Churches: Assume There Are Predators in Your Midst. Alleged NewSpring Abuser Volunteered at Elevation Church and The Cove Church

Child abuse does not go away, but 90 percent of child abuse is preventable.-Karen Adams


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One Friday, Ryan Ashton and I are going to write a response to this post Protestants also face #ChurchToo scandals. Reporters: Here’s a handy way to assess them.by Richard Ostling. I would like our sharp readers to preview this post and prepare for a non-militant, kinder, gentler, adn *non-sharp-elbowest* response. Well, maybe  😉


Warning: Churches (and parents) must assume that pedophiles are targeting their children.

All entities which work with children, including churches, must assume that there are pedophiles in their midst. Why do I need to say this? Pedophiles will go where there are lots of children and figure out ways to get alone with them. Unfortunately, there are some people who appear to believe they should wait until something obvious happens. That mindset is dangerous! Pedophiles are clever and know how to keep things on the down low.

On Twitter, I noticed some folks asking if the involved churches ever saw anything any actions by Jacop Robert Lee “Jake” Hazlett, age 28, that would cause them to suspect something was up. We cannot wait for that to happen if we are to keep ahead of the games pedophiles platy.,

Given the number of lawsuits that will probably be filed because of the prolific activity of this pedophile, it appears that the church did not know how to keep children safe. NewSpring should have had two people involved in bathroom duty, as well as with any other activity that might cause a child to be alone with an adult without a family member present. What I’m about to say may sound harsh (or sharp elbowed) but it must be said. If a church cannot manage children safely, it should not have a children’s program.

NewSpring allowed at least 14 kids to be molested in a short period of time. I have a question for the leaders. Were they more interested in growing their church numbers as opposed to providing a safe environment? It would seem so to this observer.

Did evil find a way to elude NewSpring’s best efforts?

Again, I contend that the church leadership did not do enough to prevent this from happening. They should have had 2 people taking little kids to the bathroom and they didn’t. Yes, evil was present in the form of a pedophile. Frankly, it was rather easy for him to slip past the measures in place.

According to Leonard Blair of The Christian Post: NewSpring leaders ‘gutted’ as lawsuit suggests volunteer molested 14 children in 90 Days. While claiming they have yet to receive the papers regarding a lawsuit(s), they had this to say about their *best efforts.* I wish they would stop saying this. They did not fully protect the children.

“We want our NewSpring family to know that as the leaders of this church we are gutted by these events. We know this happened on our watch, and though we have taken great measures over the years to protect our children, evil found a way to breach our best efforts. This devastates us to the core. We are heartbroken for the families directly impacted, our volunteers who serve with KidSpring, and for all of the families who trust us each week to care for their children,” the statement said in part.

NewSpring Teaching Pastor Brad Cooper pushed back at the “enemy” during his sermon on Sunday, according to ABC News 4, and vowed that the abuse will not cause the church to retreat.

“We will not let the enemy cause us to back up, to cower, to insulate ourselves. We have done everything we could have possibly do to bring law enforcement along,” Cooper said.

Thankfully, they did respond when the mother of one child came forward.

…”We took a mom’s accusation, and we were able to corroborate her accusation that this volunteer, in fact, has done some incredibly evil things,” he added.

The attorney for the first child, Josh Slavin hinted at more to come for other churches.

….Slavin told the AP that Hazlett who only started volunteering at NewSpring in March may have been volunteering at another church in North Carolina and there may be other victims around the state.

“We’re concerned that there may be victims in North Carolina as well,” he said. “The scope of this is pretty astounding to me.”

More lawsuits appear to be on the way

The attorney for the first child claimed that the assault on this little child was preventable. I tend to agree and so, it seems, do other attorneys since more lawsuits are anticipated.

The Post and Courier reported on this in New charges filed against North Charleston church volunteer accused of child sex abuse. Please note what they have to say about the *best efforts* of NewSpring. Notice how they point out the repeated sexual abuse of other children.

Additionally, Charleston-based attorneys David Yarborough and William Applegate said through a representative that they, too, have been contacted by victims and are taking a closer look at the church’s pre-employment screening processes, though they have not filed a complaint in any court as of Monday afternoon. Mount Pleasant attorney Charlie Condon said Monday he and his team are also investigating the church’s screening practices and is representing the family of a victim.

“One of our greatest areas of concern is NewSpring’s negligence in these cases,” Applegate said in a statement. “There have been many questions raised about the institutional failures that created an environment for child sexual abuse to occur repeatedly.”

Parents: Report directly to the police. Do not first go to the pastor.

The above quoted Post and Courier article ended with the church standing by their employment procedures which, given the situation, is downright silly as well as dangerous for children in their church.

Church officials previously told The Post and Courier they stood by their employee and volunteer screening procedures, which include searches of criminal history and national sex offender databases.

The following advice to report to the pastors or the police at the end of the article is wrong. Parents, go directly to the police. They will contact the pastor. This is advice that is given to any victims or families that approach abuse advocates. We are also available to help the families with the process if needed. I recommend that families also speak with legal counsel as soon as possible after alerting the police.

Church officials stated that anyone who believes their child may have had inappropriate interactions with Hazlett should call North Charleston Police Officer Paul Schoolfield at 843-740-2521 or NewSpring’s Charleston Campus Pastor Ryan Kirkland at 803-413-8422.

Elevation Church was uneasy about Hazlett who worked with children for 4 years as volunteer.

According to WCCB Charlotte: Former Elevation Church Volunteer Facing Child Sex Charges, Accused Of Molesting At Least 14 Boys, Officials Say,

Elevation denies having received allegations but moved him out of his role with children because they were uneasy about how he interacted with children. So, did they receive some sort of report? Why were they uneasy? Did they fail to report *something* to the police? If Elevation was concerned about Hazlett, why didn’t they follow up to see where he went after Elevation. Sadly, it appears to me that they may actually have been glad that he *moved along.* How often have we see this in churches? Remember  Prestonwood?

Elevation Church says it received no allegations involving Hazlett while he volunteered at the Lake Norman campus between 2014 and 2018. However, in 2015, Elevation moved Hazlett from the kids clubhouse program to an administrative volunteer role after campus leadership says they felt uneasy with how he interacted with supervised children.

Davidson police are investigating another report of abuse by Hazlett

From the above WCCB article:

Additionally, Hazlett is under investigation by Davidson Police for another alleged assault involving a 7-year-old boy who told staff at Davidson Elementary School that Hazlett assaulted him off campus sometime between September and November of last yea

Hazlett also attended The Cove Church in Mooresville, NC and was there for 4 years prior to Elevation.

According to an article by Bob Allen for Baptist News: Lawsuit says church missed child abuse caught on security camera.

Is there a tie in between in the off campus abuse report of a school child in Davidson? Davidson is 6 miles from Mooresville and the child was assaulted off the school campus.

Hazlett previously attended The Cove Church in Mooresville, North Carolina, another multi-site congregation affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Police in Davidson, North Carolina, said Tuesday they are investigating Hazlett about allegations in their jurisdiction involving a 7-year-old boy.

The SBC connection: All 3 involved churches are part of the SBC.

According to Baptist News:

NewSpring Church started out in 1999 as a new church startup aided by funds from the South Carolina Baptist Convention. While the church is commonly described as non-denominational, the Southern Baptist Convention lists all 14 campuses in an online directory of Southern Baptist churches.

The Cove Church is also part of the SBC as is Elevation Church. I sure hope the SBC will begin to address the fact that a number of their churches have had pedophile situations. I’ve been blogging for 10 years and have seen more and more reports and more and more meetings with precious little action.

If any families want to tell stories, please contact me at dee@thewartburgwatch.com. I am so, so sorry for the pain you are bearing.

Let me repeat this one more time.

If a church cannot manage children safely, it should not have a children’s program.


Comments

Churches: Assume There Are Predators in Your Midst. Alleged NewSpring Abuser Volunteered at Elevation Church and The Cove Church — 183 Comments

  1. If a church cannot manage children safely, it should not have a children’s program.

    Exactly right and a church that has an incident after poor management should admit they have no business being in business.

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  2. …though we have taken great measures over the years to protect our children, evil found a way to breach our best efforts. …

    “We will not let the enemy cause us to back up, to cower, to insulate ourselves…” Cooper said.

    My translation: This only happened because we are such good Christians that Satan attacked us. The problem has nothing to do with the flawed human beings in our church. It’s all those powers and principalities. Don’t hand Satan a second victory by letting our church fail over this! Remember, we’re under attack!

    (Maybe that’s too cynical, but I have been involved in more than one Christian group that thought this way.)

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  3. From the OP:

    “I sure hope the SBC will begin to address the fact that a number of their churches have had pedophile situations. I’ve been blogging for 10 years and have seen more and more reports and more and more meetings with precious little action.”

    Besides passing meaningless resolutions, the only thing the SBC can do about these issues is to throw out the churches involved. I would not mind seeing that happen.

    Unfortunately, nothing will happen.

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  4. Ken P.:
    From the OP:

    “I sure hope the SBC will begin to address the fact that a number of their churches have had pedophile situations. I’ve been blogging for 10 years and have seen more and more reports and more and more meetings with precious little action.”

    Besides passing meaningless resolutions, the only thing the SBC can do about these issues is to throw out the churches involved. I would not mind seeing that happen.

    Unfortunately, nothing will happen.

    Back in May Al Mohler (SBC pontiff?) issued a statement: https://albertmohler.com/2018/05/23/wrath-god-poured-humiliation-southern-baptist-convention/. But has anything concrete been done by him or the SBC? I am unaware of anything other than this statement.

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  5. mitch:
    If a church cannot manage children safely, it should not have a children’s program.

    When Noble was the leader of New Spring, he did not allow children in the main service at all. That makes this case even worse for New Spring, if families chose to attend there, they had to put their kids in the care of the church volunteers. The church has a responsibility to make sure kids aren’t abused.

    I have no idea if New Spring still has the no kids rule

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  6. I’ve never commented here before, but want to thank you for this blog.
    At this point in our society, as sad as it may be, I honestly do not think any church should have a “children’s ministry”.
    33 year’s ago as a Nursing School Senior on my psych rotation I read the chart of a pedophile whose MO was to join a church and get in to children’s ministry. Allowing him to gain trust of parents and ultimately groom and molest children.
    In absolute shock I was at Wednesday night service a few months later and saw him join my church!
    I called the Children’s ministry Director ( huge SBC church in Memphis) and called his Psychiatrist (also a member-who did nothing)
    He was effectively black listed from the ministry and as far as I know left the church.
    He had never been convicted of anything!

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  7. I would highly recommend implementing the Boy Scouts of America Youth Protection program. It is top dog in my book. It is based upon education of adults to create an environment of deteriance. If a large population is properly trained, the predators see and feel it and move on down the road. Nobody is ever left alone with a child in the program and they can’t even text a child without copying another adult. The Youth Protection Training is free and can be found on their Website. Be careful to point fingers here. It could happen in your very own church. I have worked in several children ministries and they all lack in security. They all have dedicated workers with good intentions but never enough consideration is given to the children.

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  8. Ken F (aka Tweed): But has anything concrete been done by him or the SBC? I am unaware of anything other than this statement.

    Other than some random gum-flapping around the SBC meeting in June, I have not heard anything else either.

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  9. Ken P.: Besides passing meaningless resolutions, the only thing the SBC can do about these issues is to throw out the churches involved. I would not mind seeing that happen.

    Unfortunately, nothing will happen.

    As a 60+ year Southern Baptist, I can tell you that the SBC is a mess right now. Membership is on the decline. Baptisms are at an all time low. With the elite battling for control over belief and practice, they lost the Baptist identity which characterised them for the last 150 years. Confused about their mission in the 21st century, the SBC forfeited its denominational gifting of evangelism in recent years. They have lost their theological bearings; the denomination may soon split over Calvinism.

    In that atmosphere, the average SBC church doesn’t have enough spiritual power to blow the dust off a peanut. And as evidenced by the increasing number of reports of pedophiles having their way in SBC churches, they are not able to discern evil in their midst.

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  10. “If a church cannot manage children safely, it should not have a children’s program.”

    IMO, if a church cannot manage children safely, it should not be a church.

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  11. Chadbert: When Noble was the leader of New Spring, he did not allow children in the main service at all. That makes this case even worse for New Spring, if families chose to attend there, they had to put their kids in the care of the church volunteers. The church has a responsibility to make sure kids aren’t abused.

    Now that I have never heard of! As someone who almost always kept the kids in church with me, there is no way I would have accepted that. And that really opens this up for lawsuits! I honestly am beginning to wonder if these guys are deliberately burning down the Institutional Church of straw they have so deliberately constructed.

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  12. Vicki,

    Sadly, another common MO for abusers and narcissists of all stripes is to become a pastor. The sheep are yours for the feasting. I have a close relative whose father-in-law pastored his entire life, and was only busted for pedophilia – which at least his wife knew about for decades – in his old age, after abusing his own grandchild, among others. He most likely would not have been convicted had his heart-broken daughter-in-law not bravely testified in court, against the wishes of some in the church and family.

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  13. Max,

    One of the things I believe concerning the Weinstein’s, Cosby’s and Hybels’ in the world is that these men seem to be oblivious to the dangers of making a pact with the Devil. They should not be surprised when they get double-crossed and exposed in the end. There is no honor among demons.

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  14. Note that God sent a deliverer to call out and redeem his true followers from a corrupt institutional religion. Those who considered themselves the ‘elect’, the chosen people of God, but who served him in name only, were utterly destroyed. The true children of the living God, oppressed and burdened by the wealthy, powerful religious leaders were a rag-tag band of misfits whose King was murdered. They were persecuted and condemned by the official, orthodox religious rulers. Jesus warned them they always would be.

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  15. For what it’s worth, I find the crying children images on these posts too disturbing. Yes, the whole reality of abuse is disturbing, and I weep over it quite often; but as someone who does not consume a lot of media, my heart cannot take such graphic pictures of hurting children.

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  16. Chadbert: When Noble was the leader of New Spring, he did not allow children in the main service at all. That makes this case even worse for New Spring, if families chose to attend there, they had to put their kids in the care of the church volunteers.

    Interesting. At our church, children are invited to Sunday school during the service, after the children’s sermon. There’s a minute or two of kids returning to the parents’ pew, or walking out with the teachers (usually with a parent or two accompanying the shy). I never realized that this helps protect the children. It just looked like flexibility to me.

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  17. I’m still waiting for Al Mohler and Mark Dever to retract their letter of support for C.J. Mahaney. Until such time as they do, Mohler’s written words against sexual abuse ring hollow as does Dever’s incessant infatuation with church discipline.

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  18. ““We want our NewSpring family to know that as the leaders of this church we are gutted by these events. We know this happened on our watch, and though we have taken great measures over the years to protect our children, evil found a way to breach our best efforts.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    so, negligence was simply not possible, and we’ll just blame “evil”. in fact, we’ll spin the circumstances to make our church the hero of the story. yeah, that’s the ticket! we are so on gospel-target and so valuable to God’s kingdom that satan is singling is out. we pastors are Alpha Males, you see.

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  19. I’m on the childcare team at my Lutheran church. Our best practices guidelines are pages of regs dedicated to the physical and emotional safety of children. Full stop. One regulation stipulates that no man, at any time, under any circumstance, may take a child to use the restroom since 99% (or a similar figure) of sexual assaults of children are perpetrated by men. This figure must be a well÷kept secret.

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  20. Ken P.:
    From the OP:

    “I sure hope the SBC will begin to address the fact that a number of their churches have had pedophile situations. I’ve been blogging for 10 years and have seen more and more reports and more and more meetings with precious little action.”

    Besides passing meaningless resolutions, the only thing the SBC can do about these issues is to throw out the churches involved. I would not mind seeing that happen.

    Unfortunately, nothing will happen.

    Ken, IMO, back their inaction they are showing their true colors–they do not care.

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  21. Wartburg friends.

    100 percent of the people who attend church are sinners including pastors/staff.

    We can continue to expect that they will sin.

    Not sure that is a reason to close the church however.

    BTW, children also suffer from sin. It is endemic through-out humanity.

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  22. The SBC has needed for a very long time a DATABASE where those who are clergy, staff or volunteers in SBC churches are reported if they are credibly accused, admitted to or convicted of sexual or other forms of abuse. Especially if they are credibly accused or admitted to, as many never get convicted. It would have caught this guy early on and so many, many countless other offenders…including the pastor perp who sexually assaulted me and my two friends 37 years ago when we were young teens (ages 14 to 16).

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  23. So grieved over this. Kudos to Dee for her reporting on this. Message to New Spring members: Leave and find a new church. This should not be a difficult decision. Your leaders were asleep at the wheel and miserably failed to protect their sheep. The money you give (and have already given) will go to pay lawyers’ fees and the victims’ families who deserve justice.

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  24. Todd Wilhelm: I’m still waiting for Al Mohler and Mark Dever to retract their letter of support for C.J. Mahaney. Until such time as they do, Mohler’s written words against sexual abuse ring hollow …

    I’m still waiting for Al Mohler to take seriously the 2013 SBC resolution “On Sexual Abuse of Children.” While not named, the Southern Baptists who drafted that resolution had Mohler, Mahaney, and SGM in mind when they wrote:

    “We encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse”

    http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/1230/on-sexual-abuse-of-children

    I have a feeling that we will all have to wait for Mohler to be swayed from his mission to Calvinize the SBC at all costs. He appears to be untouchable at this point. Besides, Mohler is a big-time bud of Mahaney and Dever … his wife calls them “Al’s little play group” (which still creeps me out as I type those words).

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  25. Proffy: Leave and find a new church. This should not be a difficult decision.

    It’s amazing how many times we have seen church members rally to the side of church leaders who failed their obligation to protect children from pedophiles or committed immoral acts themselves! Such is the spell cast upon folks in a cult of personality.

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  26. Janet: One regulation stipulates that no man, at any time, under any circumstance, may take a child to use the restroom

    Indeed! We should never get so open-minded about this that our brains fall out!

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  27. elastigirl: we are so on gospel-target and so valuable to God’s kingdom that satan is singling us out

    Reminds me of Robert Morris’ statement about being on “Satan’s Hit List” … criticizing blogs and bloggers which “gossip” about Christian leaders. Brother Morris has confused gossip with truth. Praise God for watchblogs like TWW which inform and warn. For NewSpring members listening in, beware.

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  28. Dee:

    You need to do an article on THREADators — folks who stalk forums looking for a undefiled thread to mark with a “1” — kwim

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  29. senecagriggs,

    Are you trying to get a rise out of us. If a church cannot safely handle children then they should not have a children’s program? I said that clearly.

    My answer to what you just wrote is *And?* We are discussing a church which did not protect the children. Yes, we are all sinners. However, I can well assure that I, along with most people, do not molest children even though I am a sinner. Now maybe you are saying you have problems in this area??? If so, get help.

    I don’t get your point *kids are sinners.* So, if they are sinners, are you saying they are looking for it or maybe they deserve it???? Good night, Seneca-I’m coming to the end of my rope with you. Do you understand what you sound like? One more comment like this and you will be banned and you can go and *whine* about it.

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  30. “If Elevation was concerned about Hazlett, why didn’t they follow up to see where he went after Elevation. Sadly, it appears to me that they may actually have been glad that he *moved along.* How often have we see this in churches? ”

    This seems to be de rigueur for youth pastors messing with the youth group – there it seems to be motivated by wanting to protect the (generally speaking) man and their career. It’s certainly not about protecting kids.

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  31. Jo McLain,

    Max,

    Remember Darrell Gilyard??? ……. One of Paige Patterson’s favorite pet preacher boys???? ……
    A convicted pedo/sex criminal who served time and is now listed on the sex offender registry?????
    He is currently pastoring a baptist church and is involved in children’s ministry.

    The SBC elites are not going to do a thing ….. not now, not ever.
    (They might if some of their children or grandchildren were assaulted, maybe……)

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  32. Ken P.: Besides passing meaningless resolutions, the only thing the SBC can do about these issues is to throw out the churches involved. I would not mind seeing that happen.
    Unfortunately, nothing will happen.

    It would if the churches allowed women to preach. First things first, an’ a’ tha’.

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  33. Friend: My translation: This only happened because we are such good Christians that Satan attacked us. The problem has nothing to do with the flawed human beings in our church. It’s all those powers and principalities. Don’t hand Satan a second victory by letting our church fail over this! Remember, we’re under attack!

    And SATAN’s Minions — WITCHES and Bloggers and WITCHES — are Among Us to be Smelled Out! WITCHES Under Your Bed! WITCHES In Your Closet! They’re Here! They’re There! They’re Everywhere! BEWARE! BEWARE!

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  34. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): Remember Darrell Gilyard??? ……. One of Paige Patterson’s favorite pet preacher boys???? ……
    A convicted pedo/sex criminal who served time and is now listed on the sex offender registry?????
    He is currently pastoring a baptist church and is involved in children’s ministry.

    Raping kids: A Privilege of Pastor/Apostle/Anointed Rank.

    “Most Cults are started so the Cult Leader can (1) Get Rich, (2) Get Laid, or (3) both.”

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  35. Thank you for this!!

    Recently a FB friend insisted to me that clerical sex abuse could *never, ever* happen at her church (a non-denominational, staunchly Calvinist “Bible Chapel”), because the elders would not tolerate it. I don’t know what amazed me more — her hubris or her naivete’.

    I told her that was a dangerous attitude. I mentioned that predators gravitate toward naive, unsuspecting communities that believe “it can’t happen here.” That’s precisely why they target churches — because they can get away with it there!

    She wasn’t buying any of it. Maybe perps could successfully target everyone else’s church, she insisted, but not hers. Her church did everything right. It was the Church of the Pure and Perfect, apparently, and its all-seeing elders were on top of all potential problems.

    Um, OK, whatever. What could I say? Frankly, IMHO, if you think “it can’t happen here,” it probably already has.

    Churches cannot afford such naivete’, ignorance, and smug self-satisfaction. Not in this day and age.

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  36. cindy:
    Chadbert,

    The same practice happened at a Calvary Chapel we briefly attended.The pastor stated very strongly that children were not welcome in the service.

    That exact attitude put local SF Litfandom into its current death spiral. LASFS is now all the Same Old Faces (fewer every LosCon), mostly retirement age or older, going to funerals as well as litcons. Fewer and Fewer each year.

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  37. Chadbert: When Noble was the leader of New Spring, he did not allow children in the main service at all. That makes this case even worse for New Spring, if families chose to attend there, they had to put their kids in the care of the church volunteers.

    FEATURE, NOT BUG.
    (“Fresh Meat…”)

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  38. senecagriggs: BTW, children also suffer from sin. It is endemic through-out humanity.

    So it doesn’t matter if they are molested, or what? Three and four year olds are fairly innocent unless they’ve been exposed to abuses.

    Horrible thing to say on this thread, Seneca. Not a timely word at all.

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  39. TS00: One of the things I believe concerning the Weinstein’s, Cosby’s and Hybels’ in the world is that these men seem to be oblivious to the dangers of making a pact with the Devil.

    Captain Bonerhelmet begets Tunnel Vision.

    Anyone remember the movie Excalibur?
    Both Uther and Arthur (both Pendragons) to Merlin?
    “DO IT, MERLIN! WHATEVER THE COST!
    You NEVER say “Whatever the Cost” when magick is afoot.

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  40. Bridget: So it doesn’t matter if they are molested, or what? Three and four year olds are fairly innocent unless they’ve been exposed to abuses.

    Horrible thing to say on this thread, Seneca. Not a timely word at all.

    Anyone Remember Utter Depravity?
    Sin Nature?
    “Vipers in Diapers”?
    “You see a cute little baby — GOD SEES AN UTTERLY DEPRAVED SINNER!!!!!

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  41. senecagriggs,

    Because the church knows it is full of sinners, it should be even wiser than the world and have policies in place that can help protect people from the abuse that sinners cause. Sadly, it often doesn’t.

    The answer isn’t to close the church. The answer is to be as wise as serpents.

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  42. My church decided several years ago to run fingerprint and background checks on all volunteers in the children’s ministry, and to do it retroactively (not just for new people). This was after our children’s director went to a conference on child abuse prevention. Some of the older saints were offended that they couldn’t be “trusted”, and they are no longer serving. The decision was everyone, even if you had been in the nursery for 20 years. Nothing is a 100% guarantee, but we’ve done everything that has been recommended, and added extra eyes. We call them “ushers”. They guide people to the right place, but also let our security people know if someone looks off. We also have a six-month rule for all volunteers, and they have to interview with a staff member before they are assigned anywhere. New attenders are frustrated sometimes because they want to serve right away, but our response is that we want them to know the church and find their best fit.

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  43. senecagriggs: BTW, children also suffer from sin. It is endemic through-out humanity.

    I’m going to give seneca the benefit of a doubt here, maybe not deservedly so. Children do suffer from sin. He may be saying they suffer at the hands of predators’ sins all the time. We need to do our best to keep that from happening.

    If seneca is saying that “God sees an utterly depraved sinner” when we see a cute baby, then scratch everything I wrote in my first paragraph.

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  44. Nick Bulbeck: Ken P.: Besides passing meaningless resolutions, the only thing the SBC can do about these issues is to throw out the churches involved. I would not mind seeing that happen.
    Unfortunately, nothing will happen.
    It would if the churches allowed women to preach. First things first, an’ a’ tha’.

    But the issue of women preaching is important!

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  45. Robert,

    So, I was 15 years a cross-cultural missionary and I’ve been involved back home in a couple of church plants. Sometimes a church is either so corrupt or so discouraged that a fresh start with leadership or a merger is the best thing to do.

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  46. Robert: The answer isn’t to close the church. The answer is to be as wise as serpents.

    Good to be reminded of the words of Jesus: “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Jesus is telling his disciples how they will be treated as they fan out to spread the Good News. How would you apply this verse to the alleged sexual abuse of tiny children in a church?

    To me this is not just about the horrible things that happened to the children. The church leaders seem to be painting themselves as victims. Their words about not backing down seem designed to scare the upset parents into siding with them instead of “the enemy”—you know, Satan.

    WWASDD?*

    *What Would A Serpent Dove Do?

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  47. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): Remember Darrell Gilyard??? ……. One of Paige Patterson’s favorite pet preacher boys???? ……
    A convicted pedo/sex criminal who served time and is now listed on the sex offender registry?????
    He is currently pastoring a baptist church and is involved in children’s ministry.

    The SBC elites are not going to do a thing

    As I understand it, the SBC association where his church was a member disfellowshipped the church because of this. At least the locals, if not the elites, did the right thing. I’m gradually losing faith in denominational structures … perhaps it would be best to go back to the original model of doing church as outlined in the New Testament.

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  48. LInn: My church decided several years ago to run fingerprint and background checks on all volunteers in the children’s ministry, and to do it retroactively (not just for new people). This was after our children’s director went to a conference on child abuse prevention. Some of the older saints were offended that they couldn’t be “trusted”, and they are no longer serving. The decision was everyone, even if you had been in the nursery for 20 years.

    Yeah, I have to get refingerprinted ever 2-3 years at work (not with children). Can’t imagine objecting to this, but I would say objections are a red flag personally and accept it.

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  49. Jo McLain: The SBC has needed for a very long time a DATABASE where those who are clergy, staff or volunteers in SBC churches are reported if they are credibly accused, admitted to or convicted of sexual or other forms of abuse.

    Amen! It would also be good to list SBC member churches which exercise “discipline-abuse” … they could begin by listing all SBC churches that are affiliated with 9Marks. That way folks could steer clear of them, too.

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  50. senecagriggs:
    Wartburg friends.

    100 percent of the people who attend church are sinners including pastors/staff.

    We can continue to expect that they will sin.

    Not sure that is a reason to close the church however.

    BTW, children also suffer from sin.It is endemic through-out humanity.

    Which logical fallacy is this an example of? Red herring? Straw man? Something else?

    Sin leveling at the very least, equating small children to those who deliberately choose to abuse them.

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  51. cindy:
    Chadbert,

    The same practice happened at a Calvary Chapel we briefly attended.The pastor stated very strongly that children were not welcome in the service.

    Same thing at an OPC church we visited. Once.

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  52. TS00: One of the things I believe concerning the Weinstein’s, Cosby’s and Hybels’ in the world is that these men seem to be oblivious to the dangers of making a pact with the Devil. They should not be surprised when they get double-crossed and exposed in the end. There is no honor among demons.

    When the Devil is done working through you, he’s done with you … until he sees you again in Hell. The church was a healthier place when preachers used to remind folks of that from the pulpit. Pretty-boy pulpiteers don’t scare the devil much these days; it doesn’t bother the enemy when preacher-boys get up in the morning. It would be good to have men of God back once again leading God’s people, but those are a rare and endangered species in the 21st century church.

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  53. Friend: To me this is not just about the horrible things that happened to the children. The church leaders seem to be painting themselves as victims. Their words about not backing down seem designed to scare the upset parents into siding with them instead of “the enemy”—you know, Satan.

    I understand the ability to flip 180 in an instant play the Poor Poor Innocent Victim Pity Me Pity Me Pity Me(TM) and shift the blame is the most common characteristic of a Sociopath.

    Some guys I used to know call it “Shining his Stupid Ray on everyone” and/or “Mutant Superpower: Induce Pity”.

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  54. TS00: One of the things I believe concerning the Weinstein’s, Cosby’s and Hybels’ in the world is that these men seem to be oblivious to the dangers of making a pact with the Devil.

    “What Do you Want?”
    — “Mr Morden”, agent of The Shadows and Mephistopheles figure of Babylon-5

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  55. Max: It’s amazing how many times we have seen church members rally to the side of church leaders who failed their obligation to protect children from pedophiles or committed immoral acts themselves!Such is the spell cast upon folks in a cult of personality.

    I remember Boz T saying in an interview that in all his years as a prosecutor specializing in child sexual abuse, he had NEVER seen a church support the Victim’s side. Always “RALLY ROUND THE PEDO, BOYS! GOD SAITH!”

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  56. cindy:
    Chadbert,

    The same practice happened at a Calvary Chapel we briefly attended.The pastor stated very strongly that children were not welcome in the service.

    The imperative to keep children away from the main adult “worship service” would seem to conflict with Jesus’ imperative that children not be hindered from approaching Him. Perhaps the lesson to draw is that Jesus is not all that much present in the main adult “Worship service”

    ?

    Perhaps I am too cynical.

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  57. Preying on children at “church” is 100% preventable. Until this fact is acknowledged TWW will never run out of stories to cover. 100%!!

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  58. “Best efforts”????

    Not following basic childcare protocol is ther best effort?
    Not monitoring the videos is their best effort?

    Seriously? I’m this day and age?

    Their BEST efforts are a proven failure.

    I think they need to close their doors and walk away from ministry for they have proven they cannot care for people.

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  59. Samuel Conner: Perhaps the lesson to draw is that Jesus is not all that much present in the main adult “Worship service”

    A preacher might want to preach without babies crying and older children making noise. It could be challenging to preach about grownup topics such as adultery and deadly wildfires. However, totally barring kids seems awfully rigid to me.

    Besides, if they don’t go to church, where will kids learn how to sit totally still and stifle laughter?

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  60. Max: As I understand it, the SBC association where his church was a member disfellowshipped the church because of this. At least the locals, if not the elites, did the right thing. I’m gradually losing faith in denominational structures … perhaps it would be best to go back to the original model of doing church as outlined in the New Testament.

    You’re right about that. Gilyard’s church was disfellowshiped, but only after community (not SBC) protesters lined up outside the church. Even the “New Black Panthers” joined in the protests.

    Darrell Gilyard’s history of lies, abuse, crimes, and protection by the SBC elite speaks volumes to me on where the SBC stands on certain things.

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  61. Where there is prey, there will be predators. This is something I teach my team. Always assume that there will be those trying to access children. Always keep in the back of your mind one of your colleagues may not be as they seem . Always keep in the back of your mind your team leader (me) may not be what they seem. Always know who to tell if you are worried by someone’s behaviour, & go outside the organisation & to the top if you don’t know wh to trust in it.
    Those of us who work with kids owe it to them not to be naieve & always keep a corner of our mind that is aware that we may be working with a crafty paedophile no matter how much we like or trust them.

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  62. If it turns out any other churches had an inkling of what this creep was up to and they quietly sent him on his way to offend at another church, they are complicit in his evil and should be prosecuted.

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  63. NewSpring can claim that they took great measures to protect children, but the truth speaks for itself.
    14 children in 90 days of video footage?
    (does math)
    That’s – one per week – every Sunday. And chances are, Hazlett has been doing this for years.
    Holy Sh*t!

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  64. Lea: This seems to be de rigueur for youth pastors messing with the youth group – there it seems to be motivated by wanting to protect the (generally speaking) man and their career. It’s certainly not about protecting kids.

    And saving the pastor & church the embarrassment of being in the newspaper. What’s a few kids lives compared to that awful indignity?

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  65. So if we must presume child predators are in our church, and no amount of background checks will catch them (because, in the last post, it was mentioned that they will molest many times before ever being caught), we’re left with two options: follow the lead of some hardliners and have only one service where everybody from birth through near death attends, or cancel church services completely. #1 works fine if you’re a Gothardite. Otherwise you’re left with #2.

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  66. Mark R,

    By that argument, we should never let our kids out of the house, out of our sight, to stay over at a friend’s, etc.! As per comments above, there are a lot more things churches can be Doing to protect kids, rather than just Saying they are protecting kids…

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  67. Mark R: we’re left with two options: follow the lead of some hardliners and have only one service where everybody from birth through near death attends, or cancel church services completely.

    I would respectfully disagree. Abuse tends to happen in two basic church settings: those with an entrenched system for concealing it, and those with poor safeguards.

    Things that help:

    Background checks for all, done by an outside organization, renewed at regular intervals

    Seminarian training, including mandatory counseling and a psych evaluation before ordination

    Training for volunteers and paid staff

    Best practices for supervising children and taking them to the bathroom, etc.

    Windows in all classroom and office doors

    Open permission for parents to check on their children

    Appropriate building security

    Open processes in everything, so the church overall is a healthy place

    A readiness to call the police when crimes are reported

    A habit of using outside folks to help with security, accounting, and other functions, instead of having a hermetically sealed cabal of alpha male dudebros do everything except change diapers.

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  68. Friend: A preacher might want to preach without babies crying and older children making noise.

    Well, Jesus wasn’t worried about the kids. There was no Sunday school going on. The kids were all there. Preachers!!

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  69. Steve: Mark’s solutions work. This list doesn’t.

    Those two solutions are not solutions, although they might well come from a place of despair. The two proposals are more like a reductio ad absurdum argument. If we follow that line of thinking, we might as well make everybody move into a huge stadium with transparent seats.

    Humans can be ingenious in a good way too. We can reduce the risk of harm to small children. What do you suggest?

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  70. Bridget: Jesus wasn’t worried about the kids. There was no Sunday school going on. The kids were all there.

    No child abuse, only love. The key is that Jesus was there. If the hedge of protection for little ones comes down in a church, is Jesus there?

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  71. Ken P.: senecagriggs: BTW, children also suffer from sin. It is endemic through-out humanity.

    I’m going to give seneca the benefit of a doubt here, maybe not deservedly so. Children do suffer from sin. He may be saying they suffer at the hands of predators’ sins all the time. We need to do our best to keep that from happening.

    If seneca is saying that “God sees an utterly depraved sinner” when we see a cute baby, then scratch everything I wrote in my first paragraph.

    “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:15-17

    It does not appear that Jesus believed little children were Totally Depraved wretches, a demonic doctrine necessitated by Divine Determinism. We are not born sinners, but become sinners when we sin. We are born with flesh, which means we are vulnerable to fleshly appetites, which eventually lead all to sin, in one manner or another.

    Total Depravity, as described in Romans, is the result of an individual rejecting all that is good and true, and the resulting spiral down into unchecked wickedness. Calvinistic Total Depravity (born a sinner) is one of the distorted, unbiblical, doctrines that is necessary to Reformed Theology’s assertion that God arbitrarily predetermines and irresistibly regenerates only a select few, while all others were deliberately created for destruction. (I know, Barth and others have tried to re-image and redeem it, but it is difficult to deny the distinctive of this theological system.)

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  72. TS00,

    “Total Depravity, as described in Romans,…”
    +++++++++++++

    i haven’t thought this through carefully, but it seems to me that things like this are perhaps hyperbole — overstating things, to make a point.

    like my music teacher, overexaggerating a technique she is trying to demonstrate to help me heart it and see it.

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  73. Steve: Ever worked at a church?

    As a teenager, I was a sexual abuse victim in a church youth group. Does this give me enough standing to comment?

    I cannot live without hope. Worship is not compulsory in the United States. People have the power to walk away. People also have the power to do the hard work of facing problems and improving institutions instead of discarding them. If we closed down every organization when something bad happened, nothing would be left—including the family itself.

    My own church is fairly healthy although not perfect. I actively work to improve it. This is my right, and I accept it as a personal duty. I fully understand why other folks leave church entirely.

    I have also spent time in a country where all the churches had been closed or severely restricted in a long, bloody struggle. It was not an ideal society. Worship went underground, somewhat as in the times of Roman persecution. I’m sure you are not recommending that.

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  74. TS00: Calvinistic Total Depravity (born a sinner) is one of the distorted, unbiblical, doctrines that is necessary to Reformed Theology’s assertion that God arbitrarily predetermines and irresistibly regenerates only a select few, while all others were deliberately created for destruction.

    In that sense, Total Depravity really means Total Inability … it’s easier to toss out the free will of man when you think about it like that … which, of course, does not stack up with the whole of Scripture.

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  75. “Hazlett previously attended The Cove Church in Mooresville, North Carolina, another multi-site congregation affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.”

    From The Cove website: “At The Cove you’ll find a casual vibe where you are free to be yourself.”

    I was young and now am old, but I’ve always attempted to be a contemporary sort of guy; after all, Jesus is the eternal contemporary. But, there’s just something about “casual vibes” in a church which give me the heebie-jeebies.

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  76. I don’t agree that the solution is not to shut a “church” down when something like this happens.

    Nothing reveals the true intentions of an organization’s leaders than how they respond when they are found asleep at the wheel. This happened on their watch, and they are ultimately responsible. The members who like their ears tickled, who also are asleep at the wheel are just as culpable.

    But this church seems to be too concerned with $$$$, entertainment, & navel gazing to care about their own children! They are no different that drug addicted parents who shoot up and die in their car with their children in the back seat.

    There are not words to describe the horror of these acts. If this were any other kind of club the police would raid it and shut it down. But because it is a “church” the 501C3 status protects it? Bull Puckey.

    Anywhere this is found, imo, needs to be disbanded, dissolved, torn down, etc. They don’t deserve to be called a “church”. They have demonstrated that they have no clue as to what a church even is.

    Seneca: You have violated the “Prime Directive”. Apparently you are more concerned about this 501c3 than you are about the welfare of these children. Go away.

    The SBC, these “churches”, and the people who populate them should be in sack cloth and ashes. To say you are “gutted”, “grieved” or whatever are only code words and dog whistles to your followers. If they are truly grieved they should prove it! Own up to your failures and tear down the edifice to your own ego.

    Show the world just how gutted you really are. True believers will survive. But you leaders wont, will you?

    Leaders: Jesus puked when He heard about you.

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  77. Max,

    “But, there’s just something about “casual vibes” in a church which give me the heebie-jeebies.”
    +++++++++

    well, it’s manufactured. contrived. they put a lot of pre-planning and concern into looking relaxed and unconcerned.

    kind of like the guy with the “i-don’t-care” messy-ish hair style. it took him a lot of time, teasing, hair product, and caring very much to achieve that look.

    both are as plastic as the smell of a variety store.

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  78. Noevangelical: The SBC, these “churches”, and the people who populate them should be in sack cloth and ashes.

    Until genuine repentance breaks out across the SBC, there will be no reversal of these sad incidents, no revival of the denomination, and no spiritual awakening in its ranks. Instead of sackcloth and ashes, a once-great evangelistic denomination appears to favor leisure and entertainment these days … and God has sent leanness to their souls.

    Parents, keep your children with you in church … don’t send them to the nursery, don’t release them to “children’s church”, don’t entrust them to youth groups, avoid camps and retreats. The world is a different place than you grew up in … and sadly, the church is of the world in far too many places. If you think ‘your’ church is different, that it is a safe place, think twice … the enemy lurks in the shadows, he is not scared to go to church in its current spiritual condition.

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  79. elastigirl: kind of like the guy with the “i-don’t-care” messy-ish hair style. it took him a lot of time, teasing, hair product, and caring very much to achieve that look

    And that’s the pastor!

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  80. Noevangelical: I don’t agree that the solution is not to shut a “church” down when something like this happens.

    This has been misread throughout this thread (you’re not alone). Dee suggested shutting down children’s ministries in churches, not churches. Although, in my opinion, there is plenty of reasons to shut many churches completely down.

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  81. elastigirl: kind of like the guy with the “i-don’t-care” messy-ish hair style. it took him a lot of time, teasing, hair product, and caring very much to achieve that look.

    Primping in front of the mirror for five solid hours until that Spontaneous Grungy Messy look is Just Right.

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  82. Friend: As a teenager, I was a sexual abuse victim in a church youth group. Does this give me enough standing to comment?

    It makes you a Veteran.
    You’ve Been There, you’ve Seen The Elephant, unlike all Job’s know-it-all Counselors.

    I have also spent time in a country where all the churches had been closed or severely restricted in a long, bloody struggle. It was not an ideal society. Worship went underground, somewhat as in the times of Roman persecution. I’m sure you are not recommending that.

    You never know.
    American Christians have this over-Romanticized idea of Underground Churches and Persecution.

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  83. Headless Unicorn Guy: Primping in front of the mirror for five solid hours until that Spontaneous Grungy Messy look is Just Right.

    Driscoll was able to obtain his spiky hair thing in five minutes by slapping some grease on it and heading to the stage to do his potty-mouth preaching.

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  84. I would just like to observe that it is possible to believe in Original Sin without believing in Total Depravity. 🙂

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  85. I’m sorry for venting above, but this case just makes me sick… Those poor children and their parents. A child should never have to go through such a life altering experience. I think of the pain that they all will experience together in the future as this plays out in their young lives. I am truly sorry for them.

    And I know that God can heal their wounds, and will be at work in their lives. But for some, this will be the event that pushes them away from Him forever. I hope not.

    No one should make light of this situation. It’s not like some minor violation we are talking about here. It’s not some small point of the law. In light of all that Jesus said about children they should be quaking in their boots. But they (the pastor and leaders) approach it like something to be “handled”, like it’s a procedural problem or a flaw in their process. They are not even close.
    But I’ll bet it’s business as usual there. There might be something said in one or two of their services, but they will move on from it soon enough.

    If they allowed this to happen, they should be tattooed with it for life. When someone hears the name of their church in the future, it ought to be the first thing they think of and be steered away from it.

    Maybe it is time for a list of churches where this has occurred, along with the names of the pastors & leaders who let it happen, so that people can avoid them.

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  86. Noevangelical: Maybe it is time for a list of churches where this has occurred, along with the names of the pastors & leaders who let it happen, so that people can avoid them.

    Well, denominations are avoiding putting such a list together like the plague, lest they discourage nickels and noses from coming to their churches. The best resource for this information continues to be watchblogs, like TWW.

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  87. Friend: A preacher might want to preach without babies crying and older children making noise. It could be challenging to preach about grownup topics such as adultery and deadly wildfires. However, totally barring kids seems awfully rigid to me.

    Besides, if they don’t go to church, where will kids learn how to sit totally still and stifle laughter?

    I still remember vividly a fairly healthy child-welcoming church we went to before moving out of the area. A baby squealed in the middle of a sermon on the Psalm about making a joyful noise, and without missing a beat, the preacher pointed at that family with a big grin and said, “Yes! Exactly!”

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  88. Just to be fair, many non Calvinists also teach total depravity. And while some in the new puritan crowd teach total inability, and some teach we are all just totally evil, it wasn’t the original meaning.

    Lutherans, Methodists, and old style Calvinists see total depravity this way: total means every part of our being, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual was affected by the fall. Well, duh! They were. Depraved is not used in the way we use it now in American society. Perhaps today it would carry more the idea of damaged or imperfect.

    So we are all imperfect in every facet of our being, and the passage in Romans describes what happens if the Holy Spirit is withdrawn so that imperfection or depravity takes over.

    Not all reformed folks accept total inability. Some hold to prevenient grace, some to restraining grace, and some to other enabling grace views.

    These new hyper Calvinists think they are the only reformed folks. They aren’t. Many reformed hold to all 5 solas but absolutely do not hold to all 5 petals of the tulip. About all they agree on there is some form of total depravity (even John Wesley did) BUT believe Jesus has already dealt with that.

    Another way to look at it is this: without Jesus, we would all be toast with no hope since none of us is what we would have been without the fall.

    Don’t by the baggage of the hyper Calvinist hyper new puritans. Make them use the proper definitions of the terms. When you do that their systematic hyper theology fails in an epic way.

    Babies are not evil beings then, but yes, are born with a propensity for sin that will inevitably result in acts of sin as they reach the age to be able to do so. That doesn’t mean a crying baby is sinning or evil, although time will come when it will have words to express its needs and then throwing a crying fit will become sin at some point.

    If these newbies want to be Protestants, let them learn the proper terms and proper definitions. Do not accept and perpetuate their MISdefinitions, please. Just gives them ammo. If they use the phrase vipers in diapers correct their misunderstanding and misuse of total depravity.

    You will drive them nuts 🙂

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  89. Beakerj:
    Where there is prey, there will be predators. This is something I teach my team. Always assumethat there will be those trying to access children. Always keep in the back of your mind one of your colleagues may not be as they seem . Always keep in the back of your mind your team leader (me) may not be what they seem. Always know who to tell if you are worried by someone’s behaviour, & go outside the organisation & to the top if you don’t know wh to trust in it.
    Those of us who work with kids owe it to them not to be naieve &always keep a corner of our mind that is aware that we may be working with a crafty paedophile no matter how much we like or trust them.

    This sounds like a description of being wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

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  90. TS00,

    Interesting. I never thought about it that way before. New food for thought to chew on.

    Maybe God is not the monster our former hyper-Calvinist church taught us to fear, after all.

    I did not begin to break free until the cognitive dissonance got so strong that I couldn’t ignore it any more. The idea of creating people deliberately with the stench of sin so that a holy god cannot bear them (R.C. Sproul, “The Holiness of God”), and then to condemn them for what they were deliver created to be?

    And they call that love?

    “Mystery” is such a convenient word. I don’t think it means what they say it means.

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  91. Headless Unicorn Guy: You never know.
    American Christians have this over-Romanticized idea of Underground Churches and Persecution.

    I agree. And it’s probably for the same reasons that some American fundagelicals are obsessed with and comb the Scriptures daily for “Merica’ in Bible Prophecy”.

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  92. TS00: Total Depravity, as described in Romans, is the result of an individual rejecting all that is good and true, and the resulting spiral down into unchecked wickedness.

    Which Romans 1 expresses in the literary device of a Decline Narrative.

    With a Shymalan Twist Ending like the Prodigal Son’s; Romans 2 should have concluded with the expected ending of a Rabbinical Decline Narrative: “For these are the things which the Goyim do.”

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  93. Max: Driscoll was able to obtain his spiky hair thing in five minutes by slapping some grease on it and heading to the stage to do his potty-mouth preaching.

    I wish I could.
    The only foolproof way to keep my own hair from going crazy (as in Back to the Future Mad Scientist ‘do) would be to buzz-cut it, and I don’t like buzz cuts.

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  94. refugee: I did not begin to break free until the cognitive dissonance got so strong that I couldn’t ignore it any more. The idea of creating people deliberately with the stench of sin so that a holy god cannot bear them (R.C. Sproul, “The Holiness of God”), and then to condemn them for what they were deliver created to be?

    And they call that love?

    Maybe the love of an abuser towards his punching bags…

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  95. Bridget: This has been misread throughout this thread (you’re not alone). Dee suggested shutting down children’s ministries in churches, not churches.

    Good clarification. Several suggestions crop up in TWW comments about stories of abuse: close the program, close the church, close the denomonation, close all churches. The first duty is to protect victims. Then figure out which additional actions are warranted.

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  96. senecagriggs: 100 percent of the people who attend church are sinners including pastors/staff.

    Yay! I can stop being a sinner by not attending church! No sin, saving 10%.

    You’re an awesome sales person for apostasy!

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  97. On a more encouraging note, I made some truly righteous roast cauliflower and red onion tonight, using cajun seasoning and lime juice. More Wartburgers should try it.

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  98. Chadbert,

    @mitch I used to attend a church in Lexington,KY, where the pastor wanted no children in the auditorium. You know–don’t want any distractions from his “seeker services.” I was on the “First Impressions” Team. What a nightmare, having to escort families with kids out of the auditorium. What a FIRST IMPRESSION I made. Then I would proceed to the bathroom to bawl my eyes out for making families feel like criminals for having kids. I bet Jesus seemed really welcoming to them!!

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  99. LInn,

    Sure thing. I was just responding to the sarcastically presented idea that because there are sinners in the church, we should close them if we’re going to get all bothered about this heinous story.

    I agree—if an individual church is bad, sometimes the only recourse is to leave it. But the answer isn’t to give up on the entire church. The answer is for church leaders to be far more wiser about abuse than they often have been.

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  100. linda,

    “Not all reformed folks accept total inability. Some hold to prevenient grace, some to restraining grace, and some to other enabling grace views.”

    This isn’t accurate historically. None of the Reformed confessions teach prevenient grace, and all affirm a total moral inability to respond to the gospel apart from God’s sovereign intervention.

    You do have people like Wesley who hold to a form of total depravity but then affirm a prevenient grace that overcomes it just enough to restore our ability to believe. But Wesley wasn’t Reformed. Enabling, non-efficacious grace isn’t a historical Reformed concept.

    There are not doubt some people and churches within denominations such as the PCUSA or the RCA that would affirm prevenient grace. But at that point they are dissenting from the Reformed Confessions, such as the WCF, or the 3 Forms of Unity. Such persons should not be considered Reformed any more than a professing Roman Catholic who rejects the authority of the Pope and bishops should be considered Roman Catholic.

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  101. refugee,

    “The idea of creating people deliberately with the stench of sin so that a holy god cannot bear them (R.C. Sproul, “The Holiness of God”), and then to condemn them for what they were deliver created to be?”

    R.C. Sproul didn’t teach that God created people “deliberately with the stench of sin.” Moreover, he held to the Westminster Confession of Faith, which doesn’t teach that.

    Also, while you may not hold to Reformed theology, you still have the problem you identify in any system that says God creates people whom he knows will go to hell. He could just as well choose not to make them.

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  102. TS00,

    “It does not appear that Jesus believed little children were Totally Depraved wretches, a demonic doctrine necessitated by Divine Determinism.”

    The fact that Jesus blesses little children and invites them to come says nothing about whether he believed them to be sinners or not.

    “We are not born sinners, but become sinners when we sin. We are born with flesh, which means we are vulnerable to fleshly appetites, which eventually lead all to sin, in one manner or another.”

    Wait—so you don’t like total depravity, but you’re okay with God making us defective such that we will inevitably sin simply because we are creatures? How is that better?

    Total Depravity, as described in Romans, is the result of an individual rejecting all that is good and true, and the resulting spiral down into unchecked wickedness. Calvinistic Total Depravity (born a sinner) is one of the distorted, unbiblical, doctrines that is necessary to Reformed Theology’s assertion that God arbitrarily predetermines and irresistibly regenerates only a select few, while all others were deliberately created for destruction. (I know, Barth and others have tried to re-image and redeem it, but it is difficult to deny the distinctive of this theological system.)

    Reformed theology does not say that God’s choice is arbitrary. It says that God’s choice is not based on the person chosen. That does not mean it is not based on something else.

    But in any case, in non-Reformed systems, God still creates people whom He knows will certainly go to hell. I’m not sure how that is any better than the Reformed position.

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  103. Maria,

    “Then I would proceed to the bathroom to bawl my eyes out for making families feel like criminals for having kids.”
    +++++++++++++

    ok, dysfunction central. first, churches make you feel like only married with kids make you viable. second, oh you have kids? sorry, neither they nor you are welcome if we can see them.

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  104. Catholic Gate-Crasher: I would just like to observe that it is possible to believe in Original Sin without believing in Total Depravity.

    Being the semi-Voltaireian free-thinker I am, it’s also possible to categorically reject both propositions.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still firmly believe that Catholicism has dealt with and made peace with The Enlightenment era, and The Rights of Man far more constructively than has Protestantism.

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  105. refugee: “Mystery” is such a convenient word. I don’t think it means what they say it means.

    Have you ever heard the old George Carlin bit about attending a parochial school, “Class Clown”?
    Specifically, “Heavy Mysteries Time” when they tried to trip up the priest teaching the religion class.

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  106. Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    I would just like to observe that it is possible to believe in Original Sin without believing in Total Depravity.

    Though after reading a lot of these blogs, I wonder if St Augustine was on the right track with “Original Sin”. To me, it seems he was trying to formulate a theoretical underpinning of how “All Have Sinned” by postulating a hereditary descent from Adam. And his explanation became not only Fact, but subsequent theologians took it and ran with it.

    (I also wonder how much personal baggage — from his life as a Manichean horndog — leaked through into his theology, and subsequent theologians could have used better Discernment.)

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  107. Robert: in non-Reformed systems, God still creates people whom He knows will certainly go to hell. I’m not sure how that is any better than the Reformed position.

    Foreknowledge does not imply causation. That is a major difference.It is this point the causes me not to embrace Reformed theology. One perspective says an individual is screwed even prior to conception. The other leaves it up to the individual to make the decision.

    Calvinists need to acknowledge this difference. It’s huge. Have you read Roger Olson? He says it so well. He is worth the read even if you are a confirmed Calvinist. I read tons of books and articles-including reading all the way through Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Yes, the big one. My reading led me to realize that I cannot be a calvinist unless God swoops in and rearranges my brain.g

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  108. refugee: I still remember vividly a fairly healthy child-welcoming church we went to before moving out of the area. A baby squealed in the middle of a sermon on the Psalm about making a joyful noise, and without missing a beat, the preacher pointed at that family with a big grin and said, “Yes! Exactly!”

    A pastor should be a good enoughpublic speaker to roll with these things.

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  109. elastigirl,

    @elastigirl , you got it! Too bad the pastor got busted having an affair with his “executive pastor.” And, to boot, the pastor at our “satellite” church was ALSO having an affair. With one of my friends!! First Impressions my a$$!!!!

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  110. dee–how do you see the Lutheran position re those elected for salvation as any different from the Calvinists? To be honest you would make an excellent Methodist!

    Lutherans and Arminians are Reformed but not Calvinists.

    For the record, I agree as to foreknowledge and hold a corporate view of the atonement. Or in plainer English, I accept the Reformed (not the TULIP) stand but believe those elected and predestined are those “in Christ.” Unlike Luther, I believe we have free will to choose.

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  111. Robert–you need to do some research on Reformed Arminians. Historically, yes, Arminians were and some still are quite Reformed.

    Today’s crop of Calvinist want us all to believe only full TULIP Calvinists are Reformed, but that is not historically accurate.

    Reformed non Calvinists hold to the five solas, various parts or no parts of the TULIP, and come from streams other than Calvin and Geneva. But they very much are part of the Reformed movement and history.

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  112. Maria,

    “And, to boot, the pastor at our “satellite” church was ALSO having an affair. With one of my friends!! First Impressions my a$$!!!!”
    +++++++++++++++++

    apparently some churches smell more plasticky than a variety store.

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  113. Robert: But in any case, in non-Reformed systems, God still creates people whom He knows will certainly go to hell. I’m not sure how that is any better than the Reformed position.

    This is not quite true. There is also the possibility of ultimate reconciliation (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_reconciliation). I am not saying that this view has to be true, but there are forms of it that appear to be viable, and there are some bible passages that seem to support it. The bottom line is there is mystery in how God deals with eternity and we should not be too quick to insist that it absolutely has to be one way or another.

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  114. dee: I cannot be a calvinist unless God swoops in and rearranges my brain

    The Calvinist God only gets involved if the Calvinists themselves do a poor job scrambling the brains of their converts. “Is that what God said?”

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  115. refugee: Maybe God is not the monster our former hyper-Calvinist church taught us to fear, after all.

    I assure you he is not. That is why I left Calvinism far, far behind, after over a decade of allowing myself to consider they just ‘might’ be right. And oh, what a glorious, marvelous day it was when I kissed Calvinism goodbye forever! I felt like George Bailey, restored to the land of the living, but blissfully happy to be out of the cold, cruel place he had somehow become trapped in.

    Once again I was free to think of God as loving, gracious, merciful, deeply compassionate, and desirous of redeeming all lost sinners! Oh how marvelous is the true good news sent to us from the loving, longing heart of our heavenly Father. Even with the loss of friends and community, and the lasting void that has left, my heart sings with the restored knowledge of who God truly is. Each day my love and concern for others increases, as I recover from the years of critical condemnation of all who think differently than ‘us’. I count all worth giving up for the surpassing treasure of knowing the living God.

    It is the faulty teaching that is monstrous, not God.

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  116. Robert:

    “Not all reformed folks accept total inability. Some hold to prevenient grace, some to restraining grace, and some to other enabling grace views.”

    This isn’t accurate historically. None of the Reformed confessions teach prevenient grace, and all affirm a total moral inability to respond to the gospel apart from God’s sovereign intervention.

    You do have people like Wesley who hold to a form of total depravity but then affirm a prevenient grace that overcomes it just enough to restore our ability to believe. But Wesley wasn’t Reformed. Enabling, non-efficacious grace isn’t a historical Reformed concept.

    There are not doubt some people and churches within denominations such as the PCUSA or the RCA that would affirm prevenient grace. But at that point they are dissenting from the Reformed Confessions, such as the WCF, or the 3 Forms of Unity. Such persons should not be considered Reformed any more than a professing Roman Catholic who rejects the authority of the Pope and bishops should be considered Roman Catholic.

    This, at least, I can agree with. Many modern Reformed have no clue what their theology actually demands. They sit under teachers who keep ‘the scary stuff’, as Sproul put it, in the closet. This is what has allowed the Calvinist takeover of so many churches, as the vast majority of the members have no concept of the historical Reformed doctrines; which are not optional. You pluck off one petal, and you end up with a non-functional theological system.

    Nonetheless, the vast majority of modern self-claimed Reformed that I knew did not hold to historical Reformed Theology, and had been falsely assured by less than honest teachers that Compatibilism allows them to have their cake and eat it too. Not so.

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  117. Robert: Also, while you may not hold to Reformed theology, you still have the problem you identify in any system that says God creates people whom he knows will go to hell. He could just as well choose not to make them.

    This is simply a red herring. Minus meticulous divine determinism, God could not make people who could not choose to reject him and fit themselves for destruction. His choice was to make humans in his own image, genuinely free to think and choose rather than robots, with a predetermined number to be saved and the rest with no option EVER of being saved. It is impossible to make genuinely free men with predetermined destinies.

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  118. Muff Potter: Catholic Gate-Crasher: I would just like to observe that it is possible to believe in Original Sin without believing in Total Depravity.

    Being the semi-Voltaireian free-thinker I am, it’s also possible to categorically reject both propositions.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still firmly believe that Catholicism has dealt with and made peace with The Enlightenment era, and The Rights of Man far more constructively than has Protestantism.

    Agreed.

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  119. Headless Unicorn Guy: Though after reading a lot of these blogs, I wonder if St Augustine was on the right track with “Original Sin”. To me, it seems he was trying to formulate a theoretical underpinning of how “All Have Sinned” by postulating a hereditary descent from Adam. And his explanation became not only Fact, but subsequent theologians took it and ran with it.

    (I also wonder how much personal baggage — from his life as a Manichean horndog — leaked through into his theology, and subsequent theologians could have used better Discernment.)

    Robert: Wait—so you don’t like total depravity, but you’re okay with God making us defective such that we will inevitably sin simply because we are creatures? How is that better?

    I sense you understand more than you let on, and are simply playing the typical Calvinist word games.

    I do not believe God created nor cursed men to be evil, sinners or defective. He created fleshly (non-divine) beings, who had the freedom to choose good or evil. When men choose to walk without God, they will inevitably succumb to the deceits of the evil one via the temptations of the flesh. Sinners beget sinners, and the spiral continues, with perhaps a rare exception, such as Enoch, who walked with God and appears to not have suffered death. (The statement is a bit murky, so I’m not sure we can insist on that interpretation.) Thus, God, in his goodness and mercy, chooses to judge men based on their hearts, i.e., their faith in him, rather than how ‘perfectly’ they think and act day in and day out. He took sin out of the picture with atonement, so we could get on with rebuilding our relationship.

    God did not make men ‘defective’ – he made us ‘free to choose’. Men have freely chosen to reject the fellowship and wisdom of God, leading to a world in which no one can escape the ravages of sin, as we all live in societies built and inhabited by countless sinners. I will admit that I don’t have a perfect explanation of the alternative to Original Sin, (That’s okay, I don’t have a perfect explanation of anything.) and yet I reject the interpretation of historical Christianity. I just keep peering through that dark glass, hanging on tightly to the Spirit who promises to lead me ever further into an understanding of Truth, as I slowly let go of all my false programming.

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  120. TS00: I just keep peering through that dark glass, hanging on tightly to the Spirit who promises to lead me ever further into an understanding of Truth, as I slowly let go of all my false programming.

    And that false programming is what I perceive the Institutional Church has become about, if it was not always so. Charismatic, narcissistic idols using countless mind control tactics to program, manipulate and control people to whatever ends they desire. Whatever churches manage to exist and maintain the practice of loving, leading and shepherding the children of God, and spreading the good news to the needy, I am thankful for. I tend to think they are very few in number, and likely to be swallowed up like the rest.

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  121. TS00: When men choose to walk without God, they will inevitably succumb to the deceits of the evil one via the temptations of the flesh.

    Please take care not to paint all non-Christians as servants of the devil, incapable of distinguishing between good and evil.

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  122. Friend: TS00: When men choose to walk without God, they will inevitably succumb to the deceits of the evil one via the temptations of the flesh.

    Please take care not to paint all non-Christians as servants of the devil, incapable of distinguishing between good and evil.

    Actually, that is a depiction I totally reject, so I thank your for pointing out that this is how you took my wording. I was trying to point out that the ‘sin’ that we follow was not engineered into our genes, but was freely chosen, due to our God-given ability and responsibility to discern between good and evil. I also believe that this sort of ‘sin’ of the world, which was ‘taken away’ by the Son of God on the cross, is not what brings on the wrath of God. Nor is it the same as being a servant of the devil. I had a dear sister, who passed a few years ago from cancer, who was deeply wounded by the church and those within her. She was not ‘one’ with the church, but she lived a life that demonstrated her love for goodness, justice, mercy and kindness. IMO, that is what living ‘the name of Jesus’ is all about.

    In other words, I believe God judges men’s hearts, and what we call ‘salvation’ is not as simple as ‘naming’ the verbal name of ‘Jesus’, but of putting one’s faith in the goodness and faithfulness of God and proceeding in the radically altered manner this will provoke.

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  123. linda: That doesn’t mean a crying baby is sinning or evil, although time will come when it will have words to express its needs and then throwing a crying fit will become sin at some point.

    Certainly people do sin, but how old is that “some point”? A baby with needs, who knows a few words? The risk is that parents will engage in mind-reading. My former neighbor enthusiastically showed me her handy purse-size wooden spoon, which she bought to use on a toddler who had become “deliberately defiant.” Tiny children simply do not know how to act out of malice. My neighbor truly thought she was doing God’s will.

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  124. TS00,

    Technically, I would admit that I believe anyone can be, however unwittingly, a ‘servant of the devil’ at any point in which they resist the leading of the Spirit of God. Hence the ‘Get thee behind me, Satan’ Jesus spoke to Peter. He was not declaring that Peter was a fake, or a devil worshiper. But any moment we are seeking some will other than God’s we have made ourselves, in that moment, a servant of the powers of darkness. But I hope you see that this is far different from viewing anyone outside of the Institutional Church as a servant of the devil.

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  125. TS00: she lived a life that demonstrated her love for goodness, justice, mercy and kindness. IMO, that is what living ‘the name of Jesus’ is all about.

    What a moving story. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and insights.

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  126. Friend,

    And no, I do not believe that includes infants and small children. Note that when the generation that was led out of Egypt was forbidden from entering the Promised Land due to their wickedness, that those who were too young to be part of that rebellion were taken in instead. You would have to do some serious eisegesis to suggest that God ‘regenerated’ that second generation, and not their parents, thus making them (‘elect’) able to hear and follow him.

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  127. TS00: Whatever churches manage to exist and maintain the practice of loving, leading and shepherding the children of God, and spreading the good news to the needy, I am thankful for. I tend to think they are very few in number, and likely to be swallowed up like the rest.

    I have thought, for some while, that The Church in the US is in truth an underground church. Not in the sense that followers of Jesus are routinely imprisoned for their beliefs, right enough, but in the sense that if you really want to join a community that is following him, you have to look to the despised fringes of the professing church. Maybe that’s always been true.

    On paper the same should be true in the UK as well, but I think members of The Church may have it easier here, at least politically. Because religion is nothing like as big a business as it is over there, the counterfeit church doesn’t have as much influence. Though in reality, Jesus promised his followers that they would never have it easy.

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  128. TS00: this is far different from viewing anyone outside of the Institutional Church as a servant of the devil.

    Agreed. I’m just really tired of the casual game of Heaven Or Hell that many Christian folk play. More than once I have been called a “wonderful woman of God.” It makes my skin crawl. These judges do not know what I truly believe and do; and by including me, they are excluding countless others. Fortunately God is merciful.

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  129. Nick Bulbeck,

    I tend to agree with you. And, as a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool evangelical turned Calvinist turned independent, I’m still reeling from the shock. The typical solution offered is always ‘find a church’. To be outside of the church is to be a ‘heathen’. I am increasingly doubtful that I do or ever will belong in a hierarchical, institutionalized religious organization. Perhaps I simply resent being institutionalized. Or is it, as you suggest , that perhaps any real child of God does not belong in The Organization; and never have?

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  130. Friend,

    The thing that keeps me going is that young people are brilliant & worth it. Plus we will never know how much abuse we prevented & saved them from by being there, & doing the best we can. I deal with safeguarding incidents or risks frequently, & I suppose that knowing I deal with them to the best of my ability & teach the team to do the same is one of the routes out of despair. It also helps that I am not dealing with the worst of the worst – I really feel for the Police in Child Protection who have to watch child porn in order to identify victims & crimes…I would have a very short life in something like that.

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  131. Beakerj: The thing that keeps me going is that young people are brilliant & worth it. Plus we will never know how much abuse we prevented & saved them from by being there, & doing the best we can. I deal with safeguarding incidents or risks frequently, & I suppose that knowing I deal with them to the best of my ability & teach the team to do the same is one of the routes out of despair. It also helps that I am not dealing with the worst of the worst – I really feel for the Police in Child Protection who have to watch child porn in order to identify victims & crimes…I would have a very short life in something like that.

    Hear-hear!

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  132. Beakerj: The thing that keeps me going is that young people are brilliant & worth it. Plus we will never know how much abuse we prevented & saved them from by being there, & doing the best we can.

    Beautiful. Thank you.

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  133. Friend: My former neighbor enthusiastically showed me her handy purse-size wooden spoon, which she bought to use on a toddler who had become “deliberately defiant.”

    A Secular Wooden Spoon instead of one of those CHRISTIAN fiberglass fishing rod sections with ergonomic handgrip/hilt and accompanying Bible Verses? (I’m not making that up; Homeschoolers Anonymous blew the whistle on such purpose-built “Beatingware” a couple years ago.)

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  134. Friend: Agreed. I’m just really tired of the casual game of Heaven Or Hell that many Christian folk play.

    Which all too often becomes “ME SHEEP! YOU GOAT! HAW! HAW! HAW!” One-Upmanship.

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  135. Friend: Please take care not to paint all non-Christians as servants of the devil, incapable of distinguishing between good and evil.

    And the difficulty of “distinguishing between good and evil” when there is a lot of deception and confusion in the mix and/or a low signal-to-noise ratio.

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  136. Ken F (aka Tweed): The bottom line is there is mystery in how God deals with eternity and we should not be too quick to insist that it absolutely has to be one way or another.

    But then how can I be Absolutely Right and prove you Absolutely Wrong?
    — Paraphrase/corollary of Thomas Merton, “Moral Theology of the Devil”

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  137. Vicki,

    Oh my gosh Vicki!!! Thank God you were there to stop him at least in your church!! I so agree I don’t think Church’s should even have children’s programs. Why do we encourage children to be separated from parents I. Their spiritual development? I think jr/high school groups aren’t helpful either.

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  138. TS00: They sit under teachers who keep ‘the scary stuff’, as Sproul put it, in the closet … You pluck off one petal, and you end up with a non-functional theological system.

    Sproul was very critical of Calvinists who claimed to be 4-Pointers, who rejected the “L” in the TULIP (Limited Atonement). To them he said:

    “There is confusion about what the doctrine of limited atonement actually teaches. However, I think that if a person really understands the other four points and is thinking at all clearly, he must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic.”

    Well … Calvinism is a “logic” that 90+% of clearly thinking Christians have rejected for the last 500 years!

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  139. linda,

    Linda, if you reject the Reformed confessions, you are not Reformed. It would be like me claiming to be Roman Catholic and rejecting Roman Catholic teaching.

    If Arminians are Reformed, then all Protestants except Lutherans are essentially Reformed. It becomes a meaningless idea.

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  140. TS00,

    I do not believe God created nor cursed men to be evil, sinners or defective. He created fleshly (non-divine) beings, who had the freedom to choose good or evil.

    Welcome to Reformed Theology.

    He took sin out of the picture with atonement, so we could get on with rebuilding our relationship.

    Well, if he did that with all people, then I guess that makes you a universalist?

    God did not make men ‘defective’ – he made us ‘free to choose’. Men have freely chosen to reject the fellowship and wisdom of God, leading to a world in which no one can escape the ravages of sin, as we all live in societies built and inhabited by countless sinners. I will admit that I don’t have a perfect explanation of the alternative to Original Sin, (That’s okay, I don’t have a perfect explanation of anything.) and yet I reject the interpretation of historical Christianity. I just keep peering through that dark glass, hanging on tightly to the Spirit who promises to lead me ever further into an understanding of Truth, as I slowly let go of all my false programming.

    If there is no inherited fallenness, then we should expect at least one person to not sin. Yet you say that all eventually sin, except Christ.

    Scripture is clear that God made Adam and Eve upright. It’s also clear that none of their children are. Something happened in the fall that does more than make sin a mere possibility. It makes it an inevitability. You can’t read the Bible and walk away without some doctrine of original sin.

    That’s a nice thought, but you aren’t answering the question. The Bible specifically says that all have sinned (except Jesus)

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  141. TS00,

    This is simply a red herring. Minus meticulous divine determinism, God could not make people who could not choose to reject him and fit themselves for destruction. His choice was to make humans in his own image, genuinely free to think and choose rather than robots, with a predetermined number to be saved and the rest with no option EVER of being saved. It is impossible to make genuinely free men with predetermined destinies.

    That’s not my point. In a non-Reformed system, God knows which of his “genuinely free creatures” will choose him and which will not. God knows all future possibilities. God could choose to create only those genuinely free creatures who will choose him.

    Yet God chooses to create people whom he know will go to hell. That’s no better than the Reformed system.

    If I sell a gun to someone knowing for certain that he will use it to kill someone, then I am an accessory to murder and am morally culpable. That’s what happens in non-Reformed systems, only the gun is “genuinely free will.”

    The only answer for both systems is “I don’t know how God is not morally responsible for the misuse of free will, but I trust that He is good and is not responsible because He has told me so in Scripture.”

    You don’t have to be Reformed, but you do have to reckon with the fact that a non-Reformed system does not make God any “kinder” or whatever it is you want to preserve.

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  142. dee,

    Dee,

    Foreknowledge does not imply causation. That is a major difference.It is this point the causes me not to embrace Reformed theology. One perspective says an individual is screwed even prior to conception. The other leaves it up to the individual to make the decision.

    Foreknowledge may not imply causation, but it does imply that the decision was made before I even existed in time. If God’s knowledge cannot be falsified, then your choice is not free in the sense that non-Reformed people want it to be. The only way out of this is to deny God’s foreknowledge. The Open Theists have recognized this.

    Calvinists need to acknowledge this difference. It’s huge. Have you read Roger Olson? He says it so well. He is worth the read even if you are a confirmed Calvinist.

    I’ve read lots of Roger Olson. He doesn’t escape the problem.

    My main point here is that people are complaining that God predetermines who will go to hell in Reformed theology and how awful that is that God would be so mean. I understand the objection, and believe it or not, actually feel the weight of it. The problem is that in a non-Reformed system, God is no less “cruel.” We’re talking about eternal punishment here if you are an orthodox Christian, Reformed or not—and you are an orthodox Christian. In an orthodox, non-Reformed system, God creates people whom He knows will certainly go to hell. He doesn’t have to do that. No one is putting a gun to his head. Yet he still does that anyway. That isn’t any “less cruel” than predestination. We’re talking about eternity here. Forget causation. Once you accept God’s justice, it is not clear at all on the surface that hell is compatible with a loving God.

    Even if God doesn’t know the future a la Open Theism, he is still taking an awful risk that he’ll create people with the capacity to go to hell. The “loving” thing would seem to be not to create anyone at all. Again, we’re talking about eternal conscious punishment here.

    To put it another way, the problem of evil is still real and “unsolvable” for the non-Calvinist. At some point, all orthodox Christians, Reformed or non-Reformed, have to say that God is loving even though he can stop evil or not create people who will go to hell because the Bible tells us so and we believe the Bible even though we can’t put it all together.

    I read tons of books and articles-including reading all the way through Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Yes, the big one. My reading led me to realize that I cannot be a calvinist unless God swoops in and rearranges my brain.g

    Not a big fan of Grudem here. There are far better representatives of the Reformed tradition, and Grudem has a messed-up view of the Father-Son relationship. And I’m not really trying to make anyone here a Calvinist. I just want non-Calvinists to use better arguments. I don’t like it either when Calvinists say non-Calvinists deny God’s sovereignty. That’s a bad argument. It’s an equally bad argument for non-Calvinists to act as if non-Calvinistic systems get God “off the hook” for things like hell and moral evil.

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  143. Robert,

    I don’t have much time to debate this but you need to be able to express the difference between foreknowledge and making someone who has no free will. It is a significant difference. I do not believe that Good creates a person who is condemned to hell by God’s choice.

    Foreknowledge is not causation. Predestination is causation. The person is going to hell by the choice of God. This is simple matter of logic and I don’t think you are getting anywhere with this argument. Believe me, it has been tried ad nauseam and even most die hard Calvinist theologians would agree with the difference between foreknowledge and causation.

    Even your sell a gun to a person knowing he will kill someone doesn’t work here. Free will is understandable on a grander scale. God does not pull strings so we behave like Chatty Cathy dolls. Either He is the causative agent or we are., Scripture is clear-all men are responsible for the sin we see around us. My daughter’s brain tumor was a direct result of the Fall. God did not cause the tumor. The fallen world we chose over Him caused it.

    There is no ipso facto here. It sounds like a good argument to you but it’s not. Please read Roger Olson, if only to educate yourself on the difference. It is really important to argue something like you actually understand the theology of the other side.

    https://www.amazon.com/Arminian-Theology-Realities-Roger-Olson-ebook/dp/B001E95WXQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1544722262&sr=8-3&keywords=roger+olson

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  144. Robert: I’ve read lots of Roger Olson. He doesn’t escape the problem.

    In your opinion. I think he does and that you don’t understand the difference.

    Robert: The problem is that in a non-Reformed system, God is no less “cruel.

    To those who believe that each man would have a choice, He is less cruel. You do not appear to understand the difference since you have figured it all out. However, you have done that for yourself. You have not convinced me of the merits of you argument. I have read extensively on Calvinist theology. I even have a notebook in which I kept a running log on who had the best arguments.

    Robert: Forget causation.

    I can’t forget it. It is the crux of the argument even if you don’t think so.

    Robert: God creates people whom He knows will certainly go to hell.

    God created people with a choice. That is a loving thing to do. Man is then totally without excuse.

    I guess you will have to say that God did not predestine me to be a Calvinist because I have tried, desperately, and I can’t go there after all of my reading. Maybe He did so just to annoy Calvinists who have it all figured out.

    However, to reassure you, I am a Christian and I am not an Open Theist.

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  145. OK-We. need to wrap up the Calvinist discussion. It will go nowhere. It never does.

    This post was written to discuss the fact that there are predators in churches-all of them. Arminian and Calvinist churches. Lutheran and Catholic churches.

    My goal in this post is to try to save some kids, not have a food fight over Reformed theology. When we get to heaven, I’m sure God will slap us all upside the head for the way we treat one another when it come to Calvinism, creationism and politics.

    So if everyone wants to have one more comment, please have at it and then go back to the post and discuss how we can figure out who the predators in our midst are. If that subject is not to your liking, so be it. It is my hot button, hill to die on issue.

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  146. dee: When we get to heaven, I’m sure God will slap us all upside the head for the way we treat one another when it come to Calvinism, creationism and politics.

    A great George MacDonald quote on this: “Good souls many will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God.”

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  147. Robert: We’re talking about eternal punishment here if you are an orthodox Christian, Reformed or not

    The big question here is, “who gets to define orthodoxy?” Different groups make good arguments for why they should be the one to decide, but they cannot all be right because they contradict each other. So how do any if us decide which version of orthodoxy is truly orthodox?

    You seem to be assuming that eternal conscious torment is the only viable end for those who don’t convert in this lifetime. But many (certainly not all) orthodox church fathers believed otherwise. Gregory of Nyssa being perhaps one of the most notable.

    I used to be much more dogmatic. But the more I investigate church history the less tightly I cling to ideas that have not been nearly universally believed throughout church history.

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