The Elder Board and Last Remaining Lead Pastor at Willow Creek Are Gone.

Lost – yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever. Horace Mann

Yesterday, Lee Strobel tagged me on Twitter and claimed that no one knew anything about what Bill Hybels was doing. He said this sin was done in the darkness. I begged to differ. I pointed out that everyone was aware that Bill Hybels was counseling a suicidal women who claimed, then retracted, that she was in a 14 year adulterous relationship with him. They knew she was going over to his house and they knew she spent the night when Hybels’ wife was out of town. Sorry but that dog won’t hunt. Game over.

I believe that all of the pastors and staff who worked with Hybels need to come out of the dark and admit that they saw some things that didn’t seem right but let it go because “That’s just Bill” or “I don’t want to lose my job” or “I need to protect the church.” Nope, nope, nope.

This action on the part of the leadership was the only possible option left open to them. Here are a few links for you to read. Please note that the incredibly brave women who came out and had to endure abuse from the “Hybels’ Machine” were apologized to, by name, last evening.

Chicago Tribune: Willow Creek pastor, elders step down, admit mishandling allegations against Bill Hybels

New York Times: Willow Creek Church’s Lead Pastor and Board of Elders Resign

BBC: Willow Creek: Church leaders quit over sexual misconduct scandal

Christianity Today: Willow Creek Elders and Pastor Heather Larson Resign over Bill Hybels


Comments

The Elder Board and Last Remaining Lead Pastor at Willow Creek Are Gone. — 423 Comments

  1. I’m glad that Willow Creek will have this opportunity to move forward with new leadership. Praying for them during this transition time. One of the crucial steps for many 21st century churches is learning how to move from a movement built on a single personality to a self-sustaining body that is ready for the next generation. We saw Schuller’s empire implode. WCC has the opportunity to blaze a new trail.

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  2. “I believe that all of the pastors and staff who worked with Hybels need to come out of the dark and admit that they saw some things that didn’t seem right but let it go …”

    As I noted in a comment on one of Dee’s earlier pieces regarding this sad situation “I suspect that there is a whole lot more to be revealed when WCA board members and WC elders start talking.”

    The level of Hybels’ transgressions over a number of years could not … could not … have gone unnoticed by church elders.

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  3. Many years ago I resigned from an evangelical organization as soon as I learned it had a long culture of sexual harassment.

    What I learned from that experience and subsequent experiences is that for evil like this to persist in an institution, there almost always has to be more than one person involved in perpetrating it. Abusers at the top tend to attract other abusers because it’s easier to get away with something if the top dog is doing it too and others either condone it or turn a blind eye for whatever reasons.

    There’s no way to know with absolute certainty that this was the case at WCC, but it sure seems likely. I will be very surprised indeed if we don’t hear a lot more in the days and weeks to come.

    Also, people who don’t resign until after there is incredible public bungling and public pressure do not particularly impress me. Again, based on my experience, the people with real integrity very likely left long ago.

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  4. Dee,
    Thanks for your insightful comments on this situation. My family has been a long time attender / member / volunteer family at WCCC. We didn’t run in the same circles as Hybels but have been there long enough to hear him preach many many times, be at smaller events where he has shown up, and know some people close to him. There was always gossip about him, the only thing I recall hearing were about his ego. I’m sure there were plenty others I never heard. All that to say, this isn’t an being apologist for him or the ‘leaders’, I agree with you, the behaviors he displayed are all flags that people in his circle should have called out at the time. I stand with the victims. Just an anecdote / peon perspective I felt I needed to share / get off my chest. Thanks for listening.

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  5. I was pleasantly surprised by the elders and Heather’s choice to step down last night. Though difficult, and seismic for Willow, it was the only option they had.

    Also very nice to see Vonda’s gracious response https://www.facebook.com/vonda.dyer. (Sorry. Couldn’t figure out how to include just her response post.)

    Curious, but not surprising, that Heather did not offer any meaningful apology in her resignation statement. It was just like her mentor’s when he left: all about her, taking no specific responsibility for her actions. Good riddance.

    Assuming that the new leadership and the independent council can perform effectively, I see at least three areas that will be very revealing:

    1) Bill’s misdeeds. Not only his sexual abuse, but also his abuse of power.
    2) Willow’s use of NDAs. This, I believe, has the potential to be as explosive as Bill’s behavior. If Willow is serious about truth and turning over a new leaf, these NDAs will be voided and people encouraged to come forward.
    3) The way that the leaders mismanaged the whole affair. I hope we will see who, like Steve Carter, were champions for greater transparency and care for the victims, as well as those who were solely interested in the good of the institution. What did the advocates for truth want to have happen, and what was the response of those who resisted.

    Please pray for those of us who have attended Willow and those who will lead the transition into what we hope will become the new, revitalized and vibrant Willow. There are so many decisions to be made as the church looks to start anew. Although there are many who were captured by Bill’s charisma or the entertainment offered as worship, there are many more who want Jesus Christ and God’s word at the center, and Willow to be a place where people can become committed followers of Christ. Though it has been a winding path to get to this point, this is an amazing opportunity to show how, only through Christ, can repentance and forgiveness lead to healing and registration.

    May God grant the grace and strength to all involved to do the necessary to make it so. To His glory!

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  6. DD: the behaviors he displayed are all flags that people in his circle should have called out at the time

    After the fact, it’s like peeling an onion: layers upon layers. Seeing the next layer only after the previous cover-up layer comes off.

    https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/08/09/willow-creek-association-addresses-bill-hybels-controversy-at-opening-of-global-leadership-summit-video/

    Throckmorton here peels away and reveals from today’s Opener at the GLS the yet-in-place-at-Willow presumptuousness:

    “In other words, the world can’t go on without the GLS.

    “IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT”
    “It is this attitude (the world needs us) that turns me off and strikes me as presumptuous. I am open to reasons why the show must go on. Maybe somebody’s livelihood is dependent on it. I get that. But don’t tell me that the sun won’t come up or that women around the world would be lost without you.

    “I think this is what gets evangelical pastors — like Bill Hybels maybe?– into trouble. I think Mr. De Vries expressed some of that too. The GLS must go on because we need it to. No, actually we don’t. Find some other reason.” – end of quote from Throckmorton’s website.

    Pride goes before a fall or fail. They keep showing their pride, falling, and failing God’s people, women in particular.

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  7. Even after their resignations, the (now former) WCCC leaders are still spouting Leaderspeak (a close cousin of Newspeak). They don’t come across as people who know how to speak frankly or honestly. I find myself unable to trust people who can’t come down from the leadership cloud and just be one of us, and there seem to be far too many church leaders (celebrity and otherwise) who have that problem. Among the issues my wife and I face with returning to church after years of absence in the wake of leadership abuse, this is a sensitive one for me.

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  8. Behavior modification has to be intertwined with system and belief modification. Leadership change doesn’t guarantee that there will be system and belief change.

    It will be interesting to see what happens and if the new leadership and remaining community at Willow will reflect on that.

    However – one of the main problems is much of their underlying beliefs and assumptions about leadership and leadership culture. So will they choose the next pastors and elders before addressing and questioning those systemic leadership beliefs and values?

    A significant interim period seems necessary.

    I am sitting here trying to even imagine how many assets they have as a church, as well.

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  9. FW Rez: One of the crucial steps for many 21st century churches is learning how to move from a movement built on a single personality to a self-sustaining body that is ready for the next generation.

    Indeed. Churches that have a long history have generally figured this out. I think this (mass leadership change) is necessary, but we will see. There are probably lots of regular staff who have absorbed the culture and as Lydia points out elsewhere, culture change is hard. Should be an interesting case study though.

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  10. John: Also, people who don’t resign until after there is incredible public bungling and public pressure do not particularly impress me. Again, based on my experience, the people with real integrity very likely left long ago.

    I’m with John on this. I suspect this may be a legal maneuver more than genuine regret.

    It’s a purge to protect a money machine. I have no doubt there will be sufficient financial compensation for all involved to assuage their guilty consciences.

    Be interesting to see how all this bad press is affecting the receipts for services rendered. Can you get a refund when you find out the salvation you were sold was dud set of goods.

    The bottom line is that this is all about the bottom line.

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  11. Max: The level of Hybels’ transgressions over a number of years could not … could not … have gone unnoticed by church elders.

    But they kept quiet about it.
    LA OMERTA?
    Or just it’s really hard to be critical of something from which you personally benefit?

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  12. Jack: It’s a purge to protect a money machine. I have no doubt there will be sufficient financial compensation for all involved to assuage their guilty consciences.
    Be interesting to see how all this bad press is affecting the receipts for services rendered. Can you get a refund when you find out the salvation you were sold was dud set of goods.
    The bottom line is that this is all about the bottom line.

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

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0kcet4aPpQ

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  13. Very glad that the Elders and Heather did what they were compelled to do (resign). I, too, noted that Heather did not apologize in a meaningful way. However, she is also an Elder, and the Elder spokeswomen presumably spoke for the whole Elder Board.

    It seems to me that with its leadership focus, Willow Creek has always been on the verge of idolizing leadership (and leaders). Even in her statement last night, Heather was squarely focused on what it means to be a leader. Leadership isn’t really a Biblical concept, and Jesus is never referred to (by others or himself) in the Bible as a leader. The Bible does speak extensively about Eldership, which is a form of leadership–the highest form, in many respects.

    If Elders (Willow’s included) actually conformed to the qualifications of Eldership that are outlined in Scripture, we wouldn’t see the mess we’re seeing.

    Sad that Willow put Leadership before Eldership.

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  14. Cobber: Even after their resignations, the (now former) WCCC leaders are still spouting Leaderspeak (a close cousin of Newspeak). They don’t come across as people who know how to speak frankly or honestly. I find myself unable to trust people who can’t come down from the leadership cloud and just be one of us, and there seem to be far too many church leaders (celebrity and otherwise) who have that problem. Among the issues my wife and I face with returning to church after years of absence in the wake of leadership abuse, this is a sensitive one for me.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s ridiculous. obnoxious. fake phony plastic synthetic

    so incredibly sick of the company politics of church leaders leading in leadership as they lead (gawd such vaunted trumped up language), while everyone else sits there expectantly like 3 year-olds at a puppet show.

    why return to that?

    my friends and i can do better than that, in our weekly prayer time. my neighbor does better than that corralling coats to pass out to those without homes in winter, just her. i could go on…

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  15. From the article up-top:
    “Yesterday, Lee Strobel tagged me on Twitter and claimed that no one knew anything about what Bill Hybels was doing. He said this sin was done in the darkness. I begged to differ. I pointed out that everyone was aware that Bill Hybels was counseling a suicidal women who claimed, then retracted, that she was in a 14 year adulterous relationship with him. They knew she was going over to his house and they knew she spent the night when Hybels’ wife was out of town. Sorry but that dog won’t hunt. Game over.”

    I love it when smart and savy women call horse poo-poo on guys like Strobel.

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  16. Max: The level of Hybels’ transgressions over a number of years could not … could not … have gone unnoticed by church elders.

    As true and certain as the morning sunrise.

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  17. emily honey,

    “I am sitting here trying to even imagine how many assets they have as a church, as well.”
    ++++++++++++

    i’m sure it’s too much and too big for their own good.

    sort of reminds me of health care. pondering how in the world did a physician+human with health problem become the gargantuan trillion dollar machine?

    just how many careers in how many parasite industries & million dollar salaries (& corruption & cover-up) is my son seeing a dr. about a pesky cough funding?

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  18. DD:
    Dee,
    Thanks for your insightful comments on this situation. My family has been a long time attender / member / volunteer family at WCCC. We didn’t run in the same circles as Hybels but have been there long enough to hear him preach many many times, be at smaller events where he has shown up, and know some people close to him. There was always gossip about him, the only thing I recall hearing were about his ego. I’m sure there were plenty others I never heard.

    If the guy was known to have an ego, one big enough and persistent enough to generate rumors around the church, that might well be more disqualifying than being a sexual predator. Humility is kind of the key thing, the big thing, with leaders; if that’s not there, it’s over, that’s not a leader, that’s a danger to anyone around them. You know, it’s that ego that compels you to surround yourself with “yes” men and women, it’s that ego that makes you think you’re the church, you’re the thing, you’re the “brand”, as Mark Driscoll allegedly so sociopathically put it, it’s that ego that makes you think it’s a good thing to draw people to yourself rather than point them to Jesus, it’s that ego that eventually will make you hate God, because an arrogant person looks down smugly on anything and anyone beneath them and comes to despise anything or anyone above them. It’s that ego that makes you think you can treat women like your personal sexual playground, like a thing to be used when it gives you pleasure and jettisoned when it ceases to.

    If you heard rumors about the guy’s ego, what in the world would make you think that was a guy who’d model Christ in any meaningful way? Why would you want to spend two seconds listening to such a person? I’m glad you got free from him, he’s long gone and his reputation, which he so jealously guarded, is now destroyed, as it should’ve been decades ago and you are rid of him. But why do people stay and listen?

    I wonder this myself, having gone through it before, where I was in your shoes, listening to a man who I could neither respect nor trust deliver messages on Sunday, a man with a giant ego that was likely fatal to his relationship to God and others, and I’m still flummoxed at my behavior. Why do we put up with it?

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  19. It was even referenced on the Beeb news page.

    I think they should appoint me as the replacement pastor.

     I’m never going to claim “God told me” to do bad stuff
     I have cool Steve Jobs-type hair (including facial hair)
     None of the church members knows me from Adam

    QED.

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  20. elastigirl: +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s ridiculous.obnoxious.fake phony plastic synthetic

    so incredibly sick of the company politics of church leaders leading in leadership as they lead (gawd such vaunted trumped up language), while everyone else sits there expectantly like 3 year-olds at a puppet show.

    why return to that?

    my friends and i can do better than that, in our weekly prayer time.my neighbor does better than that corralling coats to pass out to those without homes in winter, just her.i could go on…

    The reason you, your boyfriend and your neighbor are doing better than that is because it sounds like what you’re doing is actually being the Church, while what Willow Creek leadership is doing is fraudulent, it sounds as if it’s “the form of godliness, but denying the power” of it, they sound like superapostles, ravenous wolves, whitewashed tombs, full of fake words and garbage (maybe they don’t even know how to speak like just a plain old Christian anymore because they never did know how nor cared to be a plain old Christian, just a follower of Jesus), whereas you sound like you’re just trying to love Jesus and others.

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  21. Sorry, elastigirl, no clue why I said “boyfriend” when you wrote “friends”. Maybe have that on the brain because I have teenage daughters and this vague anxiety that comes about due to the boyfriend issue. No clue! 🙂

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  22. As an previous resident of South Africa, out of curiosity I took a look at the Willow Creek Association South Africa website. They are still selling all the more recent books, dvds and resources written and produced by Bill Hybels. Their leaders are currently attending the Global Leadership Summit in Chicago, and gushed on their Facebook page that GLS 2018 will be the best Summit ever “considering the attack”. It seems that Willow Creek Associations in other parts of the world are either ignorant, or in denial, about the recent events at WCC, and still choose to believe that Bill Hybels is a hero. It makes me furious to think that 1000s around the world are continuing to be duped and exploited by the Willow Creek industry. And it makes me even more furious to see WCA leaders from other nations publicly labelling the courageous women and victims who have spoken out as causing an “attack” on the GLS.

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  23. I read the articles that Dee gave links to …………
    the (former) leaders talk about Willow Creek, Willow Creek, Willow Creek …….. they use the words “the church” in contexts that indicate that they believe Willow Creek is THE CHURCH – not a church.
    Apparently, everything is all about Willow Creek. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are absent.

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  24. Muff Potter: From the article up-top:
    “Yesterday, Lee Strobel tagged me on Twitter and claimed that no one knew anything about what Bill Hybels was doing. He said this sin was done in the darkness. I begged to differ. I pointed out that everyone was aware that Bill Hybels was counseling a suicidal women who claimed, then retracted, that she was in a 14 year adulterous relationship with him. They knew she was going over to his house and they knew she spent the night when Hybels’ wife was out of town. Sorry but that dog won’t hunt. Game over.”

    I love it when smart and savy women call horse poo-poo on guys like Strobel.

    Amen! I have long been asking ‘Where is Strobel?’ And all the others who were on board this sinking ship for so long. I can’t remember which article mentioned the staff’s joking references to Bill’s ‘flavor of the month’, but don’t tell me this does not suggest those on board didn’t know he had an eye for the women. And possibly much more than an eye.

    But of course all must look out for themselves. All must declare themselves utterly innocent – and ignorant. I recall when my spouse used this tactic in defending a pastor who somehow always managed to counsel exactly the worst possible thing to those who sought his help. I didn’t buy the ‘innocence’, but for golly sake, if the guy is that inept, he needs to be in another line of work!

    When we see someone in the church, no matter how high up on the totem pole, exhibiting inappropriate attitudes and behavior, we need to do the right thing. If we have the avenue open, we should challenge them directly. If not, we should use whatever avenues are open to us. Isn’t that what elders and accountability are supposed to be all about? And if all they do is circle the wagons, we need to not only bail out, but make a fuss about it on our way out the door. We may not be able to personally stop wickedness, but we can certainly ensure that we are not one of its enablers.

    I’m sorry, but I am not buying the ‘I had no idea!’ claims of anyone who was at Willow in a position of leadership or involved in the worship team. They did have an idea. Maybe they didn’t want to rock the boat; or risk their own position; or ‘threaten’ the ministry. But unless we admit that these are false and dangerous reasons to overlook troubling realities, the abuse will continue in these institutions. When we see Truth knocked down and bleeding in the street, we have a choice to make – will we risk becoming a victim ourselves, and go to her aid, or will we pretend we don’t recognize her?

    – Truthseeker00, not Truthseeker

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  25. Jack: I’m with John on this. I suspect this may be a legal maneuver more than genuine regret.

    It’s a purge to protect a money machine. I have no doubt there will be sufficient financial compensation for all involved to assuage their guilty consciences.

    Be interesting to see how all this bad press is affecting the receipts for services rendered. Can you get a refund when you find out the salvation you were sold was dud set of goods.

    The bottom line is that this is all about the bottom line.

    Yes. And speaking of the bottom line, at the ministry I left, there were strong indications that financial dishonesty was going on as well. Sin and evil doesn’t always limit itself to one area.

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  26. Jack: Can you get a refund when you find out the salvation you were sold was dud set of goods.

    No, you can’t (after all, who’s going to pay it!?). The best [generic] you can do is diligently sift the destructive elements of religion from your life, deal with the temptation to react instead of acting, and set about being the best person you can be in the knowledge that “your own strength” is the only strength you ever had in the first place.

    I realise you were asking rhetorically, and that there was nothing in the previous paragraph you haven’t processed long ago, but sometimes it’s useful to write stuff down…

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  27. Jack: Can you get a refund when you find out the salvation you were sold was dud set of goods.

    That is actually the best idea I’ve heard yet! This institution should be shut down for fraud, and all the people with receipts for giving should make claims for refunds. That is about the only way we are going to put these abusive institutions out of business.

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  28. You raise a lot of thoughts to unpack here and I really should be working but this is in some ways helpful to me. A lot of my comments fall under the hindsight is 20/20 category. FWIW, I became disillusioned with WCCC 2,3,4 years ago and mentally had checked out. I went for a couple of reasons, to support my family and ‘keep an eye on things’. I think the spirit had put the thought in me that something was wrong but I had no idea what.

    “what in the world would make you think that was a guy who’d model Christ in any meaningful way?”
    Part of the way WCCC worked was small groups. So you didn’t really interact directly with most of the people who worked there. You had a small group that maybe had 1 employee in it. You would look more to the people in your group for being Christ-like than the people on the stage. And again, on stage personas don’t give you the full picture so it was more like looking at a picture of the guy not the real thing. That’s the best I say about this right now without unpacking it more.

    “Humility is kind of the key thing, the big thing, with leaders”
    Totally agree. IMO he showed enough of the humility in front of the congregation that the ego rumors remained just that, rumors / gossip, and that can be identified as sin in others. In other words deflection.

    “Why would you want to spend two seconds listening to such a person?” “But why do people stay and listen?”
    Simple – charisma. The guy is loaded with it. It’s a powerful thing. I wasn’t sold on it at first, I was agnostic / atheist first time I heard him and recognized what it was then. Long story short, I accepted it as part of a family package, the benefits outweighed the bad parts. And that’s why I put it up with. And it wasn’t always him on stage. There were other teaching pastors, many which where amazing, and guest speakers. Finally and honestly, I didn’t see this coming, I thought, if anything, it would be something else, like embezzlement.

    FWIW there is a lot of good going on and good people that attend / work at WCCC. That in no ways excuses what happened, it is just truth.

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  29. Nick Bulbeck:  I’m never going to claim “God told me” to do bad stuff

    But are you going to
    1. Give them up
    2. Let them down
    3. Run around and
    4. Desert them.
    5. Make them cry
    7. Say goodbye
    8. Tell a lie…etc.

    Hmm?

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  30. The difference with these “mega churches” vs. established old line religions (Catholic, Baptist, etc.) is they are easier to clean up. The pedo issues in the Catholic Church were systemic and they still have problems, but they aren’t rooting it all out bcz of the size and the bureaucracy. This is just my opinion, I’m not saying I’m right or trying to convince others who don’t agree.

    These mega churches have identifiable leaders, and so getting rid of the pastors and leaders that are responsible is much easier. In a way, it is like God pruning the tree. It is the different seasons the bible speaks about. Bill was leaving anyway, but his influence would have still been large, now it won’t. I know people on staff at the other churches and they are incredible people. I am not ready to say all of WCCC and what people built is bad.

    I don’t attend there anymore, true, but any institution will have sin, bcz they all have people. All structures are fraught with problems…there is no utopia. WCCC messed up badly…very badly. The people who stepped up and would not let things go, they were brave and loved the church, enough to take all knds of heat, and I look at them more than Hybels. They are the best of Christ’s Church. Whether Willow or “The Church”. They took on Goliath. They won, and the church will be better for it.

    Whether WCCC will survive or not I do not know. I do not wish its’ death bcz of Hybels and enablers. However, a good cleansing is needed during this season.

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  31. Tom Devries describes how the Global Leadership Summit is a source of training for leadership to those who have been harassed and hurting.

    This is as tone deaf as Chris Conlee stating on the day that Andy Savage confessed to sexual assault – that Highpoint would begin a ministry for women impacted by sexual sin.

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

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  32. Melly: The difference with these “mega churches” vs. established old line religions (Catholic, Baptist, etc.) is they are easier to clean up.

    I don’t know. It’s easier to just scrap the whole church and start again…like a cult maybe. But then the next one starts, and it has whatever problems come from its leader too.

    But if Willow has a bunch of member churches, ala sovereign grace, then the entire DNA of the institution may be tainted. So I’m not sure I’d agree.

    I said before I think starting a giant church based on one mans charisma is generally a bad idea and I haven’t seen anything that changes my mind on that.

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  33. Truthseeker00: That is actually the best idea I’ve heard yet! This institution should be shut down for fraud, and all the people with receipts for giving should make claims for refunds. That is about the only way we are going to put these abusive institutions out of business.

    My family has our names in the time capsule they buried for Chapter 2 supporters. I want it dug up and our names expunged.

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  34. ION: Cricket

    Wartburgers will be disappointed to hear that the first day of the 2nd Test at Lords was abandoned due to rain.

    Updates will, weather permitting, be provided tomorrow.

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  35. Off topic, sorta. If you guys have not seen “The Women’s Balcony”, I highly recommend it. It reminded me of the Calvinist takeovers of churches —from a Jewish perspective, of course. It is a great example of how people go through the “respecting the new pastor process” but it ends better than what many of us have experienced. It’s delightful. It’s on Netflix.

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  36. It’s simple. Billy Hybels was untouchable in that culture for decades. It took him being close to retirement for well known people in evangelicalism to speak up —like the Ortbergs and a few others who were more well known. No one in that world would listen to a nobody like his former assistant— so why bother? . That is how it works. It took the well heeled with their own gravitas to speak up.

    That is the part I wish people in these organizations would come to grips with. Hybels created the perfect environment to operate within. He used everyone in the process.

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  37. Disciple: My family has our names in the time capsule they buried for Chapter 2 supporters. I want it dug up and our names expunged.

    “Chapter 2”?

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  38. Law Prof,

    “Why do we put up with it?”

    Well, like you, I had to go through quite a process to deal with that period of my life which, thankfully, wasn’t that long but still quite detrimental to us. I wasn’t even raised like that! My parents were never the type that gave their adult children unsolicited advice so when my mom was on her deathbed and told me that most churches were really a mission field, it kind of blew my mind as I thought about months after she died.

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  39. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Chapter 2 was the ‘next’ chapter in WCCC. The first being the creation of the campus in South Barrington, Il. Chapter 2 was adding a new auditorium and other buildings to the campus to allow even more ‘seekers’ anonymous access to Christianity and also support satellite churches in the Chicago area, aka a capital fund drive.

    Here’s the first thing I could find on it
    http://www.willowcreek.com/wca_service.asp?servid=374

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  40. Lydia: It’s simple. Billy Hybels was untouchable in that culture for decades.

    That’s correct. The ironic part was that it the opposite has been preached, that we were to hold each other accountable, we’re all equal in the eyes of the Lord. Clearly some of us were more equal (to paraphrase a favorite author of mine).

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  41. elastigirl: sort of reminds me of health care. pondering how in the world did a physician+human with health problem become the gargantuan trillion dollar machine?

    That’s an easy one. Cuz’ the for profit health-care industry is just that; profitable, and it’s fiduciary responsibility is to the share-holders, not the patients.

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  42. DD,

    Mega 101. The big cheeses never do what they tell you to do. They also don’t believe what they teach or at least apply it to their own lives. But how would the typical pew sitter know that? The distance from the rock star to the pew sitter is a deep and wide chasm. And I agree with those here to say that staffers new but I would clarify that based on my experience working with Megas. The inner ring knows. But mega church staffs are huge. There are many rings of staffers and it’s much more hierarchical than they admit. There was a joke that went around the mega church world staffs that was somewhat cruel but truthful. See, there are the cake people and the non-cake people. The cake people were leaving in good standing. The non-cake people just disappeared one day and no one dared ask.

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  43. Law Prof,

    “whereas you sound like you’re just trying to love Jesus and others.”
    ++++++++++++++

    just wanting to be productive and a good citizen with what i have and know. nothing more.

    don’t give a flying fick about ‘the glory of God’. (no one knows what in the world it is, anyway)

    whatever it is, just as the sun shines because it is, God ‘glories’ because God is. as if anything i/we could do or not do would make it more or less so.

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  44. Lydia,

    You’re as dyed in the wool libertarian as I am socialist (FDR style, not Marx-Lenin style).
    And yet through it all, we still find common ground.
    L’CHAIM!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  45. Lydia,

    Oh yeah, totally get it. I’ve been in the VLCW (very large corporate world) for many years now. I know how it’s a “do as I say not as I do” world when it comes to large entities. You hope in the case of the church they get it right but it’s not surprising when they don’t. In WCCC case Hybels was insulated from all the riff-raff by layers of staff. I only had access to the peons in the staff. I wasn’t powerful enough or had enough money to be bothered with by WCCC VIPs.
    It’s funny, Hybels would bring up some story every once in a while to appear to be a normal person. But then couldn’t help himself and talk about some country he was traveling to or some activity that people with normal means can’t afford.
    Sigh, I’m trying not to pile on and make him seem worse than he is, but … betrayal is the word that comes to mind.

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  46. Lydia: No one in that world would listen to a nobody

    This right here is one thing that really sticks out about all of these situations. No one will listen to a nobody. Many if not most will not listen to a woman against a man. Both of things contribute in large ways to the problem and I don’t see us any closer to fixing them.

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  47. DD:
    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Chapter 2 was the ‘next’ chapter in WCCC. The first being the creation of the campus in South Barrington, Il. Chapter 2 was adding a new auditorium and other buildings to the campus to allow even more ‘seekers’ anonymous access to Christianity and also support satellite churches in the Chicago area, aka a capital fund drive.

    Here’s the first thing I could find on it
    http://www.willowcreek.com/wca_service.asp?servid=374

    That is correct. They requested sacrificial giving and pledges. Hybels had many group meetings at his home to ‘paint the vision.’ Only ‘selected’ people were invited. I stowed away with a staff member. It was like a papal visit.

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  48. elastigirl: don’t give a flying fick about ‘the glory of God’. (no one knows what in the world it is, anyway)

    whatever it is, just as the sun shines because it is, God ‘glories’ because God is. as if anything i/we could do or not do would make it more or less so.

    Yes, at least to the second part. It is not so much that I don’t give a flying flick, 🙂 as that God doesn’t give a flying flick what I think about it. As you said, He is glorious, because he is glorious; He really does not require your, my or anyone else’s assistance getting all that glory Calvinists are so concerned might get away!

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  49. Muff Potter,

    yeah…. well, it wasn’t like that on Little House On The Prairie. Doc Baker came to you, or you came to him, that was that. none of the middle people.

    wondering about the societal/social/economic/historical things which prompted all the changes.

    i could easily find this out myself. just thinking out loud, puffing frustration.

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  50. elastigirl,

    Hint. None of it was an accident. Everything good and worthy God does, his enemy seeks to counteract and/or derail. Jesus set up and ekklesia, Satan sets up a ‘Church’. And the foolish, naive, unthinking masses ignore scripture’s warning to be as wise as serpents and fall into the traps again and again. The sooner we realize that the institutions of men are not designed to bring glory to God, the sooner we will learn to ask the necessary questions when thinks don’t seem quite right.

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  51. John 8:7 (KJV)
    “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

    My humble 2 cents: Many solid comments in this thread. Do think, however, the ‘judgmental without proof’ on some may tip the opposite way from what Jesus was thinking in the verse above. Obviously, the number of brave people revealing their experiences creates certainty. The subtle sin trap, though, may be too quick to judge, haughtiness, and not acting on my own failures.

    After reading almost every word written about Willow Creek mess, what is settling in with me is a need to refresh myself, and to know better God’s grace given to me. Jesus died because of Willow Creek’s and my sin. He lives and his goodness power rules.

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  52. Lydia: If you guys have not seen “The Women’s Balcony”, I highly recommend it.

    Excellent film. Although it takes place in Israel, and involves rabbis and synagogues, it relates well to our churches here today, including WCC.

    The women in the film are completely admirable.

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  53. DD,

    It’s a huge betrayal and frankly, I am surprised it came to light knowing what I know about mega cultures from years ago. I did note early on in the scandal that well heeled/fairly well known leaders in those circles, ‘who had left WC’, spoke up and other people, ‘outside WC’, listened and it went public. Hmmm.

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  54. Lea: No one will listen to a nobody.

    Jesus was a nobody. God was a nobody when He walked this Earth.

    Christians ignore the still small voice of the Holy Spirit at their own peril. Sincere believers seek to grow in attentiveness to God speaking. (Money, power, and charisma may talk, too. Not the same voice as God, however.)

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  55. I attended Willow Creek Church a couple of times in 1979, when services were still being held at the Willow Creek Theater in Palatine, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). I was blown away by the slick production. Never before at a conventional church had I seen lyrics projected upon the wall or heard a talented band sing modern praise music. My most vivid memory of Willow Creek is the tear-filled sermon of Bill Hybels, who referred to God healing problems in his marriage.

    I also remember my disgust during the extra-marital antics of Bill Clinton, when Hybels urged Americans to forgive him. Now I am saddened but not really surprised that Hybels is revealed to engage in the same type of sordid behavior.

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  56. DD:
    You raise a lot of thoughts to unpack here and I really should be working but this is in some ways helpful to me. A lot of my comments fall under the hindsight is 20/20 category. FWIW, I became disillusioned with WCCC 2,3,4 years ago and mentally had checked out. I went for a couple of reasons, to support my family and ‘keep an eye on things’. I think the spirit had put the thought in me that something was wrong but I had no idea what.

    “what in the world would make you think that was a guy who’d model Christ in any meaningful way?”
    Part of the way WCCC worked was small groups. So you didn’t really interact directly with most of the people who worked there. You had a small group that maybe had 1 employee in it. You would look more to the people in your group for being Christ-like than the people on the stage. And again, on stage personas don’t give you the full picture so it was more like looking at a picture of the guy not the real thing. That’s the best I say about this right now without unpacking it more.

    “Humility is kind of the key thing, the big thing, with leaders”
    Totally agree. IMO he showed enough of the humility in front of the congregation that the ego rumors remained just that, rumors / gossip, and that can be identified as sin in others. In other words deflection.

    “Why would you want to spend two seconds listening to such a person?” “But why do people stay and listen?”
    Simple – charisma. The guy is loaded with it. It’s a powerful thing. I wasn’t sold on it at first, I was agnostic / atheist first time I heard him and recognized what it was then. Long story short, I accepted it as part of a family package, the benefits outweighed the bad parts. And that’s why I put it up with. And it wasn’t always him on stage. There were other teaching pastors, many which where amazing, and guest speakers. Finally and honestly, I didn’t see this coming, I thought, if anything, it would be something else, like embezzlement.

    FWIW there is a lot of good going on and good people that attend / work at WCCC. That in no ways excuses what happened, it is just truth.

    I believe you. There always seem to be some decent people in ugly places. And remember, I was in your boat. Heck, I was in worse delusional shape, I’d personally seen pastor act like a monster behind closed doors, it wasn’t even a rumor, it was stark reality in my face—and yet, there I was bringing my family back each week, two times a week, sometimes three. My kids, whom I was supposed to protect. Insane!

    By the way, for all you know there was a whole lot of embezzlement—and even if there wasn’t, it’s only a technicality, as any pastor drawing the unconscionable kind of salaries that Hybels and Morris, Osteen and Franklin Graham draw, is committing embezzlement at heart, they’re just surrounded themselves with enough “yes” men that they can under the thing guise of church rules to take more wrongful gain from the parishioners than nine out of ten embezzlers ever take.

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  57. I attended Willow Creek Church a couple of times in 1979, when services were still being held at the Willow Creek Theater in Palatine, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). I was blown away by the slick production. Never before at a conventional church had I seen lyrics projected upon the wall or heard a talented band sing modern praise music. My most vivid memory of Willow Creek is the tear-filled sermon of Bill Hybels, who referred to God healing problems in his marriage.

    I also remember my disgust during the extra-marital antics of Bill Clinton, when Hybels urged Americans to forgive him. Now I am saddened but not really surprised that Hybels is revealed to engage in the same type of sordid behavior.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  58. jyjames: Throckmorton here peels away and reveals from today’s Opener at the GLS the yet-in-place-at-Willow presumptuousness:

    “In other words, the world can’t go on without the GLS.

    “IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT”

    Has anyone taken a look at the featured GLS speakers? Believe me, the world can go on without GLS!

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  59. Gary Boswell: GLS 2018 will be the best Summit ever “considering the attack”

    Scripture categorizes “attacks” against the church as coming from (1) the world, (2) the flesh, or (3) the devil. The world and the flesh did Hybels in … no reason for the devil to get involved.

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  60. I have no direct connection with WCCC. I feel that even if the elders resign, the air is not clear because BH kept his mouth shut. If there is no objective investigation to follow with new leaders, the heart of the matter still be boiled down to “who do you trust?” BH or the brave women? I sense deep division coming if the abusive allegations are not resolved and bring to a close (whether BH publicly admit his sin or not).

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  61. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): Apparently, everything is all about Willow Creek. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are absent.

    Oh, and don’t forget the absence of the Cross of Christ at Willow Creek. Hybels decided long ago not to display it … it interfered with his seeker-friendly approach to ministry. The first huge red flag to me 40 years ago.

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  62. Melly: a good cleansing is needed during this season

    Actually, most of the American church could do with a good cleansing. But I have a feeling that ain’t going to happen until desperate times set in. Folks don’t pray as they ought in good times, folks don’t repent as they ought in good times, folks don’t seek God’s face as they ought in good times. The American church needs an outbreak of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to put it back on track.

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  63. Lea: if Willow has a bunch of member churches, ala sovereign grace, then the entire DNA of the institution may be tainted

    There are 13,000 member churches in the Willow Creek Association, spanning 90 denominations in 45 countries. They all adopted the Willow Creek “model” for doing church – a DNA that birthed Christianity Lite in many places.

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  64. Lydia: Hybels created the perfect environment to operate within. He used everyone in the process.

    A pathological narcissist. The elder board was controlled, manipulated, and intimidated by him. We will hear their stories in the days ahead.

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  65. Max: Has anyone taken a look at the featured GLS speakers? Believe me, the world can go on without GLS!

    Simon Sinek is scheduled and I’m a fan. Before the shake-up/break-up, I knew I’d never do GLS even for a good “outside” presenter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU

    GLS schedules speakers that publish books you can check out from the public library, and that have speaking segments on youtube – all free, on your own time. No need to fund another yacht.

    Maybe the attendees go for networking their own businesses? Never understood why GLS is “a thing” when the internet makes it all available, most free, and on your own schedule.

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  66. Max: Schuller, Driscoll, Hybels, etc.

    I feel like we are looking at: “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty”, by D. Acemoglu, MIT, and J.A. Robinson, U. of Chicago.

    Failed States:
    – PTL, Bakker
    – Crystal Cathedral, Schuller
    – Mars Hill, Driscoll
    – Willow, Hybels
    – Calvary Chapel, Smith
    – JS Televangelism, Swaggart
    – TBN, Crouch
    – 700 Club, Robertson
    – Miracle Crusades, Benny Hinn
    – New Life, Haggard

    There may be a glitch in combining the free reign and co-mingling of religion-as-a-business with capitalism in a free market friendly society. As the business grows, the values are lost, and the leaders get caught in some fairly gnarly stuff. Just wondering, how good intentions fail, in church. There’s got to be a common thread in there somewhere.

    As least we also have a free press.

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  67. Law Prof: as any pastor drawing the unconscionable kind of salaries that Hybels and Morris, Osteen and Franklin Graham draw, is committing embezzlement at heart, they’re just surrounded themselves with enough “yes” men that they can under the thing guise of church rules to take more wrongful gain from the parishioners than nine out of ten embezzlers ever take.

    So agree!

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  68. Max: Law Prof: Why do we put up with it?

    The problem with deception is that we don’t know we are deceived because we are deceived.

    I think we must remember that the Narcissists who manipulate and deceive us are very, very clever. They know exactly what they are doing, how to size people up, how to use their interests, neediness, insecurities, desires, everything, to manipulate the person into just the place they want them. The honest, sincere and trusting victims cannot even imagine someone being so sinister, so dishonest, so self-serving. It often takes a boatload of red flags before we get it. There are many things that blind us, most of all, the lack of knowledge of how a manipulator deceives and uses people. We must be forgiving of ourselves, and others, as we go through the difficult and painful process of facing the awful truth that someone we loved and trusted was not worthy of our devotion.

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  69. Donna O’Scolaigh Lange,

    Love your work Donna!
    Especially We are Stardust…

    Makes me wanna’ continue the call and response lyrical segue into:

    Billion year old carbon.

    We are golden…

    Caught in the devil’s bargain

    And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden…

    (with apologies to Joni Mitchell)

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  70. Truthseeker00,

    “The sooner we realize that the institutions of men are not designed to bring glory to God, the sooner we will learn to ask the necessary questions when thinks don’t seem quite right.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    OK! now were’ talkin….

    what’s glory?

    (if memory serves, no one has ever answered my question)

    …i’ll just keep going, here:

    how do humans bring it/give it to God?

    and for what purpose?

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  71. Max: The problem with deception is that we don’t know we are deceived because we are deceived.

    Perhaps there’s a correlation with the foreign gods and idols that the Israelites always fell for in the OT. Human nature. False gods.

    Always thought Israel was so dang ignorant to be fascinated with shiny things, but here we are in the 21st century emptying our wallets and applauding in service to our brilliant narcissistic celebrated leaders.

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  72. John M,

    “The subtle sin trap, though, may be too quick to judge, haughtiness, and not acting on my own failures.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    so, vocally and publicly standing up for what is right, honest, and true is judging and haughtiness? and since we’ve failed we have no business standing up for what is right, etc?

    i observe the scary secular worldly world as having higher ethical and professional standards than the church that calls itself christian.

    i observe the former having no qualms stating what is right and what is wrong and unwise, and issuing consequences. i observe churches either being silent or else winsomely stuttering gibberish over what is clearly wrong, illegal, criminal, unethical.

    they just want the problem to go away. so they then convey that it is a sin to judge & to gossip. and with that christians clam up. what d’ya know — problem appears to go away. how convenient.

    as i see it, these are some reasons:

    –many christians are so fixated on the bible as inspired and infallible that they only have a literal understanding of the english words they read. sometimes they just read and say the words minus the understanding. they don’t know what to do with circumstances and conduct that isn’t clearly spelled out.

    –many christians believe their gut feelings and intuition are mere feelings and emotions that are dangerous to rely on. because you can only rely on the words in the bible.

    –many christians are terrified of coloring outside the lines. of making mistakes. so they play it safe.

    person A does something questionable which the bible doesn’t address. however, since the bible does say “don’t judge”, christian B grabs on to that. ah, safe — no tick marks after my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life for judging.

    end of story. even though the questionable thing person A did was actually illegal, criminal, unethical, and they caused harm and suffering to others.

    –i could go on…. but my son wants to introduce me to Breaking Bad.

    After reading almost every word written about Willow Creek mess, what is settling in with me is a need to refresh myself, and to know better God’s grace given to me. Jesus died because of Willow Creek’s and my sin. He lives and his goodness power rules.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

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  73. Truthseeker00,

    So well said! It sounds like we have both been unfortunate enough for this matter to not be just hypothetical. I still marvel at all I did not see…sleeping 12 inches from me. We can teach others to recognize how they work. If only we were believed.

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  74. John M,

    in my reply comment just above, the final paragraph is John M’s, not mine.

    John M, you express concern about judging, and i agree insofar as being judgemental in the sense of looking for faults. as i fleshed out my thoughts, however, i wasn’t necessarily characterizing you — just what i observe in christian culture in general.

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  75. Law Prof: By the way, for all you know there was a whole lot of embezzlement—and even if there wasn’t, it’s only a technicality, as any pastor drawing the unconscionable kind of salaries that Hybels and Morris, Osteen and Franklin Graham draw, is committing embezzlement at heart

    Indeed. And they use their work product [sermons] to write books that make them rich. And they use church staff to research, to cater to them, and in Hybel’s case, to abuse and use.

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  76. jyjames: As the business grows, the values are lost, and the leaders get caught in some fairly gnarly stuff. Just wondering, how good intentions fail, in church. There’s got to be a common thread in there somewhere.

    As least we also have a free press.

    This interpretation assumes that the leaders of these new enterprises are good to begin with, and go bad through the temptations that they encounter as the enterprise succeeds.

    That’s doubtless true for some in your list, but others may have been bad from the beginning.

    Powerful enterprises, even when sound at the outset (before they were powerful) attract people who want to use the power for their own purposes. So even if it starts out sound, there’s a good chance that things will turn out poorly over time. It isn’t just churches; “leadership” failure is common in every field of human endeavor.

    I’m looking forward to the day when every responsible job in every field of endeavor that matters will require a thorough psychological and neurological assessment to weed out the sociopaths. Then, maybe, the systems will work more nearly as intended. There will still be garden variety sin, but preventing people who want the power for its own sake from getting into positions of power will go a long way IMO toward ameliorating the problems.

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  77. Truthseeker00: They know exactly what they are doing, how to size people up, how to use their interests, neediness, insecurities, desires, everything, to manipulate the person into just the place they want them.

    Remember, in the case of Bill Hybels, he asked the people what they wanted! He actually surveyed the community and asked unchurched folks how they would like to do church. He then modeled Willow Creek on the interests and desires of predominantly lost people, rather than the heart of God. In essence, Hybels and his model for doing church failed because it was patterned after a carnal approach for doing church … and in the end, his own carnal appetite was revealed.

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  78. jyjames: https://timfall.com/2015/09/21/the-conference-every-mega-church-pastor-should-attend/

    I keep waiting for a church leadership conference where mega-church pastors sign up to listen to small church pastors tell them how 99% of the church does it.” (Tim Fall)

    Now, that’s a revolutionary thought! For example, the Southern Baptist Convention has 45,000+ member churches … 90% have congregations less than 250 people. Yet, the big-boys are always getting voted on for key SBC positions. It would do them well to sit at the feet of small church pastors who are serving the Lord in obscurity … but faithfully. Being mini rather than mega doesn’t always mean that a church is more spiritual … but it helps, since less flesh is in the way. However, the problem with what Fall is recommending is that mega-church pastors carry too much pride and ego to humble themselves to hear from God through someone “smaller” than them.

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  79. Max: There are 13,000 member churches in the Willow Creek Association, spanning 90 denominations

    What makes you a church, in a regular denomination, a part of the ‘willow creek association’?

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  80. elastigirl: –many christians are so fixated on the bible as inspired and infallible that they only have a literal understanding of the english words they read. sometimes they just read and say the words minus the understanding. they don’t know what to do with circumstances and conduct that isn’t clearly spelled out.

    People in churches are happy to judge in all sorts of situations, they only pull this stuff out when it threatens someone they like. The fact is, if you just pull out a random bible verse to support position A, odds are there is also a random bible verse to support position B. We’re supposed to be smart enough to put it together and apply it in real life in a sensible way.

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  81. elastigirl,

    Thanks for the additional words. No worries. Read your comments with interest.

    What I was trying to say is, myself, by my nature, probably more ‘judgemental’ than many others. Trying to dial that down.

    After spending thousands of worship hours, gift dollars and volunteer hours at Willow Creek since 2001, I am intently reading what is being written since the BH ‘bs’ broke late March. Enriching to read what people have written. Some real gold ‘nuggets.’Want to use them well and not let my anger cloud the truths that are coming to light about how and where to worship and volunteer.

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  82. drstevej,

    With apologies for my ignorance,are you the same DrJ1952 who authored the article at https://drj1952.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/whitewashed-tombs/ ?

    Among the many things that my wife and I discussed regarding the (changing) elder board at WCCC was the that observation that there wasn’t anyone that appeared to have any experience as a church leader. No one with a theological or ministry background; just successful attorneys/business people and homemakers. Also, most were middle-aged.

    Diversity of representation and experience is good in a leadership board and having successful business leaders and homemakers is fine, but we wondered where was that person who from his/her life and ministry experience could ask hard questions, like “Are we veering offtrack from being a church to becoming a non-profit charitable organization? Are we responding to this situation as a church or an institution?” Etc. (In all likelihood that voice would not have been particularly welcome.)

    We hope and pray that Willow will address this when assembling the new elder board.

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  83. Truthseeker00: Narcissists who manipulate and deceive us are very, very clever. They know exactly what they are doing, how to size people up, how to use their interests, neediness, insecurities, desires, everything, to manipulate the person into just the place they want them.

    Mike Phillips tweet:

    Because they love-bomb to get their way, a narcissist interprets love from others as:

    1. Manipulation
    2. Weakness
    3. Fraudulent
    4. Unnecessary (ie. They don’t need love from others, they need others to play their game).

    11:36 AM – 9 Aug 2018

    A co-dependent who is still trying to break free of her narcissist-controller recently lamented to me: “But when I’m gone, who is going to love him?”

    He will dear. He will. And God. Love from the rest of us is not understood or appreciated.

    10:06 AM – 9 Aug 2018

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  84. Nick Bulbeck: No, you can’t (after all, who’s going to pay it!?). The best [generic] you can do is diligently sift the destructive elements of religion from your life, deal with the temptation to react instead of acting, and set about being the best person you can be in the knowledge that “your own strength” is the only strength you ever had in the first place

    I completely agree.

    I’ve never had God speak to me in any literal sense. Even when I was Christian I’ve never claimed to known his mind or his plan or anything like that. I gave up trying to figure it out a long time ago, just spinning tires for no purpose. If there is a divine plan and I’m supposed to be in on it then there’s many ways to get hold of me.

    But many who have claimed to know what God wants and even claim that God has told them what he wants then proceed to pull crud like Hybels, or abuse kids, or rub feet or whatever.

    I can tell you, if God did literally speak to me, I’d probably living on the straight an narrow as much as any human could.

    So, I do not believe anyone who tells me that God has 5 purposes for me, or that I have give 10% of my income to their tax free social club, or that I have to sign a contract or that I have wear a dress and look like a “Little House on Prairie” extra.

    Ok…I’ll wear the dress…but that’s it. Am I saved yet?

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  85. John M:
    Lea,

    My understanding is they pay for it either in a subscription or buying the materials WCA offers.

    Hm. Thanks.

    I’ve started to become quite strongly anti-para church org. It’s particularly baffling when it is added to denomination stuff – most denominational churches send money to various things related to that.

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  86. Thomas055: No one with a theological or ministry background; just successful attorneys/business people and homemakers. Also, most were middle-aged.

    Is this odd? In my experience, most elders are lay people (with the pastor being a non-voting member generally). They can call in experts to talk about any specific issue and the pastors are generally there.

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  87. Lea: What makes you a church, in a regular denomination, a part of the ‘willow creek association’?

    For a $299 annual fee, a WCA member church has “access to discounts on Willow Creek Resources and conferences, as well as a magazine, an audio journal, several web-based ministry tools, and a variety of Select Service Providers. Select Service Providers are ministries and organizations that provide products and services to member churches for a discounted price.” (Wikipedia)

    And the carnival barker shouts across the midway “Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!”

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  88. Lea,

    Yes, in my experience that has been true and works just fine. But most churches don’t have a staff of 400 people either. (Neither do most businesses in the U.S.). At that size there is inherently a “corporate” orientation at some level. So it seems to me to be the opposite of most churches like the ones above that have 250 members.

    In a setting like WCCC, where there is such a large institutional/corporate structure, it would seem wise to include some elders who would help to ensure that the church retains its spritual foundation and orientation. I sense that Dr B provided this many years ago. While a pastor might have a mentor or advisor outside the church, that person is not responsible for the vitality, relevance and oversight of the congregation the way an elder is.

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  89. Thomas055,

    “we wondered where was that person who from his/her life and ministry experience could ask hard questions, like “Are we veering offtrack from being a church to becoming a non-profit charitable organization? Are we responding to this situation as a church or an institution?””
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    or, “are we getting weird?”

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  90. Thomas055,

    “Are we responding to this situation as a church or an institution?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    hard to see that they are not one and the same thing.

    (if salaries and personal enrichment were removed from the equation that might be a start in changing things)

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  91. Jack: Ok…I’ll wear the dress…but that’s it. Am I saved yet?

    Well, weAreAllSinners, and thereAreNoPerfectChristians, but I think you’re doing what really counts, so yes, you probably are!

    Slight tangent, but after 30 years living in Scotland (and calling myself Anglo-Scottish) I’ve still yet to wear a kilt. I should probably do something about that.

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  92. Max,

    And my experience was a lot of churches used the canned sermon packages that came with cultural movie clips, skits, jokes, etc. And paid their “spiritual shepherds” well to deliver them. Sigh.

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  93. Benn: If you love me, keep my commandments……..

    And we all know just how God summed them up for us!!

    “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

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  94. Thomas055: Yes, in my experience that has been true and works just fine. But most churches don’t have a staff of 400 people either. (Neither do most businesses in the U.S.).

    Counting from our attendance board internal webpage, the shop where I work is only 19 total.

    At that size there is inherently a “corporate” orientation at some level. So it seems to me to be the opposite of most churches like the ones above that have 250 members.

    100-150 is the usual dividing line, the Troop-size Limit where people cease to see the others as individuals, only a Collective group of faceless ciphers.

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  95. Max: For a $299 annual fee, a WCA member church has “access to discounts on Willow Creek Resources and conferences, as well as a magazine, an audio journal, several web-based ministry tools, and a variety of Select Service Providers. Select Service Providers are ministries and organizations that provide products and services to member churches for a discounted price.” (Wikipedia)

    And the carnival barker shouts across the midway “Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!”

    “WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS
    TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS!
    WE’RE SO GLAD YOU COULD ATTEND!
    COME INSODE! COME INSIDE!”
    — Emerson Lake & Palmer, “Karn Evil Nine”

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  96. Truthseeker00,

    And we have a tendency to trust such people for many reasons. We also may subconsciously get a sense of the unwritten rules from the group so we don’t question even minor red flags. We don’t want to appear critical over something no one else is question By that time, we are invested.

    Perfect recipe for Thought Reform

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  97. Max: For a $299 annual fee, a WCA member church has “access to discounts on Willow Creek Resources and conferences, as well as a magazine, an audio journal, several web-based ministry tools, and a variety of Select Service Providers. Select Service Providers are ministries and organizations that provide products and services to member churches for a discounted price.” (Wikipedia)

    “Look, Flim!”
    “What, Flam?”
    “Ponies with too much money! Let us relieve them of their burden!”

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  98. Nick Bulbeck: Well, weAreAllSinners, and thereAreNoPerfectChristians, but I think you’re doing what really counts, so yes, you probably are!

    Slight tangent, but after 30 years living in Scotland (and calling myself Anglo-Scottish) I’ve still yet to wear a kilt. I should probably do something about that.

    Go for it! And as the saying goes… Pictures, or it didn’t happen! 😉

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  99. Lea(Quoting Max):

    There are 13,000 member churches in the Willow Creek Association, spanning 90 denominations.

    What makes you a church, in a regular denomination, a part of the ‘willow creek association’?

    Well, according to Max’s research, the payment of a fee does.

    But let’s look at it another way. “The Church” is Christ’s Body. So, “many churches” means either
     the one Christ has decided to split his Body up into many parts (like a sponge can), or
     that there are many Christs (or small-c christs) each with one body.

    There’s a third possibility, that the many churches are all parts of one Body. There’s some precedent for that choice of words, because the new testament does refer occasionally to “the churches”. BUT… they are invariably separated by geography, not by dogma, liturgy or tradition as they are now. Also, if this were the case, I’d expect to see much more meaningful and constant collaboration between them and much less infighting and committed separateness.

    So, it most likely means that there are many christs. That in turn means that, in order for [generic] your church to be part of the Willow Creek Association (or WCA),
     Your church must cough up the $$$, and
     Your church’s own particular christ must be compatible with the central WCA’s christ, or christs if they have a Board of Christs (I don’t know what that would look like).

    IHTIH

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  100. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    “100-150 is the usual dividing line, the Troop-size Limit where people cease to see the others as individuals, only a Collective group of faceless ciphers.”

    Yep. I once read about an archeological dig in Ephesus were they came across an unusual dwelling that had obviously been remodeled to hold about 70 people. Based on the time and place the archeologists thought it might have a likely house church as they were meeting more and more in homes.

    And 70 was high!

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  101. Max: A pathological narcissist.The elder board was controlled, manipulated, and intimidated by him.We will hear their stories in the days ahead.

    Assuming Hybels doesn’t still have a hold in their heads.

    The key to a successful swindle is to the the Marks/Mugus so emotionally involved to where they CAN’T back out, because backing out means having to admit to themselves (and everyone else) that they got taken. Once this dynamic is in play, the Marks/Mugus will fanatically defend the con man and the con even as they are taken to the cleaners.

    Then there’s the “Made Man” trope at work in the Inner Ring. In the Mafia, you weren’t “in” until you had done a murder (no statute of limitations). In Gadhafi’s Libya, you weren’t
    “in” until you had killed a family member on the order of Colonel Leader. (In a culture where Family and Clan were all-important.) If they’ve been complicit, they cannot distance themselves from The Great Man — no escape route, nowhere to go. Rise with the Inner Ring and Leader, fall with the Leader.

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  102. Lea,

    yes, that’s true. no more judgemental place than church. it’ a minefield.

    never again.

    joe and joanne christian tend to pull out the “no judging” card when something they care about and have a vested interest in is in jeopardy (their church social club, their church building, the church institution). when someone they like is in jeopardy because of the choices made.

    i’d like to see joe and joanne christian care about not judging people who’s sexuality differs from their own.

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  103. elastigirl: what’s glory?

    (if memory serves, no one has ever answered my question)

    Since we seem to be on the same wavelength, I’ll take your challenge, even if others are no doubt far more qualified to answer.

    We, human beings, men, women and children are the crown jewel exhibiting God’s glory. And when we tarnished his work by rejecting him, Jesus came to once again reveal the glory that a humble, submissive man gives to God.

    elastigirl: so, vocally and publicly standing up for what is right, honest, and true is judging and haughtiness? and since we’ve failed we have no business standing up for what is right, etc?

    No! A thousand times no! Standing up for what is right, honest and true is what brings glory to God. It is what we were designed to do! And my heart literally breaks to think that I let a church, a manipulative, narcissistic pastor nearly destroy that which is most Godlike in me.

    Even today, my own spouse, and those I left behind, consider me ‘rebellious against God’ for resisting the ‘duly instituted authority’ of a pastor and a church. It couldn’t possibly have been God’s desire to reject an authority that harbored a criminal and put innocent people in harm’s way. You see, if the ‘authorities’ do it – whatever it is – it automatically becomes ‘right’! Isn’t that amazing? And if some nobody stands up to those authorities – no matter how ‘just’ their cause – it automatically becomes ‘sin’. Don’t you see? It’s really very simple. But silly me, I can’t sleep at night, thinking about the long train of people who have left the church, one by one, hurt, troubled and sometimes angry at God. Don’t I know I shouldn’t worry my silly little head about it, because ‘the boys’ (elders) are handling it?

    Anything an instituted authority does is glorious in his own eyes. Should God himself defy them, they would condemn him.

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  104. Thomas055: Yes, in my experience that has been true and works just fine. But most churches don’t have a staff of 400 people either. (Neither do most businesses in the U.S.). At that size there is inherently a “corporate” orientation at some level. So it seems to me to be the opposite of most churches like the ones above that have 250 members.

    My church is somewhere in between the two, as I suspect most are 🙂 I’m not sure that ‘staff of 400′ isn’t a problem in and of itself, however paid elders who make all the decisions is it’s own church model imo. I’m not convinced its’ the best.

    Thomas055: In a setting like WCCC, where there is such a large institutional/corporate structure, it would seem wise to include some elders who would help to ensure that the church retains its spritual foundation and orientation.

    I mean, it just depends on what the elders role actually is. You would hope people selected as elders would have a deep background in church and lay or not, most probably do. If your so called spiritual elders are of the Bill Hybels variety I’m not really sure how much that’s going to help…

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  105. Nick Bulbeck: Well, according to Max’s research, the payment of a fee does.

    If that is the case, I don’t know that there is really any meaning to this ‘willow creek association’ business aside from contributing to it financially. I suppose you might be getting some of its general spin through the materials, but should be easy to decouple.

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  106. Max,

    Same here, I always wondered why he did that. Was Hybels concerned that people might think church was actually about worshipping God? Feels like Hybels didn’t want anyone taking the spotlight away from himself.

    I have a feeling that there’s a lot more details on Hybels that haven’t surfaced yet.

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  107. Lydia: And my experience was a lot of churches used the canned sermon packages

    Oh yeah, everybody sounded like Hybels for awhile … I sure hope they didn’t act like him, too!

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  108. Lea,

    I think we’re on the same page, Lydia. Thanks.

    Sidebar: It’s an old stat, and I don’t know what the current figure is, but the number I used to know is that the average church in America had about 100 members/attendees.

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  109. elastigirl: joe and joanne christian tend to pull out the “no judging” card when something they care about and have a vested interest in is in jeopardy (their church social club, their church building, the church institution). when someone they like is in jeopardy because of the choices made.

    More like they pull out the “Judge Not” card when THEY’re the ones Who Get Caught.

    http://holyjoe.org/poetry/anon5.htm

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  110. jyjames: Throckmorton here peels away and reveals from today’s Opener at the GLS the yet-in-place-at-Willow presumptuousness:

    “In other words, the world can’t go on without the GLS.
    “IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT”

    Paging John Lennon…
    Paging John Lennon…

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  111. Truthseeker00: … I can’t sleep at night, thinking about the long train of people who have left the church, one by one, hurt, troubled and sometimes angry at God. Don’t I know I shouldn’t worry my silly little head about it, because ‘the boys’ (elders) are handling it?

    Anything an instituted authority does is glorious in his own eyes. Should God himself defy them, they would condemn him.

    We want people to believe that “God is good”; it’s very hard to worship a Deity that you suspect might actually be evil.

    I’ve become persuaded that if we want people to believe that God is good, it will often happen that it is necessary for us to exert ourselves to actually BE the goodness of God toward them. That might be a valid (if off the beaten path) interpretation of Jesus’ saying in Mt 5:16

    But if it is necessary at times (and is perhaps part of what it means to be called to follow Jesus) for us to “instantiate” God’s goodness toward sufferers, it’s also possible that the way we treat people can provide evidence to them that “God is not good.”

    Woe to any church leader who does that, and woe upon woe to any church that institutionalizes that as policy. Under the sun forms of God’s wrath will overtake such groups eventually. That’s a lesson that the churches could learn from David’s story in 2 Samuel 11 onward. That this lesson seems to not be embraced by many of these prominent leaders stimulates doubt in my mind that there is in them either fear of God or concern about people.

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  112. Truthseeker00,

    “We, human beings, men, women and children are the crown jewel exhibiting God’s glory. And when we tarnished his work by rejecting him, Jesus came to once again reveal the glory that a humble, submissive man gives to God.

    …Standing up for what is right, honest and true is what brings glory to God.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    Thanks, Truth’.

    i like it. but what is glory? glowy gold light? golden rays of light? God’s God-ness, in all its specificity and nebulosity?

    it sounds like it changes depending on the context.

    talk about frustrating…. and ‘Paul’ schmaul flings it around like it’s as concrete as the stone of Solomon’s temple.
    ————————-

    “But silly me, I can’t sleep at night, thinking about the long train of people who have left the church, one by one, hurt, troubled and sometimes angry at God.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    very sorry for the burden you have, to the point of sleeplessness.

    i often find myself singing in my mind, “The looooong aaaand wiiindiiiing road (da dahh da dahhhhhh) that leads to Your door” (as in God’s door).

    i think processing crimes against the heart on a God-level (not that God was the perpetrator) takes a long, long time. it’s natural, normal, to be expected. process is so messy — but nothing wrong with process. i can’t believe that God expects us to just snap-to, regardless.

    i hope for happiness for these people (just as i have wanted and found it for myself) as they are on their journey. every moment of happiness is like a power vitamin. gives us that much more strength for each day, the following day. just like iron-rich red meat and broccoli for dinner make me feel great the next day!

    i have often pondered the last day of my life. will i look back and say “i did it — i stood on principle. i didn’t cave. i was miserable and unhappy but i stood strong on principle.”

    what kind of life is that.

    i am hoping that on the last day of my life i will be able to say something like, “i decided for myself how to combine principle and happiness, i did my best with the mess,….”

    well, how in the world do i sum up such final statement. all to say, principle without happiness is no way to live.

    God-by-number (where the 1 areas must be red, the 2 areas must be blue, the 3 areas must be green…) and paint it now is no way to live.

    ack, now i’m really ramblin’…

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  113. elastigirl,

    I appreciate your rambling. I’m sorta at a point where I’m trying really hard to believe that doing the right thing is enough. I can’t really foresee happiness meandering my way again. Would love to hope . . .

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  114. Thomas055: https://drj1952.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/whitewashed-tombs/

    From the drj1952 blog post, about WCC & WCA:

    “It is like a family that sets no limits with a bully child and then the child acts out against a class mate. When I see that as a psychologist, I understand it as a system problem with systemic culpability. The leadership of the WCA has sinned as well, by knowing the entitled behavior of Bill and allowing it to continue to its logical end of hurting people.”

    Isn’t this at the core: the entitled child bully leader enabled and free to roam and act out? (Savage, Chantry, etc.) Leaving a trail of damage in their wake while enabled by a system?

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  115. jyjames: Isn’t this at the core: the entitled child bully leader enabled and free to roam and act out? (Savage, Chantry, etc.) Leaving a trail of damage in their wake while enabled by a system?

    Make it simple – almost any pastor can easily get away with being said bully leader. The system is the problem.

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  116. Truthseeker00: The system is the problem.

    Agree. If nothing else, WCC/WCA is a lesson (along with others: PTL, TBN, etc.).

    Saw this about someone swindled while dating their dreamboat: Charm is overrated, as well as wealth and image. Keep an eye on your own values as you date your “dream” who may turn out to be your nightmare.

    The same could be applied to “courting” a church fellowship. Warnings from Proverbs 23:

    “When you sit down to dine with a leader, consider carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are a person of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food.

    “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

    “Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, ‘Eat and drink! but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments.”

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  117. jyjames,

    What I find most troubling is we PAY them to deceive us. It’s uncanny. We paid young punks to takeover our churches. We pay insulated rock stars to be “servant/leaders” (Wink). We pay for layers of denominational bureaucracies we have no clue about. It’s really quite ingenious. Why?

    I would rather pay a scholar to teach me. I have no problem with that.

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  118. Lydia: jyjames,
    What I find most troubling is we PAY them to deceive us. It’s uncanny. We paid young punks to takeover our churches. We pay insulated rock stars to be “servant/leaders” (Wink). We pay for layers of denominational bureaucracies we have no clue about. It’s really quite ingenious. Why?

    Comrade Lenin got a kick out of making the Capitalists finance their own destruction…

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  119. Lydia: No one in that world would listen to a nobody like his former assistant — so why bother?

    The ultimate character test of the top tiers in an organization, apparently: talk to the nobodies and find out how the top tier somebodies treat them.

    Jesus: the ultimate Somebody who only had high regard for even the nobodiest of the nobodies.

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  120. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-willow-creek-summit-apology-tour-20180807-story.html#

    “I think, as of (Wednesday), a cross should go up on the church somewhere, so no person is put on a pedestal except for Christ.” (Amy Love, long-time Willow Creek member)

    That would be a step in the right direction, IMO. Bill Hybels decided not to display a cross at Willow Creek, lest it discourage seekers from attending. That was the first red flag for me 40 years ago that the Willow Creek model was off-track.

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  121. jyjames,

    It’s my #1 litmus test and has been for years in org development. Besides, it’s wise. The frontline and support nobodies are the oil in the engine and just as important. But they don’t bring big settlements for lawyers either with the issues we discuss here.

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  122. elastigirl,

    You keep asking people about God’s Glory and what it means to people. Oh, and what it looks like day to day. I am glad you are. It’s something I heard over and over at ground zero over the last 15 or so years. I can’t recall any such major emphasis on that concept before the Neo Cal resurgence in my circles. It was thrown out all the time in YRR circles as if it’s a well defined concept we should all be “instinctively” familiar with. And if you have to ask well….woe to you. 🙂 I got to the point with the YRR, it sounded more like Allah Akbar than anything resembling my pedantic “Jesus loves you and me”.

    The lesson you are demonstrating for me is, always ask tons of questions! 🙂

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  123. elastigirl,

    “so, vocally and publicly standing up for what is right, honest, and true is judging and haughtiness? and since we’ve failed we have no business standing up for what is right, etc?”

    The problem is people differ on what is right, honest and true. The good news is church is voluntary so you don’t have to put up with the disagreement on such. We can debate these things in the public square if we are brave enough to defy the thought police new Puritans, thank God!

    We all judge and I am sure it seems “haughty” to those who happen to disagree with our judgements. I don’t want government regulating or thought policing churches as I have the option to leave to go elsewhere. It’s when my options to have differing views are taken away that chill me.

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  124. I’m still waiting to hear something from the Andy Stanley empire about his fallen mentor.

    Considering that Craig Groeschel is/was one of Andy’s former business partners (Catalyst). According to the landing page, Craig was featured this year at GLS 2018.
    Andy speaks at Catalyst.
    Bill was featured as a keynote last year at Catalyst.

    It continues to highlight how embedded their relationship is. So…what did Andy or Craig “know?” The reach these guys have via their conferences is…astounding.

    https://www.ourchurch.com/blog/2009/07/30/why-willow-creek-and-saddleback-are-losing-influence-while-north-point-and-lifechurchtv-are-gaining-influence/ Interesting article that connects the dots (if you can get past the fan-dom)

    http://www.willowcreek.com/events/Leadership/ shows Craig Groeschel featured on the landing page

    https://www.jmlalonde.com/catalyst-atlanta-2017-recap/ shows Andy & Bill on platform at Catalyst Atlanta 2017

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  125. Lydia: elastigirl,

    “so, vocally and publicly standing up for what is right, honest, and true is judging and haughtiness? and since we’ve failed we have no business standing up for what is right, etc?”

    The problem is people differ on what is right, honest and true. The good news is church is voluntary so you don’t have to put up with the disagreement on such. We can debate these things in the public square if we are brave enough to defy the thought police new Puritans, thank God!

    We all judge and I am sure it seems “haughty” to those who happen to disagree with our judgements. I don’t want government regulating or thought policing churches as I have the option to leave to go elsewhere. It’s when my options to have differing views are taken away that chill me.

    Amen to that! May I quote you to my spouse, who still cannot fathom why I believe our former church was a cult? When a person cannot have his or her own opinions, cannot challenge what appears to be illogical or untrue or cannot seek open and respectful debate on ANY issue, the institution is a cult, whether it is called a church, America or anything else.

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  126. Truthseeker00,

    Good luck. Most people don’t want to know. To give you an example. Some Historians have asserted through research on available information at the time that still exists that approximately only 30% of Americans were on board with our Revolution in the early days. Some were loyalists, others fence sitters, etc. Yet, that 30% plowed on through much adversity.

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  127. I am thankful to have this open forum where many can share genuine concerns about what’s happening in the family of God. It’s one of the ways to make accountability work without malice or mind control. There is no doubt that unhealthy things exist that hurt the church family, and such factors need to be diagnosed spiritually so proper remedies can be applied. When a group is called a church, or when a person is called a pastor/elder/leader, it’s even more critical that they operate in the Light based on the Life of the Son of God. We are not helping anyone if we keep hiding things in the shadows or worse yet, in total darkness.

    On a side note, WCC still needs more prayers so the repenting process will not be cheapened or shortened. WCA needs prayers for sure since they keep calling the sins of the leaders “missteps, mistakes” etc. as if these were external procedural issues only. These are indeed character and spiritual issues that need internal surgery and detoxification. To bypass God’s purification process is to pass on the germs/virus to all who participate in the WCA and the Global Christian leaders. A serious matter indeed!

    Perhaps we can also pray for the GLS attendees so they can be weaned from such milk? Even Elijah only served His purpose for a season. No one should be our permanent help on earth but Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    Thank you for letting me share these thoughts.

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  128. Lydia: Some Historians have asserted through research on available information at the time that still exists that approximately only 30% of Americans were on board with our Revolution in the early days. Some were loyalists, others fence sitters, etc.

    That makes sense to me. I have never heard any numbers regarding who was on board and who wasn’t in the materials I’ve read. But it was always clear that there were many loyalists. It makes sense that there were fence sitters.

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  129. Lydia: . I don’t want government regulating or thought policing churches as I have the option to leave to go elsewhere.

    Nor do I want them meddling in church affairs. But on the other hand, when libertarian types wanna’ privatize the public water supply for profit, I’m damn glad to have government stand in their way.

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  130. elastigirl: care to take a stab at ‘what is God’s glory?’

    I think it’s a purely subjective thing.

    When I travel far down into Baja, where my old flip-phone says No Service and the star fields at night are so densely arrayed that you (generic you) can hardly pick out the big and little bears; that to me is Glory.

    And when I consider that it was Jesus himself who wove the whole fabric together as master craftsman and magician (Book of Colossians), what’s not to glory?

    But on the other hand, the concept of ‘glory’ can get abused (my opinion) in christianese circles. You (generic you) cannot accept any credit or any accolades for the good stuff you do. All credit and hence ‘glory’, must go to God.

    As a father and grandfather who delights in the good stuff my kids do, I have no need to bask in or commandeer their own strengths. They are there own glories.

    But that still doesn’t answer your original query ‘what is God’s glory?’.
    I’m at a loss there elastigirl, I don’t there is a hard and fast rigorous definition.

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  131. elastigirl,

    Bwahahaha! You are relentless! Years ago I did a quick cursory look around the Old Testament about that but I can’t remember much except for the fact I Thought the YRR were overdoing it out of context. And the computer I used to store the notes for that is in the computer graveyard.

    my preferred rules of the game is to read everything within its historical context to get a bigger picture with applications*. Then there is what is written about God in the flesh that rarely mapped to their usage of “Glorifying God”. It was just one of the many Clues that led me to having a huge problem with ESS.

    (We aren’t following a cloud through the desert….kind of thing. )

    I think one reason it’s real popular to say in certain circles is because it’s in a lot of Reformed Catechism’s. (Is that the plural?)

    I think you get extra points for telling people. 🙂

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  132. Muff Potter,

    “…the star fields at night are so densely arrayed that you (generic you) can hardly pick out the big and little bears; that to me is Glory.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    thank you, muff. i like it.

    gimme some of that glory, considering that the tiny pin prick twinkle in the night sky that i can see from my kitchen window (& which can see me) is the only one that shines through.

    just told my kids i want to take them somewhere in the hinterlands where you can see the ‘billions’…. during a meteor shower!

    could do death valley, select spots in the Sierras (well, not at the moment),… or, Baja. only been on the pacific coast parts — i imagine the glory places are in the middle somewhere? sounds like grand adventure.
    —–

    yes, my thinking is coming together in that there is no hard and fast definition for “God’s glory”.

    i’m thinking it’s simply a convenient word for “God is too marvelous and crazy for words”.

    Given Paul’s experiences (bright light, voice on road to Damascus, the impact of it all; “such a one was caught up to the third heaven”, who perhaps was himself), i imagine he’d have to grasp for some kind of word to describe it all, even if just to himself. “Glory”… sure, why not.

    ‘third heaven’… i expect that term, too, was simply a matter of doing the best articulation one could with too marvelous and crazy, beyond categorization.

    …which i would apply to his thinking/writing in general. it’s helpful. it’s Paul’s thesis. too filmy and infinitesimal to be God’s thesis.

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  133. Lydia,

    extra points for telling people they’re only repeating language they’ve been programmed to when someone presses the button? and when they press their own button themselves?

    what fun!

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  134. Max: Are there two “Truthseeker”s commenting on TWW?

    Alas, yes; until I can figure out how to change my moniker on all my devices! Might just try for 00

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  135. Lydia: I think one reason it’s real popular to say in certain circles is because it’s in a lot of Reformed Catechism’s. (Is that the plural?)

    I think you get extra points for telling people.

    True! Along with ‘The Regulative Principle of Worship’ or ‘the safety in the plurality of elders’. However, the most bonus points go for anything to do with ‘divinely instituted authority’.

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  136. elastigirl: Lydia,

    extra points for telling people they’re only repeating language they’ve been programmed to when someone presses the button? and when they press their own button themselves?

    what fun!

    Honest to God I just said that (okay, words to that affect) to my spouse yesterday when the usual regurgitated lines spewed forth at the appropriate place. I even mimed ‘pushing the button’! There is no ‘discussion’ with a brainwashed Reformed believer, simply recitation of their memorized script. They can’t help it; they were forced to turn off their minds and submit to the authority of the elders. But don’t worry, it’s ‘safe’. 😉

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  137. Muff Potter: But that still doesn’t answer your original query ‘what is God’s glory?’.

    It is simply doublespeak for ‘The end justifies the means’.

    If it can be claimed to bring God glory, then, whatever it is, who can deride it? Rape, murder, nuclear bombs – hey, it’s all for the ‘glory of God’, so it’s all good. Bring it on, more ‘glory’! It is simply a trigger word, that allows miscreants to abuse others.

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  138. elastigirl:
    Lydia,

    thank you, lydia.

    care to take a stab at ‘what is God’s glory?’

    I’m not Lydia, but I too have found the “glory of God” a phrase that is often undefined and could be made to mean many things in many circumstances.

    I like to let church history speak on this one. One of my favorite early church writers, Irenaeus of Lyons, has a fantastic quote that I now use all the time: “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

    I love that.

    It is obviously applicable to Jesus first, as he is the one fully alive, and then to us in the resurrection.

    Jim G.

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  139. Jim G.,

    hey! all kinds of feedback today! wow.

    i really like that: “The Glory of God is man fully alive.”

    it’s not obvious to me that it is applicable to Jesus first. did Irenaeus clarify that?

    if it’s only applicable to us in the resurrection, it’s a pretty useless term.

    i don’t believe that Jesus’ resurrection impacts us only in the hereafter. there are very practical things here and now. our lives here and now matter, to God as much as to us. glory, whatever it is, has to have something to do with life now.

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  140. elastigirl: yes, my thinking is coming together in that there is no hard and fast definition for “God’s glory”.

    I think you are right. I used to think there had to be one correct definition for all of these things, but just opening my eyes to the variety around me made me reconsider. Unless the 99.9% plus of the world who don’t see things like me are hopelessly wrong, then there have to be multiple ways to look at all sorts of things.

    There is a quote by St. Irenaeus, “ The glory of God is man fully alive.” As I read this quote, I think that he is saying that since God is the creator, his glory is the creation being absolutely itself.

    I’ve spent a lot of time reading and listening to the Trinitarian group of theologians. There are a whole group of people like Baxter Kruger who studied with JB and TF Torrance in Scotland who have a unique outlook that I have found interesting. They seem to think of glory as something being completely itself. So, your glory as a person is being whatever makes you uniquely you. Along this line of thinking, God’s glory is every person living out of their true self, as Brennan Manning would say, and becoming mature in that truth.

    I think that what we truly believe isn’t what we say we believe, but what we embody or act out. What we incarnate, to use Christian language. I’m trying to live out this belief of God’s glory. I’ll let you know how it goes…

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  141. Max: Are you the long-time TWW “Truthseeker” or recent addition to the family?

    I don’t know if I qualify as ‘long-time’, but I have been commenting (probably too much!) for quite a few months, and lurking much longer. Just noticed the other Truthseeker somewhat recently. The first time, I was like, ‘Whoa, when did I say that?’ Then I realized it wasn’t me! 😉 Just got all my devices synced so I don’t have to try and remember my password, but may try to change my moniker. Any suggestions?

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  142. Ricco,

    “They seem to think of glory as something being completely itself. So, your glory as a person is being whatever makes you uniquely you. Along this line of thinking, God’s glory is every person living out of their true self, as Brennan Manning would say, and becoming mature in that truth.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    this is my lucky day!

    i really like this. living my true self, and maturing into my true self. i mean, God is always God’s true self — why not us?

    i think i’ll just dispense with “give God glory”, “glorify God”, and doing something “for God’s glory”. the statements seem so meaningless. and they sure sound so silly but only because they are usually accompanied by a head tilted slightly up and at an angle, with a far away in look in the eye.

    pretentious poopooheads

    (going with whatever words pop into my mind — i’ve got angst and frustration to burn — been on hold for 2 1/2 hours with an airline which cancelled relatives’ international flight who need to be home tomorrow)

    such a great maxim — living one’s true self and maturing into it more and more. (john piper’s going to hate the result, i can tell you that! with pleasure)

    let’s all do it — and report back.

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  143. elastigirl: God’s glory is every person living out of their true self

    Exactly. God’s glory is God being God. God’s glory is each one of us being the unique person we were created to be. It was the realization, with breaking heart, that my pastor, church and even husband were attempting to stem God’s glory – to keep me from being me – that I knew I had to get free.

    I still have a long way to go, and sometimes it seems as if I have wasted my whole life and have nothing to show for it. And yet . . . I am in the process of rediscovering me; of thinking my own thoughts, allowing my beliefs to grow and adapt to new insight and information and not being forced to submit to the authority of so many who want to tell me what to think, do and be. Still kind of scary as I try to figure out the next step, but I know God will provide as he always has, one step at a time.

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  144. Just noting that there is a lot of interesting information on Vonda Dyer’s facebook page, with many former staffers commenting concerning NDA’s, Bill’s gestapo, The Elder Response team and much more. Then there is the former staffer that states that Hybels was ‘Ivan the Terrible’. This stuff needs to come out into the open.

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  145. elastigirl,

    I don’t think Irenaeus clarified in a succinct statement, but his whole message was that the very God became one of us for our sakes. As the very-God-become-human, he would have been a man fully alive, because there could be no death in him (until of course he took it into himself).

    We are not fully alive until the resurrection, because death works in us until then. That is not to say that we do not enjoy some of the blessings and power of full and eternal life now. We are alive; we are not yet fully alive. We are now the glory of God in part; then in full.

    Does that make sense?

    Jim G.

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  146. “The glory of God is man fully alive”

    I love that, too. It reasonates with something NT Wright talked about that articulated a conclusion I had come to but couldn’t explain well. He said something to the effect of, ‘the more evil we are/do, the less human we are’ (and visa versa with good)

    This goes back to creation, IMO . What we were created “as” and that being human was meant to be good. So ‘being fully alive’ seems to follow that thinking. It’s a far cry from the typical Christian thinking that we can’t help but do wrong/evil all the time as if we have no choice. (And it’s not about being perfect, either!)
    Jim G.,

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  147. elastigirl:
    Lydia,

    extra points for telling people they’re only repeating language they’ve been programmed to when someone presses the button?and when they press their own button themselves?

    what fun!

    I never get extra points! Thank you!

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  148. Truthseeker00: It is simply doublespeak for ‘The end justifies the means’.

    If it can be claimed to bring God glory, then, whatever it is, who can deride it? Rape, murder, nuclear bombs – hey, it’s all for the ‘glory of God’, so it’s all good. Bring it on, more ‘glory’! It is simply a trigger word, that allows miscreants to abuse others.

    Didn’t Piper describe The Glory of God as a tower coming down while a guest in Dubai? He made a video of it standing in front of the tower—then later deleted it.

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  149. Truthseeker00: Max: Are you the long-time TWW “Truthseeker” or recent addition to the family?

    I don’t know if I qualify as ‘long-time’, but I have been commenting (probably too much!) for quite a few months, and lurking much longer. Just noticed the other Truthseeker somewhat recently. The first time, I was like, ‘Whoa, when did I say that?’ Then I realized it wasn’t me! Just got all my devices synced so I don’t have to try and remember my password, but may try to change my moniker. Any suggestions?

    Just wanted to let you know that I am now posting as TS00 instead of Truthseeker00. Too much confusion.

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  150. elastigirl,

    “i don’t believe that Jesus’ resurrection impacts us only in the hereafter. there are very practical things here and now. our lives here and now matter, to God as much as to us. glory, whatever it is, has to have something to do with life now.”

    I think it does for those who take it seriously. In a badly communicated birds eye view sort of explanation here goes: we are still born “dying” and into a corrupted earth. The fullness of “alive” comes in eternity. The partly alive comes from our own little corners of the world.

    More blood has been shed and evil done when we try and force people to into our boxes of what we think is overall “good” for everyone. .

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  151. birdoftheair,

    And these are excellent thoughts.

    “WCA needs prayers for sure since
    they keep calling the sins of the leaders “missteps, mistakes” etc.
    as if these were external procedural issues only.
    These are indeed character and spiritual issues
    that need internal surgery and detoxification.
    To bypass God’s purification process
    is to pass on the germs/virus to all who participate
    in the WCA and the Global Christian leaders.
    A serious matter indeed!

    Perhaps we can also pray for the GLS attendees
    so they can be weaned from such milk?
    Even Elijah only served His purpose for a season.
    No one should be our permanent help on earth
    but Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”

    “Thank you for letting me share these thoughts.”

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  152. elastigirl: gimme some of that glory, considering that the tiny pin prick twinkle in the night sky that i can see from my kitchen window (& which can see me) is the only one that shines through.

    According to Psalm 8, you’ve already been crowned with glory and honour.
    So the next time somebody tries to skewer your guts with how you can never be ‘good enough’ for God and can never accept any accolade for the good stuff you do, parry the thrust with Psalm 8.

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  153. jyjames,

    From the link concerning WC elder:

    “He advised the women to seek “two or three witnesses”, 1 Timothy 5:19, as Scripture requires in order to bring forth an allegation against a senior leader.”

    The Patterson playbook to defend Gilyard at an egalitarian church!

    “This founding elder did not mention to the women accusers, as far as I know, that the Old Testament accepts a woman’s account of sexual abuse as a stand-alone account and without the requirement of “two or three witnesses”. This scriptural passage, Deuteronomy 22:25-27, is a counterbalance to and a more pertinent passage to address sexual abuse than his advice to seek “two or three witnesses”.

    I have become suspicious that the sub chapter in Daniel of Suzanna was left out of the OT on purpose! It refutes the 3 rule, too. And includes evil elders!

    https://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/apo/sus001.htm

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  154. Max,

    “Well, for me, the glory of God has been the continued revelation of who Jesus is.”

    thank you, max.

    how would you apply that to doing something “for the glory of God”? or would you scrap that concept altogether?

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  155. @ Lydia and jyjames:

    Both Luther and Erasmus said that the apocrypha are good and profitable to read, and even the King James Bible of 1611 included them.
    So how did they get removed?
    Who and why?

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  156. Muff Potter,

    I don’t know enough about it and would probably look to Ancients scholars first for info. It’s very confusing. I am not even sure that what we call the Apocrypha is agreed upon by all factions. Sounds like an interesting research project for someone with plenty of time!

    The Westminster Confession says this

    The books commonly called the Apocrypha . . . [are not] to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings (Westminster Confession 1:3).

    (Makes me want to read it more!) lol.

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  157. Lydia,

    “The books commonly called the Apocrypha . . . [are not] to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings (Westminster Confession 1:3).”
    ++++++++++++++

    so, not unlike Oswald Chambers, John Piper, and all the other human writings pumped into people by the RightNow Media feeding tube, then.

    i’ve known people who tout Oswald Chambers as their daily devotions — not the bible — and who, at the mention of “The Apocrypha”, would probably make the sign of the cross with 2 fingers and slowly walk backwards (careful…careful…), then run for their lives!!

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  158. Lydia: What’s the “RightNow” media?

    Matt Chandler calls is the Christian version of Netflix. Here is what you get when you search for “arminianiam” – https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Search?q=arminianism. This will tell you almost everything you need to know. They have UMC resources, so they are not solely Calvinistic, but the vast majority of video there is from Calvinist sources. I don’t know if that is on purpose or just the result of New-Calvinists flooding the market.

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  159. Lydia: What’s the “RightNow” media?

    As Ken notes, predominantly New Calvinist resources used to subtly plant reformed theology in Southern Baptist ranks and elsewhere. Most SBC churches in my area subscribe to it, many of them trusting it since it is endorsed by LifeWay (a mistake). Links to the latest and greatest teachings by reformed icons – lots of video and book selections to indoctrinate, primarily targeting Generations X, Y & Z. Yet another brilliant strategy by the New Calvinists to plant their theology in as many churches as possible. These folks are serious about the new reformation!

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  160. Lydia: The Westminster Confession says this

    The books commonly called the Apocrypha . . . [are not] to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings (Westminster Confession 1:3).

    (Makes me want to read it more!) lol.

    I’m currently reading the Book of Enoch. Not included in the sacred canon, but interesting apocalyptic writing that has been in circulation for centuries.

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  161. “Bill Hybels and the WCA are so organically enmeshed that it is impossible to think of one without the other. He envisioned it, championed its’ inception and development, and was the principle figurehead from year to year. To act like he is just a pastor who may or may not have had moral failure is beyond incomprehensible. The very DNA of the GLS has BH’s imprint, so that when he leaves it is a cataclysmic shift that cannot be denied. Minimizing it as like any other situation where a pastor leaves should insult the intelligence of everyone that comes to the GLS. Do they think that they can in so cavalier a way quickly insert some minimalist statement about a man who created and was the driving force behind the WCA and the GLS? Apparently yes.

    How about explaining to the thousands of participants how a man, an icon of leadership championing, can participate and teach about leadership for so long when he violated almost every healthy element of being a good leader? Does the WCA really believe that people are that naive? BH sat under the instruction of countless experts on what comprises a healthy leader and organization, while at the same time using entitlement as an excuse for sexually abusing women. And he created a governance model that was as repressive as any despotic government structure. There are well over 250 stories (and growing) of people who experienced coercive abuse either as employees or congregants at Willow. These stories are beginning to congeal into a picture of a ruthless leader who used fear and shame to impose his will on all that were subject to his authority.

    Should the participants in the GLS be told about the real way that Willow operated? How can an organization like the WCA put on a GLS when it’s sponsoring parent, WCCC, violated so many principles of healthy leadership and healthy organizational structure? Should they be called out for this hypocrisy? ABSOLUTELY! But the poor victims, the WCA, are taking criticism for this “controversy”. Give me a break! Attenders should be warned that they have been led by someone who spoke about leadership but was not a healthy leader. How can this happen, that a leadership conference can be led by someone who was hardly affected in a positive way by the very conference that he created? This man who is inseparable from the DNA of the WCA and the GLS is treated like a common person who can just be sent away with very little in the way of an explanation for the complete hypocrisy of the whole sordid situation. The WCA wants to push through, make some bland statement that explains it all away, control the narrative, and then fast charge into the next chapter of the GLS.”

    Excerpt from a very insightful blog following the Willow Creek scenario:

    https://drj1952.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/slip-sliding-away/#comment-30

    I would recommend this, along with other WC posts. I am very curious as to the ‘250 stories and growing’ concerning abuse of authority at WC.

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  162. elastigirl: Max,

    “Well, for me, the glory of God has been the continued revelation of who Jesus is.”

    thank you, max.

    how would you apply that to doing something “for the glory of God”? or would you scrap that concept altogether?

    Well, acting like a Christian in my interactions with folks is a starter! The more Jesus is revealed to me, the more I desire to make the invisible God visible to others by what I do and say and how I do it. I realize that my “doing” will not bring God any more glory than He already has, but perhaps it’s some small reflection back His way from my small spot on the planet.

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  163. Here is another informative blog from a Willow Creek Insider:https://robsp82.com/

    I would love to see the Deebs interact with some of these insiders, who know a lot about what has gone on behind the scenes all these years, and are asking hard questions. The problems at Willow Creek go much deeper than Hybels displaying inappropriate behavior with a few women. The entire structure of the organization, along with the WCA needs to be evaluated. The NDA’s, severance packages and the gestapo like Elder Response Team need to be exposed. We need to be calling for a lot more honesty and confession.

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  164. Bea: Bob Buford

    It continues to amaze me that Buford and his “Leadership Network” has escaped attention in the blogosphere. Driscoll used to say that the Leadership Network essentially spawned the emergent church movement. I wonder if they influenced the New Calvinist movement as well?

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  165. elastigirl,

    I did not understand your post on Oswald Chambers, John Piper and the RightNow media…Here I only wish to focus on O. Chambers’ teaching which I am more familiar with.

    Regarding hyper-Calvinism, I have a problem with it. Ephesians 1:4 says God chose us “in Christ” before the foundation of the world. So the so-called predestination only makes sense if we know we are not chosen in any way outside of Christ. In Christ we can all be chosen according to John 3:16- ” …that whosoever believes in Him (God’s Son) will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    I have read Chambers’ material extensively, all of which points to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross as our only path of redemption. OC devotional can not replace the Bible, but it helps people understand the Bible better in application to real life and the transformation of the soul.

    No intention to start any debate regarding various preachers here. I am not too familiar with Piper’s preaching though I know he is famous. My post emphasizes the importance of a pure heart and humble spirit as we try to do this church thing. May the Cross be lifted up! Glory to the Lamb of God!

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  166. Max: The more Jesus is revealed to me, the more I desire to make the invisible God visible to others by what I do and say and how I do it.

    God must become more visible and I a bit less so. Lovely. Thanks, Max. John 3:30.

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  167. TS00: Here is another informative blog from a Willow Creek Insider:https://robsp82.com/

    From the blogger’s response to comments:

    “When senior leaders of Willow perceived that an employee could disclose unsavory information about Willow that led to their departure, they issued “severance for silence” compensation. = Brand Protection”

    This is how WCC uses tithes and offerings. Unreal. Another thing for churches to learn from this. Put in the by-laws that tithes will never be used like this. Also for the by-laws, independent investigations of improprieties. And mandatory reporting of sexual harassment and child abuse to law enforcement. Etc. Clean it up.

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  168. TS00: How about explaining to the thousands of participants how a man, an icon of leadership championing, can participate and teach about leadership for so long when he violated almost every healthy element of being a good leader?

    New acronym: GPLS for Global Predator Leadership Summit.

    See https://esmartinonline.wordpress.com/ for the picture. Incomprehensible. Some of the predation was with young people and new hires, as there were ties to Wheaton.

    It’s really difficult to fathom. In my youth, I was involved with Inter-Varsity, Campus Crusade, Navigators, YWAM, Urbana, studied at L’Abri, attended a Christian college, etc. Never, ever saw this type of behavior nor heard of such. There were tales of weird “Jesus People”-like cults but everyone seeking Jesus knew that inappropriate touch OR drug use – especially from/sanctioned by leadership, meant, “Stay away!”

    Friends, what is wrong here? Did we throw out the baby with the bathwater – did we toss out
    our values when we left tradition behind? We don’t need traditions, but values should be a deal-breaker – the core, a pillar.

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  169. Ken F (aka Tweed): There are many competing theories among Christians on so many topics. It makes my head swim.

    I don’t get it. The Apocrypha were in the LXX and in the original King James Bible of 1611.
    What are they (chrislamics*) so afraid of?

    *chrislam, a good general term for what happened to some of Western Protestantism from the 17th century onward, reaching its extreme forms in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

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  170. Max: Bea: Bob Buford

    It continues to amaze me that Buford and his “Leadership Network” has escaped attention in the blogosphere. Driscoll used to say that the Leadership Network essentially spawned the emergent church movement. I wonder if they influenced the New Calvinist movement as well?

    I suspect that all of these big names dangle on the strings of the same puppet master.

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  171. jyjames: This is how WCC uses tithes and offerings. Unreal. Another thing for churches to learn from this. Put in the by-laws that tithes will never be used like this. Also for the by-laws, independent investigations of improprieties. And mandatory reporting of sexual harassment and child abuse to law enforcement. Etc. Clean it up.

    The thing is, these deeper systemic problems are not being very widely exposed. I fear we are simply going to get a ‘Naughty Billy’ scenario, with a few fresh faces to carry on as usual. That would be tragic, allowing not only the sexual abuse to continue, but all sorts of other systemic spiritual abuse and wealth building for false teachers.

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  172. Muff Potter: *chrislam, a good general term for what happened to some of Western Protestantism from the 17th century onward, reaching its extreme forms in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

    I would appreciate a fuller explanation of what you are pointing to. Deeply interested.

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  173. Gary Boswell,

    The week after Hybels’ resignation, John Maxwell wrote a tweet advertising that he was happy to be in Hybels’ presence as they were en route to an African country to teach on leadership. #tonedeafchristianleaders

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  174. birdoftheair,

    “I did not understand your post on Oswald Chambers, John Piper and the RightNow media…Here I only wish to focus on O. Chambers’ teaching which I am more familiar with.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    well, i’ve observed some people quote Oswald Chambers (John Piper, & others) as if their words are on par with scripture. it’s bothered me. (especially since i think piper is dangerous, obnoxious, falsely modest, on a power trip…)

    it’s bothered me because, well, it’s one thing to insist that one’s own interpretation of scripture is the one true way. it’s a whole new level to believe that someone else’s thoughts on someone’s interpretation represent the one true way, as if they are nigh unto inspired/inerrant/infallible. as if all christians must naturally and heartily agree with it all.

    this may not be you, but it is some people.
    ————–

    i’ve observed churches provide Rightnow Media and a bevy of books to their attenders/members. it’s like they want to cram them full of other people’s thoughts. and i observe people willingly do it.

    christian culture = turning off one’s own thoughts and replacing them with other people’s thoughts.

    one reason i’ve opted out of church attendance is that it feels so darn cultic. people say the same things, with the same inflection, like they’ve been programmed… like many a dystopian movie i’ve seen in the last several years.
    ——-

    and finally, these same people would look concerned and alarmed should i mention the apocrypha (that is, if they were even aware there was such a thing). they miss the fact that they’re already drunk on all manner of extrabiblical material to begin with.

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  175. jyjames,

    I don’t know whether to feel pity or empathy for such members who actually STILL think, any leaders at WC will take their advice. Yes, even in a crisis. That is not how the system works. I am sure he will receive a flowery response.

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  176. Bea: Bob Buford and the elephant in the room, Peter DRUCKER

    They were catalysts for the Church Growth Movement and major influencers of contemporary-church and mega-church … for better or worse. Warren, Driscoll, Keller and others consider them leadership mentors. The emergent church movement originated within their leadership network, mega method can be traced there, “contemporary” church was birthed under their influence.

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  177. elastigirl: well, i’ve observed some people quote Oswald Chambers (John Piper, & others) as if their words are on par with scripture. it’s bothered me. (especially since i think piper is dangerous, obnoxious, falsely modest, on a power trip…)

    it’s bothered me because, well, it’s one thing to insist that one’s own interpretation of scripture is the one true way. it’s a whole new level to believe that someone else’s thoughts on someone’s interpretation represent the one true way, as if they are nigh unto inspired/inerrant/infallible. as if all christians must naturally and heartily agree with it all.

    this may not be you, but it is some people.
    ————–

    i’ve observed churches provide Rightnow Media and a bevy of books to their attenders/members. it’s like they want to cram them full of other people’s thoughts. and i observe people willingly do it.

    christian culture = turning off one’s own thoughts and replacing them with other people’s thoughts.

    one reason i’ve opted out of church attendance is that it feels so darn cultic. people say the same things, with the same inflection, like they’ve been programmed… like many a dystopian movie i’ve seen in the last several years.
    ——-

    and finally, these same people would look concerned and alarmed should i mention the apocrypha (that is, if they were even aware there was such a thing). they miss the fact that they’re already drunk on all manner of extrabiblical material to begin with.

    This is so spot on! This is EXACTLY what I see in the evangelical world. People are literally – not metaphorically – mind controlled by being subtly led to turn off their own minds and replace legitimate, meditative reasoning with adopting on faith the beliefs and words of others.

    One simply cannot have a legitimate discussion with a brainwashed fundagelical. They do not think, they do not listen to what you say, compare it to what they now believe, hold it up to scripture and see if there is any truth therein. No, they punch in the keyword to their Reformed ‘google’ and spurt out the answer that comes up.

    I do not say this to be unkind or spiteful. I am very, very sorry for these people. Most have no idea what has happened to them. For many, this is the same process tha occurs in every area of their lives, as they have been programmed from the earliest days of public school to adopt whatever prepackaged information was served to them. That is what I could never do. I simply could not give up my mind, or keep my big mouth shut when a teacher said something that was, to me, obviously absurd or unprovable.

    Yet, even I succumbed to much of the crowd control in a spiritually toxic church, because I wanted to belong. We end up far from family, looking for a community, and we find ourselves very susceptible to those in so-called churches who hold the keys to access to their community. It is time such things were more commonly understood. Social psychology knows much about how this works, but the average guy in the pew is ignorant and ripe for abuse. Even ‘smarty pants’ like me, who think no one can push me around.

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  178. Max: They were catalysts for the Church Growth Movement and major influencers of contemporary-church and mega-church … for better or worse. Warren, Driscoll, Keller and others consider them leadership mentors. The emergent church movement originated within their leadership network, mega method can be traced there, “contemporary” church was birthed under their influence.

    And all of it is a ‘program for success’, a ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ for Jesus. They sold their souls to the Devil, and we are surprised when narcissism, deception and abuse arise within their ranks.

    They took over The Church (if it wasn’t Satan’s organization all along). Now those who truly seek God and desire to do his will are going to have to look for another way. Or perhaps simply return to The Way, The Truth and The Life, minus all the hoopla.

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  179. TS00: They do not think, they do not listen to what you say, compare it to what they now believe, hold it up to scripture and see if there is any truth therein.

    The ultimate goal of those who indoctrinate! Your words describe the typical follower of “Christian” celebrities, denominational doctrine, and religious practice/belief … regardless of theological flavor. But there has been an awful outbreak of such mind-control in New Calvinism.

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  180. I saw a pastor I knew in college posting about going to the GLS, and I’m scratching my head, thinking, ‘Do you not know anything about what has gone on behind closed doors?’ What is the matter with people? Why would anyone have anything to do with Willow Creek or any of its organizations ever again? It is not simply a matter of a ‘fallen leader’ – It was built upon a lie, by a charlatan, using abusive practices! How can people not get that? Perhaps because the media is not exposing the true root of power and money based manipulation and control. By simply focusing on the sexual abuse aspect of the evil that has taken place there the bigger picture is being missed. Don’t get me wrong, the abuse of women is genuinely evil and needs to be called out, but it is merely the tip of the iceberg. I believe this is true of all of the other sexual abuse cases, in the Catholic Church, SBC, SGM and every other Church that is swarming with abuse. Those who are evil, and gain control of others, will always eventually use those others for their own perverse pleasure, whatever it might be.

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  181. Max,

    –“Well, for me, the glory of God has been the continued revelation of who Jesus is.”

    –“how would you apply that to doing something “for the glory of God”? or would you scrap that concept altogether?”

    –“Well, acting like a Christian in my interactions with folks is a starter! The more Jesus is revealed to me, the more I desire to make the invisible God visible to others by what I do and say and how I do it. …but perhaps it’s some small reflection back His way from my small spot on the planet.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    so, kind of like letting some of the glowy gold light out yourself, wherever you are on the planet.

    reminds me a bit of the movie “Cocoon”. love that movie.

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  182. TS00: They took over The Church

    Hmmm … perhaps there is a “deep state” in the American church which is manipulating it to the point that both pulpit and pew are under its control without realizing it. And whose work would that be?

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  183. Max: I have a burden to see that happen in the American church.

    So, truly, do I, with the slight difference, perhaps, that I do not really expect the ‘institution’ to reform. I do not believe that most, if any, of the institutions of men serve God. For instance, I have little faith in the Institutions of men that are called Government, School, Science or Medicine. Not to step on any toes, for most of us live, work and/or put our trust in some or all of these Institutions. Let me say clearly, that within all of these institutions there function genuine, well-meaning people who love others and seek to help them. I truly believe this, while at the same time not trusting the structure or leadership of the Institutions themselves. Whenever an Institution becomes for profit – and nearly all are, even The supposedly non-profit Church – they have sold their soul to the devil.

    There are countless men, women and children within this institution called the American Church who truly desire to please God, but have been misled and deceived into believing that ‘doing church’ is how one pleases God. They have been brainwashed into believing that the ‘worship’ God seeks has something to do with how we sing songs once a week. They have been deceived into thinking that ‘seeking understanding’ means sitting for 30 minutes once a week – maybe add in a bible study or a podcast or two. I consider it very unlikely that the Institutional Church will give up this deception.

    I do not pretend to perceive the individual motives of individuals within the Institutional Church. I do not deny for a moment that there exist, within it, people with pure hearts and honest motivations to serve God. But once they begin to resist the voice of the Spirit; once they begin to ignore the red flags that warn them of something amiss, they are in danger of exchanging the truth for a lie, and becoming the hopelessly deceived and even reprobate of Romans 1. This can happen to a pastor, as well as each and every person in the pew. The American Church demonstrates what it looks like when this happens on a wide scale.

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  184. Bea: Rick Warren, Bob Buford and the elephant in the room, Peter DRUCKER!

    To weave the thread back to the blog topic re: Hybels:

    “In the church world, if your ministry has been impacted by Rick Warren and Saddleback Church, Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel, or Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church, then you’ve also been influenced by Drucker, who developed a significant mentoring relationship with each of these leaders and organizations.”
    http://leadnet.org/how-evangelical-leaders-can-spend-a-year-learning-from-peter-drucker/

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  185. Max: Hmmm … perhaps there is a “deep state” in the American church which is manipulating it to the point that both pulpit and pew are under its control without realizing it. And whose work would that be?

    Honestly, Max, that is exactly what I believe God has been ‘pushing’ me into seeing over the last handful of years. You can substitute whatever words are not Trigger words – because the enemy has created so many of those – but the unseen hand of the institutions of this world does not belong to God. Scripture warns us of this, but we continue to deny it. Much of this deception has occurred by positing ‘The Institutional Church’ as The Body of Christ, thus worthy of our trust and participation.

    Try taking away ‘Church’ from the average ‘Christian’ and see how loudly they yell. It is all they know. Nor am I insensitive to how difficult and painful it is to have one’s eyes opened to these things. And lonely. Sometimes I feel like Jeremiah, and find myself asking God, ‘Why me? I’m no prophet. Why can’t you just leave me alone and let me be happy in my delusions, like my spouse?’ 😉 First you take away School, then Medicine, then Science, Business and lastly, heartbreakingly, Church. What is left when you give up on the Institutions of this world?

    Simply God. And faith in Him alone. Maybe that’s what he really wants from us.

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  186. Max,

    And to get back on topic, that is why, although sad, I am not shocked at discovering his deception. Some would call me cynical, but I simply believe my eyes are open. I no longer see men such as Hybels, Driscoll, Mahaney, Piper, or Mohler as God’s servants to lead ‘His Church’. Take it back further. Why do we put such implicit faith in the trustworthiness of Augustine, Constantine, Luther and Calvin? There is actually a good deal of objective scholarship that points to the same sorts of serious sin and abuse of others in these men’s lives. Yet it is simply unthinkable to suggest that they were all deceived or self-seeking deceivers . . . isn’t it? Maybe those loony scholars who suggest that The Institutional Church has always been about power, money and control are not so far off?

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  187. TS00,

    “Yet, even I succumbed to much of the crowd control in a spiritually toxic church, …Even ‘smarty pants’ like me, who think no one can push me around.”
    +++++++++++++++

    me, too. i’m completely horrified to admit this.

    natural-born free spirit, no one tells me what to do, i’ll do what i want because i want to, don’t give one of those flying ficks what ‘you’ think… and i somehow let others control my thinking. how could this be….

    for me, the logical processes that helped me down this road were (1) “Jesus suffered so much, and i’m complaining about this?!?”;

    and (2) a chain is only as strong as its weakest link — i wasn’t going to be the weak link. God simply deserved my best and my all.

    this” could be any number of things a church leader would say/do, a “rule”, or a general feeling about the dynamics of the place, that gave me pause. i ended up righteously ignoring the pause (the “hmmmmm, this bothers me”) and feeling great about it because i did it for God. Because God deserves my best, my most, my cheerful perseverance.

    Do more, be more. (which was more about the viability of the organization, the beauty of the church building, the staff salaries & perks, making their jobs easy & enjoyable, and of course feeding the need [of some] for power & control than anything else)

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  188. Max,

    “Hmmm … perhaps there is a “deep state” in the American church which is manipulating it to the point that both pulpit and pew are under its control without realizing it. And whose work would that be?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    “I was a part-time, topic producer for Janet Mefferd until yesterday when I resigned over this situation. All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all.”–Ingrid Schlueter

    i prefer to hold humans responsible for this, and not the devil.

    https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2013/12/05/ingrid-schlueter-resigns-from-janet-mefferd-show-over-mark-driscoll-plagiarism-controversy/

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  189. TS00: What is left when you give up on the Institutions of this world?

    Simply God. And faith in Him alone. Maybe that’s what he really wants from us.

    “The devil took him to a very high mountain, and from there showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their magnificence. “Everything there I will give you,” he said to him, “if you will fall down and worship me.” “Away with you, Satan!” replied Jesus, “the scripture says, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve’.” Then the devil let him alone, and the angels came to him and took care of him.” (Matthew 4)

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  190. elastigirl,

    Absolutely. And if you have a significant other who buys into the program, and children whose friends and ‘world’ consist of buying into this program, are you going to upset the applecart and ruin everyone’s happiness because ‘you’ have a ‘problem with authority’?

    Don’t get me wrong, these clever manipulators offer many enticing incentives as well. I do not consider myself free of responsibility, or too ‘pure’ to have had self interests at play. I happily jumped at the ‘guilt-free’ life; until I realized it meant ignoring my own conscience to the stultifying of my own soul.

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  191. TS00,

    “They have been brainwashed into believing that the ‘worship’ God seeks has something to do with how we sing songs once a week.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    it is true.

    talk about stupid.

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  192. elastigirl: i prefer to hold humans responsible for this, and not the devil

    Yeah. That which comes against the work of God can be lumped into three categories according to Scripture: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world and the flesh is doing such a good job on the organized church and its members that the devil doesn’t have to get involved. Of course, the devil influences the world and the flesh.

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  193. elastigirl,

    Yeah, my sister and I can get into it over whether there even is a ‘devil’. I don’t know if it really matters? Whatever one designates as the source of evil, can we agree that we all make choices as to whether to serve our own interests, or will make personal sacrifices for the sake of others? IMO, evil exists when we put ourselves first, whatever the cost to others.

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  194. I tend to fall back into old habits and conflate ‘evil’ with ‘d – evil’. But I’m not hung up about it. Evil I have seen, and cannot deny exists, whether there is a ‘devil’ behind it or not. As for the ‘devil’ – not sure how much of my conceptualization comes from corrupt churchianity?

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  195. TS00: Honestly, Max, that is exactly what I believe God has been ‘pushing’ me into seeing over the last handful of years. You can substitute whatever words are not Trigger words – because the enemy has created so many of those – but the unseen hand of the institutions of this world does not belong to God. Scripture warns us of this, but we continue to deny it. Much of this deception has occurred by positing ‘The Institutional Church’ as The Body of Christ, thus worthy of our trust and participation.

    Once you see it, you can’t un-see it. Once it’s in your knower, you can’t un-know it.

    I put cross-less, seeker-friendly Willow Creek and its architect Bill Hybels in the counterfeit church from the get-go. New Calvinist efforts to subordinate Jesus puts them there as well.

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  196. elastigirl: and finally, these same people would look concerned and alarmed should i mention the apocrypha (that is, if they were even aware there was such a thing). they miss the fact that they’re already drunk on all manner of extrabiblical material to begin with.

    Good point. Their hypocrisy is all the more blatant when they gush and swoon over the latest book from Piper, Mohler, MacArthur,… (whomever)
    But yeah, they’d look very concerned, possibly to the point of wondering where you’ll spend eternity.

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  197. elastigirl,

    The Calvinist church could never stop talking about its ‘Regulative Principles of Worship’. Next church talked non-stop about the ‘worship wars’ it had undergone a few years before. Both seemed convinced that what they did in a building on Sunday morning was the full extent of what ‘worship’ means! I always wanted to stand up and shout – God does not give a damn what songs you sing on Sunday, or whether or not you have drums and a ‘praise team’!’ Needless to say, I resisted. But, seriously, I see worship as everytime I look to God as the creator of the universe and the source of goodness, truth and beauty. This happens when I look at the stars, or when I grudgingly give up my own wants to do something for someone else. (And I actually am very musically inclined, and love to sing to God; but increasingly find my own personal music time more meaningful that what happens at church. I do love it that the Anglican church I sometimes attend sings the old hymns in harmony!)

    Okay, I’ll stop now.

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  198. Max: Once you see it, you can’t un-see it. Once it’s in your knower, you can’t un-know it.

    I put cross-less, seeker-friendly Willow Creek and its architect Bill Hybels in the counterfeit church from the get-go. New Calvinist efforts to subordinate Jesus puts them there as well.

    Same here. And yet, I will not deny that God, in his infinite power and grace, used even this corrupt institution to declare his message of love to many! I will not deny that I saw some powerful presentations of the gospel in some of their passion plays, etc., and I do not doubt that people heard and responded to the gospel that was proclaimed, whatever the motivations of those building the institution.

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  199. TS00,

    That is what is so ‘glorious’ about God (elastigirl!). He can use the most filthy rags, such as Willow Creek and people like me, and wring something good out of them! Now that’s what I call glory!

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  200. TS00: can we agree that we all make choices

    All but the New Calvinists who are trolling TWW. They believe that God is so sovereign that they don’t have a free will about anything … in their total depravity, they have a total inability to make choices.

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  201. Muff Potter: Their hypocrisy is all the more blatant when they gush and swoon over the latest book from Piper, Mohler, MacArthur,… (whomever)

    Apparently, Hybels gushed over mentor Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian and together they co-founded WCC. “Community.”

    The Reformed crowd can’t stand the both of them. “Dr. B” has published in detail about incorporating women’s leadership and mutuality in the church.

    It’s an odd mix. Supporting church leadership of women as an inroad to patriarchal (power-infused) side-chick shenanigans.

    Two observations:

    – Sandusky used his nonprofit of helping youth for access.

    – Dr. B was born and raised in France. The French don’t like the guns and violence in the US, but they are highly tolerant of indiscretions in other areas. Real men, given the chance, act out with attractive women, naturally. (“Real men” in the US brandish guns?)

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  202. jyjames: “severance for silence” compensation

    What these folks need to know is that employee contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and “severance for silence” packages will not hold up in a court of law. As in the business world, such agreements are intended to intimidate employees into keeping their mouth shut if they should leave with information in hand that would impact the employer in a negative way. They won’t hold water in court – no reason to fear such contracts, they are not valid.

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  203. elastigirl,

    It is apparent that many contributors on this blog site are deep/mindful observers/thinkers about the authentic faith walk with Jesus and the role of the church in today’s world. Personally I have also experienced times when I stayed away from the church (small or big) because of disillusionment or some type of hurt.

    What I found helpful later on was to visit a couple different places without getting too involved. I take in the gems of wisdom from mature pastor’s Bible Studies when the gems are available. I enjoy singing the worship songs which speak to my soul and spirit when they are chosen. I spend time alone with God with a Bible, or a hymn book, or a missionary’s story and words. By the way, Oswald Chambers also served as a chaplain to irreligious young soldiers in WWW I. Many would hear him talk about the Savior God, experience the presence of God in his prayers, and later lose their lives in battle zones. OC knew that. So there was no room for frills or vanity, or personal glory. Such stories tend to calibrate my own mindset and emotional vibes periodically.

    And even amidst bad churches, God has given me a good connection here and there for meaningful fellowship, even for serving together in some way. There are a lot of weeds mixed in the garden of fruit trees these days. It’s disheartening and wearisome. Hard to root the bad weeds out completely. But it’s worth the effort to keep the garden clean and healthy.
    Joseph kept his eyes on his God in the land of suffering. That gave him strength and real healing from all the wrongs done to him. He also had impact on so many people.

    The leaders of Willow Creek and many other churches (pastors, elders, directors, and others) need to have courage to come clean before their Father, so they can be forgiven and corrected. As followers of the Shephard, we need God’s mercy to know where to go to find healthy flocks. Perhaps we could even become “invisible ingredients” that influence the church in godly ways?

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  204. Max: All but the New Calvinists who are trolling TWW. They believe that God is so sovereign that they don’t have a free will about anything … in their total depravity, they have a total inability to make choices.

    Done watering, and taking refuge from the heat.

    Don’t forget, they try to have their cake and eat it too. 😉 Even most New Calvinists (compatabilists) assert that God predetermines, ordains and controls every molecule of the universe AND man is personally responsible for his own ‘choices’. Hows that for a logical impossiblity that men like Piper, Mohler, et al. can affirm without even blushing at its absurdity? Ah, sweet ‘Mystery’, like fat, emaciated cats and loud mutes – with God, ‘all things are possible’! (How many extra points do I get for using two buzzword phrases in one sentence?)

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  205. DD,

    The stories (8.10.2018, 8.13.2018) are disgusting. https://esmartinonline.wordpress.com/

    WC’s version of egalitarian seems to be dirty old men letting loose their inappropriate proclivities on women who are supposed to trust them, title and role. Sort of a free-for-all for frisky men to play with women they have access to on a personal level because they are in the church fellowship community together. “Jump into the egalitarian soup with me, kiddo, and we’ll have fun playing with your parts and mine.”

    What is lost on these men (therefore, in the enabling community) is that this behavior is never appropriate in any setting. It is highly disrespectful to women and exhibits extreme vulgarity of the men. No job, family, civic group would tolerate this.

    These founders created their own brand of community (in the name of god) with their own set of stealth rules (bait and switch), that provides a playing field (with entrapment of trusting women) for their perverse aggressions. These men’s playing field is a minefield for women.

    The WC brand of egalitarianism is effrontery, not equality.

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  206. Max: What these folks need to know is that employee contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and “severance for silence” packages will not hold up in a court of law. As in the business world, such agreements are intended to intimidate employees into keeping their mouth shut if they should leave with information in hand that would impact the employer in a negative way. They won’t hold water in court – no reason to fear such contracts, they are not valid.

    Once again, you beat me to the punch! This is what someone with intimate connections needs to get out to those who are being intimidated and silenced! NDA’s are allowed to protect genuine, intellectual property – and even as such, are limited to a set amount of time. In my one intimate experience with this, the lawyer proved correct in predicting that it would be settled out of court. Except for rare cases, involving big fish and big dollars, few corporations want to put their NDA’s in front of juries – who almost always side with the ‘little guy’. Willow Creek’s NDA’s, with the intent to hide malfeasance and abuse, would most certainly not stand up in a court of law. Someone with a megaphone, (Vonda or Nancy, maybe?) please, broadcast this loudly so that those who have been silenced regain their voices!

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  207. birdoftheair,

    Excellent thoughts, which I have pondered as well. Much as I distrust the Institutional Church (and other man-made institutions) sometimes, that’s where the people you need, and who need you, happen to be! So, after the necessary period of healing, I find myself tentatively dipping my toe back in, seeking a non-authoritarian church setting in which I can participate, and, who knows, maybe even serve to fend off authoritarian inroads? Thanks for sharing those gracious thoughts!

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  208. birdoftheair,

    “And even amidst bad churches, God has given me a good connection here and there for meaningful fellowship, even for serving together in some way. There are a lot of weeds mixed in the garden of fruit trees these days. It’s disheartening and wearisome. Hard to root the bad weeds out completely. But it’s worth the effort to keep the garden clean and healthy.
    Joseph kept his eyes on his God in the land of suffering. That gave him strength and real healing from all the wrongs done to him. He also had impact on so many people.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    as i see it, the church institution does not equal God / God’s kingdom / pursuing God.

    a few more reasons for opting out of church:

    it was not a good use of my time.

    –i sit there, endure music i hate, forced to sing lyrics with sentiments that i don’t mean let alone believe in (the indulgent-for-the-songwriter message strays so far from the basic tenets of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit)

    –i then sit there and endure a sermon that is canned, full of stale ideas, which i may have heard before from another source, which i cannot stay focussed on without my mind wandering…. 10 minutes later, i couldn’t really tell you what in the world it was about.

    –i arrive back home, all in all a 4-5 hour chunk of my day. and i think, “what was that all about?”

    in addition to that, i see all kinds of manipulation. people feel coerced into joining small groups (& other activities), feel somehow guilty (disappointing pastors and God) for not giving more of their week and life away.

    the pastors may have good hearts and good intentions, but they’re simply following the model. and the model is that the more people are in church the more they tithe.

    *BONUS*: i’ve noticed that in church people give over their spirituality/faith to the professionals to manage for them. they wait until the church says “let’s do such & such”, or to smilingly coerce them into volunteerism for the church’s sake. they lose initiative just as they lose their own thoughts.

    H-E-doublechopSTIX, but i can manage my own spirituality and faith on my own. i’m a responsible adult.

    truth be told, i can be 10 times more productive without the middle man (professional christians at church). and the best part about it is the benefit of my time and effort goes straight to human life/lives who truly need it.

    bird’, you’re a kind person, i can tell. and i do appreciate your interaction here.

    my irritation is not directed at you, but rather at those who sold me a bill of goods to benefit the source of their paycheck, their lifestyle, and/or their enjoyment of power/significance.

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  209. elastigirl: i’ve noticed that in church people give over their spirituality/faith to the professionals to manage for them, … i can be 10 times more productive without the middle man (professional christians at church). and the best part about it is the benefit of my time and effort goes straight to human life/lives who truly need it.

    This is well voiced. Thanks. Cut out the middle man (in the case of Beth Moore, woman; not a criticism, just a check on overdependence), then, listen to the Holy Spirit in connection with the Bible, and see where one goes.

    Too much static, and the still small Voice is lost. Better to get back to God, where we all started in the first place.

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  210. elastigirl,

    Thanks a lot, for reminding me of all the reasons I come home every week that I actually manage to persuade myself to go to church determining to never go back! (Sarcasm)

    But seriously, as someone whose community and world was always built upon the church, how do you replace it fully? My sister urges me to get involved in other non-church organizations, but I can’t help but fear the same abusive structures in any organization. Maybe I need more time to heal.

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  211. jyjames: Better to get back to God, where we all started in the first place.

    That is where I find myself. Then my spouse throws at me ‘how dangerous it is to go it alone’. And let’s face it, I certainly don’t believe I know everything or can do this thing called life on my own. But it is hard to know where to turn. Like a lot of abuse victims walking into another abusive relationship, I find myself instinctively wanting to ‘go back to church’, because it is all I know.

    Sorry for all the posts. Just appreciating all the thoughts from people who appear to understand what I have been through.

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  212. elastigirl,

    My story is almost identical to yours, the music, the sermons, the big chunk of time. The one part I have to give credit to the church to is that they did begin promoting “manage your own spiritual life” and it’s ok if you leave “this church”, hopefully for another.

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  213. DD: See jyjames reply and link. Another abuser at the church has been named. The other shoe that was waiting to be dropped. Question is, how many more shoes?

    I am rejoicing that names are being named! The only way we are ever going to protect naive and uninformed people is to expose the powerful abusers, and how they hide behind celebrity, power and facades of righteousness. I always rejoice when God exposes evil, in the process, granting assistance to his silly, ignorant sheep (like me) who are too easily misled into believing any guy in a robe must be a shepherd. Guess what? Any ol’ guy can to to Walmart and buy a shepherd costume.

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  214. TS00,

    TSOO, jyjames, elastigirl,

    I can not say enough that I am struggling with these very issues: going to church and coming home feeling disenchanted, frustrated; losing the ‘community’ that’s been built over years, and a husband who also talks about ‘forgiving and moving forward knowing things are going to change’ (to which I have zero confidence at this point). I fear exactly what you said, TS00, that this will be like a divorce for my husband and I who have shared a committed faith life over 30 years of marriage.

    Thank you for your transparency and authenticity. It’s been so helpful to me as I navigate this situation…

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  215. jyjames,

    Dr. Bilezikian was accused in the early 90s of sexual harassment by some female students at Wheaton. He was made to take a leave of absence, and the admin of the college worked with his church (Willow Creek) to get to the bottom of allegations. He was restored to his position at Wheaton by the next semester.
    I was there at the time and knew only this much about the situation. I would also say, however, that he had a rep as a “cringy old guy” with some of the girls. That would definitely line up with what the woman tells in these 2 stories.
    jyjames,

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  216. TS00: NDA’s are allowed to protect genuine, intellectual property

    There is no intellectual property in most churches! The only thing church leaders want protected, by requiring staff/members to sign an NDA, is their derrière.

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  217. TS00,

    “But seriously, as someone whose community and world was always built upon the church, how do you replace it fully? My sister urges me to get involved in other non-church organizations,”
    ++++++++++

    very pertinent question.

    i still miss engaging regularly with the great people and friends i had there. the fact that i was willing to give this good part up is a measure of now negative the bad part was.

    church is so darn insular:

    1) the implicit message is the the secular worldly world is dangerous, scary, stupid, evil, will mess your life up. you’re only safe in church, which is also the only place you’ll find healthy relationships. no one comes out and says this, but the message comes through loud and clear — whether church staff realize it or not. (see, they’re following program decided by shadowy figures)

    2) the hungry machine of church is never satisfied and will eat more and more and more of one’s time. there just isn’t time for anything other than church. (and one’s job, of course, to bring in the tithe)

    NOW,…moving on here,…since extricating myself from the institution (and time to detox), the sun has risen on my neighborhood, and the fact that it is chock full of excellent human beings. relationship, friendship right here.

    it is totally moronic to even have to make that statement.

    my neighborhood is full of kind, honest, generous, and moral human beings. atheist, agnostic, muslim, hindu, buddhist, jewish, mormon, etc.

    i enjoy them for who they are, not what they are. they enrich my life.

    i also have a prayer group of about 7 or 8 women, from all over christendom (baptist, pentecostal, charismatic, eastern orthodox, catholic, lutheran…).

    some years ago i wanted to form one (so i was accountable to actually pray). i spread the word to a few people who seemed to know everyone everywhere. after a few months, we were 2. then it grew from there. 7-8 isn’t huge, but it’s nice.

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  218. Max,

    But to then you lied to get the money. (Wink)

    Normally they add things in that don’t make the person leaving/signing look great either. It might be something out of context or exaggerated a bit. That is called leverage. The person leaving doesn’t have a huge platform, either.

    They aren’t concerned about “legal” implications of NDA’s at all.

    On another note , years ago in my old church before the YRR takeover, a young part-time SBTS staff pastor left to plant a church with NAMB. He took the church roladex and proceeded to continually lobby members for donations to the start up church in a southern city with tons of SBC churches!. This made people who understood the CP and church planting disgusted. Tacky.

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  219. elastigirl,

    “it is totally moronic to even have to make that statement.”
    +++++++++++

    to clarify: moronic that i didn’t see this for too long. i’ve always loved people from the 4 corners of the earth geographically and ideologically. (except patriarchy — i fahrt in that general direction, dahling)

    if glory is being one’s true self, how ironic that church turned me into something far, far, far from my true self.

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  220. jyjames,

    I hate to say that an awful lot of predators and celebrity ‘leaders’ have come out of Wheaton, making me very suspicious of its role in the misleading of the modern Church. And yes, IMO, that includes the more famous ‘Billy’ Wheaton loves to promote, who essentially ushered in modern evangelicalism, which Billy Hybels and friends took to the next step. Billy Got-hard hailed from Wheaton as well.

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  221. TS00,

    “My sister urges me to get involved in other non-church organizations, but I can’t help but fear the same abusive structures in any organization. Maybe I need more time to heal.”
    +++++++++++++++

    got commenting energy to spare here, today.

    i think organizations that invoke the concept of God naturally get off the rails in the abusive, manipulative department.

    other organizations are prone to be healthier, more reasonable. but certainly no guarantee.

    yes, time to heal. and in the meantime: the way i see it, if we have 1 true friend (one), we are ahead of most of the world.

    many surface-y friends is no substitute for 1 true friend. i’ve grown to appreciate my very small handful of kindred spirits, drink deeply, and consider myself the luckiest person on earth.

    and i consider every moment of happiness, no matter how fleeting, as a power vitamin.

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  222. elastigirl,

    I really love this. Have lived in rural areas for several decades. I love my county, quiet, etc., but would you believe I have increasingly felt the urge to move into the city? Few of my family believe I would like it, and think I am just desperately looking for something new. Yet, it seems to ever press upon me, as I walk almost daily in my favorite city neighborhoods, traffic, dogs, airplanes and all. Would love to be able to talk to you one on one! 🙂

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  223. TS00: I hate to say that an awful lot of predators and celebrity ‘leaders’ have come out of Wheaton,

    No idea.
    However, it’s notable that when leaders get a taste of power, money or celebrity, some drink the Kool-aid full on and lose their footing with godly values. Billy Graham (money & politics), Bill Hybels (women & money), Francis Schaeffer (money & politics), Dave Wilkerson (money & going after donors), examples. Some admittedly, eventually. I don’t know any of them but they write about themselves. Different issues, but a general loss of core values.

    Exactly addressed in Proverbs 23: “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food.”

    An exception still working today might be George Verwer of Operation Mobilization.

    I guess we see this in politics and business, too. Those who manage to humbly serve to the end, and those who lord it over, every step of the way (exactly what Jesus said NOT to do).

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  224. Max: TS00: NDA’s are allowed to protect genuine, intellectual property

    There is no intellectual property in most churches! The only thing church leaders want protected, by requiring staff/members to sign an NDA, is their derrière.

    Even the secular world gets how NDA’s have been used to facilitate sexual abuse. It is time for The Church to wake up:
    http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/HFIS-AVWMYN/%24file/NAAG+letter+to+Congress+Sexual+Harassment+Mandatory+Arbitration.pdf

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  225. TS00: It is time for The Church to wake up

    Yes, I would recommend:

    (1) Church Member: NEVER sign a membership covenant
    (2) Church Staff: NEVER sign a nondisclosure agreement

    This is not the way the Church of the Living God is supposed to work. As a believer, the only covenant you need to enter into is the one written in Jesus’ blood.

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  226. elastigirl: and i consider every moment of happiness, no matter how fleeting, as a power vitamin.

    So do I. And so did the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
    Enjoy the goodness of this life while ya’ can, because it really is fleeting.

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  227. TS00,

    As a Wheatie myself, I have plenty of disgust and wonder what else there is to be revealed. Dr. B was my academic advisor. BJU has the same type of issues. Comp vs. egalitarian doesn’t seem to prove anything in this department either. How can there be so much evil along with the willful cover ups? Forgot to mention I met my abusive husband at Wheaton. He would have been a danger anywhere. He just happened to be there. I can tell you there is an enormous cost to pay if you aren’t willing to do the cover up. I could not unsee what I had been unable to see before. Grace and peace to all those harmed and silent or harmed, talking, and harmed some more. Anytime we are told we are “special,” it can lead to entitlement. We were often referred to as the “cream of the crop” at Wheaton. Just like my son at West Point which is also a mess. Pretty sure that isn’t in Scripture…My faith took a definite hit as a result of being a Bible major there.

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  228. Max,

    I can ship you a pastor for that conference from a small rural church that will disabuse you of that notion so to speak…;) My church was reacting like Willow did before Willow did. That is what caught me by surprise so much. More power at the top of a mega but the lust for power and control can be found in the hearts of tiny places too.

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  229. Deborah: Kind of stinks when you realize you are dealing with a centipede rather than one man. Lots of shoes!

    I’m afraid you are right. Many would like to pretend that this is just a ‘man falling into sin’ issue, when it is much, much more. There is rot to the very core of the Institutional Church, and it is by design. Satan’s great deception, deceiving, if possible, even the very ‘elect’ (non-Reformed definition).

    The Institutional Church is just that – an institution, built by men, on the traditions of men for the purposes of men. I know an awful lot of people do not wish to hear that, but it is time we faced facts. I’m sorry, but I am not going to accept the charge that so many ‘godly’ men ‘fell into sin’. Rather, so many naive believers ‘fell’ under the spell of deceivers pretending to be godly men. Instead of smearing the character of the truly good and perfect God, why not allow that this institution was never his to begin with, as history has strongly suggested.

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  230. mary,

    i’m so sorry, mary. difficult. complicated.

    had a thought — you and your husband could build new relationships together outside of church. something new, different.

    sounds to me that there will always be tension (that you will especially feel) in the relationships you share at church, with each other and with others. perhaps reinvent a new social fabric for your husband and yourself to enjoy together? something that in time would replace the problematic one at church.

    a fun new social adventure, to give you and your husband something socially rewarding to do together. experiences that are positive are like nutritious food, personally and relationally. (there’s only so many times i can say “power vitamin” in one day)

    a group formed around common interests (it’s much easier if it’s not religion).

    game-playing? food? concerts? sports events? hiking? camping? fishing? movie-watching? some kind of charity work?

    roller skating? (it’s not impossible you like to skate — i know a couple who go to favorite skate spots [empty parking lots, cement paths, etc], bring their portable dvd player, and just skate away to their favorite music all afternoon)

    …just an idea that popped in my head as soon as i read your comment.

    i hope i conveyed it well. and please excuse the unsolicited advice.

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  231. TS00,

    “But seriously, as someone whose community and world was always built upon the church, how do you replace it fully?”
    ++++++++++++++

    i’m all to present here today — but i had another thought.

    people who go to church become very used to lots and lots of people in their lives. even if one only sees them on Sundays. it feels like the ideal that everyone is looking for.

    not necessarily true.

    my relatives have never been to church. they are shocked at the numbers of people in our lives (from having grown up in church, then continued on as an adult in a few more churches). they think it’s crazy.

    they think it’s crazy to be involved with so, so many people all of whom seem to behave like they’re family together, or as trusted friends.

    church calls it community — my relatives would call it ‘an engineered community’. really, it is not possible to have “trusted familial friendship” with such a great number of people. it is sort of a “we-are-family uniform” that everyone puts on. it’s not really real.

    my relatives think it’s infinitely more sensible, rewarding, and real to simply have a small collection of friendships that form organically. instead of all these people who you know simply because you are associated together in an organization.

    so, what i’m trying to convey is going to church makes it seem like it’s the norm to have lots of people in one’s life, and to think of them as ‘family’, community.

    i don’t think it is. i don’t think it’s reality. people outside of church develop their relationships apart from the social engineering. i have to think they go deeper, are more genuine, and more solid.

    so, if you feel you’re losing a community, perhaps it was a pseudo engineered community to some extent. and perhaps less people is more normal. and healthy and rewarding.

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  232. Romans 8:38-39 says nothing can separate us from the love of God (which is in Christ Jesus): Not things in the present, not things to come….

    Perhaps it’s a blessing (in disguise) that the WC church and some other churches have been exposed for their disobedience to Christ. If many children of God will humbly pray, and receive correction, there could be a genuine revival. How desperately we need that!

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  233. TS00: The Institutional Church is just that – an institution, built by men, on the traditions of men for the purposes of men. I know an awful lot of people do not wish to hear that, but it is time we faced facts.

    I so totally agree with what elastigirl said at 2:58am this date. But I have some serious disagreement with what you (and others) have been saying and what I have quoted above. Let me say this, and please understand that I and many others have come to some conclusions that may not be your conclusions but we have not done it in the dark. Quite the opposite a lot of the time; we may well have come to our own opinions through our very own blood, sweat and tears as it were.

    Almost everything on the earth is a mixed bag of wise vs foolish, well intended vs poorly though out, Spirit inspired vs childish whimsy, etc etc. One essential to being able to cope is called discernment, but discernment is not to distinguish between totally good vs totally bad (that can be pretty obvious sometimes) but rather discernment is like sorting potatoes by size-not that clear cut and not that easy.

    If Jesus really meant whosoever will then whosoever that wills can be expected to show up ‘at church’ and the fact is that whosoevers are a mixed multitude. It is not possible for you or me to determine who is one of the ‘weaker’ brethren and who may be merely a newbie and who may be an impostor and who may be even actually mentally ill or even a unwilling agent of evil.

    That said, we were never called to center our lives around each other or ‘the church’ or our families or our jobs/hobbies or even our favorite theological debates or much less become followers of Bro. BillyJoeBob. The first commandment it to love God. Not an easy thing to do. We are individually empowered for, to use Pauls’ word pictures, armed combat. We are commissioned to go into ‘all the world’. Like salt in order to savor; like leaven to activate; and yes sometimes like sheep to the slaughter as it were for some. We are given enough resources to have enough and some to share even when we have to listen to Whose strength is made perfect in whose weaknesses.

    Let me try to quote as well as I can remember something from Peter Marshall. ‘Too many Christians are like deep sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms deep marching bravely to pull out plugs in bathtubs.’ Ouch, Peter, just ouch. Is it I? Is it those ‘at church’ who don’t seem to ‘get it’? Do I need to forget the bathtub and jump over the side and see what happens because perhaps I have expected to find more in the bathroom tub than it was ever designed to be?

    For myself, I have to keep playing in the back of my own inner self talk ‘Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief’. And I have to keep replaying that ‘He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust’.

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  234. Deborah: the lust for power and control can be found in the hearts of tiny places too

    Agreed. Tougher to hide, but it’s there. The bottom-line in all of this (whether mega or mini) is that the pulpit is occupied by too many folks who just don’t need to be there … who “called” themselves to be pastors for reasons not healthy for the Body of Christ.

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  235. elastigirl,

    Many thanks for your sound advice. Gratefully, my husband and I already have many shared interests, as well as a couple of close friends from a previous church that are just like family. We’re of the camp that a person only needs a few close friends to have a fulfilling social life.

    Unfortunately, my husband is entrenched in the ‘go-to-church-on-Sunday’ mentality, and has a hard time being comfortable with his faith outside of that, or outside of the false narrative that exhibiting specific behaviors “tells others you are a ‘Christian”. There’s a journey to be traveled there for him…

    Lastly, where the ‘sticky wicket’ comes in in all of this with Willow is that many people like my husband seem not to want to see what’s really going on there (WC) because ‘they get so much from it when they go’ and ‘well, now that this happened, change is really going to happen’. When I stopped engaging WC as a consumer long ago, most of what went with it became unappealing to me on many many levels. I worked for WC in the late 80’s, as well as another para-church ministry, which finally spurned me to leave behind the naïveté that these places are interested in joe pew filler outside of their algorithms / tithes / programming needs. I just don’t believe that to be true.

    I’m really grateful for TWW as it provides a forum by which we all can further develop our knowledge, thinking and perspectives in a community of open-mindedness. Your response to my comments is a great example of just that.

    All the best.

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  236. With the stepping down of board and certain leadership of WCC, the kind folk who attend services or the wonderful churches who associate world-wide will require individuals at various 501c3 organizational levels who will be of established proven integrity moving forward. Most likely this is in process thereof, one would think.

    ATB

    Sòpy

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  237. mary,

    thank you, Mary. i know my comment was presumptuous, since we don’t know each other. i pay attention to ideas that ‘pop in my head’ unexpectedly, for whatever catalyst potential might be there. but it’s not without presumption. thank you for your gracious reading and reply.

    i truly hope these tangles and wrinkles will ease and soothe in time. i’ve had similar experiences, to some degree.

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  238. mary: because ‘they get so much from it when they go’

    seconded, same with my wife. Once my youngest graduated from HS I told her I wasn’t interesting in going to ‘church’ anymore so now we just watch from home, go on Easter / Christmas. I worry about her as she knows many people there and has heard the stories from people who have worked there but she just seems to ignore the problems. I guess this is the type of people they want to fill the auditorium with, “just keep writing the checks”, ‘another brick in the wall’, “we leaders will go off and get the earthly rewards, er, we mean show the world what christianity is really about”.

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  239. okrapod,

    In the end, we can only change ourselves and maybe influence a few along the way if we have the platform for it and even that platform becomes dangerous after a while. The big problems come from trying to force change in others or insisting they they conform or they are (fill in the horrible label)

    My view is, report criminal behavior to the authorities, warn others about the non criminal yet immoral or unethical behaviors.

    But, beyond that, it starts to become dangerous.

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  240. jyjames,

    See above comment, with question: How did we get here?

    It took time for the comment to clear, so I’ve been thinking. Two thoughts:

    – As leadership became in over their competency with predators in their congregations, sweeping it all under the rug, predators then infiltrated the clergy, too. (Moreover, predators can be big donors. Church gives them access. Church legitimizes a predator as a pillar of the community. There’s co-dependency of clergy & donors. Which segues to the 2nd thought:)

    – Money. The more church has become a weekend event to draw crowds (music, theatre, technology, coffee shop, celebrated speakers, etc.), the cost has increased. More money-dependent means less morally astute.

    Thoughts?

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  241. mary: I can not say enough that I am struggling with these very issues: going to church and coming home feeling disenchanted, frustrated; losing the ‘community’ that’s been built over years …

    Mary, you will find a support group on this site. Many who comment regularly on TWW have been through similar experiences. May God bless you and your family as you move forward.

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  242. Not to further muddy worship war issues, but what actually matters to some pastors is to transition the pew peon to expect ever new contemporary music (and devil to pay if they don’t like it) BECAUSE THE DENOMINATIONAL PUBLISHING HOUSES OFTEN OWN THE RIGHTS TO THE MUSIC.

    Forcing you to “buy their product” or you are divisive and don’t love God or care about the lost.

    Nyet..

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  243. okrapod: Almost everything on the earth is a mixed bag of wise vs foolish, well intended vs poorly though out, Spirit inspired vs childish whimsy, etc etc. One essential to being able to cope is called discernment, but discernment is not to distinguish between totally good vs totally bad (that can be pretty obvious sometimes) but rather discernment is like sorting potatoes by size-not that clear cut and not that easy.

    If Jesus really meant whosoever will then whosoever that wills can be expected to show up ‘at church’ and the fact is that whosoevers are a mixed multitude. It is not possible for you or me to determine who is one of the ‘weaker’ brethren and who may be merely a newbie and who may be an impostor and who may be even actually mentally ill or even a unwilling agent of evil.

    That said, we were never called to center our lives around each other or ‘the church’ or our families or our jobs/hobbies or even our favorite theological debates or much less become followers of Bro. BillyJoeBob. The first commandment it to love God. Not an easy thing to do. We are individually empowered for, to use Pauls’ word pictures, armed combat. We are commissioned to go into ‘all the world’. Like salt in order to savor; like leaven to activate; and yes sometimes like sheep to the slaughter as it were for some. We are given enough resources to have enough and some to share even when we have to listen to Whose strength is made perfect in whose weaknesses.

    I agree with all that you have said, and am a little puzzled as to why you might think I would not. I do tend to be a little too ‘certain’ in my understanding of things – a trait I am really trying to overcome! – so I apologize if I have been arrogant or insensitive in my comments. I will try to speak more softly, less frequently and put down my stick.

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  244. Max,

    WCCC ex-pat here. I have many good memories of it but as of several years ago it became a chore to attend. More often than not I felt angry, defensive, disenchanted while driving there Sunday mornings. I seemed to have little in common with most of the people we ‘knew’ there (do you really know someone you see 1x a week?). I think things really turned after Chapter 2. I remember the ‘grand opening’ of the new auditorium and felt dirty when everyone cheered and applauded for the new place. I understood the purpose but it seemed like there was no longer any humility coming forward from the leadership. Everything had to be bigger, better, etc. That wasn’t what i was looking for in my spiritual life. It can be argued they provided spiritual guidance too but I felt like it was secondary. My .02$. YMMV.

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  245. DD: Everything had to be bigger, better, etc. That wasn’t what i was looking for in my spiritual life.

    Then as a seeker, you have been seeking the right thing.

    DD: More often than not I felt angry, defensive, disenchanted while driving there Sunday mornings.

    That was the Spirit within you stirring you not to settle in. May we all have anger (but sin not) and be disenchanted when the church we are in drifts off course, when the leaders we trust fail us. There is life after WCCC – I pray that you experience a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord in the days ahead.

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  246. TS00,

    I don’t know if this will make sense or not to you. I saw some very deceitful and vile things behind the curtain in the mega world. I stupidly thought if pew sitters knew they would be outraged. Most don’t believe it and you end up being the problem. Staffers cover for it. And so on. For some, it was the same old, ‘well no one is perfect’.

    We all find our boundaries or “lines in the sand” and that’s healthy for us. We should. I found mine. Church is voluntary. Repeat. Other things aren’t, so we learn to navigate them in order to make a living.

    The hardest thing can be when others keep telling us nothing is perfect or that the problem is everywhere. That is true but it’s not the same thing as acceptance of it in your life—from “church” of all places! I am not interested in perfect. How about transparent, decent, honest, trustworthy, etc? Those seem pretty basic for Christians, right? That might be asking too much of church these days?

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  247. Lydia,

    Lydia: The hardest thing can be when others keep telling us nothing is perfect or that the problem is everywhere. That is true but it’s not the same thing as acceptance of it in your life—from “church” of all places! I am not interested in perfect. How about transparent, decent, honest, trustworthy, etc? Those seem pretty basic for Christians, right? That might be asking too much of church these days?

    You hit it right on the head for me, especially your third paragrah. I feel like I’m fighting an upward battle any and every time I bring it up.

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  248. TS00,

    I don’t really hear it anymore because I never talk about it face to face /person to person unless someone asks me directly. I gave that up long ago. People are never convinced against their will to believe something other than what they believe. It almost always takes a bad personal experience, first. There is a whole phenomenon around this that isn’t just church related. It’s just the most perplexing.

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  249. DD,

    I did a bit of looking…no info online that’s obvious. Knowing how both church and the college have dealt with some things like this, it would be hard to imagine there is public accounting of what happened. As time goes by, especially if there are more allegations against him, it might be that a local person to that area might dig into microfiche archives of the local newspaper and college newspaper and put any print reporting up online.
    I will ask someone who was friends with the girls and see if she recalls any reporting. If I find anything, I will certainly pass it on to you all here.

    One of the things that seems contradictory to some people is how certain men can be “champions” for women in their professional writings or teachings, but then treat women with disrespect and impropriety privately. I know that’s in the category “nothing new under the sun,” but in Dr. B’s case, he was a huge proponent of what he called biblical feminism. And I bring that up because I have seen women–maybe young women in particular, like college and grad students–be kind of beguiled by men who claim to be “feminists,” and they take the over-sexualized attention from such a man as enlightened somehow, as if it’s a more “sophisticated” way for men and women to interact. I mean that I have seen this in the church, especially when people reject certain standards of propriety under the guise of rejecting “puritanish/fundamentalism/piety.”

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  250. TS00,

    Thank you for your encouragement to people here, too.

    If only more Christians would reflect more and heed the voice of the Holy Spirit more! Then many “leaders” would find more contentment in their relationship with their Redeemer. I am still learning the meaning of Psalm 16:11- You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    That could be the first step toward a healthy and holy discipleship lifestyle.

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  251. TS00: not looking for perfection but authenticity

    Trying to find an “authentic” church in America – one that is the genuine real deal, whose builder and maker is God, not false or copied – is like looking for a California Condor.

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  252. Max: Trying to find an “authentic” church in America – one that is the genuine real deal, whose builder and maker is God, not false or copied – is like looking for a California Condor.

    Simply not true Max. Please try harder. Other kind folk’s experience may vary.

    Remember, da gate o’hell shall not prevail.

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  253. birdoftheair,

    “If only more Christians would reflect more and heed the voice of the Holy Spirit more! Then many “leaders” would find more contentment in their relationship with their Redeemer”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    the industry standard for “pastor” has become celebrity with corresponding power and top tier salary (if not ridiculous salary).

    because this is all backed up with mined verses so it can be “scriptural” and “biblical”, and because pastors live in a bubble occupied by other pastors full of oxygen-poor exhales from hearing only each other speak, the ‘voice of the Holy Spirit’ will be an affirming one.

    regardless of what God actually thinks and is saying.

    church has gotten too big. think about it — the church facility itself is a hungry machine that has to be fed. the facility was bought on the backs of generous and self-sacrificing people — the investment is too huge to neglect, and too expensive to maintain. yet it must be maintained in order to draw the “giving units” to fund it.

    all this money….. going for what? landscaping, carpet, paint, furniture, and other things for everyone’s comfort. so they can come and sit for 60-90 minutes like 3 year-olds at a puppet show.

    human suffering in the world… totally ignored.

    the mission of the church is totally messed up. the mission of the church is to perpetuate itself. in the final analysis, human lives, integrity, truth, and honesty will be sacrificed for that.

    until the industry standard divests itself of church as profit center and until “pastor” is divested of everything but “function”…. i can’t see anything changing.

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  254. birdoftheair,

    I don’t mean for this to come out of left field but… I suspect a lot of us have not paid attention to our “instincts”. I just mention this because there are so many people who are overly concerned that the holy spirit is not banging them over the head with warnings, understanding, etc.

    There is not exactly a formula for the Holy Spirit. 🙂

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  255. elastigirl,

    And to take it back to the topic of the post, just read these two old articles to gain some insight as to how Willow Creek has been the leading force to turn ‘Churches’ into successful organizations, rather than humble, servant-led assemblies seeking to serve God and others.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/1702221/how-willow-creek-leading-evangelicals-learning-business-world
    http://www.rapidnet.com/%7ejbeard/bdm/exposes/hybels/dilemma.htm

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  256. birdoftheair,

    I appreciate your kind words. My only desire is to translate what I have experienced into something positive and to protect others from becoming victims of mindless churchianity. I care deeply about the members of the Body of Christ, and have grave concerns that most believe that there are no alternatives to being a loyal, submissive churchgoer.

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  257. Lydia:

    I don’t mean for this to come out of left field but… I suspect a lot of us have not paid attention to our “instincts”. I just mention this because there are so many people who are overly concerned that the holy spirit is not banging them over the head with warnings, understanding, etc.

    There is not exactly a formula for the Holy Spirit.

    I don’t know if this is accurate, but I have increasingly come to equate my ‘instincts’ or ‘gut’ with the leading of the Spirit.

    When I had been brainwashed into becoming a mindless slave to my pastor, I found myself ignoring, denying and suppressing such instincts again and again. Once my eyes were open, and I forced myself to review all of the red flags I had ignored, I discovered that my ‘gut’ was right all along – but I had been persuaded that I should not trust it, but only my divinely-instituted authorities.

    Instincts, gut, red flags, conscience – to me they are all synonyms of the moving of the Spirit to communicate with our Spirits. For me, these are never clear, verbal messages, but literally the sensation of my spirit that I need to take heed and figure out what the Spirit of God is trying to make me aware of. It often takes me a while to figure out what is up, but the warnings are always spot on.

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  258. TS00,

    I have a similar view with a lot of tweaking. But that doesn’t matter nearly as much as the importance of us developing our ability to listen to and test our instincts. We’ve been taught the opposite- not just at church but in society to not trust our instincts. how can you possibly trust your instincts when you are convinced you are a worm or a Perpetual sinner that doesn’t even understand your own motives?

    It’s a huge topic and well worth thinking about –especially in encouraging our children to develop theirs.

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  259. Jack,

    DD,

    I felt the same way at Willow 15 yr plus attender. It turned more into a business then about spreading the gospel. The rules in serving became more harsh then my job. They pushed the word tithe so much which doesn’t even have anything to do with money they would bring in Robert Morris from Gateway church to put a new twist on it. If they would have preached sacrificial giving they would have received even more money. I also never agreed with having woman elders or woman head pastor and now feel Bills decisions and all my uneasy feelings are being validated as all this unravels. It seems decisions were coming from ulterior motives. Thanks for letting me vent and for those egalitarians please don’t respond and lets agree to disagree in Christ’s love.

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  260. CJ,

    your words blame women (the female gender) for the unraveling of WC (whether or not you intended them to). very incorrect on many levels.

    your statement(s) has moved beyond ideology to cruelty. can’t agree to disagree there.

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  261. CJ: and for those egalitarians please don’t respond and lets agree to disagree in Christ’s love

    Wow! How arrogant. We all should read your opinion and “don’t respond” because . . . you’re the only one allowed to voice your opinion.

    And then you call on Christ’s love?

    After that comment, I’d have to conclude you don’t appear to know much about Christ’s love . . .

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  262. Yes, the topic of The Holy Spirit is one that takes time to define and clarify. What I have heard/read/learned about the Holy Spirit is only a glimpse of the big picture. It is clear that the Holy Spirit was working alongside God and His Son at the Creation, and He continues to work this day. Though we know His power is definitely higher than human power, it’s still our tendency to do things our carnal way.

    Given the vast scope of God’s Truth in His Word, I see a major function/ministry of God’s Spirit as the cleansing power in our life to the N-th degree. After we become born again (as we receive Jesus to be our Savior), there is a lot of root-pulling work and replanting of new seeds/roots that need to be done in our soul (all aspects of mind, emotion, will, personality, passion, etc.) so we can become renewed, and transformed to know Jesus more as we mature day by day. There seems to be so much disconnect in so many “leaders’ ” lives these days. One wonders if they have been operating partly from an unclean base of greed and self.

    At this point I also feel that a mega-church is too big for meaningful fellowship and authentic discipleship for all the people who attend. The bigness in budget, in facility, in performance can become an automated machine that runs the programs on human fuel. It almost distracts from the Way of Jesus.

    As for small churches that stay stagnant for a long time, well, that is not ideal either. In some cases the smallness of size might also come from the smallness of mind and heart.

    Maybe size is not the issue? Maybe churches should just come together to help each other, and be transparent in the process. Maybe no one person or one group of leaders should have so much power.

    Yes, let us be authentic disciples first. Let us love Jesus more than we love His work. If we are loyal to Him, we will not betray Him in so many ways even as we tell ourselves and others that we are doing His work for Him. Satan is the father of lies. When we betray Jesus, we are more like the fallen evil angels, less like the children of a righteous God.

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  263. TS00: I don’t know if this is accurate, but I have increasingly come to equate my ‘instincts’ or ‘gut’ with the leading of the Spirit.

    The Jewish view of gut instinct is not the same as the Christian view. In the Hebrew Bible, gut feeling is what many of the writers wrote with.

    TS00: When I had been brainwashed into becoming a mindless slave to my pastor, I found myself ignoring, denying and suppressing such instincts again and again.

    This mode of thought is a result of Greek Platonism, Christianity got infused with it big-time, early on.

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  264. elastigirl: your words blame women (the female gender) for the unraveling of WC (whether or not you intended them to). very incorrect on many levels.

    That is true. It is also true that if the women in leadership knew about this, and perhaps were the recipient of some of this, and if they tolerated it for the sake of keeping their jobs, then they cannot be totally excused for remaining silent and/or staying on the job just because they are women. Nor are they exempt from responsibility to having done something, nor are they exempt from criticism for doing nothing.

    Responsibility is not gender exclusive.

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  265. okrapod,

    Bingo. Gender is not a guarantee of more compassion or wisdom either way. It’s almost as if our society has given up on seeing “individuals”, their individual character, integrity, etc.

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  266. Muff Potter,

    You mention this sort of thing a bit, and this is something I have kicked around some. The exclusively Jewish thinking has not led to the massive conversion of itself to acceptance of Jesus not even as a prophet much less as the messiah. Neither have the Greek philosophical ideations on their own given us any sort of stable religious construct in Christianity or anywhere else. So I am starting to think that when Jesus chose a Hellenized Jewish Pharisee to spear head the evangelization of the gentiles, while at the same time impacting some Jewish thinking among the believers (ref: the Jerusalem compromise under James) perhaps it is specifically the impact of each (Jew and Greek) on each other that was the mix which gave us what we have today.

    Now, I am also thinking that ‘today’ is a ways from ‘yesterday’ so when some academics now come along and take another look at just what went on, take another look at both Jesus and Paul, and especially take another look at both church and scripture, we may be in our own bumbling ways experiencing a ‘great work’ of the Spirit as far as our beliefs go.

    At least I hope so. But perhaps creation was the bringing of order out of chaos, and perhaps that is an ongoing process.

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  267. birdoftheair,

    When I did a ton of research on ESS, the Holy Spirit became quite interesting in the process. An interesting exercise is to look at how the Cults like JW and Mormon present the Holy Spirit and how close some Christian Traditions are to the same. I am reluctant to try and Define the Holy Spirit because it can operate within each individual believer somewhat differently and –blows where it will. 🙂

    What I do know is that the YRR eradicated the Holy Spirit. Too inconvenient and people might realize they don’t need that spiritual Guru on a stage to be their mediator. 🙂

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  268. okrapod,

    “Now, I am also thinking that ‘today’ is a ways from ‘yesterday’ so when some academics now come along and take another look at just what went on, take another look at both Jesus and Paul, and especially take another look at both church and scripture, we may be in our own bumbling ways experiencing a ‘great work’ of the Spirit as far as our beliefs go.”

    Yes! I find this very exciting.

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  269. okrapod,

    Overall great comment, but please clear up ( for me anyway) this one section, then they cannot be “totally” excused
    For remaining silent.

    Are you saying egalitarian women in positions of power should be treated differently when they seemingly fail ?

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  270. Lydia,

    Yes. I heard a Jewish rabbi in Israel on youtube contesting with a Christian about a couple of ideas, and pertinent to this conversation one thing would be that he said that they believe in the Holy Spirit also ‘just not as a Person’.

    Perhaps we have taken the concept of a three person Trinity in a bit of an excessive direction, and perhaps we have limited the idea of ‘person’ to what is limited to (and perhaps responsive to and perhaps even controlled?? by) those things to which we are used to ‘persons’ responding.

    Do we, for example, try to conjure up the Spirit sometimes (too harsh a term I know, but…) and do we fail to perceive Spirit as what we are born of and internally experience in our own spirits in ways which may seem a bit strange to us? And/or in ways which we do not even recognize. Do we think it (the idea or the happening) is probably not the Spirit unless we perceive it to be Spirit (God) instead of spirit (us) and did we perhaps get to that place by thinking that born of the Spirit just means go to heaven when you die and/or get to participate in spectacular stuff sometimes now?

    I think it is more than that. There are ways to express it that would surely be misunderstood, but one way is to take note of how we try to understand and control and explain everything while meanwhile the Spirit of God who moved over the face of the waters at creation (whatever that means) continues to blow as a wind wherever it pleases. Perhaps with but mostly without our understandings. So are we trying too hard? Is this constant angst some ‘easy yoke’? Hardly.

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  271. Benn: Are you saying egalitarian women in positions of power should be treated differently when they seemingly fail ?

    Yes. Absolutely. With increased power comes increased responsibility. Equal means equal. Women in power have the same responsibilities as do men in power, and women who are powerless have no more responsibility than men who are powerless.

    When I went to med school in 1960, and that was just then starting to be acceptable for women to do, it was made excruciatingly clear to one and all that equal means equal. No more or less responsibility than the men, no more or less work than the men, no greater or lesser academic requirements than the men. No excuses for being female and no persecution for being female. They did not have to tell us women this since we were not planning to take days off for cramps, but they needed to be sure that the men knew exactly what to expect and what not to expect from us.

    And there was no question at all that for me personally I was going to have more responsibility as an MD than I had been accustomed to as an RN because: knowledge, opportunity, expectations, patient trust which must not be betrayed.

    Short answer: yes. The women on staff were in positions of trust which went along with the job and that opportunity for betrayal of other people’s trust, if nothing else, created more responsibility for them.

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  272. okrapod: Perhaps we have taken the concept of a three person Trinity in a bit of an excessive direction,

    We can thank the Establishment with their self-claimed right to declare Truth and Orthodoxy for that. Many so-called heretics did not so much deny the new, official definition of the ‘Trinity’ but the right of any group of men to burn others at the stake for seeing it somewhat differently. The exact same sort of authoritarianism we see today, is what dissenters have always fought against. We (those who reject the right of any man, men or institution to declare unquestionable Truth) are the new heretics.

    I don’t pretend to understand the Trinity better than the Nicene council – I simply reject their right to insist I no longer ponder the possibilities.

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  273. okrapod,

    “Responsibility is not gender exclusive.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    i don’t disagree with your comment. CJ seems to think women in leadership simply because they are women were what caused Willow Creek’s descent.

    and then, of course, he told us to be silent on the matter.

    patriarchal is as patriarchal does.

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  274. elastigirl: i don’t disagree with your comment. CJ seems to think women in leadership simply because they are women were what caused Willow Creek’s descent.

    I would instead refer to someone’s comment that the avante garde leaders of Willow used their so-called progressiveness towards women to excuse inappropriate familiarity. ‘We can talk about our sexuality, and discuss intimate matters because we are all like-minded feminists’ can translate into crossing the line into manipulative and inappropriate behavior. Whatever one’s gender, no one has the right to impose their person upon you unasked, in any manner, or to compel you to engage in conversation or behavior which you find uncomfortable.

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  275. okrapod,

    “Perhaps we have taken the concept of a three person Trinity in a bit of an excessive direction, and perhaps we have limited the idea of ‘person’ to what is limited to (and perhaps responsive to and perhaps even controlled?? by) those things to which we are used to ‘persons’ responding.”

    Absolutely. It’s one of those discussions where I don’t have the right words. I doubt if I would even have thought that deeply about it if I hadn’t been researching ESS where I kept asking the YRR who the Holy Spirit reports to in their trinitarian pecking order. And then The Shack blew the public discussion wide open using the person approach.

    Cheryl Schatz did some heavy lifting research on the Holy Spirit in both OT and NT because of her work with Cults..It’s a big topic. I am reluctant to subscribe any formulaic approach.

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  276. elastigirl: CJ seems to think women in leadership simply because they are women were what caused Willow Creek’s descent.

    I am somewhere in between on this in this particular circumstance.

    I do not think that women in leadership at that church, because they were women, caused this. But I do think that Hybels’ alleged interesting in having and promoting women in leadership, apparently as a position statement in itself, as opposed to just wanting the best people available be they male or female, is in retrospect a red flag.

    And I think that these women in leadership, if they accepted the job based in part on gender (we want women in leadership) were under increased responsibility to go the extra mile to make it work for ‘women’ and not just for themselves, if that is what they were doing. If they accepted the job, accepted the admiration, became examples of women in leadership and played it for what it was worth, and if they cashed the paycheck and then dropped the ball, then heck no. They have made it look worse, not better, for the issue of women in leadership in churches.

    And, of course, it would depend on the extent to which they knew or did not know what was going on. I don’t think they were hired as security for the premises so to speak.

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  277. elastigirl,

    That’s just it. CJ is allowed to have his opinion and attend a church that also uses gender as a prerequisite. Church is voluntary. The converse view is that a prerequisite of women in leadership will prevent these problems. Just not true.

    It’s the “individual’s” comptetence, integrity, etc. it’s that thinking/approach that I find is true equality .

    I would just avoid CJ’s church. And hope more people would seek our broader discussions.

    A creepy aspect about Willow Creek as I look back was Hybels dining out on all the accolades thrown his way for promoting women in leadership. A focus on individual competencies, integrity, etc , instead of a quota approach seems more wise.

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  278. TS00,

    I wish it were that simple. People who have been in close proximity to a well-heeled and well-liked narcissist or sociopath will tell you it’s not. They play a long-term deceptive manipulation game. They get off on it You don’t even know you’re being brain gamed because they are so nice and supportive. you don’t even know that you played right into their hands up to that moment it becomes uncomfortable. That’s why they turn on you so quick if you confront them. You become the bad person for going along. I wouldn’t wish a narcissist or sociopath on my worst enemy. It’s like living in a Black Op.

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  279. Lydia,

    BTW: The mantra heard from many mega pastors is “believe the best”. Sounds nice doesn’t it? if I remember correctly that originated at Willow Creek back in the early 90s. It’s not wise. How about we be wise, polite and neutral until trust is built with people?

    But it was the perfect mantra for Hybels because he could point to you and say you’re not believing the best. It’s Thought Reform.

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  280. Lydia: The mantra heard from many mega pastors is “believe the best”. Sounds nice doesn’t it? if I remember correctly that originated at Willow Creek back in the early 90s. It’s not wise. How about we be wise, polite and neutral until trust is built with people?

    On the other hand: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” (John’s gospel about Jesus, KJV)

    That is definitely not ‘believe the best’. It is more like proceed with caution.

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  281. okrapod: The exclusively Jewish thinking has not led to the massive conversion of itself to acceptance of Jesus not even as a prophet much less as the messiah. Neither have the Greek philosophical ideations on their own given us any sort of stable religious construct in Christianity or anywhere else.

    You’re right on the money with that one okrapod.
    I hope I don’t give the impression that Judaism is theeeee answer, good heavens no.
    I pick and choose ideas from all over the map; to me, good ideas are good ideas.

    Whether the good ideas are from the Abrahamic religions, or from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, I care not. Case in point:

    If not for the symbolic place holders 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 ; invented millenia ago by the Hindu mathematicians, our arithmetic would still be plodding along with Roman numerals. Not a pretty prospect.

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  282. Benn,

    Hi Benn, there is a lot of heretic hunting that comes with discussing the Trinity. Servetus burned at the stake for questioning it. It’s another place where I think our lack of cultural ancient Hebrew understanding and scholarship really limits us. I’m getting ready to run into a meeting and may comment more later if you’re interested.

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  283. Lydia: Hi Benn, there is a lot of heretic hunting that comes with discussing the Trinity. Servetus burned at the stake for questioning it.

    A contemporary of Isaac Newton, one Thomas Aikenhead, was hanged at Edinbruh Scotland in 1697 for non-belief in Trinitarian theology.

    We’ve come a long way baby, we really have, from those good old days to which many of our present day Christian mullahs would love to return us to.

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  284. TS00,

    since when does ‘egalitarian = sexual familiarity’ between men and women?

    it’s curious to me that Hybels/Bilezikian would make such assumptions. (unless they were predatory, lacking the ability to read other people, or just really mixed up to begin with)

    i don’t believe i’ve ever seen ‘egalitarian’ articulated in any such terms anywhere. or observed it acted out in this way. apart from these Willow Creek shenanigans.

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  285. elastig,

    I don’t know, it seems to me that we see this a lot in the Hollywood, jet set world, in which women often allow the focus to continue to be on not merely ‘looking fabulous’ but underdressing to the point of near nudity, then claiming they are above using ‘sex appeal’ to get ahead. I’m not bashing beautiful women, just saying that it would be wise to not ‘trust’ the sincerity of feminist-talking men who secretly demand favors in exchange for career advancement. Seems like that is a lot of what is behind the #metoo movement.

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  286. Muff Potter,

    Yep. Yet the word “Trinity” isn’t in scripture. It was part of systematizing interpretation. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

    For folks who have not been in these discussions in the past, That in no way implies I don’t believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Another interesting question: “Who” is the Lord of Host Army’s? Oh, the interesting discussions we could have at church if people did not freak out over any questioning of this sort!

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  287. elastig:
    TS00,

    since when does ‘egalitarian = sexual familiarity’ between men and women?

    it’s curious to me that Hybels/Bilezikian would make such assumptions.(unless they were predatory, lacking the ability to read other people, or just really mixed up to begin with)

    i don’t believe i’ve ever seen ‘egalitarian’ articulated in any such terms anywhere.or observed it acted out in this way. apart from these Willow Creek shenanigans.

    Ah! Because Hybels gave the women “agency”. Lol. That was a point I made on another thread why that approach doesn’t work in the long run. Not that it automatically invites the perversion of Hybels but it still invites the idea that it’s not earned but a gift conferred by the men. (What they give -they can manage or take away)

    Okrapod had a great comment about this explaining how medical school worked for her as a female in the 60’s. I had a similar experience as a female in a man’s career when I started in the 80’s. The civil law, not a human, gave me agency. I earned the rest with no special considerations due to being female. I honestly don’t understand the feminists today. Victor Davis Hanson (in his 60’s) says the feminists of his college days are nothing like those today. They were much more independent and willing to earn their equality. Booker T, in his book, said the color of equality is green. 🙂

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  288. Lydia,

    Lydia, yes without a doubt trying to discuss or even get our head around the trinity is overwhelming.
    But also it is a worthy discussion, because if we look back at most all the train wrecks of religion we will most likely find that they ( pick your railroad; JW, LDS, ( their current prophet now says they won’t go by the terms mormon or LDS any longer ?) oneness Pentecostalism and the like didn’t get the trinity correct, so to me it is hugely important.

    I saw down thread you said the word trinity is not in the Bible, yes and Bible is not in the Bible.
    For dispensationalist the word rapture is not in the Bible, and for our Calvinist friends ( and I must admit,I have many Calvinist friends) the word tension is not in the Bible, they can’t go two hours without using tension when they are pontificating about covenant theology.

    As to Michael Servetus if it hadn’t been the trinity, it most likely would have been another perceived heresy.
    I believe in the doctrine of the trinity, but I don’t foresee killing anyone over it

    Heck the SBC can’t even get good children’s literature correct all the time for VBS when trying to school children about the trinity, e.g. ICE **** WATER ****STEAM**** UGH

    Off topic it’s looks like John MacArthur is getting ready to unload on the YRR on social justice
    His church canceled the western version of T4G conference back around Easter, and I just had a feeling then that it was over SJ & CRT. I emailed Phil Johnson and he told me that their church couldn’t approve of the break out sessions topics so they pulled the plug, I suspected it was SJ, but he would not go in to details.

    MacArthur over the coming weeks will share his views, should be interesting to see how this plays out, when he sends Moore, Akin, Platt to the kiddies table at the next TGC banquet……

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  289. Benn,

    One reason I hesitate to discuss it is because one has to go through every scenario of what horror or heresy they DON’T believe or subscribe to before the actual topic is addressed. I am aware of what words are not in scripture what I was alluding to, albeit badly, is how Yahweh is referenced in the OT which isn’t Father. There is “Father of Israel” and such but not God the Father. I always find Isaiah 9 interesting when it comes to discussion on this topic. There the coming Messiah is described as an Everlasting “Father”, Counselor, Mighty God. Then I study Hebrew/Greek thinking of era to find the concept of “Son” of God has cultural implications both ways. In Hebrew culture of the era the first born son is a representative of his Father in transactions. If you are doing business with the son, it was considered the same as doing business with the father. That is why they wanted to kill Him in John 5. Then we have the “son of gods” thing with Caesars. What does all this mean? Not sure. I like to put it all in a pot and stir it up.

    I don’t have answers. Just questions and wondering if our doctrinal boxes are too small, sometimes.

    Gee, I might just agree with McArthur for once for different reasons, of course. Worst thing in the world is having frauds who have supported horrible injustice for years on your side— all of a sudden. Hmmm. I hate being a pawn in someone else’s brain game advantage.

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  290. Sòpwith: Remember, da gate o’hell shall not prevail.

    Agreed! There has always been the Church within the church that you refer to … indeed, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it … the Body of Christ is alive and well! But the gates of hell are certainly prevailing against much of the organized church; TWW and other watchblogs document it daily. My concern lies with the institutional church which is just not scaring the devil when it gets up in the morning. You can find it in every community – where religious practice supersedes a relationship with Christ, where the teachings and traditions of men have replaced the worship of God in spirit and truth. The genuine church (often embedded with the counterfeit) is moving forward – often in obscurity. Praise God!

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  291. Benn,

    One reason I hesitate to discuss it is because one has to go through every scenario of what horror or heresy they DON’T believe or subscribe to before the actual topic is addressed. Not because its overwhelming or hard to wrap the head around. I find it fascinating. I also do not think we will be punished for discussing it even if we float ideas or questions. One reason why the cults use the Trinity is for indoctrination into a spiritual pecking order or to remove your belief in the indwelling Holy spirit. There are sinister reasons.

    I am aware of what words are not in scripture what I was alluding to, albeit badly, is how Yahweh is referenced in the OT– which isn’t Father. There He is “Father of Israel” and such but not like as Father of a Trinity. Yet, Yahweh was at Creation, Let Us… and so on.

    I always find Isaiah 9 interesting, too, when it comes to discussion on this topic. There, the coming Messiah is described as an Everlasting “Father”, Counselor, Mighty God. Then I study Hebrew/Greek thinking of era to find the concept of “Son” of God has cultural implications both ways. In the Hebrew culture of the era the first born son is a representative of his Father in transactions. If you are doing business with the son, it was considered the same as doing business with the father. That is why they wanted to kill Him in John 5 for daring to suggest such. Then we have the “son of gods” thing with Caesar. What does all this mean? Not sure. I like to put it all in a bigger Yahweh pot and stir it up.

    I have not even touched on all the OT stuff when it comes to Yahweh.

    I don’t have answers. Just questions and wondering if our doctrinal boxes are too small, sometimes.

    Gee, I might just agree with McArthur for once– for different reasons, of course. Worst thing in the world is having cons and frauds who have supported horrible injustice for years suddenly sjw’s. Hmmm. I hate being an ignorant pawn in someone else’s brain game advantage. Isn’t trust supposed to be a “thing” anymore?

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  292. Benn: …and the like didn’t get the trinity correct, so to me it is hugely important.

    I trust that you are aware that the concepts of God-ness/ Trinity are not identical between the Romans and the Orthodox and the Evangelicals. The fact that there are other groups also with yet other ideas is not surprising, or for that matter all that ‘huge’ to me.

    Just look at the evolved doctrines and practices of other christian traditions besides whatever brand of protestantism

    It is significant that Jesus said that people should believe that he was in the Father and the Father in him ‘or else’ believe him because of the works he did. That, and the fact that he did not lay out trinitarian doctrine as we now have it, but only mentioned relationships without much explanation at all, leave room for people to ‘cool it’ perhaps on some idea of salvation by doctrine alone with their specific concept of the Trinity being a necessary basis for all other beliefs.

    Church councils have some value, but if you believe the pronouncements because they were the pronouncements of the Church, then it means you believe in the Church (Roman? Orthodox?) and perhaps you should convert. That sounds harsh, but to me it is only logical.

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  293. Benn,

    One reason I hesitate to discuss it is because one has to go through every scenario of what horror or heresy they DON’T believe or subscribe to before the actual topic is addressed. Just asking questions goes off into ad hominin rabbit trails. Been there done that on Reformed blogs. (Silly me!) Not because its overwhelming or hard to wrap the head around because I find it fascinating. I also do not think we will be punished for discussing it even if we float ideas or questions outside of tradition. Several reasons why the cults misuse the Trinity is for indoctrination into a spiritual pecking order or to remove your belief in the indwelling Holy spirit. There are sinister reasons.

    I am aware of what words are not in scripture. So what I was alluding to, albeit badly, is how Yahweh is referenced in the OT– which isn’t Father. There, He is “Father of Israel” and such but not Father of a Trinity, so to speak. Yet, Yahweh was at Creation, Let Us… and so on.

    I always find Isaiah 9 interesting, too, when it comes to discussion on this topic. There, the coming Messiah is described as an Everlasting “Father”, Counselor, Mighty God. Then I study ancient Hebrew/Greek thinking to find the concept of “Son” of God has cultural implications both ways. In the Hebrew culture of the era the first born son is a representative of his Father in transactions. If you are doing business with the son, it was considered the same as doing business with the father. That is why they wanted to kill Him in John 5 for daring to suggest such. Then we have the “son of gods” thing with Caesar. What does all this mean? Not sure. I like to put it all in a bigger Yahweh pot and stir it up.

    I have not even touched on all the OT stuff when it comes to Yahweh.

    I don’t have answers. Just questions and wondering if our doctrinal boxes are too small, sometimes.

    Gee, I might just agree with McArthur for once– for different reasons, of course. Worst thing in the world is having cons and frauds who have supported horrible injustice and patriarchy for years are now sjw’s. Hmmm. Isn’t trust supposed to be a “thing” anymore? 🙂

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  294. Benn,

    “Heck the SBC can’t even get good children’s literature correct all the time for VBS when trying to school children about the trinity, e.g. ICE **** WATER ****STEAM**** UGH”
    +++++++++++

    i don’t spend any time at all pontificating the Trinity — i just know God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are all God. Don’t see any need to analyze it further.

    but what’s wrong with the ice/water/steam analogy?

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  295. elastigirl,

    If you freeze water, it is in a real sense no longer water, but is now only ice. A five gallon bucket can only be water, or only ice, or only turned into steam.

    It can never be all three at same time

    That to me is the difference and why I say God is one esense or being, but in being one esense, is still 3 persons.

    I have really enjoyed reading all of the back and forth about glory and trinity that has been posted this week, truely fascinating…..

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  296. okrapod,

    Oh, I think Jesus spoke of the trinity, without using the word, or without laying out specific doctrine

    But my larger points are most heretics deviate from The written word, and from the trinity. ( and yes good people can take sound doctrine to extremes)

    And yes I agree the splitting of hairs on the trinity can get intense

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  297. Max: You can find it in every community – where religious practice supersedes a relationship with Christ, where the teachings and traditions of men have replaced the worship of God in spirit and truth. The genuine church (often embedded with the counterfeit) is moving forward – often in obscurity. Praise God!

    Indeed, let’s praise God for all the not-so-famous brothers and sisters who faithfully follow in Jesus’ steps in all parts of the world, including cities and towns of America.

    Here is a wild thought, do you think it might help in preparing people for leadership?

    1. Let them spend a significant period of time on the mission field first, serving in humble setting without fanfare. They should be under some supervision. They can find out whether this work of sharing the gospel and growing Christians is really what they want to do.

    2. Let them spend a significant time doing prayer journals in obscurity. Included in this discipline can be a separate journal where they write out systematically prayers for small churches in city and rural areas, for missionaries who serve in the Middle East, Japan, Southeast Asia, and other places. They can pray for imprisoned/persecuted believers in many countries, for real problems of this land such as violence, homelessness, human trafficking, drug addiction, etc. etc. This part of the journal can be read by others for verification.

    3. Beyond theology books, they could be required to read/review a good selection of biographies /stories of Missionaries, and work on their relationship with Christ away from the limelight.

    After they are given a leadership post, they should still go out to serve elsewhere in humble places periodically while allowing others to serve at their post for the season. No one should get a sense of entitlement for a certain leadership position, this applies to Elders as well as Leaders, Pastors. In some churches immature or non-spiritual Elders/Boards have too much control over their pastors!

    “Beware of passion that makes you reach for position, because it will end in spiritual infamy.” Interesting words by Oswald Chambers. But ultimately nothing is hidden from God, including our inner thoughts and secret deeds.

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  298. Lydia: I don’t have answers. Just questions and wondering if our doctrinal boxes are too small, sometimes.

    Yes! This is all I ask for as well – the right to ask questions and not be forced into someone else’s box! Surely Truth would never be afraid of cross examination?

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  299. Benn: most all the train wrecks of religion we will most likely find that they ( pick your railroad; JW, LDS, ( their current prophet now says they won’t go by the terms mormon or LDS any longer ?) oneness Pentecostalism and the like didn’t get the trinity correct, so to me it is hugely important.

    IMO, much of the abuse of the Institutional Church throughout history rested on the false authority to judge what is ‘right’ – beginning with the ‘right’ definition of the Trinity. As someone else suggested with Servetus, if it had not been the Trinity, it would have been something else. These are mere tools that grant oppressive men power. Who gives any man, men, council or institution the last say on what is ‘right’? Does majority rule, or impressive credentials? Maybe the laying on of hands. I’m sticking with the still small voice within, with the caveat that I must be always open to the dangers of ignorance and self deception and be willing to constantly reexamine my beliefs as I receive new information, experience and maturity. You can’t do that when some ‘authority’ says ‘This is the unchallengable Truth, which no man may question!’ Especially if they collude with the state and get the power to burn you at the stake or chop off your head.

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  300. TS00,

    Historical note: Calvin himself had some issues with the orthodox definition of the Trinity, and got into some trouble for not teaching it. Until it came in handy as an excuse to murder dissenters.

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  301. Benn,

    When Cheryl Schatz did her video refuting ESS she presented quite a few examples of the “persons” of the Trinity doing the same things. The best example I can think of at the moment is the resurrection. We have scriptures relating that the Father raised Jesus, The Holy Spirit raised Jesus and Jesus raised Jesus.

    Don’t ask me what conclusion I come to. It’s just more info that is right at our fingertips in scripture to put in the big pot.

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  302. okrapod,

    ” That, and the fact that he did not lay out trinitarian doctrine as we now have it, but only mentioned relationships without much explanation at all, leave room for people to ‘cool it’ perhaps on some idea of salvation by doctrine alone with their specific concept of the Trinity being a necessary basis for all other beliefs. ”

    You said it better than I can. And you make a good point about it becoming salvation by doctrine alone. The cross theories are much the same. I have been chilled to the bone that PSA has become the official salvic doctrine of the SBC. I can understand some Substitutionary Atonement applied when it comes to the Cross but not the Penal.

    I am one of those who wonder if we have gone too far with “atonement” theories in general? I lean more to the ‘sacrificial/victory over death’ view.

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  303. Lydia,

    Mathew chapter 3….. Jesus is baptized, Holy Spirit descends down as a dove, and Farther says this is my son in whom I am well pleased.. I’m not a fan of the old King James Version at all, but look at some of Paul’s writings about his use of examples or when he uses ensamples…..

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  304. Lydia: I don’t have answers. Just questions and wondering if our doctrinal boxes are too small, sometimes.

    Nor do I have answers. But I will say this, if the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him (1 Kings 8:27) I have sincere doubts that the writings of theologians past and present can.

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  305. Benn: If you freeze water, it is in a real sense no longer water, but is now only ice. A five gallon bucket can only be water, or only ice, or only turned into steam.

    It can never be all three at same time

    I would beg to differ. Your five gallon volume of ice exists as all three states simultaneously. Solid ice, liquid water, and water vapor; all are present, and none of the three is greater than or less than the other two.

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  306. Benn,

    “If you freeze water, it is in a real sense no longer water, but is now only ice. A five gallon bucket can only be water, or only ice, or only turned into steam.

    It can never be all three at same time”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    perhaps this is taking the metaphor too far.

    seems to me no metaphor is perfect — at some point, it breaks down. but it seems to me the point of a metaphor is not to be equivalent, but simply to help explain and understand generally.

    i don’t think the function of figures of speech/rhetorical devices is to prove anything (the way math and science seem to do), but rather to simply assist in conveying meaning.
    ——–

    “I have really enjoyed reading all of the back and forth about glory and trinity that has been posted this week, truely fascinating…”
    +++++++++++++

    well, it’s like cold pure water and fresh air from remote high places to hear what thoughtful people really think and wonder about, as opposed to the dogma and propaganda of the evangelical industry.

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  307. birdoftheair: In some churches immature or non-spiritual Elders/Boards have too much control over their pastors!

    In some churches, immature or non-spiritual “pastors” have too much control over elders! (e.g. New Calvinist church plants)

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  308. Benn,

    Benn, This is not about winning a debate. The problem is for every verse that communicates ONE way there are others in various places that communicate something differently when it comes to persons of the Trinity and their “function”. And most Trinitarian talk is of “function”.

    Such as the resurrection to point out a few:

    John 2:19 (Jesus)
    Romans 8:11 (Holy Spirit)
    Acts 2:24 (The Father)

    Where/Who was Jesus in the OT? He was at Creation. John 1 seems to make that quite clear.

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  309. Lydia,

    I think we may agree more that we realize, ( due to my poor communication skills)

    Are you of the opinion that someone could have a traditional ( I know that is open for discussion) view of the trinity, and not subscribe to ESS?

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  310. birdoftheair: Here is a wild thought, do you think it might help in preparing people for leadership? …

    Your recommendations are great! However, they don’t apply to the American church … because church leaders are not really expected to be humble, pray, or sacrifice. Doing church in America is a completely different thing than living for Jesus in areas where the Church (the real one) is persecuted. We look for entertaining preacher-boys in our pulpits, not men of God.

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  311. Muff Potter,

    It’s strangely creepy to think that ESS research did me a big favor. By the time I was winding down, Yahweh was huge yet much less distant to me. The Calvinist’s determinist god has been doing quite a number on lots of people.

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  312. Benn,

    In response to which person A might say: ‘Sounds like a Trinity to me.’

    Person B might say: ‘Sounds like three gods to me, the son being less than the father, of course since it was the father who stated that he was pleased with the son and not the other way around.’

    Person C might say: ‘God has many sons; why focus on just this one?’ and also ‘We believe in Holy Spirit also; just not as a person.” (I heard this on youtube from an orthodox israeli rabbi.)

    Person D might say: ‘For the good of the empire we need this solved; I think I will call a council.’

    Person E might say: ‘In the absence of a specific catechetical statement from Jesus explaining exactly what this means, why don’t we just call it mystery and leave it at that.’

    If the church had solved this in the first few centuries (yes, that long) there would have been no need for Nicea. If it was all that spelled out for the early church, they being chronologically closer to the teachings of the apostles, why were there differences of opinion in the first place to the extent that there were? And why are there still official differences (not just individuals) centuries and centuries later?

    And mostly, why can’t we take things like the incarnation and the atonement and just say that we believe it but we don’t understand it? What is the basic assumption that makes us think that we can understand God anyhow?

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  313. Lydia,

    yeah…. i have a few “Jesus…really? why did you have to say it like that?? you didn’t foresee how twerps of the future would exploit it? or how paranoia-inducing it could be for others?”

    Jesus was a product of his time. (God of eternity taking time out to grow and learn and experience as a human being)

    how i see it.

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  314. Benn,

    LOL. Yeah, “Traditional” is debatable. Maybe KenF will show up and share the “Traditional” Orthodox view of the Trinity. He has done a ton of homework on the differences.

    As to your last question: Of course. But I think it’s easy to see how subtle one can slip in ESS with the “Three persons doing specific but different functions in the Trinity” doctrinal focus. I watched them do it. I listened to their sermons, read their books. The only thing that saved me from that slippery slope was the ladies in the SBC when I was a kid who drilled “priesthood of believer”, “soul competency” and “free will” into our heads. We are responsible for what we believe. And I knew they rarely mentioned Jesus. It became a thing with me. And when they did, it was always in some subordinate function to the Father. Then I began to wonder where the Holy Spirit fit into the pecking order but none of the SBTS plebs invading our church could tell me. Then I learned there was an actual name for it!!! I went to town after that. :o)

    So I have to wonder if the strict view of “Three persons doing specific and different functions in the Trinity” is problematic? The YRR always made it clear they are of ONE essence. It’s cognitive dissonance all over again. Like the doctrine of complementarian means equal when it is taught as patriarchy. And people trust these guys!

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  315. okrapod,

    Interesting comment, do you personally subscribe to any settled doctrine ( in your mind anyway) that has essential and eternal ramifications/consequences? I’m not judging, just curious.

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  316. Benn: Interesting comment, do you personally subscribe to any settled doctrine ( in your mind anyway) that has essential and eternal ramifications/consequences? I’m not judging, just curious.

    I think that God is god and that we are not; that God will achieve what He has set out to do whether or not we understand it, and that in eternity (I suppose that is what you mean) we will be surprised at how little we understood about what was happening on the larger scene.

    I am an anglo-catholic episcopalian which is tons less cut and dried than most christian constructs. For one example only, we believe in the eucharistic real presence but we do not specify nor limit how that might be explained exactly. When I found these people I was greatly relieved to find folks who were taking the same approach to ‘beliefs’ that I was-both more traditional and also less restrictive. I was born and raised SBC before SBC self identified as ‘evangelical’ much less ‘reformed’. I am not that now and never much really was according to today’s standards.

    If you have some specific question I will be glad to answer it.

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  317. About Ice-Water-Steam, here is something that might be of interest to some:

    Since water is a created matter, the illustration of ice-water-steam may not be ideal for the three persons in one (as God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) concept. But scientifically, if you read a book on Physical Chemistry you will find that Ice-Water-Steam can coexist when the proper combination of pressure and temperature is provided. It’s called the state of equilibrium.

    Also, all of these three forms are of the same molecule H2O. The difference is in the distance between the H2O molecules which determines whether it will be solid, liquid or gaseous/vapor state. The speed of movement of these molecules in each form also varies.

    I am no expert. Just something worth doing research on.

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  318. birdoftheair: Since water is a created matter, the illustration of ice-water-steam may not be ideal for the three persons in one (as God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) concept.

    Ideal? No. But it still beats rock, paper, scissors.

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  319. 2 Corinthians 5:21- “For He made Him(Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him “.

    It is hard to imagine that Jesus not only bore our sin upon Himself, furthermore, He actually became SIN as a result for you and me! That SIN was killed, and washed in His incorruptible blood!

    Then The Holy Spirit made Him rise to life. He is still alive. He will be in eternity. We are coheirs with Christ Jesus.

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