the 2007/2008 articles that I linked to above are some of the underlying theological problems for the SBC. Other issues have been commented on by others. To summarize some of what’s been covered:

    * The polity problem — autonomy of local church works against having any kind of enforceable standard on just about anything. Official resolutions carry only the weight of influence.

    * The training problem — seminaries have historically NOT been places where leaders in training learn about the realities of abuse, dynamics, counseling, non-profit liability, etc.

    * Some doctrinal problems — faulty doctrines of forgiveness, repentance, and restoration that angle perpetrators right back into roles of visibility, and access to future victims.

    * The leader/follower dichotomy doctrinal/practical problem — authoritarianism and patriarchalism that keep questioners (especially women who’ve been victimized) in submission and silent.

    * The church/state separation doctrinal problem — refusal to submit to the valid powers of civil authorities, such as mandatory reporting of known/suspected sexual abuse, under the guise of handling situations “in house.” (Ironically, how many who promote such theologies of separation that avoid civic responsibilities and accountability are fine with attempts to exert dominionism in the public domain when they want to impose political views and values?)

    * The reputation and platform protection problem — good-old-boys network where men in ministry who get caught doing something bad get shuffled off somewhere else to keep them looking good. (And in this case, the “them” includes both the offenders and the ones covering for them so that the church is supposedly not besmirched.)

    I’m sure I’ve missed some crucial issues, but these are the ones that immediately came to mind.

    If nothing else, the 2007/2008 resolution for investigating the possibility of a sex abuse database could have helped spotlight the reputation and platform protection problem — even though I agree with you, Linn, that self-management is a sketchy prospect at best.

    It would help change the tide if SBC members would report known/suspected sexual abuse, publicly remove from ministry clergy who engage in sexual misconduct and/or fail in mandatory reporting of abuse, and require more extensive background checks and refuse to hire perpetrators.

    But, they really have to want to change. And I don’t know where that motivation will come from unless all the above issues get shaken up enough that it is beyond uncomfortable to stay the same.

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  45. Linn: IF churches followed the law and reported sex crimes and IF churches ran thorough background checks, the data base of sex offenders would be maintained for them by law enforcement.

    True. Churches should never attempt to handle these matters in-house. Sex abuse is a crime; “pastors” who commit such crimes should be place on a sex-offenders list maintained by the proper authorities. Sad as it is, pastor search committees should include such databases in their vetting process.

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  46. ishy: I took several counseling classes at SEBTS and abuse was not covered at all

    Ishy, when you were in seminary did you ever suspect any seminary students who were “struggling” with moral sin … who were unfit for the ministry … who would go on to commit sexual abuse as pastors?

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  47. I agree with all of what you posted. These problems also plague private/independent schools (my current work environment). You think you know your colleagues so well…and then something bad happens. If more lawsuits occur because of mandatory reporting laws, it will help. It’s an entire culture shift, and it will take years (I hope not, but I’m realistic). 25 years ago I was a children’s ministry leader for a church in an anonymous small town near the city where I live. A preschool leader was arrested for child sexual abuse, and the church was sued. The local evangelical church council hosted child abuse reporting/training classes for all church staffs, and many things occurred in the churches that participated. Systemic change is the only way to improve the situation, and I recognize it will take a while (I try to be reasonably optimistic).

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  48. Linn: Systemic change is the only way to improve the situation, and I recognize it will take a while (I try to be reasonably optimistic).

    In the meantime, parents should be diligent. I personally don’t trust “youth” pastors to be spiritually mature enough to lead youth. SBC and other organizations need to revisit the youth ministry model. Young folks need more experienced Christians as mentors, than young ministers right out of seminary. Likewise, fresh seminary graduates need to be mentored by seasoned senior pastors for a few years before they are released to lead anybody … and they sure the heck don’t need to run out and plant a church!

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  49. Max,

    You would love it how it is done at my current church. The young children’s minister is a female ordained methodist elder, married with kids, former missionary and been in the business quite a while. The fresh out of seminary young male curate freshly married but no kids yet teaches some teen classes but is not the ‘youth pastor’ and is monitored by the older rector. Parents are involved at all levels. And the pastor has said from the pulpit that mostly how to live like a christian is learned at home so you parents need to get with it.

    Nothing is perfect, but as far as systems go this one is looking pretty good right now.

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  50. NJ:
    “Are SBC church counselors being taught to tell members to forgive and reconcile with their abuser?”

    This is a good question.It would be interesting to find out if the major “biblical” counseling organizations are in fact teaching just that to all their students, in addition to the importance of keeping things in house.

    If the counselors subscribe to Biblical Counseling,i.e. Nouthetic Counseling,- the kind ACBC promotes – then forgiving the sexual predator is of primary importance. After all, everybody is a sinner, right? Sin leveling seems to be the modus operandi for these folks.

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  51. There is a teacher’s demonstration today and schools in several counties are teacher workday only, including right here, so the teachers can go demonstrate. Sides have been taken, words hurled, anger demonstrated and that was before today when people were recruiting for the demo. RE did not demonstrate, but took young homeschooled daughter to work with her for a break for the kid. Apparently the teachers think that if the state will just throw more money at the schools then the problems of society can be solved by said schools and teachers. Drugs, sex, lack of motivation, bad home environment, poverty, no good jobs for lots of the kids to hope for, dad gone, mom works 2-3 jobs, kid can’t read, no problem there that money for the schools and teachers can’t solve! (sarcasm)

    If only that were so.

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  52. Max: Ishy, when you were in seminary did you ever suspect any seminary students who were “struggling” with moral sin … who were unfit for the ministry … who would go on to commit sexual abuse as pastors?

    There were some strong moral issues with a number of people there. But there was one in particular who was reported by multiple women and nothing happened. He would inform every woman he met with how he “rated” them. He said some other really awful things in front of me. He stalked a couple women. Guy was super creepy.

    I should also note that the molester who inspired this blog was one of my classmates. I only knew him by sight, so I couldn’t have predicted that. But not long after, two other of my classmates were arrested for child sex abuse. I knew one from class, but not well.

    Far as I know, the guy who got reported graduated and went on to be a music minister.

    The abusers from SEBTS was what led me to this blog.

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  53. brad/futuristguy:
    brad/futuristguy,

    Okay, so Baptist News Global reports on June 10, 2008, on the final results of the resolution and feasibility study/recommendations with their article entitled, “SBC officials reject idea of sex-offender database.”

    https://baptistnews.com/article/sbc-officials-reject-idea-of-sex-offender-database/

    It seems that the rationale of “autonomy of the local church” can be used by local leaders to reject any activity they have a distaste for, despite the collective discernment and direction of the larger SBC community. What will it take for that to change, for the sake of the witness of the gospel and for the safety of Christ’s disciples?

    Yep, this isn’t a local church matter, e.g. whether there’s a Sunday night gathering or something. I wonder where the ‘New Testament times church’ argument disappears to when signed church covenants and other authoritarian additions at at issue… Hearing the strawman-riffic reason given suggests to me that it was a case that they figured the powers that be weren’t worried about enough people making an issue of it and would allow the status quo to continue.

    Seems like we had a conflict of priorities. One priority was provided a baseline for common sense practice and oversight to prevent grievous wolves to creep in, not sparing the flock. If FBC Podunk gets a fresh-faced skinny-jeaned 20 or 30 something, it might be nifty to have a place where documented offenders can be identified at the front end. Plus, those in the DB might realize that the above reproach leadership positions are off the table, leaving the unrepentant out of the fold and the repentant to find another avenue of service in which those around the person know a relevant fellowship fact going into it, just like those registered civilly.

    The other priority reeks of a preference to dodge defined responsibilities, ones that correspond with consequences with failure to comply. Those consequences of course all put authority, power, and financial streams potentially at risk. Again, the ask was a bare minimum threshold of common sense: “Say, since you’re essentially styling your massively-funded selves as a rep of Christ’s true church on earth, do you think we can learn from the failures of other orgs of similar personal estimation by having a baseline screening aimed at not letting sexual offenders do what they often do, which is easily infiltrate other pastures with most everyone unawares?”

    Plus, part of this other priority is avoiding having to be proactive rather than passive on accountability issues that aren’t cut and dried or that require hard conversations. Remember what Patterson recommended in a discussion with Mark Dever as far as seeking easy targets rather than others when doling out church discipline:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=22IfJ3OzRbY

    Easy discipline targets appear to be recommended by Patterson over someone caught in some “heinous iniquity because you’re going to have sympathy problems there.” Rather, its recommended to target those who hasn’t been in church attendance in five years. Of them, Patterson says, “they’re not intending to come, and we owe them – – if we love them – – a confrontation.”

    To me, that’s an illustration of the mentality where the hard conversations that need to happen don’t. Rather, those that do are in a largely consequence-free, low-risk context from the authoritarian side of things, even though the heinous iniquity issues undoubtedly are worth a confrontation, Biblically speaking. They don’t have to worry about “sympathy problems” if there are no hard conversations and rendering illegal and harmful activity unto Caesar. Instead, you can get people in authority dodging accountability and oversight and suggesting quiet forgiveness for the sake of unity or whatever other reason, as Ms. Miller apparently has had to endure along with who knows how many others.

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  54. ishy: reported by multiple women and nothing happened

    This is the problem. Whatever leads to ‘nothing happened’.

    Disbelief of women’s statements over mens or minimizing of treatment and damage caused to women…whatever it is. Mistaken belief in the importance of men ‘trained for ministry’.

    That’s the root that needs digging out.

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  55. ishy: The abusers from SEBTS was what led me to this blog.

    You have confirmed what I’ve heard through the grapevine. SBC seminaries are homes to future sex offenders who go into the ministry. If fellow students know/suspect them, there has to be a way to weed them out before they go on to commit sex crimes as “pastors.” Student, if you hear or see something, say something! Professors, you surely have ‘some’ discernment in this regard – send those folks packing!

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  56. Linn: […] If more lawsuits occur because of mandatory reporting laws, it will help. It’s an entire culture shift, and it will take years (I hope not, but I’m realistic). […] Systemic change is the only way to improve the situation, and I recognize it will take a while (I try to be reasonably optimistic).

    I agree with you on both of these points.

    Lawsuits may at least require accountability, regardless of whether there is any change of heart, theology, practices, etc., on the part of the people in the perpetrating institution. (Just today the news was posted of Michigan State University reaching a $500 million settlement with survivors of Larry Nassar’s victimization. There have been no indications of any substantial change of heart or mind for the majority of the MSU board of trustees, but at least their prior failures in governance, transparency, and/or oversight have surfaced — as have costs to the university in terms of finances and influence.)

    Systemic change is a crucial concept. I’ve been working to understand what that means, and the scope of what it must include. It’s always more than just removal of perpetrators and perpetuators — their toxic paradigm and principles and practices seep into the processes and procedures of the institution, and remain their despite the departure of some people. (For instance, I saw this up close in one situation where the non-profit was run by chaos. It took the successor CEO three years to *start* putting the organization on the road to better health … creating a central filing system, getting corporate documents in order, etc., to at least get better organized so that better transparency and governance could even happen.)

    I’ve posted some things I’ve learned about systems, systemic abuse, and change here:

    https://futuristguysfieldguides.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/systems-systemic-abuse-and-transforming-corrupted-systems-part-1/

    There is hope for change, but when systemic change is needed, it does seem that it takes at least a generation to even possibly make it sustainable. On that line, I’ve reflected on this quote periodically since I first ran across this book 20+ years ago.

    “In the long run, what counts is how the next generation thinks. How far new ideas permeate culture is not measured just by attitude change during one generation, but by what is taken for granted in the next.”

    ~ Helen Haste, The Sexual Metaphor: Men, Women, and the Thinking that Makes the Difference (Harvard University Press, 1994), page 149.

    The SBC will need a tipping-point level of active change agents to potentially reach the transformational threshold needed on systemic problems — **and the underlying paradigm of ideas** — so that next generations take as a given genuine transparency and accountability on these issues and more. If SBC members don’t do this, I suspect it will implode. From what I see from critics, I’m not the only one with that opinion.

    And as background, I have participated in nine SBC church plants, most of those playing some role on the leadership team, and as cultural strategist for one of them. I also worked at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now called Gateway) for 11 years.

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  57. drstevej:
    IRONY. An article by a counseling prof at SEBTS. Compare this with current non-apology apologies coming out of the SBC.

    http://bradhambrick.com/7-marks-of-a-good-apology-vs-8-marks-of-a-bad-apology/

    “5. Accept the Consequence. Repentance is not a plea-bargain or negotiation. Repentance is not a time when we establish the “acceptable terms” for our sin.”

    Here’s the disconnect, especially for those who view themselves at the top of the authority chain — and are getting compensated accordingly and don’t want that to change or be impacted, though above reproach conduct is a Bibilcal factor for said authority, last I checked.

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  58. brad/futuristguy:
    brad/futuristguy,

    Okay, so Baptist News Global reports on June 10, 2008, on the final results of the resolution and feasibility study/recommendations with their article entitled, “SBC officials reject idea of sex-offender database.”

    https://baptistnews.com/article/sbc-officials-reject-idea-of-sex-offender-database/

    Read the rest of the article for responses to the Executive Committee’s recommendation and rationale, including child-abuse activists Dee Ann Miller, pastor and former IMB trustee Wade Burleson, and national director of SNAP David Clohessy.

    At the bottom of the page, there is a list of links to 10 related articles from 2006-2007.

    It seems that the rationale of “autonomy of the local church” can be used by local leaders to reject any activity they have a distaste for, despite the collective discernment and direction of the larger SBC community. What will it take for that to change, for the sake of the witness of the gospel and for the safety of Christ’s disciples?

    Autonomy. Yeah, right.
    Hello out there, SBC churches! Appoint some female pastors and see how far that “autonomy” takes you!

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  59. Lea: This is the problem. Whatever leads to ‘nothing happened’.

    Disbelief of women’s statements over mens or minimizing of treatment and damage caused to women…whatever it is. Mistaken belief in the importance of men ‘trained for ministry’.

    I think disbelief of women occurs because women are minimized. I think the old school Baptists thought that if someone said sorry, they were instantly a different person. I’ve heard New Calvinists say, “Well, you’re just as bad, so why do you think they deserve to be punished?” It makes me wonder if many men become New Calvinists because they are hiding really great active sin in their lives, that they have to justify that everyone else must be, too, even though it’s not true at all.

    I don’t know that I’d agree that men being trained for the ministry is necessarily a bad thing, but I think deep-down they know that if they made women equals, they wouldn’t have their jobs because they don’t deserve them.

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  60. Very grateful for Anne being willing to share her story and praying for her healing.

    It is time for Southern Baptists to get in front of these issues with some preventive measures. There are things that can and should be done. If the autonomy of the entities is the issue, then, instead of using it as an excuse, FIX IT. Appoint a task force. Create a way to do business more than once a year when more immediate action needs to take place.

    Wade Burleson made a very reasonable proposal several years ago that would have addressed some of these issues. He discusses it today:

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2018/05/tracking-sexual-predators-in-sbc-and.html

    Will the SBC realize that the world is watching? Will it determine to respond to the need for accountability as an organization that does not allow someone who is unfit to continue in ministry?

    This would not have helped in Anne’s case initially but it would have prevented the perpetrator from further work within the SBC and kept her from feeling that the system had failed her.

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  61. ishy,
    The pastor of a church I attended years ago was caught in adultery, and it turned out it wasn’t the first time. He just kept being passed around (not an SBC by the way) from one church to the next, with no one giving the reason why he was leaving. I finally asked why, and the answer-“But his sermons were so good!” I wanted to go somewhere and lose my cookies.

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  62. Max: You have confirmed what I’ve heard through the grapevine.SBC seminaries are homes to future sex offenders who go into the ministry.If fellow students know/suspect them, there has to be a way to weed them out before they go on to commit sex crimes as “pastors.”Student, if you hear or see something, say something!Professors, you surely have ‘some’ discernment in this regard – send those folks packing!

    I go to a UMC church now, and they have a really strict process for becoming a pastor, including psychological tests. Someone told me a few weeks ago that a guy he knew couldn’t pass the UMC process, so he became an SBC pastor.

    The biggest moral failings I saw were greed and pride. A lot of baby Baptists pastors desperately wanted to be a big money megachurch celebrity pastor. And all they talked about was becoming famous. Many of those were absolute jerks to everyone. But I had more than a few guys stalk me or close friends, some in very scary and dangerous ways.

    SEBTS wasn’t quite so bad about that because most men who go are already married (and those who weren’t were given a real hard time by married students and professors alike for being single and wanting to be a pastor). Liberty had some real scary desperate pastoral majors, and I know some of those went to SBC seminaries.

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  63. Linn:
    ishy,
    The pastor of a church I attended years ago was caught in adultery, and it turned out it wasn’t the first time. He just kept being passed around (not an SBC by the way) from one church to the next, with no one giving the reason why he was leaving. I finally asked why, and the answer-“But his sermons were so good!” I wanted to go somewhere and lose my cookies.

    I had one of those as well. Actually, kinda wondering if it’s the same person. He’s pretty well known?

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  64. ishy: It makes me wonder if many men become New Calvinists because they are hiding really great active sin in their lives, that they have to justify that everyone else must be, too, even though it’s not true at all.

    I do wonder if some are like this – it boggles the mind when people say things they thing obviously everyone else is doing which are really pretty far out of the norm! That could just be some type of narcissim/everyone is like me belief, though.

    ishy: I don’t know that I’d agree that men being trained for the ministry is necessarily a bad thing

    That’s not what I meant to say…training is fine. It’s just that we should deify these people to the point where we don’t see who they really are.

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  65. asking an honest question: how can someone not know sexual abuse is abuse until years later? I really am trying to understand but this makes it sound as though she was talked into believing she was abused. Do we know the nature of the abuse?

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  66. ishy: A lot of baby Baptists pastors desperately wanted to be a big money megachurch celebrity pastor.

    And a lot of the actual big money mega church pastors have no education at all, right?

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  67. Lea: And a lot of the actual big money mega church pastors have no education at all, right?

    I think a lot of them aren’t seminary educated, but some are. I think a lot of the faces/voices of those churches have seminary-educated men actually doing the running of the church.

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  68. Linn,

    Ah, this person is still alive, still in pastorates, and teaching Bible college. And everybody in those churches knows he was moved multiple times for adultery. And many people here have probably heard of him.

    But heaven forbid you be female and want to be a pastor! That’s SIN!

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  69. ishy: The biggest moral failings I saw were greed and pride.

    Those are at the root of a lot of other sins just waiting to happen!

    ishy: A lot of baby Baptists pastors desperately wanted to be a big money megachurch celebrity pastor. And all they talked about was becoming famous.

    You won’t find that ministry model in the New Testament. I dare say that young pastors with that attitude today would not have gone into the ministry in the first century. “Pick up your cross and follow Me” is not something these young whippersnappers desire to do.

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  70. bradly:
    asking an honest question: how can someone not know sexual abuse is abuse until years later?I really am trying to understand but this makes it sound as though she was talked into believing she was abused.Do we know the nature of the abuse?

    You have not read up on what happens to some people when they are traumatized. Research indicates that a teen who is molested may take years before she is able to process what happened to her/him. This is why statute of limitation laws are changing all over the US. It is not uncommon to see 20 years pass before the brain can mature and process what happened. That it wasn’t their fault, etc.

    Please do your reading if you really care about the victims. Do not use this as a way to sideline the victims like many abusers are wont to do.

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  71. Lea: a lot of the actual big money mega church pastors have no education at all

    Yep, you don’t need a seminary degree to be a mega success …. just some charisma, a gift of gab, marketing savvy, and a working knowledge of the Bible (nothing deep required).

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  72. Lea,

    This is also true in many independent churches, both charismatic and [maybe to a lesser degree] evangelical. It seems very common in the ARC.

    To echo Max and Ishy, knowing the Bible and being able to write sermons is optional. There is a small industry supplying sermons, some for pay, many for free.

    Here is a bit of an email I got:

    “For the last 3 years I’ve been getting requests from members of our coaching programs about us partnering with Pastors on sermon preparation.

    This has been a big need with our Church Ninja tribe.

    Why?

    …because Pastors are tired of burning the midnight oil on Saturday night to get their Sunday message ready.

    …because Pastors want their messages to be more effective.

    …because Pastors want to see more decisions when they preach the Gospel.

    So we put something together that I believe you’re going to love.

    It’s called Sermon Ninja. ”

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  73. Lea: And a lot of the actual big money mega church pastors have no education at all, right?

    I meant to quote Lea. And it relates to the original post. I’ve often wondered what pastors do all day. I know there might be counseling, and hospital visits and staff meetings. But I always thought their main accountability was preparing for the Sunday preach. I know of a local guy who seems to be getting all of his series from sermon mills like Sermon Ninja. And when he complains about how busy he is, I really wonder what he does all week.

    With some of these guys, like our nameless SBC guy, I’m afraid we know.

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  74. Muff Potter: Progressives (the more rabid of the pack) are just as intolerant as some of the fundagelicals.

    Agreed. I did state this isn’t just a Christian problem. Any closed community will do.

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  75. Max: Yep, you don’t need a seminary degree to be a mega success …. just some charisma, a gift of gab, marketing savvy, and a working knowledge of the Bible (nothing deep required).

    ^^^This!!

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  76. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: But I always thought their main accountability was preparing for the Sunday preach.I know of a local guy who seems to be getting all of his series from sermon mills like Sermon Ninja.And when he complains about how busy he is, I really wonder what he does all week.

    I know many megachurch goers have no idea that their pastor doesn’t write their sermons and are convinced that’s why they should earn six digits and get a 1-3 month sabbatical every year to “write” their books.

    They started advertising sermon services to us in seminary. Some students got paid to hand out flyers. And I’ve been to two megachurches where I heard the exact same sermon, including “personal” examples. I also know of pastors that probably do write their own sermons, but they rotate the same sermon series over and over again with different titles.

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  77. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: And it relates to the original post.I’ve often wondered what pastors do all day.I know there might be counseling, and hospital visits and staff meetings.

    I went to a megachurch for awhile, during which I had multiple surgeries. I told people in my small group that I was having surgery. Nobody from my group or on the staff visited or even called during or after.

    When I visited the church I attend now, someone mentioned to me that the pastor spent almost every day visiting members and people in the community in the hospitals and nursing homes. And she does. I’ve been there ever since.

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  78. ishy: I went to a megachurch for awhile, during which I had multiple surgeries. I told people in my small group that I was having surgery. Nobody from my group or on the staff visited or even called during or after.

    Oh, they don’t do that … and they don’t visit folks in nursing homes. Some mega pastors won’t even preach funerals! They are just too big and busy, you know. But they all find enough time to tweet their lives away at the local coffee shop.

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  79. ishy: I also know of pastors that probably do write their own sermons, but they rotate the same sermon series over and over again with different titles.

    I heard a mega-church consultant tell some young pastors that all they ever needed was 25 sermons. He advised them to prepare those the first year of their ministry, file them, and then retrieve them to preach over and over their whole ministry. He advised them to toss in a few new illustrations to fool the flock into thinking they were new sermons! There’s just something about that technique that doesn’t sound very spiritual.

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  80. Steve: Max: mega-church consultant

    Wonder what the qualifications are for that job??

    Just declare you are a mega-church consultant! There’s lots of folks trying to cash in on church growth strategies, whether they ever grew a church or not. All the young pastors want to be mega right out of the chute! They are looking for gimmicks to be rich and famous as quickly as possible. Plowing the field at a slow pace in a small place just ain’t their cup of tea.

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  81. Max,

    What’s the fix for this mess? How can we ever get back to a safe church so that the Anne and Jules kind of stories aren’t repeated? It seems like the horror stories are really mounting up but solutions seem scarce.

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  82. Doug: We handle sexual abuse badly, from prevention to response, and then we handle the bad results badly and create catastrophes. All the while, real, live, human beings, bearers of the Image of God, are harmed.

    Thank you for sharing more of your story with WW readers. You show humility about your inadequate responses earlier in your ministry. Do you find none, few, some, or many among your peers in ministry who are waking up to these problems?

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  83. bradly: how can someone not know sexual abuse is abuse until years later?

    That is a legitimate question, and one that seriously needs to be explained more often. A young, immature girl can easily be persuaded that an older person ‘loves’ them, and that the sex they request is acceptable. Particularly if the person is a respected authority. It is often only years later that they realize how they were manipulated and abused. They may have viewed the sexual relationship as part of a serious relationship, possibly leading to marriage, when, in reality, the abuser was merely using them for his own pleasure.

    Thus, even when the sex is consensual – as it often is in such cases – it is still a form of abuse. The abuser is preying upon the naive, trusting victim, and is frequently very adept at manipulating them. Because the victim ‘consented’ they may not recognize the unfortunate experience as ‘abuse’ until they are mature enough to understand that they were used and manipulated.

    For instance, note how the stories of Bill Hybels portray him as wooing the victims, winning their sympathy for his less than satisfactory marriage, suggesting how they might ‘lead’ WCC together, and so on. It is highly unlikely that such abusers would attempt forceful rape – instead they groom and manipulate potential victims into cooperating with their scheme by lying to, praising and manipulating them. It is still undeniably abuse, and is deliberate, planned and utterly without genuine regard for the victim’s well-being. The ‘beauty’ of this scheme is that the victim views the escapade as a ‘relationship’ rather than one more set-up by a systemic abuser.

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  84. GSD [Getting Stuff Done],

    It varies from pastor to pastor. I’m a full-time pastor at a small church in a rural area–only person on staff. A typical week for me involves reading for, writing, and memorizing the sermon, preparing for Wed. night bible study (these 2 activities alone can be 20-30 hours a week for me, but I also take preparation seriously), visiting members at home, and working on any random piece of business that needs doing for the church–(this month, looking at our children’s ministry policy and updating it, next it’ll be VBS and local mission work). When I have down time, I study–I’m working through academic works on Early Judaism and the Greco-Roman environment of Christianity, plus trying to learn more on pastoral care, trauma/grief counseling from a layperson’s perspective, and whatever theological works catch my eye at the moment. That’s work I can control and account for. Then there are the random events that I must be present for–hospital visits, deaths, funerals, accidents, etc. Those are what cause me to burn the midnight oil, so to speak, but it has to be done.

    I don’t know what it’s like at a megachurch–never worked at one, don’t desire to do so. I’ve been at some larger churches as a member–1500 to 2000 member range. The senior pastor at one of those still did Wed. night series, plus prepped sermons 6 weeks in advance, with more targeted visitation of members, guests, etc.

    None of this is meant to make anyone think how hard I or anyone else has it. I’ve watched my dad and brother, neither ministers, routinely put in 60 hour weeks for months on end. Prior to this church I was working a manual labor job where 10 hour days up ladders and in attics were the norm and 12+ hours weren’t uncommon. I know and appreciate how hard many people work day in and day out year after year, and I realize many pastors like to gripe for some reason about how “hard” we have it, which is grating to people.

    Sorry for the random, long-winded comment but thought I might give my perspective.

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  85. bradly: how can someone not know sexual abuse is abuse until years later?

    My father molested me repeatedly when I was young (age 8ish). I didn’t like it and pleaded with him to stop. My rights to my body were completely trumped over my dad’s gratifications. When I told my mother about this in the presence of my father, she simply rolled her eyes at my dad in exasperation. Since nothing was done and the molestations continued, I was confused and stuffed it all down inside.

    It wasn’t until I read the words of Sandusky victims (45 years later!) that I began to realize how I had been abused. My dad, in a position of power, was only interested in his own self-gratification.

    From those victims going public, I gained a voice and mentioned this abuse to my pastor. He thought that because it happened so long ago that I should be over it. I was livid! He has now come to understand the devastating and long-lasting effects of sexual abuse and is much more sensitive and understanding.

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  86. brad/futuristguy,

    Brad/futuristguy: I can see from your multiple comments that you’re actively trying to trace the history of efforts to get the SBC to responsibly address clergy sex abuse, and so allow me to offer you a complimentary copy of my heavily footnoted book documenting the early efforts — “This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang.” Drop me an email if you want: christa@stopbaptistpredators.org. And fyi, that study that the SBC Executive Committee was directed to do back in 2007 about the feasibility of creating a database? They never even budgeted a single dime for that study. That’s documented. Incidentally, I’m the person who’s talked about in that 2007 EthicsDaily article you linked to in your first 1:37 a.m. comment and also the person who wrote most of the columns that are linked at the bottom of that article.

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  87. dee: what happens to some people when they are traumatized.

    Exactly. Example:

    “Then he began to put his hands on her, and Amber said she froze.

    “His hand is on my leg, and I don’t even think I’m breathing,” Amber recounted. “I’m just praying to God it’s over soon and that whatever is about to happen doesn’t happen… I’m frozen. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. I know that I want to say ‘no’ but I don’t know what’s going to happen to me if I do,” Amber said. “My body was rigid.”

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/marine-didnt-report-her-sexual-assault-because-she-feared-not-getting-top-secret-clearance?ref=home

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  88. Max: Steve: What’s the fix for this mess?

    2 Chronicles 7:14

    … and as your verse explains, a standing ovation for the perpetrator is in no way:
    – humbling oneself
    – praying and seeking God’s face and
    – turning from their wicked ways …

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  89. Ok.The largest SBC entity is IMB, I think. They certainly have a celebrity pastor at the helm, although he is leaving soon and going back to pastoring. I just can’t figure out the Texas connection to all this. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to wait until TWW’s reveal.

    BTW, this is a horrific story. I have never personally witnessed the “good ol’ boy” network at work, but I have been assured more than once that it’s real. This sounds like the “good ‘ol boys” are protecting the “good young boys” now. Evil may be too strong a word for what Anne Marie Miller has endured, but I’ve never been afraid away of controversy so I will say “this is evil.” It needs to stop.

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  90. “Why was the youth pastor/molester of a 16 year old teen allowed to continue as an SBC pastor and denomination leader?”

    This was exactly the question that I never could accept or understand 14 years ago … and that haunted me in my efforts for the whole next decade. My story is quite similar to Anne’s and, in the intervening years, virtually nothing has changed within the SBC in terms of its do-nothingness on sexual abuse. Eighteen Southern Baptist church and denominational leaders in 4 different states were informed about the very prominent SBC pastor who had sexually abused me as a 16 year old and about the fact that another SBC minister had substantiated my allegations because he knew about the abuse at the time when I was a kid (though he characterized it as “consensual”). No one did anything other than to try to silence me and the man continued in children’s ministry for a very long time until I pretty much drove myself crazy to try to get him out. The gist of my story is here:
    http://www.ethicsdaily.com/sbc-to-consider-national-clergy-sex-offender-database-cms-9039
    … and it’s more extensively documented in my book — “This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang.” When 18 leaders can know and the man can still continue in children’s ministry, it’s a very dangerous system. It was then and it still is.

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  91. Let me be loud and clear about this. Not only does the super duper large organization known about this but some of the celebrity big boys know about it as well. We have their emails and plan to post them in the near future. People will be surprised who knows about this. Not one of them, who have claimed to be “oh so against abuse” has done one thing to report this.

    This is not an accusation. This is a situation that has been investigated by the relevant agency, including their attorney, agreed it happened, the perp recalled, allowed to resign then allow to be a pastor and now an SBC regional leader.

    Not one of these guys have gotten off their lazy butts and meandered down to the local precinct to report it and that includes famous SBC leaders. We will post the emails when we can do so.

    Did any of them care about the children that this perp is teaching? Nope-they just. don’t. care. Blind guides- every last one of them.

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  92. To Anne,
    You have courage. You have wisdom. May the Lord bless you with peace of mind, comfort, strength, many happy years with you family, and the ability to raise your daughter well.

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  93. dee,

    Despite an Executive Committee, a President and CEO of said Committee, Convention President, Entity Presidents, etc. it seems that the inmates are running the asylum.

    My point is that while there are systemic issues throughout the SBC, including organizational ineptitude, moral lapses at multiple levels of leadership, good ol’ boy mentality, etc. these are no excuse for not being able to come up with a system that protects our most vulnerable from abuse.

    Russell Moore needs to take the lead in 1. Promoting awareness of the need for holding leadership accountable for not blocking perpetrators from getting new positions and 2. Building a registry of those committing ministerial abuse.

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  94. dee: Not one of these guys have gotten off their lazy butts and meandered down to the local precinct to report it and that includes famous SBC leaders

    Guess when you’ve got God on your side there’s no need for law enforcement. What can mere men (yeah I know cops can be women but they have no real authority) do against what the lord has ordained must occur for his glory?

    Seriously, if I believed in a just God I would be so straight and narrow that I wouldn’t think twice about doing the right thing!

    What the heck kind of christians are these?

    And yes, if anyone asks, I’m sitting in judgement.

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  95. brad/futuristguy,

    “It’s always more than just removal of perpetrators and perpetuators….”
    Yes. For too long, too many Southern Baptists have deluded themselves in the comfortable belief that it was just a matter of “a few bad apples.” First of all, it was always way more than “a few.” And second, no matter how many bad apples you remove, if the barrel itself is facilitating the rot, then you’ve still got a massive problem.

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  96. dee,

    Thank you, Dee. And thank you for the work you do here. Seeing the work of you, Deb, Amy and others nowadays allows me to breathe a little easier and even gives me brief flashes of hope for change.

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  97. Jack: Muff Potter: Progressives (the more rabid of the pack) are just as intolerant as some of the fundagelicals.

    Jack:
    Agreed. I did state this isn’t just a Christian problem. Any closed community will do.

    A similarity appears to be the viewpoint they are the righteous. They assert that evil in the culture emanates from their opponents while they are without blemish themselves. Besides self righteousness, a marked lack of humility pervades these neo-puritans of both stripes. Can we put them in an arena to fight it out with each other and leave the rest of us in peace?

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  98. Leslie Puryear:
    Ok.The largest SBC entity is IMB, I think. They certainly have a celebrity pastor at the helm, although he is leaving soon and going back to pastoring. I just can’t figure out the Texas connection to all this. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to wait until TWW’s reveal.

    Well, as the identity is known and due to be revealed, here’s a thought regarding a potential Texas connection. Anne lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. From her story: “The man who did this was a 25-year-old seminary student and youth pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention.” There’s a certain seminary with remarkable stained glass windows in its chapel that been in the news that just happens to be in the western part of that metroplex.

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  99. Reasoning. Scanned Amy and Dee’s recent tweets. Random comment about his account going to private. A former fellow missionary was singing his praises about what a wonderful man he was and would never tolerate a sexual deviant. After the story about Ms. Miller today that same person mentioned shocked and sick over what she is putting together.

    It sounded like the horror of someone trying to comprehend the impossible. I picture that young woman trying to adjust to an in patient setting missing her little girl. She is so courageous but I bet she doesn’t feel like it tonight. Trying to comprehend how those who were to protect considered her or other children unworthy of action.

    I looked at a picture of Mark’s wife looking up at him while he spoke about being new missionaries. I have been that woman absolutely unaware of the evil my husband had perpetrated through the years. He too was believed and I was scorned for daring to speak the truth.

    All I can hear are the impreccatory psalms clanging in my head. I have Predators by Anna Salter on my nightstand to start. The good leaders need to get educated in a big hurry. This isn’t a little matter for a prayer circle and a few tears. This is intentional covering up of extreme evil by those who are to PROTECT!

    I think castration for each of these abusers and those who covered this up is a good place to start. Women are showing more stones these days in the church than men by a long shot. If they aren’t going to use the one thing they say gives them the right to lead and rule, they might as well be relieved of their entitlement piece.

    I think the SBC meeting in less than a month will be the most dangerous location in the US. Either because of the putrid hearted snakes in suits or the Lord deciding to vaporize the arrogant haters of truth.

    Slime, don’t you dare try to say “sorry” now. If you were sorry you would have been publicly repenting and turning yourself in as the Savage evil was revealed. May you experience 10x the agony Ms. Miller has in the last month. Believers have to wise up NOW!

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  100. Trying to get it through my head that these “leaders” watched how Savage was covered for and then Frank Page and then Les Whatshisname and then Patterson. NONE of them said “What is this great evil we have done against the Lord and those who count on us?!” The arrogance and lack of shame overwhelms my mind!! I am sure there is a Hebrew word for “off with their heads” but I don’t know it. Bet the hypocritical scholars know it. HOW can they not CARE?!?! Rant over.

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  101. Okay, I guess the ages don’t match up with Jeffress. Didn’t think of that. But I have seen the true character of that man in years past, and I do not like him one bit.

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  102. Headless Unicorn Guy: “Why was the youth pastor/molester of a 16 year old teen allowed to continue as an SBC pastor and denomination leader?”

    Because they can, and most of the rest hand wave.

    https://www.ted.com/talks/jimmy_carter_why_i_believe_the_mistreatment_of_women_is_the_number_one_human_rights_abuse#t-90140

    #1 Human Rights Abuse Globally: Mistreatment of Women and Girls, because of:
    – 1. Misuse of Scripture, keeping men in an ascendant position.
    – 2. Excessive resort to violence.
    – 3. Lack of equal pay for equal work.
    – 4. “In general, men just don’t give a d*mn. The average man quietly accepts his privileged position.”

    He mentions military officers not protecting the enlisted, university administrations not protecting students, governments not protecting female citizens – Men want and have the leadership role (the majority) but not the responsibility of protecting women. One could add the church as another institution with majority male leadership, which then in general does not protect the vulnerable.

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  103. https://vimeo.com/223184369

    Comparing this church worship/preaching video to Andy Savage’s or Bill Hybels’ stage presentation = complete opposites in terms of tradition versus edgy. SBC vs. Seeker.

    Style is not the issue of substance and consequence here. It’s not what’s on stage, to the eye – choir robes versus rock band, that is the problem.

    However, the underbelly of what goes on with these men and their cohort behind the scene, that is the problem where the damage is done. Secret lives. Deep secrets.

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  104. jyjames: He mentions military officers not protecting the enlisted, university administrations not protecting students, governments not protecting female citizens – Men want and have the leadership role (the majority) but not the responsibility of protecting women. One could add the church as another institution with majority male leadership, which then in general does not protect the vulnerable.

    All my life, in and out of the church, I’ve heard that men were going to protect me, and they never did.

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  105. It’s like an object lesson in how NOT to do it. None of these people have any character worth mentioning despite all the Jesus words falling from their mouths.

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  106. Jessica:
    dee,

    This makes me sick.Absolutely sick.

    It makes me angry …… fightin’ mad! How many more victims and perpetrators are there? How many decades has SBC higher ignored victims and protected evil???

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  107. truthseeker00: My former Calvie pastor was fishing most days. Nice job, if you can get it.

    Better to be at the river thinking about God than at church thinking about fishing. 😉

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  108. From the list of items at the end of the post:

    “The large Baptist entity with a celebrity leader should go to the police and report this now, even if they know they are under investigation. Do right, SBC!”

    It is not too late for them to notify current and past churches – and they should do that immediately. It is too late for them to “report” to the police since the police already know about it. It is unfathomable to me that the lawyer did not report this.

    They did not report because they did not believe that was what Anne wanted?!?! I’m going to call a big fat pile of B.S. on that one. They didn’t report because they wanted to protect the entity – plain and simple tribalism.

    Having been down this road a few years ago with a church here in the Boulder area, I would expect to see charges filed against the people not reporting. This document discusses when to report, who is responsible to report, and the penalties for not reporting. https://www.baylor.edu/gr/doc.php/267639.pdf

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  109. ishy: All my life, in and out of the church, I’ve heard that men were going to protect me, and they never did.

    They have the position and title. They garner the salary, stand at the podium, and receive standing ovations. They make the decisions and the rules. But they may not be leaders.

    Leaders go first into enemy territory, as did Major Dick Winters in “Band of Brothers”.
    “Leaders Eat Last”, as demonstrated in the so-titled book by Simon Sinek.

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  110. Max: I heard a mega-church consultant tell some young pastors that all they ever needed was 25 sermons. He advised them to prepare those the first year of their ministry, file them, and then retrieve them to preach over and over their whole ministry. He advised them to toss in a few new illustrations to fool the flock into thinking they were new sermons!

    You know when you realize you’ve the bible is huge but you seem to hear the same passages over and over and some of them you’ve never heard? This kind of thing explains some of that…

    Of course, with this preach slowly through one book method you might hear stuff you haven’t heard, but you’re definitely not getting through the whole bible if you spend 3 years in Deuteronomy either.

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  111. Doug: Lea,
    That was me–it shows what wrongheaded things were taught and held. Given how slow we are to change anything, how much we are loathe to say a previous generation got it wrong, I don’t doubt that this thinking is still around. I tell that story because we sit around and wonder how sexual abuse can happen, yet the answer is right there: we treated it for years (and often still do) as just an everyday occurrence–only worth moving you on to the next place. Fortunately, further training showed me how wrong that way of thinking was, and it’s certainly not the way I would handle it or ever handled it.

    Thank you for coming here. I never got any inkling that you had mishandled it but was sad at the advice that was given. I had the good fortune to have good leaders in youth group, thankfully, but I can’t help but be heartbroken for all the girls and sometimes boys who were taken advantage of. We have to do better on this.

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  112. jyjames: 2 Chronicles 7:14

    … and as your verse explains, a standing ovation for the perpetrator is in no way:
    – humbling oneself
    – praying and seeking God’s face and
    – turning from their wicked ways …

    THEN Will I:
    – hear their prayer
    – forgive their sin
    – and heal their land (including their lives, their church, their denomination)

    … and only then. It’s tough to give a standing ovation when you are on your knees.

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  113. Kruppe: I’ve been at some larger churches as a member–1500 to 2000 member range. The senior pastor at one of those still did Wed. night series, plus prepped sermons 6 weeks in advance, with more targeted visitation of members, guests, etc.

    This is about the size of mine, and I know the pastor is also present at staff meetings, ministry nights, elder session meetings, sometimes they do sunday schools series and lead a bible study.

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  114. Doug,

    I should say, my youth pastors were a husband and wife, and I think that is a fair model. Anything can be abused (predators are sneaky) but it’s probably better than some of the other options I’ve seen.

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  115. FW Rez: Despite an Executive Committee, a President and CEO of said Committee, Convention President, Entity Presidents, etc. it seems that the inmates are running the asylum.

    This is a critical problem with the SBC. None of those folks have any real authority over bad actors in the denomination. Any powermonger can gain control of the denomination as long as he adheres to the essential tenets of the Baptist Faith & Message. Movements and movers have come and gone in the SBC over the past 150 years. The current ruling party and party-chief are no exceptions … New Calvinism and Al Mohler now reign.

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  116. Doug: … how sexual abuse can happen, yet the answer is right there: we treated it for years (and often still do) as just an everyday occurrence–only worth moving you on to the next place…

    It’s a running problem: we only talk about sexual abuse when there’s a specific problem, which keeps us from putting in useful safeguards…

    … you can become a Baptist pastor with no training and stay one forever without ever listening to anyone outside of your choices. So, take someone who was “called and gifted” at 16 and put him in the pulpit by 21, and what does he know about sexual abuse? …

    … All the while, real, live, human beings, bearers of the Image of God, are harmed.

    … We need to find a way to stop making the church an easy target.

    Candid, shocking and true. As they say, “Thoughts and Prayers” are not enough.

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  117. Max: Any powermonger can gain control of the denomination as long as he adheres to the essential tenets of the Baptist Faith & Message.

    As long as his Ideology is Pure and Correct, Comrades.

    Even if he redefines the Ideology as-needed.

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  118. Max: Any powermonger can gain control of the denomination as long as he adheres to the essential tenets of the Baptist Faith & Message.

    Then there is something wrong with “the Message” because the Org is giving out the wrong message.

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  119. jyjames: the Org is giving out the wrong message

    The 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith & Message trends toward Calvinistic belief and practice, which created an opening for Mohler and his Mohlerites. Mohler was on the revision team … surprise, surprise!

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  120. Lea: the problem is the attitude that it’s no big deal to abuse a teenage girl,

    Sick. And criminal.

    No matter how “conservative” the agenda, this behavior is “liberal” – a free and easy, immoral subculture of the leadership in youth ministry, and all the way up to the tenured leaders. (With the Judge and Sandusky, it was no big deal to abuse a teenage boy.)

    Which is why the conservative/liberal labels don’t work. Theoretically, “conservative” should at the very least indicate keeping one’s pants on appropriately. In reality, not so.

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  121. Jack,

    Jack:
    When you have a theology that places women and children as inferior to the point of being property of men, this does not surprise me.This is not just “Baptist” problem, it’s not even a “Christian” problem, we see this in many patriarchal cultures.

    Biblical literalism, venerating a culture that died thousands of years ago, pining for a golden age that never was…

    Thing is, the Lord doesn’t portray a golden age, either. The Bible describes an age in which each generation found ways to prove it was worse than the last, in which those who were allegedly God’s people sacrificed their children, treated women like chattel, chased after pagan gods, solicited prostitutes, formed alliances with the most evil cultures around them, murdered in cold blood, engaged in public orgies, made up rules which allowed leaders to abuse those under them, cynically destroyed anyone who stood up for truth or prevented them from seizing absolute power, and generally completely turned the concept of servant leadership exemplified by Jesus on its head. They were selfish pigs.

    I’d say the average celeb culture leader has done a great job of perpetuating that “golden age”.

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  122. jyjames: No matter how “conservative” the agenda, this behavior is “liberal”

    We need to call it like it is when “pastors” act like this … this behavior is LOST! Just because you have “Reverend” in front of your name doesn’t mean you know the Lord.

    “In ‘that day’ many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we preach in your name, didn’t we cast out devils in your name, and do many great things in your name?’ Then I shall tell them plainly, ‘I have never known you. Go away from me, you have worked on the side of evil!’” (Matthew 7:22-23)

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  123. Anne treatment by SBC sounds similar to Debbie Vasqez as reported by Nashville Scene “What would Jesus say?” (Beware graphical description in the report) Ten years since the SBC 2008 Convention. Same dismissive attitude. Same excuses. At least SBC can contract an independent 3rd party for reporting abuses and to investigate abuses. Matt 23 and Luke 10:29 Who is my neighbor? comes to my mind.

    Thank you for Wartburg Watch, it helps me to know God is bigger than SBC or any denomination and there are people who still cares for the “traveller attacked by robbers”. I will put on sack cloth and roll in ashes for SBC.

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  124. Doug,

    “We have failed. I have failed, though simple inaction to the wider problem. I read stories here and over at Watchkeep and try to use those to teach others within my influence in hopes that the cycle of foolishness stops. It’s not enough, but it’s the start I can make.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    can you use your influence at ‘meetings’ / ‘conferences’/ ‘convention’ to hop onto the conference table and sit there looking everyone in the eye telling them the unvarnished truth that

    -SGM/SGC has a moral obligation to make itself accountable for the destruction of lives it enabled

    -and as long as they refuse a truly independent investigation, they dehumanize the children who were raped and molested, & their families

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  125. bradly:
    asking an honest question: how can someone not know sexual abuse is abuse until years later?I really am trying to understand but this makes it sound as though she was talked into believing she was abused.Do we know the nature of the abuse.

    It’s because your a male.

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  126. ishy:
    All my life, in and out of the church, I’ve heard that men were going to protect me, and they never did.

    It’s a dodge. Some men do protect, but others attack.

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  127. Doug,

    Some really nice thoughts Doug. I’m sure there’s some serious regrets out there. But in my opinion it’s too late now. There is a time when an infection can be treated. But gangrene has set in. The healthy tissue (true church) will survive however. Let the dead now start burying their own dead. Next month in Dallas would be a good time/place to start. Instead resolutions (new medicines) will be passed/prescribed. Too little and way too late.

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  128. bradly,

    “asking an honest question: how can someone not know sexual abuse is abuse until years later? I really am trying to understand but this makes it sound as though she was talked into believing she was abused. Do we know the nature of the abuse?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    you see, she was talked into believing that she was the temptress, that she caused it, that she was a slut, and sluts enjoy having sex with any man under any conditions.

    this is the implicit if not explicit message she and all of us had heard all our lives.

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  129. Steve: Next month in Dallas would be a good time/place to start. Instead resolutions (new medicines) will be passed/prescribed. Too little and way too late.

    The Southern Baptist Convention is no longer relevant to Southern Baptists.

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  130. jyjames: No matter how “conservative” the agenda, this behavior is “liberal” – a free and easy, immoral subculture of the leadership in youth ministry, and all the way up to the tenured leaders.

    And of course, if this same teenage girl were to have consensual sex with her age appropriate boyfriend, she would be treated like dirt. When a grown man takes advantage, he is in the clear.

    That’s not conservative or liberal. It’s just sick.

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  131. Deborah,

    Deborah:
    Am I allowed to guess? I have never heard of him but I am guessing Mark Aderholt.

    Yes, that is who I believe it is. From Twitter you can type in the victim’s name and Aderholt’s name is cited by Watchkeep several times.

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  132. Jack: What the heck kind of christians are these?
    And yes, if anyone asks, I’m sitting in judgement.

    There are, in my experience, two types of Christian.

     Firstly, Type Zero (whom I will never cease to acknowledge, nor to respect): the honourable exceptions.

    But then, for the most part:
     Type 1: the corrosively judgemental, who assume I’m a turd and my actions are motivated by a desire to “sin”
    Type 2: the condescendingly judgemental, who assume I’m an infant who’s been “hurt” and my actions are motivated by the fear of being “hurt” again

    How (and I ask rhetorically) can one possibly pursue “fellowship” with that kind of culture?

    Just as there are honourable exceptions among professing Christians, there are dishonourable exceptions in “the world” – non-christians who are judgemental or patronising. But overall, in nearly 30 years of churchgoing, all of the major positive breakthroughs that happened in my life have happened when I stepped away from church and embraced the world. A healthy relationship with women (that is to say, the opposite sex – the converse would be true were I a woman) is one; an end of years of hopeless unemployment was another; an understanding of my autism was another.

    Jack – one reason I appreciate your regular contributions as a Wartburger is that you and I are, I tentatively speculate, quite similar. It would be discourteous, and disrespectful, to push this speculation too far, or to put words in your mouth that you wouldn’t have chosen. But I identify as ex-Christian. I absolutely was a Christian; and I now absolutely am not. Although I love the idea of a God who is like Jesus, I certainly do not personally know such a God, and I do not expect to find one among the ranks of organised Christendom.

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  133. Max: Movements and movers have come and gone in the SBC over the past 150 years.

    Yep. And yet when I say that the idea that Baptistville was certainly not a total rose garden prior to the CR, some folks have seizures over any such idea.

    When I was a child and young adult I heard very little actual doctrine at church at lest not with any depth much beyond ‘Jesus saves’. There was no zero zip mention of the Holy Spirit, and no introduction to any ideas that were not baptistic even in order to refute them unless the ideas were RC or JW. We did hear missionary stories some of which I concluded were misrepresentations based on what I saw the summer I spent ‘on the field’, and we did memorize bible verses all without any adequate analysis as to what they might mean if they did not mean as defined by standard baptist faith and practice. We never got past religious third grade. We were ripe for the picking. Anybody think we could exercise ‘discernment’ about ideas that we had never even been exposed to?

    I am sorry, but this current situation did not develop over night. The only thing that happened over night was who grabbed power. The situation was ripe for somebody to grab power and the people (we) were not prepared to know the difference. So some group comes along and offers structure, and answers, and reasons, and something that sounds substantive, and certainties, and cultural awareness however bizarre, and most of all tells people what they want to hear and whammo. Front of the line.

    The question now is, if we are as it seems to be in some stage of other of massive and global upheaval in some areas of thinkig, and if that is playing our right here in our nation as some of it seems to be, then what happens to some religious system/non-system which has had time to repent and time to address its weaknesses and which has not done it. Does it survive? Should it survive?

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  134. jyjames: One could add the church as another institution with majority male leadership, which then in general does not protect the vulnerable.

    Absolutely! It has gone on since the church began.

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  135. Steve:
    Jessica,

    I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

    I’m praying that God unleashes light in this darkness. Snuff it out!

    I’m a member of an SBC church and I am absolutely sick over this. I’ve witnessed a pastor within the denomination seek out inappropriate relationships with female congregants – multiple women – and that experience caused me to nearly loose my faith in the church. This current situation, and the possible people involved, I am sick.

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  136. Sorry about the typos at 10:55 there. I was trying to rant and rave here while at the same time explain a simpler method for determining least common denominator to kiddo.

    When Mom taught sewing in Four-H-Club they told her to quit teaching short cuts or quit teaching sewing. Seems like I am doing that same thing with math. Frustrating.

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  137. Nathan Priddis: asking an honest question: how can someone not know sexual abuse is abuse until years later?I really am trying to understand but this makes it sound as though she was talked into believing she was abused.Do we know the nature of the abuse.

    It’s because your a male.

    Thank you Nathan! Me thinks it would not be received in the same manner from me, a simple female.

    Bradly scares me because if he doesn’t understand how this scenario can happen because he’s male, then I’m afraid he wouldn’t know if he was abusing someone himself 🙁

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  138. Jessica,

    I’m very confident He’s going to fix this. Although I’m DONE with the SBC I still believe there are good people in the pews at some SBC churches. MAYBE a handful of good pastors too. However I couldn’t begin to tell someone how to know for sure if their pastor is trustworthy. Better safe than sorry.

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  139. ___

    “Run Don’t Walk to The Nearest 501c3 Church Exit?”

    hmmm…

    I would like to make an inquiry as to why it took six months for you, Anne, to stop the molestation; why did it take so long to get the authorities involved? This information may help other women in similar circumstances. Thank-You!

    Get well soon,

    ATB

    Sòpy
    —-
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qmmBJXcaE5o

    – –

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  140. The average SBC member in the pew cares less. It’s sad, but true.

    I write a blog and when I discuss what is going on at the seminaries or the mission board, the average pew sitter replies, that is going on there, it doesn’t effect me in the least. Never mind they donate to the Cooperate Board, Lottie Moon, etc…..

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  141. Max,

    The 2000 revision made zero changes in the areas you are referencing. The changes were to the preamble, article on God’s Word, and women in ministry. It is not more, or less, Calvinistic than it was in 1925 or 1963.

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  142. Steve:
    dee,

    Sure hope there’s not a Columbia connection.

    So far as I can tell, Columbia SC is where the alleged perp now works for a Baptist organization as a strategerist, or strategist, or something. So they made him a pencil pusher but still on the Christian dole. Unless he recently got fired? The latest I could see was last summer the guy was leading a workshop at Anderson U helping teens to discover their “calling”.
    But maybe I have the wrong guy.

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  143. Steve: Although I’m DONE with the SBC I still believe there are good people in the pews at some SBC churches.

    There are more genuine Christians in SBC pews than in some pulpits!

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  144. K.D.:
    The average SBC member in the pew cares less. It’s sad, but true.

    I write a blog and when I discuss what is going on at the seminaries or the mission board, the average pew sitter replies, that is going on there, it doesn’t effect me in the least. Never mind they donate to the Cooperate Board, Lottie Moon, etc…..

    I honestly don’t think the majority of them have a clue what’s going on. I think of my SBC church, and I’d say, in all reality, maybe 5 of us have any clue what happens in the broader SBC world. I was telling a friend this morning that I am uncomfortable giving to my church precisely because a portion is sent to the Cooperative Program and IMB.

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  145. okrapod,

    Eh, we all speak internet-ese. 🙂

    The SBC’s polity is a perfect storm for this. It’s almost impossible to put a third party in place with teeth to enforce policing predators. There is no “central rule” due to local autonomy for them to push this, and local congregations have no one to appeal to for the same reason.

    Multiple things, interwoven, need to happen. Bear with me, as I am sure I’ll miss a step and I’ll be happy to have people pitch in.
    There needs to be a third party watchdog entity.
    State Conventions should fund it, publish it’s existence, and push it to local congregations.
    Local congregation need to know about it, and USE it.
    The people in the PEWS need to know about it and make sure their church is using it when vetting people.

    Problems – It’s freaking voluntary, because with SBC polity, you can’t force it. The associations and conventions at the state, region, and local levels CAN put a list saying “These churches use this watchdog entity…” for people to check.

    The Old Boys Network can move people between churches that don’t use the entity, or stifle names being added.

    I am completely spitballing here. I was raised SBC, but I’m now in the ACNA, for a whole host of reasons (scriptural, spiritual, training, oversight, and so on), so I’m at least using that to compare “command and control” factors – which the SBC lacks, BY DESIGN.

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  146. Steve: If this page changes soon you’ll know you’re right. If you are right this story could end up with many layers.

    His LinkedIn account has already disappeared.

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  147. dee,

    Adding to this, some abusers are good at sugar-coating the abuse through things like gifts, affirmation, and making the victim feel special. Any apparent kindness or affection from the abuser prevents the victim, especially a very young victim, from recognizing the abuse for what it really is. It takes a long time, sometimes years or decades, to understand that the the grooming and manipulation were part and parcel of the abuse, instead of mitigating factors for the abuser.

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  148. Rambler: Problems – It’s freaking voluntary, because with SBC polity, you can’t force it.

    You can only force it if it’s to the Advantage of the SBC; at which point it becomes absolutely compulsory. (Like Young Earth Creationism or keeping wimmen in their place.)

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  149. Dave A A: The latest I could see was last summer the guy was leading a workshop at Anderson U helping teens to discover their “calling”.

    With the gentalia of the Godly “Stratergist”?

    “I keep getting older; they always stay the same age.”
    — Ehebephile ogling teens in a movie clip I saw once in a YouTube video (no provenance or source)

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  150. C…: Max,
    The 2000 revision made zero changes in the areas you are referencing. The changes were to the preamble, article on God’s Word, and women in ministry.

    They keep holding all the Potlucks and Pastor preaches such wonderful sermons Saving so many Souls…

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  151. jyjames: Then there is something wrong with “the Message” because the Org is giving out the wrong message.

    By “Message” do you mean the Tech direct from Flag?

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  152. Nick Bulbeck: Type 2: the condescendingly judgemental, who assume I’m an infant who’s been “hurt” and my actions are motivated by the fear of being “hurt” again

    Oh man. This is one thing that needs to be talked about in detail!

    I can have empathy for other people who have been hurt, because I’m not a sociopath. What are those who don’t???

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  153. Did a Large SBC Entity Refuse to Report a Known Sex Offender to Authorities and to Other Churches? Law Enforcement Is Now Investigating.

    Have the Head Pastors of the “Large SBC Entity” previously groomed “Law Enforcement” to make sure they’re on the “Cop” side of the Code of Blue?

    If so, The Fix Is In. Again.

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  154. Steve: Here’s the big question for dee and Amy: Did FBC Columbia give this guy time with the youth?

    Short Answer: Yes.

    https://twitter.com/PhilipTurner81?lang=en

    Long Answer: FBC Columbia has had some troubled history minors and abuse:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/10/30/first-baptist-church-columbia-south-carolina-is-being-sued-for-failure-to-report-sex-abuse-of-a-minor/

    http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/NC/20021225/News/605099688/WM/

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  155. okrapod: So some group comes along and offers structure, and answers, and reasons, and something that sounds substantive

    I think this is a great observation. I learned quite a lot of bible verses growing up and stories. But when I went to Dever’s church, I got that studious, erudite version of the bible. Explanations of language and context, quotes from theologians, etc. It was wonderful. Especially if you’ve gotten used to rather thin sermons, full of personal anecdotes or alternately emotions.

    This is one of the things I like about the church I go to now, there is deeper study.

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  156. Rambler: I am completely spitballing here. I was raised SBC, but I’m now in the ACNA, for a whole host of reasons (scriptural, spiritual, training, oversight, and so on), so I’m at least using that to compare “command and control” factors – which the SBC lacks, BY DESIGN.

    Yeah. My whole though small extended family has ended up in an anglo-catholic TEC parish, albeit having started as SBC, but I have also seen how that LCMS school situation was handled, and these influence my thinking regarding denominational structure.

    What is my main motivator, however, is what I call fill in the blanks. That would be all that a denom leaves out if they totally discredit everything between the death of the last apostle and the protestant reformation. I suppose that things are a lot simpler that way-just get a felt tip marker and go for it as if it were classified material or something. But I don’t see that christianity is designed to be something which is up for re-definition all that much. Some cultural adaptation for sure, but back up the garbage truck and shovel in all the first 1500 years of so-heck no.

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  157. Lea,

    I hear you. Jesus did not sound trite to me, nor are the epistles trite. So why would be worship at the shrine of trite now? Sound like you are in a good place for you.

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  158. Deborah: I think castration for each of these abusers and those who covered this up is a good place to start. Women are showing more stones these days in the church than men by a long shot. If they aren’t going to use the one thing they say gives them the right to lead and rule, they might as well be relieved of their entitlement piece.

    Hear! Hear!

    It is being reported at Cannes that Whitney Houston was molested by a female cousin when she was little and is one of the reasons she had emotional problems.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/music/celebrity/cannes-doc-whitney-houston-was-molested-by-dee-dee-warwick/ar-AAxp64n

    And it never ends churches mock, belittle, bully, and dismiss victims of sexual abuse.
    And they baby, pity, coddle, protect, and promote molesters and child rapist.

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  159. okrapod: Jesus did not sound trite to me, nor are the epistles trite. So why would be worship at the shrine of trite now?

    Indeed.

    okrapod: Sound like you are in a good place for you.

    I do too, although my boyfriend recently told me he thought I would make a good catholic lol.

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  160. Headless Unicorn Guy,
    Just like with Savage, something which should be shocking but isn’t is that no “leaders” tell these guys they need to go get a secular job away from teenagers. “Ministry” career is all-important, so they just take some time off and then pick it back up.

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  161. Lest we forget– the REALLY big fish with an SBC connection is named Ravi Zacharias, and isn’t he going to speak at the upcoming SBC in Dallas?

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  162. Law Prof: Thing is, the Lord doesn’t portray a golden age, either. The Bible describes an age in which each generation found ways to prove it was worse than the last,

    I don’t think that biblical writers describe each age as worse than the prior, I think that crept in from other sources. Plato in his writings on forms portrayed a world that is a poor reflection of some utopian bygone era, change was bad. That his “Replubic”, badly translated title, was propaganda for a totalitarian ruling class demonstrates even more how such ideas have entered parts of Christian theology.

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  163. okrapod:
    What is my main motivator, however, is what I call fill in the blanks.That would be all that a denom leaves out if they totally discredit everything between the death of the last apostle and the protestant reformation.I suppose that things are a lot simpler that way-just get a felt tip marker and go for it as if it were classified material or something.But I don’t see that christianity is designed to be something which is up for re-definition all that much.Some cultural adaptation for sure, but back up the garbage truck and shovel in all the first 1500 years of so-heck no.

    Exactly. Of course, I’m married to a woman who is a very knowledgeable and active Eastern Rite Catholic, so I might be a little biased. 🙂

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  164. okrapod: Sorry about the typos at 10:55 there. I was trying to rant and rave here while at the same time explain a simpler method for determining least common denominator to kiddo.

    Lemme guess, is the kiddo being bamboozled with the latest crapola in Math curriculum rolled down the pike by insulated bureaucrats and out of touch academicians?

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  165. Dave A A: the REALLY big fish with an SBC connection is named Ravi Zacharias, and isn’t he going to speak at the upcoming SBC in Dallas?

    Yes, “Dr.” Zacharias is scheduled to speak June 12 at the SBC annual conference in Dallas. This amidst allegations that he has overstated his academic background, falsely claiming he has a doctorate. Oh yes, and there was a recent sexting allegation that was settled out of court. The SBC mess just gets messier by the day.

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  166. Thersites: I don’t think that biblical writers describe each age as worse than the prior, I think that crept in from other sources.Plato in his writings on forms portrayed a world that is a poor reflection of some utopian bygone era, change was bad.That his “Replubic”, badly translated title, was propaganda for a totalitarian ruling class demonstrates even more how such ideas have entered parts of Christian theology.

    Thersites: I don’t think that biblical writers describe each age as worse than the prior, I think that crept in from other sources.Plato in his writings on forms portrayed a world that is a poor reflection of some utopian bygone era, change was bad.That his “Replubic”, badly translated title, was propaganda for a totalitarian ruling class demonstrates even more how such ideas have entered parts of Christian theology.

    Thersites: I don’t think that biblical writers describe each age as worse than the prior, I think that crept in from other sources.Plato in his writings on forms portrayed a world that is a poor reflection of some utopian bygone era, change was bad.That his “Replubic”, badly translated title, was propaganda for a totalitarian ruling class demonstrates even more how such ideas have entered parts of Christian theology.

    That was hyperbole on my part; I didn’t literally mean things were getting progressively worse. Looks like they had the same sort of issues we have today, perhaps in some ways worse, in some ways better, but people are people and always have been: in desperate need of a savior and forgiveness.

    I sincerely doubt the Bible had all sorts of other sources creeping in. The Jews were absolute picky sticklers about the integrity of their scriptures—for good, bad or indifferent, depending on your perspective. The idea that right under the nose of thousands of scribes and priests all looking over each others’ shoulders, that someone could just kind of slip in some outside material here and there, doesn’t wash with me—and I’m a skeptic by nature, a snotty academic (probably too snotty for my unfortunately modest accomplishments). When they found the Dead Sea scrolls about 70 years ago, scholars were excited, so I’ve read, about the implications, because previously the earliest entire scriptures they had were about a thousand years more recent. Here was the grand opportunity to see the manner in which the text had evolved over an entire millennium. Turns out…it hadn’t, the same old stuff, same old Torah, scriptures and prophets. To believe that the previous thousand years were strikingly different among the same people group, that the earlier scriptures were just chock full of changes and interpolations and this and that from outside sources, a perpetually evolving text prior to the First Century BC, that requires a blind leap of faith that my naturally skeptical mind won’t make.

    If, however, you want to make the argument that Christian THEOLOGY changes over the ages due to influences from surrounding cultures, then you bet, I’m on board with that. Absolutely. That’s one of the prevailing themes of TWW; it’s what’s going on with the misuse of Matthew 18 and Hebrews 3:17, with the seeker-sensitive nonsense, the neocalvinists, etc.

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  167. Max: Yes, “Dr.” Zacharias is scheduled to speak June 12 at the SBC annual conference in Dallas.This amidst allegations that he has overstated his academic background, falsely claiming he has a doctorate.Oh yes, and there was a recent sexting allegation that was settled out of court.The SBC mess just gets messier by the day.

    But he’s FAMOUS! And he is a GOOD SPEAKER!

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  168. Muff Potter: Lemme guess, is the kiddo being bamboozled with the latest crapola in Math curriculum rolled down the pike by insulated bureaucrats and out of touch academicians?

    Perhaps some of their philosophy of education has slipped in, but actually she is homeschooled and we are using a curriculum which can be used in a religious homeschool even though we are registered and operate as secular. However, I am not satisfied with the extent to which this curriculum does or does not teach actual thinking processes. It is a mixed bag. They take the long and hard way around-maybe to appeal to a broader market, or maybe there really is a great conspiracy out there to robotize little people into semi-computers who have to adhere to the program or perish in order to create a class of people who can be manipulated by the system because they don’t have the necessary skills to do anything about it. Her mom the real “NC certified master’s level public school teacher with 25 years experience!” said in ‘teacher voice’ to quell even the hardiest leans toward the conspiracy theory.

    Public education is designed to turn out productive citizens, not necessarily autonomous thinking and educated individuals. That has its benefits, but that changes with the ‘needs’ of the nation. The fact that some folks manage to get educated at the same time, that also has its benefits. I preach thinking skills with for example: given the information what do we know for sure and how can we go from what we know for sure to what we don’t know. Well, first what is the information. Second, what is the question. And third (and this is my favorite) if all we answer is the asked question have we missed the rest of the information and the questions that were not asked.

    Actual math example-elementary school. Using estimation by rounding, does Susie have enough money to buy this that and the other at the store if this costs X and that costs Y and Z costs W? Well using estimation the kid comes out with just barely not quite enough for the purchase. The answer they wanted was ‘yes’ because the number only lacked a dime or so of being enough. Estimating. I say the answer is ‘no’ because number games or no number games, the cashier will not let you have the merchandise without the whole amount. The answer should be ‘no. this is an example where estimation will get you nowhere’. So then I tried to get into if you are taking a test like this first you have to guess what answer the people who wrote the test want, and then you have to compute the ‘real’ answer, and then you have to choose which answer you will write down. Conclusion: write down what they want, get the grade, but never be fooled by any of it.

    I want to turn out a thinker, not a robot. That takes a little extra work.

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  169. okrapod: I say the answer is ‘no’ because number games or no number games, the cashier will not let you have the merchandise without the whole amount. The answer should be ‘no.

    True. When estimating in this particular example, you have to pay attention to the fact that if you are within the ballpark and *over* you are good. If you are within the ballpark and *under* you are not. That’s why actual math is helpful.

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  170. okrapod: the number only lacked a dime or so of being enough.

    BTW, I was just reading a thread about being poor the other day and how deadly important it was to be on with your estimating in the grocery store.

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  171. ishy: But he’s FAMOUS! And he is a GOOD SPEAKER!

    They also have Dave Ramsey scheduled as a special guest at SBC-Dallas. Whew, that guy has made a fortune off of Southern Baptists teaching them things that their parents tried to teach them about money management.

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  172. Max: Oh yes, and there was a recent sexting allegation that was settled out of court.

    From Lori Anne Thompson a few minutes ago:
    https://twitter.com/LoriAnneThomps2/status/997170204621836288
    If you read nothing else about #churchtoo today, this week or this month I recommend this thread all the way through. MANY a prey has been eaten alive by a predator right in front of the eyes of the pious. It is true that “my people perish for lack of knowledge.” Deadly true.
    Wade Mullen
    ‏@wad3mullen
    When facing exposure, abusers will deftly spin a web of deception around the truth until it suffocates and dies. They might do this by weaving threads between themselves and issues or people indirectly related to the central truths…

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  173. It just hit me. These pastors don’t care when a woman or girl tells them about abuse. They don’t care what the Creator of the universe says in the book He wrote that they claim to believe in and teach. They only care when the secular media gets wind of what they covered up and starts to expose them.

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  174. Dave A A: ‏@wad3mullen
    When facing exposure, abusers will deftly spin a web of deception around the truth until it suffocates and dies. They might do this by weaving threads between themselves and issues or people indirectly related to the central truths…

    Oh yes! How many times have we seen that on TWW reports? Deceivers are masters at deception – false shepherds are the worst.

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  175. Abigail:
    It just hit me. These pastors don’t care when a woman or girl tells them about abuse. They don’t care what the Creator of the universe says in the book He wrote that they claim to believe in and teach. They only care when the secular media gets wind of what they covered up and starts to expose them.

    Whoever posted about their activities being “liberal” earlier (I think it was jyjames), I thought if the public started calling them liberal over acts like this, they might actually get offended enough to do something. Probably work better than using the Bible…

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  176. There will be places in the EIC that will be looking for ways to directly profit financially from the way this stuff is trending, and/or to anticipate or create market cycles around it to generate profit or revenue streams. If you can identify where this is happening and report on it, it would be a damaging blow.

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  177. Afterburne: Having been down this road a few years ago with a church here in the Boulder area,

    Just wondering if you are able to give some hints as to what church in Boulder? My son is in college in Boulder and goes to a church in the area (after having one bad experience and quitting another church/college ministry that was definitely on the cultish end)

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  178. Steve,

    So far, quite a few of “the usual suspects” in the SBC realm (Voices, Today, ThisWeek) have remained quiet. Do you think they are all just waiting and circling, or busy discussing in private, or waiting for the other shoe to drop,, or completely unaware? I just am a bit surprised that no one has really responded to TWW or WK. Maybe they are just waiting to see how TWW proceeds next.

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  179. Steve,

    I agree. There is a decent crack in the dike now. I think it’s possible that it will burst wide open as victims gain the strength and courage to reveal their stories.
    And I hope each perpetrator and his minions will get what they deserve in this life as well as the next…

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  180. Jessica: I’m praying that God unleashes light in this darkness.Snuff it out!

    I’m a member of an SBC church and I am absolutely sick over this.I’ve witnessed a pastor within the denomination seek out inappropriate relationships with female congregants – multiple women – and that experience caused me to nearly loose my faith in the church.This current situation, and the possible people involved, I am sick.

    Jessica, i walked away from organized church. The last one was an SBC church. I knew that my faith was not in the church but in Jesus. Since leaving my relationship with Jesus is stronger. As i look back upon my decades in organized church I honestly miss aspects of corporate worship but I am no longer looking to plug in anywhere. It’s just not worth it for me.
    I am beyond angry at the stories that are coming to our attention. There is no help for the church. These places are not of God. The true church is alive and well but not located in these walls. I believe that God is leading his people out from among this idolatrous, man made system.

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  181. Beakerj: Yeah isn’t it shocking that such a huge church organisation doesn’t do any better than a secular organisation?

    It is shocking actually. When I was young and didn’t know anything, I thought they would do the right thing. Apparently not so much.

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  182. readingalong: Just wondering if you are able to give some hints as to what church in Boulder?

    Pretty much any of the links will point you in the correct direction if you Google these terms:
    daily camera church pastor molestation

    There are a couple of popular churches that are either neo-cal or 9marks. I won’t say beware of them because I do hear good things from those that attend. None-the-less they both require covenants if I am not mistaken.

    The Well is one. Cornerstone is the other. Cornerstone is listed on the 9Marks find a church page.

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  183. Lea wrote, quoting me:

    Type 2 [Christians]: the condescendingly judgemental, who assume I’m an infant who’s been “hurt” and my actions are motivated by the fear of being “hurt” again

    Oh man. This is one thing that needs to be talked about in detail!
    I can have empathy for other people who have been hurt, because I’m not a sociopath. What are those who don’t???

    I might warn you about suggesting to me that something be talked about in detail – life is too short! However, I’ll try and be brief here.

    The main caution in talking about this is the kind of false opposite that has been discussed lately here in Wartburg: the religious discussion that reduces everything to two polar opposites as though those two polar opposites are the only two possible positions. The false antithesis here is that everyone is either a) a smothering mother who rams breast-milk down everyone’s throat, or b) a sociopath. This is not the case.

    I hope you noticed that I didn’t describe “Type 2” Christians (that’s just a temporary term I came up with) as “caring”. I described them as “condescending”. There’s a vast difference; condescending people do not empathise. In fact, condescension is a primary behaviour of abusive people. Though I try to be careful with that, because condescension is also a result of simple immaturity, and with “Type 2 Christians” it means that they kid themselves into thinking that the few simplistic answers they’ve learned will solve everybody’s problems. Cf Abraham Kaplan’s comment that “if you give a small boy a hammer, it will soon seem to him that everything needs pounding”.

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  184. Beakerj: Yeah isn’t it shocking that such a huge church organisation doesn’t do any better than a secular organisation?

    No; it’s exactly what you’d expect. In fact, I’d be surprised if it did. We may be of a similar mind here…

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  185. Mercy: There is no help for the church. These places are not of God. The true church is alive and well but not located in these walls. I believe that God is leading his people out from among this idolatrous, man made system.

    Yep.

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  186. Nick Bulbeck: The false antithesis here is that everyone is either a) a smothering mother who rams breast-milk down everyone’s throat

    An attitude problem you have related as being common in today’s Church of England.

    Cf Abraham Kaplan’s comment that “if you give a small boy a hammer, it will soon seem to him that everything needs pounding”.

    Don’t forget the American Army corollary to that:
    “If at first you don’t succeed, GET A BIGGER HAMMER.”

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  187. Lea: True. When estimating in this particular example, you have to pay attention to the fact that if you are within the ballpark and *over* you are good. If you are within the ballpark and *under* you are not. That’s why actual math is helpful.

    And why after doing the rounded-off estimate in the example, you should always add 5-10% or round high.

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  188. Beth74: Why is it JUST “Mark A” on this page??

    The names are related to their email addresses, i.e. FirstName + LastName + “@url.com”. This could be as simple as him wanting an easy to use email address or as nefarious as trying to stay below the radar in case people are searching his name (which we are).

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  189. Headless Unicorn Guy: An attitude problem you have related as being common in today’s Church of England.

    Correction – the UK church generally. The Church of England per se isn’t the source of this by any means; actually, although the CofE often looks a bit fragile, it’s very diverse and I admire it for that much.

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  190. I suppose it would seem a bit far out to suggest that this was all part of Satan’s plan, beginning with Constantine co-opting the young body and turning corralling the body of Christ into this organization called ‘Christianity’?

    By filling this organization with wolves and false shepherds from the start, it was only a matter of time until it self-destructed, giving the body of Christ – and God – a bad name.

    In any case, I haven’t much respect for the Institutional Church, but a great love for God and people, including the many, many individuals who cannot even imagine what being a child of God could look like without the structure of the Institutional Church. It would leave a lot of confused, frightened and weary believers as easy prey if the rug is pulled out from under ‘Christianity’.

    I am praying for the many who have been deceived into ‘playing Church’ and have never known a genuine, intimate relationship with the God who created, loves and desires to dwell with us. It seems to me that a very major mission field might open up if all that has been known as ‘Christian’ proves to have been corrupt and abusive all along.

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  191. truthseeker00,

    Outstanding comment, IMHO! Won’t copy – I’d have to copy it entirely.

    When Gentiles or Evangelicals, whatever denomination, pridefully credit themselves with greater righteousness than the Jewish leaders Jesus railed against, well, pride goes before a fall. Major fall, at that.

    OT Israel was given the Torah. But then the OT religious establishment went and created the Talmud, endless rabbinic teachings to enhance what God had already accomplished.

    Every reprimand of Jesus against the Jewish religious leaders of his time holds true against the Evangelical leaders of today, from fundy SBC to edgy Seeker types. The entire leadership spectrum. With a few standouts that get it right.

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  192. truthseeker00: It seems to me that a very major mission field might open up if all that has been known as ‘Christian’ proves to have been corrupt and abusive all along.

    If all has been as you say, then there is no hope of discovering the real Christianity because everything we can know about it comes from corrupt sources. I have a hard time believing that the entire organizational church is actually this corrupt. It is certainly a mess, but I think “all” is too strong of a word.

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  193. truthseeker00: all that has been known as ‘Christian’ proves to have been corrupt and abusive all along.

    Ken F (above) has a point.

    What we see, in big loud tyoe, is what has been headlined on stages in our times, the fundy stage and the Seeker stage. Not much difference when it comes to the bloated egos strutting about. Then there is the “standing ovation” crowd that admires the shallow fake leaders – the shallow crowd that latches on to their kind up front.

    However, due to God’s invention of the Internet, there are still lots of little people who have not bowed down to Baal, out there in the hinterlands, connecting in fellowship with each. God is amazing. Nothing stands in His way.

    Two ladies started this blog a decade ago by sheer faith and God’s guidance. It’s not a stage parade here, but authentic folks are connecting, for example.

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  194. Mercy: Jessica, i walked away from organized church. The last one was an SBC church. I knew that my faith was not in the church but in Jesus. Since leaving my relationship with Jesus is stronger. As i look back upon my decades in organized church I honestly miss aspects of corporate worship but I am no longer looking to plug in anywhere. It’s just not worth it for me.
    I am beyond angry at the stories that are coming to our attention. There is no help for the church. These places are not of God. The true church is alive and well but not located in these walls. I believe that God is leading his people out from among this idolatrous, man made system.

    but then what about the verse about not forsaking the assembling together? I left for a week (a week ago) and then decided that my family as well as myself need a prayer covering of a church more than I need to leave the church. Could it be satan is trying to destroy the church as well? I’m really curious…I seriously have had about all I can take. the flashbacks and memories i have had since this recent situation at the church i attend have just about done me in. I am sure of one thing, that satan would love to destroy completely the church i attend right now, and that that has probably been a mission for a long time. i’m sure satan would also love to destroy the church period.

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  195. Religious systems are prone to corruption. The boss was pretty clear about that when he came through here and showed us a better way to do things. You’d think if he wanted to replace his old religious system with a new one, he would’ve said something about it. Or at least come down here for the Evernote instead of the oral traditions.

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  196. Whether Mark A is the subject or not, I did come across some interesting SBC-related items while doing searches and archiving some of the existing info before it disappears.

    Here’s the latest “Book of Reports” for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, for which Mark A addressed the meeting in the ‘Priorities’ section as the organization’s Associate Executive Director / Chief Strategist. (Under the Executive Board Ministry budget listing, the Ministry Priotiries – Chief Strategist position was allocated $258,650 and $286,111 in 2018 — with no breakouts, subsections, or details listed. This can be found on p. 47; also note the Prayer Strategist figures.)

    http://www.scbaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2017-book-of-reports.pdf

    Scroll on down to page 57 to take a look at one of Mark A’s enunciated priorities: ADVANCE. There is also a dedicated website page for SCBC ADVANCE:

    http://www.scbcadvance.org/

    In examining the genesis of Advance (which I don’t think correlates to the parachurch denomination-like group that TWW unveiled had a relationship with Covenant Life Church personnel), I saw some interesting SBC articles on what was called Great Commission Advance.

    http://www.sbclife.net/mobile/Wrapper?ref=http://www.sbclife.net/articles/2013/03/sla2.asp

    The article about this Great Commission Advance is tied from the start to promoting Cooperative Program giving, which not only goes to fund overseas work (and the IMB bureaucracy supporting it) but the NAMB (with church planting and the increasingly interesting re-planting concept) but the state orgs for which Mark A works and the seminaries which are in quite a spotlight here. The recently resigned Frank Page, began his report by showing a Cooperative Program promotion video produced by the Missouri Baptist Convention titled “From You to Eternity,” illustrating how a tithing Southern Baptist impacts the world. (Also note the Calvinist/non-Calvinist discussion — which I didn’t realize was addressed in an advisory council report, per the article.)

    The next article is prior to the 2014 SBC convention:
    http://www.sbclife.net/mobile/Wrapper?ref=http://www.sbclife.net/articles/2014/06/sla2.asp

    Per C. Ashley Clayton, EC vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship, “One of the primary objectives of Great Commission Advance is to address the decline in Cooperative Program giving over the past two decades, Clayton said. In 1982, churches were giving an average of 10.7 percent of their undesignated receipts to cooperative missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program. That number has dropped to 5.4 percent, declining by an average of about 0.2 percent each year.”

    Retirement homes for the Pattersons don’t pay for themselves… In the articles, ideas for expanding the tent (Baptist Asians in that timeframe, Baptist blacks currently) as well as calls for “working toward unity on Calivinism” strike me as part of the same priority of expanding the revenue base.

    Back to the SCBC, I note that its Prayer Strategist Ministry — which also doesn’t have a breakout or details — had been budgeted $264,350 for 2017 to $125,000. Coincidentally, a new Prayer Strategist came on board in September 2017, with a retirement of someone from Prayer and Partnerships on March 31, 2017, and a reassignment of someone from there to the Executive Office. Color me wearied with all of these pushes to ADVANCE and financially cooperate — all connected with funding the Great Commission — when what so often seems to be the main priority is funding the bureaucracies and brick-and-mortar enterprises.

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  197. ishy: Whoever posted about their activities being “liberal” earlier (I think it was jyjames), I thought if the public started calling them liberal over acts like this, they might actually get offended enough to do something. Probably work better than using the Bible…

    I think that is very accurate. Being called “liberal” is a greater offense to these people than anything else.

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  198. Abigail: It just hit me. These pastors don’t care when a woman or girl tells them about abuse. They don’t care what the Creator of the universe says in the book He wrote that they claim to believe in and teach. They only care when the secular media gets wind of what they covered up and starts to expose them.

    This is very true.

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  199. Beakerj: senecagriggs,
    Yeah isn’t it shocking that such a huge church organisation doesn’t do any better than a secular organisation? I’m sure that was your point here.

    From what I recall from visiting his “I hate TWW blog” many months ago and skimming over some of his posts there, he thinks Deb and Dee are hypocritical for pointing out sexual assaults within the church but not featuring the secular stories of sexual assaults in the news… or he thinks Deb and Dee should be equally tough on secular organizations who protect kid-diddlers… or something.

    I even remember when Lydia was posting here more often, she made a similar point a time or two that it was wrong for any of us here to …
    Well, she was making a point that secular places are sometimes horrible about dealing with sex scandals (includin family courts and secular universities, etc), so nobody should expect churches to do any better (or something).

    I honestly don’t get why folks like this think it’s wrong for anyone, Christian or no, to expect HIGHER standards in handling sex abuse scandals than secular places/ people.

    Even the Bible in the NT teaches the God holds self professing Christians to higher standards than the no-believers.

    Why is it viewed as “unreasonable,” “hypocritical,” “mean” or “unfair” to hold Christians to higher standards, or to feel more out-raged about believers and churches covering up abuse than when secular people and places do so? I don’t understand the upset.

    The Bible says in the NT that if a person claims to be a brother in Christ but is living in unrepentant sin (like you know, sexually abusing kids or covering it up, *cough, cough*) ‘with such a man do not even eat.’
    -But it’s “mean” for anyone on this blog to expect more from Christians than secular culture? Say what?

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  200. Nick Bulbeck,

    Nick Bulbeck: Type 2: the condescendingly judgemental, who assume I’m an infant who’s been “hurt” and my actions are motivated by the fear of being “hurt” again

    I’ve run into those types of Christians, and sometimes they get me wrong on that one.

    But may I offer you yet another variety who can be equally bad or horrible, or this is an off-shoot of that person you are describing…

    There have been times in life when some of my opinions or conclusions on a specific subject or another have in fact been shaped and formed by my personal experience and from having been hurt.

    But that does not mean that my opinions are invalid or stupid on whatever that particular subject is.

    Anyway, along comes “Mr. (or Ms.) Hyper Logical Rational Spock Christian,” to lecture you on how wrong it is for you to feel and believe as you do, that emotions don’t matter, your hurt feelings are nothing, you should operate only on rationality alone.

    If you’ve been hurt emotionally (or in some other way) via a doctrine, by another Christian, or some life circumstance, and you’ve allowed that hurt to color how you view a certain topic, then, they believe, you’re a weak, whiny cry-baby who should shut up about it and just get on with life, and your opinion is invalid.

    I’m not sure how to explain this type of Christian to you, but I’ve run into them before, especially on the internet. They are very negating of your feelings. I guess they think everyone should be, think, and act like robots.

    With this type of person, you are not allowed to have opinions on a topic unless your opinions are devoid of any and all emotion or personal experience with said topic.

    You must be absolutely dis-passionate and clinical and detached when discussing whatever the topic is, or the person will just brush off your concerns as being irrelevant or as unworthy of being taken seriously.

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  201. Daisy: Why is it viewed as “unreasonable,” “hypocritical,” “mean” or “unfair” to hold Christians to higher standards, or to feel more out-raged about believers and churches covering up abuse than when secular people and places do so? I don’t understand the upset.

    Back in the day, church leaders were held to a high moral standard regarding sex and money, anyway. Today, not so much. Celebrity and $tanding on $tage trump$ moral standing.

    In the churches we’ve belonged to it started with the big donor$ – they could get away with anything “legal” – with the exception of beating their wives. Illegal but the church took the side of the husband in that case.

    Then the head of the church board took a mistress side chick, so lay people were free to do whatever, as long as they tithed, kind of like purchasing indulgences. Finally, the pastors themselves now step out of line, and it’s forgive & forget.

    Slippery slope. So what’s the point of “church”?

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  202. Anonymous Grandma: Adding to this, some abusers are good at sugar-coating the abuse through things like gifts, affirmation, and making the victim feel special.

    Any apparent kindness or affection from the abuser prevents the victim, especially a very young victim, from recognizing the abuse for what it really is.

    It takes a long time, sometimes years or decades, to understand that the the grooming and manipulation were part and parcel of the abuse, instead of mitigating factors for the abuser.

    That’s also rather true of other types of abuse.

    One thing that kept me sucked into a verbally abusive relationship with my sister for so long (she was the abuser) is that I did not recognize her behavior as being abuse. For one, I was brought up to think that being verbally berated and shamed was normal.

    But I also learned that one thing that keeps victims trapped into an abusive relationship is that the abuser has their nice moments.

    Whether it’s a pervert grooming a child target, or a verbally abusive sister, or an abusive husband – sometimes these abusive people can be kind to their target, give him or her gifts, do thoughtful gestures for them, and so on.

    My sister is sometimes nice to me – rarely. But she’s not mean and horrible 100% of the time, which is one of the things that kept me blind to her verbal abuse for years and years.

    If your abuser was mean and heartless constantly, you’d probably realize right away that he or she is an abuser. But when they off-set the abuse with a few days of kind gestures here or there, it’s harder to spot that you’re dealing with an abuser.

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  203. Beth74,

    It was at first. But i had never been afraid of changing course. I was able to think and discern that some things I was being told didn’t add up. I was just done. As i mentioned, I do mss some aspects of corporate worship. But I still have Jesus. I now understand that God isn’t in man made institutions.

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  204. Daisy,

    That is a misunderstanding of my position. In context, here, it is often declared the secular world gets it right so why can’t the church. I disagree and think they are quite alike, foundationally, in many ways. I won’t go into why, again, but leave it there. Just as in the secular world, I think insurance is in the process of changing that for churches, too.

    I am absolutely for higher standards for Christians and their churches. But being for something doesn’t make it so, sadly.

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  205. Mercy,

    Mercy:
    Beth74,

    It was at first. But i had never been afraid of changing course. I was able to think and discern that some things I was being told didn’t add up. I was just done. As i mentioned, I do mss some aspects of corporate worship. But I still have Jesus. I now understand that God isn’t in man made institutions.

    Mercy,

    Heather,

    Sorry, i replied to the wrong post..

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  206. Jessica,

    I can SO relate. We attend a small SBC church and I’ve thought about saying something at the yearly business meeting. But I’m afraid I’ll be met with fluoride stares and ultimately what difference will our measly $40k to the CP make. That’s probably 1/4 of russel Moore’s salary. I struggle so much with giving when I see what and who are being funded. $40k could fund her treatment almost twice!! I wish smaller churches could organize and maybe make a difference. I’m afraid it will be met with apathy tho. I’m starting to think apathy is really an overlooked problem that’s contributed to the current problems.

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  207. Hello friends, I have been away awhile.

    Do you ever wonder if the accusations of sexual abuse aren’t taken seriously by those in high positions because they have all done/are doing similar things themselves?

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  208. Lydia,

    The “church” IS a business. The “church” is not the church. “Going to church” is like going to the mall. Church comes from the Bible. There’s virtually no point of contact between “church” as we see it on Sunday and the Bible. In fact, most of what we see is outright condemned by the Bible.

    Ct,
    As far as not “forsaking assembling together”, to the mall. You’re just as likely to bump in to Christians there as you are at FBCanycityUSA.

    So, to all you pastors calling your business “church” and using “don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together” to manipulate your customers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

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  209. Forgive me if I ‘get real’ here a bit.

    I don’t know about the whole world of churches, but it looks to me that the churches are doing better than the ‘secular’ world as a whole. This talk of the churches are ‘no better’ or ‘even worse’ may be just hyperbole I am thinking.

    Does your church have to patrol the restrooms because of sex and weed opportunities in the potty? RE’s school does have to patrol the potties. And the hallways. And the parking lots. Does your church have rules that people must not mention any/any sexual perversion as being wrong/sicko lest you all offend somebody about their favorite sins? Does your church have sensitivity training about how one must repent of having higher standards than ‘the world’ or repent because your religion looks down on child marriage and ‘personal boys’ for grown men, because the almighty god of cultural sensitivity/ religious liberties must not be offended? Does your church have anything at all that deals with the rampant blankety-blank that my son the career prosecutor and his myriad of co-workers deal with routinely? Does your church dread Friday and Saturday nights because that is when the extra meetings of the knife-and-gun club meet and you know they are going to be coming in in their never ending fascinations with sutures and transfusions?

    Let us not malign the church excessively. Yes, the churches need to do better. But worse than ‘the secular world'(?)–not by a long shot.

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  210. Nick Bulbeck,

    I love and agree with your types of Christians, Nick.

    In my opinion, all institutional religion is corrupt. I believe the religion called “Christianity” replaced the Way which is simply to live as Yeshua did. And I believe His people are seeing it and are being called out of it like never before.

    Love you bro.

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  211. Siteseer:
    Hello friends, I have been away awhile.

    Do you ever wonder if the accusations of sexual abuse aren’t taken seriously by those in high positions because they have all done/are doing similar things themselves?

    I think they just love money more than God’s people. Churches are for-profit businesses.

    As a relevant tangent: the Greek word hypocrite did not have a negative connotation, it literally meant: “one who wears a mask and acts on a stage for the amusement of a passive audience.” It was their word for an actor.

    If that’s what the church has become, it doesn’t deserve the name “church” anymore.

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  212. hoodaticus: In my opinion, all institutional religion is corrupt.

    It always has and always will be – even the non-institutional forms. I think this is what the parable of the wheat and the tares is all about. We are looking for a tare-free church that does not exist. And if we tried to make one it would grow tares as well. I don’t know why God set it up this way, but I am thinking that the process of navigating the tares is somehow part of the process. It does not mean we need to eat them, and it also does not mean we must reject the real wheat because of the tares. Jesus promised that he would guide his church, so we have to take that into account. Did he lie? I would personally do it differently than he did, but that is not my choice. I think my choice is to do my best to not be a tare and to look for a way to plug into fellowship that does not reward the tares. I wish it was easier.

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  213. __

    “The Truth Will Set You Free?”

    hmmm…

    501c3 pastoral [wolves] don’t protect anything. The best way to expose the false lies of these pastoral wolf is to know the truth of the One voice who matters most.

    Learn to sēē?

    Saturate yourself with Jesus’ words, and you’ll know what is false.

    Religious wolves [pretend] to love God with all, follow Jesus, and seek to love their neighbor as themselves. You will know them by their fruits, and avoid them.

    Jesus’ church is kind folk loving loving God and serving Jesus daily, and are exemplary towards their neighbors, gathering together to fruitful and spiritually profitable fellowship in His name. Any other purpose(s) are false.

    No 501c3 building or establishment powered by electricity is necessarily required.

    Jesus said, “Come unto me all of you that are heavy-laden, and I shall give you rest”.

    I think He meant it…

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uzveq8-H8Go

    ;~)

    – –

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  214. Siteseer: Do you ever wonder if the accusations of sexual abuse aren’t taken seriously by those in high positions because they have all done/are doing similar things themselves?

    No. I do not think they have all done or are doing similar things. Some may be, but ‘all’ is way too inclusive to be anywhere near accuracy. However, I do think that they may well be more aware of where our culture stands on these issues, and may be privy to the personal lives of a chunk of the pew persons, and may understand that some things are ‘better not said’ if they want to keep their jobs because you-know-who who is a powerhouse in the congregation is up to his eyebrows in thus or such.

    I mean, heck, if the rest of us know or have our suspicions about what multiple kinds of mess go on then why would the clergy not know? Are they that isolated? Have they had a surgical transplant of the their heads onto a different area of their anatomy? I have been tempted to think so from time to time, but in all fairness they probably are more savvy than they may appear. I mean, if the rest of us ‘get the message’ quickly enough on the job surely the clergy are not demented about these things.

    In other words, they probably know which side their bread is buttered on. (Grammarians need to overlook it-just move on.)

    But then, in all fairness, if they rant and rail against evil they will be labeled ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘fundagelical’ or ‘fanatic’ or else ‘probably doing it themselves’ and who needs that?

    If churches are in trouble then everybody needs to start with their own repentance. Sure some of the clergy need to clean up their act. The music department needs to clean up its act. (I used to sing in ‘the choir’ and I played an instrument, so I had a little look at ‘the choir’ even back when.) Cleaning up the music department would be a really good idea while we are into reform of the church.) And the pew persons need to do whatever up to and including taking their children and their spouses and their money and hitting the bricks. To stay and tolerate and continue to throw money in the plate is to enable. But any idea that all the blame falls on the clergy? I just don’t see it that way.

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  215. okrapod: If churches are in trouble then everybody needs to start with their own repentance.

    Amen! A genuine corporate revival in the church and spiritual awakening in America will be built on nothing less than the cries of personal repentance … one heart at a time.

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  216. Steve: Thought you had to have a “worship leader.”

    It quite depends on what one bows down to when one hears the music…Daniel 3:15. Some times people may be bowing down to idols.

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  217. Have you all noticed what the catholic bishops in chile have done in response to vatican investigation of that situation regarding abuse? About time. We better get with it before the catholics clean up their act better than we do. Only without our having bishops who administratively messed up then cleaning up the act for us means everybody-all of us. If the authority lies with all then the repentance must be from all.

    Now, every head bowed and every eye closed while the choir hums softly…Okay, I am jaded. Sorry about that.

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  218. Nick Bulbeck: There’s a vast difference; condescending people do not empathise.

    Interesting point. The type of behavior you described is mostly dismissive in my experience. I can’t listen to you because you might have pain. The truth is that many people have pain, that is born of experience, and we should listen to those with experience because they probably know things we don’t. And many others have empathy precisely because they *did* listen.

    There are also those who believe it’s impossible to marry logic and emotion.

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  219. Nick Bulbeck: Though I try to be careful with that, because condescension is also a result of simple immaturity, and with “Type 2 Christians” it means that they kid themselves into thinking that the few simplistic answers they’ve learned will solve everybody’s problems.

    I do try to make a distinction between people who are simply lacking knowledge, with the simplistic answers that go with that, and people who are lacking care. Sometimes it takes time to sort them into the proper categories.

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  220. Alarming side story: Mark A’s youth pastor explained to Amy Smith that Mark’s exit from Twitter was due to some Paige Patterson related comments that were made when he posted about Matthew 18. This pastor HAS to know the truth about what is being discussed and is knowingly lying and covering for Mark A, thus making himself part of the problem.

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  221. Daisy,

    As far as the problems handling abusers in church and out, I think it can be useful to look at where things are the same – some problems are in the culture at large. Some are specific to the church. If we want to fix a problem it helps to understand it.

    But as for this blog, I see it as a matter of scope. It is focused on church.

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  222. Siteseer:
    Do you ever wonder if the accusations of sexual abuse aren’t taken seriously by those in high positions because they have all done/are doing similar things themselves?

    I am afraid this is the answer in many cases.

    I have also grown very suspicious of all the ‘my friend was falsely accused’ stories. Were they falsely accused, or did you just *believe* them, and not the victim? Whichever it is, this is what I hear from men. When research says false accusations are quite low. I think that contributes to those aren’t doing similar things – they believe their friends so they think it’s all lies.

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  223. Daisy: There have been times in life when some of my opinions or conclusions on a specific subject or another have in fact been shaped and formed by my personal experience and from having been hurt.
    But that does not mean that my opinions are invalid or stupid on whatever that particular subject is.

    This is a good point (I picked the above snippet as a representative sample rather than quote your entire comment). I have met this kind of person, and I think that more often than not, your being emotional is a convenient distraction for them because they don’t really want to face up to the issue you’re raising.

    Couple of observations on people who’ve been hurt and refuse to get over it as though it had never happened, but remain shaped by that experience.
     Jesus still having visible nail-marks when he appeared to the disciples after his resurrection – so much so that Thomas could even put his finger in them. Why did Jesus have to wallow in his past hurts?
     Jesus again – as the Lamb in the book of Revelation – standing “as if slain” before the throne. Yet more wallowing in his past hurts. And all the angelic host were just as bad – You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain… BLAH… blah BLAH… blah BLAH.

    What’s the matter with everybody in heaven?

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  224. Siteseer: Do you ever wonder if the accusations of sexual abuse aren’t taken seriously by those in high positions because they have all done/are doing similar things themselves?

    Yes!!!

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  225. How much evidence is needed to show that a large part of Christian hierarchy does not believe sexual abuse of children should be a crime?

    If sexual abuse happens the child or woman must take full blame for it.

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  226. Cdg:
    Jessica,

    I can SO relate. We attend a small SBC church and I’ve thought about saying something at the yearly business meeting. But I’m afraid I’ll be met with fluoride stares and ultimately what difference will our measly $40k to the CP make. That’s probably 1/4 of russel Moore’s salary. I struggle so much with giving when I see what and who are being funded. $40k could fund her treatment almost twice!! I wish smaller churches could organize and maybe make a difference. I’m afraid it will be met with apathy tho. I’m starting to think apathy is really an overlooked problem that’s contributed to the current problems.

    My husband and I had a conversation about our giving last night. Like you, I’m not comfortable giving to the SBC machine. I understand that the portion of what we give that goes to such is pennies, but it matters to me.

    I understand that most people in my church are not aware of the larger picture, and if they were I’m not sure it would matter…not because they are callous, but because our church is so involved in the local community that is where their focus is. I don’t work that way, the larger picture matters to me, and I can’t, in good conscience, support that crap…and, I won’t.

    I think we’ve so missed the mark in the American church, the SBC leading the way.

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  227. Nick Bulbeck,

    Obviously Jesus needs to see a counselor, and the angelic hosts are enablers. And yet worse are those over the centuries now recognized as martyrs or, you should pardon the expression, ‘saints’, and not to forget Paul who made sure to record his persecutions lest the future forget his sufferings I suppose.

    I am not saying that abuse make one a martyr, or that recovery is a bad thing; only saying that the issue is complicated. Suffering for doing good/well is a different picture from suffering for one’s own evil choices. I think there is a ‘verse’ for that.

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  228. Lea: Nick Bulbeck: There’s a vast difference; condescending people do not empathise.
    Interesting point. The type of behavior you described is mostly dismissive in my experience. I can’t listen to you because you might have pain.

    And your pain cooties might rub off on ME.

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  229. Siteseer: Do you ever wonder if the accusations of sexual abuse aren’t taken seriously by those in high positions because they have all done/are doing similar things themselves?

    I don’t “wonder”.
    I’M CERTAIN OF IT.

    We’ve seen in this and other watchblogs that sexual predation has become a Privilege of Pastoral Rank.
    “Touch Not Mine Anointed” and all that.

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  230. Daisy: Well, she was making a point that secular places are sometimes horrible about dealing with sex scandals (includin family courts and secular universities, etc), so nobody should expect churches to do any better (or something).

    Translation: “BUT EVERYBODY’S DOING IT!”

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  231. Ken F (aka Tweed): If all has been as you say, then there is no hope of discovering the real Christianity because everything we can know about it comes from corrupt sources.

    At that point, all that’s left is to climb into your Conspiracy Theory box (which has room for only one) and close and seal the lid behind you.

    Like the endings of both Bob Dylan’s “Talking John Birch Society Blues” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”.

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  232. Lydia: That is a misunderstanding of my position. In context, here, it is often declared the secular world gets it right so why can’t the church. I disagree and think they are quite alike, foundationally, in many ways. I won’t go into why, again, but leave it there. Just as in the secular world, I think insurance is in the process of changing that for churches, too.
    I am absolutely for higher standards for Christians and their churches. But being for something doesn’t make it so, sadly.

    Okay. Thank you for clarifying your position.

    I will say that my impression of Seneca Griggs – from having visited his blog months ago – is that he gets angry when people criticize Christians or churches. He seems to feel that all churches, pastors, should be above criticism.

    I don’t understand that mindset, especially when the Bible tells Christians (1 Cor 5) to actually judge and criticize other people who say they are Christians, use discernment.

    The Bible does not tell Christians to ignore the behavior of other Christians and only condemn sin in the secular world.

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  233. Lydia:
    Daisy,

    That is a misunderstanding of my position. In context, here, it is often declared the secular world gets it right so why can’t the church. I disagree and think they are quite alike, foundationally, in many ways. I won’t go into why, again, but leave it there. Just as in the secular world, I think insurance is in the process of changing that for churches, too.

    I am absolutely for higher standards for Christians and their churches. But being for something doesn’t make it so, sadly.

    One other thing I did want to add on this is that I tend to fall into the camp that thinks the secular world gets this stuff more right more often than most Christians and churches.

    There are certainly examples of secular people covering up abuse and and mishandling it, that is true.

    However, it seems to me that most of the time that the secular world – some of them – are more quick to point out what is wrong, while most Christians are vested in defending their church, Jesus, Christianity and playing CYA and word games to minimize abuse.

    A lot of Christians want to live in denial about abuse, but I don’t see most of the secular world being as bad about it.

    Also, once the abuse is made public, secular types usually understand and realize the need to call the police in and hold the abuser accountable-

    Where-as your average church in the U.S.A. usually tells the victim, “let us handle it,” which translates to, they will never call the police, and justice will never be done.

    The secular world sometimes drops the ball on some abuse, but in my impression of how the world works, they generally get things right more often than most of the churches we discuss on this site.

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  234. Romans 1 describes a dynamic in which suppression of truth and worship of created things rather than of God leads to darkened understanding, degraded behavior and bad visible-world “under the sun” consequences.

    I find it intriguing that Paul introduces this section of his letter thusly (NIV):

    “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,”

    I wonder whether it may be the case that many evangelicals and fundamentalists are so pre-occupied with worries about escaping post-mortem wrath of God that they discount pre-mortem wrath. And perhaps, confident that through faith in Christ’s substitutionary atonement, they are safe from post-mortem wrath, they also reckon that the Romans 1 kind of wrath will never overtake them.

    In which case, it may be that Romans 3:18 also applies: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

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  235. Steve: As far as not “forsaking assembling together”, to the mall. You’re just as likely to bump in to Christians there as you are at FBCanycityUSA.

    Plus your average American mall is going to have Cinnabon. 🙂

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  236. Steve,

    Your comment reminds me, and,
    Going along with some of my recent remarks to Lydia above.

    Most Churches are inept at a large number of different issues, which is another thing that makes it staggering to me, and which makes secular folks look better by comparison.

    So many American churches and Christians not only mishandle and bungle child sex abuse in their churches, but, they are incompetent at dealing with husbands who abuse their wives, giving bad advice to people who have depression, anxiety, preachers like Driscoll who use tithes to buy space on the NY Times best-seller list, etc.

    They’re just inept across a whole host of diverse issues.

    I don’t think today’s churches excel at much of anything, other than using people and taking their money so the preacher can buy a new BMW or mansion.

    (Though I am aware of one or two churches who are actually doing good in their communities, like the one my father attends. His church gives free food, medical care, clothing to poor folks, they donate funds, time, care, food, to a DV shelter, etc.)

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  237. Lea: Interesting point. The type of behavior you described is mostly dismissive in my experience. I can’t listen to you because you might have pain. The truth is that many people have pain, that is born of experience, and we should listen to those with experience because they probably know things we don’t. And many others have empathy precisely because they *did* listen.
    There are also those who believe it’s impossible to marry logic and emotion.

    I’ve seen this happen before.

    And this, a million times over:
    “There are also those who believe it’s impossible to marry logic and emotion”

    The two are not mutually exclusive, but I keep running into people who don’t see it that way.

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  238. Lea: As far as the problems handling abusers in church and out, I think it can be useful to look at where things are the same – some problems are in the culture at large. Some are specific to the church. If we want to fix a problem it helps to understand it.
    But as for this blog, I see it as a matter of scope. It is focused on church.

    That is true.

    I’ve even said more than once I see similarities between abuse in churches and in books and personal experiences about work place abuse, kid on kid abuse in schools, domestic violence, etc. The dynamics are similar.

    It just seems to me that church people usualy want to keep things “in house” while a lot of secular people will eventually get around to being whistle blowers or calling police.

    Secularists also don’t hamper things by misquoting Bible verses at victims, guilting victims into staying silent and insisting they forgive their abusers, etc. Secularists aren’t trying to defend the reputations of God and Jesus.

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  239. Nick Bulbeck: I have met this kind of person, and I think that more often than not, your being emotional is a convenient distraction for them because they don’t really want to face up to the issue you’re raising.

    I do think that is one possible reason, yes.

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  240. Daisy,

    I think they read The Sermon on the Mount wrong. 🙂 It seems like they believe Jesus was telling the Jews it’s perfectly okay to go around slapping one another and they have to continually turn the other cheek. Whereas I believe Jesus was instructing them on how to live within an Pagan occupied society.

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  241. Siteseer: Do you ever wonder if the accusations of sexual abuse aren’t taken seriously by those in high positions because they have all done/are doing similar things themselves?

    I think I did a blog post on my Daisy blog months ago raising this very point.

    In all my reading of Harvey Weinstein’s vulgar shenanigans and reading about the “Me Too” movement, I came across an article or two where psychiatrists and so on were interviewed, and it relates a bit to your point, I think.

    Some of the mental health professionals interviewed in the articles I read have years of experience of counseling sexually abusive men.

    One of two of the experts interviewed in the articles said that one reason why some men sexually abuse and harass women is that they believe that all, or most, other men also sexually abuse and harass women, or they assume that all men WANT to do so.

    So, in their mind, they are justified for doing what they do, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s “normal.”

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  242. Daisy: One of two of the experts interviewed in the articles said that one reason why some men sexually abuse and harass women is that they believe that all, or most, other men also sexually abuse and harass women, or they assume that all men WANT to do so.

    I would see at as a flip of that…they WANT to do these things, so they assume everyone else does.

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  243. Headless Unicorn Guy: And your pain cooties might rub off on ME.

    There is truth in that, but I remember after my mother passed, and I was badly needing to talk and cry it out with friends, family (most of whom are Christian – and retired, they sit about all day), they couldn’t be bothered.

    They did not want to take time out of their day to be there for me.

    Some let me know out-right, up-front the moment I called and they picked up, that they wanted to get off with the phone with me, because their favorite show was about to come on.

    In one case when this happened, I kid you not, the relative’s show was going to be on two hours later (I called her at 7 P.M., her show was going to start at 9 P.M., and we live in the same time zone).

    I think for some Christians it comes down to laziness.

    They do not want to invest the time or work in granting emotional support to a hurting person who needs them. They have better things to do, don’t you know, like watch T.V. or play Farmville on Facebook.

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  244. Headless Unicorn Guy: I don’t “wonder”.
    I’M CERTAIN OF IT.
    We’ve seen in this and other watchblogs that sexual predation has become a Privilege of Pastoral Rank.
    “Touch Not Mine Anointed” and all that.

    To jump off your point, please see that video documentary on You Tube or Vimeo about how disgraced pastor Ted Haggard had to sell vaccuums door to door, could barely pay his bills after he was kicked out of the pulpit for whatever he did (drugs or extra marital diddling I forget).

    Well, someone on another blog was saying that Haggard video scared the soup out of other preachers.

    They realize if they get the boot and have to get a secular job, they’re not going to make it. Their livelihood is at stake.

    So every time one of them gets caught in adultery or whatever, the other pastors circle the wagons around that pastor, because they’re afraid they could be next.

    They’re all afraid of their wrong doing being made public, because they cannot or do not want a “real” job. They don’t want to pull a Haggard and be reduced to selling aluminum siding door to door.

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  245. (off topic)
    In the past hour or two, the news broke that 8 – 10 students and/or adults have been shot and killed at a high school in Texas.

    NEWS LIVE: 9 killed in Santa Fe High School shooting, NBC News says
    Possible explosive devices found at school, home

    “Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said a majority of those that were killed in the shooting were students. He said that the two people who were taken into custody, including the person believed to be the gunman, are students at the school.”

    https://www.click2houston.com/news/police-confirm-reports-of-active-shooter-at-santa-fe-high-school

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  246. Samuel Conner,

    As a general observation (my opinion) of the fundagelical mindset, Romans 1 is confined almost exclusively to sexual mores, no wiggle room, no dissent.

    All else however, can be negotiated to one degree or another.

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  247. Daisy:

    So, in their mind, they are justified for doing what they do, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s “normal.”

    They want to. Because they want to, they reason that probably most everyone else does too. That makes it “normal” in their mind and they then project that as being “normal” for everyone.

    Justification by delusion.

    How they get around that this is an OK way for them to behave as a Christian is still completely baffling. I guess the bit about the ocean and a millstone around the neck has no meaning for them.

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  248. afterburne: How they get around that this is an OK way for them to behave as a Christian is still completely baffling. I guess the bit about the ocean and a millstone around the neck has no meaning for them.

    They either said the Majik Words at the Altar Call with the Eternal Security clause or they’re the Predestined Elect; either way, they’ve got their Get Out of Hell Free ticket already punched.

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  249. Jerome: (Google web cache from yesterday, the webpage has ‘disappeared’ in the last 24 hours)

    Not “disappeared”, Comrades.
    As of now, IT NEVER EXISTED.

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  250. Daisy: To jump off your point, please see that video documentary on You Tube or Vimeo about how disgraced pastor Ted Haggard had to sell vaccuums door to door, could barely pay his bills after he was kicked out of the pulpit for whatever he did (drugs or extra marital diddling I forget).

    I thought Haggard was able to Plant His Own New Church and made a comeback that way.
    (Or am I thinking Jimmy Swaggart?)

    P.S. It was BOTH “drugs and extra marital diddling”. With a Homosexual angle — Haggard got caught doing Meth with a MALE prostitute/rentboy.

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  251. Daisy: Some let me know out-right, up-front the moment I called and they picked up, that they wanted to get off with the phone with me, because their favorite show was about to come on.

    “Ah’d like to help ya, Martha, BUT HEE-HAW‘s ON!”
    — line from a story I heard once about “the Hee Haw Homicide”

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  252. Lea: I would see at as a flip of that…they WANT to do these things, so they assume everyone else does.

    Like R.C.Sproul Jr (AKA “Precious”) holding keggers where he pushed alcohol on minors.
    “SEE? EVERYBODY’S DOING IT! SEE? SEE? SEE?”

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  253. Daisy:

    There have been times in life when some of my opinions or conclusions on a specific subject or another have in fact been shaped and formed by my personal experience and from having been hurt.

    But that does not mean that my opinions are invalid or stupid on whatever that particular subject is.

    Anyway, along comes “Mr. (or Ms.) Hyper Logical Rational Spock Christian,” to lecture you on how wrong it is for you to feel and believe as you do, that emotions don’t matter, your hurt feelings are nothing, you should operate only on rationality alone.

    If you’ve been hurt emotionally (or in some other way) via a doctrine, by another Christian, or some life circumstance, and you’ve allowed that hurt to color how you view a certain topic, then, they believe, you’re a weak, whiny cry-baby who should shut up about it and just get on with life, and your opinion is invalid.

    I’m not sure how to explain this type of Christian to you, but I’ve run into them before, especially on the internet. They are very negating of your feelings. I guess they think everyone should be, think, and act like robots.

    With this type of person, you are not allowed to have opinions on a topic unless your opinions are devoid of any and all emotion or personal experience with said topic.

    You must be absolutely dis-passionate and clinical and detached when discussing whatever the topic is, or the person will just brush off your concerns as being irrelevant or as unworthy of being taken seriously.

    This stems from the penchant of some Christian teachers, who think they’re a lot more clever than they actually are, who speak of facts and logic being the greater thing and emotions and feelings being the lesser thing. Back in the 80s, as a young Christian, I can remember the canned sermons: “Brethren, the facts of the scriptures are the locomotive, your feelings are the caboose, never let your feelings guide you, let the facts guide you.” Stuff like that. Heard that canned little sermon more than once. It’s true in a way, of course, for if the Bible tells me I should murder but I really feel like just killing my rival, of course my feelings about the matter don’t make it right.

    But what happened in practice with the crowd that loved preaching this cliché was that the “facts” almost invariably ended up being their idiosyncratic interpretations of the Bible, and “feelings” ended up being anything to the contrary. While they loved thinking themselves logical and above the rest of us, they were, of course, completely void of self-reflection—their pet doctrines were almost purely a matter of personal feelings and lusts, e.g., they tended to be stunted emotional boys who didn’t understand women, so their doctrinal “facts” subjugated women and made them lesser beings; they needed to feel superior to overcome the enormous feelings of inferiority that plagued them, so they created hierarchies within the church, with themselves, of course, at the pinnacle.

    I know the crowd quite well, knew them 30 years ago, and see their successors today in places like neocalvinism.

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  254. Daisy: Plus your average American mall is going to have Cinnabon.

    AKA the Giant Cinnamon Rolls from Hell!
    (with stiff competition from cinnamon soft pretzels from Auntie Anne’s)

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  255. Muff Potter:
    Samuel Conner,

    As a general observation (my opinion) of the fundagelical mindset, Romans 1 is confined almost exclusively to sexual mores, no wiggle room, no dissent.

    All else however, can be negotiated to one degree or another.

    Thanks, MP. I believe you, but I would think that there should be concerns about “under the sun” wrath from other angles. For example, in Romans 13, civil magistrates are spoken of as servants of God who execute wrath on evildoers.

    IOW, civil law-breaking can bring wrath down on one’s head.

    This does suggest to me that the people who are concealing these evils really don’t have much fear of God. OTOH, they may have plenty of “fear of man”.

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  256. Headless Unicorn Guy: “Ah’d like to help ya, Martha, BUT HEE-HAW‘s ON!”
    — line from a story I heard once about “the Hee Haw Homicide”

    By the way, the family I was calling – they usually knew dang well why I was calling:
    Because months prior, I had asked some of them in other calls, or in snail mail, if I could call them occasionally if or when the grief got overwhelming.

    They still opted to make 50- year- old “Bonanza” repeats or C.N.N. political debates a priority over me at those times.

    I was shocked. I was never like that, neither was my mother.

    Some of the folks who refused to take my calls, or swiftly kicked me off – because they wanted to watch “Little Joe and Hoss” – were the some of the very same ones who in years past used to call my mother up, and she’d listen to them sob for hours about their children being dead, or whatever was on their minds.

    I was not raised that way by my mom. My mom role modeled for me that if someone calls you upset or crying, you act as a shoulder for them to lean on.

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  257. Lea: I would see at as a flip of that…they WANT to do these things, so they assume everyone else does.

    I think that’s accurate, yes. However you want to word it, they were thinking or trying to justify their behavior by assuming all men are just as sexist and perverted as they are.

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  258. Headless Unicorn Guy: AKA the Giant Cinnamon Rolls from Hell!
    (with stiff competition from cinnamon soft pretzels from Auntie Anne’s)

    I confess I like the icing, not so much the rolls on the cinabons.

    Like I prefer the white sugar stuff inside Oreos as opposed to the bland, cardboard tasting chocolate part.

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  259. okrapod,

    Thank you for your kind reply. Let me be more specific regarding my previous comment. A few years back, in my town, the district wanted to show that they were in compliance with Federal STEM mandates regarding math ed.

    Administrators tried to jettison the tried and true algorithmic methods for performing arithmetic and replace them with ‘the investigative thinking approach’.

    To make a short story shorter, the parents stood up on their hind legs and said
    “…oh no you’re not!…”, the parents prevailed and forced the district to find some other way to meet Federal standards.

    Here’s a short you tube vid that goes into more detail of what they were up against:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1qee-bTZI

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  260. ION: Trains

    It’s bedtime here in Scotland, but one final thought for today: UK rail freight.

    I just can’t get excited about the Class 66 locos. The much rarer 92’s, on the other hand…

    IHTIH

    zzzzzzzz

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  261. Samuel Conner: This does suggest to me that the people who are concealing these evils really don’t have much fear of God.

    After having a certain pastor who had no problem lying and manipulating people, I started listening to preachers a little differently. I imagine Jesus is sitting there or standing behind the person and I make sort of a mental note of every time Jesus would likely say, “Oh, really?” because many pastors speak as though they are the literal voice of Jesus and as though there is no chance anyone “up there” is actually listening to them or would disagree or take issue with anything they say. “God says” “God thinks” “God wants you to” or they even take the voice of God and speak in first person. They have the utmost confidence that their own ideas, thoughts, biases, impressions are the voice of God. Do they even really believe God exists and if so, is a separate person from them? I wonder.

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  262. Daisy: They still opted to make 50- year- old “Bonanza” repeats or C.N.N. political debates a priority over me at those times.

    I’m sorry, Daisy, that is just awful. It’s bad enough that people avoid you when you’re grieving but to be put aside in favor of old reruns… that stings.

    I am sorry for your loss of your mom. It sounds like you were very close.

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  263. Muff Potter,

    Oh good grief. No, I never ran into any of that like on the video. But the curriculum we use is OK for how to manipulate numbers. That stuff on the video makes me think that RE may be right about some bad theories as to why people would even do that. We do standard algorithms at least partly because that is all I know and the curriculum does it so there we go.

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  264. JD Greer Defends ‘Equal but Distinct’ Roles of Women in Church View
    https://www.christianpost.com/news/jd-greer-defends-equal-but-distinct-roles-of-women-in-church-view-224063/

    Pastor J.D. Greear of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, has had to defend his complementarian view of gender that women and men have equal but separate roles in the church and family, after some likened his view to Jim Crow laws.

    “For the record, I affirm w/o reservation the ‘complementarian’ view of gender in Scripture — >i.e. equal in essence but distinct in roles in family and church; equal access to spiritual giftings, though only men can serve in the office of pastor,” Greear wrote on Twitter on Friday.

    Greear is a nominee for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. He argued, “‘Wives submit to your husband’ does not mean ‘all women everywhere submit to all men everywhere’ or that women are inferior in essence, gifting or value in the body of Christ. Both genders have a vital role in the kingdom and we should offer for both clear paths for development and advancement in the church.

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  265. Daisy: I confess I like the icing, not so much the rolls on the cinabons.

    Like I prefer the white sugar stuff inside Oreos as opposed to the bland, cardboard tasting chocolate part.

    Thank you. Glad I am not the only one who thinks the chocolate cookie tastes like cardboard.

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  266. Siteseer: I’m sorry, Daisy, that is just awful. It’s bad enough that people avoid you when you’re grieving but to be put aside in favor of old reruns… that stings.
    I am sorry for your loss of your mom. It sounds like you were very close.

    Thank you. Yes, I was very close to her.

    I should’ve also maybe explained above that when I asked those family members if I could call on them if the grief got bad, they all agreed and said yes, it would be fine.

    I was careful not to call any of them too often, either – maybe once every four months, or even less with some of them. (I didn’t want to be a nuisance.) But a call from me 2 – 4 times a year was just too much, I guess.

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  267. Daisy,

    Another snippet from that page,
    https://www.christianpost.com/news/jd-greer-defends-equal-but-distinct-roles-of-women-in-church-view-224063/

    Pastor J.D. Greear argued:

    “In Gal 3:28 Paul was removing any hierarchy in our relationship to God. Gal 3:28 does not abolish all societal roles any more than it abolishes nationality or gender. The logic that uses Gal 3:28 to abolish the former would by necessity have to abolish the latter.”

    That’s not the argument that egalitarians are making by way of Gal 3.28.

    They’re not saying that Gal 3.28 removes gender from people making them gender-less, but that gender does not determine roles, functions in the church, and that God did not ordain a permanent male over female hierarchy in the church.

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  268. K.D.: Thank you. Glad I am not the only one who thinks the chocolate cookie tastes like cardboard.

    When I was a kid (and too dumb to know that chocolate was bad for dogs), I used to eat the white sugar part and take the chocolate part out to the family dog.

    (He used to eat almost anything. I didn’t want my parents to find out I was not eating the whole cookie. I thought they’d get angry and lecture me about food waste.)

    Years later, I told my mother about this. She laughed and said she already knew about it.

    I said, “How did you find out?”

    My Mom said, “The dog didn’t like the chocolate Oreo part of the cookie, either. He brought all the cookie parts you gave him over the months and buried them all in the same spot in the yard, behind the garage. I found them when I was gardening back there one day.”

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  269. Daisy: When I was a kid (and too dumb to know that chocolate was bad for dogs), I used to eat the white sugar part and take the chocolate part out to the family dog.

    Great story!

    (He used to eat almost anything. I didn’t want my parents to find out I was not eating the whole cookie. I thought they’d get angry and lecture me about food waste.)

    Years later, I told my mother about this. She laughed and said she already knew about it.

    I said, “How did you find out?”

    My Mom said, “The dog didn’t like the chocolate Oreo part of the cookie, either. He brought all the cookie parts you gave him over the months and buried them all in the same spot in the yard, behind the garage. I found them when I was gardening back there one day.”

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  270. K.D.: Great story Daisy! ( I posted above too soon.)

    I am just really surprised that my pet dog did not eat any of the cookie parts – he would eat anything and everything else!

    That my pet dog would not eat the chocolate parts of an Oreo should maybe be a clue to the people at Oreo they might want to fix their choco recipe. You don’t like it, I don’t like it, and my dog who was NOT a picky eater didn’t like it, what more does Oreo need to know? 🙂

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  271. To the conversation back on topic, re:

    “Did a Large SBC Entity Refuse to Report a Known Sex Offender to Authorities and to Other Churches? Law Enforcement Is Now Investigating”

    I’m not surprised that a church played cover-up. I’ve come to expect churches to do this.

    That’s the only reason I didn’t comment much in the way of the specific O.P. topic.

    These days, when or if a church handles an abuse case competently and correctly, I am more shocked by that.

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  272. Daisy: They’re not saying that Gal 3.28 removes gender from people making them gender-less, but that gender does not determine roles, functions in the church, and that God did not ordain a permanent male over female hierarchy in the church.

    Agreed.

    Rom. 2:11  For there is no partiality (G4382) with God.

    G4382
    respect of persons: — partiality (3), personal favoritism (1).

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  273. Ct: “But then what about the verse about not forsaking the assembling together? I left for a week (a week ago) and then decided that my family as well as myself need a prayer covering of a church more than I need to leave the church. Could it be satan is trying to destroy the church as well? I’m really curious…I seriously have had about all I can take. the flashbacks and memories i have had since this recent situation at the church i attend have just about done me in. I am sure of one thing, that satan would love to destroy completely the church i attend right now, and that that has probably been a mission for a long time. i’m sure satan would also love to destroy the church period.”

    Hi CT,

    Those are some really important questions that you are asking. Here are some thoughts in response:

    1) Leaving is always an option if you’re in an unhealthy situation. Sometimes you can stay and fight. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, nothing will change. Whether to leave or stay and try to fix things is a decision that only you can make.

    2) You are right about the verse on not forsaking the assembly of believers. Yes, we could bump into other believers at the mall. But that’s not the same thing as worshipping the Lord. God seeks those who will worship Him. (John 4:23) Church is about worship. Yet we are doing everything but worship in church. That’s a whole discussion too.

    3) Whenever we have a question like this—look at how Jesus handled it. Jesus was in the habit of going to the brick and mortar church of His time. (Luke 4:16) Yet Jesus still walked away when they tried to kill Him. (Luke 8:59) That still didn’t stop Jesus was going to church again.

    4) If all brick and mortar churches are wrong, Jesus would have told us so. Yet Jesus NEVER did away with them. Let’s not put our words in His mouth. Whenever we start dealing with the wolves in the church, there’s a line of reasoning that pops up that goes something like this:

    Some pastors are bad.
    Therefore all pastors are bad.
    Therefore God never wanted anyone to pastor.
    Therefore we don’t need pastors at all.

    That reasoning doesn’t work because the existence of bad pastors in the church doesn’t eliminate the existence of good pastors and good churches.

    5) Hang in there. It might feel hard to make a decision when you feel very clouded right now. Things might get a little more clearer as you walk a little farther down the road.

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  274. Using one’s first name and last initial are common among cross cultural workers overseas. One entire organization whose members are overseas (starting small reproducing house churches) lists their personnel online by first name only. It’s a necessary security measure; keeping a lower personal profile on the web so as to protect local people who might be at risk for coming to Christ.

    So I wouldn’t give any weight to someone using their first name and last initial online. Could simply be a holdover from someone working overseas a long time.

    On the other hand, a suddenly disappearing linkedin pages is concerning. And acting like a twitter account was deleted over Matthew 18 comments related to Paige Patterson sounds fishy.

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  275. Law Prof: Thing is, the Lord doesn’t portray a golden age, either.

    The bible isn’t a users manual where we are to emulate those cultures. There was never a golden age. All life is suffering. The bible shows us that but for believers shows that there’s a point to it all.

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  276. Nick Bulbeck: one reason I appreciate your regular contributions as a Wartburger is that you and I are, I tentatively speculate, quite similar. It would be discourteous, and disrespectful, to push this speculation too far, or to put words in your mouth that you wouldn’t have chosen. But I identify as ex-Christian. I absolutely was a Christian; and I now absolutely am not. Although I love the idea of a God who is like Jesus, I certainly do not personally know such a God, and I do not expect to find one among the ranks of organised Christendom.

    Thanks! I’d agree we’re more similar than not.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no Christianity. There are scores of Christianities. And they can’t all be right. Each considers the others non Christian.
    A lot of comments state the comparison between “the world” and the “Christianity”.
    Well if you’re in North America or western Europe then you’re in a culture that is majority Christian.
    I’ve taken a lot of it to be code for “not real Christian”.
    The bunker mentality in many churches exacerbates the abuse that occurs.

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  277. Jack,

    and Nick, your comments always give me a lot to think about.
    This forum has demonstrated time and again that critical thinking and faith are not mutually exclusive.

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  278. Daisy: Pastor J.D. Greear argued:

    “In Gal 3:28 Paul was removing any hierarchy in our relationship to God. Gal 3:28 does not abolish all societal roles any more than it abolishes nationality or gender. The logic that uses Gal 3:28 to abolish the former would by necessity have to abolish the latter.”

    That’s not the argument that egalitarians are making by way of Gal 3.28.

    No it isn’t. And it’s deeply disturbing that they don’t realize how close they are coming to arguing that slavery and treating other nationalities as if they are lesser is ok. They are using the same arguments.

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  279. ishy: Lea: And a lot of the actual big money mega church pastors have no education at all, right?

    I think a lot of them aren’t seminary educated, but some are.

    I know in the mega I just left, I know that the pastor of the 20s-30s kids is not seminary-educated and he’s been in ministry for over a decade. And now he’s writing a book because he’s super popular. And I believe the lead pastor has at least some seminary training, but I don’t know if he completed his MDiv or not.

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  280. @ Nick & Jack:

    I’m glad we have such a wide array of beliefs and non-beliefs here at TWW.
    TWW is one of the few faith-based places on the net which has that kind of diversity and tolerance for all.

    As I’ve opined here before, we are a lot like Al Andalus of old before the inquisition took over.

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  281. Daisy, I am so sorry for what you experienced. I don’t know your relatives, but is it possible they were working through or had in the past worked through grief issues also? Maybe a boundary they had set so your grief could not trigger a depression? I do know a bit about various ways one can lose a child. Some parents who have lost kids are rocks for other parents. But others cannot heal unless they are careful not to “be there” for others as it triggers grief beyond what they can bear. Is it possible that could have been happening? It surely stinks they were not there for you, but if you can find grace for them it might help you heal from the pain of their non support.

    Just a thought, use it or toss it, whatever helps.

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  282. Daisy: Pastor J.D. Greear argued:

    “In Gal 3:28 Paul was removing any hierarchy in our relationship to God. Gal 3:28 does not abolish all societal roles any more than it abolishes nationality or gender. The logic that uses Gal 3:28 to abolish the former would by necessity have to abolish the latter.”

    The New Calvinists continue to distort Scripture to defend the “beauty of complementarity.” Doing so, they attempt to draw female believers back into bondage after Christ set them free.

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  283. Lea: Gal 3.28

    … they don’t realize how close they are coming to arguing that slavery and treating other nationalities as if they are lesser is ok …

    Yes. Galatians 3:28 is clear that “in Christ” there are to be no distinctions between race, class or gender. To say that Scripture “does not abolish societal roles” is to say that it’s OK to subordinate not only women but other races and classes of people.

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  284. Max: Galatians 3:28 is clear that “in Christ” there are to be no distinctions between race, class or gender. To say that Scripture “does not abolish societal roles” is to say that it’s OK to subordinate not only women but other races and classes of people.

    The real issue here is what kingdom you want to live in. Do you want to live in a church kingdom defined by the rules and regulations of mere men or live in the Kingdom of God in the here and now where religious systems are turned upside down. The choice you make determines what sort of Christian you will be … will your identity be in the church or in Christ? The route you take will either free you from bondage or keep you there.

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  285. Nick Bulbeck: But I identify as ex-Christian. I absolutely was a Christian; and I now absolutely am not. Although I love the idea of a God who is like Jesus, I certainly do not personally know such a God, and I do not expect to find one among the ranks of organised Christendom.

    I didn’t realise that about you Nick, because of the amount of sense you speak about God. I am very definitely an exvangelical & still trying to find a God like Jesus. If it wasn’t for the fear of getting it wrong I’d have junked everything many years ago. What was your final straw?

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  286. Jack: The bible isn’t a users manual where we are to emulate those cultures. There was never a golden age

    Not even the Antebellum South (now gone with the wind) or the Ozzie & Harriet Fifties?

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  287. Law Prof: The Bible describes an age in which each generation found ways to prove it was worse than the last, in which those who were allegedly God’s people sacrificed their children, treated women like chattel, chased after pagan gods, solicited prostitutes, formed alliances with the most evil cultures around them, murdered in cold blood, engaged in public orgies, made up rules which allowed leaders to abuse those under them, cynically destroyed anyone who stood up for truth or prevented them from seizing absolute power, and generally completely turned the concept of servant leadership exemplified by Jesus on its head. They were selfish pigs.

    But if you listen to the YRRs and some SBC “dignitaries” you will find this is all peanuts compared to having a woman lead something.

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  288. Beakerj: I didn’t realise that about you Nick, because of the amount of sense you speak about God. I am very definitely an exvangelical & still trying to find a God like Jesus. If it wasn’t for the fear of getting it wrong I’d have junked everything many years ago. What was your final straw?

    There’s no one simple answer to that; I think it’s best to explain my use of “agnostic”, which is a very flexible term (as in, what exactly don’t I know?). I find the notion of a sentient intelligence behind the extraordinary design of the physical universe – the relative strengths of the fundamental forces, for instance – interesting. The idea of a God who would create a Universe in which both wonderful, and terrible, things were free to happen, and then would own, in himself, full responsibility for the latter whilst freely spreading the former; in particular, of a God who would announce himself to us by becoming one of us, compellingly interesting. If indeed the Father is whom Jesus revealed, then this is a God I bow to.

    The sticking point is that I just have no idea where I personally stand with him. (I used to think I did.)

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  289. dee,

    It also sometimes getting to the age where you can understand the power differential. What at 16 may have felt like “I’m an adult and we’re in love,” looks very different once the child reaches the actual age of the other party. A 25 year old may be able to realize, “Gosh! I’d never engage in any sexual act with a 16 year old. They are kids. That would be incredibly manipulative.”

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  290. Nick Bulbeck: “agnostic”, which is a very flexible term (as in, what exactly don’t I know?)

    It’s actually a spectrum since we pea-brain humans cannot even begin to scratch the surface of what/who God is in his essence. We all have to admit to some level of agnosticism. I think you are using the word in this sense.

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  291. Ken F (aka Tweed): We all have to admit to some level of agnosticism.

    I agree. ‘Some level’ is on the spectrum you mentioned in your comment. For me it entails beliefs and affirmations beyond The Apostle’s Creed which is the simplest of the bunch. I have issues with The Athanasian Creed, and according to its opening stanzas, I cannot be saved and will perish everlastingly if I don’t sign onto it in whole and not just in part.

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  292. Siteseer,

    After having a certain pastor who had no problem lying and manipulating people, I started listening to preachers a little differently. I imagine Jesus is sitting there or standing behind the person and I make sort of a mental note of every time Jesus would likely say, “Oh, really?”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i want a painting of jesus with an cynical facial expression.

    talk about inspiring!

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  293. Nick Bulbeck,

    “But I identify as ex-Christian. I absolutely was a Christian; and I now absolutely am not. Although I love the idea of a God who is like Jesus, I certainly do not personally know such a God, and I do not expect to find one among the ranks of organised Christendom.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    ex-christian…

    “christian” as in a brand name?

    “christian” as in a political party with perspectives one adopts?

    “christian” as in a social clique with lots of rules?

    i no longer identify as christian because of the these rigid and artificial elements of the word.

    my perspectives are such a hybrid — i don’t fit in anywhere, and i’m sure sick of pretending so as to avoid the responses of deep concern i get from people when i allude to what i really think.

    Nick, do you still pray?

    i love praying with my little prayer group (been praying weekly for 6 or so years), but it’s not without some complexity. i pray in my own way, that fits in enough with the christian party line (so my prayer partners won’t be afraid of me!), and in a way that doesn’t obligate me to lie and say things i don’t mean and believe. I am connecting with God and imploring God on behalf of others, that is the heart of the matter.

    i believe in God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit because of the reality of them. i just don’t know what to do with the christian rhetoric anymore.

    i stopped buying into most of it long ago. mostly because it had all the substance of a TV commercial.

    just like “coca cola…it’s the real thing…what the world needs today…” they do? why? how? the answers amount to “well…because that’s what the commercial says.”

    or like commercials that invent problems, and try to get people all concerned about this new problem (that doesn’t even exist), so they will buy the product that ‘solves’ this problem.

    truly, buying/using/sporting the christian label, being a member of the christian party, the christian clique has made me neurotic, anxious, saddled me with fake problems that don’t exist (amazing how heavy and burdensome something that doesn’t exist can be!).

    there’s so much more i could say… isolated me from and rendered me unavailable to my fellow human beings in my neighborhood & everywhere (ideologically as well as by monopolizing my time and energy).

    (sorry for the monologue)

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  294. Ken F (aka Tweed): It’s actually a spectrum since we pea-brain humans cannot even begin to scratch the surface of what/who God is in his essence. We all have to admit to some level of agnosticism. I think you are using the word in this sense.

    I can authoritatively correct your comment on one point only: that’s not the sense in which I’m using the word.

    I respectfully beg to differ on some other points, though. Among the many contentious sayings of Jesus (including one of his most famous statements: “Truly, truly I tell you: the Father hates gays and confident women, and will retaliate against them with random acts of destruction”) is this one:

    …the Spirit of truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He abides with you and He will be in you.

    I think Christians should be very cautious about pushing too far the idea that God is beyond human knowledge. The gospel accounts imply that God has gone to great lengths to make it otherwise. If, after all that, God remains unknowable to humans, then it would be his failure as much as ours. Christian tradition holds, quite reasonably, that this is a work in progress that will not be complete during this mortal existence. (A well-known early theologian observed: “Then, I will know completely, even as I myself am known” – another of those obviously too-good-to-be-true Christian ideas.) But that’s not the same as saying the job hasn’t begun.

    When I call myself agnostic, I don’t mean that I haven’t compiled a complete technical specifcation for God. I mean that I don’t know him at all.

    I know what I wish he were like – I wish he were like Jesus. Of course I’ve read the Bible – who hasn’t? – and among its many and varied clamouring voices, that picture stands out as an enthralling centrepiece. Is it possible that my wish is well-founded? Yes, it is. Many people have credible testimonies of encountering a God who resembles the one the Jesus of the gospels claimed to embody.

    But I don’t have what they have. It has, in the past, felt as though I’ve been close. But I can’t say that I have any contact with him. I don’t have the faintest idea whether anybody is listening when I pray, and I don’t have the faintest idea what God’s opinion is on what I should have done with my life, if indeed he has an opinion.

    Some people say, of course, that I’m not supposed to, and that just trusting and groping in the dark is what Christianity is meant to be. They’re entitled to their opinion and I wish them well with that. But to me, that’s not being a christian; it’s being an agnostic. This comment isn’t complete, but the train’s about to land and I have to hit “Post”…

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